MacBook Pro Receives Minor Update, New Product Rumours Begin to Dominate, Dell and Blackberry Act Like Nothing Is Wrong, Are MacIntel’s Days Numbered?
Weekly summary of stories from across the World of Apple during the week commencing 28th July, 2014. An attempt to summarise the more interesting stories from the week and lace them in observation and comment.
MacBook Pro Receives Minor Update
The MacBook Pro with Retina display has marked the way for a flurry of updates across Apple’s product line as we head into busy season. The update is relatively minor and will act as a stop gap before Intel’s Broadwell processor platform hits the market in mid-2015.
The MacBook Pro with Retina display saw updates to both its 13- and 15-inch display models which feature faster versions of Intel’s Haswell processors, all 13-inch models now come with 8GB of RAM standard while all 15-inch models now feature 16GB of RAM. Apple also cut the price of the high end 15-inch model by $100, which now starts at $2499 (£1,999).
The update to the Retina MacBook Pro comes close after a minor refresh to the MacBook Air. Next up for refresh are the iMac and Mac mini, references to “mid-2014” versions have been found in various places on Apple’s website.
iPhone 6, iWatch, Apple TV Rumours Flow Readily
I’ll start with the more suspect rumours and work down to something more believable. First up is the long-rumoured Apple TV product, often dubbed iTV. Ars Technica has paraphrased a post from elsewhere outlining how it’s unlikely that we’ll see the rumoured Apple TV refresh this year—although we may well see a fresh to the current form of Apple TV.
The article refers to Apple’s troubles with procuring content for the hardware set top box, quoting cable companies as ‘dragging their heels’. As with most rumours around the Apple TV, it’s not yet known what form this piece of hardware will take and whether it’ll replace the current incarnation of Apple TV.
Related to this is a report from AppleInsider which covers Apple’s continued efforts to create its own Content Delivery Network (CDN) and apparently begin to rely less on third party distributers. It would appear that Apple is now serving content from its own servers directly to some and no longer serving from third party mirrors. Apple is said to have “added ‘multiple terabits per second’ of capacity, a nearly tenfold increase over its current capabilities.”
It’s not known why Apple is building this capacity, the obvious answer is of course the world’s continued reliance of the iTunes and App Stores but some have speculated that for Apple’s Apple TV dream to be answered then a reliance on media streaming will sit at the centre of it.
Next up is the iWatch. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who holds a solid track record, has suggested that Apple’s iWatch will be available in limited quantities during 2014. His prediction for the number of units that will ship is just three million. Kuo has previously pinpointed November as a production date for the iWatch which has been pushed significantly by display manufacturing issues. Previous rumours have suggested that the iWatch will be unveiled during an October 2014 event.
So far no one has spotted an iWatch, or has much clue what the device will do—other than gather fitness data.
And finally the iPhone 6. Apple is said to be planning a September 16 event to unveil the next iPhone, with an apparent release almost a month later on October 14.
This author will offer more detailed analysis of iPhone 6 rumours nearer the time, so far however we expect Apple to release two new iPhone models, one with a 4.7-inch display and one with a 5.5-inch display. It’s not known what will happen to the 4-inch model, or how the current iPhone 5c plays into this mix. Some rumours have suggested that the 5.5-inch model will be so constrained by manufacturing that it will not launch until early 2015.
Other rumours about the iPhone 6 remain scant, we’ve got a good idea of the design which will naturally be thinner than previous models and it’s expected that Apple will incorporate a faster A8 processor and an improved camera.
The end of MacIntel?
Speaking of the A8 system-on-chip, Jean-Louise Gassée has written in his Monday Note about Apple’s reliance on Intel and how that relationship could come to an end with the onset of ever powerful A-series ARM processors. As we can see from above evidence, Apple is being held back on the Mac by slow releases from Intel but its own processor manufacturing continues to forge ahead.
Gassée uses a number of arguments to back his case, starting with cost, moving on to power dissipation, and finally Intel’s poor delivery schedule.
The A7 was described by Apple as a “desktop-class” processor; Gassée summates by saying:
“By moving to ARM, Apple could continue to increase its PC market share and scoop much of the profits – it currently rakes in about half of the money made by PC makers. And it could do this while catering to its customers in the Affordable Luxury segment who like owning both an iPad and a Mac.”
Dell and BlackBerry Act Like Nothing is Wrong
Here’s some Monday entertainment for you all.
As pointed out by John Gruber, Dell and BlackBerry recently scoffed in an interview with Reuters about the threat from Apple and IBMs partnership. Whilst I wouldn’t expect any company in the world to openly admit about increasing competition from competitors, I thought we’d all learnt about how embarrassing it is to scoff at credible threats to your entire business. Gruber quotes former Palm CEO who claimed that Apple could never play in the smartphone sector and win customers as evidence of previous stupid comments, I prefer Ballmer:
Dell and BlackBerry have both stated that they’re in the midst of re-inventing themselves, and rumours have swirled about the pair maybe forging a partnership. BlackBerry’s Chief Exec likened the Apple-IBM partnership to when “two elephants start dancing”, I’d liken a Dell-BlackBerry partnership to two lead brinks sinking in the ocean.
Tune in next week (hopefully) for another dose of Apple musings. In the mean time you can follow me on Twitter and sometimes I’ll tweet something funny but mostly it’s about Apple, higher education and politics in the UK, and beer.