It’s fair to say the iPhone 5c hasn’t been a major success for Apple so far. Rumors prior to its launch suggested it would be a cheap iPhone, and while it is more affordable than the flagship 5s, it certainly isn’t "cheap". Those low cost expectations coupled with the actual price have affected the iPhone 5c’s sales -- with many buyers preferring to spend a little extra to get the 5s.
That might change soon though, as Apple has rolled out an 8GB variant of the iPhone 5c, making it available across Europe and China from today.
The tablet market is showing strong, continuous growth year-over-year. Research firm Gartner today announces that slate sales in 2013 increased by 68 percent compared to the year before. Android takes the market share crown after more than doubling its sales, iOS came second and Windows follows in third place.
Of the three, iOS was the only platform that did not post tremendous year-over-year growth. Android increased its sales, and lead over Apple's iPads, to 120.96 million units in 2013, up from the 53.34 million units sold in 2012. Meanwhile, Windows grew to 4 million units, which is, again, considerably higher than in the previous year when sales topped 1.16 million units. In contrast, iPad sales came in at 70.4 million units, marginally more than the 61.45 million units sold in the year before.
In its new "honestly" commercial, Microsoft shows us a man who has just purchased a Surface 2. "This deal was way too good to believe", says the happy purchaser, with a bag tucked under his arm. "Instead of paying too much for an iPad, I got this Surface 2", he adds, before telling the camera it comes with Office (a Surface commercial that mentions that? Amazing!) and Outlook, free Skype calls to over 60 countries, and 200 GB of cloud storage ("others charge for that").
He’s clearly happy with his purchase, so I don’t want to burst his bubble, but I’m going to anyway.
Laplink Software has released Laplink Sync for iOS 7.0, the latest release in Laplink's new Sync family, a collection of tools designed to allow users to manually sync media and other files across multiple platforms.
The app allows users to sync photos and videos between iPads, iPhones and iPod touches, and -- for an extra fee -- can also be used to sync with Android mobiles and Windows PCs running Laplink Sync for desktop. A Mac version is currently in development.
The world of VoIP services is one packed with various names bustling for attention. One of the biggest names in the game is Viber, which started small but grew impressively as it spread across platforms -- now it has grown to the point that it is deemed worthy of handing over $900 million. At least that is the view of Rakuten, the Japanese firm behind Play.com and the Kobo eReader that agreed to part with this not insubstantial sum of money for an outright purchase of Viber Media Ltd.
With around 280 million registered users, Viber could be quite a money-maker for Rakuten who explained that the service has a "rapidly growing numbers of users, especially in emerging countries". With its fingers already in various online pies -- ebooks, shopping and streaming media through Wuaki.tv -- Viber represents yet another string to Rakuten's bow as the company "aims to be the global number one internet services" provider.
Sonico GmbH has released iTranslate Voice 2.1, a complete remake of its language translation app for iPad and iPhone. The app -- which now requires iOS 7 or later -- takes full advantage of several iOS 7 improvements, and sports a new user interface optimized for the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS.
iTranslate Voice 2.1 launches with a 50 per cent price reduction on the previous version, and comes with support for translating while offline, as well as the promise of improved voice recognition.
Fifth in a series. A big week for Apple as the company delivered record fiscal first quarter results -- $57.6 billion revenue and $13.1 billion net profit. The tech giant revealed it had shipped 51 million iPhones, an all-time quarterly record, compared to 47.8 million a year-ago, and 26 million iPads, up from 22.9 million in the same period a year ago. Wall Street wasn’t impressed, but that’s to be expected.
Of course a big part of Apple’s success is the number and quality of apps available for its hardware. As the owner of both iOS and Android devices, I find the apps for the iPhone and iPad to be vastly superior (although there are always exceptions). There’s less garbage, and far fewer ad-riddled apps. Part of that reason is Apple’s strict approval process, and the amount of money it pays to developers -- $2 billion in its fiscal first quarter -- helps too.
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.