Turning the smartphone from a distraction into a safe-driving tool

Road traffic incidents are the number one cause of accidental injury and fatality in the world. And while our smartphones connect us to a world of possibilities, the addictive nature of our mobile lives can regularly distract us from the world around us, which can be especially dangerous when driving. That’s why it’s great to see examples such as this safe driving app and car kit from Samsung which aims to use our reliance on smartphones in a positive way to nudge us into a more beneficial behavioural routine.

Developed by Leo Burnett Sydney, the Samsung “S-Drive” safe-driving kit aims to transform the smartphone from one of the biggest distractions on the road into a life-saving tool. Although the kit was launched back in 2014, I only stumbled across it this week. With the spate of campaign case study videos that we’ve seen coming from Cannes over the last couple of weeks, S-Drive is striking in its utility and the fact that it poses a solution to a real societal problem.

The pack includes an NFC-enabled windscreen smartphone holder that automatically launches the app and puts the device into safe-driving mode so that only voice activated calls and texts can be accessed when the car is moving. Drivers are also alerted when they exceed the speed limit, as well as given voice information on traffic updates, weather conditions, and accident blind spots. Think of it as a Sat Nav that looks out for the safety of its driver.

Drivers can also earn points for every safe kilometer travelled that can be redeemed against some pretty cool rewards, some of which are based around team goals with the aim of turning peer pressure, so often the cause of bad driving, into a positive influence.

Posted by Rob in Android, Apps, Mobile

Samsung’s mobile division might be just a little screwed

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Things are not looking too good for Samsung’s mobile division at the moment it appears. According to analysts this week, operating profits for the third quarter are projected to plummet 47%, while sales are projected to fall 15%. Grim reading for the Korean giants.

With cheaper competitors biting at their heels at the lower end of the market (namely Xiaomi) and Apple supersizing the iPhone and making iOS8 more customizable to bring it up to par with the premium Galaxy range, they have a battle on their hands from both sides.

The fact that Samsung were first to the market with a 5.5 inch screen won’t make much of a difference now that the playing fields are level and, with Apple selling 10 million iPhone 6s on the opening weekend last month, that’s 10 million people that presumably won’t be buying the Galaxy S5 or S6. They had their head start and now things are getting real.

If that isn’t bad enough, Samsung were overtaken by Xiaomi as the largest smartphone maker in China in Q2 2014, as well as in India that same quarter by local company Micromax Informatics. Their revenue from mobile handsets peaked at the end of last year and seems to have been on a downward spiral since then.

samsung revenue

With the smartphone wars usually framed in either an iOS vs. Android context on an operating system level, or an Apple vs. Samsung context on a handset level, Samsung and Android are pretty synonymous with each other in the smartphone space. Maybe not for long though with more and more viable competitors coming onto the scene like the aforementioned Xiaomi, and newer brands like the OnePlus One.

They have made more of an effort over the last few months to lessen their reliance on Android by pushing their Galaxy apps platform, trying to insulate themselves from becoming a commodity like Apple does with iOS, but with declining sales, they are in less of a position to do that.

While Apple’s models are entirely in the high-end bracket, Samsung are in danger of getting stuck in a no-man’s land of being too expensive for the low-end of the market, and now being in a straight shoot out with Apple in the high-end.

So, what to do for Samsung? Focus on cheaper models to fight for market share in emerging markets like China and India? Innovate in areas that competitors can’t, like with the flexible screens that they have been testing? They certainly have the resources as well as a strong R&D department but the market is being commoditized and a change of tack may be needed to stop the rot.

Posted by Rob in Android, Mobile, Tech

Android has 80% user share, but only 25% of iOS’ revenue

The below graph might be shocking to some but it’s not a trick of the eye, Android have an almost 80% share of the world’s smartphone unit sales, and this is expected to grow for the next couple of years at least. It may come as a surprise considering Apple’s success in the market and the idea of the smartphone war as a close two horse race between Apple and Google, but the facts don’t lie, when it comes to operating system user share, Google’s Android is the clear winner. Apple’s iOS only accounts for roughly 15% of all global smartphone sales.

Android’s rise has been staggering over the last four years, with their share of the user base almost doubling each year, the result of smartphones becoming more readily available in emerging markets which are targeted by producers of devices on the cheaper end of the scale that run Android.

But while stats like this might suggest that Apple could face serious trouble maintaining their position in the market over the coming years, the graph doesn’t necessarily paint a complete picture of the state of play. Android may have over 1bn monthly active users (not including those in China or on Kindle devices) compared to Apple’s 470m, but figures from Google’s IO event last month seem to confirm that Android users spend a significant amount less on apps for their device than their Apple counterparts.

Estimates from tech analyst Benedict Evans last week suggest that Apple earn, on average, more than four times the amount per user from apps than Google. Apple paid out an estimated $10bn to developers for sales of iOS apps over the last 12 months compared to Google’s $5bn to developers of Android apps. Taking into account their respective user bases this leaves Apple’s ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) at $21 compared to Android’s ARPU of $5.

This puts an entirely different spin on the shape of the smartphone industry. When you take into account the massive profits that Apple makes from the sales of it’s hardware this becomes even more stark. Android might be eating the market, but Apple have got the customers that matters, at least when it comes to cold hard cash.


Posted by Rob in Android, Apple, Apps, iOS

A quick look at Google’s new design approach

Android is getting a new lick of paint this Autumn with an update known as Android L. The design changes centre around a new ‘material design’ style which Google says is based on basic shapes and sheets of paper. This version features some slick new animations and what Google likes to call meaningful transitions. It seems that, in terms of design and intuitiveness at least, Android is starting to catch up with iOS.

Posted by Rob in Android, Design, Google

Nokia launch first ever Android smartphone

They might be in the middle of being acquired by Microsoft with the intention of ultimately becoming a Windows-only phone producer, but that hasn’t stopped Nokia announcing today the launch of their first Android smartphone, the Nokia X, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The new model comes in three versions (the X, X+ and XL) and is aimed at the masses with modest specs and a low-cost design resulting in a cheap price-point of €89. Hardly a competitor to the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4, the range is hoped to find a market with price sensitive users in Eastern Europe, Asia and South America. It’s not going to bring them back to their glory days as the biggest handset maker in the world but it’s a move in the right direction at least.

Posted by Rob in Android, Mobile, Nokia