Looks like the party's over, folks: Global PC sales set to shrink as Windows 10 upgrade cycle tails off, says Gartner - The Register - Canada News Media
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Looks like the party's over, folks: Global PC sales set to shrink as Windows 10 upgrade cycle tails off, says Gartner – The Register

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Smartphone shipments slightly up, personal computers to resume historical trends

What goes up must come down, or so it seems for the PC market.

The mini recovery in global shipments we have seen over the last year is forecast to be short-lived by analyst shop Gartner, and it’s mostly because many businesses have done the heavy upgrade work to Windows 10 by now.

Roughly 261 million computers were sold into channels globally last year, according to Gartner and this was up 0.6 per on 2018. It was the first time in eight years that the analyst has recorded an annual increase.

Those cheers of joy – at least from Lenovo, HP Inc and Dell, for it was only those three that grew – may now turns to anguish, that is if they give any credibility to Gartner forecast for devices sales in the coming year.

Traditional computers are reckoned to notch up 178.27 million sales this year, and premium ultra-mobiles by some 72.52 million. The numbers indicate the classic PC space will shrink by four per cent globally year-on-year. As is always the case with analyst forecasts, the stats are subject to quarterly changes.

The driving force behind last year’s shipment was business machines: after three years of growth on the back of a Windows 10 refresh cycle, activity will be muted over the course on this calendar year.

Gartner said that replacement levels will decrease, though reckons pockets of growth will exist, namely in China, and the “long tail” of upgrades in the small and medium-seized business communities that are reacting retrospectively to Microsoft ending support for Windows 7.

Looking farther ahead, the research house said the total PC market will drop to 246.68 million units in 2021 and fall to 241.7 million the following year. “The PC market’s future is unpredictable because there will not be a Windows 11,” said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.

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He said Windows 10 will instead be upgraded systematically via regular updates. “As a result, peaks in PC hardware upgrade cycles driven by an entire Windows OS upgrade will end”.

Feeding into the overall electronic device shipping forecast for 2020 of 2.16 billion units, compared to 2.15 billion last year, is a return to growth for smartphones. Handset sales are said to expand 1.7 per cent to 1.776 billion in the coming year. Asia Pacific and 5G are said to be the reasons for this growth, though that doesn’t seem certain.

China’s economy is softer than in recent years and not everyone, including the GSMA, thinks the fifth generation mobile network will spur purchases. Atwal said 5G models will make up 12 per cent of total shipments in 2020 and reach 44 per cent by 2021 as prices fall and carrier coverage rises.

2019 was a bad year for phone sales, particularly for Apple, as a lack of compelling upgrade reasons saw customers extend the life of their gadgets and keep their money in their pocket. ®

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Longtime New West doctor switches to virtual consultations – The Record (New Westminster)

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When the snow piled up in New Westminster last week, so did the number of people who lost access to medical attention.

Most medical clinics and doctors’ offices were actually closed during the worst of the snow on Jan. 15, and many residents were unable to get around during the entire week due to snowy and icy conditions.

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“But people’s medical needs don’t just stop,” says Dr. Anita Natarajan, a family physician.

Natarajan is virtual doctor who has now left the world of a “physical practice” – she was a family doctor in New Westminster for 17 years – to use virtual technology to conduct face-to-face video consultations with patients in New West and beyond.

Finding a family doctor continues to be one of the biggest challenges B.C. residents face when it comes to health care. In fact, nearly 800,000 British Columbians are currently without a family doctor.

Natarajan works with Babylon by TELUS Health and the technology is helping people who don’t have a family doctor connect with one.

All you need is a smartphone.

Through Babylon by TELUS Health, B.C. residents can use the AI-powered Symptom Checker, which draws from over 500 million streams of medical knowledge to ask users questions about their symptoms and provides information on courses of action.

If they need to see a doctor, users can then book appointments for face-to-face virtual video calls with locally-licensed physicians like Natarajanright on the app. This consultation is covered by B.C. MSP.

Babylon by TELUS Health also enables users to have prescriptions filled at the pharmacy of their choice and access doctor consultation notes, video consult recordings and referrals for diagnostic tests or specialist appointments, when needed.

If you are having symptoms such as chest pains, a patient still needs to go to the ER, says Natarajan.

“But for pretty much everything else, a patient can use this service.”

Patients can even read the detailed notes Natarajan makes based on the consultation, which she says are written in plain language. Patients can also access a video recording of their consultation, which is a huge bonus when patients want to remember what the doctor has told them.

“We’re basically giving British Columbians another option,” she said.

In a survey of Babylon by TELUS Health users who completed a virtual consultation with a local physician, 88% of respondents said that had they not been able to see a doctor through the Babylon by TELUS Health app, they would have sought another form of medical care (emergency room visit, visit to family doctor, or walk in clinic visit), 94% of agreed that the app was easy to use, and 92% said their main request was resolved by the end of their consultation.

Babylon by TELUS Health can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play. For more information on Babylon and TELUS Health, visit telus.com/Babylon.

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Arwings spawned in the vanilla version of The Legend of Zelda

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First up, a little backstory for those who don’t know. During the development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo used Arwing models to test the flight patterns of Volvagia, alongside the Z-targeting system. This was left in the game’s code, and discovered a number of years later by modders.

Since then, we’ve seen countless videos of people using cheats and mods to make the Arwings spawn in-game. That’s what makes today’s video that much more impressive. It marks the very first time that someone has gotten the Arwings to spawn in-game without using cheat codes or mods.

This player in particular got the Arwings to spawn via “arbitrary code execution.” This method is used by speedrunners to force the game to load and run the save file name as if it’s game code. The end result in this instance is some attacking Arwings!

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Google Will Re-Assess its New Look Desktop Search Display

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Earlier this month, Google rolled out a new display format for its desktop search result listings, which aimed to bring them more into line with mobile search display, and added prominent favicons and URL listings to each result.

But the change has seen significant criticism, with some suggesting that the format makes it much harder for users to distinguish between paid ads and actual, earned results.

The criticism, when viewing examples like the above, seems valid, and research has already suggested that the updated desktop format is leading to more people clicking on ads, supporting this theory.

As reported by Digiday, various ad tech providers have noted changes in desktop ad click-through rates following the update, with CTRs for search ads increasing between 4% and 10.5%. That’s clearly beneficial for Google’s ad business, but it could also diminish trust in the company’s core search product – if people can no longer tell what’s a reputable business, as opposed to one with the deepest pockets, questions around search, and Google’s motivations, could eventually have adverse consequences for the company.

And now, Google has taken note, announcing on Twitter that it will review its updated format.

As per Google:

“Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what’s been on mobile for months. We’ve heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we’re going to experiment with new placements for favicons. Our experimenting will begin today. Over the coming weeks, while we test, some might not see favicons while some might see them in different placements as we look to bring a modern look to desktop.”

The two statements here seem almost contradictory – on one hand, Google acknowledges the noted, and significant, concerns that have been raised, while on the other, it says that early feedback has been positive.

Whether it will lead to Google rolling back the change, we’ll have to wait and see, but definitely there’s a case to be made that Google is intentionally diluting the separation between paid and organic results over time, and confusing users in the process.

In fact, this is only the latest in a long history of Google’s gradual merging of the two elements. Illustrating this, the team from Search Engine Land recently updated their infographic, which illustrates the changes over time.

Google search ads over time

When you see it laid out like this, it’s difficult to argue against the idea that Google is deliberately seeking to reduce the distinction between the two elements. Which, for Google’s ad business, makes sense, but as noted, if consumers lose trust in the transparency of Google’s results, that could lead to further consequences, and potentially, reduced usage.

But then again, it probably won’t. As you can see here, as Google has made similar changes over time, it hasn’t lost out in terms of search traffic, and while this latest change seems more significant, if Google sticks to its guns, it will likely be fine. But then, of course, there could be further regulatory questions around such, and Google could come under scrutiny over misleading results. There are clear, and pressing, reasons why Google would want to revise its approach, but whether that results in a roll-back remains to be seen.

For businesses, if Google does remove favicons from desktop search, that somewhat lessens the emphasis on them – but still, if you don’t have a favicon attached to your website, it’s worth updating your info.

You can read more about how to add a favicon to your web identity here.

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