Apple is in talks with the major record labels about launching a music subscription service, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post reports that Eddy Cue, Apple’s Vice President of iTunes, was on the phone with music executives as recently as a few weeks ago, attempting to iron out a plan of acton for the partners. According to one Post source, Apple would use a tiered pricing structure for the service, with prices ranging from $10 to $15 depending on how much music would be included and how long customers would have access to the content. The report cites one music industry executive as saying that the labels are supportive of such a service and believe it could re-energize digital music sales. While a potential iTunes subscription service has been rumored for many years, the article notes that the impending U.S. launch of the ad-supported music streaming service Spotify on Windows Phone 7 devices has given the idea new life.
Apple is once again offering its iPhone 4 Bumper cases via its online store. Unavailable online since the announcement of the company’s iPhone 4 Case Program, the cases had begun to reappear in the company’s retail stores as of October 1, the day after the Case Program ended. Apple’s U.S. online store now shows availability of all six Bumper colors, ready to ship within 24 hours at a price of $29; notably, this is the first time any of the Bumper colors save for black have been available since they were pulled from store shelves in July. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has been canceling a number of iPhone 4 orders placed with the Apple Online Store in Hong Kong, according to MIC Gadget. While Apple’s cancelation emails state that the customer has exceeded the limit of units any single person is allowed to order, the report claims that some customers were not over the quantity limit, and that the cancelations did not appear to be related to stock shortages. Instead, MIC Gadget suggests that Apple is canceling the orders in the wake of last week’s incident in Beijing, where the company had to close one of its flagship stores due to a large group of scalpers attempting to purchase large quantities of iPhone 4 units to sell on the gray market, and is trying further to keep the phones out of the hands of scalpers. Interestingly, the report notes that the selling price of an iPhone 4 on the Hong Kong grey market has actually risen since news of the order cancellations broke, giving scalpers greater incentive to get their hands on iPhone 4 units.
Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Motorola, Inc., has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and certain Mac computers infringe Motorola patents. The company has also filed patent infringement complaints against Apple in the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida. According to Motorola’s announcement, the three complaints include 18 patents, which relate to “wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.” Motorola Mobility has asked the ITC to start an investigation into Apple’s potential infringement and issue an Exclusion Order barring the importation, sales, marketing, advertising, and use of such products in the U.S.; in its court cases, it is seeking to force Apple to cease using its patented technology and provide compensation for any past infringement.
Apple has posted a new iPhone 4 TV advertisement focused on the device’s Retina Display. Entitled “Every,” the spot touts the 960x640 display as the “highest resolution phone screen ever,” the 30-second spot demonstrates how the technology improves the quality of the user’s photo and movie viewing, reading, gaming, and social networking experience while using the phone. Apple’s latest iPhone 4 TV spot is available for viewing now on the company’s website.
Apple has reduced the estimated wait time for new iPhone 4 orders from its online store down to 5-7 days. The reduction—which appears to be unique to the U.S. online store, as wait times in other countries remain at three weeks—could be a sign that Apple is beginning to get its supply issues with the handset under control. During Apple’s most recent quarterly earnings conference call, COO Tim Cook repeatedly explained that the company was making iPhone 4 units as fast as it could sell them; the company has since greatly expanded the number countries in which the phone is available, potentially hindering its ability to meet demand. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple was recently ordered by a jury to pay damages to Mirror Worlds LLC for infringing the latter’s patents related to the display of digital documents, but is challenging the verdict. Mirror Worlds, a software business started by a Yale University computer-science professor David Gelernter, claimed that Apple’s Cover Flow and Time Machine display methods infringed on its patents, and was awarded $208.5 million in damages for each of the patents infringed. Apple has asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis for an emergency stay of the verdict, claiming that there are outstanding issues with two of the three patents, and also claimed Mirror Worlds would be “triple-dipping” if it were to collect the full $208.5 million for each of the three patents. Bloomberg reports that Davis also is considering Apple’s request, filed before the verdict, to rule that the company doesn’t infringe two of the patents, which would lead him to strike the amount of damages attributed to those two patents.
Apple has revised its original AirPrint announcement, removing promised support for the second-generation iPod touch. Announced in September, AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks that can print text, photos, and graphics wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need for additional drivers or software. Notably, Apple’s original release claimed that printing would only be supported on iOS devices that support multitasking, yet listed the second-generation iPod touch as compatible. The second-generation iPod touch has since been removed from the compatible device list. This is the second incident in the last few months where Apple has revised its list of supported devices before a software update’s official launch, as it removed Game Center support for the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G while it was still in beta testing, only to add back support for the second-gen touch shortly before the feature’s debut in iOS 4.1. [via 9 to 5 Mac]
Athletic apparel company Adidas has reportedly pulled out of Apple’s iAd mobile advertising service due to Apple’s control over the program. Citing two mobile industry executives, Business Insider reports that Adidas decided to cancel its $10+ million campaign with Apple after the iPhone-maker rejected its creative concept for the third time. A Wall Street Journal report from August suggested that Apple was experiencing early challenges with the service, including resistance from advertising agencies over the company’s tight control; it noted that one named launch partner—Chanel SA—had already pulled out of the service. According to Business Insider, neither Apple nor Adidas responded to requests for comment.
Apple has released an update to its MobileMe Gallery application adding native iPad support. MobileMe Gallery is a free app that allows iOS device users to browse through their own and their friends’ MobileMe Galleries directly on an iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The application provides features similar to the built-in Photos app including pinch-to-zoom for photos, portrait and landscape orientation and support for playing videos from MobileMe. Previously-viewed photos are also cached for offline viewing. MobileMe Gallery version 1.2 is now a universal app offering full iPad support as well as fast app switching for iOS 4 devices and support for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch Retina Displays. iPhone and iPad users can also now view friends’ galleries without requiring their own MobileMe subscription, a feature conspicuously omitted for iPod touch users. MobileMe Gallery is available from the App Store as a free download.
The App Store is holding its first major sale on popular iOS game titles, offering discounts of up to 70% off normal prices. All of the included titles are selling for $3 or less and the list includes such acclaimed titles as Peggle ($1), Mirror’s Edge ($2), Real Racing ($3), NFL 2011 ($3), Need for Speed Shift ($1), DOOM Resurrection ($2), Osmos ($1), Resident Evil 4 ($2), Civilization Revolution ($1) and many more. The sale runs until October 7th. A complete list of game titles included in the sale can be found on the App Store.
Speaking at the Royal Television Conference in London, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes cautioned against potential deals with Apple and/or Amazon that could harm sales of TV shows to other networks. “How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?” Bewkes said. “These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place.” NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, who has a history of playing hardball with Apple, recently voiced similar concerns about Apple’s 99-cent TV rentals, saying, “We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content. ... We thought it would devalue our content.”
Apple’s flagship store in Beijing was forced to close its doors early today after a group of iPhone 4 scalpers created a chaotic scene. MIC Gadget reports that Apple removed its limitation on the number of contract-free iPhone 4 units any single customer could buy at the store, perhaps unintentionally paving the way for the problems ahead. The store opened at 7:00 a.m. local time, but closed only three hours later, with many customers left in the queue outside, unable to enter. The report claims that scalpers were entering the store and buying large quantities—20-30 units at a time—of iPhone 4s, then proceeding out into the mall and attempting to sell the units to passerby at a higher-than-retail price.
According to the report, people were literally being pushed into the cashier’s counter, some holding stacks of bank notes, prepared to buy as many iPhone 4 units as they could afford. The situation escalated when a group of regular customers got into a fight with the scalpers; Apple’s own security staff, along with local police, were called in to clear the store and restore order. An update to the article states that all four Chinese Apple Stores are now requiring each customer to show his/her identity card when purchasing an iPhone 4, and are limiting sales to just one per customer. In addition, Apple employees are unboxing the iPhone 4 units for customers and activating the phones immediately, preventing scalpers from purchasing the phones and reselling them as “brand new.”
Today is the last day of Apple’s iPhone 4 Case Program, meaning that any potential iPhone 4 customer needs to purchase their phone today in order to be eligible for a free case. Notably, although the purchasing window is closing, customers still have up to 30 days from the purchase date to submit their claim. With the end of the Case Program, Apple is expected to put its Bumper Cases for iPhone 4 back on store shelves, according to a new report. Citing unnamed insiders, ifoAppleStore reports that the cases are expected to reappear for purchase on Friday, and may be limited in quantity and color at first.
TechCrunch reports that Apple has approved the official Google Voice application for the iPhone. Citing a “source close to Google” the article indicates that the application has already been approved and is now just waiting for Google to update it to work with the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 multitasking capabilities. Google first attempted to release a native iPhone application for its online telephony service last summer, however the application was rejected by Apple, citing duplicate functionality. Subsequently, several third-party Google Voice applications were also removed from the App Store based on the same policy—namely that these applications duplicated features that were already present on the iPhone, such as the Phone and Messaging applications.
Following Apple’s publication of a new set of guidelines for the App Store earlier this month, several of the previously rejected third-party Google Voice applications such as GV Mobile+ have made a sudden reappearance. Although no official word has yet been released on Google’s plans for its own Google Voice application for the iPhone, the company presently provides native applications for both the Blackberry and its own Android platform and merely an HTML5 web interface for iPhone users. A native application would be able to offer features that a web-based application cannot, such as Push Notifications and tighter integration with other iOS applications.
Apple has released its second beta version of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, along with its accompanying SDK and a new beta version of iTunes 10.1. It is unclear what new features are present in the update, although it does appear to offer a slightly altered multitasking animation. Slated for a November release, iOS 4.2 will bring several new features to Apple’s mobile device OS, including AirPlay streaming, AirPrint wireless printing, and the ability to import .ics files directly into Calendar as new events, and will bring the iPad’s software feature set into parity with the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s iOS 4.2 beta 2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch and iTunes 10.1 beta are available now as free downloads for paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
- September 28, 2010
Apple has filed a lawsuit against Nokia in Britain claiming patent infringement, extending the ongoing dispute between the two companies beyond U.S. borders. Reuters reports that the U.S. International Trade Commission is set to rule on some of the claims made by the two companies next year, while court hearings in the U.S. legal case aren’t scheduled until 2012. “We are investigating the claims, which appear to be based on nine implementation patents already in suit between the two companies in the United States,” said Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant.
The Finnish company filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by an ITC complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”
The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents.
Apple has released an update to its Remote application for iOS devices, adding native iPad support and compatibility with iTunes 10 and the new Apple TV. Remote 2.0 provides a slightly redesigned user interface on the iPhone and iPod touch to reflect changes in the iOS 4 iPod and Music applications as well as adding support for the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G. When running on the iPad, the new Remote application mirrors the design of iTunes 10 when viewed in landscape mode, even including similar playback controls, status window and search fields found at the top of the screen. The update also adds the individual AirPlay volume controls introduced in iTunes 10 and includes support for accessing and controlling Shared Libraries on iTunes and the new Apple TV and can now automatically add iTunes and 2G Apple TV libraries through the iTunes Home Sharing feature. Remote 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.
- September 27, 2010
Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform will end the year with 21 percent of the U.S. mobile advertising market, according to a new report. Citing estimates provided by IDC, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Apple’s percentage of the market will come at the expense of Google, which IDC also expects to end with 21% even when combined with results from AdMob, and Microsoft, which is expected to end 2010 with a 7% share of the market. Notably, Google held a 27% share of the market last year while Microsoft held 10%; Apple didn’t sell mobile ads last year. Mobile advertising sales are estimated to reach nearly $500 million this year.
Apple’s decision to relax its restrictions on tools developers are able to use to create iOS applications has led the European Competition Commission to drop its antitrust investigation into the company. “Apple’s response to our preliminary investigations shows that the Commission can use the competition rules to achieve swift results on the market with clear benefits for consumers, without the need to open formal proceedings,” Commission VP Joaquín Almunia said in a statement. The Commission this spring launched two parallel investigations into Apple’s iPhone business: one concerning its app and app development restrictions, and one concerning its “country of purchase” rule, whereby repairs service was only available in the country where the iPhone was purchased. Apple has since changed the latter policy and has told Authorized Service Providers to offer cross-border support in regions where Apple itself does not offer repair service.