- December 11, 2009
Apple has belatedly acknowledged a number of sync issues with iTunes and Click Wheel iPod models that users have been experiencing since the initial release of iTunes 9 in September. Following the release of iTunes 9, a number of iLounge readers have reported problems with their iPods not being recognized by iTunes, extremely slow syncs and iTunes crashing during sync. Although iPod classic users seem to be most affected by these issues, it appears that iPod nano users have also experienced similar problems. Apple had previously provided no comment, but has now confirmed that it is “aware of the issue and are investigating.” (via AppleInsider)
- December 11, 2009
In response to a lawsuit brought against the company by Nokia for alleged iPhone-related patent infringements, Apple today filed a countersuit alleging that Nokia is infringing 13 of Apple’s patents. Surprisingly, Apple issued a terse press release regarding the countersuit, quoting Apple General Counsel and Senior Vice President Bruce Sewell as stating that “Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours.”
In October, Nokia filed suit against Apple claiming that the iPhone infringed on Nokia patents for GSM, UMTS and wireless LAN technologies covering wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption. Apple responded shortly thereafter that it intended to “defend the case vigorously,” indicating that it is defending more than 47 patent infringement cases, of which 27 were filed during the company’s fiscal 2009. Countersuits are often used in patent litigation as a means to achieve cross-licensing agreements and settlements without trials on the patents’ merits.
UPDATE: TechCrunch has provided some additional details regarding Apple’s lawsuit. Specifically, Apple is accusing Nokia of attempting a “patent hold-up” arguing that the patents in question are considered industry standards and Nokia is therefore expected to license them under fair and reasonable terms. Apple states in its countersuit that “Nokia has sought to gain an unjust competitive advantage over Apple by charging unwarranted fees to use patents that allegedly cover industry compatability standards.” The company further accuses Nokia of choosing to copy the iPhone as a response to its rapidly declining share of the high-end mobile phone market.
- December 9, 2009
Apple has introduced the ability to purchase customized digital iTunes Gift Cards through its iTunes Facebook page. The feature is currently limited to U.S. iTunes Store customers only, and allows users to choose one of six digital gift card designs with values ranging from $5 up to $50 and enter a gift message. Users can also specify to send the gift card immediately or schedule it for automatic delivery at a future date. The service is integrated into the Facebook “Gifts” feature, enabling the iTunes Gift Cards to be sent through Facebook itself.
Time magazine has chosen the iPhone 3GS as the fourth best gadget of 2009, interestingly placing behind the Motorola Droid, Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader and the Dyson Air Multiplier. Time named the Droid as its number one choice since it was deemed the first handset to truly challenge the iPhone, and the best hardware companion to Google’s Android mobile operating system. The iPhone 3GS also earned praise, but the article noted that the changes in the 3GS were not revolutionary enough to distinguish it from last year’s iPhone 3G.
Qik reports that it has submitted an updated version of its Qik app to the App Store that will support live streaming from the iPhone. Qik has provided an unofficial live streaming iPhone app for jailbroken iPhones since even before the iPhone 3GS was released, however its first official Qik app on the App Store provided only the ability to record videos for later uploading to the Qik service.
ezGear is offering iLounge readers a 20% discount on all online orders at its web site. iLounge customers can use the Discount code ILOUNGE during checkout to redeem the offer. The ILOUNGE discount code can be used multiple times for iPod and iPhone accessories, as well as other ezGear products.
Last night Apple announced the launch of an RSS feed for iPhone Developer news and announcements. The new RSS feed provides information on a range of topics of interest to iPhone developers including tips on submitting apps to the App Store, current turnaround times for app review, developer program updates and development and testing techniques. While targeted at iPhone Developers, the feed is publicly available for anybody who may be interested in following iPhone-related development news from Apple.
- December 8, 2009
Apple has banned a prolific iPhone developer from the App Store and removed all of the company’s more than 1000 apps as a result of what is believed to be review fraud, or astroturfing, on the part of the company. The issue with this specific developer was first discovered and reported by iPhoneography, a blog devoted to iPhone photography and videography, when a reader unearthed an unusually high number of five-star reviews for Molinker’s various applications. All reviews shared the same poor writing style and the overly positive reviewers had written reviews excluslvely for Molinker’s products.
iPhoneography submitted this information to Apple’s Phil Schiller and later received word confirming that Molinker’s apps had been removed from the App Store, which for some reason had featured at least one of the apps as a staff pick despite highly negative user reviews. In a response to the Appfreak blog, Molinker acknowledged that it had also received an e-mail on Sunday from Apple, placing its contract in pending status. (via AppleInsider)
Three months following the release of iPhone OS 3.1 and the third-generation iPod touch, Apple is still selling refurbished iPod touch models with the older 2.2.1 iPhone OS installed, forcing users to pay for upgrades to get software that debuted in September. Unusually, the Apple Store page for the refurbished iPod touch does not explicitly state the version of the OS that is included with these models—an issue dating back months—while a small link is provided on the page to “Visit iTunes to buy the iPhone 3.1 Software Update for iPod touch.” Apple representatives have confirmed to iLounge as recently as today that refurbished models still ship with the older version of the iPhone OS, and that the $5 3.1 update must be purchased separately. Notably, new 8GB iPod touch units sold by Apple since September of this year use the same second-generation hardware, and do include the latest iPhone OS.
- December 7, 2009
Another patent infringment lawsuit has been filed against Apple, this time over the camera technology in the iPhone. St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants has filed suit in the United States District Court in Delaware, alleging that the iPhone camera infringes on four separate patents that it holds, seeking damages and a jury trial. In 2001, St. Clair filed suit against Sony for infringement of the same patents and received $25 million in damages, and then sued Canon in 2003, receiving $34 million in damages. St. Clair has since filed suit against every other major camera maker, as well as technology companies such as RIM and Palm. Many of these companies have since entered into licensing agreements with St. Clair. (via The Loop).
- December 7, 2009
Apple confirmed yesterday that it has purchased online music retailer Lala.com, a smaller technology company that has developed an as-yet-unreleased application for streaming songs to the iPhone. Though Apple has not provided any further information, such as how much the deal was worth or what it plans to do with this acquisition, Lala’s streaming application promised to give users the right to stream songs to their iPhones an unlimited number of times for $0.10 per song, significantly less than the price of songs on the iTunes Store; the tracks could be purchased thereafter. Apple was said to be interested in Lala’s technical expertise, including its payment and streaming technologies, rather than its specific application. The company was launched in 2006 as an online CD-trading site but relaunched in October 2008 as a music retailer. (via MSNBC)
UPDATE: According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple may be looking to expand iTunes by offering streaming services in addition to their traditional download model. The source, who asked not to be named, stated that
“Apple recognizes that the model is going to evolve into a streaming one and this could probably propel iTunes to the next level.” (via Reuters)
UPDATE 2: Media Memo reports that according to multiple sources, Apple paid around $80 million for the company. This price represents less than half of what investors had valued Lala at in 2008, but is more than twice the money that has been raised by the company throughout its lifetime.
- December 2, 2009
Apple is considering taking its new internally-developed iPod touch point-of-sale (POS) system to market, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, ifoAppleStore reports that Apple has seen a high volume of inquiries about the system since rolling it out in its own retail stores, but has until this point said the system was proprietary and not for sale. The system is comprised of a standard iPod touch that is housed in a custom shell with an integrated barcode scanner and credit card reader, which is linked to software that streamlines the checkout process. The report states that Apple retail executives have asked the retail store business specialists to collect contact information from anyone who inquires about the new POS system, possibly to create a database of potential customers should Apple decide to sell the system commercially.
- November 30, 2009
Apple is manipulating NAND flash memory pricing though “questionable” purchasing strategies, according to a new report. Citing multiple unnamed industry officials, The Korea Times reports that Apple is using the leveraging power provided by the popularity of the iPhone and flash-based iPods to order more chips from semiconductor makers than it actually needs. “Apple should certainly be blamed for deteriorating the supply and demand cycle in the global NAND flash market,” said an unnamed senior industry official. “Apple has asked Korean semiconductor makers to produce a certain amount of chips for its digital products, only to actually purchase a smaller volume eventually. The company doesn’t make immediate purchases, but waits until chip prices to fall to the level the company has internally targeted.” A separate unnamed official called Apple’s purchasing strategies “absurd,” adding, “Samsung and Hynix both provide chips to Apple and have less of an edge in deciding prices and volume. Apple’s strategy could hurt the industry’s health.” An earlier report from September indicated that Apple’s consumption of NAND flash chips, which are used in the iPhone and iPod nano, touch, and shuffle, was causing a severe shortage of the popular components.
- November 16, 2009
Prior to its acquisition by Google, mobile advertising firm AdMob was approached by Apple about a possible purchase, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter—who declined to be identified due to the private nature of the negotiations—Bloomberg reports that Apple approached AdMob to discuss a possible acquisition “a few weeks” before Google made its $750 million bid. Apple declined to comment on the story, while a spokesperson for AdMob said the company doesn’t comment on “rumor and speculation.” A purchase by Apple would have allowed the company to extend into online advertising, stated Karsten Weide, an analyst with research firm IDC. “If a lot of traffic goes through my devices, why can’t I become the middleman that serves ads against that inventory?” Weide said. “AdMob would have allowed [Apple] to do that quickly.” Weide estimates that together, Google and AdMob will account for between 30 and 40 percent of the mobile advertising market.
- November 12, 2009
Apple has said that it plans to open between 40 and 50 new stores in 2010, with more than half those located outside the United States in countries including Canada, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and China. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is also planning to focus on building more “significant,” or flagship, stores in major cities, as they are the company’s top retail revenue generators. “Other retailers call them flagship stores. We don’t use that word,” Apple senior vice president of Retail Ron Johnson said when explaining the “significant store” terminology. Highlighting Apple’s new Upper West Side store in NYC, set to open Saturday morning, the report adds that more significant stores are planned for spring or early summer openings in London, Paris, and Shanghai. Johnson also said that new stores will be larger than the majority of existing stores, to accomodate more product displays and larger Genius Bars. “Our stores are too small,” he explained. “Our biggest challenge at the Genius Bar — we cannot build them big enough.”
- November 11, 2009
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has said he doesn’t like attempts to paint Apple and his company as rivals. As the article states, Iwata is an Apple fan himself, carrying an iPhone and using a Mac laptop on a regular basis. He claims the two companies appeal to different consumers, and says that attempts to create a rivalry make him “uncomfortable.” Despite Iwata’s claims, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller made direct comparisons between the iPod touch and Nintendo’s DS, as well as the Sony PSP, during the company’s rock and roll media event in September, stating that while the latter two “seemed so cool” at first, they now “don’t stack up” to the touch or iPhone.
Nintendo recently announced a 52% drop in profit for the first half of its fiscal year, citing lagging sales of its Wii and DS consoles, and also predicted that its annual profit would fall year-over-year for the first time in six years. “If we can’t make clear why customers pay a lot of money to play games on Nintendo hardware and Nintendo software and differentiate ourselves from games on the mobile phone or iPhone, then our future is dark,” Iwata said at a recent company event. Industry analysts also believe Nintendo may be in trouble due to increasing competition from Apple, with research firm DFC Intelligence expecting revenue from iPod touch and iPhone game to rise from $46 million in 2008 to more than $2.8 billion in 2014, while revenue from dedicated gaming devices is expected to shrink 27% over the same time period. Nintendo will launch a new version of its DS handheld, the DSi LL, in Japan on Nov. 21. It will sell for 20,000 yen, or roughly $222.
- November 6, 2009
Apple has launched a new Reserve and Pick Up service ahead of the holiday shopping season that allows customers to reserve products online for pick up in one of Apple’s retail stores. Included in the service are all models of iPod, and most Mac computers; curiously missing from the reservation system is the Apple TV, while the iPhone link simply pops up a message promoting the iPhone Gift Card. All iPods and laptops are also available for gift wrapping. No charge is applied at the time of reservation; instead, customers must pay in the store when picking their items up between December 15 and 24.
- November 6, 2009
A new Apple patent application published this week suggests the company is working on a system of simplified data transfer between devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch, Mac computers, and Apple TV. The application covers a variety of transfer methods, including local Wi-Fi, cellular, and near-field networks, and also mentions the use of online data storage services that could serve as an intermediary between devices. In addition, the system would allow for simple transfer not only of individual files, but also of content with applications, allowing the user to pick up exactly where they left off on the other device. Notably, the illustrations accompanying the patent show two new iPhone/iPod touch applications, one called “Grab & Go” that would presumably be used to quick file transfers, and another called “Revisit,” which would give users access to recent browser history, searches, media, files, and more. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area; continue reading for images from the application.
- November 5, 2009
Fortune magazine has named Apple co-founder and CEO Steve jobs its CEO of the decade. “Superlatives have attached themselves to Jobs since he was a young man. Now that he’s 54, merely listing his achievements is sufficient explanation of why he’s Fortune’s CEO of the Decade (though the superlatives continue),” Adam Lashinsky writes in a two-page overview of Jobs’ business history. “In the past 10 years alone he has radically and lucratively reordered three markets—music, movies, and mobile telephones—and his impact on his original industry, computing, has only grown. Remaking any one business is a career-defining achievement; four is unheard-of.” In the multi-part tribute, Fortune also offers an interactive timeline of key products and releases from the last ten years, a list of the top 10 moments from his career, interviews with eight important figures that have known Jobs throughout his life, and more.
- October 27, 2009
Apple has sent specifications of its upcoming tablet device to various Australian media outlets, according to a new report. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Apple has been distributing the specs in an effort to gauge the publications’ interest in delivering content for the device. None of the outlets were willing to talk about the device on record, but New York Times executive editor Bill Keller mentioned the device in a recent off-the-record staff meeting, suggesting it too has knowledge of the device. “I’m hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that,” Keller said. Video of the meeting is available online. [via AppleInsider]
Apple announced this week that they will be hosting a series of iPhone Tech Talk World Tour events in select cities around the world from October 29 through to December 15, 2009.
Open to members of the iPhone Developer Program, the event will provide expert advice from Apple technology evangelists to assist developers with tips on how to get the most out of their iPhone applications, with topics ranging from adding In App Purchase features to mastering OpenGL ES.
The event is being held in San Jose, Seattle, New York, Toronto, Paris, London, Hamburg, Beijing and Tokyo, and is free to all members of the iPhone Developer Program, although space is limited and several cities have already filled up.
- October 20, 2009
In addition to announcing a new lineup of iMac, MacBook, and Mac mini computers today, Apple has quietly introduced the new Apple Remote ($19), a stylish new update to its prior white plastic version. Silver with a black set of buttons in a wheel-like shape, plus separate Menu and Play buttons, the new Apple Remote resembles a fifth-generation iPod nano minus the screen, and elongated for comfortable use in the hand. It interacts with Apple’s Universal Dock to control an iPod or iPhone’s playback on a television, as well as the Apple TV, and any Mac computer with an Infrared port. One other notable change is to the battery compartment, which has been moved to the rear of the Remote, with a twisting closure instead of the pop-out mechanism used in the older version. Apple’s online store currently shows the new Apple Remote as available within 2 to 4 weeks.
- October 19, 2009
During a conference call with analysts following the release of its fourth quarter financial results, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO Tim Cook made several statements regarding the company’s iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV businesses. In his opening statement, Oppenheimer said the company sold “almost” 10.2 million iPods, with 50% of iPod customers purchasing their first iPod, even in countries where the device enjoys a wide market share lead. iPod touch sales were up 100% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, he said, in part driven by the success of the App Store, which saw more than half a billion downloads in the September quarter alone. The iPod family continues to gain market share in nearly every region.
Regarding the iPhone, COO Tim Cook said the company was “very surprised” by the response to the iPhone 3GS. For much of the quarter, most countries were very low on 3GS with demand outstripping supply; the situation was remedied by the end of September in most regions. Cook added that the company expected a higher mix of iPhone 3G sales, and “quickly changed our orders and components etcetera that are different between the models. I think it shows there is an intense appetite for Apple’s latest technology and we were very pleased with the result.”
Cook also revealed that the iPhone will launch on China Unicom on October 30th, with 1000 points of sale, and service plans ranging from $18-$85/month, adding that Apple is “really excited to get started” in the market. Overall, the iPhone 3GS was available in 64 countries by the end of the quarter, and Apple plans to add several more over the next three months, including China, and hopefully Korea. When asked whether a move to multiple carriers in one country had an effect on the price Apple charges its carrier partners for each handset, Cook said, “Generally in markets where we’re already selling, I wouldn’t expect to see a wholesale price difference, however, the end-user price is really set by the carriers themselves, so you may see a street price difference.” The average selling price for the iPhone during the quarter was just over $600.
Regarding Apple’s enterprise efforts, and the popularity of the iPhone in the corporate environment, Cook said, “employee demand for iPhone in the corporate environment is very strong… iPhone is either being deployed or piloted in well over 50% of fortune 100, in europe - about 50% of the financial times 100. Another very key market for us is that over 350 higher ed institutions have approved iPhone for faculty staff and students.” Cook also said the company continues to be very happy with government sales.