Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Apple shares hit $200 for first time ever

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SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Apple Inc. shares on Wednesday hit $200 for the first time in the company's history. In afternoon trading, Apple's stock rose $1.20 to a new all-time intraday high of $200 a share. For the year, Apple's stock has risen 134% as the company has seen strong sales of its Macintosh computers and the iPhone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Apple's iPhone: Great -- or Greatest?

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Apple shares are closing in on $200 per share, as speculation grows that iPhone sales are far better than anyone anticipated.

There are rumors all over the web that Apple will announce staggering handset unit sales at Macworld next month. And while I fully anticipate strong numbers, I'm a little skeptical that they'll measure up to some of the wild estimates making the rounds., for one, suspects Apple will announce 5 million iPhones sold so far at Macworld. The site adds that, "If that's true, it would put Apple at half of its 2008 sales goal before 2008 even starts."

The site goes on to suggest such huge numbers would mean that "despite Apple only selling one model of GSM iPhone in four countries with four dedicated carriers, Apple's shipments in this quarter -- around 3.5 million -- will be very close to the 3.9 million Blackberry smartphones Research In Motion shipped in its most recent quarter across more than 100 carriers and 13 product lines."

To say that outlook is optimistic is a dramatic understatement, and if true, it would blow past the most bullish estimates on the Street.

Piper Jaffray says the 5 million number would be mean a huge jump in handset sales during the December quarter. Piper is modeling 2 million units sold. This 5 million unit figure would mean something closer to 3.6 million units. That's a long shot. Gene Munster tells me this morning, "The phone is selling well, but not that well."

As for the rest of 2008, Piper does anticipate a 3G version of iPhone by June as I have previously written, and also suggests that if that happens, and the price still hovers at $300, the Apple could overtake RIM's Blackberry as the best-selling high-end smart phone on the market.

That'd be some trick for a product that's so brand new to the marketplace. But all this suggests that Apple's strong move today may come from investors looking ahead to another robust product pipeline from Apple in 2008. I've written about what my sources have told me about the new sub-notebook coming -- which should be unveiled at Macworld. Now we're hearing rumblings about ongoing, strong sales of the iPhone.

We'll see what Apple does with iPod.

Macworld is a Mac-centric event, sure. But the company took the wraps off iPhone at the last one. That could mean a nice iPhone update this time around. It's due for one: revised sales figures, new markets (China?) and new capabilities all would be big news for the Mac faithful. And the company's shareholders. Strap in, folks: This could be a very happy new year indeed for Apple.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Apple Seeks to Patent Antipiracy Technology

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Apple Inc. has filed an updated application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a product activation and anti-piracy technology that would give the company the same kind of control over its software as the oft-criticized Windows Genuine Advantage platform provides its rival, Microsoft Corp.

Patent application 20070288886, titled "Run-Time Code Injection To Perform Checks" and dated Dec. 13, spells out a "digital rights management system" that would "restrict execution of that application to specific hardware platforms."

In the application, Apple noted the ease with which digital information can be copied and the just-as-easy way users could break promises not to illegally distribute copies of that data. It also admitted that, in the end, copy-protection schemes such as dongles or encrypting software wouldn't stop pirates on a mission. "There is very little, however, that these approaches can do to thwart a determined user," the patent filing stated.

"Thus, it would be beneficial to provide a mechanism to restrict the execution of one or more applications to a specific hardware platform that is transparent to the user."

Apple currently does not copy-protect its Mac OS X operating system, or tie a specific copy of the OS to a given notebook or desktop Macintosh machine.

The scheme Apple outlined in the patent application would rely on a cryptographic key generated prior to the hardware reaching the user. As an application launches, the technology would inject code into the app's executing code stream, generate data that's sent to a digital rights management module, then compare that signed data with the key. If they match, the application continues to open. If not, it's stopped in its tracks.

Such checks could be done on a very frequent basis, said Apple's patent application.

"In general, the selected time period should be small enough to prevent significant use of an unauthorized application or system, yet long enough so as not to degrade system performance," the filing read. Apple used an example of a check every five to ten minutes, which is much more often than Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) technology. In June 2006, Microsoft took heat, then modified WGA, after users found out it was "phoning home" to the company's servers daily.

Patent application 20070288886 isn't new, the December filing noted, but rather builds on other applications, including one first filed in mid-2005 but not publicly posted until early January 2007.

Apple was not immediately available for comment, but has a policy of not commenting on patent applications.

Apple to Launch iPod With Automatic Volume Control

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Listening to music non-stop has never been easier since the iPod came along.

But future versions of Apple's MP3 player are to be adapted to prevent users from playing tracks at full blast through their earphones for too long.

Amid growing fears that listeners could cause irreversible damage to their hearing - the highest setting is as loud as a chainsaw - Apple is developing an automatic volume control.

A new patent reveals that the next iPods and iPhones could automatically calculate how long a person has been listening and at what volume, before gradually reducing the sound level.

The device will also calculate the amount of "quiet time" between when the iPod is turned off and when it is restarted, allowing the volume to be increased again to a safe level.

The patent states: "Since the damaging effect on users' hearing is both gradual and cumulative, even those users who are concerned about hearing loss may not behave in a manner that would limit or minimise such damaging effects."

Listening to volumes below 70 decibels is considered safe. But iPods can currently reach volumes of over 100 decibels - the equivalent to standing 10ft from a pneumatic drill - and enough to cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes.

Some MP3 players can even exceed 120 decibels.

In April, Apple revealed it had sold more than 100million iPods worldwide and was expecting, by the end of this year, to have sold more than 4.5million iPhones. Of those 200,000 will have been bought in Britain.

Its patent application, however, is the first time Apple has acknowledged concerns over the risk the iPod poses to hearing and comes after a series of damning studies highlighted the potentially damaging effects.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) has led calls for restrained listening and claimed that more than four million young people aged between 16- and 24-years-old are at risk of hearing damage from listening to loud music.

Its research showed more than half of that age group were listening to digital music players for more than an hour a day. Twenty per cent notch up more than 21 hours a week.

RNID chief executive Dr John Low said: "If young people don't heed our warnings about safer listening, they could end up facing premature hearing damage.

"If you regularly plug in, it is only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage your hearing for ever."

Last year, researchers in the U.S. claimed that listening to an iPod on full blast for just five minutes a day could cause irrevocable hearing damage.

Audiologists from Harvard University said consumers should limit their listening to about four-and-a-half hours a day at 70 per cent volume, or 90 minutes at 80 per cent.

Many MP3 players in Europe, including France, have had volume levels capped at 100 decibels.

Apple refused to comment on its patent application.

Emma Harrison, head of campaigns at RNID, said: "If the next generation iPods do what the patent claims, it could help to protect the hearing of millions of its customers."

It is unclear whether owners of the next-generation iPod will be able to switch off the automatic volume control.

The iPod was launched in 2001 with enough memory to store 1,000 songs. The latest models can hold many times more. The Queen is said to have one capable of holding 1,500 songs.

Apple MacBook is Amazon’s No. 1 top-selling computer

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Despite fierce competition from machines with more than twice the memory and price points hundreds of dollars lower, Apple’s (AAPL) white 120 GB MacBook has captured the top spot on Amazon’s (AMZN) list of bestselling computers this Christmas eve.

Helped along by rebates ranging from $75 to $150, three Apple-brand notebooks are on the top 10 list this morning. The other bestsellers are the 80 GB MacBook (No. 7) and the 120 GB MacBook Pro (No. 10).

Price cutting among the competition is even steeper. HP’s (HPQ) 250 GB Pavilion (No. 5) is selling for $999.99, 27% off the $1,375 list price.

The least expensive computer on the list, at No. 8, is the $381 Linux-based Asus Galaxy with a 7-inch screen and 4 GB of flash memory rather than a hard drive. Many expect Steve Jobs to announce at Macworld that Apple is entering the market for flash-based notebook computes. Apple’s thin MacBook, however, is likely to be larger, carry more memory, and cost a whole lot more than $381.

In Amazon’s list of top-selling electronics, a late surge by a heavily discounted portable hard drive has pushed an iPod off the stack. Apple had five of the top 10 spots for much of the pre-Christmas shopping period; it’s now down to four.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Apple Releases first Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) Update

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Just three weeks after releasing Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple on Thursday released the first update for the new operating system.

According to Apple, Mac OS X 10.5.1 addresses issues with Airport, Back to My Mac, Disk utilities, iCal, Mail, Networking, Printing, Security and Firewall, System and Finder, and Time Machine.

The System and Finder received several updates including addressing a potential data loss issue when moving files across partitions in the Finder; resolving an issue with login after turning off FileVault for a specific user account; improving compatibility with Adobe Flash-based uploaders used by .Mac Web Gallery and certain other websites and applications; and resolving a potential text drawing issue with certain Adobe Flash-based websites and applications.

Apple’s Mail application also received a hefty amount of updates in 10.5.1. Mail includes improvements to stability when resizing columns in the message viewer or switching between Stationery templates in email messages; addresses an issue in which attachments enclosed inside an HTML link may not be clickable in email messages; fixing an issue with email accounts added using the “Simple Setup” feature in which messages cannot be sent due to an SMTP connection failure; improves Smart Mailboxes compatibility with .Mac Sync, and addresses an issue with To Do’s disappearing when using Smart Mailboxes; and resolves an issue with syncing Mail accounts with .Mac in which multiple On My Mac folders appear in the Mailbox pane.

Time Machine, Apple’s new file backup introduced in Leopard, was updated to address formatting issues with certain drives used with Time Machine (specifically, single-partition MBR drives greater than 512GB in size as well as NTFS drives of any size and partition scheme). The update also resolves an issue in which files restored in Time Machine may be restored to the backup hierarchy rather than the folders to which they belong.

Mac OS X’s Firewall update addresses a code signing issue; third-party applications can now run when included in the Application Firewall or when whitelisted in Parental Controls.

Changes to Airport include the ability for password-protected accounts on AirPort Disks to show up on in the Finder’s Shared Sidebar and the update resolves an issue with saved passwords for wireless networks. Back to My Mac has been updated to allow Back to My Mac-enabled Macs appearing in the Finder’s Shared Sidebar. The update also improves compatibility with D-Link NAT gateways.

iCal has been updated to resolve an issue when inviting attendees via a CalDAV account and to more reliably deliver alarms via email. A networking issue in which Microsoft Windows shared folders may be read-only when connected via SMB has also been fixed.

There are several small changes to Disk utilities including restoring the functionality of the progress bar while repairing permissions. Finally a printing issues in which user-selected values on Paper Feed PDE are reset to default while saving a custom preset.

Mac OS X 10.5.1 can be downloaded from Apple’s Web site or via the Software Update mechanism in Mac OS X.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Brits snapped up Apple iPhones

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Britons snapped up Apple (AAPL) iPhones at a healthy clip over the weekend, according to sales estimates that appeared in the British press this morning.

The Guardian and The Times quote Peter Erskine, CEO of O2 UK, estimating that “tens of thousands” of the devices were sold at Apple, O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores over the weekend. The Mirror, citing an unnamed O2 spokesperson, put the number at 70,000, according to Macworld U.K.

Erskine went on to call the iPhone the fastest-selling device his network has ever seen. He said 2/3 of the iPhone customers were new to O2, which suggests that they were lured away from Vodafone (VOD), Orange or T-Mobile.

The sales figures went a long way to countering early suggestions that the iPhone might be getting a tepid reception in the U.K. A thinly reported story in The Register had gone so far as to call first night of sales a “flop,” and Apple stock fell on Monday in part reacting to such perceptions.

But Apple’s partners in both the U.K. and Germany, where the iPhone went on sale Friday at midnight, insist that sales met or exceeded their expectations. The U.K. cellphone market is particularly tough to crack because it is so saturated; there are more cellphones in Britain than people.

When population size is taken into account, however, U.K. sales may even have exceeded those in the U.S.

The U.S. population is roughly 300 million. Germany’s population is 82 million; the U.K.’s is 60 million.

T-Mobile, which carries the iPhone in Germany, hasn’t released weekend sales figures, but said that it sold more than 10,000 iPhones that first day. In the U.S., Apple sold 270,000 iPhones during the first weekend of sales; as many as 200,000 may have been purchased that first day. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster did the math for Germany’s first-day sales and calculated that Apple sold 1 iPhone for every 8,200 Germans compared with 1 iPhone for every 1,510 Americans.

If the 70,000 figure for U.K. sales is accurate, Apple may have sold 1 iPhone for every 860 Britains in 2 1/2 days as opposed to 1 iPhone for every 1,111 Americans.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Clueless flight attendant to passenger: Turn off that iPhone movie NOW!

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My colleague Tom Krazit notes a Consumerist report that an ATA Airlines flight attendant tried to get a passengerto turn off his iPhone because, well, cell phones are not allowed to be used in flight and he was watching a movie on his iPhone.

The passenger, who we know as Casey, tried to explain to the flight attendant that the Phone was in airplane mode, really truly.

If you’ve flown at all, you know that as a general rule, airplane mode use is generally allowed above 10,000 feet. And hey guess what, the plane was above the Pacific Ocean.

The passenger was briefly detained in Hawaii but was allowed to go.

There are two aspects of this story that strike me as at least somewhat relevant.

As Tom writes:

First of all, “airplane mode” doesn’t appear to be a universally defined state of being by the FCC, FAA, the airlines or the mobile phone industry, and perhaps it should. Apple’s Web page on the iPhone’s airplane mode clearly states, “If you turn on airplane mode, the wireless features of iPhone are disabled, and if allowed by the aircraft operator and applicable laws and regulations (emphasis mine), you can continue to use the non-wireless features after takeoff.

Probably this is a good juncture to note how Apple explains iPhone’s airplane mode:

Turn on airplane mode to disable the wireless features of iPhone on a plane.

Tap Settings and turn airplane mode on.
When airplane mode is on, appears in the status bar at the top of the screen, and no cell phone, radio, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth signals are emitted from iPhone. When airplane mode is on, you can still do things like:

Listen to music
Watch video (bold face is mine)
Check your calendar
Take or view pictures
Hear alarms
Use the stopwatch or timer
Use the calculator
Take notes
Read text messages and email messages stored on iPhone
When airplane mode is on, you can’t make calls, send text messages, surf the web, or check for new email.

OH, yes, my second point.

I’d also say a degree of knowledge about cell phones isn’t a common attribute among flight crews. I mean, on two of the last five flights I have been on, the OK-in-airplane-mode announcement cited “Palm Pilots.”

Palm Pilots haven’t been made in several years and are now rarely used. So would you expect a flight attendant who still refers to some handsets as “Palm Pilots” to know what is, or isn’t airplane mode on an iPhone?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apple bumps MacBooks to Santa Rosa; offers 2.6GHz MacBook Pro

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In unusual move early Thursday morning, Apple quietly rolled out updates to its 13-inch MacBook notebook line and also began offering customers an option to custom configure new MacBook Pro orders with a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo chip.

The updates came without a formal announcement and instead began appearing on the company's online store in the early morning hours.

The new 13-inch MacBooks now share the same Santa Rosa-based architecture as their professional cousins, the MacBook Pros, including an 800MHz frontside bus. They also sport Intel's GMA X3100 integrated graphics video chip.

At the same time, Apple also began offering customers the ability to upgrade its 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro notebooks with a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo chip (+$250) and 250GB Serial ATA Drive (+ $150)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Apple Sells Two Million Copies of Mac OS X Leopard in First Weekend

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Apple today announced that it sold (or delivered in the case of maintenance agreements) over two million copies of Mac OS X Leopard since its release on Friday, far outpacing the first-weekend sales of Mac OS X Tiger, which was previously the most successful OS release in Apple's history. Sales included copies sold at Apple's retail stores, Apple Authorized Resellers, the online Apple Store, under maintenance agreements and bundled with new Mac computers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Leopard: The Definitive Review

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Most consumers thinking about buying Apple’s (AAPL) new Leopard operating system will learn what they need to know from the first wave of reviews — the ones written by journalists who were given pre-loaded, pre-release copies of OS X 10.5 and had a week to play with it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Leopard hacks for non-Apple Intel systems

Complete Guide on How to Patch your 9A581 (GM) DVD to Work on a HackinTosh

The Cat is out of the bag - Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

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More than two years after it was announced, nearly a year and a half after it was shown to developers, and four months after its original spring 2007 due date, the sixth edition of Apple’s (AAPL) flagship Macintosh OS X goes on sale today at 6 p.m. for $129 ($199 for the family-pack).

The authorized reviews are in and they are broadly positive. Boxes containing OS X 10.5 Leopard pre-ordered online have already started to arrive by courier, and according to David Kravets at, “BitTorrent tracker sites are churning with the seeding and leeching” of bootleg versions — activity that is expected to stop as soon as the stolen copies can be replaced with shrink-wrapped (and warranty-supported) versions.

And although there were none of the eager buyers camped out overnight in front of Apple retail outlets as there were for the iPhone, crowds are expected to gather as the evening deadline approaches. Tekserve, New York City’s premier Mac reseller before the Apple Stores arrived, has organized a Leopard release party that includes live jazz, iPod nano raffles, a iPod touch for the best Leopard costume, Leopard tote bags and a free Leopard plush toy for all attendees.

Once again, Steve Jobs has whipped the faithful into a frenzy. For weeks, the Apple blogs have been filled with rumors and screen shots and detailed histories of the evolution of key features. Some Apple watchers have already started to list features that were promised in early promotions and dropped from the final release. Unlike Microsoft’s (MSFT) Vista — which was six years in the making — Leopard is expected to be a huge success.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mossberg: Leopard is better, faster than Vista

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Two major publications have already published reviews of Apple's Mac OS X Leopard, due for public sale on Friday. Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal describes the operating system as an evolutionary release, but says that it is still "better and faster" than Windows Vista, with useful new features. Among these are the Time Machine backup system, Quick Look file previews, and the ability to browse with Cover Flow in Finder. Mossberg further notes that upon upgrading his iMac to Leopard, all his programs continued to function properly, including VMWare's Fusion application, used to merge Windows and Mac OS.
General speed is reported to be equal to Mac OS X Tiger, and in terms of start-up substantially faster than Windows Vista, launching in 38 seconds from a MacBook Pro versus Vista's time of two minutes from a Sony VAIO notebook. Complaints about Leopard are few; notable is a limitation of Time Machine, in that network backups can only be accomplished by copying to a hard disk attached to a Leopard Mac. The translucent Menu Bar can be difficult to read with dark wallpaper, and fonts on some websites may be illegible, a problem Apple is already aware of.

British newspaper the Telegraph also takes a favorable view of Leopard, praising elments such as Stacked Dock icons, and the ability of Mail to the detect key data, which can be then used to quickly add Address Book or iCal information. Time Machine is highlighted as the most important upgrade, simply because it automates the backup and restoration process, something many users many not be adept at. The paper in fact has no criticisms of the new OS, except that because it is not a dramatic upgrade, there is no reason to buy it immediately.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mac sales help best ever September quarter

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Apple on Monday reported its best September quarter in history, beating many analyst estimates as well as Wall Street consensus to send company shares soaring more than 2.3 percent after the market closed. Apple earned revenue of $6.22 billion with the help of more than 2.16 million Mac sales -- which broke the company's record for the most Mac sales in a September quarter by 400,000 units. Overall, Apple generated more than $24 billion in revenue and $3.5 billion in net income during the fiscal year 2007. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer cited "record results" in his introductory comments, adding that this was the "highest September quarter revenue and earnings in Apple's history."
Apple once again found that over 50 percent of customers purchasing Macs in its retail stores were new to Mac systems, according to Oppenheimer. The company saw 34 percent growth in Mac sales over September of last year, ultimately exceeding the previous quarterly record for Mac shipments by 400,000.

Oppenheimer pointed to "record mac sales" and "continued strong demand for iPod" as he introduced Apple's fourth fiscal quarter results, noting that Mac products and services accounted for 62 percent of the company's total quarterly revenue. The CFO also revealed that Apple's global growth rate was more than double IDC's most recently published growth rate for the industry.

Consumers scooped up Apple's new iMacs in droves, helping to raise the company's year-over-year growth in desktop systems by 31 percent.

"We're looking forward to a strong December quarter as we enter the holiday season with Apple's best products ever," said company chief Steve Jobs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mac OS X 10.5, "Leopard" to arrive on October 26th

Apple today announced a ship date, update program and system requirements for Mac OS X 10.5, "Leopard", and there's a list of 300+ Leopard features.

Mac OS X version 10.5 Leopard will be available on October 26 at Apple's retail stores and through Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $129 (US) for a single user license, and online pre-orders can be made through Apple's online store ( starting today. The Mac OS X Leopard Family Pack is a single-household, five-user license that will be available for a suggested retail price of $199 (US). Volume and maintenance pricing is available from Apple. The standard Mac OS Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after October 1, 2007 for a shipping and handling fee of $9.95 (US). Leopard requires a minimum of 512MB of RAM and is designed to run on any Macintosh computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5 or G4 (867 MHz or faster) processor.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Hitatichi to quadruple desktop storage by 2011

The hard drive-maker said it has created the world's smallest disk drive heads -- about 2,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Multimedia stockpilers need not worry about laptops, digital video recorders or portable music players hitting a storage capacity ceiling any time soon.

Hitachi Ltd. (Charts) says its researchers have successfully shrunken a key component in hard drives to a nanoscale that will pave the way for quadrupling today's storage limits to 4 terabytes for desktop computers and 1 terabyte on laptops in 2011.

A terabyte can hold the text of roughly 1 million books, 250 hours of high-definition video, or a quarter million songs.

"It means the industry is making good progress to advance the capacity of disk drives and move to smaller form factors," said John Rydning, an analyst at market research firm IDC.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Apple sued for iPhone's anti-hack update

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Customers angry at Apple for breaking their hacked iPhones with the company's latest update now have a class-action lawsuit to call their own.

On Friday, a California lawyer filed suit against the consumer-technology company over the iPhone's September 27 upgrade, which bundled a critical security patch with code that disabled phones which had been hacked to accept third-party applications or modified to use other cellular carriers.

"Cell phone network providers are using various types of software locks in order to control customer access to the 'bootloader' programs on cellphones and the operating system programs embedded inside cell phones," the complaint (PDF) stated, noting that the U.S. Register of Copyrights has specifically allowed users to bypass such locks to use their phones on another provider's network.

In the past, updates have been used to shut down hacked or modified devices on the networks of other service providers. DirecTV used an update to disable cable boxes that had been modified to get the satellite-TV provider's service for free. The countermeasure, however, merely blocked the cable box -- which the company leases to the users -- from using the service, while Apple's update completely disabled consumer electronic devices which belong to its customers.

Hardware hackers worldwide worked over the summer to crack the iPhone's protection to either use the device on carriers besides AT&T or load third-party software onto the system. Apple had warned customers prior to releasing the update, which upgrades the iPhone to version 1.1.1, that the software patch could disable any phone that had been modified.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Third-party apps appear on iPhone 1.1.1

Following the day after a primitive "jailbreak" was developed, hackers are now claiming to have successfully installed applications on Apple's v1.1.1 iPhone firmware. The technique was developed by a coder called "asap18," who says that several applications have been tested and are functioning properly. Critically, these applications can be accessed via normal Home screen buttons, rather than loading them via a command-line terminal.
Applications that appear to be working include the Colloquy IRC chat client and the NES game console emulator. It is reported that under the current scheme, only 15 icons can be added to the Home screen; a final slot may possibly be reserved for iTunes. Hacking efforts have reportedly also discovered "International" options in the SpringBoard interface, which though they may allow for foreign-language applications, are most likely in place for the French and German iPhone launches planned towards the end of the year.

Future hacks are reported to be in the works, but it is cautioned that users with unlocked v1.0.2 iPhones should not yet upgrade to v1.1.1, as this may still "brick" a device.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

iPhone Business Model Hits a Snag in France

It seems like the iPhone might not be released in France by this holiday season, since French requires by law that all cell phones sold there must be obtainable in an unlocked version. Apple will not be able to do so, since it has launched with a 5-year exclusivity agreement with AT&T. That deal will probably require exclusivity worldwide to avoid grey-market imports. (In return for this agreement Apple receives a large share of AT&T's monthly revenues from iPhone subscribers.) If the iPhone falls through in France, the country can join Belgium and a potentially long list of other countries with unlocking laws, whose Apple fans will have to make do with other, less Apple-y phones. Note that there is currently no mention of the iPhone on the Apple France page.

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Apple's stock closes above $160

Shares of Apple Inc. have closed above $160 for the first, gaining 3.33 percent or $5.21 by the close of trading Friday (final trading price: $161.45). The stock is up over $24, or 18 percent in the past month, and has more than doubled in the past year. The reasons for the surge are unclear, though rumors of opening iPhone development and inclusion of HD videos in iTunes could be catalysts. In late August, Apple surprassed Google's market capitalization after going on a rollercoaster ride. During one week, the shares went from about $124 on Wednesday to about $112 on Thursday, then back up to about $122 on Friday. The reason for the dip, and others in the past month, may have been pure profit taking by investors who have seen tremendous gains in the stock this year.

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Apple Probes iMac Lockups

October 05, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Apple Inc. said today it is investigating lockup problems with the newest line of iMac desktop computers after customers flooded the company's support forums with complaints this week.

Introduced two months ago in a lineup refresh, iMacs with the aluminum casing have been freezing under a variety of conditions, but common characteristics include inactive mouse and keyboard; continued background processing, such as music that keeps playing; and the need for a reboot. The screen remains lighted, however.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

iPhone Turned into Pocket-Sized Hacking Platform

One such observation: The iPhone has a potential security pitfall in that its MobileMail application supports Microsoft Office document formats by using the OfficeImporter framework when converting files into viewable form. "This looks like a great target for file-format fuzzing and some late-night reverse engineering," Moore said.

Another potential way for attackers to get into the phone is through the mDNSResponder service, which runs by default, Moore said. The mDNSResponder, used by iTunes for music sharing, is part of the Bonjour application suite, which provides automatic and transparent configuration of network devices.

When the iPhone first syncs with iTunes, its host name is changed, Moore said. The default hostname becomes "User's iPhone," with the Mac OS X user account name filling in for "User." If the iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network, the mDNS service exposes the iPhone owner's user name.

That particular security exposure hasn't yet responded to Moore's probes, he said, making active discovery "less likely."

Moore has also been playing with the "vibrate" shellcode released by Miller at Black Hat 2007. By the time the security show rolled around, Independent Security Evaluators had already revealed, shortly after the smart phone's release, that Apple's popular multifunctional device could be exploited for data theft or snooping purposes.

At the time, Miller, Jake Honoroff and Joshua Mason created an exploit for the iPhone's Safari Web browser wherein they used an unmodified device to surf to a maliciously crafted drive-by download site. The site downloaded exploit code that forced the iPhone to make an outbound connection to a server controlled by the security firm.

The researchers showed that a compromised device then could be forced to send out personal data, including SMS text messages, contact information, call history, voice mail information, passwords, e-mail messages and browsing history.

Miller told eWEEK that with Moore's Metasploit work, the time needed to write iPhone exploits has substantially shrunk. "One thing interesting about the work H.D.'s done, if you look at the time frame, is it took us two days to find a vulnerability and write something to where we knew it was legitimate. [It took] seven or eight days after that to having a working exploit. If we had what H.D. has done, it would have taken maybe a day or less. Having this available now will cut what we did from two weeks to two days.

Now that the iPhone has been out for months, is the desire to hack it still at a fever pitch? Miller said that given how much personal information an attacker can shake out of the device, "It probably is something people should worry about."

"[Like H.D. said in his blog,] It's always on, it's always on the Internet, and you can get a lot of personal information. It's a viable target," Miller said.

So now it's time for real fun.

"It's going to be such good times," one blogger wrote after Moore published his findings. "…we have the accessibility/vector. What we need are market saturation (some predict 14M sold by end of 2008,) a mesh networking application (or something to cross-connect the myriad of networking options) and an attractive application to encourage the owners to share amongst each other (say, some funky music sharing application or social networking tie-in, or instant messaging.) That'll lay the ground work for some very effective malware."

For his part, Moore said in his posting that he's added support for iPhone executables to the msfpayload command, allowing users to generate stand-alone bind/reverse shell executables using a syntax supplied in his posting. Next up is an XOR encoder, and then all hell should break loose.

"Once the XOR encoder is done, the only step left is to find the bugs and write the exploits :-)," Moore wrote.

By the time this article posted, Apple had not responded to a request for comment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Report of iPhone nano Sends Rumor Mill Into Overdrive - Article on MacNewsWorld

As Seen on MacNewsWorld By Walaika Haskins...

On Wednesday, Apple will hold another high-profile press event. As is often the case, only those in Cupertino know for sure what exactly will be introduced. However, a published report cites documents from an Apple partner indicating the event may mark the arrival of touchscreen iPods as well as a nano version of the iPhone, the first version of which is a mere two months old.

iPod owners may soon be saying farewell to an iPod feature that's been a part of the top-selling media player since its launch in 2001 -- the iconic clickwheel.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

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Apple Unveils Wi-Fi iPod, Wi-Fi iTunes, Wi-Fi Starbucks Collaboration as Seen on MarketingVox...

Owners of the new wi-fi-enabled iPod touch will be able to buy songs on the spin at Starbucks - while the songs are playing.

Both products — the wi-fi iPod touch, and the Starbucks liaisonwere unveiled yesterday in an anticipated news event.

The new iPod boasts touch-screen capabilities, wireless functionalities and a Safari browser. Many Apple fans were able to predict its iPhone-esque appearance and functionalities in advance of the announcement.

The Starbucks relationship enables users to access — and instantly purchase — music played in Starbucks stores, as well as the last 10 tracks, and special Starbucks music collections. This capability will be available in participating stores as soon as October, and across the States by the end of 2008.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

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