Friday, February 3, 2017

Apple Winning Premium Phone Market - Can Do Better

Pointing out the obvious, this BGR post points out that Apple is winning the premium segment of the phone market (still don't like calling it the phone market since most people do not use their iPhones or Android devices as phones anymore) - and the lead Apple has over Samsung (and not really anyone else has any meaningful share here) has increased.

It's likely that Apple can increase its lead even more with the next iPhone, no matter what Apple calls it, since it will likely have a new design and features.  What Samsung can do to slow down Apple's increasing lead in terms of percentage is make sure it has a flawly Galaxy 8 and Note 8 launch.  No more exploding phones - it's that simple (or not quite that simple). 

But Apple can really put this thing to bed if it answers Samsung's one unique feature in its premium device:  that the Note has a stylus.  Of course, Apple would never support the use of a stylus on the iPhone.  So, it can add Pencil support to the iPhone.  That may draw so much sales away from Notes that Samsung's mobile profit will shrink even more, perhaps to mere single digits.

According to Fortune, Apple took more than 102% of the mobile profit in the third quarter of 2016.  That is possible because Sasmung broke even because of the Note 7 disaster (not bad considering) while other mobile players in the market lost money.  It's unlike that this will happen again in 2017 and Samsung should be able to mount some sort of a comeback once its next generation flagship devices launch and ship.

A better comparision would be 2015 when Apple had 90% of the profit in the same third quarter while Samsung has more than 10%.  So, should Apple maintain its momentum, it could conceivably knock Samsung's 2017 profit share down to less than 10% even if there is a penned up demand for its Note 8.  Of course, Apple could make sure Samsung has less than an optimal quarter if the next iPhone Plus supports the Pencil.

Personally, I rather have picture-in-picture support for the next iPhone but I'll make due with Pencil support.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Touch Bar on Apple's Standalone Keyboard Will Take A While If It Ever Happens

Source: 9to5Mac

Almost immediately upon learning about the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro, the next thought that occurred to me was when Apple will bring it to their standalone keyboard.

I've left it on the table for a bit and allowed it to simmer for a few days. With Halloween on the horizon, I didn't think about it until I read the above post from 9to5Mac which they showed a rendering of what an Apple Touch Bar keyboard will look like.

I'm not sure if Apple brings the Touch Bar to the external keyboard, it would be just a simple strip like what we see on the MacBook Pro. If you believe that is all Apple will do, then don't expect it to happen this way. First of all, the jury is still out for me on the Touch Bar. I'm not a professional. I'm just a regular Mac user like the most of you. It's too early to see just how useful it will be outside of Apple's reality distortion field and video and photo cutting rooms. Being able to access emoji quickly is cool but not a deal maker for most.

I get the feeling Apple has a larger design for touch input for both Macs and iOS devices in the near future. And Touch Bar 1.0 implementation on the new MacBook Pro is Apple's way to learn how people will use it. It's much like the Apple Watch. People were excited but mostly curious of the Apple Watch and it's potential. And from WatchOS 1 to 2, Apple made a number of changes. And it was not until watchOS 3 that we are beginning to see greater potentials in the Apple Watch.

I reckon it will be the same with the Touch Bar. Apple will learn from how users are interacting with it. Then there will be changes and new features added with each new macOS update. It sure makes it easier to implement updates given they the Touch Bar runs on its own processor and OS. By version 2 or 3, we'll be able to see where Apple is going with it. And Apple may even bring what it has learned from the Touch Bar to the iOS devices, Apple Watch, and, yes, Apple TV. And who knows, the Apple car too?

Features aside, there is also the hardware question. It will not be simply stripping out the top row of function keys and adding the Touch Bar. There will be new designs that best work for the users. There will be a need for a bigger battery to accommodate the strip and its LED display. And what about including Touch ID?

So, expect a long wait for the Touch Bar ever comes to Apple's standalone keyboard if it ever comes at all. But when it does, it will be fantastic and very different from the current Touch Bar implementation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In Light of Samsung's Note 7 Fire Troubles, The Timing of Apple's Suit Against A Counterfeiter Could Not Be More Perfect

Source:  Patently Apple via 9to5Mac.

The title to this post says it all. What we want to get into is why it is important that while come accessories are cheaper when you do not buy directly from Apple, at best, they could create unexpected results on how your Apple devices work and, at worst, pose a danger to you. 

Apple launched a lawsuit against a counterfeiter who sold many cables and chargers on Amazon, declaring them as the genuine items.  And for a steep discount than what you would otherwise have to pay for from Apple, it sounds like a great deal.  Except it is not.

These counterfeit items have not gone through Apple's own standards for safety testing for consumer use.  And there lies in the problem.  Uncertified chargers and cables may be more prone to overheating, catching fire, and shock users.  There are plenty of stories you there you can read if you google - people who decided to go with that $2 charger being sold on the street corner kiosk instead of the genuine stuff.

Apple's own chargers, both the 5W and 12W versions, cost $19 each. On Amazon, ones that look like Apple's own can go as low as half that.  Sure you save 10 bucks but what is the risk to you and your home if that thing melts up or worse?

Apple's lawsuit is also about protecting its brand.  I'm sure you know by now that airlines have banned Samsung's dangerous Galaxy Note 7 and that the consumer electronic giant has stopped all production of the iconic device this year.  Apple's suite against Mobile Star is about making sure its own reputation is not damaged should a bunch of faulty accessories from this company start building down homes and causing a spike in ER visits.

And it's not just on Amazon where many of these products are counterfeited and sold.  I've come across other sites and daily deal e-mails from the likes of Groupon that offer great deals on Apple accessories.  I've never bought them because I do worry about these "too good to be real" deals. 

And you should too.  Safety first above all else.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Best To let Macs Be Macs - You Know, With Intel Chips Inside

There is a lot of speculations about what Apple will or will not do with the Mac products as the level of anxiety has risen over the lack of new hardware from Apple.  Rightly so since most of the Macs on the market, the Macbook being the only exception, have been around for more than a year without any new hardware update. 

And for most of us, it does not help when even leading Apple blogs seem to suggest that Apple is no longer focusing on Macs and has shifted even more resources to the development of iOS devices and the faster growing apps and service segments of its business. 

Let me assure you that Apple will not abandon the Macs.  Apple will release new computers when it is ready.  That date will come when the hardware is ready and when marketing and the executive team believes that the time is right.  That is not to say that all the Macs will be updated.  I'm more to be inclined to believe that Macbooks will get the bulk of the attention with the iMac sharing some of the spotlight.  As for the Mac Pro and mini, well, let's keep our fingers crossed. 

With all that said, let's get to the meat of this post.  I want to see Apple stick with Intel chips for the Macs.  This is important because there seems to be a wave of speculations that Apple will abandon Intel chips in the lower end Macs and go with its own in-house developed chips - like the ones that power the iPhone and iPads.

To do this now, it would create unnecessary confusion for customers.  The Apple today is not the same one under Steve Jobs.  Under Tim Cook, Apple has done better as a company that generates immense amount of wealth and accepted a greater role as a socially responsible company (up to you to decide if you agree with them).  But I do feel a certain amount of focus has been diffused as Apple move into new markets.  During Jobs' time as CEO, Apple was a simpler company with fewer products during the beginning of the mobile revolution.  

With more to juggle today, Apple should continue to draw distinctions between iOS devices and Macs.

There may be a day when Apple's internal chip development catches up to or surpasses Intel's own development.  Perhaps, Apple can change course as far as which chip to use in the Macs.  And perhaps at that time, it may not matter as iOS developement has allowed Apple to close the functional gap between iPads and the Macs. 

Furthermore, aside from Apple's own Mac development schedules are concerned, Intel has much to offer the PC industry.  It's chips continue to offer excellent performance as well as a decent balance for what mobile users need.  As it is now, I can live with the 10-hours of battery use on the 2016 Macbook.  Would I love to have 15 or even 20 hours if Apple were to use an A-series chip in the Macbook running Mac OS?  Sure!  But that is just me and for those who performance is not an issue.

But you cannot live on iOS chips if you're a pro level user at this time.  And if Apple does use A-series chips in the lower end Macs and Intel in the Pro-level Macs, that would be just too confusing and create chaos where there was none. 

With what Apple has on the market now, iOS on iPads powered by its own chips and OS X on Macs running Intel chips, it provides customers a clear choice. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Old Apple Watch: A Gift That Can Save A Life

I passed on getting the Apple Watch when it went on sale in April of 2015.  I ended up with one as a gift.  And with the introduction of the Apple Watch Series 2 by Apple on September 7th of this year, it had enough new features that I ended up ordering one for myself.  So with the one that I currently own now, I've decided to pass it on instead of keeping it as a collection of some sort (I have a very small watch collection but I just don't see the Apple Watch in the same light yet - I'll get into that later).  

It was an easy choice to make as to who I was going to pass my AWS1 (Apple Watch Series 1).  First, I wanted to make sure it was someone who was going to take good care of is.  More importantly, I wanted to make sure that the individual was going to make the most of it.

My own Apple Watch experience evolves around the Activity App which records calories burnt, minutes spent on active workout that day, and how many times I've stood up from sitting down.  I'm also very interested in the Apple Watch's role as a pedometer, the metric by which many people I know use to gauge their daily activities (the Move ring of the Activity App shows calories and I still don't know how Apple takes that measurement).

So I found a friend who was an avid walker and, at times, a light jogger.  The Apple Watch was made perfectly for him.  And he works for a company that offers incentives to stay active and often has challenges to various teams to increase their levels of activities.  My Apple Watch will play an instrumental role in helping him stay on top of his activities and, hopefully, help his team win these challenges.

I'm not sure if he'll be into the notification feature.  I generally turn off notifications and sounds for the watch to conserve battery life.  I reckon it will be the same for him as well.  Once the Pokemon Go app for the watch is released, then I think it will be a different story.

I will be without the Apple Watch for a few days - the Apple Watch Edition version I ordered won't be here until the middle of next week.  I'll be heading out for a big run the next day.  I look forward to  playing and testing it out on the road.

So, if you've got an old Apple Watch, pass it along to someone who will make good use of it.  Use it in the way that best emphasizes the great features Apple built into it.  And who knows, the Apple Watch may be a life saver that Apple is trying to make it to be.