by Jin S. Kim
Reuters: Samsung’s 2014 second quarter operating profit is estimated to have fallen 24.5% Y/Y to 7.2 trillion won (US$7.12 billion).
[...] Samsung said second-quarter earnings would be hit by slower global smartphone market growth, competition in China, inventory buildup in Europe and the strength of the won, which appreciated by around 9 percent on average against the dollar during the second quarter.
What does Y/Y growth really tell you? I’d say, not much. 2014 is a different year with new challenges and opportunities. In three months Samsung made over $7 billion in operating profits; the company is doing something right. Are any other major brands making this much money? Apple, of course, but anyone else?
Chinese competition. Big names such as Huawei and Lenovo as well as lesser known brands such as OnePlus make high end smartphones that compete with the Galaxy S4 and S5 for much less. Take the OnePlus One for example: packed with high end components (a 5.5-inch 1920×1080 LCD, 13 megapixel f/2.0 camera, 2.5 GHz quadcore CPU with 3GB RAM, etc.) that outperform the highly touted and affordable $349 Google Nexus 5, but for $50 less, and for less than half the price of a Galaxy S5 ($660 at T-Mobile in the US).
If Samsung continues to compete on hardware alone the company will eventually lose to competition from China.
Marques Brownlee: A 4.7 inch cover glass made of highly transparent, paper thin, and scratchproof sapphire. Quite impressive, if true.
Reuters: Samsung SDI announced on Tuesday that the company will shut down its plasma panel production business by November 30, due to declining demand. I think the only company still manufacturing plasma display panels is LG.
Things that you wear are a wholly different proposition. There is almost literally no reason why we need collars on a shirt, frills on a blouse, pleats on a pair of pants (actually, there is no good reason for pleats on pants for men, at least until the winds of fashion decide the opposite), or any of the countless design details that make what we wear compelling to us as things that we want put on and walk out the door with. These things are designed from the outside in; they’re fashion first and goods second.
Almost all the stuff technology companies make are designed by how they work. And how they look follows from that. A good example is the modern post-1997 iPhone-like smartphone. How did almost all smartphones work before the iPhone? We used a D-pad or some other mechanism to navigate a desktop UI on a tiny display with a physical keyboard. Hence some ugly smartphones. After the iPhone? A large piece of multitouch glass was all that was needed to navigate a finger-based UI. And some beautiful smartphone designs followed. In some ways a smartphone is easy to design because how we interact with it is standard: finger(s) on multitouch glass. Designing a smartwatch might be harder.
I seldom wear a watch, but when I do I wear my nice watch, to impress. Folks who wear a watch for its function — time keeping — are those who don’t have smartphones or those who have specialized needs: rugged, solar-powered, atomic, etc. or the situation makes it difficult to pull out a smartphone. Of course some others simply like watches for their simplicity: glance at it and you get the time, and in some cases the date too. The design of a nice watch and the design of a functional watch can differ quite a bit.
I might get a smartwatch, but only if it can also serve to impress. Here are some of my preferences for a smartwatch that impresses: The watch face has to be simple with a classic dial, hand, subdials, and hourmarkers on a high-ppi display. The case can be square but the crystal needs to be circular, and made of sapphire. The case should be made of stainless steel or some other nice metallic material. Straps should be made of real leather. Pushers and the crown should be metallic objects with a solid feel when pushed or turned. And that means the LG G Watch nor the Samsung Gear Live will do. The Withings Activité looks nice, though I’d like to receive simple — very simple — notifications such as text and email.
There were other companies that designed (single, not multi) touch-based smartphones, but it was Apple who brought it to everyone with the iPhone. The Moto 360, LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, Pebble Steel, and even the Withings Activité all seem precursors to what a smartwatch should be. I wonder what those smart folks in Cupertino are up to now.
I prefer Samsung’s 1.63-inch AMOLED display, with its darker blacks and brighter whites, to LG’s slightly washed out 1.65-inch LCD. But since Samsung’s screen is slightly sharper (320 x 320 pixels instead of 280 x 280), all the touch targets are a little smaller and harder to tap. Using either one in bright sunlight is basically impossible [...]
Google should standardize ppi on Google Gear devices for a consistent user interface, touch targets for example. And a watch not usable in bright sunlight? No thanks.
CrackBerry: The BlackBerry Passport features a square display with a pixel format of 1440×1440. Unique, and perfect for Instagram.
The 360 has a big, round screen that goes completely edge to edge except for one small cutout at the bottom – that’s where the display drivers are, I’m told, and it was essentially an unavoidable design oddity.
It’s not small. It’s not perfectly round. And it’s an ugly permanent reminder of both.
Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy Tab S is the Best Performing Tablet Display that we have ever tested, not surprisingly with performance that is almost identical to the OLED Galaxy S5 Smartphone that we recently tested and found to be the Best Performing Smartphone Display. The Galaxy Tab S establishes new records for best Tablet display performance in: Highest Color Accuracy, Infinite Contrast Ratio, Lowest Screen Reflectance, and smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle. Both Galaxy Tab S models offer Quad HD 2560×1600 pixel displays (with 287 to 361 pixels per inch), currently the highest for Tablets, with 4.1 Mega Pixels, double the number on your HDTV. Where the Galaxy Tab S does very well but does not break performance records is in maximum display Brightness – the current record holder for Tablets is the Nokia Lumia 2520 with 684 nits, while the Tab S has 546 nits with Automatic Brightness On and 415 nits under manual Brightness (10 percent lower for mixed content with 50 percent Average Picture Level APL and 25 percent lower for an all white screen). High screen Brightness is only needed for High Ambient Light, so turning Automatic Brightness On will provide better screen visibility and also a longer battery running time. Its record low Screen Reflectance of 4.7 percent further improves the effective screen Brightness, resulting in a very high Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light with Automatic Brightness On.
The OLED display incorporated in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S displaces the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX as the top performing tablet display. The 9.7-inch IPS LCD used in the iPad Air is bumped down to number three.
Wonderful photos. Some of these photos would not have been taken if not for an iPhone, a camera you always have with you.