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iPhone Visual Voicemail developer up for award

Comverse, the company behind Visual Voicemail for iPhone, has announced that the feature has been selected as a finalist for the 2008 GSMA Global Mobile Award in the Best Mobile Messaging Service category. According to Comverse, which bills itself as “the world’s leader in visual voicemail,” the feature was chosen based on its “innovativeness, interoperability between devices and between networks, ability to generate new revenue opportunities for the operator, user experience and take-up of the product.” “We are honored to be among the finalists for this coveted industry award,” said Comverse Chief Marketing Officer John Bunyan. “I extend heartfelt congratulations to the Comverse teams for an outstanding product that has attracted international recognition.” The winner will be announced on Tuesday, February 12th at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards Gala Dinner held in The National Palace in Barcelona, during the Mobile World Congress.

O2 to offer iPhone business tariffs in 2008

Following last week’s announcement of iPhone business plans by AT&T, UK iPhone carrier O2 has said that it plans to offer the iPhone to business users sometime later this year. Speaking in an interview with UK gadget web site Pocket-lint, an O2 spokesperson said that although the iPhone is aimed at consumers, the company “wants to offer it as a service for business users looking to use the smartphone in their office.” Previously, the company had directed business users interested in the iPhone toward individual plans, stating, “The iPhone is currently only available on consumer eighteen-month contracts and not yet on business tariffs and contracts. Business customers can still buy an iPhone but they will need to take out a new 18-month consumer contract on an iPhone tariff.”

Developers ready for iPhone, iPod touch SDK

Anticipation is growing for developers awaiting Apple’s software development kit for the iPhone and iPod touch, a new report suggests. The SDK, promised to be released sometime in February by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, will allow third-party developers to develop native applications for the touch screen devices. In the meantime, many developers are left wondering how Apple will handle the implementation, installation, and distribution of the applications. “We definitely want the SDK,” says Christopher Allen, who runs online developer community iPhoneWebDev. “But the real questions are, ‘How is it going to integrate with iTunes? Are we going to be able to get paid? If so, how much?’ “

Some developers believe that Apple might choose to take control of what applications make it on to its devices, and also secure itself a percentage of application revenue, by distributing third-party applications through iTunes. Cabel Sasser, co-founder of the independent Mac software firm Panic, believes this distribution method will help developers. Calling iTunes “the holy grail of distribution,” Sasser says, “It could open us up to an entirely new market and really change our business. Not everyone can locate, download and install software from the Internet.” However, this distribution model might also pose problems for developers who choose to offer their software for free. “Our philosophy is not to charge users,” says Jonathan Zweig of Jirbo, whose web-based games for the iPhone and iPod touch are amongst the most popular iPhone applications listed on Apple’s web site. “If people can’t get it free from us, they will get it from someone else.” Despite these differences of opinion, most developers agree that the iPhone represents a great new opportunity for their industry. “[The iPhone] opens up an unbelievable amount of opportunity for new ideas and game-changing software,” says Sasser. “We’re chomping at the virtual bit … just counting down the days.”

O2 improves voice, SMS limits on iPhone contracts

O2, the iPhone’s carrier in the UK, has announced improved tariffs for iPhone users, offering more voice minutes and text messages. iPhone users on the most affordable (£35) plan will see their minutes jump from 200 to 600 a month, and their SMS limit go from 200 to 500 messages a month. Users signed up for the £45 plan will now get the same allowances as the old £55 plan: 1200 minutes (up from 600) and 500 text messages. Finally, iPhone users who were previously signed up for the £55 tariff may either drop down to the £45 plan, cutting their monthly bill by £10, or move to a £75 a month plan, which offers 3000 minutes and 500 SMS messages. The move is part of a broader improvement in O2’s offering for all mobile customers. The new tariffs will be available from February 1; O2 says that existing iPhone customers will be automatically transferred to the new plans by mid-March at the latest. [via Macworld UK]

PumpOne launches exercise video site for iPhone, iPod touch

PumpOne, producers of personal training programs for the iPod, has launched Pump10, a new exercise video site designed specifically for use on the iPhone or iPod touch. Pump10 offers users weekly 10-minute video workouts, fitness tips, and personal training advice. “We designed Pump10 workouts to help iPhone users get in shape, 10 minutes at a time,” said PumpOne exercise physiologist Declan Condron. “The iPhone’s fantastic portability and access to rich internet content anywhere and anytime means there are no excuses for not getting into better shape in the new year.” Pump10 is a free service and is accessible by visiting Pump10.com from any iPhone or iPod touch.

iPhone 1.1.3 update causing SMS troubles?

According to a number of reports, the latest update of the iPhone’s software, version 1.1.3, is causing SMS text messaging problems for some users. A discussion thread on Apple’s support site, “SMS conversations 1.1.3,” now contains close to 200 replies discussing the problem of SMS messages being received and displayed in an incorrect order. Apple has posted a document which acknowledges the problem, but does not list it as a bug. Titled “iPhone: SMS messages may be displayed in the wrong order when sending or receiving text messages,” the document suggests that the problem is caused by the iPhone “not displaying the same date and time setting as the carrier network time.” Apple suggests that setting the iPhone up to receive the network time will alleviate the problem, but also warns that if problems continue, “the issue may be occurring because messages are being sent in quick succession (more common if the messages consist of only a few short words).” [via InformationWeek]

Deutsche Telekom reports 70,000 iPhones sold

Deutsche Telekom, the German parent company of T-Mobile, said over the weekend that it had signed up 70,000 iPhone customers since the device’s launch in Germany on November 9, 2007. “The iPhone is by far the most sold multimedia device in T-Mobile’s portfolio,” said Philipp Humm, head of T-Mobile Germany, in an interview published on T-Mobile’s in-house Internet web site. Earlier this month, the iPhone’s French carrier, Orange, said that it sold more than 70,000 iPhones in the first month of availability; Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during his keynote address on Jan. 15 that the company has sold more than four million iPhones worldwide.

Widespread iPhone, iPod touch 1.1.3 update problems

Since last week’s release of new 1.1.3 software for the iPhone and iPod touch, a number of users, including iLounge editors, have experienced serious problems when trying to update the devices. In some cases, the update appears to have been completed successfully, but renders the devices inoperable, leaving them stuck in recovery mode. When an attempt is made to restore the devices, one of several dialog boxes (pictured below) pops up and says the device can not be restored due to an unknown error.

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In addition to user-submitted complaints and questions, many reports of similar problems and errors have appeared on Apple Support’s discussion boards. Some users have been able to recover the iPods or iPhones after deleting and re-installing iTunes or past software update files, but other users have tried these methods without success, finding no alternative but to return the non-functioning units to Apple. Many of the messages are more frantic than this one, left by SinclairZX81: “My iPhone is now permanently stuck in ‘recovery mode.’ Restore fails with unknown error (9). Help.”

It is worth noting that our editors have experienced problems updating both iPod touch and iPhone hardware that has never been jailbroken or otherwise altered; one iPhone that failed to update on its first attempt succeeded on a subsequent attempt, but an iPod touch has remained incapable of being restored despite multiple attempts on different computers. Apple has yet to respond to iLounge’s request for comment on the issue.

iPhone version 1.1.3 jailbreak update released [updated]

A software-based jailbreak update for iPhone software version 1.1.3 has been released. Jailbreaking an iPhone makes it possible for unathorized, third-party applications to be installed on the iPhone. This new jailbreak requires that the user have a previously-jailbroken iPhone running software version 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 with Installer.app installed and a Windows computer. According to reports, unlocked phones appear to remain unlocked following the jailbreak/update; however, this new jailbreak method will not unlock an iPhone — it will only update a previously jailbroken unit to version 1.1.3.

Update: Following the initial release of the iPhone 1.1.3 jailbreak software, the group responsible for most of the software’s development claimed that the software had been released against its wishes, and ejected the member responsible for the early release. iPhone Dev Team member Jonathan Zdziarski has posted an update on the situation, explaining that the initial release by former member Nate True “included both files belonging to Apple and patches which contain copyrighted information by Apple, making his personal release illegal and unethical.” The iPhone Dev Team has since released its official 1.1.3 jailbreak, which functions on both the iPhone and iPod touch, and is performed on the device itself. In addition, another jailbreak application, iJailBreak, has been released in both a computer-based form (iJailBreak), and in a device-centered form (iJailBreakMobile) which allows users of jailbroken iPhone and iPod touch units running firmware 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 to update their devices using Installer.app.

Analysis: One-third of iPhones sold to unlock

Based upon figures released by Apple and its iPhone partner companies, then analyzed by iLounge, up to 35% of iPhones sold to date may have been purchased with the intent to unlock. According to Apple, slightly over 3.7 million of the handsets were sold in 2007, while its primary service partner AT&T today announced that it ended the year with “just at or slightly under 2 million iPhone customers.” Additionally, though the phone’s European carriers O2, Orange, and T-Mobile have not released official iPhone sales figures, estimates place their unit sales at or below the low end of their targets, suggesting that cumulative European sales now total 300,000-400,000, for a liberal estimate of 2.4 million.

Even if all of these customers kept their iPhones locked to these carriers, this number would leave around 1.3 million iPhones unaccounted for—approximately 35% of total iPhone sales in 2007. Although it is possible that a large number of customers who received the devices over the holidays might not have activated them by the end of the year, the number would not likely push the overall percentage below 33%, or one-third of all iPhones sold during the year. In addition, not all iPhones sold in Europe were sold locked, as both Orange in France and T-Mobile in Germany offered unlocked versions of the phone, albeit at much higher prices than their locked counterparts. It is presently unknown as to how many of the officially unlocked phones were sold.

To date, Apple has been unable to supply a concrete metric on how many handsets were being sold with intent to unlock. However, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, speaking during the company’s Q1 Financial Results Conference Call, said that the company believed the number to be “significant.”

Apple lowers Q2 iPhone shipment projection?

Apple has lowered its projected second quarter shipments of the iPhone from two million units to around 1-1.2 million units, according to a new report. Citing sources at Apple’s handset component suppliers in Taiwan, China’s Economic Daily News reports that sales of the iPhone in Europe have been lower than expected, leading Apple to reduce its shipping estimates for its fiscal second quarter. Reporting its first quarter financial results earlier this week, Apple revealed that it sold 2.315 million iPhones in the quarter; it gave no specific unit guidance on expected second quarter iPhone sales or shipments, except to state that it remains “very confident” in its ability to hit its goal of 10 million units sold by the end of 2008.

iPhone software version 1.1.3 ready for SDK

Blogger and noted iPhone hacker Nate True has gotten to examine the latest iPhone software, version 1.1.3, on a deeper level, and found it to be “ready for official installable applications.” According to True, the iPhone’s home screen application, SpringBoard, no longer needs modification to show extra applications in the /Applications folder. In addition, all applications now run as the user “mobile” instead of root, and preferences are now stored in /var/mobile rather than in /var/root. In Mac OS X and most UNIX variants, running applications as the root user can be a security risk; running apps as a lesser user creates a sort of sandbox for the applications that keeps them from accessing certain parts of the operating system, including system-level files. True also claims that the developer frameworks have undergone many changes, perhaps to “make it easier for official SDK developers to make programs,” and that the SpringBoard app appears to have gained widget support, via a class called SBWidgetApplication which manages the package location and icon. Apple has said that an official SDK for the iPhone and iPod touch will be released in February.

Thai iPhone negotiations include Australia, Singapore

According to statements made by Advanced Info Service chief marketing officer Sanchai Thiewprasertkul, the Thai-based mobile operator is collaborating with Singapore Telecom and Australia’s Optus to launch the iPhone throughout the region. “Mr Sanchai said that AIS, in collaboration with SingTel and the Australian mobile operator Optus, were discussing phone volumes, marketing terms and business model partnerships,” the Bangkok Post reported. Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Telecom, and SingTel owns 21.4 per cent of AIS; however, Sol Trujillo, CEO of competing Australia telecom Telestra, has said he had conversations with Apple about bringing the iPhone to the country. It was previously reported that Apple was in talks with AIS to launch the iPhone in Thailand, but Sanchai also warned that Apple’s demands for revenue sharing may prove to be a sticking point in the negotiations. “Given our one baht a minute of airtime, it would not make sense and would be impossible for us to share revenue with Apple,” Sanchai said.

O2 iPhone sales fall short of expectations

Sales of the iPhone through O2 have come just shy of the UK mobile operator’s expectations, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, the Financial Times reports that actual sales were around 190,000 units in the first two months following the iPhone’s UK launch, falling just short of the 200,000 units the company expected. O2 declined to comment on iPhone sales figures, but said it was “delighted with the response to the iPhone, which has seen unprecedented levels of customer satisfaction,” and added that the iPhone is the company’s fastest-selling handset ever “by a significant margin.” The iPhone is also sold in the UK by Apple and Carphone Warehouse; in early December, O2 chief Matthew Key said that iPhone sales were currently in line with expectations.

Apple in negotiations over Thai iPhone launch

Apple is in talks with Thailand’s Advanced Info Service about the iPhone’s launch in the country, according to a statement made by an AIS executive. “We are negotiating on details, including a revenue sharing standard. Apple needs a local operator to promote iPhone,” said Prattana Leelapanang, assistant vice president for Advanced Info Service’s wireless business marketing. Leelapanang gave no details of when the talks might be completed. AIS has 24.5 million wireless customers, representing about half of the Thai cellular market; Apple has previously said that it plans to launch the iPhone in Asia sometime in 2008.

AT&T announces iPhone business plans

AT&T has announced details of its iPhone business plans, and is now offering the handset to business customers. In addition to an eligible voice plan, business customers wanting to add an iPhone to their account must also sign-up for a 2-year service agreement or a renewed 2-year agreement and must add one of three Enterprise Data Plans for iPhone to their account. Enterprise Data Plans for iPhone include unlimited data, Visual Voicemail, and either 200 ($45), 1500 ($55), or Unlimited ($65) SMS text messages a month. In addition, two separate Global Data Plans are available — 20MB for $25 a month, or 50MB for $60 — for business users who travel internationally. In addition, qualified Corporate Responsibility Users and other corporate-liable users who activate an Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone by March 31, 2008 may be eligible to receive a service credit in the amount of $25 per month through December 31, 2008. [via Engadget]

iPhone 1.1.3 update fixes bricked iPhones

According to several reports, iPhone software version 1.1.3 has the ability to restore functionality to phones that were bricked during a past update. Because the software performs a complete rewrite of phone’s baseband, removing/writing over anything written by unlocking solutions, it allows users with bricked iPhones to restore the device’s original functionality, although after the update the device will once again be locked to AT&T. iPhone software version 1.1.3 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.

Apple rolls out major software updates for iPhone, iPods [updated]

Apple today announced the release of iPhone software version 1.1.3, a free update for the device which adds several new features including Maps with location, the ability to send SMS messages to multiple recipients, and the ability to customize the home screen. “iPhone doesn’t stand still—we’re making it better and better all the time,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve delighted millions of users with this revolutionary and magical product and it’s great to share these improvements with them.” The location feature of Maps uses both cellular and Wi-Fi triangulation technology to provide an approximate location to the application, which also sports a new interface. The iPhone’s home screen now allows users to move and rearrange application icons, and also allows the user to create multiple home screens, which can be filled with Web Clips, direct links to web-based applications and web pages that appear on the iPhone’s home screen alongside the standard applications. The update also adds support for chapters, subtitles, and alternate languages for videos, as well as support for the display of lyrics when listening to music. iPhone software version 1.1.3 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.

Alongside the software update for the iPhone, Apple has also released a similar upgrade for the iPod touch which adds the new features implemented in the iPhone update, including Web Clips, customizable home screen, and the new video and audio capabilities. This update is a free download and is available through the update feature in iTunes. Separately, Apple has announced a paid update for the iPod touch that brings the iPhone’s Mail, Maps (with Wi-Fi triangulation), Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications to the iPod touch; the application pack is available now from iTunes and sells for $20.

Updated Jan. 29, 2008: During the rush of new product and software announcements at Macworld Expo, we accidentally skipped specifically mentioning two software updates that were released alongside iTunes 7.6 — firmware version 1.1 for the iPod classic and firmware 1.1 for the iPod nano (with video). According to Apple, the updates add support for iTunes Movie Rentals and contain unspecified bug fixes, although users have reported Cover Flow and Click Wheel improvements, as well as a new audio bug affecting some iPod classic users. iPod classic firmware 1.1 and iPod nano (with video) firmware 1.1 are both available now through the update feature in iTunes.

Apple, China Mobile end iPhone talks

Apple and China Mobile have broken off talks to bring the iPhone to China, according to a Reuters report. In November, it was reported that talks between the two companies had failed, but China Mobile quickly denied the report, and said that it was still in negotiations to offer the handset. China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou had previously warned that he disliked the revenue-sharing business model Apple had used elsewhere for iPhone agreements, and it is thought that contention over this point may have led to the split. “It’s not a surprise. China Mobile doesn’t want to share its non-voice revenue,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of BDA China, a Beijing-based telecoms research consultancy. “The two have very strong egos and, as in any relationship, that often doesn’t work.” Apple has said that it plans to launch the iPhone in Asia in 2008.

Google rolls out updated iPhone apps

Google has announced new improvements to its suite of web applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, including Search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and more. The updated apps offer an improved user interface that Google says is “easier to activate, navigate and use via a touch-screen.” Other improvements include the ability to customize the applications that appear on the Google.com menu bar, speed improvements for Gmail and Calendar, and the ability to access iGoogle gadgets on the iPhone. To take advantage of the new improvements, simply browse to www.google.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.

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