Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–May 4, 2015

Samsung Profit Falls on Slowing Smartphone Sales
Samsung Electronics continued to struggle in the first three months of the year, raising the stakes for the success of its new flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone. Samsung said Wednesday its net profit for the three months ended March 31 was 4.63 trillion Korean won ($4.3 billion), down 39% from a year earlier. The result was worse than market expectations for a 30% decline, according to the average forecast of a Dow Jones survey of eight analysts. The company’s mobile division limped along as consumers flocked to Apple’s new iPhones and devices made by Chinese brands like Xiaomi. The division’s operating profit fell to 2.74 trillion won, 57% lower than a year earlier. Story by Min-Jeong Lee and Jonathan Cheng for The Wall Street Journal.

Babies Using Cell Phones: Not Great, But It’s Happening
More than one-third of babies are clicking around on smartphones and tablets-tots as young as six months old-finds a new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. Based on a survey of 370 parents visiting a pediatric clinic in Philadelphia, 36% of children under 1 years old had touched or scrolled a screen, 24% had called someone, 15% used apps, and 12% played video games. By age 2, the majority of kids were using mobile devices. Yet real life and expert guidelines are at odds when it comes to screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that entertainment media (including TV) be avoided for infants and children under age 2. As their policy paper states, “Studies have shown that excessive media can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.” Story by Ellen Seidman for Health.

Microsoft Hints at Impending Write-Off of Nokia Acquisition that Could Total Billions
Microsoft has signaled that it may take a massive write-off of its Nokia acquisition, perhaps as early as July. In the 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Microsoft said that its Phone Hardware division, which is based largely on the Nokia assets acquired last year for approximately $7.9 billion, lost money in the March quarter. With revenue at $1.4 billion for the period, Microsoft said, cost of revenue exceeded sales by $4 million, meaning the company lost about 12 cents—even before marketing, R&D and other expenses were factored in–on each phone sold. More importantly, Microsoft also warned investors that it may need to write off some of the Nokia acquisition. Story by Gregg Keizer for Computer World.

Tea Towels and Mobile Phones Riddled with Bacteria, Scientists Warn
Forget the chopping board or a dirty plate–the most germ-ridden objects in your kitchen might surprise you. Tea towels and mobile phones are leading causes of contamination, harbouring bacteria that could cause food poisoning, a study found. This is because people tend to touch the towels before washing their hands, spreading harmful bugs. The researchers also discovered many people handle their mobile phones while preparing a meal. Phones can be covered in bacteria if they have been previously been contaminated with germs, for example by being taken into the bathroom. Another paper from the same university discovered mobile phones are riddled with ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Story by Madlen Davies for Daily Mail.

Why Microsoft Thinks Your Phone Could Be Your Only Computer
Can a smartphone satisfy all of your computing needs? That was the pitch Microsoft made during its Build developer’s conference on Tuesday, and it’s not so far-fetched as it sounds. On stage at the event, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore plugged a Windows phone into a large screen display. On the small screen, he opened a mobile version of a PowerPoint presentation, but on the large screen, that same presentation was transformed. Menu options that would normally appear in the desktop version of PowerPoint suddenly appeared at the top of the screen. The “universal app” detected the display’s expansive canvas and packed it with new features. In essence, the app ran two independent displays from one device. Microsoft calls this screen-splitting feature a “continuum,” and it hints at a future where a smartphone can in essence become a wide range of devices, from the tablet to the laptop to the mighty desktop computer, depending on what it’s connected to. And if a phone can truly can match these devices, feature for feature, who needs all of that costly hardware? The smartphone could pack the only processor you need. Story by Dan Kedmey for Time.

Mobile Banking Now Surpasses Telephone Banking
Mobile banking has finally surpassed telephone banking as a means of accessing financial services, according to the Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2015 report. The Federal Reserve Bank found that 35% of bank customers use mobile banking to interact with their accounts, up from 30% last year. In 2011, mobile banking was used by 20% of survey respondents, while the use of telephone banking hovered around 33%. Telephone banking continues to be utilized by 1/3 of the population today, but mobile banking has increased significantly. Online banking has also seen an upsurge in recent years, jumping from 65% in 2011 to 74% in 2014. As expected, mobile banking is most common with younger adults. Story by Natalie Rutledge for SaveOnPhone.com.

Alibaba, China Telecom Tie Up to Sell Phones
Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and state-owned China Telecom Corp Ltd have tied up to sell inexpensive smartphones aimed at boosting mobile commerce in smaller cities and rural areas. The phones, dubbed “Tianyi Taobao Shopping Handsets”, will come installed with either an app for easy access to Alibaba’s flagship Taobao online shopping platform or its home-grown YunOS mobile operating system, it said in a statement late on Friday. Buyers will be eligible for four months of free 2G data service. The partnership is a bid to deepen Alibaba’s e-commerce base in less developed parts of the country and promote its mobile operating system in a shrinking, cut-throat handset market. Story by John Ruwitch for Reuters.

Texting May Act as Pain Reducing Distraction During Surgery
Texting someone on a mobile phone during a minor surgical procedure done under local anesthetic can significantly reduce a patient’s demand for narcotic pain relief, according to researchers. If the person texting is a stranger the odds of a patient asking for medications to control pain could be as little as one-sixth of those undergoing surgery without their mobile, they said. Story by Steve Ford for Nursing Times.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.