Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this
week’s Apple Loop covers the upcoming October 16th event and the
potential new hardware, will Tim Cook kill the iPod
Touch, OSX Yosemite’s public release, U2′s download numbers, Carl
Icahn’s letter, iOS 8 encryption, the Apple Tax, iPhone 6 sales figures,
and Jony Ive’s thoughts on those who mimic Apple’s design.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days.
Get Ready For the iPad Air 2 On October 16
Following a successful update for the iPhone in September, Apple has
confirmed a launch event for October 16th. A number of products are
expected to launch, but the main focus will be the iPad Air 2. Following
on from the debut of the super-thin version of the Apple tablet at last
year’s event, the updated 9.7 inch screen iOS device should sport the
new A8 processor, M8 motion coprocessor, and TouchID for fingerprint
recognition. That means Apple Pay will be viable from the iPad Air 2.
A little less certain will be any software changes. iOS 8 has already
tweaked the UI for the screen on the iPhone 6 Plus phablet to allow for
more details and visible scrolling lists. A split-screen display on the
iPad Air has long been discussed, although if Apple do go for this as a
differentiator on the new tablet, expect the RAM to be bumped up to 2
GB on the new model.
It might even be offered in gold…
And Updates For All!
The Forbes Tech team are also expecting updates to the iPad Mini with
Retina Display to keep specification parity with the iPad Air 2. No
doubt Apple’s two tablets will be placed in a competitive battle with
the new Nexus 9 tablet (and the Nexus 6 phablet will be given some
head-to-head time with the iPhone 6 Plus).
The two other major platforms that are expected to get updates are
the iMac range of computers, with a potential retina display model;
and the high-end Mac to keep the specifications at the top of the range.
Given the more powerful Broadwell architecture chips aren’t due until
next year, I’m going to be interested to see if the MacBook Prso and
MacBook Airs will get a minor hardware update to keep the line fresh for
christmas, or if Tim Cook has managed to work out a way to go straight
to a next-generation of hardware.
Both Gordon Kelly and I have thoughts on the potential hardware announcements. We’ll find out next week, and the Forbes Tech team will bring you the news and analysis as it happens.
iPod Touch, 5th Generation (image: Apple.com)
And then there’s the iPod Touch. The current (fifth) generation of
portable media player is still a favourite with families looking
for iOS devices for children, those looking for a lightweight connected
device without the complications of a mobile phone contract, SIM card,
or higher handset prices. It’s two years old, and it’s time for Apple to
either deliver an update or have the confidence to remove it from the
product line-up; just as Apple did with the iPod Classic in September.
While I don’t think the iPod Touch is going to die like the iPodYou can read more of my thoughts on the Touch here, on Forbes.
Classic in September, the small specifications update in June to the 16
GB model accompanied by a slight price drop was probably the last hurrah
for the line… Does Apple need a standalone media player alongside
its smartphones, tablets, ultraportables, and desktops? Does Apple still
need a price conscious piece of iOS hardware to act as an on-ramp into
the ecosystem? Does Apple still want to be in the media player
business when there is no apparent growth in the iPod market?
The Miracle (of Bono and The Edge)
Good news! 26 million Apple devices downloaded the free U2 album ‘Songs of Innocence’ (reports Billboard),
and according to Apple VP Eddy Cue, 81 million people have
‘experienced’ part of the album. So that’s an average of 3.1 tracks per
user. On an album with eleven tracks.
Did you mark this up as a success, Eddy?
Welcome To The House Of Yosemite
One thing that we can be sure of is OSX Yosemite leaving development
and going public. Earlier today Apple released GM (Golden Master)
Candidate 3 to developers and those testing the new OS (reports Apple Insider and
others). If reports coming back from that release are good, it’s
likely GMC3 will become Public Release 1 during the October 16th event.
Given Apple’s issues around iOS 8, anyone using an OSX device in a
mission critical role might want to wait a few weeks before updating,
just to make sure there are no show-stopping bugs that have been missed.
And no matter when you install it, remember to back up your machine!
A Primer For iOS 8 Encryption
Matthew Green has taken a look at Apple’s position on the inability to decrypt an iOS 8 device.
Going into some detail, he looks at the disk encryption used, the data
that comes under the encryption system, and how hardware is used to
secure the UID that is required to decrypt information. While some of
Green’s work is based on Apple’s public position other parts are
conjecture on his part, and Green makes it clear when he strays into
This makes for good background in the current debate over smartphone security (as does Green’s earlier more accessible primer published in Slate).
About That Open Letter
Carl Icahn, as one of Apple’s largest shareholders, posted an open
letter this week to argue for Tim Cook and the board to “accelerate and
increase the magnitude of share repurchase.” Charles Lewis Sizemore has taken a closer look at the letter, and Icahn’s projections on Apple’s future profits and sales. Is Apple stock undervalued as Icahn says it is?
The iPhone 6 Plus (image: Ewan Spence)
How many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets has Apple sold? While the
strong opening weekend has been mentioned as topping ten million, the
only other indication from Apple is a goal of between 70 and 80 million
by the end of 2014. Forbes’ Mark Rogowsky takes a look at the numbers from analysts and tracking firms, and is pretty confident that Apple has passed the 21 million mark:
The 6 is now up to 5.86%, a gain of 2.64%. The Plus, on the otherA Digital Newspaper With Your iPad?
hand, has reached just 1.28%, up 0.81%. The ratio there is about 4.5:1.
If we average the two [Mixpanel and Fisku], we get an approximate sales
total of more than 21 million and a breakdown that suggests a bit over 4
million of those are the Plus.
While they can never be taken as product announcements, it’s always interesting to watch Apple’s patents via Patently Apple.
They’re a good indication of an R&D section working hard, and in
the case of the digital newspaper patent, a section that is still
churning out smart ideas. The latest to catch my eye is a flexibly
display which receives content via MMS (Patent 8,855,727). It’s
marked up as a digital newspaper, but I can see it proving useful for
advertising boards, in-store marketing, and remote displays. And yes, it
would support iCloud.
Does The Apple Tax Exist?
Forbes’ Tony Bradley has taken a look at the ‘Apple Tax’ myth. Are we really paying a premium for technology from Apple? Bradley is not so sure, especially when he compares like with like:
I realize there are hundreds of Windows-based laptops out there thatOne More Thing… Jony Ive’s Strong Views On The Theft Of Apple Designs
cost significantly less than a MacBook Air and get the job done just
fine. But, just as with the smartphones, you’re generally trading
something for the cost savings. Maybe it’s a less powerful processor, or
a cheap plastic case, or an inferior display. The point is simply that
you can buy laptops for less money than what the Apple laptops cost, but
if you want a device that is actually comparable to a MacBook you are
most likely going to spend about the same or more.
Apple’s Senior VP of Design Jony Ive (okay, Sir Jonathan Paul Ive,
KBE RDI) rarely speaks in public, but when he does, it’s with a clinical
precision that matches his products. His comments at Vanity Fair’s New
Establishment Summit (reported by The Verge and others)
was clear that the copying of Apple design angers him. While he refused
to single out Xiaomi as his questioner did, his reply was direct and to
“I don’t see it as flattery, I actually see it as theft… When you’reAnd if you haven’t read it, last week’s Vogue interview with Ive is still pertinent, and will be for some time.
doing something for the first time, for example with the phone, and you
don’t know it’s going to work, and you spend seven or eight years
working on something, and then it’s copied — I have to be honest, the
first thing I think isn’t ‘ooh, that was flattering.’”
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every
weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any
coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, and don’t forget this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.