eXtensions - Sunday 11 April 2021
Sunday Notes: Apple Sales ups and downs; Tim Cook Interview; Thoughts on new Macs, iPads, iOS and macOS
By Graham K. Rogers
Right on time a report in 9to5 Mac (Benjamin Mayo) says that there could be a problem with enough chips for the next M-series Macs. As I read the headline in a news feed - having written about the Apple financial report later this month - I said to myself, I bet this is a report from Nikkei. I was not wrong. There does seem to be a pattern in that as soon as Apple reports good news or, as in this case, its upcoming financial report, out come the negatives.
Nikkei was not alone, with analysts also lowering the target price, despite good reports coming from China and hints that iPhone sales are still into record numbers. Within a few hours, several other online comments were available, all repeating the Nikkei report analysis, and all predicting delays for the next Macs. As the release dates for these new products had not been announced - we only had rumors of anticipated products - these may only be delays in the eyes of these analysts.
M1 Macs - Image courtesy of Apple
Cast your minds back to when Cook became CEO. His elevation had been decided months before because Steve Jobs knew he was dying and with his illness would eventually be unable to lead Apple. As Cook had been hired by Jobs - an astute decision - his experience outside and as Apple COO stood him in good stead as temporary CEO and eventually CEO.
However none of that stopped the speculation after it was clear Jobs was terminally ill; and when Cook became CEO the attacks on him from all sides, with several articles insisting that Apple replace him with their preferred candidates, continued for a long time. Even when the figures began improving it was not Cook's doing, it was the legacy of Jobs.
With the massive growth of Apple since that time and with several products that have exceeded expectations, it might be safe to say that Cook is now responsible for Apple's continued success. However, there are those who would still want to deny this. An example could be Apple silicon. Decisions for the development of such products and the eventual release of the M1 Macs would have been made around 8-10 years ago, with a full green light perhaps 5 years ago. One of the main architects for the foundations of the project is Johnny Srouji who was hired in 2008, just after the iPhone release. Therefore, some may argue, Apple silicon and the M-series Macs are not Cook's but a legacy of Steve Jobs. I do not hold that position.
The interview with Karen Swisher is on the New York Times site and also covers a number of other ideas of concern to Apple watchers, including the car (the autonomy itself is a core technology) and Rebecca Bellan on TechCrunch has some comments on that. There is also a follow up to the inevitable successor question by Roman Loyola (Macworld). Readers suggest a number of potential candidates, with Craig Federighi at the top of the list. On stage he plays up the joker but he has some serious credentials as well as being firmly in control of the information he presents. Others were Jeff Daniels, the almost-reclusive COO; Greg Joswiak, no (I have seen him at close quarters). I would also exclude the ridiculous zombie Steve Jobs (offensive), and Steve's children.
OWC Thunderbolt Hub
CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 cables
As it is holiday time I usually bring the MacBook Air home from the office to keep it up to date on a proper network; but this time, as the office network was not synchronising Photos, I also bought the Mac mini home too. I set that up with the HP monitor and the data was up to date within a few minutes. There were several updates ready too which downloaded quickly. I have had that Mac mini for over 4 years and it never misses a beat. I have had 3 or 4 of these since they were initially released, as well as a couple of test devices. It is a relatively low-priced entry level machine and these are also widely used as servers, with some organizations like MacStadium racking hundreds of them together. A single Mac mini starts at $59/month (1800 baht).
A mix of Macs: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini
Apple could indeed have a problem with sales of Macs in the next few months, but not in the way analysts are predicting. Apple stated late last year that its whole line of Intel Macs is to be replaced by Apple Silicon. This sets Apple up for its own Osborne Effect: something that Apple has been careful to avoid (since Osborne Computer Corporation pre-announced its Osborne Executive in 1981). Some people may already be holding off purchasing new computers, waiting for the M series replacements to arrive. As soon as Apple announced, as part of the Big Sur demonstration at WWDC last June, that new Macs were coming, I started saving, but if I had been ready to replace a Mac at that stage I would have delayed the purchase. Sales of current stock are continuing, but it is noticeable that several online sources have begun to reduce prices of these quite considerably. For example the Mac mini has been seen at around 50% ticket price, and there are other computers also with generous deductions.
Not a rumor but an update to how iCloud works, is the information that Find My will work with 3rd party devices. I. Bonifacic (Engadget) reports that the first of these compatible devices are expected to arrive next week, including "Belkin's Soundform earbuds and the Chipolo One Spot item tracker". There is a certification process, similar to the Home app authorization I expect, and once they have been authorized the devices can be added. There are more details in the article about how manufacturers could make improve accuracy: more precise, more directionally aware.
On another legal point, recently Apple upset a lot of people with its action regarding the pear logo a company was using. A lot of people (myself included) thought this was pushing the pome likeness a bit far. This week Hartley Charlton, Apple Rumors, reports that Apple is seeking to block the use of a logo that really is similar. Although the bite is missing, there are markings on the apple body, and the leaf cluster has been changed, it really does bear more than a passing resemblance to Apple's logo, so there is perhaps a case to answer here, even though the product (water) is not one that Apple sells. It does however sell, "mugs, thermal bottles, and water bottles" at Cupertino.
Apple Watch 6
Have I been Pwned - No
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. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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