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Apple debuts two new iPhone 3GS ads

Apple has started airing two new television ads for the iPhone 3GS. While both commercials feature the same white background as other recent iPhone ads, these new advertisements feature different narration voices, and are more testimonial in nature, telling how the narrator uses the iPhone. In “First Steps,” a mother tells how she recorded her son’s first steps using the iPhone, then sent the video to family members and initiated a three-way call with them to discuss the footage. “On Hold” features a male narrator explaining how he doesn’t mind being on hold since he can use his iPhone in the meantime to check email, pay bills, and purchase and play games. Both of Apple’s new iPhone TV advertisements are available for viewing on Apple’s website.

Find My iPhone now accessible from iPhone, iPod touch

Apple has launched a redesigned version of its Me.com splash page for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding new download links for its MobileMe iDisk and Gallery applications, as well as access to the Find My iPhone feature. Previously, the page contained only one link, providing setup instructions for setting up Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Find my iPhone on an iPhone/iPod touch; the new page retains this link, but adds the others mentioned above. Following the Find My iPhone link prompts the user to enter his or her MobileMe username and password, and then takes them to a frame-less version of the Find My iPhone page, complete with location map and links to send a text and/or audio alert, or remotely lock/wipe the device. An Apple support document suggests accessing the service “from a friend’s iPhone/iPod touch if you need to locate your lost iPhone/iPod on a map, display a message, play a sound, or remotely lock or wipe it.”

ITC to investigate Apple’s claim against Nokia

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has said that it will consider Apple’s patent infringement complaint against Nokia, Bloomberg reports. Apple filed a complaint against Nokia with the ITC last month, seeking to block imports of the Finnish-based company’s phones. The ITC’s announcement is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between the two companies. Nokia first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by an ITC complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers;” the ITC announced an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January.

Adobe CEO blasts Apple’s ‘proprietary’ business model

Speaking in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen criticized Apple for its decision not to support Flash on its iPhone OS devices, according to a Computerworld report. Reiterating stats claiming that 85 percent of the top 100 Web sites in the world use Flash and that it delivers 75 percent of Internet videos, while hailing its “powerful ecosystem” of partners, Narayen said Apple isn’t serving its customers by blocking access to Flash content. “Considering the amount of content on the Web that uses Flash — not allowing your consumers to access that content isn’t showing off the Web in all its glory,” Narayen said. “Apple’s business model is more trying to maintain a proprietary lock.”

The CEO also mentioned Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ statement from March 2008 that the full-blown Flash Player “performs too slow to be useful” on the iPhone, calling for a third version of the software that fell in between the desktop and “Lite” versions of the software. Narayen described Jobs’ statement as “a little bit of a red herring,” before pointing out that the new 10.1 version of the software—which is expected to make its way onto some Android and other smartphones later this year—fills that gap. Earlier this year Jobs made further comments about Flash at a closed company event, calling Adobe lazy, and its Flash player buggy, while predicting that web developers would move away from the software as they focus more on HTML5 development.

Apple bumps iPhone cellular download cap to 20MB

Apple has quietly increased the limit for over-the-air downloads from the App Store and iTunes Store on the iPhone. Until recently only content under 10MB in size could be downloaded over an EDGE or 3G connection—downloading of larger apps and media content had to be done over Wi-Fi. This limit now appears to have been increased to 20MB in both the App Store and iTunes Store on the device, allowing users to download larger applications and video content. The exact reason for this change is not clear, although it could be related to the impending release of the iPad, improvements in carrier bandwidth, or simply a desire to allow users to have anywhere access to larger applications on the App Store.

ITC to review Apple, RIM in Kodak imaging dispute

The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has said it will consider a complaint filed by Kodak last month against Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion claiming that the two handset makers are infringing on Kodak patents related to digital cameras. Specifically, Kodak claims the iPhone and some BlackBerry models infringe on a patent covering technology for previewing photos. The ITC will also decide whether to ban the imports from Apple and RIM after Kodak claimed that the companies refused to pay patent royalties on the technology. Kodak has also filed a civil lawsuit against the two companies in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, seeking unspecified damages.

Google: Apple is a ‘very close and valuable partner’

In spite of increasing competition between the two companies, a Google executive has made positive public comments about its relationship with Apple. Reuters reports that Vic Gundotra, head of mobile engineering for Google, said, “Apple is a very close and valuable partner and we’re very excited about the relationship we have with them today. We have no reason to believe that’s going to change.” Speaking at an industry roundtable discussion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Gundotra was also pressed on the issue of Google’s presence on the iPhone, and responded, We don’t want to comment on those rumors. We think that relationship is stable.” A report from January stated that Apple was in talks with Microsoft to see the latter’s Bing service replace Google as the default search engine on the iPhone; a more recent analyst note said there was a “high” likelihood of the deal becoming a reality. Apple CEO Steve Jobs also took a couple of shots at Google during a recent company meeting, reportedly saying that some “teams at Google want to kill us,” and added that Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra is “a load of crap.”

iPad anticipation driving app development

According to new data from application analysis service Flurry Analytics, the announcement of the iPad has led to a huge spike in iPhone development. Flurry saw over 1,600 new iPhone OS application starts in January, compared to under 600 in December. In addition, this spike in new iPhone OS applications has helped the iPhone gain in percentage of overall application project starts versus Android, which accounted for nearly 30% of new project starts in December, compared to under 20% in January. According to the company, “the recent spike in Apple iPad support has swung the pendulum back in Apple’s favor to a level not seen at Flurry in six months. The unprecedented surge in support for iPad is a positive early indicator for its commercial potential.” Flurry tracks over 20,000 live applications and over 2 billion user sessions each month, across the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and J2ME platforms. Apple is expected to launch its first iPad models in late March.

Report: iPhones average over 250MB of data use per month

According to new research performed for Consumer Reports by bill analysis company Validas, iPhone users account for nearly twice as much data usage as the average non-iPhone smartphone user. The study found that iPhone users consume 273 MB of data per month on average, compared to just 54 MB for BlackBerry users and 150 MB for users of other smartphone platforms. Additionally, 12 percent of iPhone users consume at least 500 MB of data per month, and a third of those users consume more than 1 GB of data. Validas’ data is based on user-submitted electronic bills from nearly 14,000 individual consumer wireless cell phone lines, including 757 iPhone and 783 BlackBarry lines. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple bans iPhone hackers for ‘security reasons’

Apple has reportedly banned the Apple IDs of two known iPhone hackers from the App Store for “security reasons.” One hacker, known as “Sherif,” posted an update to his Twitter account notifying his followers that Apple had banned his ID. “‘Your Apple ID was banned for security reasons,’ that’s what i [sic] get when i try to go to the app store, they must be really angry,” the hacker wrote. Another hacker, known as “iH8sn0w” and developer of the XEMN hacking tool, posted a response to Sherif’s update, claiming that he, too, had been locked out of his account. In November 2009, Apple posted a new job listing for an iPhone OS Platform Security Manager, suggesting the company was looking to further secure its mobile OS from jailbreaking and other unauthorized modifications. [via Cult of Mac]

Analyst: ‘high’ likelihood of Bing/Apple iPhone search deal

There is a “high” likelihood of Microsoft winning an iPhone search deal with Apple, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing a note from Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal, the report states that Aggarwal met with Microsoft executive on February 10, and although the employees present at the meeting “did not confirm or deny any chatters on the likelihood of Microsoft wining Apple search deal for iPhone,” the executives did say that “for right economics” Microsoft would very much like to win the contract to become the default Internet search engine on the iPhone. BusinessWeek reported that the two companies were in negotiations over the possible deal earlier this year; a later report from Silicon Alley Insider indicated that Google may be paying Apple as much as $100 million per year to keep its place as the default search engine on the iPhone.

Vodafone UK announces SIM-only plans, iPhone included

Vodafone UK has announced a new range of SIM-only plans, including several appropriate for iPhone users. In an update to the company’s official Twitter account, a representative said the new plans are “great for iPhone users switching networks.” The plan mentioned in the Twitter update is a £25/month (roughly $40), 12-month contract plan that includes 900 anytime minutes, unlimited inclusive texts, 1GB of web usage, and unlimited BT Premium Openzone Wi-Fi hotspot usage; several other configurations are available. In addition, the company is also offering 30-day SIM-only plans for £25-£30, which include slightly less minutes and or mobile data use than the comparable plans offered on a one-year contract basis. [via Macworld UK]

Total Access to offer iPhone in Thailand

Total Access Communication (TAC), the second-largest mobile firm in Thailand, is preparing to offer the iPhone in the Thai market. Citing an industry source, Reuters reports that the Telnor-controlled TAC will be the second provider to offer the iPhone in region, following smaller rival True Move PCL, which began selling the iPhone in Thailand in January 2009. “[TAC] have prepared some work on websites and it should be for sale within one month from now,” the source said. Current carrier True has said it sold roughly 100,000 iPhone in 2009 with expectations to sell another 120,000 in 2010; TAC’s larger rival Advanced Info Service said it was still investigating ways to offer the iPhone in the Thai market after failing to reach a deal with Apple.

Report: Google pays Apple $100M/year for iPhone search

Google pays Apple more than $100 million annually for its position as the default Internet search engine on the iPhone, according to a new report. Citing a source familiar with Apple’s operations, Silicon Alley Insider reports that Apple receives more than $100 million a year from Google as part of a revenue sharing deal, but that recent deals between the two companies have become increasingly contentious. According to the source, the original deal between the two companies for Google Maps on the iPhone was reached in just two weeks, while a similar deal for the iPhone 3G, negotiated just a year later, was a six-month negotiation “full of acrimony” as Google wanted access to data generated by Maps users, which Apple did not want to give up. A report from last month indicated that Apple was in talks with Microsoft over the possibility of the latter’s Bing service replacing Google as the default search engine on the iPhone.

Apple flipping Mac.com iPhone RSS service to Me.com? (Updated)

A temporary change to the way in which the iPod touch and iPhone Safari browser handles direct RSS feed links caused a one-day outage, but was resolved following publication of the original version of this news article. Since the launch of the first iPhone, clicking on a direct RSS link in the mobile version of Safari would take a user to a specific mac.com URL—reader.mac.com—where the feed would be parsed and displayed. During the outage, clicking on a direct RSS link instead directed users to a me.com URL, which went through several redirects before displaying a page with information about Apple’s MobileMe service and a link to setup instructions. As Apple has shifted much of its former .Mac online service to become MobileMe, including e-mail and web addresses, it appears that Apple plans to migrate the RSS reader service over to a me.com domain.

Updated: This article originally noted that Apple appeared to have ceased support for its Mac.com-based RSS feed reader for the MobileSafari browser of the iPhone and iPod touch, based on a reader report. Following the publication of this article, the Mac.com-based RSS feed reader for iPhone and iPod touch began functioning properly, suggesting the feature was hit by a temporary outage and not completely removed.

Adobe sees 7M Flash requests from iPhone, iPod touch in Dec.

Adobe has revealed there were more than 7 million attempts by iPhone and iPod touch users to download Flash from Adobe.com in December. Discussing the matter with the San Francisco Chronicle, Adobe claimed that the stat clearly shows demand for Flash from iPhone and iPod touch users, despite Apple’s decision not to support the technology. For comparison, Adobe said the number of iPhone and iPod touch Flash download attempts was only 3 million in June 2009. It is unclear whether the number counts multiple attempts by the same user, although it seems likely given the wording of their statement.

Opera to show Mini browser for iPhone

Norwegian browser company Opera Software has announced plans to show off a version of its Mini browser for the iPhone and iPod touch next week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, according to a Reuters report. The company claims the browser will offer download speeds up to six times faster than the built-in MobileSafari browser, and could cut data traffic by up to 90 percent. Opera also said it saw no reason why its browser should be rejected by Apple. “We have not submitted it yet to the Apple App Store. However, we hope that Apple will not deny their users a choice in Web browsing experience,” said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder of Opera. Apple in January began allowing some third-party browsers into the App Store, but those that have been approved thus far use WebKit, the same built-in browser engine that powers Safari, and not a third-party solution.

ComScore: iPhone holds quarter of U.S. smartphone market

According to new data released by comScore, the iPhone accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. smartphone market. As of December 2009, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion led U.S. smartphone platforms, with a 41.6% share—down from 42.6% in September 2009—while Apple ranked second with 25.3% of the market, up 1.2% percent from September. Microsoft came in third, with 18% of the market, down 1% from September, followed by Palm, which accounted for 6.6% of the market, down from 8.3% in the previous report, and Google, which placed fifth with a 5.2% share, up 2.7% from September. The report ranked smartphone operating system platforms in the U.S. according to their share of current mobile subscribers age 13 and older.

Apple seeking App Store feedback from developers

Apple has begun sending out a survey to iPhone developers asking for their thoughts on the iPhone Developer Program and App Store experience. TechCrunch reports that while the lengthy survey covers a wide range of topics, the majority of questions revolve around the application review process and the developers’ overall happiness with the program. According to the report, the survey asks developers to rate their level of satisfaction with various aspects of the App submission process, app review process, and the “length of time it takes to get updates available on the App Store,” with options ranging from “Very dissatisfied” to “Very satisfied.” Another open-ended question asks “What one thing could Apple do to make the iPhone Developer Program better?”

IDC: iPhone market share growth continued in 2009

According to new research released by IDC, the iPhone outpaced overall smartphone market growth in both the fourth quarter and on a yearly basis in 2009. The report states that Apple’s market share grew from 11.2% in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 16% in Q4 2009, placing the company behind rivals Research in Motion and Nokia, which held market shares of 19.6% and 38.2%, respectively. Fourth quarter iPhone shipments grew 97.7% year-over-year, a much greater increase than overall market shipments, which were up 39% from the prior year. For the whole of 2009, Apple’s iPhone shipments grew 81.9%, again outpacing overall industry unit growth of 15.1%. Apple’s market share for the year grew from 9.1% in 2008 to 14.4% in 2009, again placing the company in third behind RIM and Nokia. [via Mac Rumors]

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