Tag: tablets

Notebook market continues to plunge

notebooksWhile the notebook PC showed sequential growth in the third quarter the news is not good.

That’s according to market research company IHS, which said shipments “plunged” on a year to year basis.

IHS said that mobile PC shipments were 47.9 million worldwide, a rise of six percent from the quarter before. But despite this sequential growth, the market has now shrunk for five consecutive quarters on a year for year basis.

Craig Stice, senior principal analyst at HIS, said: “Amid the onslaught of tablets, the notebook PC market now is desperately seeking any reason for optimism. However, even with a respite from the sequential decline and a few other hopeful developments, the mobile PC business still on track to decline for the full year of 2013.”

He said the global PC market is forecast to fall again this year, repeating its decline in 2012. That was the first decline in 11 years.

Microsoft study sheds light on UK app economy

smartphones-genericMicrosoft has revealed the results of its new study into the state of the UK app landscape and it’s crediting “brave developers” with creating a dynamic little economy. App developers aren’t just IT professionals, there are plenty of hobbyists coding out of their homes and they are joining the fun.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Low return on investment is a big concern, as only 51 percent of apps were achieving a reasonable return. App development also requires plenty of new skills and 86 percent of developers believe the skill set is much different from five to ten years ago. Other challenges include the need to design cross-platform apps and potential problems with security and privacy.

Despite these challenges, Britain’s app economy is thriving and 95 percent of developers are optimistic about the future of their niche. Another 86 percent believe current apps have only scratched the surface, while 83 believe demand for custom apps will increase over the next few years.

“The ecosystem of UK developers is growing rapidly, with professionals, hobbyists and a new breed of those responsible for commissioning applications bringing their own unique blend of passion and potential,” says Anand Krishnan, General Manager, Developer and Platform Group, Microsoft Limited. “It’s a world of opportunity – and harsh new challenges. The days of developing for a single platform, a single form factor, even a single kind of device are over.”

Although there’s no shortage of optimism, it’s probably a good idea to be cautious. Some developers were talked to believe app development is slowly transforming into a bubble. As mobile apps mature, there will be less room for newcomers and new ideas. Furthermore, the cost of developing mobile apps is going down, as coders in traditional outsourcing markets gain the necessary skills and start to compete at a fraction of the cost of western devs.

Tablets drive ad impressions

Keep taking the tabletsA survey showed that the Apple iPad accounted for the majority of mobile advertising impressions.

The report, from Opera Mediaworks, is US based and focuses on the third quarter.

There wasn’t a slump for mobile advertising during the summer, the company said, bucking previous years’ trends.

The Apple iOS system grabbed 44 percent of impressions and 50 percent of revenue – that’s based on Opera M’s ad platform, which serves 60 billion ad impressions a month.

But if you substract the iPad from the equation, iPhone and Android are level pegging at 31 percent and 30.3 percent, respectively.

The report showed tablet market share has doubled with iPad and Android tablets accounting for 10 percent of all impressions. That’s compared to the same period in 2012, when tablets seized only five percent of impressions.

Intel promises more cheap tablets and hybrids. Again

Intel-logoIntel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich is at it again. He is promising $99 tablets, along with $299 Haswell laptops, $349 2-in-1 hybrids and $299 Bay Trail clamshells. The prices aren’t exactly new – Krzanich talked about $99 tablets back at IDF 2013.

In the meantime the first Bay Trail products have started to appear, although they are not widely available yet. Early benchmarks found that Bay Trail tablets were roughly on a par with the latest ARM SoCs from Nvidia and Qualcomm. The bad news is that Intel’s chips are manufactured using a superior process (22nm vs. 28nm) and that they cost a bit more than ARM chips. Intel’s official prices for Bay Trail-T SoCs are $32 to $37, while high-end ARM chips are estimated to cost $20 to $28.

With that in mind, it is obvious that Intel doesn’t stand to make much cash on $99 tablets, which don’t exactly have much room for Intel’s traditionally high margins. The price points for hybrids and laptops are more realistic, but demand for Windows hybrids has yet to materialise.

That is a bigger problem than actual hardware. Intel’s new x86 SoCs have what it takes both in terms of performance and efficiency, but they are going after a limited market that simply isn’t there, at least not yet. Aggressive pricing should help, but Krzanich stated that the price cuts should also involve OEMs and ODMs.

This will be a bitter pill to swallow for many of them, as they are already struggling to make ends meet in a slow PC market. They would effectively have to give up some of their margins to hit Intel’s price points and at the same time they could cannibalize their own product lines.

This is where the failure of Windows RT and the lacklustre market performance of Windows 8 tablets could back come to haunt Intel. While PC makers were waiting for competitive x86 parts to stick in their hybrids and tablets, most of them decided to roll out ARM-based products with Android, dropping RT in the process and limiting Redmond’s footprint on the tablet market. For example, Asus, Lenovo and HP are already selling Android hybrids. Lenovo even introduced its first Android IdeaPad laptop a few days ago and it should sell for less than 200 pounds.

The only thing Intel has going for it in this segment is x86 support, i.e. the ability to run Windows 8 and offer hybrids that can use the wide range of Windows productivity apps. However, vendors appear to be focusing on higher performance Haswell tablets for Windows 8, which can’t come close to the $299 mark for a variety of reasons.

 

Scotland takes Windows 8.1 tablet plunge

Scottish flagMicrosoft said the Scottish government is to adopt Windows 8 tablet PCs.

The government will take delivery of Samsung Series 7 Slates, Dell Latitude 10s and Samsung ATIVs running Win8.

Trustmarque, an MS Gold Partner, created a proof of concept.  Mark Garrity, head of the UK public sector at Trustmarque, said that the success of the move underlines a strong partnership between his company and Scotland.

The deployment will include MS User Experience Virtualisaion which lets users log in to any computer on the same network.

Staff in the pilot project included 20 top government execs and 20 techniques.

No details were given of the value of the deal.

PC market continues to be weak

IDC graphIDC released figures estimating that worldwide PC shipments accounted for 81.6 million units in Q3 of 2013 – that’s a drop of 7.6 percent, compared to the previous year.

But IDC said it had expected a decline of 9.5 percent for the quarter.  It said that shipments were weak in the early part of the quarter but business buys and channel intake of Windows 8.1 based systems happened in September.

IDC said emerging markets continued to be weak, while the channel and vendors were stock heavy on Ivy Bridge systems and eroded by lower priced smartphones and tablets.

Upgrades from Windows XP boosted shipments in the enterprise desktop section.

Rajani Singh, senior research analyst at IDC, said that the US market hasn’t changed that much. There may be a small increase in the fourth quarter, he said. But that will be followed “by a challenging 2014”.

In EMEA the PC market continued to decline with weak consumer demand a shift to tablets.  The channel maintained lean inventories during the period.

The only bright light were “pockets of investments” despite companies still being reluctant to spend any money.

Lenovo is the top vendor and is expanding into the channel, while HP and Dell were numbers two and three.  Acer and Asus both were weakened by lack of spend by consumers. Asus doesn’t have a significant corporate user base.

Companies start taking their tablets

Keep taking the tabletsMore and more tablets are being used in companies with large numbers now being used to access corporate data and apps.

That’s according to a survey from Ovum, which points out that using tablets is changing the way people work.

The survey, conducted in the second quarter of this year, showed that 17.6 percent of people had been given tablets by their employers, compared to 12.5 percent in 2012.

And the number of personal tablet owners grew from 28.4 percent in 2012 to 44.5 percent in 2013, meaning that more personally owned tablets find their way into the workplace.

Richard Absalom, analyst at Ovum, said: “The primary route for tablets into the enterprise is through the consumer/employee channel. Over 66 percent of employees who personally own a tablet use them for work.”

Absalom said that employees use many different devices to get to corporate data and content – tablet or BYOD strategies should be put into that context. “Tablet deployments have the potential to change the way that businesses operate,” he said. “The primary challenge ofr the enterprise is to turn tablet usage into a genuinely transformative deployment.”

Internet of video things will be next really big thing

Internet of ThingsThe internet of things might have to be renamed the really big internet of video things. As names go it’s not as catchy but it reflects the reality that in a little more than four years from now, we will be outnumbered by video-enabled devices connected to the internet.

This is according to research from the Broadband Technology Intelligence service, which is part of IHS and is based in the US.

At present there are thought to be 4.3 billion video-enabled devices connected to the internet. This catch-all term of ‘video devices’ comprises things like tablets, smart TVs, games consoles, smartphones, connected set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, and PCs and the like.

By 2017 this will increase to 8.2 billion, more than the number of homo sapiens likely to be kicking about at the time.

In 2005, PCs accounted for 93% of all connected devices. By the end of 2017, PCs will comprise only 23 percent of the connected installed base. Smart TVs will be at 5%, consoles at 2%, and smartphones and tablets collectively representing 67%.

This proliferation will change the way people watch TV, movies, news and access many more services besides. It will introduce many of the same problems of disintermediation that has affected the mobile phone sector – customers’ loyalties lie not with the network they use, but the handset they bought, they detect little value in the network and price has been driven down.

Unsurprisingly, there will be modest growth in mature markets, 10% or so in North America and Western Europe, and double that in Asia-Pac, mostly down to increasing demand in China.

Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see an additional 145 million new connected video devices added to the total.

According to Merrick Kingston, a senior analyst at Broadband Technology: “On average every human being in the world will possess more than one Internet-connected video device by the year 2017 – a major milestone for the electronics market.”

And in so doing he demonstrates why it pays to be careful when playing with statistics, as clearly not everyone in the world will own on average 1.1 video devices.

Kingston goes on to clarify this point by saying: “In practice, ownership of Internet-connected hardware will be concentrated among users whose homes are equipped with broadband connections. We’re quickly approaching a world where the average broadband household contains 10 connected, video-enabled devices. This means that each TV set installed in a broadband-equipped home will be surrounded by three Internet-connected devices.”

A number which rings true in the home of this average hack.

Tesco in “unprecedented” Blinkbox promo pre tablet launch

tescoBritish supermarket giant Tesco may be showing off its rumoured own-brand tablet as early as next week, as it steps up the marketing drive of its content platform Blinkbox.

An invite sent out to UK press reads: “We’ve got something to show you. #LetsHudl.” Hudl, PCR-Online points out, was registered as a trademark earlier this year for use on a tablet device. The rumours so far suggest Tesco will be aiming for the cheap and cheerful market, with analysts telling us the company will use it to leverage its content service, Blinkbox – not dissimilar to Amazon’s approach with the Kindle Fire.

It’s expected the device will launch at around the £100 mark. Doing so would make it one of the cheapest ‘big’ brands on the British market. Whether buyers will flock to the brand is another question.

It’s expected Tesco will stuff the tablet with its own streaming services such as Blinkbox and Clubcard TV. Most think it will run on an unmodified version of Android.

According to PC Pro, which claims to have seen the specs, the Tesco tablet will sport two bog standard cameras, ship with GPS, Bluetooth, and the usual MEMS in an accelerometer and a gyroscope.

The device will reportedly feature a seven inch IPS panel at 1280×720, and under the bonnet will be a 1.6GHz quad core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB included storage and a slot for MicroSD.

If Tesco is indeed launching a tablet it’s a bold move by the retailer. Tesco recently announced it was to slash inventories of other electronics and focus on selling more traditional supermarket products.

Monday’s announcement will coincide with what Marketing Week calls a “nationwide in-store marketing blitz” for Blinkbox, including promotions across 500 stores offering discounts on drinks, snacks, DVDs, CDs, and videogames.

In tandem, Tesco plans a major radio, print, digital, outdoor ad, and “high profile” TV ad campaign to launch in October. Blinkbox’s marketing exec Kate Simon told MarketingWeek the scale of investment is “unprecedented”.

Blinkbox plans to differentiate itself from other streaming services such as Lovefilm, Netflix and Sky, touting, for example, its superior range of blockbuster films and TV shows compared to rivals.

Nvidia announces Tegra Note Android tab

nvidianoteNvidia has announced its very own Android tablet platform, the Tegra Note, readied by the company and brought to market by its partners.

Nvidia boasts that, rather than just providing a low cost and high quality build for Tegra 3, as with the Nexus 7, this is a “complete platform”. Partners include EVGA and PNY Technologies, Oysters, ZOTAC, Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Technology, and XOLO, which will be joining HP, Asus, Toshiba, Kobo and Xiomi in Tegra 4 products.

So far Nvidia is a little late on the tablet front. The company does have products out there but not as many as it likes.

Tegra Note, however, will sport a Tegra 4 72 core GeForce GPU and quadcore Cortex A15 CPU, with the promise of battery saving tech. The company boasts this will make the Tegra Note the “world’s fastest 7 inch tablet”. It will also ship with Nvidia’s DirectStylus tech which should give users more precise and responsive control with a normal stylus.

Nvidia PureAudio will ship, too, which the company says includes the “widest frequency range in a tablet” through front facing stereo speakers and a bass reflex port.

This product sounds like a solid release compared to the gaming curio, Nvidia Shield, an experiment in remote PC gaming – as long as you’re not too far away. Tegra Note will ship with TegraZone for exclusive Tegra optimised graphics, and the company claims you’ll get a massive 10 hours of HD video playback.

Additionally, a range of accessories will be available, including an intelligent cover with built in magnets, the DirectStylus Pro Pack, and Bluetooth capabilities that turn the tablet into a controller. Over the air software updates will be sent out by Nvidia directly to keep software patched and up to date.

Retail prices will start at $199, taking on other low-cost but high performance tablets in the market.

Intel becomes irrelevant

The mighty dinosaur IntelIt was formerly a chip giant but pretty soon now some archaeologist will uncover the bones of Chipzilla as the lumbering dinosaur nears the end of its existence.

At the Intel Developer Forum this year, Intel’s newly hatched CEO, Brian Krzanich, attempted to breathe new life into the diplodocus he tends by warbling on about healthcare and tablets. He must realise, of course, that to somewhat mix metaphors, Chipzilla has missed the boat.

The writing was on the wall for Intel some years ago but because the company is such a giant, the tiny brain wasn’t getting messages from its extremities that it was slowly dying.

It is a climate change in the egosystem that will spell the end for Intel because, in the marketing babble of the present age, its business model is clearly “unsustainable”.

Intel could only continue to churn out new processes and chips as long as it had a virtual monopoly in the market.  A new fab costs billions to produce and profit is predicated on the fact that it essentially controlled the market.

The giant appears to have missed the fact that handset manufacturers didn’t and don’t want to be locked into the same model as the PC industry.  Now, anyone with a smartphone or tablet is toting around an extremely sophisticated computer and no-one in their right minds wants to spend thousands on a PC unless they’re forced to.  As recent market research has shown, the days of PCs are pretty much numbered and, of course, like its evil twin Microsoft, Intel forgot about the mantra it used to chant, that mantra called convergence.

It will take a while for Intel to die because it is such a lumbering creature, but a model that requires billions to develop new processes simply based on PC sales just won’t work anymore. And if Intel thinks that tablets or smartphones will save its bacon, then it is living in cloud cuckoo land.

In some ways, we must lament the coming death of Chipzilla.  It had some fine people working for it and its process technology was next to none.  But greed and its virtual monopoly meant that it was viewing the world wearing blinkers and its own momentum and size prevented it from taking vital decisions.

Most CIOs coming round to BYOD

smartphones-genericMost CIOs are happy to let employees bring their own devices to work as the BYOD trend shows no sign of slowing.

IT departments were forced to adapt when personal devices frequently had better compute power and more utility than company-issued Blackberrys. At the same time, there was a challenge in securing devices to make sure sensitive data did not fly off company networks. But when a CEO is wondering why he or she can’t use their iPad at work, and a user’s laptop is better than the company box, it saves cash for the company and keeps employees happy as long as IT can secure the tech.

A report claims over three quarters – 76 percent – of CIOs now let employee devices into the workplace. Understandably, IT managers are concerned about security.

The top BYOD devices are laptops, followed by smartphones, memory sticks, tablets, external hard drives, and iPods.

Managing director of Robert Half Technology, which conducted the survey, Phil Sheridan, said there are a number of factors leading to BYOD’s growth. “Consumer friendly technologies prompt employees to rely on a certain level of productivity at work as they have at home,” Sheridan said. “Only 24 percent of IT directors in our survey said that they do not currently allow employee owned devices into the workplace, so the tide has clearly turned in favour of BYOD”.

It is, however, still necessary for companies to consider their BYOD strategy to prevent any embarrassing data SNAFUs.

Additionally, there can be financial costs in upgrading infrastructure to properly manage employee owned devices, or to provide training. However, almost a third of those surveyed did report cost savings by adopting BYOD policy.

“Although CIOs have security concerns when considering BYOD policies, their teams are best placed to implement the correct infrastructure to support extra devices in a safe environment and to understand the impact of extra devices and apps on the network,” Sheridan said.

Lenovo aims to topple HP by 2015

lenovo-logoLenovo has been going from strength to strength in recent months and now it has Hewlett Packard in its crosshairs. Lenovo believes there’s plenty of room for expansion in EMEA, in spite of Europe’s economic woes and Syria’s feeble attempts to become the Archduke Ferdinand of World War III.

Speaking at IFA 2013, Lenovo’s EMEA president Gianfranco Lanci said the company’s ultimate goal is to become number one in the region within the next 18 months. He added that there are still big growth opportunities on PCs and there’s still room to grow.

Meanwhile, HP is losing market share to Lenovo, while Lenovo has already overtaken Acer in EMEA. Lenovo’s PC business is doing surprisingly well at a time when many other PC vendors are faltering on all levels. In addition, Lenovo’s smartphone push is paying off nicely in Asia and next year it could bring its Android terracotta army to Europe and North America. Lenovo is also becoming a big name in Android tablets, but so far Android tablets have failed to match the success of their smartphone siblings.

“The investment needed in the smartphone and tablet businesses is much more than what you need in PCs – this is why we will see more consolidation,” Lanci said.

He argued that scale is necessary to successfully compete in the smartphone market and with skyrocketing phone shipments in China, Lenovo shouldn’t have much trouble with scale.

Lanci added that all three Lenovo divisions are making money, but the PC division is still generating higher margins as PCs don’t require nearly as much investment as smartphones and tablets. It may be interesting to note that Lenovo is making some rather interesting moves on the hybrid front as well. As hybrids and tablets converge, Lenovo will end up in a much better position than some competitors without a viable tablet/hybrid strategy. Provided all goes well, of course.

IDC sees gloom in tablet market

cheap-tabletsThe PC market has been coughing up phlegm for quite a while and for the last couple of years we’ve been told that tablet would wreck the PC market. This of course was rubbish, since tablets can only complement PCs, not replace them, and the real reasons behind the PC slump are a bit more complex.

Research from IDC has revealed that the tablet market is cooling down. The research firm cut its unit shipment forecast from 229.3 million units to 227.4 million units, which doesn’t sound like much, but it is a telltale sign that many got carried away in the tablet craze. However, although growth is slowing, tablet shipments this year will still be 57.7 percent above 2012 shipments. By 2017 IDC expects shipments to hit the 407 million mark. Mature markets are expected to cede market share to emerging markets over the next few years, namely the Asia Pacific region.

While mature markets such as North America and Western Europe have driven much of the tablet market’s growth to date, IDC expects shipment growth to begin to slow in these markets. The main culprits are market saturation, increased adoption of phablets and the eventual growth of wearable tech, which has yet to enter the fray.

“A lower than anticipated second quarter, hampered by a lack of major product announcements, means the second half of the year now becomes even more critical for a tablet market that has traditionally seen its highest shipment volume occur during the holiday season,” said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets. “We expect average selling prices to continue to compress as more mainstream vendors utilize low-cost components to better compete with the whitebox tablet vendors that continue to enjoy widespread traction in the market despite typically offering lower-quality products and poorer customer experiences.”

IDC research reveals another interesting trend, the rise of tablets in the commercial segment. Education projects have a lot to do with it, along with adoption in vertical markets such as retail. This segment will slowly double from 10 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2017. This might indicate that vendors will be forced to get creative and design more specialized tablets for businesses and schools.

Apple and Samsung lose ground on tablets

cheap-tabletsApple is losing ground on the tablet market, due to a drought of new products and more competition from the Android camp. However, Samsung is not capitalising on Apple’s woes and its sales are dropping as well.

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple sold just 14.6 million iPads last quarter, down 4.9 million from Q1. Its market share tumbled from 40.4 percent to 29.2 percent. Meanwhile its arch nemesis Samsung also suffered a hit. Its sales dropped by 700,000 units to 8.4 million units and its market share now stands at 8.4 percent.

Another report from Analysys claims that tablet sales in China aren’t growing nearly as rapidly as they did just a few months ago. Last quarter China gobbled up 3.58 million tablets, growing just 5.2 percent over the first quarter of 2013. Sales of Apple’s iPads were particularly hard hit, the research outfit reported.

Relative newcomers to the market like Acer, Lenovo, Sony and Dell are gaining ground. LG is gearing up to give tablets another go, following a dismal effort a couple of years ago. Then there are Chinese white-box tablets, heaps and heaps of them.

However, Cupertino’s troubles might be a thing of the past come Q4. The Church of Apple is widely expected to introduce new iPads as soon as next month and the hot iPad mini should get a Retina makeover. Apple’s current tablet offerings are showing signs of age and an update is overdue.

On the other hand, there’s really not that much hype this time around, iPads aren’t as fresh and cool as they used to be and getting people to upgrade from an iPad 3 or 4 won’t be as easy. They both have relatively speedy chips and a crisp high-resolution screen, so Apple will have to get creative, and it’s been faltering on that front for the last two or so years.

The iPad mini though desperately needs a sharper screen and a faster processor and a new high-res model should do very well indeed.