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.
Combined shipments of devices -- PCs, tablets and mobile phones -- are set to reach 2.32 billion units in 2013 according to technology research specialists Gartner. This represents a 4.5 percent increase over last year, but much of the growth is driven by a shift to lower priced devices.
Traditional PCs are forecast to show an 11.2 percent decline, which drops to 8.4 percent when ultramobiles are included. Mobile phone shipments are forecast to grow 3.7 percent to around 1.8 billion units. It's tablets that are still the darling of the consumer though, shipments are expected to be up a whopping 42.7 percent this year reaching 184 million units.
Small tablets are very popular lately; the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini are two great examples of that. However, even though Windows 8 is designed for touch, a quality small (8-inch and below) tablet has eluded consumers. My experience with the Acer Iconia W3 was epically bad -- the screen and overall build quality were poor. Sadly, this device may have harmed consumer confidence in small Windows tablets.
Today, Lenovo aims to greatly improve the perception of reduced-size Windows devices as the company announces the Miix2 8-inch tablet. By combining the computer manufacturer's well-known build quality with the much improved Windows 8.1 operating system, the company should have a winner on its hands.
Reports from leading analysts for the third quarter of 2013 suggest that the PC market is still in decline. However, sales haven't declined as quickly as predicted.
According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker PC shipments totalled 81.6 million units in the third quarter. This represents a 7.6 percent decline over the same period last year, better than the 9.5 percent that was being predicted. IDC says the market was buoyed by business purchases plus the channel intake of Windows 8.1 systems in September.
Independent analysis company Ovum has released a new report titled Challenges and Best Practices for Deploying Tablets in the Enterprise which finds that tablets are ever more prevalent in businesses.
It notes that as the market for tablets grows, usage of these devices is changing the way people work and is having a noticeable impact on the enterprise. Whether through units supplied by the company or BYOD, fast increasing numbers of tablets are being used to access corporate data and applications.
I used to exclusively be a home console gamer -- I preferred playing games on a TV screen as opposed to a tiny handheld display. Heck, I even grew up during the GameBoy era but never got one. The NES was a better option for me, as portability was not a need at the time. Truth be told, I didn't get into mobile gaming until I got my first Android phone. Since then, I play all of my games on a smartphone or tablet. Sadly, platformer games are my favorite genre and virtual d-pads are a poor experience. I have always dreamed of an Android device with dedicated gaming buttons.
In July, the NVIDIA Shield was released. However, it serves as a dedicated gaming handheld -- it cannot realistically replace a tablet. It didn't make financial sense to buy both a tablet and the NVIDIA handheld. Today, Archos announces a new Android-based, 7-inch tablet that also serves as a gaming machine, called the GamePad 2 (the successor to the GamePad 1). In other words, it combines the functionality of a Nexus 7, with the gaming controls of the NVIDIA Shield. Amazingly, the company is releasing the product in Q4 of 2013, for the low price of $199.
Folks are increasingly using Twitter while watching their favorite TV shows. A couple of days ago, Nielsen announced that viewers were becoming more engaged with television as a result. However, I argued that this could potentially distract users from both the programming and advertising. Today, Twitter and Comcast announce a partnership that looks to bring users to the TV with the power of tweets, rather than pull them away, with a feature called See It.
"It's a simple, but exciting tool that helps people more easily watch the shows they read about or discover online. See It lets people tune-in or record their favorite shows -- directly from the conversations happening on Twitter. In a typical week, #thevoice generates more than 350,000,000 Twitter impressions. What’s missing is how to seamlessly move from that conversation to consumption. And that's where See It comes in", says Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer at Comcast.
When I bought the first-generation iPad in 2010, I intended to use it for taking notes in college classes. Unfortunately, the iPad didn't come with an office suite and Microsoft's was not available. And so, I was forced to try a bunch of alternatives. Ultimately, I found one that stood out among the rest -- Quickoffice. I found it to be complete and a pleasure to use.
While my iPad is long gone, Quickoffice has followed me to Android with great results. However, Google bought my beloved Quickoffice in June 2012 and I became very nervous. My concern was that the software development would cease under Google's leadership. I am happy to say that my concerns were for naught -- Google announces today that QuickOffice has been updated and is now free.
Tablets are where the growth is right now, with sales of touch devices eating away at the market share of traditional PCs. But that’s not the only cannibalization going on in the tech world. The iPad mini certainly impacted on sales of the standard-sized iPad upon launch. And with the line between tablets and smartphones becoming increasingly blurred, market analysis firm IDC predicts large-screen (5+ inch) smartphones will start to gnaw away at the smaller (7-8 inch) tablet market from 2014.
"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales," Bob O'Donnell, Program Vice President, Clients and Displays, observes. "Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets".
Almost three quarters (73 percent) of US-based office workers with enterprise-issued tablets have used them to download personal software and apps. A new survey carried out for content collaboration specialist Huddle by IPSOS-Mori reveals this and other potential security risks resulting from blurred lines between personal and enterprise devices.
The nationwide survey of 2,000 US office workers shows that 62 percent download personal software to company-owned smartphones and 45 percent do the same on laptops. The majority of the 44 percent of office workers using company-issued devices download personal software such as iTunes, Spotify and Dropbox. In addition 52 percent admit to storing, sharing and working on work documents via their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops.
My relationship with Windows 8 is very tumultuous; sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. However, this is due to the inherent problem with Windows 8 -- depending on what you are doing with it or what hardware you are using it on, the experience is different. I have used Windows 8 devices that are wonderful and others that are horrible. I often ponder, what if there was a device that could change based on what I was doing? I am happy to say, such a device exists and its called the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S.
The name "Yoga" is very appropriate as the convertible laptop offers multiple positions. No, I am not talking about the downward-facing dog -- this device can be a laptop, tablet and desktop. Lenovo calls these modes "Laptop", "Tablet", "Tent" and "Stand". However, "Tent" and "Stand", in my opinion, have duplicate functionality -- I refer to both of these as "Desktop Mode".
As my colleague Wayne Williams reported earlier today the PC market is continuing to shrink at the hands of tablets. Further confirmation of this, just in case you needed any, comes from a Gartner survey showing that the PC market in western Europe slumped by 20 percent in the second quarter of 2013.
All PC segments in Western Europe declined over the quarter. Mobile and desktop shipments dropped 23.9 percent and 12.2 percent respectively. PC shipments in the professional market declined by 13.5 percent, while the consumer PC market decreased 25.8 percent in the same period. This equates to a 19.8 percent drop overall
The worldwide PC market continues to experience few signs of growth, with a healthy increase in global tablet shipments merely helping to offset the continuing descent of traditional desktop and notebook systems, according to independent analyst firm Canalys.
While tablet shipments saw a 42.9 percent increase compared with this time last year, desktop and notebook shipments fell 7.4 percent and 13.9 percent respectively. Total shipments for PCs (Canalys lumps desktops, notebooks and tablets together) delivered a 0.3 percent growth for the year.
Tablets allow students to leverage technology to improve learning. An iPad for instance, can offer a more immersible experience when compared to a paper textbook. While there are many educational based applications for Android and iOS, there hasn't been a serious education-focused tablet from a major manufacturer -- until now. Intel has announced a new line of Android-based tablets designed for learning.
According to Intel, the tablets "...available in 7-inch and 10-inch sizes, are designed specifically for education and built to meet students' needs. The multi-touch display and e-Reader software enable students to access rich online content. Ultra-portability allows them to take the device to the field to capture data with the built-in camera and analyze it with Intel Education Software. They can collaborate with their classmates, while comparing their findings to others on the web".