Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boot up: Apple's ecosystem fight, Chinese moves mapped, Samsung's PC cuts, and more

 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy: includes smart computers. Photograph: c.Touchstone/Everett / Rex Features/EVT

A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Tero Kuittinen (he's busy):

the long-term threat for the company is that Google may be able to leverage hot growth in Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific to undermine Apple's once so absolute dominance of the global app revenue generation. Strength in China alone cannot keep Apple in control. Unless Apple finds a way to fight Google's budget models in emerging markets, the app industry will start favouring Google Play, perhaps sooner than most people realize. Many developers are already starting to rethink the old "First iOS, then Google Play after 6-12 months" playbook. Apple's tepid, 5%, revenue growth in Europe reflects the strong gains Android vendors are making particularly in Mediterranean markets like Spain, Italy and France.

For consumers, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the native and HTML5 apps – they aren't listed separately in the Appstore, making them hard to spot at a glance. Had a significant number of developers participated here by submitting their web creations, that could lead to the perception that the developer community is turning to Android in greater numbers.

However, Amazon didn't share in its announcement how many HTML5 apps are available today – something that could indicate it doesn't have numbers it wishes to tout just yet. (We've asked the company to clarify by offering us some figures, though, and will update when we have them. Update: Amazon declined to provide any numbers.)

Sameer Singh:

In the premium smartphone market, the basis of competition among "lower-end" consumers has shifted to pricing and customization to individual preferences (e.g.: screen size). This, combined with carrier moves towards transparent pricing (driven by a basis of competition shift in the US telecom industry), increased competition to "unexpected" levels. Therefore, even as the sales performance of the flagship iPhone 5S remained strong, Apple was losing potential buyers of its "cheaper" iPhones to "good enough" competitors. The combination of the iPhone's weak volumes and sudden spike in ASP confirm this fact.

As billions of Chinese people prepare to celebrate the new year, social network Baidu - often referred to as "China's Google" - has been tracking the mass movement of people out of the country's cities and into the countryside.

The interactive map, which is updated hourly, has been made by logging where data requests were made to its maps service and other apps that use its location technologies.

The thicker, brighter lines are the busiest routes.

An estimated 1.3 billion people make this kind of journey every year - with millions more travelling in from abroad to join the celebrations, which kick off on Friday.

Wow. Here is the map.

Samsung Electronics has set a goal of shipping 7m notebooks globally in 2014, a reduction of 41.67% from the 12m units shipped in 2013, and will no longer launch conventional notebook models except Chromebooks in 2015, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

Samsung aimed to ship 17m notebooks in 2013 but actually shipped 12m units, the sources said.

Possible pinch of salt (and Samsung may be feeling the effects, like LG, of the Korean government changing its policy on buying PCs). But that's a notable shift towards Chromebooks if correct.

Nathan Taylor:

Long term, sometime in the next 5-15 years, I think voice interaction will become the "God Particle" of mobile. See more detail on the rational for voice's huge upside in my previous post. Normal human beings who struggle with computers, even modern touch interfaces, would love the experience of workable voice interaction. People would connect with their phones on a visceral emotional level. If Google maintains their lead in voice, and voice interaction becomes as common as I expect, then Nexus Android becomes the de facto premium phone. Voice interaction as the "God Particle" of mobile is explicitly clear to anyone who talks to Google about it.

Microsoft is aiming to protect its turf inside large businesses with the help of Windows tablets that run Office, but a new statistic demonstrates the size of the challenge facing the company.

During Apple's quarterly earnings call this afternoon, CEO Tim Cook said that 90% of tablet activations in the enterprise are iPads, despite the features offered by the Microsoft Surface, as well as other tablets running Windows 8. In addition, Cook said that 98% of companies in the Fortune 500 are using iPads.

Cook said he expects Apple to continue to grow in the enterprise.

"I think the road in enterprise is a longer one. The arc is longer than in consumer, which can immediately go out and buy things," he said. "But I think we've done a lot of the ground work … and I would expect that it would have more and more payback in the future."

"DeepMind is bona fide in terms of its research capabilities and depth," says Peter Lee, who heads Microsoft Research.

According to Lee, Microsoft, Facebook (FB), and Google find themselves in a battle for deep learning talent. Microsoft has gone from four full-time deep learning experts to 70 in the past three years. "We would have more if the talent was there to be had," he says. "Last year, the cost of a top, world-class deep learning expert was about the same as a top NFL quarterback prospect. The cost of that talent is pretty remarkable."

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