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Apple Goes Budget Friendly
The Wall Street Journal gave Apple's new low-budget strategy better odds than the Times piece: "With a low-priced computer, Apple believes it can convince even more users to switch to the Mac from personal computers based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, by far the dominant part of the market. Apple, which has a measly 2% of the world-wide PC market, has waged a long campaign to get Windows users to switch to Macs, without much success," the paper said. "But times are changing: Windows' vulnerability to computer viruses and other Internet-borne attacks is leading some consumers to reconsider Macs, which don't share those vulnerabilities. A lower price could be the extra push these consumers need. 'We want to price this so people who are thinking of switching have no more excuses,' Mr. Jobs said in his speech."
The Wall Street Journal: Apple Tries A New Tack: Lower Prices (Subscription required)
Nuts-and-Bolts of the Shuffle
The Seattle Times provided more details on the iPod Shuffle, the name of its new Mac and iPod: "The square, brushed-aluminum computer is just 2 inches tall, with a width and depth of 6.5 inches. For $100 more, Apple sells a version with a slightly faster processor and an 80 GB hard drive -- twice that of the basic model. ... The iPod shuffle is a flash memory-based player that weighs less than an ounce and is smaller than a pack of chewing gum." (That description, of course, plays right in the hand of the sales pitch Jobs gave on stage yesterday at Macworld. He showed a picture of the player next to a pack of gum. His on-stage speech and product touting led Ron Insana of CNBC yesterday to say Jobs looks like a salesman for a home shopping channel).
The Seattle Times: Apple Goes Mini With Mac, Tiny iPod
After the Bell
Apple will be out with its quarterly numbers today after the markets close. "When Apple reports its fiscal first-quarter earnings today, the company is expected to announce that iPod helped more than triple per-share earnings over the same period a year earlier. Apple shares likewise, have tripled since February," the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Los Angeles Times: Apple Aims To Play On iPod Success With $99 Model (Registration required)
The Wall Street Journal's "Ahead of the Tape" feature today gave a closer look at Apple's recent market performance: "Apple shares had a tumultuous session yesterday, as news of CEO Steve Jobs's keynote address at the annual MacWorld trade show in San Francisco slowly filtered out. First there was a selloff on worries that Mr. Jobs wouldn't announce the low-price computer that was widely rumored to be in the works. The stock then bounced higher when he unveiled it. That recovery came to an abrupt halt when, in announcing the newest version of Apple's iPod music player, Mr. Jobs said that the company had sold over 4.5 million iPods during the holiday quarter. That's a big number -- bigger, even, than the 4.4 million iPod's Apple sold during the fiscal year ended September. But it is basically in line with the recent, upwardly revised forecasts from several analysts," the article said. "That wouldn't have been bad news for most stocks. But it was for Apple Computer's shares, which have rallied on investors' wide-eyed expectations for the iPod. After all the wild trading, the stock finished down 6.4% yesterday on Nasdaq. Even with the decline, it trades 181% above where it was a year ago -- and at 40 times analysts' expected earnings for this year. With that kind of valuation, merely beating analysts' estimates might not be good enough."
The Wall Street Journal: Apple Shiners (Subscription required)
Apple isn't making friends with some environmentalists. The company's policy for recycling old PCs got slammed by a small group of protestors on Monday, the San Jose Mercury News reported. "A raucous band of about 20 demonstrators in mock hazardous-material safety suits held a noon-hour vigil Monday outside Apple Computer's Cupertino headquarters, protesting the company's policies on electronic waste recycling, which they claimed are lagging behind personal-computer industry rivals Hewlett-Packard and Dell." More from the article: "Responding to years of criticism by environmental groups, Apple now offers its customers a fee-based computer take-back program. And last week the company joined eBay's 'Rethink Initiative,' which promotes e-waste recycling and provides consumers with information on how to dispose of junk electronic goods. But activists say Apple has resisted the concept of producer responsibility for e-waste and lobbied against state e-waste legislation -- despite its progressive reputation."
The San Jose Mercury News: Apple E-Waste Policy Trashed (Registration required)
Microsoft Still Loves Apple Users
The world's largest software company made some news of its own yesterday. Microsoft is making sure that Apple users still turn to its software even when using the Mac. The company will continue to offer Office software for the Mac, CNET's News.com reported. "Microsoft said it sold more copies of Office 2004 for the Mac in the first three months after its release than the company sold in the first six months of the prior version," CNET reported. Microsoft's MSN unit is also testing new blog search and syndication features, CNET also reported. This shows that blogging is going even more mainstream as giant companies look for way to capitalize on the trend.
CNET's News.com: iWork or Not, Microsoft Will Continue With Mac Office
CNET's News.com: MSN Tests New Blog, Search Features
Meanwhile, Microsoft operating system users are being warned of fresh possible security holes. The company is offering new security patches. "Microsoft Corp. yesterday released three software updates to fix security holes in its Windows operating system, including one that can affect machines equipped with a massive security upgrade the company released five months ago. The three patches, available at windowsupdate.microsoft.com, mend four software holes. Two of the patches earned a 'critical' rating from Microsoft, its most serious. The software giant said attackers could exploit three of the flaws merely by persuading users to open a specially crafted e-mail or to visit a Web site that distributes malicious code," washingtonpost.com reported.
washingtonpost.com: Microsoft Releases Three New Windows Security Patches (Registration required)
Greener Pastures For MSFT CFO
Microsoft CFO John Connors is leaving the company to work for a Seattle-based venture capital firm. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer explains that the firm, Ignition Partners, is a Microsoft alumni club of sorts: "The 45-year-old joins eight other former Microsoft executives at the Bellevue investment firm, including former Vice Presidents Brad Silverberg, John Ludwig, Cameron Myhrvold and Richard Tong. Together, the firm's partners worked at Microsoft for more than 90 years and created some of the most recognizable products in the software industry." After 16 years at Microsoft, Connors wanted to have more free time, spend time with family and work with charity, the Seattle Times said.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Growing Venture Capital Firm Is 'Humbled' To Land Connors
The Seattle Times: Microsoft's Finance Chief Quits
Here's why he might be so tired of toiling at Redmond: "Connors, 45, drew the thankless task of reigning in some of the excesses of the late 1990s. He wrote down billions of dollars in bad telecom investments. He paid out billions more to settle antitrust lawsuits with rivals Novell, Sun Microsystems and America Online, as well as consumer class-action lawsuits in more than a dozen states. And he signed off on a record $613 million fine paid to the European Commission as part of sanctions for using illegal antitrust practices," USA Today explained.
USA Today: Microsoft's Financial Chief Leaves For Venture Capital Firm
Intel on Top, For Now...
Things are looking up for Intel, and that's good news for investors and the tech sector overall, but not so great for rival chipmaker AMD. Intel yesterday reported better-than-expected sales and positive earnings. "While industry analysts are forecasting that the chip industry could shrink as much as 5 percent this year, Intel is planning for double-digit growth in PC unit sales, compared with 12 percent growth in 2004," the San Jose Mercury News reported. "Moreover, Intel appeared to take market share from rival Advanced Micro Devices in flash-memory chips for cell phones and cars, said David Wu, an analyst at Global Crow Capital. AMD shares fell 26 percent after the company announced Monday that its flash-memory sales were worse than expected."
The San Jose Mercury News: Intel's Earnings Exceed Forecast (Registration required)
The New York Times said "Intel's earnings report is considered a leading indicator of the health of the technology sector but it also appeared to reflect a comeback of sorts in the company's battle with A.M.D., which has made substantial inroads into Intel's dominant position as the leading microprocessor maker. Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif., has fought back in part by challenging A.M.D. in its own critical stronghold - producing a variety of chips known as flash memory that are used in cellphones and other portable digital devices."
The New York Times: Intel, Citing Brisk Demand, Posts 10% Rise in Revenue (Registration required)
The Financial Times noted that times aren't great for rival AMD when it comes to flash memory. "AMD, which has been credited with outmanoeuvering Intel in its processor business, appears to have suffered from its bigger rival's aggressive bid to grab market share by cutting prices in the flash memory field. Early on Tuesday, AMD, based in California, said in an unexpected statement ahead of its results next week: 'In a competitive and challenging Nor flash memory market, the Memory Group is anticipated to have lower fourth quarter sales and an operating loss.' Nor flash is commonly used in mobile phones and games consoles, compared with Nand flash that is used in memory cards for digital cameras."
The Financial Times: Intel Price War Takes Its Toll On AMD