Graham Spencer

644 posts on MacStories since January 2011

Graham is a regular contributor to MacStories, a law and economics student at university and connoisseur of great TV shows. With a particular passion for telling stories with the aid of data and visualizations, there is a high likelihood that he wrote a story if you see a graph on MacStories.

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Apple, Adobe & Microsoft Forced To Appear Before Australian IT Pricing Inquiry

Apple, Microsoft and Adobe have been summoned to appear before a Federal Australian Parliamantery Committee that has been investigating IT pricing in Australia. The move forces the three companies to appear on March 22nd after they had refused to do so voluntarily. Ed Husic, a driving member behind the creation of the committee and one of its members, put out a press release welcoming the move, but stating it is one “we shouldn’t have to take”.

 “Adobe, Apple and Microsoft are just a few firms that have continually defied the public’s call for answers and refused to appear before the IT Pricing Inquiry.”

The IT Pricing Inquiry has been examing whether a price difference exists between Australian and international pricing of IT goods and services, and if so, why they exist, what impact they have and what actions can be taken to reduce the disadvantage of Australian consumers. Formed in May last year, the committee received 100 submissions from individuals, organisations and companies and has so far held 5 public hearings which included the appearance of Australian Recording Industry Association, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, consumer group CHOICE and many others.

It should be noted that Apple, Microsoft and Adobe all made written submissions to the Committee but refused to appear before the committee to answer questions of the committee members.


The Untapped Potential Of Dual Screen AirPlay Games & Apps

What do you know about Dual Screen AirPlay games? Chances are, you don’t know much about it and might not even know what on earth I’m talking about. It’s a feature of AirPlay – the protocol that allows iOS devices to stream audio and video to an Apple TV. More specifically, Dual Screen AirPlay is the ability for app developers to use a connected Apple TV as a secondary screen, displaying different content on the TV as to what is on the iOS device. In theory it’s an awesome feature that has significant potential. In reality there haven’t been many examples of its implementation, let alone many that did so in a unique and exciting way.

So today I look at where Dual Screen AirPlay has been used, focusing on games in particular and then look to why it hasn’t been as widely deployed. I’ll also touch upon the problems with its implementation, where it could be improved and lastly a brief discussion on its potential in video apps as well.

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Measuring iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S availability

Measuring iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S availability

Horace Dediu of Asymco today wrote and shared data on the availability of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S by potential buyers – measured by the subscriber counts of the carriers that sell the iPhone. It’s an important and valuable extension of an article I wrote last week, discussing the international rollout of each generation of iPhone and iPad. That analysis had a weakness in that I treated all countries as equal which isn’t necessarily true (depending on why you’re looking at the data).

Announcing availability in Mauritius is not nearly as important as announcing Madagascar. A better measure would be to track the countries’ populations being added, or, better still, the populations which subscribe to operators who have a distribution contract with Apple.

So instead, Dediu looked at which carriers held the iPhone in each country and what their approximate subscriber count was. By calculating the availability this way, you can now see the potential number of iPhone buyers, as seen in Horace’s graph here.

That’s a handy measure: the iPhone 5 was 30% more available than the iPhone 4S. The big contribution was having China and Indonesia available during the fourth quarter rather than in January 2011.

Make sure to head over to Asymco to read the full article and all of Horace’s observations, it’s an interesting read. If you didn’t catch my article last week, it’s also available to read here. Just note that if you are trying to compare Dediu’s graph with the one in my article (shown here), Dediu went with actual dates whereas I went with relative time. This is because I wanted to look at the first 110 days of every iPhone, Dediu was specifically looking at the fourth quarter availability.

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Apple Launches Back To School Promotion In Australia & New Zealand

Apple has once again launched a ‘Back to School’ promotion ahead of the start of the new school year in Australia and New Zealand. Students who purchase a Mac will receive a AU$100 (NZ$125) gift card and students who purchase an iPad with Retina display will receive a AU$50 (NZ$65) gift card – virtually identical to the ‘Back to School’ promotion held in North America and Europe last June.

The promotion is open to any student, parent or staff member of a K-12 or higher education school with any purchase made between January 15th and April 1st. Products included in the deal include any iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or Mac Pro (including refurbished models), but the only iPad that is valid with this promotion is the iPad with Retina display – refurbished iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad mini do not qualify.

Apple has also put together a short list of great Mac and iOS apps that might appeal to students – as well as a buying guide that includes various accessories, bags and software that is targeted towards students.


Tim Cook Meets With China Mobile Chairman, Discusses “Matters Of Cooperation”

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, today met with China Mobile’s Chairman, Xi Guohua, after earlier an earlier meeting this week with China’s Minister for Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei. Today’s meeting with China Mobile is notable because the Chinese carrier is the world’s largest mobile phone operator with roughly 700 million subscribers and does not yet offer the iPhone to its customers.

China Mobile said in a statement that Tim Cook and Xi Guohua “discussed matters of cooperation” but declined to go into specifics due to a confidentiality agreement that was signed by both parties. Apple has been negotiating with China Mobile over carrying the iPhone since at least May last year, but the two have struggled to come to an agreement over the terms of revenue sharing.

Tuesday’s meeting with the Chinese Minister for Industry and Information Technology saw the two chat about innovation, China’s IT industry and the mobile industry. Yesterday, Tim Cook and Phil Schiller were spotted visiting an official Apple reseller in Beijing. Whilst today Tim Cook gave an in-depth interview to Sina Technology News where he said Apple expects China to soon become their largest market. In noting this, Cook also unsurprisingly revealed that Apple will be expanding its retail presence in China from 11 stores to more than 25 (no time frame is specified, but presumably in 2013).

[Sources: Reuters, AllThingsD, TUAW]



Could Apple Be Moving To Twice-Yearly iPhone & iPad Releases?

Just over a month ago, Horace Dediu of Asymco penned an article entitled ‘Does S stand for Spring’ in which he hypothesised that perhaps Apple might be moving to a biannual (twice-yearly) release cycle for the iPhone and iPad. Over the past month I’ve gone back to read Dediu’s hypothesis as news articles and analyst opinions surfaced and I did some analysis of Apple myself. It’s got to the point that I really think Dediu’s hypothesis has got real potential to become reality. So I decided to take some time to present Dediu’s evidence in a slightly different way, elaborating on some of his evidence and hopefully add to the discussion. But if you haven’t read the Asymco article yet, I’d highly recommend you do so before proceeding:

‘Does S stand for Spring?’ – Asymco

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Mapping Apple’s International iPhone & iPad Rollouts

Apple has on three seperate occasions announced that the iPhone 5 will have the fastest international rollout of any iPhone ever – at the announcement keynote, during the Q4 earnings call, and in their press release announcing opening weekend sales of the iPhone 5 in China. The claim was, no doubt, meant to impress investors, press and the general public, but I was curious as to how fast it really was compared to previous iPhone rollouts. So I decided to track down the launch schedules of all the iPhones to date and then again with the iPad. In the end I found a few trends, some oddities and that Apple’s claim was (mostly) true.

iPhone 5 will be available in more than 100 countries by the end of December, making it the fastest iPhone rollout ever.

- Apple Press Release

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Apple: iPhone 5 First Weekend Sales in China Top Two Million

Apple has just announced that they’ve sold over two million iPhone 5s in China since it launched three days ago on Friday, December 14th. That compares to the more than five million that were sold in the first weekend of the iPhone 5′s availability back in October (where it was available in nine countries).

“Customer response to iPhone 5 in China has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever in China,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “China is a very important market for us and customers there cannot wait to get their hands on Apple products.”

Apple has also re-iterated that the iPhone 5 will be available in more than 100 countries by the end of December, which Apple says will be “the fastest iPhone rollout ever”.

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Mapping Apple’s Retail Expansion


Apple opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001 – one in Virginia and the other in California. In the Steve Jobs biography, author Walter Isaacson wrote how Jobs had wanted Apple to have its own stores so that their iMacs didn’t have to “sit on a shelf between a Dell and a Compaq while an uninformed clerk recited the specs of each”. Despite initial criticisms and comparisons to Gateway’s failed retail stores, Apple Stores not only continue to exist today, but are regarded as one of Apple’s greatest innovations - one that now contributes to more than 10% of Apple’s revenue.

“Unless we could find ways to get our message to customers at the store, we were screwed.”

Steve Jobs

I’ve previously written about the coverage of Apple’s entertainment services in international markets (including how they compare to Google, Microsoft and Amazon), so I was similarly intrigued by how Apple’s stores have expanded into countries outside the US. Whilst researching all this, I came across other questions such as whether Apple had a particular preference for when they opened new stores and how the expansion of their retail network would affect visitors and profits. What I have found isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but there are certainly some trends and fascinating tidbits that I’ve come across, all of which is detailed below the break.

A note to RSS readers: This article includes an HTML5 diagram that likely won’t display in your reader, view this post in your browser (it works on iOS devices) to view that diagram. Apologies for the inconvenience.

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