Apple Wins the Holiday; Galaxy S8 May Have a Stylus Supporting Model; How About a Paper Airplane Machine Gun?

Ever since the Galaxy Note meltdown in late summer, the year has gone south for Samsung. Now that holiday figures are in, we know the extent. According to Flurry Analytics, if you got a phone for the holidays, it’s likely it was an iPhone. 44% of new phone and tablet activations were for Apple devices. Samsung didn’t quite hit half of that, with 21%. Huawei was a distant third at 3%, with 5 other phone makers tied for 4th at 2%. Medium phones are still most popular at 45%, but phablets are gaining fast…picking up 10% year over year to capture 37% of the form factor share.

A new rumor may throw a bone to Samsung’s hardcore Galaxy Note 7 fans. Bgr.com reports that there may be a ‘plus’ sized Galaxy S8 that will accept the S Pen stylus. The leak out of China says it won’t fit inside the phone, and will sell separately. Still, it’s a popular feature that may bring a lot of Note fans back to buy a new S8.

Everyone’s been to sporting events where they inspect for weapons and such. Everyone has also seen the occasional paper airplane sail down to the court or field. Now, gizmodo says you might see a blizzard of them without such checkpoints. A fellow named Dieter Krone has developed a 3D printed machine gun that folds and shoots 120 paper airplanes a minute! Take that, opposing team!


Dual Vertical Cams for iPhone 8; Amazon’s Holiday Moves a Billion Items; Microsoft-First Tech to a Trillion in Valuation; LG’s ‘Floating’ Speaker

Another week, another new iPhone 8 rumor…and this one has nothing to do with curved screens, all glass, or the like. Bgr.com has picked up a report from Japanese site macotacara that the 5 inch iPhone 8 will move to a dual vertical cam setup instead of the horizontal orientation on the 7 Plus. The phone is supposed to be a bit taller than the iPhone 7 but not as wide as the Plus, so it could just be a matter of internal real estate…or maybe an even more killer camera. Time…and rumors…will tell!

Amazon Prime killed it again for the holidays. The online giant shipped over a billion items between November 1st and December 19th, according to cnet.com. The Echo Dot was the most desired item, selling out. It just got back in stock today, but the regular Echo is out of stock until January 26th. December 23rd was the most popular delivery day for Prime Now…nice going, last minute shoppers!

Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella has had a rebirth, and is innovating and growing again. Geekwire.com says that following the acquisition of LinkedIn, analyst Michael Markowski of Equities.com claims Microsoft will be the first tech company to hit a market valuation of a trillion dollars, beating out Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook.

If you didn’t get an Amazon Echo with Alexa for Christmas, you might be coveting LG’s latest…which they just teased, and will show at CES next week It’s the PJ9 Bluetooth speaker, and it floats in midair above its base! 9to5mac.com reports that powerful magnets do the magic trick. It’s battery powered, and when it gets low, it lands on its base and wirelessly recharges itself! LG claims the 360 degree sphere has ‘deep bass, flush midrange tones, and crisp highs.’ We’ll find all that out plus the price and availability at CES next week.


Apple Publishes First AI Paper; Google Pixel Owners Seeing Problems; Lots More Tech IPOs in 2017

Aside from some cryptic words from CEO Tim Cook, Apple hasn’t said much about AI…even though they have a team working on that, as well as VR and AR. Now, macrumors.com reports that Apple AI team members have been allowed to publish a paper on digital images, and how AI can be used to decipher and understand digital images…kind of like Siri or Photos facial recognition, but more advanced. A big challenge appears to be that the AI does well with computer generated images, but not so well on real world objects and pictures. It figures. Stay tuned.

People are generally happy with the new Google Pixel phones…Google’s first phone it designed from the ground up..BUT…some are reporting problems. According to bgr.com, a growing number have reported the phones freezing up for minutes at a time for no apparent reason. A hard reboot clears the problem if you don’t want to just wait and stare at your phone. Other issues include alarms that won’t ring, the inability to play music or video content, and in some cases, the inability to make or even receive calls. So far, only a few hundred phones seem to be affected.

The year 2016 was pretty stingy as far as tech IPOs go….there were only 13, according to techcrunch.com. There may be enough pent up demand to see between 30 and 50 initial public offerings in the tech sector in 2017. Depending on what the incoming administration does with rules that separate investment bankers and equity research analysts could bump it even more…but might steer us towards another bubble like the dot com one…buckle up.


iPhone 8 May Be A Rare Find Next Year; Google May Add Hondas to Self-Driving Fleet

We’ve been seeing reports for months about the exciting iPhone 8 with curved OLED screens that cover virtually the whole front, and have wireless charging and all. Apparently, it’s going to be a treasure hunt trying to get your hands on one next year. Bgr.com reports that the screens will probably be made by Samsung, but there’s a bottleneck…only one company….Canon Tokki, makes the 328 foot long, 85 million dollar machines that can build the OLED screens, and there’s a two year wait time to get one! A lot of folks may have to settle for a ‘boring’ iPhone 7s or 7s Plus next fall!

Google’s self-driving division Waymo is maturing beyond the funny little Googlemobiles with no steering wheel or pedals. According to businessinsider.com, Waymo…which has rolled out a fleet of Fiat Chrysler minivans and had previously had Lexus SUVs running their system, is now in talks with Honda about integrating Google’s self-driving system into a fleet of Honda cars. Google is still shooting for Level 5 autonomy…which is the car driving itself completely autonomously with no human interaction or supervision.


Apple iPhone ‘Ferrari’; Wearables Market Hitting the Skids

As we’ve reported, it’s looking more and more like there will be 3 iPhone models next year….a couple of incremental upgrades to the 7 and 7 Plus, and a ‘wow’ factor model. Bgr.com reports that a new leak says the top line iPhone 8 is code named ‘Ferrari.’ The leak also outed the internal code numbers for the models. Interestingly, Chinese site cnBeta claims Apple will drop prices noticeably on the 7s and 7s Plus models to grab market share, with the 8 commanding a premium price…maybe even more than the present models do.

Apple still says its Watch sales are ‘doing great,’ without releasing figures to back that up, but according to a report from eMarketer picked up by techcrunch.com, wearables like the Fitbit and Apple Watch were supposed to grow 60% from 2015 to 2016, but only grew 25%. It should be pointed out that a lot of product categories would kill to have growth as high as 25%, but in a newish tech category, expectations are always high. Without making a clear case for people to want or need a smartwatch, those wearables in particular have failed to impress enough buyers. eMarketer expects wearable devices to hit 15.8% of the population this year, and 21.1% by 2020. Apple Watch did sell better in the runup to the holidays this year, but market watchers are skeptical that Apple alone can save the wearable category as a whole.


‘Great’ Desktop Macs Ahead; ’Tis the Season to Shop-Online; Hyundai ‘Affordable’ Self-Drivers Coming; AR Wearables Will Replace iPhones?

There was no mention of desktop machines at the MacBook rollout, but Apple CEO Tim Cook did post to an internal employee message board that Apple has ‘great desktops in our roadmap.’ According to theverge.com, Cook commented that the desktop is very strategic to Apple, noting ‘…you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop — the largest screens, the most memory and storage, a greater variety of I/O, and fastest performance.’ The iMac got a minor refresh last year, but the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in 3 years. Some analysts think it may be dropped.

Never let it be said that most shoppers aren’t bargain hunters. TechCrunch.com says this is the main thing driving online shopping, NOT convenience. A full 79 percent of us now shop online in the US…up from 22% in 2000! Over half of people have bought something via their smartphone. That said, in the PEW study, 65% of people said that…all things being equal, they would rather shop in a physical store. Price, time constraints, and availability of products often dictate going online, though.

Most of the self-driving cars we see in the pipeline are upscale models. Teslas are cool, but pricey. Mercedes, BMW, Volvo…none of them will have anything on the cheap. Hyundai is working on one, though, and they claim it will be a self-driver for the masses. Techcrunch.com reports that the Korean maker rolled out their tech this week, with rides in Vegas ahead of CES coming up in January. The cars look pretty close to stock Ioniq models…no big cluster of sensors on the roof…they do include four optical cameras behind the windshield, front and side facing LiDAR unit, front mid- and long-range radars and rear-facing radars, too…so they’re not exactly rolling blind! Hyundai hopes to have something on the road by 2019-21, but full self-driving may be a few years after that.

AR seems to be nearly the operating system of the future, if you talk to some people, and Apple analyst Gene Munster, who is striking out on his own after Piper Jaffray, thinks AR wearables may eclipse smartphones like the iPhone. Zdnet.com points out that although Munster has a very good track record, he has predicted an Apple branded TV several times, and we’re still waiting for that! Nonetheless, Munster says that in the next 10 years, we may all be using some type of wearable in PLACE of our pocket smartphone from Apple. The amount of miniaturization is staggering, to say nothing of batteries, but considering that the iPhone would by then be 20 years old…that’s a lifetime in tech!


iPhone 8-PLASTIC OLED Screen; Samsung Looks Elsewhere for Batteries; Amazon Fire Tabs Get Kids’ Reading App & Better Alexa

New reports about the Apple iPhone 8 indicate that Apple is ditching aluminum and glass for a PLASTIC OLED panel that curves all over. According to 9to5mac.com, this is the plan for the 8, with iPhone 7S and 7S Plus models retaining the current design and just getting upgraded internals. The 8 may also have wireless charging, but typical of Apple, you would have to buy the wireless charger extra…it won’t come in the box!

After the world wide flameout with the Galaxy Note 7, it looks like Samsung will look outside of his own battery division for phone batteries…turning to LG. CNET.com reports that the LG batteries probably won’t show up in Galaxy S8 and Note 8 models until the second half of 2017, however.

Amazon Fire Tablets are getting upgrades…techcrunch.com says they will have Amazon’s chat-based kids’ reading app. The app encourages young readers by presenting stories across multiple categories in the style of chat bubbles. The download is free with a 2 week trial, then is $2.99 a month. Alexa is also getting video support.