Larry Page Pointing Toward Wearable and Home Markets

Ben Popper, The Verge:

The purchase of Nest indicates that Google has rethought its hardware strategy, preferring to avoid competition with its Android partners and instead invest in the wide-open world of connected devices and smart homes instead. Larry Page said as much in an email to staffers about the Motorola sale. “As a side note, this does not signal a larger shift for our other hardware efforts. The dynamics and maturity of the wearable and home markets, for example, are very different from that of the mobile industry. We’re excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems.”

Maturity?

Wearables and smart devices for the home are just getting started. When a whole bunch of companies, Google included, make a big mess of things in these two markets I’m betting Apple will come along and change it up just like Apple did with a messy MP3 market with the iPod, the crappy smartphone market with the iPhone, and the dying tablet market with the iPad.

That’s what I thought before Google acquired Nest. Now I’m not so sure. But what I am sure of is I’m not going to buy possibly dead end products like the Nest Thermostat or Protect. According to TechCrunch the Nest team will “still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors.”

Does Google Want To Be A Consumer Electronics Company?

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

I wouldn’t argue that Google wants to “be like Apple”, but the idea that Google doesn’t have its sights set on producing its own mass market consumer electronics would be a lot more compelling if they hadn’t just bought Nest for $3 billion, and hadn’t spent the last year hyping Google Glass.

Google has not done very well building beautiful, functional consumer electronics products that are worth the price. The Chromebook Pixel and the Nexus Q are two examples of beautiful but overpriced, and Glass is an example of overpriced. Google is betting Nest, not Motorola, will help in this regard.

Siri & Her

Dag Kittlaus, Variety:

But the Sexy OS played by the (unfortunately) invisible Scarlett Johansson has a bit more emotional intelligence than Siri does today. Can Siri catch up? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath.

A bit more?

Is Google Losing Control of The Android Ecosystem?

ABI Research:

ABI Research reports that Android once again dominated the Q4 2013 shipment numbers for smartphone advanced operating systems with 77% market share of over 280 million smartphones shipped in Q4 2013.Nearly one billion smartphones were shipped in 2013, Android accounting for 78% across the year.

Android’s dominance is not quite as rosy as it seems though, with most of the growth coming from forked Android operating systems (137% year-on-year), mainly in China, India, and adjacent markets. Forked Android or AOSP accounted for 25% market share with 71 million unit shipments, as opposed to certified Android’s share of 52%, of a total of 77% market share.

“The growth of AOSP is significant for Android’s owner Google, because AOSP does not offer Google’s services (due to their unavailability in China), impacting Google’s ability to monetize the Android ecosystem,” comments Nick Spencer, senior practice director, mobile devices.

My answer to the question of whether or not Google is losing control of the Android ecosystem is this: According to data from ABI Research, yes, Google seems to be losing control of the Android ecosystem, especially in China.

Flag

Flag is ad-supported free photo printing, but not the cheap kind: “Museum quality (Giclée) printers, German 220 gram photo paper from sustainable sources, laser cutters, and robots with carbon fiber arms…” Twenty of the highest quality photo prints money can buy each month, for free. This is a no-brainer. Pledged.

Tim Cook on iPhone Sales: iPhone 5S Was Stronger

Chris Welch, The Verge:

During Apple’s quarterly earnings call today, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that the company made some miscalculations about consumer demand for the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C in North America. “It was the first time we ever ran that play, and demand percentage turned out to be different than we thought,” Cook said. Apple doesn’t break out individual sales figures for each iPhone model, but Cook made it clear that the iPhone 5S has thus far proven more popular than the cheaper 5C. “The mix was stronger to the 5S, and it took us some amount of time to build the mix that customers were demanding.”

The tried and true strategy probably would have worked just as well as it has since the beginning: bring down the older iPhone 5 to US$99 with a contract and introduce the iPhone 5s at $199 as the new top-of-the-line. I thought the iPhone 5c would do better, but I guess people consider old tech as old, no matter the cover.

Grandpa’s iPad

Shawn Blanc:

The iPad was a gift from my aunt. It’s a 3rd generation and she doesn’t use it that often so she gave it to him hoping he could use it. (Perhaps as a giant remote control for the TV?)

But my Grandpa discovered a use for it that none of us had considered. It is the best camera he’s ever owned.

Makes sense. The 9.7-inch display as a viewfinder is great for those with less-than-perfect eyesight. And unlike almost all cameras out there with photo, video, review switches complicating things, taking a photo on the iPad is super easy.

Foxconn May Build LCD Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

Chris Ziegler, The Verge:

At an event commemorating its 40th anniversary this weekend, Foxconn boss Terry Gou mentioned that the company is exploring the possibility of opening a display manufacturing plant in the US that could produce screens larger than 60 inches, The Wall Street Journal reports. Spurring the exploration, apparently, is the difficulty of shipping panels that large to the US from Asia, where most are currently produced.

I don’t think shipping large TV panels is difficult; it is however costly (air), and takes a lot of time (boat). Plus, to save on taxes, these TV panels are shipped to Mexico. Once the 60-inch LCD is integrated into a TV chassis it is then trucked over to the U.S. to a major hub. Cumbersome yes, but why would Foxconn consider building a large LCD manufacturing plant in the U.S. when there is only one major TV brand — Vizio — in the U.S.? Maybe there’s going to be two.

Google Buys Nest

The Verge, Nilay Patel:

The question of trust is perhaps most important of all. Fadell once described the Nest thermostat to me as nothing more than an on / off switch with a lot of nuance — nuance gained by collecting huge amounts of data about your living patterns and energy needs. Adding that data to Google’s formidable collection of information about nearly everyone who uses the internet struck immediate fears with privacy advocates and a growing base of skeptics who contend Google’s ad-supported business model creates an anti-privacy culture.

The Nest thermostat gathers data, very personal data, about how we live. Those who trusted Nest with that data went out and bought the thermostat. The same logic applies to Protect, a smoke detector by Nest. Trust Nest? If the answer is yes (and if you have some disposable income), you’d buy Protect. Do Nest customers trust Google the same way? My guess is no.

CES 2014: Sony

Sony: I’m quite excited about the Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector, which projects a 147-inch image on the wall. The projector is hidden inside a modern piece of furniture; just make sure you don’t put something on top of the cover that opens up. I wonder if Sony can improve upon this design and use glass that turns opaque when not in use and turns transparent when you turn it on. That way there’s no mechanical piece that can break. Looking at the photos it seems there are speaker units connected on each end. Even better.

I like the way Sony is thinking: This minimalistic design allows the display to disappear, completely. One major eyesore in almost all homes are thin TVs protruding out of the wall because of thick mounts. Thin TVs standing on thick furniture is also a design oxymoron. The design approach where technology disappears when you’re not using it is my type of approach. The only limitation is if the interior design of the room doesn’t match the design of the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector. If the price is right, I know just the place to put it.

The Verge: The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is a high-end Android smartphone that’s not humongous, with a 4.3-inch IPS LCD. I think this is the closest competition the iPhone 5/5s/5c has if you’re in the market for a high end smartphone that’s around 4 inches. The pixel format is 1280×720 and translates to a resolution of 342 ppi, a bit more dense than the 326-ppi iPhone 5. It’s waterproof too, just like its bigger brother.