After four years of double- and triple-digit growth, worldwide tablet shipments this year will grow by just 6.5% over last year, according to IDC. The research firm had previously forecast 12.1% growth.
The tablet market is maturing and long-term trends are becoming clearer, said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets.
More money is being spent on cheap laptops, smartphones or wearables, and people are keeping tablets longer than expected, Bouchard said.
“We originally thought the [ownership cycle] was two years. We realized it was closer to three years,” he said.
In addition, users aren’t discarding older tablets and are instead handing them down to their kids.
Meanwhile, laptop prices are also coming down fast, and putting pricing pressure on tablets, especially in Europe, Bouchard said.
In the last month a plethora of sub-$250 tablets running Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Bing started shipping. Microsoft is helping PC makers build cheap laptops to battle threats from Chromebooks, Android and iOS and is offering the OS royalty free.
Interest is swaying in the direction of smaller-screen tablets, and those looking for larger screens are moving to laptops, Bouchard said.
“As you move up in screen size, you move towards productivity. The keyboard is becoming more important,” Bouchard said.
Tablet shipments will continue to grow in emerging markets, at a 12% rate, driven by small screen, low-cost tablets from Chinese companies. Shipments in mature markets, where buyers are moving to larger-screen devices, remain flat.
Buyers are increasingly considering wearables and smartphones versus tablets, but more data generated by small-screen devices could ultimately help tablet shipments, Bouchard said.
“Long to medium term, it’s a positive thing, it creates a halo effect, it will generate more data, and you’ll need more screen to visualize the data,” Bouchard said.
IDC’s tablet forecast also accounts for 2-in-1 devices, which can be used as laptops or tablets.
“Most of the developers behind apps that are found to violate our policies have good intentions and agree to make the necessary changes when notified,” said Todd Brix, general manager for the Windows Store, in a blog post yesterday. “Others have been less receptive, causing us to remove more than 1,500 apps as part of this review so far.”
The Windows Store is the official source of Windows 8′s (and 8.1′s) “Modern,” née “Metro” apps, the touch-based programs designed for tablets and touch-enabled notebooks.
Earlier this year, Brix’s team changed Windows Store apps’ certification — the process under which apps are admitted to the market — to require newly-submitted programs be clearly named, properly categorized and appropriately identified with an icon. Those modifications were made, said Brix, to “better ensure that apps are named and described in a way that doesn’t misrepresent their purpose.”
The same requirements have now been extended to apps already in the store.
The timing of Brix’s blog and Microsoft’s efforts to cleanse the Windows Store was no coincidence: More than a week ago, How-To Geek described its probe of the store in a piece titled ”The Windows Store is a Cesspool of Scams — Why Doesn’t Microsoft Care?”
In the story, How-To Geek pointed out worthless apps, some as expensive as $8.99, that did little more than point users to links for downloading Apple’s iTunes (free), Mozilla’s Firefox (also free) and VideoLAN’s VLC Player (yes, free). The publication also found fake — and paid — versions of Adobe’s Flash Player, Google’s Picasa, King’s Candy Crush Saga and Mojang’s Minecraft.
How-To Geek blamed Microsoft for the scam-app pollution. “Here’s one of the most shocking parts of this. People from Microsoft are actually examining each of these scammy apps, checking their content, and approving them,” the site said, pointing out pertinent parts of Microsoft’s certification process.
The apps How-To Geek fingered have been removed from the Windows Store, presumably as part the 1,500 Brix claimed had been bounced out.
How-To Geek’s story was widely cited by other websites, blogs and publications last week, reigniting charges that the Windows Store was packed with junk.
A quick look at MetroStore Scanner, which tracks each day’s new and updated apps, showed that Brix and his team have their work cut out for them. On Tuesday, according to MetroStore Scanner, 12 copies of the free KMPlayer, a media player owned by a Korean TV streaming company, were published to the Windows Store. However, the dozen KMPlayer copies — all using the transparently copycat name of “KM* 5.1 Player” but each with a different icon — were priced at either $0.99 or $1.99.
The real KMPlayer is currently at version 3.9.
MetroStore Scanner’s tally of the number of apps in the Windows Store was approximately 172,000 as of late Wednesday, meaning that the apps removed so far represented less than 1% of the total in the e-mart.
HP is recalling LS-15 AC power cords used with HP and Compaq branded laptops. The company is recalling about 5.6 million power cords in the U.S. and 446,000 units in Canada.
The cord pulls out of one end of the AC adapter. It came with laptops and accessories sold between September 2010 through June 2012, HP said on its power cord recall website.
There have been 29 reports of power cords overheating and melting, which led to claims for minor burns and property damage, HP and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a statement.
Customers are eligible for a replacement at no cost. The power cords are black and can be identified by the tag LS-15, which is on the AC adapter.
Customers can call 1-877- 219-6676, or visit HP’s website for the replacement.
First there was the iPad at around 10 inches and then there was the iPad Mini that is closer to 8 inches. Now Apple Inc is gearing up to roll out a larger, 12.9-inch version of its once dominant iPad for 2015, with production set to begin in the first quarter of next year, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter as saying on Tuesday.
The report comes as Apple struggles with declining sales of its tablets, which are faltering as people replace iPads less frequently than expected and larger smartphones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other rivals have taken a bite out of its sales.
Apple has been working with its suppliers for over a year on larger touch-screen devices, Bloomberg cited the sources as saying.
It is expected to introduce larger versions of its 4-inch iPhone next month, although the company has not publicized plans for its most important device.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.
Australian airlines Qantas Airways Ltd and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd said passengers may use mobile phones and tablets during their flights, after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices on planes.
The airlines said they would begin allowing passengers to use personal electronic devices for the duration of their flight after Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority followed a similar ruling from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2013.
The Australian airlines will hope giving customers almost continuous access to personal devices will increase their appeal as they engage in a price war with each other and other market participants. Currently, passengers are forced to switch off devices until the plane reaches cruising altitude.
The two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week.
“We’re delighted to give Qantas customers the freedom and flexibility to use their personal electronic devices from the moment they board the plane until they disembark,” Qantas Domestic chief executive officer Lyell Strambi said in a statement.
Virgin Australia chief customer officer Mark Hassell said the high number of passengers who travel with a smartphone or tablet shows “how valuable gate-to-gate access is to their overall travel experience”.
The operating system, which Xinhua did not name, will be initially offered on desktop PCs, with the plan to later extend it to smartphones. The news service cited a report in the People’s Post and Telecommunications News, a trade paper run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the agency responsible for, among other things, the regulation and development of China’s software industry.
“We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores,” Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the trade paper, according to a translation by Reuters on Sunday.
Ni leads an official operating system development alliance established in March by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
According to the People’s Post and Telecommunications News, Ni cited the end of Windows XP support and the ban on Windows 8 on government computers as giving domestic OS developers an opening.
Earlier this year, China officials banned the use of Windows 8 on government computers, a move triggered by the end of Windows XP’s support in April. Before that, authorities had blasted Microsoft for halting security updates to the 13-year-old OS.
Historically, China has been a stronghold of Windows XP, in large part because of massive piracy of Microsoft’s software.
China has long been at odds with foreign technology firms, particularly Microsoft and Google — but also at times with Apple — over their impact and influence in the country. But that animus increased significantly last month when government antitrust regulators raided several Microsoft offices, seizing computers and documents in a first step of an investigation. The probe had been prompted by complaints lodged since July 2013 about how Windows and Microsoft Office are bundled, about Windows-Office compatibility and about other unnamed concerns.
The People’s Post and Telecommunications News‘ story (Chinese language version) cited by Xinhua ran on Thursday, and provided more detail about the domestic OS plans.
Ni spelled out a timeline that could replace foreign operating systems on the desktop in one to two years, then in three to five years expand to mobile devices. Private industry, Ni added, may co-fund development of the home-grown OS.
“Creating an environment that allows us to compete with Google, Apple and Microsoft, that is our key to success,” Ni said.
China has worked on a its own OS before: In 2000, Red Flag Linux, which was funded in part by the government’s Ministry of Information, was released. Later that year, Red Flag was mandated as the replacement for Windows 2000 on all government PCs. Tensions at the time between China’s government and Microsoft were at the root of that order.
The company is developing a smart dock through which laptops can wirelessly connect to monitors and external peripherals, it said in a blog entry.
The dock will remove the need to plug HDMI or DisplayPort display connectors directly into laptops. The wireless dock will provide USB 3.0-like speeds to transfer data to external peripherals.
“When you walk in the office with your laptop, it will automatically link with your wireless-enabled monitor or projector to deliver an HD streaming experience without the hassle of plugging into your HDMI or DisplayPort,” Intel said.
The chip maker is also developing technology so wireless monitors automatically start and link up when laptops are within a specific distance. Intel calls this “proximity-based peripheral syncing” technology.
Intel demonstrated the technology in a video accompanying the blog post. Users could also log on with face recognition, without the need to touch the keyboard.
Intel has said most of its wire-free computing will be based on WiGig, a fast-growing wireless data transfer technology. WiGig is considered faster than the latest Wi-Fi technology. Intel is also considering WiGig to connect wireless keyboards and mice to laptops.
The company also wants to get rid of power adapters and is developing wireless charging technologies for laptops. Intel at Computex showed laptops charging on a table equipped with a charging pad based on A4WP’s Rezence magnetic resonance technology.
Intel will talk about wire-free computing for business PCs at the Intel Developer Forum next month in San Francisco. The company will share details about wireless docking and displays as part of vPro, Intel’s platform for managing PCs remotely.
Intel wants to make laptops easier to use, so they are more like smartphones and tablets, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.
“If they don’t make investment like this, an old-school laptop starts looking really old,” McCarron said. “The goal of all this stuff is to make things seamless and transparent.”
The wire-free development also underscores the importance of WiGig, with more companies investing in the technology, McCarron said.
Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are selling laptops priced less than $250 that run on Windows 8.1 With Bing, a royalty-free version of the company’s flagship operating system. Windows 8.1 With Bing is the same as Windows 8.1, but it has Bing as the default search engine in Internet Explorer.
Microsoft is using Windows 8.1 With Bing, which was unveiled in May, to spread Windows to more low-cost PCs and tablets. It’s also an attempt to take on Google’s free Chrome OS, which is used in Chromebooks, the inexpensive and lightweight laptops that are growing in popularity among the Web-based computing audience.
The first PCs featuring Windows 8.1 With Bing were shown at Computex in June. The cheapest is a Lenovo desktop model that costs $225. Laptops start at $249. Microsoft has promised that laptop prices will fall to $199 with HP’s Stream 14 model, which has not been unveiled – though information about it has leaked out.
Some Acer Chromebooks sell for less than $200, but HP, Dell and Lenovo are selling Windows laptops that are priced lower than their Chromebooks. The laptops have basic processors and specifications, much like comparable Chromebooks.
The Windows laptops have common features such as 1366-x-768-pixel resolution screens, hard drive storage and HDMI ports. The processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are good for basic computing and casual gaming, but the laptops do have some deficiencies.
HP is shipping the 15z, a 15.6-in. nontouch laptop, and the Pavilion 10z, which has a 10.1-in. touchscreen. Both are priced at $249.99 and run on low-end AMD processors. Features include Wi-Fi, up to 500GB of hard-drive storage and a maximum of 4GB of memory. The laptops have poor battery life, with the 15z offering 4 hours and 15 minutes, and the Pavilion 10z offering 4 hours.
Lenovo’s G40, which has a 14-in. screen, and the G50-30, which has a 15.6-in. screen, are priced at $249. The laptops have 320GB hard drives, 2GB of memory and Intel’s Celeron 2830 processor, which is based on the Bay Trail architecture.
Dell’s $249.99 Inspiron 15 Non-Touch laptop has no USB 3.0 port but is instead equipped with two USB 2.0 ports. PC makers often sacrifice some hardware features in inexpensive laptops. The Inspiron also has the Celeron 2830 CPU, 500GB of storage and 4GB of DDR3 memory.
The least expensive PC featuring Windows 8.1 With Bing is Lenovo’s Q190 mini-desktop, which is selling for $224.99, compared to $285.99 for the Windows 8.1-only version. The desktops have Intel’s Celeron 1017U processor, which is based on the older Ivy Bridge microarchitecture.
The desktop is priced much lower than the $490 IdeaCentre Q190, which shipped with a Core i3 processor and Windows 8 last year.
Tablets with low-resolution screens are already selling for $45 on Amazon, many of which have single- or dual-core processors from a Chinese chip company called Allwinner.
But the prices could fall under $35 when Allwinner ships its “fully formed” quad-core A33 chip for only $4, said analyst firm Linley Group in a newsletter this week.
The chip’s quad-core processors will deliver better performance than older chips, and be capable of supporting 1280 x 800 displays, the analyst group said. The chip is based on ARM’s Cortex-A7 design and has a Mali-400MP2 GPU, which is capable of rendering high-definition video.
The cheap tablets will likely come from no-name vendors in China, and won’t offer the bells and whistles of Samsung or Apple tablets, but they could increase price pressure on brand names like HP and Acer, which have entry-level tablets priced around $100.
They’ll be most suited to first-time buyers or users who aren’t picky about hardware or software but certainly not power users, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. That’s because they’ll likely have limited memory, storage and fewer ports than more expensive devices.
“Users eventually will move up in performance,” McGregor said.
The tablets would almost be disposable items, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.
And they could be here soon.
Mass production of the chip has already begun and prototype tablets have already been built.
A lot would come from Shenzhen, China, where a bulk of the device development is taking place, said Brookwood.
“This Shenzhen ecosystem, it’s absolutely scary what they are doing,” he said. “They operate on very thin margins. The kind of margins that no U.S. vendor can think about running on.”
The no-name tablets usually don’t come with customer support, and some may not have the Google Play store.
The vulnerability means that on the surface, it looks like the popups and advertisements are coming from the websites users are visiting, when they are actually coming from the fake Evernote web extension.
Researchers at the company discovered the vulnerability in a “multi-plug .PUP” file, which installs the fake Evernote browser extension.
A PUP file is one that has the .pup file extension and is most commonly associated with the Puppy Linux operating system. PUP files run when an installer program is opened on the user’s computer and they are similar to the installer.exe files that are used with Windows applications.
“A quick look shows the PUP is digitally signed by ‘Open Source Developer, Sergei Ivanovich Drozdov’, although the certificate has since been revoked by the Issuer. This serves as another reminder that you can’t always trust a program just because it’s digitally signed,” said Malwarebytes malware intelligence analyst Joshua Cannell.
“Clicking ‘Visit website’ directs the user to the Chrome webstore page for the actual Evernote Web extension,” Cannell added. “Chrome believes the real extension is installed, as verified by the Launch App button. When clicking this button with the fake extension installed, nothing happens, whereas normally the user is met with an Evernote login screen.”
Cannell explained that this is because the extension uses a content script to run in the context of the webpages a user browses.
“The content script is guaranteed to be loaded into every web page using the extension manifest (manifest.json). When visiting webpages, you’ll get a series of annoying advertisements, all leading to potentially more unwanted programs and offers,” he added.
To remove the extension, Chrome users need to visit the extensions tab in the browser and click the picture of a garbage can.
Evernote hit the headlines for its security concerns last year when it emerged that its network had been compromised by hackers.
The online note-taking service issued a password reset for all users after the discovery. It said that it “discovered and blocked” suspicious activity on its network, but claimed that no user data was compromised during the intrusion.
“In our security investigation, we have found no evidence that any of the content you store in Evernote was accessed, changed or lost,” Evernote said.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources, said that Microsoft will deliver a “technical preview” of Threshold late in September or early in October. Previously, Foley had reported that Microsoft would offer a preview of some kind this fall.
Threshold may be officially named “Windows 9″ by Microsoft — the company has said nothing about either the code name or labeled the next iteration of its desktop and tablet OS — although there are arguments for dumping a numerical title because of the possible association with Windows 8, which has widely been pegged as a failure.
“Technical Preview” is a moniker that Microsoft has used in the past for its Office suite. For both Office 2013 and Office 2010, Microsoft used the term to describe an invitation-only sneak peek. Both application suites were later released as public betas prior to their official launch.
Windows, however, has used a different nomenclature. For 2012′s Windows 8, Microsoft called the early looks ”Developer Preview,”"Consumer Preview” and “Release Preview,” all open to everyone. The first was analogous to an alpha, the second to a beta, and the third to a done-but-not-approved release candidate.
Windows 7, however, had used the more traditional “Beta” to describe the first public preview in early 2009. The previous fall, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 7, the firm had seeded an invite-only “pre-alpha” version, also dubbed a Developer Preview, of the OS to programmers and some influential bloggers.
Within hours, the Windows 7 Developer Preview leaked to file-sharing websites. Microsoft may have changed its practices for Windows 8, letting anyone download the first preview, because of the inevitably of leaks.
In an update to her blog of earlier today, Foley added that the “Technical Preview” nameplate notwithstanding, Microsoft would allow anyone to download Threshold/Windows 9 when it becomes available in the next few weeks.
If Microsoft does ship a preview soon and sets its sights on a second-quarter 2015 final release, it will have significantly accelerated the tempo from past practice. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft offered its first previews 12 and 13 months, respectively, and the public beta 8 or 9 months, before launching the operating system.
Eight or nine months from September would be May or June 2015; that, however, assumes that the Technical Preview is of beta quality. The name itself hints at something less.
Microsoft appears eager to put Windows 8 behind it. It has stopped beating the drum about the OS and recently announced that it would not issue any additional major updates. Instead, the firm said last week, it will include improvements or new features in small packets using the same Windows Update mechanism that regularly serves security patches.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said it would accept public comments on its proposed new “net neutrality” rules through Sept. 15, giving the American public extra time to voice their opinions and concerns on how they think Internet traffic should be regulated.
The FCC has received more than 1 million comments already on new rules for how Internet services providers should be allowed to manage web traffic on their networks.
The FCC had set a deadline of July 15 for the initial comments and then September 10 for replies to those initial comments. However, the surge in submissions overwhelmed the FCC’s website and the agency had delayed the first deadline by three business days.
“To ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings, the Bureau today is extending the reply comment deadline by three business days,” the FCC said on Friday, delaying the final deadline for comments to September 15.
The company reported Thursday that its net profit reached $214 million, while quarterly revenue increased 18 percent year-over-year to $10.4 billion.
Although better known as a PC maker, Lenovo has been making major gains selling mobile handsets in its home market of China. It is now the country’s largest smartphone vendor with a 12.5% share of the market, according to research firm IDC.
The second quarter was the first time Lenovo smartphones outsold its PCs, with 15.8 million units, the company reported on Thursday.
Lenovo’s handsets still aren’t making as much money as PCs. Almost half its revenue came from selling laptops, while its mobile devices division, which includes tablets, accounted for only 15% of its total revenue in the quarter.
The company’s PC business has in the past been helped by its huge presence in its home market of China. But in the second quarter, Lenovo reported that it was also making gains in PC sales to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
In those markets, the company’s revenue reached $2.8 billion, up from $1.9 billion a year ago.
Lenovo, which currently ranks as the number one PC vendor in the world, is trying to expand in servers and mobile devices. Earlier this year, the company announced it would acquire Google’s Motorola Mobility, and IBM’s x86 server business.
Lenovo is still working with regulators to get approval for those deals.
OPENSSL, the web security layer at the center of the Heartbleed vulnerability, has been issued with a further nine critical patches.
While none are as serious as Heartbleed, patching is recommended for all users according to an advisory released today. The vulnerabilities stem from various security research teams around the web including Google, Logmein and Codenomicom, based on their reports during June and July of this year.
Among the more interesting fixes involves a flaw in the ClientHello message process. If a ClientHello message is badly fragmented, it is vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack which could be used to force the server to downgrade itself to the TLS 1.0 protocol, a fifteen year old and therefore pre-Heartbleed patch variant.
Other reports include memory leaks caused by denial of service attacks (DoS) and conversely, crashes caused by an attempt to free up the same portions of memory twice.
OpenSSL now has two full time coders as a result of investment by a consortium of Internet industry companies to form the Core Infrastructure Initiative, a not-for-profit group administered by the Linux Foundation. The Initiative was set up in the wake of Heartbleed, as the industry vowed to ensure such a large hole would never be left unplugged again.
While OpenSSL is used by a large number of encrypted sites, there are a number of forks of the project including LibreSSL and the recently launched Google BoringSSL.
Google recently announced that it would be lowering the page rankings of unencrypted pages in its search results as an added security measure.
Bill Gates has unloaded another 20 million shares of Microsoft, the technology giant he co-founded, driving his portfolio under the 300-million mark for the first time, according to regulatory filings.
Over a five-day span from July 24 to July 30, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $43.45 to $44.54, turning the holdings into $882 million in cash. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published the sales documents between July 28 and July 31.
Gates, former CEO and chairman, has been selling approximately 80 million shares annually — usually 20 million each quarter — for the last decade in a long-standing plan to fund the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has pledged to give away the bulk of his wealth.
At the end of his latest sales stretch, Gates owned 298 million shares worth $12.9 billion at Monday’s closing price. If Gates continues his sales pace, he will empty his portfolio by September 2018.
Gates ceded the title of largest Microsoft shareholder in April, when his holdings dipped under the 333 million owned by ex-CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, who has promised to pay $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team, has about $14.4 billion in Microsoft stock.
Both men remain on the company’s board.
Since Gates vacated his role as chairman in February to become an advisor to new CEO Satya Nadella, Gates has been almost entirely in the background at Microsoft. He has remained in the news, however, most recently in a report from China that he will help start a philanthropic education program in that country.
According to Forbes, Gates is the second-richest person on the planet, with an estimated wealth of $79.5 billion.