Category Archives: Apple

Claim chowder, special netbook and iPad edition

Paul Thurrott, explaining in 2010 how the iPad is Not ‘Killing’ Netbook Sales:

“And IDC is now forecasting that ‘mininotebook’ (i.e. netbooks and sub-12-inch machines) will sell 45.6 million units in 2011 and 60.3 million in 2013. If I remember the numbers from 2009, they were 10 percent of all PCs, or about 30 million units. Explain again how the iPad will beat that. Please. Even the craziest iPad sales predictions are a small percentage of that.”

Total number of iPads sold in 2012: 58.31 million

Netbooks, on the other hand

Netbook shipments in particular fell from 39.4m in 2010 to 29.4m in 2011, a 25% fall, as the total number of tablets shipped rose almost threefold from 23m to 63m by Canalys’s calculations.

As Paul put it in his original post:

So. Who you gonna believe? An Apple blogger from a web site and a Morgan Stanley employee? Or IDC and The Wall Street Journal.

I think we now have our answer to that one.

Hardware in a software world

The inestimable Mr Gruber:

Even “hardware” features are defined by software, and can no longer be judged on their own. Consider, say, mobile phone cameras. The camera itself is important – the sensor, the lens, the physical size – but ultimately what matters is the quality of the images it produces, and software is a huge part of that.

This is something that I have to repeatedly point out to Android users. Over and over again, they point out how the hardware on a particular phone is better than the iPhone, and how the software allows you more precision control over the shot you take with the camera.

And over and over again, I ask “which takes better pictures?”

And the answer is always the iPhone.

(via Daring Fireball Linked List: CES Is the World’s Greatest Hardware Show Stuck in a Software Era)

Since when did reading tech blogs pass for analysis?

Apple to play wearable computer game, says analyst | ZDNet:

“We note that recent speculation from tech blogs suggests that Apple may launch a watch as a companion device to the iPhone. While we are unsure of the ultimate launch timing (likely 2014 or later), we believe that Apple will eventually introduce some type of wearable computing product.”

When your “analysis” consists of nothing more than reading “speculation from tech blogs”, you probably should find another line of work.

For the record, I’m betting “nope“. 

The end of the beginning in the mobile market

Benedict Evans sums up the current state of the mobile market:

“In other words, Apple has 20-30% of the market by volume, but it is the top 20-30%. Google ‘has’ the rest, but has only a very tenuous connection to large parts of it, and another large proportion is likely to be worth little or nothing for a long time. Roll on uncertainty (link): everything will change, again, in the next year. “

This is only phase one. Whether iOS and Android are even in the same market most of the time is up for debate.

Remembering before the Apple Retail Stores

John Gruber on the way that people got the Apple retail stores 100% wrong:

The first is that Edwards wasn’t out on a limb. In the investor and general tech press, it was common at the outset to believe that Apple’s foray into retail was folly. The second is that Edwards was more than just a little bit wrong. He wasn’t merely implying that retail might prove difficult for Apple, that success was a longshot. His argument, backed by quotes from analysts and even former Apple CFO Joseph Graziano, was that Apple’s retail foray was surely doomed.

One of the things that you have to remember about people writing about Apple in those days – and I was one – is that we’d got used to an Apple which constantly failed. The ten years prior to the release of the iMac had seen Apple lurch from drama to crisis, with not a single major success to its name.

Even after Jobs’ return, the company had a few initial missteps. The new OS strategy, required to replace the ageing OS 8/9, had a big change of course when Rhapsody (which didn’t run legacy Mac apps) transformed into Mac OS X. The Power Mac G4 Cube was a failure, leading to the company “suspending” production (it has yet to resume).

I remember being sceptical about the Apple retail project for two reasons. The first was that Apple had never really done retail. In Europe, it had created the AppleCentre idea, which was an Apple-controlled (but not owned) set of “premium” retailers. You had to follow strict guidelines to be an AppleCentre, and in return got the kudos of the Apple brand behind you.

The second reason I thought Apple might be doing the wrong thing was that its existing dealers had invested a lot of money in keeping the Mac afloat during some hard times, and setting up in direct competition to them was a kick in the teeth. Yes, there were some slightly dodgy box shifters amongst retailers, and the experience in national stores like PC World had never been great. But most dealers – and I talked to them a lot back then – were really passionate advocates for the brand and platform.

Really, almost no-one thought that Apple retail stores were a great idea. But we were all wrong.

In which someone may be switching to Android (Or, a classic case of Geek Itch)

At Techpinions, Patrick Moorhead is pondering leaving the iPhone, and switching to Android. But take a look at the language that Patrick uses:

With Android’s “Butter” introduced at this year’s Google I/O, the feel is nearly as good as iOS… My front-page apps like Evernote for Android and Windows Phone are still ugly but they don’t keep me from doing my job or having less fun. There is much less of a time delay or quality delta between Android and iOS apps than there ever was before. [My emphasis]

Turn that around, and what it says is that iOS remains smoother, and the apps remain higher quality and usually released first. In other words, for many of the things that affect Patrick’s decision, by choosing Android he’s actively choosing second-best in terms of experience.

That might make sense if there were other features Patrick wanted or needed about Android which significantly outweigh taking the pain there. But if there are, I’m not really seeing them here. Sharing isn’t as hard as you make it out to be: I share from Safari on iOS to Google+ in one click, by using a bookmarklet. There are equivalents for both Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Speech to text and control is a more personal decision. For me, Siri works better than Google Now’s voice control stuff, partly (I think) because Google hasn’t implemented all the features for British English. The dictation engine works better for me on iOS than Android. And voice search from the iOS Google Search app uses the same voice recognition as Google Now (as you’d expect) so if I want to do voice searching, I mostly use that.

It think Patrick also gives Apple a little less credit on new technology than it deserves. For me, a deal breaker with Android has always been integration with a wider eco-system of devices through AirPlay. Despite Android’s focus on this recently, Apple is still a mile ahead in simplicity. Hook up a (dirt cheap) Apple TV to your living room TV, and stream pretty much any content to it. Making something that easy is the best way to implement new technology, because it removes the barriers to “normal” people using it.

I get the feeling, though, that Patrick has classic “geek itch”[1]“. I get this too – the desire to jump to a platform which will allow me to play around a little more, to to spend time configuring things and digging into them. Nothing wrong with that – but it’s not really more broadly applicable as a comment on a specific platform.


  1. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.  ↩

Will bringing Office to the iPad kill Surface RT?

Amidst all the talk of the Microsoft Office apps coming to the iPad, there hasn’t been much thought about what bringing the apps to the iPad means to Microsoft’s long-term future. Peter Bright of Ars Technica thinks that Microsoft is playing a dangerous game:

“Should this come to pass, Microsoft will not just be banging a nail into the coffin of Windows RT and, by extension, its Surface tablet. It’ll be digging the grave, tossing in the body, and then unloading a few tons of concrete into the hole to ensure that there’s no risk of reanimation.”

Peter does have a point. The unique selling point of Windows RT is that it comes with “real” Office apps, and in handing the iPad the keys to the Office kingdom Microsoft runs the risk of undermining its own competing product.

But there’s a few counterpoints. First of all, it’s unlikely that the versions of Office for iOS will include many of the features that Windows RT Office has. On Microsoft’s platform, Office has feature parity with the full Windows 8 version. On iPad, it’s much more likely to be closer to the web Office apps in features. You’ll be able to do basic edits, but that’s probably about it. 

Second, and more important in the long term, if Microsoft doesn’t produce apps for the iPad it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant on a platform that’s being widely adopted by business. If it wants to keep the rest of the “Windows/Office/Exchange” software stack intact, it has to be on iPad. Google, probably it’s biggest competitor at the moment in enterprise office apps, it already there and keeps adding new features to its iOS programmes. 

If Microsoft doesn’t eat it’s own young, then someone else will. Better to preserve two elements of Windows/Office/Exchange than lose them.

Microsoft Skydrive causes friction between Apple and Microsoft

Apple and Microsoft are going head to head over the future of Microsoft Skydrive, according to AllThingsD:

“Sources familiar with ongoing negotiations between Apple and Microsoft tell AllThingsD that the companies are at loggerheads not over the 30 percent commission Apple asks of storage upgrade sales made through SkyDrive, but over applying that same commission to Office 365 subscriptions sold through Microsoft Office for iOS, which is expected to launch sometime next year.”

This makes much more sense than the two companies arguing over the relatively-small Microsoft Skydrive. But what I don’t understand is what Microsoft thinks it’s playing at: there’s simply no way that Apple is going to bend over this.

If you’re not using Zite, you should

Zite 2.0: A smarter, snappier personalized magazine for iOS | Internet & Media – CNET News:

“Zite has always been about giving users plenty of topics of news, and in the previous version, it had grown to 2,500 categories. In the new version, that number has exploded, to 40,000 topics, meaning that it can provide news to match almost anyone’s taste. But Zite is really all about discovery. And one of the best new features of Zite 2.0 is one that can take users on a journey of exploration through a topic, either by reading more on an individual subject, or branching off to other categories on a whim.”

Zite is an under sung star of the news aggregators. It’s simple, elegant, and puts the onus of discovery rather than simply displaying news in a more pretty way. If you’re not using it, take a look.

Google’s iOS app strategy

If you think that it’s in Google’s interests to create better apps on Android than iOS, two recent releases should absolve you of that notion.

First, there’s the latest release of Gmail, an app that’s so good even Android sites are wishing it was available on their platform.

Then there is YouTube, which improves so much over the previous (Apple-created) app that I wish Apple had dropped its own version sooner.

So what’s going on? Why would Android’s creator make better apps for the platform it competes with than for its own?

There’s two reasons. First, as I wrote in my most recent posting on Macgasm, the role of Android isn’t to defeat iOS, but to ensure that Apple does not dominate mobile in a way which meant it could lock Google search out. Second, there’s the issue of revenue. Although Google doesn’t break out how much it makes from ads served to iOS devices, given that iOS drives far more web traffic than Android it’s safe to assume Google serves more web ads to it. And that makes iOS a more profitable platform for Google than Android is.

Given this, why would Google want to damage a platform it makes more money per user from, in favour of a platform it makes less money per user from? Google is driven by data, and the data says that providing services to iOS users makes it money.