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Apple’s Mac Store cuts the clutter

a screenshot of Apple's Appstore. REUTERS/ Apple Inc1000 apps might not seem like a lot compared to the 300,000 offered for Apple’s iPhone, but there’s enough on offer at Apple’s new Mac App Store to cover most software bases, some of it deeply discounted.

The Mac App Store interface is easy to navigate, much like the iPhone and iPad sections on iTunes, with app icons arranged in rows.

However, if you’re not running OSX Snow Leopard on your Mac, you won’t even get that far. The store isn’t offered on computers running older Mac operating systems. The solution is to upgrade your OS, but that will run you $29. And you can’t download it, so you’ll have to have it shipped to you or pick it up at one of Apple’s retail outlets.

The difference between apps and software is virtual vs material. You’re not getting hard copy versions of the programs you buy when you purchase them through the Mac App Store. For some Apple-branded titles, like the popular photo editor Aperture, the savings can be substantial compared to how much they cost at brick-and-mortar stores and the online Apple Store.

Even third party software titles like Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro are substantially cheaper through the Mac App Store.

iPhone shortages “nice problem to have”

Tongues are still wagging about Apple’s blowout quarter, which saw the company brush past Wall Street forecasts, sending its shares north of $200. But as Wall Street waited breathlessly for the latest iPhone numbers, it was the company’s Mac line that stole the headlines, posting blockbuster 17 percent unit growth.

So what was the deal with the iPhone? Unit shipments rose 7 percent to 7.4 million units, far from chopped liver but just below the consensus estimate. What? Apple missed? Well it wasn’t quite that simple. Seems the company simply couldn’t keep up with all the folks clamoring to get their hands on the latest model, the 3G S.

Apple COO TIm Cook called it “a nice problem to have in the scheme of things,” and called 3G S demand “phenomenal.” He said demand simply outstripped supply in most of the countries where it was selling the device.

Apple’s new OS off to strong start

Apple’s new Snow Leopard operating system has hit the ground running, according to research data released Thursday

Sales during the first two weeks of Snow Leopard’s release “far exceed those of the last two Apple operating systems,” market research company NPD said. The group tracks U.S. retail sales. Snow Leopard launched Aug. 28, available as an upgrade at an affordable price of $29.

According to NPD, Snow Leopard sales were more than two times higher than those for the initial release of Leopard back in 2007, and almost four times higher than the Tiger OS in 2005.

Ballmer skeptical of Apple share gains

Never one to let an opportunity pass to tweak a competitor, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got off a few zingers at long-time rival Apple at the software giant’s analyst meeting on Thursday.

“Share versus Apple, you know, we think we may have ticked up a little tick, but when you get right down to it, it’s a rounding error,” he said. “Apple’s share change, plus or minus from ours, they took a little share a couple quarters, we took share back a couple quarters. But Apple’s share globally cost us nothing. Now, hopefully, we will take share back from Apple, but you know, Apple still only sells about 10 million PCs, so it is a limited opportunity.”

Shipments of Apple’s Mac PCs rose 4 percent in the June quarter, while the global PC market shrank 5 percent, according to Gartner.

Demand for iPhone outstrips supply

Setting aside some relatively impressive Mac sales, Apple’s iPhone was the true star of the company’s earnings drama on Tuesday–though the the device might be a little tough for some folks to to get their hands on in the near term.******Apple said it can’t meet current demand for the iPhone 3GS, which launched last month. The 3GS is available in 18 countries and is being rolled out this summer to another 80-plus countries.******Overall, the company sold 5.2 million iPhones in the June quarter, ahead of many analysts estimates. That total includes sales of the reduced-price $99 iPhone 3G.******Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said “the iPhone 3GS is constrained in virtually every country we’re shipping it in. So the demand has been very robust.”******He later added: “I don’t want to predict today when supply and demand will balance. I know that it will not balance in the short-term. And I don’t want to give a prediction because as you can guess, it’s very difficult to gauge the demand without having the supply there to find out what it is… In terms of affecting the country roll out, I believe the vast majority of the countries that we are selling the 3G in will be selling a 3GS by the end of the fiscal quarter. So it may move the date by a few weeks here or there.”******Cook also delivered some interesting factoids on iPhone adoption by large corporations. He said close to 20 percent of the Fortune 100 have bought at least 10,000 units or more.******But Cook stuck to the company line on AT&T, the exclusive iPhone carrier in the U.S. (“I think it’s an excellent relationship and we’re very happy with it”), and provided no new details on when the iPhone might launch in China.

Not rich enough to be a Mac person

Microsoft — ruffled by constant ridicule by Apple — launched its latest counter-punch last night with an explicit jab at its cool but expensive archrival in a prime-time ad featuring one thrifty young woman’s quest to find a 17-inch laptop for under four figures.

“Lauren”, a feisty, red-haired computer-shopper, is given $1,000 to score a laptop with a 17-inch screen, and told she can keep the change.

First stop: the Apple store. Cue disappointment. The cheapest Macbook laptop, with a 13-inch screen, is $999. Lauren consoles herself that she is “not cool enough to be a Mac person” anyway.

Apple schedules June conference

With the Apple’s developers conference now formally on the schedule for June 8-12, that leaves more than two full months for the rumor mill to really crank up.

With updates of Mac laptops, desktops and iPod shuffles already on the books, whispers, speculation and conjecture abound about what — if anything — the company has in store for the gathering, to be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

A new iPhone is a distinct possibility, analysts say. Apple released the 3G version at the event last year.

Seattle P-I prints last daily edition

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, after today, will be an online only paper, the latest casualty in the beleaguered newspaper business

The news is no better for papers in Tacoma, Boise and elsewhere

 

Keep an eye on:

    Walt Disney Co. has put the long-delayed expansion of its Hong Kong theme park on hold after failing to agree with the city’s government on a cash infusion (Reuters) U.S. retail sales of Apple Inc’s Mac computers fell 16 percent in February on a unit basis, even as low-cost netbooks helped Windows-based PCs sales rise 22 percent (Reuters)

Apple’s Mac rises again. Why?

Economy, schmeconomy.

In the midst of the worst U.S. recession in 27 years, Apple — ever the trailblazer — unveiled a new line of its aesthetically pleasing and — quite frankly — financially-straitening Mac desktop computers, canvassing the entire market spectrum starting from Mac Minis at under $600 to an all-singing, all-dancing, 8-core space-shuttle-launch-capable Mac Pro for a cool $3,299.

At first glance, it would seem Apple’s caved in to pressure and finally lowered prices on its flagship computers: the company says its new top-of-the-line Mac Pro comes $300 cheaper than predecessors, while still boasting cutting-edge performance with two of Intel’s quad-core Xeon processors and 6 GB of memory upgradeable to 32 GB. Apple’s reluctance to sacrifice margins — because it makes it that much harder to rebound once the economy does — has been legendary.

But for perspective — that sort of money can get you Dell’s latest, next-to-most-powerful gaming engine — albeit sans display — a high-performance, fully tricked-out machine capable of running Crysis with all video options maxed out and still find time to pick up the groceries on the side. (Specifications: www.dell.com).