The phablet cannibalization trend is so significant that IDC lowered its long-term tablet forecast. The research firm slightly lowered its previous 2013 forecast from 227.4 million tablet shipments worldwide to 221.3 million.
IDC lowered its 2017 tablet forecast even further, pegging shipments at 386.3 million, down from the previous 407 million units.
In some markets, especially the Asia Pacific region, consumers have already decided to buy a large smartphone rather than a small tablet, IDC analysts said. Tablet purchases in South Korea have declined while larger smartphone purchases have increased. IDC researchers there are forecasting that 2013 tablet shipments will drop below 2012′s figures.
“Korea is a unique case, but it could very well be the precursor to that happening in more countries and regions,” said Tom Mainelli, an IDC analyst.
“People in some countries have limited money to spend, so they tend to go for a large phone because they can call and browse on it and read email, as opposed to getting a small phone and a tablet,” added IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani. The phablet becomes the “jack of all trades.”
The cannibalization of tablets is less of a concern in the U.S. and Canada where expendable income is more available. In North America, analysts are more worried about market saturation, with tablets bought up in huge numbers going back to 2010. The market is set to turn from high growth to “mostly a replacement market,” Mainelli said.
IDC also found that tablets in emerging countries aren’t as popular as phablets because there is less Wi-Fi at home and less traditional home PC usage. “We think many of those cheap whitebox tablets being used in emerging markets are essentially replacing DVD players, with the content side-loaded onto them from various sources,” Mainelli said. “Also, larger smartphones took off there first.”
In addition to large smartphones’ cutting into tablet sales, Mainelli said IDC believes that wearable devices and other new computing categories will temper tablet growth in coming years. He didn’t estimate by how much, however.
As large phone use rises, Mainelli said it’s possible that the tablet market will shift back to larger tablets in a reversal of the recent trend toward sub-8-in. tablets. “I tend to think that is what will happen in the U.S.,” he said. One example is the new iPad Air, with a 9.7-in. display.
IDC predicts about 220 million tablets with screens that are under 8 inches will ship globally in 2017, with another 145 million tablets shipping that are between 8 inches and 11 inches, and about 20 million with screen sizes of more than 11 inches.
Analyst firm Canalys said in November that phablets larger than 5 inches accounted for 22% of all smartphones shipped in the third quarter.
The phablets, made mainly by Samsung and running the Android operating system, include the 6.3-in. Galaxy Mega and the 5.7-in Galaxy Note 3. Apple’s new iPhone 4S and 4C are still 4-in. devices, but the company launched a smaller tablet, the iPad mini, with a 7.9-in. screen in November 2012.
Canalys recently predicted that tablet shipments will reach 285 million units in 2014, about 15 million higher than IDC’s forecast for 2014 of 270.5 million.
Also in 2014, Canalys said tablets will almost outship all PCs combined, a category including desktops and laptops.
The program, dubbed “Student Advantage,” was unveiled in mid-October, when Microsoft promised that it would debut Dec. 1.
Educational institutions, whether K-12 school districts or those in higher education, that license Office Professional Plus 2013 or Office 365 ProPlus — the former is traditionally-licensed software while the latter is a subscription — can now also hand Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions to students, free of charge.
Schools and universities must have licensed Office for staff and faculty institution-wide, according to Microsoft, to be eligible for the student give-away. When students graduate, their Office 365 subscription expires.
Office 365 ProPlus includes rights to download and install copies of the newest Office desktop applications on up to five Windows PCs or Macs owned by the student, as well as rights to run the iPhone or Android editions of Office Mobile.
Students, faculty and staff at universities that do not equip employees with Office can instead pay a flat $80 for a four-year subscription to Office 365 University. That subscription program allows Office 2013 to be installed on up to two PCs or Macs, and Office Mobile on as many as two mobile devices.
Apple confirmed the acquisition but would not say why it purchased the company, which specializes in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics.
The Wall Street Journal, which reported the news earlier, cited people familiar with the deal as saying Apple forked over more than $200 million.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
Topsy did not respond to requests for comment.
The iPad and iPhone maker often does what it calls “bolt-on” acquisitions, small deals to acquire technology that then gets integrated into existing or future products.
Apple’s main effort in social media has revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into its iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a newsfeed, didn’t catch on and was shut down.
But the California gadget maker has been increasingly making it easier for people to share photos, videos and news through its devices and directly to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
It also operates iTunes Radio, an online streaming music service that competes with Pandora and could benefit from Topsy’s data on consumer sentiment.
A recent upgrade to its developer tools has reduced the amount of work required to get an Android app working on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and changes coming in early 2014 will allow some Android apps to run directly without any changes.
BlackBerry 10 is based on a real-time operating system called QNX but has had a level of compatibility with Android since it was launched earlier this year. A “runtime” on the phones provides an environment in which Android apps can run, but not all Android features are supported.
The latest version, 10.2.1, was introduced in early November and added support for Android Jellybean 4.2.2, Bluetooth, maps through Open Street Map, sharing of content with other applications in the phone, and the spell checker.
As long as the Android features that a given app needs are supported in BlackBerry’s Android runtime, the app needs minimal repackaging to run on BlackBerry smartphones.
It’s about to get even easier.
Early next year, BlackBerry will push a software update to users that will bring the ability to directly run “.apk” Android packages on phones, with no repackaging, as long as features required by the apps are supported. That should make it easier for companies to offer Android applications to BlackBerry users.
On Dec. 4, the company will run a series of webcasts specifically aimed at Android developers. The “BlackBerry Jam Direct Android Virtual Conference” will include speeches from BlackBerry engineers and third-party software developers.
“This event is designed to help you understand how theA BlackBerry Runtime for Android A apps 10.2.1 release supports your development efforts and helps you get your apps in front of BlackBerry users faster,” the company says on a website.
BlackBerry has attracted 130,000 apps to its BlackBerry 10 platform, but the company’s new phones haven’t managed to grab the attention of many users.
BlackBerry had a 2.8% share of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2013, according to data from IDC. That puts it behind Windows Mobile at 3.1%, Apple’s iOS at 16.6% and Android at 69.2%.
It is not known for which applications Apple aims to use the PrimeSense technology or the price it has paid for the Tel Aviv, Israel, company. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet emailed the company’s standard statement after an acquisition.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” she wrote.
PrimeSense technology was used to power the Kinect motion sensing input device in the original Xbox from Microsoft.
The Calcalist newspaper in Israel reported on the deal about a week ago, and said Apple would pay $345 million for the company.
PrimeSense said earlier this month that its sensor was used by 3-D printing company 3D Systems for its new 3-D scanner called Sense.
The company’s sensors have applications in other areas, ranging from retail to healthcare, which suggest that Apple has a number of alternatives for deployment of the technology in its own devices. Its Capri sensor is a small-size device designed specifically for integration with mobile phones, TVs, tablets and PCs.
PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and has operated as a fabless semiconductor company. Its technology already powers over 24 million devices around the world, enabling natural interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings, the company said on its website.
A few days ago AMD announced it would extend the Battlefield 4 bundle deal to all R9-series cards, but right now it’s starting to sound like President Obama telling Americans that none of them will lose their healthcare plans.
In theory all R9 cards could get the bundle, but AMD is saying that it is up to AIB partners to decide whether they will offer the game with all cards or just with some. It basically sounds like AIBs could offer pricier SKUs with the BF4 bundles and also plain cards with a discount. It is unclear how much the bundle would affect the retail price.
This is what AMD said to clarify the situation:
An email sent to press that provided details on AMD’s Battlefield 4 promotion was not clear and has led to some confusion in the marketplace. It suggested that all customers who purchased an AMD Radeon R9 series graphics card on or after November 13, 2013 would receive a complimentary copy of Battlefield 4. While all AMD Radeon R9 series cards are theoretically eligible for the promotion (which is administered by AMD’s channel partners), retailers and add-in-board partners ultimately decide which select AMD Radeon R9 SKUs will include a copy of BF4.
In addition, AMD made it clear that customers who purchased R9 cards before November 13 are not eligible for any retroactive bundle deal due to contractual agreements with EA/DICE. However, as a gesture of goodwill AMD plans to hand out 1,000 BF4 codes on social media, although the full details of the giveaway have not been announced yet.
Basically if you are interested in getting an R9 BF4 bundle, it’s probably best to wait for a few days or weeks and see what AMD channel partners plan to offer.
Like all major companies, Electronic Arts from time to time has come under fire from pundits and consumers. In fact, earlier this year, the publisher won the Consumerist poll for “Worst Company in America” for the second straight year. Whether or not there’s any merit to that accusation, rather than simply shrug it off, EA says it’s listening and wants to do even better by its consumers.
In a recent interview with Kotaku, newly minted CEO Andrew Wilson and vice president of the Games Label, Patrick Soderlund, talked at length about making consumers more satisfied than they have been with EA in the last few years.
“There are lots of really big public companies that make a lot of money that are loved by their consumers,” Wilson acknowledged. “That’s because the consumers feel like they get value from that company in the investment in their dollars [and] time.”
To that end, Wilson would like his consumers to really feel like they, not EA, are getting the better end of the deal when they purchase any games from the publisher. “Any time we create something, if you’re asking for an investment from the consumer in dollars and time, make sure they feel like they’re stealing from you and that they are getting the best end of that deal and the rest will follow. And that will be our philosophy,” he continued.
Interestingly, Soderlund admitted that the Consumerist distinction really did give EA pause. The executives have been thinking about what it means and what the company can do to change perceptions around EA.
“We started thinking about how we don’t want to be viewed as the worst company in America. I personally don’t think we’ve ever been the worst company in America, but it says something. The consumers out there are telling us something. And we actually took it very seriously. This was before Andrew was the CEO. We and [EA chief operating officer] Peter Moore and a couple of other guys in the executive company got together to try to understand what caused people to say these things. And there were some things out there that…consumers told us they didn’t like. Online pass was one thing.”
It may sound easy, but one of the best things EA can do for its reputation is to make amazing game experiences. If consumers love the games, the rest should follow. Wilson noted that for as much as EA has tried to raise its own bar on quality, it’s still not enough.
“The demand and expectation on us are higher than they ever have been,” Wilson said. “We need a mechanism and a process which we can get to better games more quickly. If we can be faulted for anything, over the years, it’s kind of hanging on to ideas or concepts of games too long, driving too hard against them, spending too much to the point that we couldn’t invest in other opportunities and ideas. And a big part of what Patrick and [fellow top execs] Frank [Gibeau] and Lucy [Bradshaw] and I committed to is let’s drive a culture of innovation inside the company that actually starts a lot more stuff but at the same time kills a bunch more stuff before it gets to market so that we can give ourselves more short-term goals to get to that next innovative product.”
While EA is still trying to convince investors that profits are coming, its management ultimately sees the consumer perception and game quality issues as the most important to tackle. If it handles those problems with aplomb, the bottom line will take care of itself.
“…whether it’s DLC or something else, as long as we take the approach of being player-[d]riven and not driven by a short-term financial decision, players are telling us that Battlefield Premium is a good thing, because they’re buying it, they like it and they look at this and say, ‘Wow this is a great value proposition. I get four or five expansion packs and all these things for $50 that I can play over two years’ time. That’s worth something. Will Electronic Arts make money out of that? Yes, but will the consumers like it and want it? Yes they do. Wholeheartedly. I think that’s an approach where if we come at it from a consumer perspective and we do things that they tell us they want and we do that well, business will follow,” said Soderlund.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is struggling to raise the funding for its $4.7 billion bid for BlackBerry Ltd, with several large financial institutions declining to participate on concerns that the smartphone maker will not be able to reverse its fortunes, according to people familiar with the matter.
Fairfax, which is run by Canadian financier Prem Watsa, is working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and BMO Capital Markets to put together a lending syndicate for a deal, but they have been turned down by several large lenders, the sources said.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch and BMO both have deep pockets themselves, and it is still possible they will muster the necessary financing for Fairfax to submit a definitive bid.
Fairfax, the largest shareholder in BlackBerry with a 10 percent stake, reached a tentative $9-per-share deal with BlackBerry in late September, and has until November 4 to negotiate a definitive agreement.
Several other potential bidders are also mulling participation in BlackBerry’s future. The deadline for them to submit bids for the company is also today.
Fairfax and BlackBerry declined to comment.
The difficulties Fairfax has had in raising financing underscore the fading relevance of BlackBerry, which once pioneered on-the-go email but has bled market share to Apple Inc’s iPhone and devices using Google Inc’s Android software in recent years.
Should Fairfax fail to put together a bid for BlackBerry, a deal could still be possible with other technology companies in the sector. BlackBerry founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin have also declared their interest in buying BlackBerry.
Lazaridis and Fregin are working to submit a joint bid with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday. Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc also may join the bidding group, that person added.
It was not clear whether Lazaridis and Fregin would overcome the financing hurdles that Fairfax faces. Cerberus and a spokesman for the two founders declined to comment, while Qualcomm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Apple’s once-dominant lead in the ever-expanding tablet market is fading as consumers move to Android tablets, which are cheaper and available in different sizes, according to separate research released by IHS and IDC on Wednesday.
Tablet shipments during the third quarter this year totaled 47.6 million units, growing by 36.7% compared to the same quarter last year, according to IDC. Android tablets drove the growth, while Apple’s iPad shipments were flat and Windows tablets continued to struggle.
Apple maintained the top spot in tablet shipments, totaling 14.1 million iPads during the quarter, growing by just 0.6% compared to the previous year. The company’s tablet market share fell to 29.6% during the third quarter, down from 40.2% a year ago.
The current tablet market share of 29.6% is Apple’s lowest to date, IDC said. Research firm IHS pegged Apple’s third-quarter market share at 29.7%.
Apple’s tablet shipments slowed due to a delay in product launches to the fourth quarter from earlier in the year. But the company is poised to regain market share with the new iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina display, which will start shipping in November.
“With two 7.9-inch [iPad Mini] models starting at $299 and $399, and two 9.7-inch models starting at $399 and $499, Apple is taking steps to appeal to multiple segments,” said Jitesh Ubrani, IDC research analyst, in a statement.
Samsung was the biggest beneficiary of the growth in Android tablets, holding 20.4% market share during the third quarter, up from 12.4% a year ago. The South Korean company’s tablet shipments totaled 9.7 million units, growing by 123% compared to last year. Asustek was in third place with shipments up 53.9% to 3.5 million. Lenovo was in the fourth spot, with tablet shipments of 2.3 million, growing by a whopping 420.7%. Acer was in fifth place, with quarterly shipments growing by 346.3%.
While Apple is the solo tablet vendor with iOS, the sheer volume and spate of sub-$250 tablets has made Android a leading tablet OS, said Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet research at IHS.
The Google-owned phone maker has launched Project Ara to create a free, open and standardized platform to let people pick and choose the components they want in their phones, Motorola said in a blog post this week.
The goal is to create a standard endoskeleton, or frame, that can hold different modules, like extra-powerful processors, additional batteries or memory chips for storing more music, all based on the customer’s preferences.
“Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it,” Motorola said.
Motorola’s vision of do-it-yourself smartphones builds on parent company Google’s success with its widely used Android smartphone platform, which it offers for free and allows manufacturers to customize. Android also gives people more leeway to tweak the features on their smartphones than Apple’s iOS platform offers to iPhone users.
Motorola said it has been working on Project Ara for over a year and that it recently teamed up with Phonebloks, an open source project that has also been working on creating modular smartphone components that can be easily replaced.
The announcement of Ara follows Motorola’s launch earlier this year of the Moto X smartphone, which lets customers choose the colors of the front and back panels and buttons.
On its website, Phonebloks envisions an online store letting consumers read reviews of smartphone components, shop for new and used parts, and order custom-designed handsets.
Project Ara is also a bit of a throwback to the 1980s and 1990s, when many technology-handy consumers assembled their own desktop PCs using hard drives, power supplies, CPUs and other custom-picked components.
That became less common when laptops, which are more difficult to customize, became widely used, but computer components are still made at standard sizes that can be slotted into most PCs.
Motorola said it will work on the project openly and create experimental modules. It plans to invite developers and recruit “Ara scouts” to help research and shape the project.
The emergence of ultramobile devices, which marries a PC with the form factor of a tablet, will help ease the declines in other PCs, but not by much. When ultramobiles are included, the overall PC market will still decline 8.4% in 2013, Gartner said.
The news of the fantastic popularity of tablets comes as Apple is set to release revamped iPads and iPad Minis today, while Microsoft on the same day begins shipments of its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets running Windows 8.1, starting at $449 and $899, respectively.
Gartner forecast that Android tablets of all brands will exceed iPads for all of 2013 for the first time, with 91.5 million (49.6%) Android tablets shipped compared with 89.6 million (48.6%) Apple iPads. Gartner said just over 3 million (1.7%) Windows tablets will ship.
Apple’s iPads still had the largest share of the worldwide tablet market by manufacturer at 32% in the second quarter, according to IDC, followed by Samsung at 18%. Samsung builds its tablets primarily on the Android mobile operating system.
Gartner and other analysts have found a strong trend toward smaller tablets, some as small as those with a 7-in. display. In a survey of 21,500 consumers in the U.S. and seven other countries, Gartner found 47% owned a tablet with a display of 8 inches or less.
“Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite — the smartphone — loses its appeal,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi in a statement.
Immediately after the relaunch, which occurred about 2:30 p.m. ET, some BBM customers, including CIO.com blogger Al Sacco tweeted that BBM wasn’t working. (An hour later, BlackBerry said the BBM service was working well.).
According to a BlackBerry blog posted earlier Monday, BBM would be made available in Google Play, Apple’s App Store and some Samsung App Stores for free.
There’s just one catch: People who didn’t pre-register to get BBM must install the app, enter an email address and then wait for the rollout. About 6 million people signed up at BBM.com and can start using BBM immediately without waiting in line.
Earlier this year, BlackBerry said about 60 million users were on BBM over BlackBerry devices only.
The extension of BBM to iPhone and Android platforms was to have taken place on Sept. 21 but was stopped a few hours later when an unreleased version of BBM for Android app caused data traffic volumes to soar and affected the overall system, BlackBerry said in a blog at the time.
The delay in taking BBM to Android and iPhone came at an awkward time, since BlackBerry has boasted how successful its BBM has been in reaching young users over the social network. The timing was such that on Sept. 20, a day before the pause in the rollout, BlackBerry announced it would take a nearly $1 billion write-off in its second fiscal quarter because of poorsmartphone sales — especially the Z10 — and would lay off 4,500 workers.
The Delaware Supreme Court has overturned a preliminary injunction preventing Activision Blizzard from buying Vivendi’s stake in the company. In September, the Delaware Court of Chancery blocked the sale due to a lawsuit filed against Activision by shareholder Douglas Hayes. Hayes argues that the sale requires the approval of shareholders to proceed. Vivendi filed an emergency appeal against the ruling in late September, attempting to remove the injunction before the October 15 termination date on the agreement.
The Delaware Supreme Court agreed with Activision’s assertion that the sale was a stock repurchase and did not require the approval of minority shareholders.
With the injunction gone, Vivendi and Activision expect the deal to close by October 15. The deal will have ASAC II, an investment group led by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, buying 172 million shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion and Activision Blizzard buying 429 million shares for $5.83 billion. The two transactions would give Activision control over Vivendi’s 61 percent stake.
Wedbush Securities expects Activision’s stock to outperform once the deal is completed, with a 12-month price target of $22 per share.
“While some investors may have concerns about declines for the company’s core businesses, we remain fans of Activision Blizzard. The company communicates clearly, executes well, and its management appears to truly understand how to make money,” said Wedbush is a recently released note.
The HTC One Max will go on sale globally later this month and is the company’s latest attempt to rescue its smartphone business. The Android handset is essentially a larger version of HTC’s critically acclaimed One flagship phone, with otherwise similar specs.
Unlike the HTC One, the One Max can be locked or unlocked with a touch on its fingerprint scanner. The scanner can also be used to launch up to three favorite apps, each triggered by a different finger, HTC said on Monday.
The phone has a 5.9-in. 1080p HD screen, a quad-core 1.7 GHz processor from Qualcomm, and 2GB of RAM. The front-facing camera has a resolution of 2.1 megapixels, while the 4 megapixel rear-facing camera uses HTC’s UltraPixel design, which the company says uses a larger image sensor to offer better low-light performance.
Talk time on the WCDMA version of the phone can reach 25 hours on its 3300 mAh battery. The One Max also has a microSD card slot for expandable memory, a feature not found in the U.S. version of the HTC One. It will be on sale in 16GB and 32 GB versions.
The HTC One Max arrives just a month after Samsung unveiled its own large-screen phone, the Galaxy Note 3. The Note 3 has a slightly smaller screen than the One Max, at 5.7 inches, with a 13-megapixel camera rear-facing camera, 3GB of RAM, and a 3,200 mAh battery.
HTC and its Korean rival have been sparring on product strategy, and both have previously launched smaller versions of their flagship phones. In HTC’s case, it was called the HTC One mini and unveiled in July.
Despite positive reviews for its phones, HTC has been struggling to lift its earnings. Earlier this month, it posted a loss of about $101 million in its third quarter.