Walmart entering the low-end tablet market as Google looks to exit

Walmart entering the low-end tablet market as Google looks to exit

Walmart is joining the ranks of the tablet market, which comes at a time when some device owners are balking at the increasing price points for smartphones. This tablet, which will have a price point that is very friendly with cash strapped consumers associated with our Middle-class Squeeze investing theme, leverages Chinese manufacturing and the Android operating system. Odds are this means the key differentiator in a crowded Android playing field for Walmart’s tablet will be the price. This helps explain why Google is pulling engineers off its tablet team, but with Apple looking to tie its streaming video service to its tablets and other iOS devices, one has to wonder if those rumors of a Walmart streaming video service that would tap our Digital Lifestyle theme have any truth to them?

Walmart Inc. is moving into iPad territory.

The world’s largest retailer plans to introduce an inexpensive, kid-friendly tablet computer under its ONN store brand, part of a broader redesign of its electronics department. The device will be made by a Chinese supplier and run on Google’s Android operating system, according to photos found on a database of wireless product applications filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

After spending last year overhauling its apparel offering, Walmart will make electronics and home goods a focus this year, according to presentations given by senior management at a recent meeting of the company’s suppliers. Rival Target Corp. last year introduced its first consumer electronics store brand, called Heyday, with products including headphones and smartphone cases. The demise of technology-focused retailers like Circuit City has opened up opportunities for other chains to grab gadget sales.

Source: Walmart (WMT) Readies Low-Priced Rival to Apple (AAPL) iPad – Bloomberg

China accounted for nearly half of app downloads in 2018

China accounted for nearly half of app downloads in 2018

It’s not only the pace of the smartphone market that is slowing here in the US, so is the rate at which we are downloading apps even though Apple’s App Store and Google Play remain dominant platforms. A new report shows that China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia are the driving force behind app downloads and app-related revenue growth, which likely reflects the deployment of 4G networks and the adoption of smartphones. No wonder Apple is keen on cracking China and India. To us, this is our Rise of the New Middle-class investing theme intermingling with our Digital Lifestyle theme.

Global app downloads topped 194 billion in 2018, up 35 percent from 2016, according to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile 2019” report released today. Consumer spending across app stores was up 75 percent to reach $101 billion. The report, which analyzes trends across iOS, Android and the third-party Android stores in China combined, follows the company’s earlier report released at year-end, which looked at downloads and spending across just iOS and Google Play.

According to the “State of Mobile” report, China accounted for nearly 50 percent of total downloads in 2018 across iOS and the third-party stores, despite the slowdown related to a nine-month game license freeze in the country. China also accounted for nearly 40 percent of consumer spending in 2018.

Emerging markets played a role in fueling downloads, as well, accounting for three out of the top five markets for downloads (India, Brazil and Indonesia). Download growth in the U.S., meanwhile, has slowed.

Developing markets played little role in consumer spend, however. Instead, the countries contributing the most on that front were (in order): China, the U.S., Japan, South Korea and the U.K.

It found that Chinese mobile gaming giant Tencent was the global leader for overall revenue across iOS and Android, not counting the third-party Android app stores. It was also the leader in game revenue. Tencent topped the non-game app chart for 2018, too, with its Tencent Video app clocking in at No. 3.

Source: China accounted for nearly half of app downloads in 2018, 40% of consumer spend | TechCrunch

Amazon’s stealth play for Alexa – the car

Amazon’s stealth play for Alexa – the car

We at Tematica have shared our view that Amazon (AMZN)is the innovator to watch as it continues to disrupt exisitng business models. Amazon is not always successful as evidenced by its flopping in the smartphone market, but like any true innovator they keep working at it and sometimes that means outflanking a competitor where they least expect it. Despite all the talk of Apple’s (AAPL) CarPlay and Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Android Auto, it’s Amazon that continues to expand its footing in the automotive market with Alexa. As Alexa’s reach is expanded from smart speakers by Amazon as well as third party ones from Sonos, it is moving beyond that and penetrating the appliance and automotive markets with Apple and Alphabet yet to catch up. Once again, Amazon is out innovating the disruptors, making Alexa an even stickier part of our lives with linkages to Nissan, BMW and others.

Nissan owners will soon be able to access their car by asking Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa to unlock the vehicle for them.Certain Nissan models made between 2016 and 2018 will be equipped with the technology that will allow drivers to tell Alexa to carry out tasks such as flashing the lights, unlocking the car remotely and honking the horn.

It works in vehicles that have NissanConnect Services’s telematics system, the Japanese manufacturer’s in-car software. Users will need a subscription to this.Later this month, users can download a new Alexa skill called NissanConnect Services in the Amazon Skills Store.

Amazon has been striking deals with automakers to bring Alexa to cars. Last month, BMW said Alexa capabilities will be in some of its cars from 2018.

Source: Amazon Alexa can now be used to unlock a Nissan car remotely

Osram Scales It’s Disruptive Security Technology for Samsung Smartphones

Osram Scales It’s Disruptive Security Technology for Samsung Smartphones

As we shift more of our digital lives into the smartphone, security becomes increasingly important and that is giving rise to new technologies. Apple brought its TouchID into them mainstream with the iPhone, but Osram is scaling up its infrared iris-scanning technology for Samsung. We’re thinking these disruptive technologies are likely to move past smartphones and consumer electronics into other aspects of our Safety & Security investing theme.

 

Osram plans to hire up to 1,000 new staff at its plant in Regensburg, Germany as it anticipates a fast ramp-up in demand for its infrared components used for iris-scanning identification in smartphones, a spokesman for the German lighting group said.

 

The smartphone market represents an important new opportunity for Osram, which currently makes about half of its revenue from the automotive sector.

 

Osram supplied iris-scanning infrared components for Samsung’s ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled just after its launch last September after some smartphones caught fire. It is also expected to supply the technology for Samsung’s next flagship model, the Galaxy S8, which is likely to be announced in March and go on sale in April.

Source: Osram to hire 1,000 in Germany for smartphone infrared push | Reuters

Android’s Customizability Makes Quadrooter and Other Safety Patches a Challenge

Android’s Customizability Makes Quadrooter and Other Safety Patches a Challenge

The more capabilities incorporated into smartphones and other devices means increasingly complex software under the hood to enable them. Much like Microsoft’s Windows that by necessity needed to be open to so many devices (mice, keyboards, monitors, game controllers, printers, scanners and the like), Android’s fragmented ecosystem with nearly every smartphone manufacturer customizing the OS means each software patch needs to be tweaked as well. Score one for the closed Apple iPhone ecosystem.

Another big security flaw in Android highlights just how messed up the Google ecosystem still is when it comes to security. This one, known as Quadrooter, was disclosed in recent days by security software maker Check Point.

Quadrooter affects a whole host of top-end Android devices running one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips.That means hundreds of millions or even a billion devices could be at risk, including top-end models such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5 and even Google’s latest Nexus devices and security-focused devices like BlackBerry’s Priv and Silent Circle’s Blackphone.

Source: A new flaw puts nearly a billion phones at risk and shows Android security is still a patchwork mess

.@Xiaomi to buy 1,500 patents from @Microsoft as $MSFT embraces Asset-Lite business model like $GOOGL and @Android, $QCOM and $IDCC

.@Xiaomi to buy 1,500 patents from @Microsoft as $MSFT embraces Asset-Lite business model like $GOOGL and @Android, $QCOM and $IDCC

The arrangement that has Xiaomi is buying 1,500 patents from Microsoft so it can bulk up its intellectual property vault to fend off attacks as it moves into other countries means more smartphone competition is on the way.  The same transaction means after failing repeatedly to break into the smartphone market itself, Microsoft is embracing the Asset Lite business model by monetizing parts its patent library.  As we’ve seen from Qualcomm and others, margins on royalties tend to be sky high.

The transaction addresses a key weakness facing Xiaomi, which is seeking to sell its devices in countries outside its home market but has been hindered by its relative lack of intellectual property to fend off lawsuits.

The deal reflects Xiaomi’s efforts to acquire the intellectual property it needs to one day sell its devices beyond developing markets. One of its ultimate goals is to sell its phones in the U.S.

For Microsoft, the move is the latest in a yearslong push to collect royalties from electronics makers who use Google Inc.’s Android operating system, which Microsoft says uses some of its technology.

Source: Xiaomi to buy 1,500 patents from Microsoft — FT.com