Technology Journalist and Copywriter

Kate O'Flaherty


Welcome to my blog, featuring industry musings and opinions on the latest products

By kateoflaherty, Sep 11 2013 09:49AM

The launch of the iPhone 5S saw Apple take a long hard look at its architecture, but the form factor remains the same.

Last night's event also saw the launch of the iPhone 5C, a cheaper but certainly not cheap, version of its device to sit in the mid-range of the portfolio. The handset is hardly a revolution, but it does see Apple offering more choice in the mid-sector, taking a long-overdue swipe at its Android rivals. It also sees the manufacturer target the lucrative teen market, taking aim at ailing BlackBerry.

Additional business features are a sign of Apple targeting the enterprise market, as an increasing number of iPhones continue to infiltrate BYOD scenarios. This was already evident within iOS7's features, and Apple further fuelled this when it announced last night that free app downloads including Keynote will allow users to get involved with productivity from the get-go, when they buy an iPhone 5S.

Last night's iPhone launch didn't see the bigger screen desired by many, a feature that is ever-present on its biggest rival Samsung's multitude of smartphones. But it did see the introduction of a super-fast A7 chip, fingerprint scanner, top notch camera and motion coprocessor for fitness - viewed by some to be the equivalent of the rumoured iWatch on a smartphone.

Apple's event wasn't full of surprises; most of the information had already leaked online. One of the biggest revelations was the removal of the iPhone 5 from Apple's line up; the manufacturer has never taken away such a new model before. Instead, users can buy the iPhone 5S as the high end model; the iPhone 5C as the mid range; and the iPhone 4S as the free phone on a contract.

iPhone 5S features

• Available in gold, silver and 'space grey'

• A7 chip brings 64-bit desktop-class architecture; up to twice the CPU and graphics performance

• M7 motion coprocessor that gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload work from the A7 for improved power efficiency

• Touch ID, a fingerprint scanner built into the home button, uses a laser cut sapphire crystal, together with the capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint and intelligently analyse it

• 8 megapixel iSight camera features a larger f/2.2 aperture and a new, larger sensor with 1.5μ pixels for better sensitivity and low-light performance

• True Tone flash variably adjusts colour and intensity for over 1,000 combinations; new Burst Mode, Slo-Mo video with 120 fps, a new FaceTime HD camera for better low-light performance

• Aluminium body with diamond cut chamfered edges, a 4-inch retina display and glass inlays

• 10 hours of talk time on 3G networks, up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and LTE networks and up to 8 hours on 3G networks, and up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback

• iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps available as free downloads with the purchase of iPhone 5S

• Suggested retail price of £549 for the 16GB model; £629 for the 32GB model and £709 for the 64GB model

By kateoflaherty, Aug 1 2013 09:10AM

Nearly a year after EE's launch of 4G in the UK, O2's move to offer the technology at the end of August is a welcome addition.

But O2 will need to raise the bar substantially if it is to lead in the LTE space. The operator's 4G announcement has been much more low-key than its rival EE, which launched 4G to 11 cities in October last year. In contrast, O2's network will go live in just three cities - Leeds, London and Bradford - indicating an urgency to get 4G out before EE steals even more of a march.

O2 will launch to 10 additional cities by the end of the year, with tariffs starting at £26 a month (slightly more expensive than EE's Sim-only £21 a month deal) but it hasn't yet revealed what customers get for this entry 4G package. O2 also hasn't indicated whether 'sharer' plans will be offered, allowing customers to share a 4G data plan in an office or between households and devices.

O2's Achilles' heal in both the business and consumer market will be a lack of iPhone on its 4G network. This will mean losing a huge proportion of the market in iPhone 5 customers, until the launch of the next Apple device later this year.

Yet O2 will fight its corner. Already a well-established player, O2's potential in the business market looks promising - and it's likely the operator will start pushing these credentials heavily. This is confirmed by O2's business director Ben Dowd, who is quoted as actively encouraging business users to sign up to 4G in today's statement.

As Vodafone waits in the wings to announce a 4G network as soon as next week, O2 has a long way to go before catching up with EE's 700,000 4G customers - and not having the current iPhone will hit it hard. But the operator has held the lead in the market once before; it will need to up its game - using deals, add-ons and clear messaging - if it is to do the same in the LTE space.

Read my TechRadar Pro article on choosing a 4G provider for your business.

By kateoflaherty, Apr 24 2013 11:05AM

When Apple revealed its first profit decline in a decade, the firm's share price had already plummeted. Investors are nervous, and it's no surprise.

Apple's closed strategy and lack of recent design innovation were sure to hit the firm eventually. With growing competition from Google and its open Android OS, Apple's bumper profits were always going to be difficult to maintain.

Apple's results beat analysts' expectations, at $9.5bn profit in the second quarter and $43.6bn in revenue. This compared to revenue of $39.2bn and net profit of $11.6bn in the same quarter a year ago.

But share price has halved since last September, when shares hit a high of $700, making Apple the most valuable company in the world. This compares to the period before yesterday's results, when shares plummeted to around $400.

Apple knows it needs to adjust. Yesterday, CEO Tim Cook announced the firm is adding $50bn to its share buyback programme and $8bn to its cash pile, bringing it to $145bn. He promised that despite shareholders' worries, "the most important aspect for Apple will be creating innovative products".

Rumours that Cook is to be replaced will be fuel to those who say the death of Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs was the catalyst for the firm's decline. Perhaps so, as Apple is guilty of a lack of innovation in recent times.

The iPhone 5 failed to replicate the popularity of its predecessors, with only minimal design changes and limited new features. At the same time, competitors such as Samsung have captured the interest of the consumer with alternatives such as the Android-powered Galaxy range.

It will also be interesting to see how things work out for Apple in the retail and operator space. The technology giant has always controlled these relationships - and the networks and retailers had no choice but to cooperate.

The mobile market is a rapidly evolving landscape, and demand for Apple products still remains alongside the late Steve Jobs' legacy. But Apple's walled strategy - led by Jobs - has played a part in its latest decline. Whether the firm now rises or falls will depend on its ability to adapt this strategy in the face of competition from rivals such as Google's Android.

By kateoflaherty, Nov 21 2012 05:01PM

The UK's last typewriter is a stark reminder of how quickly technology becomes obsolete, and how rapidly the market is moving.

The typewriter has had a good innings. After 130 years in the global mainstream, the machine is still going strong in the US, but its manufacture is no longer needed in the UK. In a world where the shelf life of a mobile phone is about a year, the typewriter's survival rate is pretty impressive - the first was manufactured in the US in 1830.

Unsurprisingly, the advent of the typewriter has led to further advancement in the technology sector. As well as providing women with solid (albeit dull) work at the start of last century, it inspired the design of the keyboard we use for our computers, mobiles and tablets. It contributed to our creative industries - journalists used them, writers, administrators. In my early 30s now, even I used one as a teenager. Computers were barely around when I started my first job.

The form factor and general usefulness of the typewriter aside, it's nice to be part of an industry that's always moving. From the humble typewriter through to powerful computers and smartphones we have today, to possibly the most significant - the advent of the internet - the tech world is advancing at an incredible pace.

Some observers even say the human race's technology advances outdo its biological findings and, despite the obvious credit due to scientists, I'd be inclined to agree. As someone I recently interviewed quite rightly pointed out, "we didn't fly to the moon by training birds".

And as the last typewriter sits in its new home at the Science Museum, you can't help but wonder which other technology will join it in the coming years. As the pace of the industry continues to accelerate, it can't be long before the iPhone is obsolete, too.

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