Speaking at an AT&T event being held at CTIA, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega hinted that the 3G iPhone would be released in the coming months, and also made comments regarding Verizon and Sprint’s iPhone competitors. When asked about plans to sell a 3G iPhone, de la Vega said, “You’re going to see our integrated devices be 3G in the not too distant future. I mean months.” De la Vega said of iPhone rivals from Samsung and LG, “You can look like an iPhone, but you’re probably not going to be like an iPhone.” He added, “There’s a lot of catching up to do.” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has previously said a version of the iPhone that runs on faster 3G data networks would be released in 2008; more recently, reports indicated that Taiwan’s Hon Hai had been awarded an exclusive contract to build a “more advanced version” of the iPhone, which would likely be a 3G model.
Following our March report on 16GB iPhone shortages, new checks reveal that the supply shortage has spread to the 8GB model as well. Nine U.S.-based Apple retail locations contacted today by iLounge yielded only two locations with 8GB models in stock, seven locations that were completely sold out of iPhones, and not a single location with the 16GB model in stock. Previous reports from stores suggested that the shortage might last until May, and though the reasons for the shortage have remained unclear, there has been speculation that updated or refreshed iPhone models may be debuted soon. Informed sources have suggested to iLounge that the current iPhone models will be replaced with new ones in the near future rather than kept around.
According to the latest ChangeWave survey, more than one-third (35%) of respondents planning on buying a smartphone in the next 90 days plan on purchasing an iPhone, a 12 percent jump from the previous survey. In addition, ten percent of respondents said the announcements made at Apple’s iPhone Software Roadmap event made them more likely to buy the device in the future. Smartphone market share numbers for the iPhone jumped, increasing three points to 9%, behind only Palm, which fell for the seventh straight survey to 16%, and RIM, which maintains a sizable lead with a 42% share of the market. Customer satisfaction numbers for the iPhone also remain high, with 79% of iPhone-toting respondents saying they are very satisfied with the device. The survey of nearly 3,600 consumers was conducted on March 17-24.
Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. has been awarded an exclusive contract to build a more advanced version of the iPhone, Dow Jones reports. A source familiar with the situation said Hon Hai would be the exclusive contract manufacturer for the new phone, which may well be the 3G-capable version of the iPhone, expected to launch later this year. A Hon Hai official confirmed that the company was in talks with Apple to supply a “more advanced version” of the iPhone, but declined to provide further details. Apple declined to comment on the story.
The iPhone may be launching in Mexico, and possibly some South American countries, in June, according to a report from major Mexican newspaper El Universal. Citing sources within Apple, as well as conversations with Apple Support, the paper reports [Translated link] that the handset will arrive in June on Telcel in Mexico, and may also launch around the same time in other unspecified South American countries. According to the report, the phone may be priced around 33% higher than it is in the United States, meaning that a 16GB iPhone would sell for around 7,400 pesos. Apple has yet to officially announce any iPhone roll-outs for the region. [via MDN]
Accompanied by photographs of the hacked beta 2.0 version of the iPhone’s Software, Engadget has posted a list of several features that have been added to the as-yet-unreleased update. Though most of the features, such as Exchange server support, the App Store, Cisco VPN support, and Parental Controls for iPod, Safari, YouTube, the iTunes Store and App Store are already known, and others have yet to be unlocked by Apple, the following additional features have been discovered:
An expanded Calculator, with a widescreen-orientation “scientific mode,” featuring functions found in more deluxe pocket calculators.
Multiple simultaneous message deletion in Mail.
Organize the list of Wi-Fi networks to join by preference.
iPhone Software 2.0 is due for release at the end of June. As is always the case with unreleased and beta Apple software, features may be unexpectedly cut or added to the final version.
Apple today sent out a series of bulk acceptance or temporary rejection letters to registered iPhone developers who applied last week for the company’s paid iPhone Developer Programs. During the iPhone Software Roadmap Event held last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained that the program would be available to a limited number of developers at first, a message that is repeated in the email.
U.S. applicants received an e-mail stating: “Dear Registered iPhone Developer, Thank you for expressing interest in the iPhone Developer Program. We have received your enrollment request. As this time, the iPhone Developer Program is available to a limited number of developers and we plan to expand during the beta period. We will contact you again regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time. Thank you for applying.”
Applicants outside the United States received an e-mail stating: “Dear Registered iPhone Developer, Thank you for expressing interest in the iPhone Developer Program. We have received your enrollment request. At this time, the iPhone Developer Program is only available in the US and will expand to other countries during the beta period. We will contact you again regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time. Thank you for applying.”
Neither of these e-mails further explained Apple’s criteria for acceptance or rejection, spurring concern that large developers or other past Apple partners were accepted rather than a wider variety of applicants; in any case, it appears that the number of accepted developers is a small portion of those that applied. Some developers, as noted by TUAW, have expressed anger or disappointment at not making the first cut, and suggested that attempting to develop for the platform without Apple’s involvement at this stage is an “unacceptable risk,” given that approval is required to actually sell iPhone software. Did you apply and receive an email today? Let us know in the comments.
Apple appears to be experiencing a widespread shortage of 16GB iPhones, based on checks at multiple Apple retail stores, as well as a report from German iPod publication iFun.de. Ten U.S.-based Apple retail locations contacted by iLounge yielded only one store with the higher-capacity model in stock, while Apple’s online store currently lists a 5-7 business day shipping time on the 16GB model. According to iFun (Translated link), T-Mobile Germany is not currently offering the 16GB version, and the company’s representatives have suggested that the shortage might last until May. Separate checks on the availability of 32GB iPod touch models, which were widely available, suggest that the shortage of 16GB iPhones is not related to Apple’s decreased orders of flash memory, but may instead be attributable to low production of 16GB iPhones, high demand, or merely a reallocation of supplies for international consumption.
Confirming earlier reports of relatively quiet launches, Apple today officially released the iPhone in two additional countries with existing partners: Ireland with O2, and Austria with T-Mobile. Today’s Irish launch of iPhone was announced in late February, mimicking the British launch in several respects but diverging in others. iPhone is available in Ireland through O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores for €399 (8GB) or €499 (16GB), VAT-inclusive, with service plans starting at €45. Irish customers have a 1GB data cap, will not have access to Visual Voicemail, instead paying 15 cents per minute for access to traditional voicemail, and will be required to enter into a new 18 month minimum contract for a purchase. No rollover of minutes or text messages is permitted from month to month.
The Austrian launch of iPhone retains the same iPhone hardware prices (€399/8GB, €499/16GB), but differs in service plan pricing and features. Austria’s Classic plan is offered at €39, with a Supreme plan at €55, both inclusive of 3GB of data, Visual Voicemail, and free T-Mobile Wi-Fi access. The Classic plan includes 1,000 minutes of cell network talk time, but no SMS messages, while the Supreme plan includes 4,000 minutes of total cell and land line talk time, spread 1,000 minutes a piece across four types of networks, plus 1,000 SMS messages per month. Additional charges apply for special calling plans to other countries, and voice/data services when outside of Austrian borders. T-Mobile is selling the iPhone through its Austrian and online stores.
Apple has announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). This year’s event will be held June 9-13 in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and for the first time ever, will feature sessions for developers building native applications for the iPhone using the SDK. iPhone sessions scheduled for the event include “Get Started,” “Build Powerful Applications,” “Integrate the Technologies of iPhone,” “Create Engaging Media Experiences,” “Target the Web,” and more. As Apple has stated that iPhone software 2.0 will be released in June, it is possible that should Apple CEO Steve Jobs give a keynote address, the new software would be featured prominently.
Demonstrating their ability to breach Apple’s iPhone software security measures, members of the iPhone Dev Team have announced that they have completed a hack that both jailbreaks and unlocks iPhone firmware 2.0, which is set to be released in June. This firmware, which is apparently distinguished from the demonstration iPhone software included with Apple’s software development kit, includes new parental controls and other never-before-seen iPhone features, in addition to ones demonstrated by Apple during its iPhone Software Roadmap event last week. According to reports, the new procedure directly patches the firmware as opposed to hacking into it via an exploit, which makes it more challenging for Apple to fix. It remains unclear whether the 2.0 software will become available to users prior to its official release, as it has been distributed only to select iPhone developers and enterprise partners.
Update: Video of an iPhone running the hacked 2.0 firmware has been posted online.
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.”