Tag: macbook

Chromebooks now outsell Macs

c04808585Google’s low-cost Chromebooks are now outselling the Apple range of Macs in the US for the first time.

IDC analyst Linn Huang has been adding up the numbers and concluded that Chrome OS overtook Mac OS in the US in terms of shipments for the first time in 1Q16.
Apple sold 1.76 million Macs in the latest quarter, with nearly 2 million  Chromebooks sold by Dell, HP, and Lenovo combined.

Over the pond, Chromebooks are extremely popular as they are supplied to students in schools.

Google recently announced that Android apps are on the way to the Chrome platform so it looks like the technology is getting as large and stable as Android.


Quanta hit by Apple iWatch

WatchTaiwanese original developer manufacturer (ODM) Quanta may well find its profits depend on two variable products Apple is introducing – the Apple iWatch and the 12-inch Macbook.

A UBS analyst, quoted in today’s Taipei Times, thinks that Quanta will find putting the Apple kit together will be more expensive than first thought.

And products made by Quanta may not be available until the end of this calendar quarter. Another variable factor is that while Apple has received lots of press coverage for its smart iWatch, it’s entirely possible sales might not pan out to be as great as the hype suggests.

Quanta, like many of the major Taiwanese ODMs, operates on razor thin margins – for the last quarter of 2014 it amounted to a measly 1.26 percent.

Analyst Wang Wanli is quoted as saying in the Taipei Times that the Apple watch yield is less than 50 percent – compounded by the need to rush to market and get good production yields right away.

AMD results were better than expected

AMD surprised the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street by accouncing a better than expected third quarter result.

AMD made $1.46 billion which was made up of operating income of $95 million and net income of $48 million.

Analysts figures were stuffed up by AMD collecting a deal to supplying processors for new game consoles like Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One, which go on sale in November.

Rory Read, AMD president and CEO, said that AMD returned to profitability and generated free cash flow in the third quarter.

He said that it was all part of his strategic transformation plan which was outlined a year ago.

Read said he wanted to generate half of the outfit’s revenue from high-growth markets over the next two years.

“Developing industry-leading technology remains at our core, and we are in the middle of a multi-year journey to redefine AMD as a leader across a more diverse set of growth markets,” Read said.

But there was somethings to concern investors, some of whom thought the blow-out in the books from the console deal should have been higher.

Revenue from the company’s computing solutions segment revenue decreased six percent sequentially and decreased 15 percent year-over-year.

This was due to less notebook and chipset unit shipments, partially offset by an increase in desktop unit shipments.

Operating income was $22 million, compared with operating income of $2 million in the second quarter and an operating loss of $114 million in third quarter of last year 2012.

The microprocessor average selling price (ASP) was flat sequentially and decreased year-over-year, AMD said.

Graphics and visual revenue increased 110 percent sequentially and increased 96 percent thanks to AMD’s semi custom business.

But GPU revenue declined, this is because in the third quarter AMD customers began moving to new products. 

AMD chips give MacBook Pros a stinking headache

Users of 2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros are finding that their AMD graphics processors are letting them down and that they need a $500 logic board replacement.

Several threads on Apple’s Support Communities forum suggest that the problem presents itself as a graphical glitch or complete system lockup.

The problem appears to be caused when the MacBook Pro switches from the integrated Intel graphics chip to the discrete AMD GPU.

According to Apple Insider the first problems cropped up in February, but are increasing.

What appears to have happened is that Apple introduced the automatic graphics switching system, which shifts the processing load between the integrated chip and the discrete GPU based on what the user is doing.

First users get display discoloration, banding, and image distortion, but others say that their computers suddenly freeze without any warning. Rebooting rarely fixes the problem.

The majority of affected users are using early-2011 MacBook Pros with the AMD Radeon 6750M GPU. However failures are not limited to that chip as those using the Radeon 6490M, 6750M, and 6970M GPUs are also experiencing the problem.

Of course Apple has been slow to respond and have been telling users without AppleCare that they will have to buy a new logic board which will set them back $500 or more. They are also treated to a stare from the Apple Genius as to why they owned such an old laptop when the true Apple religion demands a yearly upgrade.

Apple 2011 laptop range appears to be mourning the death of Steve Jobs, with problems on the models now stretches over more than 140 pages with over 2,000 replies on one site alone. 

Apple to buy flash drive company Anobit

Fruity cargo cult Apple has been shopping in the Promised Land and has its eyes on Israel’s Anobit, which makes flash storage technology.

Cupertino is thinking of writing a cheque for more than $500 million for the outfit, according to Calcalist financial daily.

Apple knows Anobit well. It came up with a chip to enhances flash drive performance through signal processing. The chip is already incorporated in Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad and the MacBook Air.

If the deal goes through, it would be one of Apple’s biggest and its first in Israel, Calcalist said. It is also one of Apple’s rare hardware purchases.

What is specifically interesting Apple is Anobit’s technology to increase and enhance the memory volume and performance of its devices without needing more RAM.

The outfit has key clients including Korean based Samsung and Hynix. We guess if Apple buys the company, then Samsung might have to go elsewhere, but Hynix recently become the main flash memory supplier for Apple’s iPhone 4S. Anobit’s chip is incorporated into Hynix’s flash drives.

It is not really clear why Apple needs to buy the company, after all it just needs to licence the technology for its equipment and that’s a lot easier than having to run it.

Our suspicion is that it is one of Apple’s control issues coming to the fore. With Anobit in-house, Apple can control who gets that particular technology, if anyone. Given Apple’s current spat with Samsung, it would put Apple in control of some rather innovative flash-drive memory patents which it could stop rivals from using. 

Apple considers snapping up AMD

An industry watcher, who wishes to remain anonymous, has plucked a rumour from the dark mill where they tend to be spawned about Apple, Intel and AMD.

A crazy theory, our source begins, but plausible nonetheless. Apple and Intel are secretly on the warpath with each other – and that’s what the Ultrabook is all about. 2005 saw an exclusivity agreement struck between the two. Our source suggests Apple traded that five years in exclusivity for a seamless transition to x86.

As a result, Apple is an x86 company. That gives it decent interoperability with Wintel, and it means Apple doesn’t have to hang about waiting for ARM to conjure up a chip that will provide the sort of beefcake power Apple needs at the higher end. 

Who else runs on X86? When Apple’s five year agreement allegedly came to an end, Apple was rumoured to be tinkering with AMD processors inside its Macbook Air. Jobs was always a fan of Intel, but he does say in his biography that, while Intel chips are excellent, the company has a rough time in innovating quickly. 

The good ship Intel runs very slow on innovation, and Apple has never been too keen to help. Apple worried that if it started giving Intel ideas, Intel would probably go ahead and share those with its other partners. The first Ultrabooks, with their uncanny resemblance to Macbooks, are the proof. 

Apple wants its own ego-system to triumph. And that means leaving Intel behind – because of its close ties to Microsoft. The Wintel alliance is in full swing again, meaning Chipzilla gets the best of both worlds. If Apple partnered with, or even acquired AMD, it would leave Wintel behind. Not to mention the IP and patent portfolio it would inherit and the freedom to add or modify different functions to its own x86 designs.

Crucially, if Apple was interested, the regulators probably wouldn’t get too excited. Neither Apple nor AMD holds enough of the market for the antitrust watchdogs to gnash their teeth. At the same time, it would bolster competition against convicted monopolist Intel.

The signs, the industry watcher says, are all there. New CEO Rory Read has slashed staff by ten percent, and top execs have had the boot, too. Could Read be opening AMD’s kimono to Apple?

MacBook gets new intel chips

Fruity cargo cult Apple has just upgraded its MacBooks.

The MacBook, which still has one of the worst keyboards since the Imperial 66 typewriter, has been released with a nice new CPU and graphics chips for basic models.

Now the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with either a 2.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor or a 2.8 GHZ dual-core Intel Core i7. This is an improvement on what has been under the bonnet so far. Hard drives have also been increased in size with 500GB appearing on the i5 model with the 750GB hard drives turning up on the i7.

Similarly, the 15-inch MacBook Pro has upgraded its basic model’s processor to a quad-core 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7. You now have the option of upgrading to a 2.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7. The basic model of the 17-inch MacBook Pro comes with the 2.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 as its default processor.

The basic 15-inch MacBook Pro has a more powerful AMD Radeon HD 6750M discrete graphics card with 512MB of GDDR5. The faster 15-inch version will ship with an AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5. Currently the 6770M is seen as standard with the 17-inch model.

You’ll be able to pick up the MacBook Pro for $1,199 for the basic 13-inch model, or $2,499 for the 17-inch model.

Apple has not looked at how terrible its keyboards are, and has instead moved into touch screens which are even harder to type on. 

Mac Lion is hackers' paradise

Apple’s faith-based security system, which  was supposed to suddenly become brilliant when Lion was released,  has a basic programming error which gives hackers control of passwords.

According to CNET the problem is that Apple decided to store passwords in shadow files which requires you to tap in your user password if you want to see or change anything.  This is a good thing.

But the new Lion OS has a loophole that lets any user see all the passwords. While they can’t see the shadow files they can change the passwords, which is a little daft.

For some reason Lion forgets to ask for authentication when someone changes a password. Hacking a Mac is as easy as typing “$ dscl localhost -passwd /Search/Users/bob” into Terminal, the Mac command line program. You can then put your own password in and control the machine.

Apple fanboys will no doubt tell us that you need to gain access to the computer to do that and every Mac user’s desk is surrounded by barbed wire, a couple of pit bulls with rubber bands tied around their testicles and regular patrols by armed guards.

Apple users never leave their computer alone for a second so Lion’s security is far superior to anything from Microsoft.

It is a problem for those who have shared or public computers. Also it is further proof that under no circumstances should you ever stick a Mac on a corporate network.

Fortunately for Mac users, it would take a lot of effort to break into your house, change your password to gain access to your hard drive only to find your Coldplay collection.  

Apple cracks down on truth-telling app

Fruity toymaker Apple has reacted badly to a app which points out how its gizmos are built in Chinese sweatshops.

Phone Story, a new iPhone game app, was launched then banned on the same day by the iTunes App Store.

The App, called Phone Story, takes players on a tour of the darkside of iPhone manufacture. This includes the mining of blood minerals by children, toxic recycling centres in developing nations, suicide-inducing working conditions of Chinese factories.

“Phone Story is an educational game about the dark side of your favourite smart phone. Follow your phone’s journey around the world and fight the market forces in a spiral of planned obsolescence,” the site says. 

The app  was designed to raise cash and awareness for the victims of the Apple cargo cult.

According to the site, all of the revenues raised go directly to workers’ organisations and other non-profits that are working to stop the horrors represented in the game.

The first group to receive any cash were meant to be SACOM, the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, a group that have been strenuously working on the Foxconn case.

We can see why Jobs’ Mob would want to repress such an app. After all it does not want to remind its fanboys what its policies do to other humans.

However Apple need not worry. Most fanboys don’t really care if a Pakistani dies of cancer because of their shiny toy addiction. Who cares if people in a Chinese factory throw themselves off buildings because life creating an iPhone so that there is a high enough mark up for Apple, is hell on toast?  What does it matter that you measure the production of a product in terms of how many were killed making it

It is the nature of the Apple cargo cult for its members to see themselves as better than everyone else because they have a technology toy. Nike suffered badly from “sweat shop” revelations. Apple fanboys continue to support the company even knowing where their products come from. 

Intel everywhere in Apple product refresh

The elusive Apple has sent its standard “low cost” go-to, the traditional MacBook, to the knacker’s yard. Here comes the MacBook Air to replace it, along with Intel’s Thunderbolt and a refresh for the Lion OS.

The new models of the MacBook Air start at $999 and are available now. While you’re still paying the, er, same low price, Macworld reports it’s for a smaller display. 

Instead you will get a 11 inch display available with 2GB of memory and 64 GB flash storage. If you want a bigger screen expect to pay $1,199. The extra price also covers 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage.

There’s also a 13 inch, 1.7 GHz flavour which comes in two flavours. 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage will cost $1,299, while 4GB and 256GB of flash will cost $1,599. 
Intel’s much whispered about Thunderbolt makes an appearance. Stripped down to basics bordering on absurdity, it’s a way to transfer and connect stuff to and from the MacBook Air. 

Meanwhile, the OS X Lion has made an appearance. Apple’s charging $29.99 to upgrade. Included is stuff like multi-touch, support for full screen apps, redesigned mail, etc. 
Lion comes with innovative features invented by the forward-thinking Apple team such as……….. auto save.

Then there’s resume. So you can go back into an app as it was when you left it.

Then there’s what Apple calls Versions, which lets you “even copy and paste from previous versions” of a document you are working on. 

Then there’s AirDrop. It uses a wireless connection to tell you how many other people nearby you have spent a lot of money on Apple products. You can then transfer files to them. 

Apple suggests its users with slow broadband head down to an Apple store if they want the 4GB download. Of course, you are locked in with Intel, requiring as it does a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor.