Tag Archives: Macbook

Apple’s Public Secret: Macs and PC Gaming

For those financial analysts who took the time to comb through Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter results last year, it was noted that despite overall declines, Apple Services – the division which includes Apple Music, Apple Pay, and the App Store – posted very healthy growth of 24% up to $6.3 billion. If this growth continues the Services division is on track to become a Fortune 100 company in its own right later this year. A decent proportion of that revenue will come from mobile games. It’s fair to say that mobile gaming has a far wider market reach than console or PC, partly due to cost and accessibility; the success of apps like Angry Birds and Pokémon GO are a testament to its appeal. Indeed, mobile gaming is generally seen as socially more acceptable than PC or console gaming, which still has a reputation (at least in many European countries) as being the preserve of the youth and hobbyists where a much larger financial commitment is required.

Despite the importance of gaming to the mobile platform, and increasingly to the stagnating PC market, Apple has resisted overtly marketing towards gamers, instead leaving that up to individual app studios. This is understandable for a brand which positions itself as luxury/lifestyle, the technical equivalent to a designer fashion label, allowing for Apple products to perpetually command high ASPs. Just as the iPhone/iPad is now the gaming platform of choice for many consumers, Macs can be considered a PC gaming alternative. According to the latest survey from Valve’s Steam cloud gaming platform – the most important global online shop for PC games – Mac OSX now makes up 3% of all users, with 50% of those users being Macbook Pro owners. Back in 2015 Valve stated that Steam had over 125 million players, meaning that even two years ago there were 3.75m Mac OS gamers on their platform alone. Looking further into Steam’s data, the top selling games for Mac OSX include all of the world’s biggest eSports titles such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

A common question repeatedly asked by channel and vendor partners is why CONTEXT includes Macs as part of the PC gaming market. The simple answer is that when the PC market is segmented according to what is gaming capable based upon system specs, Macs are part of the gaming market. At the low-end of the market, Apple has a healthy share thanks to the high number of iMacs utilising the AMD Radeon R9 M390 and similar GPUs. This configuration will not allow for full GFX settings on many AAA game titles, however it will still run popular games with acceptable framerates. Thanks to Apple’s announcement in early June that high-end VR-ready GPUs would soon be available either as a tethered add-on or as a standard system spec, Macs will be better equipped to compete in the enthusiast-end of the PC gaming market. In the case of the Thunderbolt 3 external GPU, this allows for a VR-ready upgrade at $599. This might seem steep given that AMD’s Radeon RX 580 retails for $300, however $599 is still cheaper than buying a new VR-ready notebook, and the dev kit also comes with a $100 discount on the HTC Vive.

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In the fashion world, high-end products are sometimes adopted by a non-target market – the story of Burberry’s clothing in the UK is a good example – and PCs have a history of being co-opted for purposes beyond the vendor intention. In the end, consumers will always have the final say on how they want to use a technology; as the Apple Services financials show, a vendor may wish to keep their success a public secret.

by JW

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Filed under gaming, Mobile technology, PCs

The iPhone 6 and 6Plus – just what we expected and thank goodness we did get the two screen sizes!

It did not start well. I switched on the TV, fired up the Apple TV, and me and my wife settled down with a cool glass of Pino Grigio to watch Tim Cook and gang reveal all at Apple’s Flint Center event.

The broadcast started. But what was that in the background? Simultaneous translations mixed in with Tim Cook’s opening. Bedlam.

I can’t watch this, said my wife, it’s awful.

Suddenly the Apple TV stopped. Black screen and message Content Not Available – Try Again Later. Then a TV test screen appeared, and a few seconds later the broadcast started again, but with the translation. From the beginning.

I dumped my glass of wine and  fired up my iPad mini, got the broadcast going on Safari, but still the multiple sound track. OK, let’s try the big guns, so I junked the iPad and switched on the MacBook Pro.

Same problem.

I’m watching TV, said my wife, this is a total waste of time.

Not the best start to the world’s most anticipated product launch from the world leader in making technology accessible to the masses.

But it was worth the wait and multiple restarts on the live stream. The iPhone 6 and 6Plus – just what we expected and thank goodness we did get the two screen sizes.

Apple Pay, long rumoured but the scope surprises. Getting all the partners lined up is an amazing achievement.

But the jewel in the event’s crown has to be Apple Watch, exceeding all expectations with stunning designs, and the brilliantly simple and elegant Digital Crown controller. The user interface looks easy and intuitive. And what a slam dunk with the three model ranges and optional straps. They have the market covered and at surprisingly accessible price range.

At a stroke Apple have redefined the category, which is what they do best, and just what they needed to do today. Phew!

And I’m joining the queue for the iPhone 6plus, and putting my iPads out to pasture. Can’t wait!

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Filed under Mobile technology