Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet rollout came and went without much fanfare. Although Redmond’s first crack at the tablet market received relatively positive reviews, consumers seem unfazed and many of them are choosing to trade in their new tablets.
But Samsung effectively doubled its market share in the last quarter of 2012, according to IDC. The Galaxy tablets sold nearly eight million units representing a market share of 2.2 million.
Apple, on the other hand, has seen its market share slip from 51.7 percent to 43.6 percent, although it sold more units.
IDC said that the last quarter of 2012 saw worldwide sales of tablets rise to 52.5 million units, a rise of 75 percent.
It’s not a direct correlation, but PC shipments fell in the last quarter of 2012. But even though Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet towards the end of last year, it only sold 900,000 units. The price of the Surface is hurting sales, IDC believes.
The comments follow a survey of 320 graduates from CWJobs, which found that those who had completed a placement year had been better prepared to enter the world of work when they had finished their degree.
A quarter of those asked said they had completed a placement while studying for their degrees. Of these, 81 percent said they felt the experience had helped them when it came to their IT career.
Just under half of students who had not completed a placement year admitted that they did not feel that just having a degree better placed them for the world of work.
According to recruitment firm Experis, and IT jobs site CWJobs.com, which jointly conducted the research, employers often look for students who had completed relevant work experience.
However, they pointed out that of the 2,048 computing courses offered in the UK, only 470 offer a placement year.
According to a work experience expert, many students who don’t have the option of a sandwich course will fail to find a placement during their time at university.
“At university level things change slightly from school age where it is down to each borough to place a 16 year old in a work experience placement”, she told ChannelEye. “At degree level, it’s no longer down to the government to place students, which in some ways, considering the tuition fee hike is unfair.
“It means that on top of their workload students are put under pressure- with probably minimal help from their tutors, to find placements to accompany their course. There may be companies who are signed up with the course but the competition is rife.”
There are financial costs involved too.
An article in the Guardian last year suggested that some universities can charge up to around £4,500 for sandwich years, while businesses are also reluctant to become a part of this scheme as they don’t have the time to supervise these students.
“Placements are very important, but for some, the time and effort associated with these put students off and, as we’ve seen from this research could prove detrimental in the future,” the work experience expert added.
Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute for IT announced that it is launching a teacher training scholarship aimed at creating the next generation of computer science teachers.
The organisation wants secondary schools to “have outstanding computer science teachers” and it hopes the scholarships will help towards achieving this.
The scheme also aims to help students receive a good grounding in computer science education so they are suitably equipped for progression into further education and a professional career.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We need to bring computational thinking into our schools. Having Computer Science in the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) will have a big impact on schools over the next decade.
“It will mean millions of children learning to write computer code so they are active creators and controllers of technology instead of just being passive users. It will be great for education, great for the economy, and will help restore the spirit of Alan Turing and make Britain a world leader again.”
Fifty scholarships per year, each worth £20,000, will be awarded for those engaged in an initial teacher training course, with the funding supplied by the Department for Education.
The scheme will also be backed by the likes of Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook, Meta Switch Networks and Ocado.
Consumer behemoth Apple reported its first quarter financial results yesterday and while it posted revenues of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion, compared to revenues of $46.3 billion and profits of $13.1 billion in the same financial quarter last year, profits were flat.
Gross margin fell to 38.6 percent compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter last year. Apple is forecasting gross margins between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent for its second quarter, with estimated revenues between $41 billion and $43 billion.
So, what’s the problem? CEO Tim Cook said that supply problems were a matter to be concerned about, despite media reports. And Apple has got a stash of cash in its corporate coffers – not far short of $137 billion in both liquid ashes and in cash. That gives it a pot of gold that would let it buy other companies to make a splash in new or other developing markets.
A bigger problem is its existing slew of products, including the wildly successful iPad and the solidly popular iPhone. It does face a challenge on the tablet front – particularly so from Google and Amazon devices. Microsoft Windows 8 using Intel chips may not be so much of a challenge. Intel cannot necessarily lower the price of its microprocessors, given its business model and Microsoft appears to believe that tablet devices running the touch version of Windows 8 should command the same prices as Apple iPads, or be even more expensive.
Apple’s share price (AAPL: Nasdaq), stood at $460.15 at press time.
Despite hopes that Windows 8 and Ultrabooks would see a rise in sales over the Christmas period after a damp 2012, people kept their purse strings tight and shunned the internet to visit stores and make considered purchases.
One nation wide PC retailer said, speaking with ChannelEye, that in-store sales were higher than net sales, on average. “I think this is because people wanted to come in and have a play,” the retailer said. “It’s not like it used to be where you’d just buy a model over the net and if it wasn’t as good, replaced it a few years later – people are looking for reliable models that are worth their price tag”.
Another nation-wide retailer that stocks technology agreed, telling ChannelEye that try before you buy is growing and there has been a lot of footfall in the technology sections, where products are expensive and considered purchases. “The economic climate has dictated that this needs to be done to have an enduring product that complies to needs,” the retailer said. “Laptops are no longer throwaway products or hand-me-downs. They are important for business needs and therefore need to last and be easily upgraded”.
It was hoped that Windows 8 and Ultrabooks would get a Christmas boost after a slow 2012. However, research from IDC showed that Windows 8 failed to encourage shoppers to part with their cash, with many sticking to their old laptops and installing the new OS on there.
One source at a nation wide PC retailer, however, pointed out that the operating system was instrumental in pushing some sales, although Ultrabooks remained on the shelves.
“Sales of both were pretty poor for the Christmas period if I’m honest. Windows 8 pulled in more revenue, while Ultrabooks, slipped even further down.” the source said. “Laptops equipped with Windows 8 software did better than Ultrabooks, showing people aren’t fussed about size. They just want a reliable machine.”
IDC suggested the lack of sales were down to PC vendors getting too involved in promoting the touch feature of Windows 8, while Intel’s emphasis on its skinny form factor did it no favours as the price tag was still sky high.
The PC retailer agreed that at the moment, people aren’t looking for style, but “they are looking for a rugged laptop with business and necessary bells and whistles and there are lower end laptops that offer this, meaning people will pay a price for the OS but not the design”.
However, one distributor had other ideas on how the market had fared, claiming that his company had been left hardly any surplus stock of Windows 8 equipped hardware.
“Windows 8 did better than we expected over the Christmas period and we were hardly left with any surplus stock,” he said. “However, January has proved a little bit quieter. This is obviously expected. People paid for these machines at top end prices during the festive season because they want something that can be wrapped up and shown off under the tree. These people are probably who Microsoft was targeting. Those with money.
“Now, the sales are depending on people with lower incomes who just don’t have the cash to splash on brand new laptops,” the distie said.
As I write this, Intel’s share price (NASDAQ:INTC) stands at $21.93 and Microsoft’s (NYSE:MSFT) at $26.90. They’ve ticked along in this way for many a long year now and the only way seems to be down.
Signs of bombers approaching have been on the radar for many a year now, and both companies seem to be like supertankers, which take an awfully long time to run round. The Vole and the Zilla have got complacent and failed to take steps years ago to re-engineer their businesses.
You still have time to have a wee and wash your hands before a PC boots up and despite the undoubted process advances Intel has made over the years, people are fleeing the Win platform in their droves.
Both companies have failed to make inroads into the smartphone and tablet market, even though they whined on and on about convergence for many a year. Handset manufacturers, by and large, do not want to be in the tender embrace of the two companies which essentially dictated what went in the PC industry.
And besides, their basic technology deeply sucks, for different reasons. Intel is forced, because of its huge capital investment commitments, to put a premium on its notebook microprocessors while it is safe to say that its much vaunted Atom range is just a total flop.
Microsoft’s software has always basically sucked anyway and it’s only by cunning marketing that it achieved its pre-eminence in this side of the business. I don’t think anyone, apart from Intel executives, have got smartphones powered by Intel Inside. Oddly enough, at an Intel Developer Forum years and years ago, when it still had its StrongARM stuff, me and a few other journos did ask why Intel just didn’t go and develop really low power devices based on the ARM chip and give people what they really wanted.
While Intel and Microsoft have been shilly-shallying and, essentially, living in the past, competition has crept up and overtaken them.
And so at some point this year, current CEO Paul Otellini is to depart from his captain’s cabin at Intel, to be replaced by who-knows-who to guide the ship into 2013 and beyond.
Right now, and as an Intel and Microsoft watcher for nigh on 30 years, I just can’t see how these particular conjurers are going to pull any rabbits out of their magic hats. Maybe they’ll specialise in producing cabbages from up their sleeves, instead.