Category Archives: smartphone

Single headlines don’t give you the whole story

Like nearly everyone else I read the newspapers, usually on line, I also read emails and articles that are of interest to us at cmx business computing.

The trend I have noticed is that articles are being written on the basis of quick one headline, one story articles  but if you put them all together you get a different picture which explains a lot more about whats going on.

Towards the end of last year I read the following headlines:

“IDC says PC sales fall 14.8% this year

“Is the PC an Endangered Species?”

“Desktops are dead in business and dying in the home”

“Microsoft’s Ballmer: ‘Nobody Ever Buys Windows. They Buy Windows PCs.”

“Die-hard XP admins just won’t let go, reveals survey”

“The PC’s not dead. It’s just gone high end

“Analysis Cheap and nasty PCs are dying out”

“AMD will focus less on desktop CPUs”

If you read the headlines above you will come to a few conclusions; XP users are staying with the old, The Tablet is killing the PC, Only expensive PC’s are selling, AMD see the future in Tablets and smartphones.

This is not what is really happening, they are not unconnected, lets look at the headlines in groups.

PC Sales are down, cheap PC’s are not selling, AMD is looking to grow elsewhere, XP users are staying put, people buy Windows PC’s..

However the truth is rather more complicated. There are less PC’s being sold for a few reasons, The first is XP. There are so many XP PC’s in use that the cost to business of replacing them all during a shortage of money and only tempered optimism is unreasonable, it is also generally viewed that the XP platform still has plenty of life in it and that the replacements are no better, probably worse. Couple this with the fact that no-one takes security seriously. This will all reduce overall PC sales.

The second reason takes some leaping in the thought process. Cheap PC’s are predominately bought for home use where they are used for games and browsing, not serious number crunching stuff. This is the area where the Tablet has made inroads. The old adage read “why have an expensive PC when a cheap one will do”, it now reads “Why have a PC when a tablet will do” and as tablets approach the same price as a round of drinks its an argument that makes sense.

Couple this with AMD who continually fights against Intel on price and you have the reason for their lack of popularity and the need to look elsewhere for business, hence the new AMD focus.

The last bit about Windows? thats simple. If you are buying a desktop computer your first question is do I buy Apple or Windows? Thats usually a choice swayed by software availability and performance not by operating system. This is a problem where you think a software package is up against a platform whereas in reality it’s just about software. The problem about software is do you want apps and compatibles or original and powerful..

What the story should have said is;

AMD and cheaper PC’s hit by low cost tablet uptake.
by Glyn Cheeseman 30 Dec 13

The low cost tablet has been making considerable inroads into the cheap end of the PC market where users want simple applications and mainly buy them for Internet browsing. This together with users retention of XP systems has caused an overall drop in sales of PC’s by about 14%. 

AMD who were the main supplier of cheap computers to this marketplace have been the main losers and have decided that they should go where the business is and focus on the smaller cheaper hand held devices together with the limited video card market.

AMD will suffer further making Intel totally dominant in the PC arena and they may find fierce competition from ARM and Snapdragon who are well established in the smartphone arena. AMD’s may fare better with video cards where their ATI arm are up against NVidea, but the smart money isn’t on ATI.

Lower costs tablets will see this part of the market shrink further as there is a race to the bottom for the price of hand-held tablets which are currently available new for £29. Effectively the PC market place has split into serious users and Internet browsers. 

If you strip out lower cost machines then the market for Windows based middle to high upmarket systems has remained quite buoyant in 2013. Add to that the XP users are going to be forced to upgrade their slowing ageing machines, some of which may be up to 12 years old, which will act as an extra boost to the market in 2014. XP users will loose all updates from Microsoft as the product has reached end of life. This does not mean that systems will stop working but they may be more vulnerable to attack from the Internet. Only time will tell if they are leaving it too late, if there more attacks like Cryptlocker then look for the sudden rush in March 2014.

So In conclusions mid to top end PC sales will remain bouyant in a replacement market, Tablets will be everywhere, taking over at the bottom end due to low prices but they may see Smartphones as the main threat as we we see more Phablets, the phone and tablet combined. One thing is for sure, it’s not going to be a pretty year for cheap computers and AMD. Not when you can buy a tablet for the same price as a round down the pub against a £299 AMD computer in Tesco’s.

Smart-phone & Tablet printing – why not?

Internet browsing is the most widely used application on tablets, and to a lesser extent on smart-phones, No one seems to want to print what they see. I have had a smart-phone for years. I am sorry to say I am also a tablet owner of a few weeks, I am trying unsuccessfully to wean myself off a net-book.

Only now do I want to print, The reason is quite simple, I just used to look up simple things like who stars in the film I am watching, news etc. Nothing you want to have a permanent copy of print but now I have the Tablet I use it to look up things for which I would have used the net-book or desktop.

The idea of printing had never crossed my mind before, because I had the facility with the net-book, I just accepted that tablets and smart-phones don’t print.

I was installing a new system at a client and I was asked if his iPad could print, after playing I admitted defeat and suggested either an app or a chat with the local Apple store. The simple answer from Apple is they only print with Apple printers, Quelle Suprise! (I think they are wrong, there must be an app).

Having time over Christmas and my techie son was home from University I returned to the problem and asked him, Simple he said, showing me his Windows phone but only directly to a wireless printer.

Consulting that font of knowledge – Bing (Google is so “last decade” and due to it’s large size it’s fast becoming a target of criticism like IBM and Microsoft). I discovered several apps that could do this with ease.

My chosen app was PrintHand. For two reasons, It prints with every printer I could throw at it and it prints with any connection. The other thing I like is that you can install the free version to see if it works for you, it wont print out anything but a test page but it does prove a point and once purchased you can use it on all your Android devices. It’s also availble on iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

Like all Android devices it’s easy to buy and install but setting up? They have tried to make it as easy as possible. My first test was on our work network and the connection went. Phone-accesspoint-network-Ricoh printer. The Ricoh in our offices are the sort that come with a cabinet, thats all the spec you need to know, and that it costs a four figure sum – one of our best investments.

It found the printer but couldn’t find any drivers, so it asked if I would like to try a common one, it worked absolutely fine.

It can also be used with Bluetooth, USB, network, shared, and wireless printers, Its definitely worth the price tag of under £9. Just search the Google Play store and search for PrintHand. The icon is a blue ended printer with a hand print on the front. 

You may have noticed I said I was sorry. I am sorry as now I own one but I still cant justify it and the more I use it the more I don’t need it, but more of that later in another blog. 

Why I don’t like tablet computers – there I’ve said it but its not completely true.

Actually it’s not that I don’t like them, I just can’t justifying using one, They do everything you want – almost, and thats the problem the almost bit.

Let me explain:

If you look at what you use any form of IT for it falls into a few categories, work, play, research and presentations. You could argue that there is just work and play but that would sound like a Mars bar advert, especially if I put “Rest” in, but to me rest is sleep, not watching a film or TV, so I will go with my four groups.

is composing letters, working on spreadsheets, examining accounts and performances, dealing with staff, customer reationship management and of course email. Only the latter really works on a tablet, but then a smartphone is good too as you can write twitter-like immediate replies and leave the deep thought replies for the office, So I am afraid that my smartphone and Desk PC win that round.

But before we leave work lets see what a tablet does that a phone and desktop can’t do. If I was an insurance salesman, Estate agent or similar I can show you things on it. If you are medical or an engineer you can take it with you for viewing things and making comments. In meetings it’s good but as a  consultant I need to keep eye contact, look at the client and make notes. For them it’s a tablet, for me pen and paper.

lets get this knocked on the head quickly, I  don’t care how angry the birds are, I don’t play games, I watch TV and films on a wide screen with cinema surround sound, I don’t need a navigational system for boats, If I YouTube, Facebook then I need a keyboard or I use my phone. If I need to research on Google or Wikipedia then I need a keyboard, I am impatient and a non tactile tiny keyboards are not my friends.

This is for Google or finding things that pop in your mind when working. If I am watching a film then I immerse myself and don’t need to be tapping away, OK I know there is a picture of me using a laptop in the same room as the family were watching TV but I was being sociable, I was there and not enjoying the film, so I did some research to save the results on the server for later.

Yes I do them, yes I have to use PowerPoint but a). you need a mouse, keyboard and good screen to create it and b). You are stuffed when it goes wrong. My favourite pastime at 6:30 am business meetings, apart from the breakfast, is seeing people reading from a tablet and then rotating the tablet like they are trying to reach launch speed for a frisbee.   

I recently had the agony of watching someone with a tablet try to connect it to a projector and after 30 minutes delay he gave up, he then had to proceed using a 7″ screen to a room of 30 people and he did the frisbee launch speed trick too, three times. Not good.

In case this turns in to a PowerPoint blog I would like to point out that I prefer using the power of my speech, visual aids, like the items I am talking about or handouts at the poignant point. I love technology but as the MD of a leading 30year old IT company that covers two counties from two centres the last thing I need is to be let down by technology. It happened once, a presentation to the University just at the point that Microsoft thought I needed an update in a non broadband site.

My real point really is; I don’t dislike them but every time there is an offer such as a Hudl at £60 worth of Tesco vouchers and Carphone £49 while stocks last I think “now is the time”. I then do the justification exercise and think, do I really need a desktop, a laptop, a mobile phone AND a tablet? The answer is no, I can’t justify it, I wont use it and I lug enough stuff around anyway, even my own mustard but thats another story.

So the laptop lives in the house, my desktop in the office and the phone in my pocket with me at all times. My phone? its my satnav, mp3 player, I wat films on it when I am stuck in a waiting room. Its battery lasts two days, its a Samsung S3, why the hell would I want another gadget which isn’t a replacement for the others, besides raising a large package to my ear to take calls woulds be silly.

Sorry I have no need for a tablet and I am reminded of a clients response when I told her we had bought a pasta maker “Oh everyone bought one years ago, took a while to work out it wasn’t much good, they are all gathering dust in a cupboard now”, she was right too but I didn’t think so at the time. Anticipation is always better than acquisition.