Analyst Sees Strong Signs of Apple Moving Towards $500-$700 Tablet

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Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 12:13
Category: News

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With Apple execs having openly slammed the idea of creating a conventional netbook, Piper Jaffray analysts stated today that mounting evidence exists that Apple will introduce its own take on the netbook in 2010 via a tablet device that will sell for US$700 or less.
“Between indications from our component contacts in Asia, recent patents relating to multi-touch sensitivity for more complex computing devices, comments from [chief operating officer] Tim Cook on the April 22nd conference call, and Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi along with other recent chip-related hires, it is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise,” analyst Gene Munster and his team wrote in lengthy research note to clients.
According to AppleInsider, Munster has said these investments will likely culminate with the launch of a touch-screen tablet with a display somewhere between 7″ and 10″ at a special event sometime in the first half of 2010. Such a move, he added, would be consistent with management’s comments that Cupertino-based company has no interest in catering to the existing segment for “cheap” miniaturized notebooks and its spoken desire to differentiate in a market currently dominated by cramped computers with razor thin margins and a subpar user experience.
To date, Munster’s contacts in the component supply chain have yet to see a prototype of the device but say there’s ongoing discussions between the company and its suppliers about the parts that will eventually be required to build the product.
Munster has stated that he believes the device will end up retailing somewhere in the range of US$500 to US$700, bridging the gap between the US$399 iPod touch and the US$999 MacBook. He expects that it will be driven by a proprietary microprocessor designed in-house by engineers Apple adopted in the acquisition of P.A. Semi and others it’s known to have hired in recent months.
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Nvidia Admits to “Ongoing” Failure Problem in Some Notebooks During SEC Filing

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Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 08:22
Category: Finance

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Graphics processor firm Nvidia formally stated that some notebooks utilizing its chips continue to have “failure” issues, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.
Per cnet, Nvidia stated that though it does not continue to see “abnormal failure rates” in systems using Nvidia products,” some notebooks are still affected.
“We continue to not see any abnormal failure rates in any systems using Nvidia products other than certain notebook configurations. However, we are continuing to test and otherwise investigate other products,” Nvidia said, adding, “there can be no assurance that we will not discover defects in other MCP or GPU products.” (MCP stands for Media and Communications Processor; GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit.)
On July 2 of last year, Nvidia announced that the company was planning to take a one-time charge to cover costs associated with problems with materials used in certain versions of its laptop graphics chips. Subsequently, a US$196 million charge was recorded in the second quarter of its 2009 fiscal year to “cover anticipated customer warranty, repair, return, replacement and associated costs” with the problem.
In the company’s 10-Q filing, Nvidia cited a “balance of US$145.7 million associated with incremental repair and replacement costs from a weak die/packaging material set.” and “US$31.2 million for the three months ended April 26, 2009 in payments related to the warranty accrual associated with incremental repair and replacement costs from a weak die/packaging material set.”
Nvidia paid or incurred US$50.3 million against the original “warranty accrual” in its fiscal third quarter and fourth quarter 2009, such that the remaining balance of the “bump-crack accrual” (defect) was US$145.7 million at the end of its fiscal fourth quarter, according to Nvidia.
Nvidia is also negotiating with insurance companies over payments to PC makers regarding GPU failures, according to a report filed by TGDaily.
As early as 2007, Hewlett-Packard listed notebook models affected by the graphics chip glitch. In August 2008, Dell also listed affected models with Apple stating in October that it would repair faulty graphics chips.
In the 10-Q filing, Nvidia also stated that “in September, October and November 2008, several putative consumer class action lawsuits were filed against us, asserting various claims arising from a weak die/packaging material set in certain versions of our previous generation MCP and GPU products used in notebook systems.”

Intego Warns of Unrepaired Security Vulnerability in Mac OS X

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Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 08:48
Category: Software

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Security firm Intego has warned that a critical security vulnerability within the current version of Java has gone unrepaired for months and may place Mac OS X users at risk.
According to the company’s web site, the current version of Java incorporates a serious flaw that could allow local code on a user’s Mac to be executed remotely.
“This can lead to ‘drive-by attacks,’ where users are attacked simply by visiting a malicious web site and loading a web page,” the firm said.
The exploit could allow a third-party to execute code, access or delete files, or run applications on the compromised machine. Combined with other exploits, outside parties could even potentially run system-level processes and gain total access over the affected Mac.
Given that the vulnerability relies solely on Java, no native code is required to execute the flaw, which theoretically exists in all browsers on all platforms that have not been patched. This is the case with Mac OS X 10.5.7 and earlier, meaning the vulnerability affects even the update released just a week ago.
The firm claims that Apple has been aware of the exploit for at least five months, when it was publicly disclosed and fixed by Sun, but has yet to issue a security patch. The exploit was first discovered by Landon Fuller, who has released a proof of concept via his blog that outlines the security hole.
Intego has stated that it has not found any malicious applets in the wild thus far, but the publicity around this vulnerability may entice hackers to target the exploit before Apple issues a security update. The firm’s VirusBarrier X5 already blocks potential malware but unless users are sure they trust the site they’re viewing, simply disabling Java in the browser may provide the best protection while Apple works on a fix.
To disable Java, launch Safari, choose Safari > Preferences, click the Security tab, and uncheck “Enable Java” if it is checked. In Firefox, this setting is found on the Content tab of the program’s preferences. It is safe to leave JavaScript activated, since the vulnerability only affects Java applets.