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Apr 27
Greg's bite: Apple explains the tracking...

By Greg Mills

Sort of an admission and a defense rolled up into one page... 

1. Apple denies ever tracking iPhone or iPads but the explanation doesn't mention the detailed location files with timestamps reported by
some researchers.  Apple claims the file amounts to sort of a map of cell towers and WiFi sources.  More information on the details of the Location logs needs to be given.

2. Users are confused?  Thanks a lot Apple, I will try not to hold my iPhone or iPad wrong.  

3. This answer does not explain GPS coordinates with time stamps found by some researchers.

4. Reducing both the size of the location cache and reducing the length of time it is held are good moves that fulfill privacy demands of uses.

5. The issue isn't as much Apple knowing who the data came from as someone accessing your personal location data without your consent and knowing who's device they are downloading the location information from....

| Read more »
Apr 27
Are the MacBook's days numbered?

A forum at MacObserver (http://macte.ch/iEa7D) ponders whether the MacBook's days are numbered. It's an interesting discussion -- and I think the consumer portable's days are indeed numbered.

With prices dropping (a little) on the MacBook Air, it could serve as a replacement in some cases for the MacBook, especially if Apple were to offer steep educational discounts. Of course, Apple could introduce an Air with a traditional hard drive instead of a pricey solid state drive, but that's almost certainly not going to happen.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro could also be touted as a replacement for the MacBook Air. The entry-level MB Pro costs US$1,199, which is only 200 bucks more than the MacBook (and that's not figuring in educational discounts). Of course, 200 bucks is a lot of money for students and schools. Apple could probably trim some off the price of a MB Pro by introducing a smaller hard drive -- say,...

| Read more »
Apr 26
Apple patent looks at reducing LCD display problems

A new Apple patent (number ) at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicates that Apple has perhaps at least considered making a television set, as some folks are predicting. Of course, the patent for "positioning a first surface in a pre-determined position relative to a second surface," can also pertains to an iMac, a Cinema Display, even laptops.

The patent is for a method and an apparatus for positioning a first device in relation to a second device. An optical signal from a first device is sent to a second device. A reflection of the optical signal from the second device is received. A position of one of the devices relative to the other device is adjusted based upon the reflection. Gabriel G. Marcu is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Innovations in the computer display area have resulted in dramatic improvements of products that are used for displaying computer input and output. Monitors attached to computers have...

| Read more »
Apr 26
Greg's bite: boycott Apple's location...

By Greg Mills

Since writing my somewhat blistering statement on Apple's iOS tracking issue on Monday, the tech press and general press have continued to pontificate wildly on the subject. Someone even claimed to have gotten an email from sjobs@mac.com denying Apple is tracking anyone, but that Android really does actually track people.  

I take sjobs@mac.com rumors with the same skepticism as little green men landing in Washington DC. Perhaps the little green men could be persuaded to kidnap the US Congress should they land in DC.  

In case there is some twisted dialect of the English language (no offense to Southerners with their distinctive speech impediments) where continuously electronically locating someone and creating a secret year long record of where they were, complete with down to the second dated time stamps isn't "tracking people." Let me be...

| Read more »
Apr 26
How about an iMac with a retina display?


High resolution artwork discovered in the latest build of Mac OS X Lion indicates that Apple could be planning to bring a Retina display to the Mac. If true wouldn't that make a great feature for the next rev of the iMac.

Preview 2 of Lion features icons in sizes up to 1024×1024, and a desktop background at a resolution of 3200×3200. According to "MacRumors" (http://www.macrumors.com), Apple has reportedly built in support for what it calls “HiDPI display modes." These HiDPI modes allow developers to supply 2x-enlarged images to support double-high resolution displays. Like the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, this means that user interface elements will remain the same size, but everything will be twice the resolution and therefore twice as detailed, says "MacRumors."

Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution....

| Read more »
Apr 26
Apple wins patents for sales system, iPhones, iPods

Apple has won several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving its retail stores' sales system, iPhones and iPods.

Patent number 7933807 is for a stored order system for electronic commerce. In other words, it's for the payment system used in Apple retail stores. Per the patent, a stored order system is used with a shopping cart application for an electronic commerce site. The items of each stored order are saved together, which is an advantage when a main item and accessories are combined in an order. Additionally, a stored order can be emailed to another person. The email message allows the recipient to purchase the items of the stored order. The inventors are Eduardo Cue, Daniel Marusich, Glenn D. Epis and Judy D. Halchin.

Patent number 7933123 involves a portable electronic design with two-piece housing -- the design of the iPhone and iPod touch. Portable electronic devices are provided. Each device may be formed...

| Read more »
Apr 25
Greg's bite: Location iNsecure, a Rotten Apple...

By Greg Mills

Steve Jobs is the new evil Big Brother. I would like to retract my statement posted November 21, 2010: "Jobs and Apple gone evil? Not so." Remember the iconic Apple commercial of the woman running down the aisle and throwing a hammer at the theater screen picture of big brother (as in the Orwellian novel "1984")?   The evil dictator's image was shattered and we all cheered. Could Steve Job's face become the modern big brother image? This sort of location tracking that came to light last week, previously reserved for the most dangerous criminals has been applied to us all by Apple, and for what? So that Apple could sell stinking pizzas!?

As news of the audaciousness of Apple secretly tracking and recording the detailed movements of everyone who innocently purchased the hugely popular iPhone and iPad sinks in, the question of why Apple did it comes to mind.  While some still want to give Apple the benefit...

| Read more »
Apr 25
An insanely great Apple iCar

By Andrew Eisner

While we were working on our report on future Apple products we started to wonder what an official Apple car might look like.

Of course, the car would be simple and fun to operate and incorporate all those benefits and limitations of being part of the Apple family but who knows if something like this could ever get beyond the drawing board. Unfortunately, we're pretty sure we'll never see a real iCar but that didn't stop us from dreaming up a list of features we think we could see in a Steve Job- inspired incredible, amazingly beautiful, revolutionary transportation device.

Drivers don't need more than one button

There will only be one button used to make the car run. The big question will be whether the button is used to make the car go, or make it stop?

A patent is pending on a new car UI

Other functions in the car will be controlled by swiping and tapping somewhere on...

| Read more »
Apr 25
3D Blu-ray disc popularity to explode

It's been a while since I took the time to lament the lack of Blu-ray (which Steve Jobs has called a "bag of hurt") on the Mac. So it's time for another lamentation with good news of sales on the Blu-ray front.

But IHS Screen Digest says 3D technology is about to find a real foothold among fans of Blu-ray discs. Some 3.2 million homes this year will have the equipment needed to watch Blu-ray discs in 3D. That a 305% increase over last year.

The 3D discs can be played on Sony's PlayStation 3 consoles as well as 3D-enabled Blu-ray players. Studios will release about 65 titles on 3D Blu-ray this year, IHS says. That total will include 15 from Disney such as "Tron," "Beauty And The Beast" and "The Lion King."

As a result, the research firm predicts that US consumers will spend US$160.8 million this year on discs that provide 3D images to 3D-enabled TV sets. IHS figures that consumers will buy 5.7 million 3D discs at an average of $28.33 a pop. That contrasts with...

| Read more »
Apr 22
Greg's bite: Apple iNSECURE for business use

By Greg Mills

This is important news, Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad are not suitable for business use.

While Apple has been pushing for respect from the business community due to increased security features found on Mac computers, iPhone and iPad, it seems they were at the same time secretly gathering location data from unsuspecting users. Apple intentionally created a permanent cache on iPhones and iPad that records its users locations with date stamps.  

This cache is persistently and insecurely backed up on the computer used to sync with the iOS device. This makes both iOS devices absolutely unsuitable for business use due to "location record insecurity."   

On Thursday, CNN broke the story on network TV regarding the surprising intentional insecurity of the Apple infrastructure regarding stored location information. This data was gathered without users opting in and without any way to...

| Read more »
Apr 22
Dell and Intel are right: the computer is far from...

Here are some words you probably won't hear often from me: I agree with Dell. Let me explain.

In February 2011, Dell and Intel commissioned Forrester Consulting to leverage its Forrsights Workforce Employee survey along with supplemental customer survey analysis to determine IT decision-makers' adoption plans for tablets in the enterprise. Forrester discovered that notebooks, desktops and smartphones were found to be “must-have” devices, while tablets, slates, and netbooks were “nice-to-have” technologies.

The study says tablets can bring new benefits to a work environment, such as increased productivity, flexibility and mobility, but they also bring with them security and management challenges. They can replace paper-based systems and introduce new productivity places, but this only makes them a companion device, not a replacement for existing computers, according to the study, which is a position I've espoused for a long time.

In the Virtual Era, where we're...

| Read more »
Apr 21
iOS security issue giving Apple a big, black eye

Apple once blasted Big Brother. Now some folks think it's becoming Big Brother with concerns over the company's "spying" features in iOS 4, a matter that's giving the company a big black eye. Maybe two.

Security researchers at Privacy International (https://www.privacyinternational.org) says that iOS 4 keeps track of where you go and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronized, according to "The Guardian" (http://macte.ch/RcpCR).

Like many others, US Senator Al Franken isn't happy with the situation, which he says raises "serious privacy concerns." He's sent a letter -- which you can read in its entirety at...

| Read more »
Apr 21
Apple working on portable device covers with...

Think the Smart Cover for the iPad 2 is intelligent? Just wait. Apple is working on follow-up devices that may reach the genius level. An Apple patent (number 20110090626) for a cover for a portable electronic device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, the cover can include at least one electrical component. For example, in one embodiment, an electrical component can be embedded in the cover. When the cover is placed on or mated with the portable electronic device, the electrical component embedded in the cover is able to interact with electrical circuitry of the portable electronic device. Advantageously, the cover can not only provide a protective and/or ornamental covering for the portable electronic device but can also augment the electrical capabilities of the portable electronic device. The inventors are Quin C. Hoellwarth and Brett Gregory Alten.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Typically, the surfaces...

| Read more »
Apr 21
Greg's bite: iOS 4 tracks your every move

By Greg Mills

The notion of privacy is a right only inferred by the Constitution of the Untied States rather than being a specifically enumerated right, such as those rights mentioned in the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion is an example of an enumerated right.  

The courts have found that an inherent "expectation of privacy" in most situations exists for us all. Without a warrant the government may not search our homes or dig into our private papers, for example. Little did I suspect the iPhone and iPad I carry most of the time represent an incredible potential invasion of my privacy.

Apple has gone on record as supporting the right of privacy for users of Apple devices. Steve Jobs has publicly stated that tracking users of web browsers without them "opting in" for such tracking is wrong. I agree. 

Recently, it was announced that the Apple Safari web browser under Mac OS Lion would have a "do not track" preference...

| Read more »
Apr 21
Apple patent is for an electronic sighting compass

An Apple patent (number 20110090244) for an electronic sighting compass has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to a portable electronic device -- iPhones, no doubt, as well as, perhaps, iPod touches and iPads -- having a compass function and, more particularly, to a device wherein the compass function is integrated with a camera function to provide an electronic sighting compass.

Per the patent, a portable electronic device provides a compass bearing display juxtaposed with or superimposed on a camera viewfinder display. The device includes an image sensor and an electronic compass. When the device is held with the image sensor pointed in a generally horizontal direction, the displayed viewfinder image from the image sensor is combined with a graphic indicating a compass bearing corresponding to the imaging axis of the image sensor. The display may be presented as a linear scale to indicate off-axis headings as well. Achim Pantfoerder is...

| Read more »
Apr 21
Mac beats the growth of PC industry overall -- again

Though iPad sales were less than anticipated and iPod sales were (as expected) down, Apple had a bang-up fiscal 2011 second quarter with great Mac and iPhone sales. So how did I do on my predictions? Let's see...

What I predicted:

iPhone unit sales: 17.7 million
iPod unit sales: 10.3 million
Mac unit sales: 3.7 million
iPad unit sales: 7.5 million
Revenue: $24 billion
EPS: $5.90

The real results:

iPhone unit sales: 18.65 million
iPod unit sales: 9.02 million
Mac unit sales: 3.76 million
iPad unit sales: 4.69 million
Revenue: $24.67 billion
EPS: $6.40

The Mac has been beating the overall PC industry in terms of growth for 20 consecutive quarters. But, as noted by (http://www.asymco.com) -- a site that offers "curated market intelligence" -- if you count the iPad too, the difference is astounding.

The bottom line is...

| Read more »
Apr 21
Apple granted 'unibody' design patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110088838) for self fixturing assembly techniques used in creating the "unibody" design of many Macs, including the portable line.

A process, apparatus, and system for joining at least two work pieces together using at least two adhesives each having substantially different cure times. A first adhesive having a first cure time is used to form a first bond between the two workpieces, the first adhesive having a first cure time.

A second adhesive having a second cure time, the second cure time being substantially shorter than the first cure time is used to form a fixturing bond. The fixturing bond maintaining the first and second workpieces in position prior to the first adhesive curing. The inventors are Peter M. Thompson, Martin Adamcyk, Timothy G. Van Vorhis, Arthur J. Lucchesi, Thomas A. Moore and Matthew B. Morris.

Here's Apple's summary of the patent: The outward appearance of a portable computing device,...

| Read more »
Apr 21
Great companies, lousy stocks

By Bill Gunderson
of Gunderson Capital Management (http://www.PWstreet.com)

I’m selling my book on-line. Thanks to Google AdWords, they are flying through cyberspace.

Does that mean I am telling my clients to rush out and buy Google?

Not a chance.

Johnson & Johnson make some of the most trusted health care products in the world. Surely there is room in my list of 157 Best Stocks Now for such an important part of our national life. No. Not if you want to make money.

I’m using Microsoft products to write, send and read this article. Don’t even think about putting this in your portfolio.

These are all good companies. Great companies. But lousy stocks. Let’s see why.

When Google went public seven years ago, it made a lot of people a lot of money. When the company founders told Wall Street analysts they were not going to play the quarterly...

| Read more »
Apr 20
Greg's bite: RIM's PlayBook teardown

By Greg Mills

As with most any piece of new electronic hardware, the iFixit site sends someone to stand in line to scoop up one unit for immediate teardown. They meticulously pry the darn thing open and prepare a parts list of the innards.  

They estimate the cost to assemble the device and what the parts list amounts to. Then they post pictures and cost to manufacture the new item for all the world to see (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/BlackBerry-PlayBook-Teardown/5265/1).

As it turns out PlayBook is pretty well constructed and has four speakers, two cameras and pretty good memory and processors. Today at 3 pm (Eastern) iFixit will release their estimated cost to manufacture the PlayBook. They are working to identify all the chips and parts used to estimate a likely cost to RIM for each...

| Read more »
Apr 20
My predictions for Apple's financial announcements

Apple will announce its fiscal year 2011 second quarter results this afternoon. As always, I'm offering my predictions on what to expect.

For the quarter, analysts are predicting net earnings of US$5.35 per share on revenue of $23.27 billion, above Apple's guidance of $4.90 profit per share on $22 billion of revenue. Apple's year-ago results for the second fiscal quarter of 2010 included net earnings of $3.33 per share on revenue of $13.50 billion. Here's my forecast:

iPhone unit sales: 17.7 million
iPod unit sales: 10.3 million
Mac unit sales: 3.7 million
iPad unit sales: 7.5 million
Revenue: $24 billion
EPS: $5.90

Tune in later today to see how I did...

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Apr 19
Apple patents relate to Apple TV, iTunes, iTV

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Apple TV (referred to as the iTV in the patents) and iTunes. They could also relate to the rumored HDTV Apple is working on, if you buy into those rumors.

Patent number 7930650 is for an user interface with menu abstractions and content abstractions. Per the patent media menu items are generated within a media interface environment. Media menu item abstractions are generated, one of the media menu item abstractions arranged in a foreground position, and one or more of the media menu item abstractions arranged in background positions in the media interface environment. Selection of a media menu items transitions to a corresponding content menu interface. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Claire Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu, Eric Taylor Seymour, Jeff Robbin and Thomas Micheal Madden.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media devices, such as...

| Read more »
Apr 19
Greg's bite: Apple sues and gets sued again

By Greg Mills

Anyone who reads a lot about Apple and the tech world run into articles regarding lawsuits over various patents, trademarks and other legal issues between the major tech players. One of the boiler plate lines in standard incorporations papers is the line that the new corporations can "sue and be sued." As a legal "person" corporations can be sued for the things they do or fail to do, especially performing or not preforming contractual duties. Corporations can also own real property and "intellectual property".  

Intellectual property amounts to ideas that are protected by law, such as patented inventions, copyrights, trademarks and the like. To understand the current legal bluster from Apple, one needs to recall the history of the company and the long running and bitter battle Apple fought with Microsoft over the look and feel of the Mac OS, which Bill Gates famously "used" to create Windows 1.   

... | Read more »
Apr 19
eBooks enjoy triple digital percentage growth in...

In what has to be good news for Apple and its iBookstore, the February 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers, shows that eBooks enjoyed triple digital percentage growth (202.3%) in February 2011 compared to February 2010.

The report, produced by the trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, tracks monthly and year-to-date publishers’ net sales revenue in all categories of commercial, education, professional and scholarly books and journals. For February 2011, eBooks ranked as the number one format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children’s/Young Adult Hardcover, Children’s/Young Adult Paperback).

This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday eBook buying, or “loading,” by consumers who received eReader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of eReaders introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of...

| Read more »
Apr 19
Apple wins iPhone, iPod touch patents

Apple has been granted three patents relating to the iPhone and iPod touch by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 7928965 is for a touch screen RFID tag reader. The efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry is disclosed. The RFID antenna can be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel can now additionally function as an RFID transponder. No separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary.

Loops (single or multiple) forming the loop antenna of the RFID circuit (for either reader or tag applications) can be formed from metal on the same layer as metal traces formed in the borders of a substrate. Forming loops from metal on the same layer as the metal traces are advantageous in that the loops can be formed during the same processing step as the metal traces, without requiring a separate metal layer. The inventors are Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt and Steve Porter Hotelling.

Patent...

| Read more »
Apr 18
Greg's bite: RIM PlayBook pre-flops; Android...

By Greg Mills

RIM's PlayBook is badly flawed. As I have blogged in this space for some time now, RIM's PlayBook appears to be fatally flawed in a number of ways, coming out of the gate. The tech world, having become accustomed to vaporware from Microsoft that never arrives as advertised, is bracing for delays in RIM actually launching critical software for the half-baked PlayBook platform.

RIM thinks the BlackBerry faithful will buy PlayBook despite notable deficiencies such as no email client, GPS or radio versions of the tablet. Just about all the functions promised are not ready to launch with the hardware. This promises to be a "shoot your own foot" sort of product that might actually eclipse Microsoft's Kin phone. Did you know Kin phones won't run Windows Mobile 7?

With much fanfare RIM recently announced that the PlayBook platform would support Android apps running on a promised but non-existing Android run-time app. When...

| Read more »
 
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