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Showing posts from September 6, 2015

Why There Is No 32GB iPhone 6S

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Apple has come under fire for continuing to offer it's entry-level iPhone with just 16GB of storage. Its an invalid criticism for two very important reasons, only one of which is directly related to Apple's bottom line.
First of all lets talk about the obvious one: Apple knows that consumers will upgrade to the 64GB version which is infinitely more profitable thanks to Apple's ability to purchase storage at steep discounts. The base model doesn't have enough storage to be a viable choice for consumers. And the more websites ding Apple for that choice the more they reinforce the message that you need to upgrade. Apple shareholders can start smiling about now.
So far, so straightforward. What about the second reason?
That's the enterprise. The iPhone has proven to be a popular pick for enterprise customers. Providing employees with an iPhone is seen as a perk as well as a business tool. For Apple it's a business it wants to encourage. And because enterprise cust…

Kiwis Get Surface 3 Bonus

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The New Zealand Microsoft Store has a belter of a deal for consumers interested in a new Surface 3: for a limited time each sale will include a Type Cover and Surface Pen as a free bundle.
That's a $250 freebie.
Given that the Surface 3 is a great value package anyway, coming with a one year Office 365 subscription, this new offer makes for a compelling argument in the retail environment.

Did Anyone Notice the New iPhones?

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As is traditional Apple used its September event to launch an updated iPhone. For the first time ever no-one seems to have noticed.
Yes it has helped that this is the 's' release, meaning no new design to rave about, b at the hey note was so heavy with announcements that the iPhone didn't really get noticed. A pretty dangerous game to play with your number one product.
In fact the iPhone news that is generating the most headlines is the new iPhone upgrade purchasing plan. The other product launches were made to seem both more important and more exciting in every aspect of the keynote.
Much of that must be down to the anemic nature of the updates. features that have been found on other platforms for years. Hey Siri, Living Images, OIS for video, 4K recording? The only interesting thing is how long the iPhone has lagged beyond the competition.
In a normal year Apple would have gone overboard selling these ideas as new, unique and special. And the internet would have picked…

iPad Pro Or MacBook - Which Would You Choose?

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Apple has never been afraid to cannibalise sales of its on products when moving into new markets. The iPad Pro continues this trend by competing directly with the only recently launched MacBook. With the addition of the (horrible, horrible) keyboardcover to the iPad Pro the two devices are close enough in price to compete directly.
Interesting choice.
The MacBook runs OS X and has impressive expandability by virtue of its future-proofed USB Type C port. That means full applications, expandability and true computing power.
The iPad Pro means iOS, a much more limited choice of applications and very limited expandability.
It all hinges on the Pencil. Does your normal workflow require the use of stylus to a degree that you would forego the MacBook's superior form factor to get it?
For enterprise customers who offer Apple products as a user choice it will be interesting to see what the take-up is.
My view is that the iPad Pro loses out in this comparison for the same reason it loses …

iPad Pro Keyboard Cover Is An Eyesore

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, apparently. I'd not want to discuss aesthetic sensibilities with the owner of the eye that found this an attractive solution.
The image was tweeted by engadget editor @aaronissocial and gives a clear indication that someone at Apple has lost the plot.
Fortunately third parties will be bringing keyboards to the party so you'll be able to select something rather less gruesome, if the iPad Pro turns out to be your bag.

iPhone Subscription Was Apple's Big Win

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There might have been a whole heap of announcements in Tim Cook's keynote speech earlier, but the biggest and most important seems to be getting little discussion.
Apple launched a monthly payment service that lets you get a new iPhone every year.
Why is this so important? It's because the iPhone accounts for two-thirds of Apple's top and bottom lines. Which makes anything that means more iPhone sales a very big deal indeed.
The iPhone subscription doesn't just mean more iPhone sales, it potentially means twice as many iPhone sales. Current iPhone upgrade cycles are driven by carrier contracts and subsidies and run two years. Now Apple is able to cut carriers and their contracts out of the deal and reap the benefits directly via an annual upgrade cycle.
Currently customers don't see the true price of the iPhone they buy because it's hidden in their monthly carrier payment. In future customers won't see the true price of the iPhone they buy because it will…

Apple TV: Does It Now Deliver?

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It seems like forever since Apple gave any love to its media device. In fact its only(!) three years since this 'hobby' device last saw a significant update. In that time new competitors have arrived and proven the market, we've been subjected to ridiculous rumors about actual Apple Televisions and Microsoft has added heaps of media and TV consumption capabilities to the Xbox.
So the new Apple TV has a big hole to fill in Apple's line-up. There's no question than There's no question that it does this, and in doing so will drive millions of upgrades from existing owners.
However, the introduction of Siri and an app store don't suggest a compelling reason for those who passed over the earlier and cheaper version to go out and buy one now.
The truth is that unless you buy into the iTunes experience for all of your music and video purchases its not especially interesting. Unlike the Xbox One that can pass through and control your existing TV service, with the …

The iPad Pro Vs The Surface Pro 3

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Who is the innovator and who is the follower? Apple has been quick to castigate Samsung for stealing its ideas in the past, but Apple's use of other's devices as an inspiration seems to be the acceptable face of copying.
All of Apple's recent great products have been variations of what has previously been available. Of course the difference is that Apple takes a product and applies its own brand of product development to create something more than what was previously available.
Which brings us to the new iPad Pro. Here is a device that, on the surface (sorry) appears to take the successful Microsoft Surface Pro 3 design and slavishly copy its features. To dismiss it as such a device would be to miss the point completely.
Apple, like other OEMs has had to react to the success of the SP3 because it has been so well received. No Microsoft product has ever been as popularly feted as its current Surface tablets.  It turns out that a device that is both tablet and laptop is ex…

What Does A $50 Amazon Fire Tablet Mean?

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A number of sites are talking about a new Amazon Fire tablet which will pack a $50 price tag and a 6" screen. Aside from the potential issues of building down to a price, what does Amazon have here? For a start it has a device that is small enough to be personal. It may also have a device that is powerful enough to run a bar code scanner and maybe even its voice recognition software. That being the case it may also have the device that the Fire Phone should have been at launch: a cheap, flexible tool that makes it frictionless to buy things from Amazon. Amazon hasn't got a bad reputation for its Kindle devices and a cheap tablet with reasonably good specs could wipe away the bad taste of the Fire Phone. Making a device that performs well and has a usable screen for $50 is going to be a real challenge. However subsidising a more expensive device in order to further its main business seems a much more achievable target. Its current 6" Fire Tablet sells for $99 so it i…

Windows Phone Continuing To Gain Ground With Replacement Imminent

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Windows Phone isn't long for this world, with the imminent arrival of Windows 10 Mobile (maybe as soon as next month). That doesn't mean that the platform is stagnating though. In fact it turns out that Microsoft's mobile platform is starting to build some pretty good sales numbers. Kantar Worldpanel has released its three month rolling sales figures for the period ending July and there are some interesting signs of growth. In Europe Windows Phone accounts for 11% of all mobile sales, and it saw gains in regional market share everywhere except Japan and Spain. Notably Windows Phone has supplanted iOS as the number two platform in Russia, Brazil, Italy and Argentina based on Kantar's most recent numbers. It will be interesting to see how the continued success of Windows 10 on the desktop will be reflected in the mobile space. Until Windows 10 Mobile launches however, Windows Phone seems to be doing a good job of holding the fort.

Microsoft Brings Surface To The Enterprise Via Partners

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Microsoft is clearly seeing demand for the its Surface products in the enterprise, however in terms of providing the sort of total ownership experience that large scale business requires Microsoft knowledge exists in the software rather than hardware space. To fix this Microsoft will partner with suppliers who have plenty of experience in this arena: Dell, HP, Accenture and presumably others who fit the enterprise supplier model. Its a good move for Microsoft and an interesting one for Dell and HP in particular. The Surface and Surface Pro 3 offer a compelling case as premium devices in the enterprise, offering power, capacity, expandability and a new level of flexibility. For IT departments who have had to deal with the vagaries of embedding iPads into their service catalogues it could be a godsend.  Microsoft gets a tool to try and head off Apple's further encroachment into enterprise, For the OEMs its an admission that they can make a better business from supporting Microsof…

Apple's Product Launches Might Take All NIght

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Tim Cook probably needs to pack a good supply of throat lozenges for Apple's big Ask Siri event later today. The list of products that are going to be released is enormous, if you believe all the rumour sites. So far we have two new iPhones, two new iPads, a new iPad Pro/Plus, new keyboards and stylus for the iPad Pro/Plus, two new Apple TVs, Bluetooth game controllers for the Apple TVs, a new gaming service and a new TV streaming service. Not to mention the official launch of iOS 9. That could take all night to get through. Whilst September is traditionally new iPhone time and Apple hasn't liked to divert attention from its big money-earner, the continued poor performance of the iPad, when measured against the tablet market as a whole, means that refreshing the iPad line-up would seem like a logical add-on to the keynote. Pre-event commentary has been split into two streams, even among traditionally impartial commentators. Either this is going to be the biggest and best Appl…

Firefox On iPhone: The Same, But Different

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I've been trying out the beta release of Firefox for iOS since its release last week and it has left me underwhelmed. It feels almost exactly the same as using Safari. That shouldn't really come as a surprise, Webkit is the only allowable browser engine on iOS, so really all Mozilla have been able to do is change the chrome that surrounds the browser window. The only compelling reason to choose Firefox on your iPhone  over Safari (or Chrome for that matter) is that you use it on the desktop and would like to keep your browser bookmarks in sync. Although ironically this didn't actually work for me...

YouTube Changes Preview Ad Blocking Battles

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Chrome users who have the AdBlock extension installed are finding that their YouTube experience has been degraded as a result of changes that Google has made to the service. Pre-roll ads have, in effect, become mandatory. The only part of the video recognized as an advert is the 'Skip Ad' button, ironically, which means that AdBlock users have to watch the whole ad before getting to the content. Whilst there are easy ways around this, it does hint at what publishers will need to do to defeat ad-blocking, especially as Apple will be integrating it into iOS and, presumably, OS X shortly. This escalation of the battle between content providers and ad blockers doesn't bode well. However it isn't an unreasonable step for Google to take. Content providers have a right (and if they are corporations a duty) to try to extract some value from the business of providing content.

You Are The Weakest Link In Phone Security

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How secure do you want your phone to be? Do you want to use it for payments, online banking, private messages and storing the intimate details of your day to day life? If you're like most other smartphone users the answer to most of those will be yes. Would you want to hand access to this information to somebody you didn't know and likely wanted to use it to rip you off? I'm guessing the answer here is an emphatic no. In the last week we've heard stories of users having their smartphones compromised because of badly judged actions they have taken. For example, today the BBC is reporting that Android users inadvertently installed ransomware onto their phones when they thought they were downloading a porn viewer from a website, requiring several steps to bypass Android's app security controls. That's monumentally stupid. The application took photos of the users (presumably whilst they were 'enjoying' the porn) and then locked their phones, demanding the…

Never Mind Premium Content, BBC iPlayer Needs To Go International, Personal

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The BBC has said that as a result of the squeeze on its income source (aka The License Fee) it will look to open up iPlayer to third parties to provide streaming content, as well as investigating premium content streams for which UK users will have to pay. This sounds to me like a particularly clumsy way of trying to switch funding streams. How will premium content even work? There's an expectation that the BBC's content should be free in the UK precisely because of the way it is funded. Political machinations aside (and the current UK government has shown itself to be no friend of the BBC) there are arguments for modernizing the way the BBC operates online. Its news service is the only British or European site that breaks up what would otherwise be a completely US-centric online view of the world. However its video content doesn't have the same online reach. iPlayer is UK only, despite massive demand for the service from abroad. The BBC needs to look at how it can use th…

F1: Italian Grand Prix Farce

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Formula One continued its descent into the ridiculous at Monza last weekend, with a blatant a display of double standards as its possible to exhibit in a single twenty-four hour period. Following the exploding tyre incidents at Spa, Pirelli set a minimum safe tyre pressure for the Italian Grand Prix. Following Saturday's qualifying sessions, GP2 drivers found to have low tyre pressures had their times disqualified and were sent to the back of the grid - particularly upsetting for Mitch Evans who had qualified on the front row. On Sunday afternoon, just before the start of the parade lap, the tyre pressures of the first four qualifiers on the grid at Monza - Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel and Raikkonen - were measured by the stewards. Both Mercedes were found to be on underinflated rubber. This is where things make no sense. With evidence that both of the Silver Arrows were being driven with potential dangerous tyres (as defined by Pirelli) and not in compliance with Formula One regula…

For Microsoft IFA Was About Partners

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Microsoft has a pretty unique place in the PC marketplace, being both a vendor of hardware and a partner to other hardware vendors.
That makes events like IFA potential minefields to negotiate.
Many have expressed disappointment that Microsoft's keynote included no mention of a new Surface or Lumia smartphones. I don't believe that was ever on the cards. This was all about showcasing the work of its partners who are responsible for most of the sales of Windows licenses.
Microsoft has its own event lined up for the release of it platform hero devices. And just as Apple would never consider launching new hardware at somebody else's event, so Microsoft needs to make its new devices the centre of attention when they arrive on stage.
Instead of being disappointed by the contents of Microsoft's keynote, those commentators should have been focusing on the wide variety of hardware that Microsoft was able to show running Windows 10.
The pricing of PCs has reached a level that …

Forza 6 Commercial Brings It

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How about this for a trip down memory lane? The TV ad for Forza 6 tags racing game lore back to the 70s, from Atari VCS through Pole Position, Outrun and Ridge Racer.

It looks pretty good, but will have to play even better to dislodge Project Cars as king of the hill.

First Archos Windows 10 Mobile Looks Pretty Slick

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This Archos device will be the company's first Windows 10 Mobile and, if the video above is anything to go by, it will further improve Microsoft's smartphone market penetration - in Europe anyway.
The Archos is a budget device, however its screen and overall build look pretty impressive. The Cesium 50 packs dual SIM slots, expandable memory and a replaceable battery. The 5" IPS screen is 720p and there are 8mp (back) and 5mp (front) cameras. A pretty good spec considering its target price.

Even more noteworthy is the speed and responsiveness of the phone, especially as it packs both a low-end CPU (the Snapdragon 210) and a pre-release build of Windows 10 Mobile.

Archos is a popular brand in its homeland France, however I'd expect its appeal will be just as strong in neighbouring Italy and Spain.