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Sep 22
Greg's Bite: Flummoxed HP fires CEO

By Greg Mills

Flummoxed means confused and bewildered, not dead. When Steve Jobs pronounced the iPad competition flummoxed, he said what he felt and he was right.

HP, formerly the most prolific PC box maker out there, threw in the towel on its Touch Pad, a Palm OS touch screen tablet, and, while they were at it, decided to get out of the PC business. Not only did the Apple iPad kill their mobile device entry, the Mac is killing the PC business as well. The stock for HP gyrated wildly into a downwards spiral and has lost 47% of its value over the short term of its just fired CEO, Leo Apotheker. (See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-22/hewlett-packard-shares-reeling-... .)

This...

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Sep 22
Computer price wars won't hurt the Mac

Jonny Evans of "Computerworld" recently pondered (http://macte.ch/a5Gcj) whether an impending price war between computer vendors such as Acer and Lenova will hurt Mac sales. I don't think so.

"In truth, this is a game Apple's been fighting a long, long, long, long time. Apple's Macs have never been the cheapest on the market, and even that short-term commitment to a sub-$500 Mac with the Mac mini and (earlier) the education-only eMac did little to dissuade PC purchasers that the company's kit is pricier than most," writes Evans.

However, when it comes to the Mac, as with all Apple products, most folks are willing to pay a little more for better quality. Mac sales have increased at record rates even during this dismal global economy. During the 12 months that ended in late June, the Mac brand achieved an impressive 22.86% gain in revenue for a total of $20.38 billion.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs...

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Sep 21
Ultraviolet, iTunes and the Apple-shaped hole

While seamless device portability for high quality content has become the hallmark of successful digital media strategies, Ultraviolet -- a competing digital content and device ecosystem to iTunes -- must address a range of challenges if it's to drive meaningful consumer adoption, according to a new study from the Strategy Analytics Digital Media service (http://www.strategy.com).

The broadly-backed Ultraviolet initiative may struggle in the face of Apple dominance in the digital media content and device landscape, according to the research group. The question is: does Apple have a viable alternative? iTunes, in its present form, isn't. Apple and Disney aren't part of the Ultraviolet alliance and are purportedly teaming up for a competing solution called KeyChest.

“Given the scale of the challenges facing Ultraviolet it is just as well that the strengths and capabilities of its backers are the most...

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Sep 20
Patent is for ordered inverted index on the Mac

A new Apple patent (number 8024322) for an ordered index at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows the company is eyeing ways to improve searching on a Mac through methods such as an ordered inverted index.

Per the patent, systems and methods for processing an index are described. A postings list of items containing a particular term are ordered in a desired retrieval order, e.g., most recent first. The ordered items are inserted into an inverted index in the desired retrieval order, resulting in an ordered inverted index from which items may be efficiently retrieved in the desired retrieval order.

During retrieval, items may first be retrieved from a live index, and the retrieved items from the live and ordered indexes may be merged. The retrieved items may also be filtered in accordance with the items' file grouping parameters. The inventors are Wayne Loofbourrow, John Martin Hoernkvist, Eric Richard Koebler and Yan Arryouye.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Sep 20
Apple patent involves podcasting support

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8020762) for techniques and systems for supporting podcasting.

The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts. According to one aspect, a client application can subscribe to podcasts and then automatically monitor the podcasts for updates to be downloaded. In the event that user interest in a podcast becomes inadequate, downloading of further updates can be restricted. According to another aspect, a podcast can be subscribed to through use of a portable subscription file. According to still another aspect, podcast feeds can be enhanced to include segment elements and other metadata. The inventors are Anne Jones, Thomas Dowdy, Jeffrey Robbin, Mike Wiese and Stephen Davis.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks, that can be played or displayed on the media...

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Sep 20
iMessage, iChat and FaceTime

According to MacRumors (http://www.macrumors.com), Apple is working on building iMessage support into Lion's iChat instant messaging software. That only makes sense as it's a natural progression.

iMessage is a messaging service will be built into the upcoming iOS 5 , due this fall. You'll purportedly be able to send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. You'll be able to do group messaging, track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone's typing, and encrypt text messages.

With the ongoing blending of OS X and iOS, iMessage support on the Mac seems inevitable so Mac users and Lion users will be able to send "imessages" to each other in real time.

I also hope Apple gets around to "opening up" FaceTime. FaceTime is a video calling app that lets you communicate between Macs, iPad 2s, iPhone 4s and iPod touches. It was supposed to be a...

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Sep 20
Apple wins patent regarding solar cells

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8022571) relating to power management circuitry and solar cells. The patent is directed to methods, systems, and apparatuses for implementing circuitry that can be used to control multiple solar cells to generate power for a portable electronic device.

For example, in response to determining that one or more of the solar cells is generating a reduce voltage output (e.g., due to a partial obstruction of one or more of the solar cells), the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a constant preset voltage, as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating. The voltage generated by the solar cells can then be boosted to a value suitable for powering the portable electronic device and/or any of its individual components.

As another example, the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a startup voltage to directly power the portable electronic device and/or any of its components....

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Sep 20
Apple files patent for query result iteration

An Apple patent (number 8024351) for a query result iteration has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods for processing an index are described.

Per the patent, a pulse in an inverted index refers to a group of items that do not occur in any other pulse in the index. When processing a query against an inverted index in which pulses are present, the query is processed against a single pulse. The end of the pulse is determined based on the characteristics of the pulse and the linked list nodes that comprise the postings lists from which the index was generated. In some embodiments, index updates are applied to the query result obtained from a single pulse to provide an efficient and up to date query result. The inventors are John Martin Hornkvist.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Modern data processing systems, such as general purpose computer systems, allow the users of such systems to create a variety of...

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Sep 19
Greg's Bite: Windows Strategic Plan

Posted by Greg Mills

The press, especially MSNBC, is loaded these days with glowing stories about Microsoft's Windows 8. I do not claim to be an expert on anything Microsoft, as I avoid their software like the plague. In my experience, OS X almost never crashes, but when it does go down, it is normally a Microsoft app that did it.

I have noticed interesting differences between Apple and Microsoft in their strategic approach to mobile platforms. That is the focus of this article.

Apple launched the iOS to support the iPhone. Modern mobile computers and smartphones require a robust operating system that can do the cell phone functions as well as run iPod, camera, GPS, web and apps. Built upon the fresh and clean iOS foundation they expanded the iPhone iOS to run on iPad as well. In the Apple world we have the Mac OS X which runs Apple personal computers and the Mac iOS to run mobile devices. Apple is betting that mobile computers will...

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Sep 19
Internet-connected devices in the living room under-...

Interpret (http://www.interpretllc.com) -- an entertainment, media and technology market research firm -- recently released two Interpretations reports: "The State of Internet-Connected Living Rooms" and "Streaming Music: Will It Replace the CD and MP3?"

The "Living Rooms" report reveals that although Internet-connected devices in the living room have Proliferated to over half of U.S. consumers, they remain underutilized for TV and movie entertainment. For example, according to Interpret's New Media Measure syndicated study, only 22% of those who own a gaming console connected to the Internet have used it to stream a movie or TV show, and among owners of set-top boxes such as Apple TV or Roku, that number is even lower (18%). Obviously, Apple has a lot of catching up to do in this area -- and plenty of room for growth.

The "Streaming Music" report discusses the impact that streaming and "...

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Sep 16
Can Apple 'save' the consumer 3D market?

3D TV in homes has gotten a tepid reception, but Apple seems to have big plans for 3D technology. Patent number 8018579 for a 3D imaging and display system indicates that 3D manipulation may be part of future Mac OS X and iOS devices.

A three-dimensional imaging and display system is provided in the patent. Apple says that, despite all the current 3D solutions and technologies, there's a need for an "uncomplicated, economical, yet highly effective 3D input devices for computers."

Such devices need to be able to detect, analyze, and measure objects located in a 3D volume, and to observe and track motions (think Microsoft's Kinect technology for the Xbox). Apple is eyeing devices that would be designed compatibly for use with 3D graphically intensive activities.

They need to be capable of operating by optically sensing object or human positions, orientations, and/or motions. For reasons of cost as well as user convenience, they should be compact and capable of...

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Sep 15
Greg's Bite: Samsung was leaking Apple secrets

When electronics parts companies land a contract with Apple the business can be quite lucrative. Apple uses a significant supply of electronic parts of all types and demands the newest and best of everything. The wonderful news that you are now doing business with the largest company in the world is tempered with a contract that ties you in knots regarding secrecy, quality controls and details too numerous for this article.

One of the most important issues to Apple is secrecy. Working in a black box environment is critical for Apple to have an extra year or so before the copy cats reverse engineer Apple products and launch a "me-too" iWhatever.

Samsung, in addition to its line of retail electronics products, manufactures and sells an amazing variety of parts to Apple. The love/hate relationship between the companies is well known. On one hand, Apple likes the Samsung parts that make Apple products sparkle, but at the same time Samsung has abused its relationship with...

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Sep 15
'Consumerization of IT' looking good for...

Dell KACE (http://twitter.com/#!/DellKACE) has announced the results from a new global survey of nearly 750 IT professionals on the effect that personal devices have on business demonstrating the growing "consumerization of IT" trend. And the survey shows some positive results for Apple.

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed reported their personal devices have created the need for organizations to support multiple operating systems. What's more, 60% reported a greater demand for support of Mac OS X since the introduction of the Apple iPad and iPhone.

The survey finds that many (62%) IT managers feel they lack the necessary tools to properly manage personal devices. Conducted by Dimensional Research and commissioned by Dell KACE, the survey revealed 87% of companies have employees that use some kind of personal device for work including laptops, smartphones and tablet computers but are unable to effectively protect corporate data and intellectual property as well as...

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Sep 15
Apple patent involves RFID device circuitry

An Apple patent (number 20110221575) that has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows some of the company's plans for RFID device circuitry. It relates to radio frequency identification (RFID) circuitry, and more particularly, to electronic devices that can selectively cause the RFID circuitry to provide a message indicative of an event associated with the device.

Per the patent An electronic device with RFID circuitry is provided. The electronic device is operative to instruct the RFID circuitry to provide a desired message indicative of an event associated with the electronic device. For example, if the electronic device experienced some type of system failure, the device may instruct the RFID circuitry to provide a message indicative of that failure. The inventors are Tyler Mincey and Andrew Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "RFID circuitry is used in a variety of different applications. For example, RFID circuitry can...

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Sep 14
Greg's Bite: Windows 8 new blue screen of death

By Greg Mills

Wow, Microsoft has certainly improved Windows 8. Now, when the obligatory hourly reboot comes up -- oh my gosh, did you save your work? -- a remodeled "blue screen of death" pops up complete with an artistic flare. The standard blue screen now has some text advising the ever compliant PC user that the time has come again to reboot. (See http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/42056/blue-screen-of-death-windows8 .)

I propose an alternative PC blue screen where a giant message reads "Get a Mac! You wouldn't have had to reboot." That is, in effect, exactly what a lot of people are doing these days -- refreshing their computers with a mobile computer or Mac. I am doing some Faux wall art right now for a lady that is really ticked off that her brand new printer takes the day off a lot and won't...

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Sep 14
Could widespread adoption of HTML5 hurt Apple?

The widespread adoption of HTML5 for Web apps could cut Apple’s operation profit growth by 30%, with Microsoft, Google and carriers benefiting, Bernstein Research (https://www.bernsteinresearch.com) predicted -- as noted by "Macworld" (http://macte.ch/6CLU8). Which, if true, would be pretty ironic since Apple has touted HTML5 over Flash.

When the iPad was introduced in early 2009, Steve Jobs famously rejected Adobe Flash in favor of HTML 5 for providing media c

The financial researchers at Bernstein Research envision widespread adoption of HTML5 will affect iPhones and iPads, reducing margins for the former and lowering market share for the latter, the article adds.

"Rough scenario analyses says that even a modest impact in each of these areas could cut our estimated Op. profit growth forecast for Apple...

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Sep 13
Apple patent involves encoding video data

An Apple patent (number 8018994) for selecting encoding types and predictive mode for encoding types and predictive modes for encoding video data. It's directed towards selecting encoding types and predictive modes for encoding video data.

In some embodiments, a method of determining encoding type and predictive mode(s) selections for a macroblock of a video frame is provided. In some embodiments, a general method 1) selects the encoding type (16.times.16 or 4.times.4) that is initially considered for a macroblock using an encoding type selection algorithm (based on an attribute of the macroblock that is easy to compute), 2) if the 16.times.16 encoding type is selected in step 1, consider the four 16.times.16 prediction modes that may be used on the macroblock using conventional methods or an improved 16.times.16 predictive mode search algorithm based on distortion thresholds, and 3) if the 4.times.4 encoding type is selected in step 1, select the 4.times.4 prediction mode...

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Sep 13
Apple eyeing ways to improve iPhone antennas

Apple is eyeing ways to beef up the antennas on its iPhones as well as perhaps other iOS devices, per a patent (number 8018389) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is entitled "methods and apparatus for improving the performance of an electronic device having one or more antennas." It involves an electronic device comprising a first conductive unit and a second conductive unit disposed such that a gap exists between the first component and the second component. The electronic device further includes one or more components disposed along the gap and configured to counteract one or more capacitance effects in the gap, wherein at least one of the first conductive unit and the second conductive unit represents a part of an antenna. By counteracting the capacitance effects in the gap, certain radiation attributes of the antenna, such as radiation efficiency, can be improved.

The one or more components are also employed to counteract one or more...

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Sep 13
Greg's Bite: HTC, drug testing app needed

By Greg Mills

The US president of HTC has been widely quoted in the press proclaiming his research indicates that iPhone is no longer cool with young people. Is there an Android app for finding out just what hard drug or alcoholic mind bender the guy is on?

Apparently, you hear what you want to hear and ignore the rest of what is said. It seems Martin Fichter, the regional manager for HTC asked some students, in a not-too-scientific survey, if they thought iPhone was still "cool." Some unnamed student thought since her dad had a iPhone, the cool factor had worn off for her. Poor baby. Get that girl a Zune and Kin phone right away. The Android is so Apple looking, I am sure she wouldn't want one of those. (See http://www.geekwire.com/2011/htc-boss-windows-phone-7-...

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Sep 13
Let's see third party support for iMovie

Overall, I like the latest version of iMovie ('11), finding it an improvement over iMovie '09, which was a big improvement over iMovie '08, which was a major downgrade from iMovie HD. However, the latest version still lacks one of the features I liked most about iMovie HD: third party support.

I wish Apple would allow third parties to release themes, special effects and transitions for the video editing app. Years ago that was possible. Companies such as GeeThree made some great extras for iMovie, and they're sorely missed.

Apple allows third party add-ons for iDVD and iWeb, as well as Pages and Keynote in the iWork suite. Why not iMovie?

At one point, Apple obviously wanted folks who wished to do anything beyond iMovie's rudimentary capabilities to move up to Final Cut Express. However, FC Express is gone, and we're left with iMovie and Final Cut Pro X (or iMovie Pro, as its called by those who hate the totally revamped software).

Most of us aren't...

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Sep 12
Greg's Bite: Windows on a Tablet?

By Greg Millls

Microsoft, stung by critics and stockholders alike, for missing the mobile revolution, is still playing catch-up on smart phones and now tablet computers. Apple is merging the iOS with OS X in many respects and Microsoft has taken a cue from Apple to do something similar with it's flagship PC operating system and at least the look and feel of the new Windows Mobile OS, according to reports.

What really caught Microsoft off guard when Apple blind sided them with the mobile reveloution called iPad was a sense of history. They had tried to port Windows XP to a tablet device and the entire project was scrapped since the "tablets" of the day were more like slabs, half the size of a door and WIndows for the PC really didn't scale worth a hoot. Bill Gates wisely decided to pull the plug on the entire concept.

That was then, this is now. Capacitive touch screens are so much better, smaller and cheaper than they were ten years ago;...

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Sep 12
More consumers spending on TV streaming, subscription...

Consumer attitudes toward video access are changing, moving away from ownership and rental models to streaming and subscription services, as connected CE and smart TVs Proliferate in the U.S. and Western Europe, according to Parks Associate (http://www.parkassociates.com).

The research group says that, in a six-month period, US online video subscribers spent about US$50 on average for video subscriptions while a la carte video typically garnered less than half that amount. From 2009 to 2010, the number of purchased movie and TV-show downloads dropped by 56% and movie-rental downloads fell by 70%.

The largest countries in Western Europe have penetration rates for connected CE in broadband households comparable to the U.S. Thirteen percent of broadband households in France, Italy, and Spain have an active smart TV, compared to 14% in the U.S. Germany has the lowest rates of device...

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Sep 09
Greg's Bite: WIndows 8 gets Fast Boot

Posted by Greg Mills

Always hopeful that they can do something right, Microsoft is launching Windows 8 within days. MSNBC, (the MS stands for Microsoft rather than the dreaded disease multiple scololsis), has recently posted a breathlessly hopeful story on the new PC OS. (Keep in mind, the author was told to write a story about a major product sold by the owner of his company.)

"One of the most obsessed over features of Windows is its boot time, according to Windows chief Stflagellatingeven Sinofsky. As such, he says in a blog post, Windows 8 will boot so fast it will make the relatively spry Windows 7 seem Vista sluggish". When I read the headline on that story I had a mental image that can be seen under my picture.... WIndows 8 being booted really fast. See:...

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Sep 09
Apple television sets, apps and retina displays

According to a new industry study, by 2015, 47% of flat panel TVs shipped will have Internet connected features, but the user will still need to connect them at home -- sometime that daunts many users. And this is where Apple will step in.

So far only 40% of connected TVs are connected, and these may well be the early adopters. There's a big opportunity here, and I believe that Apple will take advantage of it next year and unveil its own line of HDTVs. Yep, I've changed my opinion on this and now believe that Apple has the goal, and potential, of shaking up the television business.

"If retina display is ready for prime time (pardon the pun) on the iPad 3, the bigger breakthrough will be if they can deliver retina display to any screen size. If so, how difficult will it be for Apple to create a screen that looks (and acts) like a very, very large iPad?" says "The Sun." "Much of the initial dissent about the value of Apple's iPad when it first launched was that it was...

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Sep 08
Is Scott Forstall the 'next Steve Jobs'?

Neil Squillante, writing for "The TechnoLawyer" (http://macte.ch/1l48j) says the "next Steve Jobs" exists and is already working at Apple. Who is it? Tim Cook? Jonathan Ive? Nope. Squillante says it's Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Software. In fact, he thinks Forstall will follow Cook as CEO some five to 10 years down the road.

"With Apple's roadmap set for at least five years, the company doesn't need another Steve Jobs at the helm for a while," writes Squillante. "Instead, Apple needs a Steve Jobs waiting in the wings for its next pivot when it redefines computing … again."

Squillante doesn't knock Cook in his blog, but says Forstall is a "Steve Jobs creation" (having had Jobs as his mentor for years) and the likely long-term heir to the throne.

"He's also young [he's 42]. Shortly after graduating from Stanford in the early 1990s, he worked at NeXT, one of the two...

| Read more »
 
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