Archive for iPad
Following the launch of the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s, the clamor for the next gen versions has already started to pick up pace. Now, rumors making the rounds are that Apple may have an early release of the iPhone 6 sometime around July 2014, instead of the usual September timeline that the Cupertino-based company usually has. Analysts at Mizuho Securities have stated Apple might advance its iPhone 6 launch schedule, basing its claim on the rise in activity among component suppliers based in Japan and China.
Apple is also reported to have assured a sapphire crystal glass manufacturer of profits by the middle of this year (the next iPhone is believed to come with a sapphire crystal display). However, some sources maintain that there is no reason to believe Apple will launch the iPhone 6 early. A September launch is perfect to approach the holiday season as the device will still be fresh enough to appeal to the holiday buyers; a launch in September will also allow Apple enough time to smooth out supply issues.
As for the device itself, the next iPhone is almost certain to offer an even bigger display to keep up with other smartphones of its genre. The current iPhone 5s sports a 4 inch display, which could be bumped up to 4.7 inches for the next version. An even bigger 5.5 inch version is also being speculated, though some believe Apple might carve out a separate niche for the bigger version instead of including it in its iPhone line-up. The phablet, or big screen segment, has already grown to sizeable proportions and Apple surely won’t want to miss out on having a contender there this time; Samsung’s iPhone, the Galaxy S5, sports a 5.1 inch display.
Display size apart, other areas where the iPhone 6 is sure to upgrade include a 64 bit A8 chip along with iOS 8, offering an enhanced smartphone experience. Apple is also expected to enhance the scope of the finger touch sensor in iPhone 6 to make it play a bigger role in its application for a more secure payment option and integration with more apps.
So far as the iPad Air 2 is concerned, experts believe it is expected to stick to its usual launch schedule of the fall of this year. In fact, analysts believe Apple might not launch a new version of the iPad Mini as well as the purported iPad Pro with 12.9 inch display to focus more on the iPad Air. Further, the iPad Air 2 could also have the touch ID sensor found on the current iPhone 5s, which no doubt will enhance its appeal even more.
Among everything else, Apple is also tipped to release the long awaited iWatch device this year. It’s another segment that has just started to boom and Apple surely will like to get in on it before it’s too late. Apple is already believed to have gotten interest from batteries from LG Chem. This is on top of earlier reports of Apple hiring fitness and other app developers to develop the iWatch.
Android tablets are out on top, beating Apple for the first time ever and by a comprehensive margin. Figures revealed by analysts Gartner show that Apple has had a 36 percent share of the tablet market in 2013, almost half that of the 62 percent share that Android has had for the same period. Android accounted for 121 million tablet sales in 2013, compared to 70 million iPads sold. In all, 195 million tablet devices were sold in 2013.
For Apple, the results were in spite of registering a growth over its 2012 sales where 61 million iPads were sold. That number translated to a 53 percent share of the tablet market. For the same period, Android accounted for 46 percent share of the tablet market, or 53 million tablets.
Apple can still take consolation from the fact that the iPad continues to be the single largest tablet brand, outselling others by a comfortable margin. Samsung came in second, having sold 37 million tablets to equal a 19 percent market share, a huge improvement over the 7 percent market it had in 2012. Asus made up the third slot, having sold more than 11 million tablets, which comes to 5.6 percent share. Surprisingly, Amazon, who started the affordable tablet race, managed to sell just about 9 million tablets in 2013. Its market share dropped to 4.8 percent from 6.6 percent in 2012, making it the only manufacturer among the top 5 to record negative growth rate.
As for reasons behind the rise of the Android tablet, it is the emergence of low cost entry level tablet options that appears to have done the trick. For the first time, consumers had a lot of affordable tablet devices to choose from. Fortunately for them, these tablets offered decent specs in spite of the relatively cheap price tag. In contrast, the iPad caters to the premium segment that makes it within the reach of a distinct class of consumers. However, the challenge before Android is to ensure the huge user base who has invested in an Android tablet gets to have an endearing user experience so that they remain within the Android fold.
Further, both Apple and Google will have to watch out for a resurgent Windows platform that has registered growth in 2013. Though still quite insignificant with 2.1 percent market share and 4 million tablet sales, it could make for a much better performance in 2014 on the back of rumors of a thoroughly improved Windows 9. Also, the emergence of improved low power chips have led to better acceptance of Windows tablet which is poised for a take off if Microsoft gets its act together in providing for an enhanced software experience over Windows 8.1.
It is time we bid adieu to the iPad 2. The second gen iPad that was launched in March 2011 was kept alive to tempt those who preferred a cheaper alternative to the more current models. However, with it being priced the same as the iPad Mini, Apple it seems is finally contemplating giving the ageing model a final bow. The iPad 2 was available only in the base 16 GB Wi-Fi only version and is priced $399, the same as the starting iPad Mini version. However, with sales diminishing – only 5 percent iPad buyers opted for the iPad 2 during the last holiday season – it perhaps is the right time to retire the model once and for ever.
Nevertheless, it was really surprising the iPad 2 survived this long, three years since first launched which is quite a long when devices get antiquated in just a year. It has a user base of 38 percent even in the face of its more illustrious stable mates such as the iPad Air and iPad Mini. Also, the fact that it offered a low res display and an A5 chip did not deter buyers to opt for this model. Also, it was the first iPad model to come with a magnetic Smart Cover and was significantly lighter and thinner than the first gen iPad. Another first that can be associated with the iPad 2 is its incorporation of the face time camera that allowed users to make video calls with the device while also coming in the while color option on top of the traditional black.
However, now that users can have the iPad Mini with retina display for the same price as the iPad 2, there has been a marked decrease in demand for the latter, something that should be weighing heavily in the decision to brings the curtains down on the second gen iPad. Or maybe Apple could price it even lower and position it to take on the huge army of low cost Android tablets.
Of Microsoft’s Office productivity suite and its integration with the iOS platform, this perhaps has been a topic of discussion ever since the iPad had burst into the scene. However, we seem to be heading to something concrete on this finally, what with the latest on this coming from ZDNet claiming such a thing is being actively deliberated and it could be expected very soon.
The issue though is tricky for Microsoft considering the cash cow that the Office software suite has been for the Redmond based company over the years. Unleashing the same on competing platforms carries the risk of undermining Microsoft’s own Windows platform; that too at a time when the latter is having to re-position itself in a fast changing computing scenario. But then, having Microsoft Office suite on the iPad tablet range will also open up a huge market segment, which can also translate to another steady source of income.
“You’ll see us be thoughtful about how and when we bring what applications to what platforms,” said Tami Reller, vice president of marketing at Microsoft while speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. “We come at it from that angle, which is, ‘What businesses do we need to drive forward?’ That’s how we will make the decision.”
However, what is not known is how Microsoft is going to charge for using the Office suite though the Office 365 subscription model that Microsoft has introduced off late seems to be the best bet. Right now there is a free MS Office app that is available for the iPhone which allows for limited editing opportunity but none for the iPad. Also, what cannot be denied is that using MS Excel can be chore on the smaller display of the iPhone but can be much better when viewed on the larger displays of the iPad or even the proposed iPad Pro or the new crop of Samsung Pro series of tablets.
Contrary to the oft held belief that the iPad suits more for entertainment than anything else, the Apple tablet has topped the charts among tablets used in the enterprise scene. To put that in figures, the iPad has made up for 91.4 percent of all enterprise tablet activations in Q4, 2013, reveals enterprise software vendor Good Technology. Delving further into the pattern of iPad usage in the business scene, it is the financial sector that has emerged the single largest user of iPads, accounting for a comprehensive 46.8 percent of all activations. Next comes business and professional services sector that makes up 13.8 percent of iPad activations.
In contrast, Android makes up for a far less share of the enterprise scene with smartphones and tablet devices running the Google OS making up 26 percent of the segment. Not surprisingly, it is Samsung here leading the charge, making up for 56 percent of device usage, as per a survey by Fiberlink Communications. The company that deals with mobile device management (MDM) was recent acquired by IBM last November.
Meanwhile, the online ad and web analytics firm Chitika put forward that the Microsoft Surface tablets shone in the BYOD segment, drawn from the fact that the Surface tablets were used a lot during office hours.
“Surface users generate a slightly greater share of their total Web traffic during working hours as compared to iPad or Android tablet users,” the Chitika report said. “However, in terms of raw traffic volume, iPad and Android tablet users lead the pack at all hours of the day, and usage patterns among all tablets remain relatively similar overall.”
However, the report from Good Technology can be considered to be far from being comprehensive in that the company does not yet support Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 tablets. While the latter is known to have made some inroads in the enterprise sector, what is amply clear is that they are yet to make a big enough impact to unsettle the big two in the business, namely Google Android and Apple iOS. Further, the Good report is based on data from organizations that activated more than 5 devices during the fourth quarter.
Further, the Chitika report too can’t be considered to be comprehensive in that it is unable to differentiate between x86 based devices such as the Surface Pro or traditional desktops based on the same chip. Chitika report though can pick up Surface or Surface 2 devices running ARM chips. As such, the Chitika insight into Windows tablet usage can be considered to be fairly accurate in predicting the usage of Surface or Surface 2 devices.
Overall, we do have a rough picture of the iPad being the most popular device used in business with Android making up a distant second. Microsoft has shown mixed results in that it offers both ARM and x86 based devices to be used in the business segment. Also, now that we have seen quite a few Windows 8.1 devices being launched mostly during Q4, 2013, things could be a bit different a few months from now.
Apple might have made a killing during the holiday season so far as sales of iPhone and iPad devices are concerned. While official announcement is not expected before Jan 27, unofficial sources have already pegged the figure at an astounding 25 million. Of these 15 million is believed to have been contributed by iPhone and the rest by iPad devices. Both the figures apply to the holiday quarter and make for a 16 and 10 percent jump in sales of iPhone and iPad respectively.
However, while it has been easy to get at a fairly accurate estimate for the new iPhone 5s and 5c which had gone on sale around October, there could be some ambiguity over which iPad model went in for how many buys considering the latest iPad Air started shipping only from Nov 1. Further, the iPad Mini with Retina Display arrived even later, as it started shipping not before Nov 13, which means almost halfway through the holiday quarter. If that is not all, the second gen iPad Mini has been in short supply for most of the holiday quarter. Worth mentioning here, the above sales estimate for the iPad is based on data from 45 Apple analysts comprising of 28 from professionals and 17 amateurs. What this means is that there could some ambiguity which will be clear once Apple releases the official figures this coming Monday, Jan 27.
However, what is amply clear is that Apple has had one of the best holiday sales in recent times with both its iPhone and iPad devices trumping every other challenge over the respective segments.
The next tablet segment that has caught on the fancy of tablet makers is obviously those that offer 12+ inch of screen real estate. These are aimed at the enterprise users among others and Apple has been rumored for quite some time now to be fielding a contender in this emerging segment; more so after Samsung has already made the initial move here with the launch of the ‘Pro’ versions of its Galaxy Tab models.
However, as per a Digitimes report, the iPad Pro that will offer a 12.9 inch display is not expected to be ready for a market induction before Q3, 2014. Surely that would be quite late if Apple is indeed in a hurry to match Samsung’s move to launch a big screen tablet though the above timeline tallies well with the usual schedule during which Apple refreshes its product line up, which is during fall of every year. The complete lack of any parts leak or other evidence from parts manufacturers further bolsters our assumption of the intended launch period of the iPad Pro during Q3 this year. Research analysts DisplaySearch though is claiming that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with a Retina display having a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 265 ppi.
Meanwhile, there have also been reports of Apple considering a hybrid approach for the iPad Pro, one that will come with a detachable keypad unit. The keypad might even come with a separate battery unit to keep the huge display going for respectable amount of run times that successive generations of iPad has always been known for. Meanwhile, Digitimes is also claiming that Apple is into developing new iPad models in the 7.9 and 9.7 inch dimensions which will replace the current lineup.
However, while this can’t be ruled out, it’s the iPad pro models that no doubt will be evoking greater excitement. Let’s see how things pan out in the next couple of months.
In what can be considered as a boon to those who rely more on cross-platform apps and services, Google has made available another of its service, Google Play Movies and TV on iOS. This will enable users of the iPad and iPhone to play back movies and TV shows that they have bought from the Google Play Store.
However, while the above development can be considered to be one in the right direction, there still are a few issues to be wary of. These include the inability to playback movies when offline or on the go. This since the new app only supports streaming over a wi-fi connection and won’t sync to allow playback in offline mode. This no doubt can dent the prospect of the Google service against Apple’s own iTunes that allows both offline playback and video streaming while on the go. In addition, there also is the restriction of in app purchase which is understandable considering this would entitle Apple to seek a share of all sales made.
All these issues notwithstanding, the app looks almost the same as their Android counterpart. Further, the movies downloaded quickly enough while the quality too is top notch. In any case, the new app that enables Google Play Movies and TV Shows to be viewed on iOS devices can still be a boon to those who have invested considerably on Google Play Movies and related media ecosystem. For movie buffs, Apple’s own iTunes still steals a march over the Google service so far as iOS devices are concerned.
For the third time in three years, the digital-comics app Comics by comiXology was the top grossing non-game app for the iPad. This comes as no surprise, as it is often at the top of the charts on Wednesdays, when new comics are out. Rachel Edidin has a great piece about it on Wired’s Underwire blog, in which she interviews comiXology CEO David Steinberger.
ComiXology has truly been a game-changer: Not only is it the dominant digital comics app, it has actually been bringing new readers to comics, not just to digital but to print as well:
Of the 20 percent of ComiXology customers who bought their first comics online in the last quarter 2013, 64 percent have begun buying print comics as well.
That’s pretty impressive. ComiXology was founded in 2007 and launched the Comics app as an iPhone app in 2009. I spoke to Steinberger shortly after the launch, and he was pretty excited that comiXology could offer 100 comics, with 40 more in the queue, and that readers could buy them in-app rather than having each comic be a separate app, which had been the paradigm up till then. And from the very beginning, comiXology was promoting brick-and-mortar stores, with a built-in comic shop locator and an affiliate program. Also, at the time of the interview, the app cost 99 cents to download (being an early adopter, I paid for it) and it was the top selling book app in the iTunes Store.
Not even five years later, comiXology has a library of over 45,000 comics from 75 different publishers, and they announced this week that they have downloaded over 6 billion pages of comics—4 billion pages in the past year alone. That looks like exponential growth, but it’s interesting that they have switched from the number of comics, which is what they usually talk about, to pages: In September they announced that they had reached 200 million downloads. But maybe they just thought 6 billion was a more impressive number.
Whatever. The fact is that just a couple of years ago the single-issue comics market was looking dire. ComiXology has managed to not only sell a lot of comics but also bring more readers into (or back to) comics, thus growing the overall market, print as well as digital, and they have also promoted independent and emerging creators via their ComiXology Submit program. That’s not a bad set of accomplishments to rack up in less than five years.
With 2013 drawing to a close, it’s that time of the year to look back at how the tech scene has fared. With special emphasis on the personal computing segment and tablet devices in particular, the iPad has emerged as the most used tablet, outselling every other brand by a comfortable margin. However, while this can be expected, what has come as a surprise is the rise in sales of Chromebooks that has now outstripped that of the MacBook Air by five to one.
The iPad accounted for 15.8 percent of all personal computing device sales, which can be a good measure of the clout that Apple wields in the tablet segment. That figure is far more than any single brand of tablet sold on the planet while being almost twice that of its competitors. Android and Windows account for 8.7 and 2.2 percent of the tablet segment, respectively. However, what should still be worrying Apple is that both Android and Windows have registered more than a two fold increase in sales of tablet devices compared to a year ago (respective sales of Windows and Android tablets have been 0.8 and 4.2 percent in 2012). In comparison, iPad sales declined 1.3 percent from the 17.1 percent sales that Apple tablet had registered in 2012.
However, what should be pinching Apple even more is the emergence of Chromebook, that has risen from virtual obscurity to the limelight in just about a year’s time. Chromebooks have gone on to register sales of 1.76 million, which represents a 22.72 percent jump over the 400,000 Chromebooks sold in 2012. With its portion now 21 percent of the entire notebook segment is worrisome enough for both Apple and Microsoft, with the latter even more precariously poised in the fast changing computing landscape. While Apple can take some solace from the sale of its iPad devices, Microsoft is yet to establish a firm foothold in the tablet and smartphone segment while its traditional forte, that of desktops and notebook/laptops, is fast eroding.
With Chromebooks, Google has a winning formula that neither Apple nor Microsoft can match. Chromebooks run on Chrome, a web based OS which like Android is devoid of license fees, which helps drive down price. Further, with the Chrome OS being web based, the entire focus is on online apps, which again nullifies the need for the device to have high end specs, another cost saving option for the manufacturers. All in all, the Chromebooks present a win-win situation for both consumers and manufacturers, which has just added another layer of concern to traditional players such as Apple and Microsoft.
Rumors of Apple working on a bigger iPad variant have been doing the rounds for quite some time now. However, there seems something substantive on this front taking place with new reports pointing out a 12.9 inch sized iPad could be ready by October 2014. Along with this, Digitimes is also claiming the said iPad variant will go on to replace the 11 inch MacBook Pro. To what extent the last bit makes sense is debatable considering a small sized ultrabook caters for a completely different segment than a device that is purely tablet in its execution and functionality while also being entirely dependent on touch based input even if it offers a bigger display.
The Digitimes report also has mention of the big-screened iPad that is being put together by Quanta Computers to be aimed primarily at the educational segment in North America. However, usage of the said device in the enterprise segment can’t be ruled out either and this could be a tacit ploy on part of Apple to break into a segment that is traditionally dominated by Microsoft. Also, with Microsoft finding the going a bit tough with its latest Windows version, this also makes it just the right moment to have bigger screened version of the best-selling iPad ready for the enterprise segment as well.
Meanwhile, its not the iPad alone that would be seen growing bigger to make it appeal to newer emerging segment as the same also seems to be applicable to the iPhone as well. A bigger iPhone variant that was also rumored to be under development could be ready by May 2014. This would allow Apple to field a competitor in the rapidly emerging phablet segment, which for a change will make the California company playing second fiddle to its arch rival Samsung. The latter’s Galaxy Note 3 is ruling the roost in this segment, with sales averaging at 5 million devices a month. Apple is also reported to have landed up a deal with TSMC for supplying the chips based on 20nm processor manufacturing technique to power the bigger iPhone variants.
However, with the launch dates for the bigger versions of both the iPad and iPhone quite some months away, it won’t be surprising to see plenty more rumors and speculations to crop up in between. Meanwhile, Samsung too is rumored to be testing bigger screened versions of its Galaxy Tab range, one that comes with 12 – 13 inch display.
New research by Frost & Sullivan in New Zealand has revealed tablet devices to be lagging smartphones in the country. It’s just 26 percent of the population in New Zealand in the age group 15 to 65 years that currently owns a tablet device, compared to 64 percent owning a smartphone in the same age group. Taken from another perspective, about 42 percent household in the country have a minimum of one tablet owner. However, tablet devices are expected to make it big in the country in the coming years, predicted as it is to reach market penetration of 78 percent by 2018 from a rather modest 44 percent in 2013. While the above should be a sweet piece of news for tablet manufacturers, it does seem to be particularly so for Apple which is expected to see demand for its iPad device shrink in the face of rising competition from the affordable range of Android tablets. Analysts predict the iPad to end up with about 40 percent of the market to itself from the current 59 percent by 2018.
As for the pattern of tablet usage, consumers responded they preferred using the device the most during evening at home, for watching TV as well as in bed before going to sleep. However, not many are keen to read newspaper articles on their tablet, with about 62 percent tablet users having read an article in a month’s time. However, senior research manager, Australia and New Zealand ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, Phil Harpur believes the new age mobile connected devices such as smartphones and tablet do have the potential to unsettle print media in about a decades time.
The US Apple App Store has crossed one important milestone, that of playing host to over a million live apps for the first time ever. The above feat has been achieved in around five years’ time since the app store first came into being in July 2008. Apple had announced its worldwide app store has made it past the million approved app mark almost a year ago though back then; it’s about 700k apps that were live. Now with over a million live apps, the number of approved apps now stands at a staggering 14 million. Of the more than million apps now live, more than half of these are specific to the iPad while around 900k app apply to the iPhone. In comparison, the Google Play Store now has 881k live apps of the 1.17 million that has been approved.
However, there has been no official statement issued highlighting the above feat. This is surprising as this is the kind of news that anyone will like to go around town trumpeting such an achievement. It was the app discovery site Appsfire that first spotted such a development, something that has been confirmed by Macrumors own app discovery site AppShopper which lists the number of apps available for download being 1,006,557.