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iPhone spurs 20% mobile gaming growth in 2008

The iPhone and App Store helped push the mobile gaming industry to become a $5.4 billion market in 2008, a 20% increase over 2007, according to a new JupiterResearch report. The report states that overall game downloads were flat in the U.S. and Western Europe, while they rose in emerging markets like China and India. Java-based games reportedly saw a steep decline in sales, but were offset by iPhone game downloads. Report author Dr. Windsor Holden said, “The combination of iPhone and the Apple App Store has galvanized the mobile games industry. Apple has provided an innovative device which enables developers to create smooth, compelling, visually attractive games for the mobile users, together with a business model offering a highly competitive revenue share for developers.” The report goes on to predict that more than half of games downloaded by 2012 will be funded by advertising.

Cydia planning App Store for jailbroken iPhones, iPod touches

The developer behind Cydia, a package installer and manager for jailbroken iPhones and iPod touches, is opening an App Store-like service, according to the Wall Street Journal. Cydia will offer applications not allowed onto the App Store, such as the free Cycorder app, which allows the iPhone to shoot video, and PdaNET, a $29 program that allows the iPhone to function as a cellular modem. Jay Freeman, developer of Cycorder and the Cydia Store, says he decided to launch the service so developers whose work is either outlawed or denied access to the App Store have a way to make money from their efforts. A 27-year-old computer science doctoral student in Santa Barbara, Freeman says he intends to charge developers no more than the commission Apple does for his site’s billing services. Apple recently argued to the U.S. Copyright Office that jailbreaking constitutes copyright infringement and a DMCA violation, and is therefore illegal; Freeman says he has a lawyer lined up in case Apple takes legal action against him. “The overworking goal is to provide choice,” he says. “It’s understandable that [Apple] wants to control things, but it has been very limiting for developers and users.”

Showtime offering Emmy screeners on iPhone, iPod touch

Following a move last year to offer its Emmy screeners online, Showtime is letting TV Academy voters view shows on the iPhone and iPod touch. Emmy voters will be able to screen full-length episodes of Showtime series including “Dexter,” “Weeds,” and “United States of Tara” simply by entering a passcode on a website. “It’s just another option for those TV Academy members who want to see product any time and any place,” said Richard Licata, Showtime’s exec VP of corporate communications. Licata said the channel saved “tens of thousands of dollars” last year by offering episodes online, and added that he isn’t concerned about voters viewing shows on the small screen of the iPhone. “I don’t think the creative is compromised in this way. It’s just another avenue for people to explore. They can watch two or three minutes of an episode on an iPhone, and they can at least decide if they like the show.”

China Unicom, China Mobile continue iPhone talks

Chang Xiaobing, chairman of China Unicom, has confirmed that the company is in talks with Apple to bring the iPhone to China. “We are in talks with many handset suppliers, including Apple,” Chang said, adding, “3G users will account for 20 percent of all mobile phone users in China in the next three years.” A previous report from February cited an anonymous Unicom manager as stating that the companies were in discussions over the iPhone. Interestingly, despite earlier reports that Unicom rival China Mobile had broken off talks with Apple due to a disagreement over control fo the App Store, Reuters reports that China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou said that the company would continue to talk to Apple, while declining comment on discussions between Unicom and iPhone maker. Reports of China Mobile and Apple’s iPhone negotiations date back to November 2007, and have reportedly stalled multiple times over various issues.

JP Morgan analysts Jimmy Cheong and Tim Storey suggest that both iPhone clones and large subsidies may be holding back discussions. “iPhone copies (i.e. the Hi-Phone) are available without (users) having to sign long-term contracts,” the analysts said in a note. “iPhone is likely to be highly subsidized and China Unicom may give away large revenue share so earnings upside is possibly limited, in our view. We think this is a reason why China Mobile has refused to sign with Apple to date.”

iPhone 3G, iPod nano 4G, touch 2G win iF gold design awards

Apple’s iPhone 3G, fourth-generation iPod nano, and second-generation iPod touch were all given International Design Forum gold awards at the 2009 CeBIT conference, SetteB.IT reports. Among 802 products that were recognized, including the Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, only 50 products earned gold awards. The products were judged on the basis of design quality, workmanship, choice of materials, degree of innovativeness, environmental compatibility, functionality, ergonomics, visualization of use, safety, brand value / branding and universal design. Notably, the MacBook Air was also the recipient of a gold award.

iPhone accounts for two-thirds of mobile browsing

According to the latest statistics released by Net Applications, the iPhone accounts for roughly two-thirds of all mobile browsing. Apple’s handset is listed as having a 66.61% share of the mobile browsing market, followed by Java ME with 9%, Windows Mobile with 6.91%, and Symbian OS with 6.15%. Interestingly, Google’s Android operating system was equal with Symbian, and has grabbed a 6.15% share of the market since its release in October. Net Applications notes that although Android and Blackberry are rapidly gaining market share, this doesn’t necessarily mean that iPhone use is shrinking, due to the rapid growth of the overall market.

Coders bring Mac OS 7 to iPhone

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A group of iPhone developers has succeeded in getting Mac OS System 7 to run on the device, and has posted a number of photos showing the software in action. The application uses code from the QEMU processor emulator, and the “About This Macintosh” screen shows the device as a Macintosh Plus. Classic Mac applications MacPaint, MacDraw, and Calculator are all shown to load and run properly, although there is currently no way to enter text. The developers hope to launch the code soon; due to Apple limitations on emulation, it is unclear whether the code will be released on its own, allowing official iPhone developers to build and run it on their own devices, or whether it will be released as a standalone application for jailbroken devices. [via BoingBoing Gadgets]

Japanese iPhone “hate” disputed by Wired, Tokyo-based source

In an unusual public dispute over the current Japanese popularity of the iPhone 3G, Tokyo-based freelance writer and self-described “most famous advocate of iPhone in Japan” Nobuyuki Hayashi has taken Wired to task for republishing his eight-month old quote on the topic—originally rendered before the launch of the device—as evidence of Japan’s supposed “hate” for the iPhone. Hayashi, who has written about Apple products for a number of Japanese and international publications, used the situation as a springboard to disagree with Wired’s article, and share a wide variety of interesting observations about the iPhone 3G’s successes and problems in Japan, including:

• Initial skepticism from certain newspapers, including the Sankei Shimbun, has evolved into more positive coverage with the growth of the App Store.

• While projected Japanese sales of the iPhone 3G are in the 300,000 - 400,000 range, lower than apparently inaccurate sales targets that were circulated last year, poor overall Japanese cell phone sales in 2008 would place the iPhone’s Japanese sales at or above Apple’s targeted global 1% level for the year.

• Apple responses to Japanese complaints about the device have been addressed by the company, including the addition of Emoji icons and the sale of a battery-aided TV tuner, with pricing issues addressed this week in a campaign that has seen lines forming to purchase iPhones.

• One remaining issue, the iPhone 3G’s inability to serve as a digital credit card for making purchases, has not been addressed by Apple, though some iPhone users have developed workarounds known throughout the Japanese community.

• Softbank, Apple’s sole service partner for the iPhone in Japan, has recently won awards for its TV advertisements, but has done comparatively little to promote the iPhone due to Apple approvals required for marketing purposes. Consequently, the majority of Japanese consumers remain unfamiliar with the device, though they warm quickly to it when they’re given the opportunity to actually use one.

• Softbank lags modestly behind competitors NTT DoCoMo and KDDI in network coverage and frequency options, and has struggled with domestic media perceptions about its viability, reasons that Apple might need to expand its partnerships in the country.

The full, interesting posting from Nobuyuki Hayashi can be read here.

iPhone user creates large-scale art with drawing app

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Rather than constraining his artwork to the 3.5” size of his iPhone’s screen, photographer and artist Russ Croop has created extremely large sketches using the iPhone and iPod touch application NetSketch. His first large-scale work, a drawing of his living room, is the equivalent of 85.6 inches x 70.1 inches at 72 ppi, and proved so large that Croop had to enlist the help of NetSketch creator Ben Gotow to get it out of the application, following repeated crashes when trying to save it from within the app. “I felt like the guy who built a boat in his basement and couldn’t get it out because it was so big,” Croop said. Cult of Mac reports that Croop went on to create other large-scale drawings, and is even interested in getting his work into galleries. When asked what the installation would be like, Croop said, “I envision big flat screen TVs replaying the paintings (videos of them as they’re made) and iPhones attached to walls or kiosks where people could try out drawing on them.” All of Croop’s iPhone art is available for viewing on his website.

Telefónica announces 1 million iPhones sold in UK

Telefónica Europe, parent company of UK iPhone carrier O2, has announced that more than one million iPhones have been sold in the country since the device’s launch on November 9, 2007. Revealing its 2008 year-end results, Telefónica also described the handset as a “best selling device,” while adding that its UK business added 499,000 fixed and mobile customers in Q4. As the announcement is focused on 2008 data, it is unclear when the one million unit mark was actually crossed. Apple sold 13.7 million iPhones in 2008.

SoftBank offers free 8GB iPhone 3G in new promo

SoftBank Mobile has announced (Translated Link) its new “iPhone for everybody” campaign, in which it is offering new customers a free 8GB iPhone 3G with a two year contract. The free handset is available with three different plans, including standard, premium, and student, which range in price from 490 Yen (roughly $5) to 1,960 Yen (~$20) a month. The carrier is also dropping the price on its standard monthly data plan from 5985 Yen (~$61) to 4410 Yen (~$45). In addition, it is offering customers who choose the 16GB model a payment plan of 480 Yen (~$4.93) a month over the course of the 24 month contract, for a total of 11,520 Yen (~$118). The promotion is scheduled to run from Friday, February 27 through May 31. [via AppleInsider]

Best Buy offering $99 iPhone 3G promo to rewards customers

Best Buy is currently running a promotion in which members of its Rewards Zone program are able to purchase an iPhone 3G at a discount of up to $100. The offer is limited to customers who were members of the program as of February 21. Regular members are eligible for a $50 discount, bringing the prices for the 8GB and 16GB models to $149 and $249, respectively, while Premier Silver members—those who spent $2,500 or more at the retailer in the last calendar year—receive a $100 discount. The offer is good through February 28.

iPhone to become photo geotagging assistant?

A hidden dialog box in Apple’s recently released iPhoto ‘09 software suggests the company may be planning to use the iPhone 3G’s GPS to assist users in geotagging their non-iPhone photos. TidBITS reports that an unused dialog box contains text “Activate the location application on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Once selected, any available location information will be transferred to your iPhoto library and associated with the photos in the selected event(s).” Elsewhere, a separate string states, “Select an iPhone or iPod Touch from your list of named devices. Once selected, the appropriate information will be transferred to your iPhoto library and associated with the photos in the selected event(s).”

While further specifics are currently unknown, it appears that users would need to run a program on their iPhone or iPod touch that would log location data as they traveled, then sync with iPhoto ‘09 to geotag photos taken with any camera that does not support geotagging natively. The report suggests that the data might also be used to create more accurate maps, showing the route taken between shots. It is unclear how the feature would work with the original iPhone or iPod touch units, which lack GPS support, whether the application would be allowed to run in the background, and what the drain on battery life may be; the presence of a reference to iPod touch is especially unusual as the device’s Wi-Fi functionality is its only tool for vaguely estimating locations. As with any unannounced feature, Apple may also choose not to implement the idea. [via Infinite Loop]

Telenor to offer iPhone in Scandinavia

The Telenor Group has announced that it will soon offer the iPhone in Scandinavia. In a brief message, the company said it has “signed an agreement with Apple to bring iPhone 3G to Sweden, Denmark and Norway in the coming months.” Pricing, plans, and release date have yet to be determined.

Google shows offline Gmail for iPhone at MWC

During a keynote at the 2009 Mobile World Congress this week, Google vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra demonstrated offline Gmail for the iPhone and Android phones. The updated web application features an improved interface label support, and offline access, which is made possible through HTML5 standards, including App Cache and database support. The app seems to be quite responsive, thanks to the database being kept locally. A video of the demonstration is available in high quality on YouTube; continue reading to view a smaller embedded version. [via Engadget]

Night vision video shows iPhone 3G innards, flaws

An iPhone 3G owner has recorded a video of his handset using his camcorder’s “night vision” setting, which provides a unique look at the phone. The night vision mode showed stress cracks around the edges of the phone and the camera that are invisible to the naked eye, while providing a direct view of the iPhone’s hidden front sensors, and portions of the inside of the case. The video is available in HD on Vimeo, or continue reading for a smaller embedded version. [via Cult of Mac]

AT&T again offering refurbished iPhone 3Gs for $99

AT&T is once again offering refurbished iPhone 3G units for $99. As the company did for a brief time in late December, 8GB models are available for $99, while 16GB refurbs are selling for $199. The prices on refurbished iPhone 3G units have generally been $149 for the 8GB and $249 for 16GB units. As with new iPhone 3Gs, the refurbished units require a two-year contract, and AT&T notes that all refurbished iPhones carry a warranty of 90 days or more and may have “minor scratches.”

Vegas casinos warned of card-counting iPhone app

Nevada gambling regulators have warned the state’s casinos about a card-counting application that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch. Card counting enables Blackjack players to track the high and low cards played, so that bets can be adjusted when odds are in their favor. While the trick is not illegal, it is heavily frowned upon by casinos, and the use of devices to help count cards is a felony in some jurisdictions. The Nevada regulators originally learned of the app from California regulators, who had been informed by employees of an Indian casino. No specific application is mentioned in the original report, however, there are at least two card counting apps—Card Counter ($3) and A Blackjack Card Counter ($4)—currently available from the App Store.

Apple sued over iPhone screen drawing tech

Piscel Technologies, a mobile software developer, has filed suit against Apple claiming that the graphics rendering technology used in the iPhone and iPod touch infringes on Piscel’s patents. The complaint claims that Apple’s methods for accelerating movements such as panning and zooming effectively copy Piscel’s own acceleration technologies. Piscel currently supplies software to other mobile manufacturers such as Sharp, Motorola, and Palm, although it is unclear whether these relationships involve the specific rendering technologies referenced in the suit. Piscel is seeking full damages according to the number of iPhone OS devices already sold, in addition to punitive damages equaling triple the original damages amount.

Google enables spreadsheet edits from iPhone

Google has made changes to its Google Docs site to allow spreadsheet editing from mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch. The changes allow users to view, edit, sort, and filter spreadsheets, and are available in all 38 languages supported in Google Docs spreadsheets. It is unclear when or if the company plans to add mobile editing to the other supported document formats. To access the new features, simply visit m.google.com/docs from your iPhone or iPod touch.

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