Apple has become the target of yet another patent infringement lawsuit over the iPhone. The Loop reports that California-based NetAirus Technologies has filed a patent infringement suit against the iPhone-maker, claiming that the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS infringe on NetAirus’ patent for a “Wireless Handset Communication System.” The suit claims that the entire concept behind the iPhone is infringing, instead of focusing on one or more of the device’s attributes. The patent in question describes a “small light weight modular microcomputer based computer and communications systems, designed for both portability and desktop uses,” featuring several functions similar to the iPhone’s, including “bi-directional realtime communications of voice, audio, text, graphics and video data,” a “telephone-like handset,” and a “relative large flat panel display device assembly.” NetAirus is seeking a ruling that forces Apple to halt production of the iPhone, as well as cash damages.
Apple may be facing an antitrust inquiry over the company’s recent decision to ban apps made with cross-platform development tools from the App Store. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the New York Post reports that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are in negotiations over which body will oversee the inquiry into Apple’s policy, with the decision only “days away.” According to the report, the inquiry will focus on whether or not the policy stifles competition by forcing developers to choose between building apps that only run on iPhone OS devices or apps that are able to run on a variety of competing operating systems, including those from Google, Microsoft, and Research In Motion. The report also points out that the launch of an inquiry does not mean action will be taken against Apple, instead serving to determine whether a full-scale investigation will be needed; Apple could be subpoenaed for further information should an investigation be necessary.
Apple has announced that it sold its one millionth iPad on Friday, 28 days after the device’s introduction on April 3. In addition to unit purchases, iPad users have already downloaded over 12 million apps from the App Store and over 1.5 million ebooks from the iBookstore. Notably, the announcement also reveals that there are now over 5,000 apps for the iPad in the App Store. “One million iPads in 28 days—that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Demand continues to exceed supply and we’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.”
Apple has posted a new support document detailing the process for setting up a cellular data account on the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G. According to the document, users simply tap a “View Account” options within a new Cellular Data menu inside the Settings app to get started. Users will then be prompted to enter their information, including first and last name, telephone number, email address and a password for the new AT&T account, and billing information, select a data plan. A Terms of Service page will then be displayed, and once accepted, a payment summary screen appears for final confirmation. Once submitted, a congratulations screen appears, followed by a pop-up notification once the connection has been activated. The page notes that the process is managed by AT&T, and users should contact AT&T if they have have questions, concerns, or problems.
Apple has updated its individual retail store web pages to indicate that its U.S.-based stores will be closed later today from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time to prepare for the launch of the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G, which will go on sale when the stores reopen at 5:00 p.m. Unlike the launch of the iPad with Wi-Fi, no advance reservations were taken for the Wi-Fi + 3G models, so purchasing will most likely be done on a first-come, first-served basis. Checks with several Apple Store locations around the country conducted by iLounge showed that stores are expecting “big” crowds for the launch.
Apple has passed Motorola to become the largest cell phone maker in the United States by unit volume. Reporting its first quarter fiscal results, Motorola revealed that it sold 8.5 million phones in the quarter, less than the 8.75 million iPhones sold by Apple over the same period. Motorola’s numbers have fallen greatly from the 46.1 million phones it sold in the first quarter of 2006 when the company’s RAZR was still popular. The company has more recently been focusing its efforts on the smartphone market, where the company’s Droid handset, which runs Google’s Android operating system, has served as the basis for an ongoing anti-iPhone Verizon ad campaign.
Lala.com, the music streaming service Apple purchased last December, will be shutting down on May 31. Around the time of Apple’s acquisition, it was said the company wanted to use Lala’s technology and streaming expertise to offer a streaming service on iTunes in addition to the its normal purchase and download model. According to the site, Lala users will receive iTunes credit for all money spent purchasing web songs, wallet balances, and unredeemed gift cards. Lala launched in June 2006 as a CD trading service before re-focusing on digital music uploads and streaming the next year. [via Engadget]
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” in which he explains the company’s motivation for leaving Adobe’s Flash off of its iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. Jobs divides his explanation into six key factors, including Flash’s proprietary nature, the fact that the vast majority of web video is now accessible without Flash, reliability, security, and performance issues, battery life concerns, Flash’s reliance on mouse-dependent interface elements, and the fact that Adobe wants to allow its developers to use Flash for creating cross-platform applications that will run on Apple’s platform, as well as on competitors’ devices, without exploiting any platform’s unique and innovative features. The crux of the letter is an attack on Flash as a battery-hogging middleware solution that is no longer necessary or desirable in an age of advanced mobile devices.
Jobs makes several scathing comments in the letter, claiming that Flash is the leading cause of Mac crashes, that Adobe was the slowest major third-party developer to adopt important changes to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, and that the company has promised but repeatedly failed to deliver an optimized mobile version of Flash. The letter also sheds new light on Apple’s App Store business, including the statement that “[t]here are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world,” and noting that there are now more than 200,000 apps available in the App Store. In closing, Jobs says, “[n]ew open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”
Apple plans to charge close to $1 million for ads on its new iAd network, according to a new report. Citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has indicated it may charge as much as $10 million to be part of the initial group of advertisers on the service. Ad executives told the paper they are used to paying between $100,000 and $200,000 for similar mobile deals. Along with the lofty price tag, Apple is also making demands for greater control over advertisers’ marketing campaigns, at least initially. “It’s a hefty sum,” said Phuc Truong, managing director at Mobext, a mobile marketing business whose clients include Sears, Choice Hotels, Amtrak and Volvo. “What Apple is trying to do is certainly above and beyond what’s been done in the past.”
Despite the pricing, ad executives at agencies across the U.S. have met with Apple in recent weeks to listen to the company’s pitch for iAd. Discussions over possible deals are said to be ongoing, but several ad executives said they are beginning to look at potential creative ideas for iAd campaigns. “It was very easy to think about the several minutes of interaction time consumers can spend with the ad. It’s incredibly attractive,” said Baba Shetty, chief media officer at Boston-based ad agency Hill Holiday. Apple’s demands for creative approval, and that it build the ads itself during the first few months, are giving some agencies pause, however. “As a creative director, I can completely understand that they created this new baby and they want to make sure it gets born looking gorgeous,” said Lars Bastholm, chief digital creative officer at WPP’s Ogilvy. “But as a creative director, I don’t feel completely comfortable letting Apple do the creative.” According to the report, marketers will be able to target ads to users based on past download preferences from the iTunes Store, and by location; Apple is planning to charge one cent each time a consumer sees a banner ad, with a $2 charge if the user taps on the banner.
Apple has acquired the voice-based personal assistance and search service Siri, according to a newly-published FTC document (PDF Link). Business Insider reports that a Siri representative has confirmed the purchase, but would not comment on the financial aspects of the deal. Siri describes itself as a voice-based personal assistant, that can “help you find and plan things to do,” such as finding a dinner spot, telling you what’s playing at a local music venue, or getting tickets to a movie. The company describes the service as “young” and says it “may be awkward at times,” but also says it “will improve quickly by getting to know you better and understanding a broader set of tasks.” The current version service, which is currently only available in the U.S., is built to run on the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch. The Siri Assistant app is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs will give an on-stage, opening night interview to kick off this year’s D: All Things Digital Conference. In its eighth year, the Wall Street Journal executive conference will be held near Los Angeles, CA from June 1-3. Jobs has appeared at the conference before, most notably in 2007 when he took the stage with Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates, as well as interviewers Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, to discuss their long history in, and the future of, the technology industry. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Oscar-winning director James Cameron, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, among others, are also scheduled to appear.
Apple has announced the dates for its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference. This year’s event will be held June 7-11, in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA. As with last year’s event, Apple will be providing sessions focusing on both Mac OS X and iPhone OS X, as well as web app development; although this year’s sessions appear to be more heavily focused on iPhone OS development than in previous years. For the past three years, the company has also 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.
“This year’s WWDC offers developers in-depth sessions and hands-on working labs to learn more about iPhone OS 4, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” said Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software. “WWDC provides a unique opportunity for developers to work side-by-side with Apple engineers and interface designers to make their iPhone and iPad apps even better.”
Following reports from earlier this month suggesting Apple had acquired ARM processor development company Intrinsity, the New York Times has been able to confirm the deal, which according to the report may have been worth as much as $121 million, with Apple. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we do not comment on our purpose or plans,” said Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling. Austin, TX-based Intrinsity gained publicity for its efforts to speed up ARM CPU designs, including working with Samsung to introduce the 1GHz Hummingbird processor last July. According to the report, “many experts” in the chip industry believe that Apple relied upon Intrinsity’s Hummingbird chip as the basis for the iPad’s A4 processor.
Apple has released iTunes 9.1.1, the latest update to its digital media management software. According to Apple’s release notes, version 9.1.1 addresses several stability issues with VoiceOver, a usability issue with VoiceOver and Genius Mixes, issues with converting songs to 128 kbps while syncing, and “other issues that improve stability and performance.” iTunes 9.1.1 is available now via Apple’s Software Update utility, and will be available as a direct download from apple.com/itunes shortly.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced that it will be launching an investigation into a patent infringement claim against Apple filed by Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics late last month. 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 at the time of the filing. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan is requesting that the ITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order, which would block Apple from importing infringing products and from selling its current stock; the company filed a lawsuit against Apple in April 2009 over the same alleged infringement.
Apple has hired long-time IGN editor Matt Casamassina to help manage the App Store’s games section. Casamassina worked at IGN for over a decade, focusing primarily on Nintendo; his official title at Apple will be global editorial games manager, App Store. “I will be leading the charge for games on the App Store, so whether you browse through iTunes, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, the games content you see will be handpicked and organized by me and my team[,]” Casamassina wrote in a post on his personal blog, adding, “I couldn’t be happier.” Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime recently made some disparaging remarks about gaming on iPhone OS devices, saying that Apple “is not having an impact on Nintendo when you look at our business, our volume, our hardware, our software,” later adding that the iPhone isn’t a “viable profit platform” due to the ratio of free to paid downloads.
Police are investigating possible criminal law violations related to the lost fourth-generation iPhone prototype that appeared online earlier this week. Citing an unnamed law enforcement official, Cnet reports that Apple has spoken to local police about the incident, with the investigation being handled by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. The phone in question was lost by an Apple engineer at a bar in Redwood City, CA, and was recovered by an unknown party that subsequently sold the unit to Gizmodo for a reported $5,000 bounty. Gizmodo photographed and disassembled the device, posting photos of it online and claiming it was “lost.” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has argued that both the seller and the editors of Gizmodo may be guilty of crimes related to the incident under California law; Cnet has yet to confirm whether the police probe is targeting the seller, Gizmodo, or both parties.
A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a system for wireless transportation ticketing and check-in. Entitled “System and method for transportation check-in,” the patent refers to a travel management application called “iTravel” which would allow the users to purchase, store, and use travel documents. The patent goes on to show the application being used on an iPhone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, such as RFID, which then interacts with similarly-equipped electronics throughout the travel process, such as at check-in, security checkpoints, and when boarding. 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. [via Patently Apple]
Apple has started sending out emails to a select group of current iPad owners asking them to “please complete [a] 15-minute iPad survey” to help the company understand their purchase. Business Insider reports that survey is over 50 questions long, and attempts to discover whether or not iPad owners are still using iPods, eReaders, and laptops following their purchase. Questions include where the iPad was purchased, how the user first heard about the iPad, what types of questions they had before purchasing the iPad, their satisfaction with various features of the device, where they intend to use the device, in what rooms at home do they use the iPad, and who else uses the iPad they purchased.
Following a pair of new television advertisements for the iPhone 3GS that were posted earlier this week, Apple has added a third new spot to its online gallery. “Family Man” continues the recent trend of personal, testimonial-style narration, and describes how different members of the family use the patriarch’s iPhone for various purposes. This latest iPhone 3GS TV ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.