TV-PGJanuary 16, 2002: Apple scores another profitable quarter, despite the "very challenging environment." Meanwhile, ZDNet's David Coursey pledges to give up his Wintel for a month to see if he can live with a Mac instead, and's Purchase Circles may reveal some interesting personality traits of Dell employees versus those of Apple ones...
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It's Black Ink & We Love It (1/16/02)

Okay, so our scrappy pups in Cupertino didn't beat the analysts' expectations as they have so often in the past. But considering that they still managed to scrape together a whole mess of green by selling relatively premium-priced computers and electronic devices during an economic slump (which Fred Anderson calls a "very challenging environment" and which many people are probably calling "food, heat, or Cipro?"), we're pretty deliriously happy with the company's reported results. For those of you who haven't yet seen the official Apple press release, Apple just announced a quarterly profit of $38 million, right in line with what Wall Street was expecting. Congratulations are clearly in order; all you Apple employees out there, give yourselves a pat on the back and a big wet smooch. But no tongue!

We're actually listening to Fred Anderson's conference call as we produce this, and so far there aren't any real surprises, and most of the news is good. Apple shipped 746,000 Macs last quarter, 40% of which were portables, and people are snapping up iBooks like they're a ticket to heaven (which, in a way, they are). Revenue was $1.38 billion, which was a little lower than expectations, due largely to what Fred called the "mature form factor" of the iMac. The new iMacs, on the other hand, have the highest preorder level Apple's seen since the introduction of the original iMac. CRT iMacs will stick around until such time that Apple can get an LCD version wedged in there to take over the sub-$1000 price point, though there's no indication when (or if) that'll be possible. The most fun, of course, is hearing all these analysts trying to trick Fred into saying something about a new Power Mac coming out this quarter (or even, um, next week), but the guy's a little too smart to fall for that.

In AtATland, of course, the only real reason to get all worked up over Apple's quarterly results is because it determines the winner of our Beat The Analysts contest. We won't have the complete results and breakdown until tomorrow, but we know enough to be able to state that this quarter's big winner is none other than faithful viewer Mike Hough. Congratulations, Mike! Although, since Apple posted a profit of eleven cents per share, exactly as Wall Street predicted, we suppose that technically Mike didn't really beat the analysts, so much as join them. Still, that doesn't change the fact that he's going to receive a nifty Apple travel mug (thanks, Diversified Computers!) and his choice of an AtAT t-shirt or a dusty old software title from our Baffling Vault of Antiquity™.

So that's that: another profitable quarter for Apple to mark on the scorecard. And if all goes even vaguely according to plan (i.e. some mutant LCD-eating virus doesn't crash to earth on a meteorite and wreak havoc with iMac production), Apple expects to be doing a happy dance next quarter, as well; so far it expects to make roughly the same amount of profit, on revenues rising slightly to the $1.5 billion level. Keep your fingers crossed... and your wallets open.

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30 Days To Enlightenment (1/16/02)

Yes, it's got "publicity stunt" written all over it, but in this day and age when "Who Wants To Marry America's Funniest Home Animal Attacks" is grabbing all the eyeballs, who can blame a fella for trying? Faithful viewer Wayne Parkhurst informs us that ZDNet's David Coursey plans to spend a whole month stranded without his beloved Wintel, instead attempting to get his work done with nothing but-- are you ready for this?-- a Mac. (Insert dramatic chord here.) "How much will I have to give up or find workarounds for because Mac doesn't go there?" asks David, who seems to think that using a Mac for a month is the computing equivalent of subsisting on grubs and tree bark while trying to avoid getting eaten by cannibals (or, worse, voted off the island).

Now, many of you are assuming that this whole arrangement is just a stunt to increase traffic to his site and that Coursey already has the outcome in mind-- but don't be so quick to jump to unfavorable conclusions. Granted, this is the same fellow whose chilly reception of the new iMac last week included such bizarrely inaccurate assertions as "Apple also misses the point by not allowing users to have two drives" (evidently someone needs a night class in External Devices 101) and "having the large PC system unit hidden under the desk isn't a big deal for me, especially since it gives me easy access to multiple USB, serial, and 1394 ports" (which implies that he must habitually sit under his desk with a flashlight and a mirror, because we utterly fail to see any other way in which having a tower under one's desk constitutes easy port access). We agree that these seemingly thick-skulled statements imply that Coursey is a quintessential Wintel user who may well run screaming when confronted with a computer created by a company that actually possesses a virtue known in some circles as "attention to detail."

However, it's worth keeping a few key points in mind. One is that Coursey's take on the new iMac was primarily a rant about how Apple lied to him about press access and gave an exclusive to Time Magazine, so he was pretty clearly already in a snitty mood when he penned that article. Another is that Coursey claims to have been a Mac user five years ago, before he jumped ship during the Scary Years; that may not say much about any deep fundamental connection to the Macintosh Way (the man admits to using FrontPage, fer crying out Pete's sake-- he's darn near certifiable as a terminal Windoid), but maybe he's got some Mac-lover DNA still swimming around in his gene pool. Most importantly, you shouldn't forget that this is the man who referred to Mac OS X as "the nicest operating system [he's] ever seen"-- because Apple sure hasn't.

So, gullible saps that we are, we're willing to give David Coursey the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he's serious about this, and not just setting up a monthlong "Apple sucks-- stick to Windows" rant. We hope that he possesses enough flexibility and self-awareness to give the Mac a fair shot for the next thirty days, because if his intentions are honorable, he might just come away from this stunt with a whole new outlook on the computing experience. (And before any of you suggests that we here at AtAT attempt the same sort of stunt with a month-long foray into the wild and woolly world of Windows XP, forget it-- you'll take our admitted raging platform bigotry when you pry it from our cold, dead appreciation of All Things Cool.)

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Reading Habits Reveal All (1/16/02)

Sure, it's trivial, but how can we resist? Faithful viewer Scott Dayman pointed us at an InfoWorld article in which Robert X. Cringely notes some interesting distinctions between the apparent reading habits of employees at our own Apple Computer and those over at Dell. Are you familiar with's concept of a "Purchase Circle"? Basically, those folks track the domains where their orders are originating, so assuming that you're buying your widescreen Tango and Cash DVD from work, they can tell that you're shirking your duty at, say, Hormel Foods' marketing department by e-shopping when you're supposed to be coming up with a brilliant campaign to make SPAM seem marginally edible to sentient beings.

Well, here's where things get interesting: whereas the best-selling books from within includes such appropriate and unsurprising choices as Making iMovies, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, and Mac OS X: The Complete Reference, Dell's list includes such surprising but, upon reflection, even more appropriate choices as Cheap Psychological Tricks: What to Do When Hard Work, Honesty, and Perseverance Fail and Neil Sperry's Complete Guide to Texas Gardening. Dell employees are also apparently snapping up a ton of copies of The Book of SCSI: I/O for the New Millennium-- which, we have to assume, was actually published at the turn of the eleventh century, because from where we're standing, while it can still top FireWire speeds, all that mucking about with daisy chains, seven devices per channel, avoiding ID conflicts, etc. is strictly old school. Then again, technology-wise, so is Dell, so hey.

It's just interesting, that's all-- we're not saying that Amazon's corporate Purchase Circles necessarily hold the secrets to the inner souls of these companies. Then again, faithful viewer Howard Martin also noticed that Gateway's listing currently states that "the latest update for this Purchase Circle did not meet the criteria needed to generate a unique bestseller list." Does that imply that Gateway employees aren't buying any books? The company is run by a cow that can talk, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment for a bovine, but we have no idea whether or not she can read, so maybe Gateway's employee mix is primarily illiterate. It's up to you to decide whether or not Purchase Circles know and reveal all, but if they do, apparently Dell consists of a pack of lying, cheating Luddite gardeners. Why are we not surprised?

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