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May 02
Notes on the digital lifestyle...

Arbitron (ARB) and Edison Research released a report recently that bodes well for the future of the iPhone and iPad, as well as Apple in general.

ARB and Edison measured affinity for dozens of products and services, and the iPhone was the clear leader with 66% of its users saying they “love it” (on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “hate it” and 5 is “love it”). The next highest platform was the iPad, with 53% saying they “love” their device.

That said, there's a big opportunity for the Apple in the living room, especially if it beefs up the Apple TV. When given the choice between having to theoretically give up their non-iPhone smartphone or give up TV, nearly six in 10 (58%) non-iPhone smartphone owners would rather eliminate TV from their lives.

The study used a random sample of 2,020 respondents, 12 years of age and older, culled via random digit dialing and from Arbitron Fall 2010 diary keepers. Telephone interviews, which included both landlines and mobile...

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May 02
The Northern Spy: The Good, the Quick and the Big

By Rick Sutcliffe

Apple bids fair to take over the electronic world as iSteve's little Cupertino company doubles revenues year over year, pushes profits to heights not previously imagined, and bids to continue on this path indefinitely.

As previously predicted in this space, many of the purchasers of iProducts are now buying Macs as well, ensuring a growing dominance in that space as more and more people come to realize that it's better to use a real operating system rather than a cheap, buggy knockoff. Eventually business will "get" it too, and when that tide turns, the whole industry will reach a cusp.
Perhaps this past quarter offered a defining moment of sorts, as Apple's profit surpassed that of MS for the first time since the early nineties (by several hundred million, and no looking back). Given that Apple is a relatively high-cost hardware operation, and MS an extremely low marginal cost software house, this is a truly...

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Apr 29
Greg's Bite: RIM stock falls over PlayBook

By Greg Mills

As I have blogged for some time now, the poorly designed RIM PlayBook is tanking. RIM stock dumped 11% of its value after the market closed yesterday.  

RIM has just reported even worse PlayBook launch sales than hoped for; sales that were projected to be in the range of 13 million the first quarter may be way too optimistic. RIM, according to PlayBook teardown parts pricing, ought to make a profit if they could just sell some, but the company seems to be having a hard time convincing even the BlacKBerry faithful they need one.  

As avid a BlackBerry fan as Obama is, he carries an iPad. There has to be a good reason to buy an US$500 electronic toy, and no one has a clue as to what that reason might be to buy RIM's lame slate computer. When you have to tether it to a BlackBerry to get email working, contacts working and other useful apps operating and AT&T won't support the "bridge" app required, PlayBook is...

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Apr 29
Macs doing well in education, but still have room for...

Apple does exceedingly well in the education market, but there's still room for growth, as shown by the "Academic Library Computer Technology Benchmarks" from Research and Markets(http://www.researchandmarkets.com), which looks at the computer use and purchasing plans of academic libraries worldwide.

According to the study, the mean number of personal computers purchased in the 2010-11 academic year by the colleges in the sample was 18.6. Approximately 10.06% of planned acquisitions were for Macs -- less than 1% for community colleges but more than 20% for research universities. The libraries in the sample had a mean stock of only 6.36 dual boot computers that can run both the Mac and Windows operating systems.

Over 10% of planned purchases is substantial, considering Apple has just under 10% personal computer market share in the US and under 5% worldwide. But with the "halo...

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Apr 28
Apple working on fitness app

A new Apple patent (number 20110098156) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on a new fitness app.

The patent is entitled "Systems and Methods for Accessing Personalized Fitness Services Using a Portable Electronic Device." It's directed to systems and methods for accessing personalized fitness services through an integrated application available to a portable electronic device.

Apple says the integrated application can provide a full fitness center experience by introducing potential new customer to a fitness center and then motivating them to return to the fitness center as active members. For example, the integrated application can provide functions to introduce new customers to a fitness center, can provide functions to motivate customers to join and actively visit the fitness center, can provide in-gym motivation, and can provide post-workout motivation. Stanley Carl Ng and Michael Hailey are the inventors.

Here's Apple's...

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Apr 28
Apple patent is for a menuing structure for media...

Apple patent (number 20110099519) for a menuing structure for media content has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves the Apple TV and its on-screen menus and its interaction with Macs on a local network.

According to the patent, methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus for causing a computer system such as a media device to perform operations may include receiving input from the user selecting a media type category, identifying media content items within the selected media category that the user has previously selected for presentation, prioritizing the identified media content items based on a predetermined set of rules, and presenting to the user a menu of at least some of the identified media content items in an order based on a result of the prioritization. The inventors are Jeffrey Ma, Elbert D. Chen, Jeffrey Robbin, Calin Pacurariu, William Martin Bachman and James A. Young.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the...

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Apr 28
Greg's bite: Apple iOS tracking storm blows out

Yesterday Apple released a 10 point information sheet and did an interview that addressed a lot of concerns iOS users had regarding location logs. It turns out that while the outrage has largely melted away with rational explanations for what Apple was doing, they did admit there were "bugs" in the data logging portion of the iOS, that are going to be fixed soon. Apple's explanation mitigates my concerns, but doesn't reassure me that mobile data is as secure as it ought to be.   

I want to apologize to Apple, Steve Jobs and any readers who were unduly alarmed by my reporting of material regarding this subject that I deemed reliable that turns out to be technically a bit off the mark.  I was alarmed myself when I downloaded the tracker app and ran it on my MacBook Pro.  The map of the Kansas City area that popped up showing the contents of the location log stored on my laptop from iPhone sync data was startlingly revealing about my locations during the previous year.  

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Apr 28
Apple, take a hint from Amazon's Kindle's...

Apple should take a hint from Amazon's Kindle Library Lending and implement such a capability for its iBook/iBookstore app/technology for iOS devices.

The Kindle Lending Library is a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. It will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps (http://www.amazon.com/kindle).

Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android device, Blackberry, Windows phone, Windows PC or a Mac. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer’s annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.

Amazon is working with OverDrive, a provider of digital content solutions for...

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Apr 28
Study finds consumers feel stuck with obsolete...

By Andrew Eisner

If you could upgrade your phone right now without paying a penalty, would you go ahead and get that new iPhone or Android smartphone? If you answered yes, you wouldn't be alone, in fact Retrevo recently discovered that a large number of U.S. phone owners say their phone is either currently out of date or will be soon. The fact is, consumers are justified in feeling their phones are obsolete and frustrated by the fact that they can't upgrade them more frequently than every two years.

Manufacturers are flooding the market with new phones at a very fast rate. Retrevo counted more than 120 new smartphones from major vendors over the course of about a year. The problem is that most carriers require you to hold onto a phone for two years before you can upgrade which has created a condition where new phones appear much faster than consumers are allowed to buy them.

Retrevo's Technology Life Cycle analysis engine looked at smartphones...

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Apr 27
Greg's bite: Apple explains the tracking...

By Greg Mills

Sort of an admission and a defense rolled up into one page... 

1. Apple denies ever tracking iPhone or iPads but the explanation doesn't mention the detailed location files with timestamps reported by
some researchers.  Apple claims the file amounts to sort of a map of cell towers and WiFi sources.  More information on the details of the Location logs needs to be given.

2. Users are confused?  Thanks a lot Apple, I will try not to hold my iPhone or iPad wrong.  

3. This answer does not explain GPS coordinates with time stamps found by some researchers.

4. Reducing both the size of the location cache and reducing the length of time it is held are good moves that fulfill privacy demands of uses.

5. The issue isn't as much Apple knowing who the data came from as someone accessing your personal location data without your consent and knowing who's device they are downloading the location information from....

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Apr 27
Are the MacBook's days numbered?

A forum at MacObserver (http://macte.ch/iEa7D) ponders whether the MacBook's days are numbered. It's an interesting discussion -- and I think the consumer portable's days are indeed numbered.

With prices dropping (a little) on the MacBook Air, it could serve as a replacement in some cases for the MacBook, especially if Apple were to offer steep educational discounts. Of course, Apple could introduce an Air with a traditional hard drive instead of a pricey solid state drive, but that's almost certainly not going to happen.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro could also be touted as a replacement for the MacBook Air. The entry-level MB Pro costs US$1,199, which is only 200 bucks more than the MacBook (and that's not figuring in educational discounts). Of course, 200 bucks is a lot of money for students and schools. Apple could probably trim some off the price of a MB Pro by introducing a smaller hard drive -- say,...

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Apr 26
Apple patent looks at reducing LCD display problems

A new Apple patent (number ) at the US Patent & Trademark Office indicates that Apple has perhaps at least considered making a television set, as some folks are predicting. Of course, the patent for "positioning a first surface in a pre-determined position relative to a second surface," can also pertains to an iMac, a Cinema Display, even laptops.

The patent is for a method and an apparatus for positioning a first device in relation to a second device. An optical signal from a first device is sent to a second device. A reflection of the optical signal from the second device is received. A position of one of the devices relative to the other device is adjusted based upon the reflection. Gabriel G. Marcu is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Innovations in the computer display area have resulted in dramatic improvements of products that are used for displaying computer input and output. Monitors attached to computers have...

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Apr 26
Greg's bite: boycott Apple's location...

By Greg Mills

Since writing my somewhat blistering statement on Apple's iOS tracking issue on Monday, the tech press and general press have continued to pontificate wildly on the subject. Someone even claimed to have gotten an email from sjobs@mac.com denying Apple is tracking anyone, but that Android really does actually track people.  

I take sjobs@mac.com rumors with the same skepticism as little green men landing in Washington DC. Perhaps the little green men could be persuaded to kidnap the US Congress should they land in DC.  

In case there is some twisted dialect of the English language (no offense to Southerners with their distinctive speech impediments) where continuously electronically locating someone and creating a secret year long record of where they were, complete with down to the second dated time stamps isn't "tracking people." Let me be...

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Apr 26
How about an iMac with a retina display?


High resolution artwork discovered in the latest build of Mac OS X Lion indicates that Apple could be planning to bring a Retina display to the Mac. If true wouldn't that make a great feature for the next rev of the iMac.

Preview 2 of Lion features icons in sizes up to 1024×1024, and a desktop background at a resolution of 3200×3200. According to "MacRumors" (http://www.macrumors.com), Apple has reportedly built in support for what it calls “HiDPI display modes." These HiDPI modes allow developers to supply 2x-enlarged images to support double-high resolution displays. Like the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, this means that user interface elements will remain the same size, but everything will be twice the resolution and therefore twice as detailed, says "MacRumors."

Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution....

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Apr 26
Apple wins patents for sales system, iPhones, iPods

Apple has won several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving its retail stores' sales system, iPhones and iPods.

Patent number 7933807 is for a stored order system for electronic commerce. In other words, it's for the payment system used in Apple retail stores. Per the patent, a stored order system is used with a shopping cart application for an electronic commerce site. The items of each stored order are saved together, which is an advantage when a main item and accessories are combined in an order. Additionally, a stored order can be emailed to another person. The email message allows the recipient to purchase the items of the stored order. The inventors are Eduardo Cue, Daniel Marusich, Glenn D. Epis and Judy D. Halchin.

Patent number 7933123 involves a portable electronic design with two-piece housing -- the design of the iPhone and iPod touch. Portable electronic devices are provided. Each device may be formed...

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Apr 25
Greg's bite: Location iNsecure, a Rotten Apple...

By Greg Mills

Steve Jobs is the new evil Big Brother. I would like to retract my statement posted November 21, 2010: "Jobs and Apple gone evil? Not so." Remember the iconic Apple commercial of the woman running down the aisle and throwing a hammer at the theater screen picture of big brother (as in the Orwellian novel "1984")?   The evil dictator's image was shattered and we all cheered. Could Steve Job's face become the modern big brother image? This sort of location tracking that came to light last week, previously reserved for the most dangerous criminals has been applied to us all by Apple, and for what? So that Apple could sell stinking pizzas!?

As news of the audaciousness of Apple secretly tracking and recording the detailed movements of everyone who innocently purchased the hugely popular iPhone and iPad sinks in, the question of why Apple did it comes to mind.  While some still want to give Apple the benefit...

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Apr 25
An insanely great Apple iCar

By Andrew Eisner

While we were working on our report on future Apple products we started to wonder what an official Apple car might look like.

Of course, the car would be simple and fun to operate and incorporate all those benefits and limitations of being part of the Apple family but who knows if something like this could ever get beyond the drawing board. Unfortunately, we're pretty sure we'll never see a real iCar but that didn't stop us from dreaming up a list of features we think we could see in a Steve Job- inspired incredible, amazingly beautiful, revolutionary transportation device.

Drivers don't need more than one button

There will only be one button used to make the car run. The big question will be whether the button is used to make the car go, or make it stop?

A patent is pending on a new car UI

Other functions in the car will be controlled by swiping and tapping somewhere on...

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Apr 25
3D Blu-ray disc popularity to explode

It's been a while since I took the time to lament the lack of Blu-ray (which Steve Jobs has called a "bag of hurt") on the Mac. So it's time for another lamentation with good news of sales on the Blu-ray front.

But IHS Screen Digest says 3D technology is about to find a real foothold among fans of Blu-ray discs. Some 3.2 million homes this year will have the equipment needed to watch Blu-ray discs in 3D. That a 305% increase over last year.

The 3D discs can be played on Sony's PlayStation 3 consoles as well as 3D-enabled Blu-ray players. Studios will release about 65 titles on 3D Blu-ray this year, IHS says. That total will include 15 from Disney such as "Tron," "Beauty And The Beast" and "The Lion King."

As a result, the research firm predicts that US consumers will spend US$160.8 million this year on discs that provide 3D images to 3D-enabled TV sets. IHS figures that consumers will buy 5.7 million 3D discs at an average of $28.33 a pop. That contrasts with...

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Apr 22
Greg's bite: Apple iNSECURE for business use

By Greg Mills

This is important news, Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad are not suitable for business use.

While Apple has been pushing for respect from the business community due to increased security features found on Mac computers, iPhone and iPad, it seems they were at the same time secretly gathering location data from unsuspecting users. Apple intentionally created a permanent cache on iPhones and iPad that records its users locations with date stamps.  

This cache is persistently and insecurely backed up on the computer used to sync with the iOS device. This makes both iOS devices absolutely unsuitable for business use due to "location record insecurity."   

On Thursday, CNN broke the story on network TV regarding the surprising intentional insecurity of the Apple infrastructure regarding stored location information. This data was gathered without users opting in and without any way to...

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Apr 22
Dell and Intel are right: the computer is far from...

Here are some words you probably won't hear often from me: I agree with Dell. Let me explain.

In February 2011, Dell and Intel commissioned Forrester Consulting to leverage its Forrsights Workforce Employee survey along with supplemental customer survey analysis to determine IT decision-makers' adoption plans for tablets in the enterprise. Forrester discovered that notebooks, desktops and smartphones were found to be “must-have” devices, while tablets, slates, and netbooks were “nice-to-have” technologies.

The study says tablets can bring new benefits to a work environment, such as increased productivity, flexibility and mobility, but they also bring with them security and management challenges. They can replace paper-based systems and introduce new productivity places, but this only makes them a companion device, not a replacement for existing computers, according to the study, which is a position I've espoused for a long time.

In the Virtual Era, where we're...

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Apr 21
iOS security issue giving Apple a big, black eye

Apple once blasted Big Brother. Now some folks think it's becoming Big Brother with concerns over the company's "spying" features in iOS 4, a matter that's giving the company a big black eye. Maybe two.

Security researchers at Privacy International (https://www.privacyinternational.org) says that iOS 4 keeps track of where you go and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronized, according to "The Guardian" (http://macte.ch/RcpCR).

Like many others, US Senator Al Franken isn't happy with the situation, which he says raises "serious privacy concerns." He's sent a letter -- which you can read in its entirety at...

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Apr 21
Apple working on portable device covers with...

Think the Smart Cover for the iPad 2 is intelligent? Just wait. Apple is working on follow-up devices that may reach the genius level. An Apple patent (number 20110090626) for a cover for a portable electronic device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, the cover can include at least one electrical component. For example, in one embodiment, an electrical component can be embedded in the cover. When the cover is placed on or mated with the portable electronic device, the electrical component embedded in the cover is able to interact with electrical circuitry of the portable electronic device. Advantageously, the cover can not only provide a protective and/or ornamental covering for the portable electronic device but can also augment the electrical capabilities of the portable electronic device. The inventors are Quin C. Hoellwarth and Brett Gregory Alten.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Typically, the surfaces...

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Apr 21
Greg's bite: iOS 4 tracks your every move

By Greg Mills

The notion of privacy is a right only inferred by the Constitution of the Untied States rather than being a specifically enumerated right, such as those rights mentioned in the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion is an example of an enumerated right.  

The courts have found that an inherent "expectation of privacy" in most situations exists for us all. Without a warrant the government may not search our homes or dig into our private papers, for example. Little did I suspect the iPhone and iPad I carry most of the time represent an incredible potential invasion of my privacy.

Apple has gone on record as supporting the right of privacy for users of Apple devices. Steve Jobs has publicly stated that tracking users of web browsers without them "opting in" for such tracking is wrong. I agree. 

Recently, it was announced that the Apple Safari web browser under Mac OS Lion would have a "do not track" preference...

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Apr 21
Apple patent is for an electronic sighting compass

An Apple patent (number 20110090244) for an electronic sighting compass has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates to a portable electronic device -- iPhones, no doubt, as well as, perhaps, iPod touches and iPads -- having a compass function and, more particularly, to a device wherein the compass function is integrated with a camera function to provide an electronic sighting compass.

Per the patent, a portable electronic device provides a compass bearing display juxtaposed with or superimposed on a camera viewfinder display. The device includes an image sensor and an electronic compass. When the device is held with the image sensor pointed in a generally horizontal direction, the displayed viewfinder image from the image sensor is combined with a graphic indicating a compass bearing corresponding to the imaging axis of the image sensor. The display may be presented as a linear scale to indicate off-axis headings as well. Achim Pantfoerder is...

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Apr 21
Mac beats the growth of PC industry overall -- again

Though iPad sales were less than anticipated and iPod sales were (as expected) down, Apple had a bang-up fiscal 2011 second quarter with great Mac and iPhone sales. So how did I do on my predictions? Let's see...

What I predicted:

iPhone unit sales: 17.7 million
iPod unit sales: 10.3 million
Mac unit sales: 3.7 million
iPad unit sales: 7.5 million
Revenue: $24 billion
EPS: $5.90

The real results:

iPhone unit sales: 18.65 million
iPod unit sales: 9.02 million
Mac unit sales: 3.76 million
iPad unit sales: 4.69 million
Revenue: $24.67 billion
EPS: $6.40

The Mac has been beating the overall PC industry in terms of growth for 20 consecutive quarters. But, as noted by (http://www.asymco.com) -- a site that offers "curated market intelligence" -- if you count the iPad too, the difference is astounding.

The bottom line is...

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Apr 21
Apple granted 'unibody' design patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110088838) for self fixturing assembly techniques used in creating the "unibody" design of many Macs, including the portable line.

A process, apparatus, and system for joining at least two work pieces together using at least two adhesives each having substantially different cure times. A first adhesive having a first cure time is used to form a first bond between the two workpieces, the first adhesive having a first cure time.

A second adhesive having a second cure time, the second cure time being substantially shorter than the first cure time is used to form a fixturing bond. The fixturing bond maintaining the first and second workpieces in position prior to the first adhesive curing. The inventors are Peter M. Thompson, Martin Adamcyk, Timothy G. Van Vorhis, Arthur J. Lucchesi, Thomas A. Moore and Matthew B. Morris.

Here's Apple's summary of the patent: The outward appearance of a portable computing device,...

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Apr 21
Great companies, lousy stocks

By Bill Gunderson
of Gunderson Capital Management (http://www.PWstreet.com)

I’m selling my book on-line. Thanks to Google AdWords, they are flying through cyberspace.

Does that mean I am telling my clients to rush out and buy Google?

Not a chance.

Johnson & Johnson make some of the most trusted health care products in the world. Surely there is room in my list of 157 Best Stocks Now for such an important part of our national life. No. Not if you want to make money.

I’m using Microsoft products to write, send and read this article. Don’t even think about putting this in your portfolio.

These are all good companies. Great companies. But lousy stocks. Let’s see why.

When Google went public seven years ago, it made a lot of people a lot of money. When the company founders told Wall Street analysts they were not going to play the quarterly...

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Apr 20
Greg's bite: RIM's PlayBook teardown

By Greg Mills

As with most any piece of new electronic hardware, the iFixit site sends someone to stand in line to scoop up one unit for immediate teardown. They meticulously pry the darn thing open and prepare a parts list of the innards.  

They estimate the cost to assemble the device and what the parts list amounts to. Then they post pictures and cost to manufacture the new item for all the world to see (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/BlackBerry-PlayBook-Teardown/5265/1).

As it turns out PlayBook is pretty well constructed and has four speakers, two cameras and pretty good memory and processors. Today at 3 pm (Eastern) iFixit will release their estimated cost to manufacture the PlayBook. They are working to identify all the chips and parts used to estimate a likely cost to RIM for each...

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Apr 20
My predictions for Apple's financial announcements

Apple will announce its fiscal year 2011 second quarter results this afternoon. As always, I'm offering my predictions on what to expect.

For the quarter, analysts are predicting net earnings of US$5.35 per share on revenue of $23.27 billion, above Apple's guidance of $4.90 profit per share on $22 billion of revenue. Apple's year-ago results for the second fiscal quarter of 2010 included net earnings of $3.33 per share on revenue of $13.50 billion. Here's my forecast:

iPhone unit sales: 17.7 million
iPod unit sales: 10.3 million
Mac unit sales: 3.7 million
iPad unit sales: 7.5 million
Revenue: $24 billion
EPS: $5.90

Tune in later today to see how I did...

-- Dennis Sellers

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Apr 19
Apple patents relate to Apple TV, iTunes, iTV

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Apple TV (referred to as the iTV in the patents) and iTunes. They could also relate to the rumored HDTV Apple is working on, if you buy into those rumors.

Patent number 7930650 is for an user interface with menu abstractions and content abstractions. Per the patent media menu items are generated within a media interface environment. Media menu item abstractions are generated, one of the media menu item abstractions arranged in a foreground position, and one or more of the media menu item abstractions arranged in background positions in the media interface environment. Selection of a media menu items transitions to a corresponding content menu interface. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Claire Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu, Eric Taylor Seymour, Jeff Robbin and Thomas Micheal Madden.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media devices, such as...

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Apr 19
Greg's bite: Apple sues and gets sued again

By Greg Mills

Anyone who reads a lot about Apple and the tech world run into articles regarding lawsuits over various patents, trademarks and other legal issues between the major tech players. One of the boiler plate lines in standard incorporations papers is the line that the new corporations can "sue and be sued." As a legal "person" corporations can be sued for the things they do or fail to do, especially performing or not preforming contractual duties. Corporations can also own real property and "intellectual property".  

Intellectual property amounts to ideas that are protected by law, such as patented inventions, copyrights, trademarks and the like. To understand the current legal bluster from Apple, one needs to recall the history of the company and the long running and bitter battle Apple fought with Microsoft over the look and feel of the Mac OS, which Bill Gates famously "used" to create Windows 1.   

... | Read more »
Apr 19
eBooks enjoy triple digital percentage growth in...

In what has to be good news for Apple and its iBookstore, the February 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers, shows that eBooks enjoyed triple digital percentage growth (202.3%) in February 2011 compared to February 2010.

The report, produced by the trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, tracks monthly and year-to-date publishers’ net sales revenue in all categories of commercial, education, professional and scholarly books and journals. For February 2011, eBooks ranked as the number one format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children’s/Young Adult Hardcover, Children’s/Young Adult Paperback).

This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday eBook buying, or “loading,” by consumers who received eReader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of eReaders introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of...

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Apr 19
Apple wins iPhone, iPod touch patents

Apple has been granted three patents relating to the iPhone and iPod touch by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 7928965 is for a touch screen RFID tag reader. The efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry is disclosed. The RFID antenna can be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel can now additionally function as an RFID transponder. No separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary.

Loops (single or multiple) forming the loop antenna of the RFID circuit (for either reader or tag applications) can be formed from metal on the same layer as metal traces formed in the borders of a substrate. Forming loops from metal on the same layer as the metal traces are advantageous in that the loops can be formed during the same processing step as the metal traces, without requiring a separate metal layer. The inventors are Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt and Steve Porter Hotelling.

Patent...

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Apr 18
Greg's bite: RIM PlayBook pre-flops; Android...

By Greg Mills

RIM's PlayBook is badly flawed. As I have blogged in this space for some time now, RIM's PlayBook appears to be fatally flawed in a number of ways, coming out of the gate. The tech world, having become accustomed to vaporware from Microsoft that never arrives as advertised, is bracing for delays in RIM actually launching critical software for the half-baked PlayBook platform.

RIM thinks the BlackBerry faithful will buy PlayBook despite notable deficiencies such as no email client, GPS or radio versions of the tablet. Just about all the functions promised are not ready to launch with the hardware. This promises to be a "shoot your own foot" sort of product that might actually eclipse Microsoft's Kin phone. Did you know Kin phones won't run Windows Mobile 7?

With much fanfare RIM recently announced that the PlayBook platform would support Android apps running on a promised but non-existing Android run-time app. When...

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Apr 18
New study shows why kids are fat -- and need '...

Examining a new study by Ipsos OTX (http://www.ipsos-na.com) -- which looks at the media habits and technology usage of preschoolers and those in grades 6-12 -- makes it obvious why so many of the kids in the US are fat and in trouble.

Kids now spend 5.2 hours on average a day engaged with media. That compares to 4.8 hours two years ago. However, the growth isn't with computers, but with video games. Over five hours? That's way too much. Kids need to unplug and be outside playing and reading. I love my electronic gadgets, but there's more to life than my Mac and iPad ...

Speaking of which, currently, 10% of parents with kids 6-12 own an iPad, and 27% plan to buy one in the next year. Thirty-five percent expect to buy a tablet computer in the next year.

Ownership of connected/mobile and next-gen devices is up in households with kids (laptops, Blu-ray players, handheld gaming devices, gaming...

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Apr 15
An Apple smart TV could arrive sooner rather than...

I've repeatedly said I don't think Apple will release an Apple-branded television. Several other pundits disagree. In fact, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White thinks we might even see the company launch a "smart TV" this year.

In a note to clients -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- he says Ticonderoga research "suggests this smart TV would go well beyond the miniature $99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers." He says the company appears to be "moving down this pace at a faster pace than the market expected."

"The combination of Apple's powerful ecosystem, industrial design savvy, powerful brand and ability to reinvent product categories could make Apple a powerful force in the TV world over the next few years," White writes.

Meanwhile, the Morgan Stanley research group...

| Read more »
Apr 14
Greg's bite: blame Apple's iPad, PC sales...

By Greg Mills

As I scan the news for interesting information, sometimes stories just jump out at me. I particularly notice when a well known figure is proven dead wrong.  Some time back, Steve Ballmer stated in an interview that tablet computers were just another PC, dismissing the impending threat to the Windows PC OS. monopoly.   

(June 3, 2010) "Nothing people are doing on a PC is going to get less relevant", declared Ballmer," though some things will move to alternative devices. But many people will prefer a general purpose device to a lot of individual devices."

He said, "People will continue to want general-purpose devices (such as PCs) as well as devices they can carry in their pockets. But devices like the new tablets really are personal computers, just in new form factors."

The dismissive attitude that; "tablets are just a PC" is the perceptional problem Microsoft has had in not supplying the PC industry with a...

| Read more »
Apr 14
You gotta love Comcast (not)

Sometimes dealing with Comcast makes me want to pull my hair out. Unfortunately, it's the only game in town -- or at least my neck of the woods -- for high-speed Internet connectivity.

I've already ditched Comcast's cable TV service and went with Dish Network as the Big C kept jacking the television portion of my bill up month after month. But I still have Internet and phone service through Comcast.

Recently, the company contacted me, telling me that my current modem/router wasn't allowing me to access my Internet connection at its fastest speed. "Would I like to receive a self-installable, new high speed modem and new router?" they asked.

Naturally, I said yes. The hardware arrived, I connected everything and activated the new set-up. Or tried to activate it. Comcast's online set-up never "took" despite my repeated attempts to make it work. It would accept my account info, then simply stall out when the activation process started. I was offered the opportunity to...

| Read more »
Apr 14
Apple patents involves backup/restore, radio...

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

Patent number 20110087976 is for application-based backup/restore of electronic information. One method includes receiving, while a current view of an application is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting a history view associated with the current view of the application. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view of the application, the earlier version including a first element.

A second user input is received while the history view is displayed. The second user input requesting that the current view of the application be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element. The current view of the application is modified in response to the second user input...

| Read more »
Apr 13
Is Apple planning to reinvent TV?

Apple may be planning to reinvent TV if a new report (http://macte.ch/RwOTV) by research firm Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek is on target. Reinventing TV would be a MAJOR undertaking, but if any company could, it would be Apple, which turned the music world upside down.

Misek predicts that Apple is preparing a cloud-based video service that could go well beyond what the current Apple TV already offers. And, in fact, would challenge services such as Netflix and even the cable/satellite TV companies.

I've said before that I'd love to have an a la carte service in which I could pay for the TV programs and/or channels I want to watch rather than be forced to sign up for "bundles" of stations. Could Apple finally make it happen?

The "GigaOm" (http://macte.ch/EpmBJ) site says that all Apple has to do to make a service...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Apple working on making user accounts portable

Apple is working on ways to make your user account truly portable, per a patent (number 7925712) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to multi-user computer systems and, more particularly, user account management for multi-user computer systems.

Improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems are disclosed in the patent. A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, thereby rendering the user account portable. The multi-user computer system, e.g., through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user...

| Read more »
Apr 12
iPads making in-roads into the business market

iPads are making in-roads into the business market. They may also be opening a door for the MacBook Air to "sneak in."

A total of 8.87 million tablet computers are being used by US SMBs [small to medium sized businesses], Techaisle's survey (http://www.techaisle.com) of 1,356 SMBs reveals. It is estimated that slightly over 50% have been purchased by consumers and used for business.

Reflecting its strong consumer roots, the iPad dominates among very small businesses; however, Android is making inroads among larger SBs and MBs. Overall, 64% of SMBs are single OS adopters.

Approximately 71% of SMBs are using tablets as an additional device rather than replacements -- which, I've long contended, is the long term future of the tablet computer. Of the SMBs who plan to buy a tablet in the next 12 months, 77% are repeat buyers. While most tablet purchases are intended to be add-ons to existing...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Apple wins gesture-detecting patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7924271) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for detecting gestures on multi-event sensitive devices. The method can include detecting gestures on or above a multi-event sensor panel and performing an action associated with detected gestures.

Such action can include activating or changing a state of one or more GUI [graphical user interface] objects and emulate functions performed by a mouse or trackball input device. The inventors are Greg Christie and Wayne Carl Westerman.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There exist today many styles of input devices for performing operations in a computer system. The operations generally correspond to moving a cursor and making selections on a display screen. The operations can also include paging, scrolling, panning, zooming, etc. By way of example, the input devices can include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch...

| Read more »
Apr 11
Greg's bite: indirect economics, 1 Gig for KCK

By Greg Mills

The ballyhoo that went up when Kansas City, Kansas, won the Google 1 Gig lottery was based upon the anticipated economic effects we hope to see here. Kansas City, Kansas has suffered from the recession, much like the rest of the country.  

Unemployment is a major issue for 9% of us. Real estate values have also suffered dramatically.  The effect of the Google network coming to town is a complicated parameter with possible side effects no one can fully foresee, most of them good. 

To our established local cable TV company, the Google 1 Gig network is an economic disaster. I have a TimeWarner Cable modem Internet bill on my desk as I write this for US$50 that will soon go to Google instead. No one is going to put up with the intermittent 6 Megs a second cable modem when they can have 1000 Megs a second on a more stable fiber optic network. Google promises to sell 1 Gig symmetrical Internet for current broadband prices to everyone....

| Read more »
Apr 11
US digital music sales will overtake CDs In 2012

Steve Jobs said the day was coming -- and it is. US consumers will spend more on online music than CDs for the first time in 2012, according to the latest study from the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com).

The report, "Global Recorded Music Market Forecast", found that total recorded music sales in the US declined by 7% to US$6.2 billion in 2010, driven largely by a 16% plunge in CD revenues, to $3.8b billion. In 2012 consumer spending on CDs will fall further to $2.7 billion, more than $1 billion lower than the 2010 level. But online music revenues will continue to grow, reaching $2.8 billion in 2012, therefore passing CDs for the first time.

"Digital music is not developing as fast as expected," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media research at Strategy Analytics. "While online revenues will expand further over the coming years, the...

| Read more »
Apr 08
Greg's bite: the implications of 1 Gig Internet...

By Greg Mills

Here in Kansas City, Kansas, as we contemplate the Google 1 Gig fiber optic Internet coming to town, we are looking at our hardware. The notion of symmetrical 1 Gig internet will certainly push the envelope for hardware manufacturers, including Apple.

I got a number of technical correction emails from my editor and readers who tell me I got my megs, bytes, bits and gigs mixed up the other day as to decimal points. Sorry about that.  Hopefully, the content was educational, but only slightly tinted with technical error. I will try to untangle all that in the future.

At the KCK town hall meeting with Google the other night, to me the biggest bomb was the notion of upload and download at full 1 Gig speeds. The more or less standard of the industry seems to be roughly 10% of the download speed is enough for the upload speed.

Your computer talks to the web sites you visit ,and when you click on something the computer sends a...

| Read more »
Apr 08
I'm dubious about an 'iPhone nano'

Rumors about a small, feature-limited, inexpensive iPhone have been circulating for some time -- and they've popped up again. I don't think we're going to see such a device. And at least some others agree with me.

In a note to clients Wednesday -- as reported by "Barron's" (http://macte.ch/dilFn) -- Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf expressed doubts that Apple could -- or would -- make a cheaper version of its smartphone without destroying the phone’s “iconic value.” The analyst doubts that Apple could cut corners on a new phone. And the iPhone's design is “monolithic” — so many parts are integral to it, such as the App Store, iTunes, etc. -- that making an iconic iPhone on the cheap is near impossible, writes Wolf.

He says that a smaller version of the iPhone won't work, as it would compromise the nature of video playback and app use. The only choice then is to try and cut out some memory or...

| Read more »
Apr 07
Future iPads could have e-paper features

Future iPads -- and perhaps other iOS devices, though the Apple tablet seems the most natural fit -- could have e-paper features if an Apple patent (number 20110080417) is an indication. The patent is for systems and methods for switching between and electronic paper display and a video display.

Per the patent, control circuitry in an electronic device can analyze visual content to determine one or more features of the visual content. For example, the control circuitry can analyze visual content to determine the rate of change and/or color composition of the visual content. Based on the one or more features, the control circuitry can selectively enable the device's electronic paper display or the device's video display. The inventors are Gloria Lin and Andrew Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "This is directed to electronic devices with multiple displays. In particular, this is directed to systems and methods for displaying visual...

| Read more »
Apr 07
Could future iOS devices have primary, secondary...

Could future iOS devices -- at least some of them -- have two displays? Seems so, as an Apple patent (number 20110080348) involving electronic devices with a primary display and selectively illuminated secondary display have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Systems and methods for selectively illuminating a secondary display are provided. An electronic device can include a primary display (e.g., a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen) and a printed segmented electroluminescence (secondary) display. The primary display can be used to convey visual content to a user, and the secondary display can be used to guide a user providing inputs to the device. For example, the secondary display can be selectively illuminated to provide one or more indicators that represent where or how a user can provide inputs to the device. The inventors are Gloria Lin, Andrew Hodge, Taido Nakajima, Bruno Germansderfer and Saumitro Dasgupta.

Here's Apple's background and...

| Read more »
Apr 07
Apple plans to simplify back-up navigation on the Mac

Apple plans to simplify back-up procedures -- and finding files in back-ups -- per two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110083088 is for navigation of electronic backups. Systems and methods for navigating within snapshots are provided. In one implementation a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a history view associated with the current view be displayed. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, the earlier version including a hierarchical structure wherein a first element of the earlier version includes a second element.

There is received, while the history view is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the second element. The method...

| Read more »
 
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