What’s more, Cook told the audience he didn’t care if the iPad sales were eating into his desktop and laptop computer sales because the future market potential for tablets was so huge, it didn’t matter.
“The projection is that this is going to triple in four years – that’s 375 million, more than the number of PCs being sold around the world. The tablet is attracting people who have never owned a PC, and people who have owned [PCs] but it wasn’t great in the experience,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.
If you doubted the ascendancy of the tablet, these numbers illustrate that it’s happening right now probably faster than anyone believed it would. When I write about these types of changes, I get comments from old-school IT pros who scoff at the idea that a tablet could replace a PC. ‘You won’t someone using an iPad to design a car,’ they tell me.
And they’re probably right. Just because the tablet is overtaking the PC, it doesn’t mean that they are full out replacing every one. If HP sold 15 million PCs last quarter, surely that’s still a big number. But tablets have proven to be able to do a lot of tasks, we used to use PCs for or schlepped our laptops along.
And Apple isn’t alone in the market of course. Microsoft is trying its hand at the market, the same one where BlackBerry, HP and others have tried before and failed. Many believe Microsoft’s hybrid approach may be attractive to corporate workers, but the jury is still very much out on that one in spite of reports of selling out the Surface Pro upon release last week. Amazon is selling a fair number and there are a number of other Android tablet makers such as Samsung that appear to be doing doing quite well — to the extent we can know of course.
Cook was skeptical of projected market share numbers that get bandied about by various firms, and which supposedly show his company’s market share dropping under 50 percent. That’s because as he points out, his is the only company that’s actually announcing the number of units sold. But if you’re selling the kind of volume Apple is selling of these devices, you have to feel pretty good about your market position, regardless of what IDC, Gartner or Forrester has to say about it.
If Microsoft does sell 200 million units as a Forrester report projected recently, it could be at the expense of Apple, Google or Amazon or could be part of what appears to be an expanding tablet market where there is certainly room for more than one dominant player. I’ll go on record as saying I’m skeptical about the 200 million number — and I’ll believe it when I see it.
For now, whatever brand you prefer — and it’s entirely possible you have different tablets for different roles — it’s clear that the age of the tablet is here, and while the PC is not going extinct any time soon, its days of dominance might be behind us.
Cloud storage has gotten so ridiculously cheap, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t be using it.
We are in a golden age of cloud storage. We can buy unlimited backup on BitCasa for $99 a year or 10 GB for free. There’s also Dropbox and Sky Drive and Box and Google Drive and iCloud and Amazon — all offer a varying amount of free space and attractive pricing packages if you want more. There are so many options for such low prices, it boggles the mind.
You want local storage, you say? We can get a 2TB portable drive for around $100. .
Yet even with the low cost of local storage, we never seem to have enough do we? Whether we are an individual or an enterprise, we always seem to fill whatever capacity we have.
I have been buying computers for a long time and each time I’ve bought one, the hard drive had ever more capacity, and I would think — I’ll never fill up that much hard drive space — only to find I did. I’m sure many IT pros have thought the same thing with their storage arrays. There must be some kind of law like Moore’s Law around chip capacity that we will always fill whatever hard drive capacity we have.
That’s the beauty of the cloud. It’s like that old Jay Leno Dorito’s ad — “Don’t worry. We’ll make more. ” It will always scale for you. You don’t have to worry about it because the cloud provider does. I know personally I have at least half a dozen cloud storage accounts. My stuff is spread across the digital heavens because it’s so darn cheap.
Just this week, Bitcasa came out of Beta with a new storage product that provides unlimited storage for $99 a year. I find it hard to believe they can continue to offer unlimited storage for so little, but for now, that’s the price. What’s more, it has client-side encryption, so they have no idea what’s on there and claim there’s no way for them to know — even under threat of subpoena.
Even the most paranoid among us has to like that.
So sure at 2TB for $100 you could back up some stuff and have it locally where it can never be at the mercy of ‘The Man’ –whether the government or the service provider — but when you can get unlimited encrypted storage for $99 a year, that’s gotten to the point where it’s pretty darn hard to resist. And you can get your files anywhere from any device , as well as mark files for offline access if you know you’re not going to have a WiFi connection.
It’s the golden age of cloud storage. You would foolish not take advantage.
BlackBerry might have scored, but the game was over long ago. (c) Can Stock Photo
When BlackBerry released the BlackBerry 10 line of phones today, it reminded me very much of a basketball player who made a basket after buzzer had sounded, the competition was in the locker room and the stands were empty. Nice try, but it didn’t count.
First the good news. These appear to be really nice phones and VentureBeat reports they have lined up all the big names for apps including Skype, Facebook, Box, Evernote and Twitter. They even had the good sense to change the company from Research in Motion, a name that never made sense to me, and officially call the compnay BlackBerry. A name change was overdue, although they might have broken completely with the past and tried something new.
Today’s announcement involved two phones, the Q10 and Z10. The former is a more traditional flat-front glass smartphone without a hardware keyboard, The latter has the external hardware keyboard we are used to seeing on BlackBerry devices. These aren’t your father’s BlackBerry phones though. They are slick and beveled and actually pretty.
And the Z10′s Time Shift Mode feature is a huge differentiator. It’s like a DVR for your camera, letting you shift back in time to get the shot you might have missed by waiting too long. It sounds futuristic and cool, something you don’t normally associate with BlackBerry, although I imagine you need a lot of hard drive space to accommodate that kind of ability. You can see how it works in the short YouTube video below:
The bad news is in spite of getting all the major players to build apps, and coming up with some phones that dazzle, BlackBerry has been in free fall for over three years. It went from a company that controlled more than 40 percent of US smartphone market share in 2010 to an also-ran by the time they made this announcement. By November of 2012, the most recent data available, comScore was reporting RIM, now BlackBerry, controlled a mere 8.3 percent. That is a precipitous loss of market, and when your brand takes a hit like that, it’s hard to recover.
The company may attract the few advocates it has left, but it’s going to be very difficult to break the iOS-Android stronghold on the market.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum said in a statement that he was also impressed with the platform and the phones, but essentially, it didn’t matter. “Ovum believes that despite a well-designed Blackberry 10 platform, that will certainly attract short-term interest from existing users the company will struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market.”
And BlackBerry isn’t helping itself as FierceWireless reports by delaying the US release until March. When you wait too long to get your updated product to market, the last thing you want to do is get your potential market hyped up and then make them wait 6 weeks. It’s the kind of dumb move that has hurt this company in the past.
I give BlackBerry a lot of credit though for doing what it needed to do. The problem is, they’re about 18 months to two years too late to the game. They made the shot they needed to. But while they stood by the basket with hands thrust in the air, it simply didn’t matter. The game was over long ago.
When you look at successful organizations over the last decade, it’s hard to find two better examples than the New England Patriots and Apple. But it seems that their success comes at a price. At a certain point, people begin to hate them for their success and actually long to see them fail.
But these two organizations seem to have a lot more in common than their recent success. Much like Apple, The Patriots experienced a lot of failure before their current 12 year run of success. Then they made a key move at the top hiring Bill Belichick as head coach in 2000. Apple made the key move bringing back Steve Jobs in 1997. In both cases, with a demanding and highly intelligent leader at the the helm, the organizations thrived.
Now many years later, success has spawned success. For the Patriots it’s been 10 division titles, 7 trips to the AFC Championship game, 5 trips to the Super Bowl, 3 Super Bowl Championships. For Apple, it’s been one home run after another. First the iPod, then the iPhone, then the iPad.
These two organizations both demand excellence from their employees. They both value silence and neither one gives the opposition an edge ever. They are tight-knit and well managed and they have a methodology and they stick to it because it works.
After the Patriots lost last weekend, the level of vitriol on social networks was palpable. Some people were happy to stomp on New England and take glee in their loss.
Same goes for Apple. They sold a record number of iPhones, yet it wasn’t as many as Wall Street had hoped. Suddenly, Apple is simply another technology company, nothing special. All that success and all that cash and people get sick of hearing how great the products are and how many they sell. Enough already! They want them to fall from grace. They wish for it, and when they fail, they take great glee.
And let’s face it, neither is a terribly likable organization. Belichick is often surly with the press. Jobs was secretive and paranoid (and reportedly downright mean to people). Cook is definitely more likable, but the organization remains closed and tight-lipped with him at the helm. When there was an issue with the iPhone 4 antenna, Jobs suggested people were holding it wrong. People don’t like that kind of answer, any more than they like Belichick snubbing an opposing coach during the post game handshake or telling a reporter “It is what it is.”
Yet, in spite of this, each of these individual leaders, and organizations have had an uncanny way of taking good personnel and wringing out every last bit of talent from them to build a product and a brand that exudes success and greatness.
Perhaps, it’s just human nature to want such successful entities to fail, but instead of wasting our time hating the insanely great, maybe we should step back and see what got them to this point — a leader with keen vision and uncanny motivational skills and employees with a desire deep in their bellies to reach the apex every time.
Photo Credit Jobs/Cook: thetaxhaven on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons SA license. Photo Credit Brady/Belichick: Andrew Choy on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons SA license.
Once again, this week a big Facebook announcement gave mobile short shrift.
There was big news on Tuesday from Facebook, but what Facebook didn’t announce may be more important than what they did. That’s because once again, Facebook paid mobile short shrift and it’s time to consider that maybe the company will never get it.
You may recall there were many rumors prior Tuesday’s announcement as the Technology press speculated what it might be. Many believed it might be the long-rumored Facebook phone (whatever that would entail), but I think a lot of people figured it must be something about their mobile strategy whether it was an ad platform or another thing entirely.
As we found out, it had nothing to do with mobile and in fact, from following along in various live blogs of the event, it was clear Facebook didn’t demonstrate Graph Search on a mobile device and they didn’t even mention mobile, except in the question and answer period after the presentation in which Zuckerberg suggested that a mobile version of Graph Search was down the road.
Perhaps ClickZ put it best when it asked Is Facebook Still a Web First, Mobile Last Company? If you had any doubt, this announcement showed that Facebook still sees itself as a web-first company. As Matt Kapko writing on ClickZ pointed out, it’s a bit strange that Facebook would continue to dismiss mobile when a majority of its users are accessing the service from mobile devices.
Om Malik live blogging the event could barely contain his disgust over Facebook ignoring mobile in the announcement writing, “My big takeaway so far: Facebook will never be a mobile company. They launch this graph search and it is on desktop browser. How it will work on touch devices, where typing isn’t the key way to interact with the device and information,” he wondered.
It’s kind of funny because I think of Facebook as a young company, and I would think that they would get this, but Zuckerberg is already a vestige of a previous generation. Don’t forget, Zuckerberg launched the first version of Facebook while a student at Harvard way back in 2003.
That was 4 years before the first iPhone, so he cut his teeth when web services were delivered in a desktop browser. But unlike some of his peers who have made the transition to mobile, Zuckerberg and his company continue to cling to the desktop.
One of the great use cases for the iPhone for me is I take a picture and I share it on Facebook. It’s so simple, and would be even easier if you could share right from the camera app. If I had to take a picture then email it to myself, go to my laptop and download the photo, then share it on Facebook, it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Social computing was made for mobile, but the folks at Facebook don’t seem to understand that, or if they do, they don’t seem to get it enough. The mobile app just got sharing recently and it’s still implemented in a funky way. You can share from the newsfeed, but not if you tap through to the status to comment, you can’t share directly from the status. And the mobile app is still often slow and unresponsive, even though it’s better than the prior versions.
Facebook really needs to put mobile first, but as this announcement shows, it seems stuck in the desktop browser, and you have to wonder how long it can live there, ignoring the very place its users are most comfortable.
As mobile devices usage continues to rise, we see PC sales decline.
We’ve seen all the signs lately that the PCs days are numbered and mobile and cloud, well they’re the cat’s meow, the BMOC, the big dog.
Oh , you’ll still see PC skulking around, showing up at parties and being annoying, but in 2012, we seemed to make a clear transition from desktop to mobile. Even Microsoft has seen this coming. Hence the rush to the cloud, the emphasis on mobile and the even the release of a Microsoft branded tablet with more coming.
We’ve all heard that Windows 8 PC sales have been slow. NPD reported at the end of November that Windows 8 sales were sluggish as were PCs and laptops in general with notebooks down 24 percent and desktop sales down 9 percent.
Granted it was early days, but Preston Gralla writing on his Computerworld blog after the holidays found that Windows 8 sales were still in the doldrums, and Gralla referenced a variety of sources reporting essentially the same bad news with lagging sales — and some computer manufacturing executives were beginning to express frustration at the lack of Windows 8 PC and laptop sales.
I trust that it has nothing to do with the quality of Windows 8. Whether you love it or not doesn’t have much to do with the lack of sales. It’s because the sales have shifted to mobile devices. In Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report this year, one telling slide was # 25, which showed in the fourth quarter of 2010, smartphones and tablet shipments surpassed PC and notebook shipments for the first time — and are expected to skyrocket in the coming years, while PC and notebook shipments will remain flat. Go have a look, it’s pretty telling. I’ll wait.
What’s even more telling is the next slide which predicts that sometime this year, the installed base of mobile device users will surpass the installed base of PC and Netbook user for the first time. Those two slides tell the tale of the changing demographics in technology usage (in case you needed a picture of what’s become obvious to just about everyone).
That not enough for you? How about this little data point then? Apple reported recently that it surpassed 40 billion total downloads in the App Store since inception with almost half of those coming in 2012 and 2 billion in December alone. The App Store now has an astonishing 775,000 apps now. There are simply a lot of idevices out there and people appear to love to download apps.
And it’s not just Apple. ReadWriteWeb reports that Google, the other mobile behemoth, and its Google Play Android store is growing even faster and could pass a million apps before Apple does.
All this data seems to agree that mobile is ascending and PC is waning. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop using PCs or that the PC will go the way of the dinosaur, at least for the near term, but it does mean the PC will have less and less use in our lives, and as that is going to have an impact on traditional PC software like Windows and Office for the desktop. It’s a mobile world and the traditional PC is just going to have to get used to it.
Reuter’s reported that Oracle bought the company because it wanted to boost its cloud presence adding to another cloud purchase, RightNow Technologies, which it bought last year for $1.5 billion. But it’s not clear that Oracle can use its considerable purse strings to buy its way into social customer and marketing management in the cloud, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to try.
As Tony Byrne pointed out in the Real Story Group blog, what we have with this purchase is a hodge podge of solutions, lacking any semblance of coherence across the Oracle product line (although Byrne was no kinder to rivals IBM, Adobe or Salesforce.com).
Cathy McKnight of Digital Clarity Group, however, isn’t so sure. McKnight, writing on the Just | Clarity blog sees this as a key piece in Oracle’s marketing cloud strategy and a step in the right direction.
So is it a hodgepodge or a smart move? It’s probably a little of both, but I’m not convinced that Oracle can change so easily. Even more than Microsoft, which is has begun shifting to the cloud with more agility than I would have imagined, Oracle is the quintessential data center product.
They typically sell to IT, not to business units like marketing, and like many Enterprise software companies of its ilk, there is very likely going to be a long installation cycle and a long upgrade cycle. Oracle might have a few cloud pieces to go with its core enterprise offering, but it’s never going to be able to move as quickly or innovate as fast as cloud rival Salesforce.com can simply by being a cloud company built from the ground up for that purpose.
In spite of a few swings at the cloud, Oracle is first and foremost an enterprise, on-premise software company, but as McKnight pointed out to me Twitter, just because many companies are looking for the simplicity that the cloud brings, doesn’t mean there won’t still be a market for companies that need or want more complex solutions for whatever reason.
I have no doubt she’s right, but I also see a marked consumerization shift going on in the enterprise. For IT that means moving away from complex enterprise solutions that require lots of IT overhead to install, configure and maintain and toward much simpler solutions that provide the same level of usability you are likely to find in consumer solutions on the web and require much less IT intervention.
Beyond simplifying and ease of use, there needs to be a smooth connection using the cloud as a conduit for users to access apps and content across devices and platforms wherever they are, providing a bridge between mobile and the cloud that we so often talk about on this blog.
When you think of consumerization, Oracle is probably the last company you think of, and while Oracle understands that the world is changing around it, I don’t think buying a couple of marketing companies based in the cloud does it a cloud company make. It’s going to take a whole lot more than that, and right now I put my money on its more agile competitors. Oracle isn’t going anywhere, but neither do I expect it to take this market segment by storm.
Ultimately, I see it as just another clumsy attempt by a big company to use its wallet to shift gears in a changing marketplace.
It’s that special time of year when the technology news cycle slows down and all tech journalists turn toward those old chestnuts: year-end wrap-ups or predictions for the coming year. In the spirit of looking ahead I’ve decided to look into my mobile technology crystal ball and make some prognostications for the coming year. Maybe in December 2013, we can look back and see how accurate I was (or not).
Here we go:
Buh-Bye RIM; We hardly knew ya
The first one is pretty easy. RIM goes down once and for all. After losing market share for years, and having lost consumers along with it, the handset business will be cut off and drowned in Lake Ontario. No body will be found. I’m sure somebody will buy the other pieces like their patents and perhaps their server business, but Blackberries will go back to being fruit and the handsets will be a footnote in mobile history.
Microsoft Mobile barely makes a dent
Microsoft realizes once and for all, that for better or worse it’s a desktop software company. Maybe its cloud play begins to gain some traction in 2013, but Microsoft phones and tablets? Not so much. Let’s face it, even if Microsoft took 10 percent market share in tablets and phones, it would be a raging success, but I’m going say they get half that. By the end of 2013 if they haven’t reached 5 percent, I think we can confidently call the mobile strategy a failure.
Android gains, but Google rues the day it bought Motorola Mobility
Android will continue to make gains across the tablet and smartphone space, although the latter will begin to flatten even while the former one grows. Google realizes too late, however, that it threw good money after bad when it bought Motorola Mobility. It’s not a hardware company and trying to buy its way into the hardware space with a company that makes inferior products doesn’t help. They don’t make much money and piss off their OEMs. Seems like a perfect lose-lose situation. The only question left is what they do about it.
iPad loses market share, but makes gobs of money
Competition begins to catch up with Apple as Android tablet makers begin making better and better devices for increasingly attractive price points. That doesn’t mean we have to cry for Apple because of their smart supply chain management, app store revenue and high margins, they will continue to make gobs of money. Apple may not dominate as it once did, but it will be fine.
Nokia hangs on, but barely
Nokia won’t go the way of RIM next year, and in fact, will probably see some gains in Europe and Asia, but competition from Apple on one end and low-priced Androids on the other will make it tough sledding for the Finnish company in 2013. We may hear rumblings of a sale by the end of the year as Nokia’s options continue to shrink.
I know that sounds cruel, but it’s just a fact. RIM may have more market share than Microsoft, but it keeps dropping steadily month after month and year after year. In its most recent market share statistics, comScore reported that Blackberry continued its long and steady decline to just 7.8 percent of US market share losing a 1.7 percent from the previous report in July.
You could argue I suppose that Blackberry 10 represents a new opportunity for RIM, but there is little reason to believe that Blackberry is going to experience a turnaround. Blackberry was born in a different time before smartphones when IT ruled the roost and every good corporation handed out new employees their very own Blackberry.
That was before the iPhone and the Android came along and IT decided it was easier to let users bring their own devices, and as they did fewer and fewer chose the Blackberry. Now in the age of Bring Your Own Device, it doesn’t seem likely that they are going to find a way to convince consumers to buy their phones.
It’s not easy to win over consumers. Just ask Microsoft. Even though it has created competitive devices and developers seem to have created apps for it, at this point, Microsoft still can’t catch a break in US market share. Those same comScore statistics for October found that Microsoft dropped .4 percentage points down to 3.2 percent.
This is after blitzing the airwaves with ads, subsidizing phones and paying developers to make apps for it. None of it has had an appreciable effect. What both these companies face is a very different marketplace than what they dealt with in the 90s and early 2000s. They are no longer selling to IT and they can’t seem to adjust to that — either that, or when given a choice, consumers simply don’t want their devices.
The market seems to have hardened around Android and iOS devices with those two mobile operating systems controlling close to 90 percent of the market and the others, primarily Microsoft and RIM, fighting over the remains.
If Microsoft with all its resources hasn’t been able to make a dent in the market and actually continues to lose ground, it’s hard to imagine that RIM can make any serious headway, no matter how good Blackberry 10 may be. It’s worth noting that RIM has announced 70,000 apps will be available at launch, but I’m not sure that is going to matter to a public that seems to have rejected the brand outright.
I’ve suggested in the past, that perhaps the two companies would be better off combining their efforts and at least gaining some respectable market share numbers that way, perhaps building a solid number 3. As of now, RIM keeps spiraling down and there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to believe that anything is going to change on January 30th.
Microsoft Surface Pro pricing defies any kind of market savvy on Microsoft’s part
When I heard Microsoft’s pricing for the upcoming Surface Pro on Thursday, my jaw literally dropped. Ed Bott reported on ZDNet that the pricing would be as follows:
The new Surface will debut in two editions in the United States and Canada: one with 64 GB of storage, priced at $899, a second with 128 GB for $999. Each model comes with a Surface pen but does not include Touch Cover or Type Cover add-ons ($120 and $130, respectively).
Excuse but as one friend put it when he heard the news, “Steve Ballmer must be huffing kerosene.” Even folks who were lusting for the Pro tablet have to pause when the cheapest option with cover and keyboard — and let’s face it they are selling the keyboard as a key feature — is $1149. Add on sales tax and you’re getting close to $1200. That’s not tablet pricing — that’s a pretty nice laptop and if you’re going to buy a laptop, buy a laptop. Why buy a hybrid device for that kind of money?
As though that’s not bad enough, Mary Jo Foley reports that the Surface Pro is going to have half the battery life of the Surface RT. That means 4-5 hours maximum so the Surface Pro is going to have the battery life a typical Ultrabook, which what I suspect people will buy if they want to spend this kind of money.
Analyst Gene Munster claimed based on his onsite Black Friday research at Mall of America that Apple was moving 11 iPads an hour at the Apple store, while Microsoft was selling a big fat zero Surface RTs at the Microsoft Store. When I was at the SharePoint Conference earlier this month, I saw a couple of Surface RTs, but not as many as you would expect at a Microsoft-centric event. I think it’s fair to say that they aren’t selling very well.
And with these prices, it seems highly unlikely to me that Microsoft is going to move many of the Surface Pros. I can’t imagine someone paying $1200 for a tablet with 4 or 5 hours of battery life. I mean this kind of pricing makes iPads look positively affordable.
I’ve heard the arguments that this is a laptop replacement, and it’s a new kind of device, but I’m really not buying it. Let’s be honest here, the Surface is first and foremost a tablet. Microsoft created it to be a player in the tablet market and to compete with the iPad. Their strategy to is to have an operating system that has the same look and feel from desktop and laptop to tablet to phone. And the Surface family is the tablet part of the equation.
So let’s compare Surface Pro and iPad pricing. I’m going to put the iPad 2 and iPad mini aside here for comparing purposes and just use the 64 GB iPad WiFi with Retina Display. Apple doesn’t sell a 128 GB version of the iPad and the Surface Pro doesn’t support mobile broadband. Apple charges $699 for the latest iPad compared with $899 for the Surface Pro. That’s a pretty significant gap.
Microsoft would have been far smarter to cut the prices and lose money to be cheaper or at least equal to the iPad than making the Surface Pro significantly more expensive. And I haven’t even mentioned the cheaper Android tablets at the other end of the market because this device clearly isn’t competing with those. But I’m still left wondering what Microsoft could possibly have been thinking with these prices.
I’m predicting right now that the Surface Pro will be the biggest dud since the RIM Playbook or the HP TouchPad and I’m fully expecting a similar level of success — which is to say none at all. Look for these to go on clearance by the end of Q1.
As business users increasingly find themselves connecting to the internet away from the office, the cloud and mobile devices grow ever more important. This blog will look at ways these issues are affecting IT and the ways companies link data so it's updated wherever you are.