Apple Releases Lion Recovery Disk Assistant

It seems that Apple has finally heard the cries of users who were experiencing the worst side of OS X Lion. Many users, including some friends of mine, were having trouble using the web-based recovery tools built into Apple’s latest edition of Mac OS X. They have released Lion Recovery Disk Assistant, which is designed to let a user create a new Lion recovery partition on an external hard drive or USB drive.

The newly created disk will have all the same features as the built-in Lion recovery system. That includes reinstalling Lion, repairing the disk via Disk Utility, resorting from a Time Machine backup, and browsing the web using Safari. Unfortunately, in order to use this utility, you need an existing Recovery partition for Lion.

While it may seem like it, this does not invalidate the Lion disk making app that I covered last week. This tool from Apple will make it possible for you to restore a system already using Lion. Lion DiskMaker allows you to create a standalone Lion installation disk, which could be used to install Lion on a machine that is running Snow Leopard or an earlier version of OS X.

The Apple support document for Lion Recovery Disk Assistant lists a set of four simple steps to creating a recovery disk. Those steps are:

  1. Download the application
  2. Insert an external drive (or USB key)
  3. Launch the application
  4. Select the drive where you want to install
  5. Follow the instructions

The support document for the new utility does make a point to mention how the new disk will be usable. If it is created on a computer that shipped with Lion, it will only be usable on that machine. If it is made on a system upgraded to Lion from Snow Leopard, it can be used on any machine upgraded that way.

Apple Launches $999 iMac for Educational Institutions

iMac Education ModelThis morning, Apple has announced a new lower cost $999 iMac for education institutions. The new low-end model is being advertised as “Education only” and is not available to individuals. The new iMac is available for purchase via Apple’s Higher Educational online store and the specs have been published online too.

  • 3.1GHz Intel Core i3 Dual-Core
  • 21.5-inch LCD
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750 with 256MB
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • SuperDrive
  • OS X Lion

This new iMac offers a mini Display Port, but no Thunderbolt port, which is interesting because all other Macs that are currently for sale offer a Thunderbolt port. The next higher model is $1149 and offers a 2.5GHz Quad-Core i5 with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

In the past, Apple has offered exclusive education only models for institutions. Possibly, these educational purchases may be more price sensitive than the rest of the market, and Apple has adjusted the pricing of the hardware so it fits the $1000 price point. In addition, Apple offers even an even cheaper 20″ iMac for $899. This iMac features an Intel Core 2 Duo and does not include OS X Lion.

How Nokia Could Save Itself and Dominate the Smartphone Market Again – My Thoughts

Nokia is clearly in a very bad position right now. It has screwed up badly in the last couple of years, and is completely behind the curve. Symbian used to be the leader in smartphones, but now it has just been relegated to the sidelines by Android, iOS and surprisingly, even Windows Phone 7.

If there is any other company which is doing as badly as Nokia, it’s Research in Motion. Even they used to lead the U.S. smartphone market, but now their flagship Blackberry devices have been completely trounced by iOS and Android.

Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop, couldn’t have been more right when he said that Nokia was on a burning platform. However, I don’t quite agree with what his proposed solution to the problem was: Windows Phone 7.

Nokia effectively ditched Symbian and officially adopted Windows Phone 7 as its primary OS months ago. It will likely launch a couple of Windows Phone 7 devices before the end of 2011.

Even so, with HTC, Samsung and LG already in the game, I doubt that the Windows Phone 7 deal will save Nokia.

Here’s my take on what Nokia should do to avoid almost certain death.

Launch Devices on Multiple Platforms

As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Especially when it’s Microsoft’s.

Nokia may think that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 may be the dominant smartphone in the future, but no one knows how it might play out. It could turn out that Android may remain the most popular smartphone platform for a long time.

Instead of trying to predict which platform will be the leading one in the future, Nokia should try to do what it does best – hardware.

Nokia’s expertise lies in building quality, inexpensive smartphones which offer excellent value for money. It has some of the best production facilities and distribution network worldwide.

If I were Nokia, I would continue to build Symbian, as well as MeeGo smartphones (it seems to have received some great reviews). Additionally, I would also ship smartphones powered by both Windows Phone 7 and Android.

That way, Nokia’s future wouldn’t remain tied to any particular platform.

Three Devices Per Platform

Nokia currently has over 20 different smartphones powered by the Symbian OS, and even more feature phones powered by S40. Many of them hardly differ at all. If you want to buy an iPhone, you just go ahead an buy an iPhone.

However, if you want to buy a Nokia device, you just end up getting confused and then buy a phone which you are not sure you really like. Too many choices can really suck.

Nokia should develop smartphones powered by these four platforms – Android, Windows Phone 7, Symbian and MeeGo, but only 2 or 3 devices for each platform.


The budget smartphone should be an inexpensive, budget device priced around $200-$300 without contract. It could have a 3.5 inch capacitive LCD display, a 2.0 MP or 3.2 MP camera and 4 GB of storage. But it should have at least 512 MB RAM and a 1 GHz processor.

Mid Range

The mid-range smartphone should be priced at around $400-$500. It should come with a 4 inch capacitive S-LCD display, a 5 MP camera and 8-16 GB of internal memory. This device should come with a 1.4 GHz single core processor, or a 1 GHz dual core processor, with 1 GB RAM.


This would be the best smartphone on the planet. It should be priced at around $600-$700, and come with a 4.3 inch SuperAMOLED display. It should have an 8.1 MP or 12 MP camera, and be powered by the best hardware available – 1-2 GB of RAM, coupled with a something like the Nvidia Kal-El chip – a quad core processor. This should offer 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage.

With these three devices on each platform, Nokia should be in a position to dominate the smartphone market.

The Killer Stroke

Nokia should use only the stock version of Android, so that it can push out updates faster than the other manufacturers. It seems that Nokia plans to customize Windows Phone 7; it should scrap those plans.

And finally, here’s the killer stroke:

Nokia should produce only three devices, based on the specifications I outlined above, for all the four platforms.

It should allow users to buy a device, and then allow them to choose whichever OS they want to install on it. All the three devices are powerful enough to run any of the 4 operating systems easily.

This way, anyone looking to buy a smartphone can buy a Nokia device without having to choose between platforms – he can just install whichever OS he wants. Nokia could also provide a dual booting option if it wanted.

This will have another advantage: Nokia will have to produce only three devices. This will alllow it to produce them at a much lower cost, with many components used in all of them. It could potentially be able to price them lower than any of its competitors.

Additionally, Nokia should refresh its new product line only once an year, like Apple. This way, when a consumer buys a Nokia phone, he will be assured that his phone won’t become outdated in a month.

With this product strategy, I believe Nokia could regain the top position in the smartphone market. If anyone would want to buy a phone, he would just have to choose between the Nokia phone, or the iPhone. With 4 OS options on the former, I bet most would choose the Nokia phone.

I haven’t really thought this through, but I think this would be the best strategy for Nokia. What do you think? Comments, please.

Rumor: Apple and China Mobile Reportedly Strike Deal to Bring iPhone To World’s Largest Carrier

China Mobile Logo

In the past, rumors have suggested that Apple was working on making the iPhone available to China Mobile customers. Now, a new report from CapitalVue suggests that Apple has finally closed a deal with China Mobile to launch the iPhone on their network. China Mobile currently has over 600 million customers making it the world’s largest mobile carrier.

The source of the rumor is uncertain since the report indicated to “a company filing” picked up by Chinese-language site MacRumors  auto translated the article and reports that the report came from the Associated Press. They have been unable to locate such an article.

If’s report does prove to be true, it suggests that China Mobile will announce the iPhone 4 in October, and then later will be followed by the iPhone 5 and future 4G LTE models based on the carrier’s homegrown TD-LTE standard.

In China, Apple currently offers the iPhone through China Unicom, but has been rumored many times to be trying to strike a deal with China Telecom. Clearly, Apple is getting ready to make the Chinese market a priority and is working on trying convince all of the country’s top carriers to offer the iPhone.

HTC Acquires Dashwire For its Patents; For a Fighting Chance Against Apple

It’s getting crazy out there, with everyone warring with each other over patent infringement. Google is clearly the underdog here, with a much smaller patent portfolio than its opponents – Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. Well, technically, Google is being sued by Oracle, while Microsoft and Apple are going after its Android device partners like HTC and Samsung.

Microsoft and Google have been engaged in a series of arguments over the patent situation since a couple of days.

While Microsoft is making $5 off every Android phone by HTC, Apple wants to completely shut it down in the U.S. It already won an initial ruling against HTC in the case. HTC recently bought S3 Graphics, which had won a ruling in its own patent lawsuit against Apple, which could lead to a partial ban on the import of Macs in the U.S.

HTC certainly thought that it could leverage S3’s lawsuit against Apple to defend itself against Apple’s lawsuit. But apparently, it’s still doubtful whether that will actually help HTC at all.

So, HTC seems to have made another purchase. Yesterday, HTC announced that it had acquired Dashwire, a mobile application company which provides some kind of cloud based cross platform synchronization solution for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile.

It seems that HTC may have actually bought Dashwire not for its product offering, but for its patent portfolio. Apparently, as reported by BGR, Dashwire had entered into a deal with Intellectual Ventures in April, and acquired patents to use for defensive purposes. If HTC is able to use this patents to defend itself against Apple, it might be a very good deal at under $20 million.

Google’s Android partners are well aware that Google might not be able to defend them. HTC seems to have taken matters into its own hands, while Samsung is trying to do so too, by getting its hands on the InterDigital patents.

Report: Apple Discontinuing the Magic Mouse

There are more signs everyday that Apple is putting all of its eggs into Lion, and the eventual iOS/OS X hybrid operating system. First came the integrated multi-touch gestures in Lion, then reports that Apple would combine iOS and OS X, and now the end of the Magic Mouse.

For the unacquainted, Apple currently has two types of mouse-like peripherals. The first is the Magic Trackpad, which is a trackpad device designed for use with Apple’s desktops. The second is the Magic Mouse, which is a mouse device. It’s special, however, because it integrates touch-based gestures into a traditional mouse-like structure.

Apple's Magic Mouse, which is being discontinued.

It seems that Apple is planning to ditch the older, more traditional Magic Mouse in favor of the Magic Trackpad, at least according to Cult of Mac. This makes sense when you consider the push towards trackpad based multi-touch gestures in Lion. It seems that Apple is looking to move away from the more traditional computer experience, opting for a more iOS-like user experience.

I can see why some users would be upset about this move by Apple. I know that many graphics and video people need a more precise pointing device than a trackpad really provides. Gamers also tend to prefer a more traditional mouse over something new, like a trackpad. As for myself, I like using both a trackpad and a mouse, each for different occasions.

Cult of Mac is citing a “previously reliable source” on this story. They claim that retail stores are seeing dwindling supplied of the Magic Mouse, and not seeing any replacements.If you want to grab a Magic Mouse before they disappear forever, they are available through Apple’s online store for $69.00.

The Magic Trackpad is also available for the same price.

Find My Mac Now Available for Developers

A year ago, Apple introduced a service called “Find My iPhone” which would let users locate, lock, and even wipe the iOS device from anywhere. Today, a similar service for Mac has been made available to developers with early access to Apple’s iCloud service. The service is called “Find My Mac” and it lets users to locate, lock, and even wipe a lost Mac.

Find My Mac

The new service shares a close resemblance to the “Find My iPhone” service Apple offers for free. MacRumors reports that the service is able to locate a Mac’s network even though it lacks a GPS chip. “Find My Mac” is able to locate the Mac’s location by using WiFi networks.

When a user tries to locate a Mac, they have the option to play a sound, send a message, lock the screen, and erase the hard drive. In addition, after a Mac is locked by “Find My Mac” a user will be required to input a four digit PIN code to regain access to the Mac. The service is expected to be released this fall along with iCloud.

On Monday, it was reported that Apple activated the login page for iCloud, though it is only a developer preview for now.


At Google, Left Hand Unaware Of What Right Hand’s Doing

Today morning, the anti-Microsoft and anti-patent teams joined voices in slamming Microsoft (and Apple) for strangling Android with patents. We wrote about how Google tried to take the moral high ground and ride on their high horse of (non-existent) openness into the bliss of community love.

Google’s David Drummond implied Microsoft and Apple were working together to make it difficult for OEMs to use Android using patent lawsuits as leverage. Google’s Eric Schmidt has made bold challenges  that competition is not innovating and instead using patents against Android. As it turns out, Microsoft invited Google to join them in the bid for Nortel patents and Google’s lawyer (Kent Walker) declined. Yes, they said that they didn’t want to be a part of the consortium. Now, with that in mind, a long blog post, slamming Microsoft and Apple with the title “When patents attack” seems rather intriguing. Why would you first say that you don’t want to be a part of the team and then accuse the team of not playing fair? They asked you to join, you declined, your loss.

What makes this saga interesting is that the anti-Microsoft feeling was quite evident. Tech reporters pointed their guns at Microsoft calling them evil when in fact Microsoft presented Google with an olive branch that Google arrogantly declined. And in attempt to score brownie points ended up making a PR blunder by presenting skewed version of the story.

Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith remarked on Twitter:


Microsoft’s corporate communications lead shared with the Internet the screenshot of Kent Walker’s (Google Attorney) email:

kent walker

GmailMan no deliver mail, Google?

Google: “Microsoft and Apple are Using Patents as a Weapon to Stop Innovation”

The patent wars just got official. Google has posted an official statement blaming Microsoft, Apple and Oracle for carrying out “a hostile, organized campaign against Android.” The post by David Drummond, SVP and Chief Legal Officer at Google, elaborates how Microsoft and Apple first acquired Novell’s old patents, and now Nortel’s patents, just to make sure Google didn’t get them.

Microsoft has been trying to profit at the expense of Android, seeking $15 license fees from Android manufacturers like Samsung for every Android device that they sell. Apple has also been involved in litigation against HTC and Samsung over iPhone design patents.

Google accused them of “attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.”


David also pointed out how Microsoft and Apple’s anti-competitive strategies are escalating the cost of patents. The price of the Nortel patent portfolio which was estimated to be worth less than a billion dollars was bid up to $4.5 billion. Even InterDigital, the latest company on the block with a large patent portfolio is likely to be sold for more than $5 billion (its market cap just a month ago was less than $2 billion), just for its 8,800 patents.

Even Google has been trying to buy some patents to defend itself against its competitors. “We’re also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices — and fewer choices for their next phone.”

Google also pointed out that the Nortel story is far from over; that the Department of Justice is ” looking into whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents for anti-competitive means.”

One thing is for certain, with Google taking it public, it’s definitely going to get even more interesting.

Apple Looking Overseas for Ron Johnson Replacement

Ron Johnson

A month ago, it was reported that Ron Johnson would be leaving Apple. Now, according to a new report, Apple has hired a global recruitment firm to find a new retail executive abroad with hopes of finding a replacement with international retail experience.

People familiar with the matter indicated to The Wall Street Journal that Apple has hired recruiting firm Egon Zehnder. Egon Zehnder started in Europe and has expanded its operations to 37 countries since its founding in 1964. The firm  is ranked as one of the top five global executive search firms. This move by Apple is considered “unusual” since the company is known for being highly secretive.

In addition, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs is said to be involved in the decision to employ a recruitment firm. A source says that, Jobs chose Egon Zehnder because “he wants to consider executives who are based abroad”.  “As with any search, it will be broad,” one person familiar with the matter said,  suggesting that the decision to consider American executives will depend on what Apple decides it needs for the role.

Ron Johnson announced in June that he will leave Apple on November 1st to become the new CEO of J.C. Penney. Apple at that time said it was “actively recruiting” for a new head of retail.