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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...

| Read more »
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 "...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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-...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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;...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

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Sep 08
Apple eyeing improved method for storing state...

An Apple patent (number 20110219024) for a persistent state database for operating system services has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a database is used to store user interface state information. The database is accessed by a key having a service ID field, a caller ID field, and a caller context ID field. The caller context ID is used to identify the context in the application program from which the user interface is called. In this manner, the system can differentiate between calls from different portions of the application program which can have different user expectations of the desirable user interface state. The inventors are Yan Arrouye, Sean J. Findley and Keith L. Mortensen.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A computer's operating system typically provides a variety of different services that are called upon by clients, e.g. application programs and other processes, to perform functions that may relate...

| Read more »
Sep 08
Apple eyeing roaming point-of-sale system

An Apple patent (number 20110218870) for a communication method for a roaming point-of-sale system has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

It would include methods of communicating between the system components. A handheld computing device sends messages to a scanning device, which messages cause the scanning device to scan and return barcode data from a barcode scanner and payment card information from a magnetic strip reader. The messages include a header and a message, and the header designates the command given and the size of the message, among other useful information. The inventors are Khawaja Shams and Michael Maysmith.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In a store, there are often many sales associates out 'on the floor' meeting with customers, answering questions, etc. Eventually, though, when a customer decides to make a purchase the customer takes the item to a central point-of-sale location, where there is a cash...

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Sep 08
Apple patent involves programmable GPU

An Apple patent (number 20110216079) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and involves partial display updates in a windowing system using a programmable graphics processing unit. Techniques to generate partial display updates in a buffered window system in which arbitrary visual effects are permitted to any one or more windows (e.g., application-specific window buffers) are described.

Once a display output region is identified for updating, the buffered window system is interrogated to determine which regions within each window, if any, may effect the identified output region. Such determination considers the consequences any filters associated with a window impose on the region needed to make the output update. The inventors are Ralph Brunner and John Harper.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Methods, devices and systems in accordance with the invention provide a means for performing partial display updates in a windowing system that permits...

| Read more »
Sep 07
Greg's Bite: Powerful iOS 5 Speech to Text

By Greg Mills

Apple's tendency to hold cards close to the vest is tempered only by the real world testing required to make sure everything just works. That is the case with iOS 5, due to be launched soon. The cellular giants like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile get the latest versions of iPhone software and hardware to do the "can you hear me now?" sort of thing around their networks. Rumors are that Sprint will also get the iPhone this time.

High tech product launches are commonly marred by glitches due to a lack of real world testing. Apple is far too wise to not get it right, most of the time.

Apple goes to extraordinary lengths to keep things under wraps until the official release. One of Steve Jobs' rage makers is leaks by suppliers and sales affiliates. As Apple knows all too well, some people just can't keep a secret. The latest iOS 5 release has finally included an element alluded to in previous versions: a magical feature called "...

| Read more »
Sep 07
US consumer electronics outlook bodes well for Apple

Expect Apple's fortunes to keep growing as things as the tea leaves portend a good future for our favorite tech company.

The US consumer electronics devices market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$239.4 billion in 2011, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). This is expected to increase to US$276.6 billion by 2015 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.0%, driven by premium TV sets (perhaps an Apple HDTV), smartphones (such as the iPhone) and notebooks (such as the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro).

In 2010, sales of consumer electronics products such as smartphones and LED-backlit TV sets grew strongly as the recovery gathered traction. However, falling average prices in many product categories placed revenues and margins under pressure, with the average...

| Read more »
Sep 06
Apple patents involve cursor position, digital albums...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent 8013839 involves methods for determining a cursor position from a finger contact with a touch screen display. Per the patent, aportable device with a touch screen display detects a contact area of a finger with the touch screen display and then determines a first position associated with the contact area. The cursor position of the finger contact is determined, at least in part, based on: the first position, one or more distances between the first position and one or more of the user interface objects; and one or more activation susceptibility numbers, each associated with a respective user interface object in the plurality of user interface objects. If the cursor position falls into the hidden hit region of a virtual push button on the touch screen display, the portable device is activated to perform operations associated with the virtual...

| Read more »
Sep 06
Apple ought to check out the M-Disc

Apple seems determined to phase out built-in optical drives on Macs. However, if it reconsiders -- and I think it should as I'm convinced that the future of storage isn't all in the iCloud -- they might work with a fairly young company named "Millenniata" (http://millenniata.com/).

Millenniata makes the M-Disc, which the company says is designed to last for 1,00 years or more. Increasingly, data is stored on computer media such as hard disks, CDs and DVDs. Most of those won't last beyond 10 years, according to some studies.

Unlike computer hard-drives and optical discs (CD and DVD) that suffer from decay, destroying the files you were trying to preserve and protect, the M-Disc can't be overwritten, erased, or corrupted by natural processes, according to the folks at Millenniata. The M-Ready drive engraves your files onto the M-Disc.

Here's how Millenniata describes the technology: "These new...

| Read more »
Sep 02
Consumer NAS market has low penetration, high growth

The Consumer Network-Attached Storage market has low household penetration across the globe but is growing in excess of 30% annually, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). I’ve long hoped for an Apple home server product. Now may be the perfect time for one.

The number of portable consumer electronics (CE) and computing devices in the home has grown over the last couple of years, and it will literally explode over the next few, notes Research and Markets. The need and use for NAS centralized storage will become more practical for one reason: accessing content.

In a network with multiple computing devices, sharing common storage, content access and media sharing becomes a key component of driving consumer value. Research and Markets believes that this will push worldwide consumer NAS unit shipments past 11 million in 2015. The research group...

| Read more »
 
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