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iPod dominates colleges
The dominance of Apple's iPod in the digital music world has brought the company back as the darling of the tech industry, but its overwhelming presence is leading some users to wish for more competition to bring prices down and push product development. However, Apple continues to push its presence on college campuses, with aggressive advertising and strong iTunes mindshare, which has lead its rival, Napster, to welcome a partnership with Apple, according to The BG News. The iPod is everywhere at Bowling Green State University, but with users looking for competition and a growing number of competiting products, the company may become a victim of its own success: "[Apple] gained the music, but with more and more companies coming out with the MP3 format, you'll see a surge in sales so people can play this other music," one analyst told the publication.
Yahoo updates Music Engine
In a bid to make gains on Apple's industry-leading iTunes, Yahoo today announced a new version of its music jukebox software: the Yahoo! Music Engine now offers functionality for simple playlist creation and sharing, improved sync features, and the ability to connect music throughout the home with a new Network Music feature. The software enables users to share music by e-mail or via Yahoo! Messenger or with the entire Yahoo! Music community. Yahoo also added tools to find music and other users with similar tastes as well as search for user-created playlists by artist, song, or keyword. Much like iTunes, the software now offers drag and drop albums and songs to their portable device as well as create custom playlists specific for their portable device. Attempting to improve connectivity within the home, the Yahoo! Music Engine will automatically detect any supported devices and allow users to play music from their collections throughout their home on any supported network music device.
Shuffle cuts to harm AAPL?
Industry watchers today speculated about the possibility of Apple's profit margins suffering, due to the company's decision to cut prices on its iPod shuffle digital music players. Apple has to date sold over 40 million iPods since the company introduced the small players in 2001, and sold more than 30 million units in 2005 alone. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said he was not concerned about Apple's profit margins suffering, according to Reuters. "The price of components have come down more than 70 percent, especially flash memory for the Shuffle," Wu said. "And the price of the Shuffle hadn't changed, so they were making a ton of profit off the Shuffle. So they're passing some of those savings on."
iTMS sells 12M videos
Apple today said its iTunes Music Store has sold 12 million videos. The news comes just hours after CBS and Apple both announced the addition of Showtime content on iTunes, as well as Apple's launch of its one billion song promotion. Recently networks even began crediting iTunes with increasing viewership, a turnaround from past skepticism and worry regarding online video content. Another service recently launched allowing artists to publish their own work on iTMS, as well as RealNetworks' Rhapsody service without the need for record labels. The addition of ESPN and ABC Sports enhnaced available content for iTunes users in January, followed by the addition of NHL and Nascar content.
Picture Porter Elite
Digital Foci today announced that it will be showcasing its Picture Porter Elite--a portable digital photo album that features 40GB and 80GB hard drives and a memory card reader--at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Conference. A 3.6-inch LCD allows users to rotate, zoom, pan, view EXIF information, and play picture slideshows on the device in the field. The Picture Porter Elite can connect to a TV to share photos, and can copy as well as archive photos directly from any digital camera memory card, without the need for cumbersome peripheral attachments or cabling. The Picture Porter Elite supports the PictBridge standard, which allows the device to print directly to any PictBridge compliant printer without a computer. The device works with all popular media card formats, including CF I/II, MD, MMC, SD Card, Memory Stick, MS PRO, MS Duo, and MS PRO Duo. Picture Porter Elite functions as a portable video and MP3 player, and features a built-in microphone for recording capability. Picture Porter Elite weights 11 ounces, measures 5.3 x 3.1 x 1.1-inches, and will be available in May for $500. The device ships with Ulead management software (Windows only), a USB cable, video/audio cables, and earphones.
Google chat for Gmail
Google has added a chat function to Gmail accounts, currently available to users of Windows IE 6.0+ and Firefox 1.0+, but not users of Safari. Google chat allows Gmail users to keep in touch with contacts via IM, and features searchable chat history, quick contact lists, pop out windows for individual chats, customizable status, free voice calls via Google Talk, the ability to save chats, and the ability to go "off the record" in chats. According the website, Google plans to have the chat function available to more browsers soon. (Gmail's new chat features, while integrated with the Google Talk network, do not allow users to make or receive calls--which still requires the download the Google Talk Windows client.)
AZiO external kits
AZiO later this month will announce its new line of aluminum series drive enclosures is shipping. The kits convert a hard disk drive into an external drive, and include bus-powered connectivity. "The new aluminum industrial design is both functional and stylish -- offering an exceptionally sturdy yet lightweight feel combined with unsurpassed heat and noise dampening." There are three models of external storage kits for PC, Mac and laptop available-- the USB 2.0 external 3.5-inch drive ($32), USB 2.0 external 2.5-inch drive ($18), and USB 2.0 + FireWire 1394 external 3.5-inch drive kit ($40).
Camino, Xyle, ScriptFire
Camino 1.0 RC 1 (free) is a Web browser created specifically for the Mac, designed to look and feel like a Mac OS X application. Camino utilizes the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine, and features form autofill as well as rich text editor Midas. Additional Camino features include XML "pretty print," history search, and w3c standard webpage accesskey. Version 1.0 adds HTML 'canvas' support, contextual menus on the URL bar lock icon, new preference options, additional tabbing abilities, new download options, and more. [Download - 8.1MB]
Xyle scope 1.1.6 ($20) is an XHTML/CSS analysis tool. The author claims it is like surfing the Web with "x-ray vision," allowing users to see and change CSS values in author-style sheets. Xyle scope can export interesting source code, search, filter, and more. The update supports Apple's Intel-based Macs, and includes several bug fixes as well as added improvements. [Download - 1.4MB]
ScriptFire ($60) is a script triggering and scheduling plug-in for FileMaker 7/8. ScriptFire can trigger scripts to check user input after leaving a field or record, or once at an absolute/relative point in time. The software can control FileMaker windows by executing a script when a specific window comes to the front, and can schedule the power management of the system that runs the user's FileMaker solution. [Download - [login]]
ReallyEasyReader ($17) is speed reading software for aiding users in learning to speed read. The application is useful in overcoming dyslexia or ADHD, according to the company, and teaches users to absorb more information while retaining comprehension levels. ReallyEasyReader offers visually impaired users the ability to view text at virtually any size, negating the need to peer at the screen to clearly see material. [Download - 2.22MB]
OpenNow 3.0 ($45) is a public beta for use with QuarkXPress and QuarkXPress Passport 7. The application is an XTension that allows users to double-click on any picture to access extensive image information. The software also provides tools for updating, revealing, changing preview resolution, and opening images with its default application or any other specified software. [Download - [login]]
Gawker 0.5 (free) is an application for Mac OS X Tiger that creates time-lapse movies using an Apple iSight camera. Images from the camera can be shared, allowing other users to record the image stream. Streams can also be combined to create a time-lapse movie with two locations side-by-side. [Download - [options]]
EU antitrust regulators
European Union antitrust regulators today said they were investigating the European agencies that collect royalties for musicians from online vendors, such as Apple's iTunes Music Store, to open the market for online music. The European Commission said it was concerned that contracts with composers, organized strictly along national lines, may violate rules on restrictive business practices and provide national copyright agencies with a monopoly, according to a report from the Associated Press. Commercial users that want to buy the rights are required to obtain a license from each national society which only covers that country-- a complicated and expensive process for online music sites hoping to make songs available online across the European Union. Apple's iTunes has separate French, German, and British sites with a different portfolio of music tracks, according to the report.
Students make iPod cases
Students at the University of Minnessota's Carlson School of Management have created a new case for the iPod. WCCO.com reports that as part of a class, Professor Frank Beil asked the students to develop and operate their own business. Out of seven competing groups one entrenprenurial team was chosen to operate its idea, uSuits, which provides protective casings for iPods, reportedly selling them at the University's book store and the Mall of America's College Store. Adding to the growing influence of iPods in universities, the students are looking to sell the uSuits with school logos from all over America eventually, having sold 30 so far. According to WCCO.com, the money from the business will be going to non-profit organizations.
In brief: Adobe is continuing its eSeminar series for creative and production professionals with a Creative Suite 2 software series, featuring industry experts David Blatner, Anne-Marie Concepcion, and Mordy Golding... The National Association of Photoshop Professional (NAPP) announced the winners of the Digital Canvas Awards-- its first international competition for users of Photoshop, in which over 600 entries were received... Podcasts are assisting a team of realters with their business-- they offer up listings so potential clients can easily share them with friends and family... Server Codex has published a tutorial for the DarwinPorts package manager, now available for viewing online... Opera has announced it will release a new version of its desktop software sometime this year which will incorporate BitTorrent file-sharing and widgets-- a preview version, Opera 9 TP2, will be made available soon.
Plugins for FinalTouch
Nattress has released Advanced Plugins for FinalTouch, a suite of plug-ins that enhance the capabilities of FinalTouch SD, Finaltouch HD, and FinalTouch 2k. The plug-ins include a de-interlacer, 2-Strip and 3-Strip Technicolor simulation looks, and a suite of tools for dealing with chroma sampling issues from DV as well as HDV. All of the plugins are written to take advantage of FinalTouch's real-time, GPU-based ColorFX architecture. FinalTouch is a colorist package that is designed to integrate nicely with Final Cut Pro. Advanced Plugins for FinalTouch include G 2 Strip; G 3 Strip; G Bleach Bypass; G Bleach Bypass Sharp; G Blend; G Chroma Offset; G Chroma Sharpen; G Chroma Smooth 4:1:1; G Chroma Smooth 4:2:0; G Chroma Smooth 4:2:2; G Detail Contrast; G Percentage Median; G RGB to YCbCr; G YCbCr to RGB; G Smart Deinterlace; G S-Curve; G S-Curve Luma; and G S-Curve RGB. The package is available for $500, and the demo includes a free un-watermarked plug-in dubbed "G Blend."
Analysts upbeat on AAPL
Despite the recent 20 percent drop in Apple's stock, some analysts continue to have faith in Apple and say that the recent weakness presents a buying opportunity for investors. Analyst firm Piper Jaffray today reiterated an 'outperform' rating on Apple's stock, saying that investor concerns over the Intel transition are short-sighted, despite the waiting for professional level software from Quark, Microsoft, and Adobe, who recently said that Intel-native software may be one year away. Reiterating a 'buy' on the stock, analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research also said the stock has potential upside with a strong Intel transition outlook and improved iTunes/iPod penetration as well as an upcoming Apple media event that will shed some light on future product plans.
Opera Mobile, Rendercore
In brief: Twisted Ninja Software has released the third version of its iTunes sales tracker, Nine Figures 3, which tracks iTunes sales as Apple moves towards its one billion song goal... Opera Software today announced that Sony Ericsson's new 3G smartphone--the M600--will ship with Opera Mobile as its default browser.... Rendercore today announced complete integration and support for the HAIR module from Maxon.... Prosoft has announced that it has moved to a new building located at 303 Ray Street in Pleasanton, CA.... A new report has surfaced which touches on why Apple switched to Intel, and suggests that both Motorola and IBM treated Apple as a second-class customer with regard to the G4 and G5 chips.... DincType today announced the launch of its dinc UK Minisite, offering many new fonts alongside older favorites....
Undercover supports iSight
Orbicule has released Undercover 1.5. Undercover adds the Mac's unique Undercover ID to the database if the user's Mac is ever stolen, transmitting the computer's exact location over the internet. If recovery fails, Undercover will simulate a hardware failure, encouraging the thief to sell the computer or send it in for repair. The application now comes with iSight support-- for both external and built-in models- making it possible to transmit pictures of the thief. The update also provides improved reliability and security, and fixes of all known issues. Undercover 1.5 is a Universal binary requiring Mac OS X Tiger; the cost is $30.
Blackjack Card Counter 3.0
Dragon Forged Software has released Blackjack Card Counter 3.0 for Mac OS X, designed to teach users how to beat the house in Casinos statistically. The software supports most Blackjack casino rules, and optionally displays a chart depicting the best statistical move. Blackjack Card Counter also displays statistical information related to the art of card counting, and keeps detailed user statistics which will notify players when they are ready to count cards in a real casino. Feature sinclude customizable dealer options, realistic casino behavior, automatic updates, and the ability to play up to four hands simultaneously. Blackjack Card Counter 3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is priced at $15.
CryptoEdit 1.1 ($20) is a full featured word processor for reserved documents, handling TEXT, RTF, and RTFD formats, and saving documents on disk as Blowfish encrypted. CryptoEdit is now a native Cocoa application, with a Universal binary coming in March. New in this release are more proference options, bug fixes, and improvements in the graphical interface. [Download - 184KB]
OsiriX 2.3 (free) is a medical imaging program. OsiriX is now a Universal binary localized in English, French, German, and Japanese. New features include faster volume rendering, a 3D Texture mapping engine for VR: Engine tool, a virtual endoscopy viewer, new CLUTS, WL and WW float values, Fly Thru records "crop box" information, easier DICOM burner, contextual menus in the Database window, a ROI: Brush tool, and more. [Download - [options]]
Power Manager 3.2 (€20) is a program for saving energy by automating the Mac to start up or wake, shut down, restart, log out, switch users, and sleep. New features include a fast user switch event, an inactivity event trigger, a dashboard widget to show pending events, automatic waking for scheduled events, and a command line option for installing new schedules. Power Manager 3.2 requires Mac OS X Panther or Tiger, with Universal binary coming soon. [Download - 330KB]
xTime Project 3.5 ($100) is a project and tasks management tool which provides diagrams to facilitate the effective communication between team members. New features include Universal binary, better performance, a new Milestone function, a new user interface, bug fixes, and more. [Download - 9.6MB]
iPresent It 1.4 ($18) is now a Universal binary application, which allows the user to convert their PowerPoint, PDF, and Keynote presentations into slideshows that are synced with any iPod that features a color screen. Presentations are saved as albums in iPhoto or sub-folders of a folder. This new version adds Keynote 3 and iPhoto 6 support. [Download - 865KB]
PDF Bee 2 ($90) outputs the user's InDesign documents, with each page Postscripted or PDF'd as its own page. The user can choose to process one file at a time, or turn on the Automatic setting. PDF 2 runs only on Mac OS X Tiger. Other new additions include the ability to output only Postscript files or export directly from InDesign, or the traditional Postscript to Distilled PDFs; the option to "redirect" the output files to another folder; and PDF Bee can now handle files over 1000 pages, and more. [Download - [purchase]]
Impression 3.0 released
Babel Company today released Impression 3.0, an automatic digital archiving utility for Mac OS X that moves large amounts of data to spanned DVD/CD sets, or to mounted drives for offline storage and backup. Other Impression features include an automatic scheduling system, incremental/differential archiving operations, the preservation of all HFS+/Spotlight metadata, after-write file verification, and bookmark-based management features. Version 3.0 boasts an automatic scheduler that works in conjunction with Apple's iCal, performance increases under Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and various bug fixes. Additionally, Impression includes a full manual offering step-by-step how-to information, answers to popular questions, and workarounds. Impression 3.0 is available for $50 until April 1st, whereafter the price will increase to $100. Upgrades are free for existing users, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Nine Figures 3 track sales
Twisted Ninja Software has released the third version of its iTunes sales tracker, Nine Figures 3, which tracks iTunes sales as Apple moves towards its 1 billion song goal. Nine Figures 3 is a little utility that sits in the menu bar and pulls data from Apple's website. It also offers a menu of the top 10 songs sold on iTunes, providing a quick and convenient way for people to check out what's popular on iTunes.
Apple in Irvine, CA
Apple today announced the opening of its newest retail store: the Apple Store Irvine Spectrum. The thirty-second Apple Store in California will open on Saturday, February 11th in Irvine, following the recent opening of the Apple Store in New Jersey this past weekend. As usual, the company is offering a 1000 t-shirt giveway during the grand opening as well as a Grand Opening Sweepstakes to win a Digital Lifestyle Collection valued at $2229. Meanwhile, ifoapplestore reports that that two new locations have been selected for Apple retail stores, incuding a third store in Canada in the Montreal suburb of Laval and another US store in Knoxville, Tennesee. "A new store will occupy the huge Le Carrefour Laval mall in the mostly-residential, French-speaking district northwest of downtown Montreal. The city has been without a major walk-in retail showroom of Apple gear since B.mac closed in Oct. 2004....the West Town Center on Knoxville’s southwest side will host a new Apple store."
FontAgent Pro 3.1
Insider Software is now shipping FontAgent Pro 3.1, its latest font management and repair software for creative professionals. FontAgent Pro is a font management system that integrates diagnostics, repair, font selection, font creation, and design tools. New features include a font "waterfall" view, a preference that allows users to display or suppress font auto-activation notifications, improved auto-activation performance for all applications, faster font importing, improved handling of certain non-conforming Postscript Type 1 fonts, speed increases in launching large font libraries, resolution of authentication issues when managing system fonts under Tiger, and a redesigned and updated auto-activation engine that provides a faster, more reliable performance with InDesign CS and CS2. FontAgent Pro 3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and costs $100-130; it is a free upgrade for registered users of 3.0.
iTunes 1B song countdown
Apple has launched a new 1 billion song countdown to celebrate the historical digital music milestone. Apple's iTunes Music Store is offering a free 4GB iPod nano and a $100 iTunes gift card to a lucky winner who downloads every 100,000 song as well as a grand prize package that includes a 20-inch iMac, ten 60GB iPods, and a $10,000 iTunes gift certificate. "We’ve got one billion reasons to celebrate, and we’re starting with you. As we mark our way to one billion, the music fans who download every 100,000th song will receive a prize package featuring a black 4GB iPod nano and a $100 iTunes Music Card." In addition, Apple today lowered the price of the 512MB and 1GB Shuffle and debuted a new 1GB iPod nano as well as added Showtime content to iTunes. The website is offering a countdown image that shows a near-realtime count of the number of songs sold through iTunes and Apple said it will create a full-ride scholarship in the winner's name to a world-renowned music school. In addition, iPodNN notes a new utility that conveniently tracks sales of iTunes songs in the menubar.
Showtime on iTunes
CBS Corporation's Showtime Networks and Apple today announced that premium cable programming from Showtime, including recent Golden Globe nominees "Sleeper Cell" and "Weeds," is now available on the iTunes Music Store. With the addition of Showtime hit programming, iTunes now offers more than 50 popular TV shows available for just $1.99 per episode for viewing on a computer or iPod. Apple said that the iTunes Music Store is the "world's most popular" video download store," with more than 12 million videos purchased and downloaded. "iTunes allows fans of these hit Showtime programs to purchase and watch them in an innovative way," said Matthew C. Blank, chairman of Showtime Networks. "It is also a tremendous opportunity for non-subscribers to sample Showtime's programming."
1GB iPod nano
Apple today unveiled a new 1GB iPod nano for $150 as well as reduced prices on the iPod shuffle line. The new 1GB Nano offers the same features as the 2GB and 4GB iPod nano models and holding up to 240 songs or 15,000 photos. "The new 1GB iPod nano's ultra-portable design is thinner than a #2 pencil and features Apple's patent pending Click Wheel and the same gorgeous color screen as the other iPod nano models." In addition, Apple has reduced pricing on its iPod shuffle, offering the 512MB and 1GB models for $69 and $99, respectively.
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