THE WRAP: Apple loses to Spanish minnow; Samsung top smartphone seller

Apple had its wings clipped in one of a series of patent lawsuits this week, with a small Spanish computer manufacturer overturning a ban on its Android tablet PCs, and Samsung shipping more smartphones than the US vendor in the third quarter.
In what is being billed as a David versus Goliath battle, Spanish computer maker Nuevas Tecnologías y Energías Catalá (nt-k) won court backing to re-start sales of an Android-based tablet PC in the country, over a year after Apple successfully had shipments stopped.
The Spanish firm is incensed Apple also pursued a criminal case against it, and says it will now seek compensation for lost earnings and damage to its reputation.
More worrying for Apple is that the Spanish court’s decision casts doubt on its main argument in a similar patent battle with Samsung that has already resulted in the South Korean firm’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 being banned in Germany.
Despite the pressure on its tablets, Samsung topped the 3Q smartphone shipments chart with 27.8 million units sent out the door compared to 17.1 million for Apple, and Nokia’s 16.4 million.
Third quarter results from BT and Chungwha Telecom provided an interesting counterpoint on the importance of cost control. While BT suffered a 10% year-on-year fall in revenue, it grew pre-tax profit 36% by lowering operating costs. In contrast, Chungwha recorded flat profit despite a 9.5% hike in revenue year-on-year, as operating expenses rose 14.9%.
Neither operator will see much growth in voice revenues without capitalizing on new methods of monetization, delegates at the Capacity Asia event in Kuala Lumpur warned.
While one operator compared voice services to slavery, due to the ultra-low margins now available, another noted that roaming services offer a glimmer of light for voice income.
Delegates at the event also addressed Cloud pricing, noting that traditional wholesale models won’t work with predominantly pay-as-you-use Cloud services. Speakers also criticized operators for failing to react quickly enough to the changing landscape, and noted that IP Exchange networks are more likely to increase costs than generate revenue.
Operators seeking growth in emerging markets should heed new figures from security firm Sophos that reveal 50.1% of the world’s spam was generated in Asia Pacific in the third quarter – more than double the amount generated in Europe and over three times that of North America.
The firm believes botnets are spreading fast among new web users that may not be aware of the need for security.
In other news, credit agency Fitch Ratings stated Nokia’s new Lumia Windows Phone 7 devices offer little that can’t be found on rival products; Visa Europe bought 8.8% of mobile money firm Monitise for €28.2 million ($39 million); and UK regulator Ofcom revealed nearly eight million people can’t access all five of the country’s 3G networks.
And hands-free smartphone control came a step closer to reality, with Israel-based firm eyeSight revealing South Korean vendor Pantech is deploying its gesture-based user interface in a new device later this month.
Users will be able to control calls, activate music players, and play games without touching the screen.
Despite gesture-based UI’s going head-to-head with Apple’s new Siri voice control mechanism, Pantech’s involvement could be a welcome boost, launching the technology into a market where the number of smartphone users has soared by over ten million between January and October.