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 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 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.”
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Apple has released updates to its iWork suite of applications for the iPad. The updates generally improve performance and reliability across all three applications and improve compatibility with importing and exporting Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents in their respective applications. The updates also add support for French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. Pages 1.1 now displays the toolbar and ruler and automatically fits documents to the page width when working in landscape orientation. Numbers 1.1 improves reliability when importing Numbers ‘09 spreadsheets and improves compatibility with pasting information in from Keynote and Pages. Keynote 1.1 now provides an option to show additional alignment guides at smaller intervals when moving items and improves reliability with Keynote ‘09 and Microsoft Powerpoint presentations. All three iWork applications remain available on the U.S. App Store only at this time, are priced at $10 each and are a free update for existing users.
Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn recently needed to defend itself against allegations of employee mistreatment following a rash of employee suicides. The Daily News reports that a 24-year-old Foxconn worker named Chu recently threw herself from her rented apartment in Shenzhen, marking the eighth Foxconn employee suicide this year. “We regret to see the recurrence of such incidents,” Foxconn said in statement. According to the article, Foxconn employs roughly 300,000 workers at its Shenzhen complex, where a 24-year-old male worker leaped to his death less than two weeks ago. The company came under fire last year for its employee treatment following the suicide of 25-year-old Sun Danyong, who reportedly lost a prototype iPhone prior to his death. Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.
Apple has posted its latest iPad television ad online. Beginning with the question “What is iPad?,” the 30-second spot goes on to call the device “thin” and “beautiful,” saying it “goes anywhere and lasts all day.” While showing the device’s automatic screen reorientation, the ad says “there’s no right way or wrong way,” before exclaiming that the iPad is “crazy powerful” and “magical.” The ad claims that “you already know how to use it,” describing it as “200,000 apps and counting,” “all the world’s websites in your hands,” “video,” “photos,” and “more books than you could read in a lifetime.” The claim that “it’s already a revolution, and it’s only just begun” closes the advertisement, which features a male narrator and “Gold Lion” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the background. As noted by Mac Rumors, the ad also pays homage to a prior Apple advertisement for the Newton PDA. The “What is iPad” ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Washington-based company SoftView has filed a lawsuit against both Apple and AT&T claiming patent infringement. SoftView claims that the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser infringes upon its patent for “Scalable Display of Internet Content on Mobile Devices,” for which it applied in 2005 and was granted in 2008. The patent’s abstract states, “Mobile devices enabled to support resolution-independent scalable display of Internet (Web) content to allow Web pages to be scaled (zoomed) and panned for better viewing on smaller screen sizes. The mobile devices employ software-based processing of original Web content, including HTML-based content, XML, cascade style sheets, etc. to generate scalable content. The scalable content and/or data derived therefrom are then employed to enable the Web content to be rapidly rendered, zoomed, and panned. Moreover, the rendered displays provide substantially the same or identical layout as the original Web page, enabling users to easily navigate to selected content and features on familiar Web pages.” SoftView is seeking an injunction against Apple as well as damages. [via The Loop]
HTC announced today that it has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), outlining five HTC patents it believes Apple infringes upon with its iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. “As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation that offer consumers the best, most accessible mobile experiences possible,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of North America, HTC Corporation. “We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones.” HTC is requesting that the ITC “halt the importation and sale of the iPhone, iPad and iPod in the United States.”
Update: According to a copy of HTC’s complaint to the ITC obtained by iLounge, the five patents cited by HTC “relate generally to hardware and software used to implement telephone directories within mobile telephone systems,” as well as “power management methods implemented in portable electronic devices.”
Newly discovered court documents relating to a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple and AT&T in 2007 have confirmed that the two companies originally signed a five-year iPhone exclusivity deal. Engadget quotes a briefing filed by Apple, which reads, “[t]he duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not ‘secret’ either. The [plaintiff] quotes a May 21, 2007 USA Today article – published over a month before the iPhone’s release – stating, ‘AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world.’ [T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T’s] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years… Moreover, it is sheer speculation – and illogical – that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power….” It remains to be seen whether the five-year exclusivity deal is still in place, however, as it has been speculated that the terms of the two companies’ iPhone deal may have been part of the negotiations over iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G data plans.
Apple has updated its support document “iPad: Issues connecting to Wi-Fi networks,” adding to the page’s list of possible solutions. The document now mentions both trying to update router firmware and using WPA or WPA2 wireless security; strangely, it also suggests adjusting the screen brightness if its set at the lowest level. Other suggestions include renewing the IP address, and turning Wi-Fi off and then back on. Notably, the document now states that “Apple will also address remaining Wi-Fi connectivity issues with a future iPad software update,” although no timetable is given for the update’s release. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple’s retail store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood is being accused of discrimination against Chinese customers resulting from an effort to reduce the number of iPads being purchased for export. Grace Meng, a representative of Queens in the New York State Assembly, has emailed Apple after receiving a number of complaints from customers claiming that Apple employees denied them iPads, demanded to see passports, or otherwise acted inappropriately. “One person was asked why they wanted one since their English was not so good,” Meng told the Daily News. “I want to get an explanation.” In one example, a Queens man was initially told that the store was out of iPads, and was only able to secure one after seeking out an Asian employee. The man claims he was later approached by a manager and asked if he was planning to resell the unit. “I’m just so upset,” the man said. “This is racial profiling.” It is unclear whether the incidents are a result of policy originating from Apple on the corporate level, or if employees have simply been told to be on guard for customers who may be purchasing iPad for resale and are being grossly overzealous in their attempts to do so.
Apple has lowered its pricing on its 16GB and 32GB iPad models in Germany following a number of complaints from customers. iPad pricing for the German market was announced on Friday, with prices running €15 higher across the board than in Italy and France, a difference that Apple CEO Steve Jobs said was due to a new copyright levy on computers in that country. “Blame your government,” Jobs reportedly said in an email response (Translated Link) to a concerned customer. “Germany just added a new copyright levy for computers.” Unfortunately, this was not the case on the 16GB and 32GB models; the levy in question only included computers with internal storage of 40GB or higher. Apple updated its German pricing for the iPad accordingly over the weekend, a fact which Jobs alluded to in a reported response to an inquiry over the price reduction. “We found out this weekend that iPad is not subject to a new German copyright tax that we previously thought it was subject to,” Jobs wrote in his response. As a result, the 16GB and 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi models are now priced at €499 and €599, respectively, in Germany, while 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G models are priced at a €100 premium; pricing on 64GB models, which are subject to the levy, remained at €714 for Wi-Fi only models and €814 for Wi-Fi + 3G versions. [via Mac Rumors]
According to the latest data from research firm IDC, Apple was the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer in the first quarter of 2010. Apple’s quarterly shipments more than doubled year-over-year in the period, from 3.8 million in Q1 2009 to 8.8 million in Q1 2010, an increase of 131% that far outpaced overall market growth of 56.7%. Apple’s record shipments were good for 16.1% of the worldwide market, up from 10.9% in the year ago quarter, but still behind leader Nokia’s 39.3% share and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, whose lead over Apple shrank significantly as it held a 19.4% share of the market. Apple was followed by HTC, with 4.8%, and Motorola with 4.2%.
“2010 looks to be another year of large-scale consumer adoption of converged mobile devices,” says Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. “Consumers will gravitate to smartphones not just because the devices themselves look ‘cool’ and ‘slick’, but because the overall experience aligns with their individual tastes and demands. Users are seeking – and finding – experiences that are intuitive, seamless, and fun.”
Despite recent statements dismissing Apple’s impact on the company’s business, Nintendo is internally preparing to launch an assault on Apple as the latter’s iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad begin to eat away at Nintendo’s handheld gaming business. Citing sources close to Nintendo, the Times Online reports that Nintendo president recently told senior executives to treat Apple as the “enemy of the future,” after profits at the Kyoto-based company fell for the first time in six years. According to the report, sources describe a mood of concern at the company, with the hardware and software teams racing to restore the “surprise” the company considers a hallmark of its gaming experiences. The report does not describe what, exactly, Nintendo plans to do about Apple’s encroachment on its business, short of saying that it plans to “unleash the full force of its development and marketing artillery.” [via Mac Rumors]
Nokia has announced that it is suing Apple in Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five patents held by Nokia. MarketWatch reports that the patents relate to technologies for enhanced speech and data transmission, using location data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space. “Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in mobile devices” said Paul Melin, General Manager, Patent Licensing at Nokia. “We have taken this step to protect the results of our pioneering development and to put an end to continued unlawful use of Nokia’s innovation.”
The Finnish company first 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); it is unclear whether this prior order will have any bearing on this newest lawsuit.