You would think that after Apple delivered fiscal first quarter record results -- we're talking $57.6 billion revenue and $13.1 billion net profit -- that investors would be happy. But, no-o-o! Apple shares sank more than 8.5 percent in after-hours trading last night. They are down about 8 percent in midday trading. That's what happens when perceptions about the future, rather than present performance, define a company.
But the problem is bigger than just Wall Street analyst or investor fear frenzy. There's an echo chamber bellowing this fine Tuesday, as bloggers and journalists stumble over one another to sound the loudest alarm. After seeing the headlines on Yahoo Finance -- like "New Apple looks like the old Microsoft", "Cure to what ails Apple can be found in the margins", or "How does Apple get its mojo back?" -- I realize someone needs to do a reality check. Geez Louise, Apple had a fantastic quarter. The apocalyptic reaction is nothing less than insanity.
What's that? Another music streaming service? Another one?! You could be forgiven for having this reaction to the news that Dr Dre's Beats Music is now available for iOS and Android; this is a market that is already rather saturated, and music lovers are not exactly short of options when it comes to picking a service to satiate their audio needs. So any new service vying for attention has to have something rather unique to offer if it is going to stand out from the competition.
Beats Music does have a unique selling point. It is a service that is about more than just streaming music, it aims to deliver the right music according to the time of day, what you are doing and where you are. Is this sort of stream tailoring enough to win over music fans? Only time will tell, but Beats Music certainly has a fight on its hands if it is to wrestle users away from the existing services that have been established for some time.
Third in a series. The holiday season is well and truly behind us now and there's lots of big and important new releases and updates in the App Store this week. One of the most significant is a new app from Google which sees the search giant challenging Apple’s own iTunes Store (albeit with some very important Apple-appeasing limitations).
Elsewhere, cloud storage service Box announced that it has rewritten its app to make it "super-fast, simpler to use and more immersive", and as an incentive for users to try it out the app now comes with 50 GB of storage for free, which definitely makes it worth the download. You can read more about the update here.
It seems to be a big day for cloud storage. Earlier Google added additional functionality to its Drive product. Now Box has an update of its own, though this new release is geared towards the mobile crowd, bringing more storage to those on iOS devices.
Additional cloud storage isn't all that's included, though. "We've overhauled our app to make it super-fast, simpler to use and more immersive. The result, we believe, is the best content viewing and collaboration experience available today for your iOS device".
There has been a lot of talk about 2014 being the year of wearable tech. I'm yet to try out Google glass, but I can see its appeal -- providing the price drops a little! -- yet what interests me are smart versions of existing things we already wear. (I will grant you that Glass kind of falls into this category, but not everyone wears glasses) There have been quite a lot of smart watches over the last year, but they have a tendency to be rather ugly, bulky, or require an additional, specific device in order to function correctly. Yes, Galaxy Gear, I'm pointing at you.
But things are starting to evolve quite nicely. The new Pebble Steel is a spectacular smart watch that overcomes the looks issue that has blighted other models. The three models -- black leather, stainless steel and black matte -- all look great, and don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. This is a smart watch that looks like a watch rather than a smart watch, and this is where wearable technology stands or falls. An incredible piece of technology should be capable of just blending in and getting on with its job rather than jumping up, grabbing your eyeballs and demanding LOOK AT ME!
Second in a series. Big news for Apple this week as the tech giant announces that App Store sales topped $10 billion in 2013, including over $1 billion in December alone. iOS users downloaded almost three billion apps in that one month, which is an incredible figure.
Now the holidays are over, it’s back to business in the App Store, and lots of new apps have been released or updated and there are loads of great new games out too.
We’re a week into the New Year, a time to look to the future, and all the news flooding out of CES has us excited for what’s coming up. But that’s not to say we can’t still take some time to look back on 2013 -- a year that brought us some great (and not so great) tech.
FinancesOnline.com has created a new infographic summing up 2013 in tech launches and featuring the best smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Each of the included devices has been sorted into the following categories:
While the rest of the tech world is announcing hot new products at CES, Apple has chosen this time to reveal some app sales figures in the hope of generating a little press of its own. As you’d expect the numbers it’s offering today are pretty spectacular.
In December iOS users downloaded almost three billion apps, which Apple says makes it the most successful month in the history of the App Store.
Retrofitting tablets with keyboard cases is nothing new. Since the advent of the iPad, users have been trying to use Apple's device as a laptop replacement. For the most part, it can work perfectly -- as long as you get the right keyboard case.
Logitech is one of my favorite companies and it has been making quality iPad accessories for years. I am currently loving the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio case for the iPad Air. As great as that setup is, I have longed for a larger screen and wider keyboard. Well, Samsung delivered the bigger screen with the TabPRO and NotePRO tablets and now Logitech delivers the wider keyboard with the Logitech PRO.
There are some near console-quality games available on the iPad, so it makes sense to have a console grade controller to play them with. Gaming peripherals and accessories maker SteelSeries today introduces the Stratus, a wireless gaming controller specifically designed for devices running iOS 7.
The controller, which claims 10+ hours of battery-life (and takes two hours to charge), connects to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth, freeing up Wi-Fi so you can play the games on the big screen via AppleTV using AirPlay Mirroring.
I have previously explained the concept of tablet market tiers and the pattern of upmarket competition among Android vendors as they continue to fight for reasonable hardware margins.
Recent tablet install base data from ABI research seems to support this hypothesis and describes the same pattern we saw in the smartphone market. This also helps explains why Apple needs an iPad Pro.
Better last than never. Colleagues Ian Barker, Alan Buckingham, Brian Fagioli, Mihaita Bamburic, Wayne Williams, and Mark Wilson have all picked their favorite tech for the year. I join them. Only things I actually have used qualify for consideration.
My list focuses on one aspect: Value. Which products I see delivering the most value for money spent. Surely your value choices will differ. You can spend 25 cents and get loads of value from something or $2,500 and little at all. With that short introduction, I present my five favorite tech products of 2013 (and one from 2005, newly discovered).
Opera Software has announced that Coast, its iPad web browser, has been updated to version 2.0.
New audio support means that this release can play music directly, without requiring an extra app. There are more ways to customize your Coast wallpaper. As well as setting it to your preferred web image, you can point the program at one of eight bundled backgrounds, or use an image from your photo roll. Just long press the home screen and choose whatever you need.
Despite their similarities, Android always seemed to exist to be the opposite of iOS. In other words, if Apple's mobile OS was popular culture, Google was a counter-culture. In the earlier days, Android had copy and paste, removable batteries, expandable memory, the ability to tinker, but many of those differences are virtually gone -- through Apple's additions and Google's subtractions. It was because of those differences, that I entered into the Google ecosystem with Android -- I have been rather happy. Lately however, I have been a bit unhappy with the direction of Android. Locked bootloaders, lack of SD card slots, non-accessible batteries. Sure, these things are technically not a part of the Android OS, but they are a part of the overall experience. While iOS doesn't offer these things either, at least Apple was upfront about that from the start.
When Apple announced the svelte, yet powerful iPad Air, I was immediately in love. The dark holo theme of Android is just utterly depressing. Conversely, the iPad Air is bright and beautiful, thanks to iOS 7. My problem though, was that I was deeply entrenched in Google's world -- I was worried about moving to a competitor's platform. I love Google services like Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome and YouTube. Quite frankly, I cannot live without those things. Despite these fears, I bought an iPad Air and couldn't be happier. Not only is the build quality better than any Android tablet, the overall experience is better thanks to the superior UI. Not to mention, all of my desired Google apps are on iOS and they look and work better on Apple's operating system too.
The tech world seems to be slowling down slightly in the run up to Christmas, but there have still been a lot of stories over the past seven days. There are sure to be a whole new raft of sales to look forward to both before and after Christmas, but if the Thanksgiving sales are anything to go by they may not offer as good a deal as first appearances would have you believe. Whether you bag a bargain or not, it looks as though tech presents are going to be as popular as ever this year -- and if you buy a Windows device, you'll get a free gift card.
After Microsoft tried comparing the Surface to the iPad Air, Amazon decided to follow suit -- guess which was more popular! Microsoft kept its fire trained on Google, taking a swipe at the Chromebook. Tablet makers may be pushing their product in the run up to Christmas, but PC shipments have suffered the largest decline ever. New computers will have an updated USB connection in the near future. USB type C brings to an end a problem that has plagued anyone who has ever plugged in a USB cable -- this generation can be plugged in either way up!