Apple's global brand value grew by almost 14 percent over the past year, according to a BusinessWeek survey of brands. Google, Starbucks, Motorola, and eBay are among this year's top gainers in BusinessWeek's annual ranking of The Best Global Brands, while Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE, and Intel were among top five brands, respectively. Apple was No. 39 on the list with a brand value of $9.13 billion, about 14 percent ahead of the value reported in last year's survey in which it ranked No. 41. Coca-Cola was No. 1 brand on the list with a value of $67 billion; Microsoft was ranked No. 2 with an estimated $60 billion brand value; and IBM was No. 3 with a brand value of $56.2 billion. All of the top 5 companies were US-based companies, companies such as Nokia (No. 6, Finland), Toyota (No. 7, Japan), and Mercedes (No. 10, Germany) were only international companies among the top 10. Google's value surged almost 46 percent to $12.4 billion, landing it at the No. 24 spot.
SteerMouse 3.4 ($20) is a driver for USB and Bluetooth mice, including many that are not supported by default in Mac OS X. The driver features the ability to assign a variety of functions to buttons, supporting Logitech's G7, G5, MX610, and MediaPlay; Microsoft's Bluetooth Intellimouse; Razer's Copperhead and Diamondback; and Apple's new Wireless Mighty Mouse. SteerMouse requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later. [Download - 1.3MB] Todos 1.5 (free) offers users a floating dock containing applications that appear with a customizable keystroke. Version 1.5 adds the ability to open multiple applications without the dock disappearing between launches, supports the removal of applications from the display, includes better support for window transparency, and adds larger icons with enhanced text support. Todos requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 769KB] SimpleChord 4.0 ($15) allows users to arrange musical pieces by looking up chords and arranging them into progressions. The update offers more cords, a new interface, better MIDI file exporting, the ability to loop playback, a new cord info palette, and the ability to import ChordPro files. SimpleChord 4.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 3.1MB] kSpectra 2.2 ($160) performs advanced spectral analysis of univariate or multivariate time series arising. The update adds the ability to fill gaps to improve uneven data handling, enhances Automator support, includes improved help files as well as example projects, and provides alphabetical data pop-up menus. kSpectra 2.2 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 35.9MB] Vvidget 10.4.37 ($200) creates charts and graphs with a point-and-click interface, and features wizards to help beginners adjust to the environment. The update adds an administration tool to stop the graphing server from running continuously, an uninstaller, several bug fixes, and the addition of Vvizard support. Vvidget requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 13.6MB]
A Microsoft executive today said that the software giant's recently announced Zune player will result in one product this year, but will cost "hundreds of millions of dollars" in research development. The company expects to lose money in the near-term as it builds out its services and debuts new, innovative devices. Microsoft will start by selling the "Zune" player this year, expanding on that launch with a new product line by the next calendar year, "as well as broadening the product lines over time," according to the Wall Street Journal. Microsoft last week confirmed that it is in fact developing a portable media player to compete with Apple's market leading iPod, possibly to the chagrin of various Microsoft partners. [updated]
As iPod usage continues to rise, many educational institutions are turning to Apple's iTunes U course management system to make content freely available to the public. Duke University has released a report on the school's Duke Digital Initiative (DDI), choosing to continue the program. "Given the interest in technology innovation expressed by students and faculty and the now established uses of portable, personal digital media devices in courses, the university will continue the Duke Digital Initiative in the 2006-07 academic year," the report said.
Daystar Technology today introduced the new XLR8 CPU upgrade for Apple's Titanium PowerBook G4 series, delivering up to 100 percent improved performance for owners of most classic Titanium systems. Users desiring the factory-installed upgrade need only place their PowerBook in a provided box. Daystar handles shipping, and ensures that installation as well as testing is performed by Apple Certified Technicians. "The CPU is the primary bottleneck on a PowerBook G4. To maximize speed and compatibility, Daystar uses the latest model, highest rated Freescale PowerPC CPUs. It runs transparent to the operating system and is fully compatible with future OS's. The result is a system with much faster processing power, and improved performance in the Finder and every application." Daystar XLR8 CPU upgrades are priced at $450, and require Mac OS X 10.3.5 or later.
PhotoVu today announced PhotoVu frame compatibility with the latest beta Picasa software. The PhotoVu frame supports direct downloading of photos from Picasa Web Albums using RSS, allowing users to easily share and publish photos. PhotoVu digital picture frames require no additional image manipulation or software installation. Users can display digital photos or other digital signage content stored on any Mac system, Windows system, or RSS-enabled photo sharing website. Optional 60GB USB removable hard drives and 2GB USB key drives are also available for stand-alone operation, and all features as well as operations, including displaying photo collections organized by Picasa or Apple iPhoto photo management software, are controlled remotely from any computer's Web browser on the network. Wireless 17-inch digital picture frames start from $700.
Memorex has unveiled the iFlip, its new portable video player for fifth-generation iPod owners that features an 8.4-inch LCD. The iFlip integrates speakers, a tilting iPod dock, and a lithium-ion battery to power the screen and speakers, according to iLounge. The device enables users to watch videos stored on their iPod with the larger color screen, and supports audio-only playback via the built-in speakers. iFlip ports include S-video out, line out, and dual headphone jacks. An on-screen menu allows users to adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness, color, and screen mode, according to the report. Video and music are still navigated via the iPod, and the screen boasts a resolution of 480 x 234, offering up to five hours of playback time. The iFlip is expected to ship in mid-September for $200 in black or white with an optional carrying case.
Intel today rolled out its Core 2 Duo processor with 10 new dual-core chips boasting higher performance and improved energy efficiency, according to Computerworld. Apple is expected to adopt the 64-bit chips, which queitly shipped late last week ahead of schedule, in the company's next generation of notebooks and entry-level desktop systems. Meanwhile, Intel's recently-announced Xeon 5100 series processor -- code-named "Woodcrest" -- is rumored as the chosen chip for Apple's forthcoming Mac workstations, which are expected to debut at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco in mid-August. Intel this month also announced plans to release its Kentsfield (Desktop) and Clovertown (Server/Workstation) quad-core chips as early as the fourth quarter of this year.
Microsoft is trying to convince computer makers to adopt a new style of PC design that accents its Windows Vista operating system. The company has hand-delivered how-to kits depicting "accelerated curves" as well as "purposeful contrast," featuring preferred colors of "Obsidian" black and "Ice" white. "We want people to fall in love with their PCs, not to simply use them to be productive and successful," the enclosed booklet reads. "We want PCs to be objects of pure desire." A team of 20 in-house designers has been quietly working for the past 18 months on a new look for PCs that will run Windows Vista, according to BusinessWeek online.
Realviz has announced plans to launch Movimento, a entirely new product, at SIGGRAPH 2006. Movimento is a video-based motion capture solution powered by Realviz's 3D tracking engine SMART. Movimento features the ability to capture the motion of any non-rigid object from multiple image sequence as well as support for facial, hand, arm, and full-body captures. The application can be used in a variety of different applications, from sports science to engineering to special effects, according to Realviz. Movimento also supports non-static camera shots, including moving shots or complex environment captures, automatically creating 3D meshes from tracked data. A minimum of two cameras, moving or fixed, recording any frame rate or video size is required to capture data. It offers export of motion capture data to Autodesk MotionBuilder, 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage|XSI and custom export via Python, Perl, and TCL/TK scripting. Currently Movimento is available for Windows only ($20,000 software only), howerver a Mac version will be released later this year.
LANrev LP today released LANrev 3.1, updating its software for automating labor-intensive IT tasks such as software distribution and end point management. The latest iteration adds several new features which include "smart" distribution groups, bandwidth throttling, and additional systems management. LANrev 3.1 further enhances the company's LANrev ImageLive technology, allowing administrators to deploy complete disk images to remote Macs while the systems are in use. Additional features include improved license reporting, as well as multiple performance enhancements. The LANrev 3.1 client requires Mac OS X 10.2.8, while the admin and server versions require Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Kazaa has reached a settlement with four major record labels paying out $100 million for enabling the illegal exchange of files through its technology file sharing network. Macworld UK reports that Sharman Networks, owner of the Kazaa service, will have to pay out the money to the four major labels -- it unknown is whether or not the independent labels will receive any money despite accounting for a fifth of the entire music market. David Munns vice chairman of EMI Music believes that the settlement is "a big step forward in the development of a vibrant, legitimate digital music marketplace." This was not the first of Kazaa's troubles as last year it lost a landmark case, where it was ruled that Kazaa operators were guilty of authorizing widespread copyright infringement, before the Federal Court of Australia. In addition, Kazaa will begin filtering content to remove copyrighted material immediately as part of the agreement and may also put in place a legal model of distributions.
Software Studio today released iYoga, offering a virtual instructor for the personal creation of timed, voice-synthesized yoga classes and other exercise sessions. iYoga is a specialized word processor with synthesized speech and timing capability, allowing users to create classes by typing text to describe an asana or yoga position while including a duration specified in seconds, minutes, or breaths. iYoga times each asana, playing a chime of the user's choice at the end of each pose. iYoga is priced at $35, and runs natively on Intel Macs as a Universal Binary (specific system requirements were unavailable).
OmniPilot Software has announced its participation at this year's FileMaker Developers Conference, where the company plans to demonstrate the capabilities of Lasso 8.5 with FileMaker 8 support. OmniPilot plans to discuss Lasso's back-end support for FileMaker 8.5 Web Viewers, AJAX, and Web 2.0 techniques. The company will also include a free copy of Lasso Developer 8.5 as part of FileMaker's DevCon Resource CD that will be given away during the conference. The live presentation will illustrate how LP 8.5 natively supports FileMaker, LDAP, JDBC, Openbase, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQLite, MySQL, ODBC, and Microsoft SQL Server.
iSlayer has released a milestone upgrade to iStat Pro, its computer statistics monitor for Mac OS X. iStat Pro 3.0 updates the company's line of stat tracking widgets. Version 3.0 features four skins with fully anti-aliased graphs, full control over what statistics and devices are displayed, the re-addition of "Processes" (removed in release 2.x), and a new icon to match the new skins. iStat Pro is free to use (donations accepted). The software requires a high-resolution screen, while iStat Nano is designed for lower resolution screens. iState Pro requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.2MB]
Plantronics today has debuted its next-generation Discovery and Explorer line of Bluetooth headsets. At a recent event called "Body & Form" hosted by Plantronics in New York, the company revealed plans its plans for ergonomic headsets, including the Discovery 655 and 640E as well as the Explorer 330, 340, and 350 headsets. Each headset features an extension of previous version designs with refinements to improve comfort, ergonomics, and functionality. The Discovery 655 ($150), Discovery 640E ($120), Explorer 340 ($80) and Explorer 350 ($90) will also be available this August via Plantronics.com and later this fall will arrive in retail locations, while the Explorer 330 ($80) will be available in the fall.
Toon Boom Animation today released Toon Boom Storyboard, its digital story boarding application for 2D animation, 3D animation and live action, The software provides a flexible layer-based panel display with motion camera capabilities, omplete set of drawing tools, including pressure-sensitive brush tool when using a digital graphic tablet and pen as well as customizable caption fields to insert fully searchable textual content, such as scene descriptions and comments. Toon Boom Storyboard also features an advanced timeline to control timing and automatically generate an animatic with sound tracks and transitions between shots, real-time animatic creation with dynamic camera moves, and extensive export functions, including printing, image sequences, and Harmony/Opus/Solo, EDL, SWF and QuickTime file formatting. Storyboard includes a complete set of templates, including characters, backgrounds, props, effects and symbols to get users started quickly. It is available now for $900.
Realviz today confirmed that its photo-based software is compatible with Google Earth, allowing users to directly export panoramas, 3D models, virtual tours, and other photo-realistic material created with Realviz applications. Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps, and Google Search capability to offer users quick, easy viewing of locations around the globe. The Realviz suite of tools enables users to observe the world from the ground level by using Stitcher, ImageModeler, and VTour to simulate what a person would see in real life. Stitcher 5.5 is available in three distinct versions, all of which include Google Earth export capability from $120. ImageModeler 4.1 is slated for shipment in September, and is priced at $850. VTour 1.1 will be available for Mac in the fall of 2006 for $580.
Apple and E! Entertainment today announced that programs from E! are available for purchase from the iTunes Music Store. New weekly episodes of the second season of hit series "The Girls Next Door," "The Soup," the new season of "Dr. 90210," as well as new episodes of "The Simple Life: 'Til Death Do Us Part" starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie will be available the day after broadcast for purchase and download for $1.99 per episode. "We're thrilled to expand our growing video catalog with this original content from E! Entertainment Television," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes. "With over 35 million videos sold, iTunes provides the best way for fans to discover, purchase and download video online." [updated]
Wrappers has launched a range of peach skin linen sleeves for Apple's MacBook featuring minimal branding. Wrappers sleeves contain three layers -- an outer peach skin finish, a padded middle layer, and a navy blue interior made with non-scratching microfiber. The sleeves are machine washable, and optionally feature a customized initial. Wrappers offers the covers in five colors which include pink, white, blue, raspberry, and "oatmeal." The sleeves also offer a unique no-Velcro or zipper sealing method created via tailoring techniques. The UK-based company requires 5-10 days to ship to the US, with 3-5 more days if the sleeve is personalized. Each sleeve is priced at $30.
Following its highest quarterly revenue through our U.S. education channel in over 10 years, the company appears to be aggressively marketing on college campuses. The Emory Whell, the student newspaper at Emory University, reports that Apple is making a large effort to reach university and college students. The student newspaper has planned to open kiosks around its campus, which will be sponsored by Apple. "While I cannot comment on behalf of Apple, targeted marketing campaigns such as this appear representative of the company's larger efforts to effectively communicate the value proposition of its products to the higher education market," one representative told MacNN. Recently Apple has offered special deals to students through the Apple educational discount store as well its free iPod nano offer--via mail-in rebate--with the purchase of any Mac.
Several veteran game developers have come together to form a new company called Tricky Software. The company has created a new, cross-platform game engine that will be used for its first game: Armado is an arcade-style game follows Armado, an Armadillo, in a quest through a world filled with dense forests and volcanic mountains. Along the way, resistance will pop up and require the player to take action quickly or they may not survive. Tricky has tried to make this game viable for almost any age assuring that "there's something for everyone." The developers are looking for any feedback from the limited material available online. Mac OS X 10.2 or later running on a Power Mac G4 or better (including Intel-based Macs) is required. Armado is scheduled for release this October.
Zevrix Solutions has released BatchOutput 2.0, updating the application that automates printing, export to PDF, and saving to PostScript of multiple InDesign documents. The latest iteration of the software enables users to change file names in the printer queue, can send files to a printer as single pages, and can save to PostScript files as one file or single pages. The application can output using InDesign Print or Export to PDF presets, export multi-page InDesign documents as single page PDF or PostScript files, supports variable file names, and can output using current document print/export settings. BatchOutput 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4.2 or later, and is priced at $50.
SecuriKey has launched the new multi-user edition of its encryption-based USB security key system. SecuriKey Professional Multi-User locks down laptops in groups, boasting speedy deployment with strength of protection and ease of use. Combining a password and an "ignition key" for the computers, SecuriKey requires almost no training, according to the company. SecuriKey Professional Multi-User is designed to provide meaningful administrative control without the IT complexities of back end infrastructure. SecuriKey Professional Multi-User is available worldwide, requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later (pricing was unavailable)
Following Roxio's announcement of Toast 7 with Blu-ray Disc support, MacNN spoke with Adam Fingerman, Director of Product Management at Roxio, a division of Sonic Solutions, about its popular Toast application, and burning to high-density discs. There are two competing standards for the new generation of digital optical media that can hold large amounts of data: HD-DVD and Blu-ray are different implementations of similar technology that uses a 405nm wavelength blue laser, as compared to DVDs that use a 650nm wavelength red laser and CDs that use an infrared 780nm laser. The optics are different and incompatible though. A Blu-ray disc holds more data (25 GB-single layer and 50 GB-dual layer) than HD-DVD (15 GB-single layer and 30 GB-dual layer). Blu-ray media is also more expensive to produce. [corrected]
Now AAPL Stock: 94.02 ( -2.58 )
Apple brings iTunes Movie Trailers app to Canada
After five years, Apple has expanded its iTunes Movie Trailers app for iOS to Canada. As of Saturday, the free app allows movie buffs to see HD movie trailers for new studio and independent features, and explore some other movie-related extras such as photos, behind-the-scenes footage, or clips from upcoming films. Users can save trailers for quick access, read reviews from RottenTomatoes.com within the app, use AirPlay to send them to an Apple TV, share trailers, and peruse the top movie charts. http://apple.co/1UUKtwr
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