Tag Archives: apple

A Boring Observation About the New iMac

The new Apple 27″ iMacs announced last month ships with a monitor with the insanely high resolution of 5120-by-2880. When you sit down in front of one of these you are looking at 5120 pixels wide * 2880 pixels high * 4 bytes per pixel = 56Mb of data.

To put that in perspective, the first computer I bought with my own money was a Commodore Amiga 500 in 1990. For the time it was an advanced machine with a special chip (the blitter) that could copy (according to Amiga Hardware Manual) almost 4 megabytes per second if you set things up juuuuust right and the wind was behind it.

That means that an Amiga working flat out could just manage to clear a retina display in slightly over 14 seconds, whereas the iMac can draw a whole frame every 60th of a second. Computing has come a long way in 24 years.

(adjusted for inflation, the iMac is probably cheaper as well)



Animoog is a really cool synthesizer emulator for the iPad that simulates the electronics of the old analogue synths that ruled the 70s before digital came along and ruined everything. The interface is a little daunting but it comes will a bunch of useful presets, and the UI encourages exploration with lots of knobs to twiddle and hidden panels to discover.

The awful secret I have discovered is that if you make an interesting enough sound (which isn’t hard to do) then any collection of notes sounds good. At the moment I am sitting on my pouch in the shade recreating the Blade Runner soundtrack by pressing random keys. That Vangelis was a terrible hack!

Apple iBook Store Open in NZ

Apple announced a whole bunch of stuff today; an iPad for little people, an iMac so thin you can shave with it, and some kind of hard drive technology that actually looks pretty cool. But buried amongst the big announcements was the fact that you can now buy new books through iBooks in New Zealand.

Screenshot of iBooks showing the New Zealand store

The iBook store has been open in New Zealand from the beginning, but up until today only offered free, out-of-copyright works to NZ accounts. These are all very well but sometimes you just want to read the latest paperback and buying an ebook is certainly convenient. I don’t mind paying for a good book and up until now I have been forced to go through Amazon’s (pretty good) Kindle service. But it is nice to have another choice.

Let us look at some prices, taken from random titles in the various new and featured sections:

Title iBooks Kindle
Graham Henry:Final Word $24:99 n/a (coming soon)
The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Destiny Rising $13:99 $9:85
The Casual Vacancy $28:99 $18:46
Fifty Shades of Grey $13:99 $12:30
A Dance with Dragons (Complete Edition) $13:99 $18:46

(All prices are in NZ dollars. iBooks lists things in NZ dollars and presumably charges GST. Amazon prices are in US dollars but I have converted them using the current exchange rate)

In this random selection of titles from recent “featured” titles, it seems that Amazon is mostly cheaper but not always so it pays to compare. Also, Amazon still has a better selection (Graham Henry’s book being a rare example of something on iBooks but not yet on Kindle), often with multiple editions of the same book available. As always, it pays to shop around.

Now all Apple has to do is hurry up and open the New Zealand TV store. We have waited long enough.

Apple Store vs. Microsoft Store

Apple’s network of shopping locations has been amazingly successful. I suspect they only got into retail in the first place because their products were always relegated to the back shelves in the normal computer stores, and even stores that specialised in Apple gear were strangely useless. For years it was almost impossible to find Apple hardware in any retail space in New Zealand at all.

Having their own retail space enables Apple to introduce products directly to customer without having to convince distributors to stock them, something that used to be a lot harder before Apple’s recent successes. My guess is that Apple Stores exist for that reason (and possibly branding) alone – retail space is expensive and I bet Apple makes no more profit on a iPad bought at an Apple Store compared to the same iPad from the Dick Smith next door.

What ever the reason, Apple’s relatively recent and totally proprietary secret strategy of selling products that people actually want at a price they are prepared to pay is paying off in spades.

Microsoft Store - lots of staff, few customers Apple Store, lots of customers

These are the competing Microsoft and Apple stores at the Valley Fair Shopping Center in San Jose. The Microsoft store is actually larger and more conspicuous than Apple’s and seems to have about the same number of staff. What it doesn’t have is many customers.

Personally, I am not sure why Microsoft has a store. I can’t think of a product that I would buy that I couldn’t get more easily from somewhere else, and Microsoft’s products have never had the same strong branding that Apple’s have. Even the Windows8 phones are better purchased through a phone company.

Maybe I just passed by at the wrong time, but I can’t see the Microsoft stores lifting Mircosoft’s brand (or profits). Microsoft has never had the problems Apple had getting it’s products into the market when it created the stores, and I just don’t see the point.