Kantar On Smartphones: Samsung 45% Of Euro Sales; Apple Gained Only In UK, US; RIM Holds On In France

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We have seen reports from Strategy Analytics, IDC and Canalys detailing how many smartphones that handset makers shipped in the last quarter (the takeaway: Android is still on top, with Samsung the chief benefactor); today, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, WPP’s market analytics business, has released its rolling monthly update on how that translates into on-the-ground sales in some of the biggest markets in the world. The results give more weight to Samsung’s current domination; and underscore how important it is for Apple to “wow” the market next month with the launch of a new handset.

Kantar, which bases its conclusions on millions of interviews with consumers every month (1 million in Europe alone, it notes), found that Samsung is currently the top-selling brand in Europe at the moment, thanks in part to a successful launch of the S3 in May, but also aggressive pricing in a region hit by economic pressures. Samsung accounted for 45% of all smartphone sales across the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the last 12 weeks that ended July 8. Arch-rival Apple, in contrast, accounted for just 16% of all sales in the region, Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo tells me. In fact, Apple has declined in every market Kantar surveyed, except for the UK and U.S.

Android’s share of sales across the big-five European countries is now at 66%, a big jump from 43% a year ago, Kantar notes. In Australia, Android took 60.5% of all sales in the period, and in the U.S. it accounted for just over 51% of all sales.

Apple’s lackluster performance in Europe is something that Apple itself highlighted during its last earnings report, blaming the economy and people holding off on purchases until the next iPhone release. Kantar showed that as a result of these factors, Apple took between 4.3% and 11.4% fewer sales in the last 12 weeks than it did a year ago across the markets of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Australia — with Australia accounting for the biggest of those declines.

Interestingly, despite Android doing so well globally, it actually declined in one key market: the U.S. its 51.5% share of the market is actually 5.3 percentage points down on a year ago. Was this because the Galaxy S3 launched later there, I asked Sunnebo? No, he says, it’s about consumer preference and price:

“An important point here is that there is very little difference in price between an Apple iPhone or an Android phone in the U.S., so the choice is made purely on what the consumer wants, not what they can afford,” he tells me, “whereas in Europe, Apple continues to command a price premium over Android. With recessionary pressures as they are in Europe this is likely to have an impact.”

Indeed, he notes that the S3 is more of a brand pusher than a direct sales generator: “While the majority of noise is focused on big-name products such as the S3 or S2, it’s easy to forget that Samsung is selling smartphones across all tiers,” he notes in the report. Kantar says that in the UK, for example, Samsung accounts for five of the top 10 best-selling smartphones in the UK, “with even the smartphone/tablet hybrid Samsung Galaxy Note making it into the top ten.”

In the U.S. Apple’s share of sales went up by 9.5 percentage points to account for 38.2% of all sales in the period. The UK was not as strong but also increased: up by 2 percentage points to 22.9% of sales.

Kantar notes that a lot of this appears to be about people holding off from purchases until the next iPhone comes along. “Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data clearly shows that the proportion of Apple consumers who have owned their device for at least 18 months and not upgraded has increased markedly over the last quarter, indicating current owners are holding off upgrading until the release of the iPhone 5,” Sunnebo writes.

Indeed, the Apple brand continues to command “high loyalty”: in the UK 80% of consumers who own an iPhone have bought another; and 92% say they plan to stick with Apple when they next upgrade. “With this in mind, any dip in Apple share is likely to be short-lived with the release of an updated iPhone in quarter three bringing momentum back to the Cupertino giant,” he concludes.

Other brands. The story is not great. While Apple’s declines may be short-lived, RIM’s seem more indicative of a longer-term issue. The only country where it has managed to stave off market share declines is in France, where it only accounted for 9.2% of sales. In the U.S., which used to be RIM’s proud, top market, it only accounted for 3.7% of sales. Ouch. The UK is the only market where RIM managed to go into double digits for sales, with 10.9% of sales in that country, although that is half of what it was last year.

The story for Windows Phone is similar to that of iPhone and iOS, notes Kantar — that is, people appear to be holding off for Windows Phone 8 releases. That’s happening on a much smaller and more depressing scale, though. Windows Phone did not break through even 5% of sales in any market Kantar researched, as you can see in the full tables below. And just as RIM has a (sort of) break out market in the form of the UK, Symbian is still seeing a bit of life in Italy, where it accounted for 12.8% of sales, although that is a decline of more than 22 percentage points on last year.


TechCrunch » Gadgets

Back To School 2012: Welcome To The Whiteboard Jungle

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Every year we have a little tradition around TC: a “back to school” series for folks who are either entering college or just leaving the confines of academia for their first job. Our goal in this series is to talk about all the gadgetry, great and small, that would help make that transition a little smoother and, more important, offer some advice from entrepreneurs and business folks who have been through it all.

You can read all of our coverage right here.

These next few days we’re going to feature top 5 lists of some of our favorite gear as well as advice and videos from some of the biggest names in tech. We also welcome your tips and tricks and we’d love to publish them on Friday in a compendium of college knowledge. Please submit stories, ideas, and tips to [email protected] with the subject “COLLEGE.”

Until then, look for our top five lists this week and remember: Mark Zuckerberg never graduated, and look how he turned out.


TechCrunch » Gadgets

ZabKab Lets You Hail A NYC Yellow Cab With Your Phone

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Services like Uber, Taxi Magic, Cabulous, and SideCar are completely disrupting the way we get around our cities. But almost all of them use private services, excluding the city’s public transportation. But a new startup has joined the pack of transportationally gifted companies, and (wait for it) with New York’s infamous yellow cabs. No joke.

It’s called ZabKab.

It works almost identically to Uber, except that the broadcast you send out when you hail a taxi appears on the yellow cab driver’s smartphone or tablet. You tap a button, and then watch all the cabs in your area move on the map in real time. Yellow cabs are available, grey cabs have a passenger.

But the genius here isn’t in the passenger version of the app; it’s in the driver version. To comply with Taxi & Limousine Commission regulation, the driver can not look at the app’s display while moving. Unless the car is at a standstill, the entire display fades to grey (but will cleverly ping if a new hail has popped up in the area).

When the cab isn’t moving, the driver can see anyone who has hailed a fare nearby with pretty excellent accuracy — they can even see which side of the street you’re on.

When a passenger gets in the cab and the driver surpasses 5mph, that passenger’s hail gets removed from the board.

Right now, over 1,000 taxi drivers have downloaded the app, and that number is sure to grow quickly considering that they spend 25 percent of each shift looking for a fare. Plus, cabbies don’t pay FlatIron on a per-use basis, but rather by subscription. The driver gets the ZabKab Driver app free for the first 60 days, and $ 14.95/month after that. A three-month subscription costs $ 12.95/month, while a six-month subscription costs $ 9.95/month.

And all that’s needed to get started is a smartphone or tablet, as the app is available for both in the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store, with plans to launch on BlackBerry and Windows Phone next.

[Image credit: DailyMail]


TechCrunch » android

The Top 5 iPhone Cases For The College-Bound

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There you are, full of gumption, standing next to a packed car. You’re off to college. You’re about to set off into the world to, as they say, make something of yourself. Armed with your trusty iPhone, you’ll likely reach your lofty goals. But an iPhone can be more than just a smartphone. With the right case, an iPhone can be a multifunctional tool, converging the power of the Internet with personalization more brilliant than the mating dance of a peacock.

Rocking a naked iPhone is a sign of confidence with a side of stupidity. One drop, and the phone will die. Thankfully, there are countless iPhone cases that will wrap the phone in protection while providing plenty of charm and character. As explained in the Legend of Zelda, it’s dangerous to go alone. Take one of these (iPhone cases).

Opena

Available in black and white, the $ 40 Opena is an iPhone case with slide-out bottle opener. It’s a bona fide crowd pleaser that will turn any chump into a lady-killer. As I wrote in 2011, cool kids are never without bottle openers and the Opena iPhone case sticks one on the backside of your iPhone.

Now, as an owner and occasional user of this case, I can profess that it’s worthy of your money. First off, the case itself is very durable and withstands nearly everything. It’s hard as nails. But more importantly, the bottle opener works very well. It’s a bit of a novelty, but it performs as advertised and even after likely hundreds of uses, the iPhone has survived despite the dock connector’s proximity to the beer bottle. The Opena is a must-have iPhone case.

Playa Case

The Playa Case comes from the makers of the Opena. The backside of the polycarbonate case sports a discreet storage compartment. The possibilities are nearly endless. Store your lunch card or computer lab’s access card in there. Slip in some notes.

Or use the case as it’s designed and store two condoms with your iPhone. For $ 35 the Playa case will protect your iPhone and your future: Don’t store condoms in your wallets, guys.

Speck SmartFlex Card


iPhone cases with card slots are pocket savers. Ditch the wallet and store your credit cards, IDs and access cards with your iPhone. However, there is a big downside: If you lose your phone, you essentially lose your entire life.

The SmartFlex case from Speck is my favorite. It’s durable, comes in a range of colors, and at $ 35, it doesn’t drain the beer fund. Or, for a few dollars more, Speak also sells the CandyShell case which also holds cards but offers a bit more protection.

Mophie Juice

The iPhone’s battery life sucks. It just does. There are plenty of ways to recharge the phone while on the go, but leave the battery charger at home and snag a Mophie Juice case.

Starting out at $ 80, these iPhone cases add a bit of heft to the sleek iPhone but they basically double the phone’s battery life. For $ 100 the Juice Pack Plus offers 25% more battery life, at $ 130, the Juice Pack Pro sports military-spec construction and even more battery.

Durable cases

College is a brutal environment. It’s best to protect your iPhone from the mayhem. There are several solid options available, too.

Lifeproof cases are the gold standard when it comes to durable iPhone cases. They’re a tad expensive, but they work. Since Lifeproof brags its cases can protect an iPhone from water, dirt, snow and shock, I’m sure it will protect against beer, mud, slushies and dropkicks as well.

G-Form makes several durable cases that are rather attractive as well. At $ 40 each, the X-Protect and Extreme Grid wrap the iPhone in the company’s shock absorbing material and provide extreme protection against droppage. Plus, they look pretty rad.

See all of our back to school coverage right here.


TechCrunch » Gadgets

Conan O’Brien Breaks Down The Apple/Samsung Trial [VIDEO]

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Apple and Samsung are currently entrenched in courtroom warfare. Apple alleges that Samsung stole some of iOS’s key functions. Samsung is saying nuh-huh. Here’s a video of a Samsung VP, released by Coco O’Brien’s web monkeys, that shows Samsung, the company’s products and its attitude are completely different from Apple’s.

Listen, Apple and Samsung’s legal battle can make some fun headlines, but it’s mostly just an interesting sideshow. It’s just two massive consumer electronic giants moaning over icon placement and retail strategy. Outside of Samsung and Apple’s boardrooms, only fanboys care about the outcome.

Apple has the right to defend what it feels it developed and patented. And likewise, Samsung has the duty to keep up with the Joneses, or if you will, the Jobses, and make sure its products can compete against the market leader.


TechCrunch » Gadgets