According to new data released by Nielsen, the iPhone 3G was the most popular cell phone in the U.S. in 2009. Using data procured from January to October, iPhone 3G users represented four percent of all subscribers, followed closely by the RIM BlackBerry 8300 Series of phones, with 3.7 percent of the market. The Motorola RAZR came in third, with 2.3 percent of the market; only one other phone, the LG enV2, counted for more than two percent. Apple was also among the top ten brands accessed over mobile devices from January to September, coming in tenth; Yahoo!, Google, MSN, AOL, and the Weather Channel make up the top five.
According to new data from online advertising firm Chitika, nearly half of all iPod touch users have yet to upgrade to iPhone OS 3.0, suggesting Apple is having a hard time convincing users that the upgrade is worth the money. A sampling of traffic from Chitika’s advertising network shows that while 95% of iPhone owners, who received the upgrade for free, are running iPhone OS 3.0, while only 55% of iPod touch owners have the newer software installed. As Chitika researcher Daniel Ruby points out, this number becomes even more surprising when one considers that the majority of iPod touch units sold in the last six months came with OS 3.0 pre-installed. Released in July as a $10 upgrade for iPod touch owners, the update offers features such as stereo Bluetooth, Copy & Paste, Spotlight search, In-App Purchases, and Push Notifications, and saw its price cut to $5 in September; Apple is still selling some refurbished iPod touch models with the older software installed.
Vodafone in the U.K. has announced that it will begin selling the iPhone on January 14, 2010. According to the BBC News, tariffs will be available from £30 (roughly $48) for 24 months, while the phones will run from £59 (~$95) for an 8GB iPhone 3G to £239 (~$385) for a 32GB iPhone 3GS. Both business and personal contracts will be subject to a 1GB per month “fair use” data limit, and also include unlimited Wi-Fi use. Tethering will also be offered as an option, starting at £5 (~$8) for 500MB of bandwidth. Vodafone has been working for over a year to prepare its network for the iPhone launch, according to Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone U.K.
AdMob has released its November Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link), showing strong international growth for the iPhone and iPod touch in 2009. 50 percent of the mobile advertising firm’s November requests came from iPhone and iPod touch users, compared to 39 percent in January. Among Apple’s top 10 markets, Japan saw the biggest increase, with user growth topping 300 percent from January to November, followed by France, Australia, China, Germany, and Italy. Overall, the iPhone accounted for 71% of all unique Apple users. Interestingly, 36 percent of iPhone traffic in the U.S. was over Wi-Fi, considerably higher than other Wi-Fi capable devices; by comparison, less than 10 percent of traffic from major Android devices came over Wi-Fi. AdMob’s percentages are based on ad requests, impressions, and clicks, tracked over the more than 15,000 mobile web sites and applications to which the company serves ads.
According to the latest data from research firm ComScore, the iPhone has overtaken Windows Mobile in U.S. smartphone market share for the first time. ComScore conducts monthly surveys of U.S. mobile subscribers over the age of 13, asking them what type of phone they use, and then derives OS market share from those numbers. Based on a three-month average ending in October, the iPhone has over 8.9 million users, compared to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile with over 7.1 million. The previous three-month average from July showed Windows Mobile with 6.65 million users, compared to 6.63 for the iPhone OS. Overall, the data showed Apple behind only BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, which boasts 14.9 million users; ComScore claims there are around 36 million U.S. smartphone users. [via Engadget]
Apple has launched a new iPhone television commercial with a holiday theme. Entitled “12 Apps of Xmas,” the new commercial apes the traditional Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by using apps to show the different gifts received, ending with “an app that can light up the tree.” The entire commercial is available for viewing on Apple’s website.
An ongoing spat between journalist Dan Lyons—posting as his satirical alter-ego “Fake Steve Jobs”—and AT&T has the potential to cause iPhone service outages Friday afternoon. Following a profanity-filled rant (NSFW) in which Lyons compared AT&T to a record company wanting customers to purchase less copies of an album due to high demand, Lyons subsequently proposed “Operation Chokehold,” suggesting that iPhone users flood AT&T’s cellular network with traffic by turning off Wi-Fi and using their 3G connections for data-intensive activities, such as streaming video, for approximately one hour at Noon Pacific Time (3:00PM Eastern Time) on Friday.
Following the “Chokehold” post, AT&T called the scheme “irresponsible and pointless,” adding that “there is nothing amusing about advocating that customers attempt to deliberately degrade service on a network that provides critical communications services for more than 80 million customers.” Lyons’ responded, noting that the company has made over $10 billion in profit over the last nine months, and has seen wireless data revenues soar 80% over the last eight quarters, while dropping its capital expenditures by 30% over the same period. A Facebook group dedicated to “Operation Chokehold” now has over 1,750 fans, and despite a later statement from Lyons claiming that he doesn’t want to “cause any actual harm to my fellow AT&T users,” questions remain as to whether the protest will have any impact on the network on Friday.
Recent reports from iPhone developers indicate that Apple has softened its stance on using private APIs—features not authorized by Apple for third-party developer use—in iPhone applications. One iPhone developer, Vimov, indicated that instead of simply rejecting its application for using private APIs, Apple approved it with a request that the developer resolve the issue in its next update. An unrelated developer, Jonah Grant reported a similar experience with his application. The iPhone SDK Developer Agreement prohibits the use of private APIs, which, unlike public APIs, may include features that Apple could change in future OS updates, and thus does not want third-party developers to use. In the past, applications that made use of private APIs have been rejected by the App Store review process, and Apple has even gone so far as to implement an automated check for the use of private APIs. The change in policy appears to be aimed at increasing approvals while educating developers about reasons for future rejection. Earlier this month Steve Jobs personally intervened to reverse the rejection of the Knocking application, which also made use of a private API. (via AppleInsider and Daring Fireball).
China Unicom reports that it has now sold 100,000 iPhones since the device’s official launch in China in October. The carrier had indicated in early November that it had signed up only 5,000 subscribers in the first weekend of the iPhone launch, and later reports from a major online electronics retailer revealed that only five iPhones had been sold through that particular outlet. However, China Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobing now reports that the carrier has actually sold 100,000 iPhones in the past 40 days, indicating in an interview on Thursday that most reports have been focusing on the contract-free price of the iPhone in China (US$1,033 for the 32GB iPhone 3GS) rather than the subsidized pricing models that are available under various monthly plans, four of which actually offer the iPhone hardware for free under contract. Further, Chang described earlier reports that China Unicom had contracted with Apple to purchase 5 million iPhones over a five-year period as “not entirely accurate” but added that the company is rethinking its marketing strategy and believes it could possibly sell more than that number. The official iPhone sold in China does not include Wi-Fi capabilities due to government regulations, while fully-capable iPhone models have been available for import into China from other countries such as Hong Kong since long before the official iPhone Chinese release. It is commonly believed that these factors have contributed to comparatively slow sales of the official iPhone in China, where mobile phone subscribers are estimated to number more than 720 million.
According to a report from BBC News, British department store Tesco will begin to sell the iPhone in the UK starting on December 14th on a twelve-month contract. The lowest rate plan is expected to be £20 per month (US$32.50), while an 8GB iPhone 3G will sell for £222 (US$360) on a twelve-month contract, the shortest currently available in the UK. Customers willing to sign a 24-month £60 (US$98) per month contract can get the 8GB iPhone 3G or 16GB iPhone 3GS for free. By comparison, O2 sells the base iPhone 3G model for approximately £97 (US$160) for the handset and a lowest rate plan of £30 (US$50) on an 18-month contract, while Orange provides rate plans as low as £30 (US$50) on an 18-month contract with a free iPhone. Vodafone is also expected to begin carrying the iPhone next year but has not announced any pricing details as of yet.
Last night Apple announced the launch of an RSS feed for iPhone Developer news and announcements. The new RSS feed provides information on a range of topics of interest to iPhone developers including tips on submitting apps to the App Store, current turnaround times for app review, developer program updates and development and testing techniques. While targeted at iPhone Developers, the feed is publicly available for anybody who may be interested in following iPhone-related development news from Apple.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian iPhone carrier Telstra quietly enabled iPhone tethering this weekend, allowing iPhone users to now access the Internet from their computers via either USB or Bluetooth. Telstra has offered this feature on its other mobile phones for some time, but insisted that Apple would not permit it to enable tethering on the iPhone. Apple indicated, however, that tethering decisions rest with the carriers themselves, and Australia’s other three cellular phone carriers have been providing tethering access for the iPhone since shortly after the iPhone 3.0 update was released in June. A list of the iPhone carriers around the world which provide tethering capabilities can be found on Apple’s Locating iPhone Wireless Carriers page.
Additionally, reports indicate that the iPhone has had a successful launch in South Korea. Sales of 60,000 units were noted for its first day of availability, representing 15% of the total number of smartphones that were sold in South Korea during the entire third quarter. Even though South Korea provides one of the most advanced sets of mobile products and services in the world, smartphones still only represent 1% of the total mobile market in that country. KT Corporation, the iPhone’s South Korean carrier, hopes that the introduction of the iPhone will improve the popularity of smartphones in that country.
Israel’s three main cellular carriers will begin selling the iPhone this week. Cellcom, Israel’s largest mobile carrier is scheduled to begin selling the iPhone on Wednesday at midnight, while Partner Communications and Pelephone will begin sales on Thursday. Estimates suggest that 80,000 Israelis already have iPhones purchased outside of the country, and unlocked for use on the Israeli cell phone networks. The three Israeli mobile carriers have committed to purchasing 80,000 units each, however analysts expect the actual numbers to be much higher, believing the iPhone could boost average revenue by up to 30 percent. (via Reuters).
This week will see the iPhone released in Guam, and expand to two additional carriers in Singapore. GTA TeleGuam has announced that it will launch the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G in Guam on Friday, December 11th, as it will offer the iPhone with any existing MPULSE wireless subscription plan and a two-year contract. Customers will be able to pre-order the iPhone beginning today either online through the company’s web site or at any of its retail stores.
A separate report in The Wall Street Journal indicates that both MobileOne Ltd. and StarHub Ltd. in Singapore will begin to offer the iPhone 3GS in Singapore starting on Wednesday, December 9th. The larger Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. has been been selling the iPhone in Singapore for some time now.
A Swiss iPhone developer has published research that indicates that security vulnerabilities affecting the iPhone are not limited to jailbroken iPhones. Developer Nicholas Seriot has created a proof of concept app called SpyPhone as a demonstration of how Apple’s own APIs could be misused to read or edit a user’s address book or gain access to a user’s web surfing history or recent location information. For such attacks to succeed, a malicious application would still need to get past Apple’s App Store approval process to be available for non-jailbroken iPhones, however this is not outside of the realm of possibility as such an app would not require the use of any exploits or third-party APIs, and the spyware portion could be hidden by delayed activation or an encrypted payload.
The security researcher detailed these potential iPhone privacy risks in a talk he delivered in Geneva on Wednesday, during which he also outlined possible defense strategies, suggesting that Apple should design the iPhone OS to require users to authorize read or read-write access by iPhone applications to potentially sensitive on-device information such as the Address Book, add firewall functionality to the device and ensure the keyboard cache is not as readily available to third-party applications. (via The Register).
Following last month’s official launch of the iPhone on China Unicom, China’s most popular online retailer is reporting much lower than expected sales of official iPhone units in China. Taobao.com, the largest Chinese e-commerce web site reports that it has sold only two 8GB iPhones and three 16GB iPhones since it began selling them on Nov 22nd. Although China Unicom is also selling the iPhone directly, Taobao is considered to be China’s top online retail site for buyers of electronic devices. To comply with local regulations, iPhones sold by China Unicom do not include Wi-Fi capabilities and sell for a higher price than fully-capable iPhone models that have long been available through unofficial sources: A 32GB iPhone 3GS from China Unicom costs 6,999 yuan (US$1,024) without a contract compared to about US$800 in Hong Kong, making it difficult for official China Unicom iPhone models to compete. (via PC World).
The iPhone finally launched in South Korea over the weekend, with strong demand seen by carrier KT. Apple had seen difficulties in getting the iPhone past the country’s telecommunications regulatory body, receiving preliminary approval in September, followed by final approval earlier this month. According to KT, roughly 65,000 people placed orders for the iPhone since it became available for pre-sale on November 22. We’re hoping that this iPhone will be a trigger point for the smartphone market in Korea,” said Yang Hyun-mi, chief strategy officer at KT. Explaining that smartphones currently make up just one percent of all cell phone sales in South Korea, she added, “we just think it will be really huge.”
Apple has begun field testing a next-generation iPhone model, according to device usage records from an iPhone/iPod touch application. Mac Rumors reports that developer Pandav, who uses PinchMedia to provide analytics for its app iBART, found a device identifying itself as “iPhone3,1” in its usage logs for November. Apple has in the past used the first number to identify a major architecture change between models, with the original iPhone being labeled “iPhone 1,1,” the iPhone 3G appearing as “iPhone 1,2,” and the iPhone 3GS labeled “iPhone 2,1.” Evidence of the new model was found in iPhone OS 3.0 as early as this March; Mac Rumors also notes that Apple began field testing the iPhone 3GS last October, roughly eight months ahead of its launch.
AT&T is now offering refurbished iPhone 3GS units through its online store. Refurbished 16GB models are priced at $149, while 32GB units are selling for $249; both prices are with a two-year contract, and both white and black units are available. In the past, AT&T’s refurbished units have been listed with a notice that they include a warranty of 90 or more and may have “minor scratches.”
Supermarket chain Tesco has announced that it will soon offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in its stores through its Tesco Mobile brand, making it the fourth U.K. carrier to sell the device. BBC News reports that a Tesco spokesperson said the company hopes to offer the phone “in time for Christmas,” which would put its roll out ahead of Vodafone’s, which isn’t expected until early next year. Tesco Mobile is a joint venture between the supermarket firm and O2, and offers phones both on contact and on a pay as you go basis from its stores around the U.K.