NBC offers iPhone, touch TV episode streams

 NBC has begun offering iPhone and iPod touch users in the US the chance to stream full episodes of the broadcaster’s shows, despite not making these available through iTunes.

Like the BBC’s iPlayer service in the UK, shows aren’t being made available for streaming to audiences outside the US, who will see a message warning them the streams aren’t available from their location.

NBC’s shows – including The Office – are streamed in QuickTime format and are made available ad-free.

iPhone or iPod touch owners wanting a slice of NBC’s goodness simply need to visit the NBC.com website, click on the video tab, and they’ll get the chance to select between available shows, many of which offer full episode streams for viewing.


iTunes downloads grow cheaper, kinda

 iTunes offers music at inflation-busting prices, it seems, with the 99-cents per track price remaining static since the service launched in 2003.

Now, we’re not saying prices should go up – but we are interested in a recent Digital Audio Insider analysis of the inflation-adjusted price of a download through the service, which reveals that should prices have kept up with inflation, songs would now cost $1.14. And by 2012 songs will cost the equivalent of 74-cents a track, assuming prices remain static.

That download prices have remained static isn’t so remarkable when you consider the continuously falling price of CDs.

However, it’s clear that Apple will be under increasing pressure on the part of the music labels to raise its prices, even if it resists the call for price flexibility. Though the company has frequently warned that raising music prices at this stage of the evolution of the digital music industry could still drive consumers to the cheapest music prices available anywhere – the file-sharing networks.


O2 sells out of iPhones

 Apple’s UK iPhone network partner O2 has sold out of iPhones.

The company’s iPhone pages now reveals the following message: “Please note: 8GB and 16GB iPhone are no longer available.”

O2 has clearly shifted all available stock in hand in order to make way for the next-generation iPhone, expected to ship next month. The network cut the cost of the 8GB model by £100 last month, selling out of that model within a week. Clearly the move also saw consumers shift to purchase the 16GB model.


America Movil snags iPhone for Latin America

 America Movil will sell iPhone across Latin America starting this year.

The largest cell phone operator made the announcement today, the latest in what appears a fashionable string of mobile telcos to let investors know they’ve bagged distribution rights for the Apple mobile phone. It had been thought local operator Telcel would take this prize, though with recent indications that Apple isn’t seeking wholly exclusive deals, there’s still an outside chance Telcel will get to carry the device.

With a subscriber base of 153 million in 2007, America Movil operates in 15 markets in the region, including Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The public company is pretty much commanded by the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, who ousted Bill Gates from the top of the pile last year.

Interestingly, the company recently began using Yahoo’s oneSearch as a default for mobile users, and includes support for YouTube videos for its 3G mobile phone users.

This is just the latest public declaration of intent to commit iPhone, which saw Vodafone confirm plans to offer the device in ten markets earlier this week, in Italy at least sharing the honour with Telecom Italia. Orange is now in talks to offer the device in Spain and Poland, while Rogers Telecom will serve the device up in the Canadian market.

It’s clear June’s going to be a big month for Apple-watchers.


Edit to note: Thanks to the eagle-eyed readers who’ve been able to let us know Telcel is a part of America Movil.  


iPhone magic: Derren Brown

 Looks like there’s a spate of iPhone using magicians, hot on our Marco Tempest report yesterday, UK gadget mag T3 this week revealed internationally-renowned illusionist, Derren Brown, is an iPhone convert too – and he switched to Mac because Stephen Fry told him to.

“I bought my iPhone the day it came out,” says Derren Brown. “It took a bit of getting used to, as I used a Blackberry before. It’s slow for emails, so I’ll definitely get the 3G version. But the design is phenomenal. It’s so satisfying to have it done right.”
Brown admits to dumping his Windows flavoured box for a Mac “about a year ago”, admitting, “in the end Stephen Fry convinced me. I didn’t realise how pleasant using a computer can be until I changed.”

The full interview’s included in the latest edition of T3. What isn’t clear is if Apple CEO Steve Jobs would ever consider (or need to consider, come to that), employing Brown’s talents to extend his own famed reality distortion field.


iPhone Doom developers speak up

 iPhone development is a “doddle”, said the developers behind the project to port Doom to the device – revealing the first version of the port was created in just a week.

Developer Psychochromatic explains: “Looking at the hardware specs, I knew iPhone would be able to play a simple game like Doom no problem as it was open-source and already ran on the click-wheel iPod running Linux. I knew Stepwhite, who I work with on Mac projects, and as he’d just bought himself an iPhone and was working with the unofficial tool-chain I jokingly told him he had one week to port Doom to iPhone, and all it had to do was run; he didn’t have to implement controls. One week later, he proudly linked me to his Doom port homepage.”

The first build of Doom saw 15,000 downloads on the project site alone, even without a way to control the game. Once controller input had been included that version received  over 25,000 downloads. 

Behind the ease of development lies the iPhone’s inherent support for a full scale OS. “The iPhone runs OS X. It’s a full UNIX system in your pocket, with brilliant Objective-C frameworks that make coding beautiful and powerful applications a dawdle,” explains Psychochromatic.

Inherent to this is that Apple’s mobile device uses many of the API’s developers already use when designing full-strength apps for OS X, meaning they can develop for the mobile version “with minimal re-learning”. Apple’s shrewd move to introduce the iPhone SDK has also driven many Windows developers to begin learning Mac OS X programming languages (such as Objective C or Cocoa), meaning it will in future become easier for Windows developers to “program for OS X without too much effort.”

Stepwhite, explained that moving to iPhone development caused him to abandon many of the precepts he used in Mac design on account of the size of the screen, but remains full of enthusiasm: “Despite having to throw out a lot of my knowledge, the iPhone provides so much ease for the developers in terms of it’s APIs it’s a pleasure to work with.”

The iPhone software SDK has accelerated development. “It remained difficult to work upon due to problems with the unofficial compiler (causing non-working versions of the game) but with the release of Apple’s SDK it was trivial to get Doom running on iPhone 2.0,” said Stepwhite.

For all this success, there’s a few snags before iPhone users can anticipate buying Doom for the device from Apple’s App Store.

“Our current port of Doom would currently be rejected by Apple if we were to submit it to the iTunes App Store because we use certain APIs for accelerated drawing that are marked as "private". Before submission, we will have to rewrite portions of it to only use documented APIs; most probably moving to OpenGL/ES for the video output,” explained Stepwhite.

That Apple appears currently to be offering only limited access to these API’s means there’s still a future for iPhone jailbreaks, the developers observed, “some applications need more direct access to the underlying iPhone OS,” they said. Network file access, for example, requires deeper access to certain API’s, the developers said.

“Until iPhone ships unlocked there will still be people needing to Jailbreak the phone to save themselves from some of the miserable tariffs offered by the official operators,” they added.

Both developers seem genuinely excited at the potential future of Apple’s mobile standard.

“iPhone marries Apple’s popular image and brand excellence with the most powerful and fun to use operating system on mobile devices. The possibility of having Apple’s latest iPod also do all your phone and internet in one place is going to be very attractive. Everyone who plays with one wants one, and that alone puts it far ahead of any of the Windows Mobile devices or Nokia smartphones on the market,” observed Psychochromatic.


AT&T Employees told not to go anywhere from June 15th to July 12th

Engadget is saying that AT&T employees just got the summer of fun email that they got last year.  Expect to be bolted to your posts for a summer blockbuster product.  What?  We have no idea what is expected around then.

Just as a little reminder, last year’s iPhone launched on June 29th.  I guess it takes two weeks to set up the displays and learn how to say "take this home and connect it to the computer."

AT&T employees, we don’t envy you.   Have a nice summer.  See you in June.

iPhone, iPod touch becomes home music remote control

You want control, right? The convergence culture means every home now has a plethora of different remote controls, each for different devices. Wouldn’t it be handy if your iPhone or iPod touch also controlled all the CE devices in your crib? 

Well, we may have a wait until that happens but an announcement from Arkados means we can look forward to using Apple’s devices to control all manner of home streaming solutions. And with iTunes controls (allegedly) built-into the soon-to-ship iPhone Software 2.0, it’s natural others in the streaming home audio space want a place at the party. 

Fabless semiconductor company Arkados produces its own portfolio of connected home products, and now plans to widen its solutions by introducing its own chips and software to enable iPhone and iPod touch users to control their whole-house audio systems.

The company will in future offer up a reference design that will allow companies that produce home audio systems to embed Arkados chip-and-software solutions into a device that enables the iPhone or iPod to "talk" to and control whole-house audio systems.

In essence, this will mean iPhone or iPod touch will function as an intuitive and colourful handheld wireless remote control from anywhere within the home for such functions as song selection, volume control, or choosing which room the user would like to direct music to. Additionally, HomePlug powerline technology enables an easy-to-install and easy-to-use whole-house system, for a fraction of the cost of professionally installed systems.

Arkados  uses HomePlug technology to make it easier for customers to wire up their homes for music. It does this by using the existing electrical wires in the home.

The company cites recent CEA stats claiming the market for iPod docks grew 44.5 per cent in 2007 and is expected to grow another 27.7 per cent in 2008. It claims to be one of the first to market with powerline solutions for networked audio that “couple the appeal of whole-house music with the storage and portability aspects of an iPod, as well as with any music available in the home via internet, stereo systems, or PCs.”

Oleg Logvinov, President and CEO of Arkados said: "iPhone and iPod are the premier handheld devices in today’s marketplace. By utilizing them as the touch screen controller in our upcoming reference design, we enable millions of consumers to use these devices in the broader whole-house audio/video market."


3G iPhone ships in Europe 'by August' – sources

 Apple’s getting serious, planning to introduce its 3G iPhone across Europe by August, with help from its latest partner networks.

Apple’s aiming to ensure the new breed of mobile communications devices are available in quantity across Europe before August, presumably to make some sales before consumers here engage in their customary summer holidays that month.

This news emerges hot on the heels of Vodafone’s announcement today that it would sell the handset in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy and Portugal in Europe, as well as in Australia, Egypt, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey, later this year.

The move to sell the iPhone in Italy also suggests Apple is departing from its practice of inking exclusive deals with individual networks, as Telecom Italia has also confirmed its intent to sell the iPhone, the current model of which is only available in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, the US and Ireland. The device is also set for sale in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Korea and (potentially) China and Russia, according to various reports.

Most analysts believe the next-gen iPhone will be introduced in June, timed to coincide with Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). News of an August deadline for putting the device up for sale across Europe suggests Apple may plan a phased roll-out of the device, presumably introducing it to the US first – though how the company’s existing network partners in Europe are likely to respond to this isn’t clear.


Magic, marketing and the power of iPhone

 Not just a rerun (though it is) but an intimation of the kind of viral activity we expect to see on the iPhone.

This clip shows magician Marco Tempest employ some clever video animations as part of his act. Sure, it’s not magic per se, but it’s smart – and provides just a hint of the kind of activity big brand marketers are hoping will help them get all viral on the ‘Net.

See, New York-based creative marketing agency, Site International, this week confirmed it is developing a range of applications for the iPhone and the iPod touch, applications designed to harness the must-have power of the device with amusing viral ads for their client’s products.

One is for a yogurt chain interested in mobile coupons,. This ad/past time lets iPhone users create a “virtual smoothie”, mixing yogurt with a selection of fruits and other ingredients on the screen. Once mixed, the viral app lets a user virtually blend the ingredients using the iPhone screen, generating an on-screen bar code they can take to the yoghurt shop to have their choice of smoothie made on the spot.

‘”It’s a fun thing to show off to your friends and we think it can be an effective form of viral marketing.’" said Site Interactive CEO, Alan Ruthazer. 


3G iPhone Spy picts?

These look like what we’ve heard the 3G iPhone will look like.  Our source says that the 3G iPhone looks "more like an iPod" and these certainly follow that.  However, they just have a photoshopped quality about them – start with iPod Touch then…

You know the drill…if they are still here in 24 hours…no 3G iPhone for you!