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New research by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has revealed Apple, Amazon, and Samsung are the key players in the US tablet market, controlling 43, 24,and 11 percent of the user base respectively. However, the market itself seems to be losing steam, with the slowdown being attributed to market saturation. The findings reveal tablet growth reached 37 percent, a 54 percent growth over 2012. A sizeable 53 percent of consumers stated they won’t buy a new tablet in 2014, while another 34 percent said they are yet to make up their minds. Nearly 67 percent of those who said they are unsure about buying a tablet claim to know very little about tablet devices. Thankfully for the manufacturers, tablet awareness as a whole is considerably higher in the US, with just 4 percent stating they’ve never heard of the devices.
Of the 53 percent who ruled out buying a tablet in the next 12 months, the majority (72 percent) said they are pleased with their current laptop or PC, while 42 percent said they aren’t attracted to tablet devices; another 31 percent said they don’t think owning a tablet makes much of a difference.
A common reason for many (47 percent of those who are unsure and 25 percent of those who said they won’t buy a tablet ) to not invest in a tablet was the high price, despite the fact that the average cost has dropped to $300.
As for particular brands, the iPad is on top with 32 percent claiming to use it daily. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note devices come in second with 24 percent claiming to use it every day. Kindle Fire makes up the third slot with 10 percent claiming to use it regularly.
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.
Samsung has launched two new smartwatch devices – Galaxy Gear 2 and Galaxy Gear 2 Neo that succeed the original Galaxy Gear, which was launched just five months ago. Also, as can be expected, both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo feature several enhancements over their predecessor though the biggest surprise here is the switchover from Android to Tizen to power the two devices. That apart, none of the devices break any new ground so far as the design is concerned though there sure are a lot of new features added to the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo devices.
Both are thinner and lighter than the original and continue to be compatible with only Samsung smartphone devices as of now. Coming to the tech bits, both come with a 1.63 inch super AMOLED display lit up by 320 x 320 pixels. Both are powered by a 1 Ghz dual core chip and come with 512 MB of Ram and 4 GB of storage. Another common aspect for the two Gear 2 versions is that they are compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 LE to connect to a smartphone.
Among a host of other features that both the Gear 2 version offer include infrared blaster which means the device can also be used as a remote control as well as a heart rate sensor which no doubt will appeal to the health conscious among us. The latter is designed to keep track of the heart rate during walking, running and so on with there being apps accompanying it to track cycling and hiking performance. Both the Gear versions also feature a distinctive home button as well.
However, the one aspect that sets the Gear 2 devices apart is the inclusion of a 2 megapixel camera for Gear 2 which also will be the pricier of the two. Further, the camera has been included within the main body and not on the strap as was the case on the original Gear. The camera is capable of shooting 1920 x 1080 pixel still shots or 720p video.
Among the apps that come pre-loaded on the Gear 2 and Gear 2 include notification, calendar, S Voice, stopwatch, a timer, weather forecasts, and media control. There are also add-ons for calculator, Samsung’s ChatON messaging service, voice memo, quick settings control, as well as an app that can make the smartwatch function as a flashlight as well. Among the third party apps available for the two Gear 2 versions include Banjo, CNN, Conde Nast, Expedia, eBay, Evernote, Feedly, GARMIN, Glympse, iControl, LINE, Path, Paypal, RUNTASTIC, Weather Channel, and Under Armour’s Map my Fitness. In addition, several carmakers such as BMW, GM, and Volkwagen too have developed apps for the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.
Water/Dust Proof, Battery:
Another likeable aspect of the Gear 2 variants – and which was missing with the original Gear – is that both are now water and dust proof. Further, with a 300mAh non-removeable battery under the hood (a downgrade over the 315mAh battery for Gear 1), Samsung is claiming run times extending up to 3 days under normal usage. This could extend to even 6 days under low usage though Samsung hasn’t specified what it meant by normal or low usage. The first gen Gear lacked on both counts as it was susceptible to damage from water seepage while the device required recharging at-lest once every day.
Meanwhile, pricing remains undeclared right now though Samsung has stated both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will go on sale from April.
Samsung has announced several of its smartphone and tablet devices will be joining the KitKat party beginning today. Unfortunately, there is still some question about when the update will happen for which particular devices, and it’s expected to be a few months before the update goes into effect for all devices. The tablet devices that will be getting the latest Android version include the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, Galaxy Note 10.1, all three size versions (7, 8, and 10.1 inch) of Galaxy Tab 3, and Galaxy Note 8.0.
The smartphones that will be getting Android KitKat include Note 3 and Note 2 devices, the entire Galaxy S4 line, Galaxy S3 (both the standard and mini versions), the Galaxy Mega 6.3, and Galaxy Light.
As for the benefit of the update, users can look forward to an enhanced messaging experience brought about by the new Hangout app, an enhanced UI with the introduction of new icons, and the usual performance upgrade. Google Mobile Service (GSM) apps get an upgrade in KitKat, which lets users automatically back up photos and videos. Users will also be able to open, view, rename, and share Google Docs and files after the upgrade.
Amazon purchased Liquavista from Samsung in 2013 and the intention behind the deal was to offer a new breed of color e-readers.There is active development at Amazon right now that will give us a six inch screen, with the same resolution as the existing Kindles, but with a full color screen. One of the big benefits of this screen technology is that it doesn’t draw much power. We might see a new Kindle by the end of the year with a Liquavista screen, according to recent job postings by Amazon.
Currently, Amazon is hiring for; Operations Program Manager (Asia based), Process Quality Engineer, Product Test Engineer, Process Development Engineer, Product Development Manager. These are obviously all senior level positions and the job descriptions mention working on multiple products at once. This leads me to believe that we will not likely see just one new Kindle this year adopting this technology, but a few. One interesting note is some of the positions entail working directly with the boys over at Lab126. This is the research and development arm of the company, who basically designed every single Kindle ever made.
It will be interesting to see what Amazon does with the e-reader space with this screen technology. Obviously, color e-ink did not live up to the hype, because it could only display about a thousand colors, which made everything look washed out. If you look at the prototype Kindle screen below, you can get a sense of how content would look on a six inch e-reader.
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.
Whether there have been enough takers for the Samsung Galaxy Round smartphone can be a topic of debate though it seems there is quite some clamor for the tablet version of the same. Now designer Jermaine Smit has come up with some interesting design concepts to whet out appetite that much more. To begin with, the tablets showcased differ from its smartphone brethren in it bending along the central horizontal mid-line, which is where it shares a similar design theme with the LG G2 Flex. In contrast, the Galaxy Round incorporates a design theme that bends along the vertical central line.
Further, the Galaxy Tab Round sports super thin bezels that are quite similar to what we have come to expect of smartphone devices. The tablet also comes with its own stand which bears some resemblance with the recently launched Lenovo Yoga tablet. Overall, it’s a whole new design concept that has been put forward, one that looks excellent and sleek. It’s quite unlike anything we have seen so far in the tablet sphere though before we start getting too excited, let’s be reminded all over again these are just conceptual designs and may not bear any direct or indirect resemblance with a tablet which again no one is sure Samsung is going to come out with.
Smit also seems to have an idea of what the internals of the tablet will be like. These include a Snapdragon 805 chip that works together with a 4 GB RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage. The tablet being shown here comes with a 2K 10.1 inch display. Further, the tablet will have a twin camera set up, with a 13 megapixel camera along the rear and a 3.2 megapixel unit along the front.
Meanwhile, there also is a video pasted below that will let us have a better idea of it.
Rumors of Samsung launching its Pro line of tablets during the Valentine’s weekend seem to be true after all. At least, an Office Depot listing where the tablet had made a brief appearance points to such a possibility. However, if that is a smile inducing piece of news for you, there is a nasty surprise in the waiting. For the tablet has been priced a cool $849.99 for the 64 GB version. This makes it the highest priced Android tablet so far, irrespective of the fact that no tablet from the Android realm priced so high has ever succeeded. Official availability of the device is pegged at Feb 13.
The tablet though boasts of some high end specifications as well as a stylus to justify its price tag. Powering the device will be a quad core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor mated to a 3 GB RAM and either 32 or 64 GB of internal memory. Providing the juice will be a 9500mAh battery though it will be interesting to know what the actual run times are like. Also, the tablet will be running the latest Android 4.4 KitKat with enough tweaks incorporated to allow for seamless integration of S Pen stylus functionality. These apart, the other aspect that endears the tablet is its light construction, which makes it fairly easy to hold it in one hand while using the other to operate the device. The expansive 12.2 inch of LCD lit up by 2560 X 1600 pixels also offers a rich and vibrant display.
Overall, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 may make for an excellent device for use by artists, academicians or in the enterprise scene though what remains to be seen is whether they are willing to splurge that much to actually own the device.
Samsung is reported to have initiated mass production of 8 and 10.5 inch AMOLED displays which have led analysts to believe the South Korean company might be prepping AMOLED display based tablet devices for a launch sometime in the near future. Further, with an event as big as the MWC, it would perhaps be safe to conclude we might be treated with working samples of the same during the event in February.
Samsung can be associated with AMOLED displays for long though that applies to smartphone devices only. Samsung also had a Galaxy Tab version, one with a 7.7 inch AMOLED display that did enthrall users with its brilliant display though unfortunately, it was among the Galaxy Tab versions that got banned as a fallout of the infamous court battle with Apple. However, there were no precedents ever since which was largely due to several technical difficulties in producing bigger AMOLED displays in sizeable numbers in a cost effective manner.
However, that seems to have been taken care of effectively now that rumors of 8 and 10 inch sized tablets with AMOLED displays have begun to take center stage as we approach the MWC. The prestigious event unfolds in Spain from 24 – 27 February.
Samsung is prepping a Galaxy Tab version to be used almost entirely for educational purpose. The announcement was made at the FEC 2014 event and will be aimed at students in the K12 level. The launch of the tablet is in line with the Google Play for Education program that so far includes the Nexus 7, ASUS Transformer Pad, and the HP Slate 8 Pro devices. The 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab will be the newest addition to the list and will be made available in April, that is before the 2014-15 academic year commences. The Samsung tablet will also be the second choice in the 10 inch category for students to consider, the other being the Transformer Pad.
However, with the device essentially being the Galaxy Tab 3, the biggest change will be with the software which has been tweaked enough to allow for a simple setup process and device management along with ease of ‘access to curated educational content, and other features to support dynamic, digital teaching and learning’, the press release revealed. Onboard will be the latest Android 4.4 KitKat version, something that regular users of the tablet too will be all too eager to have on their devices.
However, the company is yet to reveal the price of the tablet which will be made available only to schools and in bulk.
Companies are now releasing with their quarterly performance report cards, providing the industry with an insight of recent activity. Samsung released its figures, and the findings were a bit disappointing given the dip in profit reported. The South Asian giant announced profit of $7.8 billion for Q4 2013, which is a few notches below the $8.27 billion that the company secured during the same period a year ago.
Samsung defended the slightly lower profit margin, claiming much of that has to do with some “year-end inventory adjustments” that they had made. Other reasons have nothing to do with demand for its range of products, but involves an increase in the advertising budget and a $745 million special one-time bonus that it paid to its employees to celebrate 20 years of the new management initiatives the company adopted. To top these off, the company also had to deal with a stronger foreign currency, which affected exchange rates to the tune of a substantial $700 million.
The company reported brisk sales of its tablet devices with the new Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014). However, its mobile division has taken a beating with revenue going down nine percent during the last quarter. Samsung has already announced a slew of launches in the pipeline which they hope will help combat lower profits. Among the big ticket new releases expected in the new few months is a thoroughly refreshed Galaxy S5 smartphone as well as a new Galaxy Gear successor. Then there is the new Pro line of tablets, which means it could be just a matter of time before Samsung is back with an impressive run at the markets.
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.
As was expected, Samsung has announced its contender in the entry level budget tablet segment in the form of the Galaxy Tab Lite. The tablet features decent specs which suits its intended price range. This includes a 1.2 Ghz dual core chip, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage all packed beneath a 1024 X 600 pixel 7 inch display. There is a 2 megapixel rear camera (none at the front) as well as is a micro SD card slot. The tablet will be powered by a 3,600mAh battery which Samsung claims will be good enough for eight hours of video playback, and will be available in both 3G as well as Wi-Fi only versions.
Samsung has held back on the most crucial aspect of the tablet: it’s intended pricing. This could be vital following some recent tablet launches such as the Acer Tab 7, which sports similar specs and has been priced around $100.