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iPad, iPhone play part in insider trading sting

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.

Nokia files 13 new patent complaints against Apple

Nokia has filed a total of 13 new patent complaints against Apple in Europe, representing the latest chapter in a legal battle that started over one year ago. According to a Reuters report, the new complaints were filed in Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, and accuse Apple of infringing on Nokia patents related to several technologies, including touch user interfaces, on-device app stores, signal noise compression, and modular structure. “The Nokia inventions protected by these patents include…a wiping gesture on a touch screen to navigate content, or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than ten years before the launch of the iPhone,” Paul Melin, vice president of Intellectual Property at Nokia, said in a statement. “These actions add 13 further Nokia patents to the 24 already asserted against Apple in the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Delaware and Wisconsin Federal courts.”

Nokia first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”

The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents. The ITC case between the two companies is ongoing, but ITC staff issued a pre-trial memo stating that Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple’s patents. A recent report indicated that Apple has been bolstering its legal team ahead of key battles with Nokia, as well as HTC and Motorola.

iTunes 10.1.1 offers fixes for music video, instability bugs

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Apple has released iTunes 10.1.1, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, the update addresses an issue where some music videos may not play on Macs equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 9400 or 9600 graphics, resolves an issue where iTunes may unexpectedly quit when deleting a playlist that has the iTunes Sidebar showing, fixes a problem where iTunes may unexpectedly quit when connecting an iPod to a Mac equipped with a PowerPC processor, and addresses an issue where some music videos may not sync to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad. iTunes 10.1.1 is a 54.8 MB download for Mac users and is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility.

Apple releases iBooks 1.2

Apple has released an update to iBooks for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch adding support for illustrated books, AirPrint and organizing PDF files. iBooks 1.2 now supports fully illustrated books such as children’s picture books and art books which are now available for download from the iBookstore. The new version also allows users to organize their own PDF files into personal Collections that can be accessed by swiping left or right in the PDF section and can print PDF documents and iBooks notes using AirPrint. The new version also takes advantage of iOS 4.2 to automatically hyphenate text to fit more words per page. iBooks 1.2 is available from the App Store as a free download.

Apple grabs top 5 spot in Japanese cellphone market

Apple has risen to fifth place in the Japanese cellphone market, according to new data from IDC Japan. Citing the data, The Mainichi Daily News reports that Apple grabbed a 12.2 percent share of the Japanese cellphone market over the July-September period, good for fifth place behind local companies Sharp, Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Kyocera, the former of which led the market with an 18.8 percent share. Notable beyond the challenges faced by foreign companies in Japan is the fact that the numbers include all cellphones, not just smartphones, and that the iPhone is offered by only one Japanese carrier—SoftBank—which is the third-largest in the country, behind market leader NTT DoCoMo and KDDI. [via MDN]

Apple receives approval for iBookstore in Canada

Apple has received approval from Canadian regulators to open the iBookstore in the country, following a review to determine if the investment made by Apple Canada in opening the store would be of benefit to Canada. “Our Government is committed to strengthening Canada’s economy through all its sectors, especially arts and culture,” said Canadian Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore in an official release. “Apple has demonstrated how iBookstore Canada represents new opportunities for Canadian authors and publishers, and I have determined that this investment will be of net benefit to Canada.” According to the release, Apple has promised to promote Canadian-authored books in its iBookstore both in Canada and internationally, offer increased access to titles from Aboriginal authors and publishers, and assist Canadian publishers in streamlining the e-book creation process, among other commitments. Canadian users have had access to limited version of the iBookstore in the past; it is unclear how quickly Apple will expand the store’s offering based on the Minister’s approval.

Apple launches iAd on iPad with ‘Tron Legacy’ spot

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Apple has extended its iAd mobile advertising network to the iPad. Citing an Apple spokesperson, AdAge reports that a spot for Disney’s upcoming film Tron Legacy will be the first iAd to appear on the iPad, and will remain the sole iPad-formatted iAd through the end of the year. According to the report, the iAd includes nearly 10 minutes of video content, images from the movie, a theater locator with showtimes, a preview of the film’s Daft Punk-scored soundtrack with the ability to purchase the album from iTunes without leaving the ad, and the ability to send an email promoting the movie from within the ad. “Disney and Apple are excited to debut the ‘Tron Legacy’ iAd today as a special preview of iAd for iPad, which launches next year,” said the companies in a statement for Ad Age. “iAd brings ‘Tron’s’ pulsing energy and vivid graphic style to iPad’s stunning display, creating a truly immersive ad experience.” In addition, Apple also told AdAge that many of the early challenges that led to lengthy ad creation processes have been overcome.

Apple removes iOS jailbreak detection API

Apple has quietly removed or disabled an API meant to allow security software to detect jailbroken devices from afar, only months after adding it to iOS. NetworkWorld reports that the API, introduced in iOS 4.0, was part of a bundle of mobile device management APIs, but is not functional under iOS 4.2. In simple terms, the API allowed security software to remotely query the OS to see if it had been compromised, but according to one security engineer, the API was simple one piece of a larger set of checks used to determine jailbreak status. “We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Joe Owen, vice president of engineering at Sybase, which offers Afaria device management software. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Owen added that the API itself might not have been 100 percent reliable, as certain jailbreak routines could have compromised its functionality. “It’s an interesting concept - asking the OS to tell you if it has been compromised,” he added. “Because a smart attacker might first change that very part of the OS. Jailbreaks often get better and better at disguising the fact that anything has been compromised.” Enterprises used the API, and still employ other jailbreak detection techniques, to block jailbroken devices from accessing potentially sensitive corporate data. Apple has yet to acknowledge the change in API status or give any reason for its apparent removal.

Apple searching for Verizon iPad engineer

A new Apple job posting reveals that the company is looking for a Verizon iPad engineer. The job carries the official title of Verizon iPad System Engineer, but surprisingly doesn’t involve work on any cellular radio or network technology. Instead, the iPad System Engineer will “work with the carrier business teams, business customers, and Apple sales resources to drive the adoption of iPad in enterprise accounts,” and will be responsible for “developing carrier relationships within the carrier technical teams.” The listing calls for someone with enterprise sales experience, knowledge of VPN, Wi-Fi, and enterprise security technologies, and, if possible, hands-on experience with Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and Exchange Server. While it appears as though the position could be aimed at helping to drive enterprise sales of the Wi-Fi-only iPad at Verizon, it also serves as further evidence of the expanding collaborative relationship between Apple and Verizon. [via Engadget | Electronista]

Toshiba building plant to make LCDs for Apple

  • December 13, 2010
  • Apple,

Toshiba will spend roughly $1.2 billion to build a new factory for making small LCD panels, primarily for Apple, according to a new report. Citing the Nikkei business daily, Reuters reports that the factory will be built in the Ishikawa prefecture and will produce high-resolution, low-temperature polysilicon LCD panels. Work on the plant is expected to start by early next year with production expected to begin in the second half of 2011; Toshiba already makes such panels at a nearby factory, and its month production capacity of 8.55 million units is expected to more than double with the new factory. Notably, the report claims that Apple will invest a portion of the investment necessary to build the new factory; the report did not indicate in which product or products the panels may be used.

Judge dismisses patent complaint against Apple

  • December 13, 2010
  • Apple,

A federal judge in Seattle has dismissed a patent infringement complaint filed against Apple and several other tech companies for being too vague. The lawsuit was filed by Interval Licensing, a company controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and alleged that Apple, along with Google, YouTube, Facebook, AOL, eBay, Netflix, Staples, and OfficeMax, infringes on four patents owned by Interval. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Google and Apple filed motions to dismiss the suit, claiming that the complaint didn’t specify which of the various companies’ products were infringing. “The allegations in the complaint are spartan,” wrote U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in her decision. Interval has until December 28 to file an amended complaint, which a spokesperson for Allen indicated was in the company’s plans, calling the dismissal a “procedural issue.”

Apple adds iTun.es URLs, playlists to Ping

Apple has started using its iTun.es domain as a URL shortener, while adding playlist sharing to Ping, its new music-focused social network. The iTun.es domain, which Apple purchased in 2006, is now used for shortening URLs in Twitter updates sent from Ping. As 9 to 5 Mac notes, Apple previously used the t.co URL shortening service with Ping. In addition, Apple has added the ability for Ping users to create playlists which can be shared, added to by friends, rated, and reviewed. To create a playlist, users simply need to click on the “Create a Ping Playlist” link on the right side of Ping’s Recent Activity page, and then search for songs to add—unfortunately, users are currently unable to import previously made iTunes playlists into Ping.

Apple bidding on Nortel wireless patents

Apple is among several companies expected to bid on patents owned by telecom company Nortel Networks. Reuters reports that the patents, which pertain to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), are expected to draw bids Apple, Google, Motorola, and Research In Motion as the companies fight legal battles over patents related to mobile handsets. The patents are part of an auction of bankrupt Nortel Networks’ portfolio of intellectual property, which also includes patents relating to optical and data networking, Internet, Internet advertising, voice and personal computers. The auction is said to have been underway for about seven months. [via Mac Rumors]

Costco confirms break with Apple

As first reported by iLounge in October, membership club Costco has confirmed that it is phasing out all Apple products per a mutual agreement between the two companies. Speaking to The Seattle Times, Costco CFO Richard Galanti said that the company had sold iPods and iTunes Gift Cards for years, but Apple had never allowed the retailer to sell its products online, as it did other retailers. “In the past couple months, we agreed to wind down,” he added. Costco is the third-largest retailer in the U.S., with 425 stateside warehouses, more than a quarter of which are in Apple’s home state of California.

90 second song previews appear on iTunes Store

Apple has begun the process of rolling out 90 second song previews on the iTunes Store. According to a letter from Apple to its music distribution and label partners that leaked online last month, the company is increasing the length of music previews on the iTunes Store in the U.S. from 30 seconds to 90 seconds for all songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length. The letter also stated that by continuing to offer their music on the iTunes Store, the labels are indicating acceptance of the new terms, meaning that any label not wishing to participate would need to pull their music from the store. Notably, it seems the lengthier new previews are appearing on top/featured songs and albums first, while many older, less popular titles have yet to see their preview times increased. [via BGR]

App Store promo codes now work internationally

Apple has removed its restrictions on where App Store promo codes can be used, allowing developers to send codes to journalists and other users worldwide. “Your promo code distribution is no longer limited to U.S. customers,” says the Apple alert, reposted by Mackinando (Translated Link). “Promo codes in iTunes Connect can now be redeemed by all App Store customers worldwide. Your Team Agent can request 50 codes per version of your app in iTunes Connect and your customers can redeem these codes in any App Store. To learn more about requesting promo codes in iTunes Connect, see the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.” [via Mac Rumors]

iPhone game specialist leaves Apple

Long time game designer and programmer Graeme Devine has left Apple’s iPhone Game Technologies division. According to Kotaku, Devine’s last day with the company was Friday. “My job there was basically to make gaming on the iOS devices fantastic,” Devine said. “Basically that meant looking at the technologies involved and making sure the software played well with the hardware, to look at upcoming hardware/API and say ‘Yup, that is a good thing’. Apple didn’t have an in-house game designer before me so I think it was pretty unique, game technologies touch everything from the graphics stack to touch latency to push notifications. No other app type covers so many technologies and having someone there to validate and help shape that was basically my day job.” Devine, who joined the company in November 2009, said that gamers shouldn’t worry about his departure from the company, saying, “I can’t comment on what’s next inside Apple, but I can tell you, they really do ‘get’ gaming.”

Apple lowers prices on refurb iPads, adds 3G models

Apple has lowered its prices on its refurbished iPad Wi-Fi units while adding 3G offerings. Compared to the prior discount of $50 off retail for Wi-Fi models, the 16GB model is now $429, or $70 lower than retail units, while the 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models have seen their prices slashed to $499 and $599, respectively, a discount of $100 off retail. The refurbished Wi-Fi + 3G models are discounted $50 off of retail bringing their pricing to $579-$779. Apple first started selling refurbished iPads in September; all refurbished units include a standard one-year limited warranty.

MarketWatch names Jobs ‘CEO of the Decade’

  • December 8, 2010
  • Apple,

MarketWatch has named Apple CEO Steve Jobs the “CEO of the Decade.” In a lengthy profile accompanying the award, Jobs is praised for turning the company around in the late ‘90s, for the stream of successful product introductions—iTunes, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad—that have come since, and for driving the company’s stock price upward. “The resurrection of Apple is just the most astounding story that’s probably happened in business in at least a decade — you might be able to go further and say it’s a half-century,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, a technology-industry think tank. “It’s on par with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell in terms of its total impact.” The article also compares Jobs to Walt Disney; Jobs served as CEO of Pixar for much of the decade before selling the animation studio to The Walt Disney Company, in turn becoming its biggest individual shareholder and securing himself a seat on the board.

European telcos claim Apple, Google should pay for network improvements

A group of European carriers is arguing that companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook should help pay for the multi-billion dollar network investments needed to support their bandwidth-intensive services, according to a Bloomberg report. “Service providers are flooding networks with no incentive” to cut costs, said France Telecom Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard last month. “It’s necessary to put in place a system of payments by service providers as a function of their use.” Richard addressed the issue at the “Le Web” conference in Paris this week, and has joined with Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe and Telefonica SA CEO Cesar Alierta in arguing for a new business model. Bernabe said that the disparity between investments and revenue “is set to compromise the economic sustainability of the current business model for telecom companies,” adding that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Skype “increasingly look like integrated operators in the telecom network sector.”

The article sites IDC as estimating that the number of mobile data connections in western Europe will rise by an average of 15 percent a year to 270 million in 2014, while overall end-user revenue will fall about 1 percent a year. Canalys adds that carriers’ average spending on network infrastructure over the same period will jump 28 percent to roughly $3.8 billion. Companies like Google and Yahoo! “use Telefonica’s networks for free, which is good news for them and a tragedy for us,” Alierta said in February. “That can’t continue.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the service providers themselves don’t agree with the carriers’ position. “Currently about 40 percent of our expenses go to networks anyway—servers, peering, our content delivery network, and other resources,” said Giuseppe de Martino, legal and regulatory director for Paris-based online-video service Dailymotion SA. “If telecom operators want us to share in their expenses, perhaps we should talk about sharing subscription revenues as well.”

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