O'Grady's PowerPage » Apple

Retina Display supplies constrained by demand, shift in labor practices for Foxconn workers

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Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 07:09
Category: iPad, News, retail

If you don’t have enough of a given part, it makes assembly a bit harder.

Then there’s the awkward part about easing working conditions for your labor force…

Per AppleInsider, demand for Apple’s new iPad remains strong, but production of the device has reportedly been limited by supply of Retina displays, as well as a new focus on employees at Foxconn that has resulted in worker hours being cut.

Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee aimed to quash some investor concern on Wednesday that demand for the new iPad is waning. That’s not true, he said, as his checks within Apple’s supply chain have found that the company continues to have strong interest in its latest touchscreen tablet.

Instead, he said, it’s supply of the new high-resolution Retina display that has limited shipments of the latest iPad. He expects that situation to improve over the coming quarters, as additional production lines and suppliers are added.

Samsung is currently believed to be the primary supplier of Retina displays for the new iPad. Both LG and Sharp were said to have initially struggled in making the high-resolution screens for Apple, but recently began small-volume shipments.

Another factor in iPad supply, Wu said, has been the fact that Foxconn is now “conforming to more sound labor practices.” Last month, following an independent audit by the Fair Labor Association, Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn agreed to fix a number of violations that were discovered, including excess working times by its factory employees.

“This is in an effort to improve working conditions,” Wu said. “From our understanding, the irony is that many employees prefer to work more overtime.”

Some Foxconn workers publicly questioned last month why their hours were being cut after the review conducted by the FLA. Foxconn reduced employee working hours to 49 per week, including overtime, but the change will also result in smaller paychecks for workers.

Because iPad production has apparently been slowed by factors other than demand, Wu has opted to raise his estimates for sales in the current quarter. He now sees Apple having sold 12.3 million iPads in the already-concluded March quarter, up from his previous forecast of 11.5 million.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple developing program to track, destroy Flashback malware

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 07:38
Category: News, security, Software

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I think this is where an awesome montage scene of productivity/progress begins in an 80s movie. Or at least the cast involves vows to achieve a long-term goal.

Apple revealed on Tuesday that it is currently developing software to detect and remove the Flashback malware that has infected an estimated 600,000 Macs worldwide.

The company made mention of the upcoming tool in a support document regarding the malicious software, as noted by The Loop. The document also pointed users to last week’s Java update that patched the security flaw that the virus was exploiting.

“In addition to the Java vulnerability, the Flashback malware relies on computer servers hosted by the malware authors to perform many of its critical functions. Apple is working with ISPs worldwide to disable this command and control network,” the company said.

Apple also advises Macs running OS X 10.5 or earlier to disable Java in their browser preferences.

The Flashback trojan horse was first discovered last September. The malware posed as a phony Adobe Flash Player installer in order to trick users into installing it. At the time, a security first categorized the threat as “low.” The current version of Flashback used the Java vulnerability to create a botnet that could mine personal information from unsuspecting users.

Evidence of Apple’s efforts to contact ISPs surfaced earlier on Tuesday when a Russian security firm revealed that the company had targeted one of its servers as being “involved in a malicious scheme.” Dr. Web chief executive Boris Sharov said the server was “not doing any harm to users” and was being used to monitor the spread of the virus.

Sharov noted that the relative rarity of Apple security issues meant that Dr. Web hadn’t established close ties with the company. “For Microsoft, we have all the security response team’s addresses,” he said. “We don’t know the antivirus group inside Apple.”

Last week, a Dr. Web analyst claimed that 600,000 Macs around the world had been infected by the Flashback malware. 56.6 percent of those infections are reportedly located in the U.S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Inventory constraints point towards possibility of new 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook on horizon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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When the current supplies dwindle, interesting things are about to happen.

Per AppleInsider, multiple authorized resellers this week are reflecting stock-outs of 15-inch MacBook Pros, suggesting that Apple is ramping down production of existing models before introducing redesigned offerings that will largely resemble the company’s increasingly popular line of ultra-slim MacBook Airs.

Among those resellers reflecting backorder status on some of the current 15-inch MacBook Pros is J&R, which is now sold out of both the 2.2GHz model, which is listed as “out of stock,” and the 2.4GHz variety, which is currently advertised as “on order.”

In addition, Best Buy has also stopped accepting online orders for the 2.4GHz model for home delivery. The 15-inch notebook is still available on a store-by-store basis, however a quick check of individual store inventory in cities such as Chicago and Austin similarly indicate that between 40 and 60 percent of those shops are similarly reflecting stock outs.

Earlier this week, MacConnection was temporarily out of stock the 2.2GHz model of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the notebook has since come back in stock at the online retailer.

Multiple instances of inventory constraints within Apple’s indirect sales channel are often some of the first signs that the Mac maker is drawing down stock and slowing shipments of existing models before replacing them with materially enhanced offerings. This week’s stock-outs come as Intel is gearing up to launch its Ivy Bridge chips, which have been rumored to begin finding their way into Apple’s Mac product line as early as this month or next.

Apple appears to be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro lineup, beginning with an updated 15-inch model, followed by the 13-inch, and ultimately the 17-inch by the end of the year.

Recent rumors have claimed production of the 15-inch model will begin this month with 200,000 units, while production of the new the 13-inch MacBook Pro will occur in June with builds of 400,000 initial units.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to arrive as soon as this month with Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. Reports have suggested Apple’s new notebooks could include Intel’s Core i7-3820QM and Core i7-3720QM models featuring integrated HD 4000 graphics.

There are fewer details on the forthcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro, as one report from March said it was “not clear” if Apple planned to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor. All of Apple’s current “Pro” laptops feature only higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter in design, and will eschew the spinning disc drive to adopt a form factor similar to Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro lineup was given a quiet update with faster GPUs and graphics cards last October, while the last major redesign of the lineup came in late 2008.

Separately, in what could be a sign of the end of the Mac Pro desktop line, Amazon is currently out of stock of the 8-core model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple internally seeding iPhone unit with 1GB of RAM, upgraded iPod touch device

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 09:48
Category: Hardware, iPod, Rumor

With one iOS device update out of the way for 2012, Apple is working on updates to the iPhone and iPod touch. While these updates are expected, some additional iOS device details have leaked.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has internally seeded a prototype next-generation iPhone with the iPhone 4 design. The actual next-generation iPhone is specifically said to not include the iPhone 4/4S design, but Apple is testing these new devices in older casings to throw off leaks. The purpose of the prototype iPhone that we heard about is to test a variation of the “A5X” chip in an iPhone. The A5X processor in the new iPad was specifically built to drive the new Retina Display, so that chip wouldn’t make much sense in an iPhone.

Instead, the iPhone prototypes feature a variation of the A5X’s S5L8945X architecture. Like the A5X-powered iPad, these new iPhone prototypes are packing 1GB of RAM. This prototype is labeled N96 internally, so it’s not certain if this internal codename will carry over to the actual next-generation iPhone. Again, this iPhone is an internal-only unit built for testing the performance of a new chip in an iPhone, not an actual phone that Apple will produce.

The iPod touch was an interesting product for Apple last year as it was the only iOS device to not receive internal nor cosmetic changes (save for a new white model). However, it looks like Apple is still interested in the iPod touch and wants a future for it. According to a file inside of an internal iOS 5.1 build, Apple is working on a fifth-generation iPod touch that is labeled iPod 5,1 internally. No specifics have been confirmed regarding the new iPod touch hardware, but the jump from 4,1 (the current internal iPod touch label) to 5,1 indicates major internal changes, at the very least. Perhaps Apple is finally moving to an A5 or A5X-like chip in the iPod touch. After all, the iPod touch is one of the most popular gaming devices on the market, and Apple’s dual-core iOS device processors offer top-of-the-line graphics performance.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, Universal Studios reach accord, Universal Studios films now available via iTunes/iCloud

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 07:22
Category: iTunes, Software

It took some finagling of contracts, but movies from Universal Pictures purchased on iTunes can now be re-downloaded through the iCloud service.

Per MacRumors, Universal and Fox were initially absent from iCloud as a result of content deals with premium cable network HBO, though those issues were resolved last month. Universal Pictures films became available this weekend on iCloud, and users who have previously purchased the films from iTunes can re-download them at no cost.

While Universal’s films are now available through iCloud, customers looking to re-download 20th Century Fox must still wait for that content, even though HBO was said last month to have reached an agreement. The Wall Street Journal said at the time that Fox expected to have its content on iCloud “within weeks,” suggesting it may not be a much longer wait.

In March, Apple began offering users the ability to re-download movies that were previously purchased on iTunes via its iCloud service. The service even applies to the iTunes Digital Copy format, which gives users the ability to download a digital version of a film when they buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc.

The iTunes in the Cloud functionality in iCloud originally only applied to music, books and applications purchased through the iTunes Store. Now, users can access both movies and TV shows as well, from participating studios.

In addition, television content is available in high-definition 1080p format, allowing it to be natively displayed on the new Apple TV. Previously, content maxed out at 720p, which was the highest resolution output of the previous generation Apple TV.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.12

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 07:47
Category: News, Software

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Early Friday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.12, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11 applications.

The update, a 7.6 megabyte download, adds support for the following camera:

- Canon EOS 5D Mark III

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Apple releases Java for OS X 2012-002 update, offers potential fixes for Flashback trojan

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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It’s been a strange week for Java on the Mac.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday rolled out its second Java update for Mac OS X in less than a week via Software Update.

Java for OS X 2012-002 appeared on Software Update just two days after version 2012-001 was released on Tuesday. Apple also released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7 earlier in the week. The updater, a 63.8 megabyte download, requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

It’s not immediately clear, however, how the most recent update differs from the earlier version, as Apple’s links for more detail and information point to the same page as the old update. Java for OS X 2012-001 resolved multiple vulnerabilities in Java, the most serious of which could “allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside the Java sandbox.”

On Wednesday, a Russian antivirus company revealed that an estimated 600,000 Macs had been infected by a “Flashback” trojan that exploited the Java vulnerability to turn the computers into bots. The majority of the infected computers were located in the U.S.

The virus was first discovered by a security firm last September. F-Secure has posted a tutorial on how to detect and remove the trojan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple “noodling” with idea/prototype of 7.85-inch iPad

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Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Before there’s anything, there’s always a prototype.

Per The Next Web, Apple is “noodling” with ideas and prototypes for a 7.85-inch iPad, though it’s not clear if the device will ever see the light of day.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball commented that he has “heard from nobody” on whether the 7-inch iPad will actually be released and when that would happen. Gruber did speculate, though, that Apple may have prepared enter the low-end tablet market should the Kindle Fire prove to be a runaway success. He also suggested that the company could possibly unveil the smaller iPad at the Worldwide Developers Conference, since it’s unlikely that Apple would release a 2012 iPhone at WWDC.

Reports of a smaller iPad have persisted since the original iPad launched in April 2010.

Speculation on a smaller form factor iPad gained legitimacy in February when The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple officials have been showing off designs for a smaller iPad that has a similar screen resolution as the iPad 2. The report did caution, though, that Apple could be simply testing new designs and might not actually release the device.

Recent reports have also suggested the rumored device could feature a “slim bezel display.” A leaked research note from Samsung Securities that surfaced in March hinted that Apple will release a so-called “iPad mini” in the third quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

nTelos regional wireless carrier to carry iPhone 4, 4S units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 07:33
Category: iPhone, News

nTelos Wireless, a Virginia-based wireless company with more than 400,000 subscribers, will become the fifth U.S. carrier to sell Apple’s iPhone when it launches on April 20.

Per AppleInsider, nTelos is the second regional carrier to partner with Apple, as the company began expanding to smaller U.S. carriers last October when it struck a deal with C Spire Wireless, which has about 900,000 customers.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will be available through nTelos for US$50, while the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S can be had for US$150, 32 gigabytes for US$250, and 64 gigabytes for US$350. Those contract-subsidized prices are all US$50 cheaper than the offerings from the company’s competitors.

nTelos offers unlimited voice, text and data for one line for US$100 per month. Two lines can be purchased for US$140 per month, and additional lines after that cost US$50 each.

Availability of the iPhone to nTelos is possible because the carrier relies on a CDMA network, similar to the technology that powers Verizon and Sprint’s wireless networks.

As of Wednesday, the iPhone 4S is listed as “coming soon” on the nTelos Wireless website. Sales will officially begin at 7 a.m. on April 20 through nTelos retail stores, at the company’s website, or by calling 1-888-427-8858.

nTelos offers nationwide voice and data coverage for subscribers based in Virginia and West Virginia, along with portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky.

When the iPhone launches with nTelos, it will join AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and C Spire as one of five official U.S. carriers. The one glaring omission from the list of official Apple partners is T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 34 million customers.

T-Mobile’s lack of access to the iPhone is a result of the company’s 3G service relying on the uncommon 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, which are not supported by Apple’s smartphone. Users who operate an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile’s network are restricted to much slower “EDGE” speeds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7, Java for Mac OS X Lion 2012-001 updates

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 06:51
Category: News, Software

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Have updates, will travel.

Late Tuesday, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7, providing “improved reliability, security and compatibility.” The 76 megabyte download requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 to install and run.

The company also released Java for Mac OS X Lion 2012-001, which claims to offer improved compatibility security and reliability. The download comes in at 63.8 megabytes and requires OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

The updates, which can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, focus on multiple vulnerabilities that exist in Java 1.6.0_29, the most serious of which may allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside the Java sandbox. Visiting a web page containing a maliciously crafted untrusted Java applet may lead to arbitrary code execution with the privileges of the current user. If you’ve tried the new versions and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.