Will iPhone 8 Bring a ‘Supercycle’ of Upgrades; Amazon Prime Offers HBO & Cinemax for Additional $$

The second half of 2017 may bring what’s being called a ‘supercycle’ of iPhone upgrades. Businessinsider.com reports that KGI Securities has been polling Apple suppliers, and Apple may be gearing up to ship between 90 and 110 million iPhone 8 models the second half of next year. It’s possible that they may even blow past the 113 million iPhone 6’s they sold the back half of 2014. Besides KGI, 3 other analysts believe 2017 could be a banner year as the anniversary iPhone bows.

Just a day after Netflix plays catchup by offering downloads for viewing later, which Amazon has already had, Amazon Prime Video introduces HBO for an additional $15 a month and Cinemax for $10 a month. Venturebeat.com notes that cord cutters could be induced to buy in….but for 30 days, Prime members can try them for free!


Samsung Galaxy S8 Will Have Killer Selfie Cam; iPhone 8’s Third, Higher-Line Model Gets OLED; Netflix Allows Some Downloading of Shows

The Samsung Galaxy S8 will have autofocus on the selfie cam. According to bgr.com, Samsung has figured out a way to add autofocus to the front camera without increasing the size of the camera module or the thickness of the phone. The Galaxy S8 will use an “encoder” method that has coils at the side, rather than a Voice Coil Motor that’s used in rear cameras for autofocus.

KGI Securities now says only a new, top line model iPhone 8 will get the OLED with better picture and lower power consumption. Businessinsider.com says updates to the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will get glass cases and wireless charging, though.

At long last, Netflix is allowing limited downloading of shows to be watched later offline. Theverge.com reports that it’s Netflix originals like Stranger Things, The Crown, Narcos, Orange is the New Black, and the like, but also a number of random other shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Paddington and Minions and Kung Fu Panda 3. It works on iOS and Android, with two quality versions: Standard and Higher. Netflix hasn’t said how much higher, but notes it will take longer to download. Finally, viewing for that plane flight or commuting over subway systems!


Apple-10 Prototypes for iPhone 8; Google Should Sell 3 Million Pixel Phones; Premium Amazon Alexa Coming; Cyber Monday Sets Record

There’s lots of buzz about what next year’s iPhone 8 will be like. Some may be true…but Apple is testing more than 10 prototypes of the anniversary handset right now, according to businessinsider.com. A curved screen is a consistent rumor, as is an OLED display with darker blacks and less power hogging. Of course, there’s the glass back and possible wireless charging. Apple was supposed to get OLED screens this year, but dropped them due to supply problems, so stay tuned.

Preorders for Google’s Pixel phone have blown the doors off what was expected. 9to5google.com reports that, based on preorders and Verizon activations, they should sell 3 million phones by the end of this year. The Pixel is already 10% of the premium market in India…benefitting from Samsung’s collapse over the fiery Note 7. Apple has also benefitted there, grabbing 66% of the premium phone market!

Amazon apparently has a premium Echo speaker with Alexa in the works with a large touch screen and higher grade speakers. Bloomberg.com says it may be out first quarter of 2017. The speaker and screen with be angled and on top, so a person standing can use it when it’s sitting on a counter or table. The present Echo sells for $180 when not discounted, so expect the higher line one to be over $200.

Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day, ever. According to zdnet.com, analysts say US online spending topped $3.39 billion, and that’s a 10.2% increase over last year. It’s also slightly more than Black Friday, which notched $3.34 billion. Interestingly, mobile revenue was a little lower than Black Friday, but it was still up 48% over last year’s Cyber Monday. The five best-selling toys in terms of quantity sold on Cyber Monday were Lego, Shopkins, Nerf, Barbie, and Little Live Pets. The five best-selling electronic products were Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPads, and Amazon Fire tablets.


iPad Pro Coming Sans Home Button & Bezel; Samsung Doing the Splits; Record Black Friday for Mobile

In a rumor that might telegraph features on next year’s iPhone 8, macrumors.com reports that a story from Japanese site Mac Otakara says Apple is planning a thicker, bezel-free iPad Pro with no home button. The tablet will have a 10.9 inch screen, but with the same footprint as the current 9.7 inch model. As for the thickness, it really will only be as thick as the original iPad Air. Expect it to drop around March.

On the heels of a proposal by an activist hedge fund manager, the board of Samsung Electronics will meet Tuesday to consider splitting itself in two, according to reuters.com. Samsung has a complicated corporate structure, and has a number of businesses. This might give a smartphone division more ability to become a greater player than ever in the mobile tech world.

It was a record Black Friday in one new way. Recode.net says it was the first billion dollar mobile shopping day ever, with shoppers dropping 1.2 billion on phones and tablets to pick up Black Friday bargains. Overall, it’s estimated that total online sales Black Friday hit 3.34 billion. It sounds like people are taking Lewis Black’s exhortation to …’buy more…um…stuff.’


Apple Corners Smartphone Profits; Super Battery Concept Charges in Seconds & Lasts Days

They may not have the biggest market share, but according to a Strategy Analytics report picked up by 9to5mac.com, Apple took in 91% of mobile industry profits in the third quarter of 2016. Huawei had the best showing of any Android maker with 2.4%. Samsung, of course, helped Apple by taking a big loss with the recall of their fiery Galaxy Note 7 models. LG and HTC also reported losses.

Thenextweb.com reports that a new battery concept from scientists at University of Central Florida may be able to charge in seconds and last 20 times longer than a conventional lithium ion cell….possibly lasting over a week! It’s essentially a super capacitor. The battery doesn’t degrade like present ones, either…holding the same charge after 30,000 recharges. Keep your fingers crossed, if this pans out, it will be a game changer for smart devices, electric vehicles, and anything else running on batteries.


Samsung Clones ‘Jet Black;’ HTC May Leave Smartphone Biz; Amazon’s Clarkson Show Has Big Debut; Electric VWs to be Made in USA

In the past, when Samsung has just plain poached Apple ideas and designs, it’s been a big hit for them. (It’s also hit them in the wallet sometimes, as Apple has sued and won.) Now, Samsung is going to clone Apple’s hot “Jet Black” color. According to bgr.com, they aren’t even waiting for the Galaxy S8….they will roll out Jet Black S7 models as soon as next month. Hey, it’s hard to get sued for using the same color!

HTC has made some really cool phones, and I have several friends that have had them and loved them. They haven’t really caught fire…figuratively…not in the Galaxy Note 7 way, however. Digitaltrends.com says rumors are flying now that HTC will bail out of smartphones completely by this coming spring. They have quietly been shopping the division around, but nothing so far. It wouldn’t be out of the question for Google to snap them up, since the success of the new Google Pixel phones.

Yesterday, Netflix snarked that Amazon hadn’t really paid $160 million to produce their ‘Top Gear’ type show titled ‘The Grand Tour,’ saying it was more like $250 million. The show, starring Jeremy Clarkson, and his former Top Gear colleagues, debuted Friday. It was the biggest premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, according to businessinsider.com, eclipsing ‘The Man in the High Castle.’ Not only that, it was the top rated show on IMDB with a 9.6 and got 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon says it got the second most one day sign ups for Prime ever last Friday. Sounds like a hit!

Volkswagen says they will begin building electric vehicle models in North America,and even the US by 2021. Techcrunch.com picked up a report from Automotive news, citing VW brand lead Herbert Diess. Vee Dub will also build large SUVs and limos here. The Mexico factories will also crank out EVs for the North American market.


Record Number Shopping Online for Holidays; Amazon’s ‘X-Ray Vision’ for Packages; Reuters Poll Says Fiery Galaxy Note 7 Didn’t Damage Samsung Brand in US

It’s not really a surprise, but more people than ever will shop over the holidays online. TechCrunch.com reports that holiday spending online is projected to go up by 18%. A full 47% of shoppers will do some shopping online this holiday season….and a third will buy using mobile devices. The survey was commissioned by Visa, which certainly has an intent interest in the topic! Clothing, accessories, and home decor are still categories people really prefer to buy in person, according to the poll.

The Amazon app is getting a new feature that kind of affords you X-Ray vision for your packages. According to mashable.com, you scan the barcode on the package through the app with your phone’s camera, and the app will show you which of your orders are inside. This should be a boon for those getting multiple items…and some of them perhaps Christmas presents you don’t want prying eyes to see!

After the global recall of millions of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, a lot of people thought Samsung might have to fold their tent and leave. Now, a Reuters poll suggests ‘not so fast.’ The survey had 27% saying they’d first consider Samsung when buying, but a whopping 91% of Samsung owners said they’d buy another. That’s only 1 percentage point under Apple, with their vaunted customer loyalty. It looks like the Galaxy Note 8 or whatever they call it should do just fine!