Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for September 2011

In my opinion, it depends.

Talk of “innovation” is based almost entirely on marketing and hype. In reality there’s actually very little true innovation here.

The original iPhone is really a development of the iPod Touch platform. That was innovative in terms of packaging and use of certain technologies, but most of the technology of the iPhone and iPod Touch has some sort of “prior art” in other platforms. Just like Microsoft have before them, Apple have done a great job of convincing people that the key capabilities that make up the iPhone are all Apple inventions, when they are mostly not.

Even if you consider the iPhone to be “innovative”, subsequent models have really been incremental design/technology changes rather than any great leaps of capability: better screen, better battery life, faster processor, improved software… hardly “innovation” at play here, especially as in some cases they seem to be copying other platforms, like Android.

Apple’s ability to create a boom will depend on whether they can continue to market such a product range to people who are becoming increasingly aware that the iPhone isn’t the only game in town, isn’t actually that special or unique, and that new models aren’t always worth upgrading to.

As the product line ages, people start to accept advanced touch screen GUI phones with apps as the norm and are less easily wowed by this technology, and as the competition gets better it will be increasingly difficult for Apple to razzle-dazzle consumers.

The device will be a success but I think the days of boom are over. Analysts now predict that Android devices will lead the way. Of course they will always have a user base of die-hard iPhone users who will automatically upgrade for the sake of having what they see as the best.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – professional software development

We all have heard that Windows 8 will have more tablet and touch-like features and that it will erase the interminable boot up time that it currently takes a PC to start up. Windows 8 will be available for desktops, laptops, and tablets.
However W8 is not such a good thing as it seems to be from the first sight. And to prove it I`d like to give five reasons why people might want to stay away from W8:

Metro is designed for tablets

Microsoft heaped all of its creativity in Windows 8 on the new Metro interface.There are a lot of nice things there, but it’s been designed for tablets, not PCs. Not everyone will like working in an operating system designed for touchscreens having only a mouse and keyboard.

There’s nothing much new on the Desktop

Windows 8 relegates the Desktop to being just another app in Metro. When you get into the Desktop, it looks and works just like Windows 7 – and in some ways it is even worse. When you click the Start button, it doesn’t open a menu from which you can run apps, open documents, and so on. And if you want to use the Desktop Control Panel, you’ll have to switch back to Metro, move your mouse pointer to the lower left portion of the screen, select Settings, scroll to the bottom of the screen, and then select More Settings. In Windows 7, the Control Panel is available right on the Start menu. For those who live in the Desktop, Windows 8 doesn’t seem to offer any benefits over Windows 7, and may even be harder to use.

The interface is confusing

Windows 8 is essentially two operating systems, not one, mixed up together in a not-very smooth way. Metro is designed for tablets; the traditional Desktop is for PCs and laptops. There’s very little connection between the two; the interfaces look different from one another and work differently from one another. If you like a seamless, integrated operating system Windows 8 might not be for you.

Microsoft will control what Metro apps you can download

If you want to download a Metro app to run in Windows 8, you’ll only be able to do it via the Windows Store, just like Apple does with the App Store This breaks with the long-lasting Windows tradition of allowing people to download any app they want. In essence, this is a form of censorship. You’ll be able to download any app you want to the Desktop, but you can already do that in Windows 7, so why bother to move to Windows 8?

It’s trouble for businesses

Businesses will face serious problems upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 8 because of Metro – users will need time to get used to W8 or even to take some retraining cources, countless help calls to the Help Desk to aid with Metro problems, and deployment woes. Given that Metro is designed for consumers, not businesses, it’s not clear what benefit businesses will get out of Windows 8. They’ll likely stay away. :)

Thank you for your attention and you are welcome with your comments!

Kind regards,
Elvira Golyak (elvira.golyak@altabel.com)
Altabel Group – professional software development

For 15+ years the Internet has been revolutionizing modern life in many different ways: communication between people, information search, consumption. Along the way, it has “completely upended entire industries, killing off or reducing existing power brokers, removing middle men, and ushering in new leaders”.
But it’s far from finished in reshaping industries – lots of transformation is waiting to happen in the years ahead. There are entire industries that have been only lightly touched so far but are destined to be caught in the eye of the storm eventually. Here are the upcoming ones:

1. Movies
The movie industry has been under intense pressure over the past decade as large-screen television sets have come down in price and high definition movies have made the home experience feel more and more like a small movie theater. The most important reason why movie theaters still have such a strong business and still exist is that the most anticipated films still show up in the theaters months before they come to pay-per-view, disc, and premium channels. So, it’s all about controlling content distribution. And that’s likely to change soon. But for instance, Hollywood is already experimenting with the idea of selling movies directly to consumers at home (streamed over the Internet) at the same time the movies arrive in theaters. Movie studios will charge a higher fee (possibly $30) for such experience but many families already pay $50 or more to go to the movies all together and some would rather save time and watch it in the comfort of their own homes. Not likely that theaters will go away but they will decrease in number and turn into much more of a premium experience.

2. Healthcare
It’s an industry that thrives on the latest scientific research and cutting edge equipment to improve people’s health, but can’t adequately transfer patient information between healthcare providers and remains snowed under an avalanche of inefficient paperwork that drives up costs and wastes time. Recently in many countries the government is trying to push for an electronic medical record (EMR) that the patient (not the healthcare provider) controls, in the U.S. by 2014 for example. Although the idea seems so brilliant the details are still working themselves out and there are some legitimate concerns about it. When it happens, it will not only shift the investment in healthcare dollars away from old processes and products and into a lot more IT systems, but it also has the potential to give patients more ownership of their own healthcare experience, which could have unforeseen consequences for pricing, provider choice, and provider accountability.

3. Book publishing
Amazon has completely changed the way most people buy books, and it’s done it in two ways. First, it made it fast and easy to buy books online, and at a huge discount and with a much larger selection of obscure titles. Because of Amazon, book-buying was one of the first things people become comfortable purchasing over the Internet. Second, Amazon’s Kindle has popularized e-books, which takes the process of delivering paper goods completely out of the equation.
While this has been a revolution for consumers, the Internet has done very little to revolutionize the publishing process for books. It is still ruled by publishing houses, who serve as the gatekeepers and filters for what gets published and decide which titles deserve the most promotion (and potential sales). However, just as it did for news publishing, the Internet is about to completely democratize the publishing process for books. The combination of e-readers, electronic audiobooks, and print-on-demand have lowered the barriers to entry and made it so that authors no longer need publishing houses. They can take their work straight to the masses, at least straight to their niche audiences. So, in the new Internet world, there are going to be a lot more books published (as e-books), there will be room for more people to make a living as niche authors, and the traditional publishers will morph into promotional agents for the really big titles.

So, what else do you predict to see as next Internet transformers? Are you waiting for your refrigirator to start do grossery shopping for you? :)

Post your picks and ideas in the discussion below.

Thank you,
Helen Boyarchuk
Altabel Group – professional software development

Apple’s iPad will have overwhelming majority of 2011 sales, but by end of 2015, Android expected to run on 36 percent of tablets.

Apple created the modern tablet market, and its iPad has become the undisputed king of tablet computers. The iPad promises to hold that dominance for years to come, research firm Gartner said.

Apple’s iPad will command 73.4 percent of global tablet sales in 2011 and will hold the majority of tablet sales until 2014, Gartner said.

In 2015, Apple will still be dominant over Android tablets and others, with 46 percent of the market. In that year, however, Android tablets and even some from Microsoft and Research in Motion will gain ground, Gartner said.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said Apple does so well because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that, planned for it, as far as component supplies such as memory and screen. This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options.

By comparison, Android tablets will account for 17.3 percent of sales in 2011, Gartner said, while any other platform will have no more than 5 percent.

According to the survey, overall in 2011, tablet computer sales globally will top 63 million devices, an increase of 261 percent over last year.

It is predicted, that by the end of 2015, tablet sales will reach 326 million devices.

As expected, the iPad will have the overwhelming majority of 2011 tablet sales, with 73.4 percent, or nearly 46.7 million total. Android’s total in 2011 will be 17.3 percent, or 11 million.

In 2015, Gartner said Android will grow to 116 million tablet sales, compared to 148 million for Apple.
Also in 2015, Microsoft tablets and Research in Motion’s QNX-based tablet will be sizable market forces. Microsoft is expected to sell 34 million units in 2015, while RIM’s will sell 26 million, Gartner said.
For 2015, Gartner’s forecasts give Apple 46 percent of the tablet market, followed by Android devices at 36 percent, Microsoft at 11 percent and QNX at 8 percent.

So what are your thoughts on this research? What do you think, who will take the lead? What are you predictions?

It would be great to hear your comments and assumptions on that point.

Kind Regards,
Natalia Kononchuk
Altabel Group – professional software development

Smart phones are already changing many markets in the IT industry. Mobile gaming represents one of the fastest growing segments of the digital games market, and potential for future growth remains strong as more consumers are using smartphones for games of all types, including the increasingly popular mobile game apps. Is the mobile gaming industry a threat to the console industry?

Traditional PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games can take two to three years and $20 million to $30 million to build. By contrast, apps for Apple and Android handsets can be assembled in weeks for less than $20,000, which explains why they’ve captured an entire generation of bedroom entrepreneurs’ imaginations. Given sales of 100 million-plus iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, etc.) though, producing high-quality titles capable of selling in the millions isn’t the issue.

Despite the best efforts of Nintendo and Sony, mobile games are taking a bigger chunk out of the portable gaming market, with one in every three dollars of portable gaming revenue going to smartphone and tablet games, according to new analysis from mobile analytics firm Flurry. Games for mobile devices now account for almost half of all the game downloads.

Even most of the gamers who use a dedicated console to play online are spending the largest chunk of their change on games for mobile devices. The rest of their game funds are going toward titles downloaded for PCs, full consoles, portable consoles, and other systems.

A recent report revealed some startling facts about mobile gaming and the rise of smart phone gamers. iPhone user spends around 15 hours on average every month playing games. Android users weren’t far behind by cloaking 9.3 hours monthly average while other smart phone users were at 7.8 hours. Overall around 64% of people who download applications have installed a game in the past 30 day period making gaming apps the most popular genre of apps.

Although the message is clear many publishers are not very worried considering that the market is still dominated by console games. Since the cost of production for many mobile and social games is extremely low in comparison with console games, when the time comes for jumping ships or expanding over to mobile and social platforms it will not be difficult, especially for a video game development company that already has the assets, technology and manpower necessary to develop games for consoles and the PC market.

While portable gaming market is changing rapidly, Nintendo and Sony aren’t sitting still. Nintendo recently launched the 3DS, which sold almost 400,000 units in its first week, a respectable number that still fell short of some analyst expectations. Sony is working on new portable hardware and moving closer to the mobile market with plans to make its PlayStation software available on Android devices. We’ll have to see how the two gaming giants fare in their efforts to kick-start their businesses, but it’s clear mobile games are posing a huge challenge with their cheap (or free) pricing and easy digital distribution.

The rise of cheap mobile games, even as low as 99 cent apps are compared to that of the iTunes music revolution and that of the takeover of the traditional books market by self-publishers via eBooks. Does this mean that internet is about to change the gaming industry once again? Many companies have already started integrating their games into social and mobile platforms. EA and other major studios and platforms such as Sony, Microsoft, etc., have also started experimenting with social media platforms, as well as the development of games for mobile devices. However, for the near future, gaming companies are quite unlikely to have any serious issues due to the rising popularity of mobile games. There will always be a demand for console and PC games, in addition to mobile games.

And what do you personally think about expanding of mobile games popularity? Do you think mobile games are going to beat console games? And are they more advantageous to invest in?

Kind regards,
Aliona Kavalevich
Altabel Group – professional software development


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