Friday, 26 July 2013

Apple Q3 2013 results surprise, and bemuse.

Just when it was predicted that the iPhone was on the decline, or at least sales were remaining flat, Apple have gone and blown us away by selling over 31m iPhones in the last quarter. 

Estimates were suggesting around the 26-28m mark, and to be frank, that was fairly ambitious. Compared to the same time last year, Apple have sold 5m more iPhones, and that's the bewildering thing given the disappointment with the iPhone 5 and continued questions over Apple's innovation. Where this market has appeared from, is unknown thus far. These numbers are particularly impressive given that we are particularly likely to see a new iPhone in September, and another budget model to boot. We could be looking at huge iPhone sales numbers emerging from Apple in Q12014. 

Another surprise (although forecasted) is the significant (near 3m) drop in iPad sales. It's difficult to see what's the direct influence on these figures. Android tablets? I find that hard to believe, especially as there still isn't a worthy competitor to the iPad. The Nexus 7 is streaks ahead of the iPad Mini (LINK), but the iPad is in its own league. It could simply be the sheer weight of cheaper Android tablets taking its toll on iPad sales. It could also be financial situation or it could simply be that tablets are losing popularity. Apple will be hoping for a pick-up when the rumoured new iPad is released in the latter stages of the year.
     The other bad news for Apple was that Mac sales also faltered, but only slightly, falling just 200,000 in the same time period to 3.8m, but given the slow decline of laptops and desktop computers, this isn't particular concerning for Apple.

Cook hinted at some Apple innovation over the rest of the year saying they were "laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.” Whether or not this is just to excite investors is unknown, but Apple will have to do a lot better this time around, than the same period last year.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Moto X: Everything but the official launch

Motorola have done a spectacular job of making sure there are no surprises come August 1st when the Moto X is officially launched to the public. @evleaks and The Unlocker have acquired pretty much everything there is to know about the X, and there's some good stuff to tell! Now, everything you need to know about the phone is out and about, so let's take a look at this long-awaited mystery phone.

The X certainly doesn't go against Motorola's styling preferences - but it looks very good, indeed. It's a sleek, clean phone that takes elements from the S4, and HTC One. Not a bad thing at all. It's not as good looking as the One, but then again, what is!?

In true Motorola style, they've focused upon build and battery. The 2,200mAh battery should be impressive in life and the rear shell is made with the Motorola favourite, Kevlar, which is customisable. The phone also, unsurprisingly, will run stock Android, which is always a nice addition. This will be run on a slightly dated dual-core Snapdragon chip with a solid 2GB RAM/1.7GHz processor and a 4.5" screen to boot. (pixel density has yet to be leaked.) There's also the nice surprise of a 10.5MP camera - very competitive. I've seen reports criticising the 4.5" screen but I can't understand that. I think it's almost the optimum size for the general consumer and will certainly not be a turn-off.

We've got a few rumoured pricing structures for the X and they suggest it could well challenge the pricing on the Nexus 4 - a bold move. Prices floating around are $299 pay as you go, and a 32GB version for $349. On contract, the prices are likely to be between $99-$150 for a couple of year contracts. Whilst these haven't been confirmed, they seem fair accurate guesses anyway.

So where does it fit in the flagship pecking order? Well, not especially high to be honest. In most aspects, this phone others little to place it above its competitors. It's a solid phone, and that's probably the best compliment for it, and Motorola. Its the sort of phone that will help Motorola, slowly, begin to claw back a small percentage of market share, which is what Google will keen on. A market share will allow Google to further develop Motorola's wearable technology targets, and we should all be excited about that.

Anyway, quiet, you didn't hear any of this hear... Remember, the phone hasn't been launched yet...!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Chromebook: The saviour of the laptop?

Amid a holiday, leaving We Are Social, and starting my new job at Pitch, I managed to miss the quite startling news that Chromebooks now lay claim to nearly 25% of the <$300 laptop market in the US over the last eight months.

According to NPD Group Inc., Chromebooks are defying the global trend of a shrinking laptop market, and indeed shrinking PC market (predicted to fall 7.8% in 2013). This is quite startling, and impressive from Google/Chromebook OEMs. The key in this drive is Samsung's Chromebook which, at just $249, is a bargain given its specs. Also important, is Google's continued success with Chrome.

I previously queried the mass appeal for Chromebooks at this point in time, but could definitely foresee the shift taking place in the future. It appears this shift has occurred far quicker than I expected, and the niche that Google was bound to find with the Chromebook, is greater than first thought. It seems Caesar Sengupta, head of product development for Chromebooks, is surprised as well:

“We’re seeing tremendous growth, without a doubt -- massive, massive growth,”

Now, before we read too much into this report, Chromebooks still only accounted for 5% of total shipped laptops and netbooks in Q1 2013, but this was up from 1% in 2012 showing that the interest is certainly there. According to DigiTimes, Google is looking to maximise this interest by pushing further Chromebooks in the lead up to Christmas.

"Because of weak demand for Windows 8, Google has been trying to use the chance to expand into the PC industry and with Intel’s aggressive R&D supports as well as AMD’s entrance to the Chromebook market, many brand vendors such as Asustek Computer are reportedly considering to develop related models to counter Microsoft’s dominance."

Are you get to be sold on the Chromebook revolution? Do you see this growth continuing into 2014?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

FINALLY a good Samsung Galaxy S4 viral! (though credit goes to Swisscom)

If you have the *privilege* (make up your own mind on that) to real my blog regularly, then you'll know that I'm not the biggest fan of how Samsung have marketed the S4. From terrible covers of Gangnam style - to appallingly bad teaser videos; Samsung could have done much better in launching the Galaxy S4.

However, they seemed to have learnt their lesson (or at least Swisscom have learnt for them) and taken some tips from Coca-Cola by creating a neat viral ad on YouTube. Titled "All eyes on the S4", the ad highlights the S4's eye-tracking capabilities, whilst adding in entertaining stunts along the way. It's worth a watch:

Firefox OS is finally a real thing - but faces a limited road ahead

I'll be honest, when I heard Mozilla were bringing out an OS and even flagship phones to partner Firefox, I didn't take it particularly seriously. To be honest, I still don't.

Firefox is a popular OS, it's not on the same level as Chrome.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

As you can see from recent stats, Chrome is dominating the market share and thus justifies a Chrome OS. Has Firefox reached this point? No. But still, after releasing their initial prototypes for public consumption, they've now taken the next step.

Mozilla publicly released phones running its new Firefox OS in Spain on Monday.

The ZTE Open and Alcatel OneTouch Fire are very basic phones with 3.5", 320x480px screens (1/4 pixel density of the Galaxy S4). They both have 3.2mp cameras and 1GHz processors backed up with 256mb RAM. (Told you they were basic).
     At least the price reflects that: Telefonica will sell the ZTE Open in Spain starting July 2 for 69 euros. Mozilla, as a nonprofit company, is trying to shake up the typical closed app ecosystems by using open Web standards which it will appeal to Web developers who can start creating HTML 5 apps for the phones.

Mozilla holding a reasonable share in the European or American smartphone market is unthinkable. They would be focusing upon the lower price range, but by doing so they would be running head-first at Android and the specs simply do not match. Not only that, if the rumoured cheaper iPhone is on the cards they'll be running at that as well. Furthermore, with the contract market continuing to grow in Europe and the US, people are willing to pay a bit more per month for the flagships like the S4 or HTC One. So for those reasons, Mozilla are being realistic and are focusing on markets that are still dominated by feature phones, and in this respect are challenging the remaining Nokia and BlackBerry strongholds - whilst also going toe to toe with Windows Phone's targets. Initial locations are reported to be Spain, Poland, Colombia, Venezuela and eventually Brazil but with this you can see Mozilla's ambitions are limited. I just don't see any handset success in these markets translating into the major global smartphone markets.

As a geek, and a fan of Firefox, I love the idea of a Mozilla phone, but that is my heart talking. My head would steer me well clear and I worry that the majority of consumers will agree, even in the developing markets.

What do you think? Would you consider buying Mozilla? Disagree about the phones uptake? I'd love to hear from you.