Mac News Review

Apple's Support Lead Shipping, Smartphones Outsell PCs, OS X Ported to ARM by Intern, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.02.10

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

Rights

Apple Updates

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple's Lead in Tech Support Quality Is Slipping

PR: Apple continues to lead Dell and HP in customer service quality for phone-based technical support, but Apple's support satisfaction among surveyed customers dropped significantly over the past 18 months, according to the latest study conducted by Vocal Laboratories Inc. (Vocalabs).

In telephone interviews immediately following a support call, 54% of Apple customers were Very Satisfied with the experience during the last six months of 2011, compared to 44% of Dell customers and 49% of HP customers. Apple's satisfaction score is down 19 points from the first half of 2010, while Dell and HP have generally held steady over the past two years.

Despite its significant decline, Apple continues to lead Vocalabs' survey in overall tech support quality

Looking at common complaints in 2011, fewer than 1% of Apple customers surveyed complained about the language skills of the support technician; much lower than the 8% of Dell customers and 10% of HP customers who reported similar issues. Many customers also complained about the extra cost of out-of-warranty tech support, but Apple saw fewer complaints here, too. About 1% of Apple customers volunteered a cost complaint in this study, as compared to 6% of Dell customers and 6% of HP customers.

"Despite its significant decline, Apple continues to lead our survey in overall tech support quality," said Peter Leppik, CEO of Vocalabs. "But where Apple used to be well ahead in nearly every measure of service quality, there are now areas where Apple is tied with, or even behind, its competitors."

Smartphone Sales Outnumbered PC Sales in 2011

PR: Canalys has released its full, detailed Q4 2011 country-level smart phone shipment estimates to clients, so completing the picture for the year. One notable result was that total annual global shipments of smart phones exceeded those of client PCs (including tablets, which Canalys calls "pads") for the first time.

Worldwide smartphone and PC shipments

Vendors shipped 158.5 million smart phones in Q4 2011, up 57% on the 101.2 million units shipped in Q4 2010. This bumper quarter took total global shipments for the whole of 2011 to 487.7 million units, up 63% on the 299.7 million smart phones shipped throughout 2010. By comparison, the global client PC market grew 15% in 2011 to 414.6 million units, with 274% growth in pad shipments. Pads accounted for 15% of all client PC shipments in 2011.

"In 2011 we saw a fall in demand for netbooks, and slowing demand for notebooks and desktops as a direct result of rising interest in pads," says Chris Jones, Canalys VP and Principal Analyst. "But pads have had negligible impact on smart phone volumes and markets across the globe have seen persistent and substantial growth through 2011. Smartphone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone. In the space of a few years, smart phones have grown from being a niche product segment at the high-end of the mobile phone market to becoming a truly mass-market proposition. The greater availability of smart phones at lower price points has helped tremendously, but there has been a driving trend of increasing consumer appetite for Internet browsing, content consumption and engaging with apps and services on mobile devices.

However, Canalys expects to see smartphone market growth slow in 2012 as vendors exercise greater cost control and discipline, and put more focus on profitability. Notably, even vendors who have focused on conquering the low-end of the market with aggressive pricing, such as Huawei, ZTE and LG, are now placing greater attention on the higher tiers. Flagship models aimed at raising selling prices and improving margins will feature more heavily this year.

Apple's impressive end to the year resulted in it becoming the leading smart phone and client PC vendor in Q4 2011, with shipments of 37.0 million iPhones, 15.4 million iPads and 5.2 million Macs. It also smashed the record for the most smart phones shipped globally by any single vendor in one quarter, beating Nokia's previous record of 28.3 million shipped in Q4 2010. Moreover, Apple's performance meant that it displaced Nokia, for the first time, as the leading smart phone vendor by annual shipments. Apple shipped 93.1 million iPhones in 2011, representing growth of 96% over 2010. The iPhone 4S benefited from pent-up demand resulting from the launch coming in October rather than June, but Apple's overall volume was also buoyed by continued shipments of the now more aggressively priced iPhone 4 and 3GS models.

Samsung also finished 2011 with a flourish. It shipped 35.3 million smartphones in Q4 2011 under its own brand, bringing its total to 91.9 million for the year, compared to just 24.9 million in 2010. This excludes shipments of rebranded products, such as the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, which Canalys counts under the Google brand. Samsung continued to spend big on marketing activities, and its strong product portfolio particularly the Android-based Galaxy S II performed well.

Despite a disappointing set of financial results, Nokia's smart phone performance in the fourth quarter gave cause for optimism. It shipped 19.6 million smart phones, down 31% from the record high of a year earlier, but up 17% on Q3 2011. The total was helped by 1.2 million and 0.6 million shipments of its Windows Phone and MeeGo-based products respectively, as well as improved Symbian Belle volumes from competitively priced devices such as the Nokia 500, 700 and 701. Its total smart phone shipments for the year came in at 77.3 million globally.

"Its first Windows Phone products, the Lumia 800 and 710, along with the recently announced Lumia 900 through AT&T in the US, have improved the outlook for Nokia," Canalys Senior Analyst, Tim Shepherd, observes. "They are well-designed, competitive devices that demonstrate innovation is still alive within Nokia. But the battle is not over and it has huge challenges ahead. Nokia must continue to build out its Lumia portfolio with devices tailored to address all price points and all the markets in which it aims to compete. It must hasten its transition from Symbian to Windows Phone around the world and, with Microsoft, promote and generate excitement for the platform and new products. And it must succeed in attracting more developers to build high quality, locally relevant apps."

worldwide smartphone market shipments by platform 2011

RIM's demise in 2011 has been overplayed by some, with the company ending the year as the fourth largest smart phone vendor and delivering annual unit growth of 5%. There is no denying that RIM has had a tough year, said Canalys Principal Analyst, Pete Cunningham. But when you consider that it is transitioning to a new platform it has done well to increase volume while remaining profitable; the latter point being something that many other vendors struggle with. The appointment of Thorsten Heins as CEO will bring new energy to the company while ensuring that it does not radically deviate from its overall strategy in this transitional year. However, 2012 will become even more competitive and RIM needs BlackBerry 10 devices out there to ensure it retains its status as a major player.

At a platform level, Android accounted for 52% of global smartphone shipments in Q4 2011, with iOS representing 23% and Symbian 12%. Android was also the leading smartphone platform by volume for the whole year, accounting for 49% of all devices shipped in 2011 and ahead of iOS with 19% share and Symbian with 16%. Collectively, Android smart phone shipments grew 149% year on year in Q4 2011 to 81.9 million units, resulting in a total of 237.8 million for the full year, up 244% on 2010. Samsung's success and focus on Android have contributed substantially to the growth of the platform, but other vendors, such as Sony Ericsson, Huawei, Motorola, LG and particularly HTC, have also seen significant growth in their Android volumes over the course of 2011.

OS X Ported to ARM by Apple Intern

Publisher's note: Despite the sensationalist headlines on other websites, bear in mind that this was done two years ago and that Apple has been porting the core of OS X to ARM for at least five years - that's what's at the heart of iOS, which was introduced with the iPhone in 2007. This really isn't news. dk

The Register's Anna Leach reports that a Dutch computer science student's work from 2010 has stirred the old rumor that Apple may ditch Intel and power its MacBooks with ARM processors.

Tristan Schaap's bachelor thesis, Porting Darwin to the MV88F6281, at the Delft University of Technology describes work he did at Apple as an intern: Getting the core of Mac OS X to run on an MV88F6281 processor, an ARM926EJ-S-compatible component made by Marvell, rather than silicon from Intel.

Written in after three months slaving away in Apple's Platform Technologies Group in Cupertino, Schaap's 16-page dissertation was embargoed for a year and published in August 2011 and noticed by AppleInsider earlier this week.

Tex-Edit Plus: A Simple Yet Powerful Text Editor

Mac 360's Ron McElfresh has posted a nice tribute to your humble editor's favorite and indispensable Mac OS text-crunching application, Tom Bender's superb $15 shareware Tex-Edit Plus.

McElfresh notes that he has about a dozen text editors, but uses one about 80% of the time, noting that he began using Tex-Edit Plus on his Mac somewhere back in the last century, finding it less cumbersome and complex than the equally venerable - and to some degree category-defining - BBEdit.

Recently updated for OS X 10.7 Lion compatibility, Tex-Edit, unlike many text editors or even word processors, is scriptable, and a full on ASCII text editor that also speaks AppleScript, Automator, and has powerful tools to clean up messy text. In a nod to modernity, Tex-Edit Plus also has two floating palettes for quick access to built-in editing Tools and Script Tools supported by its excellent and integrated implementation of AppleScript.

Tex-Edit Plus is also highly configurable with extensive preference choices, with dozens of other options available at the document level, including Tabs, Save options, Printing, imbedded graphics, video, and audio, and is even Speech-aware using the Mac's built-in voices.

You can author or record your own AppleScripts, choose from dozens of built-in Automator actions, or download dozens of off-the-shelf AppleScripts for an array of functions and shortcuts from the Tex-Edit Plus Archives (see below).

Editor's note: Do I sound enthusiastic? I am definitely a fan. cm

The Tex-Edit Plus Free AppleScript Archives

Here's where you'll find lots of free AppleScripts to use with Tex-Edit Plus (TE+).

Download your choice from 199 diverse and useful AppleScripts from the Archive, all written by and for Tex-Edit Plus users, all free to download.

Tex-Edit Plus (not to be confused with Apple's "TextEdit") is the remarkable and award-winning shareware text editor for Macintosh computers from Trans-Tex Software's Tom Bender.

Among its many amazing features is its ability to use AppleScripts via an AppleScripts menu. AppleScripts written for Tex-Edit Plus enhance and extend its functionality and versatility and enable users to customize Tex-Edit Plus for their own specific text creation and editing purposes.

Browse site by using Script Category links on the homepage, or use the search box at the top of every page to look for something specific.

Enjoy.

Rights

Google and Twitter Are Censoring the Web

PC Mag's John C. Dvorak says the future of the Internet seems bleak, but Americans are too busy playing Angry Birds to notice, noting that Twitter is essentially censoring its services in various countries to abide by local laws, and Google's Blogger.com intends to do the same thing - and this will carry over to Google+.

"This is the beginning of the end for the Internet," Dvorak predicts, citing a Fox News report that Google can now make content on its Blogger platform selectively available to users based on local laws, in a move similar to Twitter's new country-specific censoring ability, which prompted a backlash from critics. Under the changes, Google is redirecting users to country-specific domains for its Blogger sites, which will allow certain content to be blocked in countries "where censorship is required" - a phrase that speaks volumes.

Dvorak suggests that acceptance and tolerance of the notion of national censorship on a country-by-country basis will eventually lead to a completely censored and dumbed-down Internet, only useful for approved shopping, Twitter, and Facebook, the rationale being that we don't need an out-of-control information exchange in which fake information can be used to stir up the public, so content must be censored to protect the public from getting alarmed by crazy information. He further suggests that this dismal scenario will eventually lead to Internet licenses being required for blogging, podcasting, and just about everything else - and necessity to register with the government just to use the net.

This will happen, Dvorak observes, because evidently some 99.9% of the American populace don't give a crap, few ever doing deep searches or much of anything more than checking Facebook, buying stuff at Amazon, playing Angry Birds, and photo sharing.

Editor's note: Unhappily, I suspect Dvorak has the future nailed. cm

'You Will Never Kill Piracy'

Forbes' Paul Tassi says now that the SOPA and PIPA fights have died down, and Hollywood prepares its next salvo against Internet freedom with ACTA and PCIP, it's worth pausing to consider if the war on piracy could actually be won.

Tassi says it can't is the short answer, and one that these companies do not want to hear as they put their fingers in their ears and start yelling. However, Tassi maintains that as technology continues to evolve, the battle between pirates and copyright holders is going to escalate, and pirates are always going to be one step ahead.

He notes that legislation is not the answer. Piracy is already illegal in the US and most places around the world, yet it persists, not only underground, but often in plain sight.

What to do? Go the other direction, says Tassi. Realize that piracy is a service problem.

He also observes that no matter how much the movie and music industries hold their breath, stamp their feet, and doggedly claim that each download is a lost sale, that assertion is patently absurd. The primary problem movie studios have to understand is that everything they charge for is massively overpriced, and after the SOPA and PIPA debacle, Hollywood looks like a dinosaur, as out of touch as someone trying to kill radio or VCRs.

Apple Updates

Snow Leopard Security Update 2012-001 Version 1.1 Fixes Rosetta Issues

Along with the OS X 10.7.3 update (which itself has proved to be bug-plagued), Apple released Security Update 2012-001 for those of us who continue to use OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Soon it was being posted in forums that the Security Update was breaking Rosetta support for legacy PowerPC applications. After installing the update, users were reporting that Rosetta applications would no longer work properly - unable to open, crashing if they did, unable to create and save files, or unable to print.

Last weekend, Apple released Security Update 2012-001 v1.1, an update to the earlier update.

Apple recommends Security Update 2012-001 v1.1 for all Snow Leopard 10.6.8 systems users to improve the security of Mac OS X, noting that version 1.1 of this update removes the ImageIO security fixes released in Security Update 2012-001 that had addressed mishandling of certain kinds of TIFF image files.

For information on the security content of this update, visit: http://bit.ly/zVPN2r

Snow Leopard users can download this update via Software Update, or from Apple's Downloads page.

File Size: 192.73 MB

System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.6.8

EFI Update 1.8 for Mid 2010 iMacs

iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.8 enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection on iMac (Mid 2010) Models.

For more information about Lion Recovery, visit this website: http://www.apple.com/macosx/recovery/

System Requirements: OS X Lion 10.7.3

Software

Snapseed Photo Editor for OS X

Snapseed Photo Editor

PR: Snapseed for Mac OS is a photo app designed to enhance, transform, and share photos with ease using advanced features, such as:

  • Easily adjust your photos with the Tune Image filter, now featuring Auto Correct and Selective Adjust for precise editing
  • Experiment with fun & innovative filters like Drama, Vintage, Grunge, and Tilt & Shift
  • Add Image Borders for a finishing touch
  • Share your creations via email, Facebook and Flickr

Features

Basic Adjustments

  • Tune Image - Easily browse and adjust your photos with a single click using Auto Correct, tweak your photos to perfection with Tune Image or selectively adjust specific areas of them with revolutionary Control Points.
  • Use Ambience to create depth and vibrancy that uniquely adapts to colors and textures. Adjust White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, more.
  • Crop, Straighten & Rotate - Rotate 90 and/or straighten photos and easily crop images to remove distracting parts of your photo. Now includes standard aspect ratios.

Snapseed Photo Editor

Creative Enhancement

  • Black & White - Get that classic Black and White look with this darkroom-inspired filter.
  • Vintage - Make any photo look like a vintage color film photo from the 50s, 60s or 70s.
  • Drama - Add style with a custom effect specifically tailored to your photos.
  • Grunge - Give your photos a totally unique, hip, and dingy look.
  • Tilt & Shift - Create the classic compressed depth of field look of a miniature set or emulate the swings and tilts of a large format camera.
  • Details - Enhance details with traditional sharpening or the unique Structure control found in the Nik Software professional products.
  • Center Focus - Draw attention to the subject of your photo by blurring the surrounding background.
  • Frames - Add stylized borders to photos for the perfect finishing touch.

Sharing:

  • Email - Send images at original resolution.
  • Social - Share on Facebook and Flickr.

Help & Support

  • Get started quickly with help overlays, tutorial guide, and videos. If you ever get stuck, our support team can help.

Snapseed Photo Editor

New in Version 1.0.1

  • fixes a potential crash during Facebook authentication
  • fixes a potential problem with wrong output dimensions that may have occurred after cropping
  • fixes a problem that may have occurred when entering the Crop Filter while the image was zoomed in

System requirements:

  • Mac OS 10.6.6 and 10.7.2
  • Requires 64-bit processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or later
  • JPEG, TIFF (in RGB color mode), and RAW file formats

$19.99

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