Short Takes: May 10, 2013

Short Takes: May 10, 2013

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

Apple: Windows 8, No iTunes App for You!

Microsoft executive Tami Reller made an interesting admission this week: The firm has tried to convince Apple to create a “Metro” app version of iTunes for Windows 8 and Windows RT and has come up empty. “You shouldn't expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon," Reller told CNN. "iTunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It's not for lack of trying.” Reller explains that there are 60,000 other apps in the Windows Store for Windows 8/Windows RT, however, and more are coming all the time. Just not the app you want, I guess.

Hot or Not? Windows 8’s 100 Million Licenses Sold Is Not Convincing for Some

The Motley Fool this week debunked any notion that Windows 8 is selling well, noting that that “100 million licenses sold” figure is “based on sell-in to its distribution channel, which includes sales to retailers and OEMs, [as well as] some licenses sold directly to end users.” Ignoring the fact that this figure also doesn’t including volume licensing, which is a considerable revenue generator, The Fool then goes on to cite a guess (sorry, “an estimate”) that only 41 percent (a curiously specific figure) of those Windows 8 licenses are actually in use. Why 41 percent? Well, if you look at the NetApplications usage data, which I do, you’ll see that Windows 8 is in use on 4.8 percent of surveyed PCs. And since there are an estimated 1.4 billion Windows PC in use, there are roughly 59 million people actually using Windows 8. That means that 41 million Windows 8 licenses—41 percent of them—are “sitting on shelves or within distribution channels.” So here’s the thing. I don’t dispute the usage bit at all. But what people always seem for forget is that a sale is a sale. And the point at which Microsoft earns that license sale is when it sells it … to whomever—including a retailer, a distributor, or whatever. And that’s true every quarter. So if these customers don’t then sell those licenses to actual end users, they adjust their own buying over time. Point being, Microsoft really has sold 100 million licenses to Windows 8 so far. And it’s earning revenue from those sales, which one might think would be the interesting bit to The Motley Fool.

Acer CEO Just Might Have a Personality Disorder

Acer CEO Jim Wong is a colorful character, to say the least. You might recall that he was the most vocal of Microsoft’s PC maker partners in decrying the launch of the Surface, and he’s been pretty clear that he is not a huge fan of Windows 8, as well. (Wong was also a big complainer about Microsoft’s tablet efforts a decade ago during the original Tablet PC era, for whatever that’s worth.) Well, someone must have slipped a bit of Ambien in his coffee—or maybe it was that horse’s head in his bed—because Mr. Wong is suddenly singing Microsoft’s praises again. Microsoft is “back down to Earth” with the coming release of Windows 8.1 “Blue,” he told the Wall Street Journal this week. Microsoft is becoming more “considerate” to its hardware partners, he said, and has adopted their suggestions “at a high percentage.” He added, “In the past we consider they (Microsoft) live in heaven. But now they go down to Earth and they start to learn how people living on Earth think.” Good stuff.

Report: Android Isn’t Just Outselling Apple, It’s Destroying Apple (and Microsoft)

As time marches on, the gap between Android and everything else only widens. And a new report from Canalys shows how dramatic that gap has become. In the first quarter of 2013, more than 308 million “smart mobile devices”—smart phones, tablets, and notebooks PCs—were sold, and of them, a full 60 percent of them (or 184 million units) were powered by Android. The number-two player, Apple, commands just 19 percent of the market, or 60 million units. That figure isn’t less than half of Android, it’s fully one-third of Android. And again, the gap is only growing, with Apple losing share for three straight quarters. For the record, Microsoft is a very close third, with 18 percent share and 56 million units, and I’d guess that Microsoft could give Apple a nice run for second place in the coming quarters. That said, let there be no mistake who the king is here. It’s all Android.

Attention, Blogosphere: Nokia Has Not Changed Its Strategy

The announcement this week of a new handset in Nokia’s “other” phone line, the Asha, has triggered a weird episode of collective amnesia in tech circles, with many apparently deciding that this device somehow represents a rethinking of the firm’s strategy. That is, because the Nokia Asha 501 straddles a weird gray area between so-called feature phones and real smartphones, many are now thinking that Nokia is developing the product line as an apparent “Plan B,” you know, just in case Windows Phone fails. Heads-up, people. That’s always been the point behind Asha, and the new device’s clear Nokia branding—it comes in six “striking” colors—simply puts it stylistically into the overall Nokia brand. Frankly, it’s a great-looking phone. I hope Nokia sell millions of them.

Chinese Smartphone Giant Coming to America

China-based Huawei will begin selling a Windows Phone handset, the Huawei W1, in the United States this month, with the device hitting Wal-Mart at a bargain price (exact pricing has yet to be announced). Aimed at the Nokia Lumia 520, the W1 will also be available without a contract and will come with fairly low- or mid-level specs, with a 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor, 512MB of RAM, and a curiously small 4GB of internal storage (with microSD expansion of up to 32GB). I think it’s fair to say that the Windows Phone market is pushing for the mainstream with these new phones. And although those with so-called “hero” phones—Samsung Galaxy S3/4, iPhone 4, Lumia 920—can safely scoff at them, they represent a pretty sizable market, I bet, and without requiring contracts, a new way of doing things too.

Surface Pro Pen Gets Pressure Sensitivity Support in Adobe Applications

Attention, the three people who care about this: After three unbearably long months, Wacom is finally shipping a beta driver that lets the Surface Pro’s electromagnetic pen use its full range of 1024 pressure sensitivity settings in Adobe applications like Photoshop. Though many people wrong-headedly pointed (ahem) fingers at Microsoft for failing to ship Surface Pro with such a driver, the truth is this had to come from Wacom, and that company was the one doing the foot shuffling. But the driver is indeed happening, and if you don’t mind using beta software, you can grab the pre-release version from the Wacom website. (Look for the TABLET PC – Enhanced Tablet Driver 7.1.1-12 that’s dated May 9.) And for the record, during this interminable time, during which the color bled out of the world and all hope was lost, Surface Pro was available for sale only in the United States, Canada, and China. But availability is expanding to numerous new markets in the weeks ahead, so this driver release in many ways was actually pretty timely. Point being: Stop whining, artists.

But Wait, There's More

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