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Let’s talk about the new, 12-inch MacBook Air. Typically, I don’t comment on speculation but 9to5mac seems confident about their information. Anyway, this isn’t about the MacBook Air per se and more on how Apple is still willing to take big risks — which is fantastic — and about their view on computing.

Here’s the quick rundown on those MacBook Air rumors:

  • 12-inch display in an extremely compact design
  • One USB Type-C port, one headphone port and…that’s it for ports
  • Smaller than standard keyboard
  • Trackpad has no mechanical key

The Type-C port, in addition to its typical USB functionality, is also capable of powering the laptop and driving displays. The thinking is that one port will be used for all those things and via hub when needed.

This is a risky design. The Type-C port will break easy compatibility with accessories, similar to the lightning port for iPhone and iPad, and will surely piss some people off. The smaller keyboard may annoy Apple lifers. Removing the mechanical key on the trackpad means the likelihood that a touch is misinterpreted as a tap is higher.

So why do it?

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I’ve long maintained that the real competition for Chromebooks aren’t Windows PCs, they’re tablets. Here’s what I wrote:

[The Chromebook] is a device people with low computing needs might deem good enough. It’s capable for mail, web browsing and light office work; and for most people, that’s all they ever need…You know what else is excellent for low computing needs? Tablets, which have already been eating into the PC market for years for precisely that reason. If Chromebooks didn’t exist today, I suspect more tablets would have been sold in its place instead of Ultrabooks.

Chromebooks so far have found most success in the education market, where the device has gone head to head with — you guessed it — the iPad. I also wrote how ridiculous it is for schools to choose iPads over Chromebooks:

Education for children of that age is also relatively basic — it’s about teaching them where and how to research information (browser), how to type (keyboard) and how to write reports (Google docs) — and for that Chromebooks are perfectly adequate. You don’t need anything more advanced (Office) until later, where a similarly priced Windows machine might make more sense.

What doesn’t make any sense are iPads. iPads are consumption devices — what would you need to teach about consumption to kids? Here’s a videogame you should play? Here’s how you watch videos? Here’s how you use Facebook?

Why would you teach a child how to type with an onscreen keyboard instead of a real one?

Add to it the fact that iPads cost nearly twice as Chromebooks, and it just boggles the mind that iPads are doing well in schools at all.

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Old time iPhone users, “I told you so.” If I got a dollar every time an iPhone enthusiast told me a 3.5-inch display is the perfect size, and then of course, a 4-inch display, I’d be beaching in the Maldives by now.

Pocket is seeing huge shifts in usage with the iPhone 6 and especially with the iPhone 6 Plus. iPhone users who had an iPhone 5 or 5S and then got an iPhone 6 Plus read an astonishing 65% more articles on the bigger (and better) phone.

Consuming on the iPhone 6 Plus is so good, iPhone users are using their iPads dramatically less. With the puny iPhone 5S, people consumed 55% of the time on the iPhone and 45% on the iPad. Then those same people upgraded, and now they consume 80% of the time on the iPhone 6 Plus and only 20% on the iPad. With a phablet, there is much less need for a tablet.

iPhone 6 users also saw a similar usage bump, just in smaller amounts relative to its superior sibling.

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As expected, according to IDC, iPad sales declined 13% year-over-year while the tablet market grew 7%. That’s bad for Apple. Part of it is the longer replacement cycle; another is that iPads are not competitive with “good enough” Android tablets that cost substantially less. But this is a story we’ve explored before on the Cornerplay.

What’s more interesting is Windows 2-in-1 hybrid devices, which IDC reports at 4% of the market while pure Windows tablets are just 0.6%. That means 2-in-1s are 87% of all Windows tablets.

While those are tiny numbers, Windows tablets grew 67% in an environment where iPads actually declined. IDC expects this forward momentum to continue, and for Windows to achieve 11% market share by 2018.

What do we think? Predicting technology is like trying to thread a needle on top of a speeding train, but we’re up for the challenge.

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The Internet is in a tizzy now that editing documents in Office for iOS and Android is free for non-businesses. Remember when Microsoft finally made Windows Phone free for OEMs? We all thought, it’s about time, by which of course means it’s too late. The fact that people are surprised by this particular move means it’s not too late.

It’s actually not that crazy of a move. 90% of Office’s revenue comes from businesses (if memory serves me correctly), so there’s not much cannibalization at risk. Further, Microsoft was never been able to monetize Office on the web or on mobile.

People don’t get Office 365 just so they can edit documents on their iPads; they get Office 365 for the PC and iPad compatibility is just a bonus. Creating and editing Office documents on mobile remains a niche activity; and arguably one that average consumers aren’t currently willing to pay for.

Think of Office on mobile devices as an extension of Office on the web — something free for light users but not a replacement for heavy users, who still prefer PCs with large screens and keyboards to do work.

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Along with the Nexus Player, which disappointed, Google’s Nexus 9 was also recently released and reviewed. It’s been described as having an OK display; good but not jaw dropping performance; above average speakers; nice feel but with small, noticeable flaws; and generally not something that beats the iPad given its $400 price. Lollipop is awesome as expected.

That’s all well and good, but there are two things about the Nexus 9 I was particularly interested in from an industry point of view:

  1. The Nexus 9’s size and weight
  2. Its dedicated keyboard cover

Is the 9-inch display the best of two worlds, or the worst? Is the Nexus 9 an appreciably good productivity device?

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Now that I have the Surface Pro 3, my Surface 2 has been gathering dust. So it is with sadness that I finally put it up for sale. The Surface 2 was a wonderful device that exceeded my expectations.

It got me thinking about the Surface line. It’s a great device, yet did so poorly in the perception game. What could Microsoft have done differently with a mulligan?

When the Surface RT was announced, hell had frozen over. Microsoft haters and fans actually agreed on something, that the Surface had no future because of Windows RT. What’s the point of a device that has the limitations of Windows (no tablet apps) and none of its strengths (no PC apps)?

So I got the Surface Pro. With time, however, I realized I only did three things with it: 1) browse the Internet, 2) play media and 3) work with Office. If not for Office, I wouldn’t even need the desktop. Moreover, the Pro was just too thick and heavy.

That’s how I arrived at the Surface 2. The Surface 2 fulfills those three needs well and in an amazingly portable form factor too. It was also a lot cheaper!

What if Microsoft had just branded the Surface as an Office device? Office was (is) the only reason to get a Windows RT device, so why not just go all in on that fact?

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