Author Archives: Jordan Kahn

Apple’s market-leading tablet share falls to 22% against growing cheap media consumption options

IDC-tablets-Q314-01

Worldwide unit shipments for the top 5 tablet plus 2-in-1 device vendors over last five quarters

New data from IDC tracking worldwide tablet shipments shows that Apple has maintained its lead during the third quarter despite “a decline in overall iPad shipment volume in 3Q14.” Specifically, Apple grabbed 22.8% of the market with 12.3 million shipments during the quarter compared to 14.1 million units and 29.2% share in the year ago quarter. That compares to Samsung at 18.3% of the market and 9.9 million units shipped up from 19.3% and 9.3 million units shipped in the third quarter last year:

Apple, during its earnings call, noted that the iPad’s lifecycle is extending. Combined with consumer anticipation and the release of the latest iPhones, IDC saw a decline in overall iPad shipment volume in 3Q14. Although Apple has recently updated and expanded its iPad lineup to its widest offering ever, IDC still expects 2014 to be the year of the iPhone… Samsung has slowly begun to focus on markets like North America and Middle East and Africa (MEA), where low-cost Asian vendors haven’t been able to gain a foothold just yet. Although Samsung’s share declined slightly compared to last year, it was able to experience 5.6% growth and was able to maintain its number 2 rank among the top 5.

While pointing out that tablet shipments have grown 11.5% year over year worldwide, IDC also reports that it “saw Verizon continuing to sell connected tablets at a fast pace, a strategy that we believe other carriers will replicate in following quarters.” If you’re wondering why RCA has entered the top 5 this time around, IDC attributes it to “one large deal linked to back-to-school and channel fill ahead of Black Friday.” The RCA shipments and Verizon sales, according to the report, account for a higher 18.5% growth for tablets in the US.

While Apple and Samsung remained in the number 1 and 2 spots, the companies are followed by ASUS (down one point to 6.5% market share), Lenovo (up slightly to 5.7% share), and RCA up 194% since last year to 4.9% of the market. The “Others” category, however, makes up 41.8% of the market in IDC’s research with 22.5 million units shipped.

IDC-Q314-tablet-shipments-01

It’s not clear how many cheapo, white box tablets make up the others category, but IDC notes that the data in its report includes “both slate tablets and 2-in-1 devices.” You can imagine Apple’s share of tablets people actually use is much higher than 23% it grabbed in IDC’s report. IDC says “Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.”

Worth noting is that leading into Q4 Apple has two new iPad models, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, that will likely give the company a big boost in sales for the important holiday quarter. Both tablets officially went on sale last week in the US and several countries abroad.


Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple, IDC, iPad, marketshare, Tablets

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Skype for iPhone gets save/delete photos feature, adds improved chat load times, synced avatars, more

Skype-iPhone-chatFollowing an update to version 7.1 for Mac yesterday, today Skype for iPhone is getting its own update that brings a few highly requested new features.

First up, version 5.7 of Skype for iPhone introduces the ability to save and delete photos: If you want to save a memorable photo to your camera roll or delete a sent photo from a chat, simply press and hold the image and the options will appear.

Also new in the updated app is much improved performance, according to Skype, including faster chat load times especially when entering a chat through notifications: Now when you receive a notification and tap it to open the app, the message will be there waiting for you without any delays.

Skype is also making avatars work as you’d expect for all users, across all chats types and synced across platforms. In addition the updated app is introducing easier to use people list search and filter options:

  • You can now see all avatars for groups and people, and if they’re changed on other platforms, they’ll update in the app too so you always have the latest showing… In 5.7, we’ve made it easier to find the people list search and filter options, so you can quickly and easily find the person you want to chat with and get started.

The updated Skype app for iPhone, version 5.7, is available on the App Store now. Yesterday Skype released version 7.1 of the app for Mac users bringing support for OS X Yosemite and more.

What’s New in Version 5.7

·        Save and delete photos from chats
·        Chats load faster, especially when opened from a notification
·        Avatars for all chats now stay in sync across platforms
·        People list filter (all contacts, Skype contacts, online contacts) usability improved
·        General improvements


Filed under: Apps

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Kamcord first to bring gameplay recording to Metal, passes Twitch w/ 1.3M unique content creators

KamcordKamcord, the SDK that lets mobile app developers offer gameplay recording and sharing functionality, today announced some pretty impressive milestones alongside new updates for its SDK and mobile app. In addition to announcing 25 million videos shared (it uploads around 1hr of mobile gameplay video per minute), the company also told me it’s now passed popular gaming community Twitch in terms of unique content creators. It has also just became the first to offer gameplay recording functionality for mobile games using Apple’s new Metal technology.

Compare Twitch’s recently announced 1 million content creators to the over 1.3 million that Kamcord’s Eric Edelman told me the company had during September. “Twitch’s numbers include desktop. I think a lot of people have this notion that gameplay recording is still very niche and hasn’t caught on yet. What those numbers show is a tremendous amount of people are already engaging with gameplay recording on mobile.” Edelman thinks that gameplay recording and the communities that form around it will naturally outpace PC/console games: “I think that speaks to the democratic nature of mobile / gameplay recording. It’s much more accessible to gamers to get started because it doesn’t require any technological know-how or savvy.”

And on that note, Twitch’s recently announced mobile SDK is reportedly not going too well. Sources close to the situation told us a test by Gameloft to use Twitch in some of its more popular titles has not met expectations in terms of user engagement.

Another big announcement today is that the Kamcord SDK now includes support for Metal, Apple’s new graphics technology in iOS 8 that allows developers to improve performance by offering “the lowest-overhead access to the GPU”. That means Kamcord now supports all Metal-based game engines and is now  “capable of recording the high-quality gameplay that Metal renders,” according to Edelman. It also means you can expect a lot more high-quality games to integrate Kamcord in the near future (the company says a few Metal developers are already working on it).

Kamcord is also updating its mobile app today with the community app for viewing and sharing gameplay videos getting a brand new look (pictured above), a highly requested notifications feature, and enhancements for iOS 8, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.

As for what’s next, the company is planning big expansions into the Japanese market with a new office in the country that will focus on reaching out to developers there. It’s already working with some of the biggest developers in Japan— Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has Kamcord in his new and popular Terra Battle title. Edelman tells me that traction for the platform has been huge in the country with notable developers Asobimo, Colopl, DeNA, GREE, Gumi, Namco Bandai, SEGA, and Square Enix all now using Kamcord in their apps.


Filed under: AAPL Company

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Google Wallet adds recurring bank transfers for automatically adding money, low balance alerts

Goog-Wallet-low-balance-alerts Goog-Wallet-recurring-transfer-01

Google today announced it’s adding new ways to add money to its Google Wallet service in addition to some new features that will make keeping an eye on your balance easier.

First up, you will now be able to setup automatic bank transfers that will ensure there is always money to spend in your Google Wallet account. The recurring transfers allow you to schedule weekly, bi-weekly or monthly deposits and can be cancelled at any time:

To set up a recurring transfer, go to “Add money” then select “Set up a recurring transfer”

The Google Wallet app is also adding a new low balance alerts feature that will send notifications when a Google Wallet balance gets below a certain amount. You can turn on the notifications and select which amount they want to trigger the alert: To set up Low Balance alerts, open the Google Wallet app and  touch“Low Balance alert” from the Wallet Balance screen.

Google’s Wallet payment service available for both iOS and Android is still limited to the US, allows users to send and receive money, but only offers contactless NFC-payments on supported Android hardware. Google also offers a physical Wallet Card that lets users spend their balance at any location MasterCard Debit cards are accepted.

Google is rolling out the new features to both the iOS and Android versions of the Google Wallet app starting this week for users in the US.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: Android, App Store, bank transfers, Google, iOS, low balance alerts, material design, recurring, update, wallet

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GT Advanced COO discusses Apple’s sapphire fallout, here are the interesting bits

Mesa-Arizona

While lawyers for bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced confirmed previously that it had reached an agreement to repay Apple approximately $439 million, many details regarding what exactly went wrong in the partnership had not been disclosed publicly. Today we get what might be the clearest explanation yet of what happened between the two companies leading up to GTAT filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month.  In a declaration filed by COO of GT Advanced Daniel Squiller with the courts yesterday (via Fortune), the company outlines previously sealed info regarding its deal with Apple and terms of the deal that lead to GT’s bankruptcy filing.

When GTAT initially entered into negotiations to sell sapphire furnaces to Apple, it had no sense that, having borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the components of more than 2,036 sapphire furnaces, it would end up being unable to meet its cost and production targets for reasons that it believes were beyond its control as well as unforeseen difficulties in scaling its technology to 262kg boules to meet evolving product specifications.

While noting that the deal was “an ambitious transaction for the production of sapphire in quantities, size and quality never before achieved,” the document reveals a number of strict terms Apple imposed in the deal that the company describes as limiting its ability to achieve Apple’s requirements for sapphire production. Here’s a few of the more interesting bits:

- the production of 262kg boules of sapphire could not be accomplished within the time frames the parties had agreed, and was more expensive than anticipated. These problems and difficulties resulted in a liquidity crisis at GTAT, which led to the commencement of these chapter 11 cases

- Because GTAT’s facility in Salem Massachusetts (the “Salem Facility”) was exclusively dedicated to the sapphire growth project with Apple, GTAT was unable to use that facility for other revenue streams

-GTAT did not select the fabrication equipment. GTAT was unable to negotiate changes to the pricing regime set forth in the Apple Agreements, and, therefore, GTAT was selling sapphire material at a substantial loss. GTAT’s losses would have increased substantially in 2015 when the price for finished sapphire material was scheduled to decrease under the agreements with Apple.

- To date, GTAT has incurred approximately $900 million in costs in connection with the Apple project (of which $439 million was funded by the Apple prepayment), and, if the pricing set forth in the Apple Agreements could not be renegotiated, GTAT would never realize a profit.

The report also notes that GTAT executives reached out to Apple prior to filing for bankruptcy to request pricing changes and revised terms to avoid going broke. Apple, according to the document, didn’t respond with a proposal that would meet the company’s needs: “While Apple responded with various proposals, after intense negotiations, none of Apple’s proposals solved the economic issues in an effective manner, and GTAT believed that acceptance of such proposals would have exposed GTAT to further risk.”

Following announcements from lawyers that Apple and GT Advanced would be parting ways, Apple issued a statement saying it put a lot of effort into an ambitious new sapphire manufacturing process with GTAT which is not ready for production.” It also said it would “help the GT Advanced employees who will be impacted by this find new jobs” and continue evaluating the company’s sapphire production.

The full document is embedded below:


Filed under: AAPL Company

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GT Advanced COO discusses Apple’s sapphire fallout, here are the interesting bits

Mesa-Arizona

While lawyers for bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced confirmed previously that it had reached an agreement to repay Apple approximately $439 million, many details regarding what exactly went wrong in the partnership had not been disclosed publicly. Today we get what might be the clearest explanation yet of what happened between the two companies leading up to GTAT filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month.  In a declaration filed by COO of GT Advanced Daniel Squiller with the courts yesterday (via Fortune), the company outlines previously sealed info regarding its deal with Apple and terms of the deal that lead to GT’s bankruptcy filing.

When GTAT initially entered into negotiations to sell sapphire furnaces to Apple, it had no sense that, having borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the components of more than 2,036 sapphire furnaces, it would end up being unable to meet its cost and production targets for reasons that it believes were beyond its control as well as unforeseen difficulties in scaling its technology to 262kg boules to meet evolving product specifications.

While noting that the deal was “an ambitious transaction for the production of sapphire in quantities, size and quality never before achieved,” the document reveals a number of strict terms Apple imposed in the deal that the company describes as limiting its ability to achieve Apple’s requirements for sapphire production. Here’s a few of the more interesting bits:

- the production of 262kg boules of sapphire could not be accomplished within the time frames the parties had agreed, and was more expensive than anticipated. These problems and difficulties resulted in a liquidity crisis at GTAT, which led to the commencement of these chapter 11 cases

- Because GTAT’s facility in Salem Massachusetts (the “Salem Facility”) was exclusively dedicated to the sapphire growth project with Apple, GTAT was unable to use that facility for other revenue streams

-GTAT did not select the fabrication equipment. GTAT was unable to negotiate changes to the pricing regime set forth in the Apple Agreements, and, therefore, GTAT was selling sapphire material at a substantial loss. GTAT’s losses would have increased substantially in 2015 when the price for finished sapphire material was scheduled to decrease under the agreements with Apple.

- To date, GTAT has incurred approximately $900 million in costs in connection with the Apple project (of which $439 million was funded by the Apple prepayment), and, if the pricing set forth in the Apple Agreements could not be renegotiated, GTAT would never realize a profit.

The report also notes that GTAT executives reached out to Apple prior to filing for bankruptcy to request pricing changes and revised terms to avoid going broke. Apple, according to the document, didn’t respond with a proposal that would meet the company’s needs: “While Apple responded with various proposals, after intense negotiations, none of Apple’s proposals solved the economic issues in an effective manner, and GTAT believed that acceptance of such proposals would have exposed GTAT to further risk.”

Following announcements from lawyers that Apple and GT Advanced would be parting ways, Apple issued a statement saying it put a lot of effort into an ambitious new sapphire manufacturing process with GTAT which is not ready for production.” It also said it would “help the GT Advanced employees who will be impacted by this find new jobs” and continue evaluating the company’s sapphire production.

The full document is embedded below:


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, Arizona, bankruptcy, COO, GT Advanced, GTAT, mesa, Sapphire

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Apple making iOS 8 Notification Center a bit less useful by banning calculator widgets

Pcalc-today-widgetDeveloper James Thomson of popular calculator app PCalc announced today via his Twitter account that Apple is forcing him to remove the app’s Today Widget due to a restriction that iOS widgets “cannot perform any calculations.”

Apple’s new Today Widgets feature in iOS 8, which allows developers to build functions into the system-wide Notification Center, does have some limitations that Apple outlines in developer documentation. For example, Apple encourages developers not to use Today Widgets for multistep tasks: If you want to create an app extension that enables a multistep task or helps users perform a lengthy task, such as uploading or downloading content, the Today extension point is not the right choice.” There doesn’t, however, appear to be specific references to apps that perform calculations in Apple’s developer guidelines.

It isn’t the first time Apple has asked developers to remove widget functionality that interferes with its vision of the Notification Center feature.

The PCalc app remains on the App Store, but its developer said today that Apple has asked that the current PCalc widget be removed.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: App Store, iOS 8, Notification Center, PCalc, Today widget, widget

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