Apple Harvests Biggest Crop in a Decade

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Apple Harvests Biggest Crop in a Decade

by Joe Wilcox

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• At Macworld, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils the MacBook Air, which is ultra-thin and lightweight on features but heavy on price.• Also at Macworld, Apple introduces Time Capsule for home-network backup, iTunes movie rentals and lower-cost Apple TV.• Apple delivers strong fiscal 2009 first-quarter results: revenue of $9.6 billion and net profits of $1.58 billion—or $1.76 per share. Apple ships 2.3 million Macs—for 44 percent year-over-year unit growth and 47 percent revenue growth—and 22.1 million iPods.[Photo: MacBook Air's thin exterior redefines laptop mobility. Photo by Joe Wilcox.]

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• Apple introduces new iPhone and iPod Touch models, bringing iPhone to 16GB capacity for $499.• Aperture 2.0 debuts, as Apple continues major changes, including less bloat and better performance on less- powerful Macs.• In related announcements, Apple unveils Xsan 2 but drops Xserve RAID, as the company seeks to simplify its storage offerings. [Photo: Aperture 2.0 brings a fresh, new look to the user interface, as Apple steps up competition with Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom 2. Photo courtesy of Apple.]

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• Apple releases iPhone 2.0 SDK to developers. The idea: Ramp up applications ahead of the update's midyear release.• Apple promises full Microsoft Exchange sync capability with the release of iPhone 2.0 software expected around same time as the iPhone 3G. Apple releases the 2.0 beta to developers.• Apple's Windows Updater brings the Safari 3.1 browser to unsuspecting PC users. Is it a Trojan horse? [Photo: Apple's software updater offered Safari 3.1 checked for download by default, causing complaints from some Windows users. Photo courtesy of Apple.]

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• CD death watch: NPD retail data reveals that Apple is now the United States' largest distributor of music, exceeding Wal-Mart. Who says people will only steal music online, huh?• Apple buys chip maker P.A. Semi. Uh-oh, is Apple going to make its own chips for portable devices and Macs?• Apple posts bang-up fiscal 2009 second-quarter results, as revenue grows a whopping 43 percent year over year. Highlights: $7.51 billion in revenue, up from $5.26 billion a year earlier. Net profit jumps from $770 million a year earlier to $1.05 billion, or 87 cents and $1.16 earnings per share, respectively.[Photo: Apple redefines music, selling more songs digitally than does any other U.S. retailer sell physically. Photo by Joe Wilcox.]

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• Vodafone agrees to distribute second-gen iPhone in 10 countries. Other carrier deals will make the mobile available in about 70 countries by year's end.• HBO content comes to iTunes, but with higher per-episode pricing than other content.• Apple U.S. retail market share reaches 14 percent and two-thirds for computers selling for more than $1,000. [Photo: HBO's induction into the iTunes Store brings premium pricing: $2.99 for some episodes. Photo credit: Screen grab from iTunes Store.]

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• Worldwide Developer Conference kicks off big, before Apple kicks out the press: Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone 3G. • The subsidized iPhone 3G rumors were true—$199 for the 8GB model. But hefty AT&T data fees mean buyers will pay more over the life of the contract compared with the original iPhone.• Steve Jobs' thin appearance—gaunt, I say—during the WWDC keynote raises questions about his health. [Photo: One year after its launch, Apple puts out the original iPhone to pasture as it prepares developers for the successor iPhone 3G. Photo by Joe Wilcox.]

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• July 11 brings long lines outside Apple Stores, where activation failures greatly slow down purchases and force people to wait even longer.• App Store dwarfs iPhone 3G for importance. Apple has created the emerging next-generation computing platform.• Apple delivers yet again strong revenue results. For fiscal 2009 third quarter: Quarterly revenue of $7.46 billion, up from $5.41 billion a year earlier. Net profit jumps from $818 million a year earlier to $1.07 billion, or 92 cents and $1.19 earnings per share, respectively.[Photo: The first three people in line wait to get the iPhone 3G at Apple Store Fashion Valley in San Diego. Photo by Joe Wilcox.]

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• Long iPhone 3G lines continue in August, but are they artificial for marketing purposes? Probably.• Apple Watch analysis shows a huge disparity between Windows PC and Mac average selling prices, with Mac ASPs actually rising.• Apple's market capitalization ($158.84 billion) briefly exceeds Google's ($157.23 billion). [Photo: June data released this month shows the disparity between Mac and Windows PC average selling prices. Chart by Joe Wilcox.]

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• Fourth-generation iPod nano releases in nine colors. Apple also debuts second-gen iPod Touch.• Developers criticize Apple for denying Podcaster sale in App Store. Apple's lame reason: competition with the company's own products.• Startling Apple Watch analysis shows that Apple's U.S. retail market share is 35 percent as measured in dollars. So one in three bucks spent on PCs at retail goes to Apple. Whoa.[Photo: Apple launches what likely will be the last generation of big-selling iPods. Many analysts believe sales will decline after holiday 2008. Photo courtesy of Apple.]

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• On Oct. 14, Apple unveils new aluminum MacBooks and MacBook Pros using new sturdy and comely unibody enclosures.• Apple raises MacBook prices, contrary to rumors of lower pricing ahead of the launch. The move seems risky given the dire state of the U.S. economy.• Apple ends its fiscal year with lots of good news: 6.9 million iPhones and 2.6 million Macs shipped in fiscal fourth quarter. On the earnings call, Steve Jobs reassures financial analysts about Apple's future, even as global economies move into recession.[Photo: What economic crisis? Apple raises aluminum MacBook prices by 100 bucks over its predecessors. Photo by Joe Wilcox.]

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• No news is news department: Apple won't release new iMacs as expected. Apple observers see the gloomy economy as a major reason.• Apple releases fiscal 2008 10-K, which shows 38 percent year-over-year growth for Mac laptops measured in both units and revenue. Pretty much all growth numbers are double digits, with some categories more than 50 percent.• Business smartphone users rate the iPhone 3G as "among the best" in a J.D. Power and Associates survey. [Photo: Apple aficionados must wait until at least January Macworld for new iMacs. Reason: Lousy economy. Photo courtesy of Apple.]

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• Apple announces next month's Macworld will be the company's last. But the announcement really veils the bigger news: Steve Jobs won't give the keynote.• Steve Jobs' Macworld no-show raises more speculation that he is in poor health.• Wal-Mart starts selling iPhones, but not for the rumored cheapo $99 price. That distinction belongs to AT&T, which after Christmas sells refurbished 8GB models for $99 and 16GB iPhones for $199. While supplies last.[Photo: AT&T offers iPhone at the right price: $99 or $199 for refurbished models. Photo credit: Screen grab of Web site.]