Apple has announced that the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad will be available in China on Friday. Both iPads will be available through Apple retail stores, the Apple online store, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. The Wi-Fi versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad went on sale in China on Dec. 7, with plans to release the cellular models within a month; Apple CEO Tim Cook personally traveled to China to speak with leading cellular providers before the announcement was made.
The release of iOS 6.1 could be coming soon, suggests a recent report. Apple’s fifth beta version of 6.1 — which is undergoing “extensive internal testing,” and deals mostly with bug fixes and optimizations — may wind up being the gold master build. If everything remains on track, this version will be released to developers shortly, followed by a public release. [via iFun (translated link)]
Apple has reportedly decreased orders for LCD screens and other iPhone 5 parts due to “weak demand.” The company has asked Japan Display Inc., Sharp, and LG Display Co. to cut their LCD panel shipments by about 50 percent, according to sources — down from 65 million screens in the first quarter, leading observers to believe sales aren’t as high as Apple expected. Other component orders were also decreased. Apple has not yet commented on the reports, which have apparently contributed to declines in its stock this morning. [via San Jose Mercury News]
Apple TV has added an app for Watchever video service in Germany, according to reports. Watchever is a Netflix-style streaming video service that offers movies and TV series for a monthly fee. This is the first time Apple has added a service to Apple TV that is only available internationally, with the service limited to one country — in this case, Germany. It raises the possibility that Apple could add more smaller, more regional services to Apple TV going forward. [via The Next Web]
Recent reports claim that both the fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will launch in March, as noted by an analyst.
iLounge has heard numerous indications, including several from reliable sources, that Apple will be capable of launching the next full-sized iPad in March, right around the one-year anniversary of the third-generation model. Based on what we’ve seen at this point, the device will have a dramatically thinner bezel—think only a little larger than the 9.7” screen on the left and right sides, a thinner body, and a chamfered body design that’s effectively an elongated version of the iPad mini and iPod touch. Our sources are not so confident about the supposed March launch of the next iPad mini; however, all indications are that its body will be nearly identical to the current model, with a Retina display inside.
In an interview with the Shanghai Evening News, Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller responded to rumours of a cheaper iPhone, essentially stating that Apple will continue to focus on producing the best quality iPhone possible and will not cut corners on its iPhone design simply to produce an inexpensive smartphone for the mass market.
Speaking regarding Apple’s products in China, Schiller noted that the Chinese market has already evolved from non-smartphones to cheap smartphones, but that despite their popularity, this will not be the future of Apple’s products. Schiller emphasized that Apple considers using only the “best technology available” in every product that it creates, and that Apple continues to make the majority of profit despite only owning a relatively small market share of smartphones.
Update: Reuters has issued a brief statement that it has withdrawn the prior story due to the Shanghai Evening News report being “subsequently updated with substantial changes to its content.” Notably, Reuters has indicated that no replacement story will be issued. There is some confusion as to the reasoning for this, as the Shanghai Evening News reports does not appear to have substantially changed since its initial publication by English media, however there has been some speculation that Schiller’s comments may have been misinterpreted or mistranslated.
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China Mobile Chairman Xi Gouhua earlier today to discuss “matters of cooperation” according to a China Mobile spokesperson. This latest move suggests that Apple and China Mobile may be moving toward a deal. The iPhone 5 was released in December on China Unicom and China Telecom, however Apple has yet to reach an agreement with China Mobile—the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers—despite several years of talks.
Cook also met with government officials and partners earlier this week, including China’s minister for industry and information techonlogy, and senior executives from China Unicom. More details on Apple’s talks with China Mobile are unavailable due to a confidentiality agreement between both parties.
You’ve already seen dozens of our pre-show reports from Las Vegas, but today’s the day when the 2013 International CES officially opens for business. Completely filling the Las Vegas Convention Center’s floor space, offices, and meeting rooms for the rest of this week—as well as the nearby LVH and just about every other hotel—CES is going to be packed from edge to edge with new product and service announcements—many of potential interest to iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac users.
iLounge’s team has been in town for days now, meeting with leading developers from around the world. We’ve shared “under construction” photos from the massive 120,000-foot iLounge Pavilion at CES on our Twitter account, and posted everything from First Looks at new products to company-by-company previews of what’s about to be shown. Join us today at CES.iLounge.com for plenty more live coverage of all things Apple from the show floor—we’re very excited by what we’ve seen so far, and can’t wait to share more with you.
New App Store statistics released by Apple today include several milestones: 40 billion unique downloads of over 775,000 apps by over 500 million active accounts. The 40 billion downloads notably do not include re-downloads or updates, but do include nearly 20 billion downloads in 2012 alone—a huge uptick in growth reflecting iOS’s increased user base, availability of apps, and comfort with apps. Apple notably hit the 25 billion mark in March 2012.
While the pace of downloads continues to quicken, the number of apps doesn’t appear to have grown as dramatically: Apple’s 775,000 app number is up from 550,000 in early 2012, a significant increase that the company is attempting to bolster further. In its press release announcing the latest statistics, Apple also appealed to developers by noting various individual developer successes: tens of millions of downloads for inexpensive games and apps, over $100 million of revenue for freemium titles, and growth of tiny developers into medium-sized businesses.
Alongside the massive iLounge Pavilion at the 2013 International CES, enterprise technology-focused publication MacTech will offer MacTech Insight, a CES conference track focused primarily on technical topics related to Apple’s products and services. Starting at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 10, MacTech Insight will offer sessions on topics including iCloud, storage solutions, content and app creation, organization-wide mobile device management, backing up data, and home automation.
Same-day admission to the one-day MacTech Insight conference track is $500, and includes access to the CES show floor; use the coupon code MT25P for a 25% discount off the regular registration price. The conference will take place in North Hall N260, up the escalators from the iLounge Pavilion’s North Hall show floor area. A full list of conference topics and a registration link can be found here.
Apple has announced that it will release its Q1 2013 earnings on Jan. 23, 2013. A conference call will start at 5 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Pacific Time, according to the company’s investor page. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer previously said that the company expects revenue of $52 billion in Q1 2013.
Apple’s false advertising claim over Amazon’s use of “app store” has been dismissed, according to a report. The claim was part of Apple’s lawsuit against Amazon for use of the term “app store,” a suit that began in March 2011. As the court filing notes, “The mere use of ‘Appstore’ by Amazon to designate a site for viewing and downloading/purchasing apps cannot be construed as a representation that the nature, characteristics, or quality of the Amazon Appstore is the same as that of that of the Apple App Store.” It’s worth noting that this is only a partial summary judgment, and one of six parts of Apple’s case, so the case will continue. [via Bloomberg, The Verge]
Apple continues to work on stylus technologies for its iOS devices, as seen in a recent patent. The stylus uses an electrode at the tip to affect the stylus’ reaction to a touchscreen, similar to what Griffin did in its previously-released iMarker and Crayola ColorStudio HD.
This wouldn’t be the first time Apple’s filed a patent for an active stylus of some sort. In May, an Apple patent application discussed a battery-powered stylus that could provide haptic feedback. [via Patently Apple]
Apple’s online store has dropped in holiday customer satisfaction, according to a recent survey. The ForeSee Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index measures customer experience based on more than 24,000 surveys collected between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Apple earned an 80 rating, down from an 83, which is the company’s lowest score in four years — this is the eighth annual report. Though it’s unclear as to how many of the customers surveyed specifically rated Apple, the number of responses and popularity of Apple’s online store lend credence to the results. Amazon topped the list with an 88 rating.
Some iOS 6 users have reported that Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature wasn’t automatically turned off by their devices on New Year’s Day. Though this hasn’t been a problem for every user, manually disabling and re-enabling Do Not Disturb is a quick fix for those having issues. A new year’s bug is nothing new for iOS users — in 2011, for instance, alarms failed to go off after being set on iOS devices.
Ironically, Apple debuted a new television ad yesterday promoting its Do Not Disturb feature, the same day the bug affected users. It stars Venus and Serena Williams, who are playing ping pong against the narrator in a dream — a dream that continues due to Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature.
Updated: Apple has acknowledged the bug on its support site. It announced the Do Not Disturb feature will “resume normal functionality after January 7, 2013.” Before that, Apple recommends turning the feature on or off manually.
Developers have seen references to the next-generation iPhone and iOS 7 in app usage logs, according to a new report. One particular developer noted Apple has been testing hardware identified as “iPhone 6.1,” powered by a device running iOS 7. The iPhone 5 is identified as either “iPhone 5.1” or “iPhone 5.2,” depending on the model and 4G band. Because the developer app requests come from an Apple Cupertino IP address, it’s unlikely this new data is faked, and highly possible that apps running on the new device and operating system are already being tested. [via The Next Web]
Samsung could be fined up to $14.8 Billion by the European commission for attempting to use standard-essential 3G patents to ban sales of the iPhone and iPad in Europe, according to a new report. The fines could total 10 percent of a company’s worldwide revenues — Samsung took in $148.9 billion in 2011. While Apple has sought bans due to infringements of specific, non-standard patents, Samsung has often used its standard-essential patents to seek bans. Because Apple agreed to pay a licensing fee to Samsung for those 3G patents, the commission decided Samsung’s requests for sales bans were unjustified. An official statement of objections was issued by the commission, and Samsung will respond before the commission makes any further decisions. [via The Guardian]
Apple has been fined 1.03 million yuan ($165,908) for selling unlicensed e-books in China. A Beijing court ruled against the company on Thursday, according to a report out of China. The money will be paid to eight Chinese writers and two companies, as third-party apps featuring unlicensed versions of their books were available for download. In the United States, Apple is effectively able to avoid liability for third-party copyright violations within apps, simply removing them from the App Store when violations are reported. [via Xinhuanet]
Conflicting reports have recently surfaced regarding the current state of working conditions in the factories of Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn. Envoyé Spécial, a French news investigation show, sent undercover reporters to the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory and found few changes following promised improvements from Apple earlier in 2012. According to the story — which ran a few weeks ago — reporters found some workers living in dorms without electricity, running water, or elevators. Also, some student employees were allegedly working at Foxconn because their school administrators threatened to take away diplomas if they didn’t go to work.
However, a New York Times report notes Apple and Foxconn have started to carry out reforms to improve working conditions in factories, as “interviews with more than 70 Foxconn employees in multiple cities indicate a shift among the people on iPad and iPhone assembly lines.” An anecdote about a female employee receiving a sturdy chair with a high back to replace a prior short stool is included in the report, as are other reforms, including protective foam on ceilings and automatic shut-off devices on machines. Foxconn has also announced that increased wages and decreased weekly work hours will be fully enacted by July 2013. [via Engadget]
As the latest in a series of reports regarding screen sourcing plans for new iOS devices, Apple is again reportedly discussing IGZO panel production with Sharp for possible inclusion in its next generation iPads and iPhones, according to a Digitimes story that cites unnamed industry sources. These sources claim that Apple is evaluating how many IGZO panels will be available in 2013. Speculation that Apple would use Sharp’s thin, low-power, high pixel density IGZO displays in future devices has continued for some time, but actual products with the new technology have only recently arrived on the market, and in limited quantities. Apple and other companies have reportedly made substantial investments in Sharp to keep the financially unstable company afloat, in large part due to its screen production technologies. [via Digitimes]