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Showing posts from October, 2013

iPhone 5S Outsells 5c, Exactly As Expected

Apple is reported to be dropping orders for the colourful iPhone 5c as reports suggest that the iPhone 5S is outselling it by a ratio of three to one. This is either very good news for Apple, very bad news for Apple or, direct correlation to previous iPhone launches.

I'll give you a clue, it's almost certainly the third one, but no-one is talking about that because it doesn't make for dramatic headlines.

Previous iPhone launches have been followed by a very specific set of sales numbers. Its a trend that has been repeated in both 4S and 5 launches; and evidence would suggest that it's certainly happening now too.

In the first quarter that the new iPhone is available demand for the new phone is huge - Apple fans and those just wanting a new iPhone have been holding off for weeks, if not months waiting for the new king to arrive. That pent up demand is released and as a result sales are through the roof, tempered only by the restraint of supply. Given how good Apple has…

HTC One Max: Hefty, Tarnished, Crippled

It's not that the HTC One Max has been a particularly well kept secret, more that there was hope that it would turn out to be more than a bigger One with a ropey implementation of a fingerprint sensor.

Unfortunately that's exactly what it is.

If this is the kind of effort that HTC is relying on to save its bacon then I can tell you, its arse is already in the pan.

For a start the fingerprint sensor. After the elegant simplicity of the iPhone 5S implementation of biometric security it should have been patently obvious that the One Max was going to look ridiculous by comparison. Remove the thing or make it work properly - don't ship garbage in 2013 because nobody is going to accept it.

Other than that we have a bog standard HTC One, stripped of Beats Audio, and force-fed growth hormones. Add the Boomsound speakers to the 5.9" screen and you end up with something large enough to take the crease and expect to knock-up a half decent innings.

Given the success that Samsung…

Why I Bought A Lumia 1020

Phone upgrade time again. It has been a good year for innovative and desirable new phones. From the HTC One, with its refresh of Android interfaces and photo handling, through the Sony Xperia Z and its introduction of rugged to the mainstream, enhanced voice control on the Moto X, the fingerprint reader of the iPhone 5S and the greater stylus interactivity of the Galaxy Note 3.

Realistically though, there was only one phone that was going to get me to open my wallet: the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Whereas the other phones listed above are nice upgrades to what has gone before, the Lumia 1020 takes one area of smartphone use - photography - and blows the doors off everything that has come before.*

My smartphone use revolves around a few basic everyday staples: messaging (including social messaging); music, navigation, web browsing and photography. A smartphone that changes the game in one of those key areas was always going to be a must buy.

There are a few reasons why the Lumia may not suit y…

F1: Maria de Villota Dies In Spain

Former Marussia test driver has died at a hotel in Seville whilst on a tour to promote the launch of her autobiography.

The Spaniard, who survived a grave accident during straight line testing with the Marussia team last year, is reported to have died of natural causes at the age of 33.

There's little in de Villota's driving record to suggest she would have gained a F1 seat on merit - being the daughter of former F1 midfielder Emilio de Villota probably carried her further than talent did - but the same is true of other women in the sport, Suzie Wolfe and the last woman to race a F1 car Giovanna Amati.

What has been achieved by these women is to push back the boundaries to the point that a woman could achieve an F1 drive on talent alone.

Maria's will be most memorable for the way that she triumphed over adversity following the serious head injury and loss of her right eye after last years disastrous accident.

If her legacy is that drivers taking part in test sessions benefit fr…

Another Musician Whinging About Spotify

You'd think the music industry would have got the message that the world has moved on from the days when customers were gouged with expensive, poor quality product, sold via a cartel that dictated price, choice and popularity.

Of course the world has moved on from the days when ripping free music from Napster and Limewire was acceptable and the rise of services like Spotify have made this possible.

David Byrne is the latest to push the artist's message of poverty as a result of the low streaming payments made by Spotify (even though this argument has been completely discredited in the past).

Musicians need to understand the new world order. The days when the sales of music on album were a license to print money are gone. Its time to realise that earning money as a musician is going to require as much work as other industries.

And a good less time at self congratulatory awards shows.

Artists need to embrace multiple different income streams: Spotify, live shows and radio play being …

Curved Displays: You're Doing It Wrong

Sorry Samsung, but if there's one device that could have benefited from a curved display, it wasn't the phone you announced today. It seems like only yesterday that you announced the Galaxy Gear - a device crying out for some curved screen action and yet somehow lacking it.

If the technology was that close to production surely it could have been incorporated into your smart watch?

Now I realise that the actual capacity for bending these new displays is limited, but even a few degrees of display curve could have improved the way the Galaxy Gear hangs on the wrist.

Never mind, Samsung seems to have a pretty good understanding of the niches in the smartphone market, perhaps the Galaxy Round will prove to be its next big sleeper device.

Or perhaps not.

F1: Tyre Issues Back On The Agenda After Korean GP

Once again talk has turned to the decisions which have been made around F1's current standard tyres. Pirelli are in the firing line after a tyre failure on Sergio Perez's McLaren caused chaos and a safety car.

Pirelli blamed the failure on a lock-up from Perez, who flat spotted his front tyre braking into turn one, the tyre subsequently failing catastrophically not much further into the lap. Pirelli claims that the flat spot had burnt through the tyre's carcass causing the failure.

This reflects poorly on Pirelli, although it should really be cast as a failing of the sport's governing body, the FIA. Their insistence on tyres with short racing lives has meant that driver's are running closer to the limits of the tyre to gain a competitive advantage, directly causing incidents such as Perez's.

For 2014 it's imperative that this guidance is thrown out and Pirelli are allowed to build tyres which are both durable and performant.

Bringing us back to a position …

Hysteria Over Tesla Fire

Tesla's public image did a mini-implosion this week after one of its vehicles was filmed burning out. Share price collapsed and every man and his dog had an opinion about the safety of the vehicle's battery pack.

With all this knee-jerk reaction going on, a little time to examine the facts reveals a rather different story.

The Tesla in question struck a truck component, puncturing its battery pack and starting the fire. Its not unusual for petrol powered vehicles to catch fire after a petrol tank is punctured. However in the case of the Tesla there was no risk of an explosion as there would have been after a petrol tank ignited. And whilst firefighters allegedly struggled to put the fire out it didn't sound like it was much more than the similar difficulties they would have experienced had s diesel tank ignited.

In reality cars catch fire everyday. That the Tesla fire was the result of an impact rather than a component failure should have rendered the whole kerfuffle unne…

Revisionist History of Symbian

I've seen a number of articles on websites recently bemoaning the failure of Nokia and singing the praises of Symbian. I'm afraid to say the authors of these articles have either been living in a bubble for most of the last decade or a completely delusional.

Symbian has never been anything other than a limited system, with complicated user interfaces and poor control features. Even UIQ, aka Symbian Touch, was so far behind its contemporaries that it killed potentially great devices from Sony-Ericsson.

I've been tempted by three Symbian devices in the past, the N95, N8 and Pureview 808. With each its taken only a very short hands on with the device to realise that whatever the draw of the device the underlying weakness of Symbian made its ownership untenable.

Ask anyone who's had to manage a Nokia Symbian fleet on a Microsoft Exchange email platform if you want a story of frustration and disappointment. I know of one such network manager who went down his knees and pra…

Where Are The Cheap RT Tablets?

Cheap Android tablets are everywhere - even Tesco has its own device, on sale for less than US$200. HP, Amazon and an absolute army of no name Chinese devices are on offer. Even Google's latest Nexus is good value for money. At the same time Windows RT OEMs are abandoning the platform in droves.

Microsoft has clearly missed an opportunity here.

Windows RT is tough buy at Surface RT/Surface 2 asking prices. Yet the hardware and functionality of RT tablets closely matches that of those cheaper Android devices.

It shouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for Microsoft to find an OEM willing to drop a low-end RT device into the market for the purposes of growing market share. Maybe massaging the licensing costs to make for an achievable price point.

The success of the Nokia Lumia 520 clearly sign posts this as a way forward.

Perhaps the much leaked Nokia tablet is intended to fill this gap.

Either way Microsoft needs to start chalking up some RT numbers to get developers on …

Microsoft Courting HTC

HTC's problems don't seem likely to go away anytime soon. The recent loss of its patent trial with Nokia, ongoing falling revenues and now the company's first quarterly loss; put together this is starting to look like the beginning of the end for HTC.

Certainly if you map the paths of other mobile phone brands like Nokia, Motorola, Palm and Blackberry, a sequence of bad news is generally the first step on the road to a painful exit from the industry.

As I've discussed previously, HTC's position as a David amongst Goliaths is increasingly precarious. Despite releasing what has been lauded as the best phone of 2013 the company hasn't been able to arrest its slide towards oblivion.

News of talks with Microsoft are of significant interest to HTC watchers everywhere then. These aren't the talks of acquisition, rather about getting HTC back into the Windows Phone business, where its products have been lacklustre of late.

With the acquisition of Nokia due to comp…

What Were They Thinking?

Samsung have had something of a surprise hit with the Galaxy Note line. Remember how the usual suspects laughed when the original was launched? The device's popularity and the subsequent improvements in the second version make the Galaxy Note the number one device for users who aren't scared off by its size.The release of the Note 3 was awaited with great anticipation - even by those who had been suspicious of the concept. Samsung delivered too, bringing useful updates in screen size, memory and storage; new S-pen functionality and build quality.However if you are a traveller who needs to switch SIM cards regularly beware. Samsung have implemented a region lock to prevent users from moving devices across its regional operations boundaries.That means a UK bought device will work with European SIM cards but not American or Asian, for example.Its a crazy thing to do for a device that practically sells itself to global travellers. A decision which doesn't support any defence.I…