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Rumor Roundup: Completely backwards


It was another slow week for rumors, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense if the iPad mini is supposed to be launching this month. You'd think that we'd be hearing something like 50 rumors a week about the thing, but instead there's barely a peep.

AuthenTec Said to Cut Off Non-Apple Fingerprint Sensor Customers in 2013 (MacRumors)

A Korean newspaper claims Apple's latest acquisition has informed its customers that its fingerprint sensor tech won't be offered to them anymore starting next year. This has companies like Samsung and HP scrambling to find alternatives, but since AuthenTec -- and by extension, Apple -- owns a large segment of the fingerprint sensor IP, essentially they may all be out of luck.

There's not yet any reliable information on what Apple plans to do with AuthenTec's technology. Wide-eyed claims of last-minute NFC additions to the iPhone 5 based on AuthenTec fingerprint sensors failed to pan out, and Apple's execs have indicated they're not particularly interested in NFC at this time.

iPhone 5 shortage reportedly a result of Apple's in-cell displays (AppleInsider)

Some analyst says the new display tech in the iPhone 5 is the primary reason Apple's suppliers can't manufacture handsets quickly enough to meet demand. This sounds suspiciously similar to rumors from weeks before the handset's debut which said essentially the same thing.

Considering the huge, worldwide demand for the iPhone 5, it's probably a combination of factors keeping supplies (relatively) low rather than one single bottleneck. Most of the components in the iPhone 5 are all new, so it doesn't benefit from any of the production scalability that the iPhone 4S did. It certainly doesn't help matters that all over the world people are climbing over one another and selling their grandparents on eBay to be able to buy this supposedly "disappointing" smartphone.

Rumor: Apple ordering parts for new product made of carbon fiber (AppleInsider)

Macotakara claims Apple has ordered a bunch of carbon fiber, too much for it to be used for engineering samples. My prediction: Tim Cook is using it to build his own race car. He certainly looks like the kind of guy who lives life a quarter mile at a time.

"For those ten seconds or less, I'm free."

Apple investigating inductive charging mat for docking portable devices (AppleInsider)

Despite Phil Schiller pretty much claiming that inductive charging is a solution looking for a problem, it seems like Apple is at least interested in patenting certain applications of the technology. This patent shows that devices could not only charge when placed on a charging pad, but also sync to iCloud or elsewhere, with the device's orientation determining what kind of syncing (if any) takes place.

In spite of the coolness factor, I agree with Schiller that inductive charging is more complicated than what we have now. For one, it's yet another thing you'd have to pack on a long trip. Given that you already have to pack a charger and a cable, then plug that charger into the wall, it doesn't seem practical.

Plus, try explaining inductive charging to your grandma. "Johnny, tell me again how I plug in my phone to give it more juice?"

"Lay it on the charging pad, Grandma."

"Watch your mouth, Johnny!"

Video of alleged 'iPad mini' mockup hits the web (AppleInsider)

Another week, another fake iPad that's somehow newsworthy. For the iPhone 5 we had enough parts leak out over the months before its debut that you could practically build one yourself if you knew the right suppliers. The iPad mini is supposedly going to debut at a "special event" sometime this month, and all we have so far are mockups. I'm still waiting for the smoking gun that finally kills my skepticism that this product actually exists.

Jenkins: TV Will Be Apple's Undoing (Wall Street Journal)

This isn't a rumor as such, just the most boneheaded analysis I've read in at least a couple of months. It was a slow week for rumors, so here it is.

"Apple had snafus under Steve Jobs," Holman Jenkins reminds us, and goes on to list them.

  • "Antenna-gate" (sic) -- Not so much a "snafu" as "minor technical defect wildly blown out of proportion by the media."
  • "MobileMe" -- Objection sustained.
  • "The frequently obtuse Siri" -- Which didn't make it into users' hands until after Jobs's death, but who pays attention to minor details like the date of the biggest tech story of 2011?

"Its latest snafu, a faulty maps application installed on the new version of the iPhone, isn't a testament to the inferiority of Apple's current management," Jenkins says. He's right; it's a testament to people not knowing the difference between "application" and "data." Apple Maps, the app, is great. It's the map data that stinks -- or so I'm told, anyway. Unlike Google Maps, in all the months I've used Apple Maps in New Zealand the app has never once tried to steer me down a road that didn't actually exist, something that happened almost every time I used Google Maps. Apple's satellite photos for my town also aren't more than four years out of date like Google's are.

But I digress, and so does Jenkins. "Forget the maps farrago," he says, simultaneously making me reach for my dictionary and wonder why the Wall Street Journal's editors didn't excise those opening two paragraphs.

What Jenkins really wants to talk about is TV, and why it's going to be Apple's "undoing." "Television is about to demonstrate the inadequacy of Apple's own business model," Jenkins says. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, so let's see what he says.

"Video-content owners aren't looking for a savior and ultimately won't be satisfied with anything less than an open ecosystem accessible by any device."

HAHAHAHAHA. Wait, are these the same content owners who region-protect DVDs and Blu-ray discs, georestrict content through Hulu and other services so it's not viewable outside the USA, and keep trying to tell me that it's illegal to rip content off a DVD I paid for so I can watch it on my iPad? Are these the same content owners who embrace DRM-laden physical formats like Blu-ray while shunning "open ecosystems" like worldwide digital distribution? Are these the same content owners who are so married to the current cable subscription system in the USA that they'll cling to it with their dying breaths, no matter how inconvenient, needlessly expensive and technologically backward it is for the rest of us?

Those content owners are looking for "an open ecosystem accessible by any device," Mr. Jenkins? Maybe on Earth-253 they are, but here on Earth-442, not so much.

"To maintain its position, [Apple] will have to focus more on giving its devices superb access to content it doesn't control and hasn't approved." Jenkins is conflating the idea of the App Store -- very much controlled and curated by Apple, who holds all the cards -- with the iTunes Store, which only contains as much content as media conglomerates are willing to dole out.

As one example of what seems to be going on in Jenkins's mind, the reason I couldn't buy the recent high-definition remaster of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season off iTunes is because Apple doesn't want it there. Not Paramount, not Viacom. It's only available on Blu-ray, and that's all Apple's fault. Somehow. The first season of Game of Thrones wasn't released on iTunes for a full year after its TV airing, and I'm sure that's because Apple wants to make it difficult for people to watch the show if they don't subscribe to HBO.

"The time to worry will be if Apple's quixotic quest for TV leads it to block more realistic solutions that emerge on the open Internet." Jenkins, I suggest you travel outside of the USA and try to access literally any streaming video content from major US-based media sites while you're overseas so you can see how "worldwide" the Web really is.

Rumor Roundup Completely backwards

I honestly didn't think anyone could get the situation this completely backwards, but Jenkins managed it. Apple is the villain keeping universal, all-access, anywhere, anytime media content off of my devices? It's only because I have a US-based iTunes account that I'm able to get timely paid, legal access to TV shows and movies here in New Zealand at all.

TV won't be Apple's "undoing," but it's also not likely the company's going to be able to do for TV what it did for computing, music, smartphones or tablets. That's because content owners are the ones standing in the way of progress, not Apple.

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