Tag Archive | "motorola"

Moto G Has Turned Motorola’s U.K. Fortunes Around, Study Finds

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Turns out the ‘G’ in Moto G stands for ‘Go!’. Motorola’s well-reviewed sub-$200 Android handset has given Motorola an unexpected boost in the U.K. — a market where the brand had gone into near-total stasis. Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: Android Wear, Virtual Reality Headsets, And Popcorn Time

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It’s been an exciting week in the land of gadgets. Google revealed a version of Android built for smart watches, and LG and Motorola subsequently revealed their hardware to go along with it. A slew of virtual reality gaming headsets hit the scene, including one from Sony called Project Morpheus. And if that weren’t enough, we discovered the magic of Popcorn Time, for those of you who love… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Everything We Know About The Moto 360 Android Wear Smartwatch

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Motorola hosted a live Hangout with Jim Wicks, the lead designer of the Moto 360 Android Wear-based smartwatch, and the discussion started with the inspiration for the product and moved to its specifics. Motorola wasn’t yet sharing that much about specs and details for the hardware, but the smartwatch actually works as Wicks used it on camera, proving this isn’t just an ambitious… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Motorola Introduces The Moto 360, Its First Smartwatch Based On Google’s Android Wear

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Motorola is an early partner for Google’s new Android Wear smartwatch SDK, and that’s not surprising given that the company was Google owned until Lenovo began the procedure of buying it in January. The new Moto 360 has a round face, which is one of two options for Wear devices (square is the other) and features the “Ok Google” voice control highlighted by Google for its… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Lenovo To Keep Buying Companies Until It Owns Everything, Everyone

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Lenovo isn’t putting away its checkbook yet. The CEO of the Chinese PC giant said on Tuesday that the company will continue to acquire companies for overall growth. This comes as the company is closing two major deals. Lenovo recently purchased Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.91 billion. The company also picked up IBM’s server business for $2.3 billion, which seems only natural… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Motorola Confirms Development Of Another Smartwatch

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Motorola held a decided low-key press conference today at Mobile World Congress. It was a snoozer. But! But Rick Osterloh, Motorola SVP, confirmed that the brand is still working on smartwatch development and there is another one on the way. Motorola was in fact one of the first firms to attempt a smartwatch. Way back in the balmy days of 2011, Motorola released the Motoactiv GPS and fitness… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Phablets, Colorful iPhone 5c Drive Smartphone Sales While Android Remains The Outsized Giant: Kantar

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When it comes to sales of smartphones, Android is the green giant that continues to tower over the competition. In the last three months that ended in January 2014, the Google-developed operating system accounted for around 70% of sales across 12 key markets, according to the latest figures from WPP market research division Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

In comparison, its most credible rivals either fell further behind, or simply stood still: Apple took 22.1% of sales (down nearly two percentage points over last month); and Windows Phone was flat at 4.4%. A mixed bag of “others,” which includes BlackBerry but also legacy, discontinued platforms such as Symbian, accounted for the rest.

With Google’s mobile platform installed on 7 out of every 10 smartphones that consumers buy, Android seems almost impossible to beat. But with reports of even arch competitors like Nokia toying with Android devices, the question may no longer be which platform is dominant, but what the state of play is with OEMs building on top of that outsized leader.

Samsung continues to sit on the top of that pile. Kantar director Dominic Sunnebo tells me that in the last three months Samsung took 32.6% of sales across 12 key markets — up slightly from last month’s 32.2%.

But when you drill down into regional sales, you start to see specific manufacturers giving the Korean giant a run for its money.

In the case of Europe’s big five markets of UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, for example, Kantar notes that “Samsung’s dominance of this market is being eroded” — much as it observed last month.

“In Europe Android continues to move towards 70% share, and the real battle now is among the Android manufacturers,” writes Sunnebo. Samsung has over half of all sales at 39.5%, “but this is lower compared with last year.” In contrast, LG (6.9%), Sony (9.4%), Motorola (1.7%) and even new brand Wiko (2%) all are seeing growing market shares of sales — a trend that Kantar contends will continue with the launch of new devices at MWC this week.

Meanwhile, some notable things about Apple. iOS-based devices saw sales declines in a few markets, but surprisingly, the biggest of all was in the U.S., a country where Apple has traditionally been strongest. In the last three months in the U.S., sales of Apple handsets were down 7.7 percentage points to 38.9% of sales compared to a year ago.

But interestingly, Apple is also seeing something of a shift in terms of what consumers are buying. Whereas sales of its new 5s devices have been dominating globally, now the less expensive 5c is seeing a mini surge.

In one example — the very saturated market of the UK, where smartphone penetration is 70% and 86% of all handsets sold in the past three months were smartphones – Kantar says the 5s model outsold the 5c 3:1.

But with 5c sales picking up to become the number-three smartphone in the UK, now the ratio is 2:1. So: still outselling, but less so. The U.S. is seeing the same ratio, Sunnebo tells me, while Japan and Australia are still seeing 5s outsell the 5c at 3:1 and in China there are nine 5s devices sold for every 5c.

The China proportion, when you think about it, is not that surprising: there, Android completely dominates the middle and lower end of the smartphone sales spectrum, so if you are going to put the cash out for a premium iPhone, you are likely to go for gold. Or: in for a penny, in for a pound, as the British like to say.

Why the bigger shift to 5c? My theory is that now that the rush of early adopting iPhone 5s users have somewhat abated, the later wave is slightly more price sensitive, and that’s leading some to opt for the (ever so slightly) more economical model.

Something else that Kantar points out with the iPhone is that demographics and usage vary depending on whether you are a 5s or 5c user: in the UK, 74% of 5c buyers are female, versus 36% for the 5s. It notes that 5s users are also more inclined to use their handsets for “data heavy” uses like video and music.

In other platforms, Windows Phone continues to struggle in certain markets like the U.S. — where Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore today admitted that the company continues to see a “tough market” with consumers, and Kantar notes it took just 5% of smartphone sales in the last three months.

But in others regions like Europe its performance is more positive. Windows Phone’s share of sales in the last period was just over 10%, and it is the fastest growing platform in Europe, putting it ever closer to Apple — which is currently at 19% of all smartphone sales in the region.

What gets the credit for Nokia’s success? Budget phones like the Lumia 520, says Kantar, which have become something of a gateway device for new smartphone owners.

“Nokia has continued its successful tactic of sucking up remaining featurephone owners across Europe,” writes Sunnebo. “Even in Britain, where smartphone penetration is at 70%, there are over 14 million featurephone consumers for it to target. At some point Nokia will have to start making serious inroads into the smartphone competition, but for the time being its strategy in Europe is working. Crucial for Nokia will be its ability to keep low-end owners loyal and upgrade them to mid to high-end models.”

But just as low-end is one entry point, so are certain form factors. In China, where handsets and tablets are rapidly taking the place of PCs as a consumer’ main internet device, Kantar says that “phablets” with screens larger than five inches accounted for 31% of all sales in the last three months. Screens bigger than 5.5% took 9% of sales.

Sunnebo says that China is a standout in this regard. “Phablet sales across Europe and US have been gradually rising, but it’s China which is driving demand,” he writes. “Phablet owners are less likely than the average consumer to own a tablet, indicating that phablets are increasingly being used as the primary device to browse online in China.”

Just as colorful 5c handsets have apparently caught the eye of female consumers, phablets are also skewing “heavily to women” in China.

But it remains to be seen whether the phablet is here to stay. “It’s too early to forecast the long-term trends for China, but in Europe where the first wave of phablet owners are now coming to upgrade, over 40% are down-sizing to a smaller device,” writes Sunnebo.

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Photo: Flickr

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Inside The Revolutionary 3D Vision Chip At The Heart Of Google’s Project Tango Phone

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At the core of Google’s freshly announced experimental Project Tango smartphone platform is a vision processor called the Myriad 1, manufactured by chip startup Movidius and its CEO Remi El-Ouazzane. The chip is being used by Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects Group, retained in the Motorola split, to enable developers to access computer vision processing never before seen on a phone.

I’ve been talking to El-Ouazzane about the possibilities of the Myriad 1 and computer vision on mobile devices for some time. The way that low-powered computer vision systems like this will change the phones that we all use cannot be overstated.

The revolutionary part of the Myriad 1 vision processor? Power, pure and simple.

Most 3D-sensing platforms — like the PrimeSense chip inside Microsoft’s original Kinect — have a comparatively enormous power draw, usually over 1 watt. That’s orders of magnitude higher than what’s needed in order to make it a viable option for use in mobile devices, where power is always at a premium. The iPhone’s battery hovers around 1,500 mAh, which is many, many times smaller than is needed to power such a chip for any length of time. The Myriad 1 operates in the range of a couple hundred milliwats — making putting this kind of chip on a phone possible.Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 11.30.51 AM

Putting 3D sensing on a phone has been impossible up until this point purely because of this power issue. Now, it’s a reality.

Perceptual Computing And Vision Processing, Sitting In A Tree

When I took a deep dive into Apple’s acquisition of PrimeSense, everyone I spoke to about 3D sensing on mobile devices put it years away — because the power costs were too high. Movidius has leapfrogged ahead in the 3D-sensing market by manufacturing a ready-to-wear chip that has enormously lower power consumption. It produces over 1 teraflop of processing power on only a few hundred milliwatts of power.

This kind of low-power technology is integral to getting 3D sensing onto phones, and spatial and topographic contextual awareness is table stakes for the next generation of phones. Apple’s working on it, Google’s working on it and even Amazon is toying with it.

Perceptual computing encompasses the whole field of analyzing data captured with sensors and visualization systems like cameras and infrared light. Computer vision is one component of the field, which allows devices to ‘see’ the areas around it more like a human does — or better.

For more on what perceptual computing means for our smartphones, be sure to read that piece on Apple and PrimeSense. But for now, we’re interested in what Google’s ATAP group is doing with computer vision.

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The Power Of Myriad

El-Ouazzane was a manager of Texas Instruments’ OMAP division, now shuttered. He and the team at Movidius, which was founded by three Trinity College students in Ireland, have been working on the chip for years. The company’s board is also rich with experience — including Dan Dobberpuhl, who co-founded PA Semi, the chip design firm that sold to Apple for $278 million and formed the basis of its A-series processor efforts.

The Myriad 1 chip is based on custom architecture. If you’re not familiar with the way that chips are made — this is insane. Most companies work off of a standard architecture like whatever Intel is pushing or the ARM platform that Apple uses a modified version of for iOS devices. Apple recently started to use custom layouts for its own processors — but Movidius built its chips from the ground up.

Essentially, El-Ouazzane and his team came to a point in the chip’s development where they had to fish or cut bait. They could shop the design out to other companies with access to foundries, basing it on an existing architecture, or they could go full-tilt and build it themselves with no restrictions based on existing chips. And that’s what they did, raising around $50 million to date and going toe-to-toe with big boys like ARM and Qualcomm.

The Myriad 1 is a co-processor. You’ll be hearing a lot more about these kinds of side-car chips as phones get more powerful and more power-hungry in the future. Apple already uses one such co-processor — the M7 — which tracks and reports motion data to the main A7 chip. This enables your iPhone to record health-related activity data even while the system is idle — greatly conserving power.

The Myriad 1 works in a similar manner, processing vision data from the onboard optics to perform advanced calculation jobs that the CPU doesn’t know how to do without sucking down power.

What does this mean in practical terms? A chip that allows the phone to do things like motion detection and tracking, depth mapping, recording and interpreting spatial and motion data in 3D space. That power will be provided to developers in Google’s Project Tango program via APIs to let them integrate these things into image-capture apps, games, navigation systems, mapping applications and a lot more.

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Movidius and Google have put the power of a Kinect-like system into a practical phone platform for the first time, ever.

There are a variety of things that this could be used for, but one prime example is indoor mapping. A computer vision system backed by the Myriad 1 — and fronted by an optical system capable of depth perception — is capable of reading not just the size and shape of a room, but also all of the items in the room and treating them as discrete objects.

El-Ouazzane says that the strengths of the Myriad 1 lay in three parts. First, it offers your smartphone “intelligent vision,” which can read and interpret the real world via the camera. Second, it’s hyper power-efficient, making these kinds of systems viable on mobile for the first time ever.

This makes it ideal not only for smartphones, but also for being built into wearable devices. The applications for computer vision inside a device like Google Glass, for instance, are pretty staggering. If we pull the thread out a bit, we could be seeing Google enabling Glass wearers to map indoor environments in 3D just by walking around and looking at things.

And third, Movidius is offering tools for developers to tap into the Myriad 1 to develop new apps, which is pretty much the point of the new Tango platform. This is Google’s smartphone version of Glass. A platform for developers to experiment on to determine what the next era of computing will look like.

“I think it is safe to assume Apple is looking to experiment with the question: What does a world look like when our device can see and hear us,” Creative Strategies Analyst and Techpinions columnist Ben Bajarin told us about Apple’s PrimeSense acquisition. And the same is true with what Google is doing in this space. It already has one of the most advanced contextual computing offerings with Google Now on Android devices — and adding computer vision to its toolkit will open up massive doors for mapping the world and using that information to make it feel even more prescient.

For now, Project Tango will be rolling out to just a couple hundred developers, but that should expand into the thousands. And Movidius is shopping the processor out to other customers and software partners as well as Google. Soon, any new flagship smartphone will have a co-processor very much like the Myriad 1 and a system designed to capture and contextualize your surroundings.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Google Launches Project Tango Smartphone To Experiment With Computer Vision And 3D Sensors

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Google today announced Project Tango, an Android-based prototype 5″ phone and developer kit with advanced 3D sensors out of its Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) hardware skunkworks group.

Using its sensors, the phone doesn’t just track motion, but it can actually build a visual map of rooms using 3D scanning. The company believes the combination of these sensors with advanced computer vision techniques will open up new avenues for indoor navigation and immersive gaming, among many other things.

Starting today, Google will allow developers to sign up for access to these phones, but the first run will be limited to a hand-vetted group of 200 developers. Developers will have to provide Google with a clear idea of what they want to build with the device and the company expects to allocate all devices by March 14th, 2014. It will allocate the devices to developers who want to build apps for “indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.”

Developers will be able to write apps in Java, C/C++ and with the help of the Unity Game Engines. The company notes that the APIs for the phone remain a work in progress.

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“Project Tango strives to give mobile devices a human-like understanding of space and motion through advanced sensor fusion and computer vision, enabling new and enhanced types of user experiences – including 3D scanning, indoor navigation and immersive gaming,” said Johnny Lee, ATAP’s technical program lead.

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The idea behind Project Tango is to see what kind of applications developers will dream up for this technology. Google hopes that it can unlock new kinds of smart, vision-based applications based on the 3D sensing and vision technology that it has built into the phone. By giving applications an almost human-like understanding of space, developers will be able to create applications that simply weren’t possible before.

The phones are outfitted with a compass and gyros, just like any other phone, but in addition, they feature Kinect-like visual sensors that can scan the room around the phone.

It’s worth noting that the idea here isn’t to create Leap Motion-like, gesture-based interfaces. It’s about how the apps developers can create when they know exactly where a phone is in space.

In its announcement, Google asks: “What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building?”

Tango’s Sensors

Google is using Movidius’ Myriad 1 vision processor platform for Project Tango. For the longest time, embedding these kinds of sensors into phones was not just prohibitively expensive, but because it tends to be computationally demanding, they would also drain a phone’s batteries rapidly. The latest generation of vision processors, however, uses significantly less power, which was likely a reason why Google was able to go ahead with this project. You can read more about the sensors in our post here.

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The project was headed up by Lee, who previously worked on Microsoft’s Kinect technology before he left for Google in early 2011. Today’s announcement also marks the first public hardware release from Google’s ATAP group, which was one of the few units of Motorola the company decided to keep, even as it is selling off the rest of the company.

Besides Tango, the group is also involved in Project Ara, the modular phone concept that has received quite a bit of attention, as well. Google considers ATAP to be its “moonshot tech group” outside of Google[x] and its mission, as far as we can see, is to test advanced mobile technologies. The group is headed by Regina Dugan, a former DARPA director who joined Google in 2012.

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Updated: Google Hasn’t Paid $750M For A 5.94% Stake In Lenovo Yet

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[Updated: As Re/code notes, Google does not yet own Lenovo shares. Instead, the regulatory filing shows the number of shares Google might own if its agreement with Lenovo to purchase Motorola, which is still subject to regulatory approval, goes through.]

Google may pay $750 million for a 5.94% stake in Lenovo Group on Jan. 30, according to a disclosure on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The filing was made on the same day after Google announced that it had agreed to sell the Motorola brand to Lenovo for $2.91 billion, but will keep most of the handset maker’s patents.

Lenovo agreed to pay a total of $2.91 billion, with $750 million in ordinary shares, $660 million comprised of U.S. cash, and the remaining $1.5 billion in a three-year promissory note.

According to one of our sources, Google had wanted to sell Motorola for some time before striking the agreement with Lenovo because the handset brand has yet to live up to its purchase price, but had to hold off on selling the division for tax reasons. On the other hand, buying Motorola helps Lenovo build out its cell phone business. There were rumors in October that it had submitted a bid for BlackBerry, but was turned down.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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