Apple Pushed to Third Spot in Chinese Smartphone Market: Canalys

Two Chinese smartphone makers pushed US technology giant Apple into third place in the world’s biggest market in the second quarter, an independent analyst firm said Monday.Upstart Xiaomi, known for delivering high-performance products at cheap prices, was the largest smartphone vendor in China based on shipments with a 15.9 percent market share in the April-June period, Canalys said in a press release.

Telecom equipment maker Huawei was close behind at 15.7 percent, it said, followed by Apple, South Korea’s Samsung and Chinese firm Vivo, without giving the percentages for those three.

US technology giant Apple had taken top spot in the Canalys rankings for the first three months of 2015, and its third place showing came despite the launch of its large-screen iPhone 6 (Review | Pictures) and iPhone 6 Plus (Review | Pictures) last autumn.

“Competition among major brands has never been so intense,” Wang Jingwen, an analyst at Canalys, said in the statement. “Xiaomi is under immense pressure to maintain its top position in the quarters to come.”

China is the world’s largest smartphone market by shipments, Canalys has said previously.

Apple’s iPhone sales surged 85 percent in Greater China which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan with revenue from the region more than doubling to $13 billion (roughly Rs. 83,138 crores) for the latest quarter ended June 27, according to the company.

“We remain extremely bullish on China and we are continuing to invest,” Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook said last month when the company announced earnings.

“We would be foolish to change our plans. I think China is a fantastic geography with an incredible, unprecedented level of opportunity,” he said.

Huawei said in July that its global smartphone shipments surged 39 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year to 48.2 million as it focussed on mid- to high-end models.

But a top Huawei executive said last month that his company and Xiaomi were pitching to different segments of the Chinese market.

“We’re different than Xiaomi. No two companies are alike,” Ken Hu, Huawei deputy chairman and currently rotating chief executive officer, told journalists.

“If you want to compare us to other companies, you can see from the increase in (sales) volume that we have a lot of advantages.”

Industry officials say Huawei has targeted Samsung as it seeks to be the king ofAndroid smartphones in China. Huawei is also investing in 5G technology for future growth.

German Automakers Agree on Deal to Buy Nokia’s Here

A consortium of German premium carmakers has agreed to buy Nokia’s mapping business Here for EUR 2.5 billion (roughly Rs. 17,523 crores), in a push to extend the reach of automakers into digital services for connected cars.The three automaker partners – Daimler BMW and Volkswagen’s premium division Audi – will each hold an equal stake in Here and none of them seeks to acquire a majority interest, they said in a joint statement.

The Finnish network equipment maker said the transaction has an enterprise value of EUR 2.8 billion, which includes the assumption of nearly 300 million euros in Here liabilities. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

“For the automotive industry this is the basis for new assistance systems and ultimately fully autonomous driving,” the buyers said in a joint statement.

Nokia said it expects to book a gain on the sale, including cumulative foreign exchange translation differences, worth around EUR 1 billion.

The Finnish company is shedding the maps business to help it focus on integrating its 15.6 billion-euro purchase of Alcatel-Lucent, a deal that will create the world’s second largest network equipment maker.

Nokia built its mapping and location business on the back of an $8.1 billion (roughly Rs. 51,801 crores) acquisition in 2008 of US-based Navteq, a maker of geographic information systems used in the automotive industry. It was Nokia’s largest deal ever, prior to the planned Alcatel-Lucent merger.

Here provides mapping and location intelligence for nearly 200 countries in more than 50 languages and is one of the main providers of mapping and location services. The company will continue to develop its position as a strong and independent provider of maps and location-based services

Intelligent mapping systems are the basis on which self-driving cars linked to wireless networks can perform intelligent functions such as recalculating a route if data about a traffic jam or an accident is transmitted to the car.

In the future, such mapping systems will have a role to play in collision detection and other features of self-driving cars.

iPhone 6s Force Touch Panel Reportedly Enters Mass Production

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Details about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have been leaked several times in the recent past, and the most recent reports had tipped several specifications and features, including Force Touch technology. Now, a new report claims that the Force Touch panels for the handsets have entered the mass production stage.

A report from Digitimes, claims that Apple suppliers had already started shipping the Force Touch panels in limited numbers in June, before the full-blown production began in July. Apple was last month also tipped to be preparing for the largest initial production run for its next iPhones by the end of the year, asking suppliers to manufacture 85 million to 90 million units of two new models with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays.

Furthermore, Taipei Times added that TPK Holding Co., which is said to be Apple’s chief supplier for pressure-sensitive Force Touch panels, is expecting a widespread use of these sensors by later this year. “We believe that pressure sensors for force touchpanels will see widespread adoption across the mobile-device market this year,” Taipei Times quoted Michael Chung, TPK Chief Executive Officer. The announcement was made while disclosing the company’s Q2 revenue growth meeting.

The Force Touch technology was first introduced in the Apple Watch, followed by the new 12-inch MacBook. It can detect different touch pressures which can then be used to display more options to users than regular touch.

The report is in line with several other leaks in the past few months, with the mostrecent indicating the new iPhone models will be slightly longer (0.15mm) and thicker (0.2mm) to accommodate the Force Touch technology, and feature a stronger Series 7000 aluminium build.

So far, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are expected to feature the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays respectively as last year’s models, but bring additions like 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera instead of an 8-megapixel offering, and anupgraded front-facing FaceTime camera with 1080p recording apart from a front-facing flash, and a more efficient Qualcomm LTE modem.