MacCentral Week in Review
Editorial: Take 2
By David Leishman firstname.lastname@example.org
First off, my thanks to Peter Cohen for filling this space so admirably last week. I was wrapped up in other work and that's too bad, really, because my column from the week prior to last garnered a couple negative notes, and at least one of them deserved a response.
One reader was upset that I spent so much time covering Apple's glowing financial performance, while, he wrote, "many, perhaps most, of us out here in Apple land could care less." His concerns centered on the idea that Apple is "content to make money with fringe hardware and software" while it "chase(s) after generation X'ers and their music," and leaves "hard working business professionals" in the lurch.
He raised other, more specific, concerns, too, but I think the above lay at the heart of his discontent. I think it's safe to say that Apple is, indeed, moving on from its singular role as the epitome of desktop publishing to fulfill Steve Jobs' expanded vision of the digital hub -- and making some good money along the way.
Given that, it's hard not to notice this week's announcements from Apple: 70 million songs have been sold via the iTunes Music Store, which is now entering its third generation; and it released new versions of iTunes and QuickTime, which support a lossless codec for improved sound-quality.
There's no doubt about it, Apple is wearing a new face in the 21st century. And for many, it looks like an iPod. While that may be anathema to some, it's borne out by the fact that the company sold more iPods than Macs last quarter -- about half of its 29 percent revenue growth was driven by the little guy.
And when you realize the Apple Stores also accounted for about the same amount of revenue as the iPod, and that their revenue growth from $0 to $1 billion might be the fastest in retail history, that new face comes into view even more clearly. This is a company that is truly thinking differently. One could even say it's got a brand-new brand.
One friend told me a story about his son's junior high school class having to write an essay about the merits of owning either an iPod or a CD-player. Not, mind you, an MP3 player, but the branded item versus a product category. That's penetration and branding at its best.
While my disgruntled reader feels Apple isn't meeting his present-day needs, it's clear that the company is planning to be around for the long haul. And, as Steve Jobs noted recently, Apple's highest responsibility -- to its users and its shareholders -- is to be successful. And as he said thirty months ago when he introduced the original iPod, "I don't think there's another company that could do this: To bring everything under one roof together, to be able to create a product like this."
Well said and well done.
And enough said. My wife and I are going to take our iPod away for a two-week vacation, and leave you again in Peter Cohen's capable hands. See you later in May.
Apple on Wednesday unveiled iTunes 4.5, a new version of the company's music jukebox software that contains many new features. Included in the new version is iMix, Music Videos, Video Trailers, a new lossless audio codec, free weekly downloads and Radio Charts. Ana according to information posted on Apple's Music Store early Wednesday morning, iTunes users now have access to a free downloadable single, which will be made available every Tuesday.
Apple on Wednesday posted QuickTime 6.5.1, an update to the company's core audio and video media handling technology for both Mac OS and Windows. The new release adds the QuickTime Lossless Encoder, which enables users to rip uncompressed CD audio without reducing that audio's quality, and improves AAC encoding.
PalmOne added a pair of color handhelds to its Zire product line Wednesday. But more important to Mac users, the PDA maker also reaffirmed its long-term support for the Mac platform in the aftermath of reports that the next version of Palm OS would drop native Mac support.
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Apple on Wednesday released iMovie 4.0.1, an updated version of the digital video editing application the company includes as part of its iLife 04 software suite. The new version improves performance when working with large projects, increases reliability when titles are added to the timeline and when third-party plug-ins are removed.
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