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.
Following its acquisition of local data company Locationary last week, Apple also was confirmed to have acquired HopStop, an online transit navigation service that specializes in mass transit directions. HopStop offers mass transit travel directions in more than 500 cities — subway, bus, walking, cycling, and taxi directions are currently all included by the site. This acquisition is likely to fill a gap in Apple’s Maps service that became obvious after it switched away from Google, which has offered reliable mass transit guidance for years. [via Bloomberg, AllThingsD]
Apple is testing larger screens for both iPads and iPhones, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to company suppliers, Apple has “asked for prototype smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and has also asked for screen designs for a new tablet device measuring slightly less than 13 inches.” The iPhone 5 and fourth-generation iPad have screen sizes of 4 inches and 9.7 inches, respectively; rumors of a 12.9” iPad prototype appeared earlier this year. CEO Tim Cook has mentioned on numerous occasions that making larger screens for phones results in tradeoffs in overall product quality, but it’s possible that improved IGZO screen technology has enabled Apple to consider larger screens. Apple declined to comment.
Apple has released a statement noting that an intruder attempted to access its developer website last Thursday, with the hacker attempting to secure personal information from developers. Although sensitive information was encrypted, the company notes “we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses and/or email addresses may have been accessed.” The site has been down since Thursday, and Apple says it’s overhauling developer systems, updating server software and rebuilding its database. App updates, new releases, and behind-the-scenes developer account issues will be impacted by the hack; it’s also possible that the latest iOS 7 beta release may be delayed as a result.
A security researcher, Ibrahim Balić, claims that he reported a security hole in Apple’s developer portal hours before the site went down, according to 9to5Mac. Balić claims he could access names, Apple IDs/email addresses, and user IDs through a “simple unescaped injection attack.” According to the report, Balić says he did this “for security research purposes and does not plan to use the information in any malicious manner,” and he plans on deleting the information.
Apple has sent out invitations to some users for early access to its iWork for iCloud beta. Before now, only developers had access to the beta.
iWork for iCloud offers users the chance to access Pages, Numbers, and Keynote from the cloud, including creation, viewing, and editing capabilities for productivity documents. Anyone with an iCloud account can use it, and those invited to the beta can sign up at iCloud.com.
A 30-year-old Chinese man was shocked when connecting his iPhone charger, leaving him in a coma for more than 10 days. This is the second reported iPhone shock incident in the past week in China — Apple is looking into the death of a 23-year-old woman who was electrocuted when answering a call on her charging iPhone, originally reported to be an iPhone 5 but now confirmed to be a prior-generation model. In this case, the Chinese man was allegedly shocked when plugging in an iPhone 4 connected to a third-party charger. An electrical injury was obvious to medical experts, according to a translated report. [via Beijing Evening News (translated link)]
Apple has reportedly acquired Locationary, a small Toronto-based company specializing in local data. Locationary’s technology and team were included in the acquisition, according to AllThingsD. The price of the acquisition is unknown at this time. The report describes Locationary as “a sort of Wikipedia for local business listings,” using crowdsourcing and a data exchange program to keep local business information up-to-date and positionally accurate. Apple will likely use the technology to improve its mapping service.
Apple’s new Activation Lock feature for iOS 7 will be tested by prosecutors today to see if would-be thieves can still use a stolen iPhone 5. The tests are being headed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who previously challenged Apple and other companies to actively combat theft of mobile devices. “While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at their word,” Schneiderman and Gascón said in a joint statement. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is also being tested. “Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves.” [via CNET]
As Apple has recently released Apple TV app-like sections for HBO and ESPN while readying a Time Warner Cable app, the company has also “talked in-depth with other big distributors about similar apps,” according to The New York Times. So far, Apple’s move into TV has been focused on cooperating with distributors and programmers, though its “grand vision” — long-rumored to involve a TV set — is still a mystery. Apple apparently intends to collect fees from distributors to provide enhanced service while continuing to keep current subscribers paying for cable. An example of this enhanced service should be seen in the upcoming Time Warner app, which some say will offer a programming guide that’s “far superior” to Time Warner’s. It’s also noted that Apple has proposed an ad-skipping technology that would charge users for skipping ads, as reported earlier this week by Jessica Lessin. The technology would aim to compensate networks for ad revenue lost, preserving a monetization option for digitally distributed TV programming.
Apple, along with other tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, will reportedly publish a letter asking for increased transparency in U.S. government surveillance. The letter will ask government leaders to let service providers report on national security-related information requests with more detail. Faced with accusations of surreptitious data harvesting from their users, these companies wish to regularly report the number of: requests for user information, individuals or accounts for which information was requested, and requests seeking communications and other information. A government-issued transparency report is also sought by the coalition. “This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use,” a copy of the letter reads. [via AllThingsD]