Monday, May 31, 2010

2 million iPads for 60 days, 10 million in 2010

Apple just announced they sold 2 million iPad in less than 60 days.

I remember back when the device was announced and everybody was trying to figure out how many it will sell in 2010. Figures started from as little as 1 million to the then bullish 5 million devices. I remember thinking, why can't they just sell 10 million.

It's been the second month in a row Apple sells a million units. Actually Apple has managed to sell virtually everything that is produced, the demand is that high and shows no sign of stopping. A lot of people underestimated the device before its launch and a lot of people had their opinion changed from "I am not sure how this will fit into my lifestyle" to "I now can't imagine going on without it". This turnaround in opinion took a few years with the iPhone. Apple had to add a lot of features and software capabilities to match the needs of the fast majority of people and turn the critics around. With the iPad, the turnaround just happened in a matter of weeks. That turnaround has suddenly added a lot of potential early buyer. It's a tidal wave and there is just nothing else even close on the market.

Back to sales. If Apple does nothing but just keep production at the current level and sells 1 million units each month, that will ad up to a total of 9 million units this year. This now seams like a very conservative scenario, because several more factors could push sales even higher:
  • Apple is rumored to be increasing production to 2.5 million units a month starting in June.
  • Several more rollouts into other countries are scheduled till the end of this year.
  • The earliest quasi competitors would not show up for another 3-4 months, and Android based, more closer competitors till at least the end of this year if not early 2011.
  • Sales so far have happened in the historically 2nd lowest sales quarter - Q2. Thing will significantly pick up after september.
  • As sales of the iPads began to reach ears of the big company CIO, web content providers will move even faster towards HTML 5, erasing the FLASH argument against the iPad
  • The Fall iPhone OS 4.0 software update will be a major sales boots as it significantly increases the capabilities of the device.
  • Developers are still surprising with awesome new iPad apps that turn heads. Just today Pulse showed up. The iPad catalogue stands at 5000 today will likely pick up significantly after WWDC..
  • A whole new class of OS 4.0 Application will start to roll out later this year.
These factors will only push iPad sales beyond the current 1 million a month making the 10+ million iPads in 2010 a prediction I will get comfortably behind.

Actually the 10 Million is my low end estimate with the high end being Apple selling almost everything it can produce till the end of the year, which means around 15 million iPads.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Has Android really outpaced the iPhone with v2.2 Froyo

After the Google I/O conference, fans of the Android operating system, fresh from entusiasm of the tech demos shown in the Froyo keynote and general announcements made throughout have claimed that Google had surpassed Apple in terms of inovation in the mobile space. Add that to some reports that Android is outselling the iPhone in the US and you have the tech bloggers making some very biased conclusions.

I am far from being e tech expert myself, but I think a bit or some realism can paint quite a different picture. Let look into some of the more popular assumptions made by people when reading those stories

1. Google is developing the Android platform faster than Apple is own iPhone OS and is now ahead in features.
  • Its interesting but it turns out that development of both Android and iPhone OS started around the same time around 2005. I do believe that the numbering scheme that Google has choses for the Android platform does reflect the progress made in the operating system. Consequently a software platform at version 2.2 cannot be more feature rich as very comparable platform at version 3.1 For indirect proof look at the Chrome desktop browser being at version 5 now, ahead of Safari which is still at version 4. Clearly Google considers the desktop browser the most important software it works on.
  • the features which people find the Android platform to be superior, namely Gmail, Voice search and Turn by Turn navigation are part of the Google core competency and a differentiator, just like Apple has build its iTunes/iPod business
  • the more important general features which Froyo 2.2 added, such as Exchange and application data backup, have been with the iPhone OS since its own version 2.2 back in September 2008.
  • The really interesting features demonstrated at the Froyo keynote, such a push application purchasing and other types of over the air delivered features and content are not part of Froyo, but sneak peaks into some future release. Stiff, Google is a cloud company an its is to be expected that it will get ahead in the cloud services game, where Apple clearly does noBulleted Listt make a lot of effort at.
  • One of the reasons Google went behind Adobe as a application development platformis that is own Android SDK obviously sucked and Apple left it in the dust. Google hoped to use the iPhone platform as an incentive for developers to create app that could easily then be easily converted to Android using Adobe tools and quickly close the gap in number of apps the iPhone enjoys. Clearly a tactic not worthy of a allegedly superior platform.
2. Android is now faster than the iPhone OS and its mobile phones have surpassed the iPhone in terms of hardware.
  • The iPhone 3GS was introduced in min 2009 with worldwide availability. While some resent new offerings carry bigger displays and newer generation components, none of them has reached significant availability. An not all of them are superior the iPhone in terms of end user performance. I am not talking about feature specs, but actually battery/software performance, display quality in all lighting conditions, hardware reliability and so on. Only one device with the Android operating system can be compared with the iPhone in terms of overal market impart and that is the Motorola Droid. I will go on the record by said that its success in the US in particular has to do with nothing else that the name DROID. George Luscas has spend 3 decades encoding that word into the American popular culture trough the Start Wars francise, and Motorola just rode the wave.
  • All these new generation of Android phones: The Nexus One, the Droid Incredible, the EVO 4G and so on are 2010 devices. Just because, Apple is the only company that does not announce its new hardware just prior to actually being able to ship it, does not mean that comparisons with the iPhone 3GS, 2 weeks prior the the iPhone A4 are still valid. In recent performance tests with the Nexus One running the latest Android 2.2, the iPhone seams to have lost the edge in speed it held for 10+ months now. But not by a significant margina and that is to be expected. What people miss to notice however is that the speed diference between the iPhone 3GS and the Nexus One running Froyo is much less than the hardware spec advantage the Google phone seams to have. The 2009 iPhone had a 50% clock speed increase / 2X RAM increase over the 2008 iPhone resulting in system wide 2X performance increase. 2010 The Nexus One has 70% clock speed increase / 2X RAM increase over the 2009 iPhone, yet it seams to enjoy a small system wide performance advantage over the 3GS only when it does now make significant used of its other alleged advantage: background processing. What would the results be when Apple matches or exceed any current or projected Android hardware with the iPhone 4A? Should'n we wait a few more weeks and make a 2010 Android device vs 2010 Apple device comparison instead, before making claims Andorid is faster.'
3. Android is outselling the iPhone in the US.
  • It's funny how people ignore things like cheap Android phones with 1.6 or even 1.5 still being sold in buy one, get one free fashion. Everybody can sell hardware at a loss, by tying people to two year old contracts. Everybody that does not value its customers beyond the point of sale. Not Apple
  • Why not compare iPhone Sales in AT&T with comparably priced Android phones sold just by Verizon. That's a fair comparison in my opinion as it matches the the overal price and service and leaves the actual experience and value of the device to shine out. People like bashing how Nexus One seams to edge the iPhone 3GS in some ways but never mentions its actual sales. The wide public seams to associate the Android with these top/flagship devices even though they are not the bread and butter of the sales. The exception being the Motorola droid, which has sales figures compared to the original iPhone prior to its price drop.
  • Android sales will quickly level out when the introduction across all 4 major US carriers is complete in less time than the first adopters had a chance to go trough their 2 year contacts. At that time people would know whether they want to have the same experience again or switch to the iPhone. The thing about the iPhone is that very few people ever switch away from it, some of those come back eventually and some do it for no other reason than the service provider AT&T
  • Why are not people counting the iPod Touch as sales? Oh, because it's not a phone. In many ways the iPod Touch is more of a smartphone than many so called smartphones sold today. Apple will eventually add a phone feature to most of its iPods. You should not discredit sales of a particular product based on definitions that constantly change but rather on the impact that it has. One can argue can a person with a dumb phone and an iPod Touch has in effect a smartphone. One can also argue that people owning iPod Touches are not likely to also carry a touch screen smartphone. So again, why not count those as sales too if they can be a substitute for a canonical smartphone. Everything will make since if only people compare sales by operating system, not by specific hardware features. After all a person with an iPod Touch running OS 4 and a MiFi in his pocket can have a better Skype phone functionality than most smartphones today.
So has the Android latest update and the new handsets available from its hardware partners really outpased the iPhone? No. Neither are features, speed, sales or potential.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Apple sells 1 million iPads in 28 days

Apple just announced that is had sold 1 million iPads during the first day of the device. Is this a lot? Is this enough to justify the new products category Apple claims to have created?

To put this into perspective have to take a similar look few other devices that seam to establish a new category.

While there were smart phones before the iPhone, it changed the landscape forever and it was the first such product from Apple. The original iPhone was also sold only in the US initially and it took 2.5 months for it to reach the 1 million mark. Obviously some may consider this a slow start but it is definitely a humble beginnings given consecutive launches of the device with the 3G and 3Gs models making 1 million during the first weekend of sales. Almost 3 years later, Apple sells close to 3 million iPhone per month.

It is quite obvious that the all things "i" maker does not plan on taking it slow this time.

The other important device the iPad is compared to and dismissed by Apple as a good product is the netbook. Many Apple haters will be quick to point out that netbooks sell in the tents of millions per year now. How is Apple in any way affecting that? These pundits forget how netbooks started. The first model of PC considered to be a netbook was the Asus Eee PC introduced at the end of October 2007. During the rest of the years it sold just 300,000 units. That is 150,000 per holiday season month.

Granted Asus did does not have the marketing buz of Apple, nor was the economy in recession at that time to influence consumers into buying budget devices. Nevertheless, the iPad has considerably higher price and it started selling during the non spectacular month of March with only US availability. It it widely believed that sales will pick up considerably when:
  • production meets demand. Right now, its way bellow:
  • the iPad 3G is introduced
  • international availability is a fact next month
  • Apple negotiates breakthrough 3G deals with international carriers
  • enough iPad specific apps populate the App Store
  • iPhone OS 4 is available for iPad in the Fall
Clearly Apple has a lot things it can do to increase sales without even touching the price of the product and the iPad is off to a much better start than the nebooks it will eventually kill.

By the way you only need to follow the news to see that already netbooks sales are slowing down considerably. It's is no surprise to me. The iPad is clearly a more capable device.

Oh look, AAPL is up 5% so far today on the news. Another 10% increase and it will pass MSFT (Microsoft) in market cap as the biggest technology company on the planet.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nokia borrows some Apple Marketing tricks

I wish Nokia had more fortunate unveiling of its N8 flagship but it was not the first to do so. The guys that got a hold of its phone in Russia spoiled the whole thing. No remote wipe as was the case with Apples iPhone prototype "uncovered" by Gizmodo.

Anyway, a couple of day later Nokia decided to unveil its new flagship phone to the world even though it will not ship out for 2-3 months.

I was surprised I like it. Well at least the hardware looked nice. A lot of attention to detail. The colors looked great and there was something about the presentation of all that gave me a familiar feeling. When I read that its made of single piece aluminum block or that its colors were anodized aluminum it hit me. This is nothing short of Nokia trying to imitate the best Apple had done. It's not the first time.

I starte looking in the N8 and Apple site back and forth and I started to notice some very apparent similarities:

While the iPod Nano is a completely different product, the style of the presentation is so similar that one may confuse these two products of belonging to the same company.

App Store madness. Everybody is envious of Apple's success with the App store and with when you have tried and failed at this so many times, it best to just copy the competition. However, it is no secret that Apple was teaching its customers to buy from iTunes for 8 years now. You cannot copy customer behavior. Also you are asking developers to do stuff for a non existing platform. How many Nokia N8s are there? Apple will likely ship its 100,000,000 iPhone OS device by the time Nokia ships 1 N8

I just don't think Nokia showed its awesome video capture in this style before. An interesting note. N8 takes 720p at 25fps while the iPhone 3GS does 480p at 30fps. They should have copied that too, because while 720p looks nice, it even more important to capture every moment at 30 fps.

I can honestly say that when I saw this, I though I was looking at a really bad Chinese iPhone clone. This show how little innovation Nokia can bring on the software side. At best they can somewhat copy Apple, which is never a bad thing.

I admit, I do not visit Nokia products site a lot but the N8 specification sheet looks a lot like the one one Apple's iPhone site. At least as far as presentation though. They did try to list a lot more useless stuff, making it look the Nokia can do more. I only hope Apple does not start listing what its hundreds of thousands of apps can do, just to mock Nokia. I mean, have you even seen the kind of video recording apps are out there for the iPhone?

A few more thoughts on the design. Have you ever seen a Nokia phone with rounds edges like that? And what about the metallic screen bezel? It's funny cause the N8 looks a lot more Appleish, while the iPhone prototype shown by Gizmodo looked totally industrial and one could almost say these two companies switched their design departments for their next gen products.

Had Nokia released the N8 last year with these features and price, it would have had a really hit the nail. This years iPhone however is going to be nothing like the N8 and is totally going to kick ass.

iPad is expanding its capability lead

I just thought about the the above chart I did as part of my previous article on the matter...and I changed the Tablet rating for "2 Hand stationary use" to Good. Given all the great software that's on the iPad and the apparent ease of typing, not to mention the great cases that come for it.

I don't know how much more obvious it can get about the market for tablets and specifically the iPad which is the only one of its kind now.

This device has so many potential real life uses.

I hope Jobs and Apple are prepared to meet the adoption wave that is unfolding. First reports are that they are: quote Tim Cook "Shocked" already.

4th Gen iPhone 4A to borrow iPad pricing model

If you read any news from the technology world you know there is a war going on. On one side is Apple and on the other is virtually everyone else with the exception of Microsoft who do not have any pieces on the board yet. I also have to mention RIM, who barely support the web browsing at all (4% of the trafic in US), let alone Flash, but RIM sells 1/4 of the smarthphones on the planet. OK, so not everyone.

I am talking about whether Flash will sidelined into a niche web technology or whether it will continue to widely used on websited and one day adopted by the iPhone OS produces from Apple. Ops, Steve spoiled the answer to the second part already. Besides who on the iPhone cares about Flash? We all use the Web trough iPhone Apps and to a lesser extend webapps.

This summer when Adobe allegedly finally releases Flash 10.1, everyone with Smartphone OS will be tooting Flash support in order to stand against the market dominance of Apple.

What can Apple do to counter this pro Flash marketing push comming this summer. If the Droid Ads from last Fall are any indication, Apple better be prepared. I think they are doing all the right things:
  • releasing a magical device at a breakthrough price, aka the iPad
  • working on the 4th biggest and best update to its iPhone OS
  • working on a awesome new iPhone hardware as spoiled by Gizmodo
There is one last thing Apple need to do when it introduce the new iPhone with the new iOS 4:

Borrow the iPad 3G pricing and carrier service subscription model.

OK, here are the factors that will influence next iPhone pricing favorably:
  • Apple uses superior manufacturing process, let expensive raw materials and more components produced by the company to keep the hardware price the same while dramatically increasing capability.
  • By adopting the iPad 3G on device contract management, Apple can reduce the price of servicing the device.
  • First software update is free while consequent ones are paid by the customer. Previously Apple needed to factor in the price of 2 year free updates in to the price of the phone.
  • The iPhone brand is well established and Apple has working relationships with many carriers in the word. Introducing a new device will not be as costly.
  • The iPhone is starting to have some serious competition and Apple needs to lower its profits to the level of the other products that it offers. Just like it did with the iPad.
Overall, while the Nokia surprised many by releasing the price if its new flagship N8 as $430, Apple may just as well offer a much superior device at the same price point with no contract. If carriers were to subsidize that using todays formulas, we could see the new iPhone 4A being offered this summer for $29 with affordable two year contracts.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trying to fix my iPhone...dead strip still there

This was going to be a test of things to come. Can I open my iPhone to the extend needed to replace the display? Can I put it back together and still work?

I got all the tools, time and guides I needed. By the way, I used this iFixit guide

That part was easy.

Nothing special here either.

Remobing the battery was a very long process. It was glued so strongly that I got it to bend quite a bit more before I broke free. The metal spudger was essential here.

I was hoping that the display conector was not making a good contact or something but the problem appeared to be buried deep inside the display assembly. I had to buy a new one. They are $100 bucks on ebay.

I assembled the phone and the problem was still there. Here is what does not work:

- second button from the bottom on a popup menus.

- a couple of letters in the landscape keyboard.

Had the dead stribe been a little bit more up or down, it was likely that the portrait keyboard would have been completely unusable. Thank jobs it still is.