Saturday, June 07, 2003

Apple had a new (blank)...

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple will announce new 970-based Powermacs at the WWDC Keynote in about two weeks. We know that. But they also offer something new.

According to this article at the Insider, Apple will announce the new machines as the "Powermac G5" despite the fact that the processor will not be a Motorola G5 (to be fair, the actual G5 processor is just a figment of our collective imaginations).

Here's where things get sticky. The Insider only references 1.4 and 1.8 GHz processors for clock speeds, and claims Apple won't release dual-processor machines right away. Ah, that's odd.

First, as to the clock speeds, four rumored speeds of 970s being produced for Apple have popped up. They're 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.8 GHz. The 1.2 would probably only be for a Powerbook, but the other three have been associated with many recent Powermac rumors. MacBidouille (they've been surprisingly quiet as of late...) claimed we'd see 1.4, 1.6, and 1.8 GHz machines. Since there's evidence to suggest that the 1.6 GHz processor is being produced at IBM's "Fishkill" plant (apparently it's named after its location in New York, and thanks to MacUnderground reader Richard for pointing that out to me), it seems somewhat obvious that Apple would use the processor.

Also, we have to wonder why the Insider doesn't predict dual-processor machines (at least right away). You may remember that MacWhispers has reported that the 970 is significantly cheaper than the G4. Considering Apple's current Pro line-up and the price issue, you'd think that they'd put dual-970s in the Powermac. Once again looking at MacBidouille, they predicted dual-processor machines.

There's yet another problem with the Insider's report, though. It claims we'll see a more square-like case for the new Powermac (one can only assume it's al la the Cube), but rumors from MacBidouille (I know I'm citing them a lot here, but they've been producing a ton of 970 rumors as of late) suggest a rectangular motherboard. Call me old fashioned, but I like my motherboard fitting inside my computer's casing. Older MacWhispers rumors also suggest a more rectangular look.

While this rumor sounds nice, it doesn't seem to be able to hold up under scrutiny. I'm going say this is probably wrong. Although it's definitely interesting.

By the way, the title refers to the Match Game. I watch too much Game Show Network.

More fishy than Pal...

Mac Rumors has posted a completely unconfirmed rumor on its Page 2 claiming that Powerbooks will be updated the day after the WWDC Keynote.

The rumor states that Powerbooks will simply see speed bump updates on June 24 at 9 a.m. during the Developers Conference. That timeslot has been scheduled as "To Be Announced," but it seems unlikely that any hardware will be unveiled there.

I'm somewhat surprised that Mac Rumors, a site with quite a bit of credibility, would actually post such an unconfirmed rumor. The timing is completely wrong for any kind of announcement, since the Keynote is only 23 hours earlier, and Powerbook speed bumps aren't even a sure thing.

While the 15" Powerbook has been on track for updates for quite some time now, recent price drops on it and the 12" model have sparked further speculation. I still believe there's sufficient evidence, both in rumors and in facts, to predict PowerPC 970-based Powerbooks being announced along side Powermac 970s.

It's a sign...

According to Mac Rumors, distributer supplies of the 1.42 GHz Powermacs are very low or completely depleted. The Page 2 rumor goes on to claim that restock dates range from late June to early July.

This only supplies more fuel to increasingly anxious Powermac 970 rumors. While the Powermac hasn't seen a pre-update price drop like the Powerbook, these low supplies suggest that new models are on the way. If Apple is moving the entire current Powermac line (rumors of a budget priced G4 box are still flying around) to PowerPC 970 processors, it would mean that the current "Mirrored Drive Door" models are simply out of production.

Friday, June 06, 2003

I didn't see this coming?!

I don't know why I didn't see this coming, but Apple has kindly requested that CDBaby! pull its notes from the Indies music summit in Cupertino from its website. CDBaby! complied, of course.

The folks at CDBaby! claim that it wasn't an Apple Legal threat, but just a clarification from a friend at Apple. Just a big misunderstanding. Whether or not that's true could easily be debated, although I suspect that Apple would want to treat CDBaby! in a friendly manner. After all, Apple's trying to get music from these folks.

Anyway, if you missed the notes (they were pretty good) and want to catch the highlights, MacUnderground is here for you. You can have a look at some of the more notable notes in the earlier post "Indie records meet Reality Distortion Field..." just below the last post.

A bit of a pointless editorial note...

According to MacMinute, a new Mac magazine is being launched in the UK. It's called iCreate.

Yeah, that's exactly what we need, something else with a lower-case "i" at the beginning of its name. Even Apple realizes that the whole "i" thing is getting kinda old (although "iMac" and "iBook" are still great uses of the "i").

Yes, this doesn't serve much purpose as a post, but I'm getting sick of this "gratuitous use of the letter i" thing. You know it's starting to go too far when the PC companies pick it up. Hell, Apple should sue companies that use the letter for copyright infringement (we're looking at you Disney...). Next thing you know, IBM will change its name to iBM.

At least we can rest assured that with products like Keynote and Safari, Apple is realizing the limitations of the letter "i." Let's just hope "e" doesn't catch on...

Indie records meet Reality Distortion Field...

Actually, it sounds like Steve Jobs is trying to give the Independent record labels a fair deal in the iTunes Music Store.

The summit at 1 Infinite Loop was yesterday, and CDBaby! has posted some very interesting notes as to what was said and done at the meeting. It should be noted that CDBaby! states Apple as having 41 billion dollars in the bank. Apple has 4.1 billion dollars in the bank.

The notes are very comprehensive and worth a look, but here are a few of the more interesting points:

- Apple's giving the Indie labels the same deal it gave the five major labels.
- It's a non-negotiable deal. "It's take it or leave it."
- The five major labels have apparently offered Apple money to give more attention to specific artists (particularly over the banner on the iTMS homepage), but Apple refuses to accept money like that.
- Labels are paid wholesale, once a month, for the songs downloaded.
- Apple still won't reveal its profit margin per-song, which has rumored to be as much as 35 cents.
- Independent artists, who aren't represented by any label, still can't get into the iTMS. Apple wants them to go through iTMS "Partners."
- Rights, for iTunes only, are over a three-year term.
- Albums are recommended to be priced at $9.99 and lower.
- Albums must be priced at the exact value, or less, of the 99 cent tracks combined.
- The iTMS sees about 500,000 songs downloaded per week right now.
- Between three and 5 million songs have been downloaded (that does seem unusually vague, though).
- There are 10 of the 30-second previews listened to for every one song downloaded.
- 90 percent of iTMS purchases are done through the instant download system.

Apparently Apple was vague on contract specifics, with interested labels having to request contract info. CDBaby! claims to have done so.

Of course, this post isn't speculation-free. There's one particularly interesting point near the end of the notes.

"Macs in 57 Apple retail stores are pre-loaded with playlists called, 'Discover Indie Music'. A chance at in-store play."
You might remember rumors that surfaced after the iTMS launch that Apple would sell iTMS songs through stations at Apple Retail Stores in the future. This would seem to at least somewhat support that, although it's still highly speculative.

While competition is popping up, Apple's got a good head start with the iTMS. By the time PC users (yes, I feel sorry for them, too) start using the iTMS (well, that'll be some good in their computing experience), Apple should have hundred-thousands upon hundred-thousands of songs to download.

That sounds pretty groovy, doesn't it?

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Jobsian leaks?

According to TechTV, the Wall Street Journal, host of the recent All Things Digital conference, is considering changing the rules for the next conference. And they're blaming Mac bloggers.

As you might remember during the conference word hit the net that Steve Jobs had made some fairly interesting comments. This included the "No cell phones, no PDAs" quote that has pushed forward the end of both those rumors.

Here's the problem, it seems Steve said those things in what are being described as background conversations. That term could very well include his big "rap session" he had during the conference. But whatever it means, it's got the Journal pissed.

Apparently the Journal doesn't want bloggers reporting on the inside workings of the conference. And it seems that Steve's leaked quotes are what ignited the issue. While no action plan appears to have surfaced yet, I wonder how the Journal plans on stopping people from blogging on what they hear.

I guess they're blaming the Mac users because Steve was the only person there with something interesting to say (oh, Little Billy Gates just isn't such a good public speaker!)...

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Moto monkey!

In the midst of constant PowerPC 970 rumors and Powerbook 970 debates regarding the 970 motherboards reportedly being produced for 970 workstations, or could it be a 970 Xserve, with never ending chatter regarding the Powermac 970 (of course), we forget about another very important processor. No, not the PowerPC 980. But the G4.

That's right, Motorola, the company whose processor development has limped along for years, dragging Apple pitifully far behind in clock speed and power, is making some noise. No, nothing about the legendary "G5" that may have once been an actual concept to the folks at Moto. Instead we're getting news about possibly faster G4s that may in fact reach 2 GHz some day (but not soon).

One major obstacle for such a G4 would be its clock speed of only 1.3 GHz. Sure, Moto would overclock it to 1.5 GHz, but that's never a fun process. Especially when IBM's producing 1.8 GHz PowerPC 970s right now at their plant named "Fishkill" (yeah, it's just kinda disturbing).

So, "what's going on?" you ask? Well, it looks like Motorola has finally wised up to the whole "Apple is totally pissed at Moto and is leaving them for IBM" thing. With the 970 weeks away, and the 980 on its way early next year, Apple's got a surprisingly bright future with Big Blue.

Now Motorola's trying to save itself from losing the company that buys around two-thirds of all the PPC processors they produce. I think it's just a little late for that. I read something in a forum post that sums this whole situation up quite nicely: "The best thing Apple can do is get that monkey (Motorola) off their back." It's a noisy little monkey, too.

The true irony is that Moto has treated Apple like dirt for years, and they've truly taken that for granted. Without Apple's business, Moto's stock will take yet another major hit, and their PPC operations may fold completely.

Let's get this monkey off our backs.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

He ain't your Pal!

It appears that the very, very fishy "Pal" rumor from earlier today (see "Ol' buddy, ol' Pal?" below) is fishy indeed. More and more evidence discrediting the rumor as a publicity stunt by TopTechTips.

There's been no further information to support the rumor and it's becoming harder to even determine what "Pal" would even be. It appears that Apple Legal in fact never acted on the pictures while posted on TopTechTips or Spymac.

The pictures were damn good though (not to swear excessively, of course)...

Ol' buddy, ol' Pal?

TopTechTips claims to have some really juicy insider info on a new piece of Apple hardware/software called "Pal."

Here's what the original article says:

We got sent in a few screenshots (including a box shot) earlier in the day showing off a new piece of Apple software/hardware called 'Pal'. It is being classed as an Internet service software that is basically the "Mac Desktop" for the Internet. Not like .Mac has been for a storing files, but something completly new. Coining the terms:"Illuminate the Internet.""See the Light" "Green Light to the Internet". The box also mentions it will only work on Mac OS X 10.3 and above.

It turns out this is likley to be a Bootable Firewire drive from Apple that also comes with software that fixes problems and lets you boot up from it incase you run into any.

The box shot reads:

"Green Light...
the Internet...

Forget discs. Forget synching...

Pal takes your desktop and puts...
your fingertips using Mac OS X 10.3...
can take your life on the road...
use your computer and Pal to fix...
problems. So what are you waiting...
see the light."

The box had an 'aqua' look lightbulb logo on it in green. We will try to get some more screenshots and post them up later, various other websites have been sent them but Apple's Legal team has asked for them to be removed (Which means they are likely to be real).

Update: It is looking more and more like this piece of software/hardware from Apple will basically take your desktop/files and put it on to "Pal" (Assuming it is a Firewire drive like assumed) and you will be able to access your desktop and all of your preferences from any Panther Mac that has "Pal" installed. Nifty, assuming it doesn't turn out to be fake that is.

Yet another update: We've been e-mailed in by a friend close to Apple who has stated that this is going to be a bootable firewire drive by Apple that lets you transfer files to and from Mac's using OS X 10.3, and also contains software that helps fix problems with your Mac by booting from the Firewire drive. This doesn't quite add up to the Box shots we were sent in earlier but we'll wait and see.

Another updated - Thanks to Mr Anon for sending this one in

Confused? The writing is a little odd, and I don't find it very convincing. On the other hand, the pictures are very realistic (the article has pics with it, but it's best to view them here and here - you may have to scroll a bit to see them - in the Mac Rumors forum thread). If they're fakes, they're the best fakes I've ever seen.

Obviously there's a lot of debate here, and the general opinion is that this is very, very fishy. TopTechTips is a newly launched site looking for visitors, and an elaborate hoax is one way to achieve such a goal (even if it's a strange way).

Here's one thing to consider: The pictures of the Pal box show the logo being a green light bulb. While it looks different in detail, the Newton logo was also a green light bulb. In my opinion, this doesn't seem to add or remove any credibility from the rumor, but it's worth pointing out.

The iPhones arrive...

No, no, no. Apple didn't announce a mobile phone today, but instead put forth iSync 1.1 and Quicktime 6.3 for immediate download.

Then why the "iPhone" headline? That's because now iSync supports syncing with a whole slew of cell phones beyond the Sony Ericsson. New models come from Motorola, Siemens, and Nokia (a full list is available here). And the new phones come from just about every major wireless providers, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. Not just is it good news for us Yankees, but Apple users over in Europe will be happy to know that "All European Carriers" carry iSync-compatible phones.

And today's news gets even better with Quicktime 6.3, once again hitting cell phones. How? Well, 6.3 features 3GPP support, a wireless device (i.e. PDAs and phones) standard for multimedia ranging from movies to pictures. Now you can go out and buy a new camera phone and see the pictures right on your Mac.

Well folks, this seems to be some all around good news, unless you're a fan of those old iPhone rumors. Apple's intent on supporting other phones, not making its own...

Monday, June 02, 2003

Not quite a shock...

London's Design Museum has awarded the "Designer of the Year" award to Jonathan Ive this year, for his work with Apple.

The prize includes 25,000 pounds (as in the currency form), just a bit of spending cash for Mr. Ive.

A design award to Apple, what a surprise (keep the great stuff coming Jonathan!)...

Discount clues?

Earlier today, Apple lowered the price tag on the 12 and 15 inch Powerbooks by $200 to $300 (depending on model), and now everyone's speculating.

As you probably know, Apple tends to discount models it intends to revise, replace, or upgrade in the near future. The 12 inch Powerbook was announced at MWSF back in January along with the 17 inch model, and neither have been updated since. The 15 inch Powerbook hasn't been updated since last November when a slot-loading SuperDrive was introduced.

A very recent rumor from Kodawarisan claimed that 15 inch G4 Powerbooks would released at a special event in June, although I doubt that rumor is correct. The fact that today's price-drop included the 12 inch model provides a lot of support for Powerbook 970 rumors, instead.

There's now a very good argument building for a joint Powermac/Powerbook (and perhaps Xserve) 970 announcement (and possibly release) at the WWDC Keynote speech on June 23. As you probably know, MacUnderground has supported Powerbook 970 rumors for quite a while now, and today's news just fuels that position.

Considering MacWhispers new report regarding the 970 price structure (see "IBM Assimilation" below) and this latest move, I suspect there will be even more attention poured into 970 rumors and speculation over the next couple of weeks.

Apple calls the new Powerbooks prices: "Get more for less." Maybe they should try "Buy at your own risk" instead...

Sunday, June 01, 2003

IBM Assimilation?

MacWhispers claims to have major new info regarding the PowerPC 970, and specifically its cost to Apple.

According to sources, the 970 will cost Apple around 35 percent less than the G4 currently costs. With this in mind, MacWhispers speculates that Apple will be using IBM processors in all models across all lines by spring of next year. These processors include the 970, 980, and GOBI chips (IBM currently produces G3s for Apple).

The ramifications of an all-out move to IBM are massive, but almost entirely positive for Apple users (although you might want to sell your Motorola stock). Obviously, this is a major rumor that will probably receive even more attention after the WWDC keynote.

Might I say, Resistance is futile?

Take two for the Cube?

MacPlus reports that a product line revamp is in the works, with the introduction of a G4 "box."

The "box" would be a low-end machine, priced around $599, targeted at getting switchers over to the Mac; it's a space currently unfilled on the Apple product line. When you think about it, it's easy to see this as an opening for Steve to release a new G4 Cube (in case you didn't know, Steve Jobs has been overheard calling the ill-fated Cube one of his all-time favorite machine designs).

You may recall that MacWhispers reported on a very sketchy rumor involving a new Cube-shaped Mac a few weeks back. While they suggested that it could be some kind of Twentieth Anniversary model, it might very well be this G4 box instead. I wouldn't be surprised if MacWhispers revisits their old report in the coming weeks.

If this so-called Cube is on its way, we won't see it until after the Powermac line goes over to the PowerPC 970 so there's no "cannibalization" by the new box. But, speaking of cannibals, there's a real possibility that the new box would hurt eMac sales (or vice versa). But Apple could do quite a bit to prevent such a thing from happening, so don't count this rumor out.

Ah, cannibals and cubes. The perfect way to end a post.