Last night something strange caught my attention, nearly enough to post a late-day story. Then this morning I got a little email nudge from Amazon PR, and thought: "Yeah. Why not?" The timing and broader ecosystem implications are interesting for service "Send to Kindle". Just as Google whacks RSS -- pulling feed icons from its products and setting Reader's execution -- Amazon provides a mechanism for saving content you come across, say, browsing at work for reading at home on your ebook reader or tablet.
The concept is by no means new, not even for Amazon. There are several good cloud services dedicated to saving content for later reading or incorporating the capability. Instapaper comes to mind, and Feedly has an easy tap mechanism to save for later. What makes Send to Kindle different is device/app-specificity. Additionally, websites, including WordPress blogs, can place a button supporting the service.
I was wrong about the Galaxy S 4. Last week, I asserted that brand sentiments had changed enough here -- given Samsung's rising popularity, Apple's image problems and high-profile iPhone-to-Android switchers -- that the South Korean electronics giant could launch the S 4 in the United States. Nope. Reception among bloggers, journalists and the Technorati is largely ice cold. Most first-takes I see call the handset a S 3s and no better than iPhone 5. Idiots.
If Steve Jobs was still alive and introduced a Star Trek-like universal translator for iPhone, there would be cries: "Apple does it again". Tell me what's not innovative about translation from, say, English to Chinese or Japanese to French. In real time. On your phone. Or text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation capabilities? Imagine Jobs demonstrating the "Eraser" feature by taking a photo and jokingly removing marketing executive Phil Schiller from the photo. He could demonstrate dual-mode video by initiating a call with Schiller that includes members of the audience, which I promise would roar and clap.
As the parent of two teenagers I am always interested in studies about their digital lifestyle. Pew Research Center has a new report that claims that "smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive". You don't say? I believe I could have told you that simply by visiting my local mall. So much for the "tell us something we don't know" moment.
Still, the research firm did its homework and published some interesting numbers. Pew studied a group of 802 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 to reach its results. For instance, 78 percent of all teens have cell phones and almost half of those, 47 percent, are smartphones. For the record, in our household it is an even 50 percent -- the 16 year old has a smartphone, the 13 year old does not yet have his first phone, though it is a subject that seems to come up daily.
IDC sure knows how to ruin a Monday. The analyst firm released final personal computer shipment tabulations for fourth quarter and all 2012 and made a dismal forecast for this year. If you're as tired of reading "PC is dead" stories as I am writing them, cover your eyes. Read no further. The horrors ahead are unbearable.
Global shipments will decline for the second year in a row in 2013, with Windows 8 giving no perceptual lift at all. Holidays were a bust, as will be the year. You can't fault Microsoft for trying, but there is only so much water you can throw off a sinking ship with buckets before it plunges beneath the waves. Perhaps only the rumored Windows Blue can save the PC now, but Win8 was supposed to do that -- and look what happened. When an analyst firm uses "underwhelming reception" to describe a Microsoft operating system, it's time to abandon ship.
Today at Mobile World Congress, Nielsen offered a snapshot of the global mobile consumer based on a report released this month. Some of the findings are quite startling. For example, mobile phone usage is highest in South Korea -- get this, 99 percent among consumers older than 16. Same goes for smartphones (67 percent). By comparison, the United States has the lowest smartphone adoption among developed markets (53 percent). Now contrast that to China, where two-thirds of handset owners have smartphones, while in India 80 percent have feature phones. In Brazil, feature phones and multimedia handsets combined: 65 percent.
Mobile phone usage is high in many countries, but infrastructure is not. For example, 98 percent of Russians have mobiles, as do 84 percent in Brazil and 81 percent in India. Problem, according to Nielsen: "The network infrastructure required for smartphones and next generation mobile devices has yet to appear outside of large, urban centers". Lacking infrastructure explains some of this week's MWC announcements, such as Firefox OS phones or new Nokia Lumias with fewer smartphone features for lower selling prices going to emerging markets first.
Cue the violins. IDC says that the cloud, smartphone and tablet are reshaping IT spending, using the word personal computing defenders despise: "Cannibalization". There's a reason I dismiss the post-PC moniker for cloud-connected device era.
"Cannibalization is happening across the industry" Stephen Minton, IDC vice president, says. "Smartphones have taken over from feature phones, tablet adoption is impacting PC spending, and the cloud is affecting the traditional software, services and infrastructure markets". And you people wonder why Google would make in Chromebook Pixel a high-end cloud computer. It's the future, baby.
We all have heard about Google Glass -- for sometime now. There's talk it's coming (but not when) and that there are unique capabilities (but most details are under wraps). Google Glass is a bit of an enigma, and I have remained largely uninterested in the project. That changed this morning.
Google makes me want a product I had no idea I was even interested in -- I am pretty sure that's the intention. In fact, Google had me drooling in only two minutes and sixteen seconds -- talk about a good sales pitch. And the video did not even require many words to accomplish its task.
Developers looking for Ubuntu on smartphones will get a second treat on February 21. Today, Canonical revealed a build for tablets. Supported testing devices for both platforms: Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Ubuntu replaces Android, not runs alongside or dual-boots with it.
"Ubuntu tablet" supports multi-touch slates running dual-core ARM A9 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB storage. However, Canonical's ambitions are greater for commercially-shipping products: dual-core A15 processor and 2GB RAM for 7-to-10 inch tablets and quad-core A15 or x86 processor and 4GB of RAM for 10-to-12 inch slates. The specs reveal plans to compete with touch ultrabooks or tablet hybrids like Microsoft Surface Pro. The operating system supports up to 20-inch tablets. However, lower-end tablets will be a priority.
When Windows 8 launched on October 26 2012, the Windows Store had an estimated 9,000 apps available to purchase or download. Today, according to the excellent MetroStore Scanner, that figure has risen to 43,083 worldwide, of which 28,904 are available in the US store, and 26,385 in the UK one.
The biggest problem with the Windows Store is not the overall number of apps -- in four months it’s seen reasonable growth although the number of new weekly additions has slowed -- the issue is more with quality. While there’s no shortage of third-party apps, many of which are very good, you can’t help but notice how many big names are absent.
"We didn't miss cell phones, but the way that we went about it, ah, didn't allow us to get the leadership. So it's clearly a mistake." That's the chilling admission from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during a CBS This Morning interview with Charlie Rose (Editor: full interview from January 30). Referring to CEO Steve Ballmer, the cofounder emphasizes: "He and I are not satisfied that in terms of, you know, breakthrough things, that we're, ah, doing everything possible". You think?
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord (or whomever or whatever you worship, if anything). Change starts with admission of fault, and Gates gives it. So what should Microsoft do about the problem? Take my advice. Please. Starting five years ago, I repeatedly recommend Microsoft lunch a Mobile Manhattan Project -- on the order of Internet Explorer in the mid-1990s but only much, much larger. There simply is no other way to catch up in mobile.
With all apologies to my colleague Joe Wilcox, who bashed the Apple rumor of an "iWatch", I must respectfully disagree. I get his point, don't get me wrong. Most people of the "modern" generation do not even wear watches. In fact, they may not even own them. The cell phone has become the time piece of choice in today's world. I also understand that a watch is not the ideal place to check your email. The screen is simply too small.
However, there are uses for these devices for some of us. Not all of us, but some. I am a runner. Have been since middle school -- more years ago than I care to mention. Those of us who ran cross country and track, and later moved to road races, care about time and smartphones don't cover it. Sure there are apps for that -- Map My Run, Run Keeper, Nike...they all do the job. My colleague Wayne Williams loves Zombies, Run! But, who wants to strap a 4.5-inch screen to their arm and go for a run?
What a difference three years make. In April 2010 I asked "Will iPad cannibalize Mac sales?" and a month later PC sales. Fast-forward 12 months, NPD answered a definitive "No". I disagreed: "Call me cynical and skeptical, but I'm convinced that changing behavior will cause many smartphone buyers, and many more tablet adopters, to delay PC upgrades".
Today, NPD sees things a little differently, based on fresh survey data that puts context behind two years of declining PC sales -- that despite Windows 8's release little more than three months ago. The firm finds that 37 percent of US consumers now access content on smartphones or tablets they used to on PCs. Changing behavior like this affects computer sales, as consumers shift behavior and delay PC upgrades or don't buy ever.
First in a series. February, 2013 -- We stand today near the beginning of the post-PC era. Tablets and smart phones are replacing desktops and notebooks. Clouds are replacing clusters. We’re more dependent than ever on big computer rooms only this time we not only don’t own them, we don’t even know where they are. Three years from now we’ll barely recognize the computing landscape that was built on personal computers. So if we’re going to keep an accurate chronicle of that era, we’d better get to work right now, before we forget how it really happened.
Oddly enough, I predicted all of this almost 25 years ago as you’ll see if you choose to share this journey and read on. But it almost didn’t happen. In fact I wish it had never happened at all…
Data security and privacy worries are among the most often cited barriers preventing businesses from moving to the cloud. Backupify hopes to address that concern by rolling out a core set of APIs that will allow Software as a Service ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) to integrate the firm’s data protection functionality into their applications.
The aim of the Backupify Developer Platform is to make it easier for SaaS companies to offer the ability to store a secure second copy of their customer’s data off-site through Backupify, thereby assuaging their client’s security concerns. Something Backupify says "will help accelerate market acceptance of SaaS applications by allowing ISVs to continue to focus on what they do best while relying on Backupify to protect their customers’ data".
The Backupify functionality can be offered as an integrated component of the ISV's SaaS solutions, or as an optional upgrade.
Some days the sorry state of news reporting really baffles me. Today I read numerous headlines claiming that Android tablet share surged past 50 percent in Q4, usurping iPad -- all using numbers I wrote about a day earlier. The one on CNN -- "IDC says Android is the new king of tablet market share" -- got to me. Immediate reaction: "What did I miss?" But in looking over the numbers, nothing really jumped out that IDC said any such thing. Sure iPad shipment share fell to 43.6 percent from 51.7 percent annually and from 46.4 percent sequentially. I chose to ask the analysts rather than follow the feeding frenzy.
"Android actually passed the 50 percent mark in 3Q 12", Tom Mainelli, IDC research director for tablets, says. Whoa, there's no new king at all. Android took the crown last summer. Still, that's a phenomenal achievement, setting me to write a story I couldn't imagine a year ago.