Apple has asked a federal judge to dismiss a consumer lawsuit regarding an iPhone app monopoly. Filed in 2011, the suit alleges Apple maintains a monopoly because the App Store is the only place to buy iOS apps. “There’s nothing illegal about creating a system that is closed in a sense,” Apple attorney Dan Wall said during a court hearing Tuesday. While the suit claims customers are forced to pay what developers charge for applications at the App Store, Wall argued that Apple doesn’t set prices, and that charging a price for distribution doesn’t violate antitrust laws. [via Bloomberg]
Apple has discussed a potential partnership with Beats Electronics involving Beats’ planned “Project Daisy” music subscription service. According to a report, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Senior Vice President Eddy Cue met with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine about the service. Held in late February, the meeting covered a variety of music-related topics, and Cook “expressed interest in Daisy’s business model and its rollout plans,” sources said, but he and Iovine “did not discuss specifics of a deal.” Prior reports have indicated that Apple is interested in launching its own streaming radio service, and Iovine recently noted that he had previously discussed a plan with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, possibly in an effort to encourage the company to strike a new deal. Both Apple and Beats declined comment. [via Reuters]
Ferrari is currently talking with Apple about “broadening a partnership on in-car entertainment,” Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo said today at the Geneva Motor Show. Di Montezemolo said Ferrari will be “more precise” about its partnership with Apple in the coming months, according to a Bloomberg report; a related press release from Ferrari notes that the company’s FF model “is also now seamlessly integrated with Apple technologies, thanks to direct access to the infotainment system via Siri voice commands and the adoption of two iPad Minis as the entertainment system of choice for the rear seat passengers.” Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue notably joined Ferrari’s board of directors last year.
Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter contains previously undiscovered video processing hardware, according to developer Panic, which performed a teardown of the accessory after noting video quality issues. In testing output from an application, Panic found that the video resolution was below 1080p, and noted that compression artifacts were showing up on screen. The company discovered an ARM processor inside the adapter, and suggested that Lightning iOS devices are using a protocol similar to AirPlay to encode video before sending it to the accessory for decoding. While the presence of the processor hints at the reason the Digital AV Adapter arrived at a surprisingly high $49 price, the video degradation was a disappointment, particularly considering the prior Dock Connector version’s output capabilities.
Notably, a comment posted by an anonymous Apple employee on Panic’s blog confirmed the findings above, and attempted to explain them. “We didn’t do this to screw the customer,” the commenter said. “We did this to specifically shift the complexity of the ‘adapter’ bit into the adapter itself, leaving the host hardware free of any concerns in regards to what was hanging off the other end of the Lightning cable.” The commenter also noted that the video quality limitations may only be temporary. “Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable… updates **will** be made available as a part of future iOS updates. When this will happen I can’t say for anonymous reasons, but these concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.” [via Panic Blog]
“Apple seeks to introduce [its iWatch] as soon as this year,” according to a new report from Bloomberg. The report follows comments from Corning, Apple’s glass-making partner for iOS devices, that its upcoming flexible Willow glass would likely not be used in any device released in the next three years; if both are accurate, the first-generation product could use a curved screen, but the screen would not be flexible.
Citing a person familiar with the company’s plans, Bloomberg reports that iWatch “features under consideration” include making calls, identifying incoming callers, and checking map coordinates; a pedometer and health sensor for data such as heart rate would also be included. The report notes that Apple “has filed at least 79 patent applications that include the word ‘wrist,’ including one for a device with a flexible screen, powered by kinetic energy,” and that Apple design chief Jony Ive “has long had an interest in watches,” having his team visit watch factories, and ordering boxes of a Nike sports watch in the mid-2000s.
A follow-on report from The Verge claims that Apple has decided to use iOS to power the watch, which has led to “battery life issues in development,” with prototypes running for “a couple days max.” The company reportedly hopes to get the battery “to last at least 4-5 days between charges.”
Apple’s award of $1.05 billion in damages from Samsung was reduced by more than 40 percent by Judge Lucy Koh today, according to a tweet from The Recorder reporter Vanessa Blum. Koh has reportedly ordered a new damages trial on the $440 million removed from the award. Apple was initially awarded the $1.05 billion in August after a jury found Samsung violated Apple patents. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has offered a refund to the family of Danny Kitchen, a British boy who spent £1,700 (about $2,550) of his parents’ money on in-app purchases in an iPad game within 15 minutes. The family believed the boy was downloading “a free game,” and entered a password for the download, which was followed by a collection of huge in-app purchases. Apple recently settled a class action lawsuit regarding freemium apps aimed at children, offering refunds for claims that minors made in-app purchases without parental knowledge or permission. [via BBC]
David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital has withdrawn its lawsuit against Apple over a proxy proposal. The proposal, which aimed to change Apple’s ability to issue preferred stock, was withdrawn from a vote at Apple’s recent shareholder meeting after it was blocked by a court ruling. Despite the lawsuit’s success, Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to it as a “silly sideshow,” and the company suggested that it was based on a misunderstanding regarding Apple’s position on preferred stock. [via AllThingsD]
A lawsuit alleges that Apple collected data from millions of mobile devices without permission, but Apple argued at a Thursday hearing that plaintiffs have failed to prove their claims. The customers have accused Apple of collecting geographical data through apps on mobile devices, even after the users chose not to share the data. The plaintiffs’ attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to designate the suit as a class action, but Apple is seeking to stop the action, claiming that it hasn’t been proven that users actually had information collected by free apps without consent, and therefore can’t show they’ve suffered harm. [via Bloomberg]
Apple screen glass supplier Corning claims that “it will probably take at least three years before companies start making flexible displays using its new Willow material,” according to a report. Corning Glass Technologies president James Clappin said that companies have yet to come up with products that can fully take advantage of Willow glass, which can roll up in a manner similar to newsprint. Recent reports have suggested that Apple could use Willow to create a curved glass display in its rumored iWatch; Apple is said to be experimenting with curved glass designs, but it appears unlikely that Willow will be used in the immediate future. Corning is currently producing Willow glass, and teaching “very big name” customers how to handle it, Clappin said. [via Bloomberg]
Apple announced this morning that iTunes U content downloads have now exceeded one billion. iTunes U features “the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content” from schools and other learning organizations, including lectures, books, assignments, quizzes, and more. Apple claims more than 1,200 universities and colleges and 1,200 K-12 schools and districts now host more than 2,500 public and thousands of private courses on iTunes U. “It’s inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U,” Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue said in a press release. “With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before―there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn.”
Apple held its annual shareholder meeting today in Cupertino, California, tabulating votes on corporate governance proposals and taking a limited number of questions from the audience. A majority of shareholders notably voted against proposals to establish a board committee on human rights, as well as a requirement that Apple executives retain 33 percent of their company shares until retirement; both proposals were opposed by Apple. The company’s existing board of directors was re-elected. Rumored announcements of a 2-for-1 stock split or an increased dividend did not materialize.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also took questions. Cook was asked if he still thought David Einhorn’s lawsuit was silly, to which Cook replied, “I absolutely do.” He still believes it was a “silly sideshow” despite a recent court ruling blocking Apple’s proxy proposal to issue preferred stock without investor approval. As for Apple’s falling stock price, Cook said, “I don’t like it either,” but mentioned that the board and management are “focused on the long term.” Cook acknowledged that Apple was looking at new categories of products, without providing any further specifics. [via CNBC]
Apple has again drawn criticism for contractor labor practices, this time in a report from Hong Kong watchdog group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). SACOM maintains that Apple is not upholding basic human rights through its monitoring of suppliers; rather, it claims that supplier factories are “intensifying a military-style management of workers.” There are allegations of denying “bathroom breaks, sufficient rest, and access to proper nutrition.” SACOM reports work weeks of 70-100 hours and alleged unpaid overtime work, among other alleged violations, concluding that “Apple suppliers are indeed sweatshops that exploit their workers.”
Responding to a protest outside of a Hong Kong Apple store, a spokeswoman for Apple China told the South China Morning Post, “We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made.” [via 9to5Mac]
Apple appears to have launched iTunes in the Cloud movie and TV show support in France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, according to new reports. French website iGen first reported the availability of Cloud movies and TV shows in France, while Twitter users in the Netherlands and Sweden have reported the same access. Notably, Apple has not yet updated its iTunes in the Cloud country list to include these three countries.
Update: Apple has confirmed that Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden now have iTunes in the Cloud movie support, while France also has TV show support. [via The Next Web]
Ken Segall, former ad agency creative director for NeXT and Apple, argues that Samsung’s recent advertising blitz has been effective against Apple. Segall writes that Samsung has spent “a fortune to run its ads,” and that “Samsung’s message has proven to be tremendously potent” — ads that allude to negative perceptions with Apple have been “scoring points.” Apple has lost momentum and needs to recalibrate, according to Segall, who compares the situation to Barack Obama after his first debate with Mitt Romney. “(Apple) deeply believes in its ideas; it just need to express them more forcefully,” he writes.
Jean-Louis Gassée, one-time head of Apple’s Products Division before the return of Steve Jobs, writes that a side effect of the iPad’s success is that it “ignores the needs of people who want to perform ‘complicated’ tasks on their iPads.” Gassée suggests that the iPad could have two user interfaces and two modes: an “easy mode” — such as the current setup that hides the iOS file system from users — and a “pro mode” for more demanding users who wish to use the iPad in more in-depth ways. He points to the proliferation of keyboards for the device and the iPad’s penetration among Fortune 500 companies as signs that more people wish to use the iPad for heavier work and creation, not just consumption, though he also notes that balancing the needs of multiple audiences will prove tricky.
Apple has become somewhat easier to deal with under Tim Cook, according to France Telecom-Orange CEO Stéphane Richard. Richard said that “Apple has (become) more flexible, paying more attention to everyone else, probably a little less arrogant than they used to be,” All Things D reports. “I think they are probably a little more under pressure, and it is quite nice,” he said.
Intel has agreed to manufacture chips for Altera, indicating that the company could make its manufacturing technology available to other large customers, such as Apple. A new report details the significance of chip designer and manufacturer Intel working with Altera, a larger company, demonstrating Intel’s willingness to serve solely as a manufacturing factory for top-tier customers. Rather than buying off-the-shelf processors for its iOS devices, Apple increasingly designs its own chips and has them manufactured by partners. With Intel’s PC business on the decline, the company could offset costs by sharing manufacturing plants. Sunit Rikhi, Vice President and General Manager of Intel custom foundry, declined to mention Apple, but noted that “If and when we are called upon to serve large mobile customers who can drive a lot more volume, we could serve them today in terms of capability.” [via Reuters]
Following up on earlier reports, Staples is now selling Apple accessories in its U.S. online store. Currently, accessories for iPad, Mac, iPhone and iPod are available, including Smart Covers, power adapters, and headphones. Staples employees recently tweeted the store would be selling Apple products; notably, the Apple TV, which was revealed in a mock-up page in January, is currently listed as “currently out of stock” on the site. [via MacRumors]
Apple’s App Review Team is now rejecting apps that use cookie tracking, according to a report. Previously, developers could open Safari to read a cookie, identifying a user’s interaction with ads, but some developers have recently seen rejections for apps using the technique. It’s speculated that Apple is rejecting these apps to increase use of its own Advertising Identifier technology. As Apple notes in its iOS 6 settings, “In the future all apps will be required to use the Advertising Identifier.” Users can opt to limit ad tracking from the Advertising Identifier through advertising, in the About section of iOS 6 settings. [via TechCrunch]
Apple has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over freemium apps aimed at children—titles that could be downloaded for free, but offered in-app game purchases. As originally reported by Law360 (subscription link), Apple will offer a $5 iTunes credit for claims that a minor bought in-game items without knowledge or permission. If the in-game items cost more than $5, Apple will offer a matching iTunes credit, and if the charges exceeded $30, the user can claim a cash refund.
A group of parents first sued Apple in 2011 over the “bait apps” in question. An email notice will be sent to more than 23 million iTunes account holders “who made a ‘Game Currency’ purchase in one or more apps.” The settlement must receive preliminary approval from a federal judge before Apple can start accepting claims. [via GigaOM]
An iPad casing manufacturer is facing sanctions from Chinese authorities for discharging waste that has turned a river “milky white.” A local water worker told the Financial Times that such waste incidents often occur weekly from a Riteng factory, which according to a waste water treatment employee has killed fish and made the river unusable for watering vegetables. Riteng is a subsidiary of Casetek, which said that the discharge was “just Chinese new year annual cleaning.” Casetek claimed the discharge had nothing to do with production — rather, it was due to a staff error during cleaning. Apple declined comment, but confirmed that Riteng does produce iPad back panels. [via Apple Insider]