July 18, 2007

PC Market Grows 12% in Q2 2007

IDC came out with their PC shipment numbers for the June quarter of 2007.  Worldwide PC shipments grew at 12.5% year over year.  Asia (ex-Japan) grew the fastest with 20% growth.  The U.S. grew 7.2% with laptops leading the way. HP was a big winner growing 26% .  Gateway was the big loser with -7% growth.  Apple came in as the 4th largest PC maker with 26.2% growth and increasing market-share from 4.8% to 5.6%.  Dell lost market-share from 34.1% to 28.6%, while HP grew from 20% to 23.6%.

July 17, 2007

Gran Turismo 5 Videos

For Sony's sake, Gran Turismo 5 can't come here fast enough.  It looks like the GT5 Prologue is slated to be released in Japan by the end of 2007 on the Playstation Network (downloadable title).  Let's hope the US Version will come out soon after. 

The graphics and animation are simply breath-taking and photo-realistic.  A step way above even the free Gran Turismo HD demo.  On a separate note, did Audi pay for product placement or what?  Lots of Audis in there.
Video 1 - Video 2

July 11, 2007

E3 2007: Microsoft Press Conference Notes

Arogan gives his notes on the press conference:

-So I watched the entire Microsoft Press Conference. Stupid G4 broadcasts it live but then you have commercials so I missed some of it.
-Almost all footage was gameplay with several games being demoed right on stage.
-Only Resident Evil 5 won't come out this year (which BTW looked really good). All other games shown are set to come out this year which is pretty impressive.
-Biggest surprise? NO PRICE DROP! I think MS is thinking exactly like Rendition. From a consumer perspective it was almost a non-price drop for ps3. There are still the same two price points of $500 and $600 except they mix up the hardware a bit. Major Nelson alluded to this fact in the E3 pre-show G4 interview.
-Lamest reveal? Special edition halo 3 Xbox 360....Umm yeah it's grey.
-It was revealed that GTA 4 trailers (both of them) were from the 360 version. Man I hope they work on that framerate
-I was really impressed by COD4. It really looked great.
-Gears of war on PC will be for Vista AND XP. 5 new chapters including that big boss fight we never got on 360 but only saw in a cut scene.
-Single Player Halo 3 footage was shown. It's looking pretty good.

So after just one press conference here are my picks:

Must Buys
Halo 3
Assassin's creed
Mass Effect
Gears of war (PC)
Ace Combat 6
Call of Duty 4

Must have but maybe not on Day 1
Splinter Cell: Conviction

Wait and see
Medal of Honor: airborne
VF5 (online multiplayer on 360 version)
Guitar Hero 3
Rock Band
Lost Odyssey
Blue Dragon

This is going to be one EXPENSIVE Christmas. Nintendo and Sony press conferences happens today. Discuss

July 09, 2007

Sony is Brain-dead with the PS3 $100 Price Cut

After an initial denial, Sony announced that they will cut the price of the 60GB SKU by $100 to $499 and launch another SKU with an 80GB hard-drive and Motorstorm game bundle for $599.  It drives me crazy that Sony keeps making these brain-dead corporate decisions trying to "have their cake and eat it" too in trying to revive their games business, which is frankly on "life-support" this generation as the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 are killing them.

Listen up Sony.  There are TWO reasons why the PS3 isn't selling.  1) There aren't any games worth paying up for.  2) The price sticker shock is too high for the average consumer. 

A few months ago, the 20GB SKU was selling at $499 and the 60GB SKU was selling at $599.  After this price cut announcement today, the price points remain the SAME.  The mainstream guy doesn't see the amazing technical specs of Wi-Fi, Cell processor, Blu-ray playback, and free online support.  They see the sticker price as the barrier to buying.  Sony hasn't done squat to improve their sticker shock with this move.  The guy sitting on the fence that didn't buy a PS3 before, isn't going to all of sudden want one because the hard-drive is 40GB more for the same price.

Sony needs to be creative in attacking the TWO major reasons outlined above.  What I would of done was keep the 20GB SKU that used to be at $499 and bring it down to a Xbox 360 competitive $399.  I would then also cut the 60GB SKU from $599 to $499 too.  This helps bring down the sticker shock. 

In terms of getting consumers exciting about the game-playing value.  I would bundle Motorstorm on both of these SKUs AND I would have 10-20 of the best Sony studio made PS2 titles already installed on the hard-drives.  These titles aren't adding much profits today anyway and it bridges the game-playing need until your PS3 killer apps come in the next 12 months.  BOOM!  You lower the sticker shock and offer a compelling game package value without hurting your profits.  Be creative like this Sony, it's your last chance.

And the guy that recommended that your more expensive $599 SKU not have the PS2 hardware emulation chips while the $499 does should be dragged out and shot. Permalink - Discuss

I am Switching Back from PC to Mac AGAIN!

Two years ago I bought my first Macs, a Mac Mini and iBook for the wife, and made it my daily driver PC.  Although I loved OS X, the eye candy, stability, and ease of use, I started to get sick of the slow performance.  I eagerly awaited Apple's Xeon/Conroe driven Mac Pro.  However when it was released, the price was a ghastly $2499 for a base model with only 1 GB of RAM.  Knowing I would have to spend close to $3000 to get the performance I wanted, I switched back to PC for only $700-800 on a new home-built custom config with a Conroe 6400 2.4ghz processor and a ATI1900XT graphics card.

Now one year later, I'm getting sick of the PC's random crashes, ugly user interface, and most importantly afraid of the security issues/malware/hackers/viruses again.  So last night I ordered a 2.2ghz MacBook Pro with 160GB 7200rpm hard-drive to move back in Mac-land.  I'll let you guys know how it goes.  The PC will now solely be a gaming and video transcoding box. [Discuss]

The specs from the Apple Order Status site:

MacBook Pro, 15-inch, 2.2GHz
2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
160GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
MacBook Pro 15-inch Glossy Widescreen Display
Backlit Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
Accessory Kit
Ships by: Jul 18 - Jul 23
Delivers by: Jul 20 - Jul 27

July 07, 2007

Xbox 360 gaining a bigger lead over PS3

On the game front, repair defect issues aside, it sure sucks to be a PS3 owner right now vs. the Xbox 360. Virtua Fighter 5 going online only on the 360. 60fps for both of this year's football games, only on 360. I mean it's pretty apparent at this point that the Xbox 360 is vastly easier to program for and maybe even more powerful overall in terms of end results because of its better memory configuration.

I pray that Heavenly Sword and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune become killer apps this Christmas.  However it is NOT looking good.  At least of all else fails, I have a decent Blu-ray player. [Discuss]

July 05, 2007

Microsoft to take $1 billion Charge to Fix Xbox 360s

Microsoft announced today it's going to take a $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion charge due to an "unacceptable" number of Xbox 360s breaking down.  We heard a major retailer days ago say the defect rate has been 33%, which is an insanely high incidence of red rings of death. 

If you figure it costs about $333 to send out a new Xbox 360 for each defect, a 30% defect rate out of the 10 million sold would match the $1 billion charge number.  That is crazy.  Meanwhile the PS3 reportedly only has a 1% defect rate, however there aren't any good games to play on it. [Discuss]

PS3 $100 Price Cut

GameDailyBiz is reporting they have a source from a major retailer that Sony is going to cut the PS3 price by $100 to $499 on July 12th. I don't think this will really have a big impact as we already had a $499 PS3 in the past (remember the 20GB SKU) that didn't sell well at all.  The difference between a 60GB vs. 20GB + Wi-FI isn't going to drive people to buy a PS3 all of a sudden.

The simple reason why the PS3 isn't selling is there aren't any killer app games for it.  Back during the PS2 days, it was Grand Theft Auto.  Right now, there is hardly anything. Xbox 360 is going to have Halo 3 this Christmas and exclusive downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV.  Where is our God of War 3 Sony?  Gran Turismo 5?  We need the killer apps pronto to beat Wii Sports into the ground.

July 01, 2007

Steve Jobs God-Given Talents

I read an article few months back in Fortune about a consultant who travels around the world helping out CEOs.  He used Steve Jobs as an example on trying to be specific on what talents people have.  Read the passage below. Right on the button.

"A leader who does not produce leaders is not a great leader," he says. "If you agree, I'd like to put that in." (Gomber nods.) Charan is trying to help Emaar construct a document that will help its managers discern in others what he calls "natural talents," or "God's gifts." "Each of us has to be the best calibrator of natural talent of the people who work with us," he says. "What are the three to five most crucial natural-talent items that each person has? It has to be specific" - he taps the whiteboard for emphasis - "and very clear" - tap - "and repeatable" -tap!

"By the way," says Charan, "the last time I talked about Steve Jobs, remember? I've now verified from two directors of Apple, and they say it's right on the button." Gomber and Bartridge perk up their ears. "I asked, Well, tell me his three God's gifts. And they think about it, and they say first thing, this human being has a talent to figure out what the consumer really wants. This is a very valuable thing! No. 2, he has the will and the talent to find - no matter where it is! - the right technology that will deliver what they want. Nobody said he invented one! And third, he has the talent to create demand at the right time. I say, Where do you find those human beings? But he is one."

Apple iPhone First Impression

After 16 hours waiting for AT&T to send the activation email, it finally came. First impression. FREAKING AMAZING.

The OS and user interface is by far the best I've seen on a mobile device. Everything is smooth and fast. It just simple "just works" intuition. I set it up with WiFi, so haven't tried the dreaded EDGE yet. The apps are designed very well, no user manual needed.  The touch functionality works fine and the virtual keyboard is more than usable. Safari browsing is 100Xs better than Treo or Blackberry. The Video iPod functionality is drop dead gorgeous (loaded some free Ratatouille Pixar movie videos).

I want one for my own. Sigh. 2 more years with the Blackberry 8800 I'm stuck with under contract. At least I can play with my wife's iPhone in the meantime.  If you're on the fence, drop what you are doing and run to your local Apple store and buy one.  It lives up to the hype.  All hail Steve Jobs.  A full review is on its way here at First Adopter after I actually use the thing for a few days more. [Discuss]