AMITIAE - Thursday 21 August 2014
Cassandra: Completing the Circle - Apple and Product Releases (Amended)
By Graham K. Rogers
A side-effect of this is the confusion of the Wall Street analysts who have predicted low sales and forced the share prices down, only to find that real people buy the things.
When announced, it kept the same basic shape as its immediate predecessor, which was a mistake in the eyes of many who sort of missed the A7 processor. That was the first 64-bit processor for mobile phones, which most experts in the industry suggested did tick the "innovation" box on the scorecard.
A part of the chip's internal design was a secure enclave which held mathematical data for fingerprints scanned by the sensor, itself covered with sapphire. For a wide-ranging discussion of the iPhone 5s and its technical abilities, see the multi-part article by Anand Lal Shimpi on AnandTech: "seriously impressive."
When the A-series processors first appeared, I commented on the possibilities for future development - dreaming then of desktop class chips - particularly as any features integrated into the design, would be unavailable to other manufacturers (at least for a few months). They would also only work on Apple devices and the software they supported. A case in point is the 64-bit capability: only now, almost 12 months after the iPhone 5s arrived, is another chip maker preparing such a processor.
While the speed of the A7 at around 1.29 GHz is approaching that needed for a small computer (the basic MacBook Air uses a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5), Jean-Louis Gassée, who earlier thought that a move to desktops was unlikely, appears to have changed his tune. He now thinks that such a move for the A-series processors is more likely, but will not be before the (theoretical) A10, even though predictions for the A8 are for a processor capable of 2 GHz speeds. Gassée's arguments are centred more around cost (from Intel and economy for Apple).
Despite the arrival of the Haswell series, they are still based on desktop class hardware going back to the early 1980s. And he adds that updates to the current MacBook Pro range are delayed because Intel cannot produce the new Broadwell owing to technical difficulties.
The probable source for the ideas behind such a device as a TV made by Apple, came from a comment made by Steve Jobs, and reported in the Walter Isaacson biography, that he had cracked it. As with the iPad, the importance is not so much the device itself - even though Apple is a hardware company - but content availability.
To view these, users need the Apple TV - that little black box that, in my home, sits nicely just behind the TV screen and connects to the world via WiFi. Although the number of channels I have available (in Thailand) is considerably limited - it will take a while for inwardly-looking local media to catch on to the possibilities - that WiFi link is another strand to Apple's strategy: integration of devices within the home and office.
I made a mistake last year, when the 802.11ac router was announced by speculating that all Macs and iOS devices would be able to connect at the higher speeds 802.11ac allows.
While new Macs come with the enhanced WiFi connectivity, 802.11ac is not yet available for iOS devices, a point that surprised Anand Lal Shimpi too in his iPhone 5s review. The Apple TV also only has the earlier 802.11n standard available: reasonable enough nonetheless.
The sense is that there may be a wearable device under development, but the idea of a watch per se is too limiting. There is already a large watch-making industry (and has been for centuries), that contracted after the introduction of the digital watch, but still survives. There are too many companies making such watches - analog and digital - for there to be the sort of space Apple would need for any major success. Anything less than a major success would have the critics baying.
While the rumours of the iWatch have mellowed to "wearable device", helped by health apps that are to be included in iOS 8, and by the withdrawal of Nike from the market, despite its comparative success with the FuelBand, many critics will not let go of the iWatch name.
Predictions that it was to be released in September of this year (it was predicted for September last year too), now seem to be wrong as several sources, including Juli Clover on MacRumors have reported this week that "Apple may be planning to delay the launch of its iWatch until 2015," which presumes that Apple has such a device and that it is to be called iWatch, of course. Note that the original source for this rumour KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been wrong several times in the past.
Apart from ethics problems in the Thai agency, Apple sent two representatives from Singapore on the morning plane to make enquiries and it was stated that, just because a local official called it an iPhone 6, did not mean Apple was going to use that. On return to Singapore, they were to report to Cupertino who may not be sending any officials in Thailand Xmas cards this year.
There may well be new iPads released around the same time. Whether there will be other hardware, is guesswork: the iMac could do with a refresh, as could the MacBook Pro (see comments above about Broadwell delays). The Mac mini likewise has a due-by date and revisions to that have been expected for a while, some even suggesting a redesign on the lines of the impressive Mac Pro.
As regards the iPhone release, many sources favour 9 September because one source was positive that Apple had set this date for a media event. This is nothing more than a rumour, despite the number of times that it has been repeated (and reprinted): as yet, no invitations have been sent by Apple for any such event.
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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.
For further information, e-mail to