January 23, 2012

Pew Research published some incredibly impressive tablet sales data over the weekend.  From December to January, tablet ownership almost doubled.

While both the Nook Color and the Kindle Fire were included as tablets (not eReaders) and were hot this holiday season, the iPad is still by far the most popular tablet out there and likely the lion’s share of the 19 percent of American households which now own a tablet.  That translates to many iPads under the Christmas tree.

Tablet ownership increased for certain segments of the population more than others did…

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January 18, 2012

Fortune just published a long, fascinating excerpt from an upcoming book about Apple called “Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works by author Adam Lashinsky, Fortune’s senior editor-at-large. It reveals how far the company is willing to go to ensure its secretive culture. It also tells a tale of Apple’s organizational structure and what makes them tick. Interestingly, Lashinsky writes that Apple’s design guru Jonathan Ive is among the “untouchables,” corroborating claims laid out in the official Jobs biography book by Walter Isaacson. Apple’s late CEO told his biographer that he made sure nobody can touch his “spiritual partner” Ive at Apple. “That’s the way I set it up,” he told Isaacson. Speaking of Apple’s famous culture of secrecy and lack of corporate transparency (at Apple, everything is a secret!), Lashinsky writes it takes two basic forms —external and internal. Needles to say, many employees can hardly stomach security policies focused on preserving internal secrets:

Apple employees know something big is afoot when the carpenters appear in their office building. New walls are quickly erected. Doors are added and new security protocols put into place. Windows that once were transparent are now frosted. Other rooms have no windows at all. They are called lockdown rooms: No information goes in or out without a reason.

As you could imagine, this is “disconcerting” for employees. Organization charts are nowhere to be seen at Apple. There are no open doors as folks use badges to access areas that sometimes even their boss cannot. Only few people at Apple are allowed into Jonathan Ive’s industrial design bunker. People working on hot projects are required to sign “extra-special agreements acknowledging that you were working on a super-secret project and you wouldn’t talk about it to anyone – not your wife, not your kids.” Even former employees do not talk to press and some were reprimanded for talking too much. Apple goes to great lengths to prevent secrets from leaking and maintain discipline culminates with carefully orchestrated media events akin to a blockbuster Hollywood movie-opening weekend.

People working on launch events will be given watermarked paper copies of a booklet called Rules of the Road that details every milestone leading up to launch day. In the booklet is a legal statement whose message is clear: If this copy ends up in the wrong hands, the responsible party will be fired.

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January 17, 2012

Long before Eddy Cue was brought into the spotlight with his promotion to senior vice president of Internet software and service at Apple, the Duke-graduate had a major role under Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. Adam Lashinsky’s Inside Apple (available January 25) profiles Cue as Apple’s “dealmaking executive.”

Cue has been at Apple in several capacities over the past several years, and he has been cutting deals with music labels for iTunes, and most recently the music based services under iCloud. He also actually led initial iPhone discussions with AT&T. Famously, Cue was personally handed responsibility of the failing MobileMe team a few years ago, a move that defines Cue as Jobs’ problem solver.

Now, as a senior vice president, Cue is in charge of the iTunes Store, iBookstore, App Store, iCloud services, the iWork suite of applications, iAd, and more. Cue was on stage alongside Steve Jobs at WWDC 2011 to introduce iTunes in the Cloud and Photo Stream —two of Jobs’ favorite iCloud services, according to his keynote presentation. Cue was also on hand at Apple’s Oct. 4, 2011 “Let’s Talk iPhone” event to share more details on iCloud and its integration with Apple’s latest handset, the iPhone 4S.

As Apple’s dealmaker, Cue is likely the man in charge of striking deals with movie labels, television networks, cable providers, and more for the long-rumored Apple television set.

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Apple, effective today, ended its buy a Mac, get a $100 off of a printer promotion. The promotion typically runs yearly, so we are not sure why Apple stopped it. Apple sells a few $100 printers, so they typically advertise the promotion as “Buy a Mac, get a free printer.”

Although Apple is putting a stop to the program, they will continue to sell printers in their physical retail stores and online stores, according to the internal memo posted above. Customers who bought a printer within 90 days of Jan. 16 can still claim their $100 rebate from Apple.

Apple still has the rebate page up, below:

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Earlier this week, Apple pledged to let the Fair Labor Association access its suppliers’ facilities to monitor working conditions. Even though Apple is the first technology company admitted to the FLA, the snowballing issue of harsh conditions at Far East plants will not go away with the announcement. Quite the contrary, the problem has escalated and gone mainstream, with both The Daily Show and This American Life focusing on the grim reality of earning a living at Foxconn-operated sweatshops in China.

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show host and chief satirist, remarked in an episode yesterday:

By creating a convenient ecosystem, China’s Foxconn draws in employees who earn 31 cents an hour working for 35 hours straight, thereby saving American companies money.

As you know, Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry) is Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer, it but also produces gadgets for Amazon, Microsoft, HP, Dell and a variety of other brands. With that said, both shows tackle larger issues that affect just about every electronics manufacturer. The last week’s episode of This American Life, the popular radio program, weighed in as well. You can listen to their free audio stream here.

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Fortune Senior Editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky’s upcoming book about Apple’s inner workings titled Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works” is bound to become controversial. Unlike Steve Jobs’ authorized biographer Walter Isaacson, Lashinsky did not have direct access to Apple’s leadership team, employees nor did he have Jobs’ cooperation. Nevertheless, the author has deep connections so his book draws from this expertise, focusing on Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs, current CEO Tim Cook, design chief Jonathan Ive and head of iOS software Scott Forstall (pictured on the right). The young executive (43) has managed to accumulate power, and he now wields tremendous influence at Apple due to his iOS division contributing to as much as 70 percent of Apple’s total revenues. As such, Forstall is seen as Apple’s next CEO once Tim Cook steps down, which probably will not happen until 2021 if he is to vest his 1 million stock shares awarded last August. Here is how one source described Forstall in Lashinsky’s upcoming book, according to Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

He’s a sharp, down-to-earth, and talented engineer, and a more-than-decent presenter. He’s the total package.

Lashinsky conceded and explained:

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January 16, 2012

Source: IDG

Research firm IDG on Monday published a new survey called “iPad for Business 2012,” showing that the iPad is anything but a fad as far as big business is concerned. The global survey, available as a downloadable PDF document, noted that 91 percent of businesses that deployed iPads are using the device primarily for work, even if only approximately a quarter of issued devices were supplied as a corporate tool. Consumers and pros alike both use the device for media consumption, which in the case of the latter is predominantly text-based and work-related.

IT and business professionals certainly use their iPads at home. But unlike most consumers, they also use their devices in a similarly intensive way at work. In a further, decisive, break with consumer usage patterns, IT and business professionals use their devices on the road far more frequently than anywhere else.

Some 79 percent of IT professionals “always” use the iPads on the move and 59 percent “always” or “sometimes” use the device in offline mode. Road use usually entails planes, trains, automobiles, hotel lobbies, coffee shops, conference halls and meeting rooms, IDG noted, even though only 40 percent of iPads sold incorporate 3G connectivity.

More than three-quarters of polled workers use the iPads to browse the web, and 76 percent of pros said they “always” use iPads to read content. Meanwhile, 73 percent opted for news consumption and more than half— or 54 percent— use it for work communication. Some 79 percent tap into the iPad on the move and 54 percent use it at home. Social media, personal communication and entertainment follow with 44 percent, 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

Corporate iPads rarely supplant notebooks, though:

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January 10, 2012

We love this add-on to the Mac Mini that turns it into more of a pro-device (and a cube!).  The business up front is a DVD-R drive (not sure about BluRay) and an SDXC card reader that complements the one on the back of the mini. On the rear, you get a high power USB source for quick-charging an iPad as well as a few USB 3.0 ports that require separate drivers.  Also on the back is an eSATA port for fast external peripheral support as well as two Firewire 800 ports. Inside, there is room for up to a 4TB 3.5 inch hard drive which you can order with the Mini Stack Max or you can bring your own.

This is interesting because it is moving the Mini more toward a pro-like setup.


OWC has not put a price on the Mac Mini Stack Max but expects them to be available in March. expand full story

January 5, 2012

Epic Games and Chair Entertainment, developers of the popular on-rails, hack-and-slash iOS franchise called “Infinity Blade,” just announced the two titles have earned over $30 million since the first game launched in the App Store in December 2010. Assuming “earnings” accounts for total earnings, Apple’s 30 percent cut would be $9 million.

Epic Games, Inc. and its award-winning Salt Lake City-based development studio, ChAIR Entertainment, today announced that earnings from ChAIR’s blockbuster Infinity Blade video game franchise have eclipsed $30 million in just one year since the introduction of the original game. One of the most popular gaming franchises to be launched on the App Store, the award-winning series has also created significant licensing interest in the underlying Unreal Engine 3 technology from developers worldwide.

In the announcement (via Joystiq), the developers also noted that Infinity Blade II reached over $5 million in net earnings since its release last month on Dec. 1, 2011. In comparison, it took the first Infinity Blade title three months to achieve that milestone. The first game now accounts for more than $23 million of the franchise’s earnings.

The original Infinity Blade is available as a universal download for $5.99 here. Infinity Blade 2, which IGN gave a “Perfect 10” score, is available for $6.99. The companies also noted a number of other products in the franchise were released, including the Infinity Blade: Awakening digital novel (on Amazon here), and the Infinity Blade: Original Soundtrack.

Epic Games President Dr. Michael Capps said the following in a statement:

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January 3, 2012

Following multiple reports claiming that Apple is holding an event later this month to discuss new media-related services, Clayton Morris shared some tidbits that he has heard from sources. First, Morris claims he heard about the event in September 2011 and the event was originally scheduled for late 2011. Morris said the event has been long in the making and the announcements were close to Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs. Morris again affirmed that we will not be seeing hardware at the event and he expects two “large projects” relating to education to be announced.

We have independently heard that the iTunes team is on “lockdown mode” ahead of the announcements, which have been delayed before as also reported by Morris. This affirms that whatever Apple announces will be connected to iTunes in some fashion. Keep in mind the iTunes team runs the actual iTunes Store, the App Store, and the iBookstore.

Update: MacRumors reported that Apple has filmed promotional interviews with executives from the textbook publishing industry, possibly affirming that this upcoming event will focus on digital textbooks. They noted that while these interviews have indeed been worked on, there is no confirmation that they relate to this upcoming event.

Update 2: Goodereader claimed that Apple will be launching an iTunes self-publishing service with the EPUB format… expand full story

December 30, 2011

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design Jonathan Ive can add a new title to his resume: Sir Jonathan Ive. According to BBC, Ive was granted knighthood in the United Kingdom in the New Year Honours List. The report said that Ive’s official title is a Knight Commander of the British Empire. Ive, who was born and raised in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States to pursue design work, said that the honor is “absolutely thrilling.”

Ive credits his home country for some of his incredible design work: “I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the U.K. of designing and making.” While Ive has had an extremely successful career in Cupertino, California as Apple’s design chief, recent rumors said the designer of the iPod, iMac, iPhone, and most recently the iPad, was considering a move back to the United Kingdom. Soon after those rumors, a reliable report claimed Ive would not be leaving…

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December 29, 2011

I have been using the Otterbox Defender case for the iPhone 4S for a couple of months now and it is one of the most versatile and most protective pieces of phone protection currently on the market. The outer design of the case, what you and others see, is an apparently rubberized material – but do not be deceived by that soft appearance and soft feel. It is a heavy-duty case that does a fantastic job at protecting your phone.

The Defender is a three-layered case. The first layer is an inner plastic shell that you slide your phone into, and this hard, yet lightweight, plastic protects your iPhone 4S from dents. That first layer is augmented with the rubbery layer that adds more protect against drops, but also protects against scratches. Its rubbery material makes sure that when your phone is dropped in any environment it is safe. The third layer is a belt clip that adds some more protection, but its main purpose is to, of course, allow you to wear your iPhone on your belt or clothing…

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December 28, 2011

(We’re offering a $10 discount/free Parallels MacBook Air contest this week)

If you are not new to Parallels, you will already be familiar with its ability to run Windows in a virtual machine within OS X. You might also be familiar with its Coherence view mode that allows you to run Windows and Mac OS applications side by side, rather than a full-blown Windows 7 in a separate window. However, Parallels Desktop 7 takes it to the next level with some of the deepest Windows/OS X integration yet.

The name of the game for the new Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac is definitely OS X Lion integration. Pretty much every new UI feature incorporated into Lion has been integrated into Parallels, and thus Windows 7. We put the new version to the test with both Windows 7 and Windows 8 developer preview on last year’s iMac with 4GB of RAM.

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Apple’s patent war with the rest of the smartphone industry clearly has mixed results. According to Bloomberg, Apple could potentially cut its losses and collect as much as a $10 royalty per device if it were to reach settlements with competitors. Apple could also leverage its patents to reach deals with rivals that would allow the company to better control adoption of new technologies and avoid competitors modifying products to workaround patents.

Early victories in Australia saw sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned in October, only to be overturned by another Australian court ruling in November. Similar temporary bans in place by German courts will likely be overturned after Samsung agreed to modify aspects of the tablet’s design infringing on Apple patents.

With Apple suing just about every major smartphone maker in the industry regarding patent infringement, 3LP Advisors’ Kevin Rivette, previously vice president of IP strategy at IBM, said it is in Apple’s best interest to strike settlements to have access and control over their competitor’s technologies.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Rivette described a scenario where Apple allows rivals to adopt Apple patented technologies to essentially squeeze them into a favorable ecosystem that avoids litigation:

“If I’m Apple, I want divided loyalties [from Android licensees]. At this point, it would make more sense for Apple to build an ecosystem that everyone can live in. If you’re going to license, why not go for the big deal where you lock down supply chains, get your technologies broadly adopted and slow down competitors? That is the game.”

Rivette provided a few interesting scenarios. In one, he suggested that Apple drop its court cases with Samsung in exchange for the company agreement to not use Apple technology for a year. He also imagined Tim Cook negotiating better prices on components that Samsung currently provides as one of Apple’s largest component suppliers. He also suggested Apple could agree to not go after the 7-inch tablet market or even allow Samsung to use iTunes:

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Update: Our grand prize winner just chose an iPad 2. Her handle is @zippy573.

To mark our Parallels 7 review below, 9to5Mac and Parallels are teaming up to offer one of our readers a free copy of Parallels every day for the next week.  At the end of the contest, which stretches into 2012, we’ll give one lucky winner* an iPad 2 or MacBook Air.  Here’s how to play:

Retweet this post (“Free copies of Parallels Desktop 7 each day and a chance to win a MacBook Air/ iPad 2. RT to enter! http://bit.ly/vZrzDM”). Once per day limit.  We’ll start again at midnight Pacific time each day.

Parallels will pick a winner and we’ll update daily via @ParallelsMac

The Prizes:

  • Grand Prize: New MacBook Air with Windows 7 Home Edition (or iPad 2 with Parallels Mobile), Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac and the Parallels Mobile app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch
  • Daily Prize during the promotion: Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

For everyone else, we have a $10 off coupon code (“9TO5MAC”) for Parallels 7 which makes the update $39.99. For new users, take $10 off for $69.99 and for Students, it is $39.99.  Of course, Amazon has Parallels 7 for $50 in the box if you don’t mind the wait.

Learn more about Parallels Desktop 7’s new features at their ParallelsTV YouTube page.

*note: Parallels winners can be anywhere in the world, MacBook Air winners must be in the US.

Update: Congrats to @Michael_EDavis, @LGM777, @Zyxz13 & @arifmyself for winning a copy of Parallels. 


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December 27, 2011

Citing their usual industry sources within the Asian supply chain, DigiTimes claimed Dec. 27 that Apple is prepping an HDTV for a summer 2012 launch that will be initially available in 32-inch and 37-inch variants.

According to its report, suppliers will begin the early stages of production in the first quarter of 2012. Apple is apparently shooting for a Q2 or Q3 2012 release window. DigiTimes also confirmed that the device will indeed be a full-fledged HDTV. In addition, other sources indicate Apple could also possibly release a refreshed Apple TV set-top box:

Instead of a form of set-top box (STB) like the Apple TV launched in 2006, Apple’s new products will be full TV sets…However, other sources also revealed that Apple may continue to launch its next-generation STB-like Apple TVs in 2012 as it has lowered the price of its current version of Apple TV listed on Amazon by 9% recently.

The report also claimed the Korean press are running stories that confirm Samsung Electronics is producing chips for the Apple branded HDTV, while Sharp will supply the displays. This information supports a report from The Tokyo Times in November that claimed Apple signed with Sharp to begin production of large displays in January.

It also follows a lengthy report from WSJ that claimed Apple executives are in talks with heads of media companies regarding an HDTV with Siri-like voice control, enhanced AirPlay functionality, and iCloud/DVR capabilities.

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December 23, 2011

Mockup by CiccareseDesing. 

CiccareseDesign has quite a head-turning portfolio of Apple product mockups. Gorgeous, brave and imaginative… most are, however, poised to remain a wishful thought. Its newest rendering is especially interesting as it depicts what a rumored 7.85-inch iPad would look like compared to the existing 9.7-inch device. According to supply chain sources, Apple is set to release the iPad mini in 2012, with the production slated for the second quarter.

For those that never held Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire, this mockup helps people understand why a smaller iPad might make sense. Still not convinced? Print a pair of downloadable PDFs (Home Screen, Keyboard) at 100 percent size. You will immediately get a feel of how a 7.85-inch Apple tablet could measure against the iPad. You can also view it in actual size in the iPad’s web browser here.

Another mockup is showcased after the break.

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December 22, 2011


December 21, 2011

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