PC Sales Slump Despite Holidays, Windows 8 Release
Worldwide PC sales continued to decline in the fourth quarter, landing at 90.3 million units, or a 4.9 percent decline from the same period in 2011.
According to data from Gartner, the PC industry's problems stem from more than a weak economy.
"Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by 'cannibalizing' PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs," Gartner principal analyst Kikako Kitagawa said in a statement.
The holiday season proved that, as neither an uptick in low-priced notebooks nor the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system had a significant impact on PC shipments. Global marketing firm IDC last week reported that worldwide PC shipments were down 6.4 percent, as the October release of Windows 8 failed to boost computer sales.
"Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC," Kitagawa said.
Post-Holiday Web Traffic Sees iPad Dip, Kindle Fire Boost
Santa's sleigh was heavy with iPad devices this holiday season, but it appears he also had a few Kindle Fire tablets tucked in there.
According to stats from mobile ad firm Chitika, iPad Web usage saw a dip in the U.S. and Canada in tne days after Dec. 25.
Based on the smartphone and tablet impressions made across Chitika's network between Dec. 1 and Dec. 27, all iPad models saw a 7.14 percent drop after Christmas. The only other device that saw a drop in Web usage was Research In Motion's BlackBerry Playbook, which dipped 0.02 percent to 0.68 percent of the tablet market.
"The tablet which brought the product category into the mainstream, Apple's product has long been the king of the market," Chitika's report said. "However, this Christmas marked a serious diversification in tablet shares."
Still, the iPad had 78.9 percent of the market, down from 86 percent. Amazon made some gains, with the Kindle Fire up 3.03 percent after Christmas to 7.51 percent of tablets. Samsung Galaxy tablets were up 1.38 percent to 4.39 percent, and the Google Nexus tablets jumped 0.92 percent to 2.04 percent.
Chitika predicted that the iPad would return to the 80 percent Web usage range, "albeit lower than pre-holiday levels."
Price sensitivity likely worked in the favor of everyone but Apple this season, since the Kindle and Google Nexus tablets cost significantly less than the iPad.
Thanksgiving Stats Are In: Mobile Shopping on the Rise
The Thanksgiving shopping days are done (Cyber Monday excluded, of course), so just how did the major retailers fare this year?
According to new stats from Experian Hitwise, Thanksgiving Day Web traffic was up 71% across the top 500 retail sites compared to the same time period last year. Eager shoppers in the U.S. sent more than 181 million visits to measured retailers, and Amazon took top honors with around 25 million visits claimed on Thanksgiving Day alone. Walmart brought in 24.6 million visits on Thanksgiving Day, with Target taking up third place at just around 11.5 million visits.
That said, Experian Hitwise isn't counting mobile stats in its figures, which does make it a bit difficult to officially say that one retailer triumphed over others for Thanksgiving Day traffic. In general, online traffic to retail sites in total has increased approximately eight percent throughout the holiday week (compared to last year).
As for other tech-themed holiday shopping tidbits, PayPal reported in a blog post that the volume of recorded mobile payments, across the entire globe, increased 173 percent compared to a similar time period last year. Most mobile shoppers on Thanksgiving Day shopped between noon and one p.m. (PST), and the total number of mobile shoppers in general increased 164 percent compared to last year.
Tablet, E-Reader Ownership Almost Doubles Over Holidays
Many of those who asked for a tablet or e-book reader for the holidays seem to have gotten their wish.
The amount of U.S. tablet owners nearly doubled from 10 percent in mid-December to 19 percent in early January, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Research Center. E-readers also saw substantial growth in sales during the holiday season, with the number of owners similarly jumping from 10 percent to 19 percent.
Overall, the number of Americans who own at least one tablet or e-reader surged from 18 percent in December to 29 percent this month, according to the report.
"These findings are striking because they come after a period from mid-2011 into the autumn in which there was not much change in the ownership of tablets and e-book readers," the report stated. "However, as the holiday gift-giving season approached the marketplace for both devices dramatically shifted."
Part of the increase in demand was due to price, according to the report. As for the tablet market, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook Tablet were both introduced at price points much lower than other tablets. The price of some versions of Kindle and Nook e-readers, meanwhile, dropped to less than $100, making them more attractive to consumers.
Amazon Sells More Than 4 Million Kindles During Holidays
Amazon customers snapped up more than 4 million Kindle devices in December, making it the retailer's "best holiday ever," according to stats released Thursday.
Amazon did not provide exact sales data, except to reiterate that Kindle sales were "well over" 1 million per week this month. The company did reveal, however, that the Kindle Fire was its best-selling device, followed by the Kindle Touch and original Kindle e-reader.
The company also talked up the contributions of independent publishers—the number one and number four best-selling Kindle books were published via Kindle Direct Publishing.
"We are grateful to our customers worldwide for making this the best holiday ever for Kindle," Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "And in a huge milestone for independent publishing, we'd also like to congratulate Darcie Chan, the author of 'The Mill River Recluse,' and Chris Culver, the author of 'The Abbey,' for writing two of the best-selling Kindle books of the year."
The number-five best-selling Kindle book was also a self-published book—Catherine Bybee's "Wife by Wednesday." Bybee "was formerly an emergency room registered nurse, and has now left her job to focus on writing full-time," Amazon said.
Santa Uses Siri, Accepts Messages Via Gmail, Google Voice
Even in the age of ubiquitous personal computers, when you can find almost any answer on the Internet, some holiday secrets still hold sway over children (and even some adults who like to recall their childhood). Google has once again decided to add to the holiday fun surrounding the story of the bearded gift giver by letting you interact with Santa Claus, this time with a special twist.
A new ad (below) from Apple, meanwhile, suggests that the man in red is using Siri this year to help make deliveries.
Fans of Google Voice will remember last year when Google gave Santa his own phone number. This year you can call Santa's Google Voice number (855-34-SANTA) directly from your Gmail account and leave a message. And if you want to send a child or friend a message from Santa, you can visit Send A Call From Santa. The Google-run site takes you through a simple step-by-step process that allows you to send a phone message from "Santa" that is not only customized by gender and name, but also lets you add little touches that speak to the recipient's particular style.
For instance, if your friend is a yoga practicing, sushi lover, there are audio customizations for that, and if your friend is a rap music fan with a taste for expensive car rims and "gangsta" slang, Santa will also accommodate that approach. Once you start playing around with the different options, it's actually quite fun. Of course there are also plenty of options to tailor the audio as a kid-friendly message for children, sans any hipster irony. There are also options for those who don't celebrate Christmas, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and various other non-specific holiday greetings.
Report: Apple Will Release Faster MacBook Pros This Month
If you’re getting an early start on your Christmas list and you’re thinking about a new laptop, you might want to leave a spot open for an upgraded MacBook Pro. According to AppleInsider, Apple is planning a refresh of its line of professional notebooks in time for the holiday shopping season.
While the update would make the laptops faster, it wouldn’t be very significant.
Citing “people with proven insight into Apple’s future product plans,” AppleInsider claimed pretty much the only change would be the addition of the new processors announced by Intel last week. Apple would replace the current 2.0GHz, 2.2GHz, and 2.3HGz processors featured in the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros with Intel’s new 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz, and 2.7GHz quad-core i7 processors. The site also said that processor in the 13-inch MacBook Pro could get bumped up from 2.7GHz to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7.