If you've ever wondered how Apple stacks up financially in relation to software giant Microsoft, perhaps your perspective should be flipped. It is Microsoft that must be viewed in relation to Apple’s success. During the last quarter Apple amassed an additional $32.7 billion in net income and cash, while Microsoft’s total revenue for the quarter stalled at $21.7 billion, up only 6% YOY. This meager growth barely tracks above inflation, and is not keeping pace with internal cost increases. The downward trend for Microsoft came in their net income, which saw a 5% decline in the face of larger revenues, a seriously dangerous equation. Microsoft blamed the strong US dollar for the fall, but Apple had no need for such excuses during their quarterly report. Apple’s YOY revenues grew 27%, while driving larger gross margins and a 30% rise in net income. The two companies couldn't be on more different paths.
Just in case you were wondering, that slothy software company from Redmond, Washington, is holding their Build 2015 developer’s conference now (April 29-May 1) in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. The results so far? A collective yawn with a smattering of panic.
Microsoft's CEO, Sayta Nadella, is hard at work, focusing everyone on Windows 10. Not to be confused with Windows 9 (which nomenclature was mysteriously skipped), Windows 10 is to be the savior of Microsoft, pulling the Pacific Northwest company out of its 10-year stupor, which was run by former CEO Steve Ballmer (now an NBA basketball owner-super-genius). One of the key products announced, was a conversion package. Developers will be able to “easily” port their Android and iOS apps to Windows 10 platforms — excluding apps written with Apple’s popular Swift code that is.
Apple TV is now $69, and while Apple executives plays coy with its sales, Apple TV continues to consistently sell. It is no longer a product in hobby status as Tim Cook recently stated at Apple’s March special event, “This is only the beginning.” What comes next is not crystal clear, but it is not all that difficult to figure out either. During Apple’s quarterly financial conference call Cook stated he would not speculate on where Apple TV was headed, but also stated that HBO’s success can give others pause for speculation. Beyond a bundled network TV solution, could Apple have a special wrinkle up their sleeve for Apple TV?
Rumors have been floated for years that the next generation Apple TV would incorporate Siri, have an all-new menu solution, contain an App store, and perhaps even ship within an Apple branded TV display. New features are always welcome, but incorporating more abilities comes at a price, and Apple may have tipped their hat with the current Apple TV price of $69.
If you hadn’t noticed, Apple is on what can only be described as a never-ending tear of success, and their enemies seem incapable or inept at stopping them. But this does not mean other tech players aren’t trying to wear their big-boy pants — they just continue to come up short at competing effectively. Perhaps the worst offender is Microsoft. Under former CEO Steve Ballmer, the Redmond software giant became very good at making lofty promises, delivering failures, demonstrating vaporware or throwing an occasional chair. Today’s Microsoft, run by Satya Nadella, is now a softer, gentler software vendor, but has yet to be any more effective at defeating the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and soon to arrive and dominate the wearable market, Apple Watch.
Nadella showed initial promise by downplaying the consumer electronics market, turning his focus on enterprise solutions. Old habits die hard. Microsoft is once again is pulling out their Fisher Price "My First Marketing Playbook" in another attempt at capturing the consumers eye with Surface 3. Will a cheaper Surface, whose best feature is the 5 seconds of switching between a poor tablet and so-so ultrabook, backed with a massive advertising budget, be enough to derail Apple’s best laid plans?
Have you ever been on a camp-out or a backpacking trip and during breakfast, lunch or dinner someone pulls out a spork? You know, a spoon that half-way up becomes a mini-fork? For advanced sporks the side can also be used as a knife to cut food. Microsoft’s Surface 3 is the perfect spork, but would you use it beyond your digital campsite?
A spork’s not a really good spoon, and it’s not really a good fork, but it’s functional enough, given an outdoor hiking/camping situation. If you lose the spork it isn’t a great investment gone south — it’s just a spork!
Apple Watch goes on pre-order sale April 10, and the new MacBook is available for in-store pickup on the same date. But Microsoft just tried their best to crash Apple's party, announcing a new Surface tablet/laptop product which effectively replaces the failed Surface RT. Will Microsoft's long-term endeavor to convert customers from using a laptop or tablet, to using their merged device pay off? Despite a massive ad campaign, Surface Pro 3 December quarter sales resulted in only 1 million units sold and the Surface RT product was canceled as a nearly $1 billion write-off earlier in the year. Yet Microsoft seems to be beyond stubborn in continuing to pushing their idea.
The immediate temptation is to compare the new Surface 3 to an Apple iPad Air 2 or an 11" MacBook Air, as this is exactly what Microsoft wants it to be stacked up against. Their marketing clearly positions certain strengths against the iPad and others against the MacBook Air, in an attempt to blur the lines that the Surface 3 is both a great tablet and ultrabook laptop. But is Surface 3 a great tablet and ultrabook, or something that is less than the sum of it's parts? It's time to take a look at the areas of Surface 3 that Microsoft isn't spinning.
Looking beyond the new MacBook’s 13.1" thinness, its 2-lb weight, retina display, state-of-the-art individually backlit keyboard and solid-state multi-touch trackpad, the new MacBook for all its pizzazz is set to crush the Windows-based competition with what may be the most import specification of all for the mobile crowd — battery life.
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6. Watch Faces
First and foremost, these devices are watches, and what type of face is displayed for you and others to see is very important. A watch face conveys the owners personality and what he or she thinks of the watch itself. What individuals like, or do not like, is up to each one’s personal preference. Currently, Android wear has more watch faces to choose from when downloading from Google Play — 57 in all — but that is where customization for Android Wear faces largely ends. Quality of watch faces is up to one’s own opinion. That said, Apple clearly trumps the number of downloadable Android Wear watch faces with the amount of face customization for each watch face.
Apple Watch ships with 9 time keeping faces, but each face is immensely customizable, going several levels deeper than Android Wear’s abilities. Beauty is a subjective thing, but most reviews are pointing to Apple’s more elegant, highly crafted time faces. You be the judge.
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After sifting through several articles and reading reviews on how Apple Watch stacks up to Android Wear devices, one thing became abundantly clear: Objective tech journalism, by and large, has left the building (no longer exists). Columnists either fear the mighty hand of Google search and ad power, therefore walking a careful tightrope with their reviews, or in an effort to not look like Apple fans, omit Apple Watch features, attempting to make Apple Watch and Google Wear products equal. This has the added benefit of making their review appear fair. It prompted me to lay out where each product has its victories.
Reviewing the most popular Android Wear watches, whether round face or rectangle, most are thicker, wider or taller. I could not find a fully featured Android Wear watch that was smaller than Apple’s 38mm Apple Watch, and most are larger, and heavier, than Apple’s 42mm Apple Watch Sport.
On Monday, Tim Cook and Phil Schiller introduced us to a new MacBook that is a pound lighter than the MacBook Air, has a superior keyboard (including individual LEDs for each key during back lighting), retina display, faster SSD and comes in three colors: silver, space gray and gold.
After watching the keynote a second time, it is clear this is the direction for Apple’s entire notebook line. The engineering marvel that was the MacBook Air had an impressive run, but Apple has taken this new MacBook to an entirely new level. But it begs the question: what is to happen to the MacBook Air?