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Sep 01
Big opportunity for Mac sales in China

If there's one big opportunity for Mac sales, it's in China. Our favorite computing platform still has little market share there, but Apple is a popular brand and China is a hotbed of computer growth.

Results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" show that personal computer shipments in the China market have exceeded those of the United States in the second quarter of 2011 (2Q11).

Approximately 18.5 million units worth US$11.9 billion shipped in China during the quarter, compared to 17.7 million units worth US$11.7 billion in the U.S. China represented 22% of the global computer market's unit shipments compared to the US at 21%.

On a full year basis, IDC still expects the U.S. to remain the largest market in 2011, with 73.5 million units forecast to be shipped in the U.S. versus 72.4 million in China. Similarly, holiday season buying in the U.S. will likely keep it ahead of China in the fourth quarter, especially as...

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Aug 31
Greg's Bite:AT&T/T-Mobile deal off?

By Greg Mills

The US Government has the authority to prevent mergers when anti-trust laws kick in. There is a lot of discretion at the Justice Department, and sometimes the government could step in but does not do so. Other times, they stop mergers as being "anti-competitive." The AT&T merger with T-Mobile may be a situation where they think competition is best served by not allowing the biggest network to absorb the fourth largest network. The third largest network, Sprint, has been loudly screaming "monopoly" and working the political system to stop the merger.

The motivation behind the proposed merger is largely the cost of going national with a 4G LTE network would be reduced for AT&T if they could count T-Mobile's customers and network as theirs. AT&T is spending a lot of money building out a 4G network and having the advantage of combining the existing network of T-Mobile would give them an edge against Verizon.

The T-Mobile...

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Aug 31
Can Apple 'kill' cable, satellite TV?...

Mike Elgan, writing for "Computerworld" (http://www.computerworld.com/), thinks that Apple's next goal is to "kill" the cable and satellite companies.

I think that may be a little optimistic, but if Apple were to give those companies a run for their money, it would certainly be perceived as a major feather in new CEO Tim Cook's cap. I say "perceived" because the plans for such action have probably been underway for some time -- if Elgan is right, and I think he is.

Apple has conquered the music, phone and tablet markets. It's working on the ebook and e-magazine markets. That leaves one big, bad content experience to replace, and the "elephant in the room is television," writes Elgan. "For the past few years, Apple's 'hobby' has been solving the TV and home video content consumption problem," he writes. "Now, it looks like Apple may turn pro."

Considering reports from the "Wall...

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Aug 30
Apple patents involve Time Machine, app building, more

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

Patent number 8010937 is for an user interface for electronic backup (think Time Machine). A method includes receiving, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed, displaying the backup interface, the backup interface including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of a current view and a visual representation of the current view, the earlier version including a first element, receiving, while the backup interface is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element, animating the modification of the first element as moving from the visual representation of the earlier version to the visual representation of the current view, and modifying, in response to the second user...

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Aug 30
Who could replace Jonathan Ive?

The big discussion of late concerns whether Tim Cook can adequately fill the shoes of Steve Jobs as Apple's CEO. But an equally valid question is: who will fill the shoes of Jonathan Ive, Apple's design guru, when he moves on.

Hopefully, that will be a long, long way down the road. Ives is relatively young -- he was born in 1967 -- and, as far as I know, in fine health. Which is good, as he's been just as important as Jobs in developing Apple's incredible, industry-changing product designs.

Ive, Apple's senior vice president of Industrial Design, has led Apple's design team since the mid-1990s. Six of his designs are part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"Products have to be designed better now for people to buy them because of Jony Ive and Steve Jobs," says Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the museum. "All of a sudden people have gotten used to elegance and beauty, and there's no going back."

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Aug 29
Greg's Bite; Google, do no evil?

By Greg Mills

Google has famously chosen the mantra, "Google will do no evil." Recently, in a number of situations that mantra has been tested where, if not evil, questionable things have been done by Google. While certainly, the executive staff at Google has been generous in giving money to worthwhile charities, the ethics of some Google business practices have recently been the subject of lawsuits.

Google has, just in the last few weeks, been caught with their collective pants down in the discovery phase of a lawsuit. The top end of management at Google discussed, in writing, intentionally, using Oracle's Java code without a license to create the Android OS. When you virtually print your own money with a multi-billion dollar a year advertising company, trying to cheat Oracle by using its Java code without a license is a pretty lame thing to do.

Further, they rewrote some of the code to try to mask the fact that they were using aspects of...

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Aug 29
Boomers ready to leap into smartphone market

Relatively good news for Apple and the iPhone: a new study conducted by Consumer Cellular (http://www.consumercellular.com), the exclusive wireless provider for AARP members, and industry thought-leader Bob Chapin of Flying Coyotes, a telecommunications research firm, reports that Boomer adoption of feature-rich mobile devices continues to increase as those 50-plus look for ways to better connect with friends and family.

The survey, completed by 2,037 U.S. cellphone users ages 40-plus, focused on their interest in and opinions of smartphones and how they do or would use them to enhance their lifestyles.

Of those who responded, 60% of non-smartphone users say they are considering or plan to buy a smartphone, while 87% of current smartphone owners report they are likely or extremely likely to purchase another smartphone. The Android operating system is the leader among current...

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Aug 26
Greg's Bite: Odd tech developments of the day

By Greg Mills

With the implosion of HP and perhaps the beginning of the end of that storied company and the resignation of Steve Jobs, tech writers have had their hands full lately. There are other interesting developments in the news that ought to be mentioned.

RIM, never able to focus on what is important is struggling to launch a music service for PlayBook. When I think RIM and PlayBook, business usage comes to mind. The focus at RIM hasn't been in the right place from before the PlayBook was launched. PlayBook is dead but still on life support by RIM management that missed their chance to actually fill a business need that Apple is now filling. RIM is in decline and Apple is moving in.

That RIM would launch a "business" tablet that wouldn't run on a cellular connection without tethering to a BlackBerry is one of the likely reasons the Marketing VP at RIM resigned shortly before PlayBook was launched. That lack of connection ability alone,...

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Aug 26
Final Cut Pro X part of Apple's arrogance problem

It's fair to say that Final Cut Pro X has been the most controversial product Apple has released in some time. Most video pros are lambasting Apple over the product, and, to some extent, Apple deserves it.

Though there are plenty of things to like about Final Cut Pro X, there are also just as many things not to like about it. You can't import work -- at least not easily -- from previous versions of Final Cut Pro. Some beloved preferences, settings, export options and multiple-monitor support are gone, at least temporarily. It can't output to tape. Etc. Etc.

This is indicative of one of Apple's biggest problems: arrogance. The company takes a "my way or the highway" approach that sometimes burns users. (Note to iWeb users: be looking for a replacement product ASAP.) Not surprisingly, users are fighting back.

There's an online petition stating that "Final Cut Pro X is not a professional application" (...

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Aug 25
Apple eyes ways to make it easier to repair electronic...

A new Apple patent (number 20110208993) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is eyeing ways to make it easier to replace its products.

The patent is for systems and methods for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices -- and reducing the time and cost of doing so. Per the patent, a host electronic device may be configured to generate a log of events that it experiences. A help component may access the generated log and analyze the log to detect if the host device has experienced a problem. Data may then be exchanged between the help component and the host device in order to fix the detected problem. The inventors are Svetlana Samoilova, Wing Law and Andrew Bart Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "When an electronic device (e.g., a media player or a portable telephone) becomes corrupted (e.g., when a device's hardware, software, or stored data fails to function properly), a user is usually unable to determine, let...

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Aug 25
Apple patent hints at glasses for private viewing

A new Apple patent (number 2011010206285) for "obfuscating the display of information and removing the obfuscation using a filter" shows that Apple is considering glasses that would offer private viewing, most likely on an iOS device, but perhaps also on a Mac laptop.

The patent is directed to obfuscating a display to secure the display of information provided to a user. An electronic device can modulate the display of information using different approaches, including for example by adding artifacts or changing the color, frequency or polarity of displayed information, thus obfuscating the display. To view the displayed information, a user can place a filter between the user and the display (e.g., as part of glasses) such that the filter can remove or undo the obfuscation.

In some embodiments, the device can display different confidential information for several users simultaneously, where different obfuscation approaches are used for each user. This can allow...

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Aug 25
Greg's Bite: Steve Jobs' Creativity

By Greg Mills

We all knew Mr. Jobs is fighting cancer or the aftermath of it. Despite knowing he was on medical leave, it was very reassuring that he popped up at product releases to a thundering applause. Turning over the reins to Apple when there are still unreleased new products in the cue, that need refining, must be the hardest part of his work at Apple for him to relinquish. Steve Jobs is a compulsive perfectionist and he demanded a level of elegance unseen in so many products.

Demanding the impossible and forcing Apple engineers to find a way to do it was his strong suit. Being named as an inventor in numerous patents is only the tip of the iceberg of his creativity. Thinner, faster, smoother, more intuitive, fewer steps to operate, simpler, logical, cheaper to manufacture and fitting into an overall plan were the things Steve looks at in new product development.

The logic of Apple software icons and button placement alone is a...

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Aug 25
Apple HDTVs? LCD screens or OLED displays?

Speculation that Apple will partner with LG to unveil its own line of HDTVs for 2012 were debunked this week by LG Display CEO Kwon Young-Soo, reports "OLED-Display" (http://macte.ch/Twa7U). The CEO says Apple is "still pessimistic about using OLED displays" and will go with LCD displays when it unveils its own line of HDTVs.

Besides the intriguing fact that Young-Soo feels that Apple will indeed launch its own brand of TV sets, I find it interesting that "OLED-Display" says the company may use "picture quality-enhanced and tech-sharpened" LCD displays for its television." There's an ongoing debate about which is better: LCD (liquid crystal display) or OLED displays, with, as best I can ascertain, OLED having an advantage in the quality area.

LCD screens are slimmer and take up less space than their OLED counterparts -- which may explain why Apple would go with LCD -- if, indeed, the company plans its...

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Aug 24
Jobs: Taxing Tag Fields Everywhere

As written time and time again today, today is the end of an era. This isn't just about a CEO, an innovator, or a leader. It's about a man who decided to change the world time and time and time again. Some called him a tyrant. Others a genius. Bill Gates respected his "taste." Other's his "reality distortion field."

Over the next couple of days, we're going to hear a number of comments, tributes, and respect. We're going to hear concerns about the future, and watch the market find a way to express what it feels. None of this compares to the list of accomplishments Jobs has. He literally is taxing the capacity of "Tags" fields in CMS' everywhere.

There are a few things that are clear.

1) Apple and Jobs have been thinking about this day for a long time.
2) The team already has practice running the company without him.
3) Jobs knows his ultimate accomplishment will be to show he's instilled himself into the culture and fabric of Apple.

...

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Aug 24
Greg's Bite: The Decline and Fall of the PC

By Greg Mills

Industries rise and fall. No matter how large the company, an eye has to be on the market, paying particular attention to revolutionary products. That the PC industry sees the Apple mobile revolution isn't in dispute. The problem is, that try as they might, competing with Apple is very hard to do.

With HP now agreeing with Steve Jobs that the PC is dead and moving on to business applications and services, the world's biggest PC manufacturing machine is now up for sale. Some analysts think the size and value of the HP PC manufacturing arm is too big for any one competitor to buy, so cutting it up is likely. Time is not on the HP side of the situation. The longer the process takes to spin off manufacturing HP PCs, the less the division is going to be worth.

First of all, the sales numbers on HP computers across the board is going to decline. If you are looking at PCs and you see an array of HP computers on display, you would...

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Aug 24
Another good reason to develop for iOS, not Android

There's another good reason for developers to concentrate on iOS apps rather than Android apps: their product is more likely to be purchased and used.

When consumers use their mobile phones to check the news, weather, email, or their social networks, they often have a choice between the mobile web version or a specially-created mobile app. But which do they prefer? Mobile apps -- at least in terms of time spent.

According to first-reported data from Nielsen Smartphone Analytics (http://www.nielsen.com), a new effort that tracks and analyzes data from on-device meters installed on thousands of iOS and Android smartphones, the average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on their phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web.

Despite the hundreds of thousands of apps available for...

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Aug 23
Greg's Bite: Unanticipated Ramifications of the...

By Greg Mills

When Google moved to buy Motorola they proclaimed that the purchase was to counter Apple and boost the patent portfolio behind the Android OS. They also maintained their intention to keep Android OS open source and support the various handset makers that have built the hardware behind the success of Android.

There is an old saying that what you do speaks far louder than what you say. There is also a tendency in business to provide a contingency plan in case unanticipated things happen. Thus, it is turning out the handset makers other than Motorola are worried Google will favor their in-house handset maker and freeze them out. The cutthroat handset market is so incredibly valuable it is hard to simply take Google at its word.

Within days of HP killing the TouchPad, Pre smartphones and really the Palm OS, Samsung announced it was dusting off its proprietary Bada smartphone OS as a back up just in case Google takes Android out of the...

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Aug 23
Greg's Bite: Did HP Kill all iPad Competitors?

Posted by Greg MIlls

The last year has seen the launch, crash and burn of the supposed iPad killers cheerfully announced at recent trade shows. There were, by some counts, as many as 100 touchscreen iPad wannabe contenders presented in one show alone. Prototypes and actual production units are not the same thing. Mock-ups are not that hard to produce and a lot of the concept tablets were just glass and painted Bondo.

One tech writer for "ZDNET" has speculated that the entire category of touchscreen tablets is a dead duck while the Apple iPad thrives. The notion is that consumers are smart enough to understand that there is the genuine iPad and touchscreen tablets of lessor stripe. The market value of the TouchPad works out to be about 1/3 the cost of producing them. TouchPad had to be cut to US$99 to sell rabidly like a $500 iPad.

With a big gun like HP throwing in the towel on the entire touch screen category after spending billions of...

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Aug 23
'Radically different' Apple computers by...

According to a Japanese site, Macotakara -- as reported by as noted by Cult of Mac" (http://macte.ch/MUg3C) -- Apple is planning to create new Macs that are “absolutely different from current products” with a debut "as early as the end of the year." Not likely.

There have been rumors before that Apple has tested MacBook Airs running the iPad 2′s A5 CPU (central processing unit). I don't doubt that, though I suspect it's more of an experiment with an eye toward a long-term future.

In the near-term, there are no ARM chips powerful enough to run OS X. And despite the potential of iOS, a full-fledged Mac needs OS X -- at least until that day in the future when OS X and iOS merge into one. Also, OS X apps would have to be reprogrammed to run on ARM processors, and I don't think Apple's ready to bite off that challenge right now.

So unless Apple is planning an iOS notebook/netbook device, I'd take...

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Aug 23
Apple patents involve fixing electronic devices,...

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

Patent number 8006121 is for systems and methods for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices. Systems and methods for reducing the cost and time required for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices are provided. A host electronic device may be configured to generate a log of events that it experiences. A help component may access the generated log and analyze the log to detect if the host device has experienced a problem. Data may then be exchanged between the help component and the host device in order to fix the detected problem.
The inventors are Svetlana Samoilova, Wing Law and Andrew Bert Hodge.

Patent number 8004492 is for methods and systems for providing sensory information to devices and peripherals. Per the patent, peripherals and data processing systems are disclosed which can be configured to interact...

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Aug 22
Study shows generational differences in mobile device...

Affinity's American Magazine Study (http://www.affinityresearch.net/) reports that there are distinct generational skews in the profiles of eReader, tablet computer and smartphone owners.  

For established technology products like computers, U.S. penetration is high and usage is considered mainstream. For example, 84% of American adults currently own at least one computer according to AMS.  

As a result, there's very little difference in the ownership patterns of computers by generation. But when it comes to the growing number of mobile devices in the marketplace, there are new owner profiles emerging that suggest that one generation of Americans may be better prospects for a particular device than others.  

Mirroring the most recent statistics from The Pew Research Center, AMS reports that 12% of U.S. adults currently own an eReader. The profile of eReader owners skews...

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Aug 21
Greg's Bite: The Great HP Train Wreck, Mikey...

Posted by Greg Mills

The Great HP Train Wreck, Mikey likes it, Michel Dell that is. The immediate stock market reaction to the HP implosion was that HP stock went down 20% and Dell went up 7%. The gut reaction of the market to the HP reorganization was sort of as if HP had done the seppuku ceremony where the ancient Japanese publicly cut their own belly open with a sharp knife. A gory, painful and dramatic way to die, indeed, but it sure makes a statement. The age of the PC is over, long live iPad, to paraphrase Steve Jobs.

Part of the problem for HP is with the general perception of the public that the consumer PC manufacturing division of HP was the bulk of their business. That turns out to not be true, since the profit margins of HP PCs is so low, the manufacturing arm of HP wasn't the money maker the pubic imagined. The misconception also comes from the public face of HP, the consumer products that splash the HP logo everywhere. When I...

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Aug 19
HP, the Great PC Whale Beached Itself

By Greg Mills

As news of the cancelation of the HP TouchPad and Web OS smartphones hit the street, speculation abounds as the future for both HP as a company and its established business units. Almost as an afterthought the news came out that HP was also throwing in the towel on its PC manufacturing business.

What makes the abrupt changes at HP significant is that HP was the largest PC manufacturer in the world. Normally, economy of scale rules mean that HP should have demanded and gotten the best prices on parts and assembly. That should have reaped the largest margins in the industry.

Unlike the Apple computer manufacturing business, the PC manufacturing industry has seen so much competition and so little innovation that PC is just a PC, only a commodity that is defined by the sum of its parts. The PC manufacturers, Intel and Microsoft, the three legged stool is teetering right now. For the first time ever, a combination of a poor...

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Aug 19
Mac sales slowing 'significantly'? I don...

A new report from one Wall Street analyst -- Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research -- says Mac sales have slowed significantly since the fourth week in July, suggesting its back-to-school promotion isn't boosting sales as much as expected.

In a note to clients this week-- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- Chowdhry said that the past weekend "was probably one of the slowest weekends for Mac sales" in the current calendar year, citing proprietary research based on "various tracking data." He said Mac sales last weekend were "probably down" between 35% and 40% from the weekend of July 23.

He may be right, but all his research pretty much goes against the grain of every other report. For instance, this week UBS Investment Research analyst Maynard Um told clients in a note -- again, as reported by "AppleInsider" -- that Mac sales are strong. Um said his...

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Aug 18
Greg's Bite: Want to buy Palm?

Posted by Greg Mills

I was somewhat taken back by the news that HP has pulled the plug on the TouchPad, so quickly. That the Palm OS smartphones and computer business were also cut by HP means the shake out of the mobile computing market is beginning in ernest. A massive shift to tablets is underway and when I say tablet, you can read that iPad.

That HP is planning to spin off its computer business is interesting as it was only 10 years ago they bought Compaq for $US25 Billion and became the largest computer maker in the world. Markets change and HP sees the mobile computing business gutting the conventional PC business and with the Palm/TouchPad disaster, they decided to cut their losses.

Apple has been sucking the air out of the room with the magical tablet no one else can match and people are discovering they can live without a PC or laptop. Certainly, there are still applications where a PC or laptop is better, but those situations are...

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Aug 18
Apple patent is for dynamic adjustment of video...

An Apple patent (number 20110202674) for dynamic adjustments of video streams has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to streaming video from a server to a client.

Per the patent, using both short term and long term thinning mechanisms, the server reduces its data transfer rate when bandwidth is reduced and increases its data transfer rate when bandwidth is available. In the short term mechanism, the server will dynamically adjust the transmission rate of the video or the quality of the video based on parameters returned by the client. These parameters include currently-buffered data-size, buffered-data duration, and packet loss rate.

In the long term mechanism, the server will adjust the current maximum quality level allowed depending upon the round trip times of data packets transmitted. This invention decreases client rebuffering and packet loss and increases the efficiency of available bandwidth. The inventors are George P. Su and John K...

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Aug 18
Apple eyeing augmented reality for Map + Compass...

A new Apple patent (number 20110199479) shows that the company plans to expand on its Map + Compass feature on iOS devices with augmented reality.

According to the patent, a user points a handheld communication device to capture and display a real-time video stream. The handheld communication device detects geographic position, camera direction, and tilt of the image capture device. The user sends a search request to a server for nearby points of interest. The handheld communication device receives search results based on the search request, geographic position, camera direction, and tilt of the handheld communication device.

The handheld communication device visually augments the captured video stream with data related to each point of interest. The user then selects a point of interest to visit. The handheld communication device visually augments the captured video stream with a directional map to a selected point of interest in response to the user input. Jaron...

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Aug 18
Greg's Bite: People who live in glass houses....

By Greg Mills

People who live in glass houses .... have a heck of an energy bill. The proposed new Apple store design for Santa Monica, California, will require a waver of energy related building codes as it far exceed the surface area allowed to be glass.

The problem is that in the summer, the new store with a glass roof, will absorb heat from the sun like a giant solar panel. In the winter, the heat will escape through the glass ceiling far faster than with conventional roofing materials.

While there are likely architectural solutions, such as dual pane glass panels and e-coatings that can help prevent energy losses, I would still hate to pay the energy bills for the Santa Monica Apple Store.

Apple is green when it suits them and flagrantly wasteful when something like an all glass building makes a statement. The concept of all glass walls is pretty common in high rise buildings but glass roofs are not so common. The traffic in...

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Aug 18
Blu-ray spending rises 10%

Disc sales continued to plummet throughout the first half of the year, as more consumers opted to rent or stream movies rather than purchase them on DVD or Blu-ray, though the latter is on the rise.

The Digital Entertainment Group reports an 18% drop in disc sales to US$3.9 billion in the first six months of the year. Overall spending dipped 5% to $8.5 billion during the period, with a double-digit gain in rental spending making up for much of the decline in disc sales.

The organization, backed by major studios, attributed the decline to a weaker slate of home entertainment debuts, notes "Reuters" (http://macte.ch/HPu24). However, according to the DEG report, Blu-ray spending rose more than 10% in the period.

Electronic sell-through -- also commonly referred to as digital downloads -- rose 4%, but remain a very small portion of the business, accounting for $270 million in the first six months of...

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Aug 17
Greg's Bite: HP Touch Pad "Like Nothing Else...

By Greg Mills

The illustration is an exploded view of the HP TouchPad.

For those developers thinking about developing apps for the Palm OS, which runs on HP's TouchPad, think a bit longer. Sales figures just are awful on HP's latest iPad killer that isn't. If you thought the Microsoft Kin cell phone was a success, you will really love the HP TouchPad. HP's slogan for the TouchPad, "Like Nothing Else," can sarcastically be interpreted by consumers as "nothing like an Apple iPad."

The Wall Street Journal's "All Things Digital" reports that of the 270,000 HP TouchPads Best Buy ordered, they have sold less than 25,000. Internal reports are that the 25,000 sold number does not include TouchPads that have been sold but returned for various reasons. (See http...

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Aug 17
A future OS X with no printer drivers needed? Sweet

Lots of Apple patents don't necessarily lead to finished products. But I certainly hope that two showing that Apple is working on ways to get rid of printer drivers come to fruition.

Patent number 20110194140 is for a system that supports printing from a computing device. During operation, the system uses a discovery protocol to identify printers that can be accessed by the computing device. Next, the system receives a selection of a printer that can be accessed by the computing device. The system then generates printer data for the print job. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.

The system can use a driverless printing technique, which involves obtaining printer capability information from the selected printer and generating printer data for the selected printer based on the printer capability information. Alternatively, the system can use a printer-specific driver for the selected printer to generate the printer data. The system can also send the print job...

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Aug 16
Apple eyeing ways to improve cameras in iOS devices

A new Apple patent (number 8000598) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is looking at ways of improving the cameras in its iOS devices.


The patent is for a lens baffle -- a lens assembly that includes a brush-like baffle between the lens and a transparent cover. The baffle at least partially surrounds the lens to prevent stray light from entering and causing flare or other image artifacts. If the baffle does not entirely surround the lens structure, an adjustment mechanism may be provided to rotate the baffle so as to "tune" a flare reduction effect. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Cameras, and imaging systems generally, typically use sun shields, such as shades or hoods, for shielding the lens assembly from stray light. Such sun shields protrude from the imaging system, thereby adding both volume and weight. In addition to sun shields, imaging systems may use multiple baffles...

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Aug 16
Apple considering wireless keyboards with cellular...

A new Apple patent (number 7999748) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple is considering integrating cellular antenna under the keys of its laptops and wireless keyboards.

Per the patent, key antennas are provided for an electronic device such as a laptop computer. The electronic device may have radio-frequency transceivers that transmit and receive signals using the key antennas. An antenna resonating element may be mounted beneath a keycap of each key antenna. The antenna resonating element may be spirally wrapped and integrated into the keycap. The key antenna may function as an antenna and may also function as an input key for an electronic device.

A flexible communications path may pass through a hole in a conductive housing of the electronic device and may be used to couple the antenna resonating element to the radio-frequency transceiver. The antenna resonating element may be coupled to the radio-frequency transceiver by a...

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Aug 16
Greg's Bite: Matching Apple's Winning Formula

By Greg Mills

The tech industry is collectively scratching its head trying to figure out just what the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility will mean. The other Android handset makers are now worried Google will favor Motorola with advanced features and that they will be left out of the loop. Uncertainty in business is a powerful thing.

The Apple led legal assault against Android has created concerns that it will take serious revisions in the Android OS and handset modifications to even get the phones imported into the US. The potential for breaking existing Android handsets and apps is worrisome. Android is already fragmented, and customers don't like incompatibilities in a platform.

Microsoft with its poorly received Windows 7 platform is waiting in the wings with Ballmer hoping the shifting sands under the Android platform will give them an edge. Indeed, a number of Android handset makers are looking at hedging their bets and supporting...

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Aug 16
Apple patent hints at OS X, iOS melding

Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek recently said that OS X and iOS would begin merging next year. It's obvious this is going to happen, but I didn't expect it that soon. However, an Apple patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints that Apple is working on such a move sooner rather than later.

Patent number 20110197153 is for user interactions with items displayed on an user interface instead of a device. Techniques for managing user interactions with items on a user interface are disclosed. In one aspect, a representation of an opening is presented in response to touch input. A display object is moved over the opening, and the display object is processed in response to the moving.

In another aspect, touch input pinching two opposite corners of a display object followed by touch input flicking the display object is received and the display object is deleted in response to the inputs. In another aspect, touch input centered over a display object is...

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Aug 15
Organizations realize benefits by adopting 'bring...

If organizations want to keep their employees happy, they'll let them bring their own devices to use at work such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac laptops.

Citrix Systems announced the results of the Citrix Bring-Your-Own (BYO) Index revealing that 92% of IT organizations are aware that employees are using their own devices in the workplace and 94%intend to have a formal BYO policy in place by mid-2013, up from 44% today.

The research found that attracting and retaining the highest quality talent, increased worker productivity and mobility and greater employee satisfaction, as well as reducing IT costs, are the primary drivers of BYO adoption.

“There are two reasons that BYO is being embraced within organizations,” says Mick Hollison, vice president, Desktop Marketing & Strategy, for Citrix. “There are those that are using BYO to keep up with the rapid consumerization of enterprise IT and then there are forward-thinking CIOs who have embraced BYO as a way to...

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Aug 14
Galaxy II, Samsung's iPhone Killer

Posted by Greg MIlls

Ever since iPhone 1 was launched, the competition has been searching of the Holy Grail of technology, a true iPhone killer. So far, the mythological device has never actually been launched, but perhaps, the Samsun Galaxy 2 Android handset has come closest.

Apple has sought to ban the import of Samsung Galaxy tablets and Galaxy touch screen phones as "slavishly stealing the look and feel of Apple products". The US International Trade Commission has taken the case and might issue it's ruing in time to stop Samsung from introducing the hottest Android handset yet, slated for release in the US on August 31.

The Samsung Galaxy 2 is larger, faster and has the newer high speed G4 radio chip set. Samsung intends to offer the new handset at a price identical to Apple's iPhone in the giant US cellular market. If the rest of the world's reaction to the new handset is any indication, the Samsung phone might indeed steal a lot...

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Aug 12
Greg's Bite: Android Platform Fragmenting

By Greg Mills

Apple is certainly on a roll. As the stock market has gyrated the last few days due to the downgrade of US Treasury debt, Apple replaced Mobile/Exon as the most valuable company in the world by market cap. Over the last week or so, Apple got Samsung's new touch screen tablet banned in Australia and Europe. HTC took a hit in the US International Trade Commission and may also face import bans on its Android handsets in the US market.

While the patent infringement suits Apple filed agains all the Android handset makers is drawing blood from a standpoint of infringement and potential damages, the effect is also fragmenting the Android platform. Cohesion and uniformity define a platform and make it attractive to developers.

Android is already fractured into various operating systems that aren't necessarily compatible with all the Android handsets that have come out. Further, apps that run on some Android operating systems might not...

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Aug 12
A year from now, iWeb and iDVD will be gone

I'll be surprised if iWeb and iDVD are still around in 12 months. When MobileMe is discontinued on June 30, 2012, some of its features will be rolled into Apple's iCloud, but iWeb hosting won't be one of them.

With iWeb you can move a site published to MobileMe to another web hosting service (read how to do this at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4686), but that doesn't sound good for Apple's web site creation tool. I've tried to get a comment from Apple's PR department about iWeb's fate, but no answer so far. Heck, I even wrote Steve Jobs hoping to get a terse answer sent from his iPhone, but -- again -- no dice.

The fact that, unlike the other iLife apps, iWeb isn't available for download or purchase at the Mac App Store probably says it all, however. iWeb users should probably be eyeing RapidWeaver (...

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Aug 12
Apple patents involve low image database migration,...

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

Patent number 20110194775 involves the migration of a old image database. Techniques are described for causing digital image data to be interpreted according to a particular technique of a plurality of techniques. According to an embodiment, digital sensor data is received, and user input is received that specifies which technique of a plurality of techniques to use to generate a display that depicts an unmodified image from the sensor data, wherein each technique of the plurality of techniques generates a display from the sensor data in a different manner than each other technique of the plurality of techniques. Nikhil M. Bhatt is the inventor.

Patent number 20110195612 is for low profile plugs. An apparatus, systems, and methods for assembling a plug with a low profile for use with an electronic device are provided. In some...

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Aug 11
Future iPhones may let you compare competing carriers

In the future iPhone users could compare the prices and features of competing carriers and service plans directly on their Apple smartphone, per a new patent for a "Method and Apparatus for Using a Wireless Communication Device with Multiple Service Providers."

The patent involves configuring a mobile wireless communication device using a carrier service configuration profile selected from a set of stored carrier service configuration profiles. Carrier service configuration profiles are selected based on one or more combinations of identifier values stored in the mobile wireless communication device. Carrier service configuration profiles are priority ranked based on a specificity of the one or more combinations of identifier values. Robert Kukuchka, Shuvo Chatterjee, Arun Godfrey Mathias, and Matthew Klahn are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile wireless communication devices, such as a cellular telephone or a wireless...

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Aug 11
Apple eyeing schematic maps for iOS devices

Apple is eyeing a new Maps app for iOS devices with "schematic maps," per a patent that's appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, "entitled Schematic Maps," involves systems and methods for preparing and presenting schematic maps, which are maps that present information in a format that presents only information that is most relevant to a given situation in order to provide a simple and clear representation sufficient to aid a user in guidance or orientation. The schematic maps as described can be formatted based on the attributes of a display on which they are presented so that the map layout and presentation can be optimized for the particular display. T

The schematic maps can be “distorted” to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps...

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Aug 11
Apple may include projectors into iOS devices

An Apple patent (number 20110197147) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is considering integrating projectors into upcoming iOS devices -- and perhaps Macs, as well.

The patent, entitled "Projected Display Shared Workspaces," involves systems, methods, and devices that are provided for creating a shared workspace where images may be shared between projected displays. In one embodiment, electronic devices each may include a projector that produces a projected display and a camera that detects gestures made with respect to the projected displays.

The electronic devices may interpret gestures on the projected displays to identify image sharing commands for sharing images between the projected displays. The electronic devices may be connected through a communication link that allows the electronic devices to share image data for producing images on any of the projected displays included within the shared workspace. Anthony Y.S. Fai is...

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Aug 11
DealFinders -- and FileMaker Pro's Mac App Store...

A friend of mine recently got an e-mail from AA promoting a new DealFinder application that's compatible with both Mac OS X and Windows. It's designed to help you find better deals on flights. But there's a problem.

My friend went to install it and ran into a little problem: it requires Flash. Someone is not doing their homework and it makes me question their competency.

By the way, have you noticed that while FileMaker Pro's Bento is on the App Store, FileMaker Pro isn't? Strange.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 10
Greg's Bite: Motorola looking at Windows 7

By Greg Mills

The legal problems the Android OS is facing over patent infringement is certain to help alternative smartphone platforms. The large market share Android now holds may soon be divided into market segments going to surviving smartphone platforms. If Apple manages to crush or seriously stumble Google's legally indefensible Android platform, the iOS is sure to be the biggest winner. iOS developers will come out on top.

The epic patent war going on, pitting Apple against every Android handset maker and Google itself facing Oracle, will, at a minimum, force a major recompilation of Android's OS, just to get around Apple patents. Android handsets themselves will also face revisions. Orphaned Android handsets, broken apps and further platform fragmentation may well be the result of the effort to get along with Apple.

Hedging your bet, when the stakes are as high as they are, makes perfect sense. Legal costs fighting Apple around the...

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Aug 10
Is my iServe ready yet?

In the past I've pondered that I wished Apple would release an "iServe." My opinion hasn't changed, even with the impending release of iCloud.

For example, the iPad is a great device, but even the upper end only has 64GB of internal storage. A home server would provide a way for keeping family media assets managed and available.

There are home server choices for the Mac, but all of them could be bettered by an Apple product. The Apple server could also be the next step to venture into another market, home control. For example, if Apple would offer a home climate control to your home server, you or the server could change the temperature in your home from a distance or in accordance with your iCal schedule.

An Apple home server could be a great companion for Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads and other Apple devices. Heck, put it under the Apple TV division and let's move beyond the "hobby" category. In fact, an iServe would fit in nicely if the rumors are correct and...

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Aug 09
Apple working on 'dark' wake-up methods for...

Apple is working on methods to power up select components of a Mac from a sleep state, per a patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office.


Patent number 7996694 is for a "dark wake," or xemplary embodiments of methods, apparatuses, and systems for powering up select components of a computer from a sleep state, maintaining a network state, and powering down the select components of the computer to return the computer to the sleep state are described. For one embodiment, a network interface and a fan controller receive power during the network state maintenance but a display or audio components do not receive power during the network state maintenance. The inventors are Ethan Bold, Stuart Cheshire, J. Rhoads Hollowell, Joe Liu and Dean R. Reece.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The various embodiments described herein relate to power management of a processing system. In particular, embodiments include the processing system entering a dark...

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Aug 09
Apple wins patent for integrated touch screen

Apple has won a patent for an integrated touch screen from the US Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent (number 7995041), Displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup are provided.

Circuit elements, such as touch signal lines, such as drive lines and sense lines, grounding regions, in the display pixel stackups can be grouped together to form touch sensing circuitry that senses a touch on or near the display. An integrated touch screen can include multi-function circuit elements that can operate as circuitry of the display system to generate an image on the display, and can also form part of a touch sensing system that senses one or more touches on or near the display.

The multi-function circuit elements can be, for example, capacitors in display pixels that can be configured to operate as storage capacitors/electrodes, common electrodes, conductive wires/pathways, etc., of the display circuitry in the display system, and...

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Aug 09
What happened to making FaceTime an open industry...

During his 2010 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, CEO Steve Jobs said, "We’re going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.” So has any progress been made in this area?

In case you're not familiar with it, FaceTime is video calling that uses Wi-Fi. It was first introduced with the iPhone 4. FaceTime for Mac makes it possible to communicate with anyone on an iPhone 4, iPod touch, or Mac from your Mac. If you use one of the new MacBook Pros you get 720p clarity.

All you need is an Apple ID and an email address and you’re ready to roll. To start a video call with someone, find her entry in the contacts list. FaceTime works with Address Book so you don’t have to enter your contacts from scratch.

FaceTime is excellent technology. But Apple needs to rely on all computers -- Windows included -- to support the system in order to really become the revolutionary offering Apple has made it out to...

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Aug 09
Apple patents involve level shifter, NBTI reduction...

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

Patent number 7994820 is for a level shifter with embedded logic and low minimum voltage. Per the patent, in one embodiment, a level shifter circuit may include a shift stage that also embeds transistors that implement a logic operation on two or more inputs to the level shifter. At least one of the inputs may be sourced from circuitry that is powered by a different power supply than the level shifter and circuitry that receives the level shifter output.

Additionally, the level shifter includes one or more dummy transistors that match transistors the perform the logic operation, to improve symmetry of the level shifter circuit. In some embodiments, certain design and layout rules may be applied to the level shifter circuit to limit variation in the symmetry over various manufacturing variations. The inventors are Brian J. Campbell, Vincent R....

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