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.”

Microsoft Announces Windows 7 Pricing, Upgrades, Release Date

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Date: Friday, June 26th, 2009, 04:00
Category: News

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Microsoft let the Windows 7 details fly on Thursday with news of lower Windows 7 upgrade prices as well as a concession that lets owners of the now 8-year-old Windows XP move up to the new operating system at a lower price.

According to AppleInsider, Microsoft detailed the pricing for the three editions of Windows 7 that customers would be likely to find in stores.

In a bid to placate those upset by elevated Vista pricing, some versions of Windows 7 will be less expensive than Vista has been in the past. At retail, a Home Premium upgrade will cost US$120 (US$40 less than it did when Vista was new) while its stand-alone version has dropped a similar amount to US$200. Buying a copy of Professional will retail for US$200 (upgrade) or US$300 (full) as it has in the past, but Windows 7 Ultimate will cost US$220 to upgrade versus the US$260 for Vista Ultimate in 2007. A full copy of the new Ultimate release costs US$320 versus US$400 two years ago.

Customers eager enough to pre-order the new OS before it ships on October 22nd will pay even less. Starting Friday, advance orders for Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional upgrades will retail for US$50 and US$100 each in the United States and should last until July 11th or until stock runs dry. Many PC vendors, including HP, will also offer upgrades to Windows 7 for free or for a small cost on any PC sold from Friday until Windows 7 comes preloaded on the new computers.

Microsoft also announced that those using the now two generations old Windows XP OS can upgrade their OS rather than pay full retail pricing. However, due to the change in architectures between Windows XP and 7, buyers will have to perform a clean install rather than the in-place upgrade Vista owners can use.

Current builds of Windows 7 function well under Apple’s Boot Camp technology and are expected to be supported by virtualization programs such as Parallels Desktop and VMware.

Apple To Buy Additional 2.2 Million Shares of Imagination Technologies

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Date: Friday, June 26th, 2009, 04:45
Category: Hardware, News

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Apple may be expanding in component companies once again, as Macworld UK is reporting that Apple has upped its stake in British outfit Imagination Technologies, the London-based company that developed the technology used in the 3G iPhone’s graphics chips

Imagination Technologies has stated that Apple is to acquire 2.2 million of its shares at £1.4275 (about US$2.351 per share.

Apple already owned shares in Imagination’s technology. On 18 December 2008, Imagination revealed in a filing with the London Stock Exchange that Apple acquired 8,200,000 shares, equal to a 3.6% stake in the company.

London-based Imagination Technologies develops intellectual property found in systems-on-chip (SOCs), including its Meta processor cores and PowerVR graphics engines.

A graphics chip based on PowerVR provides the graphics for Apple’s 3G iPhone and other companies, including Samsung Electronics and Intel, have licensed Imagination’s graphics technology.

Jobs Acknowledges Liver Transplant, Cites Good Condition

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Date: Wednesday, June 24th, 2009, 04:35
Category: News

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Working to settle the question of his health once and for all, Apple chief Steve Jobs has acknowledged that he did undergo a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital and that he has come out of surgery in good condition.

Per AppleInsider Jobs gave permission to the Tennessee hospital to publish the news after a leak on Friday had all but confirmed the operation in the southeastern state.

Program director Dr. James D. Eason justified the transplant, which can sometimes be controversial due to its uncertainty, by noting that Jobs likely needed it. He was the patient with the greatest likelihood of developing an end-stage liver disease among those with a blood type matching the next available donor liver; as such, he was a prime candidate for the operation.

Even so, as he was the patient with the greatest risk in the waiting line, Jobs is now believed to have come out of his surgery with an “excellent prognosis” and a strong recovery.

Jobs declined to provide more information on the reasons for the surgery or his current state, but experts may have answered these questions themselves. Physicians speculating about the operation suggest that, like the majority patients who recovered from the form of pancreatic cancer he had in 2004, the cancer had metastasized in his liver, creating the “hormonal imbalance” that ultimately forced Jobs to take leave of his normal office for the past six months.

Tennessee is known to have been chosen for the small size of its transplant waiting list. Where the median number of days a patient would have to wait for a procedure in the US was 306 as of 2006, Tennessee’s list was just 48. Methodist University Hospital also points out that it’s one of the ten largest locations offering liver transplants in the U.S. and that Jobs specifically chose the hospital due to its strong reputation for patient survival rates.

Though it’s currently unknown just how healthy the Apple CEO is or when his surgery actually took place, Jobs has purportedly been seen on campus this week. He was also quoted in a press release for the first time in months on Monday.

Apple Changes Newest iPhone Model Name to “iPhone 3GS”

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Date: Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News

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In a move that may seem both a little odd but actually makes sense, Apple has quietly changed the way it is spelling the new iPhone 3GS, which now appears without a space all of Apple’s press materials.

According the Macworld UK, Apple’s website is still using the “iPhone 3G S” term. The general understanding is that it is officially “iPhone 3GS” from now on and that the main website will be updated shortly.

When the iPhone 3GS first launched, there was much consternation amongst the press as to the correct spelling of the new product, compounded by the logo – which places the “S” inside a small square.

Apple helped clarify matters by issuing press releases with the term “iPhone 3G S”. But just four days into the launch it has changed the spelling to iPhone 3GS, and reworked all of its press materials to mark the new change.

One that is that the revised name offers more clarity for Google, and other web search engines, helping avoid confusion between searches for the new and old model of iPhone.

On the other hand, there may be a legal reason behind the move. It may be that Apple’s legal department pointed out that 3G is a generic term, and that S is a generic term and that “3G S” would be difficult to copyright; whereas “3GS” would be more easy to protect.

Or there may be another, unknown reason. An Apple spokesman allegedly commented to media that “we just feel it looks better with the 3GS all together.”

Apple Offers $30 iTunes Store Gift Certificates to Smooth Over iPhone 3G S Activation Delays

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Date: Monday, June 22nd, 2009, 09:10
Category: iPhone 3GS, News

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For iPhone 3G S customers experiencing delays activating their new units, Apple may be lending a hand.

According to CNET, Apple began notifying affected customers via e-mail on Sunday that they may experience additional delays for another two days due to “system issues” and “high activation volumes,” according to readers in various blogs who claim to have received the e-mail. The problems began immediately after the new iPhone’s launch Friday.

As a way of apology for the delays, the same e-mail said Apple plans to offer customers a US$30 credit iTunes Store credit for “the inconvenience this delay has caused.”

Here’s the entire text of the e-mail:

Dear Apple Customer,
Thank you for your recent Apple Store order. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused by the delay in your iPhone activation.

We are still resolving the issue that was encountered while activating your iPhone with AT&T. Unfortunately, due to system issues and continued high activation volumes, this could take us up to an additional 48 hours to complete.

On Monday, you’ll receive an email from Apple with an iTunes Store credit in the amount of $30. We hope you will enjoy this gift and accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this delay has caused.

Thank you for choosing Apple.

Sincerely,
Apple Online Store Team

Apple representatives have yet to comment on this.

Jobs Receives Liver Transplant, Expected to Return to Apple at End of June

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Date: Monday, June 22nd, 2009, 09:23
Category: News

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While it was never entirely clear what Apple co-founder Steve Jobs would do to recuperate between January and June, a Wall Street Journal article maintains that he’s had a liver transplant and that his return to work may be gradual at first.

Citing sources close to the story, the article state that Jobs had his transplant two months earlier through doctors in Tennessee. Although these are sometimes problematic, the company head is viewed as “recovering well” and on track to resume his usual post in the often-repeated late June timeframe.

Upon his return, Jobs isn’t expected to go full-out, as usual. Instead, his physicians have reportedly advised him to only work part-time for the first “month or two” until it’s certain he can handle a full slate.

As a consequence, Tim Cook, normally the chief operating officer and temporarily handling chief executive duties during Jobs’ absence, may now be more involved with Apple’s leadership than he has in the past. How much of this will vary from his current acting CEO role isn’t clear, but it’s hinted he may be placed on Apple’s board of directors sometime soon, giving him greater sway over the direction of the Mac maker.

The transplant, if true, could well create a much clearer picture of what triggered Jobs’ rapid weight loss in 2008 and his forced break in 2009. Washington University doctor William Hawkins believes that the pancreatic cancer that affected Jobs in 2004, once thought cured, metastasized again in his liver — the organ most likely to continue supporting that particular form of cancer. About three quarters of all those who recover from the initial pancreatic tumor get that cancer again.

Strangely enough, few opt for a liver transplant, as spare organs are rare and there’s no guarantee that replacing the cancerous organ will solve the problem. The odds are nonetheless good and again see three quarters of those who pick the transplant option surviving at least five years longer. Tennessee was likely chosen as the waiting list was shorter than in other states and feasible for a man with the income to travel wherever he could get the quickest treatment.

Not surprisingly, confirming any of these assertions proves difficult through Apple’s tendency towards secrecy, and especially that of Steve Jobs, who has long expressed frustration with journalists and investors intruding into what he sees as a private matter. None of the hospitals committed to regularly performing liver transplants say they have Jobs as a patient. When asked, Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton would only echo the company’s official statement that Jobs “continues to look forward” to his end-of-June return.

Apple Revises iTunes Store Terms and Conditions

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Date: Thursday, June 18th, 2009, 18:20
Category: Legal, News

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If you’re fond of reading the small print, this is for you.

Per Macworld UK, Apple has updated the iTunes terms and conditions with the release of yesterday’s iPhone OS 3.0 Software Update.

The changes reflect the ability to download movies, TV shows, music videos, and audiobooks from the iTunes Store on your iPhone or iPod touch. Downloads over 10MB require a Wi-Fi connection and downloading a full-length film on your iPhone could prove problematic if Wi-Fi connection is lost as Apple notes:

“Interrupted Delivery to iPod or iPhone. If delivery of a Product you purchased or rented (as applicable) using Wi-Fi on an iPod or iPhone is interrupted, your transaction will be included in your download queue. You may resume the delivery to your Apple-authorized device by selecting “Check for Purchases” from the Store menu in the iTunes application on your computer, or the download section on your iPod touch or iPhone.”

Click here for the full terms and conditions, although it basically sets the new parameters for shopping for larger content on the go and the sticking points to this.

Apple Opts for Slower SATA Spec for Hard Disk Drives in New 13″ MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, June 16th, 2009, 08:12
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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In spite of Apple’s introduction of the 13″ unibody MacBook Pro notebook at WWDC last week, it may have opted for a slower standard. According to Engadget, the new MacBook Pro notebooks that ship with conventional hard disks may only have a 1.5GBps SATA enabled, while SSD configs are apparently getting the full 3.0GBps SATA II experience that used to be standard.
Albeit most people this won’t make too much difference since traditional hard drives can’t move data that fast, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re hoping to buy an hard drive unit and swap in a speedier SSD, since your max performance will be bottlenecked.