AT&T is preparing to raise its rates on SMS messages to $.20 per message beginning March 30, according to a new report. The per-message raise would affect iPhone users who have gone over the 200 monthly messages afforded them in a standard iPhone voice plan. MMS multimedia messages will also see an increase to $.30 per message; the iPhone currently does not offer MMS support. In addition to the SMS rate change, the carrier has also added a new unlimited rate plan for iPhone. The plan, which runs $119.99 a month, includes unlimited voice and data, but still offers only 200 SMS messages a month. It is available now through AT&T.
Sun Microsystems has said that it plans to build a Java Virtual Machine for the iPhone using the recently released iPhone SDK. The program, which will be based on the Java Micro Edition version of Java, will allow applications “as much access to the native functionality of the iPhone as possible,” said Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun. “Once our JVM is on the phone, we anticipate that a large number of Java applications would run on the phone,” he added. Future iPhone development plans could include bringing more sophisticated Java Standard Edition and JavaFX technologies to the phone. “It’s a new platform for us. We might be able to bring additional technologies onto the iPhone and the iTouch,” Klein said.
The BBC has launched a beta version of its iPlayer for iPhone. BBC iPlayer allows UK residents to browse and watch TV programs from the last week via streaming or download. The new iPlayer for iPhone uses H.264 encoded videos instead of the Flash format used by its PC counterpart. Anthony Rose, head of Digital Media Technologies for BBC, explains that the iPhone was the first browser-enabled device to get a custom iPlayer application “because it is the device most optimised for high quality video currently available.” Rose added, “It displays the BBC iPlayer site and BBC programmes nicely.” The BBC iPlayer for iPhone can be accessed now by visiting bbc.co.uk/iplayer/ from a UK-based iPhone or iPod touch.
Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ statement yesterday that the company is holding to its target of 10 million iPhones sold in 2008, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has said that according to his models, Apple will easily beat that target. “We are currently modeling for 12.9m iPhones in CY08,” said Munster. “Exceeding the goal by 2.9m units or 29%.” Fortune reports that Munster also received confirmation that the goal is for 10 million iPhones sold in 2008, not 10 million iPhones sold from its release on June 29, 2007. “We confirmed with Apple,” he said, “that the goal is to sell 10m iPhones ‘in CY08’ alone.”
During Apple’s annual shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments about the iPhone regarding its lack of an Adobe Flash player and the upcoming Software Development Kit. Jobs said the iPhone needs something more advanced than the Flash Lite player Adobe currently makes for cellphones, but that the full-blown Flash player “performs too slow to be useful” on the device. “There’s this missing product in the middle,” Jobs said. “It just doesn’t exist. We enjoy a good relationship with Adobe.” Fielding a question about what to expect from the SDK release, Jobs said, “you’ll see a lot of apps out there this summer.” He also reiterated the company’s goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, and in response to a question about Apple’s succession plan, he said, “we’ve got great talent, and I think the board would have a few really good choices,” while pointing out that it was the board of directors’ job to “make sure everybody is a potential successor to me.”
The iPhone may be headed to the Netherlands later this month on T-Mobile, according to a new report. Citing a source within the company, All About Phones (Translated Link) says that the iPhone will be hitting the Dutch market soon, possibly as early as late March, and will be offered by T-Mobile. This report follows recent developments that suggest Apple may be planning to roll out the iPhone in more European countries. Carrier-specific files found in the latest version of the iPhone’s software suggested that the device would soon be coming to T-Mobile in Austria, Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, and O2 in Ireland. Previous reports have also suggested that Telefonica SA will offer the phone in Spain. T-Mobile Austria has confirmed that it begin selling the iPhone in the first half of 2008, while O2 Ireland last week announced that it will be launching the device on March 14. In addition, Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty recently noted that Apple spent $550,000 on Steve Jobs’ airplane expenses in the fourth quarter, around three times the average over the prior six quarters. Huberty said that Jobs is “integral to negotiations with international carriers and supply chain partners,” meaning that much of his travel may have been to close deals with potential iPhone carriers.
China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator, has indicated that although it has yet to officially enter into talks with Apple over becoming the iPhone’s carrier in China, it is still interested in the handset. “We have not yet officially begun talks with Apple over the iPhone problem,” said China Mobile Chief Executive Wang Jianzhou. “As long as our customers want this kind of product, we will keep all options open.” Previously rumored to be in talks with Apple over the iPhone, the company most recently said that 400,000 unlocked iPhones were operating on its cellular network by the end of 2007. Jianzhou has previously stated that he dislikes the revenue-sharing business model that Apple has used with other iPhone carriers, stating, “we still think we can maintain the operator-centric model because we have the customers, the end users.” China Mobile currently has 350 million wireless subscribers.
The iPhone has become the world’s fourth-largest online browsing platform, according to the latest operating system numbers from Net Applications. For February 2008, the various versions of Windows held nearly 92% market share, followed by the Mac with ~7.5%, Linux with 0.65%, and iPhone, with 0.14% — up 0.01% from January. When broken down further, the iPhone still remains in the top ten, following six different versions of Windows, both Power-PC and Intel-based Macs, and Linux, but ahead of competitors such as Windows Mobile, Symbian Series 60, and Hiptop, better known as the T-Mobile Sidekick. Interestingly, the iPod touch retained its 0.04% share of the market, but now lies just 0.02% behind Windows Mobile, and when combined with the iPhone, the “mobile OS X” platform holds 0.18% share of the market. Net Applications’ data comes from the browsers of “site visitors to its on-demand network of live stats customers,” and is compiled from “approximately 160 million visitors per month.”
Following yesterday’s announcement that the iPhone will launch on O2 in Ireland on March 14, O2 Ireland CEO Danuta Gray has spoken about the value of the device, given the €1209 cost including the minimum 18-month tariff plan. “You can’t compare it with other products,” said Gray in an interview with the Independent. “Comparing it with a standard handset is just not like-for-like. I have music on it, videos on it, DVDs, photo albums, camera. To me it’s just an amazing device and I think the type of price here compared with this type of functionality is where the value should be judged.” Despite the price, and the mixed response the device has seen in other European countries, O2 is confident that it will see a strong response on launch day. “I’d say your Apple freaks will be queuing out the door when we launch,” Gray said. “I think people are familiar with what the product is but I think there’s an excitement that they can now get it in Ireland.”
The iPhone is second in planned corporate smartphone buying, and first in corporate smartphone satisfaction, according to the latest research from ChangeWave. A February 11-15 corporate survey of people involved with IT spending decisions showed that despite its 5% share of the corporate market, the iPhone ranked first in corporate smartphone satisfaction, with 59% of Apple’s business customers saying their company was very satisfied with the iPhone. Blackberry maker Research In Motion came in second with 49%, a drop of 8% from the previous survey. RIM was the dominant leader in planned corporate smartphone purchases, however, with 77% of companies planning to purchase a smartphone in the next quarter saying it would come from RIM. Apple’s iPhone came in second in this category, with 11%, down 3% from its previous high. In its invitation to next week’s iPhone software roadmap event, Apple said it would show some “exciting new enterprise features” for the handset, which may boost its attraction in the corporate market.
Reporting its fourth quarter financial results, O2 has said that the iPhone is the fastest selling device it’s ever had in the UK. “In the UK, we outperformed the market again, posting like for like revenue growth of 9.5% for the year, above the top end of our guidance range,” said Matthew Key, CEO of Telefonica Europe. “The UK added 483,000 net customers in the quarter including 276,000 on contract, the highest number ever, helped by sales of the iPhone, the fastest selling device that we have ever had in the UK.” The iPhone launched in the UK on November 9, 2007; the company this morning revealed that it will begin offering the iPhone in Ireland on March 14.
Apple was amongst the world’s top ten cell phone manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to new research from Gartner. For the first time, worldwide sales of mobile phones surpassed 1 billion units, with growth of 16 percent driving sales of 1.15 billion units in 2007, compared to 990.9 million in 2006. The fourth quarter of 2007 saw three new entrants to the top ten: Research In Motion, ZTE, and Apple. Apple placed tenth in the rankings, grabbing 0.6 percent of the market despite the iPhone being available in only four markets. “On one hand, we have aggressive pricing and a focus on emerging markets (ZTE), and on the other, RIM with targeted functions and Apple with brand and design,” said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices at Gartner. RIM ended up in sixth, with 1.2 percent share, while Nokia, number one with 40.4 percent share, continued to dominate globally. “Phone manufacturers need to continuously adapt their portfolios to respond to operators’ demands for open platforms, lower pricing and more personalization,” added Milanesi. “They should also try to meet consumers’ desires for fashionable, easy-to-use phones.”
In a resent research note, UBS analysts told clients that German chipmaker Infineon Technologies AG will likely provide new chips for Apple’s upcoming 3G iPhone. The group said that this isn’t yet the consensus view, and it also believes 3G-enabled iPhones will be released by mid-year. It added that the current EDGE iPhone platform is being ramped down earlier than expected to “clean” inventories. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has previously said that a 3G-capable iPhone model will be released this year.
O2 has confirmed that the company will carry the iPhone in Ireland, with a launch date set for March 14. The launch was confirmed in an account of likely performance indicators for O2’s fourth financial quarter; a website touting the device’s launch is now online. As in the UK, the iPhone will be available through O2 retail stores and through Carphone Warehouse. Pricing is similar to other European countries, as the 8GB model will sell for €399, while the 16GB model will run €499. Tariffs will begin at €45 a month. This news follows a report from yesterday, which found support for O2 Ireland in the latest iPhone software. [via Macworld UK]
Update: According to O2’s web site, none of the available tariffs include unlimited data, instead capping usage at a 1GB a month, and Visual Voicemail “is not currently supported.”
Apple has sent out notices to select media outlets inviting them to a special “iPhone Software Roadmap” event to be held on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA on March 6. The invitation reads: “Please join us to learn about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new enterprise features.” The graphic in the email features a map, with signs labeled “Enterprise,” “SDK” and “Software Update.” It is unclear whether the SDK will be released at the event, and what enterprise announcements the company might have planned, although an Apple job posting from late last year did suggest that the company was working on support for Microsoft Exchange email on the iPhone.
Britannica has launched its Britannica Mobile iPhone Edition online encyclopedia for the iPhone. The web application features “tens of thousands of articles” covering all subjects, accessible through an iPhone- and iPod touch-friendly interface. It also offers full-text searching, thousands of high-resolution thumbnails that expand to full-size images, and page layouts optimized for cell phone bandwidth. “People today want information wherever they go,” said Dan Smith, senior vice president at Encyclopaedia Britannica. “They want to satisfy their curiosity the moment it’s aroused, whether they’re on a train, in a restaurant talking to friends, or watching a sunset on the beach. Now we can get answers to them in ways that weren’t possible before.” Britannica Mobile iPhone Edition can be accessed by visiting i.eb.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.
New carrier bundles found inside iPhone software 1.1.4 suggest that O2 will be the device’s carrier in Ireland, and provide confrmation of support for T-Mobile Austria. Macity, which previously found evidence of Italian carrier TIM in iPhone software 1.1.3, reports that new bundles [Translated Link], named “O2_ie.bundle” and “TMobile_at.bundle” are present in the Carrier Bundles folder of the new software. Earlier this month, T-Mobile chief executive Hamid Akhavan said that the company would begin offering the iPhone in Austria in the first half of 2008, making the discovery of its bundle more of a confirmation than a revelation; we’ve previously heard little about a potential carrier for the device in Ireland. Macity suggests that the appearance of these bundles, coupled with Akhavan’s statement that the iPhone would arrive in Austria in the first half of this year, might mean a similar roll-out schedule for the device in Italy and Ireland.
Apple has released software version 1.1.4 for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to Apple, the update “includes bug fixes and supersedes all previous versions.” It is currently unclear whether any new features have been added with the update; however, with Apple scheduled to release the iPhone and iPod touch software development kit (SDK) this week, it is possible that this update could be a precursor to that release. iPhone and iPod touch software version 1.1.4 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.
According to a new report, Apple’s release of the Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch will be delayed. Citing an unnamed source, BusinessWeek reports that the SDK, scheduled for release by the end of February, will be delayed anywhere “from one to three weeks.” The report also notes that the situation is “fluid,” and that “a lot of last-minute decisions are close to being made about what precisely will or will not be disclosed” this week. After months of anticipation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs in October announced the company’s intentions to release the SDK, which allows third-party developers to write native applications for the devices, in February.
A new iPhone program, developed by Erica Sadun, offers LoJack-like tracking of the device via Twitter. The installation steps required for the program to function are somewhat advanced, and require a jailbroken iPhone and a Twitter account. Basically, the program uses the iPhone’s Maps program to triangulate its position, and then turns these coordinates into a Google Maps URL, which is then processed by tinyURL, and posted in a Twitter message. The program itself is now available as a free download.