Tag: tablet

PC sales continue to fall

elepantsCanalys analysts have been playing with their slide rules and worked out that PC sales have fallen 13 percent more than the previous year.

Total global PC shipments, including desktops, laptops, convertibles and tablets comprised 101 million units in the first quarter of 2016. This is the lowest total Canalys has recorded since the second quarter of 2011. Two in Ones did ok with a 13 percent growth but otherwise sales were weak.

Tim Coulling, Senior Analyst at Canalys said that shipments of two-in-ones and detachable tablets are expected to continue to do well in the US and will grow in high income markets.”

But that gear is too expensive to make much of an impact for a while.

“Although other vendors are coming to market with cheaper alternatives, they are unlikely to have a big impact on volumes in the short term.”

Tablet sales fell 15 percent compared to the previous year, Notebook shipments in EMEA plummeted 18 percent.

Canalys considers tablets as PCs.  Apple is the top vendor but not far ahead of Lenovo. Apple saw a fall of 17 percent  amounting to just over 14 million devices. Apple and Lenovo are effectively neck-and-neck which is a sign that any advantage Apple gained by popularising tablets has been lost to people who make the same thing better and cheaper.

All these figures tie to the recent Gartner figures for the first quarter of 2016, which showed a 9.6 percent drop compared to Q1 of 2015, with total shipments falling below 65 million units for the first time since 2007. That figure did not include tablets.

We all knew the market was rubbish but it does not seem like it is pulling out anytime soon.

Tablets dead after six years

tabletIn 2010 the Tame Apple Press told the world that tablets that Microsoft had wasted a decade trying to sell were “game-changers” and created a unique fad – a tech toy without a purpose.

In just six years tablets have disappeared. There weren’t any tablets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and no one is really interested.

Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG didn’t have any new tablets and did not mention them during their conferences.

Lenovo has released some cheap Android tablets. Huawei announced the MateBook which is more of a Surface Pro-like device running Windows 10 for laptops.

Part of the problem is that you can find good tablets for less than $200. And there’s no differentiating factor between Android tablets. Those that are in the market work fine and if you have got a use for it then you don’t need another one.

The last thing to kill it off is that phones have become bigger. This was something Jobs said could never happen and Apple fanboys were programmed to mock fablets even while they were trying to type messages on tiny screens with their sausage sized hands.

So it looks like tablets were nothing more than a fad which made Apple rich and provided little technological benefit. It was pretty much what I said when they first came out. But what is a Cassandra-channelling hack supposed to do against the heavy marketing skills and a tech press which has basically surrendered to a big corporation.

Apple will sell less iPhones

7e9ab0acfbfcbb07c89eeaa3c910d851Shares in Apple tanked after fears that it might sell less iPhones than it expected.

Since the end of the “game changing” tablet craze fizzled, the ipod died, and the iwatch was mocked, Apple has depended on recycling its iPhone to make it piles of dosh. Fortunately that had paid off, despite a shrinking smartphone market.

However it does not look like that will last – the Bank of America cut its estimate for fiscal 2016 iPhone shipments by 10 million to 220 million, pointing to a weakening among Apple’s suppliers.

Raymond James also lowered its estimate for 2016 iPhone shipments to 224 million from 229 million, also pointing to lacklustre expectations at Apple suppliers. Baird Equity Research trimmed its 2016 iPhone forecast to 234.7 million from 243.8 million.

While this might seem a lot of smartphones and arguably sold to people who do not need them, having bought a similar model a year earlier, Apple’s inflated share price depends on the market thinking it is going to continue to grow.

Sales, shares of Apple have fallen 4.4 percent over the past month and are down about 18 percent from record highs in April.

Apple supplier Imagination Technologies said softness in the overall semiconductor industry and smartphone market meant its operating profit would be lower than expected for the rest of its fiscal year.

Dialog Semi also cut its outlook, citing softer-than-expected demand for chips used in mobile phones such as the iPhone.

Reflecting increasing bets by Wall Street against Apple, short interest edged up to 1.9 percent of its outstanding shares at the end of November from 1.3 percent midway through the month, according to Nasdaq data.

Morgan Stanley said it expects iPhone unit sales to drop six percent in the 2016 calendar year as higher prices in markets outside Americas, excluding China, and maturing smartphone penetration in developed markets weigh on upgrades and new user growth.

Falling tablet sales spark closure

tabletA Taiwanese company has been forced to shut one of its plants as the sale of tablets fall even further.

Coretronics makes backlight modules used in Apple iPad said it was closing its Nanjing factories due to sluggish global demand for tablets.

Global shipments for monitors, notebooks and tablets are projected to drop an average 10 percent on year respectively in 2015. Overall demand is likely to remain stagnant because various applications markets are becoming saturated.

Coretronics spokeswoman Cindy Wen declined to say which products are produced at the Nanjing plant, or give details about its size. She said

Coretronics’ six other panel plants in China are still in operation.

Coretronics plants in Nanjing and Guangzhou in southern China are listed under Apple’s 2015 supplier list.

“Since last year the growth of tablet sales has become worse than previous years, and the market demand has been declining for several quarters,” Wen said.

“We might make some further adjustments in our production capacity in the future, but at the moment we do not have plans to close down more factories,” she added.

Apple’s cunning plan is coming unstuck

cunning-planApple’s cunning plan to elbow its way onto business systems is coming unstuck.

This week it released a Microsoft’s Surface clone in a bid to convince businesses that it was a serious company.

However, analysts say that Apple’s business plans are failing because, unlike the consumer market where brain dead fanboys will buy a dog turd if it had an Apple label, companies have more common sense. They are reluctant to switch software vendors and use an expensive device that lacks specialized business apps, analysts said.

Daniel Ives, a senior analyst at FBR Capital Markets said that Apple had tried to focus on the enterprise but over the last two years, it has not been successful. The enterprise market, which is how Apple refers to its business customers, represents 10 percent of its $183 billion annual revenue, he said.

It’s one big client has been General Electric who gave 305,000 employees the option to use Apple devices at work, with 20,000 iPads and 60,000 iPhones now available in their offices. Just 10,000 of its 170,000 office workers using computers on a regular basis use a Mac.

Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said the iPad Pro was faster than 80 percent of portable PCs, signalling that Apple may think the device could replace workplace laptops from companies like Dell and HP. Schiller called the iPad Pro “ideal for professional productivity.”

But it is hard to find an analyst, who does not have Apple shares, who thinks that the company will pull it off.

The price of its products is one obstacle Apple faces as it tries to move deeper into the enterprise market.

The iPad Pro starts at $799 but costs more than $1,000 if buyers also want a keyboard and an optional stylus. That’s more than Apple’s existing tablets as well as devices made by Microsoft and other PC makers like Lenovo. It’s about the same price as Apple’s own MacBook Air, a laptop.

The iPad Pro’s biggest competitor is likely Microsoft’s 12-inch Surface Pro 3, also geared towards the business market. It is cheaper and its software plays very nice with office networks.

In July, Microsoft said its Surface line of tablets brought in $888 million in the most recent quarter, up 117 percent from the same time last year, boosted in largest part by the Surface Pro 3 and the launch of Surface 3.

Keith Bachman, a senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets said that while the iPad Pro has a lot of utility and technology that Apple brought to bear but unfortunately the price never goes away as a challenge.

In the meantime, Apple has entered into partnerships with IBM and Cisco, aimed at creating more enterprise-friendly software to run on iOS, the Apple operating system, but little is known about these partnerships.

Apple hopes to save sinking iPad

quicksand1Apple thinks that it can save its flagging iPad sales by talking up a new model which is nearly twice the size of anything else out there.

Apparently the fruity cargo cult is expecting its fanboys to choose one of two 12 inch iPads.  Jobs’ Mob is also planning two new features for its iPads – a split screen which will make a tablet like two phablets running side by side (hooray) and support for multi-user logins so that if an Apple fanboy gets a friend he can give them access to his Coldplay collection.

The split-screen applications feature, however, could be introduced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference next month. The side-by-side feature for iOS 9 would be shown using currently available iPad models. When split, the screen could display two apps side-by-side or multiple views of the same app.

Of course the feature could still be pulled before next month’s conference or may be held back until the 12-inch tablet is announced.

No one knows when the 12 inch tablet will hit the shops – if it ever does. Apple is unlikely to release it unless the Tame Apple Press can whip up enough of a frenzy for people to buy it.  It will be a hard sell. While a tablet might be nice, most people have woken up to the fact that a keyboardless netbook is one of the most useless things to buy since someone thought square hula-hoops were a good idea.



Analysis: Intel fails to fix PC malaise

Intel's Gordon Moore and Robert NoyceIntel reported its financial first quarter results yesterday evening and as expected its PC business continued to decline.

But Intel consolidated its results making it hard to see how much money it’s losing on its really quite disastrous foray into the mobile and tablet markets.

PR executives spun the results by saying they were in line with previous estimates – but its previous estimates weren’t in line with the estimates it previously estimated.

Its revenues were flat and it expect its revenues to continue to be flat for the rest of the year. But with gross margins of 60.5 percent for the quarter, it still turned in a net profit of two billion dollars.

CEO Brian Krzanich said in a prepared statement that growth in data centres, the internet of things (IoT) and memory helped to keep its figures relatively not too bad.

The client computing group showed revenues of $7.4 billion, a fall of 16 percent compared to the previous quarter and a fall of eight percent compared to the same quarter in its last financial year.

And while the data centre group turned in revenues of $3.7 billion, that was down 10 percent sequentially but rose 19 percent year on year.

The internet of things group delivered revenues of $533 million – a fall of 10 percent compared to the previous quarter but up 11 percent year on year.

Its software and services operating division delivered revenues of $534 million, down four per cent sequentially and three per cent year on year.

It is hard to describe Intel’s results as stellar. Like Microsoft, it is showing signs of malaise and despite optimistic forecasts that PC sales are going to go through the roof because of the launch of Windows 10, that is a hope, not a promise.

Intel’s problem is, that like IBM in the 1990s, it resembles a big oil tanker and can’t be turned around quickly. The real question is that as it depended on its success in the PC business through sales of X86 chips, where does it actually go now?

Its mobile strategy has been all over the place for years now and phone manufacturers quite simply went for better and cheaper ARM processors. The Wintel hegemony is over and Intel’s board lacks a charitable nature. Krzanich is too newly fledged to dump yet, but the board will already be demanding answers.

The problem is, there are no easy answers to the Intel malaise and despite it being the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law (pictured, left)  in just a few days time, that isn’t going to stop the slow and steady decline in the company’s fortunes. Like Microsoft, it is largely irrelevant to the changing nature of current technology and we doubt the internet of things is going to make any real difference in the long run. ♣

Nearly four in ten UK households bought a tablet

tabletNearly 40 per cent of UK households bought a tablet last year, despite the fact that they didn’t really know what to do with one.

The statistic, compiled by the Internet Advertising Bureau suggests that the average number of internet connected devices in each house is up to 7.4.

Smartphones are the most commonly owned connected gadget, followed by laptops and tablets, according to research from the UK. Games consoles, desktop computers and smart TVs were also likely to be found within British homes. One fifth of UK households own two tablets, while 11 per cent own three or more, the study found.

However the writing appears to be on the wall for the tablet.  The percentage of customers planning to buy a tablet has fallen from 44 percent in 2014 to 38 percent this year, a separate set of research from Accenture found.

The two figures side by side suggest that people who bought a tablet did not use it much and when they came to buy something else they went for ‘phablets’ instead,

John Curran, managing director, Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology group said that phablets were grabbing centre stage because a growing number of consumers prefer the screen size and resolution to that of a smartphone.

“This does not mean the tablet market will become inactive, but as consumers’ purchasing plans for mature device categories such as tablets decline, high tech companies will need to replace lost revenues with sales in new categories such as wearable health and fitness monitors.”


IBM Lenovo sale at risk

It seems that US paranoia over Chinese spying is set to derail the proposed $2.3 billion sale of IBM’s low end server business.

Approval of the deal was expected to be automatic; after all, Lenovo has been selling old IBM PCs to US government for ages with no problems.

However the US government has put the deal in limbo while its spooks apparently investigate “national security issues”.

Apparently US security officials and members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) are worried that IBM’s x86 servers used in communications networks and in data centres supporting the Pentagon’s networks could be accessed remotely by Chinese spies or compromised, the newspaper reported.

Lenovo bought IBM’s money-losing ThinkPad business for $1.75 billion, which had faced scrutiny, but was approved with no real debate. But it is clear that this time government officials are trying to derail the deal.

They are uneasy about the potential sale of servers that may be clustered together to perform like a powerful computer.

IBM and Lenovo are trying to address CFIUS concerns about server maintenance and have said that IBM will provide maintenance on Lenovo’s behalf “for an extended period” after the sale.

Meanwhile IBM and Lenovo have refiled their application for approval of the deal to buy more time.

If the deal falls through then IBM could be in trouble. The division has not made money for a while now and Big Blue was keen to lose it. There is no buyer on the horizon either. Did we mention it was a loss maker?

But equally pressure on Lenovo is unfair and seems to be geared to sending a message to Beijing that the US Empire is the only one which is allowed to spy on anyone. 

Intel – the WiMAX firm – plans to fix 4G LTE hole

Intel is losing ground in the mobile SoC market because it so far has yet to come up with a product which features 4G LTE.

Already it has lost Asus which was forced to go to Qualcomm as the SoC partner for the next generation of ZenFones.

David McCloskey, the company’s Asia Pacific and Japan director of product marketing and business operations, told VR Zone  that the loss of this sort of business confused lots of people and caused a loss of confidence in the Intel Architecture in the mobile space.

He said that Intel has been doing rather well debunking myths about Intel products in the mobile space such as its battery life, thermals, performance. Intel had been able to demonstrate a value proposition of IA performance across a variety of OSes in a lot of different form factors.

So far Intel’s way around a huge hole in it is product portfolio has been to run an aggressive contra revenue programme, and hopes that business stay after they got a sufficient fill of deeply discounted free chips. But he thinks that Intel’s mobile chips can compete on technical merit alone.

But still nothing on LTE and ARM based vendors have a much better developed [egosystem] with much better flexibility in their platform components.

McCloskey said that once Intel’s Project SoFIA comes online, first with 3G and in 2015 with 4G LTE, Intel should have an easier time convincing smartphone and tablet vendors to get on board.

When SoFIA does launch Intel will still be late to the game with a fully fledged processor and modem solution, but it will be on a more competitive footing with major ARM vendors, he said.