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Showing posts from October 22, 2017

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.