New MacBook Air and Mac Pro Models Coming This Week?

OS X Lion

Rumors have suggested that a MacBook Air and Mac Pro refresh is imminent. Today, 9 to 5 Mac reports  that a tipster  has revealed that Apple will be releasing new MacBook Air and Mac Pro models this week along with OS X Lion. “Mr.X” is supposed to be a reliable tipster.

According to their tipster,  Apple will be releasing four new MacBook Air models and will match up with the current lineup of two stock configurations each in the 11-inch and 13-inch sizes. The models numbers for these new MacBook Airs are:

MC965LL/A – K21, BETTER, BTR-USA
MC966LL/A – K21, BEST, BTR-USA
MC968LL/A – K78, BETTER, BTR-USA
MC969LL/A – K78, BEST, BTR-USA

The Mac Pro is also expected to get a refresh. Apple is expected to offer three standard stock configurations alongside a dedicated “server” configuration. The model numbers for the new Mac Pros are:

MC936LL/A – J40, ULTIMATE – USA
MC815LL/A – J40, BETTER – USA
MC816LL/A – J40, BEST – USA
MC914LL/A – J59, BEST – USA

Mr.X has not provided a specific release date, but according to rumors a launch date for July 14th is expected.

Apple and Samsung’s Love-Hate Relationship

Apple and Samsung have been in a legal tussle over smartphone patents since a few months now, with Apple alleging that Samsung blatantly copied the iPhone and the iPad to create the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.

Now if these were any two other companies, you would expect them to be bitter enemies and at the very least, stop conducting any business with each other. But while Apple and Samsung are both quite bitter, they surely haven’t ended their business relationship.

It’s because Samsung is one of the largest component suppliers for Apple’s products. It makes a lot of what makes Apple products work – displays, processors, flash memory etc. Samsung apparently sold Apple $5.7 billion worth of components last year, according to a Reuters report. So it’s not like only Apple is dependent on Samsung; even Samsung relies on Apple for a large portion of its total sales. Apple is Samsung’s second largest customer.

While Apple may be trying to find alternative sources for the components that power its devices, it’s not that easy. There are very few companies that could manage that kind of volume. Apple has been trying to diversify and spread out its suppliers, so that no one supplier has any leverage over Apple. Apple cannot afford to have its supply chain being held hostage by any one supplier; with the enormous demand for Apple products, any supply shortages would mean a lot of lost sales.

Apple has so far turned to Taiwan for most of its manufacturing and component needs, with companies like Foxconn, Quanta, Pegatron, Innolux and TSMC.

But Samsung still remains an indispensable partner, which is probably why Apple is still continuing its business relationship with it.

Both of them make a lot of money off each other. That’s probably why Tim Cook still considers Samsung “valuable component supplier” even though their mobile unit “crossed the line.” In the end, it’s all just good business.

References: Reuters

Apple Releases Two New iPhone 4 Ads

Today, Apple has released two new iPhone 4 commercials. One of the ads advertises  AirPlay and the other FaceTime. AirPlay allows users to easily stream  audio, video, and photos between devices. FaceTime allows  to easily make video calls on their iPhone 4 via a WiFi network.

Checkout the ads below –

AirPlay:

FaceTime:

Judging by the latest iPhone rumors, this might be the last iPhone 4 commercials before the next-gen iPhone announcement later this year.

Rumor: Apple to Launch iPod Touch with 3G in September

A very interesting rumor about the new version of the iPod Touch is working its way through the tech media right now. Apparently, a Dutch blog, Applespot, has reported that Apple might be working on 3G version of the iPod Touch.

According to their sources, Apple’s new iPod Touch 3G will launch in September, and it will work just like the iPhone. You can buy a 3G data plan from your ISP and insert the SIM card into the iPod Touch. It will, obviously, not support voice calling, since then it would be exactly the same as the iPhone.

Apple iPod Touch

While the source of the rumor isn’t very credible, I wouldn’t be very surprised if this did turn out to be true. Like the iPad, the iPod Touch could also have a 3G version. It’s only the logical next step for Apple, but what I’m worried about is, how it might affect iPhone sales.

Since the iPod Touch is substantially cheaper than the iPhone, launching a 3G version of the iPod Touch might actually cannibalize Apple’s iPhone sales. Using apps like Skype for VOIP calls and iMessage for text messaging, it could very well function just like an iPhone. One thing’s for sure, the carriers will definitely be happy with the increased data usage, though they might lose some voice revenue.

If Apple does launch an iPod Touch with 3G, it could also double up as an inexpensive version of the iPhone, sans the voice calling. It might be just what Apple needs to capture more market share and fight off competitors like Android and Windows Phone 7.

China Mobile iPhone 4 Prototype Spotted

MyDrivers.com has published an image of an iPhone  running on China Mobile’s 3G network. The English translation of their article can be read here.

iPhone (China Mobile)

In the picture above, there’s a China Mobile 3G logo in the  upper right corner. The phone appears to be running baseband software with version number 06.10.01, which hasn’t been released yet. In addition, it also doesn’t have an  IMEI number just like the iPhone 4 prototype. Usually evaluation devices  have no IMEI number. MacRumors points out that…

The third digit, a 0, suggests the phone was made in 2010. The next digit, which appears to be a 5, would have the phone manufactured towards the end of that year, in either the 50th, 51st or 52nd week.

Also, the  carrier name in the top left corner appears to be China Mobile, written in Chinese text which suggests that a  China Mobile compatible iPhone is coming to China Mobile’s 3G network soon.  In addition,  Apple COO Tim Cook was reportedly spotted at China Mobile’s headquarters.  Apple and China Mobile have been rumored to be working  together to ensure future iPhones are compatible with China Mobile’s upcoming 4G TD-LTE network.

Also, Shanghai Daily reports the carrier already had 5.6 million iPhone users on its 2G network as of the end of May, with 700,000 of those having been added during that month alone.

 

Final Space Shuttle Lifts Off With Two iPhones Aboard

Final Atlantis launch

Yesterday morning,  space shuttle Atlantis took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the final shuttle mission, STS-135. This launch marks the end of  more than a 30-year Shuttle program to explore and learn more about our universe and the solar system.

The STS-135 crew will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with more than 8,000 pounds of supplies and spare parts to sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired.  In addition, Atlantis is also carrying two iPhone 4’s  to the International Space Station (ISS) for experimentation. The iPhones are “space certified” and are loaded with a specially designed app called “Spacelab for iOS” that will let astronauts conduct experiements.

Limb Tracker – This navigation experiment will involve taking photographs of the Earth and matching an arc to the horizon through manipulation of an overlay. This performs the function roughly equivalent to a manualhorizon sensor. It will yield an estimate of altitude (height above the surface) and off axisangle, a measurement of the angle of the image with respect to the Earth’s center.

Sensor Cal – This sensor calibration experiment uses a series of photos of a reference image, combined with propagated information using three-axis gyro and accelerometer measurements to calibrate the gyros and the accelerometers (i.e. bias and scale coefficients). This will improve the knowledge and accuracy of subsequent measurements.

State Acq State Acquisition – This navigation experiment uses a series of photos of a reference image and of the Earth, combined with information from the three-axis gyro and accelerometer, to estimate the position of the spacecraft (latitude and longitude). The position estimation is generated by manipulating and matching a wireframe overlay of the Earth’s coastlines to the acquired Earth image(s). Performing multiple sequences, separated by a known amount of time, can permit estimation of the spacecraft’s orbit parameters.

LFI Lifecycle Flight Instrumentation – This experiment will characterize the effects of radiation on the device by monitoring certain areas of memory for Single Bit Upsets – an unintended change in value of a memory location caused by exposure to radiation.

The iPhone 4’s hardware is expected to perform very well in zero-gravity, and is being tested as an alternative to much more expensive equipment.  Once the experiments are complete, the phones will be returned to Earth via the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Flight data will be analyzed and then shared via the SpaceLab app.

(Photo taken  by  Robert Scoble)

 

Apple and Amazon Expect to Sell Most Tablets in Q3 2011

Apple iPadSo the third quarter of 2011 has already started, and it seems that the folks at Digitimes have gotten their hands on some really interesting data. In a post today, they have posted a list of the supply volume of tablets by all major manufacturers. Since most of the tablets are now manufactured in Taiwan and China, this could be quite an accurate indicator of the total tablet production by these companies.

According to the list, Apple, obviously, is the most optimistic about its tablet – the iPad. It has ordered close to 14-15 million iPad units from its hardware partners. The total orders are close to 22 million, so iPad production volumes will be close to 65-70% of the entire tablet market.

After Apple, the second largest order for tablets was given by Amazon. As we already know, rumors are that Amazon is planning to launch its own Android powered tablet by August 2011. Following the success of the Kindle, they seem to be quite optimistic about their tablet prospects. They have ordered close to 1.2 million units from their supply partners.

Every other Android tablet manufacturer, including Acer, Asus and Samsung has ordered between 750,000 and 900,000 units. HP and RIM have also ordered around the same number of their tablets – the TouchPad and the Playbook.

HTC, Motorola and Dell don’t seem very optimistic about the sales of their tablets. They have ordered less than 400,000 tablets each.

I was expecting Samsung to order much more, considering that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is currently the best Android Honeycomb tablet around. If Amazon can replicate the success of the Kindle in the tablet space, which seems very likely, it will have a much larger order in the next quarter.

LG Cuts Down Smartphone Sales Target by 20%

LG hasn’t seen much success with its Android smartphones, except for a few moderately successful ones like the dual core LG Optimus 2X or the budget LG Optimus One. It is, however, one of the largest phone manufacturers in the world.

Compared to LG, other manufacturers including Samsung and HTC have been successful in creating really popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S 2 and the HTC Sensation. The Samsung Galaxy 2 recently broke records by selling more than 3 million devices in 55 days.

Since LG doesn’t offer its smartphones at a significantly lower price point than Samsung or HTC, it hasn’t been able to attract customers from their camps.

Today, Park Jong Seok, the head of LG’s mobile business stated that LG expects to sell 24 million smartphones this year. This estimate is down 20% from the original estimate of 30 million units.

LG’s mobile phone division isn’t even breaking even right now; it had a $94 million operating loss in the first quarter of 2011. They don’t expect the mobile division to turn profitable in the second quarter as well.

Consumers are flocking to Samsung and Apple’s flagship devices – the Galaxy S 2 and the iPhone 4. LG recently launched the LG Optimus 3D, but it was overshadowed by the Samsung Galaxy S 2 soon after its launch.

LG is apparently working on a new device which will sport a 4.5 inch HD display. It may also launch the LG Optimus Pad in some international markets soon.

I wouldn’t be very bullish about LG’s prospects right now.

Android Still No. 1, Apple Moves Up to No. 2 in U.S. Smartphone Share

Although Android holds the No. 1 position and sits on top of the smartphone market, the battle for the second position between Apple and Blackberry got tougher and in the end it was Apple who made it, leaving behind RIM’s BlackBerry in the third position.

According to the report published by market research firm comScore, Android continues to dominate the smartphone world while Apple’s iOS ranks No. 2 and BlackBerry dropping to the third position followed by Microsoft’s Windows 7 at fourth position.

Apple Beats RIM's BlackBerry, Android Still No. 1

The reason behind Blackberry’s backsliding could be due to the delay in release of new models and the several problems faced by the company.  RIM is currently valued at about $14 billion which came down from $83 billion in June 2008.

RIM’s Blackberry OS has 24.7 percent in the the smartphone market share while Apple’s iOS now enjoys 26.6 percent share whereas Google’s Android OS saw a 5.1 percent rise making its total share 38.1 percent and topping the list.

During the three month average period ending in May 2011, Android and iOS were the only two platforms that saw growth of 5.1 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. Blackberry lost 4.2 percent while Microsoft losing 1.9 percent and Palm losing 0.4 percent share in the US market.

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Feb-11May-11Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers100.0%100.0%N/A
Google33.0%38.1%5.1
Apple25.2%26.6%1.4
RIM28.9%24.7%-4.2
Microsoft7.7%5.8%-1.9
Palm2.8%2.4%-0.4

The report also mentioned that Apple saw a significant growth in hardware sales, and rose from 7.5 percent to 8.7 percent. However, Samsung retained it’s position at the top with 24.8 percent restricting LG to second position with 20.9 percent. Motorola, on the other hand, had a slight decline of 1 percent, yet holding it’s position at three.

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Feb-11May-11Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers100.0%100.0%N/A
Samsung24.8%24.8%0.0
LG20.9%21.1%0.2
Motorola16.1%15.1%-1.0
Apple7.5%8.7%1.2
RIM8.6%8.1%-0.5

 

The research also dug up the mobile content usage by subscribers. It was reported that subscribers most used text messaging (69.5 percent) on their mobile device with a 0.7 percent rise. Browsers on the other hand, were used by 39.8 percent of subscribers (1.5 percent rise) while 38.6 used downloaded apps.

Social  networking or reading blogs,  however, saw a 1.8 percent growth with 26.8 percent while others enjoyed playing games (26.9 percent) and listening to music (18.6  percent)

Mobile Content Usage
3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Feb-11May-11Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers100.0%100.0%N/A
Sent text message to another phone68.8%69.5%0.7
Used browser38.3%39.8%1.5
Used downloaded apps36.6%38.6%2.0
Accessed social networking site or blog26.8%28.6%1.8
Played Games24.6%26.9%2.3
Listened to music on mobile phone17.5%18.6%1.1

Apple Never Bringing Final Cut Pro 6/7 Import to FCP X

In late June we reported that Apple has released a new version of its video editing powerhouse known as Final Cut. Final Cut Pro X was released to mixed reviews, with many professional editors claiming it was useless for their work. It seems as though Apple has heard their cries, and is choosing to ignore them.

Apple held a private briefing for enterprise contact in London about Final Cut Pro X. They addressed a number of concerns, but not really to anyone’s satisfaction. A summary of the briefing was posted to Twitter by @aPostEngineer. Here are the major points:

1. FCP XML in/out is coming via 3rd party soon…no FCP 6/7 support project support coming ever it seems…
2. Ability to buy ADDITIONAL FCP7 licenses for EXISTING enterprise deployments  coming in the next few weeks… 

3. FCPX EDL import/export coming soon…
4. FCPX AJA application coming soon for tape capture and layback…capture straight into FCPX [events].
5. XSAN support for FCPX coming in the next few weeks…
6. FCPX Broadcast video output via #Blackmagic & @AJAVideo coming soon…
7. Additional codec support for FCPX via 3rd Parties coming soon…
8. Customizable sequence TC in FCPX for master exports coming soon…
9. Some FCPX updates will be free some will cost…

Basically, the most desired features are not going to happen. If you want XML import of export, you can only get it through a third-party add-on. As for importing Final Cut Pro 6 or 7 files: It’s never happening. Looks like Apple is officially moving on.

On a positive note, Apple is going to allow current enterprise users to buy additional Final Cut Pro 7 licenses. This should give professional users the ability to wait for FCP X to get the plug-ins needed to make it useful. Then again, it’s possible that will never happen.