AMITIAE - Friday 7 December 2012
Cassandra - Friday Review - The Weekend Arrives
By Graham K. Rogers
Opening Gambit:Dave Brubeck RIP. Apple share prices, speculation and the analysts' muddled thinking. Rumour time: iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone Lite. Apple to invest $100 million in US production of Macs: Cook interviews with NBC and Bloomberg. Comment on the folding of The Daily. Updates: OS X (coming), iWork and iTunes. A couple of interesting hints. Patent trial news. Another definite Nay vote for the Surface. John McAfee arrested in Guatemala. IBM program to help students and technology professionals prepare for jobs of the future.
Dave BrubeckIt is not often that I slip in something not from the world of Apple or interesting associated news, but the death of Jazz pianist, Dave Brubeck this week, at the age of 92, minus 1 day, is especially sad. A great article on his passing and on his influences, by David A. Graham in The Atlantic is well worth a look at, not the least for the links to a Miles Davis track and Brubeck's own Someday My Prince Will Come. For right or for wrong, he will always be associated with Take 5, itself a shift in music composition. He and his musicians played this at the launch of Microsoft DOS 5 -- almost the last Redmond product I bought. But I have bought Brubeck records and continue to enjoy them.
Gangnam style? Gimme a break.
Apple StuffOne of the biggest news items in Apple land the middle of this week was the massive fall in the share price experienced on Wednesday: apparently the largest drop ever. Several sources reported on this including MacNN. To me this signifies little more that panic when many have bought Apple shares to follow trends and also tells me that few actually understand what Apple is. I wish they would buy all the shares back and be done with the stock market as it only injects confusion into the equation.
On his second point, where he explains how "the 50-day sma passes below the 200-day sma" I just glazed over. This is apparently the Simple Moving Average (I did bother to look it up): the average stock price over a certain period of time. So by a matter of mathematical jiggery-pokery, a company that is seeing record sales of its products is doomed by the corporate investors. See, no wonder I think Apple should withdraw from the stock exchange.
On the third point he is forgiving as this is also a mechanism of the stocks and shares adjustment processes that work because of speculation (more guesses); and then we have this Fiscal Cliff stuff again, which may explain why some of the Apple execs sold shares recently: to make sure they were not lumbered with massive tax bills: hardly Apple's fault.
And to conclude, he sees this as a buying opportunity. Hooray: up they go again, until the next disaster pulled out of the hat by analysts, who may have other broths to brew.
Talking of which, another commentator on Seeking Alpha, Paulo Santos seems to come up with a slightly different set of reasons for the fall in share price this week, although his does make more sense to me by virtue of its simplicity: the earlier speculation has brought about volatility. He concludes, "Once this temporary excessive-sentiment related phenomenon is over, Apple will be able to go back to reflecting its own fundamental prospects, namely those affecting the iPhone 5 and the iPad."
So it is not just what goes up must come down, but there is a see-saw effect in play too, with the downs often triggered by minor events and led by computerised, automatic sell-offs.
And to put it all in a slightly better context it was reported this week by Sam Oliver on AppleInsider, as well as several other sources, that a former trader was charged in a wire fraud case involving $1 billion in Apple stock. He was asked to buy 1,625 shares, but made a gamble and bought 1.625 million; and then Apple stock dropped.
It is all connected to those data centers that Apple has, for example in North Carolina where, Electronista reports, Apple is about to double the ca[acity of the fuel cells, to 10 megawatts of power production, making it the largest installation of fuel cell technology not run by an electric utility.
To start with (without shooting the messenger) Neil Hughes on AppleInsider reports on the comments of Barclays analyst, Ben A. Reitzes, speculates that Apple will produce a low-end iPhone to hook customers, which shows how little he knows about Apple: note to Barclays, put this man on lite duties, more suited to his imagination.
Now that the iPad had a half-point update, there is speculation that the iPhone itself could see the same sort of evolution, which would not go down well in some quarters. Electronista carries a report that claims to include photographs of the iPhone 5S which has some subtle changes to it, particularly the back.
MacWorld has the same pictures, but David Price is not sure if this is the iPhone 5S or the iPhone 6, but does add, "Sorry about the watermarks and straw-clutching rumourmongering". Or maybe something under development for next year? No point asking Apple of course.
It seems that the excitement is due to the perceived change in the position of screw holes in the backplate.
The full Bloomberg interview is also available online.
The information about the production of Macs in the US also appeared in the TV interview that Cook did with Brian Williams on NBC (I wonder if we shall see that here), Ronnie Polidoro reports on RockCenter (NBC News). There is a 2:23 section of the interview on that page in which Cook talks about the US manufacture of Macs and Apple components, giving a very diplomatic answer about the skill sets that have been lost. Cook also makes the point that many commentators ought to take on board (but so far have not) that Steve Jobs told him to never ask the question, "What would Steve have done?"
That was only a small section of the full interview as Neil Hughes reports on AppleInsider that Cook also hinted a little about the TV system that Apple has been rumoured to have been working on for a while.
In a later report on the interview, from Jacqui Cheng on Ars Technica, we were told that among the subjects that were discussed was the ouster of Scott Forestall: Cook apparently made "a carefully even-handed comment about the value of collaboration at Apple." Now I really do want to see this TV interview, or at least a transcript.
If not the Mac Pro, what else? The Mac mini is not a contender in my view as the size makes it a good candidate for transportation; while the iMac is possible, especially as there have already been a few of these seen with a MAde in America label. With the all in one motherboard, the glass made in Kentucky and other components more easy to handle, this could work. But then there are those MacBook Pro computers that often have some newer technology inside that Apple would prefer to keep quiet. . . .
While on updates to OS X, Steve Sande reports on a survey done by a company called Net Applications that looks at operating system and browser adoption rates by checking stats. It was found that "Apple's OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion) and 10.8 (Mountain Lion) have been adopted by Mac users at a rate about three times that of Windows 7. And Windows 8 is apparently way behind that (as long as you don't ask Ballmer).
One of the early reports I saw was from MacNN which explains about some of the changes, most notably, improved compatibility with Microsoft Office. I am not sure how that works as my students cannot even get their work printed properly when going from one PC to another using different versions of Word. If Pages did that there would be uproar. The article also details several of the changes to the component parts of iWork.
Also looking at the Office compatibility comments is Jacqui Cheng on Ars Technica, who notes that "Pages can now perform Word-compatible Track Changes," as well as details on some of the changes to Numbers and Keynote.
Also on OS X Daily is an item from William Pearson that gives readers 9 command line tricks that users should know. I am not sure that this is what everyone will want, but there are some useful commands in there.
Half and HalfWith all the mixed signals coming out of patent trials, the Federal Trace Commission has made its position clear with a filing to the court that Motorola Mobility should not be allowed to stop the sale of Apple products that may be infringing on FRAND patents, Electronista reports. This complements the view held by others.
Also on patents, the recent settlement between HTC and Apple has been made public, except for a couple of rather important parts. Details of pricing and royalty rates for patents from both companies are to be kept under wraps from public view, Steven Musil reports.
And it is reported by Josh Lowensohn that Apple and Samsung are back to court this week: Damages, sales bans and a possible retrial are all on the card.
Other MattersThere have been a number of comments on the Microsoft Surface since the initial euphoria (all somewhat dishonest when one looks back) which have not been positive. Geoffrey James on INC. is another who is looking in a negative light at the device, which he says is doomed. He is advising businesses who are thinking about purchasing one or more, "Don't", and outlines several areas in which it has definite shortcomings. My original link for this was MacDaily News.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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