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Group takes on Apple, MS
Apple as well as Microsoft have not yet joined a group of big consumer technology companies that have formed a new coalition aimed at developing a standard set of antipiracy tools for home electronics products. CNET News.com reports that the Marlin Joint Development Association is attempting to create standards for copy-protected content such as music or videos that will allow playback on equipment from any manufacturer. The group currently includes Panasonic, Philips Electronics, Samsung and Sony, as well as digital-rights management company Intertrust Technologies. "With that goal in mind, the group's development is aimed squarely at Apple and Microsoft, each of which use their proprietary digital-rights management (DRM) technologies for content distributed in their own media formats."
ML reiterates Buy on AAPL
Merill Lynch says the new iPod shuffle will be a big hit among customers. In a note to clients today, Merill analyst Steven Milunovich said that demand for the new flash-based MP3 player will likely outstrip supply, which is currently estimated at up to 500,000 per month by Apple's Taiwanese manufacturer. Citing increased ship times from the Apple Store, Milunovich said that his assessment was based on personal use of the player, which began shipping yesterday and is available and some Apple retail stores. The analyst, however, said that download speeds of may be some cause for concern. [updated]
Power Pack, Lilipod...
Our coverage of last week's Macworld San Francisco concludes with a look at several interesting new iPod accessories. In this report (the last of three), we look at the Solio Portable Power Pack, Lilipod, TuneBase FM, and MacMice PodBuddy. The first report included the BookEndz Docks, LaCie's d2 DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe, and Circus Ponies NoteBook, while the second report featured Griffin Technology's SmartDeck, AirClick, and Delicious Monster Software's Delicious Library.
XPostFacto 3.0 ($25) is a utility that helps to install and boot Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, and Darwin on certain unsupported systems. This release is the final version of the 3.0 update, which has been in testing for some time. [Download - 1.3MB]
A Better Finder Launcher 1.9 ($40) provides instant access to all your applications, documents and folders. Version 1.9 allows you to exclude specific locations and items from the index and allows the window transparency and text color to be customized. [Download - 1.6MB]
Saft 7.5.0 ($12) is a Safari plugin to add features like full-screen browsing, searchable bookmarks and history, URL shortcuts, kiosk mode and more. The latest version adds title, timestamp, URL and page number when printing, a "sort bookmarks" option, and more. [Download - 1.1MB]
XFlows 1.0 ($90) is a cross-platform powerful and easy to use XML and XSLT manager. It can create complex XML processing scenarios including database export and publishing. [Download - 13.5MB]
Scheduler 4.1 b1 ($30) is a sophisticated reminder with many scheduling options, such as customizable pre-warnings, repeats, sounds, fonts and text size. This latest beta release adopts new technologies available in Mac OS X, such as full unicode support, compatibilty with long file names and full adoption of the Carbon event model. [Download - 1.9MB]
ImageConverter ($8) is a simple utility that allows users to quickly convert images between several major types, including jpeg, gif, png, tif, bmp, and pict. Version 1.5 is adds the ability to resize image while converting, and is the first shareware version. [Download - 64KB]
iLife \'05, iWork ships
Apple has begun shipping iLife '05 and iWork applications to customers. Users can still place orders at the online Apple Store for delivery by January 22, the day of the software's official debut. Apple also said it is expected to have stock of the new applications at retail stores and some resellers. According to a shipment confirmation received by one MacNN reader, the Apple Store said that users could expect the software by as early as Friday. Earlier this week, we noted that Apple began shipping early Mac mini orders in a similiar effort to meet the January 22 deadline as well as began shipping early iPod shuffle orders to customers.
iPod shuffle goes quickly
In Brief: The first crop of Apple's iPod shuffle is being plucked off shelves as quickly as they appear in stores this week with the first 100 going in less than an hour on Monday at the Apple Store in the Glendale Galleria in 3 hours at the Northridge store.... Terry Gross of Gross & Belsky LLP, a lawyer at the forefront of Internet law since the net's early days, will defend Think Secret from a lawsuit brought by Apple.... Waves in Motion will be demonstrating Waves products and answering questions from the FileMaker booth at the FETC Conference at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL on January 27th.... Smash's World has posted a how-to video for disassembling the Mac mini....
Time looks at \'shuffle\'
TIME magazine has named Apple's iPod shuffle its "Gadget of the Week," offering a detailed look at the new flash-based music player by WIlson Rothman. "It's also, in some ways, the simplest to use ... And while you might suppose, like I did, that budget constraints forced a shiny LCD out of the blueprint during revisions, Apple claims it was never a consideration." Rothman says the 512MB player he tested held about 100 songs, and offered 13 hours of battery life. Rothman was slightly critical of the lack of a dedicated 'hold' button, stating "some of the Shuffle's requirements assume an unusual degree of savvy." As for sound quality, "there's no audible difference between the iPod Shuffle and its larger kin."
iPod earphones Smartwrap
Smartwrap is an iPod accessory designed to manage headphone cables -- "no more tangled cords or cords that are too long." Smartwraps, which costs $10 each, are made from soft, bendable rubber. Choose from pink, red, purple, green, blue, orange, black, clear and white. "The Smartwrap is The Slickest, Coolest, Hippest Cord Manager for Headphone Cables." Smartwrap could conceivably be used to wrap any light gauge computer cable, but is intended for use with portable music players.
3D Weather Globe & Atlas
MacKiev has released its 3D Weather Globe and Atlas, which provides "weather on your desktop" with realtime cloud cover, temperature and seven-day forecasts. The $40 application uses highest resolution NASA satellite maps, letting users locate cities, plot travel routes, time zones, country borders, night/day line, and more. The maps used are "the highest resolution maps ever made of the entire planet -- one pixel to a kilometer -- made from NASA satellite photos." Current weather conditions and a seven day forecast are provided for 10,000 cites around the world.
Apple\'s \"attitude problem\"
ZDNet UK says Apple has intriguing products and a great public image, but also has a "potential attitude problem" that could sour that image. Apple's actions this week in launching a lawsuit against ThinkSecret.com is a PR mistake, according to the article, "especially from a company that has been so careful to avoid the Big Brother image it prefers to ascribe to Microsoft and IBM ... Nice move, Steve. Stick up for the helpless billion-dollar company in the face of the rapacious penniless student."
Custom Mac mini ships
In Brief: Apple's internet user marketshare increased by 12.5 percent in 2004 (from 2.4 percent to 2.7 percent), as measured by web browsing trends at W3school. Following shipment confirmations of the Mac Mini and iPod shuffle from the Apple Store, one MacNN reader has also received shipment confirmation of his built-to-order Mac mini....Both the 1GB iPod shuffle and the 512MB iPod shuffle are the top 2 (respectively) in Amazon.com's early adopter listing based on customer purchase patterns.... lynda.com has released Learning Apple DVD Studio Pro 3 ($100), a movie-based tutorial developed for beginner or intermediate users who want to learn how to develop custom DVD interfaces and content.
iSkin Wheel Cap for iPods
iSkin Wheel Cap is an new protector for the iPod click wheel that works in conjunction with iSkin's fourth and fifth generation iPod protectors. iSkin Wheel Caps offer a full-coverage transparent barrier to extend the life of the Click Wheel by keeping it free of dirt, scratches and other damage--without compromising its functionality or sensitivity. The iSkin Wheel Cap works only with the company's form-fitting silicone-based protector for the iPod. iSkin also says it will offer an imprinted Wheel Cap service, which allows businesses and organizations to print their company logos, photo-realistic images, web addresses or marketing message on the iSkin Wheel Cap cover in full color. They will ship in February in both singles and multipacks. (Pricing not available.)
4D Meetings released
4D today released 4D Meetings 1.0, a full-fledged meetings and task management system. Users can organize contacts, send e-mails, create meeting agendas, distribute meeting minutes, assign tasks, and generate reports. It also offers the ability to sync data from 4D Meetings to Microsoft Outlook XP and Address Book/iCal on Mac OS X 10.3 Panther as well as import contact, task and event items from popular electronic address applications. Users can easily extract and distribute time/location information, notes, and agenda as well as archive meeting minutes, attendance sheets, task delegations, and other related files. 4D Meetings is available for free for Mac OS X 10.3.
Apple\'s Logic 7.01 updates
Apple today posted updates to its high-end audio applications: Logic Pro 7.01 and Logic Express 7.01. The updates to the company's professional music creation audio production software bring improvements in several areas, including compatibility with Audio Units and other formats, track automation, control surfaces, and various further improvements. The updates are the first maintenance releases to Apple's audio applications since their release last October.
Apple in enterprise?
Apple will continue to have trouble penetrating the corporate markets, according to a Silicon.com's CIO jury: "Leading IT bosses claim that despite Apple's recent revival - largely around its consumer products - the company will continue to have little impact on corporate IT strategies." One CIO said that Apple is "an irrelevance" in the enterprise markets, while another CTO simply balked at Apple's pricing and closed solutions: "Proprietary hardware and software, overpriced, few applications." At least one member of the jury, however, saw some potential calling Mac OS X, "Linux with quality assurance and style" and saying businesses will be forced to consider it because of Java's predominance, the maturing of open source, security and reliability issues, and the implications of telephony becoming software.
Nanopoint E3 for Mac mini
Nanonation has introduced Nanopoint E3, a new version of its digital merchandizing and self-service software designed to run on the Mac mini. Nanopoint E3 is an enterprise-class client/sever software platform that allows users to create, deploy and manage customer interactions via a central server (Apple Xserve) and remote Mac-based kiosks (e.g. Mac mini). "Starting at $500, you have a platform that will support real-time data, full HD content and dynamic compositing of graphics and targeted messaging at each location. Coupled with our software and management tools, there is now a complete enterprise solution for customer-facing applications at an incredible price point and with limitless capabilities." The software works with Mac OS X Panther will also leverage the new features in Mac OS X Tiger, due later this year.
SiteGrinder PS plugin
Media Lab has released SiteGrinder 1.0, a new website production plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. It uses an intuitive method of adding one-word hints, such as "rollover" or "menu" to the names of layers in Photoshop, allowing web beginners and experts alike to convert a Photoshop design into a sophisticated web site in a single click. SiteGrinder generates styled and scrolling web text, rollover buttons, popups, and multi-level menus from both graphics and text. "The designer thinks about graphic design and functionality while SiteGrinder worries about the details of actually slicing efficient graphics and programming modern, error-free HTML code." It is available for $100 (introductory pricing) for Mac OS X and Photoshop 6.0 or higher.
iDrive for UK iPod users
Hebe Styling has developed a legal FM-based in-car audio solution for iPod users in the UK. The "Apple-approved" iDrive is a cradle-based system that connects via the Dock connector to both play music and charge the music player. Macworld UK says that "unlike existing FM-based products iDrive does not break radiocommunications regulations. It uses an FM modulator fitted directly into the car stereo head unit. Because it's a direct connection, the manufacturers promise no loss of sound quality, and no stray transmissions - and it's the latter point that makes the product legal under UK radio regulations." The product is available as a £95 self-install kit, or for £195 (installation included). In the coming months, the company says it will release the iDriveColour with a fully clear frosted shell that will glow in one of six different soft neon colors.
Flash MP3 player outlook
Global sales of portable digital music players are expected to rise significantly this year, according to Creative Technology, the world's second-largest manufacturer of MP3 players. Reuters reports that Creative cited estimates from market research firm IDC and said in a seminar in Taipei that Creative and its rivals (including Samsung and Apple) would collectively sell 35 million portable flash MP3 players in 2005, compared with 25 million in 2004. "Apple is the leader in the mini hard disk-drive (HDD) music player market, with a roughly 60 to 70 percent share...But Samsung and Creative together hold 13 percent of the global market share in the fast-growing segment that uses flash memory chips, Tsai said."
Taiwan product launch
Apple on Tuesday unveiled the iPod shuffle and Mac mini to Taiwan consumers and said it expects the new MP3 player will become a hot item when it hits store shelves early next month. Apple reportedly held a press conference yesterday, according to The Taipei Times: "We have seen tremendous sales of iPod in Taiwan in the past year, and believe that the new player will also be popular with music fans that prefer flash-based MP3 players," said Kong Yuk Loong, who is general manager of Apple Computer's Taiwan branch. The 512MB and 1GB iPod shuffle will cost NT$3,600 and NT$5,400, respectively, while the Mac mini, also expected to ship next month in the country, will cost NT$17,900 and NT$21,900, depending on the model.
LeadingReporter 1.0 ships
CS Odessa has released LeadingReporter 1.0, a professional business photo-reporting tool that can generate pro-quality business event reports. LeadingReporter offers quick and easy way to automatically layout and generate pro-looking reports from a set of related digital photos and images--which can be shared as PDF documents, Web pages or PowerPoint presentations. It features a easy-to-use wizard to create reports, a number of layout templates, title page and table of contents creation, watermarking support, and background pictures. It is available for $150 with special cross-grade price for ConceptDraw and LeadingProject users available.
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