Several members of the U.S. Army’s technology command recently visited Apple headquarters to discuss the use of Apple products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, in Army business and battlefield operations. Army.mil reports that Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general and key members of his staff traveled to Apple’s Cupertino, CA headquarters on March 5, touring the company’s facilities and discussing current military use of Apple products. “The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions and toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield,” Justice said. “We’re continuing to leverage commercial technology for battlefield uses; we can’t ignore that kind of existing knowledge. Our job, as stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar, is to adopt and adapt appropriate commercial technology and offer the best possible solution to the warfighter.”
Currently, the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center (CERDEC) is helping to develop and transition two iPhone applications, one used to collect information on counter-insurgency, and the other offering a combined planning and social networking environment. “Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual,” said Ron Szymanski, CERDEC’s lead computer scientist on the project. “The Army would like to leverage Apple’s experience when designing military applications.”
Apple may be planning to match Amazon’s $9.99 pricing on books featured in the New York Time’s Best Sellers lists, according to a new report. Citing a first-hand preview of the iBookstore, App Advice reports that 27 of the 32 books featured in the NYT Best Seller section were priced at $9.99, matching the pricing of Amazon.com’s Kindle bookstore. Notably, the number four best seller was missing from the list entirely, perhaps because Apple has not yet secured a deal with the book’s publisher; among the titles not priced at $9.99, the most expensive was $12.99. In addition, one book—The Help by Kathryn Stockett—was also featured on the screen during Apple’s iPad special event, and at that time was listed at $7.99, while most of the other titles were priced at $10.99 or higher. Curiously, the report closely follows a separate article citing pricing concerns as the reason why Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to offer its titles on the iBookstore.
USA Today, along with several other large companies, is preparing to run online advertisements specially-formatted for the iPad. The company will run its ads through mobile ad platform AdMarvel, which teamed up with rich media advertising firm PointRoll—owned by Gannett, which also owns USA Today—to create the ads. Max Mead, VP of business development at PointRoll, said that the iPad “has a large enough screen that you can do more with an ad. With an expandable ad, it’s almost the size of a sheet of paper or a desktop screen.” Mead said USA Today will join “an automaker, a large retailer, a large CPG conglomerate, and a pretty large hotel chain” in launching iPad-formatted ads. “You could very easily run pretty much the same ad as you do on the iPhone on the iPad,” explained Mead, “but that would not really be fully leveraging the potential…You have an opportunity on the iPad to do a lot more.” [via AppleInsider]
- March 24, 2010
Demand for the iPad among businesses may be higher than expected, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing a recent survey of 2,443 adult cell phone users carried out by Zogby International, the report states that more than half of those surveyed said they would use a tablet device such as the iPad for work. “It’s for business,” said Jim Turner, an information technology professional who recently ordered 15 iPads for his business, and plans to use the device for checking e-mail and taking notes while working on client computer systems. Although Apple itself demonstrated iPad versions of its iWork productivity applications at the device’s unveiling in January, it has mainly downplayed the iPad’s potential business appeal, instead focusing on features such as browsing, gaming, media playback, and reading. “Clearly, the iPad has a role to play in the business market,” said Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. “The demand appears to be far more diverse than I originally expected.”
Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to sell its books in the upcoming iBookstore over fears of the effect Apple’s pricing strategy could have on the pricing of electronic books. The Financial Times reports that Random House CEO Markus Dohle is not ruling out the possibility of reaching a deal with Apple before the iPad goes on sale April 3, but is moving carefully because of pricing concerns. Dohle said the new model poses “changes, in particular for our stakeholders,” that require the publisher to consult with its authors and agents before moving ahead with the deal. Hartmut Ostrowski, CEO of Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann, acknowledged the importance of the iPad and other electronic book readers in a recent press conference, stating that they are influencing the media sector “like nothing else.”
Marco Arment has released details on the upcoming iPad version of his popular Instapaper offline reading app. In a blog post on his site, Arment confirms that Instapaper is coming to the iPad “possibly even on day one.” The new design is described as very similar to Instapaper Pro with “slight interface tweaks and redesigns where appropriate.” The most significant visual changes have been made to the landscape view with the folders now appearing in a sidebar to the left of the main content listing. Arment mentions that he had originally planned to wait to release a native version of Instapaper until he actually had an iPad available to work with, however after seeing the pixel-doubled iPhone version in the iPad simulator he found it “completely unusable.” As a result he decided that a native iPad version was necessary sooner rather than later. Arment also plans to make Instapaper Pro a universal iPhone and iPad application as he doesn’t “want anyone subjecting themselves to the iPhone edition in pixel-doubled mode.” The universal version will be a free upgrade for existing Instapaper Pro users and will allow new users to use a single app on either the iPhone or iPad without having to purchase separate versions. Arment indicates that he plans to “experiment with more radical interface changes in the future” once he’s actually used an iPad, but he felt that having an iPad-native Instapaper app available at launch was more important than waiting to perfect the app. Additional details and screenshots can be found at the Instapaper Blog.
- March 23, 2010
According to a new survey conducted by comScore, the iPad equals the Amazon Kindle in consumer awareness, and appeals equally to consumers who own an iPhone or iPod touch and those who don’t. The survey of 2,176 Internet users found that 65% were aware of the iPad, the same number who were aware of the Amazon Kindle, and the numbers of those seriously considering a purchase in the next three months were also similar between the two devices, at 15% and 14%, respectively. The same percentage—15%—of respondents who currently own an iPhone or iPod touch are seriously considering purchasing an iPad in the next three months, suggesting that a prior purchase of an iPhone OS device does not increase a consumer’s likelihood of purchasing an iPad. When questioned about which iPad features and activities they would be most likely to use if they owned a device, only 37% said book reading—compared with 28% who said they would be “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to read books on the device. Internet browsing was the most popular choice, with 50% of respondents saying they would be “likely” or “very likely” to surf on the iPad, followed by 48% for email, and 38% who indicated they would likely listen to music.
In a brief reply to a customer email, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly confirmed that the iPhone will soon offer a universal email inbox. A TUAW reader asked Jobs “will iPhone ever have a universal mailbox just like Mail has on my Mac? It would be so much easier and efficient,” to which the notoriously terse CEO replied “Yep.” Notably, the email was apparently sent from an iPad, as was a reply to a separate inquiry asking whether there was a way to transfer Google Docs to an iPad using iWork.com or iDisk—Jobs responded positively to this question as well. Jobs has been known to respond to customers’ emails on occasion, normally with short, one sentence answers.
Perseus Books Group, the largest distributor of independent publishers, has signed a deal with Apple to offer its books on Apple’s upcoming iBookstore. The New York Times reports that Perseus is a large independent publisher itself, but also distributes works from 330 smaller companies including Grove Atlantic, Harvard Business School Press, Zagat and City Lights Books. “We’re working with Apple to make books from The Perseus Books Group and the independent publishers we represent available on the iBookstore starting on April 3,” David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, told the NYT. “As the leading provider of distribution services for independent publishers, including digital distribution through our Constellation digital service, Perseus is thrilled to be making our books available on the iPad.”
Update: Apple has also signed a deal with independent publisher Workman Publishing Company, responsible for the “What to Expect” series, novels like “Water for Elephants” and the Silver Palate cookbooks, to offer its books on the iBookstore.
Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are working on iPad-formatted versions of their iPhone book-reading applications, according to a New York Times report. “We have actually developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience,” said Ian Freed, vice president for Kindle at Amazon. “Our team had some fun with it.” Amazon’s Kindle app for iPhone will give users a new interface for browsing their book collection, and allow them to “slowly turn pages with their fingers,” while Barnes & Noble’s app will offers customizable font colors and sizes and quick finger-swipe page turning; the company has also been in talks with publishers about adding multimedia content to their digital books. Amazon has launched a new website highlighting its new Kindle apps for tablet computers, including the iPad.
The report also reiterates some of Apple’s secrecy guidelines for early iPad testers, which include Major League Baseball, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, while noting that some developers who haven’t yet had a chance to use an iPad are holding off until they can test their programs on the device itself. “As much as we’d love to be there on Day 1, a misstep could kill the train before it even gets out of the station,“ said Wade Slitkin, CEO of Panelfly, which makes a digital comic-book reader. Neither Amazon or Barnes & Noble plan on having their iPad apps ready for launch day, as neither was given a pre-release iPad for early testing, and both want to test their apps on an actual iPad before submitting their applications to Apple.
Apple is now offering discounted 10-pack iPad bundles to educational institutions. Mac Rumors reports that the new bundles are designed to offer minor discounts while also reducing packaging, as all ten iPads are shipped in a single box. Pricing on the bundles, which are currently available for Wi-Fi iPads only, starts at $4,790 for ten 16GB units with no AppleCare, and increases accordingly with AppleCare and higher capacities. Overall, the bundle pricing offers a $20 discount off of individual iPad units, and $40 off per iPad when purchased with AppleCare.
Apple has sent out an email to registered iPhone developers, informing them that the company is now accepting iPad application submissions. According to the email provided to iLounge, iPad apps submitted between now and March 27 will receive an “initial review” by the App Review Team, and developers will receive feedback on the app’s readiness for what the Apple is referring to as the “grand opening.” All submitted apps must be built and tested using iPhone SDK 3.2 beta 5, the latest version of the beta SDK; following submission, developers will receive an email with details about the readiness of their apps. Finally, developers will receive additional information about submitting their app for final review before the iPad ships, and only applications submitted for the initial review process will be considered for the grand opening of the “iPad App Store.” Apple will launch the iPad on April 3.
Apple is offering select developers an early hands-on testing period with the iPad, but only under highly-specific secrecy terms, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing people familiar with the 10-page agreement that must be signed by each developer wanting early access to an iPad unit, Apple is forcing developers to take extreme measures to ensure the secrecy of their pre-launch testing. According to the report, the iPad must be kept isolated in a room with blacked-out windows, and must also remain tethered to a fixed object to eliminate the possibility of it being taken out of the isolated environment. Furthermore, all developers wanting a pre-release iPad for testing must also provide photographic evidence of compliance with the above terms before Apple will send a unit out, and the developers are barred from revealing that they have been given a pre-release unit for testing. Apple will launch the iPad on April 3.
With just over two weeks remaining before the first iPads hit store shelves, Apple is still working to secure content deals for the iPad, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report states that Apple has had to pare back its initial ambitions for the iPad as securing content for the device has proven difficult. Reportedly, Apple has put on hold its effort to work with newspaper, magazine, and textbook publishers to bring new digital content to the iPad, in favor of focusing on other content deals, such as a price cut on TV shows from the iTunes Store. The report goes on to claim that Apple has faced difficulties signing deals with some content providers as the providers debate the advantages of working with Apple versus the possible threat it poses to current revenue streams. Apple will launch the iPad on April 3, with initial availability limited to Wi-Fi-only models; Wi-Fi + 3G versions will arrive later in the month.
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a location-based social networking service referred to as “iGroups.” The application describes a system through which multiple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch users at an event, meeting, or other gathering could exchange information automatically by having their devices exchange encrypted, location-tagged “tokens,” which would then be sent to a trusted service—such as Apple’s MobileMe—and used to determine that all the users were at the same place or event. Once this has taken place, the users could then send location information and messages amongst the group as they move about and experience the event, potentially facilitating discussions on where to meet after the event is over, and also making it possible to precisely locate non-GPS devices by determining their proximity to a GPS-enabled device using a short-range communications protocol such as Bluetooth. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]
China Mobile hopes to reach a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone, and possibly the iPad, in the near future, according to recent comments made by China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou. “We’re hoping we’ll come to an agreement (with Apple) on the iPhone as soon as possible,” he told AFP reporters at a news conference in Hong Kong. “We will continue to express our interest in the iPhone. But not just the iPhone, also the iPad.” China Mobile has reportedly been in talks with Apple about the iPhone since November 2007, but the negotiations have stalled multiple times over issues such as revenue sharing and App Store control. During this period, Apple reached an agreement with rival carrier China Unicom to carry the iPhone; Unicom launched the handset in China in October 2009.
Apple has released the fifth beta version of its iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. First released in January following the introduction of the iPad, the SDK is tailored specifically to the device, including support for its 1024x768 resolution, other iPad-specific interface functions, and includes an iPad simulator application so developers can pre-test their apps in an environment similar to that of the final device. It is unknown what, if any, changes were made in this latest version. The iPhone OS 3.2 SDK beta 5 for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.
Apple has launched a number of new enhancements to its iWork.com beta Web-based document sharing service, including improved access on iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad devices. Mac Rumors reports that an email sent out to iWork.com users touts a redesigned user interface, which includes “a redesigned Sign In and Shared Documents page for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch [that] makes it easy to access your documents while on the go. The new interface and improved scrolling help you find your shared documents faster.” To access the new features, users can visit iwork.com from their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
Daniel Tello, a Venezuelan blogger and analyst, estimates that Apple saw as many as 120,000 iPad pre-orders on Friday. Tello, who goes by the screen name Deagol, bases his number on tracking of order numbers submitted by members of an Apple-focused board on the site InvestorVillage, compared against his estimates of Apple’s average online daily order volume. Fortune reports that Tello is expecting iPad sales to continue over the next few weeks at a rate of 30,000 per weekday and 15,000 on weekends. “With three weeks and two weekends left before they ship, I wouldn’t expect much more than half a million in pre-orders and reservations,” Tello said. Notably, Tello’s figures don’t take into account orders with more than one iPad, nor do they account for iPads that have been reserved for pick up and purchase on launch day. While these figures are by no means definitive, they do provide a general glimpse at iPad sales leading up to the device’s launch on April 3.
Mobile advertising network Mobclix has released a new iPad-specific software development kit to enable developers to integrate advertising into their iPad apps. The new SDK allows developers to integrate video and rich media ads into their apps in four different sizes: 468x60, 300x250, 120x600 and 728x90, with more options to come. The Mobclix iPad SDK is available for download from the Mobclix Developer Dashboard (free registration required). [via TechCrunch]