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German upholds Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales ban

Samsung was dealt another blow in its ongoing patent battle with Apple as a court in Germany has upheld a ruling barring sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the country. Reuters reports that a higher regional court in Duesseldorf, Germany, said that Samsung may not sell the older version of the 10.1 in Germany. Samsung redesigned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the German market only and named it Galaxy Tab 10.1N to get around the sales ban; Apple subsequently challenged that version in court, but had its claims rejected in a preliminary judgement. A final ruling in that case is expected on February 9.

Apple hires Dixons CEO Browett to lead retail

Apple has announced that John Browett will join the company as senior vice president of Retail. Browett, who will report to Apple CEO Tim Cook, was previously CEO of European technology retailer Dixons, a title he had held since 2007. Browett will join Apple in April, and be responsible for Apple’s retail strategy, as well as the continued expansion of Apple retail stores around the world. Prior to Dixons, Browett held a series of executive positions at Tesco, advised retail and consumer goods clients at Boston Consulting Group, and earned a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University before receiving his MBS from Wharton Business School. He replaces Ron Johnson, who left Apple late last year to become CEO of retailer J.C. Penney.

“Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are thrilled to have him join our team and bring his incredible retail experience to Apple.”

Apple using lottery system to battle iPhone scalpers

Apple has implemented a new lottery reservation system for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S sales in Hong Kong that it hopes will help limit the efforts of scalpers. 9to5Mac reports that the new system should prevent the scalpers from using automated bots to overwhelm Apple’s reservations servers by requiring prospective buyers to give both a name and ID number, which need to match a government ID presented at the time of purchase. It is unclear if Apple plans to expand the use of the system to other areas and countries; the full text of Apple’s message regarding the change appears below.

“Due to high demand, we are accepting a limited number of iPhone reservations per day. To request an iPhone reservation, please choose your store and the iPhone you want. If we have an iPhone reservation for you, you’ll receive a confirmation email by 9:00 p.m. tonight that includes the time when you can pick up your iPhone tomorrow. A government-issued photo ID matching the name and ID number on your reservation is required for iPhone purchases. If you don’t receive an email, we were unable to reserve an iPhone for you, and you can try again another time. Only those who receive an email confirming their reservation will be able to purchase an iPhone; we will not be selling iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to walk-in customers.”

iPhone 4S now ‘In Stock’ on Apple online store

After months of backlog, Apple appears to have finally reached a supply/demand balance on the iPhone 4S, at least in the United States. A quick check of the company’s online store shows all three iPhone 4S capacities—in both black and white—as “In Stock”, suggesting that new orders likely ship out as soon as the payment can be processed. During last week’s financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed the overwhelming demand for the iPhone 4S, saying that the company made a “large bet” in building as many units as it did, but still “bet too low”, as it ended the quarter with a backlog of orders. [via Electronista]

Apple posts warranty advisory on online store in Italy

After being fined late last year by the Italian antitrust authority for failing to inform its customers of their legal right to two years of technical support, Apple has posted a new notice regarding the case on its online store in the country. Ars Technica reports that the Italian Apple Store now features a prominent link at the top which leads to directly to the court decision, which contains an explanation of how Apple must change its marketing language for its AppleCare Protection Plans to reflect the mandatory two-year warranty. Apple’s products typically come with only a one-year limited warranty.

Samsung loses second patent suit against Apple in Germany

Samsung has lost its second patent infringement against Apple in Germany. A spokesman for the Regional Court in Mannheim, Joachim Bock, told Bloomberg that the suit—related to three telecommunications standards—has been rejected, while Samsung claims that the ruling relates to only one of several patents asserted against Apple. “We are disappointed that the court did not share our views regarding the infringement by Apple of this specific patent,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will wait for the written grounds of today’s judgment, and after thorough review make a decision about a possible appeal.” Apple had no specific comment on the ruling, according to the report.

Apple CEO Cook responds to claims of worker mistreatment

Following yesterday’s report in The New York Times highlighting the sometimes hard lives of those who work in the factories where Apple’s products are made, Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent out an email to all Apple employees in response. “As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain”, Cook writes in the lengthy email, which was reprinted by 9to5Mac. “Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.” The email continues for several more paragraphs, in which Cook reiterates the company’s commitment to being a leader in this area. For the full text of the email, visit the link above.

Siri-powered Apple OLED TV to launch in April/May?

Apple plans to launch an OLED-based HDTV set as soon as April or May, according to a new report. Citing a high-ranking source with a major electronics retailer, TechnoBuffalo reports that the source has seen pre-production versions of the device, which is described as “gorgeous” and “very thin” and will come in sizes up to 42 inches diagonally. The report goes on to claim that the set will use a Siri-like voice command system in lieu of a typical remote, with the option to use an iOS device as a remote, instead. In addition, the set is said to use facial recognition software to automatically turn itself off if no one is in the room for a set period of time—a feature already found on some competing sets—and automatically wake itself when someone reenters the viewing area.

Apple is also said to be exploring the idea of using the TV to control other appliances in the home, including ovens and garage doors, although the report claims that the source provided no details as to whether Apple make such devices themselves; it is instead suggested that Apple might create a Made For iPod-like program to certify such products from third-party manufacturers. Finally, the report claims that the TV has been delayed in getting to market as the company has been focused on making the first-generation product as feature-complete as possible, as it will have fierce competition not only from established brands but from larger—and often times cheaper—sets. While it seems likely at this point that Apple will launch its own TV set, the timeframe as laid out in the report strikes us as being a little early; if Apple were shooting for such an early launch, reports of early manufacturing tests would quite possibly already have started to appear. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an Apple-branded TV was debuted mid-year at WWDC, possibly later.

Apple’s workers, factories spotlighted in iEconomy series

The New York Times has launched a new series of articles, dubbed The iEconomy, which examine “the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries”, and have focused specifically on Apple thus far. The first article, “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work”, examines the favorable manufacturing conditions in China and other overseas locations that keep Apple from building its products in its home country, while the second, “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad”, examines the sometimes brutal lives of those who build Apple’s products. Both articles are too lengthy to briefly summarize here; we present these only as articles of interest for those who want to know more about the inner workings of Apple and its competitors.

Apple to offer employees $500 off Macs, $250 off iPads

Apple has announced plans to start offering substantial discounts on both Macs and iPads, according to a new report. According to 9to5Mac, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the discount plan—which offers a $500 discount on purchases of Macs and a $250 discount on purchases of iPads—at yesterday’s employee-only Town Hall event. The report claims that the discount program will go live in June, and that employees may only use the discount once every three years. The discounts will reportedly be available for any employee who has been with the company for at least 90 days.

Motorola names iPhone 4S, iCloud in new patent suit

Motorola Mobility has filed a new patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. According to Reuters, the case, filed in a Florida federal court, claims that Apple is infringing upon six patents related to wireless antennae, software, data filtering, and messaging. Notably, Motorola said the patents cited in this suit are the same as those cited in a separate Florida suit against Apple, the difference being that the new suit names both the iPhone 4S and iCloud as infringing products. Google agreed to buy Motorola Mobility last August for $12.5 billion, and likely approved this latest suit as part of its purchase agreement with the company.

Apple CEO Cook to hold employee event to discuss ‘exciting new things’

Following the release of yesterday’s record-setting financial results, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email out to the company’s employees congratulating them on a great start to 2012 and inviting them to a special event. As reprinted by 9to5Mac, the email reads:

“Team,

Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we’re off to a great start in 2012. Last week in New York we launched a groundbreaking initiative for education with iBooks textbooks, and today we reported the strongest quarter in Apple’s history. Please join me tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. in Town Hall. We’ll review our record-setting results and discuss some exciting new things going on at Apple. The meeting will be broadcast live to many sites in Cupertino and other Apple locations. Please check AppleWeb for details.”

Notes from Apple’s Q1 2012 Conference Call

During Apple’s first-quarter 2012 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod businesses, as the company celebrated record revenue, profits, and sales of iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

As usual Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer gave the opening remarks, saying the company was “very proud” of the results. Oppenheimer said that despite the drop off in unit sales, iPod sales beat internal expectations, with the iPod touch representing more than half of all iPod sales. In addition, the iPod retains over 70 percent market share in the U.S., and is still the top-selling MP3 player in most of the countries Apple tracks.

Discussing the iPhone, Oppenheimer said that nearly all of the top companies in Fortune 500 now use and support iPhone on their networks. It is “changing the way companies use mobile devices for work”, he said, noting that many companies were developing mission-critical apps. The 128 percent year-over-year iPhone sales growth outpaced the expected 40 percent growth in smartphone sales overall, he said, adding that the iPhone 4S is now available in 90 countries.

Apple CEO Tim Cook later added that the company was thrilled with iPhone sales for the quarter, which were substantially above the prior 20 million unit sales record. He attributed the outstanding sales to several factors, including consumer enthusiasm, delayed sales from the prior quarter, and the fact that the company made a “large bet” on potential demand—but noted that it still ended the quarter with a backlog, and thus “didn’t bet high enough”. Cook said that sales in the U.S. and Japan were particularly strong, as were iPhone sales in greater China, which is especially surprising given that the iPhone 4S was not available in mainland China during the quarter - and later said that there was nothing to announce regarding the company’s likely tie-up with China Telecom.

Turning to the iPad, Oppenheimer said the company was “very pleased” with its record iPad sales during the quarter, saying that sales surpassed internal expectations. Overall, the company has now sold over 315 million iOS devices, including more than 62 million in the holiday quarter alone—suggesting that the company sold roughly 9.6 million iPod touch units during the period. Oppenheimer also revealed that iOS app developers earned over $700 million during the holiday quarter, and are quickly approaching $4 billion earned since the launch of the App Store in 2008.

Cook later reiterated that Apple is “very happy” with iPad sales, and believes that the record sell through is consistent with its long-term belief that the tablet market is a “huge opportunity” for the company. He said that the company still believes that the tablet market will grow to be larger than the PC market, and noted that based on research, it appears as if tablet sales have already overtaken traditional desktop PC sales. He added that there are now over 170,000 apps available specifically for the iPad compared to “hundreds” for competing products, and also noted that Apple doesn’t really see “limited-function” tablets and eReaders as direct competition for the iPad. Cook said that Apple will continue to “innovate like crazy in this area”.

In addition, Cook uncharacteristically revealed exact Apple TV sales for fiscal 2011 and for the holiday quarter. Saying the product was doing very well, Cook said that 2.8 million units were sold in fiscal 2011, with another 1.4 million units sold in the first quarter of 2012. He also said that the company will continue to add things to it, adding that he personally “couldn’t live without it”. Discussing iCloud, Cook revealed that the company has signed up over 85 million users in just three months, and described consumer response as incredible. He went on to describe the realization of iCloud as a “fundamental shift”, and said that, instead of being a product, per se, it’s actually a very important strategy for the next decade.

Finally, concerning the company’s massive cash balance, Oppenheimer said that the company’s executives and Board of Directors are “actively” discussing options as to what is the best use of the cash - whether it be investments in the supply chain, or acquisitions—before noting bluntly that the company had nothing to report as far as possible stockholder dividends or stock buybacks.

Apple Q1 2012: 37m iPhones, 15.4m iPads, 15.4m iPods

Reporting its first quarter 2012 financial results today, Apple said it sold a record-breaking 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter, a 128 percent increase year-over-year, and up from 17.01 million units in the prior quarter. Apple sold 15.43 million iPads during the quarter—another record—up 111 percent from the year-ago quarter and up from 11.12 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011. Finally, the company said it sold 15.4 million iPods during the holiday quarter — a 21 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year, but up from 6.62 million in Q4 2011. Unit sales of iPhones, iPads, and iPods bring the cumulative totals for the three device categories to 183 million, 55.28 million, and 336.58 million, respectively.

Apple posted revenue of $46.33 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per diluted share, representing all-time revenue and profit highs, compared with revenue of $26.74 billion and net quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share in Q1 2011. Revenue from Other Music Related Products and Services, which includes revenue from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore in addition to sales of iPod services and Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, was $2.027 billion for the quarter, up 42 percent year-over-year and 21 percent over the prior quarter.

“We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline.”

“We are very happy to have generated over $17.5 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 13 weeks, we expect revenue of about $32.5 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $8.50.”

Apple top semiconductor purchaser in 2011

Apple was the world’s top purchaser of semiconductors in 2011, according to new research from Gartner. Apple last year purchased over $17.2 billion in semiconductors, up 34.6 percent from its 2010 total of $12.8 billion, and good for a 5.7 percent share of all semiconductor purchases on a per-company basis. Following Apple on the list was Samsung, with a 5.5 percent share, HP, also with a 5.5 percent share, Dell, with a 3.2 percent share, and Nokia, with a 3.0 percent share. “The major growth drivers in 2011 were smartphones, media tablets and solid-state drives (SSDs),” said Masatsune Yamaji, principal research analyst at Gartner; all three are major growth areas for Apple, including the iPhone, iPad, and the drives found in the company’s MacBook Air laptops.

Apple hires Sony Ericsson exec to head Latin America

Apple has hired away Anderson Teixeira, former President of Sony Ericsson U.S. and Head of Region North America, to become its new head of Latin American operations. According to 9to5Mac, Teixeira, whose official title at Apple will be Latin America General Manager, had been with Sony Ericsson for ten years, and started at Apple earlier this month. A mid-2009 profile on Teixeira revealed that he is a native of Brazil, and during his time with Sony Ericsson was based out of Miami, FL, Raleigh, NC, and Munich, Germany. For Apple, Teixeira will operate out of Apple’s Coral Gables, FL office.

Apple wins round in patent dispute with Samsung

Apple won the most recent round in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung as a German judge ruled in favor of Apple in a patent infringement complaint. Forbes reports that Mannheim Regional Court judge Andreas Voss ruled that Apple did not infringe on what is believed to be a Samsung patent relating to a “turbo channel encoding/decoding device for a CDM communication system”. Samsung has the option to appeal to the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe; according to the report, the ruling is only the first of Samsung’s seven patent claims against Apple in Germany.

iBooks Author EULA draws criticism

The End User License Agreement for Apple’s new iBooks Author app has drawn the attention of some members of the online community. The criticism revolves around a section at the top, which states, “If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.” As summarized by Dan Wineman, that statement, and section 2 B, suggest that “Apple is trying to establish a rule that whatever I create with this application, if I sell it, I have to give them a cut. ” Such an arrangement isn’t unreasonable on the surface, as Apple is providing the software for free, and it does not appear to bar users from distributing works freely online. Wineman argues, however, that Apple did not give him a chance to agree to the terms prior to installing the software, at which point the user is implicitly accepting of it; he compares it to a car dealership hiding secret terms in the glove box, which go into affect as soon as a customer drives a purchased automobile. Apple has yet to comment on the situation.

Apple posts streaming video of education event

Apple has posted a streaming video of this morning’s education event on its website. The video, which clocks in at roughly one hour long, features Apple executives Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and Roger Rosner introducing the company’s new textbook and education initiatives, which include iBooks 2.0, the new digital textbooks section of the iBookstore, iBooks Author for Mac, and the new iTunes U app. For more information on the event, check out our transcript, or simply take a peek at our News section.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.3 with support for iTunes U

Apple has released iTunes 10.5.3, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to the release notes of Apple’s new iTunes U app, iTunes 10.5.3 is required to sync content with the new application; it is unknown what other features or improvements may have been added in the update. iTunes 10.5.3 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes and should be available via the company’s Software Update utility later today.

Update: Apple’s release notes for iTunes 10.5.3 read as follows: “iTunes 10.5.3 allows you to sync interactive iBooks textbooks to your iPad. These Multi-Touch textbooks are available for purchase from the iTunes Store on your Mac or from the iBookstore included with iBooks 2 on your iPad. iBooks textbooks are created with iBooks Author — now available as a free download on the Mac App Store.”

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