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Apple announces 15 billion App Store downloads

Apple today announced that over 15 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store. In the release, Apple notes that there are now more than 200 million iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users worldwide, with more than 425,000 apps available on the store, over 100,000 of which are native iPad apps. The App Store is now available in 90 countries, according to the announcement, and Apple has paid developers over $2.5 billion to date.

“In just three years, the revolutionary App Store has grown to become the most exciting and successful software marketplace the world has ever seen,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled it with over 425,000 of the coolest apps and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads.”

“We sparked musical magic when iPhone users experienced Ocarina three years ago,” said Dr. Ge Wang, a Smule co-founder and assistant professor at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. “And now with iPad, we’ve created the Magic Piano and Magic Fiddle apps. Who could’ve dreamt an iPad would make its way into the San Francisco Symphony?”

“iPad provides us with an unparalleled mobile device for creating gorgeous, immersive games,” said Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games. “Infinity Blade has been a runaway hit with customers around the world and we couldn’t be more excited about our success on iOS devices.”

“We’re bringing Martha Stewart, Angelina Ballerina, Sesame Street and many more of the world’s most popular books and magazines to iPad,” said Nicholas Callaway, CEO of Callaway Digital Arts. “We knew the iPad was going to be a revolutionary storytelling device, but never could have anticipated it would become so popular, so quickly.”

Apple files to block four Samsung products

Apple has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in its patent infringement case against Samsung, a move which could see four of the South Korean company’s products barred from sale in the U.S. FOSS Patents reports that motion targets the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1, and asserts three design patents and one utility patent, the latter involving “list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display.” As the report notes, the move is a bold one for Apple; should the motion be granted, Samsung will be forced to remove the products from the U.S. market in a matter of months, while a failed motion could weaken Apple’s negotiating position. Apple is aiming for a court hearing on August 5, at which it will formally ask the judge to order the injunction.

Anonymous targets Apple, releases data

The hacking collective Anonymous claims to have broken into an Apple server and has published a small number of usernames and passwords online. Reuters reports that the group said via Twitter that “Apple could be [a] target, too,” but reassured users by saying “we are busy elsewhere.” Included in the message was a link to 27 usernames and passwords supposedly taken from the abs.apple.com website, which is used for online surveys. It is unclear whether the group has planned any attacks on more significant Apple services, such as iTunes or MobileMe.

Samsung files patent suit against Apple in Delaware

Alongside its ITC complaint, Samsung has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in federal court in Delaware. FOSS Patents reports that the suit covers the same five patents as the ITC complaint, which relate to CDMA and mobile packet data transmission, a method for dialing in a smartphone, storing and reproducing digital audio data, and manipulating and viewing digital documents. As noted in the report, such lawsuits—often referred to as “companion lawsuits”—are quite common, as the ITC can order an import ban, but cannot award damages. Should the ITC agree to investigate Samsung’s claims, this suit would likely be stayed until the ITC makes a ruling.

ITC issues mixed verdict in Kodak vs. Apple, RIM

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued a mixed verdict in Kodak’s patent dispute with Apple and RIM. The AP reports that the agency essentially agreed with one of its judges who threw out Kodak’s claims, but did find limited patent infringement, and sent some matters back to the judge for further review. The commission revised its definitions for “motion processor” and “still processor”, asking the judge to decide whether Kodak’s patent was infringed under the new definitions, and also found that Apple and RIM had infringed on a patent related to “initiating capture of a still image while previewing a motion image.” It did not rule on any penalties; a revised decision is expected no earlier than August 30.

Apple, Microsoft, RIM win Nortel patents for $4.5 billion

Nortel Networks has announced that it has ended its multi-day auction of all the company’s remaining patents and patent applications, with a multi-company consortium placing the winning bid of $4.5 billion. The consortium includes Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony. According to the press release, the sale includes more than 6,000 patents and patent applications “spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patents.” The sale will be subject to applicable Canadian and U.S. approvals to be sought at a joint hearing on July 11; the involved companies will work to close the sale in the third quarter of 2011.

“Following a very robust auction, we are pleased at the outcome of the auction of this extensive patent portfolio”, said George Riedel, Chief Strategy Officer and President of Business Units, Nortel. “The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world.”

Samsung files ITC complaint against Apple

Samsung has filed a complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the latest move in its ongoing legal battle with the Cupertino, CA-based iPhone-maker. The complaint covers “Mobile Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computer,” which FOSS Patents takes to mean that Samsung is seeking an import ban against the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The ITC has yet to agree to investigate the complaint, but should they do so—an outcome the report suggests is “pretty certain”—a final decision would be reached within 16 to 18 months.

Apple to announce Q3 2011 Earnings on July 19

Apple has revealed that it will announce its third fiscal quarter results on July 19. As usual, the release will be followed by a conference call to discuss the financial results, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. iLounge will be providing coverage of the call. Depending on the release date for OS X Lion, the call may serve as an announcement platform for first-week sales of the new operating system, and may also provide clues as to the launch schedules of iOS 5 and next-generation iPhones and iPods.

Apple to team with TSMC on A6 production?

Apple will tap Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to produce its next-gen “A6” ARM-based System-on-a-Chip sometime in 2012, according to a new report. Citing multiple sources inside the semiconductor industry, Ars Technica reports that the move is partially the result of increasing tension between Apple and Samsung, which are involved in a heated patent dispute with opposing lawsuits in multiple countries. As noted in the report, rumors of a partnership between Apple and TSMC date back to 2011, and it was been suggested that Apple was working with TSMC to move its mobile processors to the foundry’s 28nm process; Samsung currently produces the A5 chip using a 45nm process.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 2 with Wi-fi Sync

Apple has posted the second beta version of iOS 5. Available to paid iOS developers, the release—listed as build 9A5248d—includes support for Wi-Fi Sync. As noted by Mac Rumors, the release notes state, “In iOS 5.0 beta 2, wireless syncing is now available for the Mac. It requires iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and OS X 10.6.8 or Lion. You will see an option to enable wireless syncing when you connect your device to iTunes with the USB cable. It is recommended you perform your initial sync with a cable after restoring your device.”

The text continues, “Wireless syncing is triggered automatically when the device is connected to power and on the same network as the paired computer. Or, you can manually trigger a sync from iTunes or from Settings -> General -> iTunes Sync (same network as paired computer required). Be sure your device is plugged into a power source when performing Wireless syncs. If you find issues with apps, media and/or photos synced to your device, you can reset then resync. From Settings -> General -> Reset, choose Erase all Content and Settings. Then reconnect to iTunes and sync again. In this beta, iTunes may incorrectly report Photos as ‘Other’ in the capacity bar. Photo syncing otherwise works as expected.” In addition to iOS 5 beta 2, iTunes 10.5 beta 2 and Apple TV Software beta 2 have also been released; all three are available from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple posts MobileMe to iCloud FAQ

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Apple has posted a new frequently asked questions (FAQ) article regarding the transition from MobileMe to iCloud. The document confirms that users will be able to access iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Find My iPhone via the web at icloud.com after the service launches this fall. It also states that users will be able to keep their current .me or .mac email addresses, and move their MobileMe mail, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks to the new service, with further details to come once the iCloud service comes online. iWeb publishing, MobileMe Gallery, and iDisk services will not be available in iCloud, according to the FAQ; those services will be available until the June 30, 2012 MobileMe shutdown date.

ITC delays decision in Kodak vs. Apple, RIM

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced [PDF Link] that a final decision in Kodak’s patent infringement case against Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion will be delayed a week. The decision, which was expected yesterday, will now be handed down on June 30; no reason was given for the delay. In January, ITC Judge Paul Luckern said in his preliminary findings that Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry devices do not violate a Kodak patent covering a common image preview feature, however, those findings are still subject to review by the six-member commission, which will issue its final ruling next week.

Apple files suit against Samsung in South Korea

As part of its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung, Apple has filed a lawsuit against Samsung in its home country of South Korea. The Wall Street Journal reports that in its complaint, Apple makes the same product-copying clains that it made in its U.S. suit, namely that many of Samsung’s recent Android-based smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablets copy the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad, respectively. The report also notes the deep relationship between the two companies when its comes to components, as Apple is its largest customer when it comes to flash memory, microprocessors, and flat-panel screens.

Apple posts WWDC 2011 session videos

Apple has posted its complete library of session videos from its 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference. Available only to registered developers, the library includes 110 videos which cover a wide range of topics relating to iOS and OS X, including Game Center, iCloud, and AirPlay. The videos are available for viewing in Safari from developer.apple.com/videos, or as free downloads from iTunes.

Apple to join Bluetooth SIG board of directors

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced that Apple has joined its board of directors. According to the release, Apple, along with Nordic Semiconductor, will join Intel, Motorola, Lenovo, Nokia, Microsoft, Ericsson AB, and Toshiba on the Bluetooth SIG board. The release indicates that insight from Apple on platform development will help a smooth growth trajectory of Bluetooth v4.0 into the areas of hubs that capture data from small sensors and turn that data into useful information.

“We see the importance of platform development and ultra-low power sensor silicon for Bluetooth technology and believe guidance and board participation from Apple and Nordic, industry leaders in these perspective fields, is essential,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “We have set the ambitious goal of shipping five billion devices in 2015 – to get there we must continue to build a technology that will offer a simple and secure solution that can be found everywhere, in every type of device. These additions to our board will ensure we succeed in new markets we have targeted for growth.”

Apple receives regulatory approval for Nortel bid

Apple has received approval from U.S. antitrust regulators to bid for the assets of now-bankrupt Nortel Networks, according to a statement released by the Justice Department. Citing a person familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reports that the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department reviewed and approved Apple’s request to bid for a number of the defunct company’s patents, although it will continue to review any anticompetitive issues that could arise if an agreement is reached. Reuters reported last December that Apple was expected to bid on the patents, which pertain to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), optical and data networking, Internet video, Internet advertising, voice technologies, and personal computers.

Evidence of Apple mapping solution found in iOS 5

Evidence that Apple is building its own mapping service has been found in the first beta version of iOS 5. Mac Rumors reports that the legal disclaimers found in iOS 5 hold a new section called “Map Data,” which is separate from Google’s own legal terms for its map data. In the new section, references to various companies are found. Those companies include Core Logic, a company offering Parcel data that marks boundaries of properties for positional accuracy, Getchee, which offers positional and market data for the Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian markets, Increment P Corp, a company providing location and traffic data for Japan, MapData Sciences, which provides mapping data for Australia and New Zealand, and DMTI, which provides postal code data for Canada. The list also includes TomTom, which provides global TeleAtlas mapping data—also licensed by Google for its map solution—Urban Mapping, a company that provides in-depth neighborhood data and was a prior partner of PlaceBase, a mapping company acquired by Apple in 2007, and Waze, which offers real-time maps and traffic information based on crowd-sourced data.

What the inclusion of these companies in the iOS 5 legal disclaimers means for iOS 5 users is unclear, given Google’s claim that Apple has recently renewed its Map partnership with Google, however it appears that Apple is continuing to work on its own mapping service, even as it continues to include Google Maps in its iOS devices.

Apple hits ‘stumbling block’ in Amazon App Store suit

Apple is facing some difficulties in its suit to stop Amazon from using the “appstore” name for its Android application store. Reuters reports that District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said during a hearing yesterday that she would reread some of the supporting papers in the case, but added that Apple has a “stumbling block” in proving that anyone would confuse its App Store with Amazon’s Appstore for Android. As such, Hamilton did not make a final ruling, nor did she give any date as to when a ruling might be handed down. Apple sued Amazon over its use of the “App Store” trademark in March, claiming both trademark infringement and unfair competition. [via MDN]

Apple awarded comprehensive Multi-Touch interface patent

Apple has been awarded a broad, comprehensive Multi-Touch interface patent that experts believe may give it the upper hand in disputes with rivals. Entitled “Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content,” the patent describes a device with “a touch-sensitive display (also known as a ‘touch screen’) with a graphical user interface (GUI), one or more processors, memory and one or more modules, programs or sets of instructions stored in the memory for performing multiple functions. In some embodiments, the user interacts with the GUI primarily through finger contacts and gestures on the touch-sensitive display. In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.”

The patent is broad enough in its wording as to cover not only phones, but also tablets such as the iPad and media players like the iPod touch. In speaking with PC Magazine, Florian Mueller, author of FOSS Patents, indicated that the implications of the patent could be far-reaching. “This patent covers a kind of functionality without which it will be hard to build a competitive smartphone,” said Mueller. “Unless this patent becomes invalidated, it would allow Apple to stifle innovation and bully competitors.” The patent application was originally filed on December 19, 2007 and is credited to Francisco Ryan Tolmasky, Richard Williamson, Chris Blumenberg, and Patrick Lee Coffman.

Judge denies Samsung request for iPad 3, iPhone 5

Federal judge Lucy Koh has denied Samsung’s request for early access to product samples of the next-generation iPad and iPhone in its patent infringement case with Apple. According to FOSS Patents, Koh explained in her decision that while Samsung was entitled to “parity” in relation to Apple’s request for samples of certain unreleased devices, samples of those devices have been in circulation, while Apple has not yet announced any details of its next-generation iPhone or iPad. Despite the favorable ruling, the decision also contained a passage that the report suggests is a hint to Apple that it may not be able to get a preliminary injunction against the sale of the targeted Samsung products in the U.S. at this time.

“Samsung is free to argue, for instance, that there is little likelihood of confusion because consumers will not encounter its products side-by-side with the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, but rather with Apple’s next generation iPhone and iPad,” Koh said. “Similarly, as to proximity, Samsung is free to argue that because the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 will soon be outmoded and reduced in price, they are not being sold (or very soon will not be sold) to the same class of purchasers who are likely to buy new Samsung products. By choosing to allege infringement only of its current products, Apple opens itself up to these arguments.” The report goes on to suggest that Apple may wait until after it publicly announces the next-generation iPhone to proceed with an injunction request, at which time it could display the handset to the court and avoid any such issues.

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