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Justice Department probe into Apple grows

The United States Justice Department’s probe into Apple’s business practices has expanded beyond digital music to include other types of media, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, the New York Post reports that the DOJ is now contacting large media and technology companies in addition to the major music labels and Internet music companies to learn their views on Apple. “The [Justice Dept.] is doing outreach,” an unnamed Hollywood industry source told the Post. “You can’t dictate terms to the industry. The Adobe thing is just inviting the wrath of everybody.” Another Post source at a media company said, “If Apple thinks it’s going to increase its monopoly with the iPad, it should look at the history of other walled gardens.” The New York Times reported last week that the Justice Department was looking into possible antitrust issues regarding Apple’s digital music business, in particular its efforts to keep music labels from giving Amazon early access to new release music.

Apple to pay Foxconn employees direct subsidies

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Following a rash of suicides that has drawn widespread attention, Apple will soon begin paying direct subsidies to Foxconn employees involved with manufacturing the company’s products in an effort to improve employee happiness. Citing unnamed sources, Chinese-language Zol.com reports (Translated Link) that Apple already pays Foxconn 2.3% of final product prices, but will expand this by paying an additional amount, reportedly in the 1-2% range, directly to the employees, subsidizing their current $132 monthly salary. The report also claims that the subsidies will initially be paid to iPad product line employees; no mention is made of if or when the additional payments might be extended to employees involved in the manufacture of other products such as the iPhone and iPod. [via Engadget]

Apple sells two millionth iPad in under 60 days

Following the initial international release of the iPad this past weekend, Apple has announced that it has sold over two million iPads—a milestone reached in “less than 60 days,” according to the company. “Customers around the world are experiencing the magic of iPad, and seem to be loving it as much as we do,” read a press release quoting Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “We appreciate their patience, and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”

The release comes at a time when iPad sell-outs are common throughout the United States, which saw separate launches of the iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G in April. While the iPad with Wi-Fi was widely available in Apple Stores following its debut, waiting lines developed at Apple Stores soon thereafter as demand began to exceed supply, and have continued in certain parts of the country for weeks. Apple Stores now take non-binding reservations for iPad hardware, and suggest ordering online for fastest fulfillment, which takes between one and two weeks from the date of order.

Apple launches iPad in nine countries

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Apple today officially launched the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. iPadevice has posted photos from the device’s launch in Italy, while SetteB.IT has posted a video from the Italian launch as well as photos from the Apple Store in Osaka, Japan. MacPlus has posted video from the Apple Store Louvre in Paris, France, and iFun.de has posted a picture from the device’s German launch. More information on international iPad pricing and data plans can be found in our Complete Guide to International iPad Pricing + Service Providers.

Apple accepting self-published books to iBookstore

Apple has posted an online application for authors looking to publish and sell their own works on the iBookstore. A new page on Apple’s iTunes Connect developer/media portal reveals the technical requirements for distributing content on the iBookstore, including an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5 or later, at least 1GB of RAM, QuickTime 7.0.3 or later, at least 10GB of available hard drive space, and a broadband Internet connection. Book content needs to have an ISBN number for each title intended for distribution, and be submitted in the EPUB format, capable of passing Epubcheck 1.0.5. Finally, publishers will need a U.S. Tax ID and a valid iTunes Store account. The page also notes that Apple does not pay partners until they have reached certain payment requirements and earnings thresholds in each territory, and suggests that certain authors may receive payments faster by working with an Apple-approved aggregator. [via Mac|Life]

Apple accepting iTunes Gift Cards for apps in Canada

Apple is now allowing Canadian iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users to purchase apps using iTunes Gift Cards. Citing reader reports, iPhone in Canada notes that prior to this week, Canadian iTunes Gift Cards could only be used to purchase movies, videos, and music from the iTunes Store; the cards are sold in $15, $25, $50, and $100 dominations. The report states that Apple has yet to update its support pages relating to the topic.

Apple ‘saddened and upset’ by Foxconn suicides

Apple has said in a statement that it is “saddened and upset” by the recent suicides at manufacturing partner Foxconn. Reuters reports that Apple’s comments come as Foxconn and its parent company Hon Hai are launching a PR campaign to counter growing concerns about the company’s handling of its employees. “We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn,” Apple said in a statement. “We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously. A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made.”

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou has also spoken out about his concern over the ongoing employee suicides, with nine so far this year. “I’m very concerned about this. I can’t sleep every night,” said Gou. “From a scientific point of view, I’m not confident we can stop every case. But, as a responsible employer, we have to take up the responsibility of preventing as many as we can.” Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.

Apple facing antitrust inquiry over iTunes

The Justice Department is looking into Apple’s business practices in the market for digital music, according to a New York Times report. Citing several people briefed on conversations between Justice Department staff, major music labels and Internet music companies, the report states that the antitrust inquiry is in its early stages, and talks thus far have broadly dealt with selling music online. In particular, investigators have asked about allegations that Apple used its dominant position in the market to keep music labels from giving Amazon early access to new release music. Billboard reported in March that Apple had begun pressuring labels to stop participating in Amazon’s MP3 Daily Deal promotions after the latter began asking for one-day exclusives prior to the featured albums’ release dates as well as digital marketing support in exchange for Daily Deal placement. Apple commands a 69 percent share of the digital music market, according to data from the NPD Group, compared to only 8 percent for second-place Amazon MP3.

Apple offers free iPod touch in Back to School promo

Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion, through which it offers college students and faculty or staff members at any grade level a free iPod with the purchase of select Macs at education pricing. This year, the company is offering a free 8GB iPod touch—or a maximum rebate of $199 should the purchaser select another iPod model—with the purchase of a new MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro computer. The promotion runs from May 25 through September 7; for more information, see the official Terms and Conditions page.

Apple taps Oscar-winning director for new iPhone ads

Apple has tapped Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes to direct its TV advertisements for the next-generation iPhone. Citing a trusted source as well as a pair of Twitter updates, Engadget reports that Mendes, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2000 for American Beauty, will direct the new commercials, at least one of which will feature a mother and daughter having a video chat conversation using the new front-facing camera. Auditions for the commercials are being held in New York and California, according to the report; Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone on June 7 during his keynote address at the company’s WWDC event.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs to open WWDC with keynote address

Apple has announced that CEO Steve Jobs will open the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote address on Monday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m. Held at Moscone West in San Francisco, CA, the event offers developers sessions focusing on both Mac OS X and iPhone OS, as well as web app development; this year’s sessions are skewed heavily toward iPhone OS development, and the event sold out in a record eight days, with more than 5,000 developers registered. In past years, Apple has used the keynote address at WWDC as a venue for iPhone-related announcements, revealing the launch date for the original iPhone in 2007, introducing the iPhone 3G at the 2008 event, and unveiling the iPhone 3GS in 2009. Notably, a Mac Rumors reader emailed Jobs late last week following a number of announcements from Google relating to its iPhone-rival Android OS, saying that he hoped Apple has “some good WWDC announcements to blow them out of the water,” to which Jobs replied, “[y]ou won’t be disappointed.”

Apple begins populating international iBookstores

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According to a report from Italian language iPadevice (Translated Link), Apple has begun populating the iBookstores of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK ahead of next week’s iPad launch. According to the report, all of the currently listed books in Italy are from the free Project Gutenberg library, and while only one book—The Devine Comedy: Inferno—is available thus far in Italian, the total number of books on the store already tops 10,000, with placeholder pages set up for poetry, biographies and memoirs, philosophy, fiction and literature, and more. Apple will launch the iPad in the nine countries listed above on Friday, May 28.

FTC clears Google/AdMob deal, cites Apple’s iAd

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it has closed its investigation into Google’s proposed acquisition of mobile advertising company AdMob. According to announcement, the Commission found the deal “unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks,” and that “although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency’s concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market.” Most notable among these recent developments was Apple’s announcement of its iAd service, through which, the statement notes, “Apple can leverage its close relationships with application developers and users, its access to a large amount of proprietary user data, and its ownership of iPhone software development tools and control over the iPhone developers’ license agreement.” Google signed an agreement to purchase AdMob last November in a deal worth $750 million; Apple CEO Steve Jobs said earlier this year that Google “snatched” the company away from Apple because Google didn’t want Apple to have them.

Apple opens international iPad App Stores

Apple has started bringing its iPad-based App Store online in the nine countries in which the device will launch next week. iPad users in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK should now be able to access their local App Stores through their device by logging in with their home-country iTunes accounts. Notably, this early rollout has not yet extended to iTunes on the desktop, so only those who imported an iPad early will be able to visit the new stores. Engadget notes that the stores seem “a bit unstable” as things are being brought online; Apple will launch the iPad in all nine countries listed above on May 28.

Apple reverses iPad cash policy following complaint

Apple has reversed its policy of not accepting cash for iPad purchases following a customer complaint that garnered regional attention. Diane Campbell, a disabled San Francisco-area woman, had saved up $600 to purchase an iPad only to be told at the company’s Palo Alto retail store that it was company policy to only accept credit/debit cards for iPad purchases. The policy was intended to help enforce Apple’s two-per-person iPad purchase policy.

Following her experience, Campbell took her story to ABC 7 in San Francisco, where it was picked up by a consumer advocate reporter. After the TV segment aired, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson contacted the reporter to let him know that the company had “made a decision today to change” its purchase policy and will now accept cash for iPad purchases. Johnson said that cash purchasers would be required to register their iPad before they leave the store. As for Campbell, Johnson said, “We all would love people like Diane to get an iPad, so I called her up and she was very excited, and we’re actually on our way to deliver an iPad to her house”—for free. After a pair of Apple employees arrived at her home to present her with the iPad, Campbell said, “What I would like to say to Steve is thank you.”

Gartner: Apple world’s seventh-largest cell maker in Q1

According to the latest numbers released by research firm Gartner, Apple was the seventh-largest cell phone manufacturer in the world by units sold in Q1 2010. Apple held 2.7% share of the worldwide cell phone market in Q1, trailing market leader Nokia, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry-maker RIM, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola. In the worldwide smartphone market segment, Apple held down third place in Q1 based on unit sales by operating system, thanks to gains that gave it a 15.4% share of the market, trailing only Symbian, which lost share year-over-year but still finished with a market-leading 44.3% share, and RIM, which also lost market share year-over-year, finishing with 19.4% market share. These numbers are comparable to similar data released by research firm IDC earlier this month. Directly behind Apple was Android OS, which jumped from 1.6% of sales in Q1 2009 to 9.6% in Q1 2010, displacing Windows Mobile from the fourth spot in the process.

Apple releases iPhone OS 4 beta 4, adds U.S. tethering

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Apple has released the fourth beta version of iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone and iPod touch, along with the accompanying SDK. As with prior beta releases, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Mac Rumors notes that the new beta version includes a new configuration page for Internet Tethering, and a special alert for AT&T customers telling them to call AT&T at 611 or visit AT&T’s website to enable tethering on their account, suggesting AT&T may be planning to offer the long-awaited feature with the arrival of iPhone OS 4. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.

Apple CEO Jobs: iPhone OS offers ‘freedom from porn’

In an atypically lengthy email exchange with Valleywag editor Ryan Tate, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments explaining and defending his company’s stance relating to third-party iPhone OS development. Tate, incensed by Apple’s latest iPad commercial, wrote Jobs asking whether a 20-year-old Bob Dylan—often cited as an inspiration for Jobs—would think the iPad had anything to do with a “revolution,” stating that “[r]evolutions are about freedom.” Jobs responded positively, saying it represents freedom from “programs that steal your private data” and “trash your battery” and “[f]reedom from porn.” Quoting Dylan, Jobs added, “The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.”

When Tate commented that he’d “rather have a Wired magazine app that offers interactivity [referencing the mag’s demo app built on Adobe Air] than one that is a glorified PDF,” Jobs responded that “Wired is doing a native Cocoa app,” as is “almost every publisher.” Tate then argued that they were only making native Cocoa apps because they have to, to which Jobs replied that “they don’t have to. They don’t need to publish on the iPad if they don’t want to. No one is forcing them. But it appears they DO want to.” He continued, “The magazine apps will be far better in the end because they are written native. We’ve seen this movie before.” After another round of replies from Tate, Jobs summed up in his final email, “we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.”

Unsealed iPhone 4G warrant reveals felony allegations, more

A San Mateo judge has unsealed legal documents relating to the ongoing investigation into the loss, purchase, and subsequent publication of details regarding a prototype fourth-generation iPhone. Contained within the documents are a number of new details relating to the case, including an affidavit suggesting that Gizmodo editor Jason Chen was suspected of purchasing or receiving stolen Apple property, maliciously damaging the property, and copying an Apple trade secret. All three crimes are considered felony offenses.

According to the affidavit, prototype iPhone finder Brian Hogan learned the identity of the Apple engineer who lost the device the same evening it came into his possession, and recognized that it was, in fact, a more advanced device than any currently available iPhone model. This information came from Hogan’s roommate, who reported the incident to Apple after Hogan connected the device to her own personal computer, believing the company could trace the device back to her. Apple representatives told the authorities that the publication of details relating to the prototype phone was “immensely damaging,” and could hurt sales. The same roommate claims Hogan realized the potential value of the device, and contacted Gizmodo, Engadget, and PC World in an attempt to start a bidding war for the iPhone.

Within 10 days of obtaining the phone, Hogan made contact with Chen, who offered to purchase the device for $10,000—twice the amount Gizmodo parent Gawker Media has claimed it paid. Hogan had reportedly already received between $7,500 and $8,500 for the device at the time the affidavit was filed, with a bonus to be paid if and when Apple publicly unveiled the device. When told of the amount Hogan would receive for the device, the roommate asked why Gizmodo would pay so much for it, to which Hogan allegedly replied, “[t]hey know it’s valuable. They would receive millions and millions of hits.” The roommate also claims that she and others attempted to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, saying it would damage the career of the Apple engineer who lost it, to which Hogan reportedly replied “[s]ucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn’t have lost his phone.”

Notably, the document also contains copies of emails from Gizmodo Editorial Director Brian Lam to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in which Lam attempts to negotiate with Jobs for some benefit to Gizmodo in exchange for returning the phone, and to Apple Senior Vice President Bruce Sewell, the majority of which has already been published, save for an odd remark at the end referring to “spankings.” A complete collection of the documents unsealed today is embedded below.

ITC to investigate Apple’s complaint against Kodak

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced that it will launch an investigation into Apple’s claims of patent infringement against Kodak. According to a news release from the ITC, the investigation will cover products including digital still cameras, digital video cameras, and related software; Apple is seeking both an exclusion order and a cease and desist order. Apple filed its complaint with the ITC alongside a lawsuit in April, stating that the patents Kodak is allegedly infringing “relate generally to advancements and innovations in the fields of image processing, power management, and memory architectures in portable digital devices.” Kodak filed a lawsuit and an ITC complaint, which is also being investigated, against Apple and RIM in January, claiming that the iPhone and some BlackBerry models infringe on a patent covering technology for previewing photos.

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