Rumor: Apple field-testing iPhone 4 revision with CDMA support

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 07:16
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s a rumor but it’s an interesting one.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple has begun field testing a new version of the iPhone, prompting continued speculation of an early 2011 launch of a CDMA-compatible iPhone.

Citing a “solid Apple source,” the publication claimed Monday that iPhone model 3,2 has reached the field test phase, while the next-generation “iPhone 5″ has advanced to the Engineering Verification Test stage of the development cycle.

“We have been told that iPhone model 3,2 — what everyone is assuming to be the Verizon (or at least CDMA-compatible) phone — just hit the “AP” testing stage. This is the very last stage before retail release; final hardware, almost final software,” the report noted.

Since Apple uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions and the second number to refer to minor revisions, iPhone model 3,2 should be an updated iPhone 4 rather than a next-generation model. The report speculates that the 3,2 revision could also include a fix for the widely publicized iPhone 4 antenna issue.

BGR’s source asserts that iPhone version 3,2 will contain a SIM card slot, which is generally used only by GSM devices. However, earlier this month, rumors surrounding a Verizon CDMA iPhone implied that Qualcomm could provide Apple with a dual-mode baseband chip that would support both GSM and CDMA networks. In the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile run GSM networks, while Verizon and Sprint use the CDMA standard. China Telecom is also reportedly in talks with Apple over a CDMA iPhone.

The story adds to articles published by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times from early October that a Verizon iPhone is in the works for next year, the much-talked-about rumors of Apple going multi-carrier in the U.S. have gained momentum.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jobs crushes 7″ iPad rumor at Q4 financial announcement

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 06:35
Category: iPad, News

It’s the in-between things during Apple’s financial announcements that make things interesting.

During yesterday’s Q4 earnings conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Monday took a moment to extinguish rumors that the company is working on a smaller iPad based around a 7″ screen according to AppleInsider.

“The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit that price point, it’s because we think the screen is too small to express the software,” Jobs said on Monday’s quarterly earnings conference call. “As a software driven company we think about the software strategies first.”

“We know developers aren’t going to deal well with these different sizes and they have to change their software every time the screen size changes,” he added. “When we make decisions on 7″ tablets it’s not about cost, it’s about the value of the product when you factor in the software.”

You see what I’m getting at?,” Jobs continued. “So we’re all about making the best products at aggressive prices and that’s what we do, and that’s what we will do with the iPad and iPod.”

Asked by an analyst how he would respond and whether Apple would lose share if the market suddenly moves to a lower price point with fewer features, Jobs said “You’re looking at it wrong, […] looking at it as a hardware manufacturer who doesn’t know much about software who assumes the software will take care of itself.”

“Hm, how can we make this cheaper? Well let’s put a smaller screen, slower processor, less memory, and you just assume the software will somehow come alive on this product but it won’t,” Jobs quipped. “Developers have taken advantage of faster processors and bigger screens to make better apps for customers.”

“It’s a hard one,” the Apple co-found said of such a strategy, “because it throws you in the chicken-and-egg question to change assumptions on developers.” Most developers won’t follow that lead, he suggest. Instead, they’re more likely to say, “Sorry, I’m not going to write a watered down version of my app just because you can sell this version of your phone for US$50 less.”

Rumors of a 7-inch iPad have come from numerous sources, several alleging that Apple is working on a smaller version of the iPad.

Those reports suggested that the current iPad is too heavy for users, and that a smaller form factor and lighter weight would be more ideal for reading.

Jobs’ comments on Monday come as a number of competitors are embracing the 7″ form factor with their own touchscreen tablets. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is set to launch this year with all four major U.S. wireless carriers, while BlackBerry plans to release its own PlayBook in early 2011.

Earlier this month, it was suggested that Apple developed a 7″ iPad alongside the current model, but eventually opted just to release the current 9.7″ model. Jobs’ comments Monday would support that rumor, as the CEO noted that his company has done extensive research on touchscreen interfaces and what works best for users.

“We really understand this stuff,” Jobs said.

As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say about this.

Rumor: Second-gen iPad could feature 128GB of memory, Retina Display, USB port

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Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 04:40
Category: iPad, News

Coming this holiday season, round two of the iPad.

Per AppleInsider, Taiwanese component suppliers have indicated that Apple’s next-generation iPad will sport a 7-inch high-resolution Retina Display, a camera, and 128GB of capacity as well as the guesstimate that it could sell 45 million in 2011.

Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities said this week that suppliers contacted during a trip to Taipei indicated that Apple plans to launch a new iPad in the first quarter of the 2011 calendar year. In addition to having a smaller 7″ size, he also said the device will have a “micro or mini USB” port.

The information is similar to what Goldman Sachs said in late September, including the addition of a USB port. If true, the addition of a new port could be a result of the European Union making MicroUSB the default charging method for mobile devices.

White said the next-generation iPad will replace the first-generation iPad when it is released next year. He made no mention of Apple maintaining its 9.7″ model, though Goldman Sachs said the new 7″ variety would be in addition to the current screen size.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon COO states new iPhone announcement would arrive from Apple, not Verizon

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Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:58
Category: iPhone, News

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Per the cool cats at Macworld, Verizon President and COO Lowell McAdam commented made a recent comment at the CTIA conference in San Francisco that reports of a Verizon iPhone would be addressed by Apple, not Verizon.

When asked to comment about a story from The Wall Street Journal that Apple will begin building a Verizon-compatible iPhone by the end of the year, McAdam dismissed the story as “one of those things that rolls out every few weeks whether there’s a basis for it or not.”

“I can’t give you any insights,” he continued. “But I think Apple is the one that has to make that announcement.”

McAdam remains hopeful that a deal will eventually be reached, especially as Verizon rolls out its Long-Term Evolution 4G data network.

“What I’ve always said is I expect at some point in time our business interests are going to align,” McAdam said. “I think things like LTE are another great reason why they’d want a device or tablet on that network. But I don’t have anything to say today about timing.”

Back in September, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg downplayed rumors of an upcoming Verizon iPhone by telling investors that he hopes Apple will work with Verizon to sell an LTE 4G smartphone.

Despite the remarks, rumors have persisted that a CDMA iPhone will arrive in early 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Current MacBook Air supplies being depleted, next-gen model said to be forthcoming

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Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:19
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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With current supplies of Apple’s MacBook Air notebook drying up through the company’s indirect sales channels, rumors are spreading that a next generation model is on the horizon.

Per AppleInsider, all but one of the Apple Authorized Resellers that the web site tracks tracks as part of its Mac Price Guide have run out of low-end 1.83GHz MacBook Air, including Amazon.com, MacConnection, MacMall and J&R. In addition, at least two of those resellers are also reflecting no stock of the high-end 2.13GHz configuration.

This marks the first time the web site has witnessed this abnormal trend in regards to the Air since it began tracking availability of Apple’s Mac line on a daily basis over two years ago. For weeks now, the websites of certain resellers have indicated that inventory of the low-end MacBook Air was on the verge of depletion, urging shoppers to “order soon,” as only a handful of units remained in stock.

Sources familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.com say that Apple has indicted to them that it will not replenish supply of the notebooks until October 12th through October 16th at the earliest. Such expansive delays on low volume products like the MacBook Air are common only when Mac maker is preparing to overhaul the product line, these people say.

Mid-October hardware updates have become something of an annual tradition for Apple, who last year unveiled a redesigned line of iMacs and unibody MacBook on October 20th, 2009. Though last year’s products were introduced without a formal event, in 2008 the company held a special gathering for the media on October 14th to introduce new MacBooks. Back in 2005, the company similarly held two events in mid-October to introduce a new iPod, iMac, and a lineup of PowerBook notebooks.

All these signs seem to support persistent rumors out of the Far East that Apple is gearing up to overhaul the MacBook Air line with a newly designed 11.6″ display this fall, creating a more aggressively priced notebook for students and the business traveler. It’s reported that Apple plans to ship around a half-million units before the end of the 2010 calendar year. The current MacBook Air sports a 13.3″ display.

Rumors of a MacBook Air with an 11.6″ display first surfaced in July. The rumored hardware was anticipated to be even slimmer and lighter, and will be powered by an Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

There’s also been a mixture of chatter regarding a much cheaper, thinner 11.6-inch Apple notebook that would weigh as little as 2.7 pounds due to the possibility of new carbon fiber unibody construction, though this and defined technical specifications have yet to be confirmed on any level.

The introduction of a new MacBook Air would likely come alongside an update to Apple’s iLife suite, a product that has also become long in the tooth. The last update, iLife ’09, was launched in January of 2009.

Recent rumors have suggested that a presumed iLife ’11 refresh will be written entirely in 64-bit code, will include a rewritten iWeb, and will drop the iDVD application. It has also been suggested that the software will be available for iOS-based devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you think in the comments.

Hitachi releases updated desktop, notebook hard drives, offers up to 750 GB capacities

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Date: Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, 08:10
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Electronics maker Hitachi announced its new 375GB per platter, 5400-rpm and 7200-rpm, 2.5″ hard drives: the Travelstar 5K750 and Travelstar 7K750 on Wednesday.

Per Macworld, Hitachi has stated that the drives offer the industry’s highest capacities in a standard 9.5 mm two-disk design.

The Travelstar 5K750 and 7K750 drive families are the first Hitachi hard drives that feature Advanced Format, which increases the physical sector size on hard drives from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes, or 4KB—eight times larger. Hitachi’s previous generation drive was the Travelstar 7K500, which had maximum areal density of 370 Gbits per square inch. The new platters have an areal density of 472 Gbit per square inch.

Hitachi’s 5400-rpm Travelstar 5K750 drives feature an 8MB buffer for caching and a Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gbit per second interface for fast data transfer rates. The drive consumes 0.5 watts while idle and 1.4 watts power during read/write operations, which Hitachi said contributes to longer battery life in notebooks and other unplugged applications.

Hitachi’s 7200-rpm Travelstar 7K750 drive has a 16MB buffer, which allows quicker access to data and faster system performance, especially for multi-tasking and other high-performance office and home applications. It uses 0.5 watts idle and 1.8 watts during read/write operations.

The Travelstar 7K750 is a self-encrypting drive using Hitachi’s Bulk Data Encryption (BDE) specification, which encrypts data using protected keys in real time. It also speeds and simplifies the drive re-deployment process. By deleting the encryption key, the data on the drive is rendered unreadable, thereby eliminating the need for time-consuming data-overwrite. The drive is said to be “independent of OS so that a BDE hard drive can be used on an Apple Macintosh system. However, because Apple systems do not support the ATA security feature set, a BDE drive will function only as a standard drive in an Apple system.”

Both of the new Travelstar hard drive families come in capacities of 500GB, 640GB and 750GB.

Travelstar 5K750 Retail Hard Drive Kits will be available next month with a suggested retail price of US$130. The drive will be shipping to system manufacturers for qualification by the end of the year. The 7200-rpm Travelstar 7K750 family will be available in Q1 2011. Pricing for that drive has yet to be announced.

Rumor: Apple digital newsstand app in planning phases, talks being held with content providers

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:43
Category: iPad, Rumor

While it’s hard to say if Apple can help save the overall publishing industry, it appears to be doing its part to try. Per Bloomberg, the company is rumored to be creating a new digital storefront for newspapers and magazines that, like iBooks does for print books, will serve as a standalone iPad app for purchasing repurposed print content.

The new store has been described as standing apart from the established App Store and iBooks applications. The product is said to be in the early planning stages, as negotiations with major content providers are reportedly ongoing.

“Apple’s effort is aimed at luring more consumers to the iPad and helping publishers sell subscriptions, rather than single issues,” the report said. “The main hang-ups between Apple and publishers including Time Warner Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp. and News Corp. are who controls data about users and how to split subscription revenue, the people said. Pricing for subscriptions also hasn’t been worked out.”

People involved in the discussions reportedly said the digital newsstand could open as soon as in a few months, or the talks could fall apart altogether. It was also suggested that Apple could wait until it launches its next-generation iPad in early 2011 before unveiling the new store.

The plans are said to be part of Apple’s ongoing talks with print publishers who want to offer subscription plans for customers to access content from the iPad. This week, it was reported that Apple has agreed to allow an opt-in function which would let subscribers share their personal information with publications. The print business relies on demographic information to share data with advertisers.

The new application will reportedly “make it easier and cheaper to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with extras such as high-resolution videos integrated with stories.” The storefront will aim to simplify the process, in order to attract publishers.

Before the iPad was released earlier this year, publishers and Apple were said to have struggled to reach a deal, as Apple was reluctant to share consumer data beyond sales volume. But advertisers and publishers consider demographic data to be the “most valuable asset.”

Apple’s suppliers prepping materials for second-gen iPad due in first quarter 2011

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Date: Friday, September 17th, 2010, 05:15
Category: iPad, News

Apple’s component suppliers are said to be preparing for the launch of Apple’s second-generation iPad in the first quarter of 2011.

Per DigiTimes, the suppliers are completing validation for the second-generation iPad, which will maintain the same 9.7″ screen when it debuts in the first quarter of 2011.

“Component suppliers of iPad are expected to start shipments for the second-generation iPad at the beginning of 2011,” the report said.

Specifically cited suppliers were TPK Touch Solutions, WinTek, Cando, Cimei Innolux. Together, they are said to be validating “ultra-thin glass-based touch panels with Apple.”

As reported last week, Apple plans to move aggressively on adding FaceTime functionality to its entire line of iOS devices, leaving the iPad as the last device to receive the upgrade. A source close to the story indicated that an iPad equipped with a forward facing camera is already in the advanced testing stages at Apple.

Though Apple typically follows an annual upgrade pattern for its devices, it was said that Apple could refresh the iPad line ahead of this year’s holiday season. That person indicated that the FaceTime-equipped iPad was tracking for an introduction no later than the first quarter of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to launch LTE 4G network in 2011, expand HPSA+ services

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Date: Friday, September 17th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T appears to be planning to launch its fourth-generation high-speed wireless network by mid-2011, and will continue to expand its speedy HPSA+ 3G network this year.

Per FierceWireless, the company is currently conducting trials of its 4G long-term evolution network in Baltimore, Maryland and Dallas, Texas, the company’s operations chief executive, John Stankey, said Thursday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. He also said the company is on track to launch its LTE network by mid-2011.

The timing of AT&T’s launch could allow for the next-generation iPhone, likely to be unveiled in June as it is every year, to connect to the high-speed 4G wireless network. Apple in the past sought to hire experts on LTE, presumably for a forthcoming handset.

AT&T will reportedly spend US$700 million on its LTE network this year, and plans to “go far beyond that” in 2011, Stankey reportedly said. His news comes as competing carrier Verizon said it will launch its own LTE network in 30 National Football League cities by the end of 2010.

Stankey also said AT&T is preparing a nationwide HSPA+ upgrade for this year, which will allow for real-time download speeds of 7Mbps. Earlier this year, the company vowed that its high-speed upgrade will reach 250 million Americans in 2010.

AT&T has partnered with Alcatel and Lucent to build out its LTE network, which will deliver higher broadband throughput and lower latency than the company’s existing 3G network, including the HPSA+ upgrades.

Stankey also revealed that AT&T has seen a 5,000% increase in wireless data traffic over the last three years, since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. The company’s wireless data revenue is also up 27%.

Spiffy news if it comes true. And per dropped calls, there’s always the iPhone 4 bumper on hand…

Amazon leaks Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 release date

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Date: Monday, September 13th, 2010, 06:16
Category: News, Software

This may not have been the way Microsoft would have chosen to announce its Office for Mac 2011 launch date, but it worked.

Per Macworld, Microsoft will launch the next version of Office for the Mac in just under six weeks, according to Amazon.com.

The Seattle-based online retailer listed Office for Mac 2011’s availability date as October 26th for all versions of the upcoming suite.

Previously, Microsoft had only promised to ship the newest version of Office before the end of October.

Amazon did not display prices for the two new editions, Home and Student 2011 and Home and Business 2011. Each will come in two configurations, a one-license package and a multi-license version.

Last month, Microsoft set the prices of Home and Student 2011 at US$119 and US$149 for the one- and three-license editions, respectively. The Home and Business editions will list for US$199 and US$249 in one- and two-license versions.

Microsoft will not sell discounted “upgrade” versions of Office 2011, as it has for the suite’s predecessors. The decision followed a similar move earlier this year when the Redmond, Wash., software maker dropped upgrade editions and pricing for Office 2010 for Windows, which debuted in May.

Customers can save money by buying the current version, Office for Mac 2008, and then taking advantage of a free upgrade offer that Microsoft also launched last month.

Customers who purchase Office for Mac Home and Student 2008 (listed Friday for US$125 on Amazon) will receive the three-license version of the 2011 suite, a US$25 savings. Purchasers of the 2008 Business Edition, now selling for US$200, will get a free copy of the two-license Home and Business 2011, a savings of US$49.

Microsoft will also sell a US$99 academic edition of Office for Mac 2011 to college students, faculty and staff. The discounted version will include the same applications as Home and Business, but will not be sold at general retail.

The final system requirements for Office 2011 for Mac are as follows:

- A Mac computer with an Intel-based processor.

- Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later.

- 1 GB of RAM or more.

- 2.5 GB of available hard disk space.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.