Tag Archives: iPad

iPad market share rises

So much for the iPad killers:

Apple managed to gain market share in tablets at the very time that many of its new competitors were supposed to be taking that share away, IDC said Wednesday. Having full access to data from the past spring, it found that the iPad had gained share, moving up from 65.7 percent at the start of the year to 68.3 percent. Multiple Android tablets’ arrivals only led to Google’s share shrinking, dropping from 34 percent in early 2011 to 26.8 percent mid-year.

Review: Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2

Make no mistake about it: the iPad’s on-screen keyboard is actually very good. You can easily rattle off a quick email or tweet with it, and some more proficient users have been known to write several hundred words without their fingers falling off.

But not everyone gets on with it, and if you’re a professional write then you’ll probably hit its limitations. Compared to even a poor-quality physical keyboard, the iPad’s virtual one simply feels weird.

Apple’s preferred solution is for you to use the iPad with its own excellent Bluetooth keyboard. However, this means you also have to carry around something to prop the iPad up with, and although Apple’s keyboard is slim, it’s still bulky and likely to rattle around a bag. What’s more, using it on a lap (like, say, a laptop) is tricky.

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Why can’t anyone match the iPad?

To put it simply no one can match the iPad because no one can match Apple’s prices with a tablet that matches its features:

When better equipped (though bulkier) netbooks can be had for $250, tablet-makers need to set their sights below $200. There is just one problem: the cost of the components currently used comes to more than that. According to the market research firm iSuppli, the basic TouchPad cost Hewlett-Packard $306 to build.

At the moment, as The Economist correctly points out, Google’s strategy isn’t working either:

But the ultimate killer feature that Android and other tablets have failed to replicate is the care Apple took from the start to ensure enough iPhone applications were available that took full advantage of the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. Today, over 90,000 of the 475,000 applications available online from Apple’s App Store fully exploit the much larger screen size. By contrast, only a paltry 300 or so of the nearly 300,000 apps for Android phones have been fully optimised for the Honeycomb version of the Android operating system developed for tablets—though many of the rest scale up with varying degrees of success.

There simply isn’t enough incentive at the moment to develop applications which fully take advantage of Honeycomb. And Google doesn’t appear to be pushing developers to do it.

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Come on Lenovo, you can do better than this

Lenovo IdeaPad K1.jpg It’s not even out yet, and already the Lenovo IdeaPad — the Chinese manufacturer’s attempt to crack the tablet market — is getting something of a savaging:

The IdeaPad K1 has been in development in one form or another for a year and a half, yet it still isn’t ready. And even if it had hit the market a year ago, it wouldn’t have been good enough (at least in its current form) to go head-to-head with the original iPad. The K1′s hardware is chunky and cheap-feeling, its screen is washed out, and the software is unstable to the point of being unusable at times. It sounds harsh, but when you can pick up the iPad 2 or the Galaxy Tab 2 for just $499, the $50 you save by getting a K1 doesn’t seem close to worth it — unless, of course, you think there’s some value in buggy software.

So it’s shitty hardware, buggy software, and not even comparable to the iPad of a year ago?

It certainly isn’t getting anywhere near the point that Lenovo’s CEO, Yang Yuanquing, is after:

Apple only covers the top tier. With a $500 price you cannot go to the small cities, townships, low salary class, low income class. I don’t want to say we want to significantly lower the price, rather our strategy is to provide more categories, to cover different market segments.

So much for that. If Lenovo can make an expensive tablet this bad, just how bad will one be if they push the price down?

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The unedifying arrogance of PC journalists

Barry Collins is angry. Specifically, Barry is almost splenetic about what he sees as “Apple’s unedifying arrogance” in its response to the brouhaha over the database which your iPhone carries of locations.

In particular, Barry is vexed over what he sees as Apple’s slipperiness over whether it’s tracking your location, describing its explanation as…

“at best, a distortion of the truth. Yes, the iPhone may only be plotting the location of Wi-Fi hotspots and 3G cell towers, but that’s often more than enough to build up an accurate picture of your whereabouts.”

Sorry, Barry, but that’s utter nonsense.

If I say to you “I’m tracking the location of your phone” that suggests that I have data from your phone which shows your location, tied to you (or rather, to your phone).  But no information which is identifiable to you or your phone is transmitted to Apple. The data which is sent to Apple isn’t tied to anything identifiable about your particular phone.

As Apple puts it:

“This data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple cannot identify the source of this data.”

Therefore, Apple is not tracking the location of your phone. It’s really as simple as that.

Remember, too, that the majority of the data in the consolidated.db database isn’t actually from your phone – it’s downloaded from Apple’s servers to your phone to speed up the process of any app which calls CoreLocation to determine where you are (which apps do with your explicit consent).

To quote Apple’s release:

“This data is not the iPhone’s location data—it is a subset (cache) of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database which is downloaded from Apple into the iPhone to assist the iPhone in rapidly and accurately calculating location.”

And there would be no way for someone who gets hold of your phone, jailbreaks it, and grabs than database to determine which was data originating from you, and which from Apple. So they best “location” they could get for you is effectively regional in scale: it can tell you roughly whereabouts you tend to go, but not in a way which lets you determine when exactly you went there or even if you’ve ever been to a particular place.

Of course, the real “unedifying arrogance” that Barry is bothered about isn’t really that of Apple towards consumers:

“And what’s all this about “very complex technical issues” that are “hard to communicate in a soundbite”? That’s a bit rich from the company that sprinkles soundbites like confetti in keynote speeches, describing its iPad as “magical” without revealing even the most basic of specs – like how much memory the tablet has.

Give us as much technical detail as you like, Apple: we can handle it. If we get stuck, we can even pick up the phone and ask your press officers, in the unlikely event they’ll ever answer a question.” [My emphasis]

Aha. There you have it. The reason that Barry – and plenty of other tech journalists – call Apple arrogant is mainly because Apple doesn’t jump when the journalists tell them. Apple, in fact, has a very bad reputation amongst tech journalists for being one of the least responsive companies out there. And that reputation is, I can tell you from years of experience, entirely justified.

But in this case, I think it’s not really relevant. Apple took its time, determined what the issue was and how they could fix it, and spoke clearly about what the problem was. There really isn’t much more to say about it.

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Which Android tablet is actually selling like hot cakes?

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Goes on Sale for $399, Sells Out Immediately

“This mirrors the Tranformer’s success in the UK where its first three production runs have already sold out. Either Asus didn’t anticipate high demand and lowballed their stock, or the Eee Pad Transformer is the perfect example of what can happen when you mix powerful hardware, Android Honeycomb, and the right price.”

My gut feeling is that the fact that the Transformer can be effectively turned into a netbook is making it much more attractive to one segment of the audience – one that wants a tablet occasionally but otherwise wants a small, light laptop.

It also shows that the way forward for Android tablets, at least for the time being, is to try and be different from the iPad rather than just being a (slightly hokey) alternative.

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Apple is dead in the water, redux

Charles Arthur, reporting for The Guardian on an IDC/Appcelerator survey of developers:

“App developer interest is shifting back toward Apple as fragmentation and “tepid” interest in current Android tablets chips away at Google’s recent gains in momentum, according to a new survey of more than 2,700 developers around the world.

In the survey, 91% of developers said they were “very interested” in iPhone development, and 86% said the same for the iPad. For Google, interest in Android phone add development fell 2 points to 85%, and for tablets – particularly Honeycomb – down three points to 71%, after having risen 12 points in the first quarter. The figures are within error margins for the survey, but don’t match the growing interest that has been seen in Android over the past year.”

Seems like developers didn’t get Fred Wilson’s memo, or heed the advice that iPhone was “dead in the water” from Henry “Screw the SEC” Blodget.

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So what does that location database on your phone really do?

Jim Smith, who knows a thing or two about mobile, pokes around in the controversial consolidated.db database on the iPhone and comes up with this:

“I’m pretty certain that consolidated.db is used to seed the assisted GPS used for iOS location servers. If you open the map, or check in via FourSquare, it will look to see if the cell you’re in is one it knows about. If it is, then that greatly reduces the need to look for satellites. This also explains why it doesn’t store the older  (or less accurate?) locations. My guess is that the algorithm says something like: have I been here before? If yes, is my accuracy better than last time? If yes, replace the old entry with a new one.”

Which answers the question that’s been bugging me, which is why that database wasn’t purged regularly. For this purpose, it’s important to keep it on your phone, where it can be queried fast.

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