This week’s technology news – 25th October 2013
Battle of the giants recommences?
For 20 years Microsoft and Apple have enjoyed a Titan battle with each other, but in recent times have turned their fire on upstart, Google. This week’s double launch by Apple of a new, thinner i-Pad alongside a high spec and typically expensive computer, re-confirmed their commitment to the computer market. Despite representing only a fraction of profits, their dig at another company (Microsoft) for not knowing whether it wanted to be a tablet or a PC was clear. Added to which Apple’s latest Mac OS, Mavericks, will be free to download, plus updates of iWork apps would now be free on new iOS devices; another challenge to Microsoft whose business model is to charge for Windows and Office. Game on!
How mobile are our communications in the UK?
Ofcom’s latest infrastructure report on broadband looked at mobile coverage on roads for the first time. Whilst superfast broadband is now available to around 75% of UK users, connecting to broadband on Britain’s roads is trickier. Motorways have good 3G coverage, but just 35% of UK A and B roads are served by all four mobile networks and 4G continues a city-centric rollout. Only 22% of the UK market has upgraded to superfast broadband, perhaps deterred by price premiums as well as doubts over true broadband speed delivery. However, with an eye popping 650million gigabytes of data being transmitted every month and an ever increasing mobile workforce, it is essential that network providers improve network access for consumers and business more effectively to enable satisfaction both on and off the job.
Desert song springboard for Nokia
In Nokia’s last big PR event before the sale of its hardware unit, the Finnish firm unveiled its first phablets (extra large phones with ability to change which objects are in focus), as well as its first tablet computer with a 4G data chip, in Abu Dhabi this week. With Microsoft’s marketing power, the marriage should enable a greater market share in future for handset and tablets. With sales of Nokia growing, Microsoft’s business users may be persuaded that Windows Phones are becoming a safe solution. The 6” displays will allow extra rows of apps (including the eagerly anticipated arrival of Instagram) and make the touchscreen keyboards easier to use – likely to appeal to business users. But having two devices in competition does not make sense. Nokia could become the cheaper, media focused device for consumers, whilst Microsoft keep the more expensive Intel-based Surface Pro for business. Eyes on for future sales reports.
Minority reports of a virtual advance
Taiwan based R&D organisation ITRI, has announced a virtual display, the i-Air Touch, using special goggles. These allow users to see and interact with virtual keyboards, data, images and touchscreens that float out in front of users, controlled by finger strokes. Developed for PCs, laptops, wearable computers and mobile devices, the users’ hands are free of any physical device. With a DDDR camera as a key component and a close range signal register to avoid mishaps, the i-Air Touch also benefits from conserving battery power, a traditional challenge. Patented and ready to roll out to manufacturers, the initial markets other than consumers are likely to be the medical and industrial sectors. With the world going rapidly virtual, it is a good guess that that it could catch on.