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MP3 player market grows
Apple's iPod continues to dominate the rapidly growing MP3 player market, which could double in the coming years. A new In-Stat report says that the worldwide market for Flash-based and Hard Disk Drive (HDD)-based players will jump from 140 million units in 2005 to 286 million by 2010 and also revealed that Apple's competitors were facing pressures in a very competitive market. The report bodes well for Apple, which experienced a slow down in iPod sales in March quarter, but recently said it was looking to Europe and Asia for iPod growth. In-Stat said that the growing market is driven by several factors, including falling price points, the availability of legitimate subscription and pay-per-download online music sites, increasing Flash memory capacities, and enhanced functionality.
Sony preps iPod killer
Sony is hoping to dethrone the iPod with its next-generation music player. A new report claims that Sony is prepping a new music player that it hopes will rival the success of the iPod. Due within the next year, Sony says the next-generation player will focus on design and long-battery life. The company has tried unsuccessfully to unseat the iPod as the defacto standard for music players, according to the report: "Sony has tried to unseat Apple in that market before with little success, and its recently launched A-series Walkman digital music players are on sale only in Japan and Europe.... The new player will be lauched within the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2007, Yuhara said. He wouldn't be more specific, but acknowledged that the holiday sales period between the US Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is an important time for consumer electronics products. Sony sold 4.5 million digital music players in the year to March, and expects this to rise to 5.5 million in the current year."
Apple Store in Toronto
In brief: VGSmart has published its first published book, The Indie Developerís Guide to Selling Games ($28 PDF or $35 print), an informal look at game marketing, from development to post-published.... Smith Micro is offering a public beta of the Universal version of the popular and free StuffIt Expander.... Apple has posted the Developer Note for its Intel-based Mac mini, which contains details on the machines internal specs.... A second Canadian Apple retail store located in the Eaton Center in Toronto will hold its grand opening on May 6, 2006, according to a new report. Mozilla.org is expected to ship a security patch to its open-source Firefox browser to address without a publicly reported security issue that could cause a crash when initializing an iframe as HTML edit where html loaded contains a second iframe. iPodNN reports that Proporta.com has launched silicone iPod cases (pictured at right) that change color based on temperature.... RealNetworks has released RealPlayer 10.1, a new Universal version of its free media player that supports video content playback.
iTunes flat-rate contracts
Apple on Monday said it had renewed contracts with the four largest record companies to sell songs through its iTunes for 99 cents each, according to The Financial Times. The agreements were signed with Universal, Warner Music, EMI and Sony BMG, following months of public jockeying on song pricing. The music labels wanted to implement variable pricing to charge more for more popular songs, while Steve Jobs, calling the Labels "greedy," wanted keep the flat price structure. The agreement is seen largely as a defeat for music labels, as they struggle to regain control of the online music industry, which is dominated by Apple's iTunes but continues to grow rapidly. The report says that online music sales surged 194 per cent last year to 352 million songs, according to Nielsen Soundscan. Overall album sales fell 3.9 percent. Rival Napster has begun to offer free songs via the Web in a effort to break Apple's stranglehold on digital music, which accounts for about 5 percent of overall album sales.
Color changing Nano cases
Proporta.com has launched silicone iPod cases that change color based on temperature. The Color Change Silicone Cases are molded from impact-absorbent silicone to provide a thin, durable protective skin around the device. Colors include pink, blue, and charcoal, which gradually change to white based on temperature. Cutaways offer access to ports and controls, allowing iPod usage while the player remains inside the case. Color Change Silicone Cases are compatible with Apple's iPod nano model and ship with a lifetime warranty from Proporta.com for $20.
Bell unveils SAN solution
Bell Microproducts today released SAN (Storage Area Network) solutions with Apple, QLogic, and BakBone Software that can be customized to specific requirements. The solutions consist of BakBone's NetVault Backup and recovery software, Apple's Xserve and Xraid Server and Storage system with QLogic Fibre Channel HBAs and QLogic SANbox switch. The setup has been tested by Bell Microproducts to work across heterogeneous client workstations and operating systems(pricing was unavailable).
SANS: OS X flaws growing
The SANS Institute today announced updates to the Top 20 Internet Security Vulnerabilities, listing rapid growth in critical vulnerabilities being discovered in Mac OS X, including a zero-day vulnerability. The update notes, however, that Mac OS X still remains safer than Windows. The Mac's reputation as a "bullet-proof alternative" to Windows is "in tatters," according to the SANS Institute. "As attackers are increasingly turning their attention to the platform, OS X vulnerabilities are being discovered at a rapid pace, which could erode this safety in the future." A security professional recently revealed several security vulnerabilities in various Mac OS X applications, reporting them to Apple's product security team. As yet those vulnerabilities remain unpatched, supporting critics of Apple's security policy who claim the company is slow to react to threats.
Teacup releases DataLinker
Teacup Software today released DataLinker, offering users an easy way to connect databases to Adobe InDesign CS-2 documents. Users can link CSV and ODBC-compliant databases to a document with an add-on plug-in by using a simple palette. DataLinker automatically inserts new information or changes made to the data source via a synchronize feature, and offers merge capabilities to insert data from a data source one field at a time or from multiple records simultaneously. The software integrates closely with Teacup's TableStyles/CellStyles and BarcodeMaker plug-ins, providing extra functionality for users working with tables or barcodes. Both DataLinker and the ODBC add-on are available for $300 each, requiring Mac OS X or Windows 2000 and above with Adobe InDesign CS-2 (specific system requirements were unavailable).
New Keynote theme released
Divine Fiat has released Title Card, the company's latest theme for Apple's Keynote presentation software designed with film, TV, and video professionals in mind. The theme features photo cutouts in 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, as well as a graphic design based on the golden age of Hollywood with clear Arial black text. Title Card includes 56 text and photo layout masters, as well as an extras file that provides a variety of text box layouts for each photo cutout master. Title Card is available in two versions, Sepia or Noir, each priced at $20. Both versions are available together for $35. Title Card requires Keynote 3.0 or later.
Parallels Workstation B6
Parallels has launched Parallels Workstation 2.1 Beta6 for Mac OS X, enabling users to enjoy Windows, Linux, and any other operating system simultaneously with Mac OS X without having to reboot the system. Major changes in the Beta6 version include support for more USB devices, shared folder fixes adding support for guest Windows 2000, network improvements allowing host-only networking, and custom video resolutions support. Parallels Workstation 2.1 Beta6 also introduces an "Image Tool," as well as an automatic update feature coupled with various bug fixes. The free, fully functional download requires any Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later.
French minister backs law
The French Minister of culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres has said the French government will move forward with a law that would render Apple's iTunes Music Store an illegal entity. The Minister said all music and videos purchased from iTunes, which currently play exclusively on Apple's iTunes software and iPod players, must be playable by other devices and software programs, according to the International Herald Tribune. Back in March French lawmakers approved the online copyright bill by a 296-193 vote, and the U.S. government backed Apple's stance on the bill two days later, saying that companies need to protect their intellectual property. iTunes rivals Maersk and TDC, which both operate their own online music services in Europe began a public lobbying effort in late March, urging Denmark to open up the closed iPod/iTunes ecosystem following coverage of the French draft law. The Danish Minister of Culture reportedly promised to introduce new DRM legislation in 2007 to help ensure interoperability.
Flip Wireless unveiled
Belkin today unveiled the Flip Wireless, an accessory allowing users to share one monitor, keyboard, and mouse between two computers while reducing cables that clutter the desktop. The device includes a wireless remote that works anywhere within 10 feet of the computers, which can be mounted using an included fastener strip. The accessory can share speakers between any combination of PC and Mac desktop or notebook systems in addition to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Flip Wireless uses RF (Radio Frequency) wireless technology, supports video resolutions of up to 2048 x 1536, and includes a two-color LED to indicate which computer the device is accessing. The Flip Wireless is expected to ship in June for $80 with a three-year warranty.
Double Nano capacity?
Apple is readying product updates to its iPod nano line that could double its capacity and add video support by September, according to research firm American Technology. Maintaining its "buy" rating on Apple stock along with a $101 price target, the firm circulated a research note that its aging iPod nano product line would receive upgraded storage capacity and basic video support to help differentiate the popular music players from its competitors. "We continue to believe that the iPod nano is in need of a refresh with either an increase in storage capacities and/or price cuts to regenerate interest. Our most recent checks indicate that the current 2GB and 4GB models will see their storage doubled to 4GB and 8GB capacities," analyst Shaw Wu told clients.
ABC TV, Apple II auction
In brief: ABC's experimental free TV service uses flash technology, making it compatible with Mac systems.... One user has posted the fifth Apple II computer ever produced (shown at right) with extras as an auction on eBay.... The Australian Apple University Consortium today announced that it will offer scholarships to university staff and students to attend this years Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) being held in the U.S. in August of 2006.... Disney's heavily-promoted ToonTown Online is incompatible with Mac systems, requiring Internet Explorer 5 or later running on a Windows PC.... iProng is holding its third annual MacGathering in Los Angeles, CA offering users free advice on how to use an iPod, download music through iTunes, and other iPod-related information.
ZFS for Mac OS X?
Apple is considering porting Sun's modern performance file system to Mac OS X. Developed for Sun's Solaris 10 operating system, the ZFS file system offers extremely fast performance, support for virtually unlimited capacity, advanced data integrity routines, and more. ZFS, based on a transactional object model, removes most of the traditional constraints on the order of issuing I/Os, which results in "huge performance gains," according to Sun. An email message sent by Sun's Eric Kustarz says that Apple's CoreOS team is interested in porting ZFS to Mac OS X. "Chris Emura, the Filesystem Development Manager within Apple's CoreOS organization is interested in porting ZFS to OS X," the message read. Apple currently uses the HFSX file system, a slightly modified version of the HFS Plus or Mac OS X Extended system.
750GB Mercury Elite-AL Pro
Other World Computing (OWC) today launched a 750GB version of its Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 400/800 + USB 2.0 drive. The enclosure measures 9 x 2.1 x 5.8-inches, and features a sleek aluminum design. All OWC FireWire and FireWire+USB Mercury Elite-AL Pro models incorporate high speed Custom Oxford 911+ or 912 chipsets, and are available with FireWire 800/400 interfaces only or FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 connectivity. The new drive is priced at $600, and ships with all necessary USB and/or FireWire cabling. All Mercury Elite-AL Pro drives come packaged with the Intech HD Speedtools utility suite, EMC Retrospect backup software, and a two-year warranty.
Free Web music service
Looking for ways to fight Apple's dominance in the online music market, Napster today will launch the first free legal music listening service. The ad-based service will allow users to listen to--via the Web only--its catalog of more than 2 million songs from both major and independent labels. Users will be able to listen to each track up to five times each. The ad-supportedd service will initially be available in the US only and supplement its other offerings, which include a pay-per-song and subscription models. Use of the Web-based player will require registration using a valid email address, The company is also expected to introduced a variety of other services at Musexpo event in Los Angeles.
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