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Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

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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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 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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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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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.]

RELATED:

Apple reports record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs

If you publish with iBooks Author, does Apple 'own' you?

Apple loses bid to ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Netherlands

– 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.

RELATED:

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

Apple loses bid to ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Netherlands

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

– 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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Origami stroller charges iPhone, has headlights but no airbags

posted by Technology @ 9:00 AM
Saturday, January 21, 2012

Origami_digital_stroller
A digital stroller? It's happening, people.

A company called 4moms has just released the Origami, a baby stroller packed with features that you never knew you needed.

Power folding with the push of a button? Done.

Daytime running lights and special pathway lights to help you see at night? Yup.

A digital dashboard that displays temperature, speed, miles covered during your current trip, total miles covered, and whether or not a baby is actually in the stroller? It's got that too.

The Origami debuted at CES 2012 and is already available at some fancy baby stores like Giggle and Right Start. A 4moms spokeswoman said it will be available at diapers.com and buybuybaby.com in the next few days, and at target.com in the next few weeks.

The stroller costs a cool $849, which may sound expensive to normal people, but is actually comfortably within the range of higher-end strollers. The standard Bugaboo Chameleon, for example, will set you back $880.

The power for the power-folding feature, the lights and even the cellphone charging is produced by an onboard generator that charges the stroller as you push it. You do have the option to plug the stroller into the wall if you need to, and to fold and unfold the stroller manually if you're desperate, but the company says even a short walk is enough to keep the stroller powered for days.

One drawback is that it is kind of heavy for a stroller — it weighs 32 pounds in toddler mode — but you know, it's got that onboard generator. You can't have everything.

 

ALSO:

Next generation of smartphones may be waterproof

Video baby monitors are tapping iOS and Android devices

Virtual dressing room eliminates need to take off your clothes

– Deborah Netburn

Photo: The new Origami stroller by 4moms comes equipped with an online generator that allows parents to charge their cellphones while strolling with their baby. Credit: Courtesy of 4moms. 

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Capsule
Capsule, an event-based sharing platform, launched out of private beta with a website and free iPhone and Android apps this week.

The Manhattan Beach start-up provides a suite of tools to help users capture the "entire life-cycle of group events," including invites and RSVPs, group texting, instant photo-sharing in real time and archiving. 

During a demo for The Times, co-founders Cyrus Farudi, who is chief executive, and Omri Cohen, who is chief technology officer, said they were trying to create a central location for events that would enable participants to better plan and share their experiences together. Before Capsule, they said, the process was much more disjointed — for instance, receiving an invite through Evite, texting friends individually before and tweeting during the event, and checking each participant's individual Facebook accounts afterward to see photos. 

"No one has that complete solution over the marketplace, and I think that's one thing that sets us apart," said Farudi, formerly of Flipswap. Capsule "solves the event life-cycle management problem."

Farudi, 31, and Cohen, 29, said they came up with the idea after having to attend 14 weddings and nine bachelor parties in one year. Founded less than a year ago, the start-up is angel-funded and joins a fast-growing group of emerging tech companies in the Los Angeles area, which some people have dubbed Silicon Beach.

On Friday, a day after Capsule was released to the public, Farudi declined to say how many people had joined but said the launch was "going really well." Capsule can be found at www.trycapsule.com.

RELATED:

Silicon Beach: Real or high-tech hype?

Elevator Labs: An L.A. start-up building L.A. start-ups

L.A. start-up looks for the most interesting engineers in the world

– Andrea Chang

Twitter.com/byandreachang

Image: Screen shot of Capsule's home page. Credit: Capsule

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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.

RELATED:

Apple says iBooks 2 app reinvents textbooks

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

Apple looms large over the Consumer Electronics Show, despite not showing up

– 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.

ALSO:

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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Does Steve Wozniak really prefer Android to the iPhone?

posted by Technology @ 4:37 PM
Monday, January 16, 2012

Steve Wozniak

The Rolling Stones vs. the Beatles

The Yankees vs. the Mets

IPhone vs. Android.

Some debates rage eternal.

Today the iPhone-vs.-Android debate came to the fore when Steve Wozniak — the man who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs back in 1976 — told the Daily Beast that despite loving the simplicity and beauty of the iPhone, he thinks that in some respects the Android just works better.

Sacrilege!

The Beast made the absolute most of the news by slapping a controversial headline on the story: "Even Woz Thinks the Android Bests the iPhone."

The truth, of course, is a little more nuanced than that.

For starters, keep in mind that this is a man who stood outside an Apple store in Los Gatos for 18 hours just a few months ago in order to be first in line when the iPhone 4S was released.

Wozniak's main issue with the iPhone is Siri, which he said no longer works as well as it once did.

“I used to ask Siri, ‘What are the five biggest lakes in California?’ and it would come back with the answer," he told the Beast.  "Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate.”

He also said GPS navigation is better on Android phones, and that the battery life on the iPhone is frustrating.

Still, Wozniak said he still thinks most users would prefer the iPhone to the Android because, in the end, it's easier to use.

“The people I recommend the iPhone 4S for are the ones who are already in the Mac world, because it’s so compatible, and people who are just scared of computers altogether and don’t want to use them," he said. "The iPhone is the least frightening thing. For that kind of person who is scared of complexity, well, here’s a phone that is simple to use and does what you need it to do.”

Not so sacrilegious after all.

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– Deborah Netburn

Photo: Wozniak demonstrates Siri, the personal assistant app on the iPhone 4S, on a new handset outside an Apple store in Los Gatos on Friday. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / EPA

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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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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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–Deborah Netburn

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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Fifth-anniversary-of-the-ip

Five years ago, on Jan. 9th 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone.

He didn't start talking about the phone right away. Instead, he spent the first 20 minutes teasing the crowd with stories about the iPod nano, the success of iTunes and the number of movies and television shows downloaded on Apple TV — building anticipation.

He ragged on Microsoft's recently released Zune, which he joyfully told his audience had only snagged 2% of the market for MP3 players.

Then, as Engadget live blogged at the time, he said "Ahem."

And finally, he gave the people what they wanted.

Jobs described the phone as three products in one — an iPod player, a mobile phone and an Internet communications device.

He gloated about how the new phone eschewed both a keypad and a stylus and took advantage of the "best pointing device in the world — our fingers."

"We have invented a new technology called multi-touch," he said. "It works like magic, you don't need a stylus, far more accurate than any interface ever shipped, it ignores touches, multi-finger gestures, and BOY have we patented it!"

Then he took his enthusiastic audience through the phone's functionality — its compatibility with iTunes, the weather app, the Google maps, the ease of making a phone call right from one's contact list.

Ever the showman, Jobs demonstrated that last bit by making a live call to Phil Schiller on stage.

The iPhone wouldn't be shipped to stores for six more months, but those who were there were smitten.

"They may have created a new category," Tim Bajarin, president of consulting firm Creative Strategies, told the Los Angeles Times the day of the event. "Instead of smartphone, how about 'brilliant' phone? This redefines what a cellphone looks like."

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– Deborah Netburn

Photo: Steve Jobs introduces the Apple iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on Jan. 9, 2007. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

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iPhone app scratches an itch for wannabe DJs

posted by Technology @ 9:02 PM
Monday, January 9, 2012

Turntable techniquesWhat does it take to be a pro DJ? It used to be two turntables and a microphone. Not so anymore. It's not unusual to see iPads and iPhones instead.

DJ really doesn't mean disc jockey these days; it's more apt to call them digital jockeys.

Pro equipment can get really pricey and take a few trips from the truck to set up.

But IK Multimedia has an app that may put the power of a pro DJ in your pocket.

At CES in Las Vegas, the company announced that it will soon release DJ Rig, an iPhone app that brings smooth transitions, scratching, sampling and beat matching to the party.

The app includes features found in other DJ apps such as access to the on-board iPhone music library and playlists, auto-sync technology, interactive waveform display and auto looping.

What makes IK Multimedia suggest this app may be a game-changer are features such as detection and adjustment for volume and cross-fading equalizing, a sync mode that detects beats per minute from external devices in real time and automatically syncs the tempo of internal decks to external decks. It has an on-the-fly sampler and live sampling capabilities.

And, if you want to go a little old school, the new DJ Rig app has a scratching engine that is supposed to emulate the behavior of real decks. The app also promises to include several output configurations, so you can adapt to different audio setups.

The regular version will cost about $10; there will be a scaled-down free version, expandable through in-app purchase. A universal iPad app is also in the works.

Among other coming-soon announcements for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad from the company out of CES: a mobile mixer (iRig Mix, $100), a live-performance stompbox guitar/bass interface (iRig Stomp, $60) and a compact voice-recording mic (iRig Mic Cast, $40).

– Michelle Maltais in Las Vegas

Twitter.com/mmaltaislat

Photo: Professor Stephen Webber, background, watches students practice turntable techniques at Berklee College of Music in 2004. Credit: Adam Hunger / Associated Press

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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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– David Sarno in Las Vegas

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

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CES 2012: GoPano Micro gives iPhone 4 a 360-degree view

posted by Technology @ 4:46 PM
Monday, January 9, 2012




 

It used to be that only "real" cameras had the cool lens accessories. But more and more are coming for the camera on your phone. One that caught my eye at CES gave a new perspective to iPhone video.

GoPano Micro — which really made me want to yell "up periscope!" — is a lens by EyeSee360 that lets your iPhone 4 and 4S shoot real-time 360-degree video. You attach it over the iPhone's camera using the case that comes with it. And in conjunction with a free app, you can shoot the scene around you with minimal effort.

The video isn't just panoramic. It's also interactive. You can tap the screen — or click in the video on your computer — to shift perspective and see what's on the other side of the camera. You can also flatten out the image to see all angles at the same time. 

GoPano Micro sells for about $80.

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– Michelle Maltais in Las Vegas

Twitter.com/mmaltaislat

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CES 2012: Bikn aims to be new lost-and-found for iPhone

posted by Technology @ 4:42 PM
Monday, January 9, 2012




 

Are you the kind of person who loses your keys all the time but always seems to have your phone nearby?

Treehouse Labs has a leash for you. Its new lost-and-found system, Bikn (pronounced "beacon"), is basically two low-powered radios talking. One is on the case you put on your iPhone; the other is on the tags you attach to your stuff — or your people. Then the Bikn app connects them.

Some folks consider the ubiquitous smartphone a kind of leash. Now you can actually "leash" your favorite devices — and your two- and four-legged family members who might wander off — using the same device.

The kit performs two functions — tracking and "leashing." You can set a perimeter of near, medium or far.  When your tagged person or item moves out of the established perimeter, an alarm sounds.

The $99 kit comes with two tags and the case. Additional kits come in pairs of two tags for $49. You can "leash" up to eight items.

Of course, you have to keep track of your iPhone — but I suppose that's what Find My Phone is for.

 

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– Michelle Maltais in Las Vegas

Twitter.com/mmaltaislat

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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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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

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

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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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— David Sarno

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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— Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

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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– David Sarno

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

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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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– David Sarno

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Five ways to get started with your new iPhone

posted by Technology @ 12:46 PM
Sunday, December 25, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S

Got an Apple iPhone this Christmas? Well, you're doing pretty well for yourself. It may or may not be Santa Claus' smartphone of choice and you successfully avoided waiting in long lines as many Apple fanatics do once a year when a new iPhone launches.

But marketing and hype aside, the iPhone is one of the best smartphone lines on the market and each of the devices currently available — the 3GS, the 4 and the 4S — run iOS 5, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. With that in mind, here are five places to get started if you're a first time iPhone owner.

1. Photography apps: Apple's App Store (the only place you can get iPhone apps), with more than 140,000 apps available, is a major bragging right for the iPhone versus its competitors, but not all apps are created equal. However, no other smartphone platform can currently match the iPhone for slick apps that produce fun and artistic photos. The best place to start is likely Instagram, which combines a solid selection of filters to make photos look like they were shot on vintage film cameras and a social network of other users so you can see the world through other lenses. Hipstamatic is another popular choice, which takes the vintage filter approach to another level with the ability to mix and match digital lenses, flashes and film choices to create a more customized look than in Instagram. Another app, called SwankoLab, allows you to alter photos already taken using a simulated dark room.

2. Games: The iPhone is also arguably the best gaming smartphone out there and the choices here are plentiful. Angry Birds is one of the most popular games available on smartphones and is a good place to start. But other choices such as Robo Surf, Cut the Rope, Tiny Wings, Bumpy Road and Kosmo Spin are worth checking out too — each combining unique art styles, enchanting soundtracks and simple touch screen controls. For those looking for a bit more of a gaming challenge, the third-person shooter Minigore and puzzle game Scribblenauts impress. The sword fighting games Infiniti Blade and Infiniti Blade II show what the iPhone is capable of with detailed 3-D graphics and fast-paced action.

3. Music: Apple's iTunes allows for easy music buying, but there are plenty of other music related apps worth checking out as well. Shazam can listen to and then identify thousands of songs. Band of the Day is a great way to discover new music. Soundtracking is a unique social networking app that allows you to share what you're listening to with others, as well as check out what tunes they like. And if you're a Spotify Premium subscriber, the Spotify app is a must.

4. Built-in Twitter: If you're a big Twitter user, as I am, or even if you're new to Twitter, you're likely going to appreciate that the social network is baked into iOS 5. Checking out a website you care to share in the iPhone's Safari web browser? You can tweet that directly from Safari without having to go and open up a Twitter app. Same goes for photos, videos and locations in the maps app.

5. Ask a friend: As always, talking to a buddy can generate suggestions that may line up with your interests on just about anything — same goes here. Ask a friend who uses an iPhone what they like about the phone or available apps and you're bound to find something you may enjoy too.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A newly purchased iPhone 4S smartphone outside an Apple Store in New York. Credit: Michael Nagle / 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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Holiday helper apps on your smartphone

posted by Technology @ 6:35 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ah, there's a bite in the air, the lines are longer at the shopping centers and the shelves seem to have been picked clean. The neighbors' gaudy lights twinkle as if in a synchronized taunt to your bare house.

Yes, the last-minute rush is on to prep for the holidays. As always, there's an app or two to help you. (Sorry, not with stringing the lights, though.)

Searching for a tree

Find My Tree app
The season has arrived. Hanukkah is here, and Christmas is Sunday. But you're still looking for a tree? Android users can try out one of several free tree-finding apps: Tree Lot Finder, My Perfect Tree and  Find My Tree.

The app locates you and, on a Google map, identifies where some tree lots are located. These all seem to be the same app, down to the font. There are some fairly generic instructions on tree care.

We weren't all that impressed with these apps since none of them seemed to include details about some of the tree lots that pop up throughout town. The closest lots listed for, say, Glendale were actually in West Los Angeles, Burbank and Whittier — certainly far from the closest lots.

You might have better luck just looking up from your phone while you drive through the neighborhood.

Making a list

I'm still looking for an app to wrap my gifts for me. No luck yet.

Just keeping gifts straight can be a task for the overprogrammed. Of course, there's always Evernote for every device, for free. But if you're looking for something a little more festive, here are a few options.

All I Want From Santa appAndroid users can try the All I Want From Santa app, available in English and Spanish on Motorola Xoom, Kindle Fire, and Nook Tablet and Color.

Each child in the house can create a unique account to make a wish list, prioritize the items and send the lists off to Santa. His helpful tech elves forward a copy to Mom or Dad. And, for the etiquette conscious among us, there's a feature to help with writing thank-you cards. 

Another Android app that helps with organizing and planning your holiday shopping is  Free Christmas List. It includes gift and cost tracking by person and a cost summary.

On iPhone, among the many options is the Christmas List for 99 cents. It's a handy way to keep track of what you have bought for whom, from which store and how much you've spent. You can also track the process — to do, purchased, wrapped, shipped, received.

You can create groups for your gift giving. It's a nice interface, complete with scrollable photo list. And, if for some reason you just must, you can tweet the number of shopping days left by tapping the bird at the bottom of the app.

For budget-conscious shoppers, seeing what you've spent per person and the overall tally can really help keep the shopping in check. You can also share individual lists either via email, on Facebook or with someone else who has the app too.

Better Christmas List, also 99 cents, does much of the same but also includes pass code protection to keep lists secret from snoops and an archive of gifts received in years past, which can be handy.

Sending holiday cards

Think it's too late to send out your holiday wishes?

No!

You can create a virtu-real card on Android phones and iPhones/iPads with the free app Sincerely Ink. The app offers more than 30 photo cards and illustrated designs, including religious, secular, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year themes. You can personalize with your own photo, name and message, and send it to folks right from your contact list. Although the app is free, the service isn't. One card, including postage, goes for about $2.

The folks on your mailing list will get 5-by-7 inch, thick, glossy photo postcards at 300 dpi resolution. Sincerely Ink says their cards arrive within seven days.

Red Stamp for iOS devices and A card for that for Android phones do the same thing.

And if you want to take it to the next level, Holiday Video Cards by vlix for iOS lets you record a family video greeting, complete with seasonal tunes and effects. You use the video camera on your iPhone — front or back — to record a message up to a minute long. Then you can add text to introduce and close your video. The free app also offers 17 holiday effects and 16 holiday music tracks.

The video is quickly stitched together and added to your camera roll. You can also share it via email, Facebook, YouTube or vlix feed.

The app is compatible with iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, the fourth-generation iPod Touch and iPad 2. 

Since my family is super late with the preps for the holiday, we'll definitely be using this to spread our holiday cheer to our connected family members and friends.

Having holiday fun

Santa's Big HelperOne last little fun iPhone app for 99 cents is Santa's Big Helper.

It boasts nine different features: Santa tracker, elf cam, Christmas countdown (clever interface), video elf updates (so awful they're kind of funny), naughty/nice list, letters to Santa, ask an elf, magic compass and Christmas sound board.

The elf cam videos are what make the app worth considering.

You take a picture of your living room or fireplace and, through elfin magic, Santa appears with gifts in hand in your own home.

You have video proof of his visit!

 

 

 

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Michelle Maltais

Photo at top: Screen shot of Find My Tree app. Credit: Find My Tree

Center photo: Screen shot of All I Want From Santa app. Credit: All I Want From Santa

Photo at bottom: Screen shot of Santa's Big Helper app. Credit: Santa's Big Helper

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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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Is Samsung really suing Apple over emoticons? (*^_^*)

posted by Technology @ 8:56 AM
Saturday, December 17, 2011

EmoticonsThe patent war between Apple Inc. and smartphone rival Samsung Electronics continues to escalate, and there's only one way to describe the latest vicious salvo:

:)

That's right, it appears that Samsung has initiated a lawsuit against Apple governing the company's use of emoticons. 

According to a report from patent observer Florian Mueller, who has been dependably covering the worldwide patent wrestling match between Apple and Android manufacturers, one of four new patent lawsuits filed by Samsung in German court is over, once again, yes, emoticons.

Believe it or not, Samsung does indeed own a patent on smartphone use of emoticons.  It won the European rights to that "technology" in 2000, and interested readers can see the actual patent here.

The bizarreness of two global electronics powerhouses fighting over emoticons is only deepened when you see that the symbols at issue are not the newfangled illustrated and colorful emoticons you see in apps like this, but rather the old-fashioned parentheses-and-colon kind that many of us have come to abhor.  Or adopt.  :0).

What appears to be specifically at issue is a smartphone function for allowing users to quickly add prefabricated emoticon strings with a single touch. Some of those strings are rather involved.  Like

(^3^)-* Chu!!"

and

<(**)>

If you're wondering where the iPhone comes in, it turns out, you can find the iPhone menu pictured at above right by turning on the Japanese keyboard under Settings–>General–>Keyboard–>International Keyboards.  Then when you try to write a text message with the Japanese keyboard, you'll see an emoticon option that will trigger the above menu.  It is a veritable dictionary of inscrutable and cheery character sequences. To be fair, they are apparently much more recognizable in the East, where the population had been texting en masse for years by the time we started here in the U.S.

Indeed, the feature is apparently important enough in some countries to sue over.  Which to me is just

Σ(゜д゜;)

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Bonus question:  Identify the meaning of the following lengthy emoticon pictured in Samsung's patent:

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– David Sarno

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Review: Gift ideas for your tech-savvy toddlers

posted by Technology @ 7:32 AM
Saturday, December 17, 2011




 

Buying a $200 to $400 phone for a child to play with might seem a little over the top, though some families do it. But, parents, buying a cover to protect your own pricey device is probably a smart move for the times you do inevitably hand it over, whether as a learning tool or benign distraction.

Let's face it. If you give your uncovered iPhone to your toddler, you're just asking for trouble. After all, small hands can do big damage to these devices.

But for just about $20, Infantino's HappiTaps and Griffin's Woogie 2 transform your inflexible, vulnerable iPhone into a plush, cuddlier plaything.

Here's a look at the two stuffed-animal cases.

HappiTaps

Beary-HappiWhen you pull the HappiTaps case out of the box, you're greeted by a smiling Beary Happi, the case's sweet and engaging character brought to life via free downloadable app. He really comes to life when you open the app and drop your phone into the case.

Although initially the animated face on the phone made me flash back to my fears of Teddy Ruxpin and that living teddy bear from "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" — two stuffed bears with more self-awareness than should exist in a toy — Beary Happi's big green eyes and sweet child's voice won me over fairly quickly. 

The Beary Happi app includes more than 150 facial expressions, which actually are quite adorable. He blinks, winks, smiles, sleeps, eats, talks — and has different settings to moderate his expressions and mood from mellow to super chatty.

Peek-a-boo with Beary Happi involves interaction from the child. To reveal the hidden bear, the child has to tap the screen. "Feeding" him means tapping and dragging the food to his little mouth.

For 99 cents, you can get in-app additions such as two additional rattles (yes, your child will be shaking your iPhone in this case), two stories or two songs. Also, an educational game or the bedtime package (a poem, light show, lullaby and auto shut-off) can be purchased for 99 cents.

You can set the app to lock out purchases so that your happy tapper doesn't go shopping for upgrades without your knowledge or consent.

Also, it can be set to "toddler mode" to lock the menu. While the phone is in this case, it essentially  impedes your child from leaving the app — they'd have to remove the phone to hit the home button. (You can adjust volume or turn it off, but it does take effort.)

It's a bit of an overstatement to call it huggable. It's a soft, cushioned cover with a miniature body. It might just be soft enough for small hands, though.

The HappiTaps case is advertised for children 18 months and older. It comes with a green hanger to attach it to, say, a play mat or car seat.

I gave it to my 7-month-old to try out. My tech-savvy teether, like babies his age, did try to put the case in his mouth.

Beary is kind of kissable. Unfortunately, there is no protective plastic cover over the iPhone screen, so there's nothing between your child's mouth and that screen — or, for that matter, the screen and any hard surface. Luckily, with an older child, you are probably less likely to have them give Beary Happi the full-on Bam-Bam treatment.

IMG_0456Woogie 2

The original Woogie was a bit more like a stuffed starfish or inkblot — soft but flat. Its successor, Woogie 2, has slightly weighted legs and is more versatile in that it can stand or sit, making it more flexible for the many uses of touchscreen devices.

When I tried it out with my baby, we could play videos, have him scroll through photos, and sit and enjoy an interactive audio picture book.

My son was also able to drag the Woogie around without his protective mother being ultra-nervous about whether he'd try his burgeoning skills as an amateur drummer with her iPhone.

Unlike the HappiTaps case, Woogie 2 has a plastic face, allowing a touch-permeable barrier of sorts between the grimy screen of the iPhone or iPod and your little one.

It comes in a couple of colors — blue and pink. The original was a neon green.

This case is more like an actual stuffed animal that happens to also be a case. Your kid could play with this even without the iPhone tucked in it.

Both cases work with current and older-model iPhones and iPod Touch. I have reserved my old 3G iPhone for my baby's use and it fit easily in both.

Although the Velcro closure will hold your phone or player in place, it's fairly easy for even a child  under a year old to open and free the device. So as always with children, you'll want to keep your eyes open.

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Michelle Maltais 

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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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Android, Apple lead U.S. smartphone market, others play catch-up

posted by Technology @ 10:43 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Iphone

The Android operating system's share of smartphone sales grew to 53% from January through October, up from 42% in 2010, and Apple's iOS share rose to 29%, up from 21% last year, research firm NPD Group said Tuesday.

Research in Motion, which makes the BlackBerry, continued to see its share of the smartphone market decline, plummeting to 10% in the first 10 months of this year. In 2010, it held one-fourth of the market.

Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Symbian OS and Palm/webOS had tiny shares of the market, with each operating system capturing no more than 3%. 

"The competitive landscape for smartphones, which has been reshaped by Apple and Google, has ultimately forced every major handset provider through a major transition," said Ross Rubin, executive director of Connected Intelligence at the NPD Group. "For many of them, 2012 will be a critical year in assessing how effective their responses have been."

Motorola is seeking to rebuild its share of the market, which was 36% five years ago but had fallen as low as 1% in the third quarter of 2009. After adopting Android, Motorola rose to 16% of the market in the fourth quarter last year but fell to 12% in the third quarter this year. But Rubin said Motorola is at least back in the game.

Another smartphone maker hoping to rebound next year is RIM. Rubin said few companies "have felt the impact of the shift to touch user interfaces and larger screen sizes as negatively," but noted that the company is beginning anew with a strong technical foundation and has already made incremental improvements this year with the release of its BlackBerry 7 operating system. In the second quarter of 2006, RIM held half of all smartphone sales, but by the third quarter this year, it had fallen to 8%.  

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– Andrea Chang

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Photo: An iPhone 4S. Apple's iOS share of smartphone sales grew to 29% from January through October. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

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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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iNuke Boom, world’s loudest iPod dock, weighs 700 lbs.

posted by Technology @ 5:23 PM
Thursday, December 8, 2011

INuke

 

 Can you find the iPod in this picture?

It's sitting atop the appropriately named iNuke Boom, an 8-foot wide, 4-foot-tall, 700-pound iPod and iPhone dock that pumps out 10,000 watts of power.

And if that wasn't outrageous enough — the price tag is $29,999.

"Everyone is making something small," said Mark Wilder, vice president of marketing and communications for Behringer, the audio and music equipment company behind the iNuke Boom. "We said, 'Let's make something loud.'"

Wilder assures us that it is not a joke, and that an iNuke Boom has not only been produced but will be seen — and heard — at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show coming up in January.

"I'm not sure our neighbors are going to like us that much," he said.

Wilder admitted that the iNuke Boom is essentially a publicity stunt and marketing tool to promote the company's new line of home audio equipment.

"We made this one as a prototype, but we will make them and sell them if we take orders for them," he said.

So who is this person who would pay $30,000 for an iPhone docking station? "The buyer who has everything," said Wilder. "Probably someone with a sizable amount of property and wants to throw a party and wants something more elegant than a normal speaker system."

Elegance, we suppose, is in the eye of the very rich iPod owner.

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— Deborah Netburn

Image: One very big iNuke Boom. One very small iPhone. Credit: Behringer.

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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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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.

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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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Syrian government reportedly bans use of Apple iPhone

posted by Technology @ 8:41 PM
Friday, December 2, 2011

Pro-Syrian government rally

The Syrian government has reportedly banned the use of the Apple iPhone in an effort to prevent activists from documenting the ongoing uprising in that country and government violence against protesters.

Activists in Beirut were notified of the iPhone ban in a letter from the Syrian Finance Ministry that reads "the authorities warn anyone against using the iPhone in Syria," according to reports from the Haaretz newspaper in Israel and the U.S. website the Next Web (which quoted the Lebanese site El Nashara).

Since the Syrian protests began Jan. 26, opposition groups — who are calling for political reform and the ouster of President Bashar Assad, an increase in civil and human rights and a democratic government — have used devices such as smartphones to document online, in photos and video, the government's violent response to their actions.

The United Nations has said that more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since major protests began in March and fears of civil war have arisen as well.

According to Ria Novosi, a Russian news site, protest groups have built and distributed an iPhone app, called Syria Alone, that offers independent news reports and "a collection of videos and jokes" that mock Assad.

According to both Haaretz and the Next Web, no other smartphones have been banned yet. But unnamed protesters reportedly did say, in both reports, that the ban has made it so that "it is enough for any tourist or guest visiting Syria to own an iPhone to be a spy suspect."

In the Haaretz report, a protester added that "Steve Jobs must be turning in his grave on learning that his iconic device is banned in his home country."

Steve Jobs, Apple's American-born co-founder and longtime CEO, died Oct. 5. His biological father was from Syria, though Jobs was raised by adopted parents.

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– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Pro-Syrian regime demonstrators gather in Damascus on Dec. 2 during a rally against sanctions by the European Union against the Syrian government. A banner of President Bashar Assad hangs from a building. Credit: Bassem Tellawi / Associated Press

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Wacky Apple iPhone cases for all ages

posted by Technology @ 9:00 AM
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opena

We have a saying in the media business: Find three examples of anything and you've got yourself a trend. And so, we feel confident in officially declaring that iPhone cases are most definitely getting more insane.

See below for the definitive proof.

1. Opena: When an iPhone case is also a bottle opener (pictured above).

How to explain the thinking behind Opena, the iPhone case that can be used to both protect one's iPhone, and…open bottles! The company's tag line is: "The world's first iPhone 4 case with a slide out bottle opener included in the back." Superfluous? Yes. But there is logic behind the madness. As the Australian founders of the company say on its website: "If you're anything like us you like to travel light. The one thing we always have on us is our phones. The one thing we always seem to be looking for is a bottle opener." And apparently people on the Internet agreed with them. The company reached 188% of its initial funding goal on the website kickstarter.com in less than a month.

Price tag: $39.95.

Ear-phone

2. Talk about an earful! 


What's not to love about this impractical, totally ridiculous, way-too-embarrassing-to-even-contemplate-using iPhone case? The name of the product — Through the Ears – is almost as cumbersome as the product itself. It's available for purchase at Urban Outfitters' website, where a sage and balanced reviewer who received it as a birthday present said that it was an instant and hilarious hit with friends and family, while also acknowledging that when it came time to actually use the phone, "those who were on the other end of my calls often could not hear me and I would end up removing the ear in order to speak to them, leaving my phone temporarily unprotected and eliminating the effect and purpose of the ear."

Price tag: $16.

Fisher_price_iphone_case

3. The iPhone as teether case.

A Fisher-Price iPhone case for baby? You know it! Search the Fisher-Price website and you'll find the "Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case" under baby items. According to the company the case is dribble- and drool-proof, and compatible with iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and the second, third and fourth generations of the iPod Touch. Fisher-Price also makes apps for baby.

Price tag: $15.

Looking for something slightly more practical? See more iPhone cases in the gallery below.

  • Flip-Flop Case from <a href="http://www.trait-tech.com/product/T-iP4G-1069H__flip-flop-cool-design-series-slipper-tpu-iphone-4-cover-case-purple.html">Trait Tech</a> ($1.99)
  • Hand iPhone Case from <a href="http://item.rakuten.co.jp/keitai/54-169995/?scid=af_ich_link_txt">Rakuten</a> ($64)
  • Cable-Knit Cashmere Sleeves from <a href="http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/catalog/prod.jhtml?itemId=prod143620083&eItemId=prod143620083&cmCat=search&searchType=MAIN&parentId=&icid=&rte=%252Fsearch.jhtml%253FNo%253D20%2526Ntt%253Diphone%2526_requestid%253D46934%2526N%253D0">Katrin Leuze</a> ($75)
  • Knuckles Case from <a href="http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/rebecca-minkoff-knuckles-iphone-4-4s-case/3232876?origin=category&resultback=6900">Rebecca Minkoff</a> ($58)
  • Universal Leather Clutch from <a href="http://www.case-mate.com/Universal-Kayla-Clutch-Combo/Case-Mate-Universal-Kayla-Clutch-Black-on-Black-Leather.asp">Kayla</a> ($50)
Flip-Flop Case from <a href="http://www.trait-tech.com/product/T-iP4G-1069H__flip-flop-cool-design-series-slipper-tpu-iphone-4-cover-case-purple.html">Trait Tech</a> ($1.99)

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– Deborah Netburn

Images from top to bottom: Opena, the iPhone case that is also a bottle opener, with image courtesy of Opena; Through the Ears giant ear iPhone case, with image courtesy of Through the Ears; and Fisher-Price's Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case, with image courtesy of Fisher-Price.

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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.

RELATED:

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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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