Gadgets of the month: the PC flails as mobile devices flourish in Q1 2013

29 Apr 2013

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month and look ahead at what’s to come.

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

This month…

Vital statistics

As we reach the close of the first quarter of 2013, statistics are flying in, revealing a lot about consumers’ changing taste in computing.

Earlier in the month we had reports from Gartner and GfK sounding the death knell for PCs and celebrating the triumph of mobile devices. Figures from ABI Research forecast shipments of 150m tablet devices in 2013, with sales to reach over US$64bn – an increase of 28pc on last year.

ABI also sees the tide turning toward Android and, while Apple continues its reign at the top of the global tablet market, Google’s platform is fast catching up. Strategy Analytics attributes 48.2pc of the market to Apple with 43.3pc for Android in Q1 2013. This is a notable shift, as at the same time last year Apple dominated with 63pc of the pie and Android was a distant second with 34.2pc. At that time, too, Microsoft wasn’t even involved in the competition, but Windows 8 has had an impressive first few months, reaching 7.4pc tablet market share worldwide.

We’ve also seen global sales of smartphones overtake feature phones for the first time this quarter, according to IDC figures. The worldwide mobile phone market grew 4pc year-on-year, with 418.6m units shipped, and 51.6pc were smartphones.

Image via wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Image via wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

In Ireland, digital device ownership is on the up and up and a recent Household Sentiment Survey from Eircom forecasts that 1.2m homes will have a tablet device by the close of this year. Tablet computer ownership in Ireland has doubled in last six months and some 15pc of people surveyed plan to buy one in coming months. Smartphone ownership is also up from 39pc to 50pc, indicating around 1.6m devices in the Irish market.

But the hot new thing in tech is wearable devices. IHS predicts shipments of smart glasses to hit up to 6.6m by 2016, driven by significant growth next year when Google Glass reaches public availability. So far, 1,500 Google Glass Explorer Edition headsets have been shipped to those selected to trial them first.

And we also have the advent of smartwatches to look forward to, with Microsoft now allegedly ready to join the fray along with Sony, Apple, Samsung and Google.

Coming soon…

Xbox: the next generation

We’re very excited to hear what Microsoft will have to offer with its next-generation Xbox, and we might not even have to wait until E3 in June if reports of a preview on 21 May prove true.

Rumour has it the games console – which has already become more of a media hub through the platform’s latest developments – will be more like a set-top box. It may also have a more advanced Kinect system that can detect a user’s eye movements and pause the screen if he or she looks away.

Sony’s DualShock 4 teaser

Not to be outdone by the building excitement for the new Xbox, Sony has released a video delving into the DualShock 4 wireless controller – so far the only piece of kit related to the upcoming PlayStation 4 that we’ve glimpsed. Features of the new controller include a light bar that allows the console to track users’ movements and recognise which player is holding the controller, a multi-touch touchpad, a dedicated ‘Share’ button, and a built-in speaker to enhance that all-important immersive experience.


Mega phones

This year has been dubbed the year of the phablet and Samsung has stretched its Galaxy range to include the Mega: a 6.3-inch smartphone powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The giant smartphone comes with Samsung’s latest technologies introduced with the Galaxy S4, such as Air View, which lets a user preview content by hovering over the screen with his or her finger.

Both the Mega and its slightly smaller 5.8-inch alternative, the Mega 5.8, are expected to hit Europe in May, and by then we may know more about the Windows Phone 8 phablet that Nokia is apparently working on.

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.