Apple had a busy week with the launch of the iPad mini, new imacs, new Mac minis, the Retina Display 13-inch MacBook Pro, and fourth generation iPad. That, and the company also reported its fourth fiscal quarter earnings -- which, as expected, was a lot. Mac OS Ken's Ken Ray dives into all of that, and still has time to look at a new lawsuit against Apple that seems kind of lame.
It's iPad mini-iMac-Fusion Drive-iPad Time
One thing you can say about the rumor mill: it's accuracy of late has been annoyingly spot on. The biggest surprise from this week's iPad mini event in San Jose was the fact that the event was live streamed. In a decent sized way.
The presentation was made available via Macs running running Snow Leopard or later and Safari 4 or later. iOS devices could get it as long as they were running version 4.2 or later of that operating system. And finally, it was very much available through Apple's digital living room hobby puck, the Apple TV 2nd or 3rd generation.
In fact there's currently an Apple Events tile on the start screen of content tiles for the media streaming device. Not only did it provide access to the live event, it's one of the places people can replay the event, as well as the past five or six Apple events, including the September iPhone 5 event and Apple's New York City event introducing iBooks Author earlier this year.
The event is also available on Apple's site and as a podcast through iTunes, so if you didn't see it, plenty of ways to do so.
Apple introduced a new Mac mini, about which I know I'm supposed to care more than I actually do. Complete with Dual or Quadcore Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and this neat new thing called "Fusion Drive." What is Fusion Drive? Basically it's Apple's marketing name for the hybrid drive configuration that uses both a Solid State, or flash, drive and a traditional spinning disk.
The way Apple's Phil Schiller described it from the stage made it sound pretty sweet. With a 128GB SSD, the OS and all pre-installed Apple applications live on the flash portion, with other applications and data stored on the disk drive. But the thing learns. So let's say iPhoto is pre-insatlled but you buy and use Aperture more. Pretty soon, your Mac will get that and will switch them out, so Aperture will have the speed advantage of the flash storage, while iPhoto gets moved to the disk drive, where it'll sit like a sad, abandoned puppy humming "in the arms of the angel" to itself.
AppleInsider has Schiller saying the two drives are "fused together with software" into a single volume, which I guess is sort of where the "Fusion" name comes from.
And you'll have time to get to know the Fusion Drive on your brand new iMac!
There should be "Price is Right" music playing there.
The eighth-generation iMac is 5mm thin at its edge; that's 80 percent thinner than previous the generation, and the new display is 5mm thinner. Schiller says Apple laminated the display to the glass yielding a 45 percent thinner display that looks a lot better too, though it is not a Retina Display. The display is also said to have 75 percent less reflection.
The Mac, by the way, the number one Desktop in the U.S and number one notebook in the U.S. according to Apple -- which is fairly stunning when you think about it. It's also worth noting, with the introduction of the iPad a couple of years ago, Apple's gone a long way to killing a lot of desktops and notebooks that don't have pictures of fruit on them.
Where was I?
Right. Laptops. The rumor mill keeps knocking 'em out of the park.
Apple introduced a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display that's 20 percent thinner than the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Retina Display. It's 3.5 lbs; nearly one pound lighter than the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro. Surprise, surprise: no optical drive, but did I mention thin, light, and Retina Display?
Everyone showed up for the iPad mini, though there was one more ting before we got to that: Say hello to the iPad with Retina Display. No, this is a different one. A more powerful one. And iPad with Retina Display to make your six month-old iPad with retina Display passé.
What will iPad mean for iPad mini, what will iPad mini mean for competition? One industry analyst says a question worth asking is "what will iPad mini mean for iPod touch?" And he thinks he knows the answer.
It's an iPad, but smaller!
Was there anything else? Oh yes. The thing. The little thing.
Surprising no one, Apple did introduce the iPad mini. At 7.2mm thin it's 23 percent thinner than the 4th generation iPad. Or put another way: it's as thin as a pencil.
It weighs 0.68 pounds, close to 3/4 of a pound less then the full sized iPad. Or put another way: as light as a pad of paper.
It has a 7.9-inch display versus the regular iPad's 9.7-inch display. It isn't Retina; rather, it has a screen resolution of 1024x768. There is no new work for developers! If it's built for iPad, it works for iPad mini, which has to be a relief to Dev Types.
Inside it sports an A5 dual-core processor, a FaceTime HD Camera, a 5MP iSight backside camera, 4G/LTE on specified models, faster WiFi, Lighting connector, 10 hour battery life, and is -- according to the tag-line -- "Every Inch an iPad."
It comes in black and slate, or white and aluminium, much like the iPhone 5. The 16GB WiFi only iPad mini starts at $329, 32GB will go for $429, and you'll never guess how much a 64GB model will cost. Yeah, $529.
Add $130 to those prices for WiFi plus cellular models. Pre-orders started Friday with both the 4th Gen iPad and the iPad mini shipping the following Friday, November 2nd, to a boatload of countries.
AppleInsider has Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities saying he thinks the iPod touch "has entered the final stage of its product life cycle." It's not that Apple will stop selling them, necessarily, though they may stop developing them. The way he sees it, the free iPhone is available, as well as the iPad mini at only $30 more than the touch will likely negatively impact that device's sales.
Kind of sounds like he wants to put it on the same shelf as the iPod Classic, though there's one part I question on that. It seems in the past few years that the iPod touch has taken many -- if not all -- of its upgrade cues from the iPhone, which Apple will continue to develop. So, aren't they at least halfway to developing an iPod touch upgrade each year anyway?
Eh. It'll probably be at least a year before we have an answer to that. Plenty of time to forget that we even asked the question.
KGI Analyst Thinks iPad mini Could Mean End of Development for iPod touch
Apple: Raker of Money
Had we not had Apple's 4th Quarter earnings call this week, we'd have spent a lot of time discussing iPhone sales numbers from AT&T and Sprint today, and what those numbers might mean for third-quarter iPhone sales.
But we did, so we won't.
Instead, we'll just highlight those numbers: CNNMoney says "AT&T activated about 1.3 million iPhone 5s last quarter," double the number activated by Verizon. While that might seem like a good thing, it does also mean that AT&T spent twice as much subsidizing iPhone 5 as Verizon did. In one week. It'll look better over time.
The iPhone 5 numbers are interesting, though not indicative of much, since it was only available for one week of the quarter and was constrained by supply to boot. Perhaps a more telling number: Electronista says of the just over six million smartphones the Death Star sold last quarter, 4.7 million of them were iPhones.
Tell me again how bad the iPhone has been for AT&T.
Sprint, on the other hand, did not come close to those numbers. TechCrunch says Old Yeller -- soon to be a division of SoftBank -- activated 1.5 million iPhones total last quarter.
The good news: fewer $400 subsidies. The bad news: Sprint is contractually obligated to buy billions of dollars worth of iPhones over the next few years, while its customers are operating under no such obligation.
Eh. They'll be SoftBank's problem soon enough.
It was Apple's best September quarter so far with the Cupertino-company selling a record number of iPhones, iPads and Macs and bringing in record revenue.
Let's go to the phones. Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones in the September quarter, up from 17.1 million for the same quarter a year earlier. iPhone sales growth outpaced growth for the smartphone market as a whole, plus the company's into a whole new iPhone that had barley more than a week of sales before the last quarter ended. Demand for iPhone 5 has been phenomenal, and supply still can't match it.
Apple sold 14 million iPads last quarter, which was up from the 11 million it sold for the same quarter a year earlier, but down from the previous quarter's 17 million.
Apple sold over 4.9 million Macs, representing 1 percent growth versus the same quarter last year, and beating the pants off of the rest of the PC market. The broader computer space saw a year-over-year decline of 8 percent.
Between sales of music, movies, books and apps, the iTunes Store generated revenue of nearly $2.1 billion, and they're really excited about launching iTunes 11 too. Adding up iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches, Apple sold 44 million iOS devices in the September quarter.
And finally, the big, crazy number: Apple ended the quarter with $121.4 billion in its cash hoard, up over $4 billion from the $117.2 billion upon which it was sitting at the end of the June quarter.
It's Lawsuit Palooza Time
And finally this week, word this week of a weird lawsuit that seems stuck in the year 2008. CNET says two iPhone owners are suing Apple to get their iPhones unlocked.
The two filed "a putative class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California," according to the piece, "alleging that the tech giant violated antitrust laws by locking iPhone buyers into voice and data contracts with AT&T Mobility." The piece continues:
The plaintiffs claim that Apple violated the Sherman Act's prohibition on monopolization by not obtaining consumers' contractual consent to have their iPhones locked when the tech giant entered into a five-year exclusivity agreement with the wireless carrier in 2007.
The parts that I don't understand: not only can a user get their phones unlocked pretty easily these days, they can also purchase unlocked phones. Additionally, they didn't have to buy an iPhone. That the original iPhone was locked to AT&T in the states was a worse kept secret than the iPad mini, which is to say it was no secret at all. And finally, AT&T's exclusivity for the iPhone in the states ended in early 2011, which was less than five-years.
There have been plenty of other phones that were tied to specific carriers, and this is the kind of suit that kind of makes my head explode.
Thankfully, not literally. At least not yet.