Tablets to make up for nearly 50% of 2014 PC shipments

ITPro reports that Canalys research predicts tablet sales to make up for almost half of the PC market in 2014.

Tablets will out sell all other PC form factors combined next year, with forecasts suggesting 285 million units will ship in 2014.

That’s according to analyst Canalys, who claim tablets will account for almost 50 per cent of the total client PC market next year, up from 40 per cent in Q3 2013.

Android vs Windows Phone

Ben Bajarin writes for Techpinions about Android eating the world.

There is only one company in the market right now that does not need platform assistance from a third party. That is Apple. Every other hardware company needs a third party to provide them with software to run on their hardware. Microsoft has been this company for most of the computing era. Google, with Android, has provided the Microsoft alternative to the mobile world. Hardware OEMs need this third party software support because they need a company to provide a platform and standards support for a wide variety of technologies.

However between the two, Android offers to hardware OEMs what Microsoft does not, the ability to differentiate. Ship Windows or Windows Phone and your product from a software standpoint is no different from your competitors. Which means your basis to compete is extremely limited to form and price. Android, on the other hand, allows hardware companies to take the platform which Google is supporting with standards and driver support and customize it in a way to offer some level of visual and feature differentiation at a software level. Microsoft is providing a standardized unified platform. Google is providing a standardized platform to create other platforms / ecosystems. These solutions are very different and enable entirely different ecosystems.

It sounds like good news but this does not consider the fragmentation that results from this. It makes it harder for developers to create apps that runs across the different platforms. Apple and Microsoft provide a standardised ecosystem that promotes app development. It is an important factor that led to the domination of Windows as a PC operating software.

Android is like Linux. Although Linux allowed for customisation of the experience, the platform fragmentation impairs the development of software that runs on the different Linux distros.

Elementary OS, the Linux distro that looks like Mac OS X

WIRED.com writes about a Linux flavour that is trying to woo users who have given up on Windows.

There are myriad Linux distros, from Red Hat and CentOS and Ubuntu to Google Android. Most are typically used on computer servers that run things like websites and other big online applications, and most of the headlines go Android, which has reinvented the world of smartphones and tablets. But Elementary OS is different: It’s intended for desktop PCs, which are still very much the domain of Apple and Microsoft.

Foré says Elementary is trying to attract two groups of desktop users in particular: young developers who are new to open source and want an easy way to get started, and non-technical computer users who are fed up with Windows.

A polished Linux distro can meet the needs of users who have given up on Windows but do not wish to spend on a Mac. With the missteps that Microsoft is making with its Windows releases, now is the time for Linux to catch up.

The latest Mac OS X Mavericks is now free so the only barrier to entry is the cost of a Mac. The more adventurous can go the Hackintosh route by installing OS X on a PC.

Apple patents Lytro-like refocusable phone camera

Apple Insider reports that Apple has been awarded a patent for a refocusable camera to be used with a portable device.

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,593,564 for a “Digital camera including refocusable imaging mode adaptor,” describes a method in which a user can take a picture at a certain resolution and refocus the resulting image after the fact. Also noted in the patent is the inclusion of such a system in portable devices, like an iPhone.

The way Apple’s refocusable camera works is different from Lytro’s light-field camera.

Unlike Lytro, Apple’s design employs a movable adaptor situated between the lens element and the imaging sensor. The adaptor holds the microlens array, meaning the camera can operate in two separate modes: high-resolution non-refocusable and low-resolution refocuasable. Lytro’s microlens component can also be moved closer and farther from the sensor, but cannot be completely removed from the light path.

Tencent’s 1 billion users and it just got started on the international market

Steve Tappin writes on his LinkedIn blog about Tencent’s charge to overtake Facebook.

Tencent has 818 million active users on its chat client QQ and 236 million active users on its messaging app WeChat.

The surge in popularity of WeChat is not surprising. It has many features and it encourages social connection.

WeChat has neatly fused together the open approach of social networks such as Twitter, where anyone can follow anybody, and more closed networks such as Facebook, which rely on mutual friend connections. It’s growing virally through social connection and not just social media.

Here are some features that set it apart from the competition.

  • Walkie-talkie mode – a push to talk feature to send voice messages
  • People nearby – finding people nearby who allow themselves to be discovered
  • Shake – connect to any users in the world who shake their phone at the same time
  • User ID – your account is not tied to the phone number so you can chat on another device by signing into your user ID

Tencent has also engaged stars, such as Lionel Messi and LeBron James, as brand ambassadors to help push the app to the international market.

Google uses over 40,000 Macs

9to5Mac reports on how Google use over 40,000 Macs.

While Google mentioned during the presentation that it supports four desktop OS platforms (OS X, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS) internally, it also said these days employees that want to use a platform other than Mac OS X “have to make a business case” to do so.

Mac OS X is the best operating system I have ever worked with. I can understand Google’s love for OS X.

OCZ files for bankruptcy. Toshiba swoops.

Pretty sad news. More importantly for consumers, if you’re currently shopping for an SSD, you might want to skip OCZ as it’s not obvious whether the warranties will be honored after the dust settles.

OCZ Files for Bankruptcy – Toshiba Offers to Buy the Assets

It’s sad to see OCZ going because they’ve been one of the pioneers in the consumer SSD industry. They were one of the most active companies when we started to see the first consumer SSDs in 2008/2009 but OCZ lost a ton of sales once Samsung and other major OEMs began to take the consumer SSD market seriously. It’s hard to say what ultimately killed OCZ without knowing their exact cost structure but I believe it was a combination of bad strategy (too many products and high production volumes) and engineering choices (low reliability) along with other things.

DIY cellphone that costs $200

$200 isn’t exactly cheap, though if you like tinkering and customization, this is definitely a cool project.

Build your own cellphone for $200

Currently at MIT’s Media Lab, Mellis has put all of the plans necessary to build and customize the phone up on Github, and also uploaded the circuit board plans to custom printer OSH Park, which will print three copies of the board for around $60. As for the casing, there are detailed instructions for a simple laser-cut plywood case, but several Media Lab members have crafted their own cases in a variety of shapes and hues, using milling, laser cutting, and 3D printing. Mellis describes his DIY phone as “a difficult but potentially do-able project” that should cost around $200 to complete.

Now trending: $4 billion

With Snapchat reportedly turning down acquisition offers in the $4 billion range, it now feels that Facebook and Google got a pretty sweet deal to purchase Instagram and Waze for approximately $1 billion apiece. Will the next wave of acquisitions start from $4 billion?

Is $4 Billion the New $1 Billion?

Snapchat says its users post about 400 million total “snaps” a day. If each individual user posts about four a day, that would mean there would be about 100 million users, Backus says. If we use our mid-tier valuation for companies like Facebook and Twitter, or $100 per user, that would put Snapchat’s value at $10 billion.

Microsoft OneNote gets a major update

Think steroids.

Microsoft Issues Major Update to OneNote App for Windows