Apple’s Higher Demand for New MacBook Parts Causing Supply Chain Labor Shortage

Submitted by lalit on May 28, 2012 - 7:31am.

Apple hopes to see a big jump in MacBook demand with launch of new models in June. The company is planning to see about 50% jump this year and plans to ship 16.24-19.2 million units compared to 12.79 million units in 2011, because of the new thinner and lighter MacBook models. According to DigiTimes, this increase in demand is causing labor shortage in upstream supply chain players. Aaron Lee wrote on DigiTimes:

As Apple's new MacBooks are expected to launch in the near future, related upstream supply chain players are reportedly facing labor shortages because of strong orders from Apple, while some supply chain makers are even outsourcing their orders to meet shipment schedules, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry's traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple's new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand. The MacBook supply chain started delivering products in April with shipments for chassis seeing obvious growth in May.

It is rumored that Apple will announce the new MacBook Pro lineup at WWDC 2012 on June 11, along with next generation OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6. June is going to be a big month for Apple with WWDC and new hardware launches.

 

Intel Developing True Companion Computers That “Learn” About Their User

Submitted by lalit on May 24, 2012 - 9:11pm.

Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Computational Intelligence is working with Technion in Haifa and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on small, wearable computers that can offer new applications to enhance daily life. The system can continuously monitor human functions from the brain, heart, blood, eyes and more, and send this data to a remote server that will combine them with other data such as environmental weather conditions, along with historical data, and could proactively warn people about a potential headache or dizziness during driving.

The system won’t be just for monitoring our health, it will act as a companion that will remember our habits and help in day-to-day tasks. For example, if you have a habit of forgetting your keys in the house the system will in first week remember where you left the keys, and by second week it will start reminding you to take your keys while leaving the house.

“Despite their name, smartphones are rather dumb devices. My smartphone doesn't know anything more about me than when I got it,” Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer, told reporters in Tel Aviv. “All of these devices will come to know us as individuals, will very much tailor themselves to us.”

Intel says such devices/systems will come to the market by 2014 or 2015. [Via Reuters]

 

LG Reveals Final Design and Price Tag for Upcoming 55-inch OLED TV

Submitted by lalit on May 24, 2012 - 9:51am.

LG today revealed the final design of 55-inch OLED TV, which they claim is the world’s largest and slimmest OLED TV. LG also officials vowed to develop the most advanced commercial OLED TV in the market and to be the first company to bring these TVs to European consumers in the second half of the year.

"In the history of television, there have been very few innovations as impactful as the coming of OLED TV," said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG's Home Entertainment Company. "We say THE ULTIMATE DISPLAY because LG OLED TV is truly above all expectations and beyond everyone's imagination with uncompromising picture quality and beautiful design. This year, we plan to make OLED synonymous with LG."

In the new OLED TV, LG used WRGB technology - a 4 Color Pixel technology that relies on a white sub-pixel to perfect the color output. LG says that they used carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for the exterior, which helped them to create a final product with a thickness of only 4mm (0.15-inch) and weighed only 10kg (22 pounds).

LG will ship the 55-inch OLED TV in second half of 2012 in Europe. LG aims to price the TV around Euro 8,000 ($10,000).

 

Android and iOS Capture 82% of Global Smartphone Market

Submitted by lalit on May 24, 2012 - 8:14am.

International Data Corporation (IDC) has published their quarterly worldwide smartphone market share report and it’s bad news for everyone except Android and iOS. Android and iOS were the only two smartphone platforms that saw a rise in market share. Android market share jumped from 36.1% in Q1 2011 to 59% in Q1 2012 and iOS market share jumped form 18.3% in Q1 2011 to 23% on Q1 2012. Every other smartphone platform including Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 saw a drop in market share.

According to IDC, Android finished the quarter as the overall leader among the mobile operating systems, accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. In addition, Android boasted the longest list of smartphone vendor partners. Samsung was the largest contributor to Android's success, accounting for 45.4% of all Android-based smartphone shipments. But beyond Samsung was a mix of companies retrenching themselves or slowly growing their volumes.

On the other hand, iOS recorded strong year-over-year growth with sustained demand for the iPhone 4S following the holiday quarter and the addition of numerous mobile operators offering the iPhone for the first time. Although end-user demand remains high, the iPhone's popularity brings additional operational pressures for mobile operators through subsidy and data revenue sharing policies.

You can read the complete report on IDC’s website.

 

iPhone Charger Teardown Shows Apple’s Attention to The Details

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 11:42pm.

We all know the amount of emphasis Apple gives to design and quality while making devices like iPhones, iPads and Macs. However, Apple’s attention to the details doesn’t just end there, they focus on making everything related to the product perfect. And this is clearly shown in the design of iPhone charger, as revealed by a teardown done by Ken Shirriff’s blog. Ken concluded his iPhone charger teardown report by saying:

Apple's power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power. Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen. When I opened the charger up, I expected to find a standard design, but I've compared the charger to the Samsung charger and several other high-quality industry designs, and Apple goes beyond these designs in several ways.

The input AC is filtered through a tiny ferrite ring on the plastic case (see photo below). The diode bridge output is filtered by two large capacitors and an inductor. Two other R-C snubbers filter the diode bridge, which I've only seen elsewhere in audio power supplies to prevent 60Hz hum; perhaps this enhances the iTunes listening experience. Other chargers I disassembled don't use a ferrite ring and usually only a single filter capacitor. The primary circuit board has a grounded metal shield over the high-frequency components (see photo), which I haven't seen elsewhere. The transformer includes a shield winding to absorb EMI. The output circuit uses three capacitors including two relatively expensive tantalum ones and an inductor for filtering, when many supplies just use one capacitor. The Y capacitor is usually omitted from other designs. The resonant clamp circuit is highly innovative.

Apple's design provides extra safety in a few ways that were discussed earlier: the super-strong AC prongs, and the complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit. Apple's isolation distance between primary and secondary appears to go beyond the regulations.

Apple's iPhone charger crams a lot of technology into a small space. Apple went to extra effort to provide higher quality and safety than other name-brand chargers, but this quality comes at a high cost.

Apple could have easily bought and shipped a third party charger with Apple’s logo on it for the iPhone, but they went one step further and designed the best USB charger available on the market for the iPhone. You can read the complete explanation about how the iPhone charger works and how Apple designed it on Ken Shirriff’s Blog.

 

McAfee: Mobile Malware Grows Four Times, 80% on Android Platform

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 9:58am.

McAfee today released their “McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012” and in first quarter alone mobile malware has grown four times when compared to 2011. The news is worst for Android as over 80% of that malware growth was on Google’s mobile platform. McAfee reported the following:

This quarter we report a large increase in mobile malware. The jump was targeted almost solely at the Android platform. Hundreds of Android threats in the middle of 2011 have moved into the thousands this year. Due to significant improvements in our ability to collect, process, and detect mobile malware, the count further accelerated this quarter: Android threats now reach almost 7,000, with more than 8,000 total mobile malware in our database.

The great majority of mobile attacks, and their malware, stem from and attack third-party markets, particularly in China and Russia. In most cases, we do not find this malware in the official Android market. Google’s app store has suffered from some incidents, but so far those counts are moderate. McAfee Labs advises customers to use install software only from the official market. That step should greatly reduce the risk of compromising your Android device.

This is bad news for Android users and if you are an Android user, you should download applications from reliable sources only. You can read the complete McAfee report here.

 

Jonathan Ive says Current Projects at Apple are his ‘Most Important’ Work

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 5:30am.

Apple’s design chief Jonathan Ive, told in an interview with The Telegraph after he received a knighthood in UK that he believes his current projects at Apple are his ‘most important’ design work ever. Shane Richmond wrote on The Telegraph:

Ive has achieved an awful lot and still has a long career ahead of him. Even so, a knighthood is a good time to take stock. If he was to be remembered for just one of his Apple designs, I ask, which one would he pick?

There is the long pause. “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”

Apple is famous for its secrecy about future products. I ask what will happen if the Queen asks about the new iPhone today. Will he have to say, “I’m sorry Your Majesty, we don’t comment on forthcoming products”?

“That would be funny,” he laughs.

In the two part interview on The Telegraph, Jonathan Ive talks about how he got into design at very early age and his focus on simplicity. You can read the part one and part two of the interview here.

 

OmniVision Launches 16-Megapixel Camera Image Sensors with 4K2K Video Support

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 4:49am.

OmniVision today announced the OV16820 and OV16825, two 16-megapixel CameraChip sensors that support 16-megapixel burst photography and can capture 4K2K video, or Quad Full High Definition (QFHD), at 60 frames per second (FPS). Built on the high-performance 1.34-micron OmniBSI-2 pixel architecture, the OV16820 and OV16825 were developed by OmniVision to support emerging standards in high-resolution video recording for the digital still and video camera (DSC/DVC) markets and the high-end smartphone market, respectively.

“It was an industry-wide assumption that smartphones would cut into DSC/DVC sales; but at higher resolutions, we’re seeing a very distinct divide between the two markets and both remain strong,” said Devang Patel, senior product marketing manager at OmniVision. “Industry experts have observed that mainstream DSC products are shifting to 16-megapixel resolutions and are offering improved image quality and optics. The OV16820 supports such offerings, allowing DSC/DVC manufacturers to provide consumers a high-resolution, feature-rich point and shoot photography experience, while the OV16825 provides top-tier imaging and video recording capabilities for flagship smartphones.”

The 1/2.3-inch OV16820 and OV16825 image sensors are capable of operating in full resolution (4608 x 3456) video at 30 FPS, 4K2K (3840 x 2160) video at 60 FPS, and 1080p HD video at 60 FPS with extra pixels for electronic image stabilization (EIS).

Both the OV16820 and OV16825 sensors are available for sampling and are expected to enter volume production by the fourth quarter of 2012.

 

9to5mac: Apple Testing Next Generation iPhone Featuring 3.9-inch Screen with 1136 x 640 Resolution

Submitted by lalit on May 22, 2012 - 5:55am.

9to5mac is reporting that Apple is testing multiple next generation iPhone prototypes and at least one of those prototypes feature a bigger 3.95-inch screen. Chuck Remington wrote on 9to5mac:

Right now we know of a few next-generation iPhone candidates in testing. These prototype phones are floating around Apple HQ in thick, locked shells in order to disguise the exterior design to “undisclosed” employees. We know of two next-generation iPhones in testing with a larger display: the iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2. These phones are in the PreEVT stage of development and are codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2). Because Apple reserves certain models for internal-only usage (such as the N96 phone we previously reported on), we’re not sure which of the two devices will make its way into the world later this year.

Both of these phones sport a new, larger display that is 3.95 inches diagonally. Apple will not just increase the size of the display and leave the current resolution, but will actually be adding pixels to the display. The new iPhone display resolution will be 640 x 1136. That’s an extra 176 pixels longer of a display. The screen will be the same 1.94 inches wide, but will grow to 3.45 inches tall. This new resolution is very close to a 16:9 screen ratio, so this means that 16:9 videos can play full screen at their native aspect ratio.

Even though 9to5mac has been right about Apple rumors sometimes, we have our doubts about this 1136 x 640 resolution. If Apple is changing the resolution why not just go with 1280 x 720 on a 4-inch screen, rather than go with some odd resolution that's between 16:10 and 16:9.

 

TiVo Announces IP Set-Top Box and TiVo Stream

Submitted by lalit on May 22, 2012 - 12:34am.

TiVo today announced two new products to enhance its whole home viewing solution – the IP set-top box, delivers the TiVo experience on secondary televisions throughout the home and TiVo Stream, provides transcoding to enable content viewing on mobile devices.

According to TiVo, with these new products, operators working with TiVo can give their subscribers the content they want on any screen within the home, including secondary televisions, tablets and smart phones and all through the same easy-to-use TiVo interface.

The IP set-top box works with the TiVo Premiere Q, a home's primary gateway device, to give consumers access to live and recorded TV, operator VOD, plus broadband-delivered content on every TV in the house. It includes integrated MoCA to simplify home networking and multi-room applications.

TiVo Stream seamlessly delivers the content available on a consumer's TiVo Premiere or Premiere Q DVR to alternative screens such as iPads and iPhones. Unlike similar offerings in the market, this is the first product to enable streaming or download of shows simultaneously to multiple portable devices without interrupting what's playing on the television. The TiVo Stream enables users to quickly transfer shows to their mobile device for viewing outside the home.

Availability for both the IP set-top box and TiVo Stream will be announced in the coming months. No word on price yet.