Speaking at the Royal Television Conference in London, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes cautioned against potential deals with Apple and/or Amazon that could harm sales of TV shows to other networks. “How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?” Bewkes said. “These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place.” NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, who has a history of playing hardball with Apple, recently voiced similar concerns about Apple’s 99-cent TV rentals, saying, “We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content. ... We thought it would devalue our content.”
Apple’s flagship store in Beijing was forced to close its doors early today after a group of iPhone 4 scalpers created a chaotic scene. MIC Gadget reports that Apple removed its limitation on the number of contract-free iPhone 4 units any single customer could buy at the store, perhaps unintentionally paving the way for the problems ahead. The store opened at 7:00 a.m. local time, but closed only three hours later, with many customers left in the queue outside, unable to enter. The report claims that scalpers were entering the store and buying large quantities—20-30 units at a time—of iPhone 4s, then proceeding out into the mall and attempting to sell the units to passerby at a higher-than-retail price.
According to the report, people were literally being pushed into the cashier’s counter, some holding stacks of bank notes, prepared to buy as many iPhone 4 units as they could afford. The situation escalated when a group of regular customers got into a fight with the scalpers; Apple’s own security staff, along with local police, were called in to clear the store and restore order. An update to the article states that all four Chinese Apple Stores are now requiring each customer to show his/her identity card when purchasing an iPhone 4, and are limiting sales to just one per customer. In addition, Apple employees are unboxing the iPhone 4 units for customers and activating the phones immediately, preventing scalpers from purchasing the phones and reselling them as “brand new.”
Today is the last day of Apple’s iPhone 4 Case Program, meaning that any potential iPhone 4 customer needs to purchase their phone today in order to be eligible for a free case. Notably, although the purchasing window is closing, customers still have up to 30 days from the purchase date to submit their claim. With the end of the Case Program, Apple is expected to put its Bumper Cases for iPhone 4 back on store shelves, according to a new report. Citing unnamed insiders, ifoAppleStore reports that the cases are expected to reappear for purchase on Friday, and may be limited in quantity and color at first.
TechCrunch reports that Apple has approved the official Google Voice application for the iPhone. Citing a “source close to Google” the article indicates that the application has already been approved and is now just waiting for Google to update it to work with the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 multitasking capabilities. Google first attempted to release a native iPhone application for its online telephony service last summer, however the application was rejected by Apple, citing duplicate functionality. Subsequently, several third-party Google Voice applications were also removed from the App Store based on the same policy—namely that these applications duplicated features that were already present on the iPhone, such as the Phone and Messaging applications.
Following Apple’s publication of a new set of guidelines for the App Store earlier this month, several of the previously rejected third-party Google Voice applications such as GV Mobile+ have made a sudden reappearance. Although no official word has yet been released on Google’s plans for its own Google Voice application for the iPhone, the company presently provides native applications for both the Blackberry and its own Android platform and merely an HTML5 web interface for iPhone users. A native application would be able to offer features that a web-based application cannot, such as Push Notifications and tighter integration with other iOS applications.
Apple has released its second beta version of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, along with its accompanying SDK and a new beta version of iTunes 10.1. It is unclear what new features are present in the update, although it does appear to offer a slightly altered multitasking animation. Slated for a November release, iOS 4.2 will bring several new features to Apple’s mobile device OS, including AirPlay streaming, AirPrint wireless printing, and the ability to import .ics files directly into Calendar as new events, and will bring the iPad’s software feature set into parity with the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s iOS 4.2 beta 2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch and iTunes 10.1 beta are available now as free downloads for paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
- September 28, 2010
Apple has filed a lawsuit against Nokia in Britain claiming patent infringement, extending the ongoing dispute between the two companies beyond U.S. borders. Reuters reports that the U.S. International Trade Commission is set to rule on some of the claims made by the two companies next year, while court hearings in the U.S. legal case aren’t scheduled until 2012. “We are investigating the claims, which appear to be based on nine implementation patents already in suit between the two companies in the United States,” said Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant.
The Finnish company filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by an ITC complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”
The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents.
Apple has released an update to its Remote application for iOS devices, adding native iPad support and compatibility with iTunes 10 and the new Apple TV. Remote 2.0 provides a slightly redesigned user interface on the iPhone and iPod touch to reflect changes in the iOS 4 iPod and Music applications as well as adding support for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G. When running on the iPad, the new Remote application mirrors the design of iTunes 10 when viewed in landscape mode, even including similar playback controls, status window and search fields found at the top of the screen. The update also adds the individual AirPlay volume controls introduced in iTunes 10 and includes support for accessing and controlling Shared Libraries on iTunes and the new Apple TV and can now automatically add iTunes and 2G Apple TV libraries through the iTunes Home Sharing feature. Remote 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.
- September 27, 2010
Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform will end the year with 21 percent of the U.S. mobile advertising market, according to a new report. Citing estimates provided by IDC, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Apple’s percentage of the market will come at the expense of Google, which IDC also expects to end with 21% even when combined with results from AdMob, and Microsoft, which is expected to end 2010 with a 7% share of the market. Notably, Google held a 27% share of the market last year while Microsoft held 10%; Apple didn’t sell mobile ads last year. Mobile advertising sales are estimated to reach nearly $500 million this year.
Apple’s decision to relax its restrictions on tools developers are able to use to create iOS applications has led the European Competition Commission to drop its antitrust investigation into the company. “Apple’s response to our preliminary investigations shows that the Commission can use the competition rules to achieve swift results on the market with clear benefits for consumers, without the need to open formal proceedings,” Commission VP Joaquín Almunia said in a statement. The Commission this spring launched two parallel investigations into Apple’s iPhone business: one concerning its app and app development restrictions, and one concerning its “country of purchase” rule, whereby repairs service was only available in the country where the iPhone was purchased. Apple has since changed the latter policy and has told Authorized Service Providers to offer cross-border support in regions where Apple itself does not offer repair service.
- September 23, 2010
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on ways of reducing the internal size of the headphone jacks featured on its portable devices. Entitled “Audio Jack with Pogo Pins for Conductive Contacts,” the patent describes an audio headphone jack that employs retractable Pogo pins to conserve space. AppleInsider reports that the pins, which are a registered trademark of Everett Charles Technologies and were named after the pogo stick, would become depressed upon insertion of an audio plug, meeting the contacts on the plug. This would replace the traditional, larger “cantilever beam” design; it is unknown whether Apple has used this or a similar audio jack in any shipping products.
Apple has released updates to its iWork suite of productivity applications for the iPad. Pages, Numbers and Keynote have each been updated to version 1.2 adding several new features and improvements over the previous versions. All three applications can now copy documents to and from MobileMe iDisk or other WebDAV services as well as adding the ability to group and ungroup objects. Numbers and Keynote have also added support for exporting documents to the respective Microsoft Office Excel and Powerpoint formats. The updates also add improvements across the board in font matching for iWork ‘09 and Microsoft Office documents, handling of tables with image background fills in cells and customized borders, text options for tables and reliability and performance improvements when sharing documents with iWork.com and importing Microsoft Office documents.
Pages 1.2 also adds an option to display the word count for documents, the ability to open TXT files from the iPad Mail app and import and export features for footnotes, endnotes, sections and tables of contents. Numbers 1.2 adds the ability to open CSV files from the iPad Mail app. Keynote 1.2 adds support for audio in builds on imported Keynote ‘09 presentations, animated build support for grouped objects, and several new build and transition animations such as Lens Flare, Spin, Wipe, Revolving Door and Swoosh. Pages 1.2, Numbers 1.2, and Keynote 1.2 are available from the App Store separately for $10 each, and are free updates for users of the corresponding previous version.
Apple has been sued by a New Jersey-based company over its iTunes video download offerings. The suit, filed by Multi-Format, Inc. in the Northern District of Illinois East District Court, claims that Apple’s products infringe on the company’s 2003 patent entitled “Multi-format audio/video production system.” Patently Apple reports that the suit names the iPhone, iPad, iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod touch, Apple TV, and iTunes as infringing; the patent itself describes the delivery, conversion, and playback of digital video. Multi-Format is seeking damages and interest from the date the infringement began.
Apple has filed a lawsuit against Sanho Corporation, maker of the HyperMac line of external battery accessories, alleging patent violations related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe and 30-pin Dock Connector cables. AppleInsider reports that the suit, filed earlier this month, names the HyperMac Nano, HyperMac Micro, and HyperMac Mini products for the iPod and iPhone. “Defendants manufacture, distribute, and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe connectors used to connect power adapters and other products to Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook,” the suit reads. “Defendants also manufacture, distribute and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s 30-pin connectors and receptacles , used to connect cables to Apple iPod, iPhone and/or iPad products.” The suit seeks “an award of its actual damages, disgorgement of Defendants’ profits from the sale of infringing devices and injunctive relief.”
Apple is currently developing a digital newsstand for the iPad that would offer digital magazines and newspapers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the newsstand would be similar to the iBookstore, and would be separate from the App Store. The report says that the effort is aimed at helping publishers sell subscriptions, as opposed to single issues, and may also draw new customers to the iPad. Talks between Apple and publishers including Time Warner, Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and News Corp. are said to be ongoing, with control over subscriber data, revenue splits, and pricing issues yet to be decided.
As part of the larger effort, Apple is said to be developing new software to make it easier for publishers to create digital versions of magazines and newspapers, with special emphasis placed on adding interactive content such as high-definition video, and is also working on server technology that would allow the publications to be updated in the background. Curiously, Apple in February forced iOS developer omz:software to change the name of its Newsstand RSS reader application due to what it said was a trademark complaint and later added a “Newsstand” section to the App Store highlighting a variety of publications and reading applications.
Apple has announced that it will launch the iPhone 4 in China on September 25. According to the release, the device will be available in Apple’s retail stores beginning at 8:00 a.m., including the new Apple Store Hong Kong Plaza in Shanghai and the new Apple Store Xidan Joy City in Beijing opening on the same day. In Apple’s stores, the iPhone 4 will be available without a contract for CNY4,999 (roughly $744) for the 16GB model and CNY5,999 (~$893) for the 32GB model, while China Unicom will offer the phone with a new two year contract. Strangely, Apple’s off-contract prices are cheaper than Unicom’s pre-order pricing for the iPhone 4 as reported by the Wall Street Journal; it is unclear whether the prior report was inaccurate or if China Unicom is including an extra value for the higher prices.
A new Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a wireless transceiver accessory that would allow devices such as the iPad Wi-Fi and iPod touch to access cellular networks. Entitled “Accessory Transceiver for Mobile Devices,” the application describes a transceiver that can connect to a mobile device via either a cord or wirelessly, and could support functions such as telephony, SMS, e-mail, and web access, via a cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite, or WiMAX network. In another embodiment, the device itself contains a transceiver, and the accessory is used to access a second network. [via]
- September 16, 2010
In an interview with Reuters, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz made disparaging remarks about Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising service. Bartz criticized Apple’s strategy of controlling the content of and producing early ads, saying, “That’s going to fall apart for them. Advertisers are not going to have that type of control over them. Apple wants total control over those ads.” A Wall Street Journal report from August indicated that one announced launch partner—Chanel SA—backed out of the service, and that new ads were taking between eight to ten weeks to create, and sometimes two weeks longer than expected for Apple to build the actual ads themselves, due to the company’s tight control over the creative process and the ad agencies’ learning curves.
In addition to China, Apple has announced (Translated Link) that it will launch the iPad in five Latin American countries — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru — on Friday, September 17. According to the company’s press release, both the iPad Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G will be available from select Apple Authorized Resellers; users in those regions are encouraged to visit http://latam.apple.com/la/buy/ to find a nearby iPad reseller. [via MDN]
According to the latest data from comScore, both Apple and BlackBerry-maker RIM lost U.S. smartphone market share to Android during the three months ending in July 2010. First place RIM went from an average share of 41.1% in the three months ending in April to 39.3% in the three months ending in July, a -1.8% change, while Apple’s share of the market went from 25.1% to 23.8%, or a drop of 1.3%, over the same time period. Android, meanwhile, went from an average of 12% of the market in the three months ending in April to 17% in the three months ending in July, a gain of 5%. ComScore’s numbers represent total U.S. smartphone subscribers ages 13 and up.
Apple today announced that it is releasing a beta version of AirPrint wireless printing for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch to members of its iOS Developer Program, and that the new feature will be part of iOS 4.2 when it is released publicly in November. AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks that can print text, photos, and graphics wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need for additional drivers or software. Supported printers include HP Photosmart, Officejet, Officejet Pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint models, as well as printers shared through a Mac or a PC. Notably, Apple claims that printing will only be supported on iOS devices that support multitasking, yet lists the second-generation iPod touch as compatible, while omitting the iPhone 3G.
“AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC.”
“We’re pleased to work with Apple to bring Apple’s AirPrint to our fall lineup of ePrint printers in time for the holiday shopping season,” said Vyomesh Joshi, HP executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group. “Making it easy for our customers to print anytime, anywhere, is a key priority for HP. iPad, iPhone and iPod touch customers are going to love how easy it is to print using our new range of ePrint printers, creating high-quality printed pages in an instant.”