AT&T may be in the process of pushing up the upgrade eligibility dates of iPhone users ahead of this summer’s anticipated fourth-generation iPhone launch. MobileCrunch, citing a reader email and other unnamed sources, reports that several users who purchased an iPhone 3GS on launch day last year have had their eligibility dates pushed up to June 21 from November 21, suggesting that Apple plans to release its next iPhone on or before that date. Apple is widely expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone at its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7.
Movistar in Spain has announced its data plan rates and pricing (Translated Link) for the iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G, along with a unique deal for iPhone customers. The carrier will be offering 30MB-at-a-time access for €3, as well as monthly plans of 200MB for €15, 1GB for €25, and 5GB for €39. Notably, current iPhone users on the €25 or €39 monthly plans may apply for a free microSIM card, which will enable them to share their data plan with the iPad; iPhone users currently on the €15 month plan may migrate to one of the higher plans to become eligible for the sharing option. [Thanks, Carlos]
Newly discovered court documents relating to a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple and AT&T in 2007 have confirmed that the two companies originally signed a five-year iPhone exclusivity deal. Engadget quotes a briefing filed by Apple, which reads, “[t]he duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not ‘secret’ either. The [plaintiff] quotes a May 21, 2007 USA Today article – published over a month before the iPhone’s release – stating, ‘AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world.’ [T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T’s] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years… Moreover, it is sheer speculation – and illogical – that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power….” It remains to be seen whether the five-year exclusivity deal is still in place, however, as it has been speculated that the terms of the two companies’ iPhone deal may have been part of the negotiations over iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G data plans.
Google’s Android operating system has overtaken Apple’s iPhone OS to become the number-two smartphone OS in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2010, according to the latest data from The NPD Group. Based on unit sales to consumers for the quarter, Android moved in to second place with 28 percent of the market, trailing only BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s 36 percent. iPhone OS came in third with 21 percent. Among carriers, AT&T held the lead in smartphone sales with 32 percent of the market, followed by Verizon Wireless with 30 percent, T-Mobile with 17 percent, and Sprint with 15 percent. “As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.”
According to the latest data from research firm IDC, Apple was the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer in the first quarter of 2010. Apple’s quarterly shipments more than doubled year-over-year in the period, from 3.8 million in Q1 2009 to 8.8 million in Q1 2010, an increase of 131% that far outpaced overall market growth of 56.7%. Apple’s record shipments were good for 16.1% of the worldwide market, up from 10.9% in the year ago quarter, but still behind leader Nokia’s 39.3% share and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, whose lead over Apple shrank significantly as it held a 19.4% share of the market. Apple was followed by HTC, with 4.8%, and Motorola with 4.2%.
“2010 looks to be another year of large-scale consumer adoption of converged mobile devices,” says Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. “Consumers will gravitate to smartphones not just because the devices themselves look ‘cool’ and ‘slick’, but because the overall experience aligns with their individual tastes and demands. Users are seeking – and finding – experiences that are intuitive, seamless, and fun.”
Despite recent statements dismissing Apple’s impact on the company’s business, Nintendo is internally preparing to launch an assault on Apple as the latter’s iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad begin to eat away at Nintendo’s handheld gaming business. Citing sources close to Nintendo, the Times Online reports that Nintendo president recently told senior executives to treat Apple as the “enemy of the future,” after profits at the Kyoto-based company fell for the first time in six years. According to the report, sources describe a mood of concern at the company, with the hardware and software teams racing to restore the “surprise” the company considers a hallmark of its gaming experiences. The report does not describe what, exactly, Nintendo plans to do about Apple’s encroachment on its business, short of saying that it plans to “unleash the full force of its development and marketing artillery.” [via Mac Rumors]
Nokia has announced that it is suing Apple in Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging that the iPhone and iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G infringe on five patents held by Nokia. MarketWatch reports that the patents relate to technologies for enhanced speech and data transmission, using location data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space. “Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in mobile devices” said Paul Melin, General Manager, Patent Licensing at Nokia. “We have taken this step to protect the results of our pioneering development and to put an end to continued unlawful use of Nokia’s innovation.”
The Finnish company first filed suit against Apple in October 2009, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents; Apple filed a countersuit claiming patent infringement in December. The lawsuits were followed by an ITC complaint from Nokia near the end of the year, alleging that Apple infringes on the Finnish company’s patents “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.”
The ITC launched an investigation into Nokia’s claims against Apple in late January; it announced a similar investigation into Apple’s claims against Nokia in February. In March, a federal judge in Delaware signed an order halting litigation between Nokia and Apple pending resolution of the companies’ respective claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC); it is unclear whether this prior order will have any bearing on this newest lawsuit.
Apple’s 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference has sold out in only eight days, according to an update on the event’s dedicated website. Dates for the conference, to be held June 7-11 in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA, were announced on April 28; John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes that last year’s event took a month to sell out, despite the fact that it included a number of Mac OS X and IT sessions that are not being offered at this year’s WWDC. In addition to providing developer sessions, Apple has for the past three years used the event’s keynote address as a venue for iPhone-related announcements, revealing the launch date for the original iPhone in 2007, introducing the iPhone 3G at the 2008 event, and unveiling the iPhone 3GS in 2009.
According to data from the latest ChangeWave wireless survey, there is strong demand for an iPhone running on Verizon Wireless’ network amongst current Verizon customers. Among Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, and T-Mobile customers, a total of 49% said they were either somewhat or very likely to buy an iPhone for themselves or someone they know if it became available on their current carrier. Of that 49%, 16% said they were “very likely” to purchase, while an additional 33% said they were “somewhat likely.” When broken down to only Verizon subscribers, the overall total of customers likely to buy an iPhone on the carrier rises to 53%, with 19% saying they would be “very likely” to buy a Verizon iPhone, joined by 34% that would be “somewhat likely” to make the purchase. By comparison, the total percentages were lower on Sprint/Nextel (44%) and T-Mobile (39%). The survey also looked at overall carrier satisfaction, with AT&T tied for the lowest percentage of respondents who said they were “very satisfied” with their service; AT&T customers also reported the largest percentage of dropped calls. ChangeWave’s survey was conducted in March among 4,040 consumers. [via MDN]
A number of new features have been found in the latest beta version of iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone and iPod touch. Boy Genius Reports that the new features include the File Sharing functionality seen previously on the iPad, multitasking widgets for iPod playback, accessed by swiping to the left in the app switcher, a button for locking the screen orientation, also found in the app switcher, and the ability to close multiple applications at once from within the app switcher. In addition to these features, Mac Rumors reports that the current beta SDK contains a preset value for video capture that suggests a future iPhone or iPod touch model will be able to capture 720p high-definition video. It has been rumored that the next-generation iPhone will be called the “iPhone HD,” which would work well if the device boasts such a recording feature.
Apple has been awarded a U.S. patent for the ornamental design of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Filed on June 5, 2008, patent number D615,083 lists both Apple CEO Steve Jobs and senior vice president of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive as inventors. Possible examples for the “electronic device” are listed as a “computer, a portable or hand-held electronic device, media player (e.g., music, video and/or game player), media storage device, a personal digital assistant, a communication device (e.g., cellular phone), and/or the like.” [via GoRumors]
According to an update of The NPD Group’s “Entertainment Trends in America” consumer surveys, three quarters of iPhone and iPod touch users are connecting to the web to download entertainment content and apps, leading all other entertainment device categories. 19 percent of game console users and 17 percent of Blu-ray set-top product users reported downloading content and or apps; overall, 16 percent of Americans age 13 or older are using devices other than their home computers to download apps, music, video, and other content. Among iPhone and iPod touch users, free apps were the most popular download category, followed by games and music downloads.
“It’s not surprising that Apple users are ahead of others when it comes to downloading Web-based content, given the breadth of the company’s app catalog and the head start iTunes had selling music for the iPod,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD. “Like other groups of early adopters, consumers downloading entertainment content are mostly younger and male; however, as app stores expand beyond Apple, as connected devices become more commonplace, and as connectivity is simplified we expect to see more activity on other devices and platforms.”
Apple has released the third version of iPhone OS 4 and its accompanying Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch. As with prior beta releases, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Changes made in the latest beta have yet to be revealed. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
Apple has become the target of yet another patent infringement lawsuit over the iPhone. The Loop reports that California-based NetAirus Technologies has filed a patent infringement suit against the iPhone-maker, claiming that the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS infringe on NetAirus’ patent for a “Wireless Handset Communication System.” The suit claims that the entire concept behind the iPhone is infringing, instead of focusing on one or more of the device’s attributes. The patent in question describes a “small light weight modular microcomputer based computer and communications systems, designed for both portability and desktop uses,” featuring several functions similar to the iPhone’s, including “bi-directional realtime communications of voice, audio, text, graphics and video data,” a “telephone-like handset,” and a “relative large flat panel display device assembly.” NetAirus is seeking a ruling that forces Apple to halt production of the iPhone, as well as cash damages.
Apple has received regulatory approval for a WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) compatible version of the iPhone. Engadget reports that the approved phone’s model number, A1303, suggests this is a WAPI version of the iPhone 3GS, instead of being a next-generation device. Currently, iPhones sold in China lack Wi-Fi capabilities, as Apple did not have a version with WAPI — China’s homegrown wireless networking technology — ready. It is unclear when the new handset will launch, or what, if any, pricing difference there may be between it and the version of the iPhone currently available from China Unicom.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen has responded to statements made about his company and its Flash technology by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his “Thoughts on Flash” open letter. Calling the technology problems mentioned by Jobs a “smokescreen,” Narayen pointed out that more than 100 applications built using Adobe’s Flash technology were accepted into the App Store. “When you resort to licensing language” to restrict this kind of cross-platform development, he said, it has “nothing to do with technology.” Narayen also said Apple’s refusal to allow cross-platform apps onto its devices makes it “cumbersome” for developers who will have to have “two workflows,” and called Jobs’ claims that Flash causes undue battery drain “patently false.” To conclude the interview, Narayen said that he is for “letting customers decide,” but that he believes the multi-platform strategy will “eventually prevail.”
Apple has passed Motorola to become the largest cell phone maker in the United States by unit volume. Reporting its first quarter fiscal results, Motorola revealed that it sold 8.5 million phones in the quarter, less than the 8.75 million iPhones sold by Apple over the same period. Motorola’s numbers have fallen greatly from the 46.1 million phones it sold in the first quarter of 2006 when the company’s RAZR was still popular. The company has more recently been focusing its efforts on the smartphone market, where the company’s Droid handset, which runs Google’s Android operating system, has served as the basis for an ongoing anti-iPhone Verizon ad campaign.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” in which he explains the company’s motivation for leaving Adobe’s Flash off of its iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. Jobs divides his explanation into six key factors, including Flash’s proprietary nature, the fact that the vast majority of web video is now accessible without Flash, reliability, security, and performance issues, battery life concerns, Flash’s reliance on mouse-dependent interface elements, and the fact that Adobe wants to allow its developers to use Flash for creating cross-platform applications that will run on Apple’s platform, as well as on competitors’ devices, without exploiting any platform’s unique and innovative features. The crux of the letter is an attack on Flash as a battery-hogging middleware solution that is no longer necessary or desirable in an age of advanced mobile devices.
Jobs makes several scathing comments in the letter, claiming that Flash is the leading cause of Mac crashes, that Adobe was the slowest major third-party developer to adopt important changes to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, and that the company has promised but repeatedly failed to deliver an optimized mobile version of Flash. The letter also sheds new light on Apple’s App Store business, including the statement that “[t]here are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world,” and noting that there are now more than 200,000 apps available in the App Store. In closing, Jobs says, “[n]ew open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”
In a response to an Engadget inquiry on the subject, AT&T has said that it “cannot provide any details at this time” as to when, or if, U.S. iPhone users will receive the option to use the phone’s built-in tethering feature. “We know that iPhone users love their devices and mobile broadband, and that they’re likely to embrace tethering just as they have other features and apps – by using it a lot,” the company said in its response. “iPhone tethering has the potential to exponentially increase traffic, and we need to ensure that we’re able to deliver excellent performance for the feature – over and above the increases in data traffic we’re already seeing – before we will offer the feature.” AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said in November 2008 that tethering support would be coming “soon;” built-in support for the feature was added to the iPhone OS in June 2009, but AT&T said in October that more “fine tuning” would be required before it launched the feature.
iPhone game developers Majic Jungle Software have posted a proof of concept video to YouTube showing their upcoming title Chopper 2 being run on and output from an iPad to an HDTV while a separate iPhone is used as a controller. According to the post, the setup—which uses a standard Apple Component AV Cable to connect the iPad to a 42-inch HDTV, while the iPhone is connected over Bluetooth—uses only publicly available API calls, and could conceivably be released in its current form. The post notes, however, that the initial release may not support the TV-out functionality. Continue reading to watch the video in embedded form. [via TUAW]