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    Newsletter Issue #1022: So Much for Apple Silicon Being Cheaper

    October 19th, 2021

    Forgive me for being naive about it, but I honestly expected Apple to be able to reduce the price of new Macs as a result of the switchover to Apple Silicon. You see, they no longer have to pay a third-party provider for those CPUs, and thus they should not have to concern themselves with prices that were high enough to ensure a profit for the manufacturer, Intel.

    Instead, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499 for the entry-level model, $100 more than its predecessor with Intel Inside. With all the goodies, which include the 32-core GPU, 64GB of unified memory (shared by the CPU and GPU), and an 8TB SSD, it maxes out at $6,099.

    Now to be fair to Apple, there are no doubt billions of dollars in development costs to build the new Mac processor family even though it’s based on the existing lineup of A-series chips for iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch. So I’m not begrudging Apple’s right to cover its costs and earn profits, but those higher-end Intel chips aren’t cheap.

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    Newsletter Issue #1012: About the Stuff Most of Us Don’t Care About

    December 1st, 2020

    I’ve worked for years as a tech journalist. I’ve written for a number of major publications, including a large national newspaper, USA Today, and thus I want to think that I have at least a passing idea of how the other half lives. In this case, other half means someone who can enjoy lots of tech gear without taking out the credit card or making monthly payments on it all.

    Now it’s not as if you actually get to keep the latest and most expensive gadgetry from Apple and other companies. Most expect you to return that stuff within a specified period of time. Apple, for example, has a loan program for reviewers. You — or the publication you work for — has to sign an agreement, and the gear must be returned on time. While extensions are sometimes granted, if you don’t return the items, you won’t be able to borrow any more. Despite having more money than many countries, Apple watches every dollar, and that certainly makes sense.

    Some companies let you hold onto the gear on an extended basis, meaning you probably don’t have to bother to return it. After all, it’s not as if the company will recondition and send the item to another reviewer, although some do that. So despite what some people think, I am not awash in tech gear. I have to actually pay for this stuff I own, so I have one iPhone, my wife has one iPhone and one dying iPad. My desktop gear consists of a 2010 MacBook Pro (regarded by Apple as “vintage” for several years), and a Late 2014 iMac (which has just been declared “vintage”).

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    Newsletter Issue #1010: Some Random Thoughts About Apple Silicon

    November 11th, 2020

    Branding is obviously quite important to Apple, and that branding needs to be simple, except when it’s not. So quite often one word will do, perhaps with a modifier to reflect the model number, but Apple can also add unneeded complexities. So I have an aging iMac; the full model designation is listed as “iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014),” and that’s about as awkward as you can get.

    Now the same naming scheme applies to all Macs. If Apple followed the auto industry, I’d have a 2014 27-inch Apple iMac, and maybe that’s not so much better. The iPhone, at the very least, can be more simply described, such as my wife’s iPhone 6s, but when it comes to the latest and greatest variation of a theme, it’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Sigh.

    So when the first batch of Macs with Apple Silicon debuted during Apple’s media presentation on Tuesday, November 10, I wondered just how the chips would be branded. The scuttlebutt had it that they were derived from the A14, and thus might be labeled A14X, using the same design scheme as the iPad, which often gets an enhanced version of an iPhone CPU.

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    Newsletter Issue #1008: Apple and Processor Paranoia

    November 1st, 2020

    First, I’m not going to join the crowd and report about Apple’s financials. They’ve been reported in more places than anyone can count, and if you want to know more, check Apple’s investors page for the raw figures.

    Now as you’ve probably heard, Apple is reportedly readying the first generation of Macs with Apple Silicon, based on the same chips used for the iPhone and the iPad. But while the company has done processor switches twice before, that hasn’t stopped some less-informed, or less honest, members of the member from fear-mongering.

    So as the date for the release of the first ARM-based Mac arrives, you’ll hear more and more ill-informed speculation about how Apple is destroying its brand and betraying hundreds of thousands of loyal Mac developers. But in our real world — and not the bizarre world of alternative facts — Apple has plenty of experience with processor switches.

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