Apple’s Sales, Astronomically Speaking

Apple recently announced its results for the three months ended June 25. More than $7 billion in net income for the quarter — not bad. I’ve been thinking about the massive scale of our aggregate consumption, though, so a couple of other numbers were more interesting.

The company sold 9.25 million iPad 2’s in the quarter. And 20.34 million iPhones.

The iPad is 0.34 inches thick. So if you stacked up the sales from that single quarter, you would have a 49.64 mile-high column of iPads. NASA awards astronaut wings to those who fly 50 miles up or higher.

The iPhone 4 is 0.37 inches thick, so their stack would climb to an altitude of about 119 miles. Mount Everest tops out at 5.5 miles above sea level.

The lesson? A sliver (in this case, a very sexy, high-tech sliver) of consumption for man is, on the whole, an astronomical use of resources for mankind.

Five bucks well spent

The CU Center for Environmental Journalism forwarded a note with this link this morning, to a Wired.com article about how Al Gore and Push Up Press are aiming to “blow up the book.” As someone who recently wrote a book and then converted it into Kindle and ePub formats, this caught my attention. Push Up Press, founded by two former Apple guys, has created an app for books, as opposed using the Amazon Kindle or ePub formats, which are all HTML (standard web language) based. “Our Choice” is their inaugural product.

It’s amazing what they’ve done with “Our Choice,” Al Gore’s 2009 book. The print version is full of great images and artfully done, and a great place to start if you’re looking for a rundown on renewable energy technologies, biofuels, energy efficiency approaches, political and sociocultural considerations, population and environmental issues and other facts of the climate change mitigation/adaptation puzzle. This app, which I bought for my wife’s (well, mostly my wife’s) iPad and which, for the moment costs, $4.99, brings the graphics to life; lets you click on photos to understand exactly where Shishmaref, Alaska or Guazhou, China are; and has embedded videos as well as animations in which with Gore narrates how wind turbines, geothermal plants, solar concentrators and so on work. This iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch version has also been editorially updated and has tons more pictures than the book (such as of wind turbines in Guazhou, China).

Whether the “Our Choice” app is a model for the future of e-publishing, I don’t know. The book’s topics are visual and topical, and they lend themselves to multimedia. Publishers will have to invest more in their books to make this standard. A novel about an Elizabethan-era romance won’t gain much by it. Reading fiction and narrative nonfiction is ultimately about visualizing scenes in the mind, the ultimate multimedia tool. It must have cost a fortune to create this thing.

It’s also not searchable, at least as far as I can tell, and while the scroll bar at bottom’s pretty useful, there’s no table of contents page that gives a quick overview.

But man, is it worth the five bucks.