Archive for the 'Analysis & Commentary' Category
Tim Cook told Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco that, ”Innovation is strong as ever and in the DNA of the company.” This from a company that has been playing catch-up and suing it’s competitors for the past two years other than really innovating. Noting that the smartphones and tablets are the backbone of Apple’s cash cow Cook underlined its “experience” is the true force of Apple’s innovation. ”Apple has skills in software, hardware and services. The model that grew the PC industry where companies specialized. That model is not working for what consumers want today,” said Cook. “Consumers want this elegant experience.” Why service definitely helps pack Apple Stores and customers snap up shiny new products, it’s not the only thing that keeps them buying. No, true innovation keeps them coming.
Apple brought itself into a new era, and market, with the iPod. It innovated a product that the founder of the MP3 player, Rio, couldn’t manage. Then again Apple innovated a product that was birthed elsewhere and took away the smartphone market from Palm. Lastly, it showed Microsoft, the company that first brought the tablet to us in 2001, how to really innovate.
So now Apple has over $100 billion in the bank, packed stores, and enjoys the majority market share for tablets, smartphones (hardware), and even still for audio players. But all those numbers are slipping and show little sign of reversing. Sure, Cook can tell worried investors that the market is just increasing in size and it still has a larger chunk than it originally had, but those are excuses, not innovation. Instead of showing the world anything of great significance in the last three years, we simply hear how great Apple is and nothing more. No talk of the future. No talk of pushing the envelope. No talk other than a nice shined marketing speech.
Apple’s last true innovation was the release of the iPad in 2010. That’s three years ago and in that time, the Android Army has been hard at work chipping away at Apple’s market dominance and even forcing Apple into a product it bad-mouthed later that year. Steve Jobs famously told investors, “7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. ….7-Inch tablets are dead on arrival.” Dead, huh? As not to further damn his himself, Jobs went on to state, “While one could increase the resolution to make up some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of their present size. Apple has done expensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff.” Last I saw in the Apple Store, the iPad mini does not come with sandpaper. No, Jobs didn’t understand that the market actually DOES know what it wants sometimes – another famous saying Jobs liked to quip – and Apple’s own Eddie Cue urged Jobs to his death bed to let Apple make a 7″-ish tablet. Clearly, innovation was ignored, bad-mouthed, and fought before it was it acknowledged. Of course, in classic Apple style, it was quick to point out that the iPad mini isn’t really a 7″ tablet and it has “features” that improve the experience of an Android tablet. Please…
Moving on, let’s look at the iPhone now. Again, a truly innovative product when introduced, Apple seemed to slow down the gears of innovation and trickled out features year by year. Even though 3G was active in nearly half of AT&T’s network, Apple waited until the second generation to release a phone that supported the faster data speeds. Outside of that, the iPhone 3G had little more to offer than a new look. The camera still sucked, battery life was still dismal, and the OS had little advancement.
Apple continued this little-by-little strategy with each release all the way to the iPhone 5. Instead of caving into the larger screen that has pushed sales of the Samsung Galaxy S III to a market leader and the talk of the town, Apple stretched the screen and chimed about how it was still easily used one-handily. That, was its innovation. Apple’s previous yearly trickle of innovation was Siri. Siri, the voice-to-text software, was an application in the App Store for about a year that gained much attention when it first was released. Quickly scooped up by Apple and re-established as an integrated aspect of the operating system, Siri was reborn an Apple innovation. No, excuse me, as a beta. Now as we near two years – in beta – Siri is nothing more than a feature to ask it silly questions and become extremely irritated at its inability to send a text message that is even 40% accurate or – heck – even finish your sentence as it often just gives up leaving a partial text output. In the meantime, Google released it’s Google Now app for the iPhone with stunningly quick and accurate speech-to-text. No, it’s not beta, either.
I could go on about how iLife, once considered a stunning collection of multimedia applications for the Mac, hasn’t even been touched in over three years and languishes away or how its extremely expensive Thunderbolt technology two years later lacks a plethora of accessories. Financial analysts bonked Apple over the head on the market a few weeks ago after Apple produced its best quarter ever. Why? Analysts see little in the future to hold Apple up and the numbers are indicating this. Apple continues to be mute on future product and shows little innovation in the last three years. Sure, the Retina display has dawned screens across the board, Bluetooth 4 graced wireless devices, and a great camera in the phones. But it’s not enough when compared to the competitors. Instead of really kicking its competitors butt, Apple sues them. Real innovators respond with, “Top this!”
History shows that Apple is on a four-year cycle of innovation. The iPod, iPhone, and then iPad. That gives us about a year before the next big thing. Many think it’s a TV and I can see that. Apple’s true innovation is taking something that already exists and making it better. TV sales have declined and consumers aren’t fooled by bells-and-whistles such as 3-D. The networks are the issue for release just like the labels were for the iTunes Music Store. I feel Apple can overcome that opposition but without Jobs, it will be tougher.
What after the Apple TV television? I can’t imagine that the road map goes dry after that. I’m sure what ever it is, it’s already on the books and is being ironed out. But will anyone care by then? While the four years worked in the last decade, competitors and patent trolls have changed the landscape accelerating change. Apple has already shown with the last two iOS updates, iPad mini, and the iPhone 5 – to a point – that it does better at catching up than pushing the competition. If it doesn’t wish to become the next Sony – one of Steve Jobs’ biggest fears – then it needs to stop this madness of its delusional outlook on innovation and actually innovate again. Stop riding the gravy train and trickling out features. Apple had the money to demand LTE chips that are low power consuming a year before it finally hit the iPhone. Apple had the money to make Siri actually work…upon initial release. Apple has the money to force new technologies to market quicker than the other guy. Jobs pushed Corning for a glass iPhone when its own CEO said it couldn’t be done. Apple shoved a desktop operating system into a handheld device while others said it couldn’t be done. Apple can do it. If it wants. Right now, it looks like it just wants to pats its own back. Ask Sony how that’s working, Tim.
So here we are, post-iPhone 5 announcement and guess what? Nothing envelope pushing. In fact, nothing even surprising. Every leak was true. Every one! While Jony Ives called the iPhone 5 a “complete redesign” (I’m sorry, did his head get stretched, too?), on the contrary, it’s mostly catch-up with whom Apple just sued (hint, hint, Samsung). In perfect Apple style, with Steve Jobs Smoke and Mirrors, Tim Cook and crew made yesterdays technology look freaking amazingly new!
“The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.”
So states Apple’s web site when you go looking for the details on the 6th iPhone called the iPhone 5. Shaving off some body fat to give it a leaner and lighter feel, the diamond cut shell consists of the two-tone color scheme seen in early prototype images dating years back from the Apple vs. Samsung case as well as reminding one of the first the iPhone. The screen is stretched up – not out – to add an extra row of icons and to give you a true 16×9 image for movies. Storage hasn’t changed in years but the price remains the same. Nice. Oh yes, the camera has a new cover. Oooh! Ya, it’s still the same otherwise. The front camera is at least 1.2 megapixels and can capture 720p video. So last years Android.
Ya, so let’s talk about the Android factor. So while Cupertino’s tech magicians attempt to use their slight of hand to pawn off the iPhone 5 has “the most amazing thing” they’ve ever done, how does it compare to let’s say Samsung Galaxy S III? That front camera? Well, double Apple’s and you’ll then pass its court rival. The screen? The Galaxy S III has 1,280 x 720 versus Apple’s amazing 1,136 x 640. Yes, Apple’s is smaller and it’s 20 ppi better Retina display isn’t that big of a deal. The Galaxy is a wee bit heavier but it’s not even by an ounce. Tell me you can feel that? Earlier benchmarks show the iPhone barely running faster than the months old Galaxy. NFC? Are you kidding? Phil Schiller says Passbook is way better! Screw NFC!
The iPhone 5 does not even support simultaneous voice and data on Verizon and Sprint networks that AT&T has been doing for four generations now. Don’t worry, though, the Samsung Galaxy S III does support this feature on LTE networks such as Verizon’s due to some true engineering know-how. But don’t sweat it people, remember, this is “The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.” Now that I think of it, wasn’t there a handful of 3G phones available when the original iPhone with EDGE (2.5G) released? Sorry, got distracted.
The truth is, the iPhone 5 is all catch-up and nothing revolutionary. I wouldn’t even call it evolutionary. This is the exact issue Apple had with the Macintosh back in the 80s when it rocked the computer world with a truly stunning computer. Apple seriously put personal into the personal computer. But like Apple letting Microsoft along with IBM steal its thunder and push the envelope with Windows and the PC while it kept trying to tell the world, “Hey, look at how cool we are!”, Apple once again is repeating history with doing nothing and calling it something. Last weeks keynote was the first in over a decade that had no surprises and was – if you’re honest with yourself – a let down. Everything the iPhone 5 is the Android market has had in Motorola, HTC, and Samsung for months if not over a year in the case of LTE. Even when Ford put on a new skin to the Fox body Mustang in the 80s, everyone in the automotive world still knew it was still the crapy old 70s car with some new hardware. That’s what this is iPhone is, a third re-iteration of a tired design with a new engine under the hood.
So how do you sell 2 million iPhone 5s in just one day of pre-orders? And that’s the million dollar question. One thing Apple does still have down is sex appeal and that’s what its products produce. Even though there’s only a new coat of paint on a stretched out canvas, it’s still cool looking and all the hip people will have one. Additionally, to give credit to Apple, it’s operating system is still more refined, stable, and polished than the fragmented and heavily customized interface per vendor offering from Google. Buyers also know that all iPhones from the last few years will get a brand new update all on the same day unlike the guessing game over in the Android camp. But note my words, this will be the last time Apple will enjoy such sales as it will the iPhone 5. Google is snapping up companies left and right to tighten the noose on Apple and as soon Android is able to get sway over iPhone users over with some migration plan away from the Apple halo as well as tighten up the Android operating system, we will be calling Google the new Microsoft and Apple the, well, the same Apple of the 90s once again. Learn from your past Apple and push the envelope all the time or be doomed to repeat it.
As we inch just hours toward the next iPhone announcement, we now have a few more leaks that may point us to five new products to be announced. Here’s the list:
- iPhone “5″
- iTunes 11
- iPod touch
- 9-pin Dock Connector called “Lightning” internally OR iPod nano
- “Earpod” earphones
The Dock Connector could be stretching the five products, but why can’t I if Apple is stretching the next iPhone screen?
My final prediction before the Apple’s announcement Wednesday is that it will not be called the iPhone 5, iPhone 4SS, or any other varient other than the new iPhone. Simply, it will be called, iPhone. Now before you label me insane and an idiot, just take a read of what I have to write about this name and why Apple is slowly changing the smartphone market once again like it did when it entered the phone industry.
If you read my article “Why The iPhone 5 Won’t Be the Last One to Look Like the iPhone 4″ (read it!), then you’ll understand the first part of this equation of bringing the PC era into the smartphone era. Slowing down the form factor change to a more reasonable time table as seen in the computer industry, Apple is not content with just changing the look of its phones every four years or so like it does with its current line of desktop and laptops. No, it desires a uniform convention for all of its products. Look closely and you’ll only find the iPhone with a model number. iMacs? Nope. MacBook Airs? Not there. MacBook Pros? Negative. Mac minis? Uh-uh. Well what about the Apple TV? Not on your life. What about all the iPods and its variants? Ixnay on the model-say. Oh wait, the iPad!! Aaah, now we’re getting closer but Apple axed the model name with the most current release; hence, the altered graphic here.
Folks, along with the iPad ditching the number 3 for it’s third release, I see Apple executing the same with the iPhone. Many were a bit perplexed - even stunned for some – that Apple was not going to call its newest tablet the iPad 3. Sure, everyone still calls the new iPad the iPad 3 (I’ve even overheard Apple Store employees in Sacramento refer to it as such,) but that will be long forgotten in a couple of years when the fifth-generation iPad is released. It will simply be the iPad with fifth-generation only stated for differentiation and only then by geeks.
“But the iPhone is different. It’s a phone,” may be the next rebuttal. Yes, it is a phone but who cares? This is Apple. Apple does what Apple wants not what the market enjoys. Again, just look back to the iPad as proof that it doesn’t have to follow what Samsung, ASUS, or Motorola does. This is Apple.
For those that think the Cupertino company that once had Computers in its name isn’t big on change in the way it does things, may I remember you that the iPhone for its first three generations released in late June or Early July. The iPhone 4 was bumped a few months later to September all while the press said no it wouldn’t do it early on because of the iPod announcements and such during the same season. Whelp, guess Apple did.
No, as my final forecast for the next iPhone, I am pretty certain it will be the new iPhone. Too many indications point to it with the leaks of the same body design being the strongest evidence along side the iPad just being the iPad today. Sure, I could be wrong and completely be reading way too much into the subtleties of the last six months, I won’t deny that; however, my gut and years of observing Apple says that the biggest surprise Wednesday will be the name, not the product.
There has been much talk about how the leaked next iPhone stretched screen isn’t good enough. Proportionally larger is what the public wants and demands based on what I’ve read in comments to my other posts and from what I hear in conversation with others. But this is Apple whom boasts about how it does not care what the customer wants but gives them what they need. This would be such a moment.
Android has done an interesting job of expanding the original 3.5 inch screen of the iPhone to points of wondering if you’re placing a small paperback on your ear rather than a phone like seen with the Galaxy Note and Dell’s ill-fated stab with the Streak. Motorola, HTC, and Samsung seem to have a following with its larger phones where the screen grew both in length and width gaining kudos mostly from those using GPS and video apps. Bigger is better, right? Well, not in Steve Jobs eyes. He had discounted the larger screen in previous iPhone events calling them clunky and difficult to use with a single hand which I agree with in my experience of such phones. But longer. Mmm, Steve never bad mouthed longer.
Many sites have shown off what possibilities of a longer screen would be like most notably the extra row of icons. Interestingly enough, however, the bulk have neglected to show off movies. You know, true HD moves that are in the 16:9 ratio. Apple moved to this very ratio with its Cinema Displays years ago and wedged them into some of its laptops. Moving the iPhone into the same Hollywood neighborhood makes sense. So much so, one has to even question if the iPad mini will be a 16:9 ratio device. But let’s not get off topic with the iPad mini rumor and stick to the iPhone 4SS (second S for stretched) we have all come to love to hate in the last few months.
Investigating deeper, we have witnessed that Apple has proven content is king with iTunes and the App Store. Jobs was fierce in his pursuit to bring all of the major studios to then iTunes Music Store and broden Apple’s appeal. It has done so very well, and now that its hobby, in the form of a black hockey puck, is doing impressively wonderful, it makes absolute sense for Apple to press on with true HD presentation. Watching a movie or TV show or even a YouTube video for that matter without black bars but rather with a filled screen is what perfects the package. When the laptops and home displays were “stretched”, very little notice was made of this and life went on. In fact, the change was so benign that it has been forgotten by the majority of the tech press and thus why the parallel to the iPhone is missed.
Apple loves all things perfect. It ignores market requests for this reason and instead gives the world a no exceptions product. This doesn’t excuse Apple for making the next iPhone taller if the leaks are true or am I stating I like it. Apple through its fiber as knitted by Steve Jobs does things very differently than the rest of the tech world and this is merely another example of that. This iPhone most likely was the last phone Jobs had direct influence on and stretching it to improve the video experience from his point of view would make absolute sense. If all the early analysts predictions are correct that this will be the best selling iPhone ever, then this may be Steve Jobs’ swan song.
Leaks, leaks, and more leaks abound to what the next-generation iPhone will look and basically it looks like last years iPhone and the iPhone before that. Yes, essentially, the iPhone “5″ looks just like the iPhone 4 released in 2010 with a few minor changes. That will make it three full years with the same body design before another opportunity for a new look to appear in Apple Stores across the world. But the question is, will there be a completely redesigned phone by then at all?
Remember when Steve Jobs famously spoke of the end of the PC era in the last years of his life and yet? Well, we see many of the PC practices finding its way into the iPhone. I’ve already touched on how the last operating system, iOS 5, and this years pending iOS 6 has had little change in a my “Android Phones Blast Past iPhone But Still Lag in OS Updates” post other than catching up with the competition which is a tell-tale sign for what’s to come in the future. Apple historically loves to innovate with amazing new products such the Apple I and II, Macintosh, iPod, and iTunes, but then it leaves them to languish and ignores the great leap of advancement that the competition applies to its own copy of Apple’s original. Why do you think Apple went after Samsung so forcefully? Apple needs to protect it’s original concept since it gives the general consumer no other reason to ignore the competition.
Let’s look deeper at Apple’s adoption of PC, or Mac in its case, era cycles. When it released the Apple II, no one was up in arms when the II+ was released and looked identical to the original. Likewise when the IIe hit the streets nearly seven years after the first II, again, no outcry how the case still looked the same. The Macintosh that appeared on Super Bowl Sunday in 1984 looked the same as the Macintosh SE/30 six years later. The rest of the Classic Macintosh line continued along this way.
Remember when the iMac hit Macworld’s stage with Steve Jobs keynote in 1998? Now that was a change for the Macintosh. Heck, even it’s name was changed. But again, it wasn’t until January of 2002 did we see a fully newly dressed iMac and it would be another two-and-half years before the iMac G5 in its white shell and flatscreen coolness premiered.
I could recount the same slow process of change for the Mac Pro (which still has yet to even be updated with a single Thunderbolt port let alone get a true remake) that is so long in tooth that many believe it will simply just be discontinued. The Mac mini has also changed little since its introduction in 2005. Same story can be made for the laptop line as well.
Do you see a pattern here? It’s not in the manufacturing blood of the PC industry to make an entirely new fresh design every year – even for Apple. The iPhone was an entry into a completely new industry for the Cupertino computer company. It was forced to play the rapid design cycle of the phone industry in order to stay noticed. Now that Apple has established itself as the essential phone to have, it no longer feels to the need to radically change its image every two years. Indeed, it now is comfortable with transitioning the PC era to the smartphone era. Yes, I mean keeping the same “tired” look for years to come with only minor facial changes with most of the oomph coming from the engine bay like the auto industry has done for nearly a century. This is why the iPhone 4S was exactly the like the 4 sans the antenna band fix. This is why the iPhone 5 will be just like the 4S but just stretched out and some modifications to a port here and there. This is why the iPhone 6 will be just like its predecessor with changes to the CPU, memory, radio, battery, and other internal pieces. It most likely will not be until the iPhone 7 will we find any dramatics applied to the iPhones exterior.
Okay, so there’s the reason for Apple’s thinking, that is if I’m right about all this. Let’s just say I am for the sake of argument… and making me look good. Is there anything wrong with this approach? Well, no… I guess. Think about it. I’ve already pointed out that we’ve been more than happy with our desktops and laptops changing little year to year so why would we care about what goes in our pocket? Seriously, how much can you differ a rectangle? I can remember all the Nokia case replacements I had for my 3650 and 8260 that ranged from translucent to various shades of the rainbow to even built-in LEDs that would flash when the phone rang. But the case was still the same case in shape. While I could venture to my local mall and view the hundreds of variations of cases at one of the pads in the middle of the walk way between Rogers Jewelers and the Gap, I still had the same phone. Sure, I strived to change it in some way, but it is no more different than slapping a case on the iPhone today.
Let’s look at the reverse notion. During the turn of the century, we did indeed find companies such as Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Motorola, and Samsung looking to differentiate one model from the next year after year. It encouraged consumers to ditch their current phone for an entire new one putting money into the coffers of the company with the best design. Apple certainly responded to this pony race in the beginning with fashioned elegance. Today, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, and new comers like HTC continue to change the landscape often while frustrating iPhone users with the same old tired look of the iPhone 4 base. Chances are, these companies will continue pushing the design to new dimensions no matter what Apple ends up doing and that may pry money away from Apple. Maybe.
So, Apple looks to have taking the baton from the PC era and ran with the “keep it (the) same stupid” for design and work on the interads. Now as to iOS 5 and iOS 6 playing catch-up to Android, that’s a different story (see that link above), but Apple is in fact swimming upstream like a salmon ready to spawn when it comes to sticking with what “works”. And while I find it humorous to have one of the most incredible designers in the world on your payroll such as Jony Ives, I guess even he can’t come up with something cutting-edge every 24 moths. The question is, will this backfire or will it become the new standard in phone hardware design?
Steve Jobs was famous with folklore of terminating employees for leaking details or nuggets of forthcoming products and yelling at suppliers for slip-ups. He even would sick the San Mateo and San Francisco Police departments after those with Apple property. Apparently, a year later, those days are long gone.
Many wondered what changes would occur when Steve no longer ran the company and Apple’s ability to keep things under wraps seems to be the glaring delta. It all started with the iPhone 4S and the camera. If you remember, Sony’s own CEO Howard Stringer told the press first hand that the next iPhone would use high-end Sony optics. Earlier this year, the iPhone 5 rumors began with LTE confirmation from sources at Verizon and Sprint. Sure, this was a given, but just the same, it’s hard to imagine both carriers making comments so high up the food chain let alone even one of them in the era of Steve Jobs. In between iPad mini and Apple TV television chatter, word came that the screen was growing for the next-generation iPhone. If the word of a reliable source wasn’t good enough, well then, how about a picture? Sure enough, leaks slowly trickled in of a larger 4.0 inch screen. What made this tidbit interesting was that the screen didn’t grow proportionally like those on the easy to read Androids but it grew taller instead.
Soon after the screen images began appearing all over the web, more parts revealed themselves such as the nano-SIM card, ear-phone jack moved to the bottom of the iPhone, a new 9-pin connector, NFC (which now most feel it is not Near Field Communications), and bits-and-pieces of other items. The rear Unibody design also soon joined the front-face pictures reminding us of the two-tone rear of the first-generation iPhone. Even the announcement date of September 12th was dribbled out in late July which Apple confirmed that leak yesterday. The release of September 21st seems to be a sure bet at this point with so many exposés coming to life.
It appears that things have changed in Cupertino and the once Operations Manager Tim Cook doesn’t lay down the law of secrecy quite like his predecessor did. Sure, in years past, we’ve seen the iPhone 4 due to a drunk employee’s error at a bar, but look what wrath that brought Gizmodo. Other than that incident, rumors have always been regarded as that, rumors. Little stock has ever been placed into them and nearly every time, they are indeed wrong. It appears this time, it will all be spot on. I can only imagine that Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave and trying to claw his way out to eat Tim Cooks brain like a scene from Day of the Living Dead. Where Jobs labored insanely severe, Cook seems to have been taking no interest in keeping the next ho-hum iPhone under lock and key.
Maybe, just maybe, this all has been part of Cook’s plan and in fact these leaks are from Apple itself. Remember last years tear-drop iPhone casing we saw every where prior to the iPhone 4S which of course was completely unchanged on the exterior outside of the metal band? Other changes distributed on the Internet were likewise never to materialize. It’s very possible that this scenario could be what happens; however, this time, there just seems to be too many parts, too many sites with its own proof, and too many confirmations from reliable sources for this all to be an Apple planted hoax. But, I’ll still tip my hat to the notion that it is possible.
This time however, there seems there will be little surprise at next weeks announcement since this next iPhone looks little more than a Nexus catch-up more than an innovative device of the original iPhone. Heck, the design is now going to be three years old! It will be interesting to see how well Apple’s PR Machine can pat it’s own back on stage and make it sound like it really is new and cool. In less than a weeks time, we will see just how many of the iPhone leaks panned out and thus lead more credence to all the iPad mini rumors we keep hearing of as the age of the Steve Jobs Ultra-Secrecy Policy is no more at Apple.
I still marval over the frenzy Apple can generate over its iPhone even in light of the latest rumors that show pieces of a next-generation release that barely catches up with Android hardware that has been available for months…and even over a year in some cases. When Apple showed off iOS 5 last year at WWDC, it’s top ten list of improvements included four Android features, most notably the Notification Center. This year, iOS 6 showed off many Android attributes again and yet the media treated it like Apple re-invented the iPhone all over. Please.
The truth is, the next iPhone will be of little matter and those running the two phones from previous revs will have something that looks almost identical to the new one and all three will run the same operating system. Sure, the new one will support a key feature or two the older hardware will not have within the confines of its slate glass body, but still, they all will play in iOS 6 land.
Google released its follow up to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) called Jellybean recently and those devices that have it look filled with envelope-pushing technology. (Sorry iPhone users, you’ll have to wait for iOS 7 to get most of them.) The Nexus S is the model of which Google loves to show off its newest creation and it really does shine on the Samsung-made hardware. But interestingly enough, Samsung’s own recently release Galaxy S III runs the older 4.0 instead of 4.1. It’s puzzling since it’s not even a major release as to why the Galaxy is not in the same universe as its sister model. This seems to be one major problem of Android that Apple has no issues with. Why?
Android is much like Microsoft Windows. It’s an operating system freely given away (unlike Windows) to hardware vendors to slap it into its phone. Just like Windows, there are guidelines made for the hardware; however, manufacturers are free to offer a variety of features to differentiate themselves from the competition. This creates variations that requires engineers to make adoptions to the operating system, Android, to function on its device. This difference is known as “forking” in the industry. Because of this, Android updates generally fall behind in release once Google hands it over to the manufacturers. Sometimes, the new OS has made some changes that require heavy lifting to make it function on older hardware, even as old as a few months. So, it’s just easier to create a new device than spend more time getting an old one to run the new update.
Take a look at the Android landscape and you’ll find much of the hardware is not running Android 4.1. Heck, a lot isn’t even running 4.0. There are still Honeycomb devices in the wild and even older versions of Android elsewhere. But take a look at any iPhone made in the last three years – a lifetime in technology – and the vast majority are running iOS 5. Forking has prevented Android users in staying current let alone cutting edge. As seen with the Samsung Galaxy S III, just because you purchase a relatively new Android phone doesn’t mean you’ll be abe to run the newest operating system on it. This is one of the greatest drawbacks of Android and one reason I have stuck it out with the iPhone.
Google will tighten its code more and more and thus allow for easier upgrade paths for Android phones; however, as long as the alien software allows for heavy forking, you most likely will be stuck with your version of the operating system until your next hardware upgrade. It seems ironic for an operating system that Apple has been playing catch-up to for the last two, maybe even three, years that owners of the avant-garde Android will be passed up by the snail in just one short year.
Apple always seems to have something up its sleeve when it introduces new laptops, and the latest version of the Macbook Pro is no exception to the rule. The Retina Display has been making waves throughout the tech world, providing a high quality image despite how thin and light it is.
The latest Macbook Pro receives an upgrade to the Ivy Bridge processor. Intel's third generation i-Series processors are a common sight on many laptops and ultrabooks, so the Macbook is keeping in line with current hardware trends. Specifically, it ships with the 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM.
It runs two video cards, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M as the discrete video card, and the Intel HD 4000 as the onboard card. The Macbook Pro easily switches between the two cards as needed, saving battery life if the higher powered NVIDIA card is not needed at the time.
The laptop is loaded up with 8 gigs of RAM, OS X Lion 10.7.4, a 256 gig SSD, and the Intel HM77. Since the Macbook Pro is heavily drawing upon Air and ultrabook influences, Apple did decide to leave out an optical drive and Ethernet ports on this version of the Macbook Pro. That allows Mac to bring the area and weight of the computer down, although it does sacrifice higher internet speeds by relying solely on wireless.
The Retina Display
While the hardware upgrade and size decrease captures some attention, the real star of the Macbook Pro show is the Retina Display. The display goes up to a 2,880×1,800 resolution, much higher than any comparable Windows-based laptop. For graphic designers, animators, and other creative types who frequently use Apple products, this is a great addition to the line. While not everyone takes advantage of this level of quality, it's great to have available if necessary. Plus with all of the streaming video services available on cable internet, it makes for a great media watching device as well.
Apple has situated the Macbook Pro firmly between standard laptops and ultrabooks. While it's not an ultrabook in its own right, the focus on a thinner, lighter Macbook with a higher quality display sets it up against the ultrabook crowd. It does come with some sacrifices, as this Macbook Pro does not offer much in the way of user-upgradability: the battery and RAM are permanently attached to the computer. It is also quite expensive to replace the Retina Display, as the glass and display are physically fused together so the entire panel needs replacement. Wired's Kyle Wiens dissembled the Macbook Pro and said "The Retina MacBook is the least repairable laptop we’ve ever taken apart."
Apple does have another version of the Macbook Pro available that does not have these particular drawbacks. But the other Macbook Pro models also do not come with the Retina Display. Apple is continuing to work its way into the ultrabook market with the Retina Macbook–whether it's successful or not depends on consumer choices, and how well the draw of this $2,199 laptop will be when the rest of the ultrabook market is less expensive.
Steve Jobs declared the end of the PC era with the release of the iPad and In-Stat seems to agree with that. At least with its recent report. According to the NPD-based group, In-Stat shows projected sales of processors for tablets and smartphones to reach 1.9 billion annually by 2016. This is good news for chip maker ARM as it captures 73% of those chips sold. Intel, which gave netbook manufacturers the Atom CPU, seems to be lost in this growth while smartphone and tablet makers ignore Intel’s offering. A new era of dominance could be upon us and for the first time since the 70s, Intel could be feeling more like AMD as more and more mobile devices are snapped up by consumers.
Scottsdale, Ariz., March 28, 2012—The term “mobile processor” refers to a range of processors used in mobile CE devices, often referred to as applications processors and central processing units (CPUs). These highly flexible mobile processors are used in multifunction devices that combine computing, communications, entertainment, and/or productivity capabilities. Mobile devices include e-readers, handheld game consoles (HGCs), mobile PCs, portable media players (PMPs), smartphones, and tablets. New NPD In-Stat (www.in-stat.com) research, reports that the growth of mobile processors in 2011 exceeded 43% and is forecast to grow at a 22% CAGR through 2016.
“Although the total available market for mobile processors continues to grow, the emergence of industry leaders in the high-growth mobile device segment is becoming a key factor in the success of processor vendors,” says Jim McGregor, Chief Technology Strategist. “Just having a captive smartphone and tablet market has propelled Apple into second place for the entire mobile processor market just behind industry leader Intel. In 2012, Apple will likely capture the top spot, in terms of unit shipments, driven by the success of its iPhone and iPad. Other companies that benefitted greatly from new product releases or dominance by their OEM customers included Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Samsung.”
Key research findings include:
For all mobile devices, ARM is the dominant processor architecture with over 73% of all units shipped and is growing.
Intel’s dominance continues in mobile PCs, while Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung claim the top spots in other CE devices.
Smartphones and tablets represent the greatest opportunity for growth with a combined 75% growth in 2011 and 29.3% CAGR expected through 2016.
In-Stat anticipates consolidation in the mobile processor market beginning in the 2013/2014 timeframe.
The release of Windows 8 later this year will be a pivotal point in the competition between the ARM and x86 processor architectures.
New In-Stat research, Mobile Processor Architectures, Devices, and Market Shares, Q4’11 (#IN1204993SI), examines the vendors, markets, and issues surrounding the mobile processor market. As the first in a quarterly series of reports on mobile processors and mobile graphics, the mobile processor report provides in-depth analysis on key issues in the market as well as unit forecasts:
Quarterly shipment forecast by mobile processor vendor
Quarterly shipment forecast by application: mobile PCs, PMPs, HGCs, e-readers, tablets, smartphones
Quarterly shipment forecast by processor architecture, including ARM, MIPS, and x86
Analysis of key issues potentially impacting the market, including the battle between ARM and x86, the pending release of Windows 8, the make vs. buy decision, differentiation and integration, the growth of the low-cost segments, industry consolidation, technology adoption and migration, manufacturing, and legal issues
Five-year outlook for the market
Processor and vendor profiles for Amlogic, Anyka, AMD, Apple, Broadcom, Freescale Semiconductor, HiSilicon, Ingenic Semiconductor, Intel, Marvell Technology Group, MediaTek, NuFront, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Renesas Mobile, Rockchip, Samsung, Shanghai Jade Tech, Spreadtrum, ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, VIA Technologies, Vimicro, and ZiiLABS
This research is part of In-Stat’s Mobile Technology service, which provides analysis of the market for technologies, IP, and semiconductors that enable next-generation mobile devices, including processors, graphics, modems, GPS, displays, memory, storage, operating systems, software, and human interfaces.
About NPD In-Stat
NPD In-Stat’s market intelligence combines technical, market and end-user research and database models to analyze the Mobile Internet and Digital Entertainment ecosystems. Insights are derived from a deep understanding of technology impacts, nearly 30 years of history in research and consulting, and direct relationships with leading players in each of our core markets. NPD In-Stat provides its research through reports, annual subscriptions, consulting and advisory services to inform critical decisions. Technology vendors, equipment manufacturers, service providers and media companies worldwide rely on NPD In-Stat to support critical business, product and technology decisions. For more information, visit www.in-stat.com.
About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, contact us or visit www.npd.com and www.npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter at @npdtech and @npdgroup.