Chromebooks overtake iPads in Education Sales

From the Financial Times:

“Chromebooks are really gaining traction,” said IDC analyst Rajani Singh. “The growth of Chromebook is a major concern for Apple’s iPad.”

The reasons Chromebooks are gaining traction in education are easy to see. Low cost client, super simple client management, and a content library (the entire world wide web) second to none. It is the quintessential embodiment of Larry Ellison’s thin client prophecy from back in the early 90s.

Is the rise of the Chromebook in education linked with the dip iPads have seen over the last year? Time will tell.

Category: iPad

Apple Hardware Year in Review

Apple SVP Eddy Cue famously said earlier this year that 2014 was going to be a banner year for Apple products.

With the year coming to a close, now is a good time to reflect back on the hardware that Apple released over the last 12 months and examine where Apple went right and where they went wrong.


Category: Apple,Apple Retail,Hardware,iPad,iPhone,iPod,Opinion

The New iPad

It’s pretty rare in prerelease speculation that the blogs get the specs of a new device right, but get the new devices name wrong. But such is the case of the new iPad. Not the iPad HD. Not the iPad 3. Just iPad. Makes sense though if you think about it. We don’t have MacBook Pro HDs, or iPod Touch 3s. I suspect the next iPhone will probably be called just iPhone as well.

As to the new device itself, it falls in line with predictions. Retina display. 4G LTE. New graphics chip to handle the extra resolution. New iSight camera with 5MP and 1080p recording. Just about every internal component has been upgraded.

Curiously, the one component that hasn’t been upgraded – the FaceTime camera – could have really improved the FaceTime experience if it had been upgraded to take advantage of the new resolution. As someone who FaceTimes regularly with family, it’s an improvement I would have welcomed. But I’m quibbling. This is a huge upgrade. Anyone who tries to paint this as a disappointment is being disingenuous.

Each iPad iteration brings more software to the platform that allows the iPad to be used for real world tasks. With this upgrade, Apple rolled out iPhoto. In true Apple fashion, it is a beautiful reimaging of the software used to organize and edit photos. With the improved screen, the iPad has the potential to become the travelling photographers tool of choice for in the field proofing, editing and sharing.

Category: iPad

iPad 2 vs. the Motorola Xoom

I was in my local Best Buy yestereday checking out the new iPad 2. I had seen them briefly in the Apple Store the previous week, but I wanted to get a few minutes of hands on time, and the Best Buy was right there.

While I was playing with one of the two display units, a Best Buy salesman was answering a woman’s questions (badly) about the iPad 2. “How many books can it hold?”. “How much music?”. “Can I get by with the 16GB version?”. The salesman was obviously trying to steer her towards the 32GB version. I interjected and asked her how many movies, music and books she had in her iTunes library. She answered that she had no movies, a few albums, and a couple of eBooks. I explained to her that the 16GB would probably be enough for her. She was sold. Unfortunately, Best Buy, like every other retailer, doesn’t have any stock of the iPad 2 at the moment, and doesn’t know when they will receive any. The salesman made a feable attempt to recommend the Motorola XOOM, but the woman was more interested in getting the original iPad.

I walked over to the Motorola XOOM display to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunatley, the unit was non functional. It was rigged up to work, but either the battery had died, or it wasn’t plugged up correctly. Either way, I found it a little ironic.

Remember in the 90’s when Best Buy carried Macs, and they were usually in a sad state of display? Most of the time they were turned off, and relegated to some row where no one would ever go. It was clear back then that Best Buy had little interest in trying to sell them.

This is the same impression I got about the XOOM. How bad is the XOOM that the sales geeks don’t even bother to have a working display unit? How sad is it that even though the iPad 2 is near impossible to get ahold of, it and the original iPad is still beating the XOOM?

I don’t know how long Apple will have a near lock on the tablet industry, but I don’t see Android eating Apple’s lunch anyime soon. HP has a shot with webOS tablets, if they execute properly on experience, ecosystem, and price. But that is really what the challenge is for someone getting in to the tablet space: You have to have all three bases covered if you want to compete seriously with Apple.

Price is difficult enough, since Apple buys components in quantities larger than most others, and gets the better discounts. Experience is something Google has just started taking seriously, yet with Honeycomb, the consensus is that it still is a disappointing experience. Ecosystem (apps and accessories) is the toughest nut to crack, mainly because you can’t will thousands of developers to create apps for your device. All you can do is create compelling tools, a vibrant sales channel and large user base, and hope that the developers bring their A game to write apps for your device.

I don’t belive Apple will have the tablet market to themself forever, but I don’t see anybody shipping anything this year that has all three legs (experience, ecosystem, price) of the formula.

Category: iPad,Opinion

Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash

Steve Jobs has penned another detailed missive, this time on Flash and how/why Apple doesn’t support it on it’s mobile devices. It’s a 1600 word opus that breaks down the argument in to 6 reasons – openness, full web, reliability (and security/performance), battery life, touch, and platform issues.

I can’t argue with most of the points, however this one is not entirely accurate:

Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

The Flash plugin is proprietary, but anyone can build an application that exports to the Flash format. Applications like Swish and others offer Flash creation tools that export to the Flash format. It’s a minor point to quibble with, as the Flash plugin is proprietary.

It will be interesting to see how Adobe responds to this. Adobe, from the CEO on down, has been dissing Apple’s mobile offerings lately in hopes of preserving it’s Flash kingdom. Having Steve Jobs and his 1600 word megaphone broadcast a detailed defense of why Apple avoids Flash can’t go unanswered. Can it?

Category: News,Opinion

Chatty Steve: iPad 3G bumped back to late May

Not surprising, considering the demand. You have to ask yourself though, why is Steve Jobs being so forthcoming lately?

Category: Links

About the author

A user of Macs since they had silly names like Performa and Centris, Theodore Lee is a techie who prides himself on his vast knowledge of all things Apple. OS X Factor was started in 2001 (originally as macosxcentric), and continues to churn out tips, tutorials, reviews and commentary on the tech sector.