This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:
Android P: a copy of the iPhone X navigation gesture
ZTE shuts down and could break up and its business units (consumer/smartphones, enterprise, carrier) sold separately to highest bidders
OnePlus 6 is launching on Wednesday and could quickly rise to be one of the top high-end smartphones in 2018 thanks to its performance and price
Qualcomm confirmed that it will launch the next generation of its Snapdragon Wear chip for WearOS (formerly Android Wear) this fall, coinciding with the release of new Android watches by Google, Huawei, LG, and others.
Samsung was the top smartphone seller in Europe for the first 3 months of the year according to a new report from market research firm Canalys with 15 million smartphones shipped, a 15% drop from last year. Apple shipped 10 million iPhones, a 5.4% drop, while Huawei smartphones sales grew 38.6% to 7.4 million units.
The App of the Week this week is Kloop Inc., an iOS app designed to fight misinformation and fake news by displaying related articles from hundreds of legitimate sources (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post...).
Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant, and Nicolas Maquaire, the CEO of Kloop, our App of the Week.
One last thing before you go, you will find an edited transcript of This Week in Mobile below, and feel free to reach out with mobile news and products (devices, apps, accessories) or if you'd like to be a guest on the show. Enjoy!
Jean Baptiste Su: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of This Week In Mobile. It is Saturday, May 12th, 2018. And I'm Jean Baptiste Su, Principal Analyst at Atherton Research and your host. Joining me today to discuss the top mobile news stories of the past seven days is tech veteran Eric Leandri, CEO and co-founder of search engine Qwant. Welcome back to the show, Eric.
Eric Leandri: Hello. How are you?
JBS: Well, you had a very busy week in China and it's going to be interesting to have your feedback on what people talked about over there. But for our listeners who are not familiar with what you do, can you give us a short elevator pitch about Qwant.
EL: Qwant is a search engine but it's a privacy-based search engine. So we are a European search engine that will respect your privacy. We give you the result of the web and the social web but respecting the user's privacy. So you are not the subject of your search, so if you want to start searching, in total privacy and with very good results, please try qwant.com.
JBS: Can you use Qwant search engine in China?
EL: Qwant is working perfectly well in China. So if you travel to China tomorrow and you use Google to search it will not work in China but Qwant will work perfectly well just because we don't take the data of users worldwide including in China. So China has actually accepted to let Qwant work behind or inside the Wall of China.
JBS: This is great. You spent a week there so you could try it live.
EL: Yes, and it was working all the day, all the week.
JBS: Let's start with the most important news of the week and that's the next version of Android. I'm not sure if you heard about it when you were in China.
EL: Yeah, sure. Nobody has been able to not hear about it and this time it's a really really great improvement in Android. I will say for technical reason just your navigation again, Apple has driven the OS to a new level and I think that the new gesture navigation in Android will be not totally near what you found at Apple today with your iPhone X but I will say it's going to be more interesting now than for the last three years.
JBS: It feels like a copy of what the iPhone X does and in terms of this gesture navigation, swipe right, swipe up, swipe left. And now all the Android smartphones at least for the flagship ones have a notch. So it feels like, I mean, where's the innovation there?
EL: At the end that it just shows how Apple drives the market. You know, it's not only a copy because they can't copy the same UI, but I will say that Apple does great things in term of UI and for Android just after the iPhone X even if a lot of people has criticized the iPhone X at the end of the day, when you start using it, you're happy, you like it, you'll start to understand your gesture. And if you are an iPhone X user the thing is if you want to switch to Android it's because the camera will be may be better on your Android just look at the Huawei P20 Pro. So if you want a better camera, if you want a very good capability of rooting your OS or adding other things inside of your OS. If you want to switch from iPhone to Android I think it's a smart move from Google to do that. Copying the best UI on the market is a good way to try to gain users but you're right in the sense that maybe they can do better, they can do different and they can do different and better but it seems that what iPhone does something too many people want just to copy iPhone. So look at the market today all want to have a notch and sometimes it's funny because they do the notch and they add the black bar to do like the notch is not there. So, I will say that in this particular case, you're right from the UI, but I will say that Android P this year there was a really an improvement in the user interface, for example, they use a lot of AI inside of the UI. They try to personalize your navigation based on what you have done before they try to add the search will include direct access to the app where inside of the app while you are searching. They try to add several capabilities to give you a better experience with your phone. They have done a lot of things but it's true, at the end if you have an iPhone X, you will say that they have made a copy.
JBS: The other point with the Android P is that unlike before you can actually try the public beta on phones that are currently on the market today. You can try on the Google Pixel phones, you can try on the Essential phones the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi's phone and the OnePlus 6 phone. However, no Samsung phone so far, no Huawei phones.
EL: The problem with Android market is the fragmentation. It's a terrible fragmentation and for several reasons and one of them is security. I will say that like always Android P with that P should be about privacy and the only thing was missing there is the privacy. And I think that what they want to do is stop the fragmentation of the market and bring back that Android where Google is everywhere inside based on the AI, based on search. You are quite stuck with Google everywhere. And so this is what they try now to get is a market where they control totally their cell phones. It will be not so simple to gain Samsung and Huawei in that particular case because I think that Samsung doesn’t want to be totally controlled by Google UI and AI. And I think the same for Huawei but let see. And Xiaomi I will say that what they want is to give to users UI experience to gain the cash or advertisement or other things. If they give everything to Google then it will be just a percentage that Google will give to them. And so they come back to be a normal cell phone company and if they are a normal cell phone company with very low margins per phone, it would be less interesting.
JBS: As we were talking last week Xiaomi's business model is on services, internet services, ads and not making money on the phones.
EL: But it's clear that now an Android P, Google's business model is on internet services and not making money at all on the phone.
JBS: Talking about security, its pretty clear that ZTE is going to shut down and so for all the users of ZTE phones, they're pretty much out of luck. There won't be any security updates for their Android phones, and probably no more Android updates.
EL: An Android phone today it's very very complicated to secularize if you don't have the latest update and 99% of the time that kind of company doesn't even give to their users the latest updates. And here in Europe, you know ZTE was making a lot of cell phones for a lot of companies in OEM. So you will see several companies they need to switch to another company in China or they will go down too.
JBS: Talking with people there are close to ZTE we've been hearing that ZTE might just be broken up and sold in pieces. The smartphone division will be bought by another company and we don't know which one but it could be like a Coolpad that was previously LeEco or another Chinese company that will then take over the business of ZTE and rebrand it. And that way could go around the export ban. That's so far what we could get from the grapevine.
EL: I think it could be like that, for sure. And in China, nobody talks about that. That's funny, I think it went underground and they will certainly end up like this.
JBS: And here in the US, ZTE is the number four smartphone brand.
EL: Yeah, 12% of the market!
JBS: Exactly. What we think is that maybe Motorola is going to take over that market share. Maybe LG if they continue doing smartphones. Nokia is coming back to the US market. So that would be sort of the three companies that could take over ZTE's market share here in the US, but who knows at this point.
EL: The new OnePlus should take some shells in the US market, it's a pity for them but they don't have sales through normal distribution channel because I'm sure now but the new one could be a hit.
JBS: Let's talk about it. I've been playing around with the OnePlus 6 for the past week. The positioning for OnePlus 6 is a very high-end flagship phone at a very good price and it really reminds me of what ZTE moto was, a premium phone but affordable. What I feel with OnePlus it's really high-end specs but at a very very aggressive price. The OS, OxygenOS it's very clean it's almost like Android stock. They also have a large fan base that seems to be very loyal.
EL: I would say but the fan based is loyal because OnePlus tries to be iPhone for Android, okay. So last year, it was very clear with the OnePlus 5T which looked like an iPhone 7/8 but this year with the notch and everything they tried to go in that direction too. But I will say if you want a good price the Nokia 7 Plu and Nokia 6 are good. If you want to have a cell phone that works very well and you are able to install on the OnePlus the latest version from Google like Android P. It's kind of, let's say, a brand that makes users feel that they are free.
JBS: Let's move on to the other big news that we heard at Google I/O. And that's the new version of a processor from Qualcomm for Android Wear device, Wear OS, for smartwatches. So far the Android smartwatches were using an old Qualcomm technology that has not been updated for at least two years.
EL: 2016 something like that.
JBS: Exactly. Qualcomm said that they're coming out with a new chip for Android watches in September. Finally.
EL: Yeah, finally. But you know, the impact on the market of the first Android watch was not so spectacular, right? And I think that Qualcomm didn't have an incentive to do something new. But now, as you can see Samsung has sold a lot of their watches but it was not the same OS and the chipset is better too. And Apple has done a good job selling their Apple watch. So I think that now the market is more mature, you see that you have a lot of people now with a connected object on them. Now, the market is more mature and I think it's a good move from Qualcomm because when your watches will certainly be able to have 4 to 5 days and maybe more of battery life. Something that was always funny for me is you have your watch and it seems that with your watch you are able to take care of your sleep but if you keep it during your sleep you don't charge it and if you don't charge it, so that means that next day you will not have your watch. So the idea of wearing your watch to control your health will be good if your watch is able to have more capability, a bigger battery for example, because the idea is to have a smaller chip. So smaller chip means 2 things, smaller watches for example or bigger battery in the same kind of size of the watch, so it could be good for the battery, it could be good for the people, and it could be good for sure for the performance and better for the energy consumption. Maybe the next WearOS plus the new Qualcomm chip will certainly change the way we look at our watches today because I really think that it needs a lot of improvements in that field. And Apple who has made the best one today, it's still far away from what I think you should have in terms of, let's say, battery life and the capabilities of the system.
JBS: This week actually we discovered that Apple filed a patent for a round watch. Now, so far, Apple watches were square, most of the Android watches were round and Apple is coming with a round watch which they said they will not do, until the day they decide to do it.
EL: The UI at Apple is a lot of time better on what we do today at Android but at the same time the notification of Android, the system of push on Android is a lot better than the one from Apple.
JBS: For the First Quarter, Samsung is the top smartphone seller in Europe as last year and they shipped 15 million phones, Apple shipped 10 million and Huawei is number three with 7.4 million. The interesting fact here is that Samsung's sales dropped 15%, Apple also dropped 5% but Huawei as we talked last week, Huawei sales really improved and actually were up 30% almost 40% better than last year. We're seeing a trend that Huawei is really catching up.
EL: Huawei is starting to be a real brand in Europe. When you go to now to the FNAC for example, it's a large retail shop selling consumer electronics here in Europe, you will see a Samsung space in the cell phones corner, then you will have the Apple space and then the Huawei space. Before Huawei was behind with all the others, with Motorola, with ZTE and others. Now they are in the front.
JBS: Let's end the show with our App of the Week Kloop, its an iOS app that finds all the related articles of a story that you're interested in. I've talked to the CEO of Kloop, Nicolas Maquaire, earlier today, let's listen to what he had to say.
JBS: Hi Nicolas
Nicolas Maquaire: Hi JB
JBS: So what is Kloop?
NM: Kloop is an iOS app to can get more information on any article on your phone. It helps you build up understanding and satisfy your curiosity. Then when you find something interesting you can keep it handy or share it with friends. Not only you get more trusted content but you also get amazing recommendations on what really matters to you.
JBS: It sounds veru similar to what Facebook with the new News Feed and Google with the new Google News announced in the past week at their developer conferences. How is Kloop different?
NM: Yes, it's amazing that they are doing the same thing. We’re doing the same feature for any app on your phone. Worth noting that we’re also sending you articles from different sources which is very interesting to get more context on any news.
And with regards to Google, yes, our artificial intelligence organizes your reading list in the same way but I think it’s more transparent and more fun.
JBS: Tell us more about this AI?
NM: Our artificial intelligence which filters through millions of articles to extract key insights on all the articles released every day. And today, we have more than 10 millions articles in our database and we’re adding a million per month.
JBS: What kind of sources do you have?
NM: We are indexing all articles published by thousands of twitter accounts including your friends JB and we are also indexing mainstream media websites like the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wikipedia, etc.
JBS: What’s your business model?
NM: We have a B2B model. So, it’s free for consumers, and we will sell the key insights that we extract with our AI.
JBS: Great! Thank you Nicolas!
NM: Thank you for having me!
JBS: Well, that’s it for This Week in Mobile. Thank you again, Eric, for coming, and see you all next week.
EL: Thank you, JB. And please when you use Android P, be aware about privacy because it will be even worse than ever, even with GDPR.