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Mar 29
Online app stores to grow ... and grow .. and grow

With the launch of the Apple App Store in mid-2008, Apple managed to reinvent the smartphone application market, creating an end-to-end solution (iPhone/iPod touch, iTunes Store and applications) that dramatically improved the customer experience of application discovery, download and usage.

Since 2007, the smartphone application market has grown annually by 140%, reaching a value of US$1.94 billion (2009). However, the market is still in its early stages. The top five application stores represent 96% of the market's downloads, with Apple alone responsible for 77% of total downloads.

Independent applications stores like GetJar, Mobango, Handmark and Handango sold smartphone applications and other mobile content long before the Apple App Store's launch. These stores benefitted from Apple's boost to the market with quickly growing download numbers. In 2009, independent stores held a market share of 25%, but are increasingly threatened by the large number of new...

| Read more »
Mar 27
Apple prepping 'iAd' service?

Apple is preparing to announce its "next big thing": a new personalized, mobile advertising system that could well be called the "iAd," according to "Online Media Daily" (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=1...).

The new ad platform, which will be officially unveiled to Madison Avenue on April 7th, has been described as "revolutionary" and "our next big thing" by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the article adds, quoting executives familiar with the plan.

"Precise details of the system and its features could not be discerned at presstime (and calls to Apple had not been returned), but it is believed to have been built on top of Quattro, the mobile advertising developer Apple acquired in January for nearly $300 million, and it is expected to be the first...

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Mar 27
Central and Eastern Europe could be growth areas for...

It sounds as if there's a potential market to be taped by Apple: Central and Eastern Europe, where the number of personal computers is expected to grow significantly over the next four years.

Uptake of fixed and mobile broadband services will grow at a compound annual rate of 20% in the regions through 2014 as governments roll out more aggressive Internet connectivity policies in the wake of new guidelines covering expansion of telecom services, according to a new report from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com), according to a new report from the author.

Last November, the EU Parliament adopted a package of telecom proposals not only to strengthen the power of telecom regulators, but also to guide its member states on how to propel broadband growth via targeted investments and spectrum awards, notes Sylwia Boguszewska, analyst at Pyramid Research and author...

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Mar 26
Don't ignore the Mac's importance in Apple...

Most of the media focus is on the iPad and iPhone these days, but you shouldn't underestimate the importance of the Mac in Apple's growth picture.

According to a recent Piper Jaffray report, analyst Gene Munster says Mac sales grew 39% during the months of January and February 2010 when measured year over year.  Munster says that NPD retail data points to sales of 2.8 to 2.9 million Mac units sold for the March quarter.

The Street estimate is 2.7. Munster is forecasting Mac unit growth of 26 to 31% year-over-year. If this growth rate were sustained throughout the year, it could translate to a 3% (US$7) upside to the $267 Trefis price estimate for Apple’s stock.

The big excitement right now -- and understandably so -- is on the iPad. But once that initial rush is over, we still have plenty to look forward to on the Mac front this year. Hardware upgrades all around, of course. iLife 2010? iWork 2010? New displays to go with Mac Pros? USB 3.0? Blu-ray support?...

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Mar 25
Patent reflects dynamically changing look for the Mac...

Future versions of Mac OS X may sport an interface with elements that offer an even more intuitive appearance to reflect the operation being performed. Patent number 20010077336 involves dynamically changing appearances for user interface elements during drag and drop operations.

The patent involves a user interface includes elements whose appearance dynamically changes in dependence upon functions associated with the elements. In the case of an icon that is the destination for a drag-and-drop operation, the image displayed for the icon changes in accordance with the object being dragged to it, to represent the task that will be performed as a result of the drag-and-drop operation. The appearance of other elements involved in drag-and-drop operations can also be varied, to reflect the task at hand. As a result, the user is provided with more intuitive feedback regarding the functions that will be performed by the computer as a result of a drag-and-drop operation. The...

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Mar 25
Apple patents range from displays to bit-error testing

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

Patent number 20010073332 is for a display having a plurality of driver integrated circuits. An electronic device is disclosed. In some embodiments, the electronic device includes a liquid-crystal display (LCD) and a plurality of driver integrated circuits (ICs) coupled to the LCD. The driver ICs may be disposed near non-central locations along a side of the LCD, and in some embodiments, one of the driver ICs may be a master driver IC and the other driver IC or driver ICs may be slave driver ICs. The inventors are Shawn R. Gettemy, Carlin J. Vieri, Yongman Lee and Wei H. Yao.

Patent number 20010073350 is for a display with reduced parasitic effects. Per the patent, visual artifacts in a display are reduced by moving, to the extent possible, display driver components to the display surface itself, thereby shortening conductor...

| Read more »
Mar 25
Apple looking at solar-powered laptops

A new Apple patent (number 2010073791) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is considering ways to offer solar-powered laptops. Or at least portables with screens backlit by the sun.

An apparatus and methods for harnessing external light to illuminate a display screen of an electronic device are provided. The display screen may be illuminated using a light harness, a reflector, a translucent surface, or any combination thereof. The light harness may be cylindrical or hexahedral. The light harness may be coupled to an external light input or a collector. The reflector may be repositioned toward or away from the display screen to reflect external light toward the display screen. The translucent surface may allow external light to pass through it to illuminate the display screen. The translucent surface may protect the rear face of the display screen, or the rear face of the display screen may itself be translucent. The inventor is Peter H. Mahowald.

... | Read more »
Mar 25
Let's see support for third party themes, special...

It's not been mentioned by Apple, but I think we'll see iLife 2010 -- the next version of the suite that includes iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, iWeb and GarageBand -- before summer arrives. And I hope to see a major change to iMovie.

I was a BIG fan of iMovie HD. I hated iMovie '08. iMovie '09 was a major improvement over its immediate predecessor. However, I still wish Apple would restore something missing since iLife '06/HD and allow third parties to release themes, special effects and transitions for the video editing app.

Years ago that was possible. Companies such as GeeThree made some great extras for iMovie, and they're sorely missed.

Apple allows third party add-ons for iDVD and iWeb, as well as Pages and Keynote in the iWork suite. Why not iMovie?

I realize that Apple wants folks who wish to do anything beyond iMovie's rudimentary capabilities to move up to Final Cut Express. However, FC Express has so many more features than iMovie that I don't think...

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Mar 24
Femtocells may help those with crappy AT&T...

Hmmm. Could femtocells be the answer to my (lack of iPhone) problems? I currently don't own an iPhone because of the crappy AT&T wireless reception at my house.

However, folks like me will soon be able to fix that for US$150, reports the Associated Press (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/No-bars-at-home-ATampT-to-apf-178848912.ht...). AT&T said Wednesday that it's rolling out femtocells that, when connected to the home's broadband modem, will pick up signals from the cell phones in the home and relay them through the Internet connection. In essence, they're small cell towers for the home.

Dallas-based AT&T is introducing the 3G MicroCell in mid-April in some markets, which haven't been announced, notes the "AP." The rest of the country will follow over the next...

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Mar 24
Analyst says Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad sales all...

Barclay analyst Ben Reitzes told clients in a note today that Apple is firing on all cylinders with solid orders for Mac and iPod touches, the iPhone sales picking up in Japan and China and iPad supplies to rise steadily throughout the year.

As reported by "Barron's" (http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2010/03/24/apple-mac-ipod-order...), the analyst sees Apple selling five million iPads in calendar 2010, including 1.2 million in the June quarter, the first quarter the iPad will be shipping. However, he didn't give numbers on Mac or iPod touch sales.

Reitzes also says that "we have increased confidence that Apple will make a big splash this summer with a new iPhone form factor."...

| Read more »
Mar 24
Sales of top-of-the-line computer gaming stuff rising

Jon Peddie Research (http://www.jonpeddie.com) -- a research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, computer graphics -- estimates that 46% of the dollars spent in 2009 on gaming motivated computer hardware were directed toward what the firm calls the Enthusiast class. This is the top-of-the line stuff: boutique computers, high-end processors and graphics cards, SSD's, specialized gaming mice, keyboards, speakers, monitors, etc.

JPR is forecasting a shift in product mix demand as the worldwide computer gaming user base continues to increase in size. By 2013 the Enthusiast class will lose market share to the Performance and Mainstream classes from 46% to 35% of dollars spent. The good news for Enthusiast hardware producers is that this "market share shrink" occurs in an expanding market and expenditures on the Enthusiast class will grow from $9.5 billion to almost $12.5 billion in 2013, says JRP...

| Read more »
Mar 24
Apple's smartphone app dominance is only half the...

The fight for market dominance has heated up as mobile subscribers take to mobile smartphone apps in rapidly increasing numbers, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com).

While users are downloading applications at a phenomenal rate, Apple users download 2.4 times more applications than the average smartphone user, says the research group. However, downloads is not the only success factor for an application.

“Monitoring mobile application success by downloads alone is like driving your car and only using the rear view mirror; it provides only half of the story,” says Frank Dickson, In-Stat analyst. “Especially for free applications, usage is what determines success. Our research indicates that social networking and phone tools and utilities provide better returns for developers as they have above-average usage and below-average deletion rates.”

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:...

| Read more »
Mar 24
Mobile apps market is a 'new battleground'

The mobile applications market is undergoing a rebirth thanks largely to the efforts of companies like Apple and Google who over the last 18 months converted the category from a niche market that catered mainly for mobile geeks into a mainstream proposition, according to a new report by Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com).

The research group says that modern smartphones, the increasing penetration of high-speed mobile networks and the availability of flat-rate mobile data plans have been important enablers of this market. But equally important, has been the relatively recent development of device software, service delivery infrastructure and new business models that have ushered in a new era in mobile content and services.

Every large mobile operator around the globe now either already has a mobile applications strategy, or is developing one. While important...

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Mar 24
Apple will want a slice of the interactive TV ad pie

It's been reported/rumored for several months now that Apple is trying to tempt TV networks into participating in a $30-per-month service for watching TV shows via iTunes. It could be a lucrative move for Apple, assuming that ads are involved.

The Parks Associates research firm says that, by 2014, U.S. addressable, interactive TV advertising revenue will reach approximately $4.3 billion. It's expected to reach $133 this year alone. Apple certainly wants a piece of this pie.

Peter Kafka of AllThingsD says the company is trying to round up support for a monthly subscription service that would deliver TV programs via its multimedia software. Quoting "multiple sources," Kafka says Apple isn’t tying the proposed service to a specific piece of hardware, like the Apple TV or the rumored iPad/iTablet, but is touting the offer as an extension of its iTunes software.

A so-called “over the top” service could theoretically rival the ones most...

| Read more »
Mar 23
Analyst predicts Apple branded HDTV within four years

The Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is still dubious that Apple will release its own line of TV sets. But Piper Jaffray Gene Munster thinks that's exactly what will happen in the next 2-4 years.

In a note to clients he predicts that Apple will offer an US$2,000 Internet- and content-connected TV. As reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com), Munster said he thinks Apple will combine hardware, software and content into a HDTV. When combined with a potential iTunes TV subscription plan priced between US$50 and $90 per month, users would no longer have a need for their monthly cable bill, he added.

Munster thinks an Apple-branded HDTV would "move the needle" for the market, with the hardware maker delivering a product that would serve as the replacement for an entire entertainment center, beyond just the display, notes "AppleInsider." In addition, the established iPhone and...

| Read more »
Mar 23
comScore: awareness of the iPad high right out of the...

comScore (http://www.comscore.com), which measures the digital world, has released the results of a survey of 2,176 Internet users regarding their awareness, attitudes and opinions of the Apple iPad and other e-readers/tablet devices.

Results were analyzed across age and gender profiles, as well as the “iOwners” consumer segment, defined as those owning either an iPhone or iPod touch.

“The tablet and e-reader market is developing at a breakneck pace right now, and Apple’s entry into the market is sure to accelerate mainstream consumer adoption,” says Serge Matta,
comScore executive vice president. “These devices have the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the way consumers currently access digital content. While only time will tell exactly how consumer behavior will change, our research suggests that not only will a variety of markets be impacted by the introduction of these devices...

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Mar 23
Apple patents range from display technologies to text...

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

Patent number 7,683,983 is for a display that emits circularly-polarized light for portable devices. One embodiment of the present invention provides a display that emits circularly-polarized light. This display includes a display mechanism that emits linearly-polarized light and a layer placed in the path of the linearly-polarized light. The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface. By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter. The inventors are John Z. Zhong, Wei Chen, Cheg Chen, Victor H.E. Yin and Shawn R. Gettemy.

Patent number 7,683,888 is for a...

| Read more »
Mar 23
Apple patent looks for improved ways to cool Macs by...

A new Apple patent (number 7,684,192) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is investigating improved ways to cool Mac Pros and other computers.

The patent is for an apparatus for the air cooling of an electronic device. A contoured panel channels a flow of air within the housing of an electronic device so as to channel the flow of air more directly over heat producing elements such as the microprocessor and peripheral cards. A sensor can also be employed to determine whether the panel is present and properly placed. If not, measures can be taken to reduce the heat generated by the heat producing elements. For example, a warning can be displayed, or the microprocessor can be instructed to enter sleep mode. The inventors are Steven Holmes and Douglas L. Heirich.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "As electronic devices increase in processing power and speed, their processors generate more and more heat, thus exacerbating...

| Read more »
Mar 23
Could Apple patent hint at monitor for the iPad?

An Apple patent (number 7,684,185) that first appeared in 2006 has re-appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's for an integrated monitor and docking station. And you have to wonder if it hints at a future iteration of the iPad.

After all, the patent is for a portable computer -- and said portable computer doesn't appear to be an iPod or anything currently available. The docking station includes a display and a housing configured to hold the display in a manner that exposes a viewing surface of the display to view. The housing defines a docking area configured to receive a portable computer. The docking area is at least partly obscured by the display when viewed from the viewing surface side of the display at an angle substantially orthogonal to the viewing surface.

Traditionally a portable computer docking station requires a separate external monitor to be connected (e.g., by cable) to the docking station when a display other than the integrated...

| Read more »
Mar 23
Coming later this year (hopefully): Wi-Fi Direct...

Coming later this year or perhaps in early 2011: Wi-Fi devices that will be able to connect in a new way that makes it more simple and convenient than ever to do things like print, share and display.

Ad hoc wireless networking has always been more difficult than it should be. Plus, it maxes out at 11 mbps. Wi-Fi Direct will connect at existing Wi-Fi speeds of up to 250 mbps. And Wi-Fi Direct devices will also be able to broadcast their availability and seek out other Wi-Fi Direct devices.

As noted by "PC World" (http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/173699/wifi_direct_could_b...), with Wi-Fi Direct only one of the devices needs to be compliant with Wi-Fi Direct to establish the peer-to-peer connection. So, for example, a Wi-Fi Direct-...

| Read more »
Mar 22
Canalys: iPhone to have 21.3% of smartphone US market...

Smart phone shipments in North America totaled 47.2 million units in 2009, an increase of 27% over the volume seen in 2008, helped by a strong fourth quarter. Apple is expected to sell 13.8 million iPhones in 2010 for a market share of 21.3%.

The smartphone growth is forecast to accelerate to 38% in 2010, bringing total shipments in the region to 65.1 million units, according to Canalys (http://www.canalys.com). The research group thinks RIM will retain its leadership position in the North American market in 2010, with Apple in second place by operating system (OS) vendor share. Both vendors will grow their annual shipment volumes in the region, by 21% and 27% respectively.

In 2009, RIM held a 49% market share in North America, with Apple at 23%, though they will each lose a modest portion of their share this year as the total market grows at a quicker pace. RIM will remain strong in the corporate...

| Read more »
Mar 22
Analyst: Apple stores in China could help drive...

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty tells clients in a research note that China represents Apple’s next major geographic growth opportunity, and that Apple's plan to open 25 retail stores in China, announced during its shareholders meeting in February, could help drive Apple's share price  — in her "bull case" scenario -- as high as US$435 within a year.

As reported by "Fortune" (http://macosg.me/2/0m), Huberty expounds a positive correlation between Apple store expansion and the increase in Mac market share. Correlation does not mean causation, of course, but the trends do seem clear, notes "Fortune."

Apple opened 123 stores in the U.S. between Sept. 2003 and Sept. 2009 while the Mac's domestic market share grew from just over 3% to as high as 9% (before dipping below 8% last summer).

| Read more »
Mar 22
Consumers want both pay TV and Over-the-Top video

Now, Apple, you know I'm not going to quit hounding you until you move the Apple TV out of the "hobby" category. Anyway, here's some new research for you to consider.

Consumers want their Internet TV, according to market research firm In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). Already, based on In-Stat’s new multi-client research, 26% of U.S. consumer respondents report viewing Internet TV more than once per week. However, rather than a substitute for traditional pay TV services, consumers want Over-the-Top (OTT) Internet video to compliment traditional TV offerings.

“Consumers want the best of both worlds: pay TV and OTT Video,” says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. “Nearly 40% of consumer broadband household respondents want a combination of linear and on-demand TV, and nearly three quarters want to acquire all their video content from their pay TV operator.”

The recent research also found:

° ...

| Read more »
Mar 19
Apple firing on all cylinders to line up iPad content

Things are busy, busy, busy as the April 3 date for the iPad to go on sale. Apple is working to drum up lots of content for the new device in a variety of areas.

Games are the predominant type of app being tested on the iPad, making up 44% of the total, according to info from Flurry Analytics. Entertainment apps -- including videos -- come in second with 14%. Social networking programs made up 7% of the total, followed by sports, travel, lifestyle, and utilities.

Apple is also reportedly working hard to get TV shows on the iPad. "The Wall Street Journal" (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870352320457512986226470419...) says Apple has put its magazine, newspaper and textbook projects "on backburner" as it concentrates on cutting media content deals in the weeks before the iPad's...

| Read more »
Mar 19
Chrome TV may put the hurt on the Apple TV

The time is fast approaching -- heck, it's almost here -- when Apple is going to have to "fish or cut bait" as we say in the South when it comes to the company's "hobby," the Apple TV.

According to the "New York Times" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/technology/18webtv.html?partner=rss&em...), Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes. And if you don't think that will be a threat to the Apple TV, think again.

According to the "Times," the move is an effort by Google and Intel to extend their dominance of computing to television, an arena where they have little sway. For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the...

| Read more »
 
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