So much for Apple's tablet reign that analysts stoutly stood by even just months ago. Android kicks ass, crushing iOS shipments during first quarter, according to IDC. Among the top four, the fruit-logo company posted the lowest year-over-year growth (65.3 percent), and considerably less than the overall market (142.4 percent). Meanwhile, the company's market share fell by 18.5 points to 39.6 percent.
Among tablet manufacturers, Apple is market leader, with the question being for how much longer. Samsung share rose 282.6 percent -- ASUS even more (350 percent). Strong Nexus 7 shipments pushed ASUS past Amazon to take third place. ASUS' challenge and opportunity could be Google I/O, where the tablet launched last year and new model is rumored for the event starting May 15. Challenge is maintaining shipments during product transition; opportunity is capitalizing on new sales.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers, publishes its report on safety in the digital age. There are some winners and also some major losers this time around in the "Who has your back?" statement -- hint put down your cell phone, step away slowly and nobody gets hurt.
The annual report looks at major technology service providers' commitment to users' rights in the face of government data demands. EFF examines 18 companies' terms of service, privacy policies, advocacy, and courtroom track records and awards up to six gold stars for best practices in categories such as requiring a warrant for content, telling users about government data demands and publishing a transparency report.
Last week, I scolded colleague Mihaita Bamburic for writing old news -- charity auction for coffee with Apple's CEO. When I saw the item, someone offered $50,000 for 30 minutes with Tim Cook. About 24 hours later, when Mihaita posted: $180,000. Now, after 84 bids and 13 days to go, the number is $600,000. That bid, placed five days ago, looks like as much as anyone will pay.
I know that Apple products are notoriously pricey, but there is something simply unfathomable about paying so much for a cup of brew with Cook. No disrespect to him, but I could see this kind of cash to sit with Steve Jobs, who isn't available for obvious reasons. The winning bid (so far) is worth $20,000 a minute. The cash does go to charity. But really, pay $333.33 per second?
If you want to buy a Galaxy S4 and are a clumsy person then you might want to invest in an aftermarket case (or rethink your decision). According to SquareTrade, a company that provides protection plans, Samsung's latest Android flagship smartphone is easy to break, more so than the Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 5.
SquareTrade pits the three smartphones against each other in eight key areas including front panel protection, grip, water resistance and drops. The Galaxy S4 scored badly in the slide and drop tests, grip-ability and size, giving it the highest breakability mark of seven out of 10 (lowest scores are best).
A decade ago yesterday, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store and changed how we buy music. For those of you too young to remember or so old to have forgotten, Microsoft and Apple engaged in an epic struggle to dominate the fledgling legal digital music market -- all while trading in ripped files soared, despite Napster's closure. You remember it, right?
I was all too glad to pay for music, if only given the opportunity, as clearly were others. iTunes Music Store launched with 200,000 tracks -- a gigantic number at the time -- from five labels: BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal and Warner. Singles priced at 99 cents, albums at $9.99, hit the sweet spot for what consumers would pay, while undercutting physical media prices. Of course, the real competition was free, pirated stuff.
You will reads lots of dribble today about Samsung first quarter phone gains compared to Apple. Most will ignore something fundamental to the numbers: What they represent. IDC and Strategy Analytics separately put out data, for shipments, which mean handsets going to carriers, dealers and other sellers. That's very different from sales to businesses and consumers, Gartner's measure and the more accurate one (that data isn't ready yet).
For few quarters is the difference between shipments and sales likely to be so pronounced, actually even more so in Q2. Apple comes off its second full quarter of iPhone 5 sales and global distribution, and so shipments into the channel, nearly complete. Meanwhile, Samsung ramps up for Galaxy S4's launch, while achieving full global availability for the S III. Second quarter is the more likely bloodbath for Apple, but actual sales will foreshadow much. Still, shipments hint something now, and iPhone faces serious challenges.
If you don't mind overpaying for a cup of coffee then you must read this story. Charitybuzz lists an auction which gives the highest bidder the opportunity to have coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook at the fruit-logo company's headquarters in Cuppertino, California. The proceeds of the auction will be donated by the man himself to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.
The only thing that's stopping you from grabbing that cup of coffee with one of the most influential men in tech history is, at least at the moment, a $180,000 bid. Truth be told you have to pay at least $185,000, according to Charitybuzz, in order to outbid the current leader. That's a lot by most people's standards (well, unless you're a billionaire who has a thing for charity). Well at least the terms of the auction are in your favor.
Today's closing bell brings answer to a question oft-asked over the past two weeks: "Will Apple profits fall for the first time in about a decade?" Not since 2003, when the fruit-logo company recovered from economic woes that sapped global PC shipments everywhere, has profit receded. Now we know.
For fiscal Q2, Apple reported $43.6 billion revenue and net profits of $9.5 billion, or $10.06 a share. Gross margin: 37.5 percent. A year earlier, the company reported revenue of $39.2 billion and $11.6 billion net quarterly profit, or $12.30 per share.
A rather fanciful and irresponsible commentary at Forbes today asserts Apple is looking for a new chief executive. "Some Wall Street sources close to some Apple executives say such a move is afoot", contributor Gene Marcial writes, without offering any more meaningful identification in that. What? Were the boys talking between toilet stalls again?
At the very best, his sources are second-hand. Hearsay. Regardless, replacing Tim Cook is the wrong solution because his management isn't the problem, nor should he be ousted simply because the stock is in freefall. The fruit-logo company is a money machine, enormous in his hands compared to predecessor Steve Jobs. What Cook lacks is what Jobs had: a chief operating officer. Apple needs to find one -- now -- and public COO search might even boost investor confidence, which lacking perplexes me, given how much money this company mints.
Last night, I rushed off to the local mall intent on seeing movie "Oblivion", but the 6:45 p.m. show was sold out. So I walked around and spent time inside Apple and Microsoft retail shops. At Apple Store, I had two objectives: finding out the cost of replacing a shattered iPhone 5 screen (not available, refurb phone is $229 option) and observing how the company sells T-Mobile models alongside those from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. Pink's unlocked phone costs less upfront compared to Blue, Red and Yellow and is financed for 24 months. Apple presents T-Mobile iPhone 5 as costing considerably more.
Apple Store provides product information on iPads, which is a subtle way of promoting the devices. The marketing page presents 16GB iPhone 5 as selling "from $199" for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon and "from $649" for T-Mobile, which is technically true but also misleading. The $199 represents the big three's upfront price. T-Mobile asks about half as much, $99.99, upfront. But Apple lists T-Mobile's price as $450 more. Who wants to pay $649 when the others charge $199?
Eight days ago, iPhone 5 debuted at T-Mobile. I should have watched more carefully. The carrier also has iPhone 4 and 4S, and that surprises me. I wondered if Apple Store would carry Pink's variants, too, given the comparatively low starting price. Yes is the answer, and cleverly.
From AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, the 16GB iPhone 5 is $199 upfront with 2-year contractual commitment. T-Mobile's handset sells for $99.99 down plus 24 $20-month payments, no contract required. Surely, the three big carriers would gripe if Apple listed their phones alongside T-Mobile's for twice the upfront price. Solution: The fruit-logo company sells Pink unlocked for full price and T-Mobile SIM. But typical of Apple, expect no bargain. T-Mobile sells the phone for $579.99. Apple asks $640.
UK polling company YouGov has released the results of its latest Quarterly Tablet Tracker for the first three months of 2013. It shows that consumers now see Android tablets as equal in quality to the iPad and as a result their makers are eating into Apple's share of the premium market.
Although it still has the largest slice of the UK's tablet market, Apple has seen its share drop by 10 percent in the past 12 months. Despite the launch of the iPad Mini and 4th generation iPad, Apple now has 63 percent of the market compared to 73 percent this time last year.
Facebook has released Facebook for iOS 6.0, a major update for its iPhone and iPad app. The major new feature in version 6 is the introduction of "chat heads", which allow users to chat from anywhere in the app -- this feature isn’t yet universally available, but should be rolled out to all users "soon", according to Facebook.
Chat heads are small circular icons representing both individual chatters and Facebook Messages. The chat head appears automatically when receiving a message, or can be manually set up by tapping the contact’s name in the contacts list.
Twenty-first in a series. The final chapter to the first edition, circa 1991, of Robert X. Cringely's Accidental Empires concludes with some predictions prophetic and others, well...
Remember Pogo? Pogo was Doonesbury in a swamp, the first political cartoon good enough to make it off the editorial page and into the high-rent district next to the horoscope. Pogo was a ‘possum who looked as if he was dressed for a Harvard class reunion and who acted as the moral conscience for the first generation of Americans who knew how to read but had decided not to.
Little over two weeks ago, with much fanfare, T-Mobile announced that the iPhone 5 officially arrives in its smartphone portfolio. And, today, after a week of pre-orders, the Apple-branded handset finally goes on sale at the fourth-largest US mobile operator.
T-Mobile is the last of the four major mobile networks in the US to get the iPhone 5, after AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Also, the iPhone 5 is the first fruit-branded smartphone to officially reach the "un-carrier" -- as T-Mobile likes to call itself -- little short of six years after the first iteration came to market.