Author Archives: Joshua S Rief
Apple CEO Tim Cook is testifying before the US Senate this morning about Apple’s tax practices. Mr. Cook doesn’t make many public appearances, and he certainly doesn’t make many before the Senate on such high profile and controversial topics. If you’d like to follow along in real time, MarketWatch has the liveblog here.
Apple’s marquee iOS 6 feature “Flyover” has been available in most major cities now for quite some time. However, there has been at least one major exception, and that’s Paris, France. As noted by the good folks over at 9to5Mac, that changed today, and you can now witness the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame in their 3D glory. In truth, Paris, like many older cities in Europe, is remarkable to view in Flyover mode, primarily because of how different it looks as compared to modern cities. Whereas a city like New York rises many stories into the air, Paris, having been inhabited a thousand years before New York would be settled as New Amsterdam, lays almost flat by modern standards. This makes prominent landmarks such as the aforementioned Eiffel Tower truly stand out, as there are few structures challenging its height. We’re not sure when the iOS 7 team is finding time to update Maps, but while we wait for WWDC to get here, go check it out!
I promised myself I wouldn’t write another post about Apple’s advertising. It is ridiculous, when you think about it. Companies, Apple included, pay millions and millions of dollars for prime marketing spots on television, in newspapers, and on billboards all over the world. Apple has a sizable, focused marketing budget as well, though it pales in comparison to certain competitors (we’re looking at you, Samsung). But where does the insanity start? That begins whenever Apple releases a new ad. The whole blogosphere erupts with stories about the new ad. Is it good, is it insanely great? Even The Wall Street Journal‘s tech blog offshoot AllThingsD gets in on the game. It is an incredible phenomenon that probably doubles and triples the effective reach of Apple’s marketing dollars. So, even though I’m obviously a big Apple fan, I promised myself I would avoid writing additional posts about Apple’s ads. Everybody else does it, it doesn’t really help anybody, and it’s free advertising for a for-profit company that can certainly afford their own.
Yesterday’s earnings call was at once more boring and more interesting than most earnings calls have been. Tim Cook was frank with investors, acknowledging a slow down of growth in Apple’s overall business this fiscal year, lower profit margins, and the fact that the iMac would have been better released at the beginning of 2013. There were, of course, a wide variety of astounding figures released, and ultimately the company performed better than analysts expected. Most interesting to me, however, were two statements Tim Cook made early in the call. First, he mentioned an “exciting new product category.” Pick your poison on whether you believe this to be the oft-fabled iTV, the more recently-rumored iWatch, or something else all together (toaster fridge?), but it’s nice to hear Cook publicly acknowledge that there is an entirely new line of product being developed in Cupertino – something to look forward to!
Apple’s refurbished product store is well known for offering small discounts on products that are essentially the same as the ones you buy in an Apple Store. Although the refurbishing process is a little bit different for each product, it often includes a new screen, battery, and the like, in addition to fixing any cosmetic issues and restoring the original one-year warranty. The latest version of Apple’s popular iPod Touch has thus far been a holdout, never appearing in the refurbished store – until this week.
After being pulled from the App Store ten days ago, AppGratis has made it clear they have no intention of going down without a fight. Although the app can no longer be downloaded by iOS users, those who already have it installed are free to continue to use it – and AppGratis claims over 12 million people are in that position. Therefore, in addition to taking their story to the press, AppGratis is also fighting back against Apple’s judgement from within their own app, hitting users with a series of splash screens telling “their side of the story” and asking for support. On the “Save AppGratis” website, the developer claims to have received over half a million expressions of support from users.
One of the deals sites we keep an eye on, Ice Monkey, currently has one of the better offers we’ve seen for the current generation AirPort Extreme. Normally, the Extreme retails for $179 from Apple directly, and about the same from Best Buy or any other retailer that stocks it. Even refurbished, Apple’s most powerful wireless router commands a premium price at $139. Ice Monkey’s deals generally go pretty quickly, but, for the moment, you can snag a refurbished Extreme for only $114.99, with free shipping.
Though the discounts normally aren’t dramatic (and this is no exception), it does seem to be more possible than it used to be to find sales on Apple products. Yesterday, Cult of Mac posted that Walmart was selling the iPad mini (16GB) for only $299, a $30 discount off of Apple’s normal $329 selling price. I, for one, have felt that Apple should have set the mini’s price point at $299 from the get-go, as it’s simply a much more palatable number for consumers looking to pull the trigger on a purchase. Regardless, in addition to the sale on new iPad minis, Walmart is also selling refurbished iPad minis at an even lower price – $279.
There are certain categories of apps in the App Store that simply overflow with offerings, and the weather app category is certainly one of them. Excellent offerings abound, with all manner of skeuomorphic, modern, photorealistic, and conceptual designs on display. And then, of course, there’s the fact that iOS carries its own built in weather app on iPhone (you know, where it’s always 73 degrees and sunny?). The point is, there are plenty of choices. Personally, I’ve been using the widely acclaimed Dark Sky app as my primary source of weather-related info for the past six months or so, and I love it. I keep the Weather Channel app around as a backup if I need a typically unreliable ten day forecast for purposes of driving myself insane, but that’s another issue altogether.