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ATPM 15.07
July 2009





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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the July issue of About This Particular Macintosh! It’s time for fun in the sun, vacations, the new “staycations,” and leisure time with friends and family. It’s a season of sightseeing, picture taking, video capturing, barbecuing, and potato salad.

This month, the editors of ATPM are serving up our own kind of summertime salad. We’re slicing and dicing all of the latest Apple news, blending in our unique style of product reviews, and serving it up cold.

Snow Leopard

At June’s WWDC conference, Apple announced details about the next Mac OS X road trip for users. Mac OS X 10.6 (marketed as Snow Leopard) will carry less baggage via a smaller memory footprint but is also leaving PowerPC users back at the station. It’s the end of the line for Macs using pre-Intel chips.

This iteration of Apple’s Unix-based OS is the next step in Apple’s transition to a true 64-bit OS. Snow Leopard is designed to take advantage of the power of graphics chips on the board to quicken processing functions, and through a technology Apple calls Grand Central Dispatch, applications and system processes can make more efficient use of modern chips with multiple cores.

To entice users to to take the ride, Apple is releasing Snow Leopard in the fall at the price of $29 for a single-user license and $49 for a family pack.

Name That iPhone

Is the new iPhone a 3G S, 3GS, or 3Gs? Product references and even Apple’s own press releases have offered different spelling of the product’s name. But no matter how one references it, the new phone’s name also spells success. With over one million units shipped (including pre-orders) in the first three days of commercial release, the 3GS continues to find favor with consumers. In the US market, demand remains high for the latest version of Apple’s smartphone, and analysts are expecting impressive handset sales numbers from Apple for the June quarter. In mid-July, during AT&T’s quarterly conference call with analysts, we may hear clues concerning the number of new iPhone activations and the pace of sell-through of the new phones to end users.

Are Reports of the Pre’s Success Pre-Mature?

The iPhone faces increasing competition as more handset makers focus on the consumer market for smartphone sales. Once a market almost exclusively for business customers, the success of the iPhone has opened the consumer market for increasing smartphone sales.

Jon Rubinstein, one of the masterminds behind the success of Apple’s iPod line of digital devices, is now Chairman and CEO of Palm, Inc., maker of the Pre smartphone. The Pre was released shortly before the 3GS iPhone, and the company reported at least modest sales success.

But the Pre was launched against a backdrop of declining smartphone sales for Palm and the overwhelming success of the iPhone, which has been siphoning customers away from Sprint and other domestic cell service providers to AT&T.

The Pre will undoubtedly cannibalize sales of other Palm smartphones, and the company’s financial reports suggest a hefty R&D commitment in developing the Pre and the Palm webOS that is used by the phone. Based on Linux, the Palm webOS is yet another mobile operating system entry into an increasingly crowded market.

No matter the hype, the Pre’s sales number indicate it’s not the supposed “iPhone killer” some had hoped it would become, and perhaps the best the Pre can offer relative to the iPhone is a slowing of the rate of migration from other cell service carriers to AT&T as consumers continue to embrace the iPhone in big numbers.

Serial Indispensability

For years, journalists, stock market analysts, and even many Apple fans have claimed that Steve Jobs is somehow indispensable to Apple’s continuing success. There’s no doubt the company’s co-founder and CEO has had a heavy hand in the resurgence of the Macintosh platform and the development of the iPod and the iPhone.

Over the past several months, Mr. Jobs has faced serious health issues and most recently underwent a liver transplant to save his life. In January, Mr. Jobs announced a six-month leave of absence to deal with his serious health issues, leaving Apple’s COO Tim Cook to lead the company’s day-to-day operations and temporarily assume many of CEO’s executive roles. During the CEO’s leave of absence, Apple released an update to the popular iPhone, new versions of Apple’s laptops, and announced the release date for Snow Leopard.

Remarking on Apple’s continuing success during the CEO’s leave, some analysts and journalists are making a rather ironic and somewhat perverse claim: it’s not Steve Jobs who is now indispensable at Apple, but COO Time Cook. I’m using this space to remind everyone the only ones who are indispensable to Apple’s success are the millions of consumers who buy and use Apple products. It’s time those of us who make smart choices in personal digital gear got some respect.

The MacBook Pro

The release of the 3GS iPhone and the iPhone OS 3.0 overshadowed a marketing change in Apple’s laptop line. The former 13″ aluminum MacBook has now joined the MacBook Pro line in its latest update. The MacBook moniker is now reserved only for a 13″ laptop in a white, polycarbonate enclosure.

No Change in Our Name, Our Publication Remains the Same

ATPM has been chronicling the personal computing experience since 1995. In our many years of publication, and contrary to recent norms, our name has remained the same and our focus has not changed. We celebrate the digital lifestyle and highlight the interplay between people and their personal technology products. Spring, summer, winter, fall, we cover it all with you in mind.

Our July issue includes:

Bloggable: Secrecy Boils Over

Wes Meltzer ponders how one person’s health can fuel so much discussion in the blogosphere.

MacMuser: iPine

No, Mark Tennent isn’t talking about some new app involving trees. He just wants the new iPhone. But, does he want the contract that comes with it?

MacMuser: Suggestions Requested for Router Replacement

Mark Tennent solicits reader opinion for a new router.

Segments: Small Macs: The Next Generation

What’s it like to skip Mac generations entirely? We examine a jump from 1999’s retro-small Mac Cube to the aptly named 2009 Mac mini.

Desktop Pictures: Florida Flora

Delwin Finch, a friend of ATPM Web editor Lee Bennett, has a growing passion for macro photography and offered some of his floral shots for this month’s desktop photos.

Out at Five

Cartoonist Matt Johnson returns to ATPM with his new series, Out at Five.

Qaptain Qwerty: The Angst of Internet Oh-Nine

Retweet about karma catharsis and friend rejection.

Review: Ballistix AURA Pro-Tour

Lee Bennett enlists the help of pro photographer Ben Tanner to review this backpack from Slappa especially suited for camera gear.

Review: PopChar X 4.2

Type olé or ä, and more, easily with PopChar, at a price.

Review: Prizmo 1.0.1

Prizmo simplifies the process of digitizing the paper in your life without tying you to a scanner.

Review: Take Control of Syncing Data in Leopard

A fine book for getting started in syncing and working with devices, Take Control of Syncing Data in Leopard doesn’t quite deliver on its title.

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