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$10 million in counterfeit Apple products seized in LA


More than $10 million in counterfeit iPods, iPhones, and other electronics have been seized in downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reports that the items were taken from a downtown warehouse operation as part of a theft case started by the Los Angeles Port Police. “This was a well-funded operation, and the counterfeits looked very authentic,” said Ron Boyd, chief of the L.A. Port Police force, who added that a buyer might not have noticed anything was amiss until he or she got home and tried to hook up with iTunes. Some of the products, which were shipped from Asia, were designed to resemble older Apple products such as non-touchscreen iPod nanos. Boyd said the case highlighted the lengths counterfeiters go to in hiding their activities, as the fakes arrived as parts meant to be reassembled and labeled before being sold. “Our layered, multi-agency approach to security and theft investigations led to success,” Boyd said. “We’re proud of the teamwork that happens on a continuous basis to thwart consumer fraud, keep our port safe and enable our agencies to pursue cases to fruition and criminal prosecution.”

Verizon stalls iPhone 4 business shipments, sends empty box

Acting on an earlier tip, iLounge’s editors have now confirmed that Verizon Wireless business customers who pre-ordered Apple’s iPhone 4 have been de-prioritized in favor of consumer orders for the device. Reader reports, as well as a call to Verizon’s business customer service line, established that Verizon has not shipped phones that were ordered and paid for by business customers early on February 3, despite having delivered units earlier today to non-business “consumer” accounts.

“We never got any emails with tracking info,” reader Scott told us. “Our order status only shows this: Order Status: COMPLETED. The Verizon rep said my order is ‘Paid Pending Shipment,’ which means it hasn’t shipped yet. They are telling people that it doesn’t matter when they ship our orders because the phones can’t be activated until the 10th. But that’s not true.”

“Ordered mine on the business site,” said reader Neil, who reported that he succeeded at 3:49AM, roughly an hour after the pre-order system began accepting orders earlier than expected. “[Verizon’s] website says that the order is completed but I have not received a shipping confirm… Not cool treating business customers like this.”

“Ordered mine at 3:30am on the 3rd through my business account,” confirmed Nick, another reader. “No sign of tracking info or that it is in inventory (Status says completed as of Sunday but waiting for inventory). Why would they put their largest financial contributors behind consumer purchases? I called my rep on Friday to ask and they told me that no one would be getting their phone before Thursday.”

Another report concerns a reader who received an empty box instead of the iPhone 4 he had ordered and paid for. “I received an empty sealed box today,” explained Ric. “I got charged for the phone. I called Verizon and they told me that someone else got the phone and already activated it. They have suspended that phone but they do not know when I will get my phone. I am very PO’ed.”

Numerous readers who ordered through Verizon’s consumer division have received and activated their iPhone 4s without issues, contradicting the Verizon customer service claims that pre-ordered phones could not be activated until February 10.

Verizon iPhone 4 teardown shows GSM-compatible chip

iFixit is in the process of completing its teardown of the Verizon iPhone 4, and has found several curious differences between it and the GSM model. Most notably, the Qualcomm MDM6600 cellular communications chip inside the new handset—the same as found inside the Droid Pro world phone—is capable of handling both HSPA+ data rates of up to 14.4 Mbps and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A/Rev. B, meaning that it is technically able to support both the CDMA2000 and GSM standards, although the phone obviously has no SIM card slot. The absence of a SIM card slot precludes the device from being used primarily on a GSM network; the report suggests that the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 lacks the necessary antennas required to operate on GSM networks, although this has yet to be independently confirmed.

Interestingly, the MDM6600 was introduced alongside several other “Gobi” chips, including the MDM9600, which could allow a future iPhone model to support LTE data rates of up to 100 Mbps and backward compatibility with both dual carrier HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev. A/Rev. B networks. Apple has moved and completely redesigned the vibration motor, found in the upper corner of the GSM model, but in the lower left hand corner in the CDMA version, and while the battery of the CDMA model is listed as having the same 5.25 watt-hour capacity as its predecessor, it carries a different model number and weighs slightly less—25.6 grams versus the GSM version’s 26.9 grams. We will update this story should iFixit’s teardown reveal any other noteworthy changes.

WordUs2 releases family friendly update

Binary Dawn Interactive has released an update to WordUs2, its popular word game for iOS devices adding new three- and four-letter dictionaries suitable for younger learners. In WordUs2 players test their vocabulary by attempting to guess a mystery word given only the first letter. Players attempt to guess the word one letter at a time and must guess not only the letters in the word but also where in the word they appear. The game includes a dictionary of thousands of words and four game modes including a “Calm & Collected” mode with unlimited time and guesses and three additional challenge modes where players are given either a limited number of guesses or a limited amount of time. WordUs2 is available from the App Store for $2.

Apple holds second place in Q4 smartphone shipments

According to new data from research firm IDC, Apple held its second place spot in the worldwide smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2010 amid strong market growth overall. Nokia maintained its overall lead in the smartphone market, with 28.3 million units shipped in the fourth quarter and a 28 percent share, down from its 38.6 percent share of the market in Q4 2009. Apple’s market share actually remained flat year-over-year at 16.1 percent with shipments of 16.2 million units, as its 86.2 percent unit shipment growth nearly matched the 87.2 percent growth seen in the overall market. RIM placed third in overall market share with shipments of 14.6 million units and a 14.5 percent share, down from 19.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, while Samsung and HTC took fourth and fifth places with impressive year-over-year growth of 438.9 percent and 258.3 percent, respectively. For the year, Apple finished in third place with shipments of 47.5 million units and a 15.7 percent share of the market, trailing second-place RIM by 1.3 million units shipped and less than half a percentage point in market share.

Gmail for Mobile adds Priority Inbox

Google has updated its Gmail Mobile HTML5 web app adding support for its Priority Inbox feature. First debuted last summer for desktop browsers, Priority Inbox helps users manage their e-mail by automatically identifying important messages and organizing them separately. Users who have configured Priority Inbox in the desktop version of Gmail will now see their Priority Inbox categories displayed in the menu when accessing Gmail from Safari allowing them to more easily focus on priority messages. The updated HTML5 web app will also now display importance markers in the inbox to allow users to quickly identify which messages have been marked as important. At this time the feature does not allow users to setup Priority Inbox from the mobile version nor mark messages as important or unimportant. Gmail users can access the Gmail Mobile Web app simply by visiting from within the Safari browser. Additional information on the latest Gmail for mobile update is available at the Google Mobile Blog.

Abvio releases major updates to Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter

Abvio has released updates to Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter, its trio of iPhone GPS-based fitness apps for tracking exercise performance. The three applications are built from the same foundation, each optimized for running, cycling and walking, respectively. The apps allow users to track their workouts recording such data as time, location, distance, elevation and speed and then view their results on maps and graphs organized by routes and activities with a summary for different time periods. Users can also automatically post workout-related status updates to Twitter and Facebook and hear responses from their online friends during their workout using the built-in text-to-speech engine. Version 5.0 adds integration with leading social community allowing users to automatically sync and share their workouts in real-time with the dailymile community and hear messages of encouragement from dailymile friends during workouts. The new version also introduces a Virtual Competition feature that allows users to import a route to add a virtual competitor to run, cycle or walk against. Routes can be imported from previously recorded workouts, friends’ workouts, social fitness sites, or any other GPX-compatible data source.

Additional new features in the latest update include an enhanced text-to-speech engine with a new and improved built-in voice. An additional 16 voice options and dialects for the text-to-speech feature are also available via in-app purchase, including male and female voices in American and British English, German, French and Canadian French. The update also includes 25 configurable voice announcements for distance, time, speed and more with improved voice quality. Additional enhancements include a configurable stopwatch display with up to 40 different statistics, the ability to enter notes before and during a workout, improvements to the responsiveness of speed and pace displays, support for tracking descent, grade and energy burn in kilojoules and more. The three applications Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter are sold separately in the App Store for $5 each. Text-to-speech voices are available via in-app purchase for $1 per voice.

Apple adds Genius to iPhone iTunes Store

Apple has added the ability for iPhone and iPod touch users to view iTunes Store Genius recommendations directly on their devices. The new option can be found inside the iTunes Store app under “More” and then “Genius.” Recommendations are available for music, movies, and TV shows, and of course require that you have Genius turned on for your iTunes account. Users are able to rate individual recommendations by swiping across them and tapping on either a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icon.

HotelPal adds iPad support, brochure-like navigation

Mobiata has released an update to HotelPal, its application for finding and booking hotels on the go. HotelPal 2.0 is now a universal application providing a native iPad UI and also adds a new brochure view that lets users actually page through hotel listings. Other improvements include the ability to compare hotels side by side within the app, a simplified booking view, an inline browser for hotel photos, calendar-based pickers for easy booking and the ability to access previously booked hotels for repeat bookings. The update also adds the ability to view and sort by star ratings for hotels, multi-currency support and in-app links to obtain reservation assistance via e-mail or phone. HotelPal 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.

Gameloft posts trailer for Starfront: Collision

Gameloft has posted the first gameplay trailer for its upcoming real-time strategy game, Starfront: Collision. A futuristic strategy game set on the planet Sinistral, Starfront: Collision puts players in the role of one of three factions battling for control of the very rare and highly-coveted Xenodium crystals. Players can choose to play as either the human mining Consortium, the indigenous alien Myriad race or the Warden robot race each with its own unique units and abilities. The game will also allow up to four players to engage in massive multiplayer battles either online or over a local network connection. Starfront: Collision will be compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch and is scheduled for release on the App Store on February 10th.

Update (2/9/11): Gameloft has posted via Twitter that the release date has been moved to February 18th.

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ABC Expedition takes kids on an interactive zoo trip

Motion graphics studio Meldmedia has released its first iPad app, an educational app targeted at children from ages 1-4. Developed in partnership with the creative team at Barrett & Newbould, This Place is a Zoo! Captain Wallace’s ABC Expedition takes kids on an interactive trip to a virtual zoo accompanied by the zany Captain Alistair J. Wallace. The app teaches children their ABC’s and animal names through sights and sounds designed to encourage interaction between parents and children. Created by a team of three fathers with backgrounds in advertising and design the goal was to build an app that would engage young children while also encouraging parents to play along in the learning experience. ABC Expedition requires an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $3.

Mix: Apple lobbyists, NFL + iPad, NYT + iPhone, The Daily

Apple has hired a new team of lobbyists to represent its interests in Washington, D.C. Citing official lobbying disclosures, Politico reports that Apple hired the firm Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock on February 1 to handle “innovation” issues for the company. The report notes that Apple spent just over $1.6 million on lobbying in 2010, compared to the almost $7 million spent by Microsoft during the same period. Among the lobbyists at the firm are president Mark Isakowitz, who spent time on former President George W. Bush’s transition team, Kirk Blalock, who served under Bush as special assistant and deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, and Kristen Chadwick, another former Bush special assistant.

Some NFL teams are considering abandoning physical playbooks in favor of iPads, according to a new report. Citing Pete Walsh, head of technology for the Dallas Cowboys, Cnet reports that the Cowboys and at least a “couple” of other teams are considering the move, which could save them as much as 5,000 pages of paper printouts per game. Walsh also cited as a positive the ability to remotely wipe the device should it become lost, which could keep all the plays for the following week’s game from falling into opposition hands. Still, Walsh said all privacy and security concerns would have to be met before such a transition could be made, adding, “I’ve got that responsibility to the Jones family to make sure those [football] assets don’t get out there.”

Speaking in an interview with Beet.TV, Ann Derry, Editorial Director for Video and Television for the New York Times, said the paper was supplying reporters with iPhone 4s to record and upload video to the paper’s server. According to the report, the NYT is using an app made by Aspera to handle the file transfers; the first staffer to use the system was Andrew Ross Sorkin, who used it for his Davos coverage. The report describes the audio portion of Sorkin’s shot as “surprisingly good;” Derry herself called the iPhone 4 a “game changer” for the paper’s video news gathering operations. [via TUAW]

During yesterday’s Super Bowl, News Corp. aired a new commercial for The Daily, its new tablet-based newspaper. Touting the product as “the world’s first daily tablet newspaper,” the spot demonstrates several of the app’s features, and repeatedly shows it being displayed on an iPad, despite the fact that the commercial makes no direct reference to Apple’s tablet. The 30-second spot is available for viewing on YouTube or below in embedded form. Our full review of The Daily is available here.

First Verizon iPhone 4s arrive: biz orders later?

While some early Verizon iPhone 4 pre-orders are beginning to arrive, other early pre-order customers have reported to iLounge that their phones have yet to ship. FedEx deliveries are beginning to arrive today for customers who received e-mail confirmations that their iPhone 4s had been shipped late last week, with one report including images from a reader who received his phone. On the other hand, we have received multiple reports of unexpected delays, including ones from customers who got their pre-orders in to Verizon’s business account system at 3:45 a.m. on February 3, but have yet to receive shipment notifications, suggesting that Verizon may be fulfilling standard consumer orders prior to those of business customers. If you pre-ordered a Verizon iPhone 4, please share your current order status and where you pre-ordered your device—Verizon consumer site, Verizon business, or Apple Store—in the comments below.

White iPhone 4 placards spotted at Best Buy, The Source

Placeholders for white iPhone 4 units have started to appear at both Best Buy and The Source retail stores. Engadget reports that a placard listing a 16GB white AT&T iPhone 4 unit for $599.99 off contract—the same price as the black model—was spotted in a Houston-area Best Buy, while listings for both 16GB and 32GB on-contract white iPhone 4s on Bell were spotted at a The Source store in Canada. Evidence pointing to a near-term release of the long delayed handset has been mounting over the past few weeks; Apple has said only that it expects to launch the white iPhone 4 this Spring.

AT&T, Verizon battle over iPhone during Super Bowl

Both AT&T and Verizon had TV advertisements spotlighting the iPhone that played during last night’s Super Bowl. Verizon played its recently debuted anti-AT&T iPhone ad which asks viewers whether their network works, while AT&T showed a new ad that is a direct response to Verizon’s spot. Entitled “Answer” and debuted several days prior to the big game, the spot shows a man answering his phone, only to find that it’s his wife wishing him a happy anniversary, which he had forgotten about. While on the call, the man frantically searches on his iPhone for a place to make dinner reservations—something that’s not possible on the Verizon iPhone when no Wi-Fi is available. Towards the end of the commercial, a voiceover says “only AT&T’s network lets your iPhone talk and surf at the same time,” with similar text shown on the screen. AT&T’s new commercial is now available for viewing on YouTube or in embedded form below.

Enter the LuxMobile M.C. Escher Giveaway

Don’t forget to enter our LuxMobile M.C. Escher Giveaway. In our giveaway of the month for February, iLounge and LuxMobile are giving away 200 M.C. Escher Cases for iPhone 4. Winners will get to choose from two different designs. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on February 28, 2011 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

App Store changes: search filters, install buttons for iPad

Apple has made several notable changes to the App Store interface on the iPad. When searching for an item or term, new filter buttons appear as a toolbar at the top of the results page, allowing users to filter the results by category, release date, customer rating, price, and device compatibility, reports Macstories. Also changed is the App Store’s behavior with previously-purchased apps. In the past, if a user went to download a previously-purchased app that was not installed on the device, he or she was presented with the standard price button, followed by a “buy now” button. Only after the user was sent back to the Home screen for installation did a notice pop up that the item was previously purchased and could be installed at no charge. Now, apps that have been purchased, but are not installed on the device, are displayed with an “install” button beside them, denoting that they can be downloaded and installed without incurring further charges. [via Mac Rumors]

Miniot rolls out Contour, Cobra cases for iPhone 4

Miniot has rolled out its new iWood 4 Contour and iWood 4 Cobra cases for the iPhone 4. The Contour is a wooden iPhone 4 case, featuring a wenge base, a band of white maple that mimics the phone’s metal antenna, push-through protection for the volume and sleep/wake buttons, open access to all other ports and controls, and a slide-off bottom for easy docking. It is available in two distinct models for the GSM and CDMA variants of the iPhone 4 and sells for $189.The Cobra is an updated version of the prior iWood 4 for iPhone 4 case, adding two contrasting wood stripes to the iWood’s feature set. It is available in wenge/maple ($176) or padouk/maple ($150). Finally, the company has announced a new passive dock for its iWood 4 cases, featuring pass-through ports for improved audio and a slot for charging the iPhone while docked. It is available in a wide variety of woods and sells for $26. All of Miniot’s new accessories for the iPhone 4 are available now.

Advisory firm backs Apple CEO succession plan

An Apple shareholder proposal designed to force the company to disclose its succession plan for CEO Steve Jobs has gained the support of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a proxy-advising service. Bloomberg reports that the ISS wants Apple to disclose a CEO succession plan every year, and that the move is backed by the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “A vote for the shareholder proposal to adopt a succession planning policy is warranted in light of the company’s limited disclosure regarding this issue and the market’s expression of concern over CEO succession at Apple,” ISS said in a report. Apple, through its proxy statement (PDF Link), has asked shareholders to vote against the proposal, claiming that public disclosure of the company’s succession planning — which is required of the board and CEO annually, and included naming candidates for succession — could give competitors an unfair advantage, and give them the opportunity to poach current or future executives. The proposal will be considered at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, February 23 in building 4 on Apple’s Cupertino campus.

Verizon debuts new anti-AT&T iPhone ad

Verizon has debuted a new anti-AT&T iPhone TV advertisement. Backed by closeups of a rotating CDMA iPhone 4 shot against a black background, the ad’s announcer states, “It’s beautiful. It’s intelligent. Even genius. But does your network work?” The phone then rings, and Verizon’s worker/mascot answers, saying, “Yes, I can hear you now.” The commercial finishes with a voiceover saying “This is America’s largest and most reliable network. Verizon. Built so you can rule the air,” while the company’s 3G service map, logo, and “Rule the Air” logo is shown on the screen. The commercial is available for viewing on YouTube via the above link or in embedded form below.

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