HTC profits down 45% from a year ago. What does recovery look like?

Man. HTC just can’t catch a break here.

Last week, shares fell almost 5% on the news that HTC only pulled in $443 million this August, which is down 45% from a year ago. It seems that the critically acclaimed One and One Mini handsets aren’t quite motivating consumers to part with their cash. Investor confidence is also a little shaken by news of high level executives leaving the company. Some of those execs under investigation for allegedly leaking company secrets. In all, not a great position for the phone maker to be in given how competitive the phone landscape is.

The one resource HTC most likely needs to turn around its market image is likely the one most difficult to come by: Time. HTC’s recent moves have largely been celebrated by tech pundits. The HTC One marks the first handset by the company which isn’t hamstrung by carrier branding. Even the older One X was billed as the “Evo 4G LTE” on Sprint, diluting HTC’s presence. Future HTC phones will likely not be plagued by this consumer confusion.

HTC heres to changeAlso, we recently saw the first fruits from HTC’s $1 billion ad campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr. and “Hipster Troll Carwashes”. This is a long term brand identity move, which should net positive results, but HTC is also in need of some short term sales to help boost confidence internally and with potential customers. They need evangelists and fans who will tout the company line, and be a grassroots first line of attack when new handsets are released.

Recent moves have been smart, HTC is trying to build a presence on sites like Reddit, and they’ve been more active on social media sites. It’s a tough road to build that kind of loyalty however. Their 716,000 Twitter followers are nothing to sneeze at, but pale in comparison to Samsung’s 4.4 million, and comparing recent tweets, actual engagement with likes and retweet action mirrors those follower numbers.

So while their long term strategies look sound, this isn’t a market known for patience, and that magical recipe for pairing good products and actual sales has been eluding numerous companies of late.

See my hands on reviews for the HTC One and the HTC One Mini.

(via WSJ)

Just for fun: Mike Tyson plays Punch Out for the first time.

How meta is it watching Mike Tyson play Punch Out? One of my all time favorite NES games, though I was never able to beat it. It does make me feel a little better about myself that one of the most ferocious boxers in history, who was the subject of this very game, was unable to get past the very first opponent. Come on Mike! It’s Glass Joe!

Microsoft XBox Music coming to iOS and Android devices.

xbox music streaming online radio launch ios android browser somegadgetguyOnline music streaming radio is a really competitive arena at the moment. You’ve got Slacker, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify, Last.FM, even streaming  terrestrial radio. Recently Google entered this market with Play Music All Access, and we’re pretty confident Apple will eventually arrive with iTunes Radio. Not entirely sure what the hold up with them is, as they kind of created the online music scene, but I digress.

Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to be left out of this market and they’re jumping in now with XBox Music.

The service sounds fairly familiar if you’ve used any other online music streaming solution. Microsoft has a library of around 18 million songs, and you can listen to unlimited music either with ads or ad-free for $10 a month (or $100 a year). After the first six months with the ad supported service however, you will be capped at 10 hours of music per day.

XBox Music Pass allows you to sync your music across all of your gadgets, from your XBox, to phones, tablets, and computers. That might be the smart play here by Microsoft, their music streaming will also come in iOS and Android app flavors. They have to know a large chunk of their XBox live subscriber base probably have phones or tablets from their competitors, but still might consider using the Music app built into their game console.

There’s also  a music discovery service called Smart DJ which should function like Pandora, and an update to Windows 8 will allow users to catalog music they find on other sites like Pitchfork to listen to later in their library.

This is good timing on Microsoft’s part. Sure they’re late to this party, but as they’re trying to move forward with their phone and tablet solutions, filling out the media purchasing options for their ecosystem means customers will be more likely to shop in their stores. As we’re getting set for the release of the XBox One, Microsoft is making a compelling argument for their console to be the front end of the entire living room. Plus iOS and Android users wont be excluded.

And, I did mention they were beating Apple to the punch here right? I mean… That’s just weird…

XBox Music

Pics of the Nokia Lumia 1520 Phablet leak again – Now with more specs.

lumia1520photos5_1020_verge_super_wideThis is becoming a contender for my “worst kept secret in tech” award, but another round of leaked pics featuring the Lumia 1520 have SURFACEd on the Verge. It looks a lot like previous leaked renders, and it’s looking like we might have a legit contender for the first Windows Phone phablet.

Also leaked/confirmed are the specs powering this giant slab. According to the leaker, the 1520 will sport a 6″ 1080p screen powered by a Qualcomm 800 series chipset. 32GB of storage will be on board with the ability to add more via SD card, and 2 GB of RAM should keep all your apps happy. The bulge on the back is rumored to house a 20MP camera which looks similar to the camera bump on the Lumia 925. No 1020 PureView action here, but it should still be a fantastic performer. nokialumia1520leaknew9_1020_verge_super_wideThis would be an exciting development for WP fans, as it would bring Microsoft’s platform screaming up to the cutting edge of the smartphone hardware heap.

Seeing how tightly MS controls what goes into Windows Phone, this could also be a clue that we’re due a refresh soon, and I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the 1520 released around the time that Windows 8.1 is announced. This would make a great flagship phone to show off a new OS update, while also reinforcing Microsoft’s commitment to improving the WP8 ecosystem. I’m looking forward to more news surrounding the GDR3 update.

(via The Verge)

Qi wireless gadget charging coming to Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Porsche vehicles.

audi logo windows phone 8 nokia lumia 920 wireless charging QI mercedes benz bmw volkswagen somegadgetguyTalk about getting juiced up!

There are a pair of competing standards for wireless phone and gadget charging. Duracell and Powermat use PMA while Nokia helped developed Qi for use in their Lumia phones. You can also find Qi on Samsung and Nexus devices. It’s one of my favorite convenience features on the 920. I pop it down on the Nokia pad and it charges. No messing with cables, easy peasy.

Well now Nokia’s Qi standard is going to be getting a significant boost in terms of mind share. The group Consumer Electronics for Automotive (CE4A) works with European auto makers to standardize mobile interfaces. They’ve recommended that vehicles implement Qi wireless charging and the big four German auto makers are already on board. They’ll likely also make recommendations on where charging surfaces are placed inside vehicles.

This comes after Toyota has started offering Qi charging in the 2013 Avalon.

If you were backing Powermat’s PMA standard, fret not. GM is set to push their flavor of inductive charging on select cars and trucks as part of an accessories package in 2014.

Full PR after the jump.

Continue reading Qi wireless gadget charging coming to Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Porsche vehicles.

Acapella ‘Abbey Road’ is kind of incredible. 16 minute Beatles medley on Youtube.

beatles abbey road alternateIt never ceases to amaze me what people can create. You’d think by now we’d have exhausted Beatles media, remixes, and mash ups. You would be wrong.

Industrious Youtuber JOSIV5 has created something kind of awesome in it’s simplicity. By slicing into the Beatles tracks on Rockband, he was able to pull the vocals out of the mix. What remains is a quiet reduction of some of the most recognizable songs in pop music history. Altogether familiar, yet an entirely new way to experience music we know so well. “Pure” Beatles if you will. Enjoy!

Synthetic Benchmarks: HTC One Mini

htc one mini synthetic benchmarks somegadgetguy video reviewBenchmarks really can’t tell you how a phone will perform in real world situations, but they can show relative performance between devices. Android seems to be entering a phase of “efficiency”, with mid-range phones utilizing dual-core processors. Even the Moto X, which stands as a premier handset for Motorola, only uses two cores to get the job done.

Let’s take a look at how the HTC’s Mini performs in a number of synthetic benchmarks against its big brother One and an older handset running similar internals.

Galaxy Note 3 first to feature new Qualcomm Radio Power Management. More run time, less heat.

qualcomm radio lte envelope tracking galaxy note 3 somegadgetguySo the radio in your phone is often one of the worst offenders in draining your battery. For all of our criticism surrounding powerful quad-cores, throw your phone into airplane mode, and it’s shocking how long that quad can run. We can only pack in SO much battery density, and the rest of your phone can be surprisingly frugal, which is why developments in radio management are so crucial to improving the smartphone experience.

Qualcomm has been working on Envelope Tracking for their LTE radio technology. To over-simplify, LTE is a little different in how it communicates with cell towers than 3G, which in the past has made it more difficult to adjust the power of the radio in your phone while maintaining a stable connection to a tower. Essentially, your phone’s radio tries to find an average signal to broadcast at, but often just runs at max on LTE, which is pretty terrible for battery life, and can sometimes result in a poor connection.

17 action menuEnvelope Tracking for LTE allows the radio to better scale with the quality of the tower’s signal. As the radio is working a brute force style signal, it should greatly reduce the amount of power needed to run, which should also cut back on wasted heat. Qualcomm is estimating a 20% reduction in power and a 30% reduction in heat generated by the radio. This should also provide a more stable link to the tower, hopefully resulting in faster throughput.

Now normally when we write up new tech like this it’s usually an article about researchers in a lab, and we’ll all have to wait for the breakthrough to eventually filter down into our actual consumer devices. The nice thing about Qualcomm’s ET gear is it’s already going to be included in the Galaxy Note 3. Likely one of the reasons Samsung went with Qualcomm’s 800 series chipset for its LTE variants of the note.

Hit the Qualcomm blog for better explanations of all the  science-y details.

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