The Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
11 April, 2014
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Good morning rumour meisters. It’s Friday, so it’s time for the weekly round-up of hearsay and tittle-tattle from the Apple-verse.

And this week the rumours are being brought to you by Ms Doris Day, 90 years young last week.

And for any rumour lovers out there just too young or sadly deprived to know of Ms Day’s charms, we’ve added a few links so you can witness the great star in action…

Or you could just ask your grandparents. And while you’re at it, ask them about 78s too…

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Move Over Darling

There are two areas of Apple news that always lead to some furious rumour mongering – patents and hirings. We’ve had a few patent-derived rumours of late, so we thought we were overdue a juicy hiring one. This comes from AppleInsider, which has been keeping its ear to the ground and eyes peeled (surely a most vulnerable position to be in?). It reports that Apple has recently employed two high level baseband hardware engineers from Broadcom.

Both AppleInsider and then MacRumors are keen to suggest that these hirings could suggest Apple is putting together a team to develop it own baseband chips for future iPhone models. What was that? You’re not 100 percent sure what a baseband chip is? “A baseband processor (also known as baseband radio processor, BP, or BBP) is a device (a chip or part of a chip) in a network interface that manages all the radio functions (all functions that require an antenna). This may not include Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth. A baseband processor typically uses its own RAM and firmware.” (Thank you Wiki…)

And congratulations on your new jobs, Paul Chang and Xiping Wang.

One of Apple's newest employees – Paul Chang.

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps

So that’s the hiring rumour, but what the hey, let’s have a patent one too. But it’s not an ‘Apple just patented this, so expect to see this teamaker/joke teller/integrated home device in your very next iPhone’ rumour. No, this is more about the past. And how the discovery of an old patent could have serious ramifications on the proceedings in a certain court over in San Jose California. Slashdot has run a post from a contributor called theodp about our old friend, the ‘slide to unlock’ feature, which is one of the main bones of contention in the patent wars between Samsung and Apple.

GeekWire reports that a Microsoft researcher’s 1991 video could torpedo Apple’s key ‘slide to unlock’ patent, one of five patents that the iPhone maker cited in its demand for US$40 per Samsung phone. Confronted with what appears to be damning video evidence of prior art that pre-dates its ‘invention’ by more than a decade, Apple has reportedly argued that the sliding on/off switch demoed by Catherine Plaisant is materially different than the slide to unlock switch that its seven inventors came up with. Apple’s patent has already been deemed invalid in Europe because of similar functionality present in the Swedish Neonode N1M,” says the poster.

Hmmm, maybe this is the real reason Greg Christie is jumping ship – nothing to do with him being at loggerheads with Sir Jony after all?

Surely not?

Teacher’s Pet

Do you remember when the music charts were decided by the sales of sheet music? No, neither do we. But we’re assured that used to the be the case. Sheet music sales were swiftly superseded by the invention of the vinyl record single – first in 78 rpm form, then those familiar 45s of (some of our) youths. Then it was out with the records and in with the CDs, which in turn gave way to the more recent digital downloads.

Underwhelming Start to iTunes Radio Lights Fire Under Apple

Failing to bring in the bucks: iTunes Radio

Why the potted history lesson, we hear you ask? Well, it’s only to illustrate that when we’re talking about the music industry, time never, but never stands still. Hence the collective shoulder shrug to a report from Billboard, that details how iTunes Radio isn’t really taking off in the way that Apple may have hoped – i.e. it hasn’t led to a reversal of the decline in music downloads and, accordingly, Apple may be considering a signficant overhaul of the digital music store, the biggest in over a decade.

Surprising few people, only one to two percent of listeners to iTunes Radio actually click through to the buy button. But then why would they want to pay for something they’re already listening to? It’s not like they’re buying something tangible (when you held a 78 in your hand, you knew you had the real McCoy… OK, we’ll quit that line of reasoning before we get jettisoned off the internet for unmitigated Ludditism). But there are plethora of streaming services out there. If you can summon up that earworm you woke up with at the simply click of a button on Spotify, Pandora, Rdio or even iTunes Radio, why would you want to part with an additional couple of dollars to add it to your iTunes library?

“How Apple transforms iTunes, however, remains hotly debated, both within the company and among Apple’s content partners, sources say. Apple’s desire for a smooth transition is complicated by an urgency that iTunes must move quickly as people move away from downloads, where Apple controls 90 percent of download music sales in the US, towards streaming, where Apple is overshadowed,” says Billboard.

Que Sera

Oh, you’ve got this far, we can’t leave you hanging without a single iPhone 6 rumour. It wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be nice. Anything new to add to the multiple tales of 4.7in and 5.5in screens we’ve already heard Technology Tell? Well, no not really, but you do have some nice new renders designed by Ferry Passchier and commissioned by MacRumors, so we’ll just pass those on, if that’s all right.

“Passchier created renders for the 4.7in iPhone as well as the 5.7in version as shown above. There are a few notable differences, such as the power button on the left side of the device and a single tone flash unlike the one found inside the iPhone 5s. He also shows a protruding camera on the back,” explains Technology Tell.

And that’s the Rumour Mill for the week ending 11 April. But just in case you haven’t had enough Doris yet, here’s a little clip of her having the best time with one of her best co-stars, the one and only Rock Hudson… Adorable.

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