Yesterday, Microsoft released its earnings report for Q2 FY2014 (that is Q4 CY2013), revealing revenue of $24.52 billion and net income of $6.56 billion (78 cents per share). The Redmond, Wash.-based corporation has managed to beat the average analyst consensus of $23.68 billion and 68 cents per share respectively, as my colleague Joe Wilcox noted.
Aside from the strong overall results, there was another part of the earnings report which has caught our attention -- Surface sales. Revenue from Microsoft's Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets reached $893 million during the quarter. That is $493 million more than in the first fiscal quarter of the year. Good news, right? Surface is finally starting to take off, after all. Well, an SEC filling puts a damper on any enthusiasm, as Microsoft actually lost money on its tablets in Q2 FY2014.
Finnish maker Nokia has released its earnings report for Q4 2013, the first that indicates how the company, and its financial health, will look like without the Devices & Services arm that is set to be part of Microsoft's portfolio. That business is listed under "Discontinued operations".
Another effect of the sale of this business is that Nokia no longer lists the exact volume for the mobile phones and smartphones sold during the quarter. This effectively rules out any precise Lumia Windows Phone performance comparison. However, the company gives bad news as it reveals unit sales are actually lower for its Windows Phones compared to the previous quarter, when it sold 8.8 million of them.
Intel has used the Bett 2014 educational technology show in London to announce reference designs for the next generation of devices aimed at the education sector.
The Intel Education Tablet and Classmate PC feature student-friendly features along with Intel’s Education Software suite of learning tools.
What do you get after taking out the cellular prowess from a very, very large smartphone? The answer would be a tablet, albeit one that falls on the smaller side. It is exactly what Japanese maker Sony has done with its Xperia Z Ultra, which will be available in a Wi-Fi only version this week.
For those unfamiliar with the Xperia Z Ultra, the device was announced in the first half of 2013 with a 6.44-inch display, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and 4G LTE/HSPA+ cellular connectivity, as the main selling points.
What's that? Another music streaming service? Another one?! You could be forgiven for having this reaction to the news that Dr Dre's Beats Music is now available for iOS and Android; this is a market that is already rather saturated, and music lovers are not exactly short of options when it comes to picking a service to satiate their audio needs. So any new service vying for attention has to have something rather unique to offer if it is going to stand out from the competition.
Beats Music does have a unique selling point. It is a service that is about more than just streaming music, it aims to deliver the right music according to the time of day, what you are doing and where you are. Is this sort of stream tailoring enough to win over music fans? Only time will tell, but Beats Music certainly has a fight on its hands if it is to wrestle users away from the existing services that have been established for some time.
Since the latest generation of the Kindle Fire family of tablets rolled out, it almost seems the devices are on sale more often than not. Just recently the retail giant celebrated being named number one in customer satisfaction with a promo code for its devices, now it’s using football as an excuse for one more deal.
It’s not hard to deduce why this latest bargain is being given -- Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, home of the Seahawks who are now Super Bowl-bound to battle the Denver Broncos. In fact, the graphic currently displayed on the homepage illustrates the Seahawks-49ers game this past Sunday.
The phablet. It's a device with a silly name, but it's a market that is gaining massive momentum. Analysis by Juniper Research suggests that the number of larger-screened devices that ship will rocket by 600 percent by 2018. Projected figures show shipments jumping from around 20 million devices in 2013, to 120 million five years later. But taking into account the loose definition of a phablet it is possible that the figures could be even higher.
In fact there is no "official" definition of a phablet, at least in terms of the size of screen a device must sport in order to qualify for the title. Juniper Research acknowledges that phones with very large screens are increasingly common, with many high-end handsets featuring 5 inch - 5.5 inch displays. For the purposes of its report, Juniper Research uses the term phablet to refer to handsets that have a screen size between 5.6 inches and 6.9 inches.
Almost 3.5 million British children under the age of eight have tablets and nearly 4 million learned to use a smartphone or tablet before they were three.
New research from price comparison and switching service uSwitch reveals a growing nation of cyber tots with 29 percent learning to use a touch screen device before the age of three and 11 percent before they were two.
There's no shortage of choice when it comes to 7-inch tablets, and Samsung is extending the selection even further with the release of the Galaxy Tab3 Lite. As you've probably discerned from the not-particularly-enigmatic name, this is a device closely based on the original Galaxy Tab3, albeit in a thinner lighter design. Or so you might think. Despite the name, the Tab3 Lite is not smaller in terms of dimensions or mass. In fact it is both larger and heavier than its predecessor. Here, 'Lite' refers to trimming back on the hardware spec.
Looked at in terms of size, it looks as though the Tab3 Lite has gained a little over the holiday period. The Lite model is more than 3mm wider, over 5mm taller and 10g heavier. The new device is 2mm thinner than the Tab3, but it is the other specs that make for interesting reading. A 2 Megapixel rear camera replaces the 3 Megapixel unit, while on the front you'll find that the camera has disappeared entirely.
This was a week dominated by CES, and there were a huge number of announcements about upcoming hardware. Lenovo took the wraps off the (slightly) heavyweight ThinkPad Tablet 8, but any excess weight was countered by the ultra-light ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook. HP's range of business desktops even included one device running Android, while Nvidia's new Tegra K1 promises much for the mobile market.
Competitor Qualcomm revealed two processors designed for entertainment while Pure's Connect platform opens up the possibility of using any streaming music service with its wireless speakers. Smart TVs are set to benefit from the addition of Roku software, but it seems that the technology du jour is 4K, with a new 4K laptop from Toshiba joining the streams of 4K TVs and monitors.
While the world points fingers at companies like Microsoft and Google over recent security matters, in light of the big NSA scandal, one company goes on mostly unscathed. Perhaps it’s our love of shopping and the convenience of doing it online. But maybe, it’s just about making that experience so good.
Amazon announces today that is has been voted number one in customer service satisfaction for the ninth straight year. The online retailer isn’t resting on this laurel, but instead using it as an excuse to drum up more good will.
It seems that these days it is not enough for a laptop to just be a laptop, or a tablet to be a tablet. I'm not talking about the strange new breed of devices that are capable of running Windows and Android, or the rumors that handsets running Windows Phone and Android might see the light of day (haha! Can you imagine?). I'm talking about the devices that seem to be trying to become best friends with Michael Bay, transforming between multiple modes.
It's not really a new concept. We've already looked at Lenovo's Yoga 11S which can be bent into four different positions. The same company also has the Flex range which has fewer Transformer-like capabilities, but is still more than just your average laptop. At CES 2014 Toshiba decided to up the ante, taking the wraps off a 5-in-1 device.
Ours is not to reason why…well, let's leave the poetry behind. This week at CES we've seen a boatload of new products, including tablets. When Panasonic unveiled its seven-inch Toughpad, it seemed a bit pricey, but specs were good, and it's made for a specific task.
Now, we are seeing a 20-inch Performance version (as opposed to the Standard). Again, specs are certainly solid -- an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA Quadro K1000 GPU, 5 MP rear camera, a staggering 4K screen (3840x2560) that Panasonic claims holds 9.8 million pixels, Ethernet port and DisplayPort, 16 GB of RAM, card reader and a 256 GB SSD.
When I was a teenager I used to love having stickers on some of my things -- furniture, school notebooks and my PC. Of course, I later regretted my decision to "personalize" my belongings, but at the time it was fun and, in my mind, cool. I especially enjoyed seeing the logos of major then-popular tech companies, like Intel, AMD, Nvidia, ATI, on the front of the PC case. It meant something for me, and maybe others, at the time. My stance changed, rapidly, as I grew up.
After I bought my first laptop, the first thing I did was to remove the stickers that were on it. Unlike on my PC, they were not out of the way and, quite frankly, looked silly on my business-grade machine. For people who buy new Windows PCs, stickers are still a part of the present as you continue to have them on your (even flagship) devices. It is a common sight, even though they are in fact as attractive as the plague. Sadly, the same trend is emerging on new Windows tablets. I'm looking at you, Lenovo and Toshiba. How disappointing. And here I was thinking that stickers were reserved only for the cheapest and gaudiest Android slates that are usually displayed in supermarkets. I was, unfortunately, wrong. But so are you for placing them there. Why can't you escape that aging stink that surrounds you and move on with the times?
We’re a week into the New Year, a time to look to the future, and all the news flooding out of CES has us excited for what’s coming up. But that’s not to say we can’t still take some time to look back on 2013 -- a year that brought us some great (and not so great) tech.
FinancesOnline.com has created a new infographic summing up 2013 in tech launches and featuring the best smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Each of the included devices has been sorted into the following categories: