Friday, January 19, 2007

New TAB Post: Safari Shortcuts a Big Timesaver

For me, one of the undervalued timesavers which I use all day, every day, is Safari's ability to navigate pages simply by hitting Command and a number, to move from sites in my Bookmarks Bar. If you use the Bookmarks Bar to contain your most frequently-accessed sites, in addition to folders, hitting Command-1 will select the leftmost site, Command-2 will hit the second in line, and so on. Now, instead of moving the mouse and clicking on the shortcut, or entering the URL, you can rapidly move through your daily Web surfing.

That's the idea behind my most recent contribution to The Apple Blog, titled Safari Shortcuts a Big Timesaver. Per agreement with them, I will not be cross-posting the piece, but instead, have provided a link. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Apple Smashes Estimates, Sells 21 Million iPods

The story continues to be the same for Apple Inc. Although expectations for the Cupertino computer and digital device company are higher than ever, the company continues to exceed estimates quarter after quarter and year after year. Today, after NASDAQ market close, Apple announced fiscal earnings of $7 billion, with more than $1 billion in profits. In the quarter, Apple increased iPod sales by 50% over the previous year, to 21 million, and 1.6 million Macs, up 28% year over year.

Apple has come an amazingly long way from the mid-90's squalor that had some expecting they simply wouldn't make it. It's even more amazing to realize that this tremendous growth from the company's base products comes in advance of their recently announced iPhone and Apple TV products, which wasn't lost on the company's CEO, Steve Jobs, in today's press release.

"We've just kicked off what is going to be a very strong new product year for Apple by launching Apple TV and the revolutionary iPhone."

Apple's growth looks like it is in no danger of slowing. Through unique innovation and aggressive marketing, Apple has forged a place for itself in the marketplace. Now, it's not just a question of whether the company will survive, or if Apple can sell beyond its installed base, but just how much market share the company can take from Windows. With Vista around the corner, and Leopard offering some cutting-edge features, Apple can make significant traction in the coming year.

As Apple users and Mac afficionados, we look forward to more progress.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

MacWorld San Francisco 2007 Eve

There was once a time where the advent of Steve Jobs walking on the stage for Apple would be enough to surpass anything else I had going on that day. I'd come in to work late, or watch the event, via QuickTime, on top of other windows during the workday. While I remain very curious, it's less of an obsession (some might disagree), and more of an obligation. I'm more hopeful that whatever is announced tomorrow does more for Apple's stock than anything else. We're long AAPL again, and any hint of "buy on the rumors, sell on the news" would knock our portfolio down a few pegs.

Everybody and their dog has predictions for MacWorld. Some will be right, and others... not so much. Theories have ranged from a new cellular phone to a TiVo and Netflix killer, wide-screen HDTVs for the living room, new iMac designs, faster Mac Pros, upgraded MacBook Pros, a new wide-screen iPod, next generation Airport wireless, the introduction of OS X 10.5 (a.k.a. Leopard), new revisions of the iLife and iWork software suites, improved .Mac features, and integrated virtualization. Did I miss anything? Even with that long list, probably.

Regardless of what Steve Jobs announces tomorrow, you'll have one part of the population ecstatic over the smallest things, and in contrast, another extreme, deathly frustrated they didn't get exactly what they wanted. Some updates will be a surprise, others, boringly repetitive. But it's all in good fun, and all in good business. Every good marketer who gets the opportunity to speak in public should watch Jobs perform. He's excellent on stage, and he might not be up there for too much longer, as eventually, someone else will have to lead Apple. But until then, he's firmly in charge, and tomorrow, we'll hopefully be watching.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

New TAB Post: In Praise of Preview

Often, it's the quiet utilities you use every day that speed your workflow. Without the bells and whistles of expensive commercial software packages, and lacking hoopla, they simply are there to help your Mac work better. Apple's Preview application, which comes bundled with Mac OS X and every Macintosh sold, is one of those applications I've found myself using more and more for a variety of tasks - rendering other apps, including Adobe Acrobat and PhotoShop, unnecessary.

That's the idea behind my most recent contribution to The Apple Blog, titled In Praise of Preview. Per agreement with them, I will not be cross-posting the piece, but instead, have provided a link. Enjoy.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

New TAB Post: I'm Tired of White Apple Products

While stuck at the San Jose airport on Christmas Eve, I was struck once again by the vast number of white iPod earbuds I saw around the hall, from all varieties of people. The white earbuds were so clearly Apple. But that got me thinking - can Apple branch out now that they have such momentum? Why not embrace the route they took in the late 1990s with colors. Remember the first iMac? Colors were big.

That's the idea behind my most recent contribution to The Apple Blog, titled I’m Tired of White Apple Products. Per agreement with them, I will not be cross-posting the piece, but instead, have provided a link. Enjoy.

Listening to ''Drums 4 Better Daze (Excession'', by Jerry Bonham (Play Count: 5)

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Apple Stock Option Case Could Hinge on False Docs

The months-long inquiry into Apple's handling of stock option irregularities could come to a head this week, as the company will be required to issue a report to the SEC on its findings by Friday, December 29th. In an insightful piece on Law.com, it is said that federal prosecutors are especially interested in "documents that were apparently falsified by company officials to maximize the profitability of option grants to executives."

The article says that the alleged falsification of records indicates the executives knew their activities were wrong, and that such behavior shows intent to defraud the public. While no individuals have yet been named as wrong-doers, most of the speculation has surrounded the company's former general counsel, Nancy Heinen, and former CFO Fred Anderson, who resigned from Apple's board in October.

The central issue around the stock option scandal is that Apple knowingly inaccurately dated option grants to make the stock issuances more favorable. While CEO Steve Jobs has so far remained above the fray, saying he was aware of some of the grants, but did not benefit from them, or understand their accounting impact, he has also retained the services of independent counsel.

AppleInsider also writes on the topic. Apple is not alone in this crisis, as the stock option backdating scandal has hit companies across Silicon Valley, including notables such as Brocade Communications and Computer Associates. Most believe that Apple will not be required to delist from the Nasdaq, given the company's prominence, though that remains a possibility.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

New TAB Post Covers iWork As a Potential iDud

In the last five years-plus, following the introduction of the iPod, Apple has done little wrong. They've launched Mac OS X 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4, and are on the way to introducing Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5). They revamped their hardware, and even integrated Intel chips.

Their software apps have done very well also. Safari is a great browser. I use Mail.app exclusively. iLife is helping to sell tons of new Mac owners on the platform. But iWork, consisting of Pages and Keynote, hasn't done so well.

This is the topic of my latest post on The Apple Blog, my third.

Catch it here: Has iWork Been an iDud for Apple?

Listening to ''Here Comes the Rain Again (Extended Mix)'', by NRC (Play Count: 6)

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

New TAB Post Covers BlackBerry/Mac Integration

Since last week's invitation to publish stories on The Apple Blog, we have written two articles.

The first, covering KavaSoft's iTunes Catalog, received more than 450 promotions to the Digg site, resulting in tremendous traffic on this blog to my personal music library, and hopefully, a similar amount of interested folks perusing the KavaSoft site to make a purchase.

The second, to be published at 11 this morning, is less likely to set off a Web firestorm, but in my opinion is even more essential - detailing how I have now finally found a product that lets me synchronize my BlackBerry with my Mac. For far too long, I thought the Mac would go unsupported by the BlackBerry - that my data would have to live in a parallel universe between the Windows/Outlook/BlackBerry platform on one side and the Mac OS X/Mail/Address Book/iCal platform on the other.

The new article can be found here: PocketMac Syncs Blackberry With Mac

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Apple Updates .Mac Webmail, But Is Playing Catchup

In September, Apple hinted they would be adding new features to the company's .Mac Web-based e-mail, utilizing tools including Ajax, to make the user experience more like a desktop application, and less limited. Last night, with little fanfare, the Webmail site was upgraded to do just that, and after using it to send/receive, delete, open and forward messages, it's not at all dramatic - especially when contrasted with the upgrades at Gmail by Google, Yahoo! Mail, etc. Where Apple could have leapfrogged the competition, they instead opted to play catchup.

Over the last decade, we've picked up and dropped a wide variety of e-mails, Web-based and otherwise, having at various used AOL, Earthlink, @Home, AT&T, Comcast, Netscape, Excite, GMail, Mail.com, Yahoo!, a number of work-based accounts, and Mac.com. On a daily basis, however, I only use two e-mail accounts - the one for work, and my Mac.com account. GMail I use as a repository for lists with high volume, and everything else is a waste. In fact, right now I have 452 new e-mails in GMail, and 1,093 unread messages in Yahoo! mail, 672 of which have been classified as "Bulk". It's not even worth looking at the other abandoned accounts.

Years ago, I bought the $99 a year .Mac subscription to have an e-mail address I could keep using regardless of the underlying ISP. If I ever switch away from Comcast, or need my e-mail on the road, the e-mail moves with me. Thanks to Apple's Backup and iSync services, the e-mails are backed up and won't be obliterated if I suffer a dead hard drive or user error. But aside from that, Apple hasn't given the same amount of focus to their Web-based services as they have the iPod or their desktops, by any means, and even with last night's upgrade, they haven't emerged as anything resembling a market leader.

In the new .Mac Webmail service, replying or double-clicking a message pops it open in a new window, with a simplified button structure - automatically guessing at your next move. The service also comes with a standard 1 GB of available space (compared to nearly 3 GB for GMail), and search functionality - which works fairly well. The major difference between the Web version and that of the desktop would be the archives. While on the Web, you only have your In Box, Sent Items, Deleted Items, and Junk. As I've saved mountains of e-mail from friends, family and commerce transactions over the last decade, I don't have access to those remotely, as they live on the desktop and don't hit my Webmail quota. If Apple tried to use their storage space to give me access to all my e-mail, that would be pretty cool, and that would put them ahead of competitive services at something.

For other views of Apple's Webmail upgrades, check here:
Mac Rumors: .Mac Webmail Updated
GigaOM: New Dot Mac Mail - Live Now

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy Fifth Birthday to the iPod

The iPod music player is one of those iconic gadgets that seems like it's always been around, but still has that "new" feeling. Five years ago today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod to a hall full of tech journalists, calling the device a breakthrough. Though curious, the initial response to the iPod was mixed - what was Apple doing introducing a device that wasn't a computer? And why was Apple getting into the MP3 player business where so many other competitors (including Rio and SonicBlue) were already?

At work, I read reports of the debut with marked skepticism. It didn't seem like something I really wanted, and I couldn't figure out a place I would play it. After all, I am seemingly always near a computer or stereo at home, have a CD player in the car, and didn't anticipate listening at work. It certainly wasn't as if I would suddenly get fit, take up exercise and go jogging with the iPod in hand, and white earbuds playing the best of techno. In fact, when one person on an Apple message board said the device was most likely geared toward 24 year-old geeks, I (being a 24-year-old geek at the time) said I wasn't interested and wouldn't be getting one.



Of course - that all changed when I got home, and watched Steve Jobs' introduction on QuickTime from the Apple site. Not 12 hours after the iPod had been introduced to the world, I had gone to the Apple store and purchased one of the first iPods ever built. In fact, thanks to my thorough e-mail archives, I still have my proof of purchase before 10 p.m. that evening, thanking me for my order.

The price for the 5 gigabyte device?

$399, plus an estimated tax amount of $31.92, for a total order of $430.92, and it wasn't even expected to ship for another 3-4 weeks. Five years later, you can't walk a block without seeing somebody wearing an iPod, and they come in sizes from a mere 512 megabytes to 80 Gigabytes, in a variety of colors, and as cheaply as $79. Yet somehow, I don't feel ripped off.

The iPod, and along with it, iTunes, and the iTunes Music Store, reenergized the world of music for many people, who saw the industry under attack from thievery engines like Napster and Kazaa. The iTunes Music Store gave those of us yearning instant gratification for music a safe, legal alternative that didn't leave us feeling dirty after download. Apple had a mega-hit on its hands, and we were there from the very first day. Congratulations Apple - you've come a long way.

Listening to ''The DJ - In the Mix'', by ATB (Play Count: 13)

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Amid Speculation, Apple Continues to Execute

Yesterday's record quarter for Apple came at a time when many analysts, media and fans are eager to see the company debut the next "big thing" to rival the iPod. With the device reaching it's five-year anniversary this month, Apple has morphed from niche computer maker to a serious brand leader for consumer devices, as well as top-notch computers and software. Now, everyone is guessing as to what is coming next from Cupertino.

It has been a long-held tradition among Macintosh supporters to try and get an early scoop on the next Apple rumor. Sometimes, they get it exactly right, as AppleInsider did with the G4 Cube years ago, or they get it wrong - as SpyMac did with the infamous iWalk. But as the iPod has transformed the company, you see more mainstream publications piling on, and analysts speculating when a new product will debut to impact revenue.

In the last two years, the most common demands are for Apple to debut a cellular phone and service, dubbed "iPhone", an Apple media center for the living room, and an iTunes movie download service, with a "true" video iPod. In the last few months the iTunes movie download service has been introduced, and iTV was previewed, though you can't buy one just yet. That leaves the iPhone and true video iPod to come.

Earlier this week, a site called TrustedReview said they had "a conversation with an extremely well informed exec" who spilled the beans on timing for the new touchscreen iPod. As if executives have opted not to honor NDAs and cross Steve Jobs. Not a good plan, especially now that we know companies like HP are all too happy to check your cell phone records in an attempt to plug leaks. Yet, the site says December is when we'll see the new iPod, explaining, partially, why Jobs to date has been so dismissive of Microsoft's Zune music player, as he was in Newsweek, recently. Meanwhile, also this week, Forbes says the new iPhone would debut in January. When Forbes starts rumors, you know something is up.

But while everybody is salivating over what's next, Apple is simply getting it done. The company is putting serious pressure on its rivals at Microsoft and Dell, and taking market share. Just imagine the hubbub when all these unannounced products actually do come to life...

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

My iPod Is Trying to Die

Those who are the biggest supporters are often those who are the most tested. I launched into the iPod Revolution feet-first nearly five years ago, and have been a loyal customer, from the 5 GB first generation to the 20 GB second generation, and when that 20 GB iPod was foolishly left behind on a plane last year, I anted up to the 60 GB iPod Photo - then top of the line. Now, there's a very real chance that it too will become a device of the past, as in the present, it's stuck, and won't even reboot.

Unlike most of the iPod community, I use the iPod for much more than music. In fact, it serves as my remote backup device between my home and office computers. This enables me to work on projects regardless of location. But with it, I often become too reliant on the iPod, with the expectation it is failsafe, and neglect to backup. I learned this tragically last year when all my data was wiped out, and it was made incredibly difficult to rebuild.

This year, I've tried to do better. The last full backup I did of the device (files, not music) was September 18th, and if I think hard, there's very little I couldn't rebuild out of e-mail attachments to fill in the gaps if my iPod chooses not to wake up. Most of the files I build are later sent somewhere, so with some diligence, I could upload and download to get myself up to date.

But for now, I'm still frustrated. In preparation for putting together my weekly report for the office via PowerPoint, I plugged in the iPod to my home laptop (to get last week's and use that as a template). But I noticed it hadn't mounted on the desktop, and I unplugged it. Then, I noticed the iPod screen was effectively frozen (as it is now), saying 3:31 p.m. and the familiar "Do Not Disconnect" symbol. Holding the device up to my ear, I didn't hear the spinning of the hard drive, and pressing the menu and play/pause button for 10 seconds and more didn't reboot the device, as it is supposed to.

So - here we are - do we go to device number four, and use that as the excuse to get a "latest and greatest" video iPod, when all the rumors say the next one, the widescreen, is "just around the corner"? Do I instead take the opportunity to get a new laptop at work, and eliminate the iPod middleman? If I don't manage to wake up this little white rectangular box, we're going to end up spending money and time I don't have.

Listening to ''Sydney'', by Gabriel & Dresden (Play Count: 10)

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Apple Innovation Forces PC Market To Follow

In 1998, when Apple introduced the iMac, they made two major changes to the computing world - besides using colors and a new shape - the company was the first to standardize on USB, and in a big shocker, to dump the ubiquitous floppy disk drive. The world was in pure shock that Apple could have done that - and many were sure that all in Cupertino were daft. But as the years passed, USB itself grew market share by leaps and bounds, and that daring leap Apple took by axing the disk drive looked tame. As the Internet grew in popularity, people learned to e-mail files as attachments and avoid sneakernet, while floppy disks just about disappeared into the vault of antiquity.

With the introduction of the first-generation iBook, and its accompanying partner, AirPort, Apple ushered in the era of wireless networking, and though others, like Intel (Centrino) have capitalized on this trend, Apple was first to the table. Apple's foray into new technologies with Gigabit Ethernet, hybrid CD-R/DVD-R burners (SuperDrive), hard-disk MP3 players (iPod) and even faster wireless (802.11n), continues to be a good indicator as to what will come next from the broader industry.

While the common analyst response is to downplay a new technology, then offer lukewarm acceptance, nodding approval and finally adoption and praise, Apple commonly doesn't look for wide acceptance before taking the leap - and every once in a while, it gets it wrong. But not often enough that Cupertino can be ignored.

For instance, with ThinkSecret's news today that Apple's yet to be released iPhone would be native to Cingular at introduction, speculation has risen that Apple will push GSM standards forward in the US, after the technology has had significant foothold overseas. GigaOM speculates, as we have outlined above, that Apple just might be the standard setter after all. Not bad for a company everyone thought was dead just a decade ago.

Listening to ''Somebody Told Me'', by The Killers (Play Count: 8)

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Why Is Apple Asking Mac Users to "Get A Mac"?

It's no secret that I use an Apple Macintosh at home and at work - as often as I can. I've been a Mac user since I started using computers, and the debate was between the Apple IIGS and the Mac LC, and have followed the company through several generations. Knowing that, why is it that I continue to see Apple's "Get a Mac" ads on prominent Web sites that I visit? With Web tracking technology what it is, every Web advertiser should know what platform I am on, what browser I am using, and similar Web sites I frequent. With that said, why can't Apple have its Web ads shown only to non-Mac users, to increase their success rate?

If the idea is to get Mac users to upgrade to the latest Intel Macs, that makes sense, but use a different message.

If the idea is to let Mac users know that Apple has an ad campaign out there to increase market share, that's quite another message, but it's my feeling that the computer company could be more effective with their ad targeting, and save money while reaching more potential switchers.

Just thinking out loud...

Listening to ''Gabriel & Dresden (Continuous Mix)'', by Gabriel & Dresden (Play Count: 1)

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Showtime: Steve Jobs Is Magic Again With "iTV"

On Tuesday, September 12th, while the rest of the Mac world was sitting with jaws agape, anticipating Steve Jobs' every breath, hand gesture, slideshow and demo, I was working. Though I was vaguely aware that Apple was very likely in the process of introducing new iPods and iTunes, with Disney-branded movie downloads, I was forced to resort to the highly unsatisfactory method of getting the news through the Blackberry browser, where in text, I tried to absorb the real-time feed from MacRumors, and visualize in my head every shiny gadget and GUI.

Not until this evening, when I finally had the time to sit down and watch the Showtime event's keynote stream from the Apple Web site, did I get to see Jobs do what he does best - unveil incremental updates as if they were must-haves, and try to find new ways for me to distribute my money to Cupertino. But, as with nearly every one of Jobs' keynotes, I again came away impressed, not entirely so with the products, but with Jobs' capabilities.

While most marketeers, CEOs and PR lackeys tend to want to crowd every product feature and bullet into a never-ending slide deck, Jobs managed to introduce new products every five minutes (no exaggeration) for the first half hour of the event - moving crisply and quickly, but not skimping on substance. 5 minutes into the presentation we had a new iPod. 10 minutes in, a new iPod Nano, and 15 minutes in, a new iPod Shuffle, featuring a built-in belt clip. Next up was iTunes 7, and here we were seeing a new GUI, including CoverFlow, and the addition of "one more thing" - movie downloads.

For Jobs, though he peppers his speeches with words like "beautiful", "amazing", "great" and "outstanding", he isn't the one doing the selling. Instead, he lets the products sell themselves in such away that you find yourself thinking of what you need to do to make room for this new product in your stable or your workflow. And, in a step unusual for Apple, they took a big risk by announcing a new box (code named iTV) to interface between your computer and your television, which aimed to bring the media (movies, TV shows and music mostly) to your home theater. By showing a slim white box with all the necessary ports, and a slick GUI, he has the Web buzzing about adding yet another device to the already crowded living room, most of which feature televisions, stereos, a DVD player, a DVR, and a cable box at the very least.

iTV is supposed to marry your digital computer media to your TV. But with TiVo grabbing the shows I already want to watch (for free) and my gaining access to DVDs cheaply with NetFlix, and the Airport Express already shuttling my music to my stereo, I can think of a lot of reasons where I don't need iTV - yet. Over the next few months, as its release date draws nearer, I may go out of my way to try and find good reasons to pick one up. But I would need to have a significant change in how I manage my entertainment and my budget. With full-length feature films nearing 1 GB in data to download, even at the fastest of connections, it will be an enormous network hog and capacity hog. On my 80 GB laptop, I've got about 16 GB available, and I'm not about to spend $100+ to download the Disney library and fill it up. But, as Steve knows, some people will, and in months, we may very well be looking at another hit on Apple's hands - whether I'm along for the ride or not.

Related Links:

BBC: Apple video move divides industry
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5342408.stm

Wired: New UI Showdown: Apple vs. TiVo
http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,71774-0.html

AppleInsider: Apple's living room strategy a multi-year venture
http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2045

Listening to ''Take Me Away (Into the Night)'', by 4 Strings (Play Count: 29)

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Thursday, September 7, 2006

New Apple Patent Applications Keep Fans Guessing

For a mega-brand such as Apple, there's little you can do without anybody noticing. With an army of hundreds of thousands scouring your Web site on a daily basis to uncover any hidden clues as to future products and features, or writing on their blog about directories that don't go anywhere (http://www.apple.com/movies) or domain names that don't mean anything (http://www.iphone.org/ and http://www.mammals.org), when you actually do put a tidbit of information out there, it gets devoured and digested more quickly than a pair of hot dogs in front of Takeru Kobayashi.

Today, in separate "findings"...

It was first revealed that Apple had filed patent applications for a multi-functional hand-held device, aimed to act as any or more of the following: a PDA, cell phone, music player, video player, digital camera, handtop, Internet terminal, GPS or remote control. Though the sketches are well... sketchy, it of course reinvigorated discussions that Apple would move beyond the iPod and go after the market it initially forged with the Newton. The application detailed a device that could potentially forgo traditional keys in exchange for touch-sensitive keys that would make room for full-screen viewing.

In a second discovery, it's now said that Apple may be trying to bring back the famous "Cube" which didn't do so well the first time around, priced too high and lacking standard features for upgradeability and accessibility. When high-profile cracks began to appear in the otherwise flawless-looking mini-desktop, Apple put the machines on ice, but suggested they might some day return. Now, a new patent application says the Cube form factor is back on the board. Of course, being laptop centric, I don't think we'll be getting one now either.

Listening to ''Brown Paper Bag'', by Roni Size/Reprazent (Play Count: 2)

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Monday, September 4, 2006

Let the Apple Speculation Begin Yet Again

I swear, if Steve Jobs sneezes, it's bound to hit the Mac rumor sites. I'm surprised if stevejobssneezes.com isn't there with live coverage, a streaming chat site and user forums - all claiming inside information from his general practitioner. Hot off of WWDC, the Apple rumor mill is again abuzz - with suggestions that Steve and the rest of the Apple crew will unveil some "insanely great" updates on everything from the iMac to iPods, their AirPort wireless base stations, and as usual, a kitchen sink of mystery offerings - including the long-rumored, much-anticipated iTunes Movie Store, and even a video streaming device that would interface with your television set.

While Mac aficionados always expect for every single product in the lineup to get an update, plus a surprise, it doesn't really make good business sense for Apple, or any other company, to do away with their entire suite of offerings in one swoop - with inventory, supply and demand issues all being key. Instead, Apple typically updates two products at a time, and alternates their introductions. While WWDC saw updates to the Power Macintosh line, the new mysterious September 12th media invite would focus on iPods and iMacs, and a third, unnamed event later this year might see updates to their line of laptops. It just makes sense.

But here we go... the contest of the rumor sites to one-up the other.

Think Secret, with one of the better track records in this informal business, says new iPods and a new iMac are due on the September 12th event. Think Secret expects higher capacities (as always), and new colors for the iPod Nano. Their expectations for the updated iPod line are less extensive, as the long-rumored touch-screen iPod isn't expected until early 2007, barring an early release to trump Microsoft's warmed-over Toshiba Gigabeat, which they've called Zune. Think Secret also says the iTunes movie store has been postponed, for unknown reasons.

This of course conflicts with AppleInsider's expectations. With some instances of success, AppleInsider is typically more aggressive and fanciful with their expectations from Apple. The site once expected "strawberry" pink G3s, and has expected handhelds or Apple cell phones every few months for the last several years... but they try.

AppleInsider also expects new iMacs and iPod Nanos. But they take things further by expecting that Steve Jobs and Apple have even bigger plans than anyone has anticipated - video streaming of iTunes movies to television sets in customers' living rooms - extending the functionality of Airport Express, which now offers streaming to home stereos (including mine).

They also claim that rumored delays of the touchscreen iPod are overblown. But only one of these sites can be right, which will be seen next week. We'll be watching, of course.

Listening to ''Hymne & Sail'', by DJ Armin van Buuren (Play Count: 5)

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wal-Mart Trying To Stop Apple Movie Store

You've no doubt seen how Apple has reinvented itself beyond being a computer-focused company to one that also is best represented by iPod and iTunes. The iPod/iTunes brand has really become the dominant player in the online music and MP3 player market, beating Sony, Dell and a host of also-rans.

Now that rumblings are out there saying Apple will add movies to its iTunes store, Wal-Mart is trying to use its own market power to stop it before it gets started. BusinessWeek says that Wal-Mart, who represents 40% of the $17 billion DVD market, is threatening publishers, saying that if they post their titles on iTunes, Wal-Mart simply won't carry them.

BusinessWeek: Wal-Mart and Apple Battle for Turf

Part of this is because Wal-Mart is also planning an online film service, and they don't want to support companies that work with the competition. Part of it also is that they are afraid Apple will win in online movies the way they won in online music, and that they will set the rules for costs, etc. Current rumors have the store debuting in mid-September with new films at $14.99 to own, and older films at $9.99. Disney and Lions Gate Films have signed up, with more studios to come, no doubt.

With that said - should Wal-Mart act this way, or is it acting like a monopolist? What's your feeling?

Listening to ''Get Up on It Like This'', by The Chemical Brothers (Play Count: 5)

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Google CEO Joins Apple Board - So What?

The somewhat-stunning after-hours news today was that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has joined Apple's board of directors, joining former Vice President and would-be world supreme leader Al Gore, and the CEOs of Intuit, J. Crew and Genentech. Fresh off of the news that Google was introducing new applications that could be co-branded for business' domain, the expectation is that Apple and Google have teamed up in a joint fight against the Redmond behemoth, Microsoft. But what's not seen is that the usual direct impact a board member has on the company's products is very slim indeed.

One need only look as far as Apple to see this. When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, a close friend of Steve Jobs, was on the board, the Macintosh did not make much headway in running Oracle's business suite, and Intuit hasn't exactly wowed anybody with their support for Macintosh in the last decade or so. While we can dream of further collaboration between the two companies, beyond a Google search bar embedded in Safari, and $1.75 iPod wrappers with the Google logo, this doesn't guarantee a streamlined plethora of joint product announcements - so don't hold your breath for a Mac OS X version of Google Desktop, Google-branded Mac Minis and X Serves, or the debut of GTunes, powered by iTunes.

At least... that's my expectation. A board of directors' role is to ensure the company is growing smoothly and that all activities are above board, from compensation to product roadmaps - not to sit in a dark room and merge business lines.

But this of course won't thwart speculation. TechCrunch writes, "Could close collaboration between online giant Google and Apple hardware pose the most viable threat yet to Microsoft’s long held personal computing leadership? It certainly seems possible.", while Om Malik somehow finds a dark corner in his soul to poo-poo the relationship, saying this "portends potential headaches not just for Microsoft, but for anyone with digital media ambitions." Right. As if with one swoop, iPod and iTunes are going to get that much more market share in the face of Zune and other challengers because some guy gets to visit the Cupertino campus every two months.

What it does do is further validate Apple's rise to prominence in a once-skeptical Silicon Valley. I know Google spends millions every quarter in new Apple equipment for employees, and at some point, those MacBook-carrying Webheads are going to want the latest and greatest Google gear to go. I hope that some of the speculation comes true and can prove me wrong.

Listening to ''Under One (JK Walker Remix)'', by Todd Tobias (Play Count: 6)

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Will Second Half of '06 Be Huge for Apple?

Although the most die hard of Mac fans were less than enthusiastic about the lack of product introductions at the recently-concluded Worldwide Developers Conference, the media continues to be abuzz about how Steve Jobs and others promised to take on Microsoft's Windows Vista directly, as the operating system release continues to be more about delays, unfulfilled promises and bugs than about real benefits for customers. While we didn't see an update iPod, or an iTunes Movie Store, everybody got the message that Apple, with Mac OS X, is delivering an operating system today that is already well ahead of Redmond's empty promises, while Leopard, coming soon, will take the Mac maker that much further into the lead.

Newsfactor, in a piece titled, "Can the Mac Counter Windows Vista?", says that the real operating system wars are not behind us, but instead are yet to come, and that with Leopard, Apple intends to "present a direct challenge to industry behemoth Microsoft". With the move to Intel processors, and the adoption of the ability to run Windows on the newest Macintoshes, Apple has eliminated any price differences once expected between Macs and PCs, while also pushing their strong television campaign comparing Macs vs. PCs. (Get A Mac archive)

An analyst from Forrester Research mentions in the article, "In many ways, Apple doesn't have to respond to Vista's specific functionality, since Apple is already ahead of it."

But that doesn't stop others from speculating Apple's next moves. Even as other companies make announcements around downloading full-length feature films to PCs, Apple has remained quiet. But nobody expects the company to sit still and let this market pass them by, as they continue to build out their music empire. The Investor's Business Daily says that it's expected Apple would bridge the gap between the Internet and television by introducing both an online movie store, and a set-top box, similar to today's Mac Mini, which would play the films on your television.

In fact, an independent survey stated that "many respondents who were interested in an Apple set-top box showed no interest in set-tops from other companies," meaning the Apple brand, behind the power of the iPod, has come a long way.

While we're huge TiVo fans, we don't see it as the end-all, be-all of options. If Apple could somehow debut a single device to act both as a movie conduit from the Internet to the television, and as our personal video recorder, we would have to give it significant consideration, and I don't imagine we would be the only ones to do so.

If Apple even debuts half of what people expect - a new iPod, a new cell phone, a new set top box, and powers past Vista with Leopard, the next six to twelve months will be very interesting in Cupertino. That's why we're long Apple (AAPL) shares.

Listening to ''Fifteenth Letter of the Alphabet'', by O (Play Count: 6)

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

iPod Juggernaut Claims Dell As Latest Victim

Today, multiple reports noted that Dell has withdrawn all mention of their MP3 player lineup from the company's store and site. Originally having launched the Dell DJ years ago to take on Apple's iPod, Dell retrenched behind the flash-based Dell Ditty, competing with Apple's incredibly popular iPod Shuffle offering. But it seems that they have admitted defeat and are walking away from the market altogether, removing yet another competitor from Apple's way.

But it certainly can't be as simple as that.

It's my expectation that Dell will heavily promote Microsoft's "coming zune" Zune MP3 player, either through offering it at cutthroat prices on their site, or in bundling to consumers looking for desktops and laptops. There really are only three potential scenarios:

1) Dell admits Apple has won (25% probability)
2) Dell will soon be branding the iPod themselves (5% probability)
3) Microsoft is the company's new MP3 partner (70% probability)

It will all get very interesting soon, as Microsoft threatens to muck up yet another market with their half-baked me-too offerings. They've done it before, and it won't stop them this time around either. Dell, unfortunately, may be an all-too willing partner in the war on the side of mediocrity.

Listening to ''Dirtbox'', by Dave Clarke (Play Count: 6)

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

If You're on a PC, It's Time to Switch to Mac

In the dark days of the mid-1990s for Apple, the rallying cry wasn't to move people off of Windows and on to Macintosh, but instead to keep the doors open at the iconic computer company, who was on its last legs financially after a series of missteps that coincided with the absence of co-founder Steve Jobs. A decade later, it's no secret that the Mac maker is alive and kicking. Following a strong WWDC conference last week, many in the media are discussing if it's finally time to make the switch to Macintosh, as Apple debuted more powerful systems than the competition (Dell) at a lower price point, and the company's newest operating system leapfrogs Windows Vista, which is still struggling in early beta.

As Michael Gartnerberg, an analyst for Jupiter Research, told the New York Times, "much of what Microsoft is promising for Vista is available today at your local Apple store," and Gartner analysts followed that up by saying "Apple is winning mind share, which leads to market share."

All the old adages and excuses of why people would not consider the Macintosh are gone. The Macintosh is compatible with all networking standards and corporate networks. The newest Macintoshes offer Windows as an option, and the entire product lineup features the latest Intel processors. Additionally, as mentioned, the price differential between the two (Mac and PC) is gone at any level except the very lowest price band.

As the company's series of "Get a Mac" ads have shown, every new Macintosh, at factory install, comes bundled with an array of creative applications, that if purchased for the PC equivalent, could cost hundreds of dollars. Additionally, the Macintosh platform continues to be the leader in security and is virus-free, while Windows continues to be rattled by virus warnings, worms, spyware, and instability.

With all that said, the mainstream media is now getting the picture in a big way. A second New York Times article asks openly if it is "Time to trade Windows for Mac?". As Apple continues to grow mind share with its ubiquitous iPods and expanded advertising, it's definitely coming to the fore in a big way. (See also: Red Herring: The End of Wintel?)

A colleague of mine at work wrote just last week, complaining that she was beset with spyware and detested the plagues of Windows, from pop-ups to viruses.

She wrote, "I don't know anything about MACs.... Would I like one instead of a desktop PC? Are they easier or harder to manage? I keep getting hackers attacking my PC at home... Viruses, spyware, etc..." Minutes later, after visiting the Apple store online, and finding the Mac Mini, the story was different. "$599!  SOLD!!  SOLD!  That one is MINE!  :)"

If you're on Windows, and you're tired of the computer running you, and not the other way around, it's time to come to the light. Apple offers you a better way of life. The Macintosh platform is built to help you get things done, not to get in your way. Switch today.

Listening to ''Out Of The City (City Slickers'', by 2 Heads (Play Count: 17)

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Tuesday, August 8, 2006

WWDC 2006 Roundup

As I wrote on Sunday night, WWDC is one of the most hotly-anticipated days on a Mac aficionado's calendar. And just about every year sees an incredible amount of hype and predictions of software, hardware and magic - expectations that Apple CEO Steve Jobs can just pull products out of a hat, regardless of their ease of development, or practicality. This year was no different - as a little after 24 hours following the event, Apple is recognized for having made some strong, solid introductions, but still a cry goes up from the Web by those who expected quite a bit more.

Gone are the visions many had of wireless iPods, and a downloadable movie store, an iPhone, or the introduction of integrated Windows compatibility. Instead, we saw the company complete its move to Intel processors with the introduction of the Mac Pro, we saw a preview of Mac OS X 10.5 (a.k.a. Leopard), and we heard Steve talk about how the new Mac OS X operating system was delivering features beyond even Microsoft's wildest imagination. Steve said that despite $5 billion in R&D, Microsoft is learning to copy Apple and Google, and isn't coming up with anything new. Also, he hinted at some "Top Secret" announcements and features that will be withheld until Leopard becomes closer to reality.

In the 1990s, the build-up to WWDC was a small affair, celebrated by a select few. Now, with Apple enjoying a resurgence with the success of the iPod, adoption of Intel and delays from Microsoft, the company has enjoyed overwhelming attention by more mainstream press. Now, instead of us Mac-heads whining in private Internet forums or stock boards, we now see reaction from Wired saying that Steve Jobs has lost his magic, and CNET claiming the blogosphere is disappointed. You reap what you sow, and Apple, so far, has held strong in the face of increased scrutiny.

For me, I'm looking forward to Leopard, and hope we see a lot more in the way of its functionality. The Mac Pro line is very strong if I were in that market, but being completely laptop-oriented now, I can't ever see why I would need a quad-core Intel Xeon workstation. That's crazy talk. I can't wait to ditch the two machines at work and merge them to one, a new MacBook Pro. Now, all I have to do is convince the boss, and get it expensed.

And until then, I'm going to go back to the recorded stream and take a look at it all myself for the first time.

Listening to ''Nessaja'', by Scooter (Play Count: 5)

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Monday, August 7, 2006

Apple In Focus: WWDC Kicks Off Today

For every good Apple rumormonger, there are really two big days on the calendar that one should mark at the beginning of every year - the beginning of MacWorld San Francisco in January, and the first day of the company's WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC), held in the summer. At both events, CEO and mogul Steve Jobs takes the stage and often wows attendees by unveiling the latest software and hardware with his own unique flair.

Sometimes, we are surprised and in awe by the announcements, and many other times, we are disappointed, for the pre-event hype often outweighs reality, as no company could provide the level of excitement and the wide breadth of introductions that we ourselves could dream up.

This year, like every year, the rumors have been flying fast and furious. Nearly everybody expects that the company's next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.5, or Leopard, will be previewed, and offered early to developers. Most expect to learn more about the newest professional desktops, dubbed the Mac Pro. Others anticipate updated iPods, or even the much-discussed, but never seen, iPhone. Other potential updates include the Xserve, or the company's displays.

Rumors are so widespread for WWDC that sites are dedicated to summarizing the potential announcements, and so many different sites are offering to stream live updates that there is even a page dedicated to summarizing all the live text feeds. Amazing, isn't it?

And while all that fun is going on as Steve, clad in a black turtleneck and blue jeans, is doing some of the best marketing on the planet, the Wall Street Journal continues to bang the drum on the story around the company's alleged stock option irregularities. In a piece coming out Monday, the WSJ now says that stock option grants to directors were issued just days before stock price increases, making the beneficiaries millions almost instantly. While few specific details are known yet, uncertainty is never a good thing in today's financial markets, and it threatens to put a dour mood on today's proceedings, at least as far as the markets are concerned. (Also: Reuters)

Though still keenly interested in Apple's announcements, I'm not as much the diehard I once was, admittedly. In years past, life would stop as Steve took the stage. I would stream the QuickTime to my computer, at home or at work, and fiddle while he introduced items. In the background, either a Web chat or a stock discussion board would take my initial reactions one by one, as collectively, many of us would react - sometimes violently, to what we saw. At times, we would see Steve stall, and know a new feature had fallen out of the keynote, and at other times, we would gnash and wail when that which we had most hoped for wouldn't materialize. But tomorrow, when Steve's on stage, I'll probably be in a meeting at the office. And that, honestly, will be okay. I'll catch up after it's all done, and see the verdict then.

Listening to ''Lush 3-3'', by Orbital (Play Count: 5)

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

Apple's iPod, iTunes Competitors Stumbling

Ever since the debut of the iPod, and through Apple's sustained market share growth, critics have said the company cannot maintain its significant lead in MP3 players, or in the online music sales arena. But quarter after quarter, the company's piece of the pie has held steady at the 80% level, despite competition - real and imagined, from those like Creative Labs, and the biggest names in the business - Sony, Microsoft and Google.

Microsoft made significant headlines in July, with the pre-announcement of Zune, which in theory would present the biggest impact to the iPod lead, a hard-disk MP3 player, tied with a brand-new online music store, and anticipated features including video and photo playback, and even wireless access - something Apple's not yet debuted in its iPod line.

But, as is typical with Microsoft products, features have fallen out, even before the debut. Engadget now says that Zune may not launch with video support. According to the site, "Microsoft called up some content providers and said the video portion of its Zune device... was being delayed."

And Microsoft's not alone in its struggles. Google, long rumored as the potential big fish in the pond, has now come out and said they have no interest in selling music online, and competing with iTunes. With Apple holding a nearly three and a half-year lead in the space, it will take some amazing introduction (or a reversion back to illegal, free downloading) to knock iTunes off its pedestal.

For years, critics and observers have eagerly awaited any potential slip-ups from the Cupertino company, hoping that its iTunes/iPod market share would follow the two-decades old story with the Mac, dropping down to eventual single-digit marketshare. But they have confused different markets in a different time with different leadership, and continue to not recognize the momentum and comprehension shown by Apple in a very competitive space. Maybe it will take some high-profile failures on the part of Microsoft and Google to bring that home.

Listening to ''Spin Spin Sugar (Armands Dark'', by Sneaker Pimps (Play Count: 6)

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Thursday, August 3, 2006

Common Valley Stock Practice Biting Apple

Having always worked in private companies, and having not yet ever reached the promised land of an IPO and public markets, the world of stock markets and public trading always has belonged to other folks. I'd often hear stories of how some saw their options first become real, and then rise and fall with the whim of the traders, but it wasn't brought home to reality - sounding more like fairy tales. But some got new cars, and some got new scars, and most lived to tell about it.

I can't recall whether it was through the gossip mill or from friends who worked at these newly-public companies, but many would tell stories of how their options would be priced at the lowest point of the stock's crest in the most recent month or quarter - meaning that regardless of its present condition, they were guaranteed to have been in the money, at least a little bit. This was normal, and if I remember right, was used as an incentive - like a company perk.

However, with increased corporate scrutiny from the SEC following all the mega-scandals at the beginning of this decade, more than 60 companies are under fire for such shenanigans, and among the most well-known is Apple Computer, where a good chunk of my investments are right now. (Okay, a huge chunk.)

After market close today, the company disclosed that it may have to restate previous quarters' earnings due to the practice, which they originally hinted was not going to be significant. As you know, any uncertainty is not good news to the markets, and it's highly unlikely that Apple stock will get away with not being punished tomorrow, even if the issues took place years ago, and the people involved are themselves gone.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, it's not clear "just what the irregularities are", and that today's announcement marked a "noticeable shift" in the company's position on the option grants. Just two weeks ago, Apple said it wouldn't need such an adjustment.

For those of us holding Apple stock, the next week or so should be a bumpy ride. Next week is the kick-off for WWDC, and many new products are anticipated. We could go down before we go up, and then back down again. Buckle up.

Listening to ''The One (Driftwood Remix)'', by Dee Dee (Play Count: 7)

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Apple Rumors: iPhone to Debut In August

An Apple rumor a day keeps Steve Jobs away. Or so it seems. On what should have been a lazy Saturday in the rumor mill for the Cupertino computer and digital device maker, the Web is aflurry with yet another discussion about the often-rumored and never seen, iPhone. It's been suggested pretty much ever since Apple debuted the iMac in 1998 that a move to cellular phones was next - and that the company would leverage is unparalleled design and user interface abilities to rock the worlds of Motorola and rest of the handset developers. 

With the subsequent debuts of the iPod in 2001, and work with Motorola on the Rokr and Slvr, Apple continues to draw attention to something they haven't mentioned - the iPhone. Even the most ardent of Cupertino followers is probably tired of this news cycle - as they've only been told about the Cupertino-owned URL www.iphone.org about 10 million times. But that news cycle is back, in one of those "A friend of a friend told me" type of deals. Engadget is now saying that an insider familiar with the commercial production for many of Apple's projects has seen the sleekest cell phone ever, and that it will debut in August - as if Steve Jobs has such loose control over the company that this helpful piece of data would just fall out of their mouths...

But that's not all in Apple land tonight. It turns out that the company's current products are humming along very nicely now too. As the company makes the third major transition in the last decade, over to Intel, not all of the company's faithful customers (myself included) have yet made the switch, and as eWeek writes, there just may be a "perfect storm" of Macintosh sales on the horizon, which in my hopes, would propel AAPL stock to new heights unseen in recent times. With my portfolio rebounding, it'd be great to have Apple pushing us well beyond our current position. Maybe, with my new iPhone, I could call my broker (if I had one) and tell him to buy, buy, buy AAPL stock. That'd be a kick. Now we just have to wait a month. Maybe. If the rumors are true...

Listening to ''Flowerz'', by Armand Van Helden (Play Count: 6)

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Apple iPod & iTunes to Support eBooks?

Another day, another rumor for the Cupertino computer and gadget company. While predicting Apple's latest move is a household hobby across greater geekdom, occasionally the prognosticators get it right. Today, Engadget is saying that Apple is moving to expand the iTunes Music Store's reach beyond music and TV shows, to add electronic books. Presumably, these eBooks could also be displayed on their iPod lineup, especially when the next generation debuts, with more screen space, which would allow for book reading.

Engadget writes that "According to a source at a major publishing house, they were just ordered to archive all their manuscripts -- every single one -- and send them over to Apple's Cupertino HQ." That's interesting. Now, I don't know if I'd sit in front of my iPod and try to read the latest Stephen King novel, but given I'll surf the Web with the Blackberry, and used to read eBooks on my Handspring Visor, there just may be a market for this. The question is, do the youth of today want to read books any more in the first place?
Listening to ''Live 4 Music (Original Edit)'', by DJ Shog (Play Count: 5)

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Still Ignoring Mac OS X 10.4.7

On the home laptop, just after midnight, every night, Mac OS X reminds me that I still haven't downloaded the latest update to my OS, 10.4.7. As if downloading that mere point upgrade were going to change my life or something. Though it's installed at work, I'm just not down with downloading something that may or may not deliver me any benefits, and forcing myself to restart. One of the major reasons to have a Mac and not a PC is to avoid restarts. Unless somebody gives me a good reason to download the darn thing, I may just wait until 10.5 ships to make any changes. Mac OS X is outstanding already.

Listening to ''Ecstasy (Original Airplay Mix)'', by ATB (Play Count: 7)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Apple Earnings Impress On All Counts

Wall Street can be fickle. With many companies of late making headlines due to SEC notices, earnings warnings and improperly forecast inventory levels, the market has not been a "happy fun zone" for some time - as even those companies that have been setting record earnings quarter after quarter have not escaped the analysts' wrath. Just last week, Apple stock fell when one analyst from Credit Suisse First Boston suggested that the company would miss earnings or forecast a revenue slowdown, based on rumored new iPod delays.

They were wrong. Big time.

After the stock market's close today, Apple announced the second-highest quarterly revenue and earnings in the company's history, on the back of more than 1.3 million Macintosh computers sold, and in excess of 8 million iPods. Also, the company reported that its new Intel-based Macs are flying off the shelves, comprising a full 75% of all Mac sales in the quarter.

Lucky for me, I had re-invested in Apple just last week, in an attempt to once again throw good money after bad, hoping to lower my overall share purchase price, and to benefit more greatly from the potential uptick in the stock. Not only did Apple stock rise by more than $1 a share during regular market trading, but the stock is up more than $4 a share (8+%) after hours, making me enough in about an hour to get a new MacBook for free, should I choose to throw my new cash that way.

With my Mac at work aging, now six years old, it's time to get a refresh. With Apple supporting Windows and Mac OS X together on one machine, we could add to Apple's bottom line in the upcoming quarter by getting an awesome new business machine.

Listening to ''Ian Richardson - Assume Nothing'', by Dave Clarke (Play Count: 9)

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Apple Rumors Time Approaching (Again)

It's a mere three weeks until the next big Apple-related expo, the World Wide Developers' Conference (WWDC). Along with the MacWorld Expo, held every January, WWDC is one of the biggest opportunities for the Mac and iPod maker to unveil Steve Jobs, and for Jobs to unveil the latest and greatest in hardware and software. And as with any good Apple shindig, the rumors fly fast and furious until there's "just one more thing"...

This year is no different. While Microsoft has stolen some of the limelight on the back of the rumor that they will soon be releasing an iPod clone with WiFi and additional features, Think Secret says that Apple's reading some announcements of their own - one claiming that iTunes will be extended to include movie rentals, and the other, that the second-generation iPod Nano is just around the corner.

The new Nano? According to the site, it will be available with larger capacities, and a wide variety of colors. Meanwhile, the next-generation iPod could grow as large as 80 gigabytes, equalling the space on my PowerBook! Yet, as is common, with a few weeks left, more rumors are expected, and many will be wrong.

Listening to ''Dark Sympathy" by Jerry Bonham (Play Count: 4)

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mac OS X 10.5 Remains a Mystery

After Thursday's discovery of what appeared to be two screenshots of Apple's next operating system release, the blogger has since recanted, saying that they were a fraud, and spread well beyond his initial expectations. This means that all of our intrigue around new features coming in Mac OS X 10.5, including virtual desktops, integrated Windows compatibility, and a hybrid version of AddressBook and iCal, may not actually be there at all.

As the blogger writes, "Those screenshots are 100% fake. They are entirely Photoshopped, done merely for fun out of lots of free time and about 6 cans of Diet Coke."

Yet fun was had by all. The Macintosh rumors community is notorious for biting hard on anything that nears hope, whether it was SpyMac's infamous iWalk video, the "Apple Media Player (AMP)", the on-again, off-again Apple iPhone, and even pink PowerMac G4s. Given Apple's record for innovation, we tend to believe they can deliver just about anything we dream up. It's an odd relationship, as in the absence of word from Apple, anticipation and expectations rise to a fever pitch, guaranteeing disappointment when the eventual truth is revealed.

And life goes on.

Or does it? AppleInsider now claims that Apple's planned a desktop-level Google Maps alternative... and why not?

Listening to ''Suicide Blonde'', by INXS (Play Count: 7)

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Screenshots Leaked?

It's a past-time for Apple Mac OS fans to gain early access to screenshots of new builds or photography of as-of-yet unreleased products. While Apple was notorious for leaking future data only a decade ago, ever since Steve Jobs' return to the helm, getting leakage is amazingly difficult, and the details on Leopard (Version 10.5) have been remarkably slim.

Today, two measly screenshots found on the Web have created a stir, showing: Dual Boot Windows, Desktop Switching, Native running of Internet Explorer (Windows App), Tabs in Finder - like Safari, and a New AddressBook with a date (Merged with iCal?)

The source is a random blog, but the screenshots look good.

Picture 1 Picture 2

Listening to ''What Else Is There?'', by Röyksopp (Play Count: 4)

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Apple Benefiting from iPod Sweatshops?

In a story which brings up the images of Nike's sweatshop factories, MacWorld is echoing a Sunday piece in the UK's "Mail on Sunday" that says Apple has employed the help of roughly 200,000 low-paid female workers in China to build iPods, where they work 15 hour days and earn as much as $50 a month. In Shanghai, workers can earn up to $75 a month making iPod Shuffles, and spend half their wages on subsistence food and accommodations, provided by their employer. As the story says, "Low wages, long hours and China's industrial secrecy make the country attractive to business, particularly as increased competition and consumer expectations force companies to deliver products at attractive prices."

More: "MacWorld: Inside Apple's iPod Factories"

Listening to ''Eden (Vinyl Version)'', by Purple Haze (Play Count: 1)

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Geeky Marriage Proposals

No... not involving me. I actually did it in a somewhat traditional manner, which may surprise you.

But while I may turn up my nose at people who attend sporting events like San Jose Sharks and Oakland A's games, only to propose via the JumboTron, with SJ Sharkie as the officiant, it turns out there are even more impersonal ways to ask that special someone to spend their life with you. Apparently, in the first day the Apple Store in SOHO New York was opened, there were not just one, but two, separate marriage proposals from uber-Apple geeks to the loves of their life. (No, not Steve Jobs...) And so far as we know, at least one of these young ladies said yes!

One of the engagements was proposed by a man who was #8 overall in line, waiting all night for the Apple Store to open. While the store itself is interesting, and may be a tourist stop the next time I'm in New York, I don't know that your future partner would want to recall that once in a lifetime opportunity with being up all night in the cold next to complete strangers. That's not right. And even more impersonally, one entrepreneur chose to propose via flashcards to Apple's Webcam covering the store opening.

What is this world coming to?

The best (in my opinion) marriage proposal in utter geekdom was pulled off by Rob Malda of Slashdot, when he proposed to his girlfriend via the well-read site on Valentine's Day. Her response, fifteen minutes later? "Yes, Dork. You made me cry. :)"

I guess in a world of drive-thru wedding chapels and chat rooms, these make sense, but I would hope that someone's loyalties, especially in family, could vault the digital divide - leaving behind the love of Apple or Google or Linux or what have you for something new and challenging in a different way. She will speak analog.

Listening to ''After Love (New Short Cut)'', by Piet Blank & Jaspa Jones (Play Count: 3)

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Monday, May 1, 2006

New Apple Commercials Tout the Mac

Apple has grown dramatically in recent years, primarily on the back of the iPod, but more quietly, they've continued to advance their Mac OS X operating system, and develop new hardware - recently moving to Intel processors, and even introducing the ability to run Windows on their MacIntel lines - should you want to. But while this has happened, Apple has not been very vocal about promoting the Macintosh - which at times has driven the Mac faithful nutty, as they've called for the Cupertino-based company to turn up the heat on Windows, especially as Microsoft continues to struggle with advancing to their next-generation operating system, Vista.

Today, those calls were answered, when Apple debuted a series of commercials with the theme of "Get a Mac", all of which can be found on the company's Web site at: http://www.apple.com/getamac/. The ads feature the same white background seen in their "Switch" campaign of a few years back, and highlight two actors - one, a stiff businessman who represents a PC, and the other, a hip young guy, who is the Mac. While slightly amusing at best, the commercials don't come out and grab you the way the iPod series has, and they sniff of the superiority complex some detractors assign to Macintosh users. I don't know how well they are going to play to business folks at all, or anybody over 30 who can't identify with a goatee wearing hipster.

To see for yourself, go to any of the ads. Viruses | Restarting | Better | iLife | Network | WSJ

Listening to ''The Silence'', by Sasha & John Digweed (Play Count: 2)

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

All Is Right With the World

After a week away from home in Las Vegas, I flew back in to San Jose yesterday afternoon, to find most things as I had left them. One thing that did make progress while I was out was the work on my previously-distressed laptop. Having dropped it off at the Apple Store last Saturday, the machine traveled further than I had, going to Texas for repair, before making its way back. So, despite having been up late the previous night, waiting for union workers until past 3:30 a.m. to return our equipment, I made my way back down to the Apple Store and retrieved the PowerBook - which is now happy again, accepting power and chugging away. Best of all, they didn't erase the hard drive, so no changes were needed.

Life can now carry on as planned.

Listening to ''Live @ DI.fm 2005-11-11'', by DJ Irish (Play Count: 2)

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Technical Difficulties

You know something's wrong when you're cheering the computer being at 39% power capacity, and the fact that I don't have to hold my finger on the power cord for a full three consecutive minutes while the thing's actually on, but here we are.

(It just started blinking again - 39%... 38%... grr...)

After a few months of this, including new Apple power adapters and third party gear, we haven't seen a solution, so we're scheduled for a visit to the Apple Store Genius Bar at Valley Fair at 8:40 tonight to look into it. While I dream it's just a need for a new battery, that's probably not going to be my luck, and I'm concerned they may want to take a look at it, inflicted four-digit damages, or worse, make me get a new one... which would be infuriating. So, in advance, I've backed up everything to the iPod, and hope that's overdoing it.

If they take machine away, louisgray.com could go dark, and there'd be no ANtics tomorrow. In advance, I blame Al Quaeda.

Listening to ''Father's Field'', by Traci Lords (Play Count: 8)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fry's Giving Up on Mac Shoppers

Before Apple opened up their much-acclaimed retail stores, there were precious few places you could go to find Macintosh software and hardware. CompUSA, Best Buy, Sears and Fry's were all notorious for steering potential Macintosh customers to Windows devices, leaving machines in permanent crash mode, and generally being completely clueless.

But Apple came to the rescue opening what was known as a "Store Within a Store" at both CompUSA and Fry's, to enhance the customer experience - even staffing the facilities, in some cases. After a while, it was clear Apple was just "practicing" for their move to retail - and customers have found the Apple Store experience far superior to any other merchant. And now, it looks like competing stores aren't putting in the effort they had in recent years, in the face of competition.

Just today, I went to Fry's here in Sunnyvale, looking to see if I could get a backup PowerBook battery. Not only was it nowhere to be found, but the Apple "store within a store" featured such "Mac products" as PocketPC handhelds and USB memory sticks - which have taken over a full aisle in the Mac section of the superstore. I looked up and down neighboring aisles to see if I missed something, but I didn't. They didn't have any thing for me to buy, and didn't make any efforts to gain my business. Now I know just to go straight to the Apple Store itself - which probably will make the situation worse.

Listening to ''Free'', by 4 Strings featuring Sphere (Play Count: 9)

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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Apple Does Windows - Seriously

Many in the media were breathlessly awaiting any kind of announcement from Apple on the company's 30th anniversary this last April 1st, and when that date came and went without a peep from Cupertino, some were highly disappointed - though the only people not talking up any news were those who would issue it themselves. Earlier this morning, Apple broke their silence with a product called Boot Camp which enables Intel Macs to boot into Windows XP or Mac OS X with a simple restart.

While this isn't the virtual OS layer many were hoping for, which may be soon to follow, the option to boot Mac OS X or Windows XP on a single Apple computer is very intriguing, and dramatically expands the market for the company. Now, when it comes to the purveyors of limitations, it's Dell, HP and others who come to mind, who limit their customers to Redmond-approved environments only, while Apple gives you both. Now, people like me don't have to carry two laptops through airport x-ray machines on business trips, and corporations can feel better about providing those who prefer Macintosh with Apple products - knowing they can still run any Windows-only software that may be needed.

One side benefit of the announcement was that Apple stock (AAPL) jumped nearly 10 percent on the news, after weeks of slow descent. That helped my portfolio immensely, so I'm pleased. In fact, today's profit from Apple alone is enough to get a new iMac or Mac Mini with Intel inside. Dare me to give it a shot? I personally think I'll wait for the second revision of the MacBook Pro, Windows or not.

Listening to ''heavenly'', by Mystre and Dyloot (Play Count: 4)

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Still Unhappy With Laptop Power Issues

While it's definitely true that I've been away from the computer while working at this event, the blog has become even quieter than usual thanks to continued power issues on the laptop. Today I awoke to find the PowerBook completely out of juice at zero percent, and the power adapter I brought was doing no good at all. I'm sure it's probably an issue with the laptop now, as even after replacing the much-hated power adapters from Apple, we're still having problems, and it's not like me to want to be all Dell all the time, and I certainly was today. Not even the basics like FireFox and iTunes are nearly as good on Windows as they are on Mac OS X.

Somehow, I tricked the power adapter to start working this evening, and in this little window of optimism, I thought I'd check into a more pleasant OS. But I'll probably have to take this into the Apple store to see if they can diagnose the problem. They'll probably tell me it's out of warranty, and that I didn't buy AppleCare. Of course not - why would I ever need that? Grrr...

Listening to ''...Passing By'', by Ulrich Schnauss (Play Count: 10)

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

iPod: Not Just Entertainment

When you think of Apple's iPod, you probably have some images in your head - the white earbuds connecting to the device, or the neon silhouette ads prominent in their commercials and billboards. You may think of "1,000 songs in your pocket", or the newly introduced iPods that play video, including TV shows from the networks and select cable shows. But for me, my iPod is boring. I get it out when I need to get work done, and when I connect it to the home laptop, my wife knows I'm focused on work from the office.

The reason for this is that ever since acquiring my first iPod (a mere 12 hours after they were announced), I've used the iPod as the go-between portable hard drive between the home computer and that of the office. The iPod functions as backup storage for the company Web site, and the primary repository for day to day tasks, and archived activity. With 60 Gigabytes available and an ultra-fast Firewire connection, it's just as good as the local disk drive, and work stays in the same state from one machine to another. While it's true that nearly 30 Gigabytes of music is stored on the iPod, as well as my address book and a small handful of personal files, it's definitely a work device.

I've grown reliant on the iPod being available, which has only caused me grief in two instances - once when I left the device at home on a day of a presentation, and zipped back home to get it, missing an hour of office productivity, and the second, much more alarming, incident, when I left a previous iPod, with 20 Gigabytes of data on it, in the seat cover of a flight from Chicago to Baltimore. While I had done periodic backups of the data, it's sure that some data was irrecoverably lost, and whoever took the seat on the flight immediately following had a nice surprise in store - and they certainly weren't interested in letting me know they found it, for after repeated calls to the BWI airport, none was ever reported found. I ended up having to purchase the latest iPod the following weekend from the Apple store and started the arduous tasks of restoring the data from backups, e-mail attachments and whatever I could find - and have been much more diligent about backing up since.

Because I think of the device as my work iPod, it's plugged into the computer at the office first thing every morning Monday through Friday, rendering all its stored music unavailable to me. I've even considered getting a second iPod, a smaller one, just for listening to music at the office, without disturbing my coworkers. Truth is I don't know if I could do that, and still look professional enough while getting everything I need to done, so that idea hasn't manifested itself, but it may some time. It also would seem funny to lug in two iPods to go with the two computers I've already got in the cubicle (one Mac and one Dell), making things just a bit crowded.

My iPod is essential, but not for what most people think. It's a serious work device. A portable hard drive, backup device and yes, it does fit in my pocket.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mac vs. PC Price War: System Shootouts

Ever since Apple's introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, the company's computers have been accepted as being "more expensive" than their Windows/Intel counterparts. While at times that may have been true, Apple's move to Intel, as well as the introduction of the Mac Mini, have introduced new, lower price-points to bring the systems in line with Windows competition, and the company's success with the iPod music player has brought the Apple experience to a swath of new customers who wouldn't otherwise have considered the Macintosh.

That's all well and good, you say? Well, lucky for us, others have done the hard work of comparing like systems between the Macintosh world and the Windows world, feature by feature and part by part - putting the systems in easy to understand buckets, such as midrange laptops and desktops. By far the best and most consistent offering is Charles Gaba's "Mac vs. PC System Shootouts". It's worth taking a look at System Shootouts before you make a decision on your next computer. Make sure you know what you need, and what your budget is, and the site will find a solution that meets your requirements. Apple doesn't always win, but you'd be surprised how often it does.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Stereo Types

Apple's big day came and went yesterday, and after all the hype and speculation, they introduced a few anticipated items - the iPod Hi-Fi, effectively an Apple-designed stereo that interoperates with iPod, a souped up Mac Mini with Intel at the core, and oddly enough, a $99 leather case for the iPod, with even fewer options than much cheaper alternatives from third party vendors. Across the blogosphere, and in the analyst and media community came a resounding, "that was it?"

It's amusing to see the transition of the Apple faithful's antics to the mainstream. For those who often frequent AppleInsider or Think Secret, hoping for the latest rumor morsels to spill out of Cupertino, what's actually presented never measures up to expectations, and Apple fans always leave wanting more, and begin speculation anew for new dates to match their hoped releases. It's always been this way, and anybody watching Apple knows that Apple's stock always goes down on the day of announcements - in a cycle best known as "buy on the rumor, sell on the news". Yesterday, of course, was no different.

Examining the iPod Hi-Fi as a potential consumer - and I have to take that role with every announcement, I'm not very impressed. The iPod Hi-Fi is a very clean stereo system for integrating with the iPod, but that's where it begins and ends. As mentioned earlier on this site, I picked up the iHome iH5 for Christmas this last year, and not only does it already do everything Apple's new iPod Hi-Fi does, but it also features an alarm clock and AM/FM radio. If I were really expected to get rid of my home stereo as Steve Jobs suggested yesterday, then where is my solution for listening to A's baseball games on AM radio? Is he anticipating that as I have all my music at my fingertips, I may never need AM/FM again? Is it expected that I will instead resort to streaming radio online - beamed to the iPod Hi-Fi through my Airport Express, or simultaneously run the iPod Hi-Fi with Apple's $49 FM tuner for the iPod? It's not going to happen. I'm not so silly as to demand a cassette deck or CD changer - for iPod covers that, but if I'm expected to toss out my 50-disc CD changer with Dual cassette, clock and AM/FM radio in exchange for the iPod Hi-Fi, there's a lot more left to include.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Apple Speculation

In the late 1990's, when Apple was "beleaguered" and people were more concerned with how many layoffs they would have or how much money they were set to lose each quarter, there was a small contingent of "Mac faithful" who lived and died with every MacWorld Expo keynote, Apple earnings call, and in the old days, Seybold conference, where Apple leveraged its strong roots in publishing to launch the latest in Mac hardware or OS tools. But we (yes, I was one of them) were considered the lunatic fringe, the exception to the rule.

Now, with Apple having been rebirthed through a string of successes, started with the original Bondi Blue iMac in 1998, the introduction of Mac OS X in 2001, the overwhelming domination of the iPod and iTunes Music Store, and Apple's adoption of Intel chips, the number following Apple's announcements has grown dramatically. Mainstream tech sites openly speculate on what Steve Jobs and crew will uncover, and technology blogs are holding contests to mock up images in great anticipation of tomorrow's planned unveilings. Apple hasn't said anything publicly, but invited select media to attend a special event Tuesday morning for "some new fun products". Speculation has run rampant, from an iTunes Video Store, offering full-length feature films, to a new iPod HiFi Boombox, and new hardware - from a consumer MacBook (replacing the iBook) and a Mac Media Center, based on today's Mac Mini.

This speculation comes on the heels of the weekend rumor that Apple was considering a purchase of Disney, with Steve Jobs already owning 7% of the company, following their acquisition of Pixar. In fact, my post on this from Saturday was mentioned on one of Apple's more consistent rumor sites - "The Unofficial Apple Weblog" or TUAW, for short. In their short article, they said, "Blogger Louis Gray thinks it can only happen in  "a business reporter's dream." He argues that the financials don't add up and worries that taking over Disney would quash the possibility of Apple offering shows from competitors like NBC or Viacom/MTV on iTunes."

Funny, and I thought nobody was paying attention - given the lack of comments on the site.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Barron's: Apple Could Buy Disney?

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the business trades have anything resembling sources or financial acumen to provide real insight or scoops. This week, Barron's is suggesting that with Steve Jobs on board as the number one shareholder of Disney (DIS), following Pixar's acquisition, that Disney is ripe for the plucking for an acquisition by Apple (AAPL). Yes, you read that right. The article says that Disney is horribly undervalued, and that Jobs would take the opportunity to "take it out".

Anybody who's followed the world of Apple rumors for longer than say, since the iPod was introduced, can remember this rumor du jour being floated, but in the opposite direction. If it wasn't Disney buying Apple, or Sun (SUNW) buying Apple, it was Larry Ellison (ORCL) buying Apple, or in Michael Dell's (DELL) fantasy world, that Apple would shut down and give their money to the shareholders. Now that the Pixar deal is consummated, people are chomping at the bit for the next big move.

But look at the numbers. Apple has a $60 billion market cap, and Disney's is over $50 billion. Apple's cash on hand is in the $10 billion range. And does Apple really want to own ESPN and ABC and Disneyland, Disney World and the whole bit? Wouldn't Apple prefer to continue dominating the technology space in innovation, and leave media monopolies alone? Wouldn't a Disney acquisition eliminate the possibility of working with NBC's shows on iTunes, or working with Viacom/MTV? It would seem the conflicts and competition would outweigh a purchase of Disney - Pixar or not.

Steve Jobs has surprised us before. Apple's acquisition of Next resulted in Jobs' triumphant return to lead Apple to unforeseen new heights, but an acquisition of Disney? Only in a business reporter's dream world!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

iTunes to Hit 1 Billion Song Mark Tonight

Apple is on quite a roll with their iPod/iTunes music combo, which has propelled the once "beleaguered" computer company to the forefront of the technology leadership curve. In fact, at one point last month, only a few years removed from Michael Dell's catty comment that he would close Apple and divide up the take among the shareholders, Apple's (AAPL) market capitalization eclipsed that of Dell (DELL) itself. Though the stock has gone down a bit since then, the company's momentum has not.

Now, three years into the iTunes Music Store launch, Apple is on the verge of selling its one billionth song. The company announced a plethora of gifts to loyal music store customers, offering a free iPod Nano and gift card for each song sold at a multiple of 100,000 and is ramping up for the big prize -- whoever purchases the 1 billionth song will receive a new 20-inch iMac, 10 60 Gigabyte iPods, and a whopping $10,000 to spend at the iTunes Music Store for any media. I can't even think how I could spend $2,000, but I'm sure I'd find a way, given the challenge.

According to my iTunes library, my "purchased" collection from the iTunes Music Store numbers just under 1,000, at 982, since my first song purchase on April 28, 2003. I purchased 25 songs that day, ranging from R.E.M. and U2 to Traci Lords and DJ Encore. The iTunes Music Store has grown up in a big way since, offering a much greater set of music to choose from. The company's consistent pricing also throws a wrench into any of the retail stores who might otherwise get my money, and I've practically eliminated my spending on Amazon.com since the iTunes Music Store's introduction.

In the next hour, Apple will most likely hit 1 billion, and I'll try to win the big prize. If I do win, you'll be sure to know.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NBC "Conviction" Pilot Free on iTunes Before it Airs

Dick Wolf, the producer behind the mega-hits Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent is back at it again with yet another courtroom drama, called Conviction. This drama has been said to focus more on the characters than on the cases, in a significant change from the traditional L&O series we've known for more than a decade.

NBC is getting behind the show in a big way - offering heavy promotions through the Olympics, and in what's a world first, that I know of, the show's pilot is available for download on iTunes before it airs on TV.

You can get it now: Conviction Pilot: Free

The download weighs in over 200 MB, but the price is right, and it just may be a good show after all, one to add to the TiVo season pass roster, should it rival the originals in quality. The show is set to debut on Friday, March 3rd on your boring old television.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Not Moving to Mac Intel Right Away

I have a long, sometimes painful, history of being an early technology adopter. I was using the first VisorPhone adapters with Handspring years before they introduced the Treo line of hybrid smartphones, purchased an iPod less than 12 hours after Steve Jobs introduced them, upgraded to Mac OS X Public Beta before it was available to the mass market, and was using Netscape Navigator before it was a 1.0 release.

With all that said, people expect I'd be first in line to snap up an Intel-Powered iMac or MacBook Pro. After all, didn't Steve Jobs say the new laptops, powered by Intel were 3 to 4 times as fast as the old model? Doesn't that make my 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4 seem like a dinosaur in comparison? Surprisingly, no. I'm perfectly happy with my laptop, power adapter issues aside. The PowerBook has 1 GB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, and is plenty fast for whatever I need to do. Also, we understand the issues with benchmarks. Vendors can run a suite of tests and announce those where they play the best. Reviews have come out saying that the new MacBook Pro is not in fact 3 to 4 times faster, and may be slower in some cases for particular activity. Besides, how fast does it need to be to read e-mail, write in Microsoft Word and surf the Web? At that point, the limiting factor with speed is your broadband connection, not the CPU.

So - add it up. You have a lack of demand, and not enough compelling reasons to take a gamble on what so far is an unproven architecture. I expect that version 1.5 and version 2.0 of the MacBook Pro will add additional speed and functionality unavailable in this first version. In fact, Apple announced this week that the first round will be even faster than originally announced. I don't see that as an accident. And this doesn't even take into account the migration of applications by developers of PowerPC apps to a Universal binary that runs equally fast on PowerPC and Intel architectures. I think I can wait until Adobe, Microsoft, and all the smaller developers I depend on for the apps that I use are ready.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Apple: Worst Power Adapters Out There

Apple (AAPL) makes a lot of wonderful products with great quality: their laptops, iPods, Cinema Displays and the overwhelming majority of their products work very well, have long-lasting stability and simply do things better than the alternatives in the Windows world. However, they have not impressed me with the quality of their power adapters for the iBook and PowerBook lines. The adapters easily wear out, stop charging and can bend with any kind of force - meaning we are pushed to pay the "Apple tax" and re-up for another adapter or two per year in our house, even while the laptops keep chugging along.

In 2002, when I moved from Belmont to Palo Alto, I made a choice to ditch my home desktop and purchased the first laptop I'd ever had - a G4 Titanium PowerBook from Apple. With it came the standard software package and power cable. But when I made the switch to live the laptop lifestyle, I didn't expect the cord would become such a limiting factor. I've probably purchased four or more additional power adapters from myself or my wife since moving to laptops. We recently, doing a household cleanup, must've tossed out two more dead ones. Now, we know we have two working, one each for "his and hers", and we'll see how long that lasts. But so far, we've been unimpressed.

In parallel, I've utilized a Dell (DELL) laptop from the office over the last four years, and have never had trouble with the power cords. They're definitely an ugly piece of junk, but at least they work. Apple should learn how to ruggedize their cords - it's one place where function always wins out over form.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

South Park, Beavis & Butthead Added to iTunes

Going back to entertainment that all of us like, but a smaller percentage will actually admit to... Apple's iTunes Video store now features the entire first and second seasons for both South Park and Beavis and Butthead - two very funny shows, especially when they first launched, though South Park has definitely earned a higher level of staying power over time.

Let the dumbing down of America continue... but good for Apple. Yet another guaranteed revenue stream, and even more excuses to push us into eventually upgrading to a video iPod. Just like when they first debuted the iTunes Music Store, the video store's initial pickings were slim indeed, but as they continue to add more mainstream entertainment (and these are definitely mainstream), sales will follow.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

MacWorld Keynote

I haven't yet seen the MacWorld Webcast, but as with every year, there were some surprises, and some rumors went wholly unfulfilled. iWeb - a new software tool to manage Web pages and blogs, was introduced as part of iLife 2006, which was no surprise, and Intel made its way into Macs for the first time - again not a surprise. But while those came through, there were expectations for new iPod shuffles (didn't happen) and the introduction of an Apple line of plasma TVs. That too was nowhere to be seen.

While the new "MacBook Pro" (who names these things?) is interesting, one must note it is the first iteration, and things will only get faster from here. I've had just about enough of being User 1.0.

Now on to fulfill my geekly duty and watch the webcast.

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Monday, January 9, 2006

Apple Adds SNL Skits to iTunes



Ahead of the MacWorld Expo keynote set for later this morning, Apple posted Saturday Night Live content on iTunes for $1.99 per download, and collections for $9.99 - similar to their pricing of music albums.

The first sketch, issued freely a few weeks ago, "Lazy Sunday", was outstanding.

Saturday Night Live on iTunes

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Macworld Expo Eve 2006

Every year, just before MacWorld Expo, I swear I'm going to finally go again, and I haven't made it back. In 2001, a friend and I made it to San Francisco and saw Steve Jobs introduce iTunes (formerly SoundJam) and the Titanium PowerBook.

But I haven't made excuses. Work seems to get in the way every year.

This year I'll be back at the office, and assuredly, watching the streaming Web archive the next night on QuickTime, reliving the ecstasy, and trying to convince myself that I really don't need any of those products that look oh-so tempting.

The rumors aren't as thick this year as others. Intel iBooks and Mac Minis. PVR software to replace Tivo. Apple Plasma TVs. But only from a few sources, and some aren't even trying. Check back tomorrow and see what's happened.

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