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Oct 22
Greg's bite: where Apple leads, PCs follow

By Greg Mills

When Apple obsoletes technology a groan generally goes up from both people used to the status quo and hardware companies that are directly affected. Remember the demise of floppy drives and the near death of FireWire? Such a groan went up when Apple recently launched the new MacBook Air laptops that, like iPad, iPods and the Apple TV uses flash memory instead of a hard drive.  

While the cost for storage using flash memory is higher per gig of memory, there are distinct advantages to going with solid state memory instead of a mechanical rotating disk that is prone to crash. In time, all hard drives will fail. A hard bump at just the wrong time can sometimes destroy a hard drive and leave the user with a sudden data loss. Sometimes a strange noise will give a warning, but the sudden hard drive crash without a warning is common.

I am lucky, so far, and have never had a hard drive go bad, but there are a lot of folks that have had a...

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Oct 22
Why no backlit keyboard on the new MacBook Airs?

Maybe it was to preserve battery life, but there's no backlit keyboard on the new MacBook Airs. I think that's a mistake on Apple's part.

I've always found the backlit keyboard one of the most useful feature on the Apple laptops I've purchased. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. You can check out a thread on the Apple Forums about the lack of a backlit keyboard: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2620491&tstart=0 .

If you want to let Apple know that the new MacBook Air needs a backlit keyboard, you can fill out a form at http://www.apple.com/feedback/macbookair.html on this and other comments on the MacBook Air.

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Oct 21
Is Apple getting into the cloud-based radio business?

Could cloud-based radio be part of iTunes' future? Three patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicate that Apple has at least considered it. Or at least you can expect radio implemented in more versions of the iPod than the nano.

Patent number 20100269145 involves accessing radio content from a non-radio source. Systems and methods are provided for accessing broadcast media items and segments from non-broadcast sources. In response to detecting that a user has not finished listening to a broadcast segment (e.g., a radio segment), an electronic device can automatically identify and access an alternate, non-broadcast source for the same broadcast segment (e.g., a corresponding podcast episode).

Using the electronic device, a user can play back the segment from the non-broadcast source, starting playback at the last position of the broadcast segment when the user stopped listening to the broadcast. In some embodiments, the electronic device...

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Oct 21
Apple patent emphasis is on solid-state memory

Could future Apple TVs have DVD functions? A new Apple patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints that this could be the case, noting that "this technology could be aimed at a digital video recorder." At the very least the patent shows that the long term future for all of Apple's devices involves solid-state memory.

Patent number 20100268866 is for systems and methods for operating a disk drive. System and methods for storing data to a storage device are provided. In embodiments, the storage device may include a disk drive with a solid-state memory for storing certain frequently updated information. In some embodiments, the solid-state memory may be used to store journaling information. The inventor is Thomas R. Colligan.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Hard disk drives continue to be one of the most widely used electronic storage mediums. Typically, a hard drive stores electronic data by storing a series of magnetic polarity...

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Oct 21
Apple patent is for improved tethering system

Apple apparently plans on improving tethering in upcoming iOS devices -- and perhaps Macs, based on a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Tethering is using a cell phone as a modem for your laptop or other device.

Creating a connection either with cables or wirelessly "tethers" your cell phone to your other mobile device. This can usually be done through Bluetooth wireless technology or cables (such as USB), allowing the device without built-in access to connect to the Internet, using the other device as a modem.

Patent number 20100267368 -- with Cahya Masputra as the inventor -- is for a handheld device capable or providing data tethering services while maintaining a suite of handheld service functions. An improved tethering system is described in which a handheld device can be used by a user to reach the same network that the handheld device also provides access to for a tethering machine.

Specifically, a handheld device provides a tethering...

| Read more »
Oct 21
Greg's bite: what wasn't announced yesterday...

By Greg Mills

The combination of the recent conference call regarding the financial quarter and the "Back to the Mac" event on Thursday leaves a number of unsettled issues. I still insist a Hobby App for iOS must be on the way, and I was disappointed iWeb 4 wasn't part of iLife.  

Notice the price dropped to US$49 for iLife due to the lack of an updated iDVD and updated iWeb. They included the old version of both programs on the iLife disk but you have to look deep in the information to find that information. While I use iPhoto, I will wait to buy iLife for a while. It is possible the Hobby App iOS creator program will come out with the next iWork release. I doubt the $49 price point will hold for full releases of future iWork and iLife.

The other thing on my mind is the giant bank balance at Apple. Over $50,000,000 in the bank is unusual even for the second biggest company in the world. CEO Steve Jobs mentioned they might be buying a strategic...

| Read more »
Oct 21
It's back to the Mac indeed ...

Mac users were surely comforted by yesterday's "Back to the Mac" event in which a new Mac OS X (Lion), a new iLife, a new MacBook Air and lots of professed love for our favorite computing platform was served up.

One of the most interesting factoids unveiled by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook was that the Mac segment of Apple were a standalone company -- which they said Apple had no intention of doing -- would be number 110 on the Fortune 500 list. And the Mac accounts for a third of Apple's revenue.

"The Mac is a $22 billion business for us and we continue to heavily invest in it," Cook said.

So for those who have said Apple's future was in iOS devices, think again. Some other interesting tidbits from yesterday's special event.

° Don't hold your breath for a touchscreen Mac. Apple will be bringing more touch gestures to its computer line, but they'll be implemented by the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad as touch commands on a...

| Read more »
Oct 20
So what will happen at today's 'Back to the...

Today Apple will host the much anticipated “Back to the Mac” media event, in which Jobs & Company will tell us what’s new for the Mac will preview the next version of Mac OS X. Let's look at the speculation and see what's likely.

We'll definitely get some info on the next version of Mac OS X and, based on the logo on the invitation to the event, it will be dubbed Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion"). Although some folks are skeptical, I think we'll see the beginning of a merge of Mac OS X and the iOS that will bring touch commands to future Macs.


Now I don't think Apple will make touch the main way for us to interact with Macs. But it will be an option along with keyboards, mice and trackpads. I also think Lion will sport an iOS emulator environment that lets Mac users run iOS apps. I also suspect we'll see AirPlay implementation and ways of integrating the Mac OS file system into mobile devices. But don't hold your breath; Lion isn't likely to prowl until summer or fall of...

| Read more »
Oct 19
Apple wins patents for MacBook Air, iChat, more

Apple has won two design patents (D625,716 and D625,717) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the MacBook Air. The inventors are Bartley Andre, Bartley Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer

Apple was also granted a patent design (number D625,733) for its iPhone compass icon, invented by Fredy Anzures. Other patents won by Apple are as follows.

Patent number 7,817,180 involves iChat as it involves video procesing in a multi-participant video conference. Some embodiments provide an architecture for establishing multi-participant video conferences. This architecture has a central distributor that receives video images from two or more participants. From the received images, the central distributor generates composite images that the central distributor transmits...

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Oct 19
My Apple financial predictions -- so how'd I do?

Apple announced its latest financial results today. The Sellers Research Firm (that's me) made its forecasts and didn't do too badly. Let's have a look.

I predicted sales of 4.02 million Macs. Apple sold 3.89 million (the most ever).

I forecast sales of 9.76 million iPods. Apple sold 9.05.

I predicted sales of 12.37 million iPhones. Apple sold 14.1 million (the most ever).

I forecast sales of 6.1 million iPads. Apple sold 4.19 million.


I forecast earnings per share of US$4.75. Apple posted $4.64 per diluted share.

Things to note about the financial announcements. Apple, as usual, trounced Wall Street’s forecasts for its fourth-fiscal quarter. The company also followed its typical approach of issuing a highly conservative forecast for the December quarter. Apple shares were halted for after-hours trades on Monday after closing up 1% at $318 in the regular session; that was a new high.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Oct 19
Greg's bite: what's new pussycat? Mac OS X...

By Greg Mills

Dollars to donuts, the name for Mac OS 10.7 will be Lion.  The invitation to the October Apple product announcement clearly shows a lion peeking out of the Apple logo.  This follows with the big cat name protocol we have seen in the past.

Mac OS X 10.0, released in March 2001, was Cheetah. Mac OS X 10.1, released in September 2001, was Puma. Mac OS X 10.2, released in August 2002, was Jaguar. Mac OS X 10.3, released in October 2003, was Panther. Mac OS X 10.4, released in April 2005, was Tiger. Mac OS X 10.5, released in October 2007, was Leopard. And Mac OS X 10.6, released in August 2009, was Snow Leopard.

When Apple launches things they generally are actual products that are "available today at the Apple Store" or by such and such a date right around the corner. Occasionally, for good reasons that are compelling, Apple CEO Steve Jobs letd us know what is coming a bit further head of time.

The well known secrecy at Apple...

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Oct 18
Greg's Bite: iPad eats into the PC market

By Greg Mills

The PC world has strangely stopped worrying -- at least publicly -- so much about the iPad and the tablet market in general. At least for now.  

Frankly, the underlying problem for PC tablets is that in addition to being caught completely flatfooted in the smart phone software market, Microsoft has also hopelessly bungled the tablet revolution as well. It appears Microsoft is doomed to ride the PC into the ground while the smartphone and tablet markets take over the consumer computer market.

While the numbers won't come out until next week on the first quarter of Apple iPad sales, the biggest PC microprocessor suppliers Intel and ADM have more or less put tablet support on the back burner. While a number of major players are hoping to get into the tablet market right away, the lack of a viable off the shelf software operating system from Microsoft has left a major hole in tablet development.  

The companies who plan to...

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Oct 18
My predictions for today's Apple financial...

Apple will announce its latest financial results today. Here's what the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is forecasting:

Sales of 4.02 million Macs.

Sales of 9.76 million iPods.

Sales of 12.37 million iPhones.

Sales of 6.1 million iPads.

Earnings per share of US$4.75.

We'll be covering the financial announcements. Join us to see how accurate I am.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Oct 15
I think the Verizon iPhone rumors are on target at...

The rumors are flying again that Verizon will start carrying the iPhone in 2011. My gut feeling tells me that those rumors are, at long last, right.

If this happens AT&T will lose its exclusive hold on the smartphone. Some industry researchers estimate that Verizon’s release of the iPhone would drive Apple’s U.S. sales higher by at least five million units in 2011.

The deal would also give Apple a stronger advantage in its battle with Research In Motion, whose BlackBerrys are currently promoted by Verzion Wireless. The availability of Apple’s iPhone through Verizon may drive down market share of Research In Motion, says Zachs Equity Research (http://at.zacks.com/?id=5514). The firm also thinks that the end of AT&T’s exclusive hold on the iPhone will provide Verizon a boost in its competition against other smartphones and drive Verizon's earnings in the near term.

-- Dennis...

| Read more »
Oct 14
Another reason not to overlook the Mac's...

Mac unit sales, which stalled in the second quarter as customers waited for the new MacBooks that arrived in April and May, took off in the third quarter, coming in just shy of 3.5 million, reports "Fortune." Or, according to some industry watchers, that figure might even top four million (I think it will).

So while Apple's big love seems to be bestowed upon its iOS devices, the Mac is one of the main contributors to the company's bottom line. It's time Apple lavished some promotional love, ad money and innovation to its computer line. And perhaps with the "Back to the Mac" media event slated for Oct. 20, that's exactly what will happen.

Ten years ago, Apple could barely move 300,000 Macs a quarter. Now it's moving 3.5 to four million per quarter without breaking a sweat. Hopefully, in 2011 we'll see Jobs & Company release Macs with innovative new features -- and spend some money telling the world about them.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Oct 13
Apple patent involves stopping 'inappropriate...

The US Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Apple a patent (number 7814163) first filed in 2008 that prevents users from sending or receiving “inappropriate” text messages. The patent is for "text-based communication control for a personal communications device."

According to Apple, systems, devices, and methods are provided for enabling a user to control the content of text-based messages sent to or received from an administered device. In some embodiments, a message will be blocked (incoming or outgoing) if the message includes forbidden content. In other embodiments, the objectionable content is removed from the message prior to transmission or as part of the receiving process. The content of such a message is controlled by filtering the message based on defined criteria. The criteria may be defined according to a parental control application. These techniques also may be used, in accordance with instructional embodiments, to require the administered devices to include...

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Oct 13
Greg's bite: It's an app world out there

By Greg Mills

My daughter loaded We Rule, the iOS game in which you manage a small kingdom including houses for the people, stores of all kinds, collect taxes, rents and grow crops to buy more infrastructure. The iPad was soon also loaded and I set up my own "kingdom" and have enjoyed planning my own community, as well.

The games are free but they try to sell you mojo to speed up the development and crops of your kingdom for those without patience. They sell mojo for real dollars on the iTune store. They also give you five mojo units if you download and open apps.

We Rule is cute and engaging, but little did I expect the NGMOCO company, that has my little kingdom on its servers, would be sold for US$400,000,000. Yep, I counted the zeros right twice. They sold out for $300 million cash boom and get another $100 million if the cash flow is according to expectations. Not bad for a company formed just a few years ago.

Apps are a growth...

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Oct 13
The next iLife app: FaceTime iChat?

The online scuttlebutt says iLife 2011 is coming very soon, dropping iDVD and adding a new app. I think that's about right, and I think that new app may be a hybrid of FaceTime and iChat. (FaceChat? iTime? Naw, Apple will probably just call it FaceTime.)

In case you're not familiar with it, FaceTime is video calling that uses Wi-Fi. Apple says that using FaceTime is as easy as making a regular voice call, with no set-up required. On the iPhone 4 and fourth gen iPod touch, you can instantly switch to the rear camera to show others what you are seeing with just a tap.

FaceTime works right out of the box. You don't have to up a special account or screen name.If you want to start a video call with your best friend, find her entry in your Contacts and tap the FaceTime button. Or maybe you’re already on a voice call with her and you want to switch to video. Just tap the FaceTime button on the Phone screen. Either way, an invitation pops up on her iPhone 4 screen asking if...

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Oct 12
Apple patents involve touch screens, iOS devices, more

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Four involve touch screens and iOS devices, while three others are design wins.

Patent number 7,812,826 is for a portable electronic device with multi-touch input. Per the patent a portable communication device with multi-touch input detects one or more multi-touch contacts and motions and performs one or more operations on an object based on the one or more multi-touch contacts and/or motions. The object has a resolution that is less than a pre-determined threshold when the operation is performed on the object, and the object has a resolution that is greater than the pre-determined threshold at other times. The inventors are Bas Ording, Scott Forstall, Greg Christie, Stephen O. Lemay and Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number 7,812,827 is for a simultaneous sensing arrangement. Multi-touch touch-sensing devices and methods are described. The touch sensing devices...

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Oct 12
Greg's Bite: Microsoft's greatest dud?

By Greg Mills

When one considers the potential for Microsoft to elbow their way into the smartphone market with their "late to the party" Mobile Vista 7, there are distinct categories of customers that have to buy it in significant numbers for the product to succeed. If we examine the smartphone market that exists today from the basis of a customer category analysis, the prospects are quite grim for Microsoft. Who is going to buy it?

While throwing half a billion dollars at advertising can sell Miss, Piggy as a ravishing beauty queen -- and that will work for a while -- but there is no amount of lipstick that can make her not a pig. She still stinks and oinks. and I think Mobile Vista 7 will oink like the Microsoft pig that it is. Developers and hardware companies alike might bank on the tons of short term money Microsoft is willing to risk to buy their way into the smartphone market they advocated to Apple and Google, but it might well be a major...

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Oct 12
Mobile malware exploits or Android/Symbian/Windows...

Two mobile security experts say that smartphone exploits are coming, as cybercriminals start to figure out how to make money by hacking mobile devices. But I think they're a bit off track.

Tim Armstrong, a malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based cyber security vendor, says security vendors have seen a huge increase in mobile attacks since late last year. Kaspersky Lab identified more than 1,550 mobile malware signatures in September, reports "InfoWorld" (http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/mobile-malware-exploits-the-way-expe...).

Right now, Nokia's Symbian operating system, popular outside the United States, is the major target for mobile exploits, but Apple's iPhone and Android phones are likely to be growing targets,...

| Read more »
Oct 11
Greg's bite: Vista Mobile 7, Microsoft dud

By Greg Mills

In the extremely high stakes competition in smart phone operating systems, Microsoft's new Mobile OS appears to be a stone loser. This is for a number of indisputable reasons.  

The expensive advertising program (rumored to be half a billion dollars) which will be launched soon, and the efforts of various hardware companies and cell phone carriers rallied to support Vista 7 are likely to be a doomed and completely wasted effort. This will certainly end Microsoft's presence in the mobile market, which includes both smart phones and slate computers.  

The future of computers is the smartphone and slate market, and everyone knows it. I think Microsoft is toast. Goldman Sachs already downgraded Microsoft stock to neutral, saying "the company needed to show some progress on mobile devices such as the smartphone and a device to compete with the iPad." Goldman analyst Sarah Friar wrote in her report, "The company needs an immediately...

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Oct 11
People unhappy with TV services; Apple, here's...

If Apple wants to pull out its big guns and make a serious move with the Apple TV for the living room, here's their chance. Residential television service customers are notably less satisfied with the cost of service, compared with 2009, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Residential Television Service Satisfaction Study (http://www.JDPower.com).

Customer satisfaction with the cost of television service averages 541 on a 1,000-point scale in 2010, down 14 points from 555 in 2009. Customers of traditional cable providers are particularly dissatisfied with their cost of service. Satisfaction with fairness of prices paid among cable customers is 22% lower than among customers of telephone company providers (such as AT&T and Verizon) and 18% lower than among customers of satellite providers (such as DIRECTV and DISH).

"Despite this decline in satisfaction with cost of service, DVR...

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Oct 08
Greg's bite: iPad sales soar

By Greg Mills

Apple's iPad has seen faster acceptance in the main stream of electronic devices than anything else so to date, including regular DVD players made by a lot of companies. So much for the predictions iPad wouldn't sell -- as made by other well known tech company CEOs.  

The problem for the competition is that as far advanced as the iPad is, we are half way through the development cycle for the next version. If the iPad takes the same virtual yearly model cycle we have seen with other major Apple products, sometime in the spring Apple will announce the next iPad with a lot of the features most in demand, such as cameras. FaceTime is likely to be a feature, as well as a mini USB port. The iPad has the potential to be a phone with the FaceTime feature using an earphone with mic arrangement.

I am of the opinion the Hobby App creator program is coming very soon from Apple. We know Google is in beta on an Android App Inventor program soon...

| Read more »
Oct 08
Might Intel develop a tool to let iOS run on Macs?

Intel is developing a tool that will make it easier for developers to port iPhone applications to Intel-based smartphones, tablets and other devices, a company executive said Tuesday, reports the IDG News Service (http://www.macworld.com/article/154632/2010/10/intel_mobile_apps.html). Which makes me wonder: if Intel is doing this, could it and Apple also team up to run the iOS apps on the Intel chips used in Macs?

Most smartphones and tablets today run on Arm-based processors. The new Intel tool will identify changes that need to be made in an iPhone application, making it easier to convert the application to run on Intel-based hardware, says Doug Fisher, vice president of Intel’s Software and Services group and general manager of its Systems Software division, in an interview with IDG.

If Intel could do this...

| Read more »
 
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