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Showing posts from December 6, 2015

Jaguar To Enter Formula E For Season 3

Formula E has been something of a success, even though it's only in its second season. In part that success has been driven by the promise of the new, riding the wave of interest in EVs and the accessibility that the championship offers to fans. Those efforts look like being rewarded by the entry of a big name racing heavyweight. Sources in the UK are reporting that Jaguar will enter the sport for season three, possibly by taking over the struggling Trulli team. Alejandro Agag, the sport's boss, has previously confirmed that two major manufacturers would be entering the sport, so the arrival of Jaguar would fulfill half of that promise. Who the other one might be is open to speculation. Citroen, who already had a technical partnership with the sport, or VW, who needs to re-establish some 'green' credentials after dieselgate. It does make me wonder why Formula E has restricted the grid to just ten teams though. A wider more varied field, encompassing private entries an…

The iPad Air Looks Good Value Compared To The Pro

One thing my short dalliance with the iPad Pro has done is to increase my appreciation of the iPad Air 2, which remains my favourite iPad, for now.The Air does all that the Pro does (bar the Pencil support) and manages to be light enough and portable enough to use wherever your fancy takes you.Yes the Pro wows you with its big screen, but the payback in handling complexities and awkwardness are enough to dampen my enthusiasm for the device.In that respect the Air 2 easily beats the Pro out.Which is the better device for holding single handedly? The Air 2. Which device can you hold in your hands and type with? The Air 2. Which device slips unnoticed into the pocket of you existing bag, case or backpack? The Air 2.In terms of tablet compromise between size and utility the iPad selection makes me feel like Goldilocks. Too big, too small, aaah... just right.The iPad Air 2 will likely be succeeded by a new iPad that is identical in every respect bar support for Apple's Pencil. That ma…

Microsoft Delivers First Direct To Phone Update

Windows 10 Mobile hasn't had the easiest of introductions, however Microsoft may just have made the whole platform more desirable this week, successfully delivering a system update to Lumia phones without involvement from the networks. Doesn't sound like a big deal right? I mean Apple has been doing this for years.For Microsoft it's a big forward step in delivering a multi layer single platform strategy. It was no accident that this mobile upgrade shipped out to the Lumia 950/950XL at the same time as Windows 10 desktop class machines were getting updated.Whatever else it may be doing with mobile, Microsoft appears to be deadly serious about making its Windows platform a universal one.A winning strategy? Probably not, but quite possibly the best play that Microsoft has left in its locker.

Why I've Abandoned Smart Lock On Android

When Google introduced Smart Lock to Android it seemed like a piece of genius: use information about a device's location to decide whether the lock screen should be enabled. Despite the fact that it works well, I've stopped using it and I suspect that most users with Android phones with fingerprint sensors will want to do the same. On the Galaxy S6 I have got into the habit of waking the phone by pressing the home key. By keeping my finger on the key a little longer than normal it gives the phone a chance to read my fingerprint and unlock the device. Its such a natural process that I do it without even thinking about it. Which means trouble when smart lock activates, because Smart Lock disables the fingerprint login and enables the swipe lock screen. So when Smart Lock is activated I find that I'm left looking at the lock screen wondering what's going on because I'm still trying to unlock with my fingerprint. For users who don't have the option to use their fi…

iPhone 6S Failing To Excite The Market

Kantar Worldpanel's most recent report on the state of the smartphone market makes less than brilliant reading for Apple, suggesting as it does that the new iPhone 6S range has failed to maintain the momentum of the earlier iPhone 6. Apple's market share is massively down in the US and Australia, whilst across the big EU markets it saw a smaller, but still significant fall in market share. On the positive side the iPhone showed significant growth in China, as well as re-taking the market lead from Android in Japan. In the US Apple's poor performance was balanced by a return to form for Samsung. The company sold more smartphones than anybody else and increased its market share year on year. Things are getting better for Samsung elsewhere too. In the EU 38% of those surveyed who said they were planning on buying a phone over the holiday season said they would be buying a Samsung. By comparison, only 25% were considering an iPhone.

ANZ GoWallet Arrives, All Kiwi Banks Now Support Mobile Payments

ANZ, the one New Zealand bank that didn't join the Semble mobile payments system, has today added its own GoWallet service to its Android GoMoney app. Which means that all Kiwi banks now support mobile payments on Android. iPhone customers miss out on this service until such time that Apple decides to bring the service to New Zealand and gets agreement from the banks.

Coldplay's Spotify Holdout Caves In After One Week

Coldplay's new album 'A Head Full Of Dreams' is a very approachable new album. As I'm a Microsoft Groove subscriber I've been able to enjoy the album since last Friday when it launched. My wife, who has a paid Spotify subscription, hasn't. Coldplay's decision to withhold the album from Spotify (and only Spotify) was made because of concerns about the company's free tier - a group that consists of 60m users worldwide. Add in 20m paid subscribers and you have an enormous cohort of listeners. Listeners not able to stream Coldplay's new release. Whether the band originally intended the Spotify holdout to be a week or not, the announcement that the album will be available to all Spotify users from this Friday looks like a cave in by the band. Presumably once they added up income from all other sources the value of being on Spotify and earning income from those 80m listeners became apparent. Coldplay obviously don't have the appeal of Adele with the …

VW Borrows Heavily In Advance Of Emissions Investigations

As the fallout from VW's dieselgate scandal reverberate around the motor industry, VW has started the process of planning for the fallout in repairs, fines, compensations and falling sales. First step has been to secure a load of $21bn, to hedge against the cost of repairs to what is looking like more than 11m vehicles worldwide. With bank confidence in the company badly shaken by the scandal, VW has had to put some of its assets up as collateral for the loan. Although which brands are on the table hasn't been publicly released, most are guessing that Bentley. Lamborghini, Ducatti and MAN Power could all be sold if additional funding became necessary. Meanwhile in Europe VW is facing charges of tax evasion. Specifically that by misrepresenting the emissions of its vehicles customers were able to benefit from 'green' tax subsidies that they might not have been entitled to. With around 10m of the affected vehicles sold in Europe, Governments will presumably be looking a…

Firefox OS Is Dead For Smartphones

It's not been a good couple of months for those who live on the periphery of the mobile OS world. Jolla is facing bankruptcy, Blackberry appears to have abandoned its own platform for Android, Windows is dying yet another of its thousand deaths and now Firefox OS is no more. It isn't big news in itself, the number of Firefox OS users out there must number in the hundreds, however what it says about the future state of the smartphone market is interesting. As a smartphone OEM, pursuing one of the minor OS platforms is a waste of time. Customers want Android if they don't want an iPhone. If Microsoft is unable to persuade customers to try something new then I seriously doubt that smaller OS teams can do so in enough numbers to survive. For anybody who isn't Google or Apple it seems like developing a mobile platform is a dead end street.

Ad Platform's Lack Of Scrutiny Makes Strong Case For Ad-Blocking

The arguments about whether ad-blockers are legitimate or not and how publishers might retain revenue without the ability to serves ads to customers are all rendered moot by news which amply demonstrates why users choose to block ads. ZDNet to reporting that Alexa Top 100 site DailyMotion has been serving ads which put viewers at risk of the Angler exploit. The error is not DailyMotion's directly. It's ad serving platform sold the spot to the group pushing the exploit and the rest is history. 128m users have potentially been exposed. In itself it is bad news. For publisher's arguments against ad-blockers it is nothing short of disastrous. The inability to trust the adverts served by such a high-profile site mean that the use of an ad blocker - on your desktop PC at least - becomes more or less mandatory. The resolution for publishers has to come from the ad serving platforms. Greater scrutiny of what gets served to the sites and a significant reduction in what ads are all…

That's One Ugly iPhone Battery Case

That's the new, official, Apple battery case for the iPhone 6. It's also a whole heap of ugly. Not that this will pacify the folks at Mophie, who's battery case has been completely ripped off here.
Apple is promising 25 hours of talk time with the new case so there will be some benefits to owning the worst looking iPhone in history.
No details on charging time or capacity, however it is available in both black and white and is made of soft silicon, so should be quick and easy to remove from your iPhone at the first available opportunity.
Treat it as an external battery pack which just happens to attach to your phone and it shouldn't be too unpleasant.

Does Microsoft Still Have A Stool? Windows Mobile Looking Rockier Than Ever

Selling a product requires engagement with consumers, a three-legged stool which leads to a purchase: attention, interest and desire. With the launch of its new Lumias and Windows 10 Mobile it's hard to see how Microsoft has achieved this.
The new Lumias are available now. In fact the third new Windows 10 Mobile dropped today. How much attention is it receiving? How much attention has the whole new Windows 10 Mobile range received.
The average smartphone buyer no more knows the existence of Microsoft's new platform than a tea leaf knows the history of the East India Company (with apologies to Douglas Adams).
Microsoft has failed to draw the attention of the media and as a result the potential customer. Sure, a few Microsoft friendly enterprise customers have been given the full launch treatment, but otherwise? Zip. Nada. Nothing. 
Given that a reasonable part of Windows Phone's problem was that Microsoft and its partners did nothing to market the phones, its sad to see hi…

F1 Borefest Switching Off TV Audiences

For years F1 has pandered to the TV audience over the trackside enthusiast, primarily because that is what sponsors want and it is sponsors who bring the money to the 'sport'. This year's terrible viewing figures in the UK (and presumably reflected across the rest of Europe, if not the world) suggest that TV audience is finding other things to do with their time. The BBC recorded its lowest like for like viewer figures for eight years, whilst Sky recorded its lowest figures since taking over the rights to broadcast F1.
The race ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix attracted under 400k viewers. With Sky's F1 rights costing a minimum of £15m per year that's not looking like a good investment.
The problem for F1 is not just the Mercedes domination (although that, and the inbalance between the two drivers isn't helping). Drivers aren't racing anymore, a Sunday afternoon cruise with strategy and tyre/fuel conservation uppermost in the mind is enthralling nobody. Keeping…

October Was All About Microsoft In Tablets

A report on the state of the online tablet marketplace shows that Apple's iPad problems pre-Pro launch were massive and Microsoft's Surface continues to gain support.
1010data Ecom Insights Panel (there's a mouthful for you) reports on online sales in the US. The veracity of its numbers stands scrutiny, although they present far from the full picture of the tablet market.
Nevertheless, because the report is consistent across time it is interesting as an indicator of trends.
In October online sales of the iPad crashed. Through 2015 Apple's share of the market has been between 30% and 45%. In October that collapsed to 17%. Expectation over new iPads probably had something to do with this and it's entirely possible that more people bought through retail locations to soften the blow. It remains a painful reminder of how badly the iPad has been doing.
For Microsoft the reverse is true. Over the year it had grown market share from under 15% to over 20% by September. In …