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.


Tim Cook Speaks With Businessweek In A Wide-Ranging Interview

Tim Cook Speaks With Businessweek In A Wide-Ranging Interview

Josh Tyrangiel of Bloomberg’s Businessweek has a terrific and in-depth interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook. In it, Cook is asked a whole swathe of questions from transparency, to the recent executive changes, Apple’s competition, US manufacturing and a lot more. The whole article is available online and in the latest edition of Businessweek. NBC will also air an interview with Tim Cook today on it’s Rock Center program at 10pm/9c in the US.

Talking of Apple Maps, Cook is asked whether Apple took on an approach of doing something for strategic company purposes, rather than something that would make the product better. Cook rebuffs this suggestion and suggests that they wanted to enable certain features such as directions and voice integration and set upon accomplishing them.

 We set on a course some years ago and began to do that. So it wasn’t a matter of saying, “Strategically it’s important that we not work with company X.” We set out to give the customer something to provide a better experience. And the truth is it didn’t live up to our expectations. We screwed up.

Asked about manufacturing and whether Apple might bring back some manufacturing efforts back to the US, Cook responds that they will begin to do so in 2013 for certain Mac products. It lines up with recent reports of the new iMacs arriving with “Assembled in USA” engravings. You can also see an excerpt of the Rock Center interview here in which he discusses this transition back to the US.

And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money

These are just a few snippets of the interview, be sure to read the entire interview over at Bloomberg Businessweek, it’s a must read.


Mapping The Entertainment Ecosystems: A Brief Revisit

In mid-October, we published a story on the entertainment ecosystems of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon – looking at to what degree their music, movie, TV, eBook and app stores were available in international markets. Apple on the whole seemed to have the best average availability – slightly losing to Microsoft for the app stores and Amazon dominating everyone in the eBook store.

I’ve decided to briefly revisit the topic today because the original post garnered quite a lot of discussion and feedback and because of two “events” that have since happened. Firstly, Apple yesterday announced an expansion of the iTunes Music Store into dozens of new countries (and Movie store in a few additional countries). Secondly, I have since found two pieces of data on which countries Xbox Music is available in (for some odd reason I cannot find any official Microsoft document detailing the countries it is available in). So below is an update to the Music and Movie diagrams and graphs.


Note: Read the original ‘Mapping the Entertainment Ecosystems’ post which includes diagrams for eBooks, TV and App Stores.
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Apple Testing Carrier LTE Networks Before Allowing iPhone Access

Apple Testing Carrier LTE Networks Before Allowing iPhone Access

According to, Apple has been running its own, independent, LTE tests before it allows carriers to offer the iPhone 5 as an LTE device. It’s somewhat of a reversal of how the carrier-handset maker relationship traditionally worked – where the carrier wouldn’t sell a device until the device was tested and met all the quality assurance requirements. Now Apple, infamous for their desire to control all ends of the user experience, is testing the carriers before it allows the iPhone access to their LTE networks.

Telecoms had initially heard of the tests in October but this week heard from an official Swisscom spokesperson that said “Apple only enables 4G access after testing their device on an operator’s live network”.

While extensive network testing of handsets has always been necessary, the focus has historically been on whether or not the handset functions on the network, with operators keen to protect their network assets and customer relationships against poor quality devices.

A handset vendor vetting networks on a technical basis before allowing its device to be used on them is a reversal of this situation, and one that Apple alone has the power to bring about.

Bengt Nordstrom, CEO of consultancy group NorthStream told Telecoms that he was “shocked” of hearing of the policy. Noting that it proved “who is running the industry” and that “Apple have put themselves in the driving seat; it’s really changing the game quite a lot.”

[via @BenedictEvans]


Apple’s New 21.5″ iMac Available This Friday, 27″ iMac Shipping In December

Apple has just announced that the new 21.5-inch iMac will be available for purchase online and in retail stores from this Friday, November 30th. The larger 27-inch iMac will be available for pre-order on Apple’s online store from Friday but it won’t ship until December.

Apple revealed the new look iMac at its iPad mini event back on October 23rd. The new design features a new tapered enclosure that is just 5mm thick at its thinnest point. Whilst on the hardware side, it includes a new Fusion Drive which combines the “performance of flash” and the “capacity of a hard drive” as well as a reengineered display and upgraded performance.

Redesigned from the inside out, the new iMac packs high performance technology into an aluminum and glass enclosure that measures just 5 mm thin at its edge and features a reengineered display that reduces reflection by 75 percent. The new iMac includes 8GB of 1600 MHz memory, a 1TB hard drive, third generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processors that can be upgraded to Core i7, and the latest NVIDIA GeForce graphics processors that deliver up to 60 percent faster performance.

Prices start from US$1,299 for the 21.5″ iMac with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M. The 27″ iMac will start at US$1799 and contain a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M. Apple has the full technical specs and prices up on its website.

The Glif For iPhone 5 Now Available

In an email to customers, Studio Neat has announced that the Glif is now available for the iPhone 5 on their online store and will start shipping next week. The standard Glif for iPhone 5 is available for $20, whilst the Glif+ which includes the ‘Serif’ (further secures your iPhone) and ‘Ligature’ (attatches the Glif to your keychain) is available for $30. Originally launched in late 2010, the Glif is quite an ingenious tripod mount and stand for the iPhone and was one of the first Kickstarter success stories.

We are happy to announce that the new Glif and Glif+ for iPhone 5 are on their way to the warehouse and will begin shipping early next week! The new Glif is like the previous version you know and love, just… 5-ier.

Studio Neat has since brought out The Cosmonaut (an stylus for capacitive touch screen devices such as the iPad and iPhone) and Frameographer (an iOS app to make time-lapse and stop motion movies). The duo behind Studio Neat, Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost also wrote about their experiences launching these products in a book called It Will Be Exhilihariting earlier this year.

Apple’s Black Friday Sale Now Live in Australia, New Zealand

As announced earlier this week, Apple has now launched the One-Day Shopping Event with discounts on iOS devices, Macs, and accessories. The event will propagate on Apple’s online stores across the world according to different time zones; right now, it is available on Apple’s Australian and New Zealand stores with a dedicated webpage.

Apple reports some important details on its website:

Enjoy special pricing on all the great gifts below. Buy online and get fast, free shipping. Or shop at your favourite Apple Retail Store, where you’ll enjoy faster checkout with Express Shopping.

Shopping event prices are solely available on 23 November, 2012, from 2:01 a.m. to 24 November, 2012, 1:59 a.m. in AEDT, are subject to change, and include GST. Promotional pricing cannot be combined with any other offers. Not all sale products are available in all Apple Retail Stores.

Starting with the iPad 2 and Retina iPad at the top of the list, the exclusive offer doesn’t include the iPad mini. Notably, for Macs, only portables are included, but there are accessories that are usually meant for desktop computers such as Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Apple’s Wireless Keyboard.

The official One-Day Shopping Event webpage is available here for Australian users. We’ll update this post with links to EU and US pricing as soon as they become available. Note only the base model prices are listed below.

  • iPad: A$498 – save A$41
  • iPad 2: A$398 – save A$31
  • iPod touch (5th gen): A$298 – save A$31
  • iPod touch (4th gen): A$194 – save A$25
  • iPod nano: A$158 – save A$11
  • MacBook Pro (13″ Retina): A$1,794 – save A$105
  • MacBook Pro: A$1,244 – save A$105
  • MacBook Air: A$994 – save A$105
  • AirPort Express Base Station: A$108 – save A$11
  • AirPort Extreme Base Station: A$178 – save A$21
  • Time Capsule: A$298 – save A$21
  • Apple Magic Mouse: A$64 – save A$11
  • Magic Trackpad: A$64 – save A$11
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard: A$64 – save A$11
  • iPad Smart Case: A$44 – save A$15
  • iPad Smart Cover (Polyurethane): A$34 – save A$11
  • iPad Smart Cover (Leather): A$58 – save A$21
  • Apple In-Ear Headphones: A$88 – save A$11
  • Apple EarPods: A$28 – save A$7

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City For iOS Release Date Set For December 6th

Rockstar has announced that the 10th Anniversary Edition of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City will arrive on iOS and Android on December 6th. Previously announced in late October, the Anniversary Edition will cost $4.99 and feature “native high-resolution graphics” with support for Retina display devices.

The game will also include “updated character models and lighting effects, new and more precise firing and targeting options and a fully customizable control layout”. It’ll be able to run on all iPads, iPhone 4 and newer, and the 4th and 5th generations of the iPod touch.

[Rockstar via Eurogamer]

Angry Birds Star Wars Now Available

Angry Birds Star Wars is now available for download on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Mac & Windows 8. The game is the fifth installment in the Angry Birds series from Rovio (following Seasons, Rio and Space) and is a collaboration with Star Wars creator Lucasfilm.

“It’s a banner day for us,” said Peter Vesterbacka, CMO of Rovio Entertainment. “This is our best Angry Birds game yet, and we’re excited for our fans to finally meet Luke, Leia, and the rest of the gang! But it’s more than just a game launch: we think fans are going to just love the new animated trailer and the Angry Birds Star Wars products, sure to be a big hit this holiday season.”

The game features more than 80 levels at launch including bonus levels that let you play as R2D2 and C-3PO birds. According to Polygon, which has a great review of the game, Angry Birds Star Wars currently “track the events of A New Hope, while a soon-to-be-released free Hoth level pack will dig into the beginning of Empire Strikes Back”. There’s also an in-app purchase for an additional level pack that is set in Dagobah that is available at launch for $1.99.

The makers of Angry Birds Star Wars have imagined how the the original Star Wars trilogy might have looked if performed by their coterie of birds and pigs — truly, a bizarre undertaking. Angry Birds Star Wars succeeds, though, because it is more than just a Star Wars tie-in. Polygon

Rovio and Lucasfilm also held a Google+ Hangout a few hours ago where they counted down to the launch whilst discussing the game and chatting with fans – that video is available to watch now.

Angry Birds Star Wars is available on:

“We can’t wait for fans around the world to experience the fun of launching the Angry Birds characters into the Star Wars universe,” said Colum Slevin, Vice President, Head of Studio Operations for Lucasfilm Ltd. “This is the kind of creative partnership that has helped Star Wars remain vibrant and beloved for over 35 years.”

October 2012 In Review

We’re back again with another month in review, and what a month October has been. On the news front there was, of course, the October 23rd Apple event which saw the launch of the iPad mini, fourth generation iPad,  13″ MacBook with Retina Display, new Mac mini and iMac. Apple also had their fourth quarter earnings call and remembered the first year anniversary since the passing of Steve Jobs.

October was also chock full of new apps and big app updates. Tapbots in particular had a big month with the launch of Netbot and Tweetbot for Mac, Marco Arment launched The Magazine, Loren Brichter made his comeback with Letterpress, Pocket released a Mac app, and iPad drawing app Paper got a big update.

On the stories front, Federico has had a lot of fun putting together a number of guides and tutorials this month and we’ve collected them all together below. Federico also interviewed Loren Brichter for the launch of his new Letterpress app, talked about the leadership changes at Apple and I mapped out the entertainment ecosystems of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Be sure to check out our previous Month in Review posts here

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