Apple Q4 2016 Results »

I’m helping the Six Colors team with Apple financial coverage today. Come hang out.

From July to September, the company posted revenue of $46.9 billion with a quarterly net profit of $9 billion. Apple sold 9.3 million iPads, 45.5 million iPhones, and 4.8 million Macs during the quarter.

It also made a record $6.3 million in services. 9.3 million iPads is a record low for the tablet.

The company is issuing another cash dividend:

Apple’s board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $0.57 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on November 10, 2016 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 7, 2016.

2016 marks the company’s first annual revenue decline since 2001. Annual revenue has fallen from $233.7 billion in 2015 to $217 billion in the 2016 fiscal year.

Ok. Here are some charts:

Q4 2016 Revenue

Q4 2016 Revenue

Q4 2016 Services Revenue

Q4 2016 Services Revenue

iPhone Units Sold

iPhone Units

iPad Units Sold

iPad Units Sold

Mac Units Sold

Mac Units Sold

macOS Sierra Leaks Image of MacBook Pro with Magic Toolbar »

Welp, it is real. These images are straight out of System/​Library/​PrivateFrameworks/​PassKitUI.framework/​Versions/​A/​Resources on my Mac running 10.12.1:

MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro

There’s a lot to parse here. Clearly, the rumors of a Magic Toolbar are all correct, as well the inclusion of Touch ID to the right of the Toolbar. It looks like this version of Touch ID lacks the stainless steel ring found on iOS devices.1

(I just hope third-party developers can access it like they do on the iPhone and iPad.)

There’s some conjecture that this is running on top of the S1 — or something related to it. That makes a ton of sense to me.

Beyond TouchID, these images seem to match what we’ve been expecting out of the Magic Toolbar. The Fn keys are gone, and it looks like the system can show related content on the screen. That first image shows a Cancel button, the Apple Pay logo and directions on where to touch to pay, complete with a janky-ass red arrow.

There’s also no hardware Escape key. Even the Chromebook keyboard — WHICH REPLACES THE CAPS LOCK KEY WITH A SEARCH BUTTON — ships with an Escape key.

Jeff Geerling points out that 10.12.1 has added the ability to re-map the Escape key. Or maybe this will be a thing.

There are some other interesting things going on here. The speaker grills look like what’s on the MacBook, but running down the sides of the keyboard. The current 13-inch MacBook Pro has solid aluminum on this surface.


The hinge looks like a cousin of what is on the 12-inch MacBook with Retina display, as do the keycaps. I’m hoping the key travel is equal to that of the Smart Keyboard, but I’m suddenly afraid it’s going to match that of the MacBook.

All in all, it’s hard to believe that these images shipped in Sierra, and they certainly take the edge off of Thursday’s event. As these images shipped in 10.12.1, which came out yesterday, I’d be willing to bet these machines will be shipping very shortly after the event.

At least we have something exciting to discuss right before what may be a lack-luster quarterly results call in an hour or so.

  1. Will Apple use this tech on next year’s Unicorn iPhone? My Magic 8 Ball likes the chances. 

Coverage of the Original iPod 

The iPod turns 15 years old today. I thought it would be fun to revisit early coverage of the music player to see how people responded to it at the time.

The Brown Fury at Slashdot:

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Jonathan Seff at Macworld didn’t seem to think the Nomad comparison was a big deal, and praised the speed FireWire 400 brought to transfers:

The iPod has a smaller hard drive than the 20GB, USB-based Nomad Jukebox, but its FireWire interface makes the USB connections on other MP3 players seem slower than molasses. It takes hours to transfer 5GB of music files to a music player that connects via USB; the iPod can transfer that amount in as little as 12 minutes.

Walt Mossberg was impressed and compared the iPod to other MP3 players of the day:

Portable digital music players are frustrating gadgets. These hand-held devices, which play songs in the MP3 format, seem like a great idea, but they are hobbled by major drawbacks.

Some can hold only a scant 10-20 songs on little memory cards too expensive to buy in quantity. Others include built-in hard disks that can hold hundreds or thousands of songs, but are large and bulky with lousy battery life.

For the past 10 days or so, however, I’ve been testing a terrific digital music player that solves all of these problems. It has massive storage capacity, is small and light enough to slip into a pocket and can be run nonstop for an impressive amount of time. Its controls are simple and clear, and it downloads music from a computer at blazing speeds.

It’s no surprise that this new music player, called the iPod, comes from a company with a long history of great engineering and user-oriented design: Apple Computer. This is Apple’s first noncomputer product in years, and it’s a design home run. The iPod is simply the best digital music player I’ve seen. It costs $399, and will be available Nov. 10.

David Pogue wanted Apple to push harder:

Apple clearly believes that the iPod’s advances in size, speed, function and elegance are worth the $150 price premium, but not everyone feels that way. In an informal poll at the Web site, 40 percent of Mac fans indicated that they would not be buying an iPod, and every single one cited the price.

It should also be noted, however, that the remaining 60 percent had either already ordered iPods or were virtually drooling onto their keyboards. They are among the first to succumb to the lure of the most beautiful and cleverly engineered MP3 player ever. But if Apple ever lowers the iPod’s price and develops Windows software for it, watch out: the invasion of the iPod people will surely begin in earnest.

Apple would end up doing both, but that’s a story for a different time.

Margaret Kane wondered if the $399 price tag was too high:

It’s an important product for Apple. For starters, the iPod is the company’s first foray into the consumer electronics market and marks an effort to use Mac-powered devices to drive sales for its product line. The move comes with a question mark, however: Has Apple created another iMac-like hit or a well-designed but too expensive flop like its Cube?

Eliot Van Buskirk didn’t seem to share that concern, and wrote an amazingly forward-thinking review:

I know that Mac-only compatibility is just one of the things that people will complain about in reference to this device. But the naysayers have it wrong, and I’ll tell you why: The iPod is revolutionary in a number of ways, and its descendants will replace the PC.

(I’m typing this on my iPad.)

Not everyone could see this future. Rodney O. Lain didn’t:

I don’t want Apple to relegate itself to an also-ran. Apple is shaping up, with the iPod, to be the Sony of the computer industry. This bodes well for those interested in more “pedestrian” devices like MP3 players. But there are those of us who would like an Apple solution for tasks like portable computing, easy networking (when is AirPort gonna move past 11 Mbps?), and power computing. This is the end towards which the company is money will be made.

Fifteen Years Ago, Steve Jobs Announced the iPod 


Fifteen years ago today, Steve Jobs announced the original iPod.

His pitch was simple: 1,000 songs in your pocket.

The iPod was designed to easily sync all of your digital music. You could take it with you, wherever you went.

In a world where portable music meant often carring a battery-powered CD player and a huge wallet of discs, this was a revolution.

The original model used a 5 GB spinning hard drive, which allowed granted the music player both portability and density. Most people didn’t have 5 GB of digital music in 2001. FireWire 400 meant data transfers were nice and speedy, and its 10 hours of battery life was good enough to not worry about recharging in the middle of the day.

In a way, though, the specs didn’t matter. The iPod was small, easy to use and offered a great user experience. I recently spent some time with mine, and it’s shocking how much Apple got right with its first try.

Today, the iPod seems old-fashioned. Our smartphones have access to the all of the world’s media with just a few taps in apps like Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube. In 2001, that seemed like science fiction.

The iPod, however, was cool.

Juno Woes 

NASA’s spacecraft that is currently circling Jupiter has had a rough couple of weeks.

On October 14, it was announced that the engine burn that was to insert Juno into close orbit around the gas giant would be postponed:

Mission managers for NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter have decided to postpone the upcoming burn of its main rocket motor originally scheduled for Oct. 19. This burn, called the period reduction maneuver (PRM), was to reduce Juno’s orbital period around Jupiter from 53.4 to 14 days. The decision was made in order to further study the performance of a set of valves that are part of the spacecraft’s fuel pressurization system. The period reduction maneuver was the final scheduled burn of Juno’s main engine.

Juno was still scheduled to pass Jupiter even without this burn, but then the spacecraft encountered more issues:

NASA’s Juno spacecraft entered safe mode Tuesday, Oct. 18 at about 10:47 p.m. PDT (Oct. 19 at 1:47 a.m. EDT). Early indications are a software performance monitor induced a reboot of the spacecraft’s onboard computer. The spacecraft acted as expected during the transition into safe mode, restarted successfully and is healthy. High-rate data has been restored, and the spacecraft is conducting flight software diagnostics. All instruments are off, and the planned science data collection for today’s close flyby of Jupiter (perijove 2), did not occur.

NASA has until early December to get the engine valve issue straightened out, or it will be another 53 days before the burn can be attempted again. I wouldn’t want to have be feeling the stress the Juno team must have right now, and I hope they get things worked out. It’s a cool mission to a planet we don’t know all that much about.

‘hello again’ 

Apple today announced an event that will take place on October 27. Here’s what the invite looks like:


Wait, damn it. That’s not right. Hang on.

Here we go:

Hello again

Crap. This is confusing. Let me see what Jason posted.

There we go:

Hello again again

I guess we’re getting Macs. I highly doubt that new MacBook Pros will have the same historical impact as the Macintosh and iMac, but it’s fun that Apple revisited the tagline.

E-ink Keyboard Rumored for Future MacBooks 

Eva Dou, at The Wall Street Journal, describing Apple’s plans to possible replace the plastic keycaps on its keyboard with ones that include e-ink displays:

The new keyboards will be a standard feature on MacBook laptops, and will be able to display any alphabet, along with an unlimited number of special commands and emojis, people familiar with the plans said.

Apple is aiming for a 2018 launch, these people said.

I’m actually more enthusiastic about this than I am the rumored maybe-never-announced MacBook Pro, assuming this keyboard would still have physical keys. In my mind, this MacBook would have a keyboard like it does today, just with a bunch of little e-ink displays in the keyboard, like shown in this MacRumors article.

It’s not hard to imagine the possibilities this could be bring. While many international keyboards use different physical layouts, this sort of system could allow users to type with their own language’s letters on the keys.1 Imagine that in a classroom.

Additionally, this could push the flexibility expected in the next MacBook Pro’s OLED Touchbar even further. Keyboards like this one that use custom keycaps to show shortcuts for professional apps could theoretically be done in software.

Count me as intrigued.

  1. In discussing this with my Connected co-hosts, they both seemed pretty excited about this possible use case.