In an unexpected repeat of the problematic online launches of past iPhones, the pre-ordering systems set up by both Verizon Wireless and Apple have turned away some iPhone 4 customers who arrived for the companies’ 3:00AM sign-up process. Attempts to order the iPhone 4 through Verizon Wireless’s web site failed for more than five hours, as some customers who attempted to sign in to the ordering page were presented with a broken “Sorry, an error has occured” page, promising to get “this fixed as soon as we can.” Other customers reported successes in ordering only after extended problems with the site; one noted that “Verizon’s web site was a disaster” with an early-morning order taking an hour to get placed. Separately, some customers attempting to order the iPhone 4 through Apple’s online Apple Store website were presented with inaccurate information denying their eligibility to pre-order the phone, despite confirmations from Verizon that they were in fact eligible.
As has become common with Apple’s iPhone launch problems in recent years, Twitter discussions have popped up to express the frustration and distress of customers who have been unable to place their orders. Apple has previously made only modest attempts to apologize for pre-ordering issues, instead citing high demand for its products.
Updated 9:08AM: iLounge’s editors have been testing both Apple’s and Verizon’s ordering systems this morning with mixed results. One editor has found that adding an additional line of service to an existing account appeared to be successful in placing an order through Verizon’s site, whereas other editors have been unable to get orders placed through either Apple’s or Verizon’s pre-ordering systems. It’s obvious at this stage that some users (and some web browsers) are having different experiences than others, though the reasons for continued generic error messages on some accounts remain unclear. We’ve updated the title of this story to reflect the uncertain nature of the errors.
Apple has updated its iTunes Store Terms of Service to reflect the new In-App Subscriptions option, debuting in News Corp.‘s The Daily newspaper. A notice at the top of the new terms notes that “[a] new ‘In-App Subscriptions’ section has been added to the Terms and Conditions to explain how in-app subscriptions auto-renew, how the auto-renewal can be managed and turned off, and that we may require permission to provide personal information to the Licensor for marketing purposes which, if declined, will not affect your purchase.” Specifically, the section notes that subscriptions are non-refundable, and will “automatically renew for the applicable time period you have selected, and your Account will be charged no more than 24 hours prior to the expiration of the current Paid Subscription.” Users will be able to cancel automatic renewal by going to a new “Manage App Subscriptions” section of their account, and the auto-renew feature is turned off automatically should the publisher increase the price of the subscription.
News Corporation has announced a live video feed for its launch of The Daily, an iPad-specific publication that will be introduced by company chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch and Apple iTunes executive Eddy Cue. In-app subscription billing through iTunes is expected to be introduced during the event, enabling News Corp. to charge a recurring 99-cent fee to continue use of its publication. We will be updating this story with additional information regarding the event, which kicks off at 11:00AM Eastern Time today.
Updated: A full play-by-play of the event can be found in chronological order by clicking on the title of this news story. In sum, News Corp. and Apple announced a 99-cent weekly recurring subscription package with an annual $39.99 subscription option—numbers designed to make the $30 million dollar initial setup cost and $500,000 per week expense of operating the publication become profitable over time. Advertising is initially expected to be a smaller contributor than subscriptions to the publication’s bottom line. News Corp. did not commit to the publication’s editorial tone, deflecting questions from the audience as to whether it would shift from the company’s traditionally conservative or “downmarket” perspectives, but claimed that it was being designed to appeal to “everybody.”
Editor’s Note: Comments to this article have been closed as they were largely impertinent to the announcements made today. We’re not interested in hosting a debate on News Corp.‘s well-established political agenda, or discussing whether the company’s products are actually “fair and balanced.”
Apple has revealed that it will begin taking online orders for the Verizon iPhone February 9. In a press release reminding current Verizon Wireless customers that they can pre-order the iPhone 4 beginning tomorrow from either Verizon’s or Apple’s websites, Apple also said that “all qualified customers will be able to order an iPhone 4 on Verizon through the Apple Store for delivery or reserve for in-store pick up beginning February 10.” In addition, Apple’s retail stores will be opening at 7:00 a.m. local time on February 10 for sales of the CDMA device. Apple notes that due to high demand, orders will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis.
Apple has been sued yet again over the alleged sharing of Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) and user information, according to an InformationWeek report. The suit, filed in San Jose, CA by Alameda resident Anthony Chiu, claims that Apple knowingly transmits to third parties, without user knowledge or consent, data which could be used to identify individual users. In addition to Apple, the suit also names 50 “John Doe” defendants, leaving open the possibility that some third-party developers could also be added to the suit. “Consequently, anyone who has used a mobile device to browse the Internet to obtain advice about hemorrhoids, sexually transmitted disease, abortion, drug rehabilitation, or care for the elderly; to search for jobs, seek out new romantic partners, engage in political activity; in fact, to do more or less anything; can be reasonably sure that the browsing history created by such investigation has been incorporated into a detailed dossier for sale to marketers,” reads the complaint. Apple was targeted in a pair of similar complaints filed in December following the publication of a Wall Street Journal article which claimed that some apps shared personal information without consent.
Apple has released the third beta version of iOS 4.3 to its paid developers. Listed as build number 8F5166b, it is unclear what has changed in the new version from prior betas, which included the new Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi sharing feature and enhanced AirPlay support for Safari and third-party apps. In addition, the release is once again 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 has rejected an iOS application that would have allowed users to buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store, according to a new report. Citing Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division, the New York Times reports that Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple. The report specifically states that not only can companies not sell content from other stores within their apps—a policy that has long been in place—but that users could not be allowed to access purchases made outside the App Store, a change that could result in the removal of Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook apps, among others. “It’s the opposite of what we wanted to bring to the market,” Haber said. “We always wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store.”
Update: Apple has provided clarification of its policy change to AllThingsD. “We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller told the publication. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.” It is currently unknown whether Sony, Amazon, and other reader app developers will indeed update their applications to comply with the new requirement.
Apple has been sued in a California court over the iPhone 4’s glass housing. LA Weekly reports that Donald LeBuhn has filed a class action suit in L.A. County, claiming that the company is aware of the problem and refuses to warn customers that “normal” use of the device could lead to a broken glass panel. Citing LeBuhn’s suit, the report states that he purchased an iPhone 4 in September, and has the glass break on him three weeks later when his daughter accidentally dropped the phone three feet to the ground. The suit also points to Apple’s statements that the glass is “20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic” as misleading. “Months after selling millions of iPhone 4s, Apple has failed to warn and continues to sell this product with no warning to customers that the glass housing is defective,” the suit reads. LeBuhn is asking Apple to refund of the purchase price of the iPhone 4 to all those in the class action suit, to reimburse customers for any repair fees they’ve incurred, and to make restitution for “their overpayment in purchasing defective iPhone 4s.” [via The Washington Post]
Cybermart, a major Chinese retail chain, has won a distribution deal with Apple to sell its products in China, according to a new report. Citing Cybermart chairman Steve Chang, DigiTimes reports that the retailer plans to set up 500 Apple-licensed retail shops across China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The report states that the first store will be opened in Tianjin on April 1; the company currently has 34 outlets in the country. Notably, Cybermart is part of the Foxconn Group, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners.
Apple has officially launched the iPad in the United Arab Emirates. According to the Twitter account of Apple Premium Reseller iStyle, Wi-Fi only iPads will be priced from AED2,199 (roughly $599) for the 16GB model to AED3,099 (~$844) for 64GB units, while 3G models will run from AED2,799 (~$762) for the 16GB version to AED3,699 (~$1,007) for the 64GB model. iStyle also notes that it will only be offering 3G units, and it is up to customers to choose a carrier and data plan. This marks the second iPad rollout of the day; it was previously revealed that Apple would also be launching the iPad in India today.
Apple has released iTunes 10.1.2, the latest version of its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, iTunes 10.1.2 “syncs music, movies, and more with iPhone 4 (CDMA model) and provides a number of important stability and performance improvements.” Verizon Wireless will be the first to offer the CDMA version of the iPhone on February 10. iTunes 10.1.2 is a 93.1MB download for Mac users and is available now as a free download from iTunes.com or via Apple’s Software Update utility.
News Corp. and Apple have sent out e-mails to select members of the press, inviting them to a special event for the launch of The Daily newspaper. According to The Loop, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will be on hand, as will Apple Vice President of Internet Services Eddy Cue. According to past reports, the new tablet-based newspaper will utilize a new Apple subscription platform that 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. The Daily launch event will be held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and will begin at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday February 2.
Following last night’s design changes, Apple’s online store has posted full details of the plans and options available to Verizon iPhone customers. Mac Rumors reports that beyond the two-year contract, new individual customers will need to choose from voice packages that include a $39.99/mo. plan for 450 minutes, $59.99 for 900 minutes, or the Nationwide Unlimited plan for $69.99. Family SharePlans begin at $69.99 for 700 minutes, moving up to $89.99 for 1400 minutes, $99.99 for 2000 minutes, or $119.99 for unlimited. Data pricing is currently locked at $30/mo. for unlimited data, and as previously revealed, the Personal Hotspot feature will include an extra 2GB of data specifically for that feature for an extra $20 a month. Finally, users will be able to choose between 250 text messages for $5, 500 messages for $10, or unlimited texts for $20; family plan customers will have both the $5 and $10 options, as well as a 5000 messages for $20 option, or unlimited for $30.
Using the above figures, this means the minimum monthly cost for an individual iPhone user on Verizon will be $69.99 without text messaging or the Personal Hotspot feature, and $129.99 for a pair of iPhone users sharing a family plan, with the same limitations. Spread over two years, the total individual cost will be $1,879.75, including the cost of a 16GB iPhone 4 but not counting any additional taxes or fees, and assuming that the customer does not use text messaging or the Personal Hotspot feature. For a pair of iPhone users sharing a family plan, the total cost increases to $3,519.74 over two years, again including the cost of two 16GB handsets but not including the cost of any additional fees, taxes, or features.
Update: Apple appears to have removed the relevant pages from its website.
Update x2: As of February 2, Verizon has officially announced its plans, confirming the prior figures from Apple’s website.
Apple has been awarded a patent for a touchscreen-friendly glove system, according to a new report. Patently Apple points to U.S. Patent 7,874,021, entitled “high tactility glove system,” which the publication has dubbed the “Magic Glove.” The patent describes a pair of gloves consisting of an electrically conductive inner liner, an optional insulating layer, and an outer shell, the latter of which can itself be electrically conductive, or else offer “at least one aperture through which the inner liner may extend to operate the input mechanism of an electronic device.” Notably, several companies already produce touch-friendly gloves using similar systems; as with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area.
Apple overnight made some modest changes to its website design. As noted by Mac Rumors, the new design sports a dark navigation bar, a slight pattern to the background at the top of the homepage, and new pop- and slide-in animations for its product pages, including the main Mac and iPod pages. Interestingly, the report notes that several reports from last night—when the online Apple Store were down due to the design change—suggested that the outage was due to the addition of the white iPhone 4 to the store, which turned out not to be the case.
Apple has posted its latest iPad television advertisement online. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Iconic”—continues the trend of showing 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, followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “fresh,” “tickets,” “news,” “stories,” a rolling counter of “60,000+ apps,” “students,” “teachers,” “hollywood,” and “iconic.” As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Iconic” TV ad is available for viewing below in embedded form or on YouTube.
Apple plans to include near field communication (NFC) technology in its next versions of the iPhone and iPad in order to support a new mobile payment system, according to a new report. Citing Richard Crone, leader of financial industry adviser Crone Consulting, and Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group who claims to have spoken with Apple engineers working on the project, Bloomberg reports that Apple’s system may be able to tap into existing user information, such as credit card numbers, iTunes account balances, and bank data. “It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said. According to Doherty, Apple could launch the mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, and has already created a prototype payment terminal that would allow small businesses to accept payment from NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. He added that Apple is considering offering heavy subsidies on the terminal, or even giving it away, in order to encourage faster adoption. Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, a veteran of NFC development, as its new product manager for mobile commerce last August.
U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Paul Luckern said yesterday that Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry devices do not violate a Kodak patent covering a common image preview feature. BusinessWeek reports that while Luckern’s preliminary findings are a setback for Kodak, they are still subject to review by the six-member commission, which has the power to overturn the ruling and ultimately block imports of iPhone and BlackBerry devices that contain cameras. Kodak first sued Apple and RIM in January 2010, alongside filing the aforementioned ITC complaint, prompting Apple to launch a countersuit and ITC complaint of its own against Kodak, claiming patent infringement.
Apple has launched an official Twitter account for the App Store, its latest iTunes-related Twitter account. According to the description on the account, it will provide featured apps, exclusive offers, and more. As of this writing, the verified account has nearly 90,000 followers, and has seen four updates—one an introductory statement, and three pointing to specific apps. Notably, the account is taking advantage of Apple’s appstore.com domain name, using tw.appstore.com as a URL shortener.
Apple has hired security expert David Rice to be its new director of global security, according to a new report. Citing multiple unnamed sources, AllThingsD reports that Rice is expected to start at Apple in March; it’s currently unknown exactly what his role will entail. The report describes Rice as a well-respected name in the IT security community, and says he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, received a master’s degree in Information Warfare and Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and spent time as both a Global Network Vulnerability analyst for the National Security Agency and a Special Duty Cryptologic officer for the Navy before authoring the 2007 book Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software.