Monthly Archives: March 2013

We have already seen some photos of the new Sony Xperia SP, which was previously know as the Sony CS5303 HuaShan, and now we have some more photos of the handset compared with Sony’s existing Xperia V smartphone.

The photos below show the new Sony Xperia SP, which were posted online by Android Hilife, and we also get some specifications on this new Android smartphone from Sony.

Sony Xperia SP

Mailbox, the new e-mail client that’s had the tech world all atwitter recently, has officially gone live in the App Store. Created by the productivity software masters at Orchestra, the ultimate goal was to reinvent the mobile-specific email experience.

Mailbox’s greatest innovation comes in the way you address e-mails: a single swipe to side will “snooze” still-unread emails, allowing you to effortlessly set them aside as you deal with the more important messages first. Read e-mails can also be deleted with a single swipe, which will supposedly encourage more active inbox cleaning.

Anyone eager to get on board with the behavior-changing mail client is probably in for disappointment. While the app is currently open to the public, you’ll still need to sign up for a wait list that has become almost absurdly long. But at least the app lets you watch your progress in line as it inches along ever so slowly. [iTunes]

“Investigative reporter” Teri Buhl is running around the Internet threatening to sue people for publishing her public tweets. That’s ridiculous in and of itself. But then your head just about explodes when you realize that a few years ago she published a teenager’s private sex diary online without permission. What a hypocrite.

Today, the Internet is lightly aflutter with the story of a journalist who doesn’t understand the rules of journalism or privacy. A TechDirt reporter wrote a post a few days ago investigating an odd statement on Buhl’s Twitter account claiming “Tweets are not publishable.” (She’s just made her account private, which she should have done long ago. Head to Favstar to see the awesomely mundane stuff she’s hiding amongst nearly 40,000 tweets.)

Reporter Who Doesn't Want Her Public Tweets Published Allegedly Posted a Teen      s Private Sex Diary Online

TechDirt consulted some lawyers and came to the sane conclusion that, as you’d expect, Buhl’s tweets are, in fact, publishable. Buhl then turned around and threatened to sue TechDirt and others that picked up the story for publishing her tweets. She’s out of her mind, those lawsuits will go nowhere.

But the charade is especially rich since, back in 2010, Buhl posted explicit sexual content from a teenager’s private journal on Facebook in the name of exposing some nonsensical notion about ‘What really goes on with those naughty kids these days.’ That teenager also happened to be the daughter of her boyfriend at the time. She betrayed that trust—for a story. She was arrested over allegations about this theft and a trial date is currently set for March 22nd.

Teri Buhl (Teri-Buhl, get it?) needs a lesson on the law and common decency and the Internet. [TechDirt]

comScore, Inc. today released data from the comScore MobiLens service, reporting key trends in the U.S. smartphone industry during the three month average period ending December 2012. Apple ranked as the top smartphone manufacturer with 36.3 percent share, while Google Android led as the #1 smartphone platform with 53.4 percent share.

Smartphone OEM Market Share

125.9 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (54 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in December, up 5 percent since September. Apple ranked as the top OEM with 36.3 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers (up 2 percentage points from September). Samsung ranked second with 21 percent market share (up 2.3 percentage points), followed by HTC with 10.2 percent share, Motorola with 9.1 percent and LG with 7.1 percent (up 0.5 percentage points).

Top Smartphone OEMs 3 Month Avg. Ending Dec. 2012 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Sep. 2012 Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Age 13+ Source: comScore MobiLens

MacDailyNews Note: This comScore report covers the period of October 1, 2012- December 31, 2012. iPhone 5 was released in the U.S. and Canada on September 21, 2012 and faced severe supply constraints for much of the period covered by this report.

Smartphone Platform Market Share

Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 53.4 percent market share (up 0.9 percentage points), while Apple’s share increased 2 percentage points to 36.3 percent. Blackberry ranked third with 6.4 percent share, followed by Microsoft (2.9 percent) and Symbian (0.6 percent).

Top Smartphone Platforms 3 Month Avg. Ending Dec. 2012 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Sep. 2012 Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Age 13+ Source: comScore MobiLens

Source: comScore, Inc.

Sprint Nextel Corp. today reported fourth quarter consolidated net operating revenue of $9 billion and full year 2012 consolidated net operating revenue of $35.3 billion. Sprint reported record quarterly and annual Sprint platform wireless service revenues of nearly $7 billion and $27.1 billion, respectively. Driven by increasing postpaid ARPU and continued Sprint platform subscriber growth, wireless service revenues for the Sprint platform grew 12 percent year-over-year for the quarter and nearly 15 percent for the full year.

The company reported a net loss of $1.3 billion and a diluted net loss of $.44 per share for the fourth quarter of 2012 as compared to a net loss of $1.3 billion and a diluted net loss of $.43 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011. Sprint’s fourth quarter 2012 results include accelerated depreciation of approximately $400 million, or negative $.13 per share (pre-tax), primarily related to Network Vision, including the expected shutdown of the Nextel platform, and $45 million or negative $.01 per share (pre-tax) related to impacts from Hurricane Sandy.

The Sprint platform postpaid subscriber base grew for the eleventh consecutive quarter, with net additions of 401,000 driven by a postpaid Nextel recapture rate of 51 percent, or 333,000 subscribers, and strong 4G LTE smartphone sales. Sprint platform prepaid net additions equaled 525,000 due in part to the best ever quarterly prepaid Nextel recapture rate of 50 percent, or 188,000 subscribers. Sprint sold approximately 2.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter with 38 percent purchased by new customers. As of the end of the fourth quarter, Sprint had sold more than 4 million 4G LTE smartphones.

“Sprint’s strong performance was fueled by record wireless service revenue on the Sprint platform due to year-over-year postpaid ARPU growth and Sprint platform net additions,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. “As a result, quarterly Adjusted OIBDA performance improved year-over-year in spite of significant cost increases related to Network Vision and the iPhone, both of which are key investments for our business that we expect will improve the customer experience and lead to growth in the years ahead.”

Sprint continues to make significant progress on Network Vision deployment. The number of sites that are either ready for construction or already underway has grown to more than 19,500 – approximately half the total number of sites to be upgraded. To date more than 8,000 sites are on air and meeting speed and coverage enhancement targets. Recent weekly construction starts are up 56 percent from the third quarter. Sprint continues to expect to have 12,000 sites on air by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

As part of Network Vision, Sprint has launched 4G LTE in 58 cities and expects that 4G LTE will be available in nearly 170 additional cities in the coming months. During 2012 Sprint launched 15 4G LTE devices including Apple iPad mini and iPad with Retina Display in the fourth quarter.

During the fourth quarter, Sprint raised additional debt financing of nearly $2.3 billion and used the proceeds to retire nearly $1.2 billion of 2014 debt maturities and more than $1.1 billion of 2015 maturities. The remaining outstanding principal balances of Sprint’s 2013, 2014 and 2015 maturities are $366 million, $247 million and $566 million, respectively. Sprint also received $3.1 billion from SoftBank in exchange for a newly issued 1 percent, seven-year convertible bond related to the companies’ pending merger.

As of December 31, 2012, the company’s liquidity was approximately $9.5 billion consisting of $8.2 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and $1.3 billion of undrawn borrowing capacity available under its revolving bank credit facility. Additionally, the company has borrowed $296 million to-date of available funding under the secured equipment credit facility, reducing the remaining undrawn availability to $704 million. Sprint generated $216 million of cash flow from operating activities and negative Free Cash Flow of $1.3 billion in the quarter.

The company expects 2013 Adjusted OIBDA to be between $5.2 billion and $5.5 billion.

More details via Sprint here.

Apple today announced a new sales milestone for its iTunes digital music store, with 25 billion songs sold. The news follows an announcement made earlier this month that the App Store has had over 40 billion app downloads since its founding. For the iTunes music store, the new record comes just shy of its 10 year anniversary, but for the App Store, the growth has been quicker, with the larger number accumulated over approximately four and a half years.

Apple has been pretty consistent in terms of releasing numbers to the public whenever it crosses a key iTunes store download or sales milestone, often unveiling the numbers at developer events like WWDC, press conferences held to reveal new products, or during quarterly earnings calls in addition to through standalone announcements like this one. So we’ve created a chart that tracks the progress of both stores.

All numbers used here are sourced from official Apple claims made during the types of events or in the types of documents mentioned above. In addition to the historical figures, we’ve included rough projections for next year based on the past numbers and rates of growth resulting from crunching those numbers. Both stores show similar annual growth rates between the most recent yearly figures, but the App Store’s much larger current download volume suggests it will reach a much higher total number next year if things remain more or less constant. That said, it could be a volatile time for both digital marketplaces, as Android gains ground and streaming music services continue their strategy of expansion and partnerships with OEM manufacturers.

Some other interesting tidbits to put these numbers in context: Apple’s iTunes growth means that were you to average out the number of songs downloaded across the entire global population, it’d come out to 3.57 songs per person, and 25 billion songs also adds up to a daily average of 7,002,585 songs downloaded per day over the 9 years, 9 months and 9 days of the iTunes Store’s existence.

Apple’s iTunes music store song purchases grew 25 percent between today and the last time it reported figures, which was when it announced over 20 billion at a press event in September. That’s about a 65 percent annual growth rate, which beats the three-year annual average of around 50 percent when measuring progress since 2010, and could indicate the store is actually seeing an increase in the rate of growth, but it’s also possible the holiday bump between those two dates is having an outsized effect on how the growth rate looks at this particular moment.

Twitter has announced a much-needed update to its search product today, which will be available on all mobile devices: iOS, Android and mobile web. The company boasts that the update will help you find relevant tweets, trends and people to follow in a single stream.

This is very similar to the experience that we’re starting to see make its way to the website.

The update allows you to search from anywhere in the app instead of having to tap over to discover. Until now, “Interactions” has been an option for reviewing the connected tab, which displays all of your replies. This is now a default feature. These changes are designed to engage people more on Twitter, whether they’re heavy sharers or not. In the past, the company has said that you don’t have to tweet to use Twitter.

That’s partially true, but if people find things that interest them, they’ll engage a little bit more. Whether it’s a reply or an idea of something to say themselves during an event like the Super Bowl, discovery is something that Twitter needs to incrementally get better at to make it a full social network. Twitter says it wants each tab to have a “single stream of content,” which is of course easier to read. These changes do the trick.

Here’s a full rundown of what has changed:

Discover: Now all the content in Discover – Tweets, Activity, Trends and suggestions of accounts to follow – appears in a single stream, on both iPhone and Android. You can also dive into Activity and Trends from new previews at the top of the Discover tab.

Search: Search results now surface the most relevant mix of Tweets, photos, and accounts, all in one stream (similar to the stream in Discover). We’ve also added a new search button to Twitter for iPhone, letting you search from anywhere within the app. (This button was already available in the Android and iPad apps.) Look for the magnifying glass icon next to the button you use to compose a Tweet.

Connect: To provide a simpler experience in the Connect tab, the default view is now Interactions, which shows you new followers, retweets and mentions. If you prefer to view only your mentions in Connect, you can adjust the default in settings – find the “Connect tab” option and select “Mentions only”.

Links: Click a URL in a Tweet to go directly to that website from any timeline and get to content highlighted on Twitter faster. (Previously, when you tapped any part of a Tweet, it would first expand and then a second click was required to get to the website.)

It’s nice to see that you don’t have to do any extra tapping to click a link. This is a nice step towards efficiency and leaves you with with more clicks for all of your important BuzzFeed cat shares. The Twitter engineering team took things a step further to explain how it decides what to show you, based on “burstiness,” which is clearly a highly technical term.

Certain types of content may not have many relevant items to show for a particular input query, in which case we may choose not to include this type of content in search results. In other cases, for instance if query volume or matched item counts have an unusual spike (what we call a “burst”), we show this type and may also boost it to appear at a higher place in the results. To facilitate this, we represent trends in searches or matching result counts as a single number that is proportional to the level of “burstiness”.

Eventually, we should expect that Twitter starts to learn our tendencies, including who we interact with the most. For example, if you tend to expand a tweet from the same person a lot, especially if there’s a photo embedded, it should do it automatically.

But of course, the first step to machine learning is having the engagement and tendencies to learn from. This design and experience consistency will help Twitter get that much closer.

[Photo credit: Flickr]

It seems strange, but Samsung has just announced a new phone that will not have its famous user interface, opting instead for the Android UI. It’s the Samsung Galaxy Discover, and it offers a more pure Android experience. This phone will be heading to the U.S. only via Net10 and Straight Talk.