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The Tim Cook Apple iPad prediction that's looking increasingly blurry – CNBC

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Apple’s new iPad Pro 2020.

Apple

It would probably be wrong to argue semantics with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who said on a 2012 earnings conference call that combining a laptop and tablet was akin to converging a toaster and refrigerator — you’d wind up compromising both. But today, as the market for portable computers that possess features of both tablets and laptops takes off, Apple’s iPad is leading a pack that looks more like a winning compromise in a weakened tablet market.

Apple celebrated the iPad’s tenth birthday this year by virtually launching a new iPad Pro in March — like everyone else, Apple canceled its big media gatherings and has since also closed its retail stores due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. The new iPad marks another step in the device’s march toward looking, feeling and behaving like a laptop. Over the past few years, this slow morph has helped the iPad gain significant share in a market where, overall, sales have been declining since their height in 2014. In its review this week, CNBC said the new iPad Pro “makes a tempting laptop replacement.”

According to Rick Kowalski, senior manager of industry analysis and business intelligence for the Consumer Technology Association, 2020 will bring a 5% drop in unit shipments of tablets in 2020, down from 39.5 million in 2019. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the launch of Apple’s seventh-generation entry-level iPad helped the firm grow its hold to 36.5% of the sector, up from 29.6% the previous year, according to research firm IDC. Lenovo, with 5.8% market share, was the only other brand that saw growth.

“Apple is bucking the trend with its iPad Pro. Outside of that, you don’t see much excitement about tablets,” says Lauren Guenveur, a senior research analyst on IDC’s devices and displays team. “With the iPad mini the only iPad that isn’t a detachable, the company is definitely skewing toward a pure detachable portfolio.”

Microsoft Surface and detachable devices

Detachables, also known as 2-in-1 devices, typically feature keyboards that unhook from their screens (some have a 360-degree hinge that allows the keyboard to be folded flat against the display). Because there is less space for components — essential hardware must fit somewhere in the display — historically the devices have had to compromise on design and computing power.

Because of this, you don’t see many 2-in-1 devices in the wild, and analysts say that with the exception of the Microsoft Surface, no one really has come up with a compelling model. Apple, with its stronghold over its own hardware, software and chips, might have an opportunity to do what it did with tablets the first time around and remake the 2-in-1 market, pulling share from mobile PCs that command the enterprise market.

“Apple has high hopes for the enterprise market. I suspect there will be an overlap with detachables and laptops,” Guenveur said. “Apple has the most loyal customers in the world — we’re talking like 95% loyalty — and it’s good at getting a person to buy one product and move them up the SKU level; you start with an iPhone, they get an iPad, then a MacBook.” 

Laptops are the world’s choice for work, and machines running Windows dominate. But as Apple responds by beefing up the iPad’s processing power and evolves its design to make it more comfortable for the daily grind — typing, navigating screens by mouse and trackpad — it’s likely that the tablet-turned-detachable will continue to have a starring role in Apple’s lineup. It’s still anyone’s guess, though, how blurry the line becomes between iPads and MacBooks. 

Apple declined to comment.

iPad Pro goes more pro

One thing is clear: Apple is catering to laptop PC users with its latest iPad offerings. In September 2019 the company announced iPadOS, its tablet-specific operating system that makes it more efficient to multitask, browse and use web-based apps like Google Docs. It also supports the use of a trackpad or mouse, both for its own keyboards and a host of ones made by third parties, which will make the iPad more appealing.

Jess Lee, COO of software developer community DEV, recently switched from a laptop to the iPad for better mobility when she travels. Much of what she uses the iPad for falls under productivity — web-conferencing colleagues or using it as a second monitor when she is using her laptop — but “as a full-time machine, it’s not fully comfortable,” she says. “It’s the nature of the iPad being smaller than a laptop.”

Bradley Chambers, a writer at tech news site 9to5Mac and IT director at Brainerd Baptist School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who oversees a stock of iPads used by administrators and students, says Apple has more work to do. “I want to see Apple move the iPad imparity with the Mac,” he says. “It’s one thing to spend 30 minutes on an iPad in a classroom, but if you think about knowledge workers outside of education, the ergonomics of the iPad aren’t great — not for eight hours. I want to see Apple evolve the use of the cursor with an iPad.”

The latest iPad Pro aims to tackle this problem with its new OS. Its new Magic Keyboard, which is backlit and fit with a trackpad and cursor support, attaches magnetically to the device — sort of suspending it in the air — and is adjustable up to 130 degrees. Apple also stated in a release that the iPad Pro’s new A12Z Bionic chip makes it “faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops.”

While that remains to be seen for most workers tied to less costly legacy laptops and desktops, there are some sectors where tablets sales — and presumably the detachables slowly phasing them out — continue to grow.

“iPads present imagery better, which is really important in our industry,” says Kristin Savilia, CEO of Joor, whose software digitizes the wholesale process for fashion, home and beauty brands and about 200,000 retailers. “Think about shopping from a consumer perspective. If you can see the details more beautifully, you’re more apt to buy that product. It’s the same in B2B, with 200,000 stores using this technology to decide whether or not a product makes sense in their store. To see it beautifully on the iPad matters and makes a difference.”

Joor has thousands of clients using its software on iPads in the field, but many of them return to the office to use its laptop version to crunch numbers and place orders. “It’s taking what each product is best at and making use for that,” Savilia said.

Until the productivity gains promised by the iPad Pro become widespread, the detachables market remains niche. Compounding this is the issue of bundling and price. While the largest iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch display starts at $999, adding in the Wi-Fi plus cellular version — which you’ll want with new 5G networks, according to analysts — makes it $1,149. You also pay $349 if you want Apple’s new keyboard (although tablets accessories company Brydge sells a comparable one for $230) and $129 for the Apple Pencil.

“The iPad Pro looks more toward productivity rather than just pure consumption,” says David McQueen, research director at ABI Research. Given the accessories ecosystem you have to invest in to make the iPad Pro the best workhorse, “it can be quite pricey,” he says.

Apple might find a wider market for the iPad if it bundled accessories like Apple Pencil and the new keyboard with touchpad, but the accessories deliver high profit margins.

Apple’s iPad vs. Google Chromebook in schools

Apple does offer discounted pricing for students, teachers and school administrators, and there’s room for a detachable iPad in the U.S. education market, where Google Chromebooks have dominated since 2014 due to their low cost and ease of deployment.

“If your main goal is to be a Google Docs client, then Chromebooks is a perfect suite for school,” says Chambers of tech news site 9to5Mac, whose school just finished a four-year stint using the iPad Air. He’s rolling out the new seventh-generation iPad in the fall. “But for anything past that, the iPad is a better device with its wide variety of apps and better support.”

According to market research firm Futuresource Consulting, Chromebooks accounted for 59.9% of mobile devices shipped to K–12 classrooms in 2019, up from 58.1% in 2017. Windows devices grew from 21.7% to 22.5% over the same period. While consumer familiarity with Apple’s ecosystem and its strong proposition on data privacy issues bodes well for the iPad maker here, iPad share fell from 14.8% to 13.8%. Mac laptops currently hold 3.4% of the sector.

“In terms of the evolution of computing battles in the future, we expect Microsoft and Google to push hard on 2-in-1 devices, designed specifically for education at increasingly aggressive sub-$300 price points,” says Michael Boreham, a senior consultant at Futuresource. “Many in the industry believe the 2-in-1 format to be ideal for education, with tactile touch suited for some applications, while a keyboard is typically required for more traditional tasks. How Apple will respond to this trend will be interesting to watch.”

Waiting for Apple to respond to, and eventually dominate, mobile technology sectors has become a national pastime. While shipments for tablets overall continue to decline, analysts are still bullish on the iPad for at least the next few years, given Apple’s focus on its application for work and as a superior device on which to push out new content and services. Its tipping point, they say, will come when it more directly collides with the MacBook.

“The iPad still has a place in Apple’s portfolio even with the MacBook, although it will never reach the sort of heights of the smartphone,” McQueen said. He notes the prospect of a smartphone-tablet device with a foldable screen, which could come soon. “Even if people don’t upgrade as much as they used to, Apple’s ecosystem is still huge,” he said.

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League of Legends Trailer Teases New Champion – ComicBook.com

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Riot Games released a new League of Legends trailer on Wednesday giving us a stylish preview of a new champion coming to the game. The trailer shows a slain swordsman who “must decide if he will make peace with his past—or be consumed by it” as he struggles with his new place in the afterlife and the events that brought him there. This character shown is connected to the Spirit Blossom event and is the second of the two champions teased earlier in the year. July 22nd was mentioned in the trailer, so we can look forward to that date to see more about the champion and the event.

The Ionian swordsman in the trailer finds himself in the afterlife where he instinctively reaches for his blade only to find it’s not with him. After traveling for a while with a companion serving as his guide, he diverts to a more sinister location where he confronts his past.

If you’ve been keeping up with League of Legends leaks and rumors recently and have some understanding of different champions’ backstories, you likely already have an idea of who this character is. This champion is thought to be Yone, Yasuo’s half-brother. Yasuo’s lore said the two were close, but when Yasuo was framed for the death of a revered elder who Yasuo apprenticed under, Yone was honor-bound to challenge him. Yasuo won the duel and killed Yone.

Yone confronts this memory after deviating from the main path in the trailer when he finds his own body slain on the ground. After a fight with a demon, Yone is seemingly returned to the living world, though not exactly as he was before. Part of the afterlife – including the demon – seems to have come back with him, thus giving us the masked assassin who’s been teased numerous times in the past.

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As for Yone’s abilities, we can only tell so much from the cinematic, but a blend of swordplay and otherworldly powers is expected. We know he’s indeed an assassin just like Yasuo is and that he’s not a Darkin despite what his appearance and weapon might indicate. There certainly looks like there’s an internal struggle still raging within him based on the trailer and past teasers that showed him with one red eye and one blue, but it’s unknown now how his two sides will manifest themselves on Summoner’s Rift.

League of Legends still has to release Lillia before we get to Yone, so look forward to that champ’s release first while we wait to learn more about the assassin.

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.

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Google Promises the EU It Won’t Use Fitbit Health Data to Target Ads – Barron's

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Courtesy of Fitbit

Potentially softening the ground for its pending acquisition of Fitbit, Alphabet pledged late Monday not to use health data from the fitness tracking company to target ads.

Fitbit
stock (ticker: FIT) rose 3.2% to $6.84 Tuesday, trading below the $7.35 a share offer in the November acquisition bid from Google, which has come under pressure from regulators in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. amid antitrust concerns. Coupled with antitrust worries, regulators have outlined privacy concerns with combining the cache of Fitbit health data with Google’s much larger data set of its users.

Alphabet (GOOGL) said in a statement that it would work “with the European Commission on an approach that safeguards consumers’ expectations that Fitbit device data won’t be used for advertising.”

The European Commission extended its deadline for a decision about the acquisition to Aug. 4 from July 20 as a result of Google’s offer. Class A shares of
Alphabet,
which runs Google, rose 0.6% to $1,520.86 Tuesday.

Barron’s last discussed Fitbit June 19, saying then that the stock looked cheap. Alphabet has agreed to pay $7.35 a share but in June the stock was trading at a steep 13% discount to its acquisition price—lower still when an Australian regulator began to make noise about the deal, too.

Since Barron’s published the story, shares have climbed about 6%, outperforming the indexes, though if the deal closes at $7.35, there is 8.6% of upside remaining. The
S&P 500 index
advanced 1.9% in the same period, as the
Nasdaq Composite index
has gained 4.9%.

Roy Behren of Westchester Capital Management told Barron’s Tuesday in a phone interview that the recent Fitbit stock move means the market is now implying there is roughly an 80% the deal will close, an increase from the 70% to 75% chance in June. “I think the market has become a little bit more comfortable with the regulatory review,” he said. “This increases the chances it will be cleared in a phase one review.”

Fitbit has captured roughly 3% of the wearables market, compared with
Apple
(AAPL), which has about 29% market share, according to IDC data.

The deal values Fitbit at $2.1 billion and the companies have until Nov. 1 to seal the deal—with a maximum extension date of May 1, 2021, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Write to Max A. Cherney at max.cherney@barrons.com

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Ghost Of Tsushima And Paper Mario Will Be $10 Off On Release Day – GameSpot

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Later this week, exciting new exclusives for Nintendo Switch and PS4 arrive. Paper Mario: The Origami King and Ghost of Tsushima both release on July 17, which means it could be an expensive day for video games if you own both platforms. If you’re looking to snag one or both, Walmart is once again offering a $10 discount at launch, so you can pick up Paper Mario: The Origami King and Ghost of Tsushima for $49.94 each.

While these are stellar deals, Walmart is only offering the discounted price for either game when shopping in store. You can enter your zip code on BrickSeek to make sure that your local Walmart is offering the discounts. If you look on Walmart’s website, you’ll see that both games are listed at $60 for online orders. Sometimes Amazon matches Walmart’s launch discounts, but that typically only happens when Walmart is also offering the discount on its site.

For those who don’t live near a Walmart store or don’t feel like heading out to pick up a video game, make sure to check out our pre-order guides for Paper Mario: The Origami King and Ghost of Tsushima for more details on where you can order these games. For instance, GameStop has an exclusive pin set for Paper Mario, and the PlayStation Store has a Digital Deluxe edition of Ghost of Tsushima that comes with a bunch of additional goodies.

Also, if you want to order online and get Paper Mario: The Origami King and/or Ghost of Tsushima on release day, Best Buy or Walmart is the way to go at this point. While other retailers are showing delivery dates that stretch into next week, you can still get free release date delivery for both titles at Walmart and Best Buy.

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