Monthly Archives: August 2013

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Credit: BigStockPhoto.com

If you had a chance to analyze the Net Applications’ May 2013 release of NetMarketShare monthly operating system statistics it would be clearly obvious to you (as it is the whole world) that sales of PC’s are continuing to dive. Yes, not just fall but dive! One factor that might be further accelerating this downfall is the infamous and notorious Microsoft Windows 8.

Windows 8: the Black Sheep of the Family

Reviewing the performance of Windows 8 since its release, one can safely conclude that Windows 8 easily lags behind its predecessor Windows Vista at identical points in their life-cycles; Windows Vista being the first rogue child of Microsoft’s Windows line up.

Don’t get me wrong. Windows is still the dominant desktop operating system. Amongst all operating systems currently available for PC’s, Windows 7 is ranked at the top. This is followed by the still popular Windows XP. Vista also makes this list coming in at number 3.

But what this list does not tell us is that Windows is not the dominant END user operating system if you include tablets and smartphones. What is even more troubling is that Windows 8’s growth rate lags further and further behind Vista’s dismal numbers when it was released in 2007.

If we track the lifecycle of both Windows Vista and Windows 8, Windows 8 in its first month was behind Vista by more than 0.5%. And now – a few months on – Vista is leading by a whopping 3.64 percent. Surprisingly, Vista was considered a “flop” when it was released, yet Windows 8 is turning out to be even more so.

Windows 8.1 to the Rescue?

Enter Windows 8.1., Microsoft’s desperate attempt to stabilize the sinking ship which is Windows 8. Hoping against hope, Microsoft has re-invented Windows 8 by coming out with Windows 8.1, or blue, if you prefer.

What remains to be seen however is:

      a) Has Microsoft made the right changes? And…
      b) Did these changes come too late for fans to forgive them?

My instinct tells me that things are not going to get better for Windows 8. Be it 8.1, 8.2 or even 8.10. For one thing the changes are not that significant. Microsoft has brought back the start button (in a way) but all it does is take us back to that dreadful Metro interface. I’m pretty sure Windows XP and Windows 7 users will not care about this at all.

But even if Windows 8.1 does get users to love Windows 8 just a bit more, there is no way that it will make people fall back in love with the PC again.

Windows and PC’s on the Decline

Coming back to the overall decline of the PC and, in turn, Windows losing its dominant position as the END user operating system, the following fact cannot be overstated in the least: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have captured the lion’s share of the end user market and command 65% market share as compared to Windows 35%.

Another setback for Microsoft is that Windows is currently considered a non-player when it comes to tablets and smartphones, even though there are Windows phones and tablets on the market. None of Microsoft’s smartphone/tablet OS’s – be it Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, or RT – even reached 0.01% of the market share.

So What’s Next?

Microsoft took a risk by revamping Windows with Windows 8. With Windows 8 it tried to create a platform that would work on PC’s, notebooks and at the same time be suited to touch devices such as tablets, smartphones and hybrids. Where Microsoft went wrong however was when they gutted the OS of some key features that normal users had come to think of as their birth right.

No doubt, for the near future Windows will still matter because some people will always need a PC. But the question that Microsoft needs to answer is how long people will put up with substandard Windows releases?

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We’re not sure what Samsung’s game plan is, but it seems that they release a new phone almost every week! In my opinion they want to saturate all segments of the mobile market and leave people no other option but to buy a Samsung. Could be effective if it works.

In this weekly showdown, Samsung recently announced another phone from its Galaxy series, the Galaxy S4 Mini. Although I don’t really see a point in releasing a gorgeous phone like the Galaxy S4 and then following it up with a Mini version, Samsung believes that there is a market for people who want the features of the S4 but not the size.

The past few years have seen phones getting bigger and bigger with manufacturers squeezing the tablet space, but according to Samsung there is a piece of the pie to be had for the huge Mega’s and Note’s as well as the diminutive Mini’s – this being proven by the successful launch of the S3 Mini.

Price and Features

Back to the S4 Mini; the Galaxy S4 Mini is scheduled for release in July. It is also possible to pre-order the phone now, if you just can’t wait and you’re willing to spend 500 euros to get one.

Although the 500 euros price tag does seem a bit steep for the Galaxy S4 Mini, especially when an additional 50 euros gets you big brother Galaxy S4, it does make up for it with its features. The Galaxy S4 Mini plays around in the 4 inch screen area, 4.3 inches to be exact. This used to be a standard on phones a few years back but now categorizes the Mini niche.

The only other major player still operating in this area is Apple with its iPhone. In the Android space, there are very few, if any brands offering high end specs in this segment. This may be the reason for the launch of the Galaxy S4 Mini and the success of the Galaxy S3 Mini.

Another reason for giving life to the Galaxy S4 Mini (or the mini series on the whole) could be to elevate Samsung’s flagship phones (S4s, S3s) above the competition, mainly the iPhone. The Mini’s with their similar size to the iPhone can be left to tackle it and the S4s can have an open playing field.

To give you a better idea of the Galaxy S4 Mini, below is a comparison between it, the iPhone and the HTC One S

comparison chart samsung galaxy s4

If you want my perspective, the Galaxy S4 Mini has more RAM, a better front camera and is lighter, with the rest of the specs being almost equal, making it superior to both the HTC One S and the iPhone 5.

However, the difference is not as significant as it seems on paper and of course there is the question of why shouldn’t I just spend a little more and get myself the Galaxy S4 (Biggie) instead?

The Verdict

Although it does make sense to target the smaller screen niche (even when you have a hit like the Galaxy S4), the S4 Mini might not give the consumer many reasons to lose focus on the S4 itself, especially when the price difference is not that significant. It however could be another nail in the coffin for the illustrious iPhone.

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cell tower

There are plenty of mobile service operators to choose from on the UK market, and knowing which operator to go for can be confusing. Whilst most operators offer an array of packages, some networks are simply better at some things than others.

Today we’re looking at the best operator to choose for various reasons, from those that offer the best business mobile deals to those that have the biggest calling plan options. So, if you’re looking to switch operators, or you’re signing your first mobile contract, then read on to find out which operator is going to be the best for you.

The Best Coverage

Coverage is pretty important when it comes to choosing an operator. Operators have different numbers of cell towers in different areas, meaning that some networks have better service in some areas than others. You can check out coverage on an operator’s web page. Poor coverage is going to give you poor service; you’ll get bad call quality and slow mobile data speeds, and may even find that your phone doesn’t work at all.

If you live in an urban area, you’ll probably find that you get decent coverage with most operators. However, those that live in more rural locations might have more of a problem. In general, the operator that offers the best coverage is T-Mobile, so if you’re having problems with getting service, you might want to look at their plans.

The Best Business Mobile Deals

If you’re looking for business mobile deals then the best company around is going to be O2, for several reasons. Firstly, O2 offers specific business contracts, with calling plans that are geared towards business customers, with high data limits and unlimited messaging. This means that you’ll have the good reliability of service that you need in a business phone. They also offer discounts to self-employed and freelance customers. Secondly, O2 has great deals on contract business phones.

Business phones tend to be high end, expensive models, and signing an incentive contract with O2 can get you a great business phone for little or no money down. And you don’t end up paying significantly more on contract than you would if you bought the phone direct. For business customers, O2 is a great choice.

The Best Mobile Data Plans

Whilst the cost of calling minutes and text messaging is fairly uniform amongst operators, the cost of mobile data isn’t. Data often makes up the most expensive part of your calling plan, meaning that operators often offer low data limits to keep prices down. If you’re an internet addict and want a great mobile data plan then you should look at Three. Three have the cheapest data plans on the UK market, as well as some of the largest. Plus, Three’s All You Can Eat data is truly unlimited.

Many operators offer unlimited mobile data but then employ a fair usage policy. This policy allows the operator to slow down your mobile data speeds if they think that you’re using too much data, even if your plan is supposed to be unlimited. Three do not have a fair usage policy so you can use as much data as you like.

The Best Big Calling Plans

If you’re a heavy phone user then you’re probably getting some pretty hefty bills. The problem with most mobile contracts is that they put a limit on the amount of text messages, calling minutes and mobile data that you can use for your monthly fee. Once you exceed those limits you end up paying some pretty expensive extra charges for any extra services that you use. Big users often break their monthly limits and therefore get big bills.

Heavy users can benefit from signing unlimited contracts that place no monthly limits on texts, minutes and data, but these plans are often pricey. However, T-Mobile currently offers the biggest calling plan for the cheapest price. The Full Monty plan is a completely unlimited contract and costs significantly less than any other comparable plan on the market.

The Best Roaming Operator

Anyone who frequently travels knows how expensive mobile roaming charges can be. With most operators you pay not only premiums for making calls and sending texts from abroad, but also for receiving calls and texts. These charges can add up to a pretty shocking bill when you get home. If you travel a lot and need to use your mobile then the best operator for you is going to be Orange.

You’ll have to sign a regular contract and then add a roaming package as an optional extra to take advantage of their great prices, but it’s worth doing. For a small extra fee each month you can use your mobile abroad for the same prices as you pay inside the UK. Plus, Orange offers the best prices for calling abroad as well. For travelers and those with friends and family out of the country, Orange gives you some great deals.

The Cheapest Operator

When it comes to low cost, Vodafone has the cheapest calling plans on the market. Be aware that these contracts do come with very low monthly limits, particularly for mobile data. However, if you’re looking to sign the cheapest contract that you can get and can keep to the limits that you are given, then Vodafone is the company to go with. These are particularly good contracts for light phone users.

The Best Pay as You Go Operator

If you don’t want to sign a contract and prefer to have a pay-as-you-go phone then most operators will meet your needs. The costs of texts, minutes and data are pretty much the same with nearly all UK operators nowadays. The one exception is Virgin Mobile, which offers more expensive calling minutes than any other network.

When it comes to benefits, Orange probably offers more than anyone else. Their Animal Plan programs will let you choose certain perks each time you load credit on to your phone. However, benefits change weekly as companies offer deals, so it’s worth comparing networks before getting a pay-as-you-go plan.

When trying to get find great business mobile deals Sam Jones knew exactly where to look. He had great success with online price comparison sites in the past and so sites like uSwitch were the obvious choice. Start with the information in this post, and then go do your own comparison if you need more details or are in a different location.

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