BBC News: The selling of PlayStation 2 mod chips has been ruled illegal. I’m struggling to find examples of non-destructive technology which has, in the past, been ruled illegal for possession. Anyone got any ideas?
The BBC reports on the emergence of video footage of the 9/11 hijackers being security checked at Dulles airport, after they set off metal detectors before the flight which ended – terminally – at the Pentagon. It’s absolutely no surprise to anyone who travelled by air in the US before 2001 that the hijackers could set off metal detectors and yet not be caught, given the woeful state of security at the vast majority of US airports. It always astounded me, coming from a country which has always terrorism seriously because of our own experiences with the IRA, how lax the US was.
David Aaronovitch on Robert Kilroy-Silk’s entrance to the European Parliament:
You see, he said, how they are trying to take us over? The first candidate admitted to a “project”, the second one had talked about a “dream”. Project and dreams! But look, he went on, in his strange snap, click, crack, drraaawwll way of speaking, “we do not come here to destroooooy or destruuuuuuct. We respect the legitimacy of the parliament.” All we want to do, he explained, is to wreck things. “I’m very fond of the Italians and the Spanish. I like the people, I like the countries. Some of the clothes I am wearing were made there!” (Ah, Robert, I thought, the Dolce & Gabbana zebra thong.) There we had it. The Torremolinos view of the European enterprise.
Apple has released its third quarter financial results, and overall it was a very good quarter, with the company showing an profit of $61 million, up from $19 million in the equivalent quarter of 2003. There were three interesting points:
- A record quarter for PowerBook sales. I have figures for PowerBook sales going back to 1999, and the 220,000 units shipped this past quarter makes it the best I know of, by quite a long way – the next best is 195,000 in Q1 of this year. This, coupled with the 240,000 iBooks sold – which is itself the second highest figure ever for that product line – means that over half of all Macs sold are now laptops.
- The iMac did reasonably well – 243,000 units – but still lags a long way behind the sales of the old CRT iMac. Given Apple’s openness about the specs of the next iMac, due in September, I believe that Apple is highly confident that the new machine will be a big success, probably indicating a new and much more “populist” design. While the dome-shaped LCD iMac has been a favourite among the Philippe Starck-worshipping crowd, it’s been less popular with ordinary users.
- iPod sales were also a record, with 860,000 units sold, meaning that the company has now sold close to 3.5 million iPods. That’s a huge number, and has implications for the success of the iTunes Music Store, which now has a lot of captive customers. Interestingly, the revenue earned from iPod – $249 million – was down on last quarter, despite increased unit sales. This indicates that the company shifted a lot of the lower-cost iPod mini, skewing the revenue down a little.
All this adds up to good news for Apple in terms of revenues and profits. If you assume that the company matches its performance for Q4 2003 in Q4 2004 (something that’s not assured, given the lack of an iMac for most of the upcoming quarter), then Apple is set to have its best year since 2000, with around $7.6 billion revenues, compared to $7.9 billion in 2000. However, underlying that is reduced profits – in 2000, the company made some $786 million profit, whereas it will be lucky to make $200 million in 2004.
This level of reduced profits can’t be explained totally by the proportion of the company’s revenues taken up by the (relatively low margin) iPod, as overall revenue from non-iPod products was up, and indicates either increased investment elsewhere (the bricks and mortar stores, iTunes Music Store, higher R&D) or lower margins on its main products. What it certainly indicates is that Apple has less scope than ever before to launch a truly low-priced iMac, so I’d expect the company’s new model to be either at the same price as the old one, or – if it’s significantly cheaper to manufacture – slightly cheaper.
Tom blogs about Matt Webb’s experience with Apple UK’s customer support. In my experience, Matt’s not alone – when I was editor of MacUser I spent far too much time trying to help people traverse the labyrinth that is Apple’s customer support – and the worst experience of the lot was always with the Apple Online Store, who’s customer service is appalling.
Having said that, this is not an Apple problem alone. Virtually every company in the technology industry plays fast and loose with the rights that UK law grants to consumers. One tip: always, always buy anything worth over £100 with a credit card, nota debit card. Credit card companies are jointly and seperately liable if the product goes wrong, and, therefore, if a company starts getting sticky and refusing to replace your computer, you can start hassling them as well.
As I dropped by the new, US$800 million Boston Convention Center late Monday afternoon, I was struck by the lack of “signage” proclaiming the event.
It’s a shame that Apple decided, for its own reasons, not to back this show. I have many fond memories of the couple of Boston Macworld’s I went to, as well as the New York shows which followed on from it.
Mary Jo Foley: Longhorn and Tiger: Who’s Copying Whom?
“But there’s an even more fundamental question at stake in the Tiger vs. Longhorn debate: Who CARES who is copying whom?”
Loren points out that Amazon is already taking orders for two Portable Media Center devices in the US. These aren’t really iPod competitors – the idea of a video iPod is way off the mark - but Microsoft’s attempt to create an entirely new class of device.
I had my hands on a prototype briefly earlier this year, and they’re interesting. If I had a Media Center PC, I could see myself buying one – as long as the synchronization software supports formats other than Windows Media for video.
Possiblye the geekiest job ad ever made.