Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Apple Beats IBM -- That's Failing?

Now here's a funny argument.

Apple manages to sell a configuration of 1,100 dual-processor machines to Virginia Tech, followed by an upgrade a few months later, and we're told it's not impressive because IBM could have done it.

Wait a minute.

Apple beats IBM at its own game, in one of its most succesful niches, and it's not impressive?

This reminds me of the days when Desmond Tutu, as nobel lareate and Archbishop of Cape Town, was reviled by much of white South Africa, despite his impeccable peace credentials. A story is told of how he secretly met then-president Botha for talks on ending apartheid. Botha's hat blew off onto the middle of a lake. Tutu said, "Allow me," and walked across the water to retrieve the hat.

Next day, the press report was "Tutu can't swim."

Thursday, 15 January 2004

Apple's last quarter 2003

Here is a summary of Apple's results (its fiscal first quarter for 2004):

Net profit of $63 million was dramatically up from a net loss of $8 million same quarter a year ago. Revenue hit a 4-year high of $2.006 billion, up 36 percent from year-ago quarter. The gross margin of 26.7 percent, though, was down from 27.6 percent in the year-ago quarter. A small profit from cashing in investments isn't enough to explain the difference.

Sales numbers look good: 829,000 Macs, up 12 percent from year-ago quarter, 733,000 iPods, up 235 percent from year-ago quarter.

My analysis: the G5 has added considerably to the bottom line. The iPod, while big, is small money per unit. It has to be seen long-term a way of selling more Macs, but the home lineup has to be made more exciting by adding G5 options and dropping the entry-level price.

As always, Apple scores when (a) they have a good high-end model (G5) and (b) they have a uniquely better-integrated solution (iPod + iTunes + music store).

That doesn't mean all is rosey.

Check out the breakdown of units sold.

Over the last quarter, PowerMac units have taken a dip -- possibly reflecting the fact that the initial G5 demand has been satisfied. But it's worrying that the iMac sector (including eMac) has dropped 24% over the last year. That's entry-level customers who may in future buy a high-end system. The big success story is the notebook line, which has almost doubled in units sold over 12 months.

I look forward to the next G5 move. I hope it finds its way down the whole range as soon as possible. Heat and power may seem to be big issues, but a slower version would be quite competitive with the G4. The iMac needs to be revived, the notebook momentum needs to be maintained, and the high-end momentum reinvigorated.

Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Jobs did say iTunes is the Microsoft of the Music World

It's cool that Apple is getting HP to sell iPods.

That reverses something I've complained about in the past, the way Apple let their complete and utter dominance of the entry-level PostScript printer market slip away. I don't know if anyone at Apple reads any of my opinions, but it's good to see they're getting it right this time.

But I really like this bit of the press release:

    “Apple's goal is to get iPods and iTunes into the hands of every music lover around the world, and partnering with HP, an innovative consumer company, is going to help us do just that,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “As the industry balkanizes by offering digital music wrapped in a multitude of incompatible proprietary technologies, consumers will be reassured in getting the same unparalleled digital music solutions from both HP and Apple, two leaders in the digital music era.”

Does this sound like a Microsoft head talking about Apple?

Funny Signs

This blog reminded me of some funny signs I've seen.

I've previously mentioned a restaurant in Ann Arbor called Dinersty.

Another funny one I saw in a restuarant in Stellenbosch, South Africa: Closed For Lunch. I didn't go back in the evening to see if they also closed for dinner. In the same town, at a bookstore, a hagiographic biography of then-president PW Botha was shelved under "Fiction".

Here's one at city ferry stops in Brisbane, Australia: "No unauthorized landing without Council permission". Excuse me? Wouldn't it be "authorized" with "Council permission"? Or maybe you have to explicitly get the council to prohibit you from landing. Then you have their permission to do something "unauthorized"?

In the town of Toowoomba in semi-rural Queensland (these niceties apply in Australia where 80% of the population live in cities and the real rural areas, the outback, have almost no people living there), there's a museum, which proudly proclaims how it used to be a "goal". I think they actually mean a "gaol". Their attempt at making themselves look impressive was a bit of an own gaol?