Apple’s market share grows as Windows Phone continues to drop, Android still king

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has released quarterly data for smartphone market share, and it is again bad news for Windows Phone fans, as the mobile operating system continues its decline in both U.S. and Europe, and barely manages to survive in other markets.

Apple’s market share has been given a great boost by strong sales of the company’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and has continued its growth towards the end of 2014. The three month data survey ending November 2014 shows iOS eating heartily at Android’s sweets, managing to climb at roughly the same performance in the U.S., as shown in the image above.

Android also suffered losses in the Chinese and European markets, the most serious being in the U.K., where it saw a drop from over 60% in June 2014 to just under 50% in only five months, and we have yet to see what happened during the holidays, when iDevices were apparently the most popular gift.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone is hitting new lows in some markets, sitting at 7% in the U.K., 3% in the U.S., and 12.7% in Italy as of November 2014. The mobile OS is almost invisible in China, at a meager 0.6%, but Joe Belfiore has promised to change that in the near future, with special features dedicated to Chinese customers.

We have yet to see how Microsoft’s Lumia 730 and Lumia 830 performed during the holiday sales, but it’s clear that Windows Phone is in dire need of more market penetration. Hopefully the next version of Windows Phone will make the platform more attractive for users and developers alike.

Overall, it looks like Android still holds the crown as the global king of smartphones, especially due to Xiaomi’s contribution in the Chinese market, and satisfied customers of Samsung that are not looking to switch to Apple’s new iPhones.

via Apple’s market share grows as Windows Phone continues to drop, Android still king – Neowin.

Diversified growth gives semiconductor industry its best year since 2010

The semiconductor industry turned in its best performance since 2010 and is on track to grow nearly 10 percent year-over-year according to a new report from market research firm IHS Technology.

The firm expects global revenue to total $353.2 billion, up from just $322.8 billion last year. Looking back over the past several years, revenue increased 1.0 percent in 2011, dropped more than 2.0 percent in 2012 and showed respectable growth of 6.4 percent in 2013.

This year’s growth will be the highest rate of annual growth since the colossal 33 percent realized in 2010.

Dale Ford, vice president and chief analyst at IHS Technology, said this is the healthiest the semiconductor business has been in many years, not only in light of overall growth, but because of the broad-based nature of the market’s expansion.

Last year’s upswing was almost entirely driven by growth in a few specific memory segments but the rise in 2014, Ford added, is built on a widespread increase in demand for a variety of different types of chips.

IHS tracked 28 key sub-segments of the semiconductor market and concluded that 22 of them are expected to expand this year. In comparison, just 12 sub-segments realized growth a year ago.

The big winners this year, DRAM and data flash memory, are projected to rise by nearly 20 percent with Intel, Samsung and Qualcomm leading the charge, in that order.

via Diversified growth gives semiconductor industry its best year since 2010 – TechSpot.

Surging Windows 8.1 overtakes Windows XP usage

Microsoft is doing a fine job of burying Windows XP, but still has a long way to go toward getting people onto the latest version of its operating system.

According to Statcounter, usage of Windows 8.1 narrowly overtook Windows XP in November. That’s partly due to record growth for Windows 8.1, which went from 9.31 percent in October to 10.95 percent last month. Windows XP usage also continued to plummet in its seventh full month without Microsoft support, dropping from 11.95 percent to 10.69 percent.

Further reading: The Windows 8.1 Update finally makes Microsoft’s Metro future PC-friendly

Windows 8.1 is likely benefiting from the back-to-school season, as most new PCs are shipping with the operating system on board. Some Windows 8 users may still be getting around to the free upgrade as well, as Windows 8 usage dropped from 5.94 percent to 4.9 percent in November.

But none of this activity appears to be harming Windows 7, whose usage increased for the second straight month. The five-year-old operating system now accounts for 50.34 percent of desktop usage, so it’s the most popular desktop OS by far.

Another metrics firm, Netmarketshare, also recorded share increases for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 last month, but still shows Windows XP ahead of the latest version by a narrow margin, despite plummeting usage for the ancient OS. It seems likely that Windows 8.1 will land on top for both metrics firms within a month or two.

The story behind the story: On some level, Microsoft is happy as long as it’s selling licenses. (In its push to kill XP, the company has encouraged users to consider either Windows 7 or Windows 8.) But of course, Microsoft would prefer to get users onto the latest version, which is tied more deeply into services like OneDrive and Bing. Expect a major upgrade offensive against Windows 7 next year, with rumors of free or cheap consumer upgrades to the more desktop-friendly Windows 10.

via Surging Windows 8.1 overtakes Windows XP usage | PCWorld.

iPhone 6 first weekend beats last year’s iPhone 5 sales, sets record

For the third September in a row, people around the United States have queued up (physically and virtually) to buy the latest Apple iPhone—and for the third September in a row, Apple has sold a hell of a lot of iDevices. A report this morning from The New York Times indicates that the Cupertino company has delivered more than 10 million shiny new iPhones 6 and 6 Plus, a number that The Times characterizes as being at the high end of analyst expectations.

Further Reading

“I‘m not leaving without a gold one!” Tales from the iPhone 5S line

The smartphone as a fashion accessory leads to stupid histrionics.

Last year, with the introduction of the iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple sold somewhere in the area of nine million devices (though there weren’t as many gold devices as some shoppers would have liked). This year, Apple’s decision to offer larger screens has drawn a large amount of consumer interest—and opening weekend sales that reflect this.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus has been the most difficult device to locate, with projected fulfillment of online orders quickly slipping into October. Apple’s official press release addresses the high demand with this quote from CEO Tim Cook: “While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”

If you’re still trying to decide whether or not you want to take the plunge (or the pludge, as Ars Openforum denizens would say) and buy a new big iPhone, then we’ve got something in the pipe that might help: Ars Apple expert Andrew Cunningham is putting the finishing touches on our iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review at this very moment. It will provide our customary in-depth look at the new devices up in the next day or two, and it’ll tell you everything you need to know!

via iPhone 6 first weekend beats last year’s iPhone 5 sales, sets record | Ars Technica.

Windows 8.1 finally overtakes Windows 8 in usage share

Slowly but surely, Microsoft is getting users to leave Windows 8 behind and move on to Windows 8.1.

According to Netmarketshare, usage of Windows 8.1 reached 6.35 percent of the overall operating system market share in May, finally moving ahead of Windows 8, which snagged 6.29 percent. While Windows 8 usage declined by 0.07 percent last month, usage of Windows 8.1 grew by 0.47 percent.

Another metrics firm, Statcounter, still shows Windows 8 in the lead, but its share also appears stagnant, while Windows 8.1 is on an upward trajectory. Windows 8.1 will probably pull ahead in Statcounter’s figures over the next month or two.

may2014netmarketshare NetmarketshareNetmarketshare’s May 2014 operating system statistics.

More than anything, the shift toward Windows 8.1 likely has to do with new PCs being pre-loaded with the latest software. But the fact that Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade, with some major improvements over Windows 8, may have encouraged some users to grab the new version. The free upgrade to Windows 8.1 has also compelled AMD to stop stop supporting Windows 8.0 with its graphics drivers.

The rise of Windows 8.1 wasn’t the only bit of good news for Microsoft. Both Netmarketshare and Statcounter show Windows XP usage falling by roughly 1 percent over the last month. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April, and has been pushing users to leave the 12-year-old operating system behind.

On the other hand, usage of Windows 7 increased in May, and now accounts for more than 50 percent of all desktop operating system usage according to both Netmarketshare and Statcounter. It is by far the most popular version of Windows available, and when extended support ends in 2020, Microsoft may have to make another Herculean effort to get people to move on.

via Windows 8.1 finally overtakes Windows 8 in usage share | PCWorld.

Kantar: Windows Phone, Android see massive growth at expense of iOS, Blackberry

We’ve already heard that Nokia and Samsung had disappointing fourth quarters, and Apple’s iPhone has been slowly losing market share throughout 2013. So many may be wondering if anyone’s actually winning the smartphone wars since everyone seems to be losing.

Now the latest report from Kantar Worldpanel gives us a clearer picture who is gaining market share and which markets are the most volatile. Kantar’s data is based on the previous three months, ending in December 2013.

First up, checking the tables below, we can easily see that Android has had another phenomenal year, with increased marketshare around the world. In the U.S., Google’s OS managed to increase its presence and is now sitting just shy of 51%. China and Europe have also seen greater adoption of the OS, which is sitting comfortably at 78% and 68%, respectively. However the biggest change occurred in Latin America, where Android saw a 21 percent increase year over year, and it now pretty much owns the market with an 83% adoption rate.

Despite all this, Samsung has had disappointing results lately, mainly due to increased pressure from local manufacturers in China, and more competition in the low-end market from players such as Nokia.

Speaking of Nokia, which practically owns the Windows Phone market, it too has had a good year in terms of adoption. Windows Phone has seen growth almost across the board. The biggest change is in Europe, where Microsoft’s platform has held double digit figures for the last three months of 2013. That’s almost double compared to last year’s results, when Windows Phone only accounted for 5.6% market share. Other markets have also seen growth, but Windows Phone is still very anaemic when it comes to the U.S. and China.

Finally, the year’s biggest market share losers are Blackberry, which is clinically dead, and more surprisingly Apple. The Cupertino company has seen decreases in pretty much every market. Even in the U.S., where it holds the most sway, iOS has seen a 5.8% decrease with most of those users moving to Android. Another big drop was seen in Europe where Apple’s products lost another 5.2% compared to 2012 and are now sitting at 18.5% marketshare.

Already we know Samsung is going on the offensive with the new Galaxy S5 being supposedly launched in the next couple of months, and there are a ton of rumors as to Apple’s upcoming plans. And let’s not forget Microsoft, which now owns Nokia’s smartphone business. All in all, 2014 is shaping up to be a very interesting year in terms of the smartphone race.

via Kantar: Windows Phone, Android see massive growth at expense of iOS, Blackberry – Neowin.

PlayStation 4 was the best selling next-gen console in November according to NPD

While we have already heard from both Sony and Microsoft when it comes to sales numbers of the two new gaming consoles, now official sales tracking firm NPD is ready to sound off on November’s numbers.

As we previously expected, PlayStation 4 was the highest selling console for the month of November. Xbox One, which came in second, was November’s “fastest selling” console according to NPD, with units flying of the shelves at a rate of 101K per day. We know that Sony has sold about 2.1 million new PS4s so far and Microsoft is closer to 2 million even, but NPD notes that when “looking at sales on an average per-week basis, Xbox One actually led PS4.” Even with the one week head start and a much broader number of regions where PS4 is available, Xbox One looks to be keeping things interesting.

NPD reports that last month was the best November for gaming hardware sales in the US due to the launch of the new consoles. Hardware sales generated $1.3 billion, a steady rise of 58% from the $839.1 million brought in this time last year.

NPD also dropped last month’s hottest selling titles saying that software sales in general were down 24% to $1.085 billion from $1.434 billion last year. The month’s top selling games across all platforms in order are as follows: Call Of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Madden NFL 25, and Grand Theft Auto V. The list accounts for collector, GOTY and bundle editions, but not those bundled with hardware.

“This is the fourth consecutive month for an increase in combined physical sales across hardware, software and accessories,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. \”Unlike the past three months where growth was driven by software, positive trends for both hardware and accessory sales drove on overall increase of 7%.”

via PlayStation 4 was the best selling next-gen console in November according to NPD – TechSpot.

Microsoft matches Sony, sells over a million Xbox One consoles in the first 24 hours

Microsoft has managed to sell more than a million Xbox One consoles within the first 24 hours, much like Sony did with the PlayStation 4 a week ago. Redmond launched their next generation console in 13 markets on November 22 with 22 games (10 exclusive titles) which is now sold out at most retailers according to a post on the official Xbox website.

Sales surpassed day one Xbox 360 sales exactly eight years ago which makes it the biggest launch in Xbox history. Microsoft said they are working as quickly as possible to replenish stock to meet customer demand.

Sales figures aside, Microsoft also provided some pretty neat statistics on some of their launch titles. For example, over 60 million zombies have been killed in Dead Rising 3, more than 3.6 million miles driven in Forza Motorsport 5, over 7.1 million combos have been pulled off in Killer Instinct and more than 8.5 million enemies have been defeated in Ryse: Son of Rome.

That doesn’t mean everyone is just sitting on the couch playing games, however. According to Microsoft, more than 43.3 million Fit Points have been earned in Xbox Fitness thus far.

Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Xbox said they are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the globe. It was truly exciting to see fans lined up to get their Xbox One, Mehdi said, and they look forward to fulfilling holiday gift wishes this season.

via Microsoft matches Sony, sells over a million Xbox One consoles in the first 24 hours – TechSpot.

Android powers 81% of smartphones sold, report says

Devices running Google’s Android operating system accounted for 81 percent of all smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter of 2013, according to a study released last week by IDC.

Of the more than 261 million units shipped, just under 140 million were Android phones, the report said. Samsung was far and away the most dominant vendor among Android makers, accounting for about 40 percent of the total, while competitors were restricted to single digits.

Windows Phone gains slowly

Still, author Ramon Llamas downplayed concerns that Samsung’s dominance could have negative effects on the Android ecosystem as a whole.

“As strong as Samsung has been, it still needs smaller vendors for a comparison point both from a feature set perspective and a price point perspective. Depending on who these smaller vendors are, these also help Samsung maintain an aspirational position in the market, leading to sales and market share,” he told Network World.

Android\’s numbers are record-setting, say Llamas and co-author Ryan Reith, but the operating system wasn’t the fastest-growing in the quarter. That title went to Windows Phone, which saw its sales numbers grow by 156 percent on a year-over-year basis to 3.6 percent of the total. BlackBerry’s slide into obscurity continued, having sold 4.5 million devices during the quarter, or less than half of Windows Phone’s 9.5 million.

In spite of Windows Phone’s strong showing, however, Llamas says there’s nothing to suggest that it’s going to overtake Android or iOS anytime soon.

“Triple digit growth is difficult to sustain, even starting from a smaller base,” he says. “The good news is that Windows Phone is making continued progress from where it was a year ago, and that\’s what we need to see.”

“We see Windows Phone having about 10 percent market share by the end of 2017 while Android and iOS will still be very far out,” Llamas added.

Apple’s iPhones saw their market share shrink slightly, dropping to just under 13 percent of the total, or roughly 27 million devices. The fact that 9 million of those sold in a single week at the end of September, however when the iPhone 5S and 5C were released suggests that Apple\’s fourth quarter figures could be considerably more robust.

Apple sales were high despite some indicators trending against its premium-priced devices: Average sale price declined in the third quarter, according to the researchers, reaching $317 a 12.5 percent drop from the previous quarter.

via Android powers 81% of smartphones sold, report says | TechHive.

The so-called ‘death of the PC’

Last week Microsoft announced some decent numbers for their last reporting period.

Cue me getting an equally decent number of messages on Twitter along the lines of: “Ha! You say the PC is dying, but look at Microsoft’s numbers!”

Quite.

Next, a quick Google for the phrase “so-called death of the PC” yields a good few dozen blog posts from my compatriots at other publications. Each of them make the argument that with good Microsoft financial results, the PC can’t be dying.

Ungh. That’s not really what “death of the PC” means. Let me explain…

Options

The whole phrase “death of the PC” is just a convenient hook. The PC isn’t dying — it can’t die, for reasons that I’ll come on to.

Instead of all this, the better way to read what is happening to the industry isn’t that the Microsoft is doing badly; rather it’s to look at how well all of the other guys are doing. On one hand, there are fewer PCs being sold than there used to be, and on the other hand there are more post-PC (smartphones and tablet) devices being sold than there used to be.

This is all about people — mainly consumers, but this affects business users too — having more choice than they used to have.

Here’s a case in point:

We now know that Office 365 in the home-use market is doing rather well, having hit two million subscribers. If you need to have Office at home, and you’re going to buy it, there is no better way of buying it than on subscription. That goes for small businesses too — if you need Office, an Office 365 subscription is fantastic value and totally the best way to buy that product.

But consumers, and via the creeping unstoppability that is “consumerisation of IT”, business users too now don’t have to choose Office at all. They can do other things. In this case they could choose freebie Google Docs, or the equally free Office Web Apps.

It’s not about “death of the PC”, it’s about “the birth of choice”.

In the pre-post-PC era, choice came somewhat less easily. Sure, you could choose to ditch Office for OpenOffice, but oftentimes IT managers felt that to make that choice might end up ending their careers in new and innovative ways. Or, to put it another way, in the pre-post-PC era, the choice was that there was no choice.

Efficiency

Another funny thing that comes up when people talk to me about the death of the PC is the idea that people will be sitting there at their desks tapping out emails on their phones rather than using a PC. Why would anyone do that if they have a perfectly good PC sitting there?

For business use, we have as an industry spent decades making the PC unbelievably good at doing business-y things in business environments. There’s no reason to ditch any of that, and I’m sure that as an industry we’ll continue to make the PC better.

The PC is all about driving commercial efficiency, and it’s that bit that it’s good at. Post-PC devices are all about driving relationships by bringing people more smoothly into contact with the people and the things that they live.

We’ll always have an economy, and as such we’ll always need improvements in commercial efficiency and always need information systems to do it. From that perspective, the PC isn’t dying and never will. (And if it turns out that we don’t have an economy, we have bigger problems than the numbers our favourite tech firms report.)

So from that perspective, we’d expect Microsoft to do well in their enterprise markets, and they appear to be doing so. That should come as no surprise to anyone.

But this choice is not going to go away. Someone whose sole interaction with online services is chatting to friends on Snapchat, selling things on eBay, a spot of online banking, and maybe a splash of email, doesn’t get the same “win” out of a PC, because a PC is designed to serve a commercial market first and not them and their needs.

Hence Microsoft’s challenge to reposition itself as a devices and services company. If people are going to be choosing from Column A or Column B, it makes sense to have products in both Column A and Column B.

Conclusion

In essence, the PC cannot die in this new post-PC, choice-led market because it was never alive. Buying stuff for your hobby on eBay, posting on Facebook, playing games, etc — because those things did nothing for commercial efficiency, and did everything for your relationships, they were post-PC functions. That you could do them on the PC at all was accidental. What you were actually doing there was trying out the services on prototype devices. The real production devices for all that are smartphones and tablets.

So the PC isn’t dying. It’s not going anywhere. What we need is a different phrase to sum this phase of the market up. How about “PC and post-PC? Vive la différence.”