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Entry level Chrome OS based commercial and consumer products built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC

Once you have regular security problems on your Windows 10 PC like me, and you are essentially already close to 100% using web applications only like me, than it is time to move over to the Chrome OS platform. And this could be done now with a rock bottom cost. This is what I’ve found by examining the latest Chrome OS platform information as well as the entry level hardware represented by devices built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC (a low-end quadcore 64-bit ARM SoC with lowest cost IP inside, so the SoC is the lowest cost too).

There is a “hidden” advantage as well. The “Android apps on Chrome OS” is in Beta now, but when the current Android Framework in Chrome OS will move from support of Android Marshmallow [6.0] to Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59 all Google Play store apps will be available properly on Chrome devices as well. In a companion post I’ve examined the current state-of-the-art of Android security as well, and that is looking much better than that of current Windows 10. So as far as all this information is concerned such a platform change looks like the final solution for my current security issues on Win10.

There is a further impetus from yesterday’s news on Microsoft Edge comes last in browser security battle By 18 hours ago from techradar

Chrome remains the undisputed champion at Pwn2Own

So let’s examine first the state-of-the-art of Chrome OS security:

1:57-2:00: “What we know is that every Chrome device on the market today has a TPM.”
Streamed live on Feb 1, 2017G SuiteChrome OS Security Guide, an in-depth discussion by David Karam, Chrome OS Product Manager. An overview of Chrome OS security across the entire stack.

Next let’s see the latest information about the strategic value proposition of the Chrome OS:
March 9, 2017, Google CloudSimple, flexible, and secure Chrome OS solutions built for the future (Google Cloud Next ’17) by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google. As businesses evolve, they need technology solutions that are simple, flexible and cost-effective to help them succeed today and build for tomorrow. Chrome provides solutions fit for the workplace of the future – providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. Learn how your business can leverage ChromeOS in multiple ways.

March 15, 2017G SuiteOptimizing your Retail Business with Google Chrome (17- min) by Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google)
– Retail is being disrupted by digital. With a need to improve the in-store experience, retailers want technology to optimize employee effectiveness and customer experience.
Chrome devices empower retail store employees and delight customers while improving IT efficiency.

March 8, 2017, The Keyword from Google: How businesses are smartly transforming with Google Cloud, Android, and Chrome by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google.

While businesses with a mobile strategy are commonplace today, that doesn’t mean the mobile transformation is over. Today, we’re highlighting how companies are using Google Cloud, Chrome, and Android to reimagine the way they engage customers in public spaces and also equip employees to work more productively in the office and in the field.

Smart signs cut costs and provide customer insights

We recently collaborated with Coca-Cola on Chrome-based digital signs for supermarkets that pull in localized ads from DoubleClick and are equipped with beacon technology for pushing personalized messages to mobile users.

Coca-Cola_digital_signage.width-458[1]

The company has worked closely with Google Cloud to build a new signage solution that includes affordable digital sign and menu boards for Coca-Cola sellers.

“Our mission at Coca-Cola is to elevate the consumer experience to a place of pure excellence and the ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time is key to driving that world class experience in the connected retail world,” said Greg Chambers, Global Group Director of Digital Innovation at Coca-Cola.

The displays are powered by inexpensive Chromebit devices connected to a content management system (CMS) on Google Cloud Platform. The Chromebits also provide simple, centralized management of the signs. Combined with sensors, they can offer the company detailed, actionable information through Google Analytics as well as highly contextual advertising to other screens like nearby customer smartphones.

Android plus cloud intelligence enables field workers

UK pest control company Rentokil Initial is piloting a fleet of Android devices that utilize Google Cloud machine learning, including our Vision API image classification technology, to help field workers better identify pests and get treatment suggestions. Employees use an Android app to capture images that are identified using a machine learning model that’s been trained on Rentokil’s pest imagery database. The app then provides solutions to eradicate the pests. The PestID app, jointly developed by Accenture Mobility, is among the first wave of solutions Google is helping build as part of an alliance announced last year with Accenture.

Connecting manufacturing to the back office

42Q, a product division of manufacturing services provider Sanmina, developed a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) solution that runs on Google Cloud Platform.

42q-android-manufacturing.width-500[1]

It enables Sanmina employees and 42Q’s customers to bring real-time transparency to their factory operations using Android and Chrome devices. Using 42Q with Chrome, “deskless” back office workers can access work instructions, data requirements, and quality plans without deploying heavy client applications and expensive equipment.

Factory operators can also use the 42Q Android app for a “tailored” mobile interface, ensuring they only see critical information on demand.

When combined with G Suite, everyone from front office planners to back office operators can collaborate on current production line states, critical orders and real time reporting on factory operations.

Tomorrow’s businesses: empowered with advanced devices, collaboration and context

With a Google Cloud devices and mobility strategy, businesses are able to gather contextual data through devices and apply machine learning analytics to quickly take smart, well-informed actions. And the more employees who use managed Chromebooks and Android devices to collaborate and securely access documents in G Suite, the more efficient your whole team becomes.

Several new devices support this secure data-driven strategy. The Asus Chromebook Flip and recently-announced Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus function as both a Chromebook and an Android tablet with Google Play support. Last month, AOPEN launched the Chromebox mini and Chromebase mini, which also support Android apps and can use our new Kiosk APIs for improved app management and a robust customer experience.

To learn more about the Google Cloud devices and mobility solutions that enable a connected workspace, visit our booth at Next 2017 between March 8 and 10. There we’ll be demonstrating how a business becomes smarter when you pair Chrome and Android devices, cloud services and sensors with employees, customers and spaces. Or sign up here for additional information as we continue to evolve our range of data-driven tools to make every workspace connected no matter where it is.

Google Devices are built for the cloud -- Google Next 17 March 8, 2017

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 1: Developing Next Gen Solutions AOPEN’s Jim Hoey along with Google’s Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google) go over Chrome OS, developing on Chrome, and an example of a fully integrated Chrome solution.

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 2: Chrome Device Management AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield discuss the benefits of Chrome Device Management (CDM) and how businesses can utilize it for rapid deployments, reducing and controlling costs, and much more.

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 3: AOPEN Chrome Mini Devices AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield introduces two new AOPEN Chrome Devices: Chromebox Mini and Chromebase Mini

Re: “TPM chip” mentioned in the early part of the 1st video above:
from Trusted Platform Module article in Wikipedia

Overview 

Trusted Platform Module offers facilities for the secure generation of cryptographic keys, and limitation of their use, in addition to a random number generator.[4][5] It also includes capabilities such as remote attestation and sealed storage, as follows:

  • Remote attestation – creates a nearly unforgeable hash key summary of the hardware and software configuration. The program hashing the configuration data determines the extent of the summary of the software. This allows a third party to verify that the software has not been changed.
  • Binding – encrypts data using TPM bind key, a unique RSA key descended from a storage key.[6]
  • Sealing – encrypts data in a similar manner to binding, but in addition specifies a state in which TPM must be in order for the data to be decrypted (unsealed).[7]

Software can use a Trusted Platform Module to authenticate hardware devices. Since each TPM chip has a unique and secret RSA key burned in as it is produced, it is capable of performing platform authentication.

Generally, pushing the security down to the hardware level in conjunction with software provides more protection than a software-only solution.[8] However even where a TPM is used, a key would still be vulnerable while a software application that has obtained it from TPM is using it to perform encryption/decryption operations, as has been illustrated in the case of a cold boot attack. This problem is eliminated if key(s) used in TPM are not accessible on a bus or to external programs and all encryption/decryption is done in TPM.[citation needed]

TPM implementations 

Starting in 2006, many new laptop computers have been sold with a built-in Trusted Platform Module chip. In the future, this concept could be co-located on an existing motherboard chip in computers, or any other device where the TPM facilities could be employed, such as a cell phone. On a PC, either the LPC bus or the SPI bus is used to connect to the TPM.

Many manufacturers make TPMs. The Trusted Computing Group has certified TPMs manufactured by Infineon Technologies, Nuvoton, and STMicroelectronics.[15] The Trusted Computing Group has assigned TPM vendor IDs to Advanced Micro Devices, Atmel, Broadcom, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, National Semiconductor, Nationz Technologies, Nuvoton, Qualcomm, Rockchip, Standard Microsystems Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Samsung, Sinosun, Texas Instruments, and Winbond.[16]

There are five different types of TPM 2.0 implementations: discrete TPMs (dTPM), integrated TPMs, firmware TPMs (fTPM), software TPMs, and virtual TPMs.[17][18] 

  • Discrete TPMs are chips that implement TPM functionality and nothing else, and are in their own semiconductor package.[17] These implement their functions in hardware to resist software bugs and implement tamper resistance.[18] They are therefore the most secure type of TPM.[18] 
  • Integrated TPMs are part of another chip that implements other functionalities.[17] While they use hardware that resists software bugs, they are not required to implement tamper resistance.[18] Intel has integrated TPMs in some of its chipsets.[17]

from ARM TrustZone FAQ article on Open Virtualization – ARM TrustZone and ARM Hypervisor Open Source Software site

How does the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) compare to Trusted Platform Mobile (TPM)?

There are two main components of platform security:

  1. Trusted Execution Environment
  2. Trusted Platform Module

They work in tandem; one is not designed as a replacement of the other. As an analogy, TEE is the bulletproof safe, while TPM is the 128-digit combination lock for the safe. Both are needed to ensure the safe is protected.

TEE encompasses the following elements:

  1. A protected or secure execution of critical applications in a virtualized environment
  2. Safe and secure boot ensures all system software components are in a known and “trusted” state before launching.

TPM provides the following services:

  1. Remote attestation: External services can verify that the system has not been altered or tampered with by using a hash of both system state. The verification is performed on both hardware and software. It is necessary to check that the system is not compromised before executing sensitive processes.
  2. Binding: Encryption of data using a unique RSA key that is burned into the chip when the chip is manufactured.
  3. Sealing: A feature that ensures that data isn’t accessed or decrypted when the system is in normal operation. It ensures that applications cannot access protected data when the system is in a sealed mode. But it can also allow legitimate applications to access protected data.

Arguments were made that TPM is not necessary if the TEE is robust. Some vendors have chosen not to use external TPM and store the keys and protected data in a TEE-only addressable area. TEE can help with Binding and Sealing. ISO standards suggest using a full-fledged TPM. External TPM could be very useful in coordinating between several masters and other complex systems. On the other hand, solutions that only rely on TPM are very vulnerable for execution and boot attacks. It is easy to override the application run states and circumvent TPM.

Do Intel or AMD offer Trusted Execution Environments?

Yes, other processor architectures support TEE. Popular CPU Architectures and their TEE implementations:

  1. ARM TrustZone
  2. Intel TXT
  3. AMD Secure Execution Environment

All three of these TEE implementations provide a virtualized Execution Environment for the secure OS and applications. To switch between the secure world and the normal world, Intel provides SMX Instructions, while ARM uses SMC. Programmatically, they all achieve very similar results.

Popular TPM Implementations:

  • ARM SecureCore
  • TPMs from Broadcom and other vendors who meet ISO standards

ARM: SecurCore Processors
Tamper resistant – optimized for security applications

The ARM® SecurCore processor family provides powerful 32-bit secure solutions based upon industry leading ARM architecture. By enhancing highly successful ARM processors with security features, SecurCore provides smart card and secure IC developers easy access to the benefits of ARM 32-bit technology such as small die size, energy efficiency, low cost, excellent code density and outstanding performance. SecurCore processors, used in a wide range of security applications, outperform legacy 8-bit or 16-bit secure processors.

Performance, anti-tampering

SC300
High performance smartcard and embedded security applications

Optimized, anti-tampering

SC000
Highest volume smartcard and embedded security applications.

SecurCore characteristics

ARM SecurCore processors are designed primarily for tamper-resistant smart cards and incorporate several security features that make SecurCore an ideal choice for such applications. Further details on the SecurCore security features are available under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) from ARM.

ARM SecurCore are built upon the ARM Cortex-M series. They benefit from wide tools support, including full support from RealView® Microcontroller Development Kit (the Keil uVision environment), the most popular smart card development tool chain in the industry.

SecurCore applications

SecurCore is shaping the future of smart cards and it is successfully adopted in many applications:

  • Advanced payment systems
  • Electronic passports
  • Electronic Ticketing
  • SIM
  • Transportation
  • Smart cards

Industry Standards

SecurCore is the industry standard architecture of choice for smart cards.

Re: “Android apps on Chrome OS” also mentioned in the 1st video above:
March 13, 2017, Chromebook Central Help ForumAndroid apps on selected Chromebooks FAQ

Hi everyone

We have been rolling out the Google Play Store on select Chromebooks on the Stable channel and the Play store will now be available on more Chromebooks in the coming months.

You can find the full list of Chromebooks here  but please note also that all the Chromebooks we launch in  2017 will support  Android apps.

This post aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about Android apps on Chrome OS and provide more clarity on which what Chromebooks run Android Apps:

Stable Channel

Android apps are now available on Stable Channel in the following devices

  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
  • Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T / CB5-132T
  • Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus

Beta Channel

  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
  • Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5-312T)

Dev Channel

  • ThinkPad 11e Chromebook 3rd Gen (Yoga/Clamshell)
  • Dell Chromebook 13 7310
  • ASUS Chromebook C202SA/C300SA/C301SA
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • Samsung Chromebook 3
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5 / HP Chromebook 11-vxxx

FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY ANDROID APPS AND HOW WE BUILT

What does it mean  that “Android apps are coming to Chromebooks”?

“Android apps are coming to Chromebooks” means that we are bringing the Google Play Store and all Android apps to compatible Chromebooks.

Why are we building it?

Chrome OS has brought the web as a first class citizen to our users. With that, we made great productivity and  knowledge devices. We want to give the Google Play Store Google’s app ecosystem, the same treatment and treat  both the web and Android apps as first class citizens to our users and provide them with a platform for productivity, consumption, gaming and more.

How did we build this?

Android will run in a container side-by-side with Chrome OS. The apps will then be composited into Chrome OS inside of windows. Input into those windows (touch, mouse, keyboard) will be sent to the Android container and processed by the app. All concepts expected by Android apps (intents, notifications, toasts, you name it) will be fully supported by Chrome OS.

GETTING STARTED

Why is Play Store not available for download on my Chromebook?

The Play Store is available for certain Chromebooks. To see the list of Chromebooks that will eventually be able to run the Play Store, check here.

I did not opt into to download Play Store support – how do I enable it?

You can enable Android apps by going into Settings and checking – Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook. You can check steps in our Help Center.

I’m using Chromebook in my workplace or school, and heard that Play Store should be available for download – how come it’s not showing up? 

Please ask your IT administrator so that you can enjoy using Play Store applications as soon as possible.

APPS & GOOGLE PLAY RELATED QUESTIONS

March 10, 2017ClintonFitch.com: Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59

While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated.  The answer is yes and pretty soon.  This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59.  Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.

As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow [6.0].  So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome.  The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow.  All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.

The other big challenge with Marshmallow is that you can only run one app at a time, somewhat related to the multi-window aspect.  In other words, if you are running an Android app on your Chromebook and switch focus to another app, the first app quits running on the backend.  So things like sync don’t work.  That would change in a Nougat framework.

When I asked Google about this, they confirmed that Nougat is coming to Chrome OS in the 58 or 59 train.  That’s good because 58 is in the Beta Channel and 59 is in the Developer channel.  So, at best, we are likely 6 weeks away and at worst, 12 weeks.

Perhaps the better news in all of this, the Chrome team also confirmed that they want to accelerate support in the future of Android so when Android O [8.0] is released later this year, we could see widespread support of it much faster than we have Nougat.

New AOPEN Chrome devices offer enterprise grade performance at an affordable price

New York, 17 January 2017 – Two new powerful and innovative AOPEN Chrome devices, from one of the leading commercial* Chrome device manufacturers, are set to drive customer experience in 2017.

The AOPEN Chromebase Mini and Chromebox Mini devices are part of a new enterprise range aimed at bringing enterprise reliability and features at an affordable price.

The Chromebase Mini is an enterprise-ready interactive 10.1-inch all-in-one touchscreen solution. It’s designed to be managed with ease, reliability, and security – making it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments including digital signage, POS, self-service kiosks, digital corporate communication, and AV room control.

The second device, the Chromebox Mini, is the smallest Chromebox on the market today and also runs on the Chrome OS platform. It is solid state and can be used as an SME or enterprise desktop replacement hosting IOT applications, digital signage and kiosks and affording greater control of in-store engagement.

Stephen Borg, Global Chief Digital Officer AOPEN Group, says the devices represent a major leap forward in design – allowing a ubiquitous approach to multiple use cases, rapid application development, and ease of use for the signage, kiosk, POS, and other enterprise markets.

“AOPEN designed its new Chrome OS device line to empower the customer by servicing a wide range of verticals and needs,” says Borg. “They are fully enterprise-ready in terms of product longevity and reliability, ease of large deployment, remote access, and service.”

Chromebase Mini
The Chromebase Mini, an all-in-one 10.1-inch solution, does not require a kiosk protective case, is waterproof and tamper proof unlike like a consumer touch device.

The enterprise ready all-in-one touch device supports audio-video conference platforms, such as Google Hangouts. It offers mounting options for A/V or desktop use (including a built-in Vesa Mount stand), high-quality camera and audio, and a dual microphone. The chromebase mini is also accompanied by optional accessories such as recess wall mounts, POE adapters, and adapters to mount various payment solutions.

By leveraging AOPEN software layer meldCX, the Chromebase Mini is compatible with end-user legacy POS systems – featuring local app instances for offline use and device integration, while maintaining a competitive price point.

“The Chromebase Mini achieves both customer and operational benefits. Its aesthetic and interactive design makes it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments and provides a compelling way for customers to transact. Retailers or Integrators can also use Chrome Device Management to control and manage their device fleets. It means that content updates and management of the devices can be done remotely via the cloud, and its ease of rollout gives retailers an amazing experience,” says Borg.

“The Chromebase Mini is also ideal for enterprise business solutions. It positions Chrome squarely in the cloud, offering secure flexibility of business cloud solutions and enabling both Google Hangouts and other video conferencing solutions.”

Chromebox Mini
The Chromebox Mini is a solid-state, ultra-small form factor device. It is the smallest enterprise-ready Chromebox currently available.

It supports Chrome Device Management, and can be used as an enterprise desktop replacement. Its features include fanless design, Bluetooth, wide-reaching dual-band antenna, and power button extension ports for ease of mounting behind device or having other AV equipment control on/off state .

Both the Chromebase and Chromebox Mini are enterprise-grade solutions, at a price point suitable for home use for those wanting a more reliable silent solution. Both feature fanless/non-venting hole designs, can operate in a wide range of temperatures, and meet Google’s security requirements.

“Rather than re-purposing consumer-grade products and support for commercial environments, AOPEN has introduced a design for the Chrome Mini Range that is robust and reliable enough for enterprise deployments across key verticals – including retail, hospitality, and QSR,” says Borg.

Chromebase Mini – key features:

  • Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
  • Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
  • CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
  • DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
  • Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
  • FHD Webcam (2M)
  • Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
  • WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

Chromebox Mini Fievel – key features:

  • Fanless/non venting hole design
  • CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
  • DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
  • Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
  • WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

*AOPEN commercial grade products are engineered for 24/7, 365 use in a commercial environment. Products are all solid state. In addition, the Chromebase Mini has tamper proof and water resistant features.

About AOPEN
Founded in 1996, AOPEN is today a major global electronics manufacturer and a thought leader in digital signage.

AOPEN is an official partner for Google Chrome devices, including the following tiers:

  • Google Cloud Sales Premier Partner (Chrome)
  • Google for Education Sales Premier Partner
  • Google Cloud Services Partner (Chrome)
  • Google for Work Education Services Partner

Specialising in multi-platform, ultra-small form factor computing for both home and business, AOPEN works with a wide range of partners – from hardware to software and services. Through these partnerships, AOPEN creates advanced digital display solutions for many of the world’s top brands.

Part of the Wistron group, AOPEN has a presence in over 100 countries. AOPEN customers and partners range from governments and financial institutions to retailers, retail design firms, strategic consultants, and branding agencies.
www.aopen.com

Features:

● Fanless/non venting hole design
● CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
● Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.8 x 0.94 in

For additional details, download the Chromebox Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET

Features:

● Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
● Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
● CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● FHD Webcam (2MP)
● Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

For additional details, download the Chromebase Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET

201605-09, Rockchip: RK3288-C based CTL J4+ Chromebook, priced at under $200!

The humble Chromebook has gone through many revisions since its inception nearly five years ago. Originally designed as a low-cost notebook running the Google Chrome OS and connected to the cloud for everyday work, there are now ultra-premium models such as the Pixel, a wider range of touchscreen-enabled designs primarily from Asus, as well a bevy of entry-level offerings that target value above all else.

This budget end of the market is dominated by Chromebooks powered by the ARM architecture. Chief amongst the proponents of this Internet-connected device is Chinese chipmaker Rockchip, whose RK3288 system-on-chip processor powers a number of Chromebooks for the consumer and education markets.

Found in Chromebooks from Asus, Haier and HiSense, as well as the novel Chromebit, the RK3288(C) SoC is also present in education-focussed notebooks made popular by CTL. Priced at under $200 for the best-in-breed J4+, we have one in for evaluation today.

Under the hood: RK3288C

But before we get to the Chromebook it is instructive to take a peek at what makes the RK3288 SoC an ideal fit for these devices. The RK3288 uses two of ARM’s best-known technologies – Cortex A-class processor and Mali graphics – and then wraps them inside a fully-baked SoC with display, memory, camera and connectivity support.

The Cortex-A17, which is ostensibly a speed-bumped version of the Cortex-A12, is arranged in a quad-core configuration and scales up to 1.8GHz. Though now superseded by the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A72, the 32-bit-only processor remains a potent choice for an entry-level Chromebook. Graphics oomph is provided by the Mali-T760 GPU also in a quad-core configuration, and its performance in a range of last year’s premium handsets bodes well for the kind of work that Chromebook users will engage in on a daily basis.

The rest of the SoC treads familiar ground. There’s a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller supporting DDR3/L memory, 4K-capable HDMI-out, an H.264 video encoder/decoder, and 13MP ISP for snapping duties.

The point to appreciate is that a budget SoC provides enough general chutzpah for a fluid experience on a Chromebook. We’ve seen this proved empirically with the evaluation of the similar, yet more expensive, Chromebook Flip from Asus.

The CTL J4+

Designed primarily for the classroom but available to purchase from a selected number of retailers for regular customers, the CTL J4+ is solid enough to withstand the usual knocks that might be expected in an education environment. The carbon-like pattern is, as you would expect, made of plastic, but it’s of a high quality throughout. Grabbing the sides of the Chromebook in both hands results in very little flex. Indeed, we’ve seen full-on notebooks costing multiple times more having inferior build quality.

That said, the lid, although a dark grey, is a magnet for fingerprints. The slightest bit of grease or moisture shows up, so you’ll be rubbing it away constantly to ensure it’s kept nice and clean. Portability is a key concern for the education market, too; the J4+’s 1,124g weight is very competitive against other Chromebooks of a similar bearing, while the total travel weight, including small power charger, is less than 1,500g. My 11-year-old niece felt it was portable enough to be carried in a rucksack during the daily 15-minute walk to school.

There are inevitable compromises when retailing a sub-$200 Chromebook. One area where the J4+ falls slightly short is shown by a lack of USB 3.0. An older, slower port lines either side, with HDMI-out and a micro-SD card-reader also available. Though it would be nicer to have USB 3.0, the question we ask ourselves is whether it makes much of a real-world difference on a machine that’s purposely designed to be used almost exclusively with the Internet?

Other than the previously mentioned quad-core Rockchip SoC operating at up to 1.8GHz, this Chromebook is supported by 16GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of DDR3L memory, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an integrated, 3,400mAh battery promising up to nine hours of regular usage from a single charge. A couple of 1.5W speakers offer rudimentary sound capabilities.

The smooth hinge goes back about 120° revealing an 11.6in display with large bezels on all sides. Premium Chromebooks look more like expensive laptops, but at the cheaper end of the market the design has barely changed over the past decade. But hey, it works well enough for its intended market.

The + suffix is the differentiator between this and an otherwise similar Chromebook from the CTL stable. The regular machine also has an 11.6in screen with a native 1,366×768 resolution but it uses a TN display instead. The + model improves this to an IPS screen with wider viewing angles and, in our opinion, considerably better colour reproduction.

It’s bright, sharp enough for the modest resolution and a good fit for a budget Chromebook. In a world where children often have higher-resolution tablets as the norm rather than exception, my niece noted that the fidelity wasn’t as impressive as her retina-equipped iPad. Yet good enough for basic spreadsheets and some simple word processing? Sure.

The keys offer shallow travel that take a little getting used to if coming from a full-size, discrete keyboard. Optimised for Chrome it misses out the regular Caps Lock key which gives way to Search while the usual function keys are routed instead to common Chrome tasks.

In a similar vein to the Chromebook Flip, the trackpad is solid. It also supports Chrome gestures and has a satisfying click each time it’s depressed. We’d describe the inputs as generic for an entry-level Chromebook, but do understand that isn’t meant in a pejorative sense; the duo work well.

The power-sipping nature of the SoC is a boon for those searching for quietness. A lack of vents hints to silent computing, and it is, with the Rockchip SoC cooled passively. Students coming from a tablet world will appreciate that, in terms of noise, it’s no different to what they’re accustomed to.

In use

General performance is dictated by the SoC and supporting memory contained within the Chromebook. In concert with the majority of others plying this end of the market, one where Rockchip has a leadership position, applications open quickly and the user experience is smooth and predictable. This isn’t a machine for doing anything taxing, mind – the Chrome OS is built for Internet-centric usage – yet playing videos, opening up multiple tabs in simple programs, and calling on Skype does little to push the capabilities of the RK3288C SoC.

For those that haven’t used a Chromebook of late, think of the performance as analogous to a mid-range smartphone of this year. It’s never electric, as on the latest PCs or high-end phones, but neither is it slow at any task you would commonly undertake.

More pertinently, it’s quick enough for the education market for which this model is primed. Rather than conduct looping battery tests, we used the J4+ over the course of a weekend, doing the usual browsing and video playback, and noted that it kept going for approximately 10 hours before running out of juice.

A simple machine with a simple premise of appealing to a broad educational market, the CTL J4+ is a solid Chromebook arriving with an attractive bulk price of under $200. It strikes all the right notes for an entry-level Chromebook powered by the ever-popular Rockchip RK3288C SoC. Pricing, though, remains absolutely key, as more feature-filled models are available for a little more, while the absolute budget end, based on the same chassis, starts at just $150. Tablets, too, offer a similar level of performance, albeit without physical keyboard, for less money.

The evolution of mobile SoCs has meant that adequate performance can be gained by spending a very reasonable amount of money. A case in point is the Rockchip RK3288C, widely seen in these devices, and with enough grunt and longevity to run everyday tasks for well, all day. CTL naturally takes this on with the J4+ education-focussed Chromebook equipped with a solid IPS display and surprisingly decent build quality.

Available to purchase to regular consumers for $189 at present, it represents good value in a congested marketplace. If your heart is set on a Chromebook and require a solid machine that covers all the basics, the CTL J4+ is a good starting point.

Rockchip: RK3288

  • Quad-core Cortex-A17 up to 1.8GHz
  • Mali-T764 GPU
  • Dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3
  • 4K UHD H265/H264
  • BT.2020/BT.709
  • H264 encoder
  • TS in/CSA 2.0
  • USB 2.0
Process • 28nm
CPU • Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
GPU • Mali-T764 GPU, Supports AFBC (ARM Frame Buffer Compression)
• support OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.1, OpenCL, DirectX9.3
•  High performance dedicated 2D processor
Multi-Media • 4K 10bits VP9/H265/H264 video decoders, up to 60fps
• 1080P other video decoders (VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP8)
• 1080P video encoder for H.264 and VP8
• Video post processor: de-interlace, de-noise, enhancement for edge/detail/color
Display • Support RGB/Dual LVDS/Dual MIPI-DSI/eDP interface, up to 3840*2160 resolution
• HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz with HDCP 1.4/2.2
Security ARM TrustZone (TEE), Secure Video Path, Cipher Engine, Secure boot
Memory • Dual-channel 64bit DDR3-1333/DDR3L-1333/LPDDR2-1066
• Support MLC NAND, eMMC 4.51
Connectivity • Embedded 13M ISP, MIPI CSI-2 and DVP interface
• Dual SDIO 3.0 interface
• TS in/CSA2.0, support DTV function
• Embed HDMI, Ethernet MAC, S/PDIF, USB, I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, PS2
Package • BGA636 19X19, 0.65mm pitch
State • MP Now

xx

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Android security

February 14, 2017, RSA Conference: Delivering Secure, Client-Side Technology to Billions of Users Adrian Ludwig, Director of Android Security, Google.
Google aims to make the web safe for all. Director of Android Security Adrian Ludwig will discuss the progress they’ve made, the gaps that remain and how client-side security can make the web more secure.

THE BASICS
30 Aug 2016, WIRED UK: How Google is putting security at the heart of Android By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s director of Android Security explains the operating system’s built-in security features

Android has been the fastest growing operating system of all time.

Google launched the first Android phone in the US in 2008, and there are now 1.4 billion Android users around the world.

The total ecosystem is huge: 400 companies partner with 500 carriers to produce over 4,000 distinct phones, tablets, and TVs running Android.

When we founded Android, the idea was somewhat crazy — build an open standard for hardware makers. Android is open-sourced and provided for free on all hardware.

This makes it possible for hardware makers to build a wide variety of different devices (phones, tablets, and even watches) while simultaneously making it easier for developers to build one app that works across any of these different devices.

Having an open ecosystem and over a billion users means that we take security very seriously. From the very beginning, security has been baked into the heart of Android. For example:

Application Sandbox

All Android applications run in what we call an “Application Sandbox.” Just like the walls of a sandbox keep the sand from getting out, each application is housed within a virtual ‘sandbox’ to keep it from accessing anything outside itself. This means that even if a user were to accidentally install a piece of malware, it’s forbidden from accessing any other app on the device.

The latest security technology

Android devices use leading hardware and software security technologies such as encryption, application signing, system integrity checks, SELinux, ASLR, and TrustZone to protect user data and the device.

More control in Android M

Users are even more safe with the new permissions model in Android M by giving them more control over what apps are allowed to access. Apps trigger requests for permissions at the time they need to do something.

For example, if your photo posting app wants to access your photo roll, it has to ask you first. So if a flashlight app starts asking for access to your phone book, you can just say no.

Google Play

Google Play —  our official marketplace for Android apps and games — is also an important part of Android security. Before applications become available in Google Play, they undergo an application security review process to confirm that they comply with Google Play policies, prohibiting potentially harmful applications. We suspend developer accounts and apps that violate our policies.

Third Party Verify Apps Feature

Since Android allows alternative app stores other than Google Play, our users often download apps from third-party app stores. In order to help make this third-party experience secure, we also have a feature called Verify Apps that warns the user or blocks potentially harmful apps, even if the app wasn’t from the Play Store.

It will check apps when you install them and periodically scans for potentially harmful apps to keep users safe. Over 1 billion devices are protected with Google Play which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day.

The results of these efforts have made malware relatively rare on Android. Based on our research, fewer than one per cent of Android devices had a Potentially Harmful App (PHA) installed in 2014, and fewer than 0.15 per cent of devices that only install from Google Play had a PHA installed.

In future installments, we’ll talk more about how we work with the broader security community to protect Android users, and offer a few tips for you to protect your phone as well.

THE CONTRIBUTION FROM THE PARTNERS COMMUNITY
31 Aug 2016, WIRED UK: How Google’s bug bounties reward you for hunting out flaws in its Android software By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s head of Android Security explains how bug bounties keep the OS secure.

Our last post looked at the ways in which we protect users against harmful software inside of Android and through our app store Google Play.

Android, however, is an open ecosystem used by more than 1.4 billion people around the world, so it makes sense to tap into all of those Android partners, developers, users, and researchers to help locate vulnerabilities and problems. This is the advantage of an open ecosystem: we can work with the broader security community who help us improve security and make Android stronger.

The priority for this approach is that we must be transparent about how exactly Android works. Android is open source, and this means we publish the latest programming source code for Android here.

Anyone can review the code to identify potential security risks. Anyone can build a device using this open source code (as well as add their own customisations). And anyone can suggest modifications or improvements to the core open source project.

Secondly, we work hard to encourage research on Android. We have come up with many ways to incentivise people to poke around in our code and find problems.

In 2010, Google started what we call security reward programs to pay security researchers who find major flaws. In 2014 alone we paid more than $1.5 million to security researchers who found vulnerabilities in Chrome and other Google products.

The success of this program led us to extend it directly to Android. In 2014, we started Google Patch Rewards — an experimental program to reward proactive security improvements for a few of our open-source projects. Rewards for qualifying submissions range from $500 for one-line improvements, up to $10,000 for complicated, high-impact improvements that almost certainly prevent major vulnerabilities in the affected code.

Then in 2015, we started the Android Security Rewards Program to help reward the contributions of security researchers who invest their time and effort in helping us make Android more secure. Through this program we provide monetary rewards and public recognition for vulnerabilities disclosed to the Android Security Team.

The reward level is based on the bug severity, increasing for higher quality reports that include reproduction code, test cases, and patches. In the last six months of 2015, we paid more than $200,000 to researchers for their work, including our largest single payment of $37,500 to an Android security researcher. This was part of the total $2 million paid out to researchers across all the programs.

On top of our own programs, we also sponsor third-party competitions such as Mobile pwn2own, ZDI’s annual contest that rewards security researchers for highlighting security vulnerabilities on mobile platforms.

Finally, we work closely with our hardware partners so devices can be updated with the latest patches. For more than three years, we have been working with Android manufacturers every month through bulletins of security issues with which they can keep their users secure.

Manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, and Blackberry are collectively providing millions of devices with these monthly security updates.

Nexus devices have always been among the first Android devices to receive platform and security updates. Since last year, Nexus devices have been regularly receiving security-focused, over-the-air (OTA) updates each month in addition to the usual platform updates. These fixes are also released to the public via the Android Open Source Project.

For Android, security has always been a priority. We are extremely grateful to the wider research community for helping us find security flaws. It’s great to us — but more importantly, to 1.4 billion people around the world — to see so many people pitching in to make Android safer.

FROM THE USERS THEMSELVES
2 Sept 2016, WIRED UK: How to keep your Android phone safe from prying eyes By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s director of Android Security reveals practical ways to keep your data safe.

Over the course of this dedicated security series we have focused on how security is baked into the very heart of Android.

But the Android operating system also empowers you to take safety into your own hands.

This final piece in our series focuses on how each and every Android phone user can play an active role when it comes to safety on the internet. Today, smartphones have become nearly indispensable. So it’s important to keep your phone, but also its contents, secure.

We’re going to walk you through some top ways to keep your mobile security skills as sharp as possible. These are simple but highly effective ways to keep you safe, such as finding your phone if it’s lost, keeping your personal information secured, and making sure the apps and games you download are safe.

One of the most basic threats to mobile security is pretty simple and is probably something that has happened to all of us: losing your own phone. We entrust our phones with some of our most personal data – texts from loved ones, family photos, work emails, bank account information, and more. In the wrong hands, that data could cause trouble but when your phone goes missing, it’s not always easy to figure out where to start, who to call, or how to keep your information safe.

Find Your Phone is a new Android feature that will help you if your phone is ever lost or stolen. In a few simple steps, you can not only locate your phone, but also lock and call it, secure your account, leave a callback number on the screen, and more. The feature can be used to find lost Android and iOS devices, and soon, you’ll also be able to access it by searching Google for “I lost my phone.”

You can use Find Your Phone in My Account, or just by searching ‘find my phone’ on any Google browser. Plus, it works for both Android and iOS devices.

A second easy thing you can do if you don’t want anyone who picks up your phone or tablet to have access to your stuff is to switch on your mobile device lock. On an Android phone or tablet, you can pick a PIN, a password, or a pattern.

For added security, you should also set your device to automatically lock when it goes to sleep. You can take this even one step further and customise your settings so that your patterns and passwords are not visible when you’re entering them.

Download apps from trusted stores and marketplaces and help ensure your phone is safe when it’s in your own hands. Some apps can affect your device’s security, so only download them from places you trust. We work to make sure that all apps available on Google Play pass stringent policy checks, including checks for potentially harmful behaviour.

If you have Google Play installed, you’re automatically protected from potentially harmful apps with the Verify Apps feature. It’s turned on by default and warns you before you install an application we believe is potentially harmful. It’ll also check your device once a week for potentially harmful apps. If you see a warning from Verify Apps, we recommend not installing that app.

In the last year, we’ve significantly improved our machine learning and event correlation to detect potentially harmful behaviour. We protect users from malware and other Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs), by checking more than 6 billion installed applications per day. We protect users from network-based and on-device threats by scanning 400 million devices per day. And we protect hundreds of millions of Chrome users on Android from unsafe websites with Safe Browsing.

We have also continued to make it even more difficult to get PHAs into Google Play. Last year’s enhancements reduced the probability of installing a PHA from Google Play by over 40 per cent compared to 2014. Within Google Play, install attempts of most categories of PHAs declined. Data Collection decreased over 40 per cent to 0.08 per cent of installs, spyware dropped 60 per cent to 0.02 per cent of installs and hostile downloaders also decreased 50 per cent to 0.01 per cent of installs.

Overall, PHAs were installed on fewer than 0.15 per cent of devices that only get apps from Google Play. About 0.5 per cent of devices that install apps from both Play and other sources had a PHA installed during 2015, similar to the data in last year’s report.

It’s critical that we also protect users who install apps from sources other than Google Play. Our Verify Apps service protects these users and we improved the effectiveness of the PHA warnings provided by Verify Apps by over 50 per cent. In 2015, we saw an increase in the number of PHA install attempts outside of Google Play, and we disrupted several coordinated efforts to install PHAs onto user devices from outside of Google Play.

xx

What is behind the ARM Holding’s acquisition by SoftBank Group?

Update: Recently SoftBank Group among other Silicon Valley notaries such as Apple and Facebook, have poured over $100 billion into a new Softbank “vision Fund” that Founder Masayoshi Son says is going to be used to help develop AI. This is allocated to spending on emerging technology companies in the next 5 years. To put that number in perspective, the entire global venture capital “industry” is only $65 billion in size. Here is his presentation about that from MWC 2017:
March 3, 2017: Globalfuturist.org: Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son Keynote at MWC 2017 (25 and half min)

The How to Invest in the Singularity – It’s Near from June 3, 2017 will also give you a deep analysis of this initiative. Highly recommended!
End of Update

The quick answer is that “ARM is the driver of the IoT era” when every thing is interconnected. Another reason is that they have been steadily working in an early investment mode from very beginning, and quite successfully.

SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son has been referring back to the PC and Internet era when his company invested into Yahoo US which had only 16 employees then. In the beginning of PC broadband they have invested into mobile internet. And now is one of the biggest paradigm shifts is coming BIG TIME, that is IoT — he says. Some of his quotes shed light on what kind of perspective he is thinking of:

I truly believe Singularity [*] is coming and that computers will one day become smarter than mankind.

Every street light will be interconnected to the internet because we can save when car is not passing.

Automobile will all be connected so driverless car much safer.

All the things will be connected and what is biggest common denominator, that is Arm.

Technological singularity (Wikipedia): “is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence.[1][2] This would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate.[3]
For more information see the rest of the Wikipedia article.

And about the automobile opportunity alone he said:

I would say automobile is becoming smarter and smarter so when automobile becomes so smart it is required to have more and more chips integrated inside the car, especially when it becomes a driverless car. Automotive itself will become a super computer which consists of a bunch of multiple chips so ARM will be going into that market very aggressively.

More information along these lines see in the SoftBank CEO: the average person will have 1,000 internet-connected devices by 2040 article by Tech in Asia.

July 18, 2016: ARM CEO Simon Segars about SoftBank acquisition 

Official video released at https://www.acceleratingtech.com/ a site to explain the SoftBank acquisition of ARM, they claim:
– SoftBank’s £17 offer price gives ARM shareholders a 43% premium on Friday’s closing share price and a 41.1% premium on the all-time high share price
– Assurance to double ARM’s UK headcount in the next five years and increase headcount outside the UK
– Leaves ARM’s successful partnership business model, culture and brand unchanged
– Great endorsement of UK tech

July 18, 2016: Acquisition of ARM Holdings plc
Background and Rationale by SoftBank Group Corp.
(from Recommended Acquisition of ARM by SoftBank)

The acquisition of ARM by SBG will deliver the following benefits:

  • Support and accelerate ARM’s position as the global leader in intellectual property licensing and R&D outsourcing for semiconductor companies

SBG’s deep industry expertise and global network of relationships will accelerate adoption of ARM’s intellectual property across existing and new markets.

  • Maintain ARM’s dedication to innovation

SBG intends to sustain ARM’s long-term focus on generating more value per device, and driving licensing wins and future royalty streams in new growth categories, specifically “Enterprise and Embedded Intelligence.”

  • Increased investment to drive the next wave of innovation

SBG intends to support ARM’s multiple growth initiatives by investing in engineering talent and complementary acquisitions with the aim of ensuring ARM maintains a R&D edge over existing and emerging competitors. SBG believes such an investment strategy in long-term growth will be easier to execute as a non-listed company.

  • Shared culture and long-term vision

SBG believes the two companies share the same technology-oriented culture, long-term vision, focus on innovation and commitment to attracting, developing and retaining top talent. These common values will be the foundation for the strong strategic partnership necessary to capture the significant opportunities ahead.

  • Maintain and grow the UK’s leadership in science and technology

SBG is investing in the UK as a world leader in science and technology development and innovation and, as evidence of this, intends to invest in multiple ARM growth initiatives, at least doubling the number of ARM employees in the UK over the next five years.

July 18, 2016: Our Business Model (from Presentation material (English) (PDF) )

SoftBank Group Corp. Business Model -- 18 July 2016

Everything in violet color has been added by myself to the slide.

July 2015, from CEO Message:

Transformation into “SoftBank 2.0”

Thirty-four years have now passed since the foundation of SoftBank, and so far, our position has been one of SoftBank holding assets in overseas companies as a company in Japan. Now, however, we are going to the second stage of SoftBank—“SoftBank 2.0”—in which we will transform SoftBank into a truly global company that can ensure sustained business growth over the long term. We are now in a major transition period.

As the founder, I have set out to create a business model that can deliver continued business growth for centuries. However, many technology companies face the common challenge of a 30-year life cycle where growth is followed by decline. This decline stems from factors such as the increasing obsolescence of technologies and business models, and an over-reliance on founders.

What is the solution? Not only do we need to transform our existing businesses, we also need to have a comprehensive structure in place for supporting disruptive entrepreneurs and facilitating continued development with them.

… [the rest is to see at the place of original]

July 18, 2016Press Conference: ARM to be acquired by SoftBank

Japanese SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Masayoshi+Son), the richest person in Japan, speaks at the SoftBank Press Conference to announce the acquisition of ARM Holdings for $31.4 Billion, SoftBank promises to keep the same business model for ARM, to increase the employee count in the UK by 2x within the next 5 years, to increase ARM’s employee count around the world. You can read the official presentation materials here:
http://www.softbank.jp/corp/d/sbg_press_en/list/pdf/pressconference_01/material_en.pdf
[i.e. Presentation material (English) (PDF)]

July 2015, Major Subsidiaries

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Mobile Communications Segment

SoftBank Mobile Corp.*1                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices
BB Mobile Corp.                         100 Holding company
Ymobile Corporation*1*2                        99,7 Mobile broadband services, development and sale of communications devices, ADSL services, PHS-based mobile communications services
GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc.*3 40.2
[18.6]*
Production and distribution of online games for smartphones and other devices
Wireless City Planning Inc.                        33,3 Planning and provision of mobile broadband services
SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp.*5                         100 Manufacture, distribution, and sale of IT-related products, IT-related services
Brightstar Global Group Inc.                         100 Holding company
Brightstar Corp.                         100 Mobile device distribution, supply chain solutions, handset protection and insurance, buy-back and trade-in, omnichannel solutions and financial services
GRAVITY Co., Ltd.*6                        59,3 Planning, development, and operations of online games
Supercell Oy*7                        53,7 Production and distribution of mobile game applications

Sprint Segment

Sprint Corporation                        79,5 Holding company
Sprint Communications, Inc.                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices and accessories, fixed-line telecommunications services

Fixed-line Telecommunications Segment

SoftBank BB Corp.*1                         100 ADSL services, IP telephony services
SoftBank Telecom Corp.*1                         100 Fixed-line telephone services, data transmission and leased-line services

Internet Segment

Yahoo Japan Corporation                        43,0 Operation of the Yahoo ! JAPAN portal, sale of Internet advertising, operation of e-commerce sites, membership services
IDC Frontier Inc.                         100 Data center business
ValueCommerce Co., Ltd.                        50,6 Ad affiliate marketing service, StoreMatch online advertising distribution service

Others

Mobiletech Corporation                         100 Holding company
SB Energy Corp.                         100 Generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, supply and sale of electricity
SoftBank Payment Service Corp.                         100 Settlement services, card services and related services
Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS Corp.                         100 Ownership of professional baseball team, operation of baseball games, management and maintenance of baseball stadium and other sports facilities, distribution of video, voice and data content via media
SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp.                         100 Planning, development, and sale of robots
SBBM Corporation                         100 Holding company
ITmedia Inc.                        57,9 Operation of comprehensive IT information site ITmedia, etc.
SoftBank Technology Corp.                        55,4 Solutions and services for online businesses
Vector Inc.                        52,4 Operation, sales, and marketing of online games, software downloads, advertising
SFJ Capital Limited                         100 Procurement of funds by issuing preferred (restricted voting) securities
SB Group US, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SB CHINA HOLDINGS PTE LTD                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Ventures Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
Starburst I, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Holdings Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank America Inc.                         100 Holding company
STARFISH I PTE. LTD.                         100 Holding company
SB Pan Pacific Corporation                         100 Holding company
Hayate Corporation                         100 Holding company
*1   On April 1, 2015 SoftBank BB, SoftBank Telecom, and Ymobile, merged into SoftBank Mobile.  On July 1, 2015, SoftBank Mobile changed its company name to SoftBank Corp.
*2   eAccess merged with WILLCOM on June 1, 2014 and changed its company name to Ymobile on July 1, 2014.
*3   As a result of the completion of a tender offer by GungHo for its shares on June 1, 2015, and other factors, GungHo became an equity method associate of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).  Please refer to page 190 for details.
*4   Holdings by parties in close relationships, etc., with SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.)
*5   SoftBank BB Corp., divided its commerce and service business and newly established SoftBank C&S on April 1, 2014.  All shares of SoftBank C&S held by SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.) were transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary of Brightstar.
*6   Since GRAVITY Co., Ltd.’s parent company GungHo is an equity method associate, as noted in *3, as of the publication of this annual report, GRAVITY is not a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).
*7   The Company purchased additional shares of Supercell from existing shareholders on May 29, 2015.  After this transaction, the Company’s share of voting rights stands at 77.8%.

July 2015, Major Associates

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Internet Segment

ASKUL Corporation                    41,9 Mail order sales of stationary, office products, services, etc.
The Japan Net Bank, Limited                    41,2 Banking business
BOOKOFF CORPORATION LIMITED                    15,0 Auction service and reuse business

Others

Scigineer Inc.                    33,2 Provision of Internet marketing support services using the personalized engine “deqwas” for e-commerce business operators and retailers
Bharti SoftBank Holdings Pte. Ltd.                    50,0 Holding company
Renren Inc.                    43,0 Investor company of company operating Renren.com SNS site in China
Alibaba Group Holding Limited                    31,9 Investor company of companies operating e-commerce sites Alibaba.com, Taobao. com, and Tmall.com
InMobi Pte. Ltd.                    35,2 Mobile advertising services

Main Overseas Fund Data

Fund Name
Subsidiaries
SoftBank Ranger Venture Investment Partnership
SoftBank Capital Fund ’10 L.P.
Associates
SoftBank US Ventures VI L.P.
SoftBank Capital Technology Fund III L.P.

 

The Nokia phone business is to be relaunched via a $500M private startup with Android smartphones and tablets in addition to the feature phones for which manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired from Microsoft by a subsidiary of Foxconn

May 18, 2016: Microsoft selling feature phone business to FIH Mobile Ltd. and HMD Global, Oy

REDMOND, Wash. — May 18, 2016 — Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced it reached an agreement to sell the company’s entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile Ltd., a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group, and HMD Global, Oy for $350 million. As part of the deal, FIH Mobile Ltd. will also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnamthe company’s Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility. Upon close of this deal, approximately 4,500 employees will transfer to, or have the opportunity to join, FIH Mobile Ltd. or HMD Global, Oy, subject to compliance with local law.

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will transfer substantially all of its feature phone assets, including brands, software and services, care network and other assets, customer contracts, and critical supply agreements, subject to compliance with local law. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2016, subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For FY16 Q3:

  • Surface revenue increased 61% [to $1.111] in constant currency driven by Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book
  • Phone revenue declined 46% in constant currency

Now under Nokia Technologies (TECH) the relaunched Nokia phone and tablet business will also exploit such TECH innovations as the recent Nokia OZO: a better way to capture VR

May 18, 2016: Nokia signs strategic brand and intellectual property licensing agreement enabling HMD global to create new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets

Nokia signs strategic brand and intellectual property licensing agreement enabling HMD global to create new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets

Espoo, Finland – Nokia has announced plans that will see the Nokia brand return to the mobile phone and tablet markets on a global basis. Under a strategic agreement covering branding rights and intellectual property licensing, Nokia Technologies will grant HMD global Oy (HMD), a newly founded company based in Finland, an exclusive global license [1] to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next ten years. Under the agreement, Nokia Technologies will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of Nokia-branded mobile products, covering both brand and intellectual property rights.

HMD has been founded to provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones and tablets. To complete its portfolio of Nokia branding rights, HMD announced today that it has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia brand on feature phones, and certain related design rights. The Microsoft transaction is expected to close in H2 2016. Together these agreements would make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. HMD intends to invest over USD 500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business.

Nokia-branded feature phones remain one of the most popular choices of mobile phone in many markets around the world today, and HMD will continue to market them as part of an integrated portfolio alongside a new range of smartphones and tablets. HMD’s new smartphone and tablet portfolio will be based on Android, uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.

As also announced today by FIH Mobile Limited (FIH), a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industries (trading as Foxconn Technology Group), the remainder of Microsoft’s feature phone business assets, including manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired by FIH. HMD and Nokia Technologies have signed an agreement with FIH to establish a collaboration framework to support the building of a global business for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. This agreement will give HMD full operational control of sales, marketing and distribution of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, with exclusive access to the pre-eminent global sales and distribution network to be acquired from Microsoft by FIH, access to FIH’s world-leading device manufacturing, supply chain and engineering capabilities, and to its growing suite of proprietary mobile technologies and components.

Nokia will provide HMD with branding rights and cellular standard essential patent licenses in return for royalty payments, but will not be making a financial investment or holding equity in HMD.  Nokia Technologies will take a seat on the Board of Directors of HMD and set mandatory brand requirements and performance related provisions to ensure that all Nokia-branded products exemplify consumer expectations of Nokia devices, including quality, design and consumer focused innovation.

HMD would be led, once the Microsoft transaction closes, by Arto Nummela as CEO, who previously held senior positions at Nokia and is currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa, as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business. HMD’s president on closing would be Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.

Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies, said:
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Nokia brand in an industry where Nokia remains a truly iconic name. Instead of Nokia returning to manufacturing mobile phones itself, HMD plans to produce mobile phones and tablets that can leverage and grow the value of the Nokia brand in global markets. Working with HMD and FIH will let us participate in one of the largest consumer electronics markets in the world while staying true to our licensing business model.”

Arto Nummela, CEO-designate of HMD, said:
“We will be completely focused on creating a unified range of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, which we know will resonate with consumers. Branding has become a critical differentiator in mobile phones, which is why our business model is centered on the unique asset of the Nokia brand and our extensive experience in sales and marketing. We will work with world class providers in manufacturing and distribution to move quickly and deliver what customers want.”

Vincent Tong, Chairman of FIH, added:
“We are looking forward to fostering a strong and long-term collaboration with HMD global and Nokia. We are impressed by the experience and expertise of the HMD management team and are committed to supporting them with our manufacturing, technology and supply chain capabilities, to capture market opportunities together in the future.”

1 Excluding Japan

About Nokia Technologies
Nokia Technologies (TECH) is Nokia’s advanced technology and licensing business. Formed in 2014, TECH builds upon Nokia’s solid foundation of industry-leading licensing and technology R&D capabilities. By focusing on Digital Health, Digital Media, Brand Licensing, and Patent Licensing, TECH is expanding the human possibilities of the ever-evolving world of technology. In 2015, Nokia Technologies launched OZO, the world’s first virtual reality (VR) camera designed for professionals.

About Nokia
Nokia is a global leader in the technologies that connect people and things. Powered by the innovation of Bell Labs and Nokia Technologies, the company is at the forefront of creating and licensing the technologies that are increasingly at the heart of our connected lives.

With state-of-the-art software, hardware and services for any type of network, Nokia is uniquely positioned to help communication service providers, governments, and large enterprises deliver on the promise of 5G, the Cloud and the Internet of Things.http://nokia.com

About HMD global
Registered and headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, HMD is a new private venture founded to create a new generation of Nokia-branded mobile devices. HMD is run by a group of experienced industry leaders, including CEO Arto Nummela, previously of Nokia and currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business, and President Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.
www.hmdglobal.com

The answer to the question you’ve all been asking, Nokia

We are proud to announce that the Nokia brand will be returning to the worldwide mobile phone and tablet market.

Every day our fans continue to ask for Nokia smartphones. In fact, in a recent survey, we found that Nokia smartphones are amongst the top five considered brands for purchase by smartphone buyers – and they aren’t even available yet.

So, under a new agreement, Nokia Technologies has granted HMD, a new company led by some of the world’s top mobile specialists, an exclusive global license to create a full range of Nokia-branded smartphones, tablets, and feature phones for the next decade.

The new smartphones and tablets will be based on Android, uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands, Nokia, with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.

There is still much work for HMD to do, so you’ll need to wait a bit longer to see what the next wave of Nokia phones and tablets look like. One thing we can assure you is that they will exemplify what you have come to expect from all Nokia devices, including quality, design, and innovation.

A big thanks to you and all of the Nokia supporters around the world. You continue to remind us of the difference our devices have made in your lives. We can’t wait for you to meet the next generation.

HMD Global Team:

arto-nummela[1]Arto Nummela is currently the Vice President of Mobile Devices Business of Microsoft in Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa region.

Subject to regulatory approval and the closing of the Microsoft feature phone transaction to the new company, Arto will become CEO of HMD global, the holding company & exclusive licence holder of Nokia phones.

As an experienced figure in the telecoms industry, Arto has a proven track record in commercial success, building long-term partnerships to enable global business innovation and growth. An intrinsic part of this process – is establishing and motivating strong teams around him – as well as being committed to continued personal growth.

Arto has deep roots in Finland, but has a genuinely global perspective built through experience. His insights into consumer business have been deepened by leading diverse teams from Europe, the Americas, India, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, China and Japan.

Having been an intrinsic part of the original Nokia team, Arto’s list of accomplishments include; open-distribution model development, strategic alliances, joint ventures and partnerships, market-based pricing strategies, global R&D management – specifically for high end smartphone devices, ramping up new global phone architecture work, as well as ramping up product portfolio for new cellular technology generation, alongside a very strong focus on employee loyalty and retention. Arto has led teams in strategic and tactical global product planning, developing and launching new products, as well as brand development and broader market expansion. From 2011 to 2013, Arto also served as a member of the board of directors for CommNexus, a California-based tech incubator, built for start-ups.

Since 2015, Arto has been driving the Microsoft Devices business in Greater Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with global leadership of the Feature Phones business. He joined Nokia in 1994, leading through Microsoft’s 2014 acquisition of the company.

florian-seiche[1]Florian Seiche is a recognised name in the telecoms industry, having been one of the key figures behind the launch and subsequent growth of the HTC brand. He has since gone on to develop and drive the mobile divisions at Nokia and most recently at Microsoft, in the role of VP of Sales across Europe.

Subject to regulatory approval and the closing of the Microsoft feature phone transaction to the new company, Florian will become President of HMD global, the holding company & exclusive licence holder of Nokia phones.

Well known for his lynchpin role as President of HTC EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), Florian not only established HTC’s EMEA operations in 2005, he went on to oversee the growth of HTC’s business and brand to become one of the most critically acclaimed phone names in the world.

His big brand global experience is far reaching. Prior to joining HTC, Florian was the Global Director of Devices for the Orange Group in London (2003-2005). Under his leadership, Orange successfully rolled out its ‘signature device’ program, which contributed considerably to increased phone usage and ARPU, while at the same time increasing customer loyalty by delivering a compelling user experience.

Florian began his career at Siemens, where he worked for more than ten years. Between January 2000 and February 2003, Florian served as Vice President and General Manager of Siemens Mobile Phones USA in San Diego, leading Siemens’ mobile phone entry into North America.

Having worked extensively across both sales and marketing, Florian boasts an intimate understanding of both consumer trends and demands, as well as the requirements of the key stakeholders in the telecoms supply chain.

Florian holds both Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Economics from the University of Cologne, Germany. He lives in Windsor, UK with his wife Michele and son Jan-Philipp.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Android M) and its route to OEMs such as Xiaomi

Sept 29, 2015Android 6.0 Marshmallow – Official Announcement of all features (Nexus Event 2015) – GIGA TECH in 8 minutes 

Oct 6, 2015: The Top 3 new features highlighted for the Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the android.com/history

Now On Tap

Get assistance without having to leave what you’re doing—whether you’re in an app or on a website. Just tap and hold the home button.

Permissions

Define what you want to share with apps on your device and when. Turn permissions off at any time, too.

Battery

Enjoy a battery that works smarter, not garder. Marshmallow optimizes your juice for what matters most with features like Doze and App Standby.

Sept 29, 2015: All Features of Android 6.0 Marshmallow from the official Android – Marshmallow page

All about Android 6.0, Marshmallow

  • Contextual Assistance
    • Now on Tap: get assistance without having to leave what you’re doing—whether you’re in an app or on a website. Just touch and hold the home button.
    • Do more with your voice. Now you can have a dialogue with any of your apps that support the new voice interaction service. For example, if a user says “play some music on TuneIn,” TuneIn will respond by asking “What genre?”.
    • Direct Share: a fast and easy way to share to the right person in the right app.
  • Battery
    • Doze: when your device is at rest, Doze automatically puts it into a sleep state to increase your standby battery life.
    • App Standby: no more battery drain from seldom used apps; App Standby limits their impact on battery life so your charge lasts longer.
    • USB Type C support*: Quickly transfer power and data all through the same cable. Lightning fast charging gives you hours of power in just minutes.
  • Privacy & Security
    • On an Android Marshmallow device, apps designed for Android Marshmallow only ask for permission right when it’s needed. You can deny any permission and still continue to use the app.
    • Advanced controls to turn permissions on or off for all your installed apps.
    • Verified boot: when your Android device boots up, it will warn you if the firmware and Android operating system have been modified from the factory version.
    • Use fingerprint sensors* to unlock your device, make purchases in Google Play, authenticate transactions in apps, and pay in stores.
  • Android Runtime (“ART”)
    • Improved application performance and lower memory overhead for faster multi-tasking.
  • Productivity
    • Bluetooth stylus support*, including pressure sensitivity and modifier keys.
    • Improved typesetting and text rendering performance.
    • Smarter text selection, built-in undo/redo, and text actions closer to your fingers.
    • Text selection actions such as a new Translate option that lets you translate text from one language to another right on the spot. (Note: requires Google Translate app installed)
    • Save paper with duplex printing support.
  • System usability improvements
    • App links: enables installed apps to automatically handle their web URLs so you can jump right into the app, rather than the mobile web site, as appropriate.
    • Easily toggle and configure Do Not Disturb from quick settings.
    • If someone calls you twice within 15 minutes, you can choose to allow the call to ring through while Do Not Disturb is enabled.
    • Use automatic rules to enable Do Not Disturb for as many custom time blocks as you like or around events on your calendar.
    • Simplified volume controls allow you to manage notification, music, and alarm volumes easily from anywhere with the touch of your volume keys.
    • Streamlined Settings let you manage an app’s settings all in one place, from battery and memory usage, to notifications and permissions controls.
    • Google Now Launcher app list refreshed with search, fast alphabetic scrolling, and predictive App Suggestions.
  • Connectivity
    • More power efficient Bluetooth Low Energy (“BLE”) scanning for nearby beacons and your accessories.
    • Hotspot 2.0: Connect to compatible Wi-Fi networks seamlessly and securely.
    • Bluetooth SAP: Make calls from your carphone using your phone’s SIM.
    • Portable Wi-Fi hotspot now supports 5GHz frequency bands.
  • Expandable storage
    • Flex Storage: makes using SD cards or external storage devices as encrypted expanded storage for your apps and games on Android Marshmallow a whole lot easier.
  • Device setup and migration
    • Easily transfer your accounts, apps and data to a new device.
    • During setup, you can add an additional personal or corporate email account (e.g., IMAP)
    • Auto backup for Apps: seamless app data backup and restore.
    • Backup/restore of additional system settings such as your Sync settings, preferred apps, Do Not Disturb settings, Accessibility settings and enabled IMEs.
  • Media
    • MIDI support: create, consume, and perform music using your Android device with USB MIDI devices, MIDI over BLE, and software-based MIDI devices.
  • Internationalization
    • Android is now available in 74+ languages with 6 new additions: Azerbaijani, Gujarati, Kazakh, Albanian, Urdu, and Uzbek.
  • Android for Work
    • When receiving calls or viewing past messages, you can now see the full work contact details even if you’re not logged into your work profile.
    • Work status notification: A status bar briefcase icon now appears when you’re using an app from the work profile and if the device is unlocked directly to an app in the work profile, an alert is displayed notifying the user.
    • VPN apps are now visible in Settings > More > VPN. Additionally, the notifications that VPNs use are now specific to whether that VPN is configured for a work profile or the entire device.

Sept 29, 2015: A developer’s overview of Android 6.0 Marshmallow by Android Developers 

Sept 29, 2015: Android 6.0 Marshmallow based lead devices information from S’more to love across all your screens from the Official Google Blog

New Nexus phones
We made Android to be an open platform that anyone can build on, and today there are 4,000+ Android devices in all shapes and sizes. Android’s diversity is why it’s become the most popular mobile platform in the world, and the latest version, Marshmallow, takes Android to a new level of performance.

While we love all the Android devices out there, every year we build Nexus devices to show off the latest and greatest, directly from the people who built Android. Today we’re introducing the latest Nexus treats, both running Marshmallow, sweetened by amazing apps and sandwiched by some cutting-edge hardware (see what we did there?):

  • Nexus 6P is the first all-metal-body Nexus phone. Built in collaboration with Huawei, this 5.7” phone is crafted from aeronautical-grade aluminum, with a USB Type-C port for fast charging, a powerful 64-bit processor, and a 12.3 MP camera sensor with massive 1.55µm pixels (hello, better photos!). The Nexus 6P starts at $499.
  • You’re not the only one who misses your Nexus 5. We’ve joined forces with LG to bring it back with the new Nexus 5X, which gives you great performance in a compact and light package, with a beautiful 5.2” screen and the same 12.3 MP camera and Type-C port as the Nexus 6P. Nexus 5X starts at $379.

Both phones include a new fingerprint sensor, Nexus Imprint, which gives you quick and secure access to your phone, as well as use of Android Pay (in the U.S.). They are available for pre-order on the Google Store from a number of countries, including the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Japan, and come with a free 90-day subscription to Google Play Music. In the U.S., pre-orders include a $50 Play credit to help you stock up your favorite music, apps, games and shows. And, finally, for you Project Fi fans out there, you’ll be happy to know Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X will work on your favorite network. Request an invite to our Early Access Program at fi.google.comAN_BH_Groupshot_JH-150908+_Alt_Crop[1]

Oct 5, 2015Official Android 6.0 Marshmallow Review by Tim Schofield 

Oct 15, 2015: Answer to the question “Will Xiaomi finally step to the conventional way of upgrading to Android?” put to Hugo Barra in Hangout with Mi – Episode 2 from Xiaomi India 


The official release of Android M has just happened. That means that people like us only now have been given what they need to be able to start the porting process. Of course Google has been working with M for the new Nexus devices for a while. That’s exactly the reason why Nexus exists. So we’ve just started the porting work, and it takes some time to make sure that it all super well optimised.

By the way I should mention, if you look a little bit about the process for doing an upgrade. It’s not like just get some code from Google, like start moving into our code base. Actually it’s at least a two-step process. In fact I would argue that it’s a three-step process.

The first thing to happen is: Whoever makes the chipset, the SoC that powers that particular phone. Maybe let’s talk about Mi4i. Mi4i is on Qualcomm MSM8939, Snapdragon 615 v2 [rather Snapdragon 616 MSM8939v2, see Snapdragon 616 on Qualcomm site], it means it’s powered by Qualcomm. So Google Android team provides the build to Qualcomm. Qualcomm—beginning of now, just like happened—then will take a few months to do the work of making sure that the kernel level stuff is optimised, and correctly able to support then the layers above, the BSP [?Board Support Package?] framework, the so one and so forth.

Then Qualcomm takes that codebase, let’s assume it will be ready in January—to give you a hypothetical date here—and then provide that to the different smartphone brands like Xiaomi for example. Then our BSP team, which stands for basement processor—it’s the low level part of the operating system that includes everything under the framework—they will take that codebase from Qualcomm and then putting the extra work [needed to ensure] that it’s very optimised for battery consumption, for performance, so on and so forth, for Mi4i. They have to do the same work for every other device.

Then the System UI team—concerning that most OEMs have done some amount of System UI work—has to do a little bit of work of optimisation obviously to make sure that all the features are there.

At least these 3 steps that have to be taken by not only Xiomi, but every OEM to be able to bring devices to a new version of the operating system. Make sure that it’s optimised. It’ll be unacceptable for us to launch Android M on Mi4i in a way that doesn’t perform at least as well, if not obviously, ideally better, then it performed on [Android 5.0] Lollipop. So it’s like quite a long process.

Smartphone market outlook and the MediaTek Helio X10 based Xiaomi Redmi Note 2/Prime launched for $125, $140 and $156

Let’s start with an extremely good presentation video by Mrwhosetheboss:

And an actual experience video from Chinese sources (finished by comparing to iPhone 6):

Aug 16, 2015, Xiaomi Today: Xiaomi sold 800,000 Redmi Note 2 phones in 12 hours

Note that Xiaomi has already been the top Chinese company tracked here:
Dec 12, 2012UPDATE Aug’13: Xiaomi $130 Hongmi superphone END MediaTek MT6589 quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC with HSPA+ and TD-SCDMA is available for Android smartphones and tablets of Q1 delivery
Aug 1, 2013Xiaomi, OPPO and Meizu–top Chinese brands of smartphone innovation
Aug 30, 2013Assesment of the Xiaomi phenomenon before the global storm is starting on Sept 5
Sept 5, 2013Xiaomi announcements: from Mi3 to Xiaomi TV
June 12, 2014Xiaomi’s global offensive with Hugo Barra in charge is threatening Apple—with 10.4 million smartphones sold in China it had already outsold Apple in Q1’14, having “just” 9 million iPhones sold there from which we must at least understand the market situation in China upto  Q1 2014 as the reference for the Xiaomi’s progress presented here:

With the Q3 2015 Redmi Note 2/Prime advancement Xiaomi will kill the much hoped (by some stock market analysts) incremental opportunities for the $199 Apple iPhone 6 and $299 iPhone 6 Plus in China and throughout the world. And recall that those were announced 11 months ago as “The Biggest Advancements in iPhone History

China smartphone market Q2 2015 by IHS Technology -- 23-July-2015

This report is similar to later Canalys findings: Xiaomi 15.9%, Huawei 15.7%, and Apple #3. But for the rest: #4 Samsung, #5 vivo. Globally Xiaomi became the #2 Chinese smartphone brand in Q2 2015 according to TrendForce with 5.9% market share, the #1 Huawei having 7.6%, but first time surpassing Lenovo, as well as continuing to distance itself from TCL (Alcatel) and OPPO. Similar to data from Counterpoint Research. See Chinese OEMs Rule. Considering Huawei’s aggressive push since 2011, when Xiaomi devices started in China, Xiaomi’s global achievement is a very remarkable feat.  

Why? Because being in the smartphone device business for just 4 years Xiaomi has already been on or around the top in China for the last 12 months, as well as has launched an impressive global march.

That global sales campaign has been going on in Asia, Russia and Turkey so far, but it is now expanding to Latin America with new model launching in Brazil [CCTV America YouTube channel, July 14, 2015]: “The world’s third largest smartphone maker is taking a different approach in its plans for global domination. Instead of looking to expand in the obvious markets like the U.S. and Europe, Xiaomi is looking to South America. CCTV’s Paulo Cabral filed this report from Sao Paulo.”

And it is not difficult to foresee a huge global success for the company as in India Xiaomi became “the 5th biggest seller of phones in the country, a feat accomplished in only 8 months“: Smartphone company Xiaomi expanding to India and beyond [CCTV America YouTube channel, March 20, 2015]
And now 
China’s Xiaomi Begins Making Smartphones in India [Voice of America, Aug 14, 2015]: “Xiaomi’s Redmi2 Prime smartphone [NOT the Note 2 one], priced at about $110, began rolling out from a factory in Sri City in southern Andhra Pradesh state this week. … entered the Indian market just a year ago, but since then price conscious consumers have snapped up 3 million phones.

Also this all happened after “The Chinese smartphone maker, Xiaomi, held a second flash sale of its new 4.7″ Redmi 1S [at $110/699 RMB almost of the same price level as this year’s $125/799 RMB Redmi Note 2on Tuesday [Sept 9, 2014], after selling out in just four seconds a week ago.“: Chinese smartphone Xiaomi competes with Apple [CCTV America YouTube channel, Sept 9, 2014]

from which I will include the following Q2 CY2014 market share slide for China here:
Xiaomi - Q2 CY2014 smartphone market share for China by Canalys -- 9-Sept-2014
as this position of being “on the top or around it” has been kept by Xiaomi ever since. 

Then we should not forget what only 8 months ago was introduced as Xiaomi launches MiNote, a new iPhone competitor [CCTV America YouTube channel, Jan 15, 2015]: “The tech world is abuzz about Chinese tech company Xiaomi’s bid to compete with Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun unveiled the MiNote and MiNote Pro [at $313/1999 RMB and $391/2499 RMB a kind of twice as expensive predecessors to the new Redmi Note 2/Prime] on Thursday, both are cheaper than similar iPhone models. CCTV’s Xia Cheng reported this story from Beijing.

Finally we should look at the new specification comparisons by GSMinsider: Xiaomi - Redmi Note 2 vs iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus – Specs Comparison -- 14-Aug-2015

With that Xiaomi will kill Samsung high-end opportunities as well.

Let’s look first at the quite drastic decline of the Samsung smartphone business for the last year and a half (data from Strategy Analytics as it’s been represented in the Apple and Huawei move on Samsung article of July 30, 2015 from Telecom.com, with the vendor rankings in the table according to the latest quarter, i.e. Q2 2015): Strategy Analytics - Global Smartphone Share -- Q1 2014 - Q2 2015
Note that Coolpad (Yulong) and ZTE are also globally represented Chinese brands, not mentioned so far in this article.

Which unit-wise looks like as follows (in millions):Strategy Analytics - Global Smartphone Shipments -- Q1 2014 - Q2 2015

Then I can again refer to Samsung-related high-end specification comparisons produced by GSMinsider: Xiaomi - Redmi Note 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – Specs Comparison -- 14-Aug-2015
And don’t be fooled with the Qualcomm Snadragon 805 and 801 SoCs used by Samsung in these 2014 vintage devices as Samsung itself abandoned Qualcomm as an SoC supplier for its 2015 devices:Xiaomi - Redmi Note 2 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – Specs Comparison -- 14-Aug-2015

CINNO Research - Q1 2015 China Smartphone Rear Camera Pixel Share -- 12-April-2015Note: Such Samsung move of abandoning the Qualcomm Snadragon 805 and 801 SoCs in its latest high-end products is not an accident but a hard-pressed necessity. The octa-core Qualcomm Snadragon 810 replacing the 805/801 had serious thermal throttling problems, and the Chinese brands were starting to use other octa-cores, among them the quite competitive MediaTek Helio X10. See the following Q1 2015 technology landscape presentation composed of the graphical views from the April 12 and April 24 reports by CINNO Research (in addition to the camera related view on the right):CINNO Research - Q1 2015 China Smartphone Display and CPU Technologies -- 12-24-April-2015

And software-wise Xaomi is already 5 years in the smartphone business with a lot of quite enthusiastic supporters for its Android based Mi User Interface throughout the world. The MIUI 5th Anniversary: Greetings From MIUI Fans From All Over The World testimonial video from the MIUI ROM YouTube channel dated August 12, 2015 is stating that: “MIUI is one of the most popular Android ROMs in the world. It is based on Android, featuring a rich user experience and user customizable themes. MIUI is updated every Friday based on feedback from its users. Now with over 100 million users and 34 MIUI fan sites worldwide, MIUI is the choice of many Android users globally.

What kind of “much hoped incremental opportunities (by some stock market analysts) for Apple” I was talking about?

From India Will Overtake US to Become World’s Second Largest Smartphone Market by 2017 [July 1, 2015] by Strategy Analytics the following chart has been produced for Dazeinfo’s Global Smartphone Sales 2015 – 2017: India Will Surpass The US [July 1, 2015] report: Strategy Analytics - Dazinfo - Global Smartphone Sales Forecast 2015 - 2017 -- 1-July-2015That chart has been used by  in his Why Apple’s Growth-Related Fears Are Overblown [Aug 12, 2015] article on Seeking Alpha for its final argument that:

the market sees China as imperative to Apple’s future growth outlook and while true at the moment, there’s a catalyst forming that should lessen the company’s reliance on China and lead to many millions of new iPhone sales.

China is not that “forming catalyst” that I mentioned earlier. Instead, Apple has a prime opportunity to grow in India over the next year or two, a market that’s growing rapidly with middle class consumers and is the world’s second largest economy by population behind only China.


… with India’s help, which includes the growth in middle class consumers through 2020, India might very well one day become just as important as China to Apple.

Before coming to such final argument Nichols is talking about the current market situation in China via a chart from Above Avalon’s China Mobile Is a Game Changer for Apple [April 29, 2015] research note and with the following comments around that:

Above Avalon - Total Customers for Largest Chinese and U.S. Mobile Carriers -- 28-April-2015

I expect Apple to find additional growth in China next year, regardless of what has transpired from a macro perspective over the last few months. The reason is simple: Improved network coverage. Fact of the matter is that most Chinese consumers are still using 2G or 3G networks, which are hardly compatible with the iPhone 6. At the end of the first quarter, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) had 153 million 4G customers, up from 90 million in December of 2014 and just 1.3 million in February of 2014. However, China Mobile had 815 million total customers. So that means the majority of its subscribers are still on 2G or 3G networks. Given the rate at which China Mobile has added 4G customers during the last 16 months, investors can rest assured that its network and 4G customers will be far larger by this time next year. Notably, most of those 4G customers will need smartphones, and Apple has quickly become the most popular choice in China.

As for China’s second and third largest wireless carriers, China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA), they have nearly 500 million customers collectively. And believe it or not, China Unicom and China Telecom’s 4G network is even more underdeveloped than China Mobile’s network. However, both China Unicom and China Telecom are working just as fast to build their respective 4G networks. Once more, this increases Apple’s market opportunity in China, and is the key reason why I think Apple’s growth in China will continue through next year, probably at a very high double-digit rate.

So these are the speculations which IMHO do not take into account the new product waves from major Apple and Samsung competitors, especially Xiaomi.

Xiaomi’s new 5.5″  Redmi Note 2 launched in China just this week for $125/799 RMB (16GB version supporting TDD-LTE for a China specific 4G version of LTE as well as TD-SCDMA, the China specific 3.5G — targeted at China Mobile subscribers) and $140/899 RMB (16GB version supporting both TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE, i.e. both 4G versions — for the subscribers of any mobile operators, and especially of China Unicom and China Telecom) is the actual case in this regard. Watch the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime first look miui 7 pre-order video direct from the launch (the QR code at the start and the end has been positioned out of my embedded view): 

Announced: August 13 2015
Network Technology:
GSM / HSPA / LTE
Expected release:
August 16, 2015
Body Dimensions:
152 x 76 x 8.3 mm
Weight: 160 g
SIM: Dual SIM
Display
Type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size: 5.5 inches (~72.2% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch: Yes
MIUI 7.0
Platform OS: Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)
Chipset: Mediatek MT6795
CPU:
– Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
– Octa-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53
GPU: PowerVR G6200
Memory Card slot: No
Internal Memory:
– 16 GB, 2 GB RAM – 2 GHz model
– 32 GB, 2 GB RAM – 2.2 GHz model
Camera:
Primary: 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, phase detection autofocus, LED flash
Features: Geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, HDR, panorama
Video: 1080p@30fps
Secondary: 5 MP, 720p
Sound Alert Types:
Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker: Yes
3.5mm jack: Yes
Comms:
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth: v4.0, A2DP, LE
GPS: Yes,
with A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou
Infrared port: Yes
Radio: FM radio
USB: microUSB v2.0
Features Sensors:
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging:
SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
Browser: HTML5
Java: No
– Fast battery charging: 60% in 30 min (Quick Charge 2.0)
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP4/H.264 player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player
– Photo/video editor
– Document viewer
Battery: Li-Po 3060 mAh battery
Stand-by: Up to 144 h (3G)
Talk time: Up to 11 h 30 min (3G)
Music play: Up to 46 h
Misc Colors:
White, blue, yellow, pink, mint green

The 2.2 GHz Redmi Note 2 Prime version with 32GB storage and support of  TDD-LTE + FDD-LTE will sell at $156 (999 RMB).

More information:
Aug 13, 2015All About Redmi Note 2/Prime: Specifications, Price, Hands-on Pictures! review by Xiaomi MIUI Official Forum
– Aug 13, 2015Xiaomi New Product Launch: MIUI 7(China), Redmi Note 2(Prime), Mi Wi-Fi nano full launch information (not only the Redmi Note 2/Prime)  by Xiaomi MIUI Official Forum, from which the major Redmi Note 2 and 2 Pro Android competition (Huawei P8 and P8max with Hisilicon Kirin 930 and 935 SoCs, and Meizu MX5 (with the same MediaTek Helio X10 @2.2 GHz) on the Chinese market is described as:
Redmi Note 2 and 2 Pro Android competition on the Chinese market -- 13-Aug-2015
Note: regarding the benchmarked performance of each SoC I will recommend the results made available in the Exynos 7420 vs Snapdragon 810 vs MediaTek Helio X10 Turbo MT6795T vs Hisilicon Kirin 935: Benchmark Scores [July 3, 2015] GSMinsider article
For a much broader competitive comparison I will recommend the Redmi Note 2’s comparisons by GSMinsider  which currently contains comparisons (spec-wise):

vs Asus Zenfone 2 vs Asus Zenfone Zoom
vs HTC One M9 vs HTC One M9+
vs Huawei Honor 7 vs Huawei Honor 6 Plus
vs Huawei Ascend Mate 7 vs Huawei Honor 6 Plus
vs Huawei P8 vs Huawei P8 Max
vs iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus
vs Lenovo Vibe Shot vs Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
vs Lenovo ZUK Z1
vs LG G Flex 2
vs LG G4 vs LG G3
vs Meizu M2 Note vs Meizu M1 Note
vs Meizu MX5 vs Meizu MX4 Pro
vs Motorola Moto X Style vs Moto X Play
vs Nexus 6 vs Motorola Moto Maxx
vs OnePlus 2 vs OnePlus One
vs Oppo Find 7 vs Oppo Find 7A
vs Oppo N3
vs Redmi Note
vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
vs Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
vs Vivo X5 Pro vs Vivo X5 Max
vs Xiaomi Mi Note vs Xiaomi Mi Note Pro
vs Xiaomi Mi4
vs ZTE Axon Pro vs ZTE Axon Lux
vs ZTE Nubia Z9 Max vs Nubia Z9 Mini
vs ZTE Nubia Z9

Aug 13, 2015Additional videos from XiaomiHK YouTube channel:

Xiaomi – MIUI Introduction (with English subtitles)

Xiaomi – MIUI V7 Endurance

i.e. MIU 7 on [Xiaomi’s] Mi 4, Huawei Honor 6, Meizu MX4 and Samsung Galaxy S5

Xiaomi – MIUI V7 Performance

Xiaomi – RedmiNote2″>Xiaomi – RedmiNote2

Xiaomi – RedmiNote2 Camera

Important videos available on the Bloomberg Business website only, with 3 most important videos added to them from the CCTV America YouTube channel:

June 5, 2014: Here’s Why Hugo Barra Left Google to Be Xiaomi VP: Xiaomi Early Investor Robin Chan discusses Xiaomi’s hiring of Google’s Hugo Barra on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” Former Xiaomi Board Member Hans Tung also speaks.

July 17, 2015Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra: Studio 1.0 (Full Show 7/16): This week on Studio 1.0: Emily Chang sits down with Hugo Barra, vice president of global operations at Xiaomi. (Source: Bloomberg) 21 minutes from which I will include here the only slide displayed Xiaomi - Global ambition -- 17-July-2015

Plus a lot of other unique information is available in that interview: like the 2015 vintage business model of Xiaomi (investments into non-platform startups to build business partnerships, a whole ecosystem around Xiaomi etc.).

I will add to that the product shown in the Bloomberg interview as an example of such ecosystem generation. This has been documented in Xiaomi launches $13 fitness band [CCTV America YouTube channel, Aug 18, 2014] as: “Chinese Smartphone maker Xiao-mi has started selling an interactive wristband called the Mi Band. The device can measure one’s heart rate and monitor sleep patterns. It’s not the first such device to hit the market, but so far, it’s the cheapest.

I will also add the Xiaomi Buying Spree Gives Apple, Samsung Reason to Worry [Bloomberg Business YouTube channel, Jan 8, 2015] video stating that: “Xiaomi zoomed past Apple Inc. and Samsung in China smartphone sales just three years after releasing its first model. Founder Lei Jun is now on a buying spree to take that momentum beyond handsets. Bloomberg’s Edmond Lococo has more on “On The Move Asia.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Then remember the already known facts mentioned in the second video on the Bloomberg website like: “Xiaomi is not Apple“, “Xiami is an Internet company” (“an Internet platform and services brand” heard in another interview), “services are inherent part of Xiaomi“, “Xiaomi is one of the biggest e-commerce sites in China“, “the Xiaomi platform products are enhanced in functionality on requests from its users by around 50%” etc.

As the latest proof-point of such an Internet platform and service strategy of the company watch the Chinese mobile co. Xiaomi launches wallet app [CCTV America YouTube channel, March 26, 2015] video:

Other videos from Bloomberg Business YouTube channel:

Jan 15, 2015Xiaomi’s Rapid Rise to $45B Valuation Topping Uber: Xiaomi is Apple and Samsung’s rapidly growing threat. Now the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, Xiaomi is releasing its next phone on Thursday at an event in Beijing. Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson looks at how just fast this company is growing. (Source: Bloomberg)

June 5, 2014Meet the Billionaire ‘Steve Jobs of China’ Lei Jun:  Xiaomi co-founder and chief executive officer Lei Jun is known as the Steve Jobs of China, complete with a wardrobe of black shirts and a cult following. But what did he do before starting Xiaomi, and how has his personality helped drive Xiaomi’s success? Bloomberg West’s Emily Chang gives us an overview of this rock star CEO.

Jan 5, 2015Xiaomi Doubles Revenue to $12B as Phone Sales TripleXiaomi, whose investors include billionaire Yuri Milner, more than doubled its revenue in 2014, according to a blog posting by CEO Lei Jun.

Feb 13, 2015Xiaomi’s Barra: U.S. Market Is Important in Many Ways:  Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra discusses the company’s global expansion plans with Bloomberg’s Brad Stone on “Bloomberg West.”

June 4, 2015Xiaomi Grows Wearable Device Market ShareXiaomi is looking to elbow its way into the wearable device market. New figures suggest it took a quarter slice of global sales the first three months of the year. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Jitendra Waral discusses the sales figures on “Trending Business.”

Other videos from the CCTV America YouTube channel:

July 22, 2014Hugo Barra on latest Xiaomi products: Chinese tech firm Xiaomi showed off some of its latest products on Tuesday. The Beijing-based company unveiled its new Mi smartphone and billed it as a challenger to Apple’s iPhone. Analysts say the Mi 4 will be a make or break product for Xiaomi after sales of the older model proved disappointing.The company is also aggressively expanding overseas. Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Vice President for overseas business spoke with CCTV’s Xia Cheng.

July 14, 2015Eric Schiffer on Xiaomi’s global strategy: For more on Xiaomi’s global strategy, CCTV’s Michelle Makori spoke to Eric Schiffer, CEO of Patriarch Equity.

Dec 22, 2014
Tech company Xiaomi flourishes in China, India despite patent disputes: China’s Xiaomi tech company is often compared to Apple. Founded in 2010, Xiaomi has quickly surpassed Samsung to become the top smartphone in China and third in the world. Xiaomi phones are currently only sold online and in China and India.

Dec 22, 2014
Ari Zoldan of Quantum Networks discusses Chinese companies, patent troubles: CCTV America’s Sean Callebs interviewed tech industry expert and CEO of Quantum Networks Ari Zoldan about the rise of Xiaomi and it’s legal battles.

 



16nm / DDR4! MediaTek Helio X30 / X22 Exposure

Recommended background information on this same blog:

  1. MediaTek’s next 10 years’ strategy for devices, wearables and IoT [March 10, 2015]
  2. MediaTek CorePilot™ 3.0 with Tri-Cluster™ [July 3, 2015]

Aug 3, 201516nm/DDR4!联发科Helio X30/X22曝光- MTK手机网 by MTK mobile phone network (MTK手机网) as has been translated by Google and Bing with my manual edits as appropriate by the meaning

MediaTek has earlier launched a solution, code-named Helio X10, the MT6795 [Aug 1, 2014] kind of high-quality product [see in the background post No.1], but at the end of this year, with a more advanced technology, a higher performance 10 core processor Helio X20 will come [see in the background posts No.2]. Now follow-up products in the Helio high-end product line have been exposed, and with that more violent MediaTek’s solutions will be available.

Weibo user named @Kuro_Ne_Ko released a message a few days ago, in which the Helio X30 was announced and some information was published on Helio X22. According to the released content Helio X30/X22 will be the next push of the MediaTek’s flagship program, i.e. a significant upgrade to the X20.

It is reported that Helio X30 uses a 16nm FinFET technology and a ten core design as the X20, but the architecture is different. Helio X30 uses a more aggressive four clusters processor design. The first group has four [Cortex-]A72 performance cores, clocked at 2.5GHz; the second group of has the same Cortex-A72, their number is 2, and the frequency rate is 2GHz; and the rest is integrating 2 [Cortex-]A53  CPU cores at 1.5GHz, and the 2 other [Cortex-]A53 CPU cores at 1GHz.

This is all for a 10 core, 2xA53+2xA53+2xA72+4xA72 design. On the basis of the Helio X20 Tri-Cluster architecture [see in the background post No.2], the increase of the number of clusters, as well as the number of Cortex-A72 CPU cores will let the Helio X30 work under different loads more efficiently, one can imagine. Helio X30’s performance when going into a full play will undoubtedly be even better than that of the X20.

In addition to the architecture and technology upgrades, other specifications of Helio X30 could also be upgraded, such as memory. Helio X30 finally supports LPDDR4 (dual-channel /1600MHz/4G), in storage [functionality] can support the eMMC5.1 specification, and supports POP [Package on package] packaging. On the other hand Helio X30 will integrate a 800MHz ARM Mali-T880MP4 graphics processor that supports a camera of 40 million pixels (24fps), or 16 million pixels (60fps) as well as 8 million pixels (120fps).

Another Helio X series high-end product has also been exposed, code-named Helio X22. This new product is an upgraded version of Helio X20, the clock frequency will be increased, while other specifications should be close to Helio X20.

This year is the starting year for building the high-end MediaTek brands. The results achieved are also obvious, its current top-end product Helio X10 has been used by HTC, Gionee [金立], VIVO and OPPO, makers of flagship products. Supported by stronger performances, Helio X30/X22 are also expected to be used by a large number of manufacturers. After all it is already apparent that Mediatek products have the advantage of low power consumptionHowever, taking into account that the recent Helio X20 has to wait until December or so to be listed, Helio X22 and X30 should be for a more later date.