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Russian President Medvedev a Mac User

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President Dimitry Medvedev governs Russia from what looks like a Mac Book Pro, if photos released by the Kremlin are any indication. Something about a guy with an open shirt, no tie and a manageable pile of papers running a country doesn’t look right to me. It looks like the Russian government uses plenty of PCs, if the equipment in the background is any indication.
Medvedev, not new to the Apple world, has been also seen with an iPhone, before it was available on the local market.

Via The Unoffical Apple Weblog

WSJ Report: “Father of the iPod” Tony Fadell to Leave Apple

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Tony Fadell, Apple’s Senior VP of the iPod division and the man who first brought the idea of a small hard drive-based music player to the company, will step down shortly, according to the Wall Street Journal. He joined the company in 2001, setting up the first iPod engineering team and overseeing its design.

According to the Journal, Mark Papermaster, the IBM VP that is being sued by Big Blue to try to stop him from working for Apple, will take over the role. This all makes sense — Steve Jobs has publicly stated that Apple bought PA-Semi in order to develop systems on a chip to power iPods and iPhones, and Papermaster is a total guru of the POWER architecture upon which PowerPC chips and, in turn, PA-Semi’s silicon, are based.

Fadell is one of Apple’s least-known legends, even though he should be credit more than anyone else with creating the iPod. It’s a shame to see him go, but Apple tends to be a place where people burn out fast, and Tony rose incredibly quickly from contractor to SVP in five years.

No New Apple Gear for the Holidays

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With refreshed Apple iPod and notebook computer product lines having hit the shelves in the past few months we wouldn’t exactly call it a lump of coal in our stocking, but some people are bound to be disappointed there will be no new products from the company in time for holiday gift buying.

Apple spokesman Bill Evans said, “”Our holiday line-up is set,” according to a report today at Macworld.

The official word out of Cupertino would seem to quash a host of recent speculation regarding the MacMini, AppleTV and even the iMac, which was already juiced with new processors in the spring.

Seems logical Apple would feel comfortable with the lineup it has in place going into what promises to be a nervous retail season amidst what some are calling the worst economic downturn in 50 years.

Apple Store Field Trips Combine Marketing & Education

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Image credit: Josh Helfferich

Back in October, blogger John Gruber wrote off the Apple Retail Store Field Trip program for K-12 schools, calling the taint of education with consumer advertising “sickening” and “appalling.”

Over the weekend, however, Fraser Spiers, a teacher in the UK, posted an account of the field trip his class took to an Apple Store across the pond that makes Gruber’s dismissal seem mean and wrong.

According to Spiers’ account, “The teacher in charge considered that the lesson had been very well designed from an educational perspective and was very appropriate for the age and stage the children were at.” Students were provided a half dozen computers in the store and given instruction on making podcasts in GarageBand, including using Photo Booth to add chapter artwork and burning the CD in iTunes. At the end of the trip each student came away with a CD of their finished podcast and a free t-shirt.

While it’s probably a good idea to be skeptical about corporate interests getting too closely involved in education, Apple’s field trip program isn’t exactly egregious on the scale of, say, ChannelOne, the 12-minute television program seen daily by an estimated eight million public school students in the United States. Studies of ChannelOne programming found that 20 percent of its air time is spent on coverage of ”recent political, economic, social and cultural stories,” while the other 80 percent is advertising, sports, weather and natural disasters.

Given Apple’s longstanding relationship with and loyal embrace by the K-12 education market in the US, together with the fact that kids get what Speirs described as “a high quality and low cost afternoon trip that the children thoroughly enjoyed and learned from,” I’d have to come down on the side of giving the company props for offering a unique and valuable service.

iPod a Steal in Australia

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If you’re going down under, or know someone who is, have them pick up an iPod for you. The free fall of the Australian dollar has made it the cheapest place to buy one.

A survey of 62 countries found that an Apple iPod 8gb nano, measured in US dollars, cost $131.95 US dollars in Australia. That’s five percent cheaper than in Indonesia, where the same iPod would cost $138.47.

In Hong Kong, which used to top the cheap iPod scale, the same MP3 player now costs $148.36, almost exactly what it retails for in the US, $149.

Ok, so a “currency discount” of about 14% percent isn’t enough to warrant consumer electronics spending spree down under but it’s interesting to see how the iPod indicator/Big Mac idex on these prices fluctuates.

Via AFP

Netflix for Mac Beta is Live Now

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Just a few days after announcing that Mac support for Netflix’s Watch Instantly service was on the way, the company has opened the door to its public beta here. With a quick install of Microsoft Silverlight 2.0, you’ll be good to go — not even a browser restart was necessary for me. I’ve been playing with it for about an hour now, and I’m really impressed. At least on my (admittedly brand-new) MacBook, it loads almost instantly, the video and audio quality is great, and the suggestions really do mesh with my taste. And none of the bizarre error messages I’ve seen in reviews of the older Windows version.

The site suggests that a 1.5 Ghz Intel chip is the minimum for Mac support. Anyone with an older machine had the chance to put this service through its paces?

Carnegie Mellon Design Student’s Pedestal Response

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This iPod speaker dock has been on display in Carnegie Mellon University’s design department for quite some time now. After weeks of trying to remember my camera when I’d be near the building, Lonnie’s post helped put the camera in my hands and my body in front of the display case.

It seems as though iPod docks are in vogue for design students. How many of you have made iPod “pedestals”?

IBM Sues to Keep Chip Design Guru from Joining Apple

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Apple’s continuing quest to develop in-house microprocessor design capabilities hit a roadblock today, when IBM filed suit seeking to block one of its chief design architects from joining the Apple team.

Mark Papermaster, IBM’s former vice president of microprocessor technology development, had hoped to join the company in November to begin working closely with Steve Jobs and other Apple executives shaping the development of proprietary processors for servers and handheld devices.

In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, IBM attorneys described Papermaster as “IBM’s top expert in Power architecture and technology.” He most recently managed IBM’s blade server division and is also the author of several papers on chip development at IBM. The New York computer giant used to make PowerPC processors for Apple before the company switched to Intel’s processors in 2005.

CNet writer Tom Krazit penned a wide ranging article discussing the various possibilities Papermaster’s move to Apple could signal, from increased focus on ambitions in the enterprise market and cloud computing services, to continuing development of mobile platform processors begun with the company’s purchase of PA Semi earlier in the year.

In the end, he suggests “Papermaster’s hire might wind up as a partial solution to all those questions over what Apple should do with its pile of cash: give a chunk of it to IBM to make this case go away.”

Study: iPhones Favorite Of Low-Income Gadget Fans

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It seems unlike Apple, which has scoffed at inexpensive Macs and been viewed as catering to higher-income consumers. However a new study suggests the iPhone is fast becoming a favorite of low-income buyers.

From June through August, iPhone sales grew 48 percent in households earning between $25,000 and $50,000 compared to 21 percent growth overall, according to comScore.

The researchers found low-income consumers see the iPhone as a way to consolidate costs of a phone, broadband connection and music device.