In brief: Creative is trying to increase sales of its MP3 players--and cut into Apple's overwhelming marketshare lead--by aggressively slashing prices across its product line.... Shares of Synaptics today rose after an analyst suggested the company's technology will be used in Apple's next iPod nano model.... Macgamestore.com is including Gem Shop ($20) and Word Challenge Extreme ($20) as part of its Mac-based game offering.... Bluelounge has introduced the cableyoyo Pop ($10, shown at right), a small tote to store earbuds designed with a suction cup for iPod owners.... Ontrack Data Recovery has developed new Mac-specific tools that allow Ontrack engineers to recover more data, offer improved reports, handle larger volume sizes, support more languages, and provide faster return of data to customers.
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (N.A.T.A.S) has unveiled the nominees for the first Emmy Award ever bestowed to original entertainment programming created specifically for iPods, mobile phones, PDAs and computers. Six finalists emerged from 74 entries, including AOL's coverage of the Live 8 concerts and the new short "Mobispodes" created for "24" fans, according to the L.A. Times. The Emmy winner will be named on April 22nd at the Creative Arts banquet, to be held at the Marriott Marquis in New York. Interestingly, the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (A.T.A.S) which honors primetime programming and is sometimes involved in legal disputes with N.A.T.A.S, is so far quietly watching the offshoot of primetime's "24," according to the report. Should the two academies battle in court again, there may not be a successful resolution because the old primetime/daytime definitions don't apply to iPod programs, which can be viewed on-demand.
Apple may be looking at full-on marketshare assualt from rival Creative. Creative is trying to increase sales of its MP3 players--and cut into Apple's overwhelming marketshare lead--by aggressively slashing prices across its product line, according to Macworld UK. The report says that Creative has cut prices significantly to take on Apple, whom it says is its main market competitor. The company has reduced prices on its 8GB Zen MicroPhoto to £150 (from £180), which Creative boasts "is £30 cheaper than the iPod nano." The company, which revealed an operating loss of up to $65 million in the March quarter, hopes that its more aggressive price points will help it gain marketshare. Creative also cut prices on its Creative Zen Nano Plus range of flash-based MP3 players: "Now the same price as Apple's 'random' flash offering", the company declared. These products now start at £34.99 (for the 256MB version).
Bluelounge has introduced the cableyoyo Pop, a small tote to store earbuds designed with iPod owners in mind. The cableyoyo Pop features a suction cup that can stick to the back of any iPod model (except the Shuffle), creating a convenient place to store earphones that remains attached to the device. Users can coil the cord around the suction cup, and can decorate the product with one of 10 decals, which ship with the tote. Customers receive one Pop, a belt clip, an adhesive strip, and clear adhesive to assemble the device, in addition to the decals. The cableyoyo Pop is due to ship this month for $10, and is available in white or black.
Data Rescue II 1.1 ($100) is a free upgrade to the data recovery software for Mac, offering native support for Intel Macs as a Universal Binary. Data Rescue II features a Cocoa-based interface, assistant and expert modes of operation, drag & drop recovery, easy-opening of files, and more support for content-based scans (up to 10x more file types). The application also offers improved scanning for deleted files, better recovery algorithms, and improved user workflow. [Download - [form]] CandyBar 2.6 ($13) updates the hack-free system icon customization utility, offering native support for Intel Macs as a Universal Binary, as well as support for Mac OS X 10.4.6. Candy Bar now requires Mac OS X 10.3.9, and includes a number of bug fixes. The software offers users a safe, easy way to customize desktop icons, folders, clipping icons, locations, and the Mac OS X Trash icon. [Download - 4MB] ODBC Router 4.00.29a (from $170) updates the Open Data Base Connectivity networking system. Version 4.00.29a enables all versions of FileMaker Pro from 4.1 through 8.2 on Mac OS X, Mac OS Classic and Windows to interact with databases managed by IBM DB/2, SQL Server, MS-Access, ORACLE, MySQL, Rdb/VMS, VAX DBMS, Informix, Ingres, PostgresSQL, TeraData, Red Brick, Universe, and more. ODBC Router 4.00.29a requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, as well as router DR3M16. [Download - 2.7MB] ShapeShifter 2.3.1 ($20) enables users to change the overall appearance of their Mac using themes. The update resolves an issue that caused menu text in Photoshop CS2 and Firefox to be black regardless of the theme color, and changing screen resolution no longer leaves "garbage" behind the menubar status items. Carbon windows now disable use of a unified toolbar to increase compatibility, effectively fixing a bug that caused those apps to hang (such as iClip and Interarchy 8). [Download - 5.9MB] PDFpen, PDFpenPro 2.3.4 ($50 for PDFpen, $90 for PDFpenPro) is an update to the PDF editing and form-filling utility, PDFpen, as well as the form creation utility PDFpenPro. PDFpenPro 2.3.4 features new keyboard shortcuts, along with performance enhancements. Both applications offer enhanced document compatibility, coupled with updates for password-protected documents on Intel as Universal Binaries. [Download - 5.9MB (PDFpen) and 5.9MB (PDFpenPro)] ShowMacster 1.8 ($20) is an extension to Apple's iChat AV that enables users to stream pictures, Quicktime movies, and live screen captures during video conferences. Version 1.8 is available as a Universal Binary to support Intel Macs natively, and works with MPEG1 movies. The update also offers better positioning of send frame when moving live screen captures, and fixes problems with Soreson codec in conjunction with QuickTime 7. [Download - 1.5MB]
In brief: Adobe today announced a new Adobe Creative Suite 2 print professional eSeminar series event that will feature two new sessions on Job Definition Format (JDF) and Variable Data Publishing (VDP).... Two of Adobe's typefaces and designers have won the prestigious Type Directors Club Typeface Design Competition, and the winner's work is set to appear in the Type Directors Club annual magazine.... Apple has been in talks with Aircraft in-flight entertainment system providers about the possibility of licensing iTunes software for airline systems.... Coinstar has announced that it is allowing consumers to exchange coins for iTunes gift cards or for Virgin Digital eCertificates as part of its new Coin to Card program.... Fabrix cases has unveiled a new range of retro-inspired polka-dotted iPod cases, lined with inner quilted padding to protect the player from light bumps and scratches.... Phanfare has announced a video file limit increase to its online service, allowing users to upload clips of up to five minutes in length or 1GB in size.
SoundTech Professional Audio today announced its patented AMP3 guitar amplifier and computer music center, a versatile speaker system featuring solid wood construction, an input for iPods, other MP3 players and PCs as well as guitar amplifier features including a built in instrument tuner and DSP (Digital Signal Processing) amplifier modeling effects. Featuring an input to connect an MP3 player, CD player or computer, the SoundTech AMP3 is designed for musicians who want to jam along with their favorite tracks or easily record their own creations. The AMP3's guitar input features four amp sounds - Clean, Hot Tube, Over Drive and High Gain and a tone expander control that changes the sound of a guitar from warm and rich to bright with heavy undertones. It will ship later this month for $130.
Archway Systems and Evoqe today announced a partnership between the two companies, as Archway offers solidThinking Forma 3D modeling software coupled with each license of VersaCAD for either Mac or Windows. VersaCAD is a production-level CAD application intended for use by engineers, draftspersons, and other technical professionals working in the architectural, civil engineering, construction, and mechanical industries. SolidThinking Forma is an easy-to-use 3D surface modeler with NURBS support that features a customizable interface layout. VersaCAD for Intel Macs began shipping in January, and both products can import models from the other. The VersaCAD/solidThinking bundle is priced at $800 for a new seat, and existing users of VersaCAD can upgrade to the Premium Service for the latest version of both products for $600/year. VersaCAD for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later (solidThinking Forma system requirements were unavailable).
Apple has been in talks with Aircraft in-flight entertainment (IFE) system providers about the possibility of licensing iTunes software for airline systems, according to one report. The deal would allow passengers to download videos and music to iPods in-flight, while several airlines have requested building iPod docks into seatbacks, enabling passengers to browse the iTunes Music Store via the airline's IFE system before transferring music directly onto an MP3 player. Suppliers such as Panasonic and Thales are exploring various concepts to accommodate airline requests for an expansion of on-board applications, according to Flight International. "We've had lots of discussions with Apple," Brad Foreman, vice-president and in-flight systems general manager of Thales said. "The key is to get them to see the value of hosting iTunes on an aircraft. Is it a big enough market for them to be interested in? I'd try to do it tomorrow if they said yes."
Iomega today rolled out its REV Loader 280, a new desktop autoloader designed to economically solve the backup and archive needs of small businesses. The device utilizes standard hard drive components and Iomega removable technology to offer 280GB of storage capacity (560GB compressed), managing up to eight 35GB REV disks. The compact desktop form factor measures less than seven inches tall and five inches wide, boasting a new patent-pending autoloader design that costs roughly half as much as many competing tape products, according to Iomega. REV technology delivers up to 25MB/sec data transfer rates with random access capability, and REV disks provide an estimated archival life of 30 years. The REV Loader 280 connects to servers via USB 2.0, and comes bundled with a license for CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Windows, which includes support for disaster recovery. The Iomega REV Loader 280 desktop autoloader is available for $1,000, while REV 35GB disks are priced at $50 per disk in quantities of four.
NovaMind today released a new Universal version of NovaMind, its mind mapping application for problem solving, summarization, memorization, visualization, presentations, planning etc. Novamind 3.019 also offers a Universal Spotlight importer for quicker indexing of NovaMind files for Spotlight searches, and a Universal version of the Branch Proposal creativity enhancement system. In addition, the company has added many new layout and usability enhancements. The company says that NovaMind allows users to produce unique, information rich, vivid solutions for enhanced creative thinking and compelling presentations. NovaMind 3.0.19 is available as a free update for all registered NovaMind 3 users. The standard edition is $100, while the Screenwriter Edition is $120. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9.
Brother today launches a new P-Touch labeling system - model PT-2700 - designed for professional users in office, commercial and industrial fields. Compatible with both PCs or Macs, the PT-2700 features a vivid back-light display for easy viewing in virtually any environment, an angled Keytops for quick, accurate typing, slit-back tape support for easy liner removal (starter roll included), and time/date printing, which automatically adds info from built-in clock, for samples, visitor management, quality control and other time-sensitive labeling. The device includes a host of pre-set label formats and layouts as well as support for text in 8 fonts, 8 sizes, and many styles such as bold and italic. Users can also add symbols from the extensive library, and can add fancy text frames. The $100 PT-2700 package includes an AC adapter, CD-ROM label creation software, USB cable, tape cassette and user's manual. It is expected to ship in May/June of this year.
FileMaker today announced its FileMaker Pro 8 Great Book Giveaway. The 10-week sweepstakes -- which begins today and ends June 18th -- states that eight entrants each week will be chosen to win a FileMaker Pro 8 book or magazine subscription. Available titles include "FileMaker 8 Functions and Scripts Desk Reference" by Scott Love; "FileMaker 8 @work: Projects and Techniques to Get the Job Done" by Jesse Feiler; "FileMaker Pro 8: The Missing Manual" by Geoff Coffey; "FileMaker Pro 8 Bible" by Dennis R. Cohen and Steven A. Schwartz; "Creating a Database in FileMaker Pro 8: Visual QuickProject Guide" by Steve Schwartz; "FileMaker Pro 8 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide" by Nolan Hester; "Special Edition Using FileMaker 8" by Scott Love and Steve Lane; and "FileMaker Pro 8 for Dummies" by Timothy Trimble. Magazines include "FileMaker Advisor magazine" and "Advisor Basics of FileMaker Pro magazine."
American Technology Research senior analyst Shaw Wu today commented on Apple's forthcoming report of its March quarter financial results, and believes the company will report the second best quarter in its 30 year history. Wu says Apple may exceed its guidance of $4.3 billion in revenue and $0.38 in EPS, modeling $4.4 billion, $0.43, and 8.8 million iPods versus a market consensus of $4.6 billion and $0.44. "We continue to believe Apple will guide conservatively reflecting efforts to reduce inventory of PowerPC Macs and older iPod nanos," Wu wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. The analyst said that consensus revenue estimates for the June quarter remain unrealistically high, however, and warns that Apple will likely make another attempt to reset expectations. American Technology Research maintains a "Buy" rating on Apple's stock.
Users of Apple's new Boot Camp beta technology can breathe easy. Apple has assured Intel Mac users that installing Boot Camp will not invalidate the warranty on their machines, according to PC Pro. "Installing Boot Camp does not invalidate your Apple warranty," a spokesperson for Apple UK confirmed. The report counters rumors and speculation that had begun circulating on its own tech support discussion boards as well as reports that some staff at Apple's retail stores had told some users that installing Boot Camp would negate the warranty on their MacBook Pros, according to the publication.
Griffin Technology launched its new Proxi software that allows users to create your their Mac OS X shortcuts. "It simplifies complicated tasks for you as an intermediary among various parts of your system, or even your network." The company says that Proxi offers a single, versatile interface within which users can configure all Griffin devices, define custom hot keys, monitor Mail, iChat, and RSS feeds, execute repeating tasks, and more. Proxi gives owners of AirClick, PowerMate and Radio Shark powerful new features to enhance and customize their hardware, including the ability to program applications for use with AirClick, use multiple PowerMates in a single application, and fine tune its Radio Shark FM radio device. The beta software is available now for free for Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Apple today launched its new Multi-picture Deal promotion, offering a $300 rebate when users purchase Final Cut Studio with a Power Mac, MacBook Pro, or iMac between April 4, 2006, and June 26, 2006: "Get the all-in-one virtual studio with powerful editing tools, revolutionary sound design, real-time motion graphics, and next-generation DVD authoring to make your story come alive." The instant rebate is good at Apple Store online, Apple Store retail locations or an Apple Authorized Resellers and does not apply to to education sales. The full terms and conditions are listed in this PDF.
Apple today announced Apple Remote Desktop 3, the third generation of Apple's desktop management software. Building on Mac OS X version 10.4 "Tiger" innovations such as Spotlight, Dashboard and Automator, Apple Remote Desktop 3 is a Universal application optimized for Intel-based Macs and delivers more than 50 new features that deliver improvements in software distribution, asset management and remote assistance, including Spotlight searches across multiple Tiger systems; over 30 Automator actions for automating repetitive system administration tasks; a Dashboard Widget that provides quick and convenient observation of remote systems; and AutoInstall for installing software automatically on mobile systems when they return online. It is available immediately from the Apple Store (Canada) for $300 for managing up to 10 systems and $500 for managing an unlimited number of systems.
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,¬†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