Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Apple's Profit Margins and Changing Mobile Storage Needs On iOS Devices

Everyone knows that when Apple increase the GB storage on the iPad with a $100 increase does not really mean that Apple's memory cost also double.  If anything, Apple is making more money when an user buys a 32 GB model of the iPad or iPhone over the 16 GB models.  And users are happy to fork over to Apple $100 for the 32 GB, $200 more for the 64 GB model, and $300 more for the 128 GB version.  I did with the iPad Air.

There are a couple of implications for Apple and mobile computing.  Both speaks volumes about where we are headed.

First, Apple's margins should increase for this quarter.  Why is this important to a blog only about state of Apple mobile?  It says that Apple is skating to where the puck is going to be and not where its at now.  So far, we don't see any competing devices at the 128 GB end and only a few mobile devices with 64 GB.  The Surface tablets have about the same amount of storage in name as the iPads but because of the bloated state of the Windows OS, much of that storage is unable to the end users.

Second, people are willing to pay more for value.  And users like myself like to be able to carry more media and apps with us when possible.  Heck, I would have bought a 256 GB iPad Air had there been one.

If you check around, you'll find that people are buying into the higher storage iPads.  Particularly evident is lack of 64 and 128 GB models available on a consistent basis for sale at the Apple stores and in other retailers.

And consider the whole mobile plan that Apple is cooking up, including the preemptive move to a 64-bit chip architecture with the A7 chip, it means iOS devices will be able to do more and faster with each upgrade.  That would also mean that users will require more storage for media and apps.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Apple Bought PrimeSense, Tech Behind Microsoft's Kinect - Now, What?

Source:  PrimeSenseReuters.

Today, the Web exploded with news that Apple bought PrimeSense, the company that develops 3D sensing technology for systems including mobile.  And it happens to be the company behind Microsoft's Xbox Kinect.

So, what happens now and when will see something come to fruition from this buyout?


Look beyond just the Xbox at who PrimeSense's partners are and you see why Apple showed interest in the company and decide to bring it into the fold.

  • Microsoft, again. 
  • Robotic companies like iRobot.  
  • 3D scanners that could become a bigger deal with 3D printing.  
  • Asus with computers.
  • Real world physical activities.
Only Apple knows what it will do with this new buy.  It's unlikely Apple will just introduce a Kinect clone.  Apple does make and released products for the sake of doing it.  Apple has found an unique and identifiable use for PS technology, whether in its current line of products or new ones, that can benefit its customers.  

It's likely going to be used in something Apple has in the works for some time.  The integration of 3D sensing technology from PrimeSense could take some more doing.  Apple probably has already gone pretty far with this.  It's likely we can see something new in 2014 with this.  I'm possibly being optimistic but, hey, it's Apple we're talking about here.




PS already has 3D sensors small enough to fit inside a mobile device like a phone or tablet.

iPhone With Curved Screen: How Much Sense Does It Make?

Source:  On Android.

First there was the Nexus S.  Now the LG Flex. Samsung also has its own device but there isn't anything new about it - if you want to know, it's called the Round.  You can head over to The Verge for more info.  Between the two, I think the Flex's top-bottom curve makes more sense than the Round's side-to-side curvature.

However, this is talk that Apple is interested in developing its own curved-screen iPhone.  It's a rumor and while I don't like to dish rumors here, for the sake of speculation, we will here.

Let's suppose the rumors about Apple releasing a curved iPhone is true, it'll be interesting to see what real world advantages of curved screens has over traditional screens that Apple can develop. What kind of real world applications a curved iPhone might have over competing devices from the Android world.

I've mentioned that reduced glare might be a possible advantage but there would need to be more for Apple to move on it.  And Apple never released a product with new technology for the sake of doing it.

Word is that special sensors could be in the works.  If true, that would make the rumors, and that's all they are, rumors, make more sense.

Today on a Sunday, the mobile world exploded that Apple bought a 3D sensor company.  Initial reports are that the company, PrimeSense, focused on 3D sensing for the living room as well as mobile (Reuters).

For speculation sake, let's sake Apple needs something from PrimeSense for more than the living room.  Say it has to do with the curved screen design.  Wouldn't that be spectacular?

Must Read: Paid Firms To Stack Against Apple May Have Short Term Effect But Long Term Could Still Go Apple's Way

Here's a must read Appleinsider post regarding just how analytical firms that sell themselves to the highest bidders to stack statistics their way.  What's interesting is a quote within one firm's, Strategy Analytics, client page that one of its missions is to "influencing consumer behavior and buying preferences".

Time and time again, we've noticed that firms refuse to recognize Apple's growing dominance in the tablet market with the iPad and the influence its had on the PC market.  Time and time again, firms refuse to acknowledge the change in the mobile computing market in a shift away from PC towards more lighter and nimbler tablets, at the time, was only the iPad that sold in any number.

The question is does Apple mobile fans care?  Probably not.  Only a subset of this group really care about these reports or keep scores.  For the general mobile market, those who are more educated about the differences between tablets, iPad versus others, know what they want and whether they want to be a part of Apple's iTunes, iOS, and mobile ecosystem.  A wider portion of the market care nothing at all about iTunes or Play or anyone else.  For them, it's about the price.

The point though is that Apple owns a large segment of the mobile market, both PC and tablet, of those willing to invest in the mobile life.  This is part of the market are willing to spend more on their devices and not only download apps but buy apps as well.  This is why though Google's Android has overtaken Apple in terms of downloads but Apple is still king when it comes to app store monetization.  This is why Apple likes to brag about how much Apple has paid out to developers.

And while the public may not know or care in general, constantly hearing how Mac sales are slowing or that Android tablet shipments have outran the iPad could definitely have an adverse influence on Apple.

It's possible that the tide could turn in market and profit share against Apple.  But I think any setback is temporary.  Just like in the smartphone market, the iPhone has had to deal with $100 or $200 Android devices (and now, cheap Windows Phones too) for years since its introduction in 2007.  But in the US market now, sales of iPhone is beginning to turn around and in about a year, could overtake Android.

Note that Appleinsider is a rumor site and very pro-Apple.  I have found that while it is pro-Apple, it isn't in the realm of Fox News if you get what I mean.  It's very insightful and doesn't go places or twist facts too much to make its argument.  Still, you have to decide for yourself about this particular post.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Social: Power of A People, Social Media, And Kindness Helps Kid Battling Leukemia Save Gotham

Source:  Make A Wish FoundationBusiness InsiderPolitico.

Great news, folks.  Gotham City is once again safe.  Thanks to not Batman (he had a small part in it).  Not one of the various Robins.  Not Nightwing.  Nope, not Superman either.  Or the JLA.  It's Batkid!!!

batkid san francisco

That's right!  Thanks to Make A Wish Foundation, more than 10K fellow Americans, and thousands if not millions of us on social media cheering him on, Batkid, aka Miles, roamed through Gotham (San Francisco) to save its citizens from evildoers.

What's more, many are cheering him on via social media like Twitter.  Tweets from famous folks, politicans (some of them I like Batkid to deal with, and even the President of the United States.


This has got to be one of the best stories of 2013.  It's just so heart-warming to see what Americans can do even for a 5-year old when we work together.

And Miles, continue the good fight.  We're all pulling and with you!

Also, never once did the Make A Wish Foundation expect their website to crash.  And only the Batkid could do that!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cloud/Product Rollout: Beta Or Staggarded Roll Out Versus US Government

It's safe to say that the federal government's rollout of the health insurance exchange has not gone well.  In fact, it's pretty dismal.  At the same time, they're hardly to be blamed for this.  Remember all those cloud services that Apple tried to unveil that didn't work? MobileMe, the early days of iCloud?

I'm sure you can think of a few other examples of how things didn't work out well for private companies. And the health exchange is probably many times more complex.  This is why I don't get why Washington thought it could make it work from day one.

Where was the beta testing with real people participation?  Google's Gmail has been in beta for years and I'm sure there are a few other apps that are still in beta?

The health insurance exchange debacle is a very valuable lesson for government officials and entrepreneurs.  This reminds me of Google+ unveiling.  You needed an invitation to sign up.  And it was done over time probably to give Google time to scale properly.

In fact, a few mobile apps that I've signed up for had this system where you can sign up for service you had to wait until the app developers had scaled enough to accommodate more users.  One app in particular was Mailbox from Orchestra.  It took about a week between me signing up for service and when I could actually use the app but it was worth it because it worked seamlessly.

President Obama spoke today about the frustration regarding the ACA roll out.  I think he should have added that the exchange was a beta process and it could be a while before it's up and running properly.  Word is that Google engineers have been tasked to help out.  I think that helps but should have done that from day one.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Zune I Get But Windows Phone 7: This Blows. Microsoft Ends Support for Video

Source: The Verge.

If you bought Xbox video, and you use Windows Phone 7 or Zune, you're going to be able to continue using it until Feb of 2014.  After that, nada.

Microsoft gave some crap about how they improved on the video and offerings.  Translation:  if you wanna keep using Xbox content, get a new Windows Phone device, preferrably the Lumia which Microsoft effectively own.

Zune?  I get that.  But Windows Phone 7.  Not so much.  It's still pretty new.  It's the OS that has been delayed over and over until Microsoft managed to ship it against some already entrenched smartphone heavyweights.  It, along with Blackberry, had owned the mobile market.  One theory I've got on why Microsoft is chucking WP7 now.  There were not many takers to begin with.  Kinda like Zune I guess.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apple Promises More Advanced Features for iWork

Source:  TC.

Apple got some blow-back from some quarters regarding the new iWork, you know, the office suite that they made free to everyone (almost everyone).  And while it was not surprising that in order to make iWork seem seamlessly across the two plaetforms, iOS and OS X, Apple would have to strip out some of the more advanced features in the previous versions.

However, it did hit a nerve for some folks.

This reminded me of when Apple released the new Final Cut Pro a couple of years ago that not only stripped out a lot of features pro users came to rely on but also made the projects incompatible between the new and older versions of the professional video editing app.  Eventually, many of the features did come back.

So, I expected the same thing to happen with iWork as well.  And Apple pre-announced what they would be (Apple).  Here are the key updates that will be coming in the next 6 months:


Pages

  • Customize toolbar 
  • Vertical ruler Improved alignment guides 
  • Improved object placement Import of cells with images 
  • Improved word counts 
  • Keyboard shortcuts for styles 
  • Manage pages and sections from the thumbnail view 

Numbers

  • Customize toolbar 
  • Improvements to zoom and window placement 
  • Multi-column and range sort 
  • Auto-complete text in cells 
  • Page headers and footers 
  • Improvements to AppleScript support 

Keynote

  • Customize toolbar 
  • Restoring old transitions and builds 
  • Improvements to presenter display 
  • mprovements to AppleScript support
The biggest outcry I've read is the loss of Applescript support.  It'll be interesting to see how this is implemented on iOS devices.  As far as I'm aware of, Applescript isn't supported on the iPhone or iPad.  

There are two things about this debacle.  First, it's manufactured.  By Apple screwing up and not communicating to the public about it and the media picking over something that that 90% of iWork users don't care about.  Second, it's been a while now with Tim Cook at the helm and Apple is just as bad at communicating this type of changes to users as they were under Steve Jobs.

That's gotta improve.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Blackberry: No Takers, Relegated To App Maker Role But Small Chance Of Keeping Hardware Future

Black Monday for Blackberry today. For both the company and its fans.  Apparently, things are so bad there that there are no real takers who believe the company can be turned around and reclaim even part of its former glory.  And that is sad.

And apparently, the patents that Blackberry own do not have the value which many believe should have.  It's surprising because Blackberry is a pioneer in messaging and a trailblazer in smartphones as far as most are concerned.

Today, the CEO of Blackberry, Thorsten Heins, was forced out and it received an injection of $1 billion in investment.  The details aren't that important here.  It's how the investors perceive today's announcement.  Blackberry has apparently taken itself off the market.  And it's uncertain what its turnaround plan is if there is one.  That's the scary part for investors. And this development certain does not inspire confidence among developers and consumers.

There is a possibly a sliver of hope for mobile fans who want Blackberry to stay in the mobile hardware game.  It's new interim CEO, John Chen, believes Blackberry has enough ingredients to continue innovating on the hardware front (http://crackberry.com/blackberry-has-no-plans-shut-down-handset-business).  While that could just be PR talk, I'm also very confident that Blackberry with the right guy at the top could mount some sort of a comeback.  While I don't know if Chen is the right guy or not, certainly the old regime has not produce the results the mobile market had hoped for despite its best efforts.

I think that Blackberry has to change the narrative and get people talk about the future in ways that isn't about its products fighting an uphill battle against mobile juggernauts.  When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he changed the narrative immediately by declaring the PC war over and it's on to the next phase.  Blackberry has to do the same.  It cannot possibly go up against Apple, Google, and Microsoft with a combined cash of around $250 billion.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

State of Mobile Stores: Google Leads In Downloads And Apple In Revenue

Source:  Game Industry.

There's a lot of competition between Apple and Google over the mobile war.  In some limited respect, they're also partners - they're partners in that Google pays Apple for being the default search engine in Safari.  Google has a set of very good apps on the iOS platform - some of the best and innovative apps I might add.  Still, Apple likes to brag about the many billions they've already paid developers.


Right now, Google has surpassed Apple in the number of downloads.  It's to be expected as Google's Android platform owns a greater portion of the mobile market.  It's unclear if this include the non-Google variants.  Google has 1.25 times more downloads than Apple

However, Apple still leads when it comes to monetizing the app market.  The GI post is a very interesting read if you're a mobile developer or a mobile enthusiast keeping scores.  The iOS platform generates 50% more revenue than Google Play.

What's interesting is the placement of China.  We know that the US market will lead in terms of download and monetization for the seeable future.  China has jumped to number two in the US downloads.  Given the size of the market, well, that's expected.  And it should get bigger for Apple when it includes China Mobile as one of its iPhone partners.  What's surprise is the monetization in China.  China jumped two spots to land on number 3.

What's surprise is where Google Play is the biggest.  Japan then followed by South Korea because Samsung and LG are among two of Google's biggest Android partners.  One thing is missing for Play, which is China as Google has no ground game there for its Android devices.

15" Macbook Pro (Late-2013): Gotta Love The Battery Life


This is the battery life from my new 15" Macbook Pro, less than a week old.  I finally decided to pull the trigger on this awesome work of computing wonder and retire my 11.6" Macbook Air from late-2010 which I bought in 2011.  The battery life was decent still but with the new Haswell chip and the increased in battery life to 8 hours of normal use, I think it was time for something new.

Plus, I had been spoiled with Retina displays on my iPhone and iPads, not to mention the Nexus 7 as well.

Even as I am writing this post, my batter life is still at 58% with about six hours to go.  I do a lot of writing so I find this to be pretty adequate right now.  Who knows what'll happen in three to four years where tech on the Macbook Pro will take us and how far.

I'll have more to say about the Macbook Pro, my Mac, when I get more time with it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What Would Former Blackberry Execs Use When Their Company No Longer Make Phones

We already know that Google CEO Eric Schmitz uses a Blackberry.  It's not really a scandal or anything because he seems likes the type on physical keypads and there are no Android device with physical keys that can compare to what Blackberry makes.  And we also know that in the Gates household, there are no iDevices.  I think for the Gates kids, its probably just Lumias and Surfaces.  The executives for these two respective companies, Google and Microsoft, have choices.


But what happens when Blackberry, in the midst of its bleakest of nights, gets sold off as it is currently trying hard to do, gets broken up and sold off as parts, and stops making Blackberry hardwares?  Right now, with the Playbook really going nowhere, and let's be honest, hardly anyone buying it even with a steep discount, it's dead.

So, what are Blackberry executives, current and former, and employees using as tablets?  Android?  Probably.  iPads?  Yeah, I think it's right up there.  Surface?  Sure, why not?  But maybe they're sticking with their laptops.

But you can pretty much be sure that most of them have smartphones - probably everyone is outfitted with a Blackberry device.  That will remain the case until Blackberry stops making hardware - which could really be any day now.

So, what will the executives and employees lucky or unlucky enough to be around with what's will be left of Blackberry use?  Android devices and iPhones are the top choices.  Heck, maybe even some Windows Phone devices from the Microsoft/Windows BYOD fifth column in Blacbkerry.

Even now, I wonder what the Blackberry founders, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, are using.  Have they defected?  And what will they use post-Blackberry?  Interesting to think about.

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...