Apple’s iPad has captured 80% of the tablet computer market in the US in April to July new reserach has found.The iPad accounted for six million of all 7.5 million tablets shipped in North America during the second quarter of 2011, according to research group Strategy Analytics.
It described Apple as a “formidable market leader”.
Yet they added that Amazon – which has unveiled its own tablet yesterday – could become a big challenger.
Stategy Analytics senior analyst Alex Spektor said: “Apple remains a long way ahead of its main rivals such as Motorola, Samsung, RIM, Asus and HTC.
“A combination of cool branding, user-friendly hardware, entertaining services and savvy retail distribution has made Apple a formidable market leader.”
“Provided the pricing, screen size and hardware design are right, Amazon can be one of the main challengers to Apple’s dominance,” said Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics.
“Like Apple, Amazon has a strong brand, compelling content, sophisticated billing systems and widespread distribution.
“In effect, Amazon’s new tablet product represents a good opportunity to place an Amazon shopping cart in the hands of American consumers, offering optimised access to purchasing digital content or physical goods from the Amazon online store.”
The continuing popularity of Apple’s iPad comes despite its incompatibility with Adobe Flash software, meaning that users cannot view a large number of online videos.
Rivals such as Samsung are quick to highlight in their advertising that their tablets are able to use Flash.
Apple and Samsung, which makes the Galaxy range of tablets, are also continuing a number of legal disputes over patents.
The iPad was first released in April 2010, with the second version, the iPad 2, following in March of this year.
Amazon has launched a new tablet computer called the Kindle Fire- which will undercut Apple’s iPad2.The £130 device will run a modified version of Google’s Android operating system.
As well as targeting Apple’s iPad, Amazon is likely to have its sights on rival bookseller US Barnes & Noble, which already has a colour tablet.
The Kindle Fire will enter a hugely competitive market, dominated by Apple’s iPad who currently have 80% of the tablet market.
Amazon will be hoping to leverage both the strength of the Kindle brand, built up over three generations of its popular e-book reader, and its ability to serve up content such as music and video.
In recent years, the company has begun offering downloadable music for sale, and also has a streaming video-on-demand service in the United States. Those, combined with its mobile application store, give it a more sophisticated content “ecosystem” than most of its rivals.
Amazon Kindle Fire Facts
7″ IPS (in-plane switching) display
1024 x 600 resolution
Customised Google Android operating system
Weighs 413 grammes
Dual core processor
8GB internal storage
Amazon sees the hardware almost as a loss leader who can make their money by selling content whereas Apple profit from hardware sales and software sales are a “nice to have”.
Digital content has already proved itself to be a money-spinner for Amazon.
Although the company has never released official sales figures for the Kindle, it did state – in December 2010 – that it was now selling more electronic copies of books than paper copies.
Its US rival, Barnes & Noble, has also enjoyed success with its Nook devices.
In October 2010, the company unveiled the Nook Color, which also runs a version of Android, albeit with lower hardware specs than many fully featured tablets.
While the Nook Color is largely focused on book and magazine reading, some users have managed to unlock its wider functionality and install third-party apps.
Kindle Touch Amazon has dropped the keyboard from some of its Kindles in favour of touch
The Kindle Fire’s £130 price tag undercuts the Nook Color by £30 and is significantly cheaper than more powerful tablets from Apple, Samsung, Motorola and others.
It is due to go on sale on 15 November in the US, although global release dates are currently unavailable.
“These are premium products at non premium prices,” said Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. “We are going to sell millions of these.”
Facebook has outlined plans to encourage users to share more of the media they consume – including music and movies with friends- as well as once again changing their users’ security options.Its founder Mark Zuckerberg also unveiled a dramatic redesign to the website, replacing user profiles with an audio visual timeline of their life.
The updates were revealed at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference.
A wave of new features in recent weeks have been welcomed by some users and caused annoyance to many others.
Facebook’s latest changes point to a desire to keep users engaged through new features, in the midst of rapid innovation from social networking rivals.
The site’s application platform has been redesigned to allow users to share what they are consuming on streaming music services such as Spotify, and the movie rental site Netflix.
Depending on privacy settings, users will be able to see what friends are doing – for example, playing a song – then listen-in themselves.
Mr Zuckerberg said he wanted to create, what he called, “real time serendipity”.
“Being able to click on someone’s music is a great experience, but knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common is awesome,” he added.
Facebook said that users would only be able to do as much on the site as its media partners allowed in each country, so free music sharing through streaming apps would only work where that service was already available outside Facebook.
Alongside the deeper integration of media content, the restyling of Facebook’s profile pages is also likely to prove a hot topic among users.
Identities will now be defined through a densely packed vertical timeline of major life events, made up of photos, videos and other items. The level of detail diminishes the further down a reader scrolls.
Profile pages had previously been limited to basic information along with a stream of every single item posted by a user.
Facebook stressed that all of its new offerings could be controlled by members using its recently simplified privacy controls.
In particular, it stressed that timeline items could be modified within the new “activity log”, allowing users to limit who can view certain events from their past.
The updates are expected to start appearing on users’ computers in coming weeks.
Google is marking its teenage years by turning its home page into a birthday party scene.Surrounded by multi-coloured balloons and streamers, its logo is adorned with party hats and sits behind a table heaped with wrapped presents and a large white birthday cake with 13 candles.
Although Google’s founders Stanford University graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin built their first search engine in 1996, it was not until 1998 when the graduated with PhDs that they formalised their research and created Google.
The company filed for incorporation on September 4, 1998, and the Google.com domain was registered on September 15. The search engine officially celebrates its birthday on September 27.
The pair came up with the name as a play on the word “googol”, the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
“The name reflects the immense volume of information that exists and the scope of Google’s mission: To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” claims Google.
The anniversary comes at a time when the company faces increasing legislative scrutiny and is locked in intense rivalries with the social networking site Facebook and smart phone operator Apple.
The search engine recently launched its Google+ social networking service to all users, in an effort to counter Facebook’s rising popularity.
However, other research shows that Google enjoys a 90 per cent share of the global internet search market and over 30% of the smart phone OS market.
Online video content creators are now making significant amounts of money from a range of ways.
Since the explosion of streaming video several years ago, hosting sites have become home to a growing numberof video makers attracting devoted followings for everything from music and sketch comedy to make-up tips.
Meanwhile, online video has become a career for thousands of video creators, with some making hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
As online video viewership has grown – YouTube draws 500 million unique visitors each month – marketers hope to take advantage of the dedicated audiences and low barriers to entry.
Video creators in turn are making money from hosting sites such as YouTube, DailyMotion and Blip.tv, which share a portion of the profits derived from video and banner advertisements.
YouTube, for one, has distributed millions of dollars in advertising revenue to its 20,000 most popular amateur producers since 2007.
A still from an episode of Annoying Orange on Blip.tv Blip.tv, which hosts the Annoying Orange comedy show describes its content as “the best in original web series”
“We share millions of dollars with our partners every year,” said Tom Sly, the site’s head of strategic partner development.
The amount advertisers pay varies with the popularity and quality of the videos, with creators receiving as much as $20 (£12.70) per thousand views.
“Across the board we’re seeing those numbers increase as we see higher quality content and the ability to target users so that advertisers have more fine-grained control,” Mr Sly said.
In 2010, the number of YouTube partners making over $1,000 (£600) per month from advertising revenue went up 300%, the company said.
The company declined to release specific figures, but Mr Sly said “hundreds” of video creators make more than $100,000 a year and “thousands” make more than $10,000 a year.
The top performing web shows on Blip.tv are on target to take in more than $1m in advert revenue each, said Eric Mortensen, senior director of programming.
“There are certain class of people, and it’s not that they are rejecting TV, they never even thought to be like TV in the first place,” he said. “And because of that they are doing new and different things and that’s how they end up making money.”
Industry analysts say that online video audiences are loyal and attentive and feel a connection to the creators.
In addition to advert revenue sharing, some video creators make as much as $150,000 a year by cutting sponsorship deals with major companies, said former YouTube executive George Strompolos, founder of Fullscreen, a start-up that aims to facilitate connections between corporate sponsors and video creators.
Aware of the power of recommendations from such seemingly personal relationships, companies like Ford, GE, and Lancome are directly reaching out to video makers to hawk their products.
Online video creators work without the need for teams of agents, managers, markets and developers, Mr Strompolos said.
“Online video tends to be a one-stop shop solution,” Mr Strompolos said. “You get not only the creative development and the authenticity of voice you’re looking for, but you also get distribution and reach.”
As the online video advertising and merchandising infrastructures become more sophisticated, analysts say more and more people are likely to strike out on their own in web video.
This is becoming the new television- a place where the average person has a much better chance of getting noticed and making money than if they were to go the traditional route via Hollywood.
Alan Lastufka, author of YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts, said: “The money may not always be headline-worthy, but it’s enough to quit your day job, stay in the basement on your computer and spend your time connecting with fans.”
The UK government is failing to take a strong lead in protecting mission critical systems such as power and water from cyber attack.Chatham House said there was a reluctance to share information with institutions that might be targeted.
It also criticised those same institutions for putting up with an “unacceptably high level of risk”.
The government said that it ranked cyber security as a top priority.
Last year it announced £650m of additional funding to help tackle computer-based threats. Around £130m or 20% is specifically earmarked for critical infrastructure projects.
There have been numerous warnings in recent years about the risk of computerised systems being vulnerable to attack.
The issue received additional prominence following the discovery of the Stuxnet worm which was used to damage systems used in Iran’s nuclear programme.
Chatham House’s review was based on a series of interviews with senior figures in companies considered to be part of the critical national infrastructure, such as electricity, oil and gas.
Many were searching for guidance, according to the report, but government had failed to create an “authoritative ‘big picture’… that could help develop a more comprehensive and urgent sense of the cyber threats that need to be tackled.”
It recommends that government assumes an “integral role in shaping the discourse, informing wider society and raising levels of awareness.”
The report also contains criticism of the private sector.
With large parts of the UK’s infrastructure – such as nuclear and the power grid – being run by private companies, there was an expectation that they would be alert to growing online threats.
The reality was often very different, according to David Clemente, a cyber security researcher at Chatham House.
“Many only pay attention to it after something unpleasant has happened to them or a competitor and they realise they have to pay attention, perhaps throw some money at the problem,” said Mr Clemente.
The report urges companies to make cyber security a key component of their risk strategy.
It also warns against cutting corners “in the pursuit of efficiency savings and improved quarterly returns.”
Inputting new stories into a supercomputer may help predict major world events according to US research.A study, based on millions of articles, charted deteriorating national sentiment ahead of the recent revolutions in Libya and Egypt.
While the analysis was carried out retrospectively, scientists say the same processes could be used to anticipate upcoming conflict.
The system also picked up early clues about Osama Bin Laden’s location.
Kalev Leetaru, from the University of Illinois’ Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, presented his findings in the journal First Monday.
The study’s information was taken from a range of sources including the US government-run Open Source Centre and BBC Monitoring, both of which monitor local media output around the world.
News outlets which published online versions were also analysed, as was the New York Times’ archive, going back to 1945.
In total, Mr Leetaru gathered more than 100 million articles.
Reports were analysed for two main types of information: mood – whether the article represented good news or bad news, and location – where events were happening and the location of other participants in the story.
Mood detection, or “automated sentiment mining” searched for words such as “terrible”, “horrific” or “nice”.
Location, or “geocoding” took mentions of specific places, such as “Cairo” and converted them in to coordinates that could be plotted on a map.
Analysis of story elements was used to create an interconnected web of 100 trillion relationships.
Data was fed into an SGI Altix supercomputer, known as Nautilus, based at the University of Tennessee.
The machine’s 1024 Intel Nehalem cores have a total processing power of 8.2 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second).
Based on specific queries, Nautilus generated graphs for different countries which experienced the “Arab Spring”.
In each case, the aggregated results of thousands of news stories showed a notable dip in sentiment ahead of time – both inside the country, and as reported from outside.
Egypt sentiment graph Media “sentiment” around Egypt fell dramatically in early 2011, just before the resignation of President Mubarak.
For Egypt, the tone of media coverage in the month before President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation had fallen to a low only seen twice before in the preceding 30 years.
Previous dips coincided with the 1991 US aerial bombardment of Iraqi troops in Kuwait and the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
Similar drops were seen ahead of the revolution in Libya and the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s.
Saudi Arabia, which has thus far resisted a popular uprising, had experienced fluctuations, but not to the same extent as some other states where leaders were eventually overthrown.
The computer event analysis model appears to give forewarning of major events, based on deteriorating sentiment.
However, in the case of this study, its analysis is applied to things that have already happened. According to Kalev Leetaru, such a system could easily be adapted to work in real time, giving an element of foresight.
Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has seen its second quarter profits more than halve- hurt by low demand for its older models RIM shipped 10.6 million smartphones between June and August but expects a pick up in sales during the next quarter.
The firm started to roll out new smartphones but only late in the quarter.
Net profits fell to £208 million for the three months to 27 August, from £498 million in the same period a year earlier.
In July, the company said it would cut 2,000 jobs – 11% of its workforce – as part of a shake-up of its operations.
Revenue for the second quarter fell to £2.65 billion, a drop of 10% on the same three months last year.
During the quarter, RIM shipped some 10.6 million Blackberry smartphones and about 200,000 Blackberry PlayBook tablets, which was well below analysts’ expectations.
Following the results announcement, RIM’s shares fell by as much as 10% in after-hours trading in New York.
The Canadian firm said it expected business to improve in the third quarter though, forecasting shipments of between 13.5 million and 14.5 million smartphones and revenues of between £3.31 billion and £3.5 billion.
Broadband and landline contracts which automatically tie customers into long term deals will be banned from December Ofcom has warned.Automatically Renewable Contracts (ARCs) kick in if customers do not actively opt out, and impose penalties if users want to move to another service provider.
Ofcom estimates that around 15% of UK residential customers are on such rollover contracts.
BT is one of those using them. Other residential providers include Adept Telecom, Axis Telecom, Eze Talk and iTalk, while TalkTalk Business, Titan Telecoms and Optimum Calls offer ARCs to business users.
Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards said: “ARCs raise barriers to effective competition by locking customers into long term deals with little additional benefit.”
The sale of such contracts will be banned from 31 December.
Michael Phillips, from price comparison website BroadbandChoices, said it was “great news” for consumers.
“Automatic renewal was locking some consumers into services that were no longer suitable for their requirements and were often less competitively priced than newer offerings,” he said.
Ernest Doku, technology expert at price comparison site uSwitch.com said: ”
“Relying on consumer apathy, providers have tried to cling on to customers by forcing people to opt out of a landline or broadband contract.
“Hopefully now the emphasis will be on providing the best service and support possible, so that consumers actively choose to stay with providers, rather than stay with them by default,” he added.