News You might have missed: Week of October 13, 2017

Google Home Mini loses Touch Feature

Not even a week after the debut of Google Home Mini, Google was made aware of an issue with the pre-production units. The touch functionality on the top of the Mini which allows users to turn the Mini into listening mode was behaving incorrectly. Basically, the Mini was detecting a touch when nobody was actually touching it causing it to be listening in without the user knowing. Google first released a software update to rectify the issue and later disabled the feature altogether.

Via Google Support 

  • This was the worse possible timing for Google given the launch of the new products including the higher end Google Home Max
  • Consumers are already concerned about having microphones and cameras in their homes and while they might not think this was malicious – there is no reason to think it was – it might still raise concerns
  • Google made the right call in removing the top touch functionality. Given the fix to the initial issue was software it might have still left users uncertain
  • The removal of the functionality will not impact the device experience as most users would have used voice anyway to wake the Mini. So why put it there in the first place? Given this is a smaller device compared to the original Google Home it is plausible to see it more often on a desk or bedside table where it could be easily tapped. More cost-sensitive buyers might also be slightly more reluctant to talk to technology and initiating the exchange with a touch might be more familiar.
  • Overall I do not expect this issue to impact the adoption of the Mini.

 Another Record Breaking Quarter for Samsung

Samsung is expecting record operating profits of about 14.5 trillion Korean won ($12.8 billion) for the September quarter, seeing a massive jump of nearly 179 percent from the same period a year earlier. The South Korean tech giant also said it expected consolidated sales to be about 62 trillion Korean won in the third quarter, a touch lower than the 62.1 trillion won market forecast.

Via CNBC

 

  • Like in previous quarters it is the semiconductor business that is driving these strong profits.
  • Strong global demand for DRAM chips will continue to outpace supply in 2018, while demand for NAND flash chips exceeded supply for six straight quarters as of September 2017
  • In the display business, financial analysts are expecting profits to be negatively impacted in the third quarter by decreasing LCD panel prices as well as one-off costs. However, the display business could improve in the fourth quarter on the back of sales of OLED panels for the new iPhone X
  • On the devices side, results should be positively impacted by the successful Note 8 launch. ASP will be more visibly impacted than sales, however. Samsung announced this week that the new Gear Sport Smartwatch and the IconX earbuds will start shipping October 27 with pre-orders kick off today Oct 13.
  • Over time, the semiconductor sector should also start benefitting from new business coming from the automotive business where the Harman brand will certainly help opening doors.
  • Next week Samsung will hold their developer conference in San Francisco where I am particularly looking for news around Bixby, Viv and SmartThings.
  • Late last night, Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun announced his resignation as head of the component business. He will step down in March 2018. He cited an unprecedented crisis that calls for new leadership. While no more details were offered, it is quite obvious that Kwon Oh-hyun was referring to the corruption charges that lead to a jail sentence for Lee-Jae-yong. Considering the current performance of the division a change in leadership now will hopefully not cause too much of a distraction.

RIP Windows Phone

Over the weekend Windows Phone’s lead Man Joe Belfiore tweeted “We have tried VERY HARD to incent app devs. Paid money. wrote apps 4 them.. but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest. ” he also confirmed that of course Microsoft will continue to support the platform with bug fixes, security updates, and the likes but there will be no new hardware.

 Via Arstechnica

  • This was a long time coming. You heard me many times over the past two years advocating that Microsoft should just pull the plug on poor Windows Phone and move on. I know there are many fans out there and some were still hoping for a Surface phone to come to the rescue but alas hardware was not the answer.
  • Like Joe Belfiore explains, Windows Phone suffered from the fact that the app ecosystem never took off making the platform less appealing to higher-end users.
  • Microsoft’s change in strategy from owning the smartphones to reaching out to users on other platforms via apps and services is paying off. Just look at how many people use Office on an iPad.
  • The biggest limitation I see for Microsoft not owning a smartphone platform is for Cortana. While Cortana is able to get onto iPhones and Android phones it is hard for her to really shine as it is not the default assistant. Because of this, I wish Microsoft did not give up on the wearable market as that could have mitigated the lack of phones.

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Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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