An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including more reports of lower-than-expected Windows 8 sales, a viable rumor about HTC tablets running Windows RT, Microsoft kills its Expression products, another analyst believes Windows Phone will establish itself as the third smart phone platform, Nokia and RIM mend fences, RIM nosedives further, Instagram still sucks, and Samsung makes a Windows Phone 7.8 promise to existing customers.
Microsoft Estimates Slashed on “Soft” Windows 8 Launch
With sales of Windows 8 PCs almost 20 percent lower than Microsoft expected internally during the first 30 days of availability, it was only a matter of time before clueless analysts picked up the baton and ran with this story. And now they have: An analyst from FBR Capital—nope, never heard of it either—this week slashed his estimates for Windows 8 sales in its first year in the market. “Initial adoption of Windows 8 and sales of Microsoft’s first tablet have been disappointing,” FBR’s David Hilal claims. “The Windows 8 commercial OS installed base will be smaller after one year than XP or Windows 7, although larger than Vista … [and] Windows 8 tablet sales will struggle to gain market share.” The firm believes that Windows 8 will represent less than 10 percent of all Windows usage after a year (so 130 million copies or less), and that “Microsoft faces an uphill battle given macro challenges and stiff competition.” To be clear, Windows 7 sold about 20 million licenses a month for its entire lifecycle, so Windows 8 needs to do the same, or about 240 million licenses sold in one year, to keep apace.
Rumor: HTC Will Make Windows RT Tablets
A rumor from the reliable Dina Bass at Bloomberg claims that smartphone maker HTC—which produces my favorite Windows Phone 8 handset, the 8X—has entered into a pact with Microsoft to produce 7- and 12-inch Windows RT tablets in 2013. (Windows RT is the ARM-based version of Windows 8, and it runs on a platform that is very similar to smartphone hardware.) This news is interesting no matter how you slice it, but I’m particularly intrigued by what I believe is the first information about a 7-inch Windows RT tablet. You may recall that Windows 8 and RT can be used on devices with 7-inch screens or higher (with Windows Phone 8 being relegated to devices with screens sized at 5-inches or smaller), though no devices of that size have yet to be officially announced. But don’t get too excited: The HTC tablets won’t arrive until Q3 2013, almost a year from now.
Microsoft Phases Out Expression Suite
Microsoft is phasing out its Expression suite of design applications—a sort of competitor to Photoshop and other high-end Adobe tools, I guess—with only one tool, Expression Blend, continuing, but as part of Visual Studio. (Blend is used to design app user interfaces.) As Microsoft notes on its Expression web site that Expression Studio 4 Ultimate and Expression Studio 4 Web Professional are no longer available for sale, while Expression Design 4 and Expression Web 4 are now available for download for free. Oddly, you’ll be able to purchase Expression Encoder 4 Pro through 2013, while Expression Encoder 4 remains available for download at no charge. While the Expression tools never sold very well, I do wonder why Microsoft is getting rid of them. Is it buying Adobe?
Someone Still Thinks Windows Phone Will Sell Well
With IDC finally chopping its previous (and insane) estimates for Windows Phone sales over the next five years, you’d think that everyone got the memo and that the smart phone world will simply consolidate around two main platforms, Android and iOS. But as it turns out, IDC believes that Microsoft will control about 11 percent of the smart phone market by 2016. And now someone else is agreeing with them. Analysys Mason claims that Microsoft’s partners will ship 136 million Windows Phone handsets through 2016—they’ve sold less than 15 million units in over two years so far—good for a bit less than 10 percent market share. That’s a big enough number to put Windows Phone in third place behind Android (58 percent market share) and iPhone (23 percent). Is this the new normal?
Nokia and RIM in Suicide Pact
With both companies spiraling down the drain, Nokia and RIM this week resolved a patent licensing battle dating back to an agreement from 2003. Nokia had sued the Blackberry maker in November, charging RIM with breach of contract. But all is well now, and with RIM making a “one-time payment and on-going payments” to Nokia, all is really well. See: Money really does solve all problems.
RIM Revenues Slide as Users Abandon the Company
RIM reported a quarterly profit of $9 million—down an epic 97 percent, year-over-year—on revenues of $2.73 billion, down 47 percent YOY. Worse, the firm lost users for the first time: 1 million subscribers left, leaving its Blackberry business with about 79 million users, the first time it’s ended a quarter with fewer users than before. But this is RIM we’re talking about, so these results actually beat analyst expectations. Winning? Not quite: Shares tumbled about 10 percent on Thursday as Wall Street finally woke up to the fact that RIM is dead company walking. On the good news front, the firm does have $2.9 billion in cash. I recommend using that money to buy Nokia’s former headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. Why the heck not?
Instagram Sucks, No Matter What Its TOS Says
Instagram—which is owned by Facebook—was involved in some sort of dust-up with fans this week when it revealed a new Terms of Service (TOS) agreement that apparently let it use customers’ photos without consent. Folks, spare me. I don’t care what Instagram’s TOS says. Anyone who uses a mobile app to change what is, at best, a middling photo of a child, pumpkin, or meal—or whatever—and turn it into a 1970’s-looking Polaroid shot should be forced to give up their smart phone for a year and do community service. There are useful online services, and fun online services, and then there are worthless online services. Instagram is the latter. And if you want to use faux outrage over the TOS silliness—which Instagram later retracted—then please feel free. I don’t care why you do it. Just stop using Instagram.
Samsung to Deliver Windows Phone 7.8 to Existing Phones
Samsung delivered some good news to Windows Phone users this week: It will apparently provide the vaunted Windows Phone 7.8 update, which adds the Windows Phone 8 Start screen to older devices, to all Samsung handsets that run Windows Phone 7.5. No word yet on timing, and of course there’s always the prickly topic of wireless carrier blocking to consider.
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