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Android Circuit: Note 7 Nightmare Official, Apple Overpowers Samsung, Hating Google's Perfect Pixel

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this weeks Android Circuit includes Samsungs official cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7 phablet, how Apple will exploit Samsungs mistake, why people hate th

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes Samsung’s official cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7 phablet, how Apple will exploit Samsung’s mistake, why people hate the practically perfect Pixel, Google Duo taking over from Hangouts, Google’s Android Wear smartwatches leak, Three’s UK exclusive deal with ZTE, and Sony’s promise to bring mobile games to Android during 2017.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).

Samsung Cancels Galaxy Note 7

There’s no doubt what the biggest news in the Android world is this week – Samsung stopping production of the Galaxy Note 7, recalling all the units currently in the market and with consumers, and telling everyone to power their Note 7 down and to not use them. Samsung’s shares are down eight percent, the brand name of Note is likely dead, Galaxy is wounded, and Samsung itself may not escape the tarring and feathering of in the public’s mind. Forbes’ Parmy Olson reports:

Killing the Note 7 means Samsung will lose potential sales of 19 million phones, or nearly $17 billion, which the company was expected to make during the device’s product cycle, according to Credit Suisse analysts cited by Reuters.

Samsung has around $70 billion on its balance sheet, so these are costs that it can absorb. But the bigger problem for the company, which derives around half its profits from its mobile division, will be the impact of the Note 7 crisis on its reputation, and the Galaxy brand.

That’s something Apple will surely be able to capitalize on this holiday season with the recent release of its iPhone 7, as will Google, with the launch of its new Pixel smartphone.

Note 7 Nightmare Hands A Christmas Victory To Apple
What happens to Samsung now? The cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7 will put an enormous short-term strain on Samsung and the biggest recipients of that pressure will be the team developing next year’s flagship Galaxy S8. That smartphone will be the South Korean’s best reply to the issues around the Note 7, but it’s not going to arrive until late in February. In the meantime chief rival Apple is going to do its best to maximize this temporary advantage.
While there may be no direct marketing, I’ve no doubt that Apple will seek to maximize this four-month window where its chief rival has no new device to offer high-end users (the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were announced in February 2016, almost nine months ago). Apple increased its component orders by ten percent at the start of September, just as the issues with the Note 7 were becoming critical. That’s a very interesting co-incidence.
While other Android manufacturers (notably Google and Huawei) will be hoping to capture some of the millions of Note users looking for an alternate device, analysts are suggesting that Apple could pick up an additional eight million device sales in 2016.
The way back for Samsung is long and slow, and means writing off Q4 2016 and Q1 2017 in terms of market share numbers.
The Pixel Is Practically Perfect In Every Way
If you had asked the geekerati to write out the specs of their dream Android machines and compared the results to the Google Pixel devices, there’s every chance you would have got a perfect match. Given the Pixel and Pixel XL handsets are what everyone wanted, why all the complaints? Over to Vlad Savov at The Verge:
If earlier this summer you were to offer me an HTC 10 with a better camera, nicer Android interface, and the reassurance that Google itself would be doing everything within its power to make that device a success, I’d have been elated. So why am I not feeling quite so thrilled today? Because the way we frame things, the way we talk about them, matters.
One problem for Google is that the Pixel’s appearance didn’t so much leak as pour outonto the online world during the month of September. Apple knows the challenges of stirring excitement about an already familiar design, and it tries to do so with flashy manufacturing videos voiced by the dulcet tones of chief designer Jony Ive. Google didn’t go in for any such glamorizing of its new devices, and consequently the Pixel felt almost stale by the time it made its formal debut.
One question about the Pixel is what Google’s intentions are around the device. Does it want to have a solid performing high-end handset it can use in its marketing materials, or does it want to have the best-selling Android device possible? Forbes’ Brooke Crothers asks if the Pixel can be anything more than Mountain View’s science project for the class of 2016/17:
Remember the Google-made Moto X? The Pixel isn’t the first Google phone. That was the Moto X (which I like and still use, by the way.) That didn’t last long, however. After Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2012, it promptly sold the company to Lenovo in 2014. And Google’s efforts to make the Moto X in the U.S. was another very short-lived project.
One analyst I spoke with believes Google will get behind Pixel and stay with it. “I get the sense that this is part of a new strategic move that they intend to stick with,” Bob O’Donnell, president and founder of TECHnalysis Research, told me in an interview. “The Pixel name and the [Pixel] Chromebooks have been around for several years,” he said.

If We Have The Budget Market, Do We Need The Top-end?
Does Google have a problem with the portfolio of high-end Android devices? With Samsung wounded, Sony losing traction with its premium products, and others not stepping up to bat, where should Android fans expect to find the ultimate high-specifications and innovation packed handsets in the future that can drive the platform forward? Is Pixel the answer or is it exacerbating the problem:
I’m not convinced that the answer to the problem is the Pixel or the Pixel XL. Google’s brand-new handset range has arguably grown out of the Nexus devices and while those handsets were very much welcomed by developers and the geekerati, the most recent versions were not priced as premium handsets.
The Pixel and Pixel XL mark two firsts for Google… the first pitch at a high-end device, and the first real push into the volume-driven consumer market. Both of those are not easy propositions to address especially with the debut handsets. Google will have to balance both of these concerns as it rolls out the new adventure around the world.How Android as a whole treats the high-end devices is something I’m going to be watching closely over the next six months or so.
Duo Given Pride Of Place In Android Distro
As part of the arrangement to support Google’s services on handsets, Android manufacturers have to follow the requirements to pre-install specific apps. A recent change to the load-out highlights Google’s messaging ambitions. The Google Hangouts app is now downgraded to ‘optional’ while Duo is now a fixed part of the Android platform. Android Police’s David Ruddock looks at why Duo got the nod, and not Allo:
Interestingly, Hangouts’ mandatory spot in the GMS package for telephony-enabled devices is to be taken not by Allo, but Duo. This does actually make sense. Video calling as a core OS feature is something Google likely feels is very important to push right now, and something that remains arcane or limited enough on most third-party apps or carrier services that Duo has a real chance at success. Hangouts, as you likely know, also offered video call features.
Why not make Allo mandatory as well? That does puzzle me a bit, especially given Allo has a far more uphill battle than Duo at this point. Allo is competing with a host of extremely popular third-party messaging solutions like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Kik, and LINE – not to mention SMS.
Set Your Alarms For Google’s Android Wear Devices
Missing from Google’s Pixel event was any significant mention of Android Wear. Leaks and rumors over the summer suggested that as well as the Pixel smartphones, Google was considering a Pixel smartwatch. Android Authority’s David Ruddock has details on Angelfish and Swordfish, the two timepieces Google is working on for a 2017 launch:
Swordfish has a clean, smooth look to it – with only that slightly odd crown button breaking up its extremely symmetrical and minimalist look. It’s thinner, smaller, and lighter than Angelfish, and it will support use of MODE watch bands. Unlike Angelfish, the bezel on Swordfish has a gentle curve to it. Not pictured here is the fact that Swordfish’s display glass also contains a small amount of circular display bezel, so there will be a black “gap” between where the watch body ends and the visible display area begins. My speculation is that this is how Google is avoiding the flat tire on Swordfish – instead of having a single spot “cut” out of the circle, Google just made a smaller circle. This has an obvious downside (smaller display area overall), but it would be a clever solution to the aesthetic issue of the flat tire. We wouldn’t really know, probably, until the watch is seen in a live sort of context.
With other Android Wear manufacturers slowing down production, Google has the potential to become the number one Android Wear manufacturer next year.
Three’s Exclusive Deal With ZTE In The UK
Network provider Three has announced a UK exclusive partnership with ZTE, and the first fruits of the agreement can be found in the Blade V7. Priced at £11/month with no upfront cost, or £130 on pay as you go, the 4G-enabled handset offers 5.2″ HD display, 13 megapixel camera, and the ability to use Three’s SuperVoice service:
We listened to you and got ourselves a brand new signal solution which travels across the 4G network.
It’s quite techy, but the long and short of it is that it [Super Voice] runs at a lower frequency, allowing the signal to travel deeper into buildings, so that your old blackspots become awash with 4G coverage. This means you can call, message and browse the internet in places you never could before. Genius, huh? Some call it VoLTE, but we call it 4G Super-Voice, because indoor blackspots don’t stand a chance.
More details on the Blade V7 can be found on Three’s website.
And Finally…
Following in Nintendo’s footsteps, Sony has announced that it will bring a number of smartphones games to Android (and iOS) over the next eighteen months. No details yet on which titles will be released, but BGR’s Jacob Siegel notes that availability is currently limited geographically:
Back in March, Sony established a new division of its company called ForwardWorks, which would aim to deliver “full-fledged game titles” in the smart device market. That was the last we’d heard about the subsidiary until this week… Sony will release the mobile games in Japan first, followed by other Asian countries. The United States and Europe don’t factor into Sony’s current plans for smartphone game releases.
Android Circuit rounds up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course read the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!

 

 
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