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Monthly Archives: April 2011


E Ink Holdings EPD prospects are good

See also:
E Ink Holdings (8069.TWO) Initiate at Buy: Dual Growth Engines to Propel Earnings [comprehensive  32 pages evaluation by Citi Investment Research & Analysis, a

EIH posts sharp revenue declines in December [Jan 9, 2012]

E Ink Holdings (EIH) has announced consolidated revenues of NT$1.59 billion (US$52.57 million) for December, 2011, a sharp decline of 55% sequentially and 57% on year. For all of 2011, revenues totaled NT$38.43 billion [US$1.27B], increasing 53% from a year earlier, according to a company filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Affected by seasonal factors, EIH is expected to see its revenue continue to drop by a double-digit rate in the first quarter of 2012, the Chinese-language Commercial Times quoted industry watchers as indicating.

EIH looks to reach its shipment goal for 2011 [Dec 23, 2011]

Despite a decline in revenues in November, E Ink Holdings (EIH) will still be able to reach its goal of shipping 25-30 million EPD (electrophoretic display) products in 2011 with a gross margin of 30%, according to the company.

EIH posted revenues of NT$3.57 billion (US$117.88 million) for November, up 9% on year but sown 33% on month.

While shipments of FFS (fringe field switching) panels have started generating revenues for the company, high-margin EPD products still account for the majority of EIH’s total sales, allowing the company to maintain a gross margin of over 30%, indicated industry sources.

E-book reader sales are tripling every year [Aug 17, 2011]

Display Search,  a market research firm that is putting on the onference, estimates that e-book display emand could hit around 27 million units this year. That’s about three times the number sold in 2010. It shows that e-book reader sales are holding on to a slice of the portable market, despite
challenges from Apple’s iPad tablet computer.

This technology has already merged and it is in the mass market,” [chief marketing officer Sriram] Peruvemba said.

The competition between e-book readers and Apple’s tablet is a familiar one. It’s like using a specific-purpose device, or using something like a Swiss Army knife. So far, the e-book reader has survived because it has done a better job of providing an electronic reading experience to consumers.

Due to the popularity of the Kindle, e-book reader sales have tripled every year since 2006. That’s a lot of progress for a new kind of display, dubbed an ePaper display, that debuted with the sale of about 100,000 units in 2006. Last year, E Ink Holdings generated $650 million in sales, and this year it expects to surpass $1 billion in revenue, Peruvemba … said.

In its history, E Ink raised $150 million and it will exceed $1 billion in revenue. By comparison, makers of organic light emitting displays have spent perhaps $30 billion and have yet to make a return on that investment. That’s the nature of the display business. E Ink estimates it is the most profitable company in displays. It helps to have a novel idea.

A 6″ E Ink Pearl panel running on the Freescale i.MX50 EVK, showing the quick refresh rate possible with such a setup:

E Ink Holdings hikes 2011 EPD shipments to 25-30 million units [July 29, 2011]

Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. (TAIEX: 2475; “CPT”) and E Ink Holdings Inc. (TAIEX: 8069; “E Ink”) jointly announced today that each of their board of directors had passed a resolution, enabling E Ink to make an investment into CPT with a view to strengthen their collaboration in technology and in production capacity. Through this investment and cooperation, both companies expect to further expand electronic paper and FFS (Fringe Field Switching) panel business. The strategic alliance will further solidify their existing leadership position in eReader, tablets and other mobile devices markets.

The investment will be a total of NT$1.5 billion [US$ 52M] in the form of unsecured convertible bonds issued through private placement in Taiwan. The conversion price will be at NT$3.25 per share. This issue, expected to be completed by the end of July this year, is for a period of 3 years.

This investment enables the expansion of panel production capacity and exchange of related technological information between the two companies. This investment is also aimed at improving the utilization of CPT’s production lines and enabling them to focus on higher-end value-added products.

“This cooperation will strengthen E Ink’s capacity to meet the demand of the fast-growing eReader market while CPT can better utilize their 6th-gen fab,” says E Ink’s Chairman Scott Liu. “More importantly this strategic alliance will expand the relevant markets for both companies”.

The co-operation is expected to result in an integrated supply chain. CPT will also manufacture FFS LCD displays, thereby expanding Hydis’ FFS manufacturing capacity. FFS technology based LCD are the market share leaders in displays for tablets and other mobile devices, just as E Ink’s dual pigment ePaper technology is the market share leader for eReader displays. E Ink’s investment will secure a steady supply of display panels for both its EPD and FFS business.

Hanvon first to adopt E Ink-developed color e-paper display [June 15, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Hanvon Technology, the largest China-based vendor of e-book readers, is the first client adopting a color e-paper display developed by Taiwan-based E Ink Holdings (EIH) and will launch 9.68-inch color e-book readers in the China market in July, according to EIH chairman Scott Liu.

Booming sales of tablet PCs have not impacted global demand for e-book readers, with both market segments growing fast, Liu said, adding global shipments of e-paper display products in 2011 will double or even triple those of 2010.

The average production cost of e-paper displays will drop by 15-20% every year in the near future, approximately offsetting annual decrease of 15-20% in average selling price (ASP) of e-book readers, Liu noted.

Touch e-book readers tend to become a trend, with touchscreens mainly based on infrared and electromagnetic technologies.

End of Updates

EIH sees EPS more than double on year in 1Q11 [April 28, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) has reported net profits of NT$1.67 billion (US$57.71 million) on revenues of NT$10.09 billion for the first quarter of 2011. The earnings translated into an EPS of NT$1.56 for the quarter, which were more than double the NT$0.70 a year earlier but down from NT$1.80 recorded in the previous quarter.

Shipments of EPD products will stay flat in the second quarter due to conservative buying from the LCD segment, and therefore second-quarter revenues will be down slightly from the levels recorded in the first, according to company chairman Scott Lin.

Sales of EPD products contributed 60-70% to EIH’s total revenues in the first quarter and LCD products made up the remaining 30%, the company noted.

With demand for e-book readers expected to continue growing, the global market for EPD products is likely to expand 2-3 fold on year in 2011, EIH estimated.

Amazon’s recent move to cut the price of Kindle e-book readers from US$139 to US$114 in the US market will help drive up EIH’s shipments of e-paper, EIH asserted.

Global sales of EPD products increased 300% in 2010 after the launch of iPad, and so the launch of iPad 2 will have a limited impact on the e-paper industry, EIH commented.

See also the latest update:  E Ink and Epson achieve world-leading ePaper resolution [May 23, 2011]

Digitimes Insight: 2011 global e-book reader shipments to reach 27 million units [April 28, 2011]

Demand for e-book readers remained strong in first-quarter 2011, with global shipments soaring 236% on year to 4.8 million units. Digitimes Research believes global e-book reader shipments will reach 27 million units in 2011.

Among the brand-name vendors, Amazon will continue to be the market leader with an 60% share of global shipments in 2011. Barnes & Noble may hold on to second place, but its gap with third-place Sony will narrow.

North America will remain the biggest market for e-book readers, accounting for 72% of global shipments, but growth in the area is slowing down. E-book reader vendors are now aggresively expanding their presence in the Europe market, which is registering higher-than-average growths.

Monotone e-book readers will remain the mainstream in the next three years, during which no breakthrough in developing color devices can be expected. Global e-book reader shipments will reach 63 million units by 2014.

Source: Digitimes Research, April 2011

E Ink posts strong revenue gains in 1Q11 [April 8, 2011]

Electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) has posted consolidated revenues of NT$3.36 billion (US$115.94 million) for March, up 18.3% sequentially and 79.6% on year.

For the first quarter of 2011, revenues reached NT$10.09 billion, increasing 101.2% from a year earlier. Both the monthly and quarterly figures were the company’s highest records.

Strong marketing for the Kindle e-book readers by Amazon in Europe helped boost EIH’s shipments of EPD products in March, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report.

E Ink to add investment in China subsidiary [March 31]

Electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) has decided to add investment of US$8.0 million in its China-based subsidiary, Transcend Optronics (Yangzhou), which makes tablet PC-use LCD modules (LCMs).

EIH also has plans to take out a 5-year syndicated bank loan of NT$5 billion (US$170 million) for its own, and another US$100 million for its four subsidiaries, E Ink Corporation, Tech Smart Logistics, Transcend Optronics (Yangzhou) and Rich Optronics (Yangzhou).

EIH’s board also decided to buy back 11 million shares of its stock, equivalent to a 1.02% stake, at NT$35-55 per share from March 31-May 30, with the stock to be transferred to employees.

EIH enters EPD-based signage segment [March 16, 2011]

Electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) has ventured into advertising signage in the US, Korea, Taiwan and other markets, leveraging its Ink-In-Motion technology, according to the company.

The EPD signage business will be developed by its Surf business unit, said the company, noting that the business unit has teamed up with Neolux to promote the new business in Korea, and has also cooperated Sinopac bank to launch signage boards in Taiwan.

Supply of e-paper products remains smooth, says EIH [March 15, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) has stated that its production and shipments of EPD products have remained steady as only a small portion of components is coming Japan.

EIH purchases TFT backboards used in EPD production from Taiwan-based Chimei Innolux (CMI) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT), explained the company, noting that shipments of FFS panels from its Korea subsidiary Hydis have not been disrupted.

The company expects its March revenues to bounce back to its historical high of NT$3.88 billion (US$131.66 million) recorded in January after the revenues dropped to NT$2.84 billion in February.

E Ink to triple EPD capacity in 2011 [Feb 16, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Amid increasing demand for e-paper, as well as FFS panels for tablet PCs and smartphones, electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) plans to expand its EPD capacity by 2-3 times in 2011, and will also expand its FFS panel capacity, as well as its component suppliers and OEM proportion, according to company president YS Fu.

Market sources expect EIH’s revenues for 2010 to reach NT$25.18 billion (US$856.47 million), on a net profit of NT$4.03 billion for the year. With expanding market demand and capacity, EIH’s revenues may double to NT$40-50 billion in 2011, the sources added.

In terms of EPDs, Fu indicated that the e-book reader market will continue to increase as research firm data showed that 40% of current iPad owners also own an e-book reader, and 23% of the iPad users showed willingness to purchase an e-book reader in the next year. The data also indicated that e-book readers and tablet PCs are individual products with no conflict in the market, Fu added, saying that the paper like characteristics of EPD is the major reason the e-book reader market will continue to grow.

Fu noted that e-book readers currently still focus on the commercial market and it will take time to develop the education market. With increasing content and dropping prices, the global e-book reader market is expected to reach 10 million units in 2010 and increase to 20-30 million units in 2011, of which the US market will generate the largest demand, while Europe will rapidly increase.

The tablet PC market is gaining attention, and the global market is expected to exceed 50 million units in 2011. Along with surging demand from the smartphone market, EIH’s shipments for FFS panels are expected to increase significantly, and the company plans to expand its capacity as well as looking for new OEM partners in China, in addition to its existing OEM partners Chimei Innolux (CMI) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT)


Intel: accelerated Atom SoC roadmap down to 22nm in 2 years and a “new netbook experience” for tablet/mobile PC market

Update: Intel will be able to maintain the original 22nm timetable with delivery of Haswell and next-gen Atom products on 22nm in Q2 2013 (see: Intel Haswell: “Mobile computing is not limited to tiny, low-performing devices” [Nov 15, 2012]). This progress, however, will not be enough against the 28nm ARM SoCs of that time, so it is proceding further as fast as only could to 14nm. Expect products from this in H2 CY2014: Intel progressing in development of 14nm technology, says CTO [DIGITIMES, Dec 5, 2012]

Intel CTO Justin Rattner on December 4 said that Intel’s development of 14nm technology is on schedule with volume production to kick off in one to two years and development of 18-inch wafers is under way through cooperation with partners.

Rattner also noted that Intel’s aggressiveness over technology advancement will allow Moore’s Law to extend for another 10 years.

At the end of 2013, Intel will enter the generation of 14nm CPUs (P1272 [process: a shrink from the previous P1270 22-nm process as well as a reduction in power consumption]) and SoCs (1273), while expanding its investments at its D1X Fab in Oregon, and Fab 42 in Arizona, the US and Fab 24 in Ireland, and will gradually enter 10nm, 7nm and 5nm process generations starting 2015.

As for Intel’s competitors, Samsung is already set to enter 20nm in 2013 and is already working on its 14nm node, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) 20nm process will enter small volume production in the second half of 2013 with the first 3D-based FPGA chips to also start.
Globalfoundries has previously announced its 14nm FinFET process will start pilot production at the end of 2013 and enter mass production in 2014.
As for 18-inch wafers, Intel has invested in Holland-based ASML for its EUV technology, and related technologies are expected to start entering production in 2017.

See also: Intel’s industry position and prospects for years ahead [Dec 9, 2010]
Intel’s SoC strategy strengthened by 22nm Tri-Gate technology [May 10, 2011]
Netbook prices starting $50 less at $200 via Intel MeeGo strategy [July 29, 2011]

Intel adjusts netbook strategy [April 14, 2011]

Intel has recently adjusted its netbook strategy and is set to cooperate with its partners including Asustek Computer and Acer to launch netbook devices priced below US$199 in regions such as the Middle-East, Latin America and Eastern Europe, according to sources from notebook players.

As for markets such as Europe, the US and China, Intel will continue to push netbook models using the new Cedar Trail-M platform and will add new technologies such as Wireless Display (WiDi) and wireless audio into these devices, for a price of US$299-599 depending on specifications and operating system.

Netbook models priced at US$199 will adopt Intel’s own MeeGo operating system and Intel is currently working on developing content and applications that suit each region and has already demonstrated engineering samples to its partners. Asustek, Acer and several China-based second-tier white-box netbook players have already prepared to launch machines with Intel’s US$199 platform in the second half of 2011.

Updates from Computex 2011:
Chip Shot: Intel Unveils Innovative New Concept Design, “Keeley Lake” [May 31, 2011]

At Computex, Intel unveiled “Keeley Lake ” an innovative, newly-developed convertible design based on the upcoming Intel® Atom™ netbook platform, codenamed “Cedar Trail.” Whether creating with a keyboard or browsing with touch, “Keeley Lake” will offer customers the best of both worlds with stylish designs, sleek form factors, new capacitive multi-touch displays and thinness from 17mm-20mm. Designs like “Keeley Lake” based on “Cedar Trail” will provide the most flexible platform of choice by enabling operating systems including Chrome OS, MeeGo and Windows.  Intel has enabled ODMs with the “Keeley Lake” design and already started to see the demand.

Chip Shot: Medfield – The Next Generation of Tablets from Intel [May 31, 2011]

At Computex, Intel reiterated its Atom System on a Chip (SoC) roadmap, highlighting “Medfield,” which will be built using Intel’s 32nm high-k metal gate process technology. The purpose-built solution will provide lower power, a smaller footprint and more integration of features and performance for the tablet market. “Medfield” will enable sub-9mm tablets that weigh less than 1.5 pounds and provide all day battery life. The processors will be in production later this year for tablet designs in market the first half of 2012 and support a range of operating systems including Google Android (“Honeycomb”), Windows and MeeGo.

Chip Shot: MeeGo Netbooks Based on Intel Atom Arrive at Computex [May 31, 2011]

The ecosystem around MeeGo-based netbooks expands with the introduction of devices including the Acer Aspire One Happy 2, Asus Eee PC X101, Samsung N100 and Lenovo IdeaPad S100 at Computex. These systems are based on the new, 1.33 GHz single-core Intel® Atom™ processor N435. These netbooks will provide new levels of affordability for market expansion. Acer and Asus netbooks will come pre-loaded with the Intel AppUpSM center in select countries. Also at Computex, Acer demonstrated a MeeGo-based tablet on stage at the Intel netbook, tablet and software focused satellite event.

A Brief Interview with Intel’s Sean Maloney [May 27, 2011]

Sean (11).JPGEditor’s Note: A few days before traveling to Taipei, Taiwan, where he is slated to deliver a keynote address at Computex 2011, Intel Free Press had a chance to sit down for a brief conversation with Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney, the newly named chairman of Intel China. Maloney returned to work in January after suffering a stroke last year.

IFP: How do you challenge the critics who are saying that some of this is too little, too late — that the ARM ecosystem is too firmly established now, particularly in tablets and phones?

Maloney: The ARM ecosystem is really well established, but I don’t think that anyone is in the position that Intel is in to get all the way from the bottom to the top. In process technology, we are still 2 years or more in front. I think it will be a good 4 or 5 years.

IFP: Intel has talked a lot about accelerating the SoC (System-on-a-Chip) roadmap, which according to some pundits can’t happen fast enough. Why is it taking so long for the company to accelerate Atom SoCs and is there anything you can do to make it go faster?

Maloney: Well, unfortunately 2 years ago we thought that the market was not moving as fast as it has moved. Now we’ve announced that we will be doing one new process generation every year for the next 3 or 4 years. That’s pretty fast. It’s a big acceleration from where we are now.

IFP: Intel CEO and President Paul Otellini mentioned during the recent investors meeting that China is poised to be No. 1 in the PC market next year. What does that mean for Intel?

Maloney: It means everything, right? The U.S. was the first and foremost market for 43 years at Intel. Now it’s going to be China, No. 1. That’s amazing. Really, I am excited about China. It’s the first market for Intel next year. There are so many things we can do in China, and we’re going to do them.

Accelerating the Intel® Atom™ Processor Roadmap (part of Intel’s Maloney Talks Mobile Growth, Industry Opportunities at Computex [May 30, 2011], emphasis is mine)

Maloney highlighted key milestones and additional details on upcoming generations of Intel Atom processor-based platforms for tablets, netbooks and smartphones. The Atom processor will outpace Moore’s Law, accelerating from 32nm through 22nm to 14nm within 3 successive years. Having a cadence of a new-process-generation every year will result in significant reduction in transistor leakage, lower active power and an increase of transistor density to enable more powerful smartphones, tablets, and netbooks with more features and longer battery life.

Reaching its 100 million-unit milestone this month, Intel is preparing its next-generation netbook platform, codenamed “Cedar Trail.” “Cedar Trail” is the first netbook platform based on Intel’s 32nm technology, and will enable ultra-thin, fanless designs with new capabilities such as Intel® Rapid Start technology which provides fast resume, Intel® Smart Connect Technology which enables an always updated experience even during standby, Intel® Wireless Display and PC Synch, which let users wirelessly update and synchronize documents, content and media across multiple devices. In addition, the new platform is expected to enable more than 10 hours of battery life and weeks of standby. “Cedar Trail” will support leading operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows*, Google Chrome* and MeeGo*.

In addition, Maloney showcased more than 10 tablets, running on three different operating systems, that are available today based on the Intel Atom processor Z670. The platform already has more than 35 design wins since its launch in April, with several convertibles, sliders and other innovative designs on shelves now and more coming through the rest of the year.

[Medfield relevance is only upto 00:48.
Please note at 00:27: “… initially on Android, later on MeeGo …”]

Maloney also discussed “Medfield,” Intel’s first purpose-built 32nm platform for smartphones and tablets.  “Medfield” has been optimized for both low power and high performance and will deliver long use-time, rich media and gaming, and advanced imaging capabilities. To illustrate this point in tablets, Intel showcased a “Medfield” design running Google Android* 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) for the first time. In production later this year, the platform will enable sub-9mm designs that weigh less than 1.5 pounds for tablet designs in market the first half of 2012. It will support a range of operating systems including Android and MeeGo.

According to Maloney, “The work Intel is doing with the Intel® Atom™ processor roadmap, coupled with the significant changes we are making to our Intel® Core™ processor roadmaps, will continue to enhance Intel’s ability to deliver complete hardware solutions with a choice of software platforms across a full spectrum of computing — from back-end servers that power the cloud to the billions of devices that access the cloud.”

Computing Becomes More Personal at Computex [June 7, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Reflecting on Computex last week, I’m once again in awe of all the time and energy across the company (and around the world!) goes into pulling off this event. For Intel, it was a great show. We highlighted several technologies and innovations that will push the envelope when it comes to enhancing what we’re calling “companion computing.” As Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney pointed out in his keynote, “computing is taking many forms” and Intel innovation is the “catalyst” for exciting new technologies that will empower our mobile lifestyles.

I hope you heard our big news around the introduction of a brand new category of ultra-slim laptops called “Ultrabooks,” targeted to penetrate 40 percent of the market by end of 2012.

Along that same vein, the Netbook and Tablet Group at Intel, made some exciting disclosures to help meet the varied expectations of the companion device market. One of those was “Keeley Lake,” a brand new, convertible design based on the upcoming Atom netbook platform, “Cedar Trail.”  With its swivel and fold monitor design, “Keeley Lake” packs in the power and performance of a netbook and the functionality of a tablet.

It will have more than 10 hours of battery life and will include Rapid Start, Smart Connect and Intel Wireless Display for displaying content on TVs and PC Synch.

Intel also highlighted “Medfield,” its first purpose-built 32nm platform for smartphones and tablets. Optimized for low power, high performance and longer use-time, these processors will be in production later this year and you can see “Medfield”-based tablets out in the market in the first half of 2012.

Both “Keeley Lake” and “Medfield” will support a range of operating systems including Windows, Google Android and MeeGo.

Speaking of MeeGo, the ecosystem around MeeGo-based netbooks is expanding. At Computex devices such as the Acer Aspire One Happy series, the Asus Eee PC X101, the Lenovo IdeaPad S100 and Samsung N100 were introduced. These systems are based on the new 1.33 GHz single-core Intel® Atom™ processor N435 and will provide new levels of affordability for market expansion.

At the show, we demonstrated the traction our formerly codenamed “Oak Trail” platform, now the Intel Atom processor Z670, has received since it began shipping in April. “Oak Trail” has garnered huge market acceptance and already has more than 35 design wins, 10 of which were showcased on the Computex stage. In addition, several convertibles and sliders are on shelves now, with more coming through the end of the year.

Mobile computing is indeed taking many new forms and I’m looking forward to the future to see how these shapes evolve. Computex 2011 has definitely set the tone for the exciting times ahead!

End of updates from Computex 2011

Intel pushes Android plans [April 14, 2011]

Intel, in the third quarter of 2011, is set to announce a new plan for tablet PCs – PRC Plus, pushing an Intel/Android 3.0 platform, after nearly half of year of negotiations with Google, according to sources from notebook players. However, Intel declined to comment on market rumors.

The sources pointed out that the PRC Plus plan is to use Intel processor’s advantage of stronger performance than ARM-based processors and improve on the operating system’s user interface and user experience. The new plan is also expected to save costs from Windows licensing fees for downstream vendors.

In addition to pushing an Intel/Android 3.0 platform, Intel is also set to adopt a similar strategy as in the PC industry and pay a subsidy of US$10 for each Intel CPU-based tablet PC to attract first-tier notebook vendors.

Asia-based Acer, Lenovo and Asustek Computer have all agreed to start up new netbook projects in the second half of 2011, while Cisco is also set to launch devices adopting Oak Trail/Android 3.0 targeting the enterprise market, the sources added.

As Android for tablets falters, opportunity for Intel [CNET, April 15, 2011]

Intel has been criticized here and in other venues for being late to the tabletparty. But Android’s slow start in tablets may mean latecomers aren’t necessarily losers.

Intel was demoing an Atom-based tablet at its developer conference in Beijing this week

Intel was demoing an Atom-based tablet at its developer conference in Beijing this week (Credit: Intel)

A stroke of serendipity has arrived in the form of a tepid consumer reception so far for tablets beyond Apple’s iPad. Sales of the Motorola Xoom are, to date, anemic, while the sell-through to consumers of Samsung’s Android tablet has also been underwhelming.

And Digitimes reported todaythat tablet suppliers Asus and HTC are delaying Android tablet rollouts.

Meanwhile, RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook–which is more like an appendage to a BlackBerry phonethan a standalone tablet–is not targeted at the high-volume consumer space.

So, with tablets based on chips from companies like Nvidia (Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab) and Texas Instruments (PlayBook) not likely flying off the shelf, are Intel’s chances any better now?

“The door to this market is open. The longer it takes for these other products to get rolling, the more opportunity there is for Intel,” said Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch.

No hope: Intel’s new Oak Trail chip headed for tablet limbo [Ars Technica, April 13, 2011]

Everything about the Android tablet experience, from the hardware and software to the price point, is inferior to the iPad. So what hope is there for Intel’s Oak Trail to swoop in and change the game?

There is no hope, but that’s not really the point of Oak Trail. Intel’s latest stab at an MID/tablet-oriented hardware platform is just one more step on its long march to the smartphone, a destination it’s unlikely to reach until it gets a future Oak Trail successor down to 22nm. Until then, Intel will keep producing these “tablet” chips, which will find their way into designs from a number of OEMs, some of which are neat in a gimmicky sort of way, and none of which are likely to sell well.

If netbooks were still selling like hotcakes, this could significantly improve Oak Trail’s prospects, because it will be a solid netbook part. But they aren’t, so we’re left to watch Intel mark time in this fashion for another year or so until it finally catches up to the ARM ecosystem.

Intel does fondleslabs with Atom ‘Oak Trail’ [The Register, April 11, 2011]

Monday’s announcement of the Oak Trail rollout, while welcome news to Intel fans, may not be “longer-term” enough to make significant inroads into a market now dominated by ARM variants. Although it’s too soon to tell, those same fans may have more reason to hope that the soon-to-follow Cedar Trail might have the chops to move the Intel architecture into a critical mass of “Companion Computing” devices.

Doug Davis: Devices and the Future of Personal Computing [Keynote webcast, April 12, 2011] (some parts transcribed here with their corresponding slides)

Intel Doug Davis about the Moore's law at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 12-April-2011Intel Doug Davis Faster - in 3 years fm 45nm to 22nm at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 12-April-2011.jpg
[8:20] According to the Moore’s law every two year we delivered a new generation of process technology. … Our 32 nm technology – for example – deliveres 25% increase in performance at the same power level, at the same leakage, OR we can deliver 10X lower leakage at the same performance level [8:41]

[8:59] Now Intel is accelerating the Atom SoC road map. Over the next several years we’re going to move faster than Moore’s law. … Our 45 nm volume products are shipping today. 32 nm will ship in volume over the next 6 months, and 22 nm will be in volume within 24 months. [9:25]

Intel Doug Davis on Atom proc evolution at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 12-April-2011
[9:38] The 1st generation of Atom processor was built on 45 nm technology. That product line brought about 10X thermal power reduction vs. our lowest power Celeron products. The 2nd generation Atom added a new set of power management capabilities and features. The focus there was to drive idle power at platform level down by 50X and we beat our own goals.

Our 3d generation Atom will continue to bring new architectural innovations to improve performance and power. With 10X lower leakage on the 32 nm SoC process enables longer standby and idle power improvements as well.

Our 4th generation of Atom will again continue to drive new architectural innovations , and performance and power. It will be built on 22 nm process technology. The most important benefit of 22 nm process technology is to continue to provide very low leakage, and [it] also will provide about 2X reduction in active power along with about 2X improvement in transistor density as well. All this compared to our 32 nm process technology. [10:55]

Intel Doug Davis on Features for the New Netbook Experience at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 12-April-2011
[14:00] … [New] features [on the upcoming 32 nm Cedar Trail] we are bringing to these new netbook experiences:

We will have things like Intel Wireless Display that allows to project what is on the screen of your netbook onto a larger system like the television in your home.

Intel Wireless Music which allows you to take a playlist on your netbook and to be able to stream it to almost any power speakers in your home. You can listen to that music while you are looking at those pictures from your last vacation.

Always Updated is the technology that keeps tweets and RSS feeds, and e-mail, all of those types of things updated on your netbook even when it is in standby. So when you open up the system and you want to do something all of your information is up to date.

The Intel App Up allows you to have applications from thousands of different developers.

PC Sync is a great technology that allows you to seamlessly connect all the devices in your home so that they stay in sync automatically.

And my personal favorite is Fast Flash Standby. This allows you to be able to come up and use the device instantly. It is really [the case that] the device is ready for a new meeting. [15:24]

Netbook Nation: IDF Beijing 2011 Round Up [April 15, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

If you want the inside scoop on what went on at IDF Beijing 2011 you’ve come to the right place. Netbook News was the only English speaking blog at the Chinese conference. So what went on? We’ll we’ve got a video showing you our favorite products and announcements below, but if you perfer reading, I’ll spell it out for you. Cedartrail Intel’s latest Netbook platform was launched. No details on performance gains, but three new features were added: Intel Wireless Streaming [rather: Wireless Display], Intel [Wireless] Music and Wireless file sharing [rather: PC Sync]. During the Day 1 Keynote we were able to grab a video of the on stage demo in case you’re curious. [the demo of those 3 features is from [4:44] to [6:08] of the below video]

Oak Trail was officially announced with tablets hitting the streets in May. So far all the tablets are 10.1 inches and about 10mm thick. Nothing to get too excited about as we have yet to see what kind of battery life we might be getting. Some tablet manufactures like Evolve Three came out with a unique design integrating a kick stand and keyboard into the hard cover. We’ve included a hands on in the Netbook Nation video if you’re keen to grab a look. [see between 2:40 and 3:45]

Evolve III Convertible with a stand at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 13-April-2011Evolve III Convertible with keyboard integrated into the hard cover at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 13-April-2011

Evolve III Convertible with keyboard integrated into the hard cover #2 at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 13-April-2011Evolve III Convertible with keyboard integrated into the hard cover #3 at IDF Beijing 2011 -- 13-April-2011

Taking a look at gaming hardware there was only one notable announcement and that was by Razer who is bringing the Switchblade, the most innovative Oak Trail device to date to the Chinese market first. And Tencent, China’s largest ISV is going to be providing the installed gaming user base! Razer and Tencent are bring four immensely popular online games with roughly 600 million monthly gamers to mobile. Razer is going to focus optimization of the Switchblade on League of Legends as well as Dungeon & Fighter, Crossfire and QQ Speed. Tencent sees 130 million active monthly users between the four games and views Oak Trail as the mobile computing platform able to deliver a powerful gaming experience. Though the Switchblade is currently running Windows 7, both Tencent and Razer concluded that they were interesting in the possibility of delivering MeeGo on the device.

So check out the video below that also shows off a special PRC skin of the MeeGo tablet UI! [see between 6:16 and 8:24]


Intel Developer Forum: Executives Talk Evolution of Computing with Devices that Touch People’s Daily Lives [April 11, 2011]

Doug Davis: Reinventing Personal Computing for Devices
During his keynote presentation, Davis discussed how companion computing devices, including netbooks, tablets and other devices are tranforming the world we live in through personal, mobile and connected experiences. He described how Intel, over the next 3 years, is accelerating the Intel Atom product line on a pace faster than Moore’s Lawto deliver increased battery life, enhanced performance and new features for amazing user experiences.

Davis also unveiled the highly anticipated Intel® AtomTM Z670 processor and Intel® SM35 Express Chipset platform, formerly codenamed “Oak Trail,” with a range of innovative tablets and form factors. These devices are available from leading customers with operating system of choice including Android*, Windows 7* and MeeGo* starting in May.

Highlighting the evolution of netbooks, Davis also disclosed “Cedar Trail,” Intel’s next-generation netbook and entry-level desktop platform. Based on Intel’s leading-edge 32nm process technology, “Cedar Trail” will include more than 10 new features that will improve media, graphics and power consumption in upcoming netbooks. The chip’s design, efficiencies and latest manufacturing process technology will enable fan-less, fully enclosed and thus ultra-sleek devices. Davis said other new features will be disclosed in the coming months, with the processor due in the second half of the year.

Renée James: Creating the Ultimate User Experience
During her keynote, James discussed Intel’s transition from a semiconductor company to a personal computing company, and emphasized the importance of delivering compelling user experiences across a range of personal computing devices. To develop and enable the best experiences, James announced a strategic relationship with Tencent*, China’s largest Internet company, to create a joint innovation center dedicated to delivering best-in-class mobile Internet experiences. Engineers from both companies will work together to further the mobile computing platforms and other technologies.

James also announced new collaborations for the Intel AppUpSM center and the Intel AppUp Developer Program in China to help assist in the creation of innovative applications for Intel Atom processor-based devices. Chinese partners supporting this effort include Neusoft*, Haier* and Hasee* and Shenzhen Software Park*.

Oak Trail Press Deck [April 8, 2011] slide #12:

Intel Atom Z6xx Oak Trail processor with SM35 Express Chipset -- 8-April-2011

Intel® Atom™ Processor Z670 (512K Cache, 1.50 GHz) (some extracted specification)

# of Cores         1
# of Threads    2

Max TDP          3 W

Tray 1ku Budgetary Price    $75.00

Max Memory Size                     2 GB
(dependent on memory type)

Integrated Graphics                 Yes
Graphics Base Frequency        400 MHz

Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology        Yes

Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology  Yes

Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology is an advanced means of enabling very high performance while also meeting the power-conservation needs of mobile systems. Conventional Intel SpeedStep Technology switches both voltage and frequency in tandem between high and low levels in response to processor load.

More information:
Oak_Trail_Atom_Processor_Factsheet [April 8, 2011]
Embedded_Oak_Trail_Factsheet [April 8, 2011]
Oak_Trail_Press_Deck [April 8, 2011]
Oak_Trail_Press_Presentation [April 8, 2011], from which one slide is worth to show here:

Intel IDF Beijing 2011 Netbook -- Tablet relationship in terms of tasks

Intel® Atom™ Processor Z650 (512K Cache, 1.20 GHz)

The same specifications except the clock speed and there is no price given.

Intel® SM35 Express Chipset (some extracted specification)

Product Name                Intel® 82SM35 PCH
Code Name                     Formerly Whitney Point

Max TDP                         0.75 Watts

Integrated Graphics     Yes

Graphics Output            HDMI

More information: Intel® SM35 Express ChipsetOverview

Intel, on the go [April 16, 2011]

Intel has finally taken an important step in its shift toward making chips for mobile devices, ending a year of speculation.

The processor manufacturing giant on Monday launched a new processor, a low-power version of Intel chips slated for tablets, notebooks and smartphones.

The next-generation Intel Atom processor platform, formerly code-named “Oak Trail,” will appear in 35 tablet computers and other mobile devices, including those made by Lenovo and Fujitsu, in May and throughout 2011, California-based Intel announced.

Other device makers using the new Atom Z670 include Motion Computing, Razer and Viliv. The new chip, like other processors from the line, supports Google Android, MeeGo and Windows operating systems.

With the launch of the new Intel Atom processor platform, Intel is finally making progress in the world of chip manufacturing for mobile devices, which has been predominantly occupied by the Cambridge-based ARM.

During the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing, which opened on Tuesday and ended on Wednesday, Intel also announced that its AppUp center, currently optimized for netbooks and laptops, will be extended to support mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, in the near future.

The localized Intel AppUp center and Intel developer program for the Chinese market, in cooperation with some local partners, is also expected to debut at the end of the year, Intel said during the IDF. The chip giant also announced at the forum the launch of a joint innovation center with Tencent to focus on mobile computing platforms.

Steering away from purely serving as a technology provider to creating a more user-friendly experienceis a tough job which cannot be done overnight, Yang Xu, president of Intel China, told reporters during the IDF.

Razer Switchblade

San Diego, California-based gaming hardware producer Razer showcased at the forum its gaming handheld concept device Switchblade, powered by the new Intel Atom processor. Running on Windows 7, the handheld, with a size of 172mm x 115mm x 25 mm, supports both WiFi and 3G. The gadget combines a new dynamic tactile keyboard and a multi-touch-screen, and, if required, a mobile gaming mouse.

As a concept for now, the device is expected to be available soon in the market, but its exact availability and pricing remains uncertain.

Evolve III Maestro C tablet
[A stand can be kicked off as well as a wireless keyboard has been integrated into the hard cover so the cover is freely detachable. See the excerpts from the video hands-on in the “Netbook Nation” article seen before. A truely innovative design.]

Sydney-based tablet maker Evolve III will join the likes of Lenovo and Fujitsu to become the first batch of manufacturers to use the new Intel Atom Z670 processor. The firm unveiled at the IDF its Maestro Convertible tablet, based on a 1.5-gigahertz Intel Z670 processor. The tablet, featuring a 10.1-inch capacitive touch display, is convertible and will be offering a triple booting of Windows 7, Android and MeeGo.

The weight of the device is 910g. The device, which mainly targets a business clientele, will first go on sale in the US and Europe around June, retailing for $729, according to Warrick Dainter, executive director of the Australian tablet maker. The device is also expected to hit the Chinese market in July or August, which will be the first launch of the firm’s products in China, Dainter said.

More information:

From Intel Newsroom:

Intel IDF Beijing 2011 fujitsu-stylistic_tablet Fujitsu stylistic tablet

The Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 is a business-class slate PC designed for the high-security requirements of mobile enterprise computing, and with the Intel® Atom™ processor Z670 inside, the device provides all-day battery life.

Intel IDF Beijing 2011 lenovo-ideapad_slate_frontbackIntel IDF Beijing 2011 lenovo-ideapad_slate_stylus

Lenovo Ideapad Slate

The new Intel® Atom™ processor Z670 inside Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slate enables reduced power consumption, extended battery life and full 1080p HD video support. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slate is powered by the new Intel® Atom™ processor Z670, as well as 2GB of RAM and a 30GB SSD for storage with a form function offering both finger and stylus input.

Intel IDF Bejing 2010 motion-cl900tablet_pc_stylusIntel IDF Beijing 2011 motion-cl900tablet_pc_case

Motion CL900 Tablet PC

The Motion CL900 tablet is the first 10-inch, rugged tablet that enables both touch and stylus input on the display along with a full day of battery life using Intel’s next generation Intel® Atom™ processor Z670. The CL900 incorporates the new Intel® Atom™ processor Z670 to provide the ideal balance between power and battery consumption while running multiple enterprise applications. The new Intel® Atom™ processor Z670 inside the Motion CL900 enables lighter devices, allowing users to work faster and more effectively in today’s decentralized work environments.

Intel IDF Beijing 2011 viliv-X70  Viliv X70

The slimmest Windows 7 tablet yet, the Viliv X70 Slate offers a custom-split keyboard to ease thumb typing, Clear Type LCD screen and an Intel® Atom™ processor Z670 to provide the ideal balance between power and battery consumption.

New Intel® Atom™ Processor for Tablets Spurs Companion Computing Device Innovation [April 11, 2011]

Company Outlines Plans to Accelerate Intel Manufacturing Lead with Intel® Atom™ Processor Family and Move Faster than Moore’s Law
Intel Corporation today announced that the Intel® Atom™ platform, formerly codenamed “Oak Trail,” is now available and will be in devices starting in May and throughout 2011. Over 35 innovative tablet and hybrid designs from companies including Evolve III*, Fujitsu Limited*, Lenovo*, Motion Computing*, Razer*, and Viliv* are based on “Oak Trail” and running a variety of operating systems.

In addition, at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, the company will give a sneak peak of its next-generation, 32nm Intel Atom platform, currently codenamed “Cedar Trail.” This solution will help to enable a new wave of fanless, cool and quiet, sleek and innovative netbooks, entry-level desktops and all-in-one designs.

“The new Intel Atom ‘Oak Trail’ platform, with ‘Cedar Trail’ to follow, are examples of our continued commitment to bring amazing personal and mobile experiences to netbook and tablet devices, delivering architectural enhancements for longer battery life and greater performance,” said Doug Davis, vice president and general manager of the Netbook and Tablet Group at Intel. “We are accelerating the Intel Atom product line to now move faster than Moore’s law, bringing new products to market on three process technologies in the next 3 years.”

The new Intel® Atom™ processor Z670, part of the “Oak Trail” platform, delivers improved video playback, fast Internet browsing and longer battery life, without sacrificing performance. The rich media experience available with “Oak Trail” includes support for 1080p video decode, as well as HDMI. The platform also supports Adobe* Flash, enabling rich content and Flash-based gaming.

With these significant improvements in power-efficient performance, the Intel Atom processor Z670 allows applications to run on various operating systems, including Google* Android*, MeeGo* and Windows*. This unique flexibilitydelivers both new experiences and more choice when it comes to tablets and hybrid designs that combine the best features of the netbook and tablet together.

The platform also helps deliver smaller, thinner and more efficient devices by packing integrated graphics and the memory controller directly onto the processor die. The processor is 60 percent smaller than previous generations with a lower-power design for fanless devices as well as up to all-day battery life1. Additional features include Intel® Enhanced Deeper Sleep that saves more power during periods of inactivity as well as optimized Intel SpeedStep® technology. An integrated HD decode engine enables smooth 1080p HD video playback at a fraction of the power consumption.

In addition, Intel Atom Z670 processors come with the Intel® SM35 Express Chipset, delivering a lead-free2, halogen-free3 design with high-speed USB 2.0 for greater performance and Intel® High-Definition Audioto enable premium home theater sound.

Also ideal for small form-factor and portable embedded designs, the platform provides an excellent solution for a range of tablets in retail, medical and industrial applications. Solutions such as mobile clinical assistantsallow medical staff to directly input data into patients’ electronic files and avoid paper charting. This can result in a reduction in errors, better workflow, higher productivity and reduced paper handling and overhead costs. In addition to the Intel Atom Z670, Intel is offering the Intel® Atom™ processor Z650 for embedded devices with 7-year lifecycle support on Windows and MeeGo operating systems.

Based on Intel’s leading-edge 32nm process technology, the next-generation “Cedar Trail” platform will feature improvements in graphics capabilities including Blu-ray 2.0 support, a dedicated media engine for full 1080p playback and additional digital display options including HDMI output and DisplayPort. New features will include Intel® Wireless Music, Intel® Wireless Display, PC Synch and Fast Boot. In addition, the enhancements made in power consumption and TDP will enable fanless designs with longer battery life. This means great acoustics without the hum of a fan and improved ruggedness and aesthetics of the design. Intel is currently sampling “Cedar Trail” to all major OEMs and ODMs. Users can look forward to a new generation of innovative mobile and desktop designs based on the “Cedar Trail” platform in the second half of 2011.

More information:

Maestro Tablet Runs Three Operating Systems [Jan 18, 2011]

IFP: Is this the first tablet that can switch between Android, MeeGo and Windows operating systems?

Warrick: Yes, we believe we will be the first to offer a triple boot OS for customers.  We have been working on the dual boot tablets for a long time, working to get the boot interface to run nice and smoothly. Now the hard part is over. We can offer MeeGo over to the dual boot tablet making it a triple boot really because of the in-depth work that we are going with Intel directly.

We would like to work with Honeycomb, however we are devoting most of our efforts to make sure that MeeGo and Windows 7 is 100 percent supported, as we feel that the new MeeGo platform alongside Windows 7 is a more stable platform over the android platform.

Also, using the devices myself, I can’t live without Microsoft’s PowerPoint and Excel and Outlook while on the go. You can’t beat a company dedicated to creating OS platforms as a main market share product (Microsoft/Win 7). These guys have helped us get through the hard parts of moving an OS ecosystem revolving around keyboard and mouse, over to complete touch integration.

We’re getting 7 percent support on Android, compared to nearly 100 percent support from Microsoft and Intel for the MeeGo and Win 7 platforms.

IFP: How has it been working with MeeGo – what makes it different than Windows and Android?

Warrick:MeeGo has been fantastic. It feels great to me, as it’s on the forefront of the platform. We also felt very proud to showcase the new MeeGo platform (at CES), as a lot of internal people – even the guys working at the MeeGo stand had never seen our version of MeeGo. This was the very latest, genuine version of the MeeGo platform. It is so flexible to work with, and the fact that Intel gives us a world of support to move ahead, is a giant difference to developing on the Android platform, where we’re getting very little support.

IFP: What are some of the technologies or features you like most, ones that help set you apart from other new tablets?

Warrick: Some of the things we have been have been working on with Intel is to try to create the slimmest hard drive. To create a 4mm thick external hard drive, we have had to go through some serious R&D thinking to get around some of the issues associated with developing a product like this. For example, do we sacrifice speed for thickness (SATA port is 6mm thick, as opposed to a 1mm thick Micro USB port)? But in all, we want to deliver the best balance between speed and portability.

Once you get down to the nitty-gritty of things …. it’s the ability to access the hard drive remotely via WiFi. I mean, let’s face it, does everybody always want to be accessing their hard drive by plugging a USB into their SSD? Not really, so why not make it accessible via WiFi and USB? A WiFi-accessible hard drive is kind-of cool, but it’s also something people will find useful.

Intel’s support has allowed us to implant the Intel memory wafer directly into our own transistor with our own driver in the chip rather than an external chip, allowing us to create smaller packaged devices, revolving around a completely customized product, rather than taking an existing product and modifying it.

IFP: Why create a custom hard drive?

Warrick: Business is tough in the hard drive market, so we are in tune to be different, and this has evolved from a need for these devices to exist. Memory constraints for devices such as tablets and mobile phones are getting smaller and smaller because everything is getting held on the cloud. We see the need to still be able to store our data locally, but we want this data to be available to all of our devices, not just the one you plugged into.

on App Up:
From Intel Developer Forum (IDF) Beijing: New Industry Collaborations in China [April 12, 2011]
How to build an AppUp app from a web page using AppUp encapsulator [April 15, 2011]
Calling all web app developers…we’ve got something for you! [April 11, 2011]

The Intel AppUp℠ developer program is excited to announce a new opportunity for web app developers to transform web apps into Intel AppUp℠ center apps. This opportunity, called Intel AppUp™ encapsulator, allows web app developers to expand their customer base and revenue potential by making an app from their existing web code that is compatible and available for the Intel AppUp℠ center.

How does this work? The Intel AppUp™ encapsulator embeds the web code into a native application wrapper (a hybrid app) and then creates installer packages. The native application wrapper integrates the Intel AppUp™ SDK for store authorization and QT WebKit which provides the HTML5 and Javascript engines that execute and render the web app code. After talking with one of the developers, Andy Idsinga, I got so excited because Andy said that this process is relatively simply and doesn’t require anything special to get the web code to work with the Intel AppUp™ encapsulator. In fact, developers can use their own web APIs, 3rd Party APIs, and even other 3rd party widgets. Essentially, the developer builds the web code just like other web apps utilizing html, css and javascript, images and AJAX.

Keep in mind that the developer will still need to test and debug the app. But the cool part about it is that the developer can run Intel AppUp™ encapsulator many times as the developer chooses in order to get the app to its desired final product. Once done, then the developer submits the final product to the Intel AppUp center. It’s just that simple!

For more information about Intel AppUp™ encapsulator, please read the FAQs for detailed information. If I’ve convinced you, and you’re ready to expand your customer, then launch the tool and get started now!

Intel MeeGo 1.2 Tablet UX now open sourced. This and more now on MeeGo.com [April 4, 2011]

Mid February of this year, Intel released the MeeGo 1.2 Tablet UX pre-alpha to our developer community. And now a month later we are happy to announce that this release has been fully open sourced, where it is supported and available under the open source MeeGo project at MeeGo.com. At the time of this post, the open sourced version is pre-alpha and is released as the MeeGo Tablet Developer Preview. Via MeeGo.com:

We are pleased to open up development of the tablet user experience project. This release provides a touch-optimized user interface for MeeGo tablets, introducing the new panels UI concept and including a suite of built-in applications for Web browsing, personal information management and media consumption. This project is a work-in-progress under active development and considered pre-alpha. We welcome your involvement and contributions.

As you likely recall, Intel initially released the MeeGo tablet UX 1.2 pre-alpha in February to coincide with the release of the AppUp SDK beta for MeeGo. This release allowed developers to have the tools & user experience needed to start developing, testing, & submitting tablet applications for AppUp. At the time of initial release the tablet UX could not be fully open sourced, thus was initially released under the AppUp developer program site.

However, with the MeeGo tablet UX released as open source, it sits side-by-side the other device user intefaces (UI’s) from MeeGo.com, such as; the MeeGo Netbook UI, ivi UI, Handset UI and Smart TV UI. Along with these open source device UI’s, the tablet UI is available for the MeeGo community to freely download, support, and contribute to under the MeeGo open source project.

Visit the MeeGo.com site to download the MeeGo Tablet Developer Preview, and get a full list of features and supported hardware.

Also visit the MeeGo developer portal for AppUp, to get all the information you need to develop and distribute a MeeGo application.

MeeGo UX Components

In addition MeeGo.com has released QML based MeeGo UX Components and a cooresponding Wiki.  The MeeGo UX Components make developing for MeeGo devices easier by providing a set UI elements that allow you to quickly build applications that tightly integrate with the look of the MeeGo user experience.

Visit the MeeGo UX Components Wiki

This is how App Up has been started:
Industry Support for the Intel Atom Developer Program [Sept 22, 2009]

During his keynote at IDF today, Paul Otellini announced the Intel® Atom™ Developer Program, a framework for creating and distributing applications designed specifically for Intel Atom processor-based devices. For the next level of detail, tune into Renee James’ IDF software keynote tomorrow at 10 a.m. PST where she will go into the program’s specifics and describe the benefits for software developers, ISVs and OEMs. For now, please refer to the Intel Atom Developer Program announcement and appdeveloper.intel.com for more information.

Although the program has just launched, we’ve already received some encouraging words of support from software companies and hardware manufacturers alike. Here’s what some of our partners are saying:

  • “The Adobe Flash Platform enables developers to create and deliver the most compelling applications, content and video to the widest possible audience. We expect the Intel Atom Developer Program will be a great way for the Flash Platform community developing on Adobe AIR to monetize their AIR applications, and we are working closely with Intel to deliver the necessary technology to enable this opportunity on the Atom platform in the future.” – David Wadhwani, General Manager and Vice President, Platform Business Unit, Adobe
  • “Customer adoption of our Intel Atom-based netbooks is exceeding our expectations. Acer is excited to see Intel’s effort in bringing new and innovative applications to netbooks and will use the Intel Atom Developer Program framework to open an application storefront.” – Jim Wong, president, IT Products Global Operations, Acer Inc.
  • “The Intel Atom Developer Program is an integral element of providing a holistic netbook experience for our customers. Asus sees this new development model as an opportunity to encourage developers and ISVs. Asus plans to offer an application store based on this framework in order to make exciting applications available to our customers.” – S.Y. Shian, Vice President and General Manager, System Business Group, Asus
  • “Dell is passionate about providing value for developers. The Intel Atom Developer Program will open a new world of innovation and business opportunity for developers and we look forward to working with Intel to foster the creation of exciting new Windows and Moblin-based netbook applications.” – John Thode, Vice President, Small Devices, Dell Inc.

then later transformed:
Chip Shot: Mobile Apps Hit Netbooks [Sept 14, 2010]:

Intel announced the general release of its first netbook application store for consumers today at IDF, including both free and paid apps for entertainment, social networking, gaming and productivity. The Intel® AppUpSM centerheightens the user experience with applications optimized for the mobility and screen size of netbooks. To encourage consumers to discover new applications, the Intel AppUp Center features a free 24-hour “try before you buy” period for all paid applications. To download a copy of the Intel AppUp center today, visit www.appup.com.

Intel Opens Software App Store, Offers New Intel Atom Chips [Sept 14, 2010]

James: The Best Experiences Are Created on Intel Architecture
During her keynote at Moscone Center West in San Francisco, James outlined how tightly integrated and optimized software and platforms will deliver new levels of performance, along with fresh capabilities and the importance of creating an innovative experience across the personal computing continuum – from PCs to smart phones to tablets and cars, as well as any number of Internet-connected consumer devices.

Emphasizing a seamless experience across operating systems, James introduced general availability of the Intel® AppUpSM center netbook app store for consumers. The Intel AppUp center includes both free and paid apps for entertainment, social networking, gaming and productivity, optimized for a netbook’s mobility and screen size. To encourage consumers to try new applications, Intel AppUp provides “try before you buy” solutions, encouraging consumers to purchase apps they otherwise might not have. The launch was also marked by the availability of Adobe* AIRapplications, as well as apps from companies including Accuweather*, Barnes & Noble*, Funkitron*, Gibson Guitars*, iWin*, Kaplan*, KONAMI*, and Lifetime*.

In an effort to reach netbook owners worldwide, James announced agreements with Best Buy*, UK-based Dixons* and India-based Croma* to outfit each retailer with the Intel AppUp center – pre-installed on netbooks the stores sell, as well as available for current netbook owners to download online. Similarly, James announced plans from ASUS* to ship its version of the Intel AppUp center on netbooks, the “asus app store,” starting in October.

During her keynote, James highlighted the Intel AppUp Developer Program, designed to drive innovative applications for end users and new revenue opportunities for independent developers and software vendors with programs such as the Intel Million Dollar Development fund. Rick Vanner from The Game Creators was recognized as winner of the “Most Innovative Application” in the Intel Atom Developer Challengefor his game titled, “Goals.” James also introduced the “On Intel AppUp” ISV identifier, designed to help developers promote their applications on Intel AppUp center.

James acknowledged seamless experiences are only part of the equation. Open operating systems – such as Intel and Nokia’s* MeeGo*, hosted by the Linux Foundation – allow developers to create, invent and innovate. Pointing to contributions from industry leaders, James discussed MeeGo ecosystem momentum, highlighting a variety of MeeGo-based devices and how third-party software developments and the upcoming MeeGo Web runtime, to be released in October, will make it easier to write applications for these devices. Internet TV pioneer Amino* also joined James onstage to demonstrate how the company is taking advantage of the flexibility and openness of MeeGo to deliver an innovative MeeGo-based smart TV solution.

Gartner: media tablets are the new segment next to mobile PCs and desktops, as well as web- and app-capable mobile phones

Between March 30 and April 13 Gartner delivered quite new research on the IT spending forecasts till the year 2015. This presents a radically changed market outlook best viewed via the following April 5 Gartner webinar slide (warning: Gartner distinguishes between “media tablets” and “mobile PCs” while other sources are referring to “tablet PCs” in general which are including Microsoft legacy tablet PCs and upcoming Windows slates in addition to Gartner’s “media tablets”):

Gartner on PC and Media Tablet Forecast -- 5-April-2011

Follow-Up (Aug 2, 2011):
Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push [March 29, 2011 with comprehensive update on Aug 2, 2011] which is showing IHS iSuppli’s recent mobile broadband device forecast with constituents of Apple’s dominant position in media tablet space as well as serious technical and market problems with the original version of Honeycomb up to now

Update: Consumer Education on Unique Use Cases Remains Largest Barrier to Media Tablet Adoption, According to Survey [ABI Research, June 13, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

It has been suggested by some that media tablets are slowly killing the netbook market, and that both device types are “cannibalizing” sales of personal computers. But results of a survey of 1,142 consumers conducted by ABI Research in March, 2011 reveal that netbooks and media tablets are actually neck-and-neck in terms of consumer interest. 25% of respondents rated themselves as either “extremely” or “very” interested in acquiring a netbook, while for media tablets, the number was 27%. Purchases of these companion devices are likely to result in a prolonged PC lifecycle and delay replacement.

But according to mobile devices group director Jeff Orr, “Nearly half of those surveyed, however, report that they are either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ interested in purchasing a media tablet. The most common reason for the lack of interest is ‘I don’t see the need’, selected by 60% of this group.”

Although media tablets are grabbing today’s headlines, they still face some challenges to adoption. “What activities can media tablets perform that are not already well-addressed by laptop/netbook PCs or smartphones?” Orr asks. “This remains the single largest barrier to consumer interest.”

A little more than half believe that the primary use for the media tablet will be entertainment. In line with this result, entertainment-related applications are the ones that most people report they would likely use on the media tablet:

•       82% intend to use email
•       71% expect to use a web browser
•       57% plan to watch TV or download movies
•       56% intend to use social networking
•       55% plan to play games
ABI Research conducted a similar survey on netbooks in 2009, when interest levels were shown to be higher. Moreover, the netbook use-case appears to be changing, from a focus on productivity applications towards the consumption of entertainment content. Orr says, “This change is consistent with potential buyers realigning expectations to match modern netbook capabilities.”

End of Update

Suggested associate and/or prelimary reading from this trend-tracking blog:
China Mobile repositioning for TD-LTE with full content and application aggregation services, 3G [HSPA level] is to create momentum for that [June 18, 2011]
Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs [June 17, 2011]
Barnes & Noble NOOK offensive [May 25, 2011]
Microsoft on five key technology areas and Windows 8 [May 24, 2011]
E Ink and Epson achieve world-leading ePaper resolution [May 23, 2011]
Chromebook / box with Citrix Receiver going against Microsoft [May 12, 2011]
Amazon Tablet PC with E Ink Holdings’ Hydis FFS screen [May 3, 2011]
E Ink Holdings EPD prospects are good [April 30, 2011]
Acer’s decision of restructuring: a clear sign of accepting the inevitable disintegration of the old PC (Wintel) ecosystem and the need for joining one of the new ecosystems under formation [April 1, 2011]
Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push [March 29, 2011]
ASUS Eee Slate based Windows marketing from Microsoft [March 21, 2011]
ASUS, China Mobile and Marvell join hands in the OPhone ecosystem effort for “Blue Ocean” dominance [March 8, 2011]
Be aware of ZTE et al. and white-box (Shanzhai) vendors: Wake up call now for Nokia, soon for Microsoft, Intel, RIM and even Apple! [Feb 21, 2011]
Kinoma is now the marvellous software owned by Marvell [Feb 15, 2011]
Marvell to capitalize on BRIC market with the Moby tablet [Feb 3, 2011]
Changing purchasing attitudes for consumer computing are leading to a new ICT paradigm [Jan 5]
CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7]
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and 3.0 (Honeycomb) [Dec 30, 2011]
Hanvon – E-Ink strategic e-reader alliance for price/volume leadership supplementing Hanvon’s premium strategy mostly based on an alliance with Microsoft and Intel [Dec 21, 2011]
Intel’s industry position and prospects for years ahead [Dec 9, 2010]

For surrounding details on the new Gartner research see the presentation from the IT Spending Forecast, 1Q11 Update [April 5, 2011] Gartner webinar.

Regarding the bright prospects of the media tablets one should consider the following Gartner press releases and related blog posts as well:

Gartner Says Apple iOS to Dominate the Media Tablet Market Through 2015, Owning More Than Half of It for the Next Three Years [April 11, 2011]

Despite mounting competition from other operating systems (OSs), Apple’s iOS will continue to own the majority of the worldwide media tablet through 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. Due to the success of Apple’s iPad, iOS will account for 69 percent of media tablet OSs in 2011, and represent 47 percent of the media tablet market in 2015.

Gartner analysts said Apple iPad did to the tablet PC market what the iPhone did to the smartphone market: re-invented it. A media tablet is not just a different form factor to perform the same tasks that can be done on a PC. Tablets deliver a richer experience around content consumption, thanks to the ecosystem they support. The richer the ecosystem, the stronger the pull for consumers.

“Seeing the response from both consumers and enterprises to the iPad, many vendors are trying to compete by first delivering on hardware and then trying to leverage the platform ecosystem,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “Many, however, are making the same mistake that was made in the first response wave to the iPhone, as they are prioritizing hardware features over applications, services and overall user experience. Tablets will be much more dependent on the latter than smartphones have been, and the sooner vendors realize that the better chance they have to compete head-to-head with Apple.”
Google’s Android OS is forecast to increase its worldwide share of the media tablet market from 20 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2015 (see Table 1). Analysts said Google’s decision not to open up the Honeycomb, its first OS version dedicated to tablets, to third parties will prevent fragmentation, but it will also slow the price decline and ultimately cap market share.

“Volume will be driven by support from many players, the ecosystem of applications for tablets getting more competitive and some platform flexibility allowing lower price points,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. “The new licensing model Google has introduced with Honeycomb enables Google to drive more control, allowing only optimal tablet implementations that don’t compromise quality of experience. This might mean that prices will drop at a slower pace than what we have seen in the smartphone market.”

Table 1
Worldwide Sales of Media Tablets to End Users by OS (Thousands of Units)

 OS 2010 2011 2012 2015
iOS   14,766   47,964    68,670   138,497
Market Share (%) 83.9 68.7 63.5 47.1
Android 2,502 13,898 26,382 113,457
Market Share (%) 14.2 19.9 24.4 38.6
MeeGo 107 788 1,271 3,057
Market Share (%) 0.6 1.1 1.2 1
WebOS 0 2,796 4,245 8,886
Market Share (%) 0 4 3.9 3
QNX 0 3,901 7,134 29,496
Market Share (%) 0 5.6 6.6 10
Other Operating Systems 234 432 510 700
Market Share (%) 1.3 0.6 0.5 0.2
Total Market 17,610    69,780    108,211    294,093

Source: Gartner (April 2011)

With the migration of Blackberry devices to QNX – the OS used on the Blackberry PlayBook – in 2012, RIM will be able to offer users a consistent experience across its whole product portfolio and create a single developer community. While QNX is a strong platform that delivers on performance, graphics and multitasking features, Gartner analysts said success in the media tablet market will be driven by richness of ecosystem.

“It will take time and significant effort for RIM to attract developers and deliver a compelling ecosystem of applications and services around QNX to position it as a viable alternative to Apple or Android. This will limit RIM’s market share growth over the forecast period,” Ms. Milanesi said. “It will be mainly organizations that will be interested in RIM’s tablets because they either already have RIM’s infrastructure deployed or have stringent security requirements.”

Gartner analysts said platforms such as MeeGo and WebOS, which currently have a weak presence in the smartphone market, will have a limited appeal unless they can grow that business.

“Smartphone users will want to buy a tablet that runs the same operating system as their smartphone. This is so that they can share applications across devices as well as for the sense of familiarity the user interfaces will bring,” Ms. Milanesi said. “Vendors developing on Android should be prepared to see more cross brand ownership as some users might put OS over brand when it comes to the purchasing decision. Improvements on usability and brand recognition are the strongest differentiators they can focus on.”

A media tablet is a device based on a touchscreen display (typically with a multitouch interface) whose primary focus is the consumption of media. The devices have screens with a diagonal dimension that is over 5 inches and may include screens that are as large as is practical for handheld use, roughly up to 15 inches. The media tablet runs a lightweight OS such as Android and iOS that is more limited than, or a subset of, the traditional fully featured OS such as Windows.

Gartner’s detailed forecast is available in the report “Forecast: Media Tablets by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1624614.

Gartner Says Media Tablets Help Drive Worldwide IT Spending Up 5.6 Percent in 2011 [March 30, 2011]

Gartner has added media tablets, such as the iPad, to its computing hardware spending estimates beginning this quarter. Including media tablets has increased Gartner’s computing hardware growth outlook from 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent for 2011 (see Table 1). Worldwide media tablet spending is projected to reach $29.4 billion in 2011, up from $9.6 billion in 2010. Global spending on media tablets is forecast to increase at an annual average rate of 52 percent through 2015.

The addition of media tablets, reinforced by an expected additional decline in the value of the dollar, accounts for the increase in top-line growth,” said Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner. “Absent the addition of media tablets, the forecast would have slightly declined in constant-dollar terms; however, with their addition, there’s virtually no change in underlying forecast growth at the level of overall IT.”

Gartner analysts said this stable forecast outlook comes despite political unrest in the Middle East, while the impact on IT markets of the recent natural disasters in Japan is yet to be fully understood.

How much will be spent on Media Tablets in 2015? [March 30, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Our latest global IT spending forecast is released today and for the first time we’ve included Media Tablets in our spending estimates.

Big deal you might think … what took you so long? And anyway, what difference would a few Media Tablets make to the overall numbers?

The trouble with forecasting the market for new electronics devices is that we need to beware of the hype; for every gadget that achieves market success there are dozens of failures. That said, sometimes it becomes clear early on that a new product is going to live up to expectations of rapid market adoption and that’s the case with Media Tablets, whose time has definitely come.

In our latest forecast update, the 1Q11 iteration, we estimate that about $10B was spent on Media Tablets last year – that’s about 18 million units at an average priced of $550 each. In 2015, we forecast that close to 300 million (!) units will ship with an average price of $250 each– I’ll do the math for you; that’s nearly $80B in annual spending on Media Tablets!

We recently downgraded our PC forecast through 2015, partly because we assume some substitution of PCs by Media Tablets. Nevertheless, spending on PCs and Media Tablets combined is forecast to be about $400B in 2015, with Media Tablets taking a 20% share.

For more detail of our latest global IT spending forecast, including an early assessment of the impact of the recent natural disasters in Japan and the political unrest in the Middle East, check out IT Spending, Worldwide, 1Q11 Update

Most recent IT spending forecasts are always available here: www.gartner.com/quarterly-it-forecast

Then Gartner delivered its next webinar on the iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business [April 13, 2011]

Here the company took an extended look to the market as best represented by these two slides from the attached to the webinar presentation:

Gartner on Common Target Devices -- 13-April-2011

Gartner on Media Tablets in the Larger Scheme -- 13-April-2011

So what is the story?Here Gartner’s message is the following (extracted as text from the slides which follow the above two):

    1. Computing Behavior Changes, as reported by mobile salesforce workers per:
      – laptop/smartphone scenarios:
      >>> 7 sessions with 24.0 mins duration for laptops
      >>> 26 sessions with 1.5 mins duration for smartphones
      – laptop/[media] tablet/smartphone scenarios:
      >>> 4 sessions with 36.0 mins duration for laptops
      >>> 12 sessions with 7.0 mins duration for [media] tablets
      >>> 19 sessions with 1.2 mins duration for smartphones
    2. Tablets and Smartphones Will Be Elements of Other Products and Systems
    3. Apple iOS: The Bechmark:
      – Consumer first, enterprise second
      – Third Party Management Tools
      – Weak in integrated collaboration, social application support, cloud services
      Recommendation for Enterprise CIOs: Consider to meet user demand and for near-term projects
    4. Google Android: Momentum
      – Fast innovator, not afraid to experiment
      – Surpasses Apple in overall features
      – Fragmentation is a major threat
      – Weak app validation
      Recommendation for Enterprise CIOs: Consider with enterprise-aware supplier
    5. RIM QNX: Enterprise Focus
      – QNX: stable OS but with new UI
      – Catch-up on apps and ecosystem
      Recommendation for Enterprise CIOs: Consider if already a Blackberry shop; Watch app availability, Android support
    6. Microsoft Windows 7: Legacy
      – “Heavy” OS in cost and resource requirements
      – Tablet OS on ARM not due until 2012
      Recommendation for Enterprise CIOs: Consider for traditional tablet PC hardware refresh, hardened legacy apps and meeting endpoint security demands
    7. HP WebOS: Coming from Behind
      – Focus on sync across platforms
      – Potential as strong enterprise player
      – Major work required to build apps store and ecosystem
      Recommendation for Enterprise CIOs: Watch ecosystem and apps
    8. HTML 5 Gets Strong Support
      – APIs include:
      >>> Offline Web applications
      >>> Canvas tag for 2D drawing
      >>> Offline storage database
      >>> Document editing
      >>> Drag and drop
      – Will the OS be relevant in the future?
      >>> Backing from Apple, Google, Nokia and others
      – JavaScript performance becomes important
      – Expect HTML extension and browser incompatibilities; Mobile Enterprise Application Paltforms can help

The press release Gartner Says There’s No Reason to Delay, CIOs Should Be Experimenting With Media Tablets in Business [April 5, 2011] provided these encouragement for enterprise IT (emphasis is mine):

Media tablets are presenting a variety of new opportunities for businesses, but they are also requiring a new set of policies, technologies and skills for enterprises, according to Gartner, Inc.

CIOs are determined not to make the same mistakes they made with smartphones, which were often written off early as expensive and frivolous toys, or executive status symbols— which then left room for more inventive leaders who saw the competitive advantage that mobile applications would bring,” said David Willis, research vice president at Gartner. “They are also more willing to see that they don’t need to supply and manage every device that employees use at work: Consumerization is here to stay, and moving very fast. If you can think of an application for tablets, your competition may well be thinking in the same way — and acting on it. It is time to explore the use of media tablets in business.”

The impact of the media tablet in the eyes of the public is much greater than would be believed from the number of units shipped. Gartner expects media tablet shipments to be approximately 69 million in 2011, which is only a small fraction of the total number of application-capable mobile devices, such as smartphones. Yet already the impact of the device on other forms of computing is great.

The media tablet device itself is only part of the story. Gartner analysts said the packaging of hardware and software that Apple created with the iPad, along with the ecosystem of applications and media that surrounded it has made the real difference. Media tablets present a variety of new opportunities for business, while supplementing traditional uses of notebooks and smartphones.

The iPad, and the larger wave of media tablets, has captured the imagination of business leaders. Some companies have issued them to business and IT leaders in the spirit of exploration. Others see areas in which they can use media tablets to bring computing into settings that were not practical or were too cumbersome to use traditional approaches,” said Mr. Willis. “For the consumer, the iPad brought a casual but rich experience into the living room, or the train, or while waiting in line at the bank. In turn, IT organizations are finding new places where tablets can deliver information and media in new ways.”

Mr. Willis pointed out that companies that had already recognized the flood of consumer devices coming into business, and had figured out a way to leverage it rather than fight it, have been more-prepared to support media tablets. Those who embraced “managed diversity” and figured out how to manage and secure iPhones, were developing strategies to manage and keep iPads within weeks of its launch.

Gartner has long maintained that media tablets are neither “better laptops,” nor “better smartphones,” but complement both. When compared with laptops, media tablets activate instantly, allowing a user to get right to what he or she needs, immediately, without long and frustrating startup times. They have exceptional battery life and are responsive, tactile and inviting. However, in a common mobile-worker scenario, employees may travel with a media tablet during the day, but then return to their laptops in the evening for heads-down data entry or content creation.

“Sales leaders are clamoring to adopt media tablets with their sales teams, as a more engaging way to share sales collateral and promotional materials. And it won’t stop there: Next will come customer relationship management systems, and order entry and sales configuration applications. For sales managers, media tablets will be a natural platform for business analytics and performance dashboards,” said Mr. Willis. “In other settings, the intimacy of using a media tablet supports more personal interactions. Doctors, nurses and medical technicians find they can sit down with a patient and help that patient understand a diagnosis, walk through a medical procedure and describe a therapy with them. Retail clerks can use tablets to display customized clothing for a customer. Conference attendees can take surveys on their own, with no training required. The opportunities are huge.”

However, just as media tablets won’t replace PCs, Gartner does not believe that they will replace mobile phones as voice devices, even in the smaller form factors, such as those with 7-inch displays. Nevertheless media tablets still have enormous potential in the workplace, although who stands to benefit most from the phenomenon remains to be seen.

“Fundamentally, the market battle will not hinge on features and specifications; on the fit and finish of a given device; or even on a device at all. The platform that will prevail will have a strong supporting ecosystem of developers producing a wide range of applications. And in this area, Apple is far ahead of any competition,” Mr. Willis said. “Not only does it have a first-mover advantage in the device itself, but it has built a curated application distribution mechanism in the App Store that is notable both for how users hold it in high regard and how detractors see it as a limitation. In the end, Apple’s lead will be very difficult to beat.”

Mr. Willis will provide more detailed analysis during the upcoming Gartner webinar “iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business” on Wednesday April 13 at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. To register for the complimentary webinars, please visit http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=202&mode=2&PageID=5553&ref=webinar-rss&resId=1586614&prm=WB_IPD11R.

Additional information is provided in the Gartner Special Report ” iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business.” The Special Report highlights Gartner’s research and advice to customers on best practices for business uses of iPad and other media tablets. The report is available on Gartner’s website at www.gartner.com/technology/research/ipad-media-tablet.

Gartner’s media tablet forecast is included with the latest IT spending forecast and can be found on the Quarterly IT Spending Forecast page www.gartner.com/technology/research/quarterly-it-forecast/index.jsp.

Returning to presentation attached to the webinar on the iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business [April 13, 2011] there are three slides worth to include here with an additional one used by Gartner for its Strategic Planning Assumption (SPA):

Gartner on New App Stores Delivery Model -- 13-April-2011 Gartner on Apple App Store Lead Retention -- 13-April-2011 Gartner on Mobile App Dev Tools through 2012 -- 13-April-2011 Gartner on Drive to Rapid Tablet Adoption in businesses -- 13-April-2011

Here an earlier Garner blog post comes in handy as well:

Curated App Stores, Security, And Why The Next Kindle Will Be An Android Device [March 23, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

We have been having some interesting discussions internally about the recent Android malware fiasco and how things need to be improved if Android ever wants to be taken seriously as an OS fit for use in an enterprise environment.

There has been some serious rhetoric against Apple’s “walled garden” approach in recent months but, like it or not from a philosophical standpoint, it certainly provides more protection for users than the Android Market. Some claim that the Apple approach stifles innovation. Pah! (Yes, I said “pah” – add to that a “pish and twaddle”, if you will.) One needs look no further than the sheer number of apps to shoot holes in that argument. Granted far too many of them are designed to emulate the passing of gas – some of us might argue that more controls are required, not fewer!

At the other end of the spectrum there are some truly excellent apps. Evernote, PDF Reader, TeamViewer, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, QuickOffice, DocsToGo, SoundNote – these are all apps on which I rely daily. And for sheer awesomeness look no further than GarageBand and iMovie. No shortage of innovation and quality there then.

And from the point of view of the user – particularly the non-computer savvy user – all of this just works. Couple of clicks to search for your app. One click to purchase, download and install. And – most important of all – Trojan-free once it arrives. Curated app stores are essential to the well-being of the ecosystem.

Google needs to emulate that experience with its Market, though its very credo seems to suggest that will never happen. Yet without it the store will descend into anarchy, with users scared to purchase for fear of what new and terrible piece of malware they might be introducing to their phone or tablet.

So along comes Amazon from nowhere, and in one fell swoop it might have beaten Google at its own game. Amazon has the position of trust. It has the customer review infrastructure in place. It already has our credit card details (who hasn’t bought anything from Amazon?) And now it has an Android Appstore (TM) to go with it. Now all it has to do is make sure that the stuff it sells is safe.

It has promised to do that, by applying both quality control and security vetting to the app review process. So why wouldn’t you buy from there rather than the Google Android Market? Well, I would – I already have. But my Auntie Edna probably wouldn’t. It is way more difficult than the Apple process, and right now requires a multi-step process just to get the Appstore app on your phone. It is not that difficult, but it is certainly a sub-optimal user experience compared with the “It Just Works” approach of Apple.

So what needs to happen for the Amazon Appstore (TM) to succeed? Simple – it needs to arrive pre-installed on Android devices. Lots of them.And while I am sure Amazon is probably in discussions with a bunch of carriers to achieve that objective, what better way to make sure it happens than to ship it in huge numbers on Amazon’s very own Android tablet – The Kindle IV?

Give us that great Kindle experience with Android flexibility at a super-low price point, and you might just have your iPad-killer… I certainly haven’t seen one among the devices announced so far.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@bwalder) to be kept informed of new research.

UPDATE: For those interested in all things tablet-related, Gartner has a special report out entitled iPad and Beyond: The Media Tablet in Business. The Apple iPad and its competitors in the coming media tablet wave have captured the imagination of business leaders. This special report highlights Gartner’s research and advice to customers on best practices for business uses of iPads and other media tablets.

Amazon’s “iPad-killer” opportunity with Android is especially an interesting observation by Gartner as in another press release it has been stated:

Gartner Says Android to Command Nearly Half of Worldwide Smartphone Operating System Market by Year-End 2012 [April 7, 2011] (emphasis is mine):

Egham, UK, April 7, 2011— Worldwide smartphone sales will reach 468 million units in 2011, a 57.7 percent increase from 2010, according to Gartner Inc. By the end of 2011, Android will move to become the most popular operating system (OS) worldwide and will build on its strength to account for 49 percent of the smartphone market by 2012 (see Table 1).

Sales of open OS* devices will account for 26 percent of all mobile handset device sales in 2011, and are expected to surpass the 1 billion mark by 2015, when they will account for 47 percent of the total mobile device market.

By 2015, 67 percent of all open OS devices will have an average selling price of $300 or below, proving that smartphones have been finally truly democratized,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner.

“As vendors delivering Android-based devices continue to fight for market share, price will decrease to further benefit consumers”, Ms. Cozza said. “Android’s position at the high end of the market will remain strong, but its greatest volume opportunity in the longer term will be in the mid- to low-cost smartphones, above all in emerging markets.”

Table 1
Worldwide Mobile Communications Device Open OS Sales to End Users by OS (Thousands of Units)

 OS 2010 2011 2012 2015
Symbian 111,577 89,930 32,666 661
Market Share (%) 37.6 19.2 5.2 0.1
Android 67,225 179,873 310,088 539,318
Market Share (%) 22.7 38.5 49.2 48.8
Research In Motion 47,452 62,600 79,335 122,864
Market Share (%) 16 13.4 12.6 11.1
iOS 46,598 90,560 118,848 189,924
Market Share (%) 15.7 19.4 18.9 17.2
Microsoft 12,378 26,346 68,156 215,998
Market Share (%) 4.2 5.6 10.8 19.5
Other Operating Systems 11,417.40 18,392.30 21,383.70 36,133.90
Market Share (%) 3.8 3.9 3.4 3.3
Total Market 296,647 467,701 630,476 1,104,898

Source: Gartner (April 2011)

Gartner predicts that Apple’s iOS will remain the second biggest platform worldwide through 2014 despite its share deceasing slightly after 2011. This reflects Gartner’s underlying assumption that Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy. This will continue to limit adoption in emerging regions. iOS share will peak in 2011, with volume growth well above the market average. This is driven by increased channel reach in key mature markets like the U.S. and Western Europe.

Research In Motion’s share over the forecast period will decline, reflecting the stronger competitive environment in the consumer market, as well as increased competition in the business sector. Gartner has factored in RIM’s migration from BlackBerry OS to QNX which is expected in 2012. Analysts said this transition makes sense because RIM can create a consistent experience going from smartphones to tablets with a single developer community and — given that QNX as a platform brings more advanced features than the classic BlackBerry OS — it can enable more competitive smartphone products.

Gartner predicts that Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier of its portfolio by the end of 2012, driving the platform to be the third largest in the worldwide ranking by 2013. Gartner has revised its forecast of Windows Phone’s market share upward, solely by virtue of Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia. Although this is an honorable performance it is considerably less than what Symbian had achieve in the past underlying the upward battle that Nokia has to face.

Gartner analysts said new device types will widen ecosystems. “The growth in sales of media tablets expected in 2011 and future years will widen the ecosystems that open OS communications devices have created. This will, by and large, function more as a driver than an inhibitor for sales of open OS devices,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

Consumers who already own an open OS communications device will be drawn to media tablets and more often than not, to media tablets that share the same OS as their smartphone,” Ms. Milanesi said. “This allows consumers to be able to share the same experience across devices as well as apps, settings or game scores. At the same time, tablet users who don’t own a smartphone could be prompted to adopt one to be able to share the experience they have on their tablets.”

Note *: An open OS makes a software developer kit (SDK) available to developers, who can use native application programming interfaces (APIs) to write applications. The OS can be supported by a sole vendor or multiple vendors. It can be, but does not have to be, open source. Examples are BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Limo Foundation, WebOS and bada.

Gartner’s detailed forecast is available in the report “Forecast: Mobile Communications Devices by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1619615.

Finally there are two Gartner press releases on the state of legacy PC market which were also behind of the above reasoning:

Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments in First Quarter of 2011 Suffer First Year-Over-Year Decline in Six Quarters [April 13, 2011]

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 84.3 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 1.1 percent decline from the first quarter of 2010, according to preliminary results from Gartner, Inc. Although the first quarter is traditionally a slow one for PC sales, these shipment results indicate potential sluggishness, not just a normal seasonal slowdown. These figures are below Gartner’s earlier forecast for 3 percent growth in the first quarter of 2011.

“Weak demand for consumer PCs was the biggest inhibitor of growth,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We’re investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market.”

Steady growth in the professional PC sector, driven by the replacement cycle, was a bright spot for the global PC market. Without the professional segment growth, the PC market could have experienced one of the worst declines in its recent history. Replacement sales will generally continue into late 2011 or the start of 2012, with some variations between different regions and market segments.

HP performed below the worldwide average, but maintained the No. 1 position, accounting for 17.6 percent of worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2011 (see Table 1). HP was impacted by weak consumer PC demand, as well as growing issues in Asia/Pacific. Acer continued to face challenges as the mini-notebook market was impacted by media tablets, and its shipments declined 12.2 percent.

Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q11 (Units)

1Q11 Shipments 1Q11 Market Share (%) 1Q10 Shipments 1Q10 Market Share (%) 1Q11-1Q10 Growth (%)
HP 14,797,299 17.6 15,312,468 18 -3.4
Acer Group 10,893,793 12.9 12,412,859 14.6 -12.2
Dell 9,984,370 11.9 10,210,766 12 -2.2
Lenovo 8,137,904 9.7 6,976,683 8.2 16.6
Toshiba 4,821,600 5.7 4,580,746 5.4 5.3
Others 35,615,953 42.3 35,686,995 41.9 -0.2
Total 84,250,918 100 85,180,518 100 -1.1

Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablet such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (April 2011)

In the first quarter of 2011, Dell experienced a shipment decline year-over-year for the first time in six quarters. Dell underperformed in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America, but it achieved strong growth in Asia/Pacific. Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors (16.6 percent) as it continued to price its products very competitively in both the consumer and professional sectors. It achieved strong growth across all regions.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 16.1 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 6.1 percent decline from the first quarter of 2010. “As with the worldwide market, the U.S. PC market was affected by the hype surrounding media tablets. This was the third consecutive quarter of mobile PC shipment declines in the U.S.,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “The U.S. professional PC market showed steady growth across all sectors. However, the public sector showed more than the normal seasonal weakness due to budgetary issues.”

HP continued to lead the U.S. market with its market share increasing to 26.2 percent, despite a shipment decline of 3.5 percent in the first quarter (see Table 2). While HP struggled in the consumer PC market, it also encountered tough price competition in the professional segment, especially in the midmarket.

Dell faced tough competition in both the U.S. consumer and professional markets. The challenge for Dell arose in the midmarket, where more vendors tried to squeeze in to benefit from professional PC refresh cycles. Apple maintained strong shipment growth, even after the holiday season. The MacBook Pro refresh at the end of February accelerated already strong Mac growth.

Table 2
Preliminary United States PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q11 (Units)

Company 1Q11 Shipments 1Q11 Market Share (%) 1Q10 Shipments 1Q10 Market Share (%) 1Q11-1Q10 Growth (%)
HP 14,797,299 17.6 15,312,468 18 -3.4
Acer Group 10,893,793 12.9 12,412,859 14.6 -12.2
Dell 9,984,370 11.9 10,210,766 12 -2.2
Lenovo 8,137,904 9.7 6,976,683 8.2 16.6
Toshiba 4,821,600 5.7 4,580,746 5.4 5.3
Others 35,615,953 42.3 35,686,995 41.9 -0.2
Total 84,250,918 100 85,180,518 100 -1.1

Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks, but not media tablet such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (April 2010)

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 26.1 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 2.8 percent decline from the first quarter of 2010 (see Table 3).

Table 3
Preliminary EMEA PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q11 (Thousands of Units)

Company 1Q11 Shipments 1Q11 Market Share (%) 1Q10 Shipments 1Q10 Market Share (%) 1Q11-1Q10 Growth (%)
Hewlett-Packard 5,019 19.2 5,532 20.6 -9.3
Acer Group 4,939 18.9 5,557 20.7 -11.1
Dell 2,318 8.9 2,500 9.3 -7.3
ASUS 1,950 7.5 2,186 8.1 -10.8
Lenovo 1,325 5.1 1,236 4.6 7.2
Others 10,567 40.5 9,856 36.7 7.2
Total 26,119 100 26,867 100 -2.8

Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablet such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (April 2011)
“The PC market in EMEA had not exhibited decline since the third quarter of 2009 when the market declined 8.9 per cent,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “The excess inventory accumulated at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 was reduced slowly, especially as some of the delayed Sandy Bridge products entered the market in March. The seasonal trend was also weaker than expected, indicating that the downward trend seen at the end of 2010 continued into the first quarter of 2011.”
Western Europe remained the main area of weakness in EMEA, as consumers continued to delay spending disposable income on PCs or other products like media tablets, especially after the launch of the iPad 2. This is extending current PC life cycles.

In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments surpassed 28.2 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 4.1 percent increase from the first quarter of 2010. PC purchases by consumers remained weak, especially in China and Taiwan. PCs were not high on consumers’ shopping lists during the Chinese New Year holiday. In India, consumers were distracted by the Cricket World Cup. They also preferred to upgrade or purchase new TVs or other home electronics.

The PC market in Lain America grew 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2011, as shipments totaled 8.1 million units. Brazil accounted for over 40 percent of Latin America’s PC shipments. As PC vendors’ interest in Brazil grows, so does competition. Local PC vendors are particularly vulnerable, as their strength lies in the production of desk-based PCs. Multinational vendors are making inroads by selling less-expensive mobile PCs.

PC shipments in Japan declined 13.1 percent in the first quarter of 2011, with shipments reaching 4 million units. The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 reduced PC shipments, and Gartner analysts are still investigating the scale of the impact on the market in first quarter. The impact of the disaster was most evident in the professional PC market, where the second half of March is the year’s busiest procurement period.

These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner’s PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe. Additional research can be found on Gartner’s Computing Hardware section on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/it/products/research/asset_129157_2395.jsp.

And this was preceded by earlier Gartner Lowers PC Forecast as Consumers Diversify Computing Needs Across Devices [March 3, 2011] press release:

Gartner, Inc. is lowering its PC unit forecast for 2011 and 2012, based on expectations of weaker demand for mobile consumer PCs. Worldwide PC shipments are forecast to reach 387.8 million units in 2011, a 10.5 percent increase from 2010, according to Gartner’s preliminary forecast. This is down from Gartner’s previous projection of 15.9 percent growth this year.

Gartner expects worldwide PC shipments to total 440.6 million units in 2012, a 13.6 percent increase from 2011. This is down from Gartner’s previous outlook of 14.8 percent growth for 2012.

“These results reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker consumer mobile PC demand, in no small part because of the near-term weakness expected in China’s mobile PC market, but also because of a general loss in consumer enthusiasm for mobile PCs,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

Gartner analysts said that consumer mobile PCs have been the dynamic growth engine of the PC market over the past five years, averaging annual rates of growth approaching 40 percent. For much of this period, mobile PCs remained consumers’ platform of choice for bringing the Internet into their daily lives. However, due to the spread of low-cost embedded Wi-Fi modules, Internet access is now available through a multitude of mobile devices that allow consumers to engage in virtually all their favorite online activities without the need of a mobile PC.

“We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales, especially in mature markets,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner. “We once thought that mobile PC growth would continue to be sustained by consumers buying second and third mobile PCs as personal devices. However, we now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys but are also likely to extend the lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device. Overall, we now expect home mobile PCs to average less than 10 percent annual growth in mature markets from 2011 through 2015.”

The professional market is expected to continue to exhibit double-digit growth in 2011 and 2012, as aging PCs are replaced across all regions of the world. “However, even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements,” said Raphael Vasquez, senior research analyst at Gartner.

The dramatic rise in the popularity of alternative devices and the limitations of the PC are two of many dynamics that played a significant role in Gartner’s revised outlook for the PC industry.

Media Tablets Causing Hesitation Among Potential PC Buyers
Consumer enthusiasm for media tablets is a key factor in Gartner’s forecast that the consumer mobile PC market will remain weak in mature markets. Consumer substitution of media tablets for mobile PCs already appears to be impacting mobile PC shipments in mature markets. However, a bigger issue seems to be that consumers are taking a “wait and see” attitude toward PCs as they anticipate the arrival of new media tablets during the rest of 2011.

PCs’ Limitations Are Exposed
Not too long ago, PCs were a “fashion accessory” in mature markets with vendors linking themselves to fashion designers and even creating PCs specifically for women. The current “cool” device is the smartphone, and now PCs will soon have to do battle with media tablets when they are launched in large numbers in the second quarter of 2011. Up to now, the appeal of mobile PCs has been their portability. But mainstream mobile PCs have not shed sufficient weight, and do not offer the all-day battery life, to substantiate their promise of real mobility. These limitations have become all the more apparent with the rapid spread of social networking, which thrives on constant and immediate connections. In short, all-day untethered computing has yet to materialize, and that has exposed the “mobile” PC as merely a transportable PC at best.

More information is available in the report “Forecast Alert: PC Forecast Is Lowered as Consumers Diversify Computing Needs Across Devices,” which can be found on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1558714.

Larry Page to boost Google even more as becoming CEO again

Choose any of the thousands (if not tens of thousands) mirrored reports by AP that Google founder hopes to prove he’s ready to be CEO [April 1, 2011] to learn the hopes and worries of the fans and anxious investors about the return of Larry Page [38] as CEO of Google after 10 years of Eric Schmidt’s [55] leadership.

Warning update: Google as an evil enterprise: the perception changes as vital APIs are shut down  [June 1, 2011]

An update from the Chairman [Eric Schmidt, Jan 20, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Google -- Eric Schmidt with Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 2001

When I joined Google in 2001 I never imagined—even in my wildest dreams—that we would get as far, as fast as we have today. Search has quite literally changed people’s lives—increasing the collective sum of the world’s knowledge and revolutionizing advertising in the process. And our emerging businesses—display, Android, YouTube and Chrome—are on fire. Of course, like any successful organization we’ve had our fair share of good luck, but the entire team—now over 24,000 Googlers globally—deserves most of the credit.

And as our results today show, the outlook is bright. But as Google has grown, managing the business has become more complicated. So Larry, Sergey and I have been talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making—and over the holidays we decided now was the right moment to make some changes to the way we are structured.

For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions. This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us. But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company.

Google - Larry Page in the European Parliament -- 17-June-2009 Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google’s Chief Executive Officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google’s technology and business vision brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.

Sergey [Brin, 37] has decided to devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products. His title will be Co-Founder. He’s an innovator and entrepreneur to the core, and this role suits him perfectly.

As Executive Chairman, I will focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google’s global reach; and internally as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

We are confident that this focus will serve Google and our users well in the future. Larry, Sergey and I have worked exceptionally closely together for over a decade—and we anticipate working together for a long time to come. As friends, co-workers and computer scientists we have a lot in common, most important of all a profound belief in the potential for technology to make the world a better place. We love Google—our people, our products and most of all the opportunity we have to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

Then watch this Perspective from Google: Eric Schmidt & Larry Page – Zeitgeist Europe 2010 [May 19, 2010] to understand the quite subtle differences between the two leaders. Note that Larry Page is introverted vs. the typical extroverts as business leaders. Note as well (from reply to a question) that Google is not doing the typical business planning exercise but Larry and Brin ideas are simply financed because the operation is generating sufficient revenues for that. This is giving them a unique competitive advantage of moving along innovative things while all the rest of the industry is loosing time with planning.

From Zeitgeist 2010 Google Partner Forum Europe held 17-18 May 2010. Featuring Eric Schmidt (Chairman of the Board & CEO, Google) & Larry Page (Co-Founder & President, Products, Google).
[from 1:20 he is talking about how much he was struck by captioning and translation …]
Note: Switch on the caption and try also the translation on this video. Generally it is a great experience (although not always perfect, since it depends on the clarity of the speech). More information on the technology is available under the Captions tag on the YouTube blog. Best to start is probably here: The Future Will Be Captioned: Improving Accessibility on YouTube [March 4, 2010] and here: Happy Birthday Automatic Captions! Celebrate with more videos and higher quality [Nov 19, 2010]

For detailed analysis – however – of the possible effects of Larry Page becoming CEO again it is better to turn to Fast Company’s earlier 7 Ways Larry Page Is Defining Google’s Future [March 16, 2011] article (quite long). Here is the essence:

The company line on Page’s ascension is that it does not mark any effort to “fix something” at Google. After all, the company reported stellar earnings the day it announced that Page would replace Eric Schmidt. It generated more than $29 billion in revenue in 2010 and 24% annual growth. Page has been part of what has been an unusual but effective ruling troika with Schmidt and fellow cofounder, Sergey Brin.

And yet Page is becoming CEO at a crucial inflection point in Google’s history. The company is beset by rivals everywhere — Apple and Facebook, both of which are closing off chunks of Internet activity beyond Google’s reach; Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and others that compete fiercely against it in multiple markets; and even the U.S., the EU, and other governments that want to curtail Google’s ambition. Lately, Google has had more and more public whiffs (see Google Wave, Google Buzz, Google TV).

It’s true that Page is not stepping into a dire situation as Steve Jobs did at Apple in 1997. Page doesn’t need to be a turnaround artist. Yet he has to do something potentially harder: make changes to a winning formula in the face of intense scrutiny, when momentum appears to be against him. To borrow a sports aphorism, winning your first championship is easy compared with trying to repeat.

To outsiders, Page might seem an odd choice to be CEO. He’s personally reserved, unabashedly geeky, and said to be introverted. We won’t be seeing him keynoting A-list conferences with grand vision statements or sitting down for intimate conversations with the press (Google declined to make him available for this article). But after talking to high-level Google executives who work closely with Page, as well as ex-Googlers and other outside observers, a picture begins to emerge of how the search company will change under him. Here’s our seven-part guide to the Google of today — and tomorrow.

  1. A Little Top-Down Leadership Goes a Long Way
  2. Spur On Your Frenemies [encourage your “enemy friends” to do something]
  3. When in Doubt, Check the Data
  4. When in Creative Mode, Don’t Start With Data
  5. A Social Life Is Overrated
  6. Listen Up: Talk Is Cheap
  7. No Goal Is Too Big (And Some Are Too Small)

1. A Little Top-Down Leadership Goes a Long Way

Google - 20% delivering 50% which worked well till 10000 employees For much of its early life, Google reveled in its bottom-up culture. The governing philosophy was “Let’s hire lots of really smart people and let them do whatever they want,” says Brian Kennish, a Google engineer from 2003 to late 2010. Employees — especially engineers — were given unparalleled leeway in deciding what they wanted to work on and encouraged to use 20% of their time to come up with new ideas.

The archetypal product of this era was Gmail, which was born when engineer Paul Buchheit hacked it up in a single day in the summer of 2001. He showed the prototype to his colleagues, and when they expressed interest, Buchheit pulled other promising engineers onto his team. This kind of thing happened time and again at Google; among other products conceived deep within the company’s ranks were Google News, search suggestions, and AdSense, the contextual advertising system that accounted for nearly $9 billion in revenue in 2010.

Kennish, echoing several other former Googlers, adds, “This system worked really well until the company reached about 10,000 workers. After that, things started to break down.” (Google now has 24,000 employees and plans to hire another 6,000 in 2011.)

Android represents a new order, one that Page, who has long played a role in product strategy, will accelerate. … Page and Brin pushed Google into mobile, buying Android when the project was an eight-person startup in 2005. (Schmidt later joked that they didn’t tell him about it until after the deal.) At the time, Google’s mobile strategy was a hodgepodge effort to install its apps on lots of different mobile phones. Page realized that game would never scale. Eustace says it would have required “5,000 people, each one trying to port apps to all the different phones.” For Google to truly benefit from the transition to mobile phones, it would need to shoot for something bigger. Page gave Andy Rubin, Android’s indomitable chief, the resources to run the division as an autonomous unit. Their ambition helped Google settle on a course to release an entire operating system, rather than a single phone. What’s more, Google made Android free and allowed phone manufacturers and carriers to tinker with the software.

Google Andy Rubin (center) with major early partners HTC CEO Peter Chou and Christopher Schlaeffer T-Mobile -- 8-Oct-2008

Android, then, is as much a marvel of management as it is of engineering. “It wasn’t that Larry handed down his vision on stone tablets,” Eustace says. (In other words, he’s not Steve.) But Page had the founding idea that “what was necessary was an ecosystem,” and Android wouldn’t be where it is today if he hadn’t pushed for Google to do something more ambitious. Google - Android Patrners in Open Handset Alliance -- 6-Nov-2007

Page has done this elsewhere. Google’s recent success with YouTube in the face of an unrelenting stream of criticism can be chalked up to a similar management tactic: Page empowered YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar in much the same way he has Android’s Rubin. … As Page takes over, he’ll still find product seedlings everywhere. Google’s product lineup is replete with services that offer overlapping, needlessly duplicative functionality. Android’s triumph should serve as a sweet reminder of the value in imposing just enough discipline before letting the kids chase the ice-cream truck.

See also:
Google Buys Android for Its Mobile Arsenal [Aug 17, 2005]: “The 22-month-old startup, based in Palo Alto, Calif., brings to Google a wealth of talent, including co-founder Andy Rubin, who previously started mobile-device maker Danger Inc.
CrunchBase on Android

In July 2005, Google acquired Android, a small startup company based in Palo Alto, CA. Android’s co-founders who went to work at Google included Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (one of the first engineers at WebTV). At the time, little was known about the functions of Android other than they made software for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter the mobile phone market, although it was unclear at the time what function they might perform in that market.

Introducing Android [Nov 5, 2007]

[2:19] The creators of Android talk about their new open platform for mobile phones and the Open Handset Alliance. To learn more, visit: http://www.openhandsetalliance.com

Where’s my Gphone? [Andy Rubin, Nov 5, 2007]

Google Android chief Andy Rubin Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile. Through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. We think the result will ultimately be a better and faster pace for innovation that will give mobile customers unforeseen applications and capabilities.

Google, Bidding For Phone Ads, Lures Partners [The Wall Street Journal, Nov 6, 2007]

Among the handset makers that have signed on to the initiative are Taiwan’s HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Inc. Operator partners include Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel Corp. and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc. (See the entire list of Google’s partners.) …

But until new handsets based on Android come to market, it won’t be clear how far operators have gone to satisfy Google’s desire for open mobile software. Some carriers have said they still want to make sure Android doesn’t allow sensitive user information to fall into the hands of rogue third-party developers, leading to invasions of privacy and security risks. Those issues partly explain why large U.S. operators such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, have yet to sign on to Google’s initiative.

Verizon Wireless is still weighing whether to join, a person familiar with the company’s thinking said. AT&T, in part because it exclusively carries Apple Inc.’s iPhone in the U.S., is restricted from partnering with Google, people familiar with the matter say. …

Sprint hasn’t agreed to carry a Google-powered phone yet, but signed on to the Android alliance while it continues talks. John Garcia, the carrier’s senior vice president of product development, said using Android in phones would make it easier to get a variety of mobile applications to consumers. Mr. Garcia said mobile-game makers routinely have to test their applications on an array of Sprint phones, writing specific programming code for each one. That could become a thing of the past if an open platform becomes widespread.

Android Open Source Project [Oct 20, 2008]

[4:26] An introduction to Android Open Source Project. Android is the first free, open source, and fully customizable mobile platform. Android offers a full stack: an operating system, middleware, and key mobile applications. It also contains a rich set of APIs that allows third-party developers to develop great applications. Learn more at source.android.com.

From this (my own) blog:
OPhone OS (OMS) 2.0 based on Android 2.1 [July 5, 2010]
Android 2.2 (Froyo) excitement is just the tip of the iceberg for the current Android momentum [July 9 – Sept 10, 2010]
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and 3.0 (Honeycomb) [Dec 30, 2010 – Feb 4, 2011]

What’s behind Android’s race to No. 1? [March 8, 2011]:

It’s no longer the era of the BlackBerry — or the iPhone. According to a market research report released this week, Google’s Android operating system now is the most popular smartphone platform in the United States.

The first phone running Android, the T-Mobile G1, wasn’t announced until September 2008. Only 2½ years later, the research firm comScore says Android is No. 1 in the U.S. with 31.2% of the market, compared with 30.4% for BlackBerry’s business-friendly operating system and 24.7% for the iOS from Apple, which powers the seemingly omnipresent iPhone.

What accounts for this meteoric rise? Here’s a summary of what makes Android popular, based on conversations with smartphone experts, buzz on the tech blogs and reader responses to our query posted on the @cnntech Twitter feed.

  • Consumers like choices
  • There’s basically one iPhone
  • There are dozens of Android options
  • Integration with the internet
  • Openness of the Android Market
  • Apps that do what you need, not what you don’t: In terms of app numbers, Android is losing big to Apple. Google’s Android Market has 150,000 apps. Apple has more than 350,000. But Gikas said the Android apps pretty  much cover everything an average consumer would want a phone to do, so having more apps isn’t necessarily the best selling point.
  • Stealing the best of everything and then giving it away

Platform Versions [Android Developers site, extracted on April 1, 2011]

Google Android Platform Versions - Historical Distribution -- 1-April-2011

Platform API Level Distribution
Android 1.5 3 2.7%
Android 1.6 4 3.5%
Android 2.1 7 27.2%
Android 2.2 8 63.9%
Android 2.3 9 0.8%
Android 2.3.3 10 1.7%
Android 3.0 11 0.2%

2. Spur On Your Frenemies [encourage your “enemy friends” to do something]

2009.04.30. [2:33] What is a browser? was the question we asked over 50 passersby of different ages and backgrounds in the Times Square in New York. Watch the many responses people came up with.

Less than 8% of people who were interviewwd on this day knew what a browser was.
[But most of them knew Google, and most of them considered Google a browser.]

Two years ago, Google sent a camera crew to Times Square, in New York, and asked passersby a simple question: What is a web browser? “A browser’s a search engine,” said one guy. Another respondent was pretty sure that “it’s what I search through — like, to find things.” When asked which browser they use, most people said Google, while a few renegades stuck to Yahoo and AOL. None of these, of course, are browsers.

So if you’ve ever wondered why Google needed its own web browser, called Chrome, here’s why: It needed Chrome to goad Microsoft, Apple, and other browser makers into reigniting innovation in what had become a moribund market. Everyone’s efforts collectively improve the web as a whole, which is good for Google and its ad business. Even if its rivals merely copied Chrome’s advancements — superfast, stable, and, thus far, impossible to hack — Google saw that it could achieve its larger goals.

Expect Page to launch even more initiatives that may seem futile when considered alone but that are, in fact, designed to wake up drowsy competitors. Think about such “puzzling” Google moves as releasing its own branded phones — the Nexus One and Nexus S — and competing against the handset makers and carriers that it’s supposed to be courting. Or about Google’s initiative to wire America with fiber-optic lines, as its plan to roll out superfast Internet to several cities suggests. Google really wants Verizon and others to pick up the pace. And when those rivals do, Google will benefit from the innovations that result.

See also: Sun Valley: Schmidt Didn’t Want to Build Chrome Initially, He Says [July 9, 2009]
Comment: Chrome came out in September 2008.

3. When in Doubt, Check the Data

Deciding questions by data is to Google what eye-catching design is to Apple, or what global supply-chain management is to Walmart. It forms the spine of every major decision, and nearly every minor one. Data’s preeminence in Google’s culture helps prevent anyone at the company from pulling rank. It also wards off resistance to change. This will only become more important as Page takes over as the top decision maker at a company whose core search algorithm, PageRank, is named for him.

… Even Page has proved willing to reverse himself if the numbers don’t bear him out. …

Google’s devotion to data isn’t always an asset (as we’ll explore momentarily), but there’s likely no other way for the company to conceive of itself because that’s how Page operates. “I was talking to Larry on Saturday,” says Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, when we sit down to talk the following Tuesday. “I told him that I’d gotten back from nine cities in 12 days — Munich, Copenhagen, Davos, Zurich, New Delhi, Bombay, London, San Francisco. There’s a silence for five seconds. And then he’s like, ‘That’s only eight.’ “

4. When in Creative Mode, Don’t Start With Data

… As Google grows into more arenas where engineering alone can’t carry the day, most notably in social and handheld interfaces, Page will have to tweak this data-driven mind-set to embrace more creative types if the company is to thrive. Google has never invested heavily in hiring classically trained designers, and insiders say that due to a constant shortage of creative staff, engineers sometimes decide the look of their own products. …

And yet, despite Page’s personal inclinations, there are signs that Google is pushing itself to transcend its design deficiencies. Matias Duarte joined the company’s Android team last year from Palm, where he was lauded for creating the well-regarded user interface for its mobile operating system called WebOS. Duarte admits that since signing on, he has come to rely on data as a tool in the design process — but not, he insists, as a crutch. Whereas the look and feel of Apple’s software and hardware are kept secret and revealed to just a few people, Duarte’s designs are shared widely inside Google and with other partners and testers. (Google routinely tests products this way before sharing them with the world, calling the process “dogfooding,” as in the company eats its own dog food. Or, in Duarte’s case, “Droid-fooding.”)

Duarte points out that this openness has led to novel insights into what users want. Honeycomb, Google’s new tablet-specific version of Android, includes an eye-catching interface to show people all the recent applications they’ve been using. It’s a feature that the iPad sorely misses — and it came about only because of extensive statistical analysis of usage patterns. The lesson: Google can succeed in more creative pursuits if it pushes the limits of its data-centric culture but still relies on that culture to enhance creative solutions. “We don’t design by committee; we don’t design by focus group,” Duarte says. “But we do verify everything we’re trying to do with our design with stringent, large-scale user testing.” …

5. A Social Life Is Overrated

Page’s apparent lack of personal interest on the web’s major social sites creates a convenient narrative for Google’s dreadful record in the space — a string of failures that include Dodgeball, Jaiku, Lively, Buzz, and Wave. Orkut, the social network that Google engineer Orkut Büyükkökten launched in 2004, is still alive (it’s big in Brazil), but few Googlers consider it a success. Meanwhile, Google has had several social-networking savants in the ‘plex and let them slip away to found other companies, among them Evan Williams (Twitter) and Dennis Crowley (Foursquare). …

… “There’s an EQ — an emotional intelligence — around social software, and it just might be out of Google’s reach,” says Jason Shellen, who spent four years as a business-development exec at Google after it acquired Blogger and who now works at AOL. …

… But that’s not to say Google is giving up on social. Far from it. Its success relies on understanding how the web works, and the web is getting more social all the time. Google has continued to acquire social startups — most recently Slide for $228 million (not to mention its rumored interest in buying Twitter for $10 billion). According to sources, Google isn’t planning a Facebook clone but rather it intends to roll out new social features across all its products. Its ultimate aim seems to be to collect and analyze the social activity that’s going on across the web, beyond Facebook’s walls. …

… If Google can’t compete with Facebook directly, perhaps it can render Facebook moot by making everything else on the web feel like Facebook. Still, building a fun web-based community turns out to be harder than building a great smartphone (witness the utter failure that is Apple’s Ping). Don’t be surprised if this is one arena where Page is happy merely to have a credible offering.

6. Listen Up: Talk Is Cheap

The company became the biggest search engine in the world because it built a better product, not because it created better TV ads than Yahoo.

Google’s build-it-and-they-will-come naïveté seems almost cute in the age of Apple. Many of Google’s advances go unnoticed by the public because nobody hears about them. Do iPhone owners know that Android lets you dictate email by voice? Imagine the marketing fun Apple would have there. Or that Google Voice rings all your phones when someone calls you, and transcribes your voice mail to boot?

With its new CEO an introvert, perhaps Google will never tap its inner Apple. But maybe, in the bigger picture, that’s a trade-off worth making. Page is not a CEO out of central casting, despite the fact that Wall Street and the media tend to prefer extroverts as leaders: the superhero who puffs out his chest and delivers bold, motivating pronouncements. According to some surprising forthcoming research from management professors at Harvard Business School, the University of North Carolina, and Wharton, though, introverts can be more successful leaders — particularly in dynamic, uncertain, and fast-changing environments like the tech industry. “They tend to be less threatened by others’ ideas,” says Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and coauthor of the study. “And they’ll collect a lot of them before determining a vision.” Because introverts spend more time listening than talking, they hear more ideas.

The hallmarks of Google culture, including the weekly TGIF [Thank God It’s Friday] sessions where Page and Brin take questions from employees, are precisely about creating dialogue. Even if the company relies less on 20% time for unfettered product development, Page’s personal style is likely to keep new ideas flowing. The key for Page is to “surround himself with some extroverts,” Grant says. “Extroversion and introversion are the only personality traits where you need a balance between the two to be an effective team.” As the success of the Bing sting indicates, Page seems to be listening to his extroverts in embracing a bolder public profile — not for himself, but for Google.

Google TGIF in 2006 with new Googlers wearing propeller heads

See also: What’s it like to work in Mountain View? [Google]

Transparency is a staple of Google’s working environment – all voices matter and Googlers enjoy a variety of opportunities to share information and voice questions and opinions. For example, every Friday we host a “TGIF” [Thank God It’s Friday] event in Charlie’s Cafe, where Googlers can learn about the company’s latest news and ask their tough questions in live Q&A sessions.

7. No Goal Is Too Big (And Some Are Too Small)

That audaciousness — the ambition to tackle a seemingly unsolvable problem with deep reservoirs of money and data — is the ultimate insight into what makes Google Googley. “When people come to Larry with ideas, he always wants it bigger,” says one ex-Googler. “His whole point is that only Google has the kind of resources to make big bets. The asset that Larry brings is to say, ‘Let’s go and make big things happen.’ ” (This may explain why Page isn’t interested in a Facebook killer: “With social, there isn’t a problem for Google to solve,” says the former Googler Shellen.)

That’s what’s thrilling about Page taking the helm at Google right now. You get the sense that under his leadership, Google could try its hand at anything. More than anything else during my interviews with people who know Page, one comment stands out: “I don’t care what you put in the article,” says David Lawee, Google’s head of acquisitions. “To me, this is the real story: Larry is a truly awesome inventor-entrepreneur. My aspiration for him is that he becomes one of the greatest inventors-entrepreneurs in history, in the realm of the Thomas Edisons of the world.”

The example used in the above article to prove the point is the Statistical Machine Translation research applied in Google’s machine-translation system:

[Franz] Och oversees Google’s machine-translation system, a spectacularly ambitious effort that analyzes text found on the web to create statistical models that can transform one language into another. Machine translation is far from perfect, but Google’s project, which began in 2004, has succeeded far beyond what most experts thought possible. Including Och. Google spent a year trying to recruit him; each time, he explained to Page and other execs that what they were asking for couldn’t be done. “They were very optimistic, and I tried to tell them to be cautious,” he says. “It’s really complicated, extremely expensive, and you need very large amounts of data.”

The company hired Och despite his skepticism, and today, machine translation (along with speech recognition) is one of Google’s best-known artificial-intelligence projects. It’s also a key competitive advantage. Even on the iPhone, you’ll use Google’s software to help you read that French road sign or to transform your voice commands into text searches. Och now seems bemused by this success. Google, he says, simply had far more resources — more data, more computing power, more money — than he ever thought possible. Google can now translate 58 different languages. “When I started at Google, if you told me that five years later we’d be able to translate Yiddish, Maltese, Icelandic, Azerbaijani, and Basque, I would have said, That’s just not going to happen,” he says. “But [Page and Brin] didn’t believe me. And I guess they were more right than I was.”

Inside Google Translate [July 9, 2010]

Let’s see for more details a presentation by Franz Och who oversees that work:
Google Faculty Summit 2009: Statistical Machine Translation [Oct 5, 2009]

Google Tech Talk, July 30, 2009 [49:50] Most state-of-the-art commercial machine translation systems in use today have been developed using a rules-based approach and require a lot of work by linguists to define vocabularies and grammars. Several research systems, including ours, take a different approach: we feed the computer with billions of words of text, both monolingual text in the target language, and aligned text consisting of examples of human translations between the languages.

Google - Static Machine Translation improvements for languages launched recently -- 30-July-2009[13:28 – 14:24] … some of the languages we’ve launched recently, Hindi, Thai and Hungarian … It is quite challenging for some of the languages to find data …

Doubling Up [Franz Josef Och, Sept 29, 2008]

Machine translation is hard. Natural languages are so complex and have so many ambiguities and exceptions that teaching a computer to translate between them turned out to be a much harder problem than people thought when the field of machine translation was born over 50 years ago. At Google Research, our approach is to have the machines learn to translate by using learning algorithms on gigantic amounts of monolingual and translated data. Another knowledge source is user suggestions. This approach allows us to constantly improve the quality of machine translations as we mine more data and get more and more feedback from users.

A nice property of the learning algorithms that we use is that they are largely language independent — we use the same set of core algorithms for all languages. So this means if we find a lot of translated data for a new language, we can just run our algorithms and build a new translation system for that language.

As a result, we were recently able to significantly increase the number of languages on translate.google.com. Last week, we launched eleven new languages: Catalan, Filipino, Hebrew, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese. This increases the total number of languages from 23 to 34.  Since we offer translation between any of those languages this increases the number of language pairs from 506 to 1122 (well, depending on how you count simplified and traditional Chinese you might get even larger numbers). We’re very happy that we can now provide free online machine translation for many languages that didn’t have any available translation system before.

So how far can we go with adding new languages in the future? Can we go to 40, 50 or even more languages?  It is certainly getting harder, as less data is available for those languages and as a result it is harder to build systems that meet our quality bar.  But we’re working on better learning algorithms and new ways to mine data and so even if we haven’t covered your favorite language yet, we hope that we will have it soon.

See also:
Statistical machine translation live [April 28, 2006)]

Google Translate adds 10 new languages… [May 15, 2008]: “We’ve recently added translation capabilities for 10 new languages to Google Translate, bringing the total to 23 languages. The newly featured languages include Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian and Swedish.

Translate between 41 languages with Google Translate [Feb 26, 2009]: “recently added Turkish, Thai, Hungarian, Estonian, Albanian, Maltese, and Galician to the mix. The rollout of these seven additional languages marks a new milestone: automatic translations between 41 languages (1,640 language pairs!). This means we can now translate between languages read by 98% of Internet users.

51 Languages in Google Translate [Aug 31, 2009]: “we’ve added 9 new languages to Google Translate: Afrikaans, Belarusian, Icelandic, Irish, Macedonian, Malay, Swahili, Welsh, and Yiddish, bringing the number of languages we support from 42 to 51.”

A new look for Google Translate [Nov 16, 2009]:

Translate instantly: Say goodbye to the old “Translate” button. Google Translate now translates your text right as you type.

Read and write any language: Want to say “Today is a good day” in Chinese, but can’t read Han characters? Click “Show romanization” to read the text written phonetically in English. Right now, this works for all non-Roman languages except for Hebrew, Arabic and Persian.

Text-to-speech: When translating into English, you can now also hear translations in spoken form by clicking the Speaker Icon.

Giving a voice to more languages on Google Translate [May 11, 2010]:

One of the popular features of Google Translate is the ability to hear translations spoken out loud (”text-to-speech”) by clicking the speaker icon beside some translations, like the one below.

We rolled this feature out for English and Haitian Creole translations a few months ago and added French, Italian, German, Hindi and Spanish a couple of weeks ago. Now we’re bringing text-to-speech to even more languages with the open source speech synthesizer, eSpeak.

By integrating eSpeak we’re adding text-to-speech functionality for Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh.

Five more languages on translate.google.com [May 13, 2010]: “In 2009, we announced the addition of our first “alpha” language, Persian, on Google Translate. Today, we are excited to add five more alpha languages: Azerbaijani, Armenian, Basque, Urdu and Georgian — bringing the total number of languages on Google Translate to 57.

Poetic Machine Translation [Oct 5, 2010]: “A Statistical Machine Translation system, like Google Translate, typically performs translations by searching through a multitude of possible translations, guided by a statistical model of accuracy. However, to translate poetry, we not only considered translation accuracy, but meter and rhyming schemes as well. In our paper we describe in more detail how we altered our translation model, but in general we chose to sacrifice a little of the translation’s accuracy to get the poetic form right.”

Franz Josef Och site
Google Translate blog

Google Technology RoundTable: Human Language Technology [Aug 21, 2008]

Human language technology experts at Google, Franz Josef Och and Mike Cohen discuss their exciting research in machine translation and speech technology with Alfred Spector, Google VP of Research and Special Initiatives.

Acer’s decision of restructuring: a clear sign of accepting the inevitable disintegration of the old PC (Wintel) ecosystem and the need for joining one of the new ecosystems under formation

Acer’s latest decision is also based on the so called Stan’s Smiling Curve — see much below — which was used already twice for understanding the restructuring needs in times of radical changes in the industry. This is the reason why product value, associated R&D and focusing on telecom channels (= more effective distribution, marketing and sales/aftersales) are emphasized along with consumer oriented products:

Follow-Up (Aug 2, 2011):
Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push [March 29, 2011 with comprehensive update on Aug 2, 2011] which is showing serious technical and market problems with the original version of Honeycomb

Update: Global PC Shipments Dip 3.2% in Q1: IDC [April 29]

Although the forecast for the quarter was already conservative–IDC expected a mere 1.5% growth in shipments–a steady but still cautious business mentality and waning consumer enthusiasm persisted. A spike in fuel and commodity prices and the disruptions in Japan added to the mix, further dampening a market struggling to maintain momentum, the major international market research firm said.

Despite promising economic sentiments, mature regions appear to be more focused on necessary replacements as a relative dearth of compelling reasons were present to buy secondary PCs. Emerging markets fared better due to lower saturation rates, but also slowed somewhat with Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region (APEJ) slowing to a 5.6% growth and China continuing to cool off after a momentous 2010.

Taiwan-based Acer was affected by continued turbulence in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, its biggest market. Moreover, the vendor is stilling feeling the pullback in the Mini Notebook (netbook) and consumer space, while its upcoming tablet PCs have yet to fill in the void. In the U.S., Acer also ceded its place to a surging Apple in the major market.

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, Q1` 20111 (Preliminary)
(Units Shipments are in thousands)

Rank Vendor Q1`11 Shipments Market Share Q11`0 Shipments Market Share YoY
1 HP 15,191 18.9% 15,624 18.8% -2.8%
2 Dell 10,284 12.8% 10,469 12.6% -1.8%
3 Acer Group 9,039 11.2% 10,733 12.9% -15.8%
4 Lenovo 8,172 10.1% 7,028 8.4% 16.3%
5 Toshiba 4,809 6.0% 4,634 5.6% 3.8%
Others 33,062 41.0% 34,712 41.7% -4.8%
All Vendors 80,557 100.0% 83,200 100.0% -3.2%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, April 13, 2011

Worth to read along with this: Gartner: media tablets are the new segment next to mobile PCs and desktops, as well as web- and app-capable mobile phones [April 16, 2011]

Update: Acer appoints new president, adjusts corporate organization [April 20, 2011]

Acer on April 19 announced the appointment of Jim Wong, originally corporate senior vice president and IT Products Group president, as new corporate president effective immediately. The company has also separated its IT product global operations into two independent entities, Touch Business Group (Touch BG) and PC Global Operations (PCGO).

Touch BG consists of the original tablet PC and smartphone teams and is led by the new corporate president Jim Wong, while PCGO was originally the main PC product team and is led by president Campbell Kan, former vice president for smart hand-held business unit.

Acer has also set up three functional offices, Chief Marketing Office responsible for brand positioning and marketing strategies, Chief Technology Office for mid- to long-term business planning and integration of technologies, and Operation Analysis Office for studying and analyzing company business models and financial affairs.

In addition, Acer forecasts that its PC shipments in the second quarter of 2011 will decrease 10% on quarter mainly due to the impact of the corporate reorganization, inventory adjustments in main markets, and off-season effects.

Update: Acer changes business strategy from pushing volume to value, says chairman [April 8, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Acer, in the future, will no longer push only shipment volumes, but will spend more time seeking product value and developing products that consumers need. To accomplish this, Acer will be seeking more R&D talent in the future, Wang noted.

Wang pointed out that a revolution is already in progress in the IT industry and Acer’s change in strategy is a must and the revolution will not only appear in the smartphone and the tablet PC industries. Wang used examples and noted that Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system for 2012 will add support for ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC) platforms, and the software giant’s new move will completely change notebook and netbook’s designs in the future as future notebooks and netbooks will also feature instant boot capability, and Acer must catch up with all these opportunities.

In addition, Acer will also put more focus on developing technologies such as Clear Fi, touchscreen and software user interfaces, as well as working deeply into telecom channels.

Update: Acer increases Iconia tablet PC orders for April [April 12, 2011]

Taiwan-based PC brand vendor Acer has increased its April tablet PC orders to 500,000-800,000 units, aiming to compete against Motorola, RIM and Hewlett-Packard’s (HP’s) tablet PCs, according to sources from upstream component makers.

The sources pointed out that the 10-inch model is assembled by Compal Electronics with 7-inch model handled by Quanta Computer. Although Acer only placed a small amount of tablet PC orders in March, the company has significantly raised its orders in April with volume for 10-inch models reaching 400,000-600,000 units.

As US-based telecom carrier AT&T is already set to start selling Acer’s Iconia Tab A501, if Acer can also cut into Verizon’s channel, the company is expected to be able to challenge Motorola’s Xoom tablet PC. Acer internally forecasts to ship 5-7 million tablet PCs in 2011.

Acer has also recently started reducing its shipment proportion for netbooks and is aiming to have its tablet PC products cover the gap.

Acer also released a new company logo to show that the company is heading into a new direction and is aiming to create a new brand value.

Update: Acer changes its logo, hopes to start afresh [April 11, 2011]

Acer to initiate corporate restructuring, chairman says [April 1, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

The emergence of tablet PCs has made a strong impact on sales of consumer notebooks and netbooks, making Acer’s strategy ineffective, and therefore Acer has to initiate a corporate restructuring, Acer chairman JT Wang has said.

Wang, who has assumed the post of CEO at Acer after former CEO Gianfranco Lanci resigned on March 31, said Acer will appoint a global president at the end of April.

Wang said as CEO he will be responsible for finance, personnel and global marketing, while the president will supervise product design, product innovation, procurement and logistics services.

Acer’s president for Europe Walter Deppler, president for North America, Emmanuel Fromont, president for China, Oliver Ahrens and chief marketing officer Gianpiero Morbello are all expected to stay at their current posts, Wang said.

Wang also insisted that it is still not necessary for Acer to lower its shipment target for tablet PCs at the moment. Acer aims to ship 5-7 million tablet PCs in 2011.

See as well the following trend-tracking posts of mine. Without reading of them this trend-tracking post of “further information collection” could not be complete:
Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push [March 29, 2011]
Changing purchasing attitudes for consumer computing are leading to a new ICT paradigm [Jan 5, 2011]
ASUS, China Mobile and Marvell join hands in the OPhone ecosystem effort for “Blue Ocean” dominance [March 8, 2011]
Be aware of ZTE et al. and white-box (Shanzhai) vendors: Wake up call now for Nokia, soon for Microsoft, Intel, RIM and even Apple! [Feb 21, 2011]
Marvell to capitalize on BRIC market with the Moby tablet [Feb 3, 2011]

‘Mutant viruses’ sicken Acer, Asustek [March 29, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Sales of their own-branded computers have taken a big hit and now the companies are scaling back unit volume projections for the first quarter. In fact, growth will be negative as these two netbook pioneers struggle to regain their footing in the face of the iPad onslaught.

Back in September, Stan Shih called Apple products “mutant viruses,” telling the Asian technorati gathered to hear his speech that his company, Acer, and other Asian PC boxen makers would eventually overcome the threat posed by the iPad, iPhone and insurgent Mac. However, that pronouncement was followed in October by the news that Apple Mac unit volume surpassed Acer in the US.

Acer founder Stan Shih -- 15-Oct-2009

Talk of the day — Acer needs reengineering: founder [March 30, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Acer Inc., the world’s second-largest computer vendor, needs reengineering and repositioning because its previous winning formula is not effective any more, its founder Stan Shih said Tuesday.

Shih, who no longer manages the Taiwan-based multinational computer group but still controls a huge stake in the company, made the suggestion on the sidelines of a cultural seminar.

His advice came after Acer unexpectedly lowered its PC sales estimate for the first quarter of this year last Friday and gave a conservative forecast for its Q2 business prospects.

Acer revised its forecast on Q1 PC sales downward, from an annual increase of 3 percent to an annual decline of 10 percent, citing weaker demand in western Europe and the United States.

The following are excerpts from the local [Taiwanese] media coverage of Shih’s remarks:

Economic Daily News:

Shih acknowledged that smartphones and tablets have had a significant impact on the personal computer industry.

He expressed the view that Apple’s products, such as iPhone and iPad, have brought new visions and new concepts to the technology industry.

The prevalence of smartphones and tablets has made Acer’s original target of expanding its global PC market share obsolete, ” Shih said. “It’s no longer meaningful for Acer to pursue growth in sales volume. Acer should from now on focus upgrading its profit margins.”

Because of changing business environment, Acer underwent a major re-engineering almost once every 10 years.
In 1992, Acer reshaped its increasingly bloated organization under a lean and mean strategy. During the period, Shih came up with a “smiling curve theory” that stressed the importance of branding and research and development.

Its second reengineering effort came in 2000 when the company incurred huge losses because its contract production often hindered its branding efforts. Acer decided that year to spin off its contract manufacturing business while focusing on selling its brand-named PCs.

Over the past decade, Acer has emerged as the world’s second largest PC brand.

Now the company is at a crossroad again. Shih said Acer has only lowered its business forecast and has not incurred any losses.

“But its misforecast indicates that the PC market is undergoing substantial changes, ” Shih said. “The unexpected slow sales in Q1 should serve as a wake-up call. It’s time for Acer to undergo its third wave of re-engineering and re-positioning.”

Noting that Apple not only sells products but also sell services and that HP has announced its decision to install its Web OS system in its PCs, Shih said Acer should come up with new strategies to sustain its growth. (March 30, 2011).

Commercial Times:

Shih said it’s all too common for a business corporation to hit snags or face challenges.

“What counts most is change and re-engineer,” Shih said.

For Acer, he noted, the most urgent now is re-positioning and reshaping in order to achieve a breakthrough.

Shih suggested that Acer maintain transparency in its reengineering efforts and strengthen communications with the business community to bridge gaps in market expectations.

Thanks to Apple’s contributions, new business models have emerged, with close cooperation between smartphone and telecommunciation service operators, Shih said.

In the face of this new market trend, Acer should act quick and change fast, he stressed. (March 30, 2011).


Stan’s Smiling Curve

Acer -- the Stan Shih Smile Curve

Smiling (Smile) Curve theory was invented by Stan Shih Ex CEO of Acer Computer in his 1992 book. The theory gained its popularity due to the fact it outlines the industrial structure of Taiwan, specifically the electronic industry at the time. The smile curve’s left hand side includes the technology, patent, research and development. The middle section includes assembly, manufacturing. On the right hand of the curve is marketing distribution and after service. The x-axis is showing the value chain (stage of production) from the concept to end user. The y-axis is for the value-added.

Based on this vision, Acer has adopted a business strategy to recreate itself from a manufacturer into a company that focuses on global marketing of brand-name PC-related products and services. Meanwhile, Acer also has invested aggressively in R&D to develop innovative technology. The concept later became widely cited to describe the distribution of value-adding potentials in various industries to justify business strategies aimed at higher value-adding activities.

More information on that in terms of recent (2007) circumstances see: The Knowledge Based Economy [April 25, 2007]:

Michael Nystrom: … manufacturing does indeed appear to be the lowest value input. This is why, the capitalists say, the world has evolved to the point that it has. “We think, they sweat,” they say. We of course, are the Americans and they are the sweating Asians.

Clever, isn’t it? But I have a nagging feeling there is something wrong with the theory, though I’m not exactly sure what. Perhaps I’m too rooted in the old economy, unable yet to adjust to the idea of the “knowledge economy.” But I have a feeling there is something more.

What is wrong, if anything, with the model? Or am I just a dinosaur?

Mike Shedlock / Mish: … there is nothing wrong with that chart. One can clearly look at China, India, and SE Asia in general and see without a doubt what is happening. And in spite of enormous increases in [the price of] raw materials, the prices of finished goods have barely risen.

Are cars, boats, pottery, computers, monitors, printers, light fixtures, etc keeping up with the prices of raw materials that make them? Clearly the answer is no. The curve reflects what is happening. In fact, the curve represents additional profit that can be had by shifting manufacturing to low cost providers. That is in essence the very foundation of global wage arbitrage. However, You are missing several key points.

Key Points

  1. Global wage arbitrage is not just about manufacturing
  2. The US has no intrinsic brainpower advantage
  3. The smile curve is flattening

… [worth to read in entirety]

Comments by Stan Shih at Year 2004 (from Me Too Is Not My Style, Update Edition* [August 8, 2010]):

[to the Chapter 3: A Lesson in Intellectual Property]

According to Stan’s Smiling Curve, the research/development innovation in the intellectual properties (IP) portion is the key of future industrial and corporate competitiveness, in the knowledge-based economics. The IP development should be based on the market need; otherwise it will be un-marketable technologies which are the mistakes many entrepreneurs and IP owners often make. In the new economy, creating a new business model is also a kind of an IP development. Again, it has to be profitable to be sustainable; if not, it will be just self-indulgence. Acer has set up Acer Value Lab to master the market need and develop the technologies and products, from the viewpoints of the users. (Please refer to Chapter 7 “The Smiling Curve for a New Century” in “Millennium Transformation—Change Management of New Acer”.)

[to the Chapter 9: Paradigm Shift in the Information Technology Industry]

I proposed the theory of “Stan’s Smiling Curve” to illustrate the new tendency in 1992, at which time the information technology industries had started to dis-integrate into up-, mid-, and down-streams. This was
different from the integrated PC business by those earlier computer companies. After the onset of dis-integration, PC industries have gone through many important changes, including a complete outsourcing model, the merger of Fujitsu and Siemens, and HP merged Compaq. Recently, some investors propose that do not invest the PC companies except Dell and Apple Computer, both whose positioning are exceeding a PC company. During the process of this industrial change, Acer has successfully repositioned. We gradually expand the product lines and
enhance the IT service businesses, and have become an exceeding PC company. We were lucky to catch the earlier opportunity and have transformed into a branding and marketing service company.

[to the Chapter 11: “Go Game Strategy” and “Stan Smiling Curve”]

“Stan’s Smiling Curve” theory has been well-recognized internationally in a variety of industries. In addition to the IT industries, consumer-electronics, and software industry, the similar development has been seen in semiconductor, digital learning, and agricultural industries. All the industries and companies should go toward the both ends on “Stan’s Smiling Curve”. That is, to enhance the research and development, and marketing, so that the corporate value can be generated. I had also designed two value formulas: corporate value formula and brand value formula. (Please refer to Chapter 8 “Creating Brand Value” in “Millennium Transformation – Change Management of New Acer”.)

* original publication:  Stan Shih, Me-Too Is Not My Style: Corporate visions, Strategies and Business Philosophies of the Acer Group, 1996; The Acer Foundation

Millennium Transformation – Change Management for New Acer [August 8, 2010]):

[from the Preface for the New Edition [Me Too Is Not My Style, Update Edition] Learn the Future from the Past:]
Then, I wrote the book “Millennium Transformation”, in which Acer’s highlights from 1996 to 2004 was recorded, following the first two decades of Acer described in this book. During the eight years illustrated in “Millennium Transformation”, Acer had gone through several significant transitions, especially the second re-engineering at the year end of 2000. The changes of background and decision processes of these transitions were more dramatic than that in the first re-engineering in 1992. After the 2nd re-engineering, Acer has successfully broke the growth limit and created another peak of business.

From: http://www.stanshares.com.tw/StanShares/portal/ebook/index.aspx

This is a Chinese based website [www.stanshares.com.tw ]. It is mainly about Mr. Stan Shih, the founder of Acer Group/ Chairman of iD SoftCapital Group, sharing his concept of management and philosophy of life.

It also includes 2 English books by Mr. Stan Shih – “Me Too Is Not My Style” and “Millennium Transformation – Change Management for New Acer“. If you are interested, you are welcomed to read it on-line or download the books for free.

[all his books: http://www.stanshares.com.tw/stanshares/portal/book/index.aspx]


CEO and President Gianfranco Lanci’s resignation:

Acer trade volume erupts after pep talk by founder [March 31, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Trade volume for shares of Acer Inc. erupted yesterday after its founder gave a pep talk, urging that the company should not focus on being No. 1 so much as it should on increasing profitability, in the midst of fierce competition from smart phone and tablet PC makers.

Acer last Friday shocked the PC industry by slashing its sales forecast for Q1 from an increase of 3 percent year-on-year to a decline of 10 percent. The company’s stock fell to its daily limit both on Monday and Tuesday, with foreign institutional investors selling a total of 6,273 units on Tuesday alone. Each stock unit is 1,000 shares of that stock.

Investment trust firms pretty much followed in foreign investors’ footsteps, while securities firms were on the buy side both on Monday and Tuesday.

What was seen as motivational talk by ever so iconic Acer founder Stan Shih Tuesday put an end to the selling spree yesterday, as the shares closed with total trade volume of 148,000 units. The stock however closed down again, albeit by a much smaller margin of 3.8 percent, to NT$60.7, still above the critical NT$60 level. The TAIEX dropped nearly 50 to 8,646.31.

Tuesday, Shih, who still serves as a director on Acer’s board, urged the PC giant to undergo another restructuring effort to ward off competition from smart phone and tablet PC makers.

We’re only slashing our sales forecast, not reporting a loss,” he said. “Yet the mere fact that we had to downgrade a number that we had had wholehearted confidence in suggests the kind of challenge we’re faced with.”

He pointed out that Acer undergoes a major restructure effort about every ten years. “Now is about the time,” Shih said.

He said Acer first has to abandon its “No. 1 in the market” mentality. Given diminishing profit margins that PC manufacturers are faced with, the correlation between No. 1 and profitability is no longer absolute, he said.

Being No. 1 in the market is only a superficial victory, something that makes our faces look good,” he said. “Yet realistically, we could have lost more through an erosion of earnings and profitability.”

He said what Acer needs to do, as Apple has proved time and again, is to “sell products” as well as “sell service.” The business model in which a manufacturer purely makes hardware will no longer work, he said.

Acer must seek to change: founder [March 31, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Acer Inc founder Stan Shih on Tuesday (March 29) said that the the world’s second largest PC maker must “seek to change.” The company has repeatedly made inaccurately forecasts for its performance outlook, seriously disappointing shareholders and damaging the company’s image.

Shih told Taiwan PC maker’s management team that it was common for enterprises to encounter operating difficulties, though he was quick to add that Acer’s current problems may suggest its past formula for success has now become outdated.

Shih’s remarks are viewed by many in the industry as a sign that Acer will launch a third round of restructuring in the near future following similar moves in 1992 and 2000.

Acer’s latest inaccurate forecast was admitted on Friday (Mar. 25) when the company unexpectedly revised downward its revenue forecast for the first quarter. However, just a week earlier, senior Acer officials had assured foreign investors at a forum that their previous export growth prediction for the company for January to March remained unchanged.

The subsequent revision seemed to indicate Acer had failed to grasp the trend in a fast-changing world market.

Last year, the Acer founder also raised the idea of restructuring. However, his remarks this week were more direct and strident. “When a company is faced with problems and difficulties, it must make internal adjustments, change the old mode of thinking, establish new core competencies and look forward,” he said.

Shih said that when the broad circumstances are changing, companies must face up to the challenges and devise countermeasures. “This industry very obviously has entered into the era of mobile phones and telecommunications. Tablet computers and handsets have become the mainstream. I must say we should thank Apple for opening a way for everyone to follow.”

Looking back to the company’s 2000 reforms, a change which Shih said he had originally expected to take two to three years to push through. In fact, he said, it took only one year for the company to achieve its goals.

Shih attributed the latest gap between forecast and performance to a lack of good communication with the outside world. As for whether Acer will continue to pursue the target of becoming the world’s top 1 own brand PC maker, he said, “No. 1 is no longer that important, because even if you occupy the largest market share, it still would not guarantee high profits. So what is important is to look for change.”

Acer’s 1992 corporate reforms proved successful in part because the company acquired the laptop computer division of Texas Instruments and also partly because it recruited an outsider, Gianfranco Lanchi, as its general manager.

However, in the last two to three years many of Acer’s senior executives have retired, with the company bringing in larger numbers of foreign nationals to join its management team. This development has raised worries among employees that Acer has been following a policy of “de-Taiwanizing.”

In the last two trading days, Acer’s shares have dropped by the daily limit, causing the company’s market valuation to shrink by NT$26 billion (US$882 million).

Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci with Dadi Perlmutter head of Intel Architecture Group at Computex 2010

Acer CEO and President Gianfranco Lanci resigns – With immediate effect [Acer press release, March 31, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Acer CEO and President Gianfranco Lanci has resigned from the company, with immediate effect. Acer Chairman J.T. Wang takes acting role in the interim. The company has commenced with the planning of organizational and operational adjustments for the sustainable future of Acer.

The resignation was approved at a meeting of Acer’s Board of Directors today, and the company has communicated internally with its worldwide employees.

On the company’s future development, Lanci held different views from a majority of the board members, and could not reach a consensus following several months’ of dialog. They placed different levels of importance on scale, growth, customer value creation, brand position enhancement, and on resource allocation and methods of implementation.

The change does not affect current operations which are functioning as normal. Acer’s strong management team of multi-nationals has been well-informed and is committed to overseeing and implementing the company strategies, as does the amicable company relations with industry partners persist. Acer will continue to push for globalization, follow its multi-brand and channel business model, develop competitive products and services, and foster closer relations with key vendors and channel partners.

Acer Chairman, J.T. Wang expresses, “The personal computer remains the core of our business. We have built up a strong foundation and will continue to expand within, especially in the commercial PC segment. In addition, we are stepping into the new mobile device market, where we will invest cautiously and aim to become one of the leading players.”

“In this new ICT industry,” continued Wang, “Acer needs a period of time for adjustment. With the spirit of entrepreneurship, we will face new challenges and look to the future with confidence.”

In his role as President and CEO, Lanci has contributed significantly toward Acer’s growth. The company expresses its true appreciation for Lanci’s efforts and wishes him all the best in his future endeavors.

Some reports on that resignation:
Acer CEO Lanci Quits After Clashing With Board; Wang Takes Over [Bloomberg BusinesWeek, March 31, 2011]:

The 56-year-old executive earned a civil engineering degree from the Politecnico of Turin, where he was born. He joined Texas Instruments Inc.’s Italian unit in 1981 and became country manager for the Portable Computers and Printers Division in Italy, the Middle East and Africa by age 37, according to Acer’s website. In 1997, he was named managing director of Acer Italy after Texas Instruments’ portable PC business merged with Acer.

Lanci, who enjoys reading and playing tennis, was promoted to president of the International Operations Business Group in 2003 after heading Acer’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to Acer.

Wang, born two months before Lanci, became chairman in 2008 after Lanci succeeded him as CEO. Wang has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from National Taiwan University and an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Taiwan’s National Cheng-Chi University.

Acer CEO Lanci quits after boardroom bust up [MicroScope.co.uk, March 31, 2011] (emphasis is mine):

Acer has the lowest operating expense in the PC industry base and used strong relationships with the Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) to offer price points that lured consumers in and underpinned its rise to the top.

However, consumer confidence and growing interest in tablet PCs resulted in an abrupt end to booming mainstream notebook sales, and highlighted Acer’s reliance on the segment, despite its efforts to diversify through acquisition.

Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst at Gartner, told MicroScope that Acer had made a good fist of becoming a major player in the PC space but the consumer boom was over and its efforts to build in the professional market were more muted.

Fundamentally, Acer’s business model is predicated on maintaining volumes in consumer mobile PCs which allows them to maintain and increase margins. But consumers are now generally backing off buying traditional PCs,” he said.

Atwal said that Acer’s efforts in the professional mid-market, led by the Gateway brand in Europe, had not compensated for the drop in consumer demand.

“Given that the professional market is moving away from a box mentality – most vendors are trying to provide solutions the whole sale is becoming more complicated in terms of how you get to the business customer,” he said.

Acer Joins AMD In Not Having a CEO [Softpedia, March 31, 2011]:

Hearing that AMD, even after so much time, still doesn’t have a permanent head figure probably has consumers wondering, but it looks like Acer might just go through a similarly tumultuous period now that its own CEO resigned.

Consumers keeping track of happenings on the IT industry will most likely have learned of how Advanced Micro Devices has been bereft of a Chief Executive Officer for months now.

The previous one, Dirk Meyer, left the company about two months ago and actually came as a surprise.
Now, Acer has provided onlookers with a similar surprise, as CEO and President Gianfranco Lanci has submitted his resignation.

Gianfranco Lanci Calls It Quits As Acer CEO [mocoNews.net, March 31, 2011] (emphasis is mine):

Has the impact of the iPad 2 claimed its first executive victim?

In November the company made a big splash showing off its newest mobile computing devices.

This was a departure from its traditional main line of business of making PCs, and the hybrid culture resulted in at least one curious product that, depending on who you asked, was either innovative or just plain odd: the Iconia (pictured), in which what appears to be a laptop on the outside unfolds to reveal a two-screened tablet on the inside.

But since November, things, as they say, have moved on, and new product launches from other Android players as well as Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) with its iPad 2 have clearly shaken up Acer.

J.T. Wang remaining at the helm:

Acer chairman JT Wang -- 31-May-2010 2010 Time 100 selects Acer’s J.T. Wang as one of world’s most influential people [April 30, 2010]

CEO of Acer Group and also the chairman of Taipei Computer Association (TCA) was listed in number two spot under the Leaders category of the recently Time Magazine’s annual top 100 world’s most influential people. Top world’s leader and individuals including Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, US Pres. Barack Obama, former US Pres. Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin, Apple’s Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and etc were listed.

J.T. Wang By Michael Schuman [Time Magazine Apr. 29, 2010] (emphasis is mine)

One of the great trends of the next decade will be the rise of Asian companies. Long known for efficiency and manufacturing prowess, they’re now becoming more adept at the “soft” elements of business — marketing, design, branding and strategy — and that’s making them fiercer competitors.

J.T. Wang, 55, CEO of the Taiwanese PC maker Acer Group, is a harbinger of the future. When Wang became top executive in 2005, it ranked fifth in the global PC market. Acer has since stormed up the charts to No. 2, with more than 14% of the market, ahead of Dell and behind only HP.

Wang, who has worked at Acer for 29 years, is winning out with his knack for tapping into consumer trends — jumping headfirst, for example, into the craze for netbooks. “We don’t judge,” Wang once said. “We do what the customer really wants.”

Acer’s old directional statements back in November, 2010:

Acer Aims for 15% Revenue Growth in 2011 [Nov 2, 2010] (emphasis is mine)

Optimistic about PC market prospects, the Taiwan-based Acer Inc., now the world`s second largest PC vendor now, aims to achieve a 15% sales revenue growth in 2011, with notebook PC shipment to exceed 50 million units, according to the firm`s chairman J.T. Wang. This has showed Wang`s ambition to unseat HP in the market.

Wang also shows his optimism about PC market outlooks in 2011, indicating that prices of notebook PCs in the global market will remain steady throughout the year. The market situation will also help to stabilize the ASP (average selling price) of its products in the year.

Not worried about Apple`s iPad tablets gradually replacing netbook PCs in sales, Wang also commented on the rise of Apple`s iPad tablets, saying that the phenomenon has brought about positive momentum in the global PC market, and that scale of the segment will continue growing in 2011. Worth mentioning is that Acer will accelerate its foray into the segment, planning to release its newest tablet PC running Microsoft`s operating system this month. The firm`s Android-based tablet is slated for debut next year.

To adapt his firm to an ever-changing market, Wang stated that each of Acer`s devices will be installed with the software “Acer Clear.fi” starting in the first quarter of next year, which will satisfy its customers with better hardware integration so as to help enhance value of its products.

Acer`s CEO Gianfranco Lanci added that the firm will step up exploring emerging markets as Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, etc. [i.e. BRIC] Hopefully, the firm will take over HP`s leading position in the global market for notebook PCs next year.

Acer to Set Up 2nd Chinese Headquarters in Chongqing [Nov 4, 2010] (emphasis is mine)

Acer will also rally its contract manufacturers, including Compal and Wistron, and supply-chain member firms to establish factories in the city, thereby forming a complete manufacturing clustering. The company is scheduled to sign a contract with Chongqing City government for the project in December.

The Chongqing headquarters will be essential for Acer to expand its presence in the Chinese market, in order to become the world`s leading PC brand. Gianfranco Lanci, chief executive officer of Acer, reported that the company has targeted raising the share of the Chinese market in its total revenue to 20% by 2013, up from 7% now.

Acer Steps Up Market Push in Mainland China [March 23, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Acer Inc. is stepping up market push in mainland China by building partnership with the mainland`s retailers.

Almost one month after signing a pact to provide electronics retail chain Suning Corp. with US$500 million worth of computers in two years, Acer recently licensed online electronics retail chain 360buy.com to offer after-sales service in the mainland for it.

It`s the first ever after-sales service licensing that Acer has signed with a mainland Chinese retailer, showing the company`s determination to boost sales in the mainland. 360buy.com raked in revenue of RMB10 billion (US$1.5 billion at US$1:RMB6.5) in 2010, up 100% from 2009.

Last year, Acer signed a contract to provide the online retailer with RMB100 million (US$15 million) worth of notebook computers.

When a trade mission composed of representatives from heavyweight enterprises in Nanjing visited Taiwan in February, Acer signed an agreement to supply US$500 million worth of computing products to the Nanjing-based Suning.

Acer Chairman J.T. Wang pointed out that his company`s sales through Suning spiked seven folds in the second half last year from the same period of a year earlier. The retailer is operating 1,400 shops in the mainland. Wang estimated Acer`s sales through the chain to further rise three folds this year.

Acer has projected its sales in the mainland at US$2.5 billion for the year, surging 70% from last year. In the meantime, the company`s market share in the mainland is estimated to rise to 13-15%, up from current 10%.

Acer`s sales in the West have slumped because of maturity of the markets there, prompting the company to depend on mainland China for huge growth in the years to come.

Thus the originally planned BRIC focus, especially the mainland China part has been unable to sustain Acer’s old strategy of growth!

Regarding what one of the options for restructuring could be:

Should Acer consider a Nokia type deal with Microsoft – but for laptops? [March 30, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

If the agreement between Nokia and Microsoft works out in the end it is a big win for both companies, and the consumer. Microsoft gets a dedicated partner willing to do whatever it can to promote Windows Phone 7 and Nokia gets the inside track to the Windows Phone 7 OS.

Now, I have said here before that I believe that Microsoft should be taking a strong role in the hardware end of the business that its Windows platform runs on. We have that in a limited scope with the Microsoft Signature brand laptops and desktops available in the Microsoft Stores.

In this aspect the consumer is a big winner because they know that they are getting a computer that has been optimized to run the Windows operating system at its best. No more of the crap ladened computer with sub-optimal components in pretty boring shells.

Today Stan Shih, Founder of Acer, said at an event in Taipei that the company needed to rethink its philosophy when it comes to being the world’s biggest PC vendor and focus on better and more distinguishable products.

If this indeed the case maybe Stan and Steve should sit down together and see if they can help each other out in the same fashion that Nokia is working with Microsoft.

There is no doubt that Acer build some really good hardware but by forging an alliance with Microsoft they could possibly gain some freedom to come up with some innovative and cool shells for their good hardware.

From Microsoft’s side I am sure that a special deal could be offered up in regards to its software whether it be consumer or enterprise.

This doesn’t even bring up the fact that Acer is getting into the mobile market as a handset maker, although this might be off the table given the Nokia deal.

This is pure speculation and will likely never happen but an interesting idea all the same.

Deeper background:

This is what happens when the essential creator of the PC (Wintel) ecosystem, Microsoft Corporation is repeatedly failing to deliver the next great client offering despite its numerous claims in the row from as far back as January 2010.

See what happened in that regard:
HP’s Windows 7 Slate Device Revealed by Steve Ballmer [Techmeme, Jan 6 – Jan 10, 2010]
Windows slates in the coming months? Not much seen yet [this trend-tracking blog, July 13 – Oct 9, 2010]

This is what happens when:
– things are continuing with Microsoft stance of just talking about Windows slates but no products on the horizon plus Windows Phone 7 will come out only in November
– while at the same time Apple and Google/Android are creating a very fast growing, new consumer market for computer powered client devices, and as a consequence:

1. Goldman downgrades Microsoft, makes case for major overhaul [Oct 3, 2010] along with which a radical proposal was put forward:

A break-up of the consumer businesses could potentially unlock hidden value, or more discipline on cost could turn the businesses into contributors to profitability and shareholder value. For example, the Xbox products could be an appealing stand-alone entity, given the historical success of the Xbox and the products’ brand strength, and the business could show unlocked value with forced cost discipline compared to as a piece of Microsoft. To date the company’s comments suggest that management still sees significant value in combining the consumer and enterprise efforts, but we view a foot in both camps as preventing a successful focus on one strategy, a la Oracle in the enterprise or Apple for consumers.

Gartner 630 with Ballmer at Gartner Symposium ITxpo Orlando 2010

2. And still in A Mastermind Interview With Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft [Oct 21, 2010, see the video record which is clickable from there] on the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Orlando 2010 Ballmer said (when confronted by that opinion) that Windows is Microsoft’s biggest consumer product and continued:

When people say nutty things like Goldman you ask what part of Windows would you like to spin out? There is no rationale. The reuse of technology across the consumer and enterprise is the way forward.

3. Moreover he argued for his position that Linux and Android is reused for both markets with the same code base—just like Windows.  Then he put forward his best argument against the idea that Microsoft should spin out a consumer business:

… is next to crazy. It’s next to the craziest discussion I’ve ever had. Nobody wants a different UI per device. … People want the same thing at work they wanted at their home. …

… [the fact that there were] 200 million plus Windows consumer PCs in the last year alone says there is a lot of people are thinking in that direction, across the world. … I know we have competitive challenge, but part of the challenge is people walk in [to their IT department] with their iPad saying I want it at work. They do want the same things at work that they have at home, whether that comes from us or from our competition. … People will ask for things at work that they love, that they buy with their own money .

4. While answering the 4th part of Gartner 630 (6 short anwers to simple questions in 30 seconds max) about the coolest product introduced or to be introduced in 2010 and indicating the Xbox Kinect coming in November he is getting teased by a quick question whether that will be the consumer version or the enterprise version to which he responds with (turning like an artist away from the interviewers and towards the audience):

Let me help these guys! What they don’t understand: cool starts at home.

Gartner 630 #2 with Ballmer at Gartner Symposium ITxpo Orlando 2010

This is what happens when despite of this clear understanding by Microsoft and its CEO that recognition was starting to be delevired ways too late as reported in detail by my other trend tracking posts:

ASUS Eee Slate based Windows marketing from Microsoft [March 21, 2011]

CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7, 2011]

while still unanswered questions remain:

How Microsoft is going to solve the problem of assuring HTML5 et al platform stability for web developers? See more information.

Microsoft’s upcoming CES 2011 announcement of a Windows slate overlay software for touch-first HTML5 applications could have true competitive impact on the overall tablet (iPad etc.) market, see more information. <<< this had not been delivered there (see CES 2011 presence with Microsoft … )

Microsoft has a new overall platform strategy based on evolving HTML 5, and an enhanced one for its own Windows client devices, see more information.<<< this had not been delivered yet (see CES 2011 presence with Microsoft … )

and generally it is still true that:

Microsoft and HTML 5: new platform?leading compliance?

although the new platform? question goes back to Microsoft going multiplatform? [Sept 17, 2010].