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Apple's music business
Apple's music business remained strong during its June quarter to help the company post record-breaking revenue, with music-related sales accounting for 40 percent of the Cupertino-based company's total revenue during the quarter. Apple's other music revenue surged 33 percent year-over-year fueled by strong iTunes Store sales, and research firm NPD announced that the iTunes Store has become the third largest overall music retailer in the U.S. above Amazon and Target. Amidst the introduction of iTunes-plus DRM-free music, Apple introduced its iPhone just 30 hours before the end of its third quarter, selling well over a quarter million phones within that time.
Mac is still #1 for Apple
The Mac is still Apple's prime revenue generator, delivering 60 percent of the company's total intake in its fiscal third quarter -- the best quarter ever in terms of Mac unit sales and revenue. The company shipped 1.76 million Macs in the three-month period, an all-time quarterly record and a 33 percent jump relative to the year-ago quarter. The United States saw 32 percent year-over-year growth, representing just under 4 times IDC's latest published growth estimate for the US market -- 7.2 percent. Apple's worldwide growth rate was about 2.5 times IDC's estimated growth for the industry at large.
Record June quarter
Apple today reported yet another a record quarter, earning $5.41 billion in revenue to mark the highest June quarter revenue in the company's history. Fueled by record breaking Mac sales and continued strong demand for iPods, Apple's revenue grew almost 25 percent over the prior June quarter to earn investors $0.92 cents per share over the past 90 days. Apple's financial chief Peter Oppenheimer pointed to a stronger than expected operating margin -- 19.2 percent -- due to unexpected revenue and favorable commodity pricing. Apple generated a net income of $818 million to rise 73 percent over the year-ago quarter, even after paying taxes at 32 percent. The Cupertino-based company increased its cash balance to more than $13.8 billion with cash flow operations of over $1.2 billion.
Retail surges for Apple
With Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer stating that Apple's retail operations experienced an "outstanding quarter," the company posted a 53% increase in year-over-year unit sales for the segment. In fact, Oppenheimer says it's the right time to begin measuring retail segment in the same manner as other Apple business segments. "We have determined that it is the right time to begin measuring our retail segment operating performance in a manner that is generally consistent with the way we measure Apple's other operating segments. Therefore, beginning with the June quarter, we are using cost of sales for Apple's products sold through our retail stores, that are similar to those used for Apple's other operating segments," Oppenheimer said. "We are also changing the way we measure AppleCare and .Mac sales through our retail stores. Historically, revenue and cost of sales were recognized by the retail segment at the time of sale for AppleCare and .Mac. We are now recognizing revenue in cost for these products over the lives of their respective agreements, consistent with the accounting treatment for our other segments." He added "We believe all these changes will allow greater comparability of results between our various operating segments
270K iPhones in 2 days
Apple on Wednesday announced that it has sold 270,000 iPhones in the first two days of sales on opening weekend, nearly double the AT&T estimates of 146,000 activation, but well short of expectations. The company is reported to have sold many more of its higher-end phones: it sells a 4GB version for $499 and a 8GB model for $599. The company's financial statements show that revenue from the iPhones--during the first two days of sales--was only $5 million based on its decision to amortize iPhone sales and revenue over a 24-month period.
Apple's third quarter
Apple's blowout 2007 third quarter (revenue of $5.41 billion and net quarterly profit of $818 million) saw the best Mac sales in company history, showed Japanese revenue growth -- if not unit increase -- for the first time in history, reiterated the importance of portables to Apple's core Mac business, and solidified the iPod as product line with continuing strength. Apple sold 634,000 desktops in the quarter, representing revenue of $956 million, compared with 529,000 desktops representing $705 million in the year-ago quarter. An amazing 1,130,000 portables were sold, representing $1.577 billion in revenue, compared with 798,000 units representing $1.161 billion in the year-ago quarter. That represents a 42 percent unit shipment increase year-over-year for portables, and a 20 percent year-over-year unit shipment increase for desktops.
Apples $818m in profit
Apple posted revenue of $5.41 billion and net quarterly profit of $818 million, or $.92 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $4.37 billion and net quarterly profit of $472 million ($.54 per diluted share) in the year-ago quarter. The numbers were well ahead of street consensus estimates of $5.28 billion and $0.72. The company's gross margin was nearly 37 percent, up from 30.3 percent in the year-ago quarter, while international sales accounted for 40 percent of the quarter's revenue. Apple said it shipped 1,764,000 Macs, representing 33 percent growth over the year-ago quarter and exceeding the previous company record for quarterly Mac shipments by over 150,000. Apple also sold 9,815,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 21 percent growth over the year-ago quarter.
Denon ASD-3 Docks
Denon at its special event has revealed the AS-3 series of Network-Enabled clients. Two docks -- the Ethernet-only ASD-3N and 802.11g-based ASD-3W -- connect to any receiver, stereo, or TV set to stream audio and video from the user's local network; a remote control navigates tracks, and on TV setups provides a visual menu for browsing content. Dockable iPods can also attach through a special slot to share their media separately from other devices. The system recognizes metadata such as album artwork and doesn't rely on Denon AV equipment as the destination, the company says.
New Leopard build out?
Apple is believed to be distributing a new preview version of Mac OS X Leopard, the first such release since June. Anonymous sources suggest that build 9A499 is making the rounds of members in the Apple Developer Connection, and is nearly 7GB in size. It is not being treated entirely favorably however, as there have been multiple accounts of the OS being plagued with bugs. "I'm recommending to other developers that they stick with the earlier 9A466 build," one source is quoted as saying. "[9A499] is very buggy."
Sony and Apple are still feeling lingering effects of defective lithium-ion batteries (manufactured by the former) that were part of a massive global recall initiated in September 2006 after some units burst into flames. A Japanese man has sued both Sony and Apple Japan for 2 million yen (about $16,700) after he allegedly suffered burns on his finger when his Apple portable's battery pack caught on fire. His wife, who claims she had to seek medical treatment as a result of stress from the incident, is also named as a plaintiff in the suit. The recall has thus far netted more than 10 million Sony-manufactured batteries, which caught fire due to a short circuit resultant from errant, small metal particles. In spite of Sony's efforts, Apple notebooks were still purportedly catching fire as late as March of this year. An Australian MacBook owner whose battery was smoking and hissing successfully extinguished a flame, after which the battery proved to be swollen and charred. His battery was not listed under the recall serial number range.
Pantech C150 at ATT
AT&T today quietly listed the Pantech C150 as an option for subscribers. The Korean-made candybar phone escapes stereotypes of budget phones with a sleek, all-white design that measures exactly half an inch thick. Its VGA camera is simple but includes a flash for better focus in dark scenes; Bluetooth is also a relative luxury for the class. Internet access is basic with GPRS, which AT&T uses to offer e-mail and instant messages across AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo Messenger.
FCC vs. Google
During hearings for the forthcoming auction of the 700MHz spectrum, members of the Federal Communications Commission have expressed doubts about Google's prerequisites for bidding. While Google is in favor of totally open access, with numerous network operators leasing at wholesale prices, FCC chairman Kevin Martin is backing a split plan in which at least 22 of the 60 new bands would have an open-access requirement, and there would be no provisions for network neutrality or wholesaling.
Medison Celebrity Notebook
PC builder Medison claimed to have solved the cost problems associated with full-size notebooks and has introduced the Celebrity, a new 14-inch system that blends free software and low-cost parts to achieve a $150 price Rather than incur the license costs of Windows, the designer loads the system with Red Hat's freely available Fedora Linux. Doing so also allows the design to run on inexpensive components without sacrificing responsiveness; the reference system is powered by just a 1.5GHz Celeron M with 256MB of memory and 40GB of storage.
A Better Finder Rename
Immutation 1.0.1 ($10) based around Core Image, this tool allows users to chain together Image Units such as Sepiah Tone or White Point Adjust to make compelling images. These chains can be saved for future use and applied to many images at once. Since Immutation uses non-destructive editing, users are can experiment without damaging their originals. The new release's price has dropped to $10. [Download (demo) - 836KB]
Google Sitemap Automator 1.7 ($30) software package which helps webmasters get their web site listed in Google, Yahoo and MSN search. The new release submits your sitemap.xml file automatically to Yahoo's search index in addition to Google's index. It also adds support for secure FTP transfers to easily upload sitemap.xml files to secure web sites and adds the ability to pause web site scanning. [Download - 8.5MB]
Sticky Window 2.3.2 ($16) shrinks your windows into tabs when you drag a window towards the edge of your screen, providing you with a completely clutter-free workspace. The tab can be created by dragging a window to any edge of the screen (Sticky Windows also supports multiple screens). When the mouse reaches the margin of the screen a tab will appear. The new release features improved compatibility with Mac OS X server. [Download (demo) - 1MB]
A Better Finder Rename 7.9 ($20) comprehensive file renaming solution for the Macintosh. The new release extends sorting capabilities with a second sorting order. This is especially useful when working with digital image files that were shot using the "rapid fire" continuous shooting mode of modern digital SLR cameras. In these situations, multiple shots may be taken with the same timestamp leading to ordering problems during renaming. [Download - 1.9MB]
Xyle scope 1.2 ($20) CSS tool for understanding, debugging, and fine-tuning web sites. The new release fixes a bug that could result in HTML forms not working correctly and resolves a crash that occurred in some situations when a window was closed. In addition, sending URLs to Xyle scope (bookmarklet) works more reliably. French Localization has also been added. [Download - 1.8MB]
HP Next for Home Linux
HP will likely be the second major PC builder to offer Linux systems to everyday users after Dell, according to multiple sources within HP speaking to eWeek. Citing the sudden interest in Linux for the mainstream in the wake of Dell's offering, contacts at both HP and Ubuntu Linux creator Canonical say that a deal is underway which would preload Ubuntu on at least one home system. The unnamed model may even appear at retail instead of Dell's only-only strategy, reports one source. Strong evidence of HP's support is said to come through a 5,000-system contract for the University of Delhi and the buyout of Neoware, a thin-client PC that relies on Linux.
Denon RC-7000CI Remote
As a complement to its Blu-Ray players, Denon today also launched a new remote control system it hopes will be truly useful for multi-room home theater setups. The RC-7000CI (shown) is said to have one of the largest electronics databases of any home theater device and can be programmed over a USB connection for most any AV hardware in a given room. The 7000CI also chooses RF over infrared to eliminate the line of sight issues that plague most other remotes; owners don't need to be in the same room, Denon claims. Newer gear from the company will also display digital track information, such as iPod track data or the current music on an XM satellite radio station.
AT&T and eMusic are said to be on the verge of launching new mobile download service, one which may have significant impact on the industry. According to an anonymous source, this service will be launching on July 31st, and allow customers to download five tracks a month for $7.49 -- most likely without DRM, in keeping with eMusic's policies elsewhere. Many mobile download services exert tight control on their files, making it difficult or impossible to copy them to other devices as desired. A popular DRM-free alternative could sway competitors.
Oppo (possibly connected to Oppo Digital) today said it would enter business of portable media players with one of the thinnest video-capable players yet. Titled the Blast, the device would include a comparatively large LCD but measure about 6.9mm (0.27 inches) thick; thinner than a CD case, the company touts. Unusual touches also manifest in the touch-sensitive keypad and format support. In addition to conventional music, photos, and videos, the Blast should play Flash videos encoded in FLV, lossless audio in either APE or FLAC, and animated GIF pictures.
Lenovo Olympic PCs
In an unusual branding strategy, ThinkPad maker Lenovo has announced that two upcoming desktop PCs will bear the Olympic insignia, reflecting the company's status as a sponsor for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The 3000-series J200s will be based on Intel processors, while the J205s will be based on AMD chips; in both circumstances the computers will be low-cost models, with features such as six USB ports and gigabit Ethernet connections. Graphics will be integrated, and items like a DVD multi-drive or a nine-in-one card reader will merely be optional. Shipping is expected in August for prices starting at $399 and $449. [Image courtesy of Gearlog]
Intel, AMD push envelopes
This quarter, Intel will debut a new multi-processor platform dubbed Caneland that will support 4 quad-core processors for a total of 16 cores, Kirk Skaugen, Intel vice president and General Manager of the Server Products Group announced in a posting to the Intel blog. The new platform will make use of the Tigerton processor, which will top out at 2.93GHz, and the Clarksboro chipset. Both the processor and chipset will go under the Intel 7300 monikier.
iPhone news reader
In brief: NewsGator Technologies has released a free mobile reader for Apple's iPhone, Web Crossing has included new International capabilities in its private-label social network system, and eSellerate has released updates for several Software Development Kits (SDKs). NewsGator's new mobile reader for iPhone, called NewsGator Mobile for iPhone, is a free news reader that works in conjunction with any free NewsGator online account to deliver news feeds directly to users. The software is optimized for the iPhone's touch screen, and is designed to ease access to feeds on-the-go. A simple login automatically detects the iPhone and routes users to the iPhone reader, while directing other mobile devices to the standard NewsGator Mobile reader.
X360 Cut May Come Aug 8th
A long-awaited price cut for the Xbox 360 could appear on August 8th, according to insiders speaking with a Hollywood magazine. The drop would lower the price of the Microsoft console by about $50, though the sources did not reveal whether the drop was universal or would apply only to an individual model, such as the $299 Core or the $479 Elite. The reason for passing up an announcement at this month's E3 gaming show is equally unknown but may be closely related to the launch of EA's latest Madden football game, which could help the console sell extra units. Microsoft declined comment and said that it had nothing to announce at this time.
Samsung BR/HDDVD Official
Samsung this afternoon revealed final details of its already anticipated UP5000 Blu-Ray and HD DVD hybrid player. Confirming early details, the BD-UP5000 (pictured) will solve many of the issues with combo devices from other companies by playing the enhanced features of either movie disc, including picture-in-picture commentary. It should also stand as the best Blu-Ray player in the company's line, Samsung boasts. More recent decoding can play movies at 24 frames per second without triggering pulldown conversion, and output to HDTVs is sent through HDMI 1.3 for deeper colors when supported by an attached TV.
Toshiba TransMemory 32GB
Toshiba on Wednesday revealed a much larger expansion of its TransMemory USB drives through the U2K series. The new model retains the familiar capped design of earlier models but uses improved memory techniques to double the top storage capacity to a full 32GB without also growing in size. New models also include a downloadable password lock for guarding data and, on Windows systems, support Vista's ReadyBoost feature that speeds load times by caching information that would normally have to be read from the slower hard drive.
BenQ Joybook R56
BenQ has announced a 15.4-inch laptop, the Joybook R56, meant to appeal on both an internal and external level. Driving the system is the Intel Santa Rosa platform, in this case a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo running on a PM965 motherboard; crucially, graphics are supplied by a dedicated Nvidia card, the GeForce 8400M G. 1080p output is supported via HDMI, and the computer further has an eSATA port for rapid data transfer. The system also has an unusual emphasis on sound, as its 2W main channels are joined by a 3W subwoofer, as well as noise and echo cancellation software.
iPhones & GPS units
An Italian website is offering suggestions for using the iPhone with car-based GPS units, specifically TomTom's x10 series. The iPhone has no internal navigation support; when connected to a device like the TomTom 910, the most that can be done is a live reading of directions. The best use of a TomTom may therefore be calling functions, since by pairing with an iPhone via Bluetooth, it can then sync with Address Book contacts. This allows the unit to quickly make calls through a readily-available list. To turn a GPS unit into a speakerphone, meanwhile, users can select the appropriate audio output on the iPhone.
The Sims Pet Stories
Aspyr Media today announced that it will publish The Sims Pet Stories for Mac, bringing the second release of The Sims Stories to Mac users. "Play through unpredictable moments of pet ownership with your Sims! Train, play with, and care for your Sims cats and dogs, and do your best to keep them happy. Count on many unexpected twists and turns in this easy-to-play, laptop-friendly version of The Sims. Choose from two different stories in the directed Story mode, taking on a variety of challenges as you compete in a local pet show and learn that even pets have their own personalities. Unlock rewards as you achieve set goals for your Sims and their pets. In open-ended Freeplay mode, create your Sims and their pets, design their homes, and teach your pets tricks. You decide how their stories unfold." Licensed by Electronic Arts and under development by Aspyr Studios, The Sims Pet Stories for Mac is expected to hit store shelves in September of this year. The game will soon be available for pre-order for $30 (Mac system requirements were unavailable).
Helio Ocean MS Exchange
Helio today revealed a new update for its popular Ocean phone that adds support for Exchange networks and Office files, allowing the normally entertainment-oriented device to double as a smartphone for mobile workers. The update adds full ActiveSync support and lets Helio's subscribers automatically pull calendars, contacts, and e-mail from the network. The included file viewer also promises to open many of the attachments that find their way into work e-mail, such as Excel, Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files.
iPhone music search widget
SeeqPod today released a new iPhone widget developed specifically to work with Apple's Safari Web browser on the cellular handset. The widget enables iPhone users to search for, discover, and play music from the internet. "Originally developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) SeeqPod's technology, based on a biomimetic approach, works by mimicking the way the human brain processes information and creates associations, and can be applied to most any vertical industry such as Music, Music Video, Sports, Celebrities, Health or Finance." The current SeeqPod Music Search & Discovery beta launched in May, and the widget aims to leapfrog storage limitations by allowing users to access and share playlists on location within nearly any social network. Users can create playlists at SeeqPod.com that are viewable, playable, and ready for sharing using any of the SeeqPod widgets on the iPhone, other mobile devices, or a computer.
iPhone sales on decline
Following Apple's recent stock slide on the news that fewer iPhones had been activated than expected, analyst Ittai Kidron of CIBC World Markets is claiming that that demand for iPhones appears to have quickly dropped within the last 10 days. "We have noticed decent inventories at stores, and thin demand at best," Kidron says. "In fact, most Apple store visitors were not looking at the device and only a very small subset bought it."
iPhone Open Source Hacks
Coders working to break the iPhone's restrictions have successfully run open-source programs from the device, according to reports from the developers' #iPhone IRC channel. Recent efforts have built and executed several programs that can be easily compiled to run on the cellphone's ARM processor, including a functional Apache web server for hosting sites. More narrowly-focused tools such as the Python programming language, the vim text editor, and other small utilities are also functional and have been compiled into binaries that can be launched by knowledgeable users.
OWC ships NASPerform
Other World Computing (OWC) today unveiled its NASPerform 100Mbps Ethernet/USB 1.0 network attached storage device designed for home and business networks. The storage apparatus offers up to 750GB of space and connects to wired or wireless networks for easy file storage and sharing among multiple network users. NASPerform shares data with up to 20 other network users, serving as another hard drive that allows users to drag-and-drop files to and from the device. OWC's latest storage product boasts plug-and-play installation without the need to configure TCP/IP settings or a separate server, and assigns read/write privileges to each network user to prevent unwanted deletion or modification of data. NASPerform includes 16MB of cache, utilizes the Ximeta NDAS 2011 chipset, and features a front panel LED status light. The NASPerform is available in five pre-configured 7200RPM versions from 250GB to 750GB starting from $130. A 0GB "add your own drive" enclosure is also available for $60.
3D "Power Bundle" ships
E frontier and E-on software today released Power Bundle, a 3D animation solution featuring Poser 7 and Vue 6 Esprit bundled together at a discounted rate. "Poser is the most widely used way to design with the human form in 3D. Vue provides the easiest way to create and animate realistic 3D environments and landscapes. Vue 6 Esprit is focused on intuitive workflow, advanced rendering features and extended Poser integration. With Power Bundle artists can use both Poser 7 and Vue 6 Esprit to produce stunning art, fine illustration and breathtaking animation that includes figures, scenery and virtual 3D worlds." Poser 7 features unlimited undo and redo functionality, faster multi-threaded rendering, animation layers that enable quicker editing, custom morph creation using brush-like morphing tools, and over 1GB of high resolution 3D content. Vue 6 Esprit imports complete animated Poser scenes with full support for dynamic hair and cloth, providing access to the Poser Shader Tree from within Vue to render Poser materials exactly as they would appear in Poser itself. The Power Bundle is priced at $300, with Poser 7 requiring Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and Vue 6 Esprit requiring Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
iTunes Festival wraps up
The London-based iTunes Festival is heading into its final week, bringing with it new online content. Available for free is the official screensaver, containing photos and logos for all the acts of the event; album art was to be included, but licensing issues have reportedly prevented this. Meanwhile, United Kingdom residents can now buy live Festival EPs by Mika and Nine Black Alps, with more, unannounced ones coming later.
LeapFrog FLY Fusion Pentop
LeapFrog today helped prep late primary and high school students for school with a new version of the FLY Fusion, its pen-based computer. The improved version quadruples the onboard memory and now easily connects to a PC to transfer files over USB. Kids using the Fusion now have much more incentive to use a specially-designed paper to write and store digital notes they can bring up later for homework or in Microsoft Word format on their computer, according to the company. Students further have access to a basic calculator and an MP3 player to keep themselves entertained and working without extra devices.
ArtRage 2.5 adds tools
Ambient Design has released a major upgrade to ArtRage, its illustration program that simulates the effects of real-world materials. Paint smears and blends, while chalks and pencils smudge. Version 2.5 of the software introduces stencils and rulers, allowing users to mask out areas to creat proper curves and lines. The program also introduces the Smooth Blender and Precise Pencil, as well layer content transformations that allow one or more layers to be moved, scaled and rotated. Finally, print output can be specified in terms of inches, centimeters and millimeters, as well as the desired DPI resolution. The program costs $25 and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9.
ATT Mobile Backup Service
AT&T today provided a helping hand to some of its subscribers with Mobile Backup, a new online service meant to assuage cellphone users that may store valuable contact info only on their handsets. Downloading a special app to compatible phones lets users automatically save contacts to a remote server and restored should the device be damaged or lost. Web access to the contacts also gives an opportunity to edit or view contacts without having the phone itself; this can be immediately valuable if a phone is stolen and the contacts may be at risk, AT&T says.
Kerio iPhone update
Kerio has released an update to MailServer 6, its software aimed at corporate networks. The program handles a number of e-mail functions, from administration through to synchronizing contacts, calendars and messages within a group. It can also synchronize with mobile phones; the v6.4.1 upgrade now supports the Apple iPhone, enabling users to copy over any of the aforementioned data. Information is fed through Address Book and iCal on Mac OS X, or Microsoft Outlook on Windows. E-mail can be accessed via either EDGE or Wi-Fi. The Mac server costs $400 with a free one-year subscription, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or higher.
Sky Shooting Star Phone
Pantech's luxury label Sky today unveiled the IM-U200, also known as the Shooting Star. The entire design is built around a unique swivel design whose closed shape recalls the sleeker, rounded lines of a spaceship, according to the company; twisting the display around reveals unusual, ripple-effect directional and number pads. Features themselves are relatively conventional for a mid-range phone with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and MP3 playback likely using microSD for removable storage.
Samsung DisplayPort LCD
Claiming to have established a new first, Samsung today said it had become the first display maker to have produced its own LCD with a DisplayPort interface. A new, 30-inch screen by the company uses the extremely high 10.8Gbps bandwidth of the new video connector to display a full 2560x1600 resolution picture without resorting to dual links. The screen includes a new Genesis chipset that could bring the display even higher to 10 bits per pixel, or one billion colors -- a feat that would require three DVI connections, Samsung says.
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