Applesauce: All Thing Apple – July 15, 2012
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Why don´t you pour yourself a drink and slip into something a little more fabulous? I´ll pick up the Applesauce.
In the world of tablets, the iPad is James Dean, black leather, back-alley jazz joints, art shows, horizontal wood, the Beatles, and round, black sunshades. It swaggers with confidence, turns heads when it enters a room, drinks gin martinis and punctuates every wise statement it makes with its cigarette, leaving some air in the conversation so what´s just been said can really sink in as it draws a long, satisfying pull. It´s well traveled, has no problems speaking other languages, and knows exactly where you can find the best pho in every town. It knows someone at every bar and always drinks for free. Its no mooch, mind you, it just simply can´t go a night without someone trying to take it home or put it out front for all to see. After all, where the iPad is, there too shall be the crowd.
Then there´s Samsung. Samsung is Joe Rogan, backward caps, LAN arcades, Hooters, vertical wood, Nickelback and wallets on chains. It wears embellished jeans, tries to slip the bouncer a Jackson to move to the head of the line, and makes a point to comment loudly about the latest UFC fight or how drunk it got last night. It always has at least 2 stories better than yours, even though it´s probably never been outside of the state lines. Samsung always wants to be where iPad is, always dressing like it, trying to pull the same moves, know the same people and earn the same respect. Samsung usually has to call and ask where everyone will be that night, only to show up uninvited.
I think Judge Birss said it best about Samsung when he ruled, “They´re not as cool.” Samsung beat out Apple in a London court this week, but only in a manner of speaking. Sure, they get to continue to sell their outdated tablet across the pond and get to keep their heads up, knowing they aren´t losing every battle against Apple. They technically came out on top, but at what cost?
I wonder if ol´ judge Birss knew what would happen when he issued his ruling… “Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of that family with unusual details on the back. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool. The overall impression produced is different.”
Of course this is the court of law in a grown, adult world, sure sure. But I like to imagine the legal team at Apple giving each other high fives and inviting the Samsung team to “Suck it” when Judge Birss handed down this ruling. It´s also just as likely that a good 90% of potential Galaxy Tab buyers will have no idea this ruling was issued, and only 1% of those who do know might be swayed into buying an iPad based on the ruling. All in all, Samsung may have lost a few sales, that´s it. It´s still pretty awesome to have this one on the books for future bragging purposes.
Why You´d Want To Live Here
Just when you thought all this legal mumbo-jumbo only led to judges banning outdated products, only to be un-banned days later, a shimmering symbol of hope emerges like the sun from the Mighty East. Rectangular in shape and Retina´d of screen, the new iPad is finally ready to be fondled, pawed at and lusted over, become the new modern sex symbol of the Chinese Technology world, all thanks to a $60 million settlement which may or may not have been paid out personally by one Tim Cook.
It´s been a long, twisting road that´s led us here. First Apple bought the iPad name from Proview under the clever pen name “IP Application Development.” Of course, Proview didn´t mind selling their precious Intellectual Property for $55,000 when some no-name company was buying. After Apple announced the iPad and it started going like gangbusters, Proview had a change of heart. They began to sue not only in China, but even in the United States, though that little scuffle was short lived.
Last week, it was announced that Apple and Proview finally reached an agreement as a result of some court-encouraged mediation: Apple would pay Proview $60 million, and Proview would, in turn, hand over the rights to use the trademark in China and be quiet about it already.
A bonus aside: There´s a romantic rumor casting about the interwebs this week that Tim Cook, in all his loving goodness, forfeited his $75 million dividend so Apple would have more cash available to pay off Proview.
According to one source, Tim Cook would have felt bad if he took the dividend, knowing that some Apple employees made some “Avoidable mistakes” in the Proview deal. (Tim Cook´s a sweetie.) Though Apple faced the threat of an all-out iPad ban in China, they never had their products pulled from the shelves. Likewise, they sure didn´t make any mention of Proview when they issued a press release this week saying they´d be bringing the new, best-selling iPad to China come July 20th. I can almost hear the eggs hitting the Apple store already.
You remember, of course, the messy situation last time Apple launched an iProduct in China. With the memories of the previous year´s scalpers in mind, many anxious would-be iPhone owners became unruly when the store didn´t open on time. Suddenly, one customer (who was likely mocked by his spouse when he left the house with a breakfast of one dozen eggs) saw his chance to make his mark on history, unleashing his anger as he hurled his yolky protest. I´m taking some story-telling liberties here, of course. It might very well be Chinese custom to bring a dozen eggs when you visit the Apple store. I´ve honestly never been.
Now, in an effort to get ahead of these kinds of scenes, Apple has implemented a lottery-type system to randomly select who gets a piece of the pie. To head off the scalpers, Apple requires a government ID and matching photo. Will Chinese Apple fans get lucky in the lotto?
Different Names For The Same Place
Is this the most Bob Mansfield has ever graced headlines in his entire career with Apple? And right before he leaves, too…shame. It doesn´t happen often, so be sure to remember July 13, 2012, the day Apple admitted they were wrong. It didn´t seem like it was going to be a big deal at first. Apple decided their new designs wouldn´t be compatible with EPEAT standards, so they jumped ship.
“They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” said EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee. “They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don´t want their products measured by this standard anymore.”
Apple, on the other hand, stood firm early this week, before ultimately caving in. “Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2. We also lead the industry by reporting each product´s greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials.”
There were some organizations, however – namely government agencies, universities, etc – who have committed to only buying computers with an EPEAT certification. For a day, there existed a tense stare down between Apple and bureaucracy, a game of chicken between the devices these organizations relied on and the standards their boards had signed into effect. As fate would have it, the first to make their move was the city of San Francisco. Though disappointed, a city spokeswoman said they would not be buying anymore Apple computers if they continued to shirk the EPEAT certification.
It´s interesting to note that Apple didn´t go through their stores, gleefully ripping the EPEAT certification information from the pristine white boxes. Every computer in their lineup which previously bore the certification, like the iMacs and MacBook Pros, is still available for sale. Any company concerned by this could have just stocked up on new computers and worked on their arguments to their boards to have the EPEAT standards reversed.
Bob Mansfield saved them the argument and issued “A letter from Bob Mansfield.”
“We´ve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.” Bob then goes on to boast Apple´s other environmental triumphs, such as their Energy Star 5.2 standards surpassing computers.
There are a few interesting points to ponder as we let Bob´s letter soak in. First, how will Apple make their computers smaller now? They were able to shave some girth from the new MacBook Pros with Retina Display by breaking the EPEAT rules and gluing the battery into the case. With this option gone, how will they continue their lifelong push to thin and sexy machines? Secondly, I´d like to know which organization persuaded them to change their mind. Was it San Francisco?
Anyone who knows Apple knows their departure from EPEAT didn´t mean they were going to implement an “Every New Employee Gets A Hummer!” policy. They still care about the environment, but only so much. More than any other company, probably, but still…only so much. When Apple announces a product, they talk about the design first, the software second and end with the price. The environmental stuff, the recycling policies and Energy Star ratings and EPEAT certification are always last, usually left to a slide with all of their extra bits and bobs which didn´t make the actual performance.
As an example, I challenge you to go find the environmental section of any Apple computer. It´s not hard to find, but it´s not front and center, either. It gets the same treatment on the web as it does in a presentation: tucked away behind Features, Design, Performance (and the rest) at the very bottom of Tech Specs. In the end, Apple is doing their part. Good on them. But didn´t everyone overreact just a little?
The Ice Is Getting Thinner
There wasn´t much in the way of iPhone rumors this week. And then Friday happened. Earlier this week, the oft-quoted, oft-wrong DigiTimes claimed the next iPhone would share a heart with the European-based Samsung Galaxy S III. The DigiTimes piece in question estimates the impending competition between quad-core handsets like the S III. Samsung´s Exynos 4 Quad processor fuses the power of 4 cores but aims to only use the power of 2. As they put it, “To improve power efficiency, Samsung adopted hot-plug functionality to support on-off switching for each core as well as the per-core dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), which offers a dramatic reduction in power consumption by adapting different levels of voltage and frequency when changing workloads.”
By itself, this rumor is potentially exciting. You know, should it be true and all. What makes this rumor “interesting” (at least to those who think these kinds of things are interesting) is that, if true, this would be the first time the iPhone has a better processor than the iPad. Oh sure, I suppose Apple could wow us all and release a new iPad and iPad mini in the same iPhone announcement. Who really knows? The latest iPad was rumored to have an “A6” quad-core processor. Instead, Apple opted for an A5X processor, which offered improved graphics in order to power the Retina Display. The A5X CPU remained dual core, though its GPU was doubled to include quad-core power.
On Friday, website KnowYourMobile.com went on record, saying they could “exclusively reveal” that Apple would be announcing a new iPhone on August 7. For those playing along at home, August 7th falls just 2 weeks after Apple´s upcoming earnings call on July 24th. Some expect Apple to release Mountain Lion the next day, just as they released Lion last year. Know Your Mobile also cites another post in which they say Apple is moving ahead of their planned October date to head off any ground Samsung could be gaining with their S III. Know Your Mobile even goes so far as to end their short post with “Make sure to check back with us on August 7 when we´ll have live coverage of Apple´s announcement.” Got that, everyone? Mark your calendars so you remember to check back to their site. Because, you know, just because they had the “exclusive,” you´ll want to stop visiting the sites you already know and trust.
Now, you´re a smart person. I know it. You know that Apple doesn´t bump up their launch schedule just because some other phone is said to be selling well. We won´t know how well the S III is selling until Samsung releases the numbers, or an analyst issues a report full of some pretty well-educated guesses. Sure, Samsung did say they expect to sell 10 million by July, but we won´t know for sure until we see some numbers. And you can bet we see some real numbers come July 24th when Apple hosts their earnings call. No matter which way this thing rolls out, we´re getting closer every day. I hope you´re getting excited and carrying out the appropriate pre-iPhone launch rituals.