We’re generally a Macintosh shop here in Santa Rosa. I have Windows and Linux PCs, too, but most of the heavy lifting is done on Macs. Next Wednesday I’m expecting a delivery from B&H Photo (no tax and free shipping!) of four new iMacs plus some software totaling $5,407. I fully expect these to be the last personal computers I will ever buy.
How’s that for a 2014 prediction?
For most of the last year it seems that we've been reporting the decline of the PC market. At the beginning of December we even had IDC saying that shipments had seen their greatest decline ever.
No surprise then that on the figures for the final quarter of 2013 both IDC and Gartner are saying that shipments have declined again. The good news though is that there are signs of the decline bottoming out.
Three days ago I wrote about Flurry’s findings regarding tablet activations on Christmas day. As was expected, Amazon enjoyed a massive 24x bump, and Apple and Samsung activations, while far less spectacular, both doubled. Flurry only covered those three firms and Acer, so there was no way of knowing how well other manufacturers had fared.
Today online advertising network Chitika releases its report, the result of examining post-Christmas changes in North American web traffic share, and this shows usage gains from Amazon, a minor drop from Apple, and -- perhaps most surprisingly -- strong gains for Microsoft’s Surface range.
Unsurprisingly tablets proved to be a very popular gift this Christmas. According to mobile measurement firm Flurry, device activations were up by 63 percent on Christmas day, compared to any other average day in December.
Flurry’s activation figures cover Amazon, Apple, Acer, and Samsung and reveal an interesting trend. While all four tech firms enjoyed a major bump on the day, activations were much lower this year than in the previous two years.
The PC market might still be in the doldrums, but there’s good news in the screen department at least. After three quarters of solid decline, the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker finally reports some growth.
Although year-over-year growth was down -8.6 percent in 3Q13, due to the ongoing decline in PC sales, monitor shipments topped more than 35 million units, 1.2 million over the forecast, and showed an increase of 4.5 percent compared to the previous quarter.
An old friend has been telling me for months that the future of personal computing was coming with new Windows tablets using the Bay Trail system-on-chip architecture built with Intel Silvermont cores. Silvermont is the first major Atom revision in years and is designed to be much faster. Bay Trail would lead to $199 8-inch Windows tablets while also fixing the limitations of Intel’s previous Clover Trail. Well Bay Trail units are finally shipping but my techie friend is sorely disappointed with his.
The lure of this platform for Intel is great. Manufacturers could use the same chassis and chipsets for everything except gaming boxes and servers. Eight inch tablets, ChromeBooks, Ultrabooks, 10-inch tablets, and netbooks, all one chassis with up to 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. One size fits all for home, car, travel, and work.
There are several explanations as to why PC sales are so dire. Users have few compelling reasons to upgrade -- existing systems can still run all the latest software, and touch really isn’t the major selling point that manufacturers believe it to be. The rise of the tablet has played a major role in the PC’s demise too, providing casual users with a more flexible alternative.
While tablets have enjoyed rapid growth over the past couple of years, and phenomenal sales numbers will surely be racked up this holiday season, the International Data Corporation (IDC) has sounded a word of caution, lowering its tablet shipment forecasts, and predicting growth to start slowing by as soon as next year.
The iPad wasn't the first tablet on the market, but it was certainly the first to capture the public's attention in a big way. And now, we live in a world where predictions tell us nearly weekly that the reign of the desktop PC is coming to an end.
That may or may not be true, but the fact remains: the tablet is here to stay, and it’s one of the fastest-selling electronic devices in recent history. While the newly unveiled iPad Air and iPad mini Retina are bringing people in droves to local Apple stores, Google continues to impress with its Android-powered Nexus tablets, and Windows-based tablet computers like the Surface 2 are gaining traction in an increasingly crowded market.
It seems like we’re forever posting stories about the decline of the PC, and here’s another one. This time, IDC is delivering the bad news, and make no mistake, it is bad news. Catastrophic news in fact, because IDC says worldwide PC shipments are experiencing the "most severe yearly contraction on record".
Shipments were expected to fall by 9.7 percent in 2013, but IDC has revised that estimate to a worse 10.1 percent. Next year the outlook isn't expected to be quite as bad, but things are still going to be very bleak, even in emerging markets, the traditional primary growth area for the PC.
Windows 8.1, like its predecessor, is designed to run on a multitude of different devices -- desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and hybrids. When Microsoft first unveiled Windows 8 last year, there weren’t many products which really took advantage of the new Modern UI.
Fast forward to present day, and that’s all changed, with loads of touch screen devices available from all the major manufacturers including ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Nokia, and Samsung.
If you’re looking for a new tablet, laptop, 2-in-1 device or all-in-one system you might want to take a look at Intel’s new Holiday Buying Guide. The chipmaker has put together a 20-page PDF brochure featuring products from the likes of ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, HP, and Samsung.
Divided into sections, starting with 2-in-1 Devices, the guide tells you a bit about that particular type of system, and then presents a selection of shiny new hardware vying for your attention (and hard earned cash) this holiday season.
I own an iPad, and despite not rushing to buy a Surface, I actually quite like Microsoft's slate. A couple of days a week I work on my iPad (mostly remote accessing my PC via Parallels Access) and it's not a great experience. I know I'd get a lot more done if I was using a Surface Pro 2 instead, but Apple's tablet is far better in other areas, so for me it wins on balance.
Yesterday, on the Surface blog there was an article headed "What's new in Surface Pro 2". It was a detailed look at what Microsoft has done to improve the latest generation of its slate and I found it fascinating. Partly because it was an interesting read, but also because it was the sort of thing Apple would never do.
When reporting on PC shipments, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be bad news these days. However, the latest PC shipment news from Gartner can’t really be described as bad, more like out and out disastrous.
Shipments in Western Europe totaled 11.9 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a decline of 12.8 percent from the same period in 2012. The drop relates to all PC segments. Mobile and desktop shipments fell by 14.5 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively. PC shipments in the professional PC market shrank by 8.3 percent, and the consumer PC market plummeted by 17.1 percent. Tablets, naturally, are to blame, although Windows 8 and 8.1 have a part to play in the collapse too.
Amazon Web Services quietly released on Tuesday a pair of new instances on its EC2 cloud computing service. Not just new instances but a whole new type of instance aimed at 2D and 3D graphical computing. For the first time from AWS in a generally available instance, developers and users will have access to virtual machines with GPUs.
It’s like putting a PC in the cloud. More properly it is like putting your PC in the cloud. I think this has great disruptive potential. And that means we’ll see similar services coming soon from other cloud providers.
Google Glass has caused a bit of a stir, whether it's for the ability to turn us all into government spies or for causing the slightly distracted Google gaze. But there's been relatively little discussion of how smartglasses might be useful for business.
Until now that is, because a new report by Gartner says that smartglasses have the potential to boost worker efficiency in areas like healthcare, manufacturing and field service.