Latest Mac Adverts Not So Genius

By Alex Brooks
It’s not very often Apple runs a dedicated ad campaign all about the Mac. In fact the last time Apple ran a campaign was the incredibly successful “Get a Mac” ads starring Justin Long and John Hodgeman in 2006. The ads which had sibling runs in Japan and the UK were cultural icons, parodied and imitated over and over again. Get a Mac lasted four years until Apple killed it in 2010. Apple has not stopped advertising individual Mac machines since 2010 but it was time for a new campaign all about the Mac.
Yesterday during NBC’s delayed run of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony Apple ran a number of new ads dedicated to the Mac, the ads don’t have an umbrella name yet but they do have a running theme. Each ad, there are currently three, feature the same Apple Genius who finds himself in a quirky situation where an oblivious individual either needs help on their Mac or is unaware of the unique benefits.

These ads are however not very Apple like and fly in the face of Apple’s principles of marketing which has long been to show off the product and what it can do. Now I hear you, you’re saying that the “Get a Mac” ads didn’t show off features either and this is true, if I’m honest I didn’t particularly like the layout of those ads either. What the Get a Mac ads did well that these new runs don’t was create an air of discovery around the Mac, they encouraged those who didn’t understand the ads to head to an Apple Store or online to find out what the fuss was about. The same argument could be said for this run but I don’t see them as catchy enough or interesting enough.

Whilst I like the ads take on having a Genius deal with problems, a throwback to the popularity of Apple’s retail stores I suspect the quirky situations will have little traction with consumers. This is all made worse because we now know how great Apple’s advertising can be. When the original Get a Mac ads started in 2006 the iPhone nor the iPad even existed in the public realm, the initial run of iPhone ads showed off the iPhone and what it did. That premise has changed very little, even the latest Siri ad shows the actual interface and a real world-ish situation. Apple’s iPad ads are equally as weighted towards showing the device and software, the great ads that showed how effective FaceTime was at connecting families around the world was a down to earth and simple way of showing an iOS feature.

This begs to question as to why Apple continues to shy way from showing OS X and the great software that runs on it? Two of the three adverts that aired last night don’t even feature a Mac in them (don’t even get me started on the number of women who show up in Apple’s ads). Maybe these ads are meant to send the message that if you buy a Mac then Apple is on hand to help? They send more of a message that if you buy a Mac then you’ll need help. Didn’t Apple once use a slogan, It Just Works?
Apple wouldn’t advertise the iPhone or iPad in this way so I have little confidence that a dude in a blue t-shirt throwing out names like iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie, photobooks and letter pressed cards might pique the interest of some but for most will be a dull advert that does little to sell the Mac brand.

Source: World of Apple


Apple Unleashes Mountain Lion

By Alex Brooks Mountain Lion Notification Center on a MacBook Air | Image courtesy of Apple
Today Apple has released OS X Mountain Lion onto the Mac App Store and into the hands of many eagerly awaiting customers. Priced at just $19.99 (£13.99) this marks Apple’s cheapest update and the first OS in a cycle in which Apple proclaims it will deliver an upgrade a year. This philosophy means that the upgrades will be small iteration updates, not the gigantic feature packed updates of the past.
In February when Mountain Lion was announced I wrote up the basic changes that extend far and wide but not necessarily so deep.

Starting with iCloud the integration is everywhere you look. From iCloud tabs across iOS devices in Safari to Documents in the Cloud in apps that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Also coming across is now a very well integrated Messages app bringing across iMessages from iOS. Also coming from iOS is Reminders and Notes, naturally they seamlessly sync over iCloud. If that wasn’t enough the Notification Center has also made it to OS X.
Some of the really new and innovative features include Power Nap which means your Mac can do things when asleep such as periodically updating Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Photo Stream, Find My Mac, and Documents in the Cloud. Controversially Gate Keeper now keeps a much closer eye on apps being downloaded from anywhere but the Mac App Store. In fact it’s now possible to make it impossible to download software from anywhere but.
But don’t let me ruin all the surprises, head over to the Mac App Store and grab Mountain Lion for yourself.
I do however recommend some reviews that will help you in your understanding of the changes in Mountain Lion.
If you’re looking for extreme detail then look no further than John Siracusa’s review at Ars Technica equally as large is Matthew Panzarino’s review at TNW, for a concise run down then John Gruber has one of them.
For the more consumer focused look then I recommend Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop and Richard Gaywood at TUAW.
There’s also a lot more out there, here’s just some:
Shawn Blanc
512 pixels

Source: World of Apple


Apple Delivers Revenue of $35bn During Q312

By Alex Brooks Apple’s Q312 actual revenue compared to estimate
Apple today announced financial results for its third fiscal quarter of 2012 which ran from April 1 until June 30. The Company posted revenue of $35 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $28.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.3 billion, or $7.79 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 42.8 percent compared to 41.7 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue.
During the quarter Apple also sold 4 million Macs representing a 2 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. Apple also sold 26 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 28 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter as well as 6.8 million iPods during the quarter, representing a 10 percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 17 million iPads during the quarter, a 84 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.
At the end of the quarter Apple held cash and equivalents to the value of $117.2 billion.

“We’re thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release Mountain Lion tomorrow and will be launching iOS 6 this Fall. We are also really looking forward to the amazing new products we’ve got in the pipeline.”
“We’re continuing to invest in the growth of our business and are pleased to be declaring a dividend of $2.65 per share today,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter, we expect revenue of about $34 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $7.65.”
iPhone unit shipments (Q312)
iPad unit shipments (3Q12)

Source: World of Apple


Ahead of Apple’s Q312 Results

By Alex Brooks This week Apple will announce the results of its fiscal third quarter of 2012. The results come amidst Apple’s competitors reporting not such impressive news and the International Monetary Fund talking of slowing economies around the world including Apple’s key growth markets: Brazil, China and India.
Last week Microsoft announced a quarterly net loss of $492 million following a $6.2 billion write-down for the value of its troubled online unit. During the same quarter last year Microsoft made a profit of $5.87 billion. Nokia also delivered lacklustre news although the market took it well, selling 4 million of its Lumia smartphones, running Windows Phone 7, a number double that of the previous quarter. However Nokia did report a $1.7 billion loss during the quarter. Then there is RIM, the maker of Blackberry handsets, who reported a 33% drop in revenue and announced that its upcoming operating system will be delayed until early 2013.
Compared to this rather biased look at Apple’s competitors Apple should give an impressive quarter. Estimates on the market range from $35 billion to $46 billion in revenue. The consensus is around $41 billion for revenue for the quarter on an EPS of about $11.5.

Apple’s quarterly revenue with company’s own Q3 estimate
The third quarter which ran from March 31 until June 30 included the company’s anticipated revamp of its MacBook lineup towards the end of the period which included a refresh MacBook Air and Pro as well as the new Retina MacBook Pro. Whilst the MacBook Pro with Retina has been constrained by stock through the quarter Apple’s popular MacBook Air should have sold in good volume.
Mac sales are expected to come in at around 4.5 million for the quarter.
The iPhone likely had a strong quarter but compared to Q2 when the iPhone launched in China sales may show little quarter-over-quarter change. iPhone sales will likely land below the 30 million mark with the consensus sitting around 28 million. Fortune’s Apple 2.0 blog highlights that these estimates often discount the role of China which saw 3G subscribers increase by 118% year-over-year in June.
The iPad will continue to be Apple’s strong performer with sales around the mid-20 million mark representing year-over-year growth in excess of 150%. The new iPad was released in China on July 20th, outside of Apple’s Q3 period but mixed with the back to school period in Q4, expect a blow out results session in October.

Source: World of Apple


The Unlikely Smaller iPad Moves Into Sight

By Alex Brooks 7.85-inch iPad mini with third generation iPad and iPhone 4S (to scale)
We know for sure that whenever it arrives it will be accompanied by some sandpaper. That is if Steve Jobs’ quote from October 2010 is anything to go by when he stated that Apple had done extensive testing on the screen sizes of tablets and concluded that 10-inches is the minimum size for a tablet “unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size.”
However one could assume that whatever Steve Jobs says isn’t going to happen usually does, at least that applies to Apple’s entrance into the mobile phone market and how video became available on the iPod shortly after Jobs described that as somewhere Apple wouldn’t venture.

This week has seen rumours of a 7-inch iPad reach fever pitch but it’s not the first we’ve heard of this device. Some could speculate that Apple has been spurred on by the entrance of Google and Microsoft into the tablet scene, particularly the former with its 7-inch offering. Historically though Apple is not reactionary to changes in the market and simply releases products when it feels they are ready.
Wall Street Journal wrote in February that Apple was “working with Asian component suppliers to test a new tablet computer with a smaller screen”. It was noted that the device had a screen size around 8-inches but similar resolution to the iPad 2 (1024 x 768). Then in April John Gruber weighed in saying “I do know is that they have one in the lab, a 7.85″ iPad that runs at 1024 x 768. And it’s just like the 9.7-inch iPad shrunk down a little bit.” Although just five days ago Gruber tweeted a revised size of 7.7-inches.
7.85-inch iPad mini with iPhone 4S (to scale)
iMore kicked things off firmly with a report in May stating that Apple was tracking for an October release of a 7-inch iPad priced in the $200-$250 range. The move is said to be reminiscent of what happened with the iPod in the mid-2000s when Apple began targeting cheaper markets to compete with growing competition. With both Google and Amazon now in the 7-inch tablet space, this could well be the case.
This week Bloomberg weighed in citing “two people familiar with the plans,” who stated that Apple intends to release this smaller iPad before the years end—possibly in the October timeframe. Bloomberg agrees on the details too, saying that it will “have the same number of pixels as those in the iPad before it was upgraded to the so-called Retina Display earlier this year”.
The Wall Street Journal has today thrown its weight behind these rumours again although this time stirring my own pessimistic mind. Agreeing once again on the details the WSJ pinpoints a device with a display slightly smaller than 8-inches. However the WSJ adds that “component suppliers” are preparing for mass production in September, for a release later this year.
MG Siegler has commented on the idea of an October launch, which would coincide with the release of the iPhone. MG believes, as do I, that such a timeframe would not be particularly Apple like. Apple is a company that enjoys delivering a very clearly focused message at events, launching both a new iPhone and whole new iPad either at the same event or within close proximity to each other seems highly unlikely.
Matthew Panzarino’s tweet earlier today (who incidentally has a good analysis from May on the potential 7-inch iPad scene) spurred me on to suspect that whilst the iPad mini is definitely on the cards it won’t see the light of day in October.
Take for example the next iPhone, we can’t be sure that they are genuine parts but we’ve seen a steady stream of parts leak from the supply chain over the last few months. It’s clear that manufacturing has begun of the next iPhone and it will be released in October. Where are the parts belonging to the 7-inch iPad? If the WSJ believes in its statement of manufacturing beginning in volume in September then this iPad won’t see the light of day until November or even early next year.

Source: World of Apple


Future Retina Macs

By Alex Brooks MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Final Cut Pro
In early May I wrote about how Apple was going to make use of Intel’s latest processors in this years generation of Macs. At the time no Macs had been updated during 2012 and the iMac amongst others was looking long in the tooth, although that was nothing compared to the Mac Pro. As WWDC approached it became clear that other than a focus on software Apple would give some significant attention to the Mac.
Notably missing in my piece on Ivy Bridge Macs was any discussion about the direction of the MacBook Pro and any predictions about Apple’s use of Retina displays in Macs.
Now WWDC has passed we can see how Apple’s Mac roadmap is shaping up and whilst Apple certainly surprised me with some of the the updates they delivered the majority of the news out of San Francisco earlier this month was in line with expectation. I wrote up the details of Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina Display after the keynote and the minor changes to the rest of the MacBook Pro lineup and the MacBook Air, I’ll cover that briefly and then move on.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Aperture
Starting with Apple’s new Mac known officially as the MacBook Pro with Retina Display (MBPwRD) or far more colloquially called the Retina MacBook Pro. The headline feature of Apple’s new high-end portable Mac is of course the display that rocks in at 15.4-inches with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels for a total number of pixels exceeding 5 million.
Inside Apple spared no engineering prowess and made the first MacBook Pro with a fully flash-based architecture. Rocking Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge quad-core processors and NVIDIA’s Kepler graphics, all models come with SSDs (up to 768GB), no optical drive and as standard 8GB of RAM (configurable up to 16GB). The speed improvements continue outside the machine as well with two Thunderbolt ports, a HDMI connection and for the first time in a Mac USB 3.0 ports—two of them.
This was the machine I avoided talking about when I was writing my predictions for this year’s Macs. I suspected that if Apple was to move in this direction then it’d take the whole MacBook Pro line that way not simply add to it—although product numbers are unchanged with the demise of the 17-inch MacBook Pro. Apple has clearly decided that cost is a factor with this new machine and that it’s too soon to not be able to buy a Mac notebook with an optical drive and a 1TB hard drive.
Additionally I couldn’t work out how Apple would keep the raw power of the MacBook Pro lineup and cram it into a smaller enclosure without some serious heat issues. It’s still a bit early to tell how well Apple has dealt with the sheer heat output of Intel’s quad-core Ivy Bridge processors and a reasonably powerful GPU but so far reports look positive. Some careful engineering of air movement and newly designed asymmetric fan designs are aimed at cooling the machine more efficiently whilst generating less noise.
So Apple has kept the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models around, they still have optical drives, they can have an SSD or up to a 1TB hard drive. Along with some healthy upgrades to Intel’s Ivy Bridge and some updated graphics the MacBook Pro also got USB 3.0.
MacBook Air (Mid 2012)
Just like the MacBook Pro the MacBook Air fell more in line with expectations getting a modest update, Ivy Bridge processors from Intel made their way into the MacBook Air delivering significant speed increases. Coupled with Ivy Bridge was the inclusion of USB 3.0 connectivity. What I didn’t write about back in May was the potential changes to SSDs within the MacBook Air, apart from being able to configure a MacBook Air with up to 512GB of storage the type of SSD Apple is now using is also notably faster. AnandTech has a detailed write up about the changes to SSDs in the new MacBook Air line.
The Mac Pro also got an update, but not an impressive one. After over two years without a refresh the Mac Pro retains the same look and basically the same innards. Instead of sticking in Intel’s latest processors Apple decided to use older generation chips, the same applies to the mediocre graphics options. Unlike its portable brethren the Mac Pro didn’t get any Thunderbolt ports or an upgrade to USB 3.0. The fallout from this insulting update was handled by Apple in an extraordinary way with the company all but announcing a significant and worthy update to the Mac Pro next year.
Unsurprisingly but in a change to Apple’s usual ways the company clearly opted to focus on its mobile Macs. Apple sells more notebooks than desktops and clearly with the advent of high resolution displays desktops are slowly on there way out in the consumer sphere. This is different because Apple’s iMac usually leads the pack when it comes to refreshes, however this year the iMac languishes behind.
Apple left two Macs without an update this month: the iMac and the Mac mini. Both are relatively easy to predict in terms of direction. All that was said in the original Ivy Bridge Mac predictions holds true, the Mac mini is unaffected by the movement towards Retina displays and the iMac won’t see such a development for 12-18 months.
Once the iMac and Mac mini move over to Ivy Bridge, presumably sometime in July this year, that’ll likely be Apple’s Mac lineup to take us through the back to school period and into the holiday season until it begins again next year.
So what happens in 2013?
It’s easy to see which direction Apple is heading with its Macs and that is towards Retina displays. Ryan Block did some number crunching when it comes to how Apple will decide what resolution display to put into its future Macs.
As Block explains Apple just doubled the resolution of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to get to the resolution in the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. This is the same as Apple did with both the iPhone and iPad, yet this solution would probably not be ideal for the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air. The 13-inch Air actually shares the same resolution as the 15-inch display as the MacBook Pro with a resolution of 1440 x 900 (127 PPI) and the 11-inch has a bizarrely high resolution display for its price with 135 pixels per inch.
Apple has decided that based on the distance that a notebook is used that the PPI needn’t be as high as that on the iPad or iPhone and simply doubling the resolution of the MacBook Air models would give needlessly high resolution displays. As Block writes, it is wise to base the 13-inch Airs display on the doubling of the 13-inch MacBook Pro display which would yield a 2560 x 1600 for a PPI of 227.
For the 11-inch Air, Block doesn’t simply double the resolution which would deliver a display with a higher PPI than the iPad 3 and instead he shoots for a 220 PPI range and comes out with a potential resolution range of 2200-2300 x 1200-1300.
Early-2011 iMac Family
The 27-inch iMac which is unlikely to see a jump to Retina displays at the same time as the MacBook Air would see its enormous display pushed to a resolution of 5120 x 2880 (217 PPI), the 21.5-inch iMac presents more of a dilemma as doubling its already low 1920 x 1080 would mean a lowly 205 PPI display. Block speculates that in this case Apple would do more than double the resolution.
Let’s condense that:
15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display – 2880 x 1800 (220 PPI)
13-inch MacBook Air/Pro – 2560 x 1600 (227 PPI)
11-inch MacBook Air – 2200-2300 x 1200-1300 (220 PPI)
27-inch iMac/Thunderbolt Display – 5120 x 2880 (218 PPI)

In 2013 Intel will also move away from the Ivy Bridge architecture into the era of Haswell (get used to that name). In line with Intel’s tick tock principle next years generation of Haswell will remain 22nm as the current generation of Sandy Bridge (tick generation of Sandy Bridge was Sandy Bridge and tock was Ivy Bridge, easy right?). The Haswell roadmap of features is still being kept as closely guarded as possible but some of the headline features that are rumoured include a focus on quad-core processors, 256KB L2 data cache per core and up to 32MB L3 cache shared by all cores, 15W TDP processors, continued advances in power management, and native support for dual channel DDR3.
The question on everybody’s minds though is how will Apple proceed with the MacBook Pro line. The current Retina MacBook Pro is expensive but not all of that expense is in that high-resolution display, a lot of it is in the engineering costs and expensive flash-based innards.
It’s too early to tell whether next year Apple will kill the 15-inch MacBook Pro with the optical drive, or even the 13-inch for that matter. But the writing is on the table.
It’s rumoured that the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display will come before this year is out. That seems likely and with a better yield on the Retina displays Apple will finally be able to push them into the cheaper MacBook Air line and have conditioned consumers to accept that optical drives are a thing of the past which coupled with rapidly decreasing SSD prices will see a complete Retina lineup for MacBooks in 2013.
What are your predictions for the future of Macs? Tweet me @alexbrooks or @worldofapple.

Source: World of Apple