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Swiss Apple Store leaks 802.11n AirPort Express [updated]

A page posted on the Swiss Apple Store over the weekend showed a 802.11n-capable version of the company’s AirPort Express router, leading to speculation that the product is likely to be introduced this week. The page has since been removed. Originally introduced in 2004, the AirPort Express is a compact wireless router which also functions as an AirTunes client, allowing any iTunes user on the network to send audio to speakers connected to the AirPort Express. In addition, it also offers wireless printer sharing functionality. The 802.11g AirPort Express Base Station currently sells for $99.

Update: The 802.11n AirPort Express has been officially released for $99, and appears to be cosmetically and functionally identical to its predecessor except for the addition of 802.11n support.

Update 2: Unpacking photos of the 802.11n AirPort Express have been posted to Backstage.

Apple sued over iTunes, iPod technology

ZapMedia Services has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple over iTunes and its related media players such as the iPod. According to ZapMedia, the suit comes after multiple attempts to resolve its concerns with Apple, including offering Zap’s patents for license. In question are U.S. Patent Numbers 7,020,704 and 7,343,414, each of which is entitled “System and method for distributing media assets to user devices via a portal synchronized by said user devices.” The suit was filed in the Marshall Division of the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. “The Complaint alleges that ZapMedia Services’ property is being exploited in a manner which is unlawful, and by law ZapMedia Services is therefore entitled to a reasonable royalty on Apple’s revenues related to the infringement,” said Steven G. Hill, of Hill, Kertscher & Wharton, LLP, lead litigation counsel to ZapMedia Services. Robert J. Frohwein, general counsel of ZapMedia Services, said, “When someone takes our vision and our intellectual property without a license after several attempts, we have no option but to protect it through every means available to us.”

Apple yet to order NAND flash in 2008?

Apple has yet to begin making large procurements of NAND flash memory in 2008, according to a DigiTimes report. Citing sources at Taiwan memory makers, the article states that Apple bought $1.2-1.3 billion worth of NAND flash over a short time period in 2007, resulting in a rapid price fluctuation in the components. Due to the lack of major orders from Apple, the article suggests, current pricing on multi-level cell NAND flash is below cost, with little seen on the horizon to push prices upward. Apple currently uses MLC NAND memory in all flash-based iPods and iPhones. [via Electronista]

Fortune interviews Jobs on iPod, iPhone, Apple TV

Fortune has published a series of excerpts from an interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, covering a broad range of topics including the iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV. Worth reading in their entirety, the excerpts include several interesting details on each of Apple’s major initiatives, such as:

iPod. Before the iPod, Jobs explained, slow Mac sales had led Apple to a crisis of confidence; the company had to “wonder sometimes whether [we were] wrong,” said Jobs. “Maybe our stuff isn’t better, although we thought it was. Or maybe people don’t care, which is even more depressing.” Strong iPod sales were “a great shot in the arm for everybody.”

iPhone. After an extended period of living with the originally designed enclosure for the iPhone, Jobs concluded that he didn’t “love” the shell, an emotion that he would need to feel for what he believed was the company’s most important release ever. “[W]e pushed the reset button. We went through all of the zillions of models we’d made and ideas we’d had.” And, with too little time remaining before the device’s announcement, he challenged the designers to do better, quickly. “It was hell because we had to go to the team and say, ‘All this work you’ve [done] for the last year, we’re going to have to throw it away and start over, and we’re going to have to work twice as hard now because we don’t have enough time.’ “

Apple TV. Jobs suggests that the original version of Apple TV failed because people didn’t really want to send iTunes content from a Mac or PC to a widescreen TV; they wanted, he says, to watch movies—the reason the company negotiated with Hollywood studios for rentals, and dropped the starting price to $229. “Will this resonate and be something that you just can’t live without and love? We’ll see. I think it’s got a shot.”

Control. Being able to write and control software is, Jobs explained, the key to the company’s current and future product plans. “[W]e didn’t want to get into any business where we didn’t own or control the primary technology because you’ll get your head handed to you.”

On PDAs. Despite years of pressure to release a Newton-like PDA, Jobs said that the company was smarter not to release such a product. “I realized one day that 90% of the people who use a PDA only take information out of it on the road. They don’t put information into it. Pretty soon cellphones are going to do that, so the PDA market’s going to get reduced to a fraction of its current size, and it won’t really be sustainable.” Instead, Jobs said, the company put its efforts and resources into the iPod.

Apple ‘on track’ for 10 million iPhones in 2008

  • February 28, 2008
  • Apple,

During an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Investment Symposium, Apple COO Tim Cook spoke about the iPod and iPhone, and calmed investors by stating that the company is on track for its goal of ten million units sold by the end of the year. “We are right on track for where we want to be,” Cook said. “The four million units we’ve sold over the first 200 days gives us confidence that we can achieve ten million units in 2008.” Describing the iPhone as more of a platform than a device, Cook said that post-SDK, developers would “only be limited by [their] imagination.” Cook also defended Apple’s decision to go with an exclusive carrier, revenue-sharing model for the initial iPhone rollouts, but added that the company is “not married to any business model.”

Regarding iPods, the Apple executive said that weaker-than-expected fourth quarter iPod unit sales numbers might be attributable to the iPod shuffle, which fell 17 percent year-over-year in unit sales globally, and even more than that in the US. Cook said that Apple wasn’t seeing signs of iPod market saturation, adding that 40 percent of iPods sold last quarter were purchased by first-time iPod owners. Finally, Cook admitted that although the iPod touch might have cannibalized some iPhone sales, he’d rather Apple cannibalize Apple than an outsider, adding that the launch was “very successful.” An audio webcast of the event is available from apple.com/investor.

Analyst: iPod, iPhone no longer ‘growth drivers’ for Apple

  • February 26, 2008
  • Apple,

Keith Bachman, analyst with BMO Capital Markets, has cut his price target for Apple’s stock, saying that iPods and iPhones were no longer “growth drivers” for the company. “Apple’s three growth drivers [iPods, iPhones and Macs] has now turned to one,” Bachman said in an analyst note. Bachman went on to say that the Mac will begin to take on more importance because the iPhone is not likely to experience growth on the scale of what the company has projected for this year. He also pointed out that the iPod is starting to show signs of market saturation, leading to slower growth rates for the device. Despite the somewhat gloomy predictions, Bachman maintained his outperform rating on Apple’s stock, noting that “more carriers and lower handset [prices]” could improve the iPhone’s prospects. Bachman reduced his forecast for iPhone sales in fiscal 2008 from 9.3 million to 7.7 million units, and also reduced his iPod sales forecast for the same period, from 54.6 million to 51.1 million units.

Apple issues Cease and Desist to DRM-stripping devs

  • February 25, 2008
  • Apple,

Apple’s legal team has issued a Cease & Desist letter to the developers of the Hymn Project, software that allows users to strip the FairPlay DRM from files purchased from the iTunes Store. A post in the Hymn Project forums says that the letter demanded that all downloads be removed from the site. The post continues: “Until further notice, no links are to be posted anywhere on the site to programs that can strip DRM from any of Apple’s music or videos. Any user who does so will get the link removed and a warning from us. Any further infraction will get you banned permanently. The site will remain open for now and we won’t have a problem as long as we abide by the C&D.” In addition to the C&D sent out to the main developers, at least one individual user has also received a letter from Apple, following the user announcing publicly that he would offer a version of the DRM-stripping software to interested parties via email.

Apple launches mail-in iPod, cell phone recycling

  • February 25, 2008
  • Apple,

Apple today unveiled a new by-mail iPod and cell phone recycling program that enables consumers to safely dispose of their cell phones, regardless of the manufacturer or model. Phones and iPods can be recycled in any quantity, through the mail, a program that appears to be separate from Apple’s in-store iPod recycling initiative, which allows users to bring iPods (not cell phones) directly to a local Apple Store, and receive a 10% discount on any iPod purchased that day. To participate in the new mail-in program, users need to visit a dedicated page on Apple’s site that allows them to enter the quantity of items being recycled, fill out an address form, and choose whether to print out a pre-paid shipping label to affix to their own packaging, or have Apple send them a pre-paid mailer, both free of charge. No discount is offered for items mailed in for recycling.

iSuppli: Apple ‘significantly’ lowered 2008 NAND forecast

  • February 21, 2008
  • Apple,

Apple has lowered its 2008 NAND flash memory order forecast, a new report indicates. According to iSuppli, the company “has slashed its 2008 NAND order forecast significantly and has informed suppliers that its demand growth will slow in 2008 compared to 2007.” The reports states that this is expected to have a large impact on the NAND market overall, as Apple was the world’s third largest OEM buyer of NAND memory in 2007, with purchases of $1.2 billion, which represents 13.1 percent of the global market. Apple currently uses NAND flash memory in most of its portable consumer devices, including the iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod touch, and the iPhone. Prior to learning of Apple’s lowered forecast, iSuppli had predicted that the company’s NAND purchases would rise 32.2 percent this year, helping to encourage significant market growth.

Apple television ads driving online searches

  • February 14, 2008
  • Apple,

A new report suggests that Apple’s catchy TV advertisements for the iPod nano, iPod touch, and iPhone are having a ripple effect on online searches. According to the latest numbers from Compete, U.S. consumers made nearly 1 million queries for iPod related commercials or the underlying music from August 2007 to January 2008. 15 of the top 20 searches contained the word “song” or “music,” suggesting that many consumers are searching for the song in the commercial, as very little information is given about the songs and artists featured in Apple’s spots. In particular, research shows that over 425,000 people were actively searching in September for the song used in Apple’s popular spot for the iPod nano, Feist’s “1-2-3-4.” Traffic for the song’s music video on YouTube grew 1200% from the month prior to the commercial’s launch, and over 45 times when views of the actual commercial were included. Similar growth was seen for CSS’ “Music is my hot hot sex,” featured in a user-inspired iPod touch ad, and for Yael Naim’s “New Soul,” which is featured in Apple’s recent commercial for the MacBook Air.

In a separate interview with the BBC, Canadian singer Leslie Feist admitted to being pleasantly surprised with the impact the iPod nano advertisement has had on career. “I felt a definite shift, it seemed to pique a lot of curiosity which luckily led back to an album and video that I believe in. It just shows you the power of that kind of thing, as opposed to some preconceived marketing ploy,” she said. “I was a little naive as to the impact it would have because I really didn’t have any idea it would be like that. But it did me nothing but favours because I’ve continued doing what I do, but with so many new open ears from so many more people than there were before.”

Apple launches Corporate Gifting and Rewards Program

  • February 13, 2008
  • Apple,

Apple has launched its Corporate Gifting and Rewards Program, which enables large businesses and corporations to easily make bulk orders of iPods, iTunes Gift Cards, iPod accessories, and certain models of Mac computers. The new program page states that the company is offering “special pricing on volume orders.” The minimum for iPod orders is 50 units, with a minimum of 250 units for iPods pre-loaded with content, which may include “training talks, product overviews, CEO speeches, promotional videos, or other custom content.” The program will also include points programs for customers to earn points towards iPods and gift cards. To participate in the offer, interested parties need to either contact Apple by phone, or submit their contact information via online form. [via Ars Technica]

Apple applies for gaming device trademark

  • February 11, 2008
  • Apple,

Apple has filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking trademark protection in relation to a variety of gaming products. On the application, Apple requests protection of its “Apple” trademark for products that include “Toys, games and playthings, namely, hand-held units for playing electronic games; hand-held units for playing video games; stand alone video game machines; electronic games other than those adapted for use with television receivers only; LCD game machines; electronic educational game machines; toys, namely battery-powered computer games.” Apple currently sells iPod games through the iTunes Store, several of which were developed internally by the company.

Notes from Q1 2008 Apple Conference Call

  • January 22, 2008
  • Apple,

During Apple’s Financial Results Conference Call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Apple COO Tim Cook made several comments concerning its music-related products, which accounted for 50% of the company’s total revenue in the first fiscal quarter. The average sale price of the iPod during the quarter was $181, up 17 percent year-over-year, largely due to the launch of the iPod touch, which the execs enthusiastically described as a success. More specifically, the iPod touch was described as a product that “has the potential to grow the iPod beyond being just a music player, into the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform for all kinds of new mobile applications.” Although iPod unit sales were flat year-over-year in the U.S., the company saw the highest revenue growth for iPod in a year, thanks to the iPod touch, which was also a “big hit” in Japan. iPod market share was roughly flat compared with a year ago according to numbers from NPD, but was up internationally.

The Apple TV and iPhone accounted for $1.44 billion in deferred revenue, and total iPhone revenue booked during the quarter came to $241 million. Apple said that although it saw no evidence of the iPhone cannibalizing iPod sales in the UK, France, or Germany, it did admit that the phone “could have been a factor” in the relatively small year-over-year iPod unit growth in the U.S. Additionally, it said that a “significant” amount of iPhones were sold during the quarter with the intent to unlock, but that it doesn’t have a precise number, and considers it “indicative of very strong interest in iPhone globally.” Finally, the company reiterated its intentions to expand the iPhone to more European markets and to Asia in 2008, and that it remains “very confident” in its ability to hit the goal of 10 million iPhones sold by the end of 2008.

Apple sells more than 22 million iPods during Q1

  • January 22, 2008
  • Apple,

Reporting its first quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold 22.1 million iPods during the holiday quarter — a 5 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year, and a new single-quarter record for iPod sales. It also sold 2.315 million iPhones in the quarter, bringing the total number of units sold up to around 3.7 million. The company posted revenue of $9.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.58 billion, or $1.76 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $7.1 billion and net quarterly profit of $1 billion, or $1.14 per diluted share in Q1 2007. These results best analysts’ predictions, which called for revenue of $9.5 billion and earnings of $1.5 billion, or $1.62 per share. Sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 27% over the year-ago quarter, and up 34% from Q4 2007, to $808 million total. That category includes iTunes Store sales, iPod services, and revenues from Apple and third-party iPod accessories.

“We’re thrilled to report our best quarter ever, with the highest revenue and earnings in Apple’s history,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We have an incredibly strong new product pipeline for 2008, starting with MacBook Air, Mac Pro and iTunes Movie Rentals in the first two weeks.”

“Apple’s revenue grew 35 percent year-over-year to $9.6 billion, an increase of almost $2.5 billion over the previous December quarter’s record-breaking results,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Our strong results produced cash flow from operations of over $2.7 billion during the quarter, yielding an ending cash balance of over $18.4 billion. Looking ahead to the second quarter of fiscal 2008, we expect revenue of about $6.8 billion and earnings per diluted share of about $.94.”

 

Full transcript of Apple’s ‘08 Keynote Address

  • January 16, 2008
  • Apple,

Continue reading a full play-by-play transcript of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address from the 2008 Macworld Conference and Expo. Most of the announcements found in this transcript are explained in further detail in separate news articles; photos from the event can be found here.

Complete Macworld Expo iPod/iPhone exhibitor guide posted

  • January 15, 2008
  • Apple,

You asked, we delivered. Our massive guide to what’s new at Macworld Expo, and what was shown at CES now covers announcements from over 75 different vendors, after 10 major updates. Be sure to check out the article to see what’s coming soon for the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes; we’ll be updating it throughout the show.

Massive MWSF08 Flickr photoset posted, more coming

  • January 15, 2008
  • Apple,

We’ve spent the entire morning and afternoon adding a massive collection of Macworld Expo show photos to our Flickr account for your enjoyment. You can currently see pictures from all across the show floor, including new hardware and software from major iPod, iPhone, Mac, and iTunes vendors; new pictures are constantly being added, so keep checking.

 

Apple TV 2.0, iPod touch, iPhone 1.1.3 videos posted, details

  • January 15, 2008
  • Apple,

We’ve just posted videos of the Apple TV 2.0 software, iPod touch, and iPhone 1.1.3 software to our YouTube account. They’re now available for viewing. Enjoy!

Apple TV: The biggest changes of the day were reserved for the Apple TV, which saw a comprehensive interface overhaul with movie rentals, movie and music purchasing, Flickr photo browsing, and new iTunes Store search features for all forms of media, including podcasting. The software is officially labelled version 2.0, and will be available in two weeks. In our quick tests on the show floor, everything worked as expected, though the new dual-pane menu interface requires a bit more thought to navigate than the prior Apple TV 1.0 menu system. Apple has also streamlined the device’s settings into multiple contextual menus, and added a few little settings that can be seen in our video, such as new photo transitions, expanded parental controls, and new HDMI output modes.

iPhone: All of the new iPhone 1.1.3 features described in our news story, and previously leaked, work as expected. Location finder on Google Maps pinpoints your current location within a roughly one block or so radius—at least in our quick show floor test—and hybrid view overlaps satellite and drawn road maps on top of each other. Webclip enables extremely easy web page bookmark addition to the iPhone’s main page, and the icon rearrangement feature works exactly as expected—hitting the Home button stops the icons from wiggling and being dragged.

iPod touch: Apple representatives on the show floor have confirmed that pre-MWSF08 iPod touch owners who are looking to add the iPhone applications Mail, Stocks, Weather, Notes, and Maps will be paying the $20 fee regardless of whether they recently purchased the touch, or bought it on day one. Those who have purchased in the past 14 days have the option to return and repurchase the touch from a retail Apple Store, however, the 10% restocking fee will apply, costing a minimum of $29.90 for the touch. Our attempt at testing the location finder feature of Maps did not work on the iPod touch, though it worked properly on the iPhone. Otherwise, the new features worked the same on the iPhone as they did on the touch. These applications are not part of the iPod touch 1.1.3 update currently available through iTunes.

 

Live from MWSF08, starting 9AM PT today [updated x2]

  • January 14, 2008
  • Apple,

Updated! iLounge’s editors have arrived in San Francisco, California to provide live coverage of the 2008 Macworld Expo, which kicks off Tuesday morning at 9:00AM Pacific Time with a keynote speech from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The Expo, which traditionally sees the introduction of new Apple and third-party hardware and software, is expected to include substantial upgrades to iTunes, the iPhone, and Apple TV, and other Apple wireless products, as well as a number of new third-party accessory announcements.

 

image

Visit the iLounge.com homepage for our live coverage starting at 9AM; we will have a special page set up to handle live keynote coverage, and will be updating very frequently throughout the Expo.

New: Follow the keynote on our Flickr pages. Pictures are already being posted!

Apple ‘something in the air’ banners spotted

  • January 11, 2008
  • Apple,

Work crews have begun preparing the Moscone Center for next week’s Macworld Conference and Expo, and as is traditionally the case, pictures of the banners hung inside the complex have made their way online. A number of the banners read, “2008. There’s something in the air.” This text is printed on a black background, and in a lighter font weight than Apple traditionally uses for its marketing materials, adding an “airy” quality to the signage. Although no product image or name appears on the banners, the phrase does suggest that Apple will make wireless technology a major theme of the show, and will introduce new wireless products and/or software next week.

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