Where is Apple Going?

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Date: Friday, October 6th, 2006, 12:00
Category: Opinion

As a computer company, the path seems pretty straightforward. Apple has transitioned to Intel processors and Leopard will take running Windows on a Mac out of beta. Market share is rising, price points are great for most machines and performance is where it needs to be. Also, the product line looks great.
Portables
MacBooks are probably the biggest hit Apple has had since the original iMac. The MacBook Pro is due for a new Core 2 Duo processor and should be through with initial teething problems by then. The iMac and mini are great consumer machines and the Mac Pro has moved to Intel along with the Xserves. What’s not to like?
iPods in Transition
The second generation iPod nano is by far the best music player Apple has ever produced. It’s smaller than the original nano, but with the superior industrial design of the iPod mini. There is something so appealing about this design. It’s cleaner than the split stainless and plastic casing of the original iPods with a durable anodized finish. The iPod shuffle also benefits from this aluminization.
I broke with Jason when he panned the original iPod shuffle. I liked the concept and thought the product was neat and clean. The new Shuffle with integral clip and aluminum finish is gorgeous. Maybe O’Grady was right about the original. Suffice it to say, that the second-generation shuffle is near perfect now.
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(Contributed by Bob Snow)

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Mac Pro with Room to Grow

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Date: Wednesday, August 9th, 2006, 00:01
Category: Mac Desktop

macpro-150.jpgWhen the G5 tower was unveiled at the final Macworld Expo held in New York, I loved the look of it. The brushed metal, the purposeful grilles, the integrated lifting hoops. The machine looked sleek and professional but it was BIG, about 5/4 size. The entire case seemed to be designed around fans and air flow.
Well, there is no Macworld Expo scheduled this summer, so the Intel Mac Pro was unveiled at WWDC. The leaked banner photo gave no clue about the new pro machine, because in profile it looks just like the one it replaces. What does Intel Xeon mean for the Mac desktop workhorse? Well, it is still a 64 bit computer, something the other Intel Macs don’t offer. Otherwise, you have the basic drop in price and increase in performance that seems to be part of the transition to Intel. So, is it just a new processor in the same old box?
Not really. The thing I like about the new machine is that the BIG enclosure has a lot of internal space freed up by the lower thermal loads imposed by the new processors. Now there is real expansion space inside the box. Two optical drive bays and a modular approach for accommodating up to four internal hard drives. Now the box justifies its size and looks even more purposeful. The G5 tower did not sell very well because it did not offer enough performance for the price. This new workstation does.
There are no G5 Power Macs left in the pipeline either. The transition is complete. I think that one of the Intel Macs is ripe for a refresh. The PowerMac Pro notebooks were the first out of the gate with Core Duo “Yonah” processors, but the consumer MacBooks that followed are such a tremendous value that the Pro notebooks would benefit from the latest “Merom” Core 2 Duo chips from Intel. The entire lineup could represent the best value Apple has ever delivered, across the board, top to bottom, stem to stern.

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Apple Needs to License its DRM – Soon

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Date: Friday, July 28th, 2006, 08:10
Category: Opinion

There is a fundamental difference between the record business, the movie industry and book publishing.
When the iTunes Music Store opened, the recording industry was decimated by piracy. Not just file sharing of MP3’s but simple duplication of CDs being passed around between friends. The recording industry was hemorrhaging money when Steve Jobs got his agreement for 99 cent downloads. The distribution of recorded music worked fine when it was just the phonograph and radio.
The 8-track tape was developed for the car, but was short lived. The cassette was used to wholesale copy vinyl music collections by many industrious types and was first and foremost a recording format. The digital CD provided a boost to the industry, but there is no copy protection built in. It is unlikely that manufacturers of CD players will support some sort of revised format and DRM and the industry has tried hacking the CD format to stop copying, by installing spyware on Windows computers and introducing errors that keep CDs from mounting, all to no avail.
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REVIEW: STM Alley is a Perfect Fit

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Date: Tuesday, July 18th, 2006, 08:00
Category: MacBook

Looking for the perfect fit for your new MacBook? Look no further than the small Alley shoulder bag made by STM and distributed by RadTech. I like to keep my mobile load light and this bag weighs in at a svelte one pound six ounces. More than just a laptop sleeve, the Alley has a nice zippered compartment in the outer flap, the ability to hold letter size documents and a small phone pouch on the strap.

Priced at only $39.95, the Alley is as much a bargain as the MacBook itself. This vertical shoulder bag reminds me of the similarly bargain priced TiBag, designed specifically to fit the Titanium G4 PowerBook a few years back. While STM does not deliver the high style of fellow Australian bagmaker Crumpler, they provide a trim understated solution that protects your MacBook with a minimum of fuss. It is available in black or green and my only suggestion would be to replace the green with a light gray or silver color and to provide a contrasting lighter color fabric for the bag interior.

Combine the small Alley case with a BT510 mid-size Bluetooth mouse, to keep your MacBook mobile and light. Available in black or white to match the MacBook I find the size and simplicity of this mouse a perfect compromise between portability and useability. In fact, this mouse and bag combination seem tailor made for the new MacBook and it would be hard to find a better fit for what may be the best Apple value ever in a notebook computer.

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MacBook – Practically Pro

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Date: Saturday, May 20th, 2006, 08:19
Category: Uncategorized

The iBook started life as a schoolBook with a very K thru 12 look. The large durable color toilet seat enclosure and small screen made this machine unappealing even for higher education, let alone business users. The second rectangular form factor for iBooks had a much more universal appeal. The size of the 12 inch model seemed just right and there was not nearly as much of a weight and size penalty vs. a PowerBook. The upgrade to G4 boosted performance without changing the packaging very much. The new MacBook broadens the appeal considerably in terms of performance and features. Read on……..

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Apple Store – Back “Within the Hour”

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Date: Tuesday, May 16th, 2006, 07:35
Category: retail

apple_store_backsoon.jpgThe Apple Online Store is closed, but will be back within the hour. It’s probably the new MacBook replacement for the iBook… Stay tuned.

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Alpine iPod Interface

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Date: Saturday, May 6th, 2006, 13:53
Category: iPod

alpine9852.jpegThe Alpine CDE-9852 head unit with KCE-422i interface cable is probably the best integrated iPod automotive solution in the $200 price range. I received my unit from Crutchfield with a custom bezel and adapter plug to fit my car, making installation a breeze. This unit will support a subwoofer and I will most likely add one, but the Bass Engine equalizer control allowed me to add significant bass emphasis without the mid-bass tubbiness that you get with a simple tone control. I replaced the paper cone factory speakers several years ago with same size Polk speakers and they sound significantly better with a bit of equalization and the loudness contour turned on. What is there not to love? Great sound, direct control of my iPod and 2,000 plus songs at my fingertips. The display will scroll through Artist, Album and Song Title along with elapsed time. Sounds like heaven. Well I do love this unit and hate it at the same time.
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15,000 Songs on your Credenza

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Date: Monday, May 1st, 2006, 08:22
Category: Hardware

iPods are great little sound machines, with the emphasis on little and they pack enough power to drive a pair of earbuds for hours and hours. If you don’t need portable, you can get a lot more bang far a lot less buck. Whether you use an all Apple solution or even a PC, older computers make cheap digital jukeboxes and iTunes is free. Keep in mind that most PCs used for computing tasks are attached to some seriously lo-fi speakers. This is not what I am talking about. I have cobbled together a number digital jukeboxes, many on the cheap.
My first digital music box came pre-configured. You see, I still have my Twentieth Anniversary Mac and it was designed to play music. The Bose sound system is decent, considering the size limitations of the small drivers in the TAM head unit. The fan in my TAM always runs because of a G3 upgrade, I only have a 20GB laptop drive in it and the version of Quicktime running on OS 9 does not support Apple’s Fair Play. But, with it’s built in remote control, CD drive and iTunes, it makes for an elegant integrated music system.
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If You Can’t Join them, Beat them

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Date: Thursday, March 23rd, 2006, 10:18
Category: Uncategorized

Rumors are flying about an iPhone being manufactured in Taiwan. What are the pitfalls of an Apple branded iPod phone? Clearly, the biggest problem is that the mobile phone providers think they can sell songs over their networks at prices much higher than the iTunes music store. I doubt it, but that does not stop them from thinking that way. Most people get their phones heavily discounted or free from their service provider in exchange for a service contract that typically lasts two years. Very few people pay retail for a phone, even though doing so gets you an unlocked, uncrippled phone with no multiyear commitment to any particular service. An iPhone will not succeed without subsidy and branding from Cingular, Verizon, and T-mobile.
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New Apple Products

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Date: Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, 07:56
Category: Opinion

iPod Hi-Fi
This is a simple one. The Altec inMotion IM7 is $250, the Klipsh iGroove is $280 and the Bose sound dock is priced at $300. The Bose Wave Radio sells for $500. This is what people are willing to pay for these types of products. Apple priced theirs at $350. Seems fine. It will sell, but I do not like the way the iPod is just perched on top. Apple is going head to head in a product category that others have created. The iPod economy is quite large. The ultimate solution would be to use the iPod as the remote, but problems with battery consumption probably keep this just out of reach. Cost would not be a factor, because it would be so cool!
Mac mini
If it had a powerful 3D graphics card, it would be a better TV game console, but there is a real lack of game software for Macintosh anyhow. This probably keeps the cost down, but I think that a home entertainment solution will eventually need a game partner like Nintendo and fast 3D graphics. Problem is that if the price creeps much higher, the features will not matter. If you look at the specs, it packs a lot more features and performance for the slightly higher price, but the price went up and that hurts sales. It just does not go as far as I would have liked towards a home entertainment hub. I would hook this to my TV and get a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but I wish it was a DVR right out of the box. The new Mac mini seems like an incremental step in the right direction but not good enough yet to be a blockbuster home entertainment solution. Its a great little computer and far better suited to a home entertainment environment than a Windows box in your living room. The package is perfect, the features are just not there yet.

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