Pebble Time Round

[ Pebble ] I like what Pebble is doing with E Ink display technology, but must the bezel be so thick?

LTE Speeds

[ Macworld ] Stephen Lawson:

Still, some countries have opened up legitimately huge leads. The biggest standout is South Korea, where users enjoy LTE service 97 percent of the time. On carrier LG U+, it’s 99.6 percent, so effectively subscribers never have to fall back onto 3G. Korea is also home to the fastest single LTE operator in the world, Olleh, with an average download speed of 30Mbps. SK Telecom and LG U+ are also near the top for speed.

They got there partly through new technology. All the LTE carriers in South Korea use Carrier Aggregation, part of the bundle of specifications called LTE-Advanced, to combine two or more spectrum bands into a single fat pipe. U.S. service providers are far behind on adopting Carrier Aggregation.

In the U.S.:

The U.S. is a much larger country than South Korea so to blanket the entire country is harder, but the U.S. has more potential customers and therefore more profits. More profits should offset the difficulty in dealing with a larger land mass, to some degree.

Apple Titan

[ The Wall Street Journal ] Daisuke Wakabayashi:

There are many unanswered questions about Apple’s automotive foray. It isn’t clear whether Apple has a manufacturing partner to become the car equivalent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that builds most iPhones and is known by the trade name Foxconn. Most major auto makers build and run their own factories, but that hasn’t been Apple’s strategy with iPhones or iPads. Contract manufacturing in the auto industry usually is limited to a few niche models.

Designed in Cupertino. Manufactured in Fremont (Tesla).

Apple has moved away from mass manufacturing physical products and Apple will likely continue to contract manufacture its Apple Car. The best bet would be Tesla. Tesla is one of the best — robot-based high-quality automated manufacturing — and is looking to scale up, to bring costs down. Apple can help scale.

Tesla is local too: made in the U.S.A., and right next door to Apple. Apple’s initial target market will probably be Silicon Valley. So an Apple-Tesla joint venture could be profitable for both. But this is all conjecture and it might be a long time before we get to sit in an Apple Car.

U.S. Spends More Time in Mobile Apps than on TV

[ Flurry ] Simon Khalaf:

[…] the average US consumer is spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV. Please note that the 198 minutes per day spent inside apps on smartphones and tablets don’t include time spent in the mobile browser. In fact, if we add that time, the total time spent on mobile devices by the average US consumer is now 220 minutes (or 3 hours and 40 minutes) per day […]

With Apple’s recent announcement of its new Apple TV, apps will become the new way we spend time on our TV.

Premium Android Sales Stall in Second Quarter 2015

[ Charles Arthur ] Android OEMs had a terrible time selling high-end smartphones in the second quarter, but not Apple.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 did not impress the punters. LG’s G4 sold less well than apparently the company hoped. Sony had a torrid time. HTC then redefined torrid. Premium Android has a real, immediate problem.

Second quarter sales for HTC, Sony, LG, and Samsung were compared. All did not do well, which is true, but what I think is happening is not that premium Android smartphone sales are stalling but that sales by these four brands are. The definition of premium Android is shifting toward high-end specs at dirt cheap prices. Just look at what Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, and Lenovo are doing in China. There’s also Oppo and OnePlus. All these brands offer high-end smartphones for a lot less than HTC, Sony, LG, and Samsung. Aside from Lenovo these names are not household brands in the U.S., but it will be sooner than later when we will be given the choice between a $900 iPhone and a $300 Xiaomi, both with almost identical hardware specs.

Aren’t Chinese customers given this choice today? Yes, and the Chinese customers choosing the $900 iPhone are most likely on the rich end of the spectrum. Assuming 10% of Chinese are rich and can afford a $900 iPhone that means the total market for the latest greatest iPhone is around 140 million. Quite a lot! But that also means roughly 9x that number will be choosing ‘premium’ but dirt cheap Android smartphones. When these premium Android smartphones becomes more readily available in the U.S. there’s a good chance Apple will lose market share. Not profit market share mind you, but unit sales market share, because there’s a lot more people just getting by who need a smartphone than there are those who are upper middle class and richer who can afford $900 iPhones every other year.

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