Thursday, October 30, 2014

November issue

The November issue of our monthly ePub was emailed out this morning. As usual, it's full of interesting articles and great product reviews.

If any of our daily blog readers aren't subscribers just let us know and we'll add you to the subscriber list.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LG Phone Sales

South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. said Wednesday its third-quarter profit jumped 87 percent over a year earlier as smartphone sales set a record high.

LG Electronics said its July-September net income reached 202.6 billion won ($193 million) on sales of 14.9 trillion won. Operating income more than doubled from a year earlier to 461.3 billion won.

LG said the improved earnings stemmed from the recovery of its handset business. Its 167 billion won profit exceeded that from televisions, LG's other mainstay business.

The company's smartphone shipments increased 40 percent from a year earlier to a record 16.8 million units, as its flagship G3 smartphone and mid-tier L series smartphone drove sales. The company said it will continue its "two track" strategy, trying to lure consumers in advanced countries with the high-end G series and expand L series models for consumers in emerging markets.

LG's mobile communications business remained profitable for a second straight quarter after three quarters of losses.

The improvement in LG's smartphone business comes as its hometown rival Samsung Electronics Co. is suffering a rapid decline in profit from its mobile division. Samsung Electronics, which is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Thursday, will post around 2 trillion won in profit from its mobile communications business, less than one third of its profit a year earlier, according to analysts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wearables A Waste

A new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 33 percent of consumers who purchased a wearable item in the past year either do not use them any more or use them infrequently. The reason consumers are putting down their smartwatches is because the items failed to meet expectations and not becasue they have given up on a wearables future.
In PwC's report, The Wearable Future, more than half of millennials and early adopters said they were excited about where the category will go in the future. To get there, however, manufacturers have to overcome complaints about price, privacy and security. Even so, PwC believes there will be more than 130 million units sold by 2018, with others estimating sales could be as high as 180 million units.
PwC anticipates huge returns for brands. Media companies, in particular, were identified as having a huge amount of potential. "[Wearable technologies are] blank canvases for highly targeted message placements, especially in the form of content with greater relevancy and context to the user," PwC said. "But wearable devices won't just create more ad inventory and unleash more publishing subscription revenue—they'll provide a meaningful opportunity to drive product sales and e-commerce."
PwC sees brands connecting with consumers through richer, more interactive entertainment experiences, tighter integration with social media and rewards for loyalty. Brands could work closely with stores to push content to consumers as they shop and eat at restaurants.
"The media company of the future must combine insights with curated experiences and find new ways of monetization—not merely through conventional advertising and paid content offerings," Deborah Bothun, PwC’s U.S. advisory entertainment, media and communications leader, said in a statement. "Wearables offer media companies a huge new frontier of relevance and immersive experiences, helping to engage audiences by providing the most relevant content."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tablet Wars: Apple vs. MSFT

It's a neat juxtaposition for sure: earlier in the week Apple's fourth-quarter 2014 results showed that iPad sales sliding: 12.3 million sold, down from 14.1 million from the same period a year ago and in $5.3bn in revenue, down from $6.2bn — a decline of 13 and 14 percent respectively year-on-year.

And then, a few days later Microsoft's first-quarter 2015 results (which actually cover roughly the same period) told a slightly different story. Sales of Microsoft's Surface 'tablet PC' more than doubled over the same quarter a year ago, hitting $908m, which the company said was driven by students, professionals and enterprises.

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said that the new Surface Pro 3 sales were "pacing at twice the rate of what we saw with Pro 2" and that gross margin for Surface "was positive" as businesses replaced tablets and laptops with the hybrid device.  

Add to this the unexpected resurgence of the PC market (in the US and Europe PC shipments are up year on year according to Gartner) and the increasing evidence that tablets are being squeezed between phablets and hybrid devices, and you have a very different scenario to the one a year or two back, when it looked like tablets were running rampant and the PC was doomed.

In reality, of course, it's a little bit more complicated than that: Microsoft may have come up with a compelling product with the third generation of its Surface Pro, but it's still growing from a very small base and it's not clear how profitable the device is.

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook points to the 237 million iPads the company has sold over the last four years and describes the drop in iPad sales as "a speed bump". His argument is that there's still plenty of growth left for the tablet — especially in the enterprise, where Apple's alliance with IBM could be a significant factor.

What these numbers really represent is a snapshot of a turbulent device market. When the iPad arrived (and the other tablets that followed), it shook up the PC market so much that it's only now recovering some sort of equilibrium.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

iFruit WiFi Woes

The cries for help from frazzled Mac owners whose Wi-Fi connections went haywire after upgrading to OS X Yosemite are being met by Apple with stone-faced silence.

Affected users have been filing a steady stream of complaints about the problem in discussion forums, blogs, and social media sites since Apple released the latest version of the operating system a week ago.

Attempts by users to isolate the cause of the issue have been fruitless so far. The problem affects a variety of Macs with dissimilar configurations and linked to many different routers. What’s clear is that the problem hit these users after installing Yosemite. In most cases, Wi-Fi becomes unstable, with connections dropping every few minutes, irritatingly slow or simply unusable.

The lucky few people who have managed to get their Wi-Fi working properly again have done so with one of at least 20 unique and unofficial “fixes” scattered among thousands of discussion forum postings. None of them seems to be a universal fix for the problem.

On Friday morning, a user identified as “Hevelius” in a Mac Rumors forum vented his frustration with the situation. “There must be about two dozen so-called fixes now on this forum. I’ve tried every single one of them and none of them work,” this person wrote, adding that until there is a fix that works for everyone, the best option is to revert to Mavericks, the previous version of the OS.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wearable Technology - Part Two

By George Harding

A recent news article caught my eye, because it dealt with this category of wearable technology. USA Today reported that Qualcomm Foundation launched a contest to reward the three companies with the best product resembling the Tricorder used in the Star Trek shows. The device is to detect 15 ailments, by continuous monitoring of blood pressure, respiration, temperature and more, and weigh less than 5 pounds.

The contest was launched in January 2012 and attracted over 300 entrants! Today, 10 finalists have been announced from countries around the world. Here is a description of some of them.

Basilleaf, USA-PA, A device to diagnose specific medical conditions, provide insight into the user’s medical condition and guide them to appropriate action.

Biodyn, Taiwan, Five devices with sensors to monitor vitals, blood, respiration and urine. Accompanying smartphone app analyzes results to diagnose disease.

CloudDX, Toronto, Necklace and cuff record biological data along with algorithms to display analysis on tablet and store in the cloud for tracking.

Mesi,  Slovenia, Includes wristband and modules to measure and record vital signs. Accompanying smartphone app displays results and, with the included questionnaire, determines possible diagnosis.

Scanadu, USA-CA, Device monitors vital signs (temperature, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure) and sends result to smartphone for display and analysis. Two additional sensors test urine for pregnancy and health problems.

Scanurse, London, Uses sensors to analyze breath, movement and vision to provide user with easy to understand results.

Zensor, Ireland, Monitor detects arrhythmias when they occur and transmits them to a secure server where they can be reviewed and diagnosed by a physician. Also detects respiration, temperature and motion, blood and urine.

The prizes will be awarded in early 2016. First prize is $7 million, second $2 million, and third $1 million.

It is likely that the Wearable Technology section of CES 2015 will be greatly expanded with vendors displaying many new and innovative ways to sense, record and analyze our body’s condition.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ubuntu 14.10

Right on schedule the latest version of Ubuntu, called Ubuntu 14.10 the Utopic Unicorn, is now available. Download it for free at.