That grinding against wood and dirt you hear is the sound of Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. Microsoft is back! And badass! Today's Surface event in New York City outclasses Apple by every measure that matters: Aspiration, innovation, presentation, and promotional marketing. Microsoft proves that it can build end-to-end solutions—hardware, software, and services—as good as, and better than, the company cofounded by Jobs. Even more importantly: Present the new wares well. Today's event was exceptional.
But there is a shadow looming in the brightness that will matter to some Microsoft customers and not to others: Cost. Surface Book, for all its seeming greatness, is a budget-busting laptop for the majority of potential buyers. The low-cost config, at $1,499, comes with 6th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB storage. To get the discreet graphics demoed today, with i7 chip, 8GB memory, and 256 SSD, you will spend $2,099. Doubling RAM and storage raises the price to $2,699.
It's no secret that PC shipments have plummeted over the years. OEMs are betting big on Windows 10, hoping to attract users to upgrade to a new machine. But they might end up being disappointed. According to ABI Research, despite the release of a new desktop operating system, the shipments will continue to fall.
The marketing research firm says that about 165 million units of portable computers will ship in 2015, a figure that is actually less than 2014's shipment number. So what went wrong?
This week, I had opportunity to use Apple Watch, making it third of the modern smart variety that I have experienced (the others being LG Urbane and Moto 360). The differences between the platforms are quite startling and worth highlighting. They begin with diverging design ethics derived from the fruit-logo company's app-centric heritage and Google's place in the cloud.
For people who use either Android handset or iPhone, existing device really determines what watch platform you choose, if any—that is for now. Down the path you go. But where it leads is somewhere else, not the same destination. One platform is more responsive to you in varying contextual situations. The other requires more direct interaction, but gives other benefits.
I love my Nexus 6. This morning, while waking to the rush of caffeine from steaming coffee, I read headlines on the device. "I’m Phed Up With Phablets: They're too big to prevail" caught my attention. The short commentary, by Brian Rubin for ReadWrite, rails against the bigger-is-better-smartphone trend. Screen on my cellular is massive: 6 inches, and I forever promised myself to never use a phone so large -- until I did and converted. Much as I enjoy using the N6, for which I can still manage many operations one-handed, smaller would be my preference. Perhaps yours, too.
Here at BetaNews, we first raised doubts about ever-expanding screens four years ago. I still remember the discussion about the story, and more importantly the headline, before Ed Oswald wrote "Is that the Samsung Galaxy S II in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" In 2015, what seemed large then -- a 4.3-inch screen -- is puny. Even iPhones are bigger. Rubin rightly raises alarm about choice: "The real problem isn’t so much that there are too many phablets, but that there aren’t enough non-phablets these days -- at least none that are truly interesting".
Late yesterday I posted my review of Chromebook Pixel LS, which Google released in early March. The write-up is purposely rah-rah to impose the importance of embracing contextual cloud computing and to shakeup preconceptions about Macs being the tools of the creative elite. I also call "dumb" developers who may receive free Pixels during Google I/O later this month only to then sell them online.
One reader comment, from SmallSherm caught my attention, for accusing me of calling him (or her) stupid and for insulting other readers. After writing my response, I wondered how few people would ever see the interaction, which I regard as being quite valuable. So in the interest of fostering further discussion, I present our two comments for your Tuesday thought train.
Gartner predicts that currency devaluation will compel major computer manufacturers to reverse a longstanding trend. "PC vendors selling to Europe and Japan, where local currencies have fallen up to 20 percent since the start of 2015, have little choice than to raise prices to preserve profits" -- by as much as 10 percent, Ranjit Atwal, Gartner Research director, says in a statement earlier today.
Higher prices mean more consumers will do with leaner configurations, and many businesses will push back upgrades. All the while, PC makers will give customers less for more money. Atwal anticipates fewer features in new computers in affected markets and increased sales emphasis in "regions least affected by these currency effects".
2014 was an interesting year for PC vendors. It was the year when Microsoft’s Windows XP -- a 14-year old operating system with more than one-third of market share then -- went out of support. The Redmond-based company announced that it won’t be providing any further security patches to the veteran desktop operating system, leaving hundreds of millions of computers vulnerable. PC vendors saw an uprise in their computer shipment figures, as a large chunk of users, as well as companies, upgraded their computers to Windows 7 or higher.
But things have started to wither once again for PC OEMs. These companies are having a hard time selling their new computers to people. While the individual figures from Lenovo and HP still point upwards, Dell and Acer seem to be having a bad time, so bad that they are dragging the entire community a little backward. Up to five to seven percent decline has been observed in the shipment figure in last one year.
A new survey carried out by application delivery company Instart Logic looks at the shopping habits of millennials in order to help retailers set their ecommerce priorities as the holiday season approaches.
The results show that millennials -- those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s -- are more likely to use mobile devices to shop, with 55 percent doing so. They still like to use browsers, however, with 57 percent preferring them over native apps.
The increased popularity of smartphones means that, unless we specifically opt not to, most of us leave a record of our location wherever we go.
This information is of course valuable to marketers and a new study by customer engagement specialists PunchTab reveals that consumers are concerned about how location data is used.
We're only just beginning to see the potential of the internet of things. A wide range of devices able to exchange information over the web presents many opportunities for companies to deliver new products and services.
According to Gartner estimates, the IoT will include 26 billion units by 2020, and by that time, IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services.
We're constantly being told that the PC market is in terminal decline, but sales figures from different parts of the world continue to defy the predictions.
The latest figures from market intelligence provider IDC for the Asia/Pacific region show a two percent rise over last quarter and a total market for the second quarter of 2014 at 24.3 million units, slightly up on predictions.
New in stores: It’s the "Personal Computer" -- the ultimate companion device for your smartphone or phablet!
Ever wished your mobile device had a larger screen? Or that there was a better way to input long documents than tapping tiny little virtual keys on a slab of glass (or sapphire)? Well, then you’re a perfect candidate for PC ownership.
The most popular computers nowadays, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, are full of compromises. Sure, they are sexy and fun to use, but hardly ideal for true work and creation. Hell, the "smart" in smartphone is starting to feel like a misnomer. A true desktop operating system coupled with a laptop, desktop or hybrid form factor will offer the most functionality and success.
Consumers have overlooked these mobile shortcomings as they have been mostly consuming content at home. However, the tides may be changing -- it feels like the consumer love-affair with mobile devices is starting to wane. Smart-watches may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. People are tired of retrofitting their desired computing to small screens. How about using an actual PC, rather than try to get PC functionality from a mobile device? Crazy concept, I know. Today, IDC announces that PC shipments are showing strong growth in the USA for Q2 2014, year-on-year.
Worldwide IT spending is on track to reach $3.7 trillion, an increase of 2.1 percent in 2014, according to new figures released by research specialists Gartner. However, this is down on earlier projections which put this year's growth at 3.2 percent.
The slower growth outlook is down due to a reduction in growth expectations for devices, data center systems and to some extent IT services. The value of the devices market -- which includes PCs, mobile phones, tablets and printers -- is predicted to grow by 1.2 percent over last year. This is partly due to lower prices. As tablet adoption reaches 50 percent in US households, Gartner forecasts sales of high-end tablets dropping as new buyers are attracted by lower priced units.
Third in a series. In business perception is everything. Many companies succeed or fail not because their products are great but their brands are perceived to be that way. Apple is a remarkable perception manager. Consider iPhone 5s, which features and benefits fall far behind many competing devices. Rather than innovate, the fruit-logo launches an evocative marketing campaign -- "You're more powerful than you think" -- that makes the smartphone look better. Improved. The ads are compelling because they communicate: Your life will be better, you shall achieve your dreams, by buying iPhone 5s.
Meanwhile, competitors like Microsoft truly innovate and take the kind of risks that once defined Apple. Last year I asked: "Will 2013 be another year of Apple iteration masquerading as innovation?" Yes, and halfway into another year, little is changed. The answer is the same. Last month I explained "Why Apple no longer innovates". OS X Yosemite and iOS X 8 are prettier, but so what? Meanwhile, Windows 8/8.1 is a radical rethinking of the platform -- as is Surface, which delivers refreshing change to computing. What's that long-forgotten Yellow Pages tagline? Let your fingers do the walking. They do on Surface.