TV-PGSeptember 23, 1999: Understatement of the week: Thursday was not a happy day for the stock market, and Apple didn't emerge unscathed. Meanwhile, Motorola cozies up to AMD in hopes of sharing a factory in Dresden that could help alleviate the G4 shortage, and the first report of shipping "Sawtooth" G4/450s surfaces...
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Prim M at YouTube

 
Oh, The Humanity (9/23/99)
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Mark our words-- a few years down the line, some daring young filmmaker is going to produce a film that will redefine the much-maligned "splatter flick" category. You can forget about I Dismember Mama, Dr. Giggles can take an early retirement, and Three on a Meathook will pale in comparison. Nothing will compare to this film's excess of gore; the elevator full of blood in The Shining will look like a mere rivulet in comparison. And when the sheer extremity of the onscreen carnage gets the filmmaker on the talk show circuit and Regis asks him what inspired such a sick, blood-soaked movie, he's going to reply, "Do you remember what happened to the stock market in late September of '99?"

Seriously, in their analysis The Mac Observer referred to today's trading as a "market bloodbath," and from what we can tell, few people involved in the slaughter first-hand are likely to accuse them of hyperbole. Just about everything was down: the Dow fell over 200 points, the Nasdaq lost over 100, and our recently oh-so-fortunate buddy AAPL suffered another heavy sack beating, losing seven more points to close at a smidgen over 63-- down from 80 early in the week. Apple had already been weakened by the earnings warning it had issued earlier in the week, and today the whole market spun out of control, prompted by uncertainties following the disastrous quake in Taiwan and by the comments of Microsoft prez Steve Ballmer, who came right out and admitted that "there's such an overvaluation of tech stocks it's absurd-- and I'd put [Microsoft's] stock in that category." Ohhhhh boy...

So anyway, as we were saying, Apple's stock is now hovering around 63-- still higher than it was a month ago, but a solid seventeen points lower than where it was on Monday. Now, remember how all those analysts were reiterating their "buy" ratings and calling Apple's recent fall a "buying opportunity?" Well, if 73 was a buying opportunity, then we figure 63 qualifies as a Blue Light Special with double coupons and a free sample of Turtle Wax. Not that we're actually recommending that viewers buy now while the getting's good; we are ignorant of most financial matters and therefore we're completely unqualified to hand out market advice. All we can say is, it's mighty tempting to break into our new server fund while AAPL's this cheap just prior to mass iBook availability and the introduction of the "Kihei" iMacs...


 
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The Not-So-Odd Couple (9/23/99)
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Motorola makes PowerPC chips that fuel our beloved Macs. AMD makes x86-compatible processors that run Windows (among other things) instead. Cobra versus mongoose? Hardly-- more like two great tastes that taste great together. Motorola and AMD have been buddy-buddy for a while now, ever since they struck a deal last year that gave AMD access to Motorola's nifty copper-chip technology while Motorola got access to AMD's process for making some kind of special memory chips. So while at first glance they may look to be strange bedfellows, it's really not all that bizarre a situation; after all, both companies are working hard to beat the pants off of Intel. And remember how weird it seemed when Apple and IBM joined forces with Motorola to form the PowerPC AIM alliance? That was way weirder than any kind of AMD-Motorola team-up.

So here's the latest buzz: the word on the street (and in a Bloomberg News article) is that Motorola may be looking to bolster its chip-making capacity by buying into AMD's new fabrication plant in Dresden, Germany. This Dresden factory is apparently going to be pretty enormous, and if AMD finds that it'd be sitting slightly idle due to possible lower-than-expected demand for the new Athlon processor, then they could raise some much-needed cash by letting Motorola rent out the place for a big chip-burning party. This is all rumor at this point-- at least, according to Motorola spokesperson Scott Stevens, who says his company currently has "no plans" to hire out AMD's kickin' new plant. But Scott Allen of AMD is open to the idea: "If we found ourselves in a situation with too much capacity, it might make sense to explore a partner."

Personally, we at AtAT are all for this plan. While Apple and Motorola trade barbs about whose fault it is, nobody's arguing that there just aren't enough G4 processors to fulfill the heavy demand for Apple's new personal supercomputers. If buying some time on AMD's gear can help Motorola crank out the chips Apple needs to ship more G4s, we say go for it. Even the "low-end" 400 MHz "Yosemite" models are drawing rave reviews from AtAT viewers lucky enough to get them, so the sooner Apple can get a high volume of G4s into the channel, the sooner they can pull out of this sudden earnings slump.


 
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Shipping Now. Honest. (9/23/99)
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Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field™ is a miraculous force, to be sure, and we're just glad that everyone's favorite iCEO uses it for good instead of evil. (Or does he? Insert ominous music here.) The RDF is capable of making bad news seem neutral, neutral news seem good, and good news seem downright euphoric. But the Jobsian RDF is not omnipotent; one thing it can't do is convince people that a product is shipping when it clearly isn't. Steve knows this, and rarely tries to push the RDF beyond its known truth-bending limitations by claiming something's ready to go when it's not; he recently tested the waters again when he said the 400 MHz Power Mac G4s were "available now;" one quick call to the Apple Store later, everyone knew he was exaggerating. Instead, he tends to bend future ship dates, making them sound closer than they really are.

Take, for example, the "Sawtooth" G4s. Way back at Seybold, Steve announced immediate availability (cough) for the "Yosemite" 400 MHz models, with "Sawtooth" 450 MHz systems shipping in September and 500 MHz systems in October. That sounded great at the time, under the full force of the RDF pumping away. But later on, it became clear to many Apple watchers that those ship dates were probably just a little on the optimistic side. After all, the "Sawtooth" motherboard was rumored to be well behind schedule, and not ready for prime time until possibly November. Add to that the recent revelation that Motorola's being slow while ponying up the chips, mix in a quick glance at the calendar, and that September ship date for the G4/450 looks more and more like an RDF-enhanced Steveism.

But what's this? Suddenly Accelerate Your Mac! is reporting that "several readers say their G4/450 (AGP) systems have shipped from Apple." Could it be? Did Apple pull it off after all? Was Steve cracking the whip, warning the G4 team not to make a liar out of him? We'll probably never know. Right now, though, this is the only indication we've seen that the "Sawtooth" systems are actually shipping, and as such, we'll have to consider it an unsubstantiated (but very happy) report. With luck, the glowing viewer feedback about brand-'-new G4/450s will start rolling in any day now, and Steve will surprise us once again with the accuracy of his product ship date announcements. Maybe everything really is possible when you've got an RDF under the hood.


 
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