Another week another Monday Tech Roundup and once again Apple made headlines with the Apple Watch. This week we also talk about the change we were all nervously waiting for – YouTube’s subscription service – and end with some very positive news about PC sales and how they are here to stay.
Apple Watch sellout – insane demand or Marketing 101?
Tech news sites were abuzz last week after Apple Watch sold out and is now on backorder. Sounds like we should all cash in our savings and put it into Apple stock as the folks from Cupertino have another big winner. Or do they? It’s not like the shelves were actually stocked with watches which then proceeded to fly off. No, these were all pre-orders so the units themselves didn’t even really exist.
Some sceptics know vendors can manipulate supply so somehow it falls short of demand. This keeps prices up and excitement high. Harley-Davidson learned this, and for years loyal buyers paid more than the retail price to get one of those beauties, which were in artificial short supply.
Apple may well be doing the same thing, as in all the reports I’ve read, Apple hasn’t given actual sales figures. An old pal of mine and prominent Microsoft watcher Ed Bott (ZDnet writer) mentioned that Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet sold out in much the same way. That particular version of the Microsoft tablet was ultimately a dud and Microsoft had to write off nearly a billion dollars because of it. We’ll just have to wait and see if the Apple Watch is really in such high demand or if this was all just a marketing tactic.
An Apple 8-bit Watch
A fan of older Apples had a bit of fun crafting his very own version of the Apple Watch based on an Apple II. Those without gray hair, arthritis and chrome domes may not even know what I’m talking about, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s the Apple II was the bomb. This 8-bit computer came with color and a nice catalog of programs. Compared to what else was out there; it was fun and easy to use.
The Apple II Watch, is in even more limited production than the Apple Watch itself and is said to be fully functional (not sure if it runs VisiCalc; a joke for you old-timers). This timepiece has a rechargeable battery and 2 watt speakers so it can sound like the original Apple II. No word on how well it actually keeps time!
YouTube makes money either way
Google, owner of YouTube, is a master at making money off the labor of others. Think about it, search is all based on content Google never created, yet they sell billions of dollars-worth of ads around it – a magnitude of order more than the creators actually collect. YouTube works pretty much the same way. Similar to Google, ads surround videos produced by millions of non-Google employees. Of course, there is still a minority of these that receive a cut of the proceeds from Google – around $1 for each thousand views. If you want to see these videos without the intrusion of ads you’ll have to pay for the privilege – at least once the new pay-to-view plan is put in place. The good news is that those who make money (and sometimes a living) doing YouTube videos may reap better rewards with the new monthly subscription service.
The PC is not dead, not even close
For more than a decade pundits tried to get credit for predicting the death of the PC. First, Internet devices originally represented by tech such as the SunRay from the now defunct Sun Microsoft were going to lead the charge. That didn’t happen and the torch was passed on to Google’s Chromebook, but from predictions, and in best case scenarios, the Chromebook will only have 5% of the laptop market share by 2017. A very low percentage considering how cheap and malware-free they are. More recently ‘deep IT thinkers’ called for the death of PCs by tablet, especially the iPad. That box of marbles was spilled by Microsoft Windows 8 and Surface, which combines tablet and PC computing, an approach which far outsells the iPad and other tablets.
The fact is, PCs work. An engineer is not going to design a new car rim on a Chromebook and an accountant is not going to balance the books with an iPad. That’s why, while PC sales are declining, the drop is far from catastrophic. In the first quarter, PC sales were down 6.7% compared to the same period a year ago, according to IDC.
I have a few conjectures here. For one, tablets and smartphones and sometimes even Chromebooks are a PC adjunct, not a replacement. My wife uses her Chromebook when she is not getting real work done on her MacBook. PCs aren’t used 100% of the time, and many times users will distribute their time across multiple devices. The PC is the workhorse, more relaxed internet surfing time is probably done on a tablet, and the smartphone will fill in any gaps in between. Finally, we all already have PCs, so the fact that we aren’t always buying a new one doesn’t mean we aren’t pounding away day in and day out on our personal computers. I know I replace three keyboards for every one new PC I buy. So at least for now, looks like the trustworthy PC is here to stay!