Start up: smartwatches are go!, tablets shrink, bitcoins all spent?, Yahoo keeps growing in search, and more


What’s Apple up to with its privacy drive? Photo by dmelchordiaz on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Pebble has now sold over 1 million smartwatches » The Verge

While Google and Apple have been getting the lion’s share of attention for smartwatches lately, indie darling Pebble has been quietly soldiering on, improving its product and selling watches. In an exclusive interview, CEO Eric Migicovsky revealed that the company shipped its one millionth Pebble on December 31st of last year. That’s more than double what Pebble reported in March, indicating that price cuts and new feature additions later in the year successfully boosted sales figures.

Pebble’s biggest and most visible competitor so far has been Google’s Android Wear, which launched in the middle of 2014 and is found on devices from Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony, and Asus. Google has yet to reveal how many Android Wear watches have been sold in the six months or so it has been on the market, so it is difficult to determine if the platform is a success or not.

Google’s silence speaks volumes; it must know, surely? Also, how many of its employees are still wearing their LG smartwatch Christmas gift? A million is good going for Pebble. Seems like the smartwatch market will split three ways: Apple, Android, Pebble. (I have a Kickstarter Pebble, and recently rediscovered its usefulness through its step-and-sleep counting Misfit app.)


Worldwide tablet shipments experience first year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter while full year shipments show modest growth » IDC

Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market’s inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6m units.

“The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst, worldwide quarterly tablet tracker.

Apple, Samsung, Asus, Amazon, all lost share and sales; only Lenovo, third-largest, grew (by 0.3m), which may have been mainly in 2-in-1s. Amazon’s dropoff is dramatic in both the Q4 and full year. But remember that tablets are principally going to consumers, have saturated their market, and have a replacement period of around four years. Compare that to PCs, which go to companies and consumers, and were at some times replaced as rapidly as every two years.


New findings suggest nearly 90% of all bitcoin holdings already spent » CoinSpeaker

Nearly 90% of those who have purchased or mined Bitcoin may have already cashed out their holdings, it emerged this weekend. Before now, it was thought that just 36% of bitcoins had currently been spent or sold, an argument often used by both advocates and their adversaries to support the fact that Bitcoin is both likely and unlikely to succeed as an asset class over the long term.

The findings were posted by Reddit user intmaxt64 and are being revealed in the Bitcoin press for the first time here at Coinspeaker…

…the findings may indicate that the Bitcoin price has suffered directly as a result of the major holders of Bitcoin liquidating their holdings while claiming the opposite. Many of the potential sellers appear to be the same individuals and organizations who got buyers to purchase during 2011-2013, since the large quantities of unit exchanges happened during this time.

Very deep implications to this, including the potential to corner the market.


Yahoo gains further US search share in January » StatCounter Global Stats

January saw Yahoo further increase the gain it made in US search share last month, according to the latest data from independent website analytics provider, StatCounter. Google fell below 75% in the US for the first time since StatCounter Global Stats began recording data [in June 2008].

StatCounter Global Stats reports that in January, Google took 74.8% of US search referrals followed by Bing on 12.4% and Yahoo on 10.9%, its highest US search share for over five years.

This is desktop-only, of course, and it’s not a giant change. But US users are surely the most valuable ones. Take Firefox out of the equation, and Google’s share remains where it was (despite Google’s attempts to win them back)

So what sort of people use Firefox and don’t change their search engine back to Google? Well, there’s Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian’s US operation. Did she notice the change?

So why’s she sticking with Yahoo?


How new versions of Android work » Rusty Rants

Russell Ivanovic of Shifty Jelly, which makes Android and iOS apps:

People are often quick to mis-interpret these numbers. “iOS 8 adoption is at 64%, but Android 4.4, a version that’s years old isn’t even at that!”. There’s two things wrong with these kinds of comments. Firstly there are roughly 6-8x more Android devices than iOS devices in the world, depending on which market share numbers you use. This means that if a version of Android achieves 39% adoption, that’s a huge deal, and you could develop just for that platform and address a larger user base than targeting iOS 8 with its 64%. Secondly people confuse overall numbers, with actual numbers of people who buy apps. Here for example are the version breakdowns of people who buy Pocket Casts on Android:

So while Android 5.0 has less than 1% adoption in the overall Android ecosystem, 23% of our customers already run it. This makes sense when you put a bit of thought into these numbers. People that have the money to buy apps, and are passionate about Android, have up to date phones.

I find Ivanovic a necessary counterpoint to a lot of what one reads about Android and iOS. He’s sincere, and expresses his views directly. (He’s Australian, so..) One point about Pocket Casts is that it’s a podcast player. There are paid-for podcast players on iOS (Marco Arment, obviously) but it seems to me the opportunity is much larger because there’s no OS-level podcast app on Android as there is for iOS.

That said, Ivanovic’s points are still valid. It’s install base x amount paid that really matters for developers (and, to some extent, users, as they benefit from the availability of apps, driven by the size of the ecosystem). Also, he wrote this piece before today’s data about Lollipop share – 1.6% of all Google Play installs as of 2 February.


Apple on privacy, security and identity » Benedict Evans

Evans tries to connect the dots that Apple has left around, on the basis that products it has now – such as Apple Pay – are obvious in retrospect (TouchID + Passbook). With that in mind, why Apple’s focus on “privacy”, he asks:

it may also be that as our phones go from sharing pictures to unlocking our front doors, privacy becomes a much more valuable selling point. This might be one reason why Nest is being kept semi-detached at Google. Worrying that Google knows what you search for has always seemed to me rather like worrying that your bank knows how much money you have, but Google knowing when you get out of bed or unlock your front door might be different (though of course it gets a fair bit of this through Android). So, perhaps Apple is talking about privacy not because of its current products, but because it thinks privacy will be a real competitive advantage for future ones. Not the iPhones, but the Watch, or other wearables, or the connected home. There’s an interesting question here – is the big data dividend worth the privacy implications? Is it better to let Google know when you flush the loo for what it can tell you about your bowels, or would people really rather not? 


Why I’ve found that online communities on media sites always seem doomed to fail » Martin Belam

I used to work with Martin at The Guardian (he’s now at the Daily Mirror); he’s got great insights into how communities fail or work. His key points – “The behaviour of the regular users becomes self-limiting for the community as a whole” and “The community believes they are representative of the primary audience” are, to me, the essence of the problem.

As a reminder, I did a pseudo-economic analysis of why comments on media sites just don’t work, which comes down to “the crap drive out the good”. I think that’s what Martin’s saying in his first point, only more nicely. Also, as he notes:

At the moment we don’t have comments on the Mirror site where I work, and I must confess it is a slight relief not to be immediately called a twat every time I press publish, but equally I find sites without comments don’t feel as alive. You know an article has had an impact when it has generated hundreds of comments.

I’d disagree on that latter point. You know an article has generated hundreds of comments when it generates hundreds of comments. But if you read them, you might find there’s no actual impact at all – as in, the comments haven’t added to the sum of human knowledge in the slightest.


Apple Watch sightings picking up ahead of official launch » Mac Rumors

Juli Clover:

Due to the large number of employees testing the device, Apple Watch sightings in the wild have become more common over the course of the last few weeks. On the MacRumors forums, readers are aggregating photos and stories of device sightings, giving us an in-use look at the device that will be attached to many of our wrists in just a few short months.

One of the first major Apple Watch sightings occurred several weeks ago, when Vogue Editor Suzy Menkes snapped a photo of someone wearing the device. Rumors and speculation have suggested the arm in the photo could belong to Marc Newson, the designer who now works at Apple part time alongside Jony Ive.

The forums aren’t that helpful (lots of vague discussion); James Cook at BusinessInsider has wrapped the (few) pics together.

Though the iPhone was announced before its public release, the only person I recall ever being seen in public using it ahead of that was Steve Jobs. This quiet seeding and testing is quite different.

Of course – and ponder this for a moment – everyone’s got an internet-connected camera now. Maybe there were tons more iPhones in public testing in 2007. We just didn’t hear about them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s