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Apr 27
Apple patents involve graphics resources, antennas

Two new Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. They're for virtualization of graphics resources and antennas with periodic shunt inductors.

Patent number 7,705,853 is for virtualization of graphics resources. Per the patent, graphics resources are virtualized through an interface between graphics hardware and graphics clients. The interface allocates the graphics resources across multiple graphics clients, processes commands for access to the graphics resources from the graphics clients, and resolves conflicts for the graphics resources among the clients. The inventors are John Stauffer, Bob Beretta and Ken Dyke.

Patent number 7,705,795 is for antennas with periodic shunt inductors. An antenna may be formed from conductive regions that define a gap that is bridged by shunt inductors. The inductors may have equal inductances and may be located equidistant from each other to form a scatter-type antenna...

| Read more »
Apr 26
Go Blu-ray; it adds additional format enhancements

Here's another reason I think Blu-ray is going to be around awhile: the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) recently announced two new media specifications that use Blu-ray Disc technology to provide targeted functionality for commercial and consumer applications.

The specifications for BDXL (High Capacity Recordable and Rewritable discs) and IH-BD (Intra-Hybrid discs) are expected in the next few months. The BDXL specification, which is targeted primarily at commercial segments such as broadcasting, medical and document imaging enterprises with significant archiving needs, will provide customers with write-once options on 100GB and 128GB capacity discs and rewritable capability on 100GB discs. T

he discs reach these capacities by incorporating three to four recordable layers. A consumer version of BDXL is also expected, particularly in those regions where BD recorders have achieved broad consumer acceptance.

"Professional industries have expressed a desire to find...

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Apr 23
North by Northeast: you heard it here first -- I was...

North of Northeast is a column that offers commentaries from a Canadian perspective. OK, I'll admit it, I'm a crusty, curmudgeonly kind of guy; the classic "glass half empty" type, but I'm also willing to admit when I'm wrong … and when it comes to the iPad I was very, very wrong indeed.

Now, in my own defence, my first comments were made just days after the device was officially announced, and I had not yet laid my hands on one. Neither had many third-party developers. So all we were seeing were a handful of Apple apps and a bunch of transported iPhone apps. Not much to go by.

That was then, this is now. My own iPad finally arrived yesterday morning, after an epic sixteen day journey from Boston to the southwest shores of Nova Scotia via, it would seem, Timbuktu. I live 440km directly across the Gulf of Maine from Boston. There's nothing but water between us. Sixteen days? What, did they hand it off to the fattest postie in the US Postal Service and...

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Apr 23
Men with iPhones are more attractive to women

Hey, forget the old "chicks dig scars" cliche. Chicks dig iPhones. According to a recent survey conducted by Phones 4u -- an independent mobile retailer -- men with iPhones are luckiest in love.

The survey of 1,500 women suggests that men who own the Apple iPhone handset are said to be more attractive than those who don't. I don't -- thank you, AT&T -- though I'm happily married. But you single guys should take note.

Per the survey, 54% of women stated that they would be more likely to date a man if he owns an iPhone. One respondent suggested "if he has an iPhone then he's obviously intelligent and well-off."

"There's just something about a man who's good with computers that makes him more trustworthy," said Lucy, a 23-year-old primary school teacher from London. "If he's got the cash for an iPhone then he must be very good at his job, too."

-- Dennis Sellers
What about an iPod touch? And, if size matters, then what about guys with iPads?

| Read more »
Apr 22
Apple patents range from audio playback to a...

Five Apple patents have appeared at the US Trademark and Patent Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20100100212 involves efficient techniques for modifying audio playback rates. Improved techniques for modifying a playback rate of an audio item (e.g., an audio stream) are disclosed. As a result, the audio item can be played back faster or slower than normal. The improved techniques are resource efficient and well suited for audio items containing speech. The resource efficiency of the improved techniques make them well suited for use with portable media devices, such as portable media players. The inventors are Aram Lindahl and Joseph Mark Williams.

Patent number 20100098350 is for a blur computation algorithm. The proposed algorithm accomplishes a blur of an image using fragment programs on a GPU. Alternatively, the blur may be computed on a CPU through emulation or directly programmed. Modifications of the program are...

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Apr 22
What other 'extraordinary products' does...

Commenting on Apple's latest, greatest, beat-all-estimates financial results Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a press release that "we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year." What might they be?

One, of course, is the next version of the iPhone. New Macs will doubtless see the light of day. Perhaps with USB 3.0 or Light Peak technology. And maybe with Blu-ray playback as an option, though I'm not holding my breath for this.

After all, a "9to5Mac" reader sent Apple's head honcho an email (http://www.9to5mac.com/Steve-Jobs-BluRay-3490436) asking if if future Macs would support BluRay.  While not flatly denying the possibility, Jobs certainly didn't give out much hope in the form of his famous "stay tuned" responses. He noted that YouTube now supports HD video and seems content with that as a distribution channel for HD...

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Apr 20
Apple's financials: so how'd we do?

Apple announced its second quarter results for fiscal year 2010 on Tuesday. So how did the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) do in my prognostications? Well, better than the Street. However, all of us proved to be way too pessimistic.

Analysts expected, on average, about 6.8 million iPhones to be sold for the quarter, compared with 3.8 million units in the same period last year. Mac sales were expected to reach 2.7 million units for the quarter, up 22% from the same period last year. Sales of the iPod were expected to hit unit sales of nine million compared to 11 million in the same period last year.

The Sellers Research Firm predicted 6.9 million iPhone unit sales, 2.8 million Mac unit sales and 10 million unit iPod sales. Check back later today to see how we did.

The reality: Apple sold 8.75 million iPhones, 2.94 million Macs and 10.89 million iPods.

Oh well, when it comes to Apple's finances, I'm happy to underestimate how successful the company can...

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Apr 20
Apple's financials: the analysts'...

Apple will announce its second quarter results for fiscal year 2010 today at 2 pm (Pacific) and we'll have all the results here. Here's what the analysts are expecting -- per MarketWatch (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-could-dial-up-strong-earnings-wit...):-- and what the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is predicting.

Analysts expect, on average, about 6.8 million iPhones to be sold for the quarter, compared with 3.8 million units in the same period last year. Mac sales are expected to reach 2.7 million units for the quarter, up 22% from the same period last year. Sales of the iPod are expected to hit unit sales of nine million compared to 11 million in the same period last year.

For the second fiscal quarter ended in March,...

| Read more »
Apr 19
Higher ed students want more support for using...

Apple already has a big presence in education. But the potential is there for it to expand that presence.

Today's tech savvy college students seek more support when it comes to using digital tools in the classroom, according to a recent survey conducted by Cengage Learning (http://www.cengage.com), a global provider of teaching, learning and research solutions, in conjunction with Eduventures.

The survey, which was administered to both students and instructors, also reveals there is a direct correlation between classroom technology use, student engagement and overall learning outcomes. The Cengage Learning/Eduventures survey, entitled "Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement and Learning Outcomes," found that 65% of instructors think students are tech savvy when it comes to using digital tools in the classroom.

Conversely, only 42% of students believe there's enough support for...

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Apr 15
Apple patents range from remote controls systems to...

Several Apple patents have popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20010094585 involves remote control systems that can distinguish stray light sources. Remote control systems that can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray light sources, e.g., environmental light sources and/or reflections are provided. The predetermined light sources can be disposed in asymmetric substantially linear or two-dimensional patterns. The predetermined light sources also can output waveforms modulated in accordance with one or more signature modulation characteristics. The predetermined light sources also can output light at different signature wavelengths. The inventors are Steven Porter Hotelling, Nicolas Vincent King, Duncan Robert Kerr and Wing Kong Low.

Patent number 20010095198 is for shared comments for online document collaboration. Some embodiments of the present invention provide a...

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Apr 15
Apple wants to add social networking features to its...

According to an Apple patent (number 2010094730) at the US Patent & Trademark Office, Apple wants to enhance the shopping atmosphere of its online store by adding social networking features.

Representing activity in an online store is disclosed. Information associated with the activities of a second visitor to the store is received. An indication of the presence of a first visitor at the store is also received. The activities of the second visitor are displayed to the first visitor. The inventor is David A. Koski.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The goals of both online shops and physical stores are generally the same--facilitating the purchase of goods and services by customers. In some cases, online shopping offers advantages over shopping in a physical store. For example, online shops are often open continuously, whereas most physical stores have set hours. Online shoppers are also able to leverage features such as search functionality...

| Read more »
Apr 15
USB 3.0 or Light Peak?

On one hand, I'm a little surprised that USB 3.0 didn't arrive on the new MacBook Pros announced this week. We may see it on the next iMacs and Mac Pros -- unless Apple makes one of its quantum leaps and goes directly to "Light Peak."

According to a recent Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) study, the market for digital interface technologies continues growing, and includes USB, 1394, DVI, HDMI, and Bluetooth, among others. USB is the most common and most-used interface among both home and work computer users, according to the research grouop. .

Research and Market's 21-question survey tracked the ownership of seven interface technologies among In-Stat's Technology Adoption Panel in both work and home PCs: USB, 1394 (FireWire to Mac users), DVI, HDMI, Bluetooth, DisplayPort, and eSATA. It also queried 1,216 tech-savvy, predominantly male, online respondents...

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Apr 15
Look for games, games, games on the iPhone

My forecast for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad: games, games and more games.

comScore (http://www.comscore.com), a research group that "measures the digital world," has released the results of a study on mobile gaming highlighting the potential for growth in the mobile gaming market despite a 13% decline in the number of U.S. mobile gamers during the past year. This overall decline was driven by a 35% decline in mobile gaming among feature phone (i.e. non-smartphone) subscribers, who represent approximately 80% of the market, which contrasted with the 60% increase in the number of gamers via smartphone.

"Although the number of mobile gamers has declined in the past year, there is reason for significant optimism about the future of this market," says Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president, Mobile, and senior analyst. "As the market transitions from feature phones to smartphones, the dynamics...

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Apr 14
Primate Labs Shows speed differences of new MacBook...

Are you curious as to how much faster the new MacBook Pros are? The folks over at Primate Labs have run Geekbench on the new models compared to the ones from 2009, and the results show some significant speed improvements. Check them out for yourself.

http://www.primatelabs.ca/blog/2010/04/macbookpro-benchmarks/

| Read more »
Apr 14
Apple, cast your iPhone eyes toward China

If Apple really wants to sell an additional boatload (or a thousand boatloads) of iPhones, it should be eyeing China -- and TD-SCDMA.

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, China’s 3G TD-SCDMA handset shipments will grow 600% during 2010. Yep, 600%. With the backing of the world’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, TD-SCDMA will be one of the fastest growing mobile technologies in the world, making China an important 3G market.

Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, says the surging volumes of TD-SCDMA handsets will mean no major phone maker can afford to ignore China. "If Apple eventually chooses to launch a TD-SCDMA version of its iPhone, then we believe this would ignite the market and provide considerable upside for Apple in China," he adds.

Of course, this would take some work on Apple's part in conjunction with a wireless carrier in China (I'd bet on China Mobile). TD_SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous...

| Read more »
Apr 14
The Mac is still the center of the digital lifestyle/...

Were you as glad as I was with the announcements of the new MacBook Pros yesterday? It's not that I'm in the market for a new laptop; it's just that I'm glad to see some love for what I maintain is still Apple's most important product line: the Mac.

A lot of pundits see the iPad as more evidence of Apple's plan to move to a "post personal computer world." I don't think that such a world is coming because: a) the iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, etc., are actually offshoots of the personal computer, even running a variant of Mac OS X, and b) none of those devices can replace a full fledged personal computer for many tasks.

That said, I do believe that iPad-like devices will replace some computers (mainly netbooks and entry-level laptops, to some extend). But those devices will still be spokes in a digital hub. The center of that digital hub will be the personal computer. And the personal computer occupying that center spot will increasingly be the Mac.

In 2008,...

| Read more »
Apr 13
Apple wants to facilitate hot unpluggable devices

Apple wants to make it easier to disconnect devices from your Mac, according to a new patent (number 7,698,472) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

It's for a hot unpluggable media storage device. Improved techniques for rendering a peripheral device removable (e.g., unpluggable) are disclosed. According to one aspect of the invention, the peripheral device is rendered removable from a host computer without preparatory user actions. In effect, the peripheral device can be automatically prepared for removal in the event that its user removes (unplugs) it from its host computer. According to another aspect of the invention, the peripheral device includes a data storage device that is mounted to a file system of the other computer when the other computer desires access to the data storage device. Otherwise, the data storage device is normally unmounted so that if the peripheral device were to be removed (e.g., unplugged) no harm or damage to data stored therein would occur...

| Read more »
Apr 13
Apple patents range from wall portions to glyph...

Several Apple patents have popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 7,697,283 is for an enclosure foot assembly and manufacture. Wall portions, such as wall portions of electronic device housing components, are provided with one or more foot assemblies. A foot assembly can be formed by creating an internal cavity in an internal surface of the wall portion, an external cavity in an external surface of the wall portion, and a hollow passageway extending through the wall portion and between the cavities. The foot assembly can be completed by inserting a foot at least partially through the external cavity and hollow passageway and into the internal cavity, such that an external portion of the foot is at least partially contained within and contacting the surfaces of the external cavity, and such that an internal portion of the foot is at least partially contained within the internal cavity. A portion of the foot...

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Apr 13
Apple wins patent for Smart Garment

Apple has won a patent (number 7,698,101) for a smart garment. It's a sensor authenticated to a garment that transfers information, either wirelessly or wired, to an external data processing device.

Such information includes location information, physiometric data of the individual wearing the garment, garment performance and wear data (when the garment is an athletic shoe, for example). The external data processing device can be portable digital media players that are, in turn, in wireless communication with a server computer or other wireless devices. The inventors are Brett G. Alten and Robert Edward Borchers.

The invention relates generally to performance monitoring. More particularly, methods and apparatus electronically pairing an authorized garment and a sensor that receives data from the garment are disclosed.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention:
"The use of devices to obtain exercise performance information is known. For...

| Read more »
Apr 13
Apple, cast your iPhone eyes toward China

f Apple really wants to sell an additional boatload (or a thousand boatloads) of iPhones, it should be eyeing China -- and TD-SCDMA.

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com), China’s 3G TD-SCDMA handset shipments will grow 600% during 2010. Yep, 600%. With the backing of the world’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, TD-SCDMA will be one of the fastest growing mobile technologies in the world, making China an important 3G market.

Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, says the surging volumes of TD-SCDMA handsets will mean no major phone maker can afford to ignore China. "If Apple eventually chooses to launch a TD-SCDMA version of its iPhone, then we believe this would ignite the market and provide considerable upside for Apple in China," he adds.

Of course, this would take some work on Apple's part in conjunction...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Online market for digital goods to grow with no end in...

No doubt the worldwide online market for digital goods will grow amid a state of continuous disruption across all forms of content markets -- and Apple looks like the best company to capitalize on this.

According to a new report from GigaOM Pro (http://www.gigaom.com), fueled by an ever-growing user base, migration from physical formats to digital distribution, and a proliferation of new connected devices, the overall market for digital goods will grow to US$36 billion by 2014, up from $16.7 billion in 2009.

While underlying demand for digital goods is fueled by the transition toward a connected-device (the iPad, anyone?), broadband-enabled society, the underlying business dynamics across many markets are forcing intellectual property owners to experiment with new payment and business models to survive, says the analysis firm. Advertising-supported media continues to suffer, as news and information...

| Read more »
Apr 09
Opinion: Next gen, touchscreen Macs running Mac OS X/...

Touchscreen desktops and laptops won't be the norm for several years, but I think Apple will, not surprisingly, be head of the curve.

In fact, I think by late 2011, if not before, we'll see Macs with touchscreens running an operating system that merges features of the iPhone OS and Mac OS X. Apple is already prepping us for this with multi-touch on its laptops and the multi-touch features of the Magic Mouse.

Touchscreen Macs will first gain ground among young end users, move onto small and home business owners, then -- dare we hope? -- the enterprise. Research from the Gartner research group backs this up.

"What we're going to see is the younger generation beginning to use touchscreen computers ahead of enterprises," says Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner. "By 2015, we expect more than 50 % of PCs purchased for users under the age of 15 will have touchscreens, up from fewer than 2% in 2009. On the other hand, we are predicting that fewer than...

| Read more »
Apr 08
Apple patents range from on-chip frame buffer to email...

In the addition to the ones we've already covered, four other Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20010085290 is for the use of an on-chip frame buffer to improve LCD response drive by overdriving. The patent is for a method and system is disclosed for improving the response time of displays, such as liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The method includes receiving a target picture frame and comparing it to a current picture frame. If the comparison shows that a display may be unable to transition from a current pixel intensity level to a target pixel intensity level within a specified time period, then the pixels that correspond to those current pixel intensities that may not be reach target pixel intensities may be overdriven. This overdriving of one or more pixels may allow the pixel to reach the target pixel intensity within the specified time period. The inventors are Michael Culbert...

| Read more »
Apr 08
Is Apple planning a mini tower?

I find it hard to believe that Apple is planning a mini tower desktop with the iMac being such a raging success, but a new Apple patent (20100088450) at least hints at the possibility. The patent is for a component retention mechanism and could also reflect an upcoming revision of the Mac Pro, though the wording makes that seem unlikely.

Apple says the invention relates generally to "personal computing devices" (which would seem to differentiate the computer in question from the pro-oriented Mac Pro workstation) and more particularly to the facilitation of increased modularity with respect to various components of such personal computing devices. According to the patent, a component retention mechanism facilitates improved installation, retention and removal of hardware components (e.g., PCI cards) on a personal computer. The retention mechanism includes a locking component, support member, and release mechanism coupled to each other. The locking component can be a steel...

| Read more »
Apr 08
Apple patent indicates combined USB 3.0/DisplayPort...

An Apple patent (number 2010087098) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a reduced size multi-pin female receptacle container. It hints at a combined USB 3.0 and DisplayPort connector.

Per the patents, 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, thus reducing their...

| Read more »
 
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