TV-PGDecember 29, 2003: Christmas has come and gone-- so how many iPods did Apple sell, anyway? Meanwhile, still more miniPod "confirmation" arrives (plus reports that they'll be available in "Gold"), and Apple allegedly plans to make its 20-inch Cinema Display the low-end option in the display lineup...
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Must Be A "Guesstimate" (12/29/03)

There it went, folks: another Christmas come and gone, with nothing left to remind us of its fleeting glory but the faint lingering scent of sugar cookies, the neighbors' traditional "Three Santas Bringing Gifts to Baby Jesus While Penguins with Little Scarves Look on" lawn display (the one that won't be taken down until June), and a credit hole so deep your bills arrive printed upside-down and in Chinese. Oh, and the loot. Can't forget the loot; it's the gift that keeps on giving! After all, like it or not, these days Christmas is primarily a retail event, and what better reminder that Santa came than the sacks of goodies he left you to play with?

And this year the loot is especially sweet, because the odds are pretty good that yours was rife with iPod-y goodness. While there were scads of news reports about iPods selling out all over because they were "the" hot-selling prezzies this season, Apple hasn't released any actual sales figures yet-- but we've got a source on the inside who estimates iPods sold between Halloween and Christmas to number approximately 1.8 trillion units worldwide. That's a whole lotta iPods: roughly 216 for every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet.

Of course, we're not claiming that everyone on earth got 216 iPods for Christmas. That would be silly. For one thing, there are all those people on Santa's Naughty List who got 64 MB Nomads instead. (By the way, since when is 64 kbps MP3 "CD-quality music"? Liars! LIARS WALK AMONG US!) As for the people who made it onto the Nice List, economic disparities come into play; whereas the wealthiest 2% of the population received several thousand iPods each, destitute individuals in third-world countries only got a dozen or two. Sad but true.

Still, all told, Apple sold a ton of the little white and silver wallet-suckers, despite such karmic ugliness as a planeload of them catching on fire at the height of the shopping season. Faithful viewer bo dished us a Mercury News article noting that "a large FedEx MD-10 airplane" carrying a load of iPods caught fire in Memphis a week before Christmas, which is the sort of thing that carries a certain "Divine Vengeance" vibe that probably had a few high-ranking Apple execs watching overhead for lightning bolts for a few days.

Note: there's a slim chance that our source's "1.8 trillion" figure is slightly off. We recently asked him to estimate how much Ted Koppel weighs, and he guessed 940,000 tons-- which sounds high to us, even if the guy is carrying a little extra holiday weight. So until Apple issues some official sales figures (which Uncle Steve will surely trot out on stage during his keynote next month), we're probably all best off simply referring to the number of iPods sold during this holiday season by the qualitative technical term "a crapload." Vague and classy!

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Someone Pass The Syrup (12/29/03)

Slow news day? You bet your sweet bippy it's a slow news day. C'mon, seriously, what did you expect? We're smack in between Christmas and New Year's; everyone has checked out, if not physically, then certainly mentally. We know we sure have. In fact, we're thinking about brunch even as we write this. (Mmmmm, unexplained bacon.) Yeah, okay, the Expo's next week, but even so, nothing, and we mean nothing, is happening right now. Trust us-- when even major news sites like MacMinute take the week off, you know the whole scene is hibernating until January.

So what are our options? Well, first of all, we could tell you to stop being so obsessive, go elsewhere, and take up a hobby-- say, knitting, or maybe watch repair. The only problem there is that you might discover that there really is a world out there and never come back, which our advertisers might find a wee bit objectionable. Instead we could just flat out make stuff up, which we don't oppose for any sort of ethical reasons, but being creative takes effort, and like we said, we're too busy picturing corn muffins to bother. No, our best bet is probably to bleed an old, stale story three-quarters to death by rehashing it with only the thinnest of new information and then padding it mercilessly with complaints about slow news days and the occasional reference to brunch-appropriate foodstuffs. Sounds like a plan, Stan.

That said, hey, check it out! The latest vote of confidence in the validity of the ongoing miniPod rumors comes from MacRumors, who claims to have received "reliable confirmation" that new smaller iPods will debut in a week's time. Hard details are scarce; there's no more word on pricing or storage capacity, other than the fact that both will be lower than those of today's iPods. MacRumors only commits to affirming that 1) miniPods exist, 2) they'll be introduced next week, and 3) they will come "in a variety of solid colors." One new bit of information, here: one of those colors is said to be "Gold." Now, whether that's gold like goldenrod or gold like "there's gold in them thar hills" remains to be seen, but we hope it's the former. If it turns out to be the latter, we're going to have to start using the phrase "bling bling" all the time, and frankly, we're not at all sure we can pull it off.

By the way, if anyone out there is wondering just what "mini" means in terms of form factor, you might want to check out the NOMAD Muvo2, which ships in 1.5 GB and 4 GB capacities strangely similar to the 2 GB and 4 GB configurations rumored for the miniPods; we're guessing that Apple will be using the same drives. Then again, the MuVos start at $229, so here's hoping Apple gets the price a bit lower than that, because otherwise its idea of a "lower-cost iPod" isn't much reason to get happy. We're really starting to think that maybe the new "lower-cost" iPods and the miniPods aren't the same thing at all. What do you think, folks-- a premium price for a smaller player coupled with classic refurb 5 GB iPods for $149? Just a thought.

Actually, wait-- we've got it! We just figured out exactly how Apple can introduce 2 GB miniPods at a $99 price point and still keep a nice profit margin! What they're going to do is... wait, are those waffles? Oooh, yeah, waffles.

Mmmmm, waffle-y.

Now. What were we talking about again?...

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30 Inches & Splitty Cables (12/29/03)

Man alive, just what is going on with Apple's displays these days? We've all been hearing rumors about a refreshed display lineup for months and months now, but nothing's changed in almost a year-- and if you listen really hard, you can hear the sounds of G5 owners asking themselves the question that keeps them up all night: "Why am I looking at transparent plastic, pinstripes, and chrome next to my perforated aluminum Power Mac?" Oh, the agony of riding that Bleeding Edge.

Well, if you're up for yet another round of whispers, Mac OS Rumors claims that Apple "expects to End-Of-Life its standard aspect 17-inch Studio Display soon" while adding a mammoth 30-inch widescreen to the high end. Think about what this means for the pros: 20 inches on the desktop, minimum. No less than 1680x1050 resolution. Hubba hubba. For all of you who tried Mac OS X on an 800x600 iBook and wondered just what Apple was thinking when it made all of the interface elements so darn big, well, now you know.

According to MOSR, we can't expect this new lineup until "February or March," but when it arrives, all three models are said to sport "all-new enclosures"-- and hey, only six months after the G5s shipped! Best of all, though, said enclosures might do away with the Apple Display Connector. Don't get us wrong; we love plugging a display into a Power Mac with just one slim cable and getting video, power, and USB all at once. What we don't like is not being able to plug said display into a DVI PowerBook (or, heaven forfend, a Wintel system) without blowing yet another $149 on an ADC-to-DVI converter.

Apple's alleged new connection scheme isn't quite as elegant as ADC: it's a single cable that ends in separate DVI, power, and USB plugs, reminiscent of the company's old AudioVision monitors. (Those were worse, though-- the cable snaked out into video, audio in, audio out, and ADB. Yeesh.) So there's still a single cable, but things are a smidge messier at the computer end unless you have a future Mac that Apple designed with clustered ports specifically to handle these cables. Still, it's a small price to pay for having an Apple display that you can actually hook up to other devices with little more than a cheap adapter. As always, we'll believe it when we see it. Or maybe an hour or so afterwards... it depends on whether or not we'll have had lunch yet.

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