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ATPM 15.05
May 2009


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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the May issue of About This Particular Macintosh! While our nation’s citizens work through the somber and challenging economic conditions on the way to recovery, the editors of ATPM have been hard at work challenging themselves to bring you the best product reviews, the most thought-provoking views, and the unique ATPM slant on the latest Apple news. We have dubbed this issue the first official SOMBER issue of ATPM. In ATPMspeak SOMBER means “Sometimes Outrageous Methods Bear Extraordinary Results.”

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they leave convention behind and choose to follow the melody of life as they hear it and individually interpret the rhythm and sound. Thank you for joining us this month as our contributors and editors explore pathways in the digital universe often left untraveled.

The Accidental Photo Set

Jessica Leitao, a senior at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, CA, is the photographer for this month’s desktop photo set. A winter trip to Yosemite National Park and a new camera yielded many attractive photos of one of our nation’s most popular and most scenic wilderness areas.

Jessica’s goal wasn’t to create a photo set for ATPM but to meander along the pathways of Yosemite with camera in hand. The photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot as she slogged through the snow to experience many of Yosemite’s most famous sites and a few locations off the beaten path. If you are interested in submitting a desktop photo collection for publication in ATPM, please e-mail us at

The Accidental, Incidental Partner

AT&T, the exclusive Apple iPhone service provider in the US, took a material risk when it signed with Apple on the iPhone contract dotted line. AT&T’s subsequent decision to subsidize iPhone purchases actually depressed the earnings of the nation’s largest phone services provider in the months after the subsidy program began, in favor of future profits from iPhone service contracts and wireless data services revenue.

The company now called AT&T had its beginnings in 1983 following the consent decree that established Southwestern Bell Corporation. The company’s ticker (SBC) later became its name. Upon the acquisition of what remained of the post-breakup AT&T in 2005, SBC took its former parent company’s name. Over the past two decades, through mergers and acquisitions AT&T (the former SBC) has recomposed much of the service territory and industry leadership the old AT&T commanded prior to the breakup of its monopoly in 1982.

AT&T isn’t the first company Apple pitched for the iPhone. But it is the company that best saw the product’s potential. Though some thought this accidental partnership that developed after Verizon (another company created by the breakup of the old AT&T) rejected the iPhone would be incidental to AT&T’s revenue and earnings, the iPhone is becoming a revenue and earnings driver as landlines and residential phone services evaporate before the company’s eyes. Conventional wisdom would have suggested the iPhone was too small a matter for a company as large and revenue growth aggressive as AT&T.

Why would the company that regained one of the oldest names in telecommunications, and has a record of ambitious growth through acquisition, tie much of its near-term profit prospects in cellular services to a product developed by the newest name in cellular phone handsets? Because the iPhone brand delivers a customer experience and satisfaction level AT&T can neither develop nor purchase on its own. Thanks to heavy data plan use by iPhone owners, AT&T saw its cellular data service revenue jump almost 39% to $3.2 billion in its most recent fiscal quarter.

AT&T has aggressively purchased through acquisition the service revenue of the past. The company has smartly partnered with a handset newcomer for the service revenue of the future. Conventional wisdom turned upside down and inside out.

Front Row Seating

Every Mac comes Front Row–equipped. But how many of us use this feature? Sylvester Rogue sees Apple’s Front Row as a conductor of sorts. A product designed to orchestrate the playback of music and movies. Front Row makes use of the remote that accompanies your new Mac rather than depend on a keyboard. But does the product really give you a front row seat to multimedia enjoyment? Find out in this month’s issue.

Innovation Front and Center

For the three months ended March 28, 2009, Apple Inc. reported record results for a non-holiday fiscal quarter. Though reported Mac sales declined 3% over the prior-year period, company executives state Mac sell through remained virtually constant with year-earlier numbers. During a calendar quarter in which global computer shipments declined by more than 7% and saw continued migration to cheap netbook PCs, Apple’s results are a standout.

The state of Mac sales needs to be set against the strength in iPhone and iPod touch sales, which company executives suggest is a top consumer choice for netbook alternatives. Still, it’s not that consumers are purchasing fewer Macs, but that schools are delaying Mac purchases in a challenging economic time.

During the three-month period, Apple sold 2.216 million Macs, 3.793 million iPhones, and 11 million iPods, inclusive of the popular iPod touch. Apple defers recognition of iPhone handset sales over the anticipated economic life of the product (two years). Apple ended the period with almost $10.5 billion in deferred revenue on its books and almost $29 billion in cash and investments.

iPhone OS 3.0 is close to release, Snow Leopard will see a summer commercial debut, and the third iteration of the iPhone is expected by early July. So much for a cautious approach in an economic downturn. Apple continues to innovate and invest in new products. Netbook sales kept the PC industry’s unit sales reversal to under 10%, but they don’t engender the innovation that will lead the industry forward. More than one billion iPhone apps served to date is a harbinger of the kinds of innovative products to come.

In a quarter in which Apple recognized $8.13 billion in revenue, over $4.23 billion of that revenue was derived from iPhone, iPod, and related product sales, including the company’s revenue portion of iTunes Store activity. Much of the iPhone’s handset revenue remains off the recognized revenue books, leading to higher recognized revenue and earnings in quarters to come.

What’s the lesson to be learned? While many enterprises are lightening their proverbial loads for the journey through economic uncertainty, Apple is loading the company’s innovation bandwagon in anticipation of even better times to come.

iWeb: Review From the Edge

At ATPM, product reviews aren’t just a writer’s task. They are an extreme sport. In our May issue we explore iWeb ’09, a component of Apple’s iLife ’09 suite of applications. In developing this review, which was two months in the making, we take you to another of California’s scenic yet decidedly lesser known locations. Named for a 19th Century outlaw who hid among the striking rock formations to avoid capture by western posses, Vasquez Rocks comes to life in this month’s iWeb ’09 review.

If you are interested in joining our product review team, please contact us at At ATPM we celebrate the “personal computing experience.” Your experiences with new and updated products can enrich the computing lives of our readers and highlight the work of new and emerging Macintosh and iPhone software developers.

• • •

Each issue of ATPM is designed to give you the edge in exploring what we call the “personal computing experience.” From a visual trek through Yosemite National Park to the use of Front Row in your living room, this issue of our monthly magazine has you in mind.

Our May issue includes:

MacMuser: Cisco Kids (Us)

Four days is a long time in narrowband hell.

MacMuser: Hedging and Ditching

Mark Tennent seemingly doesn’t have a lot of love for his printers.

Next Actions: Master List, May 2009

Ed Eubanks Jr. updates his GTD Master List.

How To: Spending Time in the Front Row

Every orchestra needs a good conductor to perform at its best. Maybe your Mac media center needs Front Row to perform at its best.

Desktop Pictures: Winter in Yosemite

Jessica Leitao shares photos from a January 2009 trip to Yosemite National Park.

Qaptain Qwerty: Reading Not Done

How efficient can you be?

Review: Ballistix PTAC Laptop Cases

Slappa is back with a few new products, and Lee Bennett is back to put them through the paces.

Review: Core Case for iPhone 3G

The nicest metal iPhone case yet, but case perfection remains elusive.

Review: iWeb ’09

Though the blogging component is still something of a disappointment, Robert Paul Leitao finds iWeb ’09 a worthy Web site editor.

Review: Pogo Sketch for iPhone 3G

Probably your only option if you have to use an iPhone with gloved hands, though you still can’t do multi-touch gestures and it’s not as accurate as a finger.

Review: SoundClip for iPhone 3G

A nice idea for enhancing the iPhone’s speaker that doesn’t quite live up to its promises—and doesn’t get along with iPhone cases, either.

Review: Transcriva 2.0

Ed Eubanks Jr. gives high marks to this audio transcription utility.

Also in This Series

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