Combined with the prior departure of Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt last year, the recent death of Apple director Jerome York has left the company with one of the smallest boards of directors of any Fortune 500 company, the Wall Street Journal reports. Following York’s passing, Apple’s board now has only six members, including CEO Steve Jobs, who is described as a dominating force in the group. Citing unnamed corporate board experts, the report states that the shrinkage is likely to result in directors having to perform more duties than they can handle, and also causes problems for the board’s audit committee, which Apple’s own rules state must have at least three members.
The audit committee was comprised of York, former Intuit Inc. CEO William Campbell and former Genentech Inc. CEO Arthur Levinson. While the company could ask one of its other three independent directors to fill the gap, such a move is unlikely, the Journal says, based on required financial expertise absent from these individuals. According to the report, shareholders have long wanted Apple’s directors to be more independent of Jobs, a move which would help the board challenge the CEO when necessary. A smaller board, packed with Jobs admirers, is considered less likely to expand the company’s options.
Roderick Hills, a former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, said York’s successor should have “sufficient stature and importance to take the CEO on,” adding that the next audit committee chairman should be ready to resign if things aren’t done correctly; York himself said in an interview before his death that he wished he had resigned after learning about the company’s prior concealment of Jobs’ health concerns.
Following a report from yesterday indicating that the iBookstore would offer most titles on The New York Times best sellers list for $9.99, App Advice is now reporting that the iBookstore will also feature a vast number of free titles from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organization that digitizes and catalogs books which have seen their U.S. copyright expire; the Gutenberg website claims to offer over 30,000 ebook titles for free. The report is accompanied by a supposed screenshot of the iBookstore interface, showing several free titles, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, both of which are available through Project Gutenberg; the report also notes that while the number of free titles wasn’t counted, it appears the entirety of Gutenberg’s catalog is available. It was previously revealed that the iPad’s iBooks applicaiton would support non-DRM ePub books not downloaded from the iBookstore, however, this is the first evidence of Apple actually offering these books for direct download.
According to the latest data from mobile advertising firm AdMob, the iPod touch is playing a large part in the growth of traffic from mobile Internet devices (MID). The company’s newly-published February Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link) states that traffic growth from MIDs is outpacing that of smartphones and feature phones, increasing 403% over the last year to account for 17% of AdMob’s traffic in February. The iPod touch is by far the leader in the category, accounting for 93% of this traffic. Likewise, strong growth in iPhone and Android traffic, fueled by heavy application usage, helped boost overall smartphone traffic by 193% year-over-year. Smartphones now account for 48% of AdMob’s worldwide traffic, with the iPhone accounting for 49.5% of that traffic, a figure that’s down 0.9% from January. AdMob’s numbers are based on ad requests for more than 15,000 mobile Web sites and applications worldwide.
37signals, developer of the popular Basecamp and Highrise web-based productivity applications, has released its first iPhone app. Highrise for the iPhone and iPod touch is designed to allow users to access their contacts, notes, e-mails and tasks from Highrise while on the go; deals and cases are not yet supported in the current version. The application downloads and syncs Highrise information directly to the device so that users can access their contacts and notes more quickly and without requiring an active data connection. Highrise uses its own local contact database rather than the iPhone’s contacts, allowing users to keep their Highrise CRM data separate from their personal address book. Users can also record and attach voice notes to contacts, which are automatically synchronized back to the Highrise server, and view any other attachments that are natively supported by the iPhone OS. Noting that the initial download of Highrise information to the iPhone may take some time, 37signals also provides a simple tic-tac-toe game for users to play while waiting for the download to complete. Highrise is available from the App Store as a free download and requires a Highrise account. More details on the app can be found at the 37signals blog.
Apple has reached a deal with Samsung to supply three million 9.7-inch display panels for use in the iPad. According to a Korea Times report, the deal is expected to be worth $240 million. “Samsung Electronics has won a contract worth $240 million from Apple to supply 3 million LCD panels used in the iPads,” said a high-ranking industry representative. “The most expensive component in the iPad is the display and touch-screen interface that costs $80 for all models. The 9.7-inch display is more than twice the size of the iPhone 3GS screen and costs five times as much.” The report cites a separate executive from Samsung Mobile Display, who says Apple is also placing orders with the company for displays to be used in the fourth-generation iPhone. “As far as I know, Apple will use the LCD panels for its next iPhone models. We are receiving related orders from Apple,” said the executive. Apple’s iPad, which launches April 3, uses a display technology called in-plane switching (IPS) to deliver more consistent color and wider viewing angles than those offered by more conventional LCD displays. [via AppleInsider]
NewKinetix has introduced its new Rē universal remote control accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch. Connecting to the devices via the Dock Connector, Rē works in conjunction with the company’s free Re Universal Remote Control app to control most infrared-compatible electronics. The Rē contains an “extensive” IR database for many brands and types of AV equipment, and can also learn IR codes for remotes not covered by the database. Other features include activity-based user interfaces, allowing users to see and use related buttons for several devices at once, macro functionality, an included carrying case, and the ability to set up “Favorites” lists of TV channels for easy access. The Rē universal remote control accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now and sells for $70.
In newly-published information from the Wall Street Journal, late Apple director Jerome York is revealed to have previously expressed strong negative feelings about the way Apple handled the disclosure of CEO Steve Jobs’ health issues in late 2008. Speaking with the publication late last year, York suggested that Apple had concealed Jobs’ illness from a December 2008 press release announcing that Apple would no longer attend the Macworld Expo trade show, and that Phil Schiller would appear as the keynote presenter for the company’s final presentation there. “Frankly, I wish I had resigned then,” York said, adding that the concealment of Jobs’ health concerns “disgusted” him. York also said that the only reason he didn’t resign at that point was to avoid the uproar that would have occurred once he gave his reason for leaving. Apple subsequently disclosed Jobs’ illness in two January 2009 press releases, the first revealing a mysterious weight loss issue, and the second announcing the CEO’s six-month leave of absence from running the company. Jobs ultimately received a liver transplant that he credited with saving his life.
CBS appears to be preparing to offer iPad-compatible HTML5-based video playback on its CBS.com website. Mac Rumors reports that “iPad - test” video links began to appear on the website, and clicking on these links from within the iPad Simulator—or in a browser that has its User-Agent set to identify itself as an iPad—lead to a different, non-Flash version of the video presented to standard desktop browsers. While the report claims that the videos themselves aren’t yet working, and are prominently labeled “test” in the text, the CSS files reference HTML5 and sport a number of webkit specific calls. Webkit is the browser engine used by the iPad’s Safari browser; the report states that “fullscreen mode” is working on the iPad Simulator. Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly said during a January meeting with Apple employees that few developers would be using Flash going forward as the online community focuses on HTML5 development.
Skydda Design has introduced its new TradCase and TradDuo cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Both the TradCase and TradDuo are carved from premium-quality hardwood and hand-polished; the TradCase is made from a single type of wood—cherry, walnut, or teak— while the TradDuo blends two wood types—maple and either walnut or cherry—in a vertical stripe design. Features of both cases include wooden buttons for volume and power control, open access to all other ports, controls, and the camera, and a two-piece design with removable bottom for easy docking. Skydda Design’s TradCase and TradDuo cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available now and sell for $45 and $55, respectively.
Several members of the U.S. Army’s technology command recently visited Apple headquarters to discuss the use of Apple products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, in Army business and battlefield operations. Army.mil reports that Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general and key members of his staff traveled to Apple’s Cupertino, CA headquarters on March 5, touring the company’s facilities and discussing current military use of Apple products. “The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions and toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield,” Justice said. “We’re continuing to leverage commercial technology for battlefield uses; we can’t ignore that kind of existing knowledge. Our job, as stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar, is to adopt and adapt appropriate commercial technology and offer the best possible solution to the warfighter.”
Currently, the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center (CERDEC) is helping to develop and transition two iPhone applications, one used to collect information on counter-insurgency, and the other offering a combined planning and social networking environment. “Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual,” said Ron Szymanski, CERDEC’s lead computer scientist on the project. “The Army would like to leverage Apple’s experience when designing military applications.”
Apple may be planning to match Amazon’s $9.99 pricing on books featured in the New York Time’s Best Sellers lists, according to a new report. Citing a first-hand preview of the iBookstore, App Advice reports that 27 of the 32 books featured in the NYT Best Seller section were priced at $9.99, matching the pricing of Amazon.com’s Kindle bookstore. Notably, the number four best seller was missing from the list entirely, perhaps because Apple has not yet secured a deal with the book’s publisher; among the titles not priced at $9.99, the most expensive was $12.99. In addition, one book—The Help by Kathryn Stockett—was also featured on the screen during Apple’s iPad special event, and at that time was listed at $7.99, while most of the other titles were priced at $10.99 or higher. Curiously, the report closely follows a separate article citing pricing concerns as the reason why Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to offer its titles on the iBookstore.
Proporta has unveiled its new Aluminium Lined Leather Cases for the fifth-generation iPod nano, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS. Both cases are crafted from genuine leather, and feature aluminum reinforcement for protection, a vertical flip-open design, contrast stitching, and open access to all ports, controls, and the devices’ cameras. Proporta’s Aluminium Lined Leather Cases for the fifth-generation iPod nano, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS are available now in mulberry or teal and are priced at $36 and $43, respectively.
USA Today, along with several other large companies, is preparing to run online advertisements specially-formatted for the iPad. The company will run its ads through mobile ad platform AdMarvel, which teamed up with rich media advertising firm PointRoll—owned by Gannett, which also owns USA Today—to create the ads. Max Mead, VP of business development at PointRoll, said that the iPad “has a large enough screen that you can do more with an ad. With an expandable ad, it’s almost the size of a sheet of paper or a desktop screen.” Mead said USA Today will join “an automaker, a large retailer, a large CPG conglomerate, and a pretty large hotel chain” in launching iPad-formatted ads. “You could very easily run pretty much the same ad as you do on the iPhone on the iPad,” explained Mead, “but that would not really be fully leveraging the potential…You have an opportunity on the iPad to do a lot more.” [via AppleInsider]
Incase has introduced its new Topo Flex Snap Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The Topo Flex Snap is a hybrid case that employs a hardshell element with a rubber Topo patterns that adds flexibility to the case while also boosting grip and shock protection. Other features include open access to the power button, ring/silent switch, camera, headphone port, screen, and Dock Connector port, push-through protectors for the volume buttons, an included s-stand for video viewing, and a rubberized interior. Incase’s new Topo Flex Snap Case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS is available now in three two-tone color schemes and sells for $35.
After its initial, human-based touchscreen stress testing saw the iPhone besting three rival Android handsets—the HTC Droid Eris, the Motorola Droid, and the HTC-built Google Nexus One—the MOTO Development Group has performed another set of tests using a laboratory robot to remove any inconsistencies caused by human error. The new tests again found that the iPhone bests its rivals in both “medium” and “very light” touch tests, using 7mm and 4mm test fingers, respectively. Notably, this new round of testing included the Palm Pre and BlackBerry Storm 2 in addition to the four phones that were included in the original test; the Pre was “second to iPhone in linearity in [the] ‘medium’ test,” while both the Droid Eris and Nexus One offered “solid performance” with “some waviness.” Additionally, the Droid, Pre, and Storm 2 all showed significant signal loss during the “very light” test; the Droid exhibited signal loss in the “medium” test as well. MOTO notes that “what matters most isn’t the performance of the touchscreen itself, but how well a touchscreen performs in combination with its operating system and user-interface,” but says it’s useful to look at touchscreen performance in isolation, because “it is a central ingredient in the mix and a good indicator of how satisfying a touchscreen experience is likely to be.”
Demand for the iPad among businesses may be higher than expected, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing a recent survey of 2,443 adult cell phone users carried out by Zogby International, the report states that more than half of those surveyed said they would use a tablet device such as the iPad for work. “It’s for business,” said Jim Turner, an information technology professional who recently ordered 15 iPads for his business, and plans to use the device for checking e-mail and taking notes while working on client computer systems. Although Apple itself demonstrated iPad versions of its iWork productivity applications at the device’s unveiling in January, it has mainly downplayed the iPad’s potential business appeal, instead focusing on features such as browsing, gaming, media playback, and reading. “Clearly, the iPad has a role to play in the business market,” said Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. “The demand appears to be far more diverse than I originally expected.”
Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to sell its books in the upcoming iBookstore over fears of the effect Apple’s pricing strategy could have on the pricing of electronic books. The Financial Times reports that Random House CEO Markus Dohle is not ruling out the possibility of reaching a deal with Apple before the iPad goes on sale April 3, but is moving carefully because of pricing concerns. Dohle said the new model poses “changes, in particular for our stakeholders,” that require the publisher to consult with its authors and agents before moving ahead with the deal. Hartmut Ostrowski, CEO of Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann, acknowledged the importance of the iPad and other electronic book readers in a recent press conference, stating that they are influencing the media sector “like nothing else.”
Just one week after announcing that it had reached a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone 3GS in India, Bharti Airtel will officially launch the handset on its network. According to Reuters, the 16GB model will sell for 35,500 rupees (roughly $780) while the 32GB model will be priced at 41,500 rupees (~$913). In addition, all iPhone 3GS customers will receive 500 MB of free data every month for a year from the date of activation. Bharti Airtel first launched the iPhone 3G in India in August 2008.
Marco Arment has released details on the upcoming iPad version of his popular Instapaper offline reading app. In a blog post on his site, Arment confirms that Instapaper is coming to the iPad “possibly even on day one.” The new design is described as very similar to Instapaper Pro with “slight interface tweaks and redesigns where appropriate.” The most significant visual changes have been made to the landscape view with the folders now appearing in a sidebar to the left of the main content listing. Arment mentions that he had originally planned to wait to release a native version of Instapaper until he actually had an iPad available to work with, however after seeing the pixel-doubled iPhone version in the iPad simulator he found it “completely unusable.” As a result he decided that a native iPad version was necessary sooner rather than later. Arment also plans to make Instapaper Pro a universal iPhone and iPad application as he doesn’t “want anyone subjecting themselves to the iPhone edition in pixel-doubled mode.” The universal version will be a free upgrade for existing Instapaper Pro users and will allow new users to use a single app on either the iPhone or iPad without having to purchase separate versions. Arment indicates that he plans to “experiment with more radical interface changes in the future” once he’s actually used an iPad, but he felt that having an iPad-native Instapaper app available at launch was more important than waiting to perfect the app. Additional details and screenshots can be found at the Instapaper Blog.
Rogers Wireless and Fido in Canada have announced their official smartphone tethering policy, which extends to the iPhone. According to a post on Rogers’ RedBoard blog, “[e]ffective immediately, tethering will continue to be included at no additional charge for Rogers and Fido customers who subscribe to data plans of 1 GB and above.” This announcement essentially makes the company’s prior tethering promotion its ongoing policy. The post also notes that tethering “cannot be used with the new 1 GB+ One Rate Roaming plans (except Rocket stick plans), Family Shared Data & Voice Plans and Smartphone & Rocket stick shared data plans.” Tethering capability was added to the iPhone in iPhone OS 3.0, but only select carriers have thus far enabled users to take advantage of the feature.