Analyst comments on supply chain, indicates that updated MacBook Air notebooks possible for September

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Date: Monday, August 9th, 2010, 03:28
Category: MacBook Air, News

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A pair of updated MacBook Air notebooks could be en route along with updated iPods this September as analyst Keith Bachman with BMO Capital Markets this week issued a note to investors in which he said Apple will finally update its MacBook Air line next month. Per AppleInsider, Bachman offered the following quote:

“We are not yet clear on all the specs, but supply chain checks suggest that unit shipments o the new Air products could far exceed the current Air, which we believe could suggest lower starting prices,” Bachman wrote. “We project 2.9 million total notebooks in the September quarter, which we believe is reasonable.”

Updates have been repeatedly rumored over the last year but never panned out. The hardware was last updated in June 2009, giving it a Core 2 Duo processor and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics at a lower starting price of US$1,499.

Bachman also spoke of Apple’s anticipated update to its iPod line, though he did not specifically cite any industry insiders in his prediction for a redesigned, “much smaller” iPod nano.

“We believe that the Nano will be much smaller than past versions, and will not have a physical track wheel,” he said, adding that it’s possible that the iPod shuffle could be eliminated if the iPod nano is reduced in size.

Bachman also noted strong iPad and iPhone sales, and said checks in the supply chain indicate that the iPod touch has not been cannibalized by the iPad. BMO Capital Markets has maintained its “outperform” rating for AAPL stock, and has a price target of US$315.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

China Unicom to bring Wi-Fi enabled iPhone 3GS to market come Monday

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Date: Friday, August 6th, 2010, 04:19
Category: iPhone, News

Following up on yesterday’s story about wireless carrier China Unicom selling Apple’s iPhone with Wi-Fi capabilities, Wen Baoqiu, a spokesman for China Unicom, has announced that starting Monday the Beijing-based telecom operator will offer an 8-gigabyte model of the iPhone 3GS with Wi-Fi capability. 16- and 32-gigabyte versions without Wi-Fi will continue to be available as well.

Per AppleInsider, prior to the initial launch of the iPhone in October 2009, China temporarily banned the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard in an effort to promote its alternative WAPI standard. The ban was relaxed in May 2009, but not before manufacturing of the China-specific iPhone had already begun.

China Unicom’s iPhone launch sold just 5,000 handsets in its first 4 days, the lack of Wi-Fi being seen as a flaw. With this, the official iPhone struggled to gain momentum against a well-developed Chinese ‘gray market,’ which offered full-featured imported iPhones. Sales of the China Unicom iPhone eventually picked up, reaching 100,000 units in December.

In July, Chinese regulators posted an approval notice of a Wi-Fi iPhone, although the approval appeared to be for the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, not the iPhone 4. Chinese consumers seeking to obtain an iPhone 4 will have to look to Hong Kong, where it was released on July 30th, while they wait for a mainland release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked photo illustrations suggest camera, flash on next-gen iPod touch

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:14
Category: iPod Touch, Pictures, Rumor

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A series of leaked photo illustrations supposedly obtained from iPod case manufacturers show a new version of the iPod touch with a camera and flash.

Per a leaked image on HardMac, the English language version of France’s Macbidouille, the next generation iPod touch in shown in a clear case. The website claims the source of the image is “very reliable.” The image appears to show a rounded back with a rear-facing camera and flash.

A rounded back would be a clear departure from the design of the iPhone 4, which has a flat glass back.



According to the web site, the source has been reliable in the past, correctly confirming the inclusion of a camera on last year’s iPod nano. Technical issues have been cited as the reason for the lack of a camera on last year’s iPod touch model.

Although rumors of a camera-enabled iPod touch have persisted for several years, the June unveiling of Apple’s FaceTime video call feature for the iPhone 4 served to strengthen the rumors. At that time, CEO Steve Jobs expressed plans to make the feature an “open industry standard” that works between different devices. When speculating which devices are likely to adopt the FaceTime standard, many analysts have kept the iPod touch at the top of their lists.

Reports from “supplier” sources corroborate the iPod touch camera rumor, although the details don’t always match. In July, U.K. retailer John Lewis claimed the next iPod touch will have a 5 megapixel camera, while the Taiwanese publication Digitimes cited sources predicting a 3 megapixel camera.

Either way, this will probably be resolved upon the new iPod touch’s release, which is expected to occur sometime in September.

Apple promises fix for web-based jailbreak flaw in iOS-based devices, declines on specific date

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

The tug-of-war between Apple and the iPhone hacker community continues as Apple has vowed to fix a flaw that allows its iOS-based device to be jailbroken via the Safari web browser.

Per CNET an Apple spokesperson said, “We’re aware of this reported issue, we have already developed a fix and it will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

Apple declined to say when the update would be available.

If you’ve jailbroken your iOS-based device recently and have any feedback about the experience, let us know what happened and how it went.

China Unicom to begin selling Wi-Fi-enabled iPhones by end of August

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:22
Category: iPhone, News

Wait long enough and the good stuff gets sorted out.

Per Macworld UK, Chinese law is set to change, allowing wireless carrier China Unicom to sell iPhones with Wi-Fi capabilities later this month.

A spokesman with the iPhone carrier China Unicom said the company will start offering the 8GB iPhone 3GS with Wi-Fi support possibly by the end of the week, offering no further details beyond this. The Chinese media, however, has reported that the handset will be released on August 9th and that the device will cost 4999 renminbi (US$736) under a 24-month contract plan that includes the product.

Apple was originally forced to drop Wi-Fi support from its iPhones when the device was introduced to the mainland market. At the time Chinese regulators required all handsets to use the domestically developed wireless LAN security protocol known as WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure).

But last month, regulators issued a license for an Apple iPhone with Wi-Fi support using the WAPI security protocol. Apple would not comment on China Unicom’s release of the iPhone, said company spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.

As for the possibility of the iPhone 4 being sold in China in the near future, China Unicom said it has no news regarding the matter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.3, adds support for new camera formats

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Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010, 06:21
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.2, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’09 applications.

The update, a 5.68 megabyte download, includes support for the following cameras:

- Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

- Olympus E-PL1

- Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

- Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10

- Samsung NX10

- Sony Alpha DSLR-A390

- Sony Alpha NEX-3

- Sony Alpha NEX-5

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 update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

iOS 4.1 beta 3 rules out Game Center app for iPhone 3G, second-gen iPod touch devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010, 05:17
Category: News, Software

The good news: The third beta of iOS 4.1 is out and progress is being made towards the final version.

The bad news: Neither the iPhone 3G or second-generation iPod touch devices will be compatible with Apple’s Game Center application upon its release.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story stated that a pre-release build seeded to developers on Tuesday, has dropped support for Game Center for older handset models. In previous builds, the iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch were capable of running Game Center.

Those familiar with the latest build said Apple’s release notes did not indicate whether this was a permanent change, or a temporary one just for this beta. It simply stated that Game Center is “no longer supported” on the older hardware.

The loss of support was reportedly one of a number of changes made to the GameKit API found in iOS 4.1. In addition to a number of bug fixes, the latest update is also said to have added support for the achievements API, which will allow gamers to receive virtual awards for completing tasks in games.

Game Center has been touted by Apple as a major new feature of iOS 4, aiming to provide a centralized experience for gamers on the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live, the social gaming network will allow gamers to see what their friends are playing, challenge them to an online match, or compare scores in specific titles.

In addition, the GameKit application programming interface allows developers to integrate their titles into the Game Center social network. The service will be opt-in for developers, who will not be forced to make their software a part of Game Center. But Apple officials believe it will be beneficial for application makers to integrate their games, because the service will allow a greater experience for users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently unearthed iPad configuration policies provide additional evidence to forthcoming camera

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Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010, 06:43
Category: iPad, News

You’re hankering for a camera on the iPad and it may be forthcoming.

Per AppleInsider, iPad management profile policies available to corporate users include the capability to disable use of its camera, providing evidence of future intent to include a camera on upcoming models.

Apple’s configuration profile tools for iOS devices include a variety of settings and restrictions that companies can impose to regulate how the devices are used and to configure services such as VPN and wireless networking access or email, calendar and directory services.

These policies can also force strong passwords and set security features such as the number of times a password attempt can fail before the device wipes its data. Similar to parental controls, the policy settings can also be used to block access to features such as the iTunes Store, Safari, YouTube, or the use of its camera.

While iPhones do have cameras to disable, the current iPad lacks this. However, among the profiles specifically included in its iPad documentation, Apple notes the ability to restrict camera use on the iPad.

Prior to launch, it was widely rumored that the iPad might include a camera. When it shipped, Apple only provided the ability to connect to external cameras through its Dock connector, either via USB or using an SD Card reader adapter.

API support for camera, flash, and zoom functions were discovered in developer builds of the iPad-only iOS 3.2 in February.

While those APIs may have been added as part of software development work performed to support iPhone 4, Apple also posted job listings for a “Performance QA Engineer, iPad Media” which stated, “Build on your QA experience and knowledge of digital camera technology (still and video) to develop and maintain testing frameworks for both capture and playback pipelines.”

Taken together, it appears likely that future versions of iPad will incorporate a camera, most likely a front-facing unit intended to support FaceTime. That video conferencing feature is currently limited to iPhone 4, but Apple plans to make it a widespread standard among mobile devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumored Apple streaming service encountering delays, limited version could appear in 2010

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Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010, 05:44
Category: iTunes, News

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As cool an idea as it may be, Apple’s rumored iTunes cloud service is apparently mired in licensing issues and could be further down the road than previously thought, though a limited version of the service could be released in 2010.

Sources told CNet that if ‘in the cloud’ music features from Apple are released in the next few months, they will probably be “modest in scope,” rather than more robust offerings as previously rumored.

After Apple purchased the online music streaming service LaLa late last year, speculation about the possibility of an iTunes streaming service increased. In January, one music industry veteran went on record saying that an upcoming version of iTunes would make users’ iTunes libraries “available from any browser or net connected iPod/touch/tablet.”

Although the article claims that causes for the delay remain unclear, licensing issues and personnel changes may be a large part of the problem. According to the report, Apple “still hasn’t obtained the licenses needed to store or distribute music from the cloud.”

Additionally, music industry sources said Monday that “one of Lala’s four founding members, someone who moved to Apple after the acquisition, has recently left the company.”

These delays could cost Apple if Google launches a competing service first. Although the company has partnered with music streaming services in the past, it has yet to launch a full-featured cloud music service. CNet’s sources report that “Google’s music attempts have never appeared this concrete before.”

On the other hand, positive evidence that the project remains on track can be found by looking at Apple’s US$1 billion North Carolina server farm project. Several analysts are predicting that the project is being built specifically for a cloud media service. In July, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer announced that the server farm is “on schedule” to open by the end of the year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts first Mac OS X 10.7 job opening, cites web technologies as integral to new OS

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Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010, 05:13
Category: News

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Hype from the computer industry always makes things a bit more interesting, but it’s sometimes informative.

Per CNET, an Apple job listing suggests something big will be coming to OS X 10.7.

The listing states the following:
“Are you looking to help create something totally new? Something that has never been done before and will truly amaze everyone? Are you excited by the prospect that what you helped create would be used every day by millions of Apple customers? Then come and work with the Mac OS X software engineering team to help build a new and revolutionary feature for Mac OS X.
We are looking for a senior software engineer to help us create a revolutionary new feature in the very foundations of Mac OS X. We have something truly revolutionary and really exciting in progress and it is going to require your most creative and focused efforts ever.”

The announcement goes on to further describe an ideal candidate having familiarity with HTTP protocols and other Web and Internet-based programming experience, suggesting the next version of OS X will be more integrated in the Web and networking.

Either way, it could be the start of something nifty.

Albeit Apple will now have to ponder what large and deadly cat to name Mac OS X 10.7 ever.

The best I can think of is “ocelot”…