TV-PGOctober 15, 2003: Apple posts a $44 million profit; naysayers are baffled. Meanwhile, PC World conclusively proves that the G5 is actually slower than a 386, and Microsoft admits that the next major version of Windows won't surface until 2006...
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Head Nicely Above Water (10/15/03)

The results are in, people, and the ink is blacker than the box-office prospects of any post-Gigli Ben 'n' Jen flicks (sorry, Kev): according to the official press release, Apple posted a final profit of $44 million in its fourth fiscal quarter of 2003, thus prompting a perplexed Rob Enderle to scratch his head and go "Whuh?" Yes, it's yet another profitable quarter for Apple, and one which compares pretty darn favorably to its $45 million loss a year ago. Party on, Wayne!

Of course, it's not quite as simple as all that; Apple's $44 million profit includes "an after-tax investment gain of $6 million, a favorable accounting transition adjustment of $3 million related to Apple's stock repurchase agreement, and a gain on settlement of the stock repurchase agreement of $6 million"-- after which, Apple's real recurring profit was $29 million. Still, that's 8 cents a share, which means Apple still beat Wall Street's 7-cent consensus by a penny-- or, rather, 362.5 million pennies. Give or take. Couple that with Apple's prediction of a "sequential increase in revenues" and a "slight sequential increase in GAAP earnings" next quarter, and things are looking pretty rosy.

But not as rosy as things will look for the winner of our quarterly Beat The Analysts contest! As usual, we haven't fully tabulated the results yet (we figure we'll do this quarter's extended stats sometime before Zorg the Conqueror's three-eyed, two-headed visage graces the front of the new trillion-dollar bill), but we've done just enough analysis of the data to determine that this quarter's winner is none other than faithful viewer Patrik Montgomery! Many kudos to Patrik for being the first entrant to guess Apple's $29 million profit on the nose, which is technically infinitely closer than what Wall Street predicted. For his analyst-beating financial prowess, we'll be contacting Patrik shortly to ascertain his shipping address and bodily dimensions so that we can send him an AtAT prize pack chock-full of appropriately-sized garments and one-size-fits-most stickers. Unless, of course, he opts for some dust-choked and arcane shrink-wrapped software from the infamous AtAT Baffling Vault of Antiquity™...

Meanwhile, Fred Anderson's Wild 'n' Wacky Earnings Conference Call is slated to begin at 5:30 PM EDT, and it's sure to delight and amaze us all with all sorts of splendiforous facts and figures ("a full 31% of Apple's gross revenue for the quarter came from the PayPal 'Donate Now' button we added to our web site"), but we figured we'd get this episode out now and save something to write about in our next episode. After all, nothing else is going to happen tomorrow, right?...

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We'll Even Pay Shipping (10/15/03)

Okay, okay, we know-- the whole Mac community is frothing at the mouth because of the new test results published by that paragon of platform-balanced reporting, PC World. As faithful viewer mrmgraphics was first to point out to us, said test results show a single 2.2 GHz Athlon 64 FX-51 trouncing a dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 in just about every test. This has led legions of Mac users to attack PC World's methodology as flawed and biased (otherwise described as "fliased"), but we at AtAT are here to act as the Voice of Reason-- and illustrate to you why PC World's choice of test applications was actually anything but stacked in the Athlon's favor.

  • Quake III Arena, the only reason people ever spend over $3000 on a professional computer in the first place. Biased against Macs, you say? Why? Just because you assume that the x86 version was mercilessly hand-tweaked by John Carmack in assembly language and optimized 'til it cried, while the original Mac OS X version was ported by The Omni Group during commercial breaks of a Nick at Nite "Family Ties" marathon? Well, we know for a fact that that's not true. It was a "Cosby Show" marathon. So there.

  • Adobe Premiere, the video editing application that was so darn good on the Mac that Adobe apparently decided that it had reached total perfection with version 6.5 and thenceforth ceased all further development. The last Mac version, 6.5, is no longer even listed on Adobe's products page, which only proves that it has ascended to a higher plane of software existence. So it clearly has an advantage on the Mac.

  • Microsoft Word, the world's most widely-used $200 method to produce memos that have boldface and italics. Some folks argue that benchmarking with a word processor is silly in the first place, but considering that Word frequently has trouble even keeping up with our typing (and we're not touch-typists), clearly there's some serious computation going on just to process keystrokes. Changing the font makes all the lights dim. And as for the people shouting that Microsoft Word running under Microsoft Windows obviously has a performance advantage because it's developed by the same people who wrote the operating system, we say... um... Hey, look over there! Isn't that Elvis buying an Orange Julius?!

  • Adobe Photoshop. Okay, this one we'll give you; it is clearly biased. Because the Mac actually beat the Athlon, so it must be. (Of course, it barely lost to a 2.2 GHz Opteron, so apparently it wasn't biased enough.)

So there you have it, people: far from being biased in any way, PC World's rigorous testing proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the G5 is a mere toy, unfit even for the most inconsequential of tasks-- and therefore, any of you who actually owns one of those sorry buckets should immediately send it to us. We won't even charge you to take it off your oh-so-embarrassed hands, and we'll put it to good use. (Because really, what's more inconsequential than AtAT?) And if you're still on the fence about whether or not PC World's testing is believable, just look at the magazine's slogan: "Technology Advice You Can Trust." C'mon, what more proof do you people need?

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Better Call It "Latehorn" (10/15/03)

Nine days 'til Panther! Nine days 'til Panther! Not that we're getting excited or anything. Sure, we're looking forward to hours of productivity irretrievably lost to Exposé as we repeatedly press the F11 key and watch all of our windows skitter off the screen like so many startled cockroaches when the kitchen light comes on, but mostly we're just anticipating a whole heaping helping of Schadenfreude and gloating when we're all gleefully running Panther and the Windoids are still waiting for Longhorn. And waiting. And waiting...

Yup, while Longhorn was formerly slated for a 2005 release, Microsoft Watch reports that company officials have finally admitted that it's now expected to slip into 2006. Well, okay, they didn't actually say that as such; instead they casually mentioned that Longhorn is "three years away from debut" and hoped that people who use Windows on a regular basis would have been too beaten into submission by the experience to bother doing the math. By our count, though, late 2003 plus three years equals late 2006-- and in Microsoftian release date coordinates, that might even slide into early 2007. Of course, that last bit's just conjecture, but the late-2006 release date comes from Microsoft itself.

If you need more to go on than the say-so of a handful of nameless Microsoft execs with PowerPoint presentations, you're in luck: faithful viewer Mikey points out that, according to The Register, Longhorn's lateness has been confirmed by no less an authority than Bill "Stumpy" Gates himself. Sort of. Reportedly he told journalists that "Longhorn could be 2005 or 2006." Which means, of course, 2006-- or, if you're a realist and you remember that Windows NT 5 was so late they renamed it "Windows 2000," 2007.

Bill went on to say that Longhorn "is going to be driven by technology, not by a release date. Which probably means that it is going to be late." So there you have it, folks: straight from the filthy rich horse's mouth. (Then again, the man also told the same reporters that Microsoft "invented personal computing," so there's every chance the lil' fella was stoned out of his gourd at the time-- this was in The Hague, after all, just thirtyish miles from Amsterdam.) Given the history of major Mac OS X upgrades so far, by the time Longhorn finally lopes into view over two whole years from now, we'll probably have replaced Panther with Tiger, have replaced Tiger with Lynx, and already be looking at previews for a 2006 release of Mac OS X British Tick.

Heck, if Microsoft officials are serious about Longhorn being "three years away from debut," we might even be using British Tick by then. Meanwhile, we look forward to getting our "before the end of this year" copies of Panther more than two months before the end of this year. With Panther out the door and Longhorn delayed until at least 2006, Apple's developers now have a good chunk of time to put Mac OS X so far back out in front of Windows that the disparity will the clearest it's been since System 7 vs. Windows 3.1. Do we sense a vicious beatdown in the making?

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