Despite Growth, Apple Slips a Spot in U.S. Computer Sales Rankings

Two separate studies have been released ranking sales of computers in the U.S., and both agree that Apple (s aapl) has fallen one place compared to results from the same quarter last year. In both studies, one of which comes from research firm IDC and one of which comes from Gartner, Apple placed fourth in Q4 2008 results, and had dropped to fifth during the Q4 2009 period.

IDC found that Mac sales in the U.S. had climbed by 31 percent compared to last year, but that despite that strong growth, sales hadn’t kept up with increases in the industry at large. Cheap Windows machines helped create a banner year for the PC side of things. Gartner came up with slightly less impressive numbers for Apple during the quarter, with a growth rate of 23 percent. Read More about Despite Growth, Apple Slips a Spot in U.S. Computer Sales Rankings

Apple iPhone Tops Mobile Phone Industry in the U.S.

If you live in the U.S. and own a mobile phone, it’s most likely an iPhone, according to a new study conducted by Nielsen. From January through October of this year, Apple’s little wonder device was the most popular phone in the country.

Apple Closing in on RIM in U.S. Market Share

changewave_chartA new survey by research firm ChangeWave has Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone on course to eventually best BlackBerry as the U.S. device of choice when it comes to smartphone options. It also reflects good news for the smartphone industry in general, since overall ownership of the data-hungry cellular devices is up to 39 percent of respondents, which represents a jump of more than 200 percent from the same time two years ago.

ChangeWave’s last survey took place in June of this year, and since then, Apple’s stock has jumped 5 percent. The last time there was a big jump in Apple sales, the iPhone 3G was introduced, and it lasted six months before the rise started to plateau, though it always showed positive growth. If that trend is any indication, the iPhone 3GS should continue to inflate sales until the new year at least, which could put Apple in a position to overtake RIM (s rimm). Read More about Apple Closing in on RIM in U.S. Market Share

Apple Leaves U.S. Chamber of Commerce Due to Climate Stance

us_chamber_of_commerceThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce is alienating its member companies with a hard-line stance it’s taken against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and climate change legislation currently making the rounds in the Senate. The latest casualty in the conflict generated by the Chamber’s controversial position is Apple (s aapl), which yesterday gave up its membership with the organization.

The specific stance Apple took issue with is the Chamber’s position against the idea that the EPA should regulate greenhouse gas emissions, using the authority it already has to do so under the Clean Air Act. Most agree that the EPA doesn’t actually want to do this, but that it’s a last resort measure in case the Democratic climate change bill that passed the house in June and now faces the Senate ultimately fails. Read More about Apple Leaves U.S. Chamber of Commerce Due to Climate Stance

Apple Claims Jailbreaking Could Disable Transmission Towers


Apple (s aapl) is constantly fighting a losing battle with jailbreakers on the hardware and software front, issuing updates that are quickly analyzed and broken by the Dev Team and other highly motivated individuals.

Recently, they’ve been trying to cut off the jailbreak community from another angle: by making it illegal to unofficially alter their handsets. In order to get the U.S. Copyright Office to see things their way, they told them recently (PDF) that the act of jailbreaking could actually cause transmission towers to fail.
I’m pretty confident that this is little more than a sensationalist scare tactic on Apple’s part, but the accusations make for pretty heavy reading. Not only could they take out transmission towers, but they also might be able to get around paying for calls (gasp!) and conduct denial-of-service attacks to purposefully crash the tower. As far as I know, none of these things have ever actually happened, but kudos to Apple for giving people ideas. Read More about Apple Claims Jailbreaking Could Disable Transmission Towers

Reporting for Duty: Apple’s iPod Touch


The iPhone (s aapl) may be taking steps toward breaking into big business, but its little brother is already well on its way to becoming a career soldier. Apparently the iPod touch is becoming quite the staple for U.S. soldiers working in Iraq, partly because it’s such a versatile device capable of replacing and/or augmenting many items in a soldier’s standard kit. The touch is also a relatively cheap piece of hardware considering its usefulness, at least when considered in the context of military hardware.
Cost is not the only advantage the iPod touch has on the battlefield. It’s lightweight, durable (though for military deployment, they usually get some kind of special sheath to add to their in-built resilience), familiar to soldiers, and customizable. According to one Army official in Baghdad (via Newsweek), they also apparently have yet to be hacked by opposing forces. I can picture the new “Get a Mac” ad now, with John Hodgman getting hacked by an insurgent.
The main reason the iPod touch is so handy is its versatility as a development platform. As the App Store ads claim, “There’s an app for that,” and that includes things like translation, tactical mapping, networking/communication, surveillance, image recognition and ballistics calculation. Gun mounts and touch control mean that soldiers can do all of these things while keeping a hand or hands free for other activities and devices, some of which might save their life.
With military action becoming more and more a technological affair, expect to see the combat role of the iPod touch grow even more. Future iterations could prove even more useful, and ordinary consumers might benefit, too. If Apple adds hardware features to make the device more appealing for military use, the rest of us could reap the rewards. I’m thinking a camera and additional types of wireless antennas would be top priority from a military standpoint, and I’m sure consumers wouldn’t complain either.

UK Conservatives Call for Smart Grid

The Conservative Party in the UK may be trying to one-up Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the rival Labor Party with its latest cleantech proposal, which calls for the creation of a smart grid that would cover electricity, gas and water customers, potentially cutting energy use and reducing emissions. The proposal comes a day after the Department for Transport approved a third runway for Heathrow Airport — a plan that will put a cramp in carbon reduction plans in the country.

While the plan from the Conservatives is part political party maneuvering — who can be “greener” — it would likely be implemented a lot faster than similar proposals in the U.S., where a national smart grid will likely get bogged down in state and local regulatory hurdles.

A single company in the UK, the National Grid (s NGG), controls most of the electric and gas distribution in the region. Whereas in the U.S., getting approvals from all the various public utility commissions could result in a patchwork approach.
Read More about UK Conservatives Call for Smart Grid