Tuesday, August 30, 2005

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Published: Tuesday August 30, 2005

Apple raises CEO tantrum threat level from yellow to red


Apple CEO Steve Jobs is likely on a hair-trigger once again today after an analyst outed the long-awaited iTunes phone as the Big Announcement due at Apple's "special event" next week (see "You have to understand, Mr. Jobs is very sensitive about premature elaboration"). Apple on Monday sent reporters a coy invitation hinting at an iPod-related announcement on Sept. 7. "1,000 songs in your pocket changed everything," the message read, referring to the introduction of the original iPod four years ago. "Here we go again." More of Apple's cloak and dagger nonsense, decloaked when Roger Entner, a telecommunications analyst with market research outfit Ovum tipped Apple's hand to the New York Times, telling the paper Apple will uncrate an iTunes-capable mobile phone alongside Motorola and Cingular.

Details on the device are few, although sources tell Engadget that it will be a white E790 that will hold only 100 songs because Apple is worried about cannibalizing iPod shuffle sales. It also may be the first of a line. "[The E790 won't be] the only iTunes phone," iPod Lounge reports. "ItÕs more like the iPod shuffle of iTunes phones. WeÕve heard that the bigger deal iTunes phone will be based upon -- we repeat that twice -- based upon MotorolaÕs existing E680i phone. Running on Linux, the E680i includes MPEG4 video capture and playback features, integrated stereo speakers for MP3/AAC/etc. audio, an FM radio and VGA camera, plus support for stereo Bluetooth wireless headphones. But it also has a touch-sensitive screen -- thereÕs your scroll wheel -- an MMC/SD card slot, and support for 3D games. What does 'based upon' really mean, though? We hear, and again, weÕll believe it when we see it, that this will be the 'cool' iTunes phone. If you were unenthusiastic about the E790Õs aesthetic, join the club. Supposedly, the exterior design of iTunes phone #2 is a mix of Apple and RAZR-era Motorola styling, the result being something that Apple fans will apparently really like."
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Q  U  O  T  E  D

"This one is only on the desktop, it's not a console game. It's called Disk Operating System. You actually use your keyboard to type in commands. The idea is to move files from one place to another. The great thing is that it only requires 640k of memory, which, of course, is all the memory anyone will ever need. It's only available for the Mac."

-- Dustin Davis pitches his latest game idea at The Penny Arcade Expo
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Microsoft IPTV venture to feature 24-hour Blue Screen Channel: We'll be hearing a lot more about Internet Protocol TV in the coming months now that Microsoft and television equipment manufacturer Scientific-Atlanta have allied to develop IPTV set-top boxes. Designed around Microsoft TVÕs IPTV Edition software, the boxes will will support next-generation MPEG-4 Park 10/H.264 and MicrosoftÕs own VC-1 compression system, and may be headed to market quite soon. SBC plans to use the boxes in an IPTV rollout promised for early 2006.
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Rio takes a dirt nap: First mover advantage doesn't count for much when your key competitor is the creator of the iPod. In the latest sign that Apple is battering its rivals, Japanese electronics maker D&M Holdings announced plans to discontinue its Rio digital music player and shutter the division that produces it. In a statement, D&M, which arguably created the portable consumer MP3 player with its 1998 introduction of the Rio PMP300, said it was no longer willing to invest in the intensely competitive market. "The original goal of strategic advantage with wholly owned and branded portable client devices was reconsidered in the context of the costs required to effectively scale and compete in this sector, where competition has grown intense," the company said. "Exiting this mass-market segment will enable D&M management to focus all of its resources on the core Premium AV business and advanced content server products." Translation: Apple ate our lunch. And our breakfast, dinner and midnight snack as well. "The iPod is definitely one reason [that Rio left]," Harry Wang, senior analyst for Parks Associates told Tom's Hardware. "Rio didn't have the resources to manufacture and design new products."
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Judge: Do I look like an RIAA patsy to you? The law firm representing Patricia Santangelo, the mother of five who's refused to settle the RIAA lawsuit brought against her (see "File-swappers find a mom to camp outside RIAA legal department"), has established a blog to document the case. Among the many items posted is a transcript of a May 6th court conference that's worth reading if you've followed the Recording Industry Association of America's campaign against its customers. In it, the judge presiding over the case refuses to push Santangelo toward a settlement when RIAA attorney Mike Maschio suggests steering her to the RIAA's "conference center":

MR. MASCHIO: No, all I was suggesting, your Honor, is that, if she doesn't come with an attorney, that the more direct way of doing this -- and this is just to facilitate things -- is to deal directly with the conference center.

THE COURT: Not once you've filed an action in my court.


THE COURT: You file an action in my court, your conference center is out of it. They have nothing to do with anything.

MR. MASCHIO: Okay. I'll give her my card.

THE COURT: If you are here, you are here as an officer of the court. You're taking up my time and cluttering up my calendar, so you will do it in the context of the Court. Maybe it will be with a magistrate judge, but you will be representing your client, not some conference center. And if your people want things to be done through the conference center, tell them not to bring lawsuits.

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I can't go cold turkey; you gotta front me some G4s until I get straight! Could it be that Apple's transition to the Intel architecture is already off schedule? The company has signed an agreement to purchase Power PC chips from Freescale Semiconductor for the next three years, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The contract calls for Freescale to fill any orders for the G4 chip that powers Apple's laptops and Mac mini that Apple places through 2008 -- a year beyond Apple's deadline for its transition to Intel. "On August 22, 2005, Apple Computer, Inc. ("Apple") and Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. ("Freescale") entered into a Purchase Agreement," the filing states. "Under the terms of the agreement, subject to certain conditions, Freescale is obligated to supply its microprocessors for orders placed by Apple through December 31, 2008. Apple is under no obligation to purchase Freescale microprocessors other than work in progress that was in place at the time the agreement was executed." The arrangement has been interpreted by some as a sign that Apple fears the transition to Intel chips may take longer than expected, or not go as smoothly as planned. That's certainly possible. More likely though, Apple is ensuring it has a sufficient supply of processors to meet the warranty demands of its current Apple Care customers.
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Dark meat: The other white meat: Breast or thigh? The classic dinner table question might soon be moot thanks to University of Georgia poultry science professor Daniel Fletcher. Fletcher has found a way to transform the dark meat of the chicken into the more desirable white meat by removing its fat content and color. "We grind the meat up, add excess water and make essentially meat slurry," Fletcher explained. "We then centrifuge it at a high speed, which breaks up the meat. What settles out are the raw, extracted layers." The result: a faux, moldable white meat. Fletcher says his concoction isn't really intended to be served by itself, but as an amendment to other chicken products. ''It tastes like something you would use with Hamburger Helper,'' he told The Associated Press. "It's a very neutral flavor. In some ways, it's like tofu. Tofu is something with so little character that if you eat it by itself, it'd put you to sleep.''
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And for the duration of your sentence, you're required to use an unpatched version of Windows 98: William Genovese's Internet handle was "illwill," but a more apt moniker might have been "schmuck." Genovese, who sold portions of the source code for Microsoft's Windows operating system to an undercover FBI agent back in 2004, pleaded guilty to charges associated with the theft on Monday. He was charged with one count of unlawfully distributing a trade secret in violation of the Economic Espionage Act. Genovese faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, although the U.S. Attorney General's office appears to bought his explanation that the incident was just a joke and recommended a sentence of between 10 to 30 months. "They're using me as an example, to show if you do something like this, they're going to [work] you over," Genovese told The Register earlier this year. "Why go after me? Why not go after the guy who took the code? Why not go after the guy who released it on the net? Everyone was throwing up Bit Torrent links and downloading it on IRC. I wrote on my website, joking, I have it, and if anybody wants it they can donate to my site."
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Off topic: Polygon Family: After a late night of drinking a husband and wife settle their differences video game style.

Send immortality devices to Jpaczkowski@realcities.com.

Good Morning Silicon Valley is written and edited with the able assistance of John Murrell.

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