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Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category

Parental Advice to iPad Kids App Designers

posted by Carlos Wilson @ 3:00 AM
Friday, February 22, 2013
The popularity of iPad apps is gradually rising among kids. This is mainly because iPad apps are engaging, and interactive. They help kids to learn things faster and in a fun way. This article gives important guidelines for iPad app designing for kids.
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iPad Traffic Falls After Holidays

posted by Allison Howen @ 9:35 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

There has been a bit of a shake-up in the tablet world, thanks to the Kindle Fire’s popularity over the holiday season.

In fact, insights from online advertising network Chitika reveal that the iPad’s tablet Web shares fell by 7.1 percent following the Christmas holiday, while the Kindle Fire’s Web tablet Web shares rose by 3.03 percent. That being said, the iPad still maintains the overall largest share of tablet traffic at 78.86 percent. It is also important to note that Chitika expects the iPad’s share of tablet traffic to return to the 80 percent range as consumers return back to work and decrease their browsing habits on their new devices.

Chitika’s insights analyzed hundreds of millions of smartphone and tablet impressions from the Chitika ad network in the U.S. and Canada from December 1st through December 27th. The results also found that the iPhone 5 gained 1.1 percent of the smartphone usage share after the holidays, while the Galaxy S III gained 1 percent. Moreover, just as Apple’s iPad rules the tablet market, the iPhone also currently maintains the largest share of smartphone traffic at 8.27 percent.  

          

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Get Analytics on the Go with Webtrends

posted by Allison Howen @ 5:00 PM
Monday, August 20, 2012

Need analytics on the go?

If the answer is yes, you might want to check out the new iPad app from Webtrends – which offers marketers insights into trending data from websites, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The free iPad app provides current Webtrends customers with an innovative extension of the company's digital intelligence solutions. However, the iPad app can also be leveraged by all digital marketers, regardless of whether they are current Webtrends clients or not.

In fact, after downloading the app, all users can input their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube account credentials. The app provides users with an iPad-optimized view of relevant data from these properties, which is formatted for easy sharing within organizations.

"We developed the new Webtrends Today iPad app with the needs of our customers and modern digital marketers in mind," says Benjamin Diggles, director of digital marketing with Webtrends. "Our customers told us that they were looking for a better, more convenient tool for accessing key digital intelligence data and sharing it. Our iPad app is specifically designed and optimized to make important digital data beautiful, mobile, meaningful and, most of all, shareable, so that the insights it inspires can reach throughout organizations and make them more successful."

The Webtrends app allows digital marketers to measure the engagement of their Facebook communities and Pages with access to data such as the number of likes and conversations, as well as clear graphic visualizations of social impact across demographics and trending comments. Additionally, relevant Twitter influence data is also represented, including current Klout score, number of followers, retweets and total number of tweets sent.

Webtrends also integrates relevant YouTube data into the company's iPad app, including total number of views on each YouTube video that is tracked, as well as total channel views. Users also have the ability to sort YouTube videos by most recent or most viewed, and play any of their tracked videos within the app if desired.

It is also important to note that the iPad app for current Webtrends customers also accesses and integrates data from the Analytics 10 platform, which enables them to compare performance metrics and analytics across digital channels – including websites, mobile and social properties.

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Mobile Traffic Declines in July (And More Statistics)

posted by Michael Garrity @ 7:30 AM
Monday, August 20, 2012

Affiliate Window, one of the United Kingdom’s leading performance marketing networks, has unleashed upon the world its July report concerning mobile and m-commerce statistics.

Most curiously, the company found that the share of Web traffic through mobile devices actually dropped from over 12 percent in June to making up around just nine percent of total traffic in July. This isn’t terribly peculiar, as May saw a slight decrease, as well, following month-by-month increases for the first four months of the year.

On the upside, however, the volume of mobile clicks actually increased. And not only that, but the share of sales through mobile devices also rose, finally crossing the nine percent threshold at 9.42 percent. Ultimately, this figure, coupled with the drop in traffic, seems to show a closer alignment between mobile conversion rates and those of their desktop counterparts, as mobile conversion rates improved throughout July, increasing to 3.14 percent.

The report also breaks down mobile and m-commerce statistics by mobile device. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that Apple is (still) leading the pack, with the iPhone driving 38 percent of all mobile traffic by the end of the month. However, it’s not all sunshine for the brand, as iPad traffic actually ended up dropping below 40 percent. On the other hand, iPad sales reached a high of 63 percent of all mobile sales by the end of the month, and the iPhone ended up accounting for 24.87 percent.

Android devices saw traffic increases in July, with the number resting between 18 and 19 percent, up from June’s 17.5 percent. BlackBerry and “Other” devices both decreased, driving 1.5 and two percent of July’s mobile traffic, respectively. In terms of sales, Android saw another increase, ranging between 11.5 and 13 percent throughout the four weeks of July, while BlackBerry and “Other” devices both stayed below two percent.

From a year-to-date perspective, iPads have driven 57 percent of all mobile sales, with iPhones coming in second at 27 percent, and followed by Android (11 percent), BlackBerry (3 percent) and other devices (2 percent). Adding to this, Affiliate Window found that the iPhone, Android and “Other” devices allow showed an improvement in conversion rates in July; in fact, they were all almost identical at around 2.1 percent.

I think it’s fair to say that if you take anything away from this report, it’s not to put too much stock in the future of BlackBerry.

 

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Create an iPad App with DIY Magazine Publishing Platform

posted by Allison Howen @ 11:00 PM
Thursday, July 26, 2012

By now we all know how important it is to have a mobile presence, yet this task is still easier said than done.

However, that does not have to be the case – especially for content publishers who leverage the DIY app-publishing platform MAZ.

MAZ is a New-York based startup that enables content publishers to roll out iPad apps in as little as 15 minutes. The company’s core platform, MagAppZine, is targeted toward magazine publishers, but the company also has two new platforms that are currently in beta – BookApps and CatalogApps.

Publishers can upload PDF files into MAZ to create content for their app. MAZ apps include in-app web browsing, Twitter access and built-in social sharing buttons, as well as come with a built-in web browser and media player so that publishers can add an unlimited number of links and multimedia items into their apps. Users also have the ability to preview apps on their iPad before they are published.

All MAZ apps take advantage of iOS 5 features, including the ability for users to add in-app purchasing, in-app subscriptions, Newsstand integration, push notifications, background downloading and automatic issue metadata updates to their apps. Once an application is created, users simply hit submit and MAZ takes care of the rest, including dealing with platform providers like Apple, to get the app launched. Furthermore, MAZ users have the ability to add advertisements within their apps, and are also fully equipped with analytics and reporting so that they can monitor their app's metrics.

Publishers can try the platform for free, however plans to create one app normally cost $299 a month. This package offers users the ability to upload an unlimited amount of issues, make an unlimited amount of changes to their app, add as many links and multimedia items as desired, and offers unlimited access to MAZStatz.

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Recently, j2 Global, a provider of cloud-based communications and storage messaging services for businesses, released the results of the j2 Global Small Business Survey, and the results are overwhelmingly optimistic.

According to the report, 76 percent of the small business owners surveyed said they’re optimistic about the growth of their companies through the rest of 2012. Just seven percent said they weren’t optimistic at all. More importantly, however, were insights that the survey provided that detail how these business owners are utilizing mobile and social technology.

Although email and search are still the two primary promotional tools for most online businesses, 39 percent of the respondents said that a quarter of their marketing strategy is now based around social media, and 26 percent said that social was the focus of half (or more) of their marketing efforts.

Facebook was widely considered the most important social platform for business owners at 37 percent (LinkedIn was second, and Google+ came in third); however, the usefulness of each social network varies greatly by industry. Facebook was most popular with restaurants, but LinkedIn was the go-to destination for consultants, and medical professionals love Google+. Most e-commerce businesses utilize Twitter, and tech firms prefer YouTube. Surprisingly, just one percent of the owners said that Pinterest was the most important social network, making it the least valuable of the bunch.

As for mobile, small business owners seem to be embracing the technology in order to keep up with their larger competitors. 38 percent of the respondents said that they currently use at least five mobile apps to run their business, which correlates with a Business Journals study that recognizes iPads as the fastest growing new technology for small and medium-sized businesses.

Popular uses of the Apple tablet include email (the highest reported at 76 percent), Web browsing, document management, product demonstrations and sales, communication (phone and video) and online faxing. Use of these devices is primarily driven by restaurants and other food service industry companies.

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Create an iOS-Ready Site with This New Tool

posted by Michael Garrity @ 8:00 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2012

International domain name registrar and cloud hosting provider Gandi wants to help you be iOS-ready with its latest product, Gandi Basekit.

This new website creation tool was built for compatibility with Apple iOS devices, meaning iPhones and iPads. Customers create sites that will be easily, automatically viewable on these mobile devices; and, of course, they will be hosted by Gandi.

Oh, and it’s totally free.

Websites can be created using HTML5 and CSS style sheets, an important component in developing for iOS, which doesn’t support Flash. This does away with the need to set up Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) systems for similar functionality.

The tool comes with a variety of features and benefits for users. For instance, it was designed for ease-of-use, and offers preconfigured and customizable theme templates, so users can start building their websites in no time. That being said, it also comes with a powerful infrastructure for more advanced developers, providing tools that allow experts to directly edit their sites’ HTML and CSS codes using preset or user-supplied graphics and images.

And, one cannot forget the integrated social media tools (including link installation for the most widely used social media sites), e-commerce integration with a Google Checkout widget for payment functionality and intuitive content management that allows users to edit block text, add more blocks, reposition images and add a submit button or navigation menu using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Basekit is the latest in Gandi’s portfolio of free tools. It is currently available for all of Gandi’s customers.

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Most Tablet Users Also Video Consumers

posted by Linc Wonham @ 10:30 AM
Monday, June 11, 2012

A new report from comScore has found that tablets have quickly reached a “critical mass” in the U.S., with 1 in every 4 smartphone owners using tablets during the three-month average period ending April 2012.

The study also found that tablet users were nearly three times more likely to watch video on their devices compared to smartphone users, with 1 in every 10 tablet users viewing video content almost daily.

“Tablets are one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in history and are poised to fundamentally disrupt the way people engage with the digital world both on-the-go and, perhaps most notably, in the home,” says Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of Mobile. “It’s not surprising to see that once consumers get their hands on their first tablet, they are using them for any number of media habits including TV viewing.”

Adoption Jumps Nearly 12 Percent
In just two years since the launch of the iPad, the first tablet to reach a meaningful market penetration, tablet adoption has exploded, fueled by the introduction of new devices that appeal to various price and feature preferences. In April 2012, 16.5 percent of mobile phone subscribers used a tablet, representing an increase of 11.8 percentage points in the past year.

Growth in market penetration was even more apparent among the smartphone population with nearly 1 in 4 using a tablet device in April, an increase of 13.9 percentage points in the past year. A lower 10.4 percent of feature phone owners use a tablet, suggesting that smartphone ownership is highly predictive of tablet adoption in the current market.

Older Users on the Whole
A demographic analysis of mobile device audiences indicated that tablet and smartphone audiences closely resemble one another in terms of gender composition, with tablet users just slightly more likely to be female than smartphone users. However, the age composition of audiences showed that tablet users skewed noticeably older than smartphone users.

For both devices, the heaviest overall audience concentration was between the ages of 25-44. Compared to smartphone owners, tablet users were 28 percent more likely to be in the 65 and older age segment, and 27 percent less likely to be age 18-24.

Tablet users also skewed towards upper-income households, likely a function of the high price point of these devices still considered a luxury good to many consumers. Nearly 3 in 5 tablet users resided in households with income of $75,000 or greater, compared to 1 in every 2 smartphone users.

Video Content Consumers
A closer look at content consumption on tablets found that more than half of tablet users watched video and/or TV content on their device in April 2012, compared to just 20 percent of the smartphone audience, with larger screen sizes making tablets more conducive to video consumption than their smaller-screen cousins. Not only were tablet users more likely to watch video, but they were more likely to view video habitually, with 18.9 percent of tablet users watching video content at least once a week, and 9.5 percent watching video nearly every day on their devices.

Of those viewing video at least once during the month, 1 in 4 (26.7 percent) paid to watch content, highlighting the tremendous monetization potential this platform represents for content providers.

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Two Tech Giants Reach for the Cloud

posted by Michael Garrity @ 4:00 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2012

The race to the cloud is heating up, and the last week has seen some pretty big cloud-related news from two of the largest technology companies in the world.

Microsoft SkyDrive
Like other major names in the tech industry, Microsoft has moved to the cloud with SkyDrive, an online storage service that is the meat of its cloud computing services (think: Amazon Web Services). Just yesterday, Microsoft rolled out some impressive new apps for SkyDrive that may prove to be a breakthrough moment for the company, at least in the cloud.

Perhaps the biggest revelation was desktop integration with Windows and Mac (although only the OS X Lion version).

In a move that is highly reminiscent of Dropbox, users will be able to access and save files in SkyDrive as if it were just any other folder on their computers, and everything they put in there will be automatically backed up in the cloud, safe and sound, as well as synced to other computers with access to the account.

A new preview application will allow Windows users to access, browse and stream files using a remote PC.

Microsoft also updated its mobile apps for iOS and Windows Phones, as well as launching a SkyDrive iPad application.

One major downside to this update is that the company is drastically reducing the amount of free storage it offers, from 25 GB to a paltry 7 GB. But maybe it’s not that bad, as Microsoft claims that less than 0.1 percent of current SkyDrive users actually use more than 7 GB. Plus, current customers who are using over 4 GB of storage will be upgraded to 25 GB for free, and new users will obviously be able to buy more storage, with a starting package that runs just $10 a year for 20 GB.

Google Drive
Google has also announced Google Drive, the company's first major attempt to bring its brand into the cloud.

After a long period of speculation, Google finally came clean with its announcement of Drive, which will work pretty much like SkyDrive, AWS and most other cloud services.

Users will be able to create, share, collaborate on and, of course, store all kinds of content in Drive, including photos, videos, documents, PDFs and more. This content will be available from basically anywhere, as Drive can be installed on both Macs and PCs, along with an app for Android mobile devices; the iOS version is in development.

Google has built Google Docs right into Drive to make it easy for users to create and work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. All shared content will allow users to add and reply to comments on anything (including image or video files), and Drive will notify them when other users comment on shared items.

And, no surprise, Google built in some handy search features, allowing users to search for keywords and filter results by file type, owner and other considerations. The service will even be able to recognize text in scanned documents with Opitical Character Recognition technology.

Drive is another component of Google's attempts to create a seamless experience for users across all facets of the Web, and it integrates nicely into other Google properties like Google+ and Gmail. It will also work with third-party applications for faxing documents, editing videos and more. These apps can be installed in the Chrome Web Store, with more additions on the way.

To start, users will get 5 GB of free storage. From there, they can upgrade to 25 GB for $2.49 a month, 100 GB for $4.99 a month or 1 TB for $49.99 a month. Paid accounts will also automatically expand a user's Gmail storage to 25 GB.

 

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The King of Mobile Shopping Devices

posted by AllisonH @ 8:00 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A new report from RichRelevance reveals insights about mobile shoppers – including iPad users, who are driving most of the shopping, browsing and purchasing behaviors within the mobile channel.

"Twenty years later, Apple's ground-breaking 'Think Different' ad campaign can be recast as 'Shop Different' for the iPad," said RichRelevance CEO David Selinger. "To succeed in this quickly evolving landscape, retailers need to understand how shopping behavior changes as consumers hop between devices, and be prepared to tailor the shopping experience in every channel, ensuring continuity and seamlessness regardless of choice of access.”

According to the study, iPad users spend significantly more time and money on retailer sites than other mobile users, accounting for 68 percent of shoppers. Additionally, iPad also has the greatest conversion rates (1.5 percent), and accounts for 90 percent of all mobile revenue. 

Another noteworthy statistic shows that iPad users purchase more expensive items than mobile phone users and spend more on orders.  According to the study, the iPad has the highest average order value (AOV) at $158, ahead of other mobile devices ($105) and even more than desktop users ($153). However, even though the purchases are more expensive, iPad shoppers purchase fewer items per order than other shoppers.

One way retailers can create a better brand experience on the iPad is by collaborating with catalog apps such as Catalogue from The Find and Google Catalogs, which feature products and catalogs from retailers, and provide an interactive shopping experience for consumers.

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A person injured at a Foxconn facility arrives at a hospital last year
Apple Inc.'s chief executive responded to a wave of negative attention to conditions at overseas factories that make its products, saying the insinuation that Apple doesn't care about the welfare of its workers is "offensive."

"Unfortunately, some people are questioning Apple’s values today," Tim Cook wrote in an e-mail to Apple employees. "Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern."

A series of articles in the New York Times has brought new focus on Apple's highly profitable production strategy, which relies heavily on Chinese workers who live in dormlike factories and spend many hours assembling devices. The safety records and working conditions in those factories have been questioned, and Apple's labor practices received intense scrutiny in 2010, when more than a dozen workers at  Chinese iPhone plants committed suicide

The later New York Times article quoted former Apple and Foxconn employees saying that Apple prioritized profit and production speed above worker welfare. 

The company was trying to address problems in its factories, one of the sources said, “but most people would still be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.”

In Cook's note, first published by 9to5Mac, he said that Apple was a world leader in improving overseas working conditions, and will continue to work hard to find and fix problems.

"We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues," Cook wrote.  "What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word."

RELATED:

IPad down to 58% of tablet sales as Android catches up

Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

Harvard study finds the iPad can be a pain in the neck

– David Sarno

Image: A person injured by an explosion at the Foxconn factory in May 2011 arrives at the Sichuan People's Hospital in Chengdu in southwest China. Credit: Associated Press.

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IPad down to 58% of tablet sales as Android catches up

posted by Technology @ 12:35 PM
Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tablet_consumer

When asked if the emergence of new, lower-cost tablets was affecting the success of the iPad this week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said he wasn't seeing it.

"I looked at the data, particularly in the U.S., on a weekly basis after Amazon launched the Kindle Fire, and I wouldn't — in my view there wasn't an obvious effect on the numbers plus or minus," Cook said.

But one clear minus was Apple's declining share of the growing tablet market. Despite gang-buster sales last quarter, the iPad has lost more than 10 percentage points of market share to rival Android tablets since the fourth quarter of 2010, according to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics.

The iPad dropped to 57.6% of the tablets sold during the most recent fourth quarter, from 68.2% a year earlier, while Android rose to 39.1% from 29.0% a year ago, the report said. While Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads during the quarter, Android makers shipped 10.5 million tablets, more than tripling the 3.1 million they shipped a year earlier.

The Android surge was led primarily by tablets from Amazon and Samsung, according to Strategy Analytics' Neil Mawston.

"Android is so far proving relatively popular with tablet manufacturers despite nagging concerns about fragmentation of Android’s operating system, user-interface and app store ecosystem,” Mawston wrote in a release attached to the report.

The report also noted that global tablet shipments rose to 66.9 million units in 2011, nearly quadrupling the 18.6 million shipped in 2010.  Devices "shipped" are those that manufacturers sell to retailers, and do not always represent final consumer sales numbers, especially when tablet makers overestimate the demand for their products.  But Mawston said the tablet shipment numbers in this case were a fair representation of the number consumers bought.

RELATED:

Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

Harvard study finds the iPad can be a pain in the neck

– David Sarno

Image: Tim Perkins checks out the $199 tablet from Amazon.com at a Best Buy store in L.A. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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Android-apple

The power of mobile technology: Never before have consumers been able to hold so many lawsuits in their hand.

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. has just thrown another baton in the smartphone lawsuit parade that has stretched to courtrooms across the globe, as phone-makers sue one another over similarities in their mobile devices, which are packed with patent-protected circuits and widgets from dozens of companies.

Motorola has  filed suit against Apple Inc., purveyor of the mega-blockbuster iPhone (the device lifted Apple to $46 billion in sales in its most recent quarter).  Apple is an increasingly bitter rival of Google Inc., which agreed to buy Motorola in August, a deal that is still awaiting regulatory clearance.

As patent observer Florian Mueller noted, Google probably had to approve Motorola's lawsuit, given that part of the buyout terms appear to forbid Motorola from filing lawsuits without Google's explicit permission.  Google has not directly sued or been sued by Apple in this matter — the two compaies are fighting their legal war by proxy.

Phones that run Google's Android operating system have collectively outsold the iPhone, and Apple is none too happy about that.  The Cupertino electronics maker has initiated a flurry of lawsuits against Android phone manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and HTC Corp., alleging that the companies "slavishly copied" the iPhone's signature look.

But Apple is finding that big legal wins are hard to come by.

Now Motorola is trying to make things even more difficult for its rival. In its second action against Apple in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, the company wants the court to ban iPhone sales.  Motorola alleges that Apple devices infringe on six of its patents, including one for a phone with a "concealed antenna," and another about keeping data on "multiple pagers" synchronized.  Motorola, as children of the 1990s will recall, made a lot of pagers — they still do.

For updates in this saga, make sure to keep your pagers on.

RELATED:

Apple loses bid to block U.S. sales of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Apple vs. Samsung: Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales ban lifted in Australia

ITC sides with Apple over HTC in initial ruling on patent suit

– David Sarno

Image: "Hungry Evil Android".  Credit: asgw / Flickr

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Harvard study finds the iPad can be a pain in the neck

posted by Technology @ 6:30 PM
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ipad

Apple sold a record breaking 15.43 million iPads in the last three months of 2011, which means a lot of people are starting to use tablet computers. And with last week's news that Apple is planning to bring textbooks to the iPad — well, that's a lot more people who may start to use tablets, too.

But, do they know how to use them safely?

A new study published by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with researchers at Microsoft (a long-time Apple rival), is the first of its kind to examine the physical effects on the head, neck and shoulders of spending time staring at a tablet.

The good news is that it is not all bad news. The researchers found that people are more inclined to move around and shift positions when they use a tablet compared with people who are sitting at a desktop computer. That's definitely good. However, tablet users that hold the device almost at their lap, or rest the tablet in a case on their lap, are putting a lot of strain on the neck muscles — much more than someone using a laptop or desktop computer.

"If you think about your position when you are hunched over looking down, your head is hanging out over space, so you are using your neck muscles to support the weight," said Jack Dennerlein, director of the Harvard Occupational Biomechanics Laboratory, and lead author of the paper.

Definitely not good.

In the paper, published earlier this month in the peer reviewed "Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation," the researchers identified four ways that people use tablets — the lap-hand (holding the tablet down at your lap), lap-case (resting the tablet in a case on your lap), table-case (resting the tablet in its case on a shallow angle on a table) and table-movie (resting the tablet at a steep angle on a table).

They concluded that the best position is the table-movie position because it is the only position in which the user's posture approached neutral. All the other positions put a lot of strain on the user's neck muscles.

Dennerlein said those who use tablets should make sure to move around as much as possible — "Don't get stuck in one position!" he said. The next most important thing is finding a good case that allows you to prop up your tablet at the most comfortable angle. He added that companies that distribute tablet computers to their employees should make sure to give out cases as well, in order to prevent injuries.

Next up, Dennerlein and his team plan to tackle the effect of tablet computing on the arms and wrist.

One additional note: When we reached out to Apple to see if they had any comment on the ergonomics on using the iPad, a spokesperson pointed us to a large section on ergonomics on Apple's website. The section is impressive, but the suggestions and diagrams are all related to desktop computers, and the site did not have any recommendations on how to most safely use a tablet. We called the rep to see if we had missed anything, but we didn't hear back by press time.

ALSO:

Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

New iPad holder aims to make bedtime reading easier

Apple earnings: $97.6 billion in the bank, and other highlights

–Deborah Netburn

Photo: A model looking at her iPad in a position that the Harvard study says is bad for your neck. Credit: Markus Schreiber / Associated Press

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What if solar storms knocked out the Internet?

posted by Technology @ 6:37 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012




 

The likelihood is remote, but there's a chance that a solar flare like the one that disrupted the Earth's electromagnetic field Tuesday could be responsible for the temporary demise of the Internet — or at least your ability to access it.

Don't believe us? Well, in 1989 electrical ground currents created by another solar storm made their way into the power grid of the Hydro-Quebec Power Authority, causing 6 million people to lose electricity. Elevators stopped working. Office buildings went dark. Engineers in Northern America were worried the blackout could travel down the Eastern Seaboard, although that never came to pass.

The U.S. government has since invested in research that has improved the design of electrical systems to make them less vulnerable to the effects of a solar storm. Still, we thought it was an interesting exercise to imagine what would happen if we were forced to live for a few hours, days or even weeks in a world without Internet.

Here are our top five predictions.

1. Self-promotion would become gauche again. Somewhere along our journey to total digital dependence — maybe around 2007 or 2008 — we accepted, as a society, that when it came to managing our Internet persona, it was clearly self-promote or perish. Did your kid do well on the SATs? Tell your 256 friends on Facebook all about it. Got a new project going at work? Tweet it loud and proud. Got a big story dropping in Vanity Fair? Email everyone in your address list. But in a world without Internet, where you have to look someone in the face while bragging, all this 'look how great I am' stuff might start to feel weird again.

2. Remembering who directed a movie would be a major project. Instant access to information through Wikipedia, IMDB and even Google has made it weirdly easy to answer any pop culture question that occurs to us at absolutely any time. If the 1986 film "Labyrinth" came up at Christmas dinner, you could figure out who directed it with just a few taps on a smartphone. But in a world without Internet, that same question could keep you guessing, or arguing, all night long.

3. Deal hunting would become a sport again. We are drowning in a daily deluge of deals. Gilt Groupe, HauteLook, Groupon, Blackboard Eats — those are just a handful of sites that entice Internet users to save money by spending money on fancy local restaurants, Juicy Couture clothes, pricey sunglasses and spa treatments. But in a world without Internet, knowing which nail salon was giving 50 percent off a mani-pedi would take actual leg work. You'd have to really want it to find it.

4. Collecting would take effort. In today's world, deciding to start a collection of Art Deco jewelry, or mid-century pottery, or tea pots, or door knobs or Persian rugs with animals in the design is as simple as going on EBay and forking over cash. But in a world without Internet these collector gems could be found only by combing through Goodwills and tag sales. Stinky, time consuming and frequently unrewarding work.

5. You'd hear a lot fewer Apple rumors. In an online news cycle that demands constant updating, unsubstantiated rumors that Apple's next iPad might have better resolution than its last iPad is considered a major news story. In a world in which we had to typeset our stories by hand, pay for the paper they were printed on and the ink that they were printed with, well…you'd probably hear only about one Apple rumor a week.

ALSO:

Solar storms may cause dropped calls on cellphones

Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

Google plans to merge more user data across its products

– Deborah Netburn


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Apple earnings: $97.6 billion in the bank, and other highlights

posted by Technology @ 5:21 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Apple Store, San Francisco

Apple just reported its best quarter of all time, as covered by my colleague David Sarno here on the Technology blog.

The Cupertino tech giant reported a boost in sales of iPads, iPhones and Mac computers (but not iPods), pushing it into a record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion and $13 billion in profit for the first quarter of the company's 2012 fiscal year.

Let's take a closer look at Apple's huge numbers for the quarter ended Dec. 31, which showed strong holiday sales and sent shares in the company up 8% after the markets closed Tuesday.

Cash balance — One major number to note from Apple's earnings report, as mentioned in its earnings call, is that the company has a cash balance of $97.6 billion, up from $81 billion a year ago.

That's a massive amount to be sitting in the bank and it's a sum Apple will spend in part on developing new products that will help it remain competitive against rivals such as Samsung, Sony, HTC and Motorola.

Revenue — Apple racked up $46.33 billion in sales in the 14-week quarter, which is up from $26.74 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Profit — The tech giant reported a $13-billion profit last quarter, which is more than double the profit the company reported for its first fiscal quarter of 2011.

IPhones — Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011, which marks 128% growth from a year earlier, when the company sold 16.25 million iPhones.

IPads — Sales of the ever-popular Apple tablet grew 111% when compared to the year-earlier quarter, with 15.43 million iPads sold for the company's fiscal 2012 first quarter  versus 7.33 million iPads sold in the first quarter of 2011.

IPods — The iPod isn't dead yet, but it is on the decline. Apple sold 15.4 million iPods last quarter, down 21% from 19.45 million iPods sold a year earlier.

Mac computers — Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop PCs — which includes MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Minis and the Mac Pro — saw a 26% increase in sales from the year-ago quarter, with 5.2 million Macs sold in the first fiscal quarter of 2012 and 4.13 million Macs sold in the first fiscal quarter of 2011.

"Portables," which would include the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, made up the majority of Macs purchased, with 3.71 million units sold last quarter, up from 2.9 million sold a year ago. Apple sold 1.48 million desktops last quarter, up from 1.23 million sold a year earlier.

Looking ahead, Apple said Tuesday that it is projecting it will record about $32.5 billion in revenue in the second quarter of its fiscal year.

[Updated: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Apple's profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year was $6 billion. Apple reported a $13 billion profit last quarter and recorded $6 billion in profit a year earlier.]

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple Store in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

posted by Technology @ 3:27 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Apple exec Philip Schiller

Apple Inc. is selling a whole lot of just about every product it makes — and investors are loving it.

The company's stock shot up more than 8% after it announced that the holiday quarter was its best ever, with revenue and profit setting all-time records. Apple sold more iPhones, iPads and Mac computers than in any three-month period in its history.

The company smashed Wall Street projections with revenue of $46.33 billion in the three-month period ended Dec. 31, more than $7 billion more than analysts had expected and a 74% increase over its quarterly revenue from a year earlier. Profit was just as strong: Apple's $13.06 billion in earnings beat analysts' expectations by $3 billion, and the number more than doubled from the same quarter a year earlier.  

"They just demolished it," said analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. "Everyone thought they were too big — that there was too much information out there and they couldn't pull off a surprise like this, but boy did they ever."

Apple's bestselling product continued to be its iPhone. The company sold 37.04 million of the devices, by far eclipsing its iPhone sales record of 20.3 million set in the April to June quarter. It also took a leap forward with its iPad, selling 15.43 million units of the tablet computer — more than 4 million more than it had sold last quarter in its previous quarter. Apple sold 5.2 million Mac computers, beating its mark of 4.9 million, also set last quarter.

“We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook in a statement. “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."

Analysts expect that Apple will have a strong year of new products, possibly announcing a new iPad in March, a newly redesigned iPhone during the summer and potentially an Apple-branded television set later in the year.

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– David Sarno

Photo: Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, discusses a new textbook initiative in New York last week. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

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Apple loses bid to ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Netherlands

posted by Technology @ 11:42 AM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
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For the second time, a Netherlands court has denied Apple its request for a ban on sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, whose design Apple says illegally copies the iPad's.

The Samsung victory, first reported on the blog Foss Patents run by patent expert Florian Mueller, came Tuesday in The Hague, where an appeals court ruled that the Samsung device — which runs on Google's Android operating system – doesn't steal from the iPad's patented design.

The Dutch court's decision, which upheld a lower-court ruling made in August, is another setback for Apple in its worldwide patent battle against South Korea-based Samsung.

Last month, a U.S. district court in San Jose denied Apple's request for a ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 before a July trial on Apple's lawsuit in that court. Also in December, a temporary ban on the Samsung tablet in Australia expired. The dispute is set to go to trial in Australia in March.

Apple last week filed two new patent suits against Samsung in Germany, seeking a ban on 10 Samsung phones and five tablets.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple iPad 2, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a store in the Netherlands. Credit: Robert Vos / EPA

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Kindle-stack

Remember when seeing an iPad on a bus, an airplane or the subway was a startling new experience?  Now you might be startled not to see one.

Over the holidays, so many people bought tablets for each other (and, presumably, themselves), that U.S. tablet ownership nearly doubled among adults, to 19% in January from 10% a month earlier.  The rate is growing quickly: In May 2010, shortly after the debut of the iPad, only about 3% of consumers over age 16 owned tablets, according to survey information from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey found a similar jump in e-reader ownership, as prices dropped below $100 for electronic book readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Nearly 20% of U.S. adults now own an e-reader, up from 10% in November.

Tablet and e-reader adoption continues to grow quickly just as sales of traditional personal computers slow and even decline.  In the U.S., PC sales last year had their worst year since 2001, dropping nearly 5% compared with 2010, according to research firm IDC.  Analysts and PC industry executives regularly cite the increasing popularity of tablets when talking about the slowing growth of the PC businesses.

According to the survey, tablet adoption is now the highest among wealthier and more educated buyers.  About 36% of those making more than $75,000 a year own a tablet computer, compared with about 16% of those making $30,000 to $50,000, although ownership rates in both groups appear to be growing quickly. The discrepancy is also substantial between college graduates, 31% of whom own tablets, and high school grads, at 15%.

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– David Sarno

Photo: Boxes of Kindle e-readers sit at an Amazon.com distribution center. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg.

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If you publish with iBooks Author, does Apple ‘own’ you?

posted by Technology @ 5:46 PM
Friday, January 20, 2012
Apple iBooks Author on an iMac, and an iBook on an iPad

This week Apple announced a new textbook App called iBooks 2, as well as iBooks Author, a new book publishing app that allows normal people with little to no coding know-how to create impressive ebooks complete with photo galleries, video, 3-D images and other super cool graphic elements. 

Nothing too controversial there, right? Wrong. By Thursday afternoon, tech bloggers began to complain  about a clause in iBook Author's End User Licence Agreement that restricts how resulting ebooks can be sold, and by Friday the torrent of anger reached a fever pitch.

Here's the offending statement as it appears in the iBooks Author "About" box: "IMPORTANT NOTE: If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple."

In other words, Apple invites you to use its publishing software to do some really cool stuff that most of us could never dream of doing on our own, all for free. Just know that if you decide to sell what you've made, Apple will most likely get a cut of the profits.

Whether this is an unprecedented and gross abuse of power on Apple's part, or simply the company's way of making money off its new software, has been a hot topic of debate in the blogosphere.

In a scathing story headlined "iBooks Author: You Work For Apple Now," PCmag.com's Sascha Segan expressed his outrage over the clause in no uncertain terms.

"With iBooks Author, Apple just made a hideous play to kill authors' rights over their work," he writes. Adding later, "Apple owns the creative process of anyone who uses the tool. If you're looking to create an iBook, you've just given Apple total distribution control over your work. That's as good as partial ownership."

But Paul Carr, writing on the blog PandoDaily.com came to Apple's defense. Sort of. "Apple has released iBooks Author for free with one goal — to get more books into the iBooks store," he writes. "By taking a cut from all of the paid-for books produced in that way, they stand to make more than enough money to justify giving away the tools involved."

He adds that we are of course free to boycott Apple's new software if we don't like the terms of its agreement. "There are a hundred other ways to produce ebooks, and there are a half dozen other platforms on which to sell them. Pick one," he writes. "But we won’t. We’ll pick Apple, and we’ll like it. Because this is Apple, and that’s what we do."

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– Deborah Netburn

Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook on an iPad. Credit: Apple

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Apple's new iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U apps are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing

NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.

The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.

If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget — provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.

Apple has even built into iBook Author HTML5 and Javascript support for programmers looking to take their books beyond what the app can do itself; multi-touch interactions for pinch and zoom views of photos and swiping gestures are also included.

Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.

The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible — whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.

According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."

Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt … but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."

In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.

But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.

On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools — though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.

Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.

Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.

In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).

"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.

The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.

Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.

Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.

Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.

In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.

For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.

First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet — maybe someday a TV — what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.

iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple

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Apple says iBooks 2 app reinvents textbooks

posted by Technology @ 10:16 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Textbooks for sale in iBooks 2 on an Apple iPad

Apple promised to reinvent the textbook and offer a new experience for students and teachers by way of an update to its iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch on Thursday.

The app update — which Apple is calling iBooks 2 and is already released to the iOS App Store — will allow for textbooks to be sold through the popular app, which in the past sold novels, nonfiction and poetry, but not textbooks.

All textbooks sold through the free app, which is available only to Apple's i-devices, will be priced at $14.99 or less — a stark contrast to the high-priced paper books that fill college bookstores.

But the main allure might not be the price as much as the interactive features iBooks textbooks can offer.

Apple, which announced the iBooks update at a press event in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, said the iBooks textbook exceeds paper texts in terms of engagement, calling it a durable, quickly searchable book that offers easy highlighting and note-taking  as well as interactive photo galleries, videos, and 3-D models and diagrams.

Digital textbooks can also offer immediate feedback with questionnaires at the end of chapters and automatically create flash cards of glossary terms for a student to study.

Apple said the move makes sense given that more that 1.5 million iPads are used in schools. "Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. 

One thing not mentioned by Apple on Thursday was any sort of program that would offer iPads at a discount to students, teachers or schools.

Apple also said there are more than 20,000 education-focused apps available in the iOS App Store.

The tech giant has enlisted the heavyweights of textbook publishing — Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — to sell textbooks through iBooks 2. Combined, the three companies make 90% of textbooks sold in the U.S. Smaller publishers such as DK and the EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation will be publishing to iBooks 2 as well. 

Just as iBooks does with other types of books, textbooks will offer a free preview of a few pages or even a chapter before a purchase is made.

EO Wilson is also publishing a new book through iBooks 2 called Life on Earth, and the first two chapters of the new title will be free with more chapters coming as they are written.

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Apple iPad 3: Launching in February, March, or later?

'The Numberlys' app for the iPad: Storytelling of the future

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

twitter.com/nateog

Image: Textbooks for sale in iBooks 2 on an Apple iPad. Credit: Apple

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Apple iPad 3: Launching in February, March, or later?

posted by Technology @ 5:01 PM
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Apple iPad 2

Apple rumors — they seem to work readers, writers and editors up into a frenzy producing an echo of reports around the Internet. These blips of salacious speculation seem to spawn anew multiple times each week and, from time to time, they also fail to line up with one another, instead butting heads in contradiction.

The latest example of such conflicting rumors is the recent reports published on the pending release of what the tech media has dubbed the "iPad 3," Apple's eventual follow-up tablet to the hugely successful iPad 2 of 2011 and first-generation iPad released in 2010.

Late last week, as many tech reporters were hustling to keep up with wacky gadgets and the evolutionary advancement of TVs, smartphones and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Bloomberg News reported that Apple's next iPad would go on sale in March with 4G LTE connectivity (the first two iPads have Wi-Fi or 3G), a faster processor and a higher resolution touch screen.

Bloomberg didn't mention when it believed Apple would unveil the iPad 3, in its report, which cited three anonymous sources that reportedly have knowledge of Apple's plans.

Aside from the March-debut nugget of information, the rumored iPad 3 specs have been reported and re-reported countless times since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2 on March 2, 2011, ahead of the tablet hitting U.S. stores on March 11, 2011.

On Tuesday, the Japanese website Mackotakara reported that the unveiling of a so-called iPad 3 along with an update to Apple's iOS 5 operating system would take place in February. According to PCMag and Apple Insider, Mackotakara cited an unnamed Asian supplier and an anonymous source in the U.S. for its report.

So, do the Bloomberg and Mackotakara reports line up or contradict? When is the iPad 3 coming — February or March?

In all likelihood, only Apply really knows when it will launch its next iPad. And Apple, which is known to reschedule its events and product launches up to the last minute, isn't saying. The company never comments on speculation about its product launches.

But it could be that both Mackotakara and Bloomberg are right? Maybe (and yes, I'm speculating here) the iPad 3 will be unveiled in February and go on sale in March?

Apple introduced the original iPad on Jan. 27, 2010, but it didn't go on sale until April 3, 2010.

Complicating matters is the Taiwanese website DigiTimes (which has a reputation for publishing inaccurate tech rumors). The DigiTimes has reported that the iPad 3 would be released sometime this month — but the site has also said its unnamed sources have also said the iPad 3 may arrive in March or April.

Well, here's one thing you can count on: Whenever Apple's next iPad is released, the Technology blog (and the much of the tech reporting world) will have plenty of coverage of the eagerly anticipated new tablet.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Apple iPad 2. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles / Los Angeles Times

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‘The Numberlys’ app for the iPad: Storytelling of the future

posted by Technology @ 9:00 AM
Saturday, January 14, 2012

IPad owners, get psyched: The creative people over at Moonbot Studios have just released "The Numberlys," a new iPad and iPhone app that is not quite a movie, not quite a book and not quite a game — although it includes elements of all three.

One might describe it as one of the few storytelling apps that takes into account the iPad's unique functionality.

"The Numberlys " is set in a black-and-white world inspired in part by Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," where only numbers exist until five little guys decide to create the alphabet by transforming numbers into letters. To do this they jump on them, spin them, smash them and pull them apart using various tools.

And you — the reader? the player? — have to help them.

Savvy iPad owners may know Moonbot Studios as the creators of "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," a magical story app that appeared on many top 10 app lists of 2011.

The creative studio, which was co-founded by artist, director and former Pixar employee William Joyce, has been open just a year and a half, but has already established a reputation for excellence. The studio's first project, the short-film version of "Morris Lessmore," just made it on the short list for the Oscars.

I spoke this week with Lampton Enochs and Brandon Oldenburg, two of the three partners in Moonbot Studios, about the company's process and the future of storytelling on the iPad.

Question: So, you guys make movies, paper books, iPad apps. How do you describe what it is that you do?

Enochs: We think of ourselves as a storytelling outfit. We try to generate our own internal projects half the time and the other half of the time we want to work on collaborative projects with outside parties.

Oldenburg: Part of our mission here is to bring the future that never was back to the forefront. There is a sort of retro nostalgic vibe to our company that is rooted in science fiction. We've all grown up reading about all this wonderful fantastic stuff, and then it doesn't come to fruition. We want to bring it to fruition.

Q: The iPad is so new. What is it like working in such uncharted territory?

Oldenburg: It harkens back to the early days of film. It's still very Wild West and experimental right now and it is really exciting.

Enochs: The first movies were a locomotive and a guy running and that was it, and everyone was thrilled. We are still a little bit in that stage, I'm sure.

Q: I imagine there must be tensions between what the creative types think is best for the story and what the programmers say can actually be done. How do you work that out?

Oldenburg: Definitely when you work with scientists, and I'm calling our programmers scientists, everyone has to be open-minded. When you are in a creative brainstorming session you want to go, "yes — and." A lot of times our programmers can seem grumpy, but keeping them engaged in the conversation from the get-go allows you to see what the actual possibilities are.

Q: You've translated "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" into a film, an iPad app  and a physical book (not yet released). What do you think about when you tell a story in a different medium?

Oldenburg: It is very important that every time we take one of our stories from an iPad to a book that it is not the same experience regurgitated now on a printed page. We look at things from a kid's logic standpoint. I remember being a kid and seeing a movie and then buying the game for the movie and it was always a letdown. It never lived up to the movie. Kids can smell merch. We don't ever want to create merch. 

Q: Have there been any apps that inspire you guys?

Oldenburg: I heard about an album that you can only listen to when you are in Central Park, and it knows if you are there because of GPS, and it would play differently depending on where you walked so nobody would ever hear the exact same album as anyone else. I thought — how beautiful is that.

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 – Deborah Netburn

Video: The Numberlys App Teaser from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

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As General Motors introduced its first efforts to bring apps from your smartphone into your dashboard at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Ford expanded its Sync AppLink system — which does just that and launched about a year ago.

Ford Sync Destinations

When AppLink made its debut, Pandora was the only app a Sync user could operate via in-dash touch screen. Later, Stitcher radio gained Sync compatibility, which includes voice control as well.

Ford announced at CES in Las Vegas this week that apps for iPhones, BlackBerrys and phones that Google's Android would be added to the AppLink-friendly list, including NPR News, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and Ford's own Sync Destinations turn-by-turn navigation app.

To see NPR News and Slacker Radio in action in a new Ford Mustang GT, check out our video from CES above.

Ford says that more apps that work with Sync's voice recogniton software are on the way. Oddly enough, Sync (which was developed through a partnership between Ford and Microsoft) has no AppLink compatibility with Windows Phone apps.

Just as with GM's in-car-app systems — Chevrolet MyLink and Cadillac CUE — AppLink can use apps only if it’s connected to a smartphone with the app installed, and it accesses data through the phone. Ford isn't selling any AppLink data plans.

For now, AppLink is available only in Sync-equipped Fiestas, Mustangs, Fusions, F-150s and Econoline vans, but the U.S. automaker is considering pushing AppLink out to other Ford brands, such as Lincoln, as well as to vehicles running older versions of Sync.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of Ford's Sync Destinations app. Credit: Ford

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Be careful what you write — your iPad will be watching

posted by Technology @ 3:19 PM
Friday, January 13, 2012

Photo Jan 11, 11 16 55 AM

Some of us just love to write on paper — even those devoted to digital devices.

As addicted as I am to tech, I'm an analog paper hog, with drawer after drawer filled with notebooks, notepads and empty journals. No matter how quick or proficient I get at tapping on my virtual keyboards, I'm not really a "screen writer." I still prefer to physically write to help me remember.

And my notepads and my tech tools never connect — unless I shoot a photo of what's on paper.

Targus plans to marry writing and technology on a new device, iNotebook, around June or July to let you write on regular paper and transfer what you've written onto your iPad. It's expected to cost $150.

The iNotebook itself really is the combination of an iPad app, the case, a transmitter/recorder and a special pen that connects with it.

How it works is that the transmitter sits above the page and watches you write with the special pen via infrared sensor and records what you write. Then through the app and a Bluetooth connection with your iPad, it shoots over your words — or doodles — in your very own hand almost simultaneously.

The downside: There's no optical character recognition. So what you write is what you get. As a result, there may be no visual character recognition either, depending on your handwriting.

Indeed, when Targus' marketing vice president Al Giazzon used it, he said the result was "exactly as bad as my handwriting is." Accuracy in motion. (If this takes off, we might see what a detrimental effect our ubiquitous typing and and tapping has had on penmanship.)

On the plus side for those of us still juggling iPads and notepads, you don't actually have to pull out your tablet from your bag unless you want to watch the near-instant transfer of your noodling and doodling. And really, you don't even have to have the iPad on hand. The small transmitter can store up what you've written in its memory buffer for transfer later.

"You would have to write a manuscript to fill the buffer," Giazzon said.

Targus expects to release a black leather portfolio first with plans to expand the color palette later. The special IR ink pen will have an iPad stylus on the other end. The photo above is a prototype, with style and usability tweaks to come from focus groups and designers over the next few months, Giazzon said.

Who's the target for iNotebook? Targus expects interest in the school and business markets — "Anywhere where writing is fast," Giazzon said.
 
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China’s iPhone mob tops list of consumers going crazy

posted by Technology @ 2:55 PM
Friday, January 13, 2012

Near riot at Apple store in China

A riot over iPhones? It may sound extreme, but an angry mob pelted a Beijing Apple store with eggs Friday after Apple announced that it would halt the release of its iPhone 4S at retail stores in China.

Apple said shuttering the stores was necessary to protect its employees and customers from the unruly crowds, many of them scalpers, that had started assembling outside the night before the phone's release.

It's a sad fact of human nature that the drive to get our hands on gadgets and gear has the power to make us act completely insane. Remember the Wal-Mart customer who nailed 20 other shoppers with pepper spray on Black Friday 2011?

And some products are more likely to inspire a frenzy than others.

So join us in a trip down memory lane, where we examine the release of three products that, like the iPhone, have displayed the power to make people act crazy.

1. Air Jordans: You sneaker heads and your Air Jordans. Back in the '80s, when the shoes were first released, suburban kids were told not to wear the pricey basketball shoes in certain neighborhoods for fear they would be mugged for a pair of sneakers. Thirty years later, the shoes have lost none of their potency. When Nike released its much-anticipated Nike Air Jordan XI Concord ($180) in late December, there were reports of violence and mayhem all across the country as customers fought with fists, knives and guns to keep a coveted spot in the front of the line.

2. The iPad2: Beyond inspiring people to wait on absurdly long lines, even in unpleasant weather conditions, the release of the iPad 2 also inspired some violence. In New York City police were summoned to an Apple store in Manhattan to break up angry crowds who thought scalpers were keeping them from getting an iPad of their own. And Apple was forced to close one of its Beijing stores after an Apple employee reportedly tried to forcefully stop people from cutting in line the day after Apple's iPad 2 release in China. A near-riot ensued, which ended in a smashed storefront window and four people being rushed to the hospital.

3. Tickle-Me-Elmo: The Tickle-Me-Elmo craze of the late '90s was a dark time for parents. Responsible adult behavior went right out the window as moms and dads became violent in their attempts to get the toy for their children. In one notorious incident a Wal-Mart worker was knocked unconscious by a gang of 300 parents who happened to spot him unloading the toy onto shelves.

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Photo: People line up outside an Apple store waiting to buy the newly launched iPhone 4S in Beijing on Jan. 13. Credit: Diego Azubel / EPA

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Ion Guitar Apprentice turns aspiring guitar heroes into students

posted by Technology @ 8:14 PM
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pick. Thrash. Wail. Let out your inner Jimmy Page, Jack White or Yngwie Malmsteen — with an iPad.

The Guitar Apprentice app and controller from Ion Audio, which we looked at during the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, aims to help students learn the basics of playing guitar before they drop some cash on a full guitar and amp setup. Although playing iPad guitar isn't as sexy as the real thing, this might reduce the number of Squier Strats and practice amps languishing in the closets of frustrated students who never pegged down barre chords.

The Guitar Appretice controller has a fret board.

The most obvious comparison is with the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games, but Guitar Apprentice offers a more complex setup than the video game controllers, with buttons simulating the six strings on each of 14 frets on the neck, in a body similar to the classic Gibson SG. LEDs on the frets light up to show basic note or chord patterns, and students strum or pick simulated strings on the iPad screen. Effects such as delay, reverb and flanger are also available to customize distortion effects.

VIDEOS: 2012 Consumer Electronics Show

Guitar Apprentice is one in a series of music learning app-and-controller sets from Ion Audio, which also includes Piano Apprentice and Drum Apprentice, as well as Drum Master, which comes with a full-size electric drum kit. The plastic instruments connect to the iPad, and each shows students where or how to play, lighting up frets, piano keys or drum pads as appropriate. Teachers also appear on the apps to present basic lessons to users.

Apps are Core MIDI, which enables integration with other music apps such as GarageBand. The app and controller, when released, are to have a retail price of $99.

Just keep in mind: Although the frets on the controller are designed to simulate fretting real guitar strings, it doesn't look like the app will alleviate the sore fingers students will have if they ever move up to a real guitar.

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Photo: The fret board on the Ion Guitar Appretice. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

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SuperShell gives iPad 2 protection in tiny hands

posted by Technology @ 6:27 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012




 

I recall before I had my baby the empathetic terror that shot through me as I watched my friend's child dragging her naked iPad by the power cable. It was story time. Great.

Now that I have my own child, enamored with all of my (expensive) tech toyM-Edge Supershell case for kidss and tools, the terror is all the more real. Keeping these tools away from their quick but not-yet-agile hands is quite a task. And sometimes, technology can be a great teaching tool.

M-Edge, the maker of cases for today's most popular handheld devices, has a case they say can withstand the rough treatment an iPad can get in the hands of kids and toddlers. We took a look at it at CES in Las Vegas.

VIDEOS: 2012 Consumer Electronics Show

The SuperShell is a super lightweight case made of closed-cell foam that's easy to grip, doesn't slip out of small hands and, if it does, will bounce back, almost literally, after a fall.

We watched the representatives toss the encased iPad 2 on the floor several times without damaging the tablet. (Check out the video above.)

Granted, if your kid takes his toy drumstick to the screen, it's not going to be protected here.

But if you've got a droolly teether, the case may even take an actual licking and still keep ticking.

Parent reviews on Amazon say the $30 bright lime-green color makes it easier to find the iPad after your child drops it like a hot potato and moves on to the next thing.

You can still access the front and back cameras of the iPad 2, its ports, speaker and most of the buttons. The volume buttons are covered, but then again do you really want little Chris or Christy blasting the repetitive music of kid-friendly apps?

Coming this year are SuperShell cases for iPhone and Kindle Fire.

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Image: SuperShell case for iPad 2. Credit: M-Edge

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Play arcade games on your iPad — with a joystick

posted by Technology @ 7:09 AM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's all fun and games for one company at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

Seattle's Discovery Bay Games wanted to combine the modern iPad with the old-school arcade experience to give gamers the best of both worlds. The end result: Atari Arcade, a $60 console featuring a joystick and four push buttons that connects with an iPad or iPad 2, enabling users to play classic games such as Centipede, Pong and Asteroids using the tablet as a screen but the console as the controls. 

"I think what people were missing was that real tactile experience of having the joystick and the buttons, because on the touchscreen you kind of lose the feeling," Discovery Bay Games spokeswoman Natalie Dent said. The tech and gaming company was giving demos of the device Monday at Digital Experience, a consumer electronics media event held in Las Vegas the night before the official opening of CES. 

Created through a partnership with Apple and Atari, the Atari Arcade was released at Target, Toys R Us and Apple stores during the holiday season last year and was a bestseller for Discovery Bay Games, Dent said. 

Consumers who buy the device have to download the Atari Greatest Hits app to their tablets to play the games; $9.99 gets you 99 classic arcade games.

Discovery Bay Games also released two other iPad-compatible devices, which the company calls "appcessories" on its website, over the holidays: the Duo Pop, a set of remote "poppers" (they look a bit like asthma inhalers) that operate as wireless game buzzers; and Duo Plink, a device geared toward younger children that sits on top of an iPad and acts as a scoring machine.

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Apple looms large over the Consumer Electronics Show

posted by Technology @ 5:12 PM
Monday, January 9, 2012

Lg-tv
At the Consumer Electronics Show, models carried around wireless flat-screen TVs playing vivid nature films, executives waved next generation “magic” remote controls and audiences were treated to demonstrations of massive, wall-size TVs.
 
Also, Apple’s stock hit a record high.
 
Though the Cupertino, Calif., iPhone giant doesn’t attend the show, rumors are spreading that it has its own TV in the works, and analysts say established TV companies like Samsung Electronics, LG  and Sony are struggling to make their TVs more user-friendly and better able to find music, movies and online video from across the Internet.
 
“The TV hasn’t gone quite through the big revolutionary change that we’ve seen on those other screens,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee. “These other players are trying to jockey for position ahead of Apple.”
 
But with industry observers expecting an “iTV” from Apple that will turn the industry on its head, not all observers were impressed with the latest TV improvements.
 
“They’re just throwing spaghetti up against the wall right now,” said Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. “I think Apple’s going to force a big change in the industry  — and it’s hard for the companies to respond when they don’t know what iTV looks like yet.”
 
At the CES on Monday, LG showed off its “Magic Remote,” a device with few buttons that resembles a Nintendo Wii controller –- enabling the viewer to point at and select different images and buttons on the screen.

Sharp’s Aquos Freestyle flat-screens get their signal wirelessly, and as the models demonstrated by parading them down the showroom runway, they are light enough to be carried around the home, whether to the balcony, the kitchen or the powder room.
 
Samsung showed off a new line of smarter televisions with a suite of games and Web applications built in.  The company, a major rival of Apple's in both the smartphone and tablet sectors, did hint at a gesture and voice control system for its upcoming TVs, but did not show those features in action. 
 
Vizio Inc. unveiled three new high-definition sets that feature Google TV, the search-giant’s TV navigation software that will also run on TVs from Samsung Electronics and LG, and which comes with dozens of built-in apps that users can use on-screen to fetch sports scores, watch movies and play games.
 
Meanwhile, Google has had trouble getting its Google TV software to take off.  Launched on a small number of devices last year, the product was coolly received by reviewers and failed to gain wide traction with consumers.

Logitech Inc., which made one of the original Google TV set-top boxes, discontinued the device in November, calling it a “big mistake.” 

Still, Google has recruited a new cast of the biggest TV makers — Samsung, LG and Vizio — to test the waters with a suite of Google–powered TV sets.

“The manufacturers have no choice but to turn to Google because there’s no one else,” Misek said.  But until Google can make its phones, tablets, and personal computers all talk to each other, the way Apple’s do,  Google and its TV partners “won’t be able to catch up.”

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Photo: LG Electronics televisions on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images

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Apple iOS 5.1 beta code hints at quad-core iPad, iPhone

posted by Technology @ 8:23 PM
Friday, January 6, 2012

Apple iPad displays an ebook.

Rumors of a new quad-core "A6" processor for Apple's next iPad and iPhone have been circulating for months, and on Friday a bit of information came to light that will fuel the speculation.

The code for Apple's iOS 5.1 beta operating system, which developers can access for testing before the software is released to the public, hints at compatibility with quad-core CPUs, according to a report on the website 9to5Mac.

The report — by Mark Gurman, who has also delved into a bit of iOS app development — says iOS 5.1 beta describes three different processor variations, making reference to "/cores/core.3," as well as "/cores/core.0," which identifies a single-core CPU, and "/cores/core.1," which identifies a dual-core processor.

Based on Apple's naming convention so far, Gurman says, ".cores/core.3" would refer to a quad-core chip. The speculation is that such a quad-core processor would be called the A6 and be used in the expected iPad 3, following Apple's dual-core A5 (used in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S) and single-core A4 (used in the first-generation iPad and the iPhone 4).

"Apple leaving references to quad-core chips in the iOS 5.1 beta is notable because iOS 5.1 is the software currently being tested against the third-generation iPad," Gurman wrote. "We cannot conclude that due to iOS 5.1 including quad-core processor references, Apple's next-generation iPad and iPhone will include a quad-core chip, but it seems reasonable based on Apple starting with a single-core chip in 2010 and moving to dual-core in 2011. A quad-core chip in 2012 would fit the pattern."

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Photo: Reading on a first-generation Apple iPad. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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Apple iPad 3 rumors: From feasible to far-fetched

posted by Technology @ 10:17 AM
Thursday, January 5, 2012

Apple iPad 2

When it comes to rumors, Apple is currently unmatched by any other consumer electronics brand in the amount of hype and speculations its products generate.

And it can be argued that the iPad and iPhone are the top devices when it comes to spawning Apple rumors, many of them never panning out to be true and many conflicting with one another along the way — no wonder Apple always declines to comment on speculation.

With the iPhone 4S now a few months old and a next-generation iPhone (rumored to be called the iPhone 5) not expected until later this year, most of the hype over the last few months has been focused on the expected iPad 3 and the possible iTV project underway.

Here's a rundown of the current iPad 3 rumors that have been popping up around the Web recently:

Retina display

The longest standing rumor about the next iPad, which many believe will be called the iPad 3, is that it will feature a high-resolution screen that will put the tablet on par with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S' retina display.

So, what's a retina display? That would be any screen that has a dpi (dots per inch, which is a measure of how many pixels can fit in a square inch) of 300 or greater. The name retina display is used because such a dense screen should allow pixels to be indistinguishable from each other to the human eye at a distance of about 10 to 12 inches away.

The first-generation iPad and the iPad 2 both feature a 1,024-by-768 pixel resolution touchscreen. In August, the Wall Street Journal reported the rumor that the iPad 3 would have twice the resolution of the first two models, upping the ante to 2,048-by-1,536 pixels with a 326 dpi.

It should be noted that the iPad 2 was, before its launch, at one time rumored to be outfitted with a retina display as well, but that didn't pan out.

Industry analysts have gone on to make the retina display prediction for the iPad 3 as well. Of the rumors out there, this one might make the most sense for Apple as its rivals are releasing tablets with higher resolution screens and the retina display on the iPhone 4 and 4S has been met with widespread approval by critics and consumers.

One screen size or two?

Another widespread rumor has been that the next iPad would be offered in not just one screen size, but possibly two sizes with the current 9.7-inch being complemented by a new, smaller model. That smaller iPad has been rumored to have a screen of a few different sizes, but a persistent rumor is that 7 inches would be the choice.

This is an idea that has also been shot down by a number of analysts and tech pundits and the late Steve Jobs shot down the idea of a 7-inch iPad as well, stating that, at that size, "the screen is too small to express the software," as reported by the website AppleInsider.

Quad-core A6 processor

The first-generation iPad ran on Apple's 1-gigahertz, single-core A4 processor. The second-generation iPad ran on a 1-gigahertz, dual-core A5 processor. The iPad 3 is rumored to included a new CPU that is expected to be called the A6.

What the A6 chip's clock speed and core count could be depends on what piece of speculation you're reading, but most reports point to the A6 as being a quad-core processor.

The A4 and A5 were built by Samsung and that isn't expected to change (despite Apple and Samsung's ongoing patent battle), though there are reports that A6 production might take place in Austin, Texas.

4G LTE

The first two iPads were either available in Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and 3G models. So far, each of the five generations of iPhones produced by Apple have all been 3G phones as well. But much of the mobile world is moving over to 4G networks.

Verizon's 4G LTE network has been up and running for about a year. AT&T is just getting started with its 4G LTE network and Sprint's network is under development with T-Mobile's 4G LTE service in planning stages.

The iPad 2 is currently only available in its 3G variation with AT&T and Verizon service. Rumors as to a Sprint-compatible iPad are circulating, as are rumors that the iPad 3 will connect to 4G LTE networks.

The tech news website CNET has reported that the iPad 3 might make use of Qualcomm's LTE Gobi 4000 chip and as noted by Wired in an iPad rumor roundup of its own, Qualcomm 3G chips are used in Apple's iPhones.

Release date

So, when will the iPad 3 (or whatever the next iPad will be called) actually make its debut and arrive in stores? That, like everything else, is up for debate.

Apple, so far, hasn't said anything about the next iPad, but usually the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant releases its products on something resembling an annual cycle. The first-generation iPad arrived in U.S. stores on April 3, 2010. The iPad 2 hit U.S. stores on March 11, 2011, not quite a year later.

Going off of the release dates of the iPad 1 and 2, a good guess might be that the iPad 3 could arrive in this year in March or April. However, Apple runs on its own schedule, as evidenced by the iPhone 4S going on sale Oct. 14, 2011, when the iPhone 4 first hit U.S. stores on June 24, 2010.

The most recent rumor, originating with the often-inaccurate DigiTimes, was that the iPad 3 will arrive earlier than the first two iPads and have a January 2012 release date — a rumor that, while popular among tech writers, was shot down by the Apple-centric website the Loop. The DigiTimes had also previously reported rumors stating that the iPad 3 could arrive in March or April — conflicting its own reporting.

As noted by AppleInsider and an assessment of recent rumors by the Washington Post, there is also speculation that the iPad 3 could make its debut on Feb. 24, which would be Steve Jobs' birthday.

Of all the rumors that have made their way around the Web, the iPad 3 launching on Jobs' birthday as some sort of tribute to the deceased Apple leader seems to me to be the most far-fetched.

What do you think? Any of these rumors seem off-base or accurate by your guess? What rumors not listed above have you seen out there? Are there any features you may or may not have seen rumored that you'd like to see in a production iPad.

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Top photo: Media members look at Apple's iPad 2 after its unveiling at an event in San Francisco on March 2, 2011. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg

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iPhone 4S goes to China; Siri to start speaking Chinese in 2012

posted by Technology @ 12:24 PM
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Beijing couple check out an iPhone.

Siri, how do you say profit in Chinese?

One answer Apple's digital assistant might consider giving is: start selling the iPhone 4S in China. And starting on Jan. 13th, Apple will do just that.

The company said Wednesday that China will be among 22 countries that soon will get the newest iPhone, one of Apple's hottest-selling yet.  The iPhone now accounts for nearly half of Apple's annual revenue, and some analysts believe it earns the company more than 60% of its profits.

China is one of the world's largest mobile device markets, with close to a billion cellphone users by some estimates. Apple currently partners with China Unicom, one of the larger carriers with close to 200 million cellular subscribers.

Apple said Wednesday it had no current plans to announce a partnership with China Mobile, the country's largest carrier with more than 630 million subscribers (a user base that, somewhat amazingly, is more than twice the size of the U.S. population).  But for months now Apple has been rumored to be nailing down a deal with China Mobile, and millions of the carriers' customers are already using the iPhone by modifying the device to work on their network.

Will Siri actually be able to speak and understand Mandarin?  Eventually, yes.  An Apple spokesman said the company plans to add official language support in 2012 — and that will include Chinese.  But Siri won't yet be multilingual when the phone hits Chinese stores this month.

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Photo: A couple look at an iPhone in Beijing in November.  Credit: Diego Azubel / EPA

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Obama 2012 campaign joins Instagram on eve of Iowa caucuses

posted by Technology @ 10:14 AM
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Barack Obama's first photo on Instagram

As Republicans focused on the Iowa caucuses and President Barack Obama made a pitch to Iowans of his own over streaming video on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 reelection campaign took its message to Instagram.

The president's campaign staff, which is also looking to reach voters on Tumblr and Google+ (along with a few Republican rivals), has posted two photos thus far, both of the president speaking with Iowa's caucus voters via video chat, making his case for another term in the White House.

Although Instagram — a photo-sharing app known for retro filters that allows people to share photos with one another from their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads — is new territory for Obama, the move by his 2012 campaign shouldn't come as a surprise.

In the 2008 election, Obama's team was so well known for its use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to help build up an overwhelming amount of support that the Technology blog described Obama as "the first social media President." And over the last four years, the White House has made great use of the photo-sharing site Flickr.

Instagram, which has seen its more than 5-million users share more than 150-million photos, said in a company blog post that it is "excited to welcome President Barack Obama to Instagram" and that it looks "forward to seeing how President Obama uses Instagram to give folks a visual sense of what happens in the everyday life of the President of the United States."

The Obama 2012 campaign is also looking for supporters to share their photos with the @BarackObama Instagram account by tagging their photos with "#obama2012," Instagram said.

The company also made sure to point out that political coverage on Instagram has been on the rise over the last year as the 2012 presidential election gets closer.

"News organizations such as NBC News, ABC World News and the Washington Post have been sharing behind-the-scenes photos at debates and town hall meetings across the country, offering a unique look into the 2012 elections," Instagram said.

Among the most interesting photos shared so far by news organizations covering the election on Instagram would have to be Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker's shot of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney typing on his Apple iPad in an airport.

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Image: A screen shot of President Barack Obama's first Instagram photo. Credit: Obama 2012 / Instagram

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Apple design master Jonathan Ive awarded British knighthood

posted by Technology @ 8:48 PM
Friday, December 30, 2011

IveThat's Sir Jony Ive to you.

As of the new year Apple's head of design, Jonathan Ive, will be a knight of the British Empire. The London-born engineer has been the lead designer at Apple for more than 15 years and grew to become the "spiritual partner" of the company late co-founder Steve Jobs, according to Jobs himself.

The two collaborated on creating the look and feel of Apple's many successful consumer electronics products.

Reached by the BBC about the honor, Ive reportedly said it was "absolutely thrilling."

"I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the U.K. of designing and making," he said. "I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design."

As described in a Times profile earlier this year, Ive is responsible for the look of Apple's iPod music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet, all blockbuster products in their own categories.

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Photo: Jonathan Ive of Apple in Cupertino, Calif., in 2008.  Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

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Orangutans go ape for iPads, gorillas not so much

posted by Technology @ 2:05 PM
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Apps_for_apes

For the last six months, three orangutans at the Milwaukee County Zoo have had the pleasure of playing with a donated iPad a couple times a week, and guess what: They love it.

"We show them the iPad, and read them stories or let them have different apps," said Jan Rafert, curator of primates and small mammals at the zoo. "We don't let them hold them, but they can do some of the paint apps by sticking their fingers through the mesh."

The orangutan iPad program, known as Apps for Apes, was started after the gorilla keeper at the zoo mentioned on her Facebook page that she'd like to get some iPads for her gorillas to play with, Rafert explained. It was kind of a joke, but a zoo volunteer took it seriously and donated a used iPad to the zoo. It turned out that the gorillas didn't really enjoy the iPad — "they are more stoic," said Rafert — but the orangutans went wild.

Now the orangutans' keeper, Trish Khan, lets the orangutans play with the iPad about twice a week. The orangutans are not allowed to hold it because they are so strong that they would probably wind up cracking it in half. Khan holds it up to their cages and allows them to interact with it.

The orangutan conservation group Orangutan Outreach is now involved with the project and is hoping to get Apps for Apes started at other zoos. Richard Zimmerman, executive director of the group, said Zoo Atlanta, the Toronto Zoo and the Phoenix Zoo are just waiting to get iPads for their orangutans to play with. The Houston Zoo already has an iPad, but has not yet introduced it to the orangutans.

Once the other zoos are on board, Zimmerman said zookeepers will arrange primate playdates — where orangutans from different zoos can see each other via the iPad.

Nobody has done research on how orangutans interact with iPads, but Zimmerman said that may be coming soon. For now, the Apps for Apes program has two main goals: providing stimulation for orangutans who are easily bored when in captivity, and raising awareness for orangutan conservation in Malaysia and Indonesia where the animals are suffering declining numbers and loss of habitat.

"Seeing the animals with the iPad has had an effect on the zoo visitors," he said. "They have this recognition that these are amazing, cognitive, curious creatures, which gets back to our message, that these are animals that need to be saved."

If you have an old iPad you'd like to donate to the orangutans, you can contact Zimmerman at rich@redapes.org.

 

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Image and video: An orangutan at the Milwaukee County Zoo enjoys some iPad time. Credit: Orangutan Outreach

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CEO urges philanthropy in business, life

posted by By CAROLINE WONG @ 4:00 AM
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quy “Q” Nguyen is the chief executive of Allyance Communications Inc., an Irvine-based telecommunications firm entering its 10th year. Along with the traditional end-of-the-year company parties and gift-swapping, Nguyen also strives to infuse…

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Nearly 7 million Apple, Android devices light up on Christmas Day

posted by Technology @ 7:00 PM
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flurry_DeviceActivations_Xmas_vs_Dec1-20_Total-resized-600

Apple and Android mobile devices lit up like Christmas lights on Dec. 25 as people the world over pulled a smartphone from their stocking.

People fired up 6.8 million Apple and Android devices on Christmas Day, more than doubling the 2.5 million that they activated on the same day last year, according to Flurry Analytics, a mobile metrics firm that tracks activity from 140,000 apps. 

On the days leading up to Christmas, people activated about 1.5 million Apple and Android smartphones and tablets each day.

But on Christmas itself, activations shot up more than 350%, to 6.8 million.  (The report does not disclose whether Apple or Google-powered devices accounted for a larger share of that number). 

Perhaps a bit predictably, Christmas Day app downloads began to rocket up around 6 a.m., and remained high throughout the day until they hit a peak around 8 p.m. — that is, after dinner, when sated revelers can play with their new toys in earnest.  More than 15 million apps were downloaded between 7 and 9 p.m. alone, if you line up all the world's time zones.

The Flurry report notes that app downloads have shot up in 2011, with Apple users downloading close to 10 billion this year, as many as in the previous three years combined.  Google's Android devices have seen similarly rapid growth.

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Five ways to get started with your new iPad

posted by Technology @ 7:00 AM
Sunday, December 25, 2011

What do do with your new iPad

So, you got a new iPad for Christmas? Congratulations! You've totally been wanting one of those. But you also may be feeling overwhelmed. Your new iPad can be a digital recording studio, an alarm clock, and it can help you study for the Bar exam. So where is an iPad novice to begin?

Right here! We've put together a list of some our favorite iPad magazines, games, and books to help you get started with your new super-sleek super computer.

1. Get yourself some apps: Apple says it has over 140,000 apps in its store, and its adding more every day. That sounds like a lot to sift through, but do not panic. Trust in the wisdom of the masses and take a look at Apple's top-10 list of apps across various categories. Start by downloading a few free apps to see what you like. Some basic ones are Netflix, which lets you stream movies and TV shows right on your iPad, and Flipboard, which will arrange your Twitter and Facebook feeds in a magazine-style format.

2. Check out Apple Newsstand: The magazine publishing industry is hoping that tablets like the iPad will breathe new life into its faltering business, which is why major publishers like Conde Nast and Hearst are pouring resources into the iPad versions of their magazines, packing them full of photo galleries, how-to videos and animated spreads. Martha Stewart Living, Wired, Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker are all definitely worth looking into in iPad form. You'll find them all in the Newsstand app that is preloaded on your iPad.

3.Explore iBooks: This is another app that comes preloaded on the iPad. According to Apple, there are 700,000 titles in the store. Again, don't panic. Either search for a book you've been wanting to read or check out the best-seller lists if you don't know where to start. Publisher's Weekly just gave a great review to a poetry book app called Chasing Fireflies: A Haiku Collection. A lot of people love Penguin's Amplified ebook series version of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." Our three-year-old can't get enough of "The Monster at the End of This Book" and "Miss Spider's Tea Party."

4. Want to play games? You'll find a dizzying number of them in the app store, but here are a few suggestions from the L.A. Times tech desk to get you started: Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. And for those who want a real 3D game experience, tech blogger Nathan Olivarez-Giles says Infinity Blade is the best.

5. Talk to friends: We gave you a few places to start, but the easiest way to find great apps is to talk to people who already have an iPad and can tell you what they enjoy most.

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–Deborah Netburn

Image: A customer tries out the iPad 2 at the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York in March. Credit: Emmanuel Dunland / AFP/Getty Images.

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Amazon Kindle Fire software and Kindle iOS apps updated

posted by Technology @ 7:43 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire software updated
Amazon updated its Kindle Fire software and iPhone and iPad apps this week, adding new features all around.

For the Kindle Fire, Amazon's first tablet and a hot-selling item, the update promises to improve the responsiveness of touch navigation and the speed of actions on the device, such as loading webpages in the Fire's Web browser.

However, the biggest new feature might be the ability for users to edit what shows up in their "carousel" of recent apps and content displayed on the Fire's home screen.

Before the update, a Fire user couldn't remove any items — books they've read, games and music played, movies watched or websites visited — in their carousel.

The ability to remove items from the carousel was a highly requested feature and in this case, Amazon was pretty quick to deliver — the Fire was released Nov. 14.

The iOS Kindle app updates the user interface for periodicals and text books, with access to the same selection of more than 400 magazines and newspapers that are offered on the Fire, Amazon said in a statement.

For the first time, Amazon is also offering "print replica textbooks" to iOS Kindle app users, which allow for full-color pages and the ability to zoom in and out or take notes as needed, the company said.

And the update also now makes the Kindle iOS app a PDF reader as well, Amazon said, which will allow users to view their own documents — a feature offered by iBooks for some time now.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

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Apple supplier factory blast injures dozens, may hurt iPad supply

posted by Technology @ 1:16 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A factory explosion at an Apple supplier in China has left dozens injured and sparked concerns about whether iPad supply would be affected

A factory explosion at an Apple supplier in China has left dozens injured and sparked concerns about whether iPad supply would be affected.

The blast took place over the weekend at a Riteng Computer Accessory Co. factory, owned by Apple supplier Pegatron, in Shanghai's Songjiang district, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Chinese government is investigating the cause of the explosion and has ordered safety checks at the plant, the AP said.

Chinese media reported that 61 people were hurt in the explosion and that more than 20 had to be hospitalized, though none of the injuries were considered life-threatening, the AP said.

Apple officials were unavailable for comment on the explosion Tuesday, but company spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told the AP that "our hearts go out to the people who were hurt in Songjiang. We are working closely with Pegatron to understand the cause of this accident."

Pegatron told the AP in a statement that the blast was the result of "dust collection equipment."

Forbes magazine reported Tuesday that the explosion could produce shortages of Apple's big-selling iPad 2 tablet, noting that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this year and an explosion at Apple supplier Foxconn last year also resulted in difficulties for iPad production.

Apple has faced criticism in the past for troubles at its suppliers' factories. Foxconn, which also supplies products for many other top consumer electronics companies, has also recently dealt with employee suicides, prompting Apple's then-COO (and current CEO) Tim Cook to visit Chinese factories in person over workplace concerns.

The iPad, like many other Apple products, makes use of aluminum and, as the AP noted it its report, aluminum dust is "highly combustible."

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+
Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Apple iPad 2. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles / Los Angeles Times

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IPhone theft is growing problem in New York

posted by Technology @ 6:43 PM
Monday, December 19, 2011

New-york-city

IPhone users in New York, beware: According to recent media reports, the city is in the midst of a crime wave, and police say the problem could get worse.

The Daily News reports that nearly half the 16,000 robberies in the first 10 months of 2011 involved technological devices, and that iPhones account for over 70% of all stolen cellphones on subways and buses.

Oh no!

"Walking around with a cellphone is like walking around with a $500 bill," a police source told the New York Post. "Kids are stealing them and flipping them immediately."

In the age of Yelp, downloadable subway and street maps, and the "I'm-running-20-minutes-late" phone call, it's hard to imagine how one would survive in New York without constant smartphone use, but police are suggesting that New Yorkers and those who visit the city do their best to keep their phones tucked away in their pockets as much as possible.

The police are also going after the people who are stealing the phones and those who are knowingly buying stolen phones.

In a recent sting operation, the NYPD nailed 141 merchants — mostly people who work at bodegas, barber shops and newsstands — for buying what they thought were stolen iPhones and iPads, according to the New York Post.

The police and Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York have expressed annoyance that cellphone carriers make it possible for stolen phones to be used even after they are stolen. They say they would like to see phone carriers create a single database that would store each device's identification number and has the technology to disable stolen devices. In the current system, carriers may shut off service to a stolen phone, but thieves that have access to different SIM cards can still use the phone.

If your iPhone is stolen, you can attempt to find it through iCloud's  "find my iPhone" button. If you click on the button, the location of your iPhone will show up on a map. Of course, that will only work if your iPhone is still on, and most savvy thieves will probably have already turned the iPhone off.

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– Deborah Netburn

Photo: The Empire State building and the Manhattan skyline are seen from the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP.

 

 

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Satellite images: Samsung’s Apple factory in Austin?

posted by Technology @ 9:43 AM
Friday, December 16, 2011

Samsung-austin

Samsung Electronics is making Apple chips in Texas.

That's according to a Reuters report noting that, perhaps a bit surprisingly, the Korean electronics giant –  also a major smartphone rival of Apple — is producing the sophisticated A5 processing chip that lies at the heart of Apple's iPhone 4S and iPad 2 devices.

The factory complex in Austin, called Samsung Austin Semiconductor, is pictured above and in the Google map below. It's the largest foreign investment in Texas, according to Reuters. Construction of the complex, which lies along Samsung Boulevard in Austin, started in 1996, and the first semiconducter fabrication facility began operating in 1998. It builds high-precision microchips — chips such as Apple's A5.

The company opened a second wafer factory in Austin in 2008 to build NAND flash chips, the fast memory storage elements that work in computers and mobile devices.

Reuters notes that the Austin facility is located there in part because it's close to the University of Texas' engineering school. The two factories employ about 3,500 total workers, according to Reuters.

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– David Sarno

Twitter.com/dsarno

Image: A satellite photo shows a Samsung factory in Austin, Texas. Credit:  Google Maps

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Apple’s Mac App Store hits 100 million downloads in year

posted by Technology @ 10:55 AM
Monday, December 12, 2011

App-store

Apple has hit 100 million downloads from its online software shop, the Mac App Store. 

When the company opened the digital shop in January of this year, its goal was to put an end to the old days of PC software on a box — the kind users bought from brick and mortar stores like Best Buy or Fry's, or Babbage's, or Software Etc., or Egghead Software, or the Softwarehouse, or CompUSA. (Am I missing any obvious ones?)

After all, the logic goes, software is just 1's and 0's — so why would you need to drive somewhere to pick up a shrink-wrapped package full of it?

So far, the approach appears to be working. The store is averaging 8 million downloads per month this year. That includes the summer launch of Lion, the latest version of its Macintosh operating system, which sold more than 1 million digital copies in its first day, far outpacing sales of any previous OS X release. 

What the company did not say is how many of the 100 million apps downloaded were, specifically, its operating system — or how many of them were counted from the many free apps available on the store. 

However, some companies do approach online software sales by offering free and paid apps.  Autodesk Inc. offers a simpler, free version of its AutoCAD software through the store, and its $900 AutoCAD LT version for pros (or amateurs that get hooked).

Apple also said its iPhone and iPad-based App Store hit 18 billion total downloads. That store went online for the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2008.

– David Sarno (@dsarno)

Image: Graphic of Mac App Store Logo.  Credit: Rob Boudon / Flickr

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Apple iPad 2 (left) and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet is back on sale in Australia after a temporary sales ban on the competitor to Apple's iPad expired on the device due to a patent lawsuit between the two companies in that country.

The lifting of the sales injunction is a win for Samsung, since it finally can start selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 after the South Korean tech giant voluntarily pulled the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from shelves in August and an Australian court order made the ban official in October.

Samsung, however, won't be able to sell the Galaxy Tab until next week as it wasn't allowed to import shipments of Galaxy Tab 10.1 into Australia as a part of the sales ban, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Apple and Samsung are suing each other over alleged patent infringement related to technologies used in their respective tablets, and the expiration of the ban is the latest development before the dispute goes to go to trial in March.

But as we've reported the clash in Australia is just one part of a larger international patent battle between the two consumer electronics heavyweights that cover touchscreen technology, the look and feel of products and even how the devices connect to the Internet.

Apple and Samsung are suing one another in the U.S., France and 30 other European countries, as well as Japan. And in other countries, the litigation has spread to encompass Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones, other Galaxy Tab tablets (all products that run Google's Android operating system), and Apple's iPhone and iPad products.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple iPad 2, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a store in the Hague, Netherlands, in August. Credit: Robert Vos / European Pressphoto Agency

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Apple iPad 3, with retina display, slated for February?

posted by Technology @ 10:46 AM
Friday, December 9, 2011

Apple iPad 2

According to a Citi analyst, Apple is prepping a next-generation iPad — likely called an iPad 3 — for a February release.

Such a device would be similar to the iPad 2, but include Apple's high-resolution retina display technology found on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S by doubling the iPad 3's screen resolution, said analyst Richard Gardner in a research note first reported on by Business Insider and PCMag.

Gardner reportedly said that "several sources" told him that Apple could launch the iPad 3 as early as February, which would put its debut ahead of the first two generations of Apple's tablet.

The first iPad hit stores in April 2010 after being unveiled the month before, and the iPad 2 was unveiled and released in March 2011.

The analyst also said that "there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining" to prevent the launch of a high-resolution iPad, which contradicts previous reports that fitting such a dense screen into an Apple tablet was one of the reasons Apple iPad 2 maintained the 1024 x 768 resolution of the first iPad.

Both the first iPad and iPad 2 displays have a pixel density of 132 pixels per inch (or ppi).

Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S have what is classified as a retina display, with a resolution of 960 x 640 resolution, and a 326 ppi. Any display with a ppi of 300 or greater is said be so dense that pixels are indistinguishable from each other to the human eye at a distance of about 10 to 12 inches — and thus, those displays can be dubbed retina displays.

Tablets with higher screen resolution have been released by Apple rivals and more are on the way, but nothing close to a retina display tablet has surfaced yet — though Samsung has been working on it for months.

Among the most anticipated iPad competitors coming soon is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, which features a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels.

Gardner also estimated that Apple would sell about 12 million to 13 million iPads in the final three months of this year.

The major sales competitor to Apple's iPad is widely considered the Amazon Kindle Fire, which boasts much lower specs than iPads and Eee Pads. The research firm IHS iSuppli has estimated that Amazon will ship about 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets before the end of the year.

In the past, Apple normally released new generations of its products about a year apart, though the iPad 2 did arrive 11 months after the first iPad, and recently the tech giant waited 16 months before releasing the iPhone 4S after the iPhone 4.

Apple is currently the leading tablet seller worldwide, with an estimated 65% share of the market.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A man uses his Apple iPad to take a photo of Pope Benedict XVI outside the pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, southeast of Rome, on Aug. 28. Credit: Andreas Solaro / AFP/Getty Images

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Apple denied ownership of iPad trademark in China

posted by Technology @ 12:44 PM
Thursday, December 8, 2011

Apple iPad, running the TableTop app

Apple has been denied the rights to the trademark for the term "iPad" in China in a legal battle with Hong Kong-based Proview Technology that registered a trademark back in 2000, according to reports.

At the core of the dispute is whether or not a 2006 agreement between Proview's Taiwan-based subsidiary, Proview Electronics, to sell Apple the "global trademark" for the "IPAD" name for £35,000, or about $54,000, applies to China, according to a report from the Financial Times.

Apple says the agreement should include trademark rights in China, and Proview disagrees, Reuters reported.

Proview is arguing that the Chinese trademark owned by its Shenzhen-based company, Proview Technology, is different than the trademark formerly owned by Proview Electronics, the reports said.

Apple has sued Proview Technology for trademark infringement in the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, the Financial Times said, adding that while the court has rejected Apple's ownership claim, the U.S. tech giant can appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Proview Technology has sued Apple resellers in China in an attempt to block the sale of Apple's iPad tablets, the reports said. In October, Proview Technology also filed a suit against Apple seeking 10 billion yuan, or about $1.5 billion, from Apple over alleged infringement of its Chinese "iPad" trademark.

But despite the legal back-and-forth, Proview spokesperson Li Su said told the Financial Times that a the company is open to a settlement.

"We hope that this decision will make our negotiations with Apple a bit easier," Su said in the report.

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Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple iPad 2, running the Tabletop app. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times

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Justice Department confirms investigation of e-book industry

posted by Technology @ 3:49 PM
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ipad-iphone-books

The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust arm said it was looking into potentially unfair pricing practices by electronic booksellers, joining European regulators and state attorneys general in a widening probe of large U.S. and international e-book publishers.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on Wednesday, Sharis Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's antitrust division, said the agency was "investigating the electronic book industry" but gave fewdetails. 

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that the probe involved the possibility of "anticompetitive practices involving e-book sales."

The acknowledgment comes a day after European regulators said they were investigating five of the largest international publishers: France's Hachette Livre, News Corp.-owned Harper Collins, CBS' Simon & Schuster, Britain-based Pearson Group's Penguin and the German-owned Macmillan — as well as Apple Inc.. Investigators said they were trying to determine whether the companies had "engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition."

Attorneys general in Connecticut and, reportedly, Texas, have also begun inquiries into the way electronic booksellers price their wares, and whether companies such as Apple and Amazon have set up pricing practices that are ultimately harmful to consumers.

When Amazon.com and its Kindle were the sole major player in the electronic book market, the company set the price of e-books at $9.99.  But publishers found that the price was artifically low and sought a way to circumvent Amazon's pricing control. 

When Apple's iPad came out last year, the company had deals in place with five major publishers to use a new pricing model, in which the publishing companies were able to set the prices and the retailers (such as Amazon and Apple) took a fixed cut of the retail cost, about 30%. 

Soon after, e-book prices on Amazon and elsewhere began to rise, and now many bestselling books retail for $14, $15, $16 or more.

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– David Sarno

Photo: Amazon.com's Kindle Fire, right, is displayed with an Apple iPhone 4 at a Best Buy store in New York. Credit: Scott Eells / Bloomberg

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In a conference room at The Times last week, Mike McCue, the chief executive of Flipboard, got an email on his iPhone. It was Apple, telling him that his company's new Flipboard app for the iPhone had been officially approved. 

"OK!" he said. "This is good news."

That email meant Flipboard was on schedule for its next big launch. The company's social magazine app for the iPad has been one of the device's most popular apps, winning Apple's iPad app of the year award in 2010 and attracting about 4 million users, close to 1 in 4 iPad owners. Over the last year, McCue's Palo Alto company has doubled in size, to about 50 employees, and has locked down more than $60 million in funding.

In that time, the company has been slowly and deliberately focusing on the newly designed iPhone app.  The iPhone version of Flipboard is smaller and leaner — not a shrunken version of the iPad app but a phone-sized social media digest, meant to be literally thumbed through while on the go. Its "Cover Stories" feature distills a custom selection of elegantly laid out social and real-world news that readers can get in screen-sized bites. 

We sat down with McCue to try out the newly released app (see above video), and to hear about the company's ambitious plans to move beyond its roots as a magazine app for the iPad and iPhone. Building on Flipboard's deep links to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, McCue wants to harness the huge amount of data being generated by users of these major services to build a kind of social media nerve center — a digital brain that listens to all your social networks and picks the most important and interesting stories, presenting them to you in a simple and organized way.

Question: That sounds ambitious. Can you say what it is you'd be trying to do?

Answer: Well, the Web as we've known it for a long time has been pages linking and pointing to other pages. But there's a new Web that's being created — some people are calling it the social Web.

People are posting a huge amount of data, and there are more social networks being created all the time — Path, Google+, 500 Pixels and many others. 

And the raw amount of Web you see on this social Web is crazy. There are billions and billions of posts everyday just on Facebook, and the growth is phenomenal. Twitter is at probably 180 million tweets a day — three years ago it was 10 million or less. Because of all this, the social Web has far more intricate and subtle links between the nodes than the more primitive Web we grew up with in the mid-1990s.

So you can think of it as a river — imagine all this information rushing past you as a user, with more friends coming on, sharing more stuff more easily, and on more social networks. The river is getting faster and deeper and wider, and it never ends. 

If a friend of yours from college gets engaged, he might post about it, and it's going to go right down the river. If you're looking at the moment, you'll see it, otherwise it could go right by. So what we're trying to do is keep an eye on that river for you — try to pick some important things as they go by and hold them for you.

Question: How do you do that?

Answer: Well, last year we bought a company called Ellerdale. It was run by Arthur Van Hoff, the co-creator of Java and a very smart guy. What he'd been doing was looking at the Twitter firehose [that's a feed of every single tweet that everyone on Twitter generates], and analyzing and figuring out what mattered to the individual user. [When Flipboard bought Ellerdale, it had already "indexed" 6 billion messages from around the social Web.]

It's really advanced technology that goes out and looks at effectively every social network. Kind of like Google crawls the Web, we crawl the social networks. Where Google analyzes links and Web pages, we look at the same thing with people. So we can tell, for example, who you interact with more frequently. Or if it's not frequency, maybe it's consistency. For instance, my mom. She doesn't post that often, but every time she does I'm going to see it because the software knows I'm interested. So we're trying to discern: What is the small group of people that you find most interesting, regardless of the network they're on.

Question: So news in the Flipboard world is both traditional media news and social news?

Answer: It's a mix of what's going on in the world and what's going on in your world, fused together. And it might seem weird that I'm looking at a picture of my daughters, and then the next flip I'm reading a story about Iran. But to me as a reader, when I'm standing in line waiting to get my coffee, those things are what I care about.

Question: But how often do our personal lives generate something that would be considered socially newsworthy?

Answer: It happens pretty frequently. Let's say you go to a friend's wedding, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween. It'd be great the next day to see what went on with your friends' Thanksgiving weekend, or all the costumes they wore on Halloween, and be able to look back and see what they wore the year before, and the year before that.

There are a lot of things that happen in your life that are front-page-worthy, especially when you pull them together with outside events or with other people, it adds even more gravitas to those events. It might even be something as simple as that you care about what's going on on "American Idol," or that you got a new dog. And everything in between. These are the kinds of things people share about on social networks every day, but the problem is that those signals are very weak, and treated equally, and not grouped with other people who are experiencing the same things. You're left to figure it all out yourself.

Question: You've got a lot of magazines and websites you work with now — the New Yorker, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Flickr and a bunch more. Is Flipboard starting to make money for these publications?

Answer: We have about 60 publishing partners, and we just started working with them to sell ads. In particular, Condé Nast. We've only been selling ads for about three months, so it's too early to give you any insightful observation there. But readers love the full-page ads way more than banner ads. They're selling for 10 to 15 times the price of the banner ads because they're full screen. From a reader point of view, it just feels like you're flipping through a magazine.

Because we're still only on the iPad, we're only a tiny fraction of most publications' readership, much smaller than the Web. But as we start to scale to other platforms, we should become a broader part of their readership.

Question: When you say other platforms, do you mean other tablets? Like the Kindle Fire?

Answer: We think they're interesting, but we're concerned about not scaling to other devices too fast and watering ourselves down. 

The Kindle Fire is the first tablet I think has a shot at gaining critical mass beyond the iPad. And of course there are many other great Android smartphones out there too, as well as the Web itself — so there's a lot for us to think through. 

Question: You're on Twitter's board of directors — what can you say about the experience?

Answer: It's super interesting. As an entrepreneur, in many ways it's like looking into the crystal ball for what my company will hopefully go through as it starts to think about bigger challenges — scaling internationally, getting ready to go public and all those different things. Not that Twitter is getting ready to go public.  But it's a company that I think is going to be quite valuable, and very meaningful in the world, and it's exciting to be part of that.

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– David Sarno / @dsarno

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EU antitrust regulators investigate Apple, e-book publishers

posted by Technology @ 4:54 PM
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kindles

European Union antitrust regulators are investigating Apple Inc. and the e-book business model it uses to sell digital titles from five of the largest international book publishers.

Officials from the European Commission said Tuesday they were looking into the fairness of e-book sales agreements made by French publisher Hachette Livre, News Corp.-owned Harper Collins, CBS' Simon & Schuster, Britain-based Pearson Group's Penguin and the German-owned Macmillan.

In 2010 these companies switched en masse to a new pricing system for e-books, called the "agency model," in which publishers wrested away from retailers the ability to set prices. Before the agency model, e-book sellers such as Amazon.com Inc. sold e-books at any price they liked, much like bricks-and-mortar bookstores. (Once bookstores have purchased books from wholesalers, they can discount or mark up the prices at will.)

In the same way, before the agency model Amazon — then the only major player in e-books sales — was free to set its own prices. The company used that freedom to price its Kindle books at $9.99, a price so low that the company was generally thought to be losing money on most Kindle book sales — in the name of attracting a large group of Kindle book buyers who would be drawn to the low and consistent pricing.

But publishers did not want Amazon's cut-rate e-book sales to give the Seattle company total control of the e-book market, especially by getting customers used to buying e-books for less than the industry believed they were worth. So, at around the time when Apple's iPad debuted, the five publishers agreed to a model in which they alone could decide book prices, and booksellers such as Apple and Amazon would receive a fixed commission on each sale.

Not long after, e-book prices began to rise. At Amazon, many bestselling Kindle e-books are now priced above $9.99. For instance, only five of Amazon's 20 "best" Kindle books of the year are below $10.

That price increase may in part be what antitrust regulators are looking into. In March, EU officials raided a number of publishers, reportedly seizing contracts and executives' smartphones and computers.

"The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition," the group's statement on Tuesday said.

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– David Sarno

Photo: Boxes of Kindle e-readers sit ready for dispatch in a distribution center in Ridgmont, Britain.  Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

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Apple loses bid to block U.S. sales of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

posted by Technology @ 10:13 AM
Monday, December 5, 2011

Apple iPad 2, sitting next to a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung chalked up a victory in its ongoing patent battle with Apple when a federal judge ruled against a proposed sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S.

Apple had requested a ban similar to the temporary injunction placed on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, but the U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday decided that such a move wasn't necessary before the dispute goes to trial in July, according to Bloomberg Businessweek

Australian's ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is set to lift on Dec. 9, with the patent battle there headed for trial in March.

The two consumer electronics titans are involved in a running legal war over the rights to technologies used on tablets and smartphones in more than 10 countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, France and Italy, and with more than 20 lawsuits filed between the two companies.

So far, sales of Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones have been temporarily banned in 30 European countries, and Germany has placed a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.7 (all devices which run on Google's Android operating system). Samsung went so far as to redesign and then re-release the German version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, but Apple requested a new ban of that tablet in that country as well, according to the Times of India.

When Apple and Samsung aren't fighting to keep each other's products off of store shelves, the two are actually business partners. Samsung, for example, manufactures Apple's A4 and A5 processors found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod Touch, among other components, such as flash memory, inside of i-devices.

RELATED:

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple iPad 2, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a store in the Hague, Netherlands, in August. Credit: Robert Vos / European Pressphoto Agency

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Amazon’s Kindle Fire set to take No. 2 spot in tablet market

posted by Technology @ 8:23 PM
Friday, December 2, 2011

Kindlefire emile wamsteker bloomberg

It's been a mere two weeks since its much-hyped launch, and Amazon's Kindle Fire has already shaken up the competitive tablet market. The 7-inch device is expected to surpass all other iPad rivals to take second place in the global media tablet business in the fourth quarter, according to information and analysis provider IHS.

The e-commerce giant will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets during the last three months of the year, IHS said, giving Amazon a 13.8% share of global media tablet shipments. That exceeds the 4.8% held by No. 3 Samsung. 

Of course, the Kindle Fire still lags well behind the No. 1 tablet, Apple's iPad 2, which holds a 65.6% share of the market. 

IHS said the Kindle Fire's "rapid ascent will help fuel the expansion of the entire market," with the additional shipments adding a 7.7% increase to the firm's forecast of total media tablet shipments this year.

"Nearly two years after Apple Inc. rolled out the iPad, a competitor has finally developed an alternative which looks like it might have enough of Apple's secret sauce to succeed," Rhoda Alexander, senior manager of tablet and monitor research for IHS, said in a statement. "The production plans make it clear that Amazon is betting big on the product."

IHS now predicts that global media tablet market shipments will total 64.7 million units in 2011, compared with the previous forecast issued in August of 60 million. The total shipment level represents 273% growth from 17.4 million units last year.

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– Andrea Chang

Twitter.com/byandreachang

Photo: Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg

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Is Microsoft Office coming to Apple’s iPad?

posted by Technology @ 10:53 AM
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Photo

Microsoft on the iPad: So far there isn't much of that happening outside of the Bing app.

But that might change next year, according to a report from the Daily, News Corp.'s e-magazine delivered each day to Apple's iPad.

According to some unnamed sources of the Daily writer Matt Hickey, Microsoft is prepping iPad-versions of its Office suite of software.

"With the iPad making up over 80 percent of the tablet market and millions of people worldwide using Office, that could mean big bucks for the tech giant based in Redmond, Wash.," Hickey wrote in his report. "In addition to an iPad-ready version, a new edition of Office is expected for OS X Lion sometime next year."

Microsoft's current Office for Mac offering, Office 2011, lacks the ability to take advantage of new features found in Mac OS X Lion. "A Lion version, likely available via the Mac App Store, is widely expected," the report said. "Windows, too, is due for an update, with Office 2012 currently in beta form."

Currently, Apple has a few Office-like productivity apps of its own, with its iWork suite (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) on the Mac, iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad.

If Microsoft were to challenge iWork on the iPad (and maybe even iPhone) with Office, apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint could go head-to-head with Apple's own productivity apps.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple's Numbers app for the iPad. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles / Los Angeles Times

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales ban in Australia overturned

posted by Technology @ 9:29 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

An Australian court has lifted its temporary sales injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, landing the Korean company a win in its patent battle against Apple in that country.

The sales ban had been in place since October, after Samsung voluntarily pulled the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from shelves in August.

No doubt, Samsung has to be pleased with the reversal of the preliminary injunction, given that the holiday shopping season is in full swing.

This is just the latest development in the Australian patent battle between the two tech giants, which is set to go to trial in March.

And as we've reported, the Australian dispute is just one piece of the puzzle. The patent battle between the two companies is raging in the U.S., France and 30 other European countries, as well as Japan, and has spread to encompass not only the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but also Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones, other Galaxy Tab tablets (all products that run Google's Android operating system), and Apple's iPhone and iPad products.

The suits and counter-suits cover disputes over touchscreen technology, the look and feel of products and even how the devices connect to the Internet.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is displayed in Seoul last month. Credit: Park Ji-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images

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Apple iPhone 4S

Research In Motion announced on Tuesday that it will soon launch software that will bring security and management features once only found on BlackBerrys over to Android and iOS phones and tablets.

The new tools, which RIM is calling BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, will allow businesses to set up and control Apple's iPhone and iPad, as well as smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system, as they have done for years with BlackBerry phones and more recently, the slow-selling PlayBook tablet.

"We are pleased to introduce BlackBerry Mobile Fusion — RIM's next generation enterprise mobility solution — to make it easier for our business and government customers to manage the diversity of devices in their operations today," said Alan Panezic, RIM's vice president of enterprise product management and marketing, in a statement.

"BlackBerry Mobile Fusion brings together our industry-leading BlackBerry Enterprise Server technology for BlackBerry devices with mobile device management capabilities for iOS and Android devices, all managed from one web-based console," Panezic said. "It provides the necessary management capabilities to allow IT departments to confidently oversee the use of both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices within their organizations."

In announcing Mobile Fusion, RIM touted itself as "the leading provider of enterprise mobility solutions with over 90 percent of the Fortune 500 provisioning BlackBerry devices today," a nod to its still-large market share of the business market for smartphones.

But the Canadian company also acknowledges that when it comes time for consumers to buy phones and tablets for themselves, they're increasingly choosing rival devices and then bringing those gadgets into the workplace.

"The enterprise market for smartphones and tablets continues to grow in both the company-provisioned and employee-owned (Bring Your Own Device or BYOD) categories," RIM said. "BYOD in particular has led to an increase in the diversity of mobile devices in use in the enterprise and new challenges for CIOs and IT departments as they struggle to manage and control wireless access to confidential company information on the corporate network. This has resulted in increased demand for mobile device management solutions."

Among the features RIM said Mobile Fusion will offer for Android and iOS phones and tablets is the management and configuration of devices, as well as security features such as remote locking and data wiping, the creation of multiple user profiles on shared devices, app management and control over how a device connects to the Internet, among other settings.

While some would seem to love having an iPhone or an Android that's as secure and easy to manage at the scale a large business would require, others such as ReadWriteWeb has asked if RIM isn't "shooting itself in the foot with Mobile Fusion?"

GigaOm described RIM's stance with Mobile Fusion as "If you can't beat iOS and Android devices in the market, you might as well secure them."

Currently, Mobile Fusion is in "early beta testing with select enterprise customers," RIM said. But the company is accepting "customer nominations for the closed beta program which will start in January." The commercial rollout of Mobile Fusion isn't expected until late March.

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— Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple iPhone 4S. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

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Cyber Monday sales up 33%, new sales records set, IBM says

posted by Technology @ 10:47 AM
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cyber Monday sale on Target.com

Cyber Monday deals lured a record number of online shoppers, leading to a 33% jump in U.S. sales compared with the Monday after Thanksgiving last year, according to a new IBM report released Tuesday.

Consumers spent an average of 2.6% more this year than they did in 2010, with the value of an average online order rising from $193.24 to a record $198.26 this year, according to IBM's fourth annual Cyber Monday Benchmark study.

Also increasing this year was the number of shoppers who made purchases on their smartphones and tablets, the study said. On Cyber Monday, a record 10.8% of people used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, up from 3.9%  in 2010. Mobile sales also grew to 6.6% on this year's Cyber Monday purchases, up from 2.3% a year earlier, the tech giant said.

"Consumers flocked online, with shopping momentum hitting its highest peak at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST," IBM said in a statement. "Consumer shopping also maintained strong momentum after commuting hours on both the East and West coast."

Two statistics not included in IBM's study was an estimate of how much in total was spent or exactly how many people were shopping on Cyber Monday. IBM produces its Cyber Monday shopping report by "analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide," the company said.

And, as a tech firm that sells software, tech infrastructure and consulting services to businesses, IBM's analysis of this data is a bit of a marketing opportunity for the company founded in 1911.

"Retailers that adopted a smarter approach to commerce, one that allowed them to swiftly adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device, were able to fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend," said John Squire, the chief strategy officer of IBM's "Smarter Commerce" team, in a statement.

So, how did Cyber Monday compare with Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving? IBM has some data on that too, reporting that it found Cyber Monday brought in 29.3% more online sales than Black Friday did (though many shoppers on Black Friday were in brick-and-mortar stores and not online).

According to a few other Black Friday reports, that day was a shopping sales record too. 

Most people who purchased items online on Cyber Monday and Black Friday did so using Apple's i-devices, which "continued to rank one and two for mobile device retail traffic" with 4.1% of shopper Web-surfing taking place on the iPhone and 3.3% on the iPad, IBM said.

Android came in third with a solid 3.2% of Cyber Monday and Black Friday Web traffic, the report said.

"Shoppers using the iPad also continued to drive more retail purchases than any other device with conversion rates reaching 5.2 percent compared to 4.6 percent," on other devices, IBM said.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Cyber Monday specials on Target's website. Credit: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images

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