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    DOWNLOAD — GCN Version: On this week’s all-star episode, Kyle Wiens of iFixit joins us to give the results of teardowns of some of the very latest tech gear. During this segment, he’ll discuss Apple’s 2016 MacBook, and whether, aside from minor hardware upgrades, it differs much from last year’s model. He’ll also present the results of the teardown of the iPhone SE, the latest smartphones from Samsung and LG, and some virtual reality headsets. He’ll also remind you about the poor repair rating of the Microsoft Surface tablets.

    You’ll also hear from Stephen Baker, Vice President for Industry Analysis at the NPD Group.. He discusses why he feels Mac sales dropped so much in the March quarter; he suggests some of Apple’s notebooks are long in the tooth and need major refreshes. He’ll also talk about the impact of the iPhone SE, and whether there’s a big market for smaller smartphones. The discussion will also focus on 4K TV, and where the new format is going. What price points are most popular, and what about getting more genuine 4K content to watch? Stephen also talks about the contribution of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to the infotainment systems of a growing number of motor vehicles.

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    Newsletter Issue #856: Did Google and Microsoft Pave the Way for Apple’s Financials?

    April 25th, 2016

    It wasn’t terribly pleasant for Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft stockholders this past week. Both companies missed revenue targets, more or less, and thus suffered from lower stock prices. For Google, it’s pretty much the same old problem. Most of its revenue comes from one product, search, and, to a lesser extent, Google Play, Android’s app store. While the company continues to pour money into other ventures, they still aren’t paying off.

    Even the purchase of Nest, a company that makes intelligent thermostats and smoke detectors, hasn’t been quite the cash cow Google expected when it bought the company in 2014 for $3.2 billion. That’s somewhat higher than Apple paid for Beats Electronics, a transaction that was greeted with skepticism by tech and financial pundits.

    However, Beats was a successful company before Apple took it over, particularly when it came to its line of high-end headphones. Beats Music was still a developing service that now appears to be paying off in its guise as Apple Music. But, according to published reports, Nest generated a paltry $340 million in sales in 2015. That’s not so terrific when you consider the purchase price.

    Continue Reading…

    Getting it All Wrong

    April 22nd, 2016

    There are a number of online pundits who evidently believe they know what Apple is up to, and they also know whether it’ll be a success or failure. They are widely quoted, often without question or comment. Well, except for a few realists who actually do a little fact-checking or research the predictions to see if any actually came to pass. Unfortunately, far too many so-called reporters are just too lazy to actually report.

    The end result is that there is a lot of misinformation about Apple or its policies and history. It may not materially hurt sales, but it materially hurts the public’s perception of what’s really going on.

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    European Commission Goes After Google’s Walled Garden

    April 21st, 2016

    Apple is often criticized for having a closed ecosystem, a so-called “walled garden” that allegedly deprives customers of choice. But the concept can be misleading. You do have an expansive variety of software available for Mac and iOS. Software available for iOS and the Mac App Store is carefully curated for security and meeting the company’s standards, but there’s plenty to choose from. With a Mac, third party software vendors offer lots of variety for apps that Apple doesn’t accept.

    But this isn’t a discussion about Apple’s policies, the plusses or minuses, but about that other platform that’s supposed to be “open” and thus offers customers more choices. While that may, in part, be true, there appear to be some complications and limits. Thus the European Commission, better known as the EC, is going after Google for violating European Union antitrust rules with the Android platform.

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    The Death of the TV Antenna and Tuner?

    April 20th, 2016

    While reading over recent press releases from Vizio about new versions of their Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Displays, I caught something, a significant fact that might be overlooked. For most of you it won’t matter, but it demonstrates just how the TV market has changed.

    What I’m referring to is this, from the release on one of the new models: “As with all VIZIO SmartCast™ 4K Ultra HD displays, the M-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display is tuner-free. For those that use an external antenna to watch local broadcasts, a separate external TV tuner is required.”

    That’s why it’s referred to as a “Display” rather than an HDTV.

    What this means is that, if you receive TV shows via casting from an Apple TV or a similar device, a cable connection, a satellite hookup, a gaming console, or a DVD player, the set will work normally. But if you want traditional broadcast TV, using an external antenna, you’re stuck unless you buy that tuner.

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