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Samsung Q2 Profits Up 47.5%, But Operating Profit At Its Mobile Division Slows

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As the worldwide smartphone market slows, Samsung’s second-quarter earnings showed that it is beginning to feel the pressure despite being the world’s top smartphone vendor.

Samsung said its Q2 2013 operating profit increased 47.5% to $8.5 billion, in line with the company’s own estimate. Operating profit at its mobile division, which accounts for two-thirds of the company’s revenue and is its biggest earnings driver, rose 52% to 6.23 trillion won ($5.6 billion), but fell 3.5% from the previous quarter.

The reporting period included the launch of the Galaxy S4, Samsung’s flagship phone and its main rival to the iPhone. One month after the Galaxy S4 s launch, Samsung said it’d hit a record 10 million channel sales, but the Korean tech giant is under the same challenges as Apple thanks to a slowing global smartphone market and shrinking margins. Earlier this week, Apple reported weaker international sales, due in large part to a dramatic revenue plunge in China.

Samsung said that smartphone sales will continue to be slower in the third quarter.

"Entering into a typically strong season for the IT industry, we expect earnings to continue to increase," said Samsung head of investor relations Robert Yi in a statement. "However, we cannot overlook delayed economic recovery in Europe and risks from increased competition for smartphone and other set products."


Timehop, The Place To Reminisce Online, Raises $3M Led By Spark Capital

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While present-focused social networks like Facebook and Instagram make plenty of room for the narcissists in us, there’s not really a dedicated and focused place to reflect on the past.

Timehop, which started out as 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo, has evolved into a mobile-first startup that surfaces old memories from your social networks. The app will pull up status updates from a year or more ago, reminding you of friends you’ve lost contact with or thoughts you had a year ago on this day.

The New York-based startup says it just rounded up another $3 million in funding led by existing investor Spark Capital. O’Reilly Alphatech Ventures, which had also previously backed the company, participated as well. Andrew Parker, a principal at Spark, joins Timehop’s board.

Timehop’s CEO Jonathan Wegener says that the company will use the round to build out the team beyond seven people and focus on mobile apps. Timehop just shut down its e-mail service last week.

"The big, long-term vision is to be a place to reminisce online," Wegener said. "Basically in this world, all social networks are real-time. They’re about what’s happening right now, but there’s no place online to discuss the past."

While the Series A crunch has made fundraising tough for all kinds of consumer-facing mobile and web products, Wegener said it was Timehop’s stickiness that made a compelling case. He said one-third of Timehop’s user base opens the product on any given day, which is a very respectable retention figure.

"Users who try to the product fall in love with it. This helped us make the argument that people are working Timehop into their everday lives," Wegener said. "At first, people don’t understand why they would want this. But they get really addicted to it. They see it as a mirror of their own life, and a reflection of their past self."

He said he’s used the app to remember which friends he’s lost touch with over the years. The app will pull up old group photos, reminding Wegener to reach out and reconnect.

Timehop’s earlier investors also included angels like Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai and Alex Rainert, Groupme’s Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, Rick Webb and Kevin Slavin.


AWS Adds SDK Support For Windows Phone And Windows Store Apps

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Amazon Web Services continues to enhance support for Microsoft workloads with added SDK support for Windows Phone and Windows Store Apps.

According to the AWS blog, the new support comes with a Developer Preview of the next version of the AWS SDK for .NET. The release of the SDK adds two new enhancements for.NET developers.

A developer can connect Windows Phone or Windows Store apps to AWS services and build a cross-targeted application that’s backed by AWS. With the addition, AWS now also offers SDK support for Windows as well as iOS and Android.

AWS also added support for its “task-based asynchronous pattern,” which uses “the async and await keywords and makes programming asynchronous operations against AWS more easily to do.”

The support follows AWS efforts to show support for running Microsoft Exchange Server in the AWS Cloud as well SQL Server and Sharepoint.

The new support illustrates the competition among the cloud service providers to become the developer center for all devices. AWS is by far the leader but Windows Azure has steadily added more features for supporting iOS and Android.


Asian Mobile Makers Squeeze Apple’s Global Smartphone Share To Its Lowest For 3-Years In Record 230M Unit Q2

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More proof, if proof were needed, that Apple needs a low cost iPhone to get its smartphone momentum mojo back: Cupertino’s share of the global smartphone market fell to its lowest for three years in Q2, according to Strategy Analytics, with just 31.2 million iPhones shipped in the quarter and Apple’s second place ranking declining to a 14% market share - this despite the overall smartphone market growing 47% annually to reach a record 230 million units shipped.

"The current iPhone portfolio is under-performing and Apple is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between rival 3-inch Android models at the low-end and 5-inch Android models at the high-end," said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, in a statement.

Mawston told TechCrunch it’s not just a low cost iPhone that Apple needs to return to growth, although he agrees that is a requirement for Apple to drive extra volume. Cupertino’s top priority should be a new type of flagship to compete with Samsung’s phablets, he said.

"Apple’s first priority should be a premium-tier phablet with a 5-inch screen because that is where the largest new revenue pool is located," he said via email. "Apple is losing profit share to Samsung partly because of a lack of presence in the phablet segment. Apple’s second priority should be a lower-cost iPhone to win back some of the customers it is losing to cheaper Android models in Asia, Africa and Latin America."

"A 5-inch iPhone would generate extra value for Apple, while a cheaper iPhone would deliver extra volume," he added.

Overall, the analyst said smartphone market growth is being driven by demand for 4G handsets in developed markets such as the U.S. and 3G devices in emerging markets such as India. Asian mobile makers, who predominately use Google’s Android OS, are now clearly dominating the surging smartphone market, with Samsung still in kingpin position - shipping 76 million devices in Q2 to capture one-third of all smartphone volumes worldwide in the quarter - and LG, ZTE and Huawei in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

The analyst described LG as a “star performer”, with its global shipments doubling year-over-year to hit 12.1 million units in Q2 to take a 5% share. “The popular Optimus and Nexus models have been the main drivers of LG’s success. If LG can expand its retail presence and marketing in major countries such as the US or China, LG could quietly start to challenge Apple for second position,” Analyst Linda Sui added in a statement.

Chinese mobile maker ZTE also took a 5% share in the quarter, shipping a record 11.5 million smartphones to take fourth place for the first time, while Huawei shipped 11.1 million handsets to also grab 5% and take fifth.