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May 11
Apple patents involve senors, computer systems, linked...

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

Patent number 7,714,265 is for an integrated proximity sensor and light sensor. Apparatuses and methods to sense proximity and to detect light. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes an emitter of electromagnetic radiation and a detector of electromagnetic radiation; the detector has a sensor to detect electromagnetic radiation from the emitter when sensing proximity, and to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter when sensing visible light. The emitter may be disabled at least temporarily to allow the detector to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter, such as ambient light. In one implementation, the ambient light is measured by measuring infrared wavelengths. Also, a fence having a non-IR transmissive material disposed between the emitter and the detector to remove electromagnetic radiation...

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May 11
Seeking the right posture using the iPad

Now that it has been "hands on" for a few days with iPad, the issue of posture while using the device comes into play. It is sort of an acknowledgment that how you hold the iPad is a user
issue, coming from the screen orientation lock switch -- which, from what I read, was added or finalized late in the development process.  

While the gravity oriented screen is cool, it you are reading in bed, holding the iPad so that the screen is horizontal is a nice touch. That feature could have been software based from the settings screen, but it would have been a major hassle to lock and unlock the screen when going from a prone position to sitting up.

While iPad is not really heavy, holding it at the right distance from the eyes does get tiring. I find myself propping it up a lot. I invested in a silicone cover that keeps it from sliding when inclined.  The keyboard docking station combo Apple is offering really supports the laptop mode of use. I have found the touch key...

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May 11
A couple of things Apple should fix

Overall, I like my Apple products. However, there are at least two things I'd love to see Apple fix immediately: a) the miserable way of sharing Pages files between an iPad and a Mac, and b) iMovie.

The British term "rubbish" (and some even less complimentary terms) comes to mind when I try to sync documents between iWork on the iPad and Mac. In fact, it's the main reason that I think the iPad is ill suited to anything beyond rudimentary content creation (though it's great for content consumption).

In fact, you can't really sync Pages documents at all. You must manually import and export them from the iPad. Not only is this cumbersome and very "un-Apple-like," but it creates versioning problems.

To export a document from the iPad, you must first open Pages on the iPad, go to the “My Documents” area, choose the document you want to transfer to your Mac and export it in the format of your choosing. Then connect the tablet device to your Mac with the sync cable....

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May 10
Hands off my iPad

Friday morning the FedEx truck pulled into our driveway and set the stage for the turf war over the new iPad to begin. Ironically, later on the same day I had to turn my workhorse MacBook Pro in at the Apple store due to a one pixel wide vertical line that just showed up on the display the other day.

A bit of research indicated it was the dreaded graphics card defect common to some older MacBook Pros. I got in under the three-year deadline for a free repair. As I told the Genius at the Apple store who asked me if I could get along without my laptop for a week, well, I just got my new iPad ....  So here I am, with only my new iPad and iPhone to do my computing for a whole week.

My first impressions are that Apple has another sound hit. The device is impressive and addictive in the extreme. My 10-year-old is one of those kids who has grown up around computers. She talked me into giving her an old iPhone for Christmas with the ploy, "Dad, if I had an iPod touch I wouldn'...

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May 10
Initial 3D TV tests find that images pop -- but there...

There's been a lot of hype surrounding the launch of 3D TV, but is the new technology worth buying right away? I'm dying to buy one (assuming I had the moolah, which I don't).

"Consumer Reports" tested several new sets in its labs -- the first hands-on evaluation outside the manufacturers' facilities -- and found that the sets live up to their advance billing, but the average consumer shouldn't rush out to buy one. The results of the magazine's tests of two Samsung LCD sets and a Panasonic plasma TV with 3D capability are impressive. Full results are published in the June issue on newsstands May 4 and online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org. In a nutshell, the 3D images had excellent depth, color, and high-def details, creating a compelling 3D picture as good as a movie theater.

However, for consumers who are satisfied with their current HDTV and aren't burning to have the latest...

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May 07
Traditional book retailers face trilogy of threats

Today’s reader can “curl up with a good book” in a variety of non-traditional ways -- library books, e-books, or books bought online. All these choices, however, threaten the health of traditional brick-and-mortar book retailers.

The Mintel research firm (http://www.mintel.com) says that e-book options like the iPad and Kindle, the popularity of Amazon.com and even local libraries pose significant threats to traditional book retailers. Online book sites have cornered a significant slice of the market share that once belonged to traditional bookstores from 2007-2009, as they enjoyed a 7% increase in sales at the same time traditional retailers were hit with an almost 10% decrease. This disparity further suggests that bookstore owners must act quickly if they want to maintain the upper hand on the book retail market.

“The lower costs of ordering through the Internet, either for physical books or e-books,...

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May 06
Apple patent is for multidimensional widgets

An Apple patent (number 20100115471) for multidimensional widgets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves, as you might guess, implementations that relate generally to graphical user interface.

Systems, methods, computer-readable mediums, user interfaces and other implementations are disclosed for implementing multidimensional widgets. A multidimensional widget is a three-dimensional object with application surfaces, and each application surface is associated with a widget function. Multidimensional widgets can be modified by adding functions or grouping with other widgets. The inventors are John O. Louch and Imran A. Chaudhri.
Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A hallmark of modern graphical user interfaces is that they allow a large number of graphical objects or items to be displayed on a display screen at the same time. Leading personal computer operating systems, such as Apple Mac OS.RTM., provide user interfaces in...

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May 06
Apple patent involves pan and zoom in video sequences

An Apple patent (number 20100110303) for a look-ahead system and method for pan and zoom detection in video sequences has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to analysis of motion in video sequences and, more particularly, to identifying pan and zoom global motion in video sequences.

The system and method use motion vectors in a reference coordinate system to identify pans and zooms in video sequences. The identification of pans and zooms enables parameter switching for improved encoding in various video standards (e.g., H.264) and improved video retrieval of documentary movies and other video sequences in video databases or other storage devices. The inventors are Adriana Dumitras and Barin G. Haskell.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The analysis of motion information in video sequences has typically addressed two largely non-overlapping applications: video retrieval and video coding. In video retrieval...

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May 06
Apple patent would let devices ID users by their heart...

Forget passwords and fingerprint technology. Apple is eyeing ways in which its devices can identity users by their heart beat. An Apple patent (number 20100113950) for a seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to an electronic device having an integrated sensor for detecting a user's cardiac activity and cardiac electrical signals. The electronic device can include a heart sensor having several leads for detecting a user's cardiac signals. The leads can be coupled to interior surfaces of the electronic device housing to hide the sensor from view, such that electrical signals generated by the user can be transmitted from the user's skin through the electronic device housing to the leads. In some embodiments, the leads can be coupled to pads placed on the exterior of the housing.

The pads and housing can be finished to ensure that the pads are not visibly or haptically distinguishable on the...

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May 06
Apple patents involve power functions, hash functions...

Five Apple patents that only the most tech savvy could love (though I'm sure they're great patents) have appeared at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20100111415 is for computations of power functions using polynomial approximations. Per the patent, a power function is approximated over an applicable data interval with polynomials determined by means of a Chebyshev minimax approximation technique. In some cases, multiple polynomials may be used to approximate the function over respective ranges of the desirable interval, in a piecewise manner. The appropriate polynomial that approximates the power function over the range of interest is derived and stored. When the power function is to be applied to a particular data value, the data value is first evaluated to determine where it lies within the applicable interval. The constants for the polynomial associated with that range of the interval are then retrieved and used...

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May 06
Note to Apple: Blu-ray is catching on

New research from The NPD Group (http://www.npd.com) shows that Blu-ray is, indeed, catching on. Which, it seems to me, shows that Apple is making a mistake in ignoring the technology.

In the home, flat-panel TVs has grown to 64% in 2009, up from 61% in 2009 while the percentage of households with two or more flat-panel televisions remained flat. The broadening penetration of HDTV coupled with lower player prices, however, proved to be a boon for standalone Blu-ray players, which nearly doubled since last year, going from just 6% in 2009 to 11% in 2010. Deep discounting during the 2009 holiday season was one key factor behind this increase.

On a related note, Wi-Fi is becoming a must-have feature across a range of devices, as network connectivity migrates into the living room, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). Digital televisions, Blu...

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May 05
Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and security

Everyone knows that Microsoft products are the main targets of malware and hackers, and Adobe products are catching up in this regard. What's more, some pundits think Apple may be next.

Marc Maiffret, co-founder and chief technical officer of eEye Digital Security, told "InfoWorld" (http://www.infoworld.com/d/security-central/the-security-hole-baton-pass...) that "most people in the Apple world have a false sense of security and an elitism."

"I took some heat recently for saying Apple was way behind Microsoft on security," he says. "Look who they just hired for security -- Window Snyder, who played a lead role in helping Microsoft turn around their security. That shows the company starting to move past the...

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May 05
Opinion: The magic of Apple is hard to replicate

I read with some amusement that Microsoft dropped their tablet concept project within a month of iPad being released. Redmond knew when they had been licked -- which was before the race even started.

A tablet PC running windows is nothing special enough to matter. Even a novel form factor and a touch version of Windows was no match for iPad. The power of the Mac OS X in various modes and the infrastructure of the iTunes store, along with the reputation of Apple hardware, was enough to trump the mediocrity we have come expect from Microsoft. Despite the bravado and mocking of Apple by Balmer and company, one only has to handle an iPad to know it is going to be game changer and the price is right.

Hiring an Apple employee has also been tied, without the desired effect. Look at Palm. Trying to match the iPhone magic has been elusive and getting enough developers to launch apps using the Palm OS has also been impossible to repeat. I think even with the virtually...

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May 04
Apple patents involve digital audio input, video...

Apple patents involving digital audio input, video acquisition and more have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a look at each of them.

Patent number 7,710,294 is for an externally clocked digital audio input, determining a valid clock and muting audio during synchronization. The present invention relates broadly to digital input in a computer device. Specifically, the present invention relates to clock synchronization in a device that supports digital audio input.

Methods and apparatus for determining the existence of an external clock over a digital input port on a computer. In one embodiment, the external clock is validated, and a lock is performed when the clock is valid. Whenever a loss of the lock is detected, and, if a re-lock is likely, the apparatus is muted so that audio artifacts that would otherwise be heard are minimized. The methods and apparatus also provide automatic re-locking to the external clock when a...

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May 04
Floating in middle Tennessee...

So many of you have emailed about how I'm doing with the recent disaster in my neck of the woods, I simply don't have time to write each and every one. But your thoughts are more appreciated than you can imagine. But here's the short version....

The Great Flood of 2010, they're calling it. Nothing great about it. Middle Tennessee got the most rain in history over the weekend and into Monday, and there were floods everywhere. Eleven people died (and maybe more; that's the tally as I write this).

So all things considered I'm lucky. Not happy, but lucky. My basement has 13 inches of water in it. My stationary bike and my Bowflex are ruined. My comic book collection is ruined. And some of my electronics stuff was ruined. In case you think I was nuts for putting all this down there, let me just say in my defense that my abode and home office is located on a HIGH hill and not in a flood plane.

Anyway, as my son Matt and I were rushing to get stuff out of the...

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May 03
TV widgets/, apps alter how folks access Internet...

Most consumer electronics (CE) device manufacturers are introducing software platforms that support widgets -- also called TV applications, reports In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). And this sets the stage for a new market and alters how people will access Internet content -- from news, web-surfing and purchasing, to watching Netflix movies and YouTube.

TV applications are small, self-contained software programs that can be plugged into a web application to access a wide range of content. Due to their broad scope, TV apps are rapidly becoming a ubiquitous product requirement for nearly all web-enabled, consumer electronic devices.

“By 2013, TV applications have the potential to generate over $1.7 billion in annual revenue,” says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. “Our primary research shows consumers already have a moderate interest in TV Widgets. An innovative web-enabled CE device and service from a...

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Apr 30
Should Apple buy Netflix or just crush it?


While Steve Jobs glibly passes the AppleTV device off as a "hobby", he is too smart to have missed the big picture, as broadcast, cable TV and even satellite TV seem to have peaked and are in a slow decline in both customers and revenue. Then you see Blockbuster and countless other smaller video rental places in decline, you have to ask the question, where are the customers going?  DVD disk sales can't be the answer either.  

Digital TV and High Definition TV have made inroads faster than prior TV technology. It was years before VHS penetrated the market and became very common. DVD disks have already peaked and Blu-ray has now begun its reign since it clobbered the other high def. format.  I expect the period Blu-ray is popular to be short, as streaming HD entertainment is going to be the next wave.  The high speed Internet service that is required  to make downloading HDTV programing fast enough to be practical is becoming an expected level or service these days.

...

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Apr 29
A call to action on those Mac OS-less Apple Design...

Okay, I'm still hacked off that Apple is only allowing iPhone and iPad apps in the 2010 Apple Design Awards (http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ada/). Various stories have already been written about this (links at the bottom). Now it's time for a call to action.

The ADAs are designed to recognize apps that demonstrate technical excellence, innovation, technology adoption and more. So why has Apple decided to eliminate Mac products from the annual awards? If the company wants to spotlight the iPhone OS (and, for better or worse, it does) then why not have iPhone OS and Mac OS categories?

Let's do something about it. Let Apple how this decision reflects both poorly on Apple, but on their platforms that they claim they hold most dear. You can contact 'em at:

Public/Media Relations (408) 974-2042
Customer Relations (800) 676-2775
...

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Apr 29
Apple wants its devices to be more aware of lighting...

An Apple patent (number 20100103172) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system and method for rendering ambient light affected appearing imagery based on sensed ambient lighting. In other words, Apple wants its devices to be more "aware" of the lighting conditions around them.

The patent is for a method for rendering ambient light affected appearing imagery on a two-dimensional display screen in dependence on sensed ambient lighting conditions about the display screen is disclosed. The method includes processing, on a microprocessor in control communication with the display screen, data defining sensed ambient lighting conditions about the display screen, and based on said data, determining at least one light source's location relative to the display screen and an intensity of light from that at least one light source at the display screen.

The method then includes rendering an image of a constructed scene on the display screen based on the...

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Apr 29
Apple patent is for disappearing buttons

Apple -- or at least CEO Steve Jobs -- probably won't be happy until we can control our Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads complete by brain waves. A new patent (20200103116) is for a disappearing button or slider and shows Apple's continued war to eliminate buttons on its devices.

An input device is disclosed. The input is a deflection based capacitive sensing input. Deflection of a metal fame of the input device causes a change in capacitance that is used to control a function of an electrical device. The input appears invisible because it is made of the same material as the housing it is contained in. Invisible backlit holes may make the input selectively visible or invisible to the user. The inventors are Omar S. Leung and David T. Amm.

Here's Apple's summary and background of the invention: "The present invention relates generally to input devices and device display systems, and more particularly to invisible input systems and device display systems. The input...

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Apr 28
Little Mac love shown in WWDC announcement

If you were hoping for a bit of love for the Mac platform whenever Apple got around to announcing the 2010 Worldwide Developer Conference -- as it finally did this week -- you're doubtless disappointed.

There was no mention of Mac OS X 10.7 in the official announcement. Instead, it promised that "this year’s WWDC offers developers in-depth sessions and hands-on working labs to learn more about iPhone OS 4." What's more, the press release says that "WWDC provides a unique opportunity for developers to work side-by-side with Apple engineers and interface designers to make their iPhone and iPad apps even better.”

That's a bit of a dissing for the Mac platform. And to make matters worse, there's no mention of Mac apps being included in the annual Apple Design Award winners. Apple's announcement says that "there will be five iPad and five iPhone Apple Design Award winners announced at WWDC 2010."

That's a stupid move. Mac developers are some of Apple's most...

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Apr 27
Apple patents involve graphics resources, antennas

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

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

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

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Apr 26
Go Blu-ray; it adds additional format enhancements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 23
Men with iPhones are more attractive to women

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 22
Apple patents range from audio playback to a...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 19
Higher ed students want more support for using...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 15
USB 3.0 or Light Peak?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 14
Apple, cast your iPhone eyes toward China

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

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

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

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

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Apr 14
The Mac is still the center of the digital lifestyle/...

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

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

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

In 2008,...

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Apr 13
Apple wants to facilitate hot unpluggable devices

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

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

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Apr 13
Apple patents range from wall portions to glyph...

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

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

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Apr 13
Apple wins patent for Smart Garment

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

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

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

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

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Apr 13
Apple, cast your iPhone eyes toward China

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

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

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

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

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Apr 12
Online market for digital goods to grow with no end in...

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

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

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

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Apr 09
Opinion: Next gen, touchscreen Macs running Mac OS X/...

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

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

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

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

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Apr 08
Apple patents range from on-chip frame buffer to email...

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

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

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Apr 08
Is Apple planning a mini tower?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 08
Apple planning smaller iPad for 2011?

Take this one with a grain of salt, but "DigiTimes" (http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20100407PD226.html) says Apple is reportedly scheduling a smaller 5- to 7-inch version of the iPad that is expected to launch as soon as the first quarter of 2011, according to research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo.

Kuo, citing talks with upstream component sources, said Apple's smaller-size iPad will be priced below US$400 and will target the highly-portable mobile device market and consumers that focus mainly on reading and do not have a high demand for text input. He may be right, but that seems counter-productive to me, giving the various uses of the iPad.

| Read more »
Apr 08
Are optical disks becoming obsolete?

Earlier this month, Mac guru Ted Landau blogged (http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/who_needs_an_optical_drive_anymor...) that he doesn't need an optical drive anymore. That's an interesting premise, but, unlike Ted, I don't think I'm ready to take that plunge.

Ted says that broadband Internet connections, the iTunes Store, the Apple TV, the iPad and such technologies have made it possible for him to do all the things he once needed an optical disk for (installing new software, playing movie and music disks, burning backup data, etc.) without the physical media.

"I estimate that I now use optical drives an average of once a month," he writes. "Even in these instances, my use is primarily for one-time transfers of data from the disc to my Mac. I expect this average to continue to...

| Read more »
Apr 07
We can't let technology kill our ability to truly...

We've got our Macs, iPhones, iPods and, now, our iPads. That's all well and good, but we still have to be careful or we lose our ability to communicate. Admittedly, that sounds like a contradiction.

However, a new report was published this week by high tech entertainment firm Bowen Research, which has studied high technology products since 1992.  The study, "Fragmentation of the Modern Mind" (http://www.fragmentationofthemodernmind.com), revealed that American’s are slowly losing the ability to communicate and connect with each other -- and technology seems to be the main cause. Among the key findings of the study:

° 42% of people think others are talking faster compared to recent years.

° 49% think other people interrupt more in conversation, compared to recent years.

° 68% think we are more rude.

° 60% think we are less kindly.

... | Read more »
Apr 06
Has Apple bought a company called Intrinsity?

There are rumors that Apple has acquired a chip company called Intrinsity. And the company's web site (http://www.intrinsity.com/) is currently down for “scheduled maintenance.”

Intrinsity specializes in ARM processors. In fact, according to "engadget" (http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/03/is-intrinsity-apples-latest-chipmaker...), there's "speculation that Intrinsity may have actually contributed as much or more to the A4 processor in the iPad than P.A. Semi has."

Intrinsity is a privately-held Austin, Texas based fabless semiconductor company. It was founded in 1997 as EVSX and changed its name to Intrinsity in 2000. It has around 100 employees and supplies tools and services.

| Read more »
 
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