by Jin Kim
Well, Sony has certainly been doing interesting things. A 1-inch sensor in a pocket camera? Never been done. A premium superzoom? Nobody else is doing that. A full-frame sensor in a coat-pocketable body? Unheard of.
Interesting, yes, but if Sony squeezed that 1-inch image sensor found in the company’s excellent RX100 compact camera inside an Xperia smartphone, I’d be thoroughly impressed. I’d also be severely tempted to ditch my iPhone as my primary camera.
Samsung is being challenged by lower-cost competitors; the company’s average price per phone fell by $30 last year, and its share of >$400 phones slipped from 40 percent to 21 percent. This kept up Samsung’s volume – they now account for one in three smartphone sales – but the result was their first profit decline in nine quarters.
Apple had the exact opposite problem: the iPhone’s average selling price jumped from $577 to $636 quarter-over-quarter, and was only down $6 year-over year. Apple also increased its share of the >$400 market from 35 percent to 65 percent. Growth, though, was meager: a mere 7%, despite the addition of NTT DoCoMo and a much earlier China launch for the iPhones 5S and 5C as compared to the iPhone 5.
I can see Samsung’s top end Galaxy line being compared to Apple, but not the other models geared for customers who want the cheapest money can buy. If I were to choose between the two problems I would pick Apple’s problem of selling to those with more disposable income, those who value design thinking, and those who are generally more loyal to brands.
Amid reforming its TV arm (and splitting it into a stand-alone entity), it’s going to sell its PC business and VAIO brand to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), with the final deal set to be done by the end of March 2014.
Following a comprehensive analysis of factors, including the drastic changes in the global PC industry, Sony’s overall business portfolio and strategy, the need for continued support of Sony’s valued VAIO customers, and future employment opportunities for personnel involved in the VAIO business, the Company has determined that concentrating its mobile product lineup on smartphones and tablets and transferring its PC business to a new company established by JIP is the optimal solution.
Oh well, there goes the second best PC hardware brand when it comes to design. A design so good Steve Jobs was willing to put OS X in Sony’s VAIOs.
Apple already controls the hardware, the OS (iOS/OS X) as well as the iTunes/App store platforms. Right now they control the entire customer experience, except for the way content is delivered to their devices. Since Apple does not own the last mile they won’t be able to have complete control, but having their own CDN would give them more control and security than they have now.
Sounds good to me.
Sony is in talks to unload its sluggish personal computer operations to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners as it tries to shift focus to smartphones, The Nikkei learned Tuesday.
Apple’s iOS was born of OS X. OS X was honed on Macs. The two are inseparable: a strong OS X leads to a strong iOS, and vice versa. The symbiotic relationship does not end with code; more iPhone sales means more Mac sales, and the other way around. Focus should not be on a particular product category. Focus should be on people: how they live, how they play, how they work.
My first Macintosh was the Color Classic, about eight or nine years after the first Mac came out. I think it was the cutest Mac Apple has ever built. Cute because it was so tiny. And the color CRT screen was nice. I was a student at Cal at the time and it was just a few years before Mosaic, so all I did was word processing, email (via an external 14.4K baud modem), and a lot of Yahtzee! Wish I had kept it.
On January 24, 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh. And with it a promise that the power of technology, put in the hands of everyone, could change the world. On January 24, 2014, we sent 15 camera crews all over the world to show how that promise has become a reality.
From sunrise in Melbourne to nightfall in Los Angeles, they documented people doing amazing things with Apple products. They shot over 70 hours of footage — all with the iPhone 5s. Then it was edited and scored with an original soundtrack. Thanks to the power of the Mac and the innovations it has inspired, an effort that normally takes months was accomplished in a matter of days.
What’s notable about Apple’s 30 year anniversary video is that it was shot entirely on the iPhone 5s. Lately I’ve been thinking maybe I need a proper — meaning expensive — camcorder to record video. Just last night I was doing some serious research on Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera. That little Super 16 digital film camera can take some serious videos, but it also requires considerable work. I’m sure I would greatly enjoy the final results, but how often would I take it with me? How much of the footage would I actually spend time and effort to color grade? And would I have enough time and energy left to do what’s required to share it with family and friends? The answers are probably going to be: not often, not much, and not a whole lot.
The best camcorder is the one you have with you, the one that gets color right as you’re recording it, the one you can edit right in your camcorder, and the one you can share with your family and friends right there and then. And that’s most likely going to be my iPhone. And if I want to do something a bit more fancy with the videos I capture, I can do that fairly easily with iMovie on a Mac.
Compared to the 1984 Apple commercial the ‘1.24.14’ video isn’t nearly as epic, but it beautifully demonstrates how much you can do with an iPhone and a Mac, today.
The purchase of Nest indicates that Google has rethought its hardware strategy, preferring to avoid competition with its Android partners and instead invest in the wide-open world of connected devices and smart homes instead. Larry Page said as much in an email to staffers about the Motorola sale. “As a side note, this does not signal a larger shift for our other hardware efforts. The dynamics and maturity of the wearable and home markets, for example, are very different from that of the mobile industry. We’re excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems.”
Wearables and smart devices for the home are just getting started. When a whole bunch of companies, Google included, make a big mess of things in these two markets I’m betting Apple will come along and change it up just like Apple did with a messy MP3 market with the iPod, the crappy smartphone market with the iPhone, and the dying tablet market with the iPad.
That’s what I thought before Google acquired Nest. Now I’m not so sure. But what I am sure of is I’m not going to buy possibly dead end products like the Nest Thermostat or Protect. According to TechCrunch the Nest team will “still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors.”
I wouldn’t argue that Google wants to “be like Apple”, but the idea that Google doesn’t have its sights set on producing its own mass market consumer electronics would be a lot more compelling if they hadn’t just bought Nest for $3 billion, and hadn’t spent the last year hyping Google Glass.
Google has not done very well building beautiful, functional consumer electronics products that are worth the price. The Chromebook Pixel and the Nexus Q are two examples of beautiful but overpriced, and Glass is an example of overpriced. Google is betting Nest, not Motorola, will help in this regard.
But the Sexy OS played by the (unfortunately) invisible Scarlett Johansson has a bit more emotional intelligence than Siri does today. Can Siri catch up? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath.
A bit more?
ABI Research reports that Android once again dominated the Q4 2013 shipment numbers for smartphone advanced operating systems with 77% market share of over 280 million smartphones shipped in Q4 2013.Nearly one billion smartphones were shipped in 2013, Android accounting for 78% across the year.
Android’s dominance is not quite as rosy as it seems though, with most of the growth coming from forked Android operating systems (137% year-on-year), mainly in China, India, and adjacent markets. Forked Android or AOSP accounted for 25% market share with 71 million unit shipments, as opposed to certified Android’s share of 52%, of a total of 77% market share.
“The growth of AOSP is significant for Android’s owner Google, because AOSP does not offer Google’s services (due to their unavailability in China), impacting Google’s ability to monetize the Android ecosystem,” comments Nick Spencer, senior practice director, mobile devices.
My answer to the question of whether or not Google is losing control of the Android ecosystem is this: According to data from ABI Research, yes, Google seems to be losing control of the Android ecosystem, especially in China.