WSJ: Microsoft to respond to Apple, Google with smartwatch, smartphone, mini Surface

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 15, 2013

As Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn recently began hiring workers for assembly of a next-gen iPhone and possibly a rumored budget iPhone, our friends over at Redmond are thought to be busy developing own branded smartwatch, smartphone and seven-inch Surface tablet. Both gadgets are viewed as direct responses to Apple’s rumored iWatch project, its wildly successful smartphone and the iPad mini tablet, respectively.

The smartwatch project is purportedly beyond the prototyping phase as Microsoft is said to have started aligning parts suppliers in Asia earlier this year, allegedly sourcing 1.5-inch screens. However, folks who apparently saw the prototypes warn it’s “unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch” at this stage… Read More

 

Is Apple losing its coolness edge to Microsoft and Android?

By Ed Sutherland on Feb 21, 2013

In the contest for coolness, the amorphous concept potentially driving young consumers to smartphones, tablets and other devices, Apple has some competition. While the iPhone maker is seen as cooler now than previously by 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, even more people point to Android as the king of cool.

Even more surprising is Microsoft apparently isn’t your father’s software giant. The Windows maker – long viewed as buttoned-down and behind the technology curve – has revamped its image, thanks largely to the firm’s smartphone and Surface tablet… Read More

 

Microsoft CEO goes on defensive, says the Surface is ‘a real business’

By Ed Sutherland on Feb 20, 2013

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently addressed the companies Surface and the tablet’s sales (or lack thereof).

We’re going to try our best not to characterize his comments as whiny or envision the firm’s leader stomping his foot in the face of gloomy analysis. But it’s hard – real hard.

Speaking with MIT Technology Review, while admitting the Microsoft product was not an iPad-killer, Ballmer stressed the Surface isn’t a post-PC fantasy, either… Read More

 

Surface Pro teardown: Apple’s iPad wins the repair race

By Ed Sutherland on Feb 13, 2013

Microsoft’s one-week old Surface Pro tablet already has some dings in its reputation. The device is more difficult to repair than Apple’s iPad, according to a teardown by iFixit. The Surface Pro makes extensive use of glue to secure everything, including the battery and display, giving Microsoft’s latest tablet a score of just one out of ten for repairability. And repairs could become common, given simply using the Surface Pro could be harmful to the hardware… Read More

 

First reviews of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet hit the web

By Cody Lee on Feb 6, 2013

After years of sitting on the sidelines, Microsoft entered the modern tablet space late last year with the Surface RT. And although it sparked a lot of initial interest, it failed to translate that into sales, with reports claiming it didn’t fair very well over the holidays.

But alas, the Redmond company has a second shot at greatness with its new Surface Pro tablet. And it too has stirred up quite a bit of commotion, with some pundits deeming it a possible iPad/Macbook Air killer. But will this MS slate actually live up to the hype this time?

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iPad sales up 8M units in Q4, market share down 8 percent

By Ed Sutherland on Jan 31, 2013

New research shows number one tablet maker Apple shipped more iPads while also losing market share during the 2012 holiday fourth quarter. The company shipped nearly 23 million tablets during the period, a dramatic increase from the same time in 2011, when 15.1 million Apple tablets shipped.

At the same time, Apple’s overall share of the tablet market fell for the second quarter in a row, slipping to 43.6 percent from 46.4 percent during the third quarter of last year – and down from 51.7 percent a year ago, according to IDC.

Apple ended the year with 48.1 percent year-over-year growth while number two tablet rival Samsung saw its growth more than double. A combination of Android and Windows-based tablet sales helped push the South Korean firm’s share of the tablet market to 15.1 percent, up from 7.3 percent in 2011… Read More

 

Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 hits Mac and Windows without iOS/Android support

By Ed Sutherland on Jan 29, 2013

Microsoft is at last getting into game, offering its well-known Office suite of products for consumers increasingly turning to the cloud. Office 365 Home Premium provides all the familiar Office applications – including Word, Excel and PowerPoint – along with online storage and a free hour of Skype each month. At $99 per year ($80 for students and educators) the cloud-based application suite will work on up to 5 Macs, PCs and Windows tablets. Five years after Google launched rival Google Docs (now Google Drive), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proclaims Office 365 a key component in a “fundamental shift” for the company.

After making billions as a software company, Ballmer is rebranding Microsoft as a devices and services firm, a move some may view as too little and too late for Redmond… Read More

 

Microsoft’s Surface Pro to land on February 9 with $899 price tag

By Cody Lee on Jan 22, 2013

After a bit of a delay, Microsoft today announced launch details for its new Surface Pro tablet. The device will become available for purchase on February 9, and will run $899 for the entry-level 64GB model.

The Pro’s release comes more than three months after its less-capable sibling, the Surface RT. And with reports suggesting that it didn’t do so well over the holidays, Microsoft is hoping the Pro will be a hit… Read More

 

Microsoft (barely) sells a million Surface units

By Ed Sutherland on Jan 14, 2013

If you’re Microsoft, January can’t end too soon. The company’s Surface RT is taking a battering from the iPad, selling one million of the tablets during the holidays. According to one Wall Street observer, the consumer-oriented tablet has two strikes against it: being compared to Apple’s product and too little retail exposure.

The one million figure is less than half of the two million units previously forecast by UBS analyst Brent Thill. In December, IHS iSuppli projected Microsoft would sell just 1.3 million units of the Surface RT… Read More

 

PC marketshare to drop to 65% in 2013 as tablets take over

By Ed Sutherland on Jan 12, 2013

The days when PCs ruled the computer market are quickly coming to a close. The familiar battle between PCs and Macs is quickly morphing into an iOS versus Android landscape. As consumers opt for tablets over PCs, shipments of Wintel devices will drop to 65 percent in 2013 amid double-digit tablet growth.

After PC shipments fell 10 percent during the holiday fourth quarter of 2010, the 2013 PC marketshare will drop to 65 percent, down from 72 percent last year, according to researchers at Canalys. The reason: PCs – be they desktops, notebooks, or netbooks – are no longer needed for common computing tasks, such as reading e-mail and browsing the web… Read More

 

Microsoft actually applauds Windows RT jailbreak

By Cody Lee on Jan 8, 2013

This is kind of interesting. Earlier this week, Microsoft’s new Windows RT was jailbroken for the first time. The operating system was hacked to run unsigned, arm-based desktop applications using a memory exploit.

Surprisingly, the Redmond-based software company commented on the news yesterday, saying that it actually applauded the efforts of those involved in the jailbreak, and all of the work they did to document it… Read More

 

Chitika: iPad rules ‘biggest ever’ holiday

By Ed Sutherland on Dec 29, 2012

How did holiday sales of tablets shake out? Although sales numbers aren’t yet available, we can get some idea of which devices were in most demand. For instance, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy tablets and Google Nexus devices were the top three non-iPad products serving ad impressions in December, according to an ad firm.

Although the iPad (both the full-size versions and the iPad mini) accounts for 87 percent of U.S. and Canadian tablet-based ad impressions, the Kindle Fire was next best with 4.25 percent of tablet traffic. The Samsung Galaxy tablets had 2.65 percent, while the Google Nexus family of tablets garnered 1.06 percent of tablet traffic, according to ad network Chitika… Read More

 

NIBIQÜ: a Surface-like keyboard case for your iPad

By Cody Lee on Dec 20, 2012

Despite lackluster sales, Microsoft’s new Surface has been praised for its innovations. Windows 8 RT certainly doesn’t look like anything else on the market right now, and the tablet’s ultra-slim Touch Cover keyboard is an interesting concept.

In fact, a lot of folks are asking if there is something similar available for the iPad. There are, actually several keyboard covers that are compatible with Apple’s tablet, but none of them come closer to the Touch Cover than the NIBIQÜ… Read More

 

Microsoft’s post-PC trouble: capturing the profits of bygone days

By Ed Sutherland on Dec 18, 2012

Before PC demand dwindled, software giant Microsoft was happy with licensing its Windows software to computer makers. Now that we are taking the first steps into the post-PC era, the Redmond firm still wants its profit. But how do you charge a $50 per-tablet royalty fee when the device itself costs $199?

Enter the $499 Surface, says one independent analyst. While Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire both sell for $199, the Surface carries the much higher price tag because Microsoft stubbornly refuses to give up the 30 percent profit margin it’s accustomed to receiving for Windows and Office software licenses… Read More

 

Microsoft recaps its ‘milestones’ in 2012

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 17, 2012

Microsoft, once the mighty Apple archival, in ways more than one is now directly or indirectly supporting Apple’s war on Android. With that in mind, let’s check out Microsoft’s recap video highlighting its milestones in 2012, one for each month. I’d call only two Microsoft products milestones: Halo 4, which raked in $220 million in sales in the first 24 hours, and the Xbox console with Kinect, which got Windows support in February.

As much as I like Windows Phone’s originality, it’s failed to make a dent and clings to a single-digit market share. The Surface is a flop (even the CEO agrees) and major software launches like Windows 8 and server products have not met the management’s internal expectations. Besides, Apple’s iPhone biz recently became worth more than all of Microsoft. How’s that for a milestone? Read More

 

Looks like it’s gonna be a very Merry Apple Christmas indeed

By Ed Sutherland on Dec 13, 2012

Despite a blitz of advertising and promotions, consumers across the globe are choosing Apple products during the run up to Christmas. After interviewing more than seventy shoppers in ten cities, Reuters reports consumers are not swayed either by Wall Street concerns or Madison Avenue come-ons. Instead, in shopping malls in the US, Europe and Asia, the key is Apple’s simplicity.

Samsung – Apple’s chief rival – is gaining no converts in shopping malls. Only in Singapore and Bangalore, India did Reuters find consumers picking Samsung products over the iPhone or iPad. In Mexico, despite having a mall covered with ads and displays promoting the South Korean firm’s products, the iPad mini is selling like hotcakes…

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Microsoft turns to retailers to help flagging Surface sales

By Ed Sutherland on Dec 12, 2012

Microsoft’s Surface tablet just isn’t selling. But the company knows – or thinks it does – the reason. The problem with sales is that the Surface just isn’t available in enough stores, the software giant turned tablet maker says. Currently, the Surface is mainly sold in about three dozen Microsoft’s own retail outlets in the country.

After being stung by reports that its tablet wasn’t even selling in Microsoft-owned stores (are you reading this, Oprah Winfrey?), the company announced it will put the Surface on the shelves of third-party retailers, such as Staples. If ‘build it and they will come’ isn’t working, will ‘stock it and they will buy’ be any better? Read More

 

Microsoft’s Surface just a blip with 0.13 percent of tablet traffic

By Ed Sutherland on Dec 11, 2012

Apparently, more of Microsoft’s Surface tablets are showing up in commercials and television episode placements than online. Despite an aggressive push, the Windows device accounted for just 0.13 percent of advertising served to tablets during November, according to one mobile advertising network. The dismal numbers are just the latest sign the much-heralded Surface just isn’t selling.

Microsoft’s outspoken boss Steve Ballmer acknowledged as much when he recently called Surface numbers “modest”. By comparison, 0.91 percent of Google’s Nexus tablets displayed ads between November 12 and November 18. The percentages come just a day after a report that the iPad mini saw ad impressions climb 28 percent daily during the November… Read More

 

Microsoft announces pricing for Intel-powered Surface Pro

By Cody Lee on Nov 30, 2012

When Microsoft unveiled the Surface, its first in-house foray into the tablet market, back in June, it said that it would consist of two versions: a lower-end RT model built on ARM’s architecture, and a Pro model powered by Intel.

The RT version officially launched in October, in 32GB and 64GB flavors priced at $499 and $699 respectively, and has thus far seen modest sales. And last night, Microsoft finally divulged some information about the Surface Pro… Read More

 

The iPad mini is an iPad 4 cannibal, after all

By Ed Sutherland on Nov 29, 2012

The iPad mini is taking a bite out of sales of its full-sized counterpart. That’s the conclusion of one Wall Street observer, who found fewer seven-inch Apple tablets available than the larger 9.7-inch iPad. But is the finding a sign of cannibalized iPads or something else?

A poll of fifty Apple stores by Citi uncovered the mini available in eighty percent of the locations, but severely limited, except for the 32 gigabyte version. However, all stores checked had the new fourth-gen iPad in stock, just six percent reporting limited availability… Read More