Tag: NPD

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen


Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU: Part One

Wednesday’s IDF Keynote started by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of lives lost on 9-11 in 2001. From there, it was business as usual with product hype and promises of future success.

Intel seems to be spotlighting health. It opened with a feel-good video of Jack Andraka, child prodigy and biology whiz. Andraka is a high school sophomore who won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in December 2012 for inventing a new method to detect a lethal form of pancreatic cancer.

From there, Intel moved into its theme of “The Internet of Things.” One thing that aroused curiosity was a dull white plastic wristband on every seat. It became an attention-getter later in the programme. In the meantime, everyone got a shot at the podium to talk about their pet project.

Doug Fisher, VP General Manager Software and Services Group, gave a few brief remarks, then introduced Dr. Herman Eul, VP General Manager Mobile and Communications Group. He started off with a video about MTV and Intel getting together to improve the audience’s experience because they do not really understand how wireless works, and what are its limitations.

Eul said the goal is to make the mobile platform smarter, the CPU more powerful, and the imaging performance better. He did a brief introduction of “Bay Trail,” the next-generation Atom Z3000 ,  focusing on it being used as a gaming platform. He showed that it is capable of running Windows – which is called heavy legacy software – or running Android OS, Apple OS, Chrome OS, or Linux OS. Bay Trail is a 64-bit processor, built using Intel’s Silvermont 22nm micro-architecture. There will be six variants of the chip available – with dual and quad-core configurations. Clock speeds will range from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

Bay Trail’s Hardware and Software supports:  

  • Windows (32/64-bit) and/or Android and/or Chrome
  • Displays resolutions up to 2500 x 1600 (Retina display)
  • Dual independent displays
  • Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology
  • Up to 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • USB 3, HDMI, Displayport, SD card, NFC, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS
  • X 11, Open GL 3.0 graphics
  • Up to 13MP camera on the rear with Zero shutter lag, burst mode, digital video stabilization, 1080p recording at 60FPS and up to 2MP on the front.

Eul then brought Victoria Molina on stage, a fashion industry consultant and former executive for Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, and the Gap, who explained her virtual shopping experience application. They developed it using the Intel Android SDK in about a week  – but gave no information on the experience level of their programmers.

Molina said the most important part of this application is the fit map, an important factor in making the apparel attractive on the wearer, to attain a “cool” outcome. The application uses an avatar based around the person’s measurements, height and weight, and a facial photograph. The shopper goes out to the web site where they want to shop and chooses the clothing to virtually try on before purchasing. Next, the website pulls up sample clothing from their product lines.

After you build your ensemble of clothing, then you can adjust the clothing so the fit is tight, medium, or loose. After deciding on your look, you go through the “Cat Walk” show-n-tell process. That means the avatar is dressed with each one of the outfits in the size and drape you want and it looks like you are a model on a fashion show runway. Molina said, “This will revolutionise the online shopping experience. Because of the huge “cool factor”.

Next, Intel focused on a Bay Trail small-form-factor tablet running and editing videos. Eul invited Jerry Shen, chief executive of Asus, to introduce its T100, a 2-in-1 Bay Trail notebook with over ten hours of battery life. “We are very excited about the Bay Trail quad-core promise,” Shen said.

Asus is more optimistic than Intel regarding battery longevity. Intel claims Bay Trail tablets could weigh as little 14.1 ounces and offer more than eight hours of battery life when the users are watching high-definition video.

Neil Hand, Dell’s VP of Tablets, showed its  Venue 8-inch, Windows 8.1, Bay Trail tablet that is going to be shipping soon. He said it has 4G LTE.
Eul talked briefly about upcoming Merryfield, a 22nm SoC which is build on the Silvermont architecture specifically for smartphones. We were told that Airmont, a 14nm process engineering SoC with all the features of Bay Trail for tablets, is on schedule for Q3 2014 release.

Finally, Eul satisfied our curiosity by showing his audio DJ idea which activated those dull white plastic bracelets that were sitting on each chair. A video was projected onto the giant screens in the auditorium showing the Keynote audience and the wristbands lighting up in synch with Eul’s music.

The presentation took another turn with Kirk Skaugen, Senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel which will be covered in part two.

Windows 8 sales are rubbish

While Microsoft has claimed that it has sold more than 40 million Windows 8 licences in the month since launching, a new report suggests that figure is garbage.

Beancounters at research firm NPD say that this figure is not helping sales of actual Windows devices, which are down 21 percent from last year.

It said that desktop sales dropped nine percent over the last year and notebooks fell 24 percent.

Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, said that after just four weeks on the market, it’s still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market.

Things could get better during the holiday selling season but it is starting to look like Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for.

More than 58 percent of Windows devices sold in the last month are running Windows 8. However Windows 7 had a figure of 83 percent of devices four weeks after launch.

Tablets running the operating system represent a mere one percent of sales to date, which means that Microsoft’s hopes to do well in that market are also looking dashed.

To make matters worse, the average selling price of a Windows machine has also jumped “significantly” this year, in the firm’s estimation, from $433 to $477.

This could be due in part to touch-screen laptops, which are more expensive. However, increased prices are never a good idea during a recession.

In the long term, Baker thought the move to touch-screens will pay off, particularly as that is the area where Windows 8 truly shines.

He said that these products accounted for six percent of Windows 8 notebook sales at an average price of $867, helping to re-establish a premium segment to the Windows consumer notebook market.

TV shipments faced steep quarterly decline

TV shipments fell eight percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, which is the steepest rate of decline seen since Q2 2009.

A report from NPD Displaysearch, Advanced Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report, revealed that total TV shipments for Q1 2012 were 51 million units. The industry can thank a slowdown in LCD TV shipments primarily for the decline, which was the first drop ever in the history of the category. LCD TV shipments decreased three percent, at 43 million units.

The share of LCD TV shipments fell from Q4 2011 thanks to a seasonal shift to emerging markets where the focus for CRT models is higher. Year on year this share is up, however, four percentage points to 84.2 percent. 40″ and larger screen size models have been taking share from plasma TV demand, which dropped 18 percent year on year. Consumers are mostly no longer interested, and when they are, it is low price, 2D HD models that are attractive.

According to NPD Displaysearch, average LCD TV screen sizes increased five percent year on year in the quarter, passing the 35″ mark for the first time. There were gains made in emerging and mature markets. More affordable backlit LED sets contributed to a rise from 51 percent in Q4 2011 to 56 percent in Q1 2012 in the category, a sizeable gain of 20 percentage points year on year.

Of all the markets, China is the top region for demand. It represented 20 percent of all units shipped in the quarter, though this was down slightly from Q4 2011. NPD Displaysearch says flat panel TVs are beginning to saturate higher-income urban markets in the country, but prices are not affordable for upgrades in rural markets. APAC was the second highest region for shipments, then North America, and Western Europe.

Manufacturers who bet the farm on 3D sets in the mature markets could be surprised to hear that demand for 3D in emerging regions outpaced developed regions slightly – 16 percent of flat panel TVs went to emerging markets in the quarter, compared to 15 percent in developed regions.

Samsung ruled the roost in flat panels again, with revenue share hovering around the 26 percent mark, approaching record levels. It was the only brand in the top five to bring in year on year revenue growth for the quarter. It also topped the charts in LCD TV, 40″+ LED-backlit LCD, and 3D TV. LGE was second, topping its market share up significantly to reach 14.5 percent revenue share. Then there was Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic. Sony and Panasonic both posted a significant drop in year-on-year revenues.

Panel market to bounce back in 2013

Industry watchers at NPD Displaysearch claim that, despite all the doom and gloom poised for the panel market – not helped by a predicted economic nosedive into a second recession – long term, there should be “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Although flat panel display manufacturers have lost heaps of money for the past six quarters, and the market is in the middle of its longest ever downturn, most players have frozen almost all expansion plans for LCD TV fabs, according to NPD. Lower prices are increasing demand, especially for large screen TVs. Thanks to those factors, the industry is slowly beginning to sort itself out and is approaching something resembling balance.

2013 should become a turning point. The oversupply should drop under 10 percent for the first time since 2010, NPD says, which should lead to improved panel pricing, better profits, and an increase in investment.

For now, though, the equipment market will really have to tighten its collective belt. NPD believes that this segment is in line for a “severe recession” in 2012, taking a substantial hit to the tune of 63 percent from 2011. Thanks to AMOLED production lines, this should bounce back somewhat in 2013.

IGZO based LCDs, too, are expected to give a boost to the market. Mass production began in the fourth quarter of 2011. Although at first IGZO LCDs will find their home in LCD tablet and Ultrabook displays, eventually they will become more widespread in high resolution large LCD TVs and in some AMOLEDs.

China upending solar tools industry

Some solar panel tool suppliers are being bolstered by solid growth and investments in the Asia Pacific region bucking the general trend of an industry slow-down and overcapacity problems. 

Equipment giant Applied Materials will be the biggest beneficiary in revenues. It is accompanied by a new string of Chinese tool suppliers, according to NPD Solarbuzz, including Apollo, 48th Research Institute, Jinggong and Jingyuntong. The lot of them are penned in for a compound annual growth rate over 200 percent in just the years between 2008 to 2011. 

While the Chinese players are doing well, many of their European counterparts have found their offerings upended by the relatively cheap competition. This will be offset by excellent expected photovoltaic tool revenues from some corners in 2011, with Centrotherm, Meyer Burger, Schmid, Amtech-Tempress, DEK-Solar and RENA likely to post record revenues.

There are suppliers who face yearly revenue declines going into 2012. They are mostly companies which have to deal with crystalline silicon ingot-to-module manufacturing stages, although GT Advanced Technologies is managing to fend off weakening market conditions and looks set to be strong throughout the year.

Overcapacity problems plagued the crystalline silicon supply chain throughout 2011, with the miracle of unanticipated demand surges at the end of 2012 the only hope for c-Si lines.

Excess inventories and overcapacity throughout 2011 means, says NPD Solarbuzz, that manufacturers are now trying to hold onto their dwindling reserves and keep the books balanced for 2012.

There will be more equipment spending in the future, but for now that is largely dependent on end-market demand. 

NPD Solarbuzz expects a shift in strategic planning for companies to claw back revenue in 2012. Senior analyst Finlay Colville says that success “will be provided to those suppliers that can align product portfolios with equipment process chains, that are economic in the new low cost PV manufacturing environment.”

Entertainment hardware and software down the pan

The entertainment hardware and software market has fallen to its lowest level since 2006.

Beancounters at NPD Group have been adding up numbers and dividing by their shoe size and come to the conclusion that sales of consoles and video games in the US had fallen by 14 per cent in May to $743 million.

A spokesNPD said that the decline is mostly due to a light schedule of new releases. Only 42 new games were released in May compared to 58 in the same month a year ago.

This has meant that promotional activity at retail and in circulars had been reduced and this stuffed up the whole industry.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier, in a statement, said that the top selling games were L.A. Noire by Take-Two, Brink, by Bethesda Softworks and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game by Disney

She thinks that the loss in hardware, software and accessories could also be due to gamers spending more on online content and not buying new gear.

Hardware sales fell five per cent to $229 million, software sales fell 19 per cent to $376 million and accessories sales fell six per cent to $114 million.

Sales of Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 videogame consoles in May were greater than those in the same month last year. But the market appears to have been gutted by people walking away from the Nintendo Wii. 

Tablet cannabalisation of netbooks is a myth

Analyst outfit NPD has told the world to ignore the spin about tablets killing the PC market.

While some analyst firms claim that Steve Job’s iPad is killing the PC, NPD said the argument is rubbish.

NPD’s Stephen Baker disagrees, saying that the rate of cannibalisation has actually dropped in recent months which would not happen if they were being replaced by tablets.  If people want a netbook with a keyboard they can and will buying them. Those who fall for the idea that it is better to buy a netbook without a keyboard are also buying them anyway.

His report, with the catchy title “Apple iPad Owner Study II” found that only 14 percent of early iPad buyers chose an iPad instead of a PC. And over the recent holiday season, that number dropped to 12 percent.

The report claims that cannibalisation of netbooks by the iPad has dropped 50 percent with recent iPad buyers when compared to earlier adopters.

iPad purchases to-date, by a large majority, have been incremental to the consumer technology industry, Baker said.

When Windows 7 went on sale in 2009, Netbook sales had been surging for months. Since the iPad’s appearance it has been the higher-priced notebooks more than their less-expensive netbooks that suffered.

NPD’s Retail Tracking Service found that sales of notebooks under $500 actually grew by 21 percent over the six months that ended in March.

The idea that tablet sales are eating into low-priced notebooks is incorrect. It is the over $500 Windows consumer notebook market where PC sales have been impacted the most, the report claims, with a 25 percent decline from October 2010 to March 2011. 

LCD TVs make it to buyers Black Friday shopping lists

LCD TVs will be top on shoppers buying lists this Black Friday according to the NPD group.

The market research company has said that LED-backlit LCD TV prices have fallen 44 percent from October 2009 to October 2010 to $1,106, while traditional (CCFL) LCD TVs have also seen significant price drops, declining 24 percent to $435.

Ross Rubin, executive director of Industry Analysis at NPD, said: “Holiday circulars consistently feature flat-panel TVs as the marquee door buster electronics category on Black Friday.”

 He said the price drops this year are as a result of retailers seeking to offset several months of year-over-year flat-panel revenue drops driven by slowing price declines and rising household penetration.

“While LED TV pricing is dropping more quickly than that of traditional LCD sets, LED-backlit models still command a significant price premium,” he added.

Graph1The company however pointed out that while prices for LED chips are falling steadily, the pricing dynamic for the LCD panels themselves is somewhat more complex. This is because after the economic downturn, demand returned quicker than expected in 2009, and the supply chain was faced with product shortages during the second half of the year that fed rising prices for LCD TV panels into the first half of 2010.

Since it takes about three months to move through the LCD TV supply chain, the rising panel prices led to slower average selling price declines at retail during the first half of 2010.

“Because profit margins have thinned in the LCD TV category, brands and retailers are somewhat at the mercy of the supply chain when trying to push retail prices lower,” added Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV market research at DisplaySearch.

“The result has been a cooling of growth in some markets, such as the US. As often happens in such cycles, the resulting slowdown in demand for key components including LCD TV panels has once again shifted the supply chain back towards oversupply.”

LCD TV panel prices began falling once again in Q2’10 particularly for the two most popular size categories, 32” and 40/42”, which were 10 percent and 5 percent lower in Q3’10 than they were in Q3’09. Gagon warned that the falling panel prices in Q2’10 and Q3’10 will have a direct effect on retail pricing during the Q4’10 holiday.

“If consumers remain sensitive to falling prices, it could help jump start demand in the US,” Gagnon concluded.


Germans want National Democrats banned from Facebook

Over 100,000 Germans have flocked to join a group on Facebook, demanding the profile of right-wing extremist party NPD be taken down and deleted.

The group, called “Kein Facebook für Nazis – NPD Seite löschen!” (“No Facebook for Nazis – delete the NPD page!”) was started four days ago – member numbers have since been skyrocketing. By comparison, the Facebook profile of the NPD merely has 1,162 fans.

Facebook is currently being flooded with abuse reports stating the NPD profile is racist and inciting hate. However, the NPD profile itself does not include any unlawful or unruly content – the party may be stupid, but it is not downright daft.

Adhering to Facebook’s policy rules will protect the profile from being deleted, under the banner of free-speech. German Facebook competitor StudiVZ.de however has a different stance on right-wing user content. Any extremist content is forbidden, which includes NPD, Germany’s highly unsuccesful equivalent to Britain’s BNP.

The well-intended group calling for deletion will merely give its members a nice, warm feeling of doing a good thing and being involved in political action whilst not having to leave  the armchair, couch or bed at the same time. However, Germans enjoy taking
an active stance against right-wing extremists in real life. The three nationalist parties NPD, Republikaner (Republicans) and Pro-NRW together only garnered 2.4 percent of votes during elections in the state of Northrhine-Westfalen.

By comparison, left-wing party “Die Linke” was voted into state parliament, receiving 5.6 percent of votes. However, 12.1 percent of voters elected the Green Party, making it the third largest party behind the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. The Pirate Party managed 1.5 percent, or more than 190,000 votes – compared to a mere 1000 plus votes during the UK’s parliamentary elections.

Things are going well in Germany, which, as a consequence of having two totalitarian regimes on its soil in the last 60 years, has very alert activists reacting to decision-making which would threaten personal freedoms and individual rights – a Digital Economy Bill could not even be drafted in Germany.