Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–September 22, 2014

Apple a Decade Behind Japan Mobile Payment Curve
Apple’s proud announcement that its new iPhone could be used to buy goods in a single swipe left customers non-plussed in Japan, where mobile contact less payments have been normal fare for a decade. A type of Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, known in Japan as FeliCa, was introduced to the Japanese mobile market in June 2004 and has been been implanted in almost all phones sold in the country since. FeliCa was conceived by Sony way back in 1989 and first used in the Hong Kong underground railway system in 1997 in a card known as Octopus inspiring cities around the world to use similar technology in their own contact less transport cards. Japan adopted an electronic payment system for trains in 2001. The transport cards’ success led to the integration of contact less chips into Japanese mobile phones and lifestyles with the creation of a group of apps known as the “mobile wallet” by NTT Docomo in 2004. Story in NDTV Gadgets.

Chinese City Creates a Cell Phone Lane for Walkers
Talk about an accident-or accidents-waiting to happen: in Chongqing, a sprawling city in central China, authorities have set up a “cell phone lane.” The Chongqing cell phone lane is on a street heavily trafficked by pedestrians-a lane where people focusing on their phones can stroll without running into anyone NOT holding a phone. They can only run into each other. The point of this remains elusive. Is it public safety? How a dedicated walking lane-for people with their heads down preoccupied with their phones-makes anyone safer is a little fuzzy. Maybe the idea was hatched at one of the cell phone makers competing frantically for the world’s biggest market for handsets, with Samsung and Apple trying to fend off Huawei, Lenovo and a host of other domestic competitors. If you can get people to bump into each other and drop their phones maybe replacement sales go up? Story by Bill Powell for Newsweek.

Sony’s Inability to Sell Smartphones is Costing it Billions
All is not well at Japan’s flagship electronics maker. Sony has projected its current fiscal-year loss will widen to more than $2.1 billion, a bigger loss than previously expected, as the Japanese company trims the value of its mobile communications business. Sony had previously admitted sales of its mid-range smartphones, intended for emerging markets, hadn’t been as strong as the company had hoped. The mobile phone business was Sony’s largest sales contributor last year, and was also the company’s most profitable electronics division just a year ago. Story by John Kell for Fortune.

Federal Safety Agency Calls For Complete Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving
Are you ready to give up your cell phone while you’re driving? You may have to, like it or not. The National Transportation Safety Board has called for a nationwide ban on the use of electronic devices while driving. The NTSB’s recommendation covers more than just texting. The agency says any kind of cell phone use while driving is unsafe. The NTSB is not aiming for federal laws. It says regulation is a state issue, so the agency is calling on all 50 states to pass laws banning cell phone use while driving. Story by Joel Allen for Carolina Live.

Google Introduces Android One Phone for Emerging Markets
Google chose India to introduce on Monday the first of a series of affordable smartphones under its Android One initiative, a bid by the company to win over the “next billion” users in emerging economies. The phones, starting at 6,399 rupees, or about $105, are entering what already is the world’s third-largest smartphone market behind China and the United States. But it is also the fastest-growing: demand is exploding as first-time phone buyers, as well as those making the transition from low-tech feature phones, rush to buy ever cheaper and more sophisticated devices. Google said it intended to take Android One elsewhere in South Asia in the coming months, and to markets like Indonesia and the Philippines. Story by Saritha Rai for The New York Times.

Samsung Trade-ins Triple After iPhone 6 Announcement
It appears smartphone consumers were clamoring for an iPhone with a larger display. After the announcement of the iPhone 6 last week, smartphone trade-ins have taken a huge upswing. A significant number of existing iPhone users will be switching over to the new, larger smartphone, but industry reports show a noticeable shift happening with Android owners. According to reports from smartphone buyer Gazelle, Samsung trade-ins were up threefold on a weekly basis after Apple’s iPhone 6 announcement. Many smartphone users are switching to the iPhone 6 because of a larger screen option. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Microsoft Urges Phone Industry to ‘Amplify the Message Around Security’
Microsoft hopes a new ‘selfie phone’ will help it lure people away from Apple and Google handsets. It also called for the industry to ‘amplify the message around security’ of cloud photo sharing services in the wake of the ‘fappening’ celebrity picture leaks. The handset is expected to coast around $240 in the US, and comes with a special selfie app. Story by Mark Prigg for Mail Online.

911 Calls From Cell Phones Disrupted
Officials in Shelby County said the Memphis Police Department began having problems with dropped calls and static communications between emergency operators and people calling 911 last Saturday. Officials said in a news release Monday that Memphis operators also have been receiving calls from surrounding counties. The calls are being conferenced in to the appropriate agency. The problematic calls primarily involve cell phone users. Police have activated 10-digit emergency numbers for each affected county and are asking that, until further notice, callers use those numbers for emergencies. The numbers have no caller ID, and callers must stay on the line to speak to an operator. Story by David Thomas of the Jackson Sun.

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.