Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Monday, 16 January 2017
Android has one perceived weak spot when compared to iOS or Windows 10 Mobile: system updates. Whilst Apple manages to pump out new iOS versions to at least the last four generations of iPhone and Microsoft delivers new Windows 10 updates on an almost monthly basis, Android buyers face a more uncertain future.
Or do they?
Android OEMs need to speed up the rate at which they deliver upgrades once Google makes them available, but in terms of the number of updates they're delivering they're doing just fine.
Sunday, 15 January 2017
Friday, 13 January 2017
2016 was the fifth consecutive year of declining PC sales, with the market having shrunk back to 2007 levels. In those five years sales have fallen by almost 25% compared to 2011’s all-time sales record of 353 million units.
About the only good news is that 2016’s decline was less than 2015’s. The overall effect is more pain for PC manufacturers.
Lenovo edged out HP as the number one seller, with Dell in a comfortable third place. All three increased their share of the market, with the top three being responsible for 56% of all sales. Unsurprising based on their high-volume, low profit enterprise sales focus.
For the remaining players things look bleak. Worst hit is Acer – number two in sales as recently as 2010, the company has seen volume fall from 48m to 18m – accounting for almost half the fall off in sales all by itself. Apple managed to outshrink the overall market too – although higher selling prices mostly offset the pain.
With the market continuing to shrink (and far below IDC’s 2012 forecast of 500m sales in 2016) it seems all the more likely that vendors are going to have to follow Apple’s lead and trade volume for profitability. The only problem is that customers looking to buy premium will usually plump for an Apple device. However being able to target some premium niches (games machines for example) is allowing some OEMs to take a slice of the high value pie.
Predictions for the PC market in 2017 are dangerous – the uncertainties caused by 2016’s political upheavals don’t suggest large investments in new technology from enterprises and more caution on the part of consumers.
That certainly doesn’t suggest a return to growth to me.
It's so long since HTC managed to bring a device to market that generated genuine customer interest I'm seriously doubting it is something which could ever happen again.
Evidence for this arrived today in the form of the new HTC U Ultra. A phone that appears to be the product of a company with no direction. Or clue.
HTC seems to have borrowed design decisions from as many rivals as possible, without considering whether they work either individually or together.
Most visible is the secondary display of the LG V10. Original, if ultimately futile, on the LG V range. Pretty lame here. Then mix in the glass / metal sandwich from (amongst others) the Galaxy S7 and finally leave the headphone jack out off. A famously unpopular feature of the iPhone 7.
Then there are the mistakes that HTC has managed to make all on its own. For a start, its an enormous device, yet its battery is comparatively small. That's bad for battery life (between charges) and battery life (charge cycles).
To add insult to injury, the U Ultra sports a non-standard USB-C audio setup, complete with headphones that won't work with anything else. Exactly the sort of thing that Apple gets dinged for and HTC shouldn't be allowed to escape without sanction.
So what HTC have delivered is a phone without any real HTC-ness, which from the front apes a largely unsuccessful LG phone and from the back mimics a rather more successful Samsung one. As a new flagship device it's rather disappointing.
HTC also announced its intention to reduce the number of smartphones it releases this year. That's an eminently sensible decision given the last few years of disappointment. Retreating to a niche and building phones for its remaining loyal fans might just allow the HTC name to live on as more than a contract manufacturer for Google. I'm struggling to see the new U that HTC is aiming its phones at otherwise.
Thursday, 12 January 2017
I have never met anyone who owned an LG smartphone. In fact I can't recall ever seeing anyone using an LG smartphone. Despite delivering some interesting devices, with leading edge features, the company seems unable to get any kind of traction in the smartphone business.
LG is hardly a name likely to get pulses racing. It has no currency outside of its native South Korean home. To gain some credibility it needs to do more than just deliver quality devices, it needs to back them up with a sustained, global marketing push which makes a virtue of their capabilities and presents them as a valid alternative to Samsung.
The G5 is a perfect example of why LG isn't a safe buy. Its modular design and ability to swap in 'Friends' modules sounds promising. Except LG hardly delivered any and third parties were completely disinterested. LG canned the idea and the G6 won't offer modules.
Now imagine if Apple's next iPhone has this capability. It would be sold from the get go as the greatest offering in mobile since ever. Apple would have a handful of first-party options available at launch and favoured third-parties would be allowed to join the launch party. One year on we'd be drowning in 'iFriends' modules and wondering how it was possible to live without them.
Without any consumer recognition or any brand loyalty, LG has no future building smartphones. It's a left field choice, too far out in left-field even for my taste, and before you even consider an LG phone you've got to go through a whole gamut of more sensible options: Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, HTC, even Motorola sit ahead of LG. I'd even say that Asus has a better smartphone placement than LG.
It says something that Galaxy Note 7 owners were prepared to keep hold of a potentially explosive phone rather than replace it with one of LG's offerings.
The smartphone market is maturing and sales are stagnant, if not falling. For a company on the fringes you have to wonder whether there's any value in carrying on.