Welcome to the January issue of About This Particular Macintosh! This issue marks the start of our 13th calendar year of continuous publication. We look forward to bringing you our unique view of the “personal computing experience” each month of this year and in the many months and years to come.
For yet another Christmas season, the iPod ruled the consumer electronics space. According to media reports, the iTunes site experienced a more than 400% increase in activity on Christmas Day 2006 versus the year before. In fact, as many of us with iTunes gift cards encountered, the increase in activity brought the iTunes music and movie store to a near halt.
At press time, Apple has not released sales data for the iPod during the Christmas quarter. We expect surprising iPod sales numbers when Apple releases its quarterly financial reports later this month.
QuickTime’s Quick Pace
The iPod’s popularity has quickened the pace of QuickTime installations. Anyone with an iPod and new PC at Christmas made a requisite stop at Apple’s iTunes site to download the combined QuickTime/iTunes installer. While many people focus on the success of iTunes, the battle for control of content distribution in the personal computer space involves QuickTime and its competitors. Long the straggler against Windows Media Player and Real Player in the fight for media player supremacy, QuickTime is now quickly emerging as a market leader and the preferred player among consumers for multimedia content.
Watch for the importance of QuickTime in Apple’s overall product strategy to come into better focus in 2007.
Ten Years of Steve
In 1997 ATPM chronicled the return of Steve Jobs to Apple Computer. In the ten years since his arrival back at the company he co-founded, we have witnessed the resurgence of the Mac, the introduction of the iPod, and the release of Mac OS X. This year may be among the most productive for the Mac maker and the most prolific in terms of society-changing product releases for the man at the helm.
I Want My iTV (Now)
The chorus is getting larger, and the clamor is becoming louder as the Mac faithful await the release of Apple’s iTV digital content distribution device. Designed to sit between your Mac or PC and big-screen (or smaller screen) TV, Apple’s latest consumer electronics product is expected in the first quarter of 2007. iTunes and QuickTime will be integral to the new product’s functionality and commercial success.
There’s no doubt gift cards have become popular with both gift givers and those who receive them. 2006 witnessed record sales of iTunes gift cards as the ubiquitous iPod in its many colors and models sold more units than ever and iTunes gift cards became a favorite gift to give and receive.
In fact, the shift in music purchasing habits from direct to credit card billing to gift card purchases led one research firm to erroneously claim iTunes Music Store sales had plummeted. The firm tracked the volume of iTunes credit card transactions rather than those transactions plus the redemption of gift cards to purchase music. In short, iTunes gift cards have created their own form of music currency.
What few outside the gift card industry have considered is the value of time—the time between when a card is purchased and when it is redeemed—and the dollars made by Apple as the company invests those dollars pending their use by the consumer at the iTunes music and movie store.
Like the iPod, Apple’s iTV will lead to a shift in the way people purchase and enjoy recorded entertainment. Big movies will mean big dollars as consumers purchase both music and movies from Apple for enjoyment on an iPod and iTV. As consumers purchase iTunes gift cards from Apple at retailers just about everywhere, the time value of these purchases will only add to Apple’s success.
Lost in all of the holiday hoopla about the iPod, the resurgence in Macintosh sales has infrequently been mentioned in the press. For the three months just ended (Apple’s first fiscal quarter), the company will report record shipments of Macintosh computers vaulting the company back into the #3 spot among PC makers in US sales. It’s the growth in Macintosh sales that is the unheralded story. Apple’s record quarterly revenue and earnings to be disclosed this month are as much about the Mac as the iPod. Expect the Macintosh unit sales report to reveal impressive year-over-year gains in units sold. The year-ago period (the fourth calendar quarter of 2005) was the last quarterly period before Apple’s Intel product transition began.
Out With the Old, In With the New
On the final business day of 2006, Apple Computer filed its long awaited and delinquent Form 10-Q for the quarter ended July 1, 2006 and Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2006. The filings were delayed due to the company’s internal investigation regarding stock option irregularities. The internal probe of the options irregularities was led by outside director Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States. The report from the special committee led by Mr. Gore cleared all members of Apple’s current management of wrongdoing while indicating a restatement to past earnings of $84 million in non-cash charges. The 10-Q and 10-K filings bring to an end a matter that had concerned management, shareholders, and regulators since the company publicly announced in July its own findings of stock option backdating irregularities.
January’s annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco may bring some surprises. In addition to Apple’s previously announced iTV, Mac and iPod enthusiasts are awaiting news on a much-rumored iPod phone and more information about Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) to be released in the spring of 2007. We’ll cover the highlights from the expo in our February issue.
In With the Old, Out With the New
Since the day our first issue was uploaded to Apple’s eWorld server in 1995, the world of Macintosh computing has changed and grown. This year in particular we see growth in the reach of the Macintosh market and new Apple products that will change the way we use technology and enjoy entertainment.
Our mission over the past thirteen years has been to chronicle the Macintosh and Apple product user experience in a unique and personal way. Our mission continues. Our legacy allows us to keep in mind the past while we speak out about today and offer insights about the products and user experience of tomorrow.
Our January issue includes:
Mac About Town: Looking Forward to 2007
Mike Chamberlain muses about his hopes and intents for 2007.
Photoshop for the Curious: An Overview, Part 2
In part two of this overview exploring the Photoshop interface, we’ll get familiar with Photoshop’s palette windows.
Desktop Pictures: Fireworks
This month’s set of desktop photos features a new collection of fireworks to help celebrate the arrival of 2007.
An unlikely coworker reveals he not only has a girlfriend, but also goes swing dancing and coaxes a reluctant Cortland to come along.
Review: Audio Hijack Pro 2.7
Wes Meltzer likes the many features of Audio Hijack Pro, but all are diminished by its failure at a basic Skype recording session on his 800 MHz PowerBook.
Review: coconutBattery 2.5
David Thompson checks out this free battery condition monitor and ponders why it puts so much load on his CPU.
Review: DAZ/Studio 1.4.16
Chris Dudar joins the ATPM staff and is planning a series of articles about 3D software and Web site publication. This month, he begins with the free DAZ/Studio.
Review: iTalk Pro
Since the original iTalk earned an Excellent rating, Lee Bennett had high expectations for the iTalk Pro. Those expectations were short-lived.