Tag: IDC

IDG wants to become a Chinese takeaway

 

chinese-take-out-400x300Tech publishers International Data Group, better known as IDG is in talks to flog itself off to a Chinese investor group for up to  $1 billion.

IDG owns important magazines like PC World and the market research firm IDC. The buyer is understood to be a group led by IDG of Greater China chairman Hugo Shong.

The identity of the other investors in the group and the exact size of the deal could not be learned. The privately held company had been seeking a valuation of $500 million to $1 billion.

Founded in 1964, IDG has grown to be one of the largest global trade publishers, with hundreds of tech-focused websites and magazines.

However, since its founder and long-time CEO, Pat McGovern, died two years ago things have not gone well. Advertising has vanished and the internet has taken out huge chunks of the print business.

IDG said in January that its board of directors hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore strategic options.

China is a bright star in IDG’s business. McGovern was very early to see the importance of China, and IDG has been doing business there since 1980, when it launched ComputerWorld China.

IDG’s focus on business rather than politics, helped the company get an early foothold in China and steer clear of press restrictions.

The Chinese buyout group will likely need to seek approval from the US Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), the government panel that considers deals over national security concerns before finalizing any deal.  The US government is also less likely to look favourably on Chinese buy-outs under the current Republican administration.

Donald Prince of Orange made some attacks on China during the election campaign which has made the future of that country’s investment in the United States even less certain.

If the IDG deal is completed, it would be the latest media asset to be sold to Chinese investors, following deals this year including Wanda’s $1 billion announced acquisition of Dick Clark Productions this month.

World’s first computer told fortunes just like Big G

antikethera-mechanismeThe world’s first computer was the Ancient Greek IDC or Gartner Group of its day, according to researchers.

The Antikythera Mechanism was once thought to be used for navigation but a decades-long investigation into the 2,000-year-old-device has worked out that it may have been used for more than just astronomy and was a key divination tool.

It had been known that the bronze gears and displays was used to predict lunar and solar eclipses, along with the positions of the sun, moon, and planets.  However, without a user manual, boffins have been trying to work out what it did using the same method that people work out how to programme their video recorders.

The Katerina Laskaridis Historical Foundation Library in Greece had a deeper look into the tiny inscriptions meticulously etched onto the outer surfaces of its 82 surviving fragments. Some of these letters measure just 1.2 millimetres (1/20th of an inch) across, and are engraved on the inside covers and visible front and back sections of the device. To do it, the researchers used cutting-edge imaging techniques, including x-ray scanning.

Mike Edmunds, a professor of astrophysics at Cardiff University said that the original investigation was intended to see how the mechanism works, and that was very successful.

“What we hadn’t realized was that the modern techniques that were being used would allow us to read the texts much better both on the outside of the mechanism and on the inside than was done before.”

There are 3,500 characters of explanatory text within the device.

The researchers described the machine as a kind of philosopher’s instructional device. The new analysis confirms that the mechanism displayed planets, while also showing the position of the sun and the moon in the sky. This was because it was used for divination. The researchers suspect this because some of the inscriptions on the device refer to the colour of a forthcoming eclipse.

The colour of an eclipse was some sort of omen or signal. Some colours might be better for what’s coming than others.

It was not a research tool for astronomers; it was more something you would use to teach about the cosmos and our place in the cosmos.

There is nothing in the Greek to suggest it could be used by an Ancient Version of IDC predicting a downturn in the Antikythera Mechanism, but it could well have been.

Smartphone sales are flat

2008-08-19_Flat_tireBeancounters at IDC have been adding up the numbers and dividing them by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that smartphone sales are flatter than the Netherlands.

According to IDC, vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide last quarter. This figure is up just 0.2 percent from the 334.3 million units in Q1 2015, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record.

Samsung is the smartphone king. In Q1 2016, the South Korean company once again shipped more smartphones than any other vendor. In fact, Samsung out-shipped the next two smartphone maker, Apple and Huawei, combined.

Samsung’s market share actually decreased by 0.1 percentage points (from 24.6 percent to 24.5 percent), and it shipped fewer smartphones (81.9 million). IDC said that the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge “sold vigorously” in March, helped by numerous carrier promotions that pushed volume. In emerging markets, Samsung performed well with its more affordable J Series.

Apple fell 3.0 points to 15.3 percent. It was the first year on year decline for the company in Q1. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus failed to deliver. The cheaper smaller iPhone SE is doing better than expected but is unlikely to pull Apple’s nadgers out of the fire.

Huawei, meanwhile, grabbed 3.0 points (to 8.2 percent), Oppo jumped 3.3 points (to 5.5 percent), and Vivo gained 2.4 points (to 4.3 percent).

Oppo and Vivo pushed out previous fourth and fifth place players Lenovo and Xiaomi. This indicates that  China’s smartphone market is maturing and competition is fierce.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s mobile phone team, said that outside of China, many of these brands are virtually unknown and the ability of these rapidly growing Chinese vendors to gain entry into mature markets such as the United States and Western Europe will be essential if they have aspirations of catching Apple or Samsung at the top.

“While Huawei is furthest along in terms of international recognition, selling equally impressive volumes outside of China remains a challenge for many of these brands, whether it is Xiaomi, Lenovo, OPPO, or vivo. Their ability to drive local growth no longer applies when it comes to international expansion, where premium branding quickly turns to price competition.”

PC shipments fall further

elepantsIt looks like any hopes that Windows 10’s launch might improve PC sales have proven wrong and sales of PCs have dropped further.

Beancounters at market research firm Gartner have added up the numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that worldwide shipments of personal computers fell 7.7 percent to 73.7 million units in the third quarter as a stronger dollar made them costlier.

Across town another group of beancounters at IDC said shipments fell 10.8 percent to 71 million units.

Gartner also said the Windows 10 launch in the quarter had minimal impact on shipments as users chose to upgrade to Windows 10 on existing PCs.

Gartner said analysts “see some signs for future stabilization and growth” in the PC market. The firm said in July that it did not expect the global PC market to recover until 2016.

Jay Chou, research manager at IDC Worldwide PC Tracker said that the PC market continues to contract as expected, but he remained optimistic about future shipments.

While it is nice to see that someone is optimistic in these dark, cynical times, it is not as if the PC market could get much worse and it is hard to see what, short of a lightning bolt from Zeus is going to wake it up.

Quanta meditates on Indian move

15-days-yoga-meditation-and-trekking-retreat-in-the-indian-himalayasQuanta is considering establishing a manufacturing base in India, in another sign that all is not well for electronics outfits operating looking behind the Bamboo Curtain to provide them with cheap labour.

Quanta vice-chairman C.C. Leung said the company was gathering materials for evaluation and looking into it.

Quanta’s rival Hon Hai Precision Industry, announced that it was investing billions of dollars into establishing 10 to 12 facilities in India by 2020.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to reboot manufacturing to boost growth and employment but it is yet to rival China, particularly in technology where most factories will likely be assembly units.

Leung said the company has no specific investment plans at present. He said that there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account when evaluating India’s suitability for manufacturing.

It depends on convenient transportation and access to ports and getting the whole tech supply chain working.

The company said that its PC shipment volume and revenue contribution from PCs should remain about the same this year as last year, despite a 6.2 percent drop in shipments industry-wide predicted by market watchers IDC.

PC sales continue to fall

Global personal computer shipments fell in the first three months of 2014.

This represents the eighth straight quarter of decline, and it could have been worse had the industry not received a boost from companies replacing aging XP computers.

Beancounters at IDC said that PC shipments in the March quarter were down 4.4 percent compared with the same quarter in 2013,

IDC had previously expected a 5.3 percent dip for the quarter so things were a little better than it expected.

It said that shipments in the first quarter got a bump as companies replaced their older PCs ahead of the end of the Windows XP operating system, which Microsoft stopped supporting this week.

IDC remains convinced that the fall in PC sales is created by people continuing to buy  tablets and smartphones.

“The transition to more mobile devices and usage modes is unlikely to stop, although the short-term impact on PC shipments may slow as tablet penetration rises,” IDC said.

“There is potential for PC shipments to stabilise, but not much opportunity for growth.”

IDC said 73.4 million PC were shipped in this quarter. All this will be bad news for Intel which is due to post its first-quarter results later today. Analysts on average expect the chipmaker’s revenue to have grown about two percent. 

Smartphone shipments expected to fall

The mobile revolution appears to be grinding to a halt as IDC expects a slow down in smartphone shipments at least until 2018.

Beancounters at IDC have been shuffling their Tarot cards and see that there will be a sharp drop in the growth in global smartphone shipments this year and keep slowing through 2018.

The report predicts that average prices will drop significantly as demand shifts to China and other developing countries.

Annual growth in 2014 is expected to be 19.3 percent and then decline to 6.2 percent in 2018, IDC said in a report. That follows a 39.2 percent jump in 2013 when smartphone shipments topped 1 billion units for the first time.

This reinforces concerns on Wall Street that the explosion in is coming to an end, at least in the United States and other developed countries where consumers favour pricey, top-tier handsets.

Smartphone growth in North America and Europe is expected to shrink to single digits and Japan could even see a slight slowdown in shipments in the next few years, IDC said.

Manufacturers are increasingly focusing on China where many consumers are upgrading from basic mobiles to smartphones selling for under $300.

“New markets for growth bring different rules to play by and ‘premium’ will not be a major factor in the regions driving overall market growth,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said in a report.

The average selling price for smarpthones last year was $335, already far below flagship devices like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4, and will fall to $260 by 2018, IDC said. 

Low cost Android spurs 208 percent tablet growth in Middle East, Africa

Tablets have passed PC growth for the first time in the Middle East and Africa region, according to IDC data.

Tablet shipments for the quarter were up an enormous 208 percent year on year – managing 2.79 million units. By vendor, Apple was on top, but the Android OS was to thank for the most growth – grabbing 2 million of the total. Windows OS did not gain much traction.

IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey analyst Victoria Mendes said Apple’s iPad mini launch did not stop the company losing share to Android, particularly as customers in the region were cost conscious. But this could be somewhat offset by an expected Apple launch before the end of 2013.

Apple’s market share for the second quarter, 2013, was 24.44 percent – with Samsung not far behind at 22.48 percent. Next of the typical big brands were Lenovo, Asustek, and Acer, although other brannd tablets took a formidable 40.82 percent of the whole market.

This is in line with Mendes’ insistence that low cost tablets are spurring demand in the region – whether they’re from the expected multinationals or from other APAC brands. 

“The main focus of every vendor now is to secure its position in the market by grabbing the biggest share possible from the two tablet giants of Apple and Samsung,” Mendes said.

Apple continues to lose market share

Although you would not know it, Apple is fast sliding towards a state where it will have the same market share of smartphones market that it has for PCs.

While it’s mostly reported that Apple as being the top smartphone manufacturer that does not really shine any light on how enormour or competitive the market really is.

According to IDC, Apple makes just 13.2 percent of the smartphones on the market – and that number is falling. Last quarter it was 16.6 percent. Samsung has a larger market share than Apple, and the rest of the market is largely carved up by othere Android devices.

Google’s Android OS has increased its global market share to 79.3 percent in the second quarter from 69.1 percent at the sime time last year.

BlackBerry dropped to 2.9 percent from 4.9 percent in 2012. It has fallen behind Microsoft, which is now at number four in OS share.

IDC said that the main reason Apple has doing so well is that that its phones are so much more expensive than Android gear, so there’s a higher profit margin. Excluding subsisidies from phone companies, the average iPhone cost $710 in 2012 – roughly $300 more than the average smartphone.

But that higher price tag is also denting mass sales. IDC estimated that Apple’s second-quarter profit was $5.99 billion with an operating margin of 33 percent, compared to Samsung’s profit of $5.63 billion profit with a 19 percent operating margin. 

Global tablet sales slow

IDC, which has repeatedly talked up the importance of Apple in mobile, made the somewhat strange claim that the reason the tablet market is suffering is because everyone is waiting for a new tablet from Cupertino.

Instead of just saying that the global tablet sales slowed during the second quarter,  IDC could not resist telling us that the whole tablet market should reignite with the expected release of a new iPad model later this year.

One would think that the whole of the tablet market was dependant on Apple, rather than the trillions of other tablets which are out there.

IDC’s Tom Mainelli said that a new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors.

A quarter-over-quarter slowdown in sales was expected given that Apple did not release a new version of the iPad early in the year as it had in the past, according to IDC analysts.

This strikes us as an odd thing to say given that his figures clearly show that, while Apple is the single biggest company making iPads, its control of the market has collapsed.

According to IDC, Apple shipped 14.6 million iPads in the second quarter of 2013, a 14 percent drop from the 17 million tablets it shipped in Q2 2013. Over that same time, Android tablet shipments surged from 10.7 million in Q2 2012 to 28.2 million in Q2 2013, an increase of 163 percent.

Apple held a 60.3 percent market share and Android held a 38 percent market share in Q2 2012, Android now holds a 62.6 percent market share and Apple holds a 32.5 percent market share.

Global tablet shipments in the second quarter of this year declined 9.7 percent from the prior three-month period.

“A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors,” Mainelli claimed.

IDC’s theory that people were waiting for Apple to release a new tablet does not really work.

IDC reports tablet shipments climbed nearly 60 percent to 45.1 million units when compared with the same quarter a year earlier. This is the same period that Apple did not release a tablet and therefore could not grab much interest. The theory that Apple is directing market interest is a little tricky when it did not release a model during a period of 60 percent growth.

Meanwhile, sales of tablets grew for Apple rivals Samsung, Asus, Lenovo and Acer, market figures showed.

IDC noted that Microsoft fuelled products were starting to make progress into the market.

About 2 million Windows powered tablets were shipped in the second quarter in an increase of more than five times from the same three-month period last year, according to IDC.