“And a great time was had by all!” That’s the way you want people to remember your conference, and for the 17th time in a row it happened for the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in September 2013 (ISWC 2013). Today, let’s focus on what happened at ISWC – a perfect subject since this single event combines high-tech, R&D, optics, service animals, movies—and fashion.
For the year’s program, there were numerous high-quality submissions for every “call” category: academic papers, items for the Gadget Show and the Design Exhibition. With the advent of Google Glass (and a Microsoft competitor?), the category of wearable computing that includes such visual aids and virtualizers has gotten plenty of publicity of late. The real action was in the Design Exhibition’s wearable technology/clothing category, which added a touch of whimsy and style. Of the 15 exhibits, four represent the astonishing range of creativity and passion found at the event.
1. Lüme — This lightshow-infused-garment was conceived by Elizabeth E. Bigger, Luis E. Fraguada, and Jorge & Esther, then built by Associative Data. Wireless control will allow the wearer to select colors, patterns, and other options to “illuminate” the fabric with embedded LEDs. The series of Lüme garments share this ability to change color with cool blends and riotous flashes. Lüme was the Design Exhibition prize winner for aesthetic garments.
2. E-Shoe: High-Heeled Shoe Guitar — Max Kibardin at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia developed the shoe with Australian pop duo Chicks on Speed to accompany their wearable “supersuits” that control various video, audio, and stage-lighting functions. The E-Shoe and other wearable music devices have brought an entirely new dimension to “multimedia performances.” Now, these “body performance devices” aren’t in our audio visual (AV) equipment rentals inventory, but are being sold—and built at colleges near and far, no doubt.
3. Brace Yourself: World’s Sexiest Knee “Brace” — from Crystal Compton and Guido Gioberto of the University of Minnesota, the World’s Sexiest Knee “Brace” is not quite a brace (the quote marks are in the official name). It is unclear why the term was used, when the actual application is great and needs no clever assists. The filament running down the stocking length is a bend sensor, and embedded tracking software tracks knee movement, supplying data to enable further refinement of, well, real braces.
4. Play the Visual Music — Helen Koo of Auburn University developed a garment that reacts to sound and displays “visual multi-sensory stimulation” to viewers. In Koo’s design for incorporating advanced electronics with practical, wearable clothing, she embedded EL (electroluminescent) wire. Although Koo is working on other designs—and should consider a wireless means of controlling the unit from any computer rental, tablet, or phone—the current EL model will blink, not “paint” or morph colors, according to its embedded program.
While CRE Rentals doesn’t offer any wearable technology (just yet), we do offer technology rentals to set up a new office or for a short-term project. If you know what you need, complete the Technology Rental Request or give us a call at 877-266-7725.
Among the challenges for product designers today is keeping keyboards efficient and user-friendly as they are grafted onto smaller and smaller devices. Another consideration is the number of uniquely different key types that must be used for certain devices, but which are ineffective with others. For instance, no matter how whiz-bang wonderful the new projected keyboards are, they are entirely inappropriate for use with smartphones. On the other hand, a gadget that projects a full-size, fully functional keyboard on any flat surface would be a fabulous addition to an iPad rental. Similarly, a smartphone’s virtual keyboard is pointless on a laptop, even an ultrabook touchscreen, since there is plenty of room for a conventional one.
There are many ways to “input” data into your devices from voice to handwriting recognition, and an ever-expanding array of inventive keyboards. In 2011, Tactus Technology in Fremont, Calif., announced it was developing an entirely new and special kind of keyboard, based on “microfluidics.” Among the layers of a touch screen is a layout of tiny channels, shaped like buttons (or “chiclet“ keys) that fill with non-toxic gel to create a tactile response. So what? So how about doubling typing speed? With points of reference now available by touch, experienced typists, whether using fingers or thumbs or both, can increase productivity immensely.
Dynamic surface keyboards in the near future?
The idea was not just to make “a keyboard or a button technology, but really to make a fully dynamic surface,” says Micah Yairi, Tactus co-founder. This means that there would be a standard QWERTY layout when writing an email, a numeric pad for dialing numbers or using a calculator app, and even app-specific “tiles” for invoking multi-app, multi-step processes (remember “macros”?). Tactus—the winner of the Innovation Zone Best Prototype award from the Society for Information Display—insists it will be in production by the start of 2014. However, executives were mum for most of 2013 about what partnerships had been inked.
The company has posted no news since July 2013, although there were press releases in August, September, and October. In the most recent, Tactus proudly touts its success in securing additional international patents, but doesn’t say when the product might appear in a working product. The tireless geeks at Engadget got their hands on a Tactus-equipped tablet prototype and gave it a thumbs up. That was in January. In February, at the MIT Technology Review website, David Zax granted that Tactus keyboards could help the visually impaired, but still concluded “that the mass market has largely made its peace with virtual keyboards.” All we can do now is wait and see.
One thing you don’t have to wait for is getting expert help with your technology and production needs. One call to (877) 266-7725 or a visit to our Quick Rental Quote page will get you the best technology rental gear.
CRE Rentals takes a closer look at some of the latest technology gadgets from serious to fun…
Be good to your eyes
Making a presentation on a bright LCD monitor rental in the conference room is one thing, but huddling daily in an office or cubicle leaning into your computer, tablet, or smartphone screens is different—possibly dangerous, as we’ve discussed. Fluorescent lights and computer monitors have shifted strongly to the blue end of the spectrum, which focuses on the retina differently than the rest of the spectrum. But if color is the problem, perhaps it is also the solution.
You can do a little test yourself: Stare at a blue LED and you’ll see a halo, but beware—you’ll get a headache before long as your eyes struggle to focus. But they simply can’t. The “color solution” is filtering out that pesky blue light. Its amber lenses enable Gunnar Computer Glasses to shift light toward red (warmer). The lens shape reduces eye-drying air currents, while protective coatings reduce glare. Read more about Gunnar in a 2012 HuffPost article by Dr. Robert Joyce, O.D.
Holding onto memories… literally!
As it slowly fades into obscurity, let’s honor the good ol’ hardworking hard drive with the Hard Drive Case from Fred and Friends for all currently available iPhones. It’s a cool snap-on case that looks just like the real thing, just a bit smaller. The case is definitely hard, providing protection for your phone, and it’s perfectly shaped and chrome-colored. What makes it so retro-authentic, though, are all the symbols, stickers, and barcodes that decorate the actual drive cases.
As with any good phone case, all your buttons, lenses, and controls work normally. Given the accelerating shift to flash memory, which you’ll find in everything from CRE’s laptops to iPad rental, the Hard Drive Case may be the only clue some young folks get that early “digital devices” had electromagnetically moving parts. Fred and Friends has various “old school iPhone cases” available, mimicking old cameras, calculators, and transistor radios — a perfect gift for the tech geek in your life.
Suitcase Scooter …will it fly in U.S.?
Rather than being sold as a novelty or kids’ item, the made-in-the-UK Micro 3-in-1 Suitcase Scooter is being marketed as security compliant, easily transportable luggage that fits world-standard overhead lockers. But swivel the wheels on the bottom and a skateboard pops out. Lift the handle into the upright position and steer with any of three settings—soft, standard, hard—and you’ll be scooting to the departure gate! No moving sidewalk for you anymore, you’re now self-powered!
Your MacBook Pro rental or camera equipment will be safely transported, too, as the Micro’s build quality is good and its hard shell construction is sturdy. The color selection at the manufacturer’s site seems limited to black for this model. Just one question: If airports ban skates and skateboards with kids on ’em, how can these be okay?
When you need the latest gadget for your office or event, you can depend on CRE Rentals. With 21 locations nationwide, we have technology rentals to suit your needs. Learn more about our products and services by contacting us or chat with an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725.
It seems that the “paradigm shift” we’re all waiting for—the one where cheap, efficient solar cells deliver free, unlimited energy—is always just around the corner. As it was before, it is today, and the intervening years resounded with the same question: Where is the sun-powered future we were promised? As Apple delivers a new Mac Pro seemingly imported from that imaginary future, while continuing to perfect its iconic iMac, we are tempted to see promising developments in solar power generation as potential Earth-savers. As a nation, we finally seem to realize that every aspect of everyone’s life, everywhere, is affected by limited energy. As the hope of cheap solar energy lives on, let’s take a look at three particular developments.
The existing-infrastructure solution
Windows could save the world. Don’t thank Bill Gates, though—we’re talking about glass windows. They’re part of the entire world’s basic infrastructure, having evolved into specialized kinds:
automotive glass that breaks into small blocks, not shards;
Until recently, there were no solar cells that worked with see-through materials. But New Energy Technologies Inc. of Maryland developed a spray in 2011 that dries clear on glass and generates electricity. The firm says it is also testing “electricity-generating flexible plastic [that] could be deployed as tinted window film, which remains see-through while generating electrical power.”
This spin is no lie
A common issue with energy-producing contraptions is the production of such unwelcome byproducts as vibration, noise, waste—and heat. Without cooling, internal combustion engines would have very short lives, as would high-end Mac Pro rental, whose multiple fans keep it from literally burning up. The heat from the sun causes stationary solar panels to break down, too, in any number of ways, so V3Solar is developing one that is not flat and rectangular, but a truncated cone (lampshade shape) that harvests 20% more energy and powers its own rotation for air cooling. The ability to place multiple units in small spaces shows the potential for the kind of mass use that could undercut costs of both coal and hydroelectric power. V3Solar hopes to offer individuals and businesses a way to support sustainable energy.
Thin is in
Solar cells of the “thin-film voltaic” kind are not new, but neither have they evolved much. When multiple layers of the film are stacked up, naturally occurring reflective patterns restrict the amount of energy collected. A new film—developed by Dr. Chih-Hao Chang and his team at North Carolina State University—eliminates interference by mimicking the non-reflective coatings on moth’s eyes. When used in new thin film solar cells, lost energy is 100 times less. The “macro” level—solar farms, space-based collectors—holds many exciting possibilities, but so does the “micro” level of personal power producers from iPad rental to smartphones, new smart-watches and… the list goes on, right? Decentralized power generation—literally, “Power to the people”—is a topic we have covered before, and one we will update soon. Watch for it!
From computer rentals for post-production to audio visual (AV) equipment rentals for conference breakout sessions, an expert Account Executive can help you at (877) 266-7725. If you know what you need, visit our Quick Rental Quote page. We’re always ready to help in different ways, but with one goal: Your complete satisfaction!
With so many recent product announcements, upgrades, and rollouts, there is a lot of ground to cover. We’ll be discussing some of these things for weeks (or longer), so today’s post will be a “grand overview” of what Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft brought to market on Tuesday, October 22 aka the “Big Tech Day.”
A bushel of Apple stuff
At its October 22 event, Apple announced the iPad Air, a 9.7-inch device that’s 20% slimmer (at .3 inches) than previous iPads and weighs 1 pound. “The lightest tablet on the market,” according to Apple, it uses the same A7 chip in the new iPhone 5S. The iPad Mini finally got its Retina display, while the existing lower-res Mini becomes Apple’s entry point. The MacBook Pro line got a refresh rather than full upgrade, although weight and battery power are nicely optimized. Apple also announced pricing of its futuristic new Mac Pro which will be available “before the end of the year.”
Introducing a new software policy that makes the new version of Mac OS X Mavericks available free to anyone now using OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8. The productivity apps, iLife and iWork, will be bundled free on new iOS and OS X devices, with upgrades freely available, too.
Major takeaway: Free upgrades forever? Free software that’s actually good? Apple is right: This will throw the industry into a tizzy.
Nokia & Microsoft: Wedding bell blues?
Nokia, which Microsoft (MS) will finish absorbing in early 2014, showed two phablets - Lumia 1320 and 1520 with 6-inch screens, which could draw business users. CRE’s long experience with mobile devices—from original tablet PC to current iPad rental—illustrates the growth of mobile computing, and Nokia wants in. On the admin side, Nokia’s former chief, Stephen Elop, rejoins MS to lead the handsets division, which could be anchored by Nokia’s low-end Asha line for emerging markets and budget buyers. Since they use Nokia’s proprietary Series 40 OS, they could serve as stepping stones into higher-priced Windows Phone products.
Major takeaway: Nokia’s low-end lines may give budget buyers a path into the higher-cost MS models, but some analysts fear possible “sales cannibalization.”
Microsoft (MS) launched its new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets at midnight Tuesday, October 22. CNET reported that the event was “loud and colorful and full of enthusiasm” and that the “only thing … missing is people that want to buy its new device.” The Surface 2 runs RT and has 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Surface Pro 2 with Windows 8 has two models: one with 4GB RAM offering 64GB or 128GB of storage, the other with 8GB RAM plus 256GB or 512GB. One leading tech site ran a long, positive review but concluded that “recommending the Surface becomes harder when there are other Windows tablets that cost less and run full Windows.” In fact, most reviewers ended up asking what no manufacturer wants to hear: Who will buy these products?
Major takeaway: MS seems to be flailing about. The Nokia buy could be a good thing, but could just as easily go sour.
Whether you need the best trade show convention rentals for an upcoming conference, or the latest in high-powered post-production gear, we can help! Call us at (877) 266-7725 or visit the Quick Rental Quote page and tell us what you need.
Graduation rates for women in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math) still lag behind men’s, but less all the time. In fact, qualified women are available in much greater numbers than popularly known, while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reports that women made up about 42 percent of its 2010 graduating class in engineering. So what happens after graduation?
Most of those grads went to work somewhere, many developing great expertise—using render farms in post-production work, joining NASA, doing R&D in medicine. Historically, however, women were long denied any opportunity for leadership, as inflexible corporate schedules took women off the “career track” for having children. Developing women’s leadership skills is, therefore, a retention tool, one that will also feed the pipeline with future leaders.
There is a vast untapped reservoir of tech-savvy women—teaching, updating Apple’s Xserve RAID designs, inventing new products. But they’re not all corporate employees, managers, and executives. They’re also entrepreneurs, business builders, and consumers. Here are three groups with markedly different approaches to supporting the advancement of high-tech women.
COO Elisa Page says, “Women are the most powerful consumers of the world and companies are still not reaching the core customer.” With some 4,250 bloggers writing on such topics as cooking, new marketing methods, women in tech, and career advice, the site reaches some 92 million women in the U.S. monthly. BlogHer compensates women for their writing while helping them grow their businesses—whether that business is blogging, retail sales, or technology services.
A compensation formula considers such variables as number of blogs and readers, feedback, and influence, leading to over $24 million in payouts since 2010. Beth Blecherman, a California BlogHer member, writes the Tech Mamas blog and advises startups that are creating products and services for families. Blecherman deftly combines the two worlds: the one of women creators, and the one of consumers. With BlogHer, women can be both.
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)
This nonprofit comprises more than 350 other American nonprofits, colleges, corporations, startups, government agencies, and community orgànizations. NCWIT’s aim is to boost women’s participation in computing and technology, through a wide range of community-based “alliances” that work at every level of the challenge, from training to placement assistance.
These alliances—academic, workforce, entrepreneurial, K-12, affinity groups—empower community members to leverage “an infrastructure of best practices, free resources, and an amplified voice for the issues surrounding diversity and technology,” as NCWIT materials state. NCWIT works directly with companies, agencies, and organizations to help them locate, recruit, train, retain, and advance tech-savvy women.
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
The Institute has a single goal—connecting women and technology—but travels a two-way street: one lane toward increasing the impact of women on technology, the other toward increasing the impact of technology on women. Institute CEO Telle Whitney knows “that innovative organizations must attract and retain the best technical minds, both women and men, to grow and succeed in today’s global economy.”
The pool of high-tech talent will continue to grow, requiring ongoing solutions for recruiting, retaining, and promoting women. The Anita Borg Institute, NCWIT, and BlogHer will encourage MIT and schools across America to keep teaching science, technology, engineering, and math to ever-increasing numbers of women, free at last from the tyranny of low expectations. And patriarchs beware: There is no going back.
Call (877) 266-7725 or send a message to get the swift, expert assistance of our Account Executives. Use the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. Either way, you get the right tech, at the right price, right now. It doesn’t get any better than that!
YouTube entrepreneurs and podcast producers sued; international tech titans battling in court; developers targeted for creating mobile apps; offices around the country threatened for being in possession of ordinary scanners. Innovators of all kinds, the very creators of the future, are falling victim to “patent trolls.” Trolls can be individual lawyers, legal firms, or some other type of company, but they all operate the same way, buying up patents and making sweeping claims of infringement.
With no “loser pays” system in the U.S., it is cheaper for firms to settle than fight—but for years there was no reason to do either. There was no patent protection afforded software even as Silicon Valley took over the world. It was the mid-1990s before a federal court determined that an “algorithm…in a general-purpose computer” could be “patentable.” The U.S. went from zero software patents about 20 years ago to around 100 per day now, a deluge that has overwhelmed patent examiners and allowed vague, overly-broad claims that do not “delineate the boundaries of the invention.” In the hands of skilled patent attorneys, unbounded claims can be applied in a sweeping fashion.
The trolls take a toll
There were 5,000 patent lawsuits in 2012. For the first time, more than half were initiated by trolls. One good thing: Patent trolls often own weak software patents that are often successfully challenged. Between 1995 and 2011, of cases that proceeded to a judgement, patent trolls only won one of four. Notoriously obnoxious trolls fared even worse, with the most frequent litigators winning a mere tenth of their cases. Another positive development is the recent, well publicized pushback against patent trolls by Newegg, Twitter, and others. Still, even the smallest companies taking a patent case all the way can spend $1 to $2 million or more. This is an impossible sum for many.
The actions of patent trolls essentially constitute a fee on innovation, once that’s increasing annually. American firms made almost $30 billion in direct payments to patent trolls in 2011, while the overall economic cost is likely much higher. Plus there are other problems besides trolls, like “patent wars” where firms fight it out in court instead of the marketplace. Had Steve Jobs been fighting with Samsung (and others) in the late 1990s instead of a decade later, he might not have had time to birth the iMac and change history. And yet, both Apple and Google spent more money in 2011 on buying and litigating patents than on R&D.
A bit of progress
Just last week, major troll Lodsys dropped its case against Kaspersky Labs. Until recently, Lodsys had been doing well—the firm went after Apple once or twice, tweaked a few other tech firms’ noses, but recently skedaddled out of several courtrooms with the corporate tail between their legs. And, while gradually fading out on the Kaspersky case, Lodsys tried sticking up Martha Stewart for $5,000. Now, that’s not a lot to Martha, but the Lodsys brain trust should have, at the very least, read a few Cosmo or Elle columns about the lady—or a few tabloids, what the heck? So now, on top of everything else, they’ve gone and upset Martha Stewart? Game over. Those guys are so doomed. And amidst new patent reforms, more and more companies are starting to fight back.
From intense post-production tasks with an AJA Io HD to conference breakout sessions with our first-rate trade show convention rentals, our expert Account Executives will meet your precise needs. Call 877-266-7725, send a message, or speed things along even faster with our Quick Rental Quote form. When you’re ready, we’ll be here to help—any time, in any way, whatever you need! Call now!
Historically, the media has done a very poor job of explaining science and technology. Before major news outlets apply a sensationalist slant to the reports, we’ll let you in on the details of the (slight) slowing of Internet traffic growth. Following 2011, when average international Internet traffic grew by 39 percent and peak traffic by a whopping 57 percent, these figures dropped in 2012 to 35 and 33 percent, respectively. The days of triple-digit growth rates are over, except for some developing countries. What’s the deal, and what does it mean?
Research firms such as Gartner, eMarketer, Forrester Research, and TeleGeography all attribute the slowed growth of capacity and traffic to several factors:
fewer new broadband accounts in the more mature markets;
the advent of content delivery networks (CDNs); and
local caching schemes that, like the cache in your iMac, will store desired content close by, reducing need for capacity and bandwidth.
Time and timing
It’s also a matter of time. Researchers at eMarketer predict time spent online to grow by a mere 3.6 percent in 2013 to an average of 2 hours, 53 minutes daily. In 2011, daily time spent online had grown over twice as much, 7.7 percent, to 2 hours, 47 minutes. Since time spent online is up to nearly three hours, double-digit growth rates are decreasingly likely. This is true even if consumers increase the number of activities and spend additional time with either their MacBook Pro or their desktop PC. Time spent online cannot increase forever.
Even with the CDNs and caching methods, service providers will be investing great sums in network architecture and infrastructure. Despite some of the “big-picture” numbers dropping, traffic volume per user in the advanced markets is up—thanks to movie lovers, tablet PCs with WiFi, music aficionados, gamers, and multi-tab conversationalists using video-calling and group meeting apps. And, of course, the many different developing markets with below-average broadband penetration offer room for growth.
Mobile’s where the action is
Estimates from eMarketer and others suggest American consumers have doubled the time spent on mobile devices—for internet browsing, online app use, game playing, music, video—since 2011. The growth guesstimate for 2013, not counting strictly “talk time,” is some 50+ percent to an average of 1 hour, 22 minutes daily, nearly 2.5 times as much as 2010. The challenge for business owners, as opposed to consumers, is to ensure that employees use smartphones, Xserve RAID units, and even inkjet cartridges in the most cost-effective manner. (Watch for a blog on “office efficiencies” soon.)
Mobile growth will continue, meaning the decreasing online presence of the standard corporate PC or computer rental, laptops, net-connected “smart” TVs, game consoles, and other non-mobile net devices (though they may grow slowly). Mobile, on the other hand, has exploded from a small base, with growth in time spent online goosed by swift acceptance of smartphones, tablets, and our own iPad rental. Still used by a minority of netizens, these devices will proliferate, current users will transfer digital activities to their mobile space, and (voila!) mobile will suck up an ever-increasing amount of consumer time—while putting the brakes on faster online traffic growth. Or will it? We’ll just have to keep an eye on things and let you know.
Whatever technology rentals you need to push through a project, or make a great showing at the next conference, CRE has everything from high-octane post-production gear like render farms and mass storage to the best event production rentals. One call to 877-266-7725, a short message, or a trip to our Quick Rental Quote form is all it takes. Call now!
Once again, we take a day off from serious stuff—new flexible displays, Microsoft’s woes, the latest from Apple—and consider some of the fun, cool things that technology makes possible. Countless ideas for low-, mid-, and high-tech “fun ’n’ games” are percolating throughout the world. Many are quite innovative, others a bit odd, and some just plain silly. Be that as it may, here are some the latest ideas for digital diversion.
Straighten me out, man!
Those of us who spend much of our work and leisure time hunching in front of a screen are beginning to learn just how much havoc it can wreak on our bodies. Instead of having a physical therapist boss you around at a health facility after the damage is done, you can buy a desktop gadget to keep you attentive to your posture now. The Visomate USB Posture Alert Reminder plugs into your computer and clips to your MacBook Pro screen or desktop monitor. It then tracks your position with ultrasonic waves, alerting you when you lean up too close or bend back too far. Lean too far left or right and you get a flashing LED.
Were the 1980s really that great?
Nostalgia is a great marketing tool, and the 1980s are what a lot of folks these days seem to feel nostalgic about. Insert a CRE iPad rental, or your own device, into a scale model arcade game cabinet and you have all you need for an awesome celebration of 30 years of gaming. A free Atari’s Greatest Hits app is included, and the iCade works with over 500 games including 100 Atari classics such as Centipede, Asteroids, and Battlezone. You can avail yourself of the usual in-app purchases, but you are also able to update existing and future apps for use with the iCade. A full-size joystick, eight fat arcade-style buttons, and a period-perfect look and feel promise hours—eventually years—of exciting, nostalgic fun.
Entertainment for the throne room
The iPod has always been a mobile device, and you can get alarm clock docks, belt clips, car drink-holder inserts, and phony boom boxes to keep it close at hand or take it far afield. It even has a place among the event production rentals you acquire for that big conference, as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, since it’s a great way to carry media in a small form factor. Atech Flash Technology has now taken the iconic iPod to the final frontier—the bathroom.
The iCarta2 Stereo Dock for iPod with Bath Tissue Holder is not the slickest product name ever, but it offers a complete description. Mounted on the wall, the iCarta2 features four thankfully “moisture-free speakers.” Two fold out from each side, providing nubs on the inside surfaces to mount the toilet paper roll. It also charges your iPod while it’s docked, so you can keep the party going as long as you need.
• • •
It doesn’t cost a cent to brainstorm solutions to your post-production, conference, computing, and business rental needs with an experienced CRE Account Executive. Call 877-266-7725 or send a note here to get assistance now. If you already know what you need, you can submit a Quick Rental Quote request 24/7/365! We are always ready to help!
After the usual dramatic buildup and better-than-average media circus, Apple debuted its new iPhone 5 models (the colorful C and superior S). The firm went on to sell nine million over the first weekend. It was yet another great product debut from the Cupertino techmeisters, but already the buzz is building for iPhone 6, rumored to have a larger screen and new alloy body. One question lingers, however: Were there really nine million people left who didn’t already have a smartphone, either iPhone or Android? (BlackBerry? What’s that?) How many of those buyers were iPhone users already? How many will always be? That question is for another day, as now we consider a bigger picture.
Only six years? Really?
Seriously, now, since the original smartphone was the 2007 iPhone, we now have some six years of experience with these devices. We know what they can do, and what they can’t, as some 90 percent or more of smartphone innovation, say the know-it-alls, has happened already. As we know from the iMac example, Apple and other smartphone makers will do a lot of revising and tweaking, particularly to improve interoperability with consumer electronics, vending machines, point-of-sale (POS) systems, etc. But the smartphone is a mature category with an established form factor. If “design creep” sets in, and makers keep stuffing in keyboards and enlarging displays, it’s time for another form factor. Say hello to phablets.
Fact is, smartphones are reaching saturation point in many regions, according to Glen Yeung of Citi Research. Writing at the Wall Street Journal‘s MarketWatch website, Yeung says, “Developed markets are approaching full saturation, suggesting that smartphones are nearing replacement-only mode.” Other analysts counter that no such saturation exists, and also point to the 3G/4G capabilities of devices from digital cameras and desktop computers to iPad rentals. As smartphones took 51.8 percent of all mobile phone sales in Q2 of 2013, topping feature phone sales for the first time, end-user mobile phone sales totaled 435 million globally, up 3.6 percent since Q2 2012. What saturation, many ask?
Accelerating tech adoption
It’s all about momentum and maturation, Yeung explains. Smartphones have been adopted faster than PCs—a mini-PC that phones home is pretty handy—so the market peaked early. It took the desktop PC market a dozen years to mature (saturation 2008), laptops 10 (saturation 2012). Smartphones and tablets, Yeung continues, “are expected to mature in 2015, giving smartphones a product life cycle of seven years and tablets one of five years.” All of today’s technologies—including all the mundane (and vital) things in CRE’s office equipment rentals inventory: printers, copiers, scanners—are being adopted, revised, and reborn in accelerated fashion. Like kids today, they’re growing up fast.
If smartphone sales do hit a ceiling, there will still be tech companies entering the market from every direction. Remember, though, that the devices—from tablet PCs or phablets to wearable phones—are perhaps even more valuable for the enormous opportunities to heap all kinds of software and services on top of them. Nothing in the smartphone market will be revolutionary at this point, but that’s fine. Since we move ahead through constant change and adaptation, we need to put our trust in good old evolution.
CRE Rentals can help you with the finest convention rentals for your next conference, or equip a branch office with everything from PCs to Xserve RAID backup and storage. Call 877-266-7725 or send a message to connect with an experienced Account Executive, or tell us what you need with the Quick Rental Quote form.