HTC One E8 Brand Logo 4

After posting a string of successive quarterly losses, Q2 marked the potential start of a turnaround for HTC. The true test of a change in fortunes would come in the following months and HTC has just managed to post a small profit for the third quarter.

Revenue for the quarter came in at NT$41.9 billion ($1.38 billion), resulting in a net profit after tax of NT$0.6 billion ($20 million). HTC’s operating margin was relatively low, at just 0.4 percent, but the company has managed to stay out of the red this time around.

Although profits may be slim, HTC looks to be in a much better place that it was the same time last year. In Q3 2013 the company posted an operating loss of NT$3.5 billion despite collecting revenue of NT$47 billion.

HTC Profit Q3 2014

HTC looks to be a leaner business these days, managing to turn a profit from lower levels of revenue. HTC has accomplished this through a 36 percent reduction in sales and marketing expenditures and a 48 percent cut in general administration costs, when compared with the same time last year.

In terms of smartphone sales, HTC declared strong demand for its Desire range of handsets. The 610 and 510 are apparently selling well in Europe and the US, and the Desire 816 maintained solid sales throughout Taiwan, China, India and the Middle East. The flagship HTC One (M8) still seems to be selling well too.

Come the end of the year, HTC is anticipating revenues somewhere between NT$43 billion to NT$47 billion, and therefore similarly small levels of profit. However, this slow and steady approach could see HTC well placed to make a healthy profit come next year’s flagship smartphone launch.

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jlab earbuds

Looking for a pair of nice in-ear headphones? Today’s Amazon Gold Box deal of the day has a few interesting options for you to choose from.

The deal sees 28 earbud models from JLab discounted by an average of 80 percent. This brings down prices at $20 or below, so you could be in for a bargain if you don’t like to spend a lot on headphones.

The discounted models include Bluetooth and wired models, in a variety of colors. Most of them feature a sporty design, but there a few more understated ones. While JLab isn’t a big brand in headphones, some of the products on sale today have solid scores across thousands of reviews.

Head over here to check out all the JLab earbuds currently on sale on Amazon

The deal is good until midnight PST – let us know if something piqued your interest!

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moto x 2014 first impressions (17 of 18)

What is the right price for the new Moto X (2014)? If you said $0 on contract, you’re in luck. Get the Leather backed Motorola Moto X (2014) for just $0 at Amazon, the black resin version is only a dollar more, and Best Buy is offering similar pricing too.

The deals go for the new Moto X (2014) on two-year contract, the leather model runs with AT&T and the resin will land you on either AT&T or Verizon. In addition to the $0 leather and $1 black resin, you can head over to Best Buy to get the bamboo version for just $20 on the same two-year offerings.

moto x 2014 first impressions (4 of 18)

If you were in need of a little reminder, the new Moto X (2014) is Motorola’s very much updated followup to their well equipped original Moto X. The new version brought with it a half inch larger display and a significantly more powerful processing package.

The new Moto X (2014) comes in with a 5.2-inch display, Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13MP main camera. It ships now with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, but keep in mind that Motorola has already promised it will get Android 5.0 Lollipop as soon as it can.

Let’s lay out those deals again for you – you can get the Motorola Moto X (2014) on a two year contract as follows:

  • AT&T leather backed version for $0 at Amazon
  • AT&T leather backed version for $19.99 at Best Buy
  • AT&T black resin version for $1 at Amazon or Best Buy
  • Verizon black resin version for $1 at Amazon or Best Buy
  • AT&T Bamboo version for $19.99 at Best Buy
  • Verizon Bamboo version for $29.99 at Best Buy

If ever you had decent choices for a fairly great phone, this is it. Sure beats the $50 deal for Verizon last week, and, while we could argue the merits of carrier contracts, it sure is easier to swallow than the $500+ to purchase the Moto X (2014) outright.

What do you say, is now the time to purchase the new Moto X (2014)?

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amazon fire phone commercial

Last week Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shocked investors with a massive loss. Jeff Bezos’ company ended Q3 2014 with $544 million in the red, a bad loss even for a company that has longed delivered minimal quarterly increases in profits or even small losses.

While Amazon had some other big-ticket investments to explain the half a billion loss (including the acquisition of streaming platform Twitch), market watchers agreed that the bulk of it was owed to the Fire phone. Indeed, Amazon booked $170 million in losses related to selling the Fire phone, and admitted it’s sitting on $83 million in unsold Fire phone inventory.

Widely panned by critics, Amazon’s first smartphone launched in July to frosty consumer reception. The device has an abysmal 2.3 stars review average on Amazon’s product page, with users singling out the lack of apps, poor battery life, and bad value for money as the reasons they disliked the Fire phone. At $199 on-contract (quickly slashed to $1), Amazon’s phone simply could not compete with other devices in its price range.

Now Amazon is admitting it blew the Fire phone pricing. Talking to Fortune, the company’s SVP of devices David Limp said that abandoning Amazon’s typical strategy to sell hardware at a very low margin was a mistake:

“We didn’t get the price right. I think people come to expect a great value, and we sort of mismatched expectations. We thought we had it right. But we’re also willing to say, ‘we missed.’ And so we corrected.”

According to Limp, the price cut to $1 from September yielded “significantly better sales.” Amazon also pushed a couple of firmware update to tackle some of the problems raised by early buyers.

Limp further insisted that Amazon is committed to the Fire phone:

“We are going to keep iterating software features to get it better and better. Each release that we’re doing, we’re learning. Beyond that, I leave it out there to see what people think.”

Amazon is known for playing the long game, and it looks like the Fire is here to stay. With that said, it’s safe to say that the current generation of the device is pretty much dead. It’s likely that over the next quarters Amazon will have to write off much of the $83 million worth of Fire phones that are now sitting in its warehouses.

As for the next generation of the Fire phone, that could be a very different story, provided Amazon goes back to its roots and begins pricing its smartphones the way it prices its tablets, e-readers, and streaming devices.

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SONY Brand Shot logo CES 2014-2

The song says that “there may be trouble ahead,” but for Sony the lyrics to this song are “there will certainly be trouble ahead.” As anticipated Sony has cut its smartphones sales forecast from 43 million units to 41 million units for its current financial year, which runs from April 2014 to March 2015. A cut of two million is significant, but what you need to know is that the 43 million unit forecast was itself a reduction from an original forecast of 50 million units.

When Sony posted a net loss of over $1 billion for its 2013-2014 financial year, the company said it would sell some 50 million smartphones from April 2014 to March 2015. Six months later and that figure has been drastically reduced. Let’s hope that Sony doesn’t need to revised that forecast again, come the end of December.

Although Sony’s overall sales increased by 7.2% to $17.4 billion, the company posted a net loss of $1.2 billion.

The new sales forecast comes after Sony reported a huge loss for its second quarter which ended September 30th. Although Sony’s overall sales increased by 7.2% to $17.4 billion, the company posted a net loss of $1.2 billion. While the Sony PlayStation 4 helped boost the sales, the revaluation of its mobile unit meant that the company had to include a one time charge of $1.6 billion for the decrease in value of its mobile business.

The $1.2 billion net loss translates into an operating loss of $785 million and is in stark contrast to the $124 million operating profit for the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. But the execs at Sony aren’t just sitting around crying about the company’s problems. During Q2 Sony increased its marketing expenses, and its research and development expenses, in order to expand sales channels. Which is a good move as there are some key markets where Sony needs to boost its sales, most notably in the USA.

sony xperia z3v first look aa (14 of 30)

Sony is a household name in the USA. However in mobile, it has struggled to make inroads. For example, Sony’s current flagship, the Xperia Z3, is only available from T-Mobile or as a unlocked device (at the full retail price, without any subsidies). Flagship (i.e. expensive) phones are hard to sell without carrier support. Sony is starting to address this, and earlier this month it announced the new Sony Xperia Z3v, which will sell exclusively on Verizon.

There have also been some changes at the top level of management. As we reported yesterday, Hiroki Totok will replace Kunimasa Suzuki as the head of Sony’s smartphone business. The change will take place in a couple of weeks time, on November 16th.

What do you think? What do you like or dislike about Sony’s smartphones?

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Angry Birds Transformers Optimus Red

The folks at Rovio are at it again, this time working with some robotics to bring you Angry Birds: Transformers, available now free to play through the Google Play Store, now available for all markets.

Angry Birds Transformers iconAngry Birds: Transformers is a new gameplay strategy for the bird-ladden franchise. Instead of flinging birds or building box cars, this is a run and gun side-scroller with all of you favorites heroes from both worlds. Not to say that the character combinations nor their transformations make a whole ton of sense, but it is fun and well crafted.

If you are a little tired of the Angry Birds franchise and the typical slingshot gameplay, do not hesitate to give Transformers a try. The story is fairly similar in nature to previous, you control the birds, you attack the little piggies with their physics based structures and there are eggs in the mix all while running through short levels toward a larger goal. That is about where it ends, the new gameplay feels nothing like previous Rovio offerings.

So, run along now, transform into random automobiles, shoot at the pigs and see how the “EggSpark” makes a difference in your coin collecting adventures.

If this sounds like fun, head on over to the Google Play Store and grab your free copy of Angry Birds: Transformers. But beware, this is a typical Rovio free-to-play game with in-app payments to accelerate the process.

What do you think, are you up for another Rovio offering in Angry Birds: Transformers?

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Samsung has announced two new devices, the Galaxy A3 and the Galaxy A5, that will satisfy your mid-range device needs in an extremely thin, metal constructed frame. The new devices are designed with social networking in mind and will be promoted for the younger crowd.

Both the Galaxy A3 and the Galaxy A5 are designed in a similar fashion, but the A5 is clearly the larger and more powerful device of the two. While the Galaxy A5 may be larger when measured edge to edge, it is the thinner of the two, measuring in at just 6.7mm, while the thicker Galaxy A3 also measures in a fraction under 7mm itself.

Samsung Galaxy A5 Group Selfie

In supporting social networking, you should expect a handful of tools to improve your selfies. With a 5MP front camera listed for both models, Samsung lists Wide Selfie, Rear-cam Selfie and Beauty Face Features as camera features for the new phones. The selfie technology includes the ability to automatically focus on a person’s face and even an animated gif mode, for a bit of life in your social media stream.

Both the Galaxy A5 and A3 will come packing a 1.2GHz Quad-core processor, 4G connectivity and include Galaxy line specific features, including Ultra-Power Saving Mode, Private Mode and Multiscreen. In addition, the A3 and A5 will come with adjustable audio, which will adapt to noise levels in your surrounding environment to adapt and enhance sound output of the devices.

Samsung Galaxy A5

Samsung Galaxy A5 press shots

The Samsung Galaxy A5 is the larger of the two new phones, bringing a 5.0-inch HD Super AMOLED display. As mentioned, it will clock through tasks using a 1.2GHz Quad-core processor. Backing the SoC will be 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with support for microSD up to 64GB and a larger 13MP rear shooter.

If battery life is of concern for you, we’ll be eager to see what day-to-day usage of the Galaxy A5 can do on the 2300mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy A5 Specs

CPU/GPU 1.2GHz Quad-core
Display 5.0-inch, 1920 x 1080
Memory 16GB, microSD up to 64GB
Battery 2300 mAh
Camera 13MP/5MP, AF with LED flash
Connectivity WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, A-GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® v 4.0 (BLE, ANT+)
Network 3G HSPA+ 42.2/5.76Mbps or 4G LTE Cat 4 150/50Mbps
Sensors Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, RGB, Proximity, Hall Sensor
OS Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz
Dimensions 139.3 x 69.7 x 6.7mm, 123g
Colors Pearl White, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver, Soft Pink, Light Blue and Champagne Gold

Samsung Galaxy A3

Galaxy A3 all

The Samsung Galaxy A3 is a little less impressive on the specs sheet, good thing we like to get our hands on these devices before we judge them. A 4.5-inch qHD Super AMOLED display is backed by that same 1.2GHz Quad-core processor. 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with support for 64GB microSD and a decent 8MP rear camera round out the main specs. Turning things down a bit, the Galaxy A3 comes with a 1900mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Specs

CPU/GPU 1.2GHz Quad-core
Display 4.5-inch, qHD
Memory 16GB, microSD up to 64GB
Battery 1900 mAh
Camera 8MP/5MP, AF with LED flash
Connectivity WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, A-GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® v 4.0 (BLE, ANT+)
Network 3G HSPA+ 42.2/5.76Mbps or 4G LTE Cat 4 150/50Mbps
Sensors Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, RGB, Proximity, Hall Sensor
OS Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz
Dimensions 130.1 x 65.5 x 6.9mm, 110.3g
Colors Pearl White, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver, Soft Pink, Light Blue and Champagne Gold

These super slim phones will be available in Pearl White, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver, Soft Pink, Light Blue and Champagne Gold for ‘select markets’ including China beginning in November. Stay tuned for further price and availability information.

At first glance, what do you think of the new Samsung Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3?

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andy rubin Credit: Joi/Flickr

Late last year Andy Rubin, Android’s co-founder, stepped down from his position as leader of our favorite mobile OS and handed the reigns over to the capable hands of Sundar Pichai. Following this move, Rubin took over as head of Google’s robotic efforts, a position he’s occupied ever since. Today it was announced that Rubin is making yet another move, this time away from Google altogether.

According to Google, Andy’s new goal is to start an incubator for startups interested in building technology-hardware products. While the details for his new ambition are a bit vague, that’s really all we know for now. In a statement, Larry Page wished Rubin the best, and thanked him for all his efforts at Google:

I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next. With Android he created something truly remarkable—with a billion plus happy users. Thank you.

As for the future of Google’s robotic arm, Google says it remains as dedicated as ever and is placing James Kuffner, a research scientist at Google, as the new head of the robotics group.

While Rubin hadn’t been part of the Android world for about a year now, it still seems a bit odd to think of him as no longer part of Google. Either way, we wish him the best and thank him for all he did during his time running Android and beyond. What do you think of Andy Rubin’s departure from the company? Surprised, or did you see this one coming after he stepped down as head of Android?

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