Category Archives: Apple

What’s The iPad advantage?

Ben Bajarin gives a brilliant account of the advantage that the iPad has over other PCs, in “The iPad Advantage” ($). In particular, this paragraph absolutely hits the nail on the head:

The PC is for certain a general purpose computer. Yet its form factor limits all its general computing capabilities to only be taken advantage while in a fixed position either at a desk, or with the device sitting on your lap. The iPad, and the slate form factor take this idea of mobile general purpose computing to an entirely new level. The iPad enables its general purpose computing power to be used in both stationary and mobile situations. The iPad liberates general purpose computing from the lap or desk and enables it in contexts where computing was absent before.

The iPad is usable pretty much everywhere, and that on its own increases its power compared to other PC types. I’ve used my iPad to write hundreds of words on the London Underground, something I’d never do with a laptop (mostly for fear of impaling people either side with my elbows).

At last, someone who understands Apple Retail

Great article for by Jeff Chu for Fast Company on new Apple Retail head Angela Ahrendts:

Sikka praises Ahrendts for “reimagining the Burberry store experience.” When she showed him around the “massive” Regent Street store last year, he was particularly impressed at the store's use of RFID technology. “Every piece has a tag in it. You walk to a mirror and a video comes up of a model wearing the coat that is in your hand! You can actually see it! And when you walk into the fitting rooms …”

As he gushes for a few minutes, I realize that Ahrendts has transformed Vishal Sikka–an übergeek whose Stanford computer science PhD thesis was entitled “Integrating Specialized Procedures Into Proof Systems”–into a Burberry brand ambassador too.

Sounds like a great fit for Apple.

App store sales top $10 billion

Apple – Press Info – App Store Sales Top $10 Billion in 2013

Apple® today announced that customers spent over $10 billion on the App Store℠ in 2013, including over $1 billion in December alone. App Store customers downloaded almost three billion apps in December making it the most successful month in App Store history. Apple’s incredible developers have now earned $15 billion on the App Store.

That's an awful lot of happy developers. In completely unrelated news, is this the only place Apple uses the trademark symbol?

A fictionalised conversation between me and a Surface Pro 2 fan

Me: “Surface Pro 2 makes a pretty poor laptop, because of its crazy kick stand and lack of a bundled keyboard. Just buy an ultrabook or MacBook Air.”

SurfaceGuy: “But! What laptop can you just take off the keyboard and use as a tablet?”

Me: “Yeah, but the Surface Pro 2 makes a really poor tablet. It’s too heavy, really hard to use in portrait mode, and you keep being dumped back into the crappy old Windows desktop to do things. Just buy an iPad or good Android tablet, or even a Surface if you like that sort of thing.”

SurfaceGuy: “But! What other tablet can you clip a keyboard on to and have a fully-fledged laptop?”

Me: “But it’s a pretty poor laptop…”

And so it goes, round and round. Point out Surface Pro 2 is a poor laptop, and you get pointed towards the fact it’s also a tablet. Point out it’s a pretty poor tablet, and you get pointed back towards the fact that it’s also a laptop.

What are low end tablets used for?

Ben Bajarin takes a peek into the “white box” segment of the tablet market and finds out what they're being used for:

Nearly all evidence and data we find comes back to a few fundamental things. First, most of these low cost tablets in the category of ‘other’ are being used purely as portable DVD players, or e-readers. Some are being used for games, but rarely are they connecting to web services, app stores, or other key services. I have asked local analysts, local online services companies, app tracking firms, and many many more regional experts, and the answer keeps coming back the same. They affirm that we see the data showing all these Android tablet sales. But they aren’t actually showing up on anyone’s radar when it comes to apps and services in a meaningful way.

Is this even the same market as the iPad? I don't think it really is. Whereas the iPad is being used to effectively replace (or augment) the PC in many homes and businesses, this looks much more like a replacement for the portable DVD player. Think video iPod, not Mac replacement.

No, the market for Apple’s tablet isn’t reaching saturation point

Just when I thought that the lack of poor coverage of Apple’s financial results was going to leave me with nothing to write about, along came Christopher Mims and Ritchie King at Quartz, with their efforts to show that the “Surprise drop in iPad sales shows the market for Apple’s tablet has saturated“.

Tldr; version: It doesn’t.

“Apple sold 5.4 million fewer iPads in its most recent quarter than it did in the same three months a year ago. That’s despite having introduced a whole new iPad, the Mini, in the intervening year.”

The iPad mini was introduced in October, and, as a low-end product, was more likely to be a seasonal (read: Christmas) purchase than its larger sibling. It’s also likely there was a well of pent-up demand for a smaller, cheaper iPad which the release date of the product (Christmas) was designed to tap into.

In other words: Lots of people were waiting for an iPad mini, and, when one was released, promptly bought them.

By comparison, the previous iPad release – the retina iPad – shipped in March 2012. That means the first full quarter of supply for that new, radically improved model, was Q3 2012, the equivalent year-ago quarter to the one they’ve just reported on.

In other words, Q3 2012 was the first full quarter of sales for a radically new and improved product. Q3 2013 was the quarter following a major, lower-cost product introduction and biggest buying season. If you think that’s not going to affect year on year sales, I have a bridge to sell you.

The second factor Mims and King ignore is that Apple is not selling solely into the US: 57% of its sales come from “international” markets. And in those markets, tablet penetration remains significantly lower than the US, and so has more headroom to grow. The UK, for example, has around 19% tablet ownership – half that cited for the US.

Mims and King’s failure to look at the effect of product launches other than the iPad mini lead to them to a false conclusion. The failure to remember that Apple is an international company which sells over half its products abroad is an additional piece of myopia.

IFTTT launches on the iPhone

IFTTT launches on the iPhone:

“IFTTT, if you’re unfamiliar, is a utility that you can use to hook multiple web services together to perform automated actions for you. Want a text message every time you get an email from a friend? Care to have your photos automatically shipped off to SkyDrive or Dropbox or Flickr as they’re shot? There’s a ton more stuff that you can do with the hundreds of channels that support popular apps, services and actions.“

IFTTT is one of my favourite web services of the past year, capable of creating dozens of useful tools, and a great illustration of why open APIs are important and powerful.

Why buy a Nexus over an iPad?

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is really quite impressed by the Nexus 7, going as far as to say that:

If Apple doesn’t raise its game with respect to the iPad, my next full-size tablet could be a Nexus.

I’m going to leave to one side a lot of what Adrian says in support of the Nexus 7, because it boils down to things which are either personal preference or equally applicable to the iPad mini. However, I’m not sure why he makes the statement above: After all, there’s already a nice, big Nexus device which – from the perspective of hardware – matches the larger iPad.

Personally, I haven’t used my Nexus 7 since I bought the iPad mini. There’s nothing in the N7 that’s superior to the mini, apart from the price. If you want a tablet and are on a really tight budget, the N7 will serve you well. But really, if you can afford the extra money for the mini, spend it: you won’t regret it for a moment.

Even if you’re wedded to Google services, the mini is probably the better option. With Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Drive and pretty-much everything else well supported by apps on the iPad, you’re missing out on almost nothing, and you have a wider variety of apps to choose from (and generally better quality ones too).

My favourite meme: “The iPad is just a bigger iPod touch”

Claim chowder, special Nintendo edition:

“Nintendo president Satoru Iwata doesn’t mince his words; asked about Apple’s iPad launch this week, the outspoken executive has told reporters that the tablet ‘was a bigger iPod touch’, and that ‘there were no surprises for me’. “

Nintendo’s entire revenue for it’s most recent financial year? $6.39 bn

Apple’s revenue for just the iPad in its most recent financial year? About $31 bn.

The most relevant question about Apple today

Horace Dedieu:

In 2012 Apple’s capital spending has reached the extraordinary level of $10 billion/yr, higher than all but the most capital-intensive semiconductor manufacturers. This is unusual for Apple as it was less than $1 billion in the year before the iPhone launched. It’s also unusual for Apple’s competitors in phones, PCs or tablets. It’s on a level matched only by semiconductor heavyweights. What is the purpose of this spending and what should we read into it leveling off at $10 billion for 2013?

To underline that again: Apple’s capital expenditure is massive. The next time that someone tells you that Apple isn’t spending enough, point them to this.