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Feb 10
What I'd like to see in an Apple television

Along with my "MacNews/MacTech" columnist/compadre, Greg Mills, I'm dubious (and have been, for a long time) that Apple will start making its own television sets, though Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is sure the company will enter this market (though no earlier than 2012). Let's assume he's right. What do I want in an Apple television?

The number one thing that would make me buy one right off the bat: a box with the "innards" and technology to allow Apple to really take on the cable and satellite companies. I'd like an Apple HDTV with a built-in Internet connection and software especially designed to connect to iTV, an offshoot of iTunes.

iTV (long the rumored name of the Apple TV before it arrived) is my moniker for an imagined Apple service based on the ginormous data facility the company is building in North Carolina, that would offer a la carte pricing for subscriptions to TV shows. With cable and satellite packages, you have to pay for a bundle of programs...

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Feb 10
Greg's bite: slate city and no iPad killer yet

By Greg Mills

A lot of what Apple has done is incremental. They build upon one successful concept to support another. The iTunes method of selling digital material set the stage for the app store that creates the environment that is making iPhone and iPad so hard to beat. It takes more than a capable device to make a platform viable.

Dull continued their losing streak by pulling a high-end lapflop off the market. Intended to compete with hig- end (Apple) portable computers the market pumped another dose of reality into them. When you sell US$500 laptops there isn't enough profit left in them matter.  No one wants to pay for a top end laptop and walk away with just a Dell. They have created their own corporate image, and it isn't high end.  

HP yesterday launched two cell phone and announced a line of slate computers that appear to be reasonably viable but held back on announcing price points. At this stage of the game, they certainly know what...

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Feb 09
Greg's bite: Nokia's 'MeeGo' no-go

Well, more blood in the water as Nokia's last best chance to compete with Apple's iPhone gets the ax. Nokia, in an uncharacteristic public wringing of the hands, has admitted defeat in the smartphone market as Apple and Google have battered Nokia into a declining market position.

The CEO of Nokia likened their situation as being like a man on a burning oil platform: do you jump into the cold raging sea or wait to be burned to death? Presumably, the dramatic image is likened to the choices of going forward with the troubled proprietary OS dubbed MeeGo, based upon a variation of Linux and being burned to a crisp by Apple's iOS or Google's Android or jumping into the sea by dropping development of their own smartphone OS and going Android or even, ouch ... Windows Mobile 7?!

Long the industry leader, Nokia was caught flatfooted as Apple taught the world what a modern touch screen smartphone had to be. Nokia, RIM and others haven't had a chance to catch their breath as...

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Feb 09
Greg's bite: Tim Cook, Apple under the hood

By Greg Mills

As the tech world waits with baited breath for information on the iPad 2, the iPhone 5 and new MacBooks, much attention has been focused on Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook recently. Mr. Cook is famously filling in for Apple CEO Steve Jobs who is out of the office for health reasons. We wish good health and long life to Mr. Jobs. 

All eyes are on the Apple products that wow us with cool features and the sparkle of innovation.  If one looks closely at Apple's manufacturing operations as the engine of what will soon become the most valuable company in the world, the face of Tim Cook stares back at you.  

Mr. Cook has been the supply chain guy at divisions of IBM and Compaq before coming to Apple in 1998. Before Tim Cook, there was a lot of waste at Apple due to a sloppy supply chain where excess parts were wasted and late product releases hampered maximum growth of the company.

When you consider that the parts for an...

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Feb 09
So when will we see Sandy Bridge Macs?

I was expecting to see Macs packing Sandy Bridge processors pretty soon, but that timetable is almost certainly pushed back slightly due to Intel's problems with the Sandy Bridge chip.

To be more specific, I was expecting a Sandy Bridge refresh of the MacBook Pro line in late February/early March and an update of the iMac line in late March/early April. Now it seems those launches will be delayed at least a couple of weeks. Assuming of course, I'm right in guessing Apple's timetable.

Of course, Apple hasn't announced any Sandy Bridge-based systems, but they're certainly coming. The MacBook lineup consists of aging (by computer standards) Core 2 Duo processors (MacBook, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro) and previous-generation Core i5 and i7 processors (15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros). The iMac uses last-generation Core i3 and Core i5 chips.

According to "CNET" (http://macte.ch/ZAzAY), Intel...

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Feb 08
Greg's bite: Zoom, PlayBook killer features

By Greg Mills

According to several articles I have read, the Zoom slate computer Motorola is launching has yet another serious problem I missed for yesterday's article. For what ever reason, Motorola didn't make a Wi-Fi only version of Zoom.  

What makes the situation even more of a problem for them is that you have to pay for 3G to get the WiFi to work. I thought someone had some wires crossed, but this appears to be true. Sell Motorola stock, as it is going to take a beating.

Motorola thinks it can sell a less capable device for more than Apple? Get real. Apple products are the gold standard that consumers compare "Johnny come lately" products to. Even worse for Motorola and RIM, the iPad 2 is just around the corner and suddenly Zoom will disappear from the press as iPad stories dominate.

Not to be left out, RIM also built in a killer feature. I don't mean a killer sales feature, I mean a product killer...

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Feb 08
Apple wins patents for Ping, more

Apple has been granted patents for its "Ping" service and more by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 7886072 involves network-assisted remote media listening. In other words, Ping. Introduced with iTunes 10, Ping is a music-oriented social network for following your favorite artists and friends to discover what music they’re talking about, listening to and downloading.

iTunes Ping lets you post your thoughts and opinions, your favorite albums and songs, the music you’ve downloaded from iTunes, plus view concert listings and tell your friends which concerts you plan to attend. Per the patent, improved approaches for media listening amongst different users are disclosed.

For example, methods, systems or computer program code can enable users to have a remote listening experience in real time. Advantageously, a remote user at a remote client device can in effect listen to a particular digital media asset that is being played at a local client device...

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Feb 08
Is there a need for a 7-inch iOS device?

In the past I've expressed doubts that there's a need for a 7-inch iPad -- and Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said as much (though the rumors still abound). However, my buddy and idea guy, J. Scott Anderson, thinks there's room for a 7-inch iPod touch.

Scott says the main reason isn't for consumers -- though there are possibilities there. And perhaps seven inches isn't the right size, but a device situated between the iPad and the iPhone is needed, he says. Perhaps this is something that is sold as a VAR [value added reseller] device or even directly to manufacturers.

Here's Scott's reasoning: "Think about the millions of autos that are sold. The 10-inch iPad is too big for the dash and for the headrests. The iPhone size is too small. What about floor sales staff? The iPad certainly works as does the iPhone; however, I keep seeing a device between the two as a better item to carry around for taking orders. There are a lot of other possibilities, but let's focus on autos....

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Feb 08
Greg's bite: Verizon dual band iPhone 4.5

By Greg Mills

While everyone knew the Verizon iPhone was going to have a different radio chip than the AT&T iPhone, the new dual band chip set they used wasn't expected until the iPhone 5 by most observers.  

The Qualcomm MD6600dual band chips were available and apparently Apple got a good enough deal on them to use in the new Verizon iPhone. That chip has GPS built in, which reduces the cost and complications for including location services.

It appears likely to me that the new iPhone 4.5 will also run on the AT&T network, but not the other way around. The SIM card in the dual band phone is done away with and must be held in ROM or some other method of electronic serial number identification baked in silicon. It will be interesting to see what all this means from a marketing standpoint.

SInce Apple has gone to the new chip that explains what the game plan is. Universal radio chips mean universal iPhones and Universal iPad 2. ...

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Feb 07
Greg's bite: The Doom of Zoom

By Greg Mills

With a virtual monopoly on slate computers running a modern touch screen operating system, Apple has lapped the competition; with the release of the iPad 2, Apple will likely hold that commanding market share for some time to come. A one-year lead in high tech is unprecedented for a killer electronic product category.

The problem competing slate computers have is that Apple has more or less bought up the world supply of touch screens in the resolutions and sizes they want. Then, until recently, Apple's in-house A4 chip set was hard to match. Intel, a year later, has finally come up with silicon to do the trick. Since Microsoft completely dropped the ball on continuing the Windows/Intel business model for the slate computer and mobile markets that made the PC market work all these years, Google has revamped their Android OS for smart phones to accommodate modern slate computers.

Motorola, wanting to stem the flow of red ink in...

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Feb 07
Greg's bite: AT&T's dumb customer...

By Greg Mills

At a time when AT&T appears to be working overtime to batten down the hatches due to the launch of iPhone on the Verizon network, one would think they would be very nice to loyal existing post pay iPhone customers. That would be thinking wrong. 

I have currently have two AT&T accounts, one each for my iPhone 3Gs and iPad, my wife has an AT&T dumb phone account and we have her younger sister on a fourth AT&T account to support her iPhone. That amount to a total of four active AT&T accounts that have never been late in four years. How grateful is AT&T? Not very appreciative it seems. Today AT&T has royally ticked me off.  I have spent half an hour on their web site and two hours on the phone with nothing changed but my blood pressure.

My sister-in-law traded in her old iPhone 1 that I gave her a couple of years ago for a new iPhone 4 at her local AT&T store. She paid the $18 to activate her new phone...

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Feb 07
Shock! iPad early adopters prefer free content

The iPad is still a ways off from becoming a “fourth screen” and creating new revenue streams for content providers, according to Knowledge Networks’ (http://www.knowledgenetworks.com). Why? Not surprisingly because people prefer free content!

The "How People Use Media: iPads -- A First Look" report from Knowledge Networks' surveyed 205 iPad owners and users, and found early adopters are not demonstrating unique behaviors: six of the seven top reported activities are familiar ones, like web surfing and email. According to the study, 76% of owners use the iPad at least five days a week, while 55% of owners use the device every day.

But these users are bringing the free Internet mindset to the iPad, and only a small portion of users is willing to pay for content. This is a trend worth watching, as the iPad’s advertising-supported media model is different from that of any other...

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Feb 04
Greg's bite: why no Apple television sets

By Greg Mills

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster continues to insist Apple is going to go whole hog into producing TV sets. I think that is extremely unlikely for common sense reasons that are hard to rebut. The biggest reason is that LCD, LED, 3D or whatever display format you might mention is already being sold so cheaply there isn't enough money in it for Apple to be interested.

I recently bought a Visio 55-inch LCD set at Sam's for US$898 on Black Friday. And I invested $120 more for a BlueRay player with Visio Internet Applications.  Apple is used to margins that would curl the hair of most electronics companies. Even at a discounter like Sam's, you know there has to be some margin for Sam's to pay the folks that work there and keep the lights on.  There simply isn't enough money left in the TV industry for Apple to be diverted into selling a commodity item. Short of buying Visio or Sony, there are differences in the markets that would divert...

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Feb 04
Greg's bite: Nokia opens up to Windows, Android?

By Greg Mills

Formerly the undisputed world leader in cell phones, Nokia is falling on hard times and has seen its market share and stock crash as Apple and Google have surged. Nokia has reportedly spent US$1.5 billion on its proprietary Symbian OS only to see it spurned, even in Europe, Nokia's home ground.  

Nokia has been working on a more advanced smart phone OS called MeeGo (something must be lost in the translation) but is hedging its bet looking to sell handsets that run Windows 7 and even Android. Nokia hired a former Microsoft executive, Stephen Elop who has overseen the decline.  Talk about injecting the wrong DNA.

The distinction here is that dumb phones are slowly losing ground as smartphones become cheaper. The price spread on dumb phones and smartphones has recently almost been erased  as the competition in the smartphone market has washed out the less desirable phones.

Android and Windows 7 phones are now around $100 with...

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Feb 04
Is the iPad the end of the laptop?

In an interview with "PaidContent" (http://macte.ch/UnxE7), Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp. says the iPad is end of the laptop. But, wait, I thought the laptop was supposed to be the end of the desktop.

Talking about Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Murdoch said, "Here we have the man who invented the personal computer, then the laptop. He’s now destroying them. That is an amazing life."

The Sellers Research Group (that's me) doesn't think the iPad will kill the laptop nor will the laptop kill the desktop. Here's my predictions:

° The iPad will cannibalize some laptop sales. For those who want to mostly consume content (surf the web, check their email, log onto Facebook, watch videos, listen to their tunes, etc.), the iPad works just fine. It's also okay for a limited amount of typing, especially if you add an external keyboard. However, the iPad is still a device better suited to content...

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Feb 03
Apple planning its own iPad stand/case?


Think there aren't enough iPad stands and cases on the market? Well, Apple may be planning its own as a new patent (number 20110025176) for a multiple position stand has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A support mechanism for supporting an object on a surface is disclosed. The support mechanism includes a joint connected to the object; and a stand connected to the joint. The joint may selectively rotate to allow the stand to support the object on the surface in: a first position comprising a landscape orientation at a first angle between the object and the surface, a second position comprising a landscape orientation at a second angle between the object and the surface, a third position comprising a portrait orientation at a third angle between the object and the surface, and a fourth position comprising a portrait orientation at a fourth angle between the object and the surface. The inventors are Stephen McClure and Joshua Banko.

Here's Apple's...

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Feb 03
Greg's bite: iPad 2 sighted?; electronic...

By Greg Mills

It is thought an iPad 2 was sighted at the launch of The Daily. That iPad sported a front facing camera, which made it at least a prototype of what is to come. Eddy Cue from Apple, Rupert Murdoch and other publishing execs were there to launch the first salvo in the battle of the digital divide that will make or break the publishing industry as we know it.

My editor and I both loaded the Daily app and checked out the content. While Dennis noticed a number of features I didn't investigate, I noticed that the new electronic newspaper is very thin so far on tech stories. There was one page with short paragraphs about tech issues of the day and none of them led to any further content.

If you have an iPad, The Daily is free for two weeks, so you have nothing to lose to try it out.  Go to the Apple App Store and touch the Top Charts Star shaped button at the bottom of the screen and the #1 Free app is...

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Feb 03
First impressions of The Daily

I downloaded the first edition of The Daily, the first magazine/newspaper developed for specifically for the iPad (though it will come to other tablets eventually) yesterday. I'm impressed and will be a subscriber. Also, I'll watch the success -- or lack of it-- of The Daily carefully, as I think this could be the publication that truly launches the digital magazine age.

The Daily scores high marks for its features and pricing. The newspaper features traditional text-based stories, video and interactive content. One of its coolest features is 360-degree photos, which span around in an arc. Articles can be shared on services like Facebook or Twitter, or sent via e-mail. You can also record text or audio comments for a story.

There are other interactive elements. In a review of the Oregon Trail game in the Arts & Life section, you can click on an icon that offers tips for winning at the game. Even some of the ads are interactive. The LandRover ad has an embedded...

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Feb 02
The future of publishing is digital if ...

I'm one of those folks who believe that the future of magazines and newspapers will, at least to a significant extent, be determined by how publications adapt to devices such as the iPad. There will always be room for print magazines and newspapers (at least some) -- as there will always be printed books -- but most publications are going to have to have a digital option to thrive, if not survie.

The main attraction -- for me, anyway -- is that I can carry dozens of newspapers and magazines around with me on one, small device (my iPad). On my recent jaunt to San Francisco for the Macworld Expo, I had over a dozen ebooks, as well as videos and albums, available for two days' worth of travel. Talk about lightening your load.

Also, digital publications offer a "green" solution that can cut back on paper usage.

A lot of the success of electronic newspapers and magazines depends on price. A digital publication should cost half as much as the print version, as there...

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Feb 02
Greg's bite: what happens if the Internet is...

By Greg Mills

The Internet has become so intwined into the infrastructure of our lives and business that the thought of it going down is hard to imagine. When the electricity goes off during a storm, there is a sudden realization that many of the things we take for granted don't work without power.  

An interruption in power for even a few hours is hard, but power off for a few days or weeks is intolerable. Food goes bad, houses freeze or get so hot they are intolerable, and other unforeseen issues pop up. Gas pumps need power to even fill up a car. 

The Internet going down won't be so immediately disruptive for home users as a power loss, but commerce and industry will be hard hit in ways we can't fully anticipate. So much of the world of electronics is hooked up by way of the Internet we can't imagine the havoc that may occur.  Power switching system, rail controls, military command and control systems, industrial systems and obscure...

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Feb 02
Greg's bite: smartphone humor

By Greg Mills

I spend several hours a day surfing the Internet, for all sorts of reasons. News, tech information and Apple news tend to be my focus. Sometimes I run across tech stories that are so humorous I can't imagine anyone taking them at face value.

Windows 7 iSkin? Yesterday, a story showed up in the press regarding a skin that converts the look and feel of an Apple iPhone into a Microsoft Windows 7 phone? This can only be done on a jailbroken iPhone. People who think themselves smarter than the folks at Apple who designed the most desirable smartphone on the planet are the only ones who might consider jailbreaking in the first place. But how many of them are so anal they prefer a WIndows 7 look and feel?

To me, especially now that the AT&T exclusive marketing program is over, any reasonable motivation for jailbreaking is irrational. To make a BMW look like a Bulgarian Yugo sub-compact, featureless car is beyond my...

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Feb 01
Apple patents range from doc summarization to...

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

Patent 7882450 is for interactive document summarization that allows the user to continuously control the amount of detail to be included in a document summary. The invention relates to the field of document summarization which is otherwise known as automatic abstracting wherein an extract of a document (i.e., a selection of sentences from the document) can serve as an abstract. The inventors are Jeremy J. Bornstein, Douglass R. Cutting, John D. Hatton and Daniel E. Rose.

Patent 7880729 is for a center button isolation ring. Selection button isolation arrangements for use with electronic devices are presented including: a selection pad forming a substantially planar surface disposed about a first axis, the selection pad having a pad top surface, the pad top surface configured to receive a user input, the selection pad...

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Feb 01
Greg's bite: tech buffoon roundup

By Greg Mills

Yesterday I expounded upon the rant of the CEO of netgear, Patrick Lo. The second string hardware manufacturing company's chief executive should be careful what he says around reporters. After the press widely quoted him seemingly gloating over Steve Jobs illness, he has spent the last 24 hours desperately back peddling and trying to take back his hurtful words.  

Classic foot in mouth syndrome. I know, because I do that myself, on occasion. What you read in this space is filtered by my editor, since my vocabulary and sarcasm sometimes exceed my tact.

The prospect of Apple "opening up" as Lo demanded is a remote possibility. Apple becoming just another Netgear sort of company, and Mr. Lo riding Apple's product line to greater profits is even more remote. He actually did state that some recent Netgear sales were related to people with iPads using them in the bathroom and needing another router to reach there.  Gee...

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Feb 01
Apple needs to beef up iBookstore as ereading...

Apple's iBookstore seems to be off to a good start. But as ereading grows in popularity, Apple needs to expand its offerings.

At launch, the iBookstore had 60,000 titles (I'm not sure how many it currently has). Amazon says it has 450,000 titles. Apple has a lot of catching up to do.

In a recent study to understand how portable, multi-function devices or MFDs (e.g., iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android devices, etc) are changing consumer book reading habits, consumers who utilized these devices expressed a tremendous affinity for them, struggling to come up with any significant shortcomings to reading ebooks on them. These consumers also revealed their specific preference for MFDs, usage occasions and their ebook purchasing habits.

The two-part study with over 300 MFD owners who have read an ebook in the past six months, was conducted by online qualitative research firm iModerate Research Technologies and research and publishing consultancy, Brock Associates. A...

| Read more »
Feb 01
Greg's bite: why Android has peaked

By Greg Mills

When the Motorola/Apple cell phone came out in the summer of 2005, it was a great disappointment to both Apple and Apple fans. You might as well have taped an iPod to a standard cell phone. It sucked. Apple, by that point in time, already knew to do a cell phone right; they would have to start from scratch. The first thing they did was junk their cell phone engineering relationship with Motorola and scrap conventional notions of what a cell phone was.  

Then, the engineers and designers at Apple began to put the combination of novel software and touch screen hardware together that became the first iPhone. Since that time, Apple has taught Motorola a thing or two about smart cell phones. For that matter, every manufacturer of cell phones has been taken to the wood shed by Apple for a sound beating.  

The punishment continues as everyone in the cell phone industry has been made virtual  roadkill by the great Mac truck with an Apple...

| Read more »
 
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