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 Wired.com, “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 (www.apple.com) 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.