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Lack of innovation takes a bite from the Apple

Apple’s valuation dropping below $1 trillion immediately after updating its computer and tablet ranges shows how hard it is for the brand to please investors, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Apple released its latest computers and tablets last week, almost simultaneously with its share price falling by 7% as the market reacted to its latest results. The fall came in response to Apple’s flat smartphone sales figures after the latest iPhone release. 

This suggests that Apple is not able to grow sales due to low innovation levels and resultant low consumer motivation to buy the latest devices. Despite this, the company’s computer upgrades have been welcomed by those who use the previous generations. 

The new MacBook Air is the first update to the computer in almost four years. The latest edition has received a few adjustments from the previous generation. 

The MacBook Retina Display quadruples the number of pixels, compared to the previous generation, while the display size has been bumped up from 13 to 13.3 inches, due to the aluminium bezel being replaced with a thinner black glass bezel, similar to the rest of the MacBook line. 

A TouchID fingerprint sensor and butterfly keyboard keep the MacBook Air in line with the rest of the MacBook Pro line. Type-C ports replace most other ports, including the MagSafe charging port and Thunderbolt 2 ports.

The new Mac mini also received its first update in almost four years, introducing major hardware upgrades.

With quad- or 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core CPUs, the Mac mini could be anything from an affordable office Mac to a powerful video rendering computer. A T2 chip transcodes – live conversion – HEVC video up to 30 times faster than if they were transcoded on a typical mid-range CPU.

Connectivity is the name of the game with the new Mac mini. From left to right, it sports a 10Gbit Ethernet port, 4 USB Type-C ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, 2 standard USB 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

The latest iPad Pro gets a new screen, maximising design, which now resembles the latest iPhone.

The TouchID home button has been removed to make room for more screen real estate, and FaceID has been added as the facial recognition method. Wireless charging is included within the edge of the iPad to charge the new Apple Pencil by magnetic attachment. A new A12X processor makes the new iPad Pro around 2 times faster than the previous generation.

Overall, under the hood of these devices, Apple seems to be driving innovation more than over the past years. However, this does not seem to be enough to satisfy investors looking for a big bang.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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