I’ve heard some comments on forums which suggest that Flashback isn’t that important or successful because it’s “only” infected around 1% of the Mac installed base – around 500,000 machines, from about 50 million. Unfortunately, this displays the kind of ignorance about malware and its prevalence that I’ve often found from Mac users. Continue reading
A new survey shows that 34 percent of U.S. teens have iPhones — while another 40 percent plan to buy one within the next six months.
It looks like teens have moved on from the BlackBerry, and instead of diving into cheap Android, have held out for cheaper iPhones.
Andy Rubin on the “firewall” between Motorola and Google.
Rubin said he was “painfully aware” of concerns, but stressed that Google has “literally built a firewall” between the Android team and Motorola. “I don’t even know anything about their products, I haven’t seen anything,” he said.
Given that Motorola needed Google’s explicit permission to launch its patent attack on Apple, that’s some leaky firewall, Andy.
Almost everyone seems to believe that the next iPad, rumoured to be being launched in early March, will have 4G connectivity, in the shape of LTE. When the Wall Street Journal is reporting it, that usually means it’s pretty likely.
However, I actually have my doubts. To my mind, there’s more than a few reasons why Apple is unlikely to make the leap to LTE for this iPad, and will hold off until the next one. I have no inside info, and don’t normally make predictions, but something about this rumour doesn’t quite make sense given the way that Apple tends to work.
In favour of LTE
Of course, LTE offers significantly higher speeds than 3G. But the big drawback is battery life: almost everyone who has an LTE phone ends up charging it multiple times a day.
However, the iPad is not a phone. Not only does it have a bigger battery, but its use of data over mobile networks is different. Most iPads spend much of their time tethered to WiFi networks, rather than being used when out and about on mobile. With smart software, you could probably build an LTE-equipped tablet of iPad size without getting hit hard on battery life.
Implementing LTE now would, though, would be something of a departure for Apple, for several reasons. First is that LTE chipsets remain expensive compared to those for 3G. Although Apple doesn’t scrimp on the quality of its components, they don’t waste money. Given that its price points tend to be fixed, it builds to a strict budget which forces designers and engineers to balance technology with cost.
Second, though, is the spread of LTE. At present, there are 31 countries with LTE deployed. In many of these countries, that deployment is either experimental or extremely limited, which means it’s only available in large, major cities.
Compare that with GSM. Apple currently ships the GSM iPhone in more than 70 countries, with more in the pipeline.
Of course, Apple could simply ship an LTE iPad which then stepped down to 3G when LTE wasn’t available. And, if LTE were widespread in the largest markets, Apple might do that.
But it’s not. Even within the US, LTE coverage is patchy – something that you’d probably not get if you only read journalists based in the Bay Area. Some major markets, such as the UK and France (combined population: 127 million affluent consumers) have no LTE available at all. And remember that 62% of Apple’s sales are “international” (ie not in the US) now, and the company clearly aims to grow that percentage over time. China, the biggest potential market for iPads of the lot, has no LTE.
Apple doesn’t do promises. Shipping an LTE iPad to consumers who can’t make use of that feature, on the promise that when (if) their local phone company turns on LTE they’ll get super-fast speed doesn’t sound like an Apple-ish thing to do.
The only way I’d see that happening would be if they knew that LTE was a handful of months away from widespread adoption, and that’s not happening. Otherwise, you’re giving the majority of your customers a feature that they can’t use yet, but which will magically turn on for them down the line. And when that feature does turn on, in six months or two years, it’ll be like they’ve got an upgraded iPad – something that’s bound to be a disincentive to them actually buying a new, upgraded iPad.
Of course, come 2013, when LTE is likely to be more widely available in the US and be in place across phone networks worldwide, an LTE iPad makes complete sense. And I have little doubt that the iPad 4, which will probably hit the market in the first half of next year, will have LTE: the timing will just be right.
But until then, I’d bet against LTE. While other companies would certainly rush an LTE tablet to market (and have), based on its history it’s just not the kind of move that Apple would make.
I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 for a while, in addition to the iPad 2 that I regularly use. It’s a nice little piece of hardware – lighter than the iPad (as you’d expect from the smaller size), and with enough battery life and power to do plenty of stuff.
In common with almost all Android tablets, it runs Honeycomb rather than the latest Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) version of Android. And, although Samsung have stated that it will be getting an update, it’s likely to be later rather than sooner – perhaps a few months. Of course, Android being Android, a bunch of hackers have already started on an “unofficial” port, and the beta of that has been enough to persuade me that ICS, while still behind iOS 5 in many ways, is a big step forward.
But the fact remains that Android tablets remain a long way behind the iPad in many other ways. There’s a lack of “showcase” applications, for one thing: the likes of GarageBand, which can sell an iPad in five minutes, simply don’t exist for Android. Then there’s the failure of tablet vendors to actually use ICS – amazingly, there are tablets which are still shipping using Android 2.3, which is as absurd an idea as Apple shipping a tablet with iOS 3.0.
So what should Google do? I have three suggestions.
AT&T posted its fourth quarter results for 2011 on Thursday and highlighted smartphone sales in particular, which reached a record high of 9.4 million devices, beating the standing company record by 50 percent. Apple should be very happy with those results, too, since 7.6 million, or 80.9 percent, of those smartphones were iPhones.
So 80% – eighty per cent! - of the smartphones AT&T sold were iPhones. More than 50% of the smartphones Verizon sold were iPhones. Yes, this was a quarter with a fair amount of pent-up demand for iPhones, given the “delay” to the iPhone 4S, but remember that phone buyers tend to have to wait until their contracts run out before buying – something which tends to smooth out the spikes a little.
UPDATE: As the inestimable Richard Gaywood pointed out to me on Twitter, this is conflating two types of figure: 9.4m smartphone sold and 7.6m iPhones activated. You might not think there’s much difference, but there is: activations include second-hand iPhones, hand-me-downs, and so on. That doesn’t meant that Apple didn’t make AT&T very happy bunnies, but it does mean that it’s less than 80%. How much less? No one outside of AT&T really knows.
“A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.”
“Google specifically gave permission for Motorola Mobility (MMI) to file a new lawsuit against Apple over its iPhone 4S and iCloud products, according to an analysis of the takeover agreement in which the search giant aims to buy the struggling mobile maker.”
John Gruber on the difference between Android users and iOS users:
The truth is, the average Android user is not the same as an average iPhone user. iPhone users surf the web more, they’re more willing to buy software, they’re more willing to install and use apps. Some of these stats aren’t even close. What I see as the fundamental flaw in the Church of Market Share doctrine is the assumption that users are users. That one platform with, say, 40 percent market share, must be in a stronger position than another platform with, say, 20 percent market share, simply and inherently on the basis that a larger number of users is better, period. What Apple has shown with the Mac, and now with the iPhone and iPad, is that all users are not equivalent.
John’s completely right. To give you a historical example that I’m very familiar with, consider the Mac market back when I first started as a journalist in 1995. Then, Apple was floating along with perhaps 3% of the overall computer market – and yet, in the UK alone, the eco-system surrounding the Mac was large enough to support three (and occasionally four) big, thick magazines with plenty of advertising.
Back then, Mac users were not the same as Windows users: they spent more, and bought more peripherals and software. Big companies spent a lot of money on ads chasing their money. Even Microsoft earned more per-user from its Mac customers than its Windows ones.
The problem back then was that Apple itself wasn’t in a healthy state, but the wider market was huge and profitable for the third parties that made software and hardware.
I’ve recently been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, one of the newest generation of Android tablets running Honeycomb (an Ice Cream Sandwich update is in the pipeline. Even though it’s not significantly cheaper than the 10.1in Tab, I got it because of the different form factor: it’s significantly lighter and easier to carry around than the iPad I already use, and makes a nice contrast to the bigger tablets.
However, it also illustrates the issues with using an interface which is designed for larger screens on a smaller touch screen. Some of the applications which are designed specifically for Honeycomb have controls and buttons which are perfect for touching on a 10.1in screen, but which are just a shade too small to accurately hit on something a couple of inches smaller.
This is a point that Harry McCracken makes very well in his post on how it must be possible to build a good 7in tablet. As Harry puts it:
No, the reason that a 7″ iPad seems unlikely in the short term is because it would only have a shot at greatness if it had an interface and apps designed with a 7″ display in mind. A 7″ tablet isn’t just a big smartphone, and it’s not a tinier 9.7″ tablet. Building a 7″ iPad by essentially making the iPhone’s pixels larger or the iPad’s pixels smaller would be the wrong way to go about it.
Part of the problem that Android tablets face is that the free-form nature of Android development means that any vendor can decide on sizes and simply hack its own version of the operating system on to the tablet. If Android applications then don’t fit properly, it’s not the vendor’s problem. It’s just the user’s
Here’s an early Christmas present for me and for quite a few of my friends and colleagues: Scrivener, the marvellous long-form writing tool for Mac, is coming to iPad and iPhone:
It’s still early days, though – we are about to embark on the design process proper, and all we can say in terms of a release date is that our iPad and iPhone versions will be out some time in 2012
There’s a link to share your ideas about what should be in it too. I know from my perspective the thing I’d like to see are integration with iCloud on both the iOS and Mac side, so that I could seamlessly carry on working on a project no matter where I was.