Samsung Announces Windows Convertible With S Pen Stylus (May 30, 2017)
IDC Adjusts Forecast PC and Tablet Growth Downward (May 26, 2017)
IDC has adjusted its combined PC and tablet forecast downwards by several percent, with the overall picture one of shrinkage through next year followed by modest growth from 2019 to 2021. Within that broad category, desktops and standalone tablets are forecast to decline strongly, while laptops will grow slightly and “detachable” tablets (those made to be used with keyboards) will grow the fastest. IDC says it’s revising its forecast downward because those detachables aren’t growing as fast as it had thought. It’s also worth noting that any growth that exists right now in the market is entirely in the commercial market, while the consumer PC market (even including tablets) continues to shrink). It’s also worth noting that even in 2021, IDC forecasts that those detachable tablets will only be 11% of the total market. We’re continuing to see a diversification of the PC market across these various categories as both vendors and consumers try to figure out which combinations of tablet and laptop form factors and features work best, with much of the action so far at the premium end of the market. Things could get interesting (and move off IDC’s forecast trajectory) if we start to see some meaningful competition in that detachable space from vendors targeting the mid market, but there’s little sign of that happening yet.
Samsung Surface Competitor Gets Poor Reviews (May 26, 2017)
★ Lenovo Reports March Quarter Earnings (May 25, 2017)
Images Leak of New Microsoft Surface Pro (May 19, 2017)
Apple Reportedly Updating MacBook Line at WWDC (May 16, 2017)
Microsoft Announces Details Around Windows 10 on ARM (May 12, 2017)
HP Laptops with Conexant Secretly Maintain Log of Keystrokes (May 12, 2017)
The Verge has been talking about a future Windows feature called HomeHub since December, but this week has some images that are designed to show how HomeHub will work in practice, and it’s likely we’ll see this revealed officially at Build this week. HomeHub is a somewhat family-centric virtual assistant for Windows 10, which will combine Cortana voice features and more visual features on a sort of always-on home screen. It looks like Microsoft sees this feature both as something that PCs will offer and as something that will be available on dedicated devices. The Verge is that it suggests Microsoft sees all these devices being effectively full Windows 10 PCs, which feels like a huge mistake given how streamlined these devices can and should be. Even though Microsoft has evolved in its culture and strategy in very positive ways over recent years, things like this make you realize how tied to its past strategy of putting Windows everywhere it still is. At the very least, this ought to be running the more streamlined Windows 10 S it announced last week. But I’m all for tech which helps families stay organized – something I’ve argued more tech companies need to be working on. Given the launch of Echo Show this morning, Microsoft will have a concrete competing example of the same concept to go up against, which will likely raise the bar for whatever it announces. It’s also possible we’ll have Apple’s version of this to look at by the time the next version of Windows ships in the fall, further raising the stakes.
via The Verge
Intel had a pretty good quarter for the most part, expanding margins as several of its divisions performed better off the back of rising prices and lower unit costs. The only division that didn’t grow was the security division (home of McAfee), which Intel has already announced it intends to spin off. Client Computing, home of Intel’s traditional PC business but also newer areas like tablets, phones, modems and so on, grew by 6%, though in large part because of rising prices (up 7% year on year) rather than volumes (down 4% year on year). The trend in Data Center, which makes up a little under a third of revenue, was similar, with volumes down 1% but prices up 6%, driving overall growth, though at a slower rate than in the past, and its margins have also fallen recently as it invests in new processes which should pay dividends over the longer term. Intel’s non-volatile memory group benefited from the release of Intel’s new Optane memory products, which have contributed to very rapid growth, but which has also plunged that division into the red because of heavy investment in the new processes and technology. IoT is also growing at a decent clip, though it’s much smaller than the two big divisions. One other division is Intel’s Programmable Systems Group, which was formed when it acquired Altera, which made filed-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. That’s growing at a decent clip and is also now profitable, which is good progress from when the acquisition closed. Overall, Intel’s two main businesses are performing well for it at the moment, though the fact that it’s having to invest heavily to remain competitive in several key areas has held margins down below where they might be.
via Intel (PDF)
ARM-Based Windows 10 PCs to Arrive in Q4 2017 (Apr 21, 2017)
Intel Kills its Developer Forum, its Big Annual Event (Apr 17, 2017)
Yesterday, we had IDC’s PC numbers for Q1 2017, and today we have Gartner’s. As usual, they show pretty different trends (IDC the first growth in five years, Gartner the lowest total shipments since 2007), because the companies define the market in different ways. Whereas those IDC numbers were for “traditional” PCs, these Gartner numbers include what some call “detachables” and Gartner calls “ultra mobile premiums” such as the Microsoft Surface. Interestingly, though, whereas in the past those detachable and convertible devices have led Gartner’s numbers to grow faster than IDC’s, the situation now appears to be reversed. That’s interesting, given how hot this category has been and how much it’s helped the overall PC market in the past couple of years. My guess is that the trend will go back to its previous pattern the rest of the year. The two companies do agree on some trends though: HP had a great quarter, particularly in the US, and component shortages are driving some interesting trends. However, whereas IDC saw the latter driving higher shipments in Q1 to get ahead of price increases, Gartner focuses on the downward pressure on shipments the component shortage is likely to cause in the rest of the year due to price increases. IDC and Gartner also agree that the “other” category is suffering badly as the big names consolidate share.
A few years back, Tim Cook said Apple was doubling down on secrecy, and he’s largely kept to that promise since then, being as secretive as ever about Apple’s future product plans. However, that all changed this week with the announcement of future plans for Apple’s Mac line, an attempt to address vocal dissatisfaction and worry among a small but important community of Mac users. There are several key points here. First, Apple reinforces a point I made a while back, which is that true “pro” users are a small minority of Apple’s Mac base, and those who require Mac Pros are an even smaller minority. These pros are no longer the core constituency of the Mac, which instead is mainstream users. However, they are vocal, and they’re important because they’re disproportionately influential as a result, and Apple has underserved the upper echelon of these pro users, those for whom a maxed-out iMac or aging Mac Pro isn’t enough. This is an unusual concession from Apple that its Mac Pro strategy has been on the wrong track and that it’s boxed itself into a corner (something I’ve suspected for a while), and that it is belatedly trying to get back on the right track, which will take time. On the other hand, those maxed out iMacs and even MacBook Pros are actually enough for many pros – I have several family members who do video editing for a living and they all use iMacs rather than Mac Pros, and I found the MacBook from late last year perfectly adequate for using professional video editing software. But Apple’s statement this week is a sign that it doesn’t want the worrying and griping to go on, and that it needs to both make a more specific commitment to the future of the pro Mac line and to those high-end professional users. That’s a good thing, because it’s a concession that it has made mistakes and will now look to rectify them. This has been one of very few areas where there have been legitimate worries about Apple and its strategy, and fixing this should help to neutralize somewhat the Apple is Doomed narrative.
via Daring Fireball