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ATPM 15.09
September 2009





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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the September issue of About This Particular Macintosh! It’s the waning days of summer, yet Apple is spreading product coolness all over the globe. Snow Leopard has been released, and the iPhone 3GS continues its global rollout, abated only by supply issues in meeting popular demand. Both the Mac and the iPhone are changing the economic climate in their respective markets. The Mac is realizing unit sales growth in a PC market that’s otherwise languished in challenging economic times, and the iPhone is reshaping the economic environment for consumer adoption of what are called smartphones.

Consequently we’ve dubbed this issue the first official “Climate Change” issue of your favorite monthly Internet-based magazine. We thank you for joining us this month as we explore the Apple product world in our unique and often entertaining way and observe the various ways Apple products are changing the global climate for digital devices.

Snow Leopard

At press time, Snow Leopard was making its global debut as the most recent commercial iteration of Apple’s popular Unix-based operating system. Available for Leopard users at the cost of $29 for a single-user license and $49 for a family pack offering up to five licenses for a home, Snow Leopard is the least expensive commercial upgrade to Mac OS X since its original release.

Why? Snow Leopard is being positioned by Apple as a refinement of Leopard, Apple’s most popular version of Mac OS X to date. Rather than hyping new features, the company is emphasizing Snow Leopard’s speed enhancements and reduced space requirements. Because Snow Leopard is only available for Intel-based Macs, code for PowerPC-based Macs has been removed in this release, along with the items such as printer drivers that are readily available for download from the Internet. There’s no reason to bloat the OS with thousands of drivers when most users need to install only one.

Apple has also re-written much of the underlying code to make operations more efficient, and technologies such as Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL will improve performance.

The iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS is having a spectacular run with a sales performance two months following release that’s bested the iPhone’s previous versions by a conspicuous margin. The reasons include more global channels for product sales, tens of thousands of apps available through the App Store, and increasing consumer desires for smartphones.

I recently jumped from the original iPhone to a 3GS after spending a few days on vacation in June with my original iPhone as my primary news reader. While I waited and waited for pages to load (maybe) over AT&T’s EDGE network, other vacationers in the party were zipping around the Internet in much higher-speed fashion.

The iPhone 3GS is a noticeable leap forward from the original iPhone, and firsthand experiences indicate it’s faster than its most recent predecessor. Apple claims the “S” in 3GS stand for “speed.” I believe it.

The iPhone’s Slow Boat to China

The term “Slow Boat To China” is considered an idiom. An idiom is a term with an intended meaning not immediately discernible from the string of words. It’s also the name of a mid-20th century popular song. In common usage it’s a creative expression to describe methods that might take a long time or use of a meandering route to reach a destination.

At press time, China Unicom announced a non-exclusive deal to sell iPhones as an official and sanctioned carrier in China. iPhones have been pouring into China’s mainland through unofficial routes such as Hong Kong. The China Unicom deal will bring millions of iPhone units to the mainland with warranties and sanctioned service packages for consumers.

To many impatient observers, the China deal has been too long in coming as if negotiations were being held on a slow boat to China. It is a bit ironic it’s taken time to officially open a market in which iPhones are made. Early reports indicate that iPhones will be sold to China Unicom at prices below that charged by Apple in western regions of the globe. Further, the iPhones will be sold by China Unicom without Wi-Fi capabilities due to the central government’s concerns about potentially millions of broadband-equipped digital devices entering the nation.

While it may appear that discussions between Apple and China Unicom were held on a slow boat to China, it’s the carrier’s hopes the iPhone will quickly improve the company’s competitive position in the country. China Unicom recently reported falling earnings, and the company desires to improve its competitive position and revenue and earnings mix through the sale of 3G phones.

Time will tell if the perceived slow pace of discussions has yielded a highly profitable and high volume deal for Apple and whether or not China Unicom will find success as the first sanctioned iPhone carrier on China’s mainland.

Back-To-School, Back To Life

September is kind of an awkward month. Summer weather remains, but the leisurely pace of the summer season abruptly comes to an end. Students of all ages return to school, and many of us return to time-worn routines for the fall and winter months.

ATPM chronicles what we call the “personal computing experience.” Each monthly issue is filled with unique views and product reviews with you in mind. ATPM is a monthly Internet magazine for all months and seasons. We thank you for joining us this month as summer slowly yields to fall and the pace of new product releases quickens as families return home from summer travels and students trek back to school.

Our September issue includes:

MacMuser: Anti-Time

Mark Tennent continues the saga began in last month’s installment of MacMuser.

Apple Talk: Quick Look

Angus Wong examines recent goings-on with Apple—contemplating what is going well and what is not going so well.

Segments: Macless Abroad

Lee Bennett shares his experience of traveling to the United Kingdom for 10 days using only an unlocked iPhone for Internet access and no laptop computer.

Desktop Pictures: United Kingdom

Coinciding with his Segments article in this issue, Lee Bennett also offers several favorites from the hundreds of photos taken during his trip to the United Kingdom.

Out at Five

Matt Johnson’s new series, Out at Five looks at the workplace and its boundaries from all angles, revolving around many of the same characters from his former series, Cortland.

Review: Crabble iPhone Stand

Simplicity and portability rule the day.

Review: Cram 1.0.1

Cram helps you study through multiple-choice flash cards, although I was hoping for a different kind of Flash.

Review: In Your Face

Facing up to clip-on gadgets.

Review: PowerBlock Reserve

Lee Bennett can now worry a lot less about rationing his iPhone usage on a lengthy excursion away from power outlets, knowing the PowerBlock Reserve will provide a quick boost to the iPhone’s battery life.

Review: Take Control of Safari 4

Repeat after me: you are in charge of the browser.

Also in This Series

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