PC giant Dell today announced that it is buying Alienware, a high-end PC-maker focused on the gaming market -- in an effort to what some believe is to fight Apple's potential marketshare gains by its move to the Intel architecture. "Alienware's products are an excellent complement to Dell's own line of high-performance computers designed for gaming-enthusiast and media-content customers," CEO Michael Dell said. "In addition to offering high-quality, high-performance products, Alienware has tremendous brand appeal with consumers and creative business professionals," Dell added. Dell likely took interest in Alienware to strengthen its stance against Apple, as well as branding, according to a report from Forbes.
The European Commission has said it is probing Apple due to the pricing of music sold by the iTunes Music Store, not the interoperability with other online music software. "We are only investigating price divergences concerning iTunes," European competition spokesman Jonathan Todd said. The Commission said it would investigate whether Apple is overcharging U.K. customers for iTunes songs in February of 2005, according to a report from Marketwatch. Apple charges 79 pence per song downloaded from the iTunes Music Store in the U.K., and €.99 elsewhere, resulting in U.K. customers paying 20 percent more than other European consumers. Additionally, U.K. residents are unable to download songs from the non-U.K. iTunes stores. Todd said that "the investigation is in the early stages."
Microsoft program manager Stephen Toulouse today publicly challenged Apple to hire a security expert and overhaul the way information is released when Mac OS X updates are released. "Look, the only way you can tackle security issues is by getting out ahead of them and clearly communicating to your users the threat, and the clear guidance on how to be safe," Toulouse said. "Here's the reality, for the next couple of years the Mac OS will experience increasing security threats and mark my words, the company will have to seek outside expertise in the form of a head of security communications in the next 12 months," Toulouse added. The program manager said Apple needs a person "steeped in security issues, true technical analysis, and [who] can lead a good security team to get good guidance out there," according to a report from eWeek.com.
In brief: The Macintosh Business Users Society of Greater Philadelphia (MacBUS) today announced that the March MacBUS meeting will feature a special presentation on the Paperless Office, presented by Martin Carey of Springboard Media.... Telestream today said that it will announce key new products at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention April 24-27th in Las Vegas, NV.... The producers of the video podcast Adobe Photoshop TV have reported that the 30-minute weekly presentation has already received over one million downloads this month.... The QuarkParticles monthly newsletter today announced that Quark is unveiling a new logo.... IK Multimedia today announced that a fully functioning trial version of Classik Studio Reverb is available for download from the Classik Studio Reverb website.... MacSpeech has released a new ScriptPak for Apple's Preview application, installing nearly 100 commands into iListen that allow users to control the application in various ways by voice, rather than keyboard shortcuts or menus.
Markzware is pleased to announce the FlightCheck Online Single Subscriber Edition, a new version of the preflight DTP solution that is available as a self-installable, turnkey kit for a printer’s or publisher’s qualified IT staff. The complete, functional solution checks digital files with customized preflight rule sets defined by the receiving side (printers, service bureaus, etc) automatically notifies senders of required corrections before the job is transmitted and instantly sends confirmation when it is accepted. Using the free FlightCheck Online Client, remote print or ad buyers can quickly and easily check, collect and send the job over the Internet to a printer, publisher or other print service provider. PDF’s as well as most common desktop publishing documents can be preflighted and sent with FlightCheck Online. It is priced at $7,500 plus a 12 percent annual maintenance fee and requires Apache, PostGreSQL, PHP, and Sendmail.
Fitchburg State College is distributing emails with a link to a podcast to all accepted applicants for the fall semester, in an attempt to ease the school into using podcasts for classroom activities. The school president, Robert Antonucci, sent out the messages and the podcast, which includes audio and video to break the good news to students, according to a report from the Associated Press. The school will still send out traditional envelopes with notification of acceptance or rejection, alongside the email notice.
Other World Computing (OWC) today lowered prices on its Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire800/400+USB 2.0 storage solutions. The sleek external, aluminum, bootable storage devices utilize the Oxford 912 Chipset and the leading hard disk mechanisms on the market to provide reliable, high performance storage. All Mercury Elite-AL models are EMC Retrospect backup certified. The company offers the drives in capacities from 80GB to 500GB and include FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 cabling; Intech HD Speedtools; EMC Retrospect backup software; and a full 2 year Warranty. The drives are available for $150 (80GB), $180 (160GB), $210 (250GB), $240 (300GB or 320GB), $340 (400GB), and $460 (500GB).
Wrappers today unveiled a range of iPod slip covers at the Geneva Motor Show. The cases feature six different colors which include "sunset," "midnight blue," "cranberry," "oatmeal," "otter grey," and "smokey black." The cases fit both 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPods, as well as all iPod nano models. Wrappers iPod slip covers are priced at £15 each, and feature a square cloth pattern.
Runtime Revolution today released a major upgrade to its Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor software for Windows and Mac OS X. Version 4.1 adds Dutch keyboard/language support, and Swiss keyboard support under French as well as German languages. The update offers several enhancements to overall performance/stability, and includes five habits of touch typing. Key features of Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor include "Ten Thumbs SongSeeker," a typing solution that allows users to type lyrics while listening to music; a "real world language generator" that produces fresh sentences to type; a personal trainer approach that teaches the five habits of touch typing; adaptive lessons that automatically adjust to skill levels, teaching new keys as necessary and adjusting the lesson plan; and a new multimedia experience that lets users watch as the "Typing Viking" comes alive on the screen. Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor 4.1 is priced at $26, and requires Mac OS X 10.1.3 or later.
NEC has developed a new chip that enables mobile phones to play up to 50 hours of music, which beats out Apple's longest lasting iPod model by thirty hours of play time. The single-chip uPD99910 is the first in the company's new AP series of audio processors, integrating a central processing unit and digital signal processor dedicated to music playback, as well as an interface dedicated to copyright protection, according to Slashphone. The chip is designed to be a companion chip to an application processor, and incorporates an SD Memory Card interface while supporting Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) technology. With the ability to integrate the aforementioned features on a single chip, the new processor allows manufacturers to improve mobile phone performance while reducing time to market and costs, according to the report.
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the FlexPed ($40, shown at right) and SiK imp ($27) from Thought Out and SiK.... Big Nerd Ranch Europe, an organization for cutting edge courses in programming and systems administration, has moved to Humboldtstrasse 34 97209 Veitshöchheim, Germany.... France has begun lobbying other European states to incorporate the same legislation that is currently pending French senate approval, which would force Apple to open iTunes up to its competitors.... Apple's senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive plans to speak at the Art Center Design Conference in Pasadena, California on March 25th from 5-7 p.m.... Microsoft may be planning to replace current Windows executive Jim Allchin with the head of Microsoft Office development, Steven Sinofsky.
The MacBook Pro Core Duo runs Adobe Photoshop faster than other laptops originally designed for Microsoft Windows, according to Benchmark tests of Windows XP running on PCS and other Intel-based Macs: "The MacBook Pro is the fastest Core Duo laptop we've tested running the Photoshop scripts. It's faster than other laptops originally designed for Windows. This bodes very well for the performance of an Intel-accelerated OS X Photoshop, when that finally appears." GearLog tested the performance of Windows XP on a Mac mini, an iMac, and a MacBook Pro, according to Macworld UK. Testers used a guide available from OnMac, discovering that each computer requires a different version of software to help the machines choose between operating systems on start-up. Although no video drivers yet exist for the dual-boot machines, testers found that once Windows was installed, it had no problem running at the full 1,680 x 1,050 resolution of the 20-inch screen. "We got Ethernet, wireless networking, and the headphone jack (but not the internal speakers, iSight or the remote) working using drivers suggested by OnMac," testers said.
Riverdeep today announced that its Destination Success courseware can be hosted on Mac OS X Server 10.4, offering educators a fast and cost effective learning solution. "Riverdeep's commitment to help transform education is clearly reinforced by this delivery of a Mac OS X Server compatible version of Destination Success," said Riverdeep Chief Education Officer Gail Elizabeth Pierson. "We look forward to providing additional innovative Mac-based solutions that will have a positive impact on learning. Only by individualizing instruction can we hope to improve academic performance and prepare students for future success." The Destination Success courseware combined with Mac OS X Server and Xserve offers schools and districts an integrated digital learning environment that delivers individualized instruction to help students succeed.
Senior analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray today published a research note regarding Microsoft's decision to delay its Windows Vista launch, outlining the expected impacts on involved parties. "Vista promises to incorporate a simplified, enriched consumer experience, which is the hallmark of the Mac operating systems. Therefore, we view delays in Vista as a fractional near-term positive for Apple," Munster said. The analyst believes Vista's delay will potentially result in a 5 percent negative impact on December 2006 revenue and earnings estimates for Microsoft. Munster notes, however, that the impact will likely be short lived. "Unlike other software companies' product launches, Microsoft products tend to have slow uptakes, with a steady ramp lasting up to two years. A two month slip in a product does not have a long-term impact on Microsoft's business model."
American Technology Research (ATR) today commented on the new French draft law which threatens to open up iTunes to Apple's competitors, as well as Microsoft's decision to push back its Windows Vista operating system launch to January of 2007. "On the surface, this [draft law] appears negative for Apple, but we believe interoperability could ironically become a catalyst for driving more iPod units." Apple today responded to the French law, also proposing the possibility that its iPod sales could balloon as users freely load up their iPods with interoperable music, "which cannot be adequately protected." American Technology also believes that Apple has a superior product to other players, which will give the company an advantage should the French law pass the senate. "In our view, customers are attracted to Apple's ease-of-use, industrial design, iconic brand name, and competitive prices. Moreover, we do not believe Apple is that dependent on its iTunes music store as we estimate that about 2-3 dozen songs are purchased from iTunes over the life of each iPod, meaning most consumers get their music another way."
PremiumSoft today released Navicat 6.1.5 for MySQL, the latest iteration of the company's database management tool that features enhanced support for MySQL 5.0.x, as well as improved import/export and data transfer capabilities. The MySQL client tool features an intuitive interface, can synchronize databases, and connects to remote PostgreSQL servers. Primary features of Navicat include a visual query builder; SSH tunneling for remote database connectivity; server-to-server database transfers; data and structure synchronization; import/export of most popular data formats to and from MySQL; task scheduling; and easy-to-use "wizards" designed to walk users through the steps of migrating CSV, DBF, TXT, XML, or other data formats to MySQL. Navicat for MySQL 6.1.5 is available for $100, and requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later.
Now AAPL Stock: 100.35 ( -0.06 )
Trade-up program expands in Europe
Smartphone users in France, Italy, and Spain will have until at least August of this year to trade in old iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android models at Apple Stores, and put the reward towards a new iPhone -- thanks to an expansion of Apple's trade-in program into those countries. The money given for the trade-in must be applied towards a new iPhone on a two-year payment plane, and traders must qualify under a credit check as part of the program. Interested customers can apply for the trade-in at their nearest Apple Store. http://bit.ly/1qPsldD
NBCUniversal adds Bravo, Syfy, E! to Apple TV
NBCUniversal has launched three new apps channels for Apple TV users. Bravo Now, Syfy Now and E! Now brings users access full seasons of current and past episodes of most of NBCUniversal's catalog. The Bravo Now app includes shows like "The Real Housewives of New York Cit," "Below Deck Mediterranean," comedy "Odd Mom Out" and "Top Chef." The Syfy Now app offers up shows like "The Magicians," thriller "12 Monkeys" and the reality show "Face Off." The E! Now app serves up shows like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," "Botched," "#RichKids of Beverly Hills," Caitlyn Jenner's "I Am Cait," and "WAGS." While some content is free, most content requires users to authenticate via their cable satellite or telco TV provider. http://bit.ly/20K4Pea
Apple rolls out Arabic version of Apple.com
Apple has rolled out a new version of its Apple.com website for Arabic language users in the United Arab Emirates. The site utilizes a right-to-left reading format where it has been updated, although the upgrade is still in progress with a number of page links still in the original English language left-to-right format. Of particular note is that the site debuts an all-new custom Arabic font created by the Tarek Atrissi Design agency, giving it a highly contemporary look and feel. The new support for Arabic on its host website follows the introduction of full support for right-to-left languages in iOS 9, and the addition of Arabic support to Siri late last year. http://apple.co/20JHGIM
Adobe previews Photoshop content-aware crop
Adobe has previewed a new 'content-aware crop' feature from the next version of its Photoshop CC. The new feature is similar to its 'content-aware fill' from the current version of Photoshop CC, and potentially saves users time when cropping photos in a way that might otherwise leave blank white space in the frame. Adobe's 'content-aware' tech automatically assesses the blank space and seamlessly fills the blank space with the nearest related content in the space when a photo is expanded or rotated without the need to manually clone that part of the image. The feature allows users to move a horizon by adding more sky or ground, change the aspect ratio by adding content around the edges of the image and fill in the corners of an image when rotated during a crop. Adobe says the feature is coming soon and will be automatically available to Creative Cloud subscribers. http://adobe.ly/20JDFEu
Markzware updates Q2ID for QuarkXPress 12 files
Graphic design file conversion tool maker Markzware has launched a new version of its Q2ID tool. The InDesign plugin enables users to open QuarkXPress files within a new InDesign (INDD) document, without rebuilding the QXP document from scratch -- the new version includes support for QuarkXPress 12 files. Q2ID Subscription members can download the new version as part of their annual plan. A single-user can purchase the plugin for $200, with other licensing options available. http://bit.ly/1Z4dS9t
PopChar X 7.5 arrives
Ergonis Software has released PopChar X 7.5, an improved version of the company's tool for finding and inserting special characters and exploring fonts. PopChar X 7.5 adds support for combined emojis in the Apple Color Emoji font, enhances the "Font Info" view, and adds many further enhancements that improve overall speed and stability. PopChar X 7.5 retails for â‚¬30 ($34), and is free for anyone who owns a license for PopChar X 7 or purchased a license for PopChar X 6 on or after March 1, 2014 [4.5MB]
Safari Technology Preview release 5 arrives