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Intel sales, AOL takes aim
In brief: Intel slashed its first-quarter sales goal to between $8.7 billion and $9.1 billion from an earlier $9.1 billion to $9.7 billion, after weak demand and share loss took its toll on the chipmaker earlier this week.... Intel also announced on its developer forum that it is unveiling new innovations in "next generation micro-architecture and energy efficient performance" at San Francisco's Moscone Center March 7-9th.... A recent analysis suggests that Apple's biggest competitor may be mobile phones with the ability to play music, rather than other digital music player manufacturers.... One of AOL's top executives today said the company plans to offer TV programming on its website by the middle of this year.... Sony is planning to introduce its new Walkman in the U.S. this spring, but industry watchers say features fall short of Apple's current offerings.
Refurb iPods for $200
Apple's online store is offering refurbished iPods with a clickwheel in 20GB ($200) and 40GB ($250) capacities, as well as iPods with color displays in 20GB ($220) and 30GB ($250) capacities. The company is offering up refurbished Power Mac G5 systems with SuperDrives: Dual 1.8GHz for $1,300; Dual 2GHz for $1,550; Dual 2.3GHz for $2,000; Dual 2.5GHz for $2,050; and the Dual 2.7GHz for $2,150. The online store is also listing refurbished Power Mac G5 systems with a 1.25GHz frontside bus (per processor) boasting NVIDIA GeForce 6600 256MB graphics cards: the Dual 2.3GHz for $2,150, and the Quad 2.5GHz for $2,800. All refurbished equipment carries an Apple one-year warranty and comes with free shipping.
Phones to hurt iPod growth
A recent analysis by Reuters India suggests that Apple's biggest competitor may be mobile phones with the ability to play music, rather than other digital music player manufacturers. Sales of mobile phones that can store and play back music are climbing, which industry watchers say could dent the MP3 player market potential. "You have the ability to talk, take pictures and listen to music in one device. The convenience factor is big," said Simon Leung, senior vice president of Motorola Asia. Kirk Yang, a managing director and technology analyst at Citigroup's Asia Pacific operations, believes Apple will probably unveil an iPod that will function as a cellphone later this year in response to the music phone offensive. "The iPod with phone functionality is going to be a category killer," Yang said. [updated]
AOL TV programming
One of AOL's top executives today said the company plans to offer TV programming on its website by the middle of this year, in a move that could draw business away from Apple's iTunes Music Store. "We've been in discussion for months with every major cable and broadcast network," said Kevin Conroy, vice president of AOL Media Networks. AOL's expansion of its video service, which will offer free and pay-for-play shows from established programmers as well as user-created video clips, is crafted to address complaints about the inflexible pricing structure and the mix of available programming on iTunes, according to a report from Reuters. The service will sell shows from Time Warner, and will present offerings from other programmers and networks, according to the company, which declined to name partners.
Sony assault falls short
Sony is planning to introduce its new Walkman in the U.S. this spring, but industry watchers say features fall short of Apple's current offerings. Apple had 45 percent of the Japanese market for digital music players in January, compared to Sony's 15 percent, according to BusinessWeek. Sony hopes the new Walkman will become more than just a commodity, boasting hard drive-based capacities ranging from 6-20GB to complement Sony's current Flash-based lineup. Sony's new player offers such features as an "Artist Link" button, which analyzes users musical tastes and suggests new artists based on those tastes, as well as a "Time Machine Shuffle," which plays music only from a specific year. Sony is bypassing iTunes in Japan by offering popular songs from its record label via Mora--its online store--in an attempt to lull consumers into purchasing the company's Walkman which is better integrated with Mora. Despite this, Sony's player lacks video capability, is larger than Apple's biggest model, and offers 10GB less space than Apple's low-end 30GB video-capable iPod.
Ferrari this week launched the new 599 GTB Fiorano -- its most powerful grand tourer ever. The car, which was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, includes full iPod integration, Macworld UK reported today. The car has the same 620 horsepower V12 engine as the Ferrari Enzo, and can hit 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. Other high-tech features include xenon headlights, LED tail lights, a hideaway radio/CD player, and key with integrated volumetric anti-theft device with motion sensors. Other cool cars unveiled this week include the high-tech Saab Aero X Concept, the ultra-powerful Mercedes CLS 63 AMG, CLK 63 AMG, the Dodge Hornet Concept, and the Audi RS4 Convertible.
iTunes UK deal near
NBC Universal is close to entering a deal to offer TV shows through iTunes UK, which would signal the first offering of TV video downloads through the iTunes Music Store overseas. Apple has offered U.S. customers video downloads since the debut of its video iPod in October of 2005, and has seen roughly 12 million video downloads to date. NBC is planning a test run by offering a select number of sci-fi series, which has historically been one of the most popular genres with U.S. iTunes customers, according to AppleInsider. Possible candidates include Battlestar Galactica, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Surface.
MacNN review, Clinton site
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the C.E.O. Milano for 15-inch PowerBooks from Marware.... The technical staff at the Clinton Library website have located and fixed errors that caused an incompatibility with Apple's Safari Web browser, after news broke yesterday that the site was incompatible and produced a blank screen for Safari users.... An avid Mac user recently tested the Mac mini's DC's ability to playback 1080p h.264 high-definition video in its stock mode without dropping frames, and was impressed by the results.... DLO has introduced the DLO TransDock micro transmitter/charger for iPod ($70, shown at right), which broadcasts music from the device over FM radio while charging the iPod's battery.... Google has begun using AMD Opteron processors in its servers due to the chip's energy efficiency, steering away from its previously tight relationship with Intel.
Weather stations for Mac
Onset today announced Mac-compatible, research-grade weather stations. The 15-channel HOBO Weather Station and 4-channel HOBO Micro Station allow Mac users to measure and record a wide range of environmental conditions, including temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, soil moisture, photosynthetic light (PAR), solar radiation, wind speed and direction, leaf wetness, and barometric pressure. Both stations record conditions via Onset plug-and-play smart sensors, which eliminate the need for complicated wiring, programming, and calibration. Example HOBO weather station applications include climate monitoring on vineyards and farms, agricultural research, and meteorological studies.
MultiMode OS X 5.6.1 ($90) updates the application for radio enthusiasts to send and receive various digital transmission modes, fixing several bugs related to SSTV (Slow Scan TV) mode. The software allows a Mac to decode and transmit several different modes of non-voice communication often heard on shortwave and ham radio. MultiMode allows users to decode and display morse code, RTTY, FAX, SSTV, ACARS, PSK31, and various other modes without extra hardware.
[Download - 900KB]
MacGourmet 1.2.0 ($25) marks the latest iteration of the recipe management software for Mac OS X. The update incorporates various bug fixes, and introduces Universal Binary support to provide native compatibility on both Intel-based Macs and PowerPC systems. Mac Gourmet enables users to publish recipes to .Mac and WebDAV accounts, while providing numerous options for printing those recipes. The application includes drag-and-drop support for easy import of recipes found on the Web, and offers many ways to search through recipe collections. [Download - 3MB]
xTime Project 3.5.1 ($100) is a project and task management tool designed to provide diagrams to facilitate effective communication between team members. Version 3.5.1 allows users to link tasks as well as milestones, change resources for milestones, and adds new buttons to the toolbar. The update also offers a new keyboard shortcut to change the display of the "all view," improved XML/text export, an enhanced user interface, and updated documentation. [Download - 18MB]
Tidy Up! 1.1.0 ($30) is an application that searches for duplicate files and packages, the latest release offering Universal Binary support to offer native compatibility with Apple's new Intel-based Macs as well as PowerPC systems. Users can search by application owner, content, type, creator, extension, date modified, date created, name, label, visibility, and other criteria. The software can locate MP3 and AAC audio files based on tag, duration, and bit rate. The update adds support for iPhoto, allowing users to search and synchronize deletions with Apple's iLife app. [Download - 4.5MB]
PdfCompress ($30) updates the Cocoa utility for reducing the size of PDF files, including Universal Binary support to run natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. The software optimizes PDF files by applying specialized image compression methods to the images stored in the file, as well as removing unneeded elements. Photographic images are reduced by up to a factor of 10 without visible degradation using JPEG 2000 or JPEG compression, while bi-level images are typically reduced by 20-30 percent using lossless CCIT Group 4 (Fax) encoding. PdfCompress can also downsample images to a lower resolution suitable for screen-viewing, such as on the Web. [Download - 1.6MB]
Podcast Maker 1.2 released
Potion Factory today released Podcast Maker 1.2, a tool that allows users to easily publish a professional podcast. The company says that Podcast Maker handles all the essential steps of publishing a professional podcast, including: creating a fully iTunes and RSS 2.0 compliant podcast feed; embedding id3 and atom metadata tags into media files for such items as album art; uploading necessary files to an ftp, sftp, or a .Mac account; and then notifying other servers such as those at Apple's iTunes Music Store to publicize the update. In addition, Podcast Maker creates enhanced podcasts that contain chapters to help users navigate through long podcasts as well as both images and links that the audience can interact with, creating a much more pleasant experience. Podcast Maker 1.2 is available for $30, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
GameRanger 4.5 released
GameRanger.com today released version 4.5 of its multiplayer online gaming service for Mac users. The update can bypass modems and routers, negating the need for configuration or port forwarding to host or join games. Version 4.5 can host games while offering internet sharing to joiners on the same local network, and GameRanger no longer prevents screensavers activating or iChat going idle. Joiner games terminate immediately when the host aborts, and the Doom 3 server list now shows version 1.3 servers. The premium service includes ladders, ratings, and rankings for players to compete against one another for dominance, while in-game voice communication allows team mates or enemies to communicate during play. GameRanger is free, though the premium service offers additional features not found in the free version (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
Federal probe on music
A new federal probe is looking into fixed music pricing (subscription required), following a similar investigation by New York State Attourney General Eliot Spitzer. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department has served the four major music companies with subpoenas stemming from an investigation of online music pricing, which could include "so-called most-favored-nation clauses used by music companies in contracts with certain kinds of online music services" as well as "vertical collusion" between retailers such as Apple and the music companies, according to the report. The Justice Department confirmed that antitrust enforcers are "looking into the possibility of anticompetitve practices in the music-download industry," while the report says that executives have already been depositioned in the state of New York investigation.
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