Apple has launched a new App Store Facebook page. Developed by social media company Virtue, the new page offers a “Featured” tab of App Store highlights, Top Charts listing the most-downloaded apps, a “Games” tab to showcase featured titles and top-selling games, and a “Search and Share” tab that lets users search for apps—using the App Store API—and share them with their Facebook friends via Wall posts. In addition, each app listing includes a “Get App” button, which will open the app’s iTunes Preview page, and, if iTunes is installed, take the user straight to the related App Store listing. The new App Store Facebook page can be accessed from facebok.com/AppStore. [via Mashable]
Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics has filed a patent infringement complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The AFP reports that the complaint alleges that Apple is violating Elan’s patents related to touch-sensitive input devices with multi-touch capabilities, specifically with the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook laptops, the Magic Mouse, and the iPad. “We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple’s ongoing infringement,” Elan said in a statement. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan requesting that the ITC bar Apple from importing the products into the United States, and prevent it from selling any of the products in the United States that it has already imported. Elan filed a lawsuit against Apple in April of 2009 over the same alleged infringement. [via MDN]
Apple has released its GM, or Gold Master, version of the iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. According to an email sent out to registered iPhone developers, all iPad apps submitted going forward must be built and tested using this release. The email reads, “[a]ll members of the iPhone Developer Program can submit their iPad apps to iTunes Connect for review and approval. If you did not submit your app during the initial review period, but upload it by March 31, it will be reviewed but may not make the grand opening of the iPad App Store.” Apple’s “initial review period” began on March 19 and ended March 27; applications submitted during that timeframe are eligible for the grand opening, but must be re-submitted using this latest SDK release for final approval. The iPhone OS SDK 3.2 GM for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.
According to the iPad end-user software licensing agreement posted online, iPad users will receive free software updates from Apple, up to and including the first major release, and then have to pay for upgrades afterwards. This particular portion of the agreement, published online by Mac Rumors, states: “Apple will provide you any iPad OS software updates that it may release from time to time, up to and including the next major iPad OS software release following the version of iPad OS software that originally shipped from Apple on your iPad, for free. For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release. Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.” Currently, iPhone owners are provided free software updates for at least the first two years of the device’s life, while iPod touch owners are normally charged for major updates. New iPhones and iPod touch units, however, have typically debuted with either a new or very recent version of iPhone OS installed, whereas the iPad will ship with the nine-month old iPhone OS 3.x software, with the possibility of iPhone OS 4.0 being released later this year.
Tony Fadell, former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, current advisor to the CEO, “father of the iPod,” and an executive involved in the development of the iPhone, is leaving the company, according to a New York Times report. Fadell stepped down from his position as senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division in November 2008 for personal reasons, and was replaced by Mark Papermaster, a former IBM executive, who took on the role of senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering; Fadell’s wife Danielle Lambert, former Apple vice president of Human Resources, also left in November 2008. While Fadell declined to talk about Apple with the NYT, he did say that his primary focus going forward would be “helping the environment by working with consumer green-tech companies.” “I’m determined to tell my kids and grandkids amazing stories beyond my iPod and iPhone ones,” he said.
Apple has posted a number of iPad Guided Tour videos on its website. Each one is several minutes long, and explains how to use one of the device’s applications. Individual tours are available for Safari, Mail, Photos, Videos, YouTube, iPod, iTunes, iBooks, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. Apple’s iPad Guided Tour videos are available for viewing now on the company’s website.
Apple today announced that it will be opening all 221 of its U.S. retail stores at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday for the iPad launch. In addition to Apple retail stores, the company notes that the device will also be available at “most” Best Buy stores on launch day. Apple’s retail stores will offer a free Personal Setup service to every iPad customer, and will also be hosting special iPad workshops to help customers learn more about the device. While the iPad will initially only be available from Apple—both online and retail—and retail Best Buy stores, the device will eventually be sold at select Apple Authorized Resellers and campus bookstores, as well. “iPad connects users with their apps and content in a far more intimate and fun way than ever before,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for users to get their hands and fingers on it this weekend.”
Fujitsu has transferred the rights to the iPad trademark in the U.S. to Apple ahead of the device’s launch later this week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Fujitsu agreed last week to assign all rights to the iPad name to Apple beginning on March 17. Fujitsu had originally registered the iPad name in 2003 in connection to a handheld scanner launched by its U.S. subsidiary the year before that was used by retail store clerks for inventory management and other business activities. Details of the agreement between the two companies are not known, however, Fujitsu appears to have changed its stance on the matter since the iPad unveiling; a company representative said the day after Apple’s iPad event that “It’s our understanding that the name is ours,” adding that “mobile is a keyword for Fujitsu’s iPad, too.”
Apple has updated its website to indicate that all new iPad pre-orders will ship on April 12, and has also removed the option of reserving an iPad for in-store pickup on April 3, suggesting the company has sold through its initial allotment of iPad units. Those who pre-ordered earlier and received an e-mail stating that their iPad would arrive on April 3rd should still receive their units on launch day. Although Apple has closed iPad reservations for pickup at an Apple retail store on April 3rd, it remains unclear as to whether the company will have any extra stock on hand to sell to customers who didn’t make a reservation, as the company’s iPad page currently states that customers can “buy iPad at [their] favorite Apple Retail Store starting April 3.” All Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad are still listed as shipping in “late April.”
A new Apple job listing suggests the company is planning to include Long Term Evolution (LTE) “4G” cellular radio technology in future devices, such as the iPhone and possibly iPad. The listing for a “Cellular Technology Software Manager” calls for “[e]xpert knowledge of one or multiple cellular technologies: WCDMA/UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE etc.” Applicants must also “understand the development cycle of phone, IOT, and certification process and carrier approval process.” Both AT&T and Verizon have announced plans to move to LTE networks over the coming years, with Verizon expected to begin its rollout later this year and AT&T expected to begin deployment in 2011. [via Engadget]
Combined with the prior departure of Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt last year, the recent death of Apple director Jerome York has left the company with one of the smallest boards of directors of any Fortune 500 company, the Wall Street Journal reports. Following York’s passing, Apple’s board now has only six members, including CEO Steve Jobs, who is described as a dominating force in the group. Citing unnamed corporate board experts, the report states that the shrinkage is likely to result in directors having to perform more duties than they can handle, and also causes problems for the board’s audit committee, which Apple’s own rules state must have at least three members.
The audit committee was comprised of York, former Intuit Inc. CEO William Campbell and former Genentech Inc. CEO Arthur Levinson. While the company could ask one of its other three independent directors to fill the gap, such a move is unlikely, the Journal says, based on required financial expertise absent from these individuals. According to the report, shareholders have long wanted Apple’s directors to be more independent of Jobs, a move which would help the board challenge the CEO when necessary. A smaller board, packed with Jobs admirers, is considered less likely to expand the company’s options.
Roderick Hills, a former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, said York’s successor should have “sufficient stature and importance to take the CEO on,” adding that the next audit committee chairman should be ready to resign if things aren’t done correctly; York himself said in an interview before his death that he wished he had resigned after learning about the company’s prior concealment of Jobs’ health concerns.
Following a report from yesterday indicating that the iBookstore would offer most titles on The New York Times best sellers list for $9.99, App Advice is now reporting that the iBookstore will also feature a vast number of free titles from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organization that digitizes and catalogs books which have seen their U.S. copyright expire; the Gutenberg website claims to offer over 30,000 ebook titles for free. The report is accompanied by a supposed screenshot of the iBookstore interface, showing several free titles, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, both of which are available through Project Gutenberg; the report also notes that while the number of free titles wasn’t counted, it appears the entirety of Gutenberg’s catalog is available. It was previously revealed that the iPad’s iBooks applicaiton would support non-DRM ePub books not downloaded from the iBookstore, however, this is the first evidence of Apple actually offering these books for direct download.
Apple has reached a deal with Samsung to supply three million 9.7-inch display panels for use in the iPad. According to a Korea Times report, the deal is expected to be worth $240 million. “Samsung Electronics has won a contract worth $240 million from Apple to supply 3 million LCD panels used in the iPads,” said a high-ranking industry representative. “The most expensive component in the iPad is the display and touch-screen interface that costs $80 for all models. The 9.7-inch display is more than twice the size of the iPhone 3GS screen and costs five times as much.” The report cites a separate executive from Samsung Mobile Display, who says Apple is also placing orders with the company for displays to be used in the fourth-generation iPhone. “As far as I know, Apple will use the LCD panels for its next iPhone models. We are receiving related orders from Apple,” said the executive. Apple’s iPad, which launches April 3, uses a display technology called in-plane switching (IPS) to deliver more consistent color and wider viewing angles than those offered by more conventional LCD displays. [via AppleInsider]
In newly-published information from the Wall Street Journal, late Apple director Jerome York is revealed to have previously expressed strong negative feelings about the way Apple handled the disclosure of CEO Steve Jobs’ health issues in late 2008. Speaking with the publication late last year, York suggested that Apple had concealed Jobs’ illness from a December 2008 press release announcing that Apple would no longer attend the Macworld Expo trade show, and that Phil Schiller would appear as the keynote presenter for the company’s final presentation there. “Frankly, I wish I had resigned then,” York said, adding that the concealment of Jobs’ health concerns “disgusted” him. York also said that the only reason he didn’t resign at that point was to avoid the uproar that would have occurred once he gave his reason for leaving. Apple subsequently disclosed Jobs’ illness in two January 2009 press releases, the first revealing a mysterious weight loss issue, and the second announcing the CEO’s six-month leave of absence from running the company. Jobs ultimately received a liver transplant that he credited with saving his life.
Several members of the U.S. Army’s technology command recently visited Apple headquarters to discuss the use of Apple products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, in Army business and battlefield operations. Army.mil reports that Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general and key members of his staff traveled to Apple’s Cupertino, CA headquarters on March 5, touring the company’s facilities and discussing current military use of Apple products. “The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions and toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield,” Justice said. “We’re continuing to leverage commercial technology for battlefield uses; we can’t ignore that kind of existing knowledge. Our job, as stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar, is to adopt and adapt appropriate commercial technology and offer the best possible solution to the warfighter.”
Currently, the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center (CERDEC) is helping to develop and transition two iPhone applications, one used to collect information on counter-insurgency, and the other offering a combined planning and social networking environment. “Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual,” said Ron Szymanski, CERDEC’s lead computer scientist on the project. “The Army would like to leverage Apple’s experience when designing military applications.”
Apple may be planning to match Amazon’s $9.99 pricing on books featured in the New York Time’s Best Sellers lists, according to a new report. Citing a first-hand preview of the iBookstore, App Advice reports that 27 of the 32 books featured in the NYT Best Seller section were priced at $9.99, matching the pricing of Amazon.com’s Kindle bookstore. Notably, the number four best seller was missing from the list entirely, perhaps because Apple has not yet secured a deal with the book’s publisher; among the titles not priced at $9.99, the most expensive was $12.99. In addition, one book—The Help by Kathryn Stockett—was also featured on the screen during Apple’s iPad special event, and at that time was listed at $7.99, while most of the other titles were priced at $10.99 or higher. Curiously, the report closely follows a separate article citing pricing concerns as the reason why Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to offer its titles on the iBookstore.
Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to sell its books in the upcoming iBookstore over fears of the effect Apple’s pricing strategy could have on the pricing of electronic books. The Financial Times reports that Random House CEO Markus Dohle is not ruling out the possibility of reaching a deal with Apple before the iPad goes on sale April 3, but is moving carefully because of pricing concerns. Dohle said the new model poses “changes, in particular for our stakeholders,” that require the publisher to consult with its authors and agents before moving ahead with the deal. Hartmut Ostrowski, CEO of Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann, acknowledged the importance of the iPad and other electronic book readers in a recent press conference, stating that they are influencing the media sector “like nothing else.”
In a brief reply to a customer email, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly confirmed that the iPhone will soon offer a universal email inbox. A TUAW reader asked Jobs “will iPhone ever have a universal mailbox just like Mail has on my Mac? It would be so much easier and efficient,” to which the notoriously terse CEO replied “Yep.” Notably, the email was apparently sent from an iPad, as was a reply to a separate inquiry asking whether there was a way to transfer Google Docs to an iPad using iWork.com or iDisk—Jobs responded positively to this question as well. Jobs has been known to respond to customers’ emails on occasion, normally with short, one sentence answers.
Apple and AT&T, along with 20 other companies including Acer, Google, HTC, LG, Nokia, and Palm, have been sued by California-based MicroUnity Systems Engineering, which is claiming infringement of 14 separate patents. AppleInsider reports that the suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, specifically names the iPhone 3GS and third-generation models of the iPod touch, as well as competing devices including the Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One, Palm Pre, and Nokia N900. The patents specified in the suit appear to cover a wide range of mobile processor activities, relating to parallel operation, cache operation, and other general processing concepts. According to the suit, AT&T was targeted because it sells the iPhone 3GS and “services utilizing and software utilized by such products.”
The iPhone OS has overtaken Sony’s Playstation Portable in terms of U.S. portable game software revenue, according to a new report from Flurry Analytics. Using publicly available market data from NPD, estimated Nintendo DS and Sony PSP game software sales, and iPhone games sales estimated using a combination of data from both Apple and the company’s own app-tracking analytics service, the iPhone OS as a platform increased its share of U.S. portable game software revenue from 5% in 2008 to 19% in 2009. In the same time period, the Nintendo DS’ revenue share fell from 75% to 70%, and the PSP’s share fell from 20% to 11%, leaving it behind the iPhone OS. Apple’s overall share of U.S video game software revenue, which includes revenue from console software sales, increased from 1% in 2008 to 5% in 2009; Flurry speculates that the launch of the iPad could lead to more increases for the iPhone OS platform. “With the iPad featuring a larger screen and more processing power, games on the tablet take a step closer to PC and console gaming,” the report states. “Unless the other major video game platform providers (i.e., Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) respond accordingly, Apple could continue to roll up video game market share.”