Samsung Hits a Rough Patch

Carl Weinschenk
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Mobility: How It's Changing Our Lives

In a week that saw no major tech news, perhaps the most interesting tidbit was that Samsung says that its second quarter was slower than anticipated. This is important both for what it says about the category in general and Samsung in particular.

A few other interesting bits of news and commentary came up this week. Here are some highlights:

PCs Are Up…

The world is full of overstatements. Everything is the most, the best or, in the case of PCs, the deadest. The common wisdom for a few years has been that the only uncertainty about these legacy devices was the time and location of the funeral.

Not so fast. Last month, I blogged about the reality, which is a bit less exciting: Desktop PCs are adapting in both expectations and form. They no long rule the roost, but they are changing to meet the needs that they can still capably fulfill.

The rebound of the PC continues. This week, Gartner said that shipments would reach 317 million next year, a 9 million unit jump from 2014. This year, the report said, shipments will be 2.9 percent less than in 2013. But that represents an improvement compared to previous results, Computerworld said. Microsoft is still driving PCs:

In the report, Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal estimated that about 60 million PCs will be upgraded to new machines this year. The "revival" of the PC business will be driven by upgrades of Windows XP-systems that have been used by office workers and consumers for the last several years, he said.

The bottom line is that PCs will survive to compute another day, though in a different way than in the past.

…And Samsung Is Down

Samsung, one of the companies helping to create the reordered world in which PCs are no longer dominant, this week said that the bloom is off the rose. It didn’t actually say that, of course. But that’s the message of results that were poorer than expected. CRN said that the vendor is warning of soft sales of smartphones and tablets. The drop off is significant:

Samsung is expecting second-quarter profits of $7.1 billion; a 24 percent decline from the year-ago quarter’s $8.5 billion and the third straight quarterly decline reported by the South Korea-based company. Samsung is slated to report official second-quarter earnings later this month.

The company is in a growing battle for consumers in China and some European markets. The story pointed to Lenovo and Huawei as sources of competition.

SDNs Need More Definition

Non-experts hear the newest catchphrase and think that it is the wave of the future. Software-defined networks (SDNs) fit that label. What is often understated is that these complex new technologies don’t emerge fully formed. Some confusion and disagreement about what the new technique really is comprised of usually comes first.

In the SDN world, quite a battle is heating up. It’s not surprising since billions and even trillions of dollars are on the table. Neela Jacques, the executive director of the OpenDaylight Project, paints a picture of discord between VMware and Cisco. The bottom line, he writes in a guest post at Datamation, is that the roadmap to SDNs, which provide networks with heightened flexibility by separating the data from the elements that manage it, is far from agreed upon:

The reality is Cisco doesn’t make hypervisors and VMware doesn’t sell hardware. In many cases a company will view both VMware and Cisco as strategic vendors. So what type of “open” do end users want from Cisco,  VMware and other vendors? They want to be able to pick solutions that work and are supported by their vendors. They want technologies that work, but more importantly technologies that work together.

Wireless 911 Service Abysmal

WirelessWeek reports a mere 10 percent of wireless 911 calls made during the first half of last year had enough information in them to enable folks who couldn’t share their location to be found. The Find Me 911 Coalition obtained the data from the FCC through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FCC also provided Phase II information, which adds latitude/longitude data to the mix. That data was for July 1 to Sept. 30 last year. It showed that AT&T’s network (at 2.3 percent) was far less accurate in its wireless 911 location  information than 911 calls on Verizon’s network (24.6 percent). Verizon’s records covered 13,899 calls and AT&T’s 31,135 calls.

Screen Gems

And, finally, comes a story about the screens of the future. ExtremeTech reports on research at Oxford University and the University of Exeter on 300x300 nanometer pixels. Pixels created today are about 50 microns across, which means that they are about 150 times larger than the type developed by the researchers.

The nanopixels, the story says, are low power, thin and flexible. The story describes what they are made of and what they potentially can do:

While it’s obviously a lot more complex than just multiplying current pixel counts by 150, it’s clear that smaller and more-energy-efficient pixels could definitely result in some seriously high-res displays. Add flexibility to the mix and the number of possible applications explodes — foldable e-paper, windshield displays, smart glasses that actually look like smart glasses with just a thin display laminated over the lens…

A patent application has been filed, but no indication has been given as to what the next step will be.

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