Google is in the process of selling Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. It’s big news since just a couple years ago they bought them for $12.5 billion. Seems like a big loss, but when you count the different pieces that have been absorbed and factor in the patents that stay with Google then the loss is much closer to a couple billion dollars. I’m not sure that the patents were really worth much to start. I say that because most Android handset manufacturers are still paying a license fee to Microsoft and Google failed to extract much money from Microsoft for their use of media patents used by the Xbox. With Motorola losing $384 million this year, it still makes sense if Google doesn’t want to be in the device business. Of course, two years ago they said that they wanted to create a premier device. Oh well.
All this is happening just as Microsoft is completing its purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services division. They are redefining themselves to include a significant devices focus. So does this even make sense? Will they be selling off the remnants of Nokia in a couple years? As the Facebook relationship status says, “It’s complicated.” Hal Berenson (ex Microsoft manager) wrote a nice blog post on the whole phone, phablet, tablet situation. It paints a picture which requires Microsoft to execute well with it’s device plan if it’s going survive in the devices space. Of course regardless of how they do in devices, their enterprise divisions will still thrive. There’s just a lot of flux in the marketplace and what seemed like an obvious thing two years ago has changed and you wonder why anyone thought that before.
Historically Apple has always been a producer of devices. Sure they make software as well, but the money comes from the devices and people purchase them because they have the reputation of “just working”. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but it’s true enough for them to have done pretty well of late. If you look at the long game though, people tend to only complain about their manufacturing of devices when they aren’t doing very well. All these things have cycles and you can expect another one when the volume of sales slows (which it will). Right now, they are looking good though.
I still think we have a few more years before things settle out. As I mentioned a few posts back, the smart devices and wearables are coming. Google just got out of the phone business (hardware) and purchased a few smart devices companies. So are you ready to swap your phone for a watch? (Correction: These are seen as companion devices and not replacements)
This month was a pretty active one in the tech industry. Apple announced and then subsequently released two new phone models: iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. Microsoft also announced it’s new duo of tablets: Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. All of this follows a recent update to the Nexus 7 tablet by Google. Oct 18th will see the release of Windows 8.1 into retail and this will be surrounded by new hardware launching with the updated OS on board. And this morning I see that Amazon and Roku have rolled out new iterations of their products.
The short version of this post is that this doesn’t change anything. The market is locked into its current allocation and although the new technology really is a step forward, it will not move one player in front of the other. Most people are locked into their preferences (and ecosystems) and new hardware/software iterations don’t change that dynamic.
Continue reading Advancement of Technology Continues
Seems that each new iPhone release has to bring with it some new issue. With the iPhone 4 we had the antenna that was in the rim of the phone and would drop calls when held too tightly. With the 4S, everyone was expecting a version 5 and was a little let down by the lack of features. With the iPhone 5, people were still expecting more. What they got was a slimmer, lighter and longer version of the 4S.
It seems that each release has one thing in common: unrealistic expectations. What has happened is the iPhone has reached mythical status and has attracted a group of followers as well as a group of detractors. So with each release the “faithful” are waiting for this new device to come in a smite all of those that dare say it’s not perfect! It’s all quite interesting to watch. It’s also an enviable place to be for a company. In the first week of availability, the iPhone 5 sold 5 million devices. I’m not sure if that is shipped to retail or activations, but either way it’s a huge money maker.
So what does the new iPhone 5 offer that new and interesting?
- new LTE wireless radio for true 4G data
- larger 4 inch display (roughly the same level of detail)
- more powerful CPU (it’s not only faster, but more energy efficient)
- a slightly different design that is thinner and lighter
That’s it. Well there’s also the mandatory iOS6 on board. That’s the one that brings the new Apple maps that everyone hates (which I believe will eventually be fixed). At the end of the day, it is an improved version of the 4S. Not revolutionary, but evolutionary. That’s what has most people disappointed.
If you like your current iPhone, but your contract is up and the battery is getting a little weak then this is the natural progression. Upgrade and never look back. I think most of their sales now are people that fall in this category. If you want something revolutionary or flashy then you’ll walk to look elsewhere as Apple has sort of settled into their iOS house. All things considered, the iPhone 5 is a great device that will work great as a phone/pda/”connection to the world”. I’m still waiting for the WP8 devices to come out before I decide on my next phone.
In my first post on the topic, I looked at accessing the “over the air” HDTV signal in our area. That went pretty well. That brought me to the next question, how will we get the shows that aren’t on the “free TV” channels (ex. Mythbusters). Not only do we need them in a timely fashion, but also we need to be able to see them from all over the house. Oh, and it needs to be easy enough for a child to access (as easy as Netflix).
Step Two – Verify that we can access purchased media from different locations around the house.
The biggest source of content (shows and movies) for the family is Netflix. We have both the streaming and the movie subscriptions. With that we have most of the content from previous years. The current season of shows aren’t on Netflix though, so we need another way to see shows from the current season (the next day after they air on the TV). The first things that came to mind were iTunes and the Xbox Video Marketplace.
The problem with iTunes is that we don’t have an all Apple ecosystem. We do have an iPhone and an iPad, but no Mac computers or Apple TVs. Even the two Apple devices that we have are linked to different iTunes accounts. In the past, people would use the same account on all devices. With iCloud, you need separate accounts so that your email and calendars don’t get mixed up.
The problem with XBox Video Marketplace is also that the content will be tied to a specific account and you can’t have simultaneous logins on different XBoxes at the same time. This is definitely something that Apple, Google and Microsoft will have to figure out if they want their ecosystems to flourish.
One company that isn’t dependent on their hardware is Amazon. They do have the Kindle, but it isn’t so popular that they refuse to allow access from other devices. Just the opposite is true. They provide Amazon Instant Video clients for the XBox, PS3, Computer, Kindle, Blu-ray players and Smart TVs. They also have season passes (show ready next day after airing on TV) for most popular shows. Another option from Amazon is their Prime subscriptions. This bundles a set of TV shows & movies with an ebook library and free 2 day shipping for $79 per year. I don’t think it provides enough value for us yet, but we could easily pay for it with the savings from cancelling cable.
There may be other options out there (Vudu comes to mind), but Amazon Instant Video library should do the trick for us. It’s cheap enough and easily accessible.
I posted a few days ago about the Android Juggernaut or Android’s market leading percentage of OS (mobile operating systems) sales. It seems that Apple is probably okay with the current state of the market as their quarterly profits of $13 billion (the $ after the bills are paid) is greater than Google’s revenue of $10.6 billion (the $ before the bills are paid). So even though the Android OS might be on more handsets, Apple investors are plenty happy with these record breaking results. Competition is a good thing. I’m not a fan of Apple products, but I’m not an enemy of them either. Right now the market seems healthy in terms of competition. I hope it stays that way.