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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Otterbox Strength iPod iPhone Case Review

Telling one iPod or iPhone case from another can be a daunting task. After awhile, they all run together: working at the apple store, a woman once got upset on the phone. She asked if we had the plastic iPod case. "Which one?" I replied, innocently enough. "The plastic one!" she replied.

Anyhow, the Otterbox Strength case for the iPod nano and iPhone is certainly unique, from it's bright pink color, to its mixed soft/hard case hybrid, to the fact that sales of the Strength case help benefit a charity.

I had a chance to try out both cases. The video review is below, but the quick summary: very tough and very bright.

iPint gone from the apps store

In a move that will bring sadness to virtual drinkers everywhere, Apple App Store standout iPint is no longer available, at least not in the U.S. App store. We raise a virtual pint to one of the first games ever played for the iPhone here at TDL. We wish you well, and hope to see you back again soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dell, you can't be serious

Today brings word Dell plans on re-entering the portable music player market. Really, Dell? Did you learn anything from the failed Dell DJ? (pictured above) I remember nights spent during my Apple breaks heading over to the Dell kiosk to razz the staff, and pretend to actually be impressed with the DJ. They knew as well as everyone else what a dud it was: those same employees were in the Apple Store later to buy iPods.

Moving on... A few notes. First, just about everyone except Microsoft has thrown in the towel on competing directly with the iPod. Sure competition's good, but given their track record, I don't think anyone expects anything particularly innovative, or game-changing from Dell. Secondly, the future of mp3 players is blah at best. Apple, and the industry is moving on. People don't want to carry a music player and a cell phone. At long last, at least for phones and music, convergence is here. Why not start a competing home DVD delivery service to take on Netflix while you're at it?

It way too little, jaw-droppingly too late, Dell

Confirmed: Early Adopters Screwed Again

Well it looks like Apple's version of the Madden Curse has struck again. Seems like current batches of 3G iPhones are being plagued by random stress cracks. Both white and black phones appear to be affected, but easier to identify on the white units. These latest problems on top of the continuing MobileME nightmares and the activation issues at launch, make us very glad we stuck with our trusty first gen iPhone.

Hulu and Fancast: Apple TV alternatives

Maybe buying a box to connect to your TV AND then buying/renting TV shows on top of that initial expense makes sense to you. For 50+ years though, television has been viewed with commercial sponsorship, the trade off being that the shows themselves were free. If you're willing to put up with a few ads during your show, there are a few solid Apple TV alternatives. Today, we take a look at two: hulu.com and Fancast.com .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Avid reorganizes, plans more 3rd party openness

In a letter to customers today, Avid Technology CEO Gary Greenfield outlined changes coming to Avid, both in terms of strategy, and organization. While the letter didn't mention any kind of staff reductions, it does indicate a re-alignment within the company:

We have established a new corporate strategy designed to meet the continuously evolving needs of the marketplace and enable our customers to achieve success. Part of this strategy means realigning ourselves in a way that will further integrate a range of video and audio point products into more collaborative media production solutions. It also means gaining a deeper understanding of the workflow challenges customers face everyday and helping to address them with a mix of both Avid solutions -- and systems from third-party vendors.

The heart of our strategy and the focus for the immediate future come as a direct result of the many conversations I have had with customers:
Build competitive tools with differentiated performance, at the right price;

Translate customer feedback into flexible, reliable, high-quality solutions;

Become more "open," offering greater interoperability between Avid systems and third-party products;

Refresh our product lines more frequently; and

Better leverage the innovation from all areas within the company to advance the market competitiveness of our offerings.

Aligning Our Structure to the Strategy

A critical component to executing our strategy is to make sure that we have the right leadership team in place. As a result, we have made several changes to the senior management team. One of the most obvious changes to the structure is that the leadership team will no longer center around separate, independent business units. Instead, we are creating a much more integrated customer-centric structure that will facilitate our goal of operating as a single company. Here's a snapshot of the new leadership team:
We are combining all of our sales, marketing and service across the company into one common organization: Customer Operations - led by Kirk Arnold. Customer Operations will act as a single, integrated unit representing the majority of the customer facing teams - such as sales, marketing, product marketing and service - for all of the top-level markets we serve, including Video, Audio, and Education.

We are re-aligning our business units to have their full attention and focus on product development. These units will include a Video Business Unit - led by Paul Lypaczewski and an Audio Business Unit - led by Tex Schenkkan. Paul joins Avid with more than 25 years of deep industry experience, having held leadership positions at ATI and Autodesk Media and Entertainment, and Tex is assuming this leadership role having been the COO of the Audio group for the past two and a half years. Both the Video BU, which now includes all of our professional and consumer video lines and the Audio group which includes Digidesign, M-Audio and Sibelius, will be integrated teams comprised of both engineering and product management.

On the service and support side, we've created a new Customer Success organization, led by Beth Martinko. Customer Success is an integrated team chartered with our technical service and support efforts for all of our offerings - from professional to consumer, and video to audio.

We also have a new Chief Technology Officer - Dave Lebolt. Dave, who moves over from GM of the Audio Group, has very strong technical knowledge of our entire company's audio and video product portfolio. As we move forward, Dave will play a pivotal role in ensuring that we continue our history of innovation in the digital media space. He'll ensure that we set the right priorities, align our resources to deliver new and emerging product solutions, and deliver an exceptional user experience that enhances the way our customers work in the future.

We have created an Administrative Operations organization - led by Ken Sexton. Ken has been overseeing our Finance, HR, IT and Legal functions since he joined the company earlier this year. Ken's group will now include Operations (e.g., manufacturing, quality assurance, strategic supply chain, etc.) for all of our lines - from professional to consumer, and video to audio.

Our Corporate Development organization will continue to examine Avid's growth strategy with respect to addressing industry trends through acquisition, third-party partnerships and other strategic business development opportunities.

We'll see if this means a more competitive Avid in the consumer video space, a threat to Final Cut, o rnot much at all.

The Forgotten Mini

Dell announced today a new line of small, affordable and eco-friendly desktops under the Studio Hybrid name. Yes the name is horrible, but these little desktops pack decent specs and are sexy as hell. Call us crazy, but we even like the wood grain model. A direct comparison to Apple's Mac Mini can easily be made, and it makes us wonder why Apple has abandoned its little fellow. The mini was suppose to be an affordable desktop aimed at PC converts. It was to compete with and out sexy the lowend offerings from beige box PC manufactures. Instead it's been pushed aside and forgotten, and now outclassed by of all companies Dell.

Media tries to create bluetooth scare

Can your phone be hacked over bluetooth? Probably. Is that going to happen while you're going down the road at 70mph? Probably not. That didn't stop msnbc from putting together this scare piece on bluetooth hacking. Not sure what the fact that smartphones have wifi has to do with bluetooth? We're not sure either. I guess the safety message is, if you're on the highway and someone next to you is wildly trying to enter passcodes, while staying within 20 feet of your headset, well they might be a hacker. The report never quite explains how this whole data stealing scheme works, or even manage to find a victim to interview. Invoking bluetooth fright is enough. Enjoy:

TDL Live This week: (7/28)

It's a busy week in Apple news and rumors. TDL Live has you covered:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Box Office iPhone App Review

Get your movie tickets right from your phone. Check showtimes, get directions. Crazy times we're livin' in. Crazy times. Here's a look at BoxOffice for the iPhone:

Some Apple repairs are best left to the experts

All those shiny Apple products are great, but when something goes wrong, it's not always best to crack open the case, and start poking around. To keep you, our loyal reader safe, we present the Apple repairs you should never try on your own:

Ads are coming to the iPhone

According to this fine blog, Ad Mob is bringing ads to the iPhone. GREAT:

This week, AdMob, a San Mateo, Calif.-based mobile advertising firm, launched a marketplace for ads on the iPhone 3G that includes such big brands such as Ford, Electronic Arts, Universal Pictures, Land Rover and Jaguar. AdMob's aim: Serve up a new kind of engaging mobile ad that will spur more sales of advertisements targeting mobile phones.

Read the full entry here.

Latest Google-killer a dud

I don't know which is more fruitless: trying to create an iPod/iPhone "killer", or a Google "killer." Today marked the public launch of cuil.com (pronounced cool. Quick tip: if you have to tell people you're cool, you're not.) Cuil is a search engine created by former Google employees. Don't get too excited about this being the next big thing though.

Putting cuil through its paces, reveals an engine far less than ready for prime time. We tested using search terms near and dear to our heart. First, "the digital lifestyle". Our site does not appear in the first "page" of results. I use quotes on page because rather than present the results in a traditional site name/description list, cuil shows a small paragraph of info from the site. The end result being that you have to click through several pages to see as many default results as Google. This wouldn't be a problem if the top results were actually what you're looking for.

Next we tried a search for "Apple news rumors". While we love our friends at macrumors.com. I'm not sure that having 8 of the top ten results point to different subsections of one site helps anyone. Long ago, Google perfected the "more results from this site" option. Cuil should do the same. They intend to make it easier to find information, rather than websites, but in our quick tests, cuil did neither.

Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of room for improvement in the world of search. As you know, our site thrives on Apple news and rumors, but other than this post, is rare that we actually use those words in posts. Once someone creates an algorithm that can look at a posting on a MacBook Touch, and know that's an Apple rumor, we'll be getting somewhere. Chances are, Google will figure this out long before someone else. Trying to beat them at this point is like setting out to create a "Kleenex killer." Google = search. Period.

Former Motorola Exec Tries for the Best of Both Worlds

Looks like former Motorola exec, Michael Fenger, tried his best to have his cake and eat it too.  His former employer was not so keen on Fenger violating his non-compete agreement, especially since Fenger hopped the fence to join Apple’s iPhone  division. 

            Motorola apparently offered Fenger millions of dollars, stock options and restricted stock units as part of his non-compete agreement with Motorola, which furthermore stated that he would not join a competitor for at least two years after leaving Motorola.  However, Fenger took the Vice President of Global iPhone sales position less than a month after leaving his position at Motorola and of course after he had already accepted the cushy non-compete deal from Motorola.

            Beyond Fenger violating his strictly bound non-compete agreement with Motorola, the new Apple exec also hired for Apple two Motorola employees who have access to Motorola’s trade secrets and information on customer relationships. 

            Motorola’s attorneys have urged the court to bar Fenger from working for Apple or a competitor for at least two years, as stated in his non-compete agreement.  Motorola further demands damages in the form of repayment of stock options from signing the non-compete.

            As always, the ending to this story is in the hands of the judicial system.

 This blog was based on information found at reuters.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A trip to the antiques store, circa 2048

This past weekend, I made my way into an area antique store. No, I don't normally trek there, but from time to time it's fun, especially to re-connect with things from my childhood. "Hey, I didn't think anyone else had that Donkey Kong tabletop arcade game! Look, there's that Pete's Dragon read-along record!"

It struck me though that the antique store of the future will be quite different. Where now people buy up phonographs and tube-type radios, either for their visual appeal, or sound characteristics, will the same be true of iPods? "Hey, there's a 2nd gen 10gb iPod!" While the nerds among us will connect in the same way, there will most likely be far less interest in setting an iPod in the corner of a room than say, a player piano, or Edison phonograph.

And what about media? A record player today that still functions can be paired with albums of the same vintage. Obviously there won't be many mp3's lying around in the shop. And today there are walls and walls of VHS tapes. As more media goes digital, what will fill the void? Will the market of used tech, films, and music dry up completely?

After all, it's highly unlikely a 40 year-old iPod will power on (the battery will have given up long ago) and it won't play nice with the latest and greatest audio codecs either.

Does all of this technology simply become disposable? One iPod replaced by another, replaced by another? Or thinking about toys, what about the curious case of the Webkinz. For the uninitiated, one of the most recent toy crazes is Webkinz. Webkinz are stuffed animals, who come along with a code to use online to build an entire virtual world for your pet. Once those Webkinz servers are shut off, in say ten years, does part of your childhood disappear too? While you'll be able to buy the same stuffed animal at a yard sale or flea market, you'll never get back the virtual world you created.

In some ways, this could be good news. The overall theme here is a reduction in the amount of "stuff" for sale. That doesn't necessarily mean a reduction in the amount of stuff produced.

What will the antique store of the future look like?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who Watches the Watchmen? We Do!

To coincide with the debut of the Watchmen movie trailer, Warner Brothers released what they are calling a "motion comic" on the iTunes Store.

You might remember TDL discussed the possibility of comic books for the iPhone and iPod a few month ago. Now this isn't exactly what we had in mind, but we do think it's fantastic.
Warner Bros. has literally brought the panels of the original graphic novel to life. The effect is very similar to the Marvel Super Heroes cartoons that debuted in the 1960s, except with higher production values.

Do yourself a favor and get part one FREE today on iTunes.

Now if only Warner would give The Dark Knight Returns the same treatment.

Get ready to ditch multiple cable boxes. Maybe

Several industry giants, including Sony and Samsung have tentatively embraced WHDI. What's this WHDI of which we speak? In short, it's a wireless protocol intended to move HD video from TV to TV wirelessly around the house. Yes friend, imagine one cable box to get your HD channels anywhere in the house. At least that's the theory. Unanswered questions include how many different channels can be watched at once, and what happens when more house have these systems: What about interference? Apple is not part of the consortium, which isn't huge surprise since it's focused on TV manufacturers, and as of today, there's no "TV" in the AppleTV.

But for those in the Apple world, the question becomes will Apple products play nice? Will you be able to have an AppleTV in one room, and watch the content in other rooms without additional Apple TVs/Airport base stations/MAcs/etc.? This might just mean an extra box after all.

Checkword for iPhone Review

If you're not a Scrabble player, you can ignore this post. But if you are, then Checkword could greatly streamline your search to the age-old debate, can I use this word?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

And another thing: TDL Live

Our quarterly earnings show wasn't the only live show Monday night. We still had plenty of other Apple news and rumors to cover in TDL Live. Enjoy!

Apple has another record quarter. Sell! Sell! Sell!

Apple does it again, showing a 31% increase in profit, year over year. And how does the market react? The stock fell more than $17 in after-market trading. I would challenge you to find any other computer or electronics company experiencing double digit growth consistentlt, year-over-year, every single quarter.

What would it take for Wall Street to treat this stock with a little respect? The stock's current value virtually ignores the iPhone as a revenue generator. Meanwhile companies in other sectors are rewarded for posting losses that weren't as bad as expected.

It just doesn't make any sense. We could go on for half an hour about this, and actually we did:

Product Review: JBL OnStage IIIp Speaker system

(Speaker reviews are a tough thing to do on video. After all, once the sound as been picked up by a camera microphone, and then compressed for the web, there's really not much you'll get out of it. That's why our policy is to not play the speakers during the review, unless there's an audible issue with the system you need to hear. Now then, on with our review.)

JBL has been selling it's OnStage line of speakers for several years now. The OnStage IIIp (p for portable) continues in the traditional UFO/donut shape. The biggest selling point for these speakers is there multi-directional, room-filling sound in a tiny package. They can be taken portably with 6 AA batteries. Other than the lack of a rechargeable battery, and a slightly high msrp of $169, they're a fine small speaker set.

But why make you read anymore? Here's the video review:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Apple Earnings are out. We'll break it down live tonight

Apple just announced their quarterly earnings, with the best June quarter in history. $7.46 billion in revenue, quarterly profit of $ 1.07 billion, or $1.19 per share. If you want a full breakdown of the numbers, join us at 8:30PM ET tonight for our live Quarterly Earnings Show, immediately followed by TDL Live at 9PM ET.

Apple shareholders deserve succession plan

An article in today's New York Post again calls into question the status of Steve Jobs' health. The real question though isn't whether Apple's leader is sick, but rather why won't Apple publicly announce a succession plan?

Even if there was no reason to be concerned, and there certainly is given Jobs' previous bout with pancreatic cancer, it's only fair to shareholders to know what Apple's contingency plan may be. The company rides high on its connection to its leader. Buf if Jobs were unable to lead Apple, just think of what would happen to the current stock value.

Jobs eventual departure via retirement or other means, doesn't have to be a sinking of the company though. Apple could start minimizing the risk now by succinctly explaining the succession plan. And if that's too much to ask, let's at least start to hear more about the people behind these great products. Many, many moons ago, some of the first Apple products shipped with the autographs of the developers inside. That tradition has long since passed, and in its place, thousands of Apple engineers toil in anonymity.

Yes, there are strategic reasons for this. Other companies would jump at the chance to steal away Apple engineers. How much would Nokia pay to pick up a few members of the iPhone team? However, the payback to shareholders - knowing that the success of Apple's products is the result of the input of many creative people, would go a long way toward calming investor fears.
It's been a great strategy by Apple to keep product details in the dark as long as possible. People however, are not products. Shareholders deserve to know that their investment in the company is more valuable than the participation of one person in the company

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Psystar Want to Be Like Mike? Apple Files Suit Against Mac Cloning Company

Doesn’t everybody want to be like Mike?  Psystar sure wants to be like Apple.  The Miami-based company has been making unauthorized Mac clones since April.  Psystar began selling the clones based upon their finding’s that they could make and sell the clones for one-quarter to one-half of Apple’s “real deal.”

No matter the money-saving opportunity, Psystar’s actions visibly infringe upon Apple’s copyrights on their products.  Apple’s licensing rules clearly state that any installation of its own operating systems onto third-party hardware is in open violation. Apple also claims that Psystar’s actions harmed the Apple image by misrepresenting Apple products to consumers.  Included in the claims against Psystar were also illegally copying, modifying and redistributing some of Apple’s products.  Further, Apple is seeking an order to have all Apple clone products sold by Psystar, recalled.

While the Psystar partnership claims that Apple has no suit, I would beg to differ.  With copyrighted rules for Apple’s products, Psystar would have to first pay for licensing from Apple to sell the products.  Namely, without Apple signing off or getting a cut on the sold clones, the Mac clones are in violation of Apple’s copyrights. 

Maybe it’s best to leave the Mac-making to the professionals…

Blog based on information from www.informationweek.com

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blip Solitaire iPhone Review

"Hey, it's free." And so it's been said so many times in the trusty iTunes App store. Today's app falls into that category. It's the freebie, Blip Solitaire:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This fall, the App Store goes from potential to promise

Yes friends, by October, we're predicting the end of four different flashlight apps, and the beginning of something far more advanced. Think word document editing, maybe iPhoto-esque photo editing, and licensed, cool games. Need proof? From Crunchgear:

Pandora iPhone App

Want radio for your iPhone? Look no further, Pandora is what you want. Pandora is your radio station customized based on the music you like. You tell Pandora the artists or songs you like and it will customize a station based on your likes. While the songs are playing you can give them a thumbs up, telling Pandora to play more songs like that. Or you can give them a thumbs down, telling Pandora not to play that song or songs like it.

I was happily surprised to find that Pandora works over EDGE. I had no problem streaming my station with a full EDGE signal. I'm confident I would not have had as much success with a weaker signal.

Pandora also has a computer based portal at www.pandora.com. The App is free and I think you'll really like it.

Five quick ways to make the Apple App Store better

Yes, people are still lining up for the iPhone. And yes, the App store holds wonders for them once they get home with those shiny new phones. The App Store isn't perfect though. Here's our look at five seemingly simple/quick changes Apple could make to make the experience even better:

1. Require an actual support contact. While every listed application has a support link, in doing a thorough check of all the apps, quite frequently the support link either points to "coming soon" page, a bad url, or a page that gives you no means of contacting the developers. How about a required support email on the application info page?

2. Disclose if an app requires/is a subscription. The Major League Baseball app has gotten a lot of attention. Less noticed is the fact that the app is good for this year, making it more or less, a subscription service, that needs to be re-purchased each year. Other apps that are free, are tied to subscription services, and there's no uniform way of knowing this before downloading.

3. Ability to gift/try Apps. Our hunch is app gifting will be coming to the store soon. It would be great though to make it easy for developers to give us a 7-day trial of their apps. Just because the average price of the titles is low, is no reason to buy blind.

4.Uniform handling of preferences.Some apps place preferences in the application. Some place new prefs in the system preferences screen. How about a more consistent way of dealing with this. And speaking of preferences, here's a bonus improvement for the 2.0 software: Let me select "Always allow" for the location information for the camera. I don't want to press two buttons each time to take a picture.

5. Developers describe data retention.Some of these apps allow amazing amounts of personal info on the phone. Everything from medical records, to credit card passwords and banking info. What isn't always clear is exactly where this information is stored: Are passwords on the phone, or somewhere in the internet cloud? Does the app have it's own passcode to access the info?

These simple fixes can build on the potential of the App store, and frankly make the experience more Apple-like.

Credit where it's due: Apple does the right thing with MobileMe

If it hasn't popped up in your email yet, Apple has announced a 30-day extension for .mac/MobileMe customers due to issues with the switchover. Details are also in a Knowledge Base Article. Many people voiced frustration with the transition, and on TDL Live Monday, we mentioned the whole switchover felt very "un-Apple" given they knew exactly how many people needed to be switched over.

Having said all that, considering that email, at least though the mail client was available throughout the switchover, it's surprising (and refreshing) that Apple is giving this extension. It's especially surprising considering the far louder (and more heavily covered) outcry over iPhone activation issues. With the iPhone, some people were left without any cell service for hours. You could argue that's a bigger inconvenience than not being able to upload new pictures of Aunt Lucy's birthday party.

Let's see if Apple has anything in mind to compensate for the iPhone launch hiccups.

5 days in and lines continue at the Apple Store

Good Morning! 7:45 in the AM here on the East Coast, and lines continue outside of a Philadelphia area Apple Store. As of my last count there are 30 people in line, and more are lining up by the minute. It remains unknown how many or of what capacity phones are going to be available today. These folks are going to be in line for the next two hours in the hope that they'll be one of the few to have this phone within the first week. One person I spoke to confirmed they've been in line since 6:00am. If you want one of these phones . . . get in line EARLY.

Did you wait in line before store opening? What time did you get there? Did you get the phone you wanted? Let us know.

I'll report again tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

iPhone! Get your iPhone!

Want an iPhone? How much would you pay. According to a quick ebay search people are willing to pay a pretty penny for one, between 3 and 4 times the purchase price. Almost makes me want to take a day off from work just to wait in line at my local store to flip the phones on ebay.

What I'd like to know is how people are selling phones without contracts seeing you need to activate in store? It should be a difficult proposition to purchase a 3G iPhone without a contract. Perhaps these are phones from day 1 after buyers were sent home after the activation outtage? I'll continue to keep an eye on the ebay scene . . . in the meantime, if you are selling a phone without contract on ebay, please let us know your secret ;)

Look at this whopper....

More E3 Bombs

Not to be out done by Microsoft, Sony announced its own movie download and rental service for the PS3 today. Oh and btw the service launches tonite!
How long before Apple TV follows in the footsteps of the Newton?
Maybe Apple needs to start taking their "hobby" seriously.

Lines continue at the Apple Store

It's 7:45am and I'm outside of my local (Philadelphia Area) Apple Store. The store doesn't open until 10am yet there are already a dozen or so standing in line anxiously awaiting the store open just over 2 hours from now to get their hands on a shiny new 3G iPhone. It's unknown when the shipment will arrive and how many phones will be on it. These folks don't even know what capacity phones will be available. Never the less, they wait with anticipation to be some of the lucky few to have a phone in the first few days of the launch event. I'm going to assume lines like the one I'm witnessing are beginning to form across the country. Any guess as to when they'll sell their 2nd million phones??

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baseball for iPhone Review

I had a chance to take a look at the great free application from iPhone App store, called Baseball. No, it's not a game, it's a compendium of all the key stats of every major leagues baseball player ever. Did I mention it's free? While there's nothing groundbreaking in the presentation of the app, and no eye candy to speak of, it's a great look at how an incredibly useful application for a very specific audience can be created.

Have a look:

E3 Megaton

One of the many things Microsoft announced today at E3 was a partnership to bring the entire Netflix catalog to the Xbox360. We thinks this is huge. As cool as Apple TV is, it's adoption has been rather slow. The reason for this is partially due to the fact that Apple TV doesn't do a whole lot other than stream media from iTunes, yet costs almost as much as a 360. Maybe it's time Apple rethought their strategy with Apple TV. If the money is in selling the content, how about partnering with Sony and building an iTunes Store on the PS3? Because the space under our HDTV is limited and we don't see much need for an Apple device right now.

Typhoon Touch Technologies Crashed Down Hard on Apple and Others Regarding Touch Screens

My week would not be complete if there wasn’t an Apple patent lawsuit to report on.  Two weeks ago, Typhoon Touch Technologies added Apple along with Toshiba, Palm, Nokia, LG and other big name tech companies to a lawsuit, filed last year originally against Dell, regarding touch-screen technology.  Apple was added, namely for it’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices which both use the patented technology.  The lawsuit alleges the previously named companies and several others for violating the Typhoon’s 1995 and 1997 patents, which both broadly encompass all technology related to touch-screen devices and uses.  Basically, Typhoon Technologies claims to hold the rights to any use of touch-screen technology, which means that any company currently using this technology without their permission is in violation of the patent.  It may mean that any company currently using or wanting to use this technology will have to ask for permission through licensing and pay royalties for the rights.  Seems like Typhoon could sit back and reel in payday after payday.

            As with many trends that are seen and set through jury trials, the represented public may decide that such a broadly worded patent may not have originally meant to encompass so many different types of products, considering it was developed over a decade ago.  Apple has the iPod touch and the iPhone, but let’s look at Nokia who has the N810 Internet Tablet and Palm’s Treo not to mention other notebooks and smart phones that include the revolutionary technology.  Will this mean that Typhoon Touch Technology has a hold on the entire market for touch devices?  This seems like it may be narrowing the scope on liberties that companies may take to revolutionize and keep up with the ever-changing times.  A jury may decide that to rule in favor of Typhoon would be to give a golden key to the company, and instead they may award in defendants’ favor as it may be in the public’s best interest to narrow in on what was the original patent’s use.  Otherwise, companies may be reluctant to continue to develop devices that use the touch technology if they are discouraged through the royalty payments to Typhoon.  The jury may also decide that Typhoon as originator of the technology holds an all access pass for every other company and therefore may require licensing and payment of royalties for the technology’s use. 

            No matter what the validity of the case, Typhoon’s legal department reports that they could generate steady revenue by having royalties paid from the above-mentioned companies and several others in order to produce the devices that use the touch technology. 

            Typhoon is asking for not only financial damages but an injunction against the products in the stream of commerce and the companies involved must pay a “reasonable royalty” every three months in order to use the technology on said produced devices.

Information on this blog based on an article from www.appleinsider.com




Saturday, July 12, 2008

AOL Radio for iPhone Video Review

Following up on Jamie's thoughts on AOL Radio, here's our video walk through/review of the app:

Friday, July 11, 2008

You Must Download!

The AOL Radio App is a game changer. Goodbye Sirius, goodbye XM, see ya later HD radio. Listen to radio stations from all over the country. Tag songs for later download. Listen to sports broadcasts all for free. Get this app, your iPhone will love you for it.

Something that maybe the Zune did right

As iPod touch and iPhone users stare at the wonders in the new app store, I can't help but wonder if maybe the masterminds behind the Zune may have been onto something.. Hear me out...

One of the most panned features of the Zune is the ability to "squirt" songs (up to three) to another user. They can then listen to those songs in a limited fashion (very limited). Now that the iTunes App store is open, I can't help but notice one major flaw: there's no way to preview apps before buying.

What if a friend downloaded a program they said you had to buy, and you could try it on your iPod/iPhone for a limited time first? It would be a way for app developers and Apple to generate more interest(and revenue) in good apps, and give users a "social" way to try programs before buying them.

So whattya say.. Let's join "the social."

iTunes back up, get in now!

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! The iTunes servers are playing nice once again, so if you've been waiting to get your phone activated, do it now!

While iTunes problems persist, the line continues

This is a picture taken about 45 minutes ago outside the Apple Store at the King of Prussia mall outside of Philadelphia. Despite activation issues, people are still in line (well why get out of line now?) in the hundreds to get the iPhone

Keeping it in perspective...

from The Joy of Tech by Nitrozac and Snaggy...

I came across this clever comic while surfing the web...and think it's a perfect way to remind us all to keep Apple's creations in perspective. I love shiny new toys as much as the next girl, but an actual retirement plan sounds pretty cool too.

Just saying.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Monkey Ball Quick Impressions

Well it's no surprise that Sega's Super Monkey Ball is already the top downloaded application on iTunes. We find the game to be fun, full featured and addictive. This isn't your father's cell phone game, it's a console experience in your pocket. Btw did we mention it's hard as hell? The tilt mechanic works extremely well, but there is a slight learning curve. We're still stuck on Monkey Island on easy. Be sure to check it out when the 2.0 firmware become official. Okay now back to the monkeys.......

MobileMe: Not quite ready

Well gang, I made it to the login page (screen shot above) and successfully logged in. I was able to access email and send a message, view the gallery, and access my iDisk. Interestingly enough, after logging in you're placed on the iDisk page. Why not the mail page?

I was unsuccessful in getting to my calendar, address book, or my account settings and after several minutes of trying to access the other areas of MobileMe I was logged out. Now attempts to access www.me.com are redirected to apple.com/mobileme. Everything looked pretty slick for the few minutes that I had access...

This is very un-apple to let a product out before it's ready. Have you had more success?

Stuck at work, and have questions about the App store?

With the weekday morning launch of the App store, we know not everyone can check it out right now. What questions do you have? Post below, and we'll do our best to get the answers.

The biggest take away from iFixit's 3g iPhone take apart

The folks at ifixit.com flew to New Zealand to be among the first to get an iPhone 3G, and definitely among the first to tear one apart. Looking over their findings so far, perhaps the biggest surprise is the battery is NOT soldered in the phone. This should make battery swap far easier, although still off limits to the end user.

App store: Initial Impressions

(join us for live video at noon on thedigitallifestyle.tv)
We're looking around the App Store awaiting the "official" firmware 2.0 release. Couple of things stick out as we look around:
1. There aren't quite as many free apps as we had hoped (perhaps 150)
2. There's a tag for "objectionable content" intended for audiences 12 or over. The first app we've seen with this tag allows you to basically see a beer on the screen. That's about it.
3. Some of these titles look amazing. The iPhone should be on its way to truly being a third platform.

Again, join us at noon, when we hope to have live video of the apps.

App store is up... Reviews in a bit

It's the classic "title says it all" situation. Look for App reviews (and live video on the channel) shortly!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We'll miss you, iCards...

We send our last iCard ever, to you, dear readers...

The real news in the latest marketshare numbers

When the June Net Applications Marketshare report was released, there was a great deal of discussion in the Apple World about the Mac approaching 8% of operating system share in the world. That wasn't the real news though.

Windows was at #1 with 90.89%, Mac in second with 7.94%, and Linux in third with a surprisingly low .8% Look at number four though. In just one year on the market, the iPhone accounted for .16% of marketshare according to Net Applications measurements. (Net Applications' methods are another discussion, but let's say relatively speaking these numbers are accurate) The iPhone OS, following the 3G phone launch could easily become the third most popular operating system by this time next year, if not sooner.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TDL Live (7/7/08)

Maybe you were too busy catching up on all the iPhone posts around the web. Maybe it was a post 4th of July slump. Maybe you had laundry to do. Whatever the reason, if you missed TDL Live Monday night, here you go:

Exclusive: Apple using campus flyer campaign, undercutting resellers?

Anyone who's been to a college campus has probably seen the sea of posters and flyers posted for things like Semester at Sea, Roommate Wanted, used textbooks, etc. Well now Apple, known for classy, minimalist ads has entered the campus flyer fray. The flyer pictured above is from the campus of The University of Pennsylvania. It is a professionally made flyer (with perfect perforations, pre-scored) intended to mimic the look and style of those other signs around campus. Each tearoff directs you to www.apple.com/go/campusoffer which then re-directs to the Back to School offer on Apple's site. If you can't see it, iPod cleverly features the facebook app. Also in the bottom right is the marketing material number: L370509A-US

While Apple is certainly free to try this type of marketing, it is troubling because Penn also has its own computer store, offering Apple education discounts. Let alone the fact that on many college campuses, you are forbidden from posting these without permission. Did Apple seek permission first? Who posted them? How many campuses are these on? And how effective can they be in the summer, when most students are away anyhow?

Apple did not reply to a request for comment sent yesterday.

Interview with Brian Greenstone from Pangea Software

Brian Greenstone's Pangea Software has been an Apple game developer for years. And at this year's WWDC, Greenstone took the stage to demo his ports of Enigmo and Cro-Mag Rally for the iPhone. We had a chance to ask Greenstone some questions about the development process, and the current state of Mac Gaming:

What advantages do you have from a development standpoint given your history of Apple software creation?
Brian Greenstone, Pangea Software: I think any Mac programmer has a great advantage since the iPhone is basically running OS X. I haven't clouded my brain with Microsoft API's, so the iPhone is really not much different than what I've been used to doing for the last 15 years. I ran into a similar thing many years ago when I got into doing Super Nintendo games back in 1991. The Super Nintendo ran on the 65816 processor... the same processor that was in the Apple ][gs. There were probably only a dozen game programmers who knew the 65816 at the time, so that made getting a job doing SNES work a breeze!

Why haven't you developed any titles for the current iPod game store?
Honestly, it seemed like a waste of time. I wouldn't have been able to do much beyond Tetris and Pong, so it seemed best to wait for the iPhone where I could really have fun.

Can you develop for both platforms (iPhone OS X and OS X) simultaneously, or will it require independent programming?
That depends on the game. If the game isn't too iphone-specific then yes, but if the game is designed around the accelerometer and touch interface then it may not be possible to do a Mac version at all. Generally, however, both versions of a game can share 95% of their code.

What's the overall state of app development for the Mac right now? Do you think there will be a "halo effect" from iPhone programmers creating Mac OS X titles as well?
That's the theory, but we'll see. Right now, game development on the Mac is dead, and has been for some time, but this has the potential to revitalize it. Causal gaming on the Mac is pretty big, but nothing of any real importance is being done any more - just ports of the AAA titles from the PC. 10-15 years ago the Mac was the premiere game development platform because of it's graphics capabilities, but the market moved to consoles and the PC some time ago.

What are some unique challenges with developing for the iPhone?
The only real challenge has been learning Cocoa and Objective-C. Neither of there were designed with performance-oriented game developers in mind, but rather they were designed assuming a document-based application. So, this has presented some challenges, but they've all been figured out. Many people are intimidated by Objective-C, and they should be, but it's actually a much better language than say C++. It just has a very steep learning curve.

Mobile gaming has existed in different forms for many years. Do you think iPhone games will look/feel like existing mobile gaming titles, or will this be something completely different?
The iPhone is not really a typical "mobile platform". I like to think of it as a "portable iMac" because it really has the performance similar to a 233mhz iMac or thereabouts. So, it is possible to do serious games on it - at least games that would have been considered serious 8 years ago. Plus, that awesome 320x480 screen makes low-rez games look great, so even old stuff is better on an iPhone.

Tell us about your announced titles for the iPhone (Enigmo/Cro-Mag) what are some of the changes/additions the iPhone allowed you to bring to these titles?
Enigmo was the first game that I ported over to the iPhone. It only took about 3 days to get it running, and then I spend another month tweaking it and making it perfect. It is a physics-based puzzle game where you have to move drums and slides around to make falling water droplets get into their containers. Converting the game from mouse-based to touch-based was very easy, and the game is actually better as a touch-based game. Apple liked it enough to give it the "Best iPhone Game" award. Cro-Mag Rally was also very easy to port, and it is a 3D caveman racing game. It uses the accelerometer for steering, and this required a lot of work to make right. It was easy to get the steering working, but since that changed the games dynamics I had to spend a lot of time tweaking the physics and such.

Can you tell us about other Pangea titles that might be moving to the iPhone (OttoMatic? bugdom?)
I don't want to do any more ports. From here on out everything will be original, and I have ideas for 4 new games, but I'm waiting to see how things go before starting anything.

Does the App Store model do away with the need for publishers, or "middle men" between programmer and consumer?
No, it only gets rid of the distributor. There still needs to be a publisher for marketing, tech support, etc. It doesn't remove the publisher from the loop, it just changes the way publishers do their distribution. The App Store does make it possible for individuals to enter the market alone, but without marketing and PR they're not going to make any money.

If you could change one thing about the iPhone, either for the end user, or developers, what would it be?
My only beef is the annual cost of ownership (~$1000 / year). I actually don't use an iPhone - I use an iPod Touch. My cell phone is a $10 Virgin Mobile phone that only costs me about $6.50 a month for more minutes than I ever use. So, I use that as my cell, and my Touch for everything else, but if the phone didn't cost so much to use I'd get it.

Many people (myself included) first discovered Pangea through the bundling of your titles with G3 iMacs. Any chance we could see something similar with the iPhone?
Hehe, I wish. Nope, I don't see Apple bundling any games on the devices.

You're in the small group of people to take the stage at WWDC. What was that experience like?
That was a lot of fun, and I've made a lot of new friends from that. It was a lot of preparation for those 3 minutes of fame, but well worth it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

July Apple Fantasy Merger: Google

(Each month we weigh the pros and cons of a particular potential merger for Apple. Please note the "fantasy" part of this speculation: Many times the mergers mentioned couldn't or wouldn't be realistically possible. But put all that aside and enjoy this month's edition of Fantasy Merger.)

Last month, we talked about the wonders that would come from an Apple/Nintendo merger. This month, we dare you to dream of iTunes libraries searchable by lyrics, AdWord supported iWeb documents, and web-based OS X. Yes friends, imagine if you will, an Apple/Google merger. Clearly this month's merger leans more toward the fantasy side than others.

Rather than the advantages for each company, the real question is, what would happen to the rest of the tech industry? Would the Dept. of Justice allow such a merger between an internet powerhouse, and a hardware manufacturer? Could the two companies combined maintain Apple's legendary secrecy while also maintaining Google's "do no evil" philosophy? And what would happen to Microsoft? Beyond spending billions of dollars to oppose the merger, what would become of them in a world in which the "most advanced" operating system would be available to all?

Of course both companies are doing fine on their own thanks, and would have little interest in the other beyond their working partnership now. Still, once a month, we stop to wonder, what if...

Would this make you get braces?

When I was a kid, my parents (rightly) wanted me to get braces. They took me to an orthodontist whose reverse psychology changed the path of my life. "I can't put braces on a kid who doesn't want them. If you're not ready to have your teeth all straight, I won't do it. Are you ready?" "Nope," was my reply. And just like that, the whole thing was over.

Driving to the TDL headquarters today though, I was struck by this billboard:

Would this have changed my mind? How about you? And would a shuffle be enough, or would it take a iPod touch to numb the pain?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ask Before you Take: Apple sues iPod Mechanic Website for Illegal Use of Name and Fraud

            The iPod is so popular that everyone wants a piece of the pie.  Too bad the name is trademarked.  Nicholas Woodhams of Michigan ventured into a home-run business to “repair” iPods, using the name iPod Mechanic for his company and website, without Apple’s permission, which is in clear violation of trademark laws.  Apple found Woodhams iPod Mechanic website business in 2006 and asked him to discontinue the use of the trademarked name.  Woodhams apparently struck a deal with Apple and would discontinue using the name by January of 2007.  While Woodhams adhered to changing the website domain from iPodmechanic.com to imechanic.com the business’s name is still the same.  Upon my own research, I see the sight is still in full operation under the domain imechanic.com with the opening page reading “iPod Mechanic.”  Whoops…this hardly seems like a step in the right direction Mr. Woodhams.

            Beyond the unauthorized use of the trademarked name, Apple further claims that Woodhams manipulated the computer giant into sending Woodhams free replacement units as well as having Apple repair out-of-warranty iPods. 

            Apple has filed claims of fraud and breach of contract.  In their first claim for fraud, Apple claims Woodhams abused the iPod shuffle Advance Replacement Program last year when Woodhams himself filled out several online repair forms, failing to send in the broken iPods and declining the charges to his credit card for the new shuffles, which were sent to him.  He then turned around and sold the shuffles at a reduced cost to Woodhams’ online customers.  Apple claims this scheme cost them over $75,000.00-that’s a lot of iPod shuffles.

            Further, in Apple’s second claim for fraud, Apple stated that Woodhams sent in out-of-warranty iPods for repair by switching the back-plates with in-date warranty iPods.  Clearly another loss of money for Apple, because the parts for the repairs were at Apple’s cost rather than the consumer’s. 

            It is clear that Apple attempted to originally settle the dispute out-of-court back in 2006.  Woodhams had the chance then to redeem himself and make good on his end of the bargain.  Considering that Apple originally only wanted Woodhams to change the name of his website and company, the further implications of fraud will mean Apple will look for considerable damages.  The complaint looks for relief in the form of triple damages considering the alleged fraud and continued illegal use of the iPod name.  Word to the wise, as my teacher told me in kindergarten-if you’d like to borrow something that is not yours, ask before you take it.  Oh and remember to say “please and thank you.”


This blog is based on information from an appleinsider.com article

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July, U.S. readers

(image from istyles.com)

Yes, the doors are shuttered, and the TDL staff has scattered to enjoy the holiday weekend. Happy 4th of July to our American readers, and our apologies to our Canadian readers for missing Canada Day on the 1st.

Have a great weekend everyone, and we'll see you back here Monday. And yes, TDL live, Monday night at 9 PM ET.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A visit to the Toy Robot Museum

In the theme of 4th of July traveling, we proudly present Anna Steffen (from our sister site, AmericanHops.com) visiting the Toy Robot Museum in Stoudtsburg, PA:

Rhapsody mp3 store review

The sites of digital music days of yore just keep coming back to life. This week Rhapsody announced the opening of their mp3 store component of their site. Touting the compatibility of the downloads with iTunes and the iPod, we had to check it out. If you want to check it out too, it's best to do it now as Rhapsody is offering a $10 credit (has to be used by midnight on the 4th) to try it. And if you do that, you'll discover the shortcomings of the site. Our full video review is below, but the gist of it is, their download manager software to automatically place the songs into iTunes is PC only, and the user interface really brings nothing new to the table. Still, with their $10 credit promotion (and supporting TV ads) it looks like they've gotten one part of the iTunes equation right:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

LOST book club on iTunes: weak corporate tie-in or great idea?

Visiting the iTunes store today brings a new link (see above) to the Lost Book Club. What's that? It's a collection of books referenced, seen, or quoted in ABC's drama Lost. The executive producers aren't promising any great show-related revelations will come from reading (technically listening to) the books, but it is an interesting new way to build a community. Lost fans are a pretty devout group facing a long drought until the next season kicks off. This could be a great way to help them feel connected during the downtime, and it's certainly a more worthwhile endeavor than playing the awful LOST game for the iPod.

The cynic in me wonders though, why is it an ABC show (owned by Disney, who happens to have a single largest shareholder with the last name Jobs) that's trying this audiobook tie-in. It's a little strange (well my library friends will be up in arms) that while the characters in the show actually read the books, this tie-in encourages you to skip all that annoying reading and simply listen instead.

The easygoing side of me says it's no big deal, and it's just a nice way to promote a product (actually the books and the show). The old-man side of me wonders though, couldn't we come back from the brink of civilization a teensy bit by actually reading these books instead?

Nah.. go back to bed, old man.

Twitter - What are you doing right now

What are you doing right now . . .

Twitter seeks to help you broadcast this answer to anyone who wants to know. It's quite fashionable these days to be in the know. It's also apparently fashionable to have a baby at 16 years old. But not all fashionable trends are a good idea...

Now that I've offended all of the young parents out there (really I was only looking to offend Jamie Lynn Spears) lets talk about Twitter. With all this commotion I decided to check it out, since when is the general public wrong? After several attempts to sign up were thwarted by a whale caught in a fishing net trawled by small birds (tweets) telling me that Twitter was "broken", I finally was able to create my account.

I must say the site is functional. It was obvious how to send updates, invite people to join Twitter, and search for people you know. It's not obvious to me WHY I would do this. It took me several minutes of sending updates to myself to realize that no one who spends time away from their computer will find this useful (unless you have an unlimited texting plan). The site seeks to answer what you're doing now. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?? If a tweet is sent and no one is there to read it, does it make a sound . . . or something like that.

So I update my "status" with what I'm doing RIGHT NOW, it gets broadcast to anyone who wants to know. This whole concept hinges on a) people caring what I'm doing RIGHT NOW [I'd be amazed if anyone does] and b) that people who do care are always connected [many of my friends can just about operate a universal remote].

Additionally this is just another outlet for me to keep updated (I realize this is the point). My life basically becomes a production. Brushing my teeth, getting dressed, having breakfast . . . god forbid I forget to update my "feed". My friends might think that I'm still brushing my teeth (I know my teeth are still wishing I were). This could cause cataclysmic concern for the welfare of my teeth.

All right, all joking aside, I realize Twitter is a big hit. Tons of people use it, and tons of people want to know what others are doing right now. I consider myself a connected individual . . . rarely away from a computer or my iPhone. If I want to know what someone is doing I'll send them an email or give them a call. I just think this Twitter business has made communication less personal while creating more work for everyone. Needless to say I won't be keeping up with my Twitter account.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh, you mean there's a new phone coming?

I know someone's job at Apple is to make sure upcoming products are properly promoted to existing customers, but did I really just need the email telling me the iPhone is coming July 11th? Let's not go overboard with making demand for this thing higher. Who would've signed up for Apple email alerts, and wouldn't know the phone is coming? Plus I have a sneaking suspicion the media will remind us several times between now and then. It may have been helpful if the email included a time for launch though...

Animation-ish Review

Every once in a while, it's refreshing to see an application intended to let your creative side shine, without the focus on extra features, interface, or speed. Animation-ish gets out of the way, at let's your creativity run the show. The program is designed to allow you to quickly and easily create animations, whether they're simple three-cel loops (similar to the "squiggly look" of some cartoons) of creating more complex 30 frames per second animations with backgrounds etc. There's no need to go to training or buy a book (ahem, flash). You just dive in.

The only thing is, to really get the most out of it, you'll want to dive in with a graphics tablet. Here's the full video review:

You can download the free trial at: Animationish.com

TDL Live This week: (6/30)

After a week off, last night's edition of TDL was particularly ridiculous, but we managed to cover all the important Apple news and rumors too:

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