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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 »
Apr 18
New study shows why kids are fat -- and need '...

Examining a new study by Ipsos OTX (http://www.ipsos-na.com) -- which looks at the media habits and technology usage of preschoolers and those in grades 6-12 -- makes it obvious why so many of the kids in the US are fat and in trouble.

Kids now spend 5.2 hours on average a day engaged with media. That compares to 4.8 hours two years ago. However, the growth isn't with computers, but with video games. Over five hours? That's way too much. Kids need to unplug and be outside playing and reading. I love my electronic gadgets, but there's more to life than my Mac and iPad ...

Speaking of which, currently, 10% of parents with kids 6-12 own an iPad, and 27% plan to buy one in the next year. Thirty-five percent expect to buy a tablet computer in the next year.

Ownership of connected/mobile and next-gen devices is up in households with kids (laptops, Blu-ray players, handheld gaming devices, gaming...

| Read more »
Apr 15
An Apple smart TV could arrive sooner rather than...

I've repeatedly said I don't think Apple will release an Apple-branded television. Several other pundits disagree. In fact, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White thinks we might even see the company launch a "smart TV" this year.

In a note to clients -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- he says Ticonderoga research "suggests this smart TV would go well beyond the miniature $99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers." He says the company appears to be "moving down this pace at a faster pace than the market expected."

"The combination of Apple's powerful ecosystem, industrial design savvy, powerful brand and ability to reinvent product categories could make Apple a powerful force in the TV world over the next few years," White writes.

Meanwhile, the Morgan Stanley research group...

| Read more »
Apr 14
Greg's bite: blame Apple's iPad, PC sales...

By Greg Mills

As I scan the news for interesting information, sometimes stories just jump out at me. I particularly notice when a well known figure is proven dead wrong.  Some time back, Steve Ballmer stated in an interview that tablet computers were just another PC, dismissing the impending threat to the Windows PC OS. monopoly.   

(June 3, 2010) "Nothing people are doing on a PC is going to get less relevant", declared Ballmer," though some things will move to alternative devices. But many people will prefer a general purpose device to a lot of individual devices."

He said, "People will continue to want general-purpose devices (such as PCs) as well as devices they can carry in their pockets. But devices like the new tablets really are personal computers, just in new form factors."

The dismissive attitude that; "tablets are just a PC" is the perceptional problem Microsoft has had in not supplying the PC industry with a...

| Read more »
Apr 14
You gotta love Comcast (not)

Sometimes dealing with Comcast makes me want to pull my hair out. Unfortunately, it's the only game in town -- or at least my neck of the woods -- for high-speed Internet connectivity.

I've already ditched Comcast's cable TV service and went with Dish Network as the Big C kept jacking the television portion of my bill up month after month. But I still have Internet and phone service through Comcast.

Recently, the company contacted me, telling me that my current modem/router wasn't allowing me to access my Internet connection at its fastest speed. "Would I like to receive a self-installable, new high speed modem and new router?" they asked.

Naturally, I said yes. The hardware arrived, I connected everything and activated the new set-up. Or tried to activate it. Comcast's online set-up never "took" despite my repeated attempts to make it work. It would accept my account info, then simply stall out when the activation process started. I was offered the opportunity to...

| Read more »
Apr 14
Apple patents involves backup/restore, radio...

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

Patent number 20110087976 is for application-based backup/restore of electronic information. One method includes receiving, while a current view of an application is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting a history view associated with the current view of the application. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view of the application, the earlier version including a first element.

A second user input is received while the history view is displayed. The second user input requesting that the current view of the application be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element. The current view of the application is modified in response to the second user input...

| Read more »
Apr 13
Is Apple planning to reinvent TV?

Apple may be planning to reinvent TV if a new report (http://macte.ch/RwOTV) by research firm Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek is on target. Reinventing TV would be a MAJOR undertaking, but if any company could, it would be Apple, which turned the music world upside down.

Misek predicts that Apple is preparing a cloud-based video service that could go well beyond what the current Apple TV already offers. And, in fact, would challenge services such as Netflix and even the cable/satellite TV companies.

I've said before that I'd love to have an a la carte service in which I could pay for the TV programs and/or channels I want to watch rather than be forced to sign up for "bundles" of stations. Could Apple finally make it happen?

The "GigaOm" (http://macte.ch/EpmBJ) site says that all Apple has to do to make a service...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Apple working on making user accounts portable

Apple is working on ways to make your user account truly portable, per a patent (number 7925712) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to multi-user computer systems and, more particularly, user account management for multi-user computer systems.

Improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems are disclosed in the patent. A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, thereby rendering the user account portable. The multi-user computer system, e.g., through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user...

| Read more »
 
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