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LightWave 3D v9.2 released
NewTek today announced the release of the first free update: LightWave 3D v9.2 offers new Material Shaders for easy and accurate representation of real-world surfaces, depth of field, global illumination and anti-aliasing improvements that offer better results in less time, a true 3D motion blur that mimics live-action film and new modeling and selection tools for improved workflow. The LightWave v9.2 update is now available free to registered owners of LightWave v9.
iPhone, Apple TV upgrades
During its quarterly conference call, Apple on Wednesday said that it would continue to deliver free software upgrades with new innovative features to both customers of its Apple TV set-top device and its forthcoming iPhone. The continued delivery of free software upgrades was one of the driving forces behind the company's announced accounting changes for revenue realized from of the products. Apple said it would realize revenue for iPhone sales based on a 24-month subscription model, which would include payments from AT&T, sales of accessories during those quarters, and amortized sales of the iPhone device.
Apple reports 35.1% margin
Apple today reported a 35.1 percent gross margin on its best March quarter in history, besting its own guidance with ease. The company cited a very favorable commodity pricing environment, better product mix, lower service costs, and leverage on higher revenues as primary reasons for the surprisingly high margin. "The commodity environment last quarter was favorable as we thought it would be," said Apple's chief operating officer Tim Cook. "However [the commodity environment] was even more favorable than we had predicted, particularly in the memory area." Cook also warned, however, the such prices won't be as favorable in the coming quarter. "This quarter we see some commodities moving from an oversupply condition to more of a supply demand balance position, particularly NAND flash and memory in general," said Cook.
iPhone Recurring Revenue
The introduction of the Apple TV in March and the future release of the iPhone will bring about a change in the way Apple tracks its revenues, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said during his company's conference call for its second fiscal quarter results. The executive said that it will report revenues attributed to both devices on a subscription-like basis, rather than count only the one-time costs associated with each device as they occur. AT&T payments to Apple would be factored into the iPhone's quarterly numbers.
Forums April 25
Forums roundup: Members are discussing the potential to use a MacBook Pro for Windows games such as Battlefield 2, and which configuration to buy - 128MB or 256MB of Video RAM.... Other users are offering advice to a potential buyer wondering which Mac Pro to buy for their design studio... One user is wondering what file system utility for Mac OS X would be on par with Fsck for Linux.... Other members are discussing the two future possibilities of expanding the Apple menu or cutting down the 'out of place' features even more.... Meanwhile, other members are responding to a negative review of both AppleTV and EyeTV with various solutions to the damaging negative issues with both devices.
Apple retail earns $855m
Apple today announced record March profits, reporting a whopping $855 million in sales from its retail stores for 34 percent growth year-over-year. The company's stores generated 32 million in segment margins in addition to 174 million of associated manufacturing profits, according to Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer. "We opened seven new stores during the quarter, ending with 177 stores," said Apple's financial chief. "With an average of 172 stores open during the quarter, average revenue per store was $5 million." Apple currently has 21 stores operating outside the U.S., including its new store in Rome that opened just last month. As previously announced, Apple also plans to open high profile stores in Sydney, Australia as well as Glasgow, Scotland later in 2007.
Mac, Linux users get FON
Martin Varsavsky, the founder of FON, has announced that there are now Mac and Linux beta versions of the company's proprietary software. The Mac version requires an Intel processor; the Linux version requires runtime Tcl/tk and the Universal TUN/TAP driver (tun.o), both of which are said to be included in Ubuntu. FON offers a unique business model: as long as subscribers agree to sell their home WiFi access, which is marked on a public map, they are similarly entitled to use hotspots around the world for free. Besides computers, the hotspots can also be connected to with Skype-FON VoIP phones, and any Symbian S60 v3 phone, such as those in the Nokia E-series.
Google Desktop 1.0.1
Google has released an update to the Mac version of its Google Desktop 1.01 desktop application. The new release addresses a number of suggestions for improvement, including faster re-crawl (by 20 percent), better memory use, and the handling of UTF-8 in Gmail. It will also display thumbnails for image files in the Web interface, and users can insert "datefrom:" and "dateto:" queries in the search field. Some issues remain outstanding; these include dramatic slowdowns during initial indexing, and the need for MailTags users to delete and reinstall the MailTags Spotlight importer.
Apple Rebuffs Anderson
Ahead of its quarterly earnings call, Apple's Board of Directors today issued a statement flatly rejecting accusations made by ex-Apple CFO Fred Anderson against CEO Steve Jobs, insisting that the company had acted in good faith and that the Securities and Exchange Commission's decisions on Tuesday validated its actions. "We are not going to enter into a public debate with Fred Anderson or his lawyer," the statement reads. "Steve Jobs cooperated fully with Apple's independent investigation and with the government's investigation of stock option grants at Apple.
Apple's March numbers
Apple today announced record March quarter profits of $770 million with strong year-over-year unit sales increases in the Americas (22%), Europe (37%) and its retail segments (80%). Apple's "Other Segments" -- which includes Asia Pacific and FileMaker -- also increased by 89 percent and brought in 32 percent more revenue compared with the year-ago quarter. While desktop units sales only saw a 2 percent increase from the year-ago quarter, unit sales of Mac portables surged 79 percent and unit sales of the iPod surged 24 percent to more than 10.5 million. Overall, Mac sales increased 24 percent from the same period a year ago, while revenue from Macs surged by 44 percent, indicating a higher average selling price for Macs over 2006. iPod sales revenue decreased only slightly by 1 percent, despite the addition to the lower-cost iPod shuffle to the iPod product mix. Apple said that its year-over year Music Related products and Services surged by 35 percent (includes Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories as well as iPod services) and sales of its Peripherals and Other hardware surged by 17 percent.
Intel chip prices
In brief: Intel has cut prices on its high-end Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors -- both of which are used in Mac systems -- in its ongoing price war with arch-rival AMD. One avid Apple fan has designed an Apple computer with wood components, a blogger is compiling desired features as well as fixes for the Mac version of Mozilla's Firefox browser, and HP later this year will release printers based on an entirely new inkjet cartridge system that will enable consumers to choose a desired cartridge size. Intel has initiated substantial price cuts to its Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, as well as its Xeon CPUs to counteract rival chip-maker AMD's price cuts of its high-end chips earlier this month.
Apple earns $770m
Apple today announced revenue of $5.26 billion and net quarterly profit of $770 million, or $.87 per diluted share for it fiscal 2007 second quarter ended March 31, 2007. These results, the best March quarter in Apple's history, compared to revenue of $4.36 billion and net quarterly profit of $410 million, or $.47 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales were driven by strong retail, Mac, and iPod sales, and drove profits up by 88 percent from the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 35.1 percent, up from 29.8 percent in the year-ago quarter, while international sales accounted for 43 percent of the quarter's revenue. Apple said shipped 1,517,000 Macs and 10,549,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 36 percent growth in Macs and 24 percent growth in iPods over the year-ago quarter.
Sidekick iD Hits Shops
As promised, T-Mobile today began shipping the Sidekick iD through its online store as well as its retail spots. The budget messenger phone revealed earlier this month is now the carrier's first official alternative to the $200 mid-range model, dropping the Bluetooth, camera, and EDGE Internet while gaining removable color faceplates.
New subscribers can pick up the iD for $100 with a two-year agreement, while anyone using T-Mobile can buy the device for $300.
AT&T iPhone FAQ
Key elements of AT&T's iPhone strategy have been revealed, according to a question-and-answer sheet leaked online. The American provider is notably making exceptions in its service to accommodate an expected surge of customers triggered by the Apple device: sales agents will have permission to break normal practices to keep existing subscribers onboard for the iPhone's release, letting them buy the iPhone at a similar price to new subscribers and taking the pressure off for potential upgraders.
AAPL earnings preview
Apple is preparing to unveil the financial results of its March quarter today after the market closes with one site offering some earnings preview data on Apple's stock and earnings. Wall street analysts are expecting earnings-per-share of $0.64 and revenues of $5.17 billion, and expect the June quarter to produce $0.67 earnings-per-share alongside revenue of $5.45 billion. Wall Street is bustling with rumors, however, that Apple is to report between $0.67-$0.69 earnings-per-share. The quarter will include initial AppleTV sales and guidance, and is likely to reflect Apple's progress in the stock options scandal which most analysts agree clears current management of any wrongdoing.
Sony Memory Stick PRO-HG
Sony's PRO-HG flash technology bore its first fruits today and produced the Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo. Living up to earlier claims, the format doubles the bandwidth of the interface and makes for much faster performance than other cards. Writes take place at a minimum 15Mbps and reads are even better at 240Mbps. The speed is especially vital for owners of the upcoming CX7 Handycam, Sony says: transferring a 3.6GB HD video file takes only two minutes on a PRO-HG Duo stick.
Philips X200 Notebook
Philips today quietly launched the X200, its more distinctive take on the notebook. Similar in some respects to Dialogue Technology's FlyBook, the X200 "longneck" has an adjustable neck that can lift the 12-inch widescreen LCD up and towards the user for a more natural viewing angle or for particularly cramped quarters; it can cover the keyboard altogether for watching movies using the dual-layer DVD rewriter, says Philips.
Acer orders battery recall
Despite extensive recall programs conducted last year, yet another company has fallen victim to faulty Sony laptop batteries, this time Acer. Cooperating with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the company is recalling approximately 27,000 lithium-ion batteries used in Aspire and TravelMate systems. A complete list of affected computers and batteries can be found here, where there are also instructions on how to receive a replacement unit.
iTunes may offer lyrics
Digital media firm Gracenote and Yahoo have launched an online lyrics service that could enable iTunes users to view song lyrics. Gracenote has said it is in talks with various music partners, including Apple, and that publishers embraced the company's plan to offer lyrics over consumers turning to unlicensed third-party sites, according to Reuters. "Finally, a free, legal and definitive way to settle a bet with the guy sitting next to you at the bar who is certain the Ramones' most famous anthem declares, 'I wanna piece of bacon,'" said Ian Rogers, general manager of Yahoo! Music. The announcement follows a deal struck last summer that gave Gracenote rights to lyrics from music labels such as BMG, Universal, and Sony/ATV Music publishing.
Sony CX7 AVCHD Camera
Sony this afternoon launched a full-scale update of its HD-capable Handycams with three new models. By far the most groundbreaking is the HDR-CX7 (pictured), Sony says. The camera is the smallest ever to record video in AVCHD (H.264) format, and weighs just 15 ounces with a battery. It achieves this by relying on Memory Stick Pro instead of larger DVDs, hard drives, or tapes; despite the smaller capacity, the CX7 can still fit as much as three hours of 1080-line HD video on an 8GB card in an economic long-play mode. The sensor can also capture 6-megapixel still shots.
Former CFO may lack proof
Yesterday former Apple CEO Fred Anderson, who agreed to pay $3.5 million to make up for his personal gains in the company's stock options scandal, pointed to Apple boss Steve Jobs by saying he informed the CEO of accounting implications related to the primary stock option grant in question. Research firm JMP Securities today predicted that Anderson's claim is not likely documented, and that no evidence exists to back his claim. "Given that Apple's in-depth, six-month review conducted by the company and independent counsel and accountants amounted to over 26,000 person-hours reviewing over 1 million documents, with the committee finding no misconduct by current management, there is likely no documentation to back up Mr. Anderson's comments," said JMP Securities analyst Ingrid Ebeling. JMP Securities maintains its $100 price target with an 'outperform' rating on Apple shares.
George Foreman iGrill
Entering one of the last few areas untouched by portable music players, George Foreman has unveiled the iGrill. Using the relative safety of its electric barbecue, the stand-up grill has a 10-watt speaker set that broadcasts music from a portable music player while the main 200 sq. in. grill cooks food indoors or outside. The iGrill is labeled as iPod ready courtesy of a USB port but is said to work with most any digital audio device.
The unique grill is already available from online stores and retails for $150. [via Uncrate]
Compact Samsung drives
Samsung has announced details on a pair of hard drives claimed to have the largest capacities of their type. The first is a new version of the Spinpoint M5, which as the company has previously hinted, is a 250GB, 5,400rpm drive designed for the 2.5-inch laptop format. It will begin production later this month, and use an 8MB cache, with a 1.5Gbps SATA interface. Power consumption is rated at 2W.
The other drive is from Samsung's 1.8-inch Spinpoint N2 series, which now has a 120GB model. Its production is expected to begin in July, and it will be used primarily in mobile products, including GPS systems, compact laptops and -- Impress speculates -- audio players like the iPod. Manufacturers will be able to specify whether the drive is used at 3,600 or 4,200rpm. [via Impress Watch]
Samsung Bluetooth Plasma
Samsungon Wednesday put a new spin on its TVs through the 50P91FHD, part of its new Cannes line of plasmas. While brandishing all the features inherent to the company's latest screens, including a 1080p native resolution and a 15,000:1 contrast ratio, the P91 also incorporates a Bluetooth receiver for listening privately over wireless headphones or printing still images. The 50-inch set is also rare through its inclusion of ACAP, a newer worldwide standard for shuttling information to and from TVs during shows.
iPhone to test loyalty
Apple's forthcoming iPhone, which is due to ship in late June, will likely test the loyalty of cellular customers who have thus far shown little brand loyalty between carriers. Apple customers are well known for their fierce loyalty to the company, staunchly defending the company's products and software offerings in nearly every medium. "We did a survey and we found [...] carrier loyalty wasn't a big issue. People aren't that loyal," Miro Kazakoff, director of wireless practice at Compete said. "So [AT&T] is trying to transfer loyalty to the device, not the carrier." AT&T is using Apple's iPhone to create customer loyalty where little already exists, according to Computerworld, which could result in more subscribers who are less likely to leave AT&T for another carrier.
AT&T hybrid modem
Matching its announcement of a new USB modem, AT&T has also released an ExpressCard 34/54 product, the Option GT Max 3.6 Express. Unlike the 875U, the 3.6 Express supports not one but two protocols, EDGE and HSDPA. The former is capable of speeds up to 216Kbps, but of course the real attraction is the latter, with some downloads as fast as 3.6Mbps. For better connectivity the modem has its own flip-up antenna, and supports a wider range of frequencies -- quad-band in EDGE, tri-band in HSDPA. The 3.6 Express is on sale now for $50, but also requires subscriptions to AT&T voice and data plans.
Survey: 'Monster' iPhone
Apple's forthcoming cellular handset, internet browser, and widescreen iPod dubbed 'iPhone' which the company unveiled in January is likely to explode onto the scene, according to a new survey. ChangeWave Research conducted a study of tech-savvy professionals which points to high demand for the device, with about one in 10 respondents (or 9 percent) saying they are likely to purchase the iPhone once it becomes available. Another 7 percent said they will likely purchase the device as a gift for someone else. "That's huge," ChangeWave founder Tobin Smith said. "This is going to be a monster." The survey points to a far faster adoption rate than the industry average for consumer electronics products, and Smith suspects that Apple will exceed its sales goals if the iPhone's performance lives up to consumer expectations.
80GB PS3s in production?
Even though the probable existence of an 80GB PS3 was cemented just last month, a photo anonymously submitted to Kotaku seems to suggest that the console is already in production. Multiple console boxes are seen sitting in a large container, with the nearest clearly being marked "80GB/80Go" -- "Go" standing for gigaoctet, the French term for a gigabyte. This most likely indicates a product intended for Canada.
While it may be possible that the photo has been digitally altered, this does mimic the revelation process of the Xbox 360 Elite, which many thought was a dubious product until Microsoft confirmed it. As with the Elite, it may be that Sony wants the 80GB PS3 to be ready for distribution before it begins any publicity efforts.
Analyst on iTunes profits
Despite a general consensus that Apple turns little profit from its iTunes Store, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves believes iTunes music sales are generating real revenue for the Cupertino-based company. Hargreaves estimates that Apple will rake in 9-14 cents per share from iTunes in the September 2007 fiscal year, according to AppleInsider, generating operating profits in the 10-15 percent range. The analyst calculates the figure by subtracting wholesale cost, network as well as transaction fees, and operating expenses from the 99 cent retail price of songs sold on Apple's iTunes Store to arrive at an operating profit of about 10 cents per song. Hargreaves also suspects that Apple has built and is capable of launching a subscription music service to compete with cellular carriers that will launch within the next 18 months.
AirCard 875U at ATT
AT&T this morning added a new universal adapter for its fledgling 3G wireless network. The Sierra Wireless AirCard 875U adds HSDPA to any notebook with a USB port, allowing MacBooks and other portables without card slots to connect at up to 3.6Mbps on the cell carrier's fastest network. The stick-shaped modem is also ready for roaming European networks with UMTS and has legacy support for EDGE as well as GPRS on the fringes of world networks.
Meizu miniOne 16GB
Full details of the miniOne have been revealed and could potentially top the iPhone it's meant to copy, according to a post made on Meizu's official forums. While the 3.3-inch touchscreen and WCDMA-based 3G wireless have been known for some time, the phone will gain a 16GB storage option -- the largest ever for any flash-based media player and double that of the still unreleased Apple device.
Making use of the S60 summit in Madrid, Samsung has announced a new smartphone, the SGH-i400 (click below for a larger image). The company is heavily promoting the use of S60, which is typically not found in Samsung products; some features of the OS include multitasking and the ability to install new, downloaded programs.
Distinguishing features of the phone include a slider keypad, a two-megapixel camera, and a 2.3-inch display, which may or may not be a touchscreen. More mundane confirmed features are Bluetooth, music playback and stereo speakers. The 400 will be launched in Russia in July of this year, with European countries receiving the product later.
Nokia N76 Ships
Nokia this morning began shipping the N76, one of its smarter mid-range phones. The flip-phone design pushes music and video. In a rarity for most higher-end Nokia devices, the N76 has an external display with music controls; movies and photos can be captured through either the front VGA or rear 2-megapixel cameras and edited directly from the phone before uploading directly to Flickr or synchronized with a computer. As hinted by the front camera, HSDPA mobile broadband is built in for quicker media streams and web browsing.
QuickTime flaws unpatched
Security researcher Tom Ferris of Security-Protocols.com has revisited two old vulnerabilities in Apple's QuickTime software that the company never got around to patching. The researcher, who has discovered numerous bugs in Mac OS X, says the zero-day flaws could allow attackers to make QuickTime stop responding or execute arbitrary code as the user. One of the flaws is more than a year old with no patch released to fix the issue, according to Ferris. "Maybe all of the developers are working on the iPhone?" The first flaw which was originally reported on March 28th of 2006 comes in the form of a heap overflow vulnerability within QuickTime 7.1.5 and all prior versions when users access a malformed .mov file. The second, which was originally reported on November 17th of 2006, is an integer overflow vulnerability in QuickTime 7.1.5 and all prior versions when users play a malformed .MP4 file.
Panasonic Core 2 Duo ULV
Panasonic made sweeping changes to its notebook line on Wednesday with three of its ultraportables all receiving an upgrade to the 1.06GHz Core 2 Duo U7500, which adds 64-bit and dual-core support even in the tight confines of smaller PCs. The 12-inch W5a serves as the reference model with 1GB of memory, 80GB storage, and a top-loading DVD rewriter; it can also last for a long 10 hours on battery and takes drops of up to 12 inches or 220 pounds of pressure. The W5a should be available in Japan with other models on May 18th for $2,109.
Xsilva ships LightSpeed 2
Xsilva Systems today shipped LightSpeed 2.0, a Universal Binary version of its next-generation Point of Sale system for Mac OS X. LightSpeed 2 features an easy-to-use iTunes-like Browser with live document and image previews, a revamped 'floating' Point of Sale interface designed for high-speed, error-free checkout, powerful business and inventory management tools, a tightly-integrated Web Store module (sold separately) and multi-store inventory lookups. Built on a the OpenBase SQL foundation, LightSpeed offers dynamic Sales, Service, Tracking and Purchasing tools, fast SQL searches, natively multi-user operation and intelligent workflows. It also features robust Administration and Reporting tools so business owners can manage and optimize their operations. The LightSpeed Web Store and On-Target Reports XLS custom reporting tool will ship as separate modules on May 2nd, 2007. A single-user license is $750, while a five-user license is $2,750.
Masterspell 5.1 now free
Macinmind today released its Masterspell 5.1 as a free applications. The software administers spelling drills using over 3,600 included words and sentences spoken with a real voice and supplemental guidance using the Mac's Text-to-Speech technology. Masterspell 5.1 offers definitions or example sentences for each grade level (as well as adults) and reinforcement by previewing words before drilling, retries for half-credit, and visible/audible corrections. It also tracks a running list of trouble words and includes a test editor with voice recorder to record custom words and sentences, provisions for alternate spellings, an interactive chatty owl, a Hangman game, and other options for multiple-users and networks for installation at schools. Master Spell 5.1 is now a Universal Binary and includes better CPU efficiency, better network handling, and better normalization of volume between recordings and text-to-speech.
PortAuthority 2.0 released
Code by Kevin has released PortAuthority 2.0, a graphical user interface for the MacPorts package management system for Mac OS X. MacPorts is a powerful command-line tool for installing and updating a variety of Unix-based applications for the Mac. "Its power, though, comes at the cost of some complexity; in the past the only way to utilize MacPorts was to type in various commands into the Mac's Terminal application, which can be intimidating for those users without a Unix background." Version 2.0 brings a significantly redesigned interface for greater ease-of-use; the ability to browse categories using a hierarchical display; a built-in history of search terms; and streamlined keyboard shortcuts.
Moto KRZR maxx K3
Motorola today marked the first public release of its 3G-capable KRZR phone. Now known as the KRZR maxx K3, the clamshell handset once known just as the KRZR K3 has been released in Hong Kong. It preserves the 2-megapixel camera, MPEG-4 video, and other features of the basic KRZR K1 but adds in HSDPA mobile broadband as well as a VGA camera tucked under the internal display for video calls. Storage is provided through 50MB of built-in memory and microSD cards.
Pricing is unknown for the Hong Kong debut. Also unrevealed is the phone's support for North American networks and the possibility of a release for the Western continent.
(Updated for Sprint info) Research in Motion today unveiled the BlackBerry 8830 World Edition, the company's first true hybrid smartphone. The device will officially go on sale for CDMA-based cell networks from Sprint and Verizon, and has full support for EVDO mobile Internet as well as serving as a dial-up modem; a GSM radio and a SIM card, however, let the new BlackBerry roam in Europe and other areas where Verizon's coverage isn't an option. The switchover is seamless and also allows for basic GPRS Internet access, RIM says.
BeoLab9 loudspeaker debuts
Bang & Olufsen on Tuesday debuted BeoLab 9, its newest loudspeaker designed as an extension to the company's BeoLab 5 product line. BeoLab 9 utilizes the same patented Acoustic Lens Technology, which sits on top of the speaker and disperses the treble at a 180 degree arc, and "guarantees an equal sound distribution throughout the room and allowing the listener an even sound experience regardless of seating location." In addition, the company claims that the lens eliminates reflections from the floor and ceiling that distort the sound. BeoLab 9 will be available in all Bang & Olufsen showrooms this spring for $9900 per pair of speakers.
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