Tag Archives: Tablets

2016 was always going to be the year of democratised VR, not mass adoption

Estimating shipments of products in new areas of IT is a bit like being the only lighthouse in view above banks of thick fog. It’s the only light you can see, so you’ve nothing to lose heading for it. We’ve been there with pocket PCs, Smartphones and Tablets. And while the fog has cleared for these products, the true state of the market for the much anticipated Virtual Reality headsets is still shrouded in mist.

At CONTEXT, as part of the work with our VR Research Group made up of major PC, HMD, and software vendors, our first predictions estimating the total number of VR headsets shipped in 2016 are conservative compared to some estimations from this time last year. If the basic HMDs are included, the lowest possible total global shipped units start at 8.5m, with true figures probably being closer to 12m+ once the plethora of minor Chinese brands are included. Theo Valich of global consortium VR First commented: “While we are seeing that the adoption of VR is waiting on content, the growth of VR in the emerging markets in Asia-Pacific is not being properly covered. The number of VR start-ups on both the hardware and software side is almost exponential.” The shipped units for the high-end headsets such as the HTC Vive, PSVR, and Oculus Rift CV1 are <15% of the total market, but to get a true picture of what has happened in 2016 and will develop in 2017, it is important that all types of headsets are included.

There are many factors to be considered when attempting to get a handle on the true state of the VR headset market. For a start, 2016 was never going to be about mass adoption for companies such as HTC and Oculus and here are several reasons why: in terms of the headsets designed for use with a PC, a very powerful machine is required and that rules out all but the most dedicated gamers and developers. Awareness of the category is only just starting to become widespread, and even for those with the required hardware, there is a lack of major hit AAA titles to drive sales.

In a recent survey, CONTEXT showed that only 10.5% of members of the general public in the EU had heard anything significant about VR, compared to 79.9% of gamers, with 26.5% of people having not heard anything at all. The issue facing the VR industry right now is that there is a transformative effect of trying it out that needs to happen; simply describing the experience is akin to attempting to explain the taste of Cola to a Martian. As a result, even the cheaper headsets – and yes, we are including the Google Cardboard – can make a profound impact on consumers. In 2016 anyone with a Smart Phone was able to experience VR for the first time, and thanks to Google and others there is a wealth of apps to demonstrate what VR can do. In the early stages of VR, such products are vital to raise awareness. Taking the analogy to the extreme, why would anyone spend $1000 on a sound system when they’ve never heard music on a transistor radio?

In summary, CONTEXT expect VR headset shipments to increase in 2017 for all types of VR headsets, with new industry verticals opening up. We’re seeing more and more VR technologies going through the ICT sales channels into a huge variety of sectors, including healthcare, education, elderly care, military, as well as major public entertainments. With current VR price points, the democratisation – and therefore unit shipments – can only increase, and all types of headsets will continue play a significant role, not just premium products.

by JW

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Filed under Mobile technology, virtual reality

Do we need a giant iPad?

‘Larger devices such as laptops much be switched off and safely stowed…’ said the safety announcement as I typed away.

Scanning the aisles, the flight attendant stopped next to my seat.

“Excuse me sir”, he said with a weary sigh, looking at me reproachfully in a “why can’t these passengers do what they’re told” way.

“Can you put that laptop away until we’re airborne, please.”

I smiled.

“That’s not a laptop,” I said, sensing victory, but trying not to sound smug. I waited, and then added, slowly and carefully, savouring the words:

“It’s an iPad.”

The attendant narrowed his eyes, and as he paused I pressed home my advantage.

“And it’s the big one.. the new iPad Pro.”

The flight attendant took a closer look, saw the familiar iOS icons, and – either baffled or impressed – decided not to argue, and moved on down the aircraft.

And that’s the thing about Apple’s new iPad Pro – it’s huge.

Its not that much narrower all around than my MacBook Pro 15″. In fact, it’s the size of two normal iPads stuck together side by side.

But seeing the new iPad Pro in pictures and on your computer is nothing compared to opening the big white box it comes in and pulling out the huge 12 inches by 8.68 inches wide slab of screen. It takes a few minutes to adjust the senses, especially when you’ve been used to playing with the drop dead gorgeous and right-sized iPad Air.

Set up is typically Apple-easy, and once it fires up, you can really experience the size. Everything is scaled up. The icons seem to jump out of the screen. And the screen is truly amazing. With the brightness turned up and a high resolution picture on display, the colours dazzle, resolution is pin sharp and it seems like you’re looking into the depths of a 3D image.

I’d read a review comparing the speed of the iPad Pro with a MacBook Air, but wasn’t prepared for the difference between my iPad Air and the Pro. The pro flies.

Boot up is notably fast. Response is instantaneous. Screens come and go so smooth and fast it’s like being in a race and always being beaten to second place. I’ve not run any tests, but the screen on the iPad Pro seems to respond even more quickly than my MacBook Pro 15’ Retina display. No shadow effect either but that’s another story.

But why a giant iPad? Yes, it’s a lovely device and beautifully crafted. But where does it fit? There’s little doubt that Microsoft’s Surface Pro has a lot to do with it, that businesses – according to CONTEXT numbers – like the idea of a high-powered laptop/tablet hybrid. Apple’s push into business needs this product, and even Apple CEO Tim Cook himself says the iPad Pro will replace laptops.

I can see why. The combination of touch and keyboard is liberating. The Apple keypad works, in fact better than the Clamcase Pro I have on the Air. The connector is brilliant and takes all the problems out of detachable keyboards. To me it feels natural, typing away and then darting to and from the screen to touch a spelling correction here, copy and paste there, while casually scrolling around.

But… I’m hesitating. My MacBook Pro is a pocket rocket, yet even though I’m loath to give up all that power and storage, I’ll give it a go. I’ll leave the MacBook at home, and do the office thing with the iPad Pro. I know travelling works because I do it with the iPad Air all the time. Plus nearly everything I need to access is on the Cloud.

What could go wrong?

This is going to be fun.

by JD

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Filed under IoT, Smart Technology, Wearables

Positive steps in e-health

For years we have heard that ICT will allow us to achieve the paperless office. Even so, it seems that a lot of paper is still used today; we print all sorts of items, from boarding passes to books. We might have embraced emails, chat and other forms of e-communication, but we still use and produce a lot of paper.

It seems that one area that has been working this way is the health sector. Notes taken by doctors and nurses are recorded in (paper) files that are shared with others when necessary, and prescriptions are handwritten and passed on to pharmacies for patients to collect their medication. One of such cases was highlighted during a keynote at a recent HP eHospital event.

The Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust needed to upgrade their aging IT infrastructure and equipment and went to tender. But instead of just modernising some of their hardware, they decided to overhaul their whole system, including the processes that everyone had been trained to carry out. In doing so, they have not only embraced new and modern devices, but completely transformed the way they work and, in the process, made data available to the relevant people in real time, with less scope for error.

All personnel have access to IT equipment and hence access to data hosted in datacentres and in the cloud, making the viewing and recording of information easier through handheld or desktop interfaces or the use of bring-your-own devices (BYOD).

This not only reduces the risks of for example misreading a handwritten prescription, but it also means the clinician can select a suitable alternative medication if a particular item is not in stock at the campus pharmacy – or highlight an inventory issue, prioritising the restocking of certain products. Apps have been created that work together with a software solution to enable people to view and record relevant information according to tiered levels – without any of the data being stored locally.

The Trust is building an online portal that will allow in- and outpatients to review their health stats and upload their own data (from personal health-trackers, smart devices or good old-fashioned measurements), which can then be reviewed by the clinicians at their next follow-up meeting, whether in-person on-site or via video link.

This NHS user at least is very happy to hear about the progress made by CUH, and welcomes the steps that have been taken to embrace this modern approach to healthcare. Now, can we please roll this out to other hospital trusts as well?

by MK

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Filed under Connectivity, IoT, Mobile technology, Smart Technology, Tablet PCs

Mobile security represents untapped growth opportunity for ICT channel players

According to results of the recent CONTEXT ChannelWatch survey, the majority of resellers across EMEA believe there are increased opportunities in selling mobile products.

The CONTEXT ChannelWatch report, which surveys close to 7000 resellers in EMEA, highlights that 88% of resellers backed this fast-growing sector. Tablets (67%), notebooks (56%) and smartphones (49%) were singled out as driving distribution sales.

As the annual Infosecurity Show in London gets underway today, the ChannelWatch results show that more specifically, mobile security was highlighted as representing a potentially large untapped growth opportunity for many channel players. Half of all respondents from Western Europe said they currently don’t address security projects for mobiles for their business customers. Of those that do, the vast majority (69%) focus on small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).

In Eastern Europe, nearly two-thirds of channel players (64%) are currently not involved in mobile security projects for business customers – a much higher figure than in the West (50%). Of those that do, the vast majority (76%) focus on SMBs.

While half of the resellers polled said they weren’t engaged in security projects yet, this represents a huge opportunity for them going forward. With security top of mind in many businesses we expect to see growth in this area going forward.

CONTEXT ChannelWatch is an annual research study that provides the most detailed insight into reseller behaviour, opinions and attitudes from across EMEA. With 6799 responding to the 2014 review making it the largest study of its kind.

Working closely with our distribution Panel, we achieve the maximum response in each market and region by inviting our participating distributors to send to their entire database. The online survey is then completed by the reseller response aggregated to ensure that confidentiality remains. More on CONTEXT ChannelWatch here.


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Filed under IT Distribution, Mobile technology, Security

Is business usage of Tablets growing?

by Adam Simon, Global Managing Director, Retail Business Development

Business usage of Tablets is expected to increase. With Tablet sales to consumers recently in decline across mature markets, and replacement cycles proving longer than expected, commercial usage is widely considered the next opportunity for Tablet growth.

In the course of last year, a number of vendors have launched Tablets dedicated for use in office environments or targeted at vertical industries such as retail, health and education. And consumer-targeted Tablets, in particular the iPad, have also been used by businesses. During Apple’s last quarterly earnings call, Tim Cook spoke of the importance of business sales of tablets – cynics will say that he would say that, having experienced an 18% YOY downturn in tablet sales, so he has to paint a rosy picture. But recent CONTEXT data supports the assertion of a growing importance of Tablets in business environments.

In Q414, for the top 5 Western European markets combined, distributor Tablet sales into business channels increased Y/Y while sales into retail declined. Sure, business-channel growth came from a small base, particularly in the corporate reseller segment, and multiple retail was still by far the dominating channel with a 69% share. But this was down from last year’s 73%, while business channel share increased.

And while Apple remains the dominating vendor for Tablet sales to corporate resellers, Windows has finally begun to make an impact on the segment. Windows-based Tablets accounted for 11.4% of Tablet sales to the corporate reseller channel in Q414, compared to only 4.5% a year ago.

It looks like Tim Cook is right, and there is a growing market for business tablets. The next big leaps will be when the IBM business apps which are being developed in collaboration with Apple, as well as the launch of Windows 10 later on this year, start to make an impact. CONTEXT will be tracking those trends closely.


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Filed under Market Analysis, Tablet PCs

The iPhone 6 cometh…

The new iPhone 6 is soon to be upon us, and maybe this time I will upgrade. I resisted the urge to go to the new iPhone from my 5 last time around as I struggled with rationalising the benefits, such as a faster processor, fingerprint recognition and … ?, but maybe it’s different this time. Why? because I’ll probably be saying goodbye to all my iPads. Why? because if – as rumoured – the iPhone 6 has that glorious big display, then I will have reached a goal I searched for during the brief period I was in love my HTC One. Phone, pictures, internet and sat nav, all in one device, and a screen size just right for everything on the move. It’s amazing what a difference that extra inch of screen real estate makes. So much so that I bought all the accessories for the HTC including an extremely clever car dock that, when connected, knew you were in a car, and switched to car mode with big buttons, sat nav on tap, and message reading. I used it with CoPilot and the Google maps on trips across Europe and it never failed.

In the end it was Android that finally turned me away. Yes the HTC had a very neat trick that when I connected to my MacBook Pro, a message popped up saying “hey, I notice you have an iPhone backup file on your Mac. Would you like me to import your messages, photos, music etc”. But the One never sat easily beside my OSx environment, I’m still picking up the pieces from the Android and IOS mating that cluttered my MacBook Pro. With a twinge of regret I reverted to my iPhone.

So to get a big screen that does phone, and sits nicely in my Apple world would be heaven. But as I said at the beginning, what about my iPads? My original iPad has been collecting dust ever since I got the mini, and frankly the  mini hasn’t had an outing in weeks. And no, I didn’t go for the last refresh on either of those either.

There’s a lot riding for Apple on the iPhone 6. If my experience is anything to go by, there will be people making choices between Apple devices as opposed to building a fleet as has been the case in the past. I’m sure Apple has this all thought out, but it will be interesting to see the impact on Tablet numbers when, or should I say if, the larger screen size options on the new iPhone 6 are announced.

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There’s life in laptops, but not as we know it, Jim!

On 2 June 1897, Mark Twain published a statement in the New York Journal with the immortal words, “The report of my death was an exaggeration”. The correction was occasioned by newspaper accounts of Twain’s being ill or dead. At the time, Twain’s cousin James Ross Clemens was seriously ill in London, and it appears that some reports confused him with Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

Fast forward to 2014 and today’s laptop market. Ever since tablets started pouring out in millions, pundits have declared that laptops, as we know them, are dead.

But are those reports, as in Twain’s case, exaggerated ?

Laptops started out as keyboard, screen and a hinge, a PC you could fold up and take it away. I still have my Toshiba T1600, yes it’s bulky, has removable batteries, floppy drive, mono screen, but the basic configuration is the same as today’s laptop: keyboard, screen, hinge. By the way, the screen on the T1600 could be unplugged and a colour one inserted in its place – can anyone do that today?

The point is that no matter what the advances in screen technology, Moore’s law or batteries, for almost 30 years after the decline of the “luggable” PC, the essential form factor has not changed.

Why? Because it works.

For a while, it worked with consumers and businesses, for consumers it branched off  smaller with netbooks, for businesses it tried micro with palm PCs, but meanwhile the basic shape and function continued, with sales numbers artificially buoyed by incredible consumer demand which – as is the way with all consumer fashion – moved on to the next desirable thing, in this case tablets.

Meanwhile, however, businesses carried on buying laptops. Companies that focussed on consumer laptops suffered as price competition got even more fierce, but enterprise stalwarts such as HP and Lenovo continued to service their business customer needs with a functional device that did the job with a screen, keyboard and hinge. In fact, it’s a nice business. Data from CONTEXT shows average selling prices (ASP) for business laptops in Europe are 50% higher than similarly specified consumer laptops. And what’s more, business laptop ASPs have risen over the last year 2%, while consumer laptop prices are still dropping, 5% over the last year.

In the immortal words of Dr McCoy in Star Trek, “It’s life, but not as we know it”. Tablets will come and go, smartphones will morph into the next big thing, but meanwhile there’s a basic business need for laptops with a keyboard, screen and hinge that – until someone comes up with a viable alternative form factor that does as good a job – will continue into the future, whatever technology that encompasses.

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