Mac maker far surpasses rivals, even bests its own previous score
While after-sale support is not always a priority factor in most consumers' tech buying decisions, tales of Apple's superior customer support are legendary. On Monday, Consumer Reports reinforced Apple's stellar service reputation with yet another top ranking as America's best computer tech support vendor. Apple has been the top-ranked support provider overall for at least the last 10 years, and even managed to improve its 2012 score in this year's survey.
Slacker Radio Plus giveaway
Time is running out to enter the Slacker Radio Plus giveaway. Electronista is giving away two 1-year subscriptions to Slacker Radio Plus, and three 3-month subscriptions to the service as well.
Silverado 5yr AppleCare
Silverado, a California-based Apple dealer, has announced that it will automatically extend AppleCare coverage from three years to five years for all professional-grade Mac systems purchased after January 1st, 2009. For the first three years of standard coverage, customers can obtain normal service through Apple. During years four and five, Silverado, at its discretion, will determine eligibility for repair or replacement.
Mobile Me problems persist
Glitches in Apple's MobileMe service persist five days after its launch, with users unable to access either the HomePage creation tool to make or edit web sites, as well as .Mac groups. The problems have sat silently since July 10th, with a notice informing users that the issues would be solved in short order, and no other explanation for the issue. Users affected by the HomePage outage can still use iWeb or a third-party website creation tool as a supplement.
Transgaming game portal
TransGaming has announced the launch of an online download portal for Mac games, bringing the same kind of service PC and console owners have known for years. Game Tree Online will complement the firm's Cider Portability Engine, which has allowed publishers to port a number of successful games to the Mac Platform since its introduction in 2006. In addition to providing online purchase, Game Tree Online will provide news and game promotions, and will allow users to post reviews.
MO-Call for iPhone
Morodo on Friday unveiled an iPhone-compatible web app version of its MO-Call low-cost calling service, allowing iPhone users to place international calls at low per-minute rates. The service requires an account signup at the company's mobile website, and Morodo is currently offering a free trial of the service for users in Canada, the US, and Hong Kong. International rates start at around 8¢ per minute for calls to land lines.
Apple's .Mac service, once a promising method for sharing media, performing online backups and more, has paled in the presence of free alternatives and represents an untapped opportunity for Apple according to a recent report from CNET. The articles posits "$99 a year is hard to justify for the .Mac service. 10GBs of storage? I can get that for $20 from Google, and I can get much more if I want it. Photo sharing? I can do that for free on Flickr, and upload as many photos and videos as I want for $24.95 a year. Build my own Web site? Lots of services offer that capability for free."
Microsoft Zune ad service
Microsoft on Thursday revealed its plans for an advertising network built into its Zune media players, offering advertisers a direct line to consumers through the device. Yahoo writes that the company demonstrated the concept using a phony Doritos mockup. In the example, a user could befriend a musician through the Zune social page on a Doritos’ sponsored concert to view news and updates on the artist’s profile.
Outdoor enthusiasts now have instant access to trail maps right from their iPhones. Podpro is offering a free service for skiers and snowboarders that delivers instant access to more than thirty-three of North America's most popular ski resorts. With Podpro's service users can retrieve live weather reports, ski conditions, as well as lodging options from anywhere.
Cell carriers vs. FCC
Cellular carriers are working hard to combat a new FCC regulation that would force all cellphone service providers with half a million subscribers or more to install 8-hour backup systems at almost every cell transmitter site across the U.S. The rule, which the FCC drafted after Hurricane Katrina knocked out hundreds of cell towers and sites along the Gulf Coast in 2005, is designed to strengthen the nation's communication system to help save lives during future disasters. Wireless carriers argue that the regulation was illegally drafted and that it would impose a huge economic and bureaucratic burden, according to the Associated Press.
Windows, Xbox Live issues
Some users of Microsoft's "Live" services have reported difficulties trying to sign in with their Windows Live IDs. According to The Associated Press the problem is affecting many services, such as the Xbox Live community, as well as the Windows Live Messenger application. The issue is not comprehensive, as some users are able to sign in to the services without an issue. Microsoft has acknowledged the problem, but did not mention when a fix would be available.
TalkShoe comes to iPhone
Community chat service TalkShoe has come to iPhone, bringing live phone calls together with online chat. The service presents users with a Web-based interface to host live discussions, according to Yahoo News, and is designed to facilitate discussions about podcasts or other events in real time as they progress. TalkShoe's new iPhone interface allows users to take part in community calls, while registered users can use an iPhone to conduct as well as manage those calls. iPhone users have access to a link that automatically dials in and participates in a call, allowing up to 250 people to talk together simultaneously.
DriveSavers iPhone service
DriveSavers unveiled an iPhone recovery service at Macworld Expo in January, offering users the opportunity to save essential data from a malfunctioning iPhone that was not backed up. The service is able to recover pictures and critical data, once all other possible recovery alternatives have been exhausted. DriveSavers advertises a five to seven day turnaround for the recovery service, and costs anywhere from $500 to $1400, depending on the quality of the recovery.
BlackBerry devices on Monday saw a major service outage over the US and Canada, that spread across all service providers. According to Yahoo News, RIM did not comment on the outage, which Yahoo says is predictable behavior, based on a similar incident from April of last year. In the past, RIM has remained quiet on service outages for quite some time, then finally providing a cryptic answer. It is unknown how many users were affected during the outage; some users were able to access their device later that afternoon.
Nokia opens door to Apple
Nokia has offered Apple a chance to join its Ovi Web portal, which would integrate the iTunes Store with the company's own collection of services -- including the Nokia music store, photo sharing, and access to services like Flickr. "In Finnish, Ovi means door. And our door is open. Of course, Apple can get into our portal. We even invite (Apple Inc chief executive) Steve Jobs to do so," said board member Anssi Vanjoki. Vanjoki also said that Apple's iTunes Store would be an enrichment for Nokia's customers, according to Thomson Financial.
Stream music to iPhone
Orb Networks has released an application that streams music from a Windows-based PC over the internet to select iPhones, effectively making entire music collections available to iPhone owners on-the-go. Users install the Orb application on a Windows PC where music is stored, then surf to the free service at mycast.orb.com using an iPhone to play any track stored on the home computer. Orb also enables users to send friends text messages with links to music, and the software is available for free.
.Mac is no. 2 seller
Apple's second hottest seller this year has been little more than an empty box, since the company's retail stores are selling large amounts of the .Mac packages – largely due to the integration of the service with Mac OS X and iLife. Computerworld reports that the .Mac retail box, which contains a serial number on a slip of paper and empty space for the most part, has been leaping off shelves at the Apple stores. According to NPD research analyst Chris Swenson, this could indicate a growing trend with software developers, offering a boxed idea or service, rather than distributing software for users to install on their machine.