ABi research reports that the tablet market will grow this year by 38% to 150 million units. But the Microsofts and Blackberrys will contiunue missing the boat! With 3% of the current Tablet markets globally, Microsoft, Blackberry and other unidentified OS implementations don’t show signs of significant growth.
The ABI Research report says that an estimated 150 million tablets will ship in 2013, worth an estimated $64 billion.The total number of tablets will grow by a projected 38% over 2012, and the total revenue will grow a projected 28%. Last year, according to ABI, 60% of tablet used iOS, 37% used Android, and the remaining 3% was made up of “others”.
App publisher Animoca recently calculated the top 12 Android tablets, based on app usage, and it found that five of the top six are 7-inchers- and with iPad Mini touting the 7″+ form factor – Tablet markets in the foreseeable future could look to stabilize at 7″ form factor.
Theoretically, that could bode well for Microsoft, because the company is said to be at work on a 7-inch Surface tablet. Surface tablets haven’t sold well, but perhaps a less-expensive and smaller form factor would help. A possible winner would be a 7-inch Windows tablet that takes advantage of Microsoft’s partnership with Barnes and Noble and taps into B&N’s vast book repository and growing video offerings, as well as into Microsoft’s successful Xbox-based gaming ecosystem.
Still, if ABI Research numbers are right, Microsoft so far hasn’t been able to tap into people’s growing desire for tablets, and won’t in the foreseeable future.
Smart-phones are ubiquitous devices globally and it feels funny to write an obituary to such a mega-hype. But as with most and many technologies, there is a lifecycle – and the alternative will come through sooner than later. Disruption is inevitable.
Computing as a consumer activity and behavior is evolving and the interfaces are getting as close to human social behavior, thought processing and sensory valuation as it can. The devices of tomorrow will be a coherent mix of Immersive Internet Media, Inclusive “user centered ”Computing, Portability to the point of ubiquity, based on Sensory Platforms and Always Real time. All this builds up-to a future in devices where the devices will be controlled by Mind and be an extension of the human self.
Coming back to the replacement of Smartphones, the recent developments in Augmented reality, Speech Recognition methodologies and Gesture based controls combined together could spell the next platform in computing – a wearable one at that – the prototype of which is Google Glass. Microsoft also has a product in the pipeline currently code named as Photosynth. As a gadget, the concepts are very interesting and far reaching in terms of harbingers what the next wave in technology –called wearable technology. These devices will overlay data with predictive analytics, Social Media and Digital Illustrations and other commercials application such as payments etc. Predictive analytics, Speech Recognition, Gesture Control, In memory analytics, social analytics and Augmented Reality are already at various stages of maturity in the technology life cycles. The trick is about getting them together and my bet is that Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM and a couple of the technology companies would already be working to get the concepts in place.
Google Glass-How it works!
Google Glasses are in the developmental stages now and have been demoed for LAYAR (Layered Augmented Reality Apps). Microsoft’s Photosynth is still in the concept development phases. Understandably both concepts and the PoCs are in infancy right now with a lot of rough edges, but then these technologies will be truly disruptive once they start hitting the threshold/critical state numbers.
The Google Glass demo!
The disruption will be in the sense that there will be no additional devices such as smartphones and tablets – it will be a wearable unit controlled by human interfaces- speech, motion etc. To that extent it is clearly disrupting the smartphone kind of interface signaling the end of the smartphone era.
The obituary for Smartphones is done and dusted. The key challenge for wearable computing will be the productization of these concepts. Watch this space for more.
About 3 months back, I had been musing about the change that was afoot at Microsoft – The 30 year old OS centric company was for the first time shedding its old feathers to look, feel and compete with the new kid on the block – Google and a resurgent old rival – Apple. Ballmer’s letters to Microsoft share holders clearly signals that Microsoft is moving away from its make the OS & the service, let the partner handle the device model, which is what Ballmer terms as “significant shift, both in what we do and how we sees ourselves”. This is clearly necessitated by Internet and cloud centric business models, which puts the Microsoft traditional server, desktop and OS centric model. Given the momentum that Apple has now in mobile workforce and cloud space and the initial cold shrugs that Microsoft’s high price tablets have seen, Micorosft will take more batter before they get better. Also, the head start that Apple and Android have in the mobility space can be hard to overcome. Microsoft has to play the game changer and it needs its OEMs to support it while it does so. However the device route would mean that it will expend itself trying to integrate things into the user experience and the device. May be Google and Apple are doing this bit – but Microsoft will have to really execl to take the game away from Google and Apple.
The Windows centricity still remains as per Ballmer the intent to “firmly establishing one platform, Windows, across the PC, tablet, phone, server and cloud to drive a thriving ecosystem of developers, unify the cross-device user experience, and increase agility when bringing new advancements to market.” With Windows8, Microsoft is pushing to have unified messaging across all platforms. More than just sharing the same name, the various versions of Windows for different devices will now share a common foundation. It’s a move not dissimilar to what Apple does with OS X and iOS and its an essential part of making it easy for developers to target specific platforms.
Ballmer closes his shareholder letter by noting that “it truly is a new era at Microsoft ” and that the company has “an unprecedented amount of opportunity for both this year and the long term.” However given the number of competitors that it has to contend with, and the umbrage of the OEM makers who see Microsoft’s device designs as a challenge to their own competencies – it will be a complex equation, making the revenue and profits strategy work in a dynamic environment. Already the new game that Microsoft is playing itself is hurting itself as it suffered its worst loss ever in its 26 year old history in April-June quarter 2012.
However, it does make sense for a possible take over a beleaguered Nokia by Microsoft. Doesn’t it?
The Nokia Lumia has a lot of small details .From a device perspective, the key is that lots of these small details add up to a holistic experience that creates aspiration. However, what ultimately sells is a collection of details properly integrated into a whole experience which needs a complete end to end eco-system integration. That could be a concern for Nokia given the Amazon and Apple strategies of putting their eco-systems as points of differentiation as against just the devices.
Being from the Nokia stable, there is little doubt these devices will stand out from the crowd in terms of hardware which will help the extra delta at retail. A quick look at whats in offer from Nokia -
The Nokia City lens Augmented reality app
- Nokia Maps is refreshed to include an add-on functionality is that of Offline availability. This is not the usual cached units, but a true offline feature which is important for data conservation. To top it, it has free turn by turn voice navigation.
- Nokia Maps also gets augmented reality. The Nokia City Lens is pretty slick in delivering augmented reality in what’s useful and not just a gimmicky manner. In scheme of things of Nokia’s business as a whole, Maps will be a big revenue driver going forward on top of a differentiator on their devices and City lens can be an important enabler in terms of the AR browser to provide a simple, fluid and intuitive experience to the user . Nokia location platform is now a core part of the WP8 platform
- The new Lumia range will support NFC with the only drawback that it connects only to other Windows devices. NFC plays music by placing it on the speakers.
- Glove dial is another good to have app which allows the capacitive screen to respond to touch by elements other than the human hands – for instance gloves.
- A first in the industry which was supposed to be Apple’s thunder is stolen by Nokia as it premiers the Wireless charging across the board. This is actually a new meaning to the term – Power Nap and the wireless charging keeps the battery topped off. Nokia has partnered the Fatboy recharge pillow such that the phone left on this recharging pad will top up the battery charge. Interestingly enough, even before its launch, Nokia has eco-system partnerships to promote its wireless charging feature through Virgin in its Heathrow Airport lounge, and Coffee Bean on its countertops using the wireless power consortium standard
- There is also an awful lot that has been integrated into the camera space
- Pure view on the new range of Lumia phones is more than a Megapixel count. SO there’s no point in getting misled by a 8MP count on the camera. The Pure View captures between 5-10x the light of any other camera in a phone and easily surpasses image stabilization of most DSLRs. The Floating lens technology used is used to stabilize the lens for HD video stabilization as well.
- Cinemagraph which essentially adds a video experience on a still photo. A hybrid between the still and video – it also allows frames customization.
- The Smart Shoot feature allows to get rid of unwanted parts of an image automatically.
- Nokia integrates the Photosynth augmented reality app too create a hyperlink navigated real time picture of the world indexed by photographs in the web. Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space. Now that once done is a WOW!
The Microsoft Photosynth feature
The Nokia Cinemagraph feature
The Nokia fatboy Recharge pillow
The message through the launch event of Lumia is loud and clear -Nokia ecosystem is growing and Nokia has a direction. Music, Navigation and Imaging are the Nokia mantras – as Nokia delves deep into the consumer psyche of why and how the phones are used. While the absence of a launch date and pricing are huge dampeners, the new direction that the Nokia-Windows partnership is taking is pretty interesting.
The only problem remains is that Apple’ event scheduled for 12th September may see an immediate launch – and the absence of Nokia for the next 2 months will mean that the iPhone5 will take all the shelf space, operator space and consumer space – leaving Nokia out to fight its way back. But so far – it’s a new direction for Nokia and personally I am glad that Nokia-Windows seems to be putting a spirited comeback. The only silent fellow in this interim is Android which seems to be fast fading and loosing its colors.
This is the first of two post series on Amazon
Amazon killed it … or very nearly did. Amazon’s device and service announcements in the 6th September event have just gone to show Amazon a few notches above Google, Nokia and Microsoft put together.
Post the launch of Kindle Fire tablets last year and a record sales in the holiday season, Amazon spent a lot of time understanding their customers and how the customers use digital media. In the course they have managed subverting the long held notions of device pricing – and managing the margins without any device contributions. After all, when you make your money through services, device margins are obliterated. That is going to put a awful lot of pressure on the earlier generation of device makers – Samsung, Nokia, HTC and the works. What that means is that Amazon is willing to make the Kindle and the Kindle Fire a loss leader to lure shoppers inside its virtual store. This principle is where disruption @ Amazon begins.
People don’t want gadgets anymore; they want services, and the new ranges of Amazon devices have a clear perspective- to provide a dedicated sales channel for Amazon’s digital storefront with an end-to-end set of services. By taking off the device bit, Amazon signals that it is ecosystems not devices that will drive consumer purchases. As Bezos puts it- “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices.” When business isn’t built on HW margins, the larger ecosystem and services you can do a lot of things competitors can’t – that’s an innovation principle that Apple and Amazon would hold as the key.
Amazon is stepping up ecosystem efforts but is focussing on its own features, services. Third-party apps still seem like an afterthought. Similar is principle to the Apple “Walled Garden”. Given Apple’s iOS app selection & large ecosystem of it’s own, I don’t think iPad is under major threat. But Apple cannot afford to be complacent.
The 6th September event was an act of declaration of war and the whole eco-system and market just got a whole lot more interesting in the course rebuilding the DNA of Amazon. The only other company who is thinking of business in the manner that Jeff Bezos is thinking about it, is Apple! As per Bezos – “We have our own patents, our own hardware, can afford to subsidize, and we’re going after Apple”. That’s setting the perspective.
In short, this is all about Amazon positioning itself as the future in digital distribution
Too often technology is being used to protect old business models rather than unlock new ones. Fortunately for Nokia, it seems to have broken this paradigm as it embarks on a slow climb upward from it Symbian to Microsoft Windows 8 OS. O 5th Septmebre 2012, Nokia went to show the first Windows 8 devices for the record. The event tagline - SwitchtoLumia is very apt, timely and relevant as RIM & some Android users are looking for something different. Unboutedly, iPhone5 will pick up many of the BB/Android dissenters, but the latest Lumia launches by Nokia, gives it a chance – its real one in over 3-4 years.
The success story has rolled over from devices to platform and now on to eco-systems. Devices and apps are only a part of the story. Nokia’s latest efforts with Lumia has shown that it is focusing on the right thing: owning up eco-system and improving service delivery user-experience. Apple still has the big marketing edge as long as it’s the only company to consistently do this and owns end to end delivering the experience – it’s what happens when you control the end to end experience… it does matter. But the good part for Nokia and Microsoft is that they have made a start. Unlike iPhone and iPad, no single product shall define this approach for Nokia/Microsoft -
The good thing for the Nokia- Microsoft duo is that no one will ever confuse Windows Phone with Android or iOS. The challenge is can Nokia and Microsoft explain how different is better. Nokia’s second challenge is to differentiate Nokia devices from other Windows Phones. Samsung has already tried one-upp’ing Nokia by pre-announcing the ACTIV S 5 days before Nokia announced the Lumias.
Nokia has clearly raised the bar in terms of core hardware features. Visible differentiation is there in terms of the device look, finish and feel. On the positioning front, Nokia is betting big on Imaging,Music and Location as core differentiators that can drive adoption. WP8 is the enabler but getting the eco-system to ride on the top and provide key differentials is what’s going to differentiate these devices versus the Android Army. Thats a hell of a ask, with the number of partners involved and the fact that everyone needs to be in sync.
If the IBM PC was created in this patent environment there would be no Apple. They would have sued them out of existence.
If cars were invented today, one manufacturer would have a patent on using 4 wheels and all others had to pay a license fee for it.
While many have condemned the patent laws to be anti-thessis of innovation, the fact as of yesterday, the 25th of August 2012 remains that Apple has dealt a know-out blow on Samsung in the ongoing patent infringement case. Apple was awarded $1.05 billion for patent infringements by Samsung. Apple’s $1bln patent victory against Samsung is the third biggest patent victory. Centocor Ortho $1.67bln vs. Abbott Labs & Lucent $1.52bln vs Microsoft are higher. The current jury award of more than $1 billion isn’t going to kill Samsung, but the forthcoming possible injunctions against selling current devices is going to hurt Android more than anything. There are “others” who will re-evaluate the cost of licensing the patents on the ‘free’ Android OS.Expect Apple to be drafting invoices in the very near future.Most of these manufacturers will now want a fully licensed, covers all the patents and a user-accepted OS. The answer is obvious – the only alternative to Android is Microsoft. The timing is actually great for Microsoft too with Windows Phone 8 announcements coming in just a week and a half in New York.
As far as Samsung is concerned, the last thing Samsung will want to do is be left stranded in the courts holding their Android football while everyone else runs ahead to score with Windows Phone handsets. Nokia are all-in on the new platform, HTC could see it as a way to bypass Samsung’s dominance in Android, and both Huawei and ZTE are ready to leverage Microsoft’s OS. Samsung’s risk mitigation strategy of investing in multiple OSs and even in Windows will be very handy for them. Imagine where such a thing would leave Nokia, who are averse to distribute risks over multiple OSs.
Speaking of Nokia and Microsoft then – God could not have been kinder. 2 years into the Smartphone act, Microsoft was no-where with Windows and an year with Lumia, Nokia has barely cut through. Now Microsoft gets a few serious partners and Nokia benefits from an enhanced interest in the Windows phone. While there are many other factors that have benefitted Nokia’s share proce which has increased by 78% in the last month, the patent battle would be one of the underlying factors for the spike at Nokia.
Overall, Apple took the victory, Samsung lost in court, but the true winner looks to be Microsoft.
Strategy Analytics – Global tablet shipments reached 24.9 million units in the second quarter of 2012 up by 67% from 14.9 million in Q2 2011.. Apple rose to 68 percent global market share, having shipped a robust 17.0 million iPads worldwide, its highest level for almost two years.
Apple continued to shrug off the much-hyped threat from Android and the iPad’s global tablet share is at its highest level since Q3 2010.
Android captured 29 percent share of global tablet shipments in Q2 2012, remaining static from 29 percent a year earlier. Global Android tablet shipments grew by more than half to 7.3 million units. Despite high expectations for companies like Amazon, Samsung, Acer and Asus, the Android community has yet to make a serious dent in Apple’s dominance of the tablet market. Unspectacular hardware designs, limited uptake of cellular models and a modest number of tablet-optimized services have been among some of the main reasons for Android’s mixed performance so far.
Microsoft tablets remain niche, but attention is turning to the upcoming Windows 8 launches.
Others such as Blackberry and WebOS seemed to have been consigned to history as the race for Technology leadership narrows down to the triumverate.
As against Android which has gone all out, Microsoft is reportedly pursuing the policy of “Less is more”. Microsoft is making a concerted effort to keep the Windows RT tablet market as uncrowded as possible and is forcing NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to each choose only two OEM partners that will be allowed to develop Windows RT tablets at the launch of the new OS in October.
Lenovo and Asus are NVIDIA’s picks, Qualcomm opted for Samsung and HP while TI nabbed Toshiba. These five vendors will be producing ARM-based Windows RT tablets from October and come January, Microsoft lift the licensing restrictions on the operating system.
The interesting question and the notable omission in this list is Nokia. Now, wasn’t Nokia the blue –eyed boy for the Microsoft tablet? Or are we missing something?