Архив метки: France

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold arrives in Korea September 6, US in ‘coming weeks’

Five months after its planned launch, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally here. Well, almost. After offering a broad September time frame a few months back, the electronics giant just announced that the foldable foldable phone will be arriving in its native South Korea on September 6. Customers in the U.S. will have to wait a bit longer, with device arriving in “coming weeks.” Ditto for France, Germany, Singapore and the U.K.
The handset will be available in both black and silver options, along with a 5G version of the handset in “select countries,” marking the third Samsung device to offer up the next gen wireless technology.
If you follow the mobile space at all, you’re no doubt familiar with the saga. The company was targeting a spring timeframe for the launch of what is ostensibly the first consumer folding phone. The future, however, didn’t arrive as quickly as Samsung was hoping. Multiple review devices returned to the company broken. After initially blaming reviewers for the problems, the company ultimately accepted responsibility and went back to the drawing board for the 7.3 inch device.

“During the past several months, Samsung has been refining the Galaxy Fold to ensure it delivers the best possible experience,” the company explains. “Not only we improved the Galaxy Fold’s design and construction, but also took the time to rethink the entire consumer journey.”
The company’s clearly spinning this as an “opportunity,” and certainly it dodged a bullet by addressing these problems before releasing the product to consumers. Samsung has already discussed the fixes in previous announcements. The screen protector has been extended to under the bezels, so consumers don’t break the display by mistaking it for a removable laminate. Also, the gaps in the folding mechanism have been tightened, so particles can’t fall behind the screen.
The foldable starts at $2,000 and can currently be preordered through Samsung’s site.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold arrives in Korea September 6, US in ‘coming weeks’

How The Telecom Company Free Disrupted The Mobile Landscape In France


Imagine a mobile phone plan, such as the one from Free in France, with unlimited talk, unlimited SMS and MMS messages, tethering and, even more important, unlimited data with a speed reduction after 3 GB. Usually for that plan in the U.S., you would pay more than $100 for limited data with a two-year contract. In France, it costs $25 per month (€19.99, sales tax included) and there is no contract.

Yet, it is something radically new for French consumers who used to pay between $57 and $82 per month (€45 and €65) for a smartphone plan with only a couple of hours of talk time. The French telecom company Free disrupted the mobile landscape by using very clever technology, marketing and financial tricks. As a company with a hacker culture, Free is a good example of how to execute against well-established competitors.

Free isn’t a newcomer. It was an Internet service provider before becoming an integrated telecom company. On that market, it used technology as its weapon to conquer market shares. In 2002, it was the first French provider to offer a triple play service with DSL Internet, unlimited VoIP calls to French landline phones and television for $38 per month (€29.99).

The company believed so much in its offering that it stayed lean for years. While competitors had to hire a lot of salespersons and spend money on ads, Free created an offering that you could not ignore. That is why the cost per customer acquisition remained very low. Competitors had no choice but to lower their prices, even if it meant lower margins and lower infrastructure investments.

When the market consolidated, only a few Internet service providers remained. The three major companies Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom were all integrated telcos that could easily bundle a triple play offer with a mobile phone plan.

In 2009, the French regulatory agency ARCEP decided that three mobile phone providers were not healthy for competition and sold a fourth 3G spectrum license to Free for $302 million (€240 million). Free’s CEO Xavier Niel started hyping French consumers up about how they will revolutionize the mobile phone landscape with truly unlimited offers for a fraction of the price.

Two essential steps were necessary before launching the mobile offering. First, Free revamped its Internet offering by bundling unlimited calls to mobile phones. Retrospectively, it was a communication move as well as a financial move. It allowed Free to increase the price to $45 per month (€35.99) and therefore greatly improve its margins for its millions of customers. It allowed Free to invest in its mobile future thanks to its triple-play margins.

Second, Free signed an expensive roaming deal with Orange for six years. In other words, Free could launch its mobile offering quickly and without doing immoderate infrastructure investments. It only had to comply with ARCEP’s rule to cover at least 30 percent of the French population at launch. It did so cleverly by building cell towers very far apart to speed up the process, even if it meant an inefficient network.

Another unexpected advantage was that Free had the largest hotspot network in the world, according to them. Every triple-play modem was in fact a hotpost. Thanks to the EAP-SIM protocol, smartphones could connect seamlessly to those hotspots.

In January 2012, Free unveiled its $25 plan. Niel very aggressively said that competitors squeeze French consumers dry and that their customers were suckers or milk cows.

Finally, the last marketing trick is that Free does not include any discount on mobile phones. It is hard to compare its offering to traditional mobile phone plans from Orange, SFR or Bouygues Telecom. But appearances matter. Competitors had no choice but to do the same. They now all offer a similar plan for $25 to $31 per month (€20 to €25).

After six months, the results are in. Free now has 5.4 percent of market share, that is 3.6 million clients. As the market is mostly saturated, those clients left their previous mobile phone companies.

Maintaining solid growth will be tough for Free as competitors now have similar plans. It still needs to do important investments — especially on its LTE network — if it wants to stay ahead on the technology side. The risk is that investments will slow across the board with lower plans and networks will deteriorate or be late for LTE coverage.

Disrupting the mobile landscape in France was a long process for Free, but thanks to its hacker culture and radical differences from its competitors, it achieved exactly what it planned to do a few years ago.

How The Telecom Company Free Disrupted The Mobile Landscape In France

Mobile Parking Service Pango Makes Official U.S. Debut With New App, “Smart Garage” In NYC


Anyone who’s ever driven in a city can attest to the fact that it’s an utter pain in the rear to find somewhere to park. New York in particular is a nightmare for skittish drivers (like myself), but mobile parking service Pango is poised to help ease the hassle of city cruising and parking.

After launching in Israel in 2007, their zeal for expansion has prompted Pango to take their first official step into the United States with the launch of their mobile app and their first so-called smart garage in New York City (on 77th and Lexington, to be more precise).

Here’s the onboarding process in a nutshell — after installing the app (available on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry), potential parkers are tasked with creating an account and will need to plug in their license plate number and credit card credentials in order to be properly tracked and charged.

After that process is over, users will be able to search for different Pango locations to park at, but for now users in NYC need only pull into the smart garage and press a button to summon a valet. Once users are done poking around the Guggenheim (or whatever it is people do in the Upper East Side), they can use the app to alert the garage that they’re on en route back to their car, so the vehicle can be prepared to go. The amount owed is charged directly to the card on file — the service doesn’t currently cost anything beyond the garage’s usual fees — so all that’s left is to hop in and speed off.

And this is just the beginning — Pango told TechCrunch that they’re targeting other major metro areas to expand into, as well as bringing their on-street and non-valeted garage parking models live over the next few months. In fact, they’re already made some progress on that front as they soft-launched their on-street mobile parking service in Latrobe, Pennsylvania of all places last month.

It’s a funky concept to be sure, but it’s one that certainly seems to be doing the company well. At last glance, the company has entered into app-friendly partnerships with parking garages in 50 cities across five countries — Israel, Poland, Germany, France, and the U.S. What’s more, the company handles more than 2 million parking transactions monthly, and make their money by splitting revenue with the garage proprietor or the owners of the areas where they plan to set up their Pango parking meters.

Now there’s no shortage of services looking to disrupt the odious process of parking — Panda and Disrupt Battlefield finalist KurbKarma immediately spring to mind — but what makes Pango such a compelling option is the lack of friction involved. Exchanging pleasantries with the valet aside, the entire process essentially consists of a few button presses. At this stage though they’re being outpaced by some of the competition (Panda is currently live in Baltimore and Washington D.C. with two more cities waiting in the wings), and while their momentum has seen them take hold in 50 cities in just under five years, only time will tell if they’re able to replicate that level of success in the States.

Mobile Parking Service Pango Makes Official U.S. Debut With New App, “Smart Garage” In NYC

Flipboard’s Latest Brings Cover Stories To The iPad, Plus A New French Edition


Flipboard is rolling out the first major update to its social magazine tonight since its December launch on the iPhone. The new release brings the iPhone app’s most popular feature, “Cover Stories,” to the iPad’s bigger screen. Now, iPad users will see a large, double-tiled pane on the first page of their Flipboard app. There, you’ll find a mix of stories popular among your friends, those that are popular across Flipboard’s network, as well as those that are uniquely relevant to you.

Also new in tonight’s release are a number of design tweaks, meant to give Flipboard a print magazine-like appeal, as well as a much-requested third page in Flipboard’s Table of Contents. And for international users, there’s even more big news: Flipboard just launched its first standalone European edition with the arrival of Flipboard in France, and is promising more localized editions to come.

The company already has a localized version in the Chinese iTunes App Store, however, so this isn’t Flipboard’s first effort at targeting the international market with specialized content. But it is the start of a planned rollout that will bring localized editions to other regional markets. The company tells us that it expects to launch versions of its magazine app in other countries, including the U.K., Japan, Korea, as well as in other European and Asian countries where readership is high.

The regional versions are written entirely in that country’s language and include editorial selections and social networking options popular in that given locale. For example, the Chinese edition supports that country’s social networks, Renren and Sina Weibo.

All the regional editions will include the same features that are being launched today in Flipboard’s flagship product. The most notable change here, of course, is the arrival of Cover Stories on the iPad. As a regular Flipboard mobile user, I know from personal experience how useful this feature is, and have missed it myself when reading on the iPad. It’s Flipboard’s one-stop shop for catching up with the day’s news.

Cover Stories, for those unfamiliar, are those stories selected using technology Flipboard acquired from Ellerdale, an early semantic web startup. It’s how Flipboard knows which stories you – and you alone – would want to see. The system doesn’t just focus on general popularity (likes, retweets, etc.) but on relevance. That means, for example, if you always interact with a particular person on Facebook, even if they post infrequently and receive few likes or comments, that’s still a post you would want to see. Every single time.

This is just one of a handful of improvements found in Flipboard’s update tonight, but it’s by far the most critical. Personalization is key to startups like this (and there are plenty!), as it’s the noise-reducing functionality that helps you actually enjoy reading the news, without being consumed by it.

Also new today are improvements to layouts on interior pages, which involve more full-bleed layout designs, and text that overlays the graphics in the right places. These are features that are easy to do in print, but harder when done algorithmically.

In addition, users will have a new, third page for subscriptions, a new set up process on iPad that now mirrors the iPhone, adjustable font selections, access to international content from the Settings menu, and improved handling of Google Reader subscriptions. (For the 10 of us still using Google Reader, that means folders as tiles! Hooray!)

The Flipboard app updates and the French edition are rolling out starting now (midnight Eastern). Check your local iTunes App Store for the download.

Flipboard’s Latest Brings Cover Stories To The iPad, Plus A New French Edition

Synchronoss Buys Mobile Social Network Maker Miyowa For Up To $59M In Cash


Synchronoss, a provider of automation software, mobility management and cloud technology solutions, has acquired mobile social networking company Miyowa for $45.5 million in cash. In addition, Synchronoss may pay earn-outs of up to an additional $13.5 million in cash based on Miyowa achieving certain performance targets over the next four quarters.

Synchronoss, which is listed on NASDAQ, says it will leverage Miyowa’s social networking and mobile messaging technology to boost its existing mobility platform for connected devices (dubbed ConvergenceNow Plus+).

Headquartered in Marseille, France, privately-held Miyowa provides mobile social networking software to phone manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and ZTE, and carriers like Orange.

Miyowa claims it can be found on over 100 million devices throughout North America and Europe.

Synchronoss Buys Mobile Social Network Maker Miyowa For Up To $59M In Cash