The more I ponder Apple's Beats acquisition, the less sense it makes. Buying big well-known brands that compete with yours is usually a bad idea -- worse when the acquirer owns no foreign brands. Extinguishing the big name, as Microsoft does with Nokia, is marketing murder. There's no place for the Beats brand in the Apple lexicon. The gun is drawn and ready to fire.
What I do see is another sign that Apple has lost its way. Tim Cook is a very able CEO, but as stated previously he is Star Trek's Spock without Captain Kirk (Steve Jobs). Cook's approach to business logistics, while brilliant, unmakes Apple. Beats is an acquisition that is off-key -- out of tune with the culture that made the fruit-logo company great. As such, on this Thursday in May, comes my confession. I was wrong five years ago in post "Why Apple succeeds, and always will". That company is gone.
A number of iPhone and iPad users have fallen foul of a particularly nasty hack, in which they find themselves locked out of their devices unless they pay to have them unlocked.
The extortionist leaves a message claiming to be from the well-known software engineer Oleg Pliss. A message on the screen reads "Device hacked by Oleg Pliss", and encourages the user to pay $100.
Holding a device for ransom is a scary practice. Hackers seize control, and then ask the owner to pay a fee to unlock it. If the victim does not comply with their demand, there is little that can be done to regain access to private data, which may include sensitive information like bank account passwords, photos, work documents and so on. Some people cave in, paying the hackers. Others refuse and end up losing everything on their device.
Some Australian Apple users are reporting they are dealing with a hacker (or group of hackers) that goes by the name Oleg Pliss, that holds their iOS and Mac devices for ransom, demanding a certain fee (initial reports say $100) to relinquish control. Affected Apple devices have been locked through Find My iPhone, a tool that lets users track their enrolled iOS and Mac devices, basically rendering them useless.
I learned about the change yesterday, unhappily. File this story under "read the fineprint department". Since Apple introduced its extended warranty plan, I have praised the benefits and plucked down the extra $99 for every new iOS device. AppleCare+ extends standard repair coverage to two years and offers fairly affordable replacement -- up to two times. Somehow I missed that Apple raised replacement price to $79 from $49 for iPhone.
The saga started around the midday meal. My daughter expressed amazement how last week her iPhone 5s popped out of her jeans and fell from a third-story balcony. No damage. Twenty-minutes later, while we sorted clothes for the thrift store in the garage, she fumbled the device, which fell face flat onto the cement -- shattering the screen. No words can describe either of our reactions. The irony was so thick my eyeglasses fogged.
Today is a day of celebration for fans of Any.Do -- the todo list and task manager for iOS, Android and Chrome. Some four years after its inception -- and after many, many demands from the service's user base -- Any.Do has, at long, long last, gained a web app. Founders Omer Perchik, Yoni Lindenfeld, and Itay Kahana have successfully avoided a brouhaha from users by finally delivering what they describe as "the number one most requested feature by our users".
Any.Do has proved incredibly successful on mobile platforms -- as well as in Google's web browser -- amassing more than 10 million users. Perchik says: "Web is a huge market we haven't even touched yet. There's a world of people who haven't considered us because they need a full web experience, right on their computer screens" of the launch. "We're conquering mobile, now it's time to break out in a broader market".
Goldilocks knocks on Apple's door looking for the right mobile device. She first picks up iPad Air, which with 9.7-inch screen is too big. Then she tries 4-inch iPhone 5s, but it's too small. Finally she grabs iPad mini, thinking the 7.9-inch display is just right. But unlike the fairy tale, Goldilocks is disappointed. She drops the tablet, goes next door to Samsung's house, and takes the Galaxy Note 3, which at 5.7 inches -- and with stylus -- is just right.
There's a gaping hole in Apple's product line -- and one CEO Tim Cook better quickly fix. Through it sales leak to competitors, but into a category where Apple doesn't compete. Tech-Thoughts analyst Sameer Singh observes about first calendar quarter global handsets: "As of now, we can assume that ~20 percent of all smartphones shipped have screen sizes large enough to become acceptable substitutes for tablet computing tasks".
Transferring files between an iPhone and iPad is easy. If you’re running iOS 7 on both devices you can use the AirDrop feature. Transferring files from an Apple device to a PC (and vice versa) is trickier though, and often involves emailing them, or using a cloud drive.
iStick is a clever solution that functions as a USB flash drive, but comes with a Lightning connector on the opposite end, allowing it to be used with iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. As well as transferring files between devices, you can play music or watch movies directly from the iStick.
It seems that lately, consumers prefer wireless for everything. Sure, wires may look old-school, but I like them. My wired keyboards and mice never run out of juice or have connectivity issues. As great as WiFi is, whenever possible, I try to use ethernet cable too. Despite what some recent DirecTV commercials say, wires are not ugly!
When I use my iPad for creation, I typically use a Bluetooth keyboard with great results. However, the battery on it must be charged, and most of them utilize microUSB. And so, I must remember to pack an extra cable when traveling just in case. Today, accessory-giant Griffin releases the Wired Keyboard for iOS Devices and I am intrigued. Yes, you actually plug a wire into an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
Less than a year after the launch of the Ascend P6, Huawei has revealed its latest flagship, the Ascend P7. The Chinese company, which is a massive force in the telecommunications sector, is desperate to make a similar impact in the smartphone arena.
Many in the industry had already written off Huawei's attempts well before the P7's launch, simply because they feel that the competition is far too strong. One of these rivals is the Apple iPhone 5s. So how do the devices measure up to each other?
Any efforts to break the Android and iOS duopoly in the smartphone market appear to be for naught as the pair continues to take the lion's share of shipments and sales. Even third place occupant Windows Phone struggles to gain significant territory, despite higher unit volumes.
A new report from ABI Research shows Android, iOS, and Windows Phone shipments grew in Q1 2014, compared to the same period from 2013. Despite this increase, Apple's platform lost share quarter-over-quarter, dropping from 11 percent to 10 percent. Meanwhile, Android and Windows Phone's shares grew, sequentially, to 44 percent from 39 percent, and to 3 percent from 2 percent, respectively. The numbers are lower than what the likes of IDC report because ABI Research's data combines smartphone and phone shipments.
If you own an iPhone, you're more likely to be sending risqué messages to your significant other -- or at least that's the finding of a new survey.
The poll, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by insurance2go.co.uk, found that a third of iPhone owners -- over 30 percent -- had sent a rude text to their partner (or indeed, to someone else instead of their partner for one of those truly foot-in-mouth moments).
Each month, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech releases a new report on the state of the smartphone market, revealing the performance of the top players in the most important markets across the globe. Today, the research firm treats us to the (highly-anticipated) results for Q1 2014.
The smartphone market is mostly seeing slight changes, as growth is no longer happening at the rate it once used to, with the biggest year-over-year differences confined to single digits. The side-effect is there is little room for less popular players, like Microsoft's Windows Phone, which have to fight for whatever ground the Android and iOS duopoly leaves unconquered.
I meant to write this yesterday, but day late is better than never. Listening to Apple's fiscal second quarter 2014 earnings conference call on Wednesday, I was awed by how cleverly and aggressively CEO Tim Cook stated growth metrics for iPad and iPhone. My immediate reaction: "What is he hiding?" Wall Street beat down Apple shares following release of great Q1 results three months ago. From the stated stats to announced 7-to-1 stock split, seems to me like Cook intended to aggressively and proactively manage perceptions -- and he did. He was unusually free sharing sales and growth data, which is uncharacteristic of Apple but typical of perception management tactics.
Company cofounder Steve Jobs was a master marketer. Cook isn't in the same league of inspiring people to believe that "One More Thing" aspires greater happiness. But Cook lived up to his name -- cooking the numbers -- in Jobs-like sleight of hand. Look here people, instead of over there, and witness magic rather than the trick. But behind the veil, iPad and iPhone don't look as great as he presented them. One thing you learn, if working as a journalist long enough: When to recognize misdirection or deception.
The Apple of Wall Street's eye takes little bruising today, with announcement of fiscal second quarter results. During three months when concerns about falling revenues and profits was constant rumbling, the fruit-logo company defies the worst naysayers.
For fiscal Q2, Apple reports $45.6 billion revenue and net profit of $10.2 billion, or $11.62 a share. Gross margin: 39.3 percent. International sales accounted for 66 percent of revenues. A year earlier, the company reported revenue of $43.6 billion and $9.5 billion net quarterly profit, or $10.06 per share. Gross margin was 37.5 percent.
Bill Gates just took a bite out of a forbidden fruit. Microsoft's founder has been seen using an iPhone 5s while departing for a philanthropic endeavour, despite his role at the software giant and having a no-Apple-device-allowed policy in his family.
Gates's kids were taken by surprise, after asking to use iPhones since 2007 and being told "No", but said they understand and support his choice as Apple's smartphone "is pretty cool". Gates' decision to buy an iPhone 5s, in white with, naturally, a (Product) Red case, was fueled by Bono's taunts, as U2's lead singer repeatedly teased Gates for not being able to beat him at Candy Crush.