Apple, Inc – Record Label?

February 12, 2007

This one threw us for a loop the first time we heard it. And the second. And the third when MM (you know who you are!) dropped us a line about it. But then, Apple, Inc. settled with Apple Corps and suddenly, it seemed a lot more possible. Then, Steve came out against DRM, and now the pieces are starting to fit together.

To recap, Apple Computer (now just Apple, or Apple, Inc. if you want to call them that) and the Beatles’ label, Apple Corps, had a longstanding feud relating to Apple Computer using the Apple name in regard to music. It all started way back in the 70s, when Apple Computer was founded and was sued in 1978 by the Beatles’ label (more technically, the holding company that owns their label, but potato, potahto)…in 1981, they settled and Apple Computer agreed not to enter the music business. Eight years later, in 1989, Apple Corps sued Apple Computer again, this time because Apple Computer had added audio recording capabilities to the Mac…they settled again in 1991. Then, in 2003, Apple Corps came suing again, for use of the Apple Computer logo in sales of music via iTunes (among other charges), and finally, here in 2007, we have the third settlement (three strikes and you’re out?).

Interestingly, as a part of that settlement, Apple Computer now owns ALL of the trademarks related to “Apple” (at least, all the ones that they or Apple Corps owned) and will license a limited set of those trademarks back to Apple Corps! This ended the feud, and should, once and for all, put the whole mess behind everyone.

Of course, the rumor mill has been active with the concept of Apple now doing a deal with the Beatles, making a yellow-submarine iPod, or selling Beatles songs exclusively through iTunes, and bla, bla, bla. It was going to be announced during the Super Bowl, they say, and now it’s going to be announced on Valentine’s Day (good thing we only have a couple days to wait, huh?).

Well, THIS rumor mill has something bigger up its sleeve, and that is Apple’s plan to distribute music directly on iPod/iPhone, allow for pre-loading of songs via select retail outlets (Apple retail stores) but best of all, allow artists to distribute their music directly through iTunes, WITHOUT DRM and WITHOUT a record label. Now, mind you, we understand that we’re not quite there yet…iTunes isn’t quite dominant enough that it alone can bring new artists onto the scene and promote them enough to break them into radio airplay and the charts (not to mention the payola involved in actually getting an act on the air and in the stores is crazy, exactly why no one has tried this before). However, for EXISTING artists, that are already big names (like for instance, U2…we all know how close Bono and the boys are to Apple), having music that is iTunes exclusive, can’t be bought in stores, is going to be a huge business for Apple. It will sell more iPods, too (and possibly other MP3 players if the acts decide to distribute their music without DRM).

What is also really interesting about the U2 angle is that U2 happens to be on the Interscope Records label…Interscope Records is owned by Universal…Universal has cozied up with Microsoft already and gotten paid by them for each Zune sold…and they want Apple to do the same thing (here’s a little article about it). Funny how they would be so vocal about it, and funny that U2 happens to be one of their acts…does anyone want to think about what it’d do to them for U2 to jump ship to Apple, and shout from the rooftops that they make FAR more money with Apple as their label than they ever did with Universal?? Could it be the end of the RIAA Cartel?? And if Apple does this, without DRM, won’t everyone else look pretty damned stupid? Add the Beatles to the mix, and suddenly you have two pretty huge acts with broad appeal making tons and tons of money and the RIAA is left right out in the cold…

Now we need to go change our names and go into witness protection, as we’ve just implied the end of the RIAA…pretty soon they’ll be suing our dogs and deceased grandparents!

What do you think? Send us your thoughts, comment below, and…aw heck, you know what we’re going to ask, so we won’t bother…

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Juicy Mac Book Details

February 6, 2007

Over the last few days, we have received recon about the future of the Mac Book (the consumer version) and we felt it hot enough to warrant its own article. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the future, with all the glory that “Santa Rosa” will bring to Apple’s consumer platform.

First, the code name, for those that aren’t familiar, Santa Rosa is the code name of Intel’s newest mobile platform…it has several interesting new features for potential Mac Book buyers:

  • Integrated 802.11n (yeah, we know, we already have that, but this is built into the platform, like 802.11b/g was built into Centrino)
  • MUCH faster graphics (using Intel’s GMA X3000)
  • 800 MHz frontside bus (faster memory, more data, blablabla)
  • Support for Flash Memory (huge power savings, faster boot times, etc.)
  • Dual HD support (we don’t anticipate seeing this in the Mac Book any time soon, but perhaps in a 17″ Mac Book Pro in the not too distant future…can you say hardware RAID in a laptop??)

Second, as you’ve come to expect from Apple Recon, not just the boring tech specs, but the analysis of what this all means. We’ll start with the 802.11n being built in…that alone is pretty huge, considering power savings and reducing components that Apple needs to purchase…802.11n fits well into the new Airport Express devices that Apple announced at Macworld, too. The new 800 MHz bus should give a nice improvement in overall system performance (roughly a 20% increase in raw memory speed, along with faster processors, should give the new Mac Book a 15-20% edge right out of the gate compared with the current generation).

Couple those things with flash memory built right in to the platform (not into proprietary hard drives like Samsung and some of the others are doing), and you get some great performance. A quick aside on the flash memory in the hard drive thing…many sites were down on the idea that Apple had turned down the Samsung drives…we are not one of them…what kind of dumb move is it integrating the flash into the hard drive? You’ve already got cache in the drive itself (most ship with 8 or 16 MB now), and the last thing we need is to build a couple gigs of flash into the damned thing, that we then throw out if/when we upgrade to a bigger drive! Apple has definitely taken the right path there going the path to integrate it right into the system, rather than using glorified hard drive cache.

Finally, however, a word about the graphics card. The X3000 is no slouch (mind you it isn’t a $400-500 card either) and it is plenty fast. The great thing about it is that it supports all the stuff that the GMA950 didn’t (which currently powers the Mac Book), including hardware T&L, OpenGL 2.0, a hardware vertex shader, and more than a 50% increase in core clock rate (667MHz vs. 400MHz). Oh, and it also supports 384MB of video memory as opposed to the paltry 128 with the 950. Finally, the graphics support of the Mac Book will be solid (not spectacular, but a lot better than today’s offering).

More as it becomes available, we are still expecting a Mac Book update here in the spring, and keep an eye out for when Intel starts shipping Santa Rosa, as this is the future of the Mac Book. As always, send us your dirt at applerecon@gmail.com, sound off in the comments, and never forget to give your new favorite rumor site a little Digg:

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Apple TV 2.0

January 31, 2007

We’ve been getting a TON of recon on the Apple TV, and we know it’s not so sexy as to talk about tablets and so forth, but feel like this is worth reporting on nevertheless…you can be the judge…

Let’s paint a picture, shall we? See if you recognize this one:

  1. Introduce a new device and price it at a premium (since you know you’ll sell as many as you can make at first, anyway)…
  2. Cut the price once R&D has been recouped…
  3. Once the market penetration has started, introduce new features, services, etc. tied to the platform…
  4. Profit (okay, so it’s a four step instead of three step plan like in South Park)

Do you remember the last time we saw that formula? Yep, the iPod…which lead to the iTunes store, which lead to complete and total market domination by Apple. Recon looking forward to Apple TV 2.0 suggests a similar path in place (only this is a five-step version of the above):

  1. Introduce Apple TV, sell it for $300 (already done)
  2. Cut the price for Christmas 2007 to $199 and MOVE UNITS
  3. Macworld 2008 – Introduce a firmware upgrade that allows direct purchase of content via iTunes (no computer needed)…also other video sources, like YouTube…and also video games (complete with a wireless controller option)
  4. Introduce one more upgrade that turns your very large install base into full fledged IP TV users…tied not just to things like iTunes and YouTube, but also directly to cable providers (and potentially content providers themselves, thus cutting the cable folks right out of the business)…thus biting Microsoft in the @$$ again while they were trying to get their act together on IPTV with whatever BS they are doing with their mishmash of approaches…
  5. Profit & completely dominate this market, too.

The end? Probably not, there is even more up Steve’s sleeve than this, but we wanted to get this out there for everyone’s knowledge…to be clear, this is a combination of tips and reports, along with our usual commentary and analysis. Do you see it going another way? Sound off in the comments or applerecon@gmail.com.

And as always, don’t forget to give us a DiggDigg!


Mac Apps On Windows

January 29, 2007

Okay, as long promised (and delivered on time!), here is the story that no one else seems to be covering, but is the result of three separate tips that we have gotten since we started operations. More than a year ago, rumors started to crop up about this subject, using the codename “Dharma” (from Lost, for fans of that show), and yet no one has sat up and taken notice (probably because on the surface, things like iPhones and Mac hardware are more interesting to speculate about)…if you read until the end of this article, we promise you will more excited about this than any other Apple rumor on the web today!

First, a little introduction…everyone these days is talking about running Windows apps on the Mac with stuff like VMware, Wine, and Parallels coherence mode. That’s all well and good, as every now and then maybe you want a little Visio or Access or some other pile of crap not available for the Mac. Our question, though, is what about going the other way, with Mac apps on Windows? How would Apple do this? Why would Apple do this? When would they do it? What would happen if Apple did this? Sit back and enjoy the absolute cutting edge of Apple Recon, which you can only find here in an EXCLUSIVE report, told in our famous goofy style…

First, the how…put a quarter in the way back machine as we take you back in time to the days of Rhapsody. For those that don’t remember those times (you were probably too busy day-trading eToys, Avenue A and Excite stock), we’ll provide a Wikipedia link. You see, Apple once had technology called the Yellow Box, they even openly talked about it…it would allow Cocoa applications to be run on Windows (there are already some open source efforts to do this, with things like GNUstep (see the Cocoa article at Wikipedia for more info))! This was all technology that was inherited with the NeXT acquisition, and as Apple has recently shown with the Intel version of Mac OS X, old projects don’t tend to die at Apple, but rather to live a secret life.

Where this gets really interesting is that since our huge traffic numbers catapulted Apple Recon into the forefront of the Apple rumor sites, we have gotten exclusive reports that the Yellow Box is alive and well. Apple has nearly every Cocoa application they write running on Windows (yes, even Vista) in their skunkworks labs. Imagine the Yellow Box being deployable like the .NET runtime, or the Sun JRE; technically, they share similarities in implementation…just as you can run a Java application on Windows or Mac, with Yellow Box, you can run Cocoa applications on Windows. Connecting the Yellow Box to your application, currently, is a build option in the secret version of Xcode that Apple maintains to do this. In the future, such applications will be truly universal between Mac OS X and Windows at the discretion of the publisher.

Second, the why…there are numerous reasons why:

  1. Switchers – once people see how great Apple’s apps are, and start to rely on them for things like surfing the web, managing photos, editing video, etc. they will begin to realize “why do I need this piece of $h!t Windows operating system with all its security and virus holes?” Just as they have already started to realize due to iPod and iTunes.
  2. Irreparable damage to Microsoft – software developers are already frustrated with Microsoft (the fact that apps written to take advantage of all the new Vista crap won’t run on XP and 2000 for instance) and moving to Apple in droves (note the amazing increases in attendees at Apple’s WWDC each year)…imagine a future where you build your application on the Mac, and the same application works for Windows, too!! Once developers start moving to Apple hardware and development tools, Microsoft becomes completely marginalized, if no one is using its developer tools and building Windows-only applications, no one is locked in to its platform…and here is the Microsoft dirty secret…no one uses Windows because they like Windows, they use it because they have to!!
  3. Java for the 21st century – even today, Java applications are slow, and their user interfaces are inconsistent at best. Yellow Box solves both of those problems, Cocoa applications are by far the fastest on Mac OS X (and because of the lightweight and portable NeXT-derived APIs, share that same speed and efficiency on Windows), and if there is anyone that knows how to get the UI right, it’s Apple! Thanks to GNUstep, much of the open source foundation is there to bring this to Linux, should it ever become desirable for Apple to do so!
  4. Bring new developers (entry level) to the platform – anyone noticed lately that Apple’s developer tools are FREE compared to the $500+ for Visual Studio (and let’s not even get started on the thousands of dollars you have to spend on Visual Studio Team System if you want to go that route)?
  5. By selling Mac applications that are already written to the huge Windows installed base, Apple will add hundreds of millions of dollars in pure profit to its bottom line…not to mention other Mac developers (and can you imagine Adobe’s joy to be able to develop only a single version of all of its applications?).
  6. Being Intel-native means two things, both that developers need to move to Xcode to build Intel-native Mac apps (which will then “just work” on Windows with Yellow Box), but also that Apple’s job at building Yellow Box itself is much easier than having to keep both PPC and Intel versions going (of course, they will continue to have a PPC version for Mac OS X beyond Leopard).

Third, the when…this one is pretty straightforward…Apple will NOT release this, or even speak publicly about it, until AFTER Microsoft releases an Intel-native version of Office. The Office club that Microsoft wields is why the Yellow Box disappeared from the face of the earth in the first place years ago…times have changed, however, and Apple no longer is as desperate for future versions of Microsoft software on its platform. The Yellow Box will be seen by Microsoft as an outright declaration of war (as Mr. Ballmer likes to say, “developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers…woooaaagh!!”). You can expect nearly an immediate end of Microsoft software development for the Apple platform when this is announced. So, we don’t expect this announcement to come until at least Macworld 2008, once Office for Intel is already shipping and we are a couple of years away from the next release of Office. By then, Apple will have less to fear as it will have a current Intel native version of Office, there will be a fully functional Open Office out there (a Cocoa one, perhaps??) and for those that still want a true MS Office can always run it via Wine, Parallels or any of the other options.

Lastly, what would happen if Apple did this…first of all, it would end any fears of “developers stop developing Mac applications because you can just run their Windows counterparts via Parallels” because it would in fact cause the exact opposite to happen (build for the Mac, run on Windows…basically an Apple version of Wine, only instead of being reverse engineered by open source hackers, built by Apple itself); second, while Microsoft is focused on the wrong game, beating Google and building its “Windows Live” and “Office Live” Apple will come in and eat their lunch and crush them on the desktop platform (where all of Microsoft’s profits come from); and third, it will simultaneously bring piles of cash, hordes of switchers and legions of developers to the Mac platform, hurting Microsoft beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Now we know, one of the arguments against this is that if we give people Mac apps Windows, there’s no reason to switch to the Mac…seriously…think about that for a second…Windows is such a mess, its very existence is the reason you switch to the Mac…getting a bigger taste of how good life can be with Mac applications will only make more people switch, not less!

Looking forward a couple of years, you can quickly see why Apple’s future is so bright and Microsoft should be very, very worried. The best part is there is nothing Microsoft can do to stop it…the boys in Redmond can’t even get their own OS shipped on time, let alone bringing any security or innovation to the table…as already mentioned, they are fighting Google on the web, Sony and Nintendo in video games, Apple in media devices, Linux in servers, legal battles on dozens of fronts, etc. which ends up giving them too many fronts to fight wars on, and leaves them wide open for an attack at home. The Microsoft house of cards is starting to fall, and all those iPod-loving-Apple-fans are ready to say good riddance!

Ultimately, the only respones that Microsoft executives will have is to kill Mac Office (which will immediately get the anti-trust concerns going again), and if they want to have a prayer at holding on to a development monopoly, do the exact same thing as Apple and release a “.NET/Win32 runtime” for other, non-Microsoft platforms. But as soon as they do that, and you an run all your Windows apps on a Microsoft-sanctioned runtime on other operating systems…well who in their right mind would keep running Windows??? This spells absolute doom for Microsoft, no matter how you look at it!

What do you think? Post comments below, or send us your tips, applerecon@gmail.com …and of course, please don’t forget to:

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Apple Event Much Sooner Than Thought?

January 27, 2007

We don’t put a lot of stock in this right now, having not gotten any confirmation of it ourselves, but there is an alleged invitation floating around the web of an Apple Event on February 1 (that’d be this coming Friday). Better safe than sorry, we decided to post it without any confirmation, and let the Apple Recon faithful make their own decision. We think it’s fishy how blurred the Apple logo is, yet how sharp the rest of the text appears…also, the large text looks very plain, not smooth and antialiased like Apple usually would do…we’ll see…

FebruaryFirstEvent

Let us be the first to say though, that if it turns out we were wrong and this does come on February 1, nothing would make us happier! See, ultimately, we’re all Apple fans like everyone else that reads this site, so the less time we have to wait until we see Leopard and iLife and everything else, the better!!

Still working on the big Monday story, stay tuned! (and as of this writing, no one has gotten very close to guessing what the big story is about…keep on guessing!)

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Apple TV Blowing Away Expectations

January 24, 2007

Breaking news tonight from a long time personal friend that works in Cupertino directly with members of the elite Apple design group. Sadly, that group will never spill the beans on what they are designing, but earlier this week, one of the members of that group disclosed that Apple TV sales are absolutely through the roof, far beyond what Apple had planned.

Specifically, orders have already exceeded the original 100,000 order that Apple had placed with Inventec, and Apple is preparing to place a second order for twice that number. Apple is now planning to sell over a million Apple TV devices leading up to the 2007 holiday season, and at least that many again during the Thanksgiving – Christmas period this year.

Apple TV is succeeding where Windows XP Media Center has failed due to its simplicity and considerably lower price. It is odd to consider Apple to be in a value market, but strangely, that is exactly what Apple TV has become. You see, its competitor is not the various network vendor products, as they come no where close to the interface and simplicity of the Apple TV; further, they don’t have the iTunes store behind them providing content. Apple TV competes directly with Windows XP Media Center, and comes in at 25% of the price! While Windows XP Media Center has become a replacement for the terrible Windows XP Home, the actual sales of devices destined to be connected to TVs in family rooms, has been very poor. Their high price, along with the mess of patching, securing and maintaining a full Windows PC in the living room is not a very attractive proposition.

Thoughts, comments? Post them below, or send them to applerecon@gmail.com. And as always, don’t forget to Digg Us!!


Mac Book Mini

January 24, 2007

So, after the record breaking day yesterday, as the expression goes, when you’re on top, you’ve got nowhere to go, but down. Before we get to the recon, wanted to say one more time, THANK YOU for Digging us, posting, writing, and so forth. The more exposure we get, the more tips we get, and the more news and recon we can provide to everyone!

Okay, on to the good stuff…we’re going to focus on the Mac Book, or more specifically, the Mac Book Pro 12″/Mini/Duo/whatever you want to call it. We have gotten an overwhelming number of comments and tips about this un-announced device, and so here’s what we know to be true with the current prototypes floating around the Apple design team (yes, that is where the prototypes go, as design and engineering are done hand in hand at Apple).

Display: Confirmed use LED backlighting (to conserve battery life), and will be a 12″ Widescreen, same resolution as Mac Book, 1280×800. Only possible wrench in this plan is getting enough screens to meet Apple’s demands, but all indications as of today’s prototypes is that this is the plan going forward.

CPU: 2GHz Core 2 Duo, sorry to say it won’t be faster, but to be small, you gotta use less watts and generate less heat…especially with the graphics card that this beast has been spotted with. Still, considering that the top end will be 2.33 – 2.5 GHz, that’s really not that bad.

RAM: 1GB standard, 3GB BTO.

Storage, Video and LOTS more after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »