AWT News Update: July 11, 2017

"Open up those 'Purley' gates..."

"Open up those 'Purley' gates..."

Today's AWT News Update podcast is a bit longer than usual, with stories about both Apple and some of its competitors:

  • Intel's "Purley" Xeon processors were announced today...and the chips that Apple intends to use for the iMac Pro didn't appear to be part of the announcements
  • The Toshiba memory unit sale continues to be a confusing mess, with the company now reportedly talking to two of the "losers" in earlier bidding, including a Foxconn/Apple consortium
  • Apple's retail plans for India include two huge stores in New Delhi and Mumbai
  • What's Amazon doing to try to stave off competition from Apple HomePod and its HomeKit integration? Hiring employees to do consultations and installation

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The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update for July 11th, 2017.

Today, Intel unveiled the “Purley” Xeon processors, which many pundits thought would be perfect for the iMac Pro. At the announcement of the iMac Pro, Apple said it would be using Intel’s Xeon processors with 8, 10, and 18 core chips available as options, with those chips having up to 42MB of cache and Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.5 GHz. Well, none of the chips announced today meet those specifications, with the maximum Turbo Boost speed being 3.8 GHz with only a 38.5MB cache. What this could mean is that Intel has additional Purley chips in design that have not yet been announced, but will be available for the December release date of the iMac Pro. Firmware files scoured in the macOS High Sierra beta show that Apple is planning on using the server-grade Purley Skylake-SP processors rather than traditional desktop-class processors.

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As you’ll remember from earlier episodes of the AWT News Update, Toshiba had picked a consortium of two Japanese Government finance firms, Bain Capital, and South Korean memory maker SK Hynix as the winning — but not necessarily highest — bidders for its memory business. There was some concern about that from Western Digital, since the company did not want its intellectual property that is used in Toshiba’s products going to SK Hynix. Now word is out that Toshiba has informed creditor banks that it is negotiating with two other parties — Western Digital and the Foxconn consortium that also includes Apple, Dell and Kingston. What’s really odd is that Toshiba launched a $1.07 billion lawsuit against Western Digital in late June in hope of keeping the sale of its chip unit on track. It’s unlikely that the Foxconn consortium would win, but that would help Apple, Dell and Kingston to have a steady supply of reasonably-priced memory.

We’ve talked quite a bit about Apple’s interest in expanding into the market for smartphones, tablets and computers in India. Now comes word that Apple’s planning to build its largest ever retail stores in India. Around the world, the average global Apple Store size is about 8,500 square feet. The company is looking at stores of up to 15,000 square feet in prime locations in New Delhi and Mumbai. Right now, Apple sells its products in India through exclusive brand stores run by franchisees, multi-branded neighborhood electronics stores, and eCommerce marketplaces. The company still needs to get approval for its plans to make investments in the country, throwing the opening date for the stores back to at least 2020. Apple had a team in India last month to meet realtors and mall managers, better understand the retail market in the country, and to give specifications for the planned outlets to real estate consultants. Unsurprisingly, all the parties Apple talked to signed non-disclosure agreements.

With interest in Apple’s HomePod and its integration with HomeKit for home automation purposes running high, Amazon is trying to nail down a large part of the home automation market before Apple has a chance to take a chunk of that market. Part of Amazon’s strategy involves having in-house gadget experts to offer free Alexa consultations and then install products for a fee. The offering is available in seven markets and hasn’t been widely advertised, but the idea is quite smart — sell homeowners Alexa and compatible home automation devices, then install them and make sure that they’re working properly. Amazon is hiring its own personnel to do the consultations, with appointments now available in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Orange County. Amazon is also looking at hiring in places like Tampa, Hoboken, Miami, Orlando, Houston, Dallas and Las Vegas. And get this — if you have been an Apple Genius or Geek Squad Double Agent, you’re probably prime for hiring. The in home visits are reportedly quite popular, with 95 percent of the 551 reviews for the free consultations rated at 5 stars.

That’s all for today ; I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.