eXtensions - Sunday 5 May 2024

Sunday Notes: Adobe Sells Out Photographers; Home Pods Finally in Thailand; iPad Pro Surprises; Apple Q2 2024 figures and Comments

By Graham K. Rogers


Adobe's new approach to AI seems to be that if businesses subscribe to Firefly they won't need photographers. The Home Pod is arriving in Thailand at long last if anyone does not already have decent speakers. Speculation on iPad Pro and M4 chips. Reduced orders for the Vision Pro: storm in a teacup? Apple Q2 2024 results and the curate's egg.

I am not really a fan of Adobe. For what I want, Photoshop is overkill and there are plenty of good alternatives. Apple's Aperture was far better for my workflow (including iCloud) than Lightroom. I was done with Adobe when the company moved to subscriptions which several other developers have now followed (and lost me as user). As some users have discovered, if a payment is missed for whatever reason (user's fault or not) the data and the software could be rendered unusable.

Now Adobe has upset photographers by the implications of its new Firefly features, which suggests that the photoshoot could be avoided just by entering a few key words into its AI software. Jeremy Gray (PetaPixel) is scathing about the approach which reduces photographers to the level of typists: press the right keys and the work appears. He suggests that Adobe is mainly concerned about shareholders and this is aimed at businesses. After all, if they could save the cost of hiring a photographer and still have good images, who cares? I don't need to make money from my photographs and just do it because I enjoy what I do; but highly skilled photographers, many with considerable investments in equipment, staff and time, do need to sell their work.


I had a surprise this week when I opened an email from iStudio and saw the Apple Home Pod featured. These were not previously available here, and now, just before the arrival of other new devices (see below) they are finally on offer for 11490 baht. The Home Pod mini is also shown at 3,890 baht. When I originally wanted suitable speakers these were not available here so I checked out what was on sale and decided on the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 which I picked up for about 17,000 baht some 3 years ago. It gives a solid sound output despite being only a single unit (more than one speaker of course), but the B & O app allows the user to set up a stereo system. On that output, as well as music, I use the speaker for commentary of the motorcycle grand prix races (MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3) where the informed output from the experts, including Simon Crafar, a former GP winner, makes the racing even more interesting.

Apple Home Pod mini
Home Pod mini - Image courtesy of Apple

I did check out the iStudio in Siam Paragon but found the Apple speakers were not arriving until 10 May. The helpful assistant asked if I wanted to be informed and I agreed (they already have my details anyway in that store) noting an interest in one large unit or two small ones. The size of my condo means these may work well. As this would be the first Friday after the Apple event next week, one wonders what other surprises will be coming our way.

A friend recently had some problems with his M2 MacBook Pro: water and electronics do not mix. After listing the parts that the fix would probably need, with a warning that the display could also be affected, he was left with an estimate of 23 - 25,000 baht plus VAT. He took it in to the Apple Store at Central World early this week and was sent a message Thursday evening to say it was ready. When he collected it, the fee was just over 500 baht. Apple had absorbed the costs of the repair. I told him that with that luck he should go and buy a lottery ticket right away.

I mentioned last time that there had been some suggestions that Apple could miss the M3 chip and update the Mac mini sometime this year straight to the M4. It certainly sounded feasible as the M4 is said to be well on the development road. Later on Sunday, Mark Gurman's newsletter made a further, related suggestion. Noting that the iPad Pro is expected to be announced on 7 May, he claims that this will not have the expected M3 chip but will go straight to the M4. As someone who is keen to purchase the new iPad, this certainly appeals to me, but I am doubtful. We shall see.

This rumor was, of course, widely circulated, causing great excitement, although John Gruber was somewhat skeptical with regard to the timeline, noting that the M3 was only announced in November. Also expressing doubts is Stephen Warwick (iMore) who has a close look at this rumor outlining a number of reasons why this surprise possibility is less likely.

Apple M1 iPad Pro
M1 iPad Pro

One solid reason is that the M4 has not yet appeared in a Mac, so why would it be made available in an iPad Pro first? I immediately thought of sales: Macs sell less well than iPads. There are other good reasons in the article. Like Warwick, I would be happy to be proved wrong about the M4 in the iPad Pro. A problem regarding this sort of rumor, is that many (like me) have their expectations heightened and if these are not met - the iPad has the M3 chip and not the M4 - we feel let down and some would blame Apple, when the fault is elsewhere.

Later, David Price of MacWorld, produced an article which argued against the M4 being in the next iPad Pro from a logical point of view. When it comes to marketing and sales he should have remembered that Apple does not always apply the same logical processes as the rest of us. It is more a form of pragmatism. But that still will not give us the answer. That will come when the devices are announced next week. In the other camp, Jason Cross (MacWorld) makes an equally good case for why it makes sense that the next iPad Pro would be equipped with the M4 chip

Apple Vision Pro
Vision Pro - Image courtesy of Apple

With the approach to the quarterly figures there are always negative stories about Apple. With the release of the Vision Pro devices in the USA now a few months past, we would expect there would be reduced orders from the rush on day one. When I saw the story that Apple was reducing orders for the device, something nagged at the back of my mind. Wasn't Apple expected to release the device in Europe, in China? Jonny Evans has similar thoughts and wonders if the reduced orders are as a result of Apple having stockpiled enough devices for these expected launches.

Although Apple was expected to have a poor quarter, in comparison with other Q2 results (MacDaily News), the future may be brighter. With the expected announcements of the new iPads and other devices early next week, Apple may also be tempted to drop hints about the future of the Vision Pro. Apple promised that it would be released "outside the US" this year and that would please the markets.

We are also reading rumors about WWDC that will be held in June. The next version of iOS (18) is expected to have AI features, including an AI update to Safari (Roman Loyola, MacWorld) that allows web pages to be summarized. Loyola outlines other new features which could be available on iOS 18 and macOS 15, including updates to Notes and Calendar.

The Q2 report was not as bad as had been predicted (I have written that a number of times before) with some areas, like Services and Macs doing quite well. It was known that iPhone sales would be lower, but in the Conference Call, it was explained how, with some adjustment of last year's figures the financial effect was not nearly as bad as some had warned. Michael E. Cohen (TidBits) explains this. The Apple press release stated,

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2024 second quarter ended March 30, 2024. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $90.8 billion, down 4 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.53.

"Today Apple is reporting revenue of $90.8 billion for the March quarter, including an all-time revenue record in Services," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "During the quarter, we were thrilled to launch Apple Vision Pro and to show the world the potential that spatial computing unlocks. We're also looking forward to an exciting product announcement next week and an incredible Worldwide Developers Conference next month. As always, we are focused on providing the very best products and services for our customers, and doing so while living up to the core values that drive us."

"Thanks to very high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, our active installed base of devices has reached a new all-time high across all products and all geographic segments, and our business performance drove a new EPS record for the March quarter," said Luca Maestri, Apple's CFO. "Given our confidence in Apple's future and the value we see in our stock, our Board has authorized an additional $110 billion for share repurchases. We are also raising our quarterly dividend for the twelfth year in a row."

Apple's board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $0.25 per share of the Company's common stock, an increase of 4 percent. The dividend is payable on May 16, 2024 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 13, 2024. The board of directors has also authorized an additional program to repurchase up to $110 billion of the Company's common stock.

A number of online sources made useful comments regarding the results and the conference call that followed:

Apple's share price rose after the announcement bringing it closer to the highs seen in December. Just after that, with all the dire Wall Street warnings there was a drop, until the Q1 results when the stock price rose again. Looking back at the charts over 2, 5 and 10 years this is a pattern: rise, drop, rise again. And those drops are usually caused by negative reports from so-called respected analysts who often drop the bad news just before the Quarterly results: share price falls, sell; results, share price rises, buy. If the timing is right, the roller coaster could be profitable to those with large investments.

A note on the outline above and my reference to the curate's egg which may need explaining in cultural terms. This was originally in a 1895 Punch cartoon. The curate (a church officer) had a bad egg, but was so polite that he dismissed this as being, "good in parts" - like Apple's results perhaps.

Apple Store, Central World
Apple Store, Central World, Bangkok

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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