Apple has officially welcomed Beats to the Apple family, commemorating the finalization of its $3 billion acquisition initiated earlier this year. Noting that “[m]usic has always held a special place in our hearts,” the announcement includes a link back to beatsbydre.com, where a similar announcement can be found from Beats perspective, describing Beats as a new “instrument” joining Apple’s legacy of music-enabling products. Notes on Beats’ customer service page indicate that all inquiries related to sales and order info should now be directed to Apple, and that all online purchasing for Beats products will now go through the Apple Store.
- August 1, 2014
A new report from Bloomberg indicates that as part of Apple’s Beats acquisition, Paris-based Vivendi SA sold its approximately 13 percent stake in Beats Electronics to Apple for $404 million. Held by the company’s Universal Music Group, the stake’s value reportedly almost doubled in value from a September 2013 estimate of $214 million, according to an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Paris.
- July 31, 2014
Apple’s new content delivery network has gone live in the U.S. and Europe, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn. The network is able to deliver multiple terabits of data per second, which should allow Apple to offer faster iOS downloads. Rayburn claims Apple is still using other services for iTunes, radio, and app downloads, “but over time, much of that traffic will be brought over to Apple’s CDN.” It’s unknown when that traffic may shift to the new network. The new network delivers traffic directly to Comcast and other ISPs through interconnect deals. Apple has reportedly invested “well more than” $100 million in this new network. [via Ars Technica]
- July 30, 2014
Apple has started transitioning employees and technology from Beats, but not all Beats employees will be making the move, 9to5Mac reports. While many Beats employees in development and creative roles have been offered jobs at Apple, Beats’ support, finance, and HR departments “have already been largely dismantled,” according to the report — some employees have been laid off, others have been offered Apple positions, and some have only been offered a temporary position during the transition period. On the technology side of the transition, it’s been noted that Beats Music “is not easily compatible” with Apple servers, and that parts of the service “will need to be re-architectured.”
Update: The New York Post is reporting that Apple will cut about 200 jobs at Beats — about 40 percent of the company’s workforce.
- July 30, 2014
The Russian government is asking for access to Apple’s source code, in order to ensure the company’s products aren’t used for spying purposes, Reuters reports. Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said in a statement, “Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and U.S. intelligence services’ public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware.” European software company SAP has also been asked to share its source code. The Russian Communications Ministry noted that Microsoft has shared its source code for Windows and other products with Atlas —a subordinate company that reports to the ministry — since 2003. Apple has declined comment.
Apple has reinstated popular Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain to the App Store. It’s not an entirely unexpected move, considering Apple recently started allowing Bitcoin apps back in the App Store, after making a change to its App Store Review Guidelines. Blockchain was originally pulled from the App Store in February. Nicolas Cary, Blockchain’s CEO, told Bloomberg that Blockchain’s Bitcoin wallet has 1.9 million users.
Apple Stores will soon allow customers to purchase new iPhones using early upgrade programs from carriers, including AT&T Next, T-Mobile JUMP, and Verizon Edge, according to 9to5Mac. It’s unclear whether or when Apple will support Sprint’s One Up program. The report claims that “many” stores will offer the purchase option in late August, ahead of the expected iPhone 6 September launch. At the moment, any iPhone purchased in an Apple Store must be bought with a two-year contract or at full price with no contract.
- July 28, 2014
Re/code is reporting that Apple is about to acquire Swell, an app described as “Pandora-for-talk-radio,” for $30 million. Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed by either company, the report cites multiple sources, and Re/code has a strong track record when it comes to Apple news. According to the report, the app will shut down this week, as Apple attempts to improve its podcast-listening experience. It was also revealed late Friday by TechCrunch that Apple recently acquired BookLamp, described as a “Pandora for books.”
- July 25, 2014
Bose is suing Beats over noise-canceling technology patents used in headphones, according to CNBC. Patent search site PriorSmart.com appears to have a list of the five Bose patents cited in the case. The patents cover signal processing and high frequency compensation, among other aspects of noise-canceling technology. Beats Electronics and Beats Electronics International are both listed as defendants in the suit. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple executives have had recent conversations about launching an iPhone-based mobile wallet as soon as this fall, according to The Information. The company has reportedly told partners its mobile payment system would contain “secured element” hardware within the phones that would store sensitive financial information. The Secure Enclave coprocessor in Apple’s A7 chip would likely fit the bill — as noted by Apple, it relies on a random number generator and encrypted memory to safely store information. It’s also noted that Visa is in discussions with Apple about a possible partnership to bypass third-party payment processors to lower costs.
Mobile payments from Apple have been rumored for years. But with Apple reportedly interviewing candidates for a mobile payment service, and CEO Tim Cook recently characterizing mobile payments as “an area of interest” while freely discussing the possibilities of such a service, perhaps we’ll see an iPhone wallet in the near future. [via MacRumors]
Apple is “tentatively” planning an event for mid-September to announce the iPhone 6, 9to5Mac reports. Though not a surprise — numerous reports have all pegged September for the iPhone 6 reveal — the new report claims the second and third weeks of September are the most likely weeks for the event, though plans are still yet to be finalized. If the event was held on a Tuesday, as is commonplace, it would be held on September 9 or 16, with a likely product release on September 19 or 26. However, it’s unclear if both new iPhones will be announced or launched at the same time. According to the report, the 4.7” iPhone 6 will be showcased, but no decision has been made regarding inclusion of the 5.5” iPhone 6. Final details on iOS 8 will also be unveiled at the event.
- July 23, 2014
A lawsuit filed by Apple employees in December 2011 has been given class action status, as the company is being sued for labor violations in California, TechCrunch reports. Those alleged violations include not providing employees with timely meal and rest breaks, or timely paychecks. According to the plaintiffs, the case affects approximately 20,000 Apple employees. No financial demands have been made as of yet. Notably, this case is not to be confused with a somewhat similar suit involving Apple retail employees allegedly losing wages due to lengthy bag searches.
Apple and AT&T have started sending out $40 checks to U.S. customers who bought or ordered a first-generation iPad with 3G capabilities before June 7, 2010. A ruling was made in September in a class action lawsuit stemming from AT&T’s elimination of an advertised unlimited data plan about a month after it was introduced. The checks have started to arrive in customers’ mailboxes, as per 9to5Mac. AT&T is also offering a $20/month discount on its 5GB monthly data plan for consumers who didn’t sign up for any other AT&T data plan.
- July 23, 2014
After denying a report earlier in the week that iOS is prone to “back door” access, Apple has put forth a new document outlining three diagnostic capabilities, and how they’re used. “Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer,” the report states. “Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer.”
Apple statement denies working with "any government agency ... to create a backdoor in any of our products" pic.twitter.com/5psXWtOXW2— Tim Bradshaw (@tim) July 21, 2014
This comes after Apple issued a denial to the Financial Times, stating it “has never worked with any government agency to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.”
- July 22, 2014
Apple’s conference call after announcing its Q3 2014 financial results kicked off with Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing Yosemite, iOS 8, and Swift. Cook also touched on CarPlay, HealthKit, HomeKit, in addition to the company’s new partnership with IBM.
Getting to the financial results, Cook announced that Apple set a June quarter record, with iPhones also setting a new third quarter record. “iPad sales met our expectations but we realize they didn’t meet many of yours,” Cook said, noting an overall decline in the tablet markets while moving on to citing surveys in which customers expressed satisfaction with iPad.
Cook expressed excitement with Apple’s acquisition of Beats, citing Beats’ subscription service, “access to rare talent,” and a growing lineup of products. As he’s done in the past, Cook briefly referenced upcoming new products and services.
Apple CFO Luca Maestri talked about the iPhone and its impressive results in the quarter. As for the iPad, he announced increased sales in the Middle East, China, and India, while adding that such growth was offset by lower sales in “more mature markets.” iTunes revenue was up to $2.6 billion. Apple expects $37 billion to $40 billion in revenue next quarter, with a gross margin between 37 and 38 percent. Maestri said he expects a busy fall, as Apple is “very excited” about what’s in the pipeline.
When asked about decreased tablet sales, Cook said that “significant innovation” can still come to the iPad, “and we plan on doing that.” Cook believes there’s a “substantial upside” in iPad sales within business, which led him to remark on the recently announced IBM partnership. “I honestly believe the opportunity is huge,” he said.
On sales in China this quarter, Cook said, “We thought it would be strong, but it well went past what we thought.” He noted that unit growth was “off the charts.”
Asked about trade-in programs for iPhone, Cook said trade-ins are “hugely beneficial for our ecosystem,” as those phones often go to “price sensitive” customers. Cook also believes the cannibalization factor is low due to that price sensitivity, while pointing out the high resale value of Apple products. But he also noted, “It’s very different to quantify with certainty.”
Cook said iPhone 5c had the highest growth of the current three iPhone tiers in the quarter.
When asked how Apple is changing, in reference to the Beats acquisition and the IBM partnership, Cook said that although the company is always on the lookout for acquisitions, “we don’t let our money burn a hole in our pocket.” Again, Cook referenced Beats’ subscription service and products, while taking the time to note that Beats has “a very rare set of talent that we think can do great things in Apple.”
- July 22, 2014
Apple reported its third quarter 2014 financial results today, selling 35.2 million iPhones, 13.27 million iPads, and 2.9 million iPods. The company posted quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. In Q3 2013, Apple had revenue of $35.3 billion and net profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 59 percent of the quarter’s revenue.
“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”
“We generated $10.3 billion in cash flow from operations and returned over $8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the June quarter,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said. “We have now taken action on over $74 billion of our $130 billion capital return program with six quarters remaining to its completion.”
Despite the year-over-year increase in iPhone unit sales, the results notably included a year-over-year decline in iPad sales, and a modest 6% sequential increase for iPods. iTunes/Software/Services and Accessories categories both posted healthy 12% gains.
Apple was granted a patent today for an electronic wristband that can be coupled to an electronic wristwatch. The wristband, which can interact with the watch, can include digital sensors, wireless hardware, and other electronics, and could respond to gestures such as shaking and tapping. Within separate embodiments of the patent, the watch could be integrated into the wristband, or the two pieces could be removably secured together. The device shows “iTime” on the watch face in one illustration.
The device is shown as being able to interact with a mobile phone, portable computer, and desktop computer. This new patent, which was filed in 2011, is simpler than Apple’s other well-known “wearable accessory device” patent published last year. [via Apple Insider]
Alongside the latest OS X Yosemite beta preview, Apple has issued the first beta of iTunes 12. This represents the first time the app has been seen at all, although a new red icon was visible in the dock during Apple’s Yosemite presentation at WWDC. iTunes 12.0 includes a new “streamlined,” iOS 7/8-style design, Family Sharing, improved playlists, and a redesigned info window. The app has shifted to using black and white iOS-influenced iconography, and lets you view device media and other content (“Apps,” “Music,” “Photos”) in vertical lists rather than with horizontal tabs.
The app is available to registered developers through the Mac App Store.
- July 21, 2014
As expected, iOS 8 beta 4 has been released to registered developers, and is available as an over-the-air update as well as a download from Apple’s developer portal. This release comes two weeks after the third beta. We’ll update this story if any major changes are found.
Apple has announced the eighth annual iTunes Festival, a concert series held in London at the Roundhouse. There will be 30 days of concerts throughout September, which will be broadcast live to an iOS app, iTunes on the desktop, and Apple TV. This year’s artists include Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, Beck, and Blondie. Apple held its first ever U.S. edition of the iTunes Festival at SXSW in March. More information is available on iTunes.