MacCentral Week in Review: While I was away

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Ah, vacation. My wife and I headed out with thoughts of a cabin in the trees, rushing water, books, walks, and a decided lack of technology. Except, of course, for a laptop, an iPod and a digital camera.

First thing, we had to turn on the water to the cabin. In the dark. With directions that were just a bit kittywampus. So the first rushing water we heard was not a babbling brook, but a gusher entering the basement. Well, we’re clever and fixed the problem right quick.

Then we headed upstairs and there’s a year-old New Yorker magazine on the table inside the door. Just the thing, says I—some light, urbane writing as I unwind from the four-hour drive. And smack-dab on the back cover was an ad for the introduction of the iTunes Music Store; you remember, the one with the guitar.

Eek, too modern.

So I dropped the magazine and headed to the house’s “entertainment center.” Which featured a non-cableized TV—which meant no reception in the woods—and an honest-to-God eight-track player. With no tapes.

Eek, too old.

All of a sudden, those Apple-branded products we brought along began to look like a Godsend. Snap, click-click, pop, and we had running music.

Ah, just right.

The rest of our vacation passed uneventfully, just the way we planned it.

Now I’m back, just in time to discover that Mr. Jobs and company are determined to digitize and market every bit (pun intended) of music ever recorded. And are willing to pay the costs for the transfers. Since the music industry doesn’t seem to be moving to the forefront of the digitizing rush, this should leave Apple in a very enviable position.

Apple has also struck a deal with a Chinese PC maker to bundle iTunes for Windows on its computers. While Apple won’t reach all 1.3 billion of that country’s citizens on this first go-round, subsequently selling iPods to even one percent of that market would likely outstrip U.S. sales through the rest of this decade. And if it really caught on...well, even if China’s middle class only runs to about 100 million people, if Apple could penetrate the market as it has here, it would be rich beyond the dreams of Midas.

The minds behind Apple’s new re-organization recognize that enormous potential, even if they won’t really talk about it. And just because the new division is named after the iPod, there’s no reason on earth that it can’t grow into the consumer appliances division, or whatever Mr. Jobs chooses to call it. Which you can bet will have a more elegant ring to it.

I’m deeply impressed. Apple doesn’t want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, but the company does want it to have access to the best music service available. And the best computers. But its best chance to win that latter war is first to win the battle for the best music playing device.

Apple News

Apple creates new iPod and Macintosh divisions

Apple on Wednesday reported it has reorganized its corporate structure into new iPod and Macintosh divisions. The iPod division will be led by Jon Rubinstein, Senior Vice President Hardware Engineering, while Apple’s Macintosh efforts will be led by Executive Vice President Worldwide Sales and Operations Tim Cook. Tim Bucher, who heads Mac system development, will head up the Mac’s hardware engineering.

Apple to slow down Mac OS X development pace a little

Chinese PC maker Founder to install iTunes on all PCs

GarageBand 1.1 released

Safari advisory upgraded to ‘Extremely Critical’; Apple responds

.Mac adds new features, users get new free software

Apple hopes to ‘stimulate thought’ with award program

Visit MacCentral’s Apple Hardware and Apple Software forums.

Hardware News

Faster upgradeable graphics coming to notebooks

Nvidia this week announced it has widespread support from major manufacturers of notebooks for its proposed Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) graphics standard for add-on modules that will use Intel’s new PCI Express bus to enable faster, upgradeable graphics for portable computers. The company said notebooks based on the new bus technology should start appearing this fall.

Hitachi plans increase in iPod mini Microdrive production

Sony intros new 5MP Cyber-shot digital camera

WiebeTech offers DuoGB800 dual-drive enclosure

VGAtor lets 12-inch PowerBooks use ADC displays

Sony ProDATA drives pack 23GB onto optical disc

Visit MacCentral’s Hardware forum.

Software News

Microsoft Office 2004 released; Test Drive available

Microsoft on Wednesday officially released Office 2004 in two configurations, and will offer a high-end configuration later this year when Virtual PC 7 is ready. The Microsoft Office Standard Edition will cost US$399, $239 for the upgrade; the Office Student and Teacher Edition will cost $149 for the full version. The company is offering an Office Test Drive on its MacTopia Web site.

Audio Hijack Pro to include AAC, Apple Lossless encoding

REALbasic update improves database support, more

Napster goes live in UK, iTunes still pending

Aspyr bundles two Harry Potter games

Phishing scam reports skyrocket in April

Visit MacCentral’s Software forum.

Around the Web

Pogue: Mac Office - Windows all over

Microsoft’s Macintosh software division has unveiled Office 2004 for Macintosh, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage, an email and calendar program. Once again, Microsoft added few big-ticket features, preferring to focus on a motley collection of nips and tucks.

Apple wants all the music

Apple’s transparent strategy

Macworld’s Annual Reviews Roundup

Using FireWire drives: The golden rules

A pear of projects plan to offer Mac OS on PCs

P-P-P-Powerbook: Scamming the scammer

E3 wrapup: Risk aversion and neat hardware

Adding SoundFont instruments to GarageBand 1.1

Mail’s junk mail filter: How it works

Applying “Digital Hub” concepts to Enterprise software design

In-Flight Wi-Fi to make its debut

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