Microsoft’s latest initiative brings always-on LTE notebooks with embedded SIM technology

Windows maker Microsoft's new “Always Connected PCs” initiative focuses on helping computer manufacturers bring to market LTE-enabled notebooks that incorporate eSIM technology (not to be confused with Apple SIM). The company said at the Computex 2017 show this morning in Taipei that it will partner with PC vendors, carriers and chip makers like Intel and Qualcomm on the new initiative.

Created a year ago by Apple, Samsung and other players, these SIMs are embedded directly into a device and cannot be removed. But perhaps more important than that, eSIMs are universally compatible with all carriers and as such allow customers to sign up for a wireless service right on their device.

First LTE-enabled Windows notebooks featuring eSIM technology (via Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chipset) are on the way from ASUS, HP and Lenovo, said Microsoft. These new Intel x86-based devices will feature Windows 10, always-on LTE connectivity and “great battery life”.

Huawei, VAIO and Xiaomi are committed to Always Connected PCs using eSIM technology, too.

“There is a new generation of users that need to be connected to the cloud at all times. They are students, creators, freelancers, small businesses and enterprises,” said the Redmond firm.

“This means sharing experiences across screens and leveraging the latest network technology like gigabit LTE and eSIM.”

The eSIM standard works virtually anywhere in the world, meaning customers are able to switch carrier instantly, no paperwork or a physical SIM card required whatsoever. Apple owns a patent for an LTE-enabled MacBook with wireless antennas integrated within a hinge mechanism, as depicted on the patent drawing below.

Updated Mac notebooks are expected at WWDC next week, according to Bloomberg.

Ahead of the WWDC keynote, an Apple regulatory filing in Russia has identified five unreleased Mac notebooks, plus a next-generation Magic Keyboard and new iPad Pro models.

It's unclear if these refreshed MacBooks will feature embedded LTE connectivity, but if a next-generation MacBook with an eSIM is lying around somewhere in Jony Ive's basement now would be a good time to bring it to market.

Apple hires former HP exec to boost corporate sales

Apple has hired former HP senior vice president John Solomon, according to a new report from Recode. A spokesperson for the handset-maker has confirmed the hire, but would not specify what Solomon's title or role would be with the company.

Recode's Arik Hesseldahl is hearing, though, that Solomon will be "central to Apple’s push to boost sales to big companies and government agencies with large technology budgets." He may also play a part in international sales of the Apple Watch.

How the Apple-Beats deal affects HP, AT&T and others

If you haven't been following the latest news, it is a prerequisite to know that Apple has acquired Beats for $3 billion before reading further. The announcement has created a lot of confusion in regards to what the acquisition means for Beats and existing partnerships with the brand. Just to be clear, Beats collectively refers to both Beats Electronics, which markets high-end headphones, speakers and audio software, and the streaming music service Beats Music.

Prior to being acquired, Beats had several partnerships with other brands, including companies that are direct competitors with Apple. Most notable is Hewlett-Packard, which uses Beats Audio branding and technologies in its product lineup. AT&T has an exclusive deal with Beats Music to sell subscriptions and an unlimited music downloading family plan, and design firm Ammunition has a partnership to create Beats products. Even HTC has been in the mix.

Read ahead to find out how the Apple-Beats deal affects all of these deals…

Apple tops PC customer satisfaction for tenth year

Apple once more tops PC customer satisfaction. The Mac and iPad creator practically owns the top spot, ranking No. 1 in the American Customer Satisfaction for nearly a decade. Since 2004, Apple has scored highest in pre-sale expectations, perceived quality and value, number of complaints and customer loyalty.

The firm scored 87, 1.2 percent higher than 2012 and topping the 79 rating for average PC customer satisfaction. Where were the competitors? In the basement, or lower...

Apple’s PC share drops as iPads cannibalize Macs

The PC market - once comprised of hulking desktop machines and slim laptops - increasingly relies on tablets for a fresh infusion of sales. The latest instance of this new world order comes from market researcher Canalys, out with its PC forecast which includes tablet shipments.

Viewing tablets as PCs results in Apple losing more than eleven percent in PC sales. Why? Because iPad sales are cooling amid lack of a refresh. Although just twenty percent of Apple sales are traditional PCs, the firm continues to lead the PC market. However, in a post-PC era, delays of introducing a new iPad means Apple's lead was trimmed during the second quarter of 2013, the research firm announced Wednesday...

LG buys WebOS from HP to use in future smart TVs

The 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC) officially kicked off in Barcelona this weekend, meaning you should prepare for an onslaught of device announcements and other mobile news over the next few days.

In fact, LG has kicked things off already by dropping a bombshell today. The South Korea-based electronics giant has apparently purchased WebOS from Hewlett Packard, and plans to use it in future products...

HP tries the tablet thing again: cheap iPad mini rival, Slate 7, coming in April

Remember the ill-fated Slate, a Hewlett-Packard tablet Steve Ballmer demoed at CES 2010 as a sign of things to come from the PC camp? It failed miserably, leaving HP to linger out there and admit defeat of its webOS/TouchPad strategy.

But as the world's top computer vendor has witnessed shoppers increasingly picking up iPads and Android tablets, it felt compelled to reboot its mobile strategy by announcing today at Mobile World Congress in Spain, Barcelona a brand new seven-inch tablet for entertainment and media consumption.

It's called the Slate 7, runs Android and is set to launch this April. And honoring the tradition (the $99 TouchPad fire sale), HP is pricing this thing really aggressively at just $169.99, or nearly half as much as Apple's $329 iPad mini...

NPD: Apple now one-fifth of U.S. consumer tech sales

Apple was responsible for one out over every five dollars spent on consumer electronics in the U.S. during 2012, a market research firm announced Tuesday. This while overall consumer electronics sales fell for the second year in a row.

The iPhone and iPad maker also ranked as the third largest U.S. consumer electronics retailer, just behind Best Buy and Walmart. Amazon and Staples rounded out and industry where only smartphones and tablets saw revenue gains last year...

Canalys: iPad accounted for 1 in 6 PCs in Q4 2012

Apple's iPad mini is doing the job exactly as the company planned: slowing a slipping market share. The 7.9-inch device is working so well one analyst credited it for preventing Apple's fourth-quarter share of the tablet market falling below 49 percent.

Another, even more striking tidbit: the iPad accounted for one-in-six PCs shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012, per research firm Canalys. And if you counted tablets instead of PCs, demand during the fourth quarter would be up twelve percent to 134 million units. Instead, PC shipments fell by five percent in 2012, emphasizing how tablets such as the iPad could recharge a flagging industry...

US holiday Mac sales rose as PC shipments fell

Apple Mac holiday sales in the US rose by 5.4 percent, countering the PC industry's overall 2.1 percent decline. The new numbers by research giant Gartner indicate Apple shipped 2.1 million Macs during the fourth quarter, up from two million for the same period in 2011. Meanwhile, pretty much every other vendor experienced a decline, with Dell reporting an abysmal sixteen percent decline.

Dell's US market share slid to 19.2 percent, down from 22.5 percent in 2011. All told, Apple now holds a 12.3 percent share of the US PC market, up from 11.4 percent last year, putting the company in the No. 3 spot, right behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell. PC vendors are now seeing US households letting the computers "age out" as they increasingly use tablets like the iPad for common tasks such as e-mail and web surfing...

Apple’s tablet lead over Android could be shrinking faster than earlier thought

Remember the days when analysts and Wall Street observers believed the iPad would continue to lead tablet sales for years, and Android competitors still needed work? Funny how time flies. Although Apple isn't laughing, there is talk Google could overtake Apple in 2013. The problem is the iPad's lead over a pack of Android alternatives is shrinking to that when the Apple tablet was introduced in 2010.

Also, remember all those non-Android slates from HP and RIM? Yeah, neither does anyone else. That's the other problem...