Apple’s stock rose appreciably following news that company CEO Steve Jobs is on track to return to the company from his medical leave of absence as planned.
Per a Reuters article, sources have cited that Jobs will return by the end of the month, which would place his comeback ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco on Monday, an event at which Jobs unveiled Apple’s 3G iPhone a year ago but had not been expected to attend this time.
Jobs, 54, had said his medical leave would run until the end of June when he initially announced the move in January, setting the stage for a July return. Company representatives had said repeatedly he remained involved in strategic decisions and would return as scheduled.
Jobs was treated for a rare type of pancreatic cancer in 2004. He appeared gaunt at an Apple event last June and in January said he would take a leave of absence because his health problems were “more complex” than originally thought.
The Apple CEO’s recovery “is coming along,” the news wire reported.
The report also said two people who do business with Apple have been told by Apple managers that the company is trying to coordinate Jobs’ return with a product launch or public event.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.
Ok, this was completely interesting, even if it proved that the British are mildly crazed on some levels, but there’s some cool stuff in the works for Microsoft’s Project Natal (video courtesy of GameTrailers.com:
If Apple could trump this, that’d be something worth seeing.
On Wednesday, peripherals manufacturer Logitech announced the release of its Flight System G940 simulator-grade flying kit. The unit, priced at US$299.99, contains a USB joystick, throttle and rudder pedals is the first such kit to offer force feedback via its joystick. A dual throttle allows simulated control of multi-engine aircraft using the split lever and rudder pedals with toe brakes offer better control, especially when simulating defensive maneuvers, crosswind landings or piloting helicopters.
The unit arrives with a 1-year limited warranty, is available today and can be combined with such pro-grade flight applications such as X-Plane for the Mac.
If you’ve snagged a Mac within the past couple of years, you were probably offered Apple’s ProCare, which has functioned as advanced placement in the Genius Bar’s repair queue, initial setup for new Macs and complimentary training sessions. The service, introduced in 2004, was renamed “One to One” in 2007 when more individual training was offered.
According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, One to One is now being changed to offer new features as well as new limitations. ProCare’s complete Mac setup & data transfer is now included with One to One. Previously, One to One only included a “simple” setup.
Other changes for One to One include exclusive workshops only available to One to One members as well as the new “Personal Projects” session for larger blocks of time. Members can now reserve a session for up to a three hour block of time to create, with an Apple trainer’s assistance. Similar to workshops, Personal Projects are a group activity in that several members will be present; while a workshop includes members working on the same topic, a project session includes members working on individual and unrelated tasks.
One to One is also now only available with the purchase of a new Mac at an Apple store; this is in contrast to the previous One to One and current ProCare services which could be purchased at any time. One to One memberships are also now only renewable two times for a maximum membership duration of three years. Existing memberships (beginning prior to June 2, 2009) in One to One will be renewable only one time.
Customers can purchase a new One to One membership along with a new Mac at any Apple Retail store now. Per Apple, this service’s availability will expand to Apple’s online channel in the near future.
Sony on Tuesday announced the release of its new mobile system known as the PSP go, a long-rumored PlayStation Portable system withe a smaller form factor. According to Macworld UK, the device is specifically designed for users interested in downloading games and videos. The device is planned for an October release in North America, Europe and Asia and will retail for US$249.
The PSP go measures 5.04″ x 0.65″ x 2.72″ and weighs 5.6 ounces. The device retains a 16:9 aspect ratio display that measures 3.8″ and 480 x 272 pixels, the same resolution as other PSP models, albeit smaller). Despite the rumors, the device lacks a touchscreen interface, unlike the iPhone or iPod touch.
The 3.8-inch TFT display slides upward to reveal control surfaces, much like a smartphone. Instead of a QWERTY keyboard you’ll find a directional pad, specialized buttons, a small analog thumbstick and start and select buttons.
Sony has also removed the Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical drive from the PSPgo, emphasizing the unit’s suitability for digital entertainment content transferred from the PlayStation 3 or directly over the PlayStation Network.
The PSP go also features built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi and support for Bluetooth 2.0 wireless peripherals, including headphones, headsets and PS3 wireless controllers. The device can be attached to a television or home entertainment system so you can watch videos stored in the unit and boasts 16GB of built-in flash memory, along with a Memory Stick Micro flash storage card slot that can be used to further expand the unit’s storage capacity.
Electronic Arts on Tuesday announced the simultaneous release of The Sims 3 for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets.
The new version allows users to control simulated people inside a virtual world, the application allowing for dozens of unique personality traits as well as extensive customization for your Sims home. According to Macworld, the game bypasses the micromanagement of basic tasks such as bathing and using the restroom (unlike the first two versions) and allows for additional items to be purchased via an in-game store.
The Mac and Windows game also lets you record movies of your Sims, edit the soundtrack, story and transitions, then share the movies you’ve made with friends on The Sims 3 Web sites, social networks, and on your own blog.
The game ships on a hybrid DVD-ROM that contains both Mac and Windows versions of the games, retails for US$50 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later, 2 GB of RAM, 6.1 GB of hard disk space and an ATI GMA X3100 or Nvidia 7300 GT graphics card or better to install and run.
Per the iPhone version, the application is available for US$9.99 through the App Store and requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later to install and run.
Nintendo just wrapped its media briefing on this end and the results are strange, encouraging and mixed:
-Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway announced that this year’s theme will be “Everyone’s Game”. There’s something for everyone and Nintendo intends to address this.
-”New Mario Brothers” Wii was announced, the title featuring beautiful graphics as well as co-op and competitive play for up to four players at once wherein players can help each other or compete for points. Other features include a neat ability to switch to another player (such as from Mario to Toad to Luigi) at any point in time. The title will launch over the holidays.
-Nintendo is moving to introduce WiiFit Pus, which will work to find a workout program appropriate for the user and add 15 new balance games such as juggling and skateboarding. The title will arrive this fall and will also be able to be purchased and downloaded as a standalone item.
-Nintendo President and Chief Operating Officer Reggie Fils-Aime spoke about Nintendo’s interface, then introduced the Wii Motion Plus, a new controller that will function as a more advanced version of Nintendo’s current Wiimote. The controller will apparently have to be purchased on its own and no price point was mentioned for the unit.
-Nintendo’s Bill Trinen detailed the Wii Motion Plus, highlighting an increased ability to detect position and angles relative to the Wiimore, which can then be applied to a game. Trinen commented that Nintendo is looking to make this a more natural experience, that the unit will launch in the Americas on July 21st and that the improved motion sensor technology will be supported in assorted EA Sports titles as well as RedSteel 2.
-Nintendo will launch Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers as well as an exclusive version of Kingdom Hearts (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days) to the Nintendo DS this September.
-Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story will hit in North America and Europe later this fall. Here, Mario and Luigi have to fight within Bowser’s body a la “Inner Space”.
-Nintendo will be resurrecting the Golden Sun RPG series with Golden Sun DS in 2010.
-Beginning on October 13th, James Patterson’s books will be available as an interactive novel/game (“Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion”).
-COP: The Recruit will play as a Ubisoft title. This seems to be a mix of Grand Theft Auto and an interactive novel.
-Nintendo will launch its Style Savvy title, wherein users design outfits, run your own boutique, supports wireless networking.
-Nintendo announced the the company has currently sold over one million DSi units. Representatives then highlighted that it will focus on user-generated content and sharing.
-Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again will allow users to create their own levels, then upload levels to friends. The title will be available as a download beginning June 8th.
-WarioWare DIY: Allows players to create their own levels and games themselves.
-Beginning this summer, the DSi will allow photos to be edited and uploaded to Facebook.
-Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo’s research has divvied their game market into “active”, “maybe?” and “never”. In the survey, there are 295 million active players, 149 million “maybe” players and a given number of people who will never play games. Iwata then cited that the company is trying to open its markets and provide something for everyone.
-Perhaps the strangest thing of the briefing: Iwata then announced the Wii Vitality Sensor, a device that takes your pulse, analyzes data such as tension, etc. and returns biometric information. This can be used as a relaxation technique, per Iwata, but no release date or titles were mentioned for such a device.
-Nintendo then showed demo footage for Super Mario Galaxy 2, complete with beautiful environments, classic stuff, imaginative settings.
-Other games announced included The Conduit, an apocalyptic sci-fi title developed by Sega and exclusive for the Wii. The game will be available this June.
-Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is en route and will function as Resident Evil with a first-person shooter perspective.
-Dead Space: Extraction is exclusive for the Wii and, complete with beautiful graphics and awesome sound via the demo, will function as a prequel to Dead Space.
-Team Ninja and Nintendo are developing Metroid: Other M, which will function as a Metroid prequel of sorts and help flesh out Samus Aran’s back story and personal history.
The title is being offered with a 2010 release date.
Wireless carrier AT&T has formally announced plans to deploy its 7.2 Mbps HSPA 7.2 network this year, the deployment supporting faster iPhone models expected for release this summer.
According to AppleInsider, AT&T has stated that the HSPA 7.2 upgrade will deliver theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network. The company has stated that installation will continue through 2011 and that AT&T will begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
AT&T has stated that its current 3G service is available in 350 major US metro areas, with deployment in another 20 planned this year. The company stated that its new HSPA 7.2 technology “will be deployed widely in the network, with the benefits of the network upgrade to be announced on a local basis as the faster speeds are turned up.”
The company also said it will introduce “multiple HSPA 7.2-compatible laptop cards and smartphones beginning later this year.” Apple is expected to release a new iPhone model in June that supports HSPA 7.2 service. In addition to having access to a faster network, the new iPhone model is expected to have a significantly faster processor, enabling it to better handle the data it can receive, resulting in faster overall operation.
Along with the upgrade to HSPA 7.2, AT&T also reported plans to build out other network improvements this year as part of a capital investment plan costing $17-18 billion.
Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity: In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
More Bandwidth to Cell Sites: AT&T is adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
More Cell Sites: Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
Wi-Fi Integration: Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
MicroCells: Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
Joker/dancer/Apple co-founder apparently had the opportunity to speak with Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently and has reported that Jobs sounded “healthy” and “energetic” with a little over a month prior to his scheduled return to the company.
Woz’s comments appeared yesterday at on the Wall Stree Journal’s web site, and though Wozniak admitted to having never asked Jobs about his health directly, he told representatives for the financial paper that his one-time pal “doesn’t sound like he’s sick,” nor does he appear to be battling a dire health problem.
The upbeat comments contrast with those made by Jobs’ real estate attorney Howard Ellman last month during a town council meeting to determine whether the chief executive should be free to demolish a historic but abandoned mansion he owns in the Woodside Hills.
“I don’t think he would be strong enough if we were here until 1 a.m., and I think there’s a strong possibility of that,” Ellman said, referring to the time it would take for the local review board to hear all arguments on the matter.
On January 14th of this year, Jobs stated that he would take a medical leave from his daily role at Apple through the end of June in order to attend to health issues that turned out to be “more complex” than he originally thought.
Although he underwent successful surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004, Jobs’ health would again emerge as a topic of public concern when he appeared increasingly gaunt during Apple media events in 2007 and 2008.
Wall Street analysts have used recent quarterly conference calls to press members of Apple’s leadership for an update on Jobs’ health, to which they’ve responded by saying they still expect Jobs to return at the end of June.
It remains unclear as to what capacity Jobs will return to the company in and some analysts have speculated that if he does return, it will be in the form of a reduced role such as Chairman.
Stay tuned for further information as it becomes available.