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Apple's market success
Following Apple's better-than-expected financial results, Apple's market capitalization ($162b) has surpassed that of IBM and Intel and is nearing Microsoft's, which the largest of all companies. Following today's market close, Apple's rapidly growing marketcap is the fourth largest behind Cisco ($189b), Google ($208b) and Microsoft ($290b). Apple has continued it strong growth with continued success of the iPod -- selling more than 10 million during the quarter -- and growing Mac marketshare, as well as the iPhone's success have all helped it achieve unprecedented growth.
Hitachi: No more Japan PCs
Hitachi has announced that it is pulling out of the personal-computer business due to poor sales. The company's Prius-brand PCs were not redesigned for the 2007 holiday buying season, and won't be produced henceforth. The company ranked eighth in Japan's PC market with just under 5 percent market share, representing roughly 600,000 units per year. NEC Corp, Fujitsu Ltd, Dell Inc and Toshiba Corp are all bigger fish in the Japanese pond. The company will continue to produce server-based computers for businesses at its production factory in Toyokawa. Other manufacturers are also struggling in Japan, one of the few markets where PC unit shipments are contracting. For Apple, Japan saw only moderate growth in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, with 72,000 units shipping compared to 62,000 in the year ago quarter. However, Apple's Japan revenue fell 11%.
NoiseFree for VOIP
Hoping to capitalize on the growing adoption of VOIP, the NoiseFree VoIP is a new technology algorithm that purportedly cancels background noise on VoIP calls. Now available for user trial, the company claims "near landline" voice quality and says that the service offers a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) enhancement in excess of 15dB. The purely software-based solution includes has voice activity detection, fast echo cancellation and supports Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and soft phones. According tto the company, it has been tested and is compatible with Windows XP and Vista.
Shoreline goes "green"
In the spirit of "keeping green", Shoreline has introduced a new laptop jacket and sleeve, both of which are constructed using recycled plastic bottles. Shoreline says that the bags are designed around a self-imposed decision to become more environmentally friendly, advertising that the materials used have saved countless amounts of energy that would have otherwise been involved in the bottles' reprocessing. Shipping November 19th, the cases will range for $25 to $40, depending on size and configuration.
Pleasant Software has released a public beta of ShowMacster 1.9, an extension to Apple's iChat which enables users to stream pictures, QuickTime movies and live screen captures during a video conference. Users can also import a collection of pictures, icons or movies to show them instantly. You can alos share onscreen actions with chat buddies. Also included is a "Sketchboard" tool, with which users are able to draw right inside the current streaming picture. Drawings (on a blank sheet or any photo) are updated live as ShowMacster streams any changes instantly.
Matias unveils iFold
Matias today announced a new laptop stand that it calls the iFold. Featuring a completely modular design that can be folded flat for easy portability, and made from a combination of black acryllic and zinc alloy, the stand is designed to increase work comfort without compromising portability. By using an external mouse and keyboard in combination with the iFold, users can view their laptop screen without having to crane their necks in an awkward position, or without affecting how they sit. The iFold is available from a number of suppliers, as well as directly from Matias itself for $60.
Strata 3D CX 5.5
Mac 3D design veteran Strata today released Strata 3D CX v5.5, an update to its 3D rendering program. Incorporating Strata's 3D[in] technology, Strata 3D CX v5.5 adds a powerful set of 3D tools to Photoshop CS3 Extended, allowing 2D designers to easily add three-dimensional elements into their work, without having to load up a second program. The update adds a "Connect to Photoshop" feature, allowing users to work from Strata 3D to collaborate with Photoshop. The application is available for $700 for new users.
BusySync 1.0 released
BusyMac today released a new application, BusySync 1.0, its new calendar sharing utility for iCal. BusySync is designed to allow multiple users to share calendars on a local area network, without the need for a dedicated iCal server. Calendars can be edited from any user on the network, and the developer advertises that any changes will be instantly published and synchronized with all users sharing the calendar in question. BusySync is available directly from BusyMac's site for $20.
Wacom Cintiq 12WX Europe
Wacom's European branch has become the first to launch the Cintiq 12WX, a unique variant on the company's successful touchscreen displays. The device uses a 1280x800 LCD that allows full pen control but measures just 12 inches across -- making the system small enough to sit on a lap as a sketching pad as well as a desktop device with a portrait-like stand, unlike the larger and more desktop-oriented Cintiq models. A series of ten programmable buttons split across both sides of the display bring the same or better custom functionality as a Bamboo or similar tablet, Wacom says.
Symmetric FiOS plan
Verizon has begun offering a unique plan for its FiOS fiber-optic Internet service, says the Associated Press. Within New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, customers can now sign up for a $65 per month scheme that grants 20Mbps uploads in addition to more conventional 20Mbps downloads. This stands in contrast to most cable and DSL providers, who typically offer uploads a fraction as fast their downloads; even FiOS' 50Mbps download plan still permits just 5Mbps up. Verizon claims that with its 20Mbps uploads, a 3GB movie can be transferred in just 20 minutes, instead of a typical nine hours.
Sprint Commits to WiMAX
Sprint is still intent on releasing its Xohm WiMAX service despite a change in top management, the company's acting chief executive Paul Saleh told USA Today. Although the open nature of the upcoming 4G service had often been seen as the brainchild of recently departed chief Gary Forsee, Saleh vowed that the company would not fall back to a traditional American cellphone strategy of locking down the service. An open platform where any device and any program would work was the inevitable "future" of cellular Internet access, he said.
UTStarcom 'senior' phone
UTStarcom has launched a new phone targeted at seniors, the CDM8630. Befitting this audience, the phone has larger on-screen fonts, a clearly labelled keypad with larger buttons, and a special "In Case of Emergency" directory, where users can hold special contacts and personal information. There is even a unique 911 button, so that help can be called with minimal effort. TTY/TTD support aids deaf or hearing-impaired users.
Features are otherwise deliberately stripped-down, as demonstrated by the 262-color, 176x220 main LCD, and the monochrome external display. A highlighted power jack is meant to ensure charging is an obvious process. Two carriers now have the phone in their libraries: Alltel is charging $20 after a discount and a two-year contract, while Verizon is charging $50 without a discount, but under the same contract.
Bunkspeed has announced that HyperShot, its 3D rendering application, is now available for Mac OS X. The tool allows paints and materials to be instantly applied to 3D models generated in popular CAD applications, and their reflections viewed under real life lighting conditions. HyperShot can eliminate the need for the physical object or imagery bought from a rendering house. it includes the ability to save and delete materials from the library, create custom tabs to organize materials for fast selection, share and exchange materials. There is also support for light penetrating glass and its resulting reflectance on the ground, as well as light bouncing off illuminated surfaces.
Apple tops reliability
The reliability of Apple's Mac computers could prove to be a high selling point this holiday season, according to one report. The Cupertino-based company's Mac line topped Rescuecom's second annual computer reliability report, soaring ahead of second-place contender Lenovo (IBM) for the top spot. Rescuecom's report is based on technical assistance calls received by the company, which is not linked to any one hardware vendor. Rescuecom tallies service calls made while noting each type of computer requiring service, and calculates these numbers against each manufacturer's market share to produce an idea of how often each manufacturer's computers require technical support.
Lenovo ThinkVision 19-inch
Lenovo today upgraded its ThinkVision displays with a trio of 19-inch LCDs that help meet green targets and occupy little space on a desk. The standard-ratio L193p is the first LCD to meet the EPEAT environmental standard that demands both a low power draw as well as eco-friendly materials. More than a quarter of the screen is made from recycled material, Lenovo boasts. It includes both a DVI port with HDCP encryption support and VGA for analog video and should be available next month for $299.
Palm GPS Navigator
Palm has announced the production of a new GPS Navigator, one that marks of a pair of changes. Unlike the current model (pictured), which supports only a select range of Treos, the new one is the first to also support the low-cost Centro smartphone. The device further marks a switch to Garmin's Mobile XT software, which comes preloaded on a microSD card. XT includes NAVTEQ maps of Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, with over six million points of interest, and automatic re-routing for missed turns. Free access is included to Garmin Online, which supplies data such as traffic, weather, and gas and hotel prices.
Apple's holiday guidance
Apple surprised investors yesterday when it announced unusually high expectations for the upcoming holiday shopping season, suggesting that the company foresees outstanding sales in the months ahead. The Cupertino-based company historically exercises caution when guiding investors on what to expect in the coming quarter, but has offered guidance for its December quarter higher than most Wall Street estimates. One analyst asked Apple executives during yesterdays conference call why the iPod maker told investors to expect such high earnings in the coming quarter, which are well above the norm even for the holidays. Apple said it settled upon higher guidance based on the reasonable possibility that the company can achieve its projected earnings.
Linksys Dual-Band Wi-Fi N
Linksys on Tuesday put a unique spin on wireless networking with the advent of its first dual-band Wi-Fi devices. Rather than operate two frequencies one at a time to accommodate different wireless standards, the WRT600N router and WPC600N PC Card adapter can run both at once: a standard 2.4GHz frequency handles typical 802.11a, b, g, or n devices, while a 5GHz transmitter operates on 802.11n for devices that are particularly susceptible to interference, such as computers used for gaming or streaming video to a media hub. The dual-band approach lets users effectively reserve a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection for their most important devices, according to Linksys.
New Apple stores
In brief: Leopard shipment notices are arriving, OWC offers 32GB RAM sets for the Xserve, Apple plans to open a store in Gilbert, AZ and there are pictures from a Lakeside UK opening, IOGEAR is offering iPhone GearJuice adapters, and there is a new iPhone/iPod touch-optimized e-learning portal ... Users are reporting that they are receiving shipment notices for Leopard. One MacNN reader wrote "The status on my order for Leopard changed from 'Not Yet Shipped' to 'Prepared for Shipment' Saturday night (10/20 for 10/26 delivery?)." VARs are reporting that pre-orders for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard -- available from the Apple Store, Amazon (with Parallels Bundle), and MacMall (for delivery on Oct 26th) -- are double what they were for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
i-mate Ultimate in US
i-mate helped kick off the CTIA phone expo by releasing its Ultimate series of smartphones in the US for the first time. Each of the Windows Mobile 6-based devices includes a touchscreen for much of its control and includes quad-band GSM for calling, Wi-Fi, and tri-band HSDPA for 3G Internet access in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia; unique to the i-mate devices is a high-resolution video output that presents a 1024x768 image for presentations or displaying video clips with an on-screen interface. NVIDIA's G5500 graphics chipset provides the extra screen space and even accelerated 3D to the devices.
iTunes: 3b songs sold
Apple's iTunes Store is still dominating digital music sales in the U.S., according to one survey cited by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, accounting for around 85 percent of digital sales nationwide. The Cupertino-based company on Monday during a conference call announced that it has sold a whopping 3 billion songs via the iTunes Store alongside more than 100 million TV shows; music revenues--including the iPod--accounted for 36 percent of the company's total revenue during its September quarter.
AT&T wields BlackJack II
Confirming a leak from earlier this month, AT&T has officially announced that it will adopt the BlackJack II by Samsung. The QWERTY smartphone features a 2.4-inch QVGA screen and a built-in GPS receiver, with support for navigation software by the likes of TeleNav. Also present are a two-megapixel camera and tri-band HSDPA, the latter enabling access to AT&T's live Video Share service, as well as streaming television clips through CV. The phone runs on Windows Mobile 6 (with Office Mobile), and is said to have "increased" memory and battery life, though AT&T has not specified how much has been added. Bluetooth connectivity is merely described as "stereo."
The Araelium Group has released a new screen recording application for Mac OS X titled Screencast. The software features high performance screen capturing for smooth and fluid motion at 30 frames-per-second (fps), according to the Araelium Group. Recognizing audio from an internal or external microphone as well as system audio, Screencast optionally displays keyboard commands and highlights mouse clicks to easily convey which actions are performed during screen recording. Screencast is priced at $30, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later with QuickTime 7.2 or newer.
WD Expander for TiVo
Western Digital says that it has released a new version of its My DVR Expander hard drive, now officially certified for TiVo HD and Series 3 recorders. The Expander is an external device that enables DVRs to record programming over and above their normal limits; the first of the new Expanders is sized at 500GB, which should be enough to hold as much as 300 hours of SD broadcasting, or 60 hours of HD content. The drive remains compatible with Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD, MR and HD-MR DVRs, with certification expected to increase as more DVR makers introduce eSATA functions. The TiVo-ready Expander is being sold at retail and through TiVo's online store for $200.
DF Studio 4.2 released
DigitalFusion today released the latest revision of DF Studio, an update to its online professional photography system that boasts the world's first system for professional image delivery and editing via Apple's iPhone. DigitalFusion's DF Studio 4.2 enables photographers as well as their clients to upload, view, edit, share, and archive digital photographs. The latest release supports sending "imageMesengers" directly from Apple's Aperture post-production photography software, enabling users to customize the viewing experience of recipients specifically for the iPhone. Recipients can also use DF Studio's editing and feedback features from any location with a cellular connection. DF Studio is available for free, and requires Aperture 1.5.1.
Hitachi 'Ultra Thin' LCDs
Hitachi has announced the creation of a new group of HDTV sets, called the Ultra Thin line. The central draw is of course their thickness, measured at 1.5 inches, making them well-suited to mounting or placement in shallow cabinets. Screens will come in 32-, 37- and 42-inch sizes, the latter two supporting 1080p, as well as an "anti-judder" technology that eliminates problems converting from 24fps to 60fps. All sets have a 178-degree viewing angle, and a 6W+6W digital amplifier that powers the speakers.
Sonos ZoneBridge and More
Sonos today undertook a sweeping upgrade to its digital music hub line with a new component as well as important software upgrades. The ZoneBridge 100 (shown) is the first device from Sonos to establish a connection rather than serve as the end point: attaching a ZoneBridge to a router and tapping a button automatically creates a secured wireless mesh network that ZonePlayers and the core Controller can use to navigate and play music, saving potentially difficult setup on existing network devices. It can also serve as a range extender for an existing ZonePlayer setup and has dual Ethernet jacks to either serve as a pass-through on a network or else connect game consoles and other Internet-capable devices, Sonos says. The ZoneBridge 100 is available today for $99.
Freeway 4.4 Pro/Express
Softpress has announced that on Friday, coinciding with the release of Mac OS X Leopard, it will launch v4.4 of Freeway Pro and Freeway Express, its web design utilities. Both are intended to eliminate the need for manual coding, relying mainly on the visual layout of HTML, which is compiled to fit intended design upon publishing to FTP or .Mac; while Express is limited mainly to HTML, Pro switches to XHTML with CSS styling, keeping the option of reverting to tables for older browsers. The v4.4 upgrades will add compatibility with Leopard's "Quick Look" feature, letting users preview documents with more detail before opening them.
ATT Helped by iPhone
AT&T saw its largest number of new cellular subscribers during a summer quarter, the company announced today as part of its latest quarterly report. The telecom firm's wireless division reported an effective gain of about two million new subscribers in the quarter following the iPhone's release in late June, a 46.8 percent increase over the same period a year ago and an all-time record for the season for the carrier, which was already considered the largest in the US. Customer "churn," or the turnover of subscribers, was also lower for the period at just 1.7 percent of the total user base, AT&T said.
PageSender 4.1 fax app
SmileOnMyMac has released an upgrade to PageSender, its Mac-based fax application. Users can send faxes and PDF e-mails directly from the Print dialog, and receive them through a fax modem; these can then be printed, e-mailed, or integrated into AppleScript. Filters sort spam by station name, and live addressing is possible with clients such as Address Book or Entourage. Version 4.1 should make the program fully compatible with Mac OS X Leopard, and has already resolved some visual bugs associated with the operating system. Printing speed and reliability has been improved, and a bug in cover page field substitution has been eliminated. PageSender requires Mac OS X 10.4, and costs $40 in full or $20 as an upgrade. Smile notes that no versions of PageSender will work with Leopard prior to 4.0.
Zune Wisin y Yandel Launch
Microsoft today allowed little time between a Billboard leak and the official release of the Wisin y Yandel Zune, the latest special run of the 30GB hard disk player and the first to be tied to a specific musical group. The limited edition takes a stock, black Zune 30 and adds a customized back design reflecting the Latin duo. Onboard, the device comes with a loaded advance copy of the group's Los Extraterrestres as well as an exclusive single, music videos, and photos that can be used as backgrounds for the interface. Special content will also be made available on the Zune Marketplace, Microsoft added.
Led Zeppelin box on iTunes
A box set containing the entirety of Led Zeppelin's discography, "The Complete Led Zeppelin" (iTunes link), is now available for pre-order on the iTunes Store. Priced at $99, it includes 165 tracks divided into 13 albums, among them a new best-of piece called "Mothership." This is composed of tracks picked by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, and features popular songs such as "Kashmir" and "Whole Lotta Love." The albums of the compilation will be available together or separately starting on November 13th; by pre-ordering Complete or Mothership, buyers are entered to win two tickets to a London reunion concert, scheduled for November 26th. Airfare and hotel booking are included as part of the prize.
Analyst: Stock to hit $210
Apple stock may well be capable of achieving a $210 price point as a result of Monday's Q3 results, says Shaw Wu of American Technology Research. Breaking down results, Wu notes that Apple brought in $6.2 billion in revenue, generating $1.01 in EPS, surpassing concensus views of $6.1 billion and $0.86 EPS. This was driven primarily by an unexpected 200,000 extra Macs being sold, for a total of 2.2 million in the quarter; it was also aided however by 1.1 million in iPhone sales, surpassing expectations of 900,000 to 1 million. Disappointing may be iPod sales, which while still high at 10.2 million, did not go far beyond the low end of the predicted 10 to 11 million.
Samsung 30nm Flash
Samsung late Monday announced that it had produced the world's first working NAND flash memory based on a 30-nanometer manufacturing process, promising a greatly increased storage density over today's chips. The smaller manufacturing technique was made workable through a new technology known as self-aligned double patterning. By stepping up the use of lithography, the company is able to write both a coarser, more conventional pattern of memory cells as well as a finer pattern that fills the gaps; this makes the best use of the available space, Samsung says.
Planet in Peril on iTunes
CNN has announced that its two-part Planet in Peril special, documenting environmental crises across the globe, will be made available at the iTunes Store an unknown period of time after the show's October 23rd and 24th airings. The video has been recorded in HD quality, and will be sold for $1.99 per episode. CNN has taken special effort to promote Planet in Peril to Apple customers; on Sunday the news network screened 40-minute excerpts at Apple Stores in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco.
Retail store profitable Q4
Apple's retail stores were instrumental in Apple's growth during the September quarter. On Monday, the company said its retail division brought in $1.25 billion in revenue and generated $268 million segment margin, which is up from $156 million the year before. During the quarter, Apple opened 12 new stores, bringing its retail location count to 197. With an average of 190 stores open in the past three months, each store brought in, on average, $6.6 million, up from $5.6 million the year prior. With the 200th store just around the bend, Apple's retail future is looking bright.
Dell XPS 420
Dell this morning quietly slipped out the XPS 420, its first significant redesign of the mid-range performance tower in more than a year's time. The new model is housed in a glossy black case and is the first Dell computer of any kind to include a Windows Vista Sideshow LCD; the top-mounted screen lets users play music, view photos, and track basic information through gadgets without having to turn on the full system. An optional internal card, dubbed the Xcelerator, also boosts the system's ability to encode video. Using the hardware to re-encode video for an iPod or similar player takes 25 percent less time and offloads as much as 86 percent of the CPU work, according to Dell's estimates.
Xbox 360 Arcade Official
After a series of retail leaks, Microsoft today has formally released the Xbox 360 Arcade. This replacement for the stripped-down Core system is intended for families and others who need the storage the Core lacks but would stop short of the regular Xbox 360's hard drive; a 256MB flash card provides both room for saved games and a handful of Xbox Live Arcade games, five of which (including Pac-Man and UNO) are loaded out of the box. The Arcade also receives the HDMI output of the Elite and other higher-end models and can output 1080p with surround audio on an optional cable.
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