Apple today announced that it will officially launch the iPhone 4S in China on January 13. “Customer response to our products in China has been off the charts,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With the launch in China next week, iPhone 4S will be available in over 90 countries making this our fastest iPhone rollout ever.” In addition to China, the company will also launch the handset in 21 additional countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guam, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Uganda.
Apple will hold a an “important” event in New York City later this month, focused on publishing and iBooks, according to a pair of independent reports. Citing multiple sources close to the situation, AllThingsD reports that the schedule for the event could change at any moment, and that the event will focus on a media-related announcement — although it states that the event could be related to some kind of advertising or even publishing announcement, and notes that Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue is reportedly involved. TechCrunch claims that it has confirmed the report with an anonymous source, who stated that the event will not involve any hardware, but will instead focus on publishing and eBooks. According to the report, the event will be used to unveil improvements to iBooks, and is not considered to be “major.”
French retailer eBizcuss has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming unfair competition. Citing French-language Le Figaro, ifoAppleStore reports that the complaint alleges that Apple favors its own retail stores when shipping new products. eBizcuss CEO François Prudent says that his 16 locations in France suffered a 30 percent decline in business during Q3 2011 after supply of iPad 2 and MacBook Air units dried up, and in Q4, his business was unable to obtain any iPhone 4S units. Prudent goes on to claim that he can trace the product shortages to the opening of Apple’s Carousel del Louvre store in late 2009, and that Apple is soliciting his business customers directly. “The proposals submitted to Apple commercial enterprises are lower than prices at which we buy the equipment,” Prudent claims. Apple has yet to comment on the suit.
Apple has posted a new webpage dedicated to its iTunes Match service. Launched in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. The walkthrough video and page clearly explain how the service works and the steps needed to subscribe, while the FAQ addresses topics such as supported file types, number of devices supported—up to 10—and whether the service streams or downloads songs. For more information on iTunes Match, see our Instant Expert article.
Apple has been hit with a substantial fine over its warranty practices in Italy. BBC News reports that Italy’s antitrust authority handed Apple a €900,000—roughly $1.2 million—fine for the company’s failure to inform customers of their legal right to two years of technical support, instead recognizing only the one-year warranty, such as standard in the U.S. The penalties will be applied to Apple’s three local divisions—Apple Italia, Apple Sales International, and Apple Retail Italia.
Apple is planning to launch its rumored TV set in 32- and 37-inch sizes, according to a new report. Citing industry sources, DigiTimes reports that Apple’s upcoming sets will be full televisions, unlike the company’s current Apple TV set-top box, and will be focused on 32- and 37-inch models. In addition, the report, citing “media reports” in Korea, also claims that Samsung started producing chips for the device last month. The report goes on to speculate that the sets will launch in the second or third quarter of 2012 and may be accompanied by a next-generation update to the current Apple TV set-top box. An Apple-branded TV set has been rumored for some time; however, reports of the company’s plans in the place have increased substantially since the debut of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, in which Apple’s late co-founder and former CEO states that the company had finally “cracked” the TV.
Apple has started to send out sixth-generation iPod nano units to customers participating in the Replacement Program for the first-generation iPod nano. One iLounge editor yesterday received a silver sixth-generation unit as a replacement for a first-generation unit via the Replacement Program, a change from earlier replacement units, which appeared to be refurbished first-generation models. The shift to newer replacements will likely thrill many customers, but for collectors, it may be cause for hesitation, as it has yet to be seen whether Apple will once again start to send out first-generation replacements as they receive the faulty units. Apple launched the replacement program last month as a way to deal with potential safety risks caused by faulty batteries.
Apple has accused Samsung of patent infringement in Australia, reports Bloomberg. According to the report, Apple claims that Samsung’s cases for its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and various phones infringe at least 10 of its patents. Apple has issued a notice of infringement to Samsung, and will file a statement of claim, Apple’s lawyer Stephen Burley revealed at a hearing in Sydney. During the hearing, Apple argued that a scheduled trial on Samsung’s claims that the Apple’s 3G products infringe Samsung’s patents should be delayed. “This matter can’t be ready in time for March,” Burley said. “It’d be unfair to Apple if the case were to be hurried on.” Apple and Samsung are currently involved in more than 30 different lawsuits against one another. [via MDN]
Apple is now offering free next-day shipping on many online orders in the United States. According to Apple’s holiday shipping page, non-engraved iPads and iPods, the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, non-customized and popular iMac configurations, and the Apple TV can all be ordered today for arrival by December 24, thanks to the free next day shipping offer. For all other products, customers are advised to check their cart for expected delivery dates.
The U.S. International Trade Commission earlier this week ruled that HTC is violating an Apple patent, and ordered an import ban on some of the former’s products. AllThingsD reports that the Commission found HTC to infringe on two claims related to an Apple patent, a ruling that in some ways favored HTC, as an earlier ruling had the company infringing upon two Apple patents. “While disappointed that a finding of violation was still found on two claims of the ’647 patent, we are well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ’647 patent,” HTC said. The ban will take effect April 19 of next year, giving HTC time to demonstrate that it has avoided infringement in its products.
Apple has launched a new Complete My Season Pass feature on the iTunes Store, according to a Mac Rumors report. Similar to the Complete My Album feature, the Complete My Season Pass feature discounts the price of full TV show seasons by the amount of any individual episodes previously purchased, allowing users to buy the entire season without paying a penalty for buying individual episodes. It appears that the feature may only be live for certain shows, however, as some older shows no longer available via Season Pass do not show the option.
Apple has started to air its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 4S. Entitled “Santa”, the 30-second spot shows Santa Claus interacting with Siri to get directions, find out the weather, find emails, read text messages, and keep track of his 3.7 billion appointments. The ad is available for viewing on Apple’s website or in embedded form below.
Apple has launched the iPhone 4S in over 20 new countries. According to Mac Rumors, the handset made its debut in Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Apple’s previously stated goal was to have the iPhone 4S available on 100 carriers in 70 countries by the end of the year, a goal it appears that it will reach, as the handset is now available in over 65 countries.
Apple has started to roll out its iTunes Match cloud music service internationally. Available since early November in the U.S. and launched earlier this week in Brazil, links to activate the service have appeared on the front page of the iTunes Store in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and possibly in other countries. iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on 4.4.4, so it remains unclear what—if any—improvements or changes the update offers. Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.
Update: According to Apple, the update “includes general performance and stability improvements, including a fix for an issue that displayed an error when playing some video content.”
Apple plans to open a research and development center in Israel that will focus on semiconductors, according to a new report. Citing Israeli newspaper the Globes, Reuters reports that Apple has already hired Israeli high-tech veteran Aharon Aharon to run the center, which will be located in Herzliya, an area considered to Israel’s version of Silicon Valley. According to the report, the center would be Apple’s first such site outside California; Apple’s vice president of R&D, Ed Frank, is said to be in Israel currently. Earlier this week, a report indicated that Apple is in talks to purchase Anobit, an Israeli fabless semiconductor company specializing in flash storage solutions.
An apparent glitch or oversight in the way Apple’s iMessage SMS replacement service is set up is allowing thieves and unknown buyers of stolen iPhones to continue to receive and send texts via iMessage using the Apple ID of the original owner. Citing separate Mac Rumors and Apple Support forum threads, Ars Technica reports that the problem persists even after the device is registered under a new account. According to the report, neither remote wiping, changing Apple ID passwords, or even moving the prior phone number to a new phone fixes the problem, with the only proven fix to completely cancel the Apple ID that was used for iMessages on the stolen device. Ars contacted Apple to ask why this was happening, but has yet to receive a response.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has once again postponed a final ruling on the dispute between HTC and Apple, according to an HTC official. Speaking with Reuters, the official said that the ruling is now due on December 19, adding that the ITC did not give a reason for the delay. The ITC was due to deliver a ruling in the case, which could see sales of Android-based HTC devices banned in the U.S., on December 6, before it pushed back the date back to today.
Apple is in talks to purchase Israeli company Anobit for $400-$500 million, according to a new report. Citing a report from Hebrew-based Calcalist, TechCrunch reports that should the deal go through, it would be Apple’s first acquisition in Israel and the first under new CEO Time Cook. Anobit is a fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage solutions, which are designed to improve speed, endurance, and performance of flash storage systems while driving down cost. According to the Calcalist report, Apple relies on Anobit’s solutions in the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air, among other devices.
Apple has launched the iTunes Store in Brazil, as well as 15 additional Latin American countries. According to the company, the iTunes Store in Brazil offers a catalog of over 20 million songs, including local artists, over a thousand movies to rent or purchase, many in HD, and iTunes Match. In the other 15 countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela—customers can browse a catalog of music from the major labels and thousands of independent labels, and also receive standard iTunes in the Cloud service for free.