Showing posts from October 15, 2014

Apple Planning On Entering Bargain Basement With Beats

If the jungle drums are to believed, Apple is about to go bargain basement with its Beats streaming service and drop the price (in the US at least) to $5 a month - undercutting every other music service out there.
It's so unlike Apple to compete on price that it's worth reviewing what potential benefits Apple could realise from such a land grab.
Currently Spotify has number one status in the music rental market worldwide. That's not just subscriber numbers, but in mind share too. Whilst there are lesser services that offer radio style playlist streaming, in terms of open access to a music catalogue Spotify is top dog.
Google and Microsoft both have competitive services, but Beats is a bit of an outlier. It's not widely available and it's synonomous with a certain style of music (even if it offers the complete range of music). Beats uses people to create curated playlists - which users say work much better than the technology driven matching of other services.

Why The Smartphone Industry Needs Fanboys

iSheep and Fandroids. Same-sung, Crapple and Micro$oft. The invective thrown around when two or more internet users gather to discuss phones, computers and operating systems can get far more extreme than just basic name calling. Most people will quite correctly treat this as the rantings of those with too much time or too little intelligence on their hands.

However, both the companies involved and you as a customer need these crazy voices on the edge of reason, because you are financially and emotionally invested in the products you use.

Unlike a car, where the brand you buy need not be influenced by any other factor than what you like; a smartphone or computer purchase requires the consideration of other factors if you aren't to be left with a redundant device and a hopelessly sunk investment. Imagine if your car could only run on Ford, Fiat or Ferrari petrol. Your journey is completely reliant on petrol stations stocking your particular brand of fuel. For companies with limited …

Windows 10 Preview Update

I've been running the technical preview of Windows 10 as my 'sort of' main operating system for around two weeks now. That is, whilst I'm using my Surface Pro for all of my paid consultancy work, my HP laptop is covering everything else.

Two weeks in I've been very impressed. The HP is the sort of machine which is a nightmare scenario on Windows 8.1. It has a trackpad, no touch screen and is designed to be used in desktop mode. Windows 8.1 is better than Windows 8 in this respect but never really presents a comfortable transition between desktop and Start Menu.

Windows 10 is altogether more polished. When in desktop mode you are in desktop mode. It's as if Windows 8 never happened. Yes, the Start Menu is back bringing with it Microsoft's modern style interface in a much better interpretation of live tiles for a desktop environment.

Reliability has been pretty good so far. I found that Windows Explorer would crash when used to view images from a folder on O…

iPhones Up, iPads Down, What Can We Learn From Apple's Latest Quarter

Apple had a record Q4 for iPhone sales, shipping just shy of 40 million of them in the three months ending September 30th. Given that the iPhone had a record first weekend - 10 million according to Apple's figures - that wasn't a surprise. There's no breakdown of how the sales looked per device, but it's safe to say that the majority of those phones were the iPhone 6 model.

What isn't clear from these sales numbers is that iPhone sales growth is slowing. In the same quarter in previous years Apple sold 17m (2011), 26.9m (2012) and 33.8m (2013). The rate of growth year on year is 58%, 26% and 18%. Given that this year's iPhone represents the biggest update since the iPhone 3G that's not such good news for Apple. Next quarter will need to be a massive one for the iPhone. For Q1 (which includes the busy holiday season) growth has been 131%, 29% and 8% respectively. For Apple to match Q1 2013 performance it will need to have sold at least 56 million iPhones by…

Apple TV, What Happened?

I've long been an advocate of the Apple TV, even with all of its faults and problems. The potential of the platform is far greater than Apple seems to realise. That can be the only explanation for Apple's continued neglect of this landmark product.

Last week Apple once more missed out the Apple TV from its big unveiling, instead focusing on a couple of ho-hum iPad upgrades and a screen bump on an iMac. Disappointing.

And whilst Apple has been contemplating its navel (as far as the Apple TV is concerned) Sony and Google have both shipped products that do what it does much better and add the ability to play games from the Play Store and PS Vita Store respectively.

The Nexus Player looks like the pick of Google's Lollipop announcement, the sleek black player every bit as beautiful as the Apple TV, and having lagged behind in the past with some fairly dubious attempts to gain space in the living room, the Nexus Player looks like a breakthrough product.

Right now, in a complet…

Apple Makes An Example Of Fitbit: Integrate Or Die

As with the ejection of Bose hardware from Apple Stores was a move to further bolster performance of Apple's new Beats brand, so the news that Fitbit is getting the same treatment shows that Apple has its eyes on a bigger prize - and it's not just Fitbit that is going to suffer.

It isn't just as simple as removing a competitor for the Apple Watch from the market. Actually for the next couple of years Apple needs to encourage competitors devices into the market. No, Fitbit's crime is that it has failed to jump on the Healthkit bandwagon and as a result its devices threaten Apple's long term domination of the health information market.

And that is what Apple's Watch and Healthkit are all about.

Here's the scenario. Fitness band manufacturers are being encouraged (some would say blackmailed, given the Fitbit case) to integrate with Healthkit. In the short term this probably looks very attractive to those manufacturers, they can do away with much of the respon…

UK Proposed Troll Legislation Doesn't Make Sense In Light Of Finnegan/Madeley Meltdown

Over the years we've seen numerous examples of what the press likes to call 'trolling', the online bullying and threatening by comments and messages, that has become much more prevalent and visible since Twitter became popular.

The UK government has begun a process to ensure that those guilty of this abuse receive a stiff sentence and in the last few days has suggested that the maximum penalty by law for this 'crime' will be increased from six months to two years.

Currently the media has focused on this issue due to the Ched Evans, Judy Finnegan, Chloe Finnigan debacle that is running its course right now.

Evans is a professional footballer who was found guilty of the rape of a teenage girl and sentenced to five years in prison. His expected release after just two and a half years has prompted protests from football fans warning clubs not to offer him a new contract.

There are some interesting questions here. Is five years an appropriate punishment for the offence…

F1: Closed Cockpits Are Not The Right Response To Bianchi Accident

There has been much talk about investigating closed cockpits for F1 cars following the terrible accident that befell Jules Bianchi in Suzuka a fortnight ago. And whilst closed cockpits certain add a degree of protection for some accident types it's unlikely they would have prevented the injuries which have left the French driver in a critical condition.

The problem in this accident was the violent and sudden deceleration of Bianchi's head - restrained by the HANS device - which could not be matched by the brain inside the head. Bianchi's brain will have suffered a heavy impact his skull, which is what lead to the widespread brain injury. This is different from the injury suffered by Michael Schumacher, for example, where the injury was caused by an impact to the head causing bleeding inside the cranial cavity.

The HANS device may sound like it's the problem, but actually the restraint is probably the only thing that has allowed Jules to continue fighting for so long. …

Using A Tablet As A Camera Is Just Ridiculous

Cameras in tablets have started to approach those of mid-range smartphones in quality and pixel density, but if you use one to take snaps you're seriously misunderstanding the whole camera/phone dichotomy.

A smartphone camera is never going to approach a dedicated camera for capability or functionality. Image quality is always going to be better using a camera rather than using a phone. Even the daddy of all smartphone cameras - the massive 41mp Pureview sensor on the back of the Lumia 1020 can't compete with anything better than a mid-range compact. And that phone is far and away the best phone for taking pictures available today.

So why do we take billions of photos a day on our phones?

It's the old adage 'the best camera you have is the one you have with you' coming into play. We have our phones with us 24/7. They go everywhere and are always ready to grab that photo. Pocket to picture times are impressive and the phone is always in your pocket. The dedicated c…

Apple Getting More Like Samsung Every Day

What are the qualities that Samsung has consistently been derided for by Apple fans over the last few years? And how many of them have been adopted by Apple?

Small screen tablets? Check. Large screen phones? Check. Plastic bodied phones? Check. And now a complex range of tablets.

Apple announced the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 today - as they let slip yesterday. Which now gives them a range which extends to six iPad Minis and four iPad Airs (excluding the various storage options).

Of course choice is a good thing - and Samsung's remains significantly wider in terms of both technologies and screen sizes; and price. But Apple's move to broaden it's range is good news, even if its swinging u-turns and slavish copying of rivals smacks of hypocrisy (I'm kidding!!!)

Having seen the launch I'm not convinced that the new iPads make for a compelling upgrade and certainly aren't tempting me to reach for my credit card.

Nexus 6: Just Say Note

As well as the HTC built Nexus 9 tablet, Google announced a new handset today. The Motorola designed Nexus 6. Its a Moto X 2014 that has been left in a grow bag for far too long. The screen is all but six inches in size and it gives the Nexus 6 monster dimensions: it's significantly larger than the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note and dwarfs the LG G3.

The screen packs a QuadHD resolution, for a pitch of around 490ppi. The extra size - and especially extra depth - allows Motorola to pack on a behemoth of a battery which should give exceptional battery life, but to be truthful it's another so-so device bearing the Nexus branding.

An expensive one too. With an expected launch price of US$649 it's barely cheaper than the far more capable Galaxy Note 4, although it is US$100 cheaper than the entry-level iPhone 6 Plus. The days of the Nexus being the cheap option are gone, it would seem.

Of the three QuadHD devices that have been released so far the Nexus impresses me the lea…

Apple Leaks New iPads

Here's a bizarre occurrence - Apple has posted images of its new iPads onto its own website, effectively leaking the updated devices a day early.

As predicted there's little new about the two devices to get excited about. They look pretty much the same as the outgoing models - although I'm guessing that Apple will once more have reduced the depth of the device, in its crusade to make every device thin over every other possible feature.

Other than TouchID there's nothing new to see. There are hints in the documents that new cameras may debut, although people who take photos with tablets are generally beyond help it may assist those who use their iPad as a quasi-document scanner.

So will you be upgrading? I really can't see any compelling reason to do so.

Nexus 9 Points To Reasons For Tablet Market Stagnation

When the original iPad arrived three and a half years ago it created a market for a third screen that had never existed before. When Samsung released the original Galaxy Tab it showed that a smaller tablet was a valid choice for that third screen.

Whilst the market has grown phenomenally over the last three years, it's been a year of stagnation this year and the new Nexus 9 demonstrates why.

The iPad hasn't improved dramatically since the launch of the iPad 2, which in typical Apple style addressed the shortcomings of the original and caused a blow up in sales. Since then we've had small improvements with each generation - better screens, lighter shells - but in reality, there's no compelling reason if you have an iPad 2, it will still do everything you originally bought it for.

On the Android side there's been a little bit more innovative thinking. The Asus Transformer, Galaxy Note and Lenovo Yoga are good examples, but again, once you have your tablet there'…