Researchers at International Business Machines say a new method for cramming data onto magnetic tape will increase storage capacity at least 15 times, enough to squeeze the text from 8 million books onto a cartridge half the size of a VHS tape.
High-capacity, reliable hard disk drives are ubiquitous today, but tape is still a common medium for storing rarely accessed materials. IBM's tape-storage revenue rose 9 percent last year.
Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, plan to announce Tuesday they have invented a process for stuffing 6.67 billion bits into a square inch of tape and 8 terabytes (roughly 8 trillion bytes) on a single cartridge. They contend that would be 15 to 20 times denser than today's industry-standard tape products.
Customers wanting to take advantage of the new tape technology, expected to be available in about five years, would need to upgrade to new machines. Also, customers likely will have to re-record old data onto the new tapes.
- - -
Apple accused of stealing: Creative Technology, the distant No. 2 to Apple Computer in the music-player market, on Monday said it filed patent complaints against Apple in federal court and with a U.S. trade agency. Singapore-based Creative also said it had filed a lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging violation of the company's "Zen" patent.
The U.S. Patent Office issued the Zen patent to Creative on August 9, 2005. Creative said it covers the software menus users navigate to find and play back music on most portable digital media players, including Creative's Zen and Nomad brands as well as Apple iPod devices.
The struggling company seeks an injunction and increased damages for what it claims is Apple's "willful infringement of the Zen patent." Creative said it is seeking an exclusion order and cease-and-desist order against Apple that would prohibit it from selling, marketing or importing its hit products into the United States.
- - -
More sounds for your cell: With the market for ringtones nearing maturation and growth rates expected to fall to about 20 percent this year after doubling in 2005, record labels are preparing different music clips to personalize other mobile phone features.
Several wireless operators will introduce musical "alert tones" -- a snippet of a song lasting between two and five seconds, that users can assign to play when they receive incoming text messages and voicemail, similar to a ringtone. With 9.8 billion text messages sent per month, according to trade group Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, labels and carriers are interested in making money from that function.
Sony BMG has a series of spoken-word alert tones from artists like Anthony Hamilton and Cassidy, available on all major wireless carriers, and will expand to clips of songs once U.S. wireless operators request them. Sources say Universal Music Group has converted "hundreds" of tracks into alert tones, and they are creating original, made-for-mobile alerts tones by "key artists."
- - -
Americans praise cable providers: U.S. consumers complain about their cable television bill and waiting for the repair man, but a survey released Tuesday showed consumers were more satisfied with their providers because they offer packages of television, telephone and internet service.
The annual satisfaction index for cable and satellite TV rose to 63 from 61, the first rise since it began polling on the industry 5 years ago, according to the report released by the University of Michigan.
The University said it spoke to about 250 customers per company, including DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. DirecTV had the highest rating at 71, up from last year's 67, while Time Warner Cable was unchanged at 61.