The last week has been a packed one for the US tech company. It announced that it would sell its Linksys home networking business to Belkin, which is well known for its accessories portfolio, that it had acquired a small portion of Parallels, a company that produces a popular virtualisation software and purchased Intucell, a mobile network management company from Israel for $475 million. Those three news nuggets and earlier ones (like the cancellation of the Flip Video line and Cius tablet and the rumours of a possible exit from the STB business) indicate that the company may be looking to go back to its roots in the more lucrative business and enterprise segments.
Of the three announcements, the Belkin’s one is probably the most indicative of the metamorphosis Cisco is going through. Belkin’s acquisition of the Linksys brand and Cisco’s home networking business means that it will significantly expand its “connected devices” offering overnight, spilling into the highly competitive small home office environment. Amongst the product ranges it will inherit, are modem routers, switches and bridges. Cisco bought Linksys for $500m nearly a decade ago but intriguingly, Belkin did not reveal how much it paid for it but regardless, the sale is probably why Cisco’s shares jumped last week, helping it almost reach its highest value in a year at $21.15.
An Italian website published what it claims to be a leaked press shot of the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S4, a phone that has already been the subject of a lot of speculations. The phone appears to be a cross between the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Check the visual comparisons between the S4 and the S3 (obviously not to scale).
The smartphone will start to ship in week 16 according to other sources, which is towards the end of April/beginning of May. As a reminder, the Galaxy S3 was launched on 3 May 2012 in London with the first shipments happening four week later. Could that mean that the official launch of the S4 will happen at the end of week 12 (i.e. end of March, beginning of April)? Let’s sit tight and wait. We’ve compiled a list of the latest rumours about Samsung’s next flagship smartphone in a column called “Samsung Galaxy S4: all you need to know”. Obviously, the fact that we don’t even know how the follow-up to the S3 will be called or how much it will cost hasn’t prevented some (no names here) from hypothetising about whether it will be better value-for-money compared to the yet-to-be-announced iPhone 5S. Ridiculous!
After Microsoft, Cisco, Vodafone, Samsung and even Huawei or ZTE, the latest company named as a potential suitor for beleaguered Canadian handset manufacturer (and mobile solution provider), Research In Motion, is none other than the biggest PC seller in the world, China-based Lenovo. This came up as the company’s CFO let slip that Lenovo would not hesitate to spend money if opportunities came along. It did so with Medion, Stoneware, CCE and the most iconic of all, IBM’s personal computer business (and its legendary ThinkPad brand). RIM is worth around $10 billion at the moment; that’s almost three times its market capitalisation back in September 2012.
That value that is bound to increase in the event of an aggressive takeover bid. But that is unlikely to happen for a number of things; RIM, like Cisco, is what one would qualify as a “sensitive” business, one whose acquisition would give place to all sorts of regulatory, long-winded, red-tape-ladden processes. This isn’t therefore a surprise that shortly after the claims by Lenovo’s Wong Wai Ming, another spokesperson for the company downplayed his comments saying that he was speaking about the company’s business strategy in general. Still we would fancy a possible merger between Nokia and RIM; could two underdogs merge into a potent competitor?
Speaking of Nokia, the mobile manufacturer was in the news this week after it announced that it was finally giving up on Symbian to focus only on Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile platform for smartphones. The 15-year old platform will be fondly remembered by a lot of users, many for which Symbian-based handsets were the first introduction to the exciting world of mobile phones. At the height of its popularity, before the advent of Android and iOS, it commanded a staggering 73 per cent of the market; that has now shrunken to 1.59 per cent according to latest figures from Netmarketshare (still more than Windows Phone). Nokia acquired Symbian in June 2008 to create the Symbian Foundation and made the Symbian Platform open source in February 2010.
But, much to the surprise of the market, it stopped offering Symbian as an open source platform in April 2011, two months after announcing its partnership with Microsoft over Windows Phone, a move that essentially sealed the fate of Symbian. Is that the end of Symbian then? Well, pretty much yes. Unlike Palm OS, which now lives on as Open webOS thanks to HP, it seems that Nokia is determined to make sure that the once mighty Symbian does not interfere with Microsoft’s aspirations to make Windows Phone a major mobile platform.