PC Shipments Mark Steepest Decline With 10 Percent Drop

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Personal-computer shipments fell 10 percent in 2013, marking the worst-ever decline after lackluster holiday sales underscored how consumers and businesses are shunning machines for mobile devices, two research firms said.

Manufacturers shipped 315.9 million units, returning to 2009 levels and making it the “worst decline in PC market history,” researcher Gartner Inc. said in a statement yesterday. IDC also said shipments had a record decline.

U.S. consumers omitted PCs from their holiday shopping lists while buyers in Asia opted for smartphones and tablets. More computing tasks are moving to websites and applications tailored for wireless gadgets, rather than software installed on laptops and desktops. The annual drop eclipsed the previous record decline of 3.9 percent in 2012, Gartner said.

“Consumer spending during the holidays did not come back to PCs as tablets were one of the hottest holiday items,” said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner. “In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet.”

Global sales fell 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter — the seventh straight drop — to 82.6 million units, Gartner said. IDC, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, reported a decline of 5.6 percent in the same period.

Corporate Upgrades

Lenovo Group Ltd. (996) maintained the No. 1 spot worldwide with 18.1 percent market share in the fourth quarter, helped by a 6.6 percent increase in shipments, according to Gartner. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) was second with a 16.4 percent share as shipments declined 7.2 percent. Dell Inc. was third, the researcher said.

“We are extremely optimistic about the future of the $200 billion-plus PC industry,” Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We continue to outperform the market while steadily improving profit and margin.”

Lenovo shipped 14 million PCs in the last quarter, it said.

Growth in the PC market has become dependent on consumers and businesses replacing existing machines, rather than wooing new buyers. Enterprise demand is being driven in part by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s plan to end support for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system in April, compelling businesses to buy new PCs along with software upgrades.

U.S. shipments shrank 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter to 15.8 million units, Gartner said. Unit sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell 6.7 percent to 25.8 million, while the Asia-Pacific region saw a 9.8 percent decline to 26.5 million.

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Loren Loverde, an analyst at IDC, said the decline in PC shipments was the worst since the researcher started tracking data in 1981, with the previous record seen in 2001, when sales shrank 3.7 percent.

“We don’t think it’s quite the bottom yet,” Loverde said. IDC is predicting a 3.8 percent decline in PC shipments for 2014 this year, and then growth of less than 1 percent in 2015, he said.

Source – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-09/pc-shipments-drop-6-9-percent-in-weak-holiday-shopping.html

“Tonight there’s gonna be a Jailbreak”: How the iPad sets a worrying precedent for the PC Tablet

Introduced in 2010, Apple’s iPad has been met with generally favourable reviews and sales, becoming far and away the most popular tablet computer on the world market. Sort of a ‘halfway house’ between and iPhone and Macbook, the iPad is an impressive gadget indeed. It runs a great many programs, and comes with up to 64GB of memory, not bad for a thing not much fatter than a short novel (and not much bigger, either). In fact, it has a great many appealing features. 

But that’s not what bothers me about the iPad. Apple has been a real breakout force in recent years. The combination of space-age design, virus resistance, superior operating systems and an increasing emphasis on user-friendly, trendy peripherals aimed squarely at the consumer market (iPhone, iPod etc), have seen the one time nerd-only machines evolve into the last word in consumer gadgetry. Apple finally rose up and challenged Microsoft’s much-vaunted industry dominance. This can only be a good thing for a marketplace mainly presided upon by one company; because where there is competition, there are fairer prices and a good deal more innovation. 

So what’s my problem? When I said the iPad ran a great many programs, did I mention that they were all exclusively Apple programs? Yes, you heard right, Apple only allow Apple programs on their newest computer. OK, the iPad is not an iMac or whatever, but it does set a worrying precedent. Here is a company, an industry leader no less, selling a machine so inflexible that it is no longer up to you what programs you run? Doesn’t that sound a little less 2011 and a little more 1984?   

Now, inasmuch as there are relatively few industry giants in the field of computers and etc, there are literally hundreds of thousands of software developers out there, many are working on innovative and intriguing ideas. Often, in business, mastery of specialist software can be the make-or-break between getting a client and merely getting in line. So if everybody is using the same products, we end up with a rather dreary and uncompetitive market, as well as a veritable ton of job loss. 

The act of ‘jailbreaking’ an iPad (so that it will use outside software) is becoming widespread, this ought to be a clear sign to Steve and the gang that people want the freedom to run whatever the hell they like on the products they paid their hard-earned money for. It suggests, in bold primary colours, that they like the product, but not the lack of choice. Jobs has announced that, as a result of this stipulation, the iPad is “porn free” which is all very well and good, but supposing iPad users like porn? Isn’t it their right to do what they please within the limits of the law? Opinion time, people. 

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Boy, time flies when you’re having fun (read that as: things change when you aren’t looking). Turn on the TV, or go to the movies after a couple years away and you’ll find that Pokemon is now pronounced ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ and that early 90’s Shawn Michaels and late 90’s Val Venis have had a baby and named it Dolph Ziggler.

What’s more, it turns out that the fictional world of ‘Pandora’ from the movie Avatar was actually Superman’s homeworld of Krypton after all and, as a related point, ‘Prince of Persia’ is no longer the worst movie I’ve ever seen. In fact, after viewing the risible ‘Man of Steel’ I can now accept ‘Prince of Persia’ as the underrated cinematic classic it appears to be by comparison.

Anyway, the point is that it seems like only a few months ago that I was (favourably) reviewing The Samsung Galaxy Note and now, here I am reviewing a slightly bigger version. Ah, well, join me as I turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…

THE SPECS

The design is nice, smart and modern. The rounded edges and sleek casing of this tablet help it to stand out (if only a little), but also allow it to remain familiar to users picking it up for the first time.

As a hybrid of phone and tablet, referred to by some (stupidly) as a ‘phablet’ this device is quite hotly anticipated and finds itself in somewhat virgin territory. However, as we will soon see, the design is very much more tablet than phone.

Fitted with a 1.6GHz Exynos 4412 quad-core processor and housing 2GB of memory, this tablet goes like the script for ‘Man of Steel’ off of a shovel. As a web device, the Galaxy Note 8 is genuinely lightening quick, even faster than the iPad 4.

As for the screen, the Note 8 features a basically standard resolution. We’re talking Nexus-level here. Not bad at all, but certainly not a Retina screen.

Annoyingly, the Note 8 only runs about 5 hours of battery life, this is really not very good, especially when you consider that the iPad 4 boasts more than twice that amount.

THE PRICE

If you’re wondering why I’m comparing the new Note with the iPad so much, well, let me explain. At £339, this is a high-priced tablet. It is therefore directly competing with the iPad for customers; however, the Note is competing without the strength of Apple’s brand identity to prop it up. Also, your £340 only covers the WiFi-only, 16GB version of the Note 8, not the top-spec version.

So far, I’m not convinced, but there’s always time to change my mind. 

THE PERFORMANCE

There are too many pre-loaded apps on this tablet, the reason why this is a problem is that customers are largely familiar with Google’s apps (available from the Android store) and so it sort of feels that Samsung are pushing their own apps at you when you don’t necessarily want them to. 

Taking advantage of the bigger screen is the excellent ‘Multi-Window’ option that allows you to have two apps operating on screen at any given time. This is actually a wonderful option to have and the processing power of the Note 8 allows for few interruptions, its really cool.

Using this tablet is easy, the stylus works well and there’s even a SIM card slot for phone calls. The array of extra features available here, shows that Samsung have poured a considerable amount of time and effort into this one.

THE VERDICT

All told, this is a good tablet. It is, however, not a great tablet. I have a hard time justifying it at the price, to be honest. If you’re looking for a phone/tablet hybrid, this is one of the best around, but how many of you are really making phone calls with your tablets?

If Samsung knocked a few notes off of the price, we’d be looking at a real winner. As a value tablet (more in line, price-wise, with the larger versions of The Nexus or Kindle Fire models), the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would be something rather interesting, but at this price? No, I can’t recommend it.

It’s certainly not a steaming pile of ‘Man of Steel’, but, by the same token, we’re not looking at a future classic either.  

Reviews of the The iPad Air

In many ways, 2014 is going to be a lot like 2013, tablet-wise. Android tablets will continue to sell well, overly sensitive techie types will still cling to the idea that Windows 8 is simply ‘misunderstood’ (wilfully ignorant of the general consensus that it is complete and utter arse) and tablets will spring from the most unlikely of places (keep an eye out for the Co-Op ‘Tumblewumblebum’ and the Play.com ‘Zworfnik’). However, the trend least likely to change is that of an iPad leading the pack. We know this because Apple have just released the iPad Air…And it kicks major ass. Continue reading

Tablet Wars: Who’s Xooming Whom?

How does the Nexus 10 compare to that apple ipad 4?

It in reality holds up very well. In truth, there’s very little to choose between the two.

I must say that both devices are utterly brilliant. Neither one would make for a bad tablet choice, so either way you are onto a winner.

Due to a closeness of the rivalry, a lot of the response is going to be subjective. Because I’m a bigger admirer of Apple’s iOS than I am of Google’s Android (although I do like Android lots) I’ll say that the iPad is a better deal. Again, that is just my opinion. I’ve been using Apple computers for numerous years now and I’d in my opinion not go over to anything else.

So, in order to answer this question in more detail, I went in for a second opinion. To the end, I spoke to Seb Warren, who is the founder of that modern online customer tech group AppleFanBoii, as well as the tech expert and all-round pleasant chap.

For Seb (who, admittedly, is really a little biased) the Nexus 10 has instant reward over the apple ipad within the areas of cost and also the customizability of Android (compared with iOS). “In my opinion, and this is coming from an Apple fanboy, Android wins” he said, “The iPad 4 remains to be running iOS 6, which includes a boring, stale design. However, you may make the Nexus 10 your own”

He followed to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow ‘Apple-ites’ (they hate it when I call them that) by praising the iPad’s user-friendliness “If you want a tablet pc for easy use, then its apple ipad 4 for sure” he laughed, before adding “…and the screen is gorgeous”.

In terms of basic stats, the Google nexus 10 is lighter than the apple ipad 4 by some 50g, that is substantial and renders the Google nexus 10 as a more portable of the two. Though, the apple ipad 4 has a slightly enhanced battery life. The iPad has an option for around 64GB of space for storing, whereas the Google nexus 10 only goes as high as 32GB.

Which really surprised me is that the Nexus 10 in fact has a higher screen resolution than the apple ipad 4. The Retina Display may become a great bit of branding, but recent tablet pc’s, like The Microsoft Surface, have equalled it (and also bettered it a few times) by way of display quality.

Oddly, very tech minded amongst you might find the Nexus 10 to be a better experience; it’s also the selection to make if money can be a large reason in your decision. Yet, the apple ipad, with its winning mixture of dependability, sterling popularity, ease of use and access to the best app store about is unquestionably well worth the extra cash in my opinion.