Is Apple preparing a counter-attack to Google’s TV move?

Apple is keen on describing its Apple TV business as a “hobby.”

But one week after Google barged into the living room with its high-profile Google TV announcement, Apple suddenly looks like it’s taking its hobby a lot more seriously.

According to technology blog engadget, which cites an anonymous source “very close to Apple,” the Cupertino, California company has a new version of its Apple TV in the works that completely overhauls the original product.

The price of the Apple TV will drop from $229 to $99 (read: priced to move), and the device will be based on the iPhone operating system and pack Apple’s home-grown A4 processor under the hood.

AAPLTVAlso of note, the new Apple TV will offer a modest 16GB of on-board flash memory for storage (the current model offers a hard drive with ten times the capacity) – that suggests that Apple is recasting the product as a cloud-based service, in which entertainment and content comes primarily from the Internet.

That would be more along the lines of Google TV, which is based on Google’s Android software and allows TV viewers to quickly pull up videos, photos, music and other content from the Web through an on-screen searchbox. Google also hopes to get software developers to create brand new applications specially designed for the new generation of Internet-connected TVs.

Dear Gizmodo, we want our secret iPhone back

Tech blog site Gizmodo set the Internet on fire on Monday when it released photos and spec details of what they said was Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Speculation ran rampant over how this whole scoop came about, including questions over whether the site paid money for the device. Gizmodo’s Nick Denton confirmed that they paid $5,000 for access to the phone. Other questions being bandied about: Was the whole thing an Apple plant so the company could gauge user reactions to the redesign? Will Apple or analysts mention the leak during their earnings conference call today?

The site has shared their version of how Apple lost the next iPhone, including tidbits on the poor Apple employee unwittingly involved:

Apple’s Jobs: “Butterflies” and more jabs at Google

jobs1The media and industry analysts gathered at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, on Thursday got a heavy dose of commentary from CEO Steve Jobs on a range of subjects, representing probably his biggest mouthful in a single setting since returning from medical leave last summer.

In a session that lasted more than 90-minutes, including Q&A with reporters, a clearly energized Jobs expounded on the iPhone’s new system software, his nerves ahead of the iPad launch, Apple’s new role as a peddler of mobile advertising, and of course Google, the company’s nemesis du jour.

Jobs announced Apple new iAd platform, which thrusts the company into a small but fast-growing market where Google also has designs.  But Jobs made clear that his company had no plans to become a “worldwide ad agency,” and he acknowledged that Apple was indeed pursuing AdMob when Google swooped in to buy the mobile ad firm:

Apple’s Jobs and Google’s Schmidt: Let’s do coffee

An unusual — and unverified – photograph posted on the Internet by Gizmodo is triggering a minor sensation in tech circles.  Google and Apple may be at war, but — if this snapshot of CEOs Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt casually chatting over a coffee is to be believed — the generals of the two tech superpowers may have discussed matters of state via an intimate, streetside tete-a-tete on Friday.

According to Gizmodo, a perspicacious passer-by spotted Jobs and Schmidt at a restaurant in Palo Alto, California on Friday and duly relayed the resulting photos to the tech blog. Courtesy: Gizmodo

Courtesy: Gizmodo

For those who haven’t been following Silicon’s Valley favorite new drama: Jobs and Schmidt once sat on Apple’s board together and were allied in the battle against software giant Microsoft. But in recent years, the two chieftains have positioned their companies against each other, in markets like smartphones, mobile advertising and PC operating systems. And, according to some accounts, the relationship between the two has taken a turn for the worse.

Google “advocate” goes on anti-Apple warpath

Apple and Google have been duking it out in the smartphone market, on the acquisition front and in proxy legal battles. Now, Google has escalated its information warfare efforts by unleashing a cowboy-hat wearing software developer and tech blogger.

Tim Bray, who recently left his gig at Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), announced his new role as a developer advocate at Google with a fiery blog post assailing Apple for its restrictive iPhone policies:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

IPad pre-orders begin, and so does the speculation

ipadApple began accepting pre-orders for the iPad tablet this morning, around three weeks ahead of the April 3 launch date in the U.S.  Only the WiFi version of the tablet will be available on that date, with the 3G version shipping later in April.

Apple is limiting pre-orders to two devices per customer, which one prominent Apple blog said suggested the company is stretched thin on supply. Analysts over the past two weeks have noted some hiccups in iPad production.

Here’s Oppenheimer & Co analyst Yair Reiner in a research note earlier this week:

IPad makes prime-time TV debut

America got its first prime-time peek at Apple’s latest gadget on Sunday night, as the company rolled out its first TV commercial for the iPad during the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony.

No surprise, it was a visually slick, 30-second montage of everything the iPad can do, with a finger-snapping soundtrack provided by Danish group The Blue Van. YouTube Preview Image

But Steve Jobs wasn’t on his couch back in Silicon Valley watching it; he evidently journeyed down to Southern California to catch the Oscars in person, and was not too shy to pose for a pic with a fan.

Inside Apple’s shareholders meeting … well, almost

Apple shareholders and reporters convened at One Infinite Loop on Thursday, when the famously secretive company briefly opened its doors for its annual meeting. But any notion of visiting Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, the magical place where iPhones and iPads are dreamed up, was dashed at the metal detector that greeted guests at the front door.

Apple’s retail stores may be stocked with tech goodies and wonders, but visiting hours at the Cupertino, CA campus are clearly not meant to be fun.  The building where the event was held was Spartan, save for a table with coffee and a few iPod advertisements on canvases hanging on the walls.

To ensure that CEO Steve Jobs and his lieutenants weren’t molested by pesky journalists, the press was sequestered in a special “overflow” room to watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit TV, with a fistful of Apple staff strategically positioned throughout the chamber to keep an eye on things.

LIVE BLOG: Apple shareholder meeting

Live coverage of the 2010 Apple Inc. annual meeting.

Timeline: iPad joins list of Apple product milestones

apple two steves aThe iPad is just the latest in decades of big milestones and product introductions for Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs.

Here’s a quick list:

Apple LisaHigh school buddies, and dropouts, Steven Wozniak and Steven Jobs found Apple Computer. Their first product, Apple I, built in circuit board form, debuts at “the Homebrew Computer Club” in Palo Alto, California, to little fanfare.

The company unveils the Apple II, perhaps the first personal computer in a plastic case with color graphics. It is a big hit.