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Amazon.com to sell music downloads September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets, Internet, Music.
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Amazon.com to sell music downloads as SpiralFrog goes for free

The world of online music stores is growing rapidly as Amazon.com  has started testing a digital-music download service to compete with Apple’s iTunes, while another iPod killer, SpiralFrog plans to offer free downloads of millions of tracks, legally.

The Amazon MP3 store will allow shoppers to buy and download individual songs or entire albums that can be copied to any device or computer, burned onto CDs and played on most types of PCs and music players, including Apple’s iPod or iPhone. Songs will cost 89-99 cents each and albums will sell for $5.99 to $9.99.

Amazon.com said the new service will include tracks from more than 20,000 record labels and they will be available in the MP3 format without anti-copying programmes known as digital rights management software (DRM).

iTunes was the largest online music store in 2006, with 70% of the market, according to research firm NPD Group. But record companies, such as the giant Universal Music Group which controls 25% of the world music marke, are trying to reduce Apple’s domination of the digital music marketplace by refused to renew a long-term agreements to sell their music on iTunes.

Apple sold more than 3 billion songs since iTunes’s April 2003 debut and the service currently offers more than 5 mln songs, 550 TV shows and 500 movies. On the other hand, as music lovers been getting free music online since the days of Napster, peer-to-peer sites such as Limewire and Bit Torrent are getting more common, but are also deemed in violation of copyright and can expose users to viruses and malware, not to mention poor recordings.

Newcomer SpiralFrog has the support of dozens of music companies, including Universal Music Group and the site offers more than 750,000 songs for free, including popular tracks from U2, Timbaland, Amy Winehouse and others. The only snag is that SpiralFrog tracks cannot be downloaded to iPods, by far the most popular of all portable media players, though downloads can happen to Windows-compatible devices.

Users also have to renew their free subscriptions every month to retain access to the SpiralFrog library, at which time they will also be required to fill out a survey on their music and buying habits. They will have to wait 90 seconds for every download, during which time they will hopefully look at ads which is where SpiralFrog aims to make money.

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No iPhone shortage this Christmas September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets, Mobile Telecoms.
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Apple’s doubling production to meet demand

There might be queues aplenty on iPhone launch day on Friday 9 November, but there certainly won’t be a shortage of phones.

Sources close to Apple say the company is nearly doubling the number of iPhones it’s making ahead of Christmas from the originally planned 1.54 million, to a staggering 2.7 million.

That’s presumably to meet rising demand from the US following the $200 (£98) price cut in the iPhone’s price there, while also satisfying eager iPhone buyers in the UK, France and Germany.

If the increased production numbers are true, then Apple will have also busted its own stats for the whole of 2007, with 4.8 million phones to be built, compared to the 3.6 million it had originally predicted. Apple says it hopes to sell 10 miillon iPhones by the end of 2008.

Parlez-vous iPod? September 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets.
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Foreign phrases at your fingertips with new series of audio tracks

You’re in a busy train station in Paris and need to buy a ticket, but you draw a blank under the impatient clerk’s wilting glare. Time to panic? Nope, instead you pull out your iPod and with a couple of clicks hear and see the French language phrases you need.

If you’re one of the 40 million people with iPods or other MP3 players, you can take advantage of a new audio and visual phrasebook for travellers called iSpeak French by Alex Chapin ($15.95, also available in German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese).

It allows you to see and hear hundreds of words and phrases, which you can use as study tools to prep for an upcoming trip or as a language reference while you’re on the road. You’re never more than three clicks away from any of the words or phrases.

Downloading the phrasebook into your iPod gives you access to nearly 1,500 audio tracks, organized into categories like finding accommodations, arranging transport and dining out. And when trouble inevitably arises, you’ll be able to say, “My car won’t start,” “The bill is not correct,” or if all else fails, “I want to call a lawyer”, all phrases included in the book.

You can locate the words and phrases on your iPod in the same way you find music files, by browsing Artists or Genres. Using Playlists, you can create your own dictation by choosing titles from various parts of the book.

Words and phrases scroll by on the screen as they play, in French and English. But if your player doesn’t have a screen, this feature won’t be available and you’ll have to make do with the hard-copy booklet included for your reference.

I found that downloading was straightforward enough. But be warned, the phrasebook does use a lot of memory, about two gigabytes, or half of the memory available in my iPod Nano. Depending on how much memory you have, you might not have much, if any, space left for music, audiobooks or other applications.

As language lessons go, this is fairly basic. It doesn’t include pronunciation guides, grammar rules or conversations. But it does make excellent use of the memory and organizational abilities of iPods and other MP3 players. Available at leading bookstores and online at Chapters and Amazon.

Apple launches Safari for Windows July 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple.
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US computer giant Apple has released a version of its web browser Safari for Windows XP and Vista.

The browser will be competing head to head with Microsoft’s popular Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla’s Firefox. According to California-based Apple, Safari 3 is currently the fastest browser running on Windows. Apple said it can render web pages up to twice as fast as IE 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2.

Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple, made the announcement at a conference of developers for Apple products in San Francisco, California, on Monday afternoon. “We think Windows users are going to be really impressed when they see how fast and intuitive web browsing can be with Safari,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of Windows users already use iTunes, and we look forward to turning them on to Safari’s superior browsing experience too.”

Safari 3 offers an “easy to use” bookmark manager, tabbed browsing and a built-in RSS reader to quickly scan the latest news and information. Other Safari features include SnapBack, one-click access to an initial search query, and resizable text fields.

Microsoft’s IE has a 78 per cent share of the browser market, while Safari holds just a 5 per cent share, according to market research firm IDC.

Safari 3 public beta is available as a free download at www.apple.com/safari

Gadget geeks dissect the iPhone July 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets, Mobile Telecoms.
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It took Apple more than six months to build the iPhone but curious gadget fanatics needed only minutes to tear one apart.

Within hours of the first iPhones going on sale in the US on Friday, enthusiasts scrambled to be the first to discover what makes the devices tick, posting photos and videos of disassembled phones on the Internet. The information is more than just academic.

Apple keeps a tight grip on information about parts suppliers so “tear downs” of its products are closely watched by investors keen to figure out how to place their bets. In the past word that a particular part was being used in Apple’s popular iPod music players has sent that company’s shares higher.

“With every new release of an Apple product, the hype and interest ratchets up a notch,” said Andrew Rassweiler, an analyst with market research firm iSuppli.

Mr Rassweiler and his team at iSuppli were working through the weekend to catalogue the phone’s guts for a report estimating the cost of every component, crucial for figuring how much it cost Apple to make each iPhone. “We have had more people thrown at it this week than any other previous product,” Rassweiler said.