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Apple releases iTunes 10.1.2 ahead of CDMA iPhone

Apple has released iTunes 10.1.2, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.1.2 “syncs music, movies, and more with iPhone 4 (CDMA model) and provides a number of important stability and performance improvements.” Verizon Wireless will be the first to offer the CDMA version of the iPhone on February 10. iTunes 10.1.2 is a 93.1MB download for Mac users and is available now as a free download from iTunes.com or via Apple’s Software Update utility.

News Corp., Apple to intro The Daily on Feb. 2

News Corp. and Apple have sent out e-mails to select members of the press, inviting them to a special event for the launch of The Daily newspaper. According to The Loop, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will be on hand, as will Apple Vice President of Internet Services Eddy Cue. According to past reports, the new tablet-based newspaper will utilize a new Apple subscription platform that will allow customers to sign up for a subscription to a periodical via the App Store and get the publication delivered automatically to their iPad each time a new issue is published, instead of needing to purchase each issue individually either as a separate app or through in-app purchases. The Daily launch event will be held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and will begin at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday February 2.

Apple Store reveals Verizon iPhone plan pricing

Following last night’s design changes, Apple’s online store has posted full details of the plans and options available to Verizon iPhone customers. Mac Rumors reports that beyond the two-year contract, new individual customers will need to choose from voice packages that include a $39.99/mo. plan for 450 minutes, $59.99 for 900 minutes, or the Nationwide Unlimited plan for $69.99. Family SharePlans begin at $69.99 for 700 minutes, moving up to $89.99 for 1400 minutes, $99.99 for 2000 minutes, or $119.99 for unlimited. Data pricing is currently locked at $30/mo. for unlimited data, and as previously revealed, the Personal Hotspot feature will include an extra 2GB of data specifically for that feature for an extra $20 a month. Finally, users will be able to choose between 250 text messages for $5, 500 messages for $10, or unlimited texts for $20; family plan customers will have both the $5 and $10 options, as well as a 5000 messages for $20 option, or unlimited for $30.

Using the above figures, this means the minimum monthly cost for an individual iPhone user on Verizon will be $69.99 without text messaging or the Personal Hotspot feature, and $129.99 for a pair of iPhone users sharing a family plan, with the same limitations. Spread over two years, the total individual cost will be $1,879.75, including the cost of a 16GB iPhone 4 but not counting any additional taxes or fees, and assuming that the customer does not use text messaging or the Personal Hotspot feature. For a pair of iPhone users sharing a family plan, the total cost increases to $3,519.74 over two years, again including the cost of two 16GB handsets but not including the cost of any additional fees, taxes, or features.

Update: Apple appears to have removed the relevant pages from its website.

Update x2: As of February 2, Verizon has officially announced its plans, confirming the prior figures from Apple’s website.

Apple awarded patent for touch-friendly gloves

  • January 26, 2011
  • Apple,

Apple has been awarded a patent for a touchscreen-friendly glove system, according to a new report. Patently Apple points to U.S. Patent 7,874,021, entitled “high tactility glove system,” which the publication has dubbed the “Magic Glove.” The patent describes a pair of gloves consisting of an electrically conductive inner liner, an optional insulating layer, and an outer shell, the latter of which can itself be electrically conductive, or else offer “at least one aperture through which the inner liner may extend to operate the input mechanism of an electronic device.” Notably, several companies already produce touch-friendly gloves using similar systems; 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.

Apple makes modest changes to website design

  • January 26, 2011
  • Apple,

Apple overnight made some modest changes to its website design. As noted by Mac Rumors, the new design sports a dark navigation bar, a slight pattern to the background at the top of the homepage, and new pop- and slide-in animations for its product pages, including the main Mac and iPod pages. Interestingly, the report notes that several reports from last night—when the online Apple Store were down due to the design change—suggested that the outage was due to the addition of the white iPhone 4 to the store, which turned out not to be the case.

Apple posts ‘iPad is Iconic’ TV ad

Apple has posted its latest iPad television advertisement online. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Iconic”—continues the trend of showing the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps and features. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “fresh,” “tickets,” “news,” “stories,” a rolling counter of “60,000+ apps,” “students,” “teachers,” “hollywood,” and “iconic.” As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Iconic” TV ad is available for viewing below in embedded form or on YouTube.

Analysts claim near-field NFC transactions coming to iPhone, iPad

Apple plans to include near field communication (NFC) technology in its next versions of the iPhone and iPad in order to support a new mobile payment system, according to a new report. Citing Richard Crone, leader of financial industry adviser Crone Consulting, and Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group who claims to have spoken with Apple engineers working on the project, Bloomberg reports that Apple’s system may be able to tap into existing user information, such as credit card numbers, iTunes account balances, and bank data. “It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said. According to Doherty, Apple could launch the mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, and has already created a prototype payment terminal that would allow small businesses to accept payment from NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. He added that Apple is considering offering heavy subsidies on the terminal, or even giving it away, in order to encourage faster adoption. Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, a veteran of NFC development, as its new product manager for mobile commerce last August.

ITC judge says Apple, RIM clear of Kodak patent

U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Paul Luckern said yesterday that Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry devices do not violate a Kodak patent covering a common image preview feature. BusinessWeek reports that while Luckern’s preliminary findings are a setback for Kodak, they are still subject to review by the six-member commission, which has the power to overturn the ruling and ultimately block imports of iPhone and BlackBerry devices that contain cameras. Kodak first sued Apple and RIM in January 2010, alongside filing the aforementioned ITC complaint, prompting Apple to launch a countersuit and ITC complaint of its own against Kodak, claiming patent infringement.

Apple launches official App Store Twitter account

Apple has launched an official Twitter account for the App Store, its latest iTunes-related Twitter account. According to the description on the account, it will provide featured apps, exclusive offers, and more. As of this writing, the verified account has nearly 90,000 followers, and has seen four updates—one an introductory statement, and three pointing to specific apps. Notably, the account is taking advantage of Apple’s appstore.com domain name, using tw.appstore.com as a URL shortener.

Apple hires former NSA analyst for top security spot?

  • January 24, 2011
  • Apple,

Apple has hired security expert David Rice to be its new director of global security, according to a new report. Citing multiple unnamed sources, AllThingsD reports that Rice is expected to start at Apple in March; it’s currently unknown exactly what his role will entail. The report describes Rice as a well-respected name in the IT security community, and says he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, received a master’s degree in Information Warfare and Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and spent time as both a Global Network Vulnerability analyst for the National Security Agency and a Special Duty Cryptologic officer for the Navy before authoring the 2007 book Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software.

10 Billionth app downloaded, winner to be named [updated]

As expected, Apple’s 10 Billion App Countdown ended early in the morning of Saturday, January 22, 2011 with the download of the 10 billionth application from the App Store. One winner is being selected to receive a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card as the sole prize for reaching the milestone, and Apple is expected to name the individual and app in the near future.

image

Update: The winning app was Paper Glider, downloaded by Gail Davis of Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom. Congratulations, Gail!

10 Billion App Countdown nearing end

According to the counter graphics on Apple’s 10 Billion App Countdown webpage and the App Store, the promotion is nearing its end. Launched on January 14, the promotion is offering a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card to the person who downloads the ten billionth app from the App Store, or submits a free entry form at the right time. Currently, the counter sits at roughly 9,984,000, up from 9,975,000 earlier today. While estimates using the average number of downloads per minute during the promotion have indicated that the 10 billionth download should occur sometime tomorrow afternoon, the pace of downloads in past promotions has typically accelerated as the total approached the relevant amount, making it possible that the download could occur late tonight or early tomorrow morning. For more information on Apple’s 10 billion App Countdown, see Apple’s official rules.

Apple updates Bumper cases for Verizon iPhone

Apple is now selling updated Bumper cases, offering compatibility with both the GSM and CDMA variants of the iPhone 4, according to a new YouTube video. The video, posted by YouTube user Alerio, shows that Apple has reversed the colors on the packaging—going from predominantly grey to predominantly white for the white model—and has subsequently removed the foil from the Apple logo and iPhone 4 print on the paper backing. As for the case itself, it appears that the volume buttons have stayed in nearly the same position, while the hole for the ring/silent switch has been tweaked and elongated to accomodate for the lower position of the switch on the CDMA model. While it is of little consequence to GSM iPhone 4 owners, users looking to purchase a case compatible with the CDMA model will want to double-check to make sure their Bumper has the new packaging, and thus the larger side opening. [via 9 to 5 Mac]

Eric Schmidt to step down, Page to take over as Google CEO

In a surprise move, Google today announced that its CEO Eric Schmidt will step down from his post April 4th, and will be replaced in the role by company co-founder Larry Page. Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman for the company, focusing on “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership.” Google is a strategic partner of Apple’s on several fronts, providing the backends for Apple’s iOS Maps and YouTube applications, as well as serving as the default search engine for its Safari browser. The two companies have become fierce competitors in recent years, however, due to Google’s Android smartphone OS, which is locked in a battle with Apple’s iPhone for control of the global smartphone market, and Apple has taken steps to distance itself from dependence on Google’s services.

Notably, a report from last year indicated that Google co-founders Page and Sergey Brin were disappointed with the way the company’s relationship had soured under Schmidt’s leadership, and considered Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs a “role model” as they grew into technology executives. An anecdote from an episode of Bloomberg’s “Game Changers” went so far as to say that the pair wanted to hire Jobs as Google’s CEO during the company’s early years. Schmidt served on Apple’s board of directors from 2006 to 2009, when he resigned from the board due to “potential conflicts of interest,” explained to be iOS- and iPhone-related.

Update: Eric Schmidt has posted an open letter explaining the management changes.

Apple blocking user access to iPhone with special screws

Apple is beginning to use specialized screws to seal the outside case of the iPhone 4, according to a new report. Arguing that the move represents an effort by Apple to keep users from being able to repair their own phones, iFixIt reports that Apple is using a new five-point “Pentalobe” screw, for which there are no readily available screwdrivers. According to the report, Apple has used three different sizes of the screw, first using it to secure the battery of the mid-2009 MacBook Pro, then using an extremely small variant on some iPhone 4 units, and employing yet another size to lock users out of the new MacBook Air. In addition, the report claims that should a user bring in for repair an iPhone 4 with standard Phillips screws on the exterior, Apple will replace them with the new, tamper-resistant Pentalobe screws without notifying the customer of the change. As a remedy, iFixIt is offering a $10 “iPhone 4 Liberation Kit,” which includes a five-point screwdriver—good for removing the Pentalobe screws but not recommended for repeated use—along with two Phillips replacement screws and a #00 Phillips screwdriver for future servicing.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the second beta version of iOS 4.3 to its paid developers. Listed as build number 8F5153d, it is unclear what has changed in the new version from the first, which brought AirPlay functionality to Safari and third-party apps, the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature, an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch, and new four- and five-finger gestures for the iPad. Notably, documentation released alongside the new beta indicates that the aforementioned gestures will not be part of iOS 4.3’s public release, but are instead included in order to gain developer feedback, and the release is accompanied by a new preview build of Apple TV Software 4.3. Separate versions of iOS 4.3 beta 2 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

For more information on iOS 4.3, see our Full Breakdown article.

Apple sues Nokia in U.K. over touch scrolling patent

  • January 19, 2011
  • Apple,

Apple has filed yet another lawsuit against Espoo, Finland-based Nokia, according to Bloomberg. The new suit, filed in the High Court in London, alleges that one of Nokia’s European patents for scrolling technology on a touchscreen device is invalid. Nokia has filed multiple suits against Apple in Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, claiming infringement on some 37 patents. “Nokia is confident that all of the 37 patents it has asserted against Apple” are valid, Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant told Bloomberg. “We are examining the filing and will take whatever actions are needed to protect our rights.” The legal battle between the two companies dates back to October 2009, and also includes a countersuit against Nokia filed by Apple in the U.S., as well as opposing complaints filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Apple COO Cook alludes to display investment?

During Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, Apple COO Tim Cook made several statements that suggest the company sees display technology as a potential component investment for the future. When asked about Apple’s long-term investments on components, Cook mentioned the company’s prior $1 billion flash memory investment as something that was important across the product line, and added that the company has identified a similarly important area in recent quarters. Cook said that the company has come into pre-payment agreements in this new area for parts, equipment, and tooling in hopes of achieving a specific competitive advantage. While Cook didn’t directly mention it, separate reports from the same week in December claimed that Apple was expected to supply a portion of the investments required for a new Toshiba LCD plant and Sharp LCD production line, respectively. Both reports specifically mentioned that as a result of Apple’s investment, the new factory and new production line were expected to produce displays primarily for the Cupertino-based company. Given Apple’s reliance on touchscreen technology in its iOS devices, it seems likely that these were the agreements to which Cook was referring during the call.

Update: The investment is worth $3.9 billion dollars over two years, and involves three vendors. Apple made pre-payments of $650 million during the last quarter, and expects to make $1.05 billion in payments during the March quarter.

Apple Q1 2011: 19.45 million iPods, 16.24 million iPhones, 7.33 million iPads

  • January 18, 2011
  • Apple,

Reporting its first quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold 19.45 million iPods during the holiday quarter — a seven percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Despite the drop in unit sales, revenue from iPod sales actually increased one percent year-over-year, to $3.425 billion. Apple also sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, an 86 percent increase year-over-year, and up from 14.1 million units in the prior quarter. Apple also sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter, up from 4.19 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010. The units sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 89.9 million, 298 million, and 14.79 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $26.74 billion and net quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share, representing all-time revenue and profit highs, compared with revenue of $15.68 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share in Q1 2010. Sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 23% over the year-ago quarter, and up 15% from Q4 2010, to $1.431 billion total. That category includes iTunes Store sales, iPod services, and revenues from Apple and third-party iPod accessories. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue, up from 58 percent in the year-ago quarter.

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”

“We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our business, generating $9.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $22 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $4.90.”

Live blog: Apple’s Q1 2011 financials conference call

  • January 18, 2011
  • Apple,

We’ll be providing live play-by-play coverage of Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, expected to feature Apple COO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer discussing gangbuster results from October through December 31, 2010. Key points from the call include the revelation that the company has signed a new, multi-year, non-exclusivity deal with AT&T (5:35PM), the fact that over 160 million iOS devices have been sold—meaning that 55 iPod touch units have been sold (5:08PM), that the ASP of the iPhone is expected to hold steady next quarter despite the recent price drop on the iPhone 3GS, suggesting that interest in the iPhone 4 far exceeds that of the 3GS (5:35PM), and that the company targeted the Chinese market as a growth opportunity, and has seen revenue from that region jump 4x from the prior quarter (5:18PM). Continue reading to see more information about these and a host of other topics.

This story will be updated in reverse chronological order as the call proceeds starting at 5:00PM ET/2:00PM PT; refresh it for regular updates.

6:01PM: End of call.

5:58PM: Q: Consumerization of enterprise technology is taking place; are there still barriers to developer training at corporate level or other issues to work through to get more penetration in enterprise? A: It’s a megatrend that’s occurring, most forward-looking CIOs are realizing that enabling creativity of employees is materially more important than everyone using the same thing. Ability to write apps easily for a phone is incredibly powerful, you can run an entire business from the iPhone. So the numbers are already incredible—iPad shipped in April and now in 80% of largest companies deploying or piloting, which is unheard of, as enterprise is generally much slower and more cautious. To everyone’s credit, they’ve seen value of this from productivity/creativity point of view and are really moving fast. In terms of inhibitors, iPad has huge advantage because as you can recall with iOS releases, we always put in a huge chunk of enterprise features, and this isn’t something we just started working on—we started with the first iPhone. So there’s a huge place here for us.

5:56PM: Q: Peter, more insight on iPad gross margins going forward? Should we assume Apple will improve feature set and hold pricing stable? A: Can’t answer that question. In terms of what we’re shipping today, we’re always looking to lower our costs and have a good track record of doing so. We feel very, very good about performance of our products and costing of our products. Q: MacBook Air - given initial success and momentum, how are you looking at it now, premium tablet or notebook? A: The Mac of the future shipping today. It was a phenomenal part of the growth of the Mac last quarter. Customers love the precision, thinness, weight, instant on. We’re really happy with how it’s doing. We’ve only been shipping it for less than 90 days, just gotten going on it.

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