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.
Apple will be rolling out its iBooks app and iBookstore internationally alongside the iPad’s launch on Friday, May 28. Press releases from the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan indicate that the iBooks app for iPad, including the iBookstore, will be available as a free download from the App Store on May 28; as with pricing, Apple has yet to update the press websites of many of the other countries slated to launch the iPad on that day. We will be updating this story with further details as they become available.
Update: Apple has confirmed that both Italy and Spain will also be getting iBooks and the iBookstore on May 28.
Update x2: France has also been confirmed to receive iBooks and the iBookstore on May 28.
Update x3 Germany is now confirmed for the May 28 iBooks launch as well.
Apple has revealed its pricing for the iPad in a number of the international countries in which the device will launch on May 28. In the UK, the iPad with Wi-Fi will sell for £429 (inc. VAT) for 16GB, £499 (inc. VAT) for 32GB, and £599 (inc. VAT) for 64GB, while Wi-Fi + 3G models will be priced at £529 (inc. VAT) for 16GB, £599 (inc. VAT) for 32GB and £699 (inc. VAT) for 64GB. In Australia, iPad with Wi-Fi pricing is set at AUS$629 inc GST for 16GB, AUS$759 inc GST for 32GB, and AUS$879 inc GST for 64GB, while Wi-Fi + 3G models will sell for AUS$799 inc GST for 16GB, AUS$928 inc GST for 32GB and AUS$1049 inc GST for 64GB. The company is continuing to update various other countries’ press websites with pricing; we will post details of other countries’ iPad pricing here as they become available.
Update: In Canada, the iPad with Wi-Fi will sell for $549 (CAN) for 16GB, $649 (CAN) for 32GB, $749 (CAN) for 64GB; Wi-Fi + 3G models will sell for $679 (CAN) for 16GB, $779 (CAN) for 32GB and $879 (CAN) for 64GB.
Update x2: Apple has announced its iPad pricing for Italy and Spain. In Italy, pricing will be set at €499 for 16GB, €599 for 32GB, and €699 for 64GB Wi-Fi models, with Wi-Fi + 3G models priced at a €100 premium. In Spain, the iPad will sell for €479 for 16GB, €579 for 32GB, and €679 for 64GB Wi-Fi models, and €579, €679, and €779 for the respective Wi-Fi + 3G models.
Update x3: Pricing for the iPad in France has been announced. The same as Italy, pricing in France will be set at €499 for 16GB, €599 for 32GB, and €699 for 64GB Wi-Fi models, with Wi-Fi + 3G models priced at a €100 premium.
Update x4: German iPad pricing has now been announced. The 16GB Wi-Fi model will sell for €514, the 32GB for €614, and the 64GB model for €714, with Wi-Fi + 3G models again running €100 more.
Apple’s 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference has sold out in only eight days, according to an update on the event’s dedicated website. Dates for the conference, to be held June 7-11 in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA, were announced on April 28; John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes that last year’s event took a month to sell out, despite the fact that it included a number of Mac OS X and IT sessions that are not being offered at this year’s WWDC. In addition to providing developer sessions, Apple has for the past three years used the event’s keynote address 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.
Apple has announced that the iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK on Friday, May 28. Both iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available; online pre-orders will begin on Monday, May 10. The iPad was originally set to roll out internationally at the end of April, but “surprisingly strong US demand” forced Apple to push it back. In addition to the nine countries listed above, Apple also plans to release iPad in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July. It will announce availability, local pricing and pre-order plans for these nine additional countries at a later date.
Speaking during the company’s recent Q2 conference call, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr made a number of comments praising Apple for its iTunes Store and devices. “The flight to iTunes and iPhone continues,” Bronfman Jr. said, according to a paidContent report. “Apple has proved to be the most adept software and hardware manufacturer out there in delivering content to consumers in a seamless and very attractive consumer experience. No-one’s gotten very rich betting against Steve Jobs - and I don’t want to be the first to do it.”
Bronfman, whose WMG benefitted from Apple’s acquisition of music streaming service Lala as a prior investor, also deflected questions on whether the move suggests an upcoming iTunes subscription service. “Apple is not currently a retailer involved in an access or subscription model,” he said. “I’d probably like not to speculate on what Apple’s plans are - it’s really interesting technology that it acquired in the Lala acquisition. That’s a question that Apple management should answer.”
Apple has been awarded a U.S. patent for the ornamental design of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Filed on June 5, 2008, patent number D615,083 lists both Apple CEO Steve Jobs and senior vice president of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive as inventors. Possible examples for the “electronic device” are listed as a “computer, a portable or hand-held electronic device, media player (e.g., music, video and/or game player), media storage device, a personal digital assistant, a communication device (e.g., cellular phone), and/or the like.” [via GoRumors]
Apple has released the third version of iPhone OS 4 and its accompanying Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch. 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. Changes made in the latest beta have yet to be revealed. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.