Since last week’s release of new 1.1.3 software for the iPhone and iPod touch, a number of users, including iLounge editors, have experienced serious problems when trying to update the devices. In some cases, the update appears to have been completed successfully, but renders the devices inoperable, leaving them stuck in recovery mode. When an attempt is made to restore the devices, one of several dialog boxes (pictured below) pops up and says the device can not be restored due to an unknown error.
In addition to user-submitted complaints and questions, many reports of similar problems and errors have appeared on Apple Support’s discussion boards. Some users have been able to recover the iPods or iPhones after deleting and re-installing iTunes or past software update files, but other users have tried these methods without success, finding no alternative but to return the non-functioning units to Apple. Many of the messages are more frantic than this one, left by SinclairZX81: “My iPhone is now permanently stuck in ‘recovery mode.’ Restore fails with unknown error (9). Help.”
It is worth noting that our editors have experienced problems updating both iPod touch and iPhone hardware that has never been jailbroken or otherwise altered; one iPhone that failed to update on its first attempt succeeded on a subsequent attempt, but an iPod touch has remained incapable of being restored despite multiple attempts on different computers. Apple has yet to respond to iLounge’s request for comment on the issue.
A software-based jailbreak update for iPhone software version 1.1.3 has been released. Jailbreaking an iPhone makes it possible for unathorized, third-party applications to be installed on the iPhone. This new jailbreak requires that the user have a previously-jailbroken iPhone running software version 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 with Installer.app installed and a Windows computer. According to reports, unlocked phones appear to remain unlocked following the jailbreak/update; however, this new jailbreak method will not unlock an iPhone — it will only update a previously jailbroken unit to version 1.1.3.
Update: Following the initial release of the iPhone 1.1.3 jailbreak software, the group responsible for most of the software’s development claimed that the software had been released against its wishes, and ejected the member responsible for the early release. iPhone Dev Team member Jonathan Zdziarski has posted an update on the situation, explaining that the initial release by former member Nate True “included both files belonging to Apple and patches which contain copyrighted information by Apple, making his personal release illegal and unethical.” The iPhone Dev Team has since released its official 1.1.3 jailbreak, which functions on both the iPhone and iPod touch, and is performed on the device itself. In addition, another jailbreak application, iJailBreak, has been released in both a computer-based form (iJailBreak), and in a device-centered form (iJailBreakMobile) which allows users of jailbroken iPhone and iPod touch units running firmware 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 to update their devices using Installer.app.
Based upon figures released by Apple and its iPhone partner companies, then analyzed by iLounge, up to 35% of iPhones sold to date may have been purchased with the intent to unlock. According to Apple, slightly over 3.7 million of the handsets were sold in 2007, while its primary service partner AT&T today announced that it ended the year with “just at or slightly under 2 million iPhone customers.” Additionally, though the phone’s European carriers O2, Orange, and T-Mobile have not released official iPhone sales figures, estimates place their unit sales at or below the low end of their targets, suggesting that cumulative European sales now total 300,000-400,000, for a liberal estimate of 2.4 million.
Even if all of these customers kept their iPhones locked to these carriers, this number would leave around 1.3 million iPhones unaccounted for—approximately 35% of total iPhone sales in 2007. Although it is possible that a large number of customers who received the devices over the holidays might not have activated them by the end of the year, the number would not likely push the overall percentage below 33%, or one-third of all iPhones sold during the year. In addition, not all iPhones sold in Europe were sold locked, as both Orange in France and T-Mobile in Germany offered unlocked versions of the phone, albeit at much higher prices than their locked counterparts. It is presently unknown as to how many of the officially unlocked phones were sold.
To date, Apple has been unable to supply a concrete metric on how many handsets were being sold with intent to unlock. However, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, speaking during the company’s Q1 Financial Results Conference Call, said that the company believed the number to be “significant.”
Apple has lowered its projected second quarter shipments of the iPhone from two million units to around 1-1.2 million units, according to a new report. Citing sources at Apple’s handset component suppliers in Taiwan, China’s Economic Daily News reports that sales of the iPhone in Europe have been lower than expected, leading Apple to reduce its shipping estimates for its fiscal second quarter. Reporting its first quarter financial results earlier this week, Apple revealed that it sold 2.315 million iPhones in the quarter; it gave no specific unit guidance on expected second quarter iPhone sales or shipments, except to state that it remains “very confident” in its ability to hit its goal of 10 million units sold by the end of 2008.
Blogger and noted iPhone hacker Nate True has gotten to examine the latest iPhone software, version 1.1.3, on a deeper level, and found it to be “ready for official installable applications.” According to True, the iPhone’s home screen application, SpringBoard, no longer needs modification to show extra applications in the /Applications folder. In addition, all applications now run as the user “mobile” instead of root, and preferences are now stored in /var/mobile rather than in /var/root. In Mac OS X and most UNIX variants, running applications as the root user can be a security risk; running apps as a lesser user creates a sort of sandbox for the applications that keeps them from accessing certain parts of the operating system, including system-level files. True also claims that the developer frameworks have undergone many changes, perhaps to “make it easier for official SDK developers to make programs,” and that the SpringBoard app appears to have gained widget support, via a class called SBWidgetApplication which manages the package location and icon. Apple has said that an official SDK for the iPhone and iPod touch will be released in February.
According to statements made by Advanced Info Service chief marketing officer Sanchai Thiewprasertkul, the Thai-based mobile operator is collaborating with Singapore Telecom and Australia’s Optus to launch the iPhone throughout the region. “Mr Sanchai said that AIS, in collaboration with SingTel and the Australian mobile operator Optus, were discussing phone volumes, marketing terms and business model partnerships,” the Bangkok Post reported. Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Telecom, and SingTel owns 21.4 per cent of AIS; however, Sol Trujillo, CEO of competing Australia telecom Telestra, has said he had conversations with Apple about bringing the iPhone to the country. It was previously reported that Apple was in talks with AIS to launch the iPhone in Thailand, but Sanchai also warned that Apple’s demands for revenue sharing may prove to be a sticking point in the negotiations. “Given our one baht a minute of airtime, it would not make sense and would be impossible for us to share revenue with Apple,” Sanchai said.
Sales of the iPhone through O2 have come just shy of the UK mobile operator’s expectations, according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, the Financial Times reports that actual sales were around 190,000 units in the first two months following the iPhone’s UK launch, falling just short of the 200,000 units the company expected. O2 declined to comment on iPhone sales figures, but said it was “delighted with the response to the iPhone, which has seen unprecedented levels of customer satisfaction,” and added that the iPhone is the company’s fastest-selling handset ever “by a significant margin.” The iPhone is also sold in the UK by Apple and Carphone Warehouse; in early December, O2 chief Matthew Key said that iPhone sales were currently in line with expectations.
Apple is in talks with Thailand’s Advanced Info Service about the iPhone’s launch in the country, according to a statement made by an AIS executive. “We are negotiating on details, including a revenue sharing standard. Apple needs a local operator to promote iPhone,” said Prattana Leelapanang, assistant vice president for Advanced Info Service’s wireless business marketing. Leelapanang gave no details of when the talks might be completed. AIS has 24.5 million wireless customers, representing about half of the Thai cellular market; Apple has previously said that it plans to launch the iPhone in Asia sometime in 2008.
AT&T has announced details of its iPhone business plans, and is now offering the handset to business customers. In addition to an eligible voice plan, business customers wanting to add an iPhone to their account must also sign-up for a 2-year service agreement or a renewed 2-year agreement and must add one of three Enterprise Data Plans for iPhone to their account. Enterprise Data Plans for iPhone include unlimited data, Visual Voicemail, and either 200 ($45), 1500 ($55), or Unlimited ($65) SMS text messages a month. In addition, two separate Global Data Plans are available — 20MB for $25 a month, or 50MB for $60 — for business users who travel internationally. In addition, qualified Corporate Responsibility Users and other corporate-liable users who activate an Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone by March 31, 2008 may be eligible to receive a service credit in the amount of $25 per month through December 31, 2008. [via Engadget]
According to several reports, iPhone software version 1.1.3 has the ability to restore functionality to phones that were bricked during a past update. Because the software performs a complete rewrite of phone’s baseband, removing/writing over anything written by unlocking solutions, it allows users with bricked iPhones to restore the device’s original functionality, although after the update the device will once again be locked to AT&T. iPhone software version 1.1.3 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.
Apple today announced the release of iPhone software version 1.1.3, a free update for the device which adds several new features including Maps with location, the ability to send SMS messages to multiple recipients, and the ability to customize the home screen. “iPhone doesn’t stand still—we’re making it better and better all the time,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve delighted millions of users with this revolutionary and magical product and it’s great to share these improvements with them.” The location feature of Maps uses both cellular and Wi-Fi triangulation technology to provide an approximate location to the application, which also sports a new interface. The iPhone’s home screen now allows users to move and rearrange application icons, and also allows the user to create multiple home screens, which can be filled with Web Clips, direct links to web-based applications and web pages that appear on the iPhone’s home screen alongside the standard applications. The update also adds support for chapters, subtitles, and alternate languages for videos, as well as support for the display of lyrics when listening to music. iPhone software version 1.1.3 is available now through the update feature in iTunes.
Alongside the software update for the iPhone, Apple has also released a similar upgrade for the iPod touch which adds the new features implemented in the iPhone update, including Web Clips, customizable home screen, and the new video and audio capabilities. This update is a free download and is available through the update feature in iTunes. Separately, Apple has announced a paid update for the iPod touch that brings the iPhone’s Mail, Maps (with Wi-Fi triangulation), Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications to the iPod touch; the application pack is available now from iTunes and sells for $20.
Updated Jan. 29, 2008: During the rush of new product and software announcements at Macworld Expo, we accidentally skipped specifically mentioning two software updates that were released alongside iTunes 7.6 — firmware version 1.1 for the iPod classic and firmware 1.1 for the iPod nano (with video). According to Apple, the updates add support for iTunes Movie Rentals and contain unspecified bug fixes, although users have reported Cover Flow and Click Wheel improvements, as well as a new audio bug affecting some iPod classic users. iPod classic firmware 1.1 and iPod nano (with video) firmware 1.1 are both available now through the update feature in iTunes.
Apple and China Mobile have broken off talks to bring the iPhone to China, according to a Reuters report. In November, it was reported that talks between the two companies had failed, but China Mobile quickly denied the report, and said that it was still in negotiations to offer the handset. China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou had previously warned that he disliked the revenue-sharing business model Apple had used elsewhere for iPhone agreements, and it is thought that contention over this point may have led to the split. “It’s not a surprise. China Mobile doesn’t want to share its non-voice revenue,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of BDA China, a Beijing-based telecoms research consultancy. “The two have very strong egos and, as in any relationship, that often doesn’t work.” Apple has said that it plans to launch the iPhone in Asia in 2008.
Google has announced new improvements to its suite of web applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, including Search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and more. The updated apps offer an improved user interface that Google says is “easier to activate, navigate and use via a touch-screen.” Other improvements include the ability to customize the applications that appear on the Google.com menu bar, speed improvements for Gmail and Calendar, and the ability to access iGoogle gadgets on the iPhone. To take advantage of the new improvements, simply browse to www.google.com from an iPhone or iPod touch.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has denied that the company plans to make a direct competitor to the iPhone, saying that it plans to focus on its Windows Mobile software instead. “No, we won’t do that. In the so-called smart phone business we will concentrate solely on software with our Windows Mobile program,” Gates said in an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “We have partnerships with a lot of device manufacturers from Samsung to Motorola and this variety brings us significantly more than if we would make our own mobile phone.” Previous rumors had suggested that Microsoft was planning to build its own handset to challenge the iPhone; the company currently competes with Apple’s iPod with its Zune portable media player.
Delphi has demonstrated its Wireless Vehicle Access software running on an iPhone this week at CES. Described as a concept, the new system utilizes a Bluetooth link between the iPhone (or other device) and a new smart key fob to allow users to check their car’s vitals from up to a mile away. Functions include the ability to turn on the engine, turn on the climate control, roll down the windows, check door unlock/lock status, monitor tire pressure, check how much gas is in the car, and even tell the condition of the oil and brake fluid. It is unknown when/if the new system may find its way into production vehicles.
Speaking during a panel discussion at CES, Travis Boatman, vice president of worldwide studios for Electronic Arts’ mobile division, hailed the iPhone as “capable and powerful,” while stating that it has had a negative impact on the mobile gaming industry. “But it’s a replacement for someone who had a Razr before,” said Boatman of the iPhone. “They [consumers] still want their content but there’s no distribution platform in place so there’s a negative impact on the industry.” “These devices are capable and powerful,” he continued. “They’ll be great in the long term but it will take some time as people adapt to devices.” Boatman also described the challenge facing game publishers as consumers upgrade their phones to new devices that may or may not be compatible with games purchased for their previous cell. Apple has received much criticism for its decision to charge iPod owners for new versions of iPod games, updated to support the iPod nano (with video) and iPod classic, regardless of whether the customer previously purchased the game for the fifth-generation iPod. “If you bought a PlayStation 2 and you buy an Xbox ‘790’ four years later, do you think EA games is going to redevelop that game and not charge you for it?” he said. “It’s not inexpensive.”
In a recent meeting with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, O2 CEO Matthew Key has said that 200,000 iPhones should have been sold in the UK by early January, in-line with expectations. Speaking ahead of his meeting with Jobs, Key told the Financial Times, “The big question for us is ‘What does the future look like in terms of product roll-out?’.” Key has said that he is confident that O2 will carry the 3G iPhone when it is released next year, and also revealed that iPhone customers are using large amounts of data. About 60 percent of iPhone users are sending or receiving more than 25 megabytes of data per month, while only 1.8 percent of O2 ‘s other mobile customers on monthly contracts are consuming data at that rate. According to Key, the iPhone is also helping the carrier steal customers from its rivals; about 60 percent of iPhone users are new to O2. [via MDN]
NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s top mobile operator, has confirmed previous reports that the company is in talks with Apple to carry the iPhone. “It is true that Mr Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. and our president (Masao) Nakamura held a meeting,” an NTT DoCoMo spokesman said, declining to reveal the timing or content of the discussions. Citing unnamed sources, Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that Apple sees DoCoMo as its top choice in the region; however, the carrier may be opposed to Apple’s demands for a share of subscriber revenue. Earlier this week it was reported that Apple is in talks with both DoCoMo and Softbank Mobile, a DoCoMo rival, to carry the iPhone in Japan.
According to figures provided by Canalys and published by Symbian, the iPhone accounted for 27% of all smartphone sales in North America in Q3, besting the entire lineup of Windows Mobile-based smartphones, as well as others running Symbian, Linux, and Palm operating systems, and placing second only to the RIM Blackberry. The iPhone’s debut in second place (Q3 was the first full quarter of sales for the handset) is particularly notable because its competition was available from multiple carriers, and in Mexico in Canada, while the iPhone was only available in the region from AT&T in the U.S. Perhaps not coincidentally, Symbian has stopped publishing detailed stats on its Fast Facts web page, as it has done in the past, instead placing them in a separate, little publicized document.
According to a new report, Apple is in talks (Subscription req.) with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and Softbank concerning the launch of the iPhone in the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the situation say Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently met with NTT DoCoMo’s president, Masao Nakamura, to discuss a deal to offer the iPhone in Japan. NTT DoCoMo is Japan’s largest cellular provider, and it has been suggested that it is likely to be Apple’s first choice as partner, as the company has shown a strong preference for signing agreements with top mobile operators. The same sources also said that Apple has also been in discussions with No. 3 operator Softbank Corp., and that executives from both companies have made multiple trips to its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. None of the three companies has yet commented on the report.