While it can never be faulted for being slow, Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone 8.1 still has some catching up to do with rival browsers from competing platforms, mostly regarding the way it displays some websites. My biggest gripe is that it quite often shows the desktop-optimized versions, when it should load the mobile-friendly versions instead (not the dated ones, mind you, like it does so frequently now).
Fortunately, those problems appear to be fixed in the version of Internet Explorer 11 found in Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. "Based on your feedback, we pursued a web experience for IE users consistent with what is available on iOS and Android devices -- even where this meant we would be adding non-standard web platform features", says Microsoft. "We believe that this is a more pragmatic approach to running today's less-standardized mobile web".
Microsoft, it is time to reconsider your Windows Phone plans. The tiled smartphone operating system's market share came in at a tiny 2.7 percent in Q2 2014, dropping from the 3.8 percent it claimed in the same period of last year. As a result, Windows Phone saw a 28.94 percent decrease year-over-year in market share, caused by low shipments of only 8.0 million units in the second quarter of the year, 0.9 million units less than in Q2 2013 when its shipments were at the 8.9 million units mark.
The data is from a new report issued by research firm Strategy Analytics, which adds "Windows Phone continued to struggle in the United States and China", the first two largest smartphone markets worldwide. There, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech places the platform at 3.8 percent and 0.9 percent market share, respectively. That is lower than in other markets such as Australia, where Windows Phone was able to reach 5.3 percent market in Q2 2014, as well as some parts of Europe.
The competition is heating up in the smartphone space, as, in Q3 2014, a dozen vendors have what it takes to shake up the top five smartphone makers list, according to a new report from research firm IDC. Judging by the standing from Q2 2014, the likely players in danger of losing their spots are Huawei, Lenovo and LG.
Samsung and Apple continue to be in a position of strength, with the two being responsible for 25.2 percent (74.3 million) and 11.9 percent (35.1 million), respectively, of the 295.3 million smartphones shipped in the quarter that ended June 30. That said, both lost market share compared to Q2 2013, when they claimed 32.3 percent and 13 percent, respectively, thanks to shipments of 77.3 million and 31.2 million units, respectively.
A few years ago it would have been unthinkable, but whispers that Apple and Samsung are losing their stranglehold on the market are growing louder.
It all stems from the fact that customers are becoming increasingly frustrated at the mobile market mono-culture. In the West especially, we've developed a sort of smartphone East Anglia: hedgeless, featureless and planted as far as the eye can see. This is the Samsung strimmer, the Apple Inc. lawnmower, cutting all other competition out of the market.
It's the question I keep asking, wondering whether to blame the device or my daughter. Last night, she texted: "My screen cracked again. I'm so sorry". That's the third shattered iPhone 5s since May; two 5ers busted before that. Clearly, she's fumble fingers, but something just doesn't seem right. The college student sticks the damn device in a protective case. Did Apple put pretty design before damage durability?
I spent several hours searching for smartphone breakage data today -- on the web and contacting several sources compiling stats. Strangely, the most compelling comparisons are years old. For example, in late 2010, SquareTrade reported that iPhone 4 accidents exceeded the 3GS and devices from competing smartphone manufacturers. In a 2012 survey of 2,000 iPhone users, 30 percent had damaged their device in the previous 12 months.
There was a time when Apple was the undisputed king of mobile. Since the release of the first iPhone in a barnstorming speech by Steve Jobs, the company went from strength to strength, dropping better models every year, and absolutely dominating the high-end mobile market.
Apple sold out of the launch shipments of the brand-new iPhone 5s in under two days, and sales of the iPhone have maintained Apple's profits despite a recent drop in iPad sales. But since Steve Jobs' death, Apple's competitors have been getting bolder. With the launch of the upcoming iPhone 6 coming in September, a number of high profile rivals have been snapping at Apple's heels with aggressive marketing, attack ads and a general lack of respect for the venerable giant of mobile technology. Here are a couple of hints that Apple's competitors are sensing a weakening of the giant.
Apple has updated its MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup with faster processors across the board and more RAM in the base 13.3-inch and 15.4-inch models, that kick off at $1,299 and $1,999, respectively. The new processors are 200 MHz faster than before.
Both the entry-level and mid-range 13.3-inch Retina MacBook Pros come with a 2.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.1 GHz), while the high-end model packs an even faster 2.8 GHz processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.3 GHz). The base model gains 8 GB of RAM in the new generation, twice as much as its predecessor offered, but retains its 128 GB of internal storage.
Even though Cortana shares some major design traits with Google Now, there is no denying that the new Windows Phone 8.1 personal assistant actually feels more like a Siri rival. That is due to their uncanny wittiness and human-like personality, two things that are just not there in Google's (clinical, albeit mighty powerful) offering.
Cortana is gunning for Siri as the latter is a more talked-about personal assistant than Google Now is (and will likely ever be). So it should come as no surprise that, in a new Windows Phone 8.1 ad titled Happy Anniversary, Microsoft pits the two against each-other. And, obviously, Cortana embarrasses its opponent.
BlackBerry isn’t losing any sleep over the recent enterprise tie-up between IBM and Apple as their CEO John Chen compared it to a couple of large mammals taking to the dance floor.
Chen, talking to the Financial Times, likened the partnership to when "two elephants start dancing" and thinks that the firm he is slowly rebuilding has enough in the bag to compete with anyone that challenges it in the enterprise market.
Piriform Ltd has released CCleaner for Mac 1.08, a minor update to the Mac version of its freeware cleaning tool. Unlike the Windows version, which is updated monthly, CCleaner for Mac’s updates are more sporadic -- this is the first new release since November last year.
The new version opens by adding support for the OS X 10.10 Yosemite Developer Preview, which should mean it’ll work with the final version when it’s released later this year, although a further update for official compatibility is likely.
Eighth in a series. What goes around comes around. It's cliché but describes my return to Nokia after abandoning the brand five years ago. I never expected to come back, and the app experience, while a backwater compared to Android or iOS, is little different than when I left. Cameras are great and app selection limited, but it's hugely improved because of Microsoft.
Nokia was in 2009 still the world's mobile handset leader, except for one major market: The United States. As such, Symbian dominated mobile app development, even as iOS rose in prominence. (Remember: Apple opened its app store in July 2008, and the first Android phone shipped a few months later.) But the majority of apps and supporting services, developed by Nokia and third-parties, best suited the rest of the world. Americans had limited choices on the company's handsets.
Bing is a wonderful search engine. My love for it is hardly a secret, as I declared my affection earlier today. However, while Internet Explorer is getting better all the time, Chrome is still my preferred browser on Windows, Linux and OS X. Unfortunately, using Bing as the default search engine on Chrome just felt wrong. I pictured Google employees spying on my web activity and shaking their heads in disappointment at my horrible crime.
Of course, that is not really happening (I hope), but still Bing on Chrome felt out of place and third-rate in comparison to Google. Today, this changes as Bing comes to new tabs in the Chrome browser.
For a tech nerd, there is nothing more fun than getting a new smartphone. When you get that little box home and carefully open it, it is like reliving Christmas as a child. For some, the contents of the box is just a smartphone, but to others like me and you, it is pure magic.
Sadly, smartphones can be a bit fragile -- dropping it on the concrete or other surface can crack the screen or make the device inoperable. This would be like a child witnessing Santa Claus' sleigh crashing into a tree and turning into a fireball on Christmas Eve -- a nightmare. Of course, you can get a case to protect it, but many of them are bulky and ugly. If you have a beautiful iPhone 5s or Galaxy S5, the last thing you want to do is make it unattractive. No worries, Logitech is once again here to save the day with the beautiful protection+ case for both of those phones.
Given that I used to work for Apple and have lately been quite critical of IBM, readers are wondering what I think of Tuesday’s announcement of an iOS partnership of sorts between Apple and IBM. I think it makes good sense for both companies but isn’t a slam dunk for either.
There are three aspects to this deal -- hardware, apps, and cloud services. For Apple the deal presents primarily a new distribution channel for iPhones and iPads. Apple can always use new channels, especially if they hold inventory and support customers who aren’t price-sensitive. Apple’s primary goal is to simply get more devices inside Big Business and this is a good way to do that.
For years, Steve Jobs fought the good fight against IBM and IBM compatibles. Heck, Apple was the anti-IBM. Sure, the fruit-logo company was out to make money, but not at any cost -- products and perception mattered. To many Apple enthusiasts, IBM was looked at as a dinosaur. Ultimately, IBM failed as a personal computer company, but thrives today offering services. The once mighty ThinkPad line is now property of the Chinese, by way of Lenovo. Apple stands strong in America.
Boy oh boy, Jobs must be spinning in his grave. Today, Apple and IBM join forces to strengthen iOS for the enterprise. Make no mistake, this is not Apple throwing IBM a bone. No, IBM is the stronger enterprise brand lending legitimacy to the iPhone and iPad for business. Big Blue is hired muscle for Apple.