Europe Launches iTunes Investigation



_42758533_itunes203body_afp.jpgThe European Union has launched a price probe into Apple’s iTunes.

European regulators are investigating prices Apple charges for tunes in different countries and is accusing it of restricting choice.

European regulators say Apple and the record companies are violating rules that allow EU citizens to buy goods and services in other memeber countries without restriction. The iTunes store uses credit card details to check country of residence, which is used to determine prices and what music catalog is offered.

“Consumers can only buy music from the iTunes online stores in their country of residence and are therefore restricted in their choice of where to buy music,” EU competition spokesman Jonathan Todd told BBC News.

Apple said it had always wanted to offer a fully pan-European service, but was restricted by the demands of its music partners.

“We were advised by the music labels and publishers that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us,” it said in a statement.

Signatures From Original Mac Etched Onto PowerBook



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Australian Simon Clement had the back of his PowerBook laser etched with the specs of the original Mac and the signatures from inside the case.

The case of the original Macintosh was embossed on the inside with the names of the development team, led by Steve Jobs. “Artists sign their work,” he said at the time.

Here’s the details. And a Flickr set.

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More pix after the jump

Steve Hilariously Smug at EMI Press Conference



It’s good to be the king, isn’t it Steve? Especially when standing next to Damon Albarn, lead singer of The Good, The Bad and the Queen. Damn. Steve is relishing this DRM-free breakthrough with EMI:

“We are going to give iTunes customers a choice–the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.”

Hear that, other record companies? They’re Steve’s footsteps — you’re all prey. His smug grin is coming for you.

Fake Steve Takes On Real Questions




Pic by Jeffrey Sharp 

Fake Steve Jobs is a hero. While the real Steve is locked away running Apple and guiding breakthroughs like the iPhone, Fake Steve, who invented the friggin’ iPod, is giving revealing interviews to media organizations.

Finally, in a new interview with Engadget, Fake Steve really opens up:

I was really into NeXT, whatever happened with that?

Well, we had some issues around pricing. Like, we figured out what the product should cost, and then we multiplied that by four and set our prices that way. Turns out we were over-overpricing. When I returned to Apple we figured out how to overprice correctly. About 50% more than the reasonable price is about what people are wiling to pay to get a product that makes them cooler than everyone else. So now instedad of over-overpricing, we’re just overpricing. And as our results indicate, it’s working.

That’s why they pay this man the big bucks.

AppleTV Now Runs Full Mac OS X




It’s official – the AppleTV is the company’s most hacked piece of hardware since the Apple II+. Need proof? Less than two weeks after the launch of the living room digital media server, a hacker has loaded the $300 device with the full version of Mac OS X, creating the cheapest Mac ever.

Semthex at Hackint0sh pulled the trick, which involves swapping out Apple’s Mach Kernel for a new one that works on the cheap box. There’s a video which appears to validate the claim. This just feels like a nice novelty, though. For twice the price, you can get a machine with way more power and, most importantly, a much-larger hard drive. Plus, the idea of running Tiger on 256 MB of RAM just made me shudder.

How much longer will it be before someone gets a full install of Parallels Desktop running Vista up on the AppleTV?

Mac OS X Running on AppleTV [AppleTV Hacks]
Via Digg.

Bizarre Anomaly – Sale at SF Apple Store



Apple On Sale

It used to be that three things in life were inevitable: Death, taxes, and paying full Price at retail Apple Stores. Not anymore – scratch the last one off the list. Yes, Virginia – Apple does sell things at clearance prices sometimes.

I ducked into the Union Square Apple Store in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon and stumbled upon two big, clear plastic bins full of cut-rate merchandise – some of it Apple’s, including a Mighty Mouse for $10 off, Magsafe Power Adapters at almost 50 percent off, previous gen Mac minis for $70 off and, my personal favorite, the wretched official Apple iPod leather case for half price. If you’re in need of some gear, definitely check your local Apple Store to see if they’ve got something similar going.

I only got the one picture on my camera-phone – Apple employees were milling about, and I wasn’t in the mood to have my phone seized. Anyone else spotted a sale at an Apple Store?

DRM-Free iTunes



screenshot.jpg“Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store: DRM-Free Songs from EMI Available on iTunes for $1.29 in May” Apple

“We are going to give iTunes customers a choice–the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more,’ said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. ‘We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.”

Beatles And Steve Jobs Together at Last?



Steve Jobs launches the iPhone

Steve Jobs will go onstage at a special EMI press conference in London on Monday, sparking speculation that iTunes will finally sell Beatles songs.

Reports the BBC:

Beatles and iTunes talk growing Steve Jobs launches the iPhone Steve jobs teased fans with a Beatles song at the iPhone launch EMI is to hold a media event on Monday with Apple boss Steve Jobs as special guest, prompting speculation that Beatles songs will finally go online.

In an invite to media sent out on Sunday, EMI said it was announcing an “exciting new digital offering”.

There will also be a “special live performance” at the London event by an unnamed artist or band.

What’s worse, Metallica or Lightning?



Photo: Denver Post / Helen H. Richardson

A Colorado teenager was struck by lightning while mowing the lawn and listening to his iPod, according to the Denver Post. It appears the lightning struck his iPod and fried the earbud wires, severely burning the inside of his ears. Ouch. The paper reports:

Jason Bunch was listening to Metallica on his iPod while mowing the lawn outside his Castle Rock home Sunday afternoon when lightning hit him.

The last thing the 17-year-old remembers was that a storm was coming from the north and he had only about 15 minutes before he should go inside.

Next thing he knew, he was in his bed, bleeding from his ears and vomiting. He was barefoot and had taken off his burned T-shirt and gym shorts. He doesn’t know how he got back in the house.

Bunch’s ears were burned on the inside, and he’s lost some hearing, mostly on the right side. His hair was singed.

His face, chest, hands and right leg have freckle-size welts on them as if buckshot had come from inside his body out.

The wounds follow the line of his iPod, from his ears down his right side to his hip, where he was carrying the device. The iPod has a hole in the back, and the earbuds dissolved into green threads.

IPod-Compatible Sneakers From Apple And Nike



It’s a global mega-brand mashup!

Apple is teaming up with Nike to cross-promote sneakers and iPods. The footwear and earwear giants are soon launching a new line of iPod-compatible sneakers, plus a wireless pedometer-cum-connection-kit that pumps exercise feedback into runners’ ears. “Faster, fat ass!”

The Nike+iPod cross promotion encourages runners to buy a new pair of Nike+ sneakers, which have a little pocket for a wireless sensor. The wireless sensor is part of a $30 Nike+iPod Sport Kit from Apple, which is expected to ship within 60 days.

The Nike+iPod Sport Kit also includes a small receiver that plugs into the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod. Out on the road, the sensor sends data about time, distance, and pace to the iPod, which provides unspecified “workout-based voice feedback” while you run. Presumably, it’s encouraging.

Back at home, the iPod uploads the exercise data to the Mac or PC, and syncs with iTunes and the NikePlus website which records runs and sets goals. In addition, the site will allow runners to challenge each other to “virtual races” and download time- or distance-based workout routines. It will also offer sporty iMixes “chosen and introduced by top athletes.”


SanDisk’s Anti-iPod Campaign — Lemmings Redux?



SanDisk has launched a new advertising campaign that portrays iPod users as mindless sheep or robots.

The iDon’t campaign asks listeners to “Think for yourself” and “resist the monotony of the white earbuds.”

“Now is the time to break free from restrictive formats and a single source of music,” it says. “It’s time for choice, for freedom, for self-expression — and for all independent spirits to stand up and say “iDont.” You don’t need to follow. Now there is an alternative.”

The alternative is SanDisk’s own Sansa e200 (there’s a memorable name), which looks like an iPod knockoff with a pseudo-scroll wheel.

The campaign is reminiscent of Apple’s ill-fated 1985 Lemmings commercial, which portrayed potential customers as lemmings walking off a cliff. The spot is judged to be Apple’s biggest advertising blunder. It’s never a good idea to insult potential customers.

Star Wars Kid Recreated with MacBook



Metafilter’s Matt Haughey recreated the Star Wars Kid video with a MacBook and software called MacSaber, which makes lightsaber sounds as the motion-sensor-equipped notebook is swung around.

The result is hilarious. Writes Matt: “I went for accuracy, combing my hair down, putting on tight khakis and a striped tight shirt, and following his first set of movements.”

Fans Start Queuing Outside Manhattan Store



Garry Allen of IFOApplestore has the first pictures of the fabulous glass entrance to Apple’s new store on Fifth Avenue. He snapped the picture after workers removed protective cladding in the wee hours of the morning.

Allen also reports that the obligatory line of visitors has already started forming. Stormy Shippy from Texas — who was first inside Apple’s London store when it opened in 2004 — arrived just after midnight on Thursday and is camping out to be the first inside when the store opens on Friday.

The store is below ground. Visitors enter the glass cube and descend via a cylindrical glass elevator that Allen describes as a “giant syringe.” There’s also one of Apple’s signature glass staircases, which curves down around the elevator.

Allen reports:

“… the cube has another interesting feature — it’s all open to the lower floor. That is, you can walk up to the outside glass of the cube, look through and see right down into the store itself. Anyone who sees the cube, notices the Apple logo, and who then comes over to the outside of the cube to investigate will see the store and activity below, and be drawn right into the door and down the stairs. It’s another innovative and guaranteed crowd attractor.”

All Apple’s Base Belong to DaViDu



CNet’s is reporting that Apple Korea’s website was defaced, but the story doesn’t contain much information, so I did some digging around myself.

It appears Apple Korea’s mail subdomain was defaced with the phrase, “All Your Base Belong To Us” by a h4x0r called DaViDu. There’s a mirror of the defacement at Zone-H.

DaViDu claims to be a member of the D.O.M Team, or Dark OwneD Mafia, whose website is predominantly in Spanish and appears to be based in San Diego, CA, according to the Whois database.

The Zone-H site lists several other website defacements by DaViDu. Most are pretty obscure sites, and there’s several Dutch ones.

Nothing significant to conclude here — just filling in some basic information no one else seems bothered to track down.

Apple’s New Ad Campaign — the Switch Disaster Redux?



If you asked Apple’s legion armchair CEOs the one number one thing they’d do if they ran the company, the top priority is always the same: develop a series of adverts that spell out the Mac’s best features compared to PCs.

Well, Apple’s real CEO has finally done just that. After a decade of wishy-washy lifestyle ads like the “Think Different” campaign, Steve Jobs is finally taking the competition head on with a new set of TV spots trumpeting the benefits of the Mac over the PC.

Apple’s new Get a Mac campaign centers around six TV spots touting the Mac’s security, stability and ease of use.

Featuring the author John Hodgman as a nerdy PC and another younger, sexier actor as the Mac, the ads make gentle fun of PCs focusing on viruses, unexpected freezes and the iLife software package.

There’s also a spot about compatibility, the Mac’s lifestyle focus and finally, one that quotes from the Wall Street Journal’s review of the iMac naming it the best desktop computer on the market.

There’s no info about who made the ads, but they look like the work of documentary maker Errol Morris, who shot Apple’s previous Switch campaign. The new ads use a similar setup — the characters address the camera head on against a white backdrop.

The Switch spots were generally judged annoying and ineffective (except for the Ellen Feiss ad), and I can’t say I like the new ads much better.

They’re somewhat insipid and maybe a little smug. I like Hodgman, but I’d prefer something more visceral, like footage of that cubicle guy going apeshit on his malfunctioning PC. I say get some real human emotion in the ads — that’d get the Mac message across.

Domino iPods Star in Tekserve’s Viral Ad



New York’s popular Mac repair shop, Tekserve, has created a video advert for its services featuring dozens of iPods falling like dominos.

The ad is bound to spread virally — after all, you’re reading about it here and I saw it on Gizmodo, which got it from The Consumerist.

The company claims more than $60,000 worth of iPods were used in the filming, which I doubt, because it looks like the same dozen iPods were shot from different angles and edited together.

The question is, where did they gat all the iPods? Perhaps they were dropped off at the shop for servicing?

Tea Making Software



As a Brit, tea is mother’s milk to me. I drink it all day, every day. No morning is so bleak as a morning without a wake-up cuppa.

So you’d think Cuppa, a mini software app for timing the perfect cup of tea, would be just my, well, cup of tea.

But I already know how to make the perfect cup of tea. I can do it in my sleep, and often do — well, half asleep.

This software is for clueless Americans, who can’t brew tea to save their lives. Americans never heat the water hot enough to properly steep the brew. (Quick tip: if you want a decent cup of tea in America, head for the nearest Chinese bakery. It’s the only place that actually boils the water).

Apple, “Gatekeeper of Global Culture”



An International Herald Tribune op-ed piece weighs in on France’s legislative attempts to protect music consumers from Apple’s iPod/iTMS tie in:

“If Apple succeeds in hooking millions of consumers to the iPod and retains them, then it can be the gatekeeper of global culture.

That’s what irks the French. Apple could take the wind out of the French sails and permit others to encode music with their digital rights management. That may become inevitable, but Apple would like to delay it.”

Mac Lust



Bumbling around the Web, I just stumbled on Smay’s blog, where he’s written a good description of his “Mac Lust.”

“I want one of the new MacBook Pros. I have a couple of computers at work; a year-old Dell here at home; a perfectly good ThinkPad. I do not need another computer. But I want one. I have never used a Mac. Don’t look forward to having to learn a new operating system or move back and forth between Mac and PC.

I want a Mac because they are cool. And all the cool kids have them. They are sexy. There is no logic or reason at work here. This is happening in the lizard part of my brain. I’ve thought about sneaking over to St. Louis to the Apple store and putting my hands on one of the new MacBooks. But that’s like saying I’ll just lie down on the bed next to the super-model, but we won’t “do anything.” If I walk in that store, I’ll walk out $2,500 poorer. So I’m holding on. Like a junkie trying to survive the shakes and chills and maybe in the morning I won’t want that fix.”

Laptop Alarm Prevents Mac Jackings



iAlertU is a super clever anti-theft software package that sounds the alarm in the event of an attempted laptop theft.

The software uses the hard drive motion sensors built into late model PowerBooks and MacBooks. The sensors park the hard drive heads in the event of a fall, but in iAlertU, they sound a screeching alarm if the laptop is picked up. Click the video to see it in action.

I love the witty use of the remote, which arms the laptop just like a car alarm. The screen even flashes like a vehicle’s marker lights.

The software is still being developed. There’s no word if suffers from an obvious fatal flaw: the mute button.