Archive for ‘Apple’

May 1, 2011

South Park takes a poke at Apple data tracking controversy [Tech]

by Avinash Saxena

South Park

TECH  Apple chief Steve Jobs in South Park with his plans for a HumancentiPad

South Park returned to US television on Wednesday night and wasted no time tackling the controversy surrounding Apple and its alleged “big brother” tendencies.

The sharply satirical and topical animated show, now in its 15th season, latched on to the recent revelations that Apple’s iPhone and iPad keep track of everywhere you go, and stores the data in hidden files on the devices.

In the episode, which also parodies the 2010 Dutch horror film The Human Centipede, Apple chief Steve Jobs decides to create a new product – a HumancentiPad, a hybrid of the iPhoneiPad and three human beings. One of the boys from South Park, Kyle Broflovski, is chosen to take part in the experiment after he carelessly clicks on “I agree” without reading the new iTunes terms and conditions. The result can be seen below.

South ParkElsewhere in the episode, South Park’s resident misanthrope Eric Cartman gets rather upset when his mother refuses to buy him an iPad, offering to buy him the cheaper “Toshiba HandiBook” instead.

This is not the first time that technology icons have come under the withering gaze of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. In 2007, the show won an Emmy award for the episode Make Love Not Warcraft, which lovingly parodied the online roleplaying game World of Warcraft. That episode was created with the support of World of Warcraft developer Blizzard. And recent series have featured episodes about Facebook, Bill Gates, the internet and the movie Tron.

Critical reaction to the HumancentiPad episode has been largely positive. Writing at the Entertainment Weekly website, Ken Tucker said:

Joining together two wildly disparate elements, one of the best-known entities in the world (Apple and its products such as the iPad) and one of the least-known (the cult film The Human Centipede), the half hour was an unspeakable pleasure.

IGN.com critic Ramsey Isler says the ridiculousness of user agreements and those who don’t read them is a point well made:

We should all be a wee bit more cognizant of exactly what we’re agreeing to (although the enforceability of unreasonable terms in EULAs can always be judged by the courts). But the bigger issue here is one of putting your faith in a corporate giant that may not have your best interests in mind.

Myself, I thought the episode was largely hilarious – particularly the selfish Cartman’s foul-mouthed tirade when his mother refuses to buy him an iPad. And big respect to Stone and Parker for not taking the easy route and making jokes at the expense of Jobs’s ongoing cancer battle – fair play for attacking the company, and not the man. But I do wonder if maybe the Human Centipede references were not a step too far.

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April 30, 2011

Apple juggernaut sends ripples through tech world [Gadgets]

by Avinash Saxena

NEW YORK – Consumer technology companies reporting financial results this week are looking like rowboats bobbing in the wake of Apple Inc.’s supertanker.

Close to oblivion in 1997, Apple is now the world’s second-most valuable company, after Exxon Mobil Corp. On April 20, it reported net income of $5.99 billion for the January-to-March period, nearly double that of a year ago. It shipped a record 18.65 million iPhones during the quarter. Its iPad tablet computers are so popular, the company couldn’t make enough.

Apple’s ascendancy has produced many losers and a few winners, as underscored over the past two weeks:

• Microsoft Corp.: loser.

Apple dethroned Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company a year ago. In its mid-fall report, it surpassed Microsoft in quarterly revenue. In the January-March period this year, it surpassed Microsoft in net income, too.

On Thursday, Microsoft reported that revenue from the Windows operating system declined for the second straight quarter because people are buying fewer Windows computers.

Some prospective buyers are going to Macs instead — Apple reported that it sold 28 percent more units. Others are going to iPads. Goldman Sachs now believes that more than 30 percent of iPads sold may be replacing PC sales. In the 90s, the trend was the opposite, as Windows PCs were crowding out Macs.

• Nokia Corp.: loser.

Nokia said this week that it will slash 7,000 jobs through layoffs and outsourcing. It still sells more phones than anyone else, but it’s losing share to Apple, especially when it comes to smartphones.

Research firm Strategy Analytics also said revenue from Apple’s iPhone sales surpassed that of Nokia’s phones in the January-to-March period, as iPhones are much more expensive than the average Nokia phone. That makes Apple the world’s largest phone maker by revenue.

To better compete with the iPhone, Nokia is ditching its old Symbian software and adopting Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. But the transition will take time; the first Windows-powered Nokia phones aren’t expected until late 2011 or early 2012.

• Research In Motion Ltd.: loser.

The maker of the BlackBerry is in a predicament that’s similar to Nokia’s. RIM warned Thursday that net income, revenue and unit sales for the quarter ending in May will come in below its previous forecast.

The company’s high-end phones are looking old compared with the iPhone and ones running Google Inc.’s Android software. They aren’t selling as well as the company expected.

RIM promised investors that new phones with revamped software will bring sales roaring back in the latter half of the year, but investors are skeptical, sending RIM’s stock down Friday.

• HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.: winners, indirectly.

Although all three companies compete with Apple’s iPhone, they are doing well. Unlike Nokia and RIM, the three are betting on Google’s Android system, which comes the closest to mimicking the look, feel and functions of the iPhone.

Motorola Mobility is a shadow of the old Motorola, once the world’s second-largest maker of phones. But its focus on Android-powered smartphones is showing signs of success. It reported on Thursday a near-doubling of smartphone sales in the first quarter.

HTC of Taiwan has been making smartphones for a decade, and sales are really taking off with the help of Android. On Friday, it reported selling 9.7 million in the first quarter.

For South Korea’s Samsung, smartphone sales were a bright spot in the first quarter as overall phone sales declined and other electronics were weak. The company is embroiled in patent litigation with Apple.

• Verizon Wireless: winner.

The No. 1 U.S. cellphone carrier posted a jump in new contract-signing customers — the more profitable kind — after it introduced its version of the iPhone on Feb. 10, which ended AT&T Inc.’s exclusive grip on the device in the U.S.

(Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. of New York and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.)

• AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp: mixed.

Verizon’s new subscribers came at the expense of AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp. But neither carrier saw signs of current customers moving to Verizon for the sake of the iPhone. Rather, it seems customers weighing between carriers were more likely to go to Verizon because of the iPhone.

AT&T appeared to be splitting new iPhone customers evenly with Verizon Wireless.

Sprint lost lucrative contract customers in the quarter, but continued its long turnaround by signing up a record number of people on cheaper, contract-free plans.

A customer, right, tries on the Apple Inc.'s iPad 2 tablet computer at a shop in Hong Kong Friday, April 29, 2011. The iPad 2 went on sale in Hong Kon

April 25, 2011

Nintendo to launch new Wii in 2012 to arrest profit fall [Gaming]

by Avinash Saxena
Main Image
 Nintendo Co Ltd will launch a successor to its aging Wii game console in 2012 as it bets on a new hit games platform to win back users lured away by rivals Microsoft and Sony, and reverse a fall in profits.

The maker of the DS handheld games device, which is also facing competition from smartphone makers including Apple Inc, said on Monday it will demonstrate a prototype of the new Wii in Los Angeles on June 7 at the E3 game show.

Nintendo is looking to repeat past successes in the gaming market. The Wii took the industry by storm five years ago by offering family games such as tennis and bowling that appealed to non-traditional gamers.

This time around, however, Nintendo will find it harder to sidestep its competitors and must also contend with a burgeoning smartphone market that didn’t exist in 2006, said Mitsushige Akino, Chief Fund Manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management.

“Core users and game lovers that will certainly buy it, but I think it will be hard to capture buyers outside of that group,” he said.

On Monday, Nintendo also reported its second straight fall in annual profit, which was half of a year ago, as demand for Wii games console fell. Having sold 86 million units since launching in 2006, sales last business year slipped by five million units to 15 million.

Nintendo company declined to provide further details of the new Wii.

“As for the details of exactly what it will be, we have decided that it is best to let people experience it for themselves at E3,” Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, told a news conference.

“So I won’t talk about specific details today, but it will offer a new way of playing games within the home,” said Iwata, a former game designer.

Nintendo launched a glasses-free 3D-capable handheld games device, the 3DS, this year, to fend off increased competition from other game console makers and smartphone makers. It must also contend with Microsoft and Sony which have brought new products to the market since the Wii’s debut.

In March, Microsoft said it had sold more than 10 million Kinect motion-sensing game system units worldwide in just over four months, making it the fastest-selling consumer device on record. The infrared camera add-on for the Xbox game console tracks body gestures for video games. Sony’s rival motion sensing device is dubbed Move.

DECLINING SALES

In the business year just ended, Wii console sales fell to 15.1 million units from 20.1 million a year earlier. It expects sales to fall by a further 2 million units this business year.

Sales of its non-3D handheld DS shrank by almost 10 million units to 17.5 million, and the company expects that to slide to 11 million this term.

Nintendo’ operating profit fell 52 percent to 171.1 billion yen ($2.09 billion) in the year ended in March from 356.8 billion yen the previous year, below a Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate of 200.8 billion yen.

SmartEstimates put more weight on recent forecasts by highly rated analysts.

Nintendo expects operating profit of 175 billion yen for the year to March 2012, compared with a consensus of 215.8 billion yen, based on eight analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S after the March 11 disaster.

Nintendo shares closed up 0.9 percent ahead of the earnings report in a flat broader market. ($1 = 81.845 Japanese Yen)

April 12, 2011

The new addiction about ipads and android at the work [Infographic]

by Avinash Saxena

Forget the fear: Learning to love iPads and Androids at workThe news of infographic from the bucket of Apple ipads and Android at the time of workthe new addiction from there viewers. The style of ipads and android work are the according to this reporting.”

I’ve been talking to many IT executives in recent weeks at various conferences, and I’m finding a curious bifurcation among them when it comes to how they handle newfangled mobile devicessuch a iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones and tablets. Some have the attitude “people can bring whatever they want, so long as the devices support our security policies,” while others take the “I’m very leery of how these will compromise my organization’s security if I let them in” position.

Yes, people in IT — many of them, in fact — still register the fear reaction to the new smartphone and tablets whose usage has exploded in recent years. I’m shocked at one level, but not at another.

I’m shocked because any organization that truly has its security threatened because there are iPhones in the building have much bigger problems than any single device: They have fundamentally insecure IT operations that haven’t acknowledged the idea of a physical perimeter is long gone in this era of wireless communications and high usage of outsourced services and contract employees. No device should have unchallenged access to sensitive information just because it’s in the building, and the notion that security measures would let newfangled devices right in is an absurd one.

I don’t believe most of these companies have any basis for their fears. After all, they use virtual LANs, VPNs, permissions-based access, and the like already, and iOS and Android devices have no secret ways to blast through those. If a file server or database requires a password or other credential to gain access, that applies to mobile devices just as it does to PCs and remote computers.

April 6, 2011

New iPod Nano Leaked? [Video-Today]

by Avinash Saxena
April 4, 2011

Apple – iPad 2 – TV Ad – We Believe [Video-Today]

by Avinash Saxena
April 4, 2011

Thunderbolt MacBook Pro: The last notebook you’ll ever need [Infographic]

by Avinash Saxena

The news report from the Apple Inc, on 31st March on there official site.

From the outset, Apple’s MacBook Pro has been the standard-bearer for professional notebook computers. Apple’s extra-mile engineering sets the bar for performance, durability, build quality, longevity, ergonomics, battery life, and connectivity. For the past several years, Apple has had only itself to outdo with each new generation of MacBook Pro, yet Apple has still managed to set the pace, mostly with upgrades to materials, graphics, disk size, and battery life.

Not to take such advances for granted — after all, the one-piece machined aluminum frame and dynamic GPU switching were among many unique and jaw-dropping innovations — but where’s the ultimate to-die-for model year leap, the upgrade so substantial that we may not see its like again for five years? As tight as money is now, buyers want to see double, triple, and order-of-magnitude level improvements to justify spending $1,799 to $2,499 on a notebook.

[ Read about thelong-standing love affair between InfoWorld’s Pau l Venezia and the MacBook Air. | Subscribe to InfoWorld’s Technology: Apple newsletter. ]

With the new Thunderbolt MacBook Pro, so nicknamed for its revolutionary high-speed I/O port, that’s just what you’ll get. The 15- and 17-inch quad-core models deliver twice the CPU performance of Core 2 Duo, three times the graphics performance of the previous generation’s Nvidia GeForce GT 330M, and more than ten times the external I/O bandwidth of 800MHz FireWire. Even with a base price of just $1,199 and dual-core instead of quad-core CPUs, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro still outpaces prior Mac notebooks in terms of CPU and I/O performance.

This brand of magic can’t be conjured by Apple’s competitors. Sustained innovations like the MagSafe quick-disconnect charge port, the industrial-grade frame machined from a solid block of aluminum, digital optical audio input and output, automatic integrated/discrete GPU (graphics processing unit) switching, and a five-year battery already have no equal.

Now Apple has integrated Intel’s just-released second-generation Core i5 (13-inch MacBook Pro) and Core i7 (15-inch and 17-inch models) into its popular commercial notebooks. By doing so, MacBook Pro has picked up the power of Intel’s Turbo Boost dynamic overclocking, Hyper-Threading thread acceleration, 1,333MHz of DDR3 RAM, large Level 3 cache, and integrated memory controller. Intel’s speedy new silicon and enlightened bus design, combined with Apple’s full-custom motherboard and software, delivers those 2X CPU performance gains bragged about by Apple and proven in my benchmarks.

In the 15- and 17-inch models, Intel’s stellar CPU is married with the most powerful and power-efficient mobile GPUs on the planet, AMD’s Radeon HD 6000M series. The 17-inch MacBook Pro and the 2.2GHz 15-inch model feature AMD’s Radeon HD 6750M GPU with 1GB of GDDR5 RAM, while the base 15-inch model uses the Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB of GDDR5 RAM. Apple uses a clever and simple technique to switch between low-power Intel integrated graphics and the gaming-grade AMD GPU on the fly. This is central to achieving a verified seven-hour battery life across all models, and that’s without cheating: wireless networking active, display at midlevel brightness, and even battery-draining Flash Player running in the browser.

If, in all of this, you can’t see a reason to upgrade your notebook, maybe I can bring the point home: This might be the last notebook computer you’ll ever need or want. After more than two weeks of continuous testing, it’s hard for me to imagine what I’d want in a notebook in three to five years that MacBook Pro doesn’t deliver right now. Whatever I want, I’ll plug into Thunderbolt, the game-changing 10-gigabit peripheral interconnect that deserves (and gets) its own section in this review. I have no lingering doubt that a PC notebook maker might trump MacBook Pro. What Apple has done requires metal, glass, genius, and OS X. It can’t be replicated with plastic and Windows.

Test Center Scorecard
20% 20% 20% 15% 15% 10%
MacBook Pro (Thunderbolt) 10 10 10 10 10 8
9.8
EXCELLENT

 

 

 

April 4, 2011

Thunderbolt MacBook Pro: The last notebook you'll ever need [Infographic]

by Avinash Saxena

The news report from the Apple Inc, on 31st March on there official site.

From the outset, Apple’s MacBook Pro has been the standard-bearer for professional notebook computers. Apple’s extra-mile engineering sets the bar for performance, durability, build quality, longevity, ergonomics, battery life, and connectivity. For the past several years, Apple has had only itself to outdo with each new generation of MacBook Pro, yet Apple has still managed to set the pace, mostly with upgrades to materials, graphics, disk size, and battery life.

Not to take such advances for granted — after all, the one-piece machined aluminum frame and dynamic GPU switching were among many unique and jaw-dropping innovations — but where’s the ultimate to-die-for model year leap, the upgrade so substantial that we may not see its like again for five years? As tight as money is now, buyers want to see double, triple, and order-of-magnitude level improvements to justify spending $1,799 to $2,499 on a notebook.

[ Read about thelong-standing love affair between InfoWorld’s Pau l Venezia and the MacBook Air. | Subscribe to InfoWorld’s Technology: Apple newsletter. ]

With the new Thunderbolt MacBook Pro, so nicknamed for its revolutionary high-speed I/O port, that’s just what you’ll get. The 15- and 17-inch quad-core models deliver twice the CPU performance of Core 2 Duo, three times the graphics performance of the previous generation’s Nvidia GeForce GT 330M, and more than ten times the external I/O bandwidth of 800MHz FireWire. Even with a base price of just $1,199 and dual-core instead of quad-core CPUs, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro still outpaces prior Mac notebooks in terms of CPU and I/O performance.

This brand of magic can’t be conjured by Apple’s competitors. Sustained innovations like the MagSafe quick-disconnect charge port, the industrial-grade frame machined from a solid block of aluminum, digital optical audio input and output, automatic integrated/discrete GPU (graphics processing unit) switching, and a five-year battery already have no equal.

Now Apple has integrated Intel’s just-released second-generation Core i5 (13-inch MacBook Pro) and Core i7 (15-inch and 17-inch models) into its popular commercial notebooks. By doing so, MacBook Pro has picked up the power of Intel’s Turbo Boost dynamic overclocking, Hyper-Threading thread acceleration, 1,333MHz of DDR3 RAM, large Level 3 cache, and integrated memory controller. Intel’s speedy new silicon and enlightened bus design, combined with Apple’s full-custom motherboard and software, delivers those 2X CPU performance gains bragged about by Apple and proven in my benchmarks.

In the 15- and 17-inch models, Intel’s stellar CPU is married with the most powerful and power-efficient mobile GPUs on the planet, AMD’s Radeon HD 6000M series. The 17-inch MacBook Pro and the 2.2GHz 15-inch model feature AMD’s Radeon HD 6750M GPU with 1GB of GDDR5 RAM, while the base 15-inch model uses the Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB of GDDR5 RAM. Apple uses a clever and simple technique to switch between low-power Intel integrated graphics and the gaming-grade AMD GPU on the fly. This is central to achieving a verified seven-hour battery life across all models, and that’s without cheating: wireless networking active, display at midlevel brightness, and even battery-draining Flash Player running in the browser.

If, in all of this, you can’t see a reason to upgrade your notebook, maybe I can bring the point home: This might be the last notebook computer you’ll ever need or want. After more than two weeks of continuous testing, it’s hard for me to imagine what I’d want in a notebook in three to five years that MacBook Pro doesn’t deliver right now. Whatever I want, I’ll plug into Thunderbolt, the game-changing 10-gigabit peripheral interconnect that deserves (and gets) its own section in this review. I have no lingering doubt that a PC notebook maker might trump MacBook Pro. What Apple has done requires metal, glass, genius, and OS X. It can’t be replicated with plastic and Windows.

Test Center Scorecard
20% 20% 20% 15% 15% 10%
MacBook Pro (Thunderbolt) 10 10 10 10 10 8
9.8
EXCELLENT

 

 

 

March 30, 2011

With Square In Its Sights, Intuit Readies A Tablet App For GoPayment

by Avinash Saxena

Mobile payments are finally taking off right now. But it is not mobile wallets for consumers with NFC-chipped mobile phones leading the way. It is payment apps for small merchants like those made by Square and Intuit’s GoPayment. Tonight at an Intuit showcase in New York City, I got a sneak peak at several new Intuit products still in development, including an upcoming GoPayment tablet app that aims to replace the cash register for small businesses, Intuit 401k, and an iPad Check-in app for doctor’s offices.

The GoPayment app will work on both the iPad and Android tablets In addition to taking credit card payments with a swiper that plugs into the headphone jack, it also lets merchants set up a cash register with their own products and prices. They can even take pictures of the products with their iPad 2 and the picture is placed on a virtual button to make it easy for any employee to ring up the items. Square, of course, has its own iPad app which has been available for almost a year. Add a cash drawer, and these systems can readily replace a register that can cost thousands of dollars. All a merchant needs is an iPad and the software. Intuit and Square still make a tiny fraction off each transaction, but they get rid of much of the equipment, and all the maintenance, costs associated with typical credit card readers you find in most stores.

GoPayment has been around for two years, but only recently started to target the lower end of the market where Square is gaining traction—small businesses without merchant accounts at banks who don’t already take credit cards. Another competitor, VeriFone, is making noisein an attempt to enter this market as well, but Square should be more concerned about Intuit. The company already has relationships with 4.5 million businesses through QuickBooks and has a few advantages in payments processing.

The trick to making money in payments processing is to keep the fraud rate down. Intuit already handles payments for many small businesses through and has built up an expertise in fraud detection to the point where it transfer money to its payments customers in a matter of two or three days. Square reduces its risk for larger accounts by holding the money for 30 days. Intuit’s credit card swiper might be uglier than Square’s, but don’t underestimate how important it is for small businesses to get getting paid faster.

Both services seem to be neck and neck in terms of the volume of payments that go through each. GoPayment processes about $9 million a week, whereas Square is processing about $7 million (but GoPayment’s numbers include payments from the Web and QuickBooks, not just mobile). GoPayment has processed $113 million since it launched in 2009. Intuit’s director of mobile strategies, Omar Green, who happens to live in the same building in San Francisco as Square founder Jack Dorsey, acknowledges that Square led the way in opening up this new market. But it’s a wide open field and Intuit is going after the opportunity just as aggressively.Update: Intuit says it is now up to $12 million a week in payment volume and $120 million cumulative GoPayments.

While I was at the showcase, I also saw some other new Intuit products for businesses. One is called Intuit 401(k), and is part of Intuit’s Payroll business. Any small business that uses Intuit Payroll can now also set up a 401(k) account for their employees for significantly cheaper than other 401 (k) management services. It costs $495 to set up and starts at $75 a month for up to ten employees. The contributions are withdrawn automatically from payroll and managed by Morningstar, with a few simple options based on risk tolerance. Intuit also removes the financial risks of any liability associated with managing the plans off the shoulders of the small businesses

The other iPad app I saw is being developed by Intuit Health, which already offers health portals for doctor’s offices to help manage appointments and billing. Now it is working on an iPad Check-In app which will replace the paper forms on the clipboard you have to fill out every time you visit the doctor. Instead, you just sign in with your name and password, and fill out any necessary details on the iPad app. It also ties into payments and will allow patients to charge their co-pays electronically.

 

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March 29, 2011

Amazon Bring New Products For Music

by Avinash Saxena

 

 

 

Amazon has just entered the streaming music business with the launch of Cloud Player, a music player that lets anyone upload their music to Amazon’s servers and play them via the web or Android.

The new Cloud Player service adds a new “Save to Amazon Cloud Drive” button for saving MP3s to the cloud, as well as an option to upload music from a hard drive to a user’s Cloud Drive. Users are given 5 GB of free storage, but can get 20 GB if they purchase an album through Amazon. It’s $1 per GB after that.

Cloud Player comes in two flavors, an app for the web and an Android app counterpart. Both players allow users to upload their music, create playlists and organize their music. And because it’s a cloud-based platform, users can access their music and settings from any compatible computer or Android device.

The most comparable service to Cloud Drive is probably Grooveshark, which also lets you upload your music, though Amazon has several major advantages in its MP3 store, its longstanding payment system and its stronger brand recognition.

Google and Apple have been rumored to be hard at work on their own cloud-based players, but it looks like Amazon beat them to the punch. Amazon’s Cloud Player will certainly face a stiff challenge when they launch their own streaming music services, especially given Google’s control over Android and Apple’s control over iPhone and iTunes.

 

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