MediaFile

Ballmer skeptical of Apple share gains

Never one to let an opportunity pass to tweak a competitor, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got off a few zingers at long-time rival Apple at the software giant’s analyst meeting on Thursday.

“Share versus Apple, you know, we think we may have ticked up a little tick, but when you get right down to it, it’s a rounding error,” he said. “Apple’s share change, plus or minus from ours, they took a little share a couple quarters, we took share back a couple quarters. But Apple’s share globally cost us nothing. Now, hopefully, we will take share back from Apple, but you know, Apple still only sells about 10 million PCs, so it is a limited opportunity.”

Shipments of Apple’s Mac PCs rose 4 percent in the June quarter, while the global PC market shrank 5 percent, according to Gartner.

Ballmer also touched on the advertising war that has blossomed between Microsoft and Apple, and said the Windows ads have proven to be “quite effective”:

“Starting about two years ago, I started to get the question, what’s up with the Apple ads? It was one of the few places where I had a lot of investors pushing me to spend money as opposed to constrain the spend of money. Well, those folks ultimately won.”

Google Voice app rejected for iPhone

Apple has rejected Google’s application to place its  nifty Google Voice phone call and voice mail app on the iPhone, the latest twist in the closely-watched relationship between the Silicon Valley giants.

In a statement, Google said it submitted its App Store application six weeks ago, but that Apple failed to approve it. Apple declined to comment.

In addition, GV Mobile — a third-party Google Voice iPhone app — has been removed from the App Store, accordingto developer Sean Kovacs. He said Apple informed him that his app duplicates iPhone features.

Demand for iPhone outstrips supply

Setting aside some relatively impressive Mac sales, Apple’s iPhone was the true star of the company’s earnings drama on Tuesday–though the the device might be a little tough for some folks to to get their hands on in the near term.******Apple said it can’t meet current demand for the iPhone 3GS, which launched last month. The 3GS is available in 18 countries and is being rolled out this summer to another 80-plus countries.******Overall, the company sold 5.2 million iPhones in the June quarter, ahead of many analysts estimates. That total includes sales of the reduced-price $99 iPhone 3G.******Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said “the iPhone 3GS is constrained in virtually every country we’re shipping it in. So the demand has been very robust.”******He later added: “I don’t want to predict today when supply and demand will balance. I know that it will not balance in the short-term. And I don’t want to give a prediction because as you can guess, it’s very difficult to gauge the demand without having the supply there to find out what it is… In terms of affecting the country roll out, I believe the vast majority of the countries that we are selling the 3G in will be selling a 3GS by the end of the fiscal quarter. So it may move the date by a few weeks here or there.”******Cook also delivered some interesting factoids on iPhone adoption by large corporations. He said close to 20 percent of the Fortune 100 have bought at least 10,000 units or more.******But Cook stuck to the company line on AT&T, the exclusive iPhone carrier in the U.S. (“I think it’s an excellent relationship and we’re very happy with it”), and provided no new details on when the iPhone might launch in China.

IPhone fans turn out early

It may not have been quite the crush of last year’s iPhone release or the first launch in 2007, but the new iPhone 3GS still saw its fair share of hardy, early arrivers and Apple enthusiasts on Friday.

The lines at the Apple store in downtown San Francisco saw a mix of men and women, young and old, some first-time buyers and plenty of upgraders.

It was the third launch day for Daniel Agonafer, who has bought a total of six iPhones, distributing some of them to various relatives. An admitted iPhone addict, Agonafer was in line at least 30 minutes ahead of the store’s 7 a.m. opening. He said he waited five hours on launch day last summer to get his hands on the the 3G version. But on Friday, he was on his way, iPhone in hand, before 8 a.m.

New Apple iPhone features get under your skin

Among all the limelight-hogging features and rock-bottom prices unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers’ conference on Monday, two underscored the potential for the consumer electronics giant to sidle up and get up-close and personal with users – whether they like it or not.******For the hundreds gathered in San Francisco for the company’s annual developers’ pow-wow, Apple previewed a new iPhone feature that will allow users to remotely locate their  device if they ever get separated from it. Executives highlighted another application that, eerily, can directly monitor a person’s vital signs.******In this day and age, when millions advertise not just their location but what they had for dessert via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s unclear how consumers will respond to functions that monitor their movements or their inner workings. Favorably, judging from the applause and hooting when those features were expounded upon.******Find My iPhone allows users to remotely locate their device via the Web. Logging onto Apple’s MobileMe, users can locate their phone on a map; send a text message to the phone, asking that it be returned; or play a strdient alert or alarm. The feature is intended to aid finding a phone left unattended at a restaurant or hidden under a couch cushion, developers said.******The new software also has a feature that allows users to remotely “wipe” the device of all data if it is truly lost or stolen – but allows users to reload the wiped data via Apple’s iTunes Web site — which usually offers music, applications and even video for sale — if the phone is then found, meaning data is periodically stored via a user’s iTunes account.******Besides additional uses of the phone’s GPS capability, Apple on Monday highlighted a third party app that allows doctors to monitor patients’ vital signs remotely - accessing real-time heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and other data collected by hospital devices on their iPhones – clearly helpful for on-call doctors but also very private information.******The app would allow doctors to zoom in and out, measure different parts of the data, and scroll through historical data.******The Critical Care app from AirStrip Technologies has yet to be approved by the FDA, but the company said it was in advanced testing and expects the app will soon be available.******(By Clare Baldwin)

Apple App Store hits the big 1,000,000,000

One billion makes for a catchy and memorable milestone. The world’s population passed the 1 billion mark in 1804. McDonald’s sold its 1 billionth hamburger in 1963. The 1billionth PC shipped in 2002.

Apple’s App Store hit that mark today, in just nine months, with much fanfare.

Granted, downloading a small program to your iPhone or iPod Touch is an entirely different sort of commerce than selling a burger or a PC, but Apple’s app universe has managed to acquire a remarkable amount of cultural currency in a short amount of time.  As evidence, look at the controversy over the “Baby Shaker” app, which Apple quickly removed and apologized for on Thursday (the company’s statement said in part “this application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store”).

Apple and the netbook question

Given the phenomenal success of netbooks — small, cheap, lower-performance PCs — everybody wants to know what plans Apple, the only major PC player that doesn’t have a netbook offering, might have for the space. Netbooks are one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak PC landscape.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs openly dismissed netbooks.  And when the company was asked again asked about them on the conference call following its quarterly results Wednesday, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook sounded similarly unimpressed. Current netbooks, he said, suffer from “cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware.”

“Not something that we would put the Mac brand on, quite frankly. And so, it is not a space as it exists today, that we’re interested in. Nor do we believe that customers in the long-term would be interested in. It is a segment we would choose not to play in.”

Apple raises ruckus with baby-shaking app

It used to be that Apple could do little wrong, if the unrelenting mania among the masses for the iPod and iPhone is any indication. Now, the company may have made an unusual and embarassing mis-step in selling a 99-cent “Baby Shaker” application for the iPhone.

Designed by Sikalosoft, the program encourages users to silence an incessantly crying baby by shaking their iPhone until the infant desists, and two red crosses replace the baby’s eyes.

On Wednesday, the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, whose mission is to spread awareness of infant brain injury incurred through abuse or disease, condemned Apple for hosting the application.

Nokia retains top spot on Greenpeace list

Nokia has retained the top spot in Greenpeace’s latest ranking of 17 consumer electronics companies over their environmental practices, while Philips and Apple made strides up the list.

Philips leaped to 4th place from 11th and Apple moved up to 10th place from 14th — best among the top 5 PC makers — in Greenpeace’s latest “Guide to Greener Electronics” report. Companies are ranked based on a number of criteria related to chemicals, e-waste and energy, and Greenpeace uses the report to help pressure companies to change.

Samsung moved up to second place from fourth, while Sony Ericcson dropped a spot to third. Sony rounded out the top five.

Apple’s App Store seen growing at rapid clip

Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch is growing at a pace of 38 percent a month, with 200 new applications being added everyday, according to new data by analytics company Mobclix.

Mobclix expects the App Store to be a $1 billion marketplace over the next 2 years, and Mobclix co-founder Krishna Subramanian said that estimate is conservative.

By the group’s latest tally, there are 31,000 applications in the store — above Apple’s official count of 25,000 — with the largest category being games, more than 7,000 of them. Some more interesting stats: