Apple has said in a statement that it is “saddened and upset” by the recent suicides at manufacturing partner Foxconn. Reuters reports that Apple’s comments come as Foxconn and its parent company Hon Hai are launching a PR campaign to counter growing concerns about the company’s handling of its employees. “We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn,” Apple said in a statement. “We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously. A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made.”
Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou has also spoken out about his concern over the ongoing employee suicides, with nine so far this year. “I’m very concerned about this. I can’t sleep every night,” said Gou. “From a scientific point of view, I’m not confident we can stop every case. But, as a responsible employer, we have to take up the responsibility of preventing as many as we can.” Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.
Apple has signed an agreement with DSGi to sell the iPad in the U.K. at 139 Currys, PC World, and Dixons Travel outlet shops from launch, 60 days before rivals Comet, Tesco, John Lewis, and the Carphone Warehouse. The Times Online, citing an internal DSGi staff memo, reports that the iPad will go on sale at 9 a.m. local time Friday in 70 PC World stores, 28 Curry shops, 22 Dixons Travel outlets, and 19 combined PC World/Currys stores. The memo also said that “[d]emand is expected to be high, mirroring what happened in the US,” and added that a detailed list of which stores will be offering the tablet will be posted online this week. Apple began taking online iPad pre-orders, the initial allotment of which quickly sold out, on May 10 in the U.K., but otherwise only operates 27 of its own stores in the region, hence the need for a third-party retail launch partner in addition to the country’s Apple Premium Resellers.
According to a report from Italian language iPadevice (Translated Link), Apple has begun populating the iBookstores of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK ahead of next week’s iPad launch. According to the report, all of the currently listed books in Italy are from the free Project Gutenberg library, and while only one book—The Devine Comedy: Inferno—is available thus far in Italian, the total number of books on the store already tops 10,000, with placeholder pages set up for poetry, biographies and memoirs, philosophy, fiction and literature, and more. Apple will launch the iPad in the nine countries listed above on Friday, May 28.
Both models of the iPad remain sold out or in short supply across the U.S. heading into the device’s launch in nine countries next week. Citing a note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, AppleInsider reports that out 50 Apple retail stores contacted, 74% were sold out of all models of iPad, with the iPad with Wi-Fi available at 24%, and no iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G units available at any of the stores. The report notes that the shortages have been ongoing since the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G’s launch on April 30. In response, Apple retail stores have begun placing interested customers’ names on a waiting list, which then sees the store hold an iPad for up to 24 hours when their name comes up. According to the report, the wait for an iPad after being placed on one of these lists is typically 4-7 days, besting the 7-10 days quoted on Apple’s online store. Apple will launch the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK on Friday, May 28.
A number of designers are being asked by their clients to ensure that their websites are iPhone- and iPad-compatible, forcing them to abandon Flash for development use in those cases, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Since the iPad came out we’ve had a lot of clients say that they just don’t want Flash on their sites,” said Chantelle Simoes, vice president at CA-based Ninth Degree Inc., which has built websites for Sanyo and NASA. She added that should the trend continue, the 10-person firm will need to hire workers experienced in iPhone development. The report cites several other cases in which designers and companies have needed to look beyond Flash to reach iPhone and iPad users, including Sports Illustrated, which recently launched a new web app built on HTML5 technologies. “We’re going forward on more than one front,” said Terry McDonnell, editor of Sports Illustrated Group. “The last thing that we want to do is make some decision that we’re not sure about.” Cruise line company Carnival launched a new, Flash-free home page last year due to the iPhone, and is unlikely to continue using Adobe’s tech on other projects due to Apple’s stance. “The iPhone and iPad have made us take a look at alternatives” to publishing in Flash, said Jordan Corredera, director and general manager of Carnival’s online business.
According to the results of the latest ChangeWave survey, consumer demand for the iPad has risen since the device’s launch. According to the company’s May survey of 3,174 consumers, 7% of respondents said they were very likely to buy the iPad, while another 13% said they were somewhat likely. These numbers compare favorably to February’s pre-launch survey, which found 4% of respondents very likely to purchase and 9% somewhat likely to buy an iPad. Among the 245 respondents who said they own an eBook reader, 16% said they owned an iPad, which was second only to the 62% who said they owned an Amazon Kindle. The survey also iPad owners more likely to read newspapers and magazines on the device than owners of competing eBook readers, with 50% saying they read newspapers and 38% who read magazines on their iPads, compared with just 14% and 11%, respectively, for owners of other eBook readers.
Among the 153 iPad owners surveyed, a vast majority said they were satisfied with the device. 74% said they were very satisfied, followed by another 17% who said they were somewhat satisfied. One percent each said they were either somewhat or very unsatisfied, while 8% said they didn’t know. When asked what they liked best about their iPads, 21% of owners said the quality and size of the screen, followed by 15% who cited ease of use, 12% who liked the overall size and weight the best, and 10% who most liked the device’s portability. When asked to name dislikes, the iPad’s lack of Flash was tops with 11% of responses, followed by 9% each citing Internet connectivity issues and the need to constantly wipe the screen. Finally, when asked to pick the five things they use the iPad for the most, 83% of respondents said surfing the Internet, followed by 71% who said checking their email, and 56% who said they used apps from the App Store.
The first European iPad has been unboxed, and Italian site iPadItalia has posted photos of the unit’s unboxing. As noted in the article (Translated Link), the packaging is largely identical to that seen in the U.S., apart from Italian language inserts and the power supply; the included USB to 30-pin cable was strangely missing from the shots. It is unclear from where the device was obtained, however, a commenter claimed that the site “can not disclose anything.” Apple will launch the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK on Friday, May 28.
Apple has reversed its policy of not accepting cash for iPad purchases following a customer complaint that garnered regional attention. Diane Campbell, a disabled San Francisco-area woman, had saved up $600 to purchase an iPad only to be told at the company’s Palo Alto retail store that it was company policy to only accept credit/debit cards for iPad purchases. The policy was intended to help enforce Apple’s two-per-person iPad purchase policy.
Following her experience, Campbell took her story to ABC 7 in San Francisco, where it was picked up by a consumer advocate reporter. After the TV segment aired, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson contacted the reporter to let him know that the company had “made a decision today to change” its purchase policy and will now accept cash for iPad purchases. Johnson said that cash purchasers would be required to register their iPad before they leave the store. As for Campbell, Johnson said, “We all would love people like Diane to get an iPad, so I called her up and she was very excited, and we’re actually on our way to deliver an iPad to her house”—for free. After a pair of Apple employees arrived at her home to present her with the iPad, Campbell said, “What I would like to say to Steve is thank you.”
In an atypically lengthy email exchange with Valleywag editor Ryan Tate, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments explaining and defending his company’s stance relating to third-party iPhone OS development. Tate, incensed by Apple’s latest iPad commercial, wrote Jobs asking whether a 20-year-old Bob Dylan—often cited as an inspiration for Jobs—would think the iPad had anything to do with a “revolution,” stating that “[r]evolutions are about freedom.” Jobs responded positively, saying it represents freedom from “programs that steal your private data” and “trash your battery” and “[f]reedom from porn.” Quoting Dylan, Jobs added, “The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.”
When Tate commented that he’d “rather have a Wired magazine app that offers interactivity [referencing the mag’s demo app built on Adobe Air] than one that is a glorified PDF,” Jobs responded that “Wired is doing a native Cocoa app,” as is “almost every publisher.” Tate then argued that they were only making native Cocoa apps because they have to, to which Jobs replied that “they don’t have to. They don’t need to publish on the iPad if they don’t want to. No one is forcing them. But it appears they DO want to.” He continued, “The magazine apps will be far better in the end because they are written native. We’ve seen this movie before.” After another round of replies from Tate, Jobs summed up in his final email, “we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.”
Apple has offered some clarification on the situation regarding the SIM lock on iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G units sold in Japan. It was originally reported that all iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models sold in Japan would be SIM-locked to SoftBank. Only a few days later, according to a Mobile in Japan article, Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded to a customer email by saying that “[a]ctually, the version of iPad sold in Japan does accept international SIMs.” This was contradicted by information on Apple’s own website, which stated that users could not use a micro SIM from another country in iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G units purchased in Japan. Apple has since told the Wall Street Journal that Japanese iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models will only work with SoftBank in Japan but are unlocked for use with other carriers abroad; whether or not iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G units purchased outside of Japan will work in Japan will depend on the roaming agreement of the user’s carrier.
Wireless roaming service provider Maxroam has debuted its new Euro iPad Pack micro SIM card for travelling iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G users. The pack includes a micro SIM preloaded with 50MB of data good for use anywhere in Europe. Once the 50MB cap is reached, users can recharge the card with 10MB of data for €25 or 50MB for €75. Maxroam’s Euro iPad Pack micro SIM is available for pre-order now and will ship June 1 for €75.
Luxury goods maker Stuart Hughes has introduced its new solid gold iPad “Supreme Edition.” This modified 64GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G features a rear plate and screen surround made from a solid piece of 22ct gold, weighing over 4.6 lbs. In addition, the device’s Apple logo is encrusted with a total of total of 53 Flawless diamonds comprising a total weight of 25.5 crts. Limited to just ten units worldwide, Stuart Hughes’ solid gold iPad “Supreme Edition” is available now and sells for £129,995, or roughly $190,000.
Editor’s Advisory: Though Stuart Hughes’ offerings are of only the most modest interest to our readers, we need to strongly warn you against signing up for any email newsletters or similar offerings from this company; iLounge has had trouble for literally years attempting to opt-out of this company’s mailings, and now receives multiple copies of the same emails over and over again, despite repeated requests for removal. Beware.
Apple has released updates to its iWork suite of applications for the iPad. The updates generally improve performance and reliability across all three applications and improve compatibility with importing and exporting Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents in their respective applications. The updates also add support for French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. Pages 1.1 now displays the toolbar and ruler and automatically fits documents to the page width when working in landscape orientation. Numbers 1.1 improves reliability when importing Numbers ‘09 spreadsheets and improves compatibility with pasting information in from Keynote and Pages. Keynote 1.1 now provides an option to show additional alignment guides at smaller intervals when moving items and improves reliability with Keynote ‘09 and Microsoft Powerpoint presentations. All three iWork applications remain available on the U.S. App Store only at this time, are priced at $10 each and are a free update for existing users.
Wal-Mart may begin offering the iPad in its stores before the end of the year, according to statements made by a company executive. “We anticipate being able to have the iPad later this year,” Gary Severson, senior vice president of entertainment for Wal-Mart’s U.S. stores, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. Severson declined to offer any timing or pricing details. His statement comes as the retailer plans a move to add more consumer electronics offerings—including Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, mobile phones, and routers—to its stores in an effort to attract more tech-savvy customers. Apple has yet to announce any distribution expansion plans for the iPad past its own retail stores, some Best Buy stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers and campus bookstores.
Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn recently needed to defend itself against allegations of employee mistreatment following a rash of employee suicides. The Daily News reports that a 24-year-old Foxconn worker named Chu recently threw herself from her rented apartment in Shenzhen, marking the eighth Foxconn employee suicide this year. “We regret to see the recurrence of such incidents,” Foxconn said in statement. According to the article, Foxconn employs roughly 300,000 workers at its Shenzhen complex, where a 24-year-old male worker leaped to his death less than two weeks ago. The company came under fire last year for its employee treatment following the suicide of 25-year-old Sun Danyong, who reportedly lost a prototype iPhone prior to his death. Foxconn is an Apple manufacturing partner on the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac product lines.
Apple has posted its latest iPad television ad online. Beginning with the question “What is iPad?,” the 30-second spot goes on to call the device “thin” and “beautiful,” saying it “goes anywhere and lasts all day.” While showing the device’s automatic screen reorientation, the ad says “there’s no right way or wrong way,” before exclaiming that the iPad is “crazy powerful” and “magical.” The ad claims that “you already know how to use it,” describing it as “200,000 apps and counting,” “all the world’s websites in your hands,” “video,” “photos,” and “more books than you could read in a lifetime.” The claim that “it’s already a revolution, and it’s only just begun” closes the advertisement, which features a male narrator and “Gold Lion” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the background. As noted by Mac Rumors, the ad also pays homage to a prior Apple advertisement for the Newton PDA. The “What is iPad” ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
3 (Translated Link) and Vodafone have announced their data plans and pricing for the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G in Italy. 3 customers will be able to purchase a micro SIM for €3, which will include 3GB of data good for 30 days at no extra charge; after the first 30 days, 3GB of data will run €5 monthly, with overages charges at the rate €2 per 100MB. Vodafone is offering a pair of plans, one offering 500MB of data per day for €2, and one offering “unlimited” access for €30 per month; it appears the latter plan will be capped at 500MB per day, with both plans falling back to 64kbps once the cap is reached. [via setteB.IT]
Optus has announced its iPad data plan pricing and details for the Australian market. For pre-paid users, Optus is offering a wide range of options, starting with a $30(AUS) SIM Starter Kit that includes 2GB of data, plus an extra 1GB of bonus data—included with every pre-paid plan—for a total of 3GB of data use over 30 days. After picking up the SIM pack, users can choose from plans that run for 15 days—one for $15(AUS) plan that includes 500MB of data or a $20(AUS) plan that includes 1GB of data—or plans that run for 30 days—including a $30(AUS) plan that offers 3GB of data, a $40(AUS) plan with 4GB of data, and a $50(AUS) plan with 5GB of data. 60 plans will also be offered, including 9GB of data for $70(AUS), 12GB of data for $100(AUS), or 14GB of data for $130(AUS); a lone 186 day plan, including 8GB of data for $80(AUS), rounds out the pre-paid options. Post-paid customers, who will be able to cancel anytime with no cancellation fee, can choose between monthly plans of 2GB of data for $20(AUS), 3GB for $30(AUS), or 8GB for $60(AUS). [Thanks, Albert | via IT Wire]
HTC announced today that it has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), outlining five HTC patents it believes Apple infringes upon with its iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. “As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation that offer consumers the best, most accessible mobile experiences possible,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of North America, HTC Corporation. “We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones.” HTC is requesting that the ITC “halt the importation and sale of the iPhone, iPad and iPod in the United States.”
Update: According to a copy of HTC’s complaint to the ITC obtained by iLounge, the five patents cited by HTC “relate generally to hardware and software used to implement telephone directories within mobile telephone systems,” as well as “power management methods implemented in portable electronic devices.”
Verizon Wireless is working with Google to develop a tablet computer that would compete directly with the iPad. The Wall Street Journal reports that the development was confirmed by Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam, who declined to discuss details on the timing or manufacturer of such a device. “What do we think the next big wave of opportunities are?” Mr. McAdam said in an interview. “We’re working on tablets together, for example. We’re looking at all the things Google has in its archives that we could put on a tablet to make it a great experience.” Google declined to comment on the WSJ article, apart from saying that anyone can use its mobile software to create phones and other devices.