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 | Wired.com

SmartOS (This one is for cloud servers)



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

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 | Wired.com

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 | TIME.com

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 - latimes.com
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 | TIME.com



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 | PCMag.com

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 - Zacks.com

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: http://www.computingcompendium.com/feeds/posts/default

If you have a link to the blog, please switch the link to: http://www.computingcompendium.com

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 computingcompendium.com 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 wordpress.com).

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: