AMITIAE - Tuesday 3 September 2013
Cassandra: Apple and Tectonic Shifts (Updated with a useful link to Macalope comments; and the Apple Announcement)
By Graham K. Rogers
With Ballmer only recently having announced that he was to retire, the timing seems a little more than coincidental. My speculation was pretty much on the ball as Brian Heater of Engadget reports that Ballmer too has suggested that Elop has now moved from an external candidate to an internal candidate. News reports suggest that, Elop appears to be an extremely hot candidate. Ladbrokes have him now at odds of 2/5 (Sheryl Sandberg, 7/1; Steve Sinofsky, 12/1).
But what will the outcome be? Nokia shares went up, Microsoft shares went down, and a Tweet made by a local user claimed that the BBC referred to this marriage as "two drunks propping themselves up." I am unable to find that reference on the BBC site, but it seems a fairly apt opinion.
One nice feature is that it runs inn the background and can "give itself more permissions without the user's consent". It apparently "has its own silent, automatic update mechanism that the user has no control over. In fact, most of the time the user never even knows an update has happened."
With all the criticism levelled at Apple's closed garden the iOS approach now seems somewhat more attractive, especially when the keeper of the Android estate appears to have the keys to all the houses.
In the last few months, there has been considerable speculation concerning Apple's next smartphone. Much print has been wasted on the name, with the favorite being the iPhone 5S. There is also a suggestion that there may be another version: the iPhone 5C. Some think that this is to be a cheaper version, although "cheap" is not the normal Apple approach.
On the other hand, the largest market that Apple is interested in, is China. It would not be beyond the bounds of possibility for Cupertino to produce a special phone for the Chinese market, which has special requirements. Gold, of course, is particularly favoured in China, as is red (luck). White (dry and withering) or black (cold and dormant) have a different significance.
It may be safe to assume that the processor will be updated and it is no stretch of the imagination to suggest that this will make it faster. Previously, the camera and its features have usually been improved, so a 12 MP camera could be on the cards.
The problem with the S update (to Phone 5S) is that many critics only look on the surface (no pun intended). Actually, while I am on the Surface, do you notice how everyone raved about that, and the Galaxy (and other stuff), while every time Apple releases a product there are howls of derision. But it is the Apple product that sells: no near-$1 billion write-offs at Cupertino.
When the iPhone 4S was announced, it was greeted as if it were some kind of dud, despite the considerable improvements in the specifications, the antenna configuration and the software that appeared at the same time. Critics looked at the iPhone 4S and only saw the iPhone 4. Expect more of the same with even allegedly faithfull followers of Apple, like Gene Munster, pronouncing it dead in the water before it is out. That sounds like an analyst whom one should not follow closely, unless it is in the vein of Steve Ballmer's friend, Rob Enderle.
Update: See also the Macalope on comments about the failure of iOS 7 beta.
Fridays (20 September) are good days to open the doors to software updates as well as new hardware, so users might be looking for the update to iOS 7 around that time. Not all features will be available on the older phones as this is aimed at the newest model, whatever it may be. However, a number of the known features will also interact with new features announced for OS X 10.9, Mavericks.
When OS X is to be updated is not wholly clear, but as well as the new versions of iBooks and Maps for Macs, there is rumoured to be an update to iPhoto. Some users are keeping their fingers crossed - with the number of other software updates coming - for a new version of Aperture. There are some long-standing problems with this for some users. iTunes is also expected to have a refresh with the arrival of iTunes Radio at least in the USA, but other changes are bound to be made.
The MacBook Pro is a little longer in the tooth and updates are expected for this range. Haswell processors are expected which would bring some improvements in battery life and also some reshaping: making these Macs a little thinner. Some are suggesting that the 15" versions will move entirely to the Retina display, with the 13" having both display options.
As many pro users have external displays, and Mavericks will handle these better, there may still be a case for the non-Retina display to be retained for the 15" models too. For the higher end models, we could expect either flash drive as standard, or the Fusion drives (or both, as options), improving speed for those users willing to pay the higher prices. Fusion drives are not currently offered as option for the MacBook Pro.
The iMac is also at a time when an update would be possible and again, Haswell processors have been suggested as a possibility for these. With the wider market that the iMac has, there may also be a number of hard drive options. Currently a 1 TB drive is standard, but this could easily be upped.
The higher data transfer capacities are sure to be used by Apple as part of a strategy that will make full use of new synchronisation features in iOS 7 and OS X. It may also mean that we will see a new version of the Apple TV, although what form that might take is sheer speculation right now.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. 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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