The thing about new paradigms, real ones like the new Mac Pro and solid state drives, is that no one predicts them with much accuracy, but when they appear there’s no mistaking them, either. Their uniqueness and dramatic superiority are immediately apparent. With a few caveats, a new paradigm seems about ready to make itself known – memristors (basically a fancy name for computer memory). If it pans out, it’ll be one of the biggest breakthroughs of 2014.
Is it Time for Memristors?
Soon, your smart phone, the kid’s portable game console, and our iPad rental will need charging only every few weeks—or months. Their speeds and memory capacities will increase by thousands, perhaps millions of times. Equip your sales force with new desktop computers, or rent laptops for a fully mobile workforce, and either way your employees will save time with hardware that boots up instantly. These are the near-magical powers of the memristor—and we’re supposed to see them, well, soon. At least, that was the consensus in 2010. Interest faded until a minor resurgence in mid-2012, then dwindled again until some muted rumblings of late. What gives?
For years the traditional view of electronics held that there were three fundamental elements in circuits. These elements—resistors, capacitors, inductors—were joined in 1971 by a new theoretical element, the memristor (memory + resistor). Standard computer memory stores information by turning electronic switches on and off. Memristors, which are nanoscale devices with variable resistance, remember resistance levels when turned off. The bottom line is they are denser, more energy efficient, incomparably faster than existing electronics, and able to perform multiple functions (processing, storage, etc.). This reconfigurability makes for behavior reminiscent of human brain synapses, a main advantage of which is their incredible adaptability.
What’s the Hang-up?
The memristor design has matured over some 40 years of research and development, much of it undertaken by Hewlett-Packard (HP), a company known for quality and innovation whose workstations are in our computer rental inventory. Although the technology was supposed to begin hitting the market in 2014, “HP has not yet committed to a specific product roadmap,” according to a Wired story of July, 2012. There is no newer statement from HP. The firm appears to be dithering once again, unable to pull the trigger on new initiatives, possibly still gun shy following its WebOS debacle.
This is a project that iMac visionary Steve Jobs would have loved, as the next step is electronic circuits that adapt to varying scenarios—and learn from their choices. Computers with human brain-like behavior may emerge from a future memristor component that will likely start out in a consumer device. That happens all the time if you think about it: Medical diagnosis wasn’t the first task undertaken by the original PC, but the platform matured from a glorified typewriter and Pong game into all kinds of lifesaving tools (on many of which you can still type and play games). Frankly, though, it really is about time for a new paradigm.
Are we ready to make this shift? We’d love to hear from you on this or any other technology trends you think are heading our way in 2014. Not sure about any of this? Contact CRE Rentals, a leading technology rental company based in Los Angeles, for help.
Microsoft is an odd company, a strange admixture of genius and clumsiness, strategic vision and unscripted silliness. Steve Ballmer was no favorite of the punditocracy and left a while back with something less than a hero’s send-off. But around the same time, we wondered if Microsoft could be “The Comeback Kid,” noting how it has yo-yo’ed through the years. It is a unique story, this tech giant’s dramatic ups and downs, and often hard to fathom.
The “Relevance” Thing
In late 2012, Andreas Pouros, COO at marketing firm Greenlight, wrote in his Econsultancyblog that Microsoft would again be “relevant” in 2013. Despite a top-selling game console (seven years “mature”), a market capitalization approaching $230 billion, 90+ percent of the PC market, and an OS that you can even rent iMac computers to run, at the end of 2012 it was clear to Pouros and everyone else that Microsoft was not the world-changing juggernaut of its prime. Was it time for another Microsoft obituary?
Pouros had an emphatic response: No! In fact, he saw a turnaround coming, based on Microsoft’s “dominant position on the desktop” plus the company’s core strengths in gaming, OS, and two-way communication (Skype). Success in these areas would underwrite the development of products in what Pouros called “an exciting ecosystem that will make Microsoft a compelling choice for consumers.”
The “Devices and Services” Thing
However, the company’s major consumer device focus in 2013, the Surface line, did not explode on the scene and zoom anywhere near iPad rental in sales or market share. Pouros got this one wrong, but let’s just say Microsoft started a slow-growing fire in the segment, rather than a blaze. To finish off the company’s strategic plan, Pouros predicted Microsoft would buy Netflix to secure its new position as “a devices and services” company.
That didn’t happen (to be fair, it is still 2013) but how did the Pouros Prognostication fare, overall? Quite well, in fact: In its most recent earnings report (October 2013), Microsoft announced that quarterly profits increased 17% from the year prior, on sales that rose 16% to a bit over $18.5 billion. That was more than two-thirds of a billion dollars beyond Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $17.8 billion. Complete details of the report can be reviewed online, but for a quick overview here are lists of the “Strong” and “Weak” Microsoft operating units:
Business sales of Office and server software
Cloud computing for business
Cloud for consumers (SkyDrive)
Device and licensing revenue from Surface line
Device and licensing revenue from Windows and Windows Phone product lines
Surface and Surface Pro sales hit $400 million, aided greatly by the blowout pricing on the original RT model. Finally, the Nokia acquisition will play out over the coming year(s) in surprising ways that are, as we’ve said before, often hard to fathom. And that prediction brings us full circle on our latest ride on the Microsoft yo-yo!
As always, we’ll keep you posted on the latest technology news. Do you need to be relevant for an upcoming project or event? If so, we can help by supplying you with the latest technology rentals to help get the job done. Complete an Express Quote online or call us today at (877) 266-7725.
CNET’s Josh Lowensohn declared a week or so ago that the “disc drive is dead,” explaining that it hadn’t happened to “PCs just yet, but certainly in Apple’s Macs.” There has been buzz about the death of optical drives for a few years. As it coincides with the advent of small, net-connected devices—including laptops in new form factors like ultrabooks, our own iPad rental, the iPhone, and the zillion Android tablets and smartphones—the story of its demise is somewhat cloudy. The choice of terms is deliberate. Let’s put this trend in historical perspective, and acknowledge up front that the interactive Internet with “that whole cloud thing” is both a cause and result of today’s coalescing, interrelated tech advances.
Apple recently updated its MacBook Pro line and introduced the futuristic Mac Pro. Lost in the fine print of a press release was the news that Apple was dropping the 15-inch, non-Retina MacBook Pro, leaving a single 13-inch non-Retina model with an optical drive. Lowensohn says this is Apple’s way of signaling “imminent extinction.” You may recall that Steve Jobs’ insanely great original iMac was released without a floppy drive and soon enough, all of Apple’s computers were floppy-less. Ditching optical drives merely continues the effort begun with the disc-less MacBook Air in 2008. Since the App Store didn’t open until 2011, it was “a gamble,” concedes Lowensohn, to drop a major conduit for getting software into your computer. Looking back, it is hard to argue against Apple’s prescience.
Size, weight, and waste
Dropping the optical drives in the Air reduced power consumption, system complexity, weight, and size. Building on this experience, Apple engineers trimmed the new 2013 iMac’s girth and volume by some 40% and estimated that the new Mac Pro is “one-eighth the volume of the previous generation.” Such other new components as flash storage (replacing the moving parts of the hard drive), high-speed wireless (802.11ac vs. 802.11n), and Bluetooth have sped up Macs by providing alternative connectivity for storage, communications, peripherals, etc. Apple has also taken the “connectivity crown” with Thunderbolt 2, capable of two simultaneous 20Gbps streams. Real world transfer speeds? Recently, Intel put up a demo showing “peak performance…just under 1100MB/s.” Over a gig per second? Fast!
Lowensohn notes the practical impacts of Apple’s hardware-trimming campaign, one of which is a huge reduction in shipping and storage costs. There are important marketing considerations; there are enough environmental benefits to call this continuing reduction of size, weight, and waste a “green program,” right in line with enlightened corporate goals and social values. When you consider the ingredients we’ve discussed—flash memory, WiFi, Thunderbolt 2—it is sobering to remember what is on the way. Holographic displays, gesture sensors, voice control, visual commands, instant translation, virtual keyboards—what crazy combo or brand-new idea will make our devices easier to use, smaller, less costly, more powerful, and more attuned (and tuned-in) to our individual lives? Well, we know the future is disc-less—and we think it will be “cloudy” for a while, too.
So if you need a disc-less computer or laptop, feel free to contact the experts at CRE Rentals. We have the latest technology rentals to suit your office or corporate event needs.
Microsoft has been in the news a lot—Steve Ballmer’s cheerless departure, the billion-dollar flop of the original Surface, Windows Phone inertia, and other miscues and missed opportunities haunt the firm. Yet Microsoft just posted better-than-forecast figures for Q1. The company reported that its “devices and services transformation is progressing” just as after-hours trading pushed shares up.
Microsoft is a fascinating study of a firm that has had several well-defined eras following its founding at the dawn of the microcomputer age—which is the problem at the moment. Long criticized for “going in one era and out the other” with tech strategies and marketing campaigns, Microsoft is looking for a solid new identity for its post-Ballmer era. We’ve written about Ballmer’s bad moves, but now let’s take a look at some positive incidents that just might reveal where this tech giant is headed.
Windows XP had a special edition that ran on tablet PC and before that, Microsoft had Windows for Pen Computing—for Windows 95! The company really does know tablets, from hardware and software to sales and support. Now that Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro tablets are on sale, Microsoft went ahead and reduced the price of the original Surface Pro. In August Microsoft initially reduced the price when slow sales slowed even further. Since then, however, Surface models have contributed $400 million to the Q1 figures cited above.
More bang for Bing
In July, Microsoft announced that Bing was much more than a mere search engine. It’s a developer platform, too, offering coders the development kits, back-end services, and control modules for creating new tools and techniques. Microsoft is aiming for the type of ubiquity enjoyed by Google, where everything from the temp’s computer rental to the CEO’s gold iPhone is using Gmail, Gdrive, and Google+. Just last week, Microsoft brought a missing piece to the Bing developers’ construction kit: speech recognition. A new control enables developers to include speech recognition as an input in apps made for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT. Microsoft managers also announced that the Bing Translator Controls and Optical Character Recognition Control would be updated, too.
Breaking into the Glass market
Microsoft may become a top rival to Google Glass, as the firm is already testing prototypes for web-connected glasses with high-tech specs similar to the Glass product. The Wall Street Journal cited some unnamed people “familiar with the matter,” but offered no details about the project, saying only that it is part of Microsoft’s “grand strategy” to become a top player in the device market along with Google, Apple, and Samsung.
Finally, fast fixes!
Within two days of removing the Windows RT 8.1 operating system update from the Microsoft Store on October 19 (just two days after its launch), Microsoft released a new, fixed update. The initial Windows RT 8.1 update caused problems with one of every 1,000 Surface RT 8.1 installations. Following initial criticism, Microsoft was lauded for its quick and complete fix.
Need the best event production rentals, or the right laptops for your conference team? You always get first-rate advice from experienced CRE Account Executives. Call (877) 266-7725 or visit the Quick Rental Quote page. We’re ready to help—24/7/365!
Tobii Technology is among the early global leaders in the final-frontier field of “eye tracking,” “gaze interaction,” and “vision-based control.” On Sept. 19 of this year they debuted the Tobii EyeMobile, “a lightweight, highly portable peripheral that brings true eye-control capabilities to popular Windows 8 tablets…for assistive purposes.” The EyeMobile offers people with limited mobility full, unfettered use of modern digital technologies. To get control of off-the-shelf Windows 8 devices and tablet PCs—and everything else, too, before long—will take only simple, unforced, utterly natural eye movements.
And that’s just the beginning. “Eye control” is now a fully funded R&D activity for many companies, large and small. Have we reached a “perfect storm” point where all the pieces are available but lack a proper arrangement? The folks at The Eye Tribe seem to think so: They are selling a tracking device for $99 to early adopters and developers. It comes with an SDK (Software Development Kit) so geeky users can code their own apps to accept tracker input (or finish that new eye-controlled game). Even basic research is getting done, ranging from the nexus of human behavior and anatomy (how do people move when using an iPad rental?) to color perception.
Eye tracking, one step at a time
We sense a critical mass building in the field, so let’s take a quick, necessarily simplified look at what eye tracking involves. Eye trackers use optical sensors and projection patterns to determine, with greater and greater accuracy, the direction of eye movements. Most of the current products employ the principle of corneal-reflection tracking, one of the reflected-light methods. The process relies on five essential steps:
Eye trackers bring signal sensors, image processors, and near-infrared microprojectors together in a precise, particular way;
microprojectors are used to send reflection patterns to the user’s eyes;
image sensors capture the user’s image, eyes, and projection/reflection patterns in real time;
image processors identify features of the user, user’s eyes, and projection/reflection patterns; and
mathematical models continuously crunch the unending stream of numbers representing the eyes’ positions and the user’s “gaze point.”
Humans use “eyecasting” and “eye gazing” as a most efficient means of indicating direction—pointing without fingers. People do this all the time, and not just with other humans. After 50,000 years of co-evolution and two-way domestication, dogs are born hardwired to look into humans’ eyes. With eye-tracking technology we can use our natural gaze to communicate with animals, humans, computers, and other devices. One day, an eye tracker will be as common on a basic computer rental as a webcam is now. Fast, natural, and intuitive, it’s a potent tool just waiting for a few more thoughtful applications—which we will tell you about in coming blogs!
At CRE, we pay close attention to all the tech trends that you need to know about, always working to anticipate your rental needs. With great service to complement the expertise of our Account Executives, calling (877) 266-7725 or sending a message will get you the right answers, right away. If you know what you need, of course, using our Quick Rental Quote gets you in and out and on your way, fast! Call or click now!
Sometimes the people we honor as first and foremost in their fields weren’t really the first, and aren’t always foremost, either. The father of the automobile, Henry Ford, was years behind other pioneers. The father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, didn’t make the critical breakthroughs that led to the weapon’s success. But if there’s anyone who really deserves the title “father of computing”—besides the brilliant Alan Turing and the amazing Charles Babbage, who have their supporters for the title—it’s John von Neumann.
Born in 1903 in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, von Neumann was a child prodigy who earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at 22—and earned a diploma in chemical engineering the same year. Before the age of 25, von Neumann had been the youngest teacher at the University of Berlin and published more than a dozen papers in major journals. In 1930, he moved to the U.S.
Before Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, and the insanely great Macintosh and iMac computers, there was Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies, Albert Einstein, and the University of Pennsylvania’s historic EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer).
The Number-Crunching Visionary
Einstein and von Neumann were among the first few faculty members of the Institute for Advanced Studies, and von Neumann remained there from its inception in 1933 until his death, even as he continued working on EDVAC and other projects. In 1945, von Neumann described what later became known as “von Neumann Architecture” when he published a set of incomplete notes as First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. This foundational characteristic of computing—that memory can store and manipulate both sequenced instructions and data—was one of many von Neumann breakthroughs. It’s why we have iPad rentals, smartphones, and robotic dogs today.
The von Neumann Architecture became the early, de facto standard for computing, and although there are now more advanced ones, “the original” is still in use. From punch-card input and room-size computers, via big beige boxes and CRTs, to today’s LCD touchscreen monitor rental and potent laptops, von Neumann’s fingerprints are all over the place—and not just in computing. The fields of physics, mathematics, game theory, economics, strategic thinking, logic, and quantum mechanics owe von Neumann big thanks, as well. So do we all, as von Neumann was also a deep thinker but, unlike Einstein, was not troubled by the nuclear genie escaping the bottle, and did not fear an Armageddon.
Died Too Young
“Can We Survive Technology?” was the title of a Fortune magazine article that von Neumann wrote in 1955. (His answer: “Yes.”) Since he knew science and technology could be put to both good and evil ends, he said that solving future problems (meaning today’s problems) would require “patience, flexibility [and] intelligence.” Invited to give the Silliman Memorial Lectures at Yale, he died before he could do so, in 1957, aged just 53. Published posthumously by Yale University Press in 1958 as The Computer and the Brain, von Neumann’s Silliman presentation compares “computing machines” with the human brain. Various notes and manuscripts that von Neumann kept over the years were organized and edited by his EDVAC colleague, Arthur Burks, and published in 1966 as Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata. It is read widely today.
John von Neumann was a brilliant and original thinker, and we honor his many contributions. Without him, we would quite simply not have the problem-solving, leading-edge render farms and mass storage devices that help you get your work done. Whether you need tools, tech, or expertise, call us at (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote page.
Stanford University is an elite institution, world renowned across a wide range of disciplines from medicine to law. But there’s another field, computer science, in which Stanford has long been a leader, and has used its leadership to transform the world. Because of this preeminence, evidenced by the Googles and Ciscos founded by faculty and graduates of its program, the Stanford computer science department decided about five years ago to “reinvent itself.” After decades helping to build the infrastructure that lets you connect a CRE iPad rental to a worldwide network, it was time to take stock.
Formed in 1965, the department counts among its faculty the co-inventor of TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) Vint Cerf, as well as Donald Knuth, author of The Art of Computer Programming. Computer science as an academic subject was pretty much born at Stanford, and it was the original curriculum that brought the program to such heights. But after shepherding new technology that became the foundation for everything from Steve Jobs’ “insanely great” iMac to wired and wireless networking, something was missing. But what?
Creativity Is an Adventure
Over time, the core curriculum had gotten conventional and inflexible—this in a field whose history clearly shows that, like art, it advances through creative accidents, untraditional approaches, and an adventurous spirit. The department’s original slogans included “no limits,” and faculty wanted to recapture that spirit, the “spirit of Silicon Valley” for want of a better term. They announced that computer science isn’t just tweaking an Xserve RAID all day, and updated the curriculum so the discipline could continue making its historic impact—now in every field of study and endeavor, bar none.
Core courses were reduced to just six: three centered on theory, three “programming and systems” workshops. Faculty connections in Silicon Valley made class projects entrepreneurial. Courses in anthropology, design, and other fields were added so students could apply computer science expertise to other challenges. In academia and industry, a solid consensus has developed since the implementation of the new curriculum that every field is “touched” by computer science in some way. When the arts community welcomes a performer whose accompanist is a MacBook, that’s “no limits.”
The Future’s Looking Good
Through 2018 there will be three jobs awaiting every computer science graduate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this tells only part of the story. Fact is, 9 of 10 Stanford undergrads take at least one computing class. Professionals in every field need more than basic PC skills to use such advanced digital tools as the AJA Io HD (media pros) and 3D printers (everybody). Stanford has graduated tech titans, of course, but graduates in disciplines from Astronomy to Zoology will now take the program’s principles into all kinds of businesses, products, and services. There are no limits!
And there are no limits on how far we’ll go to help you succeed! From computer rentals for post-production to audio visual (AV) equipment rentals for conferences or training sessions, an experienced Account Executive can take care of you right now at (877) 266-7725. If you prefer, send us a message, or if you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote page. We’re always ready to help!
The Microsoft Build Developer Conference (subtitled “The Next Generation of Modern Apps”) took over a chunk of San Francisco last Wednesday through Friday (June 26-28, 2013). It’s a year-round ritual for Big Tech to roll out the revival meetings and fanfests (er, conferences and breakout sessions), and since Google had theirs and Apple just dominated the June news, it’s arguably Microsoft’s “turn.”
This year, there was a strange mix of anticipation and giddiness, as there are more positive developments coming out of Redmond now than have been seen in many moons. With the iMac, and desktops in general, sales continue to slide, but Microsoft’s in a good position with its own tablet hardware/software “ecosystem”–every bit as closed as Apple’s iOS walled garden, at least so far–and Windows 8.1 is looking to make good on the predictions of Windows 8′s success (and make up for the slow uptake that spelled failure for 8.0).
In three geeky days in The City by the Bay, the Build Conference delivered the goods to a grateful crowd, then the world. We took it all in, considered all the different views, then boiled it down to just the news you can use. And we’re off…!
Missing parts restored
From the first news last year that the Start button would be retired, a huge majority of users derided the move. When Windows 8 was released without it, the derision turned into barely contained rage. Though Windows 8.1 restores the apparently life-sustaining tool, rather than invoking a narrow menu it routes you right to the start screen tiles, now the kind of eye candy that looks downright edible on our LCD touchscreen monitor rental. The entire user interface (UI) has been “unbolted” a bit to allow for additional, unique user customizing—and better accessibility for keyboard & mouse users without touchscreens.
Windows 8.1 adds back something else that was inexplicably left out of the initial release: support for a range of screen resolutions and dimensions. On ultra-high-res displays–as on CRE’s MacBook Pro rental and the Chromebook Pixel–some Windows 8 buttons are so small they’re impossible to click. The 8.1 update fixes this. Microsoft knows that 18 months from now, if you rent laptops, you’re as likely as not to get ultra-high-res screens. The company sees the zillions of 7- and 8-inch tablets coming, too, so it’s tweaking Windows to look right wherever it’s used.
And some new things, too
Let’s not forget that next generation of apps line, as the near future may see touch-enabled Microsoft Office apps. This was the most buzzworthy of in-conference buzz. Several Microsoft speakers mused about swiping and poking their way through PowerPoint presentations. Presently, Office apps are usable only in “desktop mode” and not via start screen tiles (“Metro”), thus still run fine on any basic Windows computer rental you can find. But if PowerPoint, Word, and Excel do go touchy-feely, it could be huge for Microsoft.
Bing’s overhaul bolstered visual search aids and results, while Xbox Music and Mail underwent cosmetic surgery. One of Windows 8.1′s many under-publicized features lets you “snap” apps together, using them simultaneously for true multitasking. Finally, despite lukewarm sales of the Xbox One, Microsoft hinted that building apps for Windows 8.1 would be a “head start” on subsequent development for the slow-selling game console. Windows 8.1 has no official release date yet, but a preview is available for download.
NEWS FLASH: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 has taken over San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week. Already we know that the product codenamed “Cabernet” is the new OS X Mavericks, and there’s a new Mac Pro, iOS 7, and other Apple-icious stuff to talk about. And we will, with 20/20 hindsight, too—check out our complete WWDC wrapup on Tuesday, June 18!
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Sometimes it seems like tomorrow never comes. We’ve been hearing about the “expiration date” of Windows XP for a couple of years now, and it’s still another nine months or so until Microsoft officially abandons it. Come April 8, 2014, there will be no more bug fixes, patches, updates, or anything else from Microsoft related to XP. This third-generation OS (Operating System) runs on an estimated 570 million computers worldwide, the second highest installed base (38%) behind Windows 7 (45%). No one has any idea of how consumers will react, but Microsoft is sparing no effort in promoting Windows 7, its new net offering Office 365, and, in particular, Windows 8 (make that 8.1).
Among the most convincing reasons to update consistently is for the ever-improving security infrastructure in business-critical software. Nothing is 100% safe, of course, but that is no reason to forgo updates, patches, and upgrades that do offer greater security from outside (and inside, too). Running Windows 98 on a computer rental of yesteryear would be “security suicide” today, not to mention the compatibility problems that would be inherent in a world using such a sleek, slick modern OS as Windows 8 or the new OS X Mavericks (see WWDC wrap-up on Tuesday, June 18). The new Mac OS will be showing up this fall on the just-announced Mac Pro as well as all the other Mac models.
Hang on anyway?
There are more computer users working on obsolete systems (hardware and software) than you’ll ever know, and it happens with Mac users, Windows users, and Linux “lone rangers,” too. Some computer makers, most notoriously Apple, make product changes that orphan entire user populations, which contributes to Apple’s steady loss of its “coolness factor.” With XP fading away, Microsoft is more concerned about a loss of people, as the user population of Windows XP is well over half a billion. Real soon you won’t be able to rent laptops with good ol’ XP anymore, and after the official end-of-support day (4/8/2014) not only will Microsoft not support it, more and more browsers, programs, and online services won’t, either.
Where will the XP folks go? Most will end up with Windows 7 or 8; a few will opt for RT on the low-end Surface; some will bail and get an iMac or Linux box; and an unknown number of early-adopter types will go for a potent Android tablet. Another “last” for XP was the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which replaced MS Pen Computing in 2002. All Windows iterations since Vista have natively supported pen computing. The very latest OS, Windows 8.1, was retooled to wring the maximum efficiency out of ever-more-accurate touch screens, deploy “smart” power management tools for a dramatic increase in battery life, protect you with beefy security features, and not give you the Blue Screen of Death.
Sooner… or later?
Time waits for no one. It’s easy (make that effortless) to be a slow adopter, and perhaps not so costly in your personal life. But if your business doesn’t keep up with the Jones Corporation’s latest and greatest hardware, software, and Whatever-as-a-Service, your bottom line can suffer. In about eight months, XP slips into limbo, a gray area in which the unsupported OS could actually remain installed on many companies’ computers—and work just fine, according to some experts. So, go or no-go? You have enough time to make an unhurried, careful decision, so take a deep breath, do your homework, and get help if, when, where, and how you need it. There is life after XP. In fact, considering the Never Say Never Rule, there just might be XP after XP, too. To be continued—in other words, we’ll keep you posted!
In the meantime, CRE will continue to serve you with everything from laptop and desktop computer rentals with Windows to the mass storage needed for post-production. Wherever you need help—on-site, on the road, or at a convention—your solutions are all right here. Call an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We are always ready to help you!
If you don’t read the quarterly financials of the technology sector, join the club. Most people couldn’t care less. On the other hand, if you work for one of the many companies that completely missed “emerging technologies” and devoted themselves to PCs instead of smartphones and tablets, you might care when your job evaporates. And PC and tablet makers most assuredly do care about those quarterly reports, and they’re looking at the latest one from IDC (International Data Corporation, a market research, analysis, and advisory firm specializing in IT) that tallies 49.2 million tablets shipped in Q1 2013 (up 142.4% year-over-year), compared to 76.3 million PCs (down 13.9% y/y). Tablet sales are soaring, while PC sales are tanking, with the worst quarterly drop ever.
Tablets are fast approaching the point where they can do everything a typical PC can, while also being pressed into nearly continuous service as cameras, movie players, videophones, game arcades, and remote controls for household appliances. Even today’s low-end tablets can handle most jobs, even in corporate settings (where you could order a MacBook Pro rental if you want more power for a temporary project). This is the primary challenge facing PC manufacturers today: How can the desktop PC compete with lower-priced, portable devices that use less power, accomplish many common computing tasks, and also have that “hip-and-fun” factor?
Who’s who in the new crew
IDC shows Apple still leading in market share with 39.6% of tablet sales, with Samsung in (distant) second place with 17.9%. But the bigger story here is the number of leading firms that are not on the list. Think a minute: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba are all missing from the top spots, despite some of them making belated attempts at entering the fray. Dell and HP are hugely important, influential firms in the history of PCs, and a desktop computer rental is likely to be one of these premier brands. So how did they miss out on the biggest product debut since, well, the PC?
Short answer: Who knows? Perhaps some of the long-time computer makers…
didn’t see or understand the trend away from the desktop and toward portability,
came “late to the game” and can’t seem to catch up,
were indecisive and wouldn’t make a commitment, or
decided against the tablet market in favor of their “sure things.”
Interestingly, many of the same companies that missed out on tablets this time around missed out on smartphones last time around. Of course, smartphones currently outsell PCs by a huge margin, and there is a growing trend (think Galaxy Note) toward the phone/tablet combo (sorry, they’re going to be called “phablets” no matter what). Either set a trend or get on someone’s coattails, but if you miss out again—we’re talking to you, Michael Dell—your brand may be ready for retirement.
Whither the “withering Windows”?
At GigaOm.com, Kevin C. Tofel analyzed the 2012 tablet and PC sales results back in January, dubbing Microsoft’s flagship OS “withering Windows.” The point was that, despite the hundreds of millions of Windows users on Earth, a full third of all new devices sold don’t run Windows—they run Android and iOS. In the ‘90s and 2000s, if you were to rent laptops you’d find over 90% of them running Windows. The bar’s been lowered to under 70% of all devices now, and Tofel sees “no reason why the growth of non-Windows tablets will stop.” In fact, he “wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year non-Windows tablets actually outsell Windows computers.”
In the last 30 years Microsoft’s presence in the technology sector of the economy has been dominant. It’s not merely its market share in tablets that signals a problem for the firm, it’s the burden of a legacy OS that has been pushed aside by flexible (and fun) new platforms. Combining a small form factor, touch capability, media prowess, WiFi, and long battery life, devices like iPad rentals, tablet PCs, and the latest/greatest thing, phablets, will experience strong sales as PC shipments continue tanking. You could argue that it’s all a semantic “construct,” that you can “define” things in and out of categories, compare apples and oranges, even ‘prove’ that 0=1. It’s all marketing, right?
What’s in a name?
Wrong. There really has been a irreversible change. Tablets have done so well because they are convenient and cover most of the bases for most folks. There are growing numbers of people, in fact, who are not replacing their PCs as often as they once did. They keep one around because PCs do excel at certain things—writing everything from letters to novels, editing digital audio and video, rendering graphics, and acting as both analog and digital hub for connecting and interconnecting this, that, and the proverbial other thing.
This is why PCs—let’s call them desktop workstations, shall we?—are not going away completely. It’s a needed form factor: A top-flight HP Pavilion or Apple Mac Pro rental has the expansion slots, drive bays, flexibility, and power needed for demanding work. Creative pros, scientists, photographers, designers, writers, engineers, and others will populate the “high-end” niche, which CRE will continue to serve with everything from audio visual (AV) equipment rentals to the mass storage needed for post-production. Wherever you find your challenges—on-site, on the road, or at a convention—your solutions are all right here. Call an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or visit our Quick Rental Quote page if you know what you need. We are always ready to help you!