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Feb 17
Apple files patent for new video/music interface

Apple has filed a patent (number 20110041060) for a video/music interface. Apparently, it would involve both Macs and the Apple TV.

The invention relates generally to the field of media and, in particular, to a media interface with enhanced features such as, for example, providing options while the playing of a media file or media broadcast is paused. A system in accordance with the present invention may include one or more processors, memory from which the processor may fetch instructions according to a clock operating at a frequency, a display device, and one or more programs stored in the memory, with instructions to open a media file, play content of the media file, render graphically on the display device the played content of the media file, pause the played content of the media file, and render graphically on the display device options available during the pause. The inventors are Windy Chien, Robert Henry Kondrk, Gary Stewart and Jeff F. Southard.

Here's...

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Feb 17
Apple eyes info retrieval system that combines search...

According to Apple patent 2010040739 for a portable browsing interface for information retrieval the company is considering changes to Mac OS X that will beef up search features by combining the functionality of a full-text search engine with the flexibility of a browser.

The patent involves an integrated searching/browsing mechanism employs user-constructed information hierarchies that represent a cognitive framework for the organization of information. The hierarchies are independent of the information itself. This feature permits them to be shared among multiple users, and applied to any of a variety of different sources of information.

The hierarchical organization that is provided by the framework gives the user the ability to browse around any available document database in a manner that is intuitive to the user. Two or more hierarchies can be combined to locate documents which match the criteria of both hierarchies, and thereby refine search results to an...

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Feb 17
Apple patent is for Mini DisplayPort

Apple seems to be planning a new version of the Mini DisplayPort, according to a new patent (number 20110039443) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves connectors having a smaller profile. These connectors are useful as a reduced form factor DisplayPort connector. Keys on a receptacle are used to indicate when an insert is fully engaged. Edges of the receptacle and insert are chamfered in such a way as to prevent the pins of the connector from being damaged when an improper insertion is attempted. User experience is also enhanced by the use of one or more latches.

As the connector is inserted, the latch provides resistance that builds until the connector is inserted a certain distance, after which the latch enters a cutout portion of the insert thus releasing the pressure and letting the user know the connection has been made. Fingers are employed to provide mechanical stability and electrical connection between receptacle and insert. The...

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Feb 17
Future MagSafe connectors may also send, receive data

An Apple patent (number 20110038582) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office, showing that Apple is working on a future MagSafe connector for portable Macs that would allow it to send and receive data, as well as power the device.

The patent is for circuits, apparatus, and methods that provide a connector system that can supply both power and data to a mobile computing or other type of device using a single connection. Further examples also provide a power and data adapter that can provide power and data to a mobile computing device using a single cable. Further examples provide an easy disengagement when a cable connected to the connector is pulled. One such example provides a magnetic connector that uncouples without binding when its cord is pulled. Another example prevents power from being provided at a connector insert until the connector insert is placed in a connector receptacle. The inventors are John C. DiFonzo, Chris Ligtenberg and Michael Culbert....

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Feb 17
Apple's digital subscription model likely to...

Apple may have finally bitten off more than it can chew with its "my way or the high way" approach. This week Apple unveiled its new subscription model for the Apple App Store, confirming that magazine and newspaper publishers will be forced to pony up 30% of their cover price.

It's nice that Apple is making it easier for consumers to buy subscriptions and may help publishers find new subscribers. But 30% is too steep a fee and is almost certainly going to squash any hopes of a digital publishing revolution that will "save" newspapers and magazines. The margins for digital content are simply too thin for this to be acceptable to a majority of publishers.

There are other drawbacks to Apple's plans as well. A publisher can learn the name, e-mail address and zip code of in-app subscribers only if the user agrees to share that information. Most of us won't do that, but, traditionally, publishers have used this info to, among other things, target advertisers. Also,...

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Feb 17
Apple patents range from call replacement to Rubik...

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

Patent number 20110041183 is for a system and method for call replacement. Disclosed are systems, computer-implemented methods, and computer-readable storage media for obfuscating a function call. The method receives a computer program having an annotated function and determines prolog instructions for setting up a stack frame of the annotated function and epilog instructions for tearing down the stack frame. The method places a first portion of the prolog instructions in the computer program preceding a jump to the annotated function and a second portion of the prolog instructions at a beginning of the annotated function. The method places a first portion of the epilog instructions at an end of the annotated function and a second portion of the epilog instructions in the computer program after the jump. Executing the first and second portions of the...

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Feb 16
'To the cloud'? Not entirely, not ever

In addition to reviving the rumor (which may or may not turn out to be true) of an iPhone mini, the "Wall Street Journal" thinks Apple may eliminate internal storage altogether. The solution, per the "WSJ"? Making MobileMe -- now US$99 per year --a free service that would serve as a "locker" for personal memorabilia such as photos, music and videos, eliminating the need for devices to carry memory.

I don't think that's going to happen. If it does, it's going to result in a solution that won't please a lot of people. Most people don't want all their data in "the cloud." The cloud should be used in addition to current storage methods, not as a replacement for them. There's no way I'm entrusting all my data -- tunes, videos, photos, etc. -- for total safekeeping on someone else's servers, even if those servers are in Apple's in-the-works, massive facility in North Carolina.

Also, as "Ars technica" notes (http...

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Feb 15
Apple patents involve cable grounding, hyperlink info

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 7889139 is for a handheld electronic device with cable grounding and involves iOS devices.

According to the patent, the conductive elements may form an antenna ground plane. One or more antennas for the handheld electronic device may be formed from the ground plane and one or more associated antenna resonating elements. Transceiver circuitry may be connected to the resonating elements by transmission lines such as coaxial cables. Ferrules may be crimped to the coaxial cables. A bracket with extending members may be crimped over the ferrules to ground the coaxial cables to the housing and other conductive elements in the ground plane.

The ground plane may contain an antenna slot. A dock connector and flex circuit may overlap the slot in a way that does not affect the resonant frequency of the slot. Electrical components may be isolated from the antenna using isolation elements...

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Feb 15
Mobile Internet on the rise, but not yet threatening...

I've said it before and now a survey backs me up: despite mobile device functionality becoming ever more sophisticated, research by mobile media company BuzzCity (http://www.buzzcity.com/) shows that mobiles are actually sustaining, not replacing, consumer demand for computers.

The global research, which surveyed 5,000 people, found that computing tools remain important and even aspirational, for mobile Internet users. Fifty-one percent of mobile Internet users don't have daily access to fixed line Internet, and 23% don't use the fixed Internet at all.

Of those surveyed, 21% plan to buy a computer accessory in the next 12 months and 36% have already tried out tablets. So although ultimately mobiles may overtake computers for Internet browsing, there are absolutely no signs that the computer will disappear.

Mobile gaming is a whole different ball game, however, and the indications are that...

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Feb 14
Greg's bite: The Nokia/Microsoft deal

By Greg Mills

If anything, the apparently sudden meltdown at Nokia's software division where the CEO threw up his hands in dismay, then fired hundreds of software staffers who had worked there for years,  shows how profoundly Apple has shaken up the cell phone industry and that half-baked won't sell. 

Nokia is writing off literally billions of dollars of R&D investment, dropping development of the new MeeGo OS and announcing also they are dropping further development of the long time Nokia OS for dumb phones called Symbian. This a major development that caused Nokia stock to drop like a rock. Ironically, Microsoft stock also dropped right along with Nokia's. Nokia hopes to sell 150,000,000 handsets featuring and abandoned OS. Good luck, Nokia.

At one time Nokia owned half the world market for cell phone hardware, but that giant share is plummeting dramatically as dumb phones are still out there, but steadily declining as people replace...

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Feb 14
Digital publishing success won't be tied to one...

Buy-anywhere electronic versions of books, magazines and newspapers will drive the digital publishing market, according to ABI Research’s (http://www.abiresearch.com) latest study of "Digital Publishing for Portable Devices," which foresees digital content sales growing to nearly $16.5 billion worldwide in 2016, more than five times their 2010 level.

The study says the variety of applications that allow people to buy this digital content reassures them that they won’t be tied to a single store -- or device -- for content. If the gang at ABI is right, Apple won't be happy as it likes to tie its digital content to the iTunes Store.

Despite the enormous media focus on iPads, Kindles, Nooks and other eReaders, the market for digital content will not be tied to the success or failure of any single one of these devices, according to the new study, says ABI Research. The Sellers Research Firm...

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Feb 11
Greg's bite: At Apple, the details matter (take...

By Greg Mills

The uproar was tremendous when Apple refused to support Adobe Flash with the iOS. I will admit some frustration as web pages loaded on iPad with the admonition to load Flash to view the content. I knew I couldn't do that. Oh, well, I figured I didn't need to see that content any way or bother with web sites that didn't support compatible graphic display software.  

Steve Jobs took the extraordinary step of explaining why Adobe Flash wasn't up to the standards Apple required for content players in great detail. While everyone has to admit that Jobs is as anal as you can get, that means Apple product users don't have to be that way to get products that are completely polished and just work. Jobs has taken the frustration out of our experience for us. Thank you, Steve.

Adobe wrung its hands in anguish, claiming everything from industrial warfare to malicious slander. Recently, Adobe launched an...

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Feb 11
HP's new TouchSmart could offer a glimpse at a...

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that the use of touch screen technology on Macs will be via devices such as the Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse, not by touching the screen itself. We'll see; however, if Apple is planning a touchscreen desktop Mac, the iMac would be the most likely choice. And HP's new TouchSmart PCs might offer a glimpse at what Apple has in mind.

The TouchSmart Consumer PC and TouchSmart 9300 Elite Business PC sport a 60-degree reclining display, enabling users to adjust the display’s position "for a comfortable user experience." They recline from upright to almost flat.

James Mouton, senior vice president, Desktop Organization, Personal Systems Group, HP, says the ergonomic design enables users to do more and share more such as "creating art projects, to playing games, to enabling natural front-desk interaction where eye contact is important." He says they're ideal for customer-facing environments in hospitality, retail and healthcare.

Both the...

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Feb 11
Greg's bite: The Daily -- just a hyped up news...

By Greg Mills

As with a lot of us who have embraced the iPad experience, I downloaded The Daily app and have been using it each day to read the first virtual newspaper.  While certainly things commonly improve over time, I am reluctantly of the opinion that The Daily lacks any killer features that would cause me to pony up my hard earned US$40 a year.

The biggest problem all web sites faces is the revenue issue. Subscription is certainly one way to go ,and perhaps it will work. The problem is that the web surfing population has gotten used to great content offered in abundance for free. The problem of finding a way to extract revenue from readers is based upon a couple of issues. First is how to painlessly move the money and then finding compelling reasons for people to pay.

The free download vs the paid download goes back to music and the iTunes Store. Back when you could steal music using Napster most people began to figure copyrights were...

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Feb 10
Greg's bite: Apple, the new cell phone company?

Apple's Tony Fadell is named as the inventor of a novel method of using various existing cell phone company's excess capacity cobbled together to create a new Apple branded virtual cell phone network.  

The concept is that as Apple's newest iPhones and coming iPads are now able to operate on all cell phone networks around the world, buying excess network capacity in large blocks makes sense. Then Apple could resell that network access to consumers at retail prices per minute and pocket the difference. Some predicted Apple would buy an existing cellular network to get into the cellular business. That won't happen, but this new concept just might work.

Think of this as an extension of the digital download concept Apple is working on cornering with it's new data centers. This can all be done using the newly patented Apple technology without building even one cell phone tower, anywhere.  The patent was issued yesterday and is US patent #7,885,654. I have provide a link...

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Feb 10
Apple patent involves color correction of electronic...

Apple is eyeing ways to beef up the color correction on its electronic displays. A patent (number 20110032275) for color correction of electronic displays utilizing gain controls has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It generally relates to display correction and, more specifically, to correcting the displayed color by reducing its dependency on various variables, such as temperature.

A video-rendering chip performs gain correction on received display input, based on a display temperature, to produce output values that are shown on the display. The video-rendering chip includes multipliers, a microprocessor, and a memory. The microprocessor receives a display temperature from a sensor, determines gain correction coefficients that correspond to the display temperature, and provides the correction coefficients to the multipliers. The multipliers then multiply the display input by the correction coefficients to produce the output values. The microprocessor may...

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Feb 10
Greg's bite: Jonathan Ive, Apple under the hood

By Greg Mills

The team at Apple has no shortage of talent. Jonathan Ive is the public face of the industrial design at Apple. Being vice president of Design at Apple has given Ive the opportunity to create designs that are part of the lives of people all around the world.  Even the Queen of England has an iPod and surely an iPad. The elegance of Ive designs is perfectly in line with the minimalist tastes of Steve Jobs.

Coming from England to the US in 1992 to work for Apple, Ive's designs so intrigued Jobs when he returned from Siberia that in no time, the famous Jobs/Ive team were working on killer new concepts in computers and the rest of the product line at Apple.

Some have suggested that Ive might be in line for CEO of Apple when Steve Jobs retires.  I think that would be a waste of his energy as, Jobs aside, what it takes to be a great CEO isn't creativity in industrial design. A good CEO could provide the environment for Ive to thrive in...

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Feb 10
What I'd like to see in an Apple television

Along with my "MacNews/MacTech" columnist/compadre, Greg Mills, I'm dubious (and have been, for a long time) that Apple will start making its own television sets, though Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is sure the company will enter this market (though no earlier than 2012). Let's assume he's right. What do I want in an Apple television?

The number one thing that would make me buy one right off the bat: a box with the "innards" and technology to allow Apple to really take on the cable and satellite companies. I'd like an Apple HDTV with a built-in Internet connection and software especially designed to connect to iTV, an offshoot of iTunes.

iTV (long the rumored name of the Apple TV before it arrived) is my moniker for an imagined Apple service based on the ginormous data facility the company is building in North Carolina, that would offer a la carte pricing for subscriptions to TV shows. With cable and satellite packages, you have to pay for a bundle of programs...

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Feb 10
Greg's bite: slate city and no iPad killer yet

By Greg Mills

A lot of what Apple has done is incremental. They build upon one successful concept to support another. The iTunes method of selling digital material set the stage for the app store that creates the environment that is making iPhone and iPad so hard to beat. It takes more than a capable device to make a platform viable.

Dull continued their losing streak by pulling a high-end lapflop off the market. Intended to compete with hig- end (Apple) portable computers the market pumped another dose of reality into them. When you sell US$500 laptops there isn't enough profit left in them matter.  No one wants to pay for a top end laptop and walk away with just a Dell. They have created their own corporate image, and it isn't high end.  

HP yesterday launched two cell phone and announced a line of slate computers that appear to be reasonably viable but held back on announcing price points. At this stage of the game, they certainly know what...

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Feb 09
Greg's bite: Nokia's 'MeeGo' no-go

Well, more blood in the water as Nokia's last best chance to compete with Apple's iPhone gets the ax. Nokia, in an uncharacteristic public wringing of the hands, has admitted defeat in the smartphone market as Apple and Google have battered Nokia into a declining market position.

The CEO of Nokia likened their situation as being like a man on a burning oil platform: do you jump into the cold raging sea or wait to be burned to death? Presumably, the dramatic image is likened to the choices of going forward with the troubled proprietary OS dubbed MeeGo, based upon a variation of Linux and being burned to a crisp by Apple's iOS or Google's Android or jumping into the sea by dropping development of their own smartphone OS and going Android or even, ouch ... Windows Mobile 7?!

Long the industry leader, Nokia was caught flatfooted as Apple taught the world what a modern touch screen smartphone had to be. Nokia, RIM and others haven't had a chance to catch their breath as...

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Feb 09
Greg's bite: Tim Cook, Apple under the hood

By Greg Mills

As the tech world waits with baited breath for information on the iPad 2, the iPhone 5 and new MacBooks, much attention has been focused on Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook recently. Mr. Cook is famously filling in for Apple CEO Steve Jobs who is out of the office for health reasons. We wish good health and long life to Mr. Jobs. 

All eyes are on the Apple products that wow us with cool features and the sparkle of innovation.  If one looks closely at Apple's manufacturing operations as the engine of what will soon become the most valuable company in the world, the face of Tim Cook stares back at you.  

Mr. Cook has been the supply chain guy at divisions of IBM and Compaq before coming to Apple in 1998. Before Tim Cook, there was a lot of waste at Apple due to a sloppy supply chain where excess parts were wasted and late product releases hampered maximum growth of the company.

When you consider that the parts for an...

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Feb 09
So when will we see Sandy Bridge Macs?

I was expecting to see Macs packing Sandy Bridge processors pretty soon, but that timetable is almost certainly pushed back slightly due to Intel's problems with the Sandy Bridge chip.

To be more specific, I was expecting a Sandy Bridge refresh of the MacBook Pro line in late February/early March and an update of the iMac line in late March/early April. Now it seems those launches will be delayed at least a couple of weeks. Assuming of course, I'm right in guessing Apple's timetable.

Of course, Apple hasn't announced any Sandy Bridge-based systems, but they're certainly coming. The MacBook lineup consists of aging (by computer standards) Core 2 Duo processors (MacBook, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro) and previous-generation Core i5 and i7 processors (15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros). The iMac uses last-generation Core i3 and Core i5 chips.

According to "CNET" (http://macte.ch/ZAzAY), Intel...

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Feb 08
Greg's bite: Zoom, PlayBook killer features

By Greg Mills

According to several articles I have read, the Zoom slate computer Motorola is launching has yet another serious problem I missed for yesterday's article. For what ever reason, Motorola didn't make a Wi-Fi only version of Zoom.  

What makes the situation even more of a problem for them is that you have to pay for 3G to get the WiFi to work. I thought someone had some wires crossed, but this appears to be true. Sell Motorola stock, as it is going to take a beating.

Motorola thinks it can sell a less capable device for more than Apple? Get real. Apple products are the gold standard that consumers compare "Johnny come lately" products to. Even worse for Motorola and RIM, the iPad 2 is just around the corner and suddenly Zoom will disappear from the press as iPad stories dominate.

Not to be left out, RIM also built in a killer feature. I don't mean a killer sales feature, I mean a product killer...

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Feb 08
Apple wins patents for Ping, more

Apple has been granted patents for its "Ping" service and more by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 7886072 involves network-assisted remote media listening. In other words, Ping. Introduced with iTunes 10, Ping is a music-oriented social network for following your favorite artists and friends to discover what music they’re talking about, listening to and downloading.

iTunes Ping lets you post your thoughts and opinions, your favorite albums and songs, the music you’ve downloaded from iTunes, plus view concert listings and tell your friends which concerts you plan to attend. Per the patent, improved approaches for media listening amongst different users are disclosed.

For example, methods, systems or computer program code can enable users to have a remote listening experience in real time. Advantageously, a remote user at a remote client device can in effect listen to a particular digital media asset that is being played at a local client device...

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Feb 08
Is there a need for a 7-inch iOS device?

In the past I've expressed doubts that there's a need for a 7-inch iPad -- and Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said as much (though the rumors still abound). However, my buddy and idea guy, J. Scott Anderson, thinks there's room for a 7-inch iPod touch.

Scott says the main reason isn't for consumers -- though there are possibilities there. And perhaps seven inches isn't the right size, but a device situated between the iPad and the iPhone is needed, he says. Perhaps this is something that is sold as a VAR [value added reseller] device or even directly to manufacturers.

Here's Scott's reasoning: "Think about the millions of autos that are sold. The 10-inch iPad is too big for the dash and for the headrests. The iPhone size is too small. What about floor sales staff? The iPad certainly works as does the iPhone; however, I keep seeing a device between the two as a better item to carry around for taking orders. There are a lot of other possibilities, but let's focus on autos....

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Feb 08
Greg's bite: Verizon dual band iPhone 4.5

By Greg Mills

While everyone knew the Verizon iPhone was going to have a different radio chip than the AT&T iPhone, the new dual band chip set they used wasn't expected until the iPhone 5 by most observers.  

The Qualcomm MD6600dual band chips were available and apparently Apple got a good enough deal on them to use in the new Verizon iPhone. That chip has GPS built in, which reduces the cost and complications for including location services.

It appears likely to me that the new iPhone 4.5 will also run on the AT&T network, but not the other way around. The SIM card in the dual band phone is done away with and must be held in ROM or some other method of electronic serial number identification baked in silicon. It will be interesting to see what all this means from a marketing standpoint.

SInce Apple has gone to the new chip that explains what the game plan is. Universal radio chips mean universal iPhones and Universal iPad 2. ...

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Feb 07
Greg's bite: The Doom of Zoom

By Greg Mills

With a virtual monopoly on slate computers running a modern touch screen operating system, Apple has lapped the competition; with the release of the iPad 2, Apple will likely hold that commanding market share for some time to come. A one-year lead in high tech is unprecedented for a killer electronic product category.

The problem competing slate computers have is that Apple has more or less bought up the world supply of touch screens in the resolutions and sizes they want. Then, until recently, Apple's in-house A4 chip set was hard to match. Intel, a year later, has finally come up with silicon to do the trick. Since Microsoft completely dropped the ball on continuing the Windows/Intel business model for the slate computer and mobile markets that made the PC market work all these years, Google has revamped their Android OS for smart phones to accommodate modern slate computers.

Motorola, wanting to stem the flow of red ink in...

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Feb 07
Greg's bite: AT&T's dumb customer...

By Greg Mills

At a time when AT&T appears to be working overtime to batten down the hatches due to the launch of iPhone on the Verizon network, one would think they would be very nice to loyal existing post pay iPhone customers. That would be thinking wrong. 

I have currently have two AT&T accounts, one each for my iPhone 3Gs and iPad, my wife has an AT&T dumb phone account and we have her younger sister on a fourth AT&T account to support her iPhone. That amount to a total of four active AT&T accounts that have never been late in four years. How grateful is AT&T? Not very appreciative it seems. Today AT&T has royally ticked me off.  I have spent half an hour on their web site and two hours on the phone with nothing changed but my blood pressure.

My sister-in-law traded in her old iPhone 1 that I gave her a couple of years ago for a new iPhone 4 at her local AT&T store. She paid the $18 to activate her new phone...

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Feb 07
Shock! iPad early adopters prefer free content

The iPad is still a ways off from becoming a “fourth screen” and creating new revenue streams for content providers, according to Knowledge Networks’ (http://www.knowledgenetworks.com). Why? Not surprisingly because people prefer free content!

The "How People Use Media: iPads -- A First Look" report from Knowledge Networks' surveyed 205 iPad owners and users, and found early adopters are not demonstrating unique behaviors: six of the seven top reported activities are familiar ones, like web surfing and email. According to the study, 76% of owners use the iPad at least five days a week, while 55% of owners use the device every day.

But these users are bringing the free Internet mindset to the iPad, and only a small portion of users is willing to pay for content. This is a trend worth watching, as the iPad’s advertising-supported media model is different from that of any other...

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Feb 04
Greg's bite: why no Apple television sets

By Greg Mills

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster continues to insist Apple is going to go whole hog into producing TV sets. I think that is extremely unlikely for common sense reasons that are hard to rebut. The biggest reason is that LCD, LED, 3D or whatever display format you might mention is already being sold so cheaply there isn't enough money in it for Apple to be interested.

I recently bought a Visio 55-inch LCD set at Sam's for US$898 on Black Friday. And I invested $120 more for a BlueRay player with Visio Internet Applications.  Apple is used to margins that would curl the hair of most electronics companies. Even at a discounter like Sam's, you know there has to be some margin for Sam's to pay the folks that work there and keep the lights on.  There simply isn't enough money left in the TV industry for Apple to be diverted into selling a commodity item. Short of buying Visio or Sony, there are differences in the markets that would divert...

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Feb 04
Greg's bite: Nokia opens up to Windows, Android?

By Greg Mills

Formerly the undisputed world leader in cell phones, Nokia is falling on hard times and has seen its market share and stock crash as Apple and Google have surged. Nokia has reportedly spent US$1.5 billion on its proprietary Symbian OS only to see it spurned, even in Europe, Nokia's home ground.  

Nokia has been working on a more advanced smart phone OS called MeeGo (something must be lost in the translation) but is hedging its bet looking to sell handsets that run Windows 7 and even Android. Nokia hired a former Microsoft executive, Stephen Elop who has overseen the decline.  Talk about injecting the wrong DNA.

The distinction here is that dumb phones are slowly losing ground as smartphones become cheaper. The price spread on dumb phones and smartphones has recently almost been erased  as the competition in the smartphone market has washed out the less desirable phones.

Android and Windows 7 phones are now around $100 with...

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Feb 04
Is the iPad the end of the laptop?

In an interview with "PaidContent" (http://macte.ch/UnxE7), Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp. says the iPad is end of the laptop. But, wait, I thought the laptop was supposed to be the end of the desktop.

Talking about Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Murdoch said, "Here we have the man who invented the personal computer, then the laptop. He’s now destroying them. That is an amazing life."

The Sellers Research Group (that's me) doesn't think the iPad will kill the laptop nor will the laptop kill the desktop. Here's my predictions:

° The iPad will cannibalize some laptop sales. For those who want to mostly consume content (surf the web, check their email, log onto Facebook, watch videos, listen to their tunes, etc.), the iPad works just fine. It's also okay for a limited amount of typing, especially if you add an external keyboard. However, the iPad is still a device better suited to content...

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Feb 03
Apple planning its own iPad stand/case?


Think there aren't enough iPad stands and cases on the market? Well, Apple may be planning its own as a new patent (number 20110025176) for a multiple position stand has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A support mechanism for supporting an object on a surface is disclosed. The support mechanism includes a joint connected to the object; and a stand connected to the joint. The joint may selectively rotate to allow the stand to support the object on the surface in: a first position comprising a landscape orientation at a first angle between the object and the surface, a second position comprising a landscape orientation at a second angle between the object and the surface, a third position comprising a portrait orientation at a third angle between the object and the surface, and a fourth position comprising a portrait orientation at a fourth angle between the object and the surface. The inventors are Stephen McClure and Joshua Banko.

Here's Apple's...

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Feb 03
Greg's bite: iPad 2 sighted?; electronic...

By Greg Mills

It is thought an iPad 2 was sighted at the launch of The Daily. That iPad sported a front facing camera, which made it at least a prototype of what is to come. Eddy Cue from Apple, Rupert Murdoch and other publishing execs were there to launch the first salvo in the battle of the digital divide that will make or break the publishing industry as we know it.

My editor and I both loaded the Daily app and checked out the content. While Dennis noticed a number of features I didn't investigate, I noticed that the new electronic newspaper is very thin so far on tech stories. There was one page with short paragraphs about tech issues of the day and none of them led to any further content.

If you have an iPad, The Daily is free for two weeks, so you have nothing to lose to try it out.  Go to the Apple App Store and touch the Top Charts Star shaped button at the bottom of the screen and the #1 Free app is...

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Feb 03
First impressions of The Daily

I downloaded the first edition of The Daily, the first magazine/newspaper developed for specifically for the iPad (though it will come to other tablets eventually) yesterday. I'm impressed and will be a subscriber. Also, I'll watch the success -- or lack of it-- of The Daily carefully, as I think this could be the publication that truly launches the digital magazine age.

The Daily scores high marks for its features and pricing. The newspaper features traditional text-based stories, video and interactive content. One of its coolest features is 360-degree photos, which span around in an arc. Articles can be shared on services like Facebook or Twitter, or sent via e-mail. You can also record text or audio comments for a story.

There are other interactive elements. In a review of the Oregon Trail game in the Arts & Life section, you can click on an icon that offers tips for winning at the game. Even some of the ads are interactive. The LandRover ad has an embedded...

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Feb 02
The future of publishing is digital if ...

I'm one of those folks who believe that the future of magazines and newspapers will, at least to a significant extent, be determined by how publications adapt to devices such as the iPad. There will always be room for print magazines and newspapers (at least some) -- as there will always be printed books -- but most publications are going to have to have a digital option to thrive, if not survie.

The main attraction -- for me, anyway -- is that I can carry dozens of newspapers and magazines around with me on one, small device (my iPad). On my recent jaunt to San Francisco for the Macworld Expo, I had over a dozen ebooks, as well as videos and albums, available for two days' worth of travel. Talk about lightening your load.

Also, digital publications offer a "green" solution that can cut back on paper usage.

A lot of the success of electronic newspapers and magazines depends on price. A digital publication should cost half as much as the print version, as there...

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Feb 02
Greg's bite: what happens if the Internet is...

By Greg Mills

The Internet has become so intwined into the infrastructure of our lives and business that the thought of it going down is hard to imagine. When the electricity goes off during a storm, there is a sudden realization that many of the things we take for granted don't work without power.  

An interruption in power for even a few hours is hard, but power off for a few days or weeks is intolerable. Food goes bad, houses freeze or get so hot they are intolerable, and other unforeseen issues pop up. Gas pumps need power to even fill up a car. 

The Internet going down won't be so immediately disruptive for home users as a power loss, but commerce and industry will be hard hit in ways we can't fully anticipate. So much of the world of electronics is hooked up by way of the Internet we can't imagine the havoc that may occur.  Power switching system, rail controls, military command and control systems, industrial systems and obscure...

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Feb 02
Greg's bite: smartphone humor

By Greg Mills

I spend several hours a day surfing the Internet, for all sorts of reasons. News, tech information and Apple news tend to be my focus. Sometimes I run across tech stories that are so humorous I can't imagine anyone taking them at face value.

Windows 7 iSkin? Yesterday, a story showed up in the press regarding a skin that converts the look and feel of an Apple iPhone into a Microsoft Windows 7 phone? This can only be done on a jailbroken iPhone. People who think themselves smarter than the folks at Apple who designed the most desirable smartphone on the planet are the only ones who might consider jailbreaking in the first place. But how many of them are so anal they prefer a WIndows 7 look and feel?

To me, especially now that the AT&T exclusive marketing program is over, any reasonable motivation for jailbreaking is irrational. To make a BMW look like a Bulgarian Yugo sub-compact, featureless car is beyond my...

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Feb 01
Apple patents range from doc summarization to...

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

Patent 7882450 is for interactive document summarization that allows the user to continuously control the amount of detail to be included in a document summary. The invention relates to the field of document summarization which is otherwise known as automatic abstracting wherein an extract of a document (i.e., a selection of sentences from the document) can serve as an abstract. The inventors are Jeremy J. Bornstein, Douglass R. Cutting, John D. Hatton and Daniel E. Rose.

Patent 7880729 is for a center button isolation ring. Selection button isolation arrangements for use with electronic devices are presented including: a selection pad forming a substantially planar surface disposed about a first axis, the selection pad having a pad top surface, the pad top surface configured to receive a user input, the selection pad...

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Feb 01
Greg's bite: tech buffoon roundup

By Greg Mills

Yesterday I expounded upon the rant of the CEO of netgear, Patrick Lo. The second string hardware manufacturing company's chief executive should be careful what he says around reporters. After the press widely quoted him seemingly gloating over Steve Jobs illness, he has spent the last 24 hours desperately back peddling and trying to take back his hurtful words.  

Classic foot in mouth syndrome. I know, because I do that myself, on occasion. What you read in this space is filtered by my editor, since my vocabulary and sarcasm sometimes exceed my tact.

The prospect of Apple "opening up" as Lo demanded is a remote possibility. Apple becoming just another Netgear sort of company, and Mr. Lo riding Apple's product line to greater profits is even more remote. He actually did state that some recent Netgear sales were related to people with iPads using them in the bathroom and needing another router to reach there.  Gee...

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Feb 01
Apple needs to beef up iBookstore as ereading...

Apple's iBookstore seems to be off to a good start. But as ereading grows in popularity, Apple needs to expand its offerings.

At launch, the iBookstore had 60,000 titles (I'm not sure how many it currently has). Amazon says it has 450,000 titles. Apple has a lot of catching up to do.

In a recent study to understand how portable, multi-function devices or MFDs (e.g., iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android devices, etc) are changing consumer book reading habits, consumers who utilized these devices expressed a tremendous affinity for them, struggling to come up with any significant shortcomings to reading ebooks on them. These consumers also revealed their specific preference for MFDs, usage occasions and their ebook purchasing habits.

The two-part study with over 300 MFD owners who have read an ebook in the past six months, was conducted by online qualitative research firm iModerate Research Technologies and research and publishing consultancy, Brock Associates. A...

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Feb 01
Greg's bite: why Android has peaked

By Greg Mills

When the Motorola/Apple cell phone came out in the summer of 2005, it was a great disappointment to both Apple and Apple fans. You might as well have taped an iPod to a standard cell phone. It sucked. Apple, by that point in time, already knew to do a cell phone right; they would have to start from scratch. The first thing they did was junk their cell phone engineering relationship with Motorola and scrap conventional notions of what a cell phone was.  

Then, the engineers and designers at Apple began to put the combination of novel software and touch screen hardware together that became the first iPhone. Since that time, Apple has taught Motorola a thing or two about smart cell phones. For that matter, every manufacturer of cell phones has been taken to the wood shed by Apple for a sound beating.  

The punishment continues as everyone in the cell phone industry has been made virtual  roadkill by the great Mac truck with an Apple...

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Jan 31
Greg's bite: Netgear's CEO rants

By Greg Mills

Wow, can you still make wine with sour grapes? I read an article published in an Australia-based publication with an interview with Netgear CEO Patrick Lo. Lo ranted and raved about the impending doom of Apple due to "closed up products." Translated from Australian, he means it really ticks him off that Netgear is locked out of much of the Apple market.

He attacks Apple CEO Steve Jobs personally for making business decisions that Lo laments as "dominating the market and shutting out competitors" more as an ego thing rather than a smart business decision. Ouch, what terrible thing to do to your poor competitors. To add insult to injury, it seems Jobs wouldn't return his phone calls. He states that "Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to to open up the platform".  

First of all, Steve Jobs is just sick, not dead, and we can be sure he is dealing with...

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Jan 31
Will your next desktop, notebook or tablet be virtual?

Imagine a relatively inexpensive, light, thin-client device that accesses your data center from anywhere, takes on the image of a typical desktop, provides all the appropriate data and applications you need throughout the day, and then reverts instantly to the proverbial tabula rasa when shut down -- or when the power goes out. 

And, since no data is stored on the device, there is no risk of having proprietary data fall into the wrong hands if the device is lost or stolen. Is this a dream come true? According to Logicalis (http://www.us.logicalis.com), an international provider of integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services,the answer is yes, the virtual desktop interface (VDI) can be just that.

 “VDI is changing the way people are thinking about the desktop,” says Logicalis’ virtualization expert Bill Parker. “There will always be a need for...

| Read more »
Jan 29
Reporter's notebook: closing thoughts

Macworld Expo 2011 -- the annual trade show in San Francisco touting Apple-related products -- ends today (Saturday), and Macworld 2012 is slated for Jan. 26-28

This year's show was successful and very energetic with all the vendors and the visitors (an estimated 26,000) getting up close and personal. The only "major" vendor from past shows was with Hewlett-Packard. However, not everyone was impressed.

"This isn't a real computer or software show anymore -- it's a software and accessories show," Apple developer and book author Tony Bove told InternetNews.com (...

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Jan 28
Reporter's notes: a report from the Macworld...

Thursday saw Moscone Center West packed as the exhibit hall opened its doors for Macworld 2011. It will be interesting to see what sort of crowds attend today and Saturday (the last day of the show).

One mini-trend I noticed was Asian companies looking for US distributors for their products. One was the MacTiVia (http://www.awindinc.com/mctivia/). It's an US$199 device that that can show all the content of your Mac -- as well as Windows computers, if you care -- on your TV wirelessly. You can control up to eight computers with your mouse and/or keyboard. You can share any content from your computers with your friends and family in your living room.



The MacTiVia also works as a home wireless access point. You can use it to, for example, use your big screen TV to play Mac games, surf the web from your couch, access TV shows/movies online, and more. You can also use your iPhone as a...

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Jan 27
Apple patent is for dual anodization surface treatment

An Apple patent (number 20110017602) for dual anodization surface treatment has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. A metal surface treated to have two anodized layers or regions may be used in future electronic devices from Apple.

The surface treatment may include performing a first anodization process to create a first anodized layer, removing the first anodized layer at select locations, and performing a second anodization process to create a second anodized layer at the select locations. The first and second anodized regions may have different decorative properties, such as color, and different structural properties, such as degree of abrasion resistance. One of the anodization processes may be hard anodization and the other may be standard anodization. The inventor is Jivan K. Zhosla.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: The present invention relates to treatments for a surface of an article and an article with a treated surface...

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Jan 27
Reporter's Notebook: sunny in San Fran

The weather is great here in San Francisco. It was sunny and warm on Tuesday. Back in my hometown of Nashville, it's cold with two inches of snow. This is our third (or is it fourth?) snowfall of more than an inch of the white stuff -- and that's a rarity for Music City.

Sure, those of you who live in colder climes may laugh. But when you're not used to very much snow, you're not prepared to handle it. In fact, in Tennessee we just run on cars off in ditches when it starts snowing to avoid the rush.

The exhibit hall at Macworld opens today, so look for lots of coverage. Yesterday's MacTech Boot Camp was a big hit with around 125 folks attending. And Macworld looks to be off to a good start. This year’s Macworld has purportedly seen growth of about 10% more exhibitors than last year, and the number of registered attendees is up as well.

-- Dennis Sellers
dsellers@applecentral.com

| Read more »
Jan 26
Reporter's notebook: a long trip down

It was a looong trip down to San Francisco for the 2011 Macworld Conference & Expo. I spent all day Tuesday en route. Thank goodness for the iPad and its long battery life as I needed the iBooks and videos I had stored on it.

I flew from Nashville (my home base) to Philadelphia (don't ask), then to San Francisco. And my return route is from San Francisco to Chicago back to Nashville. I hope I don't run into any bad weather along the way.

I'm staying at the Cova Hotel on Ellis Street. It's about a mile and a half from the Moscone Center, where Macworld is taking place. But as long as its sunny, I don't mind the walk as it gives me a chance to see the city -- and burn off some of the way-too-many calories I'll consume this week.

Keep tabs today on the MacNews and MacTech web sites, as our Macworld coverage is in full swing.

-- Dennis Sellers
dsellers@applecentral.com

| Read more »
Jan 25
Apple patents range from hover sensitive devices to...

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

Patent number 7877707 involves detecting and interpreting real-world and security gestures on touch and hover sensitive devices. "Real-world" gestures such as hand or finger movements/orientations that are generally recognized to mean certain things (e.g., an "OK" hand signal generally indicates an affirmative response) can be interpreted by a touch or hover sensitive device to more efficiently and accurately effect intended operations. These gestures can include, but are not limited to, "OK gestures," "grasp everything gestures," "stamp of approval gestures," "circle select gestures," "X to delete gestures," "knock to inquire gestures," "hitchhiker directional gestures," and "shape gestures." In addition, gestures can be used to provide identification and allow or deny access to applications, files, and the like. The inventors are Wayne Carl...

| Read more »
 
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