Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MacRumors Sighed Potential New iPhone

I love rumors but I don't write about them. Why is why you are wondering why I'm getting this from MacRumors of all places.

Well, MR likes to delight us with rumors but they also provide news as well. And this is more news than rumors.

According to this post, MacRumors has found evidence in the iPhone's firmware (I'm guessing it's the 2.2.1 that was just released). What is it?

Well, it's not like Apple wrote "iPhone 2009" or anything like that. It's the iPhone code designation, "iPhone2,1". It's not a designation Apple simply use to upgrade capacity between models. The original iPhone was "iPhone1,1" and the iPhone 3G is "iPhone1,2".

How does Macrumors know for sure? Well, they point to how Apple labeled the original iPod Touch and the current generation iPod Touch. Well, not iron-clad but very convincing.

Less certain proof is a new iPhone is instored is a developer who has seen it used via logs from an ad company.

But you're saying "dude, we know it's coming. Nothing new year". I know that but there's a couple of reasons why I'm posting about it. Three reasons.
  • I'm very excited. If it's in the current firmware, it may mean the new iPhone is closer to release than the June or July time frame that I think a lot of folks believe.
  • You're going to hear a lot of rumors that may be triggered because of this Macrumors posting. I will enjoy reading them as much as the next iPhone fan. But just keep in mind they're rumors.
  • The 3rd generation of iPhone (as opposed to "iPhone 3G") is coming. Months away.
If you need (want) an iPhone now, today, tomorrow, or next month is just as good as any to get the iPhone 3G. There is no need to way. You won't be disappointed with the current iPhone. The soon you get it, the happier you'll be. I picked up the 16GB iPhone three months before Apple released the iPhone 3G. I don't regret it one sec.

But it is late January. Maybe Apple will release the next iPhone early. Maybe not. Personally, I'm in the "maybe not" camp. If Apple follows their late June pattern, you're a good half year away.

Can you really deny yourself the coolness of the iPhone for another whole half year? If you can, you're a better person than I am!

Source: Macrumors

Note: I'll be honest. Whether I upgrade to the next iPhone will largely depend on the battery life. If Apple implements the new battery technology they're using in the 17" Macbook Pro, maybe they can greatly increase the battery life of the next iPhone. I've seen them all and I'm using the G1 right now. The iPhone 3G has a slightly better battery life than the G1 which isn't saying much.

Another note: The iPhone 3G has already been available in the US for 6 months. Everywhere else, it's only been a couple of months. Taiwan got theirs a month ago. I don't think Apple will want to upset folks who just got their iPhones for a couple of months only to see Apple come out with newer models.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Apple Lets Podcaster In - What Changed at Apple?

We've heard the stories about Apple's secrecy and it sort of went insane in the early days of the iPhone SDK with the nondisclosure agreements.  And when Apple finally dropped the NDA, developers were generally happy (users probably were affected much).

Well, you might not have know that an app called Podcaster was rejected and because of the NDA, the developer couldn't well talk about it much.  It was a big story.  You can google for details if you want to learn more about it.

Well, Apple has finally approved Podcaster.  Originally, it was rejected for duplicating a function on the iPhone -  well, eventually, an iPhone update on the iTunes allow iPhone users to wirelessly download podcasts, very much like what Podcaster does.

Macworld is just as baffled by this change of heart at Cupertino as we are.  They believe it's a removal of a feature in the original Podcaster app or that RSS Player, the new name for Podcaster, slipped through without Apple noticing.

I don't think those possibilities are likely.  Apple isn't stupid.  Well, okay, anyone can drop the ball at the gate.  I think it's more likely one of the reasons below or a combination of them all:

  • The iPhone platform has matured enough where Apple is comfortable about the app landscape and features that it might include with the iPhone and iPod Touch in the future.  Apple probably wanted to get a feel for the how they want to manage the app store.  At the time, Apple was also dealing with a really bad MobileMe issue.
  • Likely anything at Apple, they don't just open the flood gate.  Things tend to trickle out at Apple.  First web apps.  Then iPhone SDK a year later.  Lifting the NDA months after that.  Finally RSS Player.
  • Apple has recently allowed competing Web browsers into the app store.  It's conceivable that Apple will let other applications that might duplicate features that already exist on the iPhone be made available.  Personally, I'm looking forward to the Google app include gTalk and gmail.  
  • Competition.  Android Market should be out of beta soon.  Pre will offer a great challenge given the number of old Apple folks there - we could be looking at an app store with SDK similar to the iPhone.  RIM will soon make its app store available for the Blackberries and I'm sure Microsoft won't be too far off with their own implementations.  Apple could be looking at the market and realize that they need to be more open than they otherwise would have liked.
  • Money.  More paid apps, more revenues for Apple.  
  • Learn from the past.  Instead of shutting folks out, Apple might realize it's better to work with developers.  
As someone who relies on his iPhone and Touch more and more, I am very glad at this surprising development.  Whatever the reasons are, iPhone mobile folks have a brighter future to look forward to.  Now, if we can't get an iPod Tablet, then my mobile world will be perfect.

Via Macworld

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Interest in Mobile Computing Saved Apple's Christmas

Without Apple's redesigned unibody Macbooks (which I have and love) and the refreshed iPod Touches, and certainly the iMacs were no help, Apple stock price could have end up much lower.  The record quarter revenue and profit did stunt any effort from Jobs not being at the helm, at least until June.

But with Macbooks selling really hot, let's not forget the iPod Touch.  the iPhone had a great quarter but nothing like the 7 million sold in the previous quarter.  So, let's focus on the iPods.

It's unfortunate that Apple doesn't break out individual numbers for the different iPods but I'm willing to believe that the second generation iPod Touch did a lot to exceed analyst expectations (from Wall Street to Internet bloggers/analysts). 

I got the 2nd gen 8GB iPod Touch and it's just absolutely incredible.  I have the iPhone as well and this design is just incredible.  More than just the design, it's what it represents.  It's a mobile computing platform.

A mobile computer.  A gaming machine.  A lot of people think that iTunes is why the iPods are selling so well and I agree.  But it's these new functions that makes iPod Touches stand out.
  • 36 Hours of play time - I'm getting around that much.  In fact, I think I'm getting closer to forty hours.
  • I'm getting 6-7 hours of Internet use.  8 hours of just writing.  Gaming varies depending on how graphic intensive the games are.  Generally, great battery life.  I don't watch video on it like I do on my iPhone because I have more room on my iPhone (16GB).
  • Mobile Internet.  E-mails. 
  • I love the touchscreen keyboard.  No doubt about it.  I never got used to the physical keyboards on the Blackberries and I'm only getting used to the one on my G1.  
  • $199.  Cheaper with some online oulets.  Even cheaper with refub units from Apple.  
  • Don't have to deal with a wireless contract.
I'm sure a lot of mobile readers who own an iPod Touch have other great features they love about their iPod Touch but the above features comes to mind.   Again, Apple doesn't have numbers for us but I'm sure the 8GB iPod Touch model was very popular this Christmas.

What does this mean?  Well, no new iMac or Mac mini and Apple still had a great quarter.  I'm thinking a change on how we do computing and expectations as far as mobile entertainment comes to mind.  As a society, we're increasing wireless affording us greater freedom from our home or office.  Macbooks aside, Apple has introduced a great mobile device in the form of the Touch.

The iPod Touch doesn't do spreadsheets or many other office functions but it does allow for mobile warriors to take data, e-mail, and perform simple word processing.  Kids can do some homework on the go or where there is Wi-Fi, go onto the Internet. Again, gaming.

I think the impact of devices like the iPod Touch is only beginning to be felt.  There simply is no other device like this.  I know there are devices like the Nokia N800 series but nothing as integrated a far as computing functions and entertainment values as the iPod Touch.

Personally, I can wait until the third generation and updated software features.  

Note:  Microsoft did not have a great quarter.  In fact, Zune revenue was down $100 million.  I've only seen Zune in the wild like twice.  But I hope Microsoft doesn't exit the market because even if Zune does sell as well as the iPods, it's a competitor to the iPods and competition, everyone knows, is good for innovation and, ultimately, consumers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Suppose Apple Kills the iMac

Maybe not today.  Maybe not in the next couple of years.   But don't be surprised if Apple offers only Macbooks and Mac Pros as the two main Mac choices somewhere down the line.
If that was to happen, I'm sure there will be an hybrid of Mac and Apple TV (my Mac Hybrid) perhaps even integrated with a widescreen LCD (or LED) HDTV.  But that's analysis for another blog.  
First let's examine why Apple would do this rid themselves of consumer desktops:
  • Macbooks have higher margins.  Mac portables account for an increasing percentage of sales.
  • Steve Jobs read our lame blogs at On Apple and over at Onxo.  Okay.  Just being funny.  Okay, not funny.
  • The move is towards mobile computing - laptops, smartphones, mobile platform with devices like iPhones and iPods.
  • Affordability.  Laptops, including Macbooks, have gone down in average selling price.  Furthermore, refurbished Macbooks are very popular with consumers.
  • As far as going green, Macbooks uses less power than iMacs.
Now, why Apple won't do this get rid of the iMac and the Mac Mini:
  • There is still a large segment of the market that aren't ready to move towards mobility.
  • Businesses generally would prefer iMacs with its larger screens for productivity.  
  • Creative users like the flexibility and expandability of iMacs.  That isn't to say that Macbooks are less flexible.
  • Cost.  Some folks see value in desktop.  Well, I sort of agree, provided being mobile isn't an issue.
  • Apple may merge additional home entertainment features into the iMac and possibly Mac Mini and having a consumer desktop allows them these options should they chose to.
Now, I'm talking about consumer Macs here.  Not Mac Pro.  How will the Mac lines play out without an iMac?  What are the likely scenarios for such a possible (but improbable) move by Apple?
  • We might see a 18-20" Macbook.  It may be the Macbook for the creative crowd.
  • Additional Macbook units.  There may be two lines:  traditional Macbooks and Macbook Pros and additional units along the line of the the Macbook Air.  Perhaps a 15" model in addtion to the 13" Macbook Air on the market now.
  • A Mac tower that merged the Mac Mini with the Apple TV for use with home entertainment systems and HDTVs.  
  • MacHD - just came up with this name.  It's an HDTV with a Mac mini and Apple TV inside.
 Now, I'm talking about iMacs.  Consumer Macs.  There will always be a Mac Pro.  No Macbook Pro will ever come close to the power and expandability of the Mac Pro. 
Note:  Personally, I hope they won't kill the iMac.  I plan on picking up a powerful quad-core iMac in the future for development myself.  However, the multi-year delay in Mac mini update and the 10 months since the iMac was updated does provide an opportunity to speculate.

Another note:  This is not a rumor post.  I don't traffic in rumors.  It's just fun speculation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Macbook Pro More Expensive?

According to Business Week, that is indeed the case.

I guess hits are needed at BW in light of the deep recession that we're in.

Honestly, these kinds of comparison posts are a weekly ritual.  However, it usually isn't a staple for mainstream print media.  Of course, it was mainstream media that did brushed aside blogs as true news sites (which I happen to agree - for some sites, such as the one you're reading now) but since they recognize blogs are an important part of reaching out to readers, they quickly learn that blogs are ways to sustain business.  

Hence, BW's trashy post about MBP being more expensive. Never mind that the Macbook Pro they're coming has a newer chipset, never mind that Dell's machine uses a much older video card, never mind that it's Vista on the Dell and not OS X, never mind that MBP can come down to the level of Vista and wash away any after taste after booting back into OS X.  

Interestingly, BW made a point about economic pressure forcing Dell and other Windows laptop makers lower prices to compete.  Apple simply didn't find any need to do it.  BW should blog about why that is.

Macbook costs more up front.  So what?  

Source:  BW

Note:  Apple just had a blow out quarter.  More than 2.5 million Macs sold.  9% Increase while the industry as a whole shrank.  My fellow Mac mobile warriors, please go to BW's link.  They need your clicks so they can hire quality bloggers and journalists who won't drop the ball and let the future financial crises sneak up on us again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

500 Million Apps Downloaded From App Store

It's official.  iLounge reports 500 million apps have been downloaded from Apple's app store.
This is incredible.  Also incredible is that there are now 15,000 apps available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  That right folks.  These numbers are big.  When the app store debutted back in July of 2008, there were only 500 apps.  

Here's a bit of the breakdown in reaching this remarkable half a billion downloads:
  • Six weeks prior to December 5, iPhone and iPod Touch users have downloaded 200 million apps.
  • On december 5, Apple announced 300 million apps were downloaded.
  • In a merely 42 days, another 200 million apps were downloaded to reach half a billion.  That's 500 million downloads in all.
  • 15,000 apps available for download.
Any bets on when we reach 1 billion?

Source:  iLounge, Apple (need to go see it now before it goes away)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leave of Absence for Apple's Steve Jobs

This just in.  

Steve Jobs of Apple Inc will take a leave of absence citing distraction his health situation has created.  In the letter, Jobs indicated his health situation was more "complex" than initially thought.  

Tim Cook will take over day-to-day duties.

Source:  Yahoo News (AP)

Note:  After Jobs initial explanation a couple of weeks ago, many doctors were quoted in the media wondering if Jobs' cancer had returned.  Then, a hormonal issue as stated by Jobs was easily remedied. 

Wish you the best, Steve.  See you in June!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What To Expect From Apple In First Half of 2009

It's over. There will never be another one like it. For the last Macworld Keynote, we weren't blown out of the water with anything spectacular. Blogs and podcasts alike have been all over how this ended.  

Nevertheless, those of us follow Apple will just have to soldier on and wait for those special events that dotted the calendar year for updates on existing Apple products (and maybe new ones too).  So, what do I personally expect in the coming year?

Based on my years of watching Jobs, Apple, and their product cycle, and I can make some simple predictions for folks new to the Cupertino scene.  Just as Apple have declared, product introductions will take place in smaller venues at special events at a time of Apple's choosing.  Usually, the media is will receive an invitation that provides some sort of clue to what Apple has planned.

The iMac is due for a refresh.  There are plenty of rumors and I don't traffic in them but I believe that given the update the aluminum Macbook received (Nvidia chipset is the most important change from the previous generation).  It's possible the iMac will receive a similar Nvidia update though I think one might consider an older iMac with its dedicated ATI GPU.

Now the question is when will the update happen?  On Apple, along with everyone else, expected to see the new iMac updates at Macworld.  So, what is the issue here?  Simple stick in Macbook parts into the iMac and you're done, right?

Well, Apple has one of two routes to go in updating the iMac.  They can simply update the iMac line quietly and be done with it.  Alternatively, Apple can issue a summon to the press and make an event to announce the update.  As I said above, the invitation may offer a clue to what Apple has planned.

Here's the thing.  The current iMac is still pretty good compared to other desktops from others but Apple's desktop sales has suffered.  If Apple drags this any longer, I will start to believe that Apple has more planned for the iMac than a simple fresh.

Also, if the iMacs are updated soon, we should see another one in the summer just as the back to school rush is gearing up.

Mac Mini.  I'm not touching this one.   If you want good reliable information, try the Apple website or the Apple store.  And if you want rumors, any Apple or Mac-centric blog will oblige you.  However, I have to say outside of the Macbook, I'm most interested in the mini's future.

I can tell you what I like to see as far as the Mac mini goes.  Meet the Mac Hybrid.

Mac Pro also needs a bit refresh as well.  I'll be honest. I have not interest in a Mac Pro (more power than I need right now and $$$).  The new Mac Pro will inherit Intel's Nehalem architecture.  I'm pretty comfortable with this prediction.  When?  I'm more certain of Mac Pro updates than of iMac updates.

Macbooks were just updated in October and the 17" Macbook Pro just showed at Macworld.  We might see something in the spring.  Note that the 17" Macbook Pro, with its revolutionary new battery implementation, may be joined by the 15" Macbook Pro eventually.  8 Hours of battery life.  I'm drowling bit time.  I hope by the time I upgrade my Macbook in a couple of years, we'll see 10-hour battery lives across the whole mobile Mac line.

Lastly, how about iPhone updates?  This is where it gets tricky.  I'll save this for another entry.  There's a lot of moving parts in the mobile market and the iPhone hasn't matured to the point like the Mac or the iPod.  

Apple Execs - Hot Commodities

Given the good press the Palm Pre is getting so far in the media, one part of the story that is mentioned but hardly highlighted is the people behind Palm's latest and best chance of turning things around.

Now, we don't know if Palm Pre or the new widget-based OS will be the new OS X of the mobile market. There will be a lot of waiting, analyzing, blogging, and speculating along this line and we'll see a lot of comparisons to Apple and Apple's turnaround because a lot of the folks at Palm now trying to revive the company were former Apple executives or engineers. Certainly there are top names we've all heard in the media. Lesser known are the number of former Apple engineers.

However, should Palm succeed in turning it around, imagine how hot former Cupertino executives will be, especially those who had the fortune of being personally schooled (or ripped a new one) in the Jobsian view of the world.

And there is no denying that Palm Pre's UI and other implementations will get a lot more scrutiny and comparisons with Apple's mobile platform than with RIM or Windows Mobile. Mud will be thrown from the blogs on the Apple camp and Palm devotees will respond in kind. But at the end of the day, these former Apple executives will still need to convince us that Palm Pre is a product to be reckon with and that it's worth our while to consider it a good alternative to the iPhone. More importantly, that Palm is back.

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...