Apple Working on 15 Inch Ultra Thin Mac Notebook

MacRumors has reported that Apple is finishing up work on a brand new 15″ Mac notebook in a form factor similar to the current generation of Macbook Airs. TUAW reports that this new laptop, along with a 17 inch version, will hold the Macbook Pro branding.

Apple has made some significant changes in its laptop line in the past couple years. First came the original MacBook Air, which changed how we thought a laptop could look. With the most recent update, the Air has replaced the old White MacBook that was the long standing low end Mac laptop.

A large number of us in the industry now expect the standard features of the MacBook Air to make their way to the high-end MacBook Pros. The key items that are mentioned are the integrated SSDs and the lack of optical drives. Those two changes make it possible to take a large amount of the size from body of the computers.

These changes would mark a dynamic shift in Apple’s attitude towards physical media. While it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Apple to completely ditch a format (floppy disk), that would mean skipping the BluRay altogether. However, due to the popularity or the thin machines, it would make sense for Apple to slim down the MacBook Pros.

The timing for the supposed ultra-thin notebook is still unknown. Apple did just release new versions of the MacBook Air a few weeks ago. The MacBook Pro line was just refreshed in February, so any release for that product would have to be at least towards the end of the year.

Is This The iPhone 5 Design? Chinese Case Makers Think So [Rumor]

It seems like there are new rumors about the suspected new iPhone. We have seen all kinds of crazy ideas, including a clear iPhone, NFC compatibility, and even the idea of a mini-iPhone. The only thing we know with any certainty is that Apple is probably working a new version of the worlds best selling smart phone.

According to a set of images released to, we now have some idea what Apple has up its sleeve. MobileFun is the website that originally broke the case designs that eventually matched up with the iPad 2, and they have now released a set of prototype designs for the iPhone 5.

Confirmed by two spererate case manufacturers in China, the designs show off a number of features of the upcoming phone. For starters, the display seems to run from edge to edge across the face of the phone. This will make the usable screen space supposedly upwards of 4 inches without increasing the physical size of the device.

From the designs, we can also see that the form factor is drastically different from the iPhone 4. It seems that Apple is departing from its squared design and heading back to a rounded back for its next smart phone. It looks like the bevel will be similar to the iPad 2. Personally, I like that design choice, as I find my iPad 2 very nice to hold.

It important to remember that Apple made a purchase of a number of glass cutting machines. While the designs don’t show there being curved glass on the face of the device, it can’t be ruled out completely. Its possible that the curved back could be made of glass, which would bridge the gap between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 quite nicely.

The last big change that the cases show is the control system. Steve Jobs originally intended the iPhone to have no control button, and it looks like he may have gotten his wish. According to MobileFun, the home button has been replaced by a “touch-sensitive ovaloid area.” While that name feels a little silly, it would be a great new feature.

The touch sensitive area would allow for many Lion-esque touch gestures for the phone. You would be able to change songs in iTunes, navigate screens, and even get to your home screen from anywhere. It would make a great change for the iPhone, and allow for even more gestures in iOS 5.

The last big change that we can see in these designs is the position of the side buttons. According to the designs, they have all swapped sides. The lock toggle is now really close to the camera, and the volume buttons have moved down to below the halfway point. Its important to note that the possibility for touch sensitive side buttons.

So there you have it, an in-depth look at what might be the iPhone 5. Now, all of this is just speculation based on a pair of Chinese case designs. While those have been good sources in the past, they have also been wrong. Be sure not to put all your hopes on this design, as we won’t know anything until Apple shows us the new design.

What Apple Could Do With its Billions in Cash

Ever since Apple declared its spectacular quarterly results, I have been wondering what it could do with the billions of dollars it has amassed as cash reserves. When you have $76.2 billion in cash, and you keep generating cash faster than any other company, you have very little to fear about and can afford to make a lot of bold moves.

Right now, Apple could spend all its cash in the best possible way by making some acquisitions. Even though some of its stock holders are demanding a dividend, I would rather have Apple use it up in some big-ticket acquisition that makes strategic sense rather than distributing it as dividends.


Buy InterDigital ($3.3 billion)

Now that Apple has snatched away the Nortel patent portfolio from Google, it’s desperate to buy a huge portfolio of wireless patents from some other company to protect itself and its hardware partners from getting sued by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and numerous patent trolls.

As we posted earlier, both Apple and Google are already in negotiations to buy InterDigital, which has over 8,800 patents related to wireless technology. It could just buy it for around $3.3 billion.

Buy Motorola ($15.5 billion)

Motorola is rumored to be another acquisition target for those scouting for patents. It has close to 17,000 patents and has applied for 7,500 more. It is easily worth more than $15 billion, if Nortel’s 6,000 patents was worth $4.5 billion.

If Apple acquires Motorola, then besides the patents, Apple could also shut down a major Android device manufacturer.

With these two acquisitions combined, there would be no company which could make a smartphone without infringing on at least one of Apple’s 40,000 patents. Apple could rake in billions in licensing fees and damages every year.

Buy ARM ($8 billion + $13.15 billion)

ARM Holdings is the single most important company which powers almost every smartphone out there. All chip makers license technology from ARM to make the processors and chipsets which power their devices.

While buying ARM may not allow Apple to completely control the smartphone industry, it will definitely give it a lot of leverage over the other manufacturers.

Buy Hulu and Netflix ($2 billion + $13.75 billion)

By buying Hulu and Netflix for around $15 billion, Apple could become the number one player in the digital TV business. These two acquisitions would also fit in perfectly with its Apple TV offering. The TV market is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the long run. It could also boost Apple TV sales and make it the next iPod or iPhone.

The total for all these acquisitions comes to just about $55 billion. We still have around $20 billion left, and I’m already running out of ideas.

So here’s one last idea.

Sell iPhones and iPads at Cost

Apple has a huge operating margin on the iPhone and iPad. It takes up a majority of the profits of the entire smartphone industry despite having much lower total sales. Despite its charging a hefty margin, it is still able to price its products (at least the iPad) lower than any Android tablet, due to its ability to acquire components at a much lower cost.

If Apple were to sell the iPhone and the iPad at what it costs it to make them, it would probably be able to completely dominate the market and cut Android’s smartphone market share down to size. It already dominates the tablet market, but if its starts selling iPad at cost, it will obliterate its competitors completely, before they even enter the market properly.

$20 billion would be enough cash to sustain Apple for a few years, and Apple will continue making money by selling its content on iTunes – apps, games, movies, videos, TV shows etc. It should make enough from Hulu, Netflix and ARM to sustain it in perpetuity. I doubt its competitors will be able to claim predatory pricing, even if Apple sells it at cost, as it could claim that it makes money from its ecosystem.

If everything goes as planned, in a few years, Apple could probably be worth more than Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, HP, IBM and Samsung combined.

Note: In this post, I have just assumed that the current market cap (and not the enterprise value) would be the purchase price of that company. I’m also assuming that Apple would be able to buy these companies without any antitrust lawsuits or other hassles.

Nokia Ovi Store Now Has 50,000 Apps

Ovi StoreNokia, which recently posted very disappointing quarterly results, finally has some good news. The Ovi Store, Nokia’s application store, just hit a major milestone – it now has more than 50,000 apps.

MobileBusinessBriefing reports that there are now more than 50,000 apps available in the Ovi Store. Nearly 6.5 million apps are now downloaded from the Ovi store every day.

While the numbers are very encouraging, they are still much lower than the Apple App Store and the Android Market. The App Store has over 425,000 apps, and the Android Market has more than 250,000 apps. The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace currently offers close to 27,000 apps.

Both Apple and Android have overtaken Nokia in terms of smartphone sales, but Nokia still has a very large installed user base around the world, around 225 million users. It recently released devices powered by the new Symbian Anna OS, but will be shifting its focus to a new platform – Windows Phone 7 – soon.

Nokia will also be launching the Nokia N9, a MeeGo based device soon. It also restated its vision for QT based apps, which will run on both platforms – Symbian and MeeGo. Unfortunately, QT based apps wouldn’t run on Windows Phone 7 devices, which means developers will have to choose between the two options.

Apple Issues Mac OS X 10.6.8 Supplemental Update for Snow Leopard

Apple has issued a supplemental update for users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 on their Macs.

This is the first update by Apple for Snow Leapord post Mac OS X Lion release. The last update was almost a month back with notable features like enhancements to the Mac App Store and built-in protection against known variants of Mac Defender malware, and had updates to make transition to Lion easier.

This Supplemental 10.19 MB update delivers a handful of final fixes for the previous-generation operating system.

The Mac OS X 10.6.8 Supplemental Update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 and resolves issues with:

– Transferring personal data, settings, and compatible applicationsfrom a Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard to a new Mac running Mac OS X Lion
Certain network printers that pause print jobs immediately and fail to complete
System audio that stops working when using HDMI or optical audio out

A similar 10.23MB update was released for Snow Leopard Server.

The supplemental and combo updates for Snow Leopard are all available on Apple’s website, or directly through Software Update. Direct links to update below :

Mac OS X 10.6.8 Supplemental Update (10.19 MB) – for users already on Mac OS X 10.6.8

Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update v.1.1 (453.55 MB) – delta release for users who have yet to update to Mac OS X 10.6.8

Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update Combo v1.1 (1.09 GB) – combo release for users who have yet to update to Mac OS X 10.6.8


Mac OS X 10.6.8 Server Supplemental Update (10.23 MB) – for users already on Mac OS X Server 10.6.8

Mac OS X Server v10.6.8 Update v1.1 (518.28 MB) – delta release for users who have yet to update to Mac OS X Server 10.6.8

Mac OS X Server v10.6.8 Update Combo v1.1 (1.18 GB) – combo release for users who have yet to update to Mac OS X Server 10.6.8

-links via MacRumours

Revealed: Beautiful Renderings Of Apple’s Grand Central Store

Apple Store Grand Central

This week Apple’s future Grand Central store has been getting a lot of attention. From rumors about Apple bidding for space in the Grand Central terminal to a rumor stating that their bid had been approved. Today, The Wall Street Journal has posted some gorgeous renderings of what the Apple Store in the Grand Central would look like.

In addition, more details have emerged about Apple’s future store in the Grand Central terminal. Their bid should be approved on Wednesday and Apple will begin construction immediately. A construction time of 4 months is estimated. Also, Apple is paying $5 million to Charlie Palmzer’s Metrazur restaurant to vacate its space on the terminal’s east balcony more than eight years before their lease expires. Crazy, but I guess that’s type of power an insanely large cash pile will offer a company!

Apple is paying Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur restaurant $5 million to vacate its space on the terminal’s east balcony more than eight years before its lease expires. The MTA will get significantly higher annual rent: $1.1 million from Apple vs. $263,997 from Metrazur.

The Apple Store will be located adjacent from the current vacant balcony on the northeast side of the terminal. Not only did the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) mention an upcoming Apple Store, but also announced that a Shack Shack was going to open in the Grand Central terminal. The MTA is very excited about the Apple Store and Shack Shack.

In addition to the space currently occupied by Metrazur, Apple will move into an adjacent, currently vacant balcony on the northeast side of the terminal.

I can’t imagine why any kid in Westchester would want to do anything other than go into Grand Central and shop at Apple and eat at Shake Shack,Rosen said.

I can’t even imagine the impact this store will have on Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue store. In four months, this store will probably leave the Fifth Avenue eating its own dust.


Voice-Controlled Virtual “Assistant” Coming to iOS

Apple Nuance

A new discovery by 9to5Mac, suggests that Apple will offer a feature-rich  voice recognition service in a future version of iOS called “Assistant”. Since the acquisition of Siri and partnership with Nuance, it has been rumored that Apple was planning to offer voice-related features in iOS. However, at WWDC 2011 Apple didn’t mention any such features during the iOS 5 demo.

Assistant in iOS

The screenshot above reveals a new feature called “Assistant” in iOS 5. “Assistant” is supposed to take voice data and user specific information to provide an amazing service to the user. The voice data is supposed to be crowd-sourced and users will have the option to securely send their data to Apple.  Currently, the feature is being developed and tested by Apple and may not be finished by the time the next-iPhone ships.

We can imagine a user asking their iPhone Assistantto setup a movie with one of their friends. The user might say setup movie with Markand based on Mark’s contact info and the user’s location data, will be able to offer tickets to a local theater and send Mark the information.

In addition to voice data being used to bring results, “Assistant” is supposed to use information such as the device’s location, contact information, and music data. Also, 9to5Mac reports that there is a mention of “Assistant” hidden in the iOS SDK.

“ASSISTANT_ENABLE_WARNING” = “Assistant uses your voice input and other information like your contact names, song names, and location to understand your requests. This data will be sent to Apple to process your request and to improve Apple products and services.”

All signs are pointing towards what Siri might have been before its acquisition. Siri’s iOS app hasn’t been removed from the App Store  and is still available for download. Rumors have suggested that Apple is working closely with Nuance to offer a similar service to iOS users.

[image credit 9to5Mac]

RIM Fires 2000 Employees; Stock Near 52 Week Low

RIM which has been completely blindsided by the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android in the last couple years, is in very dire straits. Its market share in the U.S. market is dropping and its stock is getting hammered every day. It’s currently near its 52 week low, at around $25.

Its dual executive arrangement isn’t working at all, and none of its recent products have managed to attract consumers. The Blackberry Playbook is officially a failure and even its lineup of new Blackberry devices doesn’t really seem impressive.

The only saving grace for RIM has been Blackberry usage in corporates, but even that has been dropping gradually.

Today, RIM announced that it would be laying off about 2000 workers, or about 11 percent of its total workforce. It has also shuffled responsibilities among a few executives and announced a few high profile departures. It commented that it would be explaining the exact reasons for the job cuts during its second quarter results on September 15.

The old guard in the smartphone industry (Nokia and RIM) is under attack by the new entrants (Apple and Android). Nokia is cozying up with Microsoft, hoping that Windows Phone 7 will be the panacea for all its problems. RIM has migrated almost all its new devices to the QNX platform, but none of those moves seem to be working so far.

Samsung Beats Apple in Smartphone Sales

Samsung, the number one Android smartphone manufacturer which has seen tremendous success with its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets, may have beaten Apple in terms of smartphone sales in the last quarter.

Nokia, which held the lead in smartphone shipments sold close to 16.7 million devices, while Apple sold around 20.3 million iPhones last quarter.

According to a research report by Strategy Analytics, Samsung may have surpassed them both with smartphone device sales of up to 21 million.

Apple recently sued Samsung over the Galaxy line of Android devices, saying that the Galaxy smartphones infringe on Apple’s patents related to the iPhone and the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 has been a huge hit, selling over 3 million devices in less than 2 months.

With Nokia’s market share on the wane, Samsung is on its way to become the world’s number one mobile company. It already has a 20% market share, compared to Nokia’s 26%.

“Samsung’s Android portfolio is selling strongly in most regions. Samsung stands a reasonable chance of capturing the top spot on a quarterly basis if it can continue expanding its Android portfolio across high-growth markets like China and Brazil. Samsung and Apple will be at similar levels in smartphones by the end of the year.” said an analyst.

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 will launch in the U.S. market soon, which is likely to boost sales further.

Apple Scores 10-year Grand Central Terminal Store Deal

Grand Central

Earlier this week, a report suggested that Apple’s bid for space in the Grand Central would be approved soon. The NY Post  reports  that Apple has signed a ten year deal with the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) to open a store inside Grand Central. If true, this would be Apple’s largest store yet.

Tech giant Apple has inked a 10-year deal with the  MTA  to open its largest store in the world in Grand Central Terminal.

The store was originally rumored to be 16,000 square feet, but now the report suggests that Apple will open a 23,000 square foot store in Grand Central Terminal. Usually, Apple Stores are between 3,000 to 6,000 square feet. In addition, Apple will pay  the MTA $800,000 in rent annually for the station’s north and northwest balconies and  will go up to a million dollars annually. Apple will also pay for getting the space refurbished, and will have to cooperate with New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to get any changes made to the interior approved.

MTA officials predict the store bringing in a $5 million profit for itself yearly through shoppers visiting the Grand Central. Apple’s deal with the MTA is set for  a financial committee approval on Monday, and if it is approved the MTA’s board of directors will issue a final approval vote on Wednesday.