TV-PGSeptember 27, 2001: Saddle Creek's still on hold, but the opening of the Palo Alto Apple store is just nine days away. Meanwhile, the $799 bare-bones iMac may be returning to Apple's product line-up this Saturday, and Mac OS Rumors denies the New York Post's report that Avie Tevanian has one foot out the door...
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Hitting Too Close To Home (9/27/01)

Okay, folks, get your retail mojo workin' again-- while Apple has indefinitely postponed the opening of its Saddle Creek store while it continues to try to worm around Germantown's excessive signage restrictions, the company has added the long-awaited Palo Alto store to the on-deck circle; this latest Gap-for-Mac-lovers location is slated to open on October 6th. Those of you lucky enough to be in the Palo Alto area should start forming your plans of attack. Helpful hint for those of you planning to camp out: tie your food up in the branches of a nearby tree to avoid attracting bears.

The Palo Alto store was one of the very first to appear in reports on the 'net prior to Apple's public announcement of its retail plans, and it's likely to get a lot of attention that the other stores don't. Why? Well, for one thing, it's just a stone's throw away from the mothership in Cupertino, but more importantly, it just happens to be uncomfortably close to the home of Steve Jobs himself. And given the widespread unconfirmed reports of Steve sightings even in the relatively distant Glendale location, we imagine that Apple's own Crown Prince of Micromanagement may be dropping in unannounced at the Palo Alto store rather frequently, just to make sure that things are being done "right." (Here's hoping that the manager of said store was granted a minor salary boost to allow for the purchase of copious amounts of over-the-counter antacids.)

We know what you're thinking: that since he's in the neighborhood anyway, Steve himself might show up for the Palo Alto grand opening. All we can say is, don't get your hopes up; we imagine that Steve would prefer that the star of the show be the store, and not his own mercurial self. In fact, we're thinking that the grand opening is the one day when you'd be least likely to spot him there, but anything's possible. Let's put it this way: if we were going, we'd probably bring the autograph book-- but we wouldn't exactly bother with having a pen at the ready, if you know what we mean. Trust us, an Apple store grand opening is a hoot and a holler even without His Steveness present, and an opening that close to Apple's headquarters is bound to be even more out of control than the others. You'll have fun.

As for the remaining grand openings, we may well have to get used to the idea of Apple opening two or more stores a week, because the word on the street is that the company still plans to meet or exceed its originally stated goal of having twenty-five of them dishing out Macs by the end of this year. After October 6th, there'll be at least sixteen more stores to open and only twelve weekends left in which to open them; do the math. Also, we have to assume that Apple's going to want to have most of those stores cranking in time for the holiday shopping season, so expect a frenzy of store-opening activity in the weeks to come. That's a lot of free t-shirts...

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Getting Back To Basics (9/27/01)

You all know, of course, that journalism has no place here at AtAT, seeing as this is a soap opera and not the nightly news. As such, the very notion of "journalistic integrity" means less to us than a textbook on European macroeconomics that's been translated into Swahili. Still, when deciding what sort of content makes it into our scripts, we're aware of the potential ramifications of producing a wide-audience TV show, so we've always tried to apply a rigid moral code and an underlying sense of responsibility to the mmmmpppphhhhHHHAAAHAA HAA HA HA HA HA HA! Sorry, we actually thought we could get through that with a straight face. Oh, well. Now comes the part where we irresponsibly spread a rumor so potentially upsetting that, as soon as this hits the airwaves, we're fully expecting to hear a moist popping sound from all directions heralding the imminent arrival of headlines to the effect of "MAC USERS' HEADS EXPLODE." Ready?

First, the good news, otherwise known as "the setup for the fall": our off-the-cuff mention of the missing-in-inaction LCD iMac yesterday got us thinking, so we figured it couldn't hurt to consult the stars. Well, check it out: according to our star chart, a massive confluence of cosmic events in conjunction with a favorable alignment of the heavenly bodies indicates that the time of a new iMac's arrival is nearly upon us. Indeed, as best as we can make out, this spiffy convergence of the stars and planets will take place in just two days' time, this Saturday. We're usually not ones to put much stock in astrology, but hey, every once in a while you need to take a leap of faith.

Now for the bad news: if we're reading this thing right, the "new" iMac that may suddenly materialize in a glow of cosmic radiance this Saturday isn't actually new at all; it looks to us like Apple's planning on pulling sort of a repeat performance of last July's Stevenote. By "sort of," we mean that the existing iMacs won't change a hair-- they're just gaining a sibling. The stars say to expect a fourth non-LCD iMac configuration, with a decidedly lackluster array of specs: a 500 MHz G3, a mere 64 MB of RAM, a 20 GB hard drive, and a bare-bones CD-ROM drive. What is new is the price: $799. Wait, no-- that's not new, either. But at least Apple finally has a sub-$999 iMac again that's more suitable in these troubled financial times.

There are two particularly interesting things about this scenario. The first is that the specs on this alleged new iMac are completely identical to those of the low-end iMac currently only available via the education channel, which has been around since the Expo at an $849 price point. The second is that there was only really one wrong item in all of the pre-Expo predictions we got off a Times Square fortune teller last July, and that was her vision of "a low-end $799 [iMac] with a CD-ROM"-- which may finally come true this Saturday, meaning she was just early, and not actually wrong. Man, if it does come to pass, we're going to feel really bad about hunting her down after the keynote and stealing her wallet...

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He's Staying-- Probably (9/27/01)

We close today with one of life's greatest conundrums; ideally, this issue would have arisen on a Friday, so we could leave you baffled for the entire weekend, but sadly, it was not to be. Anyway, as regular viewers will recall, a couple of days ago we mentioned rumors that Avie Tevanian, Apple's software guru and long the DynaGirl to Steve's ElectraWoman, was preparing to bail. This rather alarming bit of info was pulled from the pages of the New York Post, and we don't mind saying that it set a whole lot of the Mac community on edge.

Yesterday, however, faithful viewer Kevin Wojniak pointed out that Mac OS Rumors ran the headline "Avie Tevanian not leaving Apple," and advised readers to "rest easy" because the Boy Wonder isn't going anywhere. According to MOSR, Mr. Tevanian isn't polishing his résumé, but rather cracking the whip on the development teams responsible for post-10.1 versions of Mac OS X and "many application efforts like the long-rumored iPhoto/iPicture." In other words, it's business as usual for Avie, according to MOSR's sources.

So here's the conundrum: we've got two utterly conflicting stories, here, so whom do you choose to believe-- Mac OS Rumors, or the New York Post? Not that we're impugning the reliability of either source, of course (at least, not in any overt or legally actionable way), but truly, 'tis a puzzler for the ages. Chew on that one for a while.

All kidding aside, we're happy to find we're leaning heavily to the MOSR side of the fence on this one. Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, but given Avie's sheer importance to Apple's long-term strategy and his extensive history with Steve and Apple (and NeXT before that), we have to think that Apple would need to be in pretty rough shape before the guy would jump ship. Still, a rumor's a rumor, and only time will tell-- but if the Post turns out to be right on this, we're going to have to start getting our hard news from the National Enquirer.

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