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Showing posts from October, 2017

F1: Bringing Back The Competition

Another season draws to an end, with the outcome exactly as predicted at the season's start. In fact after four years of the turbo hybrid era we've had exactly the same result: a Mercedes Constructor's and Driver's Championship double.
There's no question that this has been a Mercedes won driver's championship.  Remove Lewis Hamilton from the results and Valtieri Bottas would be leading the World Championship.
So what have we seen that is different in 2017 compared to 2014, 2015 or 2016?
Well two drivers have really transcended their cars this year: Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. The latter has really outshone teammate Daniel Ricciardo, despite suffering terrible luck over the season, it's been clear that Verstappen is going to tower over the sport in the future.
That Vettel managed to bring the battle for the title all the way to Mexico speaks volumes for his efforts this season.  If we remove Vettel from the results, Raikonnen would still be nowh…

Surprise! China Loves The iPhone 8

Apple had a rip-roaring third quarter in China and it's all thanks to the iPhone 8. Wait, that can't be right can it?
Indeed it can. It seems that the combination of the iPhone 8's new features and the likely supply constraints on the iPhone X have persuaded buyers in China to pick the more traditional iPhone.
That's meant a 38% increase in iPhone sales year on year and the reversal of a downward sales trend stretching to the beginning of 2016. 
Whether Apple can continue this trend through into Q4 is open to question. iPhone X sales are likely to be limited by both supply issues and price, more so in China than many other countries. If buyers continue to see the iPhone 8 as a valid replacement for the anniversary phone it may be possible. On the other hand, if the iPhone 8 is seen as a second class citizen I would expect to see sales drop off rapidly and Q3 might turn out to be a blip, rather than a turnaround of sales.

iPhone X Pre-orders 'Off The Charts', Enough To Save Financial Quarter?

Apple has reported iPhone X pre-orders as being off the charts and it's certainly true that delivery has pushed out to around six weeks in every territory where the new handset is available for pre-order. Is that a function of record numbers of orders or limited stocks of iPhones?
Apple has a potential problem when it comes to it's financial quarter ending December 31st. Usually this is the boom period for iPhone sales, encompassing as it does both Christmas gift giving and early Lunar New Year purchases. In recent years Apple has been able to count on just under 80 million iPhone sales in this quarter.
The relative lack of success of the iPhone 8 - remember those missing queues and ready supply of handsets - will have an effect on that number. With production numbers, even the optimistic ones, pegging iPhone X capacity through the end of December at no more than 30 million handsets it seems unlikely Apple will get anywhere close to that historical sales figure.
Not because t…

Did Apple Jump On The Wireless Charging Bandwagon Just As The Wheels Came Off?

Apple's newest iPhones pack wireless charging, catching up to Android and Windows Phone, which have had the feature for at least three years. It's a big move for Apple, supporting an industry standard and raising the profile of a technology its competitors have been using for so long it's rarely mentioned in their ads.
The problem is that fast charging has made wireless charging somewhat redundant. When a fifteen minute boost charge is enough to get you through a full day you no longer need to  be dropping your phone onto a charger every time you set it down. Of course not having to worry about which way up you plug in your USB-C or Lightning cable helps too.
Wireless charging was something which was big news back in the day. Today, even for the notorious battery challenged iPhone, it's not really such a big deal.
Of course that also raises the question of Apple's failure to include a fast charger in the box with the new iPhones. But Apple being Apple we shouldn't…

Look Up - A Story More Relevant Today?

This video is more than three years old, but the message it delivers seems to resonate even more powerfully today.

F1: Finally Off Track Excursions Might Have Consequences

F1 has taken some steps to prevent drivers gaining an advantage when 'accidentally' running off the track. This came to a head last time out, in Austin when Max Verstappen overtook Raikonnen's Ferrari by running across the inside apron of the circuit. The furore when Verstappen was penalised for the pass was both uninformed and unwarranted. Race steward Mika Salo is reported to have received death threats as a result of his decision. Absolutely crazy. 
For this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix the FIA have installed car breaking kerbs in order to prevent this kind of thing happening again. These 'sausage' kerbs have been installed at turns one, two, eight and eleven. There are also speed bumps and strict instructions about how the track may be rejoined after an excursion. 
I'm not sure this will be 100% popular or effective but it does at least start the conversation about how drivers can suffer appropriate consequences for off-track excursions.

India Just Replaced The US As The Second Largest Market For Smartphones

India's smartphone market grew by 23% in the third quarter of 2017, enough to bypass the US and take the title of second largest smartphone market. It's a significant event and one which could have an impact on the shape of the market globally.
Although Samsung remains the largest vendor in India, it's likely to be overtaken by Xiaomi as soon as next quarter. The company, which has slipped behind Oppo and Vivo in global smartphone sales, is likely to drive its way back into the global top five if its Indian sales success continues to be mirrored by the growth of the Indian market itself.
For mainstream manufacturers, who have continued to focus on the US market, thanks to its relatively high ASP, India might prove to be a more challenging market. Sales are generally at the lower end of the scale, with customers looking for the best mix of capability and price.
With India's population set to overtake China's as soon as 2022, focusing on delivering smartphones which…

The Black Knight: Windows 10 Mobile Users In Late 2017

Like Monty Python's Black Knight, sneering 'tis but a scratch' at the loss of an arm, there are users who are still refusing to concede defeat on Windows Mobile. For former users it's easy to see why. A Windows 10 Mobile, especially a higher end option, could still make a very good case for itself, if the withering death of apps in the Store could be ignored.
Just how usable is Windows 10 Mobile, as we draw to the end of 2017, having been abandoned by Microsoft and with first and third party developers - even those who have been rock solid in their support of the platform - abandoning it at an ever increasing pace?
In many ways it is surprising that Windows Mobile devices are still selling. But they are - albeit in ever decreasing numbers. In the EU5 markets Windows retains between 2.5% and 1% of market share in four out of the five countries (Italy, France, Germany and the UK). Those buyers obviously feel that there is sufficient value in Windows 10 Mobile to justify…

Samsung Galaxy Ad Revels In Pixel Schadenfreude

The problems with the Pixel 2 XL's car crash of a screen almost invited this ad from someone. That it's come from Samsung probably adds to the burn for Google and LG, given that twelve months ago it was Samsung itself on the receiving end following the Note 7 disaster.
Everyone who knows smartphones knows that Samsung's screens are the best available and Samsung is leveraging YouTube vlogger reviews to emphasise that point.
There's no mention of Google or the Pixel 2 XL, but the intention here is quite clear.

iPhone Apps Can Secretly Take Pictures Or Video Of Users In Glaring Security Weakness

Give an iOS app camera permissions and it gains the ability to record you at any time, using front or rear cameras and without providing any audio or visual clues that it is doing so.
The weakness has been discovered by Google's Felix Krause and is detailed on his blog here.
As well as the obvious privacy concerns, Krause picks up on an important point at the end of his piece. The use of the Apple's new Vision framework allows 3D maps of the users face to be made. Presumably leading to 3D models of users heads being built to defeat Face ID

Walmart Not Switching To Macs, Says Walmart

Comments attributed to Walmart 'Technical Expert for Apple Technologies' Miles Leacy, the retail giant was expecting to move 100,000 users to Apple Macs from PCs. The comments were made a the JAMF conference - a company with an enterprise Mac management tool which has an obvious interest in spreading misinformation.
In this case Leacy comments were disowned by Joe Park, senior director of Associate Digital Experience at the company. He claimed Leacy had been asked questions design produce the appropriate soundbites and that no Mac migration has been considered by Walmart.
In a week where Microsoft has faced some bad news on enterprise buying reverses, this will probably be a small fillip to end the week.

Kinect Is The Latest Microsoft Hardware To Get The Chop

From the fastest selling product of all time to a swift death in just six years. If that sounds like a missed opportunity and mismanagement to you, then you're probably on the right track. The Xbox Kinect sensor is the latest Microsoft hardware to die - and this time Microsoft has nobody to blame but itself.
When it launched the original Xbox 360 Kinect outsold the iPad to steal that sales record, yet having shipped so many so quickly, final sales for the Kinect, over its six year life, turn out to be pretty dismal - less than 35 million units sold.
Here was the perfect example of Microsoft's lack of courage in its convictions. The Kinect is (was) a phenomenal piece of hardware, enabling a whole new gaming experience. However the original suffered from stunted sales numbers because developers didn't really support it. That's because, despite its impressive launch a low percentage of Xbox owners actually had the Kinect - making a game designed for its use a risky inves…

F1: Gasly, Hartley To Finish Season At Toro Rosso As Kvyat Gets The Final Boot

Helmut Marko has called time on the career of Russian racer Daniil Kvyat, saying of the Red Bull driver "We don't believe he can make the turnaround in the long term" making this third time unlucky for Kvyat, as Red Bull and now Toro Rosso (twice) have dropped him.
In his place, Brendon Hartley will complete the season, giving the Kiwi four races to prove his worthiness for a drive in 2018.
Much will depend on his relative performance to new teammate Pierre Gasly. Both have driven the car, with Gasly having two and Hartley one race under their belts, although other than his US Grand Prix outing, Hartley has little recent single seater experience.

Sony's Xperia Wins The Android Oreo Update Race

When Sony announced the new Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact it became the first Android manufacturer to release phones running the new version of the platform, Google aside. This week it also became the first to provide an update for an existing phone, releasing the Oreo update for the Xperia XZ Premium.
With HTC, Lenovo / Motorola and HTC all still waiting to announce their updates, or only just going into public beta; it's Sony which has been most impressive in getting its phones up to date quickest.
Of course this is just the first of the handsets Sony needs to update, and it is logical that it would work from the top of its existing range down. Even with this speedy response (and the promises of incoming updates from other brands), Google and all Android OEMs still have one major roadblock to improving update distribution: carriers.
That additional step of gaining carrier approval for an update to be released to branded handsets mean some users who have smartphones capable of bein…

Twelve Cities Pledge Electric Bus Only Future From 2025

Two pieces of news today which point to an electrified future for cities. Firstly, twelve cities have committed to the purchase of buses powered by electricity by 2025 and, secondly, news that Trondheim on Norway has placed a record 25 vehicle order with Volvo Bus, with delivery slated for 2019.
Norway is the world's largest EV market by penetration. Around 40% of all new vehicle sales are for plug-in EVs. Trondheim is the third largest municipality in Norway and the order with Volvo brings its EV bus commitment to 35. The order will also include the open interface OppCharge stations, which can be used to charge buses from different manufacturers.
Looking further ahead, but not so far in the grand scheme of things, are the cites of London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland & Cape Town. The pledge signed  today is part of the C40 Cities initiative. Added to a general commitment to ban the sale of internal combust…

Does It Matter If Apple Weakened Face ID In Order To Boost Production?

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple has allowed suppliers to reduce the quality and accuracy of components used in its Face ID scanner assembly in order to boost production yields. This claim isn't actually backed up by much more than conjecture in the article, but given how vital the iPhone X is to Apple's next two quarter's financial results it's a very believable tale.
Apple's face scanner is significantly more complex than the iris scanners previously used by Microsoft, HP and Samsung. That added complexity may provide better accuracy but if it can't be manufactured at scale Apple has a real problem on its hands.
Downgrading the specifications in order to speed assembly is a sensible move, at least given Apple's claims of the technology's accuracy. At a claimed twenty-fold improvement over the Touch ID sensor used in other iPhones, Face ID can afford to lose a whole heap of accuracy before it becomes an issue for Apple.
If the story is true its a sign…

Nissan To Join Formula E In 2018, Renault To Bid Farewell

Renault-Nissan was the first of the global motor manufacturers to embrace EVs, with the release of the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe models and even the incredible clever Twizy. Renault has dominated the first three seasons of Formula E, with its e.dams team taking the Team Championship in each of those seasons and lead driver Sebastien Buemi finished 2nd, 1st and 2nd again in the Driver's Championship.
This year might be the last for Renault, as Nissan has been announced as an entrant for Season Five, starting late 2018. Given that Renault has already achieved everything possible in the formula, and that it has an entry in F1 too, it seems a certainty that Renault branding will disappear from the e.dams cars and be replaced with Nissan's.
What that means for the driver line-up remains to be seen. The decidedly Gallic pairing of (Swiss) Buemi and Nico Prost is likely to be broken up. I'd imagine that Nissan will want to put one of its own drivers into the car, either a Brit…

Microsoft Tries To Spin Delta Loss With Unbelievable Tale Of Bags

Microsoft is claiming the loss of its contract with Delta airlines is the result of a decision by the airline to standardise on 10.5" flight bags - into which a Surface Pro obviously won't fit. That's the most transparent and blatant piece of nonsense to come out of a PR department since I don't know when.
Yessir, when picking the tools which support our pilots keeping you safe in the air, we select the bag they're going into and then worry about finding the technology that will fit. Next time we'll standardise on something wallet sized and give all our pilots a credit card calculator, because that's really thinking outside of the box.
Come on Microsoft, do you take us for idiots?
Delta's own press release announcing the switch gave a number of sensible and believable reasons for the switch and none of them had anything to do with bag size.
The decision to go iOS brings Delta in line with its global partners and leverages the fact that iPhones are sti…

Apple Announces Global Launch For iPhone X, Assuaging Availability Fears

As if response to ridiculous reports of low turnout from iPhone X production lines, Apple had announced that its new flagship device will be available in 55 countries at launch next week. That number suggests availability will be much better than first feared, if not enough to cope with initial demand. 

With rumours of iPhone 8 manufacturing orders being halved this week, Apple needs to ensure it has plenty of units on hand to cover the shortfall if it wants to announce good news at its January earnings call. 

Google's Pixel 2 XL Is Turning Into A Screen Nightmare

It seems highly unlikely LG will get more contract work from Google, after its build of the new Pixel 2 XL turned into a raging dumpster fire. The OLED screens used are now responsible for a third wave of negative news stories about the phone and Google's senior management will not be best pleased, I'd imagine.
Having been called out for poor colour reproduction, which Google called 'accurate' but which still left customers wanting more, Google promised that it would gauge reaction as the 2 XL rolled out to more customers and update the software to include more colour profiles if the demand was there.
That initial reaction from customers wasn't great, but at least it was something which could be fixed by software. Round two, colour shifting, is something which customers are going to be stuck with. LG's OLED panel exhibits colour shifting towards blue when viewed at an angle off dead centre. Quite a shallow angle too.
A good screen can be viewed at almost 180 d…

Holy Robots - Sony Bringing Aibo Back!

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Sony is preparing to launch an Aibo for the new generation. With home and educational robots all the rage, it's only right that the robotic pet the beat the competition to market by nearly two decades should be coming back to take on the newcomers.
The Aibo hails from a different time. One where Sony was omnipresent and omnipotent. Aibo was on the market two years before the iPod even launched. The iMac was a year old and many people were still convinced Apple was about to die. 
How things have changed.
However, Sony has been staging something of a recovery in recent months and a new, powerful and desirable bauble, with the charm and intelligence of its predecessor updated with new technology; seems like just the product to announce its return.
What Sony needs to do is produce an Aibo good enough to entice not only geeks like me who remember and lusted after the original; but a younger generation for whom the Sony brand means litt…

F1: Kvyat Out At Toro Rosso - Again

You can't help but feel for Daniil Kvyat. The Russian driver has been dumped by Red Bull after the US Grand Prix - and it's the third time in less than eighteen months.
It's something of a surprise that Kvyat got his one race reprieve last weekend. Having decided to allow Carlos Sainz to depart for Renault early the Toro Rosso team seemed to have forgotten to plan on a replacement. You get the feeling Kvyat was something of a Plan B option, for a time when there was no Plan A.
When the driver who replaced him and was also set to be his teammate, Pierre Gasly, was released to take part of the Super Formula season finale in an attempt to be the series' first rookie champion, Toro Rosso turned to Brendon Hartley.
Despite a difficult introduction to F1 - an engine change penalty which dropped him to the back of the grid and a traffic filled race - Hartley showed enough to retain his place in the team for the next race in Mexico.
As a result, Kvyat gets shown the door once…

Apple And Samsung Headed Back To Court On Design Patent Damages

Samsung has prevailed in its appeal to the US Supreme Court over damages awarded to Apple in the two company's long running design patent battle. The Court rules that the earlier decision to award Apple all of the profits from early Samsung Galaxy devices was flawed and should be recast as a proportion of the profits based on the make-up of the phones.
That means another $400m of Apple's award is in jeopardy, with a revisit of the judgement likely to slash that number significantly.
Both sides will now head back to the courtroom to argue as to what proportion of the infringing phones appeal was related to the phones infringing on Apple's patents and what was a result of technologies like OLED screens, expandable memory and shipping with Android.

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

GE - Apple Deal To Cost Microsoft

Following its decision to switch its mobile platform to iOS, GE will begin migrating its workforce to Mac, striking a significant blow for Apple in the enterprise market. 
The initial deal was made around GE's industrial controls software, Predix, which will migrate to iOS going forward. Whilst a new software development platform will allow GE's software teams to extend Predix with iOS specific technologies. 
The upshot being that GE's customers will have yet another reason to migrate certain tasks and users to iPads. 
GE itself will equip its more than 300,000 staff with iPhones and iPads going forward, whilst PCs can be replaced with Macs. 
It's another big money reversal for Microsoft and Windows - once again driven, by the missing smartphone in Microsoft's stack. 
For all that Microsoft has set its goals on delivering services, the lack of success found by I BM on this road should serve as a warning to the company's leaders and shareholders alike.

Delta Airlines Ditches Microsoft And Windows For Pilots, Cabin Crew

Delta Airlines decision to ditch Microsoft and migrate its large fleet of pilot and cabin crew devices to iOS clearly paints a picture of a future without Microsoft Windows. The root cause being the failure of Windows on phones, at least in this case.

Delta equipped all of its pilots with Surface 2 devices to create an electronic flight bag. Its cabin crew were given Lumias. All told this deal put Microsoft's devices and platforms in front of more than 30,000 users.

In future Delta will distribute iPads and iPhones and Microsoft will be down one major corporate deal. Could Microsoft have made this deal work by offering Windows tablets and iPhones together? Absolutely not. Its going to be more and more of a concern for the company as it seeks to sell Windows in future.

Apple has a better overall offering with iOS, even if individual items within the stack aren't the best available.

Windows 10 runs a very real risk of becoming the next Internet Explorer - something customers shy awa…

Google And Microsoft At Odds Over Security Patching

Google's Security Team have raised the ire of Microsoft on more than one occasion in recent years, with Microsoft objecting to releases of vulnerability information before Microsoft has been given the opportunity to close the gap.
Now Microsoft has hit back, with its Technet Security Blog reporting that the way Google releases information about patches for Chrome could result in users being exposed to vulnerabilities before patches actually arrive. 
Google's 'holier than thou' attitude to security looks awfully misplaced when you look at the inherent weakness fundamental to the Android platform. It is virtually impossible for any Android customer to own a device with up to date security. 
Microsoft may have had issues in the past, but Windows is becoming a significantly better product in security terms. Desktop updates are delivered monthly and universally across all devices. No user intervention required. 
When news broke of the WPA encryption vulnerability this week…

No More Windows Mobile Upgrades For Lumia 640

Microsoft's Lumia 640 and 640 XL have reached the end of the road for operating system upgrades, with the company removing the handsets from the Fall Creators Update list this week. Given that the 640 was launched more than two years ago and was a decidedly mid-range device that's a pretty good innings, I'd say.

With Microsoft announcing that it is no longer developing new features for Windows Mobile, this is probably the least important platform news in two years.

Two years is about as good a run as you'll get on a premium Android phone - and even then not all of them. For a mid-ranger that's unheard of. You can't accuse Microsoft of selling customers short on this occasion.


F1: Alonso To Stay At McLaren

After what seems like a whole year of threats and complaints, Fernando Alonso has finally put his signature on a new contract with McLaren. The double World Champion will stay for at least one more year before once more offering his services around better performing teams.
Whether Alonso believes the McLaren-Renault combination is a potentially race winning one or wasn't able to find another formula where his substantial pay demands would be met isn't clear. Certainly his happiest times in F1 were those championship winning years at Renault.
Let's hope for Fernando (and all at McLaren) that the new Renault powered car is quicker than the Toro Rosso-Honda one. Otherwise I dread to think what kind of radio messages we'll be treated to.

Samsung Bixby 2.0 Arrives, Coming To More Devices

Samsung introduced Bixby 2.0 today and with the additional capability and intelligence, connectivity to the smart home, Samsung will be bringing its digital assistant to more and more Samsung products, replacing its previous smart home initiatives.

A dishwasher or washing machine you can program with your voice? A fridge or freezer that can suggest recipes based on their contents? Maybe not with this release, but definitely a future Samsung is planning for.

More importantly Bixby will be breaking out of Samsung's devices and make the voice assistant available on other Android smartphones. It's a play straight out of Microsoft's book and it's a strong response to the release of the Pixel 2 and acquisition of HTC's phone business by Google.

Samsung may not have the full intelligence of Google Assistant in Bixby, but for now it can leverage Google's offering to fill the gaps. Evidence that what it is planning for is the day Google starts to ringfence new Android feat…

Samsung Brings Linux To DeX - A Game Changing Move

Samsung will be bringing Linux to its Galaxy smartphones, with its Linux on Galaxy initiative. The environment will be available on the Galaxy S8 and S8+; and Note 8 smartphones, where it will run  as a mobile app; as well as the DeX docking solution, where it will expand the dock's ability to replace a desktop.
It's not likely to be a particularly large selling point - as Microsoft and HP have been finding out, but as a feature of an already amazing set of devices, the ability to throw up a real desktop operating system (rather than a close facsimile) adds another dimension to an already capable device. The Linux on Galaxy app isn't tied down to one distribution and it's being targeted at developers for starters.
If you have a DeX dock and fancy giving it a go you can sign up for the beta here.

Windows On ARM Devices Getting Days Of Battery Life?

Qualcomm has claimed that Windows on ARM devices are getting 'days' of battery life in testing. No details of what sort of devices these are, but the assumption is that these are laptops powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor.
It seems a wild claim at first, but if you consider the components in play, its probably something that we should have been expecting.
A Snapdragon 835 phone, with reasonable battery management policies in place can easily run for one and a half or maybe two days in some cases. That's with a much smaller battery than you would find in your average laptop.
Of course your average laptop has a much larger screen too. Plus a keyboard and ports to power as well.
Nevertheless, given that Microsoft believes that it can squeeze 17 hours out of the Surface Book 2 battery combo, two days of battery life from a low power Snapdragon version should be more than achievable, even allowing for the need to emulate an x86 processor.
The wait to see what Microsoft, Q…

Pixel 2 XL Screen Woes Should Be A Concern For Apple, iPhone Fans Too

You'll read elsewhere on the web about problems with the screen on the new Pixel 2 XL, how its colours, consistency and viewing angles are all way off what we expect from a 2017 flagship phone. That's not good news for customers who have ordered the new handset, sight unseen, but it's also a problem for Apple and iPhone fans too.
The Pixel 2 XL is made by LG rather than HTC, as is the case with other Pixels. It packs an OLED screen from LG and it this which is the cause of all the problems. LG just doesn't seem to be able to get close to the quality and consistency of a SAMOLED panel from Samsung and at the moment its OLED packing smartphones are receiving less than stellar reviews for screen quality.
Why should this concern Apple? That would be down to the large investment it has made in LG being able to service its future OLED screen requirements. Unwilling to be tied down to its biggest competitor, Samsung, for such   key component of future iPhones, Apple is clear…

HP Introduces The Most Powerful Hybrid You Can Buy Today

I'd hesitate to call HP's ZBook X2 a true tablet when detached, it's 14" screen is encased in a serious  piece of hardware, which is also what hides beneath the screen.
With a 4K display, quad core i7 CPUs, an Nvidia Quadro GPU and up to 32GB of RAM backed with 2TB of storage I think we can be sure this is not the sort of machine designed at consumers or even prosumers.
What's impressive is that HP have managed to fit all of this power into the tablet section itself. Although a chunky stand is built into the device, suggesting this isn't going to be something you'll want to use on your knee for very long.
HP is making a big play around the suitability of this machine for Adobe CC users. An interesting play given the problems I anticipate Microsoft having in selling its Surface Book 2 to MacBook customers, because of the lack of pro apps for Windows. 
Adobe is one area where Windows has feature parity with Mac OS and its a wise move on HP's part, to fo…

ZTE's Foldable Phone Is Actually A Simple Clamshell, Still Looks An Attractive Offering

Don't get me wrong, the ZTE Axon M is something different for 2017, even if it is neither truly foldable nor the first clamshell phone. Having a phone which becomes a mini-tablet on demand could well prove to be a compelling selling point in a market which craves screen real estate.
The phone is close to twicd as thick as the most anorexic offerings on the market today, however its 5.2" 16:9 display becomes a significantly larger, near square, screen when both displays are open.
That's enough screen real estate to run in Android's tablet mode - allowing apps to run in the larger interface mode. However you'll need to consider the impact of the central join between the two screens if you're doing this. I imagine for some use cases this would just turn out to be frustrating.
Those will be hopefully rare and the centre join will melt away as Apple is hoping the iPhone X notch does.
You don't have to run in tablet mode though. ZTE has added some options to al…

Microsoft Surface Book 2: New Size, Refined Design, MacBook Beware

Microsoft would really like you consider switching to the Surface Book when you next look to replace your MacBook Pro. To persuade you to do so it has tweaked the design of its most expensive laptop tablet hybrid to make it more attractive to Mac users who might be tempted to try Windows 10. It has also introduced a larger screen size to compete directly with Apple's MacBook Pro offerings.
The Surface Book 2 remains a niche device though - at least in PC terms. 
The improved internal hardware - eighth gen Intel silicon  and new Nvidia GPUs - should see even stronger performance and the Surface Book 2 is the first Microsoft PC to ship with a USB-C port - although it lacks Thunderbolt for some unexplained reason. 
A new 15" model, USB-C, a new locking mechanism for the clipboard screen and claims of much enhanced battery life - 5 hours for the tablet section or 17 hours when connected to the keyboard dock; these are all positive upgrades.
However, for all the good work Microso…

iPhone 8 And 7 Reach Price Parity

For Kiwis, the decision on which iPhone to upgrade to has never been easier. The discounts on the newer handset have effectively made the price of the 7 and 8 models identical.

Are we not buying the 8 because as a nation we're holding out for the X, or are we just fed up with the constant pressure to upgrade our phones?

In other countries we are hearing about the iPhone 7 outselling the 8. That's not unusual in itself, in fact after the Christmas and Lunar New Year gifting seasons, it is usually the older iPhones which make up the bulk of sales.

This year the Spectre of the iPhone X is hanging over the iPhone market, causing anomalies in sales figures. Whether things sort themselves out after the X arrives on the market remains to be seen.

For now, the iPhone 8 seems to have stolen the crown of the best phone that nobody will buy.

First iPhone X Batch Contains Only 46,500 Units? Seems Unlikely

Digitimes is reporting on the first shipment of completed iPhone X handsets, claiming that just 46,500 were shipped to UAE and the Netherlands. That seems remarkably low, so low in fact as to cast serious doubts on the validity of the report.

We know that iPhone X yields have been low, but the reported numbers have been in the order of 100,000 units per week. It seems implausible that just a couple of weeks before pre-orders are due to start arriving with customers, Apple has only has less than one weeks production output to hand. That would suggest that Apple has not managed to increase yields above this worst case scenario number.

If Apple is only able to manufacture 100,000 devices per week that would suggest only a quarter of a million iPhones will get to customers at launch in November and less than a million will get to customers ahead of Christmas. Added to the weak sales of the iPhone 8 Apple would be heading to a disastrous 2017 Q4.

The thing that makes me doubt those numbers is…

WPA2 Vulnerability Unlocks Wi-Fi To Hackers

If you aren't already careful about what you do on public wireless hotspots take this as a warning that you really should be. A team at KU Leuven University in Belgium have demonstrated a hack which allows Wi-Fi security to be breached thanks to a weakness in WPA2, the standard which is used to encrypt device to router connections. 

The weakness has deeper implications than just wireless hotspot access though.

For individuals this vulnerability has limited impact so long as you are using an encrypted underlying connection - https security to your mail server or websites for example - which will protect your information on those public connections. Most mail services and key websites do this by default.

For Android and Linux users there's a potential follow on weakness which results from The use of this weakness to allow other vulnerabilities - malicious code insertion for example - to be exploited on the device. Being on a build of Android which has up to date security patches is…

Huawei Intro Mate 10, Big Screens, AI And A Desktop Solution

Huawei introduced the new Mate 10 today and set out its stall to cement its position as the second placed vendor in the global smartphone market.
The Mate 10 marks the point where Huawei has a flagship device which, on paper at least, competes directly with Apple and Samsung without having to play the value card. The new phone packs the best features of the current flagship offerings into a device topped off with some Huawei specific advances in AI.
There are actually three new Mate 10 models, standard, Pro and Posrche Design. The former uses an edge to edge 16:9 LCD display, which means you have a wider chassis (and thus a wider keyboard if input is your thing) whilst the Pro and Pro Porsche have an 18:9 OLED display, for those who really want tall and thin. The Porsche Design is effectively a shiny Pro for those who like premium badges.
There are differences in way the standard and Pro models work too. The former has a memory card slot and headphone jack, which the latter gives up …

Is This Tesla's Sputnik Moment?

Sputnik. The Soviet satellite that turned America's self belief upside down. It's become a byword for disruption when the incumbent realises its whole business model is no longer valid and drastic action is required to survive the threat of the newcomer.

Tesla's role in the auto industry has, thus far, been the one of disruptor, changing the way EVs have been perceived by customers and competitors alike.

In it's short time producing cars Tesla has become the newest premium brand. One of the incumbents if you like and now it is itself at risk of disruption.

This week may just have been the company's Sputnik Moment. Its failure to hit manufacturing targets for the Model 3, together with stagnant manufacturing numbers for the Model S and X show that it has failed to rise to the challenge of manufacturing a product at scale. 

Even worse, stories of fundemental problems with its production lines appearing in mainstream media suggest it has not even managed to build a functi…

Samsung's Bixby Is Not Competing With Apple And Siri

Samsung's Bixby will be reaching version 2.0 in the next week and based on the speed with which it has grown from its launch six months ago it's probably going to be an impressive update.

When it does arrive there will be many videos comparing Bixby to Siri. However I don't believe that Samsung is bothered about competing with Apple at all. 

Bixby is just one of Samsung's defensive moves against Google. 

When Google launched the Pixel last year it included a new voice assistant, Google Assistant, and it kept it exclusive to the Pixel for quite a while. 

That kind of forking of Android,  into a Google version with additional features and a regular version for everyone else, is almost certainly going to be the lever Google uses to bring Made by Google devices to the fore.

Samsung needs to ensure that it is competing with Google in every area where the search giant might decide to attack it be developing Pixel only features in future. 

So that means Bixby, it means the Galaxy A…

Is The V30 LG"s Breakout Device?

LG has produced a run of impressive phones, without managing to score the kind of sales or financial success you would expect from such highly rated devices.

The G6 arrived early enough to produce some column inches in the tech press and gain some notoriety for its camera, up until the point the Galaxy S8 arrived from Samsung. The newer processor and slicker design overshadowed the G6 completely. 

LG hasn't given up and the V30 is its late 2017 flagship device. It's currently being talked about as one of the leading smartphones on the market today. 

Whether another batch of positive publicity is going to help LG get itself a reputation amongst consumers remains to be seen. I still think LG's problem is not around the quality of its devices.

The problem is that LG is seen as a producer of white goods. Not a technology powerhouse like Apple or Samsung. Its reputation is so bad that it's getting outsold be unknown Chinese brands.

So once again the problem for the V30 is going…

F1: Ditching Honda May Not Be Enough For McLaren To Retain Alonso

Fernando Alonso has not been confirmed at McLaren for the 2018 season and it may be that the team's public divorce of Honda may not be enough to persuade him to do so.

Alonso had repeatedly demanded a car which will allow him to fight for race victories and, despite the successes of the Red Bull - Renault partnership, it may be that the double World Champion does not see a McLaren Renault partnership providing him with that opportunity.

Having stated his intention of adding the Indy 500 and Le Mans titles to his F1 titles, it may be that Alonso feels he is done with F1 and take a shot at Indy and / or Le Mans in 2018.

The IPhone 8 Represents Iterative Perfection

Apple has been selling the same basic design of iPhone for more than three years now. The iPhone 6 nas formed the template for iPhones since Apple embraced the importance of large screen designs.

With each update the basic iPhone template has been refined and improved to make the iPhone a more rounded and complete smartphone experience. Faster processors, larger storage defaults, better cameras and wireless charging. In fact, aside from the controversial removal of the headphone jack Apple has very much defined the term iteration.

If you loved previous versions of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 8 is the perfect phone for you.

In any other year the iPhone 8 would be the driver of a massive iPhone supercycle, in much the same way the iPhone 6 did. The promise of the iPhone X complicates that rather.

Right now, headphone jack notwithstanding, the iPhone 8 is one of the best smartphones money can buy. Whether the arrival of its flashier sibling does anything to change that remains to be seen. The l…

F1: Brendon Hartley To Drive For Toro Rosso At US Grand Prix

Toro Rosso's second race seat in America will be filled by Brendon Hartley the team has confirmed. The WEC Champion elect will be the first Kiwi to race in F1 in more than two decades.

Assuming things go well Hartley is likely to retain the seat for the remainder of the season and has a shot at partnering Pierre Gasly for 2017 well.

Commodore Fans Must Watch This Video

Why did Commodore fail? Here's some incredible insight from inside the operation during its rise and fall. The Amiga was the best, most powerful computer you could buy through the 80s and the 90s. It was light years ahead of the competition. How that became the car crash which ended with the death of Commodore at the hands of various owners is discussed here by Trevor Dickinson and David John Pleasance, talking to the Polish Amiga Portal.

Absolutely riveting stuff.

What's Happening At Samsung? CEO Resigns, Warning Of 'Unprecedented Crisis'

Following the incarceration of Chairman-elect Jay Y Lee back in August, the one thing Samsung needed was a period of stability. It doesn't appear, on the surface that it will get it. Oh-Hyun Kwon, CEO of Samsung Electronics, announced his regisgnation today, shortly after the company had updated its guidance for the current quarter to indicate record profits.
Kwon has just successfully negotiated Samsung out of the Note 7 crisis, with this record quarter following a similar achievement last quarter, seemed to have things running pretty smoothly.
Kwon's resignation letter, despite appearing to suggest the company is on the point of self destruction, actually demonstrates an incredible self-awareness and an appreciation of what's best for the long term strategy of the company.
The unprecedented crisis talked about by Kwon is Samsung's ability to respond to the next challenges - be they Google, Chinese OEM competition or component supply competition - and Kwon suggests t…

I Really Hope Microsoft's Surface Team Were Trolling Jony Ive When They Published This

This is the new range of accessories for the Surface Pro from Microsoft. The only thing actually new about them is the colour. Nothing remarkable there, just a shade of blue which the company are calling Aqua.

Except this page on the Windows Blog which describes how the Finnish designer Marimekko chose the colour created the colour just had to be self-parody doesn't it? Or an attempt to troll Apple's head of pretentious nonsense Jony Ive. 

Because if they're serious there's something seriously wrong in the Surface group in Seattle. 

Microsoft Edge For Android Arrives In Beta

Microsoft's Edge browser isn't even close to being the most popular browser on Windows 10, capturing just 20% of the Windows 10 browser market and 5% of the overall desktop browser share.
The limited penetration of the desktop market hasn't prevented Microsoft from pursuing the mobile browser market and this week iOS and Android versions of Edge arrived.
Now Edge isn't actually Edge on either platform, but Microsoft insists this isn't the point. Edge on Mobile is designed to bring the features which had been promised (or in some cases delivered) to Windows Mobile users to the handsets they have migrated to.
The Edge browser for Android turns out to be pretty good. It's fast and quite stable and for a beta release has a reasonable feature set.
There are a few missing features - dark mode for example - and a few areas where it lags behind Firefox and Samsing's browser - ad blocking extensions - but as a starting point it's not bad at all.
However, I'…