Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Does Apple have to kill the iPod?

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Will the touch turn into an iPhone, the Classic be killed by iCloud and the Shuffle and Nano be morphed into wearable/iWatches?


from Wikipedia, data to Q2 2011

Out of Apple’s incredibly successful product lines, the iPods are the only one dropping numbers and revenue (above, mostly to iPhone and iPad, not the competition). Analysts as well as Apple forecast iPod sales drops close to 20% this quarter over the year ago quarter, which is an acceleration of the previous year to year drop. Apple’s very nature is to only go after lucrative expanding markets so there could be some motivation to cut or revamp the iPod lineup.

There’s been some talk of Apple killing the iPod touch at next month’s iPhone 5 announcement, which happens to be smack dab on top of the release window of every iPod announcement of the past 5 years. The idea is that if a “cheap” iPhone is made to cost less than $300, what is the point of having an iPod touch alongside it only a few bucks cheaper? Indeed, having the iPhone event during the normally scheduled iPod event could indicate some sort of new branding/pairing or at the very least a new release schedule. Interestingly, we’ve heard there are global constraints on iPhone 4 happening globally, but not on iPods ahead of September…



One issue not often talked about the the iPod touch->iPhone transition: You’ll note that Apple designs its iOS products with combination 3G/GPS chips. So, whether it is an iPad or iPod, if it doesn’t have 3G, it doesn’t have real GPS. While Wifi or Cell-based Geo-location is helpful, it doesn’t give as accurate results in nearly as many places (or where there is no wireless). If Apple wants all of its mobile devices to have real GPS (which is becoming super-important for mobile), then it makes sense to throw in that 3G/GPS chip. At that point you have a 3G iPod touch…which is pretty much a cheap iPhone.




iPod refresh coming? – image taken at Walmart in the UK earlier this week

On the other hand, there is a lot of innovation that could still happen in the iPod touch specific areas. The product could get a bigger screen like the rumored high end iPhone 5 and will almost certainly get a faster processor, Making it a gaming monster. IT could morph into a better camera making it a 1080P camera/point and shoot replacement. Perhaps more importantly, iPods could see a significant price drop, to $150 or below.

A big price drop would open up Internet computing to a wider audience, especially in parts of the world where it takes months, not days or weeks, to save $150. I’ve always thought that $100 One Laptop per Child would be best exemplified in a small tablet or iPod type of device. Children have smaller fingers, better eyes, hold devices closer to their eyes and can carry iPods around easier than laptops. Compare a $200 iPod touch with the $200 OLPC – which one is better for kids in developing countries?

Looking at the chart above, however, the iPod brand is fading and the iPod touch is the most successful of the current iPod line. If Apple is to kill the touch, then it might want to axe the line altogether…

Classic:



The iPod Classic’s writing is on the wall. Literally-> . At the iPod event last year, Steve Jobs said that they were redesigning “every model” of iPod. Yet the iPod Classic didn’t even get a spec update (R&D=null). With the release of iCloud and Wifi synching, the Classic becomes even more of a relic. So the Classic is the easiest to do away with. Apple is probably just selling through last year’s stock at this point.

Shuffle/Nano

The Shuffle’s strength is its price tag. You can get into Apple’s music ecosystem for just $49. However, with Apple rumored to be offering a low-priced iPhone that could end up free with a carrier subsidy, that’s pretty much a moot point. Especially since if you are an Apple user, you’ll likely have an iPhone.

Also, a lower-priced Nano is what people who don’t want to lug an iPhone around really want. At $149-179, the current Nano is priced way too high (you can pick up a last generation iPod touch for the same price). Just like the current shuffle, the current Nano is probably not selling well (again, chart above).

But Apple is just one generation into the new Nano OS and there is still significant potential there. Apple scrapped the Portal Player derived OS last year when it went to the pared down Touch-OS based Nano, but it also killed the ability to make and watch video among other significant cuts. This device isn’t really an iPod as much as it is a wearable controller.

So where does Apple go from here? I’ve detailled what I think the nano can become with the addition of Bluetooth here but its worth watching the videos of the landscape again:




Even before it was launched, we knew people would be putting the nano on their wrists. Perhaps it is time for Apple to embrace the wrist wearing masses and to label this new iWear an ‘iWatch’? Thinner, bigger 3:2 screen and add Bluetooth while dropping to $99? How? Perhaps only by dropping the 8-16GB RAM requirements.



So, will Apple kill the iPod next week? In my opinion, very unlikely. But if they did, that’s how it would go down.

*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Apple’s 3D Display & Imaging patent could lead to Kinect-like gestures for future Apple TV

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Apple was just granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office (via Patently Apple) detailing 3D display & imaging technologies that could potentially lead to advanced Kinect-like navigation through performing gestures or manipulating holographic images within a virtual 3D space.

Essentially, this would allow you to perform hand gestures within a virtual space while your hands are displayed on a screen, allowing for precise manipulation of on-screen elements.

The patent’s inventor also notes that these imaging technologies could be used for presence detection, head tracking, and auxiliary display capabilities as well. We can’t help think of Kinect-like gaming for a potential future Apple TV, although the extent of the gestures and tech described in the patent goes well beyond current implementations.

As Patently Apple notes, the “virtual elements have no real physical embodiment” but could potentially take advantage of holographic technology that the same inventor outlined in a previous Apple patent. The application could also include audio feedback. For example a clicking sound when pressing a button within the virtual space would provide confirmation of the action.

Patently Apple explains:

“a user would place his or her left hand 120 and/or right hand 122 into the imaging volume or space. The hands would then be detected by the scanning beam. A left hand image 124 and a right hand image 126, respectively, would then be projected by the projection beam onto the display area to provide immediate feedback to the user concerning the relationship between the user’s hands and the various virtual objects within the imaging volume or space. Thus, as depicted, the user could grasp one of the knob images with the left hand by moving the left hand until the left hand image indicates that the selected virtual knob (not shown) represented by the corresponding knob image has been engaged. The knob could then be grasped and manipulated such as by rotating the knob.”
One can only imagine the implications this could have on games and business apps running on a future Apple TV. However, it appears the tech could be used as a global navigation method rather than geared towards a specific application. The patent even touches on potential uses for mobile devices such as an “interactive virtual keyboard” that would detect “finger locations and moves”.


*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Apple is working on an iOS ‘scanner’ app

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In response to the HP Print Control scanner app that we covered yesterday, a source at Apple told us that Apple is working on an app called “scanner” that uses iOS devices camera to act like a digital scanner. Clearly this is meant for higher iPhone class cameras rather than current iPad or iPod touch cameras.

Here’s what we’ve heard on how it works:

The user opens the app and holds the iPhone over the document or object they want scanned. They then snap a picture of it. Apple’s on-board software then resizes the image to ‘letter’ or business card, A4 or whatever depending on original document. Resizing includes aligning edges that get skewed by a sigle scan point rather than traditional scanning methods. The user can then manually change the size of the document or the use (biz card?)
On board software then separates images blocks from text.
This is where it gets murky. At last word, Apple was trying to do OCR both on-device and using alternative cloud methods for recognizing text. Third party Optical Character Recognition (OCR) vs. in house solutions were also being tested.
The resulting file can then be saved as a PDF, .Pages, exported to contacts (in the case of business cards for example).
Third party apps already exist in this field but word is that Apple wanted a polished in-house app that directly tied to its contacts and Pages apps. Apple has numerous patents in this field so they’ve been thinking about this for awhile.

It isn’t certain when or if this application will be released or if Apple will bundle it as part of its iOS, iWork Apps, or a separate app going forward.

Google does something similar to this with their Docs App in Android.

*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Samsung targets iOS devices in France as Apple puts brakes on Motorola until Google merger is completed

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This is a Samsung-branded Windows 8 tablet Microsoft is giving away to BUILD attendees today.

The latest in the ongoing patent saga involving Apple, Google, Motorola and Samsung includes an unexpected twist as Samsung goes after iPhone and iPad with a complaint filed before a Paris district court in July. The filing alleges infringement of Samsung’s three technology patents, reports AFP. The first hearing is expected in December of this year.

Meanwhile, patent expert Florian Müller notes on his blog FOSSPatents that Apple has filed motions to temporarily halt two Motorola lawsuits until Google completes its $12.5 billion acquisition, which shook the technology world last month. Put simply, Apple argues Motorola waived its rights to sue when it transferred patents to Google. Apple wrote:

To further its pending acquisition by Google, Motorola has surrendered critical rights in the patents-in-suit, such that Motorola no longer has prudential standing to pursue this action. According to the publicly-filed Merger Agreement, Motorola has ceded control of the most basic rights regarding the patents-in-suit
As you know, Google has transferred some of the Motorola patents to HTC, in addition to the ones acquired from Palm and Openwave Systems. HTC then used those patents to counter-sue Apple. Back to Apple vs. Samsung…

Financial Times today opined that Samsung needs to hit the reset button, predicting a licensing agreement of sorts provided Apple succeeds in blocking Galaxy products in the U.S. next month. Contrary to the reports, the publication thinks “Apple is restricted from taking its chip business to Samsung’s rivals in Taiwan because Samsung offers a complete package of components that other firms cannot match”. However, there are indications that Apple’s been lowering Samsung orders for some time and it’s widely believed the company is eager to take its silicon business to TSMC beginning next year.

*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Bentley concept integrates two iPads, one Mac mini, and an iPod touch

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Bentley used the Frankfurt Motor Show this week to unveil a new concept for their flagship Mulsanne luxury vehicle that integrates two iPads, two Apple wireless keyboards, one Mac mini, and an iPod touch as the heart of its entertainment system.



As you can see from the gorgeous images of the hand-crafted cabin, the Mulsanne concept packs in two retractable iPad workstations (equipped with full internet access) for rear passengers, with a wireless Apple bluetooth keyboard enclosed in a custom housing.





Bentley’s Alasdair Stewart said in a statement:

“Many customers use their time in the Mulsanne to keep on top of their business commitments or simply take a few moments to relax. This fully functioning concept highlights the Mulsanne’s potential to help busy executives to communicate effectively and quickly whilst travelling.”


The trunk houses a Mac mini that acts as a media center for a 15.6-inch HD display that drops down from the roof console, and also reportedly keeps the content on the two iPads in sync. An iPod touch sits on a built-in dock and acts as the control panel for the Rear Seat Entertainment and audio system, and the Mac mini’s Media Centre.

Of course this is just a concept as of yet, and we can only imagine the price tag, but it gives us a good idea of the automotive industry’s plans for Apple products down the road. Check out more images of the hand-crafted cabin after the break, which took Bentley’s craftsmen over 170 hours to create. Images courtesy of Dexigner.







*thanks 9to5mac*

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Thieves Steal $60,000 in iPads From Best Buy in 60 Seconds

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It took thieves just 60 seconds to steal $60,000 worth of iPads from Best Buy earlier today, reports naplesnews.

Lee Sheriff's Office deputies responded to an alarm activation at Best Buy located in Coconut Point, 8000 Mediterranean Drive, Estero, just before 5 a.m. They found the rear door pried open and merchandise on the ground.

The store's manager said an initial check showed a cage door pried open and 60 to 90 Apple iPads missing. The manager estimates the value to be about $60,000.00, according to reports.

The three men broke into the store by prying open the back door. Dressed in dark clothing with their heads covered and wearing gloves, they quickly searched for the iPads, loaded them into a bin and left before police arrived.




*thanks iclarified*

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BGR: iOS 5 Beta 8 due this Friday, Gold Master September 23?

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Boy Genius Report thinks it has nailed some important dates regarding pending hardware and software updates from Apple. Per their report, the eighth and final beta of iOS 5 is due this Friday, after which Apple will introduce a Gold Master build on or around September 23. Author Jonathan Geller explains:

We believe that build is what will be loaded onto the already-assembled iPhone 5 hardware currently waiting for final software in China. Apple will then request that carrier partners give technical acceptance to the Gold Master by October 5th if there are no issues with it.
It’s unclear at this stage what might happen should Gold Master fail to pass technical acceptance, but the publication speculates that “odds are it will still be loaded on the iPhone 5 at launch with a software update made available almost immediately following the device’s release”. Boy Genius Report is known for their deep connections with wireless companies in the United States.

Their story does jibe well with the September 30 pre-orders 9to5Mac first heard about mid-August. Today also brought us the news of a possible October 15 iPhone 5 release date from France Telecom/Orange CEO Stéphane Richard. Mac4Ever reports that the executive said in an interview with BFM Business radio station:

If I believe what we heard, the iPhone 5 will be released on October 15.
Note that October 15 is a Saturday, an unusual day for such a high-profile global product launch. Whichever the case, a growing number of leaks are now pointing at an imminent launch of Apple’s next handset. Just this past week brought us the first public image reportedly taken with the iPhone 5′s eight-megapixel camera and more clues of Sprint iPhone based on a blackout for a major phone launch for the first two weeks of October.

Said leaks arrived on the heels of the much-reported lost iPhone 5, a bizarre repeat of a similar incident last year when an Apple engineer mistakenly left an iPhone 4 prototype on a bar stool. The device found its way to a high-trafficked tech blog which revealed the exterior design of the iPhone 4 to the world weeks ahead of its formal introduction at WWDC 2010. Looks like iPhone 5 will be Apple’s most popular iPhone yet. More than 22 million iPhone 5s are being manufactured for the fourth quarter, market sources tell. In addition, the latest ChangeWave survey shows “unprecedented” demand for iPhone 5, per the below chart.




Chart courtesy of CNN Money’s Fortune blog. Click for larger.

*thanks 9to5mac*

Send us a story or tip @ TipsForLimerain.com@gmail.com and follow our pages for the latest limera1n, rubyra1n, and all tech stories, follow us on Twitter at @iphonepixelpost or @limerain_com
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- Posted using my iPhone 4