Some thoughts on CES, rumors about upcoming flagships, announcements of new devices and expectations for 2015.
The current situation in the mobile electronics market reminds me a lot of a shark pool. Moreover, every year less food gets into this pool, and the appetites of predators only grow. If earlier they could afford not to pay attention to each other, now more and more often they collide nose to nose, trying to be the first to sink their teeth into a person who accidentally got into the pool.
Not everything is going smoothly in the mobile market either. There are fewer and fewer new users considering buying a smartphone for the first time in their lives. And old buyers for some reason are not at all eager to buy a new flagship a couple of times a year. Manufacturers of mobile technology are gradually beginning to forget about decency, increasingly demonstrating to others their goal – to maximize profit at any cost. Someone patents black rectangles, someone shamelessly copies ideas of competitors, someone does not hesitate to use black PR or pays for positive reviews on forums. It used to be possible to play noble knights without fear and reproach, strictly following their code of honor. And in difficult times, not to fat.
The shark is a pretty dumb creature. But she doesn't need a special mind – she has enough instincts. Sharks smell blood at a great distance and, without a shadow of a doubt, rush to the wounded victim. The presence of their relatives does not bother them, nobody will be trying to figure out whose prey it is.
Companies operate in a similar way. As soon as they smell the money, they immediately rush to the found 'feeder', without even trying to figure out whether it makes sense to fight each other for a tiny piece of meat, which is not enough for them even for one bite. Has someone released a smart watch, a selfie smartphone or a device with very thin bezels around the screen? Yeah, this is a new niche! You should definitely try to grab your piece of the pie as quickly as possible! There is no time to figure out who needs it and why and how it should work, the main thing is to quickly copy a competitor's solution. Once they bought it, they will buy it from us.
Sharks must be constantly in motion. To stop is to suffocate from lack of oxygen. A shark, perhaps, would be glad to stand still, think about its place in the ocean and how best to achieve its goals, but only physically it cannot afford such a luxury.
The same goes for any large company. No manufacturer can take a break for a year or two, calmly think about what is important to consumers now, and create the perfect smartphone without haste. Such a pause is tantamount to death. And companies are forced to rush forward at full steam, even when they begin to suspect that they have chosen the wrong path and are now rapidly rushing towards the cliff. Until the last moment, trying to churn out a couple of flagships a year and investing in empty advertising, even if all this only leads to new losses.
Sharks are also lone predators. They do not know what a pack is, and do not understand what is the point of caring for their relatives. The main thing is to have time to fill your belly today, and what happens there in a couple of years with all their appearance, nobody cares.
Something similar can be said about exhibitions like CES.
I will not talk about the exhibition itself – it turned out to be quite boring once again, and all more or less interesting moments are described in detail on MR. Much more interesting is what has been happening with such exhibitions for many years now.
Any company in any exhibition has a very specific interest – to recruit a new unlucky visitor to the army of its fans. Show him something that will make him remember the name of the company and, ideally, follow its further announcements. It is not at all easy to do this at large exhibitions like CES – similar products of many competitors are presented at a distance of a step, which often turns out to be better and more interesting in something. It's quite another matter – own event, which brings together journalists from all over the world. This is where the company, in any case, will act as the one and only star, and the annoying successes of competitors will not be an eyesore.
But, in my opinion, for a simple user, all this does not characterize the entire industry in the best way.
Not so long ago, even those who were not particularly fond of mobile technology followed the reports from CES and MWC. Anyway, sooner or later you will have to choose a new smartphone – and here you can immediately find out about all the interesting new products and plan your future purchase. And the time at the same CES was quite successful – New Year's holidays, there is nothing special to do, and even half of the usual Internet sites are not updated. And then there is at least something interesting, about which you can also chat with your friends, once again showing off your knowledge of modern technology. And it is proud to say that now everything, iPhone friend is already the last century.
These people would not have studied reports on a heap of different presentations throughout the year, but here they received a squeeze of the most interesting and funny projects right on a silver platter. Inevitably, they remembered the new names of the companies, which struck the attention of the branded 'chips', a couple of features of the new OS and an interesting design of smartphones. Many people come up with the idea of buying one or another device, go to read its reviews, discuss the proposed purchase on the forums.
Now there is nothing of the kind. It became boring to read about CES, to sort out a heap of disparate presentations – laziness. What's new there, most of the people are 'on the drum', there is no desire to immediately change their current smartphone to a new product. And studying the products of unknown companies is just wildness and a completely waste of time.
A lot of people can still tell about what any HTC Legend or Samsung Galaxy 3 is. But what is the difference between SGS4 and SGS5, or which budget smartphones came out in the last year HTC, only a few can tell. Smartphones are no longer something special – they are just a convenient technique like a coffee machine or a vacuum cleaner. And first of all, the manufacturers themselves are to blame for this, who diligently kill all interest in mobile technology among visitors to exhibitions and readers of specialized sites. And this will affect all companies, which will find it increasingly difficult to persuade the buyer to buy a new top-end smartphone. In the same way, it is problematic for manufacturers of household appliances to get people to buy a new model of vacuum cleaner every year.
Samsung is a prime example of this. Having presented the new premium smartphone Galaxy A7, the company immediately prepared a special infographic explaining how it differs from the recently released A5 and A3 models.
After all, for a simple buyer, all these smartphones look the same, and he does not see any special difference between them. The brand seems to be well-known, the design seems to be nothing – well, everything else to understand these incomprehensible indices. The fact that this is one of the thinnest smartphones of the company, that it has very good technical characteristics, or that, according to the manufacturer, it is specially 'sharpened' for the use of social networks, most buyers will never know. All these details are simply not interesting to the majority.
By the way, the characteristics of the novelty are as follows:
- Support for communication standards: 4G LTE Cat4 (150/50 Mbps); 3G; GSM; two slots for SIM cards (in the version with Snapdragon 615 processor)
- Dimensions: 151 x 76.2 x 6.3mm
- Weight: 141g
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 (4-core A53 1.5 GHz + 4-core A53 1 GHz; LTE DS / 3G); Exynos 5430 + M7450 (4-core A15 1.8 GHz + 4-core A7 1.3 GHz; LTE SS)
- Platform: Android 4.4 KitKat
- Display: 5.5-inch, s AMOLED, HD resolution
- Camera: 13 MP with autofocus and LED backlight
- Front camera: 5 MP
- Memory: 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of built-in, slot for microSD memory cards (up to 64 GB)
- Communications: Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n, Bluetooth v4.0, USB 2.0, A-GPS / GLONASS, NFC (only in LTE version)
- Battery: 2600 mAh
- Sensors and sensors: accelerometer, proximity and lighting sensors, electronic compass, Hall sensor, RGB sensor
- Others: 'Ultra Power Saving' mode, skin change support, private mode
Link to news
Link to news
Apparently, the changes will also affect the proprietary shells of the manufacturers, which they have been struggling to protect from Google for many years. You can say as much as you like that TouchWiz has a tasteless design, slows down even on top-end devices and is stuffed with a bunch of unnecessary functions. Practice has shown that few people pay attention to the opinion of 'geeks' and most buyers liked this shell. Until recently, no one cared about any jams there, when there were so many advertised 'chips', colorful effects and amazing 'fitch' in it. It is for the sake of them that many people bought themselves Samsung smartphones, putting up with even not the most successful design. And they honestly updated the flagship devices with new models, which outwardly resembled them almost one to one.
It looks like these times are coming to an end. And the impressive list of functions of the new version of the proprietary shell is beginning to attract the attention of buyers less and less. The main thing is that it is convenient to work and nothing superfluous interferes, and all sorts of special effects are the tenth thing.
If you believe the rumors, then at the private show at CES, Samsung showed a small circle of people a prototype of the Samsung Galaxy S6 with a new version of TouchWiz. As a representative of the company said about it, “We will try to get rid of any unnecessary functions, making our shell as convenient and understandable as the interface of Google Nexus 6.”
I personally like this intention of the company very much, TouchWiz for me is more a minus than a plus. But the move is still unexpected. Since when did Samsung preach moderation? And why did you suddenly become imbued with such touching concern for the interests of the user? Previously, the company believed that the brighter and more sophisticated, the better, and the rest will follow.
Link to news
Another large 'shark' company Apple continues to rush around the pool. Recently, the heady smell of big money has forced this company to take a number of controversial steps on the Russian market. For example, it is unreasonable to raise prices by trying to write off this on a change in the ruble exchange rate. Thus, the cost of applications in Apple AppStore doubled, amounting to 62 rubles. for the $ 0.99 app.
Apparently, the company realized that they had overdone it a bit, and backed off a little. Over the weekend, the app store rate Apple dropped to 59R for $ 0.99. The change is more symbolic, but not bad either.
Link to news
Another thing is that for Apple it is now much more important to figure out how and what to surprise customers with the announcement of a new iPhone. In recent years, everything was simple – the diagonal of the device increased, which by this time had really managed to 'become obsolete'. But what to do next?
Knowing Apple, it is easy to assume that they will show us some well-known 'trick', but they will remake it in their own way. They will make you take a fresh look at the long-known technology. Or, at least, they will try very hard to do it.
A special stylus that can digitize records applied to a variety of surfaces can become such a 'chip'. In any case, it is precisely such a patent that the company recently filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office. With this stylus, you can write on paper, a board, a tablet screen, or even just draw lines in the air. Sensors built into the stylus will determine its location in space and transfer the resulting drawing to the screen of a mobile device.
Link to news
Sony, another shark in the mobile world, has been struggling for a long time. In recent years, this shark has struggled to keep up with the elusive prey, releasing new flagship vehicles every six months and hoping sooner or later to hit a solid jackpot. Alas, all this time the company was chasing a mirage. And now she may not have the strength to go back and start all over again.
At CES, the CEO of Kazuo Hirai announced that the company is considering selling its mobile division or partnering with some other company. This is probably an alliance like the former Sony-Ericsson. I don’t know about you, but when I remember him, I’m still tempted to say 'Oh, what a company they ruined!'
Link to news
And also, remembering Sony-Ericsson, I would like to say that Sony has deservedly got into a puddle. Buying a share from Ericsson, someone thought that bright ideas and unusual devices could be replaced by smartphones of the same type with a resounding brand. And they really will happily buy them every six months – simply because it's Sony. Of course, this is not so – few people were ready to give a substantial sum for a slightly newer processor and a number of cosmetic improvements.
Many other well-known brands follow a similar path. For example, the same Samsung, which for several years has not been able to offer anything more interesting than updated hardware. And it’s very interesting how the company will act this year. Will they try to make the flagship smartphone really unusual, or will they again limit themselves to a slightly modified design and a new processor model?
For some reason, I believe in the second option more. Moreover, the flagship will have a chance to show off menacing-sounding characteristics. For example, the company MediaTek plans to introduce 10- and 12-core processors for mobile devices by the end of 2015. It's hard for me to say why they are needed, but the company calls them a real 'bomb'.
Link to news
One way or another, now popular manufacturers of mobile technology in the coming years are unlikely to expect easy times. The old guard is slowly fizzling out, new companies are preparing to replace it. This process will take not a year or two, but if giants like Apple or Samsung do not want (or cannot) change, then they will suffer the fate of Nokia. Moreover, a bunch of young competing predators are just waiting for the hour when Akela misses in order to immediately take his place.
First of all, these are companies from China, which every time try not only to release a slightly improved version of their last year's flagship, but to really surprise the buyer with something new and unusual. Someone bets on an interesting design, someone on a low cost, someone on unique functions or technical data of the device. And every year Asian companies are behaving more and more aggressively, not hesitating in a variety of ways to lure the audience of eminent competitors to themselves. First of all, releasing smartphones with a similar design, but more interesting technical characteristics or a lower price.
An example is the Oppo R1C smartphone announced the other day. Apparently, Oppo's reasoning was very simple. Maybe Sony will actually close its mobile division, but fans of the brand are not going anywhere anyway. So why not try to lure them to your camp ahead of time?
As you can see, the design of the novelty is made in the best traditions of Sony Style. Or, to call a spade a spade, it frankly copies Sony Xperia series devices.
The body of the smartphone is quite thin, only 6.85 mm, while it is covered with sapphire glass on both sides. In addition, it has stereo speakers, LTE support, two slots for SIM cards and a 13 MP camera based on the same Sony module – Sony IMX214.
The complete list of characteristics is as follows:
- Screen size 5 inches, resolution 1280×720
- Snapdragon 615 64-bit Octa-Core 1.5GHz
- 2 GB of RAM
- 16 GB internal memory, microSD slot
- Main camera 13 MP (Sony IMX214, aperture f / 2.0)
- Front camera 5 MP
- Battery 2 420 mAh
- OS Android 4.4, shell Color OS 2.0.1
The price of the device will be $ 403
Link to news
Another interesting novelty from Oppo is the Oppo U3 smartphone with 4x optical zoom. In this case, the thickness of the device is only 9 mm, although the camera lens protrudes slightly above the body.
It is also worth noting that the smartphone is equipped with an Asahi Kasei AK4961 audio chip and a Hi-Fi amplifier. And it comes with branded headphones.
The complete characteristics of the device are as follows:
- Screen size 5.9 inches, resolution 1920 × 1080
- Quad-core MT6752 processor @ 1.7GHz,
- Graphics accelerator Mali-T760MP2
- 2 GB of RAM
- 16 GB internal memory
- Main camera 13 MP, 4x optical zoom
In China, the device will go on sale this week, the cost is still unknown.
Link to news
There is no official information about the new ZTE smartphone yet, but there are very interesting leaks. If you believe the photos published on the Chinese resource Weibo, this smartphone will not have frames around the screen at all.
Apparently, the screen size will be around 5 inches. And the round button below the screen hints that this is the successor to the Nubia Z7.
A couple of years ago, I would definitely have decided that this is a 'duck'. And now I am quite ready to admit that this is really a real photo. After all, someone has to beat the Aquos Crystal X record?
Link to news
Hope 2015 will be an interesting year. Large companies have already realized that they will not be able to act in the same way as in the past few years. That it is no longer possible to continue stamping the same type of flagships. And I really want to believe that they will try to come up with something really interesting.