ZTE Nubia Z7 gets official, but don’t count on it coming to your neighborhood

ZTE-Nubia

Last week we got a glimpse of a device rumored to be ZTE’s Nubia Z7 and while it doesn’t look exactly like the handset that ZTE revealed today, there are definitely some similarities. So now that it’s here, what does the Chinese manufacturer’s new flagship smartphone bring to the table? How about a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, a Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and Android 4.4.

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Google tried to buy WhatsApp for $10B before Facebook succeeded with $19B purchase

Image: mobilegeeks.de

Image: mobilegeeks.de

Update: TheInformation is reporting that Google was willing to beat Facebook’s $19 billion offer. More behind a paywall here.

Google tried to buy messaging service WhatsApp for $10B prior to Facebook’s successful $19B bid, according to two separate sources cited by Fortune. It has also been reported that Google had earlier offered WhatsApp “millions of dollars” simply for the right to be informed if WhatsApp received an offer from anyone else, an offer the messaging company turned down.

The size of the offers seem almost incredible given that the app is free and has no ads. Its entire revenue stream depends on users signing up to a 99c annual subscription after their first year, giving it – at present – a revenue ceiling of $450M a year.

But it’s likely that WhatsApp’s real appeal was it provides access to a core market for the future: mobile-first users in developing markets …  Read more

Google abandons plans for new data center in Hong Kong due to lack of land


Google’s proposed data center (red icon) location in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Kowloon, next to a golf course.

News that Google was building new data centers in Hong Kong have circulated since the beginning of the year. Google has, however, now decided to cancel the project in Hong Kong. The company blames real estate acquisition issues as the reason for the decision. It isn’t immediately apparent if Google’s contentious relationship with the Chinese Government is to blame or if Honk Kong’s operation costs were at issue. It was reported in September 2011 that Google had already acquired  2.7 hectares of land n the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Kowloon which was expected to employ 25 full-time Googlers by this year…

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Leaving Google for Xiaomi nothing personal but “a dream job,” says Hugo Barra

barra

Hugo Barra, Google’s former VP of Android product development, says his move to Xiaomi was planned long before it emerged that Sergey Brin was romantically involved with his former girlfriend.

In an interview with AllThingsD, Barra said that the opportunity to play a key role in the global expansion of the company dubbed ‘the Apple of China’ was one he could not resist.

“To me, right away, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, truly a dream job, this idea of building a global company which could be as significant as Google from the ground up,” said Barra. “It was just something that I will never come across, with a team whom I know, with a company that has DNA similar to my own and, on top of that, to live in Asia for at least some period of time” …  Read more

A behind-the-scenes look at Motorola’s U.S. Moto X factory in Texas [Gallery]

The Verge has a great behind-the-scenes look at Motorola’s Moto X factory in Texas that is currently pumping out around 100,000 units of the new flagship device per week. We reported this morning that Motorola is currently shipping a disappointing 100k units a week, so it’s not that surprising to learn that around 200,000 square feet of the factory is not being used.

To accomplish this, Motorola partnered with Flextronics to refab a factory in Texas formerly used by Nokia. In a mere six months, the factory was completely updated and transformed to Motorola’s specifications, which including the hiring of 2,500 workers to make it run. Motorola did not actually make a final call to do manufacturing in the US until late 2012, but the factory was operational by August 6th of this year. The factory currently puts out about 100,000 devices per week, but Motorola says that it’s possible to scale it to tens of millions of units. Given that more than half of the over 400,000 square foot factory floor sits unused right now, that’s not too hard to believe.

It also spoke with Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside about why bringing assembly to the US was crucial for the Moto X’s MotoMaker customizations features.  Read more

Samsung S4 shipments reportedly pass 20M in less than 3 months, company eyes 100M

Graphic: theverge.com

Graphic: theverge.com

Several Korean news sites are reporting that the Samsung S4 has now passed 20 million shipments. Samsung’s flagship handset, launched in April, hit 10m shipments by the end of May and it appears that the pace has scarcely slowed since – almost matching that of the iPhone 5.

As ever, we have to caution that Samsung cites shipments rather than sales, meaning that unsold handsets stored in warehouses get counted, but in general carriers and retailers don’t like to sit on large inventories, so sales shouldn’t lag shipments by too big a gap …  Read more

Samsung to start 2013 with new brand unveiling at CES?

Samsung plans to welcome the new year with a new look.

ChannelNews just published a report, citing sources in Asia, that claimed Samsung is working with Scott Bedbury, a brand-marketing wizard whose past experience includes Nike, to launch a “more vibrant International brand image alongside the likes of arch rival Apple.”

The new look, which apparently ditches the blue Samsung logo and fashion’s all-new advertising material with fresh colors that will compliment an overall brand identity for the company, is set to unveil at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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Samsung estimates record quarterly profit of $5.15B with strong Galaxy Note sales

Ahead of its full quarterly report scheduled for April 27, Samsung Electronics today estimated its operating profits for the three-month period that ended in March. Estimated at 5.8 trillion won or $5.15 billion USD, that is nearly double the company’s results from the same quarter a year ago and up from the roughly 5 trillion won originally forecasted by analysts. While attributing the strong quarter to the Galaxy Note, the report from Reuters noted Samsung is “set to consolidate its market position with new products” over the next few months, including a “revamped Galaxy S” that will compete with Apple’s next iPhone:
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Google’s Street View and Maps face criticism throughout Asia, captures beauty of Thailand and Amazon

Google launched its Street View galleries this past week for Amazon and Thailand without a hiccup, but the Internet giant was not-so lucky elsewhere, as it has faced many obstacles over its mapping applications throughout the globe—especially in Asia.

Reuters published a lengthy reported today detailing how Google often meets hurdles worldwide, such as the recent debacle on its privacy policy, and it fully described the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company’s tenacious attempts to chart the streets and landscapes of Asia while consistently meeting privacy, political, and cultural barriers.

For those that live under a rock: Google Street View is a service highlighted in Google Maps and Google Earth that offers panoramic views of streets. It launched in 2007 in the United States and has expanded to many cities and rural areas worldwide.

A round up of Asia’s criticisms is below.

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HTC’s fourth-quarter earnings disappoint as smartphone competition heats up


Source: HTC

HTC posted unaudited consolidated results for the fourth quarter of 2011 this morning. The numbers do not look good for Asia’s second-largest handset maker as net income fell 26 percent annually to $11 billion in New Taiwan currency, or approximately $364 million USD – its first quarterly profit decline in two years. Revenue for the quarter was NT$101,419 million, a 2.49 percent annual decline.

Unaudited operating income reached NT$12.98 billion, but net income after tax was NT$11.02 billion, which is slightly behind the NT$11.6 billion expected by 11 analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Shares fell 4.2 percent to a three-week low of NT$462 in Taipei trading as Citigroup cut both the 2012 and 2013 earnings estimates for the company by 19 percent each. Citigroup explained its decision with the expected market share losses to Apple and Samsung. Surely, the writing has been on the wall for HTC for some time (here and here). More information and another chart are featured right after the break.

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Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich to be announced in Hong Kong on October 19th?

The Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) will be announced in Hong Kong on October 19th, if a new report from Engadget is true. Both products would be announced by Samsung and Google at AllThingsD’s Asia conference, the report mentions. The Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich were originally scheduled to be announced yesterday, but were delayed out of respect for the passing of Apple’s Steve Jobs.

There have been other rumors floating around that the Nexus Prime will go on sale, on Verizon Wireless, November 3rd. Ice Cream Sandwich would also land that day, too.