Apple is expected to introduce new PowerBooks and iBooks early next week, according to MacNN sources. Apple will introduce revised 12-inch PowerBooks (two models), two revised 15-inch PowerBooks, one new model of the 12" iBook, two new models of the 14" iBook, and a single high-end 17" PowerBook configuration. The laptops are expected to be available early next week in limited quantities. Sources report that each model will feature speed-bumped G4 processors, while some models will feature larger drives and upgraded graphics cards.
Afternoon tech news: Dell is back as the number one PC maker, according to preliminary figures from research firms IDC and Gartner; companies that break Britain's antispam law are likely to get away with it until at least next year because the information commissioner doesn't have "stop now" powers; RealNetworks is facing increasingly stiff competition in online music, analysts said on Thursday, as rivals seek deals with larger players and longtime adversary Microsoft Corp. gears up to launch an online music store later this year.
Topics of discussion on the MacNN forums today include: nVidia 6800 Ultra support under Mac OS X; the possible reasons for lower than expected Power Mac G5 sales; speculation about future PowerBook G4 specs and possible release dates; member feedback on Apple's recent eMac revision; the eMac's impressive performance to price ratio compared to that of the iMac; delays surrounding the availability and shipping of the iPod Mini.
iSkin has started shipping the iSkin mini protector for iPod minis, featuring form-fitting silicone, a screen protector, and RevoClip rotating belt clip. The iSkin mini also features an integrated dock connector port cover and is compatible with accessories that connect to the top of the iPod, such as Griffin's iTrip. The accessory is available in five opaque colors and four glow-in-the-dark colors and costs $25.
Red Giant Software today announced Primatte Keyer for Avid AVX, which brings the power of the Primatte keying algorithm to Avid systems while preserving simplicity. Users can now sample foreground and background areas directly in the sequence window, making Primatte Keyer AVX the easiest to use keyer for Avid editors. It includes functions for sampling foreground and background areas, eliminating spills, correcting imprecise edges, generating mattes from any color background, adjusting properties of sampled foreground colors, and keying transparent objects. It will ship in June for $500.
Despite running into some delays, Apple remains comitted to launching a European iTunes Music Store this year. "When we launch in Europe, we want to do it well. There can be no compromise on the ease of use, the depth of the catalogue or the responsiveness (of the Web site)," Apple's European chief Pascal Cagni told Reuters. "This is going to be so important for the future that a few months' delay is not essential."
IBM has confirmed its PowerPC G5 CPU yield problems, noted in this week's conference as the reason for the delays in the Xserve G5s: "One of the problems is ongoing yield issues within the company's 300-mm fab in East Fishkill, N.Y. For months, IBM has been struggling with yields in the fab, a 130- and 90-nm plant. 'We do see demand, but we need to make the products,' Joyce said. 'We need to improve our yields in our 300-mm plant. Our yields did see some improvement, but not as fast (as the company had hoped).'"
The Hungarian version of Mac OS X 10.3 is now available for download. The update currently only supports Mac OS X 10.3.0, requiring users to install 10.3.0 first and then apply the localization patch. Additionally, only system applications have been localized; iApps and Help menus remain in English. Hungarian localizations supporting Mac OS X 10.3.2 and 10.3.3 are currently in development.
PlayFair, the application developed to remove the DRM code from iTunes Music Store tracks, has been temporarily removed from Sarovar.org, India's open-source project website, after the site received a notice from Apple. "[PlayFair] is contrary to our clients' terms and conditions governing availability of the service and is causing them enormous potential loss of revenue and reputation," the notice, which can be read in its entirety on the site, says. Sarovar.org said it is investigating the matter and has removed the project until it has consulted with its lawyers. The Playfair project was previously hosted on Sourceforge, a similar open-source project hosting service based in the US, but was removed after Apple sent a cease and desist notice.
Apple has reportedly turned down RealNetworks' offer to license its Fairplay DRM technology, and a meeting that RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser sought with Apple CEO Steve Jobs this week to discuss the matter is not taking place. "Steve just doesn't want to open the iPod, and we don't understand that," a RealNetworks spokesperson said. Apple declined to comment on the matter. Earlier this week Jobs told The Wall Street Journal, "The iPod already works with the No. 1 music service in the world, and the iTunes Music Store works with the No. 1 digital-music player in the world," he said. "The No. 2s are so far behind already. Why would we want to work with No. 2?" Meanwhile, an article in today's Journal reveals that Apple has previously turned down other partnership proposals regarding the iTunes Music Store. Last year, Rio Audio approached Apple to open the store so that other hardware players would be compatible with its Fairplay AAC files. Apple turned that offer down. "We can do nothing," a Rio Audio vice president said.
Small Tree Communications today released its 802.3ad Link Aggregation networking software, which "enables true enterprise class network solutions by bonding or trunking multiple Ethernet ports on a single computer into one virtual interface. This virtual interface provides higher bandwidth, higher availability, and more efficient utilization of the physical links than is otherwise possible." Small Tree says it is the first company to offer such a solution on the Mac. Pricing starts at $300 for 2 ports/1 group and ranges up to $700 for unlimited ports and groups.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive,¬†Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk¬†Drive,¬†GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl