With increased demand from the pandemic, Canalys reports that U.S. PC shipments were up 73% over the same period last year. That added up to a total of 34 million units sold. While Apple had a good quarter with sales up 36%, it was surpassed by HP, which sold 11 million units in total with annual growth up an astonishing 122.6%.
As Canalys pointed out, the first quarter tends to be a weaker one for Apple hardware following the holiday season, but it’s a big move for HP nonetheless. Other companies boasting big growth numbers include Samsung at 116% and Lenovo at 92.8%. Dell was up 29.2%, fairly modest compared with the rest of the group.
Overall though it was a stunning quarter as units flew off the shelves. Canalys Research Analyst Brian Lynch says some of this can be attributed to the increased demand from 2020 as people moved to work and school from home and needed new machines to get their work done, but regardless the growth was unrivaled historically. ” … Q1 2021 still rates as one of the best first quarters the industry has ever seen. Vendors have prioritized fulfilling U.S. backlogs before supply issues are addressed in other parts of the world,” Lynch said in a statement.
Image Credits: Canalys
Perhaps not surprisingly, low-cost Chromebooks were the most popular item as people looking to refresh their devices, especially for education purposes, turned to the lower end of the PC market, which likely had a negative impact on higher-priced Apple products, as well contributing to its drop from the top spot.
That’s where Samsung and other Chromebook vendors really shined. The firm reports that over the last year Chromebook sales shot up 548% with Samsung leading that growth with an astonishing 1,963% growth rate. Asus, HP and Lenovo all reported Chromebook sales rates up over 900%.
Those numbers include desktops, notebooks, tablets and workstations, but it was the notebook and tablets that get the bulk of the action here with notebooks up a whopping 131% YoY. While tablets didn’t grow at the same rate, sales were still up 51% with 11 million units sold in the quarter.
The company does not expect the market to slow significantly in the coming quarters with continued demand in the education market. While parts shortages, particularly in the chip market, continue to dog the industry, this will only continue to feed demand in the coming quarters, according to the firm.
During the WWDC conference today, Apple unveiled the new macOS 12 Monterey. A major feature in the macOS update is Universal Control, which builds upon the Continuity features first introduced in OS X Yosemite. For years it’s been possible to open a news article on your iPhone and keep reading it on your MacBook, or to copy and paste a link from your iPad to your iMac. But Universal Control takes these features further.
With Universal Control, you can use a single mouse and keyboard to navigate across multiple Apple devices at once. This functionality works across more than two devices — in the demo video, the feature is used to seamlessly move across an iPad, MacBook and iMac. Users can drag and drop files across multiple devices at once, making it possible, for example, to use a multi-screen setup while editing video on Final Cut Pro.
What’s possible in Universal Control isn’t necessarily new — this has been made possible before through third-party apps. Plus, in 2019, Apple debuted Sidecar, which allowed users to connect their iPad as a second monitor for their MacBook or iMac. But, Universal Control improves upon Sidecar — and maybe renders it obsolete — by allowing users to link any Apple devices together, even if it’s not an iPad. Though this update may not be groundbreaking, it’s a useful upgrade to existing features.
Apple didn’t announce that rumored combined Apple TV device that would combine the set-top box with a HomePod speaker during its WWDC keynote, but it did announce a few features that will improve the Apple TV experience — including one that involves a HomePod Mini. Starting this fall, Apple said you’ll be able to select the HomePod Mini as the speaker for your Apple TV 4K. It also introduced a handful of software updates for Apple TV users, including a new way to see shows everyone in the family will like, and support for co-watching shows through FaceTime.
The co-watching feature is actually a part of a larger FaceTime update, which will let users stream music, TV, and screen share through their FaceTime calls. The Apple TV app is one of those that’s supported through this new system, called SharePlay. It will now include a new “Shared with You” row that highlights the shows and movies your friends are sharing, as well.
Another feature called “For All of You” will display a collection of shows and movies based on everyone’s interests within Apple TV’s interface. This is ideal you’re planning to watch something as a family — like for movie night, for example. And you can fine tune the suggestions based on who’s watching.
A new Apple TV widget is also being made available, which now includes iPad support.
And the new support for HomePod Mini will help deliver “rich, balanced sound” and “crystal clear dialog,” when you’re watching Apple TV with the Mii set up as your speakers, Apple said.
Alibaba’s cloud computing unit is making its Apsara operating system compatible with processors based on Arm, x86, RISC-V, among other architectures, the company announced at a conference on Friday.
Alibaba Cloud is one of the fastest-growing businesses for the Chinese e-commerce giant and the world’s fourth-largest public cloud service in the second half of 2020, according to market research firm IDC.
The global chip market has mostly been dominated by Intel’s x86 in personal computing and Arm for mobile devices. But RISC-V, an open-source chip architecture competitive with Arm’s technologies, is gaining popularity around the world, especially with Chinese developers. Started by academics at the University of California, Berkeley, RISC-V is open to all to use without licensing or patent fees and is generally not subject to America’s export controls.
The Trump Administration’s bans on Huawei and its rival ZTE over national security concerns have effectively severed ties between the Chinese telecom titans and American tech companies, including major semiconductor suppliers.
Arm was forced to decide its relationships with Huawei and said it could continue licensing to the Chinese firm as it’s of U.K. origin. But Huawei still struggles to find fabs that are both capable and allowed to actually manufacture the chips designed using the architecture.
The U.S. sanctions led to a burst in activity around RISC-V in China’s tech industry as developers prepare for future tech restrictions by the U.S., with Alibaba at the forefront of the movement. Alibaba Cloud, Huawei and ZTE are among the 13 premier members of RISC-V International, which means they get a seat on its Board of Directors and Technical Steering Community.
In 2019, the e-commerce company’s semiconductor division T-Head launched its first core processor Xuantie 910, which is based on RISC-V and used for cloud edge and IoT applications. Having its operating system work with multiple chip systems instead of one mainstream architecture could prepare Alibaba Cloud well for a future of chip independence in China.
“The IT ecosystem was traditionally defined by chips, but cloud computing fundamentally changed that,” Zhang Jianfeng, president of Alibaba Cloud’s Intelligence group, said at the event. “A cloud operating system can standardize the computing power of server chips, special-purpose chips and other hardware, so whether the chip is based on x86, Arm, RISC-V or a hardware accelerator, the cloud computing offerings for customers are standardized and of high-quality.”
Meanwhile, some argue that Chinese companies moving towards alternatives like RISC-V means more polarization of technology and standards, which is not ideal for global collaboration unless RISC-V becomes widely adopted in the rest of the world.