Following similar comments by Creative Technology, yet another digital player manufacturer has said that Apple's introduction of iPod shuffle is 'surprising', but also that it doesn't compete with iRiver's more premium, feature-focused product offerings: "'The first [surprise] is that iPod (Shuffle) is targeting the low-end area,' he said. The low price is no surprise, as Chinese products are already available at that price: the surprise is that Apple is producing a low-end product, he said. 'The second is that they introduced the 1G (byte) player that can contain about 200 songs. It will be very difficult for users to look for and find their favorite songs.'"
Apple's "Life is Random" slogan, used by Steve Jobs at last week's Macworld Expo keynote, may be a perfect marketing phrase for its iPod shuffle, but it also affirms the growing sense of information overload, according to John Schwartz of The New York Times. "But clever Apple knows that most users will simply want the gadget to grab songs out of the main computer's library and then play them in an order of its choosing. Random. Like life....Apple, with the attitude of an artist and the eye of an anthropologist, has asked: How do we listen to music? What do we want from it? A response from the company, and its millions of customers, is that music is a kind of ambient grace, which blocks out the cellphone jabber on the train, the honking horn on the walk to the grocery store. And the result is that little white earbuds have become ubiquitous around the country." [free registration required]
Apple has found a way to capitalize on cool, after 20 years of trying with the Mac. With the iPod, Apple has finally offered "a product that combined cool with inexpensive, truly personal computing that fits in a pocket" and its iPod silhouette commercial may displace Apple's 1984 SuperBowl ad as No. 1 ad of all time, according to Randall Stross of The New York Times. "[Until the iPod,] Mr. Jobs had not been able to leverage it in traditional computers because technology in crucial areas had not matured enough to make cool affordably practical on a mass scale. To the extent that cool is based on exclusion of the uncool, Apple was too hip for its own long-term health.....Mr. Jobs now has at his disposal ridiculously cheap processing and memory, which render meaningless the distinction between computer and peripheral." [free registration required]
The Chicago Tribune's technology James Coates has posted a review of the Gateway MP3 Photo Jukebox, which he says is a worthy competitor to Apple's iPod mini. The Gateway player, according to the review, offers many features not found Apple's iPod, including a color screen, a replaceable lithium-on battery, and more: "There are things that the iPod can't handle, such as plugging the connector cord from a digital camera directly into it and storing pictures on the hard drive. This means that photo hobbyists can use the Gateway MP3 Photo Jukebox as a 4 gb picture storage vault about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. Of course there are things that iPods have that Gateway lacks."
Microsoft this week released its Entourage 2004 Junk E-mail Filter Update 1 (11.1.0) via the Web and via its AutoUpdate application. The update offers a more current definition of which e-mail messages should be considered junk e-mail, according to the company. The optional update is available for all versions of Entourage 2004 version 11.1 or later. Microsoft says that additional updates will follow. The 3.5MB download is available in seven langauges.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.4 ( -2.7 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R