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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Glaxo accused of market ‘abuse’

Category : Business

The Office of Fair Trading accuses GlaxoSmithKline of paying rivals to delay the release of generic versions of one of its drugs.

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Investigators Probe Lion Air Crash in Bali – ABC News

Category : Stocks

ABC News
Investigators Probe Lion Air Crash in Bali
ABC News
In this photo released by Indonesian Police, the wreckage of a crashed Lion Air plane sits on the water near the airport in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday, April 13, 2013. The plane carrying more than 100 passengers and crew overshot a runway on the.
Crash raises questions over flight safety in IndonesiaSydney Morning Herald
Indonesian Crash May Boost Lion Air's Rivals, Says Credit SuisseWall Street Journal
All Aboard Rescued After Plane Skids Into Water at Bali AirportNew York Times
BBC News

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HTC profit slump confirms Samsung and Apple as smartphone leaders

Category : Business

HTC has reported a 98% drop in profits, leaving the top market tier to be dominated by Samsung androids and Apple iPhones

The divergent fortunes within the $200bn (£130bn) global smartphone market were laid bare this week when Taiwan’s HTC reported a 98% slump in profits, confirming Samsung and Apple’s seemingly unassailable lead over their rivals.

In 2010, HTC was the world’s biggest maker of smartphones that used Google’s Android operating system. Now it has joined two other former titans, Nokia and BlackBerry, in a desperate search for profit and growth.

As HTC reported a slump in first-quarter profits to £0.9m, Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones and smartphones, was basking in a forecast that its quarterly operating profit would be around 8.7trn (£5bn).

The market is splitting into three tiers that allow only for high-end products in developed markets, a bevy of barely profitable products in the middle, and a hugely competitive low-cost segment in developing markets such as China.

In the last quarter of 2012, the last period for which figures are available, Apple and Samsung together shipped 111.5m smartphones, according to researcher IDC. That’s more than 50% of a market that has tripled in volume over that time – and compares to a combined share of less than 20% back in the second quarter of 2010, when the once mighty Nokia had 37%.

The plight of HTC is even more stark when its market position is viewed through the prism of Google’s Android software. Android is the leading operating system thanks to Samsung, beating Apple’s iOS system and Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which is used by Nokia. If consumers are flocking to Android phones, they are choosing Samsung and not HTC.

Benedict Evans, technology and telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis, calls the Android smartphone market “Samsung and the seven dwarves” – a reference to the 1960s when IBM dominated the mainframe market, and its seven rivals fought for scraps. The modern equivalents are China’s Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE, Korea’s LG, Japan’s Sony, the now Google-owned Motorola, and HTC.

But Steve Brazier, chief executive of the research company Canalys, thinks that the HTC One phone, launched in February, offers a way back. “The HTC One is hot,” he said. “The problem is it’s not really shipping yet, which is why their first-quarter figures were bad. The product was delayed.” Nonetheless, it faces a significant challenge from the Samsung Galaxy S4 phones, which also hits retailers’ shelves this month.

Brazier adds that there is hope too for the other also-rans. For BlackBerry, he thinks it first needs to calm its US government clients, who have been eyeing the iPhone as an alternative. For Nokia, the solution is easier said than done: “It needs something radically different from what’s out there.”

HTC, BlackBerry and Nokia are fighting against a rapid decline. Since 2010, they have been squashed down from an aggregate market share of 61% to barely 10%. Now, none has more than 4% of the market. Samsung is at the top with 29%, ahead of Apple with nearly 22%.

HTC’s problems sum up the difficulties that competitors face when they are trying to overcome two players that dominate half the market. The One was delayed because, reports say, it couldn’t get enough cameras at the required specification to satisfy its needs.

Brazier said: “The big issue in the smartphone business is that Samsung and Apple are cornering the supply chain, so HTC can’t get ‘tier-one’ components.”

To be tier one you have to order in large enough volumes to demand quality and timeliness along with price discounts. Once you slip from that position, it’s hard to recover it.

A decade ago, Apple cornered the markets in small hard drives and then solid-state storage to build its iPod, and then iPod nano, and dominate the music player market. Now it uses its growing cash pile to hire factories and production well ahead of time – locking rivals out. “HTC has a real scale problem,” says Evans, the Enders analyst. “It’s a problem that Nokia is starting to face as well. It’s a problem of the reach and power that Apple and Samsung can bring to the market.”

Samsung, meanwhile, is completely vertically integrated, owning the factories that make everything from the memory chips to the screens, and writing its own apps and code to go on the only element of its smartphones that it doesn’t make – Google’s Android operating system. And even that is free. Buoyed by colossal advertising and marketing spend which dwarfs even the likes of Coca-Cola, and with worldwide distribution, it is determined to control the mobile phone market. It aims to ship 500m smartphones this year, more than the whole market in 2011.

Analysts argue that Apple needs to do something radical too to catch the growth in emerging markets as the west becomes saturated. A low-cost iPhone is widely expected. That could consolidate the Apple-Samsung duopoly more firmly.

Even, so Brazier thinks things can turn around. “The smartphone business is very dynamic. I don’t think it’s played out. HTC could bounce back.”

Does he think that bounceback will happen by the end of the year? He paused. “Well, no,” he said.

SSE boss wants the John Lewis effect

Category : Business

Alistair Phillips-Davies, incoming chief executive of the energy company, is aiming for much improved customer relations

The newly appointed boss of SSE, one of the big six power suppliers, says he wants the company to become the John Lewis or Marks & Spencer of the energy world with a far better relationship with its customers.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, who takes over formally as chief executive of the business this summer, has already ditched his own access to a controversial staff subsidy on fuel and handed it over to charity.

SSE, along with the other Big Six firms, is battling to regain trust after a long period when the industry has been attacked by the public, politicians and media for high fuel prices, soaring executive pay and questionable door-step selling practices.

The companies are themselves struggling with debt problems and are also being courted for more than £100bn of new investment as Britain tries to build a new lower carbon energy landscape.

Phillips-Davies said he was fed up being tarred with some of the bad press that could legitimately go to others. “Some of them (our rivals) probably deserve it. I think we deserve it less,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

“The way customers feel about M&S and John Lewis, both of these are good examples of the way we want customers to feel about us,” added Phillips-Davies who is currently the deputy to outgoing boss Ian Marchant.

Meanwhile, one of SSE’s rivals, RWE has warned that its £3bn pipeline of investments over the past three years will not be continued in future unless the coalition government can come up with “desperately needed” clarity over future energy policy.

A new energy bill that addresses some of the issues is undergoing parliamentary scrutiny but the Big Six have increasingly complained the detail provided is still sadly lacking.

Paul Massara, the UK boss of the German-owned utility, which has already dropped its nuclear ambitions in Britain, told the Telegraph: “I doubt that we will be investing the kind of money we have been investing unless there are propositions which attract not only us but also enable other capital lenders to come into the market place.”

RWE and others are not considered to be good bets by the City. “RWE ultimately has too much debt and too little flexibility in a market where the outlook is dismal,” said the latest equity analyst report on the German power business from the London office of the Berenberg Bank.

Following the decision by British Gas-owner Centrica to withdraw from building new nuclear, the Danish utility, Dong Energy, is hoping it can offload half of the 50% stake it holds in the London Array wind farm to a Canadian pension fund.

Last week the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, announced plans to invest £50m in six onshore and offshore wind farms through a stake in a new fund, Greencoat UK Wind. Wind farms are being purchased by Greencoat from RWE and SSE at a time when backbench Conservative MPs continue to question whether there is any value in generating power from this kind of technology.

Dell deal: HP and Lenovo react

Category : Business

Dell’s PC rivals have their say.

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Rival airports fight UK for passengers

Category : Business

Could UK airports lose out to international rivals?

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Blockbuster enters administration

Category : Business

DVD rental firm Blockbuster becomes the latest UK High Street firm to go into administration after struggling to compete against internet-based rivals.

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HTC posts 90% slump in profits

Category : Business, World News

Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC reports a slump in profits as it continues to suffer at the hands of rivals Apple and Samsung.

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LG plans to increase investment

Category : Business

South Korea’s LG Group announces plans to increase investment, in an attempt to boost its market share amid increased competition from rivals.

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Google given EU anti-trust deadline

Category : Business, World News

Google is told it has a month to address complaints it favoured its own services over its rivals in search results.

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