Mac News Review

Half of Desktop Dollars Go to Apple, Firefox Tops IE in Germany, Creature Speakers Return, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.12.04

MacBook, PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Reviews

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Takes Nearly Half of Retail US Desktop Sales Revenues - and One-Third in Laptops

BetaNews's Joe Wilcox reports that Mac US retail desktop computer revenue share in October was 47.7% - up from 33.4% a year earlier, according to NPD - "a stunning number, given just how many Windows PC companies combined command so much more market share, while competing for the same revenue share."

Wilcox muses that Apple likely can't sustain such high desktop dollar share, but cites an industry expert saying even a decline to 40% revenue share would put Apple far ahead of every competitor selling Windows PCs, and that that Mac desktop revenue share had already risen to 44.9% by April 2009, well before the recent release of the hot-selling new 21.5" and 27" iMacs.

As for Mac notebooks' share of the revenue pie, NPD tracked that at 33.7% in October, up from 30.1% in April but down from 38.1% a year ago. Portable computer sales are the fastest-growing PC market segment, and Apple has the advantage of its notebook Average Selling Price (ASP) being nearly three times that of the typical Windows notebook at $1,410 vs. $519 respectively in October, according Wilcox (citing NPD data). A similar ratio applies with desktop computers.

Wilcox predicts that notwithstanding the Windows 7 rollout, that Mac overall US retail revenue share will stay well above one-third for notebooks and more than 40% for desktops.

Editor's note: Keep in mind that this is only includes retail sales, and are where Dell, which deals primarily on online sales, has a minimal presence. There is no indication how well the Apple Store is doing in the online market. According to recent figures, HP and Dell each have about 26% of the overall US market in units sold, compared with 8.8% for Apple. (Worldwide, Apple doesn't even make the Top 5 list, and Dell, which vies with HP for top spot in the US market, falls to third place.) dk

Apple Mac mini and MacBook Family Ace Sust-it's Eco Energy Charts

UK-based Sust-it has published its desktop and laptop energy usage roundup, citing Apple as among the most energy efficient computers. Apple's Mac mini (the March 2009 version) shot to the top of its energy efficiency chart for desktop computers, and Apple portables nail down five spots of the Top 10 in the laptop category. Having been slated by Greenpeace in 2006, when it launched its Green My Apple campaign, Apple has responded by making its products more recyclable, removing toxic materials, and now proving that it can make fast and energy efficiency computers too.

Ross from Sust-it says, "There's a staggering difference between the energy consumption of computers in the marketplace; you could save nearly £150 per year on electricity in choosing the most efficient models. We've been highlighting these savings through our unique ranking system, and it's great news that Apple has responded to the environmental issues; I hope other manufacturers will follow their lead."

By using Sust-it's energy consumption website, which ranks over 5,000 electrical products by their energy efficiency, you can spot those devices that contribute to your inflated electricity bills and CO2 emissions. You could save over £600 a year by buying energy saving products.

In the survey results, computers are ranked by annual running cost based on in-use power consumption using data published by their manufacturers and with electricity costs calculated at UK National Average Tariff of 13.94p per unit.

Calculations per year are based on Energy Star "TEC" estimates for annual energy consumption.

Sust-it's calculations include the lower tariff rates if a product's power consumption exceeds the applicable kWh break points. Calculations do not take into account unknown variables (e.g., other appliances/lights that may take annual usage above the tariff rate breakpoint) or standing charges (where applicable).

Highest Rated Desktop Computers

Model

CPU/hard drive

Sleep

Idle

Off

kg CO2/year

Cost/year

1. Mac mini

2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo, 120 GB HD

1.71W

12.6W

0.94W

21.25

£6.89

2. Mac mini

2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo, 320 GB HD

1.71W

12.6W

0.94W

21.25

£6.89

3. Mac mini

2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo, 120 GB HD

1.82W

13W

0.96W

21.92

£7.11

4. Mac mini

2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo, 320 GB HD

1.82W

13W

0.96W

21.92

£7.11

5. Asus Eee Box B204

1.6 GHz Intel Atom PC

1.35W

13.71W

1.11W

23.21

£7.52

No other Apple machines made the top 40.

Highest Rated Laptop Computers

Model

CPU

Sleep

Idle

Off

kg CO2/year

Cost/year

1. HP Pavilion DM3

2.26 GHz Intel Laptop

0.85W

6.83W

0.52W

9.21

£2.99

2. MacBook Air (MC233)

1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.07W

6.7W

0.56W

9.24

£3.00

3. MacBook Air (MC234)

2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.07W

6.7W

0.56W

9.24

£3.00

4. MacBook (MC207)

2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.21W

8.3W

0.56W

11.10

£3.60

5. Panasonic CF-F8G

2.40 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.83W

8.07W

0.72W

11.44

£3.71

These Apple laptops made the top 20 laptops:

Model

CPU

Sleep

Idle

Off

kg CO2/year

Cost/year

8. 13" MacBook Pro (MB990)

2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.11W

9W

0.47W

11.65

£3.78

9. 13" MacBook Pro (MB991)

2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.11W

9W

0.47W

11.65

£3.78

12. MacBook (MC240)

2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo

0.99W

9.3W

0.53W

12.08

£3.92

14. 15" MacBook Pro (MC118)

2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.14W

10W

0.47W

12.79

£4.15

16. 15" MacBook Pro (MB985)

2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.13W

9.9W

0.59W

12.95

£4.20

17. 15" MacBook Pro (MB986)

2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.13W

9.9W

0.59W

12.95

£4.20

18. 15" MacBook Pro (Z0GH)

3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo

1.13W

9.9W

0.59W

12.95

£4.20

The Sust-it site is constantly updated and contains a wide range of products from TVs to chest freezers. You can even switch between electricity tariffs so you can see what other energy providers have in-store and calculate your CO2 emissions - it even works on the iPhone.

Editor's note: It strikes us as odd that Sust-it considers the Mac mini as two separate 2.0 GHz and 2.26 GHz models because of different hard drive capacities, particularly since the energy ratings are identical for both drives. Still, that gives Apple the top two spots. dk

Operating System Market Share for November 2009

It's been a couple of months since we looked at Hitslink's OS and Browser market share figures. Four months ago NetApplications revised the methodology it uses to tally its HitsLink Market Share statistics to a new system of weighting the data, which now gives more prominence to page views globally based on the estimated size of each country's Internet population, rather than focusing mostly on the US and other Western markets as had previously been the case.

So here's the Operating System Total Market Share rundown of the significant players for November, 2009, based on the new calculating methodology (Sept. '09 figures in parentheses) showing no change over the past two months in the Mac OS's favor, but essentially no change for Windows either. Things have remained remarkably static across the board.

Operating System Market Share, November 2009
Operating System Market Share, November 2009

  1. Windows 92.52% (92.77%)
  2. Mac 5.12% (5.12%)
  3. Linux 1.00% (0.95%)
  4. iPhone 0.36% (0.35%)
  5. JavaME 0.46% (0.30%)
  6. Symbian 0.19% (0.15%)
  7. iPod touch 0.07% (0.07%)
  8. Windows Mobile 0.04% (0.04%)
  9. Playstation 0.03% (0.03% )
  10. Android 0.03% (0.02%)
  11. BlackBerry 0.30% ( 0.02%)
  12. Palm 0.01% (0.01%)
  13. FreeBSD 0.01% (0.01% )
  14. SunOS 0.01% (0.01%)

In terms of OS specific versions, Windows 7 has gained ground on Windows XP and Vista, and Snow Leopard has leapfrogged Tiger:

OS Market Share by OS Version, November 2009
OS Market Share by OS Version, November 2009

  • Windows:
    • Windows XP 69.05% (71.91%)
    • Windows Vista 18.55% (18.62%)
    • Windows 7 4.00% (1.52%)
    • Windows 2000 0.69% ( 0.988%)
    • Windows 98 0.09% (0.13%)
    • Windows ME 0.04% (0.11%)
    • Windows NT 0.09% (0.11%)
  • Macintosh:
    • Mac OS X 10.5 2.65% (3.45%)
    • MacOS X 10.6 1.38% (0.77%
    • Mac OS X 10.4 0.84% (0.96%)
    • iPhone 0.36% (0.35%)
    • Mac OS X (no version reported) 0.22 (0.27%)
    • iPod 0.07% (0.07%)
    • Mac OS X Mach-O 0.06% (0.08%)
  • Linux 1.00% (0.95%)

Browser Market Share for November 2009

Turning to browsers, Firefox browser still is nibbling away at Internet Explorer's erstwhile hegemony and now enjoys just shy of one-quarter of the browser market, while Safari has also gained some ground over the two months, and Firefox was the biggest gainer among browsers with Google's newcomer Chrome solidly in fourth place, with a Mac beta version expected any day now, Opera scratching out a it more ground and Opera Mini now the 6th place browser.

Browser Total Market Share (August figures in parentheses)

Browser Market Share, November 2009
Browser Market Share, November 2009

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - 63.62% (65.71%)
  • Firefox - 24.72 (23.75%)
  • Safari 4.36% (4.24%)
  • Chrome - 3.93% (3.17%)
  • Opera - 2.31% (2.19%)
  • Opera Mini - 0.46% (0.30%)
  • Netscape - 0.30 (0.35%)
  • Mozilla - 0.10% (0.11%)
  • Konqueror - 0.05% (0.04%)

Firefox Brings an End to 10 Years of Internet Explorer Dominance in Germany

Fittkau & Maaß consulting have issued a report (in German) indicating that Firefox had displaced Internet Explorer as the most popular browser in Germany - the first time since 1999 that IE has not held the top spot in the German market.

German Browser Market Share, 1996 to 2009
German Browser Market Share, 1996 to 2009

Apple Settles with Psystar, May Leave Door Open for Install-It-Yourself Mac Clones

NBC Bay Area's Jackson West reports:

"Want an Apple Macintosh computer but don't want to pay the sticker price at the Apple store? You're not alone.

"...in a partial settlement announced yesterday, there may be hope yet for customers looking to install Mac OS on a computer running any old Intel processor.

"While the exact terms of the settlement haven't been fully disclosed, a district court judge has imposed an injunction on Psystar selling machines with Apple's operating system already installed...."

What's So Great About a Mac?

The University of Denver Clarion's Alex Gallegos says:

"As time goes by, I'm becoming increasingly annoyed at the number of people who seem to have become enamored with the Macintosh operating system. I say this not because I have anything against the notions of free choice or people having their own opinions.

"I say it because most of the arguments that I hear about why Macs can thrash any Intel machine out there are based on an almost complete lack of knowledge about how computers actually work."

Editors' note: Uhhhhh, since 2006 Mac are Intel machines. Most of the arguments in this screed are recycled boilerplate we've been hearing since the early '90s, viz: the "Fischer (sic) Price" interface shot....

Get USB 3.0 in Your Existing Mac? Maybe

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says:

"With the release of the original 'Bondi Blue' iMac, Apple was one of the first to adopt USB technology, but was a little late on getting USB 2.0 implemented. USB 3.0 is just around the corner, and I've wondered whether we will see Apple jump on the bandwagon or wait for another technology. Regardless of what Apple decides to do, claims around the release of new external drives from Buffalo Technologies suggest Mac Pro and some Power Mac users may already have a USB 3.0 option available.

"Buffalo Technology recently announced their latest hard drives with USB 3.0 support, beating speculation that these devices would not arrive until next year . . . As for what this means with regards to USB 3.0 in Macs, the drives apparently ship with a USB 3.0 PCI-express (sic) card that can be dropped in and used on any system, and according to the press release they are compatible with both PCs and Macs."

Editor's note: In an update, Kessler notes, "unfortunately the supplied PCI-e card will not work in OS X." The problem is drivers for the Mac OS. dk

Reviews

In Depth with Snow Leopard Server

Computerworld's Ryan Faas reports:

"I've worked with various versions of Apple's Mac OS X Server for nearly a decade now. Each new release has brought major advances to the company's server software in terms of overall features, performance and ease of administration. The most recent iteration, version 10.6 a.k.a. Snow Leopard Server - is no exception.

"It offers a number of advances compared to Leopard Server (v. 10.5), which was released two years ago.

"These changes include performance gains, improvements to several collaboration tools introduced in Leopard Server, enhanced simple administration for non-technical users and new features designed for mobile access and for supporting the iPhone."

For current prices, see our roundup of OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" prices.

Mac mini Gets Down to Business with Snow Leopard Server

MacNewsWorld's John P. Mello Jr. reports:

"Though the Mac mini was originally marketed only as a tiny personal desktop, some users recognized its potential as a pint-sized server. Apple responded by creating a special server version of the mini. It drops the optical drive and ties in stout hardware, server-class software and an optional enterprise support plan. And unlike some other servers, it doesn't look so ugly that you want to make it live in a closet."

Mello cites cyberpunk author William Gibson, who once wrote, "The street finds its own use for things," noting that's been the case for the Mac mini since its introduction in 2005, which, while originally marketed as a personal computer, quickly gained street cred as a media server for the blossoming digital living room, and that now Apple has given its mighty mite a proper server configuration in the hopes of moving the white box from the home to the office with the new $999 Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server that was introduced last month.

For current prices, see our roundup of Mac mini prices.

27" iMac 'the Fastest All-in-One on the Market'

ZD Net Australia's Rich Brown reports:

"If we could, we'd take points away from this iMac simply because by giving it a 27-inch display Apple threatens our livelihood. You don't need our input to simply walk past the 27-inch iMac on a store shelf and recognise that it's the largest all-in-one currently available, and that it has a reasonable price tag relative to its size advantage. Look deeper into this . . . iMac and you'll find a desktop that's equal parts compelling and polarising.

"Some new features, like the SD Card slot, the now-standard wireless mouse and keyboard, and the LED backlight, have obvious appeal. The glossy screen coating, the limited (for now) bidirectional functionality of the Mini DisplayPort, and the absence of both a Blu-ray drive and a quad-core processor all provide openings for criticism. For us, however, and we expect for many others, the screen trumps most of our concerns."

21.5" iMac Merits PCMag's Editor's Choice

PCMag's Joel Santo Domingo calls the new iMac "the ultimate all-in-one, now with the ultimate display," noting that the $1,199 21.5" iMac is a study in duality, sporting the AppleDesign and mystique that looks and feels pricey, but the system is also a lot less expensive than the 27" version and still manages to fit true 1080p HD screen resolution, a speedy 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, and wireless everything into an attractive aluminum and glass all-in-one desktop, summarizing: "It's the Mac desktop to get if you want to get multimedia work done, and as such earns our nod for Editors' Choice."

Macworld's 27-inch iMac arrived with a cracked screen
This 27" iMac arrived with a cracked screen.

Is the 27" iMac All It's Cracked Up to Be?

Macworld's James Galbraith says that the quad-core iMac may among the fastest Mac models. But the 27" all-in-one desktop might be at risk for a feature that Mac users will not find as impressive - a cracked display, noting that the 27" Core i7 iMac Macworld used in benchmark testing arrived at their offices earlier this month with a cracked screen.

Products & Services

They're Back: The Beloved JBL Sci-Fi Speakers Return

PR: Harman International announces the availability of the JBL Creature III, a stylishly updated version of the popular three-piece speaker system that originally landed on desktops in 2002. An ideal gift for the music lover, the gamer or the college student, the JBL Creature III's refreshed design boasts a more streamlined, airy feel while staying true to its sci-fi roots. The Creature III subwoofer is now more compact, making it an easy addition to any desk, dorm room or small living space.

The quirky-cool JBL Creature III audio system features the legendary JBL sound quality combined with a funky, futuristic design. Available in black and white, these stylish speakers also glow from the bottom, adding another dimension of geek chic to their eccentric look. The Creature III is a plug and play solution that is compatible with Mac and PC platforms, portable music players and gaming consoles. The Creature III delivers a straightforward interconnect technology, which allows for minimal desktop wiring and an effortless user interface.

Our inspiration for the Creature series was rooted in our weariness with static, six-sided box designs so commonly seen on desktop speaker systems, said Kurt Solland, vice president of Industrial Design for Harman International's consumer group. The idea of a creature bubbling next to your desktop with acoustic waveguides that look like face masks gives the system a distinctive personality that our consumers love.

Creature fans enjoyed the style of the previous designs and will be excited that the Creature III is back in time for the holidays, said Christopher M. Dragon, director of Consumer and Field Marketing for Harman International. The Creature III stays true to Harman International's longstanding reputation for unbeatable sound quality and forward-thinking designs that create the best experience in music and gaming.

The JBL Creature III speaker system features soft-touch tactile controls, which require only a slight touch to increase/decrease volume or mute the system. The unit also has the ability to recall the volume settings in use when the system was last used.

The JBL Creature III incorporates the latest in Odyssey transducer technology and JBL's heritage of high-quality speaker performance to produce impressive bass response and clear midrange tonality, which those seeking impressive sound can appreciate.

The JBL Creature III is compatible with all computer platforms, along with analog stereos, game consoles, digital music players and personal CD players. The JBL Creature III has a suggested retail price of $129.99 and will be available exclusively at Apple retail stores and at www.apple.com.

Product Specifications

  • Colors: Black, White
  • Input requirement: 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo minijack
  • Drivers: 1-5/8" (40mm) in satellites, 3" (75mm) in subwoofer
  • Power: satellites 5 watts each (10% THD+N), subwoofer 15 watts total (10% THD+N)
  • Satellite dimensions: 3" x 3" x 2-3/4" (75mm x 75mm x 70mm)
  • Subwoofer dimensions: 9" x 9" x 9" (230mm x 230mm x 230mm)
  • Input impedance: >5k ohms
  • Frequency response: 50Hz 20kHz
  • Input sensitivity: 400mV RMS for rated power

Suggested retail: $129.99

The JBL Creature III speakers are available for preorder from Amazon.com for $129.95 shipped. It can also be used with iPods, MP3 players, and other electronics with a standard 1/8" headphone jack.

Software

Scribus: Open Source DTP Software

PR: Scribus is an Open Source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/Unix, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation and Windows desktops with a combination of "press-ready" output and new approaches to page layout. Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, Spot Colors, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation

After almost 2 years of intensive work, the Scribus Team announces the release of Scribus 1.3.5. This release is a major development version on the road to milestone 1.4, which will be based on 1.3.5.

Scribus is powerful software that helps you create great looking documents of all kinds. It also comes with a lot of support options to help you achieve the best result. There is an enthusiastic and friendly community around Scribus that assists beginner and pro alike through our mailing list, IRC channel, wiki, contracted support, and the bug tracker.

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers monthly:

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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