IDC says PC sales fell 14 percent in the first quarter on a year-over-year basis. That’s worse than its forecast of a 7.7 percent drop.
This is the worst quarter for PC industry since 1994 when IDC started tracking sales. So, that pretty much makes it the worst quarter in history.
IDC blames Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system for alienating consumers. The new tile-based interface is too weird for consumers, says IDC.
Instead of buying new laptops or desktops, people are buying tablets and smartphones which serve as good-enough alternatives.
Archive for the 'Apple' Category
This morning’s Observer column:
Bruce Chatwin has a lot to answer for. Specifically, he’s responsible for a forthcoming initial public offering (IPO) on the Italian stock market. It all goes back to something he wrote in his book The Songlines. He had arrived in Australia and was setting up a work space in a caravan. “With the obsessive neatness that goes with the beginning of a project,” he wrote, “I made three neat stacks of my ‘Paris’ notebooks. In France, these notebooks are known as carnets moleskines: ‘moleskine’, in this case, being its black oilcloth binding. Each time I went to Paris, I would buy a fresh supply from a papeterie in the Rue de l’Ancienne-Comédie.”
Chatwin goes on to relate how the notebooks were made by a small firm in Tours, the owner of which had died and whose heirs had sold the business. So he assumed that the source of his beloved notebooks had dried up. What he didn’t know was that the business had been bought by a Milanese stationer who eventually began producing the notebooks again. And what he could not have known was that the business would one day be floated on the stock market (3 April, to be precise). The IPO could value the company at up to €560m (£473m)…
Steve Jobs & Satjiv Chahil, Apple Town Hall – 12 20 96, originally uploaded by Tim Holmes.
Astonishing set on Flickr by Tim Holmes, who was working in Apple on December 20 1996, the night that the Apple Board, in desperation, welcomed Steve jobs back to the fold. Tim grabbed an Apple QuickTake digital camera and went to the ‘town hall’ meeting that had been hastily called. He got some memorable, atmospheric shots — but also in the process collected evidence of how poor the camera was, technically speaking. Those purple jackets, for example, were actually black. Jobs cancelled the camera project shortly after taking over.
I’d always assumed that the price of apps in the Apple App Store ranged between free at the low end and $39.99 at the expensive end. But no — there’s an interesting ecosystem at the stratospheric level, as this piece in the WSJ reveals.
A while ago I wrote this:
We have replaced the old Microsoft Windows software monoculture with a new one based around an apps-centric user interface. Mobile devices have become machines for running apps. And whatever patent litigation says, all smartphones are now either iPhones or iPhone clones: a visiting Martian would be hard pressed to distinguish between an Android device and an Apple product, except perhaps on the basis of price. And, given the way network effects work, we will be stuck in this rut for the next few decades.
So an interesting question is: what will supplant the Apps-based interface? Here’s one answer (from Tom Simonite): voice-driven interfaces like Apple’s Siri and the technologies underpinning Google Glass.
Siri should be thought of a general purpose tool to achieve just about anything. I suspect the people in charge of Google Now’s development have similar ideas. Virtual helpers conceived along those lines could transform how people get stuff done with a smartphone, and remove the need for them to interact with the apps and websites they must turn to today.
Right now, Apple and Google’s operating systems are platforms on top of which the things a person needs sit. Achieving something involves a collection of apps, and often the Web, that users customize. The operating system just makes it possible to go to the places you need to go. If Apple and Google make their virtual assistants really work, that could be replaced by a much more centralized approach. Want something? Ask Siri or turn to Google Now and they’ll do the work of dealing with all those Web pages and apps for you.
It’s already possible to see how that could make things easier for people, and also remove the need for them to install or really be aware of apps as they are today. Many people with iPhones make use of Wolfram Alpha without ever installing it, for example, because it is drawn on by Siri. Likewise, you can find a restaurant and check table availability with Siri without having installed OpenTable, Yelp or any of their competitors. Google Now helps a person track sports scores, and deal with flight boarding passes without their turning directly to ESPN or United’s own mobile services.
This morning’s Observer column.
Some years ago, when the Google Books project, which aims to digitise all of the world’s printed books, was getting under way, the two co-founders of Google were having a meeting with the librarian of one of the universities that had signed up for the plan. At one point in the conversation, the Google boys noticed that their collaborator had suddenly gone rather quiet. One of them asked him what was the matter. “Well”, he replied, “I’m wondering what happens to all this stuff when Google no longer exists.” Recounting the conversation to me later, he said: “I’ve never seen two young people looking so stunned: the idea that Google might not exist one day had never crossed their minds.”
And yet, of course, the librarian was right. He had to think about the next 400 years. But the number of commercial companies that are more than a century old is vanishingly small. Entrusting the world’s literary heritage to such transient organisations might not be entirely wise.
Compared with my librarian friend, we have the attention span of newts. We are constantly overawed by the size, wealth and dominance of whatever happens to be the current corporate giant.
To which, of course, the best riposte is probably Keynes’s: In the long run, we’re all dead.
The news that there is going to be a Firefox Operating System has set the cat among the pigeons. GigaOm has an interesting take on it which is refreshingly alert to the irony of the carriers’ response to the development.
The fact that the carriers are lapping this up represents a moment of supreme irony: these are the same companies – largely former monopolies – that were all about walled gardens, the companies that wanted to replicate the portal-first, AOL model in the wireless world. And what happened to stymie that scenario? Apple happened.
It was the iPhone that really loosened the carriers’ grip on their product. Suddenly they were just providers of voice and SMS and data, not suppliers of value-added services. The revenue cut from app sales now went to Apple and Google, not to the operators. The walls to their gardens had been obliterated, and someone had set up much more attractive walled gardens elsewhere.
So back we come to this idea of the open mobile web. This is an area where luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee have been on the warpath, pointing out very real problems with the iOS/Android model. These include the inability to share app-based content in a standardized way, and the inability to search across apps. In short: the loss of the level playing field that web technologies represent.
Firefox OS is designed to solve those problems. Weirdly, we can now witness the former walled garden proprietors genuinely extol the virtues of openness. By promoting Firefox OS, they cannot regain control – however, they hope to prise some control from the hands of Google and Apple.
This morning’s Observer column.
Nothing lasts forever: if history has any lesson for us, it is this. It’s a thought that comes from rereading Paul Kennedy’s magisterial tome, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, in which he shows that none of the great nation-states or empires of history – Rome; imperial Spain in 1600; France in either its Bourbon or Bonapartist manifestations; the Dutch republic in 1700; Britain in its imperial glory – succeeded in maintaining its global ascendancy for long.
What has this got to do with technology? Well, it provides us with a useful way of thinking about two of the tech world’s great powers.
Interesting chart from Business Insider. Their commentary reads:
In November 2010, Facebook held an event at its headquarters to talk about new mobile products.
After the presentation, a reporter asked Mark Zuckerberg why there was no talk of a Facebook iPad app. At that point, the iPad was only a few months old, but it was already a phenomenon. Facebook hadn’t yet rolled out an app.
“iPad’s not mobile, next question,” said Zuckerberg to laughs from the audience. He followed up saying, “It’s not mobile, it’s a computer, it’s a different thing.”
Apple had successfully marketed the lightweight, portable iPad as a mobile device. So the reporters in the room were incredulous that Zuckerberg didn’t call the iPad a mobile gadget.
Two years later, it’s clear that Zuckerberg was right. The iPad isn’t any more of a mobile gadget than a MacBook Air. The iPad is just a PC.
Up to a point, Lord Copper.