AppleHits Week in Review

New MacBooks include hardware decoding of H.264. H.264 is also known as MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), which is a video compression standard that offers significantly greater compression than its predecessors. It is one of the few codecs that can be used by Hollywood studios when authoring Blu-ray DVD movies.

A number of MacRumors and Ars forum members noticed dramatically decreased CPU utilization when playing a 1080p video on a new aluminum MacBook compared to an older MacBook Pro running at equal clock speeds, by approximately 70%. Hardware acceleration was thought to be supported in the next major upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard with Quicktime X.

Apple has on occasion included advanced features in their new products without mention of those capabilities until some later time. There is no doubt that this feature would enable playback of 1080p HD content from iTunes and perhaps sidestep the need to license Blu-ray.

So what does this mean to you, the MacBook user? The NVIDIA Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) decoding of this video compression standard can relieve the main CPU to concentrate on other tasks that may be simultaneously occurring while delivering smooth and uninterrupted high definition video playback.

So, for example, you could simultaneously do your accounting on quickbooks, get a good recipe online for eggplant parmesan, edit the photos of your kids that you took when they got dressed up as spongebob and spiderman for Halloween and watch the Matrix movie in high definition all on the same MacBook. So much for relaxation!

The NVIDIA higher end desktop version of the GPU found in the new notebooks, the GeForce 9400 is rumored to be included in the newly refreshed iMac in a few weeks. Looks like there will be some more goodies coming to us for the holidays!

UPDATE: Apple announced that their holiday offerings are set. No new iMac updates will occur until after the new year.

Bean Counter, V Word, and Bake Sale

Apple debuted three hilarious ads in their usual “Get a Mac” style with their customary blunt comedic panache. The new ads include “Get a Mac” TV Ads Target Microsoft and their expensive ad campaign in “Bean Counter,” “The V Word” and “Bake Sale.” It would seem that Microsoft is attempting to distance themselves from the name Vista as it is associated by many customers with significant distress based on their prior experiences with the operating system.

Instead of trying to resolve Vistas problems, they began a $300 million advertisement campaign that even included Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates in a couple of ads. None mention Vista by name, instead, there are references to PC’s and “Windows. Life without walls” and they are used to focus attention on more popular monikers.

Apple wants to make sure that Microsoft gets credit for not only their products but for their clever ads as well! [Huh? why would Apple want to make sure that Microsoft gets credit for their clever ads?]

Apple’s Strong financial report for the fourth quarter 2008 and a lackluster response by Wall Street

Apple’s latest financial results can be summed up in one word: Stellar! Strong iPod and iTunes, music, video and App sales (200 million Apps downloaded this week since opening about 3 months ago), phenomenal Mac sales and blockbuster worldwide iPhone 3G sales! AT&T reported 2.4 million iPhone 3G activations in this last quarter in the U.S. – which is only 34.8% of the worldwide iPhone market!

If Apple would have accounted for their iPhone 3G sales in the same manner that they account for their iPod and Mac sales, the amount of profit would have been staggering. The adjusted net income would have grown by 125% as compared to last year’s fourth quarter and 63% of Apple’s profits from the last quarter would have come from iPhone sales alone!

Because Apple gives iPhone software upgrades free of charge to its customers over the life of those product, the company accounts for iPhone sales over a 2-year deferment period, thereby decreasing the numbers that represent its true financial earnings in the reported quarter.

Warren Buffet’s simple rule of buying is to “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when other are fearful.” As Wall Street is in the grips of an economic tsunami with fear gripping investors and analysts alike, the realization of just how significant Apple’s iPhone will be for the future growth of the company is obvious if you look beyond the official accounting numbers.

Now go buy some serious Apple stock!

Response to the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros has been generally positive

Apple announced last week the launch of two new MacBook and MacBook Pro models that are manufactured in a completely new and radical fashion. Cut from a single block of aluminum, these notebooks are stronger and because there are fewer parts involved in their construction, they have fewer opportunities for failure.

They sport a slightly new look with tapered edges akin to the MacBook Air and posses new LED backlit glossy screens. New NVIDIA-integrated graphic chips reside in both consumer and pro models and the MacBook Pro exhibits an added discrete graphics chip for even more graphics capabilities. Reviews for the MacBook and MacBook Pro have been mostly favorable.

I ordered a MacBook Pro, details of my hands-on experience to be forthcoming when the package arrives, hopefully by next week!

Apple began testing of Mac OS X 10.5.6 and Quicktime 7.6 this week

Apple began testing a long list of components for the next update to Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard. Focusing on core audio technologies and iCal, it also attempts to rectify problems in Safari, AddressBook, Printing, iChat and Finder, among others. This hefty update is said to be nearly 350MB in size.

Testing of Quicktime 7.6 had also begun this week. Improved handling of 5.1 channel audio and refinement to AAC, MPEG-1 and Apple Lossless tracks .

Tune in for more as this develops…

Airport Extreme Update 2008-004 released

The update is recommended for all intel-based Macs running OS X 10.5.5. When roaming in large Wi-Fi networks, this update resolves certain issues with Airport connections.

Teen Reporter Identified in False Report of Heart Attack

An 18-year-old posted an erroneous report on CNN’s, claiming to have had a “reliable” anonymous source. The report stated that Steve Jobs had been rushed to a major hospital after suffering a “major heart attack.” The information sent Apple shares tumbling as much as 5.4%, representing a loss of more than $7 billion on the day of the report, October 3rd. CNN’s iReport is an open platform that allows citizen journalists to report news. CNN states that the information reported in iReport is “unedited and unfiltered news” and “makes no guarantee of content or coverage.”

The SEC is currently investigating whether there was a malicious motive behind the report to manipulate the company’s stock and to profit from such manipulation. The SEC case hinges on what the teen’s intentions were behind publishing the report.

A failure of “Open Systems”. In my view, the internet has many outlets to express yourself or report information that you feel is true from your perspective, but it is irresponsible for a reputable news organization like CNN to publish false and potentially damaging information to their website or one that they are affiliated with.

It’s not far from yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is no credible fire. The damage inflicted does not outweigh the benefit of freedom of speech in that moment.

Writing as someone with medical knowledge, Steve Jobs’ blood pressure (as he himself reported) during the introduction of the new MacBooks, was within normal limits (a.k.a. just fine!).

iPhone Software 2.2 beta 2 and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard pre-releases Delivered to Developers

iPhone Software 2.2 beta 2—This new version includes Google Street views to the built in Google Maps program. Further modifications include the ability turn iPhone’s text auto-correction off and support for Japanese emoji icons. The iPhone SDK now allows support for iPhone and iPod Touch audio input hardware accessories.

Snow Leopard

The first test release version since the World Wide Developers Conference in June was furnished to developers. The release is said to have a completely written Finder in Cocoa, Microsoft Exchange and an Image Boot function.

Stay tuned for many more exciting news, reviews and announcements on all things Apple!

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