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.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has agreed to investigate Samsung’s claims that Apple is infringing on its patents. Samsung filed a complaint against Apple with the ITC last month, and as Reuters reports, is accusing Apple of infringing five patents with the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone. Apple filed an ITC complaint of its own against Samsung earlier this month; both companies are seeking to ban imports of the other’s products into the U.S.
Apple has been sued by Texas-based Affinity Labs, which claims the iPod and iPhone violate patents related to media playback. According to AppleInsider, the suit states that the “iPhone, iPod touch, and iPhone line of products” violates a patent entitled “Content delivery system and method,” while only the iPhone is accused of violating the second patent, entitled “Method for managing media.” Affinity Labs previously sued Apple in 2009, accusing it of violating three patents related to the streaming and downloading of content. Notably, third-party accessory manufacturer AAMP is also named in the suit, which seeks damages, applicable attorney fees, and a judgement that prohibits either company from further infringement.
HTC has said it’s willing to negotiate a settlement with Apple after both parties received favorable judgements from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in their various ongoing patent disputes, Bloomberg reports. “We have to sit down and figure it out,” said HTC CFO Winston Yung. “We’re open to having discussions.” HTC recently purchased S3 Graphics less than a week after the ITC ruled that Apple was in violation of two of its patents; the ITC later ruled that HTC was in violation of two Apple patents related to data detection and transmission technologies. “We are open to all sorts of solutions, as long as the solution and the terms are fair and reasonable,” Yung said. “On and off we’ve had discussions with Apple, even before the initial determination came out,” he added, noting that he was unaware of any talks between the two companies since the two rulings were announced.
Apple has started to air its latest TV commercial for the iPad 2. Entitled “We’ll Always,” the 30-second advertisement is similar in tone to the company’s prior iPad 2 commercials, and features a voiceover by Peter Coyote which states, “We’ll never stop sharing our memories, or getting lost in a good book. We’ll always cook dinner, and cheer for our favorite team. We’ll still go to meetings, make home movies, and learn new things. But how we do all this will never be the same.” The new commercial is available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has launched the App Store in 33 new territories, bringing the total number of countries in which it is available to over 100. The new countries are, in alphabetical order, Algeria, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, Montserrat, Nigeria, Oman, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
Apple has released its fourth beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5274d—is accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5 and Apple TV Software. It is unclear what major changes, if any, may be present in the new version. iOS 5 beta 4 is available now to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Update: 9 to 5 Mac reports that the update can be installed on devices running iOS 5 beta 3 via the over-the-air software update feature found within the Settings app.
Apple is considering making a bid for the online video service Hulu, according to a new report. Citing two people with knowledge of the auction, Bloomberg reports that Apple is in early talks that may lead to an offer. An acquisition of Hulu would give Apple new ad-based free and subscription video service offerings, and would also likely include a five-year extension of program rights, including two years of exclusive access. Apple already sells TV programming from Hulu’s owners Disney, News Corp., and NBC Universal; notably, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the largest single shareholder of Disney. The report states that the service has also drawn interest from Google, Yahoo, AT&T, and Microsoft, the latter of which dropped out of the bidding, according to the report.
A portion of text in Apple’s third-quarter 2011 Form 10-Q filing (PDF Link) reveals that the company is liable for more than half a $4.5 billion dollar bid to acquire the patent portfolio of Nortel Networks. As noted in the filing, Apple, “as part of a consortium, participated in the acquisition of Nortel’s patent portfolio for an overall purchase price of $4.5 billion, of which the Company’s contribution will be approximately $2.6 billion. This asset acquisition is subject to approval by various regulatory agencies.” Also involved in the consortium were EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has passed Nokia to become the world’s largest maker of smartphones by volume. The Financial Times reports that Apple’s June quarter iPhone shipments of 20.3 million units easily surpassed those of former market leader Nokia, which shipped 16.7 million units during the same period, a 34 percent decline. As noted in the report, Apple was already the world’s biggest smartphone maker by revenue and profits, but the April-June period was the first time it had surpassed Nokia in volume.
Apple has been sued for the second time by the non-practicing entity Personal Audio, which accuses Apple of patent infringement related to downloadable playlists. FOSS Patents reports that the new filing comes just weeks after Personal Audio was awarded an $8 million jury verdict in a case involving the same patents in relation to the iPod classic, iPod mini, iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod touch, and iPhone. The new case focuses on the sixth-generation iPod nano, fourth-generation iPod shuffle, fourth-generation iPod touch, iPhone 4, and iPad 2. As noted in the report, the damages awarded in connection with the iPhone and iPad could be substantially greater than those from the first suit, which focused primarily on iPods; in any case, the report suggests it is likely that the two parties will settle their dispute soon.
Apple has released iTunes 10.4 adding support for some of the new features in Mac OS X Lion and a number of important stability and performance improvements. iTunes 10.4 now works with Lion’s new Full-Screen App feature allowing the app to be placed in its own full-screen window. Version 10.4 is also now a 64-bit Cocoa application on OS X Lion, and the release notes indicate that this may render some plug-ins no longer compatible. The latest version of iTunes is available for via Apple’s Software Update tools or from http://www.itunes.com/download.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted that the company has experienced the highest quarterly earnings and revenues in its history, as well as record sales for the iPhone and iPad. Apple sold 7.5m iPods last quarter, ahead of expectations with the iPod touch being over 50% of all iPods sold. The iPod share is now over 70% of all MP3 player sales in the U.S. according to the latest NPD data, and leads in most other markets as well. The iTunes Store had revenues of almost $1.4 billion the past quarter, with continuing strong sales of music, video and apps. The iTunes Store continues to be the number one music retailer in the world with 15 billion songs downloaded to date.
Turning to the iPhone, the company sold a record 20.3 million iPhones in the past quarter, as compared to 8.4m in the year ago June quarter and over double of the smartphone growth overall. Oppenheimer reported very strong year-over-year iPhone growth everywhere, with quadrupled sales in the Asia-Pacific region. Manufacturing capacity has been increased and the iPhone is now available on 228 carriers in 105 countries. Apple now has 5.9m iPhones in inventory, which constitutes enough to meet a demand of approximately 4-6 weeks. 91% of Fortune 500 companies are now deploying or testing the iPhone, up from 88% last quarter. 57% of global 500 companies are either deploying or testing the iPhone.
Reporting its third quarter 2011 financial results today, Apple said it sold 7.54 million iPods during the quarter—a 20% percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Apple also sold 20.34 million iPhones in the quarter, a 142% percent increase year-over-year, and up from the 18.65 million units sold in the second quarter. Apple also sold 9.25 million iPads during the quarter, up 183% from 3.27 million units in the year-ago quarter. The unit sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 128.89 million, 314.56 million, and 28.73 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $28.57 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.31 billion, or $7.79 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $15.7 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.25 billion, or $3.51 per diluted share, in Q3 2010.
“We’re thrilled to deliver our best quarter ever, with revenue up 82 percent and profits up 125 percent,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Right now, we’re very focused and excited about bringing iOS 5 and iCloud to our users this fall.”
“We are extremely pleased with our performance which drove quarterly cash flow from operations of $11.1 billion, an increase of 131 percent year-over-year,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $25 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $5.50.”
The International Trade Commission has upheld the ruling from May that Kodak did not infringe on Apple’s patented technology for digital cameras, according to a report from Reuters. Apple filed a complaint earlier this year claiming that Kodak was infringing patents for digital cameras and related software, however an ITC administrative law judge ruled two months ago that Kodak did not infringe the patents. A formal decision from the full ITC in this case was originally not expected until September 19.
A January lawsuit by Kodak against Apple and Research in Motion claiming infringement of a Kodak patent related to a method for previewing images remains under consideration by the ITC following a mixed verdict earlier this month. In that decision, the ITC found there to be limited patent infringement but sent some matters back to the original administrative law judge for further review.
Fortune reports that shipping times for the iPad 2 have now improved to a more standard 1-3 business days. Since the initial launch of the iPad 2 in early March Apple has found it difficult to keep up with the demand for the device with shipping times originally starting at 3-4 weeks and very recently being reduced to 3-5 days. As of this past weekend, all models are now showing as available within 1-3 business days.
Following Apple’s filing of a second patent infringement claim against HTC early last week, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that HTC did in fact infringe two of Apple’s patents in Android-based phones. Bloomberg reports that HTC was found to have infringed two out of ten patents presented by Apple, an initial ruling that remains subject to review by a full six-member commission. While HTC has indicated that it will “vigorously fight these two remaining patents” on appeal, should the ITC uphold the finding of infringement, U.S. imports of some HTC Android phones could be banned, or the company could be required to pay royalties and license the patents in question from Apple. Additional Android phones from other manufacturers may be impacted by the ruling, as well.