Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Worldwide smartphone sales showed ‘biggest decline ever’, average mobile data usage jumps 11GB per month in lockdown, Apple and Google collaborate on contact tracing apps, but privacy questions remain… and much more…
The impact of COVID-19 on smartphone sales was drastic, as market analysts noted shipments worldwide dropped by millions in the last few months. While manufacturers are typically nonspecific about sales numbers, IDC’s Quarterly Mobile Phone tracker noted this was “the largest annual (year over year) decline ever” at about 11.7 percent.
Being cooped up in lockdown was always going to mean more mobile data use as people head online to beat the boredom and escape those same four walls.
But the amount and way that data usage has jumped is pretty pronounced, with 11GB more (on average) being consumed each month by members of the UK public.
Apple saw growth for the first three months of the year, as falling device sales in China were offset by demand for its streaming services due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Sales climbed to $58.3bn (£46.2bn), up from $58bn in the same period in 2019 and beating expectations of $54.5bn.
Apple boss Tim Cook said the firm saw a “record for streaming” and “phenomenal” growth in the online store.
Facebook executives warned signs of stability in its advertising business this month may not last, as it reported a surge in users and profit in Q1.
The company emerged from the quarter with solid results despite the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, as revenue rose 18 per cent year-on-year to $17.7 billion and net income more than doubled to $4.9 billion.
NB-IoT is another of those mobile segments where China is racking up big numbers.
It has just crossed the 100 million connections mark and according to a Huawei forecast will double that by the end of 2020. Christian Kim, Omdia senior analyst for IoT and smart cities, said China accounted for more than 90% of global NB-IoT connections at the end of 2019.
But despite that, takeup is falling short of China’s own forecasts.
The two biggest names in mobile internet devices are coming together to develop a unified contact tracing app, in the interests of helping to control the coronavirus pandemic. While Apple and Google are the two best-positioned companies to track the world’s smartphones in this way, there will be much “work to do to convince a rightfully skeptical public that they are fully serious about the privacy and security of their contact tracing efforts,” as Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut put it. Additionally, the current plan would not cover an estimated 2.5 billion phones that are in use across the world and may be hampered by technical issues.
Ericsson has announced it has inked another China Mobile deal, extending its 5G radio access network (RAN) partnership and charged with 5G core components for the second phase of the telco’s nationwide new radio (NR) standalone rollout.
The 5G RAN partnership will extend to 17 provinces, and use the Ericsson Radio System solution.
Consumers’ attention across the globe has turned from outward spaces to the internal spaces of the home, as we all start operating our daily lives within four walls and within the confines of technology – such as our work, communication with others, etc. But what we are looking for has also changed.
While social-networking sites are reporting massive spikes in use due to social isolation, the vast majority of that growth is less from users scrolling through feeds. Instead, people are leveraging messaging services such as Messenger and WhatsApp. It’s clear that direct communication with friends and family members is essential.
HTC’s Exodus blockchain smartphones will soon receive their own mining app, letting them mine Monero cryptocurrency when plugged in and idle, The Block reported earlier this month. The DeMiner app, which is being developed by Midas Labs, is scheduled to launch in Q2 2020.
According to Midas Labs’ Jri Lee, one of HTC’s Exodus 1S smartphones should be able to mine $0.0038 of Monero a day, which doesn’t exactly turn the phone into a moneymaking machine. In fact, Decrypt ran the numbers and found that, at that rate, you’d be in line to make just over a dollar a year ($1.387). That means you’d pay off the €219 (around $237) Exodus 1S in around 170 years — excluding electricity costs, that is.