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Apple's SIM Card Plan Ditched?

micro-sim-cardPreviously, it had been rumored that Apple was trying to design its own SIM card for iPhone users, to give them a chance to use the device and be able to bypass carrier contracts at the same time.  But now, some carriers are saying they would forgo subsidizing the costs of the phone if Apple were to follow up on those plans.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, Apple has decided to scrap the plan after carriers threatened to continue subsidizing the costs of phone.  Currently, mobile operators pay Apple the full cost of the phone, which they then pass on to the consumer for free, provided they sign up for 24-month contracts.

Apple had been planning on excluding carriers, like Vodafone and O2, from the sales process, in an attempt to try and build a better relationship with customers.  Apple had been trying to create an integrated SIM card which would allow customers to buy the phone outright.

Said a senior source at a mobile operator: “Apple has long been trying to build closer and closer relationships and cut out the operators.  But this time they have been sent back to the drawing board with their tails between their legs.”  Ouch.

In sort of a “consolation prize” though, Apple is still moving forward with the new SIM card in iPads.  The report is that Apple is planning to bring out the new integrated-SIM versions of the iPad prior to Christmas or early on in the new year.  The reason Apple is able to move forward with the iPad instead of the iPhone on this is because the iPad isn’t subsidized by mobile carriers.

The Sunday Telegraph continued saying that a new version of the iPad would be released within a few weeks and would be comparable the current model.  One change though is that the “lock” button on the right-hand side would be switched to a “mute” button such as the one on the iPhone. 

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter

(Image courtesy of iphonetopic.com)

 

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Apple’s Policy on LCD Screen Dead Pixels Gets Outed

Apple dead pixel policy
(Image courtesy of BGR)

If you have any Apple device with a screen, you’ve probably feared what might happen should the unit develop a dead pixel or three. As it turns out, Cupertino has a policy in place which has just been made public, used to decide if the unit should be repaired or replaced,

BGR got their hands on “Apple’s internal policy on acceptable numbers of pixel anomalies,” which was recently updated according to one of their sources. The screenshot above is used as a guideline by Apple Store Geniues in order to address repair issues involving a display.

“It essentially allows them to quickly and easily determine whether or not to repair or replace products with display defects,” the BGR report explains. “Apple provides its employees with a table showing the acceptable number of pixel anomalies for each product range.”

It would appear that the smaller the display, the more Apple is willing to address the problem. BGR uses the example of the iPhone and iPod, for which one single pixel anomaly is enough to get the unit repaired or even replaced, while the MacBook Air can have up to three light pixels, five dark pixels or a total of seven combined anomalies before they’re eligible for service.

However, even if the number of pixel anomalies are within the acceptable range, an Apple Genius has the option to exchange your afflicted product for another — but the bad news is, if the exchange unit also has anomalies within their acceptable range, you’re basically stuck with it. Good to know!

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Apple's Already Planning to Expand New Data Centre

Apple has been busy building one of the world’s largest data centers in Catawba County, North Carolina for some time now. This colossal edifice of silicon, wire and awesomeness is rumored to be the keystone of Apple’s future cloud-based computing ventures. Can MobileMe users expect to see more storage space coming their way? Perhaps, if we’re lucky, Apple will finally start putting the media-streaming know how they snagged through the purchase of LaLa to work for content-hungry iTunes users. No matter what Cupertino has planned for their massive North Carolina data facility, one thing is certain, it’s gonna be big… and stands to get a heck of a lot bigger.

According to All Things D, in addition to the 183 acres of real estate that Apple purchased in Catawba County to build their 500,000 square foot data center on, the company has also bought an additional 70 acre parcel of dirt directly across the road from their new facility resides. What could it mean.

Well, there’s two answers to that one, in our opinion: Either nothing or a lot.

If you can afford it (and Apple most certainly can) than you need allows for some wiggle room should you decide to expand a ways down the road. With this in mind, it seems perfectly reasonable for Apple to purchase a few extra acres for later use should they feel the need to expand the scope of their operations in the area. That said, in the company’s recent history, Apple has seldom left anything to chance. If you’re seeing a product today, chances are, it was planned as part of the company’s road map several years ago. With last week’s roll out of the new series of MacBook Airs, Steve Jobs proclaimed that we were looking at the future of notebooks. Much of the future, as Apple sees it, relies upon solid state drive technology. That technology, while obviously superior to old school moving-parts drives, is wicked expensive for the time being. It could very well be possible that Apple, foreseeing the success of Flash-based  computers, plans on providing a huge amount of cloud-based storage for MacBook toting consumers in order to keep the cost of their hardware relatively low.

So what will it be: Did Apple buy the additional land in order to have room to grow or is it all part of their master plan? Only time will tell how this one is gonna play out.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter

 


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RIM: Problems With 7-Inch Tablets Live In Apple's "Distortion Field"

rimbitesapple

(Image via The NY Times)

Yesterday, Steve Jobs had some subtle words for Apple’s competitors, and RIM was quick to respond right back.  The co-CEO of RIM said that the comments didn’t apply to users “who live outside of Apple’s distortion field.”  Ouch.

Those comments were made by RIM’s Jim Balsillie in an effort to fend off Jobs’ comments thought to be about the company’s 7 inch PlayBook launching in early 2011.  He thinks consumers are “getting tired of being told what to think by Apple.”

“For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7-inch tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience,” Balsillie had noted in his response.  “We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to full access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash.”

Balsillie was also not fond of Jobs’ comments about the iPhone outselling the BlackBerry in the September quarter.

“RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 (million to) 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter,” said Balsillie.  “Apple’s preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM’s August-ending quarter doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than sunny summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders.”

And the icing on the cake?

“As usual whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story.”

In case you missed it from yesterday, head here for a nice recap of Apple’s earnings call, including some of the comments from Steve that prompted RIM’s feisty response.

Whose claim do you feel is more validated, readers?  Apple’s?  RIM’s?  Neither?  Feel free to leave your thoughts below!

via AppleInsider

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter

 

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Highest Revenue Ever! Apple’s $20 Billion Q4 2010 Financial Results

Apple logo on glass

It’s almost hard to remember a time when Apple wasn’t making money hand over fist, especially with multiple quarters in a row boasted as their biggest yet. Cupertino didn’t disappoint Wall Street once again, racking up fiscal fourth quarter revenue of .34 billion and a net quarterly profit of .31 billion.

Apple just released the results of their fiscal fourth quarter for 2010 (actually the calendar third quarter which ended on September 30) and there are few surprises. The company had another record-breaking quarter, with revenue of .34 billion and net quarterly profit of .31 billion or .64 per diluted share, compared with .21 billion, net quarterly profit of .52 billion and .77 per diluted share for the same quarter a year ago. That’s 70 percent year-over-year growth, beating previous quarterly earning records by 0 million.

“We are blown away to report over billion in revenue and over billion in after-tax earnings — both all-time records for Apple,” said CEO Steve Jobs in a company statement. “iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter.”

iOS Devices

Apple’s sales were up in almost every category, with the iPod line showing the only decline with 9.05 million sold during the quarter, an 11 percent decline over the same quarter a year ago — and likely because more customers are picking up iPhones and iPads. But don’t cry for Apple, because the iPod still holds 70 percent of the MP3 player market, according to the latest NPD sales data.

As Jobs noted, the iPhone shot past Blackberry maker Research in Motion with 14.1 million units sold, up a whopping 91 percent from the same quarter last year — compared to 64 percent growth for the overall smartphone market.

The iPhone is now on 166 carriers in 89 countries, and has had very strong year over year growth in Asia and Japan. Apple also noted that the iPhone once again ranked highest in smartphone customer satisfaction from J.D. Power & Associates, with enterprise adoption accelerating from 60 to nearly 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Apple’s iPad sales for the quarter were 4.19 million — those sales figures were about the only thing to disappoint Wall Street, who had anticipated much larger numbers from the tablet device. Apple’s COO Tim Cook tempered that sentiment during the conference call by reminding everyone that enterprise adoption for the iPad is off the chart, with two-thirds of the Fortune 100 either deploying or piloting the device, concluding “This isn’t a hobby or something we’re doing lightly.”

Speaking of hobby devices, Jobs also divulged during the Q&A conference call that the new iOS-enabled Apple TV has sold 250,000 units, which the company is extremely pleased with.

Macintosh

It wasn’t all about Apple’s mobile lineup, either — the company shipped 3.89 million Macs during the fiscal fourth quarter, which was also an increase of 27 percent over the same period last year — and more than double the projected growth for the overall PC market.

The iMac in particular had very strong sales following its July refresh, and Mac growth was strong in every market, with Asia/Pacific and Japan showing the most growth.

On Competition

CEO Steve Jobs crashed the conference call to get in a few well-placed digs at competitors such as Research in Motion, reiterating that the iPhone has now flown past RIM’s Blackberry sales. “We’ve now passed RIM,” Jobs trumpeted, “and I don’t see them catching up with us in the future.” Considering that RIM is selling a variety of different Blackberry devices at any given time versus Apple’s two iPhone models (the iPhone 4 and 3GS), Apple’s sales figures are even more impressive.

And Jobs didn’t stop there — he leapt right into an even more intensive attack on Google, once again questioning the search giant’s recent claims that they are activating 200,000 Android devices every day. Jobs claims that Apple has activated 275,000 iOS devices per day for the last 30 days on average, although that no doubt includes the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

“There’s no solid data on how many Android phones are shipped each quarter,” Jobs lamented. “We hope that manufacturers will start reporting on the number of Android phones shipped.”

Jobs also took Mountain View to task over Google’s claims that Android is an open OS while Apple’s iOS is closed, claiming that developers have a huge challenge in supporting the 244 different Android handsets shipped over the last 12 months, while the App Store’s developers have only two — the current and previous version of iOS. The situation is likely to get even worse, with competing app markets coming from the likes of Vodafone and Verizon, which Jobs called “a mess for both users and developers.”

On the subject of the iPad, Jobs is confident that Apple will triumph over Google’s “fragmented approach” and remains committed to Cupertino’s “integrated approach” which Google paints as being closed. Noting that there are an “avalanche of tablets arriving in the coming months,” but noting that they are mostly seven-inch form factors versus the iPad’s roomier 10-inch screen — and that Google is going out of its way to tell tablet manufacturers not to use their latest Android 2.2 “Froyo,” and to wait for a tablet-specific version coming next year. “What does it mean when your software supplier tells you not to use their software in the tablets?” Jobs quipped.

Jobs was also quick to throw cold water on the idea of a seven-inch iPad, which has been widely rumored as being in Apple’s radar. “We’re not making a seven-inch tablet because we don’t want to hit a lower price point,” Jobs noted. “We just believe it’s too small to hit the user experience that people want.”

Finally, Jobs noted that there are 35,000 apps in the App Store today, while new tablets have “zero” and that iPad competitors are having a rough time competing with the device on price alone, even at the seven-inch screen size. “We think the current crop of seven-inch tablets will be DOA (dead on arrival),” Jobs concluded.

Questions & Answers

Following CEO Steve Jobs’ rapid-fire assault on the competition, the focus shifted to a question and answer session with analysts and investors, largely focused at the iPad and the iPhone. Regarding supply constraints on the iPad, Apple claims the situation is improving as their international rollout continues over the holiday season.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster queried Apple on its business for the next year or two, where Steve Jobs sees the iPad “clearly” affecting the notebook computer market. “I think the iPad proves that it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when,’” Jobs noted. When asked about the iPad being Apple’s second main business behind the iPhone, Jobs added that the company is already shipping more iPads than Macs, which speaks for itself. “We’re out to win this one,” Jobs said regarding the iPad. There was also the obligatory question about Adobe Flash compatibility, to which Jobs quipped, “Flash memory? We love Flash memory.”

On the subject of the smartphone being a “zero-sum” game, Jobs noted that in the next year or two, many non-smartphone users will convert to smartphones “and the pie is going to continue to grow. It’s a battle for mindshare right now, and iPhone and Android are winning that bat
tle.”

Jobs was in a particularly feisty mood when asked about the risks being managed in taking on the likes of Google’s Android. “Our goal is to be the best,” Jobs confidently stated. “We’re not the biggest — that’s Nokia. We admire them, but we don’t aspire to be them. Android is our biggest competitor — they outshipped us in the June quarter when we were caught in a transition, and we’ll see about the September quarter.”

The CEO also didn’t mince words on low-price dominance, claiming that Apple “doesn’t know how to make great handsets” like the models offered by competitor Nokia. “Our goal is to make great, breakthrough products but also drive costs down. We’re all about the best products at aggressive prices.”

Apple wrapped up the earnings conference call by fielding a question on what the company plans to do with its billion pile of cash, noting that “We firmly believe that one or more unique, strategic opportunities will present itself to us, and we’ll be in a position to take advantage of it” rather than simply return some of that cash pile to shareholders.

Finally, Jobs noted in the company’s press release that “We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year” — and we’re guessing that at least some of those will have the curtain drawn on them at Wednesday’s media event at Apple’s Cupertino campus.

Apple is anticipating revenue of billion in its fiscal first quarter of 2011, or .80 per diluted share, which means the company is again looking up, up up. Apple’s fiscal year 2010 fourth quarter results conference call is available as a QuickTime stream for the next week, and recommended listening just for the Steve Jobs quotes alone.

Check out Steve’s comments below.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Live Blog: Apple's Back to the Mac Special Event

Join us on Wednesday, October 20 at 10:00AM PDT as we live blog Apple’s Back to the Mac event.

We’re expecting Steve and company to announce the next major OS X upgrade and judging from their invite, we’re pretty sure it’s going to called Lion.

There are also rumblings of a new MacBook air being introduced.

We’ll all find out soon enough. See you then.

 

 

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Yahoo CEO Says Apple's iAds "Will Fall Apart"

One of Steve Jobs’ tentpoles appears to be a bit shaky right now. We’ll admit, we were a bit unsure when we first heard of iAds too.  Would Apple be as controlling over the content and as capricious in their ad acceptance and rejection as they had been at the App Store? This would be a test.

And if the rollout is any indication, advertisers and other executives aren’t very impressed with the product. Via 9 to 5 Mac, we see that Yahoo’s CEO, Carol Bartz, thinks Steve’s tentpole is too flimsy and “will fall apart.” Like us, she looked at Apple’s penchant for control of content and decided advertisers simply aren’t going to bite. Sex sells, as everyone knows, so if you want people to buy your car, your HDTVs, your Viagra, having a scantily clad bikini model somewhere in the ad, no matter how irrelevant, is a sure way to get clicks. But you will recall Apple’s rather high-handed purge of various bikini and wobble apps in the App Store. Put these two together, this is not a recipe for success.

iads

As we noted earlier, the iAd creation is in HTML5, which is still relatively new, and Apple has yet to deliver any kind of helpful or comprehensive SDK for iAds. Also, ad packages click rate and Apple’s cut makes iAds often not worth it. Most ominous of all, Apple has been actively engaged in the creation and content process, reputedly slowing down ad turn around time. Those of you with experience in advertising or marketing will recognize that increasing the number of heads involved in any creative project necessarily reduces the pace.

During Jobs’ keynote, he announced 17 partners for iAds who were going to be there at the launch. By July, only two of these, Unilever and Nissan, had actual iAds up and running, while Disney and JCPenney finally managed to put something up last month. The slow rollout definitely supports the criticisms others have launched.

Granted, Yahoo’s Bartz has a dog in this fight, so she’s not necessarily a neutral observer. Yahoo is looking to expand into the growing mobile advertising business. While it’s not necessarily the best business practice to join the market by bashing the other guy’s wares, it happens every day. Will iAds fall apart? Only time will tell.

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Apple's Policy Changes Could Have Been Result of FTC Investigation [Updated]

Since Apple’s big policy changes in app development yesterday, software developers have been jumping for joy at the freedom to build their own applications with whatever tool they well choose. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s change in policy on its third party app development may have a little something to do with being under fire from the FTC.

WSJ says that this could have all taken place around June, when the FTC launched an investigation to figure out whether or not Apple had violated antitrust laws with its earlier, more restrictive, policy. It’s not clear if Apple’s statements yesterday had anything to do with this alleged investigate.

Still, the revised policy has its fair share of restrictions as well. iOS device users are still not be able to use Flash on their mobile devices. The only major change in policy is that developers are now allowed to use Flash-based software to piece together their apps and can use other types of programming languages.

There is also some speculation that Apple’s relaxed position could also have to do with pressure to compete with Google’s Android Market, since the Android mobile operating system is now making its way to tablets. Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with technology firm Forrester Research, said in the WSJ article that some developers are beginning to develop apps with Android Market first so that they can actually reel in some cash while they’re waiting to get in through the final stages of Apple’s approval process. 

Regardless of what the real reason is for Apple’s new policy, it’s undoubtedly welcome by developers, especially the ones that have had to cut down on features in their app because they’ve been denied time and time again.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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Apple's Policy Changes Could Have Been Result of FCC Investigation

Since Apple’s big policy changes in app development yesterday, software developers have been jumping for joy at the freedom to build their own applications with whatever tool they well choose. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s change in policy on its third party app development may have a little something to do with being under fire from the FCC.

WSJ says that this could have all taken place around June, when the FCC launched an investigation to figure out whether or not Apple had violated antitrust laws with its earlier, more restrictive, policy. It’s not clear if Apple’s statements yesterday had anything to do with this alleged investigate.

Still, the revised policy has its fair share of restrictions as well. iOS device users are still not be able to use Flash on their mobile devices. The only major change in policy is that developers are now allowed to use Flash-based software to piece together their apps and can use other types of programming languages.

There is also some speculation that Apple’s relaxed position could also have to do with pressure to compete with Google’s Android Market, since the Android mobile operating system is now making its way to tablets. Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with technology firm Forrester Research, said in the WSJ article that some developers are beginning to develop apps with Android Market first so that they can actually reel in some cash while they’re waiting to get in through the final stages of Apple’s approval process. 

Regardless of what the real reason is for Apple’s new policy, it’s undoubtedly welcome by developers, especially the ones that have had to cut down on features in their app because they’ve been denied time and time again.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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Live Blog: Apple's Music Event

Join us on Wednesday September 1 at 10:00AM PDT for our live coverage of Apple’s Special Event.

We’re expecting new iPods, an updated iTunes and maybe, just maybe a brand new Apple TV.

See you then.

 

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