Apple today released AirPort Update 2006-002, an update to its software for wireless connectivity, for its new Core 2 Duo-based laptops, including the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros and the 13-inch MacBook. Apple only said that the 1.3MB update, available via the Software Update and via the Web, improves AirPort compatibility with the aforementioned computers. The download requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later. Separately, Apple earlier this week released an Aperture 1.5.2 update, while Microsoft accidently posted a pre-release of its Office v11.3.1 update, but later pulled it, acknowledging that it was leaked to the public prematurely.
Apple stock on Wednesday rose by nearly $3 to close just above $89, after Morgan Stanley's Rebecca Runkle lifted her price target on the stock from $90 to $110 and raised her 2007 earnings outlook to $3.13 a share from $2.58. Marketwatch reports that Runkle said she anticipates Apple shares trading even higher in 2007 after appreciating almost 20 percent this year. Runkle's optimism, the report said, was based on new products that are expected for next year, including an expanded product portfolio and market-share gains will boost the stock in the coming 12 months. Apple's pre-announced iTV consumer device for streaming video to televisions, a rumored iPhone and perhas an Apple-branded wireless service are among the projected products that Apple is expected to introduce in 2007. "New products introduced in January and less exposure to Microsoft's Vista OS launch could help reduce seasonal risk to Apple's shares," Runkle wrote in a research note obtained by the publication.
In brief: A recent study showed that one-third of teens in 2006 reported owning an iPod, up from only 1 percent in 2003.... The Fast Icon has released a new set of freeware icons titled 'Santa Claus Hat' (one icon shown at right) containing five icons to provide a festive look to the Mac desktop.... Mackiev.com has posted its annual Holiday Template Collection, offering professionally-designed cards for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and 'Seasons Greetings".... SmartSound is reminding Mac users that the company is halfway through its '25 days 25 percent off' sale, noting that users who already own Sonicfire Pro 3 can save an extra $50 on their next purchase of any Sonicfire Pro 4 package.... The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) has announced that Bruce Fraser -- a best-selling author and Adobe Photoshop expert -- has been named as the recipient of the first NAPP Lifetime Achievement Award.... MacSpeech today announced that it has certified Apple's video iPod as well as three microphone attachments for transcribing recorded speech to text.
Japanese firm Hagiwara today revealed its new ExpressCard Flash Memory cards, making use of the more recent ExpressCard/34 standard to eliminate the transfer rate bottlenecks that many plague USB and PC Card adapters. Using a faster single-level cell flash memory, host systems can read the card at 35MB per second and write to the media 22MB per second, comparing more closely with portable hard drives, according to Electronista. The card's extra speed is beneficial to both Apple's MacBook Pro and Windows PCs but is especially useful for the upcoming Windows Vista, according to Hagiwara.
Gamila and Pacific Design have launched the Mila Bikini Skin Collection, a set of cases designed for all generations and sizes of Apple's iPod nano and video iPod models. The skins are made from translucent polyurethane, and feature a "connection point" system allowing them to attach to other objects. The bottom of the skins are usable as an improvised stand for resting a player upright to watch videos or view photos without holding the iPod for viewers. Each case ships with a lanyard cord, as well as a removable earbud reel. The Nano skin is available in "frost white" or "mango orange" while the video iPod skin ships in white or "frost blue" for $20.
Analysis of monthly NPD data by research firm Piper Jaffray for the first two months of Apple's December quarter suggests that the company is on track to sell 15.5-16 million iPods, well short of the 17 million figure (US sales only) estimated by CNBC earlier this week. "We believe the launch of the shuffle on 11/3 had a material positive impact on NPD data for the second month of the quarter," wrote Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster in a research note obtained by MacNN. "Based on our checks with Apple resellers and NPD data, we continue to expect Apple will report slight upside for the December quarter." Munster notes however that his 15.5-16 million unit range is based on various assumptions, and is an extrapolation of two months of data whicih should be supplemented with further information.
The 80GB GStor Plus drive promises near-instant hard drive restoration, reverting to an earlier drive image in approximately three seconds. Users also have the choice of two different run modes: Live Disk lets you make continuous changes to the system, adding files to backup with a few key presses, while RAM Disk restores an original backup image after every reboot. The latter is suggested for public computers such as those in college labs. Security-minded users will appreciate the 64-bit run-time encryption, as well as the option of 10 bootable partions, each with its own password and the ability to run a different operating system. Information on pricing and distribution for the Plus is unavailable, though GStor does ship to North America.
Apple is planning to launch its own MVNO service by purchasing wholesale capacity from Cingular Wireless in an effort to enter the domestic wireless services market, according to UBS analyst John Hodulik. "This strategy would appear to indicate Apple's increasing desire for customer control, and potentially, store traffic," Hodulik said. "We believe if volume had been the most important variable, Apple would work with all the major vendors in the U.S. to support its new iPod phone (iPhone), enabling it to target the heart of the 225 [million] domestic wireless users." Numerous hurdles exist for the Cupertino-based company if it is planning such a move, however, from competition from low-cost family plans already offered by other carriers to distribution troubles stemming from less retail outlets than other carriers such as Verizon and Cingular, according to a report from Barron's.
Green House today refreshed its Kana D music player range with a new 1GB model. The updated jukebox is unique in the feature-laden Japanese market by focusing on basics: it primarily gains a sleeker design and is safer for pockets, the company says. Music support is limited to MP3 or WMA but is bolstered by voice recording. Power is supplied relatively inexpensively by a single AA battery, which lasts for 7 hours by the company's estimates. Green House points out that its essentialist Kana D will cost only $52 after tax when it ships later this month.
SMART Technologies is planning to display its new 600i interactive whiteboard system at Macworld 2007 in San Francisco this coming January. The 600i -- which just began shipping -- combines SMART's 3000i whiteboard with a Unifi 35 projector, creating what the company describes as a "complete" presentation format. A connection panel feeds input from computers, DVD players, or miscellaneous video sources which enable users to draw and capture superimposed illustrations with special digital pens. The resulting files are compatible with Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems. The device features resolutions up to 1024x768 (XGA), 20W stereo speakers, and bundled software for conferencing, classroom management, or using the whiteboard as a digital sign; it is available now (pricing not available).
Reference design maker Siano on Wednesday said it would partner with Samsung to produce the tentatively-named SuwonExpress TV tuner (PDF). The receiver will be the first ExpressCard/54 adapter for laptops and should drastically shrink the amount of space consumed by these adapters, which are normally plugged into the USB port. It should equally deliver an extremely rare level of support for multiple over-the-air digital broadcast standards: Europe's DVB formats for handheld and terrestrial TV will accompany Korea's DMB and other protocols in a single card. More advanced users can also exploit the card's multi-signal handling. On a basic level, the card will allow picture-in-picture viewing; the card additionally serves as a DVR that can record one channel while the viewer watches another. No pricing or availability has been revealed for the SuwonExpress, but Siano says that the card will be demonstrated at CES 2007 in mid-January and thus paves the way for a North American launch when mobile digital TV is available on the continent.
In brief: Apple's iPhone may debut as soon as January 15th, according to a tip received by AOL's Blogging Stocks, which would contradict analyst expectations that the phone might launch as late as the second quarter of 2007.... The Microsoft Security Response Center has admitted to mistakenly posting pre-release binaries of an Office v11.3.1 update, noted earlier, that were staged internally as part of the company's testing for an upcoming release.... AMD is launching two additional dual-core processors as part of its Athlon 64 X2 5400+ and 5600+ to original equipment manufacturers.... Apple has posted a story about Tricky Software's new game titled 'Armado,' allowing players to fill the role of one armadillo who must rescue the queen of the eagles.... EightySevenFour has posted a Mac OS X Virus Survival Guide, describing how to prepare and what to do when a virus for Mac OS X is released in the wild.... Sun has released Java Platform Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6), signaling Sun's first community release of the object-oriented development language.
Japan's Hagiwara today said it had taken a new approach to flash storage with its new ExpressCard< Flash Memory cards. The use of the more recent ExpressCard/34 standard eliminates the transfer rate bottlenecks that plague USB and PC Card adapters, Hagiwara claims. In combination with the use of faster single-level cell flash memory, the card can be read at 35MB per second and written to at 22MB per second and compares more closely with portable hard drives. The card's extra speed is beneficial to both Apple's MacBook Pro and Windows PCs but is especially useful for the upcoming Windows Vista, the company says. When plugged in to a system running the future OS, the ExpressCard functions as an exceptionally quick ReadyBoost cache that helps program load and response times by offloading work from the hard drive. Hagiwara is set to release the card well in advance of Vista with 1GB ($68) and 2GB ($126) models available today, while 4GB ($237) and 8GB ($450) capacities ship on December 20th.
Cellphone maker Sony-Ericsson today demonstrated a prototype phone that will likely represent the company's design future. The handset introduces technologies that keeps the phone slim without compromising its safety or its strengths. Instead of lighting the number pad with LEDs that add bulk and potentially consume large amounts of power, the concept uses thinner and more efficient OLEDs. This also lets the company use touch-sensitive buttons that further reduce the needed thickness. Protection for the keys is provided by a sliding cover plate. Even with these features, Sony-Ericsson claims features associated with its much thicker contemporary designs. The cellphone partnership says its concept integrates a 3.2-megapixel camera inspired by the CyberShot line, signalling the concept as an equivalent to the existing K790. The company has not committed to formal production of the concept but promises that its influence will be felt in the near future. Additional photos follow after the jump. [Via Ubergizmo]
Digidesign today announced that Avid Mojo SDI video interface now provides extensive Avid video integration with Digidesign Pro Tools|HD systems and is available through authorized Digidesign Pro Dealers. Avid Mojo SDI allows Pro Tools users to bring projects from any of the leading video-editing systems (including Avid Xpress and Avid Media Composer) directly into their Pro Tools HD sessions. With Avid Mojo SDI, Pro Tools users can open OMF, AAF, or MXF files created on any Avid Xpress or Media Composer system in Pro Tools and get sample-accurate playback of all standard-definition Avid video and frame edge-aligned playback of most standard-definition and high-definition QuickTime video. Avid Mojo SDI integrates with qualified Windows XP- and PowerPC Mac-based Pro Tools|HD systems running the recently released Pro Tools HD 7.3 software, but is not yet compatible with Intel-based Mac (although future support is planned). Avid Mojo SDI is available for $2,500.
IOPS has just shipped its compact BlueQ media player to the US. One of the only players with Bluetooth in the country, the BlueQ can transmit its audio wirelessly to headphones and speakers that fit the A2DP Bluetooth profile. The company also boasts of the BlueQ's blend of battery life with display quality: in spite of its small frame, the player can play music for as much as 33 consecutive hours even though it uses a higher-quality, 1.8-inch LCD in place of a less expensive but potentially more efficient OLED screen. Media playback is diverse with support for MP3 and OGG audio, MPEG-4 and AVI video, as well as JPEG photos and a host of Windows Media music and movie standards. FM radio is built-in. IOPS sells the Korean-made player in the US with 4GB of flash storage for $249 at normal pricing, though says it will sell the player for $189 until the end of the year.
Mayflower Designs today introduced its Chicago line of TV-oriented furniture. Both the Chicago Bed and the Chicago Cabinet (pictured) depend on a hidden door mechanism that lifts an LCD or other flat-panel TV mounted inside the furniture. The system is useful for space-conscious viewers or those who prefer to keep their TV out of sight, Mayflower says; since the system closes over the TV completely after it retracts, it also prevents damage or theft of the frequently valuable electronics. The cabinet holds room for DVD players and other peripherals. Available today, pricing can vary for either Chicago piece as each can be custom-ordered with different materials and sizes.
Photoco's PhotoShare7 is a digital picture frame that's also engineered to be a portable album, being encased in plastic and measuring just eight inches long and 0.9 inches thick. Instead of built-in storage, the PhotoShare has slots for a Memory Stick and an SD card. The unit tucks into an included conventional frame to appear more presentable and can connect to a TV for larger images. It should be noted though that resolution on the unit's seven-inch screen is limited to 480x234, and the frame is not portable unless you buy the optional lithium-ion battery. The package comes with an AC adapter. J&R is selling the PhotoShare7 for $95. [Via Chip Chick]
Money 2.1 ($40) is a new version of its personal and small business financial management application for Mac OS X. Version 2.1 features WebKit-powered WebBank, an ability to view online banking and other financial websites from within the application; it also automatically downloads and imports online transactions to selected Money accounts. The update also features improved reconciliation, allowing each transaction to have three states: uncleared, cleared and reconciled. It runs on Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 3MB] Redline 1.0.2 ($25) updates Ambrosia's popular online racing game, offering additional custom tracks and cars for you to download. It feature the ability to add user-configurable dead zone for analog controllers, adds new parameters for plug-in cars to change engine friction and tire model parameters, the ability to play games with more then 32 laps, automatic switch to Window mode when necessary, and more. It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 185MB] Media Indexer 2.0 ($13) indexes numerous types of media such as CDs, DVDs, and hard drives. The application features a search engine, ID3 support, support for multiple indexes, Spotlight integration, catalogs similar to iTunes playlists, and more. Version 2.0 brings HTML export, multi-core optimization, reduced index size, and some other smaller improvements. Previous users can upgrade for $5. [Download - 1.6MB] PasswordVault v5.2 ($15) is an enterprise-level password manager for Windows, Mac OS X (Universal Binary), Mac OS Classic and Linux (i86). The update offers a selection of button graphic styles, increased web form auto-fill speed, improved Quick Start information, and more. It also features Web auto-fill (two-click logins), 896-bit encryption, Master Password Recovery System (MPRS), random password generator, auto-lock timer (with clipboard clear), import/export functions (for easy backup and transfer), masked passwords. [Download - 11MB] 24U Virtual User Plug-In 1.0 ($50) allows users to simulate usual user actions (such as mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes), run scripts, and record and replay all actions. It can be used to add easy-to-use macro recording and playback functionality to FileMaker solutions or can be used for automated user testing of software. It runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs and works with FileMaker 7.0/8.0/8.5. Additional licenses are $25. [Download - 2.3MB] Typinator 1.6 ($20) introduces a new "Whole Word" option for auto-correcting typos, expanding text and inserting graphics across any Mac OS X application. It also adds a new French-localized version (in addition to English and German). Typinator works across all applications to detect specific sequences of typed characters and automatically replace them with text, graphics, URLs, dates and special characters. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9. [Download - 1.2MB]/ul>
The Detroit Pistons have begun offering the Pistons MP3 Player as part of a charity drive, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Apple's first-generation iPod shuffle. The screenless player features similar controls but substantially different internal mechanics, according to Electronista, playing only MP3 and WMA songs without support for Apple's FairPlay DRM-protected tracks purchased from the iTunes Music Store. Internal storage is limited to 128MB of flash memory, but the basketball team promises both a low price and a charitable contribution for players sold. Each player costs $25 and makes a donation to the Detroit Medical Center's breast cancer prevention program, while purchasing five of the players obtains another sixth player for free.
The internationally dominant VoIP provider Skype today announced that it would begin charging for its SkypeOut phone service. The feature, which lets Skype account holders call real-world phone numbers from online, has been free since May for North American Skype users but will now cost $30 per year, providing both unlimited calling within the continent as well as an hour of international calling. International calls will be an average of 2.1 cents per minute depending on the region and whether the recipient is using a landline or mobile phone. Strictly online calls willl continue to be free, Skype said. The news comes in the wake of many recently announcd Skype phones, which aim to completely replace analog phone service by replicating Skype's normally computer-only functions on the devices themselves.
Terratec today began shipping its iPod-compatible NOXON iRadio, an internet-connected audio device as an all-in-one upgrade to the earlier NOXON 2 that features its own speaker. The NOXON iRadio's extra size makes room for more direct controls, according to Electronista, including quick-access presets and a rotary knob for smoother navigation. The updated device expands format support since the NOXON 2's release with unprotected AAC and OGG audio streams to complement the existing MP3 and WMA playback. The new model also adds a clock, display magnification, and a sleep timer. Terratec maintains its cross-platform software and ships the iRadio with El Gato's eyeConnect streaming software for Mac OS X as well as TwonkyMusic for Windows users. The NOXON is priced at just over $300.
Shinza.com today began shipping its ZeroShock Sleeve designed for Apple's consumer-oriented MacBook and professional MacBook Pro laptops. The ZeroShock Sleeve is composed of high-resistance polyurethane foam to protect against external impacts. The case features dimpled foam construction to provide a high shock-absorption to weight ratio, according to Shinza.com, while the polyurethane exterior offer a durable and water resistant outer surface of protection. The case also includes an exterior pocket for cables, discs, paper, and other accessories. Both cases for the MacBook and MacBook Pro are available for $33 and $35, respectively.
UK communications company BT today said it will soon broadcast what it says is the first truly participatory TV show. Named Accidental Lovers, the comedy will be the first to accept changes to the plot even while the show airs. The feat has been accomplished by means of a tagging system similar to that used by many websites, BT says: shows are broken into individual sections tagged with relevant information that flags a scene for play depending on its popularity with the audience. The system not only eases the burden on the show producers but also allows the host network to air a different version of an episode each time. In its current version, the scene choices are voted in by SMS text messages and are broadcast along with viewer comments on a conventional TV channel. However, BT notes that the system is ultimately built for IPTV networks and could result in programming where virtually every aspect of a program could be decided by the audience. Accidental Lovers will debut on Finnish TV beginning December 27th.
The Omni Group has announced the final release of OmniPlan 1.0, a new software solution designed to create logical, manageable project planning documents. With OmniPlan, users can break down tasks, optimize the resources needed for any project, control various costs, and monitor the entire project at a glance. OmniPlan features include easy task entry, in-depth resource management, a scheduling system for tasks and resources, visual timelines (Gantt charts), violation notifications and end-date reminders, critical path highlighting, and multiple options for sharing data. Documents created in Microsoft Project XML, MPX, or MPP formats can be opened by OmniPlan (with a few limitations), according to the company. OmniPlan can import CSV and OmniOutliner formats, and export information to Project XML and MPX, iCal, CSV, HTML, OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle, and a variety of image formats. It is available for $150 ($90 education) with a $60 rebate available for license-holders of PMX, FastTrack Schedule, Merlin, and ConceptDraw Project.
Taiwanese phonemaker HTC is preparing the Love, a PDA phone that places more emphasis on its media functions. Mobinaute observes that the display is a 2.8-inch touchscreen, and the Bluetooth 2.0 chip supports A2DP stereo and AVRCP remote control. The phone is also eqipped with an FM tuner, a two-megapixel camera, and a microSD slot with a bundled 512MB card. Music and videos can be downloaded through EDGE broadband, or retrieved locally through a MiniUSB port or 802.11b/g wireless. The Love's SD storage is supplemented by 128MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM. Most notable may be the phone's proprietary front-end, which layers over Windows Mobile 5.0 and takes advantage of the display by using a large visual interface. The product should ship in the first quarter of 2007.
Marmot today revealed the iGlove Multi, a set of winter gloves that overcomes the problem of controlling an iPod's touch-sensitive clickwheel through the material, negating the need for wearers to remove their protective gear to operate an iPod in freezing weather. Most winter gloves dull the responsiveness or negate it entirely when operating portable media players, but the tips of both the index finger and thumb on each iGlove are made of a proprietary Playpoint material that Marmot says increases contact with the wheel, allowing wearers to scroll through menus without exposing their hands to freezing temperatures, according to Electronista. The gloves also feature a silicon printing on the inside to steady the grip on the iPod, and are wearable beneath larger gloves due to their thin profile. MPairs of the iGlove Multi are priced at $35 in sizes from small to extra large.
Wal-Mart on Wednesday listed the Visco 32-inch LCD at its online store. The TV, which is available for $598 from the company, represents a significant milestone in LCD pricing, which has collapsed dramatically over the course of 2006 as manufacturing improvements and sheer volume have reduced the premium for each set. Visco's LCD matches the performance of many sets in its class regardless of its price, according to Wal-Mart. The 720p-capable set has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, an 8ms response time quick enough for games and movies, and an integrated ATSC tuner than can receive both analog and HD broadcasts. Wal-Mart is shipping the set today alongside an $800 37-inch model.
Research analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray believes that Mac market share will likely continue to grow in 2007 due to completion of the company's Intel transition, improved availability of Macs, an expanding footprint of Apple customers due to the iPod 'halo effect,' and the ability to run Microsoft Windows on a Mac. "Mac market share in Q3 was 2.8 percent and will likely be around 3.0 percent in Q4, which is up from 2.1 percent in Q1," Munster wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "Street estimates currently call for Mac market share in calendar year 2007 of 2.7 percent. If Mac market share grows at the same rate seen in calendar year 2006 (approximately 1.0 percent), we could see 4.0 percent by the end of calendar year 2007, with an average of 3.5 percent for the year." Were Apple to achieve 3.5 percent Mac market share in 2007, Wall Street earnings-per-share estimates would likely fall short of actual performance by $0.34, or around 11.6 percent.
Analysis of Apple's iTunes Music Store sales by research firm Piper Jaffray reveals strong growth year over year, contradicting recent reports that iTunes sales may be plummeting. "From January to September in 2005 Apple sold 10.4 million songs per week and in 2006 that number was up 78 percent to 18.5 million songs per week over the same 9-month period," said Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. Noting that iTunes sales usually peak after the holiday shopping season and decelerate slightly throughout the year, the analyst expects another strong upturn this January. "We continue to believe the shift to online distribution of media is in its infancy. We estimate 5 percent of worldwide music sales were online in 2006."
According to a tip received by AOL's Blogging Stocks, the Apple iPhone may debut as soon as January 15th, defying analyst expectations that it could launch as late as the second quarter of 2007. The date would also be shortly after the expected announcement of the product at MacWorld Expo, scheduled for January 9th to the 12th. Because MacWorld is such an important event for Apple, AOL speculates that this would give the iPhone a considerable launch buzz, which in turn could translate to improved stock performance. Apple's stocks have recently fallen out of the $90 range and currently sit at approximately $88.
IXOS today released its characteristic Disco Cube iPod speaker dock to stores. Its system charges, plays, and synchronizes any dockable iPod and lights all five visible surfaces in time with the music, creating the visual effect of its namesake. IXOS claims an audio quality advantage that stems from the available space of the cube shape: in addition to a 3W subwoofer that adds proper bass response, the 2W satellites are side-facing and produce a better stereo separation effect despite the unit's small size. A stereo minijack input is built-in to accept audio from generic sources. Debenhams is currently the sole reseller for the Disco Cube, which retails for £50 ($98) after tax.
A common problem of "barebones" cellphones is that when they often lose the styling cues of their more expensive brethen. Not so the R9 by Japanese company Willcom, writes Impress Watch. The phone has a sleek, minimalist candybar design, just 0.5 inches thick. And while it may have jettisoned camera, music and video functions, it still has a two-inch screen, and features support for e-mail and wireless Internet services. Buttons on the phone include a direction pad and quick navigation options. The R9 goes on sale in Japan December 14th in black and white colors, with gray and other choices a future possibility. Pricing plans are currently undisclosed.
Terratec is today shipping the NOXON iRadio, its latest Internet-connected audio device. The iRadio is an all-in-one upgrade to the earlier NOXON 2 and includes its own speaker to let owners listen to Internet radio without toting a separate speaker array. Its extra size also makes room for more direct controls, including quick-access presets and a rotary knob for smoother navigation. Format support has been expanded since the NOXON 2's release and now includes unprotected AAC and OGG audio streams to complement the existing MP3 and WMA playback. A clock, display magnification, and a sleep timer have also been added. Terratec maintains its cross-platform software and ships the iRadio with El Gato's eyeConnect streaming software for Mac OS X as well as TwonkyMusic for Windows users. The company sells its flagship NOXON for Ä229 ($303).
The new Navigator 380 mouse from Genius may not be the only mouse to include VoIP functions, but it is unique for its close integration with instant messenging services. Genius' software combines messages from several clients (AIM, MSN, QQ, Skype, Yahoo and GoogleTalk) into one window, and when a message is inbound, an LED light on the mouse and your PC's internal speaker will alert you. The 380 is a 1,200dpi optical mouse with three buttons plus a scrollwheel, and is only compatible with Windows XP, 2000, and Vista. It should be available at retailers around the world, with the notable exceptions of Canada and the United States.
BET Networks is making its TV programming available on Apple's iTunes Music Store for the first time, including its new crime docu-drama 'American Gangster.' BET shows available to iTunes customers include 'Countdown to Lockdown' with Lil Kim, 'Soul of a Man' with DMX, 'Beef: The Series,' BET Comic View, and 'The Christies: Committed' from BET's adult-targeted companion. The shows are available for $1.99 per episode, and represent the first wave of BET content to make its way to the iTunes Music Store. "We are delighted that BET programming is now available on iTunes as an important element in BET's global digital strategy," said BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra Lee. "As the world's most popular digital download store, iTunes is a key platform for serving our existing audience of African-American media super-consumers, and for introducing our breakthrough programming franchises to other audiences."
Pantech this morning launched the IM-U160, an update to the company's U series phones that focuses on video above all else. The slider design centers around a large 2.6-inch display the company says is bright and vivid enough for watching video. Accordingly, the U160 incorporates a tuner for Korea's DMB mobile TV and can play live broadcasts while other functions of the phone are being used. General pre-recorded video playback is equally a staple of the design and is aided by 184MB of internal memory and a microSD card slot. Other elements of the media-rich handset are a 2-megapixel camera, GPS route finding, MP3 music playback and an electronic dictionary. Pantech currently offers the phone in Korea through the cellular provider Sky. A profile photo is available after the jump.
In brief: The creators of Pulse -- the only software that makes a BlackBerry serve as a modem for Mac owners -- says RIM has crippled Bluetooth speeds (site down) in recent operating system upgrades.... Microsoft's security response center has confirmed a second zero-day vulnerability in Word, according to eWeek.com, and that the vulnerability is already being targeted by malicious users.... One blogger has posted a tribute to HyperCard, citing the many features of the intro-level programming software that made its debut in 1987 and brought customization to the fingertips of everyday users.... Other World Computing (OWC) has extended its offer of free exhibit hall guest passes for the Macworld Conference & Expo 2007.... A team of O'Reilly Media's best-selling authors is planning to kick off a week of "Ask The Experts" panel discussion on digital photography on January 7th.... Nova Media has released an Address Book phone plug-in that enables Address Book to work with 37 additional mobile phones from Sony Ericsson. [corrected]
Storage maker Verbatim this morning started shipping its color LightScribe CD-R discs. The company hopes to reduce the often monochromatic look of LightScribe technology, which uses the optical drive's laser to etch a label directly on a disc, by producing the discs themselves in bright colors: each pack of 25 ships with a mix of blue, green, orange, red, and yellow discs. Every CD is rated to burn at a full 52X speed. Spindles of Verbatim's latest discs are available today for $20.
The Detroit Pistons have begun offering the simply-titled Pistons MP3 Player as part of a charity drive. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Apple's first-generation iPod shuffle, the screenless player has similar controls but substantially different internal mechanics, playing only MP3 and WMA songs. Internal storage is limited to 128MB of flash memory; however, the basketball team promises both a low price and a charitable contribution. Each player costs $25 and makes a donation to the Detroit Medical Center's breast cancer prevention program, and purchasing five of the players obtains a sixth player for free.
BenQ on Wednesday previewed a series of new HDMI LCDs, including four upgraded models: the 19-inch FP94VW ($300), 22-inch FP222WH ($550), and the 24-inch FP241W Z ($1,300) and FP241VW ($1,500), will all come equipped with a single HDMI input each, allowing the connection of a PlayStation 3, HD-DVD player, or HDMI input. All four displays support HDCP video encryption, according to Electronista. The 19- and 22-inch models are the first displays in their size class to carry the feature, BenQ says, while the 24-inch models are successors to the current FP241W, though the company does not list the exact improvements. All of the models also support DVI and VGA input, offer a minimum 6ms gray-to-gray response time (reaching as low as 2ms for the 19-inch model) and feature the company's PerfectMotion anti-blur edge correction (all but the 22-inch model). The displays will be previewed this weekend at the CPL 2006 finals in Dallas and should be available early next year.
Apple is denying claims that sales at its iTunes store are "plummeting". The company called a recently published report by Forester "simply incorrect," after the company said that US sales fell 65 percent in the first half of 2006, according to the BBC. Apple, however, declined to provide any concrete iTunes sales figures. The report analyzed nearly 3,000 US iTunes debit/credit card purchases and found that the number of monthly transactions had declined 58 percent, while the average size per purchase had fallen 17 percent. Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular legal online music download store and has sold more than 1.5 billion songs and tens of millions of TV shows and movies. "Only Apple knows just how much profit there is at the end of the day on a $1.98 [£1] credit card transaction for two songs, but with transaction costs, hosting costs, and the wholesale price of the songs, there's not much margin left," said Forrester. In the its most recent quarter, Apple reported "above-break-even-profits" from iTunes music/video business.
The Mac BU on Tuesday quietly announced a Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.3.1 Update, which it says contains several updates to enhance security and stability, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of the computer's memory with malicious code. The software update can be used for Office 2004 Standard Edition, Office 2004 Student and Teacher Edition, Office 2004 Professional Edition, Word 2004, Excel 2004, PowerPoint 2004, Entourage 2004. The 13.7MB update is not yet available on Microsoft servers, but requires that the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.3.0 Update, released in early October, is installed.
Targeting the burgeoning gaming field, BenQ on Wednesday previewed a series of new multi-role LCDs. Four upgraded models, including the 19-inch FP94VW ($299), 22-inch FP222WH ($549), and the 24-inch FP241W Z ($1,299) and FP241VW ($1,499), will all come equipped with a single HDMI input each, allowing the connection of a PlayStation 3, HD DVD player, or any other source that would normally plug into an HDTV source. All four support HDCP video encryption. The 19- and 22-inch models are the first displays in their size class to carry the feature, BenQ says; the 24-inch models are successors to the current FP241W, though the company does not list the exact improvements of the larger screens upon their common predecessor and notes that they share the same component, RCA, and S-video inputs. Both these and the smaller screens support DVI and VGA input. BenQ adds that its new displays are fast enough for games, sporting a minimum 6ms gray-to-gray response time (reaching as low as 2ms for the 19-inch model) and using the company's PerfectMotion anti-blur edge correction in all but the 22-inch model. The displays will be previewed this weekend at the CPL 2006 finals in Dallas; shipping should begin early next year.
Alltel today introduced a partnership with Sharpcast to bring the latter's photo sharing service to its network. Subscribers with Windows Mobile smartphones from the cellular carrier, such as the Treo 700wx or UTStarcom PPC 6700, can sign up for an online account with Sharpcast that stores and synchronizes a photo collection as large as 5GB between a customer's cellphone and home computers: edited images on a home PC can automatically transfer to the phone through its mobile Internet connection, while photos taken from the phone will be available from the PC. Either device can see uploaded images from the Web and share them with outside viewers, Alltel says. The Sharpcast service is currently free for any Alltel subscriber with a compatible phone, though the carrier notes that the technology is currently in beta and that the company may begin charging a subscription fee when the testing period ends. Sharpcast itself adds that suppport for additional, more mainstream phones will be available next year and should be reflected in Alltel's lineup.
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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