According to a new report, Apple is in talks (Subscription req.) with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and Softbank concerning the launch of the iPhone in the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the situation say Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently met with NTT DoCoMo’s president, Masao Nakamura, to discuss a deal to offer the iPhone in Japan. NTT DoCoMo is Japan’s largest cellular provider, and it has been suggested that it is likely to be Apple’s first choice as partner, as the company has shown a strong preference for signing agreements with top mobile operators. The same sources also said that Apple has also been in discussions with No. 3 operator Softbank Corp., and that executives from both companies have made multiple trips to its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. None of the three companies has yet commented on the report.
Contrary to a claim published today, iLounge has confirmed with Orange that unlocked iPhones sold by the company are not limited to French-only SIM cards. A story claimed that unlocked iPhones sold by Orange were somehow “country locked,” and unable to work with SIM cards other than those from other French carriers. “Once legally (through Orange Customer Service) unlocked, the iPhone will operate with any SIM card, including foreign ones. But some applications like ‘Visual Voice Mail’ may not work abroad,” Orange’s Louis-Michel Aymard told iLounge in an email. In addition to offering clarification to the unlocking issue, Aymard also told iLounge that the percentage of unlocked iPhones sold by Orange was “a lot smaller than 20%.”
Apple has posted a new support document, “How to create custom ringtones in GarageBand 4.1.1,” that describes how to make iPhone-compatible ringtones using the audio editing program. The document states “With GarageBand 4.1.1 you can export your original song, your original audio recordings, or use Apple Loops and iLife jingles to create a custom ringtone for your iPhone.” The process involves loading the song into GarageBand, setting up a “cycle region” of 40 seconds or less in length, and choosing the “Share > Send Ringtone to iTunes” menu option. GarageBand 4.1.1 is available as part of Apple’s iLife ‘08 software suite.
You can also read iLounge’s 10 step guide to Creating Ringtones with GarageBand ‘08.
A new third-party iPhone application from Monster and Friends can record video up to 45 frames per second via the iPhone’s built-in camera. The developers are still working on a final version, but have released a limited beta which records a five second video and immediately plays it back. The final version will be able to record unlimited-sized clips (until the available storage runs out) up to 30 fps and will include an interface to save your videos. While impressive, this release is most noteworthy as a confirmation of video recording on the iPhone, a feature that is likely to be implemented either by Apple or through a third-party solution once the developer kit is released in February. [via Gizmodo; Thanks, Max]
A new Apple job posting for an “iPhone Windows Outlook/Exchange QA Engineer” points to possible future support for the Microsoft email protocol on the handset. Many users have pointed to the iPhone’s lack of Outlook/Exchange support as a roadblock to wide-spread corporate adoption of the device. The job description says “The iPhone Quality team is looking for a motivated, highly-technical Exchange test/sync engineer with excellent problem solving and communication skills. You will join a dynamic team responsible for qualifying the latest iPhone products. Your focus will be testing Exchange and Outlook functionality with Apple’s innovative new phone. The successful candidate will complete both documented and adhoc testing to ensure high quality releases.”
Fox News has launched its Fox News for iPhone website. Designed for the iPhone and iPod touch’s interface, the site allows users to read headlines, search the Fox News archive, and watch every video available on Foxnews.com. The videos will automatically stream in the correct size for the user’s current connection, whether it be EDGE or Wi-Fi. In addition, users can also share stories, and get quick links to Fox News podcasts on the iTunes Store. Fox News for iPhone can be accessed by visiting iphone.foxnews.com from an iPhone or iPod touch. [via MDN]
Google has launched a new interface for its Picasa photo sharing service, optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch. The interface lets users “quickly see all your albums that you’ve uploaded to Picasa Web. If you click on any of the albums, you can get a full view of your picture with comments from your friends.” Other features include a Slideshow view, a search mode that lets users search for photos in their albums or through community photos, and the ability to view your friends’ albums through favorites. To try out the new interface, visit picasaweb.google.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.
A security forecast released by Arbor Networks suggests that the iPhone will be a major target for hackers in 2008. Arbor’s Security and Engineering Response Team, who put together the forecasts, believe that the iPhone will be the victim of a “serious attack” next year. These attacks are “likely to be in the form of drive by attacks - malware embedded into seemingly harmless information, images or other media that actually perform dangerous actions when rendered on the iPhone’s Web browser.” In addition, the team suggests that “hackers will be enticed by the possibility of attacking Apple users and the opportunity to ‘be the first’ to hack a new platform.”
Apple has officially raised its sales limit on iPhones from two- to five-per-person. In October, Apple imposed a two-per-person sales limit on the iPhone in hopes of discouraging customers from reselling the phones, and to help reduce strains on inventory heading into the holiday shopping season. The sales limit was raised in both the U.S. and U.K., however, cash-only iPhone sales are still prohibited.
Despite its lack of Exchange support, push email (other than Yahoo!), and 3G wireless, the iPhone is gaining ground in the business world, according to a Reuters report. Recently, software maker SAP announced that it will introduce a version of its upcoming customer relationship management software for the iPhone before releasing versions for Blackberry phones and Palm devices. “It’s fun,” Mike de la Cruz, senior VP with SAP, said. “It’s so popular.” According to Bob Stutz, SAP senior vice president in charge of developing customer relationship management software, the reason for the move was internal demand for the software, with SAP’s salespeople saying that the iPhone was easier to use. “This isn’t necessarily iPhone deployment by way of the IT department, but it’s by people who really want to use this device and IT is responding in a really positive way,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with market research firm Jupiter Research.
According to the article, the iPhone still faces challenges in the business market, mainly due to its lack of corporate push email support and its virtual keyboard. These challenges can be overcome, the article suggests, by adding support for Microsoft’s Exchange server, as well as adding tactile feedback to the phone’s keyboard. “What really made the iPod take off was when they made it compatible with Windows. So if they made the iPhone compatible with Windows e-mail, meaning Outlook, that would really make sales take off,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research. “If they get those pieces together, it would make iPhone a much stronger competitor.”
SmugMug, a photo and video sharing website, has launched several new features, including video playback support on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as iPod-formatted video downloads. The company now offers dynamic resizing of photos, a feature it calls “SmugMungous,” which allows for easier viewing on devices with different resolutions and screen sizes, such as the iPhone and iPod touch. In addition, SmugMug is now accepting high definition 720p video uploads, which are automatically encoded in three sizes — Web, iPod/DVD, and HiDef — for different viewing situations. Also new is the ability to export your video collections as iTunes-friendly video podcasts, as well as a update to the service’s iPhone/iPod touch interface that allows users to browse and playback videos through Quicktime. [via TechCrunch]
Several retailers in the Sim Lim Square shopping center in Singapore, as well as some local online outlets, have ceased sales of unlocked iPhones following legal threats from Apple. According to The Straits Times, retailers in the area say that Apple threatened in an email to pursue legal action against them should they continue to sell illegally unlocked iPhones, which could make them liable for penalties of up to $1000 for each phone sold. “For a couple of tens of dollars, it’s not worth breaching the law for,” said one online retailer, who told the paper that the email was a factor in its decision to stop reselling the devices. Despite a check of 12 electronics and cellphone retailers in Sim Lim that saw not one openly offering the iPhone, a single store did indicate that the device could be “brought in” for interested customers.
Incoming O2 chief Matthew Key has said that iPhone sales are currently in line with expectations and that in time, three out of four iPhone buyers will be new O2 customers, coming from other networks. “Over time, three out of four customers of the iPhone will be new O2 customers, because you can only get the iPhone by becoming a customer of O2,” Key told reporters in London. Key, who is set to take over as CEO of O2 when Peter Erskine steps down at the beginning of 2008, declined to reveal exact iPhone sales figures. Key also suggested that the good relationship between O2 and Apple might speed up the product’s arrival in Spain, most likely as Telefonica as the carrier.
Google has announced the release of a new iPhone web application that integrates the company’s services, such as search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and more, into a single, iPhone and iPod touch-friendly interface. Google says that the new application takes advantage of browser technologies like AJAX that allow for Gmail and Google Maps on the desktop, stating, “In supporting these advances in web technology, the iPhone’s Safari browser not only delivers an excellent mobile Internet experience; it enabled our product and engineering teams to create an optimal Google experience on a mobile device.” To access the new application, simply visit google.com on an iPhone or iPod touch.
Orange, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in France, has announced that it sold 30,000 of the devices in the first five days of availability. According to the carrier, 48 percent of iPhone sales lead to a new Orange line subscription, and 80 percent of customers sign up for an “Orange for iPhone” plan at the same time. Orange sells the iPhone for 399 euros with a two-year contract, or 749 euros unlocked. “This is a very good score, especially as one in two iPhone purchases is accompanied by a new Orange line subscription”, said Louis-Pierre Wenes, Executive Director in charge of France operations. “This confirms that the iPhone will make an active contribution to the acquisition of new customers”, he added.
According to the latest browser marketshare report from Net Applications, the iPhone and iPod touch have attained a .1 percent share of browser usage, besting Microsoft’s Windows CE platform, which has a .06 percent share of the market. Microsoft has been selling Windows CE devices since 1996, and according to Gartner shipped more than three million of the devices in Q1 2007. According to Computerworld, if the iPhone maintains this rate of growth, it could be the third largest computing platform “by the end of next year.” Separately, the iPhone holds a .09 percent share of browser usage, while the iPod touch represents .01 percent of the market.
A German court has ruled that T-Mobile can make customers who buy the iPhone take out a T-Mobile contract as well and may continue to offer the device with a locked SIM card. This ruling comes two weeks after rival Vodafone obtained a preliminary injunction against T-Mobile prohibiting the carrier from selling iPhones that are locked to its network, leading T-Mobile to offer unlocked iPhones for 999 euros. It is unknown whether T-Mobile will continue sales of unlocked phones following the ruling.
New York-based Klausner Technologies has filed suit against Apple and AT&T over the iPhone’s Visual Voicemail feature, claiming patent infringement and seeking $360 million in damages and future royalties. In a statement, Klausner said it believes the iPhone “violates Klausner’s intellectual-property rights by allowing users to selectively retrieve voice messages via the iPhone’s inbox display.” The company also claims that founder Judah Klausner was “the inventor of the PDA and electronic organizer.” Klausner Technologies has previously filed similar patent-infringement suits against Comcast, Cablevision, and eBay’s Skype VoIP service.
While the iPhone has officially launched in France, England, and Germany, Apple faces several challenges as it rolls out the device in other areas, reports Forbes. One of the main challenges, according to the report, is working out the network agreements in various regions. “If Apple is running into any impediments, it’s probably on the business side, making deals with operators,” says Charles Golvin, a principal analyst with Forrester Research. “As it looks abroad, Apple needs to do much more lengthy negotiations than its peers do.” The article suggests that while Apple has committed to an Asian release in 2008, it is also likely to target areas where its brand is popular. “One might imagine they would go after countries where they have found success with the iPod or the Mac,” says Golvin. Other analysts suggest the company may analyze iTunes usage when deciding where to head next.
Apart from network agreements, the device also faces compatibility problems in regions such as Japan and South Korea, and its lack of 3G capability may prove to be a problem in countries like Italy, Portugal, and Sweden. “We’ll look at the iPhone when it becomes 3G,” says Boris Nemsic, chief executive of Telekom Austria Group. Previously, AT&T chief Randall Stephenson said that a 3G iPhone will be available next year.
For those readers who purchased an iPhone before August 22 and have yet to submit your claim for the $100 Apple Store Credit offered to early iPhone owners, today (November 30) is the last day you can do so. To receive your credit, simply follow the steps listed on Apple’s website. The credit may be used at Apple Retail Stores, the Apple Online Store, or Apple telesales, but may not be used at the iTunes Store, or for the purchase of iTunes Gift Cards.