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

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

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

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

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Sep 08
Apple eyeing roaming point-of-sale system

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

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

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

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Sep 08
Apple patent involves programmable GPU

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Sep 07
US consumer electronics outlook bodes well for Apple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sep 06
Apple ought to check out the M-Disc

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

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

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

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

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Sep 02
Consumer NAS market has low penetration, high growth

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

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

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

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Sep 01
Greg's Bite: Sony launches tablets

By Greg Mills

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

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

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Sep 01
The Northern Spy: Motoroogle, TANSTAAFL and more

By Rick Sutcliffe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sep 01
Big opportunity for Mac sales in China

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

The T-Mobile...

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

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

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

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

Considering reports from the "Wall...

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

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

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

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Aug 30
Who could replace Jonathan Ive?

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Aug 29
Boomers ready to leap into smartphone market

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 25
Apple patent hints at glasses for private viewing

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

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

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

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Aug 25
Greg's Bite: Steve Jobs' Creativity

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Aug 25
Apple HDTVs? LCD screens or OLED displays?

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

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

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

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Aug 24
Jobs: Taxing Tag Fields Everywhere

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

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

There are a few things that are clear.

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

...

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

Posted by Greg MIlls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Greg Mills

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

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

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Aug 19
HP, the Great PC Whale Beached Itself

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 18
Apple eyeing augmented reality for Map + Compass...

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 18
Greg's Bite: People who live in glass houses....

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 18
Blu-ray spending rises 10%

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

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 17
Greg's Bite: HP Touch Pad "Like Nothing Else...

By Greg Mills

The illustration is an exploded view of the HP TouchPad.

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 17
A future OS X with no printer drivers needed? Sweet

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 16
Apple eyeing ways to improve cameras in iOS devices

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


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

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

| Read more »
Aug 16
Apple considering wireless keyboards with cellular...

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 16
Greg's Bite: Matching Apple's Winning Formula

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 16
Apple patent hints at OS X, iOS melding

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 15
Organizations realize benefits by adopting 'bring...

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

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 14
Galaxy II, Samsung's iPhone Killer

Posted by Greg MIlls

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 12
Greg's Bite: Android Platform Fragmenting

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 12
A year from now, iWeb and iDVD will be gone

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

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

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

| Read more »
Aug 12
Apple patents involve low image database migration,...

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

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

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

| Read more »
 
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Holiday sales continue: MacBook Pros for up t...
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*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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