May 26, 2012
Applesauce: All Things Apple
Michael Harper for Redorbit.com
Apple made news across a broad spectrum of headlines this week. They´ve continued their battle in court against Samsung, stubbornly refusing to cede power or control. It´s interesting enough, if you´re the kind of person who is into long, drawn-out legal proceedings with multiple outcomes stemming from pages and pages of documents.So far, this case has played out like a grown-up “He Said, She Said,” as the two tech titans take turns vehemently crossing their arms in stubborn distaste, caring only enough for the other to whine “Nuh-UH!” But this is a fight with their best frenemy; Of course, the arm of Samsung that Apple needs to keep close is the chip and memory maker. It´s an interesting dynamic, and one has to wonder if the two sides ever meet in the common area dining room over at Samsung headquarters. Is the mobile arm of Samsung the black sheep of the family, looked down upon for not keeping the peace?
Then, while these school-yard antics carry on, Apple´s got other entities breathing down their neck and lobbing their criticisms Cupertino´s way. Judging by their reaction, Apple will clearly have nothing to do with it, taking down each aspect of their arguments point by point and correcting their sports metaphors while they´re at it.
And, all the while, Apple continues to out sell in the mobile PC and tablet markets and prepares themselves for new devices.
Grab a chair friends and neighbors. It´s time to get cozy with a chilly bowl of Applesauce.
It wouldn´t be a weekly Apple recap without an update to their battle with Samsung, now would it?
For those not following along at home, Apple is suing Samsung for copying their designs. Samsung is returning the favor, suing Apple for using some of their technological patents. This whole process began over a year ago, and in that time, the two companies have been duking it out, building up a number of complaints against one another.
As these two warring factions approach their court date, District Judge Lucy Koh told the two companies to try and slim down their complaints against one another in a good-old fashioned court-ordered mediation session.
The two companies began this mediation with Honorable Judge Spero acting as the liaison between them on Monday. On Wednesday, we all heard the news we expected to hear: Neither company is willing to budge. After all, what reason does any company have to try and settle in a 2-day court-mandated mediation session?
Apple is still convinced Samsung is stealing their designs–it´s becoming pretty obvious at this point - and Samsung wants Apple to pay for using their wireless transmission technology. It might be easier and more pleasant to settle between themselves, but that would require some compromise, and when two companies are fighting to be number one in technology - specifically mobile technology - neither company wants to give the other any chance to dominate.
So while nothing came from this mediation, the battle rages on. Apple wants to have Samsung phones and tablets banned from the US now, and Samsung wants sanctions to be placed on Apple for not providing some documents on time. The two companies will head to court the last week of June.
Another Brick In the Wall
All of this legal action with Samsung has to have Apple´s lawyers a little tightly wound. At this point, they could react and suddenly explode, releasing a massive amount of energy into the tech universe. Or maybe, just maybe, they´ll end up snapping at the next organization that starts throwing accusations their way. Who cares if that organization is the US Department of Justice? They just need to let someone know how they really feel!
To be fair, the DOJ was asking for it when they filed anti-trust lawsuits against Apple and 6 other book publishers for allegedly price-fixing in order to take down Amazon. Such a claim more than warrants an investigation, but in their original documents they painted Apple and the publishers to be nothing short of mobsters, meeting in dimly lit private dining rooms in Manhattan´s finest restaurants, smoking cigars, drinking gin and sneering whenever the word “Amazon” was uttered. The only thing missing from their accusations were a mention of some back-alley dog-fighting.
Apple was not pleased, and let them know about it in a 31-page diatribe. In it, Apple says the DOJ sides “with monopoly, rather than competition,” and calls their complaints with Apple "fundamentally flawed as a matter of fact and law." Their statement then goes on to mention that Apple did not “conspire” with any other company to change prices, and that their iBookstore has not only given publishers the opportunity to sell their books directly to their customers, but has benefited these customers by offering them a choice and spurring innovation. Then, paragraph by paragraph, Apple refutes the DOJ´s complaints against them.
My personal favorite, however, is the mention of the use of the word “akido” in Jobs´ biography. Since the DOJ´s complaint suggests that Apple worked together to fix prices, Apple played the role of the geek being picked on by bullies, taking the time to correct the DOJ´s use of the term “akido move.”
For extra fun, try reading this next paragraph in the voice of Sheldon Cooper, TV´s favorite sniveling nerd from popular sitcom Big Bang Theory.
“Akido is not a team sport like football with a quarterback directing the plays; it is a defensive martial art practiced one-on-one by individuals, requiring use of little strength or power, based on redirecting an attacker´s own force.”
In reading the entire 31 page gripe to the DOJ, one gets the impression that Apple is a little more than annoyed. After all, Apple is currently engaged in another, more meaningful war with Samsung. They don´t have time for some government agency to come snooping around and making up claims that Apple is destroying the book publishing industry.
The Show Must Go On
Despite these battles, Apple continues to top the charts by producing top-quality products.
Research firm NPD DisplaySearch released the results of their latest survey on Mobile, Notebook and Tablet PCs. According to these numbers, Apple sold 17.2 million Mobile PCs last quarter to gain 22.5% of the market. But, this begs the question: “What constitutes a mobile PC?”
Not long ago, when other PC makers began to realize the iPad would be more than a passing fad, a debate arose: Is the iPad a PC? It´s likely Apple couldn´t care how you label their iPad, so long as you buy one and love it. In fact, they´ve been throwing the term “Post-PC Device” around an awful lot for about a year now. But, for these other companies, the HPs and Dells and Lenovos of the world, how the iPad is labeled means a lot. Because, if the iPad is labeled as a PC or a Mobile PC, then their numbers begin to suffer.
HP´s CEO Meg Whitman even said so herself. When asked if she thought including iPad as a PC would affect HP´s numbers, she said, “Yes. I think it´s possible if you integrate tablets. Apple does a great job. We need to improve our game and our products to take over the leadership position. Apple could go past HP in 2012.”
NPD DisplaySearch, by the way, defines the iPad as a mobile PC. Thus, Apple´s lead in marketshare. In the Tablet-only category, Apple did more than take the lead, they dominated. They performed a 10-minute victory dance in the end-zone. They lapped every other racer 6 times over. They went wire-to-wire from opening day to World Series. Pick your sports metaphor. According to these results, Apple´s 13.6 million iPads sold in the last quarter was enough to earn them 62.8% of the tablet market. They sold a full 12 million more tablets than none other than Samsung, number 2 on the list. And as for that 7-inch tablet that was supposed to have Apple shaking in their boots? Amazon was able to sell nearly a million of them last quarter, placing them at number 3 on the list.
With numbers like this, it´s hard to argue with Cook and Crew when they start waxing poetic about the Post-PC era.
Wish You Were Here
When Apple starts throwing around phrases like “Post-PC era,” do they also plan to include televisions? If you´re an analyst, then you probably think they will. Or maybe you don´t.
The anticipation, the hype and the rumors of this Apple TV have hit a frequency similar to those of the rumored Apple tablet before its 2010 debut. In fact, upon reaching fever pitch of tablet rumors, beloved Tech Pundit Andy Ihnatko coined the acronym RAT, or Rumored Apple Tablet, and began using this device anytime news was released about the unannounced product.
Though I haven´t asked for permission, (we´ve never met) I´d like to employ this acronym once more. Let´s talk about the RAT, the Rumored Apple Television.
News was released just yesterday about another analyst throwing his weight behind these RAT claims. Even if this analyst does happen to be reputable Gene Munster, not everyone agrees with him.
We´ve all been at the Apple Rumor Party just a little too long now. We´ve been drinking from the RAT punch bowl with reckless abandon, hoping it would never run dry. Some have had so much to drink they´ve begun to see things, stumbling around and telling us tales of things like “prototype units": Aluminum-clad iMac look-alike, except they´re much larger. And they´re able to be controlled with our voices, man, like we don´t need a remote or anything. And, like, if you just want to look at the weather or something, you...you can just wave your hand at the screen and it´ll like, tell you what the weather is and if you need a coat or something. And we´ll be able to like, you know, subscribe to channels by buying apps, man. They´re going to get rid of the cable man, man. They´re going to“¦they´re going to change everything, man. Like, yeah“¦
Now, Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey has become that one guy at the party who says things like “But what if what we know as life, is like, someone else's death, man? That´s what I´m talking about, man“¦it´s all relative, you know?”
McQuivey revealed in a blog post this week that maybe what we´ve been thinking of as the Apple TV is really an Apple Hub, which isn´t so much a TV as it is a central place to store the family info, calendars and such.
Apple could very well release a TV or a Hub or some other large screen housed in aluminum. The fact that we´re sold on the TV aspect of it is a little silly. Sure, Apple is known for revolutionizing and dominating struggling markets, and the TV market seems ripe for taking over. And sure, Steve Jobs said those immortal 4 words, “I finally cracked it.” To assume there will be a TV based largely on these aspects is a bit silly. To further quote analysts as proof of these rumors is even sillier. Analysts rarely know more than we do, and if they did, they wouldn´t announce it.
Any Color You Like
Speaking of rumors, it´s time for your weekly iPhone rumor round-up!
The often accurate, always credible Wall Street Journal announced last week that the new iPhone will likely have a 4-inch screen. Following up on this information, 9to5Mac.com announced this week that, not only will the next iPhone have a 4-inch screen, but that Apple is testing 2 such models in their headquarters as we speak.
They said they had “independently” heard these claims, and that Apple is, as usual, taking great pains to hide their new prototype devices from even their own employees. “Right now we know of a few next-generation iPhone candidates in testing. These prototype phones are floating around Apple HQ in thick, locked shells in order to disguise the exterior design to ℠undisclosed” employees.´ We know of two next-generation iPhones in testing with a larger display: the iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2. These phones are in the PreEVT stage of development and are codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2). Because Apple reserves certain models for internal-only usage (such as the N96 phone we previously reported on), we´re not sure which of the two devices will make its way into the world later this year.”
It makes sense for Apple to be testing multiple devices before the release. After all, they didn´t get to be the best by simply choosing one design arbitrarily and fiddling with it till it works. They try all sorts of things. But wait! If the new iPhone will have a 4-inch screen (actually, more like 3.9996 inches, but whatever) what will they do about aspect ratio?
According to Gruber, the next iPhone will likely be 1136 x 640, leaving plenty of room for a 16:9 aspect ratio. Developers would have to do a little noodling with their apps to make sure they stretch and shrink to fit the 4-inch display, avoiding the type of fragmentation that plagues the Android OS.
9 to 5 Mac also says these new prototypes do feature the new style of home button and dock connector. If these phones are currently in testing and not recently out of testing, an October release date seems more likely.
Another story was released this week about the possibility of FaceTime over 3G as well. According to Romanian website iDevice.com, if you go to toggle FaceTime´s settings during a video chat in iOS 5.1.1, a new option emerges to “enable 3G calling.” Try to flip this switch, and an error box pops up telling you that flipping this switch will end the call. No matter how you flip this switch, the FaceTime call doesn´t end.
Is this a slip-up on Apple´s part? My guess is, if this were a true screw-up and Apple really is going to roll out FaceTime over 3G, they would have already released a fix for it or removed the option. Of course, their fixing the bug would also be a glaring admission that they plan to implement the feature soon. What´s a super-secretive company to do?
Will Apple prove me wrong and announce a new Television on a very special episode of Modern Family? Will they take some time off from these legal proceedings to focus on making Siri better than she is? Will Sir Jony Ive make the Apple Design Lab´s interns follow him around with a “Banging coconuts” app as he trots around campus? Be sure to tune in next week for all the sauciest Apple news, here on RedOrbit.com!