PowerPage Podcast Episode 148 – Mac App Store

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 22:29
Category: Podcast

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Episode 148 of the PowerPage Podcast is now available. You can either download it from the iTunes Store or directly (22.4 MB, MP3).

Panel: Jason O’Grady and Rob Parker

Topics:
In this episode Rob and I discuss Apple’s brand-new Mac App Store, which launched on January 6 — and was cracked on the same day. We discuss its 10.6.6 requirement, the combo updater and some of our picks from the first 24 hours of the Mac App Store being open. Oh, and we play “What’s on your Mac.”

Here’s what’s on our Macs this week:

Jason

  • Alfred (free, Mac App Store) – Launcher for OS X that replaced QuickSilver and LaunchBar
  • Alfred Powerpack (~$19) – Extra features built on top of Alfred (file system navigation, result actions, etc.)
  • Caffeine (free, Mac App Store) – Tiny menu bar item to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep
  • AirFoil 4 ($25) – The premier tool for streaming audio around the house

Rob

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Intel exec cites Light Peak as ready for implementation

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 11:00
Category: Hardware, News

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It was on the horizon and now it’s here.

Per Macworld, an Intel executive on Friday said that its Light Peak interconnect technology, designed to link computers to devices like displays and external storage, is ready for implementation.

Light Peak, announced in 2009, was originally designed to use fiber optics to transmit data among systems and devices, but the initial builds will be based on copper, said David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Architecture Group, in an interview with IDG News Service at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“The copper came out very good, surprisingly better than what we thought,” Perlmutter said. “Optical is always a new technology which is more expensive,” he added.

Perlmutter declined to comment on when Light Peak-enabled devices would reach store shelves, saying shipment depended on device makers. Intel has in the past said that devices with Light Peak technology would start shipping in late 2010 or early this year.

For the majority of user needs today, copper is good, Perlmutter said. But data transmission is much faster over fiber optics, which will increasingly be used by vendors in Light Peak implementations.

Intel has said Light Peak technology would use light to speed up data transmission between mobile devices and products including storage, networking and audio devices. It would transfer data at bandwidths starting at 10 gigabits per second over distances of up to 100 meters. But with copper wires, the speed and range of data transmission may not be as great.

Computers today are linked to external devices using connectors like USB, but Perlmutter refused to be drawn into a debate on whether Light Peak would ultimately replace those technologies.

“USB 3.0 already has a traction in the market. I don’t know if that will change,” Perlmutter said.

There could be co-existence, with USB, display and networking protocols running on top of Light Peak.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple follows suit, drops iPhone 3GS handset price to $49 with AT&T contract

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:39
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Without a ton of fanfare, Apple has dropped the price of its entry-level 8GB iPhone 3GS handset to US$49 with a new two-year contract with AT&T, matching the new low price that last week was offered exclusively by the carrier.

The 8GB iPhone 3GS now retails for US$49, down from its original price of US$99. The price change came quietly, without an announcement from Apple, just a few days after AT&T revealed it had reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS as well.

Per AppleInsider, last week, AT&T made it clear that the price of the iPhone 3GS sold in Apple’s own channels, such as its retail and online stores, were determined by Apple itself, suggesting the US$50 price cut was solely AT&T’s doing. At the time, Apple’s official iPhone site still offered the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

The current-generation iPhone 4 models still carry the same price with a two-year AT&T contract. The 16GB model sells for US$199, while the high-end 32GB model has a price of US$299.

AT&T’s chief rival, Verizon, is widely expected to announce on Tuesday that it will carry a CDMA version of the iPhone in just a matter of weeks. While reports have said Verizon will offer the iPhone 4, no mention has been made of the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009. If Verizon’s deal is only for the iPhone 4, the US$49 iPhone 3GS could remain an AT&T exclusive.

Starting with the launch of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple began selling the previous year’s model with a two-year AT&T contract in the U.S. for US$99. While the initial US$99 handset from Apple was the iPhone 3G, last year that was upgraded to the 8GB iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 launched.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.