The worldwide tablet tablet market is expected to see a significant decline for 2014, according to reports from the International Data Corporation. The tablet market's year-over-year growth is expected to be 7.2% this year, down from 52.5% in 2013. According to the analysts, one of the central reasons for the market slowdown is the expectation that 2014 will be the first year Apple will see a decline in iPad shipments.
IDC expects Apple to ship 64.9 million iPads this calendar year, a decline of 12.7 percent from 2013. Capturing 67.7 percent market share and shipping 159.5 million devices, Google's Android operating system will continue to be the most popular OS for tablets.
Total tablet market shipments is projected to hit 235.7 million units shipped, yielding relatively small growth of 7.2 percent over 2013. As a comparison, shipments in the worldwide tablet market saw 52.5 percent growth from 2012 to 2013. IDC equates this slowdown in growth to the longer lifespan of tablets in the modern market.
"The tablet market continues to be impacted by a few major trends happening in relevant markets," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2-3 years. What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years. We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet life-cycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks."
IDC also points towards consumer hesitancy over Windows 8 tablets for such low market shares in the total tablet and 2-in-1, or detachable, product market, a space Microsoft largely owns at the moment. Microsoft will only see about 11 million tablet shipments this year, equating to less than 5% of the overall tablet market.
"We need to look at how the tablet ecosystem is answering these challenges, and right now we see a lot of pressure on tablet prices and an influx of entry-level products, which ultimately serves Android really well," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director for Tablets. "But we also see tablet manufacturers trying to offset this price pressure by focusing on larger screens and cellular-enabled tablets. The next six months should be really interesting."
Looking forward, IDC sees a few factors that could impact the worldwide tablet market, including the overall industry reaction to Windows 10, what Google does in the tablet space with Android and Chrome OS, and the yearly potential of even more products from Apple. But, according to IDC, "Despite all of these unknowns, it seems clear that consumers can be expected to hold onto tablets longer than smartphones."
Apple renewed its maps and search partnership with Google in 2010, but with that contract reportedly set to end in 2015, both Yahoo and Microsoft are actively vying to be the next default search provider for Apple's Safari products, reports The Information.
Both Microsoft and Yahoo have existing relationships with Apple, with Yahoo providing stock data to iOS and Microsoft supplying Siri with Bing search results. Executives from both companies have reportedly already approached Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, about a potential agreement that could see one of them displace Google to become the default search engine for iOS devices and Macs. There is no indication Apple has made any decision which company, if any, will replace Google.
Yahoo has approached Apple in the past about expanding their relationship on mobile, although things moved in the opposite direction with iOS 8 as Apple cut out middle-man Yahoo for weather data and instead began sourcing data directly from The Weather Channel.
Yahoo has also reportedly been working on a revamp of its mobile search in hopes of landing an agreement with Apple to be the default search provider on iOS, but for now the companies are still in the discussion stages as Apple's deal with Google remains in effect for the time being.
Microsoft was said to be in the running for the 2010 deal with its Bing services, but Apple ultimately opted to extend its deal with Google that has seen Apple reportedly receiving in excess of $1 billion per year.
Seeking to attract iPhone users to its new Passport smartphone, BlackBerry yesterday announced a new Blackberry Trade-Up Program offering customers up to $550 to trade in an iPhone 4s or higher towards the purchase of a BlackBerry Passport. The program begins December 1 and offers the full $550 only when trading in an excellent condition iPhone 6, or presumably an iPhone 6 Plus, as that device isn't explicitly mentioned in the program's terms and conditions.
Other iPhone models accepted include the iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, and 5c, with all eligible iPhones receiving a "BlackBerry Top-Up" amount of $150 added onto the usual valuations of the device for participating in the program to reach the $550 maximum payout. Like most trade-in programs, the memory size and condition also factor heavily in the actual amount of money offered.
iPhone users wanting to take part in BlackBerry's offer have from December 1 through February 13, 2015 to order a Passport, and thirty days following that to mail in an eligible Trade-Up device. The special offer can be completed on BlackBerry's official online store or through Amazon, and is only available in North America.
The company has been attempting to gain favor with Apple customers since the Passport launched in September, with CEO John Chen stating, "I challenge you to bend the Passport" during the midst of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus bending controversy.
In addition to the Trade-Up program, BlackBerry is offering holiday deals on the Passport itself and the BlackBerry Z30 on its online store.
Apple's stock continues its strong recent performance, hitting another milestone today with a market capitalization of $700 billion and once again setting a new standard as the highest market cap in history before pulling back slightly. The mark comes less than two weeks after Apple's market cap passed $660 billion to set its first new high in two years.
The company's market capitalization has doubled since Tim Cook was named CEO in August 2011.
Apple's stock is up nearly 60 percent over the past year and up 24 percent since the company's October 16 media event, which was followed just days later by a strong earnings report. Looking forward, Apple is expected to show blockbuster iPhone sales for the holiday quarter, and Wall Street is anticipating continued strong performance into 2015 as Apple looks to add yet another product category to its mix with the Apple Watch.
While Apple has been routinely setting new stock price highs for months, the new standards for market capitalization have not come until more recently, as the company's aggressive stock buyback program has reduced the number of shares available on the market. With market capitalization calculated as the share price multiplied by the number of shares outstanding, the share price has had to reach higher levels to make up for the lower number of shares. Apple's current share price of just under $120 is equivalent to nearly $835 on a pre-split basis.
Just under a week after Sony Pictures dropped the Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs movie, Universal Studios has picked it up, according to The Wrap. X-Men: First Class star Michael Fassbender is also now attached to star as Jobs.
Universal Pictures has picked up the Steve Jobs biopic less than a week after it was dropped by Sony, an individual with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap.
Sony suddenly dropped the film last Wednesday after it had developed it for two years. One report indicated the studio dropped the movie because of the shooting schedule. Director Danny Boyle wanted to start shooting in January 2015, when Fassbender would be available to shoot. Sony, however, wanted to shoot a little later, which would have clashed with Fassbender's schedule as he was set to shoot X-Men: Apocalypse.
Earlier this month, Christian Bale dropped out of the film despite Sorkin confirming his involvement. Fassbender stepped into the role shortly afterward and actors Jessica Chastain and Seth Rogen have recently emerged as potential cast members, with Rogen possibly playing Steve Wozniak.
The film is expected to follow Jobs during three stressful, high profile product launches, including NeXT, the debut of the Macintosh in 1984 and the iPod debut in 2001.
Apple today launched two new ads featuring the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are once again voiced by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake and highlight features like the iPhone 6's gaming capabilities and its ability to relay phone calls to Macs and iPads.
In the first humorous ad, entitled "Gamers," the focus is on the A8 chip in the iPhone 6, with the ad showing off the recently released multiplayer online battle arena game Vainglory. "The A8 chip is so powerful it brings gaming to the next level. I mean if you're into that kind of thing," says Fallon, before bantering with Timberlake about the gameplay.
The second ad, entitled "Reservations," highlights Continuity and the ability for the iPhone to relay calls to Macs and iPads. "Did you know you can use an iPhone 6 to make a call from almost any Apple device?" asks Fallon before the two go on to make silly calls from a variety of devices, including a Mac and an iPad.
The new ads launched today are the fifth and sixth iPhone 6 ads that Apple has released starring Fallon and Timberlake. The first two ads, "Duo" and "Health" were shown off during the iPhone 6's September debut, and two additional ads, "Huge" and "Cameras," were released later in September.
While many companies are following in the footsteps of Oculus VR and have already introduced virtual reality hardware, there has been little to no hint that the technology mentioned in Apple's numerous patents will ever come to fruition.
Apple's interest in the virtual reality arena does not appear to have waned, however, and it may even be picking up. A new job posting on Apple's site for an "App Engineer" (via 9to5Mac) suggests that the company is continuing to explore virtual and augmented reality, at least on the software side. The job listing seeks a software engineer to help the company "create next generation software experiences" designed to integrate with "Virtual Reality systems."
We are looking for a software engineer to develop UI and applications to create next generation software experiences. The individual must be able to take participate in collaborative and iterative UI design through the implementation phases & complete performant user experience code for product delivery. This engineer will create high performance apps that integrate with Virtual Reality systems for prototyping and user testing.
It is not clear, of course, what Apple means by "Virtual Reality systems," which could refer to a full-on hardware experience, an augmented reality app experience, or something else entirely, but augmented reality and virtual reality have become increasingly important areas for development. Headsets like the Oculus Rift are beginning to catch on, and Google has been experimenting with augmented reality, both in its Ingress game for iOS and Android and with "Project Tango," an ambitious experimental smartphone that will provide 3-D mapping capabilities and immersive augmented reality games.
Apple is in possession of technology that's quite similar to what's used in Google's Project Tango, which Apple acquired in 2013 with the purchase of 3-D mapping company PrimeSense. PrimeSense famously developed the original Kinect, and its technology could be used as the backbone for virtual/augmented reality interfaces and games.
Development on new features for iCloud is being held up by "deep organizational issues," according to a new report from The Information, which suggests organizational problems are complicating iCloud products and holding up releases. Much of The Information's report requires a subscription to access, but the article's introduction gives a hint at what's going wrong at Apple.
With iOS 8, Apple introduced some major overhauls to iCloud, including iCloud Drive, which allows users to see all of their files in a dedicated folder on the Mac, similar to Dropbox, and iCloud Photo Library, an ambitious project that lets users upload all of their photos to iCloud.
It seems these features may not be as fully fleshed out as Apple would like, especially when it comes to iCloud Photo Library. iCloud Photo Library wasn't released to the public until iOS 8.1, and it remains in a beta testing phase, with speculation suggesting that iCloud's negative public image due to hacked celebrity accounts and photo leaks may have led to its delay.
Apple is great at building hardware and software that runs on it. But it has long struggled to build services reliant on software that runs remotely rather than on devices. While company executives say they are making progress, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former Apple employees paint a different picture.
Deep organizational issues are holding up releases and complicating products.
According to The Information, Apple's "photo vision" has yet to be "fully realized," with internal problems like the lack of a centralized iCloud team leading to iCloud Photo Library's delayed beta release and the lack of the Photos for Mac app, which isn't expected to be completed until 2015.
Photos for Mac, which will integrate with iCloud Photo Library for a complete photo editing and management system, is said to be taking on elements of both iPhoto and Aperture, two apps that Apple has opted to discontinue in favor of the Photos for Mac app. Launching iCloud Photo Library without a companion Mac app leaves a major piece of the iCloud puzzle missing, as users are not able to edit iCloud Photo Library photos natively on their laptops and desktop computers.
While iCloud Photo Library will remain incomplete for some months yet, Apple has been adding features to the iCloud Photos web app as a stopgap measure. Just last week, the company added a much-needed upload feature to its iCloud.com website, allowing users to add photos to iCloud Photo Library outside of their iOS devices for the first time.
iCloud Photo Library is not the first Apple service that's been delayed by organizational issues within the company. iOS in the Car, which later became CarPlay, saw development issues ahead of its official launch as it did not fit neatly into an existing hardware or software category. Internal issues have also been said to be affecting the development of the Maps app and the introduction of new features, like transit directions, due to poor planning, project management issues, and an ongoing loss of developers.
As smartwatches based on Android Wear and other operating systems continue to proliferate, users have been increasingly looking to download digital likenesses of high-end watch faces onto their favorite wearable tech devices. The luxury watchmakers behind the real-world design of the digital "fake" versions are now attempting to put an end to those creating smartwatch clones of their products, according to TorrentFreak.
Last week, Apple released its WatchKit developer tools, allowing developers to begin creating apps for the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch. Those developer tools do not currently support the creation of custom watch face designs, but it is possible they could do so in the future once Apple begins supporting fully native Apple Watch apps next year.
Companies including IWC, Panerai, Omega, Fossil, Armani, Michael Kors, Tissot, Certina, Swatch, Flik Flak, and Mondaine are sending cease-and-desist notices to websites, and even individuals, thought to be offering faces for Android Wear and other smartwatch platforms without permission. The watchmakers are citing various registered trademark, design, and copyright violations.
Richemont, the company behind IWC, Cartier, and Panerai, is one of the front-runners of the legal action and is giving owners of the pirate watch face sites as little as twenty-four hours to remove all infringing content.
TorrentFreak spoke with Luke, the owner of FaceRepo, one of the watchface download sites targeted by pirate allegations. He voiced support of the anti-piracy steps being taken, and detailed the use of a keyword filter they use that helps stop infringing content before it can even be uploaded. Users are also notified if their created designs are infringing copyright, and goes so far as to deactivate accounts of repeat offenders.
“Although some of the replica faces we’ve received take downs for are very cool looking and represent significant artistic talent on the part of the designer, we believe that owners of copyrights or trademarks have the right to defend their brand,” Luke explained.
“If a copyright or trademark owner contacts us, we will promptly remove infringing material. To date, all requests for removal of infringing material have been satisfied within a matter of hours.”
Apple itself hasn't even become a player yet in the smartwatch market and has already faced allegations such as these. Back in 2012, the Swiss Federal Railway service accused Apple of copying its iconic railway clock. A few months after the allegation, Apple reportedly paid the company $21 million for the rights to the clock face design.
As part of its campaign announced late yesterday to support the upcoming World AIDS Day, Apple has also confirmed its annual Black Friday sale on November 28, which is branded this year as the (RED) Special Shopping Day Promo.
The U.S. promotion is offering (RED) gift cards to customers who purchase a qualifying product on Black Friday. Unlike last year, Apple is including the iPhone in the (RED) promotion this year, offering a $50 gift card for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c purchases except for those made with no money down through the online store.
Gift card amounts for other products vary and include $100 on select Macs, $50 on qualifying iPads, and $25 each on qualifying Apple TV, iPods, and Beats hardware. Some of these amounts are lower than last year's Black Friday sale, which provided $150 gift cards for Mac hardware, $75 for the iPad Air and $50 on iPods. This year's sale includes the following hardware and gift card values:
- iPhone ($50): iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c - iPad ($50): iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2, iPad mini - Mac ($100): iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Retina iMac, Retina MacBook Pro - iPod ($25): iPod touch, iPod nano - Apple TV ($25) - Beats by Dr. Dre ($25): headphones and speakers
The (RED) Special Shopping Day Promo begins on November 28 and lasts for one day or while supplies last. This Black Friday sale is part of Apple's recently announced World AIDS Day campaign, and in addition to the gift cards for customers on Friday, Apple will also donate a portion of its retail and online sales from Black Friday, November 28 and Monday, December 1 to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.