RealTime IT News

Blogs Persist Despite Apple's Suit

Apple Computer is catching flack for its lawsuits against some Mac-centric blogs and Web sites.

On the opening day of the annual Macworld show in San Francisco, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said it is representing the publishers of AppleInsider and PowerPage. The two sites were sued for posting information about an alleged product code-named Asteroid. The sites maintain that the company will announce a new external device this week that lets musicians plug in traditional music equipment into a Macintosh computer.

Apple executives were not immediately available for comment after repeated requests.

The Macintosh maker obtained a court order to subpoena the AppleInsider and PowerPage sites after it filed a suit on Dec. 13 in a Santa Clara court. Apple said it wanted the names behind a post entitled, "Does 1-20," which allegedly leaked the information in question.

The EFF countered saying bloggers' sources are protected by the same laws that protect sources providing information to journalists.

"Bloggers break the news, just like journalists do. They must be able to promise confidentiality in order to maintain the free flow of information," EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a statement. "Without legal protection, informants will refuse to talk to reporters, diminishing the power of the open press that is the cornerstone of a free society."

A potential plug-in device for musicians seems to be the least of Apple's problems.

The company has been on the defensive since last month when lines of code of its upcoming operating system code-named Tiger were prematurely circulated publicly. Apple sued three members of its own Apple Developer Connection (ADC) for downloading and distributing the latest builds through peer-to-peer network BitTorrent.

Apple was also unhappy about Think Secret's annual pre-Macworld cat-and-mouse game of trying to guess what Apple CEO Steve Jobs may reveal during the show's marquee keynote.

Publisher Nick de Plume has historically removed information from his site at the request of Apple if he hits too close to the bone. But this time Jobs and Co. filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County to stop the leaks and learn the identities of the informants.

Among Think Secret's sourced predictions are a sub-$500 iMac that ships without a monitor; a Flash memory-based iPod; an improved iPod mini with more storage; and an upgrade of the company's AppleWorks productivity suite re-named: iWork.

However the keynote turns out, analysts are eager to lend their opinion.

"There is a rumor that Apple may be taking AMD's reference design for a media player," Rob Enderle, a principal analyst with IT research firm Enderle Group, told internetnews.com. "This is probably a long shot largely because the digital rights for related content haven't been worked and Apple doesn't have a TV solution yet and that would likely need to come first. However, there are a number of ex-Apple folks on the AMD team, and this is a segment that does seem to be heating up as more and more think the next iPod will be one of these devices."

"Apple would benefit greatly from the introduction of a sub-$500 headless Mac," Tim Deal, a senior analyst with market research and consulting firm Technology Business Research, said. "This would help the company counter consumer objections to its computer prices. More importantly, since Apple's best customers are already Mac-owners, it could greatly increase its installed base thus providing up-sell opportunities in the future."

"As a CPU guy, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of dual-core PowerPC chips and a new low-power CPU from P.A. Semi," Pete Glaskowsky, Apple market watcher and independent analyst said. "The dual-core chip may show up tomorrow, but I don't believe PA Semi is ready to go yet. Even if we don't get either of those, we may see a 3GHz Power Mac G5."