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AdMob: Android gaining on iPhone in U.S

The number of devices in the United States running Google’s Android operating system is closing in on the number of iPhones in the country, according to AdMob’s April 2010 Mobile Metrics Report (PDF LInk). As of April, AdMob saw requests from 10.7 million unique iPhones, compared to 8.7 million Android devices. When the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, they amount to 18.3 million devices. The situation is not the same worldwide, however. Globally, AdMob saw requests from 11.6 million unique Android devices, compared to 27.4 million iPhones. Again, when the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, this number is much higher—40.8 million globally. Overall, only 44% of iPhone OS requests are from the U.S, compared to 75% for Android. AdMob’s metrics are based on its advertising network of more than 23,000 mobile websites and applications around the world.

Apple ‘saddened and upset’ by Foxconn suicides

Apple has said in a statement that it is “saddened and upset” by the recent suicides at manufacturing partner Foxconn. Reuters reports that Apple’s comments come as Foxconn and its parent company Hon Hai are launching a PR campaign to counter growing concerns about the company’s handling of its employees. “We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn,” Apple said in a statement. “We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously. A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made.”

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou has also spoken out about his concern over the ongoing employee suicides, with nine so far this year. “I’m very concerned about this. I can’t sleep every night,” said Gou. “From a scientific point of view, I’m not confident we can stop every case. But, as a responsible employer, we have to take up the responsibility of preventing as many as we can.” Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.

Apple taps Oscar-winning director for new iPhone ads

Apple has tapped Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes to direct its TV advertisements for the next-generation iPhone. Citing a trusted source as well as a pair of Twitter updates, Engadget reports that Mendes, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2000 for American Beauty, will direct the new commercials, at least one of which will feature a mother and daughter having a video chat conversation using the new front-facing camera. Auditions for the commercials are being held in New York and California, according to the report; Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone on June 7 during his keynote address at the company’s WWDC event.

AT&T testing free Wi-Fi in Times Square

AT&T will bring its first-ever free outdoor Wi-Fi hot spot online today in New York City’s Times Square, in an effort to battle the network traffic congestion caused by smartphone, and most prominently iPhone, users. The Wall Street Journal reports that pedestrians using AT&T smartphones will be able to connect over Wi-Fi at no charge when in range of the hot spot, which is located new 7th Ave. between 45th and 47th Streets. “It’s a very large data off-load in a venue where traditionally data would go over our old voice and data network,” Mike Maus, who oversees AT&T’s New York network, told the WSJ. AT&T also said it may expand the trial to up to three other U.S. cities; although it declined to say where, San Francisco would be a likely choice, given the company’s past congestion problems in the area.

Walmart offering 16GB iPhone 3GS for $97

Walmart has announced that it is now offering the 16GB iPhone 3GS for $97. Like all past iPhones, these discounted iPhone 3GS units are new and require a two-year contract with AT&T. With Apple CEO Steve Jobs expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone during his June 7 WWDC keynote address, it is possible that the price drops are a precursor to Apple discontinuing the 8GB iPhone 3G, which is currently sold for roughly $100, and replacing it with the 16GB iPhone 3GS, while the new models fill in the traditional $199 and $299 price points. Notably, neither Apple nor AT&T has yet to drop their prices on 16GB iPhone 3GS models.

White iPhone 4G prototype appears online

Another next-generation iPhone prototype has appeared online, this time sporting a white faceplate. Engadget, citing Chinese site Apple.pro, reports that the faceplate of the prototype does not appear to have been snapped in all the way, hovering some distance above the white Home button and metal sides, but otherwise appears to be legitimate, appearing the photo next to a black prototype similar to the one obtained and photographed by Gizmodo. Several supposed white next-generation iPhone faceplates had previously appeared online, but this is the first time one has been pictured attached to a full prototype unit, lending credence to the idea that Apple may be planning to announce both white and black models of its next-generation iPhone, with the white model becoming the first iPhone OS device to feature a non-black front.

iPhone sales pass 700,000 in South Korea

Over 700,000 iPhones have been sold in South Korea since the device went on sale last November, according to a Korea Herald report. An average of 4,000 per day have been sold since the launch, notes KT, the iPhone’s exclusive carrier in South Korea. It took the handset 27 days to go from 500,000 to 600,000 subscribers but only 25 days to add another 100,000, indicating that sales of the iPhone in Korea are accelerating despite delayed purchases from some consumers waiting for the arrival of a new model this summer. Finally, the report states that the number of Korea-developed iPhone apps is approaching 6,000, from roughly 600 registered developers.

AT&T to hike early termination fees to $325

AT&T is planning to raise its early termination fees for smartphones and netbooks from $175 to $325, Dow Jones reports, noting that the move comes amid rumors that AT&T may lose its iPhone exclusivity over the next year. Thankfully for current AT&T iPhone customers, the rate changes will not affect current contracts; instead, they will apply to all new and renewing customers beginning June 1. Notably, the higher cancellation fees will apply to any new iPhone customers who purchase the next-generation model expected to be announced at Apple’s 2010 WWDC conference in early June. While the termination fees for smartphones will rise, the same fees will actually drop by $25 for feature or messaging phone contracts. Earlier this week, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega made several comments relating to the possibility of AT&T customers leaving when the company’s iPhone exclusivity ends, noting that 70% of customers are on family plans, which can be a pain to move over to a new carrier, and 40% are on corporate discount plans.

Designers pushed to abandon Flash due to iPhone, iPad

A number of designers are being asked by their clients to ensure that their websites are iPhone- and iPad-compatible, forcing them to abandon Flash for development use in those cases, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Since the iPad came out we’ve had a lot of clients say that they just don’t want Flash on their sites,” said Chantelle Simoes, vice president at CA-based Ninth Degree Inc., which has built websites for Sanyo and NASA. She added that should the trend continue, the 10-person firm will need to hire workers experienced in iPhone development. The report cites several other cases in which designers and companies have needed to look beyond Flash to reach iPhone and iPad users, including Sports Illustrated, which recently launched a new web app built on HTML5 technologies. “We’re going forward on more than one front,” said Terry McDonnell, editor of Sports Illustrated Group. “The last thing that we want to do is make some decision that we’re not sure about.” Cruise line company Carnival launched a new, Flash-free home page last year due to the iPhone, and is unlikely to continue using Adobe’s tech on other projects due to Apple’s stance. “The iPhone and iPad have made us take a look at alternatives” to publishing in Flash, said Jordan Corredera, director and general manager of Carnival’s online business.

Gartner: Apple world’s seventh-largest cell maker in Q1

According to the latest numbers released by research firm Gartner, Apple was the seventh-largest cell phone manufacturer in the world by units sold in Q1 2010. Apple held 2.7% share of the worldwide cell phone market in Q1, trailing market leader Nokia, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry-maker RIM, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola. In the worldwide smartphone market segment, Apple held down third place in Q1 based on unit sales by operating system, thanks to gains that gave it a 15.4% share of the market, trailing only Symbian, which lost share year-over-year but still finished with a market-leading 44.3% share, and RIM, which also lost market share year-over-year, finishing with 19.4% market share. These numbers are comparable to similar data released by research firm IDC earlier this month. Directly behind Apple was Android OS, which jumped from 1.6% of sales in Q1 2009 to 9.6% in Q1 2010, displacing Windows Mobile from the fourth spot in the process.

Apple releases iPhone OS 4 beta 4, adds U.S. tethering

Apple has released the fourth beta version of iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone and iPod touch, along with the accompanying SDK. As with prior beta releases, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Mac Rumors notes that the new beta version includes a new configuration page for Internet Tethering, and a special alert for AT&T customers telling them to call AT&T at 611 or visit AT&T’s website to enable tethering on their account, suggesting AT&T may be planning to offer the long-awaited feature with the arrival of iPhone OS 4. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.

Nike+iPod Heart Monitor to launch June 1?

A Nike+iPod compatible heart rate monitor is expected to launch June 1, according to a posting on the Nike+ support forums. A “Nike+ Pro” member claimed, in response to a question regarding a menu item for the Heart Rate Monitor on an iPod, that the device will launch in the U.S. on June 1, “although it may reach some retail outlets slightly sooner.” The post goes on to say that the monitor will reach Canadian markets later in June and will launch internationally this summer. In addition, the poster, who signed the message “Clover,” also said that he/she was “not able to discuss price, color, device compatibility, and other details at this point.” Evidence of such a device was found within a new Nike + iPod User Guide that was posted to Apple’s site last September, but no mention has been made of it since. [via AppleInsider]

Apple replaces ‘Airplane Mode’ prompt in iPhone OS 4

Apple has replaced its prior “This accessory is not made to work with iPhone” prompt with a slightly more descriptive alert in the latest beta version of iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone and iPod touch. The prior prompt asked users if they would like to turn on Airplane Mode to reduce audio interference, noting that they wouldn’t be able to make or receive calls and giving them yes or no options at the bottom. In contrast, the new alert in OS 4 says “This accessory is not optimized for this iPhone,” noting that “[y]ou may experience noise caused by cellular interference and a decrease in cellular signal strength,” with no mention of Airplane Mode and a single “Dismiss” button at the bottom.

Unsealed iPhone 4G warrant reveals felony allegations, more

A San Mateo judge has unsealed legal documents relating to the ongoing investigation into the loss, purchase, and subsequent publication of details regarding a prototype fourth-generation iPhone. Contained within the documents are a number of new details relating to the case, including an affidavit suggesting that Gizmodo editor Jason Chen was suspected of purchasing or receiving stolen Apple property, maliciously damaging the property, and copying an Apple trade secret. All three crimes are considered felony offenses.

According to the affidavit, prototype iPhone finder Brian Hogan learned the identity of the Apple engineer who lost the device the same evening it came into his possession, and recognized that it was, in fact, a more advanced device than any currently available iPhone model. This information came from Hogan’s roommate, who reported the incident to Apple after Hogan connected the device to her own personal computer, believing the company could trace the device back to her. Apple representatives told the authorities that the publication of details relating to the prototype phone was “immensely damaging,” and could hurt sales. The same roommate claims Hogan realized the potential value of the device, and contacted Gizmodo, Engadget, and PC World in an attempt to start a bidding war for the iPhone.

Within 10 days of obtaining the phone, Hogan made contact with Chen, who offered to purchase the device for $10,000—twice the amount Gizmodo parent Gawker Media has claimed it paid. Hogan had reportedly already received between $7,500 and $8,500 for the device at the time the affidavit was filed, with a bonus to be paid if and when Apple publicly unveiled the device. When told of the amount Hogan would receive for the device, the roommate asked why Gizmodo would pay so much for it, to which Hogan allegedly replied, “[t]hey know it’s valuable. They would receive millions and millions of hits.” The roommate also claims that she and others attempted to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, saying it would damage the career of the Apple engineer who lost it, to which Hogan reportedly replied “[s]ucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn’t have lost his phone.”

Notably, the document also contains copies of emails from Gizmodo Editorial Director Brian Lam to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in which Lam attempts to negotiate with Jobs for some benefit to Gizmodo in exchange for returning the phone, and to Apple Senior Vice President Bruce Sewell, the majority of which has already been published, save for an odd remark at the end referring to “spankings.” A complete collection of the documents unsealed today is embedded below.

ITC to investigate Apple’s complaint against Kodak

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced that it will launch an investigation into Apple’s claims of patent infringement against Kodak. According to a news release from the ITC, the investigation will cover products including digital still cameras, digital video cameras, and related software; Apple is seeking both an exclusion order and a cease and desist order. Apple filed its complaint with the ITC alongside a lawsuit in April, stating that the patents Kodak is allegedly infringing “relate generally to advancements and innovations in the fields of image processing, power management, and memory architectures in portable digital devices.” Kodak filed a lawsuit and an ITC complaint, which is also being investigated, against Apple and RIM in January, claiming that the iPhone and some BlackBerry models infringe on a patent covering technology for previewing photos.

Foxconn facing rash of employee suicides

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn recently needed to defend itself against allegations of employee mistreatment following a rash of employee suicides. The Daily News reports that a 24-year-old Foxconn worker named Chu recently threw herself from her rented apartment in Shenzhen, marking the eighth Foxconn employee suicide this year. “We regret to see the recurrence of such incidents,” Foxconn said in statement. According to the article, Foxconn employs roughly 300,000 workers at its Shenzhen complex, where a 24-year-old male worker leaped to his death less than two weeks ago. The company came under fire last year for its employee treatment following the suicide of 25-year-old Sun Danyong, who reportedly lost a prototype iPhone prior to his death. Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.

Apple sued by SoftView over Mobile Safari rendering

Washington-based company SoftView has filed a lawsuit against both Apple and AT&T claiming patent infringement. SoftView claims that the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser infringes upon its patent for “Scalable Display of Internet Content on Mobile Devices,” for which it applied in 2005 and was granted in 2008. The patent’s abstract states, “Mobile devices enabled to support resolution-independent scalable display of Internet (Web) content to allow Web pages to be scaled (zoomed) and panned for better viewing on smaller screen sizes. The mobile devices employ software-based processing of original Web content, including HTML-based content, XML, cascade style sheets, etc. to generate scalable content. The scalable content and/or data derived therefrom are then employed to enable the Web content to be rapidly rendered, zoomed, and panned. Moreover, the rendered displays provide substantially the same or identical layout as the original Web page, enabling users to easily navigate to selected content and features on familiar Web pages.” SoftView is seeking an injunction against Apple as well as damages. [via The Loop]

HTC files patent complaint against Apple with ITC

HTC announced today that it has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), outlining five HTC patents it believes Apple infringes upon with its iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. “As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation that offer consumers the best, most accessible mobile experiences possible,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of North America, HTC Corporation. “We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones.” HTC is requesting that the ITC “halt the importation and sale of the iPhone, iPad and iPod in the United States.”

Update: According to a copy of HTC’s complaint to the ITC obtained by iLounge, the five patents cited by HTC “relate generally to hardware and software used to implement telephone directories within mobile telephone systems,” as well as “power management methods implemented in portable electronic devices.”

Second iPhone 4G prototype appears, A4 inside?

What appears to be a second fourth-generation iPhone prototype has been purchased and disassembled, with pictures posted online. Mac Rumors reports that the submission they received said the unit was purchased by a Vietnamese businessman along with an iPad; the photos were originally posted on a Vietnamese forum. The shots confirm that this particular unit is operational, and is running some sort of firmware diagnostics program. Notably, the unit has no screws on the bottom and is labeled on the back as a 16GB model; it appears otherwise identical to the unit acquired and photographed by Gizmodo last month. The teardown shots also show an Apple-branded processor inside, which Engadget, citing Chipworks, claims is an Apple A4 processor, similar if not identical to the one found in the iPad.

AT&T pushing up upgrade dates ahead of iPhone launch?

AT&T may be in the process of pushing up the upgrade eligibility dates of iPhone users ahead of this summer’s anticipated fourth-generation iPhone launch. MobileCrunch, citing a reader email and other unnamed sources, reports that several users who purchased an iPhone 3GS on launch day last year have had their eligibility dates pushed up to June 21 from November 21, suggesting that Apple plans to release its next iPhone on or before that date. Apple is widely expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone at its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7.

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