downward pc trend

Gartner announced that worldwide PC shipments dropped considerably in 2015:

  • Shipments for the fourth quarter of 2015 were 75.7 million units, an 8.3% drop from the number shipped in 4Q 2014, and
  • shipments for the entire year of 2015 were 288.7 million units, an 8% drop from the number shipped for all of 2014.

Their preliminary 2015 shipment estimates for vendors worldwide show that the top 6 vendors by shipment all experienced a drop in shipments (randing from 3% to 11%) with one notable exception — Apple, who say a nearly 3% growth:

worldwide pc shipments 4q14 vs 4q15

Click the graph to see it at full size.

In the United States, vendors fared a little better. While the top two vendors, HP and Dell, saw shrinkage (especially HP, whose 4Q shipments dropped 8.5 from the previous year’s number), Apple and Lenovo made significant gains (a decent 6.5% and a stunning 21.1%, respectively), and Asus stayed even:

us pc shipments 4q14 vs 4q15

Click the graph to see it at full size.

We’ve been seeing this trend for some time. Global PC sales peaked in 2011 with just over 365 million units, and since then, sales have been cooling at an average rate of just under 6% per year:

global pc sales 8-year low

Click the graph to see it at full size.

IDC have released similar numbers, but their reported drop in worldwide PC shipments is even bigger: 10.6%, with the observation that “he year-on-year decline in 2015 shipments was nevertheless the largest in history, surpassing the decline of -9.8% in 2013.”

IDC cites a number reasons for the drop in PC shipments, which include:

  • Longer PC lifecycles,
  • falling commodity prices and weak international currencies,
  • “social disruptions” in EMEA and Asia/Pacific that affected foreign markets, and
  • last, but certainly not least, competition for technology consumer dollars from mobile devices, even though their growth has been reduced to single digits.

PC sales are now dwarfed by smartphone sales these days — the PCs sold in all of 2015 don’t even amount to as much as the smartphones sold on average for any given quarter of 2015. Here’s how many PCs and smartphones shipped in the previous quarter:

worldwide pc shipments vs smartphone shipments

Click the graph to see it at full size.

And to further drive home the point that it’s an increasingly mobile world, here’s Horace Dediu’s recent tweet, in which he declares that iOS alone — never mind Android — overtook Windows last year:

We’re well and truly living in the mobile era.

this article also appears in the GSG blog

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Poster: Get Your Game On! / Getting started with building iOS games in Sprite Kit / Tampa iOS Meetup - Tuesday, january 19, 2016 -- A hodgepodge of iOS gaming-related imagery.

Happy new year, experienced and aspiring iOS developers in the Tampa Bay area!

If you’ve made a new year’s resolution to take up iOS, Swift, or game development in 2016, the upcoming Tampa iOS Meetup topic might be just what you need to get started. It’s called Get Your Game On: Getting Started with Sprite Kit, and it’s taking place in Tampa next Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Tampa iOS Meetup banner with photo of Joey deVilla and Angela Don in the background.

Tampa iOS Meetup is a monthly meetup run by local mobile developer/designer Angela Don and Yours Truly. While Tampa has a couple of great iOS developer meetups — Craig Clayton’s Suncoast iOS and Chris Woodard’s Tampa Bay Cocoaheads — they’re aimed at intermediate- to expert-level iOS developers. We figured that there was room for a third iOS meetup in the Tampa Bay area, and especially one that focused on people new to iOS development or even development in general. So we made one.

Tampa iOS Meetup’s next meetup: Get Your Game On!

Icons of iOS games appearing to leap off the screen of an iPhone.

“Games” is the most popular category in the iOS App Store, accounting for 22.5% of active apps. They’re more than twice as popular as the next-most-popular category, business apps. Look in any place where people are waiting these days — in line at the bank or grocery, at public transit stops and airports, cafes and restaurants — and you’ll see people passing the time with a mobile game. Gaming is a basic human activity — we’ve had them since our earliest days, and we’ve had computer games for almost as long as we’ve had computers.

Despite the fact that games are the most-used type of mobile app, there are far fewer game development tutorials than there are for “standard” apps. That’s a pity, because one of the best ways to learn programming is satisfaction, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a game you created in action. While games can be complex, the concepts behind them are simple, and some of the most popular games are pretty simple as well. Why not try game development as a way to learn programming, Swift, and iOS?

Animated scene showing 'Flappy Bird' gameplay.

Join us next Tuesday, January 19th at the Tampa iOS Meetup and start the new year by getting your game on!

The Details

  • What: Tampa iOS’ Meetup’s “Get Your Game On” session. Please sign up on our Meetup page so we can plan accordingly!
  • When: Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. We’ll have some snacks at 6:30, with the presentation beginning at 7:00.
  • Where: Energy Sense Finance, 3825 Henderson Boulevard (just west of Dale Mabry), Suite 300. See the map below.
  • What to bring: Yourself, but if you’d like to follow along, bring your Macbook and make sure it’s got Xcode 7.2.
  • What to read in advance: If you’re one of those people who likes to do some readings ahead of a presentation, check out the Sprite Kit tutorials on Ray Wenderlich’s site. We’ll be using our own tutorial material, but Ray’s stuff will come in handy.

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We’re in the phablet era now

Chart: Time spent on mobile grows 117% year over year.

Click the graph to see it at full size.

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson looked at research firm Flurry’s State of Mobile 2015 report and took note of the chart above, which shows that the greatest growth in time spent on mobile came from “phablets” — those large phones that blur the line between phone and tablet — and wrote:

There’s not a lot new in this data to be honest, but it confirms a lot of what everyone believes is happening. We are converging on a single device format in mobile and that’s driving some important changes in usage. We are in the phablet era.

Everything I needed to know about good user experience I learned while working in restaurants

Waiter and cook working in a restaurant.

At the Neilsen/Norman Group’s blog, Everything I Needed to Know About Good User Experience I Learned While Working in Restaurants lists the many things that you can learn from restaurants and apply to your applications, from designing for both new and expert users to interaction design and error handling to community management.

If you’re not familiar with the Nielsen/Norman Group, they’re the “Monsters of Rock” of user interface and experience. Their principals are:

The cautionary lessons of Evernote’s “5% problem”

An out-of-focus Evernote icon.

Evernote used to be my go-to note-taking app in 2011. I worked across platforms, and I loved that I could start a note on my laptop, continue on my iPad, and then later make tweaks or addenda on my phone. But as time went by, it got buggier and increasingly less usable to the point where I abandoned it worse and buggier until I abandoned it in annoyance.

Their note-taking app got buggier as the company tried to expand so that they had offerings that would appeal to as many people as possible. Therein lay their problem: as their own former CEO put it, people at Evernote conferences would go up to him and say that they loved the platform, but used only 5% of what it could do. The problem was that there was a different 5% for every person. They spread themselves too thin, lost their focus, started half-assign their product lines, and in an attempt to please everyone, ended up annoying them.

Keep calm and carry on developing Android apps

The classic 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster.

You may have heard that the ongoing legal battle between Oracle (who own Java) and Google (who own Android, which is Java-based) has led to Google’s decision to move from their proprietary version of the JDK to Oracle’s OpenJDK. You may be concerned, but you probably shouldn’t be. It may cause headaches for Google and Android mobile phone vendors, but as Android developers, it shouldn’t really affect you.

As Android developer and online tutor Tim Buchalka puts it:

We write our code accessing the same libraries, and things just work. Of course its going to be a decent chunk of work for Google to get this all working so that we dont have to worry about it, but if anyone has the resources to do it, Google do.

What do you need to do as an Android developer? Absolutely nothing, its business as normal! You dont need to change anything in your development process and it may well be that when Android N arrives you won’t have to either. So fire up Android Studio, and get back to coding!

A story you might not know about Microsoft Solitaire: it was created by a summer intern!

Screen shot of Microsoft Solitaire on Windows 3.1

Is Wes Cherry a bit annoyed that he never got paid to write one of the most-used applications of the Windows 3.x/9x days? He once answered “Yeah, especially since you are all probably paid to play it!”

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The five key phases of software development

by Joey deVilla on December 28, 2015

This photo of someone’s answer to a computer science exam question has been making the rounds:

5 key phases of software development

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I have no idea if they’re still teaching the waterfall model of software development in universities these days, but judging from the exam question, I suspect the “correct” answer to the question was this:

waterfall phases

While psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief wasn’t the answer the professor was looking for, I’d have awarded the student a couple of points if I were marking the exam.

Consider these recent stats for major software projects:

On second thought, I think that student should get full marks for his/her answer.

Thanks to Peach Flambée for the find!

also appears in linkedin

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Episode IV: The Empire strikes out (on their pen test)

by Joey deVilla on December 23, 2015

Star Wars Episode IV.1.d: The Pentesters Strike Back from CyberPoint International on Vimeo.

While the Empire in Star Wars had a lot of fearsome war machinery, a rag-tag gaggle of rebels was able to defeat them thanks to their terrible computer and network security. The folks at the security company CyberPoint have taken clips from A New Hope (a.k.a. Episode IV, a.k.a. “The Original”) and used them to make a funny video that illustrates the many security mistakes that even the biggest organizations make with securing — or more accurately, failing to secure — their systems.

I know of a number of places whose systems were bamboozled by the system equivalent of the Jedi mind trick…

spoofing

…and it’s amusing how many open USB ports there are in the Star Wars universe for R2-D2 to plug into and start injecting malware…

malicious dongles

…and while it’s forgivable for a 1970s screenwriter to not think that the Death Star’s tractor beam controls wouldn’t have some kind of way of preventing use by unauthorized parties, I’ve seen real-world, 21st-century organizations who should know better do exactly the same thing:

no authentication

In the spirit of all the current nerd hoopla about the new Star Wars movie (and yes, I’ve already seen it, and will probably see it again over the holidays), go watch the video and have a laugh at the Empire’s woefully inadequate security. Then go patch up your own organization’s weak spots. Kudos to CyberPoint for putting together the video, and here’s hoping Disney’s lawyers don’t send them a takedown notice.

I’ve got to give CyberPoint bonus points for using video from the original, non-special-edition version of Episode IV, complete with the English labels on the tractor beam controls (the Special Editions show all text in Aurebesh, the space alphabet), and theold-school ring-free Death Star explosion:

old school

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the first web server

Note the sticker on its chassis, which reads: “This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER DOWN!”
Creative Commons photo by “Coolcaesar” at Wikipedia. Click the photo to see the source.

In this weekend’s collective geeky euphoria over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the 25th anniversary of the first web page has gone largely unreported. It was on December 20, 1990 when the NeXT computer pictured above served it, kicking off what I consider to be the world’s most successful side project.

The folks at CERN tweeted about the anniversary in the wee hours of the Eastern Time Zone…

…and so far, it seems that the only tech site to It some commemoration of this historic event is Engadget. That’s a shame, for as they put it:

It’s more of a platform than a bunch of documents, and it’s now available on everything from the phone in your pocket to a display on your head. However, its core remains the same: it’s a vital, dynamic tool for sharing information around the planet. Barring surprises, you’ll likely be surfing the web by the time the first site marks its 50th birthday.

The world’s first web page still lives on today in its original, very plain form at the same URL, http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, with the exact same content. If you’d like to see it the same way a lot of people did back then, go to CERN’s Line Mode Browser page and enjoy it in all its monochromatic green glory:

first web page in line-mode browser

My first experience with the Web was in the fall of 1994 on the NCSA Mosaic browser at Queen’s University on a terminal running X, followed soon by Mosaic running on my Mac Quadra 660AV. A number of my friends first experienced it on Windows 3.1, where the first web page looked like this:

first web page in mosaic for windows browser

As for the inventor of the web, he’s done quite well for himself. How many developers get to take part in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, never mind for their technological achievements?

tim berners-lee

Here’s a quick video featuring Sir Tim talking about how the web went from idea to reality, and his continuing hopes for the platform:

To close this article, I’ll leave you with Sir Tim’s TED talk from last year, A Magna Carta for the Web, in which he reminds us that the fight for openness and access, for net neutrality and against filter bubbles and centralized corporate control, continues:

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lumia

Creative Commons photo by “Entirely”. Click to see the source.

The market research and analysis firm IDC says that 2015 will be “the first full year of single-digit worldwide smartphone growth”. Their prediction is that 2015’s smartphone shipments will make up 1.43 billion units, which represents a growth rate of 9.8%.

Some notes takes from their press release:

  • There are still some areas of the world that will see double-digit growth. While sales growth is slowing in most of Asia/Pacific, Western Europe, and Latin America, the hot spots are in the middle east, Africa, India, and Indonesia.
  • Cheap phones are expected to drive faster replacement cycles. As they put it in their press release, “the components that comprise a sub-$100 smartphone simply do not have the ability to survive two years.”
  • More higher-end devices will be sold through financing plans. One example they cite is of Apple taking the reins by introducing their own financing: “Apple has taken the lead with its iPhone Upgrade Program, and several other vendors are expected to implement similar plans in the months ahead. These plans could represent the most effective way to get flagship devices into the hands of consumers while speeding up the upgrade cycle through trade-in and incentives.”

Here’s how the smartphone market share for mobile OS vendors looks like, according to IDC’s numbers:

smartphone market share dec 2015

TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm took note of IDC’s prediction for the fate of Windows as a mobile OS:

idc on windows phone sales march 2015

This is a far cry from their wacky 2011 prediction, in which they said that one in five smartphones would be a Windows Phone in 2015:

idc on windows phone sales march 2011

They were so sure that the combination of two industry giants, Microsoft and Nokia, would create a juggernaut that would bring the Windows Phone OS to the number two position, ahead of iOS and BlackBerry.

To quote their press release:

“The new alliance brings together Nokia’s hardware capabilities and Windows Phone’s differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android.”

Gartner’s 2011 predictions for the 2015 smartphone market weren’t all that different:

But the prize for the most comically-wrong prediction about the 2015 smartphone market has to go to Pyramid Research, who predicted that Windows Phone would take over the number one spot:

As the late great Yogi Berra said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”.

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