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Once you have regular security problems on your Windows 10 PC like me, and you are essentially already close to 100% using web applications only like me, than it is time to move over to the Chrome OS platform. And this could be done now with a rock bottom cost. This is what I’ve found by examining the latest Chrome OS platform information as well as the entry level hardware represented by devices built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC (a low-end quadcore 64-bit ARM SoC with lowest cost IP inside, so the SoC is the lowest cost too).
There is a “hidden” advantage as well. The “Android apps on Chrome OS” is in Beta now, but when the current Android Framework in Chrome OS will move from support of Android Marshmallow [6.0] to Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59 all Google Play store apps will be available properly on Chrome devices as well. In a companion post I’ve examined the current state-of-the-art of Android security as well, and that is looking much better than that of current Windows 10. So as far as all this information is concerned such a platform change looks like the final solution for my current security issues on Win10.
There is a further impetus from yesterday’s news on Microsoft Edge comes last in browser security battle By 18 hours ago from techradar:
Chrome remains the undisputed champion at Pwn2Own
So let’s examine first the state-of-the-art of Chrome OS security:
1:57-2:00: “What we know is that every Chrome device on the market today has a TPM.”
Streamed live on Feb 1, 2017, G Suite: Chrome OS Security Guide, an in-depth discussion by David Karam, Chrome OS Product Manager. An overview of Chrome OS security across the entire stack.
Next let’s see the latest information about the strategic value proposition of the Chrome OS:
March 9, 2017, Google Cloud: Simple, flexible, and secure Chrome OS solutions built for the future (Google Cloud Next ’17) by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google. As businesses evolve, they need technology solutions that are simple, flexible and cost-effective to help them succeed today and build for tomorrow. Chrome provides solutions fit for the workplace of the future – providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. Learn how your business can leverage ChromeOS in multiple ways.
March 15, 2017, G Suite: Optimizing your Retail Business with Google Chrome (17- min) by Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google)
– Retail is being disrupted by digital. With a need to improve the in-store experience, retailers want technology to optimize employee effectiveness and customer experience.
Chrome devices empower retail store employees and delight customers while improving IT efficiency.
March 8, 2017, The Keyword from Google: How businesses are smartly transforming with Google Cloud, Android, and Chrome by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google.
While businesses with a mobile strategy are commonplace today, that doesn’t mean the mobile transformation is over. Today, we’re highlighting how companies are using Google Cloud, Chrome, and Android to reimagine the way they engage customers in public spaces and also equip employees to work more productively in the office and in the field.
Smart signs cut costs and provide customer insights
We recently collaborated with Coca-Cola on Chrome-based digital signs for supermarkets that pull in localized ads from DoubleClick and are equipped with beacon technology for pushing personalized messages to mobile users.
The company has worked closely with Google Cloud to build a new signage solution that includes affordable digital sign and menu boards for Coca-Cola sellers.
“Our mission at Coca-Cola is to elevate the consumer experience to a place of pure excellence and the ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time is key to driving that world class experience in the connected retail world,” said Greg Chambers, Global Group Director of Digital Innovation at Coca-Cola.
The displays are powered by inexpensive Chromebit devices connected to a content management system (CMS) on Google Cloud Platform. The Chromebits also provide simple, centralized management of the signs. Combined with sensors, they can offer the company detailed, actionable information through Google Analytics as well as highly contextual advertising to other screens like nearby customer smartphones.
Android plus cloud intelligence enables field workers
UK pest control company Rentokil Initial is piloting a fleet of Android devices that utilize Google Cloud machine learning, including our Vision API image classification technology, to help field workers better identify pests and get treatment suggestions. Employees use an Android app to capture images that are identified using a machine learning model that’s been trained on Rentokil’s pest imagery database. The app then provides solutions to eradicate the pests. The PestID app, jointly developed by Accenture Mobility, is among the first wave of solutions Google is helping build as part of an alliance announced last year with Accenture.
Connecting manufacturing to the back office
42Q, a product division of manufacturing services provider Sanmina, developed a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) solution that runs on Google Cloud Platform.
It enables Sanmina employees and 42Q’s customers to bring real-time transparency to their factory operations using Android and Chrome devices. Using 42Q with Chrome, “deskless” back office workers can access work instructions, data requirements, and quality plans without deploying heavy client applications and expensive equipment.
Factory operators can also use the 42Q Android app for a “tailored” mobile interface, ensuring they only see critical information on demand.
When combined with G Suite, everyone from front office planners to back office operators can collaborate on current production line states, critical orders and real time reporting on factory operations.
Tomorrow’s businesses: empowered with advanced devices, collaboration and context
With a Google Cloud devices and mobility strategy, businesses are able to gather contextual data through devices and apply machine learning analytics to quickly take smart, well-informed actions. And the more employees who use managed Chromebooks and Android devices to collaborate and securely access documents in G Suite, the more efficient your whole team becomes.
Several new devices support this secure data-driven strategy. The Asus Chromebook Flip and recently-announced Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus function as both a Chromebook and an Android tablet with Google Play support. Last month, AOPEN launched the Chromebox mini and Chromebase mini, which also support Android apps and can use our new Kiosk APIs for improved app management and a robust customer experience.
To learn more about the Google Cloud devices and mobility solutions that enable a connected workspace, visit our booth at Next 2017 between March 8 and 10. There we’ll be demonstrating how a business becomes smarter when you pair Chrome and Android devices, cloud services and sensors with employees, customers and spaces. Or sign up here for additional information as we continue to evolve our range of data-driven tools to make every workspace connected no matter where it is.
Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 1: Developing Next Gen Solutions AOPEN’s Jim Hoey along with Google’s Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google) go over Chrome OS, developing on Chrome, and an example of a fully integrated Chrome solution.
Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 2: Chrome Device Management AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield discuss the benefits of Chrome Device Management (CDM) and how businesses can utilize it for rapid deployments, reducing and controlling costs, and much more.
Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 3: AOPEN Chrome Mini Devices AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield introduces two new AOPEN Chrome Devices: Chromebox Mini and Chromebase Mini
Re: “TPM chip” mentioned in the early part of the 1st video above:
from Trusted Platform Module article in Wikipedia
Trusted Platform Module offers facilities for the secure generation of cryptographic keys, and limitation of their use, in addition to a random number generator. It also includes capabilities such as remote attestation and sealed storage, as follows:
- Remote attestation – creates a nearly unforgeable hash key summary of the hardware and software configuration. The program hashing the configuration data determines the extent of the summary of the software. This allows a third party to verify that the software has not been changed.
- Binding – encrypts data using TPM bind key, a unique RSA key descended from a storage key.
- Sealing – encrypts data in a similar manner to binding, but in addition specifies a state in which TPM must be in order for the data to be decrypted (unsealed).
Software can use a Trusted Platform Module to authenticate hardware devices. Since each TPM chip has a unique and secret RSA key burned in as it is produced, it is capable of performing platform authentication.
Generally, pushing the security down to the hardware level in conjunction with software provides more protection than a software-only solution. However even where a TPM is used, a key would still be vulnerable while a software application that has obtained it from TPM is using it to perform encryption/decryption operations, as has been illustrated in the case of a cold boot attack. This problem is eliminated if key(s) used in TPM are not accessible on a bus or to external programs and all encryption/decryption is done in TPM.
Starting in 2006, many new laptop computers have been sold with a built-in Trusted Platform Module chip. In the future, this concept could be co-located on an existing motherboard chip in computers, or any other device where the TPM facilities could be employed, such as a cell phone. On a PC, either the LPC bus or the SPI bus is used to connect to the TPM.
Many manufacturers make TPMs. The Trusted Computing Group has certified TPMs manufactured by Infineon Technologies, Nuvoton, and STMicroelectronics. The Trusted Computing Group has assigned TPM vendor IDs to Advanced Micro Devices, Atmel, Broadcom, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, National Semiconductor, Nationz Technologies, Nuvoton, Qualcomm, Rockchip, Standard Microsystems Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Samsung, Sinosun, Texas Instruments, and Winbond.
- Discrete TPMs are chips that implement TPM functionality and nothing else, and are in their own semiconductor package. These implement their functions in hardware to resist software bugs and implement tamper resistance. They are therefore the most secure type of TPM.
- Integrated TPMs are part of another chip that implements other functionalities. While they use hardware that resists software bugs, they are not required to implement tamper resistance. Intel has integrated TPMs in some of its chipsets.
How does the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) compare to Trusted Platform Mobile (TPM)?
There are two main components of platform security:
- Trusted Execution Environment
- Trusted Platform Module
They work in tandem; one is not designed as a replacement of the other. As an analogy, TEE is the bulletproof safe, while TPM is the 128-digit combination lock for the safe. Both are needed to ensure the safe is protected.
TEE encompasses the following elements:
- A protected or secure execution of critical applications in a virtualized environment
- Safe and secure boot ensures all system software components are in a known and “trusted” state before launching.
TPM provides the following services:
- Remote attestation: External services can verify that the system has not been altered or tampered with by using a hash of both system state. The verification is performed on both hardware and software. It is necessary to check that the system is not compromised before executing sensitive processes.
- Binding: Encryption of data using a unique RSA key that is burned into the chip when the chip is manufactured.
- Sealing: A feature that ensures that data isn’t accessed or decrypted when the system is in normal operation. It ensures that applications cannot access protected data when the system is in a sealed mode. But it can also allow legitimate applications to access protected data.
Arguments were made that TPM is not necessary if the TEE is robust. Some vendors have chosen not to use external TPM and store the keys and protected data in a TEE-only addressable area. TEE can help with Binding and Sealing. ISO standards suggest using a full-fledged TPM. External TPM could be very useful in coordinating between several masters and other complex systems. On the other hand, solutions that only rely on TPM are very vulnerable for execution and boot attacks. It is easy to override the application run states and circumvent TPM.
Do Intel or AMD offer Trusted Execution Environments?
Yes, other processor architectures support TEE. Popular CPU Architectures and their TEE implementations:
- ARM TrustZone
- Intel TXT
- AMD Secure Execution Environment
All three of these TEE implementations provide a virtualized Execution Environment for the secure OS and applications. To switch between the secure world and the normal world, Intel provides SMX Instructions, while ARM uses SMC. Programmatically, they all achieve very similar results.
Popular TPM Implementations:
- ARM SecureCore
- TPMs from Broadcom and other vendors who meet ISO standards
ARM: SecurCore Processors
Tamper resistant – optimized for security applications
The ARM® SecurCore™ processor family provides powerful 32-bit secure solutions based upon industry leading ARM architecture. By enhancing highly successful ARM processors with security features, SecurCore provides smart card and secure IC developers easy access to the benefits of ARM 32-bit technology such as small die size, energy efficiency, low cost, excellent code density and outstanding performance. SecurCore processors, used in a wide range of security applications, outperform legacy 8-bit or 16-bit secure processors.
High performance smartcard and embedded security applications
Highest volume smartcard and embedded security applications.
ARM SecurCore processors are designed primarily for tamper-resistant smart cards and incorporate several security features that make SecurCore an ideal choice for such applications. Further details on the SecurCore security features are available under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) from ARM.
ARM SecurCore are built upon the ARM Cortex-M series. They benefit from wide tools support, including full support from RealView® Microcontroller Development Kit (the Keil uVision environment), the most popular smart card development tool chain in the industry.
SecurCore is shaping the future of smart cards and it is successfully adopted in many applications:
SecurCore is the industry standard architecture of choice for smart cards.
We have been rolling out the Google Play Store on select Chromebooks on the Stable channel and the Play store will now be available on more Chromebooks in the coming months.
You can find the full list of Chromebooks here but please note also that all the Chromebooks we launch in 2017 will support Android apps.
This post aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about Android apps on Chrome OS and provide more clarity on which what Chromebooks run Android Apps:
Android apps are now available on Stable Channel in the following devices
- ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
- Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T / CB5-132T
- Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
- Samsung Chromebook Plus
- ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
- Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5-312T)
- ThinkPad 11e Chromebook 3rd Gen (Yoga/Clamshell)
- Dell Chromebook 13 7310
- ASUS Chromebook C202SA/C300SA/C301SA
- HP Chromebook 13 G1
- Samsung Chromebook 3
- HP Chromebook 11 G5 / HP Chromebook 11-vxxx
FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY ANDROID APPS AND HOW WE BUILT
What does it mean that “Android apps are coming to Chromebooks”?
“Android apps are coming to Chromebooks” means that we are bringing the Google Play Store and all Android apps to compatible Chromebooks.
Why are we building it?
Chrome OS has brought the web as a first class citizen to our users. With that, we made great productivity and knowledge devices. We want to give the Google Play Store Google’s app ecosystem, the same treatment and treat both the web and Android apps as first class citizens to our users and provide them with a platform for productivity, consumption, gaming and more.
How did we build this?
Android will run in a container side-by-side with Chrome OS. The apps will then be composited into Chrome OS inside of windows. Input into those windows (touch, mouse, keyboard) will be sent to the Android container and processed by the app. All concepts expected by Android apps (intents, notifications, toasts, you name it) will be fully supported by Chrome OS.
Why is Play Store not available for download on my Chromebook?
The Play Store is available for certain Chromebooks. To see the list of Chromebooks that will eventually be able to run the Play Store, check here.
I did not opt into to download Play Store support – how do I enable it?
You can enable Android apps by going into Settings and checking – Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook. You can check steps in our Help Center.
I’m using Chromebook in my workplace or school, and heard that Play Store should be available for download – how come it’s not showing up?
Please ask your IT administrator so that you can enjoy using Play Store applications as soon as possible.
APPS & GOOGLE PLAY RELATED QUESTIONS
While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated. The answer is yes and pretty soon. This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59. Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.
As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow [6.0]. So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome. The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow. All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.
The other big challenge with Marshmallow is that you can only run one app at a time, somewhat related to the multi-window aspect. In other words, if you are running an Android app on your Chromebook and switch focus to another app, the first app quits running on the backend. So things like sync don’t work. That would change in a Nougat framework.
When I asked Google about this, they confirmed that Nougat is coming to Chrome OS in the 58 or 59 train. That’s good because 58 is in the Beta Channel and 59 is in the Developer channel. So, at best, we are likely 6 weeks away and at worst, 12 weeks.
Perhaps the better news in all of this, the Chrome team also confirmed that they want to accelerate support in the future of Android so when Android O [8.0] is released later this year, we could see widespread support of it much faster than we have Nougat.
New York, 17 January 2017 – Two new powerful and innovative AOPEN Chrome devices, from one of the leading commercial* Chrome device manufacturers, are set to drive customer experience in 2017.
The AOPEN Chromebase Mini and Chromebox Mini devices are part of a new enterprise range aimed at bringing enterprise reliability and features at an affordable price.
The Chromebase Mini is an enterprise-ready interactive 10.1-inch all-in-one touchscreen solution. It’s designed to be managed with ease, reliability, and security – making it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments including digital signage, POS, self-service kiosks, digital corporate communication, and AV room control.
The second device, the Chromebox Mini, is the smallest Chromebox on the market today and also runs on the Chrome OS platform. It is solid state and can be used as an SME or enterprise desktop replacement hosting IOT applications, digital signage and kiosks and affording greater control of in-store engagement.
Stephen Borg, Global Chief Digital Officer AOPEN Group, says the devices represent a major leap forward in design – allowing a ubiquitous approach to multiple use cases, rapid application development, and ease of use for the signage, kiosk, POS, and other enterprise markets.
“AOPEN designed its new Chrome OS device line to empower the customer by servicing a wide range of verticals and needs,” says Borg. “They are fully enterprise-ready in terms of product longevity and reliability, ease of large deployment, remote access, and service.”
The Chromebase Mini, an all-in-one 10.1-inch solution, does not require a kiosk protective case, is waterproof and tamper proof unlike like a consumer touch device.
The enterprise ready all-in-one touch device supports audio-video conference platforms, such as Google Hangouts. It offers mounting options for A/V or desktop use (including a built-in Vesa Mount stand), high-quality camera and audio, and a dual microphone. The chromebase mini is also accompanied by optional accessories such as recess wall mounts, POE adapters, and adapters to mount various payment solutions.
By leveraging AOPEN software layer meldCX, the Chromebase Mini is compatible with end-user legacy POS systems – featuring local app instances for offline use and device integration, while maintaining a competitive price point.
“The Chromebase Mini achieves both customer and operational benefits. Its aesthetic and interactive design makes it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments and provides a compelling way for customers to transact. Retailers or Integrators can also use Chrome Device Management to control and manage their device fleets. It means that content updates and management of the devices can be done remotely via the cloud, and its ease of rollout gives retailers an amazing experience,” says Borg.
“The Chromebase Mini is also ideal for enterprise business solutions. It positions Chrome squarely in the cloud, offering secure flexibility of business cloud solutions and enabling both Google Hangouts and other video conferencing solutions.”
The Chromebox Mini is a solid-state, ultra-small form factor device. It is the smallest enterprise-ready Chromebox currently available.
It supports Chrome Device Management, and can be used as an enterprise desktop replacement. Its features include fanless design, Bluetooth, wide-reaching dual-band antenna, and power button extension ports for ease of mounting behind device or having other AV equipment control on/off state .
Both the Chromebase and Chromebox Mini are enterprise-grade solutions, at a price point suitable for home use for those wanting a more reliable silent solution. Both feature fanless/non-venting hole designs, can operate in a wide range of temperatures, and meet Google’s security requirements.
“Rather than re-purposing consumer-grade products and support for commercial environments, AOPEN has introduced a design for the Chrome Mini Range that is robust and reliable enough for enterprise deployments across key verticals – including retail, hospitality, and QSR,” says Borg.
Chromebase Mini – key features:
- Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
- Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
- CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
- DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
- Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
- FHD Webcam (2M)
- Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
- WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
Chromebox Mini Fievel – key features:
- Fanless/non venting hole design
- CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
- DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
- Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
- WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
*AOPEN commercial grade products are engineered for 24/7, 365 use in a commercial environment. Products are all solid state. In addition, the Chromebase Mini has tamper proof and water resistant features.
Founded in 1996, AOPEN is today a major global electronics manufacturer and a thought leader in digital signage.
AOPEN is an official partner for Google Chrome devices, including the following tiers:
- Google Cloud Sales Premier Partner (Chrome)
- Google for Education Sales Premier Partner
- Google Cloud Services Partner (Chrome)
- Google for Work Education Services Partner
Specialising in multi-platform, ultra-small form factor computing for both home and business, AOPEN works with a wide range of partners – from hardware to software and services. Through these partnerships, AOPEN creates advanced digital display solutions for many of the world’s top brands.
Part of the Wistron group, AOPEN has a presence in over 100 countries. AOPEN customers and partners range from governments and financial institutions to retailers, retail design firms, strategic consultants, and branding agencies.
● Fanless/non venting hole design
● CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
● Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.8 x 0.94 in
For additional details, download the Chromebox Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET
● Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
● Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
● CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● FHD Webcam (2MP)
● Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
For additional details, download the Chromebase Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET
2016–05-09, Rockchip: RK3288-C based CTL J4+ Chromebook, priced at under $200!
The humble Chromebook has gone through many revisions since its inception nearly five years ago. Originally designed as a low-cost notebook running the Google Chrome OS and connected to the cloud for everyday work, there are now ultra-premium models such as the Pixel, a wider range of touchscreen-enabled designs primarily from Asus, as well a bevy of entry-level offerings that target value above all else.
This budget end of the market is dominated by Chromebooks powered by the ARM architecture. Chief amongst the proponents of this Internet-connected device is Chinese chipmaker Rockchip, whose RK3288 system-on-chip processor powers a number of Chromebooks for the consumer and education markets.
Found in Chromebooks from Asus, Haier and HiSense, as well as the novel Chromebit, the RK3288(C) SoC is also present in education-focussed notebooks made popular by CTL. Priced at under $200 for the best-in-breed J4+, we have one in for evaluation today.
Under the hood: RK3288C
But before we get to the Chromebook it is instructive to take a peek at what makes the RK3288 SoC an ideal fit for these devices. The RK3288 uses two of ARM’s best-known technologies – Cortex A-class processor and Mali graphics – and then wraps them inside a fully-baked SoC with display, memory, camera and connectivity support.
The Cortex-A17, which is ostensibly a speed-bumped version of the Cortex-A12, is arranged in a quad-core configuration and scales up to 1.8GHz. Though now superseded by the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A72, the 32-bit-only processor remains a potent choice for an entry-level Chromebook. Graphics oomph is provided by the Mali-T760 GPU also in a quad-core configuration, and its performance in a range of last year’s premium handsets bodes well for the kind of work that Chromebook users will engage in on a daily basis.
The rest of the SoC treads familiar ground. There’s a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller supporting DDR3/L memory, 4K-capable HDMI-out, an H.264 video encoder/decoder, and 13MP ISP for snapping duties.
The point to appreciate is that a budget SoC provides enough general chutzpah for a fluid experience on a Chromebook. We’ve seen this proved empirically with the evaluation of the similar, yet more expensive, Chromebook Flip from Asus.
The CTL J4+
Designed primarily for the classroom but available to purchase from a selected number of retailers for regular customers, the CTL J4+ is solid enough to withstand the usual knocks that might be expected in an education environment. The carbon-like pattern is, as you would expect, made of plastic, but it’s of a high quality throughout. Grabbing the sides of the Chromebook in both hands results in very little flex. Indeed, we’ve seen full-on notebooks costing multiple times more having inferior build quality.
That said, the lid, although a dark grey, is a magnet for fingerprints. The slightest bit of grease or moisture shows up, so you’ll be rubbing it away constantly to ensure it’s kept nice and clean. Portability is a key concern for the education market, too; the J4+’s 1,124g weight is very competitive against other Chromebooks of a similar bearing, while the total travel weight, including small power charger, is less than 1,500g. My 11-year-old niece felt it was portable enough to be carried in a rucksack during the daily 15-minute walk to school.
There are inevitable compromises when retailing a sub-$200 Chromebook. One area where the J4+ falls slightly short is shown by a lack of USB 3.0. An older, slower port lines either side, with HDMI-out and a micro-SD card-reader also available. Though it would be nicer to have USB 3.0, the question we ask ourselves is whether it makes much of a real-world difference on a machine that’s purposely designed to be used almost exclusively with the Internet?
Other than the previously mentioned quad-core Rockchip SoC operating at up to 1.8GHz, this Chromebook is supported by 16GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of DDR3L memory, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an integrated, 3,400mAh battery promising up to nine hours of regular usage from a single charge. A couple of 1.5W speakers offer rudimentary sound capabilities.
The smooth hinge goes back about 120° revealing an 11.6in display with large bezels on all sides. Premium Chromebooks look more like expensive laptops, but at the cheaper end of the market the design has barely changed over the past decade. But hey, it works well enough for its intended market.
The + suffix is the differentiator between this and an otherwise similar Chromebook from the CTL stable. The regular machine also has an 11.6in screen with a native 1,366×768 resolution but it uses a TN display instead. The + model improves this to an IPS screen with wider viewing angles and, in our opinion, considerably better colour reproduction.
It’s bright, sharp enough for the modest resolution and a good fit for a budget Chromebook. In a world where children often have higher-resolution tablets as the norm rather than exception, my niece noted that the fidelity wasn’t as impressive as her retina-equipped iPad. Yet good enough for basic spreadsheets and some simple word processing? Sure.
The keys offer shallow travel that take a little getting used to if coming from a full-size, discrete keyboard. Optimised for Chrome it misses out the regular Caps Lock key which gives way to Search while the usual function keys are routed instead to common Chrome tasks.
In a similar vein to the Chromebook Flip, the trackpad is solid. It also supports Chrome gestures and has a satisfying click each time it’s depressed. We’d describe the inputs as generic for an entry-level Chromebook, but do understand that isn’t meant in a pejorative sense; the duo work well.
The power-sipping nature of the SoC is a boon for those searching for quietness. A lack of vents hints to silent computing, and it is, with the Rockchip SoC cooled passively. Students coming from a tablet world will appreciate that, in terms of noise, it’s no different to what they’re accustomed to.
General performance is dictated by the SoC and supporting memory contained within the Chromebook. In concert with the majority of others plying this end of the market, one where Rockchip has a leadership position, applications open quickly and the user experience is smooth and predictable. This isn’t a machine for doing anything taxing, mind – the Chrome OS is built for Internet-centric usage – yet playing videos, opening up multiple tabs in simple programs, and calling on Skype does little to push the capabilities of the RK3288C SoC.
For those that haven’t used a Chromebook of late, think of the performance as analogous to a mid-range smartphone of this year. It’s never electric, as on the latest PCs or high-end phones, but neither is it slow at any task you would commonly undertake.
More pertinently, it’s quick enough for the education market for which this model is primed. Rather than conduct looping battery tests, we used the J4+ over the course of a weekend, doing the usual browsing and video playback, and noted that it kept going for approximately 10 hours before running out of juice.
A simple machine with a simple premise of appealing to a broad educational market, the CTL J4+ is a solid Chromebook arriving with an attractive bulk price of under $200. It strikes all the right notes for an entry-level Chromebook powered by the ever-popular Rockchip RK3288C SoC. Pricing, though, remains absolutely key, as more feature-filled models are available for a little more, while the absolute budget end, based on the same chassis, starts at just $150. Tablets, too, offer a similar level of performance, albeit without physical keyboard, for less money.
The evolution of mobile SoCs has meant that adequate performance can be gained by spending a very reasonable amount of money. A case in point is the Rockchip RK3288C, widely seen in these devices, and with enough grunt and longevity to run everyday tasks for well, all day. CTL naturally takes this on with the J4+ education-focussed Chromebook equipped with a solid IPS display and surprisingly decent build quality.
Available to purchase to regular consumers for $189 at present, it represents good value in a congested marketplace. If your heart is set on a Chromebook and require a solid machine that covers all the basics, the CTL J4+ is a good starting point.
- Quad-core Cortex-A17 up to 1.8GHz
- Mali-T764 GPU
- Dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3
- 4K UHD H265/H264
- H264 encoder
- TS in/CSA 2.0
- USB 2.0
Process • 28nm CPU • Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz GPU • Mali-T764 GPU, Supports AFBC (ARM Frame Buffer Compression) • support OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.1, OpenCL, DirectX9.3 • High performance dedicated 2D processor Multi-Media • 4K 10bits VP9/H265/H264 video decoders, up to 60fps • 1080P other video decoders (VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP8) • 1080P video encoder for H.264 and VP8 • Video post processor: de-interlace, de-noise, enhancement for edge/detail/color Display • Support RGB/Dual LVDS/Dual MIPI-DSI/eDP interface, up to 3840*2160 resolution • HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz with HDCP 1.4/2.2 Security • ARM TrustZone (TEE), Secure Video Path, Cipher Engine, Secure boot Memory • Dual-channel 64bit DDR3-1333/DDR3L-1333/LPDDR2-1066 • Support MLC NAND, eMMC 4.51 Connectivity • Embedded 13M ISP, MIPI CSI-2 and DVP interface • Dual SDIO 3.0 interface • TS in/CSA2.0, support DTV function • Embed HDMI, Ethernet MAC, S/PDIF, USB, I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, PS2 Package • BGA636 19X19, 0.65mm pitch State • MP Now
Microsoft and partners to capitalize on Continuum for Phones instead of the exited Microsoft phone business
With The Nokia phone business is to be relaunched via a $500M private startup with Android smartphones and tablets in addition to the feature phones for which manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired from Microsoft by a subsidiary of Foxconn published on this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog on May 20, 2016 I now dare to publish this follow-up post to the original message which was already available on October 13, 2015 under the title “Windows 10 enhancements for tablets and phones to achieve a powerful PC experience” (that original content see in the final part of this post) and with a statement for the start:
These are significant capabilities with which (although not only with these but with quite a number of other innovations) Microsoft—first time in its history—was able to beat Apple in its own game. You couldn’t believe it?
Unfortunately I’d felt a growing uncertainty about the future of the Microsoft Device business and therefore decided to wait till the picture gets clear. With the following Terry Myerson video appearing on the HP Business YouTube channel I’ve now felt certain to make the original information available in this curent post:
June 2, 2016: HP Elite x3 and Windows 10: Terry Myerson
http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 –Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President at Microsoft, talks about the collaboration between HP and Microsoft that brings to life the new HP Elite x3 with Windows 10 for business, pioneer in the 3-in-1 category.
My certainty was also supported by the Microsoft decision to exit the phone business as it had been acquired from Nokia:
Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to streamline the company’s smartphone hardware business, which will impact up to 1,850 jobs. As a result, the company will record an impairment and restructuring charge of approximately $950 million, of which approximately $200 million will relate to severance payments.
“We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms.”
Microsoft anticipates this will result in the reduction of up to 1,350 jobs at Microsoft Mobile Oy in Finland, as well as up to 500 additional jobs globally. Employees working for Microsoft Oy, a separate Microsoft sales subsidiary based in Espoo, are not in scope for the planned reductions.
As a result of the action, Microsoft will record a charge in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 for the impairment of assets in its More Personal Computing segment, related to these phone decisions.
The actions associated with today’s announcement are expected to be substantially complete by the end of the calendar year and fully completed by July 2017, the end of the company’s next fiscal year.
More information about these charges will be provided in Microsoft’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement on July 19, 2016, and in the company’s 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K.
In addition to the following sentence in the previous Microsoft selling feature phone business to FIH Mobile Ltd. and HMD Global, Oy press release on May 18, 2016:
Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO.
That last statement was not enough for me at that time, just 3 weeks ago as I had a truly shocking experience with upgrading my wife’s Lumia 640 XL to the Windows 10 Mobile version which had been released for that type of earlier Lumia phones last March. The software was so much buggy that I had’seen in my life any time before. I’d got so much angry that immediately bought an Android based Samsung Galaxy J5 for her. However, I became again confident in the future of Window 10 Mobile based phones after her bad experience with that Android software in terms of functionality (e.g. too many steps needed for some vital functions vs. that needed on Lumia) and the success of restoring the earlier 8.5 release on the 640 XL.
Several other videos which appeared on the same HP Business YouTube channel a little earlier gave me the final assurance:
May 27, 2016: HP Elite x3 turned heads at Mobile World Congress 2016
http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 -HP Elite x3 made a powerful first impression at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, winning 24 awards and positive reviews from industry experts. Meet the new HP Elite x3 the one device that’s every device.
June 2, 2016: Reinventing mobility: Dion Weisler
http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 -Dion Weisler President and Chief Executive Officer for HP Inc. introduces to the revolution of mobility. Meet the new HP Elite x3 pioneer in the 3-in-1 category; the next generation of computing, designed specifically for business.
June 2, 2016: The new HP Elite x3: Michael Park
http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 –Michael Park, Vice President for Commercial Mobility & Software division at HP Inc., introduces the new HP Elite x3, pioneer in the 3-in-1 category that will transform business mobility.
June 2, 2016: HP Elite x3 and Qualcomm: Steve Mollenkopf
http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 -Steve Mollenkopf, Chief Executive Officer of Qualcomm Incorporated, presents the power of Snapdragon 820 processor in HP Elite x3, as part of the recent collaboration with HP. Meet the new HP Elite x3, pioneer in the 3-in-1 category; the next generation of computing, designed specifically for business.
Now a brief retrospective for the start:
From the full text of Q&A part of the Transcript of Microsoft Nokia Transaction Conference Call: Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop, Brad Smith, Terry Myerson, Amy Hood; September 3, 2013 [Microsoft, Sept 3, 2013]
OPERATOR: Walter Pritchard, Citigroup, your line is open.
WALTER PRITCHARD: Great. Thanks for taking the question. Steve Ballmer, on the tablet side, obviously, we could say many of the same things as you’ve put into this slide deck as rationale for doing an acquisition on the phone side as we could say about the tablet side including picking up more gross margin.
I’m wondering how this transaction impacts the strategy going forward in tablets and whether or not you need to, in a sense, double down further on first-party hardware in the tablet market. And then just have one follow up.
STEVE BALLMER: Okay. Terry, do you want to talk a little bit about that? That would be great.
TERRY MYERSON: Well, phones and tablets are definitely a continuum. You know, we see the phone products growing up, the screen sizes and the user experience we have on the phones. We’ve now made that available in our Windows tablets, our application platform spans from phone to tablet. And I think it’s fair to say that our customers are expecting us to offer great tablets that look and feel and act in every way like our phones. We’ll be pursuing a strategy along those lines.
More information: Microsoft answers to the questions about Nokia devices and services acquisition: tablets, Windows downscaling, reorg effects, Windows Phone OEMs, cost rationalization, ‘One Microsoft’ empowerment, and supporting developers for an aggressive growth in market share ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, September 4, 2013
From the Microsoft Q4 2015 Earning Call Transcript by CEO Satya Nadella on July 21, 2015:
I am thrilled we are just days away from the start of Windows 10. It’s the first step towards our goal of 1 billion Windows 10 active devices in the fiscal year 2018. Our aspiration with Windows 10 is to move people from meeting to choosing to loving Windows. Based on feedback from more than 5 million people who have been using Windows 10, we believe people will love the familiarity of Windows 10 and the innovation. It’s safe, secure, and always up to date. Windows 10 is more personal and more productive with Cortana, Office, universal apps, and Continuum. And Windows 10 will deliver innovative new experiences like Inking on Microsoft Edge and gaming across Xbox and PCs, and also opens up entirely new device categories such as Hololens.
From Windows 10 available in 190 countries as a free upgrade Microsoft news release on July 28, 2015:
Windows 10 is more personal and productive, with voice, pen and gesture inputs for natural interaction with PCs. It’s designed to work with Office and Skype and allows you to switch between apps and stay organized with Snap and Task View. Windows 10 offers many innovative experiences and devices, including the following:
- Cortana, the personal digital assistant, makes it easy to find the right information at the right time.
- New Microsoft Edge browser lets people quickly browse, read, and mark up and share the Web.
- The integrated Xbox app delivers the Xbox experience to Windows 10, bringing together friends, games and accomplishments across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices.
- Continuum optimizes apps and experiences beautifully across touch and desktop modes.
- Built-in apps including Photos; Maps; Microsoft’s new music app, Groove; and Movies & TV offer entertainment and productivity options. With OneDrive, files can be easily shared and kept up-to-date across all devices.
- A Microsoft Phone Companion app enables iPhones, Android or Windows phones to work seamlessly with Windows 10 devices.
- The all new Office Mobile apps for Windows 10 tablets are available today in the Windows Store.4 Built for work on-the-go, the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps offer a consistent, touch-first experience for small tablets. For digital note-taking needs, the full-featured OneNote app comes pre-installed with Windows 10. The upcoming release of the Office desktop apps (Office 2016) will offer the richest feature set for professional content creation. Designed for the precision of a keyboard and mouse, these apps will be optimized for large-screen PCs, laptops and 2-in-1 devices such as the Surface Pro.
More information around the above 2 excerpts:
Windows 10 is here to help regain Microsoft’s leading position in ICT ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 31, 2015
From 2015 Annual Report>The ambitions that drive us on July 31, 2015:
Create more personal computing
Windows 10 is the cornerstone of our ambition to usher in an era of more personal computing. We see the launch of Windows 10 in July 2015 as a critical, transformative moment for the Company because we will move from an operating system that runs on a PC to a service that can power the full spectrum of devices in our customers’ lives. We developed Windows 10 not only to be familiar to our users, but more safe and secure, and always up-to-date. We believe Windows 10 is more personal and productive, working seamlessly with functionality such as Cortana, Office, Continuum, and universal applications. We designed Windows 10 to foster innovation – from us, our partners and developers – through experiences such as our new browser Microsoft Edge, across the range of existing devices, and into entirely new device categories.
Our future opportunity
There are several distinct areas of technology that we aim to drive forward. Our goal is to lead the industry in these areas over the long-term, which we expect will translate to sustained growth. We are investing significant resources in:
- Delivering new productivity, entertainment, and business processes to improve how people communicate, collaborate, learn, work, play, and interact with one another.
- Establishing the Windows platform across the PC, tablet, phone, server, other devices, and the cloud to drive a thriving ecosystem of developers,unify the cross-device user experience, and increase agility when bringing new advances to market.
- Building and running cloud-based services in ways that unleash new experiences and opportunities for businesses and individuals.
- Developing new devices that have increasingly natural ways to interact with them, including speech, pen, gesture, and augmented reality holograms.
- Applying machine learning to make technology more intuitive and able to act on our behalf, instead of at our command.
January 14, 2016: Continuum for Phones: Making the Phone Work Like a PC by Keri Moran / Principal Program Manager Lead
Imagine having a phone that works like a PC. Continuum for Phones makes this a reality, enabling Windows customers to get things done like never before.
Check out the ways this capability comes alive. You’ll be able to travel and leave your laptop at home, knowing you’re still equipped to complete your most common tasks. Walk into a meeting with just your smartphone – you’re fully equipped for seamlessly projecting PowerPoint presentations to a larger screen. Or take a seat in a business center where you plug your phone into a monitor and keyboard – you’ve instantly gained PC-like productivity using Office apps and the Microsoft Edge browser.
How it all started
The road to Continuum began three years ago with a simple observation: we take our phones everywhere, we depend on them, and we feel lost without them. Yet, when the time comes to do “real work,” we reach for a laptop or desktop PC. So we end up carrying our phones plus our laptops, or we wait until we are at our desks to do the heavy lifting.
The thing is, today’s phones have more than enough processing power to handle our most common tasks and activities. We knew this was especially true in emerging markets where people rely only on their mobile phones to get online. So — with these thoughts top of mind — we set out on our mission to help people get real work done with just their phone.
Who are we? We are the small team of people who built Continuum for Phones with a passion to change the future of personal productivity.
What people want
We started by talking to customers to understand what they needed. We spoke to people around the globe – from Chicago to Shanghai – and found that most people wanted the same thing: a phone that did more. Here are the main insights from the research:
- “My most important device”: people universally describe their smartphone as the center of their connected life.
- Connect to a bigger screen: people rely on their laptops and desktops because their phone lacks a large screen, keyboard and mouse. They want to easily connect to larger screens for both work and entertainment.
- Tech-savvy people expect more: as the processing power of phones has risen, so has the expectations of the tech-savvy.
- Many people around the world don’t have PCs: because they can’t afford a PC, people have a TV and a phone and that’s it. So any computing work gets done on their phone.
We realized that people embraced the idea of having a phone that could work like a PC.
Getting it done
So we started building Continuum, and we soon realized that we faced many technical and design challenges.
For example, there were two paradigms for connecting to a second screen: (1) mirroring your phone’s screen to a larger screen or (2) connecting your PC to multiple monitors. We needed to create a new design paradigm with two independent experiences – one on the phone and a separate one on the second screen. This was important because customers wanted to continue to use their phone as a phone, even while having a PC-like experience on the second screen. We spent months iterating with paper and software prototypes to arrive at an experience that was easy to understand and use.
The technical hurdles were just as big. For example, we had to build support for keyboard and mouse into Windows 10 Mobile. And many substantial architecture changes were needed in Windows to make Continuum work.
At the //Build conference in April 2015, we did our first live demo, and at the Windows 10 launch in July, we showed the full power of a phone running Office* apps on a second screen. The response – which exceeded our expectations — motivated us to keep going, working relentlessly with hundreds of colleagues around the world to deliver an integrated solution that required major changes to Windows, new capabilities in the phones, and creation of docks such as the Microsoft Display Dock.
So, with the debut of Continuum for Phones, you really can have something new in your pocket: a smartphone that has the power and ability to work like a PC. In the words of our CEO Satya Nadella: “This is the beginning of how we are going to change what the form and function of a phone is.”
Right now, this means that you can carry a smartphone – like the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL – and use a small dock or wireless dongle to connect it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor for a familiar PC-like experience. Run Office* apps, browse the Web, edit photos, write email, and much more.
While you’re working on the larger screen, you won’t lose your phone’s unique abilities. Continuum multi-tasks flawlessly so you can keep using your phone as a phone for calls, emails, texts, or Candy Crush. Or if you don’t have a mouse, you can use your phone as the trackpad for the apps on the larger screen.
If you share my enthusiasm for Continuum for Phones, please check out all the details, including multiple usage scenarios, at windows.com.
* App experience may vary. Office 365 subscription required for some Office features.
June 4, 2016 snapshot: New features coming soon to Windows 10 Anniversary Update
This year’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update will have great new innovative features including:1
The pen just got even mightier.
Turn thoughts into action with Windows Ink – using the pen, your fingertip, or both at once.2 Pair it with Office apps to effortlessly edit documents. With Windows Ink, you’ll be able to access features like Sticky Notes with a simple click of the pen.3 When you start drawing a figure like a chart or graph, it’ll turn into the real thing right before your eyes. And because Windows Ink stays active when your device is locked, you’ll be able to jot down notes even when you don’t have time to enter a password.
Cortana’s got you covered.
No time to enter your password but need some quick help? No problem — just ask. Cortana4 will now be at your service, even before you login. Whether you want to make a note, play music or set a reminder, Cortana will have you covered.
The secret password is: you.
With Windows Hello, unlocking your PC and devices is as quick as looking or touching.5 But the new Windows Hello will also let you unlock your PC simply by tapping your Windows Hello enabled phone.6 Beyond the hardware, Windows Hello will also give you instant access to paired apps and protected websites on Microsoft Edge – all while maintaining enterprise-level security. Windows Hello lets you say goodbye to cumbersome passwords.
Got game? We’ll deliver.
Windows 10 will deliver incredible DirectX 12 games and Xbox Live features that will transform what you expect from PC gaming. Now you can play and connect with gamers across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices. From the best casual games to the next generation of PC releases, you’ll have more ways to play new games optimized for Windows.7
And that’s not all: Microsoft Studios is bringing a full portfolio of new games to Windows 10, including the forthcoming Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, which will be freefor Windows 10 users.
Ongoing progress reports (only two latest ones are summarised here):
June 1, 2016: Announcing Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 14356
- Cortana Improvements:
– Get notifications from your phone to your PC
– Send a photo from your phone to PC
– New listening animation
May 26, 2016: Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14352
- Cortana Improvements:
– Cortana, Your Personal DJ
– Set a timer
- Windows Ink:
– Updated Sticky Notes
– Compass on the ruler
– General improvements to the Windows Ink experience
- Other items of note:
– Windows Game bar improved with full-screen support
– Feedback Hub will now show Microsoft responses
– Updated File Explorer icon
– Deploying Windows Enterprise edition gets easier
– Limited Period Scanning
– Introducing Hyper-V Containers (ADDED 5/31)
For more information see: https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/tag/windows-insider-program/
Particularly relevant recent information from A change in leadership for the Windows Insider Program on June 1, 2016 by Gabe Aul / Corporate Vice President, Engineering Systems Team:
Since we first started the Windows Insider Program back in September 2014, Windows Insiders have helped us ship Windows 10 to over 300 million devices. We have released 35 PC builds and 22 Mobile builds to Insiders to date. This is a huge change from Windows 7 and Windows 8 which only had 2 and 3 public pre-release builds respectively. Windows Insiders have been more directly plugged in to our engineering processes for Windows than ever before, including participating in our first ever public Bug Bash this year. Windows Insiders contribute problem reports and suggestions which help us shape the platform, and are currently helping us get ready to ship the next major update to Windows 10 this summer – the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. This is just the beginning of the journey we’re on though. We really appreciate having such an amazing connection with our customers, and want Windows Insiders to continue to help shape Windows releases for years to come. With that in mind, I want to talk about a change to the Windows Insider Program going forward.
When I was introduced as leader of the Windows Insider Program over 18 months ago, I was responsible for the team that built our feedback and flighting systems for Windows. It made sense for me to be on the front lines talking with customers of the systems that my team was building to get Insider Preview Builds out and hear the feedback rolling in. In August of last year, I changed jobs to work on the Engineering Systems Team in WDG. In this role, I am responsible for the tools our engineers use to build Windows, including our planning and work management systems, source code management, build infrastructure, and test automation systems. …
Meet Dona Sarkar
I have worked with Dona for many years and think she is the perfect person to guide the Windows Insider Program forward. Her technical expertise, passion for customers, and commitment to listening to feedback is unmatched. …
You can follow Dona here on Twitter. Please welcome her as the new leader of the Windows Insider Program!
Get to know more about Dona here from Microsoft Stories!
Finally more as well as historic information on this subject which I’d originally put together on October 13, 2015 and intended to publish under the title:
Windows 10 enhancements for tablets and phones to achieve a powerful PC experience
These are significant capabilities with which (although not only with these but with quite a number of other innovations) Microsoft—first time in its history—was able to beat Apple in its own game. You couldn’t believe it?
First watch these two very short videos from CNNMoney presenting Microsoft’s “ultimate laptop” in terms of its device innovations:
Hands-on with Microsoft Surface Book
Then follow with the below information which is presenting one the most important Windows 10 software innovations, called Continuum (Continuum tablet mode for touch-capable devices) which makes that “ultimate laptop” an “ultimate tablet” as well.
Then get acquainted with a similar Windows 10 software innovation, called Continuum for Phones (it is rather for Mobile devices) which is allowing an entry level tablet or a premium phone to become a true PC with an extension to an external large size display after docking to it.
Note that while the “ultimate laptop/ultimate tablet” hybrid is for the premium client market, the second one is targeted at the entry level emerging markets as well. In that scenario Microsoft is hoping to capitalize on the availability of extremely low-cost tablets which could be enhanced to a PC-like experience with Continuum for Phones. When coupled with a similarly low-priced Windows 10 phone the emerging market user will have 2 devices for around $200 and a consistent Windows 10 experience easily dockable to a large size display, and with that easily achieving a true PC experience.
Suggested other information:
– July 30, 2015: Docking – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center
– March 28, 2015: Display – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center
– March 28, 2015: Graphics – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center
Continuum tablet mode for touch-capable devices
The Continuum feature of Windows 10 desktop edition adapts between tablet and PC modes when docking/undocking. More generally: “Continuum is available on all Windows 10 desktop editions by manually turning “tablet mode” on and off through the Action Center. Tablets and 2-in-1s with GPIO indicators or those that have a laptop and slate indicator will be able to be configured to enter ‘tablet mode’ automatically.” Source: Windows 10 Specifications, Microsoft, June 1, 2015
June 12, 2015: Continuum Overview – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center
Continuum is a new, adaptive user experience offered in Windows 10 that optimizes the look and behavior of apps and the Windows shell for the physical form factor and customer’s usage preferences. This document describes how to implement Continuum on 2-in-1 devices and tablets, specifically how to switch in and out of “tablet mode.”
Tablet Mode is a feature that switches your device experience from tablet mode to desktop mode and back. The primary way for a user to enter and exit “tablet mode” is manually through the Action Center. In addition, OEMs can report hardware transitions (for example, transformation of 2-in-1 device from clamshell to tablet and vice versa), enabling automatic switching between the two modes. However, a key promise of Continuum is that the user remains in control of their experience at all times, so these hardware transitions are surfaced through a toast prompt that must be confirmed by the user. The users also has the option to set the default response.
Tablets Detachables Convertibles Pure tablets and devices that can dock to external monitor + keyboard + mouse. Tablet-like devices with custom designed detachable keyboards. Laptop-like devices with keyboards that fold or swivel away.
When the device switches to tablet mode, the following occur:
- Start resizes across the entire screen, providing an immersive experience.
- The title bars of Store apps auto-hide to remove unnecessary chrome and let content shine through.
- Store apps and Win32 apps can optimize their layout to be touch-first when in Tablet Mode.
- The user can close apps, even Win32 apps, by swiping down from the top edge.
- The user can snap up to two apps side-by-side, including Win32 apps, and easily resize them simultaneously with their finger.
- The taskbar transforms into a navigation and status bar that’s more appropriate for tablets.
- The touch keyboard can be auto-invoked.
Of course, even in “tablet mode”, users can enjoy Windows 10 features such as Snap Assist, Task View and Action Center. On touch-enabled devices, customers have access to touch-friendly invocations for those features: they can swipe in from the left edge to bring up Task View, or swipe in from the right edge to bring up Action Center.
With “tablet mode”, Continuum gives customers the flexibility to use their device in a way that is most comfortable for them. For example, a customer might want to use their 8” tablet in “tablet mode” exclusively until they dock it to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard. At that point the customer will exit “tablet mode” and use all their apps as traditional windows on the desktop—the same way they have in previous versions of Windows. Similarly, a user of a convertible 2-in-1 device might want enter and exit “tablet mode” as they use their device throughout the day (for example, commuting on a bus, sitting at a desk in their office), using signals from the hardware to suggest appropriate transition moments.
Imagine the overall smoothness of that combined laptop and tablet experience on the brand new Microsoft Surface Book announced just on October 6, 2015. Out of a plethora of videos reporting on that new device with quite an entusiasm I’ve selected the one which—in my view—just right with its judgement and very concise at the same time.
Surface Book hands-on: Microsoft’s first laptop is simply amazing by Mark Hachman, senior editor of the PCWorld: “No one expected the Surface Book, and what they got was a true flagship for the Windows ecosystem.“
And if you don’t need the leading edge ultrabook performance provided by the clever, “more power (GPU, longer batery life …) is in the detachable keyboard part” design of the Surface Book, then the 4th generation Surface Pro 4 may be more than sufficient for you to provide a state-of-the-art productivity work capability, including the best of the pen computing available on the market (which is also on the Surface Book, you could notice the same pen in the previous video), in addition to a new type cover for the tablet part. Here again the same source has been the best to present all that.
Surface Pro 4: Hands on with Microsoft’s category-creating productivity tablet by Mark Hachman, senior editor of the PCWorld
Continuum for phones
With Continuum for phones in Windows 10 Mobile edition, connecting a phone enables a screen to become like a PC. Additionally: “Continuum for phones limited to select premium phones at launch. External monitor must support HDMI input. Continuum-compatible accessories sold separately. App availability and experience varies by device and market. Office 365 subscription required for some features.” Source: Windows 10 Specifications, Microsoft, June 1, 2015
April 29, 2015: As part of the Universal Windows Platform Microsoft shared at Build 2015 how apps can scale using Continuum for phones, enabling people to use their phones like PCs for productivity or entertainment. With that your phone app can start using a full-sized monitor, mouse, and keyboard, giving you even more mileage from your universal app’s shared code and UI.
April 29, 2015: Windows Continuum for Phones See how new Windows Continuum functionality for mobile phones tailors the app experience across devices to transform a phone into a full-powered PC, TV or a Smart TV
[Sept 17, 2015]
[March 29, 2015]
Continuum for Phones
Continuum for Phones
Windows 10 Mobile
Windows 10 Mobile
Supported entry SoC
Supported premium SoC
1-2GB/8-32GB eMMC w/SD card
2-4GB / 32-64GB with SD slot
7” 480×800 or 1280×720 w/touch
4.5-5.5”+ / FHD-WQHD
<9mm & <.36kg
<7.5mm & <160g
2500+ mAh ( 1 day active use)
802.11ac+, 1 micro USB 2.0, mini HDMI, BT, LTE option
LTE/Cat 4+ /802.11b/g/n/ac 2×2, USB, 3.5mm jack, BT LE, NFC
Front camera, speakers, headphones
20MP with OIS/Flash; 5MP FFC
Oct 6, 2015: Windows 10 Continuum for Phones demo on Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL by Bryan Roper, Microsoft marketing manager, at Microsoft Windows 10 Devices Event 2015
In fact with the last two editing capabilities I was not able to use my 15.6” notebook screen at all. Now with Open Live Writer 0.5 I have a perfect two monitor environment. This is an enormous difference by itself, and then all the Live Writer goodies which I’d been so fun of during the first years of 2010s are just coming on the top of that.
December 9, 2015 on .NET Foundation: Live Writer is now Open Source by Rob Dolin
Today Microsoft announced that Open Live Writer was released and has been contributed to the .NET Foundation. Open Live Writer is an open source application enabling users to author, edit, and publish blog posts. It is based on a fork of the well–loved but not actively developed Windows Live Writer code. Scott Hanselman helped carry the torch at Microsoft on this project, and I’ve been proud to be part of the all-volunteer team to make it happen.
History of Windows Live Writer
The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including Jeremy Allaire, JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team joined Microsoft through an acquisition in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team where I was working. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.
As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with the Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. The original team concluded their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.
Reviving Live Writer
Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from WordPress.com at the time suggested that Windows Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to WordPress.com on a Windows PC. In fact, some of our technical evangelists were actively using Windows Live Writer for publishing on WordPress-powered blogs. A few team members from my former MS Open Tech team took an early interest in joining Scott Hanselman to revive Live Writer as an open source project.
By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other. Jon Gallant sent an email to a few large group email lists at Microsoft soliciting volunteers and we collected about 50 people interested in helping. Anne Legato, Ed Essey, and the team at The Garage were most helpful in sharing advice on launching external projects. Scott Guthrie also agreed to be Open Live Writer’s sponsor.
You might wonder why we’re releasing a version 0.5 now instead of waiting to get to a v0.9 or a v1.0. A few considerations went into this. First, we wanted to get this out as an open source project as quickly as possible so people outside of Microsoft could start participating. Second, we suspect many people may be taking some vacation around the end of December and we wanted to make sure the project was available. Third, Eddie Kessler and the folks on Google’s Blogger team asked us to ship no later than early December 2015 so they could turn-off an old API that Windows Live Writer was dependent on. Eddie and team originally had planned to turn-off the API earlier and we are thankful for their collaboration and partnership in extending its life until we could release Open Live Writer.
Why .NET Foundation
The volunteer team considered a few options for releasing Open Live Writer. Ultimately, we found a great partnership in the .NET Foundation to support our goals around growing community participation for the project. Martin Woodward, Robin Ginn, and the team has been super-helpful in many matters including open source governance and administrative support, to marketing and communications.
And Open Live Writer is many thousands of lines of C# code, so the .NET Foundation is a good technical match too.
December 9, 2015 on Scott Hanselman blog: Announcing Open Live Writer – An Open Source Fork of Windows Live Writer
Today is the day. An independent group of volunteers within Microsoft has successfully open sourced and forked Windows Live Writer. The fork is called Open Live Writer (also known as OLW) and it is part of the .NET Foundation and managed by this group of volunteers. Read the fantastic announcement at the .NET Foundation Blog! Download Open Live Writer now!
Windows Live Writer 2012 was the last version Microsoft released and can still be downloaded from http://www.windowslivewriter.com. If you’re not comfortable using Open Source Software, I recommend you stick with classic WLW.
Here’s some of the added features, the removed features, the stuff that doesn’t work, and our plans for the future:
- REMOVED: Spell Checking. The implementation was super old and used a 3rd party spell checker we didn’t have a license to include an open source release. Going forward we will add Spell Check using the built-in spell checker that was added in Windows 8. Open Live Writer on Windows 7 probably won’t have spell check.
- REMOVED: The Blog This API. It was a plugin to Internet Explorer and Firefox and was a mess of old COM stuff.
- REMOVED: The “Albums” feature. It uploaded photos to OneDrive but depended on a library that was packaged with Windows Live Mail and Live Messenger and we couldn’t easily get permission to distribute it in an open source project.
- ADDING VERY SOON: Google runs the excellent Blogger blog service. We’ve worked with the Blogger Team within Google on this project, and they’ve been kind enough to keep an older authentication endpoint running for many months while we work on Open Live Writer. Soon, Google and Blogger will finally shut down this older authentication system. Blogger will use the more modern OAuth 2 and Open Live Writer will be updated to support OAuth 2. Windows Live Writer will never support this new OAuth 2 authentication system, so if you use Blogger, you’ll need to use Open Live Writer.
- BROKEN/KNOWN ISSUES: We are actively working on supporting Plugins. We have an plan in place and we are looking for your feedback on the most popular plugins that you want brought over from the Windows Live Writer ecosystem.
NOTE: Open Live Writer is NOT a Microsoft product. It is an open source project under the .NET Foundation and is managed and coded by volunteers. Some of the volunteers work for Microsoft and are doing this work in their spare time.
Sept 29, 2015: Android 6.0 Marshmallow – Official Announcement of all features (Nexus Event 2015) – GIGA TECH in 8 minutes
Oct 6, 2015: The Top 3 new features highlighted for the Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the android.com/history
Now On Tap
Get assistance without having to leave what you’re doing—whether you’re in an app or on a website. Just tap and hold the home button.
Define what you want to share with apps on your device and when. Turn permissions off at any time, too.
Enjoy a battery that works smarter, not garder. Marshmallow optimizes your juice for what matters most with features like Doze and App Standby.
Sept 29, 2015: All Features of Android 6.0 Marshmallow from the official Android – Marshmallow page
All about Android 6.0, Marshmallow
Sept 29, 2015: A developer’s overview of Android 6.0 Marshmallow by Android Developers
Sept 29, 2015: Android 6.0 Marshmallow based lead devices information from S’more to love across all your screens from the Official Google Blog
New Nexus phones
We made Android to be an open platform that anyone can build on, and today there are 4,000+ Android devices in all shapes and sizes. Android’s diversity is why it’s become the most popular mobile platform in the world, and the latest version, Marshmallow, takes Android to a new level of performance.
While we love all the Android devices out there, every year we build Nexus devices to show off the latest and greatest, directly from the people who built Android. Today we’re introducing the latest Nexus treats, both running Marshmallow, sweetened by amazing apps and sandwiched by some cutting-edge hardware (see what we did there?):
- Nexus 6P is the first all-metal-body Nexus phone. Built in collaboration with Huawei, this 5.7” phone is crafted from aeronautical-grade aluminum, with a USB Type-C port for fast charging, a powerful 64-bit processor, and a 12.3 MP camera sensor with massive 1.55µm pixels (hello, better photos!). The Nexus 6P starts at $499.
- You’re not the only one who misses your Nexus 5. We’ve joined forces with LG to bring it back with the new Nexus 5X, which gives you great performance in a compact and light package, with a beautiful 5.2” screen and the same 12.3 MP camera and Type-C port as the Nexus 6P. Nexus 5X starts at $379.
Both phones include a new fingerprint sensor, Nexus Imprint, which gives you quick and secure access to your phone, as well as use of Android Pay (in the U.S.). They are available for pre-order on the Google Store from a number of countries, including the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Japan, and come with a free 90-day subscription to Google Play Music. In the U.S., pre-orders include a $50 Play credit to help you stock up your favorite music, apps, games and shows. And, finally, for you Project Fi fans out there, you’ll be happy to know Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X will work on your favorite network. Request an invite to our Early Access Program at fi.google.com.
Oct 5, 2015: Official Android 6.0 Marshmallow Review by Tim Schofield
Oct 15, 2015: Answer to the question “Will Xiaomi finally step to the conventional way of upgrading to Android?” put to Hugo Barra in Hangout with Mi – Episode 2 from Xiaomi India
The official release of Android M has just happened. That means that people like us only now have been given what they need to be able to start the porting process. Of course Google has been working with M for the new Nexus devices for a while. That’s exactly the reason why Nexus exists. So we’ve just started the porting work, and it takes some time to make sure that it all super well optimised.
By the way I should mention, if you look a little bit about the process for doing an upgrade. It’s not like just get some code from Google, like start moving into our code base. Actually it’s at least a two-step process. In fact I would argue that it’s a three-step process.
The first thing to happen is: Whoever makes the chipset, the SoC that powers that particular phone. Maybe let’s talk about Mi4i. Mi4i is on Qualcomm MSM8939, Snapdragon 615 v2 [rather Snapdragon 616 MSM8939v2, see Snapdragon 616 on Qualcomm site], it means it’s powered by Qualcomm. So Google Android team provides the build to Qualcomm. Qualcomm—beginning of now, just like happened—then will take a few months to do the work of making sure that the kernel level stuff is optimised, and correctly able to support then the layers above, the BSP [?Board Support Package?] framework, the so one and so forth.
Then Qualcomm takes that codebase, let’s assume it will be ready in January—to give you a hypothetical date here—and then provide that to the different smartphone brands like Xiaomi for example. Then our BSP team, which stands for basement processor—it’s the low level part of the operating system that includes everything under the framework—they will take that codebase from Qualcomm and then putting the extra work [needed to ensure] that it’s very optimised for battery consumption, for performance, so on and so forth, for Mi4i. They have to do the same work for every other device.
Then the System UI team—concerning that most OEMs have done some amount of System UI work—has to do a little bit of work of optimisation obviously to make sure that all the features are there.
At least these 3 steps that have to be taken by not only Xiomi, but every OEM to be able to bring devices to a new version of the operating system. Make sure that it’s optimised. It’ll be unacceptable for us to launch Android M on Mi4i in a way that doesn’t perform at least as well, if not obviously, ideally better, then it performed on [Android 5.0] Lollipop. So it’s like quite a long process.
Smartphone market outlook and the MediaTek Helio X10 based Xiaomi Redmi Note 2/Prime launched for $125, $140 and $156
Let’s start with an extremely good presentation video by Mrwhosetheboss:
And an actual experience video from Chinese sources (finished by comparing to iPhone 6):
Aug 16, 2015, Xiaomi Today: Xiaomi sold 800,000 Redmi Note 2 phones in 12 hours
Note that Xiaomi has already been the top Chinese company tracked here:
– Dec 12, 2012: UPDATE Aug’13: Xiaomi $130 Hongmi superphone END MediaTek MT6589 quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC with HSPA+ and TD-SCDMA is available for Android smartphones and tablets of Q1 delivery
– Aug 1, 2013: Xiaomi, OPPO and Meizu–top Chinese brands of smartphone innovation
– Aug 30, 2013: Assesment of the Xiaomi phenomenon before the global storm is starting on Sept 5
– Sept 5, 2013: Xiaomi announcements: from Mi3 to Xiaomi TV
– June 12, 2014: Xiaomi’s global offensive with Hugo Barra in charge is threatening Apple—with 10.4 million smartphones sold in China it had already outsold Apple in Q1’14, having “just” 9 million iPhones sold there from which we must at least understand the market situation in China upto Q1 2014 as the reference for the Xiaomi’s progress presented here:
With the Q3 2015 Redmi Note 2/Prime advancement Xiaomi will kill the much hoped (by some stock market analysts) incremental opportunities for the $199 Apple iPhone 6 and $299 iPhone 6 Plus in China and throughout the world. And recall that those were announced 11 months ago as “The Biggest Advancements in iPhone History“
Why? Because being in the smartphone device business for just 4 years Xiaomi has already been on or around the top in China for the last 12 months, as well as has launched an impressive global march.
That global sales campaign has been going on in Asia, Russia and Turkey so far, but it is now expanding to Latin America with new model launching in Brazil [CCTV America YouTube channel, July 14, 2015]: “The world’s third largest smartphone maker is taking a different approach in its plans for global domination. Instead of looking to expand in the obvious markets like the U.S. and Europe, Xiaomi is looking to South America. CCTV’s Paulo Cabral filed this report from Sao Paulo.”
And it is not difficult to foresee a huge global success for the company as in India Xiaomi became “the 5th biggest seller of phones in the country, a feat accomplished in only 8 months“: Smartphone company Xiaomi expanding to India and beyond [CCTV America YouTube channel, March 20, 2015]
And now China’s Xiaomi Begins Making Smartphones in India [Voice of America, Aug 14, 2015]: “Xiaomi’s Redmi2 Prime smartphone [NOT the Note 2 one], priced at about $110, began rolling out from a factory in Sri City in southern Andhra Pradesh state this week. … entered the Indian market just a year ago, but since then price conscious consumers have snapped up 3 million phones.“
Also this all happened after “The Chinese smartphone maker, Xiaomi, held a second flash sale of its new 4.7″ Redmi 1S [at $110/699 RMB almost of the same price level as this year’s $125/799 RMB Redmi Note 2] on Tuesday [Sept 9, 2014], after selling out in just four seconds a week ago.“: Chinese smartphone Xiaomi competes with Apple [CCTV America YouTube channel, Sept 9, 2014]
from which I will include the following Q2 CY2014 market share slide for China here:
as this position of being “on the top or around it” has been kept by Xiaomi ever since.
Then we should not forget what only 8 months ago was introduced as Xiaomi launches MiNote, a new iPhone competitor [CCTV America YouTube channel, Jan 15, 2015]: “The tech world is abuzz about Chinese tech company Xiaomi’s bid to compete with Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun unveiled the MiNote and MiNote Pro [at $313/1999 RMB and $391/2499 RMB a kind of twice as expensive predecessors to the new Redmi Note 2/Prime] on Thursday, both are cheaper than similar iPhone models. CCTV’s Xia Cheng reported this story from Beijing.”
With that Xiaomi will kill Samsung high-end opportunities as well.
Let’s look first at the quite drastic decline of the Samsung smartphone business for the last year and a half (data from Strategy Analytics as it’s been represented in the Apple and Huawei move on Samsung article of July 30, 2015 from Telecom.com, with the vendor rankings in the table according to the latest quarter, i.e. Q2 2015):
Note that Coolpad (Yulong) and ZTE are also globally represented Chinese brands, not mentioned so far in this article.
Then I can again refer to Samsung-related high-end specification comparisons produced by GSMinsider:
And don’t be fooled with the Qualcomm Snadragon 805 and 801 SoCs used by Samsung in these 2014 vintage devices as Samsung itself abandoned Qualcomm as an SoC supplier for its 2015 devices:
Note: Such Samsung move of abandoning the Qualcomm Snadragon 805 and 801 SoCs in its latest high-end products is not an accident but a hard-pressed necessity. The octa-core Qualcomm Snadragon 810 replacing the 805/801 had serious thermal throttling problems, and the Chinese brands were starting to use other octa-cores, among them the quite competitive MediaTek Helio X10. See the following Q1 2015 technology landscape presentation composed of the graphical views from the April 12 and April 24 reports by CINNO Research (in addition to the camera related view on the right):
And software-wise Xaomi is already 5 years in the smartphone business with a lot of quite enthusiastic supporters for its Android based Mi User Interface throughout the world. The MIUI 5th Anniversary: Greetings From MIUI Fans From All Over The World testimonial video from the MIUI ROM YouTube channel dated August 12, 2015 is stating that: “MIUI is one of the most popular Android ROMs in the world. It is based on Android, featuring a rich user experience and user customizable themes. MIUI is updated every Friday based on feedback from its users. Now with over 100 million users and 34 MIUI fan sites worldwide, MIUI is the choice of many Android users globally.“
What kind of “much hoped incremental opportunities (by some stock market analysts) for Apple” I was talking about?
From India Will Overtake US to Become World’s Second Largest Smartphone Market by 2017 [July 1, 2015] by Strategy Analytics the following chart has been produced for Dazeinfo’s Global Smartphone Sales 2015 – 2017: India Will Surpass The US [July 1, 2015] report: That chart has been used by Brian Nichols in his Why Apple’s Growth-Related Fears Are Overblown [Aug 12, 2015] article on Seeking Alpha for its final argument that:
… the market sees China as imperative to Apple’s future growth outlook and while true at the moment, there’s a catalyst forming that should lessen the company’s reliance on China and lead to many millions of new iPhone sales.
China is not that “forming catalyst” that I mentioned earlier. Instead, Apple has a prime opportunity to grow in India over the next year or two, a market that’s growing rapidly with middle class consumers and is the world’s second largest economy by population behind only China.
… with India’s help, which includes the growth in middle class consumers through 2020, India might very well one day become just as important as China to Apple.
Before coming to such final argument Nichols is talking about the current market situation in China via a chart from Above Avalon’s China Mobile Is a Game Changer for Apple [April 29, 2015] research note and with the following comments around that:
I expect Apple to find additional growth in China next year, regardless of what has transpired from a macro perspective over the last few months. The reason is simple: Improved network coverage. Fact of the matter is that most Chinese consumers are still using 2G or 3G networks, which are hardly compatible with the iPhone 6. At the end of the first quarter, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) had 153 million 4G customers, up from 90 million in December of 2014 and just 1.3 million in February of 2014. However, China Mobile had 815 million total customers. So that means the majority of its subscribers are still on 2G or 3G networks. Given the rate at which China Mobile has added 4G customers during the last 16 months, investors can rest assured that its network and 4G customers will be far larger by this time next year. Notably, most of those 4G customers will need smartphones, and Apple has quickly become the most popular choice in China.
As for China’s second and third largest wireless carriers, China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA), they have nearly 500 million customers collectively. And believe it or not, China Unicom and China Telecom’s 4G network is even more underdeveloped than China Mobile’s network. However, both China Unicom and China Telecom are working just as fast to build their respective 4G networks. Once more, this increases Apple’s market opportunity in China, and is the key reason why I think Apple’s growth in China will continue through next year, probably at a very high double-digit rate.
So these are the speculations which IMHO do not take into account the new product waves from major Apple and Samsung competitors, especially Xiaomi.
Xiaomi’s new 5.5″ Redmi Note 2 launched in China just this week for $125/799 RMB (16GB version supporting TDD-LTE for a China specific 4G version of LTE as well as TD-SCDMA, the China specific 3.5G — targeted at China Mobile subscribers) and $140/899 RMB (16GB version supporting both TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE, i.e. both 4G versions — for the subscribers of any mobile operators, and especially of China Unicom and China Telecom) is the actual case in this regard. Watch the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime first look miui 7 pre-order video direct from the launch (the QR code at the start and the end has been positioned out of my embedded view):
Announced: August 13 2015
Sound Alert Types:
The 2.2 GHz Redmi Note 2 Prime version with 32GB storage and support of TDD-LTE + FDD-LTE will sell at $156 (999 RMB).
– Aug 13, 2015: All About Redmi Note 2/Prime: Specifications, Price, Hands-on Pictures! review by Xiaomi MIUI Official Forum
– Aug 13, 2015: Xiaomi New Product Launch: MIUI 7(China), Redmi Note 2(Prime), Mi Wi-Fi nano full launch information (not only the Redmi Note 2/Prime) by Xiaomi MIUI Official Forum, from which the major Redmi Note 2 and 2 Pro Android competition (Huawei P8 and P8max with Hisilicon Kirin 930 and 935 SoCs, and Meizu MX5 (with the same MediaTek Helio X10 @2.2 GHz) on the Chinese market is described as:
Note: regarding the benchmarked performance of each SoC I will recommend the results made available in the Exynos 7420 vs Snapdragon 810 vs MediaTek Helio X10 Turbo MT6795T vs Hisilicon Kirin 935: Benchmark Scores [July 3, 2015] GSMinsider article
– For a much broader competitive comparison I will recommend the Redmi Note 2’s comparisons by GSMinsider which currently contains comparisons (spec-wise):
Aug 13, 2015: Additional videos from XiaomiHK YouTube channel:
Xiaomi – MIUI Introduction (with English subtitles)
Xiaomi – MIUI V7 Endurance
i.e. MIU 7 on [Xiaomi’s] Mi 4, Huawei Honor 6, Meizu MX4 and Samsung Galaxy S5
Xiaomi – MIUI V7 Performance
Xiaomi – RedmiNote2″>Xiaomi – RedmiNote2
Xiaomi – RedmiNote2 Camera
Important videos available on the Bloomberg Business website only, with 3 most important videos added to them from the CCTV America YouTube channel:
June 5, 2014: Here’s Why Hugo Barra Left Google to Be Xiaomi VP: Xiaomi Early Investor Robin Chan discusses Xiaomi’s hiring of Google’s Hugo Barra on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” Former Xiaomi Board Member Hans Tung also speaks.
July 17, 2015: Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra: Studio 1.0 (Full Show 7/16): This week on Studio 1.0: Emily Chang sits down with Hugo Barra, vice president of global operations at Xiaomi. (Source: Bloomberg) 21 minutes from which I will include here the only slide displayed
Plus a lot of other unique information is available in that interview: like the 2015 vintage business model of Xiaomi (investments into non-platform startups to build business partnerships, a whole ecosystem around Xiaomi etc.).
I will add to that the product shown in the Bloomberg interview as an example of such ecosystem generation. This has been documented in Xiaomi launches $13 fitness band [CCTV America YouTube channel, Aug 18, 2014] as: “Chinese Smartphone maker Xiao-mi has started selling an interactive wristband called the Mi Band. The device can measure one’s heart rate and monitor sleep patterns. It’s not the first such device to hit the market, but so far, it’s the cheapest.”
I will also add the Xiaomi Buying Spree Gives Apple, Samsung Reason to Worry [Bloomberg Business YouTube channel, Jan 8, 2015] video stating that: “Xiaomi zoomed past Apple Inc. and Samsung in China smartphone sales just three years after releasing its first model. Founder Lei Jun is now on a buying spree to take that momentum beyond handsets. Bloomberg’s Edmond Lococo has more on “On The Move Asia.” (Source: Bloomberg)”
Then remember the already known facts mentioned in the second video on the Bloomberg website like: “Xiaomi is not Apple“, “Xiami is an Internet company” (“an Internet platform and services brand” heard in another interview), “services are inherent part of Xiaomi“, “Xiaomi is one of the biggest e-commerce sites in China“, “the Xiaomi platform products are enhanced in functionality on requests from its users by around 50%” etc.
As the latest proof-point of such an Internet platform and service strategy of the company watch the Chinese mobile co. Xiaomi launches wallet app [CCTV America YouTube channel, March 26, 2015] video:
Other videos from Bloomberg Business YouTube channel:
Jan 15, 2015: Xiaomi’s Rapid Rise to $45B Valuation Topping Uber: Xiaomi is Apple and Samsung’s rapidly growing threat. Now the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, Xiaomi is releasing its next phone on Thursday at an event in Beijing. Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson looks at how just fast this company is growing. (Source: Bloomberg)
June 5, 2014: Meet the Billionaire ‘Steve Jobs of China’ Lei Jun: Xiaomi co-founder and chief executive officer Lei Jun is known as the Steve Jobs of China, complete with a wardrobe of black shirts and a cult following. But what did he do before starting Xiaomi, and how has his personality helped drive Xiaomi’s success? Bloomberg West’s Emily Chang gives us an overview of this rock star CEO.
Jan 5, 2015: Xiaomi Doubles Revenue to $12B as Phone Sales Triple: Xiaomi, whose investors include billionaire Yuri Milner, more than doubled its revenue in 2014, according to a blog posting by CEO Lei Jun.
Feb 13, 2015: Xiaomi’s Barra: U.S. Market Is Important in Many Ways: Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra discusses the company’s global expansion plans with Bloomberg’s Brad Stone on “Bloomberg West.”
June 4, 2015: Xiaomi Grows Wearable Device Market Share: Xiaomi is looking to elbow its way into the wearable device market. New figures suggest it took a quarter slice of global sales the first three months of the year. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Jitendra Waral discusses the sales figures on “Trending Business.”
Other videos from the CCTV America YouTube channel:
July 22, 2014: Hugo Barra on latest Xiaomi products: Chinese tech firm Xiaomi showed off some of its latest products on Tuesday. The Beijing-based company unveiled its new Mi smartphone and billed it as a challenger to Apple’s iPhone. Analysts say the Mi 4 will be a make or break product for Xiaomi after sales of the older model proved disappointing.The company is also aggressively expanding overseas. Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s Vice President for overseas business spoke with CCTV’s Xia Cheng.
July 14, 2015: Eric Schiffer on Xiaomi’s global strategy: For more on Xiaomi’s global strategy, CCTV’s Michelle Makori spoke to Eric Schiffer, CEO of Patriarch Equity.
Dec 22, 2014: Tech company Xiaomi flourishes in China, India despite patent disputes: China’s Xiaomi tech company is often compared to Apple. Founded in 2010, Xiaomi has quickly surpassed Samsung to become the top smartphone in China and third in the world. Xiaomi phones are currently only sold online and in China and India.
Dec 22, 2014: Ari Zoldan of Quantum Networks discusses Chinese companies, patent troubles: CCTV America’s Sean Callebs interviewed tech industry expert and CEO of Quantum Networks Ari Zoldan about the rise of Xiaomi and it’s legal battles.
A comment from IDC brought ahead: “Competition from 2-in-1 devices and phones remains an issue“. In the notes to the IDC press release it is mentioned as well that “tablets with detachable keyboards [i.e. 2-in-1 devices] running either Windows or Android are not included in the PC category” by IDC. This approach to the PC category is one of the reasons why the decline of the PC market in Q2 2015 is 11.8% according to IDC, while it is 9.5% according to Gartner.
You will find more statistics at Statista
July 14, 2015: After a brief respite throughout last year, the global PC market returned to its pre-2014 slump in the first half of 2015. According to Gartner’s latest estimates, worldwide PC shipments amounted to 68.4 million in the past three months – down 9.5 percent from last year’s June quarter.
The struggling PC industry had received a boost when Microsoft ended official Windows XP support in April 2014, prompting a replacement cycle that has now apparently faded. Despite the sobering results, analysts remain cautiously optimistic about the industry’s mid-term outlook. They argue that the recent decline is no sign of structural weakness but partly a consequence of last year’s unusually positive results and partly an effect of inventory control ahead of the Windows 10 launch scheduled for later this year.
[Gartner’s latest estimates:]
July 9, 2015: Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 9.5 Percent in Second Quarter of 2015
PC Industry Faces Slowdown as Industry Anticipates the Launch of Windows 10
STAMFORD, Conn., July 9, 2015 — Worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.4 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 9.5 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. This was the steepest PC shipment decline since the third quarter of 2013. PC shipments are projected to decline 4.4 percent in 2015.
There were many contributors to the decline of PC shipments in the second quarter of 2015, and Gartner analysts highlighted three of the major reasons for the drop in shipments. Analysts emphasized that these inhibitors are temporary events, and they are not changing the PC market’s structure. Therefore, while the PC industry is going through a decline, the market is expected to go back to slow and steady growth in 2016.
“The price hike of PCs became more apparent in some regions due to a sharp appreciation of the U.S. dollar against local currencies,” Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “The price hike could hinder PC demand in these regions. Secondly, the worldwide PC market experienced unusually positive desk-based growth last year due to the end of Windows XP support. After the XP impact was phased out, there have not been any major growth drivers to stimulate a PC refresh. Lastly, the Windows 10 launch scheduled for 3Q15 has created self-regulated inventory control. PC vendors and the channels tried clearing inventory as much as possible before the Windows 10 launch.”
Lenovo maintained the top position in worldwide PC shipments in the second quarter of 2015 (see Table 1), but the company suffered a year-on-year shipment decline for the first time since the second quarter of 2013. EMEA, Latin America and Japan were tough regions for Lenovo, as the company experienced double-digit shipment declines. HP also experienced a shipment decline after five consecutive quarters of PC shipment growth. HP showed a steep decline in EMEA, which was potentially due to the currency impact. The company was also impacted by tight inventory controls in the consumer market before the Windows 10 launch.
Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q15 (Thousands of Units)
Notes: Data includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile premium (see “Market Definitions and Methodology: Consumer Devices”). All data is estimated based on a preliminary study. Final estimates will be subject to change. The statistics are based on shipments selling into channels.
Numbers may not add up to totals shown because of rounding.
Source: Gartner (July 2015)
For the second consecutive quarter, Dell experienced a decline in PC shipments. Dell’s decline was relatively moderate in EMEA compared with Lenovo and HP. Analysts said this could be partly attributed to Dell’s lower presence in the consumer market, which created less impact to Dell from the Windows 10 prelaunch inventory control.
In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 15.1 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 5.8 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014 (see Table 2). The decline was led by a double-digit decline of desk-based shipments, which offset single-digit growth of mobile PCs. Based on preliminary results, the desk-based PC shipment decline was the steepest since 2009 when the market was hit by the economic crisis.
“The weakness of desk-based PC shipments in the second quarter of 2015 is partly due to relatively large shipments in the second quarter last year when the market was driven by the end of XP support,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Despite inventory controls for the Windows 10 launch, mobile PC shipments grew in the quarter, which resulted in five consecutive quarters of mobile PC growth in the U.S. Affordable thin/light notebooks are attracting more business buyers.”
HP maintained the top position for PC shipments in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2015 despite a 10.1 percent decline (see Table 2). Dell narrowed the gap with HP compared with a year ago. Lenovo was the only vendor showing year-over-year PC shipment growth among the top five vendors in the U.S.
Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q15 (Thousands of Units)
Notes: Data includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile premium (see “Market Definitions and Methodology: Consumer Devices”). All data is estimated based on a preliminary study. Final estimates will be subject to change. The statistics are based on shipments selling into channels.
Numbers may not add up to totals shown because of rounding.
Source: Gartner (July 2015)
[The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsoft’s Windows 8 Intel x86 products and Apple’s MacBook Air. Source]
PC shipments in EMEA totaled 18.6 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 15.7 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014. In Europe, vendors spent most of the quarter trying to manage already high inventory levels. They tried clearing that inventory with promotions, having to absorb this with lower margins. In the third quarter of 2015, vendors should see better “sell-in” into the channel with new Windows 10-based devices.
Asia/Pacific PC shipments reached 24.2 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 2.9 percent decline from the same period last year. Both desk-based and mobile PC shipments declined from the second quarter of 2014. PC shipments in China are estimated to have declined 4 percent in the quarter as demand for consumer PCs remained weak.
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.
July 16, 2015, Forbes: Why Are IDC And Gartner’s PC Market Stats Different, And Does It Even Matter? by Scott McCutcheon
FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Worldwide PC shipments totaled 66.1 million units in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. This represented a year-on-year decline of -11.8%, about one percent below projections for the quarter.
The slow PC shipments were largely anticipated as a result of stronger year-ago shipments relating to end of support for windows XP as well as channels reducing inventory ahead of the release of Windows 10. In addition, weaker or changing exchange rates for foreign currencies have effectively increased PC prices in many markets, thereby reducing purchasing power and also complicating investment planning.
“Although the second quarter decline in PC shipments was significant, and slightly more than expected, the overall trend fits with expectations,” said Loren Loverde, Vice President, Worldwide PC Trackers & Forecasting. “We continue to expect low to mid-single digit declines in volume during the second half of the year with volume stabilizing in future years. We’re expecting the Windows 10 launch to go relatively well, though many users will opt for a free OS upgrade rather than buying a new PC. Competition from 2-in-1 devices and phones remains an issue, but the economic environment has had a larger impact lately, and that should stabilize or improve going forward.”
“The U.S. market was in line with forecasts, declining -3.3% from a year ago, after avoiding the global market declines over the past five quarters. Soft retail demand, short term weakness from inventory reductions, some cannibalization from competing devices, and low demand for large commercial refreshes are among the factors that reduced PC shipments,” said Rajani Singh, Senior Research Analyst,Personal Computers. “Nevertheless, moving forward, we expect a healthy second half as inventory and purchase decisions pick up following the launch of Windows 10. Emerging product categories will remain a bright spot as attention shifts to convertibles and Chromebooks in the commercial as well as consumer segments.”
United States – With shipments totaling nearly 16.4 million PCs in 2Q15, the U.S. market shrank -3.3% from the same quarter a year ago. Although most vendors saw volume decline, gains from Apple and Lenovo helped limit the overall decline. A tough year-on-year comparison contributed to a decline in desktop shipments, while portable PCs shipments continued to grow.
Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) – In EMEA, weakening demand and high inventory levels inhibited sell-in, driving results below expectations. Vendors continued to clean stock ahead of the back-to-school season and Windows 10 launch. Moreover, unfavorable exchange rates led to increasing prices and continued to affect demand both in the business and consumer spaces. The commercial market also faced a difficult year-on-year comparison with 2Q14, when the end of support for Windows XP boosted sales.
Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) – China was impacted by excess commercial notebook inventory from earlier quarters as the anti-corruption campaign continues to suppress commercial spending. Currency fluctuation also remained a key factor in many countries in the region, contributing to lower demand. Nevertheless, volume was close to expectations, reflecting a slight decline in growth from prior quarters.
Japan – continued to see low growth as the weak Yen contributed to a difficult market. The Japanese PC market faced a particularly difficult comparison to year ago shipments that were boosted by the end of support for Windows XP and also changes to Japan’s tax code. As the market responds to these shifts and managing inventory, Yamada Denki (one of Japan’s major electronics stores) announced the closure of unprofitable stores in both urban and rural markets.
Lenovo held onto the top position with shipments of 13.4 million units. Volume was up 1% from the prior quarter, but down -7.5% from the prior year. The vendor continued to aggressively court expansion outside of Asia/Pacific, leading to share gains in the U.S. and EMEA.
HP remained the number 2 vendor, but saw shipments decline -10.4% from a year ago. Slowing business demand and inventory control of entry notebooks contributed to the dip. While most of the slowdown was from outside of the U.S., the vendor also saw its U.S. volume contract nearly -7%.
Dell came in at number 3, shipping more than 9.5 million units and registering a year-over-year decline of -8.7%. Strong results in 2Q14 contributed to a poor year-over-year comparison. Stronger performance in Asia/Pacific and EMEA were offset by slower growth in the U.S.
Apple continued to outperform other vendors, with growth of 16.1% globally. The vendor has largely avoided the price competition affecting other players and may be benefitting from some of the uncertainty around the launch of Windows 10, along with refreshed products like the 12-inch MacBook and a relative concentration of shipments in the U.S.
Acer continued to see growth in Chromebooks with more models introduced. However, the vendor also struggled with the larger pullback in the market, particularly in EMEA where it had seen a rebound in mid-2014. The vendor ended 2Q14 with a volume of 4.33 million, a significant decline from the prior quarter and year ago volumes.
ASUS was statistically tied* with Acer for the number 5 position. ASUS has also been affected by currency factors and inventory management, but strong growth in the U.S. boosted overall results.
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, July 9, 2015
* Note: IDC declares a statistical tie in the worldwide PC market when there is less than one tenth of one percent difference in the revenue share of two or more vendors.
In addition to the table above, an interactive graphic showing worldwide PC market share for the top 5 vendors over the previous five quarters is available here. The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on IDC.com.
- Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports.
- Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.
- PCs include Desktops, Portables, Ultraslim Notebooks, Chromebooks, and Workstations and do not include handhelds, x86 Servers and Tablets (i.e. iPad, or Tablets with detachable keyboards running either Windows or Android). Data for all vendors are reported for calendar periods.
IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data in over 80 countries by vendor, form factor, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment. The research includes historical and forecast trend analysis as well as price band and installed base data.