News

Apple responds on missing Flash in New MacBook Air

The other day, we reported on the fact that those tiny new MacBook Airs are shipping without a pre-installed version of Flash. Based on Apple's recent, vocal anti-Flash opinions, we took it as a sign that the company was putting even more distance between itself and Adobe, but according to a statement we've just received, that might not be the case.

Apple spokesman Bill Evans just pinged us with the official word on the situation, claiming that it has more to do with making sure users have the most recent version of the software and less to do with politics. Here's the word from Apple:

We're happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac, and the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe.

Interestingly, he also notes that this will be happening across all Macs in the future, though there may be some models still in the channel with Flash pre-installed.

Obama meets with Apple CEO Jobs

President Barack Obama met on Thursday afternoon in San Francisco with Apple Inc Chief Executive Steve Jobs, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"They discussed American competitiveness and education, especially reforms such as the President's Race to the Top initiative," Gibbs said in a statement.

Obama and Jobs also talked about energy independence and ways to increase job creation, Gibbs added.

Apple not committing to Java Support in Mac OS X 10.7

Apple hints it doesn't plan to support Java in future versions of Mac OS X.

In a quiet update yesterday Apple indicated that its support for Java on Macs isn't long for this world. Apple released an updated version of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, but warned that they won't be doing that again:

As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the version of Java that is ported by Apple, and that ships with Mac OS X, is deprecated.
This means that the Apple-produced runtime will not be maintained at the same level, and may be removed from future versions of Mac OS X. The Java runtime shipping in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, will continue to be supported and maintained through the standard support cycles of those products.

In other words: Apple is discouraging the use of Java on its computers for the future, with the strong hint that it's going to stop supporting it altogether.

Nielsen: 32% of iPad Owners have never downloaded an App

The growing popularity of connected devices – especially Apple’s iconic tablet computer, the iPad – are starting to change the how people consume media. And with sales of these devices expected to be a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster holiday shopping season, everyone, be they media companies, publishers, apps developers, advertisers, device manufacturers and wireless carriers are all trying to understand how to leverage this emerging segment.

The Nielsen Company recently surveyed more than 5,000 consumers who already own a tablet computer, eReader, netbook, media/games player, or smartphone to get a better sense of who is using these devices and how they are using them.

• Four percent of U.S. households now own tablet computers
• The iPad trumps the iPhone for “print” and video viewing
• A majority of iPad owners have already downloaded and paid for content

Apple Store opens on Cruise Ship

Cancom has opened an Apple store on a boat. Working with historic shipping company Cunard, the Apple reseller has opened an on-board Apple Store called the iRange Store. The store can be found on the 960-foot long Queen Elizabeth cruise ship. On-board and in-store you will find MacBook Pros, iPads, iPods and more of the latest Apple technology.

"With the latest Apple technology and trained staff, iRange offers a friendly and enthusiastic environment with all the whistles and bells of a Cancom APR store," claims Cancom.

Summary: Apple previews OS X Lion, updates iLife and MacBook Air

The next major version of OS X took center stage at an Apple press event Wednesday, but it wasn’t the only Mac-centric news to come out of Cupertino. In addition to previewing Mac OS X 10.7—which Apple calls “Lion”—the company also released an updated version of iLife, rolled out a dekstop version of its FaceTime video-conferencing application, and revamped its MacBook Air lineup.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs called Mac OS X Lion the “entrée” of Wednesday’s press event, though the company didn’t offer extensive information about its next major OS X update. Lion is slated to arrive in summer 2011.

The central focus of the Mac OS X update will be to bring many features of the mobile iOS operating system to the desktop, including the ability to use full-screen applications and a Launchpad for launching all of the applications on your Mac. A Mission Control feature will expand on Exposé, giving users a view of open full-screen applications, the Dock, and the desktop.

Mac OS X Lion will also introduce a Mac App Store similar to the mobile App Store for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Users will be able to download Mac applications from the store, though Jobs stressed that developers would still be able to sell their offerings as they do now. A Mac App Store will open in 90 days for use with Mac OS X 10.6.

RIM CEO slams Apple 'Distortion Field'

Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie has accused Apple of creating a "distortion field" and spreading half-truths, but he predicted that even Apple fans will soon grow tired of its stories.

Balsillie was the latest to respond to the barbs that Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivered during his company's quarterly earnings call on Monday. Jobs used the call to criticize competitors including Android and RIM and to downplay potential competitive threats to the iPad from forthcoming 7-inch tablets.

Balsillie took issue with the figures that Jobs used to compare phone sales and argued that customers and developers want a more open platform than Apple offers.

Steve Jobs drops by Apple Earnings Call to take Jabs at Competition

Monday afternoon Apple announced another quarter of record sales and earnings. Though iPod sales were down—a trend expected in a saturated market—Mac sales, iPad sales, and iPhone sales especially were up. Revenue and profits were also up, and the company is sitting on something approaching a $41 billion dollar cash hoard. So why, then, did CEO Steve Jobs—who doesn't normally participate in earnings calls—spend a good amount of time pointing out how its smartphone and tablet competitors just "don't get it?"

The answer is two-fold. Jobs was addressing concerns that analysts and shareholders have about the effect that competing mobile platforms—particularly Android—will have on Apple's iOS ecosystem. (Jobs' belief: not much.) But Jobs was also addressing the media and, by extension, the consumer base at large, attempting to reframe the debate about Apple's "closed" approach versus Android's "open" approach. He also touted Apple's attention to detail that goes into every part of the product, from the hardware to the software.

So far, the numbers Apple reported for the fiscal fourth quarter—which included over $20 billion in revenue—suggest Apple's approach is working, and may in fact be winning.

Apple reports 4th Quarter Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2010 fourth quarter ended September 25, 2010. The Company posted record revenue of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $12.21 billion and net quarterly profit of $2.53 billion, or $2.77 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 36.9 percent compared to 41.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 57 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold 3.89 million Macs during the quarter, a 27 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 91 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 9.05 million iPods during the quarter, representing an 11 percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. The Company also sold 4.19 million iPads during the quarter.

“We are blown away to report over $20 billion in revenue and over $4 billion in after-tax earnings—both all-time records for Apple,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter. We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year.”

US, Canada have priciest Cell Phone Plans in the World

Mobile users in the US and Canada tend to pay more for a complete cell phone package than anyone else in the world, according to a new report from the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative (OTI). The foundation examined the different types of mobile packages in various countries in order to determine the minimum cost for voice minutes, texting, and data, and found that—surprise!—countries with more competition and more regulation tended to have the best pricing.

OTI examined prepaid, unlimited, and postpaid plans in 11 countries in order to determine the best rates in each. Overall, the foundation said that mobile users in the US need to pay at least $59.99 for a complete cell phone package that includes voice, text, and data. Comparatively, users in Canada must pay US$67.50—making Canada the only country to top the US.

New York Times releases Full iPad App

The New York Times released a full app for the iPad Friday. NYTimes for iPad replaces the Editor’s Choice app for iPad, and offers access to the full newspaper experience on Apple’s tablet. The app is free, but in 2011 the company will institute a pay wall, which means users will then have to pay a subscription to access The Times through the app.

While the newspaper had a dedicated iPhone app, its initial entry into the iPad app market was the very limited Editor’s Choice which offered but a few stories. The new iPad app brings many of the features of the Web site to a native app for the device. The app also features push notifications for breaking news that can be toggled off through the Settings button in the lower right corner.

The app is free (for now) and is available at the App Store.

MobileMe Calendar emerges from Beta

After an extended public beta period that began in July, Apple on Thursday announced that MobileMe Calendar is now available to all MobileMe users.

Apple significantly updated MobileMe Calendar’s interface to more closely resemble the calendar app included in the iPad. The new calendar service has redesigned day, week and month views and a new list view.

But there’s a lot of new functionality under the hood, as well.

Apple brings iPad to Verizon

Apple and Verizon announced Thursday that Big Red will begin selling iPads at 2,000 Verizon Wireless Stores beginning Thursday, October 28th. Apple hasn’t begun making a CDMA equipped iPad Wi-Fi + 3G, but Verizon will instead be bundling the device with a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot Device for roughly the same price as the 3G enabled iPads Apple sells with AT&T.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless to get iPad into the hands of even more customers this holiday season,” Apple COO Tim Cook said in a statement. “iPad allows users to connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before, and together with Verizon Wireless we’re offering an easy way to stay connected wherever you go.”

Verizon will sell iPad Wi-Fi + MiFi for $0.99 more than the equivalent iPad Wi-Fi + 3G. Verizon will also sell iPads as standalone WiFi-only devices. Verizon is selling a data plan for the MiFi with this bundle for $20, which will allow customers up to 1GB of data.

Tango App dancing to a Happy Tune

That was fast. The Tango video chatting app for the iPhone has topped one million downloads in the ten days since it launched in the iTunes store.

The free app allows phone-to-phone video chat, but unlike the Apple FaceTime app, Tango doesn't require WiFi. It works just fine over 3G networks, and also unlike FaceTime, it allows chatting with people on many models of Android phones too.

The company reports 40% of the downloads of the app are from the U.S., but users in 125 countries have grabbed Tango.

AAPL closes over $300 For 1st Time

Shares in Apple Inc. closed over US$300 per share for the first time Wednesday, ending the day at $300.14, a gain of $1.60, on moderately strong volume of 19.9 million shares trading hands. This marks the fourth record high close in a row.

As noted throughout the week, one catalyst for the stock’s run-up in price has been the approach of the company’s September quarter’s earnings announcement, which is scheduled for Monday, October 18th. Investors have been bullish on rumors that Apple was going to bring the iPhone to Verizon, as well.

Another positive factor adding to today’s advances was speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve is about to ease monetary supply (i.e. print more money and make it cheaper for banks to borrow it). Coupled with early earnings reports with surprise on the upside from some major U.S. corporations, the major stock indexes have gained each of the last four sessions, just as AAPL has.

Apple patents 'Anti-Sexting' Technology

Apple has patented technology that could be used by parents to prevent their kids from sending sexually explicit text messages -- or "sexting."

The technology, which has not been commercialized, would let a phone's administrator block an iPhone from sending or receiving texts with certain words.

Messages containing blocked material either would not be received or would have the objectionable content redacted. Unlike other text blockers, Apple's version would also be able to filter content based on a child's grade level and claims to filter abbreviated words that maybe missed by other programs.

The patent, awarded Tuesday, does not address the sending or receiving of explicit images.

Apple now 3rd Largest PC Seller in U.S.

U.S. computer sales were pretty disappointing during the past three months, unless you're talking about Macs.

According to the Quarterly PC Tracker Survery released by IDC today, Apple shipped 1.99 million Macs in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2010. That's good for 10.6 percent of the 18.9 million PCs shipped in the U.S., putting Apple's share at its highest in the U.S. in the company's history, according to IDC.

While that's still far behind Hewlett-Packard's 24.3 percent share and Dell's 23.1 percent share, both of those companies' shipments remained relatively static over the last year. Apple saw its shipments grow 24 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

And it's not just the sales growth of HP and Dell it's besting: the entire U.S. PC market during the third quarter grew just 3.8 percent from a year ago (even though it was forecast at 11 percent), meaning Apple shipments of Macs grew at eight times the rate of everyone else. It's fairly remarkable considering the lingering weakness in the economy and the company's computers having been saddled with the "too expensive" label--whether accurate or not.

So why is Apple doing so well selling computers now? IDC analyst David Daoud says the iPad may actually be one of the reasons.

iPhone 4 Glass breaking 82% more than iPhone 3GS

Synopsis: SquareTrade analyzed iPhone accidents for over 20,000 iPhone 4s covered by SquareTrade Care Plans and found a 82% increase in reported broken screens compared to the iPhone 3gs.

Highlights of the study include:

- iPhone 4 owners reported 82% more damaged screens in the first 4 months compared to iPhone 3gs owners.
- Overall, the reported accident rate for iPhone 4s was 68% higher than for the iPhone 3gs.
- An estimated 15.5% of iPhone 4 owners will have an accident within a year of buying their phone.

Apple announces "Back to the Mac" OS X Preview for October 20

Apple has just sent out invitations to a special media event on Apple's campus that will focus on the Mac. The event will take place on October 20 at 10am Pacific Time at Apple's Town Hall building, and Apple says that it will include "a sneak peek of the next major version of Mac OS X."

On top of Mac OS X, Apple watchers have been waiting for a new MacBook Air for quite some time now, along with a bump to the rest of the MacBook line.

Apple sure does know how to send its fans into a frenzy ahead of the Christmas season. What are you expecting to hear out of next week's announcement?

Wal-Mart lands Agreement to Sell iPad

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it will start selling Apple Inc.'s iPad on Friday at hundreds of stores throughout the U.S. Wal-Mart landed the tablet computer a little later than two of its largest retail rivals: Best Buy Co., which has been selling the iPad since its launch in April, and Target Corp., which began carrying it this month.

The Bentonville, Ark., retail giant said that what it lacked in timeliness it will make up for in sales heft. It vowed to slowly ramp up the number of U.S. stores carrying the iPad to more than 2,300 by the height of the holiday season in mid-November.

Wal-Mart will also offer the iPad for sale through its Walmart.com website, and orders placed online will only be available for pickup through stores, not home delivery, mimicking similar restrictions on other Apple products sold at Wal-Mart, said Wal-Mart spokesman Ravi Jariwala.

Apple settles Backdating Suit with NYCERS

Apple Inc. has agreed to settle a securities class-action lawsuit related to alleged stock-option backdating for $16.5 million, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System said Wednesday. NYCERS initially filed suit as lead plaintiff against Apple roughly four years ago, alleging that the consumer-electronics maker improperly backdated stock options for employees between 2001 and 2006.

In a statement Wednesday, New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said the settlement with Apple includes $14 million to be distributed to shareholders, “along with the establishment of key corporate-governance reforms at the company.”

An Apple representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Motorola asks ITC, Two Federal Courts to throw Book at Apple

Motorola has launched the next offensive in an increasingly confusing legal war over mobile patents. The company, through its Motorola Mobility subsidiary, has filed patent infringement complaints against Apple in both Northern Illinois and Southern Florida federal district courts. It has also asked the International Trade Commission to block Apple from importing, marketing, or selling iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, and "some Mac products."

The multiple lawsuits come just days after Microsoft launched a major patent infringement suit against Motorola, claiming its Android-based smartphones infringe on nine of its patents. Android has also been the target of a lawsuit levied by Oracle against Google over the use of Java. Patent infringement claims are also pending between Apple and HTC, Apple and Nokia, and numerous other companies competing in the smartphone space.

While many of these lawsuits could take several years to wind their way through the courts, it has become clear that patent licensing has become an enormous legal albatross for anyone attempting to build and sell a smartphone in this burgeoning market. Given the stakes involved—smartphones are one of the biggest consumer electronics segments by sales revenue—we expect a protracted fight, and it's hard to imagine the outcome will be pretty.

Revamped Interface highlights GraphicConverter Update

For years, Mac users have raved about GraphicConverter’s photo-editing and batch-conversion prowess. They’ve been less keen on the image-conversion tool’s interface. But developer Lemke Software hopes to tackle that criticism head on with the latest version of GraphicConverter.

GraphicConverter 7, now available for download, features a completely new user interface. In addition to the new user interface, GraphicConverter 7 offers a new window for multiple conversion as well as stepless zooming of preview images in the browser.

GraphicConverter 7 runs on Mac OS X 10.5 and later. Existing users can upgrade for $26; the full version costs $40.

iPad Adoption Rate fastest in Electronics Product History

Some people still doubt the iPad's chances for success, but current sales rates suggest that the device could rank among top consumer electronics categories within a year. As noted by Bernstein Research analyst Colin McGranahan, consumers are adopting the iPad faster than any other consumer electronics device, including the iPhone and the near-ubiquitous DVD player.

"The iPad did not seem destined to be a runaway product success straight out of the box," said McGranahan in a recent note to investors, acknowledging the many criticisms about the iPad's lack of certain features at launch. "By any account, the iPad is a runaway success of unprecedented proportion."

The iPad's current sales rate is approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, according to Bernstein. That tops the 1 million per quarter that the original iPhone sold at launch, and the 350,000 per quarter when DVD players first launched.

iPhone User Privacy at risk from Apps that transmit Personal Info

The user data collected by some iOS apps can be correlated to real-world identities, posing a privacy risk to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users. According to research from Bucknell University, a majority of iOS apps transmit user data back to their own servers. But because some store more info than others—and in some cases, in plaintext—it can be easily pieced together to reveal more about individual users than they bargained for.

Bucknell University Assistant Director of Information Security and Networking Eric Smith...and his team studied a total of 57 applications from the App Store—a combination of the Top 25 Free apps as well as some from the News: Top Free app sections. Sixty-eight percent of those applications transmitted the device's UDID back to the app's servers, though "several instances" were encrypted via SSL.

This in itself isn't much cause for alarm—it's likely that your own UDID has been bandied about a few times online already. However, Smith warned that many of the apps that collected UDID data also requested user credentials, and that personally identifiable information was often affiliated with their accounts. Apps that did so included ones from Amazon, Chase Bank, Target, and Sam's Club.

Apple loses Mirror Worlds Document Display Trial

Apple Inc. was ordered by a jury to pay damages to Mirror Worlds LLC for infringing patents related to how documents are displayed on a computer screen.

The federal jury in Tyler, Texas, awarded $208.5 million in damages for each of the patents infringed. The verdict form was unclear as to whether the amount applies to the three patents collectively or would be charged individually. Lawyers for closely held Mirror Worlds declined to discuss the verdict.

Mirror Worlds, a software business started by a Yale University computer-science professor David Gelernter, claimed Apple’s iPod music device, iPhone and Mac computers infringed its patents. Apple challenged the validity of the patents and whether they were infringed, according to court records.

Gelernter said after the verdict he was “tremendously grateful” to his lawyers for “their overwhelmingly brilliant performance.” He declined to comment further.

UPDATE: Apple Challenges $625.5 Million Mirror Worlds Verdict

MacBook Pro Owners Eligible for Free Repair in Nvidia Lawsuit Settlement

MacBook Pro owners who bought a laptop with an Nvidia graphics processor in 2007 and 2008 may be eligible for free repairs as part of a settlement agreement for a class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California, had claimed that Nvidia sold defective graphics processing units and media communication processors that affected the performance of some laptops. Symptoms included distorted or scrambled video on the laptop’s monitor or, in some cases, a blank screen even when the computer was turned on. While it’s settling the lawsuit, Nvidia is not admitting any wrongdoing as part of the case.

The affected Mac models include 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros bought between May 2007 and September 2008. Not every laptop sold during that period is eligible for the settlement—the MacBook Pro models have to contain an Nvidia chip and feature an eligible serial number.

Remote App Update with New iPad UI, Home Sharing Support

Apple has released an update to its Remote app for iOS, adding in a few valuable new features. The app has been updated to support the iPhone 4's retina display and can now automatically detect iTunes libraries on your network that are set up for Home Sharing. Most importantly, however, the app has now officially gained iPad support, with a brand new UI that takes advantage of the iPad's screen real estate.

For those who aren't familiar with it, the Remote app allows users to control their Apple TVs and computers via their iOS devices. This is particularly helpful when searching for items on the Apple TV (typing out a movie name can become a chore when using the regular Apple Remote) or if you want to give party guests a way to control the playlist (either on an Apple TV or your computer) without having to fiddle with the device directly.

Office for Mac 2011 available on October 26

Microsoft on Tuesday said Office for Mac 2011, the latest version of its productivity suite would be available on October 26.

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac and Messenger for Mac, and it will retail starting at $119. It will be available in two editions — a single install for $119 and a Family Pack for $149 with three installs for families with more than one Mac in their household.

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac, Outlook for Mac and Messenger for Mac, and it will start at $199. It also will be available in two editions — a single install for $199 and a Multi-Pack for $279 with two installs for a user with two machines.

Microsoft Office for Mac Academic 2011 includes Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, Excel for Mac, Outlook for Mac and Messenger for Mac, and it will retail at authorized academic stores and Microsoft for $99.

You can pre-order Office for Mac 2011 at Amazon.com beginning today.

Study finds that Apple dominates Tech News

A new study confirms what some in the technology industry have long sensed: Apple commands an inordinate amount of the media’s attention.

A yearlong look at technology news coverage by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 15.1 percent of tech articles were primarily about Apple; 11.4 percent were about Google; and a meager 3 percent were about Microsoft.

It’s not as if Microsoft lacks for public relations people. But Apple is especially effective at seizing journalists’ attention, said Amy S. Mitchell, the deputy director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, citing the anticipation for new devices and Apple’s “very public way of releasing products.”