A new iPhone worm affecting jailbroken units is targeting owners who use their device to access Internet banking services from Dutch online bank ING. BBC News reports that the worm was discovered by security company F-Secure, and uses the same SSH vulnerability—specifically, jailbroken iPhones that have had SSH activated without having the default password changed—to redirect the bank’s customers to an unauthorized look-a-like site with a login screen. According to F-Secure, this new worm is more dangerous than prior threats because it can behave like a botnet, enabling the phone to be accessed or controlled remotely. “It’s the second iPhone worm ever and the first that’s clearly malicious - there’s a clear financial motive behind it,” F-Secure research director Mikko Hypponen told the BBC. “It’s fairly isolated and specific to Netherlands but it is capable of spreading.” Hypponen added that while the number of infected phones is thought to still be in the hundreds, the worm could potentially jump from phone to phone when multiple vulnerable devices are running on the network, such as at Wi-Fi hotspots. A spokesperson for ING Bank said the company was going to post a warning about the worm on its official website. “We are also briefing call centre personnel,” she added. “It’s important to remember that the worm only affects jail-broken phones and it is only aimed at customers in the Netherlands.”
In an interview with BusinessWeek, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller made several interesting comments about the continuing growth of the App Store and the company’s app approval process. “We’ve built a store for the most part that people can trust,” Schiller said of the App Store. “You and your family and friends can download applications from the store, and for the most part they do what you’d expect, and they get onto your phone, and you get billed appropriately, and it all just works.” Comparing Apple to a brick-and-mortar retailer that must determine what products to put on store shelves, Schiller continued, Whatever your favorite retailer is, of course they care about the quality of products they offer. We review the applications to make sure they work as the customers expect them to work when they download them.”
Schiller reiterated the company’s count of more than 100,000 apps available in the App Store, and said that roughly 10,000 are submitted each week; Schiller claimed that most are approved, while about 90% of rejections are sent back to the developer due to a technical issue, such as a bug or unexpected operation. The other 10% are mostly inappropriate. “There have been applications submitted for approval that will steal personal data, or which are intended to help the user break the law, or which contain inappropriate content,” Schiller said. However, about 1% or fewer of returned apps fall into a gray area that Apple hadn’t previously anticipated; Schiller used apps written to help users cheat at casino games as an example. “We had to go study state and international laws about what’s legal and what isn’t, and what legal exposure that creates for Apple or the customer,” he said.
Schiller said the company is also taking a hard line on potentially illegal use of trademarks—particularly those owned by Apple. “If you don’t defend your trademarks, in the end you end up not owning them,” Schiller says. “And sometimes other companies come to us saying they’ve seen their trademarks used in apps without permission. We see that a lot.” The executive did say that the company is working to make its trademark guidelines more sophisticated and transparent. “We need to delineate something that might confuse the customer and be an inappropriate use of a trademark from something that’s just referring to a product for the sake of compatibility,” he said. “We’re trying to learn and expand the rules to make it fair for everyone.”
Apple’s increased number of iPhone carriers in France is leading to a boost in sales, which bodes well for a similar result in the U.K. Marketwatch reports that the latest data from Bernstein shows Apple’s value market share in France jumped from 21% in the second quarter to 32% in the third quarter, thanks to the phone’s availability on Bouygues Telecom and SFR. “The expansion of iPhone distribution has clearly benefited Apple, helping it to more than double sales in three months,” said Pierre Ferragu, an analyst with Bernstein. Morgan Stanley had similar estimates, the report states, which showed iPhone market share in France increasing by 17% sequentially in the third quarter. Carolina Milanesi, research director in Gartner’s mobile device department, said France is now the biggest market for the iPhone in Europe with more than 600,000 units sold in the third quarter.
A similar boost is hoped for in the U.K. “Exclusivity in France ended in April. Our numbers show that shelf share tripled and market share doubled quarter on quarter,” said Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston. “Given that the U.K. market is pretty similar and the brand strong there, yes, you can extrapolate that.” O2 was the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the country until earlier this month when Orange launched the device; Orange said it saw first-day sales of 30,000 units, while competing carrier Vodafone will launch the handset early next year. [via MDN]
Google has launched a new mobile-formatted version of its Google News homepage. The new offering is optimized for display on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Android devices and the Palm Pre. It offers the same personalization available on the desktop, along with more stories, sources, and images, a mobile-friendly “jump to” menu, and the ability to reach favorite sections, find articles, and play videos in fewer taps. To access the new mobile version of Google News, simply visit news.google.com from Safari on an iPhone or iPod touch.
Virgin Mobile Canada has announced that it will launch the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in its Virgin Mobile retail stores and online in the coming months. Although no further details were provided in the official announcement, Canadian mobile news site MobileSyrup suggests that the handset will launch on the carrier in February 2010, and also believes pricing will be similar to that offered by the phone’s other Canadian carriers, with a three-year contract. The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are currently available in Canada through Rogers/Fido, Bell Canada, and Telus.
AT&T has suffered an initial setback in its lawsuit against Verizon Wireless over the latter’s recent TV advertisements attacking AT&T and the iPhone, but has also launched a new television commercial to counter the Verizon spots. A federal judge in Atlanta has denied an initial request from AT&T to force Verizon to pull its “map for that” commercials from the airwaves, the Asscociated Press reports, but did schedule a hearing on December 16 to give AT&T attorneys another chance to state their case. AT&T filed suit against Verizon Wireless two weeks ago claiming that the latter’s ads were “misleading.”
In response to Verizon’s ads, AT&T has launched a new TV commercial called “Side by Side” comparing certain characteristics of the two company’s offerings that favor the U.S. iPhone carrier. Starring actor Luke Wilson, the ad points out that AT&T has the “nation’s fastest 3G network,” which allows users to “talk and surf at the same time,” that it offers the most popular smartphones, and that its customers—more specifically, iPhone users—have access to over 100,000 apps. The new advertisement is available for viewing below in embedded form or can be viewed in high quality on YouTube. [via Mac Rumors]
AdMob, the mobile advertising network recently acquired by Google, has launched a new “Interactive Video Ad Unit” for the iPhone. The new ad unit promises “true interactivity,” offering in-player actions that enable users to browse Web sites, view additional videos, and more while the video is playing. AdMob says the unit will be sold primarily as an interstitial that will automatically play as an application loads, but may also be accessed through banner ads. In addition, AdMob creates multiple bitrate encodings of the video files for each and then dynamically streams the most appropriate file size based on the devices’ EDGE, 3G, or Wi-Fi connection, utilizing its network of globally distributed servers to ensure the fastest possible video load times. According to the company, AdMob’s iPhone ad network reached more than 20 million unique iPhones and iPod touch devices worldwide in 2009.
Qualcomm has confirmed that it is in talks with Apple over the possibility of supplying telecommunications chips for future versions of the iPhone. “We continue to discuss it, but haven’t made it yet,” Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Hopefully, in the future, we will have the opportunity.” The company already provides chips to other smartphone manufacturers, including those building phones that run Windows Mobile and Google’s Android operating systems. “We talk to everybody in the industry,” Jacobs said. “We are very strong in the smart-phone market.” Bloomberg reports that Qualcomm plans to begin selling chips compatible with China’s domestically-developed TD-SCDMA technology next year; China Mobile uses the technology and had 1.66 million TD-SCDMA customers as of September 30. China Mobile recently said that it remains in talks with Apple about offering the iPhone on its network.
Following last month’s launch of the iPhone in China on rival network China Unicom, China Mobile has reaffirmed that it remains in talks with Apple to offer the iPhone on its own, more popular, network. “We really are still in talks with Apple…In our negotiations in the past, we insisted on sticking to our conditions,” company chairman Wang Jianzhou told reporters at a regional mobile phone conference in Hong Kong, reports the AFP. “We are still very sincere about completing this negotiation,” he said, adding that the company would like to introduced several different types of smartphones in the coming years. “iPhone is only one type of smartphone. On the whole, we hope to turn all our future phones into smartphones. This would require the collective effort of our vendors.”
The Korea Communications Commission, South Korea’s telecommunications regulator, gave the iPhone its approval at a meeting this week, meaning the phone can now be launched at any time in the country. Strangely, this is the second time the device has been granted approval by the commission; the first was in September. Although commission spokesman Lee Sang-hun could not immediately confirm how this new decision different from September’s, he did say it was related to location-based services. South Korean law requires companies providing location-based data to obtain government permission, and in September’s decision, the commission decided that local service providers could obtain permission on Apple’s behalf.
KT and SK Telecom, local network providers in South Korea, have both been in discussions with Apple over the iPhone; Apple spokesman Steve Park told the Associated Press that the company has yet to confirm whether it will introduce the iPhone to South Korea. Still, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo has reported that KT—which confirmed plans to sell the iPhone in August—plans to begin taking online orders for the device on Thursday with a launch date of November 28, while a SK Telecom spokeswoman said the carrier has made no decisions regarding the device. Apple has yet to add South Korea to its list of countries to which the iPhone is “coming soon.”
Apple has begun to air two new television commercials for the iPhone 3GS. As with past iPhone 3GS ads, these two continue Apple’s recent end of highlighting different apps on an iPhone set against a white background, and show a wide variety of applications. “Gift” mentions the applications Target, ColorChange, The Snow Report, Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition, HotelPal, and Zipcar, while “Song” highlights Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals, Credit Card Terminal, Facebook, The Sims 3, Redfin Real Estate, and Shazam. Both commercials are available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has posted a job listing for a “Game/Media Software Engineer” to help develop “interactive multimedia experiences on the iPhone and iPod touch.” Among the preferred background requirements are 3-4 years of video game development experience, with at least one “AAA title” shipped, skills in “audio systems, graphics pipeline, and network programming,” and a passion for gaming. The job description states that the hire will “work as part of a small highly motivated team” and that the position “requires a creative thinker who can contribute and comment on the design process as well as being flexible enough to aid in all aspects of production such as asset management and able to work to a deadline.”
Mac Rumors notes that Apple has hired experienced game designer and programmer Graeme Devine, who most recently was the Lead Designer on the real-time strategy game Halo Wars for the Xbox 360, suggesting the company is forming an in-house gaming development team. Thus far, Apple has released only one first-party game for the iPhone and iPod touch, the App Store launch day title Texas Hold’em.
In an unusual move, AT&T has issued an official response to Verizon’s recent attack ads, which led the iPhone carrier to file a lawsuit against Verizon last week. “As the U.S. market leader in wireless data service, we typically don’t respond to competitors’ advertising. However, some recent ads from Verizon are so blatantly false and misleading, that we want to set the record straight about AT&T’s wireless data coverage,” the response states. “AT&T’s wireless data coverage reaches 303 million people – or 97% of the U.S. population, where they live and work…. 233 million people or 75% of the population are covered by AT&T’s 3G network, the nation’s fastest. 301 million people or more than 96% of the population are covered by EDGE. AT&T is the #1 network for smartphones, with twice the number of smartphone customers than Verizon, our closest competitor.” The response goes on to note that AT&T smartphone customers—or more specifically, iPhone customers—have access to over 100,000 applications, are able to use both voice and data services simultaneously, and have access to “the nation’s fastest 3G network.”
A NASA scientist has created a 30-pin accessory that allows an iPhone or iPod touch to be used as a chemical sensor. Jing Li, a physical scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, along with other researchers in the Cell-All program in the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, built the postage stamp-sized device, which packs 16 nanosensors that allow for detection and identification of low concentrations airborne ammonia, chlorine gas, and methane. Connected to an iPhone or iPod touch’s Dock port and used with a special app, the system can send detection data to another device over a cellular or Wi-Fi network. It is unknown whether the administration has plans for the system outside of proof-of-concept testing. [via Engadget]
According to the latest data from research firm Gartner, Apple accounted for 17% of worldwide smartphone sales in the third quarter. Apple’s market share trailed only that of BlackBerry maker RIM, with nearly 21%, and Nokia, with 39.3%—an all-time low for the Finnish company. Apple’s 17% share is a substantial improvement over the year-ago quarter, in which it accounted for only 12.9%. In addition, Gartner says that iPhone sales in the fourth quarter “should be even stronger as Apple starts selling in China, through one additional carrier in the UK, and in an additional 16 countries.” Overall, smartphone sales continued to increase, growing 13% in the third quarter.
Mac-focused security software developer Intego has posted a security memo warning of a new piece of malware targeting jailbroken iPhones and iPod touches. According to the post, the software, identified as iPhone/Privacy.A, uses the same vulnerability as the “rickroll” worm from earlier this week, attacking devices which have been jailbroken and had SSH activated without the owners changing the default password. However, unlike past hacks, which were mostly harmless, this new tool allows a hacker to silently copy a multitude of data from the compromised device, including e-mail, contacts, SMSs, calendars, photos, music files, videos, and any data recorded by any iPhone app. It also leaves no indication that the device has been compromised, since it doesn’t actually install anything on the iPhone or iPod touch, instead working from a PC, scanning the connected network for possible marks and copying their data when discovered.
Apple has passed Nokia to become the world’s most profitable handset manufacturer, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. In the third quarter of 2009, Strategy Analytics estimates Apple’s operating profit for its iPhone handset division to be $1.6 billion, with Nokia reaching only $1.1 billion of operating profit over the same time period. Alex Spektor, Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, “With strong volumes, high wholesale prices and tight cost controls, the PC vendor has successfully broken into the mobile phone market in just two years.” Neil Mawston, director of the Wireless Device Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, believes that Nokia must do better in the U.S. market if it wishes to recover, adding, “A successful fight on Apple’s high-profit home turf can simultaneously help to revitalize Nokia’s margins and to put a check on Apple’s surging growth.”
Conor Maples, a communications employee with Orange UK, has revealed via a Twitter update that the company has sold more than 30,000 iPhones on launch day. “Orange UK had sold more than 30k iPhones,smashing what we believe is the previously published first day sales records for a phone in the UK,” the posting reads. As Mac Rumors notes, it is unclear what previous first-day sales records Orange is referring to, as O2 is not believed to have revealed specific sales numbers for its launch of the original iPhone in November 2007. Orange is the second carrier to offer the iPhone in the UK behind O2; Vodafone has announced plans to begin offering the handset early next year.
Verizon is continuing to attack both AT&T and the iPhone with another new wave of TV advertisements. The most scathing spot, “Misfit Toys,” is based off the fictional Island of Misfit Toys as seen in the 1964 stop-animation holiday TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and sees an iPhone-like device arrive on the island to questions of why it was there when it can “download apps and browse the web,” with an AT&T 3G coverage map appearing above its head to explain the situation. Continue reading to view all three ads in embedded form.
RadioShack has announced that it will begin to offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in a limited number of stores later this month. The phones will initially be available only at select company-owned stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth and New York City metropolitan areas; the company says it expects to roll out the iPhone in stores nationwide next year.