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: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
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,Â Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard DiskÂ Drive,Â 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