Toshiba has announced it will sell a slice of its smartphone memory chip unit.
The company needs to raise funds after revealing a heavy one-off loss at its US nuclear power business.
Toshiba will unveil the size of the write-down next month, but some estimate it could be around $6 billion.
It is widely reported that 20% of the chip business will be sold off, and Toshiba is expected to confirm this later.
Toshiba’s chip business is the second biggest in the world after Samsung’s, and has been valued at between $9 billion and $13 billion.
The company says it hopes to have struck a deal by the end of March.
Reports suggest Canon, Western Digital and the Development Bank of Japan could be potential buyers, though analysts expect Toshiba may be forced to accept a cut-price offer given its financial woes are well-publicized.
Shares in Toshiba have fallen more than 45% since late December, when it revealed the problems in its nuclear arm, linked to a deal done by US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric.
Westinghouse bought a nuclear construction and services business from Chicago Bridge & Iron (CB&I) in 2015. But assets that it took on are likely to be worth less than initially thought, and there is also a dispute about payments that are due.
Toshiba has also reported “inefficiencies” in the labor force at CB&I, along with other factors driving up costs.
The damage to its finances threatens to undo efforts to recover from 2015 revelations that profits had been overstated for seven years. The accounting scandal led to the resignation of the company’s chief executive.
Since then, Toshiba has been trying to slim down the business, including selling its profitable medical devices operation to Canon in 2016.
Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong has been quizzed at the prosecutor’s office in Seoul as a suspect in South Korea’s biggest political corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.
Samsung is accused of giving donations to several non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend to President Park Geun-hye.
The donations were allegedly made in exchange for political support of a controversial merger.
The Choi Soon-sil scandal has led to President Park Geun-hye being impeached by South Korea’s parliament last month.
Image source Wikimedia
Lee Jae-yong told reporters upon arriving on January 12: “I deeply apologize to the people for failing to show a positive image because of this incident.”
Earlier this week two other Samsung executives were questioned by the special prosecutors, but were treated as witnesses rather than suspects.
The claims against Samsung circle around a merger between the electronics giant’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.
Prosecutors allege that Samsung gave €2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a company co-owned by Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for Park Geun-hye’s support for the deal.
Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, has already given evidence to politicians over the scandal, but this is the first time he has been questioned as a suspect by investigators.
At the parliamentary hearing in December, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors.
Jay Y. Lee also confirmed Samsung gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted.
Choi Soon-sil is on trial for charges including corruption and coercion.
President Park Geun-hye’s position began to unravel in October 2016, when details of her friendship with Choi Soon-sil began to emerge.
They included revelations that Park Geun-hye had allowed Choi Soon-sil – who holds no government role – to edit political speeches.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered every weekend in Seoul to demand Park Geun-hye’s resignation.
Park Geun-hye denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the way she managed her relationship with Choi Soon-sil, who also denies committing criminal offences.
The chairman of South Korea’s pension fund, Moon Hyung-pyo, has been arrested for alleged corruption acts involving Samsung and President Park Geun-hye.
State prosecutors said they raided the National Pension Service (NPS) chairman’s home on December 26, before arresting him on December 28.
The NPS is the world’s third-largest pension scheme.
Moon Hyung-pyo’s arrest comes amid President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment over the scandal involving her close friend Choi Soon-sil.
Image source Korea Herald
In the latest arrest, investigators are looking into NPS’s support of an $8 billion merger between two Samsung Group affiliates and whether Moon Hyung-puo used his influence as health minister at the time, to pressure it to back the deal.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare runs the pension service, which manages 545 trillion won ($451 billion) and was a major shareholder in Cheil Industries Inc and Samsung C&T Corp when they merged.
The NPS has denied previous reports that Moon Hyung-pyo pressured the organization to back the deal, and he told reporters on December 27 that he would cooperate with the investigation.
The scandal has also caught Samsung up in allegations that it backed foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil in the hope of receiving political favors, which investigators are also examining.
Politicians voted this month to impeach President Park Geun-hye – a decision South Korea’s constitutional court has six months to uphold or overturn. Until then Park Geun-hye remains formally president but stripped of her powers, which are handed to the prime minister, a presidential appointee.
Park Geun-hye denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the way she managed her relationship with Choi Soon-sil, who also denies committing criminal offences.
Eight of South Korea’s biggest businesses, including Samsung and Hyundai, are being questioned by parliament in a rare TV hearing as part of a huge corruption inquiry.
The companies admitted giving millions of dollars to funds linked to President Park Geun-hye, but denied seeking favors.
Samsung admitted to giving the daughter of Park Geun-hye’s friend an expensive horse.
Parliament is due to vote on December 9 on the president’s impeachment over her involvement in the scandal.
Massive protests have been held in recent weeks demanding the president’s resignation.
The executives are being questioned by a cross-party committee of lawmakers. The panel has no power to punish but its chairman has said the hearing is a place for apology.
One of the corporate bosses acknowledged that it was difficult for companies to say no to government requests.
Image source Wikimedia
“It’s a South Korean reality that if there is a government request, it is difficult for companies to decline,” said Huh Chang-soo, head of the GS Group and chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries lobby group.
The conglomerates all gave large donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close confidante of Park Geun-hye.
Choi Soon-sil has been charged with coercion and attempted fraud.
Lawmakers spent the most time grilling Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee. Samsung has been accused of giving donations in exchange for support of a controversial merger that effectively strengthened his position in the company.
Samsung gave a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations.
Like the other leaders, Lee Kun-hee denied the allegations, saying Samsung “never provided support or gave donations in return for something”.
However, he admitted that his company provided a one billion won ($855,000) horse to Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, a professional equestrian, and said he regretted it.
Lee Kun-hee apologized for Samsung’s involvement in the scandal and said his company would “take all responsibility” if there was any.
South Korea’s family-owned conglomerates, known as chaebols, have increasingly been perceived as a symbol of the out-of-touch elite, and have become a target of public fury in recent protests calling for Park Geun-hye’s resignation.
The president has apologized multiple times to the public for allowing Choi Soon-sil inappropriate access to government decisions but has stopped short of resigning.
Last week Parke Geun-hye said she would leave it to parliament to decide her fate, and on December 6 she was quoted by her party’s leader as saying she would accept the outcome of December 9 impeachment vote.
Samsung has reportedly stopped production of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone amid claims that replacement devices still have critical battery issues.
Reuters and Yonhap cited unnamed officials claiming Samsung had temporarily halted its Galaxy Note 7 production lines.
The move came as two the AT&T and T-Mobile networks stopped replacing or selling the Note 7.
On October 3, Samsung said it would also stagger shipments of the Note 7 to conduct in-depth inspections.
The South Korean tech giant issued a recall of the Galaxy Note 7 in September and assured customers last month that the fixed devices were safe.
However, there have now been several reports of replacement phones starting to emit smoke.
It comes after the AT&T and T-Mobile networks in the US said they would no longer replace the devices, while the latter said it would halt all sales of the phone.
“While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note 7 and exchanges for replacement Note 7 devices,” T-Mobile said on its website.
Meanwhile, AT&T said: “We’re no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents.”
It advised customers to exchange them for other devices.
Samsung said in a statement last month that the issue of overheating was caused by a “rare” manufacturing error that resulted in the battery’s “anode-to-cathode [negative and positive electrodes]” coming into contact.
But last week, a domestic flight in the US was evacuated after a replacement Note 7 started emitting smoke in the cabin. And a man in Kentucky reportedly woke up to a bedroom full of smoke from a replaced Note 7.
In an update on October 9, Samsung said it understood the concerns of carriers and consumers about the newly released replacement Note 7 devices.
“We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible,” Samsung said.
“If we conclude a product safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) to take immediate steps to address the situation.”
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users traveling by plane have been warned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) not to switch on or charge their phones when on board the plane.
The FAA also advised against packing the phones into any checked-in luggage.
Last week, Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after reports emerged of the device exploding during or after charging.
Qantas and Virgin Australia have also told customers not to charge or use the smartphone during flights.
Samsung has said that battery problems were behind the phones catching fire, but that it was difficult to work out which phones were affected among those sold.
The FAA said: “In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.”
Following Galaxy Note 7 recall, Qantas said on September 8 it was “requesting that passengers who own [the devices] do not switch on or charge them in-flight.”
The Galaxy Note 7 was launched last month and has been otherwise generally well-received by consumers and critics.
Some 2.5 million phones have been shipped globally.
Samsung has said customers who have already bought the phone will be able to swap it for a new one and that it would take about two weeks to prepare replacement devices.
The US trade group Airlines for America said it was “closely monitoring” the Galaxy Note 7 issue and that carriers in the US would make their own ruling over the use of the phone on board.
An Airlines for America spokesperson said in a statement:“Each individual carrier makes determinations, in compliance with FAA safety rules and regulations, as to what is permitted to be carried on board and in the cargo hold.”
South Korea-listed shares of Samsung Electronics were down close to 3% in early Friday trade.
Samsung Electronics has decided to recall its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone saying that battery problems were behind phones catching fire.
According to US and South Korea reports, the phone “exploded” during or after charging.
Samsung said customers who already bought Galaxy Note 7 will be able to swap it for a new one.
The recall comes just one week ahead of Apple’s expected presentation of a new iPhone model.
Samsung’s mobile business president Koh Dong-jin told reporters: “We have received several reports of battery explosion on the Note 7 that and it has been confirmed that it was a battery cell problem.”
The South Korean company said it would take about two weeks to prepare replacement devices.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy Note 7 has been launched in 10 countries so far but with different companies supplying the batteries.
Over the past days, several users had reported their phones caught fire or exploded while charging, and Samsung said it had confirmed 35 such cases.
The Galaxy Note 7 was only launched on August 19 and has since them been generally well-received by critics and consumers.
The model is the latest of Samsungs’ series of so called phablets – smartphones with very large screens and, in the case of Samsung, featuring a stylus.
Samsung also added an iris scanner to the Note 7, which lets users unlock the phone by detecting patterns in the eyes.
Sony has revealed a new edition of its virtual reality helmet Morpheus, which it says it plans to put on sale in 2016.
The new edition of Project Morpheus now features an OLED display, rather than an LCD one, letting it show more vibrant colors. That brings it in line with Facebook’s rival Oculus Rift.
The new virtual reality (VR) helmet is also capable of showing graphics at 120 frames per second (fps).
That beats the figure given by HTC for its recently unveiled Vive VR headset.
The frame rate is important as the higher the number, the smoother moving objects appear. It also reduces the risk of nausea.
HTC said on March 1 that its helmet provided a refresh rate of 90fps.
Oculus has not confirmed its specifications, but recent demonstrations of the recent Crescent Bay version of its kit have also been reported to run at 90fps.
Sony’s announcement is a surprise, because until now, the PlayStation console – which Morpheus depends on to play games – had not been thought to be able to render games at this rate.
However, speaking at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, PlayStation executive Shuhei Yoshida revealed that a software update would allow the machine to create an “in-between frame” to double its current maximum of 60fps.
“Higher frame rates are definitely important because they are going to translate into higher responsiveness of the gaming environment,” explained Brian Blau, an analyst at the Gartner tech consultancy who previously worked in the virtual reality industry.
“That’s going to mean people who are wearing the device aren’t going to feel as sick. 120fps approaches the range where you don’t notice the changes in the graphics – they will be smooth and fluid.”
Other details revealed at GDC include:
Morpheus now has a 0.018 second latency rate – the gap in time between the user moving their head and the headset responding. It was previously 0.04 seconds. Shuhei Yoshida suggested this meant the lag had now become imperceptible
The headset’s screen is now 5.7in – up from 5in before – and provides a 100-degree field of view, which should cover most of what the user sees
The number of LEDs used to track head movement has been increased from six to nine. Sony says this will improve the stability of the 360-degree tracking provided by its separate PS4 camera
A quick-release button has been added to make it easier for users to remove the headset
The screen resolution remains at 1080p high definition, providing 960 pixels by 1080 pixels per eye.
Shushei Yoshida said the current version was “near final”, suggesting there were further improvements to be made before it goes on sale, which is scheduled to happen within the first six months of 2016.
He added that more details would be unveiled at the E3 video games expo in June.
The release date is later than that of HTC’s Vive headset – a collaboration with video games publisher Valve – that is set to launch before the end of this year.
HTC’s kit is expected to be designed for games sold via Steam’s PC-focused Steam online marketplace, meaning it may not directly compete with Sony’s machine. PCs can generate higher quality moving images than the PS4 if fitted with special graphics cards.
Valve also released more details about how its VR system would work.
It said a tracking-system called Lighthouse would let users explore a virtual space and the objects within it from different angles by moving about in real life.
“In order to have a high quality VR experience, you need high-resolution, high-speed tracking,” said Valve’s Alan Yates in a statement released by HTC.
“Lighthouse gives us the ability to do this for an arbitrary number of targets at a low enough bill-of-materials cost that it can be incorporated into TVs, monitors, headsets, input devices, or mobile devices.”
HTC said it would allow manufacturers to build Lighthouse into their products without charging them a fee.
It also announced the Source 2 games engine – software used to create video games with 3D graphics – which it is making available to third-party developers.
The original version, which is 10 years old, was used to make games including Half-life 2, Portal and Titanfall.
Valve may provide more details about its VR platform later this week when selected GDC attendees will be among the first to try out the HTC Vive.
Oculus has yet to set a release date for its PC-connected virtual reality helmet.
However, Samsung already sells Oculus-branded VR kit that uses its smartphones as screens.
“I think 2015 and 2016 are going to be seminal years for VR,” said Sony’s Brian Blau.
“There’s a lot of products coming to market, which is going to mean consumers get to experience it in a way they haven’t been able to do before: at home and in high quality.
“Here at GDC, there are a lot of developers who are interested in VR.
“But the big issue is, will the helmets be affordable or expensive. The early adopters will probably pick one up and pay whatever price is asked, but a higher price will limit sales for mainstream gamers.”
Samsung is ending its laptop sales in Europe, the company has announced.
The move includes its Chromebook model, which had previously been one of the category’s best-sellers.
The South Korean company’s decision follows Sony’s announcement earlier this year that it was selling its Vaio division and pulling out of PC sales altogether.
However, other companies have recently reported growth in the sector.
Samsung signaled it might consider similar action in other parts of the globe.
“We quickly adapt to market needs and demands,” said the company in a statement.
Samsung is ending its laptop sales in Europe (photo Samsung)
“In Europe, we will be discontinuing sales of laptops including Chromebooks for now.
“This is specific to the region – and is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets.
“We will continue to thoroughly evaluate market conditions and will make further adjustments to maintain our competitiveness in emerging PC categories.”
According to analysts, portable PC sales will grow by 5.6% this year in mature markets, partly offsetting a decline in 2013.
However, Samsung does not feature in its list of the top five PC sellers, and it appears that rivals have accounted for what growth there is.
Lenovo recently reported a 17% rise in revenue from notebook sales in its April-to-June quarter compared to the same period the previous year. It claimed that made it the most popular laptop brand in 15 European, Middle Eastern and African nations.
Apple also posted a 13% year-on-year rise in Mac sales over the same three months, driven in large part by demand for the MacBook Air.
Samsung’s smartphones have also come under pressure in recent months.
Surveys indicate sales of Samsung’s phones have been overtaken in India and China by local companies Micromax and Xiaomi.
That resulted in the Samsung Electronics division posting a 20% year-on-year drop in its net profit in June and dozens of executives voluntarily handing back part of their bonuses.
However, in recent weeks Samsung’s soon-to-be-released Galaxy Note 4 large-screened smartphone and add-on virtual reality headset have both attracted warm reviews.
Samsung has unveiled its virtual reality headset Gear VR and Galaxy Note Edge, a smartphone whose screen bends around one of its sides.
The new kit was revealed at this year’s IFA tech show in Berlin.
In addition to the Gear VR and Galaxy Note Edge, Samsung also showed off the fourth standard version of its large-screened Note smartphone, which introduces an ultraviolet light sensor.
The announcements come at a time when Samsung Electronics is perceived to be on its back foot.
In July the division reported a 20% year-on-year drop in its net profit and dozens of executives voluntarily agreed to return part of their bonuses.
Samsung’s smartphone market share fell from 32.2% in the April-to-June quarter of 2013 to 24.9% in the same period this year, according to research firm IDC, despite the fact it has one of the biggest ranges of handsets.
By contrast, its Android rivals Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi and Motorola all made gains.
At IFA, DJ Lee, Samsung Electronic’s marketing chief, said his company was “focused on accelerating the speed of innovation” and promised to “never slow down”.
The virtual reality headset is the result of an alliance with Facebook-owned Oculus and acts as an add-on for the Galaxy Note 4.
It uses the phone’s 5.7in screen and speakers, and adds a focal adjustment lens – allowing it to adjust for near and farsighted eyes – and a variety of sensors to track head movements.
Samsung has unveiled its Galaxy Note Edge smartphone whose screen bends around one of its sides (photo Samsung)
Samsung said the machine would offer a 96-degree field of view, giving an experience similar to looking at a giant 175in screen from 6.5ft away.
The Gear VR will be sold with a microSD card containing a small collection of 360-degree videos and virtual reality games.
Samsung said the point of wrapping the screen of the Galaxy Note Edge around its side was to offer a new way to access frequently used apps and alerts, which would be useful at times when the rest of the screen was obscured by a protective cover.
It acts as a kind of scrollable dock or toolbar that can be controlled with a swipe of the thumb.
One expert suggested the functions offered by the Gear VR and Galaxy Note Edge might take a while to reach their full potential.
Samsung appears to recognize that of its new devices, the Galaxy Note 4 is likely to be the bestseller, calling it the “hero of the day”.
Galaxy Note Edge is the same size as its predecessor, but now features a “quad HD” screen with 550 pixels per inch, meaning it should in theory present more detail than most of its rivals.
Boosting screen resolution takes a toll on battery life, but the company was keen to promote that it had included “fast charging” technology.
It said the Note 4 would take about 30 minutes to bring its battery up to a 50% charge, versus a 55 minute wait for the Note 3.
Samsung said other changes included:
an improved S Pen stylus that provides “a more natural brush effect”
better noise cancellation to help make calls from loud environments
an improved fingerprint scanner
a higher-resolution front camera for selfies that is now 3.7 megapixels
The most unusual feature, however, is the inclusion of what Samsung says is the “world’s first UV sensor in a mobile device”.
The component provides users with a built-in way to track their exposure to sunlight if they keep the device outside of their pocket or bag.
However, Netatmo’s June – a bracelet that wirelessly transmits UV levels to connected smartphones – may offer a more practical solution for consumers wanting this feature.
A Samsung Electronics investigation has found “evidence of suspected child labor” at a factory of its Chinese supplier Dongguan Shinyang Electronics.
The South Korean giant tech conducted an investigation into the supplier after New York-based campaign group, China Labor Watch, accused it of hiring children.
The company has “temporarily” suspended business with the supplier following the investigation.
Samsung said that Chinese authorities were also looking into the matter.
A Samsung Electronics investigation has found evidence of suspected child labor at a factory of its Chinese supplier Dongguan Shinyang Electronics
“If the investigations conclude that the supplier indeed hired children illegally, Samsung will permanently halt business with the supplier in accordance with its zero tolerance policy on child labor,” Samsung said in a statement.
“Furthermore, Samsung will strengthen its hiring process not only at its production facilities but also at its suppliers to prevent such case from reoccurring.”
Samsung said it had conducted three audits on the Dongguan Shinyang Electronics since 2013, with the latest one ending on June 25 this year.
However, it added that “no cases of child labor were found during these audits”.
Samsung launched a subsequent investigation following the allegations by China Labor Watch and “found evidences of illegal hiring process that took place on June 29”.
This is the first time Samsung has reported finding evidence of underage workers at its suppliers.
Apple and Samsung have both issued alerts about faults on iPhone5 and Galaxy S5 handsets.
Apple has begun a replacement program for some of its iPhone 5 handsets that have a faulty sleep/wake button.
Separately, Samsung has revealed that some of its flagship Galaxy S5 handsets have been shipped with a non-functioning camera.
It said anyone who bought an S5 with a faulty camera should contact Samsung’s customer service or their mobile operator to get the phone replaced.
Samsung has revealed that some of its flagship Galaxy S5 handsets have been shipped with a non-functioning camera
Samsung said it had found a “very limited” number of handsets had been shipped with the fault. It said it had traced the cause of the problem and had taken steps to ensure it did not re-occur in future production runs.
“We have discovered that the issue has been seen in a very limited portion of early production Galaxy S5 units, and was caused by complications in the Read Only Memory component which stores the information necessary to operate the camera,” Samsung said in a statement.
Samsung declined to say how many handsets were affected but did say that the faulty handsets had been reported in the US and several other countries.
Apple said a “small percentage” of iPhone 5 handsets were affected by manufacturing problems that meant its sleep/wake button stopped working or only worked intermittently.
It said it would replace the sleep/wake mechanism in affected phones free of charge. To help customers it has set up a webpage on which they can enter the serial number of their phone to see if it is in the affected batch.
The faulty button is believed to affect iPhone 5 handsets manufactured before May 2013.
Apple’s replacement program begins in the US on April 28 and rolls out worldwide on May 2. Customers with affected handsets can either post their device to an Apple repair centre or drop it off in person.
Samsung has been criticized by the White House for promoting a selfie taken by Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz with President Barack Obama.
The picture was taken by David Ortiz on his phone this week and was re-tweeted by Samsung to millions of the phone maker’s 5.2 million followers.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president’s image should not be used for commercial gain.
Samsung representatives have not so far commented on the issue.
Samsung has been criticized by the White House for promoting a selfie taken by Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz with President Barack Obama (photo Getty Images)
Jay Carney said that White House lawyers were being consulted over the issue.
“Without getting into counsel’s discussions, I can tell you that as a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes, and we certainly object in this case,” he said.
Jay Carney declined to discuss how the White House had objected.
David Ortiz gave Barack Obama a special Red Sox jersey with the president’s name on it at the function on Tuesday and then persuaded him to pose for the smartphone selfie.
“I gave him the jersey, and the photographers were going to take their pictures and I thought, really at the last second, maybe I should snap a shot with my phone while I have the chance,” David Ortiz told the Boston Globe.
“You don’t get a chance to get a photo with the president every day.”
David Ortiz denied that Samsung paid him any more money for taking the photo.
Samsung has unveiled the Bendable TV, an 85 in (216 cm) prototype that allows the curvature of its screen to be adjusted by remote control.
The LED (light-emitting diode) set was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
LG has also announced a smaller 77 in (196 cm) flexible TV of its own that is based on OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology.
The firms suggest that a curved screen can enhance the viewing experience.
The tech would allow the sets’ owners to determine how bent the screens should be taking into account how many people were watching them and how far away they were sitting. The screens would have the added benefit of being able to be left flat against the wall when not in use.
LG’s model will go on view when its show floor booth opens to attendees on Tuesday.
However, industry watchers are unconvinced there is a market for such innovation.
Samsung has unveiled the Bendable TV at CES 2014
“The challenge for the firms is to demonstrate that the world really needs this,” said Martin Garner, a TV tech consultant from CCS Insight who is attending CES.
“They are, however, a nice attempt at differentiation.”
Neither of the two South Korean manufacturers have given a projected price or release date for the user-bendable TVs.
They both, however, offer versions with a fixed curvature.
The two companies are showing off new giant-sized 105 in (267 cm) concave-screened versions in the extra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio.
Samsung said such a design delivered the “most immersive viewing experience” possible.
However, a demonstration of the equipment went awry when it invited Michael Bay, director of the Transformers movies, on stage at its press conference.
Joe Stinziano, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics, told the crowd: “Welcome to Vegas, it’s a live show folks.”
Michael Bay later wrote a blog giving his take on the mishap.
“Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES,” he wrote.
“I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost.
“Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”
Samsung has unveiled Galaxy Gear, a smartwatch with color screen that can show alerts and can be used for voice calls and run apps.
The Galaxy Gear had been highly anticipated since the firm is currently the world’s bestselling smartphone maker and has beaten Microsoft, Apple and Google to unveil such a device.
Samsung called it a “fashion icon”.
However, analysts warned that a decision to limit the watch to working as an accessory to other Galaxy Android devices might limit its appeal.
Samsung has previously said growth in the sales of its handsets was slowing, so investors are eager to see if it can find another successful product.
The company unveiled the watch – which will go on sale from September 25 – at the IFA consumer tech show in Berlin.
“The introduction of the Galaxy smartwatch comes as no surprise to the industry, which has been expecting Samsung to beat the likes of Apple – as well as watch makers and other consumer electronics companies – to market,” said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at the consultancy Davies Murphy Group.
Samsung Galaxy Gear is being made available with a range of colorful watch straps
“Consumers might be a bit disappointed to find that the smartwatch is a partner device reliant on being paired with a Samsung Android smartphone or tablet, rather than being the completely autonomous device media and communications device many consumers were expecting and hoping for.”
The South Korean firm’s approach contrasts with that of Sony whose forthcoming Smartwatch 2 can be paired with any device running Android 4.0 or higher.
But one industry watcher said Samsung’s decision should not be a surprise.
“Samsung is trying to build its own ecosystem, so why do something that brings value to somebody else?” asked Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at tech advisors Gartner.
“Although the price of the Galaxy watch is high there’s not going to be great margins as there’s lots of technology going into it.”
The Galaxy watch will cost about $300 making it more expensive than Sony’s device which costs $185.
Start-up Omate is planning to release a watch in October that matches Samsung’s in price, but its device is set to feature a 3G chip meaning it can make calls and work as a standalone device.
Qualcomm has also unveiled Toq, a watch using the firm’s Mirasol color display technology which should mean better battery life than its rivals. It also links up to a range of Android smartphones, will go on sale next month at a suggested retail price of $300.
The Galaxy Gear features a 1.6 in (4cm) LED display, a 1.9 megapixel camera, a speaker and microphone, has four gigabytes of internal storage and a non-removable battery.
Samsung said the watch could be used as a way to make voice calls without having to take the phone it was linked to out of the owner’s bag or pocket.
Galaxy Gear comes preloaded with 10 different clock options and there will be about 70 apps available at launch including Evernote’s note-taking software, auction service eBay, the social network Path and several fitness programs.
Giant tech Apple has won a key patent case against rival Samsung at the US International Trade Commission (US ITC).
The US ITC upheld a 2011 decision which found that Samsung had infringed Apple patents in the production of mobile phones, media players and tablets.
The commission has ordered that Samsung devices affected by the ruling are banned from the US.
But that ban is on hold while President Barack Obama reviews the decision.
The President has 60 days to assess the US ITC’s findings, although analysts say he is unlikely to overturn the commission’s decision.
“We are disappointed that the ITC has issued an exclusion order based on two of Apple’s patents,” Samsung said in a statement.
“The proper focus for the smartphone industry is not a global war in the courts, but fair competition in the marketplace.”
Apple hailed the decision, placing it in the context of the tech giants’ global patent battles.
Apple has won a key patent case against rival Samsung at the US International Trade Commission
“With today’s decision, the ITC has joined courts around the world in Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and California by standing up for innovation and rejecting Samsung’s blatant copying of Apple’s products,” said the company.
The ruling applies to two patents.
The first is the so-called “Steve Jobs patent”, named after the company’s founder, which involves touch-screen technology.
The other patent is related to the audio socket on devices.
Four other patent infringements asserted by Apple were turned down by the US ITC.
Apple and Samsung have been fighting patent battles for years and across 10 countries.
The fight has escalated after Samsung overtook Apple last year to become the global leader in smartphone sales.
In Washington on Friday, a federal appeals judge heard testimony in a separate patent case between the two companies relating to a decision last year, in which Samsung was found to owe Apple $1 billion for infringing on patents.
That penalty was later struck to $450 million, but Apple appealed against the ruling. A verdict in that case has not yet been issued.
Separately, last weekend Barack Obama issued the first presidential veto in 26 years relating to a US ITC decision.
That veto overturned a ban on older models of Apple’s iPhones and iPads because of its “effect on competitive conditions in the US economy”.
Friday’s ruling is widely seen as a victory for the company.
“In a way. the noose is tightening. Apple step by step actually is gaining leverage against Samsung,” says Florian Mueller.
Samsung announces it has developed technology that could sit “at the core of 5G” – the successor to the 4G mobile-communications standard.
The Korean company says its equipment is capable of transmitting data at more than 1 Gbps across a distance of up to 2 km (1.2 miles).
It suggests the tech would eventually allow users to stream ultra-high-definition video while on the move.
However, one expert says the news needs to be put in context.
Prof. Rahim Tafazolli – who heads up the University of Surrey’s 5G research efforts – suggests that even if the latest development was used, it would only be “a small part of the larger jigsaw” of technologies needed to deliver 5G.
His words carry weight since his own £35 million ($55 million) project to develop a 5G standard is part-funded by Samsung.
Samsung says it has developed the world’s first “adaptive array transceiver” technology, an innovation that allows part of the super-high-frequency Ka band of the radio spectrum – at 28GHz – to be used for cellular data transmission.
Samsung announces it has developed technology that could sit at the core of 5G
The firm indicates its equipment, which features 64 antenna elements, overcomes a problem involved with using this frequency, which can cause the signal to weaken in rainy conditions.
“Samsung’s recent success in developing the adaptive array transceiver technology has brought us one step closer to the commercialization of 5G mobile communications in the millimetre-wave bands,” said Chang-Yeong Kim, head of the firm’s Digital Media & Communication Centre in Seoul.
A press release added that Samsung hoped devices based on the technology could be brought to market by 2020, offering mobile data transfers “up to several hundred times faster” than today’s 4G tech.
“As a result, subscribers will be able to enjoy a wide range of services such as 3D movies and games, real-time streaming of ultra-high-definition (UHD) content, and remote medical services,” it said.
Prof. Rahim Tafazolli stressed it would still be some years before the 5G standard was finalized.
His own team’s efforts were focused on transmitting data over an even higher frequency band in the radio spectrum, he added.
He also said it was not inevitable that whatever technology was agreed on would offer much faster data speeds, suggesting that finding a way for the next-generation system to cope with the expected growth in demand for mobile data use might take priority.
“Some of the companies are still putting too much emphasis on speed when discussing going from one generation to another generation,” he said.
“In my opinion 4G achieves a decent speed and what we need to do is crack the capacity crunch we are facing.”
Prof. Rahim Tafazolli’s work is funded by Samsung, Huawei, Fujitsu Laboratories and the UK government, among others. Alternative work is being carried out in Japan, China and elsewhere.
Developing the technologies involved in 5G could prove lucrative.
As an industry standard, its inventors would have to license the innovations involved to rivals, but they would be able to charge a small fee for each device that used them.
Discussions about which part of the radio spectrum to use will take place at the UN’s World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015.
Samsung Galaxy S4 has been launched last night revealing a last generation smart phone complete with a gallery of never-before-seen technology.
In a much-hyped public event, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S4 with an array of new features, including a few triggered with simply a wave of the hand.
The event at New York’s Radio City Music Hall – which featured a live orchestra, bubbly master of ceremonies and even a tap dance number – was streamed on Samsung’s YouTube channel.
Samsung Galaxy S4, which crams a 5-inch 1080p screen into body slightly smaller than the S III’s, will go sale globally in the April to June period.
Skinny but durable, the S4 is 69 mm wide, and 7.9 mm thick. It weighs just 130 grams, and is encased in polycarbonate.
The newest features involve different options for navigation. If the phone senses someone is looking at the screen, the user can tilt it forward or backwards to scroll up and down a Web page.
That feature falls slightly short of what some consumers may have expected after the New York Times reported that the phone would be able to scroll automatically by tracking readers’ eyes.
But what it can do is sense when it has someone’s attention. When a video is playing the stream will automatically pause if the person looks away from the device and it will restart when the eyes come back to the screen.
Texting while driving will be a thing of the past, as the smart phone’s voice recognition feature has the capability to dictate, reply, forward and save messages using only verbal commands.
The same voice recognition can be seen in the translator feature, which can understand nine languages.
Samsung has also made efforts to combat the issue of messy fingerprints, with a screen that now senses fingers hovering just above the screen, and applications that react.
The Mail application shows the first few lines of an email when a finger hovers above it in the list, and the Gallery application shows an expanded thumbnail.
Users can control some other applications by making gestures in the air above the phone.
In the browser, you can command the screen to scroll up by swiping from top to bottom a few inches from the phone.
The Camera application can now use both the front and rear cameras simultaneously, and can insert a picture of the photographer even as he or she is capturing the scene in front of them.
Samsung Galaxy S4 also has an erase feature, which allows the phone to take several pictures of a subject, then create a composite of the images to remove an unwanted photobomber.
In the US, Galaxy S4 will be sold by all four national carriers – Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA – as well as by smaller ones US Cellular and Cricket.
Samsung did not say what the phone will cost, but it can be expected to start at $200 with a two-year contract in the US.
JK Shin, the executive in charge of Samsung’s mobile communications division, promised the money would be well spent for a “life companion” that will “improve the way most people live every day”.
Samsung Galaxy S4, which crams a 5-inch 1080p screen into body slightly smaller than the S III’s, will go sale globally in the April to June period
Slightly thinner than its predecessor, the Galaxy S4 will go on sale next month.
The skinny but durable handset includes such special features as voice-recognition text messaging, translator software that can recognize 9 languages and an incredible touchscreen technology that toggles some features just by waving your finger.
It uses apps like Samsung’s WatchOn to bring on-demand video straight to the phone.
The cameras on each side of Galaxy S4 can be used in sync with each other, planting the photographer inside the photo he or she is taking. It also has an erase feature.
The phone also utilizes HomeSync, a way to store data on a cloud – and beam a photo across the world to be viewed on the home TV. Speaking of television, the smart phone can double as the remote
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4
Height: 136.6 mm (5.38 inches)
Width: 69 mm (2.72 inches)
Depth: 7.9 mm (0.31 inches)
Weight: 130 grams (4.59 ounces)
Pixel density: 441 per inch
Display: 1920-by-1080 pixels
Network speeds: 3G and 4G LTE Lite
Camera: 13 megapixel in back-facing camera, 2 megapixel in front-facing
Voice recognition: Can translate 9 languages and utilizes voice-activated tools that can dictate, reply, forward or save text messages
Built-in apps: Video chat; internet browser; Gmail; Google Talk, Google Play Store; infrared LED; Google Maps; YouTube
Processor: 1.9GHz quad-core processor or 1.6GHz octa-core processor
Internal memory: 16GB; 32GB; or 64GB
Other memory: Data stored in Samsung’s HomeSync – a household cloud service
Samsung is set to launch Galaxy S4, a device included its flagship premium smartphone range.
Galaxy S4 follows the S3, a handset that has sold more than 40 million units. The Galaxy handsets are seen as the closest competitor to Apple’s iPhone.
Analysts predict software that tracks where users are looking and automatically scrolls down the page as it is read, without it being touched.
There is also expected to be a souped-up camera and processor.
But crucial to Samsung’s future success, analysts say, is how the South Korean company plans to turn its strong position in the smartphone market into greater success with other devices such as tablets.
Prior to Thursday’s launch in New York, Samsung has unleashed a huge advertising campaign, including a series of videos involving a small boy tasked with looking after a “top secret” box.
Like the S3, Galaxy S4 is expected to run on Google’s Android operating system – but analysts are predicting some heavy customization from Samsung in order to give the device a more distinctive feel and, crucially, set it apart from its competitors’ Android-based handsets.
This is important, says Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza, if Samsung is to gain a higher level of loyalty to its device range.
Unlike with Apple, where a large number of iPhone owners gravitate towards the iPad when they decide to purchase a tablet, the same cannot be said of other brands, where customers more likely to mix and match.
“We will see more of a step towards more ‘stickiness’ towards the brand,” Roberta Cozza says.
“Already the Galaxy S3 can be seen as an alternative to the iPhone, [but] the integration that Apple offers with iPad is still not matched. Samsung is not there.”
The expectation Galaxy S4 will feature eye-tracking capability has been heightened by existing technology in the Galaxy S3 – the phone’s Smart Stay function stops the screen from dimming when somebody is looking at it.
Samsung is set to launch Galaxy S4, a device included its flagship premium smartphone range
Furthermore, the New York Times notes that Samsung filed for a couple of trademarks this year named “Eye Scroll” and “Eye Pause”.
Analysts also predict the standard array of upgrades – faster processor, better camera – and Roberta Cozza predicts we will see something of a small leap in a major area of Samsung’s expertise.
“I would think they will leverage some strength in display,” she says.
“Providing something on the display side that is different.”
Supposed leaked images of the phone show a device that is slightly bigger than Galaxy S3, but largely the same in appearance.
Another company relying on Galaxy S4 to follow successfully in the S3’s footsteps is Google.
Its Android software is used by more smartphone users than Apple’s iOS – but makes less money from apps and other related products.
Of the Android crowd, Samsung is streets ahead in market share, making more than 60% of all Android smartphones sold.
Some analysts believe this dominance could lead to Samsung looking at how it can assert far more control over the operating system – perhaps in a way similar to Amazon which, with its Kindle tablets, launched its own curated app store for its users to buy from instead of Google’s default shop.
As well as cutting out Google’s share of the app sale – a curated store also allows for applications designed specifically for a certain device, rather than the largely one-size-fits-all situation in the Google Play store.
Ovum’s principal device analyst, Tony Cripps, says Samsung needs to take these steps if it is to fend off the threat from other hardware manufacturers such as Chinese firm Huawei.
“While Samsung continues to grow its shipments impressively, the company undermines its own position in the broader ecosystem by providing Google a huge mobile platform from which to influence consumers, application developers and advertisers,” he says.
“It is very difficult for Samsung to achieve that level of influence itself while it depends on Google to supply device software and key applications and services through Android.
“Lacking a powerful ecosystem of its own clearly positions the company lower down in the value chain than either Google or Apple.”
With Apple suffering from a dipped share price, and a few recent missteps with product launches, the time is perhaps ripe for Samsung to pile pressure on the iPhone-maker.
“It is an important device for them because they have got to a point where they are competing head-to-head with Apple, creating a lot of expectation,” says Roberta Cozza.