Well, well, perhaps Windows 8 isn't cause for all the PC market's woes, as IDC strongly stated yesterday. Gartner's first-quarter assessment is grim but no reaper. The analyst firm lays blame partly on consumers unwillingness to pay more for touchscreen models and asserts that the business market actually grows. Also, the firms released contradictory data, with Apple showing glaring and shocking differences.
Mikako Kitagawa, Gartner principal analyst, doesn't blame Windows 8: "Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones". The first factor pulling down PC shipments, which by Gartner estimates fell 11.2 percent globally during Q1, is tablet competition, then. Not Windows 8.
In some alternate universe, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer slaps former Windows & Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky on the back for a job well done. The company's newest operating system is such a huge success that sagging PC shipments soared to record numbers. Our reality is something shockingly different. First-quarter declines are the worst since IDC started tabulating numbers in 1994 and surpass the worst estimates. You know things are really bad when even perennial gainer Apple sees a huge year-of-year fall off.
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market", Bob O'Donnell, IDC vice president, says. Holy Moley, Windows 8 slowed the market? You want to know why Ballmer booted Sinfosky out the door? O'Donnell offers chilling indictment.
What's wrong with Samsung? That's the question I asked in newsroom group chat today after seeing specs for Galaxy Note 8.0. Screen resolution diminishes the otherwise noteworthy feature list. Sorry, but 1280 by 800 is inadequate -- little more than matchup to Apple's iPad mini, which is similar size. For a company that makes such great-looking displays, lower-res is an endemic problem across Samsung's entire tablet line.
I really expected more from Galaxy Note 8.0, which as the same suggests has an 8-inch screen; iPad mini is 7.9. Samsung unveiled the tablet in February, and I wrote the news story. But in the rush of Mobile World Congress news didn't consider screen resolution, in part on possibility specs would change. The electronics giant has done it before, announcing one thing but shipping something slightly different months later.
The Apple-Google duopoly so dominates app downloads there is little room for BlackBerry and Windows Phone
Mobile app store downloads from the four major stores -- Apple, BlackBerry, Google and Microsoft -- reached 13.4 billion in first quarter, generating $2.2 billion revenue, according to Canalys. Combined, revenue from new sales, in-app purchases and subscriptions grew 9 percent from fourth quarter, while number of downloads climbed by 11 percent.
There are a half-dozen measures that mark successful platforms, with money being the most important. Developers typically go where they earn more. That's preface to a fascinating juxtaposition partly explaining developer preference for iOS, even though more Android devices ship and cumulative sales (750 million to 500 million) are larger. Google Play accounted for 51 percent of downloads during Q1. But Apple's App Store generated 74 percent of the revenue. Ponder those numbers for a moment.
I am simply stunned by the ridiculous number of "Microsoft will be dead in four years" stories, following Gartner's grim PC forecast three days ago. I offered brief analysis then and promised something later, and this is it. Yesterday, colleague Alan Buckingham posted first: "Microsoft is nowhere near death's door" -- and he absolutely is right.
Throw a rock, and you can't miss a doom-and-gloom armchair analysis. Among the many are "Gartner: Microsoft is dead, Windows has expired, Office has ceased to be" (Computerworld); "How long can Microsoft go on like this?" (InfoWorld); "Apple's ultimate victory over Microsoft" (Motley Fool); and "Gartner may be too scared to say it, but the PC is dead" (ReadWrite). For the most part, all these armchair pundits are mistaken. Hugely.
I am both a Microsoft fanboy and hater, depending on which day I read comments from our BetaNews faithful. The truth be known, I consider myself neither. I would say it this way: I am a fanboy of what works and is useful to me and hater of everything on the opposite side of that line. I use products from many manufacturers, but yes, Microsoft powers all of my home computers, save the server, which is FreeBSD. Google is also a big part of my daily life, as is Adobe and many lesser-knowns.
For two days now, debate rages across the Internet about an analyst's content that Microsoft could be irrelevant within four years. I could do nothing but laugh when I read this. This revelation derives from Gartner report that states: "While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device". Some individuals? By that, do you mean those who have jobs?
How important is Facebook really? The answer may come soon after April 12, when the social network releases Home to Google Play. The Android add-on usurps the homescreen, putting interactions/people first and pushes apps to the background. This, ah, Home invasion means potential trouble for Apple and Google, but in vastly different ways. Apps anchor both their platforms, curated content and the digital lifestyles users adopt. Facebook bets that between the choice of both ways, human relationships matter more.
For either the fruit-logo company or search and information giant, another question is perhaps more significant: Is Facebook's mobile experience already good enough? Related: Do most users want to be enmeshed in a constant stream of social updates and interactions most of the time? Affirmative answer to either, or both, spells trouble for the platform developers but most worrisome for Apple, for which Facebook Home affronts and condemns the entire business model.
Today, Gartner offers grim prognostications for the PC's future, which is not surprising. That the analyst firm took so long disturbs and reveals much about how all these consultants seek to preserve client contracts before anything else. I've warned for years that connected-devices would diminish the personal computer's relevance, much like the mainframe's decline three decades ago. The PC era is over, as I asserted here 26 months ago. On Halloween 2008, I asked in a Microsoft Watch post: "Will your next PC be a smartphone?" What took Gartner so long? The "new device religion" analysis still misses the mark, too.
Following IDC's lead, Gartner now combines PCs, smartphones and tablets into a single forecast. By that measure, in 2012, Android worldwide device shipments (497 million) exceeded Windows (346.5 million) and will more than double (to 1.07 billion) by 2014. Analysts warn the operating system that defined the PC era will struggle with Apple iOS and OS X to be the second dominant platform. By many measures, the circumstance looks grim for Microsoft and Windows, and that's already the popular sentiment today among blog posts and news stories about Gartner's forecast. Don't believe them.
Jelly Bean may be the newest sweet in the family, but it is steadily gaining ground against its older brothers. Combined, Android 4.1 and Android 4.2 reached a 25 percent distribution level in the green droid realm, based on the number of devices accessing Google Play during the 14 days ending April 2.
Starting this month, Google has decided to alter how the data is collected. Google says: "Beginning in April, 2013, these charts are now built using data collected from each device when the user visits the Google Play Store. Previously, the data was collected when the device simply checked-in to Google servers". Why? Because the company considers the new collection method to be more accurate and that it best represents "users who are most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem".
Starting April 5, AT&T will carry one model of Amazon's tablet in stores, with $150 discount for those customers making a two-year contractual commitment. Just as T-Mobile tries to free Americans from subsidies, the nation's second-largest carrier reels them back in. The 32GB Kindle Fire 8.9" 4G LTE will sell for $399 without commitment -- $249 with one. The higher of the two prices reflects Amazon's recent $100 reduction, just 18 days ago.
Subsidized pricing makes Amazon's tablet one of the most-affordable mid-size models available. For example, Apple's 7.9-inch iPad mini starts at $329 and $459 with LTE. However, for comparable storage (32GB), iPad mini is $559 with LTE. Those prices require no contract. Something else to consider: Unless Amazon and AT&T have some special agreement that I don't know about, that $249 or $399 includes advertisements -- "special offers" -- that buyers must pay an extra $15 to remove. Still, $249 out the door makes Kindle Fire HD 8.9" the lowest-priced tablet for sale with super high-resolution display.
If you're the sort of person that wants to wear a smartwatch every day, then I'm sorry but we can't be friends. I should likely be polite and say the same overused line, "It's not you, it's me", but frankly I don't care for such folks to tell a blatant lie. I'm the sort of person that loves gadgets so much that I can't get enough of them at least 10 hours a day, but I draw the line at wearing one on the wrist. I'm a gadget lover who doesn't like smartwatches.
I'm not a fool nor reject the idea. I understand why someone would want to wear a smartwatch, but only on a certain occasion. I certainly wouldn't take anything but a beater climbing, hiking, playing sports, running and so on. A smartwatch might be useful there, without having the fear of scratching or ruining an expensive timepiece. But aren't there better tools for the job? And, in real-life, a smartwatch makes even less sense as it's not a replacement for anything, really, not even a real watch.
¡Hola! Many of us use Google Translate, some on a daily basis. For instance, I follow a few blogs in Reader (a moment of silence please) that are published in languages that are foreign to me. For the most part it works well, but can also lead to some rather amusing results. Now you can get those same laughs from your Android phone, even when you are offline.
Today Google's product manager Minqi Jiang announces that the search giant and mobile operating system developer is "launching offline language packages for Google Translate on Android (2.3 and above) with support for 50 languages, from French and Spanish to Chinese and Arabic".
IDC continues to send smoke signals that a blistering fire rages across the planet, sure to scorch the earth where PC manufacturers hoped to plant new computer sales. Emerging markets are engulfed in a blaze of smartphone and tablet adoption that leaves little hope for a desktop or notebook revival. I simply cannot overstate the speed this thing moves.
Eight days ago, the analyst firm revised downward PC shipment forecast for 2013, singling out changing buying patterns among emerging markets. Today IDC reaffirmed the forecast, while releasing final full-year 2012 PC, smartphone and tablet shipments. The data is grim pickings.
Today, comScore started a new service that ranks the top U.S. websites by desktop and mobile views -- the latter is a new measurement. Some of them really pop off the chart, with Apple glaring among traditional companies. More than one-third of unique visitors in February accessed the site via mobile device-only. That compares to 5 percent for Microsoft properties. Analysts, bloggers and journalists often portray the fruit-logo company as best representative of the so-called Post-PC era, and Windows' maker the epoch in decline.
The numbers aren't shocking, if you think about them. Windows has little presence on smartphones or tablets. Microsoft mobile OS smartphones share was just 3 percent during fourth quarter, according to Gartner. IDC forecasts Windows tablet market share, based on unit shipments, will be less than 5 percent this year. By comparison, iOS has greater reach, with, according to the company, cumulative shipments exceeding 500 million. Hell, Apple sold 43.5 million iPhones just in Q4, according to Gartner.
Confession: I've never used Evernote, much to the abash of colleague Alan Buckingham (or so he expressed in group chat a little while ago). But I would use Google Keep, which released today. Russell Holly calls Keep "the not-quite Evernote clone" -- for anyone making bold comparisons.
You tell me. Does this sound familiar, Evernote and OneNote users? "With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you", Katherine Kuan, Google software engineer, says. "Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand". She adds: "If it’s more convenient to speak than to type that’s fine -- Keep transcribes voice memos for you automatically. There’s super-fast search to find what you’re looking for and when you’re finished with a note you can archive or delete it".