Today, I read, the washing machine is the third most important invention in the history of man. Only the third? Yes, it comes behind the internet and broadband which, in most lay eyes are one and the same thing. So in reality, the humble washing machine is almost the most important, the most life changing, the most scintillating of inventions in the history of man.Read More
How many among the millions actually do want a default "family friendly" filtering service? Not many, it seems. BT reports a 5% take up, at Sky it is 8% and only 4% of Virgin users are at all concerned about internet content. Only over at Talk-Talk, for some unfathomable reason, do 36% of customers think censorship is a good idea. Perhaps this says more about TalkTalk's customers than about the nation as a whole.Read More
Apple has obviously considered all the implications, from the splitting of the iPhone market to the impact this could have on iPad (in particularly iPad mini) sales. We are entering a period of convergence, just as the iPhone itself was a convergence of many different stand-alone technology products, and I suspect the distinction between call-enabled devices and the now-familiar tablet will become blurred.Read More
Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has accused the late Steve Jobs of ruining the country's employment market by selling innovations that caught Finland's companies off guard. Two industries? Yes, Apple's sneaky iPhone crushed the mighty Nokia and the disruptive iPad knocked out the forestry industry. We're not using as much paper, you see.
Please shed your tears for Finland.
So the spooks of Germany's Bundesnachrichtendientst (don't you just love that language?) are giving up their hackable and wormable computers for good old fashioned typewriters. The standard Bundesnachrichtendienstbeamtersschreibmaschine¹ (more respect for the German language....) will henceforth grace every secure desk as Merkelland fights a rearguard action against the perfidious NSA.
Dropbox is to open an office in the UK So it is now a case of over priced and over here, to borrow a second-World War metaphor. Come on Dropbox UK, let's have some pricing action. If you still want to woo me with your American charm, better reduce the cost of the nylons and the chewing gum.Read More
Apple has just announced another good set of results for the second quarter of the calendar year, with a sharply increased gross profit margin just short of 40%, compared with 37% a year ago, and substantial increases in sales of iPhones (up 13%) and Macs (up 16%). iPads are down by 9% and iPods, predictably, show a further decline of 36%.
Macstories has put together a series of graphs which explain the quarter's figures in more detail.
Handwriting, notebooks, pens, all are objects of fascination to me. I love to see beautiful script and wish that my skills had improved rather than deteriorated in the face of technological convenience. Patrick Rhone, who writes The Cramped, a blog dedicated to all things connected with writing, does wonders in promoting a return to more traditional methods of recording our thoughts.Read More
It's a fact that, even allowing for tax differences, tech products are generally cheaper in the USA than they are in Britain. British consumer magazine, Which?, believes that consumers here are being ripped off big time by global companies that see the UK as an easy touch. The publication highlights a particular Samsung television that is £755 more expensive here than in the US.
Comparing prices is difficult. For starters, local tax has to be taken into account. All British retail prices are quoted inclusive of Value Added Tax, currently 20 percent. In the USA prices are always shown net because of the wide variation between sales taxes in the various states. It is just not possible in the US to advertise a tax-inclusive price for this reason. However, with a typical state salesl tax of around six percent, which is added at checkout, there is still a big gap between the final prices in the two countries.
Apple is by no means alone in quoting showing prices in the UK than in the US, even after taking tax into account. The company has said in the past that the cost of doing business in the UK is higher than in the US and, to some extent, this is a valid comment. But it doesn't explain the sometimes huge differences.
While in Washington DC last month I priced a fully-specced 13in MacBook Pro retina with upgraded processor, 16GB of memory and a 1TB SSD. This is the machine I am likely to be going for when I decide on a new computer later this year. In the USA this specification costs $2,699 before tax as you see from the screenshot. Even with, say, 6% added at the till it is still only $2,860, equivalent to around £1,685. As you can also see, the same computer bought in London will cost £2,239 or $3,825.
This is a startling difference of over $1,000. But, to be fair, we need to strip out sales tax--which is none of Apple's concern--and compare the net UK price of £1,865 with the US equivalent, before sales tax, of £1,578 ($2,699). That's a more reasonable difference of £287. and one, I suppose, we have to live with.
There are other factors at play. Apple, in common with all organisations, has to fix a price list and stick with it for many months. During that time a company such as Apple copes with currency fluctuations, either taking the loss or the added profit as the exchange rates change. This year, for instance, the pound is on a roll and we get a many more dollars for our pounds. As a result, goods in American stores now appear cheaper to us.
Earlier this year the pound was trading a good ten cents lower. So if we used a conversion factor of, say, $1.61 the above price comparisons (before tax) would be £1,578 to £1,676, a smaller difference of only £98.
The only thing you can say with certainty is that it is ultimately cheaper to shop in the USA because of the huge difference in sales tax between the continents. Some people, not me I would add, are prepared to break the law and attempt to smuggle in a large-value item such as a MacBook Pro in order to save a chunk of change. However, this is potentially a mug's game because of the clear risk of confiscation. Often it isn't just a matter of saying sorry and paying the tax, there will be penalties to pay and you could lose your computer.
So, my final conclusion is that if the tax difference is taken into account, then perhaps we are not getting such a bad deal after all. If we don't like the tax it is our democratic right to elect a government that will slash taxes, whether direct or indirect, because this is the best way to stimulate growth.
If you want to raise your blood pressure and marvel at rip-off tech, where better to read all about it than here in the Daily Mail.
Naked Writst: Is there really a place for a wrist watch among the younger generation?Read More
Today's announcement of a world-wide co-operation between Apple and IBM has the makings of one of the most successful tech partnerships in history.Read More
This summer Virgin Media is upgrading many areas of the UK from ~120Mbps to 150Mbps and my turn came this week.Read More
As Geoffrey Moore explained, the marketing of technology products needs to be varied as we get into different phases of the market. Innovators (first 2.5%) need to be sold on the premise of novelty itself. Early adopters (next 13.5%) seek status and exclusivity. Early majority (34%) seek acceptance and Late Majority (34%) seek pragmatic productivity. Laggards (last 16%) seek safety.Read More
This week six years ago Steve Jobs launch the Apple App Store for iOS devices. It is now hard to imagine how we ever managed without it. Not only has it transformed the way we use and interact with our phones and tablets, it has revolutionised the whole rigmarole of buying and installing software, not only on smartphones but also on the Mac.Read More
Why continue the practice of incremental naming of successive iPhone models, wonders Evan Niu at The Motley Fool? I can understand his point, but I am not sure I agree. There is something reassuring in a clear progression of model numbers. When they are gone, confusion reigns and we have to start qualifying models with their characteristics.Read More
The forgotten finger has made a comeback. If you are wondering what on earth use is your pinkie, all is about to revealed. It was created especially to steady your iPhone while texting. Mashable reveals all here.
Vodafone has extended the benefits of its popular EuroTraveller scheme to eight distant lands although the cost has risen. As a frequent traveller around Europe I now take full advantage of Vodafone's existing EuroTraveller plug-in which, for £2 a day allows you to roam without worrying about costs. With EuroTraveller, whatever deal you get in Britain—in my case this includes unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 8GB of monthly data—can be used also in other European countries.Read More
This week I decided to resurrect the Air for a four-day visit to Denmark, primarily because I wanted to do some serious writing and I balked at carrying the heavier laptop.Read More
The Sony Walkman in its day was one of the several wonders of the world. How could something so small produce such a wonderful sound?Read More
Every week, it seems, we hear more evidence that Microsoft's strategy in the last decade or so has not worked. Windows is now occupying the low ground as more any more consumers of choice defect to Apple and to non-Microsoft smart devices.Read More