Changing Predictions And Predicting Changes

At the start of a New Year, it’s traditional to try to predict the future. I’m not going to do that.

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. ~ Niels Bohr

I find it hard enough to understand the present, more less predict the future. It seems to me that the present has a way of sneaking up on us while we’re still living in the past.

In fact, predicting the future can often become counter-productive:

… beliefs about the future are so rarely correct that they usually aren’t worth the extra rigidity they impose, and that the best strategy is simply to be aggressively open-minded. Instead of trying to point yourself in the right direction, admit you have no idea what the right direction is, and try instead to be super sensitive to the winds of change. ~ Paul Grahm

So rather than attempt — and fail — to predict the future, I’ll simply share with you a few of the guideposts I use in my quixotic quest to remain open minded about the future:


Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods. ~ Albert Einstein

Rationalizing, Not Rational

The human mind is a delusion generator, not a window to truth. ~ Scott Adams


Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Proverbs in Prose

The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue. ~ Antisthenes

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. ~ Attributed to Mark Twain and probably inspired by Josh Billings


When experts are wrong, it’s often because they’re experts on an earlier version of the world. ~ Paul Grahm


You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes. ~ Moses Ben Maimon Maimonides

You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence. ~ Christopher Hitchens


It is not the writer’s task to answer questions but to question answers. ~ Edward Abbey


Take your work seriously, but never yourself. ~ Dame Margot Fonteyn

Wishing you and yours the very best New Year.

Apple Watch Claim Chowder

People really love to hate Apple. It should be considered a disorder at this point. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

The Apple Watch may or may not fail, but the analysis of the Watch has already failed. People just cannot wait to pronounce judgment. They. Can. Not. Wait. There’s plenty of thoughtful analysis out there, but mostly we’re hearing the same old discredited theories dredged up and reanimated like some horrible army of undead zombies.

About one-fifth of the people are against everything all the time. ~ Robert F. Kennedy

There is something within human nature that immediately has a knee-jerk negative reaction to the new. If we’re not familiar with it; if we cannot understand it, we condemn it. Instead of saying: “I know little or nothing about this, so I’ll learn more and suspend judgement until I do” we instead say: “I know nothing about this…so it must suck.”

People’s reaction to ideas: Bad ideas: “That’ll never work” Good ideas: “That could work” Great ideas: “That’ll never work”

Not only are we terrible at assessing the new, but we seem compelled to share our uninformed opinions with EVERYBODY.

He who knows little quickly tells it. ~ Italian Proverb

Some say it’s wrong to mock those who make obviously stupid statements. There’s no sport in it.

Making fun of Apple’s critics is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope. ~ NOT P. J. O’Rourke

Others focus on more humanitarian arguments:

Do we really need insults at all? Aren’t insults just the precinct of the desperate or powerless, or simply of people too dim-witted to make cogent and logical arguments? Isn’t the whole phenomenon of insults…a sign of the general coarsening of culture? Such concerns are shared by many people, all of them half-witted, imbecilic cretins. ~ Insults Every Man Should Know

Look. These pundits said what they said. If they don’t like it, they can try to explain it away.

The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. ~ Robert Benchley

But don’t expect me to cut them any breaks. If they didn’t want to come off looking stupid, they shouldn’t have said stupid things.

I don’t suffer fools, and I like to see fools suffer.~ Florence King

images-102Intelligent debate is welcome and there are many questions surrounding Apple’s newly announced Apple Watch. But patently dumb allegations should not be debated — they should be mocked. So here are a couple (hundred) of my most unfavorite quotes, in all their glory, arranged sorta, kinda alphabetically by topic. Let the mocking begin.

Author’s Note: Some of the quoted material contains (R rated) curse words. I decided to use verbatim quotes in order to accurately convey their original tone and meaning.

Premature Punditry

I’ve got to start with this one via the Macalope. Dominic Basulto writes “Why I’d never buy an Apple smartwatch (even if Anna Wintour loves it)“. The beauty of this article is that it was written BEFORE Apple’s September 9th Event.

From all the rumors and leaks, it now appears that Apple is going to unveil the mythical iWatch at its much-hyped product launch event on Sept. 9. While nothing has been definitely confirmed … I still wouldn’t buy it.

As the Macalope says:

It’s always best to make summary judgments on things you know nothing about. That’s just logic.

Sameer Singh suggests a different approach.

Never dismiss a new product outright. Attempt to understand why it’s needed. Draw conclusions later. ~ Sameer Singh (@sameer_singh17)

Nah, that’s never going to happen. From the Claim Chowder archives:

Apple begins selling its revolutionary iPhone this summer and it will mark the end of the string of hits for the company. ~ Todd Sullivan, Seeking Alpha, 15 May 2007

Fools never learn.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. ~ Alexander Pope

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance. ~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter

People will always jump to conclusions and judge things that they don’t understand. You have to ignore all of the ignorant people out there. ~ Steve Jobs


Showed my mom a tablet. She instantly got it and bought one. Same with Apple TV. If I showed her this watch…nope. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

Me: Hi mom, I’m back in town. How are you? Mom: I’m watching the Apple event. Me: Finally! Mom: Again! When can I order a watch? Me: !!! ~ Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie)

You’ve got your anecdotes and I’ve got mine. The important thing to remember is that anecdotal evidences is the BEGINNING of inquiry, never the end. Isolated stories can point us toward the truth, but they are not WHOLE truth. In fact, when taken in isolation, anecdotes are more likely to mislead than to lead.

Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. ~ Anonymous

It’s bad to bring in a verdict before all the evidence is in. It’s even worse to bring in a verdict before the trial has even begun.

Battery Life

Apple hasn’t solved the basic smartwatch dilemma, which is that smart watches use up far more energy than dumb watches, and that there’s nowhere to store that much energy in something the size of a watch. Indeed, Apple has made the problem worse, by combining a powerful computer with a very bright, ultra-high-resolution, full-color display. Either of those things would require a lot of energy; both together require a very thick watch and a limited battery life. ~ Felix Salmon

My first knee-jerk reaction to the Apple Event was similar to the above. Apple didn’t announce battery life and I took that as a bad sign. Then I reconsidered. The product doesn’t even exist yet. Apple literally COULD NOT have announced the final battery life figures because they don’t know what they are. So I decided to cool my jets and wait until the numbers are announced. There will be more than plenty of time to criticize the battery life figures once we know what they are. Why start now?

Imaginary obstacles are insurmountable. Real ones aren’t. ~ Barbara Sher

And while we’re waiting for those battery life numbers to appear, let’s chow down on some delicious battery life claim chowder from yesteryear. Yum!

Unless Apple has also developed some new type of power source, such as nuclear cells or magical hamsters on tiny spinning wheels for the iPad, don’t expect the claims about battery life to hold true. ~ John Breeden II, Government Computer News, 28 January 2010

We hate the very idea that our own ideas may be mistaken, so we cling dogmatically to our conjectures. ~ Karl Popper

Charging Cable


Ugh, not another charging cable! ~ Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern)

Having to charge yet another device every day will be a bridge too far for many. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

(T)he user will have to take off the device for 1/3 of his life as well as carry an extra cable around with him. ~ Radio Free Mobile

Oh NO! We won’t have our device available to us for a full one-third of our life!

Admittedly, we’ll be asleep during that time, and dead to the world…

But still! One third of our life! And! And! And! And we’ll have to carry an extra cable! Oh, the horror! Oh, the HUMANITY!


Sheesh. I swear, if Apple made a time machine, we’d all be complaining about it having a proprietary power cable. Sigh.

People thought it was scandalous that the iPhone needed to be charged nightly. Not a deal breaker if worth it. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

Buck up, people. We may not be the Greatest Generation, but I think we can tough it out and suffer through yet another charging cable.

Make it your habit not to be critical about small things. ~ Edward Everett Hale

They that are serious in ridiculous things will be ridiculous in serious affairs. ~ Cato the Elder


A watch playing Coldplay is a bug, not a feature. ~ John Collison (@collision)

Okay, I’ll concede that one.


Wearing a radio directly on the body spooks many people who rationally or irrationally fear the health risks of close electromagnetic radiation. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Oh, for the love of G….

Look, what are you trying to say here? That I’d be more fearful of having all of those “irrationally-perceived-as-dangerous” radio waves at the end of my wrist rather than in my pants pocket right next to my jumbly-wumblies?

Are you freaking kidding me?

Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~ Cowboy wisdom


AppleWatch may have a heart rate monitor but so does every serious athlete already. ~ Eric Perlberg (@eric_perlberg)

We never seem to get this right. It’s not the eggs that make the soufflé, it’s the Chef. Saying “every one already has” a feature is like saying that “every restaurant already has” eggs, therefore, every restaurant is of equal quality. Apple is the Master Chef of ecosystems. Others are more akin to the Dirty Spoon.



(A)t $349 [Apple Watch] is significantly more expensive than its better looking competitors (Moto360 $249, LG G Watch R $230). ~ Radio Free Mobile


It’s expensive — and not covered by carrier subsidies. It’s $600 for the whole package of a subsidized $200 iPhone and the $400 Watch. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Apple clearly believes that the Apple Watch’s advances in size, speed, function and elegance are worth the $150 price premium, but not everyone feels that way. In an informal poll at the Web site, 40 percent of Mac fans indicated that they would not be buying an Apple Watch, and every single one cited the price.

Oh wait! Did I say “Apple Watch”? That last paragraph was actually a 2001 quote from Macworld concerning the original iPod, not the Apple Watch. Note how the nature of the products change, but the nature of the criticism remains exactly the same.

Presuming all decisions are based on price is the easiest way to mispredict the future. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

Every time Apple brings out a product, critics cite price as its fatal flaw, even when such criticism makes little or no sense.

“iPads are too expensive which is why most of the buyers are new to iPad” Wait, what? ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent) 7/24/14

Many of Apple’s critics have never understood the difference between price and value. As we move toward wearable computers, the disconnect is only going to grow greater.

The more personal the computer the more value we will place upon it. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

The most expensive Apple Watch will cost more than the most expensive iPhone which will cost more than most PCs. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

And now that Apple is going high fashion? Look out. Most of us are going to lose our grip on pricing entirely.

(There’s going to be a) nerd meltdown when we all learn what “fashion” items cost. ~ Cabel Sasser (@cabel)

When the prices of the steel and (especially) gold Apple Watches are announced, I expect the tech press to have the biggest collective shit-fit in the history of Apple-versus-the-standard-tech-industry shit-fits. ~ John Gruber

Normally, as the price of an item goes down, demand goes up. However, as Ben Thompson likes to point out, with Veblen goods (named after economist Thorstein Veblen, who popularized understanding of the effect) as the price of the product goes up, the demand rises too. This is because the “job” a Veblen good is “hired to do” is not utility alone — it’s added prestige. Veblen goods are counterintuitive and full of surprises for the unwary.

Asia is by far the biggest market for Swiss watch exports accounting for 55 percent July shipments.” ~ CNBC

What folks don’t understand about Asian luxury market in particular is people buy BECAUSE it’s expensive. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

If you don’t have a background in engineering, you shouldn’t be commenting on how to construct the space station. And if you don’t have a background in economics, you shouldn’t be commenting on pricing, either.

The Prophets of the Church of Marketshare never understood Apple’s premium business model to begin with, even though there is a premium provider for almost every good and service known to man. Woman too. And now that Apple is moving toward fashion pricing, the explosive growth in the number of tech bloggers who will think they are qualified to comment on economic theory is simply going to boggle the mind.

Tech bears the same relationship to fashion as a multiple-choice test does to an essay exam.


I have no doubts [Apple Watch] will sell. If I had money to blow I’d buy one out of curiosity. But that’s not a product. It’s a fad. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

The iPhone was a fad too.

The iPhone is a commodity. That’s really all Apple’s iStuff is — an enormous and very profitable fad. It’s the Pet Rock of the new millennium. ~ Anders Bylund, Motley Fool, 6 Mar 2012

Data Processing was a fad too.

I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year. ~ editor of business books, Prentice Hall publishers, 1957

Movies were a fad too.

Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage. ~ Charlie Chaplin

Be awfully careful before you summarily label — and then dismiss — something as a “fad”. It’s lazy and, even worse, misleading analysis.

Who is there who can make muddy waters clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually clear itself. ~ Lao-tsu



(A)t today’s Cupertino, California, event, we — the press, the world at large — were treated to a beautifully designed smartwatch (e.g., those interchangeable straps) laden with an embarrassing slew of useless gimmicks. … Cheap tricks that consumers will tire of after a few weeks. ~ Joseph Volpe

Heres an idea Apple – rather than enter the world of gimmicks and toys, why don’t you spend a little more time sorting out your pathetically expensive line up? Or are you really aiming to become a glorified consumer gimmicks firm?

Oops! So sorry. That last quote was taken from the forums at Macrumors and refers to the introduction of the original iPod in 2001, not the Apple Watch in 2014. My bad.

Hubris is one of the great renewable resources. ~ P. J. O’Rourke

The line between gimmicks and genius is thin, as both Jan Dawson and Benedict Evans remind us:

This stuff Apple is demoing now is classic Apple. Thin line between Samsung’s gimmicks and Apple’s delighters, but fairly clear here. ~ Jan Dawson (@jandawson)

There’s an interesting line between products everyone thinks are crap and products everyone thinks are stupid. The latter change the world. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Since the line between gimmick and genius is so thin — and since the consequences of getting it wrong are so great — we should think long and hard before we summarily dismiss something as a mere gimmick. Gimmicks, like art forgeries, abound and they need to be identified and discarded. But let’s not allow our analytical brushes to paint too quickly or with too broad a stroke, lest we conceal the subtle masterpiece.

Some things have to be believed to be seen. ~ Ralph Hodgson

I Don’t Get It

I don’t get it. … Apple did not save wearables, as many thought it would. … Apple unveiled something, at best, lukewarm. At most, it’s prettier than the smartwatches that’ve come before, and that’s likely its greatest innovation. ~ Joseph Volpe, Endgadget

I don’t see it. Exquisite but no values behind it (except for design values). ~ Sean Egan (@Sean_Egn)

Here’s an idea. If you don’t understand something — REMAIN SILENT.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Good advice, seldom taken.

Worth remembering: the industry thought the iPod was stupid when it first came out. Even as recently as the iPad, people missed the point. ~ Jared Cocken (@engers)

We’ll see. It’s worth remembering that the iPod, iPhone and iPad, in turn, were greeted with initial skepticism. Apple Watch seeks to be the next in that lineage, routing the skeptics and delivering a massive payoff for Apple. ~ Steve Lohr, The New York Times

It’s okay not to get something. But it’s not at all okay for us to take that one step further and assume that because we don’t get it, it can’t be got. It’s like we’re blind, so we assume that everyone else must be blind too. It just ain’t so. If we don’t “get something”, that’s a sure sign that we should be shutting our mouths and opening our minds.

Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at. ~ Solomon Short quotes

I Don’t Wear A Watch

The Apple Watch seems lovely. The problem is I don’t wear a watch, and 75% our office does not wear one either. ~ ariel seidman (@aseidman)

Most people don’t wear watches anymore. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

Jan Dawson explains this kind of thinking in a wholly unrelated article entitled: “NO-ONE I KNOW VOTED FOR NIXON” IN TECH“.

There’s a famous quote attributed to Pauline Kael, the movie critic, which is usually paraphrased as “How did Nixon win? I don’t know anyone who voted for him….”

The point was, Nixon had just won the US presidential election — in a landslide — and yet Pauline Kael lived in a world where almost no-one had voted for him.

I fear that the people who spend all day thinking and writing about technology often suffer from the same myopia about the behavior and mentality of the vast majority of everyday users of technology. We are nothing like them in many respects…. ~ Jan Dawson

When I was growing up, everybody wore a watch. Everybody. It’s only been a decade or so since some people stopped wearing watches and they did so because they were carrying mobile phones that also told time. In other words, the behavior of not wearing a watch 1) is recent; 2) is of relatively short duration; and 3) was caused by a shift in technology.

Source: XKCD

To suggest that no one will buy a wearable because you don’t wear a watch and no one you know wears a watch is the height of myopia — you’re living in a self-centric world where no one voted for Nixon.

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones. ~ John Maynard Keynes

Think about it. Did you carry a phone in your pocket prior to 2007? If you did, you were in the 1%. Now half the U.S. (and growing) carries their phone with them everywhere. Why the change in behavior? Change in technology.

imgresDid you take pictures at public events using a ginormous tablet? Of course not. Who would do that? Well, turns out, lots and lots of people. (And it’s usually the ones seated just in front of you.) Why the change in behavior? Change in technology.

Stop saying you don’t wear a watch. You don’t wear a watch…yet. Tech changes. Behavior changes. Tech changes behavior. If wearing watches went out of style because of changes in technology, then wearing a watch can come back in style because of changes in technology too.

Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences. ~ Norman Cousins

Our inability to even contemplate — more less fathom — the possibility that tomorrow may be different from today reminds me of this joke:

One caterpillar to another, as they watch a butterfly: “You’ll never get me up in one of those things.”

I Only Need The Time

The things I miss most about wearing a watch would be fulfilled by wearing a watch and I can do that for $50. ~ The LeeBase (@TheLeeBase)

We used to only need to make phone calls too. And we could do that for $50. Then the iPhone came out in 2007. And now, we need more.


Our vision is more obstructed by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge. ~ Kristen Stendahl

There is nothing more reactionary than the general public. For most of us, our vision of the near future is actually our recollection of the recent past.

A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see. ~ Leroy Eims


Trip Chowdhry, Global Equities: Apple Watch is ground breaking – Innovation is back at Apple after a 3 year pause. ~ The Apple Watch: What the analysts are saying by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

A three year “pause,” ay?

Here’s the thing, Trip. It takes years to make an “overnight” success. The folks at Apple haven’t been sitting around on their barcaloungers sipping champagne and eating chocolate bonbons. They didn’t wake up on Monday, September 8th, and say: “Hey, everybody. Let’s innovate!” Then — bada bing, bada boom — out popped the Apple Watch just in time for the September 9th Event.

Hey! Wait just a darn tooting minute. Aren’t you the same Trip Chowdhry who said this:

[Apple has] only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear. ~ Trip Chowdhry (March 2014)

March, April, May….

Hmm. Maybe I should change the title of this article from “Claim Chowder” to “Claim Chowdhry”.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.


I guess left-handed folk are supposed to switch wrists. ~ Patrick Igoe (@PatrickIgoe) [9/9/14, 2:07 PM]

I guess some left-handed people have the patience of a gnat.

For you lefties: The Apple Watch crown works OK when the watch is on your right hand. But there’s a southpaw mode which flips the UI around. ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) [9/9/14, 5:17 PM]

Apple Watch can be inverted for left handers. Hurrah. ~ Matt Warman (@mattwarman) [9/9/14, 6:26 PM]

For you lefties: …there’s a southpaw mode which flips the UI around. ~ Peter Hilleren (@Peter000) [9/9/14, 6:38 PM]

Left-handers: You can just turn Apple Watch upside down (and swap straps around) and it’ll just work. ~ John Gruber (@gruber) [9/9/14, 9:49 PM]

I have more sources, if that’s not enough.

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. ~ Dutch proverb

Seriously. Can’t people just ask a question and then wait an hour or two for the answer before they start whining? I mean, honestly. Is it really asking so much?

It is a general rule that when the grain of truth cannot be found, men will swallow great helpings of falsehood. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

Look And Feel

It is square and fat. 85% of wristwatches sold in the market are round and in pure looks, I think the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R are much better. ~ Radio Free Mobile

The form factor has fixed limits — the small screen obviates advertising, electronics fatten the case, big fingers obscure the screen when touching. For many, the form will be seen as simply ugly. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Apple Watch ‘too feminine and looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester’ (Boss of Tag Heuer, Zenith and Hublot says Apple has made “some fundamental mistakes” with its smart watch) – The Telegraph

It’s not a revolution and it’s not what any of us really expected. It’s lipstick on a smartwatch. It’s an accessory and nothing more. ~ Joseph Volpe, Engadget

All this coming from critics who have never seen nor touched nor worn nor experienced the Apple Watch.


Baffled by strong opinions on the Apple watch hardware from people who’ve not held one. I have held one and am still undecided. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

With smartwatches, even more than phones, even more than tablets, even more than PCs, any verdict requires actual use in the real world. ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken)

Go back and re-read the above quote by Harry McCracken. Wearables simply cannot be understood until we’ve worn them. And nobody outside of Apple has worn them. Yet.

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth. ~ Jewish proverb

Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities. ~ Oscar Wilde


The Apple Watch names are strange. Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch Edition. Weird that two have third names, and Edition is odd. ~ Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo)

I like analyzing product names too, but truth be told, if the product is lousy, the name simply doesn’t matter. And if the product is great, the name simply doesn’t matter either.

Remember how critics mocked the name “iPad”? How’d that turn out?

Talk of product names reminds me of this classic Saturday Night Live skit.

Hmm. Perhaps Apple should name their next product: “Mangled Baby Ducks.”


Beautiful, but a niche product. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

The $350 watch market is niche at best. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

Gee. When have I heard this lament before? Oh yeah. Whenever Apple introduces a new product category. The $350 iPod will be niche, the $600 iPhone will be niche, the $500 iPad will be niche, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Some Claim Chowder from the archives:


The iPhone is a niche product. ~ Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, 17 April 2008

The iconic Apple iPhone will either not exist or occupy a very small niche satisfying the needs of committed Mac fans around five years from now. ~ Eugene Kaspersky, Kaspersky Lab, 27 April 2010


The tablet market has only succeeded as a niche market over the years and it was hoped Apple would dream up some new paradigm to change all that. From what I’ve seen and heard, this won’t be it. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 29 January 2010

For all the hype about an Apple tablet , it is at best a niche product. ~ Joe Wilcox, Betanews, 2 January 2010

The iPad will remain an expensive, niche device compared to all-purpose netbooks…. (N)etbooks sales will still far outstrip those of the iPad. ~ Preston Gralla, PC World, 30 March 2010

Niche, huh? Let’s see how those niche products panned out:

  1. In Q2, Apple made 68% of mobile device OEMs’ profits (65% in q1, 53% in Q2 13). Samsung – 40% (41% q1, 49% q2 13) Source: Canaccord Genuity ~ Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) 8/5/14
  2. Quick Apple Q3 numbers for those who like that sort of thing: $37.4 billion; 7.7b profit; 35.2m iPhones; 13.3m iPads; 4.4m Macs; 2.9m iPods. ~ Macworld (@macworld)
  3. Apple’s iPhone sales alone were larger than the revenues at 474 of the companies in the S&P 500 stock index.

Most CEO’s would cut off their right arms to have “niche” products like those.

To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one’s voice. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Pocket, Purse, Or Wrist?

Apple failed. They did not make the case to compel me to pay $350+ to reduce the pain of pulling my iPhone out of my pocket. ~ The LeeBase (@TheLeeBase)

For many, two devices on the body are unnecessary. Pulling the iPhone out of a pocket or purse is fine — most will not need another device to access payments or track health. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Ya’ know, human beings are kinda funny (in an odd sort of way). I guess it’s human nature to ignore human nature. Go figure.

The fundamental principle of human action—the law that is to political economy what the law of gravitation is to physics—is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion. ~ Henry George

Do want to call that kind of behavior lazy? Okay, we’re lazy. But mostly, we’re human.

I’ve always felt extremely lazy when I explain my main reason for wanting an Apple Watch. It would eliminate the need for me to reach all the way into my pocket to retrieve my iPhone when it buzzed. I stand by my brazen laziness. And I very much appreciate that the Apple Watch will analyze incoming email to create its own “quick choice” reply. Very smart. ~ Ken Segall

Benedict Evans poses some important questions regarding the tablet and the smartphone, respectively:

How much was it worth not to have to open your laptop? ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

I use my phone even though my tablet is in my bag or my laptop on the table. How much does a watch cannibalise in the same way? ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

We know that a large proportion of smartphone use is done in the home, where a laptop or tablet is within easy reach. Shouldn’t that be telling us something? Persistence matters. Convenience matters. Laziness matters. Human nature matters.

And besides, what else — or should I say who else — are we ignoring here?

For half the population, your phone is not always in your pocket. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Oh yeah. The female of the species. Remember them? The one’s who do most of the shopping for (literally) mankind? The ones who wear most of the jewelry? The ones who make up the majority of people living on this planet? The ones who often put their phones in their purses instead of in their pockets?

We should be very, very careful not to substitute our judgment for the judgment of others. Just because we don’t like something; just we’re not enthusiastic about something; does not mean that others will feel the same way. That’s just common sense. Unfortunately, there is nothing so uncommon as common sense.


I see a world where the watch will eventually replace the phone. ~ AAPL Orchard

The long-term success of the iTime (or whatever it gets called) will be similar. If it can’t replace the iPhone completely it’s a goner. ~ John Dvorak

My stance on the smartwatch as a viable mobile accessory is unambiguous; I’ve argued my case before. As a category, it needs to replace — needs to completely replace our need for a cellphone. ~ Joseph Volpe, Engadget

That’s great and all, except that it’s completely wrong.

“A smartwatch doesn’t replace my smartphone.” “A tablet doesn’t replace my personal computer.” “A motorcycle doesn’t replace my car.” ~ AAPL Tree (@AAPLTree)

A device should not try to be something it’s not. It should be true to itself. Why would we want a smart watch that replaces our smartphones? We already have smartphones that work great. What we want — or what we should want — is for smart watches to do what they do best. No one is quite sure what that is yet, but you can be darned sure that squashing a smartphone down to the size of a watch is not going to work any better than squashing a Personal Computer down to the size of a tablet worked.

Replace the phone with the watch? You’ve got it all wrong. And don’t blame Apple just because your vision is faulty.

The worst kind of arrogance is arrogance from ignorance. ~ Jim Rohn



Forrester’s research is showing nascent interest by consumers. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Yeah, about that. I’m not a big believer in surveys about products that don’t exist. You shouldn’t be either.


We’re finding — if you look at the surveys, you can see that large amount of the customers that have purchased touchscreen devices in last two years, they intend to get a device with the QWERTY keyboard on it now. ~ Mike Lazaridis, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, Inc, 16 April 2010


Days before the iPhone debuted, the market research company Universal McCann came out with a blockbuster report proving that practically nobody in the United States would buy the iPhone. “The simple truth,” said Tom Smith, the author of the iPhone-damning report, is that “convergence [an all-in-one device] is a compromise driven by financial limitations, not aspiration. In the markets where multiple devices are affordable, the vast majority would prefer that to one device fits all.” Solid survey research suggested not only that the iPhone would fail, but also that it would fail particularly hard in the United States because our phones and cameras are good enough, already. ~ Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Today there are lots and lots of people saying they have no interest in an Apple Watch or in the smart watch category altogether. They are telling the truth. They really can’t imagine owning a smart watch. However, their beliefs do not reflect the limits of the smart watch category. Their beliefs reflect the limits of their imagination.

You can’t ask people to decide on a trade-off when they have experience of one side but not the other. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


It requires an iPhone to function making it very clear that this is an accessory rather than a new product category in its own right. ~ Radio Free Mobile

Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein: While the device is aesthetically attractive, and has a very innovative UI (“digital crown” and differentiated touch), we struggle with the fact that the majority of the Watch’s functionality is dependent on the presence of an iPhone.

This shit better have some major non-tethered functionality. ~ Jason Hirschhorn (@JasonHirschhorn)

Remember when the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad were all tethered to the Mac? No? Neither does anyone else.

Memory may be a terrible librarian, but it’s a great editor. ~ Ralph Keyes

The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and now the Apple Watch are or were tethered to another device. They offload or offloaded tasks which they could not handle or which they were ill-suited to perform to the better suited device. Tethering is not a fatal flaw. In fact, it can be a chief advantages. Take, for example, the iPod:

One of the biggest insights we have was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless. ~ Steve Jobs

Unnecessary, Unneeded, Underwhelmed

The very first new post-Steve Jobs product, Apple Watch, is stunningly pretty, is functional — and is utterly unnecessary. ~ Brian S Hall (@brianshall)

Did not expect to be so underwhelmed by implementation. It’s basically Android Wear 2.0, which isn’t saying much. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

I think Apple Watch will be a flop. ~ The Tech Guy, Episode 1118

Great just what the world needs.

I was so hoping for something more.

The reason why everyone’s disappointed is because we had our hopes up for this incredible device.

Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!

Oh wait! Those last four quotes weren’t about the Apple Watch at all. They were taken from the forums at Macrumors and were referring to the launch of the original iPod.

The more things change, the more they are the same. ~ Alphonse Karr ((The original saying & original author.))

New Apple product X is announced. Pundits & analysts say X will fail. X breaks all previous sales records. Step. Rinse. Repeat. ~ Nick Bilton (@nickbilton)

Three years from now, the same people making fun of this thing today will complain that Apple hasn’t innovated since the Watch. ~ Mitchell Cohen (@mitchchn)


Professional critics of new things sound smart, but the logical conclusion of their thinking is a poorer world. ~ Benedict Evans

Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it. ~ Robert A. Heinlein

I have not exhausted all of my material, nor have I exhausted all of the stupidity…but I have exhausted myself. Enough. No more Claim Chowder.

It’s possible to fight intolerance, stupidity and fanaticism when they come separately. When you get all three together it’s probably wiser to get out, if only to preserve your sanity. ~ P. D. James

I want to make something perfectly clear. I am not advocating for or against the Apple Watch. That will be addressed in a future article. What I am advocating for is clear thinking.

The creators of Apple Claim Chowder used to be arrogant and obnoxious but ever since the introduction of the Apple Watch just the opposite has been true. Now they’re obnoxious and arrogant. After all, the vast majority of the Claim Chowder cited here, and in my previous 7-part series ((Apple Claim Chowder Series:

1) Introduction
2) Events
3) Killers
4) Cynicism
5) Product
6) Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
7) Business Models)) on Apple Claim Chowder, could easily have been avoided.

Conversation would be much improved by the frequent use of three words: I don’t know. ~ André Maurois

The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions. ~ Claude Levi-Strauss

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~ Lorraine Hansberry


Next time, I’ll look at the design of the Apple Watch and try to pose some of the right questions. Come join me then.

Post Script

If you want to take the chance of having me ridicule you in one of my future articles, be sure to join me on Twitter @johnkirk. I’m looking forward to mocking your acquaintance.

Tech Predictions for 2014

For the last 27 years I have written an annual industry prediction column where I try to forecast what I see happening in the PC and CE markets in the New Year. To be fair, I spend thousands of hours each year researching these industries and their products and get to see inside the labs of many companies as well as peek into start-ups and garage shops all over the world. So what I predict has more to do with taking an intelligent guess about what I see happening in 2014 and less an actual prediction. So as I look into my crystal research ball, here is what I believe will happen in tech’s New Year.

1-Google will spin out Motorola

Google says they bought Motorola for their patents, but patents only go so far in allowing any company to keep the doors open and profitable. I believe that in 2014 Google will spin Motorola out as a dedicated company that creates great products around Google IP and have it be responsible for its own P&L. We have heard rumblings that they have some stunning and innovative products in the works and they could use these to become the branded arm for all of Google’s hardware related products. Having Google and Motorola products that are basically the same is just confusing to customers. Google will see that it makes sense to use them as their hardware arm and make them accountable on their own.

2- Larger tablets for sharing will hit market by mid-year

I recently wrote about how Dell’s 18” all-in-one was now being used as a kind of giant tablet in the home with people putting them on their laps for use in front of the TV or for tablet laptop games. The industry has seen the potential of a larger screen device that can be shared and instead of making them clunky all-in-one’s, we should see some sleek designs optimized as actual large tablets for use by two or more. The industry does not have a name for this but I have heard them called lap tablets or shared tablets for the home. Should be on market by mid-year.

3-Dual OS laptops and tablets

It is clear that Windows 8 is very slow to gain a large volume of software that can compete with IOS or Android’s Apps stores. So expect to see Windows laptops that will also have Android on them that taps into Android apps for use on Windows. The folks from Bluestacks have had a solution for this for years but in 2014 this will be a big issue for the industry and a lot of PC and tablet vendors will have dual OS products on the market starting in Q1.

4–Apple will release a ground breaking productivity device 

The iPad has become a powerful productivity tool in its own right, even without much help directly from Apple. As you know, Apple does not have an enterprise sales group. They don’t even have an enterprise services group. Yet, iPads have become the dominant tablet in IT and enterprises around the world. But there is stiff competition for the hearts and minds of business users coming from Microsoft and Google and some of their partners with tablets of their own aimed at this market. I can’t imagine Apple sitting still and letting these competitors gain ground on them so I believe Apple will create an iPad class product that will be unique and ground breaking focused on business and productivity. I have no clue about its design, although some think it might be what they call an iPad Pro while others think it could be some type of convertible. I am not sure what it will be but I suspect that whatever it is it will be a surprise to all. By the way, I do have one prediction related to this. Whatever Apple releases in this category will have a major negative impact on traditional Windows laptop sales next year and I think total sales of laptops could be off as much as 20-30 million units in 2014 over this year.

5-Smartphones and beacon-based sensors become a big deal

2014 will be the year when Bluetooth Low Energy beacons take off. These beacons can be placed around ballparks to communicate with smartphones and tablets to give users related information about game stats, deals from the concession stands, and coupons for discounts on logo’ed clothing. They can also be used in stores so that as a person goes by an end cap that has a beacon on it, it can send a short burst of information to their smartphone announcing a discount or deal on what is on the end cap if they buy it within 30 minutes. Apple is leading the charge in this space with their iBeacon technology but Microsoft and Google are working on similar programs. The marriage of Bluetooth Low Energy radios integrated into beacons and smart devices will start to take off next year.

6-Smartwatches are dead in 2014

All attempts at creating a smart watch for the masses have failed. The ones on the market today only appeal to male geeks and ultra early adopters  Although we may sell as much as 1.5 million smart watches in 2014, unless someone masters the issue of elegant design and style matched with non geeky technology, they are not going to be a product for the mass market anytime soon. Next year will still be an experimental year for smart watches. 
What will be hot will be wearable health related devices such as the  NikeFuel Bands, Fitbit, Jawbone UP, etc. These types of wearables along with Bluetooth related health devices such as wireless blood pressure kits, wireless blood glucose testing kits, etc. will see serious consumer interest next year. These health devices come under a category called Digital Health and there will be a lot of exciting new products along with health related wearables coming to market in 2014.

7-The PC market could actually grow in 2014

I know that this sounds contradictory given my statement in the Apple prediction that a new product from them could have a 20-30 million negative impact on current laptop demands next year. The discrepancy comes from something that is a bit of a problem for us market researchers at the moment. In the past when we counted computers shipped we had two distinct categories. 

We counted desktops and laptops separately but in final totals combined them. For example, we will sell in total about 300 million PC’s in 2013. However, 67% of these are laptops, the rest is desktops, which include all-in-ones, traditional tower desktops, etc. Enter now the 2 in 1’s and convertibles. Are they tablets with keyboards and should we count them as tablets, or are they tablets/keyboard combo devices and should we count them as laptops? At the moment some researchers are putting these in the laptop category and since they have not been huge sellers yet, they have not had a dramatic impact on our total PC sales in 2013. IDC now says PC sales overall will be negative 10% this year over last year. I believe that we will see a stronger uptick in 2 in 1’s and convertibles and whatever Apple releases in a new design will probably also be counted as a laptop. If this is true, then the overall market for PC’s, especially laptops, should stabilize or possibly even grow in 2014.

8-Internet of Everything goes mainstream

Cisco, Qualcomm, Intel and pretty much every major tech company is now focusing on the Internet of Everything. Basically this means that all tech devices get some form of connectivity, become smart, and can be connected to all types of devices and to the cloud. Although this often now comes off as a buzz word, the idea of IOE is a big deal and represents an important part of all tech companies’ strategies. I believe that in 2014 the industry will come up with a better definition of IOE and how this will practically impact business, consumers and education. 

9-Greater acceptance of Chromebooks

I was in a coffee shop in Santa Barbara recently and an elderly woman was sitting in the booth in front of me searching the Web on her Chromebook. On the way out I asked her why she bought this laptop and she said besides price, it did pretty much what she needed a laptop to do. I hear this story a lot in our research and understand that Google and their partners will become even more aggressive in pricing and marketing this in 2014. I expect this to help Chromebooks gain more ground in the new year. 

10-Digital Health will be a big focus in 2014

In a way this is the health arm of IOE. I have been testing the new iHealth Wireless Smart Gluco-Monitoring system, that allows me as a diabetic to test my blood sugars and transmit the results wirelessly back to my iPhone. Their Wireless Blood Pressure cuff also uses my iPhone to manipulate the cuff itself with all of the reading being done on the iPhone. There are dozens of other medical examples tied to smartphones and represent another key function that uses the smartphone as a personal digital hub. The recent Health Summit in Washington D.C. drew hundreds of people to their largest event ever and friends who attended it were excited about the growth of the products and services in this space. In 2014 Digital Health products will become more available to the masses and be its biggest growth year to date. 

11- 3D cameras and 3D Printers

At CES we will see the first 3D printers under $500. And we will see new desktops and laptops that will employ 3D cameras in them. While 3D never took off in TVs, it’s role in personal computing will be better accepted in the future. Although 3D printers are in the discovery phase with consumers, at prices this low millions could be tempted to buy them and begin experimenting with creating 3D objects. With the help of 3D cameras popping up in new computers, this will help these discoverers to be even more creative. It will still be a small market in 2014 but 3D printers and cameras could start reshaping the way we view our personal computers and what they can do for us. 

12- Jeff Bezos buys the US Post Office 🙂

This is a bonus prediction and I highlight here a tongue-in-cheek article Carl Schlachte wrote for Techpinions recently. It is a futuristic piece that imagines the implications should Jeff Bezos set his eyes on the US Post Office. Very provocative piece and well worth the time to read.

4 Technology Trends, 5 Technology Predictions

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. ~ Niels Bohr, Danish physicist (1885 – 1962)

Trend #1: Two Seperate And Incompatible Types Of User Interfaces

Personal computing will be divided into two types of user interfaces:

1) Touch; and
2) Pixel-specific (surface-required)

Touch will require the use of only a finger for user input and will work best on the go. Pixel-specific will require the use of a mouse or trackpad which, in turn, will require the use of a flat surface. These two user inputs are inherently incompatible with one another – and that has consequences.

Prediction #1: There Is Little Room For A Category Between The Tablet And The Notebook

I do not think that there is room between the touch-only tablet and the mouse/trackpad-only notebook for the new category of computer that Microsoft is trying to create with Windows 8 tablets. Tablets are becoming more capable. Notebooks are becoming ever thinner and lighter. There is little room for the hybrid. Hybrids will survive as a niche – but they will not thrive as a category.

Many disagree with this opinion, including some who write for Tech.Pinions and everyone who works for Microsoft. That’s the beauty of free speech and free markets. Time – and sales numbers – will tell the tale.

Prediction #2: Tablets Are Going To Be Even Bigger Than We Thought

Tablets are the future and in a much bigger way than even I had imagined.

They are not just becoming an equal to the pixel-input, surface-only devices, they will soon be the default, go-to device of choice. We’ll use our tablets whenever we can, our phones whenever we’re traveling and our surface bound devices only when we absolutely have to.

Pixel input personal computing devices will become like land line phones. They will persevere but with an ever shrinking base and and ever decreasing significance to our lives.

Prediction #3: Apple Will Create A New iPad Mini In The Spring

This is really a sub-set of prediction number two, above.

I believe that tablets are going to be huge in education. Last year, many school districts tested the waters with tablets. This year, many are going to move from trial programs to initiating programs designed to eventually put a tablet in the hands of every single student. This is a profound computing shift which will have a profound effect on education. By 2014 and beyond, the flood gates will have opened and tablets in schools and colleges will be accepted as the new norm.

Apple knows that they currently have an in with the education market. Educational institutions make most of their buying decisions in the Spring. In my opinion, Apple is not going to let the Spring go by without refreshing the iPad Mini.

Trend #2: Two Phone Operating Systems

In the Ninties, there were only two personal computer operating systems that mattered – Windows and whatever Apple was running on the Mac. Windows dominated, but the Mac survived and, in terms of profits, thrived.

Simiarly, there are going to be two operating systems that matter to smartphones. But this will be a duopoly with a difference. Google is not a strong and domineering operating system shepard the way Microsoft was. iOS has 500 million users and is self-sustaining. This time, iOS will be the premium operating system while Android will be the majority operating system.

Prediction #4: iOS will become the premium model, Android will take the rest

iOS will appeal most to businesses, government and education. (The irony of predicting Apple as the preferred operating system for business is not lost on me.) Android will take the rest.

Both operating systems will unhappily co-exist with developers flocking to iOS and cost-concious buyers flocking to Android. The dollars will continue to flow to Apple and the market share will continute to flow to Android and both sides will continue to insist that the other side doomed.

In the meantime, RIM and Nokia will continue to fade and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 will stubbornly cling to third place. But a licensed operating system does not fare well as a minority player.

Trend #3: Freemium v. Premium

The chief divide between tablets will not be their size, but their business models. Amazon and Google follow the freemium model. Samsung and Apple follow the premium model. The Freemium’s give away their hardware at or near cost and seek to make money on the sale of content and services. Apple’s premium model seeks to sell their hardware at a profit and encourage those sales through the use of both content and services.

Prediction #5: Samsung Will Be Forced To Create Their Own Ecosystem

In a world where your operating system provider (Google) is undercutting you by selling hardware at cost and taking in all the content and service dollars, there is simply no other choice — Samsung needs to create their own content and services ecosystem. Samsung has been preparing for this moment for quite some time. And we’ll see the fruits of their labor in 2013.

Trend #4: Multiple Screens

I think the biggest trend that is receiving the least attention is that of multiple screens. In 2001, we had one computer screen and it sat on our desktop. In 2006, we had, at best, two computer screens – our desktop and our notebook. In 2013, we have 4 computer screens – our phones, tablets, notebooks/desktops and TVs. And the when and why we use those screens is going to help to shape the future of computing.

I’m going to cop out here and not make any predictions other than to predict that this trend is going to change everything. People are already using two screens – a television and a phone or tablet – to watch TV. And the way we rapidly switch from phone to tablet to notebook and back again is already baffling that way pundits think about categorizing and pigeonholing our computing buying and using habits. Multiple screens deserve not just a simple prediction on our part but ongoing examination and analysis. It is not an emerging trend but an existing trend. It is the consequences that we haven’t yet fully fathomed. Expect to see us talk a lot more about the effects of multiple screen computing in 2013 and beyond.

The Shape of 2013: Predictions for the Year Ahead

Crystal ball graphic
After 15 years of making predictions, with a track record that would have made you rich if you’d bet on them, I’ve been away from the practice for a couple of years. But as the regulars at Tech.pinions have agreed to end the year with a set of predictions each, I’m back at the game. My best guesses for 2013:

A Modest Rebound for BlackBerry. Like many others, I was prepared to write off BlackBerry during the last year as its market share cratered. And if Windows Phone 8 had really taken off or if Android had made a serious play for the enterprise, it would be very hard to see where there might be room in the market for Research In Motion, no matter how promising BlackBerry 10 looks. But I think there is room for at least three players in the business, and right now the competition for #3 is still wide-open. BlackBerry still enjoys a lot of residual support in the enterprise IT community, and some key federal agencies that had been planning to move away from the platform, such as Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement, have indicated they are open to a second look. The challenge Research In Motion faces is that BlackBerry 10, which will be leased on Jan. 30, needs to be appealing enough to users, not just IT managers, that it can at least slow the tide of bring-you-own devices into the enterprise.

A Windows Overhaul, Sooner Rather Than Later. Even before Windows 8 launched to distinctly mixed reviews, there were rumors about that Microsoft was moving toward a more Apple-like scheme of more frequent, less sweeping OS revisions. Microsoft sometimes has a tendency to become doctrinaire in the defense of its products; for example, it took many months for officials to accept that User Access Control in Vista was an awful mess that drove users crazy. But Microsoft has had some lessons in humility lately and the company knows that it is in a fight that will determine its relevance to personal computing over the next few years. I expect that, at a minimum, Windows 8.1 (whatever it is really called) will give users of conventional PCs the ability to boot directly into Desktop mode, less need to ever used the Metro interface, and the return of some version of the Start button. On the new UI side, for both Windows 8 and RT, look for a considerable expansion of Metrofied control panels and administrative tools, lessening the need to work in Desktop. In other words, Microsoft will move closer to what it should have done in the first place: Offer different UIs for different kinds of uses. The real prize, truly touch-ready versions of Office, though, are probably at least a year and a half away.

Success for touch notebooks. When Windows 8 was first unveiled, I was extremely dubious about the prospects for touch-enable conventional laptops. The ergonomics seemed all wrong. And certainly the few touchscreen laptops that ran Windows 7 weren’t every good. Maybe its my own experience using an iPad with a keyboard,  but the keyboard-and-touch combination no longer seems anywhere near as weird as it once did. And OEMs such as Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Acer are coming up with some very nice touch laptops, both conventional and hybrid. Even with a premium of $150 to $200 over similarly equipped non-touch models, I expect the touch products to pick up some significant market share.

Significant wireless service improvements. We’ll all grow old waiting for the government’s efforts to free more spectrum for wireless data to break fruit. The incentive auctions of underused TV spectrum are not going to be held until 2014, and it will be some time before that spectrum actually becomes available. The same is true for a new FCC plan to allow sharing of government-held spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. But the good news is we don’t have to wait. Technology will allow significant expansion of both the capacity and coverage of existing spectrum. Probably the two most important technologies are Wi-Fi offload, which will allow carrier traffic to move over hotspots set up in high-traffic areas, and femtocells and small cells, which can greatly increase the reuse of of the spectrum we already have. Unlicensed white space–unused free space between TV channels–should begin to make a contribution, especially in rural areas where TV channels are more sparse. And the huge block of mostly idle spectrum the Sprint is acquiring with its proposed purchase of Clearwire will also ease the congestion, probably starting next year. (Stay tuned for a Tech.pinions series on spectrum issues in January.)

Intel Will Make a Major ARM Play. It’s hard to believe today, but Intel was once a major player in the ARM chip business. In 1997, it bought the StrongARM business from a foundering Digital Equipment. Renamed XScale, the Intel ARM chips enjoyed considerable success with numerous design wins as early smartphone applications processors. But XScale was always tiny compared to Intel’s x86 business and in 2006, Intel sold its XScale operations to Marvell. A year later, Apple introduced the ARM-based iPhone. Today, ARM-based tablets are in the ascendancy, x86-based PCs are in decline, and Intel is struggling to convince the world that a new generation of very low power Atom systems-on-chips are competitive. Maybe the Clover Trail SOCs and their successors  will gain a significant share of the mobile market, but Intel can’t afford to wait very long to find out. With its deep engineering and manufacturing skills, Intel could become a major ARM player quickly, either through acquisition or internal development.

The Greatest Show In Tech

You can’t tell the players without a program

It’s like the circus has come to the world of tech. Over the next 30 days or so everybody and his brother is going to be announcing a spanking new tech product. And like the circus, there will be a wide variety of acts. Some will be strongmen, some will be clowns. There will be metaphorical elephants in the room. There will be high-wire acts, balancing acts, jugglers, contortionists, snake charmers and freak shows. There will be illusionists and magic acts. And if some of these product introductions go wrong, a couple of tech company CEOs may play the role of human cannonballs as well.

It’s going to be quite a fall for tech. And for some unfortunate devices, it’s going to be quite a fall from tech too.

I’m no prophet, but I like to play one the internets

“The groundhog is like most other prophets; it delivers its prediction and then disappears.” – Bill Vaughan

Since we know so little about these products, there’s not much point in analyzing any of them – but I’m going to do it anyway. Rather than take a deep dive into the bewildering array of new product offereings, I thought we’d go on a shallow swim instead. So get ready for a fact-free, thought-free, light-on-analysis, heavy-on-snark romp through the circus of tech.

“A little snark, properly directed, can change the world.” – Shannon Hale

Grab your popcorn, and pull up a chair, the show’s about to begin.

“I prefer to make up my own quotes and attribute them to very smart people, so that I can use them to win arguments” – Albert Einstein

1.0) MP3

It’s hard to believe, but Apple introduced the iPod just 11 short years ago in 2001. The iPod rocketed Apple to relevance but now the category itself is rapidly moving towards irrelevance.

However, the category is not dead quite yet. Apple continues to make a boatload of money from the dwindling MP3 space. And the iPod Touch remains Apple’s stealth iOS device. So what is Apple going to do to its iPods in the coming days?

Who knows? Who cares? Apple controls that market. They can do what they damn well please.


2.1) Windows Phone 8

“Four or five frigates will do the business without any military force.” -– British prime minister Lord North, on dealing with the rebellious American colonies, 1774

Talk about a slow motion disaster.

In 2006, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile was one of THE premiere players in smartphones. In 2007, Steve Balmer was laughing at the iPhone. In 2008, Microsoft realized their mistake, reversed course and started work on Windows Phone 7. In 2012, Microsoft abandoned Windows Phone 7 and prepared the debut of Windows Phone 8.

My perilous prediction? iOS is Coke, Android is Pepsi (except that they have way more market share) and Windows Phone “whatever” is destined to remain the un-cola of smartphones.

2.2) Nokia Lumia

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A year and a half ago, Nokia CEO Stephan Elop announced that Nokia was, metaphorically, jumping off a burning platform into the frozen North sea. And now people are surprised that Nokia is drowning?

People don’t seem to get this. Nokia has a problem. They’re not in control of their fate. It doesn’t matter how good their product is. If the Windows Phone 8 platform that they’re standing on fails, they fail.

2.3) Samsung Windows 8 Phones

A very, very big fish in a very teeny, tiny, Windows 8 Phone pond.

2.4) HTC Phones

1% of the sector’s sales. Maybe less.

How the mighty have fallen…

…and how they’ve fallen mighty rapidly.

2.5) Motorola RAZR

So, Google owns Motorola but they still can’t put out a phone that runs the most current version of Android. Unbelievable.

Google Motorola is not yet a threat to anyone…but themselves.

2.6) Amazon Phone

Just one question:


2.7) iPhone Whatever

Before a Tsunami makes landfall, it gives warning by causing the waters to recede from the shore. This is called a “drawback”. Drawbacks have been known to last for 10 minutes or more. The longer the drawback, the larger the impending wave.

The drawback for the iPhone Whatever has lasted for some three months.

You’ve been warned.

2.8) RIM

Never saw off the branch you are on, unless you are being hanged from it. – Stanislaw Lec

RIM has nothing to announce…

…and that’s all you need to know about RIM’s prospects.


3.1) Amazon Kindle

Not everyone sees the need for the Amazon Kindle. I think the Amazon Kindle is a unique and uniquely useful product. It fills a niche. People love it. I’ve got nothing snarky to add.

3.2) Barnes & Noble Nook

A few months ago, Microsoft was suing the Barnes & Noble Nook product. Then Microsoft turned around and announced an agreement to work on a joint Nook product instead. Keep an eye on this space. Could be interesting.

3.3) Sony

Is Sony still even in electronics? It’s just sad to see how far this once great company has fallen.


“Economists give their predictions to a digit after the decimal point to show that they have a sense of humor” – Anonymous

4.1) Nexus 7

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. – Author Unknown

The Google Nexus 7 stole a march on the industry by arriving in mid-summer. The Nexus 7 has fine hardware and excellent software but it’s about to get a lesson in the importance of ecosystem.

4.2) Android Tablets

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. – Robert Frost

The Nexus 7 gutted the 7 inch Android tablet market. Rest in peace. Or in pieces. Or whatever.

4.3) Amazon Fire

This category reminds me of an old joke about the two hikers who stumble upon an angry bear. As one hiker turns to run away the other hiker says: “You can’t out run that bear.” The first hiker replies: “I don’t have to out run the bear. I just have to out run you.”

If the rumored 7 inch iPad arrives as predicted, we’re going to find out which one can out run the other – the Nexus 7 or the Amazon Fire.

4.4) Apple iPad Whatever

One should always play fair when one has the winning cards. – Oscar Wilde

The Nexus 7 is a bigger Android phone. The iPad Whatever will be a smaller iPad. And that distinction will make all the difference.

5.0) Full Screen Tablets

5.1) Apple iPad

Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

5.2) Windows RT Tablets

Very nice operating system. Very few Apps. Very difficult road ahead.

5.3) Windows 8 Operating System on a Tablet

“I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it.” – Ray Bradbury

A desktop operating system masquerading as a tablet operating system so that it can pretend that there’s no difference between a desktop and a tablet.

5.4) Windows Surface Tablet

The Windows Surface is a great looking piece of hardware but its focus is on taking a tablet and turning it back into a notebook. That makes no sense unless one simply doesn’t understand what is currently happening in the tablet space.

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. ” – Michael E. Porter

And Microsoft’s creation of its own hardware and its attack on its own licensing business model isn’t a strategy – it’s a sign that they lack a strategy.

5.5) A Gaggle of Windows 8 Hardware Offerings

Wow, we’re seeing a plethora of Windows 8 devices hit the market. Convertibles and hybrids and phablets, oh my!

What we’re really seeing here is the anti-Surface. Every OEM is working around the Surface tablet so that they don’t have to directly compete against it. And no OEM knows exactly what to do – so they’re doing everything.

Throwing things up against the wall in order to see what sticks may work with spaghetti. But it’s awfully tough on hardware.


6.1) Ultrabooks

All of those Windows 8 tablets that want to be a notebook and all of those Ultrabooks that want to be as thin and light as a tablet, are fighting over the same space. And it’s not that big a space.

6.2) Windows 8 Desktop Operating System

A desktop operating system, welded to a tablet interface, just so that Microsoft can pretend that touch inputs and mouse inputs aren’t entirely separate things but that those two divergent input elements can be conflated into one and the same thing.

Good luck with that.

Just remember, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything and the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way. – M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter


“Be careful what you predict. It may come back to haunt you… or laugh at you.” – Annonymous

We’re about to get a lot of questions answered. Or we’re about to get a lot of answers questioned. Or both.

The problem with knee-jerk reactions is that they can make you look like a jerk. – John Kirk

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Tech.pinions Predictions For 2012

It’s fun to make predictions. Luckily none of us are in the predictions business but it’s fun to analyze, speculate, and simply hope for interesting things to come prior to each new year. This year, rather than have each of our columnists write a number of predictions we decided to have each submit two. So below for your reading pleasure is our bold proclamations for the technology industry in 2012.

Peter Lewis

1) The existence of the Higgs Boson, also known as “the God particle,” finally will be confirmed in 2012 as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva ramps up to full power. Not to be confused with the Higgs Boston, which confers Mass. to Beantown – I’d love to take credit for that line, but The Onion beat me to it – the Higgs Boson is a theoretical subatomic particle whose existence would take humankind a step or two closer to understanding the very nature of matter, the mysteries of space and time, and the future of the universe, which could come in handy in case you’re trying to decide whether to buy or rent. This very tiny particle will be the biggest science story of the coming year. At the very least, it will justify the estimated $4.4 billion cost of one of the largest and most complex pieces of technology ever built, not counting Windows Vista.

2) This was the year of Big Data and Cloud Computing. Next year will be the year of trying to actually move Big Data through the Cloud at useful speeds. Scientists in 2012 will achieve a breakthrough in sustained data transfer speeds on wide-area networks, paving the way for government and academic transfer rates approaching 100 gigabits per second. Unfortunately, you’ll be very old, or perhaps even up in the clouds yourself, by the time such speeds are available to personal computer and mobile device users. In theory, you’ll be able to download the entire Library of Netflix in 14.4 seconds, but. In practice. Your movie. Will. Download. And download and. (Go get a cup of coffee.) Download. Like. This. On the bright side: I predict that the average broadband speed in the United States in 2012 will finally catch up to the average broadband speed in South Korea in 2002.

Tim Bajarin

1) Netbooks will make a comeback.
In 2011, netbooks fell out of favor with consumers as tablets became the hot mobile product. The education market is still interested, though. If vendors bring out netbooks that look more like Ultrabooks but are priced between $299 and $350, these types of products could strike a nerve with consumers again. Of course, they would have lower end processors, a shortage of memory, Android as the OS, and could even just ship with the Chrome Browser on it.
Although they may only be a small part of the PC shipment mix, I believe there is still real interest in a lightweight, very low-cost laptop. While Ultrabooks will fit the bill for those with more cash on hand, a fresh generation of netbooks could find new life at the very low-end of the laptop market.

2) Ultrabook-tablet combo devices will become a big hit.
Ultrabooks with detachable screens that turn into tablets could be the sleeper hit of 2012. Also known as hybrids, the early models of this concept used an illogical mixed operating systems; Windows when in PC mode and Android when in tablet mode. But by the year’s end, both Windows 8 for tablet and Windows 8 for laptops will be out and these hybrids will be completely compatible. I expect to see solid models of this type of hybrid by quarter four.

Patrick Moorhead

1) Smartphones and Tablets erode PCs even more than expected
Smartphones and tablets will disrupt consumer PC sales even more than anyone predicted. The “modularity effect” will start to engage where smartphones and tablets, when wirelessly connected to large displays and full-sized input devices, can replace a PC for basic usage models. That sefment of consumers will be willing to pay even more for their smartphones and even less

2) Auto check-in subsidized phone or service launched
The first phones with private “auto check-ins” for stores, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, malls, and gas stations will be launched in exchange for an additional $49-$99 subsidy. Competitive deals and loyalty benefits will be presented to the consumer based upon where they are checking in. The auto check-in will only automatically be shared with the company providing the subsidy and not be public, unless the consumer decides so. The phone will be marketed to middle-income, younger consumers who are willing to trade privacy and advertising for cash.

Steve Wildstrom

1) A major professional sports league will do a deal with Microsoft for over-the-top streaming of live games via Xbox. This will be a major step in breaking the iron triangle of content owners, networks, and cable/satellite distributors and will increase Microsoft’s lead over Apple and Google in streaming content.

2) The U.S. government will conclude its antitrust investigation of Google without bringing any charges. The EU, however, may take a harder line, so Google won’t be out of the woods.

Ben Bajarin

1) Google will sell the Motorola hardware division. When I wrote back in August about why Google should buy Motorola, I didn’t intend it to be a prediction. Even though a week later they actually did buy Motorola. For me it was more of a theoretical analysis of what I thought Google should do and what would be best long-term for Motorola. Given that the patents are what Google is claiming is most valuable to them, once the acquisition is complete and the active lawsuits are settled, Google can legally sell the hardware division and still keep the patents for future protection. If Google truly wants to maintain good relations with their customers, it behooves them to get rid of the Motorola hardware business.

Although, I wouldn’t sell this business until 2013 if I was Google. Just in case their current partners like HTC and Samsung for example begin to shift their loyalty to Windows Phone or even perhaps webOS. This would inevitably hurt their market share and could lead them to go the vertical route, which they would need to Motorola hardware division to do.

2) Google will launch a Chrome based tablet, probably called the Chromepad. It will be priced at $99 and only be used for browsing the web and web services through Google’s Chrome OS. It will be highly disruptive and usher in the era of low-priced, web and web app only connected tablets.

BONUS Far Out Prediction

I’d like to throw in a bonus wild prediction. I think it would be great and completely re-shape the broadcast and over-the-top TV landscape. Microsoft will buy DirecTV and integrate it with the XBOX 360 and all future US-based XBOX’s going forward.

From all of us at Tech.pinions, Happy Holiday and have a great New Year’s.

Tech Trends and Disruptors to watch in 2012

You may not know it yet, but when we end 2012, we will look back on it and realize that it was the most disruptive year we will have had in personal computing in over a decade. In the next 12 months, the market for personal computers of all shapes and sizes will have changed dramatically and I believe we will see at least one of the top 10 PC vendors leave the PC consumer business completely.

So what will be the major disruptive forces that could re-shape the PC business starting in 2012? There are four technologies and trends in the works that I believe will force the computer industry in a new direction.

The first will be Intel and their partners huge push to make ultrabooks 40% of their laptop mix by the end of 2012. Although I don’t believe they will achieve that goal, especially if ultrabooks are priced above $899, the fact is that ultrabooks are the future of notebooks. Instead of thin and light laptops driving the market for laptops as they are now, ultrabooks, which are thinner and lighter with SSDs and longer battery life, will eventually be what all laptops will look like within 5 years. The heavier and more powerful laptops that exist now won’t go away completely as there are power users who will still need that kind of processing power. But ultrabooks will be the laptops of the future and 2012 will be the first year of its major push to change the portable computing landscape.

There is an interesting twist with ultraportables that could be even more important starting next year. This will be the introduction of ultraportables with detachable screens that turn into tablets. In the past, this hybrid as it is called, ran Windows when in laptop mode and Android when in tablet mode. But this approach was dead in the water from the start. But with Windows 8 tablets ready to hit the market next fall, you will see ultraportables with detachable screens that will run Windows 8 with the Metro UI on the laptop and Windows 8 tablet version with the Metro UI in tablet mode. This would bring a level of OS consistency across both device modes and I think that this concept is a sleeper. In fact, if done right, this alone could reshape the traditional PC market in the near term.

The second major disruptor will be the acceptance of tablets in enterprise in greater numbers in 2012. Although IT directors will still be buying laptops, there is a real push by some to add tablets to their overall business use cases. At the moment, Apple has a huge lead here with 475 of the Fortune 500 either buying iPads for deployment or pilot programs and some, like American Airlines, United Airlines and SAP have each bought 10,000+ iPads for use in their IT programs already. As for Android in IT, that boat has sailed. Google screwed up their version releases of Android and not one IT director I have talked to is willing to trust Google with their Android roadmap always being a moving target. And don’t get me started on Android’s security risks. Recent reports that 37% of all Android Apps have some sort of bogus code or malaware has pushed Android out of most IT discussions.

Instead, the option to the iPad that is really on their radar is Windows 8 for tablets, especially the version done for Intel processors. What they want is the ability to run Windows apps as is on a tablet even though they may actually write their own custom programs for Windows 8 and its Metro UI as well. But this is sort of comfort blanket to them and this Windows 8 tablet has many, especially hard-core Windows shops, waiting to see how good Windows 8 will be when it debuts in Oct of 2012 before making a final decision on what device/platform they will integrate into their IT programs over the next 5 years.

The third disruptor will be the proliferation of tablets at the “low” end of the pricing spectrum, which will give birth to the “good enough” category of tablets. There is no question that the iPad will pretty much represent the higher end or “most” desired tablet, but for many, $499 is still too steep a price for them to buy into a product category that they want to participate in. Even with this competition, Creative Strategies has still forecasted that Apple will sell north of 70 million iPads in 2012. But the Kindle at $199 and the Nook Tablet at $249 has opened up the tablet market to millions of new users who will jump on the tablet bandwagon in 2012. This will be the most explosive year for tablets yet and by the end of 2012 we estimate that well over 120 million people WW will be using a tablet of some kind for personal and business use.

The fourth disruptor that will impact the 2012 computing and mobile market is related to processors. By the end of 2012, Intel should have its latest version of Atom that will have it greatest level of processing power and low voltage efficiencies built-in. That means that for the first time, Intel can aggressively compete with the ARM processors for smartphones and in some tablets where low voltages is important. Although Intel is very late to the mobile processing party, you can’t count Intel out, as they are known as a very powerful competitor. And, being this late, they could be very aggressive in pricing to buy into this market in a big way.

The other thing related to processors is the fact that Windows 8 for ARM should debut in 2012. That means that, at least in principle, the ARM guys can start going after the ultraportable market as well. On paper this is good news for the consumer as it could help rapidly bring prices for ultrabooks down. However, Windows programs cannot run on ARM processors as is and apps will need a lot of re-written code as well as UI enhancements to work on this new device platform. But the ARM camp is pretty excited about being able to move their chips upstream and supporting Windows 8 and this dynamic alone will shake up the market in 2012.

As for a top 10 PC vendor pulling out of the consumer PC business, I think that this is inevitable. All of the PC vendors are working on 5% or lower margins for their PC’s sold and given their costs of advertising, overhead and channel support, it is really hard for any of them that do not have a major enterprise business to help bolster profits through software and services, to compete. That is why I believe that at least one of the top 10 PC vendors pull out of the consumer market by the end of 2012.

Yes, 2012 will be a most interesting year in computing. And with these disruptions in the works, it is poised to perhaps become most explosive year we have seen in some time when it comes to altering the direction of the PC market.