Apple beats Microsoft to the punch; Woz comes to Macworld
- By John K. Waters
In what was widely seen as an attempt to upstage an expected Microsoft
software unveiling, Apple Computer last week launched the commercial version of
its much anticipated multi-device synchronization software, iSync, ahead of its
scheduled introduction days later at the Macworld trade show. The new iSync 1.0
can synchronize calendar and contact data with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones,
PalmOS devices and Apple's iPod portable digital music player, according to
Microsoft had long planned to bring out its own synchronization software,
dubbed the Plus Digital Media Edition (PDME) for Windows XP, tomorrow. Insiders
say PDME allows users of devices running Microsoft's Pocket PC software to synch
digital music, news clips and other content to a PC.
Apple made available a beta version of iSync in September, and industry
watchers were expecting the commercial version to ship sometime after this
week's Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. Some analysts are
speculating that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company stepped up its development
and introduction schedule to beat its rival in Redmond to the shelves and the
Basically, the iSync platform adds mobile phones to Apple's digital hub
strategy. It works with the Mac OS X Jaguar Address Book and iCal (Apple's
calendar program) to synchronize contacts and calendars among Bluetooth-enabled
mobile phones, PalmOS devices, Apple's iPod portable digital music player and
other Macs using Apple's .Mac service. With iSync 1.0, users can sync their
Jaguar Address Book with the new .Mac Address Book, making it possible to access
contacts while using .Mac Web Mail from virtually any computer, the company said
in a statement. iSync 1.0 also includes a feature that allows for regularly
scheduled Mac-to-Mac synchronization.
At the same time, Apple brought out Version 1.0.1 of iCal, an update to
Apple's calendar program that lets users manage multiple calendars and share
them over the Internet. Apple officials claim that the Internet
publish-and-subscribe capability in the initial version beat its calendaring
rivals to the punch. Users can 'publish' individual iCal calendars on the
Internet, and other Mac users can 'subscribe' to them and view them in iCal on
their own Macs. The subscribed-to calendars can automatically update whenever
the original published calendars are updated.
Apple introduced the first release of iCal in September,
and the company claims that more than 1 million copies have been distributed and
more than 200,000 calendars have been published online. Both iCal and iSync
require Mac OS X Version 10.2.3.
Apple has partnered with U.S. carrier Cingular Wireless,
through the carrier's Internet Express Network, and phone manufacturer Sony
Ericsson. Several Sony Ericsson devices, including the T68i, support the ''Mac to
Mobile'' platform. It also works with Palm's Tungsten, Zire and M-series PDAs;
the Handspring Treo and Visor handhelds; and Sony's Clie.
These early product announcements are a prelude to what promises to be an
interesting Macworld conference, if only for one of its featured speakers: Apple
co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion
on ''The Move to Mac OS X'' (Tuesday, January 7 at 2 p.m.). Woz, who left Apple in
1985, hasn't made an appearance at one of these events since 1997.
Wozniak started a commercial venture last January called Wheels of Zeus, or
WOZ, a play on his nickname. The start-up company is developing global
positioning systems for consumers.
His former partner and co-founder and current Apple CEO Steve Jobs is slated
to give the opening conference keynote early on the same day (Tuesday, January 7
at 9 a.m.). The two founded Apple in 1977.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached