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Apple 2013 September Media Event

Apple has the keynote up and streaming.

And as usual, my 2 cents. 😀

Just like any Apple keynotes, it started with Tim Cook talking about stuff. iTunes Festival, more Apple stores, “absolutely stunning.” Then Craig went on stage, rehashing iOS7’s features. “Precise typography.” Yeah yeah. New ringtones, new tones, “remastered”… err… whatever.

Did Craig just say iMail? 😀

iTunes Radio… Yeah, whatever. I’m sure J-Pop and Eurobeat are not in the listed genres. And did they blackout the screen when Craig showed the NBC app? LOL. And I think Craig also showed the new iPad (or maybe it’s the iPad mini). September 18. Meanwhile, my HTC One still has not gotten 4.2 update.

Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, and iMovie for iOS are made free. Not sure how it would work as it still shows as paid apps on my iDevices. Apple said they are free with new iOS devices, and the offer is shown when you first set up the iDevice. I’ll just wait till iOS7 is out.

iPhone 5, replaced. Yup, instead of just reducing the price, Apple replaced the iPhone 5 with the iPhone 5C. Yes, that supposedly “cheap” iPhone is not cheap, it’s on the middle spot. Sounds like Apple couldn’t justify the manufacturing cost of the iPhone 5 to lower its price while maintaining a healthy margin, so comes the cheaper polycarbonate iPhone 5C. And, only Apple can make a fancy video glorifying polycarbonate plastic and some silicone cases, featuring Jason Statham… I meant Jony Ive..

So, what’s the iPhone 5C? It’s the iPhone 5 with a slightly larger battery inside the cheaper (for Apple) plastic. Phil didn’t say it would have the sapphire lens like the 5 though. LTE bands, but no 802.11ac. Maybe it’s too early to judge until I can touch it, but glossy plastic just don’t go on a device that is going to hand held most of its life. Fingerprint magnets.

What hurts more? The price. It’s $99 with 2 year contract for the 16GB model, and $199 for the 32GB model. The 16GB model is $549 unlocked. Err, yeah. So much for the “cheap” iPhone huh. Meanwhile, 16GB Nexus 4 is $249. You can bash the Nexus 4 however you want, no LTE, Android, but in the end, it’s less than half the price of the iPhone 5C, while retaining its glass built instead of going to plastic. Whoever though that Apple would actually release a “cheap” iPhone is silly to begin with as Apple is all about margins. September 13th, pre-order starts. Shipping on September 20th in major markets, including China.

Next is the iPhone 5S. All the rumors are true. Gold color and fingerprint scanner. The surprise, A7 going 64bit. And now the “black” color becomes “Space Gray.” LOL. I guess Apple couldn’t solve the chipping problems that the black iPhone 5 is suffering from, they are just going less black and call it a gray iPhone now. 😀

The big news is the 64bit part. Yes, remember the transition between 32bit to 64bit in PCs? It’s now happening. Phil implied that this transition is quick, unlike the years involved on PCs. What does this mean? This mean don’t buy that iPhone 5C. Yes, this kinda hints that Apple will transition iOS to 64bit fairly quickly, and Apple is well known to drop support off their older devices whenever. I can see that once all their lineup is 64bit, they will abandon anything with A6 (32bit) or older very quickly. So a fair warning, if you really want to buy an iPhone today, help yourself and get the 5S. If it’s too expensive, save up or wait next year for it to be cheaper.

To demo the A7, Apple showed Infinity Blade 3. I’ll wait for the A7X on the new iPad. 🙂

The A7 apparently has a motion co-processor called the M7, specifically to measure motion data. I sense more things to come with this M7, and also another way to make the A6 and older devices obsolete, a good excuse to stop supporting them. Yes, just a reminder again, do not buy the 5C.

The camera has f2.2 aperture now. Phil said larger sensor and bigger pixel. I don’t know, I think HTC and Nokia have something to say on that. The benefits will be in software, where Phil said the camera app have 15 focus points and will take multiple pictures and automatically select the best one. Also, the dual flash with a warmer flash aside the regular one. Digital image stabilization by selecting a sharper picture form the multiple ones the iPhone took. I don’t see this feature works good on any cameras/phones. Besides, we want optical image stabilization, and Nokia and HTC have delivered that. Burst mode. My HTC One can do that already, so nothing too exciting here and I bet most people won’t even know about it. 720p 120fps, resulting in HD slo-mo video, and the neat part is that you can select certain part of the scenes for the slo-mo. I’m intrigued as most of the time, high fps means much lower resolution. If Apple can put this on the next iPod Touch, I’m tempted as I don’t want to spend $$$ for the 5S just for this feature.

The fingerprint scanner rumor is true, called Touch ID, on the home button. Looks like Apple did integrate it into iOS7, thus improving its usefulness other than just a gimmick. You can use it for iTunes purchases. And of course, Jason Statham had another video just for it, I meant Jony Ive. With the recent “concerns” about privacy, Apple intentionally stated that that the fingerprint won’t be stored on Apple servers nor iCloud. We’ll see if Apple’s implementation is seamless, because if not, nobody will use it, like Android’s face unlock.

16GB at $199 with 2 year contract, $649 unsubsidized. No change than before, no 128GB model. Leather cases for $39, and a red one for $49. Yeah, Apple is not going cheap people. And surprise surprise, the 4S remains, neutered to 8GB for free with contract ($450 unsubsidized). Seriously, $450? Again, 16GB Nexus 4 is $249. Heck, even the 32GB LTE Nexus 7 is cheaper than that.

September 20th shipping, including on NTT docomo in Japan.

Apple is playing a video how people are using the iPhone 5C, as if they all can afford one… 🙄 Seriously, $249 Nexus 4, nuff said.

Oh, no more one more thing, but I do have one more thing. Apple is bragging how these new iPhones have the most LTE bands. Well, in reality, it will be even more segregated. If you think you can buy one iPhone 5C/5S and use LTE all over the world, think again. Apple’s own website shows at least four different models with different LTE carriers support on each. So yeah, no fun.

How’s my prediction? Well, I missed everything. 😀 The 4S remains while I thought Apple would ditch it. The prices are not cheaper, and Apple is not giving extra storage either. The iPhone 5 is discontinued. And no new iPads nor iPods. I guess we have to wait till October.

There you go. So, will you buy one? Are you happy/disappointed? Me, I’m waiting for the new Nexus instead. 😉

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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in apple, impression, iPhone, Keynote

 

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Apple September Event 2013 Prediction

It’s September again, and it’s time for new Apple stuff. In less than 24 hours, Apple is holding its September Media event. Although Tim Cook said he would double down on secrecy, plenty of rumors are around lately.

The first rumor is the iPhone 5C, a supposedly cheaper plastic iPhone. In the beginning, I thought it would be unlikely for Apple to go this route. Apple is known for higher margin products. Even if they would introduce a “cheaper” iPhone, it would be cheaper only by Apple’s standard. Right now Apple’s cheapest iPhone is the 3-year-old iPhone 4, 8GB for $450 unlocked. Not really “cheap” considering plenty of Android phones with more up-to-date hardware being sold less than that. And don’t forget the recently discounted, $250 16GB Nexus 4.

However, we are seeing more and more photos of it. From the colorful plastic backs, the plastic packaging it would come with, to fully assembled ones in their boxes, the manual, and videos of one being used. The rumor is that it would be the same hardware as the current iPhone 5 (ie. running the A6), but with the colorful plastic back instead of the more premium aluminum/glass back.

My previous prediction was that Apple was going to simply repackage the iPhone 4S into something using the lightning connector and 4″ taller screen, thus homogenizing the lineup. In other words, the 5th gen iPod Touch with a phone in it, and Apple would just call it the iPhone. However, the over abundance leaks of the colored iPhone 5C made me think that Apple is really going to do the iPhone 5C, using the same iPhone 5 internals in the cheaper plastic housing. The question remains, how much Apple is going to charge for it. Clearly it would go into the “free with contract” slot. My guess is it would be $399 for 16GB. Some rumors are saying that it would hit the $200 price point, especially with the recent price cut of the Nexus 4. I doubt it would be in the $200 price range. It makes no sense as Apple is selling the iPod Touch for more than that. Apple is not going to just jump into the bottom barrel. $399 might be expensive compared to the Nexus 4, but it is very cheap for Apple’s standard, especially considering the iPhone 5-level hardware, a year old, instead of having a 2-year-old hardware.

The next rumor that doesn’t have as much leaks is the iPhone 5S. The rumors are double LED flash and fingerprint sensor on its home button, while maintaining the same design and form as the current iPhone 5. It is also predicted that it would have an A7 processor. Other than those, not much else. I have doubts on the fingerprint sensor. I mean unless Apple can really pull a foolproof one and integrate it into a lot of things (app store, passbook, etc), it sounds too much of a gimmick.

And, that’s about it. So there will be the iPhone 5C at the low end, free with contract, $399 without. Then the current iPhone 5 will be at the current 4S’ price point, $99 with contract, $499 without. And then the iPhone 5S, $199 with contract, $599 without. I assume we will see a $50 price drop across the board for the unsubsidized pricing, just to make them round. 😀 As for capacity, It’s safe to assume the 5C and middle 5 will be 16GB. There are rumors that the 5S will have 128GB model, which makes some sense. If there’s not much “wow” factor, putting 32GB as the starting model will be a good attractor. Looking at the 32GB GPE HTC One price, it seems in line. So presumably the iPhone 5S will come in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.

So, to recap my prediction:

  • iPhone 5C, 16GB, in colors, free on contract, $399 unsubsidized.
  • iPhone 5, 16GB, $99 on contract, $499 unsubsidized.
  • iPhone 5S, 32GB starting at $199 on contract, $599 unsubsidized. Add $100 for double the storage up to 128GB.

That’s for the iPhone. Now the iPad. Not much rumors as it is predictable. The regular iPad will carry the design language of the iPad mini, making it slimmer and more compact. Everything else should be predictable too, A7X, and same price points as current lineup. The question is whether Apple would start at 32GB. Currently, Apple does have a 128GB iPad, but it’s $799 for the wifi only model. You can get a laptop for that price, and the LTE model is priced at $929, only a few bucks less than a Macbook Air! I can see Apple pushing the price down just to create a better gap. I do wish the LTE versions would be priced less.

What will happen to the iPad 2? The iPad 2 is in a weird position, being two models behind, yet it’s still on sale, with the iPad 3 being discontinued. It’s definitely on its way out as it still has the old dock connector. I’m going to guess the current iPad filling in that spot, 16GB wifi for $399. Now the regular iPads are all retina and have lightning connector.

The wild card is the iPad mini, and whether Apple can put a retina display on it. This was the big disappointment I had with the original iPad mini, which was basically a smaller iPad 2, carrying the same A5 processor and 1024×768 resolution screen. It has lower ppi than even the original Nexus 7. Now Google already released the new Nexus 7 with an even higher resolution screen, and Google just released the 32GB LTE model for $349. Although Apple still has the huge advantage of the iPad brand, it just won’t look great if the next iPad mini doesn’t have a retina display. There are arguments against it as the retina display will require more battery, and Apple does not usually make the newer product thicker than the older one. But I think Appe might be able to pull it off. I hope we will see a retina iPad mini with the A6X in it, starting at 16GB wifi at $299. The current iPad mini starts at $329, and I think it was intentional so Apple can then put the $299 price and spin it as a great price drop.

Another theory is, considering the retina screen yield, Apple might keep the current iPad mini (just like the iPad 2), drop its price to $249 or something, and then replace the next price up at $349 with the retina mini, thus keeping a good margin on the retina version. This might be a more likelihood scenario. Apple did this also with the iPod Touch.

So, my prediction on the iPad/iPad mini:

  • iPad 5: 32GB wifi, $499. Add $130 for LTE, and $100 for double the storage.
  • Current iPad 4: 16GB wifi, $399. Add $130 for LTE.
  • Current iPad mini, 16GB wifi, $249. Add $130 for LTE
  • Retina iPad mini, 32GB wifi, $349. Add $130 for LTE, and $100 for double the storage.

On September events, Apple usually announce new iPods too. There is literally zero rumors on the iPods as the hot stuff is the iPhone. I doubt Apple would do anything either. They are pretty much the only player left in the portable music player market. All I can see is a price drop on the no-camera iPod Touch to $199, thus Apple spinning it as the most affordable iOS device ever. And maybe also a $50 price drop on the 32GB and 64GB model, allowing a greater distinction in price with the iPhone 5C. On the other hand, if Apple could make the iPhone 5C, maybe they would put the A6 into the new iPod Touch, thus justifying the price as it has the same internals as the iPhone.

My prediction on iPods:

  • Current camera-less 16GB iPod Touch: $199.
  • New iPod Touch with A6 and better camera, starting at 32GB at $299, and 64GB at $399.
  • All other iPods remain the same, and the iPod Classic remains.

Of course, we will see more regurgitation about iOS7, how it is the greatest thing since the original iPhone OS, again. 😀 Apple TV? The rumor is just a software update. I mean what else do people expect from an Apple TV? It can already play 1080p video. We probably won’t see a real update until we have 4K videos. And the recent PS Vita TV by Sony? Well, Apple already have Airplay mirroring so iOS games can already be played on the big screen.

Due to the rumors, seems like it won’t be an exciting event. I hope Apple has something under their sleeve, Tim Cook’s double down on secrecy.

We’ll find out in less than 24 hours. I’ll be following Engadget’s live blogging of the event.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in apple, Keynote

 

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Apple September 12th Event Overview

The September 12th Apple event keynote video is available on Apple’s website and via iTunes.

Alright, time to put in my 2 cents on the recent September 12th Apple event. The keynote had the usual pattern, with Tim Cook starting off with stats. The interesting part is, Phil Schiller immediately started with the announcement of the iPhone 5. Usually, Apple kept the best for last, eg. they would announce iOS, new iTunes, etc, and then do the finale with the star product. It’s really interesting, as if the iPhone 5 was not really as revolutionary as Apple wanted it to. Regardless, the crowds loved it. Oh, and Al Gore was in the audience too.

So, let’s get right to it. Everything about the iPhone 5 were pretty much known already from the various leaks and rumors. It’s exactly what the leaked photos showed. The surprise was the insides. I predicted that it would have the A5X chip, as that was the chip used in the “new” iPad. Well, Apple took a leapfrog and actually used a new chip, the A6. This is the first time Apple used a newer chip on the iPhone first before the iPad. The A4 started with the 1st gen iPad before going to the iPhone 4. Same thing with the A5, started with the iPad 2 before going to the iPhone 4S. iPhone 5 with Apple’s custom A6 is actually a big surprise. Apple advertised it as twice as fast as the A5.

Other than that, everything else is as expected. 4″ retina screen. Being a master in marketing, Apple said the 4″ elongated screen is “designed” for 1 hand operation. They do have a point, as many of the larger Android devices are not that easy to handle with 1 hand. Another thing is the camera. Nokia one-upped Apple on this one with the optical image stabilization of the Lumia 920. Imo optical stabilization is huge and a step forward for camera on mobile phones. Apple on the other hand was bragging about the sapphire crystal lens cover they used on the iPhone 5, supposedly made the lens to be scratch resistant. Whoop dee doo. No sapphire crystals can save your pictures when they’re blurry from shakes. New feature is panorama. Well, my Galaxy Nexus and Xperia Arc can do that already. We’ll see how good the software Apple has to handle blurriness and stitching.

Also as expected, Apple added LTE on the iPhone 5. Alas, this created a confusion on the different versions of the iPhone 5, unlike the iPhone 4S. With the iPhone 4S, there’s only one version where CDMA and GSM are combined. With LTE, there are at least 3 versions of the iPhone 5 per Apple’s own website. There’s AT&T/Canada version, Verizon/KDDI version (that includes CDMA), and everybody-else’s version. Even worse, seems like international LTE compatibility is limited if you bought the carrier-specific version. I’m going to assume the 3rd version is the unlocked version, thus not allowing you to have LTE with either AT&T nor Verizon. US wireless mafia at their finest, and Apple just kow-towing to them again.

Another marketing point that Apple pointed out is how lighter the iPhone 5 is compared to the “heavier” iPhone 4S. Without cases, my iPhone 4 is fairly light already. The tech bloggers are saying the iPhone 5 is significantly lighter. Another new feature, wideband audio, something that no US carriers would support. Yup, lovely US wireless mafia are only interested in charging you more money than actually improving their services, like oh, I don’t know, phone call audio quality.

Then there’s the smaller dock connector called lightning. Yup, re-buy all your accessories people, unless you want to give Apple $30 for a single ugly adapter. Not liking this. But at least it supports 5GHz wifi n now.

I’m going to skip the iOS6 stuff as most already know this during WWDC.

Price is the same, $199 for 16GB iPhone 5 under 2-yr contract. $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. Considering now that Apple is selling the unlocked 16GB 4S for $549, this tells me unlocked prices are not changed. Boo. Galaxy Nexus 16GB unlocked is just $349. I’m guessing the price of the iPhone 5 goes for the sapphire crystal… /s
Oh, and even more bullshit, US won’t get the unlocked version right away, while other countries will. Complete bullshit. Another proof that Apple has no more backbone, kow-towing to the US wireless mafia. I mean really, what company willing to delay selling their stuff to the customers in its own country? Mind boggling. Alas, it’s the same with Google. The unlocked Galaxy Nexus wasn’t available until much later after the Verizon version. BOOO!

iPhone 5, the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone… HUH? Yup, that’s Apple’s marketing tag line for the iPhone 5. It kinda makes sense, but it sounds silly.

Okay, the next part of the keynote was iTunes and new iPods. This actually seems to be the main focus of the event. New version of iTunes coming in October. Apple can claim whatever they want on how they revolutionize the music industry, but all I know is I still cannot have the same selections in iTunes US as iTunes Japan.

New iPod nano, 7th gen. Looks like a mini Lumia with a home button. Unlike the rumors, it doesn’t have wifi, only bluetooth. 2.5″ screen with multi-touch. Video playback is back. No, it’s not iOS, which is silly. Seems like a no brainer at this point to shove iOS into the nano. At least it comes in multiple colors. 16GB for $149. Since Apple has literally no competition in this market, I guess they can do whatever they want. Oh, of course it has the new lightning connector. The tag line? Completely renanoed. Huh?

The biggest thing in this event imo is the new iPod Touch. Last year, the iPod Touch didn’t get any updates at all, only a white color. Now Apple updated it to the A5. Yup, the A5, not the A5X nor the A6, which imo is silly as Apple is trying to market this as their portable gaming player. The good things are, it has the same 4″ screen (and yup, now it has oleophobic coating too!), and anodized aluminum back (HUGE yay! No more scratch-tastic back). Another huge update is the camera, where the iPod Touch finally has a real camera. 5MP iSight camera (presumably the iPhone 4’s sensor with the sapphire crystal lens cover). The Facetime camera is 720p now, matching the iPhone 5. Same thing with support for 5GHz wifi n.

Oh, and it has Siri. Wait, Siri for the iPod Touch, but not my iPad 2? WTF Apple?
At least the new iPod Touch now finally comes in colors. $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. The old is still being sold, 16GB (first time) for $199 and 32GB for $249. Expensive? Well, again, Apple has virtually no competition here. The tagline for the new Touch? Engineered for maximum funness. Who made these taglines?

Oh, iPod Touch loop… Apple’s wrist strap for the iPod Touch. Can’t wait for cute straps being made by 3rd parties.

Why did I say that the new iPod Touch is big? Well, not only Apple is targeting this as a portable gaming player, now Apple is targeting this towards point-n-shoot cameras with the proper camera. The wrist strap should be a clue. You wouldn’t believe how many people, mostly teens, using the older iPod Touch as a camera, despite the crap-tastic excuse of a camera. This is Apple’s target.

Lastly, new earbuds, called ear pods. Only Apple can make a documentary video about earbuds, starring Jony Ive. Doesn’t look comfortable for some reason. Included with everything introduced at the event (iPhone 5, new nano, and new iPod Touch). Apple claimed it sounds as good as other earbuds costing hundreds of dollars. I’ll stick with the in-ear.

Oh, the old shuffle is still there, 2GB for $49, no change. The iPod classic still hangs around too, refusing to die. Oh, and no iPad mini.
How was my prediction? I nailed the shuffle, missed the iOS on the nano, nailed most of the price points (except no 8GB nano, and the older Touch on the $199 price point).

So, not as grand as some of previous Apple keynotes, mostly because we saw the iPhone 5 already from the leaks. The new iPods are okay, but Apple could’ve done better, pushing things further. But I guess since there’s no competition, trickling updates is the way to go.

Having plenty of iDevices already, I don’t know if I’m going to get any. The iPhone 5 pricing irks me, especially with US carriers charging an arm and a leg just to have basic smartphone service. The new iPod Touch is interesting, but I don’t see a point if I have an iPhone. I barely use any of my iPods. For apps and games, I rather use my iPad. An iPad mini would interest me more.

As a closing note, I wish Apple can grow back their backbone. Tell the carriers to shut it. Offer unlocked iPhones right off the gate with competitive prices. I mean come on, it’s obvious the US carriers are stifling innovation from the get go, from MMS, tethering, Facetime via wireless, and now LTE, by making the service so expensive and draconian bandwidth caps. Apple, Google, Microsoft, wake up. Your cloud strategy on mobile are fruitless with carriers stifling everything you do. I wish Apple, Google, and Microsoft would work together against the wireless mafia instead of bickering with each other.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in apple, Keynote

 

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September 12th Apple Keynote Prediction

Well, the day is getting near, and the rumors from the so-called “analysts” are endless. Time to pitch in mine.

1. New iPhone. Currently, the rummor is that it’s going to be a 4″ iPhone. Before, I was hesitant to assume that as the form factor of the current iPhone 4/4S is perfect imo. However, the increasingly leaks of spy shots on the new form factor kinda makes it a given. Despite the plethora of pictures of the parts, not many rumors about what’s inside. Some assumed it’s going to be the A5X, the chip used on the “new” iPad. Some said it’s going to be a new A6. Who knows. The A5X seems too big for the old form factor, but with the enlarged size, it’s possible. So, my prediction for the new iPhone is that, as rumored, it will be 4″ with the new dock connector, it will have the A5X in it, and it will carry the same price points as the current 4S (eg. 16GB for $199 subsidized up to $399 for 64GB). LTE is also a given, although who knows how it would work with the unlocked version.

The dock connector change is huge though. It will break all existing rich accessories ecosystem, although Apple will gladly sell you an adapter or two. Now, what if Apple approached this ala the Macbook Pro and “new” Macbook Pro with retina display, ie. releasing an iPhone with the updated internals but with the older dock-connector. Unlikely, but don’t want to re-buy all my existing accessories. I do hope Apple cut the unlocked pricing a bit. Currently, the 16GB iPhone 4S is $649. This may sound cool when unlocked iPhones are selling for thousands of dollars, but not anymore when the Galaxy Nexus is $349 unlocked. Apple need to really cut that price down. Even the old 3GS is sold at $375, more expensive than the more advance Galaxy Nexus. Although I think Apple will keep the unlocked pricing structure the same, because they can, I wish they at least bring the 16GB 4S to match the $349 Galaxy Nexus. One can only hope.

Oh, and Apple will call it the “new” iPhone. No iPhone 5 nor 6. Apple could’ve paired it with the iOS version, but they skipped 5 and named it 4S instead. So it will be just a “new” iPhone. Just like Macbooks and iMacs, there will be simply a top of the line iPhone (the latest one), and lesser speced cheaper ones (eg. the 4/4S).

I also have a concern with the new nano SIM. It’s hard enough having to jugle the micro SIM with phones using regular SIM using adapters. Now the even smaller nano SIM is going to make things even more annoying, as Apple will be the only one using it (Nokia just started using micro SIM for their Windows Phone phones, while other companies are still using regular SIM).

2. iOS 6. Kinda obvious. The removal of Google maps will be the big thing, and also adding turn-by-turn navigation. The only thing I’m disappointed is how many of these features won’t make it for the iPhone 4. Other than that, we already know what will be in iOS 6, so I doubt there will be any surprises. Maybe some extra stuff due to the larger screen of the new iPhone.

3. iPods. The iPod lineup didn’t get any updates at all last year. It’s a dying market with Apple standing on top. Not sure what Apple would do, but so far the rumors are new lineup across the board and the final axe for the iPod Classic.
-iPod Shuffle: What else can you do with this? Apple tried to go buttonless, but people didn’t like that. So the current Shuffle is as simple as one can get. Maybe just more colors. Same price point, $49.
-iPod nano: the rumor is that Apple will make a wifi iPod nano to connect to the iTunes store. Make sense as it allows people to buy more stuff from Apple. The current nano is already too restricted to be improved upon, so to me, the new “nano” will be actually a smaller iPod Touch. Apple will still market it as the iPod nano, but it will be an iOS device. I mean why do things half-heartedly? Might as well stick the full iOS in it. It will probably have either an A4 or the A3 (iPhone 3GS internal) in it to keep cost down. Screen will the the old lower-res LCD 3GS’ screen (non-retina). This might also explain why Apple is still supporting the 3GS for iOS 6. It might be old inside, but Apple will make it attractive outside by making it in colors. 8GB and 16GB at $99 and $149. Cheapest entry to the app store!
-iPod Touch: With the nano taking over most of the draws of the iPod Touch, the new iPod Touch will be larger (presumably following the new iPhone size) to compete further as a portable gaming device. Besides, the current Touch is so thin that it’s impossible to put something like the A5X in it. The new larger 4″ iPod Touch will carry the A5X, the iPad 3/iPhone 4 camera, and priced at $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. This also begs Apple to drop the price of the unlocked iPhones. I mean come on, why is a 16GB “new” iPad with LTE is cheaper than a 16GB iPhone 4S?

The wild card is the iPad mini. The popularity of the Nexus 7 and Kindle fire HD show that people want a smaller tablet. The iPad has ruled the standard sized tablet market, but Apple has nothing for this segment, having only an outdated iPod Touch. Pricing will be tough as the Nexus 7 and newly announced Kindle fire HD pushed that envelope further down at $199. Currently, for $199, you can only get a small-screen old 8GB iPod Touch. Definitely not an iPad experience. However, if Apple was to make an iPad mini, this pricing points will overlap too much with the iPod Touch and iPad. If Apple made an iPad mini, I don’t think Apple would go for the $199 price point. It would be probably at least $249 or $299 for the lowest end, as a bridge between the iPod Touch and iPad. I would guess $299 for 16GB, $399 for 32GB. Cheapest entry for an iPad experience! I do think Apple need to give some incentive to buyers, so I think Apple would make a 4G versions for the iPad mini. Note that for now, the Nexus 7 and 7″ Kindle fire HD are wifi only, so having 4G will be an advantage (and justify a higher price). So maybe $399 for 16GB + 4G and $499 for 32GB + 4G, matching up nicely with the starting price for the regular iPad. Internals will be the same as the “new” iPad (retina-res screen, etc).

I don’t know if Apple would do all of these in one announcement though. It sure will take a lot of attention away from the competitors and keep the news and tech bloggers busy for a while to cash in on the SEO. However, something like the iPad mini will be a huge announcement, so maybe Apple will do an October event (and maybe with an updated “new” iPad having the new dock connector), coupling this with maybe some announcements for the Apple TV or iTunes services. Or maybe this will be done together with the new iMacs.

In any case, September has been a very exciting month, starting with Nokia’s announcement of their new Lumia 920 phone with Windows Phone 8, then Motorola with their new RAZR Android phones lineup, then the bombastic Amazon announcement with their new Kindle and Kindle fire HD lineups. Of course, Apple will top them all as usual, and sell a bajilion more iDevices. For me personally, I find my current iPhone 4 to be satisfactory. If Apple still put ridiculous prices for the unlocked iPhones, I might just snap the iPod Touch instead, or a 4G iPad mini (if it existed). Although I love my iPhone and can’t live without it, sometimes I miss the usage of a basic phone. However, I don’t want to go back having to carry multiple devices again.

Well, there you go, my predictions for Apple’s September 12th event. Now if only I got paid like those analysts.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2012 in apple, event, Keynote

 

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Apple 2010 September Music Event

So, yeah, something happened yesterday. Apple did their annual September music event to release new iPods. The keynote was available live, streaming for SL and iOS users. Yeah, Snow Leopard. I had to use my iPad to watch it. 🙄

Anyway, I’m just going through the keynote chronologically.

1. Updates on retail stores. Blah blah blah, nice stores. Update on iOS, blah blah, revolution, blah, blah, Google you suck, blah, blah, apps. Next.

2. iOS updates. Take home note is that 4.1 is coming next week with bug-fixes, and will feature HDR photo taking capabilities. I hope this feature will be available for the 3GS too, as we 3GS users have been gimped from iMovie already. New to 4.1 is Game Center, and Epic is showing their new game, powered by Unreal Engine 3, running on an iPhone. Pretty amazing, considering it’s running on a phone. Nintendo and Sony, be very wary. Hardware on mobile phones are advancing much more rapidly than the hardware on Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. iPad users will have to wait longer for iOS 4.2, coming in November, and it will feature wireless printing and AirPlay (AirTunes part deux), in addition to all iOS4 features.

Jobs demoed 4.2 on his iPad, showing the same old stuff such as “multi-tasking” (I rather call it task switching), threaded mail, folders, etc. One thin I notice in the 4.2 Safari browser on Job’s iPad, the “multiple tab” button seems to show a number now (can be handy to show you how many tabs are opened), and the “plus” icon is now an arrow “send to” icon.

3. Finally, the new iPods. Apple decided to renew all the iPod lineup (except the classic).
-First, the shuffle. The main complaint of the 3G shuffle is the fact that it has no buttons. Well, 4G shuffle brings back the buttons. So it looks like the 2G again, except that it’s square. Meh. At least Apple recognize that going obsessively minimalist doesn’t always work. It has all the voice over features from the 3G. 5 colors, 2GB, $50.

-Second: the nano. All the rumors were true. The 6G nano is square, has a clip, and uses a touch screen. It’s so small that it’s only a tad bigger than the shuffle. Sounds cool, right? Well, Jobs kept saying how it’s better, but he obviously skipped the features that are gone from the previous nanos. First, it’s a smaller and lower res screen than even the 3G nano. The video camera is obviously gone. Oh, and guess what, no video playback. Yeah, talk about going backwards. Also based on the demo screens, looks like the playback feature will mimic iOS, meaning no shuffle-by-album. The kicker? It still carry the same price as the previous nano: $150 for 8GB and $180 for 16GB. So, do you want to pay the same price and get less? Apple thinks so. We’ll see how the market responds. Pretty disappointing imo, and not even as much color options as the 4G/5G nano.

-Third: the Touch. Freakishly thin. It has the high res “retina” LED display, although Jobs conveniently didn’t say whether it’s the same IPS display as the iPhone 4 or not. My guess is that it’s not, and it won’t have oleophobic coating either. Looks like Apple really wants to make sure that the iPhone holds its value over the Touch. The new Touch will sport the A4 chip, although whether it runs as fast (or faster) than the iPhone 4 is not yet known. Gyroscope is included, and also a front facing camera for facetime. Rear camera is also added with HD (720p) video recording. The rumors are pretty much spot on. The pricing is a bit odd, with 8GB for $230, and jumps to 32GB for $300, and 64GB for $400. I guess Apple want to keep their good margin, not willing to reach the $199 price point, nor do a 16GB version.

Funny how Jobs demoed the nano, but not the new Touch. Also funny that Jobs went through the new iPods fairly quick, only halfway through the whole keynote. So what’s next?

4. iTunes. New iTunes 10, new icon, slightly updated UI, and Ping. Yeah, Microsoft has bing, and Apple now has Ping. It’s social networking inside iTunes. Errr, sure, that’s assuming that your friends are also using iTunes. Nobody I know uses or buy music from iTunes. They use bittorrent. 😛 At best, Ping is probably just going to be a niche amongst hip Apple/iTunes users.

5. One more thing/hobby, a 2nd gen Apple TV. Super tiny, just HDMI and optical out (no component), ethernet, wifi. No purchases, just rentals. Err, yeah, not sure if that’s what people actually want (hint: bittorrent). HD movies is $5. Sure, it’s HD, but Red Box DVD rental is just $1 per day (bittorrent is free). At least the new Apple TV supports Netflix streaming, so Netflix users don’t have to spend more money. TV shows rental is 99c. Err, sure, they’re cheap enough, but I already have Netflix, and spending more money just doesn’t jive with me (again, bittorrent is free). You can stream content from Youtube (interesting since Google is doing Google TV), Flickr (alas, no Picasa, Facebook, or other online photo storage support), and mobileME. You can still stream from a Mac/PC running iTunes. No Apple, I want to be able to stream my own videos form a simple NAS/Windows Home Server. 😦 In addition, there’s still also the codec support issue. I’ll stick with my HTPC running XBMC.

The new Apple TV is going to be just $99, shipping in a month. So, who’s Apple competing with this new Apple TV? The obvious one is Roku, a netflix client at a similar price point. The upcoming contenders are Google TV boxes and boxee box. Add on top of this, a lot of devices and even TVs today have a netflix client built-in already, and some also offer youtube/Amazon video capability. It seems that the market feels too crowded for the wrong reasons.

…and that’s it. The keynote re-run cut off the Cold Play music.

So, what’s my take on the new iPods? How was my prediction?
1. iPod shuffle
Well, I only got the price right, 2GB for $50. Apple usually is pretty strong headed in terms of the design choice they did (button-less shuffle), so I wasn’t expecting they would go back to the 2G design. But I guess consumers win this time.

2. iPod nano
I did better this time, due to the leaked cases pictures. New form factor, touch screen, no camera, and same price points. One should question the value of the new nano. Sure, it’s smaller, but you’re basically paying the same amount of money for less (no camera, smaller screen, no video, presumably no shuffle-by-album). Also, the competitors are way cheaper than Apple now. Just for example, Sony’s entry level E-series MP3 player can be had for less than $100, and you’ll get 16GB! Previously, Apple has a reason to retain the higher price point with the video camera. I don’t know if the consumers are willing to shell out twice the money just to get something smaller (with less features to boot). Imo the only reason Apple could do this is simply because they owned the MP3 player market. iPod as a name has become the Kleenex of MP3 player. This also shows that a standalone MP3 player as a device is a dead end. There’s almost nothing else to innovate (to the point that Apple added a camera on last gen nano). Now the only way to go is backward, I guess. Disappointing. However, it is still tempting to get one just for the cute/collectible factor. I mean I have bought pretty much all generations of iPod nanos (all of them, 1G to 5G). I mean gotta catch ’em all, right? 😀

3. iPod Touch.
Most of my guesses hit the mark: retina display, facetime, front face and rear camera. I just didn’t expect Apple to completely replace the lower end with an 8GB version of the same generation (instead of using the 3rd gen Touch). The surprise is HD video recording. Sounds awesome right? You gotta wonder though, that new Touch is even thinner. How the heck Apple did it, considering that even the 3GS camera is too thick for the 2G/3G Touch. Well, looking at the spec, you’ll see the ugly side. Yeah, the new Touch can record 720p video, but it’s obviously a cheapo crappy sensor, as its picture taking ability is only 960×720 resolution. That is not even 1MP. I mean come one, find a dumbphone/cheap digicam that still do less than 1MP picture. Extremely pathetic. This is yet another Apple’s obsession with thinness, sacrificing feature. I rather have a thicker Touch with the 3GS camera in it. I guess Apple just want to make sure they have more stuff to roll out for September 2011. Still, it’s a good buy, especially 32GB for $300. Plus you can do facetime, and it’s iOS. There’s virtually no competition here, yet. Heck, Sony is still selling their 16GB X series for $300. The only contender is the ZuneHD, which is due for an upgrade too. Rumor is MS is going to do a Winpho7 Zune HD without the phone, but the bar is already set fairly high, with the Touch having Facetime, HD video recording, and retina display.

Oh, how about the iPod Classic? Jobs didn’t even mention it at all, but it’s still alive, 160GB, same price $250. Yeah, Apple is the only player in town here, so they see it they they don’t need to do anything.

In the end, the MP3 player is dying. Everybody is using their cellphones as their MP3 players. We already see this as Apple is now very confused on what to do with the nano. Heck, ever since I have an iPhone, I hardly use any of my iPods anymore. The only surviving market will be the low end cheapo MP3 player, and the “PDA” replacement like the iPod Touch, where it’s turning into a mini computer at the $200+ price points, where people is expecting more than just an MP3 player.

How about the Apple TV? Well, my kind of content is J-dorama and Tokusatsu, with Anime sprinkled all around. No content providers in the US, including Apple, offer those, so my only source is fansubs. The most common codecs use in fansubs are Xvid + .avi, or H.264 + .mkv. Neither of those are supported by Apple TV (or any Apple iDevices). So far my solution is a plain Windows HTPC with XBMC. The new Apple TV would be an interesting Netflix client though, and for people that like to rent movies. As for the 99c TV shows, well, it can be pretty expensive if you like watching TV shows. Paying $10 per month for hulu plus may be a better deal, unless you hate ads. Apple TV could’ve been more. Apple could’ve been more aggressive (apps). But I guess they have to play nice with the studios and network providers. Oh well, I’m not interested in it anyway unless Apple added more stuff later on. It seems nice to be able to stream videos from my iPad/iPhone to the Apple TV.

So there you go, my impression/rant of Apple’s 2010 September event. Will I get any of those new iPods. Well, the new nano is interesting for collecting sake. The new Touch is interesting also, as I cannot have iMovie on my 3GS. But I dunno. I rather save my money for a Canon S95. My guess is the big seller will be the new Touch as it finally has camera. People had been lusting over a camera, and the 3rd gen Touch disappointed. Now those people will get this new Touch. Also, there are people that don’t or cannot get an iPhone, so the iPod Touch is the obvious gateway for the app store. To be honest, I don’t think the shuffle and nano will sell much, especially at those prices.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2010 in apple, event, impression, ipod, september

 

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Apple iPod rumor

So, here we go again. September, and various tech blogs posting Apple’s invitation and various rumors. I’ll chime in with my own 2 cents.
The biggest rumor is a new Apple TV, dubbed iTV, which is rumored to be an iOS powered set-top box for $99. I don’t know. Sure, with Google TV, Apple probably feel they need to pay more attention to the Apple TV. Thing is, Apple’s invitation shows a guitar. A new iTV imo would be very significant to warrant a focus on itself, and a guitar kinda tells me the focus in tomorrow’s event will be music/iPods. Apple has a tendency to hold smaller events at a more frequent basis nowadays, so we could still see iTV next month or something.

Now let’s get to the focus of music.

1. iTunes
The rumors are saying iTunes X (iTunes 10) with longer music samples (up to 1 minutes from 30 seconds). Another rumors would be 99cents TV-show rental. I don’t know. I don’t think any of those would be significant. What people would want by now is ability to stream their music collection from the cloud. What I want is wifi syncing for iPad.

2. iPod shuffle
I don’t think anything will change. You can’t really do anything more to a button-less piece of metal. Currently, Apple is selling the 2GB for $60, 4GB for $80, and special 4GB edition for $100. I don’t think this can get any cheaper, although a $50 price point would be possible. I do think we will see new colors like the nano, just like the trend on previous shuffle. My guesses (along with new colors):
-Price drop across the board: 2GB for $50, 4GB for $70.
-2GB gone, replaced by 4GB for $60, leaving a better gap for the iPod nano price points.
I’m going with the first guess. Funny thing is, usually you can kinda make an educated guess based on the pricing of the refurbished iPods. However, I don’t see the shuffle being available refurbished.

3. iPod nano
The big rumor is a re-design tot a smaller square shape with maybe a clip ala the shuffle on the back, based on pictures of cases. Apple had put the nano in a weird spot by putting a video camera in it last year. It would be odd, although not impossible, for Apple to regress and take out a big feature. Then again, the guitar picture on the invitation mean a focus on music, and Apple’s smart marketing can spin things be saying that they are focusing on music. So, in addition to the form factor change, a bigger rumor would be that the face of the new nano would be touch-screen, something that I had thought about last year. If this is the case, then Apple would have to re-invent the software, unless they can squeeze down iOS, eliminating everything other than the iPod functions.
Some people argued that Apple wouldn’t change the nano’s form factor that radically. Well, remember the iPod mini? Apple replaced that with the nano just after 2 iterations. If you look at the nano history, we are at that 2-year point with the current design (4G and 5G). The only question is the camera, as at that smaller size, something got to go. Or, Apple could simply have another lineup. In any case, the pictures of the new form factor case are too significant to ignore. I think Apple would ditch the camera (remember, there’s still the iPod Touch), spinning it as re-focusing the nano for music.

So, my guess is that the new iPod nano will have the new form factor, touch screen, with a new UI with the menus revolving ala coverflow. I just hope Apple is not skimping the software (like shuffle by album, which is still ironically missing in iOS). Price wise, it depends on how aggressive Apple want to be. They could just keep the same price points ($150 for 8GB, and $180 for 16GB), or something more aggressive like $100 for 8GB and $150 for 16GB (justifying the loss of the camera, while leaving a better breather room for iPod Touch pricing).

4. Lastly, the iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch is becoming the most important iPod for Apple, as it’s the gateway to the profitable app store. With the last year’s Touch not getting anything worthwhile (other than the upgraded internals), I think this year’s Touch will be receive a significant update. iOS 4 will be the first obvious feature, complete with a rehash of folders and multi-tasking. Another obvious feature would be a front-facing camera for Facetime. Apple already stated during the iPhone 4 announcement that there will be tons of Facetime devices by the end of 2010. The feature being added to the Touch is pretty clear.

So, what else. The form factor doesn’t seem to change much based on the leaked case pictures, definitely not the iPhone 4 design, Those pictures also show a hole on the back, probably for a back-facing camera, although I don’t think it will the the same camera as the iPhone 4. I’m guessing it’s going to be the 3GS’ camera, 3MP and VGA video recording, thus giving a better excuse to take out the camera from the nano. I do hope for iMovie to be compatible with this iPod Touch as it’s likely it will have the same A4 chip and RAM as the iPhone 4. I mean this could be a true flip competitor, having a video camera with editing and uploading capability on the device itself (if Apple can put the 720p camera in the Touch, then yeah, the flip is dead).

As for the screen, I’m guessing the new Touch will also get the retina upgrade. However, I don’t think it will be cheap, thus Apple will still keep the 3G Touch for the lower price point, just like their strategy with the iPhone.
So, my prediction:
We will see the 4G Touch sporting front facing camera + Facetime, back facing camera (3GS style), iOS 4, A4 chip, and retina display, and keeping the same price points. $300 for 32GB, $400 for 64GB. The body material, however, will not be as sleek as the iPhone 4, probably to keep the cost down. I mean $300 for the retina display sounds too good to be true. The current 3G Touch will sport 16GB and hold the $199 price point, still being touted as a gaming device.

5. The iPod Classic.
Ah, yeah, the iPod Classic. The iPod that is now at an extremely odd place. It didn’t receive anything other than capacity upgrade last year. Unless Toshiba managed to make a higher capacity hard-drive at the same form factor, the 160GB capacity is kinda maxed out. Thing is, there is virtually no competition anymore in this space. MS gave up on their hard-drive based Zune. Apple is the only player in town. They could just keep it the way it is. Or maybe just a price drop, $200 for the same 160GB. Or, they could scarp the iPod classic altogether as the money making machine is the app store. I’m going to go with a simple price drop, $199 for 160GB.
I do wish for Apple to transition the Classic to flash memory, with the same form factor but unibody aluminum case. But obviously the flash memory price is the problem.

There you go, my predictions for tomorrow’s Apple event. The best part is, apparently Apple is going to do a livestream of the event, something that they have not done for a long time. I will also be following Engadget’s and gdgt’s live blogging.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in apple, event, Keynote, september

 

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