Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in January, 2006

Well, I finally watched the keynote. Streaming with the new codecs in QuickTime 7.0.4 has improved amazingly, I had almost no skipping or stalling at over double the size and quality of last year’s keynote.

Unfortunately the first hour of the keynote was extremely dull… all that US-centric stuff about “bowl games” and “SNL” (both of which I had to look up)… or long demos of messing around with iMovie and iDVD (which I’ve never used) or .mac (ditto)… or podcasts and photocasts. Apparently I’m no longer inside Apple’s main user demographic, and receding further away from it at high speed. I suppose I should be grateful cellphones were not mentioned.

That said, things picked up considerably when the new Macs were shown. No “Otel Inside”, oops, I mean, “Intel Inside”, quite predictably but still a relief. Otellini’s entrance was well-scripted and his mentioning that they had “over a thousand people working on this” was very interesting. (I skipped over the Microsoft part, though.)

Better still, from my standpoint as an investor, AAPL stock climbed steadily throughout the keynote and even gained in after-hours trading, probably a first. It used to fall on both bad news (“told you so”) and good news (“they can’t keep this up!”). While I write this, it’s up over $4 beyond the coincidental $80.86 it closed at on that day.

Regarding the new Macs themselves, I’ll post detailed comments soon. For now, it’s interesting to note that choosing the iMac and the PowerBook/MacBook Pro for refreshing now looks quite logical… the mini wouldn’t have weathered the “same design, same specs, same price” idea as well, for instance, and they couldn’t have done an iBook/MacBook non-Pro for the same price either. Developer discounts on the new Macs dropped to 10% for the iMac and 20% for the MacBook, which indicates that margins are slimmer for now.

One thing which nobody else has commented on yet is that all the new Macs have very customized motherboards. This was of course to be expected for the MacBook, as space in laptops is always at a premium, but the iMac is now fully laptop-like in its internal construction. The last iMac G5 looks completely different internally from the 2nd generation one, and I expect the iMac Core Duo (I suppose that’s the official name?) to be different again.

The effect of that will probably be that people will have little or no luck trying to find a standard-Intel motherboard to run pirated Mac OS X 10.4.4 on. We’ll soon know more details, but I’m reasonably sure that Apple is using their own controller chip, as they always do. Also, both models use EFI instead of BIOS or Open Firmware… as far as I know, there’s no standard 32-bit motherboard out with EFI either. More on that later.

I stayed up late yesterday, trying to collate the flying rumors and opinions into some semblance of order.

As it got later and later it struck me that a comment I’d read earlier – that all these rumors and opinions reflect what people would like to see announced, instead of what is likely to be announced – seemed to describe the situation exactly. (Sorry, I can’t find the URL again for proper attribution.) In fact, I found my own preliminary text to be similarly biased. Also, some of the implications are too US-centric or too far removed from my own experience to make it possible for me to comment on; I’m not a .mac user, I don’t have access to the iTunes music store, etc.

Also, my (highly recommended!) ISP has announced a few hours of downtime to coincide with the period after the keynote, so I won’t be able to comment immediately anyway.

So, I’ve reread my previous postings on the Mac/Intel subject and still find them reasonable… and tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll be able to post a more informed commentary. So, relax and watch the blinkenlights.

Back in August, I wrote:
Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

…Let’s suppose Steve Jobs goes psycho and deploys the Mac Intel machines with full TPM, TCPA, DRM and whatnot.

…Let’s suppose that we all go mad as well and continue to buy Macs at current quantities or better – say, 5 to 7 million a year.

Now Forbes says:

[J.P. Morgan research analyst Christopher] Danely said Intel should ship its processors into roughly 55% of Apple’s calendar 2006 PC shipments, which should translate into roughly 4.8 million processors.

That is, at the low end of my estimate. I supposed, for the sake of argument, that all new Macs would be Intel-based, but of course selling 10 million Macs a year is OK with me… icon_wink.gif

So my conclusion still stands:
Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

What would happen?

Why, the current installed base is something over 30 million PowerPC Macs (or even more, depending on your sources). By the end of 2007, Intel Macs will be perhaps 15% of that. It will take at least 5 years, probably more, for Intel Macs to surpass the PowerPC Mac installed base. In other words, non-TPM systems will be in the majority for several years. Can you see Apple (or their stockholders, of which I’m one) restricting such important markets to 15% of their customers? Or even 50%? For years??

Interestingly, the article also says:

[Danely] estimates that every 1 million processors shipped to Apple Computer… would result in a little less than 1 cent of incremental earnings per share at Intel.

So Apple’s direct impact on Intel’s bottom line will be about 5%; relatively low, but in terms of marketing impact very significant. Intel’s recent announcements about branding and focus changes are very Apple-aligned… Intel’s complete silence about anything Apple-related at CES means they’re playing along with Steve Jobs to preserve the impact of next week’s keynote announcements. Let’s stay tuned.

The 2006 MacFixit Toolbox Awards are out and XRay is listed first, with a Gold Award! (It won a Silver Award previously in 2001). Before you ask, yes, looks like I’ll finally be able to restart work on XRay 2 this week.

Other Gold winners are Charles Srstka’s Pacifist, which I use quite frequently (thanks Charles!), and SuperDuper, which I really should begin using Real Soon Now.

Congratulations also to my pal Mark Douma, who got a Silver Award for Font Finagler


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Well, I was going to write something long and profound about either the past year or the new year…

…turned out I spent all day reconfiguring Windows XP, which I’d never used – or even seen – before. No need to go into the reasons here, but I hasten to add it’s not for my own use.

I did have some idea of listing the various snags, incongruities and even imbecilities I ran into, but on second thought it’s very late, I haven’t had lunch or dinner yet, and I’ll probably end up sounding like those people that use a Mac for the first time and then kvetch endlessly about programs not quitting when their windows close, one-button mice and so forth.

Still, I’d heard that XP was at least as user-friendly (even for small values of “friendly”) as Mac OS X. That’s plainly wrong… that’s all I’ll say for now.

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