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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 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.
Codality has released an update to Simplenote, its cloud-based note-taking app for the iOS platform. Simplenote 3.1 adds several new features and enhancements including improvements to tags and sharing, basic support for lists and Dropbox syncing. The latest version now supports auto-completion for adding tags to notes, renaming tags and improves tag syncing with the Simplenote service. Tags can also be used for sharing notes with other users simply by entering a name from the iOS contacts and group tags can be created to easily allow notes to be shared with multiple users at once. A basic lists feature has also been added for Premium users allowing any note to be turned into a simple list where items can be edited in-line, rearranged or crossed off. Premium users can also now configure the Simplenote service on the web to store and synchronize notes in a Dropbox account. The latest update also includes a number of smaller fixes and improvements. Simplenote 3.1 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download. The free version is ad-supported; users can choose from either a $5 one-time in-app purchase to remove the ads or a $20 per year Premium subscription which not only removes the ads but provides several additional features such as the ability to create notes by e-mail.
Both Verizon’s and Apple’s websites have stopped taking pre-orders for CDMA iPhone 4 units. According to an announcement from Verizon, pre-orders were halted at 8:10 p.m. EST yesterday, ending “the most successful first day sales in the history of the company.” Verizon’s website now indicates that customers—presumably all customers, and not just current Verizon customers—will be able to order the phone online beginning at 3:01 a.m. Eastern Time on February 9, while the handset will launch in stores at 7:00 a.m. local time the following day. Interestingly, both Apple and its GSM carrier partner AT&T sold out of their pre-order allotments of the iPhone 4 within a day, after experiencing technical issues that seemed to be more far-reaching than those faced by Verizon customers yesterday; it’s also worth noting that the Verizon iPhone’s early pre-orders were limited to current Verizon customers, while AT&T’s pre-orders were open to any qualified party.
“This was an exciting day,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer for Verizon Wireless. “In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first day launch in our history. And, when you consider these initial orders were placed between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., it is an incredible success story. It is gratifying to know that our customers responded so enthusiastically to this exclusive offer – designed to reward them for their loyalty.”
European publishing groups are set to meet later this month to discuss Apple’s recent policy changes for publishers, according to a mocoNews report. Following Apple’s recent move to reject the Sony Reader app and subsequent announcement that it is “now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase,” the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA)—which represents some 5,000 members in 80 countries—is holding a meeting with the European Online Publishers Association and the magazine association FIPP on February 17 in London to discuss Apple’s new rules. “The relationship between Apple and publishers has always been direct so its very difficult to find out what is happening elsewhere,” said Grzegorz Piechota, the European president of the INMA.
Many publishers who previously relied on web-based forms for handling subscriptions are confused with Apple’s stance. “Some say they feel betrayed,” Piechota said. “They believed that it would be a great way to access content from newspapers and magazines. So they hyped the iPad, and many of them invested in apps for it. By promoting these apps, they promoted the device. Publishers in fact helped to make the iPad successful on the market.” In explaining Apple’s inconsistencies when dealing with publishers, Piechota said, “Apple said yesterday that that in their policy with Sony Reader, they are not changing anything, just enforcing existing rules. But when they talk to publishers direct, they are saying something else. Apple has been contacting some publishers, and not contacting some. Some get emails, others get informal phone calls,” he said. “The whole process of accepting or rejecting apps is not transparent. It’s very hard to explain why some apps are being accepted and some are being refused; some apps allow you to read content that is bought somewhere else and others that won’t let you do this.” Noting that publishers in Belgium and France have taken the matter to authorities, Piechota said, “Legal action is the least wanted solution. It is slow and will damage the relationship between Apple and publishers. The first thing is a dialogue. As publishers we need to know what Apple is playing at.”
Root Cases has introduced its new line of wooden cases for the iPhone 4. Available in walnut, zebrawood, wenge, and bamboo editions, the cases offer push-through protection for the volume and sleep/wake buttons, open access to all other ports and controls, soft interior lining to protect against scratches, and a slide-on design that allows for removal of the bottom portion for docking. Root Cases’ wooden cases for iPhone 4 are available now and sell for $59 each; for more information, see our First Look article.
Updated: Comments to this article have been closed due to astroturfing by Root Cases, which pretended to be a customer interested in this product, a clone of Miniot’s iWood 4 design. We strongly urge readers not to do business with companies that engage in this sort of dishonest marketing practice, which iLounge has warned against for years.
The results of a new study by Nielsen show Apple’s iAd to be more effective than traditional TV advertising, according to an AdAge report. The five-week study, funded by Apple and Campbell’s, found that those exposed to one of the soup-maker’s iAds were more than twice as likely to recall it than those who had viewed a traditional TV ad. In addition, iAd viewers were five times more likely to remember the brand “Campbell’s,” three times more likely to remember the ad messaging, and four times more likely to buy one of the brand’s products than their TV ad-viewing counterparts. “We have a lot of data that goes many years back for TV print, out of home and radio, but we’re searching for more validated metrics in mobile,” said Jennifer Gordon, director of global advertising for Campbell’s Soups. “This does show, in really traditionally brand metric terms, that iAd really outperformed.” According to the report, the TV and mobile audiences were queried separately via mobile and online surveys, conducted with members of Nielsen’s panel and recruits from various apps, respectively.
A prototype of the second-generation iPad was present at the media event for the launch of News Corp.‘s new tablet-based newspaper The Daily. Reuters reports that an eyewitness saw the device, which the report describes as “a working model” with “a front-facing camera at the top edge of the glass screen.” The report also states that a source with knowledge of the device confirmed its existence, but added that the final release model’s feature set may differ from that of the prototype’s. Prior reports, including a mock-up rear shell spotted by iLounge at CES, have suggested that the next-generation iPad will include both front- and rear-facing cameras, as well as a slimmer, flatter body.
Sophiestication Software has released a major update to Articles, its wikipedia browsing app for iOS devices. Articles 2.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch adds a number of new features including AirPrint support and the ability to search for text within the current article and mark articles for later reading. The update also makes a number of improvements to article layouts and typography and enhances the layout for info sheets and Wikipedia tables. The light box display can now also display image captions and animated GIFs and tap-and-hold gestures can be used with image previews to copy images to the camera roll or clipboard or open links in Safari. Articles 2.0 also adds automatic text hyphenation on devices using iOS 4.2 or later and provides external URL schemes for opening Articles from other iOS applications. A number of additional fixes and improvements have also been made in the latest update. Articles 2.0 requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $1 for a limited time. An iPad version is available separately but has not yet been updated to 2.0.
Condé Nast Digital has released an update to Epicurious, its popular iOS app for browsing recipes from the award-winning food site Epicurious.com. Epicurious allows iOS device users to search and browse through more than 30,000 professionally created recipes from a variety of magazines and renowned chefs and cookbooks and easily create shopping lists from any recipe. Version 3.0 introduces the ability for users to share their favorite recipes on services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instapaper. The update also adds a new Recipe Box Sync feature available as an in-app purchase for storing a collection of favorite recipes that can be synchronized between multiple iOS devices and users’ personal online Recipe Box at Epicurious.com. Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download; Recipe Box Sync is a single $2 in-app purchase for all iOS devices on the same iTunes Store account.
Cultured Code has released an update to its popular task management app for iOS devices adding support for repeating tasks. Things 1.7 and Things for iPad 1.4 now allow users to create recurring tasks directly on their devices based on either a calendar pattern or a fixed interval after completion. Repeating tasks can optionally be synchronized with Things for Mac. Previously, repeating tasks created in Things for Mac would synchronize to the iOS apps as individual tasks and had to be managed from the Mac side. Things is available in separate iPhone/iPod touch and iPad versions: Things 1.7 for the iPhone and iPod touch ($10), Things for iPad 1.4 ($20); both are free updates for users of the corresponding previous version.
A Verizon Wireless document posted online (PDF Link) reveals that the company may throttle the data speeds of its heaviest users to ensure a better experience for other customers. “Verizon Wireless strives to provide customers the best experience when using our network, a shared resource among tens of millions of customers,” the memo reads. “To help achieve this, if you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5% of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand. Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95% of data customers aren’t negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users.” The policy is effective for anyone subscribing to a data plan or feature on February 3 or after, including all iPhone customers. [via BGR]
Code found within the third beta version of iOS 4.3 suggests the second-generation iPad will ship with a three megapixel camera. Web developer Chris Galzerano, who inspected the beta, claims that a plist file led him to a folder called “N88” which contained another plist file describing a three megapixel camera for photography use. Another plist file inspected by Galzerano suggested that the device will record 720p video—consistent with earlier reports—and that it would contain both a compass and DisplayPort compatibility, the latter either through a new physical port or, more likely, a new 30-pin dongle. As prior reports have had differing conclusions on the specifications of the second-generation iPad’s rear-facing sensor—including one based on code from the prior iOS 4.3 beta which claimed that it would be a one megapixel sensor—it remains difficult to state with any certainty which is correct.
Update: 9 to 5 Mac, which previously claimed the second-generation iPad would have a one megapixel camera, reports that the “N88” designation as referenced by Galzerano actually refers to the iPhone 3GS, thus explaining the reference to a three megapixel camera inside that folder’s plist file, thus disproving Galzerano’s findings. The report goes on to state that all iOS devices refer to the 30-pin Dock Connector as a “displayport,” and that the iPad 2’s actual codename is K94.
Following prior iPhone launch traditions, Apple has offered a handpicked collection of reviewers early access to the Verizon iPhone 4, embargoing their reviews until this morning. Their conclusions are collectively mixed, focused on four primary differences between the AT&T iPhone 4 and Verizon CDMA version, and wavering on the wisdom of making a purchase now.
Data Speeds: Virtually all of the reviewers agree that Verizon’s data speeds are much slower than AT&T’s in areas where both phones get solid service. Downloads and uploads are commonly twice as fast on AT&T’s network, so Verizon customers will see photos and videos take much longer times to upload when away from a Wi-Fi network, while apps will take longer to download and install. On the other hand, reviewers claimed that subtle redesigns to the Verizon iPhone 4’s antenna enable it to avoid “death grips” that can kill calls and data on the prior iPhone 4.
Hotspot Access: Apple’s iOS 4.2.5/4.2.6 renaming and repositioning of Tethering to become the new Personal Hotspot feature was generally praised. Personal Hotspot is now accessible from the top level of the settings menu, and though it is slow using Verizon’s network, it is expected to debut on AT&T within days of the official Verizon iPhone 4 launch.
Data Versus Calls: Confirming a known deficiency of Verizon’s CDMA network, reviewers noted that the Verizon iPhone 4 cannot make calls and receive data at the same time, as the AT&T iPhone 4 can. However, unlike the original EDGE-only iPhone, which sometimes blocked calls when data services were in use, the Verizon iPhone 4 appears to allow calls to go through and stops data services when they come in.
Call Quality: Reviewers generally agreed that calls sounded somewhat better and were less likely to drop when using the Verizon iPhone 4. However, call performance did vary between geographic regions, and The New York Times’ David Pogue suggested that Verizon’s network might buckle under a “stampede of new iPhone customers.”
Wisdom of Buying the Verizon iPhone 4: Though the reviewers were generally positive on the addition of Verizon as an iPhone service provider, several cautioned that Verizon/AT&T performance varied considerably between locations, and some warned potential Verizon customers that they would be unwise to jump on board right now. Pogue specifically noted that Apple was asked about but would not guarantee the iPhone 4’s longevity in light of the anticipated release of the fifth-generation iPhone in summer. If Apple follows past patterns, he suggests that “you’ll be stuck with an outdated phone in only five months.”
In an unexpected repeat of the problematic online launches of past iPhones, the pre-ordering systems set up by both Verizon Wireless and Apple have turned away some iPhone 4 customers who arrived for the companies’ 3:00AM sign-up process. Attempts to order the iPhone 4 through Verizon Wireless’s web site failed for more than five hours, as some customers who attempted to sign in to the ordering page were presented with a broken “Sorry, an error has occured” page, promising to get “this fixed as soon as we can.” Other customers reported successes in ordering only after extended problems with the site; one noted that “Verizon’s web site was a disaster” with an early-morning order taking an hour to get placed. Separately, some customers attempting to order the iPhone 4 through Apple’s online Apple Store website were presented with inaccurate information denying their eligibility to pre-order the phone, despite confirmations from Verizon that they were in fact eligible.
As has become common with Apple’s iPhone launch problems in recent years, Twitter discussions have popped up to express the frustration and distress of customers who have been unable to place their orders. Apple has previously made only modest attempts to apologize for pre-ordering issues, instead citing high demand for its products.
Updated 9:08AM: iLounge’s editors have been testing both Apple’s and Verizon’s ordering systems this morning with mixed results. One editor has found that adding an additional line of service to an existing account appeared to be successful in placing an order through Verizon’s site, whereas other editors have been unable to get orders placed through either Apple’s or Verizon’s pre-ordering systems. It’s obvious at this stage that some users (and some web browsers) are having different experiences than others, though the reasons for continued generic error messages on some accounts remain unclear. We’ve updated the title of this story to reflect the uncertain nature of the errors.
AT&T today announced that it plans to add 2GB of data usage to its smartphone tethering plan. According to the release, current tethering customers will automatically get the additional 2GB of monthly data usage added to their plans at no extra charge as of February 13; customers who sign up for tethering afterwards will get the additional data from the start of their tethering plan. The total cost for 4GB of data plus tethering capability will be $45 per month, the same price iPhone users paid for 2GB of data plus tethering in the past; users who exceed their data limits will be charged an overage fee of $10 per gigabyte. The change coincides with the release of an “AT&T Mobile Hotspot” app and the launch of the HTC Inspire 4G, however, the announcement makes no mention of whether a similar app will be offered for iPhone users, or if the company plans to make use of iOS 4.3’s Personal Hotspot feature. Notably, Verizon Wireless has said that it will also charge $20 for use of the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature, but the 2GB of data included in the Verizon plan is for Personal Hotspot use only, while AT&T’s extra data will be applied to collective use across all devices.
iKit has debuted its NuCharge battery case for the iPhone 4. Designed to work with either the GSM or CDMA models of the iPhone 4, the NuCharge features an integrated 1400 mAh battery, an LED battery life indicator, openings for access to the cameras, volume and sleep/wake buttons, ring/silent switch, and microphone, an integrated kickstand, and a micro USB port for charging. iKit’s NuCharge battery case for the iPhone 4 is available now and sells for $65.
Big box retail chain Best Buy has announced that it will offer the Verizon iPhone in its stores. According to the release, the iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless will be available in both Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile outlets beginning on February 10, the same day that the device launches. “The iPhone 4 is an important device for Best Buy and we are excited to help Apple and Verizon Wireless bring it to even more consumers,” said Shawn Score, president of Best Buy Mobile. “Our customers have come to expect Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores to carry the best selection of mobile phones anywhere, and offering the iPhone 4 on Verizon’s network is our latest effort to deliver on that promise.” Apple announced earlier this morning that it will begin accepting online orders on February 9 for delivery or reserve for in-store pick up. [via Mac Rumors]
Hex has unveiled its new Sport Watch Band for the sixth-generation iPod nano. Made of perforated silicone for added breathability, the Sport Watch Band is designed to be used with the Nike+ Sport Kit, and features open access to the Dock Connector, screen, and headphone port, and integrated push-through coverage for the power and volume buttons. Hex’s new Sport Watch Band for the iPod nano 6G will be available in April; pricing has yet to be announced.