Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Android Scare: Just How Malignant Is That Malware?

Antivirus vendor Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) announced recently that up to 5 million Androiddevices may have been infected with a particular type of malware.
Multiple publishers were pushing out apps -- some of which were found in the official Android Market -- containing malware known as "Counterclank," according to the AV company.
This is a minor modification of Android Tonclank, a bot-like threat that can receive commands to carry out certain actions as well as steal information from the device.
The malicious code Symantec detected had been grafted onto the main app through a package called "Apperhand," the company said. When the package is executed, a service, also called "Apperhand," may be seen running on an infected device.
Further, an unwanted search icon might show up on the infected device's screen, Symantec said.

Malware? Que Malware?

However, security experts from other organizations said the infected apps weren't carrying malware but adware.
"We're 100 percent certain that Apperhand isn't malware; it's just a form of an ad network," Tim Wyatt, principal engineer at Lookout Mobile Security, told LinuxInsider.
"I'd call it a 'Pup,'" Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee Labs, told LinuxInsider. PuP refers to a potentially unwanted program.
"Until some more information surfaces that this is malware, I'd say there's no need to be concerned," suggested Roger Thompson, chief emerging threats researcher at ICSA Labs.

Why the Malware Fears Were Sparked

Android Counterclank has the highest distribution of any malware identified so far this year, Symantec stated.
Publishers whose apps apparently contained Apperhand includeiApps7Ogre Games, and redmicapps. Affected apps include "Sexy Women Puzzle," "Deal & Be Millionaire," "Stripper Touch Girl," "Counter Elite Force" and "Hit Counter Terrorist."
The skyrocketing popularity of Android devices has exacerbated concerns among AV vendors that a flood of Android malware is on its way this year.
Android is more vulnerable than the iPhone or BlackBerry for three reasons, ICSA's Thompson told LinuxInsider.
First, you can download Android apps from any website, he said. Second, it is "very easy to Trojanize" an Android app compared an iOS app, which "would require significant reverse engineering first," Thompson said. Third, the development platform "is cheap and well-understood."

Adware, Malware - What's the Difference?

The Apperhand SDK in Android Counterclank can identify users uniquely by their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, Lookout said. It can also deliver push notification ads and bookmarks to browsers, and drop search icons on the screen.
Although apps containing Apperhand are not necessarily malicious, "we think aggressive adware pushes the privacy bounds and people have a right to not want apps like this on their devices," Lookout's Wyatt said.
"Who will decide where the thin line between legitimate apps and adware or spyware should be?" asked Jakob Ehrensvard, chief technology officer at Yubico.
Further, the question of whose responsibility it will be "if the user accepts a ... legal document by simply clicking 'OK' and then later finds out that he has accepted being monitored" needs to be clarified, Ehrensvard told LinuxInsider.

Sniffing Out the Unwanted Ads

"Some vendors have added detection for [Apperhand], but others are still trying to make up their minds," ICSA Labs' Thompson suggested. "It's simply not an easy decision. Symantec initially saw it one way, and they may change their minds."
Indeed, that's just what might happen.
"We are continuing our analysis of this issue and expect additional information shortly," Eric Chien, director of Symantec Security Response, told LinuxInsider.
The emergence of aggressive adware may spur antivirus vendors to action.
"For years, security companies did not detect adware or greyware in the PC space, and it became a nuisance," Chien remarked. "Eventually security companies did address this space to the benefit of computer users."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Android Trojans downloaded by millions, still on Android Market

Symantec last week identified 13 new malicious applications on the Android Market, saying the combined download figures—reportedly up to 5 million—make it "the highest distribution of any malware identified so far this year." The applications use Android.Counterclank, which Symantec says is "a bot-like threat that can receive commands to carry out certain actions, as well as steal information from the device."
We found six of the apps from three publishers still appearing on the Android market Monday morning. Symantec calls Android.Counterclank a Trojan, and Google's Android Market policies specifically ban Trojans and other types of malware. On the other hand, Symantec classifies Android.Counterclank as having "very low" risk, and the app publishers barely seem interested in hiding the programs' capabilities.
One such app (link is probably NSFW) identified by Symantec as a Trojan contains "write browser's history and bookmarks" under its list of permissions. This is coupled with a generic warning from Google that "Malicious applications can use this to erase or modify your Browser's data." Another app on Symantec's list is "Deal or BE Millionaire," and one user review from more than two weeks ago warns, "beware malware... every time you run this game, a 'search' icon gets added randomly to one of your screens. I keep deleting the icon, but it always reappears. If you tap the icon you get a page that looks suspiciously like the Google search page." Symantec says the presence of the search icon on the home screen is one sign of Android.Counterclank infection.
Symantec says the apps can "copy bookmarks on the device, copy opt out details, copy push notifications, copy shortcuts, identify the last executed command, modify the browser's home page, steal build information," and retrieve device data such as the Android ID, MAC address and SIM serial number. We've asked Google if the company plans to remove all of these apps from the Market and will provide an update as we get new information.
UPDATE: As one commenter points out, Lookout Mobile Security has a different take on the matter, that Android.Counterclank is not malware but "an aggressive form of an ad network." While these apps contain software that is annoying and that average users do not want, Lookout notes that it isn't designed to commit identity theft or financial fraud.

Mobile Virtual Environments: The Opportunity for Guest Applications and Operating Systems Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/30/4224531/mobile-virtual-environments-the.html#storylink=cpy

The explosive growth of mobile applications and waning battle between application ecosystems are creating a new reality in the mobile industry. Apple and Google have effectively prevailed in the platform war, leaving OEMs without access to these ecosystems at a significant disadvantage. Users are also demanding a wide choice of innovative applications on all their digital devices: smartphones used for work and personal use, tablets and e-books, in their cars and on their TVs.
OEMs need to provide Android apps to their customers but are hesitant to relinquishing control of their branded experience and services. Enterprises want to drive productivity by providing their employees access to slick consumer applications alongside secure enterprise apps on smartphones and tablets of their choice. Virtualization solutions can solve these challenges by creating environments that are independent of the underlying OS or hardware in which to run foreign applications and guest operating systems.
This report analyzes four virtualization technologies that all take different approaches and are designed to address notably different markets. These technologies include:
·      Mobile hypervisors
·      Secure application containers
·      Thin client and cloud solutions
·      Application virtual machines
Enterprises that are embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are looking to virtualization solutions to protect enterprise data on employee owned devices. Over the past few years, mobile hypervisors that have been used to reduce hardware costs are now being repurposed to enable two segregated application operating systems on one device. Containerized application solutions, thin client and cloud solutions are enabling the separation of consumer and enterprise applications within the operating system protecting sensitive enterprise data. The emergence of virtualization technologies to help manage BYOD policies will lead to new competition prompting important strategic decisions for established mobile enterprise software vendors. As this market shifts from managing devices to securing enterprise applications and data, mobile device management vendors and mobile enterprise application platform vendors will have to embraceemerging technologies to stay relevant. With promising technologies such as type 1 hypervisor based solutions still on the horizon, providers will have to weigh their current investments against their long term technical roadmap.
OEMs are deploying application virtual machines, or more specifically, the Devlik virtual machine on non-Android devices to run Android applications. This strategy allows OEMs to leverage the robust Android ecosystems without having to relinquish control of the user experience to Google. These devices will run Android applications side by side with Native and HTML5 applications in a seamless interface, increasing developer flexibility and driving innovation. We are forecasting over 508 million non-Android devices to ship in 2016 which will run Android applications. Beyond traditional mobile devices, Delvik virtual machines are being evaluated to run applications on in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVI) and set top boxes. This trend will have important strategic implications as mobile applications migrate to these new platforms. Internet players are pushing into the TV content distribution market and virtualization solutions will be an important tool for entrenched players defending their market. Separating the Delvik virtual machine from the Android stack will also loosen Google's grip on application distribution and compromise its ability to manage fragmentation in the Android ecosystem. While fragmentation will be a challenge for the industry, creating new cross device opportunities for Android developers will help improve application economics, which in turn will strengthen the ecosystem in the long run.
Companies Mentioned
Alien Delvik
Android Player
Apple TV
Delvik VM
Googe TV
Mobile Horizon
Mobile Virtulization Layer
Pocket Cloud
vLogix Mobile
Table of Contents
Introduction 1
Market Opportunity 1The Enterprise Opportunity 2The Cross Device Opportunity 2
Technology Trends 2
Hypervisors 2Application Containers 4Application or Process Virtual Machines (VM) 5Streaming UI's & Thin Client Solutions 7Cloud Solutions 7
Market Drivers & Barriers 8
Developer Economics 8Emergence of Cloud Computing 8IP Litigation 9
Market Opportunities 9
Enterprise Market 10Cross PlatformSecurityEase of InstallationPerformance and Device Level FunctionalityIT ControlDiverse Enterprise MarketMobile Handset Market 13Other Consumer Mobile Device Market 14IVI-In Vehicle Infotainment Market 15Cable Network Operators 15
Market Strategies 16
Forecast & Strategic Outlook 17
Type 2 Hypervisors and Container Apps
Type 1 Hypervisors
BYOD Market Strategic Outlook 21
MEAP and MDM Players Will Struggle With Strategic Dilemmas
Cohabitation of MDM, MEAP, and Sandbox Solutions Will Be Short Lived and Players Will Compete 21
Virtual Machines Market Forecast 22
Set Top Boxes
Virtual Machine Strategic Outlook 26
Changing Dynamics in Developer Ecosystem
Delvik & HTML5 Value Proposition Overlap
OEMs will Focus More on Core Functionality to Differentiate
Fragmentation Will Grow in Android
Android Wins and Looses
Virtualization Trend Strategic Outlook 27
Carrier Opportunities
How Will Apple React to This Trend
Vendor Profiles
Enterproid 28OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesGood Technologies 30OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesMyriad Group 31OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesOpen Kernel Labs 33OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesOpen Mobile World Wide 34OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesRed Bend Software 35OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesResearch in Motion 37OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive ChallengesVMWare 38OverviewMobile Virtualization OfferingsCompetitive AdvantagesCompetitive Challenges
Table of Figures
Table 1 – Mobile Hypervisor Vendors 4 Table 2 – Application Container Vendors 5 Table 3 – Delvik VM Players 6 Table 4 – Thin Client and Streaming Vendors 7 Table 5 – Virtualization Technology Opportunity Matrix 10 Table 6 – Virtualization Technology Business Models 17
Figure 1 – Type 1 Hypervisor Architecture 3
Figure 2 – Type 2 Hypervisor Architecture 3
Figure 3 – Application Containers Architecture 5
Figure 4 – Application Virtual Machines Architecture 6
Figure 5 – Virtualization Implementation Architecture 12
Figure 6 – Total Enterprise Virtualization Users Forecast: 2012-2016 18
Figure 7 – Total Users Application Container and Type 2 Hypervisors Forecast: 2012-2016 18
Figure 8 – Total Revenues Type 2 Hypervisor and Container App Solutions Market Forecast:
2012- 201 20
Figure 9 – Device Shipments with Type 1 Hypervisors Forecast and Install Base 2012-2016 20
Figure 10 – Total Devices Shipping with Delvik VM and Total Addressable Market Forecasts:
2012-2016 23
Figure 11 – Smartphones Shipping with Delvik VM and Total Addressable Market Forecasts:
2012-2016 23
Figure 12 – Tablets Shipping with Delvik VM and Total Addressable Market Forecasts:
2012-2016 24
Figure 13 – Automobiles Shipping with IVI Systems Featuring Delvik VMs and Total Addressable
Market Forecasts: 2012-2016 25
Figure 14 – Set Top Boxes Shipping With Delvik VM and Total Addressable Market Forecasts:
2012-2016 26

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/30/4224531/mobile-virtual-environments-the.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Apple to launch iPhone 5 soon: Reports

World's largest handset maker, Apple may come out with the fifth generation iPhone 5 this summer (April), according to a report published on a website.

Quoting sources at Foxconn, which manufacturers iPhone for Apple, the website (9to5mac.com) said, “We received word from a reliable source at Foxconn in China that the iPhone 5, as it is currently being called, is now gearing for production. The source said various sample devices are also floating around (they vary slightly from one another), so it is impossible to tell which one will be the final.”

As per the report, the Apple iPhone 5 may have a 4 inch display and would have a different form factor (design) than its older cousins (iPhone 4S and 3GS etc). The upcoming device would be longer and wider, the report added.

Despite the rise of Android, Apple has managed to keep growing. Infact, according to a research,Apple has managed to grow its market share last year significantly to become the world’s largest handset maker. The release of iPhone 5 is expected to give its sales a further boost.

Apple’s iPhone 4S was launched in India in November 2011, a month after it was released in the USA. So, if the company releases iPhone 5 in April, we can expect it to come to India probably by June.

2GHz dual core Galaxy Tab debuting at MWC?

There’s some really big news hovering around as the Mobile World Congress draws closer.  Though the Galaxy S III might not pop up, we might have a chance to see a new Galaxy Tab and this one is going to have a dual core 2GHz Exynos 5250 processor. As part of the specs, the device is also rumoured to have a display, which is greater than 10 inches with a WXQGA resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Naturally, it will be running Android 4.0.x.
Galaxy Tab 8.9, smaller but just as powerful
10.1? 8.9? 11.6? Can you guess?

As reported by Android and me, there’s definitely some steam about this new rumour as one of the Samsung prototype tablets at CES already had an Exynos 5250 chipset and was running on Android 4.0. Let’s roll back the time a little – to last year’s Mobile World Congress. The Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 were showcased at that time. This time around there are rife chances that the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be displayed. Also, it’s not like Samsung hasn’t announced the 2GHz processor; it was announced in November, last year. As part of the specs, it’s going to have their new low power technology with a 32nm High-K Metal Gate (HK/MG) and a new GPU – the Mali – T604.

As far as the tablet is concerned, there are some chances that the tablet could sport an 11.6-inch display. We’re not too sure if that’s really what we were so eager to hear. Obviously, a better GPU, a faster processor and a different screen size - isn’t Samsung assuming this to be their new success mantra for their smartphones and tablets? From what we counted last, there’s a 5.3-inch, 7 inch, 7.7-inch, 8.9-inch, 10.1-inch and we won’t be surprised to see a few more models fitted in there, like a 5.5 inch, 7.87 inch, 9.821-inch, 19.5-inch, 28.2-inch and so on. Okay, giving the customers an extra option is definitely good, but is just modifying the display size, along with a few improvements here and there good enough? We’re not too sure if we’d be overly excited about that. What do you guys think?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Top 5 upcoming tablets

Eyeing the increasing competition, we may also expect manufacturers to keep the prices of expected tablets reasonable.
Despite lower than expected sales, Android tablets remain hot favourites of the handsets vendors - this further gains ground if we look at the number of tablets lined up for launch this year.

Moreover, these new tablets are likely to come with better design and features. Eyeing the increasing competition, we may also expect manufacturers to keep the prices very reasonable.

Sony Tablet P

This one has already been announced and will be available within next 10-15 days in India. The biggest USP of this tablet is its form factor. It has two screens measuring 5 inch each; together they give you 10 inch space and when folded gives you a form factor of a large smartphone. How it performs in the market is something that needs to seen but this PSP (Playstation) certified certainly has a lot going for it.

Under the skin, this tablet houses a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 mobile processor and runs on Android Honeycomb OS. Sony P has a 5 megapixel camera at the back and a 0.3 megapixel camera in the front. It has quite a unique design and the interface is programmed to use both the screens combined and individually.

The device, with both 3G and WiFi connectivity, will cost Rs 36,990 but might not be liked by many users because in a time when high end feature phones come with around 4 GB of internal memory they would expect a tablet to have minimum 16 GB of internal storage capacity.

Asus Transformer Prime TF201

This is another tablet with a confirmed launch date, and a unique form factor. Like its predecessor, Asus Transformer, this tablet has a keyboard docking station which transforms it into a laptop.

The tablet is going to be launched in February at a price slightly higher than its earlier version, which sold for Rs 29,999 with keyboard dock.

Transformer Prime TF201 features a 10.1 inch touchscreen display. It houses a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 mobile processor and will run on Android 3.2 Honeycomb, though Ice Cream Sandwich update already lined up for it. In terms of connectivity also, the tablet is fully loaded with 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth etc.

Samsung Galaxy 7.7

Another tablet that is expected to be launched in a couple of months is the Samsung Galaxy 7.7, though no formal announcement has been made in this regard. This tablet will come with a 7.7 inch Super Amoled Plus display supporting 1280x800 pixel resolution. Inside, it would pack a dual core 1.4 GHz microprocessor with Mali-400MP graphics chip to power the Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system.

Samsung has added Universal Remote Control functionality in Galaxy 7.7 that will let you control your television as well as home entertainment systems through your tablet.

Samsung Galaxy 7.7 will support SIM calling and has a 3 megapixel camera at the back while a 2 megapixel one will be there in its front. It supports 3G and WiFi and will come in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB storage options along with support for micro SD card of up to 32 GB capacity. Samsung has not revealed its price yet but we expect it to be within Rs 30,000 price bracket.

Acer Iconia A200

This one is a mid range 10 inch tablet from Acer. It boasts a 10.1-inch display with a native resolution of 1280x800 pixel, and has a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with an integrated low-power GeForce graphic chip which is capable of playing 1080p HD videos.

The tablet runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system and will be upgraded to Android 4.0 later. In the front, Acer has only 2 megapixel front camera for HD video chats.

Acer Iconia A200 has a full USB 2.0 port, which means that it will support 3G dongles. The Iconia Tab A200 doesn't offer SIM slot and is entirely dependent on the WiFi for Internet connectivity. Bluetooth, GPS are there. It has also dual speakers for good audio experience.

While the price and availability of this tablet for India is yet to be announced, we expect it to be launched by March within a price range of Rs 20,000. The tablet has just started selling in USA for $350 (Rs 18,000 approx).

Motorola Xoom 2

The Xoom tablet did not get the cash register ringing for Motorola. However, the company will be hoping to change this with the upgraded Xoom tablet that is loaded with many interesting features and a stylish design.

Though it is not clear as when Motorola would bring the Xoom 2 to India, but it is already being launched in phases in different parts of the world, so we can expect it to come to India within next three months.

There are two versions of the Motorola Xoom 2 tablet with screen sizes of 8.2 and 10.1 inches, but both have the same display resolution of 1280 × 800 pixels and even the same hardware. Both tablets have an LTE version and a WiFi only version. Apart from that they use a 1.2 GHz dual core processor and run on Android 3.2, which will be upgraded later.

The 10.1 inch Xoom 2 has a detachable key board as an accessory. Motorola has also included Infra-red in the tablets that helps it work as a universal remote for all your gadgets. Other connectivity options are present in full force.

You can read our hands-on here (Xoom 2 is called Xyboard in USA). Motorola Xoom 2 is expected to be priced around Rs 30,000- 40,000.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nokia Tottering At The Top Of Mobile Rankings; Apple Leading Smartphones

With most of the major handset makers having reported earnings for the quarter that ended in December, analyst houses are laying out their rankings in global smartphone and overall mobile shipments. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) has just about managed to keep its top position overall, while Apple’s phenomenal quarter has put it into pole position among smartphone makers—but only by a fraction of a percentage point.
New figures from Strategy Analytics show that Nokia, with shipments (which Nokia terms “sales”: more on that below) of 113.5 million, has continued to hold on to its position as the number-one phone maker in Q4. Its lead has narrowed by quite some way over last year: it was at 26.9 percent for the quarter and 25.5 percent for the year, compared to 30.9 percent and 33.3 percent for the quarter and year in 2010.
Samsung, shipping 95 million units, made smaller gains than Nokia lost: 1.1 percent on the quarter and 0.5 percent on the year to claim the number two-slot.
What stood in its way to overtaking Nokia? Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). On the strength of its smartphone-only portfolio, it made the biggest gain in market share of the top-three, picking up 4.3 percentage points for the quarter on shipments (like Nokia, Apple calls them “sales”) of 37 million units, to take an 8.3 percent share of the market for the quarter, and 6 percent for the year.
That’s sort of comparing apples with oranges, though. When comparing like-for-like: Apple has edged past Samsung for the quarter with a 0.4 percent lead in market share in smartphones, while over the whole of 2011, Samsung just about still leads Apple, with a 0.9 percent lead.
Nokia trailed the two by nearly twelve percentage points for the quarter, a big reversal from a year ago when it was well in the lead as the biggest-single smartphone maker.
Figures out today from IHS iSuppli, meanwhile, add in two more handset makers to the mix. It says that Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) took the number-four slot after the first three (ranking them in the same order as Strategy Analytics); with Motorola (NYSE: MMI) just behind, with six million and five million devices shipped, respectively. IHS did not include RIM (NSDQ: RIMM), HTC or LG (SEO: 066570)—other notable vendors—in its rankings; they have not reported quarterly figures this week.
In both smartphones and mobile devices overall, “Others” grew numbers in unit terms and made an annual gain on market share to become the biggest group for 2011 market share in Strategy Analytics’ figures. That means still a lot of competition out there from many handset makers, with none of them having a significant enough share to merit placement in the top-three.
On a services level, that speaks to a continuing and strong amount of device fragmentation. That will continue to slow down revenue growth in other areas like mobile content and advertising—areas where it pays for there to be scale to charge the biggest prices. (Case in point: can you imagine what TV advertising or content production would be like if distributors and media buyers had to format ads for different TV set models?)
On shipments versus sales. While these numbers can be instructive, they can also be confusing: If you look at Strategy Analytics’ “shipments” numbers, they are the same as the “sales” numbers that companies like Apple and Nokia reported this week. Neil Mawston, executive director for Strategy Analytics’ global wireless practice, says vendors “tend to use those words interchangeably” even though one refers to actual devices in people’s hands, while the other is for devices that have been shipped to distributors, but not necessarily sold. “They can be open to interpretation,” he admitted. “A lot of companies use smoke and mirrors,” so Strategy Analytics uses other measures such as “channel checks” to measure shipments.
On RIM. It’s notable that RIM didn’t appear in the top-three smartphone makers, so I asked Mawston about their prospects: He says they are “not too far behind number-three” at the moment in overall rankings and smartphones, “and if they had a good quarter or two they could get close.” But the trend so far has been that RIM’s been slowing down and “not providing too much competition” globally. He didn’t mention Motorola or Sony Ericsson, which made iSuppli’s global ranking.
On Samsung. Mawston believes Samsung will stay ahead in smartphones, even with Apple’s strong Q4: “It just has more price points, appeals to both post and prepaid customers, and has a bigger distribution network among carriers,” he said, adding that Apple may well give it a run for its money. “They may trade places for a few quarters.”
He notes that Apple has a massive retail presence in some countries like the U.S. but ultimately it’s the carrier network that really gives device makers that extra leg up in worldwide sales—a key pillar of Nokia‘s fightback strategy, too. “The key thing with carriers is that they can subsidize the iPhone [or another device]. Without operator subsidies, [smartphones] would be nowhere near as large right now.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ericsson slump sounds alarm for mobile phone industry

Hans Vestberg, chief executive officer of Ericsson AB, announces the mobile phone giant’s fourth-quarter earnings in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday. Ericsson reported profits that missed analyst estimates by more than 50 per cent for the final months of 2011.

Hans Vestberg, chief executive officer of Ericsson AB, announces the mobile phone giant’s fourth-quarter earnings in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday. Ericsson reported profits that missed analyst estimates by more than 50 per cent for the final months of 2011.

Photograph by: Bertil Ericson/Scanpix, Reuters

The world’s largest maker of equipment for mobile phone networks flashed a red warning light for the wider, global industry Wednesday.
Ericsson said that its profits for the last three months of 2011 had missed market expectations by more than 50 per cent and — perhaps more worryingly — it offered a grimly bleak outlook for the year ahead, spooking investors and sending its shares down 15 per cent.
The Swedish company is a bellwether for its sector’s health, in much the same way that Microsoft is in the software industry, and if it says there are tough times ahead, industry-watchers and analysts pay close attention.
It has been more resilient to economic downturns than its rivals. such as Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks, but a freeze on building new networks has hit its business in recent months. Ericsson’s net income fell by 66 per cent to $168 million U.S. in the fourth quarter of last year, despite a one-per-cent rise in sales. That reflected a shift in its sales toward the lower-margin work of upgrading networks for European operators.
The results fell well short of market expectations. Ericsson’s operating margin of 6.4 per cent was less than half the 13 per cent the market had expected.
Ericsson was hit by declining sales of new network equipment in North America and Russia, as well as widening losses from two joint ventures. It has agreed to sell its stake in Sony Ericsson to its Japanese partner but a shuddering loss for the Christmas quarter had to be absorbed before the deal was completed. Its Swiss-based semiconductor joint venture ST-Ericsson also recorded a hefty loss during the quarter.
Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s chief executive, said: “We believe that the industry fundamentals for longer-term positive development remain solid. Short-term, we expect operators to continue to be cautious with spending.”
The 15-per-cent fall in Ericsson shares on the Nasdaq was almost matched in the Swedish market

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

iPhone still ahead of Google’s Android in US

Booming demand for the latest iPhone model helped Apple beat all phones using Google’s Android platform in the US smartphone market in the fourth quarter, data showed on Wednesday.
Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Apple’s share of the US market doubled from a year ago to 44.9 percent in the October to December period, just beating Google’s Android smartphones, which slipped to 44.8 percent from 50 percent.
Late on Tuesday Apple reported quarterly results which blew past Wall Street’s expectations after consumers snapped up near-unprecedented numbers of iPhones and iPads, sending its shares up 8 percent and into record territory.
In stark contrast sales of handset makers using Android, including Motorola Mobility , HTCand Sony Ericsson, have stumbled in the quarter.
Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Apple's share of the US market doubled from a year ago to 44.9 percent in the October to December period, just beating Google's Android smartphones, which slipped to 44.8 percent from 50 percent. Getty Images
“Apple has continued its strong sales run in the US, UK and Australia over the Christmas period,” Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at the research firm said.
“Overall, Apple sales are now growing at a faster rate than Android across the nine countries we cover,” Sunnebo added.
Kantar said Microsoft’s Windows Phone share in all of the nine key markets it measures remained at less than 2 percent despite the high-profile launch of the Lumia range from Nokia .
Nokia’s flagship Lumia 800 model failed to break into top 10 smartphones sold in Britain by the end of the fourth quarter, the researcher said.
Nokia said in November the model was off to an excellent start in Britain, and had seen the best ever first week of Nokia smartphone sales in the UK in recent history.
Nokia unveiled a strategy shift to use Microsoft software on its smartphones last February in a bid to create a rival to Apple and Google’s Android.
“The Nokia Lumia 800 still needs to be joined by a number of other competitive Windows Phone handsets before we are likely to see the OS (operating system) providing any real challenge to the likes of Apple, Android and BlackBerry,” Sunnebo said.
He expects the platform to have around a 10 percent share of European smartphone sales in the second half of 2012.


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