Mobile Roundup: Samsung Profits Big As Apple Sees a Thunderbolt in the Future

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Chris Knight avatar


Asian tech companies are announcing their latest figures in force this week with Samsung bagging record sales for smartphones. Meanwhile, CES will see a raft of new innovations for mobile gadgets as Apple plans to bring Thunderbolt to future iOS devices.

Winning the Android War

There is up and down news out of Taiwan, with Samsung reporting record profits from its smartphones while main rival HTC sees its first loss in a couple of years. Samsung sold around 30 million smartphones in the last quarter, according to estimates, with the Galaxy Nexus filling the void left by Apple's iPhone 5 no-show.

Samsung overtook Apple as the biggest seller of smartphones last year, but Apple could reclaim that crown given the reports of massive numbers of iPhone sales recently. Verizon say it has doubled its iPhone sales and analysts are expecting big things with the iPhone 4S launching in China next week and iTunes launching in Latin America to boost its content figures.

HTC, the second biggest Asian smartphone vendor, had less to celebrate with its first loss since 2010,  based on shipping 10 million phones in the last quarter. The loss is being blamed on customers heading to Samsung and Apple, despite HTC launching a range of new models like the Android Sensation XL and the Windows Phone HTC Titan. With shipments falling, it may struggle to keep up with the two titans.

A Thunderbolt from the Blue

Apple will be looking to regain momentum in 2012 with the iPad 3 due soon, possibly packing a might A6 quad-core processor. But, all eyes are on the iPhone 5 which remains an enigma shrouded in a mystery in a black hole and now the iPad 4 which early rumors suggest may launch in October to compete with the first Windows 8 tablets.

Learning Opportunities

While that rolling boil of speculation continues, Apple is looking even further ahead. One recent patent from Apple suggests it will be adding the Intel-designed Thunderbolt connections to future iOS devices, probably beyond the iPhone 5.

There's a decent technical discussion of the innovation on PatentlyApple. While most Macs now have Thunderbolt connections, few PCs that I'm aware of do (one Sony model is all I can find), so how PC users will connect their devices may be a concern, although the data connector on iOS devices will likely evolve in future. Thunderbolt is already available with a HDMI connector, so links to HDTVs for showing content may be a more practical application.

CES To Show Tablet Leaps and Bounds

A nearer addition to most mobile devices will be Corning's Gorilla Glass 2, which is being shown off at CES next week. Presumably lighter, tougher and more scratch resistant, this could help lower the weight of tablets in particular.

Meanwhile, Intel will be showing off its new Atom processors which are likely to power the first wave of Windows 8 tablets and try to put pressure on ARM which seems to be in just about every device available. While ARM are hardly slacking, more competition in this space could bring lower prices and more advances faster.