AMITIAE - Wednesday 6 January 2016
Cassandra: Midweek Review - Bleeding Edge
By Graham K. Rogers
I had to wait a minute or two for the charger to do its stuff and allow me to start work. Wednesday morning is when I load up my weekly Bangkok Post article, so the power was an annoyance. It must have been low when I put it to sleep Tuesday evening and when I pressed a key, nothing happened. I tried the Power key and a low battery symbol appeared. That will teach me.
Of course, then I had the displeasure of having to enter the Google password once more - every morning this week. When I use a browser (Google Ads, YouTube), it is entered automatically. And the settings are fine for other email accounts. Just Google.
The news in an item by Chance Miller on 9to5 Mac that the Apple Watch is being released in Malaysia today (Wednesday), months after it arrived in Thailand was a surprise. I had thought it was available there already. Later this month, the device will be available in Portugal and the Czech Republic.
There are some new Apple Watch models and among them the Product (Red) Apple Sport is to be in Malaysia this week. The new models released for the Chinese New Year (8 Feb) and available until 22 February have yellow gold and silver aluminum color options with dark red straps (Alicia Tan, Mashable).
Later there was an error of sorts when for a brief while a black version of the Milanese Loop strap appeared on the Czech Apple web site, but the AppleInsider page that had this, also disappeared with an odd 404 Not Found page.
As well as Twitter updates for OS X, there had been one for the iOS version on Tuesday morning, along with a load of other apps: the start of the post-holiday rush. Some also reported that a new beta of iOS 9.2.1 (build 13D14) was made available. But the rumours circulating of a 10,000-character limit will totally kill what Twitter was. The 140-character limit made it essential that anyone frame comments really concisely. Even the no-limit option for direct messages creates unnecessary wordiness. Better would be to reduce the character limit to 125 (say) and make people focus.
On Monday, in the context of another new Apple store opening in China, I sort of made a wish that Apple would open one here. Not going to happen of course: too many special interests to deal with. Mikey Campbell on AppleInsider reports that Cupertino is about to start a "major retail push into Latin America" with the first store opening in Mexico City. Apple is also looking at Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and perhaps Chile.
In a heads-up about recently updated OS X apps, MacNN included VueScan which I use for scanning negatives from my camera using a Canon flatbed device. I had version 9.5.22, but when I started it, saw that 9.5.35 was available which I downloaded.
Apple's Wednesday fall was a whole different game and was due to a Nikkei report that Apple may cut orders for iPhones by 30% to deal with stock adjustments and that production will return to normal by April. The report cites "lackluster sales" - we will find out about that for real in a couple of weeks. Mind you, there is not the same sort of golly, gosh, gee, when it is found that Samsung sales are stagnating [Source: MacDaily News].
Many sites had the news on Tuesday morning (here) that Apple will announce its Q1 2016 earnings on 26 January (2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET) and there will be a live audio feed at the conference call. The Nikkei report appeared a few hours after Apple made that announcement. What a coincidence.
On the question of what there will be, in a Tweet linking to his article, Benjamin Mayo commented on the confusion that exists concerning iPhone sales: up or down? He writes that "these results will cover the holiday shopping season, we should expect strong numbers from Apple, adding that this is the first full quarter for sales of the latest models.
And right on time, one of the early Apple-is-doomed articles appeared. Honour this time goes to Matt Margolis, writing on Seeking Alpha: "Why Apple's Best Days Could Be In The Rear-View Mirror" and I just saw a Tweet that suggested some major surprises. I am collecting these.
Reporting on Fortune, Don Reisinger looks at positive reports from Daniel Ives of FBR as well as a number of others who are still picking over the dead remains of that Katy Huberty rumour of reduced output, ergo fewer iPhones, and asks the question, Is Apple Heading Into a 'White Knuckle Period? As any article with a question mark can be answered with a No (or Yes) he backs both horses and answers "Maybe. Maybe not.?
And on that, there is an interesting comparison from Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Fortune of the top 5 companies (Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple) which looks at P/E (share price, divided by earnings). Amazon is fantastically high (912.59) and Apple low (11.43). However Elmer-DeWitt turns the tables (literally) by producing another chart comparing the same five by the billions of dollars in cash they generated: almost a reverse of the P/E chart. But on that, he reports the words of venture capitalist Fred Wilson who expects Apple will falter this year. See, Apple is doomed.
However, I was out in Bangkok with my niece when an email arrived with a press release from Apple about sales at the app store: phenomenal, apparently. One paragraph sums it up and we should remind ourselves that, despite what the analysts insist, Apple is not a one-trick pony. There is more to this act than the iPhone:
As part of the information there was a comment on the jobs that Apple has created, partly indirectly, "Apple is now responsible for creating and supporting 1.9 million jobs in the U.S. alone" and "Apple has previously reported that the iOS app economy has created 1.2 million jobs in Europe and 1.4 million jobs in China."
Apple had a look at their sensing technology in 2013 and collected information from the Valencell website. There was later contact between the two including the use of "technical samples for testing and analysis". The allegation is that Apple's light-sensing solution was lifted from Valencell and used four of their patents.
A late note from Jon Fingas on Engadget reports that Valencell has added Fitbit to the list and is to sue them for the same claims on the same 4 patents. Fitbit plans to fight back.
I think the most head-scratching moment of CES was the announcement from Kodak that it was to release a Super 8 film camera that it hopes will revive the technology (Devin Coldewey, NBC). Now I use a camera with film for stills, but this is slow and it is simply the pleasure (and difficulty) of producing a good shot - composing, shooting, developing and scanning - that I find satisfying. I had 8mm and Super 8 cameras years ago and do not think the same satisfaction comes into this: digital video works fine for most users.
Other HomeKit stuff from CES was outlined in an item by Dennis Sellers on AppleWorld Today.
A nice little solution for owners of MacBooks came from Griffin who have produced a USB-C Magsafe connector, which looks something like the Magsafe 1 to Magsafe 2 connector I have for my office: at least in principle (Chance Miller, 9to5 Mac). This is definitely a sensible accessory and I wonder why Apple didn't provide something like this.
Another product from Griffin is the Travel Power Bank, which is a charger for the Apple Watch, but as Nathan Ingraham (Engadget) found, that is about all it can charge.
As well as Home-Kit we are also thinking this year about the car market. I wrote a long article speculating on options in October. This week, Horace Dediu on ASYMCO analyses the sales of electric and hybrid cars, against the phone market, in the light of the Cook Doctrine: "We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution."
With current figures, it would not seem to be an attractive market to enter, but if there were a "modular alternative" that could make a significant difference. He quotes Toyota as a company who made such a difference.
This work, Bleeding Edge, looks at the period around 9/11 and the growth of internet-related companies. There are several interesting reminders in there, including Enron. One of the main characters, Gabriel Ice (whom I see as a sort of proto-Zuckerberg - at least so far) has a theory about moving server clusters to the north and using the excess heat to help communities there.
This week, Andrew Tarantola on Engadget, writes about the Q.rad home heater, which "harnesses the waste heat generated by its onboard microprocessors to warm your house" mentioning that major companies have been doing this for a while in industry.
While we are on headphones, this is something we might lose if there were a switch in the technology, but somehow I expect this would be carried over. Justine Figueroa on OMGFacts has a list of 11 things we can do with the click buttons on the cabloe for the ear buds. I know a couple of these but I did not know that there is a triple click; and more.
Among those services we may include ApplePay, even if it is not here, and not fully working in places like Australia where they have funny banks anyway. However, Joseph Keller reports on iMore that another 58 banks and credit unions in the USA have signed up, brining the total to 913.
Part of the translated document reads, "Self-development is only possible if you feel free to look at different sources of information and opinions." The document is in Dutch, but the Google translation for once makes sense.
Perhaps as an indication of the paranoia that exists in some circles, Mike Masnick reports on TechDirt about the former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee in the UK, Pauline Neville-Jones, who complains that "people looking at their mobile phones or listening to music/podcasts in public are a public nuisance, because they're not watching out for terrorists." Once again, I apologise for being British.
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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.
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