Most of the numbers are now in for Q4, 2011 and, while some are estimates, we now have a pretty good idea of the state of the mobile industry for the last quarter. Phones grew 6% year on year, smartphones by a whopping 63%, with the latter now at 36% of the overall market. The top three companies were the same by either metric - Apple, Samsung and Nokia are way ahead of the rest.
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The product barcode recognition portion of Windows Phone's Bing Vision service is now available in the UK. Bing Vision using the phone's camera to perform visual searches. Previously, in the UK, the service would only recognise Microsoft Tags and QR codes, but it will now recognise barcodes on books, CDs and DVDs. Once an item has been identified Bing Vision provides a link to Ciao, a price comparison website.
Nokia has released its Q4 2011 results, reporting an operating loss of €954 million, with net sales of €10.0 billion (down 21% YoY). Nokia's Devices and Services division's profits were €203 million. Margins in devices and services were 3.4% (down from 12.7 % on Q4 2010 and up from 3.1% in Q3 2011). Total smartphone device sales were 19.6 million, compared with 28.6 million units in Q4 2010 (down 31% YoY) and 16.8 million units in Q3 2011 (up 17%, QoQ).
Sisvel International, a specialist company in managing intellectual property and maximizing the value of patent rights, has bought more than 450 patents originally filed by Nokia. 350 of these cover essential parts of the 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS/WCDMA) and 4G (LTE) technologies. The other 100 or so cover video encoding optimization technologies. The acquired patents remain subject to certain prior agreements and Nokia is pre-licensed for all the patents as part of the acquisition.
At CES Nokia is showing off two new applications, Nokia Transport and Nokia City Lens, which have been developed by its location and commerce division. Both applications show case Nokia's expertise and experience in location and routing related services and information, which is one of the key assets the company brings to its partnership with Microsoft.
At CES 2012, Nokia announced its third Windows Phone device, the Nokia Lumia 900, which will be available on the largest US operator, AT&T. Key features include LTE connectivity, a 4.3 inch ClearBlack Display AMOLED screen, a unibody polycarbonate body and an eight megapixel camera.
HTC today revealed the HTC TITAN II, an LTE variant of its big screen Windows Phone device. The device will be available shortly on the AT&T network in the US. The standout feature is, of course, LTE connectivity, which brings support for faster cellular data connections. Other key specifications include a 16 megapixel camera, 4.7" SUPER LCD screen, 16GB of memory, a 1.5GHz processor and 512MB of RAM.
We've gotten used to all our phones now coming with Gorilla Glass, meaning no more casual scratches and no need for screen protectors. Well, 'Gorilla Glass 2' has now been announced by Corning, its creators, at CES 2012, scheduled to start going into smartphones towards the end of the year, and claimed to be 20% thinner yet as tough as the original, meaning that screens can be brighter and more sensitive when used with capacitive touch technology.
The roll out for a minor update for Windows Phone, version 7.10.8107.79, commenced last week. Microsoft has delivered the 8107 update to all manufacturers and operators, but it is optional, which means it may not be made available for all devices. The update fixes a number of bugs including the one that occasionally caused the keyboard to disappear when entering text. In addition Microsoft has made some changes to the way it will be communicating about the delivery of future minor updates.
The Windows Phone Marketplace has now passed the 50,000 app and games submission mark. Content is being added at the rate of 265 items per day. At the time of writing, 50,126 items have been published. Of these, 17,276 were added in the last 90 days and 8,010 were added in the last 30 days. These items come from 13,002 different publishers.
The 50,000 mark, which has been reached sooner than we estimated, is a key milestone, but more important is the accelerating growth of the Marketplace. It took just over a year to get to 40,000 apps, but just 40 days to add the next 10,000 apps. That bodes well for Windows Phone in 2012.