720,000 Android Wear smartwatches shipped in second half of 2014

Smartwatches might get a lot of attention, but it’s important to remember they’re still a new product category, and not a real commercial force yet. Case in point: A new report from Canalys indicates that only 720,000 Android Wear devices were shipped after the platform launched in June, and those devices had the might of Google and some of the world’s biggest hardware makers behind them.

According to Canalys, which drew data from its internal quarterly market tracking service, the Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch was the “clear leader” among the six Android Wear smartwatches currently available. The report also noted that the round LG G Watch R performed significantly better than its squarer sibling.

Although 720,000 might seem like a large number, let’s put this in perspective: It really appears that mainstream consumers don’t want or don’t understand why they should want a smartwatch. It’s also worth noting that iPhone owners can’t use Android Wear devices, which eliminates a lot of potential customers.

Apple said recently it sold 34,000 iPhones per hour during the past quarter — which means it sold more iPhones on average in a single day than six different Android Wear smartwatches did in half a year. Pebble has sold 1 million smartwatches over the life of the company, including an estimated 600,000 units between last March and December, but remember, Pebble is a startup. It used to be a Kickstarter and it didn’t get revealed at Google’s annual developer’s conference.

Also consider that the Canalys numbers measure units shipped, not units sold. It’s possible there are a few Samsung Gear Live smartwatches languishing on Best Buy shelves waiting for a clearance sale.

The smartwatch market will change markedly once Apple enters it in earnest. Nobody really knows how many smartwatches Apple is going to sell when Apple Watch launches sometime this April. Estimates range from a few million in its first year all the way up to 30 million units shipped in 2015. Apple inspires such dedication that there are going to be people who purchase — even line up for — Apple Watch, regardless of features, performance, or reviews, and this latest data point indicates it’s very possible that there will be more Apple Watches sold in its first day of availability than the total number of smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear platform.

Leaked Moto E looks like the budget phone to beat: LTE for $99

A now-pulled Best Buy product listing indicates that Motorola’s least expensive smartphone may be getting an update soon. The page listed a new Moto E for Sprint’s prepaid service sporting upgrades over last year’s impressive Moto E, including an LTE modem, double the storage at 8GB, and most importantly, what looks like a price cut from $129 to $99.99 without a contract.

Best Buy Moto E

Android Police was able to catch the product page and specs before Best Buy pulled them, and it looks like this new Moto E will retain its 4.5-inch 540 x 960 screen, as well as a 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor (probably the Snapdragon 200 like its predecessor).

Although Motorola’s high-end phones, like the Moto X or Nexus 6, get most of the marketing attention in the United States and Europe, Motorola’s low-cost devices are important to the company as it breaks into markets like India and, more recently, China. Sales of the Moto E and its slightly more expensive sibling, the Moto G, helped propel Motorola to three million devices sold in India last year, and certainly helped contribute to Motorola’s revenue, which more than doubled in 2014.

For me, it’s the LTE support that’s exciting — there are a plethora of low-cost Android devices, but LTE support becomes rarer in the sub-$100 range. In fact, Motorola launched a second version of the the slightly more expensive Moto G last year, but still hasn’t officially launched a version with LTE.

Because the listing is for a Sprint handset, there’s a possibility this specific device won’t work on certain GSM networks, like those operated in the United States by AT&T and T-Mobile. But considering the Moto E will be sold widely and internationally when it officially launches, there’s a good chance Motorola will release a version of the $100 phone that will work on your preferred network.

Motorola sales double in 2014 as the brand re-enters China

Lenovo reported its earnings for the past quarter on Tuesday. During the quarter, the company officially completed its $2.91 billion acquisition of Motorola from Google.

Lenovo announced its smartphone brand sold over 10 million handsets in the most recent quarter. Sure, that pales against sales figures from giants like Apple and Samsung, but at least it’s going in the right direction.

When Lenovo and Motorola smartphone sales are combined, the company is one of the top five smartphone makers in the world, behind Apple and Samsung and in fierce competition with Huawei and LG.

Lenovo Group’s revenue includes laptop and desktop sales, in which Lenovo is the world market leader. Lenovo reported that total revenue was up 31 percent to $14.1 billion. But Lenovo has thin margins, around 2.8 percent, and managed a net profit of $253 million.

Motorola sales were up 118 percent to $1.9 billion. Lenovo once again confirmed that it plans to sell Motorola phones in China, and said it believes Motorola can become profitable in the next year.

Lenovo also completed its purchase of IBM’s server business for $2.1 billion in October.

More importantly, it appears that the Motorola brand resonates in massive and growing smartphone markets like China and India. Motorola announced Monday on Weibo that it had seen 1 million reservations for the decidedly high-end Moto X. In India, Motorola previously said it had sold 3 million smartphones last year, probably mostly the more affordable Moto E and Moto G models.

Google I/O Motorola Moto 360

Because Lenovo didn’t officially complete its acquisition of Motorola until the end of October, much of this success isn’t from Lenovo’s input — it most likely stems from decisions made while Motorola was a Google company, such as the decision to streamline and simplify its main product line under the Moto moniker. Motorola was the hardware partner for the Nexus 6, Google’s reference device for the latest version of Android. Motorola also produces one of the better-received Android Wear smartwatches, the Moto 360.

Lenovo is expected to announce a new smartphone brand in 2015 for China that will be sold directly to consumers online, following Xiaomi’s model.

Apple is the reason the Nexus 6 doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner

Since the Nexus 6 was released, it’s been evident that Google’s developer flagship came very close to having a fingerprint scanner. Thanks to ex-Motorola CEO and current Dropbox COO Dennis Woodside, we know why it was eventually axed: The available fingerprint scanners simply weren’t good enough.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Woodside explained that because Apple had purchased the “best supplier” of fingerprint recognition technology, Android makers like Motorola had to deal with “the second best supplier” and that supplier’s technology wasn’t “there yet.” Apple purchased AuthenTec in 2012 for $356 million.

Woodside also agrees with many that the Nexus 6 is a little too big for one-handed use. “It is enormous. It’s a bit big for me; I drop it all the time,” Woodside said.

Atrix10

Motorola Atrix had an installed fingerprint scanner based on AuthenTec technology in 2011.

[company]Motorola[/company] actually produced a phone with an AuthenTec fingerprint reader in 2011, the Atrix 4G, before Apple purchased the biometric security company. Recent reports indicate that Samsung is still unsatisfied with its fingerprint scanning feature and might be using new fingerprint scanner parts that don’t require swiping. Samsung uses CrucialTec fingerprint scanners on devices like the Galaxy S5.

Authentic ends up looking like a great purchase for [company]Apple[/company], which usually seeks to fully control the technologies it uses. It turns out that the purchase of AuthenTec for $356 million didn’t just lead to Touch ID, and therefore eventually Apple Pay. It was also a setback for competitors, who are still catching up to Apple’s fingerprint scanning technology years later.

How LG and Motorola are assailing Samsung

Samsung still enjoys a healthy lead atop the Android smartphone heap, but competitors such as LG and Motorola have shown they are starting to find ways to penetrate its market dominance.

Motorola’s budget handset gets Android Lollipop before Nexus devices

Stellar news if you own the 2014 version of Motorola’s Moto G, an impressive budget handset that costs $180 unlocked. According to Arstechnica, the Moto G Android Lollipop update is now officially available for some unlocked Moto G handsets. The latest version of Android brings a new look, improved home screen notifications, and a whole lot of new handy features like Screen Pinning.

The new Moto X will go on sale for Verizon subscribers tomorrow

Motorola’s newest high-end phone will be available on Verizon, not that it was ever in doubt. The carrier announced Thursday that the new Moto X will cost $99 for the 16GB model on a two-year contract, or either $499 or $549 at full price, starting September 26. Your color options include a standard black model and a white phone with a bamboo rear shell, as well as the options provided by the Moto Maker customization service. The new Moto X is already available on AT&T, and the unlocked version should work fine on T-Mobile, but Sprint subscribers coveting the Moto X are probably out of luck.