Monday, 18 April 2011

Some important notices from AppleCentral

AppleCentral Blog terminates all service(s) today (18/04/2011) as the blog owner (AppleCentral Publications) is no longer a company.

In the positive side, AppleCentral just reached a 5 months milestone on 7 April.

This blog will no longer be updated from 18.04.2011. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Apple's iPad 2 launch predicted to have stronger sales but shorter lines

Initial sales of the iPad 2 are expected to surpass the first-generation device, but numerous new points of distribution for Friday's launch are predicted to dilute lines of people.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray noted Tuesday that the original iPad launched at 221 U.S. Apple retail stores and most of Best Buy's about 1,100 American stores last year. The iPad 2 will debut with much greater availability, at more than 10,000 stores of retail partners in addition to 236 current Apple retail stores.

The iPad will also go on sale in the U.S. Friday at Walmart, Target, and AT&T and Verizon stores. Munster expects the new model to outsell its predecessor, which reached a million sales in just 28 days.

"Generally, the length of the lines at Apple retail stores on launch day have been a helpful early indication of demand," Munster wrote in a note to investors. "However, factors like online pre-orders, simultaneous international launches, weather, timing in the day and the day of the week can all impact a consumer's willingness to go stand in line, but may not necessarily be indicative of immediate purchase intentions."

Apple's launch and expansion of the iPad 2 will occur much faster than with the original iPad. Both the Wi-Fi-only and 3G-capable models will be available for purchase from day one, as opposed to 2010, when the 3G model launched a month later in the U.S.


International expansion will occur more quickly too, as Apple plans to have the iPad 2 available in 27 countries in the first two weeks. Last year, iPad shortages forced Apple to delay the international launch of its touchscreen tablet by a month.

Munster has predicted that Apple will sell 5.5 million iPads in the device's launch quarter. That would easily best the 3.27 million iPads it sold in the same frame one year ago.

He also sees sales of the iPad 2 increasing to 5.6 million in its first full quarter of availability. During the company's fourth fiscal quarter of last year, it sold 4.19 million of the first-generation iPad.

Information retrieved from:

(C) 2011 Neil Hughes

Adobe releases Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool to support Apple's iOS

Adobe's newly released "Wallaby" application aims to expand support for Apple's line of iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad, by converting Flash files into HTML5.

The new application available from Adobe Labs carries a codename and is dubbed "experimental technology." It converts artwork and animation contained in Adobe Flash Professional files with the ".fla" extension into an HTML format that can be opened on the mobile Safari Web browser on iOS devices.

"This allows you to reuse and extend the reach of your content to devices that do not support the Flash runtimes," Adobe wrote.

Once Flash files are converted to HTML, they can be edited with an HTML editing tool, or by hand. Content can then be viewed on a supported browser like Apple's Safari.

Adobe noted that not all Flash Pro features are supported in the HTML5 format, like 3D transforms, ActionScript, streaming sound, and embedded or external video. Supported features include images, layers, scenes, font embedding and FrameSets.

Wallaby is best used with Apple's iOS 4.2, as previous versions of the mobile operating system have known masking issues with HTML files converted from Flash. Remaining issues, Adobe says, are a result of a bug in the mobile Safari browser, and include artifacts when zooming and borders around masked artwork.


The lack of support for Adobe Flash on the iOS platform has been a major point of contention between Adobe and Apple. The debate came to a head last year, when Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs penned an open letter in which he slammed Flash as technology unfit for the modern era of low-power touchscreen computing devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple even went as far as to stop shipping Macs with Flash preinstalled, claiming the change ensures that users will install the latest version of the software for enhanced security and performance. But tests also found that the removal of Flash from the new MacBook Air boosted battery life by two hours.

As an alternative to Flash, Apple has pushed the HTML5 standard for its mobile devices, as it does not require any special plugins for a browser. Flash was also touted as a major feature of the new Motorola Xoom tablet, though the hardware shipped last month lacking support for Adobe's plugin.

Information retrieved from:

(C) 2011 Sam Oliver

Monday, 7 March 2011

Commercial airlines look to Apple's iPad for paperless cockpits

With the Federal Aviation Administration granting early approval for the use of the iPad in airplane cockpits, major commercial airline companies like Delta are exploring the possibility of using Apple's touchscreen tablet to ditch paper maps entirely.

Delta Air Lines, the second-largest carrier in the world, is pursuing approval to test iPads and other tablet-style devices in its airline cockpits next quarter, a spokesman for the company told Bloomberg. The news comes just after the FAA endorsed the use of the iPad in a test project at Executive Jet Management.

The FAA began granting approval for "electronic flight bags," or computers for aviation use, in the last decade. But current options are bulky and heavy, with one aviation computer from Astronautics Corporation of America weighing 18 pounds. Apple's new iPad 2 weighs just 1.3 pounds.

On Feb. 1, the FAA granted the first approval for professional cockpit use of the iPad to Executive Jet Management. The Cincinnati-based company, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett's NetJets, made 250 flights as part of the certification process with maps and accessories created for the iPad by Boeing's aeronautical and charting company Jeppesen.

The FAA decision only applies, for now, to Buffett's company. But the report noted that "commercial carriers now have a template for winning permission for iPad use."

While Delta plans to begin exploring the use of the iPad next quarter, other major carriers like Alaska Airlines remain largely paper driven for charts. But the Alaska Air Group operation, with 116 aircraft, said it is already testing the iPad for some functions.

Officials with Jeppesen said they began developing iPad flight navigation software partially because pilots themselves requested it. The company said it plans to release similar software for tablets running the Google Android mobile operating system.

Information retrieved from:

(C) 2011 Katie Marsal

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Apple ships over 1 million MacBook Airs in new notebook's first quarter

The streamlined and lightweight family of MacBook Airs introduced by Apple late last year are a hit with consumers, who combined to demand shipments of more than 1 million of the new notebooks during the fourth quarter of last year.

Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tells AppleInsider that his most recent checks in Asia indicate Apple shipped a total of 1.1 million of its 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs during the three-month period ending December, making the new breed of ultra-thin portables one of the company's most successful Mac product launches ever.

Those figures are about 63% higher, or 400,000 units more, than the 700,000 units that Kuo had initially estimated. The figures also support an earlier claim by AppleInsider that the new MacBook Airs quickly grew to comprise more than a third Mac maker's notebook business in the fourth quarter, selling at a 1 to 2 ratio to the company's flagship MacBook Pro offerings.

For example, Apple, which doesn't break down its Mac or device sales by product family for competitive reasons, said it shipped just over 2.9 million notebook systems during the fourth quarter of 2010. At 1.1 million units, the new MacBook Airs captured a 40% slice of the company's notebook business and accounted for just over a quarter of its Mac business as a whole.

Sales of MacBook Airs remain robust during the current quarter but are tracking down about 40% from the levels seen in their introductory quarter to just shy of 700,000 units according to Kuo. However, he estimates the Cupertino-based company may still set a new Mac sales record during the quarter with strong sales of its new MacBook Pros more than offsetting the decline in MacBook Air units.

MacBook Air

In particular, he said, discussions with Apple's suppliers indicate the company's build plans call for the manufacture of upwards of 4.5 million Mac systems during the three-month period ending March. At those rates, Apple is likely to stand out as the only worldwide PC vendor to report material growth on a quarter-to-quarter basis, he added.

Brisk sales of the new MacBook Airs only serve to fortify claims that the design of the new portables can be seen as a harbinger for the future direction of Apple's other notebook families, which are similarly expected toadopt smaller footprints and shed yesteryear technologies -- such as hard disk and optical drives -- by the second half of 2012.

Information retrieved from:

(C) 2011 Kasper Jade

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Apple iOS App Store blamed for too many apps as Sony NGP is called "dead on arrival"

Speaking at the Game Developers Conference held in San Francisco this week, Trip Hawkins railed at Apple's App Store for having too many titles, while blaming Nintendo for inventing the concept of licensed games as Ngmoco proclaimed Sony's Next Generation Playstation "dead on arrival" due to the App Store's success.

My failures, your fault

Hawkins, once Apple's director of strategy and marketing, left the company in 1982 to found Electronic Arts. In 1991 he left EA to launch the failed 3DO gaming platform, which after attempting to transition itself into a games developer, went bankrupt and sold off its assets to French game publisher Ubisoft.

He's now running Digital Chocolate, which creates scores of games for mobile platforms, including Apple's iOS. However, he's not happy about the App Store, complaining that the company has "over-encouraged supply."

Hawkins told CNN that on average, the App Store earns publishers "$4,000 per application. Do you see a problem with that? That doesn't even pay for a really good foosball table," he told the audience from his conference panel post.

Apple now has over 400,000 iOS apps in its library, and recently said it has paid out $2 billion to developers. About a third of those are free, so even on average apps make far more than the $4,000 Hawkins said, even before advertising revenues are included. But more importantly, the App Store is a meritocracy, where good apps make a lot while thousands of junk apps make little or nothing.

"If we can't figure out how to make it a healthy ecosystem, it's not going to be a great business for developers to be able to remain employed in," Hawkins complained, before turning his attention to Nintendo, which originated the concept of a hardware platform creator licensing third party development and charging a cut of software developers' revenues.

"We used to have a free and open game business, and then Nintendo came along and introduced a thing called a licensing agreement," Hawkins said.

In 2008, Hawkins praised Apple's new App Store after his Digital Chocolate successfully launched several apps to "spectacularly pleasant surprise," but today he's changed his tune to say that the "overcrowding" of the App Store makes it hard for many games to get noticed.

He has set his sights on web-based games, saying "there is a place that we can all gravitate to over the years. Think more about the browser. The browser will set you free." Hawkins didn't elaborate on how the number of web pages compare with App Store titles, how gamers will discover web-based games any easier than in Apple's App Store, or how developers will make money from web games.

Nintendo fears change

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime panned the market for mobile games (which competes with dedicated handheld devices like the Nintendo DS), saying "the only thing that concerns us is that it becomes a distraction for developers, and it ends up driving development effort down a path that potentially has very little return."

Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata stated earlier in the conference keynote that "the objectives of smartphones and social-network platforms are not at all like ours. Their goal is just to gather as much software as possible, because quantity is what makes the money flow. Quantity is how they profit. The value of video-game software does not matter to them."

"When I look at retailers, and I see the $1 and free software, I have to determine that the owner doesn't care about the high value of software at all," Iwata later added. "I fear our business is dividing in a way that threatens the continued employment of those of us who make games."

Nintendo has refused to make games for iOS or other platforms after shifting its business from software development on early 80s consoles from Atari, Coleco and the Mattell Intellivision into an integrated platform business that sells console hardware, creates first party games, and earns licensing revenue from third party game developers, a model very similar to Apple's iOS.

A market for mobile apps and games

Apple entered the mobile software market and revolutionized how smartphone software was sold, creating the first viable market for mobile software. Speaking at the company's shareholder meeting last month, the company's leader of iOS development Scott Forstall pointed out that Apple has, in the iOS App Store, "created the best economy in software in the history of the planet."

Apple also brought its smartphone market to the iPod touch, which focused on games, and later expanded to the iPad, which supports a wide range of games, productivity apps and creative media titles, including Apple's own Pages, Keynote and Numbers, and the soon to be released iMovie and GarageBand titles.

Like Nintendo and every other game console developer, Apple licenses third party development and imposes a platform cut that helps support the App Store market. The difference is that Apple runs its App Store near break even, while other game platform makers rely upon licensing for the bulk of their profits, often selling hardware at a loss, as Microsoft and Sony have historically done.

The console makers' business model, which imposes a much steeper cut and fees upon developers, also makes it far harder for small indie developers to launch titles. Apple's App Store turned the tables, allowing individual programmers to launch iOS apps on a level playing field with big game development companies.

Consoles head toward online gaming, indie developers

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have more recently attempted to address the needs of indie developers via new download-based online stores, ranging from Nintendo's WiiWare to Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade.

Last month, the developer of World of Goo noted that it launched its popular title for iPad to find much higher sales and revenues compared to the console online stores and even the Steam store for desktop Mac and PC games.

"In the short term, we still think that if an independent developer can get their game on a console it’s a safer bet than playing the App Store lottery," the company said, "but one might wonder whether, in the long run, it even matters who wins the PSN / WiiWare / XBLA race."

App Store predicted to kill PSP and leave NGP 'dead on arrival'

Other game developers are even more supportive of Apple's App Store model, with Ngmoco's chief executive Neil Young saying "I think [Sony's] PSP is done and the new [NGP successor] is dead on arrival.

"It’s really difficult to compete with an App Store that has hundreds of thousands of applications and a wide range of options where the average price paid is around $1.20 and there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of free applications that are really high quality. So I just don’t think Sony’s going to be able to compete with that."

Nintendo has seen enthusiastic sales for its new 3DS handheld gaming device, but has been clearly pinched by the growth of Apple's iPhone, iPod touch and now the iPad in taking over territory in a space it has almost exclusively dominated for decades.

Information retrieved from:

(C) 2011 Daniel Eran Dilger

Friday, 4 March 2011

Apple negotiating for repeat downloads of iTunes music purchases

Apple is in negotiations with the major record labels to allow repeat downloads for music purchased through the iTunes Music Store, according to a new report.

According to people familiar with the matter, Apple is in talks with music companies, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group, to change its download policy to provide greater flexibility to iTunes customers, Bloomberg said on Thursday.

An updated agreement, which sources said could come as early as the middle of this year, would allow users to re-download purchased music, even after losing the original copies. Currently, Apple's iTunes Music Store does not offer free re-downloads of previously purchased music.

The service would allow downloads to iPads, iPhones and iPods linked to the same iTunes account, the report claimed, adding that such a move would be "a step closer to universal access to content centrally stored on the Internet." Apple has also "weighed plans" to revamp its MobileMe online storage service later this year, said one source.

Rumors of a centralized streaming media service from Apple through iTunes and MobileMe have persisted for years, gaining strength on news that Apple planned to spend over $1 billion on a massive data center in North Carolina.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed last month that the center will indeed be used for iTunes and MobileMe when it opens this spring. The server farm had originally been slated for completion by the end of 2010.

One recent report has suggested that Apple is planning a MobileMe digital online "locker" that would grant users access to their files, while a separate rumor claimed that iTunes media would be stored on a home computer and streamed over the Internet to connected devices.

Over the years, Apple has sought to leverage its continued success with the iTunes Music Store to negotiate more favorable contracts with the record companies. For example, Apple was successful in reaching a deal to remove DRM copy protections from iTunes music purchases in exchange for a variable pricing model.

More recently, Apple negotiated the extension of iTunes music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds.

Information retrieved from:

(C) 2011 Josh Ong