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ML iPod estimates up
Merill Lynch has raised its iPod sales estimates for the March quarter, folowing the introduction of the 1GB iPod nano and the price reduction on Apple's iPod shuffles. In a research note to clients, Merill Lynch research analyst Richard Farmer said he now expects Apple to ship 10.1 million iPods, up from the previous estimate of 9.8 million. The firm also increased its fiscal year 2006 estimates to 53.2 million (from 52.3 million). "The new 1GB iPod nano makes Apple's lower-end offerings more competitive with numerous Asian players," states the note. Merill also says that the recent decline in Apple's stock (AAPL), brings the stock "closer to reasonable valuation," as well as a continued concern over Intel transition issues with Adobe and Microsoft. Adobe said it would not be transitioning its software into Universal binary until as late 2007.
Kids GoGoGo 10.0 released
MAKI Enterprise today released Kids GoGoGo 10.0, its parental control program for Mac OS X that blocks both Blogs and websites. Version 10 offers a speedier proxy, adds two filters, supports the "Stop Downloading" option, and can filter video podcasts. The update also features improved accuracy of site judgement, enhanced safe searches, improved blog filtering, a better screen log, a completely rewritten "Stop Movie Playing" option, and an improved "Restrict by Time" setting. Kids GoGoGo 10.0 requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, and is available for $30. The upgrade is free for existing users.
ExtremeZ-IP Server 4.2
Group Logic announced the release of ExtremeZ-IP File Server 4.2. The new version is a free update offering a simplified configuration of home directories through the ExtremeZ-IP Administrator interface. ExtremeZ-IP allows administrators better control of resources by automatically logging out users who are no longer actively accessing the server, and allows for file sharing between Mac desktops and Windows servers. The server offers support for Apple's latest version of the AppleShareIP file sharing protocol, AFP 3.1, and also includes a number of enhancements and important bug fixes. ExtremeZ-IP File Server costs $1,345 for a Mac-compatible, ten-client server.
SanDisk takes 2nd place
SanDisk--one of Apple's competitors in the digital music industry--has quietly slipped into second place in digital music player sales. "We want to be a strong No. 2 in the MP3 space," Eric Bone said, director of consumer product marketing for SanDisk. The company's players are aimed at people seeking an alternative to Apple's iPod, and who want to load their devices up with songs sold through services other than iTunes, according to the San Jose Mercury News. SanDisk has a strong presence with retailers across the U.S., reporting a record $2.3 billion in revenue for 2005 and selling a million digital music players during the holiday quarter. We already have the channels. We have the brand," said Eli Harari, chief executive of SanDisk. "We are not Apple. We are not an iPod. But we have a highly respected brand."
Delicious Library 1.6
Delicious Monster Software today released Delicious Library 1.6, an upgrade to its home-library cataloging and sharing application for books, movies, music, and video games. Delicious Library allows the user to scan and "shelve" their content in digital shelves with 3D rederings of the covers, and offers automatic syncing with iPods, a native XML format, and Address Book and iCal integration. Version 1.6 adds a new barcode scanning technology to enable owners of new Intel-based Macs to use their integrated iSight cameras. Delicious Library 1.6 is a now a Universal Binary for both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs, includes assorted bugfixes and performance improvements as well as localizations for three additional languages (Danish, Italian, and Swedish); it is available for $40.
Antitrust case vs AAPL
A new ruling has paved the way for an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit, filed against Apple by an unhappy iTunes customer, claims that Apple engaged in anticompetitive behavior by forcing him to buy an iPod. Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court of Northern California has found the plaintiff, Thomas Slattery, as having "met all requirements for asserting [Apple's iTunes and iPod] tying claim, noting that the complaint alleges Apple has an 80 percent share of the market for legal digital music files and more than 90 percent of the market for portable hard-drive digital music players." Judge Ware has given Slattery the go-ahead to proceed with his monopolization claim under the federal Sherman Antitrust Act, according to eHomeUpgrade. Slattery claimed that Apple's system freezes out competitors, and while one antitrust expert called it a long shot, another antitrust law professor said that the key to such a lawsuit would be convincing a court that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market.
Apple future is bright
Apple's short-term growth may be slow, but the company has significant potential for long-term growth, according to UBS Investment Research (UBS). After a meeting with Apple management earlier this year--including CFO Peter Oppenheimer--UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes said that slower Mac sales due to the Intel transition and concerns of iPod nano sale declines have some worried about Apple's future. While Reitzes conceded that there are some "near-term risks to earnings upside due to the transition to Intel processors," he said that he is "still confident in Apple's product road map-- including potential for new iBooks by April in time for the June quarter, a potential "media hub" product (and more services), new iPods into year-end (including a new media player) and even a new cell phone within a year."
Intel iMac video problems
Apple is investigating reports of video problems in the new Intel iMacs, which the company unveiled in early January at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Recent reports claim that some users have experienced random horizontal lines and other video playback problems when playing video in Front Row, according to Macworld UK. "Apple is aware of this issue and is looking into it," the company said in an email. "If a customer has any technical issues, they should contact AppleCare." The problem is apparently software-based.
Computer Systems Odessa today unveiled its ConceptDraw NetDiagrammer software for network and system design, as well as the creation of diagrams and schematics. The application features libraries of highly-detailed shapes, an automatic local area network scanner and diagrammer, a cable length estimator, an IP subnet mask calculator, and intelligent "smart-connectors" to connect components. ConceptDraw NetDiagrammer also offers the ability to export to graphic formats (PDF, Power Point, Flash, HTML), multi-page documents with hyperlinks, custom properties for storing detailed information about network equipment, rich text capabilities to annotate diagrams, and built-in ConceptDraw Basic script language for custom integration of diagrams with any data source. ConceptDraw NetDiagrammer is available for $300, and requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later.
Keynote 3.0 ScriptPak
MacSpeech today released a new ScriptPak for Keynote 3.0, adding nearly 300 commands to iListen that allow users to do virtually anything in Keynote 3.0 that they would normally do using keyboard shortcuts or menus. ScriptPaks add voice control for many applications by installing scripts and macros into iListen 1.6.8 or later. Once installed, users can speak to accomplish many other tasks in the application for which the scripts in the ScriptPak were designed. "As Apple continues to bring great software products to the Mac, we are pleased to speech-enable them" said Chuck Rogers of MacSpeech. "The Keynote 3.0 ScriptPak is about 30 percent larger than our ScriptPak for Keynote 2.0, giving users more control than ever." The ScriptPak for Keynote 3.0 is available for $20, and requires iListen 1.6.8 or later.
LANrev 2.0 goes Universal
Pole Position Software today released LANrev Management Software 2.0, an update its software for central management of multiple Macs that automates several time-consuming IT processes. Version 2.0 of LANrev now includes fully automated Mac OS X patch management and runs as a Universal application for both Power PC and Intel-based Macs; it also includes many other significant feature and performance enhancements, according to the company. LANrev can automate labor intensive IT tasks such as software distribution and end point management. It offers functions for software deployment, asset management, remote configuration, patch management, software metering, and software license monitoring. LANrev Agents require a minimum of Mac OS 10.2.8 on the Mac and Windows 2000 on the PC. Pricing starts at $38 per seat with "significant" volume discounts available. [updated]
Liquid Ledger, iReveal
Liquid Ledger 1.5.1 ($75) is a free update to the personal finance software for Mac OS X to run natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The personal accounting solution offers over a dozen time-saving features such as Transaction AutoComplete and the ability to import account activity downloaded from financial institutions. It offers reminders for bill payments, helps balance a checkbook, supports virtually any currency, and can generate PDF reports. Liquid Ledger is available as a free 60-day trial version and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Dobry Backuper 1.4 ($30) is now available as a Universal Binary; the easy-to-use backup solution for individuals, small home and corporate networks, will now run both on PowerPC Mac and on Intel Mac under Mac OS X. The software offers a friendly interface as well as powerful backup capabilities, such as automatic scheduled backups for full automation. The update also corrects the display of the files modification date-time in the backup content table. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [880KB]
iReveal 1.0 ($20) is a desktop file search utility designed to "scour corners of your hard drive that yoru system's built-in search tools may ignore." The application searches in real-time, and displays files that are invisible in the file manager. Additionally, iReveal 1.0 is available as a Universal Binary, offering compatibility with Apple's new Intel-based Macs. [Download - 4MB]
Blog Thing (donationware) is a simple blogging application for the non-technical individual. The application contains just enough features to allow users with a single blog to make posts containing different fonts, coloured text and images. "If you can write an email you can now have a blog. It's that simple." Blog Thing has only been tested against WordPress, but it may work with other blog systems that support XML-RPC posting, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 168KB]
Quartonian 0.45 ($price) is a specialized, simplified tool for creating beat-synced animations from folders full of still images. Created entirely with Quartz Composer and Interface Builder, the application is designed primarily as a live performance tool, but could be used for motion graphics design. Beats-per-minute (BPM) are set with four clicks of the mouse, and dual-screen output can be managed by setting up screen spanning and dragging the output display to completely fill the TV out. [Download - 2.3MB]
Postal 2 for Mac OS X 1409.2 patch (free) updates Postal 2 as a Universal Binary, offering compatibility with the new Intel-based Macs. The update adds stencil buffer support which fixes mirrors not reflecting, includes other rendering fixes and enhancements from UT2004, and fixes some memory corruption crashes. The 1409.2 patch also updates OpenAL with several more fixes, disables mmap() for file input/output to repair memory issues, and fixes karma crashes usually seen in Apocalypse Weekend. [Download - 13.6MB]
Apple birthday suprises?
Apple may be planning a birthday bash in the form of exciting new products, according to a new analyst report. Charles Wolf of Needham & Co. says that Apple could use April 1--Apple's 30th birthday--as an opportunity to introduce an Intel-based iBook as well as the "real" video iPod. Wolf says that a failure by Apple to have an Intel iBook ready for purchase by the May beginning of the K-12 school-buying season would significantly jeopardize Apple's education sales, in which the iBook represents an "increasing fraction." Wolf noted that "at the end of his Macworld keynote address in January, Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, noted that the company will celebrate its 30th birthday on April 1, 2006. While it's possible that Jobs was simply pointing out the longevity of Apple, we interpret it as a signal that Apple will hold a major birthday party in the form of new product event around that date, most likely in early April."
WeatherBug Lite Mac
WeatherBug today released new weather tracking tools for Mac OS X. The provider of live, local weather information services announced several new innovations from its WeatherBug Labs. The company released a final version of WeatherBug Lite Mac, the Mac version of WeatherBug Lite. The free software installs in the menubar on Mac OS X 10.2.x, 10.3.x and 10.4.x and users easy access to several Web-based resources as well as a display of the current temperature in any city. The company also released a WeatherBug Local Weather Dashboard Widget for Mac OS X 10.4 (as well as the Yahoo! Widget Engine), which places detailed forecasts, radar, news and severe weather alerts from WeatherBug's proprietary network on users' desktops. A new WeatherBug Plug-in for Firefox also delivers detailed forecasts, radar, news and severe weather alerts.
MacBook Pro, MacNN reviews
In brief: Apple's online store lists the ship time for new MacBook Pro orders as 3-4 weeks, indicating that the company will have a hard time filling all backorders this quarter--a possibility that Apple management predicted earlier this year at the quarterly conference call.... MacNN has reviewed the Boostaroo Revolution ($80) from Upbeat Audio, as well as the Marware Sportsuit Sleeve ($20) iPod case.... The 75 Minutes music program had a chance to interview the CEO of TuneCore, a new music service that allows artists to publish their works on iTunes and Rhapsody while retaining rights to property, as well as profits.... Dover Studios today released its latest training DVD entitled "Maya: NURBS Modeling 2nd Edition," ($50) offering an introduction to NURBS Modeling in Maya.... Silent Universe--an "edgy" SciFi drama with a "choose your own adventure" twist--will premiere on February 15th via SilentUniverse.com, as well as Apple's iTunes.
Adobe Acrobat updates
Adobe today posted updates to its Acrobat software, which offers sophisticated control over PDF creation and workflows. The Acrobat 7.07 update is available for both Professional and Standard editions, bringing new functionality, bug fixes, and security updates. The updates deliver support for new 3D content, allowing users to view, interact with, annotate, and measure 3D content embedded in PDF documents created with Adobe Acrobat 3D as well as view and interact with the 3D model tree. Both updates also offer additional stability improvements, according to Adobe. Adobe also updates its freeware Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.07, which brings the same changes as well as improved support for static and dynamic PDF forms created or enabled by Adobe LiveCycle.
The Harbinger Saga ships
Matrix Games today announced that Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga is now available for Mac OS X. The new Mac game title has been recognized as the Best Independent Game of 2005 by Computer Games Magazine. Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga is a sci-fi themed experience that "melds card and strategy gaming into a whole new genre." Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga features a unique set of single player campaigns along with enhanced graphics, an improved user interface, new maps, new cards, new sound effects, four player games, a tournament drafting system, and many minor adjustments to improve the game. The digital download is now available, while a boxed version for Mac users will be available for sale within a week, according to the company. The company notes that the installation process as well as the online play require an internet connection. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later and is available for $30.
Perceptive updates Indigo
Perceptive Automation today released Indigo 1.8, an update to the company's intelligent home control and automation server for Mac OS X. Indigo v1.8 now provides support for INSTEON, SmartLabs' home-control networking technology and SmartLabs' PowerLinc V2 home automation interface. INSTEON uses a dual-mesh (wireline and radio frequency) communications technology to link together core home systems such as lighting, security, comfort control, security systems, home sensors, consumer electronics and appliances for remote monitoring and control. The company says that Mac users can now manage their INSTEON-enabled home control products from their computer.
FireWire 4U RAID system
FireWire Depot today debuted its new FireWire 4U rackmount enclosure with up to 6 terabytes (TB) of storage. The enclosure features a 12 hot-swappable IDE-based drive bays--each of which can utilize a 500GB drive for up to 6.0TB. The system supports both hardware and software RAID configurations as well as can be configured as a JBoD using standard partition, mirroring, striping or any combination of, even RAID 50. The Near-Line RAID Storage Cluster system supports six (6) paired RAID level 0 sets, which can be combined using software RAID to configure the entire system as RAID 1 +0 or RAID 5+0 in a 4U 12-bay FireWire 800 (FireWire 400 compatible) host interface. It is available for $1,200.
Squeezebox support Pandora
Slim Devices and Pandora have anounced a partnership to support Pandora Radio on the Squeezebox Internet music player. Users can simply enter the name of their favorite song or artist into Squeezebox and Pandora creates a custom radio stream based on songs with musical similarities to your choice, offering users unlimited number of personalized, commercial-free streams. "The first time I used Pandora on my Squeezebox, I was glued to my listening chair for the entire weekend," said Sean Adams, CEO of Slim Devices. "I used to get the thrill of finding a new song I liked once a week. Now I feel it one song after another, listening to any style of music." Beginning March 1st, Squeezebox v3 and Squeezebox2 owners can listen for free to Pandora for 90-days by using SqueezeNetwork, a free service that lets owners access a vast array of music and news through their Squeezebox without a computer. Customers can continue the Pandora service for $36 per year. Squeezebox is available in both black and white in both wired ($250) and wireless ($300) versions.
Apple releases Backup 3.1
Apple has released Backup 3.1, an update to its free backup software for members of its paid .Mac service. Available through the Software Update in Mac OS X, version 3.1 brings new support for some backup destinations and addresses file restoration and other issues. Apple, which recommends the update for all Backup 3.0 users, says the it also brings improved support for iDisk, local hard drives, and some network destinations under (Mac OS X Tiger only) and new iWeb QuickPick and updated iLife plan. Backup 3.1 requires Mac OS X v10.3.9 or Mac OS X v10.4.2 or later and runs on Intel-based Macs.
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