Hardware and software developers who cater to users of Apple Computer Inc.s Macintosh line of computers have three big seasons per year: the holiday season and the summer and winter Macworld Expo trade shows. With this weeks event up and running in New Yorks Jacob K. Javits Center, companies large and small have pulled aside the curtains on new and improved wares -- some for consumers, but a surprising number for enterprise and professional users.
Though tomorrows keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs will no doubt contain some surprises, Apple has already made one big announcement when yesterday it released the final version of QuickTime 6.
The latest version of the Cupertino, Calif., companys flagship multimedia technology was delayed for months due to licensing issues with MPEG LA, the governing body for the MPEG-4 codec. QuickTime 6 includes not only support for MPEG-4 but also for the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec. In addition, QuickTime 6 works with the DVC Pro PAL video codec, Macromedia Flash 5 and the JPEG 2000 standard. However, the long-awaited MPEG-2 video decoding seems to be missing.
In a move sure to generate revenue for Apple but irritate some users, the $29.95 licenses for the "Pro" version (which are required for access to many of these advanced features) will not carry over from versions 4 and 5 of QuickTime.
In related news, Apple has announced that it has renewed its partnership with Internet bandwidth provider Akamai.
Apple subsidiary FileMaker also last week announced a new version of its eponymous database application, FileMaker Pro 6. The upgrade boasts XML import and export; Windows XP support; redesigned templates and improved import and find features. Pricing is $299, with upgrades from most previous versions running $149.
Sybase Inc. yesterday officially announced a Mac OS X version of its Adaptive Server Enterprise 12.5 enterprise-class relational database management system. Currently, the software is available to Mac OS X developers through Sybases Apple Early Adopter Program. The final version of the product is expected to be available in September.
A smaller company, 360Works, has also targeted enterprise-class developers with a beta of a product called WooF. The software is a JDBC adapter for WebObjects, Apples enterprise-class rapid application development environment. Using this adapter developers will be able to integrate Apples Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF) and a relational database, such as FileMaker Pro, company officials said. Pricing on the final version is not yet available.
Runtime Labs will announce its MacSQL Framework at Macworld Expo/New York. This software is a dynamic shared library for use in Mac OS X that will provide a connection between AppleScript Studio or Cocoa applications and SQL databases such as MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, FrontBase, OpenBase and ODBC database servers.
Also for developers is Solidwaves RADicode, a rapid application development tool that adapts REALbasic projects into PowerPlant code. It will be priced at $149.95 until August 31.
SPSS Inc. announced that it will ship in September the creatively named SPSS 11.0 for Mac OS X, complete with a new, Aqua interface. This data mining and analysis software expands the capabilities of the previous version, using linear mixed models; it also provides improved statistical procedures, a Data Restructure Wizard, descriptive radio statistics and more.
Though its not an enterprise-class application on its own, of interest to workers in the enterprise space is Microsoft Corp.s release of Handheld Synchronization for Entourage X, the Mac OS X-only email client from the same company. With it, users of Palm-based handhelds can sync their data automatically -- but only with the English version currently.
Beyond the Enterprise
The word processor market may be pretty much sewn up by the Tyrannosaurus Rex Microsoft, but there remain smaller, more agile companies that offer alternatives. One, Mariner Software, announced this week Mariner Write 3.0, which adds Mac OS X compatibility, the ability to read Microsoft Word documents, on-the-fly spell checking, PDF output and more. Pricing is $69.95 for a downloadable version of $79.95 in boxed form.
Mac OS X-based graphic artists who did not, until recently, have native versions of Adobes products could use Stone Designs Stone Studio suite of applications. This week, the company updated all elements of the $299 package of seven applications, adding text styles and auto-layout of multiple pages and more to Create 10.5.7 as well as other options to the other utilities.
For QuickTime developers, eZedia has announced eZediaQTI, a new QuickTime-based authoring application for use with video, graphics, animation and other QuickTime elements.
And for those who just like to watch, El Gato Software LLC has announced the first hardware/software product for the Mac that offers personal video recorder capabilities, the EyeTV Digital Video Recorder. It loses some quality and flexibility compared with existing personal video products such as TiVo; the EyeTV can only record to MPEG-1 rather than the TiVos MPEG-2 quality video. Still, the EyeTV integrates with USB-equipped Macs, utilizing an on-line program guide. And programs recorded with the EyeTV can be burned to video CDs or DVDs on Macs with SuperDrives.
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