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Technology Stocks : Apple Inc. -- Ignore unavailable to you. Want to Upgrade?

To: Don Green who wrote (51241)2/21/2006 10:54:09 PM
From: Cogito  Read Replies (1) | Respond to of 211862
Don -

It's interesting how some people insist on saying that Apple is either a hardware company or a software company. People seem to have differing views about which one it is, but many of them insist the company is one or the other.

Now we're supposed to believe they are primarily a hardware company because of the success of the iPod. This is ludicrous. The success of the iPod is absolutely not a function of hardware alone, as anyone who has one could tell you.

Apple is a company that uniquely combines and integrates hardware and software to build computers, and other devices, better than anyone else. If you separate one from the other, you don't get the Apple experience.

John Dvorak is a knowledgable person, and he is interesting partly because he's always willing to think outside the box. In this article, he does not predict that Apple will drop OS X and move to Windows, as he predicted they would move to Intel chips, he's just talking about the possibility and why he thinks it would make sense.

I think he's completely wrong, because for all of his experience in the PC world, he doesn't understand Apple or their products any more than you do, Don. The man just doesn't "get" Apple. And why should he? He's a PC guy, mired in a PC world.

- Allen

To: Don Green who wrote (51241)2/22/2006 10:53:07 AM
From: JP Sullivan  Read Replies (1) | Respond to of 211862
Maybe MSFT should license MacOS X instead. That would improve Windows overnight. MSFT can then trim their bloated R&D budget and return some of that money to shareholders. All those misspent billions with next to nothing to show for it. Sheesh!


To: Don Green who wrote (51241)3/1/2006 12:58:08 PM
From: William F. Wager, Jr.  Read Replies (1) | Respond to of 211862
Over High-Fidelity, Companies Attempt to Refocus on Sound...

The Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2006; Page D1

Bill Macomber can't remember the last time he bought a CD, much less listened to one. In fact, he no longer owns a CD player, other than the one built in to his laptop computer. The 32-year-old Los Angeles video editor listens to his music almost exclusively on one of the two iPods he owns, amplified by a $150 device called an iPal: a single, compact speaker, powered by a rechargeable battery.

Mr. Macomber is the kind of consumer that Apple Computer Inc. is targeting with its new iPod Hi-Fi, a portable speaker system that Apple claims will reintroduce digital music aficionados to high-quality audio. Mr. Macomber used to be a minor-league gearhead, subscribing to what he calls "fancy audiophile magazines." In the digital age, he's become less of a stickler, trading quality for convenience. Even though digital music is typically stored in compressed formats that sound demonstrably worse than CDs, he says: "It's good enough." (See related article.)

When it comes to music, consumers are increasingly trading quality for quantity. Many would rather have the ability to store thousands of songs on portable devices -- and have a constant soundtrack to their lives -- than own stacks of CDs and listen to high-quality sound tethered to an expensive living-room system. The shift is causing big reverberations in the audio industry. Sony Corp., has already pulled the plug on an expensive high-end audio line. And electronics makers including Sony are adding features designed to allow for easier integration between their midline stereo systems and portable players like iPods.

Sales of traditional stereos have taken a hit. Last year, retail sales of home audio equipment, including stereo system components and surround-sound "home theater in a box" rigs, dropped nearly 18%, to 10.2 million units, according to market-research firm NPD Group Inc. In the same period, sales of portable digital players like Apple's iPod more than tripled, to 22.4 million units in 2005, from 7.1 million in 2004, says the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group.

Even when consumers aren't using portable devices, more are shifting their music consumption away from stereos. Among 1,031 adult respondents to a consumer-behavior survey published last year by the CEA, 34% said they listened to music at home primarily on a PC, compared with just 26% who said they used a stereo or surround-sound receiver as their main home listening system.

The trend is leading some electronics companies to adjust their strategies. Decreased demand helped push Sony to recently end its Qualia brand of super-high-end home audio and video equipment. Part of the rationale for the shutdown was an effort to streamline the company's complex structure, and some Qualia products, such as flat-screen televisions, will be rolled into other Sony product lines. But among the products being discontinued are a Super-Audio CD player that retailed for more than $12,000.

There are still a lot of options for consumers yearning for old-school audio equipment. Major electronics brands including Kenwood, Panasonic and Aiwa offer stereo and surround-sound setups from compact "shelf systems" to multispeaker home-theater-in-a-box setups -- designed to work with TVs and DVD players, and as stand-alone audio systems -- that range in price from under $120 to as much as $2,000.

To try to recapture some of the iPod crowd, electronics manufacturers are adding features to their home audio systems designed to make them easier to use with portable digital players. Samsung Electronics Co., for example, will include USB ports on the front of two sound systems hitting stores this month, to allow users to play music directly from MP3 players. Two other models from the company will include an adapter to let users attach a portable XM Satellite Radio receiver the company also makes. Neither model will work with Apple's market-dominating iPod, though. Sony is set to roll out similar features on eight to 10 audio systems, with a simpler, headphone jack-like interface that is to work with any music player, including the iPod.

Sony hopes to lure customers by promising better sound quality in digital devices. The company is touting a sound-processing technology called "digital audio enhancement" designed to restore some of the sound quality lost in creating the compressed digital files stored on portable devices.

There are also efforts to improve the quality of the digital music files themselves. MusicGiants Inc., a six-month-old operation in Northern California, sells "Lossless" downloads of the same major-label content sold by services like the iTunes Music Store. Lossless downloads generally sound better because they aren't compressed. MusicGiants sells the files, which take up as much as 10 times as much hard-drive space as those sold on other services, for $1.29, compared with the 99 cents competitors charge. Sales have been slow so far.

Write to Ethan Smith at