Technology companies are slowly making it more difficult to move between platforms and this is bad for usersRead More
Phones are getting so expensive that users are going to have to prioritize which devices they buy in the future.Read More
Technology companies and cellular carriers have a tense relationship. Each party is dependant on the other for survival. But what if an electronics manufacturer became a cellular carrier? In a report published by Business Insider's James Cook, Apple might be aiming to do just that.
Sources close to Apple say the company is privately trialling an MVNO service in the US but is also in talks with telecoms companies in Europe about bringing the service there too.
An MVNO is a virtual carrier network that sees technology companies lease space from established carriers and sell it to customers directly.
So if Apple is leasing equipment from other cellular carriers, how does this change things? Well, in this scenario the customer would pay Apple for all monthly cellular charges. Apple can also switch between carriers using its own custom SIM in order to provide the best network service. The report claims that Apple probably won't be able to launch such a service for another five years.
Apple is also testing a service that would allow Siri to answer calls instead of a pre-recorded voicemail message. Siri would be able to transcribe voicemail so users could read it as a text, which is more efficient than sifting through multiple audio messages. This "iCloud Voicemail" service could also tell the caller where the user is and why he/she cannot pick up the phone. It's possible this service will launch sometime in 2016 with the release of iOS 10.
It's not a secret that smartphone makers want to move into the cellular business and cut out the middlemen that are the carriers. Google has already began such an endeavour with its Project Fi. It's quite possible that in the future, carriers will simply be building and maintaining the infrastructure behind the scenes, while more front facing companies like Apple and Google handle the contracts and customer relations.
Apple has denied the rumour that it is interested in creating its own MVNO.
There are many companies in the space we broadly refer to as "The Internet of Things" (IoT). But the IoT is fragmented and there is little interoperability between platforms. Getting developers to dedicate time to a specific platform is very important, so who is winning over developers in the IoT race? Apparently Apple and Google, according to Matt Asay writing for Read Write.
As I've written, to flourish the Internet of Things market needs millions of developers by 2020. Fortunately, the market is actively minting new developers each day, with the global Internet of Things developer population set to top 4.5 million by 2020:
Asay notes that many of these IoT developers are from the Asia-Pacific region, but these developers still identify as "mobile developers." Google and Apple will soon change that.
As VisionMobile Q1 2015 Developer Economics survey data reveals, 53% of mobile developers are already actively working on Internet of Things projects. The top two markets within the field are smart homes (37% of relevant developers are working in this area) and wearables (35%).
The number of developers getting paid to work on IoT projects also matters. Most IoT developers work on hobby projects (30%) or side projects (20%). These developers are more likely to become full-time IoT developers if they can work on platforms that don't require them to learn an abundance of new skills.
In the IoT space, Apple now has many platforms including HomeKit and Apple Watch. Google has Nest and Android Wear. Both companies offer platforms that are similar to their existing mobile platforms. So, the company with the most IoT developers is at an advantage, and right now that's Apple and Google.
First Google tried Glass, and then the search giant entered the wrist wearable - or smartwatch - market. The failure of Glass to catch on as a mainstream product is really a result of social norms (and technological panic) having not caught up with the technology. People already wear devices on their bodies, whether they be watches for fitness trackers.
AndroidWear had a bright future, since it worked in conjunction with one of the most successful operating systems of all time. Android. But according to Brian P. Rubin, writing for ReadWrite, Google’s hardware partners might be moving away from the smartwatch platform. HTC is rumoured to ship its own smartwatch devices and OS, Samsung uses Tizen for most of its wearables, and LG will be using webOS for future wearable devices. What is going on?!
Rubin argues this strategy will backfire. It’s clear that electronics manufactuers aspire to the Apple model of owning both the software and the hardware, rather than be a device maker for an operating system company.
Apple has been so successful for so long that its control-everything strategy has become a siren song to other hardware manufacturers. But there’s a reason that there’s only one Apple: It’s very, very hard to simultaneously earn top marks in hardware and software design.
Rubin backs his claim by arguing that, so far, AndroidWear manufactuers haven't created compelling devices.
The Gear Live and its Tizen cousins, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, all feature proprietary watch bands you can't replace and bulky watch bodies that really stand out ... just not in a good way. The most recent Samsung-made smartwatch, the Tizen-based Gear S, is a curved monstrosity that takes the worst design trends of the last few years and throws them all together.
Same for both of LG’s Android Wear devices, the G Watch and the more popular G Watch R—they’re big and clunky. Even the most successful Android Wear device, Motorola’s Moto 360, suffered from poor battery life, attributed to its aged chipset. With the software side of things already taken care of, how did these hardware makers still fail to deliver?
Make sure to check out the full article in the source below.
The iPad and iPhone have both been extremely popular devices in enterprise and education, and Apple's most recent changes are directed at those markets. Recently it made changes to its Device Enrolment Program, Volume Purchase Program, and Apple ID for Student Service, and provided new reference guides to provide help for the mass purchase of apps and pushing out large numbers of iOS devices to users, according to Tech Crunch.
Historically, Windows has been more popular in enterprise because of its better remote installation and configuration support. Apple seems to be closing the gap.
Both the enterprise and education programs now have support for Mobile Device Management hands-free configuration. This ‘zero touch’ setup has been a long-requested feature for many pros, as it eliminates the need to cable up every deployed device and install a profile via Apple’s Configurator utility.
IT departments can order pre-configured devices directly from Apple, manage them remotely, and lock down devices so end users are unable to remove or alter the profiles. Such a strategy reduces the burden to IT departments during device deployment and reduces the possibility that user will muck up the device settings. In fact, users' own devices can be conformed to any given system with a simple opt-in option.
Mobile device management (MDM) was allegedly a problem for schools, specifically the Los Angeles School District. The school system's iPad program was followed by a highly publicized hacking scandal. The iPads had to be recalled when "students were found deleting the enrolment profiles on their devices" - thereby allowing them to browse the internet freely and install unapproved apps.
Apple has also made changes to its Apple ID system by implementing IDs for students under 13 years of age.
These IDs will let younger students receive apps or textbooks purchased for them, use iTunes U, and sync content via iCloud, but they come with a number of limitations not enforced for standard Apple IDs. Students will not be able to change their account settings to alter their e-mail address or date of birth, an iCloud Mail account is not created for the student by default, the Limit Ad Tracking feature is enabled by default, students won't be able to opt-in to receive marketing messages from Apple, no credit card is required to use the account, and parents are automatically notified any time the terms of service change.
Apple's changes are timely, since many enterprises (especially those in the Fortune 500) and education institutions are interested in rolling out mobile devices to their users. Apple's iPad (and iPhone) have been pretty dominant as alternatives to Windows-based PCs, but Google's Chromebook platform has been catching up. Android devices are also an allure due to their lower price tag. Tools that facilitate easy deployment and allow for customizability from the user-end, without wrecking profile settings, will no doubt be very attractive to companies and schools.
Patent trials between the two tech giants Apple and Samsung never end it seems. In the latest retrial, a US jury ruled that Samsung owed Apple "$290,456,793 in additional damages for patent infringement, slightly less than the $380 million Apple had requested," according to CNET. This brings the totally amount owed by Samsung to about $930 million.
Samsung responded following the trail...
"While we move forward with our post-trial motions and appeals, we will continue to innovate with groundbreaking technologies and great products that are loved by our many customers all around the world," the Korean company said in a statement.
What is most interesting, is that the judge instructed the jury to to determine how much money Apple should get for Samsung's infringement. Whether or not Samsung did in fact infringe was not at issue - as the jury was told that that fact was already settled during Apple's previous lawsuit with Samsung.
Apple arrived at the $380 million amount based on lost profits of about $114 million, Samsung's profits of about $231 million, and reasonable royalties of approximately $35 million. Apple estimates it would have sold 360,000 devices if Samsung hadn't released infringing rivals.
The case is highly controversial and many tech pundits have argued the case has hurt the reputation of both companies in the process. Make sure to check out CNET's full summary below.
News stories about Android's dominance in mobile never ends. In a Wired article, Marcus Wohlsen speculates that Android might be the MS DOS of our generation.
It's a bold statement to make, but he has some evidence to support his claim. Android has now surpassed 80 percent market share world-wide. In contrast, iOS sits at around 13 percent.
The triumph of Android would seem to vindicate Google's choice not to go head-to-head against Apple with its own proprietary mobile operating system and hardware. In retrospect, it was a no-brainer decision, owing to on very obvious precedent
Of course Wohlsen is talking about Microsoft and DOS, and later Windows. Back then, Apple, Commodore, Atari, and IBM were all players in the computer industry. Yet, Microsoft - a software company - won the race, by selling its operating system to everyone.
Google is a services-driven ad business that makes more money as more people use its services — and use them more often. By giving away an open source operating system that, among other things, helps hardware makers set lower prices, Google ensures maximum exposure to the maximum number of mobile users. Android gets users locked into Google, which lets Google show them more ads. In short, Google wins.
It's hard for Apple, which makes the vast majority of its money from hardware to compete at least in terms of market share. "Meticulously crafting" its hardware is part of Apple's image. Their design and service get people to lineup around the block for their products.
Now, most tech journalists, by touting Android's market share gains, reveal their inner Android fanboy. Wohlsen doesn't do this. Instead, he provides a very sobering analysis. He argues that Apple wins by continuing to keep its system closed. Opening up their platform and "compromising its design principles... would strip Apple of its core value proposition." He says Apple should keep being Apple.
If anything will hurt Apple, it will be price. Mass market pricing has been a winning strategy, and it's something that Microsoft can now accomplish in mobile now that it owns Nokia.
The next iteration of the iPad (and iPad Mini) is expected to be announced sometime at the end of this month. But what does this device represent? With the plethora of Android tablets being released - many of which are very well received - Apple must do more than rework the design and introduce new colors. It has to push the industry forward.
In a ZDNet article, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes argues that the iPad might have been the single greatest downfall to the PC industry, which has shrunk year-over-year. He quotes Chris Whitmore, from Deutsche Bank Equity Research, that the iPad will add more pressure to the PC market with its adoption in the corporate sphere.
We expect growing [desktop] virtualization and iPad deployments in the enterprise to pressure corporate PC sales through 2014-15," wrote Whitmore in a note. "We expect Apple's iPad refresh to include 64-bit architecture, which should enable a greater array of enterprise App development and facilitate greater enterprise penetration over time.
Despite Intel's new chips, Whitman isn't hopeful for PC sales.
In the near term, back to school PC demand appears relatively soft and recent new hardware releases (Haswell) had little impact spurring incremental demand. Furthermore, we believe the corporate upgrade cycle will peak in the [second-half] 2013 as corporates complete Windows 7 transitions ahead of Microsoft's ending support of Windows XP in early 2014.
The iPad will likely ship with the new 64-bit architecture, bringing it's capabilities (specifically RAM support) closer than ever to that of the PC. Hughes doesn't think the switch to 64-bit will make an appreciable difference in the short term, but in the long term it could put Apple ahead of its Android and Windows competitors.
"People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware."
-Alan KayRead More
An article in 9-5 Mac outlines Apple's iBeacon technology very comprehensively. In many ways, iBeacon is Apple's answer to its open standard equivalent NFC - the obvious difference being that Apple owns this core technology. Apple is taking advantage of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). It would allow customers to not only make contacts payments (as NFC can only be activated in extremely close proximity) but connect to the "internet of things" and get a much more personalized shopping experience.
The one-sentence summary is that you can think of iBeacon as like GPS for indoor locations, your phone able to pick up the iBeacon transmissions and work out where it is with a high degree of accuracy. You could, for example, drive into an iBeacon-equipped underground parking garage, park your car there and then have an iPhone app direct you back to your exact parking space when you’re done shopping...
Things get a step more interesting with personalised offers. If you’re a member of that store’s loyalty program, it could know what you usually buy there and offer a discount tailored specifically to your tastes. Or a department store might know you’re a gadget addict and alert you to the arrival of the latest new toy, the app offering to direct you through the store to the exact location of the gizmo. When you get there, it may offer to show you a video on your phone of the device in use.
The idea is that Bluetooth LE ties into Apple's existing technology/ecosystem better. In-store payments could be authorized via the new fingerprint reader or PIN code, wirelessly. Customers wouldn't even have to purchase their items at the register. The only barrier for Apple is adoption. 9-5 Mac explains that NFC is an established technology shipping in many devices. Is there room of an NFC competitor? Well Apple certainly has the cash to put behind the technology. If enough people own iOS devices, banks and retailers will have to adopt the technology due to demand.
Apple has one major advantage, however. The iPhone 4s to present, more recent iPod touches, and newer iPads all have Bluetooth LE built in. Apple planned this long in advance. NFC has been "expected" to be mainstream since 2010, but only now are devices shipping with this technology built in. In contrast, Apple can literally "flip a switch" and have 150 million iOS users using iBeacon.
As both 9-5 Mac and Tech Bytes have mentioned in the past, NFC vs iBeacon (or BT LE) is not unlike VHS vs Betamax.
People like to own their music, but they also like to stream it. Streaming services like Pandora, Google Music, and Spotify have grown in popularity over the years. It's a very engaging and efficient way to discover new music. Apple recently entered this space with the launch of its iTunes Radio service, which so far is only available in the United States (but will surely roll out world wide).
Since Apple's entrance into this space, Pandora Media Inc. has been suffering.
Pandora Media Inc. (P), the biggest Web radio service, fell 10 percent after Apple Inc. (AAPL)said it attracted more than 11 million unique listeners to its new iTunes Radio service. Pandora, with 72 million active listeners, slid to $24.26 at the close in New York. Shares of the Oakland, California-based company have more than doubled this year.
Apple has proven to be a very disruptive company upon entering new markets, as illustrated above. More than 200 million customers have downloaded iOS 7 since September 18, and approximately 9 million new iPhones have been sold (most of them over the weekend). That means a lot of automatic iTunes Radio customers.
It is for this reason that it will be difficult for the other companies to compete with Apple. None have an equivalent media ecosystem or partnerships. Apple already has an enormous customer base, and it's one of the largest internet media retailers in the world. Also, Apple has a distinct advantage since there is a purchase button beside every song - a feature that no doubt was request by the music companies.
As a society, we increasingly depend on our smartphones for payments, boarding passes, web browsing, and all forms of communication. However, much of the information we store on these devices is extremely private. Pass codes/phrases, patterns, and face unlock are not sufficient security measures.Read More
Business Insider claims that the smart watch market could be worth as much as 9 billion.
Smart watches have been a hot topic as of late, with the Apple iWatch and Samsung equivalents rumored to hit markets late this year and through 2014.
It's an interesting product category considering nobody is quite sure what the implementation will be like. Google Glass is arguably a more obvious form factor, as it functions like a suped-up Bluetooth headset (with an LCD display).
Will we be talking into our wrists soon, or will will these products just be clones of the Pebble Watch? Google just acquired WIMM, an Android based smart watch company. It shows that Google has not put all its chips on Glass, and might see a future in both form factors. Perhaps they are desperate to diversify because of the whole "Glassholes" term.
Apple will almost certainly announce a more affordable version of its popular iPhone, which is speculated to be the "5c." According to an article from Apps Gone Free, this might be bad news for Samsung, and push Apple to the number one handset maker.
A deal with China Mobile, the world's largest phone carrier (with over 400 million subscribers), combined with the 5c could gain Apple upwards of 20 percent more market share in China, bringing its total to 30 percent.
There are a lot of good arguments why Apple should release such a device. Its current handsets are too expensive for the developing world, which is where the majority is smartphone growth is occurring.
Take this chart with the smallest grain of salt possible. This is bound to start a comment war somewhere on the internet. A recent article from Business Insider suggest that iPhone buyers tend to be younger than Samsung suggests.
For some time Samsung has been mocking Apple in its television spots, suggesting that iPhones are for your parents; the cool kids have Galaxy phones. It's a great ad, but apparently not entirely true. Apple has actually more customers from the age brackets of 18-24 and 25-34 than Samsung. Their devices also attract (not surprisingly) more people from higher income brackets, as well as buyers with higher levels of education.
These statistics follow another recent report suggesting that there are considerably more smartphone owners switching from Samsung phones to iPhones - three times as many to be precise.
It might be that Samsung's "unstoppable" growth has been fueled by first-time smartphone buyers. While that's great for short-run profits, it may spell trouble for Samsung if they plan on retaining their customers. Apple is by far the leader in customer satisfaction, so it's possible they will start to regain market share, at least in the US.
With a probable release of September 10th, it's not surprising that Apple's iOS 7 has been a top story the past few weeks. Apple just released the sixth version of the iOS 7 beta to developers, and the Gold Master (GM) is almost certain to follow suit shortly. However, much of the hype surrounding the mobile OS has addressed the redesigned interface, color palette, and iconography. What is most interesting about iOS 7 might be its least reported feature - namely how it's targeted toward enterprise customers, and how it improves the overall user experience.
In a Venture Beat article (by J Schwan - founder and CEO of Solstice Mobile), there is mention of various system level features that would be appealing to enterprise customers. These include:
- device and data security: single sign on capabilities
- productivity, workflow, collaboration: air drop for sharing apps and content.
- contextual computing and M2M: iBeacon (low energy Bluetooth) for indoor navigation, device presence awareness, and "automated physical workflow tracking."
- scan to acquire Passbook passes: mobile coupons and digital passes.
Schwan goes into considerably more detail (so make sure to check out the source below). He also discusses some of the more notable UI features developers are excited about.
There is a lot for developers to take advantage of in iOS 7 — features such as TextKit, Multi-tasking, Auto-layout and UIDynamics. A critical part of analyzing iOS 7 organizational readiness is looking at how enterprises can leverage capabilities to improve the user experience. The introduction of iOS 7 should be a trigger point for brands to look at their own design features.
In addition to user interface (UI) improvements, Apple is introducing flat design, which puts more emphasis on content over aesthetics. By placing content at the forefront of the experience, users can focus on the information at hand. Developers will need to balance three key areas: deference, clarity and depth.
These areas include "deference" (making sure the UI doesn't take precedence or overshadow the content), "clarity" (using color to indicate touch targets rather than boarders and buttons), and "depth" (using layers to facilitate navigation and multitasking, and making sure users are aware of their location within an app).
The aesthetic changes are far more than superficial. They aim to get the OS out of the way, so to speak, and put content at the forefront. No longer will iOS prioritize form over function.
There has been a lot of talk, over the past year especially, about how Apple is being obliterated by the imminent Android takeover. Generally, these points are backed by the various global market share statistics which show Android approaching almost 80 percent. These points are valid, insofar that Apple has not kept to the same release cycle of Android. But, it is important to look at the bigger picture. Nobody should be declaring a "loser" at this point, since both platforms are very successful.
There is a good chance Apple will regain some of its lost market share, according to an article in Read Write Web, by Matt Asay. Despite Android's success, it's unlikely that it will "displace" the iPhone in the near future. Asay is careful to note market share doesn't equal profit share (as has been mentioned here before). Apple still maintains a very solid 33% percent profit margin, compared to its closest rival Samsung at 19%. To date, Apple still has approximately $150 billion in cash assets.
It also appears the "lock in" factor is much stronger among iPhone users. Only 1 percent of the 300 million plus wireless customers in the US switch to a different carrier. Furthermore, according to a Retrevo Analytics study, 81 percent iPhone owners plan to stay with Apple; contrast this with Android, where only 63 percent of users planned to stay with the platform, with 12% percent planning to switch to the iPhone.
Asay notes that despite all the great Android and Windows phones coming to the market, we're all still eager to wait for the next iPhone. Android tends to appeal more to first-time smartphone users, often for price reasons.
Based on these statistics, there's a possibility that Apple is far less vulnerable to Android market share than previously thought. In fact, in the long run, the iPhone might very well see a resurgence of market share.
Check out the full article in the source below
Ingrid Lunden of Tech Crunch writes that Flurry analytics has now reported that China now holds a quarter of the world's connected devices.
China now accounts for 24% of all of the connected devices in use worldwide, with 261,333,271 smartphones and tablets among them. Flurry released the data as part of a new report on smartphone usage in China, released today to coincide with a new deal with Renren Games, the online gaming distribution platform of the Chinese social network of the same name.
Perhaps most interesting is that gaming appears to have considerable app activity in China. According to Lunden, 56 percent of Android users game, while 47 percent of iOS users game. Furthermore, when looking at entertainment, Android held 20 percent and iOS held 30 percent. Though smartphone and tablet gaming has been a popular area of discussion in the US, it looks like Chinese consumers seem to be even more interested.
Figures from April 2013 found that consumers here only spent about 32% of app time in gaming apps, with 18% on Facebook. That still made gaming the most popular category, but far less so. Telling that social networking is only grabbing a couple of percentage points on time on either platform, too small to even get a breakout number in Flurry’s graphic.
Right now it seems to be a two horse race in China between Apple and Samsung. Samsung is the largest Android OEM (based on installs), but there are considerably more iPhones in the wild despite the disparity in market share - 65 percent for Android and 35 percent for iOS.
On a final note, Flurry pointed out the significant growth in the Chinese tablet market. 21 percent of iOS devices were iPads, while Android only accounted for 4 percent.