Apple releases MacBook Air EFI Firmware 2.7 update for mid-2013 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Friday, October 11th, 2013, 20:49
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

This might come in handy.

On Friday, Apple released MacBook Air EFI Firmware 2.7, a 4.6 megabyte download that offers the following fixes and changes for the mid-2013 MacBook Air notebook:
– MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update addresses an issue which may cause a black screen to appear when installing Windows 7 or Windows 8 using Boot Camp Assistant if both an external optical drive and USB thumb drive are connected to the system. This update also ensures that the system will boot by default into OS X after installation of Windows 8.

The update requires a mid-2013 MacBook Air running OS X 10.8.5 or later to install and run and can also be downloaded and installed via OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Study shows Microsoft’s Windows market share falling from 90% to 33% in post-PC device world

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Date: Friday, October 11th, 2013, 06:21
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

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The day you never thought would arrive may finally be here.

Of course, it still depends on how you look at the data…

According to Asymco’s Horace Dediu, over the last five years, Post-PC devices have displaced conventional Windows PCs so rapidly that Microsoft’s dominance over personal computing has plummeted from roughly 90 percent share to less than a third.

The data highlights in implosion of growth that has sapped Worldwide PC shipments starting with at the launch of Apple’s iPad in 2010.

While PC shipments have stagnated over the past five years, Apple’s sales of iPhone and iPads and the estimated shipments of Android-based devices have grown rapidly.

The personal computing industry has shifted from 92 million shipments in 2008 to today’s market of 269 million units, as the site further details in charts.

Five years ago, Windows PCs accounted for the vast majority of computing devices – around 90 percent. But after failing to materially participate in the shift to tablets and smartphones, Microsoft has been left with its OS software on less than a third of the devices companies and individuals now use.

Dediu’s figures come from Gartner’s PC and tablet shipment data. The firm, along with IDC, suddenly stopped counting certain tablets among PC sales after Apple released its iPad. Both companies have since added Microsoft’s Surface and other Windows-branded tablets to their PC numbers while relegating iPads and Android tablets into a separate “media tablet” category.

Ostensibly, this was to separate devices used only for “media consumption” from PC figures, but the firm’s PC data has always included vast numbers of PCs that have only ever been used to browse the web or check mail, and have also included low powered netbooks and other limited-duty PC devices.

In stark contrast, complete PC market data from Canalys has more clearly shown how modern tablet form factors have had a tremendous impact on the PC market, without regard for how flattering the truth is to Microsoft.

iPhone 5s handsets entering short supply stage while iPhone 5c units remain fully stocked, more readily available

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Date: Friday, October 11th, 2013, 06:38
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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If there’s a new iPhone handset popularity contest going on, the iPhone 5s is currently the winner.

Per AppleInsider, three weeks after the latest iPhones went on sale in the U.S., availability of the iPhone 5s has actually declined while Apple prepares for greater international roll-out.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has been checking inventory levels of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c since they went on sale Sept. 21. In a note to investors released on Friday, he indicated that supply of the iPhone 5s went from 27 percent availability two weeks ago to 6 percent over the past week, based on a check of 60 Apple stores.

In addition, the number of stores that had at least one iPhone 5s SKU available dropped from 90 percent two weeks ago to 40 percent over the past week. Munster believes the shrinking supply is probably a result of Apple preparing for an international launch, with 51 new markets set to receive both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c by Nov. 1. Resale value of the iPhone 5s is currently 32% above market value in the U.S.

In another sign of demand, Munster has also been tracking resale value, and found that the entry-level 16-gigabyte iPhone 5s is currently selling at a 32 percent premium in the U.S.

The story is different for the iPhone 5c, which is selling at an 11 percent discount over its retail price. Munster’s checks also found that the iPhone 5c remains well-stocked, and he expects that demand for the mid-level handset is about in-line with market expectations.

In comparison, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 currently sells for a 12 percent discount in the U.S., putting it about on par with Apple’s iPhone 5c.

“We expect iPhone aftermarket prices should decrease as 5S supply catches up to demand and would consider the 5S fully stocked when the 5S is available to ship in a 24 hour lead time,” Munster wrote. Currently Apple’s online store quotes iPhone 5S October lead times in Apple’s 6 largest countries, and 24 hours for the 5C.”

Apple job listing points towards partnership with China Mobile wireless carrier

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Date: Thursday, October 10th, 2013, 06:18
Category: iPhone, News

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It’s the job postings that show where Apple’s headed…

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Bloomberg, a new Apple job listing seeking an engineer experienced with China Mobile’s proprietary TD-LTE network. The job listing notes that the position will “support and drive the carrier approval of mobile phones.”

The job posting seeks in-depth knowledge and experience with wireless systems including TD-LTE, which is the 4G standard used by China Mobile. Skills with WCDMA and CDMA, the technologies used by China Unicom and China Telecom, respectively, are also sought. “This role will be responsible for the overall management of the technical interface to all carriers in the Greater China region,” Apple said in the ad.

China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier with upwards of 700 million subscribers. To that end, reaching a deal with them would provide Apple with a tremendous opportunity to really create a noticeable uptick in iPhone sales.

Just recently, word emerged that in early September, Apple received a “network access license” to carry the iPhone on China Mobile.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5s, 5c to expand to dozens of additional countries on October 25th, November 1st

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Date: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013, 07:37
Category: iPhone, News, retail

eliphone5s

The iPhone 5s and 5c handsets, they’re coming to a country near you.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has announced that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will be available in 35 additional countries starting October 25, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, French West Indies, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Island, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand.

In addition, the iPhone 5s and 5c will debut in the following countries on Friday, November 1: Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Colombia, El Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, India, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE.

So, yeah, it looks like you should be able to get your paws on the new handset…

Rumor: iPad media event to take place October 22nd, exact location unknown

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Date: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013, 07:35
Category: iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make things interesting.

Per AppleInsider and AllThingsD, the date for Apple’s anticipated iPad media event was leaked on Tuesday, which cited unnamed sources. The same publication has accurately shared word of Apple event dates in the past.

In addition to new iPads, the event in two weeks is also expected to focus on the company’s revamped Mac Pro high-end desktop, and the forthcoming OS X Mavericks operating system update.

While the date for the event is known, its exact location has yet to be determined. Possible spots include Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus, or the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Last year’s iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad event was held in San Jose, but the company reportedly does not plan to return there this year.

The next 9.7-inch iPad is widely expected to sport a redesigned chassis that will make it look like a big iPad mini. Apple is expected to reduce the weight and thickness of its full-size iPad, and also give the device thinner side bezels.

As for the iPad mini, it’s anticipated to feature a high-resolution Retina display with its second-generation model. Both devices are rumored to sport high-quality 8-megapixel rear facing cameras, equivalent with the iPhone.

Still unknown is whether either of Apple’s new iPads will sport the Touch ID fingerprint sensor the company unveiled in the new iPhone 5s, but did not bring to its mid-level iPhone 5c.

The new iPads will hit the market ahead of the holiday shopping season, and at a time when traditional notebook PCs continue to struggle. Competition in the tablet space has been heating up, with Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX, Microsoft’s Surface 2, and Google’s Nexus 7.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Why the Mac (still) beats the PC

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Date: Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, 08:25
Category: Apple, Opinion

Christopher Laincz, Ph.D., is director of the LeBow Ph.D. Program at Drexel University, and associate professor in LeBow’s Department of Economics and International BusinessI’m publishing this guest blog by Dr. Christopher Laincz, because I couldn’t agree more with his opinions. If you don’t agree, be sure to read the pro-PC counter-point article by his colleague Mark Eyerly and sound off in the comments below.

I find myself in a strange town, and I want a cup of coffee. I see a Starbucks and some local dive. I choose Starbucks.

Here’s why: When you walk into Starbucks, you know exactly what you’re getting; and, they’ll customize it to your taste. If they make an error, they fix it immediately. I expect a good experience right from the start.

On the other hand, the local dive might prove great, but it might serve bug-infested sludge.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “risking a dollar or so on the local dive’s coffee is no big deal.” Sure. But when it comes to computers, it’s much riskier. You could easily spend $1,500 on some crappy PC. Perhaps for an extra $500, you could take home a (beautiful and better-designed) Mac with similar specs.

Why do I spend more on a Mac? Because Macs are better. In fact, the quality-adjusted price actually makes the Mac the better deal. PCs can be made in any Joe’s garage – and too frequently are – hence the hardware quality is a crapshoot. The Windows environment is fraught with holes and issues. Ever try to get service help for your PC? Ugh.

Furthermore, I do not need or appreciate my computer warning me at every turn about this risk or that issue. Just fix it, dammit! I’m busy with my own work. I don’t have time to invest in searching for the answers to every PC/Windows security or design flaw that crops up.

This isn’t a problem I encounter on my Mac. Apple takes care of maintenance and quality-control, so I am willing to pay for that. Buy a PC, and the maintenance and quality-control risks are on you. You may have paid less for the hardware up front, but over time you’ll pay with time, money and frustration to keep the thing functioning and not destroying your own tireless efforts.

Mac products stay way ahead of the Windows environment in terms of innovation and user-friendliness. I blame the PC/Windows marriage from hell.

The Justice Department brought an anti-trust suit against Microsoft for abusing its market power to kill off Netscape (which it did successfully). One of the punitive options in front of the Justice Department was to break Microsoft up into two companies: operating system (Windows) and software (MS Office).

Had the Justice Department gone with that option, the software would have been thrown into a more competitive environment. But it didn’t, and as a result the Office Suite has not evolved much.

Some complain that Apple excludes other products from seamless integration with its own. Sure, that may be true, but for me it isn’t a problem.

After falling in love with my 4-year-old MacBook Pro (which I’m using right now), I got a Mac desktop for my home, another for the office, and I just added the iPhone.

Digital bliss.

Christopher Laincz, Ph.D., is director of the LeBow Ph.D. Program at Drexel University, and associate professor in LeBow’s Department of Economics and International Business. He’s actually pretty down-to-earth for a Mac-toting academic.

Apple working on upcoming OS X 10.9.1 bug fix, attaches “Syrah” code name to OS X 10.10 project

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Date: Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, 07:32
Category: News, Software

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This is just how quickly software development moves.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has apparently dubbed its future OS X 10.10 operating system “Syrah” (a type of wine), which they’ve begun seeding to Apple employees for internal testing as of early September.

While it’s been reported that Apple is targeting a redesign of the OS X interface to mimic iOS 7′s new look for OS X 10.10, the current nightly builds are said to be nearly identical to the Golden Master version of OS X Mavericks. It’s unlikely that 10.10 seeds will gain new user-facing features or interface elements until well into development. Apple software engineering teams typically work on several projects independently, then pull them in all-together into the new operating system ahead of seed milestones.

Emphasizing the fact that OS X 10.10 is still very early in development is its current build number. It’s been said that OS X 10.10 has seen approximately 30 seeds so far in development. For comparison, the first OS X Mavericks Developer Preview was build 476, while the first OS X Mountain Lion and Lion Previews were build numbers in the 100s range and 400s range, respectively. Nonetheless, it is likely that Apple is targeting a release of OS X 10.10 for sometime in 2014.

As OS X Mavericks moved to Golden Master status (the state in which the OS is ready to ship and/or be installed on new Macs), Apple moved a fair portion of its Mac software engineering resources onto its OS X 10.10 project. Other people on the team, however, are said to be working on updates to the OS X 10.9 Mavericks track. Apple is said to already be closing in on a point-release update (OS X 10.9.1) to Mavericks with bug fixes and perhaps the ability to block iMessages and FaceTime calls from certain users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iTunes Radio to roll out in Canada, Australia, U.K. and New Zealand in early 2014

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Date: Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, 07:29
Category: iTunes Radio, Rumor

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iTunes Radio will be hitting a wide array of international markets in the next few months.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Bloomberg, iTunes Radio is also set to start early next year in Australia and New Zealand, where Pandora already operates, said sources who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Nordic countries are also being targeted in the same time frame, the people said.

Apple is moving faster than Pandora because it forged agreements for international rights with Vivendi SA (VIV)’s Universal Music Group and other record companies, said one of the sources. Pandora, which doesn’t have such deals, relies on rights granted by government entities, limiting service to the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

While it makes sense for Apple to start small with English speaking countries, Apple executive Eddy Cue recently said that Apple wants iTunes Radio to be a global entity.

“One of our top priorities is to bring iTunes Radio obviously here in the U.K. but everywhere in the world,” Cue explained in an interview last week. “We certainly want to be in more than 100 countries.”

Cue noted that Apple is thus far “very pleased” with the rollout of iTunes Radio. Remember that Apple noted in a press release two weeks ago that over 11 million unique users had already given iTunes Radio a spin in the first few days the feature became available.

As a final note, keep in mind that Bloomberg’s sources are anonymous and any rumors involving Apple should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially when they involve the often murky world of music licensing.

Stay tuned for additional details as we get them.

Apple to announce Q4 2013 earnings on October 28th

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Date: Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, 06:55
Category: Finance, News

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The financial results are coming.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday announced that it will release its fourth fiscal quarter results immediately following the close of the stock market on October 28.

The results, which cover the company’s operations from July through September, will include the first full week of sales for the company’s sales record-breaking iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

As usual, Apple will conduct a conference call to discuss the financial results on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET. In the last quarterly call, Apple reported earnings of US$6.9 billion on sales of 31.2 million iPhones, 14.6 million iPads, and 3.8 million Macs. That quarter saw Apple doing US$35.4 billion in total revenue.

The forthcoming call will likely give investors and tech industry observers some notion of just how well Apple’s newest iPhones are doing. The devices sold nine million units in just their first three days of availability, and investors will be eager to see how that may impact Apple’s bottom line. The new iPhones, though, were only on sale for the last ten days of the quarter, and their true impact may not be fully felt until Apple’s Q1 FY14 reporting.

Apple, though, did appear encouraged by the performance of its newest handsets. Following the launch weekend for the iPhone 5s and 5c, Apple revised its earnings guidance upward. The company expects its earnings to be near the high end of its previously provided range of US$34 to US$37 billion. It also believes its gross margin will fall at the higher end of its previous range of between 36 and 37 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.