A whole bag of Apple-related news snippets have flooded in from various places today, as the company deals with the price of market success, app store shenanigans and the risk of being road-tested by those ultimate fuddy-duddies, British Parliamentarians. Oh, and something called the iPad 3 might be happening soon.
Apple, Samsung Powering Ahead
The latest batch of analyst figures show that Apple led the market in smartphone sales in the last quarter, with it leading in most categories, according to IDC. Apple shipped 37 million units over Samsung's 36 million, enjoying a 23.5% market share over Samsung's 22.8%. So, it's nip and tuck at the top with the rest some distance behind.
However, Samsung's army of lesser Android phones saw its overall growth shoot up 275%,compared with Apple's three-device portfolio that grew by a paltry 128.4%. That means Samsung should have a healthy lead by the first quarter results for 2012. With the dynamic duo of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 waiting in the wings, both Apple and Samsung will be looking to get every sale they can before Microsoft gets up some genuine momentum.
The Black Market
With all those millions of smartphone sales, it's no surprise that companies are offering all sorts of shady services to help developers boost the profile of an app. Apple has come down hard on those who would use such services, threatening them with delisting from its store.
Basically, a service will offer to boost your app in return for a few thousand dollars, using bots to download the free version via a host of fake accounts. Once it gets higher up the rankings, more real users will spot the app, and legitimate downloads, and hopefully purchases, will follow.
This boosting goes against Apple's store terms and conditions and, while it's little more than what most would call cheap marketing, the tactic is decidedly on the snake oil and payola side, so Apple will be monitoring downloading profiles carefully and watching out for dodgy tactics.
The iPad 3 Comes Alive
Looking further ahead to the next generation, according to a recent interview from screen technology analysts DisplaySearch, they seem to think iPad 3 won't hit until April as the screens (possibly from Sharp or LG) won't be ready in time for the March launch, which consensus had firmly agreed on. The need for a retina-class or HD display on the next iPad is seen as a key seller.
Further insightful details about the tablet have come from the folk at iFixit who base their usually accurate predictions on having to repair the existing models. They have thoughts on ruggedized models for students, how to improve the device and what features it will likely have in further future versions.
But Beware the Users
With its success in many industries -- aviation, medical and so on -- the iPad may soon be appearing in that most august of institutions, the British Houses of Parliament. The vast tomes of legal and political information members must wade through would be a lot more palatable on an iPad, so the U.K. is looking at up to US$ 600,000 on a scheme to give each of the 650 members an iPad.
With vast savings in paper-based document handling to be made, the move would be seen as a positive economic and environmental one. However, as soon as one MP loses his or her iPad in the back of a taxi with some obscure policy document open, the tech love affair would soon go sour for the tabloids. Similarly, while many MPs are modestly technologically adept these days, you can still expect the odd buffoon to do something embarrassing to, or with, one.
The wider implications are obvious. If other industries see something as traditional as Parliament using tablets, then the race will be well and truly on for the adoption of digital data, no matter how fusty the establishment.