On iPhones, iPads & a Little Bit of Mordor

The one and only Ken Ray from Mac OS Ken. Really.Want to surf the Internet on the most popular tablet? Better get an iPad. Want the most secure online database? Better get, well, not Apple. And how about new iPhone rumors, HP’s TouchPad, mobile game popularity, and the patent circus? We have Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray to take on all of that.

iPad, King of the Tablets
Nearly one percent of web-surfing worldwide is done via tablet, and nearly 100 percent of that comes from an iPad. That’s the word from Net Applications.

Fortune has the stat tracker saying that, as of May, 0.95 percent of web-browsing on their client sites happened on tablets, 96.8 percent of which were tablets made by Apple. Quoting Fortune, “The competition — chiefly from Samsung, Motorola and Research in Motion — is negligible.”

Look for that on the packaging of Samsung, Motorola, and Research in Motion tablets.

Another bit of interest from Net Applications, for June — they say — a wee bit over 60 percent of U.S.-based mobile Web browsing happened via iThings. 35.2 percent of that was said to have been through the iPhone, though one is sort of left to assume that that’s a combination iPhone and iPod touch; meanwhile another 25.5 percent came via iPad.

BusinessInsider ran an interesting piece last weekend on how Apple is able to stay as far ahead of rival device manufacturers as it is. It basically boils down to a combination of awesome R&D, and early access to pieces and parts that no other company will have for somewhere between months and years.

Best line in the piece: If it feels like new Apple products appear futuristic, it is because Apple really is sending back technology from the future.

Apple Security: What, Me Worry?
So something not so secure seems to have happened to one of Apple’s servers last weekend, around which I’m having trouble wrapping my head.

Here’s the first paragraph from a Macworld story: A list of 27 user names and encrypted passwords apparently for an Apple website was posted to the Internet over the weekend along with a warning from hacker group Anonymous that the Cupertino-based computer maker could be a target of its attacks.

Sounds scary-ish.

Macworld says the data was pilfered and posted by an unidentified user, though other stories — including one from ZDNetsay it was the work of the hacker group AntiSec.

The names and passwords were posted to a PasteBin page under the subject line, “Not Yet Serious…” garnering the attention of other hacker group Anonymous, which said,

Apple could be target, too. But don’t worry, we are busy elsewhere.

No comment from Apple in the purported breach.

While one security hole opens another gets plugged. Network World has the white-hat hackers YGN Ethical Hacker Group saying that a vulnerability they found on an Apple development website has been patched.

While YGN found the issue a couple of months ago, it was just last week that they made the discovery semi-public. Not releasing details, but threatening to do so if Apple didn’t deal with the vulnerability.

Pssst… You Want an iPhone Secret?
Given a greater power for setting tongues wagging and keyboards clacking, a DigiTimes piece that says Taiwanese notebook maker Pegatron Technology has landed orders for 15 million units of the next iPhone.

Here we find secret people spilling their guts, saying Apple will start shipping the next second-coming of telephony in September… ba, ba ba…

No comment from Pegatron on the report, though in fairness they’re likely still dealing with the Dark of the Moon.

DigiTimes stories from secret sources, it has been pointed out, should be taken with at least ONE grain of salt, and yet at least one site seems willing to give the DigiTalk credence.

GigaOm’s “The Apple Blog” says “a big order now makes sense for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Apple’s change from its traditional new hardware announcement during the June developer event.”

While acknowledging Digi’s mixed track record on rumor accuracy, the piece says the site tends to do well once a contract has actually been won, as is reportedly the case with Pegatron. Additionally, talk of Pegatron delivering the 15-million communicators for sale in September nestles nicely with talk for most of this year that that is when we’ll see the next iPhone.

If “The Apple Blog” has any concern about the report, it’s the high number of phones indicated:

15 million units is a bit high for a launch order,” they say, though they see a few reasons for the high number including the possibility that Apple wants to launch the next iPhone in more markets at once than it has in the past. Plus, for the first time ever, they’ve got two carriers in the states with which to deal at launch, not just one. Also, more customers may be eligible for upgrade than have been at other launches, thanks to the later than usual release.

I often joke about secret so and so’s, but it turns out it’s kind of risky to be one. The Mac Observer says Walter Shimoon — a former exec with Flextronics and a former secret so and so for some hedge funds — has plead guilty to selling secrets about unreleased Apple kit to those hedge funds.

Flextronics was a components supplier for Apple when Shimoon was a senior business director. According to the piece, he’s meet with hedge fund traders and tell them about Apple’s plans. For $200 an hour.

You know there are people who pay more for hookers? I’m just saying he had information about the iPhone 4 and the iPad… which he sold for $200 and hour.

TMO says Shimoon is the 12th party to plead guilty to selling secret info as part of an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which started arresting folks late last year. Interestingly, none of the people who allegedly paid for the illegal information have been charged with anything.

$200 an hour, huh?


On iTunes and Buckets of Money
At what point does Apple stop crying poor-mouth over iTunes and money made? For years the company has referred to the media selling juggernaut as lean, saying it’s pretty much a break-even proposition.

But does that change when sales of iBooks, Apps, magazine subscriptions, music, movie and TV shows — as well as rentals of movies and TV shows — hit $13 billion? Because one analyst says they’re going to do that in a little over two-year’s time.

The International Business Times has Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry saying he expects revenue generated through the iTunes stores to grow at a rate of about 39 percent over the next three years, adding as much as $13 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2013.

Chowdry sees a particularly bright future for Apple’s iBooks versus books formatted for Amazon’s Kindle. He also likes, what the piece refers to as, “the application attach rate on iPads,” which he says has gone up from 15 apps six months ago to over 45 today.

TouchPad: The New Meh
Last Friday saw the launch of HP’s TouchPad, the last next iPad killer, and reviews could pretty much be boiled down to one word: “meh.”

Now former Apple exec, former Palm CEO, and current HP exec Jon Rubenstein is sending a letter to his troops telling them to not lose heart.

AppleInsider had him saying you’ve got to accentuate the positive. And there were positives in the reviews— mostly around the webOS underpinnings — while the negatives — mostly around heavy, sluggish hardware compared to the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10-point-1 — “are already known at HP, and will be addressed quickly with over-the-air updates.”

How are they gonna make it lighter over the air?

Quoting Rubinstein’s note: “We still have work to do to make webOS the platform we know it can be, but remember… it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

He also compared last weekend’s TouchPad reviews to early reviews for Apple’s Mac OS X, which painted the operating system as “sluggish,” without any “quality apps,” and “just not making sense.”

Rubinstein sees in the TouchPad and its operating system the “potential for greatness…” and he thinks users see that, as well, though it’s hard to know whether they’ll cue up to pay for potential.

Verizon Sprint is Getting the iPhone!
Another financial analyst has caught that Peter Pan/Tinkerbell thing. Forbes has Citadel Securities analyst Shing Yin saying yesterday that a Sprint version of the iPhone “appears increasingly likely.”

On the face of it, it’s true. There used to not be a CDMA iPhone, now there is, and with every passing day it’s more likely we’re a day closer to seeing an iPhone with an “S” on its chest.

Still, when financial analysts say it, you gotta figure there’s some guy feeding them secret info that could get them sent to prison. Apparently that actually happens, though it doesn’t have to, if they’ve caught the Peter Pan/Tinkerbell thing.

Shing Yin sees four reasons to bolster his belief:

  1. Sprint would be cool paying Apple’s high iPhone subsidy since they’re already paying high subsidies on other phones they carry.
  2. Apple would have another front from which to fight the Android army.
  3. Big Red and the Death Star would likely not try to block an iPhone for Sprint.
  4. Apple night like a carrier that would offer an unlimited data plan for iPhone since those have now officially dried up for new subscribers on both Verizon and AT&T.

Bonus point: while a Sprint-iPhone would probably cost the same as an iPhone through AT&T and Verizon, the carrier does have a few cheap service plans. “As such,” writes the analyst

we believe a Sprint iPhone could offer an attractive proposition for more price-conscious users (a demographic that we think is increasingly important to Apple following the rise of Android). Based on this differentiation, we believe a Sprint iPhone could be a relatively stronger seller than the Verizon iPhone, given Verizon largely offers the same value proposition as AT&T. We believe Sprint could capture more than its fair share of iPhone sales, especially if it gets the new model at the same time as AT&T and Verizon.

So let me get this straight: After years and years and years of there-will-be-a-Verizon-iPhone-any-second, we’re gonna start the game over with Sprint?

Do You Want to Play a Game?
There’s a funny commercial out right now for some Android phone that says “This phone will let you do this… so you can get back to playing Angry Birds.”

“This phone can quickly take care of this other thing,” the voice over points out, “so you can get back to playing Angry Birds.”

So yeah, there’s an Angry Birds for Android, and people like playing games on their smartphones. Though new numbers from Nielsen say smartphone owners aren’t doing as much playing on Androids as they are on iPhones.

Electronista has the researcher saying not only are games the leading smartphone application category across the board, about 64 percent of mobile app downloaders have downloaded a game or games. Meanwhile 93 percent of people willing to pay for an application are happy to pay for games.

Weather apps are said to be the second most popular category, with social networking apps taking third, though most people have no interest in paying for those.

Interestingly, it’s owners of iPhones that are spending much more time at play than the Androids with the Angry Birds. According to Nielsen’s findings, an average iPhone user in the past 30 days spent nearly 15 hours a month playing games, over twice the average seven hours spent on games on smartphones across the board.

In fairness to the Google crowd, Android owners find more time to waste than the average smartphone user as well, spending about 9.33 hours hacking and slashing and fighting and flying.

Xbox Live integration, meanwhile, is not drawing in Windows Phone 7 users. WP7 users average just 4.7 hours of smartphone gameplay per month. Then again, they’ve probably got Xbox 360s.

Electronista figures reasons for the MASSIVE time suck on iThings has to do with their fast graphics, accessible development environment, and ease of game discoverability via iTunes. While Android may be gaining in some of those areas, increased risk of piracy on Android phones and inconsistent hardware designs may be keeping bigger developers away and game time lower than on iPhones.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to playing Angry Birds.

Microsoft, the New Mordor
And to wrap up this week, Forbes says Microsoft is looking for $15 for every Android device Samsung sells.

Funny thing. When you’re a small company like Lodsys, they call you “patent troll.” When you’re a large company like Microsoft though, they say you’ve “accumulated a vast stable of patents over the years,” and you often use “patent suits to rake in money from other tech companies.”

Patent Balrog, maybe.

Samsung is the second largest handset maker in the world and could be into Microsoft for a decent chunk of change, especially if it’s decided that they owe for every Android device they’ve already sold, too. Meanwhile Forbes says “Samsung is hoping to negotiate a lower fee of $10, in exchange for a deeper partnership with Microsoft to create smartphones using the Windows Phone platform.”

Ah. A patent Saruman.