Following a report from earlier this week indicating that Apple and China Mobile had broken off talks over the iPhone due to a disagreement over control of the App Store, a new report states that rival carrier China Unicom is now in talks to bring the handset to mainland China. “Yes, we are in talks with Apple Inc.,” a Unicom manager told China Business News. China Unicom plans to rollout a new WCDMA network on May 17, but it is unclear whether a deal between the two companies could be completed in time. “China Unicom has held several rounds of negotiations with Apple Inc.,” said an anonymous source within the company, “but there are still many obstacles ahead.” According to the report, the companies have yet to come to an agreement on what apps may come pre-installed on the device, and are also facing difficulties due to regulatory issues and disagreement on policy restrictions and business model differences. [via MDN]
Google today launched a beta version of its Google Sync service for the iPhone and iPod touch. Google Sync is a two-way push synchronization service that works with Gmail contacts and Google Calendars, allowing users to update information from either their iPhone or iPod touch, using the built-in Calendar and Contacts applications, or from any traditional computer, using the web browser. The new Sync service uses the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, and Google warns that enabling the Sync service will automatically delete any existing contacts and calendar information from the device. For more information on Google Sync or to set up the service on a device, visit m.google.com/sync.
The latest round of negotiations between Apple and China Mobile have broken down due to a disagreement over control of the App Store, a new report indicates. Interfax TMT China, citing a source at the China Mobile Research Institute, states that China Mobile president Wang Jianzhou outlined the turbulent negotiations on a recent visit to the Institute. The negotiations are said to have gone through three distinct rounds, spanning 18 months and involving both Apple CEO Steve Jobs and COO Tim Cook. Jianzhou reportedly claimed that initial negotiations broke down due to Apple’s insistence on revenue sharing, while the second round of talks failed after Apple offered to sell iPhones to the carrier for $600 and required that China Mobile subsidize iPhone service bundles.
The third, and reportedly final, round of negotiations is said to ended over Apple’s insistence that it, rather than China Mobile, sell applications for the device directly to customers via the App Store. Jianzhou saw the offer as possibly detrimental to China Mobile’s dominance of the country’s mobile Internet industry. “Wang said China Mobile should operate the application store itself in order to maintain its advantage,” the Institute source said, noting that Chinese customers have preferred to make purchases through deposits in their mobile phone accounts rather than through the credit cards required by the App Store. Apple currently sells an unlocked model of the iPhone 3G in Hong Kong, directly from its own website.
Orange Austria has now matched (Translated Link) T-Mobile’s lowered pricing on the 8GB iPhone 3G. Like T-Mobile, Orange is now offering the 8GB model for just €1 when purchased with a €35/month tariff and €14 a month “iPhone Pack,” which includes 3GB of data and 100 SMS texts. T-Mobile first dropped its pricing on the smaller-capacity model last month; curiously, both promotions are slated to end on February 14. It is unclear whether the price drops are a result of slower than expected demand, or indicative of an upcoming change to the iPhone 3G lineup. Apple bumped the maximum capacity of the original iPhone from 8GB to 16GB in February 2008.
Google has launched a mobile version of its Google Book Search service. The new iPhone- and iPod touch-friendly interface gives users access to over 1.5 million public domain books directly from their device. The books have been optimized to be read on a small screen, and are available for free. To access Google Book Search mobile, simply visit books.google.com/m from your iPhone or iPod touch.
France Telecom’s Orange brand has failed to regain its iPhone exclusivity in France after the Paris Appeal Court confirmed a French Competition Council ruling that the exclusivity agreement with Apple was to be suspended. The Competition Council previously said that the five-year deal was “clearly excessive” and that it risked “serious and immediate damage to competition on the mobile market and to consumers.” France Telecom, which has argued the watchdog had “put the market economy into question”, told Reuters it was “surprised” at the failure of its appeal and will now appeal to France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation.
Apple has been sued four times over the last two weeks over poor 3G performance. Complaints filed in Florida, New Jersey, and Texas all claim that the iPhone 3G suffers from both 3G performance issues that result in dropped network connections and hairline cracks in its casing, while a separate case in California omits the cracking issue, focusing solely on 3G problems. Interestingly, the California suit is the only one which does not name U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T as well as Apple. All four lawsuits allege that Apple knowingly marketed the phone without disclosing the performance issues and seek damages, while the Florida and New Jersey suits seek to stop the companies from continuing “false and misleading advertising,” the California suit seeks the return of all profits Apple received plus interest, and the Texas suit seeks for the return of all profits gained by “misleading” advertising as well as a disclaimer to be put on the product’s packaging.
The four suits represent the latest entries in an ongoing string of legal battles between AT&T and Apple and iPhone 3G owners, many of which have made claims similar to those found in these complaints. Testing of the iPhone 3G showed the handset to be “completely normal” in terms of its ability to receive 3G signals, however, network speeds and reliability have varied dramatically from location to location in other tests, with AT&T network differences apparently to blame. Apple has previously contended that “no reasonable person” would have taken the company’s “twice as fast for half the price” slogan at face value.
Updated: A request for reader comments on iPhone 3G lawsuits, service, and warranty issues has been posted.
The iPhone 3G will launch in the United Arab Emirates on February 15, according to an Emirates Business 24/7 report. Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat announced in a local newspaper that it would be brining the iPhone to the region this month; the launch date was later confirmed by Mark Davis, Program Director for iPhone at Etisalat. Davis went on to explain that iPhone users who have already obtained an unlocked handset through third-party channels will also be welcome to use Etisalat’s service. Etisalat has reportedly been working on the project for two years and finally signed an agreement with Apple at the end of 2008. “It is a long process to get approved by Apple as they only want one operator in every country. We passed the test mainly because of our market capitalisation, retail presence and deep pockets and the demographics.” Curiously, the report also states that the next version of the iPhone is “due out in June,” and while it doesn’t attribute this information directly to Davis, there is a strong possibility the date came from him, as his interview serves as the basis for the story.
Update: Feb. 20, 2009 Etisalat’s Mobily brand will offer the iPhone 3G in Saudi Arabia, and is now allowing customers to reserve a handset through its website. Plans and pricing have yet to be announced.
Update: February 23, 2009 Etisalat has launched the iPhone 3G in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia through its Mobily brand. In the UAE, the 8GB model will be offered for free with the most expensive, 643 AED (roughly $175) monthly plan, which includes 500 minutes of talk time, 300 SMS texts, and 2000 MB of data. Handset pricing increases with lesser plans, from 560 AED (~$152) with a 504 AED (~$137) monthly plan, to 840 AED (~$229) with a 349 AED (~$95) monthly plan, and finally to 2,646 AED (~$720) with a 199 AED (~$54) monthly plan. The 16GB model is priced similarly, with prices ranging from 375 AED (~$102) with the most expensive plan to 3,090 AED (~$841) with the least expensive.
Pricing in Saudi Arabia is less dependent on plans, with the 16GB model priced at 2,650 SRI (~$707) and the 8GB at 2,255 SRI (~$602) with a 99 SRI ($26) monthly plan. The iPhone 3G will also be available for prepaid customers, selling for 2,800 SRI (~$748) for the 16GB model and 2,400 SRI (~$640) for the 8GB.
A large number of iPhone users are reporting on Apple’s discussion boards that iTunes crashes upon trying to sync after installation of Software 2.2.1. Interestingly, the crashes do not appear isolated to the iPhone, as some users have reported that iTunes will crash when trying to sync an iPod as well; others have said that the failed syncs have left them with corrupted audio files on the iPhone. Some users have suggested the problem lies with Apple’s DRM, as they have been able to successfully sync all non-DRM’d content. In addition, at least two iPhone users reported being able to sync after downloading application updates through iTunes, however, it is unknown whether this workaround will work for all affected users.
Apple is collaborating with Adobe in an effort to bring Flash to the iPhone, according to a statement made by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen at the recent World Economic Forum. “It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,” Narayen said. “The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously said Adobe needed to create a third version of Flash, as he deemed the full Flash player “too slow” on the iPhone, but the Lite version too stripped-down. It is unclear from Narayen’s statement exactly how Apple might be helping the company in this process, or how exactly the software will work once completed.
O’Reilly Media has released iPhone SDK Application Development by Johnathan Zdziarski, the publisher’s latest book on iPhone development. The book explains how to design user interface elements with Interface Builder and the UI Kit framework, create application controls, build and manage layers and transformations using Core Graphics and Quartz Core, mix and play sound files, handle network programming, use Core Location, and more. Designed to benefit both beginner and experienced developers, iPhone SDK Application Development is available now for $35 in print, or $28 in PDF format.
Evidence of a next-generation iPhone model has been found in the latest version of the iPhone’s firmware. Mac Rumors notes that a string in the USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file contains information for a device labeled “iPhone2,1,” while the original iPhone carried the designation “iPhone 1,1” and the iPhone 3G was labeled “iPhone 1,2.” For comparison, the first-generation iPod touch was labeled “iPod 1,1” while the second-generation model is labeled “iPod 2,1” due to its significant hardware differences such as volume buttons, an internal speaker, and integrated Nike+iPod support. The existence of a next-generation iPhone is further supported by the appearance of a device labeled “iPhone 2,1” appearing in a developer’s PinchMedia ad serving reports, suggesting that Apple is currently testing the device for a near-term release.
Thanks to an overwhelming response from the iPod and iPhone community, the Consumer Electronics Association and iLounge are pleased to announce a dramatic expansion of the iLounge Pavilion at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). According to CEA, the original space allocated for the Pavilion was completely sold within three days after the announcement, leading to a substantial waiting list. In order to accommodate continued interest from iPod, iPhone, and even Mac vendors, CEA has quadrupled the pavilion’s size, creating a massive presence for Apple accessory, software, and service providers on the 2010 CES show floor. Vendors interested in exhibiting at the 2010 International CES should contact Tira Gordon ([email protected]) immediately for additional information.
Update: CEA has issued its official press release announcing the record-breaking response and pavilion expansion.
Apple has released its iPhone SDK for iPhone OS 2.2.1. Weighing in at 1.75 GB and listed as build 9M2621a, the new SDK requires Mac OS X 10.5.5, and includes new, optional GCC and LLVM compilers, an updated project assistant, a simpliﬁed toolbar, and additional security enhancements. The iPhone SDK for iPhone OS 2.2.1 is available now to registered iPhone developers via Apple’s iPhone Dev Center.
Apple has released its iPhone Software 2.2.1 Update for the iPhone, iPhone 3G, first-, and second-generation iPod touch. According to Apple, the iPhone update offers “bug fixes and improvements,” including improved stability for Safari, and a fix for an issue where some images saved from Mail didn’t display correctly in the Camera Roll. The iPod touch update also fixes an issue that caused some Apple Lossless files to skip during playback. iPhone Software 2.2.1 is available now through the Update feature in iTunes.
Apple has posted two new iPhone 3G television ads online. Both new ads, “Read” and “Fix,” repeat the phrase “There’s an app for that” while highlighting various third-party iPhone applications. “Read” highlights restaurant resource and review app Yelp, medical imaging app OsiriX, and the book reading app Classics, while “Fix” focuses on taxi-finding app Rocket Taxi, tip calculator Tipulator, and the accelerometer-based leveling tool MultiLevel. Both commercials are available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Update: Apple has posted a third iPhone 3G ad, “Check.” Similar in format to “Read” and “Fix,” “Check” features the ski and snowboard condition app SnowReports, the nutritional and diet helper app Lose It!, and the car park reminder app G-Park. It too is available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has been awarded a United States patent covering the iPhone and its multi-touch interface. Patent no. 7,479,949, titled “Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics,” details nearly every aspect of the iPhone’s graphical user interface across its 350+ pages. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is listed prominently among the patent’s inventors; the patent also gives Apple extra leverage in fighting off companies which copy iPhone features, as COO Tim Cook alluded to in last week’s Q1 2009 Conference Call. Given the breadth of the patent, however, it’s unclear how successful Apple will be in protecting specific aspects of the iPhone interface; the patent does not necessarily cover every single element disclosed therein.
During the company’s Q1 2009 Conference Call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO Tim Cook made several comments during the call relating to the company’s iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV businesses. According to Oppenheimer, customers love the sleek design and colors of the fourth-generation iPod nano. He also said the feature set and App Store have helped iPod touch establish as gaming, entertainment, and communications platform. According to the latest data from the NPD Group, iPod MP3 player marketshare is over 70% in the U.S., and gained in international markets as well, with marketshare of over 70% in the U.K. and Australia, over 60% in Japan, and over 50% in Canada.
The December quarter was the biggest ever for the iTunes Store, including the highest sales ever for Christmas day and week. Although the company had already reached its goal of selling 10 million iPhones in calendar 2008, Oppenheimer reiterated the fact, with Q1 sales pushing the total up to 13.7 million units. The phone was selling in over 70 countries by the end of the quarter, and recorded iPhone revenue was $1.25 billion for the quarter, compared with just $241 million in Q1 2008. Finally, the executives revealed that Apple TV unit sales were up almost 3x from the year-ago quarter, although the company still considers the product a hobby.
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Working together on behalf of the iPod and iPhone community, iLounge and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) today announced the historic official launch of the iLounge Pavilion, the first unified pavilion area for iPod and iPhone products to be offered at an International Consumer Electronics Show. Debuting at the 2010 CES, this pavilion will for the first time give iPod and iPhone vendors their own dedicated, prominent stage at the world’s largest trade show for consumer technology.
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T-Mobile Austria has reduced its pricing (Translated link) on the 8GB iPhone 3G, a possible hint at changes in store elsewhere for the basic model handset. The 8GB model is now priced at €1 when purchased with the €45/month supreme tariff, compared to €99 before the drop. In addition, the carrier is offering the first month at no fee, and an online ordering bonus of €45. This is the first carrier to offer a discount from its original pricing on the iPhone 3G; it is unclear whether other iPhone carriers plan to drop their prices on the smaller-capacity model as well. Apple bumped the maximum capacity of the original iPhone from 8GB to 16GB in February 2008.