Tag: tablets

John Lewis up. Debenhams down

tablet-POS-cash-registerHigh street stores showed mixed results in their bids to win the hearts, souls and wallets of people over the Yuletide season.

Debenhams didn’t do at all well and that caused its chief beancounter, Simon Herrick, to fall on his sword this morning.

The John Lewis Partnership, which is a sort of cooperative, said its sales for the period were up 6.9 percent from the same Christmas period the year before. But it did particularly well on the interwibble front – in the five weeks to the 28th of December last its sales rose by over 22 percent.

Debenhams is in the slough of despond, however. It issued a profits warning for the next six months.

Obliquely, the John Lewis news is bad news for chip giant Intel too. Many people are using smartphones and tablets to buy online rather than wait for their X86 based machines to boot up.

Intel ultrabooks face Apple threat

Intel-logoSamsung and Apple both have plans to release tablets with screen as large as 12 or 13 inches, putting further pressure on ultrabooks powered by Intel X86 processors.

Digitimes claims that the Apple unit will be made by Quanta with the likelihood that it will have a 12.9 inch screen, come out in October next year and will target the educational market.

Samsung, which is giving Apple a run for its money, is also rumoured to be releasing 12 or 13-inch tablets next year.

The same wire reports that Apple will introduce a large iPhone in May next year using a 20 nanometre microprocessor, with TSMC the foundry that has the win.

Big tab sales close to 300 million

ipad3A report from ABI Research said that something like 285 million big tablet brands will have shipped by the time Hogmanay happens.

The US market has shipped 70 million tablets from the likes of Apple and Samsung – representing a tablet for every four people.

But Apple’s big chunk of the market is showing some signs of erosion. In 2013, 51 percent of the installed base is represented by Apple’s OS and 40 percent Android.

Samsung had 20 percent growth in the third quarter of 2013, said ABI Research.

Apple upped its ASPs by one percent but shipments fell by four percent compared to the previous quarter and revenues fell about three percent.

Argos has canned its tablet – report

Argos MyTabletAfter rumours that high street giant Argos had dropped its MyTablet, it now appears that,  er, it has.

A report on Hudluser.com quotes a customer service rep from Argos saying that its Bush MyTablet pink and its Bush MyTablet silver have been discontinued.

Argos had previously said that it was out of stock because of its popularity.

We have contacted Argos for comment and will update this story when we hear from the company.

Intel refuses to give up on tablets

Intel-logoNever one to give up even when the battle’s already lost, chip behemoth Intel is apparently preparing a big notebook push.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, which claims to have information frm the supply chain, Intel will unveil a plethora of chips that support entry level and high end tablets.

And, in bitter news for its long time “friend” Microsoft, Intel will introduce CPUs that support Android operating systems at the end of this year.

Bay Trail Android CPUs aimed at seven inch tablets will cost between $99 and $129 while it will also introduce other chips in the first quarter of next year costing between $149 to $199.

Bay Trail and Cherry Trail CPUs will look to target eight to 10 inch tablets and cost a staggering $199 to $249.

And in September next year, Cherry Trail will emerge from the factories using 14 nanometre “Airmont” manufactures – Another Trail blazer wll be Willow Trail at the same time, using 14 nanometre Goldmont, according to Digitimes.

And it seems Chipzilla hasn’t given up the ghost on smartphones and will intro 22 nanometre chips.

It’s hard to see how Intel can possibly catch up this late in the game, but it sure looks like it’s going to give it a stab.

Dell offers voluntary redundancies

Dell logoA number of staff at Dell were offered voluntary redundancy, it has emerged.

The Wall Street Journal said it had got hold of an internal memorandum giving people the chance to take voluntary redundancy with the cut off date being the 20th of December.

The Journal chatted to a spinner at the company who would not say how many people Dell wanted to lay off. He also refused to say whether the tin giant would introduce compulsory redundancies if not enough people offered to fall on the sword of their own account.

He did say that Dell wanted to improve its cost structure.

Like other PC manufacturers worldwide, Dell has faced declining sales as people dash to swipe tablets and smartphones rather than face the wonders of Windows 8.1 and Intel microprocessors.

PC market to take further plunge

surface-pro-2Research from IDC indicates that worldwide PC shipments will fall by 10.1 percent in 2013.

The market research firm said it is most severe fall since records began.

Shipments in 2014 are also set for fall by a further 3.8 percent with total PC shipments staying at 300 million.

Interest in PCs has waned, but IDC said that enterprise sales are performing far better although still falling by five percent year on year.  But, said Jay Chou, a senior analyst at the company, the long term outlook for commercial and consumer markets is not significantly different.

Even developing markets are showing a fall.

He said: “Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system. While IDC research finds that the PC still remains the primary computing device – for example, PCs are used more hours per day than tablets or phones – PC usage is nonetheless declining each year as more devices become available. And despite industry efforts, PC usage has not moved significantly beyond consumption and productivity tasks to differentiate PCs from other devices. As a result, PC lifespans continue to increase, thereby limiting market growth.”

And so to PC tablets running Windows. While in 2017 it is expected to grow to 39.3 million units, from the 2013 figure of 7.5 million, such tablets will only add a few percentage points a year to PC growth.

Tablet failures slow BYOD growth

ipad3A report claimed that nearly half people using tablets have experienced failure in the last two years, making them a poor choice as devices in the business sector.

The survey was undertaken by Panasonic which – it is only fair to say – has an axe to grind because it is pushing its Toughbook range of tablets.

The survey showed that the most common weakest link was extreme temperatures, whether machines were left in places too hot or too cold.

The next common reason for failure was machines being dropped or knocked off desks – that was followed by spillages.  Panasonic claimed one in 10 reported that a vehicle drove over their broken tablets.

Battery problems, touchscreen bugs and screen breakages were also named as reasons for tablets not working – with the average time for repair being two weeks.

The survey showed that tablets are often used wen employees were travelling but 45 percent used it at their desk or in front of clients.

Panasonic didn’t say how many people it had surveyed.

Stan Shih returns in Acer reshuffle

Acer's Stan ShihThe founder of Acer – Stan Shih – has returned to the company he founded as chairman and interim president.

That follows CEO and chairman JT Wang stepping down, along with president Jim Wong.

Acer has been particularly hard hit by the slump in PC sales over several quarters and we guess the return of Shih is seen by the board as giving the company’s fortunes a blip.

Shih saw Acer’s fortunes rise during the 1990s as he turned the company from yet another PC manufacturer to become a global player competing with the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo.

He retired some years ago and observers see little respite in PC performance as people move away from notebooks to tablets and smartphones.

Organisation waves goodbye to the desktop PC

Scottish standardThe Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has moved to a mobile model and in the process reduced its PC energy costs by as much as 90 percent.

That’s according to Citrix, which said it is using its  technology to reduce its energy footprint.

SEPA is using desktop virtualisation technology to centralise data and applications, which people  can now use as a service. It moved into a new building earlier this year designed with mobile usage in mind – and includes seven hot desks for 10 staff. SEPA employees over 1,000 people.

Staff get to the SEPA desktop wherever they are and using whatever device is being used – whether it’s a tablet, a home PC or a desktop PC.

The scheme will also reduce business travel costs. Citrix gives as one example that lets scientists who work at the agency start a model in the morning from home and access the results later in the day.

Jav Yaqub, IT Services Manager, SEPA said: “We wanted this project to embody the core ethos of the agency, creating an efficient and environmentally-conscious IT infrastructure. We also wanted to offer people their desktop, wherever they went, but we were obviously concerned about potential data loss. The idea of having a centralised virtual desktop and using low power thin-client devices was very attractive. Our employees love the new environment.  They are able to do more things from more places.”

Android leaps ahead in smartphone sales

Keep taking the tabletsA report from analyst company Gartner shows that while the Android OS has lept ahead in the third quarter of 2013, Apple’s iOS has lost share.

According to Gartner figures, Android has 81.9 percent share, iOS 12.1 percent, and Microsoft 3.6 percent.  In the same quarter last year, the figures were 72.6 percent, 14.3 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

Gartner attributes growth of Microsoft sales to decline in the shares of other OSes – particularly Blackberry, which had 1.8 percent in Q3 2013 compared to 5.2 percent in the same period last year.

On the smartphone device front, Samsung has 32.1 percent, Apple 12.1 percent, Lenovo 5.1 percent, and LG 4.8 percent for the third quarter.

The figures for smartphones shipped for the whole year is expected to reach 1.81 billion units, up 3.4 percent from 2012. Gartner thinks that in mature markets, people will buy smaller sized tablet over replacing older smartphones.

ODM bullish about notebook sales

Flying in the face of received wisdom, Compal’s president Ray Chen is talking up notebook sales in 2014.notebooks

Compal is an original design manufacturer (ODM) – that is to say a company which makes notebooks for big brand names.

According to a report in Digitimes, Chen expects shipments to hit 40 million units next year.

But he is conservative about touchscreen notebooks, despite Microsoft’s best efforts, and thinks they’ll only account for 15 percent of shipments next year. Compal will ship 15 million tablets next year.

He told the Taiwanese wire that its customers have been placing additional orders in this final quarter and expects notebook business to increase as enterprises are forced into upgrading as Windows XP reaches the end of the road.

You can read more, here.

Brits just want to keep taking the tablets

Santa CalusIn the buildup to Christmas it seems that the hot item for Santa’s stocking are tablets.

That’s according to nevouchercodes.co.uk, which today reports there’s an 18 percent increase for people searching for tablets.

But the white box buys may not fare so well, because the company says most of the searches are for iPads, Samsung Galaxy tablets and Amazon Kindles.

MD of the company Steve Barnes said that whiole people are searching they’re not buying yet.  Tesco and Argos entering the fray makes tablets more affordable as a gift, he said.

People are also searching for deals on Xbox360s and PlayStation 3s because they’re expecting older models to be discounted in advance of the release of new consoles.

White box tablets make the grade

ipad3A report said that shipments of unbranded tablets amounted to 25 million in the third quarter of this year.

Digitimes Research said that figure is up by 56.3 percent sequentially and up 40.4 percent year on year.

Most of the shipments went abroad and seven inch screens accounted for most of the growth.

Yet the research outfit believes it won’t be all plain sailing for the white box suppliers because big brands will, and are, offering Android units at prices that compete with the white box units.

Mediatek continues to make progress in the sector, with its chips accounting for 70 percent of application processors.

Sales in Europe and the US of white box units often accompany other bundling deals, but the Chinese manufacturers of the tablets can expect to make headway in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America, according to the research.

Intel seems to have lost its way

Sean MaloneyThe news that Intel’s Galileo is on its way just underlines to me how the chip giant has lost its way.

The “open source” computer costs $70, and uses its Quark microprocessor. Intel clearly thinks it will compete against the highly successful Raspberry Pi but clearly it hasn’t got a chance to play catch up.

The launch mirrors Intel’s late attempt to climb on the tablet bandwagon by cutting the price of its Atom microprocessor to compete with ARM and Nvidia based chips.  But it hasn’t got an earthly here, either.  Manufacturers are very chary about using anything with the Intel name associated with the tin. Again, that’s underlined by vendors’ reluctance to be associated with Intel.

Cheap is everything in the tablet market now and even though Intel’s chips might be, er, cheap as chips, the economics of this don’t really make a lot of sense to anyone. Sure, Intel has heaps of capacity but that in itself is part of the problem. State of the art fabs are really expensive these days and the volume game just doesn’t fit Intel’s business model.

In reality, the chip giant really has very little new to say. The new broom in the shape of CEO  Brian Kzanic appears to be attempting the Herculean task of cleaning the Augean Stables not just of the dung but also of a heap of very good people who have let their legs do the walking.

Datacentre business no doubt is still healthy for Chipzilla, but on the other hand independent market research shows that the notebook market is on the wane.  Sure, enterprises will refresh their notebooks but with the arrival of BYOD, there’s a level of ambiguity which must leave Intel more than a little bemused.

In truth, Intel has had zilch to say in the last three years as smartphones and tablets transformed the “traditional” Wintel model.

As part of the antitrust agreement following the demise of DEC, Intel found itself with StrongARM devices. At the time, we asked top executives from the firm why it didn’t just cut the Gordian Knot and produce a highly portable ARM based device?  The answer, of course, was that Intel was on the Centrino notebook gravy train. Sean Maloney, now a non-executive director at Chinese foundry SMIC, realised that the Atom chip might well cannibalise the notebook market but nobody at Intel appeared to have looked further than the next three quarters and see its dominance becoming more and more eroded.

Of course, Intel has oodles of cash in the bank but oodles don’t last forever.  Re-engineering its business model is, for Intel, a far from trivial task. As an Intel watcher for the last 30 years, I will be most interested to see what happens in the next 12 to 18 months.