Apple’s Newest Surprise is Occasionally Settling for Second Best

Apple and a Big Pile of Cash

Several articles I found this week combined to create a theme. Apple is struggling to keep up in several areas.

2019 iMac
2019 iMac. Image credit: Apple

The first item is the iMac. At Six Colors, Jason Snell discusses how the decision to offer spinning hard disks in the latest iMacs apparently kept Apple from implementing the T2 security chip. Or so it seems. Or perhaps difficulties with the T2 integration allowed Apple the convenient option of offering a lower cost 5,400 RPM drive. We don’t know, but author Snell is spot on in his analysis.

Seriously. It’s 2019. Apple first offered SSDs in its 2010 iMacs. Given SSD OEM pricing, there’s really no excuse for offering a 2019 iMac with a spinning disk boot drive. None.

The next iMac article is a more comprehensive analysis of the state-of-the-art of the iMac by Jason Cross at Macworld.

Author Cross hits the mark on every item. Every one. And they’re all technically feasible. I especially appreciated the comments about height adjustment, slimmer bezels and flash storage. The first two are items that wouldn’t add that much cost.

Turning to AirPods, Chaim Gartenberg at The Verge hits the nail on the head in his assessment of the new AirPods combined with the delayed AirPower charger.

Even if Apple does launch AirPower tomorrow or Friday, which seems vaguely possible given how many surprise Apple hardware announcements we’ve seen this week, it’ll still be too late. Right now, thousands of customers are sticking second-gen AirPods and wireless charging cases in their carts on Apple’s website — so many of them that new buyers won’t see their AirPods ship until April. An AirPower charger to use with those new AirPods is the easiest upsell in the world, given that it was literally designed for this exact product, and yet none of those thousands of customers can buy one today.

Instead, they’re probably buying one of the excellent Qi chargers that are already out there….

It’s quite a mess.

A final example is from my own pen.

The theme I’m seeing from the above astute observations by these other experienced Apple observers is that Apple is settling for second best with some non-iPhone products.

More Debris

• At Recode, Peter Kafka explains Apple’s approach for the March 25 event. “Apple’s plan for its new TV service: Sell other people’s TV services.” Subtitle: “Apple’s TV plans, explained. (Spoiler: Apple isn’t taking on Netflix yet.)”

• We just knew it. All the recent fuss about foldable smartphones centered on one key design element: the visibility of the seam at the fold. And guess what? “Leaked video confirms our worst suspicions about Samsung’s Galaxy Fold.” OMG. Our tech fantasy dashed. (Again.)

• The next two items fit together nicely. First, from CNET: “Comcast unveils $5-a-month streaming service Xfinity Flex.” Subtitle: “Limited to Comcast’s internet-service-only customers, it mimics the company’s X1 cable service but delivers over the internet.” But it’s not an app for your Apple TV. Instead, it uses Comcast’s own a 4K HDR streaming box. Another box! Ycch.

• Tied into the above is this next item from Media Play News : “Survey: Almost Half of Consumers Frustrated by Growing Number of Entertainment Subs and Services.

The opportunities afforded by the internet are so great, greed and the fear that The Other Guy will steal the whole show has cast us into this fragmented mess. At some point, consumers will rebel and direct their focus to just a few winning services. And, by and large, the choice won’t be based on content. It’ll be based on price and convenience. That’s because there’s so much great content available, customers will realize they can’t have it all. But they can control costs and equipment that’s easy to use.

• There is hope that caller ID spoofing may finally come to an end. “AT&T and Comcast test ‘verified’ phone calls to fight spam.

• Finally, autonomous cars are all over the news. Apple is thought to be working on one. And in those discussions, the subject of insurance is often bought up. Here’s a start. “How do you insure a driverless car?


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

5 thoughts on “Apple’s Newest Surprise is Occasionally Settling for Second Best

  • Spinning disk Macs is surely one of their real bummers. They charge way too much for the SSD upgrades in their store given the pricing of SSDs today.

    For me, wireless charging is worthless except in a car. My wife doesn’t want two iPads and two phones lying around in the open in the house, so we put them in a cabinet that has a power outlet inside. It takes about as much time to plug in a cable as it does to fit a device onto a wireless charger. And for 99% of your driving, you don’t need charging. The phones will play audio via Bluetooth and do navigation for long periods of time – longer than needed except for people that are in their cars all day. So wireless charging isn’t a big plus for me. I’d rather not pay for it. Plus the AirPod battery life and charger battery life are excellent.

    And the article about the 9 things – some of those are ridiculous. Why do we need near-$1000 HDR monitors in an iMac and drive the price up. The retina displays have more ppi than peoples eyes can resolve at the distances we sit from our screens, and the displays are plenty bright.

    And for the reasons we discussed in the other article, having Touch ID in lieu of Face ID isn’t a compromise at all.

    The new iMacs and iPads are more than just a tweak. There’s significant improvements.

    As for Apple being second best, which other company provides all aspects of highly integrated hardware and software that is better in all areas? Having a few features better on a non-Apple product being your driver for purchase will drive you to a less integrated array of products in your possession.

    And being void of Google-like intrusion into your products is a high priority for me personally. From these perspectives, Apple isn’t second best, they are still overall the best.

    1. The one real advantage of wireless charging is the device charging brick cable or the connector on the device won’t fail from repeated use. I’ve had several non-Apple device that failed like that and the failed device connector basically causes the unit to be worthless. So manufacturers can continue to use their cheap connectors and cables because you never have to unplug them. But then again, what makes you think that the wireless charging circuitry they incorporate is any higher quality than their cheap connectors.

      Give me the Apple products. Their cables and device connectors just don’t fail even with high use. The only charging cables I’ve had that failed weren’t made by Apple. And I have yet to have the connector on an iPhone or iPad fail. I still have 2002 and newer iPods and cables, 30-pin iPhone and iPad connectors and cables that are still good. Even the cables phones and iPads I’ve given to the grandkids continued to work.

      So the real advantage of wireless charging is of marginal value – at least in the way that I use the mobile products

  • More hilarity. Makes me wonder which Apple products are “best” and by what criteria??
    They’ve always had the 2nd most popular OS, 2nd most popular mobile OS so which clones here can name a “best” Apple has produced? Apple lost imagination – even Google with Stadia shows there’s still more disruption to be had yet where is Apple? Boring portfolio of “old” products if you ask me.

  • Some of these “second best” items are due to price. The new iPads with TouchID aren’t the top of the line Pro systems. They are the consumer grade systems and the corners they cut were to save money. That’s the same reason they use the ApplePencil 1, the circuitry for the 2 would add costs. Rather than second best, I think of it as the Pro Tier and the Consumer Tier.

    All I can say about the obvious fold on the Samsung folding phone is I Called It. The crease line is what I’ve been thinking about every time the item came up for discussion. Its one of the reasons ive gone from enthusiastically looking forward to folding phones, to thinking if them as a gimmick that I’m not interested in.

    There is one other issue with folding phones. For me at least rather than the best of a phone and a tablet, its the worst. Its an overly big, overly thick, overly heavy phone. But opened up its a tablet that doesn’t have enough room to do what I want. Pass.

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