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Apple updates Bumper cases for Verizon iPhone

Apple is now selling updated Bumper cases, offering compatibility with both the GSM and CDMA variants of the iPhone 4, according to a new YouTube video. The video, posted by YouTube user Alerio, shows that Apple has reversed the colors on the packaging—going from predominantly grey to predominantly white for the white model—and has subsequently removed the foil from the Apple logo and iPhone 4 print on the paper backing. As for the case itself, it appears that the volume buttons have stayed in nearly the same position, while the hole for the ring/silent switch has been tweaked and elongated to accomodate for the lower position of the switch on the CDMA model. While it is of little consequence to GSM iPhone 4 owners, users looking to purchase a case compatible with the CDMA model will want to double-check to make sure their Bumper has the new packaging, and thus the larger side opening. [via 9 to 5 Mac]

Eric Schmidt to step down, Page to take over as Google CEO

In a surprise move, Google today announced that its CEO Eric Schmidt will step down from his post April 4th, and will be replaced in the role by company co-founder Larry Page. Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman for the company, focusing on “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership.” Google is a strategic partner of Apple’s on several fronts, providing the backends for Apple’s iOS Maps and YouTube applications, as well as serving as the default search engine for its Safari browser. The two companies have become fierce competitors in recent years, however, due to Google’s Android smartphone OS, which is locked in a battle with Apple’s iPhone for control of the global smartphone market, and Apple has taken steps to distance itself from dependence on Google’s services.

Notably, a report from last year indicated that Google co-founders Page and Sergey Brin were disappointed with the way the company’s relationship had soured under Schmidt’s leadership, and considered Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs a “role model” as they grew into technology executives. An anecdote from an episode of Bloomberg’s “Game Changers” went so far as to say that the pair wanted to hire Jobs as Google’s CEO during the company’s early years. Schmidt served on Apple’s board of directors from 2006 to 2009, when he resigned from the board due to “potential conflicts of interest,” explained to be iOS- and iPhone-related.

Update: Eric Schmidt has posted an open letter explaining the management changes.

Apple blocking user access to iPhone with special screws

Apple is beginning to use specialized screws to seal the outside case of the iPhone 4, according to a new report. Arguing that the move represents an effort by Apple to keep users from being able to repair their own phones, iFixIt reports that Apple is using a new five-point “Pentalobe” screw, for which there are no readily available screwdrivers. According to the report, Apple has used three different sizes of the screw, first using it to secure the battery of the mid-2009 MacBook Pro, then using an extremely small variant on some iPhone 4 units, and employing yet another size to lock users out of the new MacBook Air. In addition, the report claims that should a user bring in for repair an iPhone 4 with standard Phillips screws on the exterior, Apple will replace them with the new, tamper-resistant Pentalobe screws without notifying the customer of the change. As a remedy, iFixIt is offering a $10 “iPhone 4 Liberation Kit,” which includes a five-point screwdriver—good for removing the Pentalobe screws but not recommended for repeated use—along with two Phillips replacement screws and a #00 Phillips screwdriver for future servicing.

Apple releases iOS 4.3 beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the second beta version of iOS 4.3 to its paid developers. Listed as build number 8F5153d, it is unclear what has changed in the new version from the first, which brought AirPlay functionality to Safari and third-party apps, the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature, an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch, and new four- and five-finger gestures for the iPad. Notably, documentation released alongside the new beta indicates that the aforementioned gestures will not be part of iOS 4.3’s public release, but are instead included in order to gain developer feedback, and the release is accompanied by a new preview build of Apple TV Software 4.3. Separate versions of iOS 4.3 beta 2 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

For more information on iOS 4.3, see our Full Breakdown article.

Apple sues Nokia in U.K. over touch scrolling patent

  • January 19, 2011
  • Apple,

Apple has filed yet another lawsuit against Espoo, Finland-based Nokia, according to Bloomberg. The new suit, filed in the High Court in London, alleges that one of Nokia’s European patents for scrolling technology on a touchscreen device is invalid. Nokia has filed multiple suits against Apple in Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, claiming infringement on some 37 patents. “Nokia is confident that all of the 37 patents it has asserted against Apple” are valid, Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant told Bloomberg. “We are examining the filing and will take whatever actions are needed to protect our rights.” The legal battle between the two companies dates back to October 2009, and also includes a countersuit against Nokia filed by Apple in the U.S., as well as opposing complaints filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Apple COO Cook alludes to display investment?

During Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, Apple COO Tim Cook made several statements that suggest the company sees display technology as a potential component investment for the future. When asked about Apple’s long-term investments on components, Cook mentioned the company’s prior $1 billion flash memory investment as something that was important across the product line, and added that the company has identified a similarly important area in recent quarters. Cook said that the company has come into pre-payment agreements in this new area for parts, equipment, and tooling in hopes of achieving a specific competitive advantage. While Cook didn’t directly mention it, separate reports from the same week in December claimed that Apple was expected to supply a portion of the investments required for a new Toshiba LCD plant and Sharp LCD production line, respectively. Both reports specifically mentioned that as a result of Apple’s investment, the new factory and new production line were expected to produce displays primarily for the Cupertino-based company. Given Apple’s reliance on touchscreen technology in its iOS devices, it seems likely that these were the agreements to which Cook was referring during the call.

Update: The investment is worth $3.9 billion dollars over two years, and involves three vendors. Apple made pre-payments of $650 million during the last quarter, and expects to make $1.05 billion in payments during the March quarter.

Apple Q1 2011: 19.45 million iPods, 16.24 million iPhones, 7.33 million iPads

  • January 18, 2011
  • Apple,

Reporting its first quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold 19.45 million iPods during the holiday quarter — a seven percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Despite the drop in unit sales, revenue from iPod sales actually increased one percent year-over-year, to $3.425 billion. Apple also sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, an 86 percent increase year-over-year, and up from 14.1 million units in the prior quarter. Apple also sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter, up from 4.19 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010. The units sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 89.9 million, 298 million, and 14.79 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $26.74 billion and net quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share, representing all-time revenue and profit highs, compared with revenue of $15.68 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share in Q1 2010. Sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 23% over the year-ago quarter, and up 15% from Q4 2010, to $1.431 billion total. That category includes iTunes Store sales, iPod services, and revenues from Apple and third-party iPod accessories. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue, up from 58 percent in the year-ago quarter.

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”

“We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our business, generating $9.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $22 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $4.90.”

Live blog: Apple’s Q1 2011 financials conference call

  • January 18, 2011
  • Apple,

We’ll be providing live play-by-play coverage of Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, expected to feature Apple COO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer discussing gangbuster results from October through December 31, 2010. Key points from the call include the revelation that the company has signed a new, multi-year, non-exclusivity deal with AT&T (5:35PM), the fact that over 160 million iOS devices have been sold—meaning that 55 iPod touch units have been sold (5:08PM), that the ASP of the iPhone is expected to hold steady next quarter despite the recent price drop on the iPhone 3GS, suggesting that interest in the iPhone 4 far exceeds that of the 3GS (5:35PM), and that the company targeted the Chinese market as a growth opportunity, and has seen revenue from that region jump 4x from the prior quarter (5:18PM). Continue reading to see more information about these and a host of other topics.

This story will be updated in reverse chronological order as the call proceeds starting at 5:00PM ET/2:00PM PT; refresh it for regular updates.

6:01PM: End of call.

5:58PM: Q: Consumerization of enterprise technology is taking place; are there still barriers to developer training at corporate level or other issues to work through to get more penetration in enterprise? A: It’s a megatrend that’s occurring, most forward-looking CIOs are realizing that enabling creativity of employees is materially more important than everyone using the same thing. Ability to write apps easily for a phone is incredibly powerful, you can run an entire business from the iPhone. So the numbers are already incredible—iPad shipped in April and now in 80% of largest companies deploying or piloting, which is unheard of, as enterprise is generally much slower and more cautious. To everyone’s credit, they’ve seen value of this from productivity/creativity point of view and are really moving fast. In terms of inhibitors, iPad has huge advantage because as you can recall with iOS releases, we always put in a huge chunk of enterprise features, and this isn’t something we just started working on—we started with the first iPhone. So there’s a huge place here for us.

5:56PM: Q: Peter, more insight on iPad gross margins going forward? Should we assume Apple will improve feature set and hold pricing stable? A: Can’t answer that question. In terms of what we’re shipping today, we’re always looking to lower our costs and have a good track record of doing so. We feel very, very good about performance of our products and costing of our products. Q: MacBook Air - given initial success and momentum, how are you looking at it now, premium tablet or notebook? A: The Mac of the future shipping today. It was a phenomenal part of the growth of the Mac last quarter. Customers love the precision, thinness, weight, instant on. We’re really happy with how it’s doing. We’ve only been shipping it for less than 90 days, just gotten going on it.

More below…

Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes medical leave of absence

  • January 17, 2011
  • Apple,

Apple has released an email sent by CEO Steve Jobs to all company employees, stating that he will be taking his second medical leave in the last two years.

“Team,

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.

Steve”

Jobs took a medical leave from the company just over two years ago today, during which he received a liver transplant. It is unclear whether the cause of the current leave is a recurrence of or side effect from his prior bout with pancreatic cancer, or some unrelated issue.

Apple tightens App Store rules for publishers?

According to a pair of reports out of Europe, Apple has changed its rules regarding how print publishers are allowed to let users access their content from within iOS applications. de Volkskrant reports (Translated Link) that Apple has told publishers it will no longer allow periodicals to bundle free access to the iPad version of the publication with print or online subscriptions. NRC adds (Translated Link) that Apple has given publishers until March 31 to comply with the new rules or risk having their apps removed from the App Store. Both reports note that Apple wants its 30 percent cut of the subscription price, which it does not receive when all payments are handled outside the App Store. Notably, Apple is reportedly working on a new subscription platform for the iPad (and likely other iOS devices as well) which will allow users to sign up for a subscription to a magazine or newspaper and have new content automatically delivered to their device. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to appear on stage with News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in the coming weeks to announce the new subscription offering alongside News Corp.‘s upcoming iPad-based newspaper The Daily. [via AppleInsider]

Apple launches 10 Billion App Countdown

Apple has launched a new 10 Billion App Countdown promotion to celebrate the downloading of the ten billionth app from the App Store. “As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide,” reads the promotion’s web page. “Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a US $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. Just visit the App Store, and download what could be your best app yet.” Customers are limited to 25 entries per day, and Apple is providing a free entry form for those who would like to enter without making a purchase or performing a download. The promotion will end after the download of the 10 billionth app; for more information, see Apple’s official rules.

Apple, News Corp delay The Daily’s debut

News Corp. and Apple have delayed the debut of the former’s new iPad newspaper, The Daily, in order to polish the new subscription platform that will be used to deliver the paper. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the digital newspaper was supposed to be unveiled next Wednesday by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs at a special event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the launch has been delayed by weeks, and not months, according to the report. “The app and the service work, it’s just getting them to talk to each other that needs more time,” said a person familiar with the matter. News Corp. confirmed the delay but declined to comment beyond that. Once released, Apple’s new subscription platform will allow customers to sign up for a subscription to a periodical via the App Store and get the publication delivered automatically to their iPad each time a new issue is published, instead of needing to purchase each issue individually either as a separate app or through in-app purchases.

Apple releases first beta version of iOS 4.3 to developers (Updated x2)

Apple has released iOS 4.3 beta 1, the first beta version of its next major point release for iOS, to its paid developers. According to notes accompanying the release, the beta includes a pre-release version of future Apple TV Software so that developers can test AirPlay functionality with their 4.3 apps, meaning that users should be able to send video from apps or websites to the Apple TV under the new software. A prior report also indicated that the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature debuting on the Verizon iPhone 4 will make its way to other models under iOS 4.3, although it is unclear whether the functionality is included in this update. Separate beta versions of iOS 4.3 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

Update: TUAW reports that the new beta also includes support for new four- and five-finger gestures on the iPad. “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad,” reads Apple’s developer page for iOS 4.3. “You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps. Test them and give us your feedback on the Apple Developer Forums.”

Update x2: Mac Rumors notes that the new beta also offers an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch. The iPad originally shipped with the switch acting as a screen rotation lock, but Apple changed its behavior in iOS 4.2.

Microsoft trying to block Apple’s ‘App Store’ trademark

Microsoft has confirmed that it is attempting to block Apple’s trademark application for the phrase “App Store.” BBC News reports that Microsoft has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application on the basis that it is too broad. “An ‘app store’ is an ‘app store’,” said Russell Pangborn, Microsoft’s associate general counsel. “Like ‘shoe store’ or ‘toy store’, it is a generic term that is commonly used by companies, governments and individuals that offer apps. The term ‘app store’ should continue to be available for use by all without fear of reprisal by Apple.” Apple first filed for the trademark in 2008, and this week launched its second application store—the Mac App Store—alongside the release of Mac OS X 10.6.6.

Apple’s Schiller: CDMA iPhone was ‘a lot of work’

Speaking with AllThingsD at yesterday’s Verizon iPhone press event, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller made several comments about the development of the CDMA iPhone. “It was a lot of work,” Schiller said of the two-year process, which involved months of testing and more than 1,000 prototypes. Schiller also commented on the new model’s Personal Hotspot feature, saying, “A big part of it is the software, I’d say the biggest part. It uses the hardware in different ways.” Schiller also admitted that the feature would be a boon to Wi-Fi only iPad owners looking for a way to access the Internet away from traditional Wi-Fi, saying, “It’s a good way to do it.” Verizon will launch the CDMA iPhone on its network February 10.

Report: Apple to launch CDMA iPad on Verizon

Apple is planning to produce a CDMA-compliant version of the iPad for use on Verizon Wireless, according to a new report. Citing Francis Shammo, CFO of Verizon Communications—Verizon Wireless’ parent company—Bloomberg reports that the new offering will pose a further challenge to AT&T, which lost its iPhone exclusivity with today’s announcement of a CDMA iPhone 4 for Verizon. The report states that Shammo declined to say when the product may become available, but given the fact that the current-generation iPad was revealed almost a year ago, it seems likely that any CDMA version may appear as a second-generation product. Verizon currently sells Wi-Fi-only iPad units—bundled with MiFi mobile hotspots for data access—at its stores.

Verizon iPhone 4 coming February 10; $199/$299

Verizon Wireless and Apple have officially announced a CDMA variant of the iPhone 4. The design of the CDMA handset is similar to that of the GSM model, but features a revised antenna design with a noticeable black line above the ring/silent switch, as well as a Personal Hotspot feature that allows it to provide wireless Internet access to up to five devices at a time. Apart from CDMA and the Personal Hotspot, the phone’s feature set appears to have remained the same, with a five megapixel rear video camera, 720p HD video recording, the Retina Display, a front-facing camera, and A4 chip. Notably, due to the limitations of Verizon’s CDMA network, the device will be unable to handle simultaneous voice and data connections; neither will the CDMA version of the iPhone be exclusive to Verizon Wireless. The CDMA iPhone 4 will be available for pre-order to existing Verizon customers beginning February 3, while all other customers will be able to order starting February 10, the official launch date. Pricing is set at $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model with a new two year customer agreement.

“We are pleased to introduce millions of wireless users to the industry leading iPhone 4 on the nation’s most reliable network,” said Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon. “This is an important step for the industry as two great companies join forces to give wireless customers one of the most important technological additions to the mobile landscape this century.”

“Verizon Wireless customers have told us they can’t wait to get their hands on iPhone 4, and we think they are going to love it,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer. “We have enormous respect for the company Verizon has built and the loyalty they have earned from their customers.”

For analysis of the Verizon iPhone announcement, see our Backstage article.

Apple drops restock fees, iPhone 3GS price

Following in the footsteps of its retail partners, Apple has officially dropped the price on the 8GB iPhone 3GS, while a new report suggests the company its dropping its standard restocking fee. The 8GB iPhone 3GS is now available for $49 directly from Apple with a two-year contract; the move was widely expected, as retailers such as AT&T, Radio Shack, and Best Buy were already offering a similar discount on the device. In addition, 9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple is dropping its standard 10% restocking fee beginning tomorrow. While the report indicates that the 14 day return policy will remain in place, the absence of the restocking fee will allow potential iPhone customers to purchase both the AT&T and Verizon versions of the device and test them during the return window to see which works best for them, then return the unwanted version without penalty.

Keynote Remote adds Retina Display support

Apple has released an update to its Keynote Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for iOS 4 multitasking features and Retina Display graphics on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch.  The update also improves the handling of push notifications received while controlling a presentation and fixes several issues with network connectivity and connecting to Keynote ‘09. Keynote Remote 1.2 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.

EU Micro-USB charging standard allows iPhone adapter

Two European standards bodies have released the final specs for a new universal cell phone charging standard based on Micro-USB. In a European Commission press release, the CEN-CENELEC and ETSI announced that the “harmonised standards needed for the manufacture of data-enabled mobile phones compatible with a new common charger” are now available. “I am very happy that the European Standardisation Bodies have met our request to develop within a short space of time the technical standards necessary for a common mobile phone charger based on the work done by industry,” said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship. “Now it is time for industry to show its commitment to sell mobile phones for the new charger. The common charger will make life easier for consumers, reduce waste and benefit businesses. It is a true win-win situation.”

In June, Apple, along with Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, and Texas Instruments, signed an agreement aimed at standardizing all data-enabled cell phone chargers beginning in 2011; although Micro-USB has been chosen as the standard connector, the agreement allows Apple to bundle some form of Dock Connector to Micro-USB charging adapter with the iPhone in the EU, instead of adding a separate Micro-USB port to the device or abandoning the Dock Connector in favor of the new standard. Given the continued popularity of full-sized USB ports and Apple’s use of the same cables for non-mobile phone products including the iPod and iPad, this adapter most likely will take the form of a USB to Micro-USB adapter for current cables, rather than a redesigned Dock Connector to Micro-USB cable. [via Mac Rumors]

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