News

Uncensored South Park on iTMS

From iLounge

Comedy Central has announced that uncensored versions of episodes from South Park this season will be available for purchase from the iTunes Store. The network said the uncensored episodes will be available on iTunes the Tuesday after they premiere beginning on Tuesday, March 13th. The 11th season of South Park launches on Wednesday, March 7th at 10:00 p.m. ET.

“Coming up in the 11th season, viewers can expect a parody of the popular Fox hit series, 24, and Hilary Clinton pays a visit to South Park. There will be plenty of shocking surprises from the legendary fourth-graders,” says Comedy Central.

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UK Apple Resellers Report Steady Sales

From Macworld UK

Apple continues to experience strong demand for all its products in the UK, with strong iPod sales across all models and some products are in short supply. Resellers here report short availability of the entry-level 1.66Mhz Mac mini and iLife '06.

iPod sales remain strong, with an astonishing 120,000+ sales of full-size iPods (combining 30GB and 60GB black and white models) reported across the UK so far during the current quarter, it has been claimed. iPod nano sales are even stronger, with close to 200,000 units sold so far this quarter, Macworld has learned. iPod shuffle sales also appear very strong, with an estimated 140,000 units sold so far in the UK.

This demanding market means that in the UK it appears demand for Apple's music players currently exceeds supply, a trend which denies claims in some quarters that the market is becoming saturated.

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Morgan Stanley Sees Demand for Apple's iPhone Underestimated

From MarketWatch

Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty reiterated her buy rating on Apple Inc. shares saying she believed the market is underestimating the likely success of the iPhone. She raised her 2007 iPhone sales forecast by 33% to 8 million units from 6 million, following a survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers.

Huberty also believes Apple's ability to leverage strong iPhone demand is being underestimated. "While we see positive leverage drivers across Apple's product segment, the iPhone alone increases scale, strengthens retail store leverage and takes advantage of lower memory pricing in the market," Huberty said in a research note.

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Apple to Hold Special Event at NAB

From Macworld

Apple will hold a special event at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show on Sunday, April 15. While no details were available on what, if anything, will be announced at the event, Apple has used such events in the past to launch significant product releases.

In 2005, the company used an event at NAB to launch Final Cut Studio and Soundtrack Pro. A similar event was used to launch Motion in Las Vegas.

Apple will also have a large booth at the show.

(Shawn's Comment: What do you think Apple will announce? New Final Cut Pro? New hardware?)

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CompUSA Closes more than Half of Stores

From Macworld

CompUSA will close more than half of its retail computer and electronics stores in the next two to three months.

In a statement, CompUSA said it would shutter 126 stores — it currently operates 225 — within 90 days as part of a massive restructuring first unveiled last Friday. The restructuring will rely on the store closings, as well as a $400 million cash infusion and other expense reductions. CompUSA did not specify the source of the cash investment.

“Based on changing conditions in the consumer retail electronics market, the company identified the need to close and sell stores with low performance or nonstrategic, old store layouts and locations faced with market saturation,” Roman Ross, CompUSA’s CEO, said in a statement. Earlier this month, rival Circuit City Stores Inc. announced that it also would close stores.

Of the consumer electronics retail chains, one that seems to be weathering the storm is Best Buy. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006, Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy posted a 7 percent increase in comparable store revenue and a 15 percent boost in sales overall.

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iTunes is All "That" to Indie Producers

From Variety

Apple's digital content store is selling "That," a snowboarding pic made for DVD. Apple's digital content store on Tuesday started selling "That," a snowboarding action pic made for DVD by Forum Snowboards. The move represents the first time iTunes has sold video content that didn't come from an established network, studio or distributor.

Though the Mac maker wouldn't comment on future plans, the deal with Forum indicates iTunes will selectively sell video outside of its high-profile deals with companies like Disney, NBC and Lionsgate. Given iTunes' dominance in the nascent digital download market, that's sure to generate hordes of interest among independent film producers in all genres who don't have a distributor.

The deal comes as Apple also started selling content from Wasserman Media Group's Studio411, a financier and distributor of skateboarding, motocross, ski and snowboard vids.

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Apple's Best Buy Pilot: Still Evaluating

From ifoAppleStore

Apple is still evaluating the results of a sales trial with electronics retailer Best Buy, and is considering a pilot with Circuit City to sell Apple products, according to chief operating officer Tim Cook, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology Symposium in Las Vegas. “We are thrilled with the retail stores. We could not be happier,” Cook told the crowd. He said Apple would open 35 to 40 stores this fiscal year, and confirmed for the first time future stores in Rome (Italy) and Sydney (Australia).

Cook said the pilot program with Best Buy was a success, and it was expanded from a handful of stores to 50. Apple is now evaluating that trial to decided how to proceed. Cook would only say that Apple is evaluating the possibility of a sales agreement with Circuit City.

In response to a question about the slower sales growth at the retail stores in the latest quarter, Cook said the Apple was focusing its energy on the “broader channel” by working with resellers more closely, and keeping them stocked. That process shifted revenue from the Apple stores to the channel, he explained.

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Adobe to take Photoshop Online

From CNET

Hoping to get a jump on Google and other competitors, Adobe Systems plans to release a hosted version of its popular Photoshop image-editing application within six months, the company's chief executive said. The online service is part of a larger move to introduce ad-supported online services to complement its existing products and broaden the company reach into the consumer market, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen told CNET News.com.

Chizen said Adobe laid the foundation for a hosted Photoshop product with Adobe Remix, a Web-based video-editing tool it offers through the PhotoBucket media-sharing site.

Like Adobe Remix, the hosted Photoshop service is set to be free and marketed as an entry-level version of Adobe's more sophisticated image-editing tools, including Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Chizen envisions revenue from the Photoshop service coming from online advertising.

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Sony Intros New Cyber-Shot Digital Cameras

From Macworld

Sony has introduced new Cyber-Shot digital point-and-shoot cameras. The new cameras are expected to hit store shelves in March, April and May for prices between $300 to $500 depending on features.

The new DSC-T100 camera features a 5x optical zoom lens and 2.5 inch LCD display, and comes in pink, white, black and silver colors. The DSC-T20 sports a 3x optical zoom and 2.5-inch LCD. Both cameras are 8 megapixel models. The T100 will be released in March and the T20 in April for $400 and $330 respectively.

Both cameras feature high-definition video output; they’re compatible with Sony’s VMC-MHC1 HD component video cable, and they can also be connected via a Cyber-Shot Station dock. HD video output is standard across the new cameras Sony unveiled on Tuesday.

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Missing Sync for BlackBerry Public Preview Released

From Macworld

Mark/Space has released a “public preview” version of its forthcoming The Missing Sync for BlackBerry. The software makes it possible to synchronize data on your Mac with a BlackBerry smartphone.

Like other Missing Sync products for Palm and Windows Mobile devices, The Missing Sync for BlackBerry enables you to synchronize contacts, calendar info, notes and other data with a RIM BlackBerry smartphone, tethered using a USB cable. Owners of the BlackBerry Pearl model or the new 8800 series handsets can also sync iPhoto albums and iTunes playlists (of unprotected audio).

Mark/Space estimates that the release version of the Missing Sync for BlackBerry will be released at the end of the quarter.

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Apple iPod Art Tours Available Free at the iTMS

From Macworld

Holland America Line's iPod-based shipboard art tours are now available as free downloads from iTunes. Each 30- to 40-minute tour showcases the art, antiques and collectables for one of the line's 13 premier five-star ships.

In 2006, Holland America Line pioneered its self-guided tours of each of the shipboard art collections -- together valued at tens of millions of dollars -- the first time a cruise line offered museum-quality self-guided tours to its guests. Recognizing the interest the tours might have to art aficionados as well as onboard cruise guests, Holland America now offers the art tours on iTunes as free podcasts another industry first.

The sheer scope of the shipboard art and antiques distinguishes these tours from most landside museum visits. On the ms Westerdam alone, the pieces range from a huge Indian silver-overlaid wood palace doorway at the entrance to the dining room that measures 92 inches by 69 inches to two jewel-encrusted ostrich eggs. The most valuable piece is a painting of the Port of Rotterdam, and the oldest is a collection of 5,000-year-old pre-Columbian carved limestone figures from Ecuador.

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iPod Tours at SFMOMA

From the San Francisco Chronicle

Patrons at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art can borrow an iPod for $2 and listen to a tour of the museum's two latest exhibits.

Apple donated 100 video iPods to the museum, which have been outfitted specifically with walking tours of its new Picasso and Modern Art and Brice Marden exhibits. The tours are broken into one to two minute snippets, appearing like song tracks on the iPod. And in lieu of album art, it has reproductions of the art.

The SFMOMA has already been producing free museum podcasts, but this is the first time it's offering self-guided iPod tours.

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Ms. Pac-Man Now Available for iPod

From iLounge

Namco announced that the arcade classic Ms. Pac-Man is now available for download on the iTunes Store for fifth-generation iPods. Features of the iPod version of Ms. Pac-Man, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, include the four unique maze designs, 256 maze levels and the “coffee break” animated intervals from the original game. The iPod version also allows players to listen to the original retro game sounds or music from their iPod library while playing. Like other iPod games, Ms. Pac-Man sells for $4.99.

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The Battle for the Heart of the iPhone

From Times Online

The term ‘audio codec’ will be unfamiliar to many, and the device to which it refers will never enjoy the same iconic status as a set of white earphones. But to the millions of listeners who tune into their iPod each day, the tiny audio chip – which costs about $1 – is just as indispensable: it lets them hear the sound.

To Wolfson, the British manufacturer which makes the component for Apple, it’s also a big deal. With shipments of the music player rising to more than 21 million in the last quarter alone, supplying the part exclusively to Apple represents an enormous source of revenue.

Wolfson and several other micro-electronics manufacturers, mostly from Taiwan, are now desperately wooing Apple for the right to have their components included in its next sure-to-be hit: the iPhone, which was launched in San Fransisco last month and begins shipping in June.

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After Marketing Effort, RED Delivers $11.3M

From PSFK

The RED charity brand from the Global Fund has reported that they have raised a total of $11.3 million in contributions in the year that it has launched. 2006 witnessed a huge marketing push which leveraged partners including Nike, GAP and American Express. The charity itself spent less than a million dollars, the LA Times reports but assume the advertising spend by the partners to have been massive.

All the marketing activity behind RED made you aware of the brand, not the underlying message of plight in Africa. If the combined marketing activity raised only $11 million and no one has been left better educated about African concerns, wouldn't it have been better to have just redirected the ad budget straight into the charity?

(Shawn's Comment: Have you bought any (RED) products?)

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EMI Reportedly Ends DRM Talks

From The Seattle Times

EMI Group and online music sellers including Microsoft halted talks aimed at removing copyright protection from songs because they couldn't agree on the size of an advance payment, people briefed on the offer said.

EMI, the third-largest music company, demanded an upfront payment to compensate for its risk in releasing the music without software that prevents copying, the sources said. The retailers countered with a lower offer, which EMI rejected, and negotiations are now on hold, they said.

Discussions included Microsoft, Apple, RealNetworks, Yahoo! and Amazon.com, and a deal with some of them seemed close two weeks ago, the people said. CD sales slid last year, giving the idea traction as record companies look to reverse their fortunes. An announcement with EMI had been planned for as early as Feb. 9, one of the people said.

"It's a setback," Harold Vogel, an independent media analyst in New York, said in an interview. "That this industry fights every change tooth and nail is not helping reverse the tide."

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Apple WWDC Student Scholarship

From Macworld

Apple is offering a student scholarship to its Apple Developer Connection members. Winners of the scholarship get a free ticket to attend the Worldwide Developers Conference and has full access to the technical sessions and events. This scholarship is worth $1,595.

The Worldwide Developers Conference is a technology conference held every year and this year it will be at the Moscone West in downtown San Francisco.

Scholarship applications are due by March 19, 2007 at 5:00 PM PDT.

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1st iPhone Ad!

Study: Consumers Balking at iPhone's Price

From Macworld

Consumers aren’t willing to pay what Apple may ask for the iPhone, but if the price drops they’ll switch their mobile service to AT&T in order to get it, according to results of a survey.

Among the 26% of respondents who said they’re likely to buy an iPhone, only 1% said they'd pay $500 for it. When Apple introduced the iPhone in January, it said it would cost $500 on the low end. 42% of those who said they’re likely to buy the phone said they’d pay $200 to $299.

(Shawn's Comment: I think a lot of folks, right now, if asked in a survey, would say they wouldn't pay the price. But when it becomes available, a lot of those same people will have a strong enough "gadget lust" to open their wallets a *lot* wider than they would like to)

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Camera Makers vie for SLR Buyers' Attention

From Macworld

Camera manufacturers including Canon, Pentax, and Fujifilm will show new digital SLRs for professional photographers at the Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas next month. The new models balance traditional and advanced features to retain existing customers and tempt new ones.

Canon will show the EOS-1D Mark III Digital SLR, an upgrade of its classic 1D model that shoots 10.1 megapixel images at up to 10 frames per second. Fujifilm will show the FinePix S5 Pro which begins shipping this month and Pentax will once again show a prototype medium-format SLR, the 645 Digital, which the company first began talking about in March 2005.

PMA07 takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 8 to March 11.

(Shawn's Comment: Your Mac Life will be attending the PMA show!)

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Canon Intros New Flagship Digital Camera

From Macworld

Canon has introduced its newest EOS digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera aimed at digital photography professionals — the EOS-1D Mark III. It’s scheduled to be released this spring, and while Canon did not specify an exact price, the company said the new camera would be priced similarly to the EOS-1D Mark II N Digital SLR, which debuted for about $4,000.

Billed as the “world’s fastest digital SLR camera,” the EOS-1D Mark III can record bursts of 110 large JPEGs or 30 raw files. It sports a 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, and features an ISO range of 100 to 3200.

A new “Live View” shooting mode lets users use the 3.0-inch LCD screen as a viewfinder.

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Canon Rolls Out New Cameras, Printer

From Macworld

Canon has taken the wraps off new consumer digital cameras, include two new Digital ELPH models, the PowerShot TX1 and two new PowerShot models. It's also introduced a new portable photo printer.

The PowerShot A560 and A570 IS both feature 4x optical zoom, 7.1 megapixel resolution and 2.5-inch LCDs.

The PowerShot TX1 is a combination digital still camera and camcorder. It features a 7.1 megapixel sensor and 10x optical zoom lens.

The newest 7.1 megapixel Digital Elph models in Canon’s lineup include the SD750 and SD1000. The SD750 features a “Touch Control” dial that lets you access operations like mode selection, ISO speed and more. It comes with a three-inch screen.

Canon also introduced the Pixma iP90v, a new portable photo printer that costs $249.99. The new printer is designed for mobile professionals and home users looking for a photo printer that’s easy to take on the road.

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Cisco, Apple Agree to End iPhone Suit, Share Name

From MarketWatch

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) said Wednesday they reached a settlement to their six-week-old legal dispute over Cisco's iPhone trademark and had agreed to share the name. No financial terms were released.

According to a brief statement from the Silicon Valley tech giants, both companies are free to use the iPhone brand name on their products. Cisco said it would end litigation it filed in California and the U.K. to protect the brand.

The companies also said they would explore "opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications." A Cisco spokesperson declined to elaborate on the focus of the interoperability efforts.

The agreement ends the legal wrangling between the two firms that began shortly after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced the company's new iPhone in early January. The pact comes on the day Apple was expected to file its first legal brief in the case.

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Adobe Ships Photoshop Lightroom 1.0

From Macworld

Adobe Systems announced that it has shipped Photoshop Lightroom 1.0, its workflow management software for pro photographers. It’s available through April for $199, then rises to $299.

Photoshop Lightroom lets you manage, adjust and present digital photographs. Like Apple’s Aperture software, Photoshop Lightroom features non-destructive editing capabilities. It’s designed to support the most common formats used by digital cameras, including JPEG, TIFF and raw formats. Photoshop Lightroom supports more than 150 raw formats from a variety of camera makers.

Features include tools for adjusting white balance, exposure, tone curves, lens distortion and color casts. Photoshop Lightroom’s workflow is set up in a modular format.

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Macrovision CEO Asks Apple to Hand Over FairPlay

From PlayList

Fred Amoroso, CEO and President of Macrovision, has responded to Steve Jobs’ recent comments about Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Like Jobs, Amoroso has published his comments on his company’s Web site, as an open letter. In it, Amoroso suggests, among other things, that Macrovision take over stewardship of Apple’s own DRM technology.

Amoroso’s company develops DRM technology widely used in commercial DVDs. It also develops DRM for commercial software publishers and other content creators.

Last week Jobs posted a letter to Apple’s Web site suggesting that Apple would drop DRM from its iTunes Store offerings if record labels were to agree. Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. immediately responded, calling Jobs’ anti-DRM stance a fight “without logic” and suggested to investors that any “manifestos in advance” of discussions between the companies “is counter-productive.”

Amoroso’s letter addresses what he considers to be four key points: That DRM has a broad impact across many types of content, not just music; that DRM “increases not decreases consumer value;” that it will increase electronic distribution; and that DRM needs to be interoperable and open.

Amoroso calls DRM “an important enabler across all content, including movies, games and software, as well as music.”

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Music Execs Criticise DRM

From BBC News

Almost two-thirds of music industry executives think removing digital locks from downloadable music would make more people buy the tracks, finds a survey.

Many of those responding said current DRM systems were "not fit for purpose" and got in the way of what consumers wanted to do.

Despite this few respondents said DRM would disappear in the near future.

Analyst Mark Mulligan, one of the authors of the report, said the survey was carried out between December and January, before Apple boss Steve Jobs published his thoughts on music DRM and galvanised the debate about these protection systems. Mr Mulligan said he was "surprised" at the strength of the responses which came from large and small record labels, rights bodies, digital stores and technology providers.

The study revealed that about 54% of those executives questioned thought that current DRM systems were too restrictive.

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Apple Update Addresses Security, DST

From Macworld

Apple released nine software updates that make adjustments for new Daylight Saving Time, address issues during two security researchers’ self-proclaimed “Month of Apple Bugs,” and fix bugs in Final Cut Pro. The fixes are available now via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update utility.

Five of the updates released Thursday cover new Daylight Saving Time rules put into place for 2007. Beginning in 2007, North American Daylight Saving Time will begin on the second Sunday in March and conclude on the first Sunday in November. Previously, Daylight Saving Time began on the first Sunday in April and concluded on the last Sunday in October.

The current version of Mac OS X was updated to follow those time-change rules as a part of the OS X 10.4.5 update. However, that update did not cover changes in Daylight Saving Time in other regions, including Alberta (Canada), Australia, and Brazil. The new Daylight Saving Time Update (Tiger) adds compatibility with those regions.

Apple also released two Java updates to add compatibility with new Daylight Saving Time rules, one for Mac OS X 10.3 and one for Mac OS X 10.4. Finally, a WebObjects 5.3.3 Update updates Apple’s WebObjects web-application software to be compatible with the new time guidelines.

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Jobs Attacks Teacher Unions

From Houston Chronicle

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers. Jobs compared schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs.

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked to loud applause during an education reform conference. "Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, 'I can't win.'"

In a rare joint appearance, Jobs shared the stage with competitor Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc. Both spoke to the gathering about the potential for bringing technological advances to classrooms.

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said.

"This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

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IFC Offers on iTunes Store

From iLounge

IFC Entertainment today announced the availability of its independent theatrical catalog on Apple’s iTunes Store. Available immediately for purchase and download on iTunes are 13 films, 6 of which are nominated for IFC’s upcoming 2007 Independent Spirit Awards, which will be held on Saturday, February 24th. All IFC films on iTunes will be priced at $9.99. “By making IFC films available on the world’s most popular online movie store we’re giving independent filmmakers the exciting opportunity to reach a wider audience of movie enthusiasts,” said Lisa Schwartz, IFC’s senior vice president of sales and business development.

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Apple Rallies on Strong March Outlook

From International Business Times

Apple Inc. shares rallied on Wednesday after Prudential Equity Group raised its earnings estimate for the firm's current quarter, expecting strong computer sales as well as lower parts costs. After meeting with Apple senior management and industry contacts within the Mac and iPod supply chains, research analyst Jesse Tortora of Prudential raised his FY2007 estimates to $3.40 per share, up 6 cents from previous projections.

Prudential expects seasonal iPod weakness but expects that to be offset by stronger Mac computer sales, as well as a favorable component cost environment.

"The company believes that Adobe’s launch of Creative Suite 3 in Q2 will lead to higher sales for both MacPro and MacBook Pro," Tortora told clients in a note this morning.

Tortora also said that Apple will sell its upcoming iPhone only on its web sites, Apple Stores, and Cingular shops. He expects a majority of iPhone sales to occur in Apple’s stores because he says consumers will want Apple to demonstrate the device's features.

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