BlackBerry and Dell not worried about Apple-IBM partnership

iPhone in Canada reported on BlackBerry and Dell’s responses to the Apple-IBM partnership.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen:

I am not afraid of competing when I know I am more nimble. I never think [that] going alone is the right strategy. But we have a value add that no one else can do.

John Swainson, head of Dell’s global software business:

I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release.

I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.

This reminds me of the famous quote by Steve Ballmer:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.

Microsoft missed the mobile market under Ballmer’s watch as CEO. BlackBerry and Dell are struggling in the mobile and PC markets respectively. To be unconcerned by the Apple-IBM push in enterprise won’t bode well for them.

eBay sold $2 billion worth of Apple devices in the past year

Computerworld reported on the resales of older Apple devices on eBay.

Like one of an infinite number of multiverses, eBay’s traffic in primarily old-but-still-sellable Apple goods mirrored, more or less, Apple’s product line breakdown. The iPhone dominated on the online auction site, accounting for 55% the $1.94 billion in sales of Apple goods. Meanwhile, Mac products accounted for 20% of Apple sales on eBay and iPad sales represented 19% of the total.

Google’s number game

John Bell wrote on Medium about Google’s numbers.

Which brings me to Chromecast. All Google will say is they’ve sold “millions” of the $35, (presumably) break-even device. But recently they announced 400 million “sessions”. Sounds impressive! A recent headline states “Chromecast turns one: why this small streaming stick became such a big deal” and the subheads are “So cheap, and so different”, “400 million cast sessions”, “Competitors are getting the streaming stick fever”, and “Why Chromecast continues to be disruptive”.

So kudos to Google for an enormous number, and for getting great press from it. But, wait. We’re actually going to record “uses” of products now? Well, sure. Because it makes the number look bigger. Why wouldn’t Google report a number that makes you shrug and think “Google seems to be doing well” before reading the next article? Or buying into what’s clearly a successful device with a successful, stable, supported ecosystem?

Bell then dived into the numbers.

400,000,000 uses per year, if every user uses it seven days a week on average, means 1,095,890 customers globally. Whereas if each user is using it four times a week, that’s 208 uses per year. That would point to 1,923,077 customers.

Since Google has said they’ve sold “millions”, 1.9 is a bit low. So let’s adjust usage down a little bit to get past 2 million. That gives us a guess of 2,564,103 Chromecast users using the device 3 times a week.

Imagine if Apple reported the number of times the AppleTV is used.

In April, Apple said it has sold 20 million Apple TVs total, and the current numbers seem to point to 8-10 million a year. If we assume their engagement is similar to those of Chromecast users (3 times a week), that works out to between 1,248,000,000 and 1,560,000,000 “uses” of the product in the same time period.

At the lower end, that’s 1.2 billion sessions versus Chromecast’s 400 million session.

Mobile leverage

Benedict Evans on mobile leverage.

Personal:

First, they are not shared and they are personal. Of those 1.6-1.7 bn PCs, a little over half are consumer devices, and a large proportion of those are shared. The others are owned by companies, and at the very least they’re restricted in what you can do with them for personal uses, and many of them are actually single-purpose devices. So it’s helpful to think about somehow discounting that PC base to reflect actually personal personal computers – by half, or more. Just as there’s a ‘full-time equivalent’, what’s the ‘personal computer equivalent’? It’s not 1.6bn – it’s probably more like half that.

Literacy:

Finally, the step change in ease of use provided by the new generation of operating systems changes what it means for someone to have such a device. A very large proportion of PC users would describe themselves as ‘not computer literate’, or at best getting by following ‘recipes’ within a narrow set of tasks, but far fewer say they’re not phone literate or even smartphone literate (though a curve obviously remains). The usability of this new class of devices of itself multiplies the reach of the internet.

These are very good points on how different the PC and mobile markets are.

App store revenue

Benedict Evans wrote about app Store revenues.

  • Google said it paid out $5bn to developers from Google IO in 2013 to Google IO in 2014 (a little over 13 months)
  • Apple said it has paid out $20bn to developers in total by the end of the June 2014 quarter, and at WWDC June 2013 it gave a figure of $10bn paid to developers (at the June 2013 earnings call a month later it then said it had paid out $11bn). So in the last 12 months, it paid out roughly $10bn.

No surprise which platform app developers would want to go for.

Amazon Fire Phone review

The Verge reviewed the Amazon Fire Phone.

Dynamic Perspective is meant to keep the screen simple, showing you only information when you ask for it, but it mostly just hides useful information. Exposing that information then requires such finesse that for a long time you’ll be seeing things rapidly flicker in and out of existence, not knowing how to make them stick around or find them again. Dynamic Perspective makes for awesomely fun lock screens with much more to them than first meets the eye, but it does nothing to meaningfully improve the smartphone experience.

A clever phone:

You’re entirely reliant on gestures and flicks of the phone to access these menus. Most apps have no indicators or helpful icons; you just have to open every app and twist the phone around like a lunatic to find things. You can’t even see the time without tilting your phone just so. An errant buzz is your only indication that you have a notification, prompting you to cock your wrist or swipe down from the top bezel to open the notification windowshade. None of this is explained, none of it is intuitive. Dynamic Perspective makes everything look cleaner, but makes actually using your phone a lot harder. I don’t need my phone to be clever, or spartan. I need it to be obvious. The Fire Phone is anything but.

Xiaomi not copying Apple

Cult of Android wrote about how copycat Xiaomi blatantly ripped off Apple.

The allegations about Xiaomi copying Apple are “sweeping sensationalist statements,” Barra told The Verge. “They have nothing better to talk about.” Barra argued that, “If you have two similarly skilled designers, it makes sense that they would reach the same conclusion.”

Barra regards Mi as “an incredibly innovative company” that is constantly refining its designs.

As for the use of Apple’s Aperture icon in their product image on their website, Barra admitted to copying:

The Aperture logo being used as the Mi 3 camera is just silly. It was just like someone’s stupid mistake. They were cutting corners and they were looking for a good image of a camera lens; it so happened that the Aperture logo was an incredibly beautiful image of a camera lens. It was silly and stupid and they shouldn’t have done it.

Why slowing iPad sales didn’t surprise Apple and shouldn’t surprise you

Gigaom wrote about slowing iPad sales.

Expecting iPad sales growth to mirror that of the iPhone, which is still on a relatively stronger upward direction, is unreasonable for a number of reasons. First: phones are far more a communications necessity than tablets are, at least for now. That’s why 2013 saw nearly one billion smartphones sold with expectations of another 1.2 billion more in 2014. By comparison, last year the tablet market only topped 195.3 million units, per Gartner.

Different upgrade cycles:

Give someone 18 months or so with a phone: They’re ready to upgrade and a carrier is very likely to help them do so with financial incentives. However, tablets in this regard are more like traditional computers: They’re going to last longer for most people. For one thing, they’re typically not subsidized so an iPad buyer is looking at an up-front investment of $499 or so (less for an iPad mini or older iPad, of course). Add a cellular radio and that investment jumps by $130, making the base iPad Air 26 percent more expensive. That’s no small price to pay and it’s one that makes it more likely that a consumer would keep the device just a little longer instead of buying the next shiny tablet that comes along.

Deconstructing Satya

Brian S Hall of Techpinions dissected the Satya Nadella internal memo.

Nadella’s willingness to act fast, to re-make Microsoft, hack away at the extraneous and transform the company into “the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world” appears to be exactly what the company needs.

But when you gut a $7.2 billion acquisition, which the company only closed on this past April, and fire 18,000 people, then you haven’t leapt from a burning platform, you’ve set the platform ablaze. There is no going back, no do-overs for Mr. Nadella. He is about to set the company on a ten year course, possibly longer, and though Microsoft possesses a rather stunning array of assets, what’s most stunning is the company still has virtually zero response to the iPhone, the iPad and Android. In 2014.

So much for mobile-first and cloud first.

In his “bold ambition” email to employees, only days before this, Nadella stated “first party hardware” would form part of the core Microsoft vision. He said this four times!

  • Our cloud OS infrastructure, device OS and first-party hardware will all build around this core focus and enable broad ecosystems.
  • Our Windows device OS and first-party hardware will set the bar for productivity experiences.
  • Our first-party devices will light up digital work and life.
  • We will build first-party hardware to stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem.

Now, days later, he guts Nokia, kills off the very popular Asha hybrid phone line and halts development of the AOSP-led Nokia X.
I suspect Mr. Nadella believes the smartphone wars are lost, despite whatever else the company may tell us. They are no longer worth fighting for.

Nadella went on to emphasise transparency:

My promise to you is that we will go through this process in the most thoughtful and transparent way possible.

Hall: “Your own email appears poorly thought out and lacking transparency!”

Second, we are working to integrate the Nokia Devices and Services teams into Microsoft. We will realize the synergies to which we committed when we announced the acquisition last September. The first-party phone portfolio will align to Microsoft’s strategic direction. To win in the higher price tiers, we will focus on breakthrough innovation that expresses and enlivens Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences. In addition, we plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows. This builds on our success in the affordable smartphone space and aligns with our focus on Windows Universal Apps.

Hall: “We can’t possibly divine what these words mean because Nadella does not know the way forward in mobile. That’s a problem.”

It is one thing to draw up a revolutionary vision for the company, but actions speak louder than words. And Nadella’s action is in contradiction of the grand scheme he talked up.

Verizon’s Accidental Mea Culpa

Level 3 wrote about Verizon’s accidental admission that it is deliberately constraining capacity from Netflix network providers.

And in fact, Verizon admits as much because they conveniently show one direction across our network with a peak utilization of 34%; almost exactly what I explained in my last blog post. I can confirm once again that all of those thousands of links on the Level 3 network are managed carefully so that the peak utilizations look very similar to those Verizon show for their own network – IN BOTH DIRECTIONS.

That means Verizon is only using 34% of its full capacity, but there is congestion for some reason.

In comparison, other ISPs and content providers only have an average of 44% utilization, with no issues of congestion:

But, here’s the other interesting thing also shown in the Verizon diagram. This congestion only takes place between Verizon and network providers chosen by Netflix. The providers that Netflix does not use do not experience the same problem. Why is that? Could it be that Verizon does not want its customers to actually use the higher-speed services it sells to them? Could it be that Verizon wants to extract a pound of flesh from its competitors, using the monopoly it has over the only connection to its end-users to raise its competitors’ costs?