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Digidesign goes Intel
Digidesign today announced that it will release in May new versions of Digidesign Pro Tools LE 7 and Pro Tools M-Powered 7 software for Apple's Intel-based Macs. The company said that the new versions will be compatible with the new Intel-based MacBook Pro and iMac computers and "will enable customers to combine the improved processing power of Intel-based Mac computers with the creative power of Pro Tools." At the same time, Digidesign said it will release Intel Mac-compatible versions of all Digidesign and Digidesign-distributed RTAS and AudioSuite plug-ins, plus all software options, including the new Music Production Toolkit for Pro Tools LE and Pro Tools M-Powered systems, as well as the DigiTranslator 2.0 and DV Toolkit 2 options for Pro Tools LE.
Extensis record quarter
In brief: Synectics Business Solutions today introduced a new, simplified pricing model with lower rates for its BackJack online backup service.... SigmaTel is hoping to win bigger contracts from Apple in the second half of 2007, amidst doubts that the company can even hold existing business.... Sony Ericsson today unveiled its latest Walkman phone, and announced it has sold over three million Walkman phones since their debut last year.... Warner Music Group on Tuesday said that its quarterly profit nearly doubled due to higher margin digital music sales during the holiday season, as well as lower expenses.... Skype 2.0 for Mac will support 10-way video conferences, but the feature will require an Intel-based Mac.... Extensis today announced its largest ever revenue quarter, which the company says is due to its digital asset management solution--Portfolio.... Virgin Mobile today became the first European cellular operator to deliver live TV to its customers.
Windows XP on OS X
A contest to see who can get Windows XP to run in Mac OS X on an Intel-based Mac is underway. The contest states "independence of OS choice is the main aim of this contest. The host OS is the stable, accessible and secure Mac OS X on Intel. Guest OS's are a broad choice of systems from Windows to Linux." The point of the contest is not that Windows be able to run on a Mac, but that Windows and Mac OS X "cohabit" in the computer. "The application must boot either Windows XP or Windows 2000 in Mac OS X on any intel Mac without emulating the processor. This contest does not cover any other Operating System (e.g. Linux) even if they can run" and "Windows must run at nearly native speed." The deadline for the contest is June 17, 2006, with the prize money so far set at €178.60 so far.
Avanquest iPod apps
Avanquest Software has announced several new applications designed for use with Apple's iPod, and has already released WebPodStudio as well as PodPresenter. WebPodStudio helps users create podcasts, and utilizes RSS support to maintain or create feeds. PodPresenter allows users to run iPods as PowerPoint graphics presentation devices. Additional applications in the series are expected in the U.S. over the next few weeks, with a worldwide release set for the second quarter, according to a report from Macworld UK. "We're working with retailers to add software to areas of their stores where they typically are putting only the hardware accessories for the iPods," said Bob Lang, president of Avanquest. Both WebPodStudio ($50) and PodPresenter ($30) will be available in U.S. stores this week, and are compatible with Apple's fifth-generation iPod video. Additional titles expected by the first week of March include iPocketBible ($40), PodMediaCreator ($30), and DVD2POD.
Mac OS X 10.4.5 update
Apple today released the Mac OS X 10.4.5 Update (PowerPC), which is available via the Software Update and is recommended for all users; it includes general operating system fixes, as well as specific fixes for iChat video conferencing, Safari rendering of web pages, usability of Dashboard and widgets, viewing of QuickTime streaming media behind a firewall, printing to some Epson printer models, iDisk and Portable Home Directory syncing, time zone and daylight savings for 2006 and 2007, VPN connections to Cisco servers when using NAT, compatibility with third-party applications and devices, and previous standalone security updates. A version is also available for Intel Macs and as a Combo update. It is also available for Mac OS X Server. The specific improvements are listed on the web, while Apple also said it included an important security fix for an issue, which could allow a malicious local user to cause a system crash.
Apple warranty expansion
Apple has expanded its warranties to a global service coverage for all Apple servers, iPods, portable computers, displays, desktop computers, and extended service contracts, according to reports. AppleInsider has reported the new policy, noting its usefulness when travelling outside of the U.S. with U.S.-specific Apple products, as they may now be serviced in other countries while still under warranty. "Customers who seek service in a country other than the country in which the covered product was purchased will have regional-regulated parts replaced with an equivalent, regional-specific part," says the report. The global service coverage had previously been available only for iPods and portable computers.
MacBook Pro delays
Despite the MacBook Pro shipment announcement this morning, Apple has begun notifying customers that some early orders for the new Intel-based MacBook Pro will be delayed. Although it announced that it would begin shipping its high-end MacBook processor later this week and that it should ship the low-end MacBook Pro, it appears that only limited numbers of units are available. With the announcement, Apple also said that both models would also include faster-than expected Intel Core Duo processors. In an email to customers who placed early pre-orders at the Apple Store, Apple said that reception the new laptop has been "tremendous" and that it is "working hard to ship as many units as fast as possible." However, customers orders--even some of the early orders placed on the first day--are being delayed by up to 10 days.
Virgin Mobile TV service
Virgin Mobile today became the first European cellular operator to deliver live TV to its customers, a move that could impact the Apple's own move into the digital video world with the iTunes Music Store video. Virgin partnered with Microsoft and wireless technology firm BT to provide both audio and video content using new broadcast technologies, according to a report from CIO Today. "We are at a point where the industry is looking at new ways to leverage the technology in their new handsets," IDC analyst Dave Linsalata said. "Certainly, smartphones won't replace TV sets, but the popularity of mobile games and ringtones indicates that people are using the devices for more than making calls." Virgin is using BT's Movio system, which is based on the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) standard. The company is also offering a new "smartphone" that is optimized for TV viewing, which it calls the Trilogy. Customers will have access to a variety of digital TV content and approximately 350 DAB stations, according to the report.
SigmaTel wants more Apple
SigmaTel--a maker of chips for MP3 players which currently serves up components for the iPod shuffle--is hoping to win bigger contracts from Apple in the second half of 2007, despite at least one analyst's doubts about whether the company can even hold existing business. SigmaTel chief executive Ron Edgerton said a window of opportunity should open in the second half when players with longer battery lives, as well as video by Sony and Creative Technologies hit the market to surpass Apple's iPod nano, according to a report from Reuters UK. "We're hoping [...] in the second half of this year, there will be a lot of players that are much better than Nano on the market," Edgerton said. The executive added "if that takes market share from Apple, then I think they will be more likely to come to us." One research firm in January said there was an increasing chance SigmaTel would lose its deal to supply chips for the iPod shuffle to rival chip maker PortalPlayer--which may establish a common hardware platform and drive additional features, such as wireless capability.
Former AAPL execs take aim
A group of former Apple executives are looking to create a new company called Acquicor Technology, which is set to begin trading on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ACQU. The company founders are Gil Amelio (Apple's CEO in the mid-1990s), Ellen Hancock (former Apple executive and CEO of Exodus Communications), and Steve Wozniak (Apple's co-founder). Acquicor is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Known in the industry as a "blank check" firm, the founders are traveling across the country asking institutional investors to offer up $100 million for an acquisition they cannot identify. The rules of SPACs state that the team can't talk to buyout candidates until they've raised enough cash, after which the company has two years to spend most of the money or give it back to investors. Acquicor is focused "on businesses that develop or provide technology-based products and services in the software, semiconductor, wired and wireless networking, consumer multimedia and information technology-enabled services segments," according to a report from CNNMoney.com.
New iMac vs old
The new Intel-based iMac is incomparably better than the older PowerPC-based iMacs, according to Detroit Freepress columnist Mike Wendland, who compares the new iMac with the PowerPC iMac, which he ran next to each other, timing start up and application response times with a stopwatch. Wendland clocked the new iMac at an average of 24 seconds for start up, versus 72 seconds for the G5. Wendland praised Apple's inclusion of all the same applications, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, CD/DVD, and the iSight camera without raising the price on the iMac ($1,300 for the 17-inch version, $1,700 for the 20-inch version), which is identical in appearance to the older version. Wendland suggests that anyone considering a replacement for their PC should look into the new iMacs, especially since many programs are now being re-written for compatibility with the Intel Macs.
Harris & Baseview/MediaSpan Media Software have announced ProductionManagerPro 4.0, an update to their asset-management and ad-tracking solution that is set to debut in April. The program features ad searching, ad-building organization, digital asset management, automated tools for proofing, exporting, and email notifications, remote administration built-in archiving, a cross-platform Java-based server running on MySQL Pro 4.1, and more. Users can continue to build ads in QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign or Multi-Ad Creator, with an archive created of every ad and element used, and ProductionManagerPro allowing for one-click creation of EPS or PDF versions of each ad (availability and pricing were not provided).
MacBook Pro buying tips
Mac users can bypass the current 3-4 week waiting period for their new MacBook Pro by upgrading their laptop with a faster 7,200 rpm version of the included 100GB laptop drive. Though BTO configuration increases the price by about $100, users can receive the BTO configured MacBook Pro in 1-3 business days, according to AppleInsider, which first noted the shopping tip. Apple's BTO (built-to-order) has been used in the past to bypass long shipping times, according to the same report. "In a similar situation, observant customers learned over the holiday shopping season that ordering iPods with an engraving allowed them to bypass weeks of backorders for the same models that did not ship with an engraving (standard configurations)." [Apple has since corrected the ordering glitch]
Miglia Technology today released a free software update for its digital video recorder, EvolutionTV. Version 2.6 includes video iPod and Sony PSP real-time compression, which negates the need to go through a lengthy software export step. The software allows users to watch and record TV on a Mac, while offering iPod, PSP, MPEG-2/4 and DivX hardware compression. EvolutionTV comes with software enabling users to watch live TV, pause, rewind, and skip forward. Additionally, the device can store hours of TV programs on a single DVD for playback. "Many users submitted suggestions that were implemented in the final release, like an iTunes integration plug-in, which adds your iPod files automatically to Apple's iTunes 6," said Eric Ferraz, vice president of product development for Miglia. EvolutionTV is available for $250 and requires a PowerPC G4 1GHz processor or better, as well as Mac OS X 10.4.x or later.
Nano-style Walkman phone
Sony Ericsson today unveiled its latest Walkman phone, and announced it has sold over 3 million Walkman phones since their debut last year. Reuters reports that the W950 phone has 4GB of memory, thus providing the same storage as an Apple iPod nano. The new iPod-competing phone comes as more companies are planning MP3 capable phones. The phone will reportedly cost between 300 and 400 euros, and will run on the Symbian operating system (availability was not stated).
Intel quad-core chip
A top executive from Intel Friday said the company expects to ship its first quad-core processor--dubbed Clovertown--in early 2007, and hopes to sell 60 million dual-core chips this year which will account for roughly one quarter of total processor sales. "Clearly the momentum around multi-core is building," Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner said. The new chip bundles four processors in a single unit, and uses less power than a single-core design, according to a report from Reuters. Rattner declined to comment on whether all four cores are on a single die, or if Clovertown would use two dual-core chips coupled together. Rattner said he envisioned a day when a single chip will have tens or even hundreds of cores. "It's kind of like how many angels can you fit on the head of a pin?" Rattner noted.
Apple offers OS X UI job
In brief: Along with the faster-than-expected MacBook Pros, Apple is offering a 2.16GHz version as a BTO option.... Apple's Mac OS X User Interface Group is seeking a senior visual interface designer to conceive, design and develop future enhancements to Aqua.... All Mac users are invited to sign up to the Acutus Trading announcements email newsletter to receive a $7 discount certificate for the release of Digital Alarm Clock 2.6.... CryptoCard today announced it is increasing its presence in the U.K. by partnering with A M Micro, a Mac distributor.... Adobe and the Photoshop Elements Techniques newsletter have teamed up to offer training in new Adobe programs at the Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques summit of 2006.... Intel's Yonah processor--which ships under the Intel Core Duo name in Apple's new iMacs--has features that haven't been exposed to consumers.... Gap and Old Navy this morning have launched updated versions of their websites which support Apple's Safari Web browser.
Valentine Maker, DAQ Plot
Valentine Maker (free) is an application for creating Valentine's Day widgets to send to anyone. Valentine Maker allows the user to pick a card color and type a message. It then creates a customized Valentine's Day widget that can be sent over the internet to anyone.
[Download - 236KB]
DAQ Plot 10.4.2 is now a Universal binary. DAQ Plot is a programmable tool to acquire data from DAQ hardware and set output values of the DAQ hardware. The program allows scientists and engineers to view real-time data ranging from laboratory experiments to factory process control. Improved features include updated drivers and bug fixes and the addition of online training videos. [Purchase - [contact]]
Symbolic Composer 5.3 ($400) is a high-level music language for computers, with over 1,000 music algorithms suitable for modern, dance, classic, electronic, ambient, contemporary, and experimental styles. Symbolic Composer covers 300 microtonal world-music and theoretical scales, all known chords and scales used in the last 500 years of music history, and enables the user to explore advanced fractal and chaos mathematics to determine compostitional elements. [Download - [options]]
Conference Recorder 2 ($15) is an add-on for iChat AV which automatically transforms the user's conference sessions into QuickTime movies. The application allows the user to manually start/stop/pause or record automatically; control movie size and quality; and use MP4 compression. To create a podcast out of the video, users must click and drag a QuickTime movie to the "convert to MP3" icon. [Download - 448KB]
Quick-O 1.1 (12€) is an application to (batch-)convert images and extract frames from movies in PNG, JPEG, Photoshop, and Tiff formats. New features in version 1.1 include preview images instead of frame numbers in the list of movieframes, more "help" options, and more. [Download - 1.1MB]
SwitchResX 3.7 ($15) is a daemon that allows users to control the resolutions of their display. SwitchResX can enable custom resolutions for the monitor, HDTV, or video projector. New features also include the ability to save the postitions of the icons on the Finder desktop, and replace them when the resolution is changed. [Download - 2.73MB]
DivX Player for Mac beta
DivX Labs announced its DivX Player for Mac. The Player supports playback of .divx, .mov, .avi, .mp4, and more. Features include a "desktop dimmer" for darkening the desktop behind the video window, a "fade out window when playing" function, full player controls wen in full-screen mode, and more. To run the DivX Player on an Intel-Mac, users must first download and install DivX Player before DivX 6 for Intel-Macs "because installing the DivX Player installs a PowerPC-only version of our DivX Decoder," according to the developer. DivX Player for Mac is a free, beta release.
NewerTech\'s miniStack V2
Other World Computing is now shipping NewerTech's upgrade miniStack V2. The newly upgraded NewerTech miniStack V2 is engineered to increase drive capacity up to 500GB while adding integrated 2-Port FireWire and 3-Port USB 2.0/1.1 powered hubs that are ergonomically divided between rear and side configurations. Although designed to maximize the Apple Mac mini, the NewerTech miniStack works with any Apple or PC computer with an available FireWire or USB port including any iMac, iMac Intel, mini PC, desktop PC, or portable MacBook Pro (Intel), iBook, notebook, or PowerBook. The dimensions of the NewerTech miniStack are 6.5 inches x 6.5 inches x 1.5 inches. The NewerTech miniStack V2 retails for $136 for an 80GB version and is available in capacities up to 500GB with drives runnng as fast as 7,200 rpm. An economical 'add your own hard drive' kit is available for $80.
Camino 1.0 released
Mozilla.org today release the open-source, Mac-specific Camino 1.0 browser. The native Mac OS X browser uses the Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine and is now available as a Universal binary as well as other new features, including a new tab bar appearance, support for download manager pause/resume, annoyance blocking, certificate support, a Java Embedding plug-in, the ability to form fill from address book, inline history and bookmark searching, an upgrade from Mozilla Gecko 1.7 to 1.8, bug and security fixes, and more. "Camino makes your web experience more productive, more efficient, more secure, and more fun. It looks and feels like a Mac OS X application should, because it was designed exclusively for Mac OS X and the high standards set by Mac users." Camino 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Apple grows in France
Apple is currently the No. 8 PC maker in France (French link), up from 10th place in 2004. MacGeneration reports that Mac sales in France are up 37 percent in 2005 compared to 2004--almost twice the growth of the the average of over PC manufacturers (about 20 percent). The numbers also show that Apple saw higher gains in France than in Europe (21 percent) and in the world (20 percent). Apple's marketshare in France for 2005 was 2.6 percent, up from 2.2 percent in the previous year. The company's more popular products are its desktops, which saw a sales increase of 54 percent, while sales of notebooks have increased by only 20 percent. The report says that Apple's overall success in France draws from the the company's 15.4 percent marketshare in education.
Studio Artist 3.5 released
Synthetik Software has released Studio Artist 3.5, which the company claims is the world's first graphics synthesizer. "Studio Artist is the first commercial program for computer artists that incorporates research results from cognitive neuroscience investigations into the nature of visual perception in the brain." The application uses human visual modeling to construct an internal representation from a source image that is used to direct smart assisted painting and drawing. The update offers dynamic liquid spreading paint effects, smart auto-regionization algorithms, an integrated "Supersizer" interpolator, enhanced support for multi-threading on dual or quad processor computers, improved animation capabilities, and greatly expanded image processing.
FontAgent Pro Server
Insider Software has released Font Agent Pro Server. The server provides support for multiple font libraries and formats, managing Type 1, Open Type, dfont, Macintosh True Type, Windows True Type, and Multiple Master Fonts. Features include the Integrity Manager, which stops corrupt and problem fonts from being added to the server; client workstations which may synchronize with the server automatically at specified times; the ability for users to work remotely; that the server may be administered with appropriate security credentials from and connected client workstation; support for dual G4s, G5s, Xserves, and more with no dedicated server required; and more. FontAgent Pro Server requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, 30MB disk space and a server with at least 256MB of memory. The server is available for $1,000 for a limited time, with clients priced at $130; a 50 percent discount is available to owners of competitive products.
Adobe Lightroom Beta 2
Adobe has released Lightroom Beta 2, an update to its application designed for professional photographers. The new release runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs, as promised by Adobe earlier this month (however, it will be the only Universal version available before the next major releases of its other products). The new beta also features crop and straighten tools in the Develop module, the ability to add music to slideshows, new white balance support for the Nikon D2X, D2Hs and D50 cameras, the bility to create hierarchical keyword sets, and XMP import/export functions, and improved 'Edit in Photoshop' capabilities as well as improved metadata handling.
Apple ships Logic Pro 7.2
Apple has begun shipping Logic Pro 7.2, a Universal Binary version of its professional audio software for music creation and audio production. The crossgrade, available for $50 to registered owners, features several other enhancements, including support for the Apogee Ensemble FireWire interface, compatibility with Pro Tools HD 7 DAE, and project compatibility with Garageband 3. Version 7.2 also brings Serato Pitch 'n Time support, improved Rewire support, 32-channel support for multi-channel Audio Units instruments, enhanced support for control surfaces, playback of AAC and Apple Lossless compressed files, access to new GarageBand 3-compatible plug-ins, and new royalty-free jingles and sound effects Apple Loops. The full version, available immediately, is priced at $1000, while upgrades from v6 are $300 (available in 7-10 business days).
Standard & Poor's Equity Research analyst Megan Graham-Hackett today said she downgraded shares of Apple's rival Creative Technology. Graham-Hackett lowered Creative's rating to "sell" from "hold" citing increased competition from Apple in the MP3 player market, according to Forbes. "The analyst sees Creative Technology facing a 'challenging' March quarter due to Apple's product introductions in the lower-end MP3 market. She said Apple has broadened its MP3 product portfolio, 'thereby increasing the competitive dynamics, in our opinion.'" The firm lowered the price target from $8 to $7, based on revised price-to-sales analysis, according to the report.
Warner Music profit
Warner Music Group on Tuesday said that its quarterly profit nearly doubled due to higher margin digital music sales during the holiday season and lower expenses. Reuters reports that the company's net income for the first quarter ended on Dec. 31 rose to $69 million, or 46 cents per share, from $36 million, or 31 cents per share, a year earlier, while revenue fell 4 percent to $1.04 billion--due to the exchange-rate fluctuations and the May 2005 sale of its sheet music business, which had contributed $15 million in the year-earlier period. The report says that Warner's digital revenue rose to $69 million, up 30 percent from the fourth quarter, and nearly triple that of a year earlier, due in part to online music sales at services such as Apple iTunes music store and Napster as well as mobile ringtones. Interesting, the US accounted for about 70 percent of digital music sales, which were split evenly between Internet downloads and ringtones.
Apple lists Universal apps
Apple today announced that Intel-based Mac customers have more than 700 Universal applications to choose from and said that "the list is growing each day with hundreds of developers including Adobe, Quark and IBM's Lotus division announcing support for Mac OS X Intel-based applications." The company has published a list on its website. Earlier this month, Adobe said it would not release native Intel versions of its software until the next major upgrades are released, leading many to believe that Apple will struggle with sales to professionals, while some analaysts said that sales in other segments of Apple's market will compensate for any sales slowdown seen in its professional markets.
Apple ships MacBook Pro
Apple today announced that it will begin shipping the new 15-inch MacBook Pro this week with faster processors than previously announced. The new notebook features the new Intel Core Duo processor, which it says delivers up to four times the performance of the PowerBook G4 it also features a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing on-the-go and the Front Row media experience with Apple Remote. All models of the new MacBook Pro will ship with faster Intel Core Duo processors than previously announced, delivering even greater performance at no additional cost. The $2,500 model now includes a 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up from the previously announced 1.83GHz, and will begin shipping this week. The $2,000 model now includes a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up from the previously announced 1.67GHz, and will begin shipping next week. In addition, customers may now upgrade to a 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processor as a build-to-order option on the Apple Online Store. Earlier this morning, Apple took its Apple Store offline, ahead of the announcement. Meanwhile, new orders for the Intel-based notebook, which replaces the PowerBook G4, show a 3-4 week delay.
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