Week in Tech: Origami batteries, Fire sales, and how YouTube dealt Flash a lethal blow

Samsung gears up and Bill Gates is back in the game

Week in Tech

For a firm that says it doesn't care about money, Apple's awfully good at collecting it: this week it announced the largest corporate profit in history and plans to open an Apple Store on the moon. Only half of that is untrue. While iPhones fly off the shelves Amazon's having trouble shifting its ill-fated Fire phone, Samsung's gearing up for a whole bunch of new launches and boffins are bending phones like idiots in Apple Stores.

Apple's bigger than everything

Apple's latest financial results are in, and the numbers are bigger than ever: Apple has so much money that could build its fancy new campus out of gold and rubies. As Michael Rougeau reports, iPhone sales were up year on year from 51 million per quarter to 74.5 million (thanks to the upgrade-worthy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus), total revenues were up 30%, and Apple now holds the record for the biggest corporate profit in history.

Could Apple's next hit be the Apple Watch? We don't have long to wait: Apple's wearable is going to start shipping in April, and of course we've collated all the latest news, rumours and wild speculation for your excitement and delightment.

Amazon's Fire sale

Apple has been struggling to meet iPhone demand, and Amazon hasn't the faintest idea of how that feels: its Fire phone is so unpopular that Amazon is almost giving it away with breakfast cereals to get rid of the damn things. The price is now just £99, but as Desire Athow points out, that doesn't mean it's a bargain: "We gave it a 2.5 star score when we reviewed it," Athow says, which means that "most smartphones out there are probably a better buy."

So much Samsung stuff

Apple's arch-rival Samsung posted its own financial results this week, and they weren't great: revenues from smartphones and other mobile devices were down 64% year on year after a fifth consecutive month of decline. The firm is still wildly profitable, of course, but it's clearly being hammered by cheap rivals at the low end and Apple at the high end.

Samsung isn't taking that lying down, and it's preparing a flood of new devices. The incoming Galaxy S6 is shaping up to be the best Galaxy yet, and leaks are beginning to become a flood. One of the most interesting leaks suggests that the S6 will get an e-ink case that turns the Galaxy S6 into a Kindle-style ebook reader, rather like the inspired (but flawed) Yotaphone 2.

That's not all. The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 hit the UK in a matter of weeks as reasonably priced budget smartphones, and the new Galaxy J1 will target the cheapies that are causing so much irritation to Samsung in Asia.

Flex appeal

We've seen the future, and it's bendier than an iPhone 6 Plus after 15 minutes with Yuri Geller. South Korean firm Jenax has unveiled a new flexible battery it calls J.Flex that can be scrunched, twisted, flattened, rolled or folded, and it's designed for the next wave of wearable devices. The firm suggests that a J.Flex battery could make a pretty good watch strap, or even clothing.

Maybe J.Flex will get together with LG, whose LG Chem division has created a bendy OLED that's bendier than any bendy screen we've seen so far. LG Chem is a business-to-business supplier, so its screens may end up in non-LG devices. Then again, LG's the only firm really embracing bananaphones so far, and its latest LG G Flex 2 is a big improvement on its predecessor: it's more comfortable, and its clever self-healing material fixes itself more quickly.

Everything ends

It's been a big week for goodbyes. Sony's kicked Music Unlimited to the kerb, teaming up with Spotify instead; YouTube has binned Flash, making HTML 5 video the default and hammering yet another nail into Flash's coffin; and Microsoft appears to have turned Windows RT into glue as it kills off the non-Pro Microsoft Surface line altogether. Was Windows RT bad, mad or just misunderstood? Our money's on a combination of all three.

Bill Gates and his Microsoft mates

You'd think Bill Gates' days were packed enough with saving the world and drinking water made from human poo, but no! He's been working on new technology too. During a Reddit AMA the Microsoft founder teased readers about a secret project called Personal Agent. Think Cortana evolved: it will "remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to", working across apps and devices. As Michael Rougeau says, "this is very exciting indeed."

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