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?
In an interview released by Motoring, Mercedes-Benz CEO, Dieter Zetsche, warned Apple that entering the automobile market would be a great error in judgment. This is an interesting statement since Mercedes-Benz’ recently lost its North American research and development chief, Johann Jungwirth, to Apple to work on Titan (the project name for Apple's Car). Apparently Mr. Zetsche and Mr. Jungwirth have different value systems in what makes a good decision and what doesn’t.
When asked whether Zetsche was worried about Apple entering the automobile market, he responded by saying,
It’s time to butter both sides of the bread, because Mark & Werner provide another hour of hilarity while helping you become smarter at the same time... really.
If Detroit’s top brass are operating with the same acumen as former General Motors CEO, Dan Akerson, Apple should be tripling their car efforts. Apple taking on Akerson and other automotive "whiz kids" may make former Motorola & Microsoft CEOs (Ed Zander and Steve Ballmer) look like a geniuses.
Earlier this week, Akerson spoke to Bloomberg about rumors of Apple getting into the automotive market. “I think somebody is trying to cough up a Hairball here,” Akerson said. He continued on, talking of how those outside the automotive industry don’t understand it, with the end result being a lot of work for extremely low margins. Akerman ended his comments with a warning to Apple. “They’d better [understand the automobile industry] if they want to get into hard-core manufacturing. We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into a car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that.” When asked how he would deal with Apple, his response was “How do they deal with us? That’s the question.” Oh wait, that last comment wasn’t Akerson, it was former Motorola CEO Ed Zander that uttered those disparaging comments against the iPhone. But Akerson’s comments are not falling far from the failed “mock Apple” tree. Perhaps history is about to repeat itself – again.