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Apple No. 5 in WSJ ranking
In Brief: Apple is ranked No. 5 on The Wall Street Journal's 2005 Shareholder Scorecard with a more than 200% return--behind Taser, Kmart, CME, and Autodesk.... Yahoo is poised to launch a new digital store and music player, aiming to compete more directly with Apple's successful iTunes service.... Apple's 'Made for iPod' program is seeking royalties from iPod peripheral makers who desire the additional branding on their accessories.... Sony says it will release software to allow the PSP gaming platform to sync with Sony's Connect online music serivce as well as software that will let the PSP link to PCs and Macs within a year.
MySQL tools, Mellel 1.9
MySQL Administrator 1.06b (free), now available for Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, is a powerful visual administration console that enables you to easily administer your MySQL environment and gain significantly better visibility into how your databases are operating. MySQL Administrator now integrates database management and maintenance. [2.7MB]
Mellel 1.9 ($40) is a major update to the alternative word processor for Mac OS X. Version 1.9 offers over 50 new features, and the 5 most requested missing features, including style sets, a central hub for designing page, paragraph, character, note, and list in one place. [Download - 8.6MB]
Sound Grinder 2.1 ($40) is the latest version of the audio file conversion utility. Version 2.1 includes new features and enhancements including "peak" and "RMS" Normalizing and AMR Narrowband output file support. [Download - 4.5MB]
SiteConnect Server 6.5 is a comprehensive enterprise Web application development suite. The new release of SiteConnect Server platform incorporates automatic real-time analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of Web initiatives and deliver the most relevant content for each user. [Download - form]
Tasks Pro 1.5 ($125) and Tasks 2.5 ($30) update the web-based task managers. They now offer recurring tasks, task templates, favorites, new themes, PHP 5 compatibility and (in Tasks Pro only) a new admin interface including a user permissions management screen an option to inherit task groups from a parent task when creating sub-tasks. [Demo, OSX] SQL4X Manager J 3.0 ($60) is an update to the professional database tool for Oracle 7/8/9, MS SQL Server, Sybase, MySQL, PostgreSQL, FrontBase,, and more. Version 3.0 introduces support for new database servers and high end visual design features, including ERM with support for database reverse engineering as well as performance improvements and enhancements Object Manager and Database Navigator. [4.2MB]
In brief: Computerworld editor in chief Don Tennant recalls a conversation with Bill Gates in which he said "we don't even think of Macintosh as a competitor," but Tennant says "long before Linux became a thorn in Microsoft's side, Apple was a full-fledged pain in the company's you-know-what".... Supply constraints associated with Apple's new iPod shuffle player have begun to dissipate, with virtually all backlog expected to disappear by April.... Telestream today announced an educational discount pricing program for its Flip4Mac Windows Media Export Component.... The Yorkdale Mall in Toronto has retracted its claim of a grand opening date for the Apple store there, sating "we do not yet have a specific date for the store opening".
This Thursday, Motorola is expected to announce the first iTunes-enabled handsets that will provide integration with Apple's popular music software. The company, which has been demonstrating embedded versions of the iTunes client on several prototype handsets, has caused wide-spread speculation about which phones would be the first to feature iTunes. It now appears the company's new Razr and Pebl lines may be the first to offers models with the technology. The new iTunes phones that will allow customers to play their existing iTunes songs, and possibly buy new ones. But a potential roadblock for Motorola and Apple to offer content acquisition on the device may be the wireless operators like Sprint, who are interested in setting up their own online stores. Analysts agree that carriers will ultimately get the first shot at selling songs on phones.
Office 2004 update
Microsoft today released Microsoft Office 2004 11.1.1 Update, which includes improvements to Excel add-in calculation, increases PowerPoint and Word 2004 stability, and offers additional support for device drivers and enhanced appearance of imported graphics. It is available for the English and Japanese versions immediately, and will be offered for the French, German, Italian and Swedish editions next Monday, March 14th. The update is available via the Web or via Microsoft's AutoUpdate application.
Apple dePlume lawsuit
The dePlume Organization has filed a special motion to have Apple's lawsuit against Think Secret dismissed on First Amendment grounds. "Apple's lawsuit is a affront to the First Amendment [...] If a publication such as the New York Times had published such information, it would be called good journalism; Apple never would have considered a lawsuit." The motion to dismiss the complaint was filed in California Superior Court under the California Anti-SLAPP Statute, a law designed to stem meritless lawsuits that attempt to chill valid constitutional exercises of freedom of speech. The court filings also say that the information published is not entitled to trade secret protection under the law as it already had been publicly disclosed and had no economic value. Apple's lawsuit against Think Secret is a separate action from its "John Doe" suit in which Apple did not sue any journalists, but instead sought information through subpoenas.
Napster not a threat
Merrill Lynch is raising its estimate for iPod unit sales to 4.5 million this quarter and 20 million for the year (15 million HD-based units and 5 million iPod Shuffle units). Although iPod competition is strengthening, the firm says it believes demand for the iPod shuffle continues to outstrip supply. "We believe Napster's results show that on-line music purchases continue to grow. We do not see the small rise in absolute number of subscribers (now at 270,000) as taking share from Apple's iTunes." Merrill Lynch also reported that the average iPod user in the U.S. spends $150 on accessories. Additionally, "Apple store managers tell us that iPod interest is translating into Mac sales." Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating with a price objective of $51 per share. [increased yearly iPod estimate to 20 million based on revised ML report]
CompUSA is now offering discounts on some Aspyr game titles. Indiana Jones Emperor, Medal of Honor Allied Assault Breakthrough, MTX: Mototrax, and Star Trek: Elite Force II are now available for $10. Additionally, Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of World War II, Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, SimCity 4 Rush Hour, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Athena Sword, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield are available for $20.
GraphicConverter 5.5.2 ($30) is the latest version of the popular image conversion and editing shareware app. Version 5.5.2 allows ICC profile handling in the clipboard to be disabled, adds new preferences, and fixes several bugs. [Download -4.3MB]
Ponere 2.0 ($20) is an update to the puzzle game for the Mac. Version 2.0 introduces all new graphics and 20 additional challenging levels featuring "invisible" tiles. Players arrange tiles to create closed rings, such as a circle or oval. [Download -4.3MB]
BookingPOINT 2.0 is a FileMaker 7 solution allowing universities and schools to take control of equipment and room bookings. BookingPOINT Eliminates double bookings, Eliminates hand written bookings, Stops assets from getting lost, and Reduces late returns by issuing demerit points and suspending borrowers automatically. [Download - FMP 7, Standalone]
Bubblegym 0.1 (donationware) is a tilt-sensitive game that uses the SMS (Sudden Motion Sensoring) system built in to the latest PowerBooks. The application uses a tilt-sensing engine from Kernelthread to read the values from the SMS unit. [Download -2.3MB]
Gradekeeper 5.7 ($20) is a powerful gradebook application for recording grades and attendance for the entire school year. Version 5.7 adds a new student summary report, recently opened files are listed in file menu, Page Setup settings are now saved with the class, and the user can now label a date as a non-school day by clicking on that date. [Download -3.5MB]
PDFKey ($6) lets users print restricted PDF files as well output ready to print PDFs without the required password. PDFKey Pro ($10) allows users to strip PDF files of any restrictions in printing and editing, making a perfect, un-encrypted copy of the files. It also allows batch processing of files. [Download - PDFKey, Pro]
WiebeTech today announced an improved version of its Forensic BayDock that supports both IDE and SATA drives in a write-blocked desktop forensic drive enclosure with up to four removable drive trays. The new Forensic BayDock is available in both a four bay (Quad) version and a two bay (Dual) version. The Quad Bay version is available with two IDE (one write-blocked; one read/write) and two SATA bays (one write-blocked; one read/write). The Dual version is available with two SATA bays (one write-blocked; one read/write). Quad, Dual and Single bay versions are also available that support IDE drives only.
Swift 3D Flash export
Electric Rain today announced the release of Swift 3D LW 3.0, its latest plug-in allowing Newtek LightWave 3D users to render 3D scenes in the SWF file format. Users can also render in AI, EPS, SVG and Toon Boom's PNT format. The new plug-in offers increased speed, artistic pen styles, per-object rendering, improved transparency, and realistic shadows. Swift 3D features full spectrum output, textured SWF export, and Flash integration using SmartLayer rendering. Swift 3D LW 3.0 is compatible with LightWave 3D 7.0, and costs $300 for new users, or $150 to upgrade from previous versions.
Online subscription services from Napster and others are beginning to put pressure on Apple to allow users to "rent" music, reports Reuters. "The only reason they have iTunes is to sell iPods. If it turns out subscription services are important to sell iPods, they'll probably get into that business," said Jupiter Research analyst David Card. Card expects by 2009 that subscriptions will outpace downloads, generating $890 million in revenues versus $800 million for download sales. "We think many millions of people will be buying 5 to 15 downloads per year versus fewer, a few million, who will spend 10 to 15 dollars a month for subscriptions." Shares of Apple fell 5 percent or $2.33 a share after Napster raised its current quarter revenue forecast to $15 million from $14 million. Napster said demand for players compatible with its service from iRiver, Creative, and Dell was strong.
Apple in Jacksonville, FL
In Brief: Apple will hold the grand opening for a its new Apple Store St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 18 at 10 am.... GarageBand expert Jeff Tolbert has posted "GarageBand Recording Tips," which provides tips for users of GarageBand 1/2.... Sony's major management overhaul includes the termination of President Kunitake Ando (who appeared onstage at Macworld Expo in January 2005) and the appointment of a new chairman and chief executive, Howard Stringer.... The success of Apple's iPod may provide a springboard for expansion of the Mac market and a "uptake of Apple PCs in businesses beyiond its established niches (for DTP, Photography, Video, etc.)."
Patent violations by Apple
Two separate companies are alleging that Apple's iPod violates their patents. Advanced Audio Devices has sued Apple claiming its iPod music player violates one of its patents. The Chicago Tribune reports that Advanced Audio told Apple in December that the iPod infringed on its Music Jukebox patent, but that Apple ignored its attempt to seek a business resolution. Advanced Audio Devices was founded in 1997 by Peter Keller, is developing music storage products, but does not generate any revenue, according to the report. Meanwhile, a Hong Kong-based company called Pat-rights claims that Apple's iTunes/iPod system violates its patent on the digital rights management (DRM) techniques. The company alleges that the iTunes Music Store infringes on its patent for verifying an subscription online prior to authorizing a download and is seeking 12 percent of Apple's gross on the gross proceeds from iTunes/iPods, according to an interview with a company representative.
Basic ALAC decoder
One developer has reversed engineered Apple's Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), a lossless audio codec that retains the full quality of uncompressed CD audio while requiring only about half the storage space. Apple's closed ALAC file format, which previously required iTunes or the iPod or a QuickTime-compatible application for playback, allows users to listen to their ALAC-encoded files in other applications and on other operating systems. David Hammerton's basic ALAC decoder is a C implementation of a decoder based on reverse engineering of the file format. "It turns out that most of the algorithms in the codec are fairly well known. ALAC uses an adaptive FIR prediction algorithm," according to developer. Hammerton notes the release has some limitions--only providing suppor for only 16-bit mono/stereo files, but says that the decoder can easily adapted/upgraded for broader support. The ALAC Decoder can output the decoded file into either PCM or WAV files.
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