eXtensions - Thursday 11 April 2024

Thursday Notes: Apple Q2 2024 and new iPads; Dorna & Liberty; Ripley Noire

By Graham K. Rogers


Apple quarterly figures are to be announced early next month, so expect several negative reports from analysts before the day. The Q2 2024 figures will be out around the time that the new iPad is announced, according to the latest rumors. I thought it was a sophisticated April Fool's spoof at first, but Liberty Media (the F1 people) are going into a partnership with Dorna (MotoGP). Apple has a few saccharine series currently (Invasion and Foundation are still on the way), but there is raw meat over on Netflix with Ripley, followed by Baby Reindeer.

Today is the last day in Thailand before the annual escape to the provinces for the water wars. Those who remain in Bangkok have two main areas (loved by locals and tourists alike) at Silom Road and Khaosan Road. At the latter an international news organization will rent a first floor room and take clips of the event, although their reporters do eventually have to descend to the street level as the bosses need on the ground comment. I wish them well. I will be safely locked away for the next few days.

Apple has announced that its Q2 2024 financial report will be on 2 May 2024, which could coincide with the ever-moving date that new iPads are to be made available (Mark Gurman says 6 May). As an appetizer to the figures, MacDaily News writes that "TSMC reported a 16.5% rise in first-quarter revenue on Wednesday, beating market expectations". If TSMC is doing well, that could well mean that Apple is also selling lots of devices.

Surely coincidentally, but seemingly following a pattern, DigiTimes put out a negative report (Joe Rossignol, MacRumors) on the apparently-delayed iPads (not that Apple has said anything about a date). We have been told by several sites that these delays are due to difficulties producing the OLED screens, but now we hear that there have been problems with cameras too. That's a new one. It is also now reported (another rumor - Joe Rossignol, MacRumors) that there is to be no special event, but the new products will be announced via a press release.

That would be unusual but certainly economical: no press to fly in from other countries, including hotel accommodation; no video production; and no other additional expenses. It has an attraction, but I am not convinced Apple will follow this path, especially because of the time since the previous iPad Pro devices were released (leave alone other products that might be announced around the same time).

worn iPad Pro

I am keen to have the new iPad Pro, not just because of the rumored M3 chip, but I want a new folio case with keyboard. My own has taken a beating in the last couple of years, although the iPad Pro has stood up to my handling. The case-cum-keyboard is an essential for me, as is the Apple Pencil. There is rumored to be a new one of these coming too. I dropped the first one I had and that was unrepairable, needing an immediate replacement.

I must have dropped my Apple Pencil 2 again last week as when I arrived home the Pencil was with the iPad, but the tip was missing. I did a thorough search of the bags, but found nothing. The next morning, I saw the top half of the tip on the floor. When I looked, the other part - the part that screws into the Pencil, was still there. I put the broken part onto the end and the Pencil did still write, but the tip would have to be replaced. Using the end of a penknife, I carefully rotated the embedded part until there was enough for me to unscrew it with my fingers.

Apple Pencil Tips Apple Pencil Tips Apple Pencil Tips

At the local mall, there is an iStudio (by Com7) - the retail franchise system that exists throughout Thailand, although there are now two Apple Stores in Bangkok. Prices of Apple products are controlled in the iStudio stores, but third party accessories may be different. A staff member in the store allowed me to try the tip from a display Apple Pencil. That worked properly, so I bought a pack of 4 tips and was on my way. I used 1 and the other 3 are now safely in my office.

One of my first checks when I wake up, along with the weather and air pollution figures, is the iTunes App Store to download any updates. On Thursday morning just before 6am here, there was a warning that the app could not load. I tried a couple of times with the same result switching to 5G in case there was a router problem, although web sites loaded with no difficulty. The Apple Store here was accessible. App Store access was unfortunately the same on the iPad.

I kept trying to access the App Store and at around 6:30am, the bottom menu on the page did load, but the app was still reporting problems. A few minutes later (6:38am) all was fine. I also tried the iPad and that was now loading too.

I later saw confirmation that this was not my problem but something that was affecting several Apple services. A report by Joe Rossignol on MacRumors also listed several other services that had been suffering outages.

I have had several minor shocks lately: Apple ending the Titan project (now working on home robots apparently); the takeover of RED video cameras by Nikon; Canva buying Serif (Affinity Photo et al). This week, I had a new shock, but as it was announced on 1 April, I didn't believe it at first. I still find it hard to believe. Dorna is partnering with Liberty Media: the guys who took over Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management. They eased him out not long afterwards.

From my point of view as a fan of Grand Prix racing since the engines were in the front, Ecclestone had certainly improved the media coverage of Formula One, although it could have been better. He also made a lot of money for himself and the F1 circus. I no longer watch live races as all my viewing is through Netflix and AppleTv+. It would have been a waste of money subscribing each year to the local channel that carries the races: there are only 24 events annually and I would watch nothing else. As there is a contract with the local TV company, the Formula One live feeds via apps are not available here, unlike the Dorna MotoGP feeds.

When the MotoGP feeds became available here I subscribed as soon as I could and enjoy live races with no advertising breaks, plus an excellent team of well-informed commentators. Only Martin Brundle and David Croft on Sky Sports provide such a high level of input and knowledge. As well as MotoGP (the top class), there are Moto2 and Moto3, each of which provides much excitement. Dorna also provides commentary in other languages. There is a collection of past and historic races.

Moto3 screenshot
Screenshot from Moto3 Race - June 2021

With some races in different time zones, instead of staying up late, I pick up the recording the next day at my convenience. For example, I will watch this Sunday's US MotoGP on Monday. There were some problems with the feed quality using the AppleTv app a couple of years ago, but I now watch the races on the iPad Pro (with a decent Bluetooth speaker) and that serves me well. In short, I have been happy with the service provided. Now Liberty looms despite promises that nothing will change (like Canva and Serif). We are told that the two race systems (F1 and MotoGP) will be run separately.

It became clear in the days after April Fools Day that this was no spoof. As with Serif customers, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from motorcycle aficionados. Articles in trade-related publications confirmed that this was real; and even Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna's head) pragmatically commented that he would not be there for ever (Bernardo Matias, Motorcycle Sports), noting that at 76 he had been running Dorna for a fair while now. I would expect that changes will trickle down initially, but at some stage in the next 5 or 10 years, Liberty would want to put its stamp on MotoGP and there would be new methods of monetization. I do not see me unsubscribing in the foreseeable future, but Liberty should remember the most important rule of motorcycle maintenance: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Earlier in the week, I had a phone call that rang once and stopped. Perhaps a wrong number? When I had a moment I looked to see who had called. I did not recognize the number which began with a strange code: 697. I wondered which country this was and expected that someone was trying to sell me something. I initially looked through a list of country codes, but it was not shown. A Google search showed me something else. It was indeed an unsolicited call, but the number indicated that it was a voice call over IP. A number that begins with 698 indicates a Thai telephone number on roaming. The NBTC pondered local carriers to add these prefixes to numbers to provide a warning for customers (The Nation). Google lists several sources that carried the information.

My TV viewing the last few weeks, particularly on Netflix has been rather satisfying. I followed Guy Ritchie's, The Gentlemen, with the science fiction, Three Body Problem and hope that there will be follow up series of both. A new series based on a series by Patricia Highsmith, Ripley, was next and this has me hooked too.

Dominic Minghella's movie version (1999) with Matt Damon and Jude Law was abbreviated. The movie medium rarely allows long productions, with around 2 hours being the maximum. I read Lucy Mangan's positive review in the Guardian which said this new series was "noirish" but with the lighting, the perspectives and the filming angles, this looked as if it had stepped out of the age of Hitchcock and related masters. She rightly praises Andrew Scott who suitably creepy and weak throughout. On Rotten Tomatoes, he is described as "reptilian". The series was directed by Steven Zaillian who won an Oscar and other awards for best adapted screenplay: Schindler's List.

So far there has not been enough real analysis of the movie and its filming. I shall look forward to that. The last few days have seen a couple of other useful reviews: Peter Bradshaw (Guardian), "Best of frenemies: why Tom Ripley is a psychopath made for social media" writes that, it is "a seven-star luxury hotel of a TV show in arthouse black-and-white" (and links to the Mangan review); while Rebecca Wilson (Guardian) clearly likes the "moody black-and-white posturing", but notes that others are less impressed.

Baby Reindeer screenshot
Screenshot from Netflix trailer for Baby Reindeer

Over on AppleTV a new series, starring Colin Farrell, which attempts to be noire (but only in the first episode we are told) was also reviewed by Laura Miller (Slate). The comments were enthusiastic, tying this in with Chandler and Philip Marlowe so referencing noire theatre, although it was less a critique than outlining the plot. While I am still watching Ripley and there are other enticing series on the way from Netflix, like Baby Reindeer (Rebecca Nicholson, Guardian) which arrives today (11 April). This is about stalking. The sub-heading of the linked review tells us that this "features the most chilling TV episode of the entire year". I guess that is going to keep my attention away from AppleTV for the moment.

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 X (@extensions_th). The RSS feed for the articles is http://www.extensions.in.th/ext_link.xml - copy and paste into your feed reader.


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