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The East African : January 20th 2014
28 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK JANUARY 18-24,2014 E -AF R ICAN Samsung Galaxy S5 coming this April The fi≥m is studying using eye scanne≥ technology as it ≥eadies the highend handset to compete with Apple’s iPhones By JUNGAH LEE Washington Post-Bloomberg S amsung Electronics will release its Galaxy S5 smartphone by April and is studying using eye scanner technology for the first time as it readies the high-end handset to compete with Apple’s iPhones. The S5 will be paired with a new wearable device that will be an evolution of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of the company’s mobile business, said. Samsung, which posted profit this week that missed analyst estimates, will debut the new products together as it also boosts marketing of tablet computers. “We’ve been announcing our first flagship model in the first half of each year, around March and April, and we are still targeting for release around that time,” Lee said. Samsung, which sells one of every three smartphones globally, is adding new features and models to fend off Apple in the high-end market and Chinese makers luring budget customers with handsets for $100. Asia’s biggest technology company will announce at least one other wearable device this year, Lee said without elaborating. Samsung registered a design in South Korea in October for eyeglasses that can show information GROWTH, MORE MARKETS Samsung shipped 91 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, up 4 per cent from the previous quarter. The company is diversifying its product range and using its manufacturing scale to tap new markets. The company sees more growth potential in tablets as it takes on Apple’s iPad line and Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle devices. The tablet computer market will grow more than 15 per cent annually, with more than 240 million units shipped last year Samsung’s share of global tablet shipments doubled to about 20 per cent last year from a smartphone and enable users to take calls. Sales of the S4, the company’s current marquee handset, slowed after Apple released the iPhone 5s and 5c in September. The 5s includes a fingerprint-identity sensor, and Samsung is considering using Samsung Galaxy S4. Picture: File an eye scanner in its top-end smartphones. “Many people are fanatical about iris recognition technology,” Lee said at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “We are studying the possibility but can’t really say whether we will have it or not on the S5.” Suwon, South Korea-based Sam- sung this week posted its first profit decline in nine quarters as high-end handset growth slowed and the company paid employee bonuses. Operating profit was 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion) in the three months ended December, falling from 9 trillion won a year earlier, the company said. Shares of Samsung have dropped 11 per cent from its closing price on Dec. 23 as analysts scaled back projections for high- end handsets, erasing about $22 billion of the company’s market value. Samsung shipped 13 million units of the S4 in the fourth quarter, down from 17 million in the previous three months, Daewoo Securities Co. said in a Dec. 23 report. “The release of the S5 will be very important to Samsung,” Lee Seung Woo, an analyst at IBK Securities Co., said by phone. “Competition is going to intensify, and it’s not going to be an easy year for the company.” The Galaxy S4 may have fallen short of consumer expectations because its design was too similar to its S3 predecessor, Lee Young Hee said. The next handset likely will be different, she said. “When we moved to S4 from S3, it’s partly true that consumers couldn’t really feel much difference between the two products from the physical perspective, so the market reaction wasn’t as big,” she said. “For the S5, we will go back to the basics. Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover.” The timing of the release is after February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Samsung announced its largest tablets at CES, unveiling 12.2-inch versions of the Galaxy NotePRO, which uses a stylus, and the TabPRO, which doesn’t. BRIEFS Marine Parks authority turns to e-payment Tanzania Marine Parks and Reserves has started using electronic gadgets to boost revenue collection. It joins the Tanzania National Parks Authority and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority in going digital. Acting unit manager Malali Machumu said the board had agreed to start using electronic gadgets with a pilot in the capital. “We will start with a pilot project for the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserves and plan to have an electronic teller machine at either Slipway or White Sands Hotel before branching out to other points,” he said. Kenya enacts tougher rules on SIM cards SIM cards from major telcos in Kenya. Picture: File Kenya has moved ahead of Uganda and Rwanda to formulate new regulations on SIM card registration as the three countries seek a harmonised approach to fight crimes committed through mobile phones. Mobile firms in Kenya and their agents will now face stiffer penalties for allowing unregistered SIM cards into their network or selling pre-activated cards in new regulations. MTN Uganda completes rollout of coverage sites BlackBe≥≥y back to physical-keyboa≥d unde≥ new CEO By HUGO MILLER AND JON ERLICHMAN Special Correspondent BLACKBERRY, WHICH struggled to entice customers with touch-screen models last year, plans to return its focus to keyboard-equipped phones under chief executive John Chen. “I personally love the keyboards,” Chen said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Jon Erlichman at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In the future, the company’s phones will “predominantly” have physical keyboards rather than touch screens. Chen, who took the CEO job in November, is trying to rebuild the company after last year’s BlackBerry 10 touch-screen lineup fizzled with consumers — contributing to billions of dollars of writedowns. As part of its comeback plan, BlackBerry is refocusing on the corporate and government customers that fuelled its early success. Those users preferred real keyboards because they made it easier to hammer out emails. Last month, Chen announced a five-year deal with Foxconn Technology Group to outsource the manufacturing and design of some of its phones, aiming to offload more of the costs of its unprofitable manufacturing operations. “Foxconn can be a really great partner, not only to eliminate my inventory risk, but also their ability to penetrate various different markets, call it the developing and emerging markets,” he said. While the first $1bn In unsold Z10 inventory that Blackberry was forced to write off Foxconn-built phone is expected to be a touch-screen device, Chen said the traditional keyboard will hold sway in the long run. In a show of how important keyboards are to the BlackBerry brand, the company is suing the maker of a snap-on keypad accessory for the iPhone, saying it closely resembles its products. That device, the Typo Keyboard, is being unveiled this week at the CES conference. The Typo, which clicks onto Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, violates BlackBerry’s patents and designs, according to the complaint. The maker of the keyboard, a Los Angeles startup founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, said it would vigorously defend itself against the suit. Corporate not consumers In another sign that Chen is focusing on cor- porate customers and not consumers, the company parted ways last week with pop singer Alicia Keys. BlackBerry’s previous CEO, Thorsten Heins, had hired her to serve as global creative director. She joined him on stage last January when BlackBerry unveiled the Z10, a touchscreen phone that flopped with buyers and led the company to write off almost $1 billion in unsold inventory. BlackBerry earlier Monday announced the hiring of former HTC Corp. and Sony Ericsson executive Ron Louks to run its devices business. “Ron’s a very creative guy,” Chen said. “I think he’s more in touch with not only the technology and design to make a phone great but how people like the phone.” MTN Uganda has completed rollout of 115 new coverage sites and upgraded the capacity of another 406 sites, across the country. The initiative is part of the 2013 investment plan worth $70 million, and brings the total number of MTN network sites supporting the MTN network up to 1,220. In addition, MTN Uganda has upgraded almost all its network sites in Kampala from 2G to 3G. IBM student contest starts in Nairobi IBM has announced the start of its Master the Mainframe competition in Nairobi, Kenya. The contest, part of the company’s System Academic Initiative, lets students around the world take charge of world-class zEnterprise computing platforms and showcase their talents, while learning sought-after enterprise computing skills. The competition, open to students from all Kenyan universities, has already attracted entries from students in local universities.
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