Archive for the ‘ Mac OS Software ’ Category

Final Pre WWDC Thoughts

What’s going to happen Monday at the only real tradeshow/conference that Apple actually attends?

Stone Cold Locks

1. iOS 6 – Not that this was actually in doubt, but the banners at WWDC confirm the announcement of the new OS. In addition, iOS 6 will feature the start of the de Google-ization of the standard iOS apps with Maps being the first to fall.

2. New MacBooks of some kind. There’s some confusion over this announcement with some analysts predicting new MacBook Pros current form factor and new MacBooks with a new thinner form factor. Both will be available in 13/15 inch sizes. I just don’t see Apple making their product lineup confusing by having 13 inch Macbook Air, Macbook, and MacBook Pro. So new Macbook Pros or MacBooks but not both. And the new “MacBooks” are thinner, lighter, no CD/DVD, and SSD only. These new MacBooks will offer an retina display on some models.

3. Mountain Lion Gold Master release to developers, and release in the next 30 days.

Very Likely

1. New Mac Pros in a new case featuring Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. Apple has not updated this machine and it’s due for an update. But Apple could do something unique here with a new type of Mac.

2. Retina Display iMac in a new case. The iMac has been untouched for over 2 years as well. Not a radical redesign, but lighter and thinner.

Potentially Game Changing/Stock Skyrocketing

Apple TV SDK – new Apple TV OS and the OS for the eventual Apple TV display. This could be game breaking, the third tier for the iOS market. A serious long play product for Apple but when you have 100 billion in cash, then you can afford some longer play strategic initiatives. We will see some of the control elements via Siri? We will see how Apple TV can/will work with existing video feeds such as cable boxes? We will get to see some imaginative Apple TV Apps/Games?

This could be an iPhone type announcement moment if Apple has something to disrupt the current TV industry. It could also be a definitive sign that Apple can continue to innovate post Steve. In addition, who introduces this new OS will be interesting to track. A major new product initiative at a keynote could set the stage for the start of the Tim Cook era.

Apple to Announce a Monster March 2012 Quarter?

So MoD is far from a financial analyst type guy, but it’s easy to put 2 and 2 together, or put 2 stories together.

Evidence Item 1

Apple due to increased foot traffic volume at their retail stores is allegedly modifying their scheduling rules to increase coverage on Fri/Sat/Sun and increasing the minimum hours for part time employees. If the foot traffic volume has continued to the point of requiring a change in staffing rules, then it seems reasonable to assume that Apple’s stores have continued their amazing numbers in this 1st calendar quarter of 2012. The new iPad has probably boosted that foot traffic.

Evidence Item 2

Cannacord Genuity Analyst Mike Walkley has published a note to investors indicating that the iPhone 4s has been the best selling smartphone the entire quarter on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Walkley based on his data believes that the iPhone 4S has been outselling all other smartphones combined on AT&T and Sprint and equal to the volume on Verizon.

So the evidence would indicate that Apple’s momentum is just continuing, what could this mean in terms of reported earnings for the quarter in late April?

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt posted his first earnings estimates tracking chart, and right now the Wall Street Pros have Apple at $35.88 billion. The independent analysts like Horace Dediu, Robert Paul Leitao, Daniel Tello, and Andy Zaky  have Apple at $42.68 billion, or a difference of $6.8 billion. If the independent analysts are close to being right, Apple will have had a year over year increase of nearly 72%. For some perspective in  April 2010 Apple announced earnings of $13.5 billion, so Apple could in two years have potentially increased revenue nearly 200% in two years.

How does Apple get close to those numbers according to Horace Dediu?

  • 37 million iPhones
  • 12 million iPads
  • 4.7 million Macs
  • 7 million iPods

So it’s quite possible that Apple’s winter Quarter numbers could come close to matching the sales of their holiday quarter of 2011. Which begs the obvious question of what numbers Apple might hit for the rest of the calendar year.

Apple Bred A Secret New Cat

MoD argued last year that Apple was getting so big that perhaps it was unable to really surprise the tech media any longer. And while that maybe true for the iPhone and iPad, Apple still has a trick or two in their super secret HQ.

MoD would love to link to any rumor sites story prior to today on OS X Mountain Lion, but they don’t exist. Not a single site had the codename/product name right. Now, some of the rumor sites did accurately guess some of the features, namely iChat becoming Messages, further iCloud integration, and a Notification application for OS X. However, no rumor site came close to predicting an OS X update being released this summer.

While the update has a number of interesting features, here’s an excellent recap of the features by MacWorld writer Jason Snell. There are several items about OS X Mountain Lion that are interesting about the future of Apple.

OS X Mountain Lion looks like a great update and while Apple didn’t announce a price for its’ newest cat a price figure of $19.99 seems logical, certainly no more than Lion’s cost of $29.99. With so much hardware revenue, Apple seems almost disinterested in OS update revenue.  Apple is more interested in folks upgrading their OS to the latest version. Microsoft cannot be happy about this trend from Apple, and is going to have to be very careful about how it pitches OS costs for both tablets and PCs that use the “same” version of Windows.

Apple instead of a media event to release the new software invited a half dozen of the most influential tech media for a personal media event at Apple HQ. John Gruber over at Daring Fireball has a great description of his personal media event. Apple seems focused on releasing new initiatives when they are ready, but also not abusing their media event buzz. iPad 3 will get the next media event slot in March, but Apple didn’t want to wait to launch the developer release of OS X Mountain Lion. It was ready to go, and now developers have time to be ready for WWDC and a summer launch. Also, despite just a handful of media members getting an early preview the news was all over the tech blogs by 10am that morning. In a Twitter universe the right 3 tech bloggers have the same impact as 200 media members.

Tim Cook recently discussed the iPhone Halo where Apple had 180 million iPhone users who were now also potential Mac and iPad customers. With that ever increasing population in mind, Apple is going to make OS X as user friendly as possible to the iPhone base. iCloud is being developed as the bridge to make a for a seamless user experience.  Apple wants users to have the same experience of accessing their key data across the two platforms without thinking about it.

OS X is going to get yearly updated for the near future. Instead of de-emphasizing OS X, Apple is going to expend a lot of energy to make sure that the OS X is in sync feature and capability wise with its’ multi-touch twin iOS who will be getting an upgrade to version 6.0 this summer. In addition, this yearly update indicates that Apple has expanded their OS development team to support annual upgrades to both OS X and iOS. Perhaps, a clear sign that Apple recognizes that it is a $120+ billion a year company, and has to have the resources to act like one.

Speaking of iOS 6, iOS 6 could easily get the same special invite media request treatment. March is going be all iPad 3 all the time. So instead of a second full blown media event in a short time frame, media members are given iPads 3/iPhones running iOS 6.0 for a week under embargo. Apple could then stealth announce iOS 6 later in April. WWDC in June will feature app demos of both new OSes and probably OS X and iOS versions of apps in data harmony thanks to iCloud.

iCloud features and abilities have only just started. iCloud is going to be a huge future part of the next gen releases of iOS and OS X. Apple is “all in” in terms of internet storage/internet data. Competing products should be wary since Apple is going to bake this functionality into everything they do.

Pay attention to the iCloud version of the Save files window. This extremely simplified look could be an early glimpse into a simplified Finder for OS X. A full screen file management application for new users. The old Finder would still be there for veteran users but new users may be given a whole new graphical way of managing files.  Here’s the new iCloud Open/Save screen image from Pocketlint

Apple’s 2012 Bigger than 2011??

First I apologize for the inactivity but after the October iPhone announcement everything just stopped news wise.

But 2012 is just getting going.

Apple just posted an unreal December 2011 Quarter blowing out all predicted numbers and showing growth across all products lines not named iPod (iPod numbers are being cannibalized by Apple’s power twins of  iPad and iPhone).

4 amazing numbers stand out: $46 Billion in revenue, 37 million iPhones, 15 million iPads, 5.2 million Macs.

As incredible as those numbers were the results were generated by a product line up that was relatively unchanged from 2010. 2012 though could see some significant changes to all 3 product lines and a 4th big ticket product if the Apple Flat Panel TV rumors prove accurate.

iPad for 2012: March should see the arrival of the Retina Display iPad 3. The iPad 3 will be the flagship tablet the entire industry will have to chase. Apple’s buying power and supplier access could easily mean that the supply of these high resolution displays are denied to other manufacturers, or  that Apple is going to get a price per unit cost that the rest of their competitors won’t be able to match. In addition, Apple is likely to continue producing the iPad 2 in at least some limited configuration at a cheaper price point just like the iPhone 4 8GB is available for $99. So, Apple will likely continue to produce the 16 GB iPad 2, and price the device for $399 further putting pressure on competitors. Back to the iPad 3, in addition to processor and graphics improvements expect to see at a minimum a 3G chip set supporting GSM/CDMA, so Apple can simplify their production and inventory supply. Also expect Sprint to get access to the 3G iPad.  4G LTE capability is a great unknown. Both AT&T and Verizon would prefer Apple include LTE support, but LTE is right now predominantly a US feature with serious battery consequences (less of an issue for the iPad). Regardless iPad 3 and iPad 2 stand an excellent chance of increasing and extending the iPad’s sales numbers. The biggest threat to the iPad right now appears to be Windows 8 tablets that won’t appear until late Q3. However, these tablets are total vaporware with no specs, features, limitations, or prices. In particular, it’s unclear what software (since it won’t be able to run the large inventory of Wintel software) would be available for any ARM based Windows 8 tablet since there are already rumors that Intel based tablets won’t come near to the iPad price point.

iPhone for 2012: A redesigned iPhone 5 is coming this year, the only question is a July or October launch date. It’s unclear if the recent October launch was an anomaly or the new SOP for Apple. We know that Apple will continue to build and sell the iPhone 4 at $0 with contract, iPhone 4s at $99 with contract. We know that Verizon and AT&T will want LTE capability in the device, and there’s a strong chance that Apple will add T-Mobile and support for as many Chinese carriers as possible (adding carriers is making a huge difference in market share versus Android). The biggest issue sure to generate significant rumor traffic will be the new design and new dimensions. The burning question will be screen size for the iPhone 5. Android phones are all 4 inches and larger now. Could a bigger screen iPhone also lead to a bigger screen iPod Touch? I think a move to a bigger screen makes sense but Apple will avoid creating a monster phone. I think a new home button configuration previously rumored is a strong possibility which provides more navigation options. Will it have NFC to turn the iPhone into a digital wallet? Apple including this feature on their iPhone could take phone payments mainstream so will the other parties involved agree to Apple’s demands mainly companies like Visa, Amex, Paypal, etc. Apple’s not going to do a mobile digital wallet without control over the user experience.

Mac for 2012: A 15 inch MacBook Air seems like a certainty. A bigger screen MacBook Air would be a natural expansion of the lineup, look for that new machine the same time that Apple updates the processor/graphics on the 11/13 inch models. The other big update should be a completely redesigned MacBook Pro. Expect the DVD drive to be eliminated, it won’t be MacBook Air thin, but expect some reduction in weight and thickness. The big selling feature for pro users will be Retina high resolution displays. Those new displays will provide differentiation from the Air and a compelling upgrade feature. Intel’s new Ivy Bridge platform in April/May would be the ideal new processors for the new Macbook Pros. These updates could drive higher sales of Apple’s laptop business which represents 70% of Mac sales.

iMac update for 2012? If Apple can make it thinner and lighter they will. If display technology allows, a redesign is possible.Retina iMacs?? Possibly. Apple also could make a solid state/conventional drive combo standard to improve performance.  Beyond those kind of tweaks along with the obvious process/graphics upgrades, the current form factor is ideal.

Mac Mini? New processors and graphics. No other changes will probably occur. Mac Mini is probably not in danger of being cancelled this year. Unless…

Updated Mac Pro or  whole new class of Mac? Apple could launch a new class of desktop device that has powerful graphics and scales up to use higher end processors, and expandable ram. Space for two drives, one solid state and one traditional, instead of PCI slots in the chassis the device now relies upon multiple Thunderbolt ports to provide those expansion options. Priced right this headless iMac could find a market, and Apple could offer a high performance version that works for a pro market. Or we could simply see the current Mac Pro updated later in the year when the right processors become available. It’s entirely possible that in a  year or two that the iMac is the only desktop left in the Mac lineup.

Apple Branded Flat Panel TV: The ultimate rumor and wildcard for Apple in 2012. It’s all unsupported speculation but why would Apple even attack this market. Well the flat panel TV market worldwide for 2012 should represent nearly 250 million units old sold. So there’s a huge potential market. In addition, any Apple product in this space would be considered a premium product due to feature set and likely fetch an ASP of at least $1000. So even if Apple was only able to replicate their Apple TV device sales of 1.4 million, Apple would still be adding nearly $1.5 billion to the bottom line each quarter. The market annually is huge, but the upgrade cycle for users is long so any TV move will be a long play, establishing Apple as a player/brand as display technology progresses. If Apple was only able to garner 2% or 3% of the worldwide market that would still represent a significant revenue stream. The potential market opportunity is significant.

Steve Leaves – What’s Next

A predictable but still sad day for Mac followers has finally occurred. Either due to health issues or inability to rally from the impact of his previous health issues, Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple. In the history of American business, Jobs’ impact at Apple is somewhere in the realm of Henry Ford or Walt Disney. I’ll leave it for others better qualified to recount his amazing and often contradictory life (MoD will certainly be buying the biography coming out in November)

I won’t go into any speculative detail into the ominous reason that we all thought, resignation as pre obit. Hopefully Steve has many more wonderful years with his family left.

Presuming no health crisis, why resign now?

It’s obvious Steve’s state of health won’t allow him to return full time in the same way he was before. Steve is not a guy of half measures or half attempts. The decision was probably as simple as his public statement sounds. He cannot be the old Steve, and nothing less is acceptable. In pure speculation, Steve has been rumored to be in China helping to finalize some carrier deals. That level of travel may have highlighted that Steve’s health will never return to pre transplant levels. Steve may have also realized that Tim Cook needed to be the real CEO to have the real power to negotiate these deals.

It could be as simple as now is the right time to move on. Apple’s about to have a huge media event announcing the next iPhone. If the rumors are close, this could be the biggest launch since the iPhone 3G. The iPad is crushing folks. The MacBook Air is selling out. iOS 5 is almost finished. The Retina screen iPad 3 seems to be deep in final development for an early 2012 release. The new HQ is planned and approved. Apple is rolling in every segment, so it is best equipped to absorb the hit of Steve leaving his CEO role right now.

What’s the immediate product impact? Very little.

Somewhere at the secret Top 100 meeting this year (or last year)  a road map of where Steve wants to take the next generation of iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc was presented. At Apple HQ right now, there are mockups/prototypes of the iPhone 7 and the iPad 4. In addition, there’s probably a road map for brand new products for the next 2 or 3 years.

In the deciding the product lineup,  Steve says No to a lot of projects. This discipline in saying No is now built into Apple’s DNA. Steve is also a master of saying No, but come back to me when we can do X. The iPad and iPhone are classic Steve examples of saying Not Ready Yet. Steve kept telling his guys to work on the projects until the right pieces were ready. Touchscreens, powerful energy efficient microprocessors, cheap solid state memory, battery technology improvements are examples of outside innovations that Apple used with their in house innovations. Like most pundits, MoD thinks Apple will do something evolutionary with the TV, and it will seem obvious and easy and make the TV as interconnected as the iPhone and iPad. Apple has prototypes right now that are Not Ready Yet. The designs are missing a piece of tech, not responsive enough, or are too expensive right now to source and build. And I think as long as Steve is healthy enough, he will continue to be a final product sanity check indicating readiness to go into production or that a product needs more time to bake. He just won’t be so intimately involved in every possible decision and facet of product design. It could be this change in work load can extend Steve’s influence at Apple by a significant number of years, and that change was the decisive reason for Steve stepping down.

So beyond the new product roadmap at Apple, Steve has doubtlessly laid a Not Ready for Prime Time road map. The Newton is an obvious example of a product being too far ahead of the technology available. This list probably goes out ten years plus in terms of innovations and new ideas. This future road map has a list of key benchmarks for  improvements in displays, battery life, memory storage, processor speed, lightweight materials, etc. and connected to those improvement targets are a list of new Apple products. Wonder when you will have a Minority Report like display from Apple? Just wait, Apple has all the pieces to make it happen it just needs display and multi-touch technology to improve.

ARM Based Macs

The British publication SemiAccurate has set off a firestorm of discussions based on a simple rumor, Apple is going to dump Intel and move their Mac hardware to ARM processors like the iPad/iPhone. So let’s break this rumor down.

1. Despite not having seen the hardware, MoD is 100% sure that Apple has prototypes of ARM based Macs running OS X Lion. Apple had Intel Macs running for several years before the actual migration to Intel. OS X allows for these kinds of migrations, it’s one of the huge advantages of the Kernel/Core OS. In addition, iOS is already on ARM and shares some key operating system heritage with OS X. Under Jobs Apple is never again going to find itself in mess of the early 2000s stuck on the PowerPC platform that does not have the mobile processors needed to move the Mac platform forward. The ARM Mac is a skunk works project waiting for a reason to exist. In addition, these type projects provide Apple with negotiating power with Intel. Intel is already facing Microsoft Windows 8 being released for ARM.

2. When will this black project see the light of day? When ARM’s mobile processors completely surpass Intel’s offerings from a price/performance/energy use standpoint. SemiAccurate is promoting 2013 as the date that this may occur. It’s sounds possible but one reviewer already has punched some holes in the various roadmaps highlighting by 2003 Intel should have an even bigger lead. Now Intel’s processor roadmap is publicly announced years ahead of time so the author is on solid ground with Intel projections, however the ARM side of the equation especially a special Apple designed ARM is far murkier.

3. Related to that last sentence, the strongest argument for moving to ARM  is that Apple using their new internal processor design team is able to completely fine tune and customize a processor for OS X that so outperforms Intel offerings in the 4 key areas, battery life, performance, video performance, and cost.

4. While Apple may already have working ARM prototype Mac, it’s not the system software that would be the problem. As with the Intel transition it’s the third party software that becomes the issue. In this proposed OS X on ARM, it’s easy to imagine Apple creating an upgrade path for iOS developers to quickly migrate their apps to OS X. However, just like the transition to OS X and then the migration to Intel,  Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office  are going to be the stragglers working at their own pace/roadmap. Now Apple has navigated these issues before, but Mac sales momentum shows no sign of stopping so artificially creatinga slow down in sales makes zero sense. In addition, the ability for Intel Macs to run Windows in either virtual apps (like Parallels which run so much better than of the previous Windows emulators) or natively booting into Windows (Bootcamp) has been a huge selling factor for Intel Macs. It provides that last level of security for switchers. Switchers know that they can run Windows if they need to. It’s doubtful that any ARM processor would be able to match the current virtual app performance and booting natively would no longer be an option at all. MoD thinks that ability to run Windows is a huge value proposition/safety net for new Mac buyers.

5. The final almost too obvious thought is that we’re not talking about ARM Macs. Apple instead is planning on a whole new type of iOS hardware that is closer to the MacBook Air, or a hybrid iPad something similar to the Asus Transfomer.  The initial rumor was talking about laptops moving to ARM being a done deal. These could be new laptops that run iOS with Apple able to take advantage of the new hardware architecture and OS requirements and create cheaper laptops in the $600 range further increasing the footprint of iOS and Apple’s price reach. This move into MacBook Air type laptops starts the transition that will eventually see an integrated operating system running an advanced iOS utilizing giant trackpads for desktops and full size trackpads on laptops (covering the entire area below the keyboard), or utilizing a recent Apple patent where sensors in the keyboard create a virtual trackpad over the keyboard detecting motion. So it’s not really an ARM transition but more of an OS X to iOS transition. It would be easy for Apple to create a file system application that would have to be installed as an free app from the app store for advanced users who want that level of access and control. Still 2013 seems too soon for such a radical transition in OS strategy. It’s definitely the future of Apple, but that future isn’t ready yet.

iCloud – Your Digital Fortress?

So one of the most speculated Apple products of 2011 is starting to appear from the usual Apple veil of secrecy.

It’s long been assumed that the massive NC based data center would lead to a new effort in the buzz topic of web storage or the cloud. The new data center is huge compared to Apple’s previous resource, 400% larger, and Apple does not spend that kind of infrastructure capital without a supporting product.

iTunes in the cloud, or web storage of your iTunes content has been biggest rumored feature, but the second rumor was about an expansion of MobileMe and the transition of MobileMe to a free service to support the ever expanding family of iOS products.

Well, 3 rumors highlight the certainty of Apple’s next big initiative for OS X and iOS.

1. Apple has secured the licenses from the major record companies to allow for the streaming of iTunes content. These licenses will allow  Apple to stream iTunes libraries to users rather than users having to upload their whole iTunes library. The content will be available locally and in the cloud.

2. Apple has purchased the iCloud.com domain. If Apple wants to “i”conize a word, then a product cannot be far behind. It’s also a simple iconic URL that leverages every bit of advertising that companies are doing about cloud computing by Apple’izing it.

3. The latest developer release/beta of OS X Lion features language about a new settings change (courtesy of MacRumors.com)

“Click OK to open System Preferences and complete your upgrade from MobileMe to Castle.”

Now. the MobileMe is already pretty much a digital locker for photos,videos, and files. MoD finds the use of the codename Castle potentially revealing. Castle denotes a stronghold, fortress, protection, security. So while MobileMe could be retired as a brand name/URL with http://www.icloud.com , upgrading to “Castle” perhaps will involve a much higher level of personal security. Sometimes a codename is just a codename, but Castle in this instance seems far too coincidental. Can you not just see a Castle image inside one of the iOS system icons, or like the way Apple uses Grand Central as a codename with actual meaning? Will Castle bring with it an easy way to provide secure yet simple login capability and extend that security across OS X and iOS. Has Apple found a way to Think Different and both simplify and improve personal security?