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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Apr 12
iPads making in-roads into the business market

iPads are making in-roads into the business market. They may also be opening a door for the MacBook Air to "sneak in."

A total of 8.87 million tablet computers are being used by US SMBs [small to medium sized businesses], Techaisle's survey (http://www.techaisle.com) of 1,356 SMBs reveals. It is estimated that slightly over 50% have been purchased by consumers and used for business.

Reflecting its strong consumer roots, the iPad dominates among very small businesses; however, Android is making inroads among larger SBs and MBs. Overall, 64% of SMBs are single OS adopters.

Approximately 71% of SMBs are using tablets as an additional device rather than replacements -- which, I've long contended, is the long term future of the tablet computer. Of the SMBs who plan to buy a tablet in the next 12 months, 77% are repeat buyers. While most tablet purchases are intended to be add-ons to existing...

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Apr 12
Apple wins gesture-detecting patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7924271) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for detecting gestures on multi-event sensitive devices. The method can include detecting gestures on or above a multi-event sensor panel and performing an action associated with detected gestures.

Such action can include activating or changing a state of one or more GUI [graphical user interface] objects and emulate functions performed by a mouse or trackball input device. The inventors are Greg Christie and Wayne Carl Westerman.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There exist today many styles of input devices for performing operations in a computer system. The operations generally correspond to moving a cursor and making selections on a display screen. The operations can also include paging, scrolling, panning, zooming, etc. By way of example, the input devices can include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch...

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Apr 11
Greg's bite: indirect economics, 1 Gig for KCK

By Greg Mills

The ballyhoo that went up when Kansas City, Kansas, won the Google 1 Gig lottery was based upon the anticipated economic effects we hope to see here. Kansas City, Kansas has suffered from the recession, much like the rest of the country.  

Unemployment is a major issue for 9% of us. Real estate values have also suffered dramatically.  The effect of the Google network coming to town is a complicated parameter with possible side effects no one can fully foresee, most of them good. 

To our established local cable TV company, the Google 1 Gig network is an economic disaster. I have a TimeWarner Cable modem Internet bill on my desk as I write this for US$50 that will soon go to Google instead. No one is going to put up with the intermittent 6 Megs a second cable modem when they can have 1000 Megs a second on a more stable fiber optic network. Google promises to sell 1 Gig symmetrical Internet for current broadband prices to everyone....

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Apr 11
US digital music sales will overtake CDs In 2012

Steve Jobs said the day was coming -- and it is. US consumers will spend more on online music than CDs for the first time in 2012, according to the latest study from the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com).

The report, "Global Recorded Music Market Forecast", found that total recorded music sales in the US declined by 7% to US$6.2 billion in 2010, driven largely by a 16% plunge in CD revenues, to $3.8b billion. In 2012 consumer spending on CDs will fall further to $2.7 billion, more than $1 billion lower than the 2010 level. But online music revenues will continue to grow, reaching $2.8 billion in 2012, therefore passing CDs for the first time.

"Digital music is not developing as fast as expected," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media research at Strategy Analytics. "While online revenues will expand further over the coming years, the...

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Apr 08
Greg's bite: the implications of 1 Gig Internet...

By Greg Mills

Here in Kansas City, Kansas, as we contemplate the Google 1 Gig fiber optic Internet coming to town, we are looking at our hardware. The notion of symmetrical 1 Gig internet will certainly push the envelope for hardware manufacturers, including Apple.

I got a number of technical correction emails from my editor and readers who tell me I got my megs, bytes, bits and gigs mixed up the other day as to decimal points. Sorry about that.  Hopefully, the content was educational, but only slightly tinted with technical error. I will try to untangle all that in the future.

At the KCK town hall meeting with Google the other night, to me the biggest bomb was the notion of upload and download at full 1 Gig speeds. The more or less standard of the industry seems to be roughly 10% of the download speed is enough for the upload speed.

Your computer talks to the web sites you visit ,and when you click on something the computer sends a...

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Apr 08
I'm dubious about an 'iPhone nano'

Rumors about a small, feature-limited, inexpensive iPhone have been circulating for some time -- and they've popped up again. I don't think we're going to see such a device. And at least some others agree with me.

In a note to clients Wednesday -- as reported by "Barron's" (http://macte.ch/dilFn) -- Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf expressed doubts that Apple could -- or would -- make a cheaper version of its smartphone without destroying the phone’s “iconic value.” The analyst doubts that Apple could cut corners on a new phone. And the iPhone's design is “monolithic” — so many parts are integral to it, such as the App Store, iTunes, etc. -- that making an iconic iPhone on the cheap is near impossible, writes Wolf.

He says that a smaller version of the iPhone won't work, as it would compromise the nature of video playback and app use. The only choice then is to try and cut out some memory or...

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Apr 07
Future iPads could have e-paper features

Future iPads -- and perhaps other iOS devices, though the Apple tablet seems the most natural fit -- could have e-paper features if an Apple patent (number 20110080417) is an indication. The patent is for systems and methods for switching between and electronic paper display and a video display.

Per the patent, control circuitry in an electronic device can analyze visual content to determine one or more features of the visual content. For example, the control circuitry can analyze visual content to determine the rate of change and/or color composition of the visual content. Based on the one or more features, the control circuitry can selectively enable the device's electronic paper display or the device's video display. The inventors are Gloria Lin and Andrew Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "This is directed to electronic devices with multiple displays. In particular, this is directed to systems and methods for displaying visual...

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Apr 07
Could future iOS devices have primary, secondary...

Could future iOS devices -- at least some of them -- have two displays? Seems so, as an Apple patent (number 20110080348) involving electronic devices with a primary display and selectively illuminated secondary display have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Systems and methods for selectively illuminating a secondary display are provided. An electronic device can include a primary display (e.g., a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen) and a printed segmented electroluminescence (secondary) display. The primary display can be used to convey visual content to a user, and the secondary display can be used to guide a user providing inputs to the device. For example, the secondary display can be selectively illuminated to provide one or more indicators that represent where or how a user can provide inputs to the device. The inventors are Gloria Lin, Andrew Hodge, Taido Nakajima, Bruno Germansderfer and Saumitro Dasgupta.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Apr 07
Apple plans to simplify back-up navigation on the Mac

Apple plans to simplify back-up procedures -- and finding files in back-ups -- per two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110083088 is for navigation of electronic backups. Systems and methods for navigating within snapshots are provided. In one implementation a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a history view associated with the current view be displayed. 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, the earlier version including a hierarchical structure wherein a first element of the earlier version includes a second element.

There is received, while the history view is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the second element. The method...

| Read more »
Apr 07
Greg's bite: Google Gigs KCK, town meeting notes

By Greg Mills

One Gig per second fiber optic Internet is coming to KCK starting late in the year or very early next year. Google picked Kansas City, Kansas, for a number of obscure reasons that have a lot more to do with our blind luck than anything else. As it turns out a number of odd factors in combination, led Google to choose KCK to test the notion of: what happens if you provide 1 Gig Internet at typical cable modem prices to Americans?  

We are a test bed for innovation in applying super fast Internet access to do who knows what?  They are going to follow closely to see what happens here to figure out what would happen if 1 Gig was common in the entire US. What novel applications and businesses will result? 

Google is betting, and I expect rightly so, that serious internet  based innovation will result.   That innovation will get more people on line viewing Google ads and doing other things that makes their cash registers ring. Google is...

| Read more »
Apr 07
One MacBook Pro or an iMac plus an Air?

Earlier this week storms and tornadoes raged through Tennessee, causing a great deal of damage. Two trees toppled on the road where I live, tearing down electrical, phone and cable lines. I was without power and Internet for over 24 hours, which is very inconvenient for an on-line editor.

For some time now, I've been using a 27-inch iMac as my main work machine (and only Mac) and using my iPad for a minimum amount of work when I'm on the road (which is rare). I love my Apple tablet, but quickly found out it doesn't cut it when I need be running Safari, Pages, Pixelmator and Mail -- and jumping back and forth between the apps.

To keep MacNews.com and MacTech.com updated as best I could, I borrowed my wife's aging MacBook Pro and worked from my church building, which still had electricity and Internet service after the storms passed.

This was very inconvenient, as I had to set up my Mail preferences and move various files over to my wife's MP Pro. It's made me...

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Apr 07
Apple granted patent for pulsed control of a camera...

Apple granted patent for Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110081142) for pulsed control of a camera flash by the US Patent & Trademark Office. An embodiment of the invention relates generally to electronic devices having a camera function (referred to here as an electronic camera device), and more particularly to techniques for controlling the camera flash.

Per the patent, input from a user is received, to take a picture. A camera flash is signaled to produce multiple flash pulses during a single shutter cycle of the picture. The amplitudes of at least two of the flash pulses are different relative to each other.

The picture is stored, including in its metadata information that describes the variable amplitude of the flash pulses that illuminated the scene when taking the picture. The information describing the variable amplitude of the flash pulses is used to deblur the picture. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

| Read more »
Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

| Read more »
Apr 06
Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector

An Apple patent (number 7918689) for a reduced size multi-pin male plug connector has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It would combine DisplayPort and USB 3.0 connectors -- and, perhaps, Thunderbolt, as well.

Per the patent, receptacle connectors and male plug connectors having a reduced size in at least one direction can be provided. One example reduces height by not including a center contact tab or tongue, but instead places contacts on an insulator that is adjacent to a bottom portion of the receptacle. Another example may reduce width by reducing contact pitch, and may use a particular shape of contact to achieve god signal quality.

Receptacle connectors and male plug connectors can also provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and DisplayPort. Methods can provide one or more standardized connector components to speed connector design and manufacture of new electronic devices such as media players...

| Read more »
 
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