Showing posts from January, 2013

iPad Market Share Dropping, Sales Rising

Looks like the introduction of the iPad Mini failed to stop the decline in Apple's share of the tablet market - although the iPad remains dominant in the sector for the first time its also looking like the competition has eroded customer's iPad-only mindset and as a result Android tablets have outsold Apple's.

The report from IDC puts Samsung in second place in the market, shipping a healthy 7.9 million tablets, compared to Apple's 22.9 - a similar ratio to the smartphone market around two years ago and we all know what happened there.

In terms of market share IDC rates Apple at 43.6% - the only question now is how much did constrained supply affect Apple's sales last quarter. And of those customers who couldn't get iPads how many bought something else rather than waiting?

Blackberry 10 Launched, But Will It Survive?

After what seems like an interminable delay Blackberry 10 arrived yesterday, along with new handsets and a ditching of the RIM name. General  perception from those who've had hands on time is that the OS catches up to where iOS and Android were six months ago and doesn't add anything new to the mix. That may be enough to keep current Blackberry users in the fold, but will it attract users from their iPhones and Galaxies? I suspect not.

This means real trouble for Blackberry. As the market grows its market share will shrink if it can't bring new users into the platform, if its market share shrinks then developers will be unlikely to target the platform for those big name or high demand apps that users actually want.

The same problem current affects Windows Phone, however both Microsoft and Nokia are plunging huge resources into assisting developers get new apps out. Against this the $10m that Blackberry has set aside to support developers looks very light.

With iOS and And…

FCC Outs New Apple TV

Apple's next gen Apple TV doesn't look like its far from an official announcement after it was outed by the FCC. Specs point to a slightly smaller unit with a new processor and wireless antenna.

Interestingly, as part of yesterday's iOS 6.1 update the Apple TV gained support for Bluetooth keyboards. Useful for typing searches into the media control front end, but surely overkill for just that purpose?

Putting two and two together (and possibility reaching eight!) my feeling is that the Apple TV is about to get a but of a capability boost in its next iteration. Which is a good thing. For what is a pretty good product with huge amounts of potential to disrupt the established tech in the living room market, Apple hasn't really pushed forward with the TV. In that time Microsoft have made the Xbox a better product for things other than games and Google has launched a competitive product too. Even Sony seems to have been working on the PS3 to boost its home entertainment cr…

Amazon's Financials Compared to Apple

Here's an interesting contrast in how the stock market views company performance. Amazon's financial results for the last quarter were big on revenue - more than $21bn, up 22%, - but poor on profits, a comparitively measly $97m. The company also suggested that next quarter would probably be tighter, even warning of a potential loss for the period. Whilst sales are growing and the company is positioning it self well for the future, its not the sort of thing that would make you go gangbusters for Amazon stock. In overnight trading after the announcement Amazon jumped 11% as a result of this earnings call.
Apple's numbers were nothing short of amazing in comparison, $54bn in revenue and $13bn in profit, both record performance for the company. Apple also suggested that if it had been able to ship more kit sales could have measurably higher. Currently Apple's stock is down fropm $700 to around $450 - with some suggesting $325 as a likely resting place for the share price.

Ars Technica: How Newegg Crushed the "Shopping Cart" Patent and Saved Online Retail

Good story on how Newegg stood up for its principles, downed a patent troll that has been raking in tens of millions of dollars using invalid patents and the US's terrible handling of patent law. The result means the end for the troll, although whether companies that were stung prior to this invalidation will be able to reclaim their money remains to be seen. Amazon is out by upwards of $40m...How Newegg crushed the “shopping cart” patent and saved online retail | ArsTechnica

F1: Pay Drivers Back With A Bang

F1 has always had its share of pay drivers - those who get a seat purely because of the money they bring to a team in sponsorship. Sometimes those drivers pull off a surprise when they turn out to have some skills to back the money up - Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado are two recent examples.

However with the world in financial meltdown we have reached a point when an already small grid is so littered with drivers bringing a budget that we are losing talented drivers at a faster rate than at any time in history. In the last few weeks we've lost Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen to make room for pay drivers, whilst popular Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi was unable to find a seat despite raising around $1m from fan donations after losing his drive at Sauber. HRT's failure further reduced the number of seats available, although the teams failure to perform probably restricted them to pay drivers only anyway.
F1 can't claim to be the pinnacle of motorsport when some of the w…

Chromebook Sales Growing, But Google Could Push It Into The Mainstream

Acer has just announced a huge jump in sales of its Google Chromebooks, accounting for at least 5% of the company US laptop sales. It's a surprise, but a pleasant one for Google. With both Lenovo and HP announcing that they will be selling Chromebooks its looking very much like the cloud OS has arrived, albeit in a small way.

However Google has really got an opportunity to hurt Microsoft's Windows 8 sales and probably put a dent into MacBook sales too. The launch of a Nexus Chromebook could have the same effect on sales as the launch of the Nexus 7, which sent Android tablet sales rocketing, even if it was a response to the Kindle Fire's success.

My vision for the Chromebook Nexus would be a hybrid device, running both Android and ChromeOS, merging the best options for online and offline operation into one device. If it were to come together in a Transformer-style device allowing laptop to tablet conversion we'd be talking about the genesis of a new model for portable …

Nokia Announces Cut Price Music Subscriptions

Nokia's free Music app has been one of the differentiators that the company has used to separate its Lumias from other Windows Phones. Providing radio-style streaming of curated playlists its been an excellent addition to the Windows Phone fold.Now the service is about to take a forward leap and start competing with Spotify and other services - including XBox Music. The subscription / download model is pretty much the same as that employed elsewhere, however the €4 Monthly price tag is a significantly better entry point than any of the competition. Spotify asks £10 per month for its service, Microsoft £89 per annum.Music+ as the service will be known, looks like a winner based on price and capability, although being restricted to Nokia's own devices somewhat narrows the market.Still a good effort from the Finns and, if it makes it across to Auckland, something I will be definitely adding to my Lumia.

The Rising Cost of Healthcare

The BBC has an interesting article drawing on the discussions at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Its main thrust is that healthcare costs are driving the current economic downturn in the West. It claims that healthcare costs in the US amount to 20% of all government spending, whilst most European countries are spending around half of that treating the sick, elderly and infirm.

There should be little that is surprising in the article, healthcare costs are high because of social and government failures in keeping the population well. Never more has the old axiom 'an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure' been more appropriate than today. More so when Government austerity measures are all but designed to increase the healthcare burden through their social impact.

The greatest part of healthcare spending goes to treating chronic care conditions - and many of those conditions are preventable, most at next to no cost, some at minimal cost. Take three of the more …

Whither RIM in 2013?

RIM hasn't had a great time of it late, with sales to enterprises falling, sales to consumers static and the smartphone market blowing up all around them. The failure of its tablet to make an impact doesn't point to a bright and rosy future either.

However, to credit the Canadians, they've stuck it out, pushing a couple of reasonable holding upgrades to their OS and kept the Playbook on the shelves despite having to write back the price significantly. And first glimpses of Blackberry 10 seem to have garnered positive responses. The launch of BES 10 suggests that the new phones aren't far away either. Adding support for other phones to BES looks like an interesting move too.

Now the company is alleged to be plotting an expensive Superbowl ad to launch the new OS and its first handset sporting the shiny new software. On top of this I've seen some whispers that Lenovo are interested in taking control - if true it moves Blackberry back into a position where it still m…

How Much PC Do You Need? Maybe None At All

Since arriving in Auckland I've flip-flopped between the three phones that I brought with me - each has its own good reasons for being my daily driver. There's been no such confusion over my main computing - despite having my MacBook Air, Acer Timeline and iPad Mini with me the only device I'm using is the Transformer Prime.

The flexibility of the Prime is its winning feature here - when I need a tablet its a tablet, when I need a keyboard its a laptop and when I need phenomenal battery life its able to deliver. With keyboard dock attached I'm able to spend a busy day away from the mains and still have enough in the tank to do at least one more comfortably. It doesn't hurt that the Prime's keyboard is excellent and having a battery means that's its heavy enough to maintain the correct balance without having to resort to kick stands.

Android has come far enough that its possible to complete all my computing tasks on the Prime. In fact in that respect its a …

The Guardian: Apple Has Lost Its Cultural Clout

Its a rarity, an article about Apple in the Guardian with even the merest hint of criticism, but this piece from Heidi Moore makes some good points about the problems facing Apple going forward. Without Steve Jobs there's been a lack of innovation - Apple has been restricted to two technology strategies - 'add more pixels' or 'change its size' - neither is conducive to ongoing growth of the type that financiers look for.Of course Apple does have one product in its line up which is crying out for further development - Apple TV, which is only a couple of developments away from iPad-style financial greatness. This could be the set top box that brings Apple into the potentially very profitable position of being in everyone's living room. A position it currently cedes to Microsoft of all people. But with better games, connectivity and online options that Xbox just can't match at the moment Tim Cook is sitting on the product that could make his name.All he has to…

Windows Phone: Its All About The Missing Apps

Microsoft's most recent update to its mobile OS added lots of nice features and opened up some of the hardware limits that previously restricted WP7 devices. Unfortunately the biggest problem for Windows Phone isn't Windows Phone, its the missing applications. Microsoft and their cheerleaders will tell you that 98% of the 100 most popular apps are already on the platform. The problem is that 98% of the remaining app catalogue is missing. And whilst there are usually equivalent tools, for some services there can only be the official app.

Most banks apps are missing. I would strongly recommend avoiding any unofficial banking apps - unless you like losing all your money of course. There are other areas where there are gaps too - and lots of them.

Its a long tail problem - of the million or so mobile apps in existence about 1% ever achieve wider public recognition, Angry Birds is the current poster boy. However the real meat of the problem for Microsoft is that there are apps out…

iPad Sales Go Crazy

Apple's financial results were announced today - you'll find plenty of discussion on what they mean and some meaningless analysis of how the stock market has reacted on plenty of sites. However the impressive takeaway from the call was the sheer volume of iPads that shipped over the holidays.

In the 91 day period covered by the call Apple chipped close to 23 million iPads of various models, or to put it another way a quarter of a million of the things each and every day. I'm guessing that even with Amazon and Google posting gangbusters on Nexus and Kindle tablet sales this is going to amount to a bounce in Apple's tablet share, which has fallen in consecutive quarters.

Whilst Apple didn't break down the split of iPad models that were sold its pretty easy to guess where all that growth came from. Overall Apple's revenue grew by a significant chunk in quarter, but profits only slightly so. The net result was a fairly drastic fall in margin (45% to 38%). The only …

Samsung Prevails in the Land of the Long White Cloud

Naturally one of the things that I've been looking at since arriving in New Zealand is the tech landscape. In a country far removed from both Europe and America what would that look like?

Turns out that its a hugely smartphone centric market. The only time I've seen a dumbphone has been on the video reel that plays on the Downtown to Devenport Ferry.

Otherwise everyone appears to have a smartphone and the prevalent brand is Samsung, who I'd estimate own 70-80% of the market based on what I've seen. Apple is a distant second and other than a smattering of Blackberries nothing else gets a look in. No HTCs, no Nokias, no LGs or Sonys.

As far as tablets are concerned Apple turns the tables, with the iPad dominant. Galaxy Tabs are definitely a popular second place though and once again the competition is nowhere.

I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or not. Does the 'two towers' market drive innovation or stifle it? I haven't investigated the retails experi…

This is Auckland Calling

So we moved around the world. But even with a quarter of a tonne baggage allowance (yes, really) there's only so much tech you can justify carrying on an aeroplane. Especially when you've got to get through security clearance.

I narrowed down my travel kit to a few essentials. My MacBook Air 11 and iPad Mini made it onto the plane with me, whilst my Transformer Prime and Acer Timeline were entrusted to the hold. I could only narrow down my phone choice to three, one on my person and two in the baggage (what do you mean that seems excessive?) For entertainment I carried my PS Vita - gaming quality is just a different league from a phone or tablet.

On arrival the first job was to track down local SIM cards with data - best deal seemed to be a Vodafone prepay (difficult to sign a contract with no address or bank cards) which offered 250MB of data with a $20 top-up. Great! Except that Android's super helpful automated tasks caught me out. Google+ and the gallery app ate throug…