Apple attracts rumors like no other tech company. In the past week alone we’ve heard about what to expect from the iPad 5, suggestions that Apple is working on a budget iPhone that may or may not feature plenty of plastic in its design, and there’s even been talk of a larger capacity iPad 4.
It turns out this last rumor was right on the money, as Apple has just announced a 128GB version of the fourth generation iPad with Retina display.
Panic in Cupertino: Headless chickens run around smacking into one another, because they don't know they're dead.
That's the fundamental problem with Apple, and this situation is largely independent of recent stock price declines that analysts, bloggers, reporters and other writers can't opine enough about. Falling shares are part of a necessary correction, as reality displaces perception. To understand what's happening now, you need to look into the past -- three years, which by Internet counting is like a lifetime.
Today, after the closing bell, Apple answered the question analysts have asked for weeks: How many iPhones and iPads shipped during the holiday quarter? The answer: A colossal number -- 47.8 million and 22.9, respectively.
Apple also shipped 4.1 million Macs. Analyst consensus was around 50 million, 23.5 million and 5 million, respectively, for the three devices. But the big reveal is iPad and whether the mini sapped sales of the larger tablet. In the previous quarter, iPad's average selling price was $535. Three months later, with iPad mini widely available, ASP is $467. Apple launched the slate on November 2nd alongside iPad 4. The company touted 3 million early sales, without breaking out which device. Now we know something.
When Microsoft launched its portable music player Zune in 2006 few thought it would be a serious contender to Apple’s iPod. The fact that it was a US-only release spoke volumes. It was a product the firm simply didn’t have enough confidence in for a global launch.
And now we’re faced with a similar launch strategy for Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro. Yesterday the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation announced the delayed slate will be "available for purchase on Feb. 9, 2013, in the United States and Canada at all Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com, Staples and Best Buy in the US, as well as from a number of locations in Canada". And the rest of the world? There’s no word.
There's an excellent debate raging on the front pages of BetaNews for the past few weeks, and it's a topic that I feel quite entrenched in. Seeing as my computer repair business FireLogic deals with customers of all types on a daily basis, I thought I should drop my own two cents in on the subject. Joe Wilcox has argued the death knell for the PC is just about here, while a few others, like Wayne Williams (and myself), dispute the notion with quite the vigor.
I think this topic deserves some definite attention because there seems to be a perception out there that the rise in mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and the like will completely eradicate the traditional PC. It's a touchy topic for my colleagues in the computer repair industry, and something that is frequently debated on the forums of a website dedicated to "our kind" over at Technibble.com.
My friend and colleague Joe Wilcox has a long history of quitting tech. He famously declared his independence from Apple and a month ago said he was done with Facebook. Yesterday he announced he was quitting the PC, and switching to using a Google Nexus 10 as his primary computing device. He says the journey will be tumultuous, I say why do it then?
The truth is, the transition for Joe probably won’t be that difficult. He currently uses a Chromebook as his PC and has embraced the cloud. He is a PC user, but he’s not a real PC user. A real PC user can’t just switch to a tablet and after a few weeks be happy with the change. I love my iPad, and I loved Surface for the short time I had it. But a tablet could never be a replacement for my desktop system.
This week, my colleague Joe Wilcox wrote about the popular catch-phrase these days -- the "post-PC era". The only problem: this concept is wrong. Yes, he included lots of analyst information, fancy numbers and predictions, but none of it is realistic to the vast majority of computing users.
Yes, tablets are popular. There is no denying that. The iPad, despite not being the first tablet, brought the concept into the real world. Amazon and Google made the devices affordable. Sure, tablets make a great solution for checking email, weather and answering a question about that movie or show on your TV -- the one that occurs while sitting on your sofa.
I'm not an investor or financial analyst. But I do have a measure of commonsense. Lots of people are asking about Apple's falling stock price and why it is. You don't need a MBA or ponder price-earnings ratios to, by commonsense, see what's happening. Apple is undergoing a long-overdue course correction. It's the new normal, baby, get used to it.
Analysts making wild-eyed predictions just months ago about $1,000 a share or bloggers banging keyboards about $1 billion market capitalization are nutty fruitcakes. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs is gone, so they made their own Kool-Aid and spiked it. They're the only thing getting high here. Apple is laid low.
ASUS waited until after CES to take the wraps off its MeMo Pad, and what it lacks in specs the Nexus 7 lookalike makes up for in price. With a wallet-friendly MSRP of $149, the MeMo Pad runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and is powered by a 1GHz VIA WM8950 CPU and Mali-400 GPU.
The device sports a 10-point multi-touch LED-backlit display with 1024 by 600 resolution, 8 or 16GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot which will let you boost capacity by an additional 32GB.
There is no shortage of new tablets being announced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show -- Acer Iconia B1-A71, Polaroid M7 and M10 and VIZIO 11.6" Tablet PC, among many others. Meanwhile, NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that global tablet shipments will surpass notebooks this year. But what's interesting is a dramatic shift in size preference, which is why I want to know: Which is right for you?
DisplaySearch predicts that tablets with 7-to-8 inch screens will overwhelmingly dominate the market, with 45 percent share. Meanwhile, 9.7 inches -- the size Apple popularized with iPad -- will fall to just 17 percent share. Yet many of the slates debuting at CES are in the larger categories, typically between 10.1 and 11.6 inches. Does size really matter that much, and is smaller better?
Quick, send a load of Valium to Intel and Microsoft executives! Gasp -- to Apple, too. Today NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that tablet shipments will exceed notebooks in 2013, globally. But in China and the United States, the milestone passed last year.
About 18 months ago, analysts started the smartphone-shipments-are-greater-than-PCs meme, which I didn't take too seriously. The market dynamics are different and handsets' functionally don't replace personal computers. Tablets are a whole other matter, because they can do just that. The category's rise over laptops is hugely significant.
Steve Ballmer's surprise CES pre-show keynote appearance is shocking and full of symbolism. Ballmer goes from being star to minor player on one of the tech industry's most important stages. Stunned sums up my reaction, and I was sorry to see Microsoft's CEO there last night. The company officially pulled out of the Consumer Electronics Show this year, with Ballmer ceding the keynote he inherited from Bill Gates. Clean break would have been better than this.
I don't demean his time on stage, which actually livened a limping start. Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs benefited from his keynote predecessor's Windows 8 presentation. My problem is Ballmer being there at all, for what his presence represents -- and there are a couple overlapping ways to read it.
I join colleagues Mihaita Bamburic, Alan Buckingham and Wayne Williams recounting what tech I used in 2012. But unlike them, I made dramatic platform changes, more significant than first using Windows over New Years holiday 1994, buying a reburbished PowerBook in February 1999, adopting Facebook and Twitter in 2006 or purchasing Nexus One in January 2010. Each of these marked major platform changes -- and some not always lasting. Consider this: in early 2012, I owned a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7 MacBook Air, iPhone 4S and iPad 3. I end the year using Chromebook and Android smartphone and tablets.
During the year I moved from OS X and Windows running on Intel to an ARM-and-Chrome OS laptop, and after several failed attempts at adopting tablets (three generations of iPads, really), I embraced not one but two Android slates. I store all my data in the cloud -- local storage is now merely a way station between destinations rather than personal repository. This old dog is learning new tricks, and if I make such dramatic platform changes what does that mean for younger users who are more flexible and not as financially or habitually Apple/Microsoft/Intel committed? Look around, the PC era rapidly evaporates around you and its disappearance will be difficult to ignore in 2013.
Arriving far too late to influence any gift buying for Christmas, here’s my review of Surface with Windows RT. The tardiness of the review isn’t really my fault. Microsoft only put its device in proper shops in the UK last Friday, and I wanted to include the shopping experience as part of the article (even though I didn’t actually spend my own money -- a friend purchased the tablet I’m reviewing).
Before we get into the review, I need to preface it by saying the following: I love Apple’s iPad. I bought an iPad 2 as soon as it was released and replaced it with the new 4th gen model a month or so ago. And even though I use Windows 8 daily, I really don’t like the new OS all that much. So, inevitably, I’m going to hate Surface, right? Absolutely loath it. Well, that’s what I thought. But surprisingly I like it. I like it a lot.
Concurrent with third-quarter earning results late this afternoon, Red Hat announced plans to acquire ManageIQ, an enterprise cloud provider. The all-cash deal is for $104 million. Red Hat is uniquely positioned, opportunity and risk, for enterprise server consolidation and transition to private clouds -- for which virtualization is a linchpin technology. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company plans to expand its own capabilities by fitting ManageIQ's monitoring and management tools onto existing solutions.
Red Hat's acquisition rides the cusp of a trend. Last month, IDC forecast big cloud-related mergers for 2013 -- totaling $25 billion over 20 months. The analyst firm sees three converging trends vertically related. "The IT industry as a whole is moving toward the mobile/social/cloud/big data world of the 3rd Platform much more quickly than many realize: from 2013 through 2020, these technologies will drive around 90 percent of all the growth in the IT market," Frank Gens, IDC chief analyst, says. "Companies that are not putting 80 percent or more of their competitive energy into this new market will be trapped in the legacy portion of the market, growing even slower than global GDP.