Apple Eclectic’s Review of 2008: October

For several weeks prior to the start of October, the mailing lists, blogs and forums of the Mac development community had echoed to cries of “F—ing NDA!” Just as the calls for Apple to relax the restrictive terms governing discussions of coding for the iPhone had reached fever pitch, they did. This left the entire development community happy and contented, able to knuckle down to producing iPhone apps with nary a further murmur or complaint. (Hee! Sometimes I crack me up.)

October saw the Copyright Royalty Board meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss whether to increase the royalty rate on digital music tracks. Some people worried that an increase would force Apple to close iTunes, based on a year-old threat. But are we really expected to believe that Steve would shut iTunes down if he didn’t get his way? Well, yes, that sounds exactly like the kind of thing he’d do — so I guess it’s lucky that the Board decided not to increase royalties. Un-shutdown, iTunes continued to pass the 200 million TV show downloads mark this month.

In education news, Oxford and Cambridge made some of their lectures available via iTunes U, while Apple introduces the ‘Fieldtrip to the Apple Stores’ programme, stealing a page from the Jesuits ‘get them while their young’ play book. Meanwhile, Apple sued the Victoria School of Business and Technology for having a very Apple-like apple as their logo.

steve_jobs_reportsIn a triumph for ‘Citizen Journalism’ — or at least for the antediluvian hacks who get their knickers in a twist over the very idea of ‘Citizen Journalism’ — CNN’s iReport site iReported that Steve Jobs had had a heart attack, with a witness claiming to have seen ambulances on the Apple campus. That witness later turned out to be some 18 year old prankster, whose motives — beyond ’s—s and giggles’ — remain unclear. Also in the media, Woz spoke to the Daily Telegraph and slammed the iPod — where by ’slammed’ we mean ‘makes the perfectly reasonable observation that it won’t exist for ever and ever’.

Apple wins five Brit!sh Technology Awards, mostly for the iPhone. It also contiuned to win friends in high places, with the revelation that Carl Bildt — you know: the Swedish Foreign Minister — owns a Mac. Which could prove useful, as fellow Scandinavians Norway continued to act the anti-competetive fool. Behaving themselves for a change, however, were Greenpeace, who, in the wake of another of Steve’s ‘Environmental Updates’, gave Apple a not-completely-ridiculous-but-still-totally-made-up score.

The October the 14th MacBook special event arrived. It didn’t bring the $800 NetBook some people expected, but we did get the new aluminium unibody design across the entire MacBook and MacBook Pro line. Apart from the white entry-level MacBook. And the 17? MacBook Pro. Altogether, this left the MacBook line up with all the visual cohesion of Brangelina’s sprogs. But at least we got to see a nice long video of Jonny Ive being really enthusiastic about industrial milling machines — despite which the entire world continued to pronounce ‘aluminium’ incorrectly. This new ‘brick’ manufacturing technique meant a stronger, more-rigid enclosure produced using less material and energy and leading to greater future recyclability. Apple’s share price fell on the news.

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We also got to see a new 24? Cinema Display, the first for a few years, which was exactly the miracle needed to kick off the rumours that the Mac Mini was about to be discontinued. Or refreshed. But the aftermath of the special event was more about what was left out. The lack of FireWire on the aluminium MacBooks alone lead to a blogosphere-wide sulk. And Steve described Blu-Ray as “a bag of hurt”, leading the masochists at Psystar to quickly release a model with a near-usless Blu-Ray drive.

Apple announced their Q4 results. They made a profit of $1.14 billion on revenues of $7.9 billion, and sold 2.6 million Macs, 11 million iPods, and 6,892,000 iPhones. Apple’s share price fell on the news.

October also saw the release of the native version of Open Office 3 is released… which I really should get round to reviewing one of these days. Apple donated $100,000 to the campaign to fight California’s ‘Proposition 8?. And Microsoft, in yet another desperate and frankly rather embarrassing attempt to regain the initiative resurrects the ‘Apple Tax’ argument.

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