AMITIAE - Monday 10 February 2014
Cassandra: Monday Review - Predicting the Impossible; Sapphire Glass; Future Products; New Haswell Chips; Sony, the PC and the Mac
By Graham K. Rogers
In the end, I suggested, we are left with the confirmation that most people in the business field just do not understand Apple, so to help, here are some keywords: user-experience, quality, design, integration, long-term and profit. Words that have lesser relevance include market share, growth, Steve Jobs.
We should add to this the Macalope's deconstruction of a Zach Epstein article (or a couple actually) on how the Galaxy S5 will outclass the iPhone 6. Epstein, for a point of reference, also wrote a gushing piece on the Surface and Windows 8 that did not actually pan out as he predicted.
On a similar theme, we had lots of reports at the time of the most recent quarterly results announcements from Apple that the iPhone 5c was a flop. Apple does not release the figures for the separate devices, so we were reading was little more than speculation, pieced together from separate reports from components suppliers and other sources. Apple was fairly satisfied with sales of 51 million iPhones in the quarter.
By way of support, Kofi Bofah on Seeking Alpha writes on the iPhone 5c and concludes that it was not a flop at all, because it did what it was intended to do and not what Wall Street thought it should do (cheap iPhone, market share, etc.).
With Apple already having brought back several $billion of shares (at a good price, which makes a lot of sense), the Icahn plan is apparently in tatters - time to walk away Carl. As well as other large shareholders like CalPERS coming out against Icahn, Reuters reports that proxy advisory firm Egan-Jones advised shareholders to reject Carl Icahn's demand about expanding the stock buyback program. The proposal will be put to a vote this month at the annual shareholders meeting [my link for this was MacDaily News].
One of those who has been examining the transition to the handheld device is Geoffrey Goetz on GigaOm. He has an article with a good many useful suggestions on how some users may make such a switch.
I must admit, I am not one who feels as if I can shift all my work to the iPad although I have been able to shift some tasks. In the event that my Macs failed, I would be able to carry on, but it would be a bit slow to begin with. Zal Bilimoria on re/code writes about the tablet computer and suggests that the passion for the devices that was so strong in the early days of the iPad, seems to be waning.
He argues that the phone is the major device and thinks that a merger of tablet and phone (what some call "phablet" ugly name, ugly concept) is the answer. He is another sure that Apple will have a larger form iPhone later in the year but (as Erica Sadun tells us - above) we will only know when (if) it happens. One of my colleagues has a larger form Samsung thing that he uses to make and take calls. I always have to suppress a smile when he does as it just looks so ridiculous to me. I do not think the iPad is done yet; nor the iPhone.
The current Mac mini has no optical disk and there are options for a hard disk or SSD; and there is also the Fusion Drive option. As almost all Macs have now moved to SSD, including the latest Mac Pro, this has to be coming for the Mac mini too, and we could also expect the Haswell processor to replace the current i7 chips.
With other manufacturers also now coming out with their box-like mini lookalikes, Lovejoy argues that the Mac mini might become even smaller. I would go with an update for sure, but the smaller size? Not sure.
On a related note, Anand Lal Shimpi of AnandTech has some useful comments on new Haswell processors that Intel is about to release at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) running from Sunday to Thursday this week. The article has a lot of information concerning processor specifications and ends with the words, "Intel's Haswell ISSCC disclosures don't really change anything about Haswell, but they do further illustrate just how impressive of a design it is."
Another hint comes in the form of a reminder about the Apple TV and syncing it using Bluetooth on the iPhone for easier use. Allyson Kazmucha explains how to do this in an item on iMore. I need to get round to that.
We have also been aware for some time that Apple has a growing interest in the use of sapphire glass. Last week Cassandra carried news of patents concerning the technologies for this material that had been granted to Apple. Now we are told by Mark Gurman on 9to5 Mac that almost 1,000 furnaces have been purchased to make this special glass. The well-researched article speculates in the title that these facilities will be for 100-200M ~5-inch iPhone displays to be produced at the GT Advanced facility in Arizona.
Needless to say - like Microsoft discovering the Internet late - many companies in Taiwan are now waking up to the existence of sapphire glass technology and in normal fashion are running round trying to buy up patents, Jack Purcher reports on Patently Apple. In the article there is a link to the patents that Apple has concerning sapphire technology and its focus on glass processes.
While we are on patents, Bryan Chaffin on The MacObserver reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has given Samsung another warning about its abuse of FRAND patents. He comments how Apple and Samsung differ, in that Cupertino usually patents design while Samsung patents technology.
Now, however, the IOC has come out and said that this is not the case at all, Electronista reports, but a rule of the Olympic Charter does actually ban athletes from mentioning non-sponsoring brands, although logos are allowed. Wave your iPhones guys, but do not say the "Apple" word. Ever noticed how so many advertisements here use MacBook Pro computers that do not have logos? Also commenting was Philip Michaels on MacWorld.
Also on Sochi, we hear that NBC reported last week that whatever went to the Games was being hacked by the Russians as soon as people were getting online. However, some later investigation discovered that the report was completely false Tim Cushing writes for TechDirt. There was a later update to this in an item from Peter Cohen on iMore in which a security researcher was cited as disputing much of the NBC report. NBC was also criticised for the way certain comments that were made against discrimination - which many people were sensitive about, particularly with the anti-gay stance from Russia - had been edited out, Huffington Post reports.
Also expected in March is an update to iOS 7 bringing it to version 7.1, according to a report from Mark Gurman on 9to5 Mac. Although he tells us that there are no special features, he does mention the chance of a special event in March. But note the coincidental release date of the next update to OS X and one wonders if there is indeed something related.
I tried a number of combinations, including a lower-case password, but there was no success. In exasperation, I tried the "forgot username" link and was taken to a series of boxes where I filled in identical information (I had reopened the original registration page). When I submitted this, I was told that no user with these details was shown in their database. No wonder former Reuters staff appear bitter. If it is this hard to get in the door, one wonders what it must be like once inside.
There were also comments on the businesses that Sony has retained, especially its handheld devices, and Brooke Crothers suggests that with the sale of the PC division it is essentially rejecting Windows. There is however the possibility that future Sony devices might use the Windows mobile OS, but that is not known at this time.
With Lenovo in the news, there was a report that Google had bought a large block of their shares, but this was an erroneous reading of a filing, according to Ina Fried on re/code.
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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