Greenpeace International has Apple placed last in its recent rankings for environmental friendliness among major electronics companies. A spokesperson for Greenpeace claims Apple failed to stop using several types of harmful chemicals in its manufacturing processes, and has yet to make a plan for stopping their use. Apple, meanwhile, is rejecting the rankings, claiming its products are among the “greenest” in the world.
“We disagree with Greenpeace’s rating and the criteria they chose,” Apple spokeswoman Sheryl Seitz said, reading a prepared statement. “Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well as many BFRs (brominated flame retardants).”
Following Apple being named to Fortune’s list of most admired companies, the magazine has published an interesting article on the beginning of Apple’s retail store effort. “I started to get scared,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs about depending on large retailers to sell Macs before Apple’s first retail store was opened. “It was like, ‘We have to do something, or we’re going to be a victim of the plate tectonics. And we have to think different about this. We have to innovate here.’” Apple’s 174 stores, which each attract 13,800 visitors a week on average, now produce sales of $1 billion a quarter for the company. The average Apple Store generates sales of $4,032 per square foot a year—more than Saks, Best Buy, and Tiffany & Co.
Jobs told Fortune how he helped kick off the retail effort. “We looked at it and said, ‘You know, this is probably really hard, and really easy for us to get our head handed to us.’ So we did a few things. No. 1, I started asking who was the best retail executive at the time. Everybody said Mickey Drexler, who was running the Gap.” Jobs then went after Ron Johnson, then a Target executive, to run the retail store operations. “One of the best pieces of advice Mickey ever gave us was to go rent a warehouse and build a prototype of a store, and not, you know, just design it, go build 20 of them, then discover it didn’t work,” said Jobs. Interestingly, the first Apple Store prototype was scrapped, delaying the launch of the first store by 6-9 months.
Another interesting detail in the article is that the Apple Store Genius Bar was conceived after the majority of a focus group told Johnson that the best service experience they’d ever gotten was from a hotel concierge. “When we launched retail, I got this group together, people from a variety of walks of life,” says Johnson. “As an icebreaker, we said, ‘Tell us about the best service experience you’ve ever had.’” Of the 18 people, 16 said it was in a hotel. “We said, ‘Well, how do we create a store that has the friendliness of a Four Seasons Hotel?’” The answer: “Let’s put a bar in our stores. But instead of dispensing alcohol, we dispense advice.”
Apple ranks 7th on Fortune magazine’s 25th annual list of the most admired companies. “You could say that Apple has landed—not only on our street corners and in our malls but also, for the first time, on the top ten of our Most Admired Companies list,” writes the magazine. “Apple’s peers have watched it upend industries from computers to music. And now it’s become the best retailer in America. In 2004, Apple reached $1 billion in annual sales faster than any retailer in history; last year, sales reached $1 billion a quarter. And now comes the next, if not must-have, then must-see, product (iPhone).” To create the magazine’s top 20, Fortune survey partners at Hay Group asked 3,322 executives, directors, and securities analysts to select the 10 companies they admire most.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will make a rare joint appearance at The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference this year. According to show organizers, they will jointly discuss “the history and future of the digital revolution in an unrehearsed, unscripted, onstage conversation.” Both executives have made multiple appearances at the conference, but this will be their first joint session at D. Jobs will also appear on his own in a separate segment at D to discuss the latest developments at Apple. The conference, which is sold out, will take place May 29-31 near San Diego, California.
Apple Inc. and The Beatles’ Apple Corps said today that they have ended their ongoing trademark dispute and have entered into a new agreement over the use of the Apple name. Under the new agreement, which replaces one from 1991, Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to “Apple” and will license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps. The companies said the terms of settlement are confidential. Apple Inc. won a trademark lawsuit brought on by Apple Corps last year, with a UK judge ruling that the company could continue using its logo on the iTunes Store.
“We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future.” Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps said, “It is great to put this dispute behind us and move on. The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them.”
Update: We’ve posted an Editorial discussing the potential impact of the new agreement.
Google has again beat out Apple for the top spot in an annual global brand ranking. The survey by online branding magazine BrandChannel.com asked 3,625 branding professionals and students “Which brand had the most impact on our lives in 2006?”. Globally, the top five were Google, Apple, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Starbucks. The North American results, however, saw Apple in first place, followed by YouTube, Google, Starbucks and Wikipedia. “The poll does not take account of economic brand value, the murky science of assigning a financial value to brand, which regularly puts Coca-Cola in first place,” says Reuters. “Neither does it ask respondents to consider whether the brand’s impact is positive or negative.”
In its first-quarter 2007 Quarterly Results Conference Call, Apple Inc. executives provided additional insights into the domestic and international sales of iPods, growth of the iTunes Store, and the potential of both Apple TV and the upcoming iPhone. During his introductory remarks, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted that music products, including iPod, represented 57% of Apple’s total revenue, versus 59% in the preceding year’s quarter. The company maintained its MP3 leadership share in the U.S. market, boasting a 72% marketshare in December, according to NPD data, and extended its lead in every international territory for which it has market data. Very strong sales through the iTunes Store helped the company’s performance: “other music revenue” grew 29% over the same quarter last year, buoyed by doubled sales of iTunes Gift Cards. iTunes now accounts for 85% of the U.S. market for legal digital music downloads, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Additional notes from the Conference Call, including Apple TV as the “DVD player of the 21st Century” and potential changes to iPhone before release, are now available below.
iLounge has just announced the winners of its Best of Show 2007 Awards:
Alpine X001 Digital Media Receiver
Altec Lansing iM600 Portable Speaker System
Belkin Bluetooth Dock Adapter for iPod
Belkin Clear Acrylic and Brushed Metal Case for iPod nano
Elgato EyeTV 2.3.3
Griffin Evolve Wireless Speaker System
Harman Kardon Drive + Play 2
iSkin Cerulean Bluetooth Earphones
Macally TunePro Flat Panel Stereo Speaker with AM/FM Alarm Clock
Power Support Silicone Jacket for iPod shuffle
Roxio Toast 8 Titanium
Congratulations to the winners! Full details are now available in this linked article.
Following the introduction of the iPhone today, Apple stock rose $7.10, or more than 8 percent, to end the trading day at $92.57 a share. Meanwhile, being negatively affected by the iPhone, shares of smartphone makers Palm and Research In Motion (RIM) fell sharply. In the wake of the announcement, investors sold off shares of RIM, maker of the Blackberry line of devices, causing the stock to fall nearly 8 percent, or more than $11. Palm, maker of the popular Treo handheld, saw its stock drop nearly 6 percent.
During his keynote presentation at Macworld Expo today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the long-rumored iPhone to rapturous applause from the large audience in attendance. Jobs also showed off the retail version of the iTV, now called the Apple TV, and revealed other news such as a company name change and the latest iTunes sales.
• Apple unveils revolutionary iPhone
• Apple TV announced
• iTunes Store sells 2b songs, 50m TV shows, 1.3m movies
• Apple drops ‘Computer’ from company name
• Apple now fourth-largest music reseller in U.S.
• Cisco sues Apple over iPhone name
• iPhone reaction: Press, analysts, competitors and bloggers
• Apple’s Jobs: ‘You don’t want your phone to be like a PC’
• iLounge Macworld Expo flickr photos
• iLounge Apple keynote photo gallery
• Macworld Expo 2007 keynote video
Toward the end of his keynote presentation today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that his company is dropping the “Computer” from its name and will now officially be known as Apple Inc. Jobs noted that of Apple’s four main product lines—the Mac, iPod, Apple TV, and now iPhone—only one was a computer. The name change was more than likely made possible by a settlement last year with The Beatles’ Apple Corps.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple will announce a mobile phone as early as tomorrow and that the company will use Cingular as its carrier of choice. The Journal reports: “Cingular Wireless is expected to provide wireless service for a new Apple Computer cellphone, people familiar with the situation say. The launch of the new phone and service is expected to be announced as early as Tuesday, these people say. The new product could give Apple access to the huge wireless business, in which nearly a billion handsets are shipped every year, dwarfing the nearly 70 million iPods Apple has sold over the past five years.” The newspaper offers no other details on the phone or service.
While not distinguishing whether his story is based on his own sources or current circulating rumors, John Markoff of the New York Times writes that Apple is set to unveil a mobile phone that may feature “a sleek ceramic case and a transparent touch screen.” Markoff says that “industry executives and competitors” believe Apple has developed “the first of a new generation of devices that are closer to personal computers in pocket form, meaning that they will easily handle music, entertainment, productivity tasks and communications on cellular and other wireless networks.” The Times tech writer notes that “Apple’s business strategy in offering an Apple phone will potentially be as intriguing as its industrial design.” He says Steve Jobs “has been rumored to have entered into an alliance with Cingular,” and that the Apple CEO recently told two associates he was “more excited about his current project than he was about the Macintosh.”
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes that Apple’s product announcements at Macworld Expo tomorrow will focus on Macs and home entertainment, but that the company could also unveil a new iPod, cell phone, or even an Apple-branded HDTV.
“There appears to be more uncertainty as to what Apple CEO Steve Jobs will announce this year than in previous years. We believe this is likely because Apple is plugging leaks better as protecting its secrecy remains a top priority for the company,” Wu says in a research note to clients today. “We therefore believe there will likely be more surprises this year. We anticipate announcements to focus on two areas—Macs and home entertainment. Our supply chain sources indicate new vPods with Bluetooth stereo headphones and cell phones near/at manufacturing stage, though we are not certain on near-term timing.”
As do many other Apple watchers, Wu expects Apple to officially release its iTV streaming media device this week. He also expects new iTunes Store movie partners, and hears whispers of an Apple big-screen TV. “We anticipate new movie content partnerships with one or more studios (Fox, Universal, Paramount, and Warner) that extend beyond Disney,” says Wu. “Furthermore, we are not certain on timing but our analysis indicates that Apple is beyond prototype on large-screen technologies (for a larger monitor or possibly Apple-branded HDTV).”
Wu says a new video iPod is definitely in the works, but is unsure of timing. “The very successful vPod has not had a major update since August 2005 when it was first announced. Our analysis in the supply chain indicates that its successor has been under development for some time and recent data indicates shifting component order dynamics,” Wu says. “We do not have high conviction on timing but see improved battery life, widescreen, and Bluetooth 2.0 stereo as the newest features.”
Wu is also unsure if the long-rumored iPod phone will be shown tomorrow. “While our analysis continues to indicate Apple’s first cell phone is technically complete, its ‘go-to-market’ strategy continues to be a mystery and likely a gating factor (MVNO vs. traditional carrier or both),” says the analyst. “Our conviction remains high that Apple’s first cell phone will be released in 2007—potentially 1H07.”
Defunct online movie provider Intertainer has filed a lawsuit against Apple, Google and Napster, alleging that the three companies are infringing on a patent that covers the commercial distribution of digital media over the Internet. “Founded in 1996, Intertainer developed technology to distribute movies on demand through cable and phone lines for viewing on televisions and personal computers. It gained investors including Intel, Microsoft, Sony, NBC and Comcast,” according to the New York Times. The company shut down in 2002, filing a suit against the Hollywood studios behind Movielink for anticompetitive actions. The studios settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum, and Intertainer is now considered a patent licensing business.
In its quarterly report filed with the SEC last week, Apple disclosed that it is facing a lawsuit over the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. Apple said PhatRat Technology filed a lawsuit in October alleging patent infringement. The company claims Apple’s product is infringing on several patents held by PhatRat, including: U.S. Patent number 6,499,000 entitled “System and Method for Determining Loft Time, Speed, Height and Distance,” U.S. Patent number 6,885,971 entitled “Methods and Systems for Assessing Athletics Performance,” U.S. Patent number 6,963,818 entitled “Mobile Speedometer Systems and Associated Methods,” and U.S. Patent number 7,092,846 entitled “Systems and Methods for Determining Performance Data,” as well as allowed U.S. Patent Application number 11/358,508 entitled “Shoes Employing Monitoring Devices, and Associated Methods.”
Apple has posted an intriguing new welcome message on the home page of Apple.com. The fresh graphic features a backlit Apple logo with the text, “The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007.” While the message could simply be a harmless New Year’s greeting, it will no doubt stir up much anticipation before Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote at next week’s Macworld Expo.
Following an independent investigation into the backdating of past stock option practices, Apple today restated past earnings, but cleared current executives of misconduct. Apple said it will record a non-cash charge of $84 million to compensate for improperly handled stock option grants made between 1997 and 2002. The company said after-tax profits would be lowered by $10 million for 2004, $7 million for 2005 and $4 million for 2006.
In delayed filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said a special committee of its board found that while Apple CEO Steve Jobs and other managers recommended or were aware of certain inaccurate grant dates, they did not financially benefit from them. Apple said it has “complete confidence” in the executive team.
“The special committee, its independent counsel and forensic accountants have performed an exhaustive investigation of Apple’s stock option granting practices,” said Al Gore, chair of the special committee, and Jerome York, chair of Apple’s Audit and Finance Committee, in a joint statement. “The board of directors is confident that the company has corrected the problems that led to the restatement, and it has complete confidence in Steve Jobs and the senior management team.”
Federal prosecutors are investigating stock option documents at Apple that were reportedly falsified by company officials, according to a report by Law.com. The report also says that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has hired his own legal representation to deal with investigators from the SEC and Justice Department. The article does not say which documents were allegedly falsified, but Apple previously stated that “stock option grants made on 15 dates between 1997 and 2002 appear to have grant dates that precede the approval of those grants.”
UK-based iLounge Forums member “Doc Evils” has shared his experience in attending an award ceremony presenting Apple’s Jonathan Ive with an Honorary Doctorate of the University of the Arts London. The award is in “recognition of the outstanding contribution that an individual has made to his or her chosen field of endeavor.” Ive is the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple and is behind the company’s most lauded designs, such as the iMac and iPod.
“Doc Evils” was amongst an audience of students selected from various design courses and members of the press. After the presentation of his doctorate, the editor of British GQ magazine and former student of the college, Dylan Jones, chaired a question and answer session with Ive which lasted over two hours. During the cocktail party which followed the presentation and questions,“Doc Evils” was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Ive, which was without doubt the highlight of the event for him.
Update: In related news, Ive collected his CBE from Her Majesty the Queen in London today. The award was announced in December 2005. In a statement at the time, Apple said: “We are as proud as could be that Jonny is receiving such a prestigious commendation.”