A federal judge has ruled that Asus’ Transformer Prime tablet does not infringe on Hasbro’s Transformers trademark, in spite of the suit actually making sense. Just “Transformer”, or just “Prime”, might have flown right by Hasbro’s lawyers without a second look — those are words, after all — but putting the two together seemed like tempting fate. As expected, Hasbro took Asus to task in December.
But the judge has initially sided with Asus, saying that people were unlikely to confuse the tablet with Hasbro properties, noting they had also waited too long to file the suit.
As a little kicker on the story, court filings have revealed that the device has produced pre-order numbers that are, shall we say, less than legendary.
It’s not entirely fair, of course, to compare a fragmented and developing ecosystem like Android tablets to the world leader, the iPad. After all, you don’t look at a new local restaurant and say “yeah well, McDonald’s has served billions.” Selling at that volume is by far the exception, not the rule. At the same time, Asus is a big company with lots of ambition in the tablet and mobile computing space, so we can at least hold them to the standard of a large and established company.
So when court filings reveal that pre-orders for this poster child for Android 4 tablets (and it does look great) total a whopping 2,000 units as of a month ago, it’s kind of a letdown. That and 80,000 going to retailers worldwide make the device seem rather minor even in comparison to other Android products like the Nook Color and Kindle Fire. Is there a space for “premium” Android devices running just plain Android? The market seems smaller than big players like Asus would like to believe — or at least it is not growing as quickly as they expected.
As for the lawsuit: it’s not over, the judge has simply rejected Hasbro’s request to have sales of the Transformer Prime device halted. The case will continue to trial, and of course Hasbro has already vowed vengeance. They have a new series of toys related to the Transformers Prime TV show coming out this month, and don’t need any pesky tablets hogging the spotlight.
While we wait for the new iPad to officially take the stage in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook has just taken the opportunity to rattle off some impressive numbers for the company’s iOS devices. The company has sold a total of 315 million iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, with a full 62 million of those iOS-powered devices being sold in Q4 2011 alone.
It seems as though 2011 was a banner year for iOS hardware too — of the 315 million devices sold in total, 172 million of those post-PC units were sold in 2011. With the new iPad just waiting in the wings, it’ll be interesting to see how much more traction Apple will be able to eke out in the tablet space.
These three product lines alone accounted for 76% of Apple’s Q4 2011 revenue, and a quite a bit of Apple’s big Q4 performance can be pegged on the iPad’s popularity. According to Cook, 15.4 million iPads were sold during that quarter, which eclipses the sales performance of nearly every other major PC manufacturer during that same time period.
Though their iOS business means big bucks for Apple, it’s unlikely that they will be giving up their consumer computer business any time soon. Rather, with updates like Mountain Lion on the horizon, they’re looking to bridge the gap between a more traditional computing experience and a new, more mobile one.
It’s certainly a savvy move on their part — Apple can start off slow by roping people into their ecosystem with their portfolio of mobile iOS devices, and bring them deeper into the fold by reducing the friction between iOS and their desktop operating system. A person who was content with an iPod Touch may be more likely to consider a Mac for their next computer purchase if the lines between the experience the know and the experience their computer brings starts to blur.
Anybody notice something missing from Samsung’s Q2 results? Hint: it was the phone/tablet sales data. But why? Well, according to Samsung’s “new information policy,” phones and tablets data will heretofore remain a secret. “As competition intensifies, there are increased risks that the information we provide may adversely affect our own business,” said Samsung’s investor relations boss Robert Yi on the Q2 conference call.
Hmmm. Well what risks exactly is he talking about? Yi certainly refused to delve any further into the matter, but analysts expect it has quite a bit to do with the company’s current legal battle with Apple. This seems a little misleading, to be honest. Samsung and Apple’s beef is related to patents, focused on both design and software. Sales stats don’t really change that. Then again, if Apple can prove to the judge that Samsung’s “copycat” devices are cutting into its earnings, Samsung may face some trouble. I’m no lawyer so don’t quote me on that, but it’s a thought.
Another thought, which may not get the best reaction, has to do with our recent article about Android’s return rate. Whether that number is right or wrong, a mega-manufacturer of millions phones a year would rightly want to keep that data to itself.
Either way, analysts seem to agree that Apple is one bad mamma jamma to play rough with, and Samsung will probably continue to step lightly until this whole legal mess is over.
Today, at BIA/Kelsey’s “Deals 3D” conference in San Francisco, Dan Visnick, VP of Marketing at The Dealmap, shared some insights into the current landscape of daily deals. Dealmap, a repository of daily deals collected from over 350 sources, allows users to view local deals in map form, along with reviews and pertinent information — on the Web and on mobile. Both through its API and its DealExchange service, which allows businesses to easily distribute deals across various channels, The Dealmap is enabling new entrants to the space to quickly populate their applications with a bulk of deals.
Through the data the company has been collecting via DealExchange and beyond, Visnick said that it has become very clear that the industry is still very top heavy, as 80 percent of deals are offered by as few as 20 sources. Inventory, then, is still largely controlled by the top deal players, with nearly 70 percent of inventory controlled by 10 sources, and 40 percent controlled by the top two. I assume, though Visnick did not say specifically, that those two sites are none other than Groupon and Living Social.
Among the top sites, the average inventory for each market, Visnick said, is 6.25 per day — compared to the median inventory per day, which is 1.29. Thus, it seems that discrepancy in inventory between the bigs and the startups is still fairly significant, with half of the 350-plus deals sites only offering 1 to 2 deals per day.
And when it comes to national distribution, the majority of daily deals sites are in less than 10 big markets. Just under 20 percent of daily deals players are in a single market, while 69 percent of sites are in between 2 and 9 markets, meaning that nearly 90 percent of sites are in less than 10 markets. Of course, as Laura Hazard Owen of paidContent point out, this will likely change in the near future as the web giants like Facebook (which just partnered with AmEx to create a daily deals platform) and Google — those with established national networks — roll out their own versions.
In other notable trends, Visnick said that mobile is becoming a much bigger factor in the space, sneaking up to 32 percent of the deal space, compared to the web at 61 percent, and email at 2 percent. The mobile deals space has really started to heat up of late, with AT&T jumping into the daily deal game yesterday, offering daily deals through YP.com. Foursquare also announced last week that it would be distributing AT&T’s Deal of The Day to its 10 million+ users.
Yet, the most interesting trend of all cited by Visnick would have to be that 5 percent of all daily deals sites are now using some form of animal name. DealChicken, Rhino Deals, TownHog, Deal Stork, Rabbit Pack, and Rumba Fish are among the animal-related sites that come to mind. It seems that there’s just something about an animal that says “discount”.
Gadgets need to be rounded up and thrown in a cell right alongside meat glue, child pageants and other notorious public enemies. The crime? Stressing people out, according to researchers at Ipsos Mendelsohn. The evidence? A survey of affluent Americans with a household income over $ 100,000 who moaned that their lives are more “complicated” than they were a decade ago. Damningly, the vast majority of these respondents also admitted that their lives are more “technology-infused” than a decade ago. The researchers also highlighted evidence from a separate poll of affluents, showing the growing prevalence of certain gadgets that add to the “complex calculus” of our lives: E-reader ownership has doubled over the last eight months, smartphone ownership is up to 52 per cent, and a third of affluents either own a tablet or expect to buy one soon. Sufficient proof, it seems, to send these poor devices down for life — especially if we disregard all the other things have have stressed out rich Americans over the past decade (recessions, deficits, bad TV serials) and the possibility that busier people might actually need more technology to help them cope.
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Flickr maintains a live count of the cameras being used on the site, updating constantly with the latest models, showing trends, and so on. And if you head over to the Apple-branded cameras, you find an interesting, though not particularly surprising, statistic: almost nobody is using the iPad 2′s camera. Out of however many million of these things were sold, there are only 22 active iPad 2 camera users on Flickr. 22!
And really, why would you use the camera? It’s low-resolution, bad in dim light, and of course it’s on the back of a damn tablet. The sad thing is that it could be fun to use, but Apple just didn’t think a quality component there was necessary. Oh well, maybe they were right. I don’t see myself using a tablet camera much whether it’s crappy or decent.
The new Android tablets have better cameras, to be sure, but even the five-megapixel one on the Xoom is no star performer. I say up the sensor size, limit it to 1280×720, and focus on clarity and low light.
Gianfranco Lanci’s departure from Acer last month came as a bit of a surprise, but looking at some fresh PC shipment data from the IDC, we can now understand why it had to happen. In Q1 of 2011, Acer suffered a precipitous 42.1 percent drop in PC shipments to the United States, falling from 2.3 million units in the first quarter of 2010 to 1.3 million in the first three months of this year. That’s matched by a global downturn of 15.8 percent for the company’s computer business, taking its market share from 12.9 percent down to 11.2. A percentage point and a half might not seem like much, but in the high stakes business of selling high volumes of devices with low profit margins, that can clearly make the difference between winning and losing, between living and dying (as a CEO). On a happier note, Lenovo surged upwards by 16.3 percent globally amid a market that shrunk a little overall. The IDC — whose numbers are considered preliminary until companies confirm them in their quarterly financial reports — identifies Acer’s exposure to the shrinking interest in netbooks as the chief reason why it’s now having to reorganize itself. That overhaul is already underway with a new logo and some attractively priced tablets, but it’s likely to be a while before Acer gets back to challenging HP for world domination.
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Some infrastructure news for your Monday afternoon. Pretend this is Civlization V. TomTom has a new traffic database called TomTom Traffic Stats that makes it easier for BIG GOVERNMENT for study traffic patterns and the like. A sort of, “Hmm, maybe we should add a traffic light there, there seems to be a lot of slowing down and confusion as people approach the intersection.”
Government and other interested parties can make traffic inquiries, and within 24 hours “highly accurate and up-to-date traffic data analysis” will be at their fingertips.
The service isn’t free—TomTom has to pay the bills—but an evaluation license is available.
In case anyone from the National Transportation Safety Board reads CG!
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