Approximately 90 percent of all tablets in the U.S. relied on Wi-Fi over 3G mobile broadband last year, according to industry analyst Chetan Sharma. In his most recent wireless market update report that summarizes the industry in 2011, Sharma suggests that carriers aren’t a needed distribution chain for slates; at least not yet.
Perhaps more interesting is Sharma’s chart comparing U.S. tablet sales between Wi-Fi and cellular tablets. Although mobile broadband networks are expanding in coverage and rising in speeds due to next-generation technologies such as HSPA+ and LTE, there isn’t a huge increase in the number of 3G-capable tablet sales. And my suspicion is that most tablets with integrated mobile broadband are iPads for two reasons: The obvious first is that the iPad is the top-selling tablet, but the more important reason is the lack of carrier subsidy and 3G plan commitments.
This point gets back to a poll I ran just over a year ago, asking readers if 3G is needed in a tablet or if Wi-Fi is good enough. More than 1,300 responses came in with nearly 54 percent suggesting that Wi-Fi-only was more desirable. That’s a much lower result than Sharma’s sales figures, but with our more tech-centric readership, it’s not a total surprise.
Polls aside, why would Wi-Fi be more desirable in a tablet to most people? For starters, a Wi-Fi device typically has a lower up-front cost; even the new iPad with with 4G LTE service adds $130 solely for the option of using mobile broadband. Second is the contract commitment of a 3G or 4G tablet. Apple’s iPad is the lone exception here as there is no contract required. Instead, iPad owners purchase mobile broadband data a month at a time or simply choose not to use the feature.
But for all other tablets sold with mobile broadband connectivity, there’s typically a two-year contract as the carrier has paid for part of the hardware. That means consumers are paying for mobile data each month, whether they use it or not. And there’s another issue with this model: the device life cycle. The mobile industry is changing so rapidly that a tablet purchased now could be perceived as “outdated” in as little as nine to 15 months due to hardware advances. That doesn’t mesh will with a 24-month device commitment with early termination fees upwards of $350.
Lastly, there’s the issue of multiple data plans. Although I’ve seen no hard numbers demonstrating it, my gut tells me that most tablet owners already have a 3G- or 4G-capable smartphone. In other words, a tablet isn’t likely to be the first mobile broadband device one purchases. If true, it means that tablet owners are getting a second data plan with carriers, which isn’t appealing. As Sharma notes, however, that’s likely to change soon:
“Operators who start to bundle multiple devices by single data plans and data buckets are going to see a better yield in this category. We expect family data plans to be introduced in the US market soon.”
I agree with his assessment; family or shared data plans will help, although the devil’s in the details of such plans. If carriers continue to subsidize the hardware and require long-term contracts for tablets however, I don’t see the situation changing anytime soon.
Personally, I like the freedom of using a connected tablet anywhere I want to. But after buying my first slate with 3G back in 2010, I’ve since opted to go with Wi-Fi models. My new iPad and my Galaxy Tab 7.7 are both Wi-Fi only; if I really need to get connected with either, I’ll simply use my phone as a temporary hotspot and skip both the long-term tablet commitments and extra data plan that’s specific to hardware I’ll likely replace long before a two-year contract. Bring on the shared data plans, carriers, and I’ll reconsider.
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For those that owned an iPhone prior to purchasing the iPad, the first thing you will notice is that there are fewer apps installed on your iPad than on your iPhone when you start it up for the first time. Some of the missing apps are more obvious than others, like the Phone app. But others, like the Calculator app, are oddly omitted despite their utility on a tablet. Here is a list of suggested replacements from the App Store that will bring your iPad up to par with the functionality you have come to expect from your iPhone, right out of the box.
Calculator. It just seems funny to have one of the world’s greatest computing platforms in your hands and not be able to check your sums. It does not have to be too terribly fancy. Just something to keep you honest when your basic math skills are called upon. Calculator Pro ($0.99, Universal) from Apalon has a similar look and feel to the calculator app that comes on the iPhone. You can also select from different themes if you want something other than the classic look.
Clock. Something else that computers do well is count time. Up, down, forward and backward. Beyond simply telling the time or setting an alarm, you may also want an app that has a good stop watch and countdown timer. Clock Pro HD ($2.99, Universal) from the Alarm Clock Company has all of the features associated with the iPhone Clock like a world clock, stop watch, timer and alarm. You also get a chess clock and metronome.
Voice Memos. Some may think that with the new dictation feature of the iPad that voice memos are a thing of the past. But there are times when you are not connected to a network and you still want to capture that great idea — with or without the aid of speech to text. QuickVoice Recorder (Free, Universal) from nFinity is just a simple voice recorder that allows for quick and easy access to your recorded messages. It supports background recording and you can even e-mail your recorded messages or sync them to your Mac. The latest version will also record custom ringtones.
Compass. Knowing which way you are going is always a good thing. All versions of the iPad come equipped with a digital compass sensor on-board. Compass 54 Pro ($0.99, Universal) from Alexander Galstyan is a very attractive implementation of a compass that adds a few more features not present in the iPhone stock version, such as altitude, course, speed and weather.
Weather. There are certainly plenty of competing weather apps out there. So many, in fact, that weather is one of the leading app purchases just behind games and hence has its own category. The Weather Channel (Free. iPad) is the standard. Supporting daily and hourly forecasts with map views of radar data and even video updates of your local weather conditions, it even supports push alerts for severe weather conditions.
Stocks. If you have a portfolio to manage, then you likely are using your broker’s app rather than a generic stock app. But if you are just curious to see what is going on in the market place, MarketDash for iPad (Free, iPad) from Yahoo!has all of the functionality of the iPhone Stocks app, but takes full advantage of the larger iPad screen. You can even create a custom list of stocks to follow.
Phone. Yes, you can make phone calls to actual land lines directly from your iPad, and even use a Bluetooth headset while you are on the call. Talkatone (Free, Universal) from TalkMe.IM can actually place calls from your iPad using Google’s free Voice service. You can receive calls, access voice mail and even send SMS text messages. It’s like having a real phone on your iPad.
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“Ephemera related to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece of modern horror, The Shining.” Caretaker: Lee Unkrich. He’s always been the caretaker.?
I’ll say it: this is actually a pretty good spot from Microsoft for IE 9. It’s part of this campaign.?
Now that Apple has shown how it plans to spend some of its staggering $100-billion cash hoard — by paying a dividend and buying back its own shares — plenty of people have ideas about what else it could do with that growing mountain of money. Barry Ritholtz, a widely-followed financial analyst and blogger, argues that one of the things Apple should buy is Twitter, primarily because doing so would add the crucial social component that Apple still lacks, despite its growing dominance in personal electronics and entertainment. But is he right?
Although Twitter’s market value is estimated to be about $9 billion or so — based on the company’s last financing round — there’s no question that Apple could buy the company quite easily (along with a huge number of other things, including Research In Motion and Facebook). According to some estimates, Apple’s massive cash pile will likely continue to grow despite the fact that it is now going to be paying out $15 billion in dividends every year, and there’s a good chance that Twitter — if it wanted to sell at all — would accept Apple stock as part of the package.
The biggest roadblock to such a deal, as Ritholtz suggests, isn’t financial but cultural: Apple has so far never spent more than about half a billion dollars on an acquisition (that we know of), and the vast majority of its deals have been small, tactical purchases of specific technology. A $10-billion-plus deal for Twitter would be extremely unlikely based on that track record, although it could be argued that new CEO Tim Cook is looking for ways of doing things differently. The dividend and stock buyback themselves are also a pretty major break with tradition, as my GigaOM colleague Erica Ogg has pointed out.
And what is the main benefit? Ritholtz argues that one of Apple’s biggest Achilles heels — and one of the biggest risks for the company in the future — is that it makes great devices, but it has virtually no presence in the social software end of things:
Apple does software and hardware really well; they do the integration between the two outstandingly. But they haven?t really done Social particularly well… Twitter automagically makes Apple a defacto player in social. Apple?s biggest competitors over the next decade are not HP or Dell or even Microsoft ?- they are more likely to be Google and Facebook.
Ritholtz is right on that score: although Apple fanboys and devotees may wish to deny it, Apple’s track record with social features is fairly pathetic. Not only is iTunes itself almost a throwback to the days when software seemed hermetically sealed off from other users, but efforts like the almost universally-panned Ping network and even the Game Center service are mostly sad attempts at bolting on some social functionality. In an age when virtually every business arguably has to become more social in order to maintain its market share, Apple is woefully behind.
Apple’s best effort by far at adding those kinds of social elements came when the company integrated Twitter at a deep — and for Apple, a fairly radical — level into the operating system on the iPhone and iPad (and even into its new desktop OS, OS-X Mountain Lion). Never before had Apple built support for a third-party service into its devices and software in such a fundamental way. This helped fuel rumors about an Apple acquisition, just as Ritholtz and others have used it to justify such a deal: if Apple wants to integrate Twitter so deeply, why not just acquire it so that it has full control?
The fact that Apple likes to control things from end-to-end is well known, which is just one of the reasons why the deep Twitter integration was a bit of a surprise. But does it really need to own Twitter in order to get the benefits of that integration? I don’t think so. It can get all the positive aspects of Twitter support without having to own the company — and it doesn’t have to worry about the hassle of maintaining a third-party service that is used for a wide variety of different purposes that Apple has no real interest in.
Not only that, but buying Twitter could actually harm Apple’s attempts to integrate more social aspects into its devices, because it would make it even less likely that the company would ever strike a similar deal with Facebook — something it has tried to do a number of times. It could be that Facebook has no intention of ever partnering with Apple, and the two may wind up becoming adversaries as their interests converge, but acquiring Twitter would likely remove any chance of the two ever working together in even a small way.
As Ritholtz admits, Google seems like a much more obvious candidate for acquiring Twitter, since building market share in social services is arguably even more important for the search company than it is for Apple — and while Google+ has large user numbers, it’s not clear whether it is accomplishing what the company needs it to. As for whether Twitter should sell itself to anyone at all, that is a question for another day.
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Apple’s finally giving that money back to its shareholders.?
Indie developer Andrevon Philippe introduces Kids Fun 1.0 for iPad. Kids Fun, more than 70 games and activities to play, create, learn and have fun! An all-in-one, award winning app, sold in more than 30 countries and exclusively available on iPad and iPhone. Puzzles, matching, coloring, memory, hide-and-seek, dot-to-dot, spot the differences, stickers, mixed animals and a sound picture book. More than 70 activities and numerous surprises that will give your children hours & hours of fun.
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The gist of Mike Daisey’s defense is the idea that, though the pieces of his story weren’t actually true, they combined to make for a story that painted a larger truth. Wrong. Daisey was not getting at a larger truth. He was instead painting a big lie.
In the last forty-eight hours I have been equated with StephenGlass, James Frey, and Greg Mortenson.
That’s because, like them, Daisey fabricated sensational stories and passed them off as the truth.
Given the tenor of the condemnation, you would think I hadconcocted an elaborate, fanciful universe filled with furnaces inwhich babies are burned to make iPhone components, or that I neverwent to China, never stood outside the gates of Foxconn, neverpretended to be a businessman to get inside of factories, neverspoke to any workers.
No one is disputing that Daisey went to China. No one is disputing he spoke to workers outside the gates of Foxconn. What is disputed are the sensational aspects of Daisey’s story: that he encountered several underage workers, that he met workers poisoned by n-hexane, that he met a man with permanently mangled hands who injured himself assembling iPads. This American Life and Rob Schmitz showed these claims to be fabrications.
Especially galling is how many are gleefully eager to dance on mygrave expressly so they can return to ignoring everything aboutthe circumstances under which their devices are made.
No one is gleeful about any of this. The outing of a serial fabricator is sad. No one, as a result of Daisey being outed as a liar, is now looking to ignore labor conditions in Chinese factories.
Given the tone, you would think I had fabulated an elaborate hoax,filled with astonishing horrors that no one had ever seen before.
“Hoax” is exactly the right word, but the semantic dodge in the second clause of the above sentence is at the heart of Daisey’s defense of his work: that it matters not that he didn’t actually see the things he claimed to have seen, because all of those things actually happened, at some point, in some place. This is terribly misleading. The whole point of Daisey’s show, his status as a the leading critic of Apple’s labor practices, was that he saw these things himself, first-hand.
?The actual truth — that underage workers have been discovered, that over 100 workers had been harmed by exposure to n-hexane, that there were a rash of suicides-by-jumping and as a result Foxconn dormitories now have gruesome safety nets installed — has already been reported. And these facts were all reported by, among others, Apple itself. Now, you can argue that Apple’s reporting of these facts has been presented euphemistically, to present the facts in the company’s favor. But the fact remains that Apple itself has acknowledged and reported all that we know to be true about problems with the company’s Asian supply chain.
I would argue that the most powerful credible overview of the problems in Apple’s Chinese manufacturing is the reporting by Charles Duhigg and David Barboza for The New York Times, earlier this year. But after re-reading their story for the Times, as well as Apple’s own 2012, 2011, and 2010 “Supplier Responsibility” reports, I can’t find anything reported by the Times that Apple itself hasn’t reported. The Times’s report is more compelling; it adds color and punch and presents its conclusions more powerfully and emotionally through its use of a narrative. But factually, the Times’s reporting gives credence to the scope and accuracy Apple’s own public reporting.
Daisey told an entirely different story. Daisey’s story was this: Not only did those things happen, but they are all ongoing problems, right now, today, and they are so rampant, so commonplace, that a big white American wearing a Hawaiian shirt — a man who’s never before been to China and speaks neither Mandarin nor Cantonese — can simply travel to Shenzhen China and stand outside the Foxconn gates with a translator for a few shifts and he will find workers as young as 12, 13, 14 walking out. Any day, every day. That in the course of a single six-day trip, that same man could encounter a man who lost the use of a hand while assembling iPads, a group of workers poisoned by n-hexane, and that a man would drop dead after working a 34-hour shift. Just another week at Foxconn. That was Mike Daisey’s story — and it bears no resemblance to anything anyone else has reported.
Not just implicitly but explicitly the point of Daisey’s “reporting” was, more or less, that Apple has admitted only to what it’s been caught doing, and that truth is far worse than what the company’s own reports have acknowledged.
There’s a popular online petition at Change.org which has amassed over 250,000 signatures. It begins:
You know what?s awesome? Listening to NPR podcasts through anApple Airport, playing through a Mac laptop, while putteringabout the kitchen. Do you know the fastest way to replace awesomewith a terrible knot in your stomach? Learning that your belovedApple products are made in factories where conditions are so bad,it?s not uncommon for workers to permanently lose the use oftheir hands.
Last week?s This American Life shined a spotlight on the workingconditions in the Chinese factories where iPhones are made. Justone example of the hardships there: the men and women in thesefactories work very long days spent repeating the same motionsover and over, which creates amped-up carpal tunnel syndrome intheir wrists and hands. This often results in them losing the useof their hands for the rest of their lives. This condition couldbe easily prevented if the workers were rotated through differentpositions in the factory, but they are not. Why? Because there areno labor laws in China to protect these people.
No one other than Mike Daisey has reported about such repetitive stress injuries. And he made it up. 250,000 people believed him — in no small part because of the credibility of Ira Glass and This American Life — and signed a petition. There is no larger truth here. This is not a mistake. This is simply a lie, a lie that was told to draw attention and create sympathy at the expense of the actual truth.
The most egregious of Daisey’s lies is the following bit from “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. You can read it on page 31 of the downloadable transcript. You can watch Daisey perform this segment by watching this report from CBS News, broadcast back in January, starting around the 2:00 mark. I recommend watching, because Daisey is indeed a talented performer.
But I do know that in my first two hours of my first day at thatgate, I met workers who were fourteen years old, I met workers whowere thirteen years old, I met workers who were twelve.
Do you really think Apple doesn?t know?
In a company obsessed with the details, with the aluminum beingmilled just so, with the glass being fitted perfectly into thecase, do you really think it?s credible that they don?t know?
This is not about the “larger truth” that there have been child labor violations at Apple suppliers. This is about a big lie: that Apple as an institution, and its executives personally, have a callous disregard for the welfare of children and are either lying to us or looking the other way.
The truth, so far as everyone else has reported — Apple itself, The New York Times, Nightline — is that underage workers at Apple suppliers are very rare. Apple’s 2011 Supplier Responsibility report cites 91 instances (out of around 500,000 total workers). Their 2012 report states:
We discovered a total of 6 active and 13 historical cases ofunderage labor at 5 facilities. In each case, the facility hadinsufficient controls to verify age or detect false documentation.We found no instances of intentional hiring of underage labor.
We required the suppliers to support the young workers? return toschool and to improve their management systems — such as laborrecruitment practices and age verification procedures — toprevent recurrences.
The actual larger truth — underage workers, unsafe conditions, grueling hours, crowded dormitories — are all real problems, and all deserve our attention. But that’s exactly what Apple itself has been saying for five years. It’s also what journalists from the Times to ABC Nightline have been reporting for years.
Daisey impugned the integrity of Apple, and the journalism of the New York Times and ABC News in order to work people up regarding problems that don’t exist. This only served to draw attention away from the labor, health, and environmental issues in Apple’s Asian supply chain that do exist.
He has hurt the true cause, not helped it.
Daisey, near the end of his “I’m not going away” piece yesterday:
I believe the truth is vitally important. I continue to believethat. I believe that I will answer for the things I have done.
If Daisey actually believed any of that, he’d never perform his show again. I think what Daisey really believes is that he deserves the attention his lies have brought him, and so he has no intention to stop telling them.
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Sam Byford, writing for The Verge, “Tests Show New iPad Runs Up to 18 Percent Hotter Than iPad 2”:
Dutch website Tweakers.net has taken an infrared camera to the newiPad and revealed that it runs at up to 33.6 degrees Celsius (92.5Fahrenheit) when running the GLBenchmark — that’s an 18.7 percentincrease on the iPad 2, which reached 28.3 degrees Celsius (82.9Fahrenheit).
As Alex Dedalus points out on Twitter, to say this is a crap headline is give crap headlines a bad name. Celsius and Fahrenheit are relative temperature scales, not absolute, so you can’t do percentage-based comparisons. Think about it: 33.6 / 28.3 gives you an “18.7 percent” increase, but if you do the math with the same temperatures in Fahrenheit, you get 92.5 / 82.9 = “11.6 percent” increase. If you really want to do a percentage based comparison, you need to convert to an absolute temperature scale like Kelvin, which shows you that it’s actually a 1.8 percent increase in temperature (306.75 / 301.45). This is middle school science.
That doesn’t make for a good Verge headline though, and neither would “5.3 degrees” (Celsius), so I suggest going with Fahrenheit — “Tests Show New iPad Runs Up to 10 Degrees Hotter Than iPad 2” — to maximize the sensational impact while still being technically true.?