Early Predictions Arrive for Apple Q3 Earnings

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Date: Monday, July 20th, 2009, 04:30
Category: News

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Apple’s Q3 numbers come out tomorrow and per CNET, while results have been both eventful and mixed, analysts are expecting more positive than negative numbers when it’s said and done.

During the quarter, which ended June 30, the company released the third-generation iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, which can be regarded as a success, though its Mac and iPod divisions may not see identical results.

Throughout the quarter, Apple did pay a nod to consumers’ tight budgets, lowering prices on its Mac notebook lineup although keeping other prices about the same.

Analysts are expecting revenues for the quarter between US$7.88 billion and US$8.44 billion, and earnings per share between US$1.02 and US$1.31. Apple itself, which always gives guidance on the low side, is anticipating revenue between US7.7 billion and US$7.9 billion and earnings per share between 95 cents and a dollar.

Over the quarter, Apple’s stock jumped 21.4%, rising to US$147.52, since its last earnings report in late April. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who stood in for CEO Steve Jobs, has received high marks for keeping the company running smoothly in its leader’s absence. Jobs has been back at work, at least part-time, since the end of June.

Apple announced that the company had sold 1 million iPhones worldwide in the first weekend the 3GS was on the market, and AT&T said the first day the phone was available marked the best sales day in the carrier’s history. Analytical firm Piper Jaffray jumped in on this, specifically stating that it anticipates total iPhones sold for the quarter will be 5 million.

Mac revenue will show if price cuts are helping. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says Apple sold 2.2 million Macs during the quarter, and says it is getting a boost from the price cuts it applied when it upgraded its entire aluminum MacBook line to MacBook Pros. Per recent counts from IDC, which only tracks Apple’s sales in the U.S., showed that Mac shipments dipped more than 12% during this quarter while the entire PC industry was down 3.1% worldwide.

For those wanting a cool new item, the iPods’ annual tuneup is expected in September, when it has taken place the past few years. Where the iPod business has also been slowing down a bit, Piper Jaffray predicts sales to be down 7% from a year ago, though Apple has been increasingly focused on its iPod Touch, which has access to the popular App Store and is expected to get a reboot in September similar to the iPhone 3GS.

Apple also continues to put away cash during the quarter. As Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech pointed out, Apple added US$800 million in cash during the last quarter, bringing its total to US$28.9 billion. Only Cisco’s US$29 billion in cash is better among technology companies.

Stay tuned for full Q3 coverage tomorrow and let us know what’s on your mind via the comments!

Winclone 2.1.2 Utility Out the Door

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Date: Monday, July 20th, 2009, 03:11
Category: News, Software

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You know, I haven’t heard of this, but it looks useful. Over the weekend, developer twocanoes.com released version 2.1.2 of Winclone, the company’s backup utility that allows users to make a quick clone of their Boot Camp partition as well as restore from that image. The new version, a two megabyte download, fixes a minor issue with quoting of gptfresh that caused issues at the end of restores.

Winclone 2.1.2 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried Winclone and have an opinion about it, let us know in the comments.

Apple Posts iPhone OS 3.1 Beta 2, New Mac OS X 10.6 Seed

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Date: Wednesday, July 15th, 2009, 05:30
Category: News

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Last night, Apple distributed iPhone developers with a second beta of its upcoming iPhone OS 3.1 firmware as well as offered Mac developers a new incremental build of its forthcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system.

According to ArsTechnica, iPhone OS 3.1 beta 2 is only accessible to those with an existing developer account and provides a number of fixes and features, including the ability to connect to and work with a system wirelessly, without the tether of a USB cable.

No official information is available regarding the upcoming iPhone OS 3.1 as developers are currently under a non-disclosure agreement. The second beta is available at the iPhone Dev Center Web site.

Though the new feature does free up a USB port and allows more flexibility for developers, Apple has reportedly warned that physically tethering is still the preferred method, as it is faster and consumes less power.

As revealed with the first release, iPhone OS 3.1 is expected to add Bluetooth and video features. Users can now invoke Voice Control using a Bluetooth headset rather than a wired headset or the built-in microphone. When editing video clips, users can save a copy of the trimmed video instead of permanently losing the discarded ends.

The article reports that developers cannot install applications from Xcode or debug them via WiFi.

Further additions appear to improve battery life, greater access to video recording features for developers, and possible preparation for adding MMS support for AT&T subscribers.

The first iPhone OS 3.1 beta and SDK reportedly included roughly a dozen new extensions for the OpenGL ES graphics library, allowing developers to improve graphics on the iPhone 3GS. Beta 2 reportedly includes fixes for the OS Xcode, as well as other facets of the software.

Where the conventional Mac OS X operating system is concerned, developers testing Snow Leopard received build 10A411 of the operating system over the next-gen system’s Software Update mechanism.

“This Snow Leopard Developer Preview Update is recommended for all users running the Snow Leopard Developer Preview Build 10A402 or later,” Apple reportedly told developers. “This update includes general operating system fixes for stability, compatibility, and security.”

The latest update weighs in at roughly 730 MB, about half the size of build 10A402a distributed last week.

Intel May Release Updated Nehalem Processors Next Month

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Date: Tuesday, July 14th, 2009, 05:45
Category: News, Processors

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Processor giant Intel looks ready to deliver a new line of server, notebook and desktop processors based on its new Nehalem microarchitecture next month. According to DigiTimes, the new chips will cut down on bottlenecks that plague its current chips as well as be able to execute more tasks while drawing less power.

An industry source with knowledge of Intel’s plans said the company will deliver new Xeon server processors belonging to the 5500 and 3500 chip families starting early August. Chip specifics weren’t immediately available. The Mac Pro lineup introduced by Apple in March runs on Xeon 5500 ad 3500 chips.

Additional reports have stated that Intel will bring its latest chip microarchitecture to high-end mainstream desktops and laptops starting in September. The company will launch quad-core desktop chips code-named Lynnfield in early September, followed by quad-core laptop chips code-named Clarksfield later in the month, according to the report, which cited industry sources.

Intel officials declined comment, saying the company doesn’t talk about rumors. “But I can say that Lynnfield and Clarksfield are on track for second-half 2009 production,” an Intel spokesman said in an e-mail.

The Lynnfield and Clarksfield chips will be manufactured using the 45-nanometer process, according to Intel’s road map, and should be shipped before its shift to the more efficient 32-nm manufacturing process later this year.

The company is also slated to launch chips for new ultrathin laptops (the Celeron SU2300 and Celeron 743 processors) in September per the Digitimes report.

The Nehalem architecture integrates a memory controller into a CPU and provides a faster pipe for the processor to communicate with system components like a graphics card and other chips. It also allows execution of two software threads simultaneously, so a system with four processor cores could run eight threads simultaneously for quicker application performance. The chips will be manufactured using the 45-nanometer process.

While the new Nehalem chips may be limited to desktops and laptops on the higher price band, affordably priced systems could see new chips when Intel switches to the 32-nm process. The 32-nm chips will integrate a graphics processor and CPU in one chip, which could boost graphics performance while drawing less power than existing processors.

T-Mobile, Orange May be Arranging to Sell iPhones to UK Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, July 14th, 2009, 04:56
Category: News

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Across the pond, wireless carrier O2’s exclusivity deal within the UK marketplace may be coming to an end within the next few months. According to MacNN, competitor T-Mobile stated that it’s already in negotiation with Apple and could begin carrying the iPhone 3G within a matter of months. The iPhone 3GS has not been mentioned by T-Mobile so far, nor is it said to have been brought up by Orange, also rumored to be pushing for UK sales.

Like the United States, the UK has had only one official iPhone carrier since 2007, in spite of an increasing number of foreign countries hosting multiple carriers. The existence of competitive iPhone providers is thought to be beneficial to both Apple and the public, driving down prices and forcing carriers to bend to Apple’s restrictions. For carriers however the open market can hurt profit margins, and invalidate millions in currency paid to secure exclusive rights.

Multiple US carriers may not arrive until at least 2011, when LTE (4G) networks are slated to go live through AT&T and Verizon.

Apple Applies for Wireless License in China

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Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple may have finally cleared a major hurdle in bringing its iPhone handset to China, as the company has reportedly applied for a Network Access License in the Asian country. The moves could put a release just a few months away, albeit without Wi-Fi.

According to AppleInsider, Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison claims that the application was filed on Friday, July 10th, but doesn’t make any mention of onboard Wi-Fi. Rumors have repeatedly hinted that Apple may be forced to remove Wi-Fi to appease the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which would prefer that iPhone owners use local networks.

Apple has supposedly been “hellbent” on shipping the iPhone to China with Wi-Fi but appears to have relented in order to get the phone into the populous nation.

If the process moves along as usual, this revised iPhone would take between four to six months to receive the green light and go on sale. This would put a launch no later than January, and Mathison seemed confident that the device would arrive before the Chinese New Year, which in 2010 will start in mid-February. Mathison stated that he views the licensing as partly a negotiation tactic that would help bring Apple closer to a deal with China Unicom, the carrier recently pegged as the most likely candidate for an iPhone due to its inherent compatibility with the iPhone’s existing 3G standards.

While it’s rare to have an estimate that narrows the release window for an iPhone in China, whether or not this latest prediction is accurate remains debatable. Local carriers have been in talks with Apple since at least late 2007, and one-time favorite China Mobile has often tried making multiple special requests that have likely stalled hopes for a quick agreement, such as demanding that the American company either use the government-backed TD-SCDMA standard for 3G or cede control of the App Store.

Apple has so far only stated that it wants to have the iPhone in China within the next year and has been silent on the progress of negotiations.

Apple Store Locations to Begin Replacing Broken Displays

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Date: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009, 03:51
Category: iPhone, News

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As mixed as Apple can be, sometimes its service offerings move in the right direction.

Last month, Apple announced that its AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone would extend technical support to two years from the iPhone’s date of purchase as well as extend hardware coverage to two years as well. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple this week announced that a specific repair, screen replacement, can be performed at Apple Store Genius Bars while the customer waits. The service is free if your phone is under warranty and would otherwise retail for US$199.

Security Hole Found in iPhone SMS Code

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Date: Friday, July 3rd, 2009, 02:17
Category: iPhone, News

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Over at the SyScan conference in Singapore, security researcher Charlie Miller cited his discovery of a new significant exploit in the iPhone’s SMS system. The flaw may “allow an attacker to remotely install and run unsigned software code with root access to the phone.”

“The SMS vulnerability allows an attacker to run software code on the phone that is sent by SMS over a mobile operator’s network. The malicious code could include commands to monitor the location of the phone using GPS, turn on the phone’s microphone to eavesdrop on conversations, or make the phone join a distributed denial of service attack or a botnet.”

According to HotHardware, it’s unlikely that there could be any risk of a wide-spread attack on iPhones, though the high number of iPhone handsets out there make it an issue. Miller has agreed with Apple to wait until Black Hat USA expo in Las Vegas later this year to release the details of the exploit, giving Apple a window of time to patch the exploit.

Rumor: Apple, NVIDIA Could Part Ways After Contract Spat

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Date: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009, 05:24
Category: News, Rumor

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Despite portraying a friendly image for the past several months, Apple and NVIDIA are now rumored to be involved in a spat that could see some GeForce chipsets excluded from future Mac models.

According to semiaccurate.com, a report from this past weekend asserts that negotiations between Apple and NVIDIA are now extremely bitter after the latter’s proposed terms were viewed as “arrogance and bluster” and all but rejected as-is.

Sources close to the discussions have stated that Apple may not agree to another such deal for 3-4 years as a result of the heated words. It wouldn’t result in an immediate exit, as the recentness of implementing NVIDIA chipsets into nearly all Macs means some models will keep their existing designs for a long time, but could already result in some comparatively near-term updates shedding the NVIDIA platform.

These would start with iMacs and MacBooks based on Intel’s Nehalem processor architecture, the tipsters say, but would get progressively wider as time goes on.

While the exact terms of the argument haven’t been publicized, it’s believed that conflicting opinions over MacBook Pro graphics failures are what would have actually triggered the resistance. As all GeForce 8600M video chipsets are known to have a heat-related defect that gradually renders them inoperable over time, Apple has not only had to replace those June 2007 and newer portables that use the part but to extend its warranty for the issue to three years regardless of whether or not the owner has AppleCare — an expensive proposition given the ubiquity of the machines on the market until they were replaced in October 2008 with the unibody models.

Apple may have an issue not just with the cost, at least some of which may be footed by NVIDIA through money set aside to cover all PC makers, but with answers it’s received on the subject. The company openly challenged NVIDIA and revealed that the graphics chip designer was falsely representing the scope of the problem, insisting that MacBook Pros wouldn’t be affected at all when two entire generations of the 15″ and 17″ models were guaranteed to eventually suffer video corruption or shutdowns. Apple may also not believe NVIDIA when it claims that unibody MacBook Pros won’t see the same problem due to partial similarities in the contact material used to join the GeForce 9600M GT chip die to its package.

Electronista has noted that Intel and NVIDIA have been embroiled in a license battle over NVIDIA’s right to make logic board chipsets for any processor that has its own internal memory controller, including any desktop or notebook processor built on Nehalem. A win for Intel in its lawsuit would bar NVIDIA from ever making another chipset in the vein of the GeForce 9400M that could support Core i7 or related processors; it would immediately sabotage any roadmap for NVIDIA-based Macs once the ban took effect, no matter how amicable Apple and its partner would be at the time.

Mac Pros would never be affected as they still use an Intel chipset and dedicated graphics for the brunt of their graphics performance.

Unsurprisingly, neither Apple nor NVIDIA has openly discussed the rumor so far, though at least Apple’s sudden change of mind wouldn’t be out of place: the company famously dropped ATI (now AMD) graphics from a generation of Power Mac G4s at the last minute after the company posted a press release spoiling Apple plans just a day ahead of a Macworld keynote.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Returns to Work

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Date: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, 04:27
Category: News

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs returned to work at Apple following a six-month medical leave.

“Steve is back to work,” a company spokesman told Reuters. “He’s currently at Apple a few days a week, and working from home the remaining days. We are very glad to have him back.”

In January, Apple announced that Jobs, who was thought to be suffering from a hormone imbalance that was contributing to his weight-loss, would take a medical leave through the end of June after discovering that his health problems were “more complex” than originally thought.

It was later revealed that Jobs spent much of that waiting for, receiving, and then recovering from, a liver transplant that was conducted at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

James D. Eason, M.D., chief of transplantation and professor of surgery at the hospital, would later say that Jobs’ prognosis following the surgery was “excellent.”