Apple May Waterproof Future Devices With HzO Technology

Last week, CES 2012 occurred in Las Vegas and during the show some pretty interesting concept technologies were demoed. Turns out, Apple may actually maybe interested in one of them. Today, Pocket-lint reports that HzO, a Utah based company, was showing off its “WaterBlock” technology for providing water resistance to mobile devices at last week’s CES. Rumor has it that Apple might be talking to them about the possibility of including the technology in future iPhones and other devices. In addition, copy-cat Samsung is also reportedly “excited” by the technology (no surprise here).

“We showed the Samsung Chairman the technology with a Samsung Galaxy S that we had coated with HZO and he couldn’t believe his eyes,” a representative of the company told us. “Samsung is really excited by the tech.”

The company has told us that they are also talking to Apple as well, hoping to be able to let Apple make the iPhone 5 waterproof.

“We expect HZO to be in next season’s phones,” HZO told Pocket-lint rather confidently.

The WaterBlock technology consists of a coating applied to the interior device components to help them resist water damage. The coating is applied during the manufacturing process and is not visible to the user. I’m assuming people don’t drop their devices in water often, but regardless, this technology will be a money saver if integrated. Also, about time don’t you think! HzO also says that WaterBlock is a non-toxic, organic material that is safe for people to use. It also doesn’t change the aesthetics of a device or add any weight. Sounds magical to me!

However, it should be noted that it is difficult to tell how serious Apple’s discussions with the company might be, and any relevant conversations probably would be extremely confidential.

Why Windows 8 tablets Are Going to Have a Tough Time Toppling the iPad

A new report by Digitimes suggests that the first generation of Windows 8 tablets powered by Intel could be priced at $599 to $899. We can safely assume that the $599 ones will be the budget equivalents with low end hardware configurations, while the $899 ones will be the high-end ones, which will compete with the iPad 3 (or the iPad 4 if it is launched in October, as rumored) and Google’s flagship Nexus tablet.

Windows 8

Going by notebook pricing in the past, this seems increasingly likely because of a multitude of reasons.

1. Windows: The average cost of a Windows license has been around $150 in the past. We don’t expect Microsoft to slash prices of its most profitable offering significantly.

2. Intel processors: Intel desktop and notebook processors are much more expensive than the standard ARM processors currently used in notebooks and smartphones. It’s very likely that they won’t be able to undercut ARM processors to attract manufacturers.

Apple currently makes the iPad 2 for around $325, and likely spends another $25 for shipping, retail, marketing etc. After all expenses are accounted for, it makes a profit of $150 on each iPad 2 16 GB unit, and more on the 32 GB and 64 GB variants.

However, Apple outsources all its manufacturing to ODMs like Foxconn and Pegatron, and controls all aspects of its supply chain to procure components at a much lower price than any other manufacturer.

Given this dynamic, it is reasonable to assume that any other manufacturer would have to spend much more to make a device that would rival the iPad.

Add the cost of a Windows 8 license and the additional cost of using an Intel processor, and it’s easy to see how any Windows 8 tablet by Intel would be priced in the $599 – $899 range.

However, as we have seen already, tablets that expensive don’t really sell much. When Apple is already offering an excellent tablet at $499, there is no way customers will try anything else that is priced much higher without any compelling reason.

To reduce prices a bit, manufacturers could go with ARM processors, but then their tablets wouldn’t support x86 Windows software, which is currently one of the major selling points for Windows 8 tablets.

If Microsoft does decide to bring down the license price for Windows 8, it would be leaving money on the table for each notebook or desktop sale. If it doesn’t, it won’t be able to gain the traction it needs to be successful in the tablet market.

With Android tablets now focusing on the low-end tablet market, and the iPad dominating the $500 price point, there is no way manufacturers would be able to sell enough Windows 8 tablets at a much higher price range.

This is why I think that Windows 8 is much better suited to touchscreen ultrabooks than standalone tablets. It’s hard to see a win-win scenario for Microsoft in the tablet market – one in which it beats the iPad in terms of market share as well as profit generated.

Analysts Suggest That Apple’s iPad Sales in December Quarter Stand at 13.5 Million

Last week, Apple updated its investors relations page to inform people that it will announce its earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2012 and host a live conference call regarding the earnings on Tuesday, January 24.  Since then, analysts and Wall Street have been predicting Apple’s numbers for last quarter. Today, a new survey of Wall Street and independent analysts reveals that all of them expect Apple to report a record iPad sales when it releases its December quarter financial results on January 24th. However, it should be noted that independent analysts usually have a 10 percent high average than the Street’s assumption of 13.5 million units.

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt polled 42 analysts and founded that their estimates ranged from 11.73 million to 19.47 million iPad units sold during the December quarter. Last quarter,  Apple announced that  fourth quarter profits rose nearly 54 percent to $6.62 billion driven by record sales of more than 11 million iPads and nearly 5 million Macs. I suppose, we can easily expect Apple to report a new record high for its iPad sales on January 24th. In fact, it is projected that this quarter will be a $40 billion quarter for Apple.

iPad sales December 11

The low estimate came from Gabelli & Co. analyst, Hendi Susanto, earlier in the December quarter, while the highest forecast came from Apple Finance Board’s, Alexis Cabot, earlier this month. According to Elmer-DeWitt, these numbers are considered outliers. When both groups are counted together, the prediction of 13.5 million iPad units would suggest a 90 percent growth in iPad sales year over year. Analysts have had trouble accurately projecting iPad sales since the tablet’s introduction in 2010.

Apple to Disrupt the Education Space Next?

Apple is sending out invites to an Education event that it will be holding on January 19, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. No details have been revealed yet, but it will likely be about what we’ve heard before: Apple’s January Media Event to Involve Digital Textbooks and Education

Apple Education Event

Apple is apparently working with textbook publishers to get their content on iBooks. It aims to revolutionize the education space, just like it did with music, video, apps and games in the past.

If Apple is able to get educational content onto the iPad, it could become the default device in schools across the country, boosting sales of the iPad and generating additional revenue through educational content downloads.

Rumors suggest that Apple plans to tie up with textbook publishers to get eBook versions of textbooks on iTunes U.

Apple is also expected to hold another event for the iPad 3 soon. We may also see an Apple TV announcement this quarter.

We will keep you updated with Apple’s education event. For now, check out our complete CES 2012 coverage: Techie-Buzz @ CES 2012

Apple iPad 3 Coming in March, Made by Pegatron?

While all other tech giants are trying to market their products on the crowded CES stage, Apple is getting coverage without lifting a finger, thanks to new rumors about the iPad 3, which is expected to be launched soon.

A new report by Digitimes suggests that Pegatron Technology, Apple’s new favorite Taiwanese OEM, will be manufacturing the iPad 3. It has already received a small volume of orders for the iPad 3, which is expected to be launched in March 2012. Pegatron will now focus on iPad production, while Foxconn will focus on iPhone production.

Pegatron has multiple clients including Apple, Asus, Toshiba, Acer, Fujitsu, Lenovo etc. It recently announced its quarterly results, with 31% revenue growth year-on-year. Assuming that the iPad 3 is a hit, which is very likely, Pegatron’s revenues will jump even higher in 2012.

The report also suggests that Apple will be launching the iPad 4 in October, right before the holiday season. Pegatron is expected to get an initial order of about 7-10 million iPad 4 units too.

While Digitimes’ reporting is hardly reliable, it’s highly likely that Apple will launch the iPad 3 in March, going by its yearly schedule in the past. However, a new iPad 4 in October is highly doubtful.

For now, check out our complete CES 2012 coverage: Techie-Buzz @ CES 2012

Fusion Garage is Dead; But the Controversies Still Live On

Fusion Garage, the company behind the JooJoo tablet, has been embroiled in controversies ever since it had its first falling out with Michael Arrington, who was supposedly a partner in the Crunchpad project, which was later renamed to JooJoo. The JooJoo tablet bombed as it launched after the Apple iPad, which quickly took over the entire tablet market.

After that, Fusion Garage went underground and resurfaced in August 2011 with its new offerings – the Grid 10 tablet and the Grid 4 smartphone. However, it seems like even those new products weren’t able to save Fusion Garage. According to a new report by Business Insider, Fusion Garage is officially done, and is liquidating its assets to pay off its creditors. It owes a total of $40 million to its creditors, which it won’t be able to pay off completely.

While bankruptcy is common in startups, that’s not all. An employee of Fusion Garage tweeted this:

“I’m amazed about how badly a company can screw up, I can’t imagine that many people will be left once the new company is formed.”

Apparently, Fusion Garage is trying to start a new company with its old employees, enabling it to avoid paying off its complete debt as the assets of the old company are hardly worth $40 million.

If you had pre-ordered the Grid 10 or Grid 4 from Fusion Garage, you will probably not be getting your money back.

It seems that Fusion Garage’s law firm and PR firm saw it coming. Both stopped working with Fusion Garage in late-2011, just around the time they started accepting pre-orders for the Grid 10 and Grid 4 devices.

Google Working on a $200 Android 4.0 Tablet?

It was revealed last month that Google was working on a new Nexus tablet powered by Android, which would be of the highest quality, according to a statement by Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google.

Despite being launched more than a year ago, Google hasn’t yet managed to gain much market share in the tablet space like it did in the smartphone market. Apple’s iPad still remains the best tablet money can buy, and dominates the tablet market by a wide margin.

Almost all the Android tablets released to date have been relative flops compared to the iPad. This is precisely why Google may have decided to take matters in its own hands, and show its device partners how it’s done. Until now, speculation has been that Google planned to target the Apple iPad with its Nexus tablet.

However, a new report by Digitimes suggests that Google may actually be going after the Amazon Kindle Fire – the most popular Android tablet by sales – with its Nexus tablet. Apparently, Google is working on a budget Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet priced below $200, to take on the Kindle Fire.

If Google does manage to create a good device at this price point, it should be able to grab market share from Apple quite easily. However, it will also alienate its own device partners, who will have to drop prices too, and still may not be able to compete with Google itself.

Google may also launch two tablets – a budget one to compete with the Kindle Fire, and a high-end one to take on the iPad.

iPad App Store Hits 3 Billion Downloads

App Store logo

The growth of Apple’s iPad has been mind blowing in all areas. In fact, when it first launched, it was  considered  to be a failure, but now the iPad has become a PC replacement for many. Apple’s iPad sales have not only been amazing, but App Store growth has been too.

Now ABI Research, a research firm, has announced in a press release that 3 billion applications have been downloaded since the iPad first launched in 2010. In addition, the iPad represents nearly a fifth of all cumulative iOS downloads, despite the fact that it debuted nearly three years after the iPhone, and two years after the iOS App Store opened. Also, it is  estimated  that 120,000 applications have been created specifically for the iPad  available on the App Store as of the third quarter of 2011. That number sounds consistent with news that appeared last June after the number of applications on the App Store passed 100,000. ABI’s data does not include iPhone applications, which can also be run from the iPad but do not take advantage of the iPad’s larger screen.

In the end, Android and Android tablets are still “winning” though. Yay, oh wait…

Apple to Launch the iPad 3 on Steve Jobs’ Birthday, February 24?

There have been two interesting rumors floating around the internet today. Both of them are related to the iPad 3, which Apple is expected to launch early next year.

The first rumor suggests that Apple may be planning to launch the iPad 3 on February 24, Steve Jobs’ birthday. They are rushing their Chinese OEM partners to speed up production of the iPad 3, in order to meet the deadline. If this is indeed the case, we should know it by the end of January, as Apple will probably announce the new iPad 3 by then. We do expect Apple to launch the iPad in Q3 2011, so it may turn out to be true. However, we would take it with a pinch of salt for now.

The other bit of speculation just confirms what we have suspected all along. Despite rumors that Apple may be working on a 7 inch iPad Mini, we have always stated that it’s very unlikely that Apple would make such a move. Despite the increasing popularity of cheap Android tablets, Apple has managed to continue dominating the tablet market in 2011, and captures a major portion of the profit in the entire tablet industry.

We expect Apple to launch a 9.7 inch iPad 3, and then lower the prices of the iPad 2, instead of launching a cheaper, smaller iPad. That has been its strategy in the past, with the iPhone and the iPad, and it has worked pretty well so far.

Apple iPad 2

Apple Ruled the Tablet Market in Q3 2011

IDC just released its report on the state of the tablet industry in Q3 2011. Worldwide tablet shipments grew nearly 24% in the last quarter with around 18.1 million tablets shipped in that period. IDC expects the growth in tablet shipments to continue going forward, and expects the total shipments in 2011 to reach 63.3 million units.

Apple’s iPad continues to rule the tablet market, and accounted for nearly 61.5% of all tablets shipped with sales of around 11.1 million units. However, it is slowly losing market share due to the growing popularity of cheap Android tablets. It is expected to lose more market share in Q4 2011, primarily due to the spectacular sales of the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Apple iPad

HP’s TouchPad fire sale gave it a 5% share of all tablet shipments in Q3 2011, and the third position after Apple and Samsung, which came second with a 5.6% market share. Barnes and Noble came fourth, with a 4.5% market share, thanks to continuing sales of the Nook Color.

Android tablets accounted for 32.4% of all tablet shipments in Q3 2011, but are expected to capture more than 40.3% market share in Q4 2011, thanks to the Amazon Kindle Fire. Even the launch of the Nook Tablet and other cheap Android tablets should help its market share in the coming years.