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Archive for July, 2008

What is Next for Apple?

July 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Apple’s third quarter financial Conference Call on Monday once again proved their skill in using vagueness as a tool to create buzz.  Look for the mysterious product reference in the paragraph below…

We expect gross margin to be about 31.5%, reflecting approximately $23 million related to stock-based compensation expense, down from 34.8% in the June quarter. This sequential decline is expected due to three primary factors; first, the full quarter impact of the back-to-school promotion; second, a future product transition, which I can’t discuss today; and third, the one-time true-up of our contract manufacturer deferred margin that we realized in the June quarter.

Then there was more:

We are working to develop new products that contains technologies that our competition will not be able to match. I cannot discuss these new products, but we are very confident in our product pipeline.

– Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, during Apple’s Q308 Financial Results Conference Call, July 21, 2008

“A future product transition” is all they are going to give us?  That’s just pure marketing genius.  So now the speculation begins (which is part of the fun, of course).

Look for one of the following from Apple in the next 60 days:

1. Revamped MacBook ProImages have surfaced showing a possible new casing for the MacBook Pro, though these images don’t tell us very much.  The MacBook Pro is due for change, so this is probably the most likely of announcements for the next 60 days.

2. A Touch-Screen Mac.  I believe the rumors about the “MacBook Touch.”  The timing seems perfect for this kind of product from Apple and if anyone can pull it off, they can.

3. An Updated Mac Mini.  This one is least likely, but this is a product that is due for some excitement with a design change and perhaps some cheaper prices on Apple’s monitors to create an even more attractive bundle.

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Apple Handles MobileMe Mess Up With Class

July 19, 2008 Leave a comment

MobileMe

When Apple launched MobileMe last Friday, most of the focus was on the activation problems everyone was having with their new or newly updated iPhones.  However, the iPhone problems weren’t the only thorn in Apple’s side that day.  Many MobileMe subscribers were not able to login at all on Friday.  Others were couldn’t sync or found out that the “push” service, which was promised to push updated info on your calendar to all your devices instantly, was seeing a 15 minute delay on all your devices except the iPhone.

Fortunately, Apple made an announcement on Wednesday that acknowledged the problems.  With their apology they are “giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension to their MobileMe subscription free of charge.”

This move is more evidence that Apple is still taking the right steps when it comes to taking care of their customers.  Anyone can search for and find horror stories on the Internet that are the exception, but the MobileMe situation makes it clear that they want to keep the masses happy, even after closing the sale.

Click to see the text from the email that MobileMe subscribers received…

iPhone’s Remote Control App

July 17, 2008 Leave a comment

If you have an iPhone and haven’t downloaded Remote, stop what you are in the middle of and do it now.

When I first read of the iPhone as a remote, I imagined a limited but functional remote control which would allow stopping/playing and skipping to previous or next song.

Remote goes a few steps further by allowing you to view playlists and control the volume. When a song is playing, it shows you the album art and the controls you need to go to any point in the song.

The only setup required involves having iTunes open and giving you a special code that you will need to type into iTunes to make the link to the iPhone. After that, you are ready to remotely control iTunes with your iPhone or iPod Touch.

The app requires Wi-Fi, and can control any iTunes-loaded computer on the network. It works great with a Mac, and I just confirmed that it also works on a Windows PC.  It’s available for free in the App Store.

Thinking of Switching from Windows to Mac?

July 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Two terrific articles for those of you considering a move from a Windows PC to a Mac.

First, Walt Mossberg posted a helpful article with some basic tips to help a new Mac user who has been accustomed to the Windows way of doing things.  It’s at All Things Digital.

Second, if you want a more complete article about making the switch, Peter Bright is in the middle of a multi-part series at Ars Technica about his “conversion” from Windows to Mac.  If you want the behind-the-scenes story, including some Apple and Microsoft history, check it out.  It is lengthy, but so far it has been worth the read.

iPhone 3G: First Impressions

July 12, 2008 1 comment

Without diving into the frustrations surrounding the activation problems that 99.9% of new iPhone owners experienced, I am glad to report that I now own a 16GB black iPhone 3G. Overall I am thrilled with it and don’t regret joining the line in Nashville at 5:45 a.m. yesterday morning. It was actually fun, thanks to my wife who came along and some terrific people next to me in line.

The iPhone 3G feels great in your hand, it’s size being a good balance between providing enough screen real estate and not being too large to carry around. The new iPhone design is not much different from the first version, but this one has even more of that intangible Zen-like quality to it.

The screen has the capability to be very bright. I’ve kept it at about 70% indoors, which is plenty of brightness for viewing photos, movies or the internet. When going outside, the auto-brightness feature cranks up the meter, and I was able to see my contact list without a problem.

The GPS is amazing. I tracked myself on the way home from work and it followed me perfectly. This feature alone is worth the upgrade!

3G is obviously much faster than the EDGE network, so the speed increase was clear. Safari loaded pages at a much more tolerable rate and Mail pulled in about 70 messages from my various accounts in a very short time. Surfing the internet on the 3G network will be a completely different experience for you if you currently have the original iPhone.

I’ve surfed enough of the App Store to realize that it will be a great addition to the iPhone experience. There are plenty of useful, free apps available to get you started along with others which can be had for a small charge (usually around the $3-$10 mark, though I’ve seen a one as high as $79.99).

The only negative was a problem I had with Wi-Fi which required a complete system restore. For some reason, the iPhone would not switch to a Wi-Fi network that I was clearly connected to already. Once I restored the original system and wiped it, Wi-Fi worked as advertised.

Now that the activation problems are over, get your hands on the new iPhone if at all possible. It’s some of Apple’s best work.

iPhone 3G Liftoff!

July 11, 2008 Leave a comment

It’s 7:30 a.m. CDT and I’m in line for the iPhone 3G at my local AT&T store.  I will be posting a first impressions review later today.

The frenzied hype will peak in T-Minus 30 minutes.

iPhone 3G Exchange Support

July 10, 2008 17 comments

I cannot find any definite word on AT&T’s web site on whether or not a person will need the AT&T business data plan ($45) to sync with an Exchange server and Outlook at work

According to CNET, “a business data plan is required when using iPhone to access corporate e-mail, company intranet sites, and/or other business solutions/applications.”  But the link they reference doesn’t mention it as a requirement, though it is implied.

The most confusing part is that original iPhones will get Exchange server support with the 2.0 software update, and AT&T hasn’t said that these original iPhone users will need to change their data plan to use the Exchange feature.

I’m betting that my personal data plan will allow me to access my Exchange Server at work without a problem.  We’ll see about that tomorrow!

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