TV-PGOctober 20, 2000: The stock market is insane-- so AtAT now feels right at home. Meanwhile, Apple looks to boost sales by releasing "Apple Store Exclusives" into the retail channel, and speculation as to the portable equivalent of the Cube has people drooling already...
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We Have Met The Enemy... (10/20/00)
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Everyone knows that Wall Street is a harsh mistress-- and with the recent surge in online trading (which opened up the world of trading stocks to anyone with an Internet connection, a few hundred bucks, and a functioning mouse hand) she's an ever-increasingly irrational mistress as well. Exhibit A: take what happened to AAPL's price after last month's earnings warning; the prediction of a $50 million shortfall and the ensuing panicked sell-off by twitchy dotcom gold-diggers caused Apple's market cap to bleed $8 billion overnight. Overreact much?

Despite the warning, when Apple wound up posting a profit that fell exactly within the range that the company had formerly predicted, Wall Street shaved a few more dollars off of Apple's stock price just for consistency's sake. So now Apple's reeling from the stock price equivalent of a massive bleeding head wound. Who's to blame? The press? If we had to judge solely by the lip-licking glee of CNET, who apparently feels that "Apple stock drops again" is real news, we might say yes. But the flip side is adequately represented, for example, in Morningstar.com's analysis that at its current price, buying AAPL is a "no-brainer." So it's not the press.

Apple itself? Granted, there were a few managerial missteps that contributed to the company's current woes, but overpricing the Cube by a few hundred bucks hardly justifies such a stock price butt-whipping. That's like getting the electric chair for squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle. Nope, we lay the majority of the blame for AAPL's decline squarely on the shoulders of Wall Street itself-- and specifically the subset of Ritalin-munching, dotcom-milking, IPO-stalking, day-trading, "there's gold in them thar stocks" head cases who are just looking for the easy score and the quick million. Face it: if Ralph Kramden were alive today (and, um, a real person), he'd be recklessly e-trading with the rest of the cattle until Alice clocked him one with a frying pan. So here at AtAT, we've enacted a cunning plan to fight this scourge that's only adding to Apple's troubles. We've enlisted.

That's right, kiddies; one Ameritrade application later, and we're the latest mooks to climb on the e-trading bandwagon. But we're going to be different; we plan to subvert the brain-damaged status quo from within. We bought our shares of AAPL and we're going to treat them as what they are: a microscopic part of Apple itself. Our shares are a vote of confidence in a company we believe in, not some foreign currency to be cashed in at the first sign of trouble. Of course, that's not to say that we aren't eagerly anticipating Apple's rebound and a stupendous return on our investment. So in the interest of full disclosure, we'd like to inform you all that from now on, our deliriously non-objective pro-Apple content cranked out for love of the company and its products will be replaced by all-new deliriously non-objective pro-Apple content intended to make us some serious dough. Are we clear?


 
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Choice: Whodathunkit? (10/20/00)
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Heads up-- Apple's sales are in a slump, so the company's enacting a few measures to try to move a little more product. Among those changes, according to MacWEEK, is the apparent elimination of the "Apple Store Exclusive." You know what we mean, right? Right now you can't waltz into your local Apple dealer (heck, you probably shouldn't be waltzing anywhere without a dance floor, but that's a whole 'nother story), plunk down a couple grand, and stroll out with a 500 MHz Cube. Sure, you can probably pick up a 450 MHz model or two-- with the slow sales, we doubt you'll have much trouble finding them-- but the 500 MHz version is only available from the Apple Store. So far.

But it seems that's all about to change. For instance, ClubMac is already advertising the Key Lime iBook Special Edition on its site-- formerly an Apple Store Exclusive. And soon other products will follow suit, which means that not long from now you'll be able to pick up the much-beloved Pro Mouse and the not-quite-as-beloved Pro Keyboard at your local CompUSA, if you're so inclined. Yes, folks, it's a startling move, to be sure, but in a drastic departure from long-standing tradition, Apple is actually making it easier for us to buy its products. (Don't panic.)

Now, we doubt that every online exclusive will by winging its way to retail; in particular, we just can't see the Mac OS X public beta appearing on the shelves at our local Micro Center. Moreover, we imagine that certain build-to-order options (such as the Radeon upgrade to the Cube) will keep traffic at the Apple Store chugging along nicely. Our only real concern with this whole scheme is a public health issue. We imagine that, soon, Key Lime iBooks will appear as demo models at retail outlets, thus allowing for the possible accidental exposure of the color to people whose hearts or retinas can't take it.

Then again, our understanding is that the real Key Lime iBooks aren't nearly as painful as the photos on Apple's web site make it appear-- and reports of Key Lime casualties at the Apple Expo in Paris where it was first unveiled were few and far between. In fact, we're rather excited at the prospect of finally being able to see Apple's most controversial color in person without actually having to slap another $1799 on the ol' credit card. Don't worry; we'll bring a welder's mask just in case.


 
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Hey, We Want One Already (10/20/00)
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When Apple extended its four-cornered Grid O' Products to make room for the Cube, who knew the newcomer would wreak so much havoc? Suddenly the simplicity of Apple's product plan was broken; no longer could we choose a Mac based purely on two binary variables: form factor (desktop or portable) and demographic (consumer or professional). The Cube wedged its boxy way in between the iMac and the Power Mac, thus muddying the waters for desktop shoppers, which probably at least partially accounts for its own slow adoption. The poor thing, though gorgeous and slick, just doesn't quite fit anywhere. You all heard the question over and over again after the Cube was first unveiled: "But who is it for?"

Let's hope Apple does a better job at positioning the Cube's portable counterpart. And make no mistake, there will be a portable counterpart. No, knucklehead, it won't be another cube; few companies are capable of designing something that ludicrous, and Apple surely isn't one of them. Look, the Cube is a teensy and stylish Power Mac that's got more "oomph" than an iMac, right? So whatever the heck Apple slaps together to occupy that vacant new grid square will probably resemble a thin-and-light PowerBook, minus the whopping huge display and most of its other high-end features, but faster and sleeker than the iBook. It's not rocket science, people.

Now, whether Mac OS Rumors has real inside information or simply came up with a spec list out of thin air based on common sense, its most recent description of the "mystery portable" is pretty darn intriguing. Picture a "sleek, futuristic Cube-reminiscent Graphite enclosure" housing a 13-inch screen, a 600-800 MHz G3, a RADEON Mobility graphics chip, gigabit Ethernet, the requisite USB and FireWire ports, a DVD-ROM drive, an expansion bay, and twelve hours of battery life all for $1699. Sounds good to us-- though personally, we'd probably rather see a smaller screen to target the ultraportable market instead of simply positioning this thing as a "mid-range" Mac laptop. In any case, if Apple's going to rebound from its current slump by virtue of its 2001 product line-up, there's a lot riding on this "mystery portable" to succeed where the Cube (sort of) failed. Keep your fingers crossed and start saving those nickels.


 
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