An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Duh, Winning: HP to Keep Its Dominant PC Business
HP announced this week that it would keep its PC business, ending a few months of speculation, or least something a bit more strident than utter disinterest. "HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial, and operational impact of spinning off [its Personal Systems Group (PSG), which makes HP's PCs]," a press release concerning this issue reads. "It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger." HP's bizarre announcement that it might drop its market-dominant PC business led to the ouster of previous CEO Leo Apotheker, who was on the job less than a year and busy dismantling the once-proud company. This week's announcement was credited to new CEO Meg Whitman, whose most recent success was spending more money on a US political-office candidacy than anyone in history—in this case, for the governorship of California—and still losing badly to an underfunded opponent. (She spent $144 million of her own money and $178.5 million from contributors. Think about that for a second.) I see big things ahead for this company.
Windows Phone 7.5 Now Being Delivered to 100 Percent of Eligible Phones
Well, that was quick. After a less-than-stellar series of Windows Phone software updates early this year, Microsoft has turned things around rather nicely, announcing this week that the platform's first major update, Windows Phone 7.5 (code-named Mango), is now being delivered "to 100 percent of eligible phones around the world, regardless of carrier." This comes just a month after Microsoft and its wireless-carrier partners started scheduling the update deployment, and if you waited (and waited and waited) for previous updates, then you understand how amazing a change this is. Kudos to the Windows Phone team for getting it right this time. You've made Windows Phone look great, and by comparison, you've made Android—which is the most fragmented smartphone on the planet—look ridiculous. And that is exactly the positioning Windows Phone needs. (Minor caveat: The phrase "eligible phones" is somewhat telling, as there are a few revisions of a few first-gen Windows Phones that still don't have 7.5. But the vast majority are indeed now getting the update.)
Windows Phone "Apollo" Is Not Coming in Mid-2012, Obviously
The ever-reliable Engadget reports that a Nokia executive said—or as the publication writes, "confirmed"—in the presence of one of its bloggers that Windows Phone "Apollo," the next major update to Windows Phone that is widely expected to be version 8, will ship in mid-2012 and be "a very different game" when compared with today's Windows Phone OS. This suggests, but does not confirm, that Windows Phone 8 will be based on Windows 8. And I would take any talk about "mid-2012" with a grain of salt. That's an awfully aggressive date for the next version, which I don't expect to see before this time next year at the very earliest. Apparently, neither does Microsoft, which told the blogger sweatshop that the Nokia exec's timeline for Apollo was "inaccurate." That's a nice way of saying it, yes.
Samsung Sells More Smart Phones Than Apple
Korean electronics giant Samsung sold more smartphones in the most recent quarter than did industry-darling Apple and is in fact the only smartphone maker to experience year-over-year revenue growth in that same time period. So how do you report on this amazing story if you see the world through Apple-colored glasses? Like this: Samsung 3Q Profit Slides 23 Percent. You know, because that's the real story here. (And by the way, profits slid because of Samsung's non-smartphone businesses; its handset business is going gangbusters.) Samsung said that sales of its handsets jumped 300 percent in the quarter, far higher than Apple's 21 percent unit growth for the iPhone in the same time period—not that anyone else will actually notice that. But here's the math: Samsung sold 28 million smartphones in the quarter, much higher than Apple's 17 million units. And the company now controls 27.8 percent of the global market for smartphones, compared with Apple's 17 percent.
Not All Bad News for Netflix
Netflix might have lost 800,000 subscribers since instituting a price hike over the summer, but the 25 million customers who still use the service really use the service. According to researchers at Sandvine, Netflix subscribers now account for a whopping 32.7 percent of all Internet traffic during peak times in North America. "With so many Netflix-capable devices, the addressable market for the service is already enormous and will only increase, so it's hard to envision a scenario in which absolute levels of Netflix will decline," a Sandvine report notes, though it expects most future growth to come from outside the United States. In case you're wondering what the rest of the traffic looks like, Sandvine says that web surfing is number two during peak traffic times, with 29 percent of usage, while BitTorrent is number two overall, accounting for 23.3 of Internet traffic. BitTorrent? Really?
RIM Delays PlayBook Update
Does anyone still give a damn about Research In Motion's (RIM's) PlayBook? Anyone? You know, that thing that looks sort of like an iPad but is made by the people who make the BlackBerry? No? It doesn't come with email or calendaring, but instead requires you to use it in tandem with a BlackBerry handset? Not ringing any bells? Nothing? Then you won't care that RIM just delayed an important and overdue software update for the PlayBook that will add those missing features and a ton of other things. Yeah, I don't care either. Game over.
Nintendo Slashes Forecast as Wii Sales Fall Through the Floor
Speaking of games, remember when the Nintendo Wii was the dominant video game platform and slapped around the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as if they weren't even there? No, me neither. Because Nintendo's once-dominant Wii has virtually disappeared: The company warned this week that it would lose money in the first half of its current fiscal year with weaker-than-expected sales of all its video game devices, including portable systems like the DS and 3DS. The company sold just 3.35 million Wii consoles in the first half of the year and barely 3 million units of the new 3DS handheld gaming device. My advice to Nintendo is simple: Yes, please do continue developing your innovative and quirky hardware, but also be sure to port your best gaming titles and franchises to competing platforms, including the Xbox 360 and iOS/iPhone/iPod touch. Otherwise, you might be soon looking back on these financial results fondly.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Mary Jo, Leo, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday at the usual time Thursday. So it should be available for download by the end of the weekend on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
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