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Spillikins #68. Can Foxconn suicides be linked to Apple?

Last week saw such a number of minor events which ideally fit the Spillikins format that I was even confused to break any topic into sections - so small they were. Still if the events attract attention they must be important and deserve a separate headline. Now, lets move to the subject matter. First let me introduce our new author Kirill Yegerev. You could read his first article on iWorks here

There will be many other articles soon and not necessarily associated with Apple, which has been Kirills primary focus until now. They will cover different topics, gadgets and events. Meet our new author and feel free to ask on our forum tricky and simple questions in relation to his articles. So, its just the first step.


  1. Leaks of New Products from Apple or Hidden Gold of the Soviet Communist Party
  2. Google Android 2.2 (Froyo) Enters the Market
  3. Smartphone for pennies or you get what you pay for
  4. In brief or first quarter in smartphone market

Leaks of New Products from Apple or Hidden Gold of the Soviet Communist Party

In my blog I touched upon the issue of Apple myths and why recent leaks demolish them. For those who have not read it Ill quote myself. One of Apple myths deals with super-reliable security system, which protects the company form leaks of new products and ensures secrecy during R&D stages and allows capitalizing on surprise effect. First major leak for years was the lost iPhone HD, followed by some leaks from Vietnam (MacBook, iPod, iPhone). For example, watch this video.

Conspiracy theory appeared in no time. People said that Apple couldnt but contribute to it. This version is weak and only tries to prove that Apple is strong enough to control all sources of leaked information and has its reasons for such actions. Losing its market share to Android-phones, the company decided to create the buzz around its products.

This version is perfect for Apple security system myth. It supports this myth, which makes it 99% false. To prove critics wrong all possible sources were used, even the latest data on US market share for different operation systems, where Android devices are closing the gap with Apple. An ordinary news item was immediately associated with conspiracy theory in the eyes of the public. It doesnt hold water though.

Another explanation of Apple connection was the following. The company unofficially unveils its products for the enthusiasts, because such leaks do not influence the mass market, while giving Apple fans time to prepare (for what and why?). This is a truly remarkable story, because once again people are trying to provide an explanation in the case which doesnt require one. Occams razor tells us to discard complicated explanations of events and favor simple underlying reasons, as "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity". This rule works well for the majority of cases and this one is not an exception. Attempts of many people to get insight into the genius of Apple and controlled leaks are just protective reaction of humans mind. This psychological reaction is triggered when people, who have ready-made concepts (not without the help of the company itself) of Apple security system and believe it is different from others, cannot stand the facts, which break this myth and show the company as conventional.

To add fuel to the fire look at iPhone HD in different colors. The pictures are taken from Crunchgear.com.

This is obviously a picture made by fans and not one more leak. Well see if there are different frame colors. I expect two colors, but would be glad to be wrong.

Going back to Apple leaks lets remember the lost iPhone 3Gs prototypes, which was blamed on several Foxconn employees. There were no formal charges but the story became known to public when one of the employees jumped out of the window. What came next was quite frightening and resembled the story of hidden gold of the Soviet Communist Party, when party organizers allegedly committed suicide by jumping out of the windows. This epidemic was spread only among well-off people with high positions. The only difference between them and their colleagues was access to the hidden gold, which suddenly made them show their political will. Its just ridiculous!

On May 21 Xinhua News Agency reported that one more Foxconn employee died after falling from a building. According to the report it was the 11th suicide among companys employees since the first incident last year. That case was supposedly connected with the disappearance of several iPhone prototypes.

Foxconn remains silent as to the motives of those, who committed suicide, but the families of the dead received compensation in the amount of US 16, 000 each. This sum is quite significant for China and Foxconn employees. Why this money was paid? I dont have an answer, but I think 11 deaths is not a coincidence. We have a series of suicides without an apparent explanation. Attempts of a cover-up were made. For instance, information about the two previous victims became known only after their families had spoken to the press. Before that nobody had discussed these deaths. The same Occams razor tells us these people didnt jump down voluntarily, but were thrown off building roofs. Why? It is unclear but Apple connection is there. Though this may be just a coincidence and the company has nothing to do with it, which is disquieting nonetheless.

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Google Android 2.2 (Froyo) Enters the Market

Hardly had we received official upgrades to Android 2.1, when Google unveiled version 2.2. (Froyo) at I/O developers conference. Before going into the detail of this upgrade, guys from Google proudly announced that every day around 100,000 Android phones are activated worldwide, and the number of applications in their store has exceeded 50,000. The result is impressive and it confirms my impression that the company is finally coming down to earth and keeping the momentum going.

What do we get in version 2.2? Google emphasizes its browser and claims it to be the worlds fastest mobile browser. There is Adobe Flash 10.1 support, which taking into account the recent exchanges between Apple and Adobe, looks like a kick to Apple. Dalvik virtual machine will be up to 2-5 times faster at running applications. Home screen boasts three dedicated icons for Phone application, applications manager and a browser. Applications can be installed on memory cards and applications automatic update was added. There are some improvements in camera interface and tethering is allowed via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

As expected this intermediate version of Android offers nothing revolutionary. Another thing is that by small steps the company improves functionality, which makes its gadgets more attractive. It is rumored that Nexus One will be the first to receive version 2.2 at the beginning of the summer. It will be interesting to compare the productivity of gadgets with versions 2.1 and 2.2. Now look at the speed of browser performance from the official video. Are you impressed?

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Smartphone for pennies or you get what you pay for

Ive been unhurriedly writing review of Nokia 6700 Slide and youll be able to read it tomorrow. When this handset was unveiled I was attracted by its aluminium frame unusual for the model priced at 160 euros. Preliminary information suggested the phone might have been interesting, popular and iconic. Hands-on impressions were very thought-provoking, but less optimistic. I think that Nokia is just afraid of coming up with a mid-range cheap and cheerful phone. It can threaten the sales of more upmarket models, which is the last thing they need.

This model is also a simple phone for calls stripped of its smartphone functions, such as Wi-Fi. It is the biggest drawback of the model. I couldnt care less about the absence of integrated GPS-receiver. After all, positioning with the help of base stations works all right and navigation with 2" screen in a car is hardly possible. It is another matter that this screen size is typical of modern phones, but is not enough for smartphones. We have no touchscreen here and small screen size was acceptable for Internet surfing a couple of years ago, but it is outdated now. The concept of smartphone becomes blurred and in the review Ill provide the statistics, which proves that handsets similar to Nokia 6700 Slide are purchased first of all to make calls and not for any other functions. After all we have just another excellent Nokia phone for calls.

Nokia couldnt but spoil a sound decision. Metal frame of aluminium is a good thing, which can theoretically provide not only protection for the phone, but rule out any loose cover issue. There are problems with assembly here, you get what you pay for, so the model doesnt look expensive. Metal texture has been intentionally avoided not to confuse those who buy more expensive models. It is clear and reasonable. Another thing is why loose cover near the upper top hasnt been fixed? After a couple of days in my not very dusty pocket back cover let in so much dust as if had been to a vacuum cleaner bag. It was a bit over the top.

Another unpleasant impression was the speed. 5 MP camera has autofocus, but shooting is slow. At times other functions are slow too. These are some ideas, so read the review for details.

Nokia introduces such products to return its share of smartphone market, which doesnt grow while other companies, as we discussed in recent Spillikins, are actively moving forward. The company uses all possible tricks and, in fact, starts launching usual phones on S60. Though called smartphones, their characteristics and user-friendliness dont meet the generally accepted requirements for such devices. Smartphone of 2010 is mainly used to access web resources and needs a large screen size this model simply cannot offer. As Nokia E51/E52 this model is predominantly made for calls.

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In brief or first quarter in smartphone market

Gartner announced 2010 first-quarter results for smartphone market, which makes for an interesting reading.

Retail smartphone sales, mln units.
Company 1Q10 Units 1Q10 Market Share (%) 1Q09 Units 1Q09 Market Share (%)
Symbian 24,069.8 44.3 17,825.3 48.8
Research In Motion 10,552.6 19.4 7,533.6 20.6
iPhone OS 8,359.7 15.4 3,848.1 10.5
Android 5,214.7 9.6 575.3 1.6
Microsoft Windows Mobile 3,706.0 6.8 3,738.7 10.2
Linux 1,993.9 3.7 2,540.5 7.0
Other OSs 404.8 0.7 445.9 1.2
Total 54,301.4 100.0 36,507.4 100.0
Source: Gartner

Who is the front runner? Undoubtedly, it must be Android, which is rapidly boosting sales. You can compare the figures yourself. This operation system is supported by almost all big manufacturers Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and HTC (you can read our article on HTC WildFire to understand why Android sales will go up again). Symbian should expect hard times ahead its market share continues to decline, even if due to marketing of increasingly cheaper models the number of sold devices is not going down. Its just the question of time when Symbian finally loses ground for the benefit of other operation systems. This platform is under attack from all manufacturers and Nokias situation doesnt allow expecting any serious breakthrough. Symbian is becoming outdated with every coming month. This summer will highlight all negative tendencies as the unveiling of many new products on different operating systems is likely to decrease Symbian sales even further. It is funny to see how this situation is understood by those who build their success only around this system. They justify and explain the decline of Symbian market share as they like. They just dont want to face the truth Symbians time, if not has come to an end, but slowed down until 2011. Before Symbian^4 is unveiled we cannot anticipate parity with other operation systems.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

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Related links

Spillikins #65. PR in high-tech or poor kings

Spillikins #66. Nokia admits losing leadership on the top smartphone market

Spillikins #67. Nokia Learned to Play Violin, but is Losing its Worth

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Published — 24 May 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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