Apple cuts back iPhone 5 orders, Java problems persist and the changing PC landscape

A quick look at what’s happening in the tech world this morning:

Apple shares are down about 3 percent after reports that the Cupertino-based tech giant has cut orders on parts for the iPhone 5. The Wall Street Journal reported quarterly orders for iPhone 5 screens have been reduced by about half of what was expected. “The move indicates that sales of the new iPhone haven’t been as strong as previously anticipated and demand may be waning,” the Journal said.

Japan’s Nikkei  also reported those numbers, and said orders of other iPhone components have been slashed as well. London-based analyst James Cordwell told Bloomberg News he attributed Apple’s woes to a glut in the smartphone market, and the flip side of Apple’s pricey gadgets: “We’re getting close to saturation. . . . The real growth is going to come from emerging markets, and Apple’s share in emerging markets is much lower than it is in other markets at the moment due to such high prices.”

Apple has lost significant ground to its rivals in recent months: Samsung smartphone sales have doubled in the past year, and the Korean company has overtaken Apple as the world’s most popular smartphone maker; and Google’s Android mobile operating system has increased its lead over Apple’s iOS, 72 percent to 14 percent, according to a November report. Meanwhile, Apple shares have lost fallen more than 25 percent since reaching a record high when the iPhone 5 was released in September.

• Security experts say Oracle’s Java software still leaves PC users vulnerable to hacker attacks despite a new upgrade, and recommend users disable the popular plug-in. Oracle released an emergency update Sunday to plug security holes, days after the Department of Homeland Security issued a rare warning that users should disable the software to prevent criminals from accessing their computers.

The latest update repairs two vulnerabilities, and changes the program’s default security setting from medium to high. “With the ‘high’ setting the user is always warned before any unsigned application is run to prevent silent exploitation,” Oracle said in the release notes.

But Adam Gowdiak of Poland-based Security Exploration told Reuters that vulnerabilities remain: “We don’t dare to tell users that it’s safe to enable Java again,” he said. Chief security officer HD Moore of security firm Rapid7 went even further, saying it may take Oracle two years to fix all of Java’s security problems. “The safest thing to do at this point is just assume that Java is always going to be vulnerable. Folks don’t really need Java on their desktop,” he told Reuters.

A new report from research firm Gartner confirmed what tech analysts have been saying for weeks: Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system wasn’t the hit some had hoped it would be.

“The launch of Windows 8 had no impact on PC demand,” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal in finding that worldwide computer sales fell nearly 5 percent in the fourth quarter.

Instead, the report found a dramatic change in the consumer market: “Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalising’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said. “Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC.”

Worldwide PC sales sank 4.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, the report found; in the U.S., sales dipped 2.1 percent.

The report echoes similar findings from IDC last week (See: “The PC world: Woe for the holidays, few signs of cheer for future”).

The Gartner report found Hewlett-Packard retook the title of world’s top PC seller from Lenovo in the fourth quarter, but that title was tempered by a lack of year-over-year growth by HP. Lenovo, while slipping to No. 2, still boosted year-over-year growth by 8.2 percent.


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  • dermbuilder

    I suspect that what we are seeing here is that those who only use
    a computer for web surfing and email are switching to tablets which
    are sufficient for such purposes, and only those who actually need a full featured computer are buying them. Tablets are worthless as serious word processors, accounting machines, media storage devices, or for content creation. Also, you can still buy a full featured laptop with 320 gig or more of storage, a DVD burner, full size keyboard, 16 inch display and dual core 64 bit processor for $400., or less, and they are portable enough for most purposes. Also, I don’t think that iPads even have USB jacks, so they are hard to connect to printers, scanners etc. That’s why I never even considered buying one.

  • Bazza

    Sorrry Adam Gowdiak, but folks *do* need Java on their desktop in quite a large variety of situations. One of the most prevalent would be HTPC software, particularly popular DTV software like Web Scheduler and DV Scheduler, which absolutely require Java.

    A real security analyst would be advising people to setup their routers and firewalls correctly, but I guess that’s assuming these big salary IT “experts” actually know what they’re doing, a common mistake.