Apple CEO Tim Cook met Tuesday with the chairman of China Mobile, Reuters reports. China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, is the only major Chinese carrier not currently offering the iPhone. Cook and China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua discussed “matters of cooperation” in Beijing, according to China Mobile, suggesting that a partnership to sell iPhones to the company’s customers is becoming more likely. It was previously speculated that Cook would meet with China Mobile during his visit.
Foxconn is reportedly looking to hire a remarkable 90,000 workers for production of a new iPhone — likely the iPhone 5S — for its Shenzhen industrial complex. A report out of Taiwan notes that assembly testing has been completed for the device, and claims the company is ready to start production. Reports from multiple outlets in April noted Foxconn had increased hiring to produce Apple’s next iPhone. [via Focus Taiwan]
Apple CEO Tim Cook has returned to China, and held a meeting with Apple partner China Telecom, according to a Chinese report (translated link). The visit is Cook’s second of the year, as the CEO last visited China in January. Cook is also reportedly expected to meet with executives from China Unicom and China Mobile during the trip. Other speculative reasons for the visit could include upcoming iPhone releases, and checking in on supplier Pegatron, which was recently accused of numerous labor violations in a report. During last week’s Q3 2013 financial results conference call, Cook acknowledged sales in China were weaker during the quarter, but noted he was not “discouraged” over a 90-day cycle, saying China was a “huge opportunity” for Apple. [via 9to5Mac]
A group of former Apple retail store employees in New York and Los Angeles have filed a class action suit against the company for lost wages due to lengthy bag searches. The suit claims that improper practices include subjecting hourly employees to “personal package and bag searches,” which are illegal and require workers to wait in line off-the-clock to get clearance checks when leaving for meal breaks and at the end of their shifts.
Examples note plaintiffs being subjected to searches lasting 5 to 15 minutes, without compensation, accounting for 50 to 90 minutes of uncompensated overtime a week. Calculations note the workers in these examples lost an average of $1,400 or $1,500 annually. The lawsuit seeks compensation in unpaid minimum wages, overtime, and waiting time, and seeks to declare the practices as unlawful, requiring “termination or modification.” [via Apple Insider]
A discovery in iOS 7 beta 4 appears to confirm that an upcoming iPhone will include a fingerprint sensor. Hamza Sood tweeted a picture of a folder titled “BiometricKitUI.axbundle” within the code of the upcoming operating system.
From the description, it appears that the code is describing a thumbprint sensor located within the Home Button of an iPhone. It also appears that a user will need to “enroll” in volunteering a thumbprint for the feature, with a progress percentage meter and color-shifting fingerprint image updating a user during the recognition process. Rumors have suggested that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint scanner, likely used for a digital transaction security feature. [via 9to5Mac]
Alongside today’s release of iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has also posted a beta version of iTunes 11 for Registered iOS Developers.
Listed as iTunes 11 beta 1, the new version includes support for iTunes Radio for those in the U.S. It also notes that OS X 10.7 or later is required for iTunes Radio support.
Apple has released the fourth beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the third beta three weeks ago — the fourth beta was expected to be released last Monday, but Apple’s developer site was down last week, delaying the release. iOS 7 beta 4 is now available through Software Update in iOS settings and Apple’s developer portal.
Samsung has notified the courts that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected all claims of Apple’s “pinch to zoom” patent, according to a report. The rejection is a “Final Office Action,” but the decision is far from finished, as Apple will have additional opportunities to appeal. Notably, Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent initially had a main claim ruled invalid in a “Final Office Action,” but that claim was later confirmed. In December, the USPTO initially ruled all claims of the “pinch to zoom” patent invalid; this is a continuation of that action. [via FOSS Patents]
Chinese scalpers are booking all available Genius Bar appointments and selling them online, according to the Beijing Morning Post (translated link). Customers looking to book Genius Bar appointments at local Chinese Apple stores often find that all appointments have been taken. After searching for alternatives online, they discover that scalpers are selling the appointments for 10 Yuan to 40 Yuan — about $1.60 to $6.50. Reporters attempted to contact Apple on the matter but did not get a response by press time. [via 9to5Mac]
A new report from China Labor Watch details a number of labor violations within supplier Pegatron — and in doing so, confirms Apple’s upcoming release of a low-cost plastic iPhone. The report leads with “Apple is preparing to release a cheap iPhone,” and notes under Pegatron’s company profile that the company’s assembled products “include iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and low-priced plastic iPhones.” Another section of the report details work on pasting “protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines. This iPhone model with a plastic cover will soon be released on the market by Apple.” The report claims that the phone “has not yet been put into mass production” as of July 9.
Labor violations at Pegatron allegedly include hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, insufficient wages, poor working conditions, poor living conditions, contract violations, environmental pollution, management abuse, and other transgressions in a long list. The report also claims workers must sign a false document on alleged overtime hours — the only purpose of which is “to deceive Apple during inspections.” A May report noted Pegatron would be the primary assembler of Apple’s budget iPhone. [via Computerworld]
Apple senior vice president of technologies Bob Mansfield has left the company’s executive team, a company spokesman has confirmed. Mansfield’s biography was initially removed from Apple’s website yesterday, as noted by MacRumors. Spokesman Steve Dowling said Mansfield would remain at Apple to work on special projects, while reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Mansfield retired last June, then unretired in August as part of a reportedly astonishing pay package. It is unclear whether Mansfield’s secretive work at Apple will continue uninterrupted despite the change, or whether there’s more to the story than has been officially confirmed. [via AllThingsD]
A “small team of notable names in speech technology” has been assembled by Apple to work on Siri, according to a report. The Boston-based team is made up of people who all worked at VoiceSignal Technologies, a speech software company that was purchased by Nuance in 2007. A number of team members have previously worked for Nuance, as well. Apple’s Siri uses Nuance’s speech recognition technology, and the report surmises that “Apple could be signaling a move away from relying on Nuance for Siri’s guts.” There are very few other details about Apple’s intent in the Boston area — even the Siri connection made in the report is based on the team’s online job profiles. [via Xconomy]
New iPhone users have reported that they’ve been unable to activate their phones, as it appears that Apple’s activation servers are experiencing an outage. An AT&T employee has reportedly confirmed the outage. A number of threads discussing activation problems have also popped up in Apple support forums. It appears that the problems began late this morning, and are still unresolved as of this writing. [via MacRumors]
Apple has added a new power adapter page to its Chinese website, following two recent shock incidents from iPhone chargers in China — including an electrocution, and another shock that left a man in a coma. The new page features pictures of various official Apple chargers, to help users with identification.
On the site, Apple suggests that its own official chargers should be used. Both recent shock incidents were allegedly caused by counterfeit chargers. [via The Next Web]
Apple has released a statement detailing a maintenance plan for its still-down developer website. To keep developers updated on the progress of the restoration, Apple has created a new status page that shows which systems are online. As of this writing, only iTunes Connect and Bug Reporter were online. The company notes that updated systems and videos would be rolled out first, with software downloads next, followed by the remaining systems. It’s likely that iOS 7 beta 4 won’t be introduced at least until software downloads are restored.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer started the company’s third-quarter 2013 financial results conference call by discussing Apple’s June quarter record for 31.2 million iPhones sold. Total revenue for Apple is up one percent from Q3 2012. The iPhone has experienced 66 percent growth in Japan. Oppenheimer called the drop in iPad sales a “tough comparison” based on lower unit production.
Oppenheimer highlighted the success of iTunes, with total quarterly revenue of $4 billion from iTunes software and services. The last week of the quarter was the best ever for the App Store. Oppenheimer said there are more than 900,000 iOS apps now, with more than 375,000 apps for iPad. He said Apple is “on track to have a very busy Fall, I’d like to leave it there and go into more detail in October.” While the latter remark has been interpreted by some outlets to suggest that Apple will not make additional product announcements until October, it’s likely that Oppenheimer was referring to the company’s next conference call—the only time when he is present at public question and answer sessions such as this.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said growth for Apple would come from new products, again mentioning the products would be in both “existing and new categories.” Cook said he doesn’t believe the higher-end smartphone market has hit its peak. He also mentioned iPad has experienced double-digit growth in many markets.
Regarding iPhone sales, Cook said, “We saw very strong sales in several of the emerging markets or prepaid markets.” He acknowledged China was weaker in the quarter. “That is a lower growth rate than we have been seeing ... I attribute it to many things,” he said, including the Chinese economy. Hong Kong sales were down, and Cook said, “It’s not totally clear exactly why that occurred.” He later said, “I continue to believe that in the arc of time here, China is a huge opportunity for Apple ... I don’t get discouraged over a 90-day kind of cycle ....”
More after the break.
Apple has reported its financial results for its fiscal 2013 third quarter. The company sold 31.2 million iPhones, a June quarter record, up from 26 million iPhones in last year’s third quarter, and 37.4 million iPhones last quarter. Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in the third quarter, down from 17 million in Q3 2012, and 19.5 million last quarter. As with Q2 2013’s press release, Apple did not include iPod sales numbers in the release, but it sold 4.6 million iPods in the quarter, compared to 5.6 million iPods last quarter, and 6.8 million iPods in Q3 2012.
Apple posted quarterly revenue of $35.3 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.9 billion — $7.47 per diluted share. This compares with revenue of $35.02 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.8 billion in Q3 2012, or $9.32 per diluted share. Gross margin was 36.9 percent compared to 42.8 percent in Q3 2012. International sales made up 57 percent of the quarter’s revenue.
“We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We are really excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, and we are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”
“We generated $7.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter and are pleased to have returned $18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.
For Q4 2013, Apple is expecting revenue between $34 billion and $37 billion, gross margin between 36 percent and 37 percent, and operating expenses between $3.9 billion and $3.95 billion.
Two new patents recently granted to Apple reveal possible features for future iPhones. A patent for an on-hold visual menu provides “personal content” to an iPhone caller that’s been placed on hold. The caller on hold is then able to select from the menu and interact with data shared by the other iPhone user — the caller can listen to music, view photos or videos, and more. It would also be possible to configure the iPhone to share content based on the identity of the caller on hold — for instance, a user may choose to share content with only certain selected contacts.
Another new patent for a dual-sensor image processing system describes a technology that allows a device to use two image sensors to produce better pictures. The system would be able to recognize defective pixels from one of the sensors, and correct the image with data from the other sensor. It’s noted that the techniques could be applied to both photos and videos. [via Apple Insider, (2)]
Apple has reportedly dropped AU Optronics and will add Samsung Display as a supplier for its second-generation iPad mini LCD displays. Sharp and LG Display will also be suppliers for the next iPad mini’s display, which will apparently be an oxide semiconductor LCD to save power. A prior report claimed AU Optronics was already working on displays for the second-gen iPad mini. No further details about the display were mentioned in the new report. [via ETNews]
Using the iTunes Store to spread the news, Apple has confirmed that one billion podcasts have been subscribed to on iTunes. A special new section in the iTunes Store Podcasts section spotlights “some of the most popular podcasts of all time, as well as a collection of captivating new shows.” These featured podcasts are grouped into “The Classics,” “What’s Hot,” and “New & Noteworthy.” Podcasts on iTunes launched in the summer of 2005.