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]
Discussing the company’s record first quarter fiscal earnings, ARM Holdings CEO Warren East made several comments about the smartphone industry and Apple’s products in particular. The trend towards smartphones has continued, and continued throughout the downturn,” East said. “The smarter they get the more ARM technology they require.” According to the Telegraph, East also said the average smartphone contains three or more ARM-based processors, and generates about six times the royalties as the average standard mobile. Regarding Apple, East said he was “very excited” about the iPad, because of its potential to revolutionize the personal computing market, and dismissed rumors that Apple may be planning to purchase the company. “The iPhone acted as a great stimulus to encourage competitors to develop products to beat the iPhone,” he said. “The iPad looks like it has set the competitive bar again, and will stimulate people to do a lot of other creative things.”
According to AdMob’s March 2010 Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link), the iPhone 3GS and second-generation iPod touch combine to generate more than 60% of worldwide iPhone OS traffic on the AdMob network. The iPhone 3GS is the most popular iPhone OS device worldwide, representing 39% of iPhone OS traffic, followed by the second-generation iPod touch with 25%, the iPhone 3G with 20%, and the third-generation iPod touch with 12%. Notably, the first-generation iPhone and iPod touch represent only 4% of worldwide iPhone OS traffic share combined, or 2% each. In terms of iPhone OS version distribution, the two most recent versions of the software dominate, with iPhone OS 3.1.3 accounting for 44% of worldwide iPhone traffic, and iPhone OS 3.1.2 following closely behind with 42%. AdMob’s metrics are based on its advertising network of more than 18,000 mobile websites and applications around the world; in March 2010, AdMob received 6.1 billion requests from iPhone OS devices.
Police entered the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen late Friday evening, seizing a variety of computers, servers, and other electronic items as evidence possibly “used as the means of committing a felony,” related to the recent prototype iPhone incident. Chen was responsible for the posting of details relating to a prototype fourth-generation iPhone that the site reportedly purchased for $5,000 from an unknown party who supposedly “found” the phone at a Redwood City bar, after it was “lost” by an Apple engineer. Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gizmodo owner Gawker Media, has claimed the search warrant was invalid due to a California law protecting journalists, however, there has been speculation that Gizmodo’s purchase of the phone may have itself been illegal, with the seller guilty of theft for failure to return the phone to its rightful owner, and Gizmodo of purchasing and receiving stolen property. While it is likely that Apple had contacted the authorities about the lost prototype device, the company could not have been directly responsible for the raid on Chen’s home.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has announced that it will be launching an investigation into a patent infringement claim against Apple filed by Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics late last month. The complaint alleges that Apple is violating Elan’s patents related to touch-sensitive input devices with multi-touch capabilities, specifically with the iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook laptops, the Magic Mouse, and the iPad. “We have taken the step of filing the ITC complaint as a continuation of our efforts to enforce our patent rights against Apple’s ongoing infringement,” Elan said at the time of the filing. “A proceeding in the ITC offers a quick and effective way for Elan to enforce its patent.” Elan is requesting that the ITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order, which would block Apple from importing infringing products and from selling its current stock; the company filed a lawsuit against Apple in April 2009 over the same alleged infringement.
Police are investigating possible criminal law violations related to the lost fourth-generation iPhone prototype that appeared online earlier this week. Citing an unnamed law enforcement official, Cnet reports that Apple has spoken to local police about the incident, with the investigation being handled by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. The phone in question was lost by an Apple engineer at a bar in Redwood City, CA, and was recovered by an unknown party that subsequently sold the unit to Gizmodo for a reported $5,000 bounty. Gizmodo photographed and disassembled the device, posting photos of it online and claiming it was “lost.” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has argued that both the seller and the editors of Gizmodo may be guilty of crimes related to the incident under California law; Cnet has yet to confirm whether the police probe is targeting the seller, Gizmodo, or both parties.
A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a system for wireless transportation ticketing and check-in. Entitled “System and method for transportation check-in,” the patent refers to a travel management application called “iTravel” which would allow the users to purchase, store, and use travel documents. The patent goes on to show the application being used on an iPhone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, such as RFID, which then interacts with similarly-equipped electronics throughout the travel process, such as at check-in, security checkpoints, and when boarding. 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]
In a lengthy post discussing Gizmodo’s procurement of a fourth-generation iPhone prototype, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has offered up some previously-unknown details about the device, citing inside information from Apple sources familiar with the project. Referencing one of the barcodes found on the outside of the device, “N90_DVT_GE4X_0493,” Gruber writes that “N90” is Apple’s internal codename for the fourth-generation GSM iPhone, slated for release “this June or July.” The “DVT” portion of the code reportedly stands for “device verification test,” an Apple production milestone that occurs very late in a device’s development, suggesting that the unit “very closely, if not exactly” resembles what Apple plans to release.
Regarding the legality of both Gizmodo’s purchase of the device—the site claims to have paid $5,000 for the unit—and the actions of the party that sold it to the publication, Gruber suggests that California law could make the seller and possibly Gizmodo’s editors guilty of a crime. The seller, who used the Facebook application on the device to ascertain the identity of the Apple employee who lost the phone, yet failed to return it to him or his employer, may possibly be guilty of theft, while Gruber argues that Gizmodo’s editors, by purchasing a device they likely knew belonged to Apple, may be guilty of purchasing and receiving stolen property. An iLounge source has indicated that Apple is unlikely to sue Gizmodo for civil damages over the prototype, however.
A number of iPhone users are reporting a loss of Wi-Fi functionality after upgrading to software 3.1.3. Based on an Apple Support discussion thread, the problems date back to the update’s release in February, and appear to affect mostly first-generation iPhone and iPhone 3G units, although a small number of iPhone 3GS owners also claimed to have experienced the issue. Some users state that their iPhones now have the Wi-Fi option grayed out, as if no hardware exists to support it, while others say the option is there, but report failure to find/connect to any networks. As a solution, a number of the users report having had their iPhones replaced, which seems to have corrected the problem in some cases, but in others the new hardware also exhibited the issue; Apple itself has posted a support document outlining an issue where there is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth address listed on the iPhone or iPod touch, but that issue appears to be unrelated to the problems mentioned in the discussion thread.
iPhone hacker planetbeing has uploaded a video to YouTube demonstrating a version of the Android OS running on the iPhone. The hack is done through a modified version of OpeniBoot, which allows the user to select which operating system will be used to launch the phone. Once loaded, the modified Android build offers support for telephony, Wi-Fi, browsing, and media playback. Notably, the hack was performed using a first-generation iPhone; planetbeing claims that it “should be pretty simple to port forward to the iPhone 3G,” but that the iPhone 3GS “will take more work.” Continue reading to watch the video in embedded form.
Following a pair of new television advertisements for the iPhone 3GS that were posted earlier this week, Apple has added a third new spot to its online gallery. “Family Man” continues the recent trend of personal, testimonial-style narration, and describes how different members of the family use the patriarch’s iPhone for various purposes. This latest iPhone 3GS TV ad is available for viewing now on Apple’s website.
Following a change in Apple’s Phone developer SDK terms that outlawed intermediary, cross-compatibility tools from iPhone apps, an Adobe employee has responded to the new restrictions. Specifically, section 3.3.1 of the new iPhone developer terms states that “[a]pplications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool,” such as Adobe’s Packager for iPhone that ships with Flash Professional CS5, “are prohibited.” Mike Chambers, Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform, says that “[d]evelopers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store.”
Concerning the future of the company’s Flash-to-iPhone-app software, Chambers claims that the company “will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature.” Chambers adds that he doesn’t have any plans to update or maintain his existing iPhone applications, as he thinks “the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote.” A recent report suggested that Adobe may be considering legal action against Apple over its refusal to allow Flash to run on its iPhone OS devices, and this recent decision to ban iPhone apps made using Flash software. [via Digital Arts]
Announcing its first fiscal quarter 2010 financial results, U.S. iPhone carrier AT&T revealed that it activated 2.7 million of the handsets during the quarter. Taken with Apple’s sales of 8.75 million iPhones over the same period, it appears that roughly 31% of all iPhones sold during the period were sold in the U.S. By comparison, roughly 42% of iPhones sold during the year-ago quarter were sold in the U.S. Of AT&T’s 2.7 million iPhone activations, more than one-third were for customers who were new to AT&T, contributing substantially to the company’s 1.9 million net gain in total wireless subscribers.
Apple has released the second beta version of the iPhone OS 4 Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch. As with the prior beta release, 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, as well as the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.