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Sep 19
Greg's Bite: Windows Strategic Plan

Posted by Greg Mills

The press, especially MSNBC, is loaded these days with glowing stories about Microsoft's Windows 8. I do not claim to be an expert on anything Microsoft, as I avoid their software like the plague. In my experience, OS X almost never crashes, but when it does go down, it is normally a Microsoft app that did it.

I have noticed interesting differences between Apple and Microsoft in their strategic approach to mobile platforms. That is the focus of this article.

Apple launched the iOS to support the iPhone. Modern mobile computers and smartphones require a robust operating system that can do the cell phone functions as well as run iPod, camera, GPS, web and apps. Built upon the fresh and clean iOS foundation they expanded the iPhone iOS to run on iPad as well. In the Apple world we have the Mac OS X which runs Apple personal computers and the Mac iOS to run mobile devices. Apple is betting that mobile computers will...

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Sep 19
Internet-connected devices in the living room under-...

Interpret (http://www.interpretllc.com) -- an entertainment, media and technology market research firm -- recently released two Interpretations reports: "The State of Internet-Connected Living Rooms" and "Streaming Music: Will It Replace the CD and MP3?"

The "Living Rooms" report reveals that although Internet-connected devices in the living room have Proliferated to over half of U.S. consumers, they remain underutilized for TV and movie entertainment. For example, according to Interpret's New Media Measure syndicated study, only 22% of those who own a gaming console connected to the Internet have used it to stream a movie or TV show, and among owners of set-top boxes such as Apple TV or Roku, that number is even lower (18%). Obviously, Apple has a lot of catching up to do in this area -- and plenty of room for growth.

The "Streaming Music" report discusses the impact that streaming and "...

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Sep 16
Can Apple 'save' the consumer 3D market?

3D TV in homes has gotten a tepid reception, but Apple seems to have big plans for 3D technology. Patent number 8018579 for a 3D imaging and display system indicates that 3D manipulation may be part of future Mac OS X and iOS devices.

A three-dimensional imaging and display system is provided in the patent. Apple says that, despite all the current 3D solutions and technologies, there's a need for an "uncomplicated, economical, yet highly effective 3D input devices for computers."

Such devices need to be able to detect, analyze, and measure objects located in a 3D volume, and to observe and track motions (think Microsoft's Kinect technology for the Xbox). Apple is eyeing devices that would be designed compatibly for use with 3D graphically intensive activities.

They need to be capable of operating by optically sensing object or human positions, orientations, and/or motions. For reasons of cost as well as user convenience, they should be compact and capable of...

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Sep 15
Greg's Bite: Samsung was leaking Apple secrets

When electronics parts companies land a contract with Apple the business can be quite lucrative. Apple uses a significant supply of electronic parts of all types and demands the newest and best of everything. The wonderful news that you are now doing business with the largest company in the world is tempered with a contract that ties you in knots regarding secrecy, quality controls and details too numerous for this article.

One of the most important issues to Apple is secrecy. Working in a black box environment is critical for Apple to have an extra year or so before the copy cats reverse engineer Apple products and launch a "me-too" iWhatever.

Samsung, in addition to its line of retail electronics products, manufactures and sells an amazing variety of parts to Apple. The love/hate relationship between the companies is well known. On one hand, Apple likes the Samsung parts that make Apple products sparkle, but at the same time Samsung has abused its relationship with...

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Sep 15
'Consumerization of IT' looking good for...

Dell KACE (http://twitter.com/#!/DellKACE) has announced the results from a new global survey of nearly 750 IT professionals on the effect that personal devices have on business demonstrating the growing "consumerization of IT" trend. And the survey shows some positive results for Apple.

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed reported their personal devices have created the need for organizations to support multiple operating systems. What's more, 60% reported a greater demand for support of Mac OS X since the introduction of the Apple iPad and iPhone.

The survey finds that many (62%) IT managers feel they lack the necessary tools to properly manage personal devices. Conducted by Dimensional Research and commissioned by Dell KACE, the survey revealed 87% of companies have employees that use some kind of personal device for work including laptops, smartphones and tablet computers but are unable to effectively protect corporate data and intellectual property as well as...

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Sep 15
Apple patent involves RFID device circuitry

An Apple patent (number 20110221575) that has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows some of the company's plans for RFID device circuitry. It relates to radio frequency identification (RFID) circuitry, and more particularly, to electronic devices that can selectively cause the RFID circuitry to provide a message indicative of an event associated with the device.

Per the patent An electronic device with RFID circuitry is provided. The electronic device is operative to instruct the RFID circuitry to provide a desired message indicative of an event associated with the electronic device. For example, if the electronic device experienced some type of system failure, the device may instruct the RFID circuitry to provide a message indicative of that failure. The inventors are Tyler Mincey and Andrew Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "RFID circuitry is used in a variety of different applications. For example, RFID circuitry can...

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Sep 14
Greg's Bite: Windows 8 new blue screen of death

By Greg Mills

Wow, Microsoft has certainly improved Windows 8. Now, when the obligatory hourly reboot comes up -- oh my gosh, did you save your work? -- a remodeled "blue screen of death" pops up complete with an artistic flare. The standard blue screen now has some text advising the ever compliant PC user that the time has come again to reboot. (See http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/42056/blue-screen-of-death-windows8 .)

I propose an alternative PC blue screen where a giant message reads "Get a Mac! You wouldn't have had to reboot." That is, in effect, exactly what a lot of people are doing these days -- refreshing their computers with a mobile computer or Mac. I am doing some Faux wall art right now for a lady that is really ticked off that her brand new printer takes the day off a lot and won't...

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Sep 14
Could widespread adoption of HTML5 hurt Apple?

The widespread adoption of HTML5 for Web apps could cut Apple’s operation profit growth by 30%, with Microsoft, Google and carriers benefiting, Bernstein Research (https://www.bernsteinresearch.com) predicted -- as noted by "Macworld" (http://macte.ch/6CLU8). Which, if true, would be pretty ironic since Apple has touted HTML5 over Flash.

When the iPad was introduced in early 2009, Steve Jobs famously rejected Adobe Flash in favor of HTML 5 for providing media c

The financial researchers at Bernstein Research envision widespread adoption of HTML5 will affect iPhones and iPads, reducing margins for the former and lowering market share for the latter, the article adds.

"Rough scenario analyses says that even a modest impact in each of these areas could cut our estimated Op. profit growth forecast for Apple...

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Sep 13
Apple patent involves encoding video data

An Apple patent (number 8018994) for selecting encoding types and predictive mode for encoding types and predictive modes for encoding video data. It's directed towards selecting encoding types and predictive modes for encoding video data.

In some embodiments, a method of determining encoding type and predictive mode(s) selections for a macroblock of a video frame is provided. In some embodiments, a general method 1) selects the encoding type (16.times.16 or 4.times.4) that is initially considered for a macroblock using an encoding type selection algorithm (based on an attribute of the macroblock that is easy to compute), 2) if the 16.times.16 encoding type is selected in step 1, consider the four 16.times.16 prediction modes that may be used on the macroblock using conventional methods or an improved 16.times.16 predictive mode search algorithm based on distortion thresholds, and 3) if the 4.times.4 encoding type is selected in step 1, select the 4.times.4 prediction mode...

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Sep 13
Apple eyeing ways to improve iPhone antennas

Apple is eyeing ways to beef up the antennas on its iPhones as well as perhaps other iOS devices, per a patent (number 8018389) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is entitled "methods and apparatus for improving the performance of an electronic device having one or more antennas." It involves an electronic device comprising a first conductive unit and a second conductive unit disposed such that a gap exists between the first component and the second component. The electronic device further includes one or more components disposed along the gap and configured to counteract one or more capacitance effects in the gap, wherein at least one of the first conductive unit and the second conductive unit represents a part of an antenna. By counteracting the capacitance effects in the gap, certain radiation attributes of the antenna, such as radiation efficiency, can be improved.

The one or more components are also employed to counteract one or more...

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Sep 13
Greg's Bite: HTC, drug testing app needed

By Greg Mills

The US president of HTC has been widely quoted in the press proclaiming his research indicates that iPhone is no longer cool with young people. Is there an Android app for finding out just what hard drug or alcoholic mind bender the guy is on?

Apparently, you hear what you want to hear and ignore the rest of what is said. It seems Martin Fichter, the regional manager for HTC asked some students, in a not-too-scientific survey, if they thought iPhone was still "cool." Some unnamed student thought since her dad had a iPhone, the cool factor had worn off for her. Poor baby. Get that girl a Zune and Kin phone right away. The Android is so Apple looking, I am sure she wouldn't want one of those. (See http://www.geekwire.com/2011/htc-boss-windows-phone-7-...

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Sep 13
Let's see third party support for iMovie

Overall, I like the latest version of iMovie ('11), finding it an improvement over iMovie '09, which was a big improvement over iMovie '08, which was a major downgrade from iMovie HD. However, the latest version still lacks one of the features I liked most about iMovie HD: third party support.

I wish Apple would allow third parties to release themes, special effects and transitions for the video editing app. Years ago that was possible. Companies such as GeeThree made some great extras for iMovie, and they're sorely missed.

Apple allows third party add-ons for iDVD and iWeb, as well as Pages and Keynote in the iWork suite. Why not iMovie?

At one point, Apple obviously wanted folks who wished to do anything beyond iMovie's rudimentary capabilities to move up to Final Cut Express. However, FC Express is gone, and we're left with iMovie and Final Cut Pro X (or iMovie Pro, as its called by those who hate the totally revamped software).

Most of us aren't...

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Sep 12
Greg's Bite: Windows on a Tablet?

By Greg Millls

Microsoft, stung by critics and stockholders alike, for missing the mobile revolution, is still playing catch-up on smart phones and now tablet computers. Apple is merging the iOS with OS X in many respects and Microsoft has taken a cue from Apple to do something similar with it's flagship PC operating system and at least the look and feel of the new Windows Mobile OS, according to reports.

What really caught Microsoft off guard when Apple blind sided them with the mobile reveloution called iPad was a sense of history. They had tried to port Windows XP to a tablet device and the entire project was scrapped since the "tablets" of the day were more like slabs, half the size of a door and WIndows for the PC really didn't scale worth a hoot. Bill Gates wisely decided to pull the plug on the entire concept.

That was then, this is now. Capacitive touch screens are so much better, smaller and cheaper than they were ten years ago;...

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Sep 12
More consumers spending on TV streaming, subscription...

Consumer attitudes toward video access are changing, moving away from ownership and rental models to streaming and subscription services, as connected CE and smart TVs Proliferate in the U.S. and Western Europe, according to Parks Associate (http://www.parkassociates.com).

The research group says that, in a six-month period, US online video subscribers spent about US$50 on average for video subscriptions while a la carte video typically garnered less than half that amount. From 2009 to 2010, the number of purchased movie and TV-show downloads dropped by 56% and movie-rental downloads fell by 70%.

The largest countries in Western Europe have penetration rates for connected CE in broadband households comparable to the U.S. Thirteen percent of broadband households in France, Italy, and Spain have an active smart TV, compared to 14% in the U.S. Germany has the lowest rates of device...

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Sep 09
Greg's Bite: WIndows 8 gets Fast Boot

Posted by Greg Mills

Always hopeful that they can do something right, Microsoft is launching Windows 8 within days. MSNBC, (the MS stands for Microsoft rather than the dreaded disease multiple scololsis), has recently posted a breathlessly hopeful story on the new PC OS. (Keep in mind, the author was told to write a story about a major product sold by the owner of his company.)

"One of the most obsessed over features of Windows is its boot time, according to Windows chief Stflagellatingeven Sinofsky. As such, he says in a blog post, Windows 8 will boot so fast it will make the relatively spry Windows 7 seem Vista sluggish". When I read the headline on that story I had a mental image that can be seen under my picture.... WIndows 8 being booted really fast. See:...

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Sep 09
Apple television sets, apps and retina displays

According to a new industry study, by 2015, 47% of flat panel TVs shipped will have Internet connected features, but the user will still need to connect them at home -- sometime that daunts many users. And this is where Apple will step in.

So far only 40% of connected TVs are connected, and these may well be the early adopters. There's a big opportunity here, and I believe that Apple will take advantage of it next year and unveil its own line of HDTVs. Yep, I've changed my opinion on this and now believe that Apple has the goal, and potential, of shaking up the television business.

"If retina display is ready for prime time (pardon the pun) on the iPad 3, the bigger breakthrough will be if they can deliver retina display to any screen size. If so, how difficult will it be for Apple to create a screen that looks (and acts) like a very, very large iPad?" says "The Sun." "Much of the initial dissent about the value of Apple's iPad when it first launched was that it was...

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Sep 08
Is Scott Forstall the 'next Steve Jobs'?

Neil Squillante, writing for "The TechnoLawyer" (http://macte.ch/1l48j) says the "next Steve Jobs" exists and is already working at Apple. Who is it? Tim Cook? Jonathan Ive? Nope. Squillante says it's Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Software. In fact, he thinks Forstall will follow Cook as CEO some five to 10 years down the road.

"With Apple's roadmap set for at least five years, the company doesn't need another Steve Jobs at the helm for a while," writes Squillante. "Instead, Apple needs a Steve Jobs waiting in the wings for its next pivot when it redefines computing … again."

Squillante doesn't knock Cook in his blog, but says Forstall is a "Steve Jobs creation" (having had Jobs as his mentor for years) and the likely long-term heir to the throne.

"He's also young [he's 42]. Shortly after graduating from Stanford in the early 1990s, he worked at NeXT, one of the two...

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Sep 08
Apple eyeing improved method for storing state...

An Apple patent (number 20110219024) for a persistent state database for operating system services has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a database is used to store user interface state information. The database is accessed by a key having a service ID field, a caller ID field, and a caller context ID field. The caller context ID is used to identify the context in the application program from which the user interface is called. In this manner, the system can differentiate between calls from different portions of the application program which can have different user expectations of the desirable user interface state. The inventors are Yan Arrouye, Sean J. Findley and Keith L. Mortensen.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A computer's operating system typically provides a variety of different services that are called upon by clients, e.g. application programs and other processes, to perform functions that may relate...

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Sep 08
Apple eyeing roaming point-of-sale system

An Apple patent (number 20110218870) for a communication method for a roaming point-of-sale system has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

It would include methods of communicating between the system components. A handheld computing device sends messages to a scanning device, which messages cause the scanning device to scan and return barcode data from a barcode scanner and payment card information from a magnetic strip reader. The messages include a header and a message, and the header designates the command given and the size of the message, among other useful information. The inventors are Khawaja Shams and Michael Maysmith.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In a store, there are often many sales associates out 'on the floor' meeting with customers, answering questions, etc. Eventually, though, when a customer decides to make a purchase the customer takes the item to a central point-of-sale location, where there is a cash...

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Sep 08
Apple patent involves programmable GPU

An Apple patent (number 20110216079) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and involves partial display updates in a windowing system using a programmable graphics processing unit. Techniques to generate partial display updates in a buffered window system in which arbitrary visual effects are permitted to any one or more windows (e.g., application-specific window buffers) are described.

Once a display output region is identified for updating, the buffered window system is interrogated to determine which regions within each window, if any, may effect the identified output region. Such determination considers the consequences any filters associated with a window impose on the region needed to make the output update. The inventors are Ralph Brunner and John Harper.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Methods, devices and systems in accordance with the invention provide a means for performing partial display updates in a windowing system that permits...

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Sep 07
Greg's Bite: Powerful iOS 5 Speech to Text

By Greg Mills

Apple's tendency to hold cards close to the vest is tempered only by the real world testing required to make sure everything just works. That is the case with iOS 5, due to be launched soon. The cellular giants like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile get the latest versions of iPhone software and hardware to do the "can you hear me now?" sort of thing around their networks. Rumors are that Sprint will also get the iPhone this time.

High tech product launches are commonly marred by glitches due to a lack of real world testing. Apple is far too wise to not get it right, most of the time.

Apple goes to extraordinary lengths to keep things under wraps until the official release. One of Steve Jobs' rage makers is leaks by suppliers and sales affiliates. As Apple knows all too well, some people just can't keep a secret. The latest iOS 5 release has finally included an element alluded to in previous versions: a magical feature called "...

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Sep 07
US consumer electronics outlook bodes well for Apple

Expect Apple's fortunes to keep growing as things as the tea leaves portend a good future for our favorite tech company.

The US consumer electronics devices market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$239.4 billion in 2011, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). This is expected to increase to US$276.6 billion by 2015 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.0%, driven by premium TV sets (perhaps an Apple HDTV), smartphones (such as the iPhone) and notebooks (such as the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro).

In 2010, sales of consumer electronics products such as smartphones and LED-backlit TV sets grew strongly as the recovery gathered traction. However, falling average prices in many product categories placed revenues and margins under pressure, with the average...

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Sep 06
Apple patents involve cursor position, digital albums...

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

Patent 8013839 involves methods for determining a cursor position from a finger contact with a touch screen display. Per the patent, aportable device with a touch screen display detects a contact area of a finger with the touch screen display and then determines a first position associated with the contact area. The cursor position of the finger contact is determined, at least in part, based on: the first position, one or more distances between the first position and one or more of the user interface objects; and one or more activation susceptibility numbers, each associated with a respective user interface object in the plurality of user interface objects. If the cursor position falls into the hidden hit region of a virtual push button on the touch screen display, the portable device is activated to perform operations associated with the virtual...

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Sep 06
Apple ought to check out the M-Disc

Apple seems determined to phase out built-in optical drives on Macs. However, if it reconsiders -- and I think it should as I'm convinced that the future of storage isn't all in the iCloud -- they might work with a fairly young company named "Millenniata" (http://millenniata.com/).

Millenniata makes the M-Disc, which the company says is designed to last for 1,00 years or more. Increasingly, data is stored on computer media such as hard disks, CDs and DVDs. Most of those won't last beyond 10 years, according to some studies.

Unlike computer hard-drives and optical discs (CD and DVD) that suffer from decay, destroying the files you were trying to preserve and protect, the M-Disc can't be overwritten, erased, or corrupted by natural processes, according to the folks at Millenniata. The M-Ready drive engraves your files onto the M-Disc.

Here's how Millenniata describes the technology: "These new...

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Sep 02
Consumer NAS market has low penetration, high growth

The Consumer Network-Attached Storage market has low household penetration across the globe but is growing in excess of 30% annually, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). I’ve long hoped for an Apple home server product. Now may be the perfect time for one.

The number of portable consumer electronics (CE) and computing devices in the home has grown over the last couple of years, and it will literally explode over the next few, notes Research and Markets. The need and use for NAS centralized storage will become more practical for one reason: accessing content.

In a network with multiple computing devices, sharing common storage, content access and media sharing becomes a key component of driving consumer value. Research and Markets believes that this will push worldwide consumer NAS unit shipments past 11 million in 2015. The research group...

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Sep 01
Greg's Bite: Sony launches tablets

By Greg Mills

Another day, another iPad killer launched. The iPad is safe for the time being. Sony launched a pair of tablets that depart from the hardbody, slab format of the Apple tablet. Sony put two smaller screens on either side of a hinge to allow that model to fold iin half for stowing it away. Clever, but won't that double the connectors and create a potential for failure down the line?

Typical of iPad killers, the new tablets are priced upon launch exactly as Apple prices its tablet. Within a few weeks of launch, most of the competitors have begun to cut prices to move their hardware. Sony is using a flavor of Android that is designed for tablets but there seems to be little compelling a person to buy one, other than it isn't Apple. Some people try to avoid Apple products due to some sort of subconscious desire to be beaten about the head and shoulders by their technology. (See...

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Sep 01
The Northern Spy: Motoroogle, TANSTAAFL and more

By Rick Sutcliffe

Motoroogle is the oldest/newest player/casualty in the mobile market, though perhaps not for the reasons some might suppose. On the one hand, the passing into new hands of the mobile telecom portion of Motorola represents more blood on Apple's click wheel.

On the other, the US$12.5B Google spent on the acquisition is more a defensive measure than a bold new step. When Google failed to win the bidding war for the Nortel patents, and worse, lost to Apple, Something Had To Be Done. This purchase is not about overspending on an entity that was about to pass from the scene. Rather it is about stocking up on patents.

The high tech landscape just now is reminiscent of the elementary school yard.

"Get out of my way or I'll punch you.

"Oh, yeah, if you do, my patent lawyer will hit you with ten suits."

"Nyah, nyah. My patent war chest is ten times the size of yours."

"Wanna bet? I just bought another ten...

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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."

... | Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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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21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP
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