AMITIAE - Thursday 23 January 2014

Cassandra: End of the Week Comment; The iTunes Wishlist

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


This has to be an end of week comment as early Friday morning I am off on a bus trip with a load of Engineering students: more on this below.

Next week will see the release of Apple's latest financial figures and reports have been seen in many sources that suggest really high sales of the iPhone and really high sales of the iPad. I thought Apple was supposed to be at death's door again. Of course, no innovation. Just living on Steve Jobs' memories.

There was of course the iPad mini that was not from Steve (although may have been started before his death); and the Mac Pro internal design along with its use of the latest standards (RAM, solid state drives, video); the use of the iBeacon while others are going for NFC; sapphire technology; industrial design and processes (not many analysts think about that, but as a long-term strategy it has flashy products beat); integration. That is just a few off the top of my head and I daresay I could find a few more if I made the effort.

With the approach of the financial results, some analysts were talking Apple down at the beginning of the year, but the rumours of sales figures of the iOS devices seems to have made them go into reverse. In full forward drive, however, is Carl Icahn who, I quoted recently as having about $1 billion of Apple shares, according to sources.

This week, we hear that his holding has increased to something like $3 billion, With the figures before, he had about 0.25% of Apple's $486.46 billion capitalization. With 3 times the investment, he has less than 0.75% as Apple's share price has increased ($551.51 as I write this) and so the market capitalization has risen accordingly. Nonetheless, like other well known billionaires, he makes a lot of fuss and insists that Apple do things his way.

I think (I hope) Tim Cook is already wise to this and with Icahn's history - see the list of damaged corporations left in his path (it was not just TWA he gutted) - it is doubtful that he is really a benefactor of Apple. The only person Carl Icahn benefits is carl Icahn, so this increase in share buyback and the payments he wants are not really anything to do with the health of Apple, but short term profits for Icahn Enterprises. Trump that if you can.

There was an update to iTunes on Thursday morning and it is now at version 11.1.4. Along with several fixes, one of the features that was supposedly improved was the Wish List. Eh? Well, AppleBitch is having trouble finding this. It is on the iTunes store page (an icon with 3 lines). When I open this I am told that I haven't added anything to my wishlist. To do that, look at an item in the iTunes store and to the right of the price is a small triangle icon. Click on that and several options are shown including the Wish List. Apps can be added as well as music and movies.

Wish list

Not surprisingly, with the iTunes Store and all those online apps and the ease with which the iPad and iPhone work, it has been recently discovered that users of iOS devices use more data than others (Electronista). Not exactly stunning is it?

A little bit more of a shock (although not if you live in Asia) is the news that some Foxconn managers - including a couple of high-ups - have been arrested for accepting bribes from iPhone parts suppliers, Cody Lee reports for iDownload. Of course, this will all be Apple's fault again.

Just to make it clear, Cody Lee is not suggesting anything about Apple at all, but it may not take long before someone, like The Register or NYTimes makes the attempt.

Just to finish comments related to the iPhone (which may see an update soon), there have been reports of random crashes with iOS 7 when the iPhone gets below 30% charge. This is apparently one of the items on Apple's fixit list according to Andrew Cunningham on Ars Technica.

I often comment on the press releases from Epson, partly because no one else here does. The news is circulated elsewhere of course, but I seem to be the only one who comments on the items in this neck of the woods. One of the essentials in modern electronics is the piezo-electric effect as used in quartz crystals and other applications for computing. There are some features of smartphones depend on the fine sensing capabilities of this technology.

Epson have a history of developments here, especially with its QMEMS technology (Quartz microelectromechanical systems) and is in a unique position as it designs and manufactures both crystal devices and the semiconductors that are needed to control the crystal units. The company has put out this week a useful sheet that explains the importance of this technology and of course, Epson's prime position.

As part of a clear out this week, I gave my excellent
olloclip lenses to a student this week. He has the iPhone 4 and I now have an iPhone 5s so the assembly does not fit. I should let him have the Glif studio mount as well. I should really replace these, although I do now have a set of Mobi-Lens attachments which fit the iPhone and iPad.

I picked these up early when I invested a small amount via the Kickstarter project (there is an app for that too). I have products from a couple more of their projects due to arrive soon. I tend to pass things on rather than try to sell them, though I did make a change one year when I had 3 of the G4 Mac mini computers and also an eMac: great devices all. I still have a router and my older MacBook Pro to go.

The student was one of all of our Senior Year Electrical Engineers who were making presentations on their projects today. Tomorrow, we have a complete change as the department takes to students away for the weekend and those taking the trip visit a couple of dams, to see the inner workings, as well as a number of other side strips. Plus the obligatory shopping of course. And food.

This year we are off to Kanchanaburi where there are a number of hydro-electrical installations as well as some beautiful countryside. I will be writing on these visits over the weekend.

And Lenovo is to buy IBM's server business? . . .

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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