Posts in category apple - page 11

Apple’s next enclosure material?

Olivier wonders about Apple’s next enclosure material and that got me pondering. Jobs has already utilized:

  • magnesium (NeXT stations/cubes)
  • titanium (PowerBook)
  • aluminum alloy (MacBook)
  • polycarbonate (iMac, iPod, iBook)

The current Intel machines reused the existing PowerPC enclosure designs – at least superficially – for the iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro machines. Only the MacBook got to knock the older iBook design away.

What material could be next?

Carbon fiber has already been partially used by the likes of Acer and Sony on laptops. Whilst it might be light and strong it is brittle and the thermal conductivity is opposite to what you’re looking for in a laptop.

Jobs also loves metal enclosures at least at the high-end of the market where the price can cover the cost – although apparently not enough to absorb commercial-grade titanium any more hence the PowerBook switch to aluminum.

There are plenty of metals and alloys out there but besides cost they need to be tooled into the designs Apple want, finished to a high standard that won’t corrode or easily mark, strong and inflexible, lightweight and ideally possess good thermal conductivity.


MacBook Pro berylliumBeryllium is cheaper than titanium and has all the important characteristics described above plus a few extra bonuses that make it a primary candidate:

  • easily x-ray’ed through (think laptops at airports)
  • tarnish resistant to high skin acidity (a problem with existing painted aluminum enclosures)
  • available in a variety of colors (why not have a selection… the iMac, iBook and iPod Nano have)

Bear in mind that most of Apple’s equipment (and indeed the majority of the worlds laptops) are manufactured at only a handful of companies out in the far east (Quanta, Compal, Foxconn) they would need to be heavily involved in the process.

But then pushing for breakaway designs that require advanced tooling and alternative manufacturing approaches is one of Job’s passions and what keeps Apple’s hardware looking that one step ahead.


There are two potential problems with beryllium.

  1. in gas or dust forms it is dangerous to humans (as a gas this is Berlyium Oxide BeO …. spookly almost BeOS ;-)
  2. it reacts with lithium – as used in the current Lithium Ion batteries

Given that Apple use batteries by Sony and there are a couple of stories about the laptops catching fire this could be a problem – especially given that your laptop catching fire is bad enough when it isn’t violently reacting with the battery and producing carcinogenic gases.


True cost of the iPhone

So you like the iPhone and think you’ll buy one?

In the USA…

If you live in the USA then thanks to Cingular’s exclusive multi-year deal if you want an iPhone and go with their cheapest voice-only plan at $39.99 a month (which you have to pay for 24 months) you can expect your iPhone to cost you (assuming you can get out of your current contract without penalty):

4GB – $499 + $959 = $1,458

8GB – $599 + $959 = $1,558

Being that Cingular normally discount smartphones by around $150 when you take a contract I guess Apple could end up selling them for $599 and $699 once they are out of the Cingular deal. Hopefully this “exclusive deal” leaves the door open for Apple to sell them direct without a plan for a slightly higher price.

This guy believes the text, voicemail and Internet supplements needed push the monthly price up by another $35 a month!


When Apple come to Europe signing such an exclusive deal could severely hamper adoption and gaining that elusive 1% worldwide market share. Europe is a massive patchwork of operators and people won’t want to switch and loose their number – especially the sort of heavy-use/business people they’re aiming for.

Perhaps we just have it cheaper in Europe for once?

My current plan costs around $30 a month and includes 50 free minutes, 50 free texts and gives a whopping $350 discount off a HTC TyTN smartphone when you take out an 18 month contract. On that basis the price would be:

$481 + $360 = $841

The user interface can’t touch the iPhone and it has less storage (for now, thanks to the microSD slot) but it is also UTMS/3G, can load third party apps, has instant messaging and also can connect to a Bluetooth GPS device to interact with third-party mapping software. I can also change the battery when things go bad if needed and it runs Skype – the second camera – the one on the front means I can video-call.

Nice try Apple but I’ll wait for the 3G iPhone – why not add some of these fun features in the mean-time ;-)


Apple Macworld misfires

So the Apple TV and iPhone are finally announced and visually impressive with a very refined user interface – but some of the technical specifications aren’t quite there.

Apple TV

First off the Apple TV tops out at 720p high-def – what!? For less than Apple TV’s $299 I can get an Xbox 360 that does video & audio streaming at 1080p. Sure the 360 is missing HDMI and the slick software but it does play state of the art 3D on-line games.

Video scaled up to 720p by the device and then scaled up to 1080p by the TV is ugly.


Apple’s iPhone is supposed to be state of the art but GSM really isn’t good enough. The world is moving on to 3G and UTMS is essential in the likes of Japan and important even in the USA. Other manufacturers do it, why isn’t Apple?

Secondly this is supposed to be state of the art Internet? Where the hell is instant messaging? You’ve got the UI with SMS but what if I want to talk to iChat, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN Messenger users? Zip.

Thirdly where is the SDK/API? Initial reports are indicating that it is a closed platform.


Phone users seem to fall into one of two groups. People who want a voice phone with maybe a few extra features who won’t be prepared to pay $499 (plus the cost of a 2 year contract) and the second are existing smartphone users who often need to install additional applications and maybe even games. No mention of J2ME, no mention of an SDK. Nada.

It’s a slick product but for now is just functionally incomplete compared to what I have. Smartphone + iPod all the way.


Jobs also thinks they are going for 1% of the massive mobile market share. Funny as ex-Apple’s Kawasaki puts this goal at number 11 of his Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs.

My god who decided to let the Cingular CEO on stage to read their corporate brochure.


Parallels Desktop 3036 beta build out

Parallels have released a beta build of their excellent virtual machine for the Mac and it’s loaded with cool new features. Once out of beta it will be a free upgrade to existing owners.

The feature list runs something like this:

  • Drag & drop files between Finder & Explorer for copying
  • Boot from the Boot Camp partition (will require another activation and you loose suspend VM)
  • Read/Write to the Boot Camp partition (NTFS or FAT)
  • Use Mac clipboard cut/copy/paste short cuts in Windows (opt XCV)
  • Graphics performance increases of up to 50%
  • Windows auto resizes to Mac window size (about time)
  • Coherence mode puts Windows application on the Mac desktop & DockBar instead of in the VM window
  • Transporter lets you convert VMware and VirtualPC images to Parallels Desktop
  • UI has been revised & polished throughout to be more Mac-like

It’s not all perfect though – some people have been reporting problems with Mac Pro systems and video driver support so waiting for a few days might be a good idea but it’s great progress.

Microsoft have a number of VirtualPC images available including the Visual Studio Orcas preview and the Internet Explorer 6 test platform. With Transporter you should just be able to convert them and get going although I would imagine the copy of XP will balk and require re-activation :(

Now we just need vitalized multi-processors, 64-bit support and hardware accelerated 3D ;-)

Parallels has gained support for hardware accelerated 3D and VMware support for multiple cores/processors since this post was published.