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.
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:
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]
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 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.
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.
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.
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]
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.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).
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.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.4 ( -2.7 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R