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Apple Talk Weekly: Apple's market-cap shuffle

CNET breaks down a week's worth of Apple news and rumors, and serves up answers to your questions. This week we look at the company's market-cap dance with Exxon, the iCloud phone, and injunction functions.

Welcome to the second edition of Apple Talk Weekly, a look back at the week's top Apple news and rumors, along with answers to your Apple questions.

The big news this week--besides Apple successfully nabbing a legal injunction that keeps Samsung from selling its Galaxy tablet in the European Union--was Apple pushing past Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company by market capitalization. That happened on Tuesday, with the two companies swapping places several times. Exxon eventually closed the day back on top, only to have Apple take back the crown the very next day. Since then, the race has remained close, with Exxon finishing the week slightly ahead.

This week also marked another chapter in the saga of the lost iPhone 4 prototype, with San Mateo County officials filing criminal charges against the two men involved with the alleged finding, and subsequent sale, of the device to gadget blog Gizmodo. The blog, along with its parent company Gawker Media, were not charged with any crime. The move follows last year's high-profile leak of the iPhone 4 well ahead of its official debut.

For product news, it was a quiet, quiet week, with Apple releasing an entry-level iMac for educational buyers that comes in under $1,000, along with yet another beta of iOS 5 for developers--a good sign the mobile OS is nearing a public release.

The big rumor that capped off the week was that Apple planned to hold a media event the second week of September to show off its new iPods, as the company has done on numerous other occasions. That rumor, coming from Japanese tech news site Kodawarisan yesterday, was squashed a bit later in the day.

Read on to get the full week's highlights, and the answer to a reader question on bringing his iTunes library to Apple's iCloud.

Company news

Apple becomes most valuable company by market capitalization
As mentioned up top, Apple topped Exxon Mobil by market capitalization to become the most valuable publicly traded company. Exxon finished the week back on top, though not by much.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 5 to developers
The release is mostly bug fixes, though as TechCrunch noted, a number of Core Image filters are now included, which promise to let developers add nifty photo editing effects to their apps.

Apple's new $999 iMac is aimed at educational institutions.
Apple's new $999 iMac is aimed at educational institutions. Apple

Apple releases $999 Thunderbolt-free iMac
Before getting your hopes up, this new iMac is effectively a kiosk unit, with less RAM and no Thunderbolt port. It's also only for education buyers, so it's probably not something you're in the market for. Still, it's a sub-$1,000 iMac that comes in $200 less than Apple currently charges for its entry-level model.

Apple updates recycling program to include iPhone, iPad buybacks
An update to Apple's reuse and recycling program that's a result of a partnership with PowerON means people with old iPhones, iPads, and Macs can get money back for their old stuff. Don't expect cash though--Apple is doling out gift cards that can be used in its retail stores or online stores.

Apple disk assistant app lets you make your own Lion recovery tool
Apple's new software tool lets you turn an ordinary blank drive (including a hard drive or USB stick) into a recovery image of your system. Apple is offering it as a backup in case you can't start your computer with Lion's built-in recovery drive partition, or you've just popped a new hard drive in your system without Mac OS X on it.

Legal news of the week

Apple gets injunction against Samsung's Galaxy tablet in Europe
This preliminary injunction, which went in Apple's favor this week, means Samsung can't sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in all of Europe, except the Netherlands. A hearing scheduled for later this month will let Samsung fight the action. Apple and Samsung are embroiled in similar legal battles with each other in the U.S., both with lawsuits and with complaints to the U.S. International Trade Commission. (Note: Apple filed a similar suit against Motorola in the EU over the design of Motorola's Xoom tablet).

Prosecutors file charges in prototype iPhone case
Remember the iPhone 4 that was left in the bar and wound up on Gizmodo months before Apple took the wraps off it at last year's WWDC? The San Mateo County District Attorney's office this week filed criminal charges against two men who were involved in the alleged theft and subsequent sale of that device. An arraignment has been scheduled for later this month.

The outside of the fake Apple store in Kunming, China.
The outside of the fake Apple store in Kunming, China. BirdAbroad

Apple sued for Fast Boot patent
A lawsuit from entity Operating System Solutions takes aim at Apple's Mac OS X for violating a patent it owns for quickly booting up an OS. What's interesting about that patent is that it was originally owned by LG, which supplies Apple with components it uses in its electronics. The patent changed hands in 2008 as part of a reissuing.

Apple, others sued over e-book price fixing
Apple was named along with a handful of major book publishers like the Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster in a lawsuit saying those companies "colluded to increase prices" on popular books by using an "agency model" versus the traditional wholesale model.

22 more fake Apple stores found in China
Following an investigation, 22 additional local Chinese retailers were found to be selling goods under Apple's banner without permission to do so. The finding comes after international attention on counterfeit Apple stores made waves last month. The key thing here is that this was just one city within the country. A similar crackdown in another part of the country found an additional crop of stores.

Rumors of the week: September iPod event, iCloud phones

A report by Japanese tech news site Kodawarisan made waves this week, claiming Apple planned to announce a new lineup of iPods at an event on September 7. That date's not all that hard to believe, considering it's around the same time the company takes the wraps off that line of devices. The report was later rebuffed by Apple tracker Jim Dalrymple, who, citing anonymous sources, said there's no event or phone launch planned for that date. AllThingsD's Kara Swisher later weighed in as well, once again reiterating the outlet's claims that Apple plans to debut the new device in October.

The invite to last year's Apple music event, where the company unwrapped new iPods.
The invite to last year's Apple music event, where the company unwrapped new iPods. Apple

The day before all this, a separate report by Apple news site Apple 'N' Apps claimed Apple would be taking the wraps off a new phone that would drop some of the storage, instead making use of iCloud's storage features to stash away and access data.

Between the two, the so-called "iCloud iPhone" is the far more interesting rumor. iPods now play second fiddle to the iPhone both in terms of sales and buzz. The prospect that Apple is somehow working on a second tier of iPhone has been kicking around for years, though it's of special interest now that Google's Android platform has made considerable gains--in part because it's available in different form factors.

In this case, the paid storage aspect of iCloud, mixed with a device with little on-board memory could provide an additional way for Apple to make money after a user buys the hardware. The big blocker? Short of what Apple's recently done with itsTV show streaming, iCloud is not a streaming service for things like movies and music--the items that can really take up space on these devices. And how would this work with apps, some of which can take up room? Those are all things that would need to be answered with such a device.

Patent of the week: Projectors in your gadgets for a shared display

An Apple patent applicationthat surfaced this week offered the tantalizing prospect of not only putting projectors in gadgets like phones, tablets, and notebooks to display content on nearby walls or presentation surfaces, but also giving those devices a way to talk with each other to make a big, shared workspace.

Apple's multidevice projector patent promises to blend screens from multiple devices, into one.
Apple's multidevice projector patent promises to blend screens from multiple devices into one. USPTO

In the patent this is depicted with images of phones and computers blasting out images of scatter plots and pie charts, but the same technology could also theoretically be used to let you stitch together those projections into a nice big wide screen, perfect for watching movies, or, say, putting nine iPhones together to see photos in their native resolution.

Reader question of the week

CNET reader Michael S. asks:

Hi Josh, I enjoy reading your work on CNET. In regards to cloud computing, I have been busy digitizing my CD collection, and on my iPod Touch I'm at about 24GB of music in my iTunes library. Thus, going on what you wrote, it's going to cost me a chunk of change to put that on the cloud, right?

As you can probably tell I'm no Apple--or for that matter PC--black belt, but as I understood the promo launch Steve Jobs did, I upload my music, they convert it to 256(Kbps) quality, and it's goodbye CDs. Now I understand it to mean basically it's going to cost me $100 a year. Am I missing something?


A: OK, here's the thing about storage on iCloud: if you've purchased anything from Apple, it doesn't get counted. And anytime you want to go redownload that music on another device attached to your account, you can do it free of charge.

Considering your library is made up of non-iTunes purchases, what you're going to need is the upcoming iTunes Match service. For $24.99 a year, Apple will scan your library (all 24 gigs of it), then cross-reference that music with what's in its iTunes Store library. If it finds a match, you effectively own a cloud license of that track for as long as you're paying Apple for the Match service, meaning you can download and use the high-quality version of it on other devices just as if you had bought it through Apple. Anything else that's not included in that match goes against your regular iCloud storage. So if you plan on storing a copy for safe keeping and it ends up being more than 5GB, you'll need to upgrade to one of Apple's paid storage plans.

One other caveat with iTunes Match is that it's limited to 25,000 songs, meaning if you have a library bigger than that in terms of song volume, only 25,000 songs of that library will get indexed.

Note: If you have any of your own questions that you'd like to see answered in this weekly column, use the e-mail link right below this article. If I can't get to your question, I might pass it on to my colleagues over at MacFixIt, who run MacFixIt Answers.