The Rumour Mill

Madeleine Swain
23 May, 2014
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Good morning Rumour Wranglers, it’s the last day of the working week, so here is our favourite way of winding down towards the weekend, Macworld Australia‘s round-up of all that has been whispered, chuckled at and yelled from the rooftops about Apple this week. Without a single fact to actually back anything up…

 

And the Beats goes on… and on and on

Last week it was all about the supposed impending deal between Apple and Beats – the company founded by Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre that sells fashionable headphones and operates a comparatively small but well-regarded music streaming service. With an eyebrow-raising figure of US$3.2 billion being bandied about, interest was definitely piqued. And has that happened? Well, so far, it’s been crickets. So where does that leave all the pundits and proselytisers with column inches to fill?

Having to guess again of course. So all the rumour mongers this week have leapt onto a report from TechCrunch’s John Biggs. And when we say all, we mean quite a lot indeed. AppleInsider, MacRumors and MacDailyNews are all running with it for starters. Biggs writes that the deal has hit plenty of roadblocks but there is now a 70 percent certainty that it will go ahead. And contrary to earlier speculation, it has nothing to do with the technology or the hardware. It’s all about the talent. And being culturally aware. What do we mean by that? “Tim Cook’s recent behaviour – hiring Angela Ahrendts from Burberry, former Leica engineer Ari Partinen, Nike’s Ben Shaffer, and former CEO of Yves St Laurent, Paul Deneve – is indicative of an effort to stock the Apple larder with culturally aware and highly skilled managers,” writes Biggs.

Biggs has yet another of those unnamed ‘well-placed sources’ for his information. “They want Jimmy and they want Dre,” said the source. “He’s got fashion and culture completely locked up.”

The well-placed source also went on to claim that Krystal Kardashian isn’t at all put out by her sister Kringle stealing her NBA star boyfriend and dressing him in her tiger-striped lingerie, as they share everything in that family… what? Not the same well-placed source? And there isn’t one called Krystal? Or Kringle? Are you sure? OK, back to Apple then.

Ah! So it really is all about the people and their street cred. Apple wants to be down with the kids, why didn’t you say so? And it’s hiring people to help that happen. Very expensive people…

Andre Romelle Young (aka Dr Dre) with his Apple badge...

iO, iO, it’s off to work we go

WWDC is just around the corner (2 to 6 June in San Francisco – quick plug: make sure check back to this site from 3am on 3 June AEST, for our live updates and blog streamed directly from the event). So naturally there’s a fair amount of curiosity as to what we can expect. Apple has released a schedule sheet that is… yes, OK, pretty funny, but not even a little bit helpful. Basically a thesaurus of different ways of saying ‘we’re saying nothing’ (9am Shhhh, can’t tell you yet, 10.15 You’ll find out in a few days, 2pm This one’s a doozy), its lack of cold hard info means that, as ever analysts and Apple watchers are just having to make it up for themselves.

MacRumors is among those expecting to see the launch of iOS 8 in the morning keynote, but is also suggesting that even though WWDC is only 11 days away, there will be an update to iOS 7 before then.

The reason? Twofold – that pesky iMessage issue that has annoyed some users so much they’ve even started a lawsuit over it and the email attachment encryption issue. As the site notes, “iOS 7.1.2 would be the first iOS update since Apple’s promise of fixes, so it’s reasonable to assume those problems will be addressed in the forthcoming update”.

Why wouldn’t they just wait and address these bugs and fixes in iOS 8? Well, the expectation is that while iOS 8 will be revealed at WWDC, it won’t actually be released to the public until around September and those two issues have really become rather pressing. And just can’t wait.

An iWatch concept (left) compared with the Pebble Steel and Samsung Gear 2 by Martin Hajek (image: Macworld UK)

iWatch this space…

But what about a BIGGGGGG reveal at WWDC. Like a wearable, for instance? Like an iWatch? Our UK namesake has gone out on a limb on this one. Well, not really. Tentatively crawling out along a branch on all fours is more like it. But Macworld UK does suggest we MAY see an iWatch this year… actually two iWatches, if the old stalwart Ming-Chi Kuo is correct. And “the consensus is that we’ll see an iWatch at some point between August and October this year. However, there’s still some speculation to suggest that Apple may be planning to give us a sneak peek at the iWatch at WWDC 2014 in June”.

This same article has a whole bunch of other speculation about the rumoured upcoming wearable, including possible prices, features and shipment numbers. The latter is courtesy of Ming-Chi again, who “expects shipments of the iWatch to hit around 5.5 million units in 2014, and from 30 to 50 million units in 2015″. This is considerably fewer than the numbers predicted by a CIMB Group analyst referenced by DigiTimes, who reckons Apple will ship 63.4 million units this year alone. Er, it’s already May guys and the product hasn’t even been announced yet, let alone launched.

Perhaps neither Ming-Chi nor the CIMB analyst have seen the Neil Hughes article in AppleInsider today…

This is the one that examines a report from market research company NPD Group, that reckons the wearable category is being way overhyped and will slow down very quickly, shrinking by 2016 before evening out to “more moderate growth”.

Source: AppleInsider

 

iPhone, uPhone, we all scream for iPhone… 6

So if WWDC 2014 is really just one big question mark, other than updates to software, what else is there to wonder about? Well, the iPhone 6 for one thing. And this week’s ‘news’ in that department revolves around yet a couple of vaguely shonky looking photos – this time originating from Romania, which is nice. Always good to get around a bit with these things.

The iPhone 6 'metal brick' belonging to a Romanian accessory seller.

 

The shot is of “a metal brick fashioned into dimensions similar to those revealed in recent ‘leaked’ specifications for Apple’s so-called ‘iPhone 6′, ostensibly used for moulding cases to fit the next-generation handset” explains AppleInsider. The same pics were republished by MacRumors too.

AppleInsider notes the cutouts and features present as well as those noticeably absent. “Oddly, the microphone on the bottom of the device is the only one shown in the tool — the microphone found next to the camera on the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c is not present,” says the site, concluding, “the form is not designed as a mockup of the final product — it is, rather, a manufacturing tool — but the departures are suspect nonetheless.”

 

I spy with my little eye, Apple and the ISPs

Arstechnica has something a little different this week – an article about Apple’s relationship with internet service providers (ISPs). Reminding us that it’s long been believed that Apple is constructing its own content delivery network (CDN), the site now claims that “the company is negotiating paid interconnection deals with ‘some of the largest ISPs in the US’ in order to deliver Apple content to consumers”. So a deal whereby Apple pays ISPs for direct network connections?

This isn’t unprecedented of course, Netflix does the same. As do Microsoft, Google, Facebook and eBay. But Apple’s modus operandi seems a little more subtle than Netflix at least, claims analyst Dan Rayburn.

“I’m not going to disclose which ISPs they are talking to and what deals they have already done, but it’s interesting to note that with all the talk lately of net neutrality, peering and interconnect relationships, Apple isn’t out in the market making any complaints,” says Rayburn, adding, “Part of Apple’s reasoning for building their own CDN is because of performance issues with iCloud, with Apple wanting to have more control over the end-user experience. Apple already controls the hardware, the OS and the iTunes/App store platforms.”

It does sound as if it’s all part of the quiet world domination plan, part XCIX – Apple TV…

 

And that’s the Rumour Mill for this damp and delightful Friday morning. And always remember, “If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’. Bless you all.”

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