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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is Apple Frances Scapegoat?

Is France trying new laws and using Apple to test the waters?

It sure seem like they are to me.
Scapegoat-The word also refers, in modern parlance, to one who is blamed for misfortunes, often as a way of distracting attention from the real causes.

This French bill, which would be the implementation of a European Union directive, calls for digital songs to be playable on all devices. As part of the law proposal, companies that use copyright protection measures (like Apple’s DRM) would have to supply the information essential to interoperability to those interested at no other charge than the cost of delivering the data.

But why? Like I said before, Is France not wanting iTunes in France? or is there a different agenda we don't know about?? Because forcing this opens up a lot things to consider. Does Microsoft and Sony fall under this law also? Will Halo be forced to come to the Playstation and vise versa with Playstation and NES games? Why go after just music? Why not also software just written for just windows? In each format there is a form of protection management being done. If this goes through what’s next?

Apple does have the most to lose because of its large portion of the digital music market. France lawmakers has a lot to gain if this law passes with it attacking the big boys of digital music market. But what about French consumers? What will they gain? They have more to lose.

For days Apple said nothing, But, late Tuesday Apple said such a law would "result in state-sponsored piracy."
"If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers," Apple said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with 'interoperable' music which cannot be adequately protected. Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy."

But is piracy the only part of this equation? Who else may gain from this?
Well the new interoperability rules were welcomed “in principle” by recording companies.
John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of the International Federation of the Recording Industry has said:
"It is important to consumers to have the ability to move songs between their various listening devices."

Is he not part of the same group of people who want various prices for different albums or songs? Of coarse the interoperability rules are welcomed in principle by them, These guys have often complained that the iTMS has deprived them of any control over music pricing. Oh how they forget how much Apple and the iTMS has helped the music industry, and how little Apple makes from selling the music. In the long run they don’t see the large loss as well.

Jim Prendergast, of the public policy group American For Technology Leadership, derided the French decision, calling it a

"direct attack" on Apple's intellectual property, and saying that one of the ramifications could be Apple pulling its iTunes store out of the French market.
"Once governments force companies to give away their innovations, their intellectual property rights there will no longer be an incentive to create new products that will benefit consumers," Prendergast said.

Analysts have said that Apple would have to choose between sharing their secrets of the exclusive online music technology or stop selling music downloads in France. According ARS Technica
Analysts estimate that France is responsible for around 5 percent of Apple's global music sales, so the financial blow from exiting the country would not be severe. However, if the French legislation is adopted across all of the European Union—which is the stated goal of France's Cultural Minister—the company would find itself in a much tougher situation.

But what I want to know is with this new legislation how will they find the hackers and pirates across all of the Europe? O.K., so those caught pirating music or movies or who disable copy protection systems are going to be fined to a sum over $350,000. So what? How well has that worked in the US so far?

There are far too many questions not answered, and much loss to the French consumer.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The new Macmini

O.K., Steve came on stage today talked about some iPod leather cases for $99...

Then he finally shows something cool, the new iPod Hi-Fi

Which according to Apple:

*Compatible with all iPod models with a dock connector through the integrated Universal Dock (dock adapters included)
*Compatible with iPod shuffle and iPod models without a dock connector through the audio input port (audio cable sold separately)
*Charges iPod via dock connector
*Tone Control in speakers menu provides additional EQ settings specifically for iPod Hi-Fi
*Input port accepts analog 3.5 mm stereo minijack or S/PDIF optical digital miniplug
and can also run on six D-cell batteries.
All for just $349 and is availible today.

Now we get to my headline.... the Mac Mini. Now I don't have my hands on one, but reading the spec's I was smiling for a while:

*1.5GHz Intel Core Solo($599) or 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor ($799)
*60GB hard drive(1.5GHz)--80GB hard drive(1.66GHz)
*Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) drive(1.5GHz)--8x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)(1.66GHz)
*2MB on-chip L2 cache
*667MHz frontside bus
*512MB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300) on two DIMMs; supports up to 2GB
*A new infrared port designed to work with the Apple Remote and support for a enhanced version of Front Row. The new version of Front Row (Front row with Bonjour) allows customers to access shared iTunes and iPhoto libraries and video throughout their home via Bonjour.

Then I got to the specs on the graphics card. Hold on, there is none, well not one you want anyway. It has a Intel integrated graphics processor. A GMA950 graphics processor to be exact, with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory. Ya shared. According to Apple's website, Memory available to Mac OS X may vary depending on graphics needs. Minimum graphics memory usage is 80MB, resulting in 432MB of system memory available.

Meaning when you buy this Mac, you better max it out with memory (not from Apple unless you want to pay $300) because working with iMove or iDVD will bring up that beach ball we all hate if you don't.

But, lets look deeper into the GMA950 chip.

I thought about this computer possible for my kid till I read Extreme Tech's review of this chip. They did a test on a PC, but you get the point. This chip could only run Doom 3 at 16.20FPS in (640X480) and got worse at 1024X768 when it dropped to 10.4 FPS. Unreal Tournament 2004 was not much better barely making 30FPS at 640X480 and only 18.2FPS at 1024X768. Toms Hardware has Mark Rein, vice president for Epic Games, the developer of the Unreal graphics engine and game series is qouted as saying "What is the point of shipping multi-core CPUs, if they are only going to have integrated graphics?" I guess that line itself makes my point.

Bottom Line

If all your gonna do is surf the web or watch and share pictures, movies and music, this mini's for you. If you want a intel based Mac that can play games also, get a iMac.