Mac News Review

Jobs' Love of Simplicity Launched a Design Revolution, Windows 8 'Worst Computing Experience', and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.08.31

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. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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News & Opinion

Steve Jobs' Admiration of Simplicity Launched a Design Revolution

In a major essay for Smithsonian magazine, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson notes that passionate to the point of obsessive about design, Jobs insisted that his computers look perfect inside and out. Isaacson notes that Jobs' interest in design began with his love for his childhood home in a subdivision between San Francisco and San Jose that had been developed by builders who, inspired by architects Frank Lloyd Wright and developers such as Joseph Eichler and his imitators, churned out inexpensive modernist tract houses in the 1950s for the postwar suburban migration that featured floor-to-ceiling glass walls, open floor plans, exposed post-and-beam construction, concrete slab floors, and lots of sliding glass doors.

Eichler home like the one Jobs grew up in
Eichler home like the one Jobs grew up in.

Jobs had related to Isaacson his appreciation for Eichler's vision in creating houses were smart and cheap and good, bringing clean design and simple taste to lower-income people, which instilled his passion for making sharply designed products for the mass market.

Isaacson notes that in an era not known for great industrial designers, Jobs working in partnerships with Hartmut Esslinger in the 1980s and Jony Ive starting in 1997 created an engineering and design aesthetic that set Apple apart from other technology companies and ultimately helped make it the most valuable company in the world, with the collaborators' guiding tenet being simplicity - not only the surface simplicity that comes from an uncluttered look and feel of a product, but more profoundly deep simplicity "that comes from knowing the essence of every product, the complexities of its engineering and the function of every component."

This article is a must-read for anyone interested in design.

Publisher's note: Amazingly, there's only one photo with the article. You'd think they'd include pictures - or at least links. dk

Apple Owners More Likely to Purchase Another Apple Device After Positive Tech Service

PR: Nearly 60% of Apple product owners said they are somewhat or much more likely to make another Apple purchase following their tech support experience, according to market research firm The NPD Group's Tech Services Study. The positive tech service also helped change consumer perception of Apple. 31% said they had a much more positive view of Apple after their service.

That service left almost all of the 40% of Apple owners who took their Apple devices to the Genius Bar very happy. Nearly 90% of consumers who used Apple's tech service said they were extremely or very satisfied. In contrast, top 2 box satisfaction among all consumer service interactions was 78%. A major part of their satisfaction came from the fact that only a small percentage actually paid for their service. According to the report, 88% of Genius Bar consumers said their service was free compared to 78% of all consumers.

The majority of the support was for troubleshooting (37%), followed by product repair (28%), how-to support (18%), software installation/upgrade (11%), and product installation/setup (7%).

"Tech support is a great service for the consumer, but more importantly its a brand-building element for the retailer and manufacturer," says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "People tend to associate any type of tech support as a negative experience, but Apple has demonstrated that those negatives can be turned into positive brand experiences and result in a trip back to the store."

Physical presence is key to creating those positive brand experiences. According to the study, consumers were more genuinely satisfied when their service was a personal interaction inside a retail store. 53% of consumers were extremely satisfied with their in-store experience, more so than any other type of service interaction. Younger consumers, despite their reputation as preferring more virtual interactions, were more likely than any other age group to want to use the service in the store, with 45% of respondents preferring this method.

"Retailers are rediscovering the value that services can offer the consumer," observes Baker. "Store foot traffic has declined over the years leaving fewer and fewer in-person interactions. Having a strong tech support in-store model helps fill the transaction void and builds brand awareness and satisfaction."


A US representative sample of approximately 2,000 adults (18+) completed on online survey through NPD's online panel in May 2012. Some of the participants were pre-identified as consumers who had returned or needed tech support on consumer electronic devices in the past 12 months.

Java 1.7 Exploit Unlikely to Impact Mac Users

TUAW's Michael Rose reports that he asked for some data from CrashPlan, which, because the online/peer backup service requires Java, its userbase represents a good proxy for the Java installed versions on the Mac.

Rose says CrashPlan's cofounder Matthew Dornquist quickly responded with a random sample of 200,000 recent users, and his numbers show that the overwhelming majority of CrashPlan's Mac users are still using Java 1.6 (92%) with a small minority on the older 1.5 version, so the percentage running the 1.7 version targeted by the malware is approximately zero.

"It's not often that we find ourselves thankful for out-of-date software, but there it is," Rose observes.

Tech Trends

Windows 8 'the Worst Computing Experience I've Ever Had'

PC Games' Tim Edwards says that as a cruel trick on himself, about a month ago he installed Windows 8 on his main PC to see what it was like.

He doesn't like it and doesn't hold back in explaining why in painstaking, caustic detail, observing:

"I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Windows 8 is the worst computing experience I've ever had."

"I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Windows 8 is the worst computing experience I've ever had. As a desktop operating system, it's annoying, frustrating, irritating, and baffling to use. I've tried on many occasions to explain exactly why it's so awful to use day-to-day, and most of the time, smoke starts pouring out of my ears. I thought it would be better to get down exactly what the issues are and why you should avoid it."

Then he really lets fly.

He takes particular umbrage at how Microsoft have managed to break one of the basic functions of a personal computer GUI - switching between running programs, noting that Windows programs in the interface mode formerly known as Metro have no window controls and take up the entire screen. Therefore, there's no easy way to switch between them using onscreen controls. You have to engage in unfamiliar mouse movements to swap between them, and adding insult to injury, core apps that offer basic OS functionality are Metro-only. And in Edwards' estimation "they're awful" like all other Metro apps, such as the email app which he says is horrendous - the worst email client he's ever used, while there are two versions of Internet Explorer, both bad.

There's more. Much more.

IDC Lowers PC Outlook as Shipments Decline Ahead of Fall Product Updates

PR: The worldwide PC market is now expected to grow just a minuscule 0.9% in 2012, as midyear shipments slow. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, 367 million PCs will ship into the market this year, up just a fraction of a percent from 2011 and marking the second consecutive year of growth below 2%.

Slowing growth in Asia/Pacific has reduced the impact of emerging market growth, while more mature regions like the United States have seen volume decline. Consumers have been hit by weak economic conditions, but are also waiting to see what Windows 8 and Ultrabook products will look like while considering spending instead on other products like media tablets and smartphones. Product updates later this year should revive PC growth, IDC predicts, but it will be a more pronounced competitive environment with likely some confusion among buyers about new product features as well as where they will get the most value for their money.

Total Worldwide Desktop vs. Porable PC Shipments

IDC anticipates that uncertainty about product updates should be largely addressed by the end of this year and may be accompanied by a modest improvement on the economic front. Still, consumers and businesses alike are expected to remain cautious with spending and when deciding to replace older products. This will put a damper on medium- and long-term growth prospects, both of which were lowered slightly in the medium- and long-range forecast. IDC now expects worldwide PC shipment growth will average 7.1% from 2013-2016, down from the 8.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) previously forecast for 2012-2016.

"The US market will remain depressed until Windows 8 products hit the shelves in the fourth quarter of 2012," says David Daoud, research director, Personal Computing at IDC. "The industry is responding by reducing shipments of PCs and clearing Windows 7-based inventories to pave the way for a new generation of systems. But, as we move into the tail end of the third quarter, PC activity will continue to slow as demand drops. The third-quarter back to school season is also proving to be a challenging period, despite prices dropping to their lowest levels. We expect the year will end with shipments in the US falling by 3.7%, marking the second consecutive year of contraction."

"IDC remains optimistic that PC penetration opportunities in emerging markets will form the bulwark of the market and help sustain double-digit Portable PC growth in the long run. However, a host of all-too-familiar variables will lead to a subdued second half of the year with only consumer notebooks remaining in growth mode for all of 2012," says Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "Factors such as Windows 8 coupled with Ultrabooks could present a positive turn of events next year, but it also faces some initial hurdles; chief of which is that buyers must acclimate themselves to an operating system that is a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms. The PC ecosystem faces some work to properly educate the market."

PC shipments by region and form factor

Mature Markets include US, Western Europe, Japan, and Canada. Emerging Markets include Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America, Central and Eastern Africa, Middle East and Africa.

PC shipment volume growth by region and form factor

Desktop and portable PC shipments for both mature and emerging markets during the 2011-2016 forecast.

Taxonomy Note: PCs include desktop, mini notebook, and other portable PCs, and do not include handhelds or media tablets such as the Apple iPad or Android tablets

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data in 80 countries by vendor, form factor, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment.

Many Prospective Digital Camera Buyers Plan to Spend More than Twice the Average Point-and-Shoot Price

PR: Digital camera owners who plan to buy a new camera within the next year are willing to spend more than they were two years ago, according to market research firm The NPD Group's Next Camera Study Part II. Over a quarter of current digital camera owners stated they were at least somewhat likely to purchase a camera during the coming year. Among them, 46% said they would spend $300+, up nearly 10 percentage points from 2010 and more than twice the current point-and-shoot average selling price of $149.

spending intention on next camera"Even though the percent of current digital camera owners who said they were going to purchase a new device hasn't changed much since 2010, the fact that those who want to buy are willing to spend more than they were two years ago will certainly help boost a market that has been declining," says Liz Cutting, executive director and senior imaging analyst at NPD. "That willingness to invest more in their next digital camera should greatly help the mirrorless segment where consumers are looking for high quality in a small package."

Among those intending to spend at least $200 on their next camera, awareness of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras shot up to 40%, double that of 2010. According to the survey, consumers who said they were considering purchasing a mirrorless camera were most attracted to the high image quality of the camera, followed by interchangeable lens capacity and compact size. Some of the biggest barriers for consumers were willingness to spend at least $500, and perceived potential lack of DSLR quality.

"Mirrorless cameras are much higher on consumers radar screens and are being held both to a high quality standard while at the same time are being sized up for value," says Cutting. "Marketers of mirrorless cameras must prove that big things come in small sizes, and are worth the investment."

A US representative sample of 3,200 adults from NPD's online panel took part in the survey from June 20 to July 5.


Free Shade Utility Hides Your Messy Desktop with the Click of a Button

PR: Shade is a new, free OS X utility that hides your messy Desktop under the photo or graphic of your choice with the click of a button. Just drag an image to the Shade icon. Click the Shade leaf icon to turn Shade on and off. Shade is Retina Display compatible.

Messy desktop? Shade

System requirements:

  • OS X 10.6 or later
  • 64-bit processor

Shade is freeware

Available on the Mac App Store.

AnyClient Web Launches Free Online FTP Client

AnyClient WebPR: JSCAPE has announced the release of AnyClient Web, an intuitive Web based file transfer client available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. AnyClient Web supports all major file transfer protocols including FTP/S, SFTP, WebDAV, AFTP and Amazon S3.

"Users need to be able to transfer files without having to locate, purchase, install and learn complicated file transfer software. AnyClient solves this problem by offering a simple web based file transfer client that is accessible from anywhere in the world. Best of all it's completely free," says JSCAPE CEO Van Glass.

AnyClient Web is a perfect solution for users looking for a no-hassle method of transferring files, and claimed to be especially popular with users connecting from shared computing environments where the installation of file transfer software is prohibited such as in Internet cafes and university computer labs.

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