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In an emotional video being released today via the app, Jay-Z gives a personal look into how his own experiences growing up has served as the impetus for the song about his daughter, “Jay-Z Blue.”
Meet the world’s thinnest smartphone, the Umeox X5. But, for how long?
The last handset to hold the record, Huawei’s Ascend P6, did so for just seven days before it was knocked off its perch.
Proving that a week is a very long time in technology, it has taken just seven days for a company to launch a phone to rival the Huawei Ascend P6, which, when launched on June 18, was done so alongside the claim of being the world’s thinnest smartphone. And, at a mere 6mm thick, it really was a record breaker. The Samsung Galaxy SIV is a whopping 7.9mm and the iPhone 5 a far from svelte 7.6mm in comparison.
However, fellow Chinese phonemaker Umeox has just gone one better with the X5, which at 5.6mm thick is now the world’s thinnest smartphone, stealing the title from Huawei and relegating the its handset into second place.
In terms of internal specifications, the Umeox X5 offers a 5.3-inch touchscreen, a dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 3-megapixel front-facing camera, and will come with the latest version of Android pre-installed.
So although it beats the Huawei on physical dimensions, the Ascend P6 still has more under the hood, namely a quad-core processor, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera to complement its 8-megapixel rear-facing unit.
The first reviews of the Ascend P6 have been overwhelmingly positive in terms of form, build quality and attention to detail, however, despite these aesthetic touches, underneath is a well-put-together mid-range handset. And with very similar specifications, expect the X5 to offer similar performance, albeit in a very slightly slimmer package.
However, while internal specifications and standout applications are gaining importance in mature smartphone markets as a way of differentiating handsets, particularly those that run the Android operating system where competition is rife and where most handsets appear almost identical from the outside, in China, a market that, while still in its infancy, has just overtaken the US to become the world’s biggest market for handsets, the thickness of a device is of equal importance to the number of processor cores or the amount of built-in RAM.
And while Umeox is yet to confirm specifics — such as screen resolution or battery life — it has confirmed that the X5 will be coming to Europe as well as China and is expected to go on sale in France this summer before launching across the rest of the continent.
And as the Chinese market and Chinese handset makers both continue to grow in importance, expect more and more devices to arrive on the market in the coming months claiming to be the thinnest or lightest.
In an unexpected move, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart has exited his post as Epic Records’ president of A&R to concentrate on producing. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer joined the label in that role in October 2011. There was no word at press time as to whether a successor will be named to fill Stewart’s A&R post.
“It’s real simple,” Stewart tells Billboard.biz. “I really want to get back into the studio; I miss making records too much. At the end of the day, that’s my No. 1 passion. I want to always give 100% to everything I do. To do both these jobs, I would need to give 200%. To be the best record person I can be is for me to be working in the studio.”
Stewart adds that his RedZone Records (whose roster includes singer Bryan J and trio Watch the Duck) remains affiliated with Epic and that he will continue to produce Epic artists.
“There’s no difference in the working relationship between myself and L.A.,” says Stewart, who also heads the publishing/label/studio enclave RedZone Entertainment through which he has discovered and developed such talents as singer/songwriters Ester Dean, the-Dream and Frank Ocean.
“Nothing has changed beyond the fact that I will be in the studio making records hands-on,” Stewart says. “I’ll still be working significantly with the Epic family.”
During his Epic A&R watch, Stewart oversaw the “Think Like a Man” soundtrack (the set has sold 146,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan), upcoming albums by Ciara and Wallpaper, as well as Quadron’s “Avalanche,” recently released through Sylvia Rhone’s Epic-distributed Vested In Culture.
In a statement given to Billboard, Epic chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid said, “Tricky Stewart is and always will be a very special friend and one of the most talented people people in our industry. I completely support his decision to return to the studio full time.”
Stewart’s departure is the latest in a series of executive changes at Epic. Both COO Mark Shimmel and senior VP of promotion Erik Olesen left the label in January following Reid’s decision last December to not return as a judge on “X Factor.” Former exec. Vice president of marketing Angelica Cob-Baehler exitedin August 2012 after less than a year in the post. Most recently, Michael “Sha Money XL” Clervoix was named exec. VP of urban A&R for Epic (billboard.biz, May 13, 2013). He’d previously served as senior VP of A&R for Island Def Jam.
Stewart, whose career credits include such hits as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” exits his A&R post as Epic works to build its market share. Among current album sales, the label’s market share stands at 0.90% through June 23, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A year ago at this point (June 24, 2012), Epic’s share was 1.81%. To compare, its sister Sony labels Columbia and Sony Music Nashville stand at 6.43% and 2.69%, respectively, year to date.
Epic finished 2012 with 1.53% market share of current album sales — a growth over the previous year (1.29%), though down from 2010 (2.18%). (Reid arrived at Epic in July of 2011, nine months after former president Amanda Ghost exited.)
Epic’s top selling album of 2012 was Future’s “Pluto” (245,000), followed by the Fray’s “Scars & Stories” (217,000), Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…” (205,000) and Michael Jackson’s “Number Ones” (165,000). This year, Epic’s biggest seller isn’t a new release; it’s Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller,” with 84,000.
So far in 2013, Epic has debuted three new single-artist driven albums on the Billboard 200 chart: Marcus Canty’s debut EP “This is Marcus Canty,” Joe Satriani’s “Unstoppable Momentum,” and the Quadron set. Other albums on deck for the label: Sara Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest” (July 16), Karmin’s upcoming full-length Epic debut, singer/songwriter Bonnie McKee’s debut album, and X Factor girl group Fifth Harmony’s debut.