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ATPM 15.10
October 2009




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by Robert Paul Leitao,

Welcome to the October issue of About This Particular Macintosh! We’ll start this issue with a couple of green notes before we celebrate the beautiful colors and natural hues of autumn. October is a transitional month of warm days and cool nights. This month’s Welcome offers a different look at Apple: a company itself in transition from an era of economic resurgence to an era of global dominance in its various product markets.

A Tree Grows in Cupertino

A popular 1940s book used a tree in its name and a tree as a metaphor in its story. As a metaphor, the tree represented a young girl’s struggle to survive in a harsh, demanding, and often unjust early 20th Century urban jungle known more familiarly as Brooklyn, New York.

The tree depicted in the book is known commonly as a Tree of Heaven. While used frequently in urban environments during late 1800s and early 1900s due to its fast growth, it is now considered an invasive Asian species and has fallen from popularity due to its unpleasant aroma and its ability to suppress the growth of native plants and trees.

In a twist on that now-famous metaphor, perhaps Apple has planted a Tree of Truth. A tree that as it grows might be an invasive solution to a pervasive complacency and misunderstanding about efforts to create a greener corporate America. In a refreshing and comprehensive self-assessment, in late September Apple released an environmental impact audit that includes the effects of all aspects of the company’s operations on the environment.

While much of corporate America is consumed with the environmental impact of office operations, Apple looks at the impact of the company’s products from the moment of manufacture and through the product’s anticipated use cycle until the time of recycle. It’s no longer enough to be concerned just about turning out lights and conserving energy in the office. It’s now about responsible use of resources in every product that’s made and how those products are used and eventually recycled. Let’s turn the lights on and look at all the major players in the PC and consumer electronics markets. How would the other major players in the PC and consumer electronics markets look under the glare of the bright environmental lights Apple has turned on itself? Green plans and proclaimed awareness are not an acceptable substitute for action in reducing the environmental impact of a company’s manufactured products and a company’s day-to-day operations.

Organic Growth, Greener Pastures

At press time, Apple’s market capitalization (the sum value of all outstanding shares) is hovering within the top ten of publicly traded companies in the United States and the top twenty among publicly traded companies around the world. This is remarkable accomplishment for an enterprise that a dozen years was considered on the edge of oblivion. Years ago the term “beleaguered” seemed to have been permanently attached as a prefix to the company’s name.

Over the past dozen years the company successfully forged a resurgence in its PC sales with the introduction of the iMac, revolutionized the global music player market and music distribution business with the development of the iPod, and the iTunes store and is now reshaping the international landscape for cell phone sales with the popular iPhone.

What makes Apple’s success even more pronounced is the fact each of the company’s product lines was developed without large technology acquisitions, and the exponential increase in revenue and earnings over the past twelve years were not created in part by mergers with established companies that would otherwise provide Apple with a competitive head start in new markets. Apple’s growth has occurred organically, and each of the company’s major product lines demonstrates a high probability for continued sales growth. Greener pastures may await.

Although the Macintosh computer has returned to popularity in the US, the EU nations are fertile ground for gains in PC market share. The iPod line has seen a leveling of unit sales activity, but the iPod touch represents a new class of multi-use handheld devices and is being marketed as a competitor in the gaming market. The iPhone remains in its nascent stage of global sales growth, while the iTunes App Store now sports more than 75,000 titles for the iPhone and iPod touch. The iTunes Music Store is now the largest music retailer in the world, besting both Walmart and for the number one spot in music sales.

Apple has more years of strong growth ahead: a progressively greener company seeing green in all major areas of operation and in the prospects for all major product segments. Apple has migrated from challenger to champ. A company on top of the world and one that sets the new standards for product design and the ways we use personal technology. As our world continues to become smaller and bigger through advancements in technology, it becomes richer in opportunities to grow in knowledge, understanding, and sharing one’s life and experiences with just about anyone, anywhere in this incredibly expanding and shrinking world.

Autumn Colors, Changing Hues

Autumn is a time of change. Deciduous trees shed the chlorophyll in their leaves to display an array of beautiful colors not seen at any other time of year. We move from the abundance of summer sunlight to early mornings absent of the sun’s first rays. Each day grows shorter, and each night is progressively prolonged.

We welcome you to our October issue. Each month our editors cobble together a unique patchwork of news, views, and product reviews. Every issue of ATPM reflects not only the Apple product season but also the natural season in which it is written. As our natural world moves from trees garnished in green to leaves resplendent in natural hues of yellow and red, we hope you enjoy our latest issue.

Our October issue includes:

Segments: Of Loud Fans and Broken Drives

Frank Wu tells his tale of computer repair.

Desktop Pictures: United Kingdom, Part 2

More photos from the United Kingdom add to last month’s collection, taken by Lee Bennett.

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.

Qaptain Qwerty

From the Old Edge to the Bleeding Edge.

Review: Hydra 2.1.3

Blue skies are here again—in your digital pictures, that is—with the help of this easy-to-use HDR imaging application. But if you’re not careful it can leave you seeing double.

Review: SpaceNavigator 3D

A lovely six-axis control device for CAD and Maya geeks has tremendous untapped potential for everyone else. Too bad the software won’t let you use it that way.

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