Apple has instituted a new policy regarding iPhone purchases, limiting sales to two per customer and prohibiting cash-only sales of the handset. The new policy, put in place on Thursday, aims to help discourage people from reselling the phones, and should also help reduce strains on inventory heading into the holiday shopping season. “Customer response to the iPhone has been off the charts, and limiting iPhone sales to two per customer helps us ensure that there are enough iPhones for people who are shopping for themselves or buying a gift,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said. “We’re requiring a credit or debit card for payment to discourage unauthorized resellers.” Previously, there were no cash restrictions on iPhone purchases, and sales were limited to five per customer. Last week, Apple said that it estimates as many as 250,000 iPhones have been sold “with intention to unlock.”
Barry Gilbert, vice president of Strategy Analytics’ BuyerTRAX, has said that iPhone sales of 1.6 to 1.7 million in the holiday quarter would likely make it the top-selling handset in the U.S. “The iPhone has momentum that is basically unparalleled,” says Gilbert. In a Forbes article comparing sales of the iPhone to the Motorola RAZR, the analyst claims that the iPhone is gaining momentum faster than the now-ubiquitous RAZR, which reportedly sold 750,000 units in the first 90 days. “If you add up all the RAZR products, it’s still the leading family,” says Gilbert. “But if you look at any given model, like the v3, the iPhone seems to have surpassed that.” Apple sold 1.12 million iPhones in its last fiscal quarter.
Apple has launched a new iPhone Dev Center providing resources and tools for developing web apps for the iPhone and iPod touch. In an email sent out to ADC (Apple Developer Connection) members, Apple described the new site: “Complete with technical documentation, sample code, and videos through ADC on iTunes, the iPhone Dev Center is your single source for information on designing, coding and optimizing web applications for iPhone and iPod touch.” In detail, the center offers Web Development Guidelines, iPhone Tech Talk Videos, Sample Code, an iPhone Reference Library, a place to register for future iPhone Tech Talks, links to grab the Safari 3 Public Beta for compatibility testing, and a place to submit your completed web application for inclusion in Apple’s web apps library. It is currently unclear whether this Dev Center will also serve native third-party iPhone developers once the official SDK is released in February. Use of the iPhone Dev Center requires an Apple ADC account; non-ADC members can sign up for a free Online Membership.
Reporting its third-quarter financial results, iPhone carrier AT&T revealed that it achieved a net gain of 2 million wireless subscribers, possibly close to one million of those being iPhone users, assuming Apple’s estimate of 250,000 unlocked iPhones is correct. The gain is the highest third-quarter subscriber increase in the company’s history, and represents a 46.8 percent increase over the year-ago quarter. Additionally, the company’s wireless data revenues increased 63.9 percent versus results in the year-earlier quarter, “driven by increases in both consumer and business data usage.”
Speaking during the company’s Q4 Financial Results Conference Call, Apple COO Tim Cook stated that the company “estimates 250,000 iPhones were sold with intention to unlock,” and that “many of those sales happened after the price cut.” The iPhone accounted for $118 million in revenue, which is derived from “handset sales, carrier agreements, and Apple-branded and third-party iPhone accessories.” Apple has previously stated it will use a 24-month subscription accounting model for the iPhone. Asked about the possible success of a 2.5G iPhone in Asia, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said there was “nothing to announce today,” while reiterating the company’s intentions to bring the device to Asia in 2008. Finally, $100 iPhone credits are being accounted for as customers redeem them, and the company expects most redemptions to be completed by the end of the year.
Researchers for Strategy Analytics claim that the iPhone could become the best-selling handset in the US within the next six months. In addition, the handset has already become the best selling device for AT&T, according to reports. “The iPhone has become AT&T’s top selling device, commanding some 13 per cent of AT&T’s overall handset sales, and the fourth top selling handset in the US market,” said Barry Gilbert, vice president of the Strategy Analytics BuyerTRAX programs. “Although the iPhone hasn’t had an expansionary impact in the market, the iPhone has quickly assumed a leading market share position and raised the ante for smart devices. The sales trajectory we are observing with the iPhone could make it the top selling device in the US over the next 1-2 quarters.” The current best-selling handset, the Motorola RAZR V3, has seen its lead diminished recently, according to Strategy Analytics.
According to the latest ChangeWave survey, completed October 2, 82 percent of iPhone owners report being “very satisfied” with their purchase, up five points from the group’s previous July survey. This places Apple well above all other cellular manufacturers in this regard; the only other company with a satisfaction rating above 50 percent is Research-in-Motion. In addition, Apple also placed tops in the future purchases category, with 16 percent of respondents who plan to purchase a cell phone in the next six months saying they plan to buy an iPhone.
Apple has posted three new iPhone ads, continuing the theme of iPhone users against black backdrops that debuted in three new ads that appeared last week. In “Delay”, aviation profession Bryce explains how his iPhone allowed him to check the weather from the plane, reducing a three hour delay to only 30 minutes. “The Winger” features ballet dancer Kristin, who uses her iPhone to update her blog, thewinger.com. Finally, in “My Show”, Ken, an off-broadway theater producer, uses his iPhone to communicate with the show’s director and keep tabs on what critics and fans are saying online. All three ads are available for viewing on Apple’s website.
In an update posted to Apple’s web site today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has confirmed that the company does plan on releasing a Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod touch, and that it will be “in developers’ hands in February.” Jobs goes on to explain the delayed release of the SDK, saying: “It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc…. We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.” Currently, the only way to run third-party native applications on the iPhone and iPod touch is through the unauthorized jailbreaking of the devices.
A photo posted by flickr user Jeff Croft shows that his iPhone has a sound icon on its ring/silent switch. According to an email Croft sent to Mac blogger John Gruber, the iPhone was purchased on June 29 in Lawrence, Kansas, so the icon is not a recent addition. Several other iPhone owners have commented on the photo, claiming their early-run units have sound icons as well, including one owner who provided a comparison shot of his iPhone, which has the icon, and his wife’s, which does not. This discovery follows several reports of iPhone users believing they have “broken” units, only to discover their lack of sound is due to the ring/silent switch being moved. Does your iPhone have a sound icon on the ring/silent switch? Let us know in the comments.
Apple and Orange have announced that Orange will be the exclusive French carrier of the iPhone, which will make its French debut on Thursday, November 29. The 8GB iPhone will sell for 399€, or roughly $567, and will be sold in France through Orange’s online and direct retail stores. Details of available service plans have not yet been released.
“We are excited to partner with Orange and bring iPhone to France in time for the holidays,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone is an amazing product and we hope mobile users in France will love it as much as we do.”
“The iPhone is a marvelous product and will change how people think about mobile. I’m delighted that it is launching in France through Orange, and I’m sure that our customers share my excitement. Our partnership with Apple is a natural fit because we are two global brands who share the same values of simplicity and innovation. It’s going to be a very merry Christmas for Orange customers all over the country!” said Didier Lombard, CEO, France Telecom.
This announcement comes less than a week after Apple stated that it had no set date for the phone’s launch in France, and confirms a statement made by Lombard that the launch would take place “during November”.
Initial iPhone buyers were ten times more likely than other new phone buyers to have previously owned a Treo, and three times more likely to have owned a T-Mobile branded phone (such as the Sidekick), according to a new report from The NPD Group. NPD surveyed more than 13,000 consumers to collect data for its iPhone Report, which aims to provide insight into how the iPhone is affecting mobile phone sales in the U.S. In contrast to the Treo and Sidekick, iPhone buyers were no more likely than the average buyer to have previously owned a Blackberry. In addition, consumers who switched carriers were three times more likely to switch from Alltel or T-Mobile than from other carriers.
“The iPhone’s Internet and media capabilities have resonated with consumers—especially those who previously owned Treos and Sidekicks,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD. “Its advanced operating system makes it competitive with smartphones for many tasks, while its sleek design and lack of expandability is reminiscent of fashion phones.”
Greenpeace has posted a new report [PDF Link] claiming that the iPhone contains hazardous substances, and findings in the report have led to a lawsuit against Apple. According to research performed by Greenpeace’s Research Laboratories in the UK, the iPhone contains toxic brominated compounds (indicating the presence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs)) and hazardous PVC. “Apple missed a key opportunity when it rolled out the iPhone in June. There is no reason why the iPhone could not have been made without toxins like vinyl plastics and brominated flame retardants as Nokia is already doing,” said Rick Hind of Greenpeace.
Afterwards, The Center for Environmental Health announced that it is suing Apple based on research found in the Greenpeace report. According to the Center, California’s Proposition 65 law states that products exposing consumers to phthalates or other chemicals known to be reproductive toxins or carcinogens must carry a warning label. The iPhone does not. “In general what we try to do is encourage the manufacturers through a negotiated settlement to reduce the use of these chemicals,” said Caroline Cox, spokeswoman for the Center for Environmental Health. “That would be our goal with Apple.”
In May, Apple CEO Steve Jobs penned an update, “A Greener Apple”, focusing on Apple’s environmental efforts, in which he said: “Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in its products by the end of 2008.” [via MacWorld]
The law firms of Folkenflik & McGerity and Hoffman & Lazear have filed a $1.2 billion class action suit on behalf of iPhone owners against Apple and AT&T Mobility (AT&T’s cellular unit) in US District Court. The case, Paul Holman and Lucy Rivello v. Apple, Inc., AT&T Mobility, LLC., claims that the companies’ agreements to restrict iPhone users to using only the AT&T cellular network for voice and data, and to restrict users to using only applications from Apple, run afoul of Federal antitrust laws, California antitrust laws, and California unfair trade practice laws. The suit goes on to say that Apple and AT&T are liable for “computer trespass”, based on the recent 1.1.1 iPhone software release, which disabled many SIM unlocks, third-party software, and left some users’ phones inoperable. The suit claims these changes were not technically required for the new features Apple was offering in the update.
“There is little question that Apple and AT&T have misused Apple’s programs to improperly coerce consumers to buy only AT&T voice and data services and only Apple programs. That is unlawful under both Federal and state laws, and any terms in Apple’s and AT&T’s contracts to the contrary are also unlawful and unenforceable,” said Max Folkenflik, one of the attorneys on the case. “Apple and AT&T have no more right or technological justification for forcing iPhone users to use only AT&T service and Apple applications than Ford would to force car owners to use only Ford batteries or tires, or than the maker of your television has to force you to watch only Fox or CBS.”
The suit calls for compensatory damages of $200 million, which are trebled according to law to $600 million, as well as for punitive damages of $600 million, and for injunctions prohibiting the alleged unlawful conduct and voiding the unlawful contract terms. More information, including a complete copy of the class action complaint, is available on the lawsuit’s website, appleclassaction.net.
A new “jailbreak” process, allowing for installation of third-party software on both iPhone and iPod touch units running software v1.1.1 and first discovered by members of the iPhone Dev Team, has been confirmed by Engadget and has been posted online. While the process is still very technical, and not ready for widespread use, it does represent a large technical hurdle overcome, particularly in the case of the iPod touch, which up until now has been unable to run any third-party native software. It has been confirmed that the iPhone’s Mail and Maps applications, along with other third-party applications, are now running on the iPod touch.
Alongside these developments, iPhoneSimFree, makers of a commercial iPhone unlocking solution, have announced an unlock solution for phones running software v1.1.1, as well as an “unbricking” process for iPhone owners who saw their previously unlocked devices rendered inoperable by the 1.1.1 software update. It is worth noting that the solutions being offered by iPhoneSimFree rely on the same TIFF exploit used in the new “jailbreak” process; this exploit, found in MobileSafari, also poses a security risk, and as such is likely to be “fixed” by Apple in a future software update.
Apple has told Thompson Financial News that while the iPhone is scheduled to launch in Germany and the UK on Nov. 9, it has “not announced any other country launch dates in Europe.” This statement follows remarks made by France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard that the group has signed a contract with Apple to make Orange the distributor of the iPhone in France and that the device’s French launch would take place “during November.” Prior to this, several press reports had appeared claiming there was a dispute impeding contract talks; also, it was reported that a French law calling for sales of both a locked and unlocked version of the iPhone might pose a challenge for negotiators.
Apple has debuted three new iPhone television ads, featuring iPhone users against black backdrops, explaining how the devices has changed their lives. In the first spot, “Mankind”, iPhone owner Doug talks about Visual Voicemail, proclaiming it to be “one of the greatest advancements in the history of mankind.” The second spot, “Meredith”, features a story of how Elliot used his iPhone to lookup the name of his girlfriend’s boss’ fiance before she arrived at a dinner, saving them the embarrassment of admitting to not knowing her name. In the third ad, titled “One Thing”, iPhone owner Stefano explains how he no longer has to carry a bag around to hold his camera, iPod, and two separate cell phones, because the iPhone replaces them all. All three ads are airing now and are available for viewing on Apple’s web site.
A French law that would require the iPhone to be sold both with and without a contract may delay the launch of the device in the country, reports MarketWatch. According to the report, French daily Les Echos quotes a source from French Telecom’s Orange as stating, “The risk we’re evaluating this week is that Apple crosses France off”. The law requiring the sale of the iPhone without a contract could potentially undermine any revenue-sharing agreements between Apple and Orange; it has been speculated that Apple has revenue-sharing agreements in place with every iPhone carrier. A spokeswoman from Orange had previously confirmed that the company has signed an agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone in France.
As we noted last week, included in Apple’s iPhone Software version 1.1.1 update were several security fixes for the phone’s Bluetooth, Mail, and Safari software. According to a Computerworld report, this drew the ire of security analysts, who believe that vendors should separate functionality and security updates, especially when the update may have unwanted consequences for some users. “With the iPhone update, Apple is now producing a fear of taking their patches,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc. “If they release a functionality update and security fixes at the same time in the future, some users will think twice about applying it.” Garter Inc.‘s John Pescatore added, “There should definitely be a separation between security and functionality. Users shouldn’t be forced to accept new functionality to get security fixes.” Apple has traditionally offered a mix of standalone security updates and bundled security fixes for its Mac OS X operating system.
Apple has posted its iPhone Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), a document meant to help developers create usable applications for the device. The iPhone HIG offers developers in-depth information on the iPhone’s user interface, the concepts behind it, and how to design for it. Of particular interest to some may be a note from the HIG which leaves room for possible future native third-party iPhone applications. It states, “Currently, developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications. Therefore, this document focuses solely on the presentation of web applications and other web content on iPhone.” The document is available for viewing online or as a PDF download. [via Daring Fireball]