Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's Official: 2013 was the Year of the Chromebook!

I posted here and here that Chromebooks were selling well this holiday season.

Now we have some "official" numbers:
NPD says that Chromebooks made up 21% of 2013 US laptop sales and 10% of all sales of tablets and computers.

Currently, there are at most a few hundred Chrome "Packaged" Apps... imagine what sales will be like next year when there should be thousands available. For those developers looking to get on the band wagon, start with:

And be sure to check out the Dart Programming Language, it's a much more maintainable way of handling Javascript.

Here's a few of the headlines talking about this:

Google's Threat To Microsoft, Chromebooks Are Now 21% Of Notebooks And 10% Of All Computers And Tablets - Forbes

Chromebooks surge at business in 2013, researcher says | Mobile - CNET News

Chromebooks' success punches Microsoft in the gut - Computerworld

Chromebook sales surge during holidays -- raising big questions for Microsoft | VentureBeat

Chromebooks climb up the notebook sales charts - Liliputing

Wow, from zero to 21% in just two years! Now we know why Microsoft launched a desperate campaign to discourage people from buying Chromebooks.

These ads have generally been ridiculed by people that actually know something about Chromebooks. For example: Are Chromebooks useless as a brick when offline? These apps prove otherwise | CITEworld

And of course we have a whole new class of Chrome device on the way:
Wait, that's no 21.5-inch monitor, it's an all-in-one LG Chromebase PC • The Register

Sunday, December 22, 2013

More Watching Holiday Sales 2013

This is a continuation of my earlier article: Watching Computer and Tablet Sales in the 2013 Holiday Season.

Here is a summary of Amazon's best selling computers and accessories list 11/28 through 12/22. These results are from the top 20, sampled each night at 4am MST each of the 25 days. The number given below is the number of days a model of the listed category appears in the top 20 list. As multiple models exist in some of the categories, the number can be bigger than 25.

Kindle Fire (various models and sizes)216
Samsung Galaxy Tab (various models and sizes)67
Apple iPad minis (16gb, non-retina, 2 models)43 (24 black, 19 white)
Samsung Chromebook23
Nexus 722
Microsoft Surface RT (32gb)21
Acer Chromebook13
ASUS T100 (Windows hybrid)7
Lenovo IdeaPad 7" (Android)2
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.11

Only 2 Windows laptops ever appeared on the list (2 different ones from HP, one day each).
No desktop computer of any kind made the top 20.
Other than the cheapest iPad minis, Apple was absent from the top 20.
There were various whitebox tablets appearing occasionally (Android), though less than last year.

In summary, it is clear that Android tablets and Chromebooks dominated again this year.
Windows hybrids increased. Apple decreased. The Microsoft Surface RT above is the old model... one assumes the greatly lowered price is what attracted people.

Watching the customers in the local stores

This covers my stopping by local Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples and Office Depot stores 12/12-12/21.
First, I was impressed to find that ALL of the stores were carrying Chromebooks. In fact, Chromebooks were the only laptop/desktop/tablet carried by all of the stores. (iPads are not available at Staples.)

  • Best Buy is not doing very well this holiday season. They had less than half the traffic they had last year.
  • I added a Best Buy store to monitor in addition to the one in my town. This other store serves two cities slightly smaller than the one I live in, but combined are bigger than the city I live in. The second Best Buy does not have an Apple store, but does carry 2 Macbooks and has the usual iPad section. It also does not have a Windows store. It does have a Samsung store.
  • Chromebooks continued to be interesting to people. They were even more popular at the Best Buy I added.
  • The second Best Buy was doing a huge volume of Android tablet sales. For example, a cardboard isle display "shipper" of  Samsung Galaxy Tab 7" tablets came with 120 tablets. 96 were already sold as of 12/19. To put that in perspective our 2 local Targets have less than a dozen iPads (2 models) in stock at each store. Our local Best Buy (not the second one) carries around 4 dozen iPads in stock. (Probably 10 different models).
  • The Samsung Store consistently had more business than the other individual stores at Best Buy. It was one of the few places where you almost always had customers. This was true in both Best Buys.
  • In all the store visits I made, I only saw 6 customers look at iPads, one customer look at MacBooks and one customer look at iMacs. This is flat-out weird. Last year I saw many dozens of customers looking at Apple products. (Our nearest "real" Apple Store is 65 miles away, so this mini store in my local Best Buy is the primary place to look at things Apple for more than 500,000 people.)
  • Windows laptops sold poorly. Better than Apple, but still quite poorly.
  • Desktop machines just didn't sell at all.
  • Office Depot had a crazy sale on Nexus 7s ($50 off! -- remember they are only $229 to begin with).
  • Ignoring times when they had special sale prices (for example Black Friday). Target, Walmart, Staples and Office Depot sold very few tablets or laptops. They generally had small inventories which did not seem to change much. This was decidedly different than last year.
  • Watching shoppers in Best Buy, I am suspecting that Apple is losing a fair number of iPad users to Kindle Fires. The customers in question were clearly using the tablets as consumer devices. In such an instance, a Kindle Fire gives you a lot more for much less money.
  • While I don't cover phones (as they are sold in too many places and in too many complicated ways)... I will say that phones easily outsold other computing devices. Phones had 3 times or more traffic in Best Buy than the rest of computing devices combined.
  • On the last Saturday before Christmas, the Microsoft Surface was again seeing a lot of interest. I watched it more closely this time. I think it occurs mostly when a specially trained employee is present. They seem to be good a getting people to try them. I never saw a single one sold though. However, I did over the course of the holidays see around 16 people try them. Compare that to the 6 I saw trying iPads and you can understand why I'm concerned about Apple.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Linux News

General Linux News:

This new file system is one of the most advanced I've ever seen:
Btrfs: Exploring its powerful filesystem subvolumes and snapshots | ZDNet

Come on Google, we've been patient for years now... what's the problem?
Google Drive for Linux? Patience, patience... | Internet & Media - CNET News

I find it interesting that the industry is going to start with open source. I've seen several industries coalesce around open source (routers for instance), but not one start that way.
Open source will let your fridge send messages to your TV and phone | Ars Technica

Canonical's getting a bit annoying:
Shuttleworth defends Mir, strikes out at Open Source Tea Party | ZDNet

Will Canonical force Linux Mint to license Ubuntu binary packages? | ITworld

A few new Linux distributions of note:
Linux Lite Is Heavy on Features and Usability | Reviews | LinuxInsider

Out in the Open: Say Hello to the Apple of Linux OSes | Wired Enterprise |

SmartOS (This one is for cloud servers)

Wow... Linux alternatives:
OSv: The Open Source Cloud Operating System That is Not Linux |

Fed up with Windows? Linux too easy? Get weird, go ALTERNATIVE • The Register

Think of Docker as being the basis for an App Store for servers. Or maybe a better way is thinking of it as providing servers the ease of app installation and security separation that smartphones have. Anyway, it bears watching.
The Future of Cloud Computing Now Runs on All Versions of Linux | Wired Enterprise |

Docker 0.7 has a lover in every port: Containerizer cozies up to Linux distros • The Register

Valve and their new SteamOS is all over the news:
Steam now 65 million users strong as Valve makes a push for the living room

Valve renews Linux commitment, Microsoft and Sony should worry | ZDNet

Valve Lines Up Console Partners in Challenge to Microsoft, Sony - Bloomberg

SteamOS: What You Need To Know First

Steam OS review - from a Linux user's point of view | Muktware

How to Install the SteamOS Beta on Your Computer

Legacy News (Apple MacOS, iOS and Microsoft Windows)

As I've been saying in this blog, it looks like a bad year for traditional PCs:

Canalys: Half Of All PCs Shipped in 2014 Will Be Tablets; Android 65%, Apple 30% | TechCrunch

PC shipments to decline further; no significant recovery expected | ZDNet

BBC News - PC shipments to see 'most severe yearly fall on record'

Microsoft still not getting anything right:
Windows 7 better than latest Microsoft OS

Microsoft retracts Windows 7 PC end-of-sales deadline - Computerworld

Sadly, the PC Industry Doesn’t Deserve a Place as Nice as the Microsoft Store |

It will be too late by the times that version of Windows ships...
Microsoft Could Bring Back The Start Menu In The Next Version Of Windows | TechCrunch

Touchscreen PCs expected to take 11 percent of 2013 notebook shipments
I'm betting there will be more than 11 percent as it is nearly impossible to find a Windows laptop without a touchscreen. I am also betting that almost no one that bought one will still be using the touchscreen a month after purchasing it (hybrids excepted as one would use the touchscreen when in tablet mode).

Is Apple cutting prices for carriers and retailers to protect market share?
I'm seeing a lot of articles like this one:
Wal-Mart to sell iPhone 5c for $27 with contract on Friday -
Oddly, there were places on Black Friday that had discounts on iPads and iPhones. These places could be taken less profit or even losses, but it was widespread enough to make one wonder if Apple wasn't giving them discounts. We will know more in February when we see Apple's profit margins.

Non-Android Linux-based Mobile OS News

A roundup of Firefox OS, Tizen, Jolla and Ubuntu News.
There's a lot this time.

Android Device News

Monthly posting of most interesting/important devices released in the last "month".

Here's the one that's clearly the most important:
Review: Google’s $179 Moto G puts every single cheap Android phone to shame | Ars Technica

Ematic introduces $100 quad-core Android tablet - Liliputing

Zopo ZP988 is the first phone with MediaTek's 8-core CPU - Liliputing

Oppo N1 Review, a massive Android phone packed with unique hardware

Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet (video) - Liliputing

Smaller phones are making a come back. Samsung reversed itself and released the S4-mini in the US. HTC has a mini. The Moto X is a mini.
LG reportedly working on a G2 Mini - Android Authority

Not Android, but represents a new class of device:
Acer Aspire Z3-600 is a "portable" all-in-one Windows PC - Liliputing

So where is the expected smartwatch frenzy?
ZTE to join the smartwatch frenzy | Mobile - CNET News

Chromecast News

This likely my last Chromecast blog post as it's only marginally within the definition of the blog.

Chromecast is now firmly established.

Google now has good way for you to find Chromecast enabled apps.

Here are the latest additions:
Google Announces 10 New Streaming Apps For Chromecast – ReadWrite

You'll likely see more of this sort of side usage of Chromecast soon:
Google improves its Santa tracking with a Chromecast-ready Android app (video)

And this is how Google intends to get around the uncooperative app vendors:
Android 4.4.1 shows signs that mirroring to Chromecast is coming soon

Really the only question in my mind is when will Amazon Video get there?

Chromebook/box/tablet News

The lead story is that Microsoft has fully admitted that Chromebooks are a serious threat!

The Latest Chromebook Advertisement is from Microsoft – Chrome Story

If Microsoft Says Chromebooks Are a Con, It’s a Compliment to Chromebooks |

Are there going to be ChromeTablets? [Pretty clearly Google has been building up to that for a while now.]
Chrome OS updates point to possibility of Chrome tablets - Liliputing

New device news:

Acer has several C720 models:
Acer Intros Thinner, Longer-Lasting C720 Chromebook | News & Opinion |

Haswell comes to Chromebooks with Acer's new C720-2800 for just $250 | PCWorld

Including the C720P which has a touchscreen:
Acer launches $300 Chromebook with a touchscreen display - Liliputing

LG getting ready to launch its first Chrome OS devices

New Asus Chromebooks in Q1 2014 – Chrome Story

Dell joins the Chrome OS club with Chromebook 11

There are now lots of Chromebook reviews available... here are a few:
Chromebook shootout: Which is best, the Samsung, Acer 720 or HP Chromebook 14? | ITworld

Google laptop rates a victory lap - Business - The Boston Globe

Chrome Apps News

A new "monthly" post of new Chrome Apps.

Any.DO Creates A Chrome App With Offline Support And Dictation | Lifehacker Australia

500 Startups-backed Cubie brings its mobile messaging app to the desktop with a Chrome app - The Next Web

This next is like Sublime.
"Caret" – Text Editor App for Chrome – Chrome Story

Spark, A Chrome App from Google is an IDE for Your Chromebook – Chrome Story

Transcribe for Chrome Now Includes Dictation

This Chrome app takes the pain out of turning audio into text | CITEworld

Some other collections of new Chrome Apps:
Best Chrome apps for managing data, clients, money, and more | PCWorld

5 hot Google Chrome apps - The Times of India

ARM and Intel News

Well, it took them long enough, but I'm glad to see this:
Intel updating NUC mini-desktops with a 2.5 inch drive bay - Liliputing

Note, this next article was before the Google and Facebook rumors:
Intel's Data Center Business Will Decline By 5% Annually - Seeking Alpha

Google and Facebook may be going to stop using Intel chips in their data centers:
Now Facebook Is Looking At Dumping Intel For ARM - Forbes

Merrifield (upcoming Intel chips for phones) uninteresting at best:
Intel: Competitive Analysis Of The Upcoming 'Merrifield' System-On-Chip - Seeking Alpha

I said earlier that these TV set top boxes were a distraction for Intel... may be a money loser as well:
Intel to Sell OnCue -

Good article about ARM's new 64-bit design:
AnandTech | Ask the Experts: ARM's Cortex A53 Lead Architect, Peter Greenhalgh

The short version:
Qualcomm goes to mobile 64-bit - Snapdragon 410 on the drawing board | TechEye

More in depth coverage:
AnandTech | Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 410 Based on 64-bit ARM Cortex A53

Developer Boards and Mini-Devices

Software to assist your setting up these devices.

Android News

KitKat Released

This is a collection of important development related articles.

Google Says It Could Replace Dalvik Runtime In Next Version Of Android – ReadWrite

App makers, here’s what you need to know about Android 4.4 KitKat (Videos) - Android Authority

Today in APIs: Google Android Camera API, and 17 New APIs

How Google Shrank Android For Version 4.4 KitKat – ReadWrite

Android Development Issues

Samsung wants Android apps that stand apart, starting now | Mobile - CNET News

Android Has Solved Its Revenue Problem - Business Insider

iOS vs Android market demographics:
Android: The OS For Serious People? - Forbes

With Android firmly in the lead (both in new market share and overall installed base), the questions is why do developers often do iOS first? Here are several perspectives:

Here’s Why Mobile Startups Prefer Apple’s iOS Over Google’s Android | Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Why Android First is a Myth | steve cheney – technology, business & strategy

Why developers choose Android - Android Authority

Phone-related News Relevant to Android

Did T-Mobile actually change the wireless industry? - The Washington Post

Ditch your contract, and go unlocked - here's why - Android Authority

Dropping Prices Are Driving Mass Smartphone Adoption Across The World – ReadWrite

Bluetooth 4.1: What It Means For Developers And Consumers – ReadWrite

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Strange, Possibly Humorous News

I'm a bit behind on my posting, so there was a lot built up, but wow, what weird stuff we have today.

First up, bras and software... not a combination you see all that often:

How Selfies And an iPhone App Could Get You A Better-Fitting Bra – ReadWrite

Stress-buster: Microsoft bra battles emotional overeating | Crave - CNET

Open Source does not want to be left behind in the strange news:

If you make it to the end of this song, leave a comment saying what it's about... really it's so bad I don't make it more than a few seconds.  Yes, it's that Richard Stallman....
▶ Richard Stallman Free software Song - YouTube

This is both strange and terribly, terribly funny. This is not a joke (which is why it's so funny).
Richard Stallman decides EMACS should go WYSIWYG • The Register

This next is a GPL'ed game that simulates building you own Linux distribution. He's even trying to charge money for it.
Linux Tycoon

Microsoft in the last couple of weeks made some big boners in trying to make fun of Google. First they made some tee-shirts/coffee mugs accusing Google of various nefarious acts. The sold out very quickly... you see Googler employees saw it for what it really was, proof positive that Microsoft is on the run and they wanted a souvenir to commemorate the event. Microsoft also took swipes at Chromebooks, failing to realize everything they said about Chromebooks was also true about Windows RT and Windows Phone.

Microsoft Now Sells T-Shirts That Claim Google’s Chrome Steals Your Data | TechCrunch

Microsoft Enters Wearable Computing with Chrome on a T-Shirt – Chrome Story

A Collective Bah! for Redmond's Humbug | Community | LinuxInsider

Amazon seriously said they were looking at drones to do residential package delivery. The noise alone is likely to make that end badly... but it generated a lot of press and jokes:

And some miscellany:

Friday, December 13, 2013

This blog now has its own domain name.

Please update your RSS feeds to come from:

If you have a link to the blog, please switch the link to:

As I've posted on this blog before, I am concerned that Google might discontinue Blogger.
As a part of insulating myself against such a change, I've acquired the domain name and will shortly be changing all the links on the blog to point directly there. Should Google stop supporting Blogger, it would then be a relatively easy change to move the blog elsewhere (such as

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Watching Computer and Tablet Sales in the 2013 Holiday Season

One of this blog's early popular posts was when I did this same topic last holiday season. Continuing in the same way as I did before, first let me describe where my data comes from:

Starting with Thanksgiving Day, I visited my local Best Buy several times. I have also made similar visits to Staples, Target, Office Depot and Walmart. On these visits I monitor how many are looking at what items in the Computer/Tablet sections and chat with employees in that store section. Last year I also checked to see which touch screens were dirty, but alas, the stores have started cleaning them often and that is no longer useful. Daily, I also monitor the Amazon Bestsellers list, looking mostly at the top 20 for Tablets and Laptops, but also occasionally looking at the whole top 100 and also Desktops.

This methodology is obviously partially anecdotal, but at least last year I wasn't all that far off.

Below is a summary of my observations:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Android Device News

This month's most unusual or important Android Devices.

First some really annoying news:
Samsung rumored to put chips in accessories to curb sales of unofficial products

Details on Samsung’s purported plan to kill unofficial accessories

Samsung gets more like Apple every day.

Smart Watches

Smart watches, not glasses, I think are the next big thing. One of the primary reasons is fitness tracking.

The Time Has Come For Smartwatches – ReadWrite

AIRO wristband tracks not just sleep, exercise and stress, but also what you eat

I was interested until I saw the price. Does this thing use Intel/Windows or something? :-)
Qualcomm Toq release date set for December 2, will cost $349

Review: Withings Pulse with built-in heart rate monitor

Neptune Pine smartwatch gets reinvented, reaches Kickstarter target in less than a day - Android Authority


Inexpensive Unu Tablet Also Acts as Media Center | Sci-Tech Today

This $279 tablet is considerably nicer than an iPad 2:
Archos 101 XS 2 tablet coming in December for $279 - Liliputing

You'll be able to buy a 20 inch, 4K tablet in January (for $6000) - Liliputing

Samsung Galaxy Note 12.2 visits the FCC - Liliputing

Kid's Tablets

MEEP! X2 tablet for kids is faster, slimmer, still costs $150 - Liliputing

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids priced at $230, arrives to the U.S. in Nov.


Samsung changed their minds, it is clear that a small phone has its place in the US market:
Samsung brings smaller version of S4 to US -

Motorola's make your own smartphone out of modules is so different and interesting, I'm including three articles about it!
Motorola's 'Project Ara' modular smartphone setup switches out hardware like apps

Motorola's Project Ara aims to build modular, upgradeable phones - Liliputing

Motorola Taps 3D Systems To Produce Parts For Its Crazy Modular Smartphones | TechCrunch

The Moto G is very interesting. This is a real Apple killer in the long run:
Motorola Announces The Moto G: What The iPhone 5C Should Have Been – ReadWrite

Moto G unboxing and first impressions

Miscellaneous Devices

Acer's new 2560 x 1440 pixel smart display has Tegra 4, Android - Liliputing

Devon's Ceptor thin client-on-a-stick now available for $99 - Liliputing

Here's how Dell's Wyse Cloud Client works (pocket-sized thin client) - Liliputing

ARM and Intel News

I've been watching the new hardware coming out for the holidays, and there is very little Bay Trail.
What little Bay Trail is there is in tablets or hybrids and tends to be the slower version and has small screens.
Bay Trail technology Celeron and Pentium are making some appearances in laptops, but there is a serious problem. At least with Windows, they are only in touch screen laptops. Worse most, possibly all, have only 2 gb of memory and they all have standard hard drives. As it is the same specs from several OEMs, one wonders if Intel is not putting these restrictions on the OEMs to keep these systems from undercutting the still expensive ultrabooks. To me it looks like the intentionally crippled netbooks all over again.

Notes from Chrome Dev Summit 2013

I watched all of the first day of the Chrome Dev Summit live stream and part of the second day.

I won't summarize the sessions as they were highly technical and fast paced.
You can find the sessions and schedule at:
Day one and day two live streams are recorded on YouTube.

Here are some interesting tidbits that were revealed:

  1. Google is taking the offline web very seriously. A few years ago, they talked about being continually connected. This has stopped. They fully realize that there are just too many situations where you have no or poor connectivity. Going forward one can expect to see many tools and APIs to help handle the issue.
  2. Dart 1.0 was released a few days before this conference and was a major topic. Google made it completely clear that they believe that Dart is now ready for the production of commercial grade apps. This includes those pieces of Polymer that are present in the Dart library. Google is using Dart internally in a big way.
  3. They did a really good demonstration of Web Media APIs. At least in Chrome, most of these are ready to use. They gave some very impressive demos. Firefox and Opera are busy catching up.
  4. Chrome Packaged Apps are a complex topic, but the summary they gave managed to touch many areas. This is a ripe area for developers, with Windows and ChromeOS already having full support and MacOS and Linux nearing completion. One sad piece of news though, the parallel track for mobile versions of Chrome Packaged Apps delivered via PhoneGap is a bit behind schedule. At this point they are not expecting the Android version to enter "betaish" until January. They made a great case for being able to leverage one JavaScript (or better yet Dart) code base to deliver an application across different platforms and devices.
  5. Portable Native Client is now ready for prime time. (This is a way to put C/C++ code safely into a web app, preserving near native performance. PNaCl automatically translates your code for the underlying client architecture (Intel/ARM)).
  6. Their performance sessions were extremely in depth. It is amazing what you can do with Chrome Developer Tools to improve performance.

Chromecast News

It looks like we may be getting close to the average app developer being able to release something for Chromecast:
Chromecast May Be Breaking Out Soon – ReadWrite

Here are some of the latest things to become available for Chromecast:

Google Chromecast app released outside the US - SlashGear

Hulu Plus for Chromecast live on iPhone « Hulu Blog

Pandora’s iOS and Android apps now support Google’s Chromecast streaming stick — Tech News and Analysis

HBO Go Chromecast added to Android and iOS apps

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tablet and Smartphone Market Share 3Q13 (IDC)

These numbers are according to IDC:

In the smart phone market, IDC did not break out by OS, however, we know Nokia had 8.8 million units sold in 3Q, so that would be 3.5% of the market, making Windows Phone overall < 4%. IDC says that Apple's share was 13.4% down from 15.6% last year.

World Smartphone Marketshare 3Q13
Apple iOS13.4%
Windows Phone~4%

Windows tablet market share was listed only as "struggling" by IDC, I'll give it 4%, it may well be significantly less.

World Tablet Marketshare 3Q13
Apple iOS29.6%
Windows Phone~4%

IDC, in the tradition of market analysts sucking up to the companies they cover, said:
However, with the new iPad Air shipping November 1st and the refreshed iPad mini with Retina scheduled to roll out later in November, IDC expects Apple to enjoy robust shipment growth during the fourth quarter.

This is of course silly. Apple unwisely raised the price of its new mini. It has severe screen supply problems with the new mini. Mini and iPad 2 sales dominated last holiday season. Android vendors have plenty of new tablets for the holidays not shipping yet too. Add to this iOS 7 woes and it is very likely that Apple will fall even further behind in 4Q13 and IDC surely knows this. Beyond marketshare loss, a contraction in number of units shipped (4Q12 vs 4Q13) is not out of the question.

Samsung's share grows while Apple's declines in Q3 smartphone market - Computerworld

Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Grew In Q3 While Chinese Demand For Low-Cost Android Devices Hurt Apple’s Market Share

IDC on tablet market in Q3: Android up, iPad down, Windows struggling | ZDNet

Apple's tablet lead shrinks as Android gains momentum | PCWorld

iPad market share dips to less than 30% while tablet market grew 7%

Nokia Lumia sales hit record 8.8 million in Q3, North America doubles | The Verge

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Apple Censors iOS 7 Users Talking about Warranty Rights

The lead story in this Apple news update is that Apple is censoring its support blogs to keep users from finding out about their warranty rights.

Apple censors Lawrence Lessig over warranty information; iOS 7 mess grows

Make sure you read Lessig's post as well:
Wow, or from the When-Apple-Became-the-Borg Department

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Live" Blogging the Apple iPad Event

[Synopsis: Apple launches two new iPads. Neither are cost competitive with Android. iPad mini with retina display costs $399!!! It clearly is delayed, time will tell whether or not supply chain problems will make it essentially unavailable for the holiday season. OS X Maveriks will be a free upgrade. All in all one can regard the new iPads as an early Christmas present for Android vendors. These tablets, especially given the problems with iOS 7 and the A7 processor that is in the iPhone 5S and both new iPads, virtually guarantee a great holiday season for Android.]

This "live" blog is just my reactions to the Apple iPad Event. I tried to watch it via live stream, but Apple is apparently incompetent about such things. This is the third event in a row where they have screwed this up. Did everybody competent there move to Google or something?

Friday, October 18, 2013

More on iOS 7, iPhone 5S Problems

Well, the floodgates are opening. Because Apple commands so much ad money, many places avoid criticizing anything Apple. But once a few places do so, it becomes OK to talk about the obvious.

Anyway, I feel vindicated, I've only been talking about this since the day iOS 7 released [link, link, link, link]. The volume of news stories about individual bugs made it clear that iOS 7 had significant problems. Also, many Apple users just flat out do not like it.

I want you to take away three things from this article (and the ones linked to above):

  1. Apple has released its worst upgrade ever. It fails so badly it is kind of like Windows ME and Windows 8 combined.
  2. The iPhone 5S has sensors so faulty that it seems likely that Apple will have to recall all of them.
  3. iPhone 4 and 4S users are in major pain and Apple will not let them downgrade. If you have a 4 or 4S and have not yet "upgraded" you really should not do so. Apple should let these users downgrade.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Legacy Platform Update (Apple iOS, MacOS X and Microsoft Windows)

I generally intend to do this post once a month or so, but as Windows 8.1 released today, it seemed warranted to do an extra post this month.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

ChromeOS Revolution Update

Wow, this is what Amazon's best-selling laptops list contains as I write this (10/12/2013):
  • #1 Samsung Chromebook
  • #2 HP Chromebook 11 (White/Blue)
  • #6 Acer C720-2800 11.6-Inch Chromebook
  • #7 Acer C710-2834 11.6-Inch Chromebook
  • #36 Acer C710-2833 11.6-Inch Chromebook
  • #37 11.6" Acer C7 C710-2856 Chromebook
  • #89 Acer C7 C710-2847 Chromebook
Amazon doesn't publish such details, but the Samsung Chromebook has been #1 on the list nearly every day since it shipped about a year ago. (It's possible it has been on the list every day, I've never seen it not be #1 on the laptop list.) The top two laptops are both Chromebooks and ARM-based, not Intel-based.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Strange, Possibly Humorous News

Nokia Wants to Use Lightning to Charge Your Phone [VIDEO]

If you were trying to prove your embarrasing mapping system was all fixed, you certainly would not want to route motorists onto an airport runway. However, if you did do that by mistake, surely you wouldn't do it again?
Apple maps route to AK airport runway reactivated - Times Leader

The funniest part is that a phone that is truly gold-plated only costs 5x what an iPhone 5S does.
The Gold HTC One is a $4,400 limited edition plated in real gold

IEF 2013: Get ready to buy your last light bulb ever - Absolutely FABulous | TechEye

Strange, definitely creapy news:
U.S. military commissions real-life liquid armor Iron Man suit | DVICE

Chromecast Status

Recently, the biggest news is that the Android Hulu Plus app supports Chromecast.

The Chromecast is selling very well:
Go On, Guess What Amazon's Top-Selling Gadget Is Right Now – ReadWrite

The big question everyone is asking is when will Google let developers release apps?
This has led to speculation that Google is favoring "Big Copyright":

Chromecast, 2 Months Later: Where Are All The Apps? – ReadWrite

What's Holding Up New Chromecast Apps? Nothing ... But Google, That Is – ReadWrite

Numerous competitors are in progress:
Mozilla developing Chromecast killer with tab mirroring from Firefox for Android

Roku Strikes Back Against The Chromecast Menace – ReadWrite

Android News

During the latest blog format change, I reduced the amount of Android I cover.
Android is an incredibly rich platform and if you really want to know what's going on, try Android Authority, but be prepared to get quickly overwhelmed.

Here's a summary of what's been important in the Android world in the last few weeks:

As always, Samsung is a "leader":
Android benchmarks: Almost every major device maker is cheating - Liliputing

The Apple bloggers try to make a big deal of this, but to me it is just as sign that Android really is the #1 computing platform. Back in the days of workstations, benchmarks were cheated on (CPU and compiler). Then came the PCs (CPU and graphics cards), when that started, you really just knew that Windows was ruling the world. Now, the computing world has moved on once again.

Not only does Android ship the most devices per quarter, but its installed base has probably passed Windows. (Windows has long claimed a billion users (which realistically is a device count), though one thinks it might have shrunk a bit. Google claims 800 million Google Play devices. That would not include Amazon or White Box devices not using Google Play, so it is likely that Android now has more "users" (devices) than Windows.

Anyway, it is clear where the numbers and growth are, so the hardware folks are cheating there now. They shouldn't do it, but they do and they will.

Android has over one billion activations! - Android Authority

This next one I think is important because it points out some weaknesses in Android. One can only hope Google is thinking about these things.
With HP’s Slatebook X2, Android’s Not Ready for Work Yet |

One reason I've not had much Android news is that most of it has been device or app news. Also, I don't like to cover rumors. However, some stuff does seem to be known about KitKat and the Nexus 5 [which may be called the Nexus 4 (2013) as the new Nexus 7 is Nexus 7 (2013)].
Google Partners with KitKat for the Next Version of Android (Not a Typo) |

Nexus 5 design, Android 4.4 KitKat features detailed in new photo leak; LG-D821 gets second Bluetooth SIG sighting

At last it will be easy to find tablet apps.
Play Store change will make tablet apps more visible, starts Nov 21

Google did some research on Android's level of malware, this article covers it:
Contrary to what you’ve heard, Android is almost impenetrable to malware - Quartz

Legacy Platform Update (Apple iOS, MacOS, and Microsoft Windows)

iOS 7 News

iOS 7 continues to reveal an unprecedented level of bugs. If you get your Apple news only from Apple fan blogs you may not realize just how bad the problem is. Here is one metric (searches done around 1pm MDT on 10/11/2013):

Google News Search StringItems ReturnedDays Released
"ios 7" bug21,50023
"windows 8" bug8,460351
(All of Jelly Bean)
"android 4.3" bug
+"android 4.2" bug
+"android 4.1" bug

In a mere 23 days, the bugs in iOS 7 has generated 5 times the number of news stories that Android Jelly Bean bugs generated in over a year. The use of the word "unprecedented" seems thoroughly justified.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Celebrating 40,000 Pageviews

The blog is now 10 months old.

We have a new #1 most viewed post at 6,000 pageviews:
Arm vs Intel Benchmarks

#2 has 5,500 pageviews:
How to Live with Windows 8

#3 has 900 pageviews:
Alternatives to Microsoft Office

#4 has 690 pageviews:
Are Google (or Any Cloud-based) Products Trustworthy?

#5 has 680 pageviews:
Why Ultrabooks Do Not Sell Well and the Future of Laptops

#6 has 670 pageviews:
Microsoft's Best Buy-based Windows Stores - Impending Spectacular Failure

There are 327 posts.

Added Z3740 (Bay Trail at 1.3ghz) Benchmark

This is the processor in the new Asus T100.
There is only one benchmark value in Geekbench at this time, but it seems reasonable enough.
As always visit Arm vs Intel Benchmarks to see the chart (you can always access this via the Resources section at the top right of the page).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Non-Android Linux and Open Source News

I use MongoDB as my main database in my business. I really do not like SQL, MongoDB is easy to use. It is amazingly small. Our main server is an atom-based 4"x3"x1" box with a 16gb ssd and an external 2TB USB drive. It has 1gb of memory. Mongodb is so efficient that we've seen no need to get a bigger server, even though several other functions are on that system too.
MongoDB Leads Big Data With $150 M Infusion, Attracts Partners IBM, Microsoft And - Forbes

Wow, a Firefox OS box!
VIA APC $79 computer can now run Firefox OS (or Boot 2 Gecko) - Liliputing

Free Software Foundation celebrates 30th birthday - Stallman looks back | TechEye

The author of this list has really good taste in what he chose:
10 open-source alternatives for small business software | PCWorld

French National Police Switch 37,000 Desktop PCs to Linux | Wired Enterprise |

Analysis: Can SteamOS drag the PC game industry over to Linux? | Ars Technica

Arm and Intel News

While I've seen a few investing sites talking Intel up this week, but they've mostly taken it on the chin. Bay Trail is great and I'm sure it will make some very interesting inexpensive Windows laptops and hybrids, but its ability to make inroads into the tablet world remains to be seen. It's good, but the momentum is on the ARM-side. Intel has to be better than ARM to overcome that.

This next doesn't surprise me... what surprised me is that Lenovo dabbled with Intel on phones at all.
Intel dumped by Lenovo phone project - Playing it safe with Qualcomm | TechEye

Applied Micro is "the most likely immediate threat to Intel"These are server oriented chips based off ARM, but with enhancements.
Intel faces threat from tiny Sunnyvale upstart -

Well, it's good to see Intel facing yet more reality...
Intel labels Ultrabooks a "Failure" | SemiAccurate

While Apple used it's own design for the A7, there is reason to believe the Cortex A5X will perform similarly (indeed probably better, especially when handling 32-bit code). A lot has been learned since AMD designed the "Intel" x86-64 standard. Apparently there are some significant efficiencies in handling the new ARM 64-bit instruction set. This article talks about it from Apple's perspective, but it likely applies to servers as well.
Intel Corporation (INTC): Intel: Apple's A7 Chip Reveals Dangerous Trend - Seeking Alpha

I'd really love to know Bay Trail vs Haswell vs ARM real pricing... but the companies involved are infuriating when it comes to trying to find such information.
Intel ships low-power Core i3 Haswell chips for tablets, notebooks - Liliputing

Allwinner unveils Allwinner A80 Octa processor - Liliputing

The videos are worth watching (especially the second one).
ARM demoes a Cortex-powered future (videos)

Developer Boards and Mini-Devices

Today's SoC's really have to come on a board before you can use them. This new section of this regular post will cover this area of devices.

Cubietruck dev board with Allwinner A20 dual-core CPU now available for $89 - Liliputing

This looks really nice, my next server may be based off this one:
$139 Intel NUC with Bay Trail chip on the way - Liliputing

Arduino boards to run full Linux thanks to TI’s new ARM-based chipTechie News

Intel supplies open-source Galileo computer with Quark chip, targets DIY crowd - Computerworld

Android Device News

As I said last time, this post is done on a monthly basis and contains those devices that I find unusual or important. It is FAR from exhaustive. Small developer oriented boards are moving to ARM and Intel News as the SoCs generally need to be delivered on a board... in other words, they are now a "chip".

Google Glass and Competitors

My gut tells me that glasses as an always worn consumer platform is likely to fail - at best it is likely to be a fad. (Note, I only mean this statement for the next couple of years... with significant changes in battery life, weight, resolution, etc. it could change, though I still have doubts.) On the other hand, glasses as a specialized device for a specific use is already common. As the price for the technology falls, surely one will see it show up in gaming.

This company has shipped 50,000 devices (aimed at sports), uses Android:
Uh-oh Google Glassholes: Sugar daddy Intel strokes HUD goggles upstart • The Register

Ion Glasses Are a Stylish Alternative to Google Glass [VIDEO]

The Glass Development Kit Launch Will Finally Allow Glass To Live Up To Its Potential

Google announces U.S. Glass tour, starting with Durham on October 5th

Smart Watches

Nissan enters wearable tech market with Nismo Concept smartwatch- The Inquirer

Really, the only watch announced so far that I actually am intested in seeing:
Qualcomm Toq battery lasts for days, works well in bright light

I have real concerns about a smart phone tied to one place right against your body. Cell phone radiation is a known problem if you have prolonged exposure close up to one area:
A.I smartwatch is also a standalone Android smartphone (video)

Tablets and Phones

This next article is a good overview of "cheap" tablets now available. I include it because its the first review I've seen that includes a "white box" tablet in the set of tablets covered (the Hisense Sero 7 Pro). In many ways it is competitive with the iPad mini (which is now hopelessly behind most branded, Android 7 and 8 inch tablets).
Best Cheap Android Tablets (September 2013)

This tablet will be sold rebranded by NVIDIA partners:
NVIDIA unveils the Tegra Note (reference platform for Tegra 4 tablets) - Liliputing

HP really getting into Android:
HP Slates 7-HD, 7-Extreme, 8-Pro and 10-HD Cover Full Android Spectrum | Ubergizmo

This is a serious, decent smartphone for $189. Should be perfect for Junior High kids, so your world won't end when they squish it!
Kogan introduces $189 Agora quad-core smartphone - Liliputing

Amazon's not my favorite place for things Android, but for some users it seems to be a good place:
Review: The Kindle Fire HDX Is the Amazon-centric Tablet Finally Done Right |

Looks like Android's going to have the 2013 holiday season to itself (well, technically Windows is there too... but will anyone notice?):
Reuters: Retina iPad mini may not launch in 2013 due to supply constraints


Not Android, but I think the start of new competition for Android tablets. Not thrilled about pricing, but interesting none the less:
Hands-on: HP Spectre 13 x2 - first fanless detachable Haswell notebook

GameStick $79 Android game console hits the FCC, launching in October - Liliputing

Yet another use of Android in an unusual way:
RCA Internet Music System is a stereo powered by an Android tablet - Liliputing

Look back at older posts, I've been saying that custom hardware was just around the corner:
Now even supermarket chains are making cheap Android tablets | Ars Technica

Why, or why Samsung, did you make this only work with Samsung phones?
Samsung launches $299 HomeSync Android-powered media center - Liliputing

See, see, see... yet another way to get your own custom hardware:
Oracle introduces a DIY tablet, the DukePad - Android Authority

Spike Kickstarter Project Puts Accurate Laser Measurement Hardware Right On Your Smartphone | TechCrunch

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bill Gates Asked to Step Down as Microsoft Chairman

Reuters reports that 3 of the top 20 Microsoft investors are pushing for Bill Gates to resign as chairman.
The three investors are concerned that Gates' presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates' role on the special committee searching for Ballmer's successor.
Exclusive: Time for Gates to go, some top Microsoft investors tell board | Reuters

The article says there is no sign that Gates will actually be forced out, but it surely is a sign of serious trouble at Microsoft.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What Microsoft and Apple Need to Learn from the Blackberry Fiasco

The Globe and Mail is running a really good, in depth story about how Blackberry failed.

I think it contains some important lessons for Microsoft and Apple, both of which have been dominant, but are slipping at an alarming rate.

Added Exynos 5420 Benchmark

This is the 1.9ghz version of the Exynos Octa series. This one can have all 8 processors running at once. In the benchmark listing there are only 4 showing, so I assume it is running on the 4 fastest (this is consistent with the results). Click to see the benchmark page.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Do Consumers Put Up with Apple?

Back when Apple failed in the mid-1990s, there was an odd phenomenon that was widely noticed. It seemed that no matter how badly Apple treated its customers, no matter how ridiculous the pricing, no matter how buggy the software or how bad the hardware, there was a large group of people that were convinced that Apple had just delivered the greatest thing ever. As Apple grew worse and worse, long after the vast majority of people realized they just weren't that great anymore, large numbers of these Apple fans would anxiously await the latest Macs and would line up at the stores overnight to buy them. After a while, only these Apple fans were buying and you would see huge sales in the first few days of release, then sales would trail off to tiny numbers.

Well, it looks like it is happening all over again. Apple has made it's worst iOS release ever and combined it with phones that at best are boring. Yet, if you go over to an Apple fan blog, like AppleInsider, you would think Apple had actually done something well. AppleInsider is particularly odd in that it seems to think that Apple's ridiculously high profit margins are a good thing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Apple DID NOT Sell 9 Million iPhones This Weekend

Monday, Apple made this press release:

Apple - Press Info - First Weekend iPhone Sales Top Nine Million, Sets New Record

This press release is a blatant attempt by Apple to distract from their very flawed iPhone 5S/5C launch. Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray tells the real story to Bloomberg News here. Counting launch sales as Apple has traditionally counted them, a less than exciting 4 million iPhone 5Ss were sold to consumers this weekend. And an additional, but even more disappointing, 1.5 million iPhone 5Cs were sold to consumers. Remember that this launch was Apple's largest ever in terms of geographic regions. It should have been easy to have a record launch.

So his explanation of the discrepancy with Apple's 9 million number? Well, 3.5 million of those sales were simply sales to the channel of iPhone 5Cs but that were not sold to consumers yet. To be clear Apple only sold to consumers 30% of the available iPhone 5Cs. Apple was clearly trying to cover over their less than exciting sales numbers... Never before have they included sales to channels in their launch numbers.

Let me repeat: Never before has Apple included sales to channels in their launch numbers.

Gene Munster tries to put a good face on it by saying that the 5.5 number exceeds the 5 million sales of the iPhone 5 last year, but he's conflating the two iPhones. The 5 million number last year was for just the iPhone 5, the new flagship phone. The corresponding number for this year's flagship, the iPhone 5S is only 4 million. If you consider the fact that the launch was is in more regions this number is even more embarrassing. He does say that the supply of the iPhone 5S was constrained due to problems with the fingerprint sensor... but even so, it was very late in the weekend before iPhone 5S supplies ran out.

There is really no way around the fact that this launch was substantially less than the iPhone 5 launch. It is disturbing that Apple tried to hide this fact by changing what they include in launch numbers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Strange, Possibly Humorous News

What's especially strange is that they admit some use of some "unethical" materials in the phone:
World’s first ethical smartphone unveiled – and the pre-orders flood in

Believe it or not, the title is exactly what the story is about:
South Korean Skyscraper Will Disappear Daily | Tech Blog | TechNewsWorld

Almost everything about iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S and 5C could be considered "strange", sometimes even humorous. Example 1: Apple's use of a 64-bit chip in a 2Gb phone is strange. Example 2: Defense of Apple's use of 64-bit chip in 2Gb phone is both strange and humorous. However, these next 4 stories stand out as being especially strange and/or humorous:

Watch A Cat Unlock The iPhone 5s Using Touch ID And The Fingerprint Sensor | TechCrunch

Man installs iOS 7 update without complaint | IT Business

Welp. That's that. Miley Cyrus hates iOS 7. | VatorNews

Pay someone to wait in line for your new iPhone with TaskRabbit - Sep. 19, 2013

Using homeless to buy new iPhones sparks outrage, anger -

Friday, September 20, 2013

iOS 7/iPhone 5S&C - Screams of Anguish

If you only watch the Apple news from Apple blogs or from the mainstream trade press (that are dependent on Apple advertising revenue), you may not have seen much yet, but it's coming... an wow is it. The selection of links below is from me scanning about 4 hours worth of news today. I avoided duplicates as much as I could. If a story had numerous listings I tried to limit its presence below to 2 articles. The last 2 days has seen hundreds of stories like these. By Monday or Tuesday it will likely be thousands.

Some particular problems you should be aware of:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Apple's iOS 7, iPhone 5X - the Tragicomedy Begins

A few hours ago Apple started releasing iOS 7 to its customers. Already the vast majority of the news media is suggesting that one might wait a month or so before upgrading. I've only seen one article suggesting you jump in now... that was on Lifehacker (I think the author was trying to start an online party for early adopters).

For a company that prides itself on making things that "just work"... they've clearly done a poor job.
Here's a selection of the articles that have just come out, it is no where near exhaustive (imagine how big the list will be in a day or two):

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Added Apple A7 Geekbench 3 Results

The results come from AnandTech, which has a detail write up about the chip:

Here's the link to the updated benchmarks chart: Arm vs Intel Benchmarks

Monday, September 16, 2013

Suddenly, Everyone's Looking to Leave Microsoft Office.

Several days ago, I ran across this article:

Last week, Apple announced that iWork would be free.

Yesterday, I laid out a case why one needs to be preparing to leave both Microsoft and Apple in:

The first step I encourage is to stop using Microsoft Office (or Apple's iWork), pointing to this resource on my blog (published back in February):

Well, imagine my amusement when I was going through the news today and saw these:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Strange, Possibly Humorous News

This Lego Robot Strips Kindle DRM One Page Turn At A Time | TechCrunch

Google Chrome plug-in will block mentions of Miley Cyrus, twerking

Microsoft’s Now-Deleted Anti-iPhone Commercial Is The Funniest Thing From Redmond Since Windows RT | TechCrunch

Prepare to cringe: Microsoft's video ads across the decades | Microsoft - CNET News

This is the first in a series of Dilbert comics where Dilbert gets in trouble with the NSA.
Basically, his company has bad backups and loses all its data, so Dilbert pulls it back from the NSA's database... the NSA doesn't like that.
Dilbert comic strip for 09/06/2013 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.

Non-Android Linux and Open Source News

The argument in this next articles is that the attitudes of Linux users are a significant part of the problem:
The real problem blocking Linux support for apps and games

This is a big win for MariaDB (and a big loss for Oracle's MySQL):
Google Waves Goodbye To MySQL In Favor Of MariaDB – ReadWrite

LibreOffice is really taking off.
LibreOffice 4.1.2 RC1 - Neowin

Watch out Microsoft, Collabora is bringing value added LibreOffice | Muktware

LibreOffice conference 2013 in Milan - CIOL

ARM and Intel News

Intel stock is simultaneously getting numerous buy and sell ratings. It's not as crazy as it sounds. Intel's new chips and pricing will mean lesser profit margins. However, they are doing the right thing in facing the inevitable. Thus, their long term outlook is positive. This is in stark contrast with Microsoft and Apple which are both refusing to do those things essential to having a future in this new world of inexpensive, consumerized computing. If you are following at all the enterprise trade press, you will see that even IT and servers are facing consumerization.
Jefferies Group Upgrades Intel Corp. to “Buy” (INTC) - Ticker Report

I keep seeing a lot of trade press saying the Tegra 4 isn't doing well. However, I've seen far more announcements of devices using the Tegra 4 than the Snapdragon 800. It's probably true that the Tegra 4 isn't appearing in many phones (which sell in much larger volumes than tablets). But I see plenty of Tegra 4 tablets, hybrids and all-in-ones.
Nvidia shows off uses of a Tegra 4 SoC - Aiming beyond the Shield | TechEye

This isn't exactly a chip... but then with the new SoC approach for Intel, this sort of approach is the way things will be. I include this, because it shows just how serious Intel is about reforming past behavior. Their first NUC was priced so poorly (and required crazy expensive SSD cards) that it was literally cheaper to buy a Mac-mini. With this, you can make a nice Linux Desktop/mini-Server for $200.
$139 Intel NUC with Bay Trail chip on the way - Liliputing

Now this is exactly the sort of news a consumer wants to see:
Intel Baytrail vs. NVIDIA Tegra 4: too close to call - Android Authority

Intel Developer Forum overview:
Intel shows off fanless PCs, new phones, $100 tablets and wearables at IDF | ZDNet

While Intel is not so far behind this time, ARM actually has shipping products in wearables:
Chip makers seize opportunities in hot wearable-computer market | PCWorld

More IDF news:
AnandTech | Intel Demos 14nm Broadwell: Up to 30% Lower Power than Haswell

This is about the new ARM Cortex A57/A53 processors.
64-bit processors and 4GB of memory coming in 2014 - Android Authority

Saturday, September 14, 2013

This Week, Apple and Microsoft Self-Destruct; Looking to the Future: Chrome Apps, Android and more.

In a very real sense of the word, both Apple and Microsoft self-destructed this week.

This post is about what you need to do to prepare for their possible demise. It gives a summary of why Microsoft and Apple's futures look iffy. Then it shows you reasons you need to care about this immediately. And finally, it will give pointers to alternative platforms for you to explore.