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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...

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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

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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

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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...

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Jan 25
Greg's bite: Xoom info

By Greg Mills

From what I read about the upcoming Xoom tablet, it may not be the long anticipated iPad killer the PC crowd has been longing for. As I have mentioned in this space, the Tablet OS situation continues to be a problem for the companies that want a piece of Apple's pie.  Motorola, a household name in electronics has scrambled to offer something to compete with iPad. From what is known about Xoom, Apple's iPad is still safe.

Android for smart phones has been tweaked to accommodate a larger screen but will likely have most of the Android underpinnings. I have not read where Android apps can run on Xoom in the smaller mode as in the iOS iPad. Rumors are that Google has cooked up the tablet version of Android and calls it Honeycomb. Motorola has obtained an exclusive right to use Honeycomb for a period of time to allow them to launch Xoom.

The technical specs and price points floated are likely to sink Motorola's boat...

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Jan 25
Off to Macworld ....

I'm off to San Francisco to join the rest of the MacNews/MacTech gang in covering Macworld 2011. I have a day of travel ahead of me, so if coverage today is more sporadic than usual, that's why

But keep an eye on the sites this week. We'll have plenty of Macworld coverage.

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Jan 24
Greg's bite: CEO succession at Apple, RIM...

By Greg Mills

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is entitled to privacy, and yet the press can't let the man alone and pass on purely speculative stories assuming we are going to lose Steve. Last time he took a leave of absence to have a liver transplant and recover, some ass of an editor accidentally ran an obituary.  

How charming. MSBNC is running a story regarding what they consider the 10 most likely candidates to take over as CEO of Apple. While I know it is big news due to the incredible growth at Apple and the stock situation, such speculation might be interesting but completely irrelevant for now.

One of the common themes in Apple succession stories is the notion that someone could fill Jobs' shoes if we lose him. That is a flawed notion. It is rare that a CEO has the amount of power Jobs wields at Apple. Normally, a CEO allows the staff to do a lot Steve does. At a minimum, the wisdom and polices Steve has laid down will guide...

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Jan 24
Is there WiDi in the Mac's future?

Is there WiDi (which stands for Intel Wireless Display) in Apple's future along with Wi-Fi? Actually, WiDi uses Wi-Fi to wirelessly move anything on a computer screen to an HDTV if the computer is running one of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors.

Your TV set will have to have WiDi support -- either built-in or by adding an WiDi adapter. "Network World" (http://macte.ch/it4nh) says WiDi makes streaming any computer content to your big screen is easy: you basically simply run Intel's software on the laptop. No additional wiring is required, and the technology is by all accounts extremely low latency, meaning that the lag between content appearing on the notebook screen and on the set is minimal.

As "Network World" notes, the biggest drawback is that the technology is proprietary: if your notebook doesn't have a current Intel CPU, you're out of luck. The good news is that the Wi-Fi Alliance is working on...

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Jan 21
Greg's bite: Apple's strange screw...

By Greg Mills

I never cease to be amazed by the jaded reaction of the PC tech press to the neutral things Apple does. Mis-representing motives and incorrect conclusions that tend to cast a slightly evil cast on Apple sell high tech stories. It's like putting Jesus on the cover of a magazine with some outlandish story. The most recent trashing of Apple is over, of all things, the design of some unique tiny screws that hold iPhones together.

The variety of screw heads used in technology these days is amazing. First there was the flat screw head with one notch. Then there was the Philips head screw that revolutionized machine installation of screws in all sorts of applications. Having used drywall screws for countless applications far beyond drywall installation, I am of the opinion the inventor of the Philips screw head deserves the Noble prize for innovation in physics.  

As certainly as Moore's Law regarding microchip development is true,...

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Jan 21
I say Apple is the number two computer vendor in the...

I've argued that Macs and iPads should be lumped together when measuring personal computer sales. If you combine Mac and iPad sales for the last fiscal quarter -- 4.3 million and 7.33 million units, respectively -- that comes to 11.63 million units. That would mean Apple has 11.3% of the worldwide market for computer sales.

And why not combine the two? The iPad runs a variant -- a "lite" version if you will -- of Mac OS X. The Apple tablet is seen as competition for netbooks. And some folks are using it in lieu of a laptop.

So how does this 11.3% figure compare to the biggest computer makers in the world? Quite favorably, as Paul Thurrott writes on his "Supersite for Windows" (http://macte.ch/txXKc).

He notes that, based on the latest data, HP notched 17.77 million computers sold worldwide, Dell had 10.9 million and Acer 10.8 million units. Of course, this doesn't include the sales of other...

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Jan 20
Apple patent involves restoring data to a mobile...

Apple is planning on making it even easier to back up data on your iOS devices. A company patent number (20110016089) for restoring data to a mobile device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for backing up and restoring data to a mobile device. In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of receiving data from a mobile device to be included in a backup, the data including data associated with one or more mobile device applications; storing the data in a backup archive; generating a backup mapping file for each of the mobile device applications, each backup mapping file identifying each file in the backup associated with the respective application; and using the backup mapping files to restore the corresponding applications to the mobile device. The inventors are Gordie...

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Jan 20
Apple patents cover various audio technologies

Several Apple patents have appeared today at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Most involve audio technologies of some sort.

Patent number 20110015765 involves controlling an audio and visual experience based on environment. A system can monitor an environment while playing back music. The system can then identify a characteristic property of the environment and modify an audio-related or visual-related operation based on the characteristic property. The characteristic property can be any suitable property of the environment or any combination thereof. For example, the characteristic property can be related to an ambient property of the environment (e.g., light or sounds) or the environment's occupants (e.g., number of people nearby). The system can then modify its operation in any suitable manner based on the characteristic property. For example, the system can provide a visualization of music based on at least the characteristic property. In another...

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Jan 20
Apple eyeing virtual keyboards for the Mac?

An Apple patent (number 20110012717) for a method and apparatus for localization of haptic feedback has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent seems to indicate that the company is working on "virtual keyboards" for the Mac.

In one embodiment, a haptic feedback system includes a plurality of actuators to provide tactile feedback associated with an input surface. Each actuator is adapted to be activated independently of the other actuators. The system further includes a controller to activate a first actuator of the plurality of actuators to induce a first vibration at a selected input location of the input surface and to activate one or more additional actuators to induce at least a second vibration to localize the first vibration at the selected input location. The inventors are Aleksandar Pance, Paul Alioshin, Brett Bilbrey and David Thomas Amm.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates generally to...

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Jan 20
A future Mac mouse might have a built-in display

An upcoming Mac mouse could sport a built-in display, as indicated by a new patent (number 20110012838) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, in an embodiment, an input device, such as computer mouse, includes an interface to communicate user interactions to a host system and a display assembly to display an image to a user.

In some examples, the display device will include a collimated glass component. A method is disclosed that includes displaying an image at an input device, such as a mouse, and then displaying a second image in response to a user input through the input device. The inventors are Aleksandar Pance, Brett Bilbrey and Duncan Kerr.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates generally to a computer input device a display device, and more particularly relates to an input device using such display to convey visually observable data such as colors and images to a user of the input device. In...

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Jan 20
Greg's bite: Nokia's N7 smartphone, out of...

By Greg Mills

Nokia's N7 (or X7) new touch screen smartphone running the Symbian 3 OS failed to excite AT&T enough, so the pending launch in the US was pulled at the last minute by Nokia.  

Punishing AT&T for not getting too excited about another "me, too" touch screen smart phone is certain to be self-flagellation, a concept that went out with the Middle Ages. AT&T has come to the same conclusion I have long been advocating in this space: there just isn't enough interest in the market place for more than two or at the most three smartphone OS platforms. The rest are doomed to Kin out.

The smartphone market may actually boil down to just two platforms: Apple's iOS and Google's Android platform. RIM is struggling and seeing its market share drop each quarter as the two-year contracts with business users expire. The enterprise market is embracing Apple's iPad and iPhone in mass. Blackberry users who actually try the iPhone touch...

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Jan 20
The future of movie watching: Apple will go its own...

Recently we looked at two competing formats for consumer movie watching (before I interrupted this series for Apple financial predictions and coverage): UltraViolet and Disney's Keychest, that will probably help shape the future of digital media on-line (both renting and buying). The Sellers Research Group (that's me) predicts that if Apple backs either format -- and that's a big "IF" (but more on that in a moment) -- it will go with Keychest.

With Keychest, no physical possession or media will be involved. The media would live in the cloud and be available on-demand in a way similar to the way Google Docs are accessed. Users would simply enter their unique key and begin streaming their media.

"The easiest way to explain [Keyestl] is with an example and the most obvious to us is iTunes and Comcast," says engadget (http://macte.ch/yM361). "Both companies offer video on demand and use their own DRM to...

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Jan 19
Greg's bite: Safari and iTunes to merge?

By Greg Mills

Sometimes rumors are floated that are so absurd they ought to sink right away. The notion that Apple's iTunes and Safari are going to be merged into one mammoth app to help propel Safari's popularity is one of those sinkers. The iTunes app is already quite bloated, by Apple standards. Adding a lot more to it, such as folding Safari, in does not sound like an Apple solution to me.  

Most of the time things happen across the entire product line at Apple; thus a move in one Apple platform gives credence to a similar move in the other platform. If something is changed in the iOS platform that supports the iPod touch, iPad and iPhone, look for a similar move in the Mac OS supporting Apple computers.  

Question: has iTunes been bundled into a larger package recently in the iOS? No, actually just the opposite is true. Instead of having a giant iTune app in the iOS, iTunes has been broken up to include a separate app for the App Store,...

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Jan 19
So how'd I do predicting Apple's sales...

The Sellers Research Group (that's me) predicted sales figures for Apple's fiscal 2011 first quarter. Those results were announced yesterday. So how'd I do?

I forecast that, when it comes to Macs, Apple sold 4.3 million Macs over the holiday period (the quarter ending in December). I was off a bit; the company sold 4.13 million Macs -- still a record quarter.

I said Apple would sell 14.2 million iPhones. The company actually sold 16.42 million, beating my estimates handily (and setting a new record).

As for iPads, I predicted Apple would ship 6.2 million tablets. The actual number was 7.33 million iPads, so, again, my estimates were low. And, again, this was a new record.

As for the iPod, I predicted Apple sold 18.5 million units over the holiday period. The actual figure? 19.45 million. That's not a record as this is a 7% unit decline from the year-ago quarter. However, considering the iPod now faces competition from the iPhone and iPad, that number's...

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Jan 18
Greg's bite: concerning Steve Jobs

By Greg Mills

The press is so full of Steve Jobs stories little other news rates the interest level for a lot people who aren't even Apple fans. The cult-like following is well documented and goes from the respectful to near worship.  

I think Steve Jobs will go down in history as an inventor and visionary of equal stature as Thomas Edison or Ben Franklin. Jobs is named in 273 patents already issued by the US Patent Office. A lot more patents are certainly pending. Countless design decisions Job has made that didn't get a patent are also fundamental to Apple's successful product line.

The stock market plays on anticipation of market effects that are predictable or sometimes not as predictable with vast swings in company valuation. An orderly transition of power within Apple and the familiar face of Tim Cook should settle things down within a few days. The quarterly report due today may soothe the nerves of many who have seen...

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Jan 18
Apple may beef up motion sensor data processing in iOS...

Apple is eyeing ways of using motion detection in iOS devices to further extend battery life. A company patent (number 7,873,749) for motion sensor data processing using various power has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, power may be provided to a motion sensor during a first power mode of the device. In response to the motion sensor detecting a motion event with a magnitude exceeding a threshold, the sensor may transmit a wake up signal to a power management unit of the device. In response to receiving the wake up signal, the power management unit may switch the device to a second power mode.

The device may provide power to a processor and load the processor with a motion sensing application when switching to the second power mode. During the second power mode, motion sensor data may be processed to determine that the motion event is not associated with an intentional user input and the device may return to the first power mode. The...

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Jan 18
Apple patents range from color labeling to a smart...

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

Patent number 7,873,916 involves color labeling in a graphical user interface. A method for providing visual cues to a user of a graphical user interface (GUI) for a computer system is disclosed. The visual cues indicate a relationship with an icon having text and/or image elements. In some embodiments, the method receives a color for labeling an icon that has a text-element and an image-element. The method applies the color to a background-region of the text-element of the icon without applying the color to the image-element. In some embodiments, the method does not affect the font of the text. In some embodiments, the method receives a selection of an icon. The icon has a background-region that has a first color. The method changes the first color of the background-region to a second color but retains the first color in a section of the...

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Jan 18
Apple patent is for light sensitive display

An Apple patent (number 7872641) for a light display has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to touch-sensitive displays and offers hints at what we may expect in future iOS devices.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Touch sensitive screens (“touch screens”) are devices that typically mount over a display such as a cathode ray tube. With a touch screen, a user can select from options displayed on the display's viewing surface by touching the surface adjacent to the desired option, or, in some designs, touching the option directly. Common techniques employed in these devices for detecting the location of a touch include mechanical buttons, crossed beams of infrared light, acoustic surface waves, capacitance sensing, and resistive materials.

"For example, Kasday, U.S. Pat. No. 4,484,179 discloses an optically-based touch screen comprising a flexible clear membrane supported above a glass screen whose edges are fitted with photodiodes...

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Jan 18
My predictions for today's Apple financial...

Apple will announce its fiscal 2011 first quarter financial results today at 2 pm (Pacific). "MacNews" and "MacTech" will be covering the announcement, of course, but first here's what the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is predicting:

When it comes to Macs, Apple will have sold 4.3 million Macs over the holiday period (the quarter ending in December).

When it comes to iPhones, Apple will have moved 14.2 million units.


As for iPads, the company will have shipped 6.2 million tablets.

And as for the iPod, Apple will have sold 18.5 million over the holiday period.

When it comes to the Apple TV, if Apple announces a sales figure, it will be 1.2 million.


These figures mean Apple will have set quarterly sales records for the Mac, iPhone, iPod and Apple TV category. As for the iPad, 18.5 million units isn't a record, but it's not too shabby for a category some pundits say is on its way out. It's not, by the way.

-- Dennis Sellers...

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Jan 17
The future of movie watching: Ultraviolet and digital...

In July 2010, a group of media and electronics companies have announced an agreement on an all-formats system called UltraViolet for digital downloads. The single standard will, at least in theory, allow the consumer to purchase films to be viewed on any device -- a computer, smartphone, game console, Blu-ray player, and television. And it sounds like something Apple would like, but that remains to be seen.

Backed by 48 companies -- including film studios such as Paramount, Warner Bros., Sony and Fox, and tech firms like Microsoft, Toshiba, Panasonic as well as Intel and Comcast -- the consortium, called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) covers the spectrum of entertainment, software, hardware, and retail companies. The only holdouts are the Walt Disney Company, which has developed its own system called KeyChest, and, yep, Apple.


According to the DECE, consumers will be able to create free, cloud-based UltraViolet accounts, which will include a...

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Jan 14
The future of movie watching: Sandy Bridge and high...

Last week Intel unveiled its "Sandy Bridge" processors, chips that will probably be appearing in Macs by spring. Depending on how Apple decides to use the chips, Sandy Bridge could mean the ability to rent and buy the latest movies in high def.

Intel’s current laptop chips are capable of 1080p video, and improvements in Sandy Bridge chips are expected to bring a noticeable graphics improvement to computers. The chips sport security technology that has persuaded some companies to let personal-computer users view movies and television shows in a top-quality video format for the first time. Piracy concerns have previously studios from offering content in 1080p, the Holy Grail (for now, anyway) of high def video viewing.

However, Sandy Bridge processors include built-in content protection to make it safer for Hollywood studios to offer premium movies to consumers over their personal computers.
Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros Digital Distribution and other studios plan...

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Jan 13
Greg's bite: the Apple App Store trademark...

By Greg Mills

Those of us who follow computer development have long taken for granted that where Apple leads, the industry soon follows. The history of innovation in the computing devices supports that generalization with countless examples.  

While Xerox supported very early implementations of the graphical user interface coupled with a mouse, the company didn't know what to do with the cool raw concept. Personal computers that would use that innovation were still hatching in a garage in northern California on another development track. Invention relies upon the industrial development that is required to support it.

There are three types of people in the world. One: those who conceive of absolutely novel technology. Two: those who know it when they see it. Three: those who can't grasp the notion of innovation when it is in their hands. Steve Jobs is one of the rare breed of people in category one, Bill Gates is in category two and Steve...

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Jan 13
Apple wants to further customize your App Store...

Apple wants to further customize your App Store(s) experience, according to a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 20110010759 involves providing a customized interface for an application store.

Embodiments of the present disclosure provide a system and method of providing customized access to an electronic storefront for downloading software for a mobile device based on authorization data stored on the mobile device. In one embodiment, mobile devices have stored one or more profile. Each profile is signed by a particular entity (a particular developer or enterprise) and includes authorization data authorizing one or more devices to install and use software associated with the entity.

A content management application associated with the storefront (e.g., iTunes) identifies one or more storefronts associated with the entities of authorized profiles for a particular device upon access to the storefront and provides the entity storefronts to...

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Jan 13
Apple wants to simplify audio playback -- and make...

Two Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple wants to make it easier to adjust audio playback controls on the Mac -- and make using audio more fun.

Patent number 20110010626 involves a device and method for adjusting a playback control with a finger gesture. The disclosed embodiments relate generally to electronic devices with touch-sensitive surfaces that provide media content (e.g., music and/or video content). More particularly, the disclosed embodiments relate to adjusting a playback control with a finger gesture on a touch-sensitive surface of an electronic device.

In some embodiments, a method is performed at an electronic device with a touch-sensitive surface while the device is providing content. The device detects a finger contact at a first location on the surface. The first location and an edge of the surface define a first distance. The finger contact at the first location corresponds to a start of a control adjustment gesture...

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Jan 13
Apple patent is for touch sensing device with...

Apparently the click wheel may have some life left in it yet. An Apple patent (number 20110005845) for a touch sensing device having conductive nodes has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The device can include a first structure having one or more conductive electrodes disposed on a surface opposite the structure's touchable surface and a second structure having one or more conductive nodes disposed on a surface. The two surfaces can be placed with the conductive electrodes and conductive nodes facing each other in close proximity so that the electrodes and the nodes can form capacitive elements for sensing a touch on the touchable surface. Separately disposing the conductive nodes from the touchable surface structure can make the touch sensing device thin. An example touch sensing device can be a click wheel. The inventors are Steven Porter Hotelling and Stephen Paul Zadesky.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There can be many...

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Jan 13
The future of movie watching: Blu-ray and 3D

With apologizes to Mark Twain, the talk of Blu-ray's death have been exaggerated. According to industry organization Digital Entertainment Group, Blu-ray player sales have topped 28.5 million units. The DEG estimates the number of HDTV households in the U.S. at nearly 56 million.

At last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Blu-ray Disc Association President Andy Parsons notes sales have roughly doubled over last year. "That's been the trend for the past three-to- four years," he says. "That's bucking the trend with what's going on with packaged media in general. And that's good news: Blu-ray is growing at a nice solid rate, in spite of DVD declining."

What's more, Blu-ray sales increased 80% through the first three quarters of 2010, according to studio-sponsored research firm, the Digital Entertainment Group. Revenue from Blu-ray reached US$2 billion last year, and is expected to grow significantly this year, especially with the studios marketing Blu-ray...

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Jan 12
Greg's bite: Verizon, made in the USA

By Greg Mills

Since the announcement yesterday that Verizon will indeed get the iPhone, the tech press is flooded with stories regarding the demise of AT&T and speculation about the new iPhone. Verizon stirred the waters with the notion of built-in hot spot capability, which is sexy indeed.

First of all, don't count AT&T out just yet. While I have been vocal about criticizing them for dropped calls myself, there was wisdom in Apple giving them an exclusive to launch iPhone and get established in the cell phone business. Since then, Google's Android "made hay while the sun was shinning" and took advantage of the void for graphic smart phones in the market place.

While iPhone holds a 15-to-1 advantage in AT&T's customer base, Android had no competition and grabbed a significant volume with the other carriers. The issue Android cell phone makers must be asking themselves is what happens now that Verizon customers can...

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