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Smartphones have become the favoured web and social media tool for the “post-PC generation”. As well as being great communications devices, the latest crop boasts features designed to please the most discerning consumers – including better battery life, advanced digital photo apps and high-quality audio.
The complexity – one is tempted to say complete muddle – of the European patent system was highlighted on Wednesday when Nokia and HTC won a key victory in their intellectual property battle with IPCom.
IPCom, which is based in Germany, has waged a battle for several years to get mobile handset companies to pay it royalties for some technology it owns related to how mobile phones connect to 3G networks. Some handset makers have bought licences from IPCom, but Nokia and HTC strongly denied the validity of the patents and refused to pay up.
If you think the 5.3in-screen Samsung Galaxy Note is a little too large to fit in a pocket, then you will have a real problem with the 10.1in version just unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Samsung has yet to make an official announcement about the phone, but a gargantuan poster to match the giant-sized device has appeared, and at this size, there seems no argument about whether it is a smartphone or a tablet this time.
HTC has had an amazing run as it grew from anonymity to one of the top Android phonemakers. This has been reflected in its shipments, which have been record-breaking for the Taiwanese company for each of the last six quarters.
But is that run about to end, amid intensifying competition and a weak global economy? HTC said on Monday that it expects fourth-quarter shipments, and revenues, to be down slightly from the third quarter.
When HTC chief executive Peter Chou said this month that he was on the lookout for further acquisitions, he wasn’t kidding. The Taiwanese smartphone company on Tuesday announced it had acquired Inquisitive Minds, a US company that developed Zoodles, a kids-friendly browser designed to give children a safe browsing environment.
It is no secret that HTC is keen to move beyond hardware manufacturing to online services and content – it had earlier acquired or partnered with, variously, a games provider (OnLive), a mobile video specialist (Saffron Digital), an e-books company (Kobo), and a music streaming service (Taiwan’s KKBox).