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Friday Briefing: Samsung Ousts Nokia and RIM’s Survival Strategy

As I mentioned last week, from now on I’m following in Louis Basenese’s footsteps for Friday. I’ll skip the lengthier tech articles and instead, piece together a brief sampling of a few technology trends I’m following closely right now.

Hence the name: Friday Briefing.

Remember, though, once you’re done getting your weekly dose of tech, take a second to weigh in on the proceeding survey that lets us know which story has you tuned in most. That way we can get to know our readers a bit more, and it could lead to an expanded article in the coming week.

Enough exposition. Here’s today’s Briefing…

Tech Trend #1: Samsung Inching Closer to Global Smartphone Domination

Last Friday, Samsung (LON: BC94) reported an 82% jump in profits over the first quarter of last year, while revenue climbed 22%. The company’s successful foray into the smartphone market can be thanked for much of the boost, considering that mobile devices now account for around 75% of its profits.

And according to The Wall Street Journal, “The operating profit margin of Samsung’s telecom unit reached 18.4%, the highest level since 2004, and the unit accounted for half of the broader company’s sales.”

Last year, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) claimed the title as the world’s top smartphone vendor. But now, Strategy Analytics reports that Samsung and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) both left the Finnish company in the dust, with 30.6% and 24.1% of the marketshare for smartphone shipments, respectively.

Samsung’s growth shouldn’t slow down anytime soon, either. Especially now that the company has just unveiled its latest flagship device, the Galaxy S III, which Samsung mobile’s VP expects “to be our most successful smartphone ever.” And he might not be exaggerating, since early tests by Anandtech’s Brian Klug indicate that the device beats the iPhone 4S when it comes to graphics performance.

Tech Trend#2: Queen’s University Bringing “Star Wars” Tech to Life

Get pumped, “Star Wars” fans! Researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University have developed what could one day evolve into a real life holoterminal. Essentially, this “telepod” is a cylindrical display that can project a person into a room. Not just a 2-D image, mind you, but an entire 3-D representation of that person, in real time.

It works by surrounding the person who’s being beamed into the room with four Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Kinect sensors. These capture a detailed 3-D image of the body. Then a 3-D projector blasts the image onto the inside of the display. The finishing touch involves six more Kinect sensors around the top of the display. These track the viewer as he walks around the screen, and the projector will show the appropriate angle.

Unfortunately, this also means that all people in the room will see the same perspective of the image, regardless of where they’re standing. So it might have a long way to go before it reaches holoterminal technical standards. But as DVice’s Evan Ackerman says, “This is one more virtual step in the right direction.”

Tech Trend #3: RIM Takes a Cue From Microsoft

Last month, I commented on Microsoft’s plan to get app developers to bring their applications over the to the Windows Phone Marketplace. In short, the company agreed to foot the bill for developers.

At the time I said, “My first reaction after seeing this was to laugh. I mean, even beleaguered Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) hasn’t resorted to bribery. But on second thought, this type of strategy could have helped keep the BlackBerry maker above water. After all, it demonstrates that Microsoft realizes it has a problem, admits it and is taking initiative to solve the issue as quickly as possible.”

Looks like RIM is taking my advice.  The company showed off its new BB10 operating system at the BlackBerry World conference this week. And while it didn’t exactly impress investors (shares have tanked 16% this week) it’s taking steps to ensure that BlackBerry loyalists will have their fair share of apps when the new platform launches in the fall.

Namely, the company’s VP of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, said that developers who offer applications in BlackBerry App World are guaranteed to collect a first-year minimum of $10,000 for each quality app that’s submitted. If they fall short, RIM plans to make up the difference.

It’s a bold move, to be sure. And it shows that the company’s making a huge bet on the popularity of its upcoming software overhaul. Let’s hope it pays off. As one more misstep could be the company’s last.

Cast Your Vote!

Let us know which topic interested you the most…

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One more thing. Take a minute to find out why Louis is about to partake in a grueling, 11-mile obstacle course next Saturday, and how you can support this very worthy cause.

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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