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Analyst wary of 2008
Apple has enjoyed a pretty active year, after introducing the new iMacs, the iPhone, Leopard and the iPod touch, but some analysts are predicting that Apple will have a tough follow-up ahead of them in 2008. While the company has brought in record-breaking financial statistics - Apple's market cap sits at $160 billion, up from $60 billion 18 months ago, with stock currently hovering around $185 per share - they have been breaking into new industries and simultaneously making new enemies, according to Fast Company. Steve Hach, a senior analyst at forecaster ValuEngine, argues that Apple's share price does not accurately represent the company's stature in the financial world.
MBS REALbasic plug-ins
Drag-N-Scale 2.0 (free) simple application that makes scaling images easy. Import a folder of images or individual images. Drag the application window resize the displayed image. Batch save all imported images at the new size or save individual images at different sizes. Drag-N-Scale can also email scaled images with the click of a button. Drag-N-Scale is freeware. [Download - 2.8MB]
Cha-Ching 1.2.1 ($40) easy to use money manager, with a slick interface that uses advanced functionality built into OS X. This release features these enhancements: Backup/Restore options now added to Vault options menu; Enhanced Preference panel; Enhanced Add Vault panel; Enhanced paying Scheduler Items through the Master Vault. It also fixed random .Mac panels appearing when performing backup. [Download - 9.4MB]
MBS REALbasic plug-ins 7.7 ($270) a collection of several plug-in parts which extend the REALbasic development environment with over 900 classes and 2 controls featuring over 17000 documented functions. This release adds a Kagi Registration Module plugin for Mac and Windows; improved DynaPDF classes to handle fonts on Mac OS X much better. Now DynaPDF version 184.108.40.2063; Updated EyeOne plugin to EyeOne SDK 3.4. Windows DLL is now included. [Download - 84MB]
Billings 2.5.5 ($60) time tracking and invoicing software from Marketcircle Inc. that delivers professional invoices in minutes. Enhancements in this release include Leopard compatibility. Billings 2.5.5 integrates easily into existing Mac productivity workflows, co-operating fully with Mac OS X's Address Book, publishing events to iCal, and making information available via Spotlight. For optimal performance on any Mac, Billings 2.5.5 is a universal application working on Intel and PowerPC processors. [Download - 18MB]
NetShred X 4.1 ($25) a tool that erases internet tracks such as cache, history and email. NetShred X runs automatically, without user intervention and in the background, so using the software doesn't interfere with the user's web browsing. The tool also incorporates data overwriting functionality that makes it more difficult to recover erased data. This release adds support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and Safari 3. It also adds a custom browser feature to add support for almost any browser or email program. [Download - 2.2MB]
Macs near 7% online market
In aggregate, Mac OS X has achieved nearly 7% of the online market share according to statistics from Net Applications. The "MacIntel" platform garnered 3.59 percent, while the "Mac OS" platform garnered 3.22 percent, for a total of 6.81 percent. Meanwhile, the iPhone appeared on the list, besting Windows CE for a .09 percent share of the online market. Windows XP topped the listing, carrying over 78 percent of the online market. Windows Vista was a distant second, with just over 9 percent. Earlier this year, analysis firm IDC revealed that Apple's share of the US personal computer market grew 26.2 percent year-over-year, pegging the company as the 4th largest vendor in terms of unit shipments with 5.6 percent of the market.
Zevrix Solutions has released BatchOutput PPT 1.0, completing its suite of tools for outputting files to PDF auatomatically from within all Office applications. BatchOutput is also available for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Adobe InDesign. The tool allows users to select the files they wish to output and adjust the settings, then automatically have processing to PDF performed. The tool can run in the background, and enables users to output large print jobs without monopolizing a workstation. BatchOutput can automate output to PDF with virtual printers such as Adobe PDF, CUPS-PDF and others. It can also e-mail, fax, and output multiple documents to other formats using specialized virtual printers. It uses settings from the application Print dialog.
NYPD iPods for recruits
Academy recruits for the New York City Police Department will receive an iPod loaded with training material. Since many of the recruits use mass transit in their daily travels to school, officials decided it would be easier to provide materials in digital format, rather than requiring students to carry around masses of books on the crowded subway system. Reuters says that recruits will be able to see content from subjects like New York State Penal Law, warrants, ethics, and community policing. The announcement said that the information that will be stored on the iPods will not contain any security sensitive information, so that if the iPods are lost by students, the NYPDs operations will not be compromised.
Two music label titans, Sony and Warner Music Group, are increasingly being pressured to follow in the footsteps of their peers are remove the DRM restrictions on digital download versions of tracks in their vast catalogs. The pressure stems partially from the planned announcement of a free download promotion sponsored by Pepsi that will take place through Amazon's online music store. The download promotion will be included in 5 billion of Pepsi's soda bottle-caps, with customers needing to collect 5 caps in order to receive one free download. Pepsi ran a similar, but much smaller-scale promotion in conjunction with Apple's iTunes Music Store in 2004, offering 100 million free tracks, of which about 5 million were redeemed. Amazon's store is DRM-free.
solidThinking Leopard fix
EVOQE has released a new patch for solidThinking, its rendering application for designers, 3D artists and animators. The program is a suite combining tools for solid, surface and NURBS curve modeling, and is described as fully parametric. Some features include a real-time Construction Tree, support for 3D scanners and point-cloud importing, and open architecture through the Plug-Ins Development Kit. The update adds support for Mac OS X Leopard, and remedies several interface problems that were introduced with the new platform. Pricing for the full version of the software is only available on request.
AKVIS Noise Buster 5
AKVIS today unveiled Noise Buster 5.0, introducing a new algorithm designed to reduce digital noise in photographs. Noise Buster is optimized for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and features a new histogram for displaying noise level and noise components. A standalone version of the plugin is also included, allowing users to fix images outside of Photoshop. Users can either set Noise Buster to work automatically, or they can customize the settings and get a specific effect. AKVIS is selling the new version of Noise Buster for $50, and requires Mac OS 10.3.9 or higher.
Green, 8G Eees inbound
The ASUS Eee PC, currently available in 4GB black and white versions, is about to be joined by two new editions, according to various sources. Online retailer Dynamism claims that it will have the promised 8G Eee before the end of December, at a price of $499; this will include not only an expansion to 8GB of storage, but also a doubling of RAM to 1GB. There is as yet no sign of an Eee with a 10-inch screen, hinted at by the Austrian press.
Medion GoPal P4425
In its attempt to stand out from the typical GPS crowd, Medion today updated its GoPal GPS mapping units with the P4425. The 4.3-inch widescreen navigator is the first to include a biometric fingerprint reader built into the device for security. Users just swipe their finger to gain access, Medion boasts. The measure lets drivers leave the device in a car for brief intervals knowing that a thief could not make use of the system. It also prevents having to enter a text password using a more cumbersome touchscreen keyboard.
14th Street Apple store
Apple is opening another retail store in New York at 401 West 14th Street, making it the third store to open in the sprawling metropolis. With already two record-making Apple locations - SoHo was the first to feature the glass staircase, and Fifth Avenue is the store with the large glass cube in front - the company looks to do it again: the large, three-floor location will be Apple's largest in the city. Apple will open the doors to the new location at 6:00PM on Friday, December 7th, in New York's Meatpacking district. Customers that are interested in showing up early will receive commemorative T-shirts and are eligible for other prizes, while supplies last.
Samsung Access and Ace
Both AT&T and Sprint are set to receive unique 3G phones from Samsung in the near future, according to a pair of leaks. The Access for AT&T (pictured) would adopt a candybar shape reminiscent of the UpStage but drop the dual-sided design in favor of a larger screen and directional pad. It will have only a 1.3-megapixel camera but will also support HSPA broadband for AT&T's streaming music and video services. Other specifications are uncertain but are likely to include Bluetooth and a microSD slot for storage. Its release date is uncertain but anticipated for the near future.
FCC to limit cableco size?
The FCC may be nearing the imposition of a cap on the size of cable companies, reports say. A proposed plan currently has the vote of FCC chairman Kevin Martin, as well as the two Democrat members of the Commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. This may virtually guarantee the passing of the resolution, although the two remaining commissioners have not declared their opinions. If it passes muster by the rumored December 18th deadline, the cap will limit corporations to controlling 30 percent of the cable market.
Visual voicemail lawsuit
Apple has been hit with yet another lawsuit concerning the design and implementation of the iPhone. Klausner Technologies, a company that claims to be the inventor of the modern PDA, is suing Apple for $360 million over patents 5,572,576 and 5,283,818, which allegedly describe functionality used by the iPhone's visual voicemail feature. The firm is also suing Comcast, eBay and Cablevision under the same guise. Klausner has already licensed these patents to AOL, Vonage and others. The crux of the suit holds that Apple violated Klausner's patents by allowing users to selectively retrieve voice messages via an inbox-type display.
iTunes Movie Price Claim
Apple has made a rare concession to movie studios and will raise the average selling price of a movie at the iTunes Store in a bid to gain extra support for its service, according to a report (membership required) by Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield. The company will reportedly boost the average wholesale price of a movie to $15, only $3 below the average selling price of a DVD. This is a necessary condition to lure in studios such as 20th Century Fox that have been hesitant to embrace iTunes in the past, Greenfield says. Fox in particular would roll out both its latest titles and earlier movies in exchange for the deal.
Windows Mobile 6.1
Accompanying the launch of the AT&T version of the Motorola Q9 is Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard, which introduces important changes to the Microsoft operating system. Among the most important of these is the ability to copy and paste; while theoretically simple, the feature has long been absent from Windows Mobile, and may ease entering complicated information such as names and e-mail addresses. Users can also perform domain enrolling under Settings, and take advantage of a new home screen where users pan left and right to check call and message notifcations.
Nokia Swivel Camera Patent
Nokia has developed a unique way of incorporating a camera into a phone that can adjust for different shooting modes while improving quality of the resulting shots, a patent filing published late last week reveals. The design would rest the camera in a bar mounted sideways at the top of the phone, taking up no more space than an average camera; it could then swivel when the user wants to capture photos to face both outwards for everyday images or inwards for self-portraits and video calls. Such an invention would allow more advanced sensors and lenses to fit with the same flexibility as many other phones, Nokia says.
Creative 32GB ZEN Official
(Updated with US launch info) Creative today became the first mainstream firm to launch a 32GB media player using flash memory instead of a rotating hard disk, outperforming Apple and similar firms that remain at 16GB. Ending a series of leaks, the company's ZEN 32GB reaches its capacity while weighing just 2.3 ounces and sharing the same surface area as a credit card, Creative says. Its battery life is also long at 30 hours of music and five hours of video; the extra space allows it to hold as many as 8,000 standard-quality tracks or 120 hours of video clips. An SDHC slot allows dropping 8GB or more of storage into the player when it runs low on free space.
Samsung, Toshiba NAND
Samsung and Toshiba have announced an unusual deal connecting the companies' memory technology. Through a new agreement, Samsung will be able to produce and sell memory using Toshiba's LBA-NAND name and specifications, while Toshiba will in turn gain the rights to Samsung's OneNAND. Device builders will thus be able to turn to either company for either memory format. Although normally a move not conducive to profit, the deal should be mutually beneficial in the unique conditions of the NAND market, which recently recovered from a crippling shortage.
iPhone battery pack debuts
mStation today unveiled an iPhone battery pack extender device that comes pre-charged and ready for use. The device, called mophie juice pack, houses a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with an ergonomic comfort-grip case as well as a soft non-slip finish. The mophie juice pack is due to ship in mid-December for $100, while an iPod-touch version will surface in January of next year.
Jobs to kick off Macworld
Apple CEO Steve Jobs will once again deliver the opening keynote address at the Macworld Conference & Expo to kick off this year's gathering of Apple-oriented fans and companies. Each year Jobs has historically used the keynote address as a stage for introducing new products and/or services, and this year analysts say the company could debut a new Apple-branded ultra-portable subnotebook.
Belkin 2-to-1 HDMI switch
Accessory maker Belkin has released a new AV product, the HDMI 2-to-1 Video Switch. The device lets users connect two HDMI devices -- such as Apple TVs and HD DVD players -- to a single HDMI or DVI port, whether on a computer monitor or an HDTV.
Resolutions between 480i and 1080p are available on any of the supported connections, and the switch always defaults to the highest single-link video resolution. Inputs are not chosen automatically, but an infrared remote is bundled in the package. The switch is available now in Canada and the US for approximately $50 to $55; Asia, Europe and Australia will receive it in March of 2008.
MSI PR200 Crystal Edition
MSI today added a twist to its smallest notebook with the PR200 Crystal Edition. Looking to appeal to a certain side of its female audience, the system builder's version of the 12-inch portable switches from black to pearl white and adds 120 crystals to the ring around the MSI logo to provide a pseudo-upscale appearance; it also comes with a color-matching mouse and a 1GB USB flash drive also topped with crystals to match its host system.
AT&T warning Apple?
The official revelation of a 3G iPhone may have been a deliberate and expensive message to Apple, says tech columnist Robert Cringely. By letting the public know a 3G iPhone was coming in 2008, says Cringely, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has deprived both Apple and AT&T of important revenue, since media-savvy shoppers may delay their spending not only on the iPhone itself, but also on the requisite two-year AT&T contract. This could be equivalent to a loss of one million customers for AT&T, a market cap of approximately $1 billion.
Qualcomm 700MHz 3G
In an aggressive step, Qualcomm on Monday announced the RTR6570, the first new cellular chipset designed with upcoming 700MHz wireless networks in mind. The transceiver explicitly supports the longer ranges and higher speeds made possible through the new frequency, even if they use competing standards: a device using the chipset could connect both to a CDMA network (such as Sprint or Verizon) as well as an HSPA or UMTS (AT&T and potentially T-Mobile) networks adapted to the newly opened airwaves.
Equinux VPN Tracker 5
Equinux on Monday debuted VPN Tracker 5, its next-generation IPSec-based VPN client for Mac OS X. VPN Tracker 5, the company said, has been completely re-written from the ground up and optimized for use on remote workstations. Featuring an entirely new user interface, VPN Tracker 5 also brings a greatly improved IPSec engine and a number of other features for working within workgroups. The company said the new user interface makes it easier to configure and manage connections and a new interactive help system points out necessary settings as well as uncovers configuration errors. In addition, VPN Tracker scans the error log and suggests what needs to be done to fix any problems, thereby reducing the number of support requests.
SATA, eSATA upgrades
IOGEAR on Monday introduced new Serial ATA (SATA) and External SATA (eSATA) products, including PCI and PCI-Express card adapters, enclosures, and cables. The new storage upgrades and accessories offer a faster, cost-effective option for increasing their disk drive speeds, the company said. The new product line facilitates data transfers at speeds up to 3Gbps -- six times quicker than USB 2.0, while the SATA PCI and PCI-Express solutions also add RAID (redundant array of independent disks) capabilities to existing laptops and desktops. IOGEAR's new enclosure converts internal SATA hard disk drives into durable external USB 2.0 or eSATA drives that can take full advantage of the robust SATA feature set.
WD Passport 320GB
Western Digital today raised the threshold for its external notebook drives with the Passport 320GB. Taking advantage of its self-made Scorpio drive, the updated Passport stores its extra content without sacrificing size or weight. The entire piano-black case and drive weigh less than five ounces and is powered solely over the USB bus, the storage maker notes.
NBC videos leave iTunes
As promised, NBC Universal's videos were this weekend pulled from the iTunes Store, leaving the site's video content considerably diminished. Material from the TV network and its affiliated companies once accounted for 40 percent of all video on iTunes, and included some of the most popular downloads, such as Battlestar Galactica and The Office, the latter of which was even featured in an iPhone keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
AT&T Quits Pay Phone Biz
AT&T today revealed that it would leave the public pay phone business by the end of 2008, marking the near-end of the device in the US. The carrier points to the rapid growth of the cellphone in recent years as well as other "personal communication devices." There is no incentive to continue making and supporting fixed pay phones when that market is shrinking and likely to disappear altogether, according to the company. The provider poitns to a sheer drop in the past ten years which has seen the number of phones drop from 2.6 million as recently as 1998 to 1 million in 2007.
ExpressCard wireless n/b/g
QuickerTek Monday introduced a wireless upgrade for MacBook Pro owners. The new ExpressCard wireless adapter adds 802.11b/g/n WiFi access for maximum networking compatibility using triple antennas located outside of the "wireless signal-degrading (but beautiful) 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro case." In addition, the wireless upgrade also works with all Apple AirPort Base Stations including the 802.11n AirPort Extreme from Apple. The company said that the triple antennas provide the highest speed MIMO specification wireless performance and that virtually any wireless network running 802.11b/g/n equipment on 2.4GHz range is available. The MacBook Pro Wireless ExpressCard is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor and is available now for $150.
TiVo Photo Streaming
TiVo today revealed that its digital video recorders will all support streaming photos directly from online image sites such as Photobucket and Picasa, allowing subscribers to its service to view and distribute images to TVs without buying a second media hub. The feature supports viewing one's own collection and viewing others, but also allows users to view customized feeds regardless of the owner. A subscriber can view photos from either service by keyword tags that automatically update as new images are posted online.
German iPhone ruling Tues.
A ruling on German sales of the iPhone has been delayed by one day, the Hamburg District Court has announced. A judge had been set rule Monday on T-Mobile's appeal of an injunction granted to Vodafone, but an unspecified issue has pushed the decision to Tuesday afternoon. The preliminary injunction was issued in late November, when Vodafone charged that the exclusive availability of the iPhone through T-Mobile was unfair; in filing its appeal, T-Mobile stated that it would consider seeking damages for lost sales.
Cintiq 12WX and 20WSX
Wacom today greatly expanded its Cintiq tablet displays with its first widescreen models and also its first screens in the US smaller than 21 inches. The 20WSX is claimed as the world's only 20-inch widescreen stylus display and matches the same 1680x1050 resolution as a view-only LCD while still offering the same programmable shortcut keys and dual touch controls for scrolling and zooming. This effectively mirrors a modern desktop display for artists and other visual editors, according to Wacom. The 20WSX ships for $1,999.
Nokia Internet Radio
Nokia today gave owners of its 3G smartphones a new alternative for music with the launch of its self-run Internet Radio service. The software is built not just to stream radio directly to the phone but also to encourage finding new music through filtering radio stations: users can not only sort the "hundreds" of stations Nokia says it lists by their names or genres, but narrow them down to specific countries or even languages; top ten lists also let users find stations based on their popularity. Like many streaming services, Nokia's service also features track data whenever available.
Samsung GDDR5 Memory
Samsung began the week by revealing GDDR5, the latest incarnation of double data rate memory built specifically for video cards. The technology is billed as the fastest memory available of any kind and provides information to a graphics chipset as quickly as 6 gigabits per second -- nearly twice as fast as the 3.2 gigabits found on the more commonly used GDDR3 format, Samsung says. On a typical 512 megabit design with 32 stacked chips, this amounts to 24 gigabytes of bandwidth that the firm claims is enough to play 16 DVD videos at once. This memory is also 20 percent more power-efficient than the earlier graphics technology.
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