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In Brief: Cell phones are heading into iPod territory, as Motorola demoed a a new cell phone with a built-in MP3 player, vibrating stereo speakers, an oversize color screen for playing MPEG-4 video clips and rhythmic flashing lights; Following Apple's promo launch for the 100 million iTunes songs, readers have created a third-party (live) iTMS Song Counter and iTMS Song Counter graph; Macologist< has now put together a list of OS X mods for Battlefield 1942, including Desert Combat, Galactic Conquest, and Forgotten Hope as well as dedicated launcher applications; Microsoft and MYOB have signed up to exhibit at Macworld Boston as part of the Apple Specialist Pavilion.
EZQuest today said it is developing a new line of Thunder FireWire 400 and 800 external hard drives. The company expects the first product to be announced in July, with delivery planned in August. "Over the last 18 months, EZQuest has worked closely with professionals in the non-linear video-editing, computer-animation, pro audio and game-development markets -- as well as home users -- to determine the current and future storage needs in these markets. As a result, the new Thunder drives will more than meet the storage demands." EQQuest says that the new Thunder drives will be less than half the size of competitive drives and will include syncing software.
Apple expects to introduce next generation iMac in September, according to the company's website. The online Apple Store has stopped taking orders for the current iMac G4 model as the company begins "the transition from the current iMac line to the an all-new iMac line, which will be announced and available in September." Apple said that it planned to have the next-generation iMac ready by the time the inventory of the current iMacs runs out in the next few weeks, but its "planning was obviously less than perfect. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers."
Apple was No. 10 in the 'Technology Hardware & Equipment' category in BusinessWeek's latest Top 50 company rankings, but placed 207th overall in the rankings. Apple had a 59.4% one-year return on stock price, placing it in the overall top 10 S&P 500 companies as ranked by earnings, however, its 3-year return was lower at 31.1%. Averages for the industry were growth of 102.7% (one-year) and loss of 17.6% (3-year). Dell was ranked No. 1 in the industry with a market capitalization of $85 billion. In 2003, BusinessWeek notes that there was a 27.2% increase in notebook sales (vs. 6.5% for desktops) and that the average selling price (worldwide) of a PC was $1,213.
Speck Products has introduced its Mini Armband, which offers iPod Mini users the freedom to run, bike, walk, or work-out while securely strapping their device to their upper arm. The Armband is designed to work with the "skin on," providing conveyance and allowing the iPod to always be protected. The Mini Armband ($30) is composed of a comfort fit, velcro adjustable strap and a hard plastic cradle that allows the mini to easily snap in and out (with the "skin" on). It also offers an innovative cable clip that keeps the headphone cords tucked out of the way. It ships with a free Clear SkinTight rubberized skin.
In Brief: Tech Depot and Computers4SURE are now authorized to sell the entire line of Apple products; Wired Magazine says that compatibility with non-iPod players and an "Annoying cult-of-Mac aura" are the downsides to an otherwise good service with a "slick, smart interface;" 'Widget Man' is a parody song about the "Konfabulator/Dashboard madness that has erupted once that feature was anounced at WWDC;" Apple quietly announced CoreData at its WebObjects session, a light-weight version of Cocoa EOF that features class modelling in Xcode and EOF-style relationship editing.
Carracho X Preview 3.2 (free) is the latest Mac OS X native version of the BBS-like client software for connecting to private servers. The service release update extends the preview's expiration date and corrects various bugs. ADAM 1.0 (free) permits localhost access to your Apple Remote Desktop database via TCP/IP sockets, enabling PHP scripts on the same machine to access information in the database. Gorilla 2.1 ($200-$400) is the latest version of the music production software designed for independent producers. Gorilla is able to store and track all of a movie's information, including budgeting, scheduling, crew, cast, profit sharing, editing notes, and more. CHUD Tools 4.0.0b1 (free) is the newest release of Apple's Computer Hardware Understand Development Tools, designed for measuring and optimizing software performance on Mac OS X as well as for hardware bringup and system benchmarking. Version 4.0 brings several enhancements to Shark, Big Top, PMC Index, and Cache Blaster functionality.
AJA Video Systems has announced that its Io FireWire Interface for editing on the Power Mac G4/G5 has been qualified by Apple for use with its Final Cut Pro HD editing software. AJA Video says that qualification is achieved through rigorous testing and analysis to ensure that devices are compatible with current Apple hardware and software. "We are proud that Io is one of the first plug-in solutions for editing on the Mac to be qualified for Final Cut Pro HD," said John Abt, president of AJA Video Systems. Io provides offers a plug-in solution via a single FireWire connection to connect 10-bit uncompressed video and 24-bit multi-channel audio, analog or digital, to the Power Mac.
GarageCube has started shipping Modul8, a new application designed for realtime video mixing and composting. Designed by and for professional VJs and live performers, and developed by real time imaging specialists coming from the video game industry, "Modul8 offers a state of the art user-interface combined with very high performances," supporting 10 simultaneous layers that can be mixed together to produced the final image composition. Modul8 is available for €295, with educational pricing set at €145.
PowerLogix today announced "the fastest processor ever designed" for PowerMac G3 Beige and "Blue and White" computers as well as lower pricing on G4 upgrades. The new 1.1GHz PowerForce G3 ZIF offers up to fives times the original clock speed of original G3 Power Mac computers; it is now shipping for $350. The company also reduced prices on its PowerForce G4 CPU upgrades. Utilizing the PowerPC 7457, the upgrades offer twice the L2 cache and generate 40% less heat than previous G4 processors; they work with G4 PowerMac models (from AGP to QuickSilver 2002). The 1.2GHz PowerForce G4 is now $400 ($40 reduction) and the 1.4GHz model is $440 ($100 reduction). The dual-processor PowerForce G4 is now $750 ($150 reduction).
Viper Networks today announced that its recently released Wi-Fi vPhone and the upcoming Broadband Phone Adapter are compatible with Macs. The Wi-Fi vPhone is compatible with 802.11b networks; customers pay only for the minutes they use (price chart). The Wi-Fi vPhone sells for $250 and can work with either dial-up or broadband connections.
With almost 95 million songs sold at the iTunes Music Store to date, Apple today announced a 100 million song countdown promotion. Apple will be giving away one of 50 special 20GB iPods to the purchase of each 100,000th song downloaded between 95 million and 100 million. In addition, the purchaser of the 100 millionth song will receive a 17-inch PowerBook, a 40GB iPod, and a gift certificate for 10,000 songs from the iTunes Music Store. "As we approach the unprecedented milestone of 100 million legally downloaded songs, we want to thank our customers who have made the iTunes Music Store such a stunning success," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO.
Apple will announce its third quarter financial results on Wednesday, July 14, and will webcast the conference call that starts at 5:00pm ET. Analysts at investment bank First Albany expect Apple to miss estimates, noting that "Apple is likely to have witnessed sluggish business trends in its core CPUs and iPod segments in the June quarter this year," notes Macworld UK. Last quarter Apple posted a profit of $46 million that exceeded expectations and revised the company's third quarter performance upward. At that time Apple said it was expecting revenue of $1.925 billion and profits of between $45-$50 million, before restructuring charges. Since then, shares of Apple have climbed about 25 percent.
Five Speed Software today announced iGet 1.0 ($25), its new file transfer application for Mac OS X. "iGet is a modern replacement for dated file transfer tools like FTP, SFTP, or client-server solutions. Taking full advantage of several Mac OS X technologies [e.g., Rendezevous and Keychain], iGet provides a better way to move files between Mac OS X computers." iGet is based on a custom protocol, which the company says was designed from scratch "to be fast on real-world Internet connections" as well as fully support Mac-specific file attributes--including resource forks, HFS metadata, packages, aliases, and Unicode file names--many of which are not supported through traditional FTP. It uses industry-standard SSH encryption for data security.
Sony today announced two hard-drive digital walkmans that it hopes will dethrone the iPod as the market-leading MP3 player. The new Network Walkman NW-HD1 digital music player will store up to 13,000 songs using a 20GB 1.8-inch drive and is expected to be available on July 10 in Japan and in mid-August in the US. The 3.8 ounce device, slightly larger than an iPod mini (but smaller than the standard iPod) claims to have up to 30 hours of playback on a single charge of its battery. It will play songs in its proprietary ATRAC format only, and thus wil not be compatible with any other online stores. It is expected to cost under $400 in the US.
In Brief: Verbatim today announced the availability of a new Double Layer Solution Kit that enables consumers to take full advantage of the multiple DVD+R/RW recording formats; in an online eavesdropping case, a federal appeals court ruled it was acceptable for a company that offered e-mail service to surreptitiously track its subscribers' messages; Sony on Friday will open a concept store in Silicon Valley to attract and teach consumers about emerging technologies and products; members of the MacNN forums discuss Apple's new 30" displays.
Now AAPL Stock: 95.01 ( + 0.99 )
Swift benchmarking suite goes open-source
Following the release of new betas for all its platforms, Apple on Monday also made a suite of 75 tools for benchmarking Swift-developed coding projects, including libraries for benchmarking functions, a utility for comparing the resulting metrics, and a driver for running them. The company says it is asking the community for help in developing additional benchmarks, as well as further "helper" libraries and overall code review for better stability and performance. Apple plans to include benchmark pull requests in Swift's new continuous integration system as well. http://bit.ly/1W8u0EU
Instagram now supporting multiple accounts
As reported earlier, Instagram is now rolling out support for multiple accounts (up to five) in version 7.1.5 of its iOS app. The feature has been one of the main attractions of third-party Instagram clients, but it is unclear if users must seek out an "add account" preference in the app; additionally, some users are reporting that the ability to add accounts has not yet been added. The company says notifications "depend on when you last logged in, and the number of devices that are logged into that account," suggesting not all notifications across accounts will appear when logged into a given one. http://bit.ly/1moh95p
Pictures of Galaxy S7, Edge leaked
New images have been leaked of Samsung's new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The images of the Galaxy S7 are very similar to a draft leaked earlier this year, with a curved back reminiscent of the iPhone 3G with the normal Samsung camera hump in the upper center of the phone. The picture of the Galaxy S7 Edge as leaked is running a benchmark application showing modest improvements over the S6 line, if accurate. Both models are expected to be formally announced in a February 21 press event hosted by Samsung. http://bit.ly/20Gf07X
Bambooti wooden skins for MacBooks
Bambooti has introduced premium wooden skins for Apple laptops that allow users to customize any design or logo directly on the case. Each Bambooti skin is handcrafted from sustainably managed forests, and are hand sanded and spray-finished to create an ultra smooth exterior. Bambooti's wooden skins start at $65 on the fully-funded Kickstarter which includes a custom design or logo of the user's choice that will be engraved on the product. http://kck.st/1PhE6Sb
Apple Music in Taiwan, now up to 113 countries
Apple Music has now added its 113th country, Taiwan, to its expanding list of areas where it offers its paid subscription service. The price in the country will start at NT$150 (about $4.50 US) for an individual subscription, and that now includes (as it does in the rest of the world) the formerly free-but-ad-supported iTunes Radio feature, which as in other countries will be customized somewhat to offer channels of locally-popular music styles. Apple Music is now available in 16 countries and regions -- including China, India, Russia, and Japan -- where Spotify has not yet arrived.
Invisible wall mount for iPad Pro, mini
Computing hardware mounting company Wall-Smart has announced the availability the new "invisible" wall mount, with models for the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 -- all with no bezel. The invisible mount includes ÂPower Over Ethernet to USB, which allows charging while in-wall, and is available for both drywall and solid surfaces such as solid wood panels or partition walls. Prices vary widely by iPad model, and required mounting hardware. http://bit.ly/1SE5jCO
Kingston buys IronKey secure USB tech
Kingston Digital today announced it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation. In addition to Kingston's acquisition, encryption services leader DataLocker has purchased the IronKey Enterprise Management Services platform which provides centralized management to encrypted USB drives. Kingston and DataLocker claim that there will be no interruption in service provided, or available products as a result of the consolidations. http://bit.ly/1QQk9SZ