iMac retail shortages hint at new models on the horizon

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 26th, 2010, 04:14
Category: iMac, News

newimac.jpg

A number of Apple retail stores have apparently run out of stock of both current 21.5″ and 27″ iMac models, ahead of an expected refresh to the desktop Mac hardware.

Per AppleInsider, a reader sent word Sunday that the 21.5″ iMac, and quad-core 27″ model are both unavailable for the Reserve and Pick Up option at the company’s retail store in Buffalo, N.Y. In addition, some desktops are unavailable in other locations, including Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City, where the quad-core 27″ is not available for pick-up.

However, for those shopping on Apple’s online store, the hardware is still scheduled to ship within 24 hours.

The changes to the company’s Reserve and Pick Up option come soon after Apple warned its direct and indirect sales channels of near-term shortages of the iMac. The company is drawing down its inventory ahead of the launch of new models, expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

Among those out of stock in some locations are the 3.06GHz 21.5″ iMac, of which Apple has told distributors not to expect any further stock, implying that production of the model has ceased.

Potential configurations of the new hardware include a dual-core Core i5 model and quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 configurations. Sources close to the story had previously indicated that Intel’s low-end Core i3 processor would also find its way into the iMac line.

Earlier this month, it was alleged that the forthcoming iMac update would add USB 3.0, as well as faster FireWire connectivity. The new hardware is not expected to have support for Blu-ray discs.

Signs of another hardware update also came through Apple’s online store Reserve and Pick Up option last week, when customers discovered limited availability of the company’s other line of desktop machines, the Mac Pro. Users found that multiple retail stores showed no availability of either the Quad-Core or 8-core Mac Pro models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VLC 1.1.1 update released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 26th, 2010, 04:06
Category: News, Software

vlclogo.jpg

Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.1. The new version, a 39.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Multiple libVLC improvements and fixes.

- Windows video output fixes.

- DxVA2 decoding on ATI GPU, with Catalyst 10.7.

- Multiple fixes for interfaces.

- Various decoders and demuxers fixes.

- Updated translations.

- Various crashes and errors fixed.

VLC 1.1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback about it, please let us know.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.8 update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 23rd, 2010, 15:10
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.8 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, an 18.7 megabyte download, sports the following major change:

- Version 3.6.8 fixes a single stability issue affecting some pages containing plugins.

Firefox 3.6.8 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run. If you’ve snagged the new version and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

Some iOS 4 users complain of Bluetooth bug with iPhone 3GS, 4 handsets

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 23rd, 2010, 03:06
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, this has to be the part where someone at Apple finally slams their head against the desk and wishes to just go home and snuggle up with a blanket and a cup of cocoa for the rest of the day.

Per AppleInsider, some users of iOS 4 on both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS say their handset has constantly dropped wireless Bluetooth connections with both headsets and in-car systems.

Numerous users contacted the publication to report a number of problems specific to iOS 4 with Bluetooth connectivity. A number of people who upgraded their iPhone 3GS found that their phone’s Bluetooth became problematic, even though it worked fine before the iOS 4 update. And others who bought a new iPhone 4 have encountered some of the same issues.

“Nearly every time I’m in my car the iPhone disconnects from the built-in Bluetooth system,” one reader with an iPhone 4 wrote. “This never, ever happened with my 3G phone. I have a case number with AppleCare and they refuse to acknowledge the problem or replace the phone, even after having the problem persist after downloading a fresh copy of IOS 4, reinstalling the software and setting the phone up bare with no other apps. Could this be another antenna problem?”

In numerous threads on the official Apple Discussions forums, users have shared similar problems (1, 2, 3, 4).

Users have said that their Bluetooth connections will sporadically drop after the two devices are successfully paired. Others can connect, but are met with a message that says “no media found” when trying to play music. And some said they have experienced muffled voices when placing a call over Bluetooth.

A number of users on the forums noted that the recent iOS 4.0.1 update did not fix the Bluetooth issues. The minor update featured a cosmetic fix that changed how the iPhone reports bars of signal strength.

The Bluetooth pairing issues are said to exist across a range of devices, including vehicles from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, car stereos from Pioneer and Alpine, and headsets from Motorola and Jawbone.

Some said they have fixed the problem by resetting the phone’s settings. This can be done by launching the Settings application, choosing General, Reset, and Reset All Settings. Interestingly, the same fix was said to work for some who experienced issues with the proximity sensor on the iPhone 4. Apple has said it is working on a software fix for the proximity sensor problems with the iPhone 4, but has made no mention of the reported Bluetooth problems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue from your end, let us know.

Apple begins Bumper case refunds to customers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 23rd, 2010, 03:33
Category: iPhone, News

Customers who had already bought iPhone Bumpers before Apple offered free cases to all iPhone 4 users have started to receive refunds from the company according to Macworld.

At last week�s iPhone 4 press conference, Apple said it would provide free cases to anyone who buys the iPhone 4 before September 30th. That free case offer includes a choice of either Apple�s Bumper or a third-party case. As part of that offer, Apple said it would offer refunds to iPhone 4 users who had already bought Bumper cases from Apple.

On Thursday, some customers who bought their Bumpers from Apple�s online store reported receiving refund notices from Apple. The message from Apple begins by informing the customer of the situation, and that �as of today, we have automatically processed your refund.� Apple is also refunding shipping and VAT charges as well.

There is no word on how many customers have gotten refunds so far or how long this automatic refund process for online Bumper orders will take.

Apple made the free case offer for iPhone 4 users after complaints emerged regarding the handset�s antenna surfaced. The most common complaint involves the reception bars disappearing from the iPhone�s status bar when users hold the device a certain way, with their fingers covering the phone�s antennas.

At last week�s press conference, Apple said iPhone 4 owners would be able to apply for a new case at its Website starting at some point this week. As of late Thursday, Apple�s site had not yet been update with new information on how to order a case.

In a personal visit to an Apple Store location this week, an Apple Store representative claimed Apple would be formally announcing the next step in its free Bumper case/case refund late this week.

We hope to have more to report today and will let you know the moment additional details are confirmed.

Skype for iPhone 2.1 released, background multitasking feature added

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 05:13
Category: iPhone, News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

Skype for iPhone 2.1 went live yesterday and albeit the update was relatively minor, users running iOIS 4 can now run Skype in the background on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS running iOS4. As a result, Skype users can now receive Skype calls and instant messages while other apps are running or the iPhone is locked. As with the iPhone’s Phone app, you can continue your call while you switch to another application.

Both Skype for iPhone and the update are free.

Skype for iPhone requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Current 27″ iMac unable to accept 1080p video input, firmware update may be en route

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 03:34
Category: iMac, News

newimac.jpg

Apple’s updated 27″ iMac launched with a new feature: a Mini DisplayPort video port that worked in both directions, enabling external video sources to output video to the screen. Unfortunately, this feature is largely limited to 720p in HDTV applications however.

Per AppleInsider, this limitation effectively limits the iMac to accepting video input from recent MacBooks or other computers that produce DisplayPort video, which works significantly differently from earlier analog VGA or digital formats such as DVI/HDMI.

The shortcoming can be bridged by a converter box that accepts a DVI/HDMI signal (the two video standards are essentially the same in different packaging), transforms it to DisplayPort signaling, and scales it to the output resolution of the iMac.

A simple physical adapter won’t work for video input due to the iMac’s DisplayPort-only input limitation; cheap Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters can only extract the HDMI output signal the iMac generates and pushes through its Mini DisplayPort connector. They do not do any signal translation.

Two products that can do this translation work are the AV360™ Mini DisplayPort Converter and Kanex HD, both of which retail for US$150. However, while those products appear to be capable of generating both 720p and 1080p output, the 27″ iMac only accepts 720p video or its native 2560×1440 resolution.

It appears the 27″ iMac could accept 1080p input, and certainly can support display of the video resolution, as it falls well within its 2560×1440 native resolution. A similar problem affects Apple’s 24″ LED Cinema Display, which has a native 1920×1200 resolution but only supports that resolution via its DisplayPort input; like the 27″ iMac, it won’t accept a 1080p signal (1920×1080), the common format of higher end HD equipment such as HDMI set top boxes and the PS3, even though it appears it should be able to.

The problem is that Apple’s EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) on the iMac and LED Cinema Display doesn’t advertise 1080p as an option. EDID is a simple data structure a display sends to output devices that outlines what video formats and settings it knows how to support. Both devices appear capable of 1080p but simply don’t advertise that capability in a way that external devices like the AV360 and Kanex HD can take advantage of.

It appears Apple could update the firmware for these displays to enable support of 1080p input, allowing users to input full 1080p video from devices such as a PlayStation 3 or current MacBook. Users might not notice a major difference, as experts say its hard to see a real difference between 720p and 1080p on screens smaller than 50 inches.

However, some devices are hardwired to only support 1080p, and can’t scale their output to support the Cinema Display’s slightly higher resolution nor the 27″ iMacs much higher resolution, forcing them to downscale to 720p or not work at all (as is the case with the LED Cinema Display, which is really only indended to work with Apple’s Mini DisplayPort-equipped MacBooks and modern desktop Macs).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple cites $15.7 billion in sales, $3.25 billion profit for 2010 Q3 financial report

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 04:37
Category: Finance, News

applelogo_silver

Apple generated its best quarter to date, reporting US$15.7 billion in sales and a profit of US$3.25 billion yesterday with shares accelerating US$3.51 per share, up 75% in the year over year from the same period in 2009. The company’s results beat analyst expectations of $3.10 a share and $14.74 billion in revenue according to Macworld.

The company sold a record 3.47 million Macs during the three-month period ended June 26, 2010, another quarterly record for the company that topped the previous high sales mark by 100,000 units. Mac sales increased 33% over the 2.6 million units Apple sold in the third quarter of 2009. Oppenheimer noted that Apple’s 33% sales growth topped the 22% growth rate market research firm IDC projects for the overall computer market.

As expected, portables drove Mac sales for the three months ending in June. Of the 3.47 million Macs sold, 71% were laptops.

The third quarter also marked the first full quarter of sales for the iPad, Apple’s new tablet. Apple said it sold 3.27 million iPads during the quarter with the company seeing US$2.17 billion in recognized revenue from iPad sales during the quarter. The tablet is currently shipping in 10 countries, and Apple plans to introduce the iPad to 9 more countries on July 23rd. The company also stated that it’s selling iPads just as fast as it’s making them, while attempting to increase manufacturing capacity.

Apple sold 8.4 million iPhones in the third quarter, a 61% jump over last year’s figures. The iPhone 4, which debuted in the waning days of the third quarter, made up about 20% of those sales—or more than 1.7 million units. Apple called the iPhone 4 launch the most successful product launch in its history.

Consumer demand for the new phone has been so great, in fact, that Apple has had trouble filling orders. Last month, the company announced that it would delay the release of the white iPhone 4—it’s expected to ship by the end of July. iPhone 4 orders placed through Apple’s online store list a three-week shipping wait as of this writing. (In contrast, the 8GB iPhone 3GS ships within 24 hours.)

Apple saw recognized revenue from its handsets of US$5.33 billion during the quarter, up 74% from last year’s figures. Apple says the iPhone has a sales value of US$5 billion, for an average selling price of US$595.

Combining the sales of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Apple sales there are now 100 million devices running its iOS mobile operating system.

iPod sales fell during the third quarter of 2010. Though the company sold 9.41 million iPods, the figure represented an 8% drop from the 10.2 million music players Apple sold in the year-ago quarter. The iPod segment has seen declining growth for some time now, particularly outside of the holiday shopping season. During the fiscal second quarter, iPod sales dipped by 1% while the 2009 third quarter saw a 7% decline in sales.

Despite the decline, the music device remains the top-selling MP3 player internationally and continues to command a 70% market share in the U.S. More significantly to Apple, the iPod touch continues to grow with Apple stating that sales of that product were up 48% from the year-ago quarter, leading to a 12% increase year-over-year in average selling price for the music player. Apple’s iPod segment saw quarterly revenue of US$1.5 million, a 4% increase from last year.

With regard to the iTunes Store, Apple cited more than $1 billion in revenue, a growth rate of 25% year over year. The mobile app segment of the store has grown to 225,000 apps, with 11,000 specifically built for the iPad. Users have download more than 5 billion apps from the App Store, Apple says.

Apple ended the third quarter with 293 Apple Store locations, the company opening seven more during the three-month period. Four of those new stores were opened in the U.S., while two opened in Australia; the remaining new store was in Canada.

Retail stores generated US$2.58 billion in revenue during the quarter, jumping 73% from the year-ago numbers. Apple sold 677,000 Macs via its retail stores, compared to 492,000 last year; half of the Macs sold at Apple Store were to customers new to the platform, Apple says.

Apple plans to open 24 stores during the fourth quarter. In addition to an outlet in Shanghai, China, that opened earlier this month, noteworthy store openings include ones in Paris, London, and Apple’s first two stores in Spain.

Apple ended its fiscal third quarter with US$45.8 billion in cash and short-term investments, up from US$41.7 billion at the end of last quarter.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending in September, Apple expects revenue of US$18 billion and earnings per share to come in around US$3.44. Analysts were predicting sales of US$17.03 billion and earnings of US$3.82 per share in advance of Apple’s announcement on Tuesday.

Apple said it would defer revenue during the quarter as a result of its decision to offer free cases to iPhone 4 customers. Last week, the company made its free case offer after reports of reception problems related to the placement of antennas in the iPhone 4. Oppenheimer put the cost of the case giveaway at US$175 million; Apple will recognize the cost of those cases as they’re delivered to customers.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.7 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 03:17
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.7 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, an 18.7 megabyte download, sports the following major change:

- Version 3.6.7 is a security and bug-fixing release.

Firefox 3.6.7 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run. If you’ve snagged the new version and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

Apple shifts remaining online, retail Bumper stock over for giveaway

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2010, 05:55
Category: iPhone, News

When in doubt, throw some free bread to the rioting masses…

Per iLounge, Apple has pulled its remaining stock of iPhone 4 Bumper cases from its retail and online Stores ahead of its free giveaway. A check with an Ohio-based retail store, as well as with Apple�s online store, shows no availability of the Apple-branded cases, and a retail store representative confirmed with iLounge that the cases had been pulled due to the giveaway.

Apple announced on Friday that it would be offering a free Bumper or other, yet-to-be-determined case to all current iPhone 4 users and those who purchase the handset by September 30th due to complaints over the iPhone 4�s antenna issues.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.