Avid techies may eagerly await each new Apple Inc. product – such as the Apple Mini-iPad – but many of us are tiring of the constant stream of the latest greatest new thing from Apple. A similar fatigue may also be building over Facebook use.
So says SodaHead.com, an opinion-based online community, which polled its users on their thoughts about rumored upcoming Apple products and their Facebook use.
Among the findings:
52 percent of respondents feel that they will spend less time on Facebook in the next year, while only 12 percent plan on spending more time. 36 percent think they will spend the same amount of time on Facebook
37 percent of respondents do not check Facebook at all, while 33 percent check a few times per day, 20 percent check once or twice a day and 10 percent are checking constantly
Moving forward, 73 percent of respondents believe another social network will eventually eclipse Facebook, while only 27 percent think that no other social network will ever top Facebook
In terms of the number of social networks used by respondents, 61 percent use a few, 23 percent use just one, nine percent use “a ton,” while only seven percent don’t use any social network
For Apple’s rumored upcoming product launches, only 28 percent are interested in the “iPad Mini,” while 72 percent are already “over it.” Even fewer are excited about the iPhone5, with 26 percent stating they are interested, while 74 percent are over it.
It is periodically popular to claim one is tiring of Facebook (and other social media networks, for that matter). We’ve heard people say they were quitting Facebook forever only to see them back at it as strongly as ever in the past, so people may say one thing and do another.
But new product fatigue may be more real. The deluge of new digital devices, including Amazon’s Kindles, Google’s Nexus 7, and the Microsoft Surface, as well as rumored new phones and tablets from Apple, can be tiring indeed.
Here’s an infographic based on the SodaHead.com findings:
Once upon a time, Apple Inc. wobbled as Microsoft dominated the digital world – and in fact helped prop up Apple with an investment in the company. But, under the renewed leadership of the late Steve Jobs, the company introduced the iPhone and then the incredibly successful iPad in addition to its well designed and highly prized computer line. Today it sales are larger than the GDP of 160 nations.
Here’s an inforgraphic showing just how big the big Apple is:
Apple’s mobile device dominance is not overstated, but use of new technologies like video chat and LTE are not as popular as mobile operator ads might have you think – at least for now – according to the results of the first Mobile Life survey, published by UBM TechWeb’s Light Reading.
Light Reading surveyed 550 telecom professionals, including 120 service providers, and found that the average person has a rich mobile life made up of mobile device ownership and daily use of technologies like mobile video, mobile apps and Wi-Fi,” says Sarah Reedy, Light Reading Senior Reporter and the report’s author.
Of the survey respondents:
Thirty-four percent say they use more than 1GB of mobile data per month and 12 percent say they use over 3GB
Sixty-three percent update their status on a social network at least once a day, and 41 percent use up to six mobile apps on a regular basis
Fifteen percent of respondents are planning to buy an LTE-capable tablet this year; only 3 percent own one
“We weren’t surprised at all to see mobile data usage soaring, but it is interesting that mobile video and LTE aren’t yet as popular with consumers as the latest mobile operator ad campaigns would suggest,” says Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief of Light Reading.
Light Reading‘s 2012 Mobile Life survey report is free to all registered members of Light Reading. You can become a registered member of Light Reading by visiting: http://www.lightreading.com/register.asp
Apple says it has sold three million of its new iPad since its launch on Friday, March 16.
The new iPad features a new Retina display, Apple’s new A5X chip with quad-core graphics, a 5 megapixel iSight® camera with advanced optics for capturing amazing photos and 1080p HD video, and still delivers the same all-day 10 hour battery life while remaining thin and light.
iPad Wi-Fi + 4G supports ultrafast 4G LTE networks in the US and Canada, and fast networks around the world including those based on HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA.
Although we used Apple products almost exclusively in our print publishing career from the early to mid-1990s, we moved to PCs when the price/performance difference between them and Apple products grew bigger than we cared for.
We’re tempted to get the new iPad, though – primarily for the dictation feature. We’re convinced that voice operated devices are the future of mobile computing. Touchscreens, for all their convenience, are never going to be a pleasure to type on with a virtual keyboard, and if you have to carry an external keyboard around, it reduces the convenience of a device.
In fact, the one disappointment early reviewers of the new iPad have expressed is that it does not have all of the iPhone4S Siri features. It won’t let you search the Web via voice, for instance.
We’re also interested in the Retina display that reviewers have found so amazing. We’re also tempted to wait for user reviews of the new iPad to start showing up before buying. It often takes real use by consumers to discover any glitches in a product.
But there is no question whatsoever that the new iPad is a major hit for Apple Inc.
“The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold―the strongest iPad launch yet”
“The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold―the strongest iPad launch yet,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
“Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can’t wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday.”
The new iPad is already available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands and will be available in 24 more countries starting at 8:00 a.m. local time on Friday, March 23 through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Advanced findings from the BrandFinance Global 500, due to be launched on 19th March, show that Apple has leapfroggedGoogle to be named the world’s most valuable brand.
The Californian tech giant enjoys the highest ever valuation by Brand Finance plc (US $70.6 billion) almost one third greater than its closest rival Google (currently valued at US$47.5 billion).
Apple rose a staggering seven places from eighth in the 2011 table after a year which has seen the Californian tech giant assert its position as the preeminent consumer tech brand with the launch of the iPad 2, iPhone 4s, Mountain Lion operating system and the eagerly anticipated launch of the iPad3.
The announcement comes as Apple announces its 25th billion mobile download dwarfing its competitors in this evolving market.
Commenting on this year’s report from the Brand Finance New York office, David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance Inc, said “The meteoric rise we have witnessed over the last 12 months is nothing short of staggering. Apple is the classic American corporation that was once the alternative quirky brand for designers and creatives. Now their products are accepted by major corporations and are used by the mainstream corporate industry.
“Companies like Apple are built on strong Intellectual Property and are the engine for growth in a new era. Apple is a great example of how IP can be used to leverage high profits. As Apple continues to develop it seems set to dominate the technology industry in 2012 and beyond.”
The Brand Finance Global 500 Top Five Most Valuable Technology Brands
Rank Rank Brand Value
2012 2011 Brand Country (USD) Brand Rating
1 4 Apple United States $70.6 billion AAA+
2 1 Google United States $47.5 billion AAA+
3 2 Microsoft United States $45.8 billion AAA+
4 3 IBM United States $39.1 billion AA+
5 5 Amazon United States $26.7 billion AA+
Entrepreneurs keep coming up with new technologies, new web sites, new ideas, but what they really should be thinking about is evolving some new business models, says Eric Bleeker, Motley Fool tech analyst who oversees the site’s editorial team.
Bleeker joins tech luminaries such as Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph, OpenTable founder Chuck Templeton, National Venture Capital Association president Mark Heesen, National Seed and Venture Funds CEO Jim Jaffe, and NEA general partner Harry Weller, among many others participating in the Southeast Venture Conference in Tysons Corner, VA Wednesday and Thursday.
Right now, Bleeker says, “So many platforms are coming out that are dependent upon advertising. Yeah, they can get users, but what sort of platform lets you extract revenue from them?”
Zynga piggybacks on Facebook and other ironies
It’s ironic, he says, that game company Zynga can piggyback on a platform like Facebooks and monetize it at twice the rate Facebook does itself.
Similarly, the New York Times recently ran a piece on data mining that another news site picked up, put a more salacious headline on, and “Gets 50 times the pageviews,” says Bleeker.
The online music service Pandora, “is used on mobile 70 percent of the time, but only gets one percent of its revenue from mobile.” So new business models are necessary.
Bleeker believes quality journalism can still do well – pointing to “The Economist,” which is still managing to grow its subscriber base (and advertises widely online). Many local news venues may get squeezed out of the revenue streams if they don’t find new ways to make money, though, he suspects.
If it can’t command a premium, bye, bye
“If in the end, your product can’t command a premium, I’m sorry, but you’re going under.”
Quite a few companies are bridging that gap – along with many not doing it so well, he says. Companies with what appear to be successful models?
LinkedIn, he says has found a route: “Advertising is now a much smaller piece of their revenue than packaging business data,” he says.
OpenTable is another great example of an online firm that’s working, he suggests.
One problem he sees with many startups in the digital space – including mobile and hyper local, is that if they are ad dependent, the only exit solution they may have is to be acquired by the large tech firms sitting on billions in cash: Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
Apple, in fact, sits right at the top of the heap. “Apple is the big dog with the most money, but they don’t buy much,” Bleeker says. “They buy some intellectual property, but it’s not in their culture to bolt stuff on.”
That presents a difficulty if “The dominant player isn’t willing to buy.”
Apple, though, could be boxing itself in a bit with its emphasis on great design, the chunk of fees it takes for apps sold in its store, and its past DNA unless it finds ways to keep its customers. “They’re thinking about ways to lock folks in,” says Bleeker.
On the other hand, some estimates say that up to a mind-blowing third of global IT spending could be for computers (including tablets and Macs) in three years,” Bleeker says.
Sectors where Bleeker sees relatively unsung innovation is in networking and security, particularly from smaller firms. Catch what he has to say at SEVC later this week.
Reports say the iPad 3 may be announced the first week of March, although the release date may be later. AYTM Research (aytm) conducted research on what current iPad users are doing with their devices and what would motivate them to buy an iPad 3.
Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs also made it clear that while he was a visonary marketer, he wasn't much liked by many.
The Washington Post says a lengthy F.B. I. report on Steve Jobs made when he was begin considered for a government position in President George H.W. Bush’s administration in 1991 paints a somewhat unflattering portrait of the late Apple founder and CEO.
The F.B.I. made the files public following a Freedom of Information Act request from the Post.
The report notes that “Several individuals questioned Mr. Job’s honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.”
Another described him as “shallow and callous to people in his personal relationships,” and mentioned his narcissism, but added, “he has far reaching vision and can vitalize plans and goals.”
A number of people interviewed said they thought Job’s was qualified for a job on the Bush Administration’s Export Council, even though they did not much like the man.
The report says people who knew Job’s questioned his lack of support for his daughter born out of wedlock and her mother.
The files also disclose Job’s college use of marijuana and LSD and reveal that Apple received a mysterious bomb threat at one time.
It seems fairly clear from the files that Jobs stopped his drug use years prior to the investigation and drank very little alcohol.
Despite their distaste for Jobs personally, nearly all the interviewed people thought he was qualified for the government position.
Apple’s recent entry into the educational textbook market with highly interactive digital textbooks available on the iPhone and iPad and the updated version of its iTunes U, which offers teachers digital tools, is its latest effort to modernize the U.S. education system.
A pet project of the late Steve Jobs, the digital textbook move is only Apple’s latest foray into the education field. Apple Marketing VP Phil Schiller says the company owes much of its early success to education, where its Mac computers were often standard equipment.
We’re not sure Apple can rescue education from its mounting woes, many worsening because of the economic distress of recent years, but technology can certainly help. Jobs isn’t the only tech titan who wanted to revolutionize education. Jim Goodnight, founder and CEO of Cary, NC-based SAS, has also promoted the idea of using technology to improve schooling and even supports a North Carolina high school putting some of his ideas to work.
OnlineEducation.net created this infographic asking, “Can Apple Save Education?”
The U.S. International Trade Commission says Taiwan-based HTC’s Android phones violated two Apple patent claims in a ruling that goes into effect April 19.
While this is good news for Apple and its iPhone, it may not be so good for consumers. Of the half dozen smartphones we tested last year (all Android or Windows phones), we like HTC’s hardware the best.
The ITC decision says HTC infringed on Apple patent claims that deal with software to make phone numbers and addresses actionable links.
HTC has said it has created workarounds to the patent difficulties. But the decision will afffect the Droid Incredible, EVO 4G, Nexus One and other HTC phones running Android 1.6 to 2.2, says Gizmodo.
Lightsquared may run out of money
Virginia-based LightSquared, the wholesale wireless network firm, could run out of cash by Q2 2012, according to an analysis of its most recent financial statement by Reuters.
The company, backed by Philip Falcone’s $5 billion Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, had a $427 million loss the first nine months of 2011. The financial statement seen by Reuters notes that the company may not be able to “continue as a going concern,” if it cannot raise additional capital.
Lightsquared is wrestling with FCC concerns that its plans for high-speed 4G wireless broadband services interferes with the GPS spectrum. It has submitted a plan to the FCC to circumvent the problem.
AT&T gives up on T-Mobile merger
Just two weeks ago, an AT&T public relations person approached me with the firm’s position at the time that it was still working on its potential merger with T-Mobile despite dropping its bid with the FCC to focus on U.S. Department of Justice concerns. Yesterday, though, AT&T threw in the towel.
It will have to pay T-Mobile USA owner Deutsche Telekom the $4 billion fee it agreed to pay if the merger fell through, but says it will enter a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with the company.
In a statement, the company said:
“After a thorough review of options it has agreed with Deutsche Telekom AG to end its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA, which began in March of this year.
“The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry. It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished and must be addressed immediately.
“The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage. In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.”
AT&T chair and CEO Randall Stephenson said, ““To meet the needs of our customers, we will continue to invest. However, adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things.
“First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC. Second, policymakers should enact legislation to meet our nation’s longer-term spectrum needs.
Corporate and enterprises continue to be plagued by issues surrounding safety and security of content. Against this backdrop, the importance of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software has been brought to the fore, given its role in ensuring protection of data against piracy, within and beyond their corporate networks.
With organizations preferring to digitize their sensitive and high value content to enable easy access and storage, fears over possible data leakages, theft, piracy and unauthorized use of digital information remain imminent.
The problem has led to considerable controversy in the tech community regarding both DRM software and government intervention such as the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, which seems to create more problems than it solves.
But piracy and data losses not only cause huge revenue losses for the company but also tarnish the image of the company for ever. So DRM software is going to be a booming business.
Software and corporate information and the media and entertainment industry require efficient DRM solutions to protect their media and movie files against illegal distribution and sharing over the Internet and other illegal supply channels. Given the increasing levels of caution among content developers over safety of their high value content, the future definitely holds good for DRM applications.
Despite the popular perception that the dynamic environment of risk that companies and media houses operate in, and the ever-present data security threats, which interestingly tend to escalate during periods of economic downturn, make data security technologies recession proof, the global Digital Rights Management (DRM) market ironically in the year 2009 depicted a marked weakening in the midst of a steady deterioration in business climate.
Shifting focus to survival
The length, breath and duration of the economic slowdown has been unprecedented and the contraction in business activity widespread across diverse industries. The economic storm, in other words, wiped out numerous companies in software and enterprise segment and even pushed many large media houses on the verge of bankruptcy during the period.
With enterprise focus shifting towards survival, demand for content protection solutions, during this period, stood significantly weakened. Numerous corporate failures in emerging application markets such as banking and financial services, BPOs, and TV Home Entertainment, therefore squeezed opportunities in the DRM market.
Despite the 15.9% erosion in growth witnessed during the period 2007-2009, the DRM market made a smart recovery in the year 2010. This is largely because the underlying economics of content protection goes beyond the temporary weakness in the market’s climate.
Companies, especially software firms and large media houses, cannot afford to cut corners on DRM for long, given the disproportionately higher costs associated with data losses, piracy and unauthorized circulation of original content. These costs tend to far outweigh any gains stemming from cutting DRM expenditures as a measure to save money.
Niche markets will drive future growth
Additionally, a large percentage of the DRM market is built upon legally binding requirements. Observing the rules and regulations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), vertical sections of business like manufacturing, financial services, energy and health care are paying more attention to updating DRM technology.
Future growth in the market will be primarily driven by emerging opportunities from niche segments such as educational services, healthcare, e-Books and financial sector will also drive future gains in the market over the next few years. Application of DRM for Electronic Medical Records, in particular will generate tremendous prospects for the market in healthcare market.
As stated by the new market research report on Digital Rights Management (DRM), the United States continues to remain the largest regional market for DRM. Asia-Pacific represents the fastest growing regional market for DRM waxing at a CAGR of about 19% over the analysis period.
Growth in the Asia-Pacific DRM market will be especially driven by continued demand for payTV services, which continues to boost demand for conditional access and pay-TV DRM in the region, particularly in emerging markets of China and India.
Media & entertainment fastest growing
Media & Entertainment DRM is the fastest growing market segment by end-use type, with revenue from the segment growing at a CAGR of about 15.3% over the analysis period.
Major players in the marketplace include Adobe Systems Incorporated, Apple Inc., CoreMedia AG, Digimarc Corporation, EMC Corporation, International Business Machines Corporation, IPR Systems Pty Ltd., Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., LockLizard Limited, Rovi Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Oracle Corporation, RealNetworks, Inc., AuthenTec, Teletrax, VeriSign Inc., YANGAROO Inc., among others.
The research report titled “Digital Rights Management (DRM): A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., provides a comprehensive review of trends, issues, strategic industry activities, and profiles of major companies worldwide.
The report provides market estimates and projections for market segments – Software DRM, Enterprise DRM, and Media & Entertainment DRM across geographic markets such as the US, Canada, Japan, Europe Asia Pacific, Middle East and Latin America.
iPhone 4S features include Apple’s dual-core A5 chip for blazing fast performance and stunning graphics; an all new camera with advanced optics; full 1080p HD resolution video recording; and Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.
“We are blown away with the incredible customer response to iPhone 4S,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “The first day pre-orders for iPhone 4S have been the most for any new product that Apple has ever launched and we are thrilled that customers love iPhone 4S as much as we do.”
iPhone 4S will be available at all 245 Apple retail stores in the US beginning at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, October 14. Every customer who buys an iPhone 4S at an Apple retail store will be offered free Personal Setup service, helping them customize their iPhone 4S by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store and more, so they’ll be up and running with their new iPhone before they leave the store.
iPhone 4S includes iOS 5, the advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features.
Pricing & Availability
iPhone 4S comes in either black or white and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the new 64GB model.* iPhone 4S will be available from the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and through AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and select Best Buy, Target and Walmart stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iPhone 4 is available for just $99 (US) and iPhone 3GS is available for free with a two year contract.
iPhone 4S will roll out worldwide to 22 more countries by the end of October including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) says it will sell its new Kindle Fire tablet computer, the subject of much Internet speculation, for $199, undercutting Apple’s cheapest iPad, which is $499.
The device has, as predicted, a 7-inch screen and runs on Google’s Android operating system. It lacks a camera and a microphone, offers WiFi but not 3G, and boasts what early reviewers say is an easy-to-use interface on top of the Android OS.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is the only competitor with media offerings similar to what Apple has, analysts say.
Here’s Bloomberg’s report on the Kindle Fire and its potential to disrupt the tablet market, affects on relevant stocks and on Amazon itself. Some analysts think the 7-inch model of the new Amazon device is a “tweener,” and a device will need at least a 10-inch screen to compete seriously in the tablet market. Do you agree?
A larger, 10-inch screen version of the new Kindle Fire is expected in the first quarter of 2012.
Personally, I love my Kindle (and Amazon just unveiled a new, $79 model) but I haven’t been impressed with any of the tablet computers I’ve tested. They’re too heavy to hold comfortably for photography or reading and working with virtual keyboards doesn’t light my fire.
I wouldn’t mind having some additional features on the Kindle: an easier way to scroll through a book’s text or move around in the book itself, especially for those saved as text or Word docs rather than as Kindle (Mobi) docs. Color would be nice sometimes, but a color LED screen is going to take a toll on the battery and one of the regular Kindle’s most endearing qualities is that the battery charge lasts weeks.
But we’ll withhold any judgement calls on the new Kindles until we get to try one. –Allan Maurer
The response to news that Apple CEO and Chairman Steve Jobs is stepping down from the CEO position at the company he led to the height of American business success, has been wide-ranging, although most commentators do not expect to see major changes at the company, at least not right away.
Jobs, who did not specify his exact reason for stepping down at this time, has long said that if he could not meet his day-to-day duties at Apple, he would step aside. It is widely assumed that Jobs, who has suffered from Cancer and had a liver transplant, is making the move due to health reasons. (Also: see links under video)
His resignation letter notes:
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
“I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
“As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.”
Across the tech universe, looks at Jobs’ stellar career at Apple are everywhere.
Here’s a video of a much younger Jobs introducing the Apple Macintosh in 1984:
Worldwide annual media tablet shipments are expected to top 120 million units in 2015. While not quite as strong as traditional PC or smartphone annual sales, media tablets are emerging from the shadow of non-handset mobile devices and rapidly coming into their own.
Android media tablets have collectively taken 20 percent market share away from the iPad in the last 12 months. However, no single vendor using Android (or any other OS) has been able to mount a significant challenge against it.
ABI Research mobile devices group director Jeff Orr said, “Many vendors have introduced media tablets, but none are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple. In fact, most have introduced products at prices higher than similarly-configured iPads. Apple, never a company to be waiting for others, has introduced its second-generation iPad media tablet while keeping product pricing unchanged.”
Samsung recently dropped the price on its Galaxy Tablet to make it more competitive in the marketplace and plans to debut new tablets later this year.
Operating system fragmentation hindering growth
Fragmentation within operating system software is hindering growth of this device category. Application developers must choose an initial software platform and may delay starting development if the market potential is not significant. Google’s Android OS has no less than three different software builds deployed across media tablets at the same time. The benefits of open software platform development have yet to be realized for media tablets.
“De-featured, low-cost media tablets are being introduced by more than fifty vendors in 2011,” Orr says. “This will certainly help bolster year-over-year growth for the category, but it also creates a negative perception in the minds of the mass consumer audience about the readiness of media tablets to be fully functional within the next several years. Good user experiences and product response are needed to propel this market beyond the ‘early adopter’ stage.”
ABI Research’s new “Media Tablets” study www.abiresearch.com/research/1004847 defines the product category, discusses market drivers and inhibitors, and provides information about distribution channels, go-to-market strategies, product pricing, and availability. The report also presents information about device features, capabilities, and use cases, and provides forecasts of media tablet shipments and price bands.
SANTA CLARA, CA – Intel Capital has created a $300 million fund to invest in “Ultrabook” computers, the super thin mobile devices as light as MacBook Airs but with full PC capabilities. Intel sees Ultrabooks as the next big thing in personal computers. The move is seen as a way to compete more effectively with Apple Inc., which has been dampening Intel sales.
Intel, which disclosed it Ultrabook plans at a June trade show, says the Intel Capital Ultrabook Fund aims to invest in companies building hardware and software technologies focused on enhancing how people interact with Ultrabooks, achieving all-day usage through longer battery life, enabling innovative physical designs and improved storage capacity. The overall goal of the fund, which will be invested over the next 3-4 years, is to create a cycle of innovation and system capabilities for this new and growing category of mobile devices.
“Ultrabook devices are poised to be an important area for innovation in the $261 billion global computer industry1,” said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president. “The Intel Capital Ultrabook fund will focus on investing in companies building technologies that will help revolutionize the computing experience and morph today’s mobile computers into the next ‘must have’ device.”
There are three key phases in Intel’s strategy to accelerate its vision for this new category. The company’s efforts begin to unfold this year with Intel’s latest 2nd Generation Intel Core processors. This family of products will enable thin, light and beautiful designs that are less than 21mm (0.8 inch) thick, and at mainstream prices. Systems based on these chips will be available for the 2011 winter holiday shopping season.
They sound like products that may give Apple, tablet makers and netbooks some real competition. A very light machine with full PC performance is something we would like to have in our equipment bag when covering TechMedia events such as the upcoming Digital East in Tysons Corner, VA. Price points will probably be very important here – but if they’re competing with Apple’s traditionally inflated prices, they should be able to offer better deals.
To ship Ultrabook devices this year required significant collaboration amongst the entire computing industry. Intel has worked very closely with its customers to ensure that Ultrabook devices deliver compelling and unique value to consumers. Many OEMs have been collaborating on this effort from the very beginning.
“Ultrabook takes the best technologies and marries them with sleeker designs and extraordinarily long battery life for a new kind of computing experience,” said Peter Hortensius, Lenovo’s Product Group president. “This new type of personal computing aligns with our continual focus on engineering innovative laptop solutions that push the boundaries on mobility.”
Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class-action law firm, has filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit claiming that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and five of the nation’s top publishers, including HarperCollins Publishers, a subsidiary of News Corporation (NASDAQ:NWSA), Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group Inc., a subsidiary of Pearson PLC (NYSE:PSO), and Simon & Schuster Inc., a subsidiary of CBS (NYSE:CBS), illegally fix prices of electronic books, also known as e-books.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit alleges that the publishers and Apple colluded to increase prices for popular e-book titles to boost profits and force e-book rival Amazon to abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing.
According to the suit, publishers believed that Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle e-reader device and the company’s discounted pricing for e-books would increase the adoption of e-books, and feared Amazon’s discounted pricing structure would permanently set consumer expectations for lower prices, even for other e-reader devices.
“Fortunately for the publishers, they had a co-conspirator as terrified as they were over Amazon’s popularity and pricing structure, and that was Apple,” said Steve Berman, attorney representing consumers and founding partner of Hagen Berman. “We intend to prove that Apple needed a way to neutralize Amazon’s Kindle before its popularity could challenge the upcoming introduction of the iPad, a device Apple intended to compete as an e-reader.”
Suit says publishers forced Amazon to discontinue discounts
The complaint claims that the five publishing houses forced Amazon to abandon its discount pricing and adhere to a new agency model, in which publishers set prices and extinguished competition so that retailers such as Amazon could no longer offer lower prices for e-books.
If Amazon attempted to sell e-books below the publisher-set levels, the publishers would simply deny Amazon access to the title, the complaint details. The defendant publishers control 85 percent of the most popular fiction and non-fiction titles.
Berman noted that while Amazon derived profit from the sale of its Kindle and related accessories, likely allowing the company to discount e-books, Apple was steadfast in maintaining the 70/30 revenue split it demanded with its App Store.
“Apple simply did not want to enter the e-book marketplace amid the fierce competition it knew it would face from Amazon and its discounted pricing,” Berman added. “So instead of finding a way to out-compete Amazon, they decided to choke off competition through this anti-consumer scheme.”
Complaint cites Steve Jobs interview
The complaint notes that Apple CEO Steve Jobs foreshadowed the simultaneous switch to agency pricing and the demise of discount pricing in an interview with The Wall Street Journalin early 2010. In the interview, he was asked why consumers would buy books through Apple at $14.99 while Amazon was selling the same book for $9.99. “The prices will be the same,” he stated.
While freemarket forces would dictate that e-books would be cheaper than the hard-copy counterparts, considering lower production and distribution costs, the complaint shows that as a result of the agency model and alleged collusion, many e-books are more expensive than their hard-copy counterparts.
“As a result of the pricing conspiracy, prices of e-books have exploded, jumping as much as 50 percent,” Berman said. “When an e-book version of a best-seller costs close to – or even more than – its hard-copy counterpart, it doesn’t take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation.”
Berman pointed out that The Kite Runner, for example,costs $12.99 as an e-book and only $8.82 as a paperback.
“What is most loathsome about the behavior of Apple and the publishers is that it is stifling the power of innovation, the very thing Apple purports to champion,” Berman added. “A few big-business heavyweights are taking a powerful advancement of technology that would benefit consumers and suffocating it to protect profit margins and market share.”
According to the lawsuit, Apple and publishers were concerned that Amazon’s $9.99 uniform pricing for bestsellers would create market pressures for other e-booksellers – including Apple – to do the same, cutting into profitability.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that because no publisher could unilaterally raise prices without losing sales, they coordinated their activities, with the help of Apple, in an effort to slow the growth of Amazon’s e-book market and to increase their profit margin on each e-book sold.
Ebook buyers may be able to join the class action
The lawsuit claims Apple and the publishers are in violation of a variety of federal and state antitrust laws, the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act, and the Unfair Competition Act.
The named plaintiffs, Anthony Petru, a resident of Oakland, California, and Marcus Mathis, a resident of Natchez, Mississippi, each purchased at least one e-book at a price above $9.99 after the adoption of the agency pricing model.
Once approved, the lawsuit would represent any purchaser of an e-book published by a major publisher after the adoption of the agency model by that publisher.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the purchase of e-books, an injunction against pricing e-books with the agency model and forfeiture of the illegal profits received by the defendants as a result of their anticompetitive conduct, which could total tens of millions of dollars.
Hagens Berman invites potential plaintiffs to contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206-623-7292.
Global smartphone shipments grew an impressive 76 percent annually to reach a record 110 million units in the second quarter of 2011. Both Apple and Samsung overtook long-time volume leader Nokia for the top two spots in our rankings.
Alex Spektor, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global smartphone shipments grew a healthy 76 percent annually to reach a record 110 million units in Q2 2011. We had previously reported on Apple becoming the largest smartphone vendor in terms of revenue and profits. Now, just four years after the release of the original iPhone, Apple has become the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume with 18 percent market share. Apple’s growth remained strong as it expanded distribution worldwide, particularly in China and Asia.”
Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung overtook Nokia to become the world’s second largest smartphone vendor in Q2 2011. Samsung’s shipments grew a huge 520 percent annually, for 17 percent global smartphone market share. Samsung’s Galaxy portfolio has proven popular, especially the high-tier S2 Android model.”
Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Having become the first ever vendor to ship 100 million smartphones in a single year during 2010, long-time leader Nokia has slipped two places in our rankings in Q2 2011. The vendor’s 15 percent global smartphone market share is less than half of what it was just one year earlier, as the industry awaits Nokia’s pending transition to Windows Phone 7.”
Exhibit 1: Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q2 2011
Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments (Millions of Units)
Reports say Apple Inc. may be thinking about buying the video web service Hulu. Bloomberg says the talks are early, citing anonymous sources. The price could top $2 billion, which would be an unusually large acquisition for Apple, which previously paid $400 million for its largest one, NeXT Software Inc. in 1996.
Apple, however, is focused on including more video in its ecosystem, according to an analyst Bloomberg quotes.
Google and Facebook notch company records for lobbying
Google and Facebook set company records for spending on lobbyists, according to documents the firms filed this week.
Google booste its lobbyist spend from $1.48 million in the first quarter to $2.06 million in the second, exceeding the amount Microsoft put into its lobbying budget. Take a look at Google’s lobbying report for the quarter for details such as issues of concern, agencies lobbied, and more.
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and number two on our recent list of the top 20 venture capitalists in the United States, recently gave the Entrepreneur Thought Leader lecture at Stanford University outlining the rules he has used wehn creating a venture. They include aiming high, looking for disruptive change, and networking, planning for bad luck and persistence.
Apple Inc. claims that HTC, the second largest smartphone maker in Asia, has infringed its patents related to software architecture and user interfaces in portable electronic devices. Apple filed two complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, DC, which can block imports into the U.S. market.
Apple has also filed complaints against Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility Holdings.
Apple, which claims five of its patents have been infringed, is challenging competitors to its products that run Google’s Android smartphone operating system, which compete against its iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices.
HTC said through its general counsel that it is “dismayed” that Apple resorted to competition in court rather than the marketplace. The Taiawan-based company denies Apple’s claims against it.
We recently tested an HTC Win 7 phone that performed admirably. It was the easiest and most intuitive to use of all the smartphones we’ve tried.
HTC released its first tablet device, the Flyer, in March and its second, the EVO View 4G, with fast connections via Sprint’s 4G network. The EVO is apparently not targeted in the Apple suits.
HTC smartphones named in the suits include the Droid Incredible, Wildfire, EVO4G (the phone not the tablet) and Desire.
HTC recently opened an R& D center in Durham, NC and recently agreed to acquire S3 Graphics Co. for $300 million. S3 won an infringement ruling against Apple via the trade commission. HTC has also filed its own complaint with the commission against Apple, with findings expected SEpt. 16.
A trade commission judge will rule in Apple’s first case against HTC Aug. 5 in a decision subject to full commission review.
It’s understandable why Apple would try to stem the progress of Android devices, which claim the largest chunk – 38 percent – of the smartphone market, while Apple devices claim 27 percent. Apple derives half its sales from iPhone and 12 percent from iPads.