Apple plans to include near field communication (NFC) technology in its next versions of the iPhone and iPad in order to support a new mobile payment system, according to a new report. Citing Richard Crone, leader of financial industry adviser Crone Consulting, and Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group who claims to have spoken with Apple engineers working on the project, Bloomberg reports that Apple’s system may be able to tap into existing user information, such as credit card numbers, iTunes account balances, and bank data. “It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said. According to Doherty, Apple could launch the mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, and has already created a prototype payment terminal that would allow small businesses to accept payment from NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. He added that Apple is considering offering heavy subsidies on the terminal, or even giving it away, in order to encourage faster adoption. Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, a veteran of NFC development, as its new product manager for mobile commerce last August.
U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Paul Luckern said yesterday that Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry devices do not violate a Kodak patent covering a common image preview feature. BusinessWeek reports that while Luckern’s preliminary findings are a setback for Kodak, they are still subject to review by the six-member commission, which has the power to overturn the ruling and ultimately block imports of iPhone and BlackBerry devices that contain cameras. Kodak first sued Apple and RIM in January 2010, alongside filing the aforementioned ITC complaint, prompting Apple to launch a countersuit and ITC complaint of its own against Kodak, claiming patent infringement.
Apple has launched an official Twitter account for the App Store, its latest iTunes-related Twitter account. According to the description on the account, it will provide featured apps, exclusive offers, and more. As of this writing, the verified account has nearly 90,000 followers, and has seen four updates—one an introductory statement, and three pointing to specific apps. Notably, the account is taking advantage of Apple’s appstore.com domain name, using tw.appstore.com as a URL shortener.
Apple has hired security expert David Rice to be its new director of global security, according to a new report. Citing multiple unnamed sources, AllThingsD reports that Rice is expected to start at Apple in March; it’s currently unknown exactly what his role will entail. The report describes Rice as a well-respected name in the IT security community, and says he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, received a master’s degree in Information Warfare and Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and spent time as both a Global Network Vulnerability analyst for the National Security Agency and a Special Duty Cryptologic officer for the Navy before authoring the 2007 book Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software.
As expected, Apple’s 10 Billion App Countdown ended early in the morning of Saturday, January 22, 2011 with the download of the 10 billionth application from the App Store. One winner is being selected to receive a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card as the sole prize for reaching the milestone, and Apple is expected to name the individual and app in the near future.
Update: The winning app was Paper Glider, downloaded by Gail Davis of Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom. Congratulations, Gail!
According to the counter graphics on Apple’s 10 Billion App Countdown webpage and the App Store, the promotion is nearing its end. Launched on January 14, the promotion is offering a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card to the person who downloads the ten billionth app from the App Store, or submits a free entry form at the right time. Currently, the counter sits at roughly 9,984,000, up from 9,975,000 earlier today. While estimates using the average number of downloads per minute during the promotion have indicated that the 10 billionth download should occur sometime tomorrow afternoon, the pace of downloads in past promotions has typically accelerated as the total approached the relevant amount, making it possible that the download could occur late tonight or early tomorrow morning. For more information on Apple’s 10 billion App Countdown, see Apple’s official rules.
Apple is now selling updated Bumper cases, offering compatibility with both the GSM and CDMA variants of the iPhone 4, according to a new YouTube video. The video, posted by YouTube user Alerio, shows that Apple has reversed the colors on the packaging—going from predominantly grey to predominantly white for the white model—and has subsequently removed the foil from the Apple logo and iPhone 4 print on the paper backing. As for the case itself, it appears that the volume buttons have stayed in nearly the same position, while the hole for the ring/silent switch has been tweaked and elongated to accomodate for the lower position of the switch on the CDMA model. While it is of little consequence to GSM iPhone 4 owners, users looking to purchase a case compatible with the CDMA model will want to double-check to make sure their Bumper has the new packaging, and thus the larger side opening. [via 9 to 5 Mac]
In a surprise move, Google today announced that its CEO Eric Schmidt will step down from his post April 4th, and will be replaced in the role by company co-founder Larry Page. Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman for the company, focusing on “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership.” Google is a strategic partner of Apple’s on several fronts, providing the backends for Apple’s iOS Maps and YouTube applications, as well as serving as the default search engine for its Safari browser. The two companies have become fierce competitors in recent years, however, due to Google’s Android smartphone OS, which is locked in a battle with Apple’s iPhone for control of the global smartphone market, and Apple has taken steps to distance itself from dependence on Google’s services.
Notably, a report from last year indicated that Google co-founders Page and Sergey Brin were disappointed with the way the company’s relationship had soured under Schmidt’s leadership, and considered Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs a “role model” as they grew into technology executives. An anecdote from an episode of Bloomberg’s “Game Changers” went so far as to say that the pair wanted to hire Jobs as Google’s CEO during the company’s early years. Schmidt served on Apple’s board of directors from 2006 to 2009, when he resigned from the board due to “potential conflicts of interest,” explained to be iOS- and iPhone-related.
Update: Eric Schmidt has posted an open letter explaining the management changes.
Apple is beginning to use specialized screws to seal the outside case of the iPhone 4, according to a new report. Arguing that the move represents an effort by Apple to keep users from being able to repair their own phones, iFixIt reports that Apple is using a new five-point “Pentalobe” screw, for which there are no readily available screwdrivers. According to the report, Apple has used three different sizes of the screw, first using it to secure the battery of the mid-2009 MacBook Pro, then using an extremely small variant on some iPhone 4 units, and employing yet another size to lock users out of the new MacBook Air. In addition, the report claims that should a user bring in for repair an iPhone 4 with standard Phillips screws on the exterior, Apple will replace them with the new, tamper-resistant Pentalobe screws without notifying the customer of the change. As a remedy, iFixIt is offering a $10 “iPhone 4 Liberation Kit,” which includes a five-point screwdriver—good for removing the Pentalobe screws but not recommended for repeated use—along with two Phillips replacement screws and a #00 Phillips screwdriver for future servicing.
Apple has released the second beta version of iOS 4.3 to its paid developers. Listed as build number 8F5153d, it is unclear what has changed in the new version from the first, which brought AirPlay functionality to Safari and third-party apps, the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature, an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch, and new four- and five-finger gestures for the iPad. Notably, documentation released alongside the new beta indicates that the aforementioned gestures will not be part of iOS 4.3’s public release, but are instead included in order to gain developer feedback, and the release is accompanied by a new preview build of Apple TV Software 4.3. Separate versions of iOS 4.3 beta 2 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.
For more information on iOS 4.3, see our Full Breakdown article.
Apple has filed yet another lawsuit against Espoo, Finland-based Nokia, according to Bloomberg. The new suit, filed in the High Court in London, alleges that one of Nokia’s European patents for scrolling technology on a touchscreen device is invalid. Nokia has filed multiple suits against Apple in Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, claiming infringement on some 37 patents. “Nokia is confident that all of the 37 patents it has asserted against Apple” are valid, Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant told Bloomberg. “We are examining the filing and will take whatever actions are needed to protect our rights.” The legal battle between the two companies dates back to October 2009, and also includes a countersuit against Nokia filed by Apple in the U.S., as well as opposing complaints filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
During Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, Apple COO Tim Cook made several statements that suggest the company sees display technology as a potential component investment for the future. When asked about Apple’s long-term investments on components, Cook mentioned the company’s prior $1 billion flash memory investment as something that was important across the product line, and added that the company has identified a similarly important area in recent quarters. Cook said that the company has come into pre-payment agreements in this new area for parts, equipment, and tooling in hopes of achieving a specific competitive advantage. While Cook didn’t directly mention it, separate reports from the same week in December claimed that Apple was expected to supply a portion of the investments required for a new Toshiba LCD plant and Sharp LCD production line, respectively. Both reports specifically mentioned that as a result of Apple’s investment, the new factory and new production line were expected to produce displays primarily for the Cupertino-based company. Given Apple’s reliance on touchscreen technology in its iOS devices, it seems likely that these were the agreements to which Cook was referring during the call.
Update: The investment is worth $3.9 billion dollars over two years, and involves three vendors. Apple made pre-payments of $650 million during the last quarter, and expects to make $1.05 billion in payments during the March quarter.
Reporting its first quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold 19.45 million iPods during the holiday quarter — a seven percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Despite the drop in unit sales, revenue from iPod sales actually increased one percent year-over-year, to $3.425 billion. Apple also sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, an 86 percent increase year-over-year, and up from 14.1 million units in the prior quarter. Apple also sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter, up from 4.19 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010. The units sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 89.9 million, 298 million, and 14.79 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $26.74 billion and net quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share, representing all-time revenue and profit highs, compared with revenue of $15.68 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share in Q1 2010. Sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 23% over the year-ago quarter, and up 15% from Q4 2010, to $1.431 billion total. That category includes iTunes Store sales, iPod services, and revenues from Apple and third-party iPod accessories. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue, up from 58 percent in the year-ago quarter.
“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”
“We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our business, generating $9.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $22 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $4.90.”
We’ll be providing live play-by-play coverage of Apple’s first-quarter 2011 financial results conference call today, expected to feature Apple COO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer discussing gangbuster results from October through December 31, 2010. Key points from the call include the revelation that the company has signed a new, multi-year, non-exclusivity deal with AT&T (5:35PM), the fact that over 160 million iOS devices have been sold—meaning that 55 iPod touch units have been sold (5:08PM), that the ASP of the iPhone is expected to hold steady next quarter despite the recent price drop on the iPhone 3GS, suggesting that interest in the iPhone 4 far exceeds that of the 3GS (5:35PM), and that the company targeted the Chinese market as a growth opportunity, and has seen revenue from that region jump 4x from the prior quarter (5:18PM). Continue reading to see more information about these and a host of other topics.
This story will be updated in reverse chronological order as the call proceeds starting at 5:00PM ET/2:00PM PT; refresh it for regular updates.
6:01PM: End of call.
5:58PM: Q: Consumerization of enterprise technology is taking place; are there still barriers to developer training at corporate level or other issues to work through to get more penetration in enterprise? A: It’s a megatrend that’s occurring, most forward-looking CIOs are realizing that enabling creativity of employees is materially more important than everyone using the same thing. Ability to write apps easily for a phone is incredibly powerful, you can run an entire business from the iPhone. So the numbers are already incredible—iPad shipped in April and now in 80% of largest companies deploying or piloting, which is unheard of, as enterprise is generally much slower and more cautious. To everyone’s credit, they’ve seen value of this from productivity/creativity point of view and are really moving fast. In terms of inhibitors, iPad has huge advantage because as you can recall with iOS releases, we always put in a huge chunk of enterprise features, and this isn’t something we just started working on—we started with the first iPhone. So there’s a huge place here for us.
5:56PM: Q: Peter, more insight on iPad gross margins going forward? Should we assume Apple will improve feature set and hold pricing stable? A: Can’t answer that question. In terms of what we’re shipping today, we’re always looking to lower our costs and have a good track record of doing so. We feel very, very good about performance of our products and costing of our products. Q: MacBook Air - given initial success and momentum, how are you looking at it now, premium tablet or notebook? A: The Mac of the future shipping today. It was a phenomenal part of the growth of the Mac last quarter. Customers love the precision, thinness, weight, instant on. We’re really happy with how it’s doing. We’ve only been shipping it for less than 90 days, just gotten going on it.
Apple has released an email sent by CEO Steve Jobs to all company employees, stating that he will be taking his second medical leave in the last two years.
At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
Jobs took a medical leave from the company just over two years ago today, during which he received a liver transplant. It is unclear whether the cause of the current leave is a recurrence of or side effect from his prior bout with pancreatic cancer, or some unrelated issue.
According to a pair of reports out of Europe, Apple has changed its rules regarding how print publishers are allowed to let users access their content from within iOS applications. de Volkskrant reports (Translated Link) that Apple has told publishers it will no longer allow periodicals to bundle free access to the iPad version of the publication with print or online subscriptions. NRC adds (Translated Link) that Apple has given publishers until March 31 to comply with the new rules or risk having their apps removed from the App Store. Both reports note that Apple wants its 30 percent cut of the subscription price, which it does not receive when all payments are handled outside the App Store. Notably, Apple is reportedly working on a new subscription platform for the iPad (and likely other iOS devices as well) which will allow users to sign up for a subscription to a magazine or newspaper and have new content automatically delivered to their device. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to appear on stage with News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in the coming weeks to announce the new subscription offering alongside News Corp.‘s upcoming iPad-based newspaper The Daily. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has launched a new 10 Billion App Countdown promotion to celebrate the downloading of the ten billionth app from the App Store. “As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide,” reads the promotion’s web page. “Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a US $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. Just visit the App Store, and download what could be your best app yet.” Customers are limited to 25 entries per day, and Apple is providing a free entry form for those who would like to enter without making a purchase or performing a download. The promotion will end after the download of the 10 billionth app; for more information, see Apple’s official rules.
News Corp. and Apple have delayed the debut of the former’s new iPad newspaper, The Daily, in order to polish the new subscription platform that will be used to deliver the paper. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the digital newspaper was supposed to be unveiled next Wednesday by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs at a special event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the launch has been delayed by weeks, and not months, according to the report. “The app and the service work, it’s just getting them to talk to each other that needs more time,” said a person familiar with the matter. News Corp. confirmed the delay but declined to comment beyond that. Once released, Apple’s new subscription platform will allow customers to sign up for a subscription to a periodical via the App Store and get the publication delivered automatically to their iPad each time a new issue is published, instead of needing to purchase each issue individually either as a separate app or through in-app purchases.
Apple has released iOS 4.3 beta 1, the first beta version of its next major point release for iOS, to its paid developers. According to notes accompanying the release, the beta includes a pre-release version of future Apple TV Software so that developers can test AirPlay functionality with their 4.3 apps, meaning that users should be able to send video from apps or websites to the Apple TV under the new software. A prior report also indicated that the Personal Hotspot Internet sharing feature debuting on the Verizon iPhone 4 will make its way to other models under iOS 4.3, although it is unclear whether the functionality is included in this update. Separate beta versions of iOS 4.3 for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-, and fourth-generation iPod touch are available as downloads for paid iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.
Update: TUAW reports that the new beta also includes support for new four- and five-finger gestures on the iPad. “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad,” reads Apple’s developer page for iOS 4.3. “You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps. Test them and give us your feedback on the Apple Developer Forums.”
Update x2: Mac Rumors notes that the new beta also offers an option in the Settings app to choose whether the iPad’s side switch acts as a screen rotation lock or as a mute switch. The iPad originally shipped with the switch acting as a screen rotation lock, but Apple changed its behavior in iOS 4.2.
Microsoft has confirmed that it is attempting to block Apple’s trademark application for the phrase “App Store.” BBC News reports that Microsoft has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application on the basis that it is too broad. “An ‘app store’ is an ‘app store’,” said Russell Pangborn, Microsoft’s associate general counsel. “Like ‘shoe store’ or ‘toy store’, it is a generic term that is commonly used by companies, governments and individuals that offer apps. The term ‘app store’ should continue to be available for use by all without fear of reprisal by Apple.” Apple first filed for the trademark in 2008, and this week launched its second application store—the Mac App Store—alongside the release of Mac OS X 10.6.6.