The U.S. International Trade Commission staff has issued a memo to ITC Judge Charles Bullock stating that Nokia shouldn’t be found liable of infringing upon Apple’s patents. “The evidence will not establish a violation” of Apple patent rights, the staff said in a pre-trial memo which was released yesterday. Apple is seeking to block imports of Nokia phones into the U.S. on the basis of patent infringement. Bloomberg reports that the memo also states that if Judge Bullock does find that there was a violation of Apple’s patents by Nokia, that he should recommend an order to block specific models of Nokia phones, as opposed to the company’s entire product line. Bullock is not required to follow the staff’s position, and is expected to release his findings on the matter in February; his ruling will be subject to review by a six-member commission.
Nokia 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); Nokia then sued Apple again in May, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five of its patents.
Apple has informed its music distribution and label partners that it will be extending the length of preview clips offered on the iTunes Store from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. The blog Symphonic Distribution quotes Apple as saying, “We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States. We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases.” Mac Rumors has posted a copy of the iTunes Connect notice sent to label representatives, which explains that the 90 second previews will only apply to songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length, and states that by continuing to offer their music on the iTunes Store, the labels are indicating acceptance of the new terms. Notably, this means that any label not wishing to participate will need to pull their music from the store; it currently unknown when Apple will begin its rollout of the longer previews for customers.
Apple is in conversations with mobile payments startup Boku about a potential acquisition or partnership, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the talks, TechCrunch reports that both Apple and Google are in talks with Boku, which, through agreements with cellular carriers, lets customers purchase goods by typing in their phone number instead of using a credit card or PayPal account. The report claims that Boku President and CEO Mark Britto and co-founder Ron Hirson have held multiple meetings with executives from Apple’s iPhone division over the course of the past three weeks. Boku has reportedly been in high-level meetings with Google as well, specifically with Director of Engineering Michael Morrissey, who oversees development for Google Mobile Services for Android. It is unclear whether Google is exploring an outright acquisition, which Apple is said to be seeking; TechCrunch’s source indicates that Apple could end up paying as little as $250 million or as much as $450 million to purchase the company. Boku’s talks with both companies are said to be at an early stage.
Apple and Google previously engaged in talks with mobile advertising firm AdMob, with a last-minute bid from Google preventing Apple from purchasing the company and leading to Apple’s acquisition of Quattro Wireless, which later became the basis for the company’s iAds platform. Jobs later admitted that Apple attempted to purchase AdMob, and that Google came in and “snatched” the company from Apple; that situation may offer Apple added incentive to close a potential deal with Boku before Google has a chance to sign a partnership agreement with and/or purchase the company.
Apple has sent out an email to registered iOS developers letting them know that it is now accepting submissions for iOS 4.2 apps. According to the email, which was submitted to iLounge by a reader, the apps need to be built, tested, and compiled using the iOS 4.2 SDK GM seed and iOS 4.2 GM seed released yesterday before being submitted for review “so they can be ready when iOS 4.2 is available to iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users.” In addition, a few small new changes have been discovered in the iOS 4.2 GM seed, including a change to the Multitasking bar that allows fast access to both Brightness and Volume controls, along with a new AirPlay button, which has changed from a dot with radiating waves to a box with a triangle pointing into it. In addition, the new MobileMe account setup in iOS 4.2 GM lets users log into MobileMe settings using an Apple ID, although the Apple ID logins don’t seem to work yet, according to Mac Rumors.
Our reader added that the overall speed of iOS 4.2 on iPad is much improved, and that audio streaming over AirPlay from iOS devices to Apple TV appears to still be unstable, with drop-outs surprisingly common - the issue appears to be network-related. Updates to the Apple TV and Remote applications appear to be necessary to enable AirPlay video and photo streaming, as iOS 4.2 devices currently do not have any obvious way to share videos or photos, and iPad users will also receive a number of new wallpaper options relative to iOS 3.2. Also noticeable is a color bug in PDF rendering. Finally, the iPad’s side switch continues to be a “mute” button under iOS 4.2 GM, but only mutes alert and keyboard sounds, not other audio, which is odd considering that the iPad has so few alerts.
Apple has released a pre-release version of the Gold Master of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to members of the iOS developer program. This likely represents the last developer-only release prior to the final public release of iOS 4.2. Although Apple has not yet announced a release date for iOS 4.2, public iOS releases have generally occurred within 1-2 weeks of the release of a Gold Master seed. It is currently unknown what specific changes have been made in this latest version, although Apple highlighted new features in iOS 4.2 during its September 1st event and some previews have been seen from prior beta releases. Apple’s iOS 4.2 GM seeds for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, second-, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch are available now to paid iPhone developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple paid a “7-figure settlement” to settle a trademark lawsuit related to its iAd mobile advertising platform, according to a new report. Cnet reports that Apple is cited as having paid the settlement to Innovate Media, a client of “intellectual asset management” firm Consor, in a news release briefly posted to Consor’s website. Innovate Media filed a lawsuit against Apple over its iAds trademark, which it had used since 2006, in May; in the release, Consor claimed that “the comprehensive confusion analysis and quantification of economic damages performed by Consor were instrumental to Innovate Media reaching a highly favorable settlement with Apple.” Following the discovery of the release, a Consor employee claimed that it was never posted, and later said that some of the information in the release “wasn’t accurate” without elaborating further. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple is currently investigating a rash of problems related to a number of remote + mic headphones made by Monster that are exhibiting “erratic behavior.” Citing an internal Apple source and screen shots of what is supposedly an Apple internal support document, the Boy Genius Report states that the problems affect the iPod, iPhone, and iPad users, and include random, non-intentional track control changes, such as pausing, skipping, and playback initiation. According to the Apple document, the troublesome Monster headphones “do not meet Apple’s technical specifications,” and “use conductive flanges, which can result in electrical shorts that cause an iPod or iPhone to pause and play erratically.” Listed in the document as offending models are the Jamz, Lil Jamz, Turbine Basic and Pro, and Heartbeats product lines.
Following a lawsuit and U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint filed by Motorola Mobility against Apple last month, Apple has filed a pair of patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola and Motorola Mobility. The suits, which name the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour, and Charm as potentially infringing products, center around a handful of Apple patents related to multi-touch technology. According to Patently Apple, the suits specifically reference Apple patents covering an ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces, a multipoint touchscreen, an object-oriented system locator system, a touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics, a method and apparatus for displaying and accessing control and status information in a computer system, and support for custom user-interaction elements in a graphical, event-driven computer system. Apple is seeking a judgment that Motorola has directly infringed, induced infringement, and/or contributed to the infringement of one or more claims of the listed patents, a judgement blocking Motorola or its partners from further infringement, and damages.
According to a recent report by IDC, Apple has joined the ranks of the world’s five largest mobile phone vendors, surpassing Research in Motion (RIM) by 1.7 million units and bumping Sony Ericsson off the list for the first time since IDC began tracking mobile phone market share in 2004. The report indicates that the worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the third-quarter of 2010, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth with vendors shipping 340.5 million phones in total last quarter compared to 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009. The IDC report goes on to note that the smartphone category is growing rapidly and is at least partly responsible for driving the rapid expansion of mobile phone adoption worldwide.
Apple is the second smartphone-only vendor to place in the top five ranking. RIM has already spent three quarters on the IDC leaderboard and both companies posted the highest growth rates among the top five vendors this past quarter. The report attributes Apple’s record performance to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter, and notes that this performance came despite the July “Antennagate” controversy around reception problems.
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s WorldWide Mobile Phone Tracker notes that “The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Vendors that aren’t developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future.” IDC expects the worldwide mobile phone market to be driven primarily by smartphone growth over the next few years, expecting that market to grow 55% year over year. The full report is available from IDC’s web site.
Apple may be working on a new integrated micro-SIM card solution for a future iPhone model, according to a report from GigaOM. Citing sources inside European carriers, the report states that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a SIM card that will be integrated directly into the iPhone and can be activated on any carrier. Customers could then simply buy the iPhone and use an App Store application to sign up for service with their carrier of choice instead of having to purchase a carrier-specific micro-SIM card separately. SIM cards have traditionally been tied to individual carriers, whereas an embedded SIM would accept activation from any carrier rather than containing hard-coded carrier information. Apple is already unique among phone manufacturers in requiring iPhone activation via iTunes and this could be leveraged to provide the same security and carrier activation features without requiring the need for a removable SIM, effectively allowing the integrated SIM chip to be programmed with carrier information during the activation process. Other advantages of removable SIM cards such as international roaming and transferring between devices could likely also be addressed through an on-device app or as part of the iTunes activation process. Neither Apple nor Gemalto have yet responded to any requests for comment.
Apple has removed the white iPhone 4 from the iPhone ordering page on its Online Store. This move follows a report late Tuesday that Apple would be delaying the iPhone 4 until Spring 2011, sparking additional rumours alleging that Apple may in fact have cancelled the white model of the iPhone 4 entirely. The reported Spring 2011 delay would have pushed the white iPhone 4 release very close to Apple’s typical early summer release dates for new iPhone models. Apple has provided no comment on this change and notably the white iPhone 4 still continues to appear in product descriptions and promotional images, as well as Apple’s iPhone 4 Specifications and iPhone 4 Gallery. [via Mac Rumors]
Business Insider is reporting that Apple will be hosting an event for select iOS developers in California next week. Citing industry sources, the report indicates that the event is scheduled to begin next Tuesday and run for three days, however there has been no public information released by Apple regarding such an event, and no details are available on who has been invited to attend or how big the event is expected to be. Business Insider speculates that the event will be a more intimate version of the iPhone Tech Talks that Apple hosted last year and is intended to provide some additional face time and hands-on development help with Apple engineers. The timing of the event suggests that it may be connected to Apple’s expected release of iOS 4.2 next month, although the company has not provided any new official details on iOS 4.2 since its September 1st Music Event.
With the end of Deutsche Telekom’s iPhone exclusivity in Germany, Apple has begun selling the iPhone directly from its Online Store in that country both contract-free and unlocked. This mirrors how Apple has been selling the iPhone in other countries such as Canada where multiple carrier options are available. German customers can now purchase the 8GB iPhone 3GS for €519, and the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4 for €629 and 739€, respectively. Unlike some of the other countries, however, Apple will not be supplying micro-SIM cards for iPhones ordered directly from the Apple Online Store in Germany, instead directing customers to obtain a micro-SIM directly from their cellular provider of choice. Further, Vodafone and O2 have also now begun selling the iPhone directly in Germany alongside Deutsche Telekom, and Apple’s German web site now directs customers to all three of these carriers for contract iPhone purchases or micro-SIM cards.
Apple has extended its free personal engraving and signature gift wrapping services to online iPad purchases. Exclusive to the Apple Online Store, the personal engraving service allows buyers to add a personal laser-engraved message to the back of their iPad consisting of up to two lines of approximately 30 characters each. Users are prompted to add their engraving during the checkout process and can see a preview of what their message will look like on the back of the iPad. As with the iPod service, adding a personal engraving will increase shipping times slightly and engraved iPads are not eligible for Apple’s normal return policy. Apple is also offering its signature gift wrapping service for iPad purchases as well; for an extra $5 users can have the iPad delivered in a signature gift box along with a personalized greeting card and red ribbon. Buyers can also add a free gift message to the packing slip. Personal engraving and signature gift wrapping services are available only for orders from the Apple Online Store; these services may not be available in all countries where the iPad is sold.
Apple has released an update to its official Apple Store application, adding support for interacting with Apple Retail Stores and adding engraving and gift wrapping to online purchases. The Apple Store application allows users in the U.S. to purchase Apple products and accessories directly from their iOS device and read customer reviews. With version 1.1 users can now add free personal engraving for iPad and iPod purchases and choose gift wrapping for iPads, iPods select Mac notebooks and select Apple software and accessories. The new version also allows users to interact with Apple Retail Stores, including reserving certain products for pickup, making Genius Bar and One to One reservations and signing up for workshops and events. Users can choose to add Retail Store appointments directly to their calendar and request help while in an Apple Retail Store. The application uses Location Services to identify nearby Apple Retail Stores and offers users additional services when they are in a store. Notably the new Apple Store application also includes an option to reserve a white iPhone 4, however attempting to do so results in a note that Apple is “not currently taking reservations for this product” and offers users the opportunity to check their eligibility for an upgrade. The Apple Store application is currently only available in the U.S. and is a free download from the U.S. App Store.
Update: It appears the white iPhone 4 has been removed from the Apple Store app.
The first beta version of iOS 4.2 released last month changed the behaviour of the orientation lock switch to act as a mute switch instead, similar to the function of the switch on the iPhone. When this change was first revealed, many wondered if this was intentional behaviour on Apple’s part or simply a temporary change as a result of unifying iOS 4.2 on both the iPhone and iPad devices. 9to5Mac is now reporting that this is an intentional change on Apple’s part following an e-mail exchange between a reader and Steve Jobs. Not only did Jobs allegedly confirm that the switch is going to be used to mute the sound but also indicated that the switch function would not be configurable by the user. It is worth noting that the hardware switch on the iPad was originally advertised as a mute switch, and Apple only changed the function to an orientation lock in late March shortly before the initial release of the iPad. iOS 4.2 on the iPad is expected to include an orientation lock button in the multitasking dock widget that was introduced for the iPhone and iPod touch in iOS 4.0, a function that was not otherwise available on the iPad with iOS 3.2.
Following yesterday’s statements by Apple CEO Steve Jobs discussing BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, the fact that Apple’s 14.1 million iPhones sold in the September quarter beat RIM’s 12 million handsets sold during the August quarter, and the shortcomings of seven-inch tablets — including RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry Playbook — RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie has released a statement responding to Jobs, which is reprinted below.
“For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7″ tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. And by the way, RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 – 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter. Apple’s preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM’s August-ending quarter doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders. As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story.”
During Apple’s Third Quarter 2010 Financial Results Conference Call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, Apple COO Tim Cook, and, surprisingly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several noteworthy comments concerning the company’s digital media products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. During his opening remarks, Oppenheimer noted that Apple passed 125 million iOS devices—including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—last month, with over 200,000 registered iOS developers, 65,000 game and entertainment apps, and over 30,000 apps made specifically for iPad. Oppenheimer also noted that iAd launched in July, and that the company is very happy with its results so far.
In regards to the iPod, Oppenheimer said it remains the worldwide MP3 player leader with over 70% market share, and is gaining share in most of tracked countries, while iTunes revenue for the quarter was over $1 billion. Turning to the iPhone, he pointed out that Apple sold over 40 million iPhones in fiscal year 2010, and that the iPhone accounted for more than $8.82 billion in revenue in the fourth-quarter, with an Average Selling Price (ASP) of around $610. iPhone sales grew in Asia, Europe, and Japan during the quarter, with sales more than doubling year-over-year in Japan. He added that the percentage of Fortune 500 companies piloting or deploying the iPhone jumped from 60% to 80% following the launch of the iPhone 4, and said Apple believes it could have sold even more iPhones if it could have kept up with demand.
Making a rare appearance on the company’s Q4 2010 earnings conference call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments regarding tablet competitors to the iPad that have been announced but have yet to ship. Jobs said that there were only a handful of credible entrants out of the many tablets that have been announced, and keyed on the fact that most of them use 7-inch screens. According to Jobs, these screens offer only 45% of the touchable surface area of the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen — he said to hold the iPad in portrait orientation, draw a line across the middle, and the screen of one of the new tablets would be a little smaller than the bottom half of the iPad’s display. Jobs then half-jokingly suggested that competitors could include sandpaper with the tablets so that users could sand their fingers down to 45% of their current size.
Jobs went on to call 7-inch tablets “tweeners,” saying they were too big to compete against smartphones—something Jobs said every tablet user would likely own—but too small to compete against the iPad. Furthermore, he pointed out that while most of the new tablets are based on Android, Google is telling the companies not to use the current version of the Android software, and to instead wait on a new, tablet-friendly version of the OS set to arrive next year. Jobs also said that their competitors were having trouble matching the iPad’s price point despite using smaller screens, and noted that while there are over 30,000 iPad apps available, most of the new tablets would launch with close to zero. Finally, he declared the new entrants “dead on arrival,” adding that competitors will increase their tablets’ screen size next year after they realize the 7-inch screens are too small, and that the process “sounds like lots of fun.”
Reporting its fourth-quarter financial results today, Apple said it sold 14.1 million iPhones during the period, representing 91% growth from the year-ago quarter, and up from 8.4 million in the third-quarter. The company also sold 9.05 million iPods during the quarter, an 11% decline year-over-year, and also down slightly from the 9.41 million iPods sold during the third quarter. Apple also sold 4.19 million iPads during the quarter, up from 3.27 million units in the third quarter. The units sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 73.7 million, 278.5 million, and 7.46 million, respectively. Overall, the company posted revenue of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter, compared to revenue of $12.21 billion and net quarterly profit of $2.53 billion, or $2.77 per diluted share, in Q4 2009.
“We are blown away to report over $20 billion in revenue and over $4 billion in after-tax earnings—both all-time records for Apple,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter. We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year.”
“We’re thrilled with the performance and strength of our business, generating almost $5.7 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $23 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $4.80.”