Apple has started using its iTun.es domain as a URL shortener, while adding playlist sharing to Ping, its new music-focused social network. The iTun.es domain, which Apple purchased in 2006, is now used for shortening URLs in Twitter updates sent from Ping. As 9 to 5 Mac notes, Apple previously used the t.co URL shortening service with Ping. In addition, Apple has added the ability for Ping users to create playlists which can be shared, added to by friends, rated, and reviewed. To create a playlist, users simply need to click on the “Create a Ping Playlist” link on the right side of Ping’s Recent Activity page, and then search for songs to add—unfortunately, users are currently unable to import previously made iTunes playlists into Ping.
Apple is among several companies expected to bid on patents owned by telecom company Nortel Networks. Reuters reports that the patents, which pertain to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), are expected to draw bids Apple, Google, Motorola, and Research In Motion as the companies fight legal battles over patents related to mobile handsets. The patents are part of an auction of bankrupt Nortel Networks’ portfolio of intellectual property, which also includes patents relating to optical and data networking, Internet, Internet advertising, voice and personal computers. The auction is said to have been underway for about seven months. [via Mac Rumors]
As first reported by iLounge in October, membership club Costco has confirmed that it is phasing out all Apple products per a mutual agreement between the two companies. Speaking to The Seattle Times, Costco CFO Richard Galanti said that the company had sold iPods and iTunes Gift Cards for years, but Apple had never allowed the retailer to sell its products online, as it did other retailers. “In the past couple months, we agreed to wind down,” he added. Costco is the third-largest retailer in the U.S., with 425 stateside warehouses, more than a quarter of which are in Apple’s home state of California.
Apple has begun the process of rolling out 90 second song previews on the iTunes Store. According to a letter from Apple to its music distribution and label partners that leaked online last month, the company is increasing the length of music previews on the iTunes Store in the U.S. from 30 seconds to 90 seconds for all songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length. The letter also stated that by continuing to offer their music on the iTunes Store, the labels are indicating acceptance of the new terms, meaning that any label not wishing to participate would need to pull their music from the store. Notably, it seems the lengthier new previews are appearing on top/featured songs and albums first, while many older, less popular titles have yet to see their preview times increased. [via BGR]
Apple has removed its restrictions on where App Store promo codes can be used, allowing developers to send codes to journalists and other users worldwide. “Your promo code distribution is no longer limited to U.S. customers,” says the Apple alert, reposted by Mackinando (Translated Link). “Promo codes in iTunes Connect can now be redeemed by all App Store customers worldwide. Your Team Agent can request 50 codes per version of your app in iTunes Connect and your customers can redeem these codes in any App Store. To learn more about requesting promo codes in iTunes Connect, see the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.” [via Mac Rumors]
Long time game designer and programmer Graeme Devine has left Apple’s iPhone Game Technologies division. According to Kotaku, Devine’s last day with the company was Friday. “My job there was basically to make gaming on the iOS devices fantastic,” Devine said. “Basically that meant looking at the technologies involved and making sure the software played well with the hardware, to look at upcoming hardware/API and say ‘Yup, that is a good thing’. Apple didn’t have an in-house game designer before me so I think it was pretty unique, game technologies touch everything from the graphics stack to touch latency to push notifications. No other app type covers so many technologies and having someone there to validate and help shape that was basically my day job.” Devine, who joined the company in November 2009, said that gamers shouldn’t worry about his departure from the company, saying, “I can’t comment on what’s next inside Apple, but I can tell you, they really do ‘get’ gaming.”
Apple has lowered its prices on its refurbished iPad Wi-Fi units while adding 3G offerings. Compared to the prior discount of $50 off retail for Wi-Fi models, the 16GB model is now $429, or $70 lower than retail units, while the 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models have seen their prices slashed to $499 and $599, respectively, a discount of $100 off retail. The refurbished Wi-Fi + 3G models are discounted $50 off of retail bringing their pricing to $579-$779. Apple first started selling refurbished iPads in September; all refurbished units include a standard one-year limited warranty.
MarketWatch has named Apple CEO Steve Jobs the “CEO of the Decade.” In a lengthy profile accompanying the award, Jobs is praised for turning the company around in the late ‘90s, for the stream of successful product introductions—iTunes, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad—that have come since, and for driving the company’s stock price upward. “The resurrection of Apple is just the most astounding story that’s probably happened in business in at least a decade — you might be able to go further and say it’s a half-century,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, a technology-industry think tank. “It’s on par with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell in terms of its total impact.” The article also compares Jobs to Walt Disney; Jobs served as CEO of Pixar for much of the decade before selling the animation studio to The Walt Disney Company, in turn becoming its biggest individual shareholder and securing himself a seat on the board.
A group of European carriers is arguing that companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook should help pay for the multi-billion dollar network investments needed to support their bandwidth-intensive services, according to a Bloomberg report. “Service providers are flooding networks with no incentive” to cut costs, said France Telecom Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard last month. “It’s necessary to put in place a system of payments by service providers as a function of their use.” Richard addressed the issue at the “Le Web” conference in Paris this week, and has joined with Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe and Telefonica SA CEO Cesar Alierta in arguing for a new business model. Bernabe said that the disparity between investments and revenue “is set to compromise the economic sustainability of the current business model for telecom companies,” adding that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Skype “increasingly look like integrated operators in the telecom network sector.”
The article sites IDC as estimating that the number of mobile data connections in western Europe will rise by an average of 15 percent a year to 270 million in 2014, while overall end-user revenue will fall about 1 percent a year. Canalys adds that carriers’ average spending on network infrastructure over the same period will jump 28 percent to roughly $3.8 billion. Companies like Google and Yahoo! “use Telefonica’s networks for free, which is good news for them and a tragedy for us,” Alierta said in February. “That can’t continue.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the service providers themselves don’t agree with the carriers’ position. “Currently about 40 percent of our expenses go to networks anyway—servers, peering, our content delivery network, and other resources,” said Giuseppe de Martino, legal and regulatory director for Paris-based online-video service Dailymotion SA. “If telecom operators want us to share in their expenses, perhaps we should talk about sharing subscription revenues as well.”
Apple has released version 1.4 of its VoiceOver Kit for the fifth-generation iPod nano and third- and fourth-generation iPod shuffle. VoiceOver enables the devices to announce the names of playlists, songs, and artists, as well as battery status and other messages. According to Apple’s release notes, the new version offers pronunciation improvements for many artist and song names, improved voices for Korean, German, and Russian, and fourth-generation iPod shuffle support for Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, and Thai languages. VoiceOver Kit 1.4 is a 32.5MB download and is available for download now via Apple’s Software Update utility.
Apple has started sending out free iTunes Movie Rental codes to select iTunes users, according to a new report. Citing an email received by a reader, 9 to 5 Mac reports that the included code is good for one rental from iTunes’ library of over 8,500 movies, and that the distribution of the codes seems to be random. Most likely, Apple is attempting to use the promotion to raise awareness of Movie Rentals on the iTunes Store, perhaps hoping to boost sales of the second-generation Apple TV in the process.
Apple’s retail stores are now offering “iPad Gift Card” packages for the holidays. As seen in our photos, the iPad gift cards aren’t specially-printed cards with iPad imagery on them, but instead appear to be standard Apple Store gift cards that have been placed inside iPad-specific packaging. Interestingly, customers weren’t initially able to purchase iPads with Apple Store gift cards, as company policy required users to pay with a debit or credit card.
In an interview with CVG, Electronic Arts vice president Patrick Soderlund said he believes Apple would have a fighting chance in the video game console market should it choose to enter. When asked whether Apple would have a shot at challenging Sony and Microsoft in the console market, Soderlund said, “If it was anyone but Apple, I’d say that’s going to be very hard.” He continued, “I still think it’s going to be extremely hard for them but they’ve surprised many people before. Look at what they did with the iPhone, right? They are a truly brilliant company so I would give them a relatively good chance to succeed if they tried.” [via MDN]
Apple is at a standstill in talks with magazine publishers over the terms of a potential iTunes subscription model, according to a new report. Citing anonymous publishing sources, AllThingsD reports that Apple is offering publishers the ability to sell app subscriptions through iTunes, 70 percent of revenue, and the ability to offer a simple opt-in form for gleaning name, address, and e-mail address. The publishers are apparently unhappy with the revenue split model, preferring to sell subscriptions themselves, but are more at odds over the lack of access to subscribers’ credit card data, which is valuable to them for marketing purposes and allows them to bundle the digital subscriptions with traditional print media. The report also notes that a News Corp. executive said the company’s upcoming iPad newspaper the Daily won’t launch until the first quarter of 2011, but expects it to showcase a new “push” feature from Apple that will allow new issues to be downloaded to an iPad automatically. Notably, News Corp. owns AllThingsD.
Apple has made a number of small but notable changes to its Apple Universal Dock kit. The new set includes the Universal Dock, which looks similar to the company’s 2007 model, Apple’s new aluminum Remote, Dock Adapters to fit the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G/3GS, iPod touch 2G/3G, iPod touch 4G, and iPod nano 5G, a USB power adapter and USB cable. Perhaps due to the inclusion of the charger, the revised Universal Dock package now sells for $59, compared to $49 for the prior version. Apple’s new Universal Dock is available now. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has posted its latest iPad television ad, focusing on the new features of iOS 4.2.1. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Amazing”—shows the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps and features. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, and is followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “creating,” “printing,” “vital,” “ideas,” “multi-tasking,” “facts,” “figures,” and “amazing,” the last showing a movie being streamed to an Apple TV using AirPlay. As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Amazing” ad is available for viewing on the company’s website.
Apple has updated its Game Center terms of service, notifying users that their full names will be used in conjunction with friend requests. “We have changed the Game Center terms and conditions to provide you notice that if you send a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the recipient,” the new document states. “If you accept a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the sender.” Notably, it appears users’ full names will not be shared with other users sending unknown friend requests, unless they accept the invitations.
Olivier Sanche, Apple’s Director of Global Data Center Operations, passed away last week after suffering a heart attack, according to a new report. Citing Tweets and blog postings from some of Sanche’s friends, Data Center Knowledge reports that Sanche joined Apple in August 2009, and oversaw the preparations for the company’s new $1 billion data center in North Carolina. Prior to Apple, Sanche headed data center teams at AT&T, Telecity Group and eBay; for the latter, he oversaw the design and construction of eBay’s “Topaz” data center in Utah, which recently received LEED Gold certification for its sustainable construction. “Olivier loved being at Apple as he could do things he could get done nowhere else,” friend Dave Ohara wrote. “He had vision, passion, and drive to do the right thing, especially for the environment.”
Apple has added to its legal team ahead of key legal battles with rival companies Nokia, HTC, and Motorola. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Apple and Nokia are squaring off before the International Trade Commission this week, with each side alleging intellectual property violations. “These are very well-known, deep-pocketed, high-end manufacturers,” said Lyle Vander Schaaf, an attorney at Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione in Washington, who handles cases before the ITC. “Usually you have one 800-pound gorilla going after a new entrant. Here you’ve got 800-pound gorillas fighting each other.” According to the report, Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, and has hired some of the country’s top patent lawyers as outside counsel, with experience representing companies such as Creative Technology, Broadcom, and Merck & Co. Apple also added an in-house attorney to its ranks this year, hiring former Sun Microsystems head of IP counsel Noreen Krall; Krall now focuses on intellectual property litigation for Apple.
Apple has confirmed the purchase of a 98-acre site near its existing headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The site has served as a longtime campus for rival tech company Hewlett-Packard, and sits across the street from a 50-acre site that Apple acquired in 2006 and had previously announced as the location for a planned second campus. “We now occupy 57 buildings in Cupertino and our campus is bursting at the seams,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told the San Jose Mercury News. “These offices will give us more space for our employees as we continue to grow.” Apple and HP declined to give the sale price or any specifics of the transaction, although local real estate experts suggest the asking price may have been $300 million or more.