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ATPM 14.05
May 2008




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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the May issue of About This Particular Macintosh! We’re happy to report Macintosh sales gains have recently been so strong lately that competitors appear to be running in semi-circles over the news. According to one Wall Street analyst, Apple appears to have captured over 20% of US consumer PC sales. To commemorate the Mac’s resurgence and the flummoxed state of competitors desperate to compete, we’re calling this the Semi Edition of ATPM. While competitors struggle to catch the Mac, Apple is closing the loop with its new iMac offerings and leaving no room for sales inroads by challengers.

PA Semi

In April, Apple announced the purchase of PA Semiconductor for $278 million in cash. The acquisition hardly dented Apple’s cash position of $19.4 billion as of the end of March, but the purchase may help Apple negotiate better terms with Intel for Macintosh chips during future periods while also providing the company with greater versatility in product designs and enhancing the company’s ability to create products that can run on a variety of chip architectures. Notably, PA Semiconductor has used PowerPC designs in many processor products. Some consider Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi a seminal statement on product development plans

Semi Recovery

At press time, Apple’s share price has recovered most of the value it lost in the first calendar quarter market slide. AAPL ended April trading at $173.95, less than 30 points or about 15% from its all-time high of $202.96. How well the share price performs over the next few months will depend on news of the much-desired 3G iPhone and whether or not the Macintosh continues on its torrid sales pace.

Semi Record

For the three months ended in March, Macintosh sales came within 1% of setting an all-time quarterly sales record. Unit sales increased 51% over the prior year period with 2.289 million Macs shipped in the quarter. The unit sales record of 2.319 was set in the fourth calendar quarter of 2007. In other words, Macintosh sales were so strong in the traditionally weakest sales quarter for the company that unit shipments almost matched sales for the quarter encompassing Christmas, the historically strongest sales quarter for the Mac maker.

Semi Satisfied

For the three months ended in March, Apple recorded revenue of $7.51 billion and net income of $1.05 billion or $1.16 per share. Still, despite the impressive revenue and profit gains, some analysts and investors were not satisfied with the dip in Apple’s gross margins (product revenue less the costs of manufacture) to 32.9%. The slight decline in gross margins was due in part to the price cut on the popular iPod shuffle and waning demand for shrink-wrapped copies of Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) following unprecedented demand at release. In other words, most people who planned to upgrade to Leopard have done so already. Still, the results represent the best first calendar quarter sales and earnings in the company’s storied history.

Semi Pro

During the last week of April, Apple introduced an upgraded line of iMac personal computers. The top-of-the-line iMac offers a Penryn-class processor running at 3 GHz and a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS graphics card equipped with 512 MB of GDDR3 memory. This new iMac is a semi pro-level computer packed into the slim, all-in-one enclosure. For most home hobbyists and many creative pros, a Mac Pro is no longer needed. This iMac will amply handle the load.


The scores on Vista’s popularity are coming in, and the results don’t look good for the team from Redmond. Even as Vista’s first Service Pack was released, there’s already talk of its replacement. Windows 7, purportedly based on what’s called MinWin (a stripped down Windows core encapsulated in kernel-like structure) is rumored to be in development for an early 2010 release. Microsoft has extended the commercial availability of Windows XP to June 30, 2008. There’s talk that the unpopularity of Windows Vista may compel Microsoft to extend the commercial availability of Windows XP beyond that date. In other words, Windows Vista may see an abbreviated commercial life as Microsoft accelerates plans for the release of its replacement. While this may not be the final word on Vista, the product is not winning many fans. Apple’s 51% growth in Mac unit sales last quarter was fueled in large part by consumers who chose to abandon Windows and embrace Mac OS X.

Semi Summer

It’s only the beginning of May and already temperatures have warmed in the west. By Memorial Day, summer weather will have arrived in much of the US and Europe. Our monthly magazine makes for a nice warm weather and travel companion. Please enjoy our special Semi Edition of ATPM as our natural surroundings come into full bloom.

Our May issue includes:

Bloggable: Alpacas Cynics Foremost

Wes Meltzer is out with the clone and “Back In Mac.” This, and more, in Bloggable.

MacMuser: CD-ripping Rip-off

Mark Tennent states that Music Business Group complains of a cacophony of illegal usage.

MacMuser: Another Ripping Rip-off

Don’t read the fine print—it won’t help.

Next Actions: Master List

Ed Eubanks Jr. gives his first fly-over of applications for Getting Things Done.

Photoshop for the Curious: No Smoking Gun: Re-tooling Dodge and Burn

It’s time to get out of Dodge. Fans of Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools will appreciate this trick for performing these actions in a nondestructive manner.

Desktop Pictures: White Mountains

Reader David Siebecker provides this month’s photos from a six-day hike through New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Cartoon: Cortland

All seems lost for Cortland and company as Lisa makes a last bid for victory, any way she can take it.

Review: Apple Keyboard

Can a thin, rubber membrane-equipped keyboard replace an ergonomic, mechanical switch-using keyboard in the life of Christopher Turner?

Review: Blue Crab 4.9.5

Blue Crab lets you download a little or a lot of the Web, as long as you know how to tweak it.

Review: Drive Genius 2

This genie may have minor imperfections, but Sylvester Roque discovers the magic in Drive Genius 2.

Review: Flipp Premium Leather Case For iPod classic

PDO shows the established iPod accessory makers how to make a proper leather iPod case, the best we’ve seen yet.

Review: SpacePig 1.0.2

There’s no easy way to put this: you’re a pig, on the moon, and you’re destined to chase after riches until you die. But at least you’re having fun.

Also in This Series

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