È Android, il Windows dei nostri giorni? I parallelismi che si possono fare osservando i due sistemi operativi sono, effettivamente, diversi. Ma al di là di tutte le somiglianze, saprà Android avere la stessa longevità del software Microsoft?

Ne discutono Alex Wilhelm e Josh Constine su TechCrunch.com

 

Android Is The New Windows

A flexible, customizable operating system that’s farmed out to third-party hardware makers and dominates market share but not profits? You’re not the only one experiencing déjà vu. The parallels of Android and Windows are striking. But can that which is unique about Android save it from the fate befalling Microsoft’s stumbling OS?

Let’s look at the similarities between the Android of today and the Windows 95 of … ’95:

  • Android is a growing platform with endless form-factor diversity (or fragmentation, depending on how you look at it) and strong OEM support, just like Windows has had and still enjoys.
  • Android’s flexibility for users and developers created an explosion in app variety, but also an unruly app store with a growing issue with malware. The same was true of Windows during the early days of the Internet.
  • Android, like Windows before it, followed Apple into its market by leaning on third-party hardware firms. The plan helped both to surpass Apple’s hardware shipments. Android tablets currently outsell the iPad globally more than two to one.
  • OEMs looking to boost per-device profit tweak the Android operating system and often cut at its daily functionality by over-skinning the platform among other similar issues. Windows PCs still suffer from the same issue, as OEMs pump them full of crappy bloatware before delivering them to consumers.
  • Android devices are often cheaper than iOS units, but at the same time can compete at the higher price and quality tiers. Just as it has long been simple to pick up a cheap laptop that runs Windows, you can also spend untold sums on a gaming or media machine that can handle anything you throw at it if you want. That wasn’t true with Mac, and it isn’t true now with iOS. But if you want to buy a massive-screened Android you can.

Perhaps the most important point of the Android and Windows comparison is that of longevity. Windows has been around since 1985. Hardware-based operating systems last.

Just as computers have changed since 1985, so has Windows. And smartphones and tablets will change, too. But we still have PCs, and we’ll still have smartphones and tablets in a decade. Android is currently using a similar strategy to Microsoft’s Windows play to take over the hottest two segments in hardware and software.

People now say that, while Android has huge market share, it’s iOS that is beloved and profitable. But if history repeats itself, the smartphone wars will be decided less by short-term profits and app figures, and more by who will control the smartphone world in five, 10 and 15 years. That’s increasingly looking like Android.

And it’s firmly ironic that Microsoft is currently working to build tablet and smartphone market share against Android, which is using its old playbook against it. If only Microsoft had taken its own advice sooner.

Cosa avrà di nuovo il prossimo iPhone? Quella di un sensore di lettura di impronte digitali sembra non essere la solita notizia data “per certa” che poi viene prontamente smentita, ma qualcosa che si avvicina molto alla verità.

Ce ne parla Jacob Kastrenakes in un articolo per The Verge

 

Apple references iPhone fingerprint sensor in latest iOS 7 beta

Apple’s next iPhone has been rumored to include a built-in fingerprint scanner, and code within the latest iOS beta seems to suggest that something is in the works. Developer Hamaz Sood has seemingly uncovered references to a biometric scanner located within the iPhone’s home button. The alleged code is part of what looks to be a setup process for such a sensor: it describes users touching their thumb to the iPhone’s home button, and watching an image of a thumbprint change colors.

Sood has previously been responsible for uncovering hidden tweaks within iOS and developing tweaks of his own. But while features are sometimes hidden away in beta code, they don’t always surface in public releases. The next iPhone has also been rumored to include a dual-LED flash, a slightly larger battery, and a high-speed camerafeature. There’s no word yet on when Apple will be debuting its next phone, but previous years have found iPhone announcements happening in mid-September and early October.

 

iWatch, smartphone da polso, braccialetti su cui consultare il meteo, postare i propri pensieri su FB, scattare foto, conoscere la propria pressione sanguigna e mille altro ancora… Considerando i diversi prodotti in uscita, la tendenza pare proprio questa. Magari in attesa di quello di Apple…

Anche se chi scrive non è appassionato di queste polsiere ipertecnologiche stracolme di accessori e funzionalità, i tentativi meritano comunque una menzione. In particolare questo dispositivo chiamato “Smile” è interessante perché si serve della tecnologia NFC (Near Field Communication), utilizzata per i pagamenti “contactless”.

Per saperne di più, si veda questo articolo di Florian per Actinnovation.com.

 

Smile : le premier smartphone qui se porte au poignet

Imaginé et conçu par EmoPulse, Smile est bien plus qu’une montre high tech. Avec son écran tactile courbé, Smile est le premier smartphone qui se porte au poignet comme un bracelet. Un peu voyant je vous l’accorde…

Plus fort qu’une smartwatch, Smile intègre toutes les fonctionnalités d’un smartphone. Téléphone, Internet 4G, SMS, eMails, Facebook, Twitter, lecteurs MP3 et vidéo, bref tout y est ! Trois caméras complètent le système pour effectuer des appels en mode visio, prendre des photos haute définition et scanner des codes-barres ou des QR codes.

Smile est également capable d’analyser votre humeur, de savoir si vous êtes stressé ou détendu. Bourré de technologie, ce bracelet peut aussi surveiller votre santé ou vous aider à suivre votre régime alimentaire. Véritable réveil chronobiologique, Smile contrôle votre repos en analysant vos phases de sommeil.

Embarquant la technologie de paiement sans contact NFC, Smile permet également de régler vos achats en toute simplicité.

Enfin, cet hybride entre le smartphone et la smartwatch permet d’emmener toutes vos données avec vous grâce à sa mémoire flash pouvant aller jusqu’à 256 GB.

Le prototype fonctionnel de Smile est pour le moment basé sur le système d’exploitation Linux. Probablement l’une des principales faiblesses de ce gadget au regard des milliers d’applications mobiles déjà disponibles sur iOS ou Android.

Pour les technophiles ou les fans de science-fiction, Smile est d’ores et déjà disponible en précommande via une campagne de crowdfunding sur la plateforme Indiegogo (480 dollars pour le modèle 128GB et 550 dollars pour le modèle 256GB).

Les premières livraisons sont prévues pour fin 2013 si l’objectif de 300 000 dollars est atteint !

Ricaricare il telefono mentre si sorseggia un caffé nero bollente e si sbocconcella un Blueberry Muffin seduti al tavolino di un bar. Per ora lo possono fare solo gli avventori di 10 Starbucks sparsi nella Silicon Valley dove si sta sperimentando un nuovo sistema di ricarica wireless. Se la sperimentazione andrà a buon fine, tra qualche tempo, si potrà ricaricare il proprio smartphone in uno dei tantissimi locali della catena sparsi per il globo (Italia a parte, dove pare non abbia nessuna intenzione di aprire…).

Diciamo che  Starbucks non è nuovo a sfide del genere, specialmente quando si tratta di offrire soluzioni innovative ai propri clienti. Più di un decennio fa, quando il wi-fi era ancora una novità, la compagnia di Seattle non aveva esitato a rendere la connessione gratuita e libera per tutti nei suoi locali.

Altri particolari nell’articolo di Ina Fried per AllThingsD

 

Starbucks Ups the Stakes in Battle Over Wireless Charging

After a test in Boston, Starbucks is bringing wireless cellphone charging to a handful of coffee shops in Silicon Valley next month.

Customers at 10 stores — at least those with the necessary add-on sleeves — will be able to give their phones a quick boost while they drink their tea or coffee.

Starbucks is hoping to spur the wireless charging industry in much the same way it did with Wi-Fi more than a decade ago. And, as it did with the Wi-Fi standard, Starbucks is also potentially shifting the balance of power in a standards battle.

For both the Boston and San Jose tests, Starbucks is using technology compatible with the Power Matters Alliance — one of at least three different competing standards for wireless charging.

Starbucks is working with Duracell Powermat, a key backer of the PMA standard. While PMA has the backing of Starbucks, Duracell, AT&T and a number of phone makers, it is the rival Qi standard — backed by the Wireless Power Consortium — that is used on the Nexus 7, as well as current phones from Nokia and others.

Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said Starbucks thinks it has made the best choice in going with the PMA standard, but noted that the company hasn’t yet committed to a broader rollout.

“It was our first and best guess in terms of the right format,” Brotman said. “It is a great testing partnership, and it could get much bigger than this, but we are going to wait and see how the tests go.”

Because few people actually have the necessary hardware for wireless charging, Starbucks has been working with Duracell Powermat to give away charging sleeves to frequent Starbucks customers who live near the stores.

Backers of the Qi standard note that they have the early lead in devices in the marketplace, as well as lots of products for the home and office — the location where most charging takes place. WPC Chairman Menno Treffers questioned Starbucks’ move to support a standard not built into devices.

“It does not make business sense for coffee-shops to deploy wireless chargers that are incompatible with the phones and tablets that people carry,” Treffers said in a statement. “Qi is the standard used in all phones and tablets that support wireless charging.”

Duracell Powermat Chairman Stassi Anastassov said plenty of PMA-compatible products are on the way, with AT&T pledging to support the standard next year, along with a number of device makers.

Anastassov said his company is glad to be working with Starbucks to roll out the technology and to bring greater awareness about wireless charging.

“We’re trying to deliver on a consumer need that unfortunately everybody needs, but few people are aware that they can do something about it,” Anastassov said.

As for the standards issue, he said consumers will eventually pick the winner.

“Ultimately, standards are not won by discussions –- they are won in the marketplace,” Anastassov said.

 

 

Mezze verità, fughe di notizie, smentite ufficiali, immagini fuori fuoco. No, non stiamo parlando dell’ultimo avvistamento UFO nei cieli del Nevada o dell’Arizona, ma del mistero che aleggia intorno all’uscita (se mai avverrà) del nuovo iPhone Low Cost.

Il passo è più difficile di quanto sembri. Cedere sulla qualità dei materiali, rinunciare al posizionamento alto, “abbassarsi” ai concorrenti asiatici, creare utenti Apple di serie A e di serie B? Queste le domande che forse affollano le menti degli strateghi marketing di Cupertino.

Intanto nell’articolo di Sean Fitzgerald per Mashable appaiono addirittura le prime foto di un ipotetico packaging…

 

Could This Packaging Confirm Apple’s Rumored Budget iPhone?

An image of what appears to be plastic retail packaging for Apple’s rumored budget iPhonehas surfaced on Chinese discussion forum WeiPhone.

There is speculation that the so-called iPhone 5C is the budget, plastic-encased device that would join the updated iPhone 5 — expected to be called the 5S — as part of Apple’s fall product reveal. The image was first noticed by French gadget site Nowhereelse.fr.

What’s more, some sites are reporting that the C could stand for “color,” as the budget phone is reported to come in a variety of hues..

Nowhereelse notes that the user who uploaded the image on WeiPhone also mentioned the device in an earlier forum post.

Based on previous rumors that Mashable has covered, the budget handset is expected to look like a combination of the iPhone 5, the latest iPod touch and the iPod classic.

Apple has not confirmed reports about the rumored budget iPhone.

 

Quanto bene conoscete il vostro iPhone ? L’avete analizzato in ogni sua funzionalità o vi accontentate di utilizzare quelle basic, evitando di lanciarvi in esplorazioni da cui temete di non riuscire a tornare indietro?

Uno dei meriti riconosciuti a Apple è senza dubbio l’intuitività di certe funzioni, in modo che l’utente medio – “non smanettone”, per intenderci – arrivi naturalmente attraverso l’utilizzo a compiere un certo numero di operazioni. Un macrocosmo che si svela piano piano e che mostra al suo interno – se si ha la curiosità di guardarci dentro – un’infinità di sottolivelli e di combinazioni.

Io stesso sono perfettamente consapevole di conoscere e sfruttare sono una parte delle enormi potenzialità presenti tanto nel mio Mac come nei diversi dispositivi mobile (iPhone e iPad) che girano fra casa e ufficio. Una prima conseguenza di questa conoscenza imperfetta è il mix di disprezzo e compassione che la componente più tecnologica del team di Cloud In Touch mi riserva quotidianamente, guardandomi come si può guardare una Ferrari (cioè i dispositivi Apple) a cui hanno montato un ruotino di scorta (cioè io).

Vi chiedo di fare un piccolo test. Leggete le seguenti 10 funzionalità “nascoste” elencate da Kelly Sheridan per InformationWeek.com e poi – con sincerità – fate il conto di quante ne eravate a conoscenza.  A quel punto domandatevi se anche voi siete un po’ “il ruotino di scorta” montato su una Ferrari o invece esploratori senza paura…

 

10 Hidden iPhone Tips, Tricks

1. How Well Do You Know Your iPhone?

Not too many years ago, it was nearly impossible to imagine a phone, computer, camera, video camera, arcade, calendar and MP3 player combined into a single handheld device. Now that we have these devices, it seems just as difficult to imagine living without them.

Apple’s iPhone isn’t so much a cellphone as it is a life companion. With iPhones we play games while waiting for appointments, capture moments on video, listen to music or novels while commuting, and engage with friends via phone, text messaging and social media. We plan our schedules, make dinner reservations and figure out how to get from place to place.

Since many of the iPhone’s capabilities can be discovered through everyday use, lots of users believe that they have their phones all figured out. However, the device is tricky — it boasts some features that are still unknown to even the most ardent Apple fans.

A few once-hidden iPhone functions have made their way into the spotlight. For example, screen shots: You probably know by now that you can capture an image of your iPhone’s screen by pressing the home and power buttons simultaneously.

If you do a lot of texting, you may also know that you can turn off the message preview on your SMS alerts by going to Settings > Notifications > Messages and switching off the toggle next to “Show Preview.” This is a popular option for those who don’t want wandering eyes to read their text messages on their unattended phone.

Still, when I took a poll of my iPhone-user friends, I was surprised to discover that many were unaware of one of my favorite features: the quick scroll-up. When you find yourself at the bottom of a lengthy article or your iTunes library, you don’t have to manually scroll back to the top of the page. Simply tap the time at the top of the screen (as shown in the image here) to instantly get back to the beginning. This trick saves a lot of time — and thumb power.

Whether you have the iPhone 3, the iPhone 5, or something in between, there are simple ways to get more out of your smartphone investment. Take a look at these subtle but handy iPhone tricks and see if there’s a way to use your phone that’s new to you.

2. This Way Up

You’ve likely experienced the frustration that occurs when your iPhone can’t decide which way is up. As you change sitting positions or lie down, it switches back and forth from portrait to landscape, regardless of whether you want it to stay in one place.

Stop this pesky screen rotation by first double-clicking the home button, which will display a list of recently opened apps. Swipe the list from left to right. This will reveal a set of music controls and a gray square with a circular arrow on the left. Tap that gray square and you’ll see a message on the bottom that says “Portrait Orientation Locked.” Your screen will no longer flip. Note that the screen cannot be locked into landscape mode, only portrait.

3. For The Math Whiz

Most people don’t regularly need a scientific calculator, and for them the standard iPhone calculator is good enough for everyday use. For those that need it, though, the iPhone does come with the scientific version. Simply go into the iPhone calculator and turn the phone to landscape mode to use it. Keep in mind that if your phone is locked into portrait mode, you must first unlock it to use the scientific calculator.

4. Get Your Week On Track

Stay on schedule with a full calendar view of your weekly plans. First enter the built-in iPhone calendar app in portrait mode. When you see the monthly view, tilt the phone into landscape mode. The monthly view will transform into a detailed display of your scheduled events for the week. The events are color-coded according to work/home, etc. (Again, remember to unlock portrait mode before using this feature.)

5. Message Alert

As a former BlackBerry user, I was a bit disappointed that my new iPhone didn’t have a blinking light to silently inform me when a message was waiting. As it turns out, I was wrong. The LED camera light on the back of the iPhone can be set to flash when messages are received. To set yours, go to Settings > General > Accessibility. Under the Hearing category, switch on the toggle next to “LED Flash for Alerts.”

6. Create-Your-Own App

Want a quick route to a website that you visit daily? You don’t have to enter Safari every time you want to access it — instead, turn that website into an app that you can access from your home screen. To do this, visit the page in Safari and tap the menu button at the bottom of the screen (it looks like a rectangle with an arrow coming out of it). Select the button that says “Add to Home Screen” and give the app a name.

7. Great Camera Quality With Minimal Effort

The iPhone camera is pretty good, but some environments don’t lend themselves to quality picture taking. With high-dynamic range (HDR) photography, the camera alters the image as it is being taken. The result is a photo that is the best possible quality, given your environment.

In HDR mode, the camera takes three pictures in rapid succession. Each image uses a different level of exposure: one for dark areas, one for light and one for midtones. After taking all three, the iPhone takes the best qualities of each image and stitches them together to produce a single high-quality image. If you’re not happy with the final result, the phone saves both HDR and non-HDR versions of the picture.

To turn on this setting, select Options when the phone is in camera mode and turn on the HDR toggle. Note that this mode is best for up-close and outdoor portraits, and in dark environments (without flash). Do not use HDR in bright, sunlit conditions or when moving.

8. I’ll Call You Back

With the “Reply With Message” function, you can respond to a caller with a text message when you’re unable to answer the phone.

When you receive a call, you should see a phone icon next to the green Answer button. Swipe up on that icon and select “Reply With Message.” You’ll see a list of three messages, one of which you can choose to instantly send to the caller. There’s also an option for you to create a custom message at the time of the call. While you send the text message, the caller is directed to voice mail.

To personalize a pre-written message, go to Settings > Phone > Reply With Message. You can replace any of the listed messages with one of your own, as in the image on the left.

9. Tap Now, Read Later

With Safari’s Reading List, you can tag pages you want to save and read them later. When you want to save a page, tap the menu button at the bottom of the screen and select “Add to Reading List.” To access it later, enter Safari and select Bookmarks > Reading List.

10. Grammatically Correct In Any Language

Apple’s iPhone lends itself to global languages. Whether you’re bilingual or simply want to describe your favorite ethnic food, you can type with accuracy. Simply hold your finger down on the letter you want to change. A variety of versions of that letter in different languages will appear.

 

L’acerrima competizione per guadagnare fette di mercato ha reso il settore degli smartphone un luogo davvero difficile per fare affari. È estremamente faticoso farsi ascoltare dai consumatori/utenti, ormai sommersi da offerte – sempre più complesse e sofisticate – di nuove applicazioni e nuovi servizi mobile. Come accade quando non si sa più che strada prendere, ci si volta e si guarda al passato. La nuova Terra Promessa del business allora è quella dei “dumbphone”, i vecchi e “ottusi” telefoni cellulari, ormai ai margini del mercato che nelle nostre società di consumo. Mai prodotto era caduto così rapidamente in basso. Modelli superapprezzati solo qualche anno fa (pensiamo a certi Motorola) ora sono trattati peggio dei paria: li guardiamo con un misto di fastidioso disprezzo e vergogna, quasi volessimo dimenticare che anche noi ne avevamo uno in tasca. Telefoni dalle funzionalità basic (se paragonati ai moderni smartphone) che nei mercati di Paesi emergenti non sono caduti in disgrazia.

Quelli di Facebook hanno alzato lo sguardo e oltre al modello di telefono, si sono concentrati, invece, sui milioni e milioni di utenti che li usano (tra cui tantissimi africani che non hanno possibilità di entrare nel social network più famoso). Con un nome che assomiglia a una campagna promossa dalla FAO o da qualche agenzia internazionale per la cooperazione e lo sviluppo, meno di un anno fa la società di Palo Alto ha lanciato Facebook for Every Phone. Ora ne raccoglie in frutti con 100milioni di nuovi utenti possessori di dumbphone iscritti al social network.

Così ci spiega l’articolo di Christopher Mims per Quarts

 

The biggest opportunity in mobile right now isn’t on smartphones

Facebook has noticed something that other companies would do well to heed: The biggest opportunity right now isn’t in smartphones, where users are bombarded by the fruits of anever-more-competitive market for apps and mobile services. Rather, the big play for some companies, especially any that wish to expand into emerging markets, is on the “dumbphones” — aka non-smartphones or, in industry parlance, feature phones — that most people in rich countries have now left behind.

We’ve known for some time that Facebook’s strategy for grabbing its “next billion” users is to convince them that Facebook and the web are one and the same by making access to Facebook free on every model of phone. But now Javi Olivan, head of “growth and analytics” at Facebook has dribbled out a handful of other interesting details about Facebook’s strategy.

The first is that, since Quartz reported on it a year ago, Facebook’s push to get onto feature phones, which still comprise half of all phone sales worldwide, has accelerated. The service Facebook is working on is called Facebook for Every Phone, and it allows people with data plans on their feature phones to have smartphone-like experiences while using Facebook, meaning they get images, updates, chat and more. The secret is that most of the processing for Facebook For Every Phone is done on Facebook’s servers, in the cloud, and a minimal stream of data is trickled out to feature phones, which tend to be on slower networks in emerging markets.

Facebook for Every Phone is now on 100 million feature phones, which means almost a tenth of Facebook’s billion-plus users are accessing Facebook through devices on which Facebook isn’t normally accessible.

The second thing about Facebook’s push onto feature phones is that more and more of these devices can access the web. As Ran Makavy, head of Facebook’s feature phone initiative, told The New York Times, it wasn’t long ago that only about 2% of all feature phones could access the web. Now that figure is more like 25%, and he thinks “there is a pretty long runway still.”

In other words, billions of people the world over are going to start accessing the web through their feature phones, and in the rush to equip people with the latest and greatest, web experiences on these devices are likely to be an under-served market. Facebook is happy to occupy this space, but other companies should be, too, such as Jana, which is arguably the largest payment platform on earth, and can reach 2 billion people in emerging markets.

One issue, as always, with emerging markets, is that consumers here do not have as much disposable income as people in rich countries. Facebook just rolled out a platform to advertise to people in emerging markets via — among other services — Facebook for Every Phone, but it’s not clear yet how lucrative this effort will be. Even if Facebook can’t make money on these nascent web users right away, convincing them that Facebook is integral to the web is the sort of trick that will help the company continue to grow as these consumers graduate to smartphones, tablets and other more sophisticated means to connect.

Dati Q3, 2013. Pur con qualche difficoltà, nel confronto con due colossi della consumer technology come Microsoft e Google, Apple rimane ampiamente prima per risultati come ci spiega Aaron Souppouris nel suo articolo per The Verge.

 

How Apple’s profits stack up against Google and Microsoft

With Apple’s earnings posting today, and Microsoft’s and Google’s last week, we now have the financial results for three of the largest consumer technology companies in the world. It’s safe to say that the second quarter of 2013 has been a tough one for all involved.

All three companies disappointed in some areas, but nonetheless remain extremely profitable. Google’s wealth grew significantly this quarter, but even with revenue and profit growth pegged at around 15.5 percent year-over-year, Wall Street were left cold; revenues and profits fell short of expectations.

Microsoft, on the other hand, was always unlikely to see profits drop year-over-year: last year’s calendar Q2 saw a huge $6.19 billion “goodwill impairment charge” related to its disastrous acquisition of aQuantive. That said, relatively static Windows revenue, despite the launch and continued push of its Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems, and a $900 million write-off on its Surface RT tablet, gave investors cause for concern.

Apple also had a troubling quarter, with flat revenues and significantly lower profits than this time last year. The company is making far less revenue per device than it has done in the past, and that’s impacting it’s bottom line significantly.

Q2 may have been a difficult quarter, but It’s fair to say that none of the three are really struggling. Net profit margins — a tricky figure to use comparatively — are healthy, revenues are high, and profits remain astronomical.

Sono stati pubblicati i dati relativi all’andamento di Apple nel Q3 (1 aprile – 30 giugno) del cosiddetto fiscal year, il periodo indicato per calcolare i rendiconti finanziari annuali. Si registra una contrazione rispetto allo stesso periodo dell’anno precedente, specie nelle vendite nei mercati asiatici (Cina in testa) e in Europa. D’altra parte aumentano in maniera decisa le vendite in mercati quali Russia e Giappone (+66%).
Alcuni dati del terzo trimestre. Se iPhone guadagna rispetto all’anno passato, passando da 26 a 31.2 milioni di pezzi venduti nel Q3 2013, iPad per la prima volta vede diminuite le vendite, passando da 17 del Q3 2012 a 14,6 milioni dell’ultimo trimestre. Analogo discorso per i Mac, passati da 4 milioni a 3,75 milioni di unità vendute nel mondo.
Le ragioni sono senz’altro molteplici: 1) concorrenti sempre più agguerriti (specie nel settore del mobile), 2) una crisi economica che contrae la possibilità di spesa dei consumatori in mercati di punta (Europa in testa), 3) un prezzo dei prodotti mediamente alto (specie per i consumatori di quei mercati emergenti come Russia o Brasile) e 4) l’assenza di prodotti nuovi (e innovativi) che aprono nuove prospettive.
Crescita e contrazione: la storia di Apple di questi ultimi dieci anni è incredibilmente interessante. L’articolo di Dan Frommer apparso su TechCrunch ne fa un’efficace sintesi.

 

Apple’s Growth Rocket Has Hit A Wall. What Will Get It Started Again? 

Apple’s stunning growth over the past decade has been one of the biggest stories in all of tech. Even as the company released new product after new product, and grew larger and larger, its growth rate continued to accelerate, far surpassing its competitors.

For the past ten years, Apple has posted year-over-year revenue growth every quarter, almost always more than 25% and frequently more than 50%. In that span, it’s gone from a company with less than $2 billion in quarterly sales to one with (once) more than $50 billion. For two quarters in a row in 2011, as the iPad and iPhone both picked up steam, Apple posted growth rates above 80% — each quarter representing more than $10 billion in new sales from the year prior. That’s just crazy for a company that big.

But now, that unbelievable growth rocket has come back to earth. Apple’s most recent quarter,reported today, showed just 1% growth over last year. And it’s not a fluke: Growth has sloped down for more than a year. After a great winter in 2011-2012, when Apple’s sales grew 73%, then 59%, it’s been 23%, 27%, 18%, 11%, and now 1%. For its next quarter, Apple expects growth ranging from 3% to a 5% year-over-year decline.

What happened? Some of it’s just funny timing: A product launch early one year then late the next. Inventory adjustments as products mature and markets settle — this played a role in this past quarter’s weakish iPad sales, for example. This year, in particular, Apple has been quiet on the new-gadget front, as design boss Jony Ive rehauls its iOS operating system, presumably for new iPhones, iPods, and iPads in time for Christmas. This is where arbitrary quarterly marking periods can sometimes cloud the lens.

But there’s also been a bigger-picture trend that Apple can’t just replicate: The vast shift towards smartphones and tablets — the “post-PC” revolution. Apple has captured this movement brilliantly, dominating the industry’s sales and profits despite selling relatively fewer, mostly high-end devices. And it may continue to do so. But that first-time adoption cycle isn’t going to happen again. At least not in the markets where Apple is strongest — and where carrier subsidies allow for such high profit margins — like the United States.

So what can Apple do next, assuming it wants to continue to grow? (A safe assumption.)

Cloud_in_touch_apple-growth-decade-chart

One obvious answer is to move downmarket in its existing product lines. This is always a tricky proposition with Apple, because the company swears it would never release a low-quality product that it isn’t proud of. (And it shouldn’t.) So far, this has meant selling old iPhones at reduced prices, which has been pretty successful. But if the growth is happening in even further-downmarket segments, Apple might have to even figure out something cheaper. Where will it draw the line, design- and quality-wise, to compete? We may find out this year if rumored low-cost iPhones are real.

Another possibility, of course, is to blaze into new markets. There’s been speculation for years that Apple will start to sell television sets. The latest chatter is about wearable computers — Apple gadgets for the wrist, à la Nike’s Fuelband.

The nice thing about wearables is that like smartphones — and unlike, say, desktop PCs — they’re the kind of device where everyone in the house will need their own, meaning a larger potential market, people-wise. But unlike mobile phones, there isn’t an established precedent for subsidies, carrier distribution, or even pricing, really. Can Apple design the kind of thing you’d want to wear on your body all day? We’ll see. Will that create the same level of demand, favorable pricing, and high margins that the rise of smartphones did? Probably not. Still, if it’s a hit, it could certainly fuel significant growth for Apple.

So that’s the big question going forward: Can anything propel Apple’s growth the way the iPhone and iPad did over the past 6 years, and the iPod and Mac before them?

Longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster asked a version of that question on today’s earnings call: “Are there product categories out there that are big enough to move the needle for Apple?” Apple CEO Tim Cook’s response: “We’ll see, Gene. We’re working up some stuff that we’re really proud of, and we’ll see how it does.” And, in typical Apple fashion, “We’ll announce things when we’re ready.”

 

PER MAGGIORI INFORMAZIONI SUI DATI Q3, 2013