Apple's strong Q3 results, along with record Mac sales, are not all what they have been touted as, according to one columnist. MarketWatch's Herb Greenberg has posted a "Reality Check" on Apple stock, noting that while Apple posted impressive Q3 2006 numbers, the trend is still down for Apple. "So, what's not to like? Plenty, especially when you consider that iPod unit sales, from a quarter ago, tumbled 5 percent -- the second straight quarter of declines," the columnist noted. "And while iPod unit sales were up 32 percent year-over-year, that's down from the prior quarter's 61 percent year-over-year gain."
NotePage has updated FeedForAll Mac v2.0, its software that allows publishers and webmasters to create, edit and publish: RSS feeds, podcasts and videocasts. The software allows users to easily develop personalized RSS feeds, offering full support for iTunes extensions, as well as a host of other popular namespaces. Additionally, FeedForAll Mac's new release supports unified publishing to upload and link other files, can create an OPML list or blogroll of feeds to help manage multiple feeds, and can control import of existing RSS feeds using the new advanced import feature. The solution features a built-in wizard that walks users through the creation of various RSS feeds and namespaces as well as offers a feature-rich WYSWIG HTML editor that allows content publishers to personalize feeds with images and enhance the appearance of the RSS feed's text using tools such a live spell checking, and image manipulation. FeedForAll Mac requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and costs $40.
Intel has announced plans to release Kentsfield (Desktop) and Clovertown (Server/Workstation) processors as early as Q4 this year. Both chips are quad-core with two Conroe or Woodcrest cores on a single chip. The move is likely to counter AMD's 4x4 true quad-core systems. Ars Technica believes the two processors will likely be evenly matched, and that the true winner will be declared by side features such as the type of memory latency and data access rates. Kentsfield, like Conroe, will be limited to a single socket, while Clovertown will be usable in dual-CPU systems. Ars also believes that Kentsfield will likely offer greater performance for the price.
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the USB External 3.5-inch Mac Hard Drive Kit ($45, shown at right), offering additional storage with 3.5-inch IDE hard disks.... Apple has confirmed the temporary closure of its seminar theater located at the company's Regent Street store in London for renovation.... Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- who was criticized in February by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak for focusing on the iPod -- was reportedly delighted yesterday after the company released its quarterly financial results.... Perl Bootcamp is returning to the Big Nerd Ranch in September under the leadership of Perl expert Brian D Foy, offering visitors the chance to learn Perl at the intermediate level.
Belkin today unveiled its Wi-Fi Phone for Skype that lets users make free Skype calls without the need for a computer. The device offers free, unlimited domestic and international calls over the internet to other Skype users, as well as low-cost calls to "ordinary" areas worldwide, according to Belkin. "With over 100 million registered users all over the world, Skype is enabling the world's conversations," said Mike Chen, director of product management for Belkin. "The Belkin Wi-Fi Phone combines the cost savings and enjoyment of using Skype with the convenience of Wi-Fi, making it even easier for people to stay in touch." The Wi-Fi phone is slated for shipment in North America in August for $150, with launches planned in Asia, Europe, and Australia to follow thereafter.
Native Instruments today released Traktor DJ Studio 3.1, a free update to the digital DJ software. The latest iteration offers comprehensive Undo functionality for playlists, as well as the ability to "lock" playlists to prevent accidental changes. Traktor DJ Studio 3.1 features an enhanced user interface, and improves performance by up to 30 percent under Mac OS X. The update supports multiple simultaneous decks with time-stretching effects, and eases the process of browsing as well as purchasing new club music releases by offering context-search capability for the integrated Beatport store within any Traktor library. Traktor DJ Studio 3 is available for $120 until September 10th, 2006, and an Intel-native version is expected in the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year. The application requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later with a G4 1.5GHz or faster processor.
PlayFirst has released Subway Scramble, an action puzzle simulation that takes players on a rapid transit romp through the epic subway systems of New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Seoul. "It's a worldwide wreck of snarled subways, mangled metros and lost passengers. It's up to you to make sure that each subway system is returned to normal, and that all the passengers return to their proper destinations!" Stations begin to overflow with eager passengers when players take too long, and clearing an entire station in one delivery results in a three-car bonus. Earning enough tokens unlocks further international locations, and players must consider safety first or lose their safety token. Subway Scramble is available for $20 via Macgamestore.com, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
PCalc 3.1 ($20) is a calculator application featuring numerous scientific functions as well as support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations. The upgrade offers full support for AppleScript as well as engineering notation, includes new styling options to match its widget, and features several bug fixes. PCalc requires Mac OS X 10.4.2 or later. [Download - 2.3MB] MouseZoom 2.2 (free) allows users to select faster speeds for mouse tracking. MouseZoom 2.2 adds support for live tracking speed adjustments, no longer requiring users to log out as in earlier versions. The update includes support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal binary, and requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later. [Download - 96K] Navicat PostgreSQL 6.3 ($100) features a GUI environment to manage and develop PostgreSQL databases. Version 6.3 adds support for HTTP tunnel options, enhances dumping as well as transferring of foreign keys, support for database roles, and improves compatibility with syntax highlighting for SQL editor. Navicat requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 6.6MB] Nuvvo (free) is a free, on-demand eLearning utility that allows users to teach courses online. The latest version of Nuvvo features E-Commerce and Google AdSense support for all instructors. The Plus ($10) and Premium ($20) monthly plans allow up to 20 and 40 students, respectively, offering access to all of the commerce and advertising utilities. CSS Customization and sub-sections are reserved for corporate customers. FTPKit 1.3 ($30-70) adds a full-featured FTP socket class to REALbasic that features automatic parsing of FTP listings. The update features an increased buffer size for improved transfer speeds, enhanced file download info, improved delete functions, and several bug fixes. FTPKit requires REALbasic 5.5 or later. [Download - 348KB]
Addonics Technologies today unveiled the Cipher UDD, a hardware-based encryption reader-writer for securing data on flash media. The device offers USB 2.0 or eSATA connectivity, providing data security for ATA flash and PCMCIA hard drives as well as a variety of other flash media. The Cipher UDD encrypts and decrypts data on-the-fly via a hardware key, requiring no special software to install or password to remember. Once encrypted, flash media appears blank when accessed by other flash readers/writers. Adapters are available to support other forms of flash media, with base models offering 64-bit encryption for $80. The 9-in-1 Cipher UDD with 128-bit encryption is priced at $180.
Needham & Company analyst Charles Wolf today stressed Apple's "blowout" third quarter, raising earnings per share estimates due in part to "stunning" notebook shipments. "Apple got through another quarter of its transition to the Intel processor family," Wolf wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "We believe the Power Mac, the only model not running on Intel, will receive its Intel upgrade at the Worldwide Developers Conference on August 7th." Laptop shipments totaled 800,000 -- up 61 percent despite Apple's introduction of the new MacBook halfway through the quarter. "In our opinion [Apple's MacBook is] the best Mac yet in terms of price/performance," Wolf said.
Aspyr Media today announced that The Sims 2 Open for Business is live on its website, and that the company has set final system requirements for the game that allows Sims to create their own businesses. Sims can design clothing boutiques, beauty salons, florists, high-end electronics shops, bustling restaurant chains, or virtually any other type of business. Players can hire staff as the business grows while putting talented Sims to work making toys, running the register, crafting floral bouquets, giving sales pitches, or manufacturing robots. The game allows players to pick a business theme, set prices, and treat customers as desired. Players can turn talents into cash by learning the tricks of the trade, training good employees, and firing slackers. The Sims 2 Open for Business requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, as well as the full version of The Sims 2 for Mac OS X.
CyberTouch today rolled out its NEO 17-inch LCD touch monitor, a wall-mount widescreen open-frame touch screen monitor. The display utilizes a force-actuated resistive touch screen that is usable with a gloved hand, long nails, or any stylus accessory. The monitor is designed for the home-automation as well as home theater industries, and features a bright (450 nit) liquid crystal display that draws 31 watts of power. The low power consumption negates the need of a fan, reducing constant noise levels. The display input uses VGA with 1280 x 768 resolution, and the touch screen communications connect via either Serial RS232 or USB. The monitor includes drivers for Mac, Linux, and Windows systems (pricing was unavailable).
This clip from MacNN's latest podcast shows ChatFX in action with a demo of bluescreen and other CGI technology live in iChat. "Star Wars-type" effects are shown, alongside bluescreen, distortion, games, 3D and animation effects -- all on live video. ChatFX is available now for $20 and requires iChat AV (with iChat compatible camera), some effects require 32MB VRAM or more to operate properly. Go to our podcast section for the full episode.
Livid Instruments today released Octav-4, allowing users to control up to eight Edirol v-4 video mixers for synchronized and centralized control. Octav-4 supports multi-screen control by linking multiple v-4 video mixers with up to 32 video inputs and eight unique video outputs. The software takes advantage of the V-4's MIDI integration, allowing users to quickly configure, connect, and control multiple V-4s. Octav-4 features one step MIDI setup, cascading controls, automated input and transition cycling, BPM transitions, effects selection, and preset saving. The application is priced at $130, and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
A new report has surfaced on the threat of MP3 players to youth hearing, based on a study which found that about 14 percent of people who listen to music players such as Apple's iPod do so a "staggering" 28 hours per week. The study claimed that the youth of today are at risk of going deaf 30 years earlier in life than their parents did, and of those who reported hearing ringing in their ears after listening to loud music, one third continue to listen to their MP3 player every day. The survey also revealed that "38 percent of 16-34 year olds are not aware that listening to loud music on a personal music player, going to loud bars/nightclubs/concerts, playing loud music in the car or working with machinery can damage their hearing." Deafness Research UK determined that MP3 Players on "loud" have a higher decibel measure (112) than heavy traffic, car horns, and shouting in the ear.
Virtual Programming today announced that Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday has reached the beta testing stage, and is scheduled for release in September. Players rule as one of 175 countries through both World War II and World War III, as the Allies and the Soviet Union clash in Europe with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday expands tech trees with more detail, allowing players to develop tactical nuclear weapons as well as other types of nuclear warfare. An improved diplomatic/intelligence system reflects the increased political tension of the 1950's, coupled with improved artificial intelligence. The game includes tradeable weapons to equip allies with the latest technological advances, and offers an extra scenario for the year 1945 that features a continuation war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday is priced at $40, and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Peachpit Press today unveiled full-color Visual QuickStart Guides for iPhoto 6 and iMovie HD 6. The iPhoto 6 guide introduces activities from importing, tagging, and editing images to creating slideshows, photo albums, and easy online Web publishing. Readers also learn about the new features in iPhoto 6, including enhanced editing with special effects, calendars, cards, photocasting, and more. The iMovie HD 6 guide shows users how to use themes, tools, effects, timeline editing, video podcasts, and blogs. The author provides details about numerous new aspects in iMovie HD 6 and iDVD 6, including motion-graphics themes, real-time effects, audio enhancements, sharing options, and more. Each guide is individually priced at $23.
Other World Computing (OWC) today introduced the Quad Interface version of its flagship external storage solution line, the Mercury Elite-AL Pro. The new storage slution features four interface options in capacities up to 750GB. The new Quad Interface Mercury Elite-AL Pro features one (1) eSATA, two (2) FireWire 800 (1394B), one (1) FireWire 400 (1394A), and one (1) USB 2.0+1.1 ports. Engineered with the next-generation, high-speed Oxford 924 chipset and the fastest drive mechanisms on the market, the storage device achieves the fastest single-mechanism transfer speeds possible, sustaining up to 80MB/sec, according to OWC. It uses Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 and 7200.9 SATA-2 drives and is available in capacities of 250GB ($200), 320GB ($230), 400GB ($340), 500GB ($350), and 750GB ($630). It ships with all required cables and include both Intech HD Speedtools and EMC Retrospect backup software along with a five-year warranty on the drive mechanism and a two-year warranty on the entire device.
The Nike+iPod shipped last Thursday to much fanfare and hype, including a CNBC preview deemed the product 'revolutionary', and now critics are agreeing. This week, TIME magazine gave the Nike+iPod the honor of being the "Gadget of the Week: "For a field already glutted with gadgets, the Nike+iPod kit is the most elegant of high-tech runner's aids." The mini-review notes that the kit (unfortunately) requires users to purchase Nike shoes--though as MacNN reported recently, the kit can be used with almost any shoe. Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal is also pleased with product, but said "We hope this product can improve in the future to do other things like distinguishing walks from runs, automatically triggering your PowerSong when you slow down..." Mossberg also suggested incorporating a heart-rate monitor in a later version.
Apple's future looks bright enough for a second half stock rally and has led research firm UBS to raise its earnings estimates. The company's stock, boosted by a Merrill upgrade and a revised outlook by UBS, is up nearly $7 (12.8%) in pre-market trading. UBS raised its EPS estimates to reflect improved product mix and higher margins. The company now expects $0.49 earnings per share (was $0.47) for the September quarter based on revenues of $4.63 billion, representing 26 percent year-over-year growth. Analyst Benjamin Reitzes also raised the firms fiscal year 2006 estimate to $2.14 (was $2.00) with revenue of $19.1 billion, representing year-over-year growth of 37 percent. UBS also adjusted its fiscal year 2007 estimates up to $2.65 (was $2.55) based on increased revenues of $23.7 bilion (up 24% over 2006). Despite the adjustments, Reitzes still believes that his estimates may be conservative.
SQLiteManager 2.1 ($40) allows users manages SQLite databases in OS X with a "next generation" GUI. Version 2.1 adds enhanced "Instant Query" technology, improved CSB and Custom imports, and several bug fixes. Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later is required to rune SQLiteManager; this update is free to those running SQLiteManager 2.0 or later. [Download - 5.5MB] LogOutScreenSaver 3.1 ($5) is a utility which will automatically log a user out after a time which the user selects. This updater corrects a bug which caused the installer to fail, addresses a bug which cause the preview to fail with certain font selection, and tweaked the code to improve performance and optimization. LogOutScreenSaver requires Mac OS X 10.2.3 or later. [Download - 1.5MB] Typinator 1.3 ($20) allows users to create short hand typing sets which are dynamically changed into longer words, phrases, or images. The update adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, improved support for languages, X11 application compatibility, enhanced expansions support, and new keyboard shortcut creation. In order to run Typinator, users are required to have Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 814KB] CNS Menu 1.0.6 ($65) is FileMaker Pro plug-in which allows users to place a menu anywhere on a FileMaker layout and then script the items. Version 1.0.6 adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary and adds FailDB and FailScript parameters to menus allowing a script to be performed if a user selects nothing. Mac OS X 10.2 (System requirements were not available). [Download - 2.9MB] Sandvox 1.0.3 ($80) is a website creation tool that allows user to drag and drop elements without any need for coding. This update adds new international language localizations (Chinese, Danish, Japanese), improved special effects, and enhanced support for movie page. Sandvox requires Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later. [Download - 19.5MB]
Red Marble Games today announced Democracy, an engaging new political simulation game: "When you start the game, you've just been elected President or Prime Minister. You can change dozens of policies, ranging from taxes to smoking laws to environmental subsidies and more. You can take your country in any direction you like -- liberal, conservative, socialist, fascist, whatever your pleasure -- but you've got to be reelected! Democracy's sophisticated neural networks track the reaction of almost two dozen voter groups, including farmers, drinkers, parents, and more, to the policies you choose. If you lose the support of the electorate, you lose the game!" A 10MB demo includes a tutorial to walk players through the interface, and allows play as Prime Minister of the UK. The full version also allows play as the chief executives of the U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Sweden, China, and six others, and saves games in progress. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and is available for $23.
On the heels of its second best quarter ever and record Mac sales, Merrill Lynch has upgraded Apple stock from a 'neutral' to a 'buy' and raised its price target to $72--in part based on the company's tacit acknowledgement of plans for an iPhone in Wednesday's conference call. Analyst Richard Farmer of Merrill said that he has increased confidence in Mac share gains and that his number one concern of slowing iPod sales is waning as monthly growth rates are stabilizing. Apple yesterday announced it had sold 8.1 million iPods, despite concerns of slowing sales by other analysts and saw its US marketshare increase by 16 percent in the second quarter to 4.8 percent as well as said that its surging laptop marketshare reached 12 percent in June, nearly double that of January, according to IDC numbers. Farmer also noted that despite pending action from the SEC and federal investigations, Apple may not be materially affected by the previously announced stock option irregularities.
Forums roundup: Members discuss ways to treat minor scratches on the MacBook.... Owners of the Nike+iPod kit share their experiences with the device and are posting their own reviews of the product.... One user claims to have gone through tweleve replacement MacBooks without finding a single one that is of good enough quality.... Users are discussing the best monitors and methods to create a
SanDisk this week introduced its SanDisk Extreme IV line of CompactFlash digital media cards--which it calls the "world's fastest"--as well as debuted new high-capacity 4GB SD digital media. The Extreme IV cards, designed for professional photographers who require high-performance for medium format and high-end digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, are available in capacities of up to 8GB; they deliver minimum read and write speeds of 40MB/sec, which the company claims are the fastest flash memory cards in the world. SanDisk also introduced its new SanDisk Extreme FireWire reader that can transfer images from the SanDisk Extreme IV cards to a computer at up to 40MB/sec. The cards are available in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacities for $160, $320, and $640.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Apple expands CloudKit API, provides web interface
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only. http://apple.co/20h1RwP
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