AMITIAE - Wednesday 16 April 2013
Cassandra - Wednesday Review: The Week in Full Swing
By Graham K. Rogers
Opening GambitBoston and terrorism. Deconstruction of anlaysts. NYTimes report on Foxconn aimed at Apple wins a Pullitzer Prize. Foxconn hiring: is this the run-up to the next iPhone? Four of the top five highest paid executives in the U.S. work at Apple (Tim Cook not included): actually, no - stock options are not the same. A 12 MP camera for the next iPhone. iPhone lens attachments. Time Machine backups and hints. Ext file access for OS X. Aperture, iPhone and Xcode updates. PC sales down - Windows sales slump: there is no Plan B. Film and digital cinema comparisons. Google's Schmidt to make the tide turn. Michigan judge fines himself $25 for contempt when his phone went off in court. Samsung in Taiwan admits to hiring students to post negative comments on HTC.
BostonThe tragic event in Boston this week was not named as an act of terrorism as far as I heard late Tuesday here. I listened to the press conference and took a number of things from that: prior to the race, the area was swept for devices, and the last time this was done about an hour before; there was no threat made; the analysis of the scene and the materials recovered will help to identify the type of devices used, and perhaps the source of those will help narrow the focus; while the police secured the scene, many officers were directed to collect CCTV footage; members of the public have supplied images; the public were asked additionally to make available any other images of the area and also provide the time these were taken (a comment made by one speaker was that the data is available within the files, but this could save time); with the injuries, it is a suggestion that the bomb was placed low down on the ground.
A variety of sharp objects were used in the bombs (pellets, shrapnel, nails were mentioned), no evidence of radiation was found: a bomb maker has a "signature" and these details may match data the authorities already have. The materials might also be sourced as a way to track down the perpetrators.
It is the minor details such as materials from the bombs, series of images and witness statements that help to build a picture and thus discover the perpetrators eventually. As part of the quest to build this larger picture, Steven Musil reports that the police in Boston turned to Twitter to send out information and to gather more from the public.
Late news from The Independent shows that the bombs were made from pressure cookers and contained ball bearings: designed to injure; and there is a confirmation that - as a Canadian eye-witness suggested to a CNN reporter, they were in rucksacks on the ground. They will trace the pressure cookers and perhaps the backpacks.
Apple StuffI am pleased to see I am not alone in moaning about all the experts that have come out of the woodwork in the last couple of years and how their analyses are often way off: they know litle about Apple but set themselves up as the last word in what Apple will do. Take a look at an item by Steve Sande on TUAW in which he deconstructs a lot of recent commentary. While you are at it, you should look for The Macalope and others like Daniel Eran Dilger and John Gruber on Daring Fireball and Jim Dalrymple. These guys are far more in touch with Apple ideas than many so-called analysts.
This disgraceful report was not even original, as Wired carried the story 8 months before, and yet it has won a Pullitzer Prize. MacDaily News reports the news briefly and also has a couple of sharp comments.
Now we are told in an item by Neil Hughes on AppleInsider (among others) that Foxconn has resumed hiring and that this is "a move said to be made in anticipation of Apple's next iPhone". Also commenting on this is Ben Lovejoy on 9to5 Mac.
All is as is expected and we could have predicted this months ago (perhaps we did, I forget) but in the meantime there have been scores - nay hundreds - of panic rumours about the iPhone 5S, Phone 6, iPhone cheapo and the rest. We shall see when Apple announces the new device, whenever that might be. As WWDC is coming soon, I would expect some information about the beginning of June.
As to naming, who cares about numbers: as we know it is an iPhone, maybe that is all it will be called from here on in. Neil mentions that Apple requested that Foxconn take on extra staff and it may be that there will be three lines running (at least) iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and the new one.
And just in time, before it all gets too postive, a report from Dara Kerr cites an analyst who has visited suppliers in Asia and says that the rumored iPhone 5S will most likely be delayed due to pre-production issues. He adds in the reported delays to iOS 7 and the anser is another dud for Apple. This is not the first time Misek has been negative, nor made wild predicitons, however, Kerr does not help by setting the scene with her opening: "As Samsung, Google, and Microsoft forge ahead with smartphones, smartwatches, and other smart devices, Apple could be experiencing production delays across the board". There is a lot of vapour in there.
Nothing here but dangerous speculation.
However, Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Fortune points out that this is all a bit skewed as the figures include restricted stock units which are not really pay, but pong term bonuses if they stay with Apple for a longer period. "Don't Bloomberg's brainiacs know the difference between an RSU and a pay check?" he asks. [My link for this was MacDaily News.]
An article that has some related information regarding profits comes from Horace Dediu at ASYMCO who reports that with the Windows market contracting (see below), Apple makes more profits than the top 5 PC makers. Using figures from the Gartner analysis we looked at last week and some of his own calculations, he shows how profitable Apple remains [My source for this article was MacDaily News.]
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Also useful are comments contained in a article by Federico Viticci on MacStories on the way they regard backups as essential. I say this to colleagues and students, but few actually make any form of backup as a regular exercise.
In another article, MacNN also report on updates to Java and Safari, as well as printer driver updates from Epson, HP and Canon.
On the other hand, I do see that there are updates to a number of apps in the App store this morning, including Facebook 6.0.
Other MattersIt has been noticed by some that as sales of PCs have dropped considerably, so sales of Windows 8 are also expected to have fallen somewhat, although in this house we are not sure whether the chicken or the egg came first: did PC sales slump because of Windows (not well received), or did sales of Windows not lift off because no one is buying PCs these days. Many home users have found that tablet computers are doing all they need and so the companies like Samsung, and others whom we might mention, benefit.
With the economic situation many companies are not upgrading either their PC systems or the OS they use, so not only are they not buying Windows, which is one of Microsoft's cash cows, but there is likely to be a knock on effect with Office, the other one. So what is Plan B? Jay Greene asks, mentioning that survey from IDG and the drop in sales (13.9%).
The problem is, there is no Plan B, although they might start by throwing Ballmer from the battlements. Even the analysts aren't sure.
The chairman is a bit verbose at the moment and Shara Tibken reports more of his gems which this time came at the AllThingsD conference. He predicts 1 billion Android phones by late this year, and 2 billion within a year or two. Great, except is anyone making any money out of them?
A further comment from Schmidt (also at AllThingsD) was reported by Electronista. He says that Google would like Apple to return to using Google maps in a future version of iOS. Easy to make the switch back he thinks. I guess Google must be hurting from the switch as the map app is free (as it was before), but the app provides links to advertisers and Google doesn't have those now in the same way. The Electronista article does make the point that the map data used by Apple currently has some faults, but to imply that Google does not is wrong: I have only to look out of my window to confirm how wrong Google maps is.
Is Schmidt going to order the tide to turn back next?
And Samsung admits it.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. 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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