Following in the footsteps of its retail partners, Apple has officially dropped the price on the 8GB iPhone 3GS, while a new report suggests the company its dropping its standard restocking fee. The 8GB iPhone 3GS is now available for $49 directly from Apple with a two-year contract; the move was widely expected, as retailers such as AT&T, Radio Shack, and Best Buy were already offering a similar discount on the device. In addition, 9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple is dropping its standard 10% restocking fee beginning tomorrow. While the report indicates that the 14 day return policy will remain in place, the absence of the restocking fee will allow potential iPhone customers to purchase both the AT&T and Verizon versions of the device and test them during the return window to see which works best for them, then return the unwanted version without penalty.
Apple has released an update to its Keynote Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for iOS 4 multitasking features and Retina Display graphics on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. The update also improves the handling of push notifications received while controlling a presentation and fixes several issues with network connectivity and connecting to Keynote ‘09. Keynote Remote 1.2 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.
Two European standards bodies have released the final specs for a new universal cell phone charging standard based on Micro-USB. In a European Commission press release, the CEN-CENELEC and ETSI announced that the “harmonised standards needed for the manufacture of data-enabled mobile phones compatible with a new common charger” are now available. “I am very happy that the European Standardisation Bodies have met our request to develop within a short space of time the technical standards necessary for a common mobile phone charger based on the work done by industry,” said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship. “Now it is time for industry to show its commitment to sell mobile phones for the new charger. The common charger will make life easier for consumers, reduce waste and benefit businesses. It is a true win-win situation.”
In June, Apple, along with Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, and Texas Instruments, signed an agreement aimed at standardizing all data-enabled cell phone chargers beginning in 2011; although Micro-USB has been chosen as the standard connector, the agreement allows Apple to bundle some form of Dock Connector to Micro-USB charging adapter with the iPhone in the EU, instead of adding a separate Micro-USB port to the device or abandoning the Dock Connector in favor of the new standard. Given the continued popularity of full-sized USB ports and Apple’s use of the same cables for non-mobile phone products including the iPod and iPad, this adapter most likely will take the form of a USB to Micro-USB adapter for current cables, rather than a redesigned Dock Connector to Micro-USB cable. [via Mac Rumors]
Sales of iPad-formatted versions of print magazines dropped towards the end of 2010, according to a new report. Citing figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, WWDMedia reports that Vanity Fair sold only 8,700 digital editions in November, down from an average of 10,500 for August, September, and October; Glamour, which sold 4,301 digital issues in September, saw sales drop 20 percent in October and another 20 percent to just 2,775 in November. GQ‘s November sales were the worst since April, when the iPad was released, and Wired saw sales of 22,000 and 23,000 in October and November, respectively, after averaging 31,000 digital sales between July in September, down from sales of over 100,000 in June. While the report notes that publishers are hopeful the sales of new iPads over the holidays will increase sales, it should be mentioned that most digital editions are priced at or above the newsstand price for print editions, with no subscription model currently available. A report from earlier this month indicated that talks between Apple and magazine publishers over the terms of a potential iTunes subscription model were at a standstill, with the two sides unable to agree on revenue and subscriber information sharing issues.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company Interval Research Corp. has filed an expanded version of its lawsuit against Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and Google’s YouTube subsidiary, providing more details in its attempt to prove patent infringement. Originally filed in August, the suit was dismissed by a federal judge in Seattle earlier this month for being too vague. The patents in question cover automatic suggestions for shopping sites, automatic location of related stories on a news site, and the presentation of information such as ads, stock quotes, news updates, or videos on a computer screen, in the periphery of the user’s main activity. The amended complaint includes more details of how the companies supposedly infringed, along with 40 exhibits, which according to the Seattle Times are largely screenshots of websites and services with specific areas highlighted. The exhibit submitted to illustrate Apple’s violations includes the top portion of an iTunes Store album listing, including the track listing and preview buttons, the buy button, a top songs and albums section for the artist, and recommendations based on what listeners of that album have purchased.
Speaking in an interview with Tech N’ Marketing, Peter Vesterbacka, CEO of Angry Birds-maker Rovio, had several complimentary things to say about Apple and its mobile gaming ecosystem. “Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right,” Vesterbacka said. “And they know what they are doing and they call the shots. Android is growing, but it’s also growing complexity at the same time. Device fragmentation not the issue, but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google centric ecosystem. And paid content just doesn’t work on Android.” He went on to say that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was “absolutely right” when he said there were more challenges for developers working with Android, adding that “[n]obody else will be able to build what Apple has built, there just isn’t that kind of market power out there.” [via MacDailyNews]
Apple and a handful of app developers have been sued—not once, but twice—over the collection and sharing of user data with outside companies. Both suits—Lalo v. Apple and Freeman v. Apple—were filed in the Northern District of California; the former was first reported by Bloomberg while the latter was spotted by Wired. Both suits appear to be heavily based on research compiled and published by the Wall Street Journal, which showed that some apps send age, gender, location, and phone identifier information to ad networks without notifying the user.
“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views,” reads the Lalo suit. The Freeman suit claims that “[d]efendant Apple, by exercising significant control over App developers and sharing profits with them, has created a ‘community of interest’ with the other Defendants to render them joint venturers, who are responsible for each other’s torts. Defendant Apple has also aided and abetted the remaining Defendants in the commission of their legal wrongs against Plaintiffs and the proposed class.” In addition to Apple, Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel, Dictionary.com, Toss It, Text4Plus, Talking Tom Cat, and Pimple Popper Lite were all named in either one or both the suits; both are seeking class action status.
- December 27, 2010
Apple has updated its Investor Relations page to indicate that it will announce its financial results for the first fiscal quarter of 2011 on Tuesday, January 18, and will conduct a conference call to discuss the results at 2:00 p.m. PT that day. As always, iLounge will be covering the conference call, and will post any relevant notes from the discussion. Apple’s quarterly results are highly anticipated as an indicator of the relative strength of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad product lines. Though the company saw a noteworthy decrease in iPod unit sales from Q1 2009 to Q1 2010, iPhone unit sales doubled, foreshadowing a year of rapidly increasing demand for the company’s touchscreen products. The results will also include sales numbers from the iPad’s first holiday quarter, expected to be spectacular, and will complete the company’s first calendar year sales numbers for the device, which stood at 7.46 million as of September 25.
Apple has started to sell Beatles-themed iTunes Gift Cards in stores. Spotted by iLounge, one card, with a value of $149, features an image of the band members in front of a white background, with the text “The Beatles Box Set” at the top. The Beatles’ digital Box Set includes remastered versions of all the band’s studio albums in iTunes LP format, as well Past Masters Vols. 1 & 2, a series of Mini Documentaries, and a film of the band’s performance at the Washington Coliseum from 1964. Another card, with a value of $50, features an image of the four band members walking down the street, but doesn’t specifically mention the band by name. The cards represent yet another extension of the partnership between Apple and the Beatles that has included prominent placement on Apple’s home page as well as a series of television commercials.
Multimedia Patent Trust (MPT), a subsidiary of telecom firm Alcatel-Lucent, has filed suit against Apple, Canon, LG, and TiVo, claiming patent infringement. Paid Content reports that MPT is claiming the companies violate four of its patents relating to digital video compression technologies, including MPEG-2 and two different varieties of MPEG-4. The company is seeking royalty payments on all “video-capable” Apple products, including iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Macs. As the report notes, the MPEG-LA was set up to collect royalties on all relevant digital video patents, but that doesn’t stop companies such as Alcatel-Lucent from suing for royalties years after negotiations are completed.
Apple has released an update to its Remote app for iOS devices adding support for AirPlay video streaming and enhancing integration with iTunes. Remote 2.1 now allows users to stream videos via AirPlay from their iTunes library to an Apple TV and access and play Movie and TV Show rentals in the iTunes library. The update also adds support for browsing and playing back Internet radio streams in iTunes and addresses issues connecting to an iTunes library or Apple TV from an iOS device. Remote 2.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has released version 3.2 of its iPhone Configuration Utility for Mac and Windows, the latest version of its iPhone configuration management utility for enterprise users. The utility allows enterprise users to create configuration profiles which can then be used to setup multiple iPhones. It is currently unknown what, if any, changes are included in the update. iPhone Configuration Utility 3.2 for Mac OS X requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later; the Windows version requires Windows 7, Vista SP1, or XP SP3, along with .NET 3.5 SP1. Both are available now as free downloads. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has announced that it expects sales of the second-generation Apple TV to top one million units later this week. According to the release, iTunes users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day. Notably, this is the first time Apple has made an official announcement regarding Apple TV sales, although Apple CEO Steve Jobs did say during the company’s most recent financial results conference call that the company has sold roughly 250,000 units since its release, meaning Apple has sold roughly 750,000 units since Jobs’ statement on October 18. Perhaps not coincidentally, Roku CEO Anthony Wood recently said that it expected to sell its one millionth set-top box by the end of this year, adding that the company’s sales actually doubled when the new Apple TV came out, thanks to the increased attention it brought to the product category.
Update: Apple has since confirmed that it did pass one million second-generation Apple TV units sold prior to Christmas.
Apple has begun airing a holiday-themed iPhone 4 commercial. Entitled “Under The Covers” and set to “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, the ad—shot in the style of Apple’s original FaceTime iPhone 4 spots—shows a mother and son on a FaceTime call with Santa. As the mother leaves the room, the young boy covers up with his bedsheet and continues talking to “Santa,” who is revealed to actually be the son’s father, calling from the family’s garage. Apple’s new iPhone 4 commercial is available for viewing now on the company’s website.
A variety of apps for iOS and Android are secretly collecting and sharing user data with outside companies, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation. The investigation looked at 101 popular apps for both platforms, and found that 56 transmitted the phone’s UDID number to third parties without users’ awareness or consent, while 47 transmitted the phone’s location, and five sent age, gender, and other personal details. The iPhone apps TextPlus 4, Paper Toss, Grindr, Pumpkin Maker, and Pandora are all named in the investigation for sending out varying amounts of data; popular music streaming app Pandora was also named for sending age, gender, location, and phone identifiers to multiple ad networks; the company claims the information is voluntarily offered by users, and isn’t linked to an individual name.
For its part, Apple claims that app makers must notify the user before requesting or transmitting such information. “We have created strong privacy protections for our customers, especially regarding location-based data,” says Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. “Privacy and trust are vitally important.” Ideally, any app transmitting information without the users’ knowledge or consent would be caught during the company’s App Store review process and rejected, but the WSJ’s report claims that at least one app transmites location to an ad network without asking permission. To carry out the investigation, the publication designed a system to intercept and record the data being transmitted by the apps, then decode the data stream. 50 iPhone and 50 Android apps were tested, along with the WSJ’s own iPhone app; although the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the Android apps, the article does note that Google doesn’t review apps, saying the developers “bear the responsibility for how they handle user information.”
Apple is now offering the iPad in the Philippines. The company is selling all six models of iPad on its online store, with prices ranging from PHP 23,990 (roughly $541) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model to PHP 40,990 (~$924) for the 64GB 3G model. As TUAW notes, the iPad’s Filipino rollout was delayed quite a bit longer from the device’s U.S. launch than was the iPhone 4’s, which launched in the country just three months after its initial introduction.
Apple’s iTunes director of global music initiatives Alex Luke has left the company to join U.K.-based major EMI. According to a 9 to 5 Mac report, Luke will serve as an executive vice president of A&R with EMI’s Capitol & Virgin Label Group, and will be based in Los Angeles. Luke joined Apple in 2003, and during his tenure was responsible the launch of the “Live From” series of live performances held at Apple’s retail stores, as well as the iTunes Originals series and the Single of the Week programs. In his new position, Luke will report directly to Dan McCarroll, the recently-appointed President of the Capitol & Virgin Label Group in North America. “Alex is simply one of the best music people I’ve had the privilege of working with,” said McCarroll in a statement. “He has a great understanding of what it takes to have a hit and to sustain success, and he is able to work in partnership with artists to deliver the positive outcomes that they truly deserve.”
Sharp plans to spend 100 billion yen (roughly $1.2 billion) to build production lines for small and midsized LCDs, the bulk of which Apple is expected to purchase for use in the iPhone, according to a new report. Citing the Nikkei business daily, Reuters reports that Sharp will begin installing the lines at a Mie Prefecture plant next year, with mass production expected to begin in the second half of 2012. Apple is expected to shoulder a large portion of the investment and buy most of the LCD panels produced; Toshiba is also said to be building a new LCD plant primarily to supply small panels to Apple, which hopes to expand procurement in order to help it gain market share in the smartphone market.
An executive at Flextronics, a parts supplier to Apple, passed on secret information about the iPad and iPhone 4 before their announcements, according to a new report. Citing a 39-page legal complaint lobbied against Walter Shimoon, a senior director of business development at Flextronics, and three other men, the Wall Street Journal reports that Shimoon shared information about Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod with an unnamed government informant. “They [Apple] have a code name for something new…It’s, it’s totally…it’s a new category altogether. And, uh, I speculate, it doesn’t have a camera in it, what I figured out. So I speculated that it’s probably a reader…Something like that…I believe it’s called…K48,” Shimoon told the informant in October 2009, nearly four months before the iPad’s introduction. During the same call, Shimoon said that Apple was working on a new version of the iPhone that would include two cameras; the iPhone 4 was launched eight months later. Shimoon is also said to have provided information about Apple sales figures for the iPhone for the third quarter of 2009, and sales forecasts for the iPhone and iPod for the fourth quarter of 2009.