Friday, November 30, 2012

iTunes 11 Now Available

Today is the first day that Apple devotees running Mac (and Windows) systems can download
the latest version of iTunes, Apple’s trusty old media player, which is now in its eleventh version
and looker sleeker than ever.

The new iTunes has a totally redesign graphical user interface which, aside from the colors, little
resembles the old GUI that Apple has used on iTunes for years now. The new layout relies less
on text and more on album art to let users know where their various songs and albums are. Not
only that, but it displays the album art in a crisp, eye catching way that is a major step up from
small, grainy thumbnails that have been the default display for album covers in the last several
versions of iTunes.

The new design is supposed to be reminiscent of Apple’s App Store and the iTunes Store
interface already used on iOS 6. CEO Tim Cook explained, that hopefully it brings greater unity
to Apple’s overall design style. Whether iTunes users appreciate the parallels to other Apple
programs or not, the new iTunes is definitely pretty to look at, which will be no great surprise to
users who are accustomed to Apple’s famous good taste in software aesthetics.

The update is more than just superficial. Among the new features, the most important is iTunes
11’s great integration with Apple’s cloud infrastructure. Now, songs and other media downloaded
from the iTunes store can be uploaded straight to the cloud, without ever stopping on your hard
drive--an obvious improvement that was inexplicably missing from iTunes until now.

iTunes 11 will also keep closer tabs on your watching and listening data, so that if you start listening to an
album or watching a movie on your iPhone, for example, you can go home, fire up your laptop,
and automatically pick up watching or listening where you left off. iTunes remembers where you
stopped so that you don’t have to.

These improvements are sure to be loved by many, but they aren’t quieting all of iTunes critics,
who have already begun criticizing the new iTunes for continuing much of what they hated in the
old iTunes. As one example, iTunes 11 tips the scales at a full 85 MB for PC users, which is
several times bigger than basic music and movie players. That’s because iTunes comes loaded
with Apple Store features and cloud-uploading clients, along with many other features, which
users who merely want to play their favorite songs find annoying and unnecessary.

Some have even suggested that iTunes be split into three or four new programs--one for playing
music and movies, one for downloading paid content, one for uploading media to the cloud,
perhaps one for playing trippy visualizers in time with Pink Floyd--so that iTunes users don’t have
to navigate all the extra bells and whistles and sidebars, when all they want to do is play a simple
MP3. However, it is highly doubtful that Apple will break up any of its software programs any time
in the near future, after all, why fix something that isn’t broken.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Apple Fires Maps Manager In Wake Of Fiasco

Richard Williamson, the Apple Apps manager who was responsible for overseeing Apple’s Maps app, is out of a job, according to a report on

Williamson is at least the second casualty of the firestorm that has ensued after Apple released its Maps app, along with the iPhone 5, back in September. Also out the door is Scott Forstall, an executive whom CEO Tim Cook blamed for letting the Maps app snowball into the debacle it now is.

For those who haven’t been following the story, on the latest generation of iPhones, Apple replaced Google’s much-loved Maps application with it’s own, in-house Maps app. Google Maps had been in service for years, and were refined by thousands of “Map Makers,” devoted users who edited their own maps. Google then used those edits to fine-tune the maps everyone else sees, and to add landmarks the tech giant had overlooked when programming its app.

Apple’s Maps app didn’t have those benefits, and no one expected it to come out of the oven as a finished product with all the slick features of Google Maps, but neither did people anticipate the maps would be quite as bad as they were. iPhone users flocked to Internet forums and blogs to report flaws in Apple’s Maps, many of which were hilarious--unless you were the person relying on the map to get from Point A to Point B.

Among many other errors, Apple’s Map included the wrong address for Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport. The address it gave directed users to the middle of a runway. As another example, the directions from San Francisco to Sausalito originally included a ferry ride. That’s one way to make the trip, but most folks prefer to simply take the highway. IIn Israel, Jerusalem wasn’t noted as the capital of the country. In fact, the app didn’t give the city any country affiliation whatsoever.

Mistakes of this magnitude were an unpleasant surprise for many Apple customers and market watchers, who were accustomed to the company’s history of releasing exceptionally polished hardware and software. And the controversy has been just one more thorn in the side of CEO Cook, who already has the unenviable job of replacing former CEO and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who Apple aficionados have elevated to near messianic status.

Luckily, there are many out there who are ready to suggest possible fixes to Apple’s map predicament. The most obvious corrective step is to implement a bigger program, like Google’s Map Maker, which empowers users to make their own maps and correct those Google publishes. MIT’s Technology Review suggested that Apple make it easier for users to submit corrections and that Apple look for new and more-reliable vendors of the data it uses to create its maps in the first place. And, as Michael Dobson, president of the mapping consultancy firm,TeleMapics noted, each time Apple Maps screws up and can’t find a legitimate address, that’s an opportunity to improve the program. Programmers simply have to look at the list of unfound addresses, figure out where they ought to go, and then plug them into the app.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

iPhone 5 Shipping Time Down To One Week

For anyone hoping to give (or receive) Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 5, this Christmas, there’s some good news today. The estimated shipping time listed on the Apple Store’s website is down to only one week. That’s half a month faster than the three to four week shipping time listed on Apple’s website earlier this month. Now that the shipping time has been drastically cut, holiday shoppers can buy with the confidence that their shiny new iPhone 5 will arrive in time to take its place underneath the Christmas tree this December 25

The iPhone 5 has been a difficult item to get since its introduction in mid-September of this year. Roughly five million units of the high-tech phone were allotted for presales, and that entire inventory sold out in just a few hours on Apple’s online store. Meanwhile, lines to purchase the iPhone 5 in person the night it was released stretched for blocks at Apple’s various retail stores throughout the country, and many shoppers were turned away empty-handed. Supply simply was not able to meet the demand.

But it wasn’t merely the extraordinary demand for the iPhone 5 that caused the problem. Apple’s Chinese supplier, Foxconn, has had trouble making the phone, which Foxconn chairman Terry Gou described as “not easy to make.” Evidently the intricacy of the device slowed production and delayed Apple’s efforts to speed manufacturing of the iPhone 5 to a point where supply could catch up with demand. Dissatisfaction among workers at one of Foxconn’s plants, which evidently led to a strike in October, slowed production further, and as Apple struggled to produce enough iPhone 5s to fulfill all the orders, the company’s stock fell below $506 for the first time since February 2012.

The troubles with iPhone production cast further doubts upon Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was already under fire for letting creativity and innovation at the tech giant stagnate. Cook’s ability to follow in former CEO Steve Jobs’ footprints as a guru of tech innovation had long been in question, but Cook was supposedly a master of supply chain logistics. Suddenly, Cook wasn’t delivering on production numbers, which was the area where investors had the most confidence in him.

Luckily for Apple stockholders and tech-heads everywhere, Cook seems to have worked his supply chain magic just in time for the holiday shopping season. Days before Black Friday, the estimated shipping time on iPhone 5s dropped to two weeks, and yesterday, just before Cyber Monday officially kicked off at 9 AM Eastern Time, the estimated shipping time on the iPhone 5 was cut again, this time to just one week. And for those who live within easy distance of an Apple retail store, the news is even better: Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray reported that the iPhone 5 was in stock at nine of the ten Apple stores he was monitoring, meaning that customers can walk in and pick one up anytime they like.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL) May Eventually Lose To Google

Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur behind companies like PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, has made waves across the Internet by predicting that Google Inc. (GOOG) will come out ahead of Apple Inc. (AAPL) in the tech giants’ battle for control of the smartphone market.

While speaking at a panel in London, Musk was asked which of the companies, Apple or Google, had better prospects for growing its share of the smartphone market. Musk responded that his money was on Google, largely because of the search company’s leadership and the perceived decline in leadership at Apple in the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing.

“It really makes a difference who runs the company,” Musk said of the battle between Apple and Google. “[Google CEO] Larry Page is quite good and probably in the long run will come out on top.” Page, who is one of the co-founders of Google, took over as CEO in April 2011, following the departure of longterm Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

But according to Musk, just as important as Page’s prowess, is the leadership vacuum facing Apple after Steve Jobs’ death in October of last year. Jobs was long viewed as the creative force behind Apple, and his vision for the company is widely credited with bringing Apple back from the brink in the late 1990s. “Because Steve Jobs is out of the picture,” Musk said, Apple Inc. (AAPL) is less able to compete in the rapidly evolving smartphone market.

It’s not only Musk who has called into question Apple’s ability to lead the smartphone market. Steve Wozniak, who, along with Jobs, founded Apple Computers in 1976, has expressed his doubts that Apple retains the creativity needed to compete with Microsoft, among other competitors. Wozniak said that Apple, which has for years relied upon its innovation to get an edge over competitors in the software and hardware arenas, no longer has the creative spark it once did and is likely to fall behind.

If Apple’s iPhone and mobile operating systems do fall behind Google’s Android, lack of innovation may not be the only culprit. Many Android devices are now available free of charge, when customers sign a contract with a data and phone service provider. The iPhone 5, by contrast, costs at least $199, and that’s only after agreeing to a long term contract with a company like Verizon or AT&T.

Besides of its lower price, Android packs a level of versatility the iPhone series has not matched. Whereas the iPhone is available in only a select few models, Android runs on a wide range of phones, giving customers a huge range of choice when it comes to screen size, processor speed, plug-in ports, and other phone features. Customers desiring a phone that fits a very specific need are more likely to find what they’re looking for with Android. Besides the hardware, Android also offers a more enticing space for developers, who face far fewer rules and hurdles when developing for the Android OS. The iPhone, on the other hand, has strict rules regarding which apps are permitted for download, and Apple is notorious for keeping independent developers on a short leash and rejecting apps that don’t fit its rigorous criteria.

All of these factors come into play when considering who will win the smartphone war. Apple Inc. (AAPL) is the leader now, but according to many, this will not hold true for long.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL) "Spaceship" Headquarters Building Delayed Until 2016

Apple Inc. has been planning to move into a new headquarters building for some time now. The design of the new building is more than a little futuristic, having been called a "spaceship" design by some blogs and information sources.

Mashable reports that construction of the new building appears to have been moved back. Apple Inc. originally wanted to be in the building by 2015, but it looks like that will no longer be possible. Apple Inc. reportedly submitted an updated proposal to the city of Cupertino on the 14th of November, according to Bloomberg, and this proposal says the company won't make its original timetable for relocation.

Apple had originally planned to begin construction next year, and had hoped to begin relocating by 2015. However, it now appears that the actual groundbreaking will not take place until 2014, according to reports.

According to the reports, the delay seems to be Apple's fault, as the company has delayed placing its updated proposal for more than 2 months. However, Cupertino's city manager, David Brandt, has said that if residents don't challenge Apple's proposal and the city approves the proposal quickly, then it is still possible to break ground next year.

The new facility was originally announced by the late co-founder of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs. According to reports, the original design of the campus has not been altered very much by the updated proposal. The new building will include perks like a gigantic fitness center, and will be surrounded by approximately 7,000 trees.

Apple is making a strong mark in the mobile device market these days. In fact, according to a survey by Nielsen Wire, Apple holds four of the top five slots for most desirable Christmas gifts this year in the U.S. Their iPad,  iPad Mini, iPhone 5, and the ever popular iPod are forging ahead in the rankings, which is pretty impressive when you consider the competition.

It's going to be an interesting Holiday season this year, as it appears that Apple Inc. will have its best sales ever.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tailor Made Magazine Offers Value To Your Business

We are taking a break from discussing Apple today, although there has been some news from the company in recent days. The company has been entangled in yet another lawsuit in recent days, which we will cover in more detail later, as well as news that they may already be planning an iPhone 5 refresh, as soon as next month.

However, today, I want to take a few minutes to tell you about an invaluable opportunity I have found. If you own a business, whether large or small, one thing you desire, is that you appear to be successful to your clients and investors. I have found a resource that can not only offer this professional image, but also gives great value to the clientele you serve.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Apple Is Ripe For The Picking, According To Oppenheimer Analyst

In recent months we have seen Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares skyrocket to new all time highs of more than $700, then begin a rapid free fall back down to the current price of $549. As the stock began rising analysts set targets in excess of $1,000 per share on the company, and yet, this seems to be a fallacy in light of recent events.

However, one analyst at Oppenheimer says these dreams of high price targets are not the things of pipes. He points out that now, as the stock is low, is the best time to buy. His assessment makes sense, as the upcoming holiday season is sure to boost Apple's sales figures and revenue. This, in turn, will push the share price back up.

No doubt, the stock will reach new highs over the next few quarters, as the new iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and iPad 4 will undoubtedly dominate their respective market niches. The iPhone 5 sold record numbers in the last quarter, and with holiday sales ahead, it will most likely break its old records. iPad Mini also sold out during its first few days of availability, and with its slightly lower price, the mid and low end of the tablet market could very well become another segment dominated by Apple.

In other recent reports, Apple is making strides in some areas, and losing a small amount of ground in others. Eddie Cue, of Apple was recently named as a board member of Ferrari, which he claims is an honor. This appointment seems to indicate some type of future workings between the two companies, and could potentially lead Apple in a whole new direction of device development. On a slightly more sour note, the Samsung Galaxy S3 beat the Apple iPhone 4S in sales for the third quarter of FY 2012. However, analysts expect iPhone 5 to remedy that issue in the 4th quarter, as holiday sales are sure to give the company a boost.

All in all, the assessment from Oppenheimer makes sense. Apple is a strong company, and has long been a leader in the markets it has operated in. With top quality products and the strength of an amazing research and development team, Apple is set to become even more valuable in the future.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Adds Jellybean 4.1 To The Samsung Lawsuit

It seems that Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. will not ever give up trying to strangle each other in the smartphone and tablet markets. In recent months, we have seen both companies win lawsuits against the other, in an ongoing power struggle that seems to be unending.

In August, we watched as Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages, as a California jury found Samsung guilty of infringement on 6 patents. Multiple devices were named in the suit, and Judge Lucy Koh placed a temporary sales ban on several of them, until the matter was resolved.

The sales ban on the products, including the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet computer, was lifted, after the jury determined that it did not violate the patent it was accused of infringing. However, the investigation did reveal that it had violated other Apple patents. Apple has since been seeking a way to keep the tablet off the shelves in the U.S. market.

Apple has decided to continue to pursue Samsung through legal measures, and has broadened its case. This time, the Cupertino company has not only listed the Galaxy 10.1, but has also included Google's Android OS, Jellybean 4.1 in its list of adversaries.

This would seem to be a means to an end. It has long been speculated that the true target of Apple's legal campaigns was not Samsung, but rather Google, Apple's top rival. By jabbing at Samsung, Apple has managed to crimp Google's profits as well, because Samsung is the largest distributor of Android based devices.

How will this war end? In truth, it probably won't. As long as there are consumers, there will be computers, and as long as there are computers, there will be competition. Apple currently leads its field, but with competitors like Google, Samsung, and other tech companies, Apple will have to fight to defend that lead. While the outcome of this case is not yet determined, nor is it totally predictable, it is safe to say that Apple will emerge from the fray with the ability to continue to dominate at least some areas of the tech world.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tim Cook's Firing Spree May Have Set The Stage For New Designs

Tim Cook removed two of Apple's top employees on Monday. It is believed that these two people were released, due to the Maps fiasco that caused Apple so much heartache with its iPhone 5 launch. Scott Forstall and John Browett were asked to relinquish their positions at the Cupertino tech giant, and subsequently we may see some of the effects of that decision in the next product refresh.

 Steve Jobs, Apple's late co-founder, had a penchant for designing software that mimicked real life materials. This included the linen styled background often seen in Apple's mobile products, as well as the wood grain finish in some of the applications. Following Forstall and Browett's removal, Jonathan Ive was promoted to a new role in Apple's elite company. He will now oversee software design, as part of his new responsibilities.

 Ive has never made it a secret that he was no fan of Jobs' software design. In fact, he is behind the more modern and simple view that many of the products have taken on in recent years. Critics of Apple's software have said that while they find the devices and hardware manufactured by the company to be extremely modern and cutting edge, the software leaves much to be desired. It is presumed that Ive will change all of that in the coming product lines.
Sources close to Ive have said that these changes will begin to be noticed on the very next generation of iOS devices. I guess we will have to wait and see if that is true, however, there will undoubtedly be other changes to watch for as well.

 Tim Cook has a vision for Apple, and woe to anyone who tries to hinder that dream.