On May 15, 2001, while previewing the first Apple Store to analysts and journalists, then CEO Steve Jobs boasted: "Apple has about 5 percent market share today", but the remainder "don't even consider us". Jobs exaggerated, and not for the first time, seeing as how Mac global share was more like 2 percent. But the ambition, to use the retail shops to "double our market share", was achievable. Three years following his death, with 10-percent long ago reached in the United States, something more startling occurred: During calendar Q3 2014, Apple moved into fifth place for global PC shipments, according to IDC. The question is why?
I have wondered for weeks, and waited until Apple's quarterly earnings report before writing an analysis. By my math, the average selling price of Macs was about $1,200 -- that in a PC market where sales are sluggish, at best, except below $300 selling price. Yet, according to financial disclosures, Apple shipped a record 5.5 million Macs, with units up 21 percent annually and 25 percent sequentially and generating $6.625 billion revenue; that's an increase of 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively, for the same time periods. Who in the hell is buying these things, and for so much money? The answer may surprise you.
Amazon recently released a new line of Kindle products, featuring two new tablets and readers respectively. With the release came an update to the retailer's version of Android, known as Fire OS. It's a highly customized take on Google's mobile platform -- almost unrecognizable, in fact.
Now Amazon is rolling out an update to it, bringing the system to version 4.1.1. The update doesn't seem to have hit the 2013 models yet, but those with the latest tablet should be seeing it now, or at least very soon.
With Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 on the horizon, as well as some great Android devices already on the market, some of you may be thinking about ditching iOS for Android. It is unquestionably a big decision, so you may want to ensure that the switch from an iPhone or iPad will be as painless as possible.
To help with the switch, Google has prepared a nifty guide that explains how you can migrate your data from iOS to Android, tackling key areas such as multimedia content, contacts, email, messaging and, of course, apps. You may recall that Apple posted a similar guide last month, detailing to would-be customers the steps they need to take to move from Android handsets to iPhones. Google now looks to simply be returning the favor.
Sarah Perez makes the point before I could (oh lazy me): "Apple announces too many iPads". That's the most sensible take on tablets launched last week, and over the weekend copycat stories started posting. Strange thing, there's nothing new about iPad configuration complexity. The number of base SKUs, while way too many, increases by just two.
I first harped on Apple's "too many problem", following iPad mini's introduction two years ago, observing: "It's a crowded lineup, with overlapping features and prices not seen from Apple since the early- to mid-1990s". Crowded is understatement. The mini jacked up the number of basic configurations from eight to 14. However, when looking at all available SKUs, including two colors and carrier-specific models, the number jumped to 54.
Yesterday, Apple announced a minor refresh to their iPad portfolio, with improvements mostly focused on Touch ID and a thinner footprint. In many ways, this did feel like this was a "placeholder" upgrade. The new iPads would certainly appeal to loyalists, but they don't seem to target the primary reasons behind the recent slowdown.
The slowdown in iPad sales (or high-end tablet sales, in general) was caused by three factors -- 1) Increasing overlap in use cases of large screen smartphones (or phablets) and tablets, 2) Inability to move downmarket, despite lower iPad Mini prices, because of competitive reasons highlighted in the chart above, and 3) Limited upmarket mobility because of a lack of developer focus around productivity.
Remember those predictions about tablets taking over the world and putting good-old PCs out to pasture? Well, scratch that, as it is not happening, at least not in the foreseeable future. Sales are slowing this year, dramatically. The slate market is estimated to only grow by 11 percent, year-over-year, in 2014, falling short of the 55 percent increase that was registered in 2013. So why is this happening?
Well, if you ask Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, it is because "tablets are not smartphones". Giving the US market as example, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech highlights the fundamental differences between the two categories, pointing to long replacement cycles, impersonal nature, resilience and low perceived value of tablets as the main reasons for the sales slowdown.
We have known for quite some time that the next incarnation of Android will pack a kill switch. This feature has long been requested, as it would prevent unauthorized reuse and, therefore, make a serious dent in smartphone and tablet theft. It is even imposed under Californian law, going into effect next year. But even though Google has not mentioned it yet, the kill switch is indeed baked into Android 5.0 Lollipop.
The kill switch in Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially known as "Factory reset protection", and is offered as an opt-in feature which only works in conjunction with a passcode. After it is enabled, the user's credentials (Google account and password) are required in order to reset the device, to allow a person other than the original user to use the device as intended.
It is estimated that one in three smartphones shipped in 2018 will be a phablet, which is more than double their projected share for 2014. For Google -- with Android still likely to run on the majority of phablets -- helping developers to properly optimize their apps for larger screens has become a top priority. Ensuring that Android phablets provide a great user experience is paramount; otherwise, users may jump ship to Apple's iPhones or Microsoft's Windows Phones.
So, today, Google takes the wraps off its first phablet, Nexus 6. It is the embodiment of all the great features we have come to expect out of a phablet from late-2014: super high-resolution screen, super fast processor, solid cameras, very thin bezels and a huge battery. As expected, Google also announced a new tablet, the first one to come since July 2013, called Nexus 9. It does not disappoint either. Of course, both run the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is shipping in the next few weeks.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the greatest tablets for content creators. It can run full-blown software like AutoCAD, Lightroom, Office and Photoshop because Windows 8.1 runs the show, it rivals ultrabooks in the speed department, can double as a laptop with a Type Cover attached, offers good battery life thanks to efficient processors and, on top of all this, ships with a neat stylus as well, out-of-the-box, which Microsoft calls Surface Pen.
Surface Pen is a precise input tool, which comes in handy when users want to draw, sketch or take notes, for instance. Still, for those who would like to make the stylus even more precise in operation can turn to Microsoft's new app, Surface Hub, to adjust pressure sensitivity, among other things.
We're increasingly becoming a digital society, yet almost one in five people in the UK lack digital skills and 52 percent of those are aged over 65.
There are quite a few computer manufacturers nowadays, and many of them release products of varying quality. However, there is one that seems to consistently produce computers that are extremely well-built and functional -- Lenovo. Not only do the manufacturer's laptops and tablets have great build-quality, but the designs seem well thought-out and innovative.
One of my favorite product lines from Lenovo is Yoga -- multi-mode computers that can be transformed into different form factors. Today, the company unveils the Yoga 3 Pro, ThinkPad YOGA 14, Yoga Tablet 2 and Yoga Tablet 2 Pro.
In a post on the Surface blog, Microsoft has moved to assure businesses that the Surface line is here to stay. We've already heard that the Surface Pro 3 is a success -- although there are no figures to back up this claim -- but Microsoft's failure to launch a third generation RT-based version of the Surface, as well as the disappearance of the long-rumored Surface Mini, raised fears that the line of tablets may not be long for this world. Microsoft is keen to allay these concerns, pointing out not only that Surface is here to stay, but also that it is particularly suitable for businesses.
The post points out that the Surface Pro 3 is a device that's "great for getting things done". There's almost an air of desperation to the blog post in which Microsoft extols the virtue Surface and confirms its commitment to the brand. The selling point is still that the device is a laptop and tablet in one, and post author Brian Hall, General Manager for Surface, is quick to mention a number of big names who have adopted Surface Pro 3.
While many people into technology spend their days languishing on the couch or vegetating in an office chair, others live active lifestyles. In fact, many people would identify themselves as being "extreme" by doing activities such as skydiving, rock climbing and parkour. However, people also work extreme jobs, like working in the sewers, construction or law enforcement.
If you are somebody doing an extreme or hardcore job, the average tablet won't cut it for you. Extreme people need extreme technology and today, Samsung announces the availability of its hardcore Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8 inch tablet. It is a slate designed for people that work dirty jobs and need it to take a beating. However, it may meet the needs of people that have extreme hobbies too.
Tablets are fantastic for casual tasks such as checking email, browsing the web, watching movies and playing games, but they’re not so good for doing work on because the virtual keyboard takes up so much of the screen space, and it’s difficult to touch type on.
If you want to boost your productivity, you need to consider buying a keyboard for your device. There are plenty of good ones to choose from, but that adds yet another thing to carry around with you. The Atongm Bluetooth Virtual Laser Keyboard is a tiny solution (36x18x74 mm, approx. 40g) which gives you back your screen space and turns any surface -- such as a table in a coffee shop -- into a keyboard.
Nowadays, all major operating systems are great. Regardless of your preference, it cannot be denied that Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and many Linux distributions are amazing feats of technology. It is not uncommon for me and many others to use multiple operating systems every day. While Windows is what I use mostly for getting work done, Android is my smartphone OS of choice, and the iPad is my bedtime entertainment computer. It is not necessary to live on a desert island-like environment from only one company exclusively.
Bluetooth keyboards have made typing on devices convenient; however, there is an annoying aspect -- pairing. If you use a Bluetooth keyboard with only one device, you should have no issue. Unfortunately, if you want to share it between multiple devices and operating systems, you have to re-pair it every time you switch. This becomes a tedious affair, turning convenience into a hassle. Luckily, Logitech has released a product, that should alleviate this nuisance -- the Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.