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ATPM 9.05
May 2003




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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the May issue of About This Particular Macintosh! Apple has done it again! What you ask? The new iTunes music service? Yes. But more on the new music service a bit later. We’re talking about releasing new products at the end of the month and on the same day as our publication deadline. Let’s call this the most timely May issue in ATPM history!


© Grant Osborne

iTunes, iPods, and International Ire

That’s right. On April 28th Apple announced the iTunes Music Store. The stores requires a half dozen or so things:

  1. A Mac with Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later
  2. A credit card
  3. iTunes 4
  4. QuickTime 6.2 (recommended)
  5. Broadband Internet access
  6. Residency in the USA

OK, really only five things. But try the new service on dialup at your own risk. The 30-second song demos on dialup take about 20 minutes to play (not really that long, but they do take awhile). For the lucky millions who do have the recommended equipment and meet the all-important residency requirement, there are now 200,000 songs available for download at a cost of only $.99 each.

Of course many of the most vocal Mac users to comment on the service (or lack thereof) live overseas where the iTunes Music Store has yet to open its digital doors. This has raised the ire of Apple’s international user community more quickly than US users can download a couple dollars’ worth of songs.

Accompanying the new music service are new iPods boasting larger drives, smaller forms, and better buttons. The new 30 GB iPod can hold up to 7,500 songs. For the penultimate Mac user digital music experience the cost is only $7,924 ($7,425 for 7,500 songs at $.99 each and $499.00 for the 30 GB iPod). Most users might get by with a less expensive iPod and perhaps a few thousand fewer songs in AAC format. For people not familiar with the new AAC format, it’s richer than MP3, provides for easier anti-piracy protection, and gives a new reason for people to buy a Mac for their music pleasure. At least that’s Apple’s plan; let’s see how consumers respond.

Bottom Line It, Baby

At $.99 per song (Apple will reportedly keep on average $.34 from each song purchase with the balance remitted to the music labels), it will take millions of song downloads for the new music service to appreciably impact Apple’s earnings. It’s still hardware sales that drive Apple’s revenue.

In April Apple announced a net profit of $.04 per share for the three months ended March 29, 2003. Apple’s second fiscal quarter is traditionally the company’s weakest for sales and earnings. During the quarter Apple shipped 711,000 Macintosh units of which more than 40% of were laptops. Due to late shipments of the new 17" PowerBooks, Apple ended the quarter with about 4.5 weeks of channel inventory. Apple’s channel inventory level is among the lowest in the PC industry. This was good news for Apple but a lesson in patience for buyers waiting on delivery of what some call the “TowerBook” because of its size.

Apple ended the quarter with more than $4.5 billion in cash and equivalents. Despite the somewhat tepid earnings report, Apple has increased its cash holding by about $190 million since the beginning of the fiscal year. Apple ended yet another quarter with big cash, small market share, and an anxious Mac community speculating about even more products to come. This might lead a Mac user to say…

So What Else is New?

We’re glad you asked! Final Cut Pro 4 will soon be released, and the ubiquitous iBook received a speed bump and larger hard drive. For digital artists and engineers, the forthcoming Shake 3 has new features and unlimited licenses for distributing work over multiple Macs. For those of us with only $.99 songs available for purchase with our limited technology budgets, Safari Public Beta 2 is available for free download on the Apple site and via Mac OS X’s software update service. There’s more news and information about Mac-related products inside this issue.


Our May issue includes:

The Candy Apple: This Month’s Candy Apple Is Golden (the Golden Rule, That Is)

Ellyn explains why we should pay for what we use.

Report: National Association of Broadcasters Convention 2003

Lee Bennett gets indoctrinated to the NAB experience and describes what it was like.

Interview: Jonathan Gales

Lee Bennett sits down to chat with Jonathan Gales about his latest endeavor:

What’s Under The Hood: Got Vinyl? Converting LPs to CDs—Part 3

Robert C. Lewis concludes his series on converting LPs to CDs by discussing how to split recordings into tracks and then burn them to CD.

How To: Mac OS X’s Acrobatic Moves

New ATPM writer Matthew Coates likes PDFs. He discusses the Acrobat-like features built into Mac OS X and then shows how to use Adobe’s Web site to create PDFs from many different types of files. You don’t have to buy Distiller!

Cartoon: Cortland

This month’s Cortland pokes fun at consultants. Who do they really serve?

Desktop Pictures: Flowers—Part 3

Jens Grabenstein travelled to California and brought back some pictures of flowers.

Review: Google Hacks (book)

If you’re seeking information about the Web’s best search engine, look no further. Kirk McElhearn reviews Google Hacks, a great book whose 300+ pages will tell you everything you ever needed to know about using and programming the site.

Review: Pocket Tanks 1.00b

Fans of Scorched Earth will be interested in reading about Pocket Tanks, reviewed in this issue by Daniel Boland. Pick your weapons and start fighting.

Review: SPSS 11.0

If you’re in need of a heavy-duty statistical analysis program, we’ve got one for you: David A. Zatz reviews the latest version of SPSS, a Mac OS X-only port of the program.

Review: Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor 2.2.2

Knowing how to type is pretty much a necessity, and Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor is one way to learn, offering a way to practice your most troublesome keys, and a few games to reinforce what you’ve learned. Reviewer Gregory Tetrault also suggests several alternative programs to consider.

Review: TiVo Home Media Option

TiVo has been popular for a long time, but you may not know about the TiVo Home Media Option. Eric Blair introduces you to a way to link your Mac and your TiVo together, allowing basic sharing of music and photos between the two platforms.

Review: World War 2 Online Blitzkrieg

Joe Kudrna reviews World War 2 Online Blitzkrieg, a highly detailed online combat simulation game that “spawns” you into WW2. Teamwork is highly important: unlike many shoot ’em up style games, this game doesn’t expect you to win the war alone.


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