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iPhone Goes Corporate, Jobs Trash-Talks Adobe, Nine Inch Nails Bucks the System

iPhone Goes Corporate, Jobs Trash-Talks Adobe, Nine Inch Nails Bucks the System

While Microsoft and Nokia got cozy, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave Adobe a kick in the pants that might be interpreted as one company telling another to get off its butt and improve its product. At a shareholder meeting, Jobs talked a little about the iPhone. Specifically, he talked about the iPhone's lack of Flash compatibility -- which he doesn't see changing anytime soon.

So the iPhone can't run Flash -- sorry, you can't use it to watch Homestar Runner cartoons. However, that's not necessarily the biggest concern in the world for people who'd love to run an iPhone on an enterprise network. Their concern is usually that the things just don't have robust enough features or security for a business environment.

Now, Apple has answered those concerns. The iPhone will support Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, which includes enterprise e-mail, contacts, calendar and remote wipe capabilities. It'll also have Cisco IPsec VPN (virtual private network) for accessing private corporate networks.

Then, of course, there's the iPhone software development kit, which will let application makers create programs to run natively on the iPhone, rather than those Web apps Apple had insisted on previously. App makers can only distribute their stuff through Apple, but they can at least charge whatever they want -- as long as Apple gets 30 percent. How you like that, record companies?

Also, in addition to buying apps through iTunes, users can download them directly to their iPhones wirelessly. It's all being made possible by the iPhone 2.0 software bundle, which will become generally availability in late June. That's a software update -- not a new iPhone. The date on a new 3G iPhone is still anybody's guess, but we're standing by our prediction of May 6, and we're sticking to it until proven right or wrong -- or until another two-bit Apple rumor suggests otherwise.


Listen to the podcast (12:10 minutes).

Trash-Talking Adobe

Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave Adobe a kick in the pants that might be interpreted as one company telling another to get off its butt and improve its product. At a shareholder meeting, Jobs talked a little about the iPhone, which boasts a Safari browser that displays the "real" Internet. Specifically, he talked about the iPhone's lack of Flash compatibility -- which he doesn't see changing anytime soon.

Basically, he said the full-blown version of Flash was too big and slow for the iPhone, that Flash Lite doesn't cut it either, and that we'll just have to wait for Adobe to get itself in gear. Adobe responded by pointing out that there are more than 450 million Flash-enabled mobile devices shipped worldwide.

So if iPhone won't support Flash, what will it support instead? Will Apple make its own multimedia technology? Or will it partner with Microsoft and promote Silverlight?

Shunning the Labels

Rock band Nine Inch Nails is following in the footsteps of Radiohead -- and that path leads directly away from the record labels. The band, which currently isn't under contract to any record company, decided to take matters into its own hands and release its current album, "Ghosts I-IV," on its own.

To further stick it to the suits, Trent Reznor and friends are giving away part I of "Ghosts" and selling the whole kaboodle as a download for just $5.

There's a tiered pricing plan in place that allows true fans to buy good old CDs, a deluxe edition and a super-duper version for US$300. That package includes signed vinyl versions of the music, and word is, it's already sold out.

Redmond's Open Embrace

Microsoft is embracing open standards in its new release of Internet Explorer, allowing developers to build plug-ins and add-ons for the world-dominating Web browser. The announcement appears to be a manifestation of the New Redmond we've been seeing lately. When words like "interoperable" and "open standards" start falling out of Steve Ballmer's mouth, the normal reaction of the open source community is -- "yeah, whatever. We'll believe it when we see it."

Well, it looks like Microsoft is actually walking the walk -- or at least taking a step. IE8 already has passed the Acid2 test, which evaluates a browser's compatibility with established Web standards. It includes integration with Microsoft Live Maps, Facebook and Me.dium, as well as with WebSlices, which are automatic feeds of content from selected sites.

Hopefully, this embrace won't be followed by the old extend and extinguish plays that have been Redmond's M.O. in the past.

Wikileaks' Vindication

Following a near-two-week shutdown, Wikileaks is up and leaking again. The whistle-blower Web site won a reprieve from U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White, who first ordered a shutdown to keep it from spreading possible trade secrets -- then changed his mind after hearing fresh arguments from the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The groups claimed the original order violated free speech rights. The clash began when a former employee of Bank Julius Baer, one of the largest Swiss banks, posted documents on Wikileaks suggesting the bank had been engaged in money laundering. Julius Baer sought relief in court, and the judge ordered the shutdown. Though Wikileaks.org was out of commission for a while, it was mirrored elsewhere online.

Google Getting Bigger

Rumor has it the European Commission is set to approve Google's takeover of DoubleClick with no strings attached. A green light from the regulators would hand Google a major victory and clear the way for the $3.1 billion deal to quickly close.

The FTC gave its blessing last year. The EC -- which has been no friend to Microsoft -- apparently was unsympathetic to its protest that the merger would limit competition.

Perhaps more surprising is the EC's apparent willingness to shrug off privacy concerns raised by consumer groups. The big question now is: Will approval of the Google-DoubleClick takeover add urgency to Microsoft's efforts to land Yahoo?

Yahoo's Proxy Dodge

In the latest episode in that saga, Yahoo changed its bylaws in order to buy time to explore alternatives before Microsoft can stage a boardroom coup. The move extends the deadline for nominations to its board of directors from March 14 to 10 days after the company announces the date for its annual shareholders meeting.

Meanwhile, Yahoo reportedly has stepped up talks with media giant Time Warner about the possibility of a Yahoo-AOL combination.

Atomic Intel

Until recently, Intel had referred to two upcoming chips on its product road map by the code names "Diamondville" and "Silverthorne." Both are intended for use in devices like ultra-small computers and smartphones.

Perhaps they had too many letters to fit on those little Intel logo stickers that go on PCs. At any rate, Intel has decided to go a little less bejeweled and a little more austere by ditching those nicknames and including them both in a new line of chips it's calling "Atom." The company also took the occasion to unveil a new Intel Centrino Atom processor for use in mobile Internet devices.

Transition Trouble

Like many print-based media companies, Ziff Davis has been working over the past several years to make the transition from paper to digital. Unlike many print-based media companies, however, Ziff-Davis, parent of PC Magazine, has been relatively successful at it. Until now.

It just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing debts well in excess of its assets. However, it has been working with its creditors on a restructuring plan, and it plans to emerge from bankruptcy this summer.

A portion of its debt will be converted into company stock if the bankruptcy court approves the plan. Ziff Davis was forced to go to court to resolve its financial dilemma. Although it managed to cut a deal with senior note holders, it was unable to come to terms with junior note holders over who would get paid, how much and when.

Surf at Work, Lose Your Job

At most places of employment, surfing the wrong sites while on the job is a great way to not have a job anymore. A new study from the ePolicy Institute and the American Management Association reveals that employees who regularly screw around with the Internet on company time, surfing and e-mailing for their own personal reasons, run a significant risk of getting canned.

Over 58 percent of the companies surveyed by the study say they've fired workers for too much misuse. If you think you've mastered the art of quickly minimizing your browser whenever the boss comes around, be warned. About two-thirds of employers said they monitor workers' Web traffic. Remember, though, that it's all a matter of context.

Spending a few minutes on a site with a URL like TechNewsWorld or LinuxInsider probably makes your boss think you're pretty brainy. A six-hour Scrabulous marathon on Facebook -- well, that's probably best done at home.

Feels Like Real

What does that image on your screen feel like? A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are working on giving you the answer. They've come up with a device -- something like a joystick or a mouse -- that uses haptic technology to give you the sensation of touching a corresponding image.

Haptic technology has actually been around for a while -- it gives you the feeling of pushing a real button on some touchscreen mobile phones -- but it's usually mechanically driven. What sets the Carnegie-Mellon unit apart is that it uses magnetic levitation -- yeah, the same technology that drives bullet trains in Japan. The maglev unit is said to feel more realistic.

Aside from the obvious appeal to the online pornography industry, the technology also has potential applications in medical training, such as teaching aspiring dentists the difference between teeth and gums in preparation for performing surgery.

Also in this episode: E*Trade names new CEO; Nokia announces Silverlight support; Google gives voice mail to the homeless; Yahoo introduces OnePlace Web aggregation service.


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