A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reveals that Apple may be scaling back on its ambitions to build an actual car, shifting its strategy to focus on the development of an autonomous driving system. The report notes that Apple has not entirely abandoned efforts to design its own vehicle, and may in fact even partner with or acquire an established car maker rather than building a car on its own, but those familiar with the project say that the recent hire of Dan Dodge — the head of BlackBerry’s automotive software division — is an indicator that an emphasis on the self-driving technology has increased.
A new report in the Wall Street Journal provides some insight as to why Apple’s efforts to launch a web-based streaming service may have failed to gain much traction last year. Clearly drawing on information gleaned from sources from within the television industry, the report describes Apple’s typically “assertive” negotiating style as having alienated networks and cable providers, suggesting that the tactics used by Steve Jobs to “muscle music labels into selling songs online for 99 cents apiece” may have backfired on the company in working with television media companies. Executives are said to be concerned that if they agree to “Apple’s sweetheart terms” it would set a precedent for traditional cable distributors to demand a similar arrangement, cutting into their bottom lines.
Apple today announced that it has now officially sold one billion iPhones. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the news earlier today at an employee meeting in Cupertino, stating that “iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It’s become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day,” said Cook. “Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day.”
Apple crossed the threshold of “one billion active devices” earlier this year, announced at the company’s Q1 2016 Financial Results Conference Call in January, although this earlier number presumably included non-iPhone devices such as iPads and iPods, and was limited to active devices; today’s number refers to the total number of iPhones sold by Apple to date, and presumably includes those that have been retired from active use.
Apple is turning James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment into its own series, set to air as an Apple Music exclusive, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The series will expand on the current format, with celebrity guests singing along to their favorite songs and surprising fans during the ride, but will likely feature a host other than Corden. The 16-episode series will be released weekly on Apple Music, but no premiere date has been announced.
Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q3 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that while the earnings numbers are slightly down from last year’s quarter, the results reflect stronger customer demand and business performance than Apple anticipated 90 days ago, and that there are several encouraging signs. Cook noted that revenue was near the high-end of Apple’s guidance range for the quarter, and gross margin was actually at the top of the guidance range. The global launch of the iPhone SE in this quarter was very successful, and Cook noted that demand for the new iPhone outstripped supply for most of the quarter, with additional capacity required to achieve balance as Apple enters the next quarter. Cook referred to initial sales data revealing that the iPhone SE has been very popular in developed and emerging networks, and that the percentage of iPhone SE sales going to customers who are new to the iPhone is greater than Apple has seen in several years. Apple had millions of first-time smartphone buyers in the June quarter, and Cook reported that switchers from other smartphone platforms accounted for the highest iPhone sales numbers Apple has ever measured.
Speaking about Apple’s services business, Cook stated that they saw strong increases in Apple Music, iCloud, and AppleCare, with a growth of 19 percent to a record $6 billion in services revenue, up almost $4 billion year-over-year to $21.3 billion in total. Cook explained that services revenue is expected to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by next year, and it continued to be fueled by Apple’s active installed base of devices, making it clear that Apple is continuing to provide services with the goal of gaining ongoing revenue from existing iPhone users rather than relying on year-over-year hardware upgrades and purchases. Cook also highlighted the release of the 9.7” iPad Pro, noting that half of iPad Pro purchase are being bought for work purposes, and touched on the Apple Watch continuing to be the best selling smartwatch, ranking highest in customer satisfaction. Citing the recent launch of Apple Pay in Switzerland, France, and Hong Kong, Cook explained that Apple Pay adoption outside of the U.S. has been “explosive,” with half of Apple Pay transaction value coming from non-U.S. markets.
Apple reported its third quarter 2016 financial results today, with 40.4 million iPhones and 10 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $42.4 billion and quarterly net income of $7.8 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share. In Q3 2015, Apple had revenue of $49.6 billion and net income of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. Gross margin was 38 percent compared to 39.7 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 63 percent of this quarter’s revenue. For Q4 2016, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $45.4 billion and $47.5 billion, and gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.
Chicago police have arrested six people in connection with “an organized criminal enterprise” using stolen credit cards at various Apple stores, the Chicago Tribune reports. The suspects were using identities and credit card numbers stolen from victims throughout the country to make fraudulent purchases, police said. The suspects, all of whom were from New York state, would fly into O’Hare International Airport, rent a car and visit local Apple stores to buy merchandise. Police successfully recovered more than $10,000 in stolen Apple products from the suspects, who were all charged with multiple felonies.
Apple is relaxing its controls on autoplay videos in Safari with the release of iOS 10, allowing silent or muted videos to start automatically. A post on the WebKit blog explains the rationale behind the changes as an effort to keep up with new display needs, as developers integrate more video elements into their sites. Some of those pages don’t work on iOS 9 due to user gesture requirements, so Apple is relaxing its restrictions. Silent or muted video will be allowed to play, while video with an audio track will load but be paused.
Apple has brought in one of its most highly regarded former executives to head up its secret automobile project, The Wall Street Journal reports. Bob Mansfield, who joined Apple in 1999 and was a top executive under Steve Jobs, lead the development of some of Apple’s biggest products, including the MacBook Air, iMac and iPad. After announcing his retirement in 2012 only to reverse course and stay with Apple working “on future products” just 2 months later, Mansfield moved from his post heading the company’s hardware engineering teams to lead a new group that later produced the Apple Watch. Mansfield made another public exit from Apple’s executive team in 2013, but earlier this month employees at the company began noticing all of the senior managers on the Project Titan car project were now listed as reporting to Mansfield. Neither Apple nor Mansfield responded to requests for comment about the move.
Apple is planning to jump on board the fashion trends for the 2016 Olympic Games with a lineup of special edition Apple Watch bands representing the flags of fourteen of the major countries who will be participating in the Games. A new report in GQ reveals that the new limited-edition nylon bands will be sold exclusively at the Apple Store, VillageMall in Barra da Tijuca for $49 beginning in early August, and will include bands for the U.S.A., Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and The Netherlands.
A detailed profile in The Information (via Macrumors) of three brothers allegedly working on Apple’s new car initiative, codenamed “Project Titan,” notes that the rumored 2020 launch date may be slipping to 2021 due to a number of challenges that the team has encountered. According to people “briefed about aspects of Titan,” the group has been struggling, and the January departure of Apple VP of Product Design Steve Zadesky, who was believed to be heading up the project since 2014, has not helped both in terms of direction and morale. Despite this, however, the project remains at an early stage, and with another several years of research and development ahead, it would not be unexpected for Apple’s roadmap to change even further — last fall the Wall Street Journal reported that the Apple Car was targeted to ship as early as 2019.
A new class action lawsuit has been filed in California alleging that Apple is not living up to the terms of its AppleCare+ service plan by providing refurbished service stock replacements to customers rather than new devices. The suit takes specific issue with Apple replacing damaged devices with refurbished devices, focusing on the clause in the AppleCare+ terms that state that devices replaced under the program are “equivalent to new in performance and reliability” with lawyers for the plaintiffs arguing that refurbished means “a secondhand unit that has been modified to appear to be new” and therefore can’t be considered to be equivalent to a new unit in durability or functionality.
A new report by Macrumors suggests that Apple may be behind the recent acquisition of Omnifone, a cloud-based music provider behind the MusicStation service as well as providing the foundation for mobile partnerships through companies including Samsung, Vodafone, LG, Blackberry, Sony, and others, powering Samsung’s Milk, Sony’s Music Unlimited and Blackberry’s BBM Music services. A report earlier this month in Music Ally indicated that Omnifone’s tech business and assets had been purchased by a “mystery buyer” in the U.S. for $10 million, and sources back in May of this year suggested to Music Ally that Apple was believed to be interested in the company. Despite earlier reports that Apple might purchase Omnifone for its patent portfolio, documents covering the sale note that the patent portfolio was excluded, as were all debts and investments, although the terms did include a “royalty bearing license” that the company claims will help it to determine the value of its patent collection; Omnifone holds a number of patents related to downloading music, digital rights management, and generating recommendations that would likely appeal to streaming music companies.
Update: Jim Dalrymple of The Loop notes that although the original report does indicate a “mystery buyer” of Omnifone, his sources have told him that Apple is not the buyer.
Apple has released the second public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program. Corresponding to the third beta released to developers earlier this week, the latest public beta continues enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News, the new lock screen, today widget, and notification system, and on-device intelligence for face, scene, and object recognition in the Photos app on 64-bit devices. iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE users in the United States should also now be able to take advantage of the new beta transcription service in the Visual Voicemail app. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet is finally clearing the way for Apple to open retail stores in India after a series of delays hampered the company’s plans for expansion into the country, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the discussions said the cabinet is likely to approve a three-year exemption to the country’s requirement that single-brand retailers obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, overruling the country’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which ruled in May that Apple had to comply with all of the restrictions. To justify the exemption, the government is making it easier for foreign companies like Apple to meet the criteria to be listed as a provider of “cutting-edge technology,” according to sources who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.
Apple is adding an additional incentive for Apple Store customers in the U.S. and U.K. to activate Apple Pay by offering a $5/£5 iTunes Gift Card, according to a new report by Macrumors. Customers making an in-store purchase will be asked by Apple Store staff whether they will be paying with Apple Pay, and customers who do not already have Apple Pay set up on their iPhones and wish to do so will be taken through the process by the Apple Store employee and receive an iTunes Gift card in return for setting up Apple Pay and using it to make their purchase. The promotion will be available for any purchase made in an Apple Store, regardless of whether the customer is purchasing an Apple product, third-party accessory, or even an Apple Store or iTunes Store gift card.
In an effort to crack down on phones being imported into the country by smugglers, Iranian officials have demanded that Apple officially register in Iran or have its products banned, The Japan Times reports. “If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office told Tasnim News Agency. The director’s name wasn’t provided in the report. The new project, running under the president’s office, will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database.
Apple has released the third developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The third round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases; the third round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the second round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. A new voicemail transcription beta is available in the iOS 10 beta 3 on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE with Siri language set to English (United States), and a new beta of the Apple TV Remote app is also available.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, provided some interesting perspective into Apple’s strategy in regards to television services and providers, tacitly denying many recent reports suggesting the company is pushing into original content. Cue emphatically denied that Apple is looking to acquire a studio or launch its own streaming TV service anytime soon, suggesting that Apple’s strategy is instead to work with many content providers and allow end users to “consume content in a much better way.”
Apple has put out an open casting call for app developers looking to be featured in the company’s original series “Planet of the Apps.” Announced earlier this year, the show will follow developers as they receive hands-on guidance from experts in the tech community, funding from top venture capitalists, and featured placement in the App Store. Online applications are being accepted until August 26, and applicants must agree to have “an iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS app in a beta or functional state by October 21.” The first season will film in Los Angeles from late this year into early 2017, so those hoping to be on the show will need to be available for that period.