The 'Book Review

Record Mac Sales Despite 'iPad Cannibalization', MacBook Pro Refresh Appears Imminent, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.10.21

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Record Mac Sales 'Almost Unbelievable' in Face of iPad Cannibalization

Mac Rumors' Eric Slivka notes that notwithstanding analyst disappointment over lower-than-forecast Apple iDevice sales, one of the high points of Apple's fourth fiscal quarter earnings was Mac sales, which came in well above expectations at a record 4.89 million units, which calculates to a 26% increase year-over-year. On Apple's earnings conference call, even Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the strong Mac system sales were "almost unbelievable" considering continued growth in the iPad market, and that while that some customers are indisputably electing to purchase iPads instead of Macs, which has to be cannibalizing potential Mac sales, cannibalization of Windows PCs by the iPad opens up a tremendous opportunity for Apple.

For more on Apple's financials, see Apple's Quarterly Results: All-Time Record Mac and iPad Sales and Best Ever Mac and iPad Sales Help Apple Turn in Record Quarter in this week's Mac News Review.

MacBook Pro Revision References Appear on Apple Store

Electronista reports that an unusual listing in Apple's online store - not currently active - may support rumors of a MacBook Pro refresh coming in the next few weeks, with one of the current listings for an unidentified "MacBook Pro Memory Model," with availability quoted as "Coming in November" and appearing to reference different clock speeds, of 2.33 and 2.4 GHz - possible quad-core Core i7 processors.

screen shot from Apple store

Publisher's note: Historically, Apple has introduced updated MacBook Pro models an average of 8-9 months apart. The latest revision arrived in April, which would normally point to an early 2012 revision, but an October or November release is not unprecedented. dk

Clues to New MacBook Pros on Apple Website

9 to 5 Mac's Seth Weintraub says the site is expecting a minor refresh for the MacBook Pro line with modest CPU bumps and possibly improved Bluetooth wireless networking, and has found more evidence for such a refresh in Apple's own online store, with two mysterious entries for MacBook Pro Memory Model with the caption "Ships: Coming in November," and links to two URLs that aren't currently active.

Details of New MacBook Pro Laptops Leaked on Apple Site

V3's Rosalie Marshall also reports that Apple product pages appear to show that there could be a 15" model with a 2.33 GHz processor, and another with a 2.66 GHz Processor and a 1066 MHz DDR3 memory module, and that rumors that Apple will soon update its MacBook Pro range gathering momentum.

MacBook Pro Supplies Constrained, New Models Appear in Apple's Inventory System

We're just about to the midpoint in October, so historically we're entering the time envelope where Apple has traditionally slotted laptop model updates and new product announcements.

It looks like history will repeat itself in 2011 with a MacBook Pro update imminent. 9 to 5 Mac's Mark Gurman is reporting that Apple's current line of MacBook Pros is heavily constrained in the distribution and retail channels with all models appearing to be nearly out of stock.

Electronista reports that three new inventory code names are in use: K90IA for 13", K91A for 15", and K92A for 17", contradicting speculation that the 13-incher might be dropped in light of the 13" MacBook Air's market popularity.

Gurman advises not to expect any major redesign, projecting that what's likely is some modest speed bumps, the Bluetooth 4.0 technology Apple's been shipping in MacBook Airs since last summer's Air upgrade as well as in the new iPhone 4S, and doesn't speculate beyond that.

Ivy Bridge CPUs to Reduce Power Consumption

Hardware.fr's Marc Prieur has posted some waypoints from the latest Intel roadmap, noting that that Intel will continue to use the i7/i5/i3 nomenclature, but change model numbers from 2000 series to 3000 series.

As for power consumption, of crucial interest to portable users, the high-end quad-core Core i7/i5 will have a targeted TDP (thermal design power) of 77W (vs. 95W currently with Sandy Bridge units) thanks to the new chip family's 22nm technology. The Core i3 dual-core will have a TDP of 55W compared with 65W currently, and special low power consumption variants will also be offered in addition, with 65W or 45W quad-core TDPs and 35W for the dual-cores.

The versions themselves will remain very close to current with a top-of-the-line Core i7, the Core i5 sans the i7's 2 MB cache and hyperthreading, and the Core i3 compared with the Core i5 having 3 MB less cache, two fewer cores, and no Turbo.

MacBook Chassis Maker Kicks Up a Stink

The Register's Brid-Aine Parnell reports that Taiwanese parts supplier Catcher Technology has been forced to close down some of its production systems in China's Suzhou province after local residents complained to the authorities about "odours" coming from its factories.

Catcher's announcement to the stock exchange on Sunday, followed by clarification on Monday, said that it would speed up its "improving process" to try to get production back online before it starts to lose out on revenues.

Catcher supplies enclosure casings for PCs, smartphones, and other devices, with Apple, Dell, Acer, Motorola, LG, and Samsung among its customers. It supplies Apple with magnesium-aluminium alloy chassis used on MacBook Airs and Pros.

Apple Updates

Apple Acknowledges Intermittent Lost Video Problem with 15" 2010 MacBook Pro

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says that Apple has determined that a small number of 15" Mid 2010 MacBook Pros may intermittently stop displaying video on the built-in display or on an external display connected to them. In this situation, you may see a restart warning message before the video is lost or the display turns black or gray. Affected computers were manufactured between April 2010 and February 2011.

Resolution: Apple is aware of the issue and is working on a solution. In the meantime, they advise keeping your software up-to-date using Software Update.

Tech Trends

Ultrabooks Will Be Intel 's Biggest 2012 Campaign

Forbes' Elizabeth Woyke notes that the launch of two ultrabooks from Taiwan's Asus officially kicked off Intel's bid to redefine mobile computing, with the new Asus laptops, the UX21 and UX31, representing more than "just another product launch" for the already-prolific PC industry, according to Intel Senior Vice President Tom Kilroy, who at a New York press conference said Intel believes the thin and light ultrabooks and "instant-on" bootup will become a sizable new genre of mobile computers.

Ergo, Intel plans to make ultrabooks the focus of its "single biggest marketing campaign in 2012," Kilroy told Ms. Woyke in an interview. "When we create a new category, we do it big."

Ultrabook Players to Adopt Hybrid Hard Drives to Save Cost

DigiTimes' Ocean Chen and Joseph Tsai, report that hybrid hard disk drives, which combine a solid state drive (SSD) and a hard drive in single device, have recently become a popular choice among notebook brand vendors for new Ultrabook models.

With storage components accounting for about 10-15% of an Ultrabook's total cost, to fulfill Intel's goal of launching Ultrabooks priced below US$1,000 and its demand of having a bootup time in between 8-45 seconds and physical size smaller than a standard 9.5mm thick laptop hard drive, notebook brand vendors are eyeing hybrid hard drives as their storage choice.

Chen and Tsai note that hybrid hard drives cost less than standard solid state drives but can still allow an ultrabook to have a fast bootup time and storage efficiency, fulfilling Intel's guidelines, and consequently many Ultrabook vendors have been evaluating related solutions. For example, Acer has already launched an S3 model featuring a 320 GB hard drives combined with a 20 GB SSD. While the initial wave of ultrabook models is mainly adopting SSDs, more models with hybrid hard drives may start appearing soon.

Bargain 'Books

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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