Welcome to the March issue of ATPM, the latest iteration of the quintessential monthly Macintosh Internet magazine. We come to you this month from atop the digital music distribution market. Despite the efforts of rivals, Apple’s iTunes Music Store continues to lead in its ascendant industry. Boasting well over 30 million songs sold, the music store’s rivals continue to struggle in building sales and revenue.
How long will the iTunes Music Store hold its commanding market position? The next few months will reveal the answer.
Mini iPod, Maxi Price
In February, Apple released the iPod mini. Priced at $249, the diminutive digital music player comes to market at a high-margin price. Apple is comparing the price on the munchkin-sized player with the $199 tag on digital music players with flash memory for storage rather than hard drives. Critics are focusing on the price, while Apple is focusing on meeting demand. More than 100,000 iPod minis were ordered ahead of the product’s release.
$23.92 and Rising?
AAPL finished February at $23.92 per share, crossing over the $24.00 per share marker only briefly during the last trading day of the month. AAPL has been trading in a narrow range between $20 and $24 per share. Now debt-free and still overflowing with cash, Apple has about $12 per share in cash and equivalents behind every share.
Despite the overwhelming success of the iPod and the company’s market leadership in the nascent legal music download market, Apple’s share price remains well below its historical highs. What will move AAPL higher? Analysts are intrigued by the revenue and profits Apple generates from “outside the box” sales of iPods, AppleCare, .Mac, etc. but the slowing pace of G5 sales is causing concern.
Goodbye, Mr. Anderson
Fred Anderson, Apple’s Chief Financial Officer, is retiring in June. Credited as the architect of Apple’s strong balance sheet, Mr. Anderson’s tenure at Apple revealed the genius of a soft-spoken man who quietly restored Apple to financial health while reducing the company’s tax expenses.
Under Mr. Anderson’s leadership, Apple aggressively expensed R&D investments and acquisition costs to reduce taxes as the company built its cash position and improved its cash flow. In February, Apple paid off the last of its remaining long-term debt.
Fred Anderson came to Apple from payroll services company ADP, where he had overseen the financial operations of that company during a time of explosive growth. Arriving at Apple during the tenure of former CEO Gil Amelio, Fred Anderson quickly arranged new financing to keep the company afloat while it hemorrhaged cash and market share. Perhaps it’s a form of justice that Mr. Anderson will witness the elimination of the debt package he once arranged to keep the company viable and alive.
Hello, San Francisco
Apple has opened its latest retail store in the heart of San Francisco. Home to the 60s counter-culture, San Francisco stands as a metropolitan oxymoron. It’s a city known to be culturally liberal but socially staid. Once derided by Jerry Brown, former California Governor and current Mayor of nearby Oakland, as “a theme park for yuppies,” the city by the bay joins Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo as locations with flagship Apple retail stores.
Apple v. Apple Corps
The epic court battle pitting Apple against Apple Corps has commenced in a British court. In question is Apple’s ability to enter the music market in light of an agreement once signed between the two companies that, in exchange for the use of the Apple name, prohibited the computer company from entering the music world.
Apple Corps is the record company owned by the Beatles. One wonders if Apple will use some of the cash acquired during Mr. Anderson’s time to purchase what remains of the Beatles’ label to further the company’s transition into the digital entertainment market, not to mention also end the current litigation.
Have A Pepsi, Win A Song (Maybe)
The $100 million Pepsi iTunes music promotion is now halfway over. Winning bottle caps and fountain cups will disappear from retail shelves and convenience store outlets on March 31, 2004. In addition to specially marked 20 oz. soda bottles with winning caps, many 7-11 stores are offering 32 oz. fountain cups with winning codes. Consumers have a one in three chance of winning a free song through the iTunes Music Store by purchasing the specially marked products.
No matter the number of winning codes redeemed, Apple is a winner in this promotion as the Apple logo is conspicuously displayed in thousands of retail and convenience store locations. Have you won a song via of this promotion? It’s an easy way to add to your digital music collection.
Virginia Tech’s High Tech Slim Down
The folks at Virginia Tech are swapping their dual 2 GHz G5 mini-towers for dual 2 GHz Xserves to reduce the size of the now famous Big Mac supercomputer cluster. Constructed by students in record time, the Virginia Tech Mac-based supercomputer ranks third in the world for supercomputer performance. Some of the 1,100 G5 Macintoshes in the original cluster are now available through an Apple authorized catalog reseller.
Apple has been quietly adding new features and products to its subscription-based .Mac service. Products and services now include free tutorials, games, and plug-ins and filters for iLife ’04 applications. Once derided as a premium-priced service lacking real benefits other than a mac.com e-mail address, .Mac may be worth a second look by Mac users who passed on the service when it first debuted.
Each issue of ATPM includes product reviews, thoughtful columns and entertaining commentaries about the personal computing experience. Our March issue includes:
The Candy Apple: Clutter, Clutter Everywhere
Ellyn Ritterskamp discusses spam, the Do-Not-Call Registry, and a new Apple store.
The Desktop Muse: The World’s Biggest Jam Session
David Ozab shares his punditry about the inevitable appearance of GarageBand Web communities.
Bloggable: The Headless iMac Rides Again
Whether you’re interested in the “headless” iMac, syncing your Palm OS handheld to your Mac, a critique of OS X from a usability writer, OmniWeb’s latest and greatest beta, Macworld Boston and a keynote from Jack of As the Apple Turns or the 20th anniversary of the Mac, well, you can read all about it here.
Hollywood: Did You See the Super Bowl?
The Hollywood Guy is back with thoughts on the Apple/Pepsi promotion, draconian tactics by the MPAA and RIAA, and Eminem’s law suit against Apple.
About This Particular Outliner: Legacy Outliners
This month, Ted Goranson takes a look at abandoned “classic” Mac outliners that have unique features, still work, and are worth your while to explore.
NeoCort easily fends off the Agents, but…
The iTrolls encounter mentally challenged gamers, losing a CFO, the blue sphere, Wintel know-it-alls, and Michael Eisner.
Desktop Pictures: Bora Bora
This month’s desktop pictures, submitted by an ATPM reader, were taken on a vacation to Bora Bora and Moorea, two islands in French Polynesia.
Review: Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 2nd ed. (book)
Is it worth owning? Can it really fit in your pocket? David answers both questions in his review.
An overpriced piece of metal fails to earn high marks from Chris Lawson.
Review: XRay 1.0.9
Eric Blair gets the lowdown on the on XRay, another entry into the Get Info utility field.
Review: You Control 1.0.1
Is You Control worth its price, especially when its predecessor was free? Lee Bennett says, “maybe.”