Apple has acquired Matcha.tv, a startup company that developed a second screen TV content discovery app. Matcha.tv was a popular iOS app that shut down in May. The service let users view programs available to watch from TV providers, digital stores such as iTunes and Amazon, and streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu. Matcha.tv’s app also provided a number of social options and recommendations. Apple responded to the acquisition report with a typical statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” One source claimed Apple acquired Matcha.tv for $1-1.5 million, with another source refuting those numbers. Matcha.tv’s service could fit in to Apple’s future plans for TV, or could possibly be used in some capacity in the existing Apple TV. [via VentureBeat]
Update: TechCrunch reports the acquisition likely cost between $10-15 million, and that Apple was interested in acquiring Matcha due to its recommendation algorithms, which worked better than those of competing apps.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison foresees a decline at Apple in the post-Steve Jobs era, based on comments he made during a recent interview. While on “CBS This Morning,” Ellison — a former Apple Board of Directors member and very close friend of late Apple CEO Jobs — didn’t shy away from sharing his opinion on what Apple will be like without Jobs around. “Well, we already know,” Ellison told Charlie Rose. “We saw — we conducted the experiment. I mean, it’s been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,” he said, gesturing upwards. “We saw Apple without Steve Jobs,” he said, drawing a steep imaginary line downwards, then another line up as he repeated, “We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.” Finally, he gestured sharply downwards again while saying, “Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs.” Ellison also referred to Jobs as “brilliant,” saying that “he was our Edison, he was our Picasso,” while noting Jobs’ ability to invent products. His pessimistic take on Apple is the strongest yet from a friend of Jobs, and coincides with concerns apparently voiced by current members of Apple’s Board of Directors. [via AllThingsD]
Apple is now offering a sale on iTunes movie and TV bundles, featuring some surprisingly deep discounts. For example, the entire eight-film Harry Potter collection is being sold for $10 in SD or HD, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is being offered for the same price. The Godfather Trilogy, Back to the Future Trilogy, and a 10-film Star Trek collection are also offered, among many other bundles. Some discounted bundles have appeared in the TV show section as well, including The Sopranos Seasons 1-3 and 4-6 for $45 each—notably down from $125 total before, but up from $40 per bundle several days ago—and a Fan Favorites collection from Star Trek: The Original Series for $10.
Update: Some of the bundle prices were changed early in the sale — the Harry Potter collection went from $10 to $60, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy changed to $18, and some other prices changed, as well. Though some of those early prices were likely accidental, some buyers did get bundles for those low initial prices.
Apple will unveil its next-generation iPhone at a September 10 event, according to a report from AllThingsD—a publication that is frequently fed accurate advance details on upcoming product releases by Apple. AllThingsD says that the event will focus on the “update it has in store for the current iPhone,” but doesn’t definitively rule in or out an unveiling of the well-documented but still unannounced low-cost iPhone. “Naturally, any new phones will be running iOS 7,” the report notes, suggesting that the public release of the operating system first shown in June will also take place in September.
The report suggests that the event is unlikely to see the release of OS X Mavericks, and says there is “no indication” that Apple’s television or watch products are “close to debuting.” Nothing was said about new iPads, iPods, or other products.
Apple’s board of directors have become concerned with the pace of innovation at the company post-Steve Jobs, and that concern is “manifesting into pressure on” Apple CEO Tim Cook to innovate, according to Fox Business News’ Charlie Gasparino. The board “is now worried about what’s in the pipeline,” Gasparino said, referring to a lack of innovative products from Apple moving forward under Cook. However, Gasparino also claims that the board is completely behind Cook at this point. “This does not mean Tim Cook is out of a job or there’s a job search out there,” he said.
President Barack Obama met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a number of other technology executives yesterday to discuss government surveillance, according to Politico. Thursday’s meeting was one of “a number of discussions” the Obama administration is holding on surveillance, which an aide said is part of the president’s “national dialogue about how to best protect privacy in a digital era, including how to respect privacy while defending our national security.” Cook had no comment on the report. The issue of government surveillance has been in the spotlight since a June report on PRISM, the code name of the extensive government data mining program. Apple denied knowledge of the program, and denied its servers were being accessed by government agencies.
T-Mobile may soon carry more Apple products, as CEO John Legere alluded to the possibility in a recent interview. “I think there’s a whole array of Apple products that we look forward to carrying,” Legere told AllThingsD. “We will expand what we offer from them.” Legere may have been referring to WiFi + Cellular iPads, Apple’s new upcoming iPhones, or all of those devices.
Apple recently saw an import ban on older iPhones and iPads vetoed, and now the company is trying to turn the tables on Samsung by asking a U.S. appeals court tomorrow to block sales of certain Samsung devices. Bloomberg reports that Apple will try to block the sale of Samsung models that have been found to violate patents covering the “iPhone’s look and features.” A U.S. trade agency will then determine if any Samsung imports will be stopped. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and an import ban was to block the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the first- and second- generation 3G iPads from being imported to the U.S., but the ban was recently overturned by the Obama administration.
Apple rolled out movie support for iTunes in the Cloud across eight more countries today: Austria, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Users in those countries can now re-download previously purchased iTunes movies. Notably, Apple has yet to mark the countries as now offering movie support on the iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match Availability page. There are still a number of countries in which Apple offers support for music and music videos in iTunes in the Cloud, but not movies. [via MacRumors]
The five major U.S. publishers that settled with the U.S. government prior to trial are objecting to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed remedy for Apple’s e-book price fixing, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a court filing, publishers said eliminating the “agency model” for five years as proposed would harm the publishers instead of Apple, since publishers were given the ability to set the retail prices for e-books under the model. The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins — all settled with the government before a price fixing trial, while Apple went to court and was subsequently found guilty of fixing e-book prices. Apple has spoken out against the DOJ’s proposal, calling it a “draconian and punitive intrusion.”
An outage with Apple’s iTunes Store is preventing some users from making purchases, as well as completing transactions that were underway at the time of the outage. The issue has continued for nearly two hours as of this writing, according to Apple’s System Status page. iLounge editors have experienced the problem firsthand, in the form of being unable to complete video purchases, and through in-progress app downloads that won’t authorize via iTunes.
Update: Apple’s System Status page is now showing a number of issues with other services. According to the status page, “Users may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore. Users may also be unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup.”
Second update: All of those services have been restored, but now some users are unable to make FaceTime calls, according to Apple’s System Status page as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Apple will soon make major changes to its AppleCare support service, including making online chat support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to a report. Around-the-clock chat support could go live as soon as Aug. 12, with the online chat “likely” to support users of both iOS devices and Macs. Along with the always-available online chat support, Apple is also readying the launch of a redesigned AppleCare website. The interface of the revamped site will feature larger and simpler navigation and icons, similar to iOS. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has released iOS 7 beta 5 to registered developers. The fourth beta was released just last week after Apple’s developer site went down, so it appears Apple is trying to stick to the original release schedule for the iOS 7 betas. As has repeatedly been the case iOS 7 beta 5 only lists “bug fixes and improvements” as features, and is available for developers through Software Update in iOS settings, or Apple’s developer portal.
Update: Apple has also released Apple TV Software beta 4.
Apple has announced a new USB Power Adapter Takeback Program following two reported user-shocking incidents in China that were blamed on third-party adapters, one of which allegedly caused a woman’s death, and another allegedly placing a man in a coma. The new program lets customers drop off third-party adapters with which they may have concerns at Apple retail stores or Apple authorized service providers. Apple will then dispose of the adapters in an “environmentally friendly way.”
Those who turn in at least one USB power adapter and bring along their iOS device for serial number validation will be able to purchase an official Apple USB power adapter for just $10, or the approximate equivalent in local currency. Customers will be able to purchase one $10 adapter for each iPhone, iPad, and iPod they own. The takeback program starts Aug. 16 and the special pricing for power adapters will run until Oct. 18.
Apple has emailed an update on the continued restoration of its developer website, following an intrusion a few weeks ago. The update notes most of the developer services are back online, and most of the remaining services will be reinstated this week. As of this writing, four services were still marked as offline on the Apple developer system status page. Those services are Xcode Automatic Configuration, Member Center, Program Enrollment and Renewals, and Technical Support.
Regulators in China are looking into allegations that two Apple suppliers — Foxconn and UniMicron plants in Kunshan — are polluting nearby rivers with toxic heavy metals. Chinese environmental regulator and local vice director Ding Yudong said testing could take a while, and violations could come with serious penalties. Foxconn said it complies with emissions standards and noted that other facilities in the same industrial park discharge wastewater into the rivers. UniMicron said that it does daily wastewater inspections, and quarterly inspections are done by a third party. An Apple spokeswoman said the company regularly audits suppliers and works to ensure environmental standards are met. [via The Wall Street Journal]
Apple can continue to sell the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the first- and second-generation 3G iPads in the U.S. after the Obama administration overturned an import ban on the devices, Bloomberg reports. The import ban, which was to start today, came about after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated a Samsung standards-essential patent. However, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the ban was unwarranted, as Samsung could continue to seek financial damages without stopping Apple from selling the devices.
An Apple spokeswoman told AllThingsD, “We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case. Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way. On the other side, a Samsung spokesman said, “We are disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.” The matter isn’t completely over, as Samsung has already said it’s been granted an appeal hearing on the issue next year, according to the Financial Times.
Apple has responded to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed restrictions to remedy the company’s e-book price fixing, calling the proposal “a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business.” The company argues in its opposing brief that the restrictions proposed today could cost both dollars and “lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers.” Apple doesn’t believe any further injunction is warranted — but if an injunction is issued, the company suggests mild limitations and obligations which would be a far cry from what the DOJ suggests. A hearing on the remedies is set for Aug. 9. [via AllThingsD]
The U.S. Department of Justice has released a proposed remedy addressing Apple’s e-book price fixing, for which the company was found guilty last month. Under the proposal, Apple would be required to terminate “existing agreements with the five publishers with which it conspired” and to “refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.” The company would be prohibited from “again serving as a conduit of information among the conspiring publishers or from retaliating against publishers for refusing to sell e-books on agency terms.” Apple would also be prohibited from entering into agreements with any content providers that are “likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” Additionally, for two years, Apple would be required to allow other retailers — such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble — to provide links from their own e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing for easy comparison between their own prices and Apple’s prices.
The DOJ is also “asking the court to appoint an external monitor to ensure that Apple’s internal antitrust compliance policies are sufficient to catch anticompetitive activities before they result in harm to consumers.” Apple would pay the salary and expenses of the court-appointed monitor. It must be noted that the DOJ’s proposal must be approved in court. A hearing on the remedies is scheduled to be held on August 9.
Color Zen must be downloaded from within the Apple Store app to get it for free. Reportedly, Apple will be providing a new app, iBook, or piece of iTunes content for free each week, apparently as an enticement to increase interest in Apple’s retail operations. [via 9to5Mac]