Apple and Starbucks have expanded their long-running “Pick of the Week” promotion to include apps. The promotion, which debuted in April 2008, has offered a complimentary song or music video every week as a free download for Starbucks customers, via a card with a redeemable promo code on the back. Cnet reports that the apps are being distributed in the same manner, with the first app to be offered being Shazam Encore, the music-identifying app that normally sells for $5.99. The report states that Starbucks declined to comment on whether the apps take the place of that week’s music track or video.
Apple may be working behind the scenes to convince iOS game developers to raise their prices on certain titles, according to a Develop report. Speaking on stage at Edinburgh Interactive, Steve Ackerman, managing director of UK studio Somethin’ Else said, “Obviously Apple doesn’t promise anything in terms of promoting games, but before the release of Papa Sangre they said they were very interested in the game, and that they might promote it.” He continued, “They asked us how much we were going to sell it for, and we said maybe ₤1.99. They said ‘you must be joking, this is a premium app, this is worth more than the price of coffee.’” The game eventually launched at £3.99/$4.99, and has since sold more than 50,000 copies. It is unclear how common a practice this might be for Apple, or to how many developers it may offer pricing advice. [via Pocket Gamer]
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has started trial production of Apple’s next-generation A6 processor, according to a new report. Citing industry sources, Taiwan Economic News reports that the production design is on schedule to be “taped out” in the first quarter of next year and publicly unveiled in the second quarter of 2012. The report states that TSMC is using a 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technologies in the production of the A6, which once again is based on ARM architecture. TSMC was previously capable of handling processor production for Apple, according to the report, but had not pursued a relationship with the company due to limited production lines that were fully booked by existing customers including Nvidia and Qualcomm. If Apple follows its pattern of the last two years, it will debut the A6 in its next-generation iPad next year. [via BGR]
Apple is planning to hold its traditional music event on Wednesday, September 7, according to a new report. Citing a report from Japanese-language Kodawarsian based on information from a source “in the know,” Mac Rumors reports that the event’s timing is similar to events held the last three years, on September 1, 2010, September 9, 2009, and September 9, 2008, respectively. The website for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts—Apple’s preferred venue for the event in past years—shows no programs scheduled for September 7, suggesting that the space would be available. As noted in the report, Apple has normally used the event to introduce new iPod models, however, the company is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPhone instead of or in addition to whatever iPod models it may have ready as it did not announce a new iPhone at its earlier WWDC event, which it had done the three years prior.
Update: Jim Dalrymple of the Loop claims that Apple will not hold an event on September 7.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has said it will investigate a complaint of patent infringement filed by Apple against HTC. Bloomberg reports that in the complaint Apple is targeting HTC’s Flyer tablet computers as well as the Droid Incredible, Wildfire, EVO 4G and Desire phones, claiming that they infringe five patents related to software architecture and user interfaces in portable devices, hardware for touchscreens, and movement sensors. Notably, the ITC ruled last month that HTC violated two Apple patents in some of its Android-based phones. “HTC respects intellectual property and will continue to protect and defend its protected innovations,” Grace Lei, general counsel at HTC, said in an e-mail. “We will fully cooperate with the ITC’s investigation and look forward to showing that we are not in violation of any of Apple’s patents.” HTC released its seven-inch Flyer tablet in the U.S. in March.
Apple has filed a complaint against Motorola over its Xoom tablet in Europe. Citing a passage from Apple’s complaint against Samsung that led to a preliminary injunction, FOSS Patents reports that Apple has filed a similar complaint against Motorola over the design of its Xoom tablet, but that the passage in question doesn’t specify whether Apple is also seeking a preliminary injunction against Motorola. Apple and Motorola’s legal battle dates back to October 2010 when Motorola sued Apple for patent infringement, leading to a countersuit from Apple.
Apple has started sending app purchase notification emails to iTunes Store users in an effort to curb app purchase fraud. According to Mac Rumors, an email is sent when a user’s Apple ID is used to make a purchase on the App Store from a new device. One such email—reprinted in the report—states, “Your Apple ID [redacted] was just used to purchase [a specific app] from the App Store on a computer or device that had not previously been associated with that Apple ID. If you made this purchase, you can disregard this email. This email was sent as a safeguard designed to protect you against unauthorized purchases. If you did not make this purchase, we recommend that you go to iforgot.apple.com to change your password.” The report notes that Apple already requires credit card users to reenter the three or four digit CID number from their credit cards to authenticate new devices, but no similar authentication system is in place for users with gift card balances.
Apple and five leading U.S. book publishers have been hit with a class-action lawsuit over eBook pricing. According to a statement on the website of Hagens Berman, the firm that filed the suit, Apple, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster are accused of colluding to increase the prices on popular eBook titles in order to boost profits and force Amazon to abandon its “pro-consumer discount pricing.” The suit claims that Apple and the publishers are in violation of a variety of federal and state antitrust laws, the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act, and the Unfair Competition Act, and, if approved, would represent any purchaser of an eBook published by a major publisher after the adoption of the agency model—the pricing model used on the iBookstore. It seeks damages for the purchase od the books, an injunction against pricing eBooks with the agency model and “the forfeiture of the illegal profits received by the defendants as a result of their anticompetitive conduct.” [via TUAW]
Marking another major milestone in its 15-year resurgence, Apple today passed Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company in the world. As of this writing, Apple’s shares are priced at $365.79, giving the Cupertino, CA-based company a market capitalization of $363.95 billion, ever so slightly ahead of Exxon, which, at $70.01 per share, has a market cap of $363.78 billion, according to Marketwatch. As with any stock-based company claim, Apple’s position as the world’s most valuable company is subject to the volatile stock market and could change from day to day or hour to hour. That said, even briefly holding such a prestigious title is quite an achievement for the once nearly liquidated company, and deserves special recognition.
Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union. Citing German-language dpa, FOSS Patents reports that the injunction bars distribution of Samsung’s largest tablet in the entire European Union, save for the Netherlands. In its argument supporting the injunction, Apple claimed that the Tab imitates the iPad and infringes on various IP rights owned by Apple. Apple asked for an injunction under which Samsung is threatened with fines of up to €250,000 (roughly $356,000) for each violation or imprisonment of Samsung’s management in the event of continued infringement, which are “standard sanctions” under German law, according to the report. Notably, Florian Mueller, the author of the post, is a resident of Germany, and states that the Düsseldorf district court—in which the case is being tried—is similar to the Eastern District court of Texas in its tendency to side with the patent holders in such disputes.
Apple over the weekend released the fifth beta version of its upcoming iOS 5 operating system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Listed as build 9A5288d and available exclusively to paid iOS developers, the release does not appear to include any major changes from prior versions, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 5 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for Google, has posted an open letter in which he accuses Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and others of waging “a hostile, organized campaign against Android” using what he calls “bogus” patents. “They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” he writes.
“This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they’re really worth,” Drummond continues. “The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion. Fortunately, the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means — which means these deals are likely to draw regulatory scrutiny, and this patent bubble will pop.”
Following the publication of Drummond’s post, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith stated on Twitter that Microsoft asked Google to bid jointly for the Nortel patents, and that they said no, a claim corroborated by screenshot of an email to Smith from Google General Counsel Kent Walker stating as much, which was published online by Frank X. Shaw of Microsoft. Notably, Google attempted to purchase the Nortel patents on its own, despite its inference that they are of a “dubious” nature; Apple has yet to respond on the issue.
Apple has been fined by the Korea Communications Commission over the iPhone location tracking issue that arose earlier this year. Reuters reports that Apple’s South Korean unit was fined 3 million won, or roughly $2,855, due to the fact that iPhones were, according to Apple, “maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around [the user’s] current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from [the user’s] iPhone, to help [the user’s] iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” When the file containing the database was initially discovered, it set off a wave of speculation that Apple was secretly tracking the locations of its users, something the company expressly denied in its subsequent Q & A document.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced that it will investigate an Apple complaint filed against Samsung claiming patent infringement. According to an announcement on the ITC website, the investigation will include “mobile phone handsets and tablet computers, in addition to components such as software, touchpads, and hardware interfaces;” Apple is said to be seeking an exclusion order and cease and desist orders. As noted when Apple originally filed its complaint against Samsung in July, Apple is likely targeting models similar to the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1, all of which it is attempting to block with a preliminary injunction in the companies’ ongoing case in California.
Apple has once again lowered its shipping times for the iPad 2. For the first time since the device’s launch in March, all models of the iPad 2 are listed as shipping “Within 24hrs” on Apple’s U.S. online store. Apple most recently dopped the shipment estimate to 1-3 business days; the estimated wait for an iPad 2 as recently as July 1 was 1-2 weeks.
Apple has launched a beta version of its online tools for iCloud at iCloud.com, and has also announced pricing for the service. The online tools include revised versions of Mail, Calendar, and Contacts, with a “Find My iPhone” button that currently sends users back to me.com, and an iWork button that sends users to an Apple developer site where, if registered as a paid developer, they can download pre-release versions of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers that work with iCloud’s “Documents in the Cloud” service. In regards to pricing, Apple’s website states that all users get 5GB of free storage, but should they need more, 10GB of extra storage will be available for $20 per year, 20GB will run $40 per year, and 50GB of additional storage will cost $100 a year. Notably, purchase music, apps, books, and the user’s Photo Stream do not count against the 5GB total. Apple is expected to launch iCloud for all users this fall. [via Ars Technica]
Apple has rolled out extended 90-second song previews to the iTunes Store in several international countries. Launched last January in the U.S., the longer previews are available for all songs with a duration longer than two minutes and 30 seconds. Mac Rumors reports that the longer previews are now available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and other parts of Europe. As noted in the report, it is unclear what caused the extended delay between the U.S. roll out of the feature and its appearance in other countries, as Apple told labels before the U.S. rollout that they could either leave their tracks on the Store and thereby indicate their acceptance of the longer preview standard or remove their tracks from the store.
Apple has released Apple TV Software 4.3, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. According to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, the update adds the ability to purchase TV show episodes directly from the device, and to access and stream any TV show episodes previously purchased using the iTunes Store account tied to the device. In support of this feature, Apple has added a listing for TV shows to the “Purchased” section of the iTunes Store, allowing users to download previously purchased TV show episodes, and the update also adds support for Vimeo.
Notably, the ability to re-download previously purchased TV show episodes seems to be tied to the particular network or studio that owns the rights to the show, as iLounge has discovered that certain shows—including, specifically, episodes from series that originally ran on Comedy Central and FX—do not appear under the Purchased section and are therefore unavailable for re-download. Apple TV Software 4.3 is available now via the device’s software update feature.
Apple became the world’s number one smartphone vendor in the second quarter of 2011, according to the latest data from Strategy Analytics. Apple’s 20.3 million units were good for the top spot and 18.5 percent of the market, besting rival Samsung, which shipped an estimated 19.2 million units, good for 17.5 percent of the market. Both companies blew past former market leader Nokia, which shipped 16.7 million units during the period, good for 15.2 percent of the market, but down susbstantially from 23.8 million units shipped and a 38.1 percent of the market in the year-ago quarter.
According to June data from Nielsen, Apple is the top smartphone manufacturer in the United States, but iOS remains behind Android as a whole for the title of most popular smartphone OS in the country. Apple holds a 28 percent share of the handset market, followed by RIM and HTC, each of which account for 20 percent of the market. When looking at operating systems, iOS again accounts for a 28 percent share of the market, while Android represents 39 percent of the market, and BlackBerry OS holds a 20 percent share.