Growth slows in IT sector

Growth slows in IT sector

As predicted, and has now been confirmed by the IDC, the IT market is tightening up. China has slowed its spending and the knock-on effects will impact everywhere. There will still be growth, but not as much as there was in 2012. The figures look likely to come in below earlier projections but, given that a tenth of a percent equates to tens of billions of dollars, even a small change can mean large sums of money not appearing in the market.

Spending on mobile devices is expect to rise until 2015, then flatten out as market saturation and balance with other devices is achieved. Any growth in Europe will be solely due to mobile devices, it is predicted, indicating that Europe will have the least growth of any market over the next couple of years. Not counting telecom services, tablets and smartphones now account for half of any growth figures averaged out worldwide.

As I mentioned recently in this column, the sales figures for Microsoft Surface have been terrible. As a result, the price of the Surface Pro in the US was recently cut by $100 (3,100 baht). If you read the fine print, though, this offer only applies to US-based buyers and it will expire on Aug 29. At $899 _ not to mention the $300 or so you have to shell out for a keyboard and software kit _ these units are definitely overpriced. An ultrabook of similar configuration costs around $799 these days. I don't see the Surface enticing people away from their tablet or ultrabook devices, especially at the current prices (even taking that discount into consideration).

Remember that ban on Apple devices? It seems that some people just can't do without their fruity devices and a trade representative of President Barack Obama has vetoed the US International Trade Commission's ban. Samsung and South Korea have responded by crying foul over the partisan nature of this decision. Apple is, of course, still trying to get Samsung devices banned across the planet, a fact that rather weakens the trade representative's argument about one company having too much influence in the marketplace.

Twitter in the UK has been forced to apologise for people abusing its service to send nasty and harassing messages to, and about, high-profile women. In response, Apple users now have a "report" button. Android users will need to wait until September for the same facility.

Microsoft has announced Office 365 Switch updates to its licensing plans. The plans appear to only affect single-step-up versions: small-to-medium business, for example, but not from small-to-enterprise; so if you're a business user, don't grow too fast. I suspect that Australian users will still be locked into the Telstra-only monopoly services that will make the medium-to-enterprise option unavailable to them.

Samsung has started production on what it has billed the "industry's first vertically stacked NAND flash-memory chip". Let me explain what that's all about. Take a regular NAND memory chip and start stacking the components vertically and you then call it a V-NAND. The first example will provide 128 gigabits of storage, stacking two levels high. It provides better speed, reliability and higher storage densities. Samsung currently has a target of 24 layers using a drill-down etching process to connect them all together. Others, like Crossbar, are sticking with more traditional manufacturing processes and they have a 1TB chip based on RRAM (resistive RAM). The winner will be the one who can provide the best cost per gigabyte and since we will always need more storage space, there are interesting times ahead of us over the next couple of years.

In other Samsung news, it appears the firm is also working on a new device. Patent documents monitors have found a filing for the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which is described as a "wearable digital electronic device" in the form of a "wristwatch, wrist band or bangle capable of providing access to the internet and for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages". Or what everyone else seems to be calling a smartwatch. The filing has a Galaxy tag, so it should be Android-based with a flexible screen that can be wrapped around the wrist or taken off and laid out flat. So now we can add Samsung to the Apple, Microsoft and Sony bandwagon, meaning that 2014 is looking set to be the year of the watch. A market for around 5 million of these devices is predicted.

From the some-people-have-way-too-much-time-on-their-hands department: a German PhD student has found a flaw in some Xerox WorkCentre photocopiers. Apparently, they change the number six to an eight. To be fair, he found the problem scanning at 200 dpi to a PDF with no Optical character recognition from documents using Arial 7-8 point. Still, you do expect your photocopier to make an accurate copy but, due to data-compression issues, there can be problems with six WorkCentre models and two machines in Xerox's ColorQube range.

Finally for this week. As reported a while back, the blink HTML element is no more _ with the latest version of Firefox no longer supporting the tag.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

James Hein

IT professional

An IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. He has a column in Bangkok Post tech pages and has been writing without skipping a beat every week all these years.

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