U.S. carrier AT&T is seeking to extend its iPhone exclusivity deal with Apple through 2011, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T’s current iPhone deal expires next year, and that current AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is now in discussions with Apple to extend it another year. The article goes on to reveal that Stephenson had his technology staff create a custom iPhone application so he can read his internal AT&T financial reports; a stark contrast to his predecessor Ed Whitacre who didn’t even keep a computer on his desk. Stephenson told the WSJ that with or without the iPhone, the company is planning to invest heavily in new infrastructure to handle new, more bandwidth-hungry services and devices. “This business cycle is going to cycle,” Mr. Stephenson said. “You got to make sure that you’re positioned when it cycles back out to be the leader in the industry, and to do that you have to be the leader in mobility, first and foremost.”
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone on the Stampede Trail near Healy, Alaska. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!
Apple has released the third beta version of iPhone OS 3.0 to developers, along with an updated version of the iPhone SDK. According to Apple’s release notes, a number of changes have been made to Xcode, Interface Builder, and Dashcode in the SDK; the notes also say that applications targeted for prior versions of the iPhone OS cannot be tested in this new version. The updated SDK weighs in at 2.13GB, and is listed as build 9M2728.
Developers can download iPhone OS 3.0 Beta 3, and the accompanying updated SDK, from Apple’s iPhone Dev Center.
Gameloft has released details of its upcoming Assassin’s Creed game for the iPhone and iPod touch. A direct prequel to the console game of the same name, Assassin’s Creed puts players in control of a master assassin named Altair, sent to Jerusalem in the year 1191 AD to steal a chalice in order to end the Crusades. The game offers a mix of stealth, problem solving, and action, and features skill-based mini-games, cinematic cutscenes, the ability to upgrade Altair and his six different weapons, and 3D graphics. Assassin’s Creed for the iPhone and iPod touch is expected to launch next week; pricing has yet to be announced. Continue reading for more screenshots.
Utah.gov, the official website of the state of Utah, has released two new applications for the iPhone and iPod touch to allow users to quickly and easily access various state agency information. The Utah.gov application provides users with a state agency search, including phone number, address, and web site URL, a service search, covering over 1,000 citizen, business, and government-to-government services, and a section for news from Utah.gov. The second app, Utah.gov Professional License Lookup, is a search utility that lets users verify the status of individuals with a state regulated occupation or profession, including doctors, nurses, contractors, accountants, and other state licensed professionals. It displays basic license information, and color-coded results based on active, inactive, or suspended status. Both of Utah.gov’s applications are available now as free downloads from the App Store.
Apple is currently offering special limited time pricing on its stock of Certified Refurbished fourth-generation iPod nano units. All 8GB models are now $99, down from the normal price of $129, while the 16GB models are now $149, down from $169; both prices represent a savings of $50 off the retail price of new units. All Apple Certified Refurbished iPods include Apple’s one-year warranty, and are typically limited to the number of units on hand. [via MDN]
Ultimate Ears, a product unit of Logitech, has introduced its new Ultimate Ears 700 noise-isolating earphones. The 700s feature a custom-tuned dual-armature layout, a “microdesign” body that is as small as a coin and sports a dark metallic finish, and a frequency response of 10 Hz to 16.5 kHz. In addition, the 700s include five sets of ear cushions, a sound level attenuator, and a hard-shell carrying case. The Ultimate Ears 700 noise-isolating earphones are available for pre-order now and will ship later this month for $230.
Online retailer Buy.com has begun sales of “never-locked” iPhone 3G units, although it is unclear exactly where the units are from or whether they are protected by Apple’s standard one-year warranty. The units, which are listed as 16GB models but without any color specification, are priced at $800 each; a video accompanying the listing says the iPhones come from “overseas,” and may include instructions and other materials printed in Italian or some other non-English language. Confusingly, though both the video and the top portion of the listing indicate that the phones include the “Apple guarantee,” a separate block of text farther down the page indicates the phone “can only be returned to the distributor under” a “30 Day Limited Warranty.” Finally, although the page states that the phone can be used with T-Mobile in the U.S., T-Mobile’s 3G network operates on a different frequency than those supported by the iPhone 3G, meaning the device would be limited to standard EDGE connectivity when using T-Mobile’s network.
British publisher Kraken Opus is bundling a special second-generation iPod touch, which it has dubbed the Prince Opus iPod, with its Prince Opus book, a limited-edition, 280-plus page photographic essay of Prince’s 21 Nights tour. The Prince Opus iPod features a custom-colored purple front and home button, Prince’s symbol logo etched onto the rear, and comes pre-loaded with an exclusive 40-minute movie and bonus audio tracks; both the iPod and the leather, hand-bound Prince Opus book are limited to 950 copies worldwide. Kraken Opus’ Prince Opus with Prince Opus iPod is available for pre-order and sells for $2,100. [via All Things Digital]
Educational gaming company LeapFrog has released Number Rumble, the company’s first game for the iPhone and the iPod touch. Number Rumble is a math game aimed at six- to ten-year-olds that helps players learn basic math, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using numbers 1-12. It features three different game modes, including “Learn It,” in which players choose an operation, spin number wheels to create a math problem, and then tap the equals sign to see and hear the answer, “Quiz Time,” in which players spin the number wheels to create a problem and then shake the iPhone to select an answer, and “Random Quiz,” which lets players practice all four operations at once by shaking the iPhone to see fill-in-the-blank-style questions. LeapFrog’s Number Rumble is available now from the App Store and sells for $3.
Apple has placed orders for four million units of new iPhone models, with delivery expected by the end of this quarter, according to a China Times report (Translated Link). The report goes on to state that Apple may introduce three distinct iPhone models, including a new 2.75G (EDGE) model, a new 3G model, and a third model created especially for the Chinese market. All three models are said to be similar in design to the current iPhone, and the report states that the introduction of a third, smaller model—often referred to as the iPhone nano—is unlikely. Prior reports have indicated that a future iPhone model would include an improved, 3.2 megapixel camera, 802.11n wireless network support, and video recording features; Apple is expected to reveal at least one new iPhone model at this year’s WWDC event, scheduled for June 8-12 in San Francisco. [via Mac Rumors]
According to new images published by Engadget, Microsoft is preparing a third-generation Zune device, presently titled Zune HD. One of the images includes a direct look at the potential device, which appears to have a wide-aspect touchscreen and an Apple-like black and silver exterior, with the rest showing abstract illustrations. Microsoft has previously targeted both the iPod classic and iPod nano with its drive- and flash-based Zunes, respectively, but has yet to offer a model comparable in features to the iPod touch.
According to a teardown analysis of the third-generation iPod shuffle, the total cost of the device is roughly 28% of its retail price. Citing analysis from market research firm iSuppli, BusinessWeek reports that the total cost of the shuffle’s components, its remote-laden headphones, and its packaging comes to just $21.77. iSuppli found that Samsung supplied both the shuffle’s controller chip, which costs roughly $6, and the 4GB of flash memory, which also costs roughly $6; iSuppli analyst Andrew Rassweiler notes that Apple is likely using flash memory from Toshiba and Hynix Semiconductor as well. “It’s almost like six dollars worth of flash memory tied to some flash and a battery and not much else,” Rassweiler said. “It’s very basic and downsized.” The device also includes a lithium ion battery that runs $1.20, which Rassweiler describes as “the smallest we’ve ever seen.” Other component suppliers include On Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments.
If you haven’t yet submitted your entry for our Just Mobile Xtand Giveaway, there’s still time to do so. In our Giveaway of the Month for April, Just Mobile and iLounge are giving away twenty Xtands for iPhone or iPod touch to lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on April 30, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Apple has released VoiceOver Kit 1.0.1, the first update to the voice response system of the third-generation iPod shuffle. According to the release notes, version 1.0.1 of the kit includes corrected pronunciation for several artist names, as well as minor bug fixes. Notably, the update currently requires users to run Apple’s Software Update utility, and exit iTunes before installing. It weighs in at 17MB on the Mac.
A number of iPhone users are reporting intermittent problems with Wi-Fi after installing iPhone OS 2.2.1, which have since been linked to a battery issue by one intrepid user. According to an Apple Discussions thread, affected units randomly drop Wi-Fi signals, refusing to reconnect to any network for a period of time. Originally, many of the users believed the problem to be heat-related, as some users reported success after putting their phone in the refrigerator or freezer—a process we would warn against, as it could result in water damage or a water damage indicator being triggered from condensation, thus voiding any remaining warranty.
Scottish user ScottieWil physically opened his iPhone, discovering that Wi-Fi immediately returned when the relevant chip was touched with a Nitrogen stick to quickly cool it down. Upon further inspection, however, he found that the issue appears to be directly linked to the percentage of battery charge—his Wi-Fi seemed to work consistently no matter what the temperature as long as the battery charge was less than 50%—and suggested that the battery is “very sensitive to temperature,” which would explain why the freezer trick worked for a short period. Despite ScottieWil’s efforts, there appears to be no immediate fix for the issue. One user wrote that an Apple representative made an appointment for him to get a replacement phone without 2.2.1 installed, suggesting Apple is aware of the problem, if currently unable to provide a solution. [via The Register]
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In an evaluation of the iTunes Top 100 chart rankings from Tuesday to Thursday, Billboard has discovered that songs that went up in price from $.99 to $1.29 dropped in sales rankings, though the long-term impact of the drops on revenue is less clear. Data from Wednesday, the first day following the price increase, shows that the 40 songs on the Top 100 chart priced at $1.29 dropped an average of 5.3 places from Tuesday, while the 60 remaining $.99 songs gained an average of 2.5 places. Additionally, 33 of the 40 $1.29 songs saw their prices raised on Tuesday morning, and dropped an average of 7.7 chart positions, compared to an average of 1.9 positions lost for the seven songs that were raised to $1.29 between Tuesday and Wednesday. A similar trend was seen the following day, and the two-day trend—from Tuesday to Thursday—mirrored the two prior one-day trends.
A drop in chart rankings is not directly tied to lost revenue, however. The article notes that for a price increase from $.99 to $1.29 to result in an equal or greater amount of revenue, unit sales cannot drop more than 23.3%. On the most recent track download chart, the difference between #42 and #45 in unit sales was only 3.5%, suggesting higher revenues despite a lower chart position, but the difference grew larger near the top of the chart—the difference between the #6 and the #3 chart positions equalled a 30% drop in unit sales. Finally, Billboard notes that a variety of external factors, such as radio play, media attention, placement on the iTunes Store front page, and release date could also play into the changes in chart position.
Users of iTunes 8.1 have reported issues when syncing some first- and second-generation iPod shuffle units. According to an Apple Discussions thread, iTunes 8.1 creates duplicate files on these shuffles when dragging files to the iPod that already exist on the device, does not place podcasts at the beginning of the play order on the shuffle, sorts alphabetically rather than by date, doesn’t automatically delete podcasts on the shuffle that have been deleted from the Podcasts list in iTunes, and doesn’t allow users to play songs from the shuffle in iTunes when the device is connected. The problems appear to be occurring on both Mac and PC computers; some users have reported that restoring the shuffle fixes all problems, while other users have had only limited success following a restore. [via Wired]
Apple has launched a new Billion App Countdown promotion to celebrate the one-billionth app downloaded from the App Store, with a single combined prize of a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card, a 32GB iPod touch, a Time Capsule, and a 17-inch MacBook Pro. The prize will be awarded for the entry (either through an app download or through a non-purchase online entry) sent immediately following the download of the 999,999,999th app. The winners will be listed online within 10 days following the one-billionth download. Regardless of which method of entry is used to enter the Promotion, only 25 entries per person and/or iTunes account and/or email address, per day will be granted; an entrant must be 13 years of age or older at the time of entry, and must also be a legal resident of the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (excluding the Province of Quebec), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom. Apple held a similar promotion during the time leading up to the one billionth song sold via the iTunes Store in 2006.
Editors’ Note: At the current estimated rate of App Store downloads, roughly 5 million per day, the countdown would last for roughly 15 days before someone wins. However, the pace of downloads will likely continue to accelerate as it has throughout the Store’s growth, meaning that a winner should be picked in less than two weeks’ time.