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Jun 28
Market for US mobile broadband about to speed up

The market for mobile broadband connectivity for portable computers has been slow to gain momentum over the past several years. But that's apparently about to change.

Only in the past 18 months has the U.S. market taken significant steps toward broader adoption beyond the traditional mobile worker. According to a new International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast, the U.S. mobile broadband market will grow from 6.5 million subscribers in 2009 to 30.2 million in 2014, which accounts for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.1% over the forecast period.

The introduction of subsidized netbooks and tablets, changes to pricing structures, and the early availability of 4G with WiMAX (and upcoming LTE deployments) have begun to spur interest among the consumer segment about the power of mobile broadband as a secondary access method beyond wired broadband. Although the possibility of mobile broadband becoming a primary access technology remains a figment of our...

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Jun 24
More US consumers eyeing femtocells

I'd love -- REALLY LOVE -- to have an iPhone 4 (assuming, of course, I could get my hands on one). However, AT&T's crappy wireless service in my neck of the woods prevents this -- though Verizon's service has gotten increasingly worse. Maybe I need a femtocell.

International research firm Parks Associates today announced the results of the most comprehensive survey to date of U.S. consumer attitudes to femtocells, conducted on behalf of the Femto Forum.

AT&T, among other companies, is 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. AT&T wants to sell me one for $150. But if their wireless service stays crappy, they should give 'em away.

Regardless, lots of folks are going the femtocell route. A new survey by the Park Associates research group finds that more than half of...

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Jun 24
Apple hints at future devices with multiple feedback...

An Apple patent (number 20100156818) for a multi touch with haptics has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It hints at upcoming iPhones, iPod touches and iPads that would accept a number of physical feedback responses through haptic feedback.

Haptic technology, or haptics, is a tactile feedback technology that takes advantage of a user's sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, and/or motions to the user. When referring to mobile devices, this generally means the use of vibrations from the device's vibration alarm to denote that a touchscreen button has been pressed.

Methods and systems for processing touch inputs are disclosed in the Apple patent. The invention in one respect includes reading data from a multi-touch sensing device such as a multi-touch touch screen where the data pertains to touch input with respect to the multi-touch sensing device, and identifying at least one multi-touch gesture based on the data from the multi-touch sensing...

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Jun 24
Another reason why Apple would be nuts to give up the...

Amid all the hoopla over the iPad and iPhone 4, a handful of folks have predicted that the Macs days were numbered. If so, it's because that Apple wants to lose money.

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) has released its "Global Top 10 Computer and Peripherals Companies -- Industry, Financial and SWOT Analysis. Apple is, of course, in that group, along with HP, IBM, Toshiba, Dell, NEC, Canon, Asustek, Acer and Lenova.

The global computers and peripherals industry generated total revenues of $540.1 billion in 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% for the period spanning 200408. And now the important (for this op-ed anyway) part. According to Research and Markets, the personal computers segment proved the most lucrative for the global computers and peripherals industry in 2008, generating total revenues of $236.9 billion. That's...

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Jun 23
The Mac still has plenty of room for growth -- and new...

Still think that there's no room for growth or innovation on the Mac? Well, to the naysayers I must point out that there's plenty of room for both.

In 2005, market research firm IDC pegged Apple's share of the U.S. PC market at 4 %. In the first quarter of 2010, that number had grown to 6.4%. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that for every half-percentage point of market share growth Apple boosts its sales by about US$3 billion.

And unit sales of the Mac have grown even more impressively than market share. In fiscal 2004, Apple sold 3.29 million Macs. It sold 3.36 million in the first quarter of 2010 alone.

What of new features? I've repeatedly argued for Blu-ray support, a built-in TV tuner on at least some Macs and -- also on some Macs -- touch screen support. Arik Hesseldahl, in his column for "Bloomberg BusinessWeek" (...

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Jun 23
Greg's bite: the wisdom of the Apple 'closed...

By Greg Mills

While Apple supports open source software and even provides powerful program elements, such as WebKit, their tendency is to have a closed system. While some hate that concept, the truth is, Apple has thrived on it lately.  

The late 80's saw the much more "open" PCs as cheap PCs and Microsoft swamped Apple in the market place. Apple even dabbled with licensing software to Mac clone companies. That experiment was aborted as Apple returned to a solo, closed business model.  

The openness the PC world craves is also open to malware of every stripe and color. The relative safety of the Mac platform is commonly passed off as a function of the smaller size of the installed computer base. Why waste time hacking Macs when there are so many easy PC to infect? I think the truth is that the more closed system of the Mac helps ward off attacks due to the infrastructure being more secure from the foundation up and in no small part, the work of...

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Jun 22
Apple granted patents for Apple TV interface, iMac...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Apple TV user interface, the iMac, the iPhone, the iPod, and more.

Patents 7,743,116 and 7,743,338 are for the Apple TV interface. Patent number D618,241 is for the iMac. Patent number D618,204 is for the iPhone 2G. Patent number D618,207 is for the design of the original iPod. Patent number D618,206 is for the design of the second gen iPod nano, while patent number D618,205 is for the third gen model.

Two other Apple patents also appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 7,742,525 is for adaptive motion estimation. The patent involves a method for adaptively performing motion estimation. In some embodiments, the method initially performs a first motion estimation operation. It then determines whether the estimated error in the result of the first motion estimation is greater than a particular threshold. If not, the method uses the results of the...

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Jun 22
The Mac can be Apple's 'game console'

And in writing for "InfoWorld" (http://macosg.me/2/f0), Paul Venezia has an interesting premise: "Rumor has it that Apple may release a gyroscopic Wii-like controller, too. Couple a 27-inch LCD panel with a Mac running Mac OS X and games developed for the iPad/iPhone, all controlled by the equivalent of a Wiimote, and you suddenly have a compelling gaming system that could run the same games on devices ranging from the iPhone to the iMac. From the developer's perspective, it's develop once, run on every Apple device."

In fact, it's similar to a GameDock system proposed by "Mac/Life": "Take this nifty little gaming platform and assign it double duty as both a handheld and a console system. The GameDock accommodates the iPhone and iPod touch and hooks directly to your TV and the Internet. Whether you download a game wirelessly via the handheld or wiredly via the GameDock, you pay just once for two versions of...

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Jun 21
Greg's bite: a Microsoft fantasy regarding '...

By Greg Mills

The Apple spokesman was clearly shaken as he announced to a stunned press conference the unbelievable news that iPhone has finally been "killed" by a competitor's new smart phon that is "light years ahead of Apple R&D." 

The promising launch of iPhone 4 has been cancelled and shipped stock recalled, 450,000 Foxxcom workers have been laid off. Email from Apple will go out to customers soon explaining the sudden withdrawal of Apple from the cell phone market.

Steve Jobs has announced his early retirement and put his jet up for sale. Jobs is planning to sell cold refreshments from his new ice cream truck. He says he is hoping for a hot summer at the beach.  

"I always wanted to drive an ice cream truck" Jobs gushed, as he was interviewed leaving the Apple Campus in disgrace. "We can't come back from this technological Waterloo. Wouldn't you know it, if a true iPhone Killer was coming, Microsoft and Balmer are the ones to...

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Jun 21
Interest in 3D gaming extends beyond the avid gamer

Here's another reason I think we'll see an iMac 3D sooner rather than later: interest in 3D gaming is strongest among early adopters and gaming enthusiasts, but a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) shows that interest in 3D gaming extends to the casual video game player as well.

The "3D Gaming: Entertainment’s Next Dimension" study of online U.S. adults also found that more consumer demonstrations and education are needed before adoption can take off. Interest in a 3D gaming experience is not limited to the devoted gamer. While two-thirds (64%) of those interested in 3D gaming say they are video game enthusiasts, more than a third (35%) that showed interest are casual gamers.

No matter what their gaming level, consumers interested in 3D gaming expect 3D gaming devices coming to the market to serve as multi-media players. Most consumers expect to use their 3D gaming device to watch 3D movies (58%) and connect to the Internet (51%). Nearly half...

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Jun 18
Greg's bite: AT&T -- 'no bars in more...

By Greg Mills

The Micro Cell technology AT&T recently announced is sort of like a 3G WiFi device. They can be really small and amount to a mini cell tower connected to your Internet connection. The fact that they are needed says a lot about the network holes that bug us all who use iPhones, iPads, and, for that matter, all junk (non Apple) cell phones that use AT&T. 

If the device works as advertised, it will create a small area where a strong 3G signal will fill in the holes in the AT&T network we seem to all fall into. To be fair, there are problems due to dense buildings, geographic issues like hills and mountains. My house is one of those problem areas due to a metal roof with two layers of grounded steel and one layer on the exterior walls.  This amounts to a radio dampening field. Sometimes I go to a window and get a better signal.

The US$150 one-time charge for the MicroCell device is one thing, but charging users for minutes...

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Jun 18
Another reason to not dismiss the Mac: money

Here's another reason why Apple won't be abandoning the Mac: money. On the heels of an exceptional fourth quarter in 2009, global personal computer shipments followed suit with year-on-year growth of 27.1% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the IDC research group (http://www.idc.com). And we're just getting started.

Unlike most of 2009, the recent market recovery has also seen a small rebound in higher priced SKUs as netbooks became less of a driver of volume (perhaps thanks to the iPad, eh?). Although low to mid-range portable computers still dominate the market, desktop computers also recovered with its first yearly growth since the second quarter of 2008.

Commercial desktops posted positive growth, a first since the downturn, while the popularity of all-in-ones was a major factor in driving consumer desktop growth. That's good news for the Mac Pros -- way overdue for an update -- and the iMac --...

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Jun 17
Greg's bite: Odd couples in the tech world

By Greg Mills

Would you date Scarlett Johansson if she had Roseann Barr attached at the hip as a Siamese twin?  Could you read a fairy tail about Prince Charming who had Quasimoto as a Siamese twin to children?  

I doubt such a horrible image would lull them to sleep. It seems to me Apple/AT&T and Clear/Sprint are also such unlikely corporate dual monstrosities with an attractive partner merged in some way to a stone downer.

Another image I actually saw was iPhone with a ball and chain attached using the AT&T logo as the ball. As an iPhone subscriber, my experience with AT&T customer service has been fine; it is the slow network that bugs me.  If you ever see the slogan "AT&T, no bars in more places," let me know; they have plagiarized my slogan. I submitted the idea to them, and they never got back to me.  

Actually, as iPhone users know, you can have five bars and still drop the call or have the web crawl like the dial...

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Jun 17
Apple patents cover authentication, type knowledge,...

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

Patent number 2010053450 is for a system and method for authentication using a shared table and sorting exponentiation. Disclosed herein are systems, computer-implemented methods, and computer-readable media for authentication using a shared table. The method receives an authentication challenge from a first entity including an accumulator with an initial value, lists of elements in a shared table, and a list of sorting algorithms, each sorting algorithm is associated with one of the lists of elements and modified to include embedded instructions operating on the accumulator. The method then generates a temporary table for each list of elements in the shared table by copying elements from the shared table as indicated in each respective list of elements, each temporary table being associated with one sorting algorithm in the list of sorting algorithms...

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Jun 17
Apple patent could given new meaning to 'smarty-...

An Apple patent (number 20100151996) for a "smart garment" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and hints at clothing that could "talk" to an iPhone, iPad or iPod. 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.

Per the patent, a sensor authenticated to a garment 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.

Here's Apple's background...

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Jun 17
Apple considering HD radio on its portable devices

A new Apple patent (number 20100150276) at the US Patent & Tradmark Office shows that the company may be planning HD radio features in upcoming iPhones, iPads and iPod. The patent is for digital radio tagging using an RF tuner accessory.

According to the patent, an accessory having an RF tuner for digital radio, such as HD radio, can be in communication with a media player such as a portable media device ("PMD"). The user can be given the ability to command the accessory to provide raw digital data, the ability to scan only for stations having digital audio content (or for all available stations), the ability to provide station lists of stations having digital audio content (or all available stations), and the ability to request and store metadata beyond that for stations actually being listened to provide enhanced search capabilities. Enhanced metadata and searching can provide the listener the ability to refine station choices without having to listen at length to any...

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Jun 17
iPad paves the way for new set of devices

The Mac isn't going anywhere, but the launch of the iPad is paving the way for a new set of devices: tablets, which rise between the mobile experience of smartphones and the computing experience of laptops.

These devices, being connected to wireless networks and equipped with all the services and applications of smartphones, can not only offer a better entertainment experience, but also drive new ideas in other industries including publishing and tourism, according to Saverio Romeo, senior industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan, a firm whose analysts, consultants, and visionaries cover more than 300 markets and 250,000 companies.

He notes thatApple has again established a route modeling the use of the iPad around the Apple App Store, from where applications can be downloaded to the device. The model for the iPhone has been simply extended to the tablet. The application revenue model also remains the same: the 70/30 revenue sharing model used for smartphones is...

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Jun 16
So what's on Apple's calendar for the rest...

The new Mac mini debuted yesterday -- and, quite impressively, I might add. The MacBook and MacBook Pro lines have been updated. The iPhone 4 has been unveiled. Safari has been revved to version 5 and iOS (the operating system formerly known as iPhone OS) has seen some big changes. So what else can we expect from Apple in the near future?

I think we'll see new Mac Pros and a 27-inch Cinema Display before summer's end. Probably a new MacBook Air, as well, though I still wouldn't bet on its long-term future with the iPad around. The iPod line-up will probably also be tweaked before the start of the next school term.

I do think iTunes.com, the web-based version of iTunes, is coming. And I'm among those who think the Apple TV is going to get a new, very exciting overhaul, this year. But I don't expect either of these until this fall. Though I hope I'm wrong on the Apple TV update; sooner would be better.

I think we'll see new versions of iLife and iWork this year...

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Jun 16
Greg's bite: iOS Apps and GPS on a Mac

By Greg Mills

The notion of running iOS (formerly known as the iPhone OS) Apps on a Mac is interesting. When I first read about that idea it struck me as a way to broaden app sales to include the additional platform of the Mac. That sounds like more money flowing into the App Store to me.

The only problem is that iOS apps are built upon the Cocoa Touch user interface which accesses the compass, GPS, motion and gravity sensors which are used to manipulate functions on iPhone and iPad. Current Macs don't have those sensors and do not have touch screens to work with iPhone apps either. This is not to say Apple or third party companies are not working on that exact problem. Something like a game controller with Bluetooth would do it.

Apps that are mostly display oriented may be ported to use mouse or touch pad input, but that may take a virtual rewrite of most apps. The Mac OS already supports Java applets which run well on Macs. Widgets also...

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Jun 15
Greg's bite: the Cloud is coming

By Greg Mills

The notion of "cloud" computing or actually cloud storage has been around for a while now.  The Internet allows files to seamlessly be stored on a remote server "in the cloud." The cloud  is not to be confused with Heaven, as there is a devil in the details of cloud computing.  

Malcrosoft (misspelled intentionally) attempted to implement applications that reside on their servers that you sort of rent instead of own. You never really have the application, as such, on your computer and the files can be printed out or stored on your local computer or their server.  Typical of those able to screw up a stainless steel ball bearing, the Microsoft cloud had all sorts of problems including lost data. Oops, now you see it, now you don't. Would you really trust the book you have been writing to a remote server somewhere in Redmond?    

Also typical of Microsoft, the basic reason for the cloud concept they came up with was related to money...

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Jun 15
Apple wins patents for MacBook, iPod touch, Expose,...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design wins for the MacBook, iPod touch and Mac OS X's Expose feature. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number D617,807 is for a graphical user interface for a display screen or a portion thereof (the iPhone touch). The inventors are Greg Christie, Elizabeth Caroline Furches and Bas Oring.

Patent number D617,792 is for the design of an electronic device (the MacBook). The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7,739,617 is for a computer interface having a virtual single-layer mode for viewing overlapping objects. In other words, Expose. A computer-human interface...

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Jun 15
Mac OS X and iOS both on a Mac?

I've surmised that future versions of Mac OS X would include elements of iOS (the operating system formerly known as iPhone OS) and I still think it will. However, two other folks have offered an interesting alternative: iOS running along Mac OS X on a Mac.

"MacNews" reader Loren Kruse made this prediction: "The next iMac will be a touch enable computer either through the screen or through a multi-touch tablet and will have Mac OS X along with IOS built in. This would greatly increase the marketing potential for the apps and advertising."

And in a "ZDNet" column (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/ios-4-on-a-mac/8609), tech writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes said he thought we might see iOS running alongside Mac OS X proper.

"Pre iPad, it made little sense for Apple to even think of putting the iPhone OS on the Mac, since the apps were...

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Jun 14
3D TV -- not everyone can see (literally) what the...

As Hollywood prepares for a summer filled with more 3D blockbuster hopefuls and cable networks launch 3D networks and programming for new 3D televisions, the trend towards this new technology is hard to miss -- except for the millions of Americans who literally can’t see it.

Movies including “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” have already left their impression on the 3D screen and new movies using the technology are making their way into theaters across the country. Meanwhile, ESPN and the Discovery Channel are preparing to broadcast in 3D. This new technology is catching the eyes of fans nationwide, but some people may not be able to enjoy the 3-D experience because of vision problems.

“Quite simply, people who have even a small vision misalignment or those who don’t have equal vision in both eyes may not be able to see 3D images properly,” says Dr. Leonard Press, chair of the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Committee (...

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Jun 11
Online video services to get bigger and better

Well, this is good news for Apple's iTunes service (and perhaps a revamped Apple TV, when it happens): nearly half (46%) of 18- to 25-year-olds spend as much time using online video services as they do watching TV, says RealNetworks.

Research by online video software firm revealed that just under a third (32%) say the computer is their preferred platform for watching TV and video. However, when it comes to 36- to 45-year-olds, 20% watch at least 50% of TV programs and movies via a computer.

"It's still early days for online video but as each year passes the quality and breadth of online video content increases dramatically and the tools to access, manage, share and consume the content grow ever more sophisticated," says Marili 't Hooft-Bolle from RealNetworks.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 10
Nearly two-thirds of all online software purchases are...

With the Apple App Store going great guns, will we eventually see a similar service for Mac software? Perhaps aps for a revamped Apple TV?

Nearly two-thirds of all online software purchases were digital downloads in 2010, up slightly from 2009, according to the new report from the market research company, The NPD Group (http://www.npdgroup.com). Online digital downloads of new products accounted for 23% of online purchases, up from 22% in 2009. Online subscription renewals accounted for 34%, down one percentage point from 2009, and trial-to-paid conversions were 8% of sales, up from 6% in 2009.

With all this in mind, Apple has surely considered a Mac App Store. However, CEO Steve Jobs said in an email in April that "nope," Apple had no such plans.


As for the Apple TV, that may be another matters. Especially as the rumor mill says an upcoming rev of Apple's "hobby" will use the iPhone OS, er...

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Jun 10
Greg's bite: the quick assimilation of things...

By Greg Mills

I am off to Orlando to marry off my last single sister-in-law and noticed that airline security didn't blink about the iPad going through security. Matter of fact, they said the laptop needs to be in its own tray, but the iPad is OK with other items.

On the plane when they said electronic items need to be turned off, they specifically included laptops, cell phones and iPads. Note that they didn't say slate computers or netbooks, but rather iPads, specifically.

Apple has already established the iPad as a separate category of electronic device. Generic slate computers are likely doomed to be second class "iPads" when they come out. Being the trend-setter and having the brand of product to own is worth billions to Apple.

Sitting in an Atlanta airport as I write this, I look up and the guy across from me is reading a newspaper. The picture in the headline section of the paper is Steve Jobs holding a new iPhone. Apple is...

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Jun 09
The obituary for the Mac

"Newsweek" ran an obituary for the Mac yesterday (see http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/techtonic-shifts/2010/06/08/does-apple-s-i...) in which it said that the "future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh."

"You Mac guys just got kicked to the curb, relegated to the steaming dung heap of the past," "Newsweek" wrote. "The future, for Apple, is all about iPhones and iPads, and, more important, the operating system software that powers them -- the sexy new iOS 4, which these days seems to be getting most of Steve’s attention."

I think "Newsweek" is right on one point: "the future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh." The Mac is no longer THE main focus of Apple (although that's probably...

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Jun 08
Greg's bite: iPad, the foundation, the digital...

By Greg Mills

(Note:  I am writing this on Sunday, the day before the Apple WWDC keynote.) The mainstream "paper press" seems to be faltering all around the US. Most major newspapers are running in the red and have been losing money for some time now.  

One paper in Honolulu bought the other paper so now there is one. Major economic changes are taking place at a breath-taking pace. This is very bad if you are part of the old content economy, but very good if you are part of the digital content delivery revolution.  

What began as a novel way to send a note to someone else on line as an email became a torrent -- and now the number of emails delivered each day is more than physical letters. The Post Office has complained that itss revenue is suffering because of virtually free email replacing the postage stamp model of financing written communication. The postal union is crying all the way to Congress and, sometime ago, actually suggested a tax...

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Jun 08
Apple granted patents for iPhone OS interface, more

A plethora of Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number D617,334 is for a graphical user interface or a portion thereof. In other words, the iPhone OS interface (now iOS). The inventor is Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number D617,339 is for the ornamental design for an icon of a display screen. The inventors are Bas Ording and Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number 7,734,721 involves a system and method for passive detection and context sensitive notification of upgrade availability for computer information. The invention monitors upgrade availability for computer information on a user's computer and allows the user to determine which of the available upgrades will be downloaded to the user's computer and installed. The upgrade availability for computer information on the user's computer is monitored in the background, without user-intervention when the...

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Jun 08
Some thoughts on yesterday's WWDC keynote

I didn't do too well in my predictions of what Apple CEO Steve Jobs would announce at his Worldwide Developer Conference keynote. But overall I wasn't too disappointed. Well, as "un-disappointed" as I could be with the lack of any Mac love.

The iPhone 4 does look very cool, as does iOS 4 (the mobile operating system formerly known as iPhone OS). It makes me want an Apple smartphone more than ever, though I still can't justify buying one until AT&T improves its wireless service in the northern end of Nashville, TN. It looks as if it is going to be next year before I can hope for a Verizon iPhone.

I wasn't expecting any Apple TV news, but I was certain we'd be thrown at least a couple of bones for our Mac jones. I still think that new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays are just around the corner. As is Safari 5 with, among other things, official support for extensions.

Hopefully, iAds will be a good thing for Apple and developers. As...

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Jun 07
Where's Phil?

Our friend Jeff Ganyard at MacSpeech/Nuance Communications made an interesting comment this afternoon at WWDC...

While Apple doesn't typically parade all of their executives across a keynote anyway, this year's keynote did have one noticeable omission -- Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing. Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive, Bob Mansfield, and others were part of keynote (either live or in video), but not Phil. This is a contrast from the past.

What does this mean? Was Phil simply not needed? Was he out sick? Maybe Apple is trying to spread the breadth around a bit to show leadership is deep as part of a Jobs' succession plan. But, if that were the case, why cut Phil out? What's up with that?

Time will tell.

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Jun 07
Greg's bite: iPad software that must be on the...

By Greg Mills

While there is certainly a lot of software already available for iPad, the transition path for consumers to migrate from laptops or desktops to the iPad will require the iLife suite and other consumer grade programs to become adapted to the Cocoa Touch methods of the user interface.

iMovie simplified to run on iPad will be a killer app. The Apple "go to market" model seems to be breaking up suites of software, such as iWork and iLife into individual apps and selling them online for US$10 a pop. At that price point they are selling well. That represents about a 50% discount over Mac OS versions. I will be watching Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developer Conference keynote today to see what new iPad software launches.

The camera USB connector for iPad will become a fundamental addition for most of us -- at least until Apple launches the next generation iPad that might have a camera and perhaps a USB port built in. Clearly, for the iPad...

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Jun 04
My predictions for today's WWDC keynote

Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today with a keynote address by CEO Steve Jobs at 10 a.m. (Pacific). I've culled through all the rumors and here's what I'm predicting.

Jobs will introduce the next gen iPhone, which will have a front-facing camera for video and group chat. The smartphone will be introduced and demoed -- but won't go on sale for another 2-3 weeks.

Jobs will introduce iTunes.com, a web-based version of iTunes.

The CEO will introduce new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays.

It will be announced that Safari now officially supports extensions.

There will be no announcement of a Verizon iPhone. That's coming, but not yet. I'm EXPECTING it to happen in 2011, but I'm HOPING it will happen this fall or winter.

There will no no announcement of a new Apple TV. That's coming, but it's not quite ready (forgive the pun) for prime time yet.

No new iPods will be...

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Jun 04
Greg's bite: can the iPad save journalism?

By Greg Mills

Frankly, the blunt answer is yes, but not necessarily in its current business model -- and many publishers will not make the transition. I laughed when I saw where some well known national magazines launched an app and were charging US$5 an issue for an electronic version of a print magazine you can subscribe to for $8 per year -- for 12 full color magazines delivered to your door.  

People are not stupid;at least most of us are not that stupid. Perhaps as a novelty, one might spend $5 on one electronic magazine, just to see what it is like. A thriving business model requires a long term willingness for consumers to buy a product. Gouging will not work long term. 

Advantages of electronic publishing are cost related.  If that cost advantage is not passed on to the electronic consumer, the electronic magazine product will not sell. While the cost of publishing a paper magazine varies according to circulation, at least half the cost...

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Jun 04
Blu-ray 3D demoed for computers

Earlier this week I talked about the possibility of a stereoscopic (ie, 3D). Whether or not they're Macs, 3D computers look as if they'll arrive sooner than I expected.

CyberLink Corp. is showing visitors to this week's Computex expo a demonstration of PowerDVD 10 ULTRA 3D that enables Blu-ray 3D movie playback on computers. With PowerDVD, consumers will purportedly be able to enjoy full 1080p high-definition stereoscopic video on Blu-ray 3D movies.

PowerDVD is the first software player to receive Blu-ray 3D certification from the Blu-ray Disc Association. Optimized with CPU and GPU hardware acceleration, PowerDVD delivers two 1080p frames to create a hi def, 3D video effect in the display. PowerDVD outputs to all main 3D formats, including sequential, row-interleave, and checkerboard too. It also enables 3D graphic menus and 3D subtitles for a full 3D experience.

Now I have no idea if or when Apple might bring 3D technology to, at least, a build-to-order Mac....

| Read more »
Jun 03
Apple could aim particle gun at DRM violators

A new patent (number 20100138654) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system of digital rights management (DRM) that would identify the authenticity of a device based on the unique physical emission properties of a "particle gun." The invention invention relates to DRM and more specifically to authentication or hashing functions.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The field of DRM involves code protection, code obfuscation and various other software security mechanisms. Cryptography is one such way to protect information. Cryptography is the practice of hiding information; encryption is the process of converting intelligible information (plaintext) into unintelligible information (ciphertext); and decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back into plaintext. Authentication is a software security mechanism that establishes or confirms an entity as authentic, or true.

"Hashing is also often utilized in...

| Read more »
Jun 03
Greg's bite: the age of Ballmer must end

By Greg Mills

Some readers must think I am anti-Ballmer. But really, without Steve Ballmer I would have to find some one else to criticize -- and with the Microsoft exec it's so easy.

Who else has ridden a stone cold, worldwide monopoly into the ground? Since Mr. Ballmer took over at Microsoft in 2000, it has lost half its market cap. From US$500 billion to 250 billion dollars.  Hello, Bill Gates ... Earth to Gates ... come in Bill ... can you hear me now?

While Bill Gates doesn't have to eat in soup kitchens, he has lost ground a far as his net worth goes. Ballmer's claim to fame is mostly related to being lucky enough to have been a roommate with Bill Gates early on. 

Really, copying Apple only goes so far.  At some point you have to do something new and compelling to grow a major tech company. Not even being able to keep your bread-and-butter, slam-dunk, monopoly PC operating system working well is a very bad sign.  

I read...

| Read more »
Jun 03
Are we heading toward a post-PC world?


In what is bound to make Mac users like me a bit uncomfortable, in his interview at the "All Things D" event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the post-PC (that's "personal computer," by the way, not a Windows system) has begun. And I'm sure he feels the iPad is a milestone in this transition.

"PCs are going to be like trucks and are going to be used by fewer and fewer people," Jobs said. "This transition is going to make people uneasy. When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that. I don't know when it’s going to happen, but the transition has essentially begun."

My take: the personal computer era will never end, though it will change and evolve over time. Sure, more devices such as the iPad will be introduced. For some folks, they will replace the traditional computer. As for the computer itself, as I've said on numerous occasions, I think future Macs will increasingly merge features of the iPhone OS with Mac...

| Read more »
Jun 02
Greg's bite: regarding the iTV rumor in iPhone...

by Greg Mills

With bits of information the Mac rumor mill conjures up both interesting and unlikely product ideas. Historically, Apple can be expected to repeat product concepts over time and improve them as technology allows. We can know what Apple has been thinking recently by what it has shown us in the past.

Consider that the Newton was a forerunner of the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Newton was ahead of its time and not supported by the modern parts we see today. In many respects, it is sort of like the helicopter, which was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci 400 years before the internal combustion engine, which was required to actually make it fly. Sometimes ideas are too far ahead of the general development of technology and thus can't be done in their day. But given time ...

To an extent, the Apple TV suffers from the "ahead of it's time" syndrome. Internet pass-through speeds have been a bottleneck, but that's getting better. Remember...

| Read more »
Jun 02
Is a stereovision Mac in our future?

Somewhere down the road we're going to see some revolutionary Macs. In the near future they'll have USB 3.0 support and (please, Steve) Blu-ray playback support. And who knows? This Mac might be one of the first stereovision personal computers.

Jon Peddie Research (http://www.jonpeddie.com), a research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, has just completed an in-depth look at the emerging Stereo 3D (S3D) computer market. (S3D involves playing back 3D images.) The report finds that the S3D market is poised for rapid growth in the immediate future. Close to one million dedicated S3D computers will ship in 2010. That number will grow to 75 million by 2014 as S3D becomes ubiquitous.

Although most computers will be S3D capable due to the GPUs that are in them, not all will be S3D computers because they need a special monitor, glasses, and appropriate content. However, S3D computers will be...

| Read more »
Jun 02
Greg's bite: reading between the lines of Jobs...

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the reports of the Steve Jobs interview at the "All Things D" event and was struck by the blunt truthfulness of the man. Certainly, he had to be very careful about every word he spoke. But it was obvious that his feelings are real about his passion, great products and betrayal. 

The historical dispute arising when Microsoft appropriated the Mac's "look and feel" for Windows 1.0, now over 20 years ago, seem to be repeating itself with Google. Apple is sort of in a Catch 22 situation where it must trust other companies that it needs for core support, only to see the guts of its greatest hits stolen or at least emulated closely enough to hurt Apple and divide the market. The Google Android phone OS is likely to be the strongest competition to the iPhone OS. Palm bit the dust, Windows Mobile is a joke and RIM is only holding its own.

Jobs commented that Apple isn't doing search even though is Google doing smart...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Apple granted design patents for the iPad, iPods,...

Apple has been granted several design patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number D616892 is for the ornamental design of the iPad. The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonthan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satgzer, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number D616863 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod nano and D616864 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod classic. The inventors are the same as those above. Those inventors are also credited with patent D616881 for the MacBook Air.

Patent number D616899 is for the ornamental design of a media device the clip-on style iPod shuffle). The inventors are the same as those above.

Patent number D616886...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Tim Cook's commencement speech: 'I believe...

By Gaurang Donovan

Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook gave a commencement speech as his alma mater Auburn [Georgia] University on 14 May. It received a modicum of media coverage but that is not totally unexpected given how Apple is often covered in the past.

The coverage was hardly on par to what other current public appearances of other much smaller or less successful companies' executive leadership receive at times. But Cook's commencement speech reiterates much of what has been practiced quietly at Apple to achieve such a successful comeback over the last 13 years or so and it does provide me with even more confidence that Apple's leadership team is still very well grounded in what it is trying to achieve. Just keep doing it.

You can view the speech as an iTunes U podcast or YouTube video. 

...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Of SSDs and sticker shock

In my recent review (http://www.macnews.com/2010/05/27/review-owc-extreme-pro-re-ssd-blazingl...) of the OWC Extreme Pro RE SSD [Solid State Drive] I said I loved the drive but "only" gave it an 8-out-of10 rating (I rarely bestow a nine and almost never a 10) because the price is somewhat prohibitive (the 100GB model is US$400). Was I being fair?

As someone who disagreed with my rating pointed out, "if you ever did a processor upgrade in a G3 or G4 machine (or even earlier) wasn't the cost worth it to rev up the machine?" The answer to that is, of course, "yes." And I'd LOVE to have the 2TB hard drive in my iMac replaced with an SSD of similar volume (that is something that will be an affordable option sometime down the road).

So here's a recommendation for...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Greg's bite: the history and future of computer/...

by Greg Mills

Back in the beginning of computers putting information in was hard work as numerous switches had to be thrown a certain way to generate results. The punch cards had to be cut and processed.  Then keyboards were used (about this time IBM screwed up and helped Microsoft take off).

A Zerox research group conceived the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and someone showed it to a fresh face in the crowd who immediately saw the future Mac interface. Foolishly trusting Microsoft to launch needed software that would run on the new Mac computers and to not steal them blind, Steve Jobs showed Gates the graphical interface. At that point Gates was driven to create a graphical interface that worked as well as the new Mac Operating System.

Apple, in time, sued and later settled rather than waste money pursuing Gates and Company. The Apple/Microsoft relationship has had its ups and downs but, seemingly, Apple was long on innovation and Microsoft...

| Read more »
May 28
Greg's bite: Department of Justice looks at the...

By Greg Mills

In the title of this article, I am speaking of the Giant Electronics Firm, not the city by the same nickname. It seems incredible for those of use who took no end of ridicule over the year that we were "one of those": un-PC Apple computer, non-conformists.  

We were told our computers were too expensive and that the end of Apple was in sight. Remember the statement, "I think Apple computers are easy to use, but they don't do anything since there isn't enough software for the platform."

We saw Microsoft deliberately sabotage PC software to not open documents on a Mac. We saw Microsoft dominate the market in both operating systems and business software that was so "standard" it was only by the grace of Gates that Apple survived at all.

Well, a new age has come upon us and the tables are turning. A number of issues caused this to happen. First, despite years of promises and billions of dollars spent on R&D, Vista was...

| Read more »
May 28
Global stagnation to continue in home video...

Hmmm. Could Steve Jobs be right about the future of movies, as well as music, being digital and online? Maybe. According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, the global home video market is poised to see further declines in the years ahead.

Global revenue from sales of DVDs and Blu-ray declined more than 4% in 2009, to US$35.7 billion, and is set for another 2% drop in 2010, according to the research group. At the same time digital distribution channels such as iTunes for home video entertainment aren’t developing fast enough to offset the decline in packaged media formats.

The total packaged media market, including both retail and rental of DVDs and Blu-ray, is projected to decline 3% in 2010, to $53.3 billion and by 12.6%, to $48.1 billion by 2013.

"The future of the home entertainment market is within digital distribution of home video," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media Research at Strategy Analytics. "We...

| Read more »
May 28
Greg's bite: Water over the top of the dam

By Greg Mills

The press is churning out story after story about Apple finally beating Microsoft out of being the top tech company spot, as far as market cap goes. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is only the first of the major indignities that are looming ahead.  

It boils down to this: Apple has launched a series of major hit products that each represent a virtual monopoly in their class, while Ballmer & Company have suffered embarrassing gaffs that have crippled their future and perhaps the PC platform itself. 

Realistically, Microsoft has been cruising for years on their laurels as being the main operating system for all PCs but Apple's. The question for the PC minions of the world is not which operating system to use but rather which version of Windows will you fight with to keep your computer working.

My metaphor about the dam is based upon the problem you have when water goes over the top of an earthen dam and erosion occurs....

| Read more »
May 27
Apple patent is for 'on-the-go shopping list...

A new Apple patent (number 20100082447) for an "on-the-go shopping list" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to handheld electronic devices (think iPads and iPod touches) and, more particularly, to systems and methods for conducting shopping-related transactions with a handheld electronic device.

Systems and methods for providing shopping-related information to a consumer are provided. Embodiments of the system allow a consumer to create an electronic shopping list by scanning products. In some embodiments, shopping-related information may be obtained for items in the shopping list, such as pricing information, product quality, consumer ratings, and other information that may help a consumer to make an informed purchasing decision. Other embodiments allow a consumer to obtain and compare retail prices offered by several retailers for products in the shopping list. Still other embodiments provide a store-wide network that allows a...

| Read more »
May 27
Apple patent involves earphones, headsets

An Apple patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that could hint at a new iPhone headset. Patent number 20100128887 involves detecting the respositioning of an earphone using a microphone and associated action.

The invention relates generally to an earphone. More particularly, this invention relates to detecting the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user.

A system detects the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user, and changes an operation mode of a host coupled to the earphone. Within the earphone is a pressure transducer that detects a pressure change caused by the repositioning of the earphone. A signaling mechanism sends a repositioning detection signal to the host in response to a signal from the pressure transducer indicating the detection of the pressure change. The inventors are Jae H. Lee and Wendell B. Sander.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Earphones (also known as earbuds or...

| Read more »
 
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