Mac News Review

Apple's Record 2nd Quarter, Free Snow Leopard for MobileMe Users, iCloud Alternatives, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.04.27

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book 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

iCloud Alternatives

Reviews

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple's Second Quarter: Record March Quarter Sales of iPhones, iPads, and Macs

PR: Apple on Tuesday announced financial results for its fiscal 2012 second quarter ended March 31, 2012. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $39.2 billion and quarterly net profit of $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $24.7 billion and net profit of $6.0 billion, or $6.40 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 47.4% compared to 41.4% in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64% of the quarters revenue.

The Company sold 35.1 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 88% unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, a 151% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 4 million Macs during the quarter, a 7% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 7.7 million iPods, a 15% unit decline from the year-ago quarter.

"We're thrilled with sales of over 35 million iPhones and almost 12 million iPads in the March quarter, said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "The new iPad is off to a great start, and across the year you're going to see a lot more of the kind of innovation that only Apple can deliver."

"Our record March quarter results drove $14 billion in cash flow from operations," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO. "Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter, we expect revenue of about $34 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $8.68."

Apple will provide live streaming of its Q2 2012 financial results conference call at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/earningsq212

This webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter.

Quarterly Mac unit sales since 2006

Publisher's note: At this point, Apple has sold over 70 million Intel-based Macs since it began the transition from PowerPC in 2006. dk

Macs Contribute Just 13% to Apple's Revenue

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports that the Mac's contribution to Apple's bottom line fell to an all-time low last quarter, with computer sales accounting for just 13% of the company's near-record revenue.

"...even though the Mac brought in $5.1 billion last quarter - more than double the $2.5 billion in the second quarter of 2007, its share had dropped precipitously."

Free Snow Leopard for MobileMe Users

The Register's Anna Leach reports that Apple is now giving away an OS upgrade as a ploy to wean stubborn users off its MobileMe service and onto its iCloud storage offering. Cupertino's older OSes (anything prior to OS X 10.7 Lion) do not support iCloud. The company has informed MobileMe customers still using the 2007 Mac operating system OS X 10.5 Leopard that they can have the next version of the OS, the 2009 release, OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard for free, thus enabling an online upgrade to OS X 10.7 Lion for $30. The offer only applies to MobileMe subscribers still on Leopard.

Publisher's note: We have a press release announcing MacMate, a partial replacement for MobileMe for those who do not choose to or cannot migrate to Lion. We also have information on two iCloud alternatives that are new to Mac users this week - Microsoft's SkyDrive and Google Drive. Although they don't provide the same kind of iCal, Address Book, Safari bookmarks, and other sync options that MobileMe and iCloud offer, like Dropbox they can be a great way to sync files between multiple computers, tablets, and smartphones. dk

iCloud Alternatives

Microsoft Releases SkyDrive for Mac

PR: Access your Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage account from your Mac; 7 GB free.

SkyDrive for Mac is the easiest way to access your SkyDrive from your Mac. When you install SkyDrive, a SkyDrive folder is created on your computer. Everything you put in this folder is automatically kept in sync between your computers and SkyDrive.com, so you can get to your latest files from virtually anywhere there's Internet access. Whenever you add, change, or delete files in one location, all the other locations will be updated.

Features

  • Access your SkyDrive right from the Finder - photos, documents, and all your other important files.
  • Quickly add new files to SkyDrive by dragging them to the SkyDrive folder.
  • Easily organize your files and folders in SkyDrive, just like any other folder.

System requirements:

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or later

Google Introduces Google Drive

PR: On Wednesday Google announced in a Google blog that it's introducing Google Drive - a Cloud storage space where you can also create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.


Google Drive supports Macs, Windows, and Android. (iOS is coming.)

Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, making collaboration with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations possible. Once you choose to share content with others, you can add and reply to comments on anything (PDF, image, video file, etc.) and receive notifications when other people comment on shared items.

As with established Cloud solutions like Dropbox and SkyDrive, Google Drive (Gdrive) lets users store everything safely and access it from anywhere with Internet access. You can install Gdrive on your Mac (OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and later) or Windows PC and can download the Drive app to your Android phone or tablet. Google says it is working hard on a Drive app for iOS devices.

Regardless of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.

Also supported are search by keyword and filter by file type, owner, and more. Gdrive can recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and supports (beta level quality as yet) image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and corresponding photos should pop up.

Google offers 5 GB of Gdrive storage for free. If you need more capacity, you can upgrade to 25 GB for $2.49/month, 100 GB for $4.99/month, or even 1 TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25 GB.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6 and newer
  • Windows XP and newer
  • Android 2.1 and newer
  • iOS 3 and newer

Google Drive, SkyDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, and More Compared

Gizmodo's Adrian Covert says:

"Now that Google Drive is finally here and you can use it, the first question is simple: Is it better than the cloud service you're already using (or maybe considering using)? We haven't had the chance to put Google Drive through the wringer quite yet, but we can compare it to the competition on paper.

"The verdict? Not too shabby.

"The chart below shows off the features, pricing, and highlights of the major players in cloud storage right now--the folks Google is taking aim at with Drive. Dropbox is the standard bearer, but Microsoft's SkyDrive, Apple's iCloud, and upstart Box have all got something to offer:"

Cloud drive comparison: Google Drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive, iCloud, and Box compared

Publisher's note: With Dropbox, you can get lots of free storage. For instance, by recommending it to others and having them sign up for their own Dropbox accounts, you each get an additional 500 MB of space. We're currently at 18.88 GB of free storage space at Low End Mac headquarters. dk

Reviews

OWC Accelsior PCI Express SSD Tested in Mac Pro

BareFeats' rob-ART Morgan says:

"How would you like a screaming internal storage unit for your Mac Pro that requires no cables, no special mounting sled, doesn't take up a drive bay, and can boot OS X? Then you will want to know about Accelsior (see below), a brand new 6 Gb/s SSD PCIe card from Other World Computing.

"To highlight the performance of the Accelsior compared to conventional single drive storage solutions, we collected speed data for a single internal HDD, a single internal 6 Gb/s SSD, and a single external 6 Gb/s SSD."

Products & Services

MacMate Launched to Replace Apple's MobileMe Web Hosting

PR: Mac specialist ISP MacAce has launched its new MacMate service - web hosting, Cloud storage, and email in one easy-to-use package. MacMate is designed as a replacement for Apple's MobileMe service, which Apple are discontinuing on June 30th. MacMate's hosting capability allows multiple domains and one-click publishing from iWeb as well as drag-and-drop or FTP access to the webspace. The MacMate disk sits on the user's desktop just like a real disk.

MacMate's email manager
MacMate's email manager

It is estimated that up to 250,000 Mac-users worldwide use the web hosting part of MobileMe and are anxious to find an alternative host for their site. MacMate addresses the growing complaints and calls from Mac fans to keep iWeb, Apple's popular one-click WYSIWYG web design program, in development and to continue their ability to very easily create and publish a website within minutes. iWeb will continue to work on Mac OS X - even on OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion - but Apple have not explicitly stated that they are dropping it. MacMate provides an elegant solution for those customers to easily and simply switch their hosting. Additionally MacMate comes with 10 GB of cloud storage as standard and 3 email accounts. Up to 100 GB of cloud storage space is available and unlimited email accounts.

  • 10 GB of cloud storage (web and webdav-based)
  • One-click hosting from iWeb
  • 3 email boxes (POP or IMAP)
  • Full technical Support from Mac Specialist
  • Online control panel
  • Shared and private folders
  • Really easy to use

Gary Hall, CEO of MacAce, the company behind MacMate, says, "We're not competing against iCloud, we're filling the void that Apple leaves behind - it compliments iCloud really. Apple don't want to be a hosting company, we are a hosting company, so it's an easy fit. You only have to read some of the forums to see the number of people who love iWeb and it's simplicity - we think MacMate is perfect for them".

iCloud is Apple's replacement for MobileMe and focuses on syncing music, photos, and files from Apple-apps. It doesn't provide any hosting nor allow uploading files from non-Apple applications like Word, Photoshop, Excel, etc.

MacMate's hosting capability allows multiple domains and one-click publishing from iWeb as well as drag-and-drop or FTP access to the webspace. The MacMate disk sits on the user's desktop just like a real disk, allowing drag and drop of any file-type as a backup, or to work directly from. Users can also access and share files on the disk via the online control interface (or from any WebDav client on iOS). Email is comprehensive with virus and spam protection as well as an innovative auto-migrate facility to allow import of existing IMAP accounts.

MacMate's email manager
MacMate's email manager

Barry Rhodes, lead developer comments, "Whilst this is a beta version, which we wanted to get out there so that people could move to MacMate well before the June 30th deadline, we have a massive amount of really cool innovative features and additions planned for MacMate over the coming weeks and months."

MacMate is available at a special introductory rate of £59/$89 per year, with 3 months extra free, and can be upgraded to 100 GB and unlimited email addresses. Domain names can also be purchased on-the-fly and assigned to hosting and email instantly. MacMate is available immediately as a fully-working beta worldwide. Activation is instant.

Other World Computing's Mercury Accelsior PCI ExpressCard SSD

PR: Other World Computing's Mercury Accelsior is a bootable solid state drive (SSD) in the form of a PCI ExpressCard that's as easy to install as a memory module, is available in capacities from 120 GB ($359.99) to 960 GB ($2,095.99), Mercury Accelsior PCI ExpressCard SSDrequires no drivers, and is claimed to deliver speeds up to 780 MB/s read and 648 MB/s write, making it one of the fastest data storage upgrades for the Mac Pro and office desktop PCs.

Features:

  • Mac & PC Bootable with No Driver Setup - No drivers are required making Accelsior a simple Plug and Play bootable solution.
  • Upgrade as Your Capacity Needs Grow - Easily upgrade to larger Mercury Accelsior SSD blades for a capacity boost. If you can install a memory module, you'll find adding this high-performance card into your desktop/tower machine a breeze.
  • PCIe = Up to 5x Faster Mac or PC - By utilizing the fastest interface available in your Mac Pro or PC-the PCIe slot-the OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD offers up to 5x faster performance than an internal SATA connected drive. (Typical 7200 RPM hard drive average data rate of 150 MB/s)
  • Like Adding a Supercharger to Your Computer - Accelsior delivers accelerated speeds up to 780 MB/s read and 763 MB/s write. With up to 100K IOP/s, applications are given an instant boost while Accelsior's speed dramatically reduces level-loading and save times for games.
  • Mac & PC Bootable with No Driver Setup - Tap into Accelsior's 6G speeds for near instant startup and app launching by using it as your boot drive on your Mac Pro or PC. No drivers are required making Accelsior a simple Plug and Play bootable solution.
  • Future-Ready for Growing Needs - With the future introduction of higher capacity Mercury Accelsior SSD blades, you'll be able to meet expanding storage needs while extending the useful life of your investment.
  • SandForce Driven for Maximum Reliability - The latest SandForce processor with 7% over-provisioning and DuraClass technology deliver best-in-class reliability, performance, and power efficiency.

Prices start at $359.99 for 120 GB, through $529.99 for 240 GB, $929.99 for 480 GB, and $2,095.99 for 960 GB.

G-RAID with Thunderbolt High-Performance Dual-Drive RAID 0 Shipping

PR: G-Technology has begun shipping its new G-RAID with Thunderbolt RAID 0 system with capacities up to 8 TB and dual Thunderbolt ports. G-RAID with ThunderboltThe drive features up to 280 MB/sec sustained throughput, an aluminum case with "smart" fan and Kensington Lock slot, and support for Mac OS X 10.6 and up.

G-RAID with Thunderbolt is G-Technology's leading RAID solution, designed specifically for professional content creation applications, features double the data transfer rates of USB 3.0 and over 12 times faster throughput than FireWire 800.

GTechnology by Hitachi's main target markets are creative professionals and prosumers who demand performance, capacity and quality, and it has worked with Intel and Apple to enable Thunderbolt on its product line.

G-RAID is ready out of the box for use with Mac OS X systems and appears to the system as a single, big and fast disk drive. G-RAID also supports Windows systems with a simple reformat.

G-RAID is backed by a standard 3-year factory warranty and unlimited free technical support by representatives experienced with the latest content creation applications.

G-RAID with ThunderboltFeature Summary:

  • Ultra-fast, high-performance Thunderbolt technology
  • Double the data transfer rates of USB 3.0
  • Over 12 times faster than FireWire 800
  • Dual Thunderbolt ports
  • Daisy-chain up to 6 Thunderbolt compatible peripherals
  • RAID 0 for maximum performance
  • Supports multi-stream HDV, DVCPro HD, XDCAM HD, ProRes 422 and uncompressed SD workflows
  • Time Machine-ready, plug-and-play setup on Mac OS
  • Up to 8 TB storage capacity
  • 7200 RPM drive technology

Specifications:

  • Interface: (2) Thunderbolt
  • Disk Drives: Type 2x SATA II - RPM 7200 - Cache Up to 32 MB per drive (64 MB on 6 TB and 8 TB units)
  • Cooling System: Thermo-regulated, quiet smart fan
  • RAID Controller: Hardware RAID 0
  • Size (LxWxH): 9.25" x 5.125" x 3.374"
  • System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6

G-RAID with Thunderbolt is available in 4 TB, 6 TB, and 8 TB capacities. Pricing is $699.99, $849.99, and $999.99 respectively.

Software

CameraBag 2 Canon 5D Mk III Giveaway

PR: Try the new CameraBag 2 for Mac and PC free, and enter to win a camera. NeverCenter is giving away one pro-level Canon 5D MK III digital SLR (body only, MSRP $3,499), CameraBag 2 sweepstakesand 30 licenses of CameraBag 2. To enter, just edit a photo in the free trial (or full version) of CameraBag 2, post it to your favorite social media or photo-sharing site, and send us the link. Submission deadline is May 22nd, 2012. (Read below for full instructions. If you don't follow the instructions, your entry won't count!)

This is a sweepstakes, not a photography contest; the artistic quality of your entry will not affect your chances of winning, though we'll post a gallery of some of our favorites. You can enter multiple times but they'll only consider the most recent entry from each person. (Multiple submissions will have no effect on your odds of winning.) Must be a U.S. citizen 18 or older to enter.

How to enter:

  1. Download a free trial version of CameraBag 2.
  2. Post an image that you've manipulated in CameraBag 2 to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, or your personal blog. In addition to your own comments, your post must include the following text: "Here's my entry to win a free Canon 5D Mk III in the @CameraBag 2 giveaway (http://bit.ly/cb2-5d)"
  3. Submit your name and a link (in the form on the entry page) to where you've posted your image. Make sure the privacy settings on your post allow them to see it!

The photo must be taken by you. By submitting any of the ways below you are giving Nevercenter the OK to republish your photo. You retain the rights to the image, however.

Read the Official Sweepstakes rules in the popup on the sweepstakes page.

CameraBag 2 retails for $29 and is available as a 30-day free trial.

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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.

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