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Report: China Unicom 8GB iPhone, $366 plus 2-year contract

China Unicom plans to charge 2,500 yuan, or roughly $366, for the 8GB iPhone 3G when it launches the device in China, according to a new report. Chinese-language cnBeta reports (Translated Link) that the company will be offering that price with a two-year contract agreement, at a minimum monthly rate of 186 yuan, or roughly $27. Based on numbers reported in an earlier article, this would place the iPhone 3G below the cost of most high-end phones on the Chinese market, but above the cost of non-smartphones; the monthly charge would be roughly four to five times current average monthly service fees. The report also suggests that pricing could possibly be adjusted before the official announcement, and does not offer any specifics on whether 16GB or 32GB models will be offered. According to a Reuters report, an official announcement regarding the Apple and China Unicom deal could come as soon as tomorrow.

Report: iPod touch users grab 2x free apps vs. iPhoners

According to survey data released by mobile advertising firm AdMob alongside its July Mobile Metrics Report, iPod touch users download twice as many free applications as iPhone and Android users. The survey focused on comparing the application usage behavior of users of all three devices. Most often, users said they discover new apps by browsing on the App Store or Android Market and through direct searches, and over 90% of these users said they do so directly from their device, and not through the computer. While average Android and iPhone users download between 9-10 new apps every month, iPod touch users download 18, and spend an average of half an hour more—two hours versus one and a half—using apps each day.

In addition, more than twice as many iPhone and iPod touch users indicated they purchase at least one paid app per month compared to users of Android, although the average amount spent per month among users who do purchase apps is similar across platforms, with iPhone and iPod touch users spending $9.49 and $9.79, respectively, and Android users spending $8.63. Finally, based on percentage of users purchasing apps, average monthly spending, and installed base, the report states that the market for paid App Store applications is roughly 40 times that of Android Market, at $198 million to $5 million, respectively. Of note is the fact that the data is based on a survey of over 1,000 iPhone, iPod touch, and Android users, which may be too small to generalize to the broader user populations of these devices.

iPhone growth potential from China high, but subsidy key

In a lengthy article discussing Apple’s negotiations with China Unicom to offer the iPhone in China, the Wall Street Journal revealed some new data on the iPhone’s sales and potential for success overseas. According to data from research firm IDC, iPhone sales numbers depend heavily on the U.S. market, which accounts for 49% of worldwide sales, compared to 25% for Western Europe, and just 7% for the Asia Pacific region, which includes Australia, Hong Kong, and India. Analysts believe that entering the Chinese market, which boasts over 685 million mobile subscribers compared to just 270 million in the U.S., could be key for future iPhone sales growth, although sales will likely depend considerably on the subsidy China Unicom provides. Xiang Ligang, CEO of the Chinese telecom news publication cctime.com, estimates 100 million Chinese mobile users switch phones every year, with 20 million of those purchasing high-end mobile phones, representing a large potential market for Apple. Though the average purchase price of a cell phone is roughly $160 in China, high-end phones typically cost roughly $440. Subsidies can be a serious problem, as average monthly service revenues are less than 1/10 of the $60 per month received by AT&T.

Earlier this month China Unicom denied a report from which claimed that it had signed an agreement with Apple to purchase 5 million iPhones to sell in China, saying, “[t]alks between us and Apple have been going on for some time, but no agreement has been reached yet. There are all kinds of possibilities. There is no particular timetable for the talks.”

More iPhone cracking incidents reported in France

The number of French iPhone owners reporting incidents of cracked or “exploding” screens has risen to at least eight, new reports suggest. According to the BBC News, eight individual customers have been identified in France, with similar problems being reported in both Holland and Sweden. Meanwhile, our friends at iGeneration have pointed us towards this map (Translated Link), which shows nine total reports of exploding or cracking iPhones within France.

The posting notes that the testimonies given by the individual customers are not identical, with some experiencing the problem during use, others having the phone’s screen crack while idle, and some getting hit by debris, while others did not. A member of iGeneration’s forums has posted a theory suggesting battery heat-induced warping of the iPhone frame, but no official reason has been given by Apple, which is waiting for the damaged units to arrive for further testing. “We are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers,” said Alan Hely, head of European Communications for Apple. “Until we have the full details, we don’t have anything further to add.”

Second iPhone explodes in France

A second iPhone has exploded in France, according to a new report. AFP states that a French security guard was injured Monday afternoon when his iPhone’s glass screen exploded while he was typing a text message, sending shards of glass into his eye. “I want an explanation about this damned telephone,” said Yassine Bouhadi, a 26-year-old supermarket watchman, who bought his iPhone three months ago. Bouhadi said he was “very angry” over the incident, and plans to see a doctor as well as file suit for damages. France’s official DGCCRF consumer watchdog agency said that an investigation into the exploding iPhones has been launched, adding, “We have been alerted to the problem and we are looking into it closely.” Less than two weeks ago a French teen was also hit in the eye by debris from an exploding iPhone, an incident which followed a report of an English girl’s iPod touch exploding; no one was injured in the latter incident.

Apple posts new iPhone 3GS TV ad

Apple recently began running a new television ad for the iPhone 3GS. Entitled “Avid,” the commercial focuses on three applications—Golfshot: Golf GPS, MLB.com At Bat 2009, and TouchSports Tennis ‘09—for the avid golf golfer, baseball fan, and tennis player. Like most recent iPhone commercials, the ad features the apps running on an iPhone in front of a white background. The new advertisement is now available for view on Apple’s online iPhone ad gallery.

Apple posts response to FCC Google Voice inquiry

Apple has posted a comprehensive document discussing its answers to the FCC’s inquiry into why it supposedly rejected an official Google Voice application for the iPhone. Entitled “Apple Answers the FCC’s Questions,” the post touches on several broad App Store issues, including standards for considering and approving iPhone applications, the approval process itself, other applications that have been rejected, and AT&T’s role in the approval of iPhone applications, as well as specifics about the Google Voice rejection. Apple denies that it has rejected the applicaiton outright, saying that it “continues to study it,” while making comparisons to the functionality it provides and the iPhone’s built-in Phone and Messaging apps, and notes that “Google is of course free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple’s Safari browser, just as they do for desktop PCs, or to provide its ‘Google-branded’ user experience on other phones, including Android-based phones, and let consumers make their choices.”

The company also states that it is acting alone and had not consulted AT&T about the Google Voice application, and that only Apple’s agreement to block VoIP apps over AT&T’s network, AT&T’s Terms of Service, and occassional concerns from AT&T about network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications have affected its app review policy, noting that it “alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications.” It goes on to list representative applications that have been rejected as originally submitted, and says that “[t]here are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly.” Apple also says it has “established an App Store executive review board that determines procedures and sets policy for the review process, as well as reviews applications that are escalated to the board because they raise new or complex issues. The review board meets weekly and is comprised of senior management with responsibilities for the App Store.”

AT&T: We had no role in Google Voice rejection

In its response to a letter from the Federal Communications Commission questioning why Apple rejected an official Google Voice application for the iPhone, an AT&T executive claims the company had no say in Apple’s decision. “Let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs. “AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other.” Responses to the FCC letters, which were sent to Apple, AT&T, and Google, were due today.

Canadian Palm Pre ad apes Apple’s iPhone spots

A new TV advertisement for the Palm Pre running on Canadian carrier Bell appears to have been modeled on Apple’s long-running series of app-focused iPhone commercials. Like the Apple ads, the new Pre spot shows the device against a white backdrop, while an unseen person holds and demonstrates different features of the device and a modern pop song plays in the background. Continue reading to watch an embedded version of the ad. [via Engadget]

iPhone 3GS capable of 720p, 1080p hi-def playback?

A forum post to Chinese-language site weiphone.com (Translated Link) indicates that the iPhone 3GS is capable of playing back both 720p and 1080p video encoded in H.264 through the built-in video player, suggesting that Apple is currently placing arbitrary limits on the device, either to preserve battery life or keep its functionality more consistent with that of prior iPhone OS devices. Using the free document storage and viewing application FileAid, forum member fridtear was able to circumvent Apple’s video restrictions, smoothly playing back files up to 30 Mbps in 1920x1080 resolution via the iPhone 3GS’ built-in video player. While the effects on the device’s temperature and battery of playing back such large video files is unclear, these tests do appear to indicate that Apple would be able to open up the 3GS and any similarly-appointed future iPhone OS devices to playback of HD video files purchased from the iTunes Store, and potentially allow the devices to output HD-quality video via the Component AV Cable for iPod and iPhone.

iPhone supply dwindling in Canada?

The supply of iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS units is running low in Canada’s Rogers Wireless and Fido stores, according to a new report. The Globe and Mail reports that Apple is shipping only limited supplies to Rogers, which claims to be out of both models. “We are out of stock and still taking orders as our inventory continues to come in week to week,” Rogers spokeswoman Liz Hamilton said. “While we have continuous incoming inventory, we are filling back orders on a priority basis and we appreciate the enthusiasm and patience of our customers.” The report notes that several of Apple’s 11 Canadian retail stores report stock of the iPhone, and that some other international markets, including Australia, also appear to have run out of the handset. [via MDN]

AT&T begins 850MHz network buildup

AT&T has begun to roll out its 850MHz spectrum in hopes to improve its 3G coverage in densely populated areas. Mobiledia reports that the company has said it will start the rollout in Atlanta, eventually adding more than 540 cell sites to increase network capacity and coverage. Keith Holmes, AT&T’s vice president and general manager, said, “We’re enhancing our network every day to help customers do more with and get more from their wireless connections.” An anecdotal report from TechCrunch indicates that upgrades may also be underway in San Francisco, as editors and contacts have seen improved coverage in that area; an AT&T representative told the publication that “improvements are underway,” and that “[m]ost of this is 850MHz spectrum being added.”

Apple investigating exploding iPhone OS devices

Apple is currently investigating reports of an exploding iPhone and iPod touch in Europe, according a European Commission spokeswoman. Reuters reports that Apple told the EU it considers the reported incidents isolated. “Apple have come back to us ... and what they’ve said to us is that they consider these are isolated incidents. They don’t consider that there’s a general problem,” Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said during a news briefing. “They’re trying to get more information on the specific details of those incidents (reported in the media) and they will do tests as necessary to investigate the possible cause.” While Apple did not comment on Kearns’ remarks, an Apple Europe spokesman did say that “[w]e are aware of these (media) reports and we are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers. Until we have the full details, we don’t have anything further to add.”

Last week a report emerged claiming that a French teen was injured when his girlfriend’s iPhone exploded nearby; this followed a report from earlier this month that a U.K. girl’s iPod touch exploded after being dropped.

Apple, AT&T hit with iPhone MMS lawsuits

Apple and its carrier partner AT&T have been hit with two separate yet identical class-action lawsuits over the iPhone’s current lack of MMS support in the U.S. Although filed by different groups in different U.S. District Courts—the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Louisiana—both suits use identical language, alleging that Apple heavily advertised both the iPhone 3G and 3GS as offering MMS, “in and on television, the Internet, radio, newspapers, and direct mailers.” The suits also claim that they downloaded the iPhone OS 3.0 update expecting MMS support to be included, despite a very clear statement from Apple Senior Vice President of iPhone Software Scott Forstall, who said during the company’s 2009 Keynote, “MMS requires carrier support as well. Twenty-nine of our carrier partners in 76 countries around the world will support MMS at the launch of iPhone OS 3.0. in the United States, AT&T will be ready to support MMS later this summer.” The Louisiana suit claims at least 10,000 individuals are to be included the complaint, while the Illinois suit claims at least 100,000; both are requesting individual plaintiff damages for the iPhone 3G or 3GS purchased, between $100 and $500 each.

French teen injured by exploding iPhone

A French teenager has been injured by an “exploding” iPhone, less than two weeks after a report emerged accusing the company of trying to silence the victims of a similar incident involving an iPod touch. The teen’s mother claims that her son was near his girlfriend’s iPhone when it began to make a hissing noise, after which the screen suddenly broke, sending pieces of glass flying, at least one of which struck the teen in the eye. “My son was frightened but he did not lose an eye,” Marie-Dominique Kolega told AFP. The woman has contacted Apple over the incident, but it is unclear whether the company has responded.

China Unicom signs on for 5 million iPhones

China Unicom has reached an agreement with Apple to buy 5 million iPhones, with the first units set to go on sale in mainland China in September. Citing a CBN news article, International Business Times reports that the carrier has already paid Apple 10 billion yuan, or roughly $1.46 billion, for 5 million WCDMA iPhones, in both 8GB and 16GB varieties. The September rollout has been confirmed by Zhou Youmeng, vice general manager of China Unicom, who said the phone will initially be available at China Unicom 3G sections in retail partner Carrefour stores, and some large retail outlets run by the company. As to pricing, Yu Zaonan, general manager of customer development for China Unicom, said, “[t]he price of the 8G standard iPhone is set at about 2,400 yuan and the 16G may be sold at 4,800 yuan.” Currently, 2,400 yuan is the equivalent of roughly $350, making 4,800 yuan the equivalent of about $700.

More evidence of 8GB iPhone 3GS appears on Rogers site

More evidence of an upcoming 8GB iPhone 3GS model has appeared on Rogers Wireless’ website. Under the “iPhone Comparison” tab on Rogers’ iPhone 3GS mini-site, the company has posted a comparison chart for the iPhone 3G and 3GS which shows an 8GB option listed for both models. Curiously, the chart appears to be the only current reference to an 8GB iPhone 3GS on the site, which otherwise notes that the 3GS starts at $199 for a 16GB model. Screenshots published last week suggested that the company is working to sell out its existing stock of 8GB iPhone 3G units in preparation for the arrival of the new low-end 3GS. [via Mac Rumors]

iPhone headed to Korea on KT

Korean network operator KT has confirmed that it plans to offer the iPhone in the country. Kim Yeon-hak, KT’s Chief Financial Officer, said during a conference call that the “Apple iPhone will be in our smartphone line-up. [We expect that the] iPhone will help to expand the smartphone market and will contribute to increasing the ARPU” (average revenue per user).” Telecoms Korea reports that Kim declined to offer any more details on the agreement, such as whether it will offer both the 8GB iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, pricing, or a release date. Competing Korean carrier SK Telecom recently said it too has been in contact with Apple over the phone, although no deal has been announced. [via MacNN]

iPhone OS 3.0 bug leads to invisible photos

A new bug found in iPhone OS 3.0 has led some users to take pictures that were rendered invisible on the device. According to a lengthy Apple Discussions thread, the bug appears to pertain only to photos with the name IMG_10000 or higher, as the built-in Photos application refuses to acknoledge their presence or show them in the Camera Roll. Users are reporting, however, that the pictures are indeed still on the device, and can still be imported to iPhoto on the Mac or the selected program on Windows. This bug appears to be independent of another OS 3.0 photo-related problem, in which pictures are taken by the device and then reported as missing by iPhoto during the import process.

Apple to intro an 8GB iPhone 3GS?

Apple is planning to add an 8GB iPhone 3GS to its lineup, potentially replacing the current 8GB iPhone 3G, according to a new report. Based on screenshots from an internal Rogers Wireless memo, Boy Genius Report states that the company is in the process of shipping black 8GB iPhone 3GS units to its stores. While pricing is not mentioned in the partially obscured memo, it does inform readers to continue selling through available stock of the 8GB iPhone 3G while receiving the new handsets, and refers to a “smooth transition over to the new piece,” indicating that Apple may plan to replace the 3G model with the lower-capacity 3GS at the same price point of $99.

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