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Apple, Dell may see gains
Morgan analyst Rebecca Runkle believes that Dell and Apple show the best chances of gaining market share in 2005, according to CBS.MarketWatch.com. Runkled, who lowered her 2005 unit-shipment growth forecast to 9 percent from 11 percent over 2004, cites better-than-expected performance in the PC market in 2004, as well as signs of a slowdown in the market late in the year. "In a research note, Runkle said sales in the consumer market, as well as among small and medium-size businesses and the government, declined in second-half 2004. A 'meaningful acceleration' in the enterprise business sector would be needed for the overall PC market to post a year of double-digit growth in 2005."
AAPL down 4 percent
Apple shares fell 4 percent after a Needham & Co. analyst lowered his investment rating on the stock to "hold," saying much of the potential upside to the company's business is reflected in the current stock price, according to Reuters. "For valuation reasons, we're downgrading Apple from Buy to Hold," analyst Charles Wolf wrote in a note to clients. "With the stock now trading close to" $70, he wrote, "we believe that most of the upside is now captured in Apple's current share price." The article notes that Apple shares have more than tripled in value this year, but fell $2.63, or 4 percent, to $62.58 and that the stock is down 8.4 percent from Nov. 29's $68.44, the shares' highest level since March 2000.
iPod Armor for 4G iPods
Matias today announced the release of its iPod Armor for the iPod Photo and 4G (fourth-generation) iPods. The company says the new model fits the iPod Photo, 4G iPods, and the legacy 3G iPods and that it has been updated to match the look of current iPods. The aluminum hard case features a unique friction foam interior that holds the iPod securely in place, while offering unobstructed access to the entire front face of the iPod as well as offers a removable rubber panel for access to the docking port on newer iPods. It is $50 (plus $10 shipping) and comes with a 5-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee. A bundle that includes 2 armor (belt) clips (and three additional anchors) is available for $60. The older "3G" version is $30 (or $40 with 2 armor clips).
Alias announced today the launch of a complete software solution for the education market. Alias is introducing eight new Learning Bundles designed to "meet every teachers' and students' needs and budget." The competitively priced bundles "take 3D learning and content creation to the next level, combining award-winning software with advanced self-paced learning tools resources." Available for Maya and Alias StudioTools software, the new Learning Bundles put the power and flexibility of the industry's leading 3D graphics, animation and design software solutions into the hands of educators and students to help strengthen their curriculum and further their design talents. Pricing ranges from $1000 to $2000.
Ford Racing 2 ships
Feral announced today that development of Chessmaster's Opening Gambit (a virtual chess game for Mac OS X) has been completed. "In a brilliant if somewhat technical manoeuvre, Chessmaster deftly moved past the final obstacle to its development and is now well into manufacturing. The OS X incarnation of the world's best-selling chess software will be arriving in stores in time for Christmas." Feral also announced that Ford Racing 2 for Mac is now shipping. "Get ready to make your Mac rumble, the meaty growls from some of the most iconic motors ever built are already speeding to a Mac store near you."
Apple offers refurb G5s
The Apple Store is offering several refurbished products, including the a refurbished AirPort Extreme Base Station (with modem and antenna port) for $170 ($33 off the original $250 price) and a AirPort Extreme Card for $70 (30% off). The Apple Store also features the single processor 1.6 GHz Power Mac G5 for $1,200 (256MB/80GB/SuperDrive), the dual-processor 1.8GHz Power Mac G5 with Nvidia GeForce 5200 CPU for $1700 (256MB/80GB/SuperDrive). Apple is also offering refurbished 12-inch (starting at $1350), 15-inch ($1,700) and 17-inch (/42,400) PowerBooks. The store is also offering a sale on new 12-inch and 14-inch iBook G4s starting at $950. Apple has also posted its delivery schedule for the holidays, promising Christmas delivery on all standard configurations of Macs and iPods for all orders placed on or before December 22nd and delivery of some custom-configured Macs and engraved/personalized iPods for orders placed on or before December 15th.
Free iPods to ASU students
In Brief: In an offer that ends today at 5 pm, Arizona State University is offering a free iPods (or the Dell DJ) to some campus students in order to lure upper classman back to campus housing and encourage early sign ups...."Take Control of Mac OS X Backups" ($10) is a 96-page ebook by backup expert Joe Kissell that helps readers "develop a rock-solid backup strategy, choose among common types of backup media, and pick the most appropriate backup software.".... Miglia Technology today announced that it has opened an office in South East Asia.... Told by Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of the Mac, "Revolution in the Valley" (O'Reilly, $25, hardcover) traces the development of the Macintosh, from its inception as an underground project in 1979 to its introduction in 1984 and beyond.... iCompositions has announced its new "GarageBand Tools" section, which allows users to learn about 175 free and commercial products for GarageBand.
Sente 2.0 research tool
Third Street Software today added bibliography support to Sente, its academic literature research program. Sente 2.0 helps researchers and students write papers and manuscripts by automatically formatting their bibliographies as well as provides a single interface to search hundreds of data sources and automatic (re-occuring) search functions. Users can choose from any of the provided bibliography formats, or create their own formats using the included bibliography format editor. Sente 2.0 currently generates bibliographies in Rich Text Format (RTF), while future v2.x releases, expected early next year, will include direct integration with word processors. It is a free upgrade to all existing customers, as will future v2.x releases, according to the company. It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 and is available for $80 (single-user) or $50 (education).
New RadTech products
RadTech today announced several new products, including ts PodSleevz for iPod photo ($20), a form-fitting protective Optex sleeve case available in six shades that allows the use of Apple's included clip case. Pawz ($8), new high-grip replacement notebook computer feet, are transparent Polyurethane, providing 4-8 times the surface area of OEM equipment feet and protection from work surfaces and furniture. RadTech's LensavRz are professional-grade Optex wipes expertly clean and polish fine optics and sensitive electronic devices. It is available in two sizes starting at $8. Finally, the company is offering a new non-marking Nylon Pry Tool ($7) for separating computer cases. The company is also now selling OmniCleanz, its nonconductive cleaning technology functions atomically to dislodge contaminants at the molecular level.
Needham & Co. today downgraded shares of Apple to "hold" from "buy" in a valuation call, according to CBSMarketWatch.com: "'With all of the possible contributors to Apple's share price factored in -- the iPod, a possible flash-based iPod and the widely discussed halo effect -- our valuation model produces a fair price of $70 per share,' analyst Charles Wolf told clients. With the stock now trading close to that level, Wolf believes most of the upside is now captured in the share price. Apple shares closed down $2.58, or 3.8 percent, at $65.21 on Thursday.'"
Apple Annual Report 2004
Apple earlier this week filed its SEC Form 10-K, Annual Report for its fiscal 2004 year, which ended in September 2004 with information on its retail segment, employment, education sales, legal proceedings, property holdings, a "challenging" education market, slow iMac sales (in fiscal 2004), Japanese market concerns (and accounting policy shift) and more. We have some annotated highlights from the report.
Olympus music players
Olympus this week in Tokyo announced its entry into the portable hard disk music player market with two new m:robe digital players: "We believe that because of some unique features we can compete with Apple. The Register reports that the 20GB m:robe MR 500i supports MP3, WMA and other digital formats as well as photos on its 3.7-inch VGA touch screen. "The MR-100 looks very much like the iPod, but has a different, although equally appealing design. The MR-100, which targets users of the iPod mini, provides a USB 2.0 hi-speed port and features 5GB storage capacity for around 1,200 songs and plays both WMA and MP3 file formats." The new players, with an iPod-esque look and white bud earphones, will be available in the US by January and in Europe next spring, according to the report.
IBM PC biz for sale
IBM has put its PC business up for sale and is currently in serious discussions with Lenovo, China's largest maker of PCs and at least one other potential buyer for the unit, according to a report in The New York Times "...a sale would nonetheless bring the end of an era in an industry that it helped invent. The sale, likely to be in the $1 billion to $2 billion range, is expected to include the entire range of desktop, laptop and notebook computers made by IBM. ....A sale of the personal computer business would be a step away from I.B.M.'s traditional emphasis on the size of its revenue as a measure of its corporate power. The PC business represents about 12 percent of I.B.M.'s annual revenue of $92 billion."
iTunes UK pricing
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred a complaint over Apple's iTunes high prices in the UK to the European Commission because it says that the commission is better positioned to rule on the matter, according to the BBC. The move follows a complaint by Which? (formerly the Consumer Association) that claimed that iTunes charges UK users 20% more than those in France and Germany and that UK customers were unfairly barred from logging on to the French and German sites. Last September, Apple defended the pricing disparity saying that it used the underlying economic model in each country to determine pricing and pointed to the difference in price of CDs in the US and UK as an example. Apple also said that iTunes pricing should be compared with similar services offered in the UK.
CAT5-5000 HD extender
Gefen has released its CAT5-5000 HD, a KVM extender capable of spanning distances up to 150 feet. It can extend DVI digital video as well as USB and optional digital audio signals over CAT-5 (Ethernet) cables, offering an alternative to some of the costs associated with DVI copper and fiber optics cabling. The extender works through a sender unit connected to the computer and a receiver unit connected to the extended peripherals--both connected by a CAT-5 cable. The slim, rackmountable units are equipped with two DVI connectors for extending two digital displays (up to 1920x1200 resolution) as well as a USB port for a keyboard/mouse or other USB device. It is available for $1,300 and includes two DVI-to-HDMI 6-foot cables and one 6ft USB cable.
8-port SATA PCI card
Sonnet Technologies today announced its Tempo-X SATA 4+4 8-port Serial ATA PCI-X host controller card for Macs. The high-performance adapter features four internal plus four external Serial ATA ports, offering the ability to connect eight Serial ATA hard drives. It utilizes the PCI-X interface to take advantage of the enhanced performance offered in Power Mac G5 computers, while retaining legacy compatibility with standard PCI slots. Sonnet's solution enables up to 150MB/s per port data trasnfer rates. In a RAID 0 (striped) array, Sonnet says the product can achieve sustained read/write performance numbers in excess of 545 MB/s. It offers 48-bit LBA support for drives with a capacity larger than 137GB and supports both RAID 0 and RAID 1 (mirroring) functions. It will be available on December 10th for $200.
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