- November 10, 2010
Apple has started to sell iBooks Gift Cards in its retail stores. Spotted by iLounge in a Washington, D.C.-area Apple Store, the cards feature a solid color gradient background with the iBooks icon centered on top. Based on an Apple Support Discussions thread from earlier in the year, it appears as though users were able to purchase standard iTunes Gift Cards for use in the iBookstore; the new cards remove any ambiguity customers may have had about whether or not an iTunes GC would be usable in the iBookstore, and will likely be popular add-ons to those purchasing iPads as a gift.
Apple has announced a partnership with marketing firm The Dentsu Group to expand Apple’s iAd mobile advertising platform to Japan early next year. According to the announcement, Dentsu will handle the selling and creative execution of iAds in Japan, while Apple will host, target and deliver the iAds to its iOS users. In addition, Dentsu subsidiary cyber communications, inc. (cci) will provide one-stop services for iAd in Japan including creative production and media planning.
“After an incredibly successful launch in the US where we’ve already doubled the number of brands on the network, we’re excited to bring iAd to Japan,” said Andy Miller, Apple’s vice president of iAd. “Dentsu is one of the world’s most prestigious advertising agencies, making them an ideal partner for iAds in Japan.”
“We’re thrilled to be joining with Apple to introduce such a powerful new ad platform in Japan,” said Ryuichi Mori, Senior Executive Vice President, Dentsu Inc. “Mobile advertising is Japan’s fastest-growing platform and iAd’s rich media experience and engaged audience of iPhone and iPod touch users make it uniquely positioned to capture mobile’s full potential for advertisers and developers.”
Apple has made a change to the way it screens iPods for liquid damage, according to a new report. Citing a screenshot supposedly showing an internal AppleCare document, Boy Genius Report states that employees checking a device for water damage must now look for signs of liquid intrusion beyond the headphone port liquid contact indicator (LCI), even if it is activated. Previously, activation of the headphone port LCI was enough for employees to claim that a device may have been damaged by water or some other liquid, rendering the warranty void. It is unclear whether Apple has made similar changes to its LCI policies for iPhones and iPads, and whether the move is a sign that Apple considers the headphone port indicators overly sensitive and thus unreliable.
- November 9, 2010
Apple has reportedly acquired Wi-Gear, a small San Francisco-based company known for its wireless Bluetooth audio products for the iPod and iPhone. Citing an unnamed source, 9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple purchased the iMuffs maker for an undisclosed sum. The company’s website now states that “Wi-Gear has ceased operations and is no longer in business. We will be unable to respond to any inquiries.” According to the report, Apple is planning to build its own stereo Bluetooth headphones using technology and expertise from Wi-Gear; Wi-Gear co-founder Michael Kim’s LinkedIn profile now lists him as an iOS Bluetooth Engineer at Apple, having joined the company two months ago.
Update: Wi-Gear CEO Mark Pundsack has denied the report that Apple purchased the company, saying it’s still available for sale, and ceased operations due to lack of funding.
According to the latest research released by IDC, worldwide smartphone shipments increased 89.5 percent year-over-year in the third-quarter of 2010, to 81.1 million units. While Nokia continues to hold the top spot in the worldwide smartphone market with 32.5 percent of all shipments, Apple’s Q3 shipments of 14.1 million iPhones — good for a year-over-year unit shipment increase of 90.5 percent — were enough to vault it past BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) into second place with a 17.4 percent share of the market. RIM ranked third with 15.3 percent of the market, followed by Samsung with 8.9 percent, and HTC with 7.2 percent.
A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the company committed false advertising and unfair business practices by encouraging iPhone 3G users to download iOS 4. Wired reports that Bianca Wofford of San Diego is seeking class action status for the suit, and claims that the software upgrade made her iPhone unusable. “The true fact of the matter … is that the iOS 4 is a substantial ‘downgrade’ for earlier iPhone devices and renders many of them virtually useless iBricks,” the complaint reads. Apple admitted to less-than-optimal performance of iOS 4 on the iPhone 3G, calling it a “bug” to be fixed with the release of iOS 4.1.
The complaint also argues that Apple knew installation of iOS 4 on iPhone 3G units would degrade performance, and accuses Apple of releasing it for those handsets purposely to create an incentive for customers to upgrade to the iPhone 4. “Apple has falsely, intentionally and repeatedly represented to owners and consumers of the iPhone 3G that its new operating system for the device, iOS4, was of a nature, quality, and a significant upgrade for the functionality of all iPhone devices, when in fact, the installation and use of the iOS4 on iPhone 3G resulted in the opposite — a device with little more use than that of a paperweight,” the complaint argues. Wofford’s suit seeks damages and will require approval from a judge before class action status is granted.
A supposed Apple internal document outlining the company’s procedures for replacement of devices with dead or abnormal pixels has appeared online. According to the document, a screenshot of which was posted by the Boy Genius Report, it is Apple’s policy to replace any iPod or iPhone with one or more bad pixels—referred to in the document as “pixel anomalies”—and any iPad with three or more problematic pixels. The document also lists procedures for other screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 30 inches, and notes that while employees may offer a replacement unit to customers whose devices have what is considered to be an “acceptable” number of anomalies, the replacement product may have just as many if not more while still remaining within Apple’s acceptable range; the customer will not receive a second replacement device under those circumstances.
Five months after the iPad’s launch in the country, Apple has finally begun offering new release titles on the Australian iBookstore. The Age reports that the store offers titles from a variety of publishers, including Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Hardie Grant, Murdoch Publishers and Wiley. Previously, Australian iBooks users only had access to out-of-copyright titles from the store; an Apple spokesperson said that new release titles on offer now number in the “thousands.” The report also notes that like in other countries, the iBookstore will compete the Amazon Kindle and Kobo apps already available for iOS. [via Macsimum News]
Apple has hired away a senior legal executive from Warner Music Group to join its iTunes team in Europe. Citing an internal WMG memo, Billboard reports that Elliott Peters, senior Vice President and head of digital legal affairs with Warner Music Group, is leaving the company next month to become Apple’s new corporate attorney director for iTunes Europe and Internet services. According to the report, Peters will be based in Luxembourg and will manage the European legal team for iTunes and MobileMe services. While at Warner, Peters worked on a number of corporate transactions before becoming the company’s first digital lawyer, and later helped build Warner’s Digital Legal Affairs team.
The U.S. International Trade Commission staff has issued a memo to ITC Judge Charles Bullock stating that Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple’s patents. “The evidence will not establish a violation” of Apple patent rights, the staff said in a pre-trial memo which was released yesterday. Apple is seeking to block imports of Nokia phones into the U.S. on the basis of patent infringement. Bloomberg reports that the memo also states that if Judge Bullock does find that there was a violation of Apple’s patents by Nokia, that he should recommend an order to block specific models of Nokia phones, as opposed to the company’s entire product line. Bullock is not required to follow the staff’s position, and is expected to release his findings on the matter in February; his ruling will be subject to review by a six-member commission.
Nokia first 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 informed its music distribution and label partners that it will be extending the length of preview clips offered on the iTunes Store from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. The blog Symphonic Distribution quotes Apple as saying, “We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States. We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases.” Mac Rumors has posted a copy of the iTunes Connect notice sent to label representatives, which explains that the 90 second previews will only apply to songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length, and states that by continuing to offer their music on the iTunes Store, the labels are indicating acceptance of the new terms. Notably, this means that any label not wishing to participate will need to pull their music from the store; it currently unknown when Apple will begin its rollout of the longer previews for customers.
- November 2, 2010
Apple is in conversations with mobile payments startup Boku about a potential acquisition or partnership, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the talks, TechCrunch reports that both Apple and Google are in talks with Boku, which, through agreements with cellular carriers, lets customers purchase goods by typing in their phone number instead of using a credit card or PayPal account. The report claims that Boku President and CEO Mark Britto and co-founder Ron Hirson have held multiple meetings with executives from Apple’s iPhone division over the course of the past three weeks. Boku has reportedly been in high-level meetings with Google as well, specifically with Director of Engineering Michael Morrissey, who oversees development for Google Mobile Services for Android. It is unclear whether Google is exploring an outright acquisition, which Apple is said to be seeking; TechCrunch’s source indicates that Apple could end up paying as little as $250 million or as much as $450 million to purchase the company. Boku’s talks with both companies are said to be at an early stage.
Apple and Google previously engaged in talks with mobile advertising firm AdMob, with a last-minute bid from Google preventing Apple from purchasing the company and leading to Apple’s acquisition of Quattro Wireless, which later became the basis for the company’s iAds platform. Jobs later admitted that Apple attempted to purchase AdMob, and that Google came in and “snatched” the company from Apple; that situation may offer Apple added incentive to close a potential deal with Boku before Google has a chance to sign a partnership agreement with and/or purchase the company.
Apple has sent out an email to registered iOS developers letting them know that it is now accepting submissions for iOS 4.2 apps. According to the email, which was submitted to iLounge by a reader, the apps need to be built, tested, and compiled using the iOS 4.2 SDK GM seed and iOS 4.2 GM seed released yesterday before being submitted for review “so they can be ready when iOS 4.2 is available to iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users.” In addition, a few small new changes have been discovered in the iOS 4.2 GM seed, including a change to the Multitasking bar that allows fast access to both Brightness and Volume controls, along with a new AirPlay button, which has changed from a dot with radiating waves to a box with a triangle pointing into it. In addition, the new MobileMe account setup in iOS 4.2 GM lets users log into MobileMe settings using an Apple ID, although the Apple ID logins don’t seem to work yet, according to Mac Rumors.
Our reader added that the overall speed of iOS 4.2 on iPad is much improved, and that audio streaming over AirPlay from iOS devices to Apple TV appears to still be unstable, with drop-outs surprisingly common - the issue appears to be network-related. Updates to the Apple TV and Remote applications appear to be necessary to enable AirPlay video and photo streaming, as iOS 4.2 devices currently do not have any obvious way to share videos or photos, and iPad users will also receive a number of new wallpaper options relative to iOS 3.2. Also noticeable is a color bug in PDF rendering. Finally, the iPad’s side switch continues to be a “mute” button under iOS 4.2 GM, but only mutes alert and keyboard sounds, not other audio, which is odd considering that the iPad has so few alerts.
Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.2. Although Apple has not yet announced a release date for iOS 4.2, public iOS releases have generally occurred within 1-2 weeks of the release of a Gold Master seed. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted new features in iOS 4.2 during its September 1st event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.2 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, second-, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iPhone developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple paid a “7-figure settlement” to settle a trademark lawsuit related to its iAd mobile advertising platform, according to a new report. Cnet reports that Apple is cited as having paid the settlement to Innovate Media, a client of “intellectual asset management” firm Consor, in a news release briefly posted to Consor’s website. Innovate Media filed a lawsuit against Apple over its iAds trademark, which it had used since 2006, in May; in the release, Consor claimed that “the comprehensive confusion analysis and quantification of economic damages performed by Consor were instrumental to Innovate Media reaching a highly favorable settlement with Apple.” Following the discovery of the release, a Consor employee claimed that it was never posted, and later said that some of the information in the release “wasn’t accurate” without elaborating further. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple is currently investigating a rash of problems related to a number of remote + mic headphones made by Monster that are exhibiting “erratic behavior.” Citing an internal Apple source and screen shots of what is supposedly an Apple internal support document, the Boy Genius Report states that the problems affect the iPod, iPhone, and iPad users, and include random, non-intentional track control changes, such as pausing, skipping, and playback initiation. According to the Apple document, the troublesome Monster headphones “do not meet Apple’s technical specifications,” and “use conductive flanges, which can result in electrical shorts that cause an iPod or iPhone to pause and play erratically.” Listed in the document as offending models are the Jamz, Lil Jamz, Turbine Basic and Pro, and Heartbeats product lines.
Following a lawsuit and U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint filed by Motorola Mobility against Apple last month, Apple has filed a pair of patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola and Motorola Mobility. The suits, which name the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour, and Charm as potentially infringing products, center around a handful of Apple patents related to multi-touch technology. According to Patently Apple, the suits specifically reference Apple patents covering an ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces, a multipoint touchscreen, an object-oriented system locator system, a touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics, a method and apparatus for displaying and accessing control and status information in a computer system, and support for custom user-interaction elements in a graphical, event-driven computer system. Apple is seeking a judgment that Motorola has directly infringed, induced infringement, and/or contributed to the infringement of one or more claims of the listed patents, a judgement blocking Motorola or its partners from further infringement, and damages.
According to a recent report by IDC, Apple has joined the ranks of the world’s five largest mobile phone vendors, surpassing Research in Motion (RIM) by 1.7 million units and bumping Sony Ericsson off the list for the first time since IDC began tracking mobile phone market share in 2004. The report indicates that the worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the third-quarter of 2010, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth with vendors shipping 340.5 million phones in total last quarter compared to 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009. The IDC report goes on to note that the smartphone category is growing rapidly and is at least partly responsible for driving the rapid expansion of mobile phone adoption worldwide.
Apple is the second smartphone-only vendor to place in the top five ranking. RIM has already spent three quarters on the IDC leaderboard and both companies posted the highest growth rates among the top five vendors this past quarter. The report attributes Apple’s record performance to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter, and notes that this performance came despite the July “Antennagate” controversy around reception problems.
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s WorldWide Mobile Phone Tracker notes that “The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Vendors that aren’t developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future.” IDC expects the worldwide mobile phone market to be driven primarily by smartphone growth over the next few years, expecting that market to grow 55% year over year. The full report is available from IDC’s web site.
Apple may be working on a new integrated micro-SIM card solution for a future iPhone model, according to a report from GigaOM. Citing sources inside European carriers, the report states that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a SIM card that will be integrated directly into the iPhone and can be activated on any carrier. Customers could then simply buy the iPhone and use an App Store application to sign up for service with their carrier of choice instead of having to purchase a carrier-specific micro-SIM card separately. SIM cards have traditionally been tied to individual carriers, whereas an embedded SIM would accept activation from any carrier rather than containing hard-coded carrier information. Apple is already unique among phone manufacturers in requiring iPhone activation via iTunes and this could be leveraged to provide the same security and carrier activation features without requiring the need for a removable SIM, effectively allowing the integrated SIM chip to be programmed with carrier information during the activation process. Other advantages of removable SIM cards such as international roaming and transferring between devices could likely also be addressed through an on-device app or as part of the iTunes activation process. Neither Apple nor Gemalto have yet responded to any requests for comment.
Apple has removed the white iPhone 4 from the iPhone ordering page on its Online Store. This move follows a report late Tuesday that Apple would be delaying the iPhone 4 until Spring 2011, sparking additional rumours alleging that Apple may in fact have cancelled the white model of the iPhone 4 entirely. The reported Spring 2011 delay would have pushed the white iPhone 4 release very close to Apple’s typical early summer release dates for new iPhone models. Apple has provided no comment on this change and notably the white iPhone 4 still continues to appear in product descriptions and promotional images, as well as Apple’s iPhone 4 Specifications and iPhone 4 Gallery. [via Mac Rumors]