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Mobile phone market bounces back

Upmarket phones lead handset market recovery. Bubbles in the frame as US government launches Apple antitrust case. Chorus expands edge racks after Mount Eden pilot sellout
Apple iPhone 15 Pro.

Upmarket phones lead handset market recovery

After many quarters of flagging sales, New Zealand’s mobile handset market grew 10 per cent in the last year. In the fourth quarter sales were up 14 percent.

IDC says 395,000 handsets were shipped despite “overall gloominess in discretionary spending by consumers”.

The research company says the premium phone segment did better than the overall market. IDC defines premium phones as handsets costing more than US$1000, about NZ$1650.

Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro range enjoyed considerable success shipping in much higher numbers than last year’s iPhone 14 Pro.

This performance narrowed Apple’s gap with Samsung, which remains New Zealand’s most popular phone brand.

Samsung had a 44 per cent share of units during the year, that’s barely changed from the 43 per cent share in the previous year.

Apple is close behind with a 36 per cent share of unit sales. Given Apple’s range is tilted more towards higher value handsets, the company is likely to enjoy a higher share of sales revenue.

Together Apple and Samsung dominate New Zealand sales. The pair account for four out of every five phones sold in the country. Much of the remainder is made up of One NZ own-brand devices.

In the mid-market, Samsung’s Galaxy A series dominates with a 42 per cent market share.

Bubbles in the frame as US government launches Apple antitrust case

The US government has lodged an antitrust case against Apple accusing the company of using its dominant position in the mobile phone market to stifle the development of third-party apps, messaging services and payment systems.

It says Apple undermines the ability of iPhone users to message the owners of other brands of phones, including those running the Android operating system.

The case mentions that iPhone users see messages shown in green bubbles, while messages from users of other phones show blue bubbles, which is seen as a marker they are of lower quality.

Apple responded saying the case is “wrong on the facts and the law”. The company’s shares fell on the news.

Chorus expands edge racks after Mount Eden pilot sellout

Chorus is expanding its colocation data centre business and adding capacity to existing sites.

The data centres use old Telecom exchanges originally built for the copper phone network. Chorus inherited many, but not all of these buildings when it demerged from the one-time state-owned monopoly.

Chorus built its original pilot edge computing centre at Mount Eden in 2015. There are currently similar sites in Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.

High demand for the initial service meant it was sold out. Recently Chorus worked with data centre specialist Vertive to free up more space in the Mount Eden exchange.

Both companies are now working to expand the data centre operation to exchange sites across New Zealand. There are 600 sites in total, which means capacity can be added close to most businesses.

Vertive says the move will improve cloud functionality in the regions and give customers the ability to spread workloads across multiple locations, which can improve resilience to natural disasters.

Spark tackles cybercrime and abuse material

Spark Sustainability Director Leela Ashford says a new automated firewall and two filters will protect customers from malware, phishing and child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

The SMS scam firewall starts operation next month. It will automatically detect known fraudulent SMS material before it reaches the customer. This should reduce the amount of scam texts customers see.

Ashford says: “Spark has been monitoring outgoing SMS traffic patterns from our own network in an effort to detect scams, more recently with automation alerting our fraud teams to unusual activity so we can block offending accounts.

“While this has resulted in a significant reduction in scam SMSs sent from our own network, our new filter improves our ability to detect and block this activity coming through to our customers from other mobile networks as well.

Cert says cyber attacks fell in late 2023

Cert, the New Zealand government’s Computer Emergency Response Team, says cybercrime losses dropped 24 per cent in the last quarter of 2023. New Zealanders lost $3.6 million to scams during that period.

While falling losses is a positive, the agency warns that scammers are not resting and that it saw a huge increase in reported scam phone calls targeting Chinese immigrants during that period. It says phishing, by email, text message or phone call, remains the main threat.

Cert also reports a recent spate of recovery room scams where people who have lost money to criminals receive offers of help which turn out to be another scam.

Livingston takes Kordia reins from Rendell

Kordia director Neil Livingston is to act as the company’s interim CEO replacing Shaun Rendell who has resigned for medical reasons. Livingston has formerly worked for Ericsson, Vend, Endace and Provenco Cadmus. He was CEO at Pingar.

Smidt takes Chorus acting CFO role

Deputy CFO Katrina Smidt will move to the acting CFO role at Chorus and become head of customer engagement. Darren McLean is the company’s acting chief commercial officer. The appointments follow the existing COO Mark Aue succeeding JB Rousselot as CEO.

In other news...

A report in the Guardian says close to half of UK families are excluded from modern digital society.

Villa Las Estrellas is the first settlement in Antarctica to get a 5G mobile connection. Chilean operator Entel says it has activated a service for the 191 residents living there.

Bloomberg says Sony has paused production of its PS VR2 Playstation virtual reality headset. There’s a huge backlog of unsold units. The PlayStation headsets are tethered to the gaming hardware at a time when consumers prefer to buy. Untethered headsets.

New Zealand’s Digital Boost Alliance says the government wants to ramp-up electronic invoicing.

Multiple submarine cables off the West Coast of Africa were cut this week which meant users in 13 countries were without internet connections. In some cases the services are still unavailable. African nations were already affected by outages from cables in the Red Sea.

Geostationary satellite operator Intelsat has bought capacity from Eutelsat’s OneWeb low Earth orbit constellation to strengthen its “multi-orbit broadband strategy”. OneWeb plans to start selling services on its LEO network later this year.

The Download Weekly is supported by Chorus New Zealand.