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AAPL pushes S&P Index
Apple's iPod helped the company's stock rise nearly 130 percent in 2005 and contributed 3.7 points to the S&P 500 index--more than any other stock, according to The Financial Times. The report notes that the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 blue-chip stocks was effectively flat for the year, up only 13 points at 10,796. "Google, the dominant internet search engine, gained 120 percent. But the truly perceptive would have seen the potential to profit from the twin trends of America's obesity epidemic and the rise of the internet. NutriSystem, a company offering diets and prepared food over the internet, was up 1,547 per cent for the year at one point, before a year-end profit-taking left it with a gain of 1,233 per cent. Its market capitalization now stands at $1.25B, and with a day to go before the end of trading for the year, it seemed virtually certain to be the year's best performing share on the Nasdaq stock exchange."
iPod a top tech story
The growing success of Apple's iPod is among CIO Magazine's list of the top ten tech news stories of 2005. Four years after its launch, the iPod is still "lifting company fortunes" at Apple, CIO says. Both direct sales of iPods, and the so-called Macintosh "halo-effect" are pushing Apple's income to record levels. In fact, Apple's fiscal 2005 fourth-quarter profit was the best operating quarter in company history, and analysts are forecasting further growth for Apple over the coming 12 months. Other top tech stories include the rise of Google, HP's ousting of CEO Carly Fiorina, and Microsoft's launch of the Xbox 360.
WiFi social networking
IDG World Expo today announced that it has partnered with Jambo Networks to introduce attendees to each other wirelessly at Macworld Expo, which takes January 9-13, 2006 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Jambo Networks provides a service to discover and connect people in proximity. The service facilitates Macworld Expo attendee networking before, during, and after the event. Attendees can download Jambo's application to their WiFi-enabled devices to "discover industry peers, potential customers, old friends, or like-minded Mac enthusiasts nearby. Jambo's proximity engine works online and offline and can detect others throughout a convention center, hotel, airport, or anywhere else up to 6 blocks away. Jambo also provides an online community site for Macworld attendees to browse other attendees' profiles."
MacSpeech has released a new ScriptPak for Final Draft 7, which installs nearly 250 commands into its flagship iListen application, allowing the user to do virtually anything by voice in Final Draft 7 they would normally do using keyboard shortcuts or menus. "A ScriptPak for Final Draft 7 has been one of our most oft-requested ScriptPaks," said MacSpeech Chief Evangelist Chuck Rogers. "We are thrilled to offer the advanced ability to control Final Draft 7 with one's voice. This will help screenwriters using Final Draft become even more productive." The ScriptPak for Final Draft 7 is available immediately from the MacSpeech web site and sells for $30 and requires iListen 1.6.8 or later to use the new ScriptPak.
Sony lawsuit, iTunes comp
Sony's recent CD copy-protection fiasco, which severely harmed the company's reputation in the tech sector and resulted in a class-action lawsuit against the industry giant, has taken an interesting turn in Apple's favor. Settlement class members of the late suit may download albums from any one of three major download services as part of their compensation, one of these being Apple's iTunes Music Store, according to a report from Ars Technica. The new development could draw Sony customers to Apple as an alternative source to buy their music. The copy protection scheme--designed to prevent unauthorized copying of Sony music CDs--used stealthy, "root-kit-style" techniques to disguise itself on Microsoft Windows systems, was nearly impossible to remove without corrupting the operating system, and even allowed malicious users to hide their own programs.
Apple\'s express checkout
Apple's EasyPay system will reportedly become an ongoing part of the company's retail experience, and is being considered a big success this holiday season. The iPod Express area and EasyPay checkout system was originally designed for the holidays to greatly reduce checkout times at Apple retail stores for customers who wish to purchase an iPod and continue on their way. The wireless, paperless checkout provides Apple with an opportunity to improve in-store service, according to a column from BusinessWeek online. Steve Jobs believes that many people who are comfortable buying online will not only accept getting their receipts electronically, but will actually prefer it.
UK iPod demand high
Apple's iPod saw unprecedented demand this holiday season, and the devices are still highly sought after in Northern Ireland. Retailers are reporting that the devices are virtually unavailable, with all models in high demand. The Sprucefield and Bangor PC World outlets together had only two iPods to offer, and both were display models. Currys are completely out of all iPod stock, and Dixons in Belfast has only a few models remaining. Both PC World stores have depleted supplies of both iPod models they stock, with just two black 2GB Nanos remaining as of yesterday afternoon, according to a report from the Belfast Telegraph. Ross Telford, marketing assistant with Laser Electrical, said the problem was simply supply outstripping demand--a problem not limited to Northern Ireland.
Apple respected in 2005
Apple has finally received the respect it deserves, but 2005--the year of the iPod--will be a tough act to follow and the upcoming transition in 2006 to Intel-Macs may be challenging, according to BusinessWeek columnist Arik Hesseldahl. "Apple's 2005 product-release schedule was nothing short of extraordinary. Looking back through all the press releases, and not accounting for differences in storage capacity, I've counted releases of no less than six different variants of iPod alone. That's marketing." Hesseldahl points to the widespread adoption of Mac OS X Tiger, as well as the sales figures for iPod sales, which neared 23 million in the fiscal year. Touching on Apple's soaring stock price, the columnist notes that the Apple faithful have been duely rewarded: "those who went long on Apple during its crisis days in mid-1997 found their faith rewarded in spades this year."
iPod top brand in 2005
Apple's iPod is the leading US brand along with Google, eBay, Amazon.com and Yahoo!, according to a new survey in which internet and technology brands dominated. Conducted by branding and design consultancy firm Landor Associates and research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland, the US national survey examined Americans' attitude toward some of the top brands that made headlines in 2005. The 2005 ImagePower Newsmaker Brands Survey identified the high-profile brands in consumer's minds as well as which brands suffered, and what Americans think their future holds for 2006. The results, from a mid-December survey, found that the release of the Shuffle, Nano and iPod video in 2005 combined with effective branding efforts of the company helped Apple continue its domination of the MP3 market with the iPod.
iPod buyers beware
Some iPod buyers are not finding what they expected when they open their new iPods. At least two separate reports indicate that new "sealed" Apple iPod boxes, purchased from Wal-Mart, didn't include the popular music player--but instead contained something else its place. A woman and her son from Mililani, Hawaii were caught by surprise on Christmas morning as the boy opened a box which should have contained a brand-new fifth-generation iPod from Apple, but instead contained a sealed fish or meat product. According to the report, the woman claimed the box was sealed and that it didn't appear to have been tampered with when she brought it home from the Wal-Mart in Honolulu, her place of employment according to a report from ABC News.
Podcasts go mainstream
Podcasting is becoming a routine part of every day life in the mainstream, with new podcasts cropping up on a daily basis. Runners of every skill level recently found companionship with a number of podcasts that provide inspiration and advice on the sport. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today launched a new podcast entitled "Ice Fishing Tips," a 30-minute interview with Terry Tuma, Minnesota-based outdoor writer, fishing guru and angling instructor. Just yesterday, MacNN reported that podcasting has raised church attendance in the U.K., and is already driving commercial interests heading into 2006.
Apple\'s \'home\' play in \'06
Apple will dominate more and more aspects of our lives, although it may not be office-related, according to MarketWatch columnist Bambi Francisco's review of the "Year of Suprises." Apple, she says, continues to "shine as it grabs a larger share of new markets for entertainment gadgets and media centers that hold video, pictures and music. Apple may not dominate our offices -- with only 3% of the PC market share -- but it will increasingly dominate every other room -- like our living rooms, game rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Apple is already the No. 7 music retailer, according to NPD. It's among the top 10 most visited online retailers, according to comScore. And, it was the fastest-growing Web property, according to Nielsen/NetRatings."
PCIe architecture support
Small Tree Communications today announced forthcoming support for the PCI Express (PCI-E) architecture in Apple's Power Mac lineup. Expected to debut at Macworld Expo in January, Small Tree says that full product support is expected in the first quarter of 2006. Designed to match the higher speeds of today's CPUs, the company said that PCI-E provides users with higher performance as well as lower-cost solutions. PCI-E offers a high-speed, switched architecture, can accommodate GbE and 10GbE and generally provides higher average sustained throughput than a PCI-X design, according to the company.
Laptops in Maine schools
The Maine Department of Education today is making plans to extend its laptop computer program in middle schools, past the original four-year contract. The $37.2 million dollar program which was initiated in September of 2002 provided all 15,000 seventh grade students in Maine with Apple iBooks for educational use, and was said to be a success just two months later. Next month, Maine's Department of Education will offer the program up to bidders for another four-year plan, according to a report from the Associated Press. The state can pay approximately eight million dollars to continue the Apple contract as-is, but for another two million Apple will reportedly replace all 34,000 laptops with new models. In the event that no new bidders win the contract, the state will default to extending the program with Apple's current lease agreement.
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