Digital music is eating into traditional stereo system sales (subscription required) and may help provide more color behind Apple's introduction of the Hi-Fi iPod boombox. While CD sales continue to decline, a new report in The WallStreet Journal says that "retail sales of home audio equipment, including stereo system components and surround-sound 'home theater in a box' rigs, dropped nearly 18 percent last year, to 10.2 million units" and that "even when consumers aren't using portable devices, more are shifting their music consumption away from stereos. Among 1,031 adult respondents to a consumer-behavior survey published last year by the CEA, 34% said they listened to music at home primarily on a PC, compared with just 26% who said they used a stereo or surround-sound receiver as their main home listening system." The article notes that while Apple has begun targetting the digital music users, other manufacturers have updated their strategies to offer more features to their home audio systems designed to make them easier to use with portable digital players.
In brief: Apple today added five short films and three TV shows from Bravo to its iTunes Music Store offerings, bolstering its video content.... YouTube has presented a video depicting a hypothetical Microsoft re-branding of Apple's iPod player.... Apple's developer website has posted an article introducing Ruby on Rails to Mac developers, by building a trivial Web application step by step.... Wingspan today unveiled a video demonstration of the iLoad-c, a device that can download music from over-the-air mobile networks to Apple's iPod nano without a computer.... Apple has addressed an issue via its support forum with iPhoto 5, when choosing to send to iDVD or Export from the Share menu users may encounter a strange message.... Apple has posted instructions discussing how to use the OneStep DVD feature in iDVD 5 you to quickly transfer video onto a DVD, but the feature only works with DV format footage.
Apple's Mac OS X has many security vulnerabilities than its Windows XP counterpart, according to a ZDNet blog posting that polls the number of vulnerabilities from the independent security research group Secunia along with the number of CVE issues for Microsoft Windows XP and Mac OS X within the last two years. The posting follows the recent reports of Mac OS X worms and an extremely critical Mac OS X zero-day exploit that has yet to be patched. Looking for a better response from Apple on the security, George Ou concludes: "The data is clear, and Apple has a lot more vulnerabilities of every kind ranging from moderately critical to extremely critical. While Windows had some months with more security disclosures, they are more spread out while Apple tends to release mega-advisories with dozens of vulnerabilities at a time. There were seven months where Apple disclosed more a dozen or more highly critical vulnerabilities."
Wolfram Research today announced LensLab and Rayica 2, new third-party Mathematica add-ons that bring flexibility, speed, and functionality to the design and analysis of sophisticated 3D optical systems. Wolfram says the add-ons bring a variety of new functions, including--but not limited to--optical instruments, optical sensors and measurement systems, lasers, fiber optic communication systems, and optical disc systems. Rayica ($1,500) gives scientists fine granularity and more control than possible with other programs for modeling innovative optical instruments, such as aspherical lenses, optical fibers, resonating cavities, and custom surfaces, featuring over 6800 predefined commercial optical parts and custom element design using symbolic equations. LensLab ($500) offers an entry-level ray-tracing package intended for students, educators, and professionals and enables the evaluation and optimization of alternative system designs. Both require Mathematica 4.2 and are available immediately.
Apple's more aggressive move into the iPod accessory market with the introduction of the new high-end cases and the iPod Hi-Fi may have some iPod accessory makers nervous, according to a new report. Dubbed as the "home stereo reinvented for the iPod age" by Steve Jobs, some analysts believe that Apple is encroaching on others' territory, which could impact the $1 billion iPod economy. "Buyers of iPods spend $1 on accessories for each $3 they spend on the iPod, said Stephen Baker, an analyst with research firm NPD Group. In 2005 that amounted to $1 billion spent on everything from car adapters to clothing, Baker said. Furthermore, NPD research shows that the biggest chunk of spending 26.5 percent was for speaker systems. 'If you're an iPod accessories maker, (Tuesday's) announcement has to make you nervous,' said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif. 'The accessories market is clearly very lucrative, and Apple will be getting more aggressive.'"
Eizo Nanao Technologies has introduced two wide-format LCD monitors--the 21-inch ColorEdge CE210W and the 24-inch ColorEdge CE240W. Both CE monitors feature increased horizontal viewing space with widescreen formats and feature an 8ms mid-tone response time, as well as an ergonomic design. The ColorEdge CE offers several features for color accuracy and control, including EIZO's own ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) offering 14-bit color processing for accurate grayscale rendering, and user-adjustable gamma ranging from 1.8 to 2.6. The monitors provide a 16-to-10 aspect ratio for 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 native resolutions, respectively. Each screen is wide enough to accommodate two A4 size pages at full size, as well as tool palettes placed on the perimeter of the screen with no resulting overlap. EIZO's ColorNavigator CE software comes bundled with ColorEdge CE models, and requires Mac OS X 12.2 or later. The ColorEdge CE240W and CE210W will begin shipping in the U.S. in mid-March with a five-year warranty (pricing was unavailable).
FileWave today announced that its FileWave> and Asset Trustee (AT) software now support Apple's Intel-based Macs. "We are very excited to make this functionality available for FileWave and Asset Trustee. This shows once again that FileWave and Asset Trustee are innovative products and enterprise solutions for our customers," said Ben Forsyth, Head of Technology at FileWave. FileWave is an automated cross platform solution to mass install, configure, and manage new software as well as patches, while Asset Trustee offers automated asset management and inventory collection. The company also announced that FileWave XAdmin, FileWave XServer, Asset Trustee Inventory, and Asset Trustee PostOffice will be shipping with support for Intel Macs in the next major releases of FileWave and Asset Trustee later this year.
Apple today added five short films and three TV shows from Bravo to its iTunes Music Store offerings, bolstering the market-leading retailer's content. The expansion of iTunes came just prior to the company's special event in Cupertino, where it unveiled a new Mac mini, and its iPod Hi-Fi portable stereo system designed for use with the company's digital media players. Each of the five new films has been nominated for Best Live Action short film at the 78th annual Academy Awards which will be held this weekend. Bravo will contribute "Inside the Actorís Studio," "Project Runway," and "Top Chef" to iTunes' ever-expanding selection of TV shows.
Apple today debuted its new iPod Hi-Fi, a high-fidelity speaker system designed to work seamlessly with its iPod digital media player, as well as leather cases for fifth-generation iPods and the iPod nano. The iPod Hi-Fi features an innovative all-in-one design that can be powered by a wall socket or six D-cell batteries, and is easily controlled by an Apple Remote. A unique isolated enclosure system includes two custom designed wide-range speakers and a tuned, ported bass system to minimize vibration while maximizing sound quality and allowing users to listen to their favorite music with high sound clarity and deep bass. iPod Hi-Fi ships with the Apple Remote, a removable grille, an AC power cord, 10 universal dock adapters, and is available for $350. Apple's leather cases fit both 30GB and 60GB iPod models, as well as the iPod nano, and are available for $100 each.
BeLight Software today released Disc Cover, a new application for designing CD and DVD labels, covers, and slim case inserts on Mac systems. The software includes a collection of 23,000 images, more than 70 design templates, and integrates with iTunes/iPhoto/iDVD libraries. Key features include the ability to import data from Finder, music CDs and text files, direct-on-CD printing, and a library of label paper templates. Users can apply more than 100 unique masks, fill text blocks with colors, and handle transparency as well as circle text. The software can print CD/DVD covers, labels, tray inserts, folded booklets, mini discs labels, VHS wraps, and more. Disc Cover is priced at $35, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Apple today unveiled the new Intel-based Mac mini at its special event in Cupertino, which will replace the company's previous low-end PowerPC-based model. The new machines come in two flavors, one that includes a single core processor and another boasting a dual core Intel chip. The new single core Mac mini is said to be up to three times faster than the previous model, while the dual core model is nearly four times as fast as its predecessor. The single core Mac mini is priced at $600, while the dual core model is available for $800. Both models, as well as a new iPod Hi-Fi which is priced at $350, are available starting today. [updated]
Apple CEO Steve Jobs today said that it is on track to convert its entire line of Macs to Intel-based processors by the end of the year; in addition, Apple introduced its Intel-based Mac mini, which features either the single-core Intel Core Solo and the dual-core Intel Core Duo. The new entry-level Mac features Apple's Front Row software for easily viewing media such as movies, audio, and other content via an included remote control. Apple's new "Front Row with Bonjour", which will also be offered to current owners, has addd the ability to listen to and access shared iTunes and iPhoto libraries.
Wingspan today unveiled a video demonstration of the iLoad-c, a device that can download music from over-the-air mobile networks to Apple's iPod nano without a computer. The iLoad-c clamps onto the Nano and connects to the cell carrier's music store to download music directly to the iPod, accessing such networks as Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, Cingular, and T-Mobile. Wingspan has said it will begin discussions with Apple and others to enable WiFi capability in the near future. Cellular carriers have recently made bold moves to join the digital music revolution, offering pay-for-play tracks as well as subscription services to mobile customers desiring music on-the-go. Wingspan's new device will provide iPod users with the same flexibility that cellular customers have enjoyed since numerous carriers launched their over-the-air services. The iLoad-c is slated for shipment by mid-Summer, and will be priced at $200.
Sound Studio 3 Monobot Assistants (free) are automation assistants for Sound Studio 3, offering automation and new functionality designed to address specific types of users--such as podcasters or those who do complicated batch processing. Bookend Audio is an assistant for automating the addition of intro and outro audio to multiple sound files, while Clean-and-Convert provides an assistant to batch-process files to remove unwanted noise or frequencies. Mastering Console is a comprehensive tool for automating many different Sound Studio 3 abilities, including equalization, reverb, and band-pass filtering. [Download - 1MB, 1MB, and 853KB] KidsFilterShare ($40, two-user license) allows users to share the Web filtering features of KidsGoGoGo over a Wireless or wired network. Content can be filtered for Macs, Windows systems, UNIX and Linux systems, as well as PSP and PDA units. Additionally, KidsFilterShare turn an AirPort card into a software base station to provide a low-cost, safe HotSpot service without an AirPort base station. [Download - 1.2MB] ConceptDraw MindMap 4.2 ($200) is a free update to the brainstorming and mind-mapping software. Version 4.2 allows users to exchange map outlines with outliner application users, supports OPML--the native file format of outliners--, and adds the ability to set text wrapping. The update also allows users to rotate text box associated with a relationships connector, adds new shapes for children as well as school teachers, and fixes several minor problems present in the previous version. [Download - [form]] Geekbench Preview 2 for Rosetta (free) will run natively on PowerPC-based Macs, but will run under Rosetta on Intel-based Macs, and should give an idea how efficient Rosetta is at translating PowerPC instructions. The application was developed in response to concerns about Rosetta performance, with several Mac users asking about measuring Rosetta performance. [Download - 76KB] Platypus 3.3 (free) is a developer tool for creating MacOS X applications that execute bundle scripts. Platypus 3.3 supports shell scripts, Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, Expect, Tcl, and Applescript. The application can execute scripts with root privileges via Apple's Security Framework, and offers drag-and-drop support for files which are passed to the scripts as arguments. Platypus provides graphical feedback of script execution via a progress bar or text window with script output, and can create applications which run in the background. Version 3.3 is available as a Universal Binary, and generates applications that will run on Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 1.4MB] iStabilize 2.2.0 ($60) is a standalone software video stabilizer for Mac OS, stabilizing movies by removing unwanted shaky motion and smoothing the image path. Version 2.2.0 offers native support for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, and provides improved support for multiple processors. The application can separately smooth motion with respect to translation, rotation, and scaling (zooming) in an image sequence. [Download - 3.2MB]
Powder Software today announced Summit Groupware 2006, its new collaboration software for Mac enterprise that offers email, calendaring, contact management and project collaboration. Built for both all Mac and mixed platform environments, the Summit Groupware 2006 email client works with standards compliant mail servers including Apple Mail Services, Kerio, Sendmail, Qmail and Microsoft Exchange. The desktop client runs on the Mac, Windows, Linux and Solaris. Web browser and handheld (PDA) access is synchronized in realtime. It offers browser-based access, database storage, easy install and auto updates delivered over the Web, and new hosting options for smaller organizations with limited IT resources. A free time unlimited trial for up to five users is available online and the software is free for a single-user environment such as a home user or personal business.
Spiderweb Software announced a reduction in prices on its entire line of games, and most products are now available in bundles. The Avernum Trilogy is available on one CD for $45, placing players in a subterranean prison for unfortunate people who were banished from the surface world. "Experience the epic tale of the Avernites, as they struggle to survive and return to the surface world." The first three games of the Geneforge saga are available for $55, placing players in the role of a Shaper--a member of a secretive sect with the ability to make and mold life to serve their own purposes. "In these open-ended games, you can serve your people, change sides to fight them, and seek your goals with your own horde of custom-made mutant monsters."
Other World Computing (OWC) and Newer Technology today announced a new product in their NuPower extreme high-capacity battery family: the new 81 Watt-Hour replacement battery for Pismo G3 and Lombard G3 PowerBook models provides up to 56 percent more run time capacity than Apple factory-shipped batteries. The unmatched capacity is achieved using revolutionary cells only just released on the market and available exclusively through NewerTech in units of this capacity and quality. All NuPower batteries are designed, engineered, and manufactured in the US. The new extreme high capacity 81 Watt-Hour Pismo/Lombard PowerBook batteries retails for $170 and includes a one-year NewerTech warranty. A 78 Watt-Hour model is available for $160.
In Brief: MacNN has reviewed IK Multimedia's Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestra & Choir Works, which features a library of orchestral and choir samples that are used in films and music compositions.... Ahead of this morning's special event in Cupertino at 1 pm ET--where seating is limited, onsite reporting is banned, and a new Intel-based Mac mini is expected--we expect Apple to take down its Apple Store to prep for new product additions.... Apple is planning a major presence at Musikmesse, Europe's largest annual trade fair for musicians.... ABC's decision Monday to use the discounted, home video rate to pay residuals for iPod digital downloads has angered Hollywood's above-the-line unions and sets the stage for a legal showdown.... In addition the slew of refurbs noted yesterday, Apple has added another refurb 12-inch iBook for $720, offering the 1.2GHz model with a Combo drive and AirPort Extreme wireless networking.
MindCad has released Incubator 2.0 for OS X, an innovative outlining and brainstorming tool for visual thinkers. Version 2.0 runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs, and offers better integration with Safari, the Address Book, and the Desktop. Incubator, the successor product to Pyramid, adds collapsible branches, more control over layout, a view of the underlying data, directly adjustable annotation width, a new inspector panel, and drag-import of linked URLs, desktop documents and vCards. Incubator allows text and images to be placed anywhere on multiple worksheets that grow dynamically in all four directions. Elements can then be arranged in visual hierarchies, and optionally linked to external documents and web pages. The full version is $50; a 30-day trial is available online.
Kaidan has announced its new KiWi Pro Rotator, the Fisheye-Landscape Bracket, and a newly redesigned Spherical Camera Bracket. The KiWi Pro Rotator offers a lightweight compact solution for those wanting to shoot multi-row panoramas with smaller point-and-shoot cameras and small SLR-type cameras. Built from high-strength aluminum alloy and composites, the KiWi Pro Rotator ($150) supports all Kaidan camera brackets, including the new Fisheye-Landscape and Spherical Camera Brackets. The Fisheye-Landscape Bracket is primarily designed to accommodate cameras equipped with circular fisheye lenses and also can be used to mount the camera in a landscape orientation; the bracket ($100) is available for the KiWi Pro and QuickPan Rotators. The Kaidan Spherical Camera Bracket ($200) is more compact and rigid than previous editions and features convenient click-stop indicators to help position the swing arm.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive,¬†Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk¬†Drive,¬†GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl
XCOM 2 ships on Steam for Mac, Windows
Feral Interactive today announced that the highly anticipated turn-based strategy game XCOM 2 is out now for OS X and Windows, and is available to buy through Steam and through the Mac App Store shortly. The sequel to the popular XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 is available as a standalone base game and as the XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition. The XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition comprises the base game, the Reinforcement Pack and the XCOM 2 digital soundtrack. Versions start at $60. http://bit.ly/1KuEFsX