Ah, vacation. My wife and I headed out with thoughts of a cabin in the trees, rushing water, books, walks, and a decided lack of technology. Except, of course, for a laptop, an iPod and a digital camera.
First thing, we had to turn on the water to the cabin. In the dark. With directions that were just a bit kittywampus. So the first rushing water we heard was not a babbling brook, but a gusher entering the basement. Well, we’re clever and fixed the problem right quick.
Then we headed upstairs and there’s a year-old New Yorker magazine on the table inside the door. Just the thing, says I—some light, urbane writing as I unwind from the four-hour drive. And smack-dab on the back cover was an ad for the introduction of the iTunes Music Store; you remember, the one with the guitar.
Eek, too modern.
So I dropped the magazine and headed to the house’s “entertainment center.” Which featured a non-cableized TV—which meant no reception in the woods—and an honest-to-God eight-track player. With no tapes.
Eek, too old.
All of a sudden, those Apple-branded products we brought along began to look like a Godsend. Snap, click-click, pop, and we had running music.
Ah, just right.
The rest of our vacation passed uneventfully, just the way we planned it.
Now I’m back, just in time to discover that Mr. Jobs and company are determined to digitize and market every bit (pun intended) of music ever recorded. And are willing to pay the costs for the transfers. Since the music industry doesn’t seem to be moving to the forefront of the digitizing rush, this should leave Apple in a very enviable position.
Apple has also struck a deal with a Chinese PC maker to bundle iTunes for Windows on its computers. While Apple won’t reach all 1.3 billion of that country’s citizens on this first go-round, subsequently selling iPods to even one percent of that market would likely outstrip U.S. sales through the rest of this decade. And if it really caught on...well, even if China’s middle class only runs to about 100 million people, if Apple could penetrate the market as it has here, it would be rich beyond the dreams of Midas.
The minds behind Apple’s new re-organization recognize that enormous potential, even if they won’t really talk about it. And just because the new division is named after the iPod, there’s no reason on earth that it can’t grow into the consumer appliances division, or whatever Mr. Jobs chooses to call it. Which you can bet will have a more elegant ring to it.
I’m deeply impressed. Apple doesn’t want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, but the company does want it to have access to the best music service available. And the best computers. But its best chance to win that latter war is first to win the battle for the best music playing device.
Apple on Wednesday reported it has reorganized its corporate structure into new iPod and Macintosh divisions. The iPod division will be led by Jon Rubinstein, Senior Vice President Hardware Engineering, while Apple’s Macintosh efforts will be led by Executive Vice President Worldwide Sales and Operations Tim Cook. Tim Bucher, who heads Mac system development, will head up the Mac’s hardware engineering.
Nvidia this week announced it has widespread support from major manufacturers of notebooks for its proposed Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) graphics standard for add-on modules that will use Intel’s new PCI Express bus to enable faster, upgradeable graphics for portable computers. The company said notebooks based on the new bus technology should start appearing this fall.
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Microsoft on Wednesday officially released Office 2004 in two configurations, and will offer a high-end configuration later this year when Virtual PC 7 is ready. The Microsoft Office Standard Edition will cost US$399, $239 for the upgrade; the Office Student and Teacher Edition will cost $149 for the full version. The company is offering an Office Test Drive on its MacTopia Web site.
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Microsoft’s Macintosh software division has unveiled Office 2004 for Macintosh, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage, an email and calendar program. Once again, Microsoft added few big-ticket features, preferring to focus on a motley collection of nips and tucks.
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