Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TheAppleBlog (6 сообщений)

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  • Greenpeace Hugs Apple, Kicks Sand At Dell

    Greenpeace — the fly in the ointment for tech firms — is lauding Apple while chastising Dell this morning. The do-gooders sent out a note pointing out that, while Apple’s wildly popular iPhone’s are free of PVC plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) (two nasty chemicals), Dell still hasn’t implemented its previous commitment to eliminate the two chemicals by the end of 2009.

    In Greenpeace’s latest Guide to Greener Electronics Dell is about average, and places 10 on a scale of 18, five places below competitor Apple. But while Dell has made some impressive moves to reduce its carbon footprint and has been offering more eco-friendly products (see the bamboo laptop), Greenpeace gave it a big old penalty point for backtracking on its commitment to eliminate PVC plastic and BFRs by 2009. Dell does pledge to remove the chemicals by the end of 2011 but only for computing products.

    It wasn’t long ago that Greenpeace was prodding Apple to disclose its carbon footprint, and become more aggressive on greening its gadgets. In a Business Week article last year, Apple’s fearless leader Steve Jobs noted that Greenpeace’s criticism of Apple was one of the motivations behind Apple unveiling its carbon footprint, its carbon accounting methods and Jobs pledging to make “a greener Apple.” Apple has since moved up in the ranks of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Gadgets where it is now #5.

    Dell and Apple have been longtime competitors in the marketplace, but also when it comes to getting recognition for their green projects. Last year, Dell took Apple to task over Apple’s claims that it had "the world's greenest family of notebooks" — first in a smackdown post on its company blog and later with a complaint filed with the advertising industry's self-regulator, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, or NAD. NAD concluded that Apple can legitimately market its latest generation of MacBooks as being greener than some product lines from a given competitor (the new MacBooks earn high Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, ratings) but that "world's greenest" has "potential for overstatement."

    Greenpeace’s ultimate goal is to get all of the tech companies to move more quickly to eliminate chemicals, recycle and reduce carbon footprints and pitting competitors against each other is a common strategy.

    Image courtesy of Greenpeace.

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • I Want an Apple MagicPad

    On the eve of this year’s WWDC, a photo showed up on Engadget rumored to be a new Apple product. I wanted so badly for this product to be real. I started drooling, dreaming of a $59 price tag and all of the amazingness this product could do for me as an end user.

    The product was a bluetooth Apple trackpad similar to what is built in to every Apple ntoebook, but would essentially replace the Magic Mouse that currently ships with the Mac mini, Mac Pro and iMac. Some people prefer a mouse but I prefer the trackpad and we all know that Apple makes the best trackpads in the world. If you don’t believe me, visit a Best Buy and try using similar trackpads on currently available PCs and you’ll be amazed at how bad they are.

    A Bluetooth trackpad that I’ve eloquently dubbed “MagicPad” (Magic Mouse = Trackpad) would be Apple’s next step into a buttonless world that it so desperately is striving for. The Magic Mouse has fewer buttons than the Mighty Mouse and this would be one button as the entire trackpad is, exactly like we are used to on Apple’s notebooks. It’s a more portable form factor than a mouse and gestures would be standard to the ones that already exist for the today’s trackpad.

    I hope this device is real and I hope it ships soon because I really would like a choice between mouse and trackpad and think this small peripheral would be a huge hit. Maybe I’m just dreaming and we’ll never see it because it was a two hour Photoshop job submitted to Engadget the evening before the keynote.

    Would you buy a MagicPad? Would it replace your Magic Mouse?

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Hey Apple: Forget About the Recall, Just Hand Out Free iPhone 4 Cases

    Apple’s iPhone 4 has the highest resolution for a smartphone and offers an easy method for wireless video calling, but it’s failing for some in a basic phone function — voice calling. The situation is causing outrage around the web and on Twitter: depending on who you ask, the innovative stainless-steel frame that doubles as an antenna is either the best or the worst feature. Apple claims the antenna offers the best reception ever, yet Consumer Reports testing confirms what many consumers are finding out firsthand: touching two specific parts of the frame simultaneously causes signal degradation.

    Surprisingly, Apple isn’t handling this public relations challenge very well. Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, reportedly emailed a complaining customer saying, “Just avoid holding it that way.” And just prior to a holiday weekend — possibly in an attempt to bury attention — the company issued a press release pushing much of the blame on U.S. carrier partner AT&T (t). Apple claims that all iPhones have been incorrectly overstating signal strength and that a software fix will address the problem soon. Clearly, the software update will fix the visual problem, but it’s highly unlikely that the antenna problem will be affected.

    At this point, the negative press shows no signs of abating over the iPhone 4 antenna issue and for that reason, the fastest and simplest solution should be considered — Apple should simply offer a free bumper to every iPhone 4 customer. While Apple would lose out on the $29 sales of such items — and the high profit margin they likely involve — the company could negate the bad press and make things right with its customers. And the fact that Apple never made iPhone cases or bumpers before isn’t lost on me I have to wonder when Apple actually realized the potential antenna issue.

    Regardless of when the problem was determined, the peace offering of a bumper is far less damaging in the long term and is a better way to handle the situation than allegedly deleting mentions of the Consumer Reports findings in Apple support discussions or recalling the phone as some have suggested. For a company that’s built upon brand loyalty, Apple simply can’t afford to not offer free iPhone 4 bumpers.

    Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

    Is an iPhone- and Android-Only World the Best We Can Do?

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  • Consumer Reports Won't Recommend the iPhone

    Consumer Reports has released testing results of the new iPhone 4 and has confirmed the alleged reception problem is indeed a function of the design of the phone’s antenna. The organization goes as far as refusing to recommend the iPhone 4 to consumers due to the severity of the problem. This flies in the face of Apple’s claims that the problem involves the software displaying the network signal strength, and not an actual reception problem.

    The consumer organization conducts product testing of all smartphones. Three iPhone 4s — purchased at different retail outlets — were tested in Consumer Reports’ in-house lab. This testing was conducted in a controlled environment impervious to outside signal anomalies, insuring that test results reflected the performance of the phone hardware alone. The findings from this testing were conclusive:

    When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side — an easy thing, especially for lefties — the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.

    Older model iPhones and other brand phones on the AT&T network were tested; none demonstrated the reception issue as observed on all the iPhone 4s. The results of these tests led Consumer Reports to doubt that the AT&T network is the primary cause of this problem on the iPhone 4.

    On a recent MobileTechRoundup podcast, I jokingly asked my co-hosts if duct tape could be used to cover the affected spot on the lower left side of the iPhone 4. Consumer Reports found that indeed placing a piece of non-conductive duct or masking tape over this area eliminates the problem. Using a case to cover it also makes the problem disappear.

    The full testing conducted on the iPhone 4 led Consumer Reports to determine that the phone is as good as other top smartphones, if the antenna issue was disregarded. But because maintaining a good network connection is pretty darn essential for a phone, this failing led the organization to withhold its recommendation for the iPhone 4.

    Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req'd.): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Instapaper: A Blog Reader's Killer Service

    Any power user or RSS lover that reads a lot of Mac-centric blogs may have heard of Instapaper which is most easily defined as “A simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” After only four days, I’m completely convinced that this is not a tool I could live without.

    Instapaper’s success is mostly due to the ease of getting content into it. I can send items to Instapaper via a bookmarklet, Chrome Extension, Firefox Extension, NetNewsWire and even my iPhone’s Twitter client. Saving any webpage to Instapaper takes two seconds on a 3G connection and I can read the full webpage (text & images only) on my iPad later.

    It’s difficult to write about Instapaper without sounding like a total fanboy, but it’s really incredible. It’s probably a good idea to explain how I use Instapaper throughout the day as part of my workflow. First, the app costs $4.99 as a universal app, which means you pay one price and it runs natively on both iPad and iPhone. This is a big deal as most developers will penalize or capitalize on users who own more than one type of device, but the developer feels $4.99 per user is a good price to pay. Of course, Instapaper is also web-based so, if you have an iPad with both Wi-Fi and 3G, the price of entry is free, but you won’t get the experience that’s offered from a native app.

    My Instapaper Routine

    I wake up at 7AM and grab my iPad and open my RSS app of choice, which at this time is Reeder. I expand the folder called “Tech News” and because a few of my favorite blogs truncate their feeds (only showing the first two lines of each post), I click on the ones that interest me and then click “Read it Later” and a small window shows up that says, “Sending to Instapaper” and after a second it’s done. I do this for about 45 items in the morning and especially for those feeds that are truncated. When in a rush, I’ll skip the iPad ritual and sit down at my iMac, open NetNewsWire and select a feed that’s also preview only and click Option+P and the post sends to Instapaper. The result is fast and painless…if only I could do this in batches by selecting multiple posts and sending them all to Instapaper.

    Just before heading out to catch the bus, I open the Instapaper app on both my iPad and iPhone and in under a minute, all posts have downloaded to the device ready to be viewed on the bus, subway and train that I take to get to my work 20 miles south of San Francisco. Instapaper caches the text and images and sometimes advertisements (but not always) of every post I’ve marked to read later.

    While on my way to work, I can click on a post, view it in portrait or landscape mode and adjust the font type, size and brightness to meet my preference. When the train goes in a tunnel, I can switch the text to white on black as to not disturb people sitting next to me with the ultra bright display. Once I arrive at work, I hit the sync button in Instapaper to make sure the cloud is up to date with what I’ve read, archived and even where I left off on an article prior to closing the app when I arrive at the office.

    Instapaper stays in sync across all devices and with the website which makes consuming news on my time so much easier as it’s like a DVR for news reading and because the data is cached. It works great with my iPad Wi-Fi as I only have an Internet connection at home, work and sometimes at Starbucks where I stop to get a coffee before boarding the train.

    During the Day

    At work, I don’t have the luxury of slacking off and reading RSS feeds (which I subscribe to over 70 of). Instead, I see links posted in tweets by friends, articles in my RSS feed and miscellaneous stories or posts that I want to read where before I’d have to bookmark in Safari can finally be marked as “Read it Later” and available on my iPad for the commute home. I find myself really reading more content more attentively since I’m not rushing through a post in an effort to avoid getting caught slacking off by my boss and things I’d skip because they were too long fit perfectly in the long commute. The only downfall is that I might rush to catch the train home and forget to sync the iPad with Instapaper and I’m stuck with a blank screen for that long ride home. Oh well, there’s always a book waiting for me in iBooks.

    Even for people who don’t have a long commute, Instapaper allows your to save posts just as I have and read those on your lunch break or at night before bed. Instead of emailing URLs to yourself or bookmarking them, you’re just opening Instapaper and reading clear crisp text content with no other web ads or ultra distracting elements like navigation bars or comments to distract you. From Instapaper, you can click a button and view the full article in the built-in web browser if you’re connected to the Internet.

    Of course, if you like commenting on blogs, Instapaper isn’t for you. It’s just reading and it’s the best way to read blogs on the go and a perfect example of how good cloud based services can be if executed properly. If only Apple could manage iOS documents and other data using such a perfect way as Instapaper does, we’d be much happier mobile users. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few unread posts to read from today that I must read.

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Apple's iPod is Not Dead and Not Dying

    Apple’s iconic iPod digital music player is credited for reviving the company and helping the it dominate consumer mind share and spending over the past decade. It still amazes me when I think about all of the MP3 players and companies who failed and the music stores that are now on life support and how badly Apple has hurt Sony, Microsoft and other companies who bet millions on defeating the iPod. One of my greatest fears has started to come true where analysts are now throwing the notion out there that the iPod is dead or dying.

    We all knew this was coming when analysts first asked that same question upon the introduction of iPhone then iPad but now we’re at a point where it’s clear that the iPod isn’t key to Apple’s success in earnings and shareholders don’t have to worry about consumers growing tired of the iPod or music in general (as if that’s ever going to happen). The iPhone, iPad and Mac are the largest legs of Apple’s business and iPod is just iPod.

    Of course, Apple has sold hundreds of millions of iPods and a solid 50 percent of its stock value as it skyrocketed from 2004-2008 is due to the iPod, but its impact on Apple’s bottom line is dropping with every new iPhone release. I was enthralled in a piece featured on AppleInsider written by Andy Zaky. The piece took a logical and very up front look at Apple’s iPod segment in how it relates to the market, Apple’s bottom line and raw sales and opened my eyes to just how well the nine year old music player is holding up.

    Before I review a bit of the findings in Andy’s research, I’d like to point out that Apple is approaching a 10 year dominance in a huge market with one product line. Yes, I know the iPod has seen many revisions and form factors but it’s digital music and Apple still maintains 70 percent market share for MP3 players. That’s incredible when you think of the thousands of competitors and dozens of music stores aimed directly at Apple and let’s hope the same fate is in store for iPhone. If you ever had an argument whether a closed system is good for the consumer, look no further than iPod’s success.

    Health of the iPod and Apple’s bottom line

    Analysts who measure Apple’s stock value based on trends, market health, future products and current sales will look at this figure when calling the death of iPod:

    This chart shows the iPod’s decline in percentage of Apple’s revenue has dropped from 55 percent during 2005′s Winter sales to 24 percent upon the introduction of the first iPhone. Naturally, analysts were freaking out a bit and today’s 8.6 percent for a product that once made up for half of their revenue is a reason to be quite worried. Prior to the iPhone 3G’s release in 2008, I did see a few reports that spurred a sharp decline in AAPL that year, mostly because the iPod was selling to a saturated market where everyone that wanted one already had one and features like an FM receiver weren’t enough for most users to upgrade.

    Of course, anyone reading this blog knows that the iPhone has iPod built right in and, of the iPods sold, the App Store enabled iPod touch completely dominates sales compared to the nano, shuffle or classic models. Apple sells an iPod every time you buy an iPhone, but it’s clear that the iPod isn’t the golden egg for Apple any more, but have people stopped buying iPods? Is the iPod dead? This data proves otherwise.

    Compared to 2006 numbers, when the iPod was nearly half of Apple’s quarterly profit, iPod sales have actually risen from 8.5 million units per quarter (non-holiday) to an average of 10 million per quarter. This is huge and over half of iPod sales in the past year (based on rumors and Apple Store public iPod sales chart review), the iPod touch makes up for a majority of iPod sales. The iPod is stronger than it was in 2006, which was a year before the iPhone came out. The iPod isn’t dead or dying; it’s stronger than ever.

    Why does it feel like the iPod is dead?

    I may have a bit of bias here, but in big cities, the iPod is a device you simply don’t see anymore. Instead, you see one or two iPods for every 10 iPhones or iPads. The reason is that the iPod is a part of our touch devices and we don’t need the extra device in our bag or pocket.

    Another fact is that, other than Apple’s yearly iPod event (that happens every September like clockwork), Apple doesn’t push the iPod at every keynote like it did before the iPhone. Now, the App Store, iPhone and iPad get all of the attention, and rightly so. You may pay $199 for an iPhone 4, but that’s after carrier subsidy. In fact, AT&T (s att0 pays the rest of the bill, which to Apple is between $499 and $699 for every iPhone sold for a product that costs less than $200 in parts to build, so profits of the iPhone are significantly higher than the sale of an iPod nano, and paired with Apple’s 30 percent cut of the sales of every app you buy for the iPhone and it’s obvious which device is more profitable.

    It’s too early to call the death of iPod. Its impact on Apple’s earnings may get smaller, especially if the iPad sales continue to rise and Apple’s next TV appliance is the killer iOS based device that we’re all hoping for, but 10 million units a quarter is not small potatoes and iPod continues to do well for the foreseeable future. That shrinking percentage of iPod’s impact on Apple’s sales is only because the amount of money Apple is making from its other segments is growing at an astronomical rate as seen here:

    This was mostly a summary of the data Andy reviewed over at AppleInsider. Both parts one and two are worth a read for anyone that follows Apple closely and enjoys data that backs up the usual speculation.

    Do you still own an iPod? Do you also have an iPhone and do you use both on a daily basis?

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