January 27, 2012

Today’s Stupidest “Exclusive Report” Says Apple’s Siri-Controlled iTV Will Arrive By April

Today’s Stupidest “Exclusive Report” Says Apple’s Siri-Controlled iTV Will Arrive By April

The hope of a new Apple product on the horizon tends to make tech blogs a little fanciful, sometimes even delusional, so it’s hard to fault Techno Buffalo too much for their “exclusive” report that an Apple-made OLED HDTV with Siri functionalities — the much talked about iTV — is coming out “this April, or possibly May at the latest.” Hey, we all get carried away from time to time.

That said, TechnoBuffalo’s report isn’t too be trusted. In fact, it’s total bullshit. Here’s why.

According to TechnoBuffalo, their “high-ranking source within a major electronics retailer” claims they have seen “gorgeous, very thin” pre-production versions of the much fabled Apple iTV. It’ll support Siri, as well as “facial recognition software” that will allow the device to automatically detect and turn itself off when someone leaves the room.

They say it will be an OLED display with panel sizes up to 42-inches, and launch in April, or maybe May, they aren’t entirely sure. Whatever.

In addition:

Our source said Apple is exploring the notion of using the set to control other connected devices in the home; think along the lines of ovens that pre-heat while you’re watching TV before dinner, and garage doors that can be closed by voice command while you sit on the couch.

So this is all well and good, and sounds like quite a device. But unfortunately, TechnoBuffalo’s report is laughable nonsense.

Why? First of all, an Apple iTV shipping in April or May is impossible for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s too close to the iPad 3”s late March / early April release date: Apple’s not going to subvert the launch of one new product by launching a more expensive one at the exact same time. That’s why Apple ships the iPad six months away from the iPhone now.

How do we know the iPad 3 will ship in late March? Easy. We have reputable reports that it has entered production as of early January. It takes time to build enough units to launch in March… which raises another reason why TechnoBuffalo’s report is suspect, to say the least. If the Apple iTV was shipping in April, it’d be entering production right now, but there are no reports suggesting that’s the case.

Finally, TechnoBuffalo’s source is supposedly “highly-placed” in a major electronics retailer. That’s all you need to read to know that their source is talking out of his ass. Apple isn’t going to be carting around their iTV prototype to Best Buy to work out a distribution deal. They are going to keep it secret until the last minute and then sell it directly through their network of Apple retail outlets first, then gradually expand to other big boxes over time. But major electronics retailers are absolutely not going to get a heads-up about the iTV before Tim Cook himself announces it.

So nice try, TechnoBuffalo, but I think we can safely say you got burned on a bum report. And hey, if I’m wrong, and the iTV does ship before mid-May, well, I’m sure me and Techno Buffalo can come to an arrangement about something disgustingly symbolic that I can eat to show that I was wrong.

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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Cult of Mac

Apple to offer employees $500 off a new Mac, $250 off iPads – report

By Katie Marsal

Published: 12:32 PM EST (09:32 AM PST)
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook reportedly informed employees this week that later this year they will be able to buy an iPad with a $ 250 discount, while Macs will be available for $ 500 off.

Starting in June, the discounts will be available to employees who have worked more than 90 days at Apple, according to The Register. Employees will be able to obtain the $ 750 in discounts once every three years.

The announcement was made by Cook in a “town hall” meeting put on by Apple with its employees. It came a day after Apple announced a record quarter, in which it earned $ 13 billion.

For some products and configurations, the new discounts go well beyond what Apple has traditionally offered. Employees can currently receive a 25 percent discount on a complete Mac system one time per year.

But $ 500 off would actually be a reduced discount for some of Apple’s high-end products when compared to the current 25 percent reduction. For example, a maxed-out 17-inch MacBook Pro, with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive, can cost over $ 4,000 at retail, and a 25 percent discount would amount to $ 1,000 in savings, or twice that of the new promotion.

But $ 500 off would be a larger discount in most cases. For example, an employee looking to buy the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air would pay just $ 500 for the usually $ 999 notebook, while a 25 percent discount would only reduce the price to about $ 750.

The new perk also applies to all Apple employees, and not just those who work at the company’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. That means more than 60,000 workers, including those at Apple’s hundreds of retail stores, will be eligible for the promotion.


Good Technology report shows Apple still dominates enterprise activations

Good Technology’s quarterly report on device activation statistics among its Fortune 500 clients has been released. Just like previous quarters, the results show a marked dominance of iOS device activations in enterprise environments. In the consumer arena, Android has been running away with the marketshare lead for most of the past couple of years, but iOS continues to rule the enterprise roost.

According to Good’s analysis, the relative percentage of Android device activations decreased over the quarter. iOS devices made up 71 percent of net activations in Q4 2011, while Android dropped to 29 percent; these numbers compare to 68 percent for iOS vs. 32 percent for Android in Q3.

The iPhone 4S was a major factor in Apple’s smartphone gains for the quarter, accounting for 31 percent of all device activations — the single most popular device for the quarter. During September and October, Android smartphone activations were steadily closing in on iPhone activations, but that trend sharply reversed in November. By December, iPhone activations were crushing Android phone activations; in fact, during December the number of iPad activations exceeded the number of Android smartphone activations, something not seen since July.

The iPad accounted for 94.7 percent of total tablet activations for Q4, a negligible decline from its 96 percent statistic in Q3. Android tablets accounted for no more than 1 percent of overall device activations in the enterprise, with a 5.2 percent share of overall tablet activations.

“For now, the iPad and iPad 2 remain the de facto enterprise tablet standard — especially when it comes to the large company-driven deployments in verticals such as Financial Services, Business and Professional Services, Life Sciences, and Healthcare,” GT reports. The Financial Services sector in particular had an iPad adoption rate four times higher than any other industry.

Together, Apple’s iPhone and iPad models accounted for the top five out of ten most popular devices activated in the enterprise, with the device breakdown as follows:

  1. iPhone 4S
  2. iPhone 4
  3. iPad 2
  4. iPad
  5. iPhone 3GS

Android smartphones rounded out the top 10. The most popular Android-powered device, the Samsung Galaxy S II, accounted for 1.7 percent of overall device activations.

GT’s summary of 2011 as a whole shows a marked lead in iPhone activations over Android smartphone activations, especially in the last quarter. Meanwhile, the iPad is stomping Android’s tablets in the enterprise; Android’s tablets barely show up at all on Good’s graph of 2011.

It’s worth noting, as Good itself does, that the numbers for Q4 do not reflect holiday sales. Good Technology expects yet more gains for iOS devices in the enterprise once workers bring their newly-acquired Christmas gifts back to work with them over the first quarter of 2012.

Good does not report on BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7 device activations. However, given what we know about RIM’s increasingly dismal performance and Windows Phone 7′s lack of traction in the consumer market, it’s unlikely that either platform is making a meaningful contribution to the overall trend in device activations.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Motorola Sues Apple For Violating 6 Patents In The U.S. [Report]

Motorola Sues Apple For Violating 6 Patents In The U.S. [Report]
Motorola Mobility sued Apple in a Florida court on Wednesday for violating 6 wireless technology patents found in the iPhone 4S and iCloud. The patents in question relate to antenna, software, data filtering, and messaging technology.

Google recently acquired Motorola for $ 12.5 billion and is in the process of merging with the company. While Google is not directly involved with this specific case, Motorola’s lawsuit can definitely be seen as another attempt to protect patent ammunition for the ongoing legal war between the top smartphone manufacturers. In fact, this is the closest Apple and Google have ever come to fighting in the courtroom.

Reuters reports:

Motorola said the patents cited in the latest lawsuit are the same ones it is fighting to protect in a different Florida lawsuit. This complaint is against two of Apple’s latest products, the iPhone 4S and Apple’s iCloud remote storage service for music and other media, Motorola said.

Google had to sign off on this lawsuit, but Motorola Mobility is not owned by Google yet. This lawsuit shouldn’t be interpreted as Google indirectly suing Apple. If anything, Google is letting Motorola protect its intellectual property because those patents will one day belong to Google. The search and ad giant’s business model isn’t hurt by the lawsuit, and Motorola gets to stand up for itself in court.

Why not put some chinks in Apple’s armor before you have to clean the sword and claim it as your own.

(image via TheTechJournal)

(Via Cult of Android.)

Cult of Mac

Apple Surpasses Android To Become Reigning Champion In The U.S. [Report]

Apple Surpasses Android To Become Reigning Champion In The U.S. [Report]

Following Apple’s incredible sales numbers from yesterday’s quarterly earnings report, the iPhone has taken the number one spot in U.S. market share from Google’s Android OS, according to the researchers at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. 37 million iPhones were sold in the fourth quarter of 2011, making Apple the top smartphone manufacturer on the planet.

Based on the last 12 weeks of sales in 9 countries (including the U.S., U.K., and Australia), the iPhone is growing faster than Android. The tides are turning.

“Apple has continued its strong sales run in the US, UK and Australia over the Christmas period,” said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldplanel. ”Overall, Apple sales are now growing at a faster rate than Android across the nine countries we cover.”

Kantar notes that Android is still the dominant smartphone platform worldwide, but Apple’s growth rate now exceeds that of Google’s OS. The iPhone’s market share rose to 44.9% during the last quarter, while Android’s sat at 44.8%. While not exactly a landslide victory percentage-wise, the numbers are definitely a sign that Android is not an unstoppable behemoth.

It’s important to remember that there are hundreds upon hundreds of Android handsets on the market, while Apple only sells three generations of the iPhone. Tim Cook noted during yesterday’s earnings call that the iPhone 4S was Apple’s best-selling handset last quarter. Apple’s carrier partnerships with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have helped the iPhone grow exponentially in the U.S over the last few months.

When asked about the race between the popular smartphone platforms, Cook noted that Android and the iPhone are neck and neck. He said that he couldn’t find any way of accurately measuring Android’s numbers against the “clean” and “crisp” reports that Apple gives, but he did state that, “We’ll ignore how many other horses there are, we just want to be the lead one.”

Cult of Mac

Over 350,000 Textbooks Were Downloaded From iBookstore In Just 3 Days [Report]

Over 350,000 Textbooks Were Downloaded From iBookstore In Just 3 Days [Report]

If you thought that there would be little interest in an Apple event that didn’t include new hardware, then think again. Following the unveiling of iBooks 2 with support for textbooks last week, Apple saw an incredible 350,000 textbook downloads in just three days of availability.

That’s according to Global Equities Research, which uses a tracking system to monitor Apple’s iBook sales. The company has also revealed that iBooks Author, Apple’s new tool for OS X Lion that allows aspiring authors to create their own iBooks, was downloaded 90,000 times from the Mac App Store.

While the new initiative is yet to be tried and tested by schools and students, these figures (if accurate) would suggest iBooks 2 and digital textbooks are off to a flying start. That’s terrific news for textbooks publishers, who are set to make more money through digital sales than they currently do through physical retail channels, according to an All Things D report:

According to Global Equities Research, the supply chain markup on textbooks ranges between 33 percent and 35 percent. So there’s savings to be had in cutting out that publisher to distributor to wholesaler to retailer process.

Add to this the lower cost of iBook production, which the research outfit estimates to be 80 percent less than print publication, and a system under which textbooks are sold directly to students who use them for a year, rather than to schools which keep the texts for an average of five years, and the math here starts to looks pretty good.

Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with GER, believes that this is “a recipe for Apple’s success in the textbook industry.”

[via All Things D]

Cult of Mac

Apple’s overseas manufacturing operations offer flexibility, not just savings – report

By Josh Ong

Published: 03:45 AM EST (12:45 AM PST)
An in-depth report on Apple’s manufacturing operations details the gains in flexibility, diligence and skilled labor availability that the company gains from producing its devices overseas, while offering rare commentary from its current and former executives.

The New York Times presented on Saturday a close look at the Cupertino, Calif., company’s move toward foreign production. The article was based on more than three dozen interviews with current and former Apple employees and contractors, as well as talks with “economists, manufacturing experts, international trade specialists, technology analysts, academic researchers, employees at Apple’s suppliers, competitors and corporate partners, and government officials.”

According to the report, Apple holds a “central conviction” that overseas production facilities offer scale, flexibility, diligence and skilled workers that U.S. factories are no longer able to match.

Authors Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher related an anecdote from a dinner last February with President Barack Obama, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and several other tech luminaries. Obama reportedly asked Jobs why Apple is unable to to bring is manufacturing back to the U.S.

A guest at the dinner noted that Jobs candidly replied, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

Though Apple employs 43,000 people in the U.S., twice as many as it does overseas, some have criticized the company for not creating more jobs in its home country. The report noted that an additional 700,000 people work on Apple’s products via the company’s network of contractors, but most of them are located outside of the U.S.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to the White House.

But, the company’s executives have indicated that moving work overseas is their only option. A former executive recounted an instance prior to the launch of the original iPhone where 8,000 employees were woken up in the middle of the night to begin outfitting glass screens, a last-minute addition for the handset. Within just a few days, the factory was producing more than 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Sources revealed that the last-minute adjustment came about because Jobs demanded a change in the iPhone just weeks before its scheduled launch. He had reportedly noticed that the keys in his pockets had scratched a prototype device he had been testing.

“I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” Jobs was noted as saying. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”

One Apple executive left the meeting and quickly booked a flight to Shenzhen, China to address the issue, according to the report.

Betsey Stevenson, the Labor Department’s chief economist until last year, said U.S. companies used to prioritize American workers even when it meant higher costs. “That’s disappeared,” she said. “Profits and efficiency have trumped generosity.”

But, others took issue with the claim, noting that workers with the mid-level skills required for factory work are in short supply in the U.S.

One Apple executive defended Apple’s decision to produce iPhones overseas by noting that the device is sold in more than a hundred countries. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible,” the executive said.

“We shouldn’t be criticized for using Chinese workers,” one current Apple executive told the publication. “The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.”

The company did, however, used to pride itself on making its products at home. For instance, Jobs told the Times in 1984 that the first Macintosh was “a machine that is made in America.”

Tim Cook, Apple’s former chief operations officer and current chief executive officer, has been credited with developing Apple’s overseas supply chain. One former high-ranking executive said that Cook decided to move much of its manufacturing to Asia because it can “scale up and down faster” and “Asian supply chains have surpassed what’s in the U.S.”

“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said a different former Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has risen to become a giant in the industry. The company is estimated to assemble 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics.

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who served as Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

“Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones,” the report read.

The effort took just 15 days in China, compared to estimates by Apple’s analysts that it would take nine months to find the necessary workers in the U.S.

Economists expect that the U.S. economy will adapt and find a way to replace some of the middle-class jobs it has lost overseas, but they warn that some workers, especially older ones, could be left behind during the transition.

“New middle-class jobs will eventually emerge,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist. “But will someone in his 40s have the skills for them? Or will he be bypassed for a new graduate and never find his way back into the middle class?”

For its part, Apple has lobbied the government to allow a tax holiday that would allow it and other American corporations to bring home overseas cash. The WIN America lobbying group, which Apple supports, argues that doing so would allow the companies to create more jobs in the U.S. Two-thirds of the iPhone maker’s $ 81 billion cash hoard is currently located overseas.


Windows Phone Will Be More Popular Than iOS In Just Three Years… What? [Report]

Windows Phone Will Be More Popular Than iOS In Just Three Years… What? [Report]

Photo by VentureBeat – http://flic.kr/p/bbL5Ga

It sounds like a plot-line straight out of Hollywood: washed-up cell maker teams with down-on-its-luck software giant to overtake a Silicon Valley tech giant. But researchers believe 2015 will be the comeback year for Nokia with Microsoft Windows Phone replacing Apple’s iOS as the No. 2 smartphone operating system.

According to IHS iSuppli, the hero of this story is the Lumia 900, a smartphone recently unveiled at CES that breaks all tradition for the Finnish-based Nokia — and the company’s best chance to reclaim its No. 1 spot from Google’s Android. As well, the Lumia could be the first non-Android handset to strike fear into Apple.

Although Apple’s iOS currently has 18 percent of the smartphone software market and Windows Phone has just under 2 percent, Microsoft’s OS could have 16.7 percent by 2015, just ahead of the 16.6 percent IHS expects the iPhone maker will control in three years.

The key to this transformation, the researchers say, is how Nokia plans to market the Lumia, cutting into Android, iOS and BlackBerry strongholds. One sign of this movement is the marketshare of smartphone operating systems other than Android and iOS drops from its current nearly 33 percent to 8.6 percent in 2015 – with Windows Phone being the major benefactor. Indeed, while iOS drops nearly 2 points and Android gains around 10 points, Windows Phone picks us more than 15 percent of the smartphone market over the next three years.

Apparently, Nokia’s switch from Symbian to Windows Phone not only helped the once cell phone titan, but also Microsoft. “The Lumina 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015,” IHS announced.

Such a move starts in North America, instead of Europe, where Nokia traditionally launches its phones. The “device was developed with North American market dynamics and smartphone users in mind,” the firm announced. North America has been Nokia’s “Achilles’ heel,” a stronghold for Apple.

Along with a 4.3-inch organic LED screen and 12-megapixel camera, the Lumia 900 will also support LTE, something Apple is expected to introduce with its next iPhone. Verizon recently announced it won’t sell any handsets that do not support the faster 4G wireless technology.

As well as a flashy design and the latest technology, Nokia is adopting a carrier-based distribution method in North America. This can be seen from its agreements with AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., along with Rogers and Telus elsewhere. In the past, Nokia has avoided this channel, limiting its reach, according to IHS.

Nokia is also targeting the already weakened Research In Motion. The BlackBerry maker, already weakened by the iPhone’s entry into the corporate suit, will now face Nokia powered by Microsoft’s well-established history selling to business customers.

All of which portends for an exciting year when the tables could be turned on a smartphone market once thought dominated by Apple and Android. Perhaps we need to add a third smartphone player — Windows Phone — to that list.

Cult of Mac

iBooks 2 Doesn’t Just Make Textbooks More Interactive, It Makes Them Like Minority Report [Apple Education Event]

iBooks 2 Doesn’t Just Make Textbooks More Interactive, It Makes Them Like Minority Report [Apple Education Event]

Roger Rosner, VP for Productivity Software, has just come up on stage to show offsome textbooks using iBooks 2. And it looks pretty amazing.

iBooks 2 is trying to solve the app problem by making regular iBooks as interactive as a dedicated app. Rosner describes them as “cool, rich, engaging interactive experiences,” and he’s right. These are texbooks straight out of the future.

One of the first things he shows off is how, in a biology textbook, a student can zoom into a picture to see 3D models right inside a cell. Images can animate, be interactive, etc.

But what if you just want to read text without all those videos zooming around? No problem. Landscape orientation is interactive, portrait orientation is just text. Brilliant solution.

In iBooks 2, table of contents is accessed with just a pinch. Glossary terms and dictionary elements can be accessed just by tapping. Notes are left with just a tap. Want to highlight a passage? Just swipe across it: your finger is the highlighter.

The best part for students, though, is that there are visual, interactive Q&A sections at the end of each textbook chapter for review. Man, I wish we’d had some of this stuff when I was in college: this would have made studying painless and fun.

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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Cult of Mac

Mac platform faced 58 malware threats from Q2 to Q4 2011 – report

By Josh Ong

Published: 11:00 PM EST (08:00 PM PST)
Mac OS X endured 58 separate malware attacks from April 2011 to December 2011, a small fraction when compared to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, according to a new summary from a security research firm.

Security lab F-Secure released its 2011 Mac Malware Summary earlier this week, noting that Apple’s platform had faced “several dozen” new threats throughout the year. To calculate the figures, the firm counted unique variants of malware that occurred during the second, third and fourth quarters of 2011.

“We prefer a more conservative approach when counting malware. The more generic and family based, the better,” the report noted.

According to the summary, a total of 58 malicious software variants were detected during the period. Trojan-downloaders made up the bulk of the attacks with 29 variants during the period. Backdoor malware was the second-most common with 15 separate instances detected.

The report pointed out that the number of malware attacks remained small when compared to Windows malware, though it did note that last year’s number was “definitely something” when compared to the number of Mac threats seen in previous years.

June was the busiest month for Mac malware with 12 known threats, followed by October with 11 instances.

“As we correctly predicted back in May, Mac malware has not scaled continuously due to market share, but rather, is more the result of opportunist “bubble economies” that have produced new threats in fits and starts,” researchers said, adding that they expect “more of the same” for 2012.

Last spring, a malware emerged that billed itself as MACDefender anti-virus software. Apple eventually dealt with the issue with a security update. A Russian online payment site was later linked to the MACDefender scam.

Another Mac OS X trojan was discovered posing as a phony Flash Player last September. An updated version of the software even sought to disable Apple’s built-in anti-malware capabilities.

Apple added a daily malware definitions check to Mac OS X last year in order to preempt possible attacks. In some cases, updates to the malware definitions have managed to head off threats before they became functional.

As for the iPhone, iOS remained relatively unaffected by malware last year. Security researchers found Apple’s mobile operating system to be untouched last August, even as threats to Google’s Android mobile operating system grew rapidly.