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Mar 31
Analyst: 70% Apple will develop its own search engine...

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told clients he thinks there's a 70% chance that Apple will develop its own search engine within five years.

“We believe the company needs to develop its own search technology to protect the data generated on the iPhone,” he writes. “We believe Apple could utilize data unavailable from ,Google, data generated by the company’s App Store, to create a mobile centric search engine.”

According to "Barron's" ("http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2010/03/30/apple-when-will-they-build-their-own-mobile-search-engine/) Munster figures the company could start by making a minor acquisition of a search startup like Cuil, and then use the index as the base for building its own search engine. The Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is dubious that this will happen.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Mar 31
Best wishes to Tony Fadell, the 'father of the...

It's with a touch of sadness that we bid adieu to Tony Fadell, the "father of the iPod. He's leaving Apple after nine years, and, though I didn't know him personally, he's contributed a lot to my favorite tech company.

As noted by "The New York Times" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/godfather-of-ipod-severs-final-...), Tony played a key role in the company’s resurgence. He first envisioned a hard-drive-based digital music player in the 1990s and brought the idea to Seattle-based Real Networks, where he reportedly clashed with Real’s chief executive, Rob Glaser, and left after six weeks. Fadell then approached Apple in 2001, and history was made. The company sold 54.7 million iPods during its last fiscal year, which ended in September.

Tony's departure from...

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Mar 30
Apple patents range from parental control to...

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

Patent number 7,689,920 is for a parental control graphical user interface. Improved graphical user interfaces suitable for restricting the availability of media items and/or podcasts are also disclosed. The graphical user interfaces are particularly useful for a system that provides purchase and distribution of media in a client-server environment. The inventors are Jeffrey L. Robbin, David Heller and Jeff Miller.

Patent number 7,688,316 is for an adaptive method for acquiring color measurements. It's for a system and method for measuring a color parameter values of a display for calibration purposes. An initial measurement of the color parameter value from the display is performed. Next, a number of additional measurements is determined in response to the value of the initial color parameter value. The color parameter value of the...

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Mar 30
Apple patent involves iPad design

Apple has won a patent (number 7,688,574) from the US Patent & Trademark Office for a cold worked metal housing for a portable electronic device. Said device seems to be the iPad.

A cold worked stainless steel bezel for a portable electronic device is provided. The bezel is secured flush to a housing to form part of the case of the portable electronic device. A brace that includes a slot for receiving a wall extending from the bezel is fixed to the housing. When the bezel engages the housing, the wall of the bezel is inserted in the slot of the brace and releasably held by a spring that engages both the brace and the wall. The bezel can be released by disengaging the spring, (e.g., using a special tool or a magnetic field). Because the bezel is manufactured from cold worked stainless steel, it is hard and resistant to impacts. Cold worked steel also facilitates manufacturing within design constraints and tolerances, and requires very little machining after manufacturing...

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Mar 30
Apple granted patent for syncing multiple devices

With the iPad looming, folks are going to be using more electronic devices than ever. And the US Patent & Trademark Office has granted a patent (number 7,689,920) for a method of synchronizing three or more electronic devices and a computer system for implementing that method.

In one exemplary method of synchronizing three or more electronic devices, said method comprises: a) selecting at least one category of record for synchronization; b) storing an original value and a changed value of each changed record from a selected record category; c) establishing an electronic connection between at least two devices; d) comparing the records of the selected record categories; e) determining any changed record; f) identifying the updated device with the changed record having an original value the same as the value of the record in the other previous device; and g) changing the value of the record in the previous device to the changed value. The inventors are Jean-Marie Hullot,...

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Mar 30
Rumors fly about next-gen iPhone/s

There's a flurry of rumors about what the next iPhone will be like. There's talk of a Verizon-compatible version with CDMA support.

There's also talk about an "HD" model with twice the screen resolution of the current model, going from 320x480 to 960x640 pixels. Other reports claim the next iPhone will have a slightly thinner display and beefier performance, thanks to the A4 processor that will debut with the iPad.

There's also talk of an iSight web cam with accompanying iChat software for video conferencing on the iPhone.

You can read more of the rumors and speculation at "Macworld UK" (http://www.macworld.co.uk/ipod-itunes/news/index.cfm?RSS&NewsID=3218857), "The Wall Street Journal" (...

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Mar 30
Apple granted patents related to the iPhone,...

Apple has won patents related to the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad and podcasting from the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 7,688,306 is for methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer. According to one embodiment of the invention, an accelerometer attached to a portable device detects a movement of the portable device. In response, a machine executable code is executed within the portable device to perform one or more predetermined user configurable operations. Other methods and apparatuses are also described. The inventors are Paul J. Wehrenberg, Aaron Leiba, Richard C. Williams, David R. Falkenburg, Louis G. Gerbarg and Ray L. Chang.

Patent number 7,686,215 is for techniques and systems for supporting podcasting. Improved podcasts and techniques that facilitate their use are disclosed. The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing...

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Mar 30
Ticket price increase a bad idea

Theater owners are going to shoot themselves in the foot. Actually, they probably already have by raising 3D movie ticket prices.

"Variety" (http://www.variety.com) says the upcharge for 3D tickets has risen from an average extra US$2-$3 to $3.50 or more in many cases, and even $5 in some theaters in such markets as Los Angeles and New York. These numbers exclude Imax 3D ticket prices, which have always been significantly higher.

The hike in 3D prices will boost both returns to exhibs and distribs, with studios receiving 45% to 55% of total box office, depending on the film and how many weeks it has been playing, notes "Variety."

Some are saying the price increase will help spur installation of the high-priced 3D technology in theaters. Others are saying that the price hike may price folks right out of the theater.

I think the latter group is right. With the success of the 3D versions...

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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...

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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...

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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."...

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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...

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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:...

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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...

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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...

| Read more »
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...

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