Apple has invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing, CNBC reports. In a statement regarding the move, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that the investment was intended to “help the company better understand the critical Chinese market.” With Apple’s sales flagging in China, and the company coming under pressure from Chinese regulators who seem to be moving to a “China first” economic policy, the move could also be seen as an attempt by Apple to encourage the Chinese government to perceive Apple’s business interests in the country in a more favorable light by directly supporting the Chinese economy. Cook stressed that he remains confident in the Chinese market, and noted that the deal “reflects our excitement about their growing business ... and also our continued confidence in the long term in China’s economy.”
Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is in the final stages of selecting a site in the Indian state of Maharashtra for its new iPhone manufacturing plant, The Economic Times of India reports. Sources familiar with negotiations said the Foxconn factory will cost an estimated $10 billion and focus exclusively on iPhone production. Negotiations are ongoing between Foxconn and India’s government, but a finalized deal is expected soon once Foxconn chooses the final location for its 1,200-acre facility.
During a meeting with Apple, seven top podcasters voiced serious concerns over the company’s apparent lack of interest in their business, The New York Times reports. Despite essentially creating the format for downloading “digital audio shows” in 2005, Apple’s cumbersome process for promoting shows and lack of solid tools for artists to share and monetize their work drew serious criticism, according to two attendees of the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Apple is among several technology companies that have been seeking large parcels of land in the San Francisco Bay Area for autonomous car facilities, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. Victor Coleman, chief executive of Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. — a company with extensive real estate holdings in the area — told analysts that his company is “seeing a definitive movement” and “hot demand” for autonomous-car research-and-development facilities. Demand is coming not only from the expected players such as Toyota, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, and Ford, but also Apple, who is reportedly looking to secure 800,000 square feet for their autonomous cars.
Apple has announced a partnership with enterprise application software leader SAP to build a new software development framework that would allow SAP developers to build native iOS applications that integrate with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, providing organizations with efficient mobile access to SAP enterprise data within their organizations. The two companies will deliver a new SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK that will be available exclusively for iOS, which will empower SAP’s 2.5-million member global developer community to build mobile enterprise apps for SAP’s open platform. The platform will have a new design language — SAP Fiori for iOS — that will combine the SAP Fiori user experience with the consumer-grade iOS experience, and a new SAP Academy for iOS will offer tools and training for SAP developers. The new SDK, design language and academy are expected to begin rolling out later this year.
Apple has added a new Accessibility category to its online store, highlighting accessories specifically designed for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The new section also includes specific sub-categories to allow users to filter by accessories geared to assisting in visual, physical and motor skill, and learning & literacy areas. The Accessibility section is limited in selection compared to other sections in Apple’s online store, with only 15 different accessories available at this point.
Kohl’s has become the first company to integrate its in-store rewards points system with its charge card in Apple Pay, according to a release from the company. By the end of the month, all customers using their Kohl’s charge account through Apple Pay will be able to link their account to a Yes2You Rewards card so that loyalty points are processed during the same single-tap transaction.
Apple has hired former Nest executive Yoky Matsuoka to work on the company’s health intiatives, Fortune reports. Matsuoka is a famed robotics expert who co-founded Google’s X lab, helped develop a revolutionary robotic arm at MIT and won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for using technology to help disabled people and stroke victims regain the use of their limbs. She left her position as Nest’s head of technology in 2014 when Google bought the company and planned a move to Twitter before announcing she had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Apple said Matsuoka is working for COO Jeff Williams, who oversees the company’s growing HealthKit, ResearchKit and CareKit frameworks.
Apple has lost its exclusive rights to the “iPhone” trademark in China, Legal Daily reports. The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled in favor of Xintong Tiandi Technology, which was granted a trademark on “iPhone” in 2010 to be used in connection to a line of leather goods the company sells. Apple filed applications to trademark “iPhone” for sales of electronic goods in 2002, but was only granted the trademark in 2013. Apple sued in 2012 over Xintong Tiandi’s use of “iPhone” on its handbags, phone cases and other leather products, but the courts ruled that Apple couldn’t prove it was a well-known brand in China before Xintong Tiandi filed for its trademark in 2007. Apple’s iPhone first went on sale in China in 2009.
Apple will reveal sweeping changes to Apple Music at this year’s WWDC in an effort to draw new interest in the streaming music service, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the plans said the company is trying to make Apple Music’s user interface much more intuitive after the first version was met with tepid reviews and failed to draw the numbers that competitors like Spotify boast. Insiders said development of that first product was complicated by internal culture clashes within Apple that had been brewing ever since the company acquired Beats two years ago, with the company still struggling to integrate the two groups of employees and unite its streaming and download businesses into one coherent music promotion strategy.
Apple has released the fourth developer betas for iOS 9.3.2 and tvOS 9.2.1. As with prior betas, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements and do not likely include any new user-facing features. The much smaller number of “Known Issues” in the release notes as compared to prior betas suggest that both versions may be nearing final release.
The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.
India has rejected Apple’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, an unnamed telecommunications ministry source told Bloomberg. Apple wanted permission to sell used devices to draw in cost conscious buyers left in the cold when the company discontinued sales of the iPhone 4s and 5c in February, driving the price of an entry-level iPhone from 12,000 rupees to 24,000 rupees. But after rivals made the case that Apple was essentially turning India into a dumping ground for electronic waste and skirting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program, the company’s application to sell used devices seems to have fallen flat.
Apple is reportedly upholding its pledge to make every effort to access the iPhone 6 of a teen who was lost at sea, but whatever data they find is now going to the courts rather than the family, ABC News reports. Blu Stephanos contacted Apple for help accessing his son Austin’s phone after it was discovered aboard the 14-year-old’s ship, but Pam Cohen, mother of the other teen who went missing during the voyage, took the issue to court, fighting to have the phone handed over to experts instead.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who took a large position in Apple three years ago, how now sold his stake over concerns with the company’s situation in China, CNBC reports. Speaking to CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Icahn stated that “We no longer have a position in Apple,” while adding that Apple is a “great company” and that he feels that CEO Tim Cook is still “doing a great job.”
Icahn cited China’s current attitude toward Apple as being the main incentive for him to exit his position, noting concerns that China’s government could “come in and make it very difficult” for Apple to do business there. The Chinese government can be capricious, as evidenced by its sudden turnaround on iTunes Movies and iBooks sales last week. Icahn added, however, that he would likely buy back into Apple if China “was basically steadied.” Icahn previously owned slightly under one percent of Apple’s outstanding shares, which have fallen over six percent this week following the company’s latest earnings call; Icahn said he made roughly $2 billion on Apple, and still touts the stock as “cheap” despite his reservations.
Apple has officially launched its new CareKit platform today, with four new apps available out of the gate, and more expected to come. Announced last month, CareKit is an extension of Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit initiatives, designed to better facilitate doctor-patient communication by allowing users to automatically share health information with care providers and loved ones. The new apps already available with CareKit support include Glow Nurture, Glow Baby, Start, and One Drop.
Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q2 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported again that Apple sold 51 million iPhones, but noted that the numbers fell short of the iPhone sales in the year-ago quarter. Cook noted that iPhone sales remain healthy and strong in all purchase target markets, with slightly higher upgrades in the iPhone 6s cycle that are higher than in the iPhone 5s cycle two years ago, but slower than in the iPhone 6, which contributed to Apple’s sales a year ago. The Apple CEO also highlighted the fact that iPhone customers are very loyal with a 95 percent satisfaction rate, and indicated that Apple has added more switchers from other platforms in the past six months than in any other quarter ever, and that iPhone sales continue to be strong in emerging markets, such as India where iPhone sales are up 56% over a year ago.
Speaking to services revenue, Cook noted that services in the March quarter equalled $6 billion, with App Store revenue up 35 percent, beating last quarter’s all-time record, and Apple Music continuing to grow, reaching 13 million subscribers this quarter. As a result, Apple’s music revenue has now hit an inflection point after many quarters of decline. Cook reiterated Apple’s installed base of one billion devices, noting that they are an important recurring source of revenue, with the purchase value of services tied to devices reaching $9.9 billion in the March quarter, up 27 percent over last year, and accelerating from the December quarter. Apple Pay also continues to expand, following its successful launch in China and last week’s rollout in Singapore, growing the user base by more than five times, adding one million new users per week, and noting that over ten million contactless-ready locations are available in countries where Apple Pay has launched today, with 2.5 million locations now accepting Apple Pay in the U.S.
Apple reported its second quarter 2016 financial results today, with 51.2 million iPhones and 10.2 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share. In Q2 2016, Apple had revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 40.8 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 67 percent of this quarter’s revenue. For Q3 2016, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $41 billion and $43 billion, and gross margin between 375 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.
After its launch in retail stores last year, Apple has finally made its iPhone Upgrade Program available to those buying their iPhone online. After clicking the “Buy” option for an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, the first screen of the checkout process includes the option to enroll in the program for $32.41 per month for a 16GB 6s or $36.58 per month with the 16GB 6s Plus. The price goes up as the storage options increase.
The father of a teen who was lost at sea said Apple is attempting to reactivate his son’s iPhone in the hopes of learning more about his fate, ABC News reports. The phone was found aboard the boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were on when they went missing. Blu Stephanos said, “We’ve been working with the phone’s manufacturer who seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business, since Austin’s phone has been submerged in salt water for over eight months.”
The Department of Justice has dropped its appeal of a decision that prevented the government from forcing Apple to unlock a convicted drug dealer’s iPhone, Bloomberg reports. The DOJ had pledged to fight on after a judge ruled the government’s use of the All Writs Act to compel Apple’s assistance was illegal, but dropped the case after obtaining the passcode to access the device from a third-party. That leaves a 50-page ruling supporting Apple’s view in the encryption dispute as the final word on the matter, and while that decision isn’t binding in other cases, it could still influence future court battles.