Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reports that Apple has acquired a collection of LTE mobile technology patents in preparation for new legal challenges by Samsung. As previously reported, Samsung has threatened to sue Apple if it releases a new iPhone using LTE mobile technology, even though the third-generation iPad already includes LTE support, presumably under license from LTE chip makers. Apple now has 4.9 percent of total LTE patents, according to the Korea Intellectual Property Office, up from zero last year. Samsung has 12.7 percent of the total LTE patents, ranking first among LTE patent holders. [via MacDailyNews]
A Chinese manufacturer has already copied — and may have patented — the new iPhone design, according to a recent report. The Goophone I5, an Android-based smartphone released in late August, closely matches leaked images of the new iPhone, and Gizchina reports that GooPhone claims to have patented the design in China ahead of the next-generation iPhone’s launch.
Gizchina speculates that Goophone’s alleged patent could prevent Apple from selling the new iPhone in China, and it may even mean that Goophone could block new iPhone exports. As hard to believe as this may be, Apple has previously faced legal challenges due to manipulation of the Chinese legal system, most notably settling a lawsuit with a company that negotiated in bad faith over the “iPad” trademark. [via Wired]
Apple has publicly denied claims that it supplied the FBI millions of Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs), according to a report from All Things D. This follows Tuesday’s similar statement of denial from the FBI following a release of over 1 million UDIDs by hacking group Antisec, which said that a database with more than 12 million UDIDs was discovered on a compromised FBI laptop. Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris told AllThingsD, “The FBI has not requested this information from Apple, nor have we provided it to the FBI or any organization. Additionally, with iOS6 we introduced a new set of APIs meant to replace the use of the UDID and will soon be banning the use of UDID.”
Antisec claimed that it obtained UDIDs and related personal account information—including user names, device names, telephone numbers, and addresses—from a breached FBI computer. The group suggested that the UDIDs may have been used by the FBI for device surveillance. Subsequent reports suggested that the database included President Obama’s UDID, though their veracity remains unclear at this time. [via 9to5Mac]
Responding to earlier reports that Apple hasn’t offered developers parts or specs for next-generation Dock Connector accessories, additional sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple will be the exclusive initial vendor of a new Dock Connector Adapter, to be sold individually and/or in three-packs. According to sources, the Dock Connector Adapters will sell for approximately $10 each or three for $29, with Apple-branded new USB cables selling for $19 each. For reference, Apple’s MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter sells for $9.99, while international pricing for Apple’s earlier iPhone Micro USB Adapter is €9 ($11) or £8 ($13).
While leaks of the new connector have been numerous, Apple has remained mum on what developers are calling the “9-pin Connector,” even though sources claim that Apple has in recent months stopped approving third-party proposals for connector-equipped accessories. Some developers fear that Apple will corner the market for both the adapters and cables, much as it did with MagSafe connectors for MacBook laptops, using licensing agreements and threats of lawsuits to prevent less expensive third-party solutions from coming to market. One source notes that Apple will reap a windfall by limiting competition in this manner, generating revenues of $100 million for every 10 million Dock Connector Adapters it sells for $10. According to the source, Apple estimates that it will sell the first 10 million Adapters by the end of 2012. It remains unclear whether Apple will allow third-party developers to release competing alternatives before then, or afterwards.
With Apple’s special iPhone-focused event only a week away, leaks of supposed packaging and parts have continued to appear online, some increasingly dubious—a reason we haven’t been posting everything that’s flooding in these days. In a recent post at TechnoBuffalo, pictures of alleged “iPhone 5” packaging from HDBlog clearly show the “iPhone 5” name on the side of the box, with an angled picture of the new iPhone on the front. An Apple logo can also be spotted on the edges of the box. However, both the iPhone edges and box dimensions look off, there’s no iCloud logo to be seen, and the font doesn’t seem quite right, either. Other supposed box images for “the new iPhone” look equally suspicious for different reasons, including decidedly un-Apple-like text, and iPhone screenshots featuring YouTube, an app that’s already known to have been pulled from iOS 6.
Though it should go without saying at this point, this is just a reminder that faked images and details tend to increase in number immediately ahead of new Apple product launches, so it’s important to take late-stage rumors with an extra grain of salt. Bogus packaging leaks ahead of June’s release of new MacBook computers contained wildly inaccurate specifications, making Apple box “leaks” especially suspect.
Hacker group Antisec has released a collection of over one million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) and related push notification tokens, which it claims to have taken from an FBI database with over 12 million UDIDs and related personal account information, including user names, device names, telephone numbers and addresses. The group suggests that the UDIDs may have been used by the FBI for device surveillance. Neither Apple nor the FBI has commented as of yet. [via Pastebin]
Users can find out how to locate their UDID at What’s my UDID?, and that information can be cross-checked against the list here. Privacy-concerned users should note that submitting their UDIDs to a random site such as this may well be insecure.
Updated: In a tersely worded statement, the FBI has denied Antisec’s claims that it sought or obtained Apple UDID data, or that an FBI laptop containing UDID data was compromised. A separate post to Twitter called the claims “totally false.” [via 9to5Mac]
After nine years of steady third-party accessory growth for its devices, Apple faces a potentially serious ecosystem disruption this year, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge. With only two weeks remaining before the expected debut of the next-generation iPhone, Apple has not offered third-party developers the components or engineering details necessary to build docking accessories for the new device—the first iOS product expected to ship without Apple’s now-ubiquitous 30-pin Dock Connector, which will soon be replaced across all future Apple pocket and tablet devices. Noting the time required to manufacture and ship new products, the sources suggest that new iPhone-specific electronic add-ons will likely miss the upcoming holiday season, apart from whatever accessories are released by Apple itself.
Rumors of a smaller Dock Connector replacement have circulated for years, and the new component has recently been spotted in leaked cables, next-generation iPhones, and even parts apparently intended for other iOS devices. References to the new connector have also been found in beta versions of iOS 6. Despite these disclosures, however, Apple has not made the connectors available for developers to test or purchase, or discussed its new authentication chips, both of which might stop existing accessories from working, or limit their functionality with new Apple devices.
While the broadly available Micro-USB standard was suggested as a possible replacement for the 30-pin Dock Connector, sources suggest that Apple’s switch to a proprietary new connector will enable it to control the entire supply of available parts, as well as developers, since third-party versions of the new connector will likely be either unavailable or unreliable for months. One source expects that Apple will introduce a more stringent version of its Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad (“MFi”) licensing program alongside the new connector, complete with more elaborate testing requirements and perhaps higher fees. It remains possible, however, that Apple may merely attempt to dominate the 2012 holiday market by selling its own accessories—perhaps including adapters for older accessories—then supply new connectors and chips to developers in 2013.
Apple’s MFi program was grudgingly accepted by most developers years ago as a necessary cost of doing business with the Cupertino company, adding additional costs to iPod accessories once Apple began to sell electronic components and require per-unit licensing fees, collectively described by some as an “iPod tax.” The subsequent “Works With iPhone” program generated industry-wide grumbles based on new Apple approval and testing procedures, which were blamed for delaying the release of early iPhone electronic accessories for roughly a year, as well as restricting the variety of accessories that could be developed without Apple’s consent. Apple has since been criticized for problems with its AirPlay licensing program, which offers developers a wireless, dock-less alternative for streaming music to Wi-Fi-equipped accessories. AirPlay add-ons have been plagued by audio drop-outs and other issues, leading to complaints and mass returns by disappointed consumers, the costs of which have largely been absorbed by developers.
One of Apple’s component suppliers, Sharp, may be falling behind in its production of screens for the new iPhone, according to a new report from Reuters. According to an anonymous source familiar with Sharp’s production operations, the company may be struggling with high production costs, and has questioned whether Apple might provide a financial incentive to accelerate production. For its part, Sharp was expected to begin mass production of LCD screens from its Kameyama plant in Japan, and although it is considered common knowledge that the company produces screens for Apple, it has never officially acknowledged that Apple is among its customers.
Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to be announced at an event in mid-September, and released shortly thereafter. Since Apple routinely uses multiple screen suppliers, it is unclear whether a delay at one supplier will have any impact on Apple’s release schedule. Moreover, Apple also schedules subsequent international product release dates over the course of several weeks, allowing the company to limit broader worldwide availability without affecting its initial domestic launch.
According to The Korea Times, Samsung plans to immediately sue Apple if it releases products using LTE mobile technology, which is widely expected to be incorporated within the next-generation iPhone. The threat initially appears to be serious, as data from Thomson-Reuters shows that Samsung holds 12.2 percent of current LTE patents. However, Apple already sells the third-generation iPad in an LTE-capable version, and is believed to have purchased cellular chips with valid licenses to the underlying LTE technologies.
The Apple-Samsung conflict shows no signs of ending, even after last week’s court decision in Apple’s favor. As reported by The Korea Times, Samsung’s lawyers are preparing to counter every issue in which the jurors found in favor of Apple, and planning to wage a patent war against Apple across 10 different countries. In addition, Samsung is discussing modified Galaxy designs with major cellular providers, and the company is partnering with Microsoft to alleviate its dependency on Google’s Android, as well as placing the legal dispute entirely in the hands of Samsung Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung.
According to Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page have been talking behind the scenes about a number of intellectual property matters, including continuing mobile patent disputes between Apple and Google, as a prelude or alternative to a lawsuit between the companies. The two CEOs are expected to chat again in the coming weeks, after a reported delay of a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. One source envisions a possible truce between Apple and Google regarding basic Android features, but the scope of the discussions are unknown.
A jury ruled in favor of Apple last Friday in its patent and trade dress trial against Samsung, awarding $1.05 billion to Apple, which then requested a sales ban on eight Samsung phones. Samsung uses Google’s Android software, which is at the core of numerous iPhone competitors, including devices sold under Google’s own name. Apple and Google reportedly declined comment.
Retail policy changes and cutbacks at Apple Stores are quietly continuing, according to a new report from ifoAppleStore, placing more emphasis on revenues and profit over customer satisfaction. The report claims that Apple has cut back in several budgetary categories, while decreasing hours for many employees, and instituted sales-focused performance metrics that threaten to further undermine morale within the retail division.
Last month, Apple Senior VP of Retail John Browett reportedly instituted a number of new staffing policies, including reducing hours, laying off new, probationary employees, and limiting overtime, leading to outcry from retail employees. According to a subsequent follow-up in The Wall Street Journal, Browett later reversed these changes and denied that any employees had been laid off, however, ifoAppleStore’s sources disagreed with at least some of these claims, indicating that layoffs had in fact occurred, and that affected employees were later rehired.
This more recent spate of changes within Apple Retail involve a reduction in workshops at many stores, continuing limits on available overtime hours, and assigning of only minimal hours to part-time employees. Further, new employee performance measurements emphasize contract sales of iPhones, as well as the number of accessories such as cases that are sold alongside major products. Additionally, the report indicates that employees are being told to promote use of the EasyPay app, despite the fact that EasyPay sales are not credited to any specific employee, thereby having no positive impact on individual performance reports. Sources also indicate that no explanation or apology has ever been received from Browett or store management about the original staffing cuts, despite public claims to the contrary. Instead, employees have been told not to discuss the situation with anybody, leading to an overall decrease in employee morale.
Apple has quietly added a new content section to the Apple TV for the upcoming 2012 iTunes Festival in London. The Festival will feature 30 nights of free, live music from more than 60 artists performing at the Roundhouse in London. Apple has already released a universal iOS app for the iTunes Festival providing users with both live streaming of shows and later on-demand viewing, and users will also be able to stream content to iTunes or to the Apple TV via AirPlay from an iOS device or directly within the new iTunes Festival section. Previous shows are expected to be available for only a limited time, and it is unclear for how long the iTunes Festival content will remain available on the Apple TV following the conclusion of the event on September 30th.
Following up on a late June announcement that Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering Bob Mansfield would retire, transitioning his responsibilities to vice president Dan Riccio, Apple unexpectedly announced today that Mansfield will remain at Apple, though Riccio will assume most of his leadership responsibilities for Apple’s hardware engineering teams. As a new senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, Riccio will lead the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod engineering teams, reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook and serving as a member of Apple’s executive management team. According to Apple, Mansfield will be working “on future products,” also reporting to Cook, though his biography on Apple’s web site indicates that he is keeping his prior title, and is listed as overseeing the Mac hardware team. Apple also announced that Craig Federighi, vice president of Mac Software Engineering, is being promoted to a senior VP role with the company.
Update August 31, 2012: Apple has updated its web site to reflect that Mansfield remains a Senior Vice President, working on future products, and no longer leads Apple’s hardware engineering teams.
In the wake of Friday’s decision in Apple’s favor in the Apple vs. Samsung patent trial, CNET reports that Apple has now specified eight Samsung devices that it wants banned from sale “to address a portion of the immediate, ongoing irreparable harm that Apple is suffering” and including details on which design, utility and trade dress patents each device has been found to infringe. The list of devices includes the Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail; of these, the Galaxy S 4G is the most infringing, found to have infringed on a total of seven Apple patents.
More alleged next-generation iPhone photos appearing on Apple.pro over the weekend have revealed the presence of a previously unseen square chip near the top of the new iPhone design, believed to be the first confirmation of previously rumored near-field communication (NFC) hardware in Apple’s next-generation iPhone. While the actual functions of the chip are not clear from the photos, software support for NFC was discovered in June by 9to5Mac in code dumps taken from iPhone prototype hardware, and the location of the new chip corresponds to diagrams in Apple’s iWallet patent from May of 2010. NFC capabilities would enable the new iPhone to serve as a virtual wallet, communicating with wireless payment terminals at stores to transfer stored value, rather than requiring users to carry separate credit cards. The feature would likely tie into Passbook, a new addition to iOS 6 that holds tickets and other virtual proof of payment documents for iPhone users.
Updated August 28, 2012: Following an Anandtech analysis concluding that NFC would not be in the new iPhone, Apple-sourced blogger Jim Dalrymple appeared to confirm the analysis as correct. [via MacRumors]
Following several days of deliberations in the Apple vs. Samsung trial, the jury reached verdicts on a number of design and utility patent infringement allegations brought against Samsung by Apple, finding numerous violations by Samsung. The jury also found that Apple possessed certain trade dress rights in the iPhone—namely, that certain elements of iPhone designs were famous and protectable—and were diluted by some of Samsung’s products. Other asserted iPhone and iPad trade dress rights were not found to be famous or protectable.
The jury was specifically asked to determine whether Samsung had infringed a number of different Apple patents across a wide collection of different Samsung devices, and given a questionnaire to answer “yes” or “no” for each Apple patent on each Samsung device. While not every Samsung device was found to have infringed all of Apple’s patents, multiple Samsung devices were found to be infringing on one or more patents. Moreover, a number of Samsung’s infringements were determined to be willful—not accidental—subjecting the company to higher penalties. The jury also said that Samsung had failed to demonstrate that Apple’s patents were invalid, a possible defense, and found that Apple had not violated a number of Samsung patents, contrary to claims by Samsung.
Reports varied on whether Apple had also prevailed on an antitrust claim against Samsung. According to an initial report by CNET, the jury found that Samsung had unlawfully monopolized markets related to the UMTS standard, while finding that Apple had not violated antitrust laws on UMTS.
Although an early report suggested that Samsung would be liable for roughly $2.5-billion in damages for infringements in various products, the judge clarified that total damages assessed against Samsung were in the $1.05-billion range, and due to the large number of infringing Samsung products, the numbers apparently had to be re-checked after the verdict was read. As Apple was not found responsible for any violations of Samsung patents, no damages were assessed against the Cupertino company. [via CNET]
In addition to seeking damages for these violations, Apple has attempted to block sales of allegedly infringing Samsung devices, a decision that is being left to the judge in this case. Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously noted that the company had sought patent protection for all of the inventions embodied in the iPhone, and patents have subsequently been granted on numerous aspects of the iPhone, as well as later devices such as the iPod touch and iPad. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook has signaled that the company will in some cases license patents, while in other cases reserving the inventions to Apple for its own products, and suing companies that infringe.
Following the verdict, Apple’s and Samsung’s public relations teams each issued statements, with Apple praising the jury for listening to a story it was “thrilled” to “finally” tell regarding Samsung’s copying of Apple’s products, and Samsung suggesting that the “verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer,” as Apple had patented obvious concepts that “will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices.”
A South Korean court has ruled that Apple and Samsung both infringed on each other’s patents, the New York Times reports. As a result of the rulings, the Seoul Central District Court ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, original iPad, and iPad 2 in South Korea, claiming that they infringed two of Samsung’s patents. Likewise, the court banned sales of the Galaxy S2 and other products for infringing upon one of Apple’s patents. Notably, the two companies’ most recent products, including the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3 smartphones, were unaffected by the ruling. In addition to the sales bans, Samsung must pay Apple about $22,000, while Apple must pay Samsung roughly $35,000.
Apple has started to roll out new Dock Connectors for its iPhone, iPad, and iPod displays that double as security locks, according to a new report. Citing a reader report that was subsequently confirmed by a number of Apple Store locations, AppleInsider reports that the cable may be in short supply, as not every device has one—they are primarily being used for third-generation iPads and products near the stores’ entrances—and not all stores have started to use them. The cable itself is very similar in appearance to a standard Dock Connector cable, only with a lock icon on the top, and new internals that prevent the unit from disengaging.
Apple is seeking additional table space for iPad displays in the shops of Apple Premium Resellers in Europe, according to a new report. Citing multiple resellers, MacRumors reports that Apple has requested that the shops set aside additional table space for iPad displays over the next few weeks. One source reportedly cited September 12—the same day Apple is expected to hold its next media event—as the Apple-imposed deadline for the changes to be made, while another source said their store is already in the process of tripling the amount of display space dedicated to the iPad. The extra space is coming primarily at the expense of Mac Pro and Mac mini computers, which are reportedly being removed from display entirely, while iPod and headphone displays are also being trimmed back. While the exact reason for the change isn’t clear, the September 12 date suggests that the move has something to do with Apple’s media event, at which it is expected to introduce the next-generation iPhone and could also unveil the long-rumored “iPad mini”.
The Fair Labor Association has published a status report on implementation of its recommendations following its assessment of three Foxconn facilities in February and March. According to the group, the review covered items slated for April and May, finding that Foxconn has completed all of the 195 actions that were due. In addition, 89 items were completed ahead of their deadlines, with 76 items due over the course of the next year. The report also found that Foxconn has already reduced working hours to under 60 per week—including overtime—with the goal of reaching full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 40 hours per week plus an average of 9 hours of overtime per week.
“Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made. We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program,” said Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. “The next phase of improvements will be challenging for Foxconn because they involve major changes in the working environment that will inevitably cause uncertainty and anxiety among workers. As Foxconn prepares to comply with the Chinese legal limits on work hours, consultation with workers on the changes and implications will be critical to a successful transition.”
“The verification confirmed that Apple and Foxconn are ahead of schedule in improving the conditions under which some of the world’s most popular electronics are being made,” added van Heerden. “Apple and Foxconn’s progress since the March assessment, combined with the additional actions planned through July 2013, would create the roadmap for all Chinese suppliers in the tech industry.” Apple was the first electronics company to join the FLA, a “coalition of universities, non-governmental organizations and businesses committed to improving the well-being, safety, fair treatment, and respect of workers”, in January of 2012.