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!

Purchase New Movies on iTunes Same Day as DVD Release

 Apple today confirmed overnight chatter claiming the company will make new film releases from most leading studios available for purchase through iTunes Store in the US on the same day as their DVD release.

Both new films and catalogue titles will be available from a range of studios, including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney

Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios.

We’re thrilled to bring iTunes Store customers new films for purchase day-and-date with the DVD release," said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. "We think movie fans will love being able to buy their favorites from major and independent studios."

New releases available for purchase on the iTunes Store this week, concurrent with their DVD release, include ‘American Gangster’ and ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’. Other popular titles now available for purchase include ‘Juno,’ ‘Cloverfield,’ ‘I Am Legend,’ and others.

Movies are available in the US only and are $9.99 for library title purchases and $14.99 for new releases. Rentals cost $2.99 and $3.99 respectively.



iPhone's future desktop file sync?

…Asmundson reports that networking giant Cisco is developing software that creates a real-time link between the iPhone and your computer. The result: A user could simply aim his iPhone at his computer and "sweep" the file to it with a finger flick, sending the file to the desktop over the phone’s built in wi-fi connection.


Apple in the wireless technology game?

According to today’s Form 10-Q for APPLE INC filing, Apple is

…developing new digital lifestyle consumer and professional software applications; and investing in new product areas such as iPhone and wireless technologies.

Are you guys thinking what we are thinking

Probably not.  We are thinking about a weekend barbeque.  But no doubt Apple is considering wireless technologies like WiMAX and 802.21.  Right?  Oh, and what "new digital lifestyle and professional apps" are we looking at? 


AT&T giving free Wi-Fi to iPhone customers

As predicted in February, US iPhone subscribers are now getting free Wi-Fi Access at AT&T hotspots around the country including Barnes and Noble and Starbucks.  This correlates to the plans offered in the UK by O2 and Tmobile in Germany. 

Apparantly it isn’t terribly hard to spoof the iPhone interface and get your laptop on free WiFi either – as a Macrumors forum poster shows us.  No announcement from AT&T or Apple has been made but expect one shortly.

EFF slaps Microsoft over MSN Music let-down

 The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has lambasted Microsoft for its move to effectively disable the music collections of its former MSN Music customers.

In an open letter sent to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, EFF demand the company apologise to its former customers, pays compensation and that it should in future work. “Betrayed MSN Music customers deserve more,” the EFF declares.

MSN Music sold song downloads encrusted in digital rights management (DRM), allowing the music to be played only on approved devices. Music fans who upgrade their computers must reauthorise their music files with MSN Music’s DRM server – which the company last week announced it plans to shut down later this year, “because of the complexity of maintaining the technology.”

“MSN Music customers trusted Microsoft when it said that this was a safe way to buy music, and that trust has been betrayed," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "If Microsoft is prepared to treat MSN Music customers like this, is there any reason to suppose that future customers won’t get the same treatment?

“With MSN Music, Microsoft has admitted just how expensive, clumsy, and unfair DRM is. It’s time for Microsoft to reject this sloppy technology, and for customers to demand something better," McSherry said.