2
Feb

Consumers pass on smaller tablets to take advantage of offers for smartphones with bigger screens

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthOn Monday, February 2, 2015, Tiernan Ray of Barrons reported on a research note published by Canalys. Ray’s article is titled Tablets Fall 12% in Q4, First-Ever Decline, Says Canalys; 7-Inch Models Cannibalized. Ray mentions this note claims “that shipments of tablet computers fell in Q4 by 12%”.

Anyone with an interest in consumer preferences for small, smart devices for computing on the go will likely look at the Canalys claim, especially if other published research affirms the numbers, as an indication of how Apple’s product marketing has successfully convinced buyers in mature markets, and even China, to value the iPhone as a status symbol. When this product magnetism is combined with carrier incentives, consumers apparently passed up opportunities to buy tablets to obtain an iPhone 6 or 6S.

Apple does not appear to be suffering much pain from these changing consumer tastes. According to Apple’s most recent quarterly earnings report, the surge in iPhone buying more than offset the 18% drop in tablet sales Canalys notes. But will the same scenario play out next year, when Apple debut a new iPhone? Would it not make sense for analysts to discount future earnings estimates based on an understanding of just how consumers of luxury electronics might behave, over time?

Unfortunately there is not any mention of this type of skepticism in Ray’s article. When buyer sentiment can turn quickly negative when products “[fail] to wow” it is reasonable to call a market top, of sorts, for this category of products. Regardless of the size of Apple’s operations, and its deep pockets, it is not likely we will continue to see widely popular new product releases time after time after time when the only real incentive for buyers is to announce to their peers they can still afford to buy the newest pricey gadget.

The Canalys report also mentions a serious drop in sales for Samsung tablets. In my opinion there are legitimate reasons for this, not the least of which is a combination of Google’s decision to no longer support “early” versions of Android, and Samsung’s own poorly timed introduction of new tablets, too often to the detriment of customers unfortunate enough to buy a product about to be obsoleted. But I argue the luxury market condition also weigh heavily on Samsung’s results. By crafting product promotion around a “competition to be the best” assumption, Samsung rendered its own small form hardware devices fair game for buyers to cannibalize in their frenzy to consume an iPhone 6 or 6S.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

16
Jan

Is the response to Intel’s Q4 2014 Results overdone?

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthOn Thursday, January 15, 2015 Intel reported the results of its Q4 2014 business activity. In the aftermath of the report, which included conservative guidance for the coming business quarter below analyst estimates, analysts expressed skepticism.

I should also note the conference included details about the extent of the costs Intel continues to incur to enter the market for CPUs for mobile devices. Finally, rumors circulated about the possibility of Apple changing CPU architecture for its Mac PCs and laptops.

But is the analyst negativity overdone? In my opinion it is. Market entry is never an easy process, especially when the business attempting to enter a market is the largest manufacturer of PC computer CPUs, and the target market is already mature and dominated by other vendors with well received products (the ARM chip architecture and its licensees, including Qualcomm). So there is a cost associated with this entry, which, admittedly, Intel has been paying out for several quarters.

However, the Q4 2014 results included a beat on the profit number and an increase in gross margin. These numbers, of course, include the losses just mentioned. If Intel is not only able to carry the cost of mobile market entry, but to, at the same time, increase its overall profitability and still hit estimated sales targets, then why all the gloom? Perhaps the answer is Q4 2014 is behind us and we are already nearly a third of the way through the next coming quarter.

I am not interested in debating this argument. Nor am I interested in analyzing the Apple rumors. What I am interested in doing is merely pointing to a very positive reception for one of the new Android tablets on the market powered by Intel’s Atom processor and the new Broadwell chip set. The tablet is manufactured by Dell, the Venue 8 7000. No less a fierce Intel naysayer than Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal wrote a very positive review of the device, in sharp contrast to reviews she published earlier about Microsoft’s Surface tablets.

The value of positive consumer press about these devices should not be underestimated. Stern’s review may mark a change in sentiment for precisely the right group of critics to influence affluent consumers to think hard about just which tablet they ought to buy next.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

8
Jan

Why update problems for Android devices can severely hamper enterprise adoption of this mobile device operating system

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThrough a combination of direct experience, and a review of an editorial published just about a year ago on the Android Central website, I have concluded there is no clear method of uniformly updating mobile devices powered by the same Android operating system, but manufactured by different Android partners. I am not sure as to why this problem arose, but I am clear about its impact on the likelihood of the average enterprise IT organization standardizing on Android as an approved mobile computing platform. It is not likely to happen.

The title of the editorial on the Android Central website is Solving the impossible problem of Android updates. The writer is Alex Dobie.

It is not possible for enterprise IT organizations to standardize on devices running an operating system which can be implemented on highly dissimilar hardware. What if the next update to an Android “flavor”, say Jelly Bean, includes not only new features, but substantially better security? Manufacturer A has implemented the first update (Android Jelly Bean 4.2), but can’t release the latest update (Android Jelly Bean 4.3). Worse yet, Manufacturer B has yet to implement even the first update. What enterprise IT organization would want to deal with a user community outfitted with a lot of devices from Manufacturer A, B and more?

Yet the average BYOD policy statement empowers users to bring Android, iOS, and Windows personal computing devices into the enterprise. So it should not be difficult for readers to understand why enterprise IT organizations are struggling to ensure high quality user computing experience, while, at the same time, defending the enterprise from hackers, malware, data leaks, etc.

The direct experience component of my conclusion arose as the result of my interest in participating in Microsoft’s Office Preview for Android. This preview includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. At first glance it looked as if my Samsung Galaxy Note 2.1 10.1 would work with the preview app. The display size of the tablet is 10.1 inches, and the Android version is 4.1, Jelly Bean. But the preview app would not work on my device, perhaps since the latest Android Jelly Bean release is 4.3.

When I posted my experience to the Google Plus community Microsoft has set up for people participating in the preview to exchange information, I was surprised to learn I am not alone. Samsung is not the only Android OEM stuck on an older version of this Android Operating System.

Regardless of just who is responsible for the problem, perhaps management at Google for Work can fix it. If not, it might be better for them to restrict their offers to Google’s cloud SaaS and IaaS products and forget about getting much traction with Android at all.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

25
Nov

Android’s penetration of enterprise computing markets is constrained by a combination of limited upgrade options and too many distributions

It’s very late in 2014, but a lot of enterprise computing consumers still depend on a central support function. An enormous volume of content has been written on the topic of the consumerization of business computing, and how the role of technology leader has changed hands from the typical enterprise IT organizations, to power users playing any kind of role within the organization.

But when something breaks, whether the wreckage occurs at the Line of Business (LoB) level, or within enterprise IT, itself, it still has to be fixed. Fixing broken iOS devices, or Windows devices remains a preferred route. There are simply too many distributions of the Android operating systems, and too much difficulty bringing the ones in use within an organization up to the same level of functionality to make sense for most of the enterprise computing world.

So, with this notion of how hardware device standards, to some extent, still operate in the world of business computing, Samsung’s recent decision to partner with BlackBerry “to Provide End-To-End Security for Android” makes sense.

The BlackBerry Samsung partnership, should appear curious to anyone who reviewed the webcasts recorded at Google I/O 2014. After all, Google announced its plan to “[integrate] part of Knox right into Android” (quoted from Samsung and Google team up to integrate KNOX into Android’s next major release, which was written by Abhijeet M, and published in June, 2014 on the SAMMOBILE web site)at its Google I/O 2014 event. So why would Samsung partner with BlackBerry on no less a mission than to provide the above-stated “end-to-end security for Android”?

A simple answer, in this writer’s opinion, would be to surmise Samsung has come to the realization enterprise IT organizations in the private and public sectors are still, for some reason, shrugging off Knox and passing on Android altogether. Bringing in BlackBerry, therefore makes sense. BlackBerry’s successful effort to convince the U.S. Federal Government, and some of its international peers to continue to use BlackBerry mobile computing devices as the most secure of any of their options. Perhaps some of this win can be attributed to the fact BlackBerry is built on proprietary IP, which, for better or worse, can be easily upgraded and is completely uniform in its presentation.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved