Regional carrier Cricket has set about breaking the Guinness record for the world's largest cellphone, crafting a giant Samsung Messager out of wood, metal, lights, wizardry, and love. Samsung did not break out its first-quarter smartphone and handset shipments, but analysts forecast it ended Nokia's 14-year leadership of the global cellphone market, outselling the struggling Finnish company for the first time. Its handset division profit nearly tripled to 4.27 trillion won, accounting for 73 percent of total profit. Samsung and Apple have formed a near duopoly in the high-end smartphone market, as traditional stalwarts struggle to introduce compelling models that can successfully crack into the segment. The duo controlled 90 percent of the high-end smartphone market last year and their combined stake will remain little changed at 88 percent by 2013, according to Bernstein analysts. Samsung - which has deals with all three of China's big telecoms operators - already pushed out Nokia as China's top smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter, with around 25 percent market share, and analysts expect that to have increased as Nokia slips further. China's smartphone growth has defied most forecasts, and South Korean smartphone chip maker SK hynix this week predicted smartphone sales in China could be 20-30 percent higher than originally expected, given the level of orders it has seen.
Samsung, which last year sold close to one in every five smartphones worldwide, should build on that market leadership with the launch in London next week of a third generation of its flagship Galaxy S, backed by heavy marketing ahead of the summer Olympics. Samsung also competes with Sony Corp and LG Electronics in TVs, Toshiba and SK hynix in chips and LG Display in displays.
Shares in Samsung, the world's top TV maker, have climbed 27 percent so far this year, and hit a record high of 1.351 million won ($1,200) earlier this month.
Carriers Battle For the past few years, AT&T has seized the Monday before CES for a big developers' conference with a 90-minute keynote. Verizon will be focusing on its "Powerful Answers Awards," with a lot of non-phone connected devices making their appearance there on Wednesday.


Qualcomm and Nvidia are under heavy pressure to follow Apple with a line of 64-bit mobile chipsets. Intel will show off its first real mobile success in years with Windows devices on its Bay Trail chipset.
China's Time to Shine Don't expect major mobile phone announcements from Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, or HTC at this show. It'll be officially unveiled tomorrow, but in the meantime, we've been treated to some behind-the-scenes footage of the 8th Wonder Of The World's creation. Samsung is estimated to have sold 90 million handsets, including 44 million smartphones, according to analysts. Operating profit margin of the division also improved to 18.4 percent from 11 percent a year ago and 12 percent in the preceding quarter, helped by strong sales of the high-end Galaxy S and Note. The new Galaxy will use Samsung's quad-core microprocessor, which it hopes to see in handsets sold by Nokia, HTC and Motorola, as well as Apple, its biggest customer. The AT&T keynote tends to start with some news about the company's LTE network, pass through a bunch of arcane developer APIs and drop a set of new handset releases at the end. I've seen speculation that T-Mobile will offer to pay the early termination fees of "switchers" coming from other carriers, or at least finance them over a period of time so they aren't so onerous. But the carrier would be smart to also debut its prepaid Moto G, which evleaks showed off earlier this month. Intel vs Nvidia Three of the biggest booths at CES will be held by mobile chip titans: Intel, Qualcomm, and Nvidia.
Qualcomm announced its first 64-bit chip, the low-end Snapdragon 410, and the GPU-boosted Snapdragon 805 last month, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a 610 and 810 appear at CES.


The company has promised a 14nm "Airmont" Atom chipset for 2014, so we wouldn't be surprised to see Krzanich talk about that. While handset makers often save their big global announcements for Mobile World Congress in late February (or for their own events), January's Consumer Electronics Show will feature a carrier throwdown that could make a big difference on your mobile phone bills. Along with announcements of new LTE markets, that will help loosen more subscribers from the other three major carriers' clutches. I suspect one of them might be the LG G Flex, which evleaks put out on Twitter about two weeks ago. If the carriers want to expand their subscriber base, it's time to plug in cars, pill bottles, and football helmets. Intel's new CEO, Brian Krzanich, has the prime keynote spot that was held by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer for many years. Here's what we expect to see in the cell phone world at the world's biggest technology show. The carrier also seems unusually willing to throw down with T-Mobile, given its willingness to pay up to $450 in rebates to pry its smaller rivals' subscribers loose.



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