Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Xbox One

I remember the first day that I got my Xbox 360.  I remember longing for the days of playing HD games without having to constantly upgrade my PC with expensive graphical cards and the latest CPUs.  The gaming consoles long solved that problem by packing in tons of power into a little box.  The 360 was no different.

It has twice the memory of the PlayStation 3.  It had HD graphics, while the Wii did not.  I was completely blown away by the quality and theater sound you could get out of this little machine that cost less than $400.  I remember that day very well.  What I also remember should've included a TV capture card so Windows Media Center could be your DVR. 

Fast forward till today.  While there's no explicit mention that the Xbox One would have DVR functionality, what was clear it was taking the next major step at controlling your family room entertainment.  You have voice controlled functions powered by the Kinect 2.  Turn on your Xbox by saying "Xbox on", switch channels by speaking their name.  Accept Skype calls and watch TV at the same time.  Finally picture in picture that makes sense.

The Xbox One will clearly change how we watch and enjoy TV, play games and interact with one another.  Some of the amazing new features is game pausing and picking it up where you left off, even if you are picking up the play from your friend's house.  You can record your games, maybe even share those experiences on Vine or Facebook. 

Kinect 2 can detect your heart rate.  Yes, it can even tell if you are working too hard and let you know if you need to slow down.  It can detect wrist movements and more granular motions and movements.  An improved voice recognition system that can learn and detect multiple people's voices at the same time.  You can play in a smaller area (Yes!) and with up to six people.  You have HD video capture on multiple visible and invisible light waves.

The Xbox One doesn't stop there.  It has a fully working version of Windows 8 on it.  Microsoft has longed to set this up.  They have a single host operating system that runs the Xbox system, Windows and another system that talks to both. What does this mean for the non-geeks out there?  It means that you can play games, interact with Win 8 apps and do them at the same time.  Its two gaming environments packed into 'One' box. 

Add in Blu-Ray support, cloud supported gaming, where the 300,000 Microsoft servers process heavy tasks so your Xbox One doesn't have to, upward support for 3D, 4K video and much more.  Tack on IllumaRoom and the possibility of augmented reality glasses and we've got the Star Trek holodeck in the year 2013!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 sales surge in Q1 2013

With the first quarter sales coming out, there happens to be a lot of good news for the Softies from Redmond.  IDC has been reporting that Windows Phone 8 has outsold iPhone in 7 markets and have reached the “critical 10% in multiple markets” and continue to gain ground on both Android and iPhone in the all-important US market. 

While there are a lot of various reports, Gartner, Kantar, IDC, etc. they all show a common theme.  Windows Phone 8 has grown on average by 20% YoY (Year over Year).  iPhone sales are flat to declining, Android has shown all three (declining, flat and slightly growing %’s) and Blackberry falling off the planet. 

Verizon will be launching the Nokia’s flagship 928 in the coming weeks.  T-Mobile will be following suit with their own variant.  Nokia has the lion’s share of the Windows Phone 8 market, hovering around 80—85%.  HTC has second place with a double-digit share with everyone else in the low singles. 

You can expect Windows Phone 8 to continue their steady climb up.  Many analysts expect they should have 20% share by the end of 2014.  At the pace they are climbing this seems a very realistic goal. 

Looking over the aisle to Windows 8, the Surface Pro continues to amaze with its market penetration.  Amazon Kindle took the world by storm around 18 months ago.  Their sales were so impressive they came out with 4 new tablet variants last holiday season. 

In the same 6 months, Microsoft Surface has gained nearly 50% on the Kindle.  As Microsoft expands the Surface Pro sales into various markets, you can be rest assured that those sales will skyrocket. 

Microsoft has been rumored to be looking at a 7” tablet and 5”+ Windows Phone.  More profiles, more options and more markets will translate to deeper penetrations.  

Intel spoke about tablets running their new processors will be around $200.  If WinTel is able to pull off a $200-$300 tablet PC that runs Office 2013, touch/pen and has that awesome cover-keyboard, no competitor will have a solution to match.