Apple announced this morning that it plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program later this year. According to the announcement, the company plans to offer a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share sometime in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2012, which begins on July 1. In addition, Apple’s Board of Directors has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program to begin during its fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012. The repurchase program will be executed over three years, with the primary goal being to neutralize the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.
“We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.”
“Combining dividends, share repurchases, and cash used to net-share-settle vesting RSUs, we anticipate utilizing approximately $45 billion of domestic cash in the first three years of our programs,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “We are extremely confident in our future and see tremendous opportunities ahead.”
Apple will hold a conference call at 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time/9:00 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss its plans.
Apple this morning confirmed yesterday’s report that it will begin to sell the third-generation iPad at 8:00 a.m. local time on Friday, March 16. As revealed last week during the company’s special press event, the device will initially launch in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK, along with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. In the US, the third-generation iPad will be available at Apple’s retail stores, as well as Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart. Apple will continue its rollout of the device on March 23, when it launches in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Apple last week released its new Configurator tool, a spiritual successor to the standard iPhone Configuration Utility. According to the tool’s release notes, it allows schools, businesses, and other institutions to configure up to 30 devices at a time, update those devices to the latest version of iOS, create and restore a backup of settings and app data from one device to other devices, create and install iOS configuration profiles, and enroll devices with a Mobile Device Management solution for remote management.
It also allows for the supervision of devices, including automatic application of common configurations to devices and the importation and syncing of apps, as well as the assigning of devices to users using Open Directory or Active Directory, letting a user check out a device and have their settings and data restores, check in a device and have the data backed up for future use—possibly on another device—and the syncing of documents, among other features. Apple’s Configurator tool requires Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 or later and is a free download from the Mac App Store.
During its negotiations late last year, Motorola Mobility attempted to win a wide-reaching patent license from Apple in return for access to Motorola’s SEPs (standards-essential patents). Citing the European Commission’s clearance decision on Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports that the negotiations in question took place in November 2011, and resulted in Apple declining to send a representative who could negotiate a settlement to a December court hearing in Munich.
The portion of the European Commission document in question reads: “For instance, according to Apple, Motorola Mobility has insisted that Apple cross-licenses its full non-SEP portfolio in exchange for Motorola Mobility’s SEPs. Apple also argues that its refusal to accede to this demand led Motorola Mobility to sue Apple in an attempt to exclude Apple’s products from the market. On the terms of Apple’s own argument, Motorola Mobility’s allegedly anti-competitive behaviour in this regard well precedes the merger at issue in the present decision.” Mueller suggests that Apple’s reluctance to provide access to its full patent portfolio will continue to be the key issue in negotiations between the two sides.
Apple senior vice president of Industrial Design Jony Ive has given a rare interview to the London Evening Standard in which he makes several interesting statements regarding the strengths of Apple’s long-tenured, multidisciplinary design team and the difference between Apple’s approach to design and those of competitors. “The way we work at Apple is that the complexity of these products really makes it critical to work collaboratively, with different areas of expertise. I think that’s one of the things about my job I enjoy the most,” Ive said, responding to a question about his small team. “I work with silicon designers, electronic and mechanical engineers, and I think you would struggle to determine who does what when we get together. We’re located together, we share the same goal, have exactly the same preoccupation with making great products.”
“One of the other things that enables this is that we’ve been doing this together for many years - there is a collective confidence when you are facing a seemingly insurmoutable challenge, and there were multiple times on the iPhone or iPad where we have to think ‘will this work’ we simply didn’t have points of reference,” he continued. “For as long as we’ve been doing this, I am still surprised how difficult it is to do this, but you know exactly when you’re there - it can be the smallest shift, and suddenly transforms the object, without any contrivance.” Finally, discussing consumers’ care for design, Ive said, “One of the things we’ve really learnt over the last 20 years is that while people would often struggle to articulate why they like something - as consumers we are incredibly discerning, we sense where has been great care in the design, and when there is cynicism and greed.”
The Rockstar Consortium, a patent group co-owned by Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony, has announced that the US Department of Justice waiting period for review of its proposed acquisition of a substantial majority of the former Nortel Networks patent portfolio has expired. The expiration clears the way for Rockstar to close the deal, giving Apple and its partners access to roughly 4,000 patent assets “spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patents.” Rockstar won an auction for the patents last summer with a bid of $4.5 billion, $2.6 billion of which was provided by Apple.
In a statement released to USA Today over the weekend, Apple confirmed that it has sold out of all third-generation iPad pre-order stock available for delivery on launch day. “Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased,” Apple said in the statement. “Customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date.” On Friday, shipping times for new pre-orders slipped from March 16 to March 19, and Apple’s online store in the US now lists all new orders as shipping in 2-3 weeks. Apple will officially launch the third-generation iPad on March 16.
It appears as though Apple has sold through its launch day allotment of the third-generation iPad on its online store. A quick check of the Apple Store in the U.S. shows that every color and capacity of third-generation iPad is now listed as shipping “by March 19”, as compared to the prior message which indicated the device would be delivered on March 16. As reported earlier today, Apple has started to email some customers in the UK to tell them that their orders—originally quoted with the March 16 delivery date—would not arrive until March 20 or 21.
There’s been a crazy quantity of news over the last day—new iPad and Apple TV hardware, new iOS and iTunes software, a new iPhoto app for iOS, and updates to virtually every major Apple-developed app in the App Store. Here’s an index to all of the major stories we’ve posted so that you can see what’s what, easily.
The Third-Generation iPad: Apple unveiled the third-generation iPad, dropping its recent numbering scheme in favor of calling it “the new iPad.” It features a Retina Display with over 3 million pixels, a new 5MP rear camera, support for some 4G LTE networks, and a body that’s slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2’s, but is otherwise cosmetically virtually identical. After the announcement, we discovered that the new iPad’s battery was much larger, Bluetooth 4 was added, and AirPlay was still locked at 720p from the super high-res device.
Click on the title of this article for many more links to our coverage.
The United States Justice Department has warned Apple and five of the largest U.S. publishers that it plans to file an anti-trust suit against them. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the suit will accuse Apple, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan, and HarperCollins of colluding to raise the price of electronic books. Several of the parties have held talks to settle the case and prevent a court battle, according to the report, and such a settlement could lead to cheaper e-book pricing. Not every publisher is in settlement discussions, however. The companies are also being investigated by the European Union over the same alleged offense.
Following the announcement of the third-generation iPad, Apple has dropped its pricing on refurbished iPad 2 units. Refurbished 16GB Wi-Fi units are now only $349, with 32GB and 64GB models selling for $449 and $549, respectively; Wi-Fi + 3G models sell for a $120 premium. In addition, the company also still offers refurbished first-generation iPads, with pricing set at $399 for a 32GB model or a 16GB 3G model and $499 for 64GB units.
Apple has posted its first TV advertisement for the third-generation iPad. Entitled “This Good”, the 30-second spot shows the device being used against a white background, while a narrator states, “When a screen becomes this good, colors are more vibrant, words are pin sharp, everything is more brilliant. Because when a screen becomes this good, it’s simply you and the things you care about. The stunning Retina display on the new iPad.” The ad is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
In conjunction with today’s announcement of the third-generation iPad, Apple has introduced its new AppleCare+ protection plan for iPad. As with the same plan for the iPhone, the new AppleCare+ for iPad extends both warranty coverage and phone support for the device to two years—normally limited to one year and 90 days, respectively. In addition, the plan adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage for the same $49 service fee as seen on the iPhone. AppleCare+ for the iPad sells for $99 and must be purchased within 30 days of the purchase of the iPad.
Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 5.0, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. The new update introduces a significantly redesigned user interface for the main menu. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on 5.0 so it is unclear exactly what other improvements have been made in this latest update. Apple TV Software Update 5.0 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.
Update: According to Apple’s release notes, the latest update also includes support for Movie purchases in iCloud where availalbe, Genius Recommendations for content on the iTunes Store, new built-in screensaver photos from National Geographic and on-device sign-up for content partners on Apple TV using an Apple ID.
Following today’s iPad event, Apple has released iTunes 10.6, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to the release notes, iTunes 10.6 adds the ability to play 1080p HD movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store and adds a number of improvements for iTunes Match including improved song matching, album artwork handling, downloading and display. As with all new Apple media hardware, iTunes 10.6 will also be the minimum requirement for syncing the new third-generation iPad and new third-generation Apple TV announced at today’s event. iTunes 10.6 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes and should be available via the company’s Software Update utility later today.
Apple has now posted a streaming video of its latest special media event, at which it announced the third-generation Apple TV and third-generation iPad. The video is just over 85 minutes long, and includes demonstrations of the new Apple TV interface, as well as iPhoto for iOS, and Infinity Blade: Dungeons. The video is available for viewing now from Apple’s website.
Following today’s iPad event, Apple has released iOS 5.1 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. According to the release notes, the new version adds Japanese language support for Siri and the ability to delete photos from the Photo Stream. Additionally, the Camera shortcut is now always visible on the lock screen for the iPHone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch and improvements have been made to camera face detection to highlight all detected faced. The update also includes a redesigned Camera app for the iPad and adds support for Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers. Several other optimizations and bug fixes are noted including improvements to audio for TV shows and movies on the iPad, podcast controls for playback speed and skip back on the iPad as well as an updated AT&T network indicator and fixes for issues relating to battery life and audio dropouts on outgoing calls. iOS 5.1 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and is available now via the update feature in iTunes or as an over-the-air update. To update your iOS device over-the-air, open Settings, tap on General, and tap on Software Update.
Alongside the announcement of third-generation iPad and Apple TV hardware, Apple today announced that it was dropping the price of the base iPad 2 model to $399. The 16GB version will continue to be sold in black and white alongside the third-generation iPad—referred to by the company as “The new iPad”—which will assume the prior iPad 2 price points of $499-$699 for Wi-Fi-only models and $629-$829 for 4G-enabled units. Apple did not indicate that it would continue to sell Wi-Fi + 3G iPad 2 units, but will likely have some supply available at a modest discount until supplies run out.
During today’s iPad event in San Francisco, Apple also took the wraps off iPhoto for iPad, the latest iOS app in the company’s iLife suite. Described as the “reinvention” of iPhoto, the new app provides new and expanded photo browsing and editing capabilities directly on the iPad with a smarter photo browsing interface, advanced multi-touch editing features and professional quality effects. A new Photo Beaming feature also allows users to easily transfer photos directly between different devices.
During the presentation, Apple demonstrated several additional advanced features including the ability to automatically find and compare similar pictures simply by double-tapping on a photo, browsing photos via intuitive multi-touch gestures and sophisticated editing and auto-enhancement features. The app supports photo resolutions up to 19 megapixels and includes the ability to flag and collect photos and them share them easily via e-mail, Flickr, Twitter and other services. Users can also create Photo Journals to collect their favourite pictures into themed template pages that can also include related information such as calendar dates, maps and weather. iPhoto for iOS is $5 and is expected to be available on the App Store later today.
Apple today announced its third-generation iPad. As expected, the third-generation tablet features a 2048 x 1536 “Retina” display—for a total of 3.1 million pixels—and is powered by the new dual-core A5X processor with a quad-core graphics processor. According to the company, the new processor was “designed for Retina display”, and offers “four times the performance” of the Tegra 3 processor. Also new is a five-megapixel, backside-illuminated rear “iSight” camera sensor, with an IR filter, autofocus and auto white balance, face detection, 1080p video recording, and automatic video stabilization. Other new features include voice dictation, with support for US, British, and Australian English, French, German, and Japanese, 4G LTE networking, 10 hours of battery life, and a body that is slightly heavier at 1.4 lbs., and—as first reported by iLounge—slightly thicker at 9.4mm, compared to 8.8mm for the previous model.
Models equipped with wireless data now support 3.1 Mbps over EV-DO, 7.2 Mbps over HSPA, 21 Mbps on HSPA+, 42 Mbps over DC-HSDPA, and 73 Mbps over LTE networks; the latter will be supported at launch by Verizon, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and AT&T. Thanks to its faster internet connection, the iPad can now serve as a personal hotspot if the carrier supports it. The new iPad will keep the same pricing and capacities as previous models, with Wi-Fi-only units running $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB; 4G-capable units will cost $629, $729, and $829, respectively. Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the device today, with units shipping on March 16 in the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. More international rollouts will follow on March 23 in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.