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China Mobile not in talks over iPhone, still interested

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator, has indicated that although it has yet to officially enter into talks with Apple over becoming the iPhone’s carrier in China, it is still interested in the handset. “We have not yet officially begun talks with Apple over the iPhone problem,” said China Mobile Chief Executive Wang Jianzhou. “As long as our customers want this kind of product, we will keep all options open.” Previously rumored to be in talks with Apple over the iPhone, the company most recently said that 400,000 unlocked iPhones were operating on its cellular network by the end of 2007. Jianzhou has previously stated that he dislikes the revenue-sharing business model that Apple has used with other iPhone carriers, stating, “we still think we can maintain the operator-centric model because we have the customers, the end users.” China Mobile currently has 350 million wireless subscribers.

iPhone now fourth-largest browsing platform

The iPhone has become the world’s fourth-largest online browsing platform, according to the latest operating system numbers from Net Applications. For February 2008, the various versions of Windows held nearly 92% market share, followed by the Mac with ~7.5%, Linux with 0.65%, and iPhone, with 0.14% — up 0.01% from January. When broken down further, the iPhone still remains in the top ten, following six different versions of Windows, both Power-PC and Intel-based Macs, and Linux, but ahead of competitors such as Windows Mobile, Symbian Series 60, and Hiptop, better known as the T-Mobile Sidekick. Interestingly, the iPod touch retained its 0.04% share of the market, but now lies just 0.02% behind Windows Mobile, and when combined with the iPhone, the “mobile OS X” platform holds 0.18% share of the market. Net Applications’ data comes from the browsers of “site visitors to its on-demand network of live stats customers,” and is compiled from “approximately 160 million visitors per month.”

O2 Ireland CEO speaks about iPhone launch

Following yesterday’s announcement that the iPhone will launch on O2 in Ireland on March 14, O2 Ireland CEO Danuta Gray has spoken about the value of the device, given the €1209 cost including the minimum 18-month tariff plan. “You can’t compare it with other products,” said Gray in an interview with the Independent. “Comparing it with a standard handset is just not like-for-like. I have music on it, videos on it, DVDs, photo albums, camera. To me it’s just an amazing device and I think the type of price here compared with this type of functionality is where the value should be judged.” Despite the price, and the mixed response the device has seen in other European countries, O2 is confident that it will see a strong response on launch day. “I’d say your Apple freaks will be queuing out the door when we launch,” Gray said. “I think people are familiar with what the product is but I think there’s an excitement that they can now get it in Ireland.”

iPhone leads in corporate smartphone satisfaction

The iPhone is second in planned corporate smartphone buying, and first in corporate smartphone satisfaction, according to the latest research from ChangeWave. A February 11-15 corporate survey of people involved with IT spending decisions showed that despite its 5% share of the corporate market, the iPhone ranked first in corporate smartphone satisfaction, with 59% of Apple’s business customers saying their company was very satisfied with the iPhone. Blackberry maker Research In Motion came in second with 49%, a drop of 8% from the previous survey. RIM was the dominant leader in planned corporate smartphone purchases, however, with 77% of companies planning to purchase a smartphone in the next quarter saying it would come from RIM. Apple’s iPhone came in second in this category, with 11%, down 3% from its previous high. In its invitation to next week’s iPhone software roadmap event, Apple said it would show some “exciting new enterprise features” for the handset, which may boost its attraction in the corporate market.

O2: iPhone its ‘fastest selling’ device ever in UK

Reporting its fourth quarter financial results, O2 has said that the iPhone is the fastest selling device it’s ever had in the UK. “In the UK, we outperformed the market again, posting like for like revenue growth of 9.5% for the year, above the top end of our guidance range,” said Matthew Key, CEO of Telefonica Europe. “The UK added 483,000 net customers in the quarter including 276,000 on contract, the highest number ever, helped by sales of the iPhone, the fastest selling device that we have ever had in the UK.” The iPhone launched in the UK on November 9, 2007; the company this morning revealed that it will begin offering the iPhone in Ireland on March 14.

Apple joins world’s top 10 cellular manufacturers in Q4 2007

Apple was amongst the world’s top ten cell phone manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to new research from Gartner. For the first time, worldwide sales of mobile phones surpassed 1 billion units, with growth of 16 percent driving sales of 1.15 billion units in 2007, compared to 990.9 million in 2006. The fourth quarter of 2007 saw three new entrants to the top ten: Research In Motion, ZTE, and Apple. Apple placed tenth in the rankings, grabbing 0.6 percent of the market despite the iPhone being available in only four markets. “On one hand, we have aggressive pricing and a focus on emerging markets (ZTE), and on the other, RIM with targeted functions and Apple with brand and design,” said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner. RIM ended up in sixth, with 1.2 percent share, while Nokia, number one with 40.4 percent share, continued to dominate globally. “Phone manufacturers need to continuously adapt their portfolios to respond to operators’ demands for open platforms, lower pricing and more personalization,” added Milanesi. “They should also try to meet consumers’ desires for fashionable, easy-to-use phones.”

UBS: Infineon chip to power 3G iPhone, coming mid-year

In a resent research note, UBS analysts told clients that German chipmaker Infineon Technologies AG will likely provide new chips for Apple’s upcoming 3G iPhone. The group said that this isn’t yet the consensus view, and it also believes 3G-enabled iPhones will be released by mid-year. It added that the current EDGE iPhone platform is being ramped down earlier than expected to “clean” inventories. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has previously said that a 3G-capable iPhone model will be released this year.

O2 and Apple to launch iPhone in Ireland on March 14 [updated]

O2 has confirmed that the company will carry the iPhone in Ireland, with a launch date set for March 14. The launch was confirmed in an account of likely performance indicators for O2’s fourth financial quarter; a website touting the device’s launch is now online. As in the UK, the iPhone will be available through O2 retail stores and through Carphone Warehouse. Pricing is similar to other European countries, as the 8GB model will sell for €399, while the 16GB model will run €499. Tariffs will begin at €45 a month. This news follows a report from yesterday, which found support for O2 Ireland in the latest iPhone software. [via Macworld UK]

Update: According to O2’s web site, none of the available tariffs include unlimited data, instead capping usage at a 1GB a month, and Visual Voicemail “is not currently supported.”

Apple to hold iPhone SDK event March 6

Apple has sent out notices to select media outlets inviting them to a special “iPhone Software Roadmap” event to be held on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA on March 6. The invitation reads: “Please join us to learn about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new enterprise features.” The graphic in the email features a map, with signs labeled “Enterprise,” “SDK” and “Software Update.” It is unclear whether the SDK will be released at the event, and what enterprise announcements the company might have planned, although an Apple job posting from late last year did suggest that the company was working on support for Microsoft Exchange email on the iPhone.

Britannica offers online encyclopedia for iPhone

Britannica has launched its Britannica Mobile iPhone Edition online encyclopedia for the iPhone. The web application features “tens of thousands of articles” covering all subjects, accessible through an iPhone- and iPod touch-friendly interface. It also offers full-text searching, thousands of high-resolution thumbnails that expand to full-size images, and page layouts optimized for cell phone bandwidth. “People today want information wherever they go,” said Dan Smith, senior vice president at Encyclopaedia Britannica. “They want to satisfy their curiosity the moment it’s aroused, whether they’re on a train, in a restaurant talking to friends, or watching a sunset on the beach. Now we can get answers to them in ways that weren’t possible before.” Britannica Mobile iPhone Edition can be accessed by visiting i.eb.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.

Bundles for T-Mobile Austria, O2 Ireland found in 1.1.4 firmware

New carrier bundles found inside iPhone software 1.1.4 suggest that O2 will be the device’s carrier in Ireland, and provide confrmation of support for T-Mobile Austria. Macity, which previously found evidence of Italian carrier TIM in iPhone software 1.1.3, reports that new bundles [Translated Link], named “O2_ie.bundle” and “TMobile_at.bundle” are present in the Carrier Bundles folder of the new software. Earlier this month, T-Mobile chief executive Hamid Akhavan said that the company would begin offering the iPhone in Austria in the first half of 2008, making the discovery of its bundle more of a confirmation than a revelation; we’ve previously heard little about a potential carrier for the device in Ireland. Macity suggests that the appearance of these bundles, coupled with Akhavan’s statement that the iPhone would arrive in Austria in the first half of this year, might mean a similar roll-out schedule for the device in Italy and Ireland.

Apple releases software 1.1.4 for iPhone and iPod touch

Apple has released software version 1.1.4 for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to Apple, the update “includes bug fixes and supersedes all previous versions.” It is currently unclear whether any new features have been added with the update; however, with Apple scheduled to release the iPhone and iPod touch software development kit (SDK) this week, it is possible that this update could be a precursor to that release. iPhone and iPod touch software version 1.1.4 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.

iPhone SDK to be delayed?

According to a new report, Apple’s release of the Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch will be delayed. Citing an unnamed source, BusinessWeek reports that the SDK, scheduled for release by the end of February, will be delayed anywhere “from one to three weeks.” The report also notes that the situation is “fluid,” and that “a lot of last-minute decisions are close to being made about what precisely will or will not be disclosed” this week. After months of anticipation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs in October announced the company’s intentions to release the SDK, which allows third-party developers to write native applications for the devices, in February.

iPhone hack enables LoJack-like tracking

A new iPhone program, developed by Erica Sadun, offers LoJack-like tracking of the device via Twitter. The installation steps required for the program to function are somewhat advanced, and require a jailbroken iPhone and a Twitter account. Basically, the program uses the iPhone’s Maps program to triangulate its position, and then turns these coordinates into a Google Maps URL, which is then processed by tinyURL, and posted in a Twitter message. The program itself is now available as a free download.

BBC: iPlayer coming to iPhone, iPod touch

The BBC has announced that its iPlayer service will soon be available on the iPhone and iPod touch. The Guardian reports that the BBC said that iPhone and iPod touch owners would be able to access iPlayer content “within the next few weeks,” which will the first time the service has been available beyond PC and Mac computers. It is unknown whether access will handled via a web application, or if viewing will be made possible through an installable application, which would be available following the release of the iPhone/iPod touch SDK.

AT&T announces $99.99 unlimited calling plan

In response to recent announcements of similar plans by rival carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint, AT&T has announced that it will offer unlimited mobile calls for a flat rate of $99.99 per month. According to a Reuters report, AT&T said that the plan would be available starting February 22, and that existing customers could switch to the new plan without having to extend their service contract. iPhone users interested in the unlimited plan will still be required to carry an appropriate data package.

China Mobile: 400K iPhones in use by end of 2007

According to China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in China, roughly 400,000 unlocked iPhones were operating on its cellular network by the end of 2007. Previously, it had been rumored that China Mobile would be the iPhone’s carrier in the country, but a January report suggested that Apple and the carrier had broken off negotiations; Apple dismissed the “negotiations” as a single, limited meeting. Compared against Apple’s sales figures, In-Stat reports, the 400,000 iPhones represent one out of every 10 iPhones shipped globally by the company. The report goes on to state that an estimated 20% of handsets sold in China during 2007 cost more than 4,000 RMB (around $533), indicating that there are as many as 28 million potential iPhone customers in the country.

Apple reaching out to iPhone/iPod touch hackers? [updated]

An update posted to Tiny Code, a web site that has previously aided developers and users of unauthorized Jailbroken applications for the iPod touch and iPhone, suggests that Apple is reaching out to unofficial third-party developers in preparation for the upcoming official iPhone/iPod touch SDK. The posting reads: “We can’t say much, but we are working with Apple and with their SDK for the next firmware release and SDK applications and we shouldn’t be missed for long. We will no longer update our Installer.app repo for legality reasons and you should see us soon on iTunes.” A separate update on the site’s sidebar says that the group is “now targeting fw [firmware] 1.1.4 Alpha 2,” implying that a firmware upgrade may accompany the SDK release. [via Mac Rumors]

Updated: Tiny Code Developer Kelly has come forward to say that the previous post was a lie, and that Tiny Code was never in contact with Apple. In a forum posting, Kelly said, “It’s finally time I just come out and say it; I lied. Tiny-Code never had any relations with Apple, Inc. or any other division of Apple. Never had the new firmware or any pre-SDK pack. Certainly never signed any NDA.”

iPhone grey market flourishing

The grey market for unlocked iPhones is flourishing, according to a BusinessWeek report. The report, which suggests that between 800,000 and million iPhones are unlocked, says that the bulk of the unlocking seems to be occurring in countries where the phone has yet to be introduced. This in some ways lessens the financial impact felt by the Apple and its carrier partners — partners which stand to lose hundreds of dollars in monthly fees per device due to unlocking, but have up to this point done little to interfere with the market for unlocked iPhones. Some foreign carriers have even contacted unlocking sources such as PDA Cable, owned by Nathan Walberg, in order to offer the iPhone while bypassing Apple’s revenue sharing model. “I don’t know if [these carriers] can legally encourage unlocking, but they’re not going to discourage it,” says Walberg. “This market will go on forever, because I don’t think there’s a way for Apple to stop us.”

Vodafone CEO calls for fewer mobile OS platforms

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin has called for consolidation of mobile operating systems, and a renewed focus on user experience. “The first imperative for us is world-class user experience,” Sarin said. “The easier the interface, the more you use it and the more you get onto the Internet.” Sarin explained that mobile operating systems are crucial components of that experience, but that there are currently too many on the market — as many as 30 or 40, he estimated. “We have to reduce that number. There’s no way that developers of cool applications can develop for that many operating systems. If we had three, four, five, that would be better,” he said. Sarin went on to praise the iPhone for its user experience, saying, “Apple has raised the bar with the iPhone, and we all now know how important user interfaces are. We as an industry will have to raise our game to provide the kind of user interface that our customers are now becoming accustomed to.” Vodafone was at one time rumored to be the front-runner among possible carriers for the iPhone in the UK; it was later announced that the iPhone would be offered by rival carrier O2.

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