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    Coming October 21: This week’s guests include outspoken podcaster and commentator Peter Cohen. This week, Peter and Gene talk about the fate of Apple’s cheapest personal computer, the Mac mini, the downgraded 2014 version, and what sort of upgrade might be in the pipeline in light of positive comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Peter explains why he feels that Apple has taken the wrong direction with the mini. Gene and Peter talk about low-end printers, and about using third-party toner. A good idea? What about the Apple TV 4K? Overpriced, not compelling enough to boost sales? The segment moves into pop culture, where Gene and Peter discuss Star Trek fandom, TV super heroes and similar subjects, as Gene recalls meeting some of the stars of the original Star Trek series at a convention in 1975.

    In a special encore presentation, you’ll also hear from columnist Joe Wilcox, who writes for BetaNews. He explains why he recently switched from T-Mobile to Verizon Wireless, mostly to improve coverage, but is now considering a return to the former. The discussion covers the ongoing dilemma of choosing the right carrier. And what about published reports that T-Mobile and Sprint, the two smallest carriers in the U.S., might be ready to ink a deal and merge? It’s not the first time this has been rumored. Gene and Joe will also talk about the new productivity features in iOS 11, and whether they might impact the use of the iPad as a productivity tool. There will also be a brief discussion of macOS High Sierra before the conversation moves to the Apple Watch Series 3, which comes in a version with LTE so you can use it to make phone calls without connecting it to an iPhone. Does this big step now liberate the Apple Watch so it can do most things all by itself? Does the future take us away from a big smartphone to a tiny smartwatch?

    Click to hear our latest episode: The Tech Night Owl Live — October 14, 2017

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    Consumer Reports Does it to Apple Again

    October 18th, 2017

    You can bet that, when reviewing smartphones, Consumer Reports magazine appears to have a blind spot towards Samsung; maybe a few blind spots. How so? Well, I’ll get to that shortly.

    Now on the surface, CR ought to be the perfect review source. Unlike most other publications, online or print, it actually buys tested products from retail stores. That includes luxury cars costing over $100,000 if need be. So, in that area at least, it should be incorruptible. Compare that to regular publications that contain reviews, most of which receive free samples from the manufacturers.

    Indeed, when I announced recently that Vizio sent me a 4K TV for review — with no preconditions as to how I rate the product — I got a comment from a reader suggesting that my article would somehow be tainted. But I’ve been reviewing tech gear received on that basis for over two decades, and it’s definitely not a factor. Never has been.

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    About Yet Another Stupid Commentary About a “Flawed” Apple Product

    October 17th, 2017

    I don’t know why I have to repeat the obvious, but far too many tech commentators just don’t have a clue.

    So here we go again.

    As most of you know, the iPhone X will not ship until November 3rd. Orders will be taken beginning on the previous week. What’s more, there have been rampant reports of alleged production problems with the new device, focusing mainly on components for the Face ID system. If true, it would mean that supplies will be severely constrained and it may take weeks or months for production to catch up with demand.

    I don’t disbelieve the claims of production issues, since Apple is manufacturing parts that are very different from previous models, and that includes the OLED display. So anything is possible, and it may well be that Apple might have waited even longer to deliver the iPhone X, except that we’re closing in on the holiday season and they wanted to build the backlog as soon as practical. On the other hand, there are now published reports that production of the iPhone X will catch up with demand quicker than expected.

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    Newsletter Issue #933: Is This Evidence of Lower iPhone Sales?

    October 16th, 2017

    It does appear that the media is sometimes just aching to find bad news about Apple, even if it’s indirect evidence. It represents the ongoing viewpoint that years of success has all been a fluke. It was a stroke of luck, and if the fates had behaved properly, Apple would have disappeared long ago, or would have remained strictly a personal computer company struggling in a declining market. In other words, yesterday’s news.

    Or maybe it represents the efforts of one or more competitors to feed fake news to bloggers in order to skew Apple coverage negatively. That doesn’t mean I believe the usual offenders are dishonest; some of them may actually believe Apple will soon confront a negative reality.

    It is true that, after years of stellar growth, the iPhone stumbled for a quarter or two before increasing again. But the increases have been modest, no doubt representing saturation of the market. Apple’s tougher prospects in China haven’t helped, and it also explains why it’s expanding to other developing countries, such as India, hoping to gain traction.

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    A Reality Check About the iOS 11 Installed Base

    October 13th, 2017

    Raw sets of statistics can often be interpreted in many ways. Taking them out of context can also put those numbers in a very different perspective.

    So you can point to the recent industry analysis that indicates that Mac sales decreased in the September quarter and say some nasty things about Apple. But it’s fair to remind the reader that surveys from Gartner and IDC often undercount real Apple sales. They are, after all, surveys and not expected to be completely accurate. The only genuine sales figures are the ones posted by Apple as part of its quarterly financials, and the numbers for the last quarter won’t be announced until early November.

    Further, you can rightly point out that PC sales, overall, have also decreased. Yes, it appears that Apple is doing worse, if the numbers can be taken seriously, but it may be a part of an overall trend as much as less interest in buying new Macs.

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