Greg's Bite: Apple's new, shorter product cycles
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Greg's Bite: Apple's new, shorter product cycles

As the proud owner of an iPad 3 (the "new" iPad, as Apple calls it), I was a bit frustrated to hear that the new iPad 3.5 or 4, has twice the horsepower in its chip set as my now obsolete tablet. Keeping up with the latest round of Apple products is turning out to be an expensive hobby.  

Going from the Apple dual core 5 CPU to Apple's  quad core A6X ARM microprocessor was apparently just keeping up with Apple's ongoing chip development. There is simply too much money on the table for Apple to not keep pushing the envelope. The Samsungs are still way back in the rear view mirror, but they are working hard to catch up.

Focusing on what you don't have is a trap that blinds you to what you do have.  While each new Apple product has cool new features that continue to raise the bar and flummox the competition, the usefulness of functional Mac computers and, especially, iPads, continue to fill in gaps in our technology. Perhaps one reason Apple is slowly taking the industry over is the "Apple new device via software update" phenomenon.  

One of the frustrations with other platforms is the obsolescence factor. Relatively new Android phones and tablets are left out when newer operating systems come out. Microsoft cut Nokia off at the pass recently by announcing that the current Windows mobile smartphones would not be supported by the months away Windows Mobile 8.  

To gain nothing more than bragging rights, Blamer destroyed Nokia's sales on their current smartphones. People are smart about obsoleteness in electronics. Only Apple seems to get it. Due to developments that eventually obsolete hardware, there does come a time things get long-in-the-tooth, even for Apple products. 

In case you hadn't noticed, the operating system software for Apple devices has gotten cheaper over the last few years. The iOS software that is redefining computing to include the word "mobile" is free. The Mac OS X upgrades have gotten cheaper in the last few years as well.  Remember when you had to drop $80 or so for a DVD of the latest big cat Mac OS? Now it seems like you get a whole new computer for just  $20.

I was a bit disappointed when my iPad 3 came out and didn't include Siri. Not to fear, iOS 6 fixed that. I also took advantage of the decline in solid state hard drives that has taken place. I replaced my spinning disk sort of hard drive with the same size sold state version. Wow! But for the Retinal display that is becoming the standard for Apple laptops, my year old MacBook Pro is just dandy now, thank you.  

I had previously bumped the ram to 8GB, so the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chipset is fast enough to not hamper anything I ever want to do with last year's computer. At some point processor speed bumps are statistically insignificant. We are certainly about there for most applications.

As I predicted, the Microsoft Surface computer is launching with a giant yawn from the tech writer's perspective. They "sold out" all 12 units they filled the pipeline with, but then they hit a snag on further sales as the unrealistic price point resinated with consumers. Why buy a Microsoft version of the iPad when you get so much more with the real thing?  

Take software for example. Just ask RIM (if they are still around by the end of the week): does a great piece of tablet hardware sell if there isn't a significant base of software to run on it? Microsoft's Windows 8 for the PC -- which comes out this week -- also seems to be getting a lot of bad press. A lot of big companies plan to sit out the Windows 8 cycle.

Microsoft and the PC industry thrived on the refresh cycle where ever more bloated operating systems ran ever more bloated programs, which demanded ever faster PCs with more and more memory. That cycle seems to be coming to an end.  This is the post-PC era, you know. Steve Jobs got it right.  

I am scratching my head on Apple's price point for the iPad mini. I think what is going on is that Apple is too shrewd to leave money on the table, and they know that they will sell all the iOS tablets of any description they can build. Apple doesn't need to compete with the bottom feeders to make a ton of money. Would a lower price point sell more tablets than you can build? If you still sell every tablet you can build at the higher price, the money you make is significant. The prospects for $1,000-per-share Apple stock seems to be going up.

Is there room to reduce the margin and undercut the competition with the new iPad mini? Yep, just wait and see. That is not likely to happen this year but the electronic industry needs to look out -- particularly the loss leader tablet makers. Apple has you in mind with this product.  

On another note, it should be noted, the Internet thieves are still phishing to get you to give up your credit card information to "update" your iCloud subscription. My thought process when I got the phony email, cleverly using Apple art and even showing a copyright notice for the document, was that any subscription should automatically bill to my Apple iTunes account automaticly. Then I remembered that the first 5GB of iCloud storage and the interactive functions of my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro are free. The knee jerk reaction is to fall for the professionally prepared trap. Think hard before disclosing your credit card information!  

Apple released an update of iBooks Author yesterday that took away some of the side rails that forced limited formats and limitations on authors. The potential for iPad text books is tremendous and Apple is selling the iPad Minis in 10 packs to educational customers.

My wife is getting her RN degree; hard copy textbooks and college book stores could teach the Mafia something about ripping people off.  Moving to the Apple textbook concept will sell millions of iPads of any description and make a mint selling affordable text books that also are interactive and easy to update.

That is Greg's Bite.


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