iTunes Overtakes RealPlayer Among Streaming Media Users · Jan 31, 06:09 AM

A new report from Websiteoptimization.com mentions how iTunes surpassed RealPlayer for the number of unique visitors during the middle of 2007. We file this under “Why Did It Take This Long”. With iPods being installed on so many PCs, iTunes is available to just as many users. Although it is nice that iTunes streaming media has growth, you can see from the numbers that stand alone streaming media player growth overall is fairly flat. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the real streaming growth is on the web, and Flash is still king in that arena. We hate to kick Real Networks while they’re down and their stock can be bought for less than some of the items at Starbucks, but we have to wonder how they plan on staying relevant in the future.

— Joe Fahs

The iPhone or: How I Learned to Stop Listening to Pundits and Love Steve Jobs · Jan 25, 06:23 AM

During Steve Jobs’ keynote, we had some questions about Apple’s iPhone numbers. After all, saying Apple sells 20,000 iPhones a day is stretching the truth a little — a large portion of those were sold during the first week. Still, from the amount of iPhones we see every day, there is no reason to believe that Apple is missing its sales targets… or is there?

Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research is trying to figure out what happened to 1.4 million iPhones. That number comes from the discrepancy between the number of iPhones Apple has said it sold and the number of iPhone activations AT&T claimed for the quarter. Toni Sacc (writing Sacconaghi multiple times is going to get annoying and I miss the Sopranos) estimates that even if 20% of iPhones were purchased to be unlocked, that still leaves almost 700,000 uncounted for.

So, are the analysts on to something, or is this another case of Apple trying to kick people when they are down? Toni Sacc says that 20% of iPhones going to people SIM unlocking their iPhones is a “generous” number because the iPhone 1.1.3 jailbreak has been out only a few days. But anybody who follows the iPhone knows people have been trying to hack it since the first day. And in AT&T’s Q3 conference call the company estimated at least 15% of iPhones were being sold to be unlocked. Back in those days, hacking the iPhone was a much more dedicated affair, and the device was still new.

The process to unlock the iPhone is much easier these days, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage of people buying one to unlock it has gone up significantly in the last three months. The percentage of people unlocking iPhones would have to hover around 30%, but we know there is a a huge black market in China as well as Singapore, India and a lot of other places. And, even though the iPhone has been officially blessed in several places in Europe, the exchange rate still benefits people who buy them here in the United States. All of those numbers add on to the “unofficial” sales numbers.

It is possible that Apple has a huge warehouse somewhere with a million iPhones, or they were counting units shipped to stores, but not yet sold (a method the video game console manufacturers like). We surely wouldn’t be surprised to see another iPhone price drop before the end of the year; some say a price cut is imminent. I am not going to buy into this conspiracy just yet, but I’ll definitely keep listening to what Tony Sacc has to say, and maybe that is what he really wanted in the first place.

— Joe Fahs

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Business Week, Others Confirm MacEdition's Armchair Financial Analysis · Jan 23, 06:25 AM

Yesterday, we told you it would be silly to get your panties in a bunch over Apple’s financials. Unfortunately, a lot of investors failed to heed our advice and Apple continued its free fall in after hours trading after the Fiscal Year 2008 First Quarter conference call results. It now seems like it is en vogue to dump on Apple for the slightly less than rosy outlook they gave for Q2, but some people out there are seeing through the madness. BusinessWeek wonders if if investors are being unfair to Apple and many analysts still list AAPL as a “buy”.

While the “herky jerky” types are going to be upset that iPod growth isn’t in line with expectations, one analyst sums things up perfectly: “I think this is an outrageous buying opportunity. It’s not a cheap stock, but you’re getting a company that can grow at 25% a year for who knows how many years, at 25 times earnings. To me, that’s a steal—recession or no recession.“.

— Joe Fahs

Steve Jobs: "Not a Petting Zoo" · Jan 22, 06:07 AM

Steve Jobs’ keynote from MacWorld 2008 is only a week old, and while most of the world goes on about its business, those of us who live in the cult of Mac as well as the media that likes to follow, are still waiting for the next big thing after a MacWorld that only rated a “meh” on revolutionary scale.

Meanwhile, Jobs knows that criticism can come from every corner. Bloggers around the net came down on him after he brushed off San Francisco sex columnist Violet Blue and even though Macs are selling well and iPhones and iPods seem to be hitting their targets, investors are saying the first quarter results conference call could be make or break for AAPL stock.

We can understand why some people may be upset with the Violet Blue incident. I helped keep his company alive by buying Performas and dealing with things like System 7.5.2, so even though it was somebody else responsible for those messes, I would like to think it warrants at least a picture. I am not sure how long Violet Blue has been a fan of Macs, but maybe next time she should offer something to Steve Jobs first. As Forbes columnist Brian Caulfield says, “Steve Jobs is not a petting zoo.” Performa guilt might not be worth a photo opportunity, but perhaps a signed copy of The Adventurous Couples Guide to Sex Toys is worthy of a little more consideration.

As for AAPL itself, it may be getting hammered harder than the other Violet Blue, but if people haven’t noticed, the market as a whole has been taking it on the chin for a little while now. AAPL may be 20% off it’s all time high, but as the market prepares for a correction, recession, etc, Apple appears to be in a good position for continued profits, so we’ll wait to get our panties in a bunch for a little while longer.

— Joe Fahs

Mac OS X Server Virtualization Coming to a Computer Near You! · Jan 18, 07:09 AM

One of the big advantages of Apple’s move to Intel Processors for Macs is the availability of virtualization solutions allowing users to run multiple operating systems on the same computer. Granted, we have been doing this for a long time with products like Virtual PC, but the switch to Intel meant that operating systems could run without emulation, allowing software to run at near native speeds.

Microsoft has decided not to do much with Virtual PC for Mac, but both VMware and Parallels have done well with the desktop versions of their software. At this week’s MacWorld, both companies announced that their products would now operate with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server.

To many, this is business as usual, but it does represent the first time Apple has changed its license to allow OS X to run in a virtual machine. Previously, you could only install virtual machines of other operating systems using VMware or Parallels, and the license is not available for Mac OS X 10.5 client, so the feature is disabled. With server, you can run multiple instances of Leopard (on Apple hardware, of course), which is often the best way to take advantage of processors with multiple cores. It is also essential for businesses who like the ability to test server software changes before deploying.

Apple surely hopes that its beefed up hardware will allow it to sell more XServes and RAID systems to the enterprise, but the most interesting part of this deal is the change to the license. VMware and Parallels can run OS X client just as well as server. Would Apple be willing to change their license a little bit more to allow OS X Client to run inside a virtual machine on non-Apple Hardware? It would open up the world of OS X to anybody who has Windows or Linux. We know that Apple’s margins are in the hardware, but as Apple’s market share continues to go up, it might be a good way to entice more Mac users into the fold. Apple can effectively allow OS X to run on generic PC Hardware, but never officially have to support it. That seems like a deal both sides can live with.

— Joe Fahs