Podcast #236

Apple Making More Advances: iPhone and the Future; plus Q1 Financial reports; with rumours and news from Thailand and elsewhere

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spicy We may have one of the most interesting weeks out of Apple for a long time this week. Already we have the quarterly results and after the podcast goes out, there is likely to be -- if rumours are right -- a significant product announcement. There are also expected to be several updates to software and hardware this week. In a sort of anticipation I am looking this week at some apps that might be perfect for a tablet computer. If one were to exist, of course.

Apple Making More Advances: iPhone and the Future

I was up fairly bright and early on Tuesday morning and found the Apple figures and reports, as well as lots of comments already waiting for me so quickly put together a text for the Post.

Apple reported that revenue for the quarter was $15.68 billion with a net profit of $3.38 billion compared with $11.88 billion revenue and $2.26 billion net profit for the same quarter last year, an increase of just under 50%. Significantly 58% of the revenue was from international sales giving Apple its all-time highest revenue and profit.

iPhone Sales of Macintosh computers reached 3.36 million in the period, which was an increase of one-third over the same period the previous year, while sales of iPhones were 8.7 million. That was a growth of 100%. There was an 8% decline in the number of iPods sold to 21 million although iPod touch sales grew 55%.

Peter Oppenheimer, CFO announced that $5.8 billion of cash had been generated during the quarter and predicted that the following quarter would show revenue of about $11 billion. Apple's revenue predictions, however, are always on the conservative side. Apple now has cash reserves of $39.8 billion.

During the session, Oppenheimer also mentioned that the growth in desktop Macs had been 70% compared with the same period, while year over year sales showed an 18% growth in sales of portable computers. He mentioned certain countries during the presentation: Italy, France, Switzerland and Spain showed an increase of at least 40%; sales in Australia grew by 70%; China showed an increase of 100% in sales where as well as Mac sales some 200,000 iPhones were (officially) activated. Later he also referred to the Asia-Pacific region where sales of Macs grew by 54% and iPhones by 500% year over year. In education, sales of Macs increased by 16% in the period.

dessert In a press release, Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO said, "If you analyse our quarterly revenue, it’s surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company." In 2003, income was $5 billion annually and in the last 5 years sales of Macs have risen from just over 1 million quarterly to the current 3 million plus. Jobs added, "The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about." At the Conference call, Oppenheimer declined to comment on the new product, saying he did not want to spoil the surprise which in itself is a real tease as this sort of thing is rarely mentioned at such events.

As they said they would last quarter, the good figures were partly due to changes in the way Apple organises revenue from each sale of the iPhone. It used to be for a period of 24 months because of the iPhone's 2 year life, but now everything is added in right away. There may be another side-effect of this as adjusting revenues in this way, could mean that they no longer need to apply the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and updates to the iPod touch may no longer be charged. We will have to see about that; although if all goes to plan, we may only have a couple of days to find out.

Let's look at some rumours about this week now.

mixer Something that has been anticipated for a while -- relished even by some -- and that concerns the exclusive agreement Apple has with AT&T. I know some have been counting the days, if only to end the near monopoly and hence bring in competition, which we will have to wait for in Thailand as true still has a way to go with its protection. In all honesty, bearing in mind the shocking state of 3G here, they are not doing that bad of a job. We do hear however, that DTAC might be in the running for number two, and in the near future, rather than a long way down the road. I hope so as I should be able to use my DTAC number properly then in an iPhone. With the DTAC sim and the True iPhone there are some limitations.

But True is not AT&T who have had customer and technical problems for a while, with everyone keeping their fingers crossed that Verizon may be waiting round the corner. Maybe they are, as a story this week suggests that the exclusive agreement is to end soon, with an announcement Wednesday. Of course with time zones that will be after the podcast goes out, so that is why it stays as a rumour for now.

However, we do hear that some senior Apple people are due to arrive in Thailand at the weekend.

sweet The Tablet is what we are supposedly waiting for and a report I read on Monday tells us that noises coming out of Cupertino have Steve Jobs saying that this is the most important thing he has ever done. I think we will reserve judgement on that until we get facts over rumours, but Tech Crunch are pretty confident in their sources and as they ask, if the Phone was the warm-up, what is this going to do?

TUAW had some comments on this too and went back over some of the other ways Jobs has expressed suggestions of importance and they concluded that education may be one of the keys, with content constantly being upgraded by experts.

And that led me first to iTunesU, which is available in Thailand and is an amazingly diverse collection of information that is probably mainly untapped here. It also led me to think back to the original NeXt computers which were somewhat expensive, had pretty much what we are using for OS X these days, AND a large array of educational information ready installed.

We all know that the event this week is to be at the Yerba Buena Center where Apple has held many such product announcements before although this well-known fact seems to have escaped industry expert Rob Enderle -- he was the guy the BBC interviewed and we saw him speaking when the Windows 7 touchscreen display failed. Enderle is claiming that it is at this venue as Apple may want to distance itself from the product. I would guess that Steve Jobs and other execs being there won't really be enough. I am not going to put the link for this drivel.

3 tastes Rumours have it that a trio of products will be launched and this gives one of the perfect three for a Steve Jobs presentation with a gentle intro giving the state of the Art, a popular update to some software (others may appear outside of the forum), a useful hardware update; and then the One More Thing preceded by a short pause and a sip from the water bottle.

We have some useful intelligence by way of The Register who tell us about data from an organisation called Flurry who gather online information from developers. They say there is a device -- not saying what -- that is running an OS that is not used on the iPhone (at least not right now -- look for an update there too this week, perhaps). As we already knew some devices are also running 4.0. These hits seem also to be coming from an IP that is probably Apple's. Mind you, as I get several hundred hits each month from similar IP numbers, that may not mean much, especially about my site.

Google mapette We have looked a couple of times at TUAW's wish lists for the iPhone 4.0 release and this time it is a really interesting mix with some great suggestions concerning the calendar app, as well as suggestions for clock, compass and camera. Mail, maps and messages are also in the suggestions. Actually, Google maps for Thailand could do with a major improvement as far as I am concerned. I still look regularly at the map and satellite image of my house that is at least 15 years old, while a couple of hundred metres away is about 5 years old. One wonders when the new southern bus station will be updated. It's been open a couple of years but Google maps has it as an empty lot.

I mentioned last week moving from the Barnes and Noble app on the iPhone to the Kindle app and the book I bought by Phillip K. Dick. I am about halfway through and would suggest to the offspring trying to sue Google for borrowing names for the Nexus One and Android, that they examine the borrowed names within the text first.

Matt Asay at CNET has some criticism of Amazon who are trying belatedly to get in on the act. For one thing I saw last week that they have upped royalty payments to authors to match those of Apple; and now they are playing catch-up with a Kindle app store which is way too little and way too late. It also, as Matt tells us, is offering far less to developers.

Another more pointed comment comes from William Volk who is a developer and who tried to interest Amazon in an app a couple of years ago, before the Apple App Store. They were politely turned down then as Amazon did not think it was ready. Now Crickler is about to launch as an iPhone app.

Some time last year I downloaded Doodle Kid [App Store link] an app that drew with little stars and other shapes on the screen. Not much really apart from the fact that it was developed by a Singapore kid who was about 9. Now, we find news of another, more sophisticated drawing app, iSketch [App Store link], created by a boy of 11 while he was in hospital, but as well as a fairly useful app, he is donating part the proceeds to buying hospital equipment. Jerry James Stone on Treehugger has the details on this and Cameron Cohen (but not his family name) and how he got to write and submit this app. Cameron also has his own (currently simple) website. And at 99c of course I bought it.

Also releasing an App this week is The White House and Robert Gibbs explains all about it on a video I include with the podcast.

Two developments that might help users of the iPhone and the iPod touch concern video. As we know the iPhone does not have a Flash capability and while Apple blames Adobe, Adobe blames Apple and nothing gets done. Steve Jobs did persuade YouTube to move a lot of the clips to Quick Time format, and now apparently another way round may be possible with the use of HTML 5, which for one thing pleases Chris Rawson at TUAW where they hate Flash. I am not too pleased with it either particularly after the resource hogging that has been going on when I use Safari with the latest Flash plugin.

YouTube has a beta of the HTML 5 and the article [above] explains how this works and how it is only available to some browsers: Safari for example. We have to opt in first. Believe me, testing at my office was not a very bright idea, but once home: it works.

The day after that link arrived from TUAW, we saw an update from Vimeo who are also taking the same route.

green thing One of the problems with the iPhone is that a lot of people buy it without really knowing what it is or what it can do. A Singapore buyer wrote on the Apple forums that he had recently bought one, just on its cachet and had expected a camera facing the user. He writes, "I did not really check for it while buying" and finally realized he cannot make video calls. Methinks this is definitely a case of caveat emptor: indeed the user needs a health warning posted on him.

I did not see much on Nokia this week, but the BBC reports that Ericsson -- note the name Sony is not being used in the report -- are cutting some 1,500 jobs after profits that are down 92% from about $43m to $27m. They cut 5,000 jobs last year. At least they are still in the black.

As those who take the podcast either in aural or print form know, I am not really a fan of Windows or Microsoft, and never stop wondering why people are willing to inflict themselves with such suffering: the answer that, "everyone uses Windows" does not wash with me. I watch daily someone close to me who uses a Mac and a PC. The PC is for online games and is a never-ending source of frustration. The Mac gets on with its jobs.

Of course, the Apple-flavoured sources I use have scores of tales of wonder all the time and I have a couple this week I want to share. First is one from Dan Knight's Mac Musings on Low End Mac who starts with the idea of some people being sick and tired of Windows, but extends this on the blog to a lot of good ideas concerning upkeep and maintenance of Macs. Anyone who is new to the platform, or thinking of changing to OS X, would find this useful.

canal A different type of criticism of Windows is developed by Rixstep who, like me, are often exasperated by what those lost souls have to put up with, and consequently what us non-Windows users also have to suffer peripherally: as I have mentioned before, try using a Thai bank online if you have a Mac. Rixstep start by looking at the Google story and then morph into an examination of the problems internet users suffer because of attacks: most of which come from inherent weaknesses in Windows systems, specifically the registry.

    As an aside here, I get annoyed by the number of people on the Apple forums whose first reaction when something unexpected happens on their new Macs write asking if (or sometimes stating that) they have a virus.

Rixstep look at the way the internet works and have a side glance at the Malware Industry, who don't seem to send me emails so often these days, and the utter waste of time that most of it is. Particularly if you have a Mac of course.

China of course denies the attacks on Google were its work.

shoes Let's have a laugh with Ballmer now. With, not at. He actually may have a sense of humour. Someone asked him last week to autograph a computer, then presented him with a MacBookPro to write on. Instead of throwing a chair or walking out, he did what he was asked and before signing it wrote, Need a New One, which I thought was fair comment. There is a video of this on a small CNET article which I think is unfairly titled: "Balmer Desecrates MacBook Pro". He was asked to do this.

Last week we wondered if there was a way that Microsoft might be looking at a modular approach for its Windows 7 phone OS as it was rumoured to be basing this on the Zune system. This week, we now learn that Redmond is to merge two of its units: Zune software and Xbox. Electronista have the information on this and also look at that idea of how this might affect mobile phone software.

Rather than autographed, the University of Oregon has done a beautiful job of getting its MacBook Pro computers engraved with a stylish "O" itself made up of small O's. These computers are given to the athletes by Nike and as well as that O have a university serial number engraved on the bottom which helps if any go missing. Cult of Mac have an interview with the engraver as well as several good images of the computers and other University of Oregon icons.

This week the former head of Microsoft has been sounding off in an interview with Ina Fried. The problem with someone like Bill Gates is that whatever he says, because of his unique position, everyone listens to his words as if they were pearls coming from his lips. CNET dedicates several pages to Gates and his address as well as other output from him in the last days. All can be accessed from the link I provide on the podcast page and I am providing this as a service with no comment as to the value or otherwise of the content. I like Ina Fried.

spicy Unsurprisingly, there is news of the 10.6.3 update, which I guess will probably not be arriving this week as there is so much else going on. Aspects being looked at, we are told by Kasper Jade of AppleInsider, are QuickTime X as well as printing and Logic. It is up around 665MB right now, so that will be an early morning download when it does arrive. About 6 weeks is suggested.

But we also read this week about OS X, 10.7, which may not be released for a long time. However, there was recently some activity on the web suggesting that a fair bit of testing is going on. We may see a version of this in June, which is the time of the WWDC.

One rumour concerning Apple looks at the MacBook Air, which has been right off the radar with all that other noise, but is somewhat overdue for beefing up. Brooke Crothers at CNET looks at the computer and the delays as well as which processors may be used.

As a note to comments earlier concerning the "most Important" quote allegedly said by Steve Jobs, Prince McLean at Roughly Drafted throws some water on this and we are now wondering about the veracity of the words. He writes a lengthy article on background of the tablet idea and Apple, which may help put some things in context.

Later News

Only a few hours to go before this magic device appears and there are rumours and supposed images all over the web. One, which I rather like, comes direct from MacDaily News and they have a video. In it someone has posted a video on YouTube that has the recognised background for the special event this week and on it are the words, Welcome to iOS. Does that mean the operating system for the iPhone, or the new tablet special OS?

TUAW reports on a proximity sensor patent that Apple has been granted. Now there's an idea: as the tablet comes near the computer, let the sync begin. . . . And We hear that Jack Bauer at 24 will be using one, which I guess means it is reinforced.

Too Good to Miss?

A number of Adobe customers are unhappy with the way the company has upped the price of charges for its LiveCycle Data Services and a number clients are wondering about change. While down at the personal computer level, thinking back to the earlier item on the YouTube and Vimeo dabble with html5, we also hear complaints about Adobe CS 4 and the way it runs on Macs: only 150 days since August to fix it and it still won't work properly, says Bambi Brennan at Mac360 who is tired of being a crash dummy. Get GIMP.

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