Jason Snell on Apple and Wearables

via John Gruber. Jason Snell:

Unfortunately, I fear that tech-industry observers have completely lost their perspective. As Rene has written, no matter how big the wearables market gets, it’s still not going to touch the smartphone market.

IDC reported that in 2013, one billion smartphones were shipped, up 38 percent from the previous year. That’s a fast-growing market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, on Thursday IDC predicted that the wearables market will reach 112 million units in 2018.

In other words, in four years the wearables market might grow to be one-tenth the size of today’s smartphone market — in units shipped. Presumably the average selling price of wearable items will be a fraction of that of smartphones, meaning the dollar value of the wearables market is even more minuscule compared to the smartphone market.

I disagree. In terms of units, a more affordable — relative to the iPhone — iWatch can sell more. I don’t think Apple is making an iWatch like this, but let’s imagine the iWatch is a stripped down iPhone with about 60-80% of its capabilities. For those who don’t care to have a smartphone or wish they could go back to simpler days when you called and text’d and that was all you did an iWatch might be the solution. Of course instead of painstakingly texting on a numeric keypad you’d be talking to Siri to text on your iWatch. Just hope she is more understanding of languages other than properly spoken American English.

Instead of a partial replacement for the iPhone, if the iWatch is being developed as a complementary wearable device to the iPhone, it may never sell as many as the iPhone. But Apple might be designing the iWatch to be compatible with other smartphones. Apple has done this before: iTunes. If the iWatch is a watch you can use with any modern smartphone then the iWatch will most definitely sell more than the iPhone.

All of this is conjecture. I’ve authored plenty of reports with multi-year forecasts and let’s just say a forecast is merely an opinion, a scenario. Nothing more. So take IDC’s prediction with a grain of salt.

Rumor: LG Display (LGD) Sole Supplier of Flexible OLED Displays For Apple iWatch

According to Korean language news site Naver, LG Display (LGD) will be the sole supplier of flexible OLED displays for Apple’s iWatch. LGD will be supplying two sizes (1.3″ and 1.5″) to Apple for the iWatch, which is expected to be announced later this year in September. Apple has ordered 12 million OLED displays and expects to sell 9 million of those in 2014; other rumors have quoted up to 55 million.

Would Apple depend on a single supplier for such an important product launch? No, and yes. No because not a single procurement department at a major Fortune 100 company would significantly increase risk by putting all of its eggs into a single supplier. I’ve seen major product launches delayed because the single supplier wasn’t able to meet deadlines.

At the same time Apple has reasons to depend solely on LGD. LGD has been Apple’s primary display supplier for quite some time and that engenders trust. Apple probably shouldn’t trust Samsung, and other display manufacturers probably can’t supply iWatch flexible OLED display panels at the level of quantities, quality, and price Apple wants. There’s another reason. With additional suppliers there’s a different risk: the potential for increased exposure of the company’s plans, and that’s something Apple takes seriously more than most because the company depends heavily on it as a pre-launch marketing strategy.

August 2006: No Touchscreen, April 2007: Touchscreen Mandatory

John Gruber:

Consider the timeline. As Daniel Dilger documents in a report today for AppleInsider looking at Android design documents entered as evidence in the trial, in August 2006, the draft Android 1.0 design document mandated up/down/left/right/select hardware buttons and explicitly stated that touchscreens would not be supported. Then, the very next revision of the specification, in April 2007 — a draft described as a “major update” — multitouch touchscreens became mandatory. In August 2006 Android was planned as a BlackBerry/Windows Mobile style hardware-button platform with no initial support for touchscreens. In April 2007 it became a platform where multitouch touchscreens were mandatory.

Top Android Executive Says Google Didn’t Copy Apple’s iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review by The Verge

Davie Pierce, The Verge:

Build quality may not matter to Samsung, but luckily display quality does, and it shows. The S5′s 5.1-inch, 1080p AMOLED display is simply gorgeous. It’s a little more intense and vibrant than the LCD screens I’m used to, but the effect is now much more subtle than on previous devices. The screen has near-perfect viewing angles, gorgeous color reproduction, and appears almost to be perched above the phone, games and movies leaping out toward me. Beautiful displays are non-negotiable in a great smartphone, and Samsung delivers.

According to Raymond Soneira the Samsung Galaxy S5 has the best display on a smartphone. To me the display is most important, and the camera is number two. The 16 megapixel shooter on the Galaxy S5 is good, but not great: slightly over saturated colors, inconsistent phase detection autofocus, and soft photos in low light environments according to Pierce. Oh, I almost forgot: the S5 is waterproof.

Rumor: 12-inch Retina MacBook Air

Neil Hughes, AppleInsider:

Though the new MacBook Air will apparently be minimalist, it will continue to offer a physical keyboard in addition to a modified trackpad, Kuo said. And the 12-inch model, sandwiched in between the 11.6- and 13.3-inch sizes Apple current offers in its MacBook Air lineup, is expected to feature a high-resolution Retina display “thanks to advanced panel technology.”

That’s KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo.

From time to time I go back to the story of Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple and drew a 2×2 table on the board: Consumer and Professional on one axis and Portable and Desktop on the other. Now Apple’s product lineup has become quite a bit more complex than that.

For notebooks Apple has the MacBook Air in two sizes and the MacBook Pro in two sizes. If Kuo is right, a 12-inch retina MacBook Air could concentrate the consumer line of Apple notebooks to just one model. Maybe the MacBook Pro line can be focused into just a single 14-inch model. That would streamline Apple’s supply chain and help the company concentrate. A single consumer notebook model and a single professional notebook model can bring down cost, increase quality, and be more price competitive.

BMW Organic Light: OLED Tail Light


Rather than being emitted in the form of points, the light generated by OLEDs shines out over a relatively large area compared to LEDs and is extremely homogeneous in appearance. Consequently, OLEDs are suitable for use in exterior lighting functions that are primarily designed for being seen. Rather than replacing conventional LEDs, however, OLEDs will complement them. Initial applications in production cars could see OLEDs taking over the function of the tail light as part of a so-called hybrid light, while brake lights and turn signals continue to employ LEDs.

I expect unprecedented OLED tail light designs in a few years.

The OLED technology in BMW Organic Light and its possible uses open up tremendous potential for automotive design. When they are first launched, the organic LEDs will be two-dimensional in appearance with a luminous area that can be shaped as desired, and will look like a reflective surface when switched off. As development progresses, flexible OLEDs that are also transparent will be brought out. Three-dimensional OLEDs with freely definable shapes are a likely prospect in the medium term. The fact that OLEDs are formable and require neither reflectors nor lenses paves the way for a whole new range of uses that are not feasible at the current time.

AUO 5.7-inch 2560×1440 OLED Display Panel

AUO: Taiwan-based display manufacturer AU Optronics (AUO) introduced a 5.7-inch 2560×1440 OLED display panel for smartphone applications. The resolution? 513 ppi.

Dyson’s Law

Sir James Dyson:

A company that doesn’t double its R&D team every two years, I think, is in trouble.

Dyson oversimplified, but his point is valid: If you want to win, aggressively invest in research and development.

Dell Chromebook 11

Dan Seifert, The Verge:

Viewing angles and brightness are just okay, and can be improved, and I much prefer the Acer C720’s matte finish to Dell’s highly reflective gloss. My biggest complaint isn’t so much with the screen’s performance — it works fine for browsing the web, watching video, and looking at photos — but with the 0.75-inch thick bezel surrounding the display. It really feels like Dell could have fit a 12-inch screen in this without sacrificing anything in terms of size.

Dell’s focus was hitting a certain price point (sub-US$300) and great battery life (10 hours). With a larger, better display Dell wouldn’t have hit either.

Sony Xperia Z2: The Best Camera on a Smartphone

Kevin Carter, DxOMark:

In our industry-standard benchmarking tests, the revised Z2 impresses with its color and detail preservation, both outdoors and in more challenging lighting, and it retains the fast autofocus of the Z1 while improving its precision. Noise levels remain low with none of the objectionable chroma noise found on some rivals; only some fine-grained luminance type noise is noticeable at times.

Although the Z2 is ranked number one overall, it is in fact in joint first place with the Nokia 808 Pureview for stills image quality, ahead of the Apple iPhone 5S, Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the that category.

While the Xperia Z2 can’t boast the best video score it is still impressive, more so when you consider the 4K capability, coming in 3rd place in our database, just behind its predecessor and the GoPro Hero3 action-camera.

DxOMark is just one test, but it is an indicator and the result is pointing to Sony having done some solid work on its Z series smartphone camera subsystems.


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