Following a rash of suicides that has drawn widespread attention, Apple will soon begin paying direct subsidies to Foxconn employees involved with manufacturing the company’s products in an effort to improve employee happiness. Citing unnamed sources, Chinese-language Zol.com reports (Translated Link) that Apple already pays Foxconn 2.3% of final product prices, but will expand this by paying an additional amount, reportedly in the 1-2% range, directly to the employees, subsidizing their current $132 monthly salary. The report also claims that the subsidies will initially be paid to iPad product line employees; no mention is made of if or when the additional payments might be extended to employees involved in the manufacture of other products such as the iPhone and iPod. [via Engadget]
Following the initial international release of the iPad this past weekend, Apple has announced that it has sold over two million iPads—a milestone reached in “less than 60 days,” according to the company. “Customers around the world are experiencing the magic of iPad, and seem to be loving it as much as we do,” read a press release quoting Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “We appreciate their patience, and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”
The release comes at a time when iPad sell-outs are common throughout the United States, which saw separate launches of the iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G in April. While the iPad with Wi-Fi was widely available in Apple Stores following its debut, waiting lines developed at Apple Stores soon thereafter as demand began to exceed supply, and have continued in certain parts of the country for weeks. Apple Stores now take non-binding reservations for iPad hardware, and suggest ordering online for fastest fulfillment, which takes between one and two weeks from the date of order.
The rush of new iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G owners looking to activate their devices has brought down the activation server of Vodafone UK. Macworld UK reports that a Vodafone call center said “the server has now been down for a couple of hours” and that the company currently can’t activate any Micro SIM devices. Both Vodafone and Orange in the UK require iPad users to call in for activation, while O2 customers can activate their service from within the iPad itself, similar to how AT&T activation operates in the U.S. Vodafone has thus far been unable to offer an estimated time when its system might be back up and running.
Apple today officially launched the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. iPadevice has posted photos from the device’s launch in Italy, while SetteB.IT has posted a video from the Italian launch as well as photos from the Apple Store in Osaka, Japan. MacPlus has posted video from the Apple Store Louvre in Paris, France, and iFun.de has posted a picture from the device’s German launch. More information on international iPad pricing and data plans can be found in our Complete Guide to International iPad Pricing + Service Providers.
NBC and Time Warner have told Apple that they won’t be converting their online videos to the iPhone- and iPad-friendly H.264 format, according to a New York Post report. Citing unnamed sources, the report claims that Time Warner, NBC Universal, and several other large media companies have said they will not convert their video libraries over to a non-Flash format, citing expense and the fact that most other devices support Adobe’s software. The report also claims that the media companies feel they are in a better negotiating position following the announcement of Google TV, and the expected launch of Flash-compatible tablets from companies such as Dell and HP. Notably, CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, has reformatted its online videos to be iPhone- and iPad-compatible, and is listed on Apple’s page of “iPad ready” websites, alongside fellow Time Warner property Sports Illustrated.
A number of iPad customers who pre-ordered their devices have received their iPads early. TUAW reports that it has received tips from readers in Germany, Italy, and the UK that their iPads have already arrived; it is likely that some customers in other international launch countries may have already received their units, as well. Apple will officially launch the iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK tomorrow, Friday, May 28.
The number of devices in the United States running Google’s Android operating system is closing in on the number of iPhones in the country, according to AdMob’s April 2010 Mobile Metrics Report (PDF LInk). As of April, AdMob saw requests from 10.7 million unique iPhones, compared to 8.7 million Android devices. When the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, they amount to 18.3 million devices. The situation is not the same worldwide, however. Globally, AdMob saw requests from 11.6 million unique Android devices, compared to 27.4 million iPhones. Again, when the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are taken together, this number is much higher—40.8 million globally. Overall, only 44% of iPhone OS requests are from the U.S, compared to 75% for Android. AdMob’s metrics are based on its advertising network of more than 23,000 mobile websites and applications around the world.
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.