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Comment Re:Not enough to cut budget product lines. (Score 1) 40

What does it mean to make a 'superior' product anymore?

The low end is built on no margins. They just don't have the economies of scale to compete at the low end; I think that much is clear. You can't compete on price anymore, because the next guy can sell for a penny less, and that may be your entire profit margin. That's not hyperbole--at some point HTC (I'm pretty sure it was HTC) was making an average profit of only 1-2c per phone. Untenable.

So you need a product differentiator--and what is that? You run the same OS as everyone else, everyone hates it when you mess with the default OS skin, so...hardware features? But differentiating on that basis requires pretty big features now; things that nobody has, by definition. The only way to recoup that sort of outlay is by going to the high-end.

HTC can no longer afford to care if you can't afford their phones. They have to move up-market because that's the only place where they have any potential to make money, and they can cut the costs of sourcing lower-spec components and designing those lower-spec phones. They can move this year's model down one tier next year, and sell that as their 'discount' phone since they'll hopefully already have made enough money on those phones that any additional sales are basically just pure profit.

If they don't make money at the high end, they're doomed as a handset maker; there's nowhere else to go except out of this market.

Comment Whether you use Android or iOS (Score 1) 91

...I hope that we can come together and agree that it's sad and hilarious that companies like Gartner exist and consistently make such completely asinine predictions about anything at all.

Every year some analyst predicts something absolutely stupid that all of us know is impossible. I hope whoever made this call knows that they are bad and they should feel bad.

Comment Elisp is a Friday afternoon language (Score 2) 149

So during the week, I get my normal work done, but on Friday afternoons, if I've been frustrated with some part of the build system I've written or I want to make something about my process better, I work on tinkering with emacs. Few people need elisp as their main language, but if they're using emacs, they're working in elisp on the weekends to make the rest of their week more liveable.

Comment Re: What brand of hammer? (Score 2) 149

Well, emacs lisp is the language that all the extensions and most of the editor is written in, so yes, it matters. The SDKs I'm provided to work on game consoles are all in C++, so we work in C++.

The fact that all these languages are tiring complete doesn't do away with their advantages or disadvantages. In the real world, these choices have consequences.

Comment Re:My DZ09 (Score 1) 406

It isn't expensive in comparison to other fitness watches, actually. I've priced out Garmin and Suunto watches of various kinds, and they're all on par with the Apple Watch. A watch that can track swimming strokes AND has a GPS in it is a surprisingly expensive piece of kit. When you look at it like that, the Apple Watch is a bit of a bargain. The Garmin Swim watch can track strokes, but has no HR monitor, 'smart watch' capabilities or GPS. The Garmin VivoActive is more smart-watchy, but there's no HR monitor built in; that comes extra. The Garmin Fenix watches are huge and capable but still don't have built-in HR, and start in the $450 range.

Good fitness watches cost money.

Comment Re:Apple has ONE PRODUCT (Score 1) 406

Oh please. This is absolutely ridiculous.

The iPhone isn't merely 'successful', it's the most profitable product ever sold in the history of anything ever. It's a device whose success is so great, Apple makes more money than OIL COMPANIES.

The Mac, iPad and iWatch segments are all individually so popular that each one would make a very profitable Fortune 500 company. iPad sales are certainly down, but it's still making an absurd amount of money. Mac sales were UP this year. UP. (To be clear: I think how they've abandoned the Mac Pro is a travesty; and to my mind they're spending a lot of their time on the wrong things.)

Apple's failures make more money than other companies' successes. How is it that the iWatch doesn't count as an outright success when Amazon's Echo seems to be every tech writer's darling?

"The iPhone is successful." I don't know that I've ever seen someone undersell the success of something so much. You may as well say that "the sun's pretty warm" or "the universe is pretty big, I guess". Yeesh.

Comment Re:But I thought the headphone jack was all-import (Score 1) 131

Those numbers are speculation, and you should probably be able to guess that they're bad or incomplete speculation by the ASP numbers that Apple released. I suspect that at best, the 17% number they cite is for iPhone 7 units and not iPhone 7 Plus.

Also, how would that stack up historically? Is that normal? 17% on its own is a useless number without context.

But it seems incredibly unlikely that Apple would be able to pull down such a monstrous profit by selling the older phones.

Comment This is why people like(d) Apple branded stuff (Score 1) 173

It's not just the aesthetics, though that's a big part of it. Apple overbuilt a lot of their peripherals, even though they could've made them much cheaper. But they weren't flimsy and I don't recall a time where interference was a problem. We don't know if Apple would've made a better monitor today, but past experience makes me think that they probably would've. User experience out of the box is (used to be?) priority one, and it's what's kept so many of us loyal for so long.

Comment Re:I don't get it... but maybe I'm not supposed to (Score 2) 116

As a game developer, I'll tell you honestly that in theory, Nintendo is right. Powerful consoles need huge pipelines. Games for XBox 1 and PS4 take hundreds of people to make, and every time the power goes up, our team sizes scale up accordingly. Game engines don't magically provide content on their own. Marshalling data into memory takes a non-zero amount of time. We need more animations, bigger textures, and more people working on AI, trying to make it seem better. (Spoiler: all AI in games is mainly smoke and mirrors; there's very little 'AI' going on there because it's wholly impractical.)

So making smaller games that play better on more limited consoles is a perfectly reasonable way to go. Indeed, we can see that when it comes to mobile platforms--platforms that are inherently more limited--Nintendo does very well. They've managed to keep that business going even in the face of the smartphone revolution that everyone thought would wipe Nintendo out.

The problem is that for the last couple generations, Nintendo hasn't provided a very compelling experience for developers OR gamers when it comes to their home consoles. A less powerful console is fine, Mario games can be great, Zelda is an excellent IP, etc. But you have to sell enough consoles to make it worth the while of 3rd party devs to come on board, and you have to make good tools for them to make games. I haven't personally worked on the Wii or Wii U, but I haven't heard anything good about those dev environments. (By comparison, I loved working on the PS4 and the XBox 360 before that. The PS3 was a complicated mess, and the XBone had terrible dev tools at the beginning.)

Anyway, the premise itself isn't incorrect, but Nintendo's execution of it hasn't been great. Nintendo should be leveraging its nostalgia value as hard as it can to get consoles out the door. Bundle Mario or Zelda in the box, make old Virtual Console games cheaper, whatever. Just get the consoles out the door. I *personally* think that the Switch looks ideal for me; I want to be able to play on the TV sometimes and in the bedroom sometimes. But if you want to attract the bulk of gamers, you'll need a solid 3rd party effort, and the only way to solve the chicken and egg problem of no games means no sales means no devs means no games is to bootstrap it yourself with your own great IP and marketing power.

Comment I suspect numbers are stable (Score 4, Insightful) 501

I can't really back this up with any data, but it's my speculation that all the people that NEED PCs are still getting them. What we're seeing in the area is that people that never actually needed everything a normal PC offers have migrated to phones and tablets. If you're just doing email and Facebook, a desktop machine is overkill, but there was no other choice for a long time.

There will always be programmers working on these sorts of "open" machines. We need them for academic and industry work and there's not any way that's going to change. Apple itself will always be a maker or a purchaser of those sorts of machines themselvesâ"OSes can't be made on heavily restricted machines.

Comment Re:What do you know. (Score 1) 246

That would have been NICE of them to do. But I hardly would say the test was invalid.

These aren't scientists on some sort of fact-finding mission, trying to root out the causes of hardware behavior. They're writing consumer reviews, using default software (which in this case is actually software MADE by Apple). Why exactly should their testing protocol require them to check 3rd-party software's performance (which, if it came out more poorly, would probably receive complaints from Apple fans -- "Why didn't they test it with default stuff?").

I've got a quibble here. They're writing consumer reviews, as you say, but they're disabling the cache, something that users don't do. And do they want to give the best user-facing test or not?

Either they want to do the best possible test that gives the most accurate results and give the best advice or they don't.

As for my conspiracy theory, CR has been in a bit of decline for years for the same reason that most older media has been. Their model doesn't work as well as it used to with the abundance of free, excellent reviews online.

I'm not really intent on deflecting blame from Apple, I just don't like Apple being blamed for the wrong things. I think there are more pertinent problems with the MacBooks Pro, and it was obvious from the outset that CR had done something goofy. They were literally the only testing site that found massive problems with the battery life, and they didn't sit down and go, "Gee, I wonder why Ars Technica didn't mention the battery life was awful?" It's an absurd attitude to take.

Comment Re:Falling sales not a huge surprise (Score 1) 336

The same battery life is due to a slightly smaller volume battery, obviously. Apple has targets for battery life, and all they've ever tried to do is hit them. This is pretty well known. They appear to aim for about 10 hours of usage, and a CPU that's more efficient for clock is going to get better battery life all things being equal, but Apple took battery out to make space for other things. That's how it goes. (A word on whether people care about the speed of the processor: obviously they do, but it's a bit hidden. My iPhone 6 isn't going to run the newest apps as well as the 7, which is just how it goes. Applications will inevitably consume all available resources, and people will notice when their phones seem to be behind more than they'll notice that the 7 is ahead. That's as it should be.)

The iPhone 7 camera is better no matter which model you look at, even before you get to portrait mode. The standard 7 has optical image stabilisation, which is important. The 2x zoom on the 7 Plus may be a gimmick, but it's a real optical zoom. Portrait mode is definitely something of a trick and a whole lot of fakery, but the actual hardware is actually better.

Whether or not the iPhone 7 ends up being more compelling to the customer isn't really the argument that I'm making. The original claim is that it was 'barely different', and that's *not true*. There are very few shared parts between the 7 and any of its predecessors. You can measure the ways in which the iPhone 7 has changed; these are empirical facts, not subjective evaluations.

Again, Apple may be failing to make a compelling case to why you should upgrade, and perhaps their priorities are misaligned with what the market desires. But to say the phone isn't different isn't true.

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