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    Newsletter Issue #1021: The Apple Hardware Updates We May Not Need

    October 17th, 2021

    Let me make one thing perfectly clear: This story doesn’t mean Apple’s hundreds of millions of customers no longer care about buying new iPhones. Or any other hardware from them. It doesn’t necessarily even apply strictly to Apple, although that remains the focus of this column. But it does show how tech companies have more or less surpassed what customers need to get stuff done.

    This is what I mean:

    Over the years, whenever I bought a new Mac — or a new iPhone — there would be a tremendous boost in performance over the previous model with just one exception. That was the first model with a PowerPC chip in 1994.

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    Newsletter Issue #995: Does Apple Really Want to
    Alienate Customers with ARM on a Mac?

    June 14th, 2020

    A lot of what passes for tech journalism — or mainstream journalism for that matter — fails to recognize the history behind a matter. So for several years, as Apple produced faster and faster custom ARM-based CPUs that vanquished competing silicon, there has been growing speculation that the Mac will get them next.

    On the surface, it makes plenty of sense sense. In recent years, Intel has begun to hit the wall in improving the performance of its own CPU. Its efforts to build mobile processors haven’t gone so well. At one time, the low-power chip that came to be known as Atom was considered as a possible contender for use in the iPhone, or perhaps other Apple mobile gear.

    It never happened, and Intel’s efforts to move from its core competency – PC processors — haven’t gone so well. For a time Apple even bought billions of dollars of baseband modems for iPhones from Intel, but the company hasn’t been able to scale up to 5G. In the end, Apple settled a simmering series of lawsuits with Qualcomm to buy its hardware instead.

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    Newsletter Issue #990: Are Cheaper Apple Gadgets Coming?

    April 27th, 2020

    For years, Apple gear has been regarded as expensive, sometimes in the luxury class. Thus owners of such products were regarded as well-off, elites, or people who just didn’t understand the value of a dollar; well, make that whatever currency you use in your country.

    I know that when I first brought a Mac into my home, in 1989, I did price shop, not that there were many dealers who managed the full product line. In the end, I chose the shop from which my employer bought their Apple gear after having been assured I’d pay the same price they did.

    Now it was a different world, and you couldn’t buy cheap PCs for a few hundred dollars at the neighborhood supermarket. It was a serious purchase even though Apple’s pricing lay at the high-end of the market. While Macs were offered fully assembled, you could — and still could — assemble a PC from the parts. Sometimes you’d save a good deal of money, at the expense of having to assemble everything, configure device drivers and so on and so forth.

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    Newsletter Issue #983: The iPad/Mac Convergence Report

    April 6th, 2020

    When the first iPad debuted in 2010, its reasons for existence were not altogether clear. In large part, it seemed little more than a giant iPod, with the added capability of being able to access cellular data, as an option. It used iOS, and worked with mostly scaled up version of iPhone apps.

    Over time, developers learned to take advantage of the larger displays, but it took a while for apps to truly exploit the product differences, and it’s been a long decade.

    At first, the iPad was largely regarded as a media consumption device, designed to watch videos from Netflix and YouTube. Despite a growing number of productivity apps, they were largely limited-function subsets of equivalent desktop PC apps.

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