Personal computer Stories April 22, 2015

While hundreds of apps for the Apple Watch have been announced and detailed, screenshots of most of the major applications have yet to be revealed, until now. Developer Steven Troughton-Smith has created a tool to view screenshots of Apple Watch applications by pasting in the link to the existing iPhone application. Below, we’ve put together several galleries of several notable Apple Watch applications, including Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Starbucks, and Apple’s own Keynote presentation remote. We’ll be updating this post live as more application screenshots are discovered. WatchAware is also showcasing more interactive previews of over 2000 Apple Watch apps.

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Personal computer Stories February 20, 2015

Apple to begin offering web-based chat support for Beats hardware (update: live)

Apple will expand its support capabilities for Beats by Dre hardware products, like headphones and speakers, next week by launching web-based chat support, according to sources. Customers in need of support for their Beats devices will be able to instant message with a support representative via Apple’s support website beginning on Monday, February 23rd. In January, Apple began moving Beats phone-based support wholly in-house after still using the headphone maker’s outsourced support for most of last year. Apple began servicing Beats products in its retail stores late last year.

Personal computer Stories February 10, 2015

Move over 5K iMac, 8K displays are on the way next year

The 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display may have the highest resolution screen in the world today, but it seems Apple will have to up its game next year if it wants to retain that title: 8K displays are expected to arrive sometime in 2016.

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced Embedded DisplayPort standard version 1.4a, which uses a new compression standard to support higher resolution panels, together with greater color depth and faster refresh rates. The new standard allows manufacturers to pipe around four times as much data to displays to support panels with resolutions of up to 8K.

The standard will also benefit machines with lower-resolution screens by enabling displays to be thinner, and extending battery-life in laptops by reducing the power required to transfer data to them.

Personal computer Stories January 13, 2015

2TB Mac mini quietly made its return over Christmas holidays

Following the launch of the current Mac mini in October of last fall, we noted that Apple had removed an option to purchase the entry-level Mac with 2TB of storage. It appears Apple has listened to feedback, and now users can, once again, buy a Mac mini with 2TB of storage. According to our digging into web archives, the 2TB option returned for the priciest Mac mini model in mid-December, right around the Christmas holidays. The 2TB Fusion Drive upgrade costs a $100 more than the 1TB drive, and it requires the machine to be built-to-order. Thanks, Bartosz for the initial find. 

Personal computer Stories January 12, 2015

Screenshot 2015-01-12 16.49.07

Analysis firm IDC today put out its projected numbers for PC growth in Q4 of 2014, and these results are better than projected. IDC initially predicted that unit sales for PCs would fall 4.8% year-over-year in Q4, but, instead, the market only fell 2.4%. While the decrease in growth is not as weak as expected, IDC still notes that 2014 is the third consecutive year of slow-down in the PC market. Many analysts have attributed the lack of recent growth to the uptake in purchases and usage of both tablets and large-screen smartphones…

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Personal computer Stories November 7, 2014

Final IDC numbers for U.S. PC shipments confirm Mac hit highest ever market share

IDC has finalized the preliminary PC shipment numbers released last month, confirming that the Mac hit its highest ever share of the U.S. market at 13%. Apple regained the place in lost to Lenovo back in April, moving back into third place behind HP at 28% and Dell with 24%.

Apple reported year-on-year growth of more than 20% in its Q4 earnings report, with Mac sales of 5.52M. In a subsequent interview with the WSJ, Tim Cook asked:

Would you rather own the Mac business or any of the Windows OEMs?

We learned recently that Apple’s share of the worldwide tablet market fell markedly from 29.2% last year to 22.8% this year, thanks to both falling sales and an increase in the number of competitor tablets, especially at the low end. The news was not all bad, however, with U.S. data showing that the iPad continues to dominate web usage, accounting for almost 80% of North American tablet traffic on the web, leaving its three largest competitors all down in single digits.

Personal computer Stories September 25, 2014

NPD data: Back-to-school Mac sales up 16 percent, year-on-year

Data from the NPD group indicates that MacBook sales grew 16 percent year-on-year during the 10-week back-to-school period, measured from 4th July to Labor Day week. The most significant sales were seen during the last three weeks of the period, where sales were up 27 percent.

Overall Mac back-to-school market share climbed from 24.2% last year to 26.8% this year, while Windows fell from 72.3% to 64.8%. The most dramatic growth, though, was seen in low-cost Chrome OS devices, up from 0.2% in 2012 to 3.3% last year and 4.5% now.

It’s interesting to see Mac sales continue to climb despite competition from low-cost notebooks. IDC data last month showed that iOS market share declined slightly due to competition from low-cost Android devices.

Personal computer Stories September 24, 2014

satisfaction

Apple has once again retained its top spot in the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index in the personal computers category – though three points down on its 2013 score. Apple has now held top billing for eleven straight years.

The ASCI continues to lump computers and tablets into the same category, so the scores reflect satisfaction with both Macs and iPads. Scores reflect customer expectations pre-sale, perceived quality, perceived value, customer complaint incidents and customer loyalty …  expand full story

Personal computer Stories September 9, 2014

iphone6

Last time we asked you, back in April, we’d seen only reports and alleged molds for the two different sizes of iPhone 6. At that stage, 60 percent of you planned to buy the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, with just under a third eyeing-up the 5.5-inch model. A further 8 percent were planning to stick with existing models, and two percent expecting to get a Droid.

Since then we’ve of course seen a huge number of leaked parts, and even what appear to be working versions of the 4.7-inch model. Both models are now expected to go on sale on 19th September, so we thought it would be interesting to see if and how your plans have changed

Choose your storage options and colour below: expand full story

Personal computer Stories August 26, 2014

Home security cameras that send you alerts when they detect movement have been around for a while now. We reviewed Dropcam, one of the better-known names in the business, last October.

The problem, though, is that most movement isn’t likely to be of interest – especially if you have pets or are susceptible to changes in nature from sunlight/wind. What we really want to know is when a person arrives, and that’s what Simplicam aims to deliver through face-detection software. You can thus choose to be notified about any one or more of three types of event: movement, sound and face-detection …  expand full story

Personal computer Stories August 18, 2014

lg

I’ve never been greatly convinced that curved TV screens are anything but a passing novelty. Watching TV is a social experience, so optimizing the viewing angle for just one person seems odd. But a curved monitor makes much more sense to me, enabling more comfortable viewing from a fixed position at your desk – especially as monitors get larger.

LG has just announced that it will formally launch the 34UC97,  “the world’s first curved monitor with an extra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio,” at the IFA in Berlin next month. The 34-inch ultra-wide monitor offers a 3440×1440 resolution, and – appealingly for Mac users – supports Thunderbolt 2 …  expand full story

Personal computer Stories July 31, 2014

Security researchers say USB security ‘broken,’ can take over Macs or PCs

The USB standard has a fundamental security flaw that allows an attacker to take over any device it is connected to, whether PC or Mac, say security researchers in a frightening piece by Wired.

Describing the proof-of-concept Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present at the Black Hat conference next week, they say the weakness is fundamental to the way in which USB works. Rather than storing malicious files on a USB device, the researchers managed to hack the USB controller chip that enables a USB device to communicate with a computer, changing its firmware. That means it can allow absolutely any USB device, from a USB key to a keyboard, to be compromised.

“These problems can’t be patched,” says Nohl, who will join Lell in presenting the research at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. “We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.”

“You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s clean, [but] the cleaning process doesn’t even touch the files we’re talking about.”

Unlike most malware, which targets Windows, this exploit allows any USB device to emulate a keyboard or mouse, taking complete control of both PCs and Macs.

As it’s undetectable, the exploit could be silently added to a USB key when it is inserted into a PC, and then infect the next device it’s connected to. There is, say the researchers, no protection at all against the method of attack short of never sharing USB devices – treating them as you’d treat a hypodermic needle: only ever using one you know to be brand new, and not dreaming of allowing anyone else to share it.

Personal computer Stories May 9, 2014

Despite decline in iPad sales, Apple remains #1 in combined PC & tablet sales

New data from Canalys shows that Apple remained the market leader in the combined PC and tablet market in Q1 this year, despite a 16 percent fall in iPad sales.

Worldwide, iPad shipments in Q1 fell 16% year on year to 16.4 million and accounted for 80% of Apple’s total PC shipments. Despite this, Apple continued to lead the global PC market. Its share fell both sequentially and year on year from 20% to 17%, due chiefly to the increasingly competitive tablet market.

With many consumers buying tablets in place of laptops, the approach taken by Canalys in combining the two arguably makes more sense than separating them out as other companies do. Tablets now outsell laptops, with desktops the poor relation.

Consumers, and increasingly businesses, are continuing to adapt, with tablets acting as disruptors and finding their place as desktop and notebook replacements. Apple’s ecosystem and the recent launch of Office for iPad should ensure it is well placed to remain a leader for some time.

Worldwide, tablets now account for 41 percent of combined sales, laptops 38 percent and desktops 21 percent.

Personal computer Stories April 10, 2014

Macs fall to 4th best-selling computer in USA (IDC) – or remain 3rd (Gartner)

PC shipment estimates for the first quarter of 2014 are out from both IDC and Gartner, and as usual the two companies disagree. IDC shows Apple falling to 4th place in the U.S., behind Lenovo, while Gartner has the company remaining in 3rd place just ahead of Lenovo.

Both agree, however, that Apple’s U.S. market share has fallen somewhat year-on-year, IDC showing a drop from 11 to 10.3 percent, while Gartner’s numbers show a decline from 11.5 to 10.8 percent. The differences are relatively small, however, with both sets of numbers show that around 1.5 million Macs were sold in the first quarter of the year.

Apple’s share of the global PC market has mostly climbed year-on-year over the past decade.

Personal computer Stories April 2, 2014

Mac sales success “defies the laws of economics,” says analyst

Noting that the Mac’s share of the PC market has risen almost continuously over the past decade (with just a brief dip in 2012) despite costing an average of $700 more than competitor machines, Needham’s Charlie Wolf is quoted by Fortune as saying that it “seems to defy the laws of economics.”

The only explanation that we see is the now-mythical halo effect. Beginning with the iPod in the middle of the past decade and then extending to the iPhone and iPad, a meaningful number of Windows users who bought these products seem to have switched from a PC to a Mac […]

What should be underscored is how unique the Mac phenomenon is […] we view the Mac’s success as the rare instance where sales increased in the face of rising prices.

The halo effect of the brand undoubtedly plays a part, but he seems to have missed the rather obvious point that OS X is a rather better operating system than Windows, and the slickness of the ecosystem makes a Mac an obvious choice for anyone who already owns an iOS device …

Personal computer Stories February 12, 2014

nielsen-smartphone-usage-2013

According to new data from Nielsen, Americans now spend more time using mobile web and apps on their smartphones than they do online on their PCs, reports Engadget.

That shift toward mobile is affecting how many spend their free time. Americans spent an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsers in 2013; that’s more time than they spent online with their PCs, which chewed up 27 hours …  expand full story

Personal computer Stories February 7, 2014

mini

When it first launched in 2005, the Mac mini was almost unimaginably small. The original aim of the machine was to convert owners of desktop Windows machines. Because those people already owned monitors, keyboards and other peripherals, selling them just the computer itself would enable them to switch to Mac for far less than the cost of buying an iMac.

The typical Windows desktop box of that era looked like this:

windows

A system unit that measured just 6.5 inches square and only 2-inches thick was an incredible feat of engineering. Today, however, it looks rather less impressive …  expand full story

Personal computer Stories February 6, 2014

ultrabook

PC manufacturers seem to be dropping like flies at present. Shortly after Sony confirmed it was selling its PC business and Vaio brand, LG is rumored to be planning its own exit from traditional PCs, to focus on smartphones, tablets and ‘convertible’ PCs (touchscreen Windows tablets that flip round into a laptop).

Other manufacturers are witnessing falling sales, prices and profits – with The Guardian calculating that the average profit per PC in the third quarter of 2013 fell to just £14.87 ($24.09). One manufacturer of conventional-format PCs, however, has remained almost immune to the trend: Apple …  expand full story

Post-PC era in full swing, as Sony exits PC business and Apple leads in combined devices

Sony has confirmed earlier rumors that it is exiting the PC business, selling both its computer division and the VAIO brand to a Japanese investment fund which plans to use the brand only within Japan, at least initially.

Once the coolest laptop brand around, VAIO notebooks were admired even by Steve Jobs for their slim form factors and sleek designs, and it was to Sony that Apple turned for help in designing its early PowerBook models. Sony, however, failed to maintain its design momentum, and found itself increasingly overtaken by smaller companies.

We described yesterday how Sony in 2001 turned down an offer from Steve Jobs to run Mac OS on Vaio laptops.

Sony is also restructuring its TV business, announcing that it will be focusing much more on high-end models. Sony is the current market leader in 4K TVs, a market Apple is expected to enter.

The news coincides with a report by Canalys that if you measure PC and tablet sales as a single category, considering both to amount to personal computers, then Apple is the leading computer manufacturer, with a 19.5 percent market share – more than HP and Dell combined.

Combining Macs and iPads, Apple sold just over 87 million personal computing devices last year (excluding iPhones).

Personal computer Stories January 24, 2014

numbers

While there’s plenty of looking back going on todayFortune has gathered together analyst forecasts of the Mac numbers we can expect Apple to reveal at its earnings call on Monday. This follows earlier forecasts for iPhone and iPad.

The average prediction is for 13 percent year-on-year growth, predicting that Apple sold 4.6 million Macs in the final quarter of 2013 (Apple’s fiscal Q1). This is slap bang in the middle of the growth predictions for iPads (10 percent) and iPhones (16 percent) …  expand full story

A nostalgic look back at the Mac launch, and early advertising [Videos]

Those of us old enough to have been around to witness the launch of the Mac can enjoy a good dose of nostalgia today, while those who weren’t can try to imagine just what the world was like before the Mac, thanks to two YouTube playlists.

EverySteveJobsVideo has put together a playlist of 18 Steve Jobs videos, from the launch of the Macintosh at the Apple shareholder event 30 years ago today, through internal videos, some early ads to a set of videos featuring not just the original “1984” ad, but alternative versions and the story of the making of the famous video.

EveryAppleAds (sic), meantime, has collected together the complete set of Get a Mac ads, with the hugely successful “Hello, I’m a Mac / And I’m a PC” format.

window

A tip we’ve received from an Apple Store employee indicates that Apple will be putting up celebratory LED window displays at Apple Stores, showing a stylised ‘3’ and a ‘Happy birthday, Mac’ message. iPhones and iPads in the window will reportedly be removed. The graphic came via special SD card.

Happy 30th #Apple!

A post shared by Bill Wilson (@level42) on

Boxes of special t-shirts have arrived for the occasion (photo below the fold) …  expand full story

Personal computer Stories January 14, 2014

total

The total number of Apple devices sold will equal the number of Windows PCs by some point this year, predicts Asymco’s Horace Dediu in an interesting piece of analysis.

The dark shaded area compares all Apple hardware – Mac plus iPad plus iPhone – with Windows PCs, and shows that by last year there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs than Apple devices. It’s of course a somewhat artificial comparison, as Dediu is including iPhones while excluding Windows Phones and tablets, but given the very limited success of Windows mobile devices to date, correcting that wouldn’t change the patterns too much.

What’s particularly interesting here, as John Gruber notes, is that the dramatic reversal kicked in well before the launch of the iPhone. Dediu and Gruber between them put forward a number of theories for this, and of these I think three are likely key …

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Personal computer Stories October 10, 2013

mac

US Mac sales fell year-on-year as part of the global decline in the PC market as consumers switch to tablets, phablets and smartphones – but the two major market analysts produced wildly differing estimates of the size of that fall.

IDC has a dramatic drop of 11.2 percent, from 2.14M in the third quarter of 2012 to 1.9M in the same quarter this year, while Gartner shows a much more modest decline of 2.3 percent from 2.2M (close to IDC’s number) to 2.1M. The only point on which both agree is this is the first Q3 decline in Mac sales since 2002, a quarter usually assisted by the back-to-school market …

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