Hardware

Tim Bradshaw

Watching the Apple faithful grapple with its imminent acquisition of Beats Electronics has been fascinating.

The only thing Apple watchers seem to agree on is that nobody saw it coming, even though Reuters reported talks about some sort of tie-up over streaming music more than a year ago. It’s the ultimate example of Apple doing something nobody could imagine Steve Jobs doing. Read more

Sometimes it pays to be behind the times. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

A cheeky Apple advertisement appeared in several newspapers on Tuesday. Above a vast array of solar panels, it read: “There are some ideas we want every company to copy.”

The ad ran not only during Apple’s latest bout of patent litigation against Samsung, which continues in a San Jose courtroom, but on Earth Day, an annual reminder of our environmental responsibilities.

Apple used Earth Day to launch a new video ad, ‘Better’, narrated by chief executive Tim Cook himself, and a new portion of its website dedicated to its green achievements. These include powering its data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as 120 of its retail stores.

But perhaps more remarkable is that Mr Cook let Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, give an open and sometimes unscripted talk at Stanford University on Tuesday night. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Lytro caused a lot of excitement among photography enthusiasts when it launched in 2011. Billed as the third evolution of the camera after film and digital, Lytro’s unique “light-field” sensor allowed snappers to “shoot first, focus later”, as well as other “computational photography” tricks such as shifting perspective or add 3D elements to an image after the photo is taken.

However, the Silicon Valley start-up’s first camera was aimed not at hardcore photographers, but at a mass market. The $500, flashlight-shaped device was described by the FT’s Chris Nuttall as “an amusement for now”, due to issues such as a small screen/viewfinder and counter-intuitive controls, even if he predicted the underlying technology was “likely to change photography radically in the long run”.

Three years and one CEO change later, Lytro is back with a new device, the Illum. It is aimed more directly at those snap-happy early adopters, professionals and “aspiring amateurs” who were most enthusiastic about its technology in the first place but perhaps found version one fell short of their hopes. Read more

China invented printing several centuries before Gutenberg’s mechanical press in Germany. Now a Chinese company in Shanghai appears to have stolen a march over Europe in the race to build the world’s first 3D printed house.

A Shanghai company, Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co, says it made 10 3D printed houses (see photos) each costing $4,800 each in less than 24 hours, according to 3ders, a 3D printing industry website.

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Here’s Apple’s play in the world of cars, and it’s called, er, CarPlay. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Photo: Getty

Google is expanding the number of people who can get hold of Glass, as the FT reported late last year. Now a few friends of each of its first “Explorers” and selected other developers can purchase the experimental wearable device.

With all those new lenses wandering around, it hasn’t escaped Google’s notice that its wearers are getting “a lot of attention”. Google has talked to its existing community of Explorers for some tips on how to deal with the rest of the world, finally acknowledging that it can look “pretty weird”. Read more

Arm’s share-price surge on the crest of a smartphone wave over the past five years has been impressive, but the UK chip designer is now suffering and in search of a fresh sea change in technology. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Friday’s Personal Tech column reviewed the Narrative Clip, a small wearable camera that takes a photo every 30 seconds. Although it is a well-made product, I encountered some difficulties with the privacy aspects of wearing such a device, and felt that the images it produced were not worth the social awkwardness that it created.

Narrative’s co-founders are a thoughtful bunch and Oskar Kalmaru, the start-up’s chief marketing officer, sent the FT these comments in response: Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Apple speculators, take a breath.

Executives from the iPhone maker, including its head of operations, met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration last month, public records show, to discuss “medical applications”.

What could they possibly have been discussing? Read more

Are we seeing the emergence of a grand alliance between Google and Samsung for Android mobile devices, similar to the Microsoft-Intel alliance for Windows personal computers? It looks like that from events this week:

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Have we been taking too many tablets?

It seems markets are reaching saturation point with growth in the category slowing to 28 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter – down from 87 per cent a year earlier. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Hardware is hard, so the saying goes. Raising millions of dollars on Kickstarter or Indiegogo can create as many problems as it solves. So the recent explosion in hardware start-ups has produced a crop of incubator and accelerator programmes, such as Lemnos Labs and Haxlr8r. The latest, Highway 1, is a new project from Liam Casey’s PCH International, which typically handles supply chains for rather larger electronics companies such as Apple and Beats Electronics. Read more

Richard Waters

Forget the formal estimates: what Wall Street was really hoping for from Apple’s latest quarter was an acceleration in growth that would blow away the “official” forecasts.

The figures released on Monday failed to impress. At 51m, the number of iPhones sold in the quarter came in 2m short of estimates, though the 26m iPads topped most estimates. Within minutes, Apple’s shares had slipped more than 5 per cent.

Read below for our coverage of the earnings report and the company’s analyst call.

Read more 

Tim Bradshaw

Expectations are high that Apple can go back to its old forecast-busting ways when it reports earnings for its December quarter on Monday.

“Investors think that Q1 is going to be a blow-out and the Q2 guide is quite strong,” said analysts at Berenberg in a note after meetings with shareholders last week.

While the iPhone and iPad both look set to turn in double-digit percentage growth rates, falling prices and margins could minimise revenue and earnings growth.

Here’s what to expect after the markets close in New York: Read more

It sounds improbable. Dogged by closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, a narrow export base, pervasive monopolies and an over-reliance on remittances from abroad, Armenia’s economic future poses plenty of questions. Could one answer come in the shape of a tablet?

In December, Technology and Science Dynamics Inc/ArmtabTechnologies Company, an American-Armenian joint-venture, announced the first tablet and smartphone made-in-Armenia. Both Android-run, the ArmTab and the ArmPhone were designed in Yerevan and will be assembled in Hong Kong and the US. The producer said the devices, available for wholesale in a few weeks and to retailers in late 2014, were aimed mainly at the regional markets.

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Tim Bradshaw

In an interview on Monday afternoon, Nest’s co-founder and chief executive Tony Fadell told the FT that he sold the “smart home” company to Google because he wanted to focus on new product innovations, not worry about managing the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that handles all the data generated from its “Learning Thermostat” and “Protect” smoke alarm, and to ensure the company stays ahead of mounting competition. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The verdict is in and it’s unanimous. The best gadget of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show 2014 is not a curved television, a health-tracking wristband, a Bluetooth speaker or a connected car; in fact, it’s not even a finished product. Yet the latest prototype of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has so excited attendees that tech blogs the Verge and Engadget – not to mention this FT reporter – have named it their “best in show”. Read more

There was little evidence in the products at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that the PC industry is finding its way out of its funk, although latest figures on industry sales released overnight show the PC’s decline could be bottoming out.

2013 saw the worst decline in PC market history, according to the Gartner research firm, with shipments down 10 per cent on 2012 at 316m units. Read more

Enough of lofty keynote speeches and the distant projections of $19tn market opportunities. CES has finally, officially, started – so let’s get to the prototypes and devices in the here and now already. Read more