When I learned that another new photo editing application was coming, one that claimed it would be able to take on the juggernaut of the industry, Adobe Photoshop, I rolled my eyes. “First this software will need to be able to knock off Pixelmator,” I thought. I downloaded Affinity Photos immediately, and within one day of using the software I realized that Affinity was no competition for Pixelmator – it easily surpassed it.
The company in charge of Affinity is Serif LTD., located in Nottingham, England. Serif has been around since 1987, and has a host of web and creative editing tools, largely focused on the consumer and educational markets. If you have never heard of them, as I had not, there is a big reason for that. Until Affinity Photo, all Serif's software was built exclusively for Windows. However, with the Mac continuing to grow and stay firmly entrenched in the creative markets, Serif set off in a new direction. Affinity Photo was engineered from the ground up for OS X. There is no Affinity Windows counterpart. There no shared code or pallet design ported from the platform best forgotten. Affinity Photo is 100% OS X goodness, and already includes Force Touch capability.
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge was supposed to be the “next best thing” in mobile phones. Commercials have this device touting its curved-edge display that lights up the side-panels, illuminating in blue for Craig, green for Gavin and red for Ramona, with text and other such items displayed. Really? Moreover, Samsung continues their staccato plucked strings as background music, trying to add as much intrigue to their product as possible. All the background music does for me is to notify me it's time to change the channel.
Wander any mall in the U.S. and you will not see many people, let alone any lines, trying to get into a mobile phone outlet looking for the latest Galaxy. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 was to drive massive traffic to such stores, in an attempt to stem Apple's iPhone momentum. It hasn't worked.
According to JMP Securities technology analyst Alex Guana, Apple’s slow launch into the wearables market has left a large opening for competitor Fitbit. Guana claims Fitbit is the “clear leader in the market with over 11 million units sold last year.” Guana continued by saying that Fitbit is currently ahead of Apple Watch as far as price points, battery life and GPS tracking. However, he did concede that long-term, Apple can bring a lot of “power” with iOS and versatility. These Apple advantages will give Fitbit some serious competition.
The phablet is all the rage. Half smartphone – half tablet, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is on fire. According to Carolina Milanesi, of Kantarworldpanel, iPhone 6 Plus gobbled up 44% of the worldwide phablet market during the first quarter of 2015. China is largely responsible for the overall iPhone 6 Plus consumption, but the U.S. and Europe are also playing an important role. Who is buying all these quasi-tablet/smartphone Pluses? Women.
Cultural differences aside, universally women carry purses, and generally speaking, men do not. Additionally, more men are in the workforce, and that makes a difference in device choice. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 69.7% of men are in the workforce, while 57.2% of women are in the labor market. Businessmen do not carry purses, rather, they slip their smartphones into a slacks or jacket pocket. Women, even those in the white collar labor force, often carry business-like purses. Women working retail or working-for-the-family Mom’s carry purses as well. If you have not caught on yet, a large display smartphone works well for purses, not so much for business suites, slacks or jeans.
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.