Best Buy offers discounts on MacBook Air, iTunes gift cards, iPhone 4S handsets

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Date: Thursday, May 9th, 2013, 06:22
Category: iPhone, MacBook Air, News, retail

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If you’re looking for something to get mum for Mother’s Day, this could come in handy.

Per 9to5Mac, Best Buy is discounting US$125 off the price of MacBook Airs for the next three days to celebrate Mother’s Day. The retailer knocks off US$100 across the board, then using code MOM25 knocks off another US$25.

Prices after discount:
- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/64GB: US$874.99

- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$974.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$1074.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/256GB: US$1274.99

Best Buy is also offering a US$100 iTunes gift cad for US$85. Those interested in an iPhone 4S can pick one up for $50 with contract.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen some Mother’s Day tech sales of your own, please let us know in the comments.

T-Mobile sells 500,000 iPhones in first 30 days, sees first subscriber growth in four years

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Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 05:42
Category: iPhone, News, retail

T-Mobile and the iPhone seem to be getting along just fine, even in the first stages of the relationship.

Per 9to5Mac, wireless carrier T-Mobile just released its first earnings report since it started officially carrying the iPhone on April 12th and ‘coincidentally’ the first where it has picked up customers in 17 quarters. The carrier had accumulated 2.1M iPhone users without even carrying the iPhone up until it launched in April, which is up from 1 million in 2011.

T-Mobile tallied approximately 500,000 iPhone 5 sales in the first 30 days which is stronger than you might initially imagine, especially off a launch cycle. Other US carriers who have reported iPhone sales in the millions over 3 months note that about half of their sales are iPhone 5 (the other half are the cheaper iPhone 4 and 4S models).

The US #4 carrier saw its subscriber base increase by 579,000 customers, a number likely directly correlated to iPhone sales. In addition, T-Mobile will be adding 9 million MetroPCS users over the coming quarters to its ranks. T-Mobile also ran into some legal problems last month and was forced to change its marketing terminology with regards to ‘no-contract plans’ and was forced to offer customers refunds.

If you’ve snagged an iPhone running on the T-Mobile network and have any feedback to offer about the experience, please let us know in the comments.

Apple, Best Buy team up for week-long MacBook Pro discounts, drive prices down across the board

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Date: Monday, May 6th, 2013, 06:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

One person’s price war is another person’s savings.

Per AppleInsider, Apple and Best Buy have again teamed for a week-long MacBook Pro sale, not only helping the Mac maker push units in an unfavorable climate for the PC market, but also helping to driving down prices for consumers even further at competing resellers.

Best Buy’s MacBook Pro sale took particular aim at the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, and initially prompted Amazon to follow suit by offering the 2.5GHz 13″ MacBook Pro (8GB,128GB) for US$1,349.00 this weekend before selling out and diverting its inventory draw from Datavision.

Similarly, MacMall followed Best Buy’s lead, and as of Monday had recouped claim to the lowest prices on 13-inch MacBooks when customers go to the MacMall web site and then apply Promo code APPINSDRMWB38717. For example, MacMall is offering the entry-level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 128 gigabyte solid-state drive for US$1,377.38, compared to Apple’s suggested price of US$1,499.

The latest drops come just weeks before Apple is excepted to introduce its 2013 MacBook lineup at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. They also arrive amid the largest historical decline in PC growth in recent memory.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities indicated last month that Apple plans to refresh its MacBook lineup at WWDC in June. Most notably, the refreshed models are expected to feature Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors.

According to Kuo, Apple plans to keep its legacy MacBook Pro with disc drive available, because the hardware is popular in emerging markets where Internet connectivity is not as dependable. He indicated that new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models will ship by the end of the June quarter, while updated MacBook Pro with Retina display units will arrive later this year due to apparent yield issues with high-resolution screens.

Reduced prices on existing models are usually a sign that updated hardware is on the horizon, but this year it’s believed that the reductions are also driven by weak overall PC sales, as well as initial pricing on Retina MacBook Pros that was too high. That has helped to fuel expectations that Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display models will be available at prices more in line with market expectations.

Apple revises terms of One to One service plan, installs 60 day deadline for data migration

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Date: Monday, April 22nd, 2013, 07:15
Category: News, retail

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You know Apple’s One to One service, available for US$99 with the purchase of a new Mac?

Well, there are now some new provisos.

Per ZDNet, the service terms now state that data migration is available only in the first 60 days (previously 12 months), transfer must be by wired means (no more Wi-Fi transfers), only hardware bought with the Mac will be installed (previously any hardware) and staff will now ‘assist’ with installation of software purchased during training sessions (previously they’d install it for you).

Beyond that, you’re sorta on your own…

Apple extends replacement program for MacBook bottom case, bumps claim period from two to four years

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Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013, 06:16
Category: MacBook, News, retail

You remember Apple’s somewhat-weird polycarbonate MacBook with the rubber bottom?

And how the rubber bottom had its own oddities?

Well, Apple’s extending the coverage period on said weird rubber bottom.

Per MacRumors, Apple last week quietly made a change to its program regarding defective MacBook bottom cases, extending the coverage period from two years after purchase to four years.


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The program’s extension comes as the original end-by date quickly approaches, and now gives affected MacBook owners four years from the original purchase date to make a claim.

In May of 2011, Apple initiated the bottom case replacement program for MacBooks shipped between October 2009 and April 2011, citing an issue in which the non-slip rubber bottom of the polycarbonate MacBook would separate from the chassis. Variations of Apple’s rubber design can be found in current generation products like the Mac mini and AirPort Extreme.

Under the terms, which will remain unchanged, Apple will replace any affected unit free of charge, regardless of warranty status.

Apple will continue to offer three options for case replacement: an appointment with an Apple Genius at an Apple Retail Store; repair through an Authorized Service Provider; and a do-it-yourself kit that includes all materials and instructions needed to replace the component.

The company notes that last week’s extension may not be the last, as it will continue to evaluate the service data and provide further program supplementation if deemed necessary.

iPhone 5 now available for pre-order through T-Mobile

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Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, News, retail

There’s nothing wrong with a good pre-order via an upcoming iPhone carrier.

Per 9to5Mac, customers will be able to order the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s newly revamped “un-carrier” unlimited plans for a carrier-exclusive low price.

Along with the low down payment on the pre-order comes a two-year financing plan that totals US$579.99, which is US$70 cheaper than purchasing the phone unlocked. Plans start at US$50 per month for 500MB of high-speed data and throttled data afterward, while US$70 per month gets unlimited high-speed data.

Following the pre-orders this week, all models of the iPhone will be available for immediate purchase on April 12. Customers who purchase a new iPhone 5 through Apple or T-Mobile will be able to take advantage of T-Mobile’s speedy LTE network in markets where it is available, but those who use older AT&T or unlocked iPhone 5 models will need to install an over-the-air update to do so (and won’t get all the AWS HSPA bands without new hardware). T-Mobile also announced that the updated iPhone 5 will receive HD Voice service in a future software upgrade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile to offer iPhone 5 on April 12th, will incorporate $99 upfront payment plan

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Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 08:33
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The day T-Mobile customers have been waiting for has arrived.

And you’ll be able to snag an iPhone via T-Mobile on April 12th.

Per AppleInsider, customers of T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., will get long awaited access to Apple’s iPhone when the iPhone 5 launches on the carrier’s network April 12.

The announcement was made Tuesday by T-Mobile as part of the company’s “Uncarrier” branding, which seeks to differentiate the carrier from competing providers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint — all of which already carry the iPhone.

In standing out from the others, T-Mobile is offering a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5 for US$99 up front, with 20 additional monthly payments of US$20. With an April 12 sale date in T-Mobile’s retail stores, preorders will begin April 5.

Joining the iPhone 5 will be the remainder of Apple’s current smartphone lineup: the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. As with other carriers, only the iPhone 5 will be compatible with T-Mobile’s new 4G LTE high-speed data network.

T-Mobile officially announced its new LTE network at Tuesday’s event as well, available in a total of seven U.S. markets: Kansas City, Kan., Houston, Tex., Las Vegas, Nev., Phoenix, Ariz., San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile’s new data plans include 500 megabytes of high-speed online data and unlimited calls and texts for US$50. For an extra US$10 per month, users get 2.5 gigabytes of high-speed data, while unlimited 4G access runs US$70 per month. In addition, users are simply throttled, not penalized, when they go over their data cap.

Bringing Apple’s iPhone to T-Mobile with full support has been no small task. While the carrier counts some two million iPhone customers among its base — with about 100,000 added per month — T-Mobile’s reliance on the 1700MHz frequency for its 3G HSPA+ network proved an obstacle for T-Mobile with regard to Apple’s bestselling smartphone.

The 1700MHz frequency, branded as “4G” but not “LTE”, is unique to T-Mobile among carriers, and allows iPhone users only very slow 2G connectivity. Given T-Mobile’s relatively small customer base, Apple never moved to support T-Mobile’s standard. Instead, T-Mobile has been working to switch much of its network to 1900MHz in order to allow iPhone connectivity. The company will be repurposing its 1700MHz band for 4G LTE.

T-Mobile last year announced a deal with Apple to begin selling Apple products in 2013. Executives from the carrier said in January of this year that customers could expect Apple products on T-Mobile sooner rather than later, floating the possibility of “three to four months” rather than “six to nine.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to triple franchise stores in India between now and 2015, official Apple Store locations unlikely

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Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 07:47
Category: News, retail

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Never doubt the power of economic expansion.

Per the Economic Times, Apple plans to triple the number of Apple-exclusive franchise stores in India from 65 to 200 by 2015, but the country still won’t see any official Apple Stores.

Government regulations mean that branded stores must source 30 percent of their stock from Indian companies, something Apple’s yet unable to do. Thus, the stores will sell via franchisees who operate under their own brands, the stores emulating Apple’s look and feel in the process.

These franchisees, who did not wish to be named, told ET that they have been asked to scale up operations in the country as the Cupertino-based company plans to grow aggressively in the country. In addition to increasing the number of Apple exclusive stores, called Apple Premium Resellers, that are owned and managed by 17 franchisees, the company also plans to expand its presence in multi-brand stores, they said.

Some of these plans are said to have been discussed during last month’s Mumbai visit of Hugeues Asseman, Apple’s vicepresident (sales) for Europe, Middle-East, India, and Africa. Asseman met key trade partners and franchisee owners to take stock of the company’s India business and to outline the company’s expansion plans. Apple’s London-based spokesman, Alan Hely, declined comment on the company’s expansion plans.

Apple will increasingly look to expand sales in developing markets as its traditional markets have reached saturation point.

Apple’s high prices relative to local salaries mean the company has historically struggled to sell significant volumes in India, but the introduction late last year of monthly installment plans along with more focus on marketing and distribution saw Apple’s share of the smartphone market jump from 3.9-percent in Q3 to 15.6-percent in Q4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked images, training documents show Apple merchandise headed to Staples for late March

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Date: Wednesday, March 13th, 2013, 11:08
Category: News, retail

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The Apple stuff you’ve been hankering for Staples to carry should be there by late March.

Per Mac Rumors, a series of screenshots from training materials for Staples sales associates. The screens describe sales curricula for the iPhone 5, Apple TV, and Mac notebooks.

Those materials showed that the training modules needed be completed by March 26 or 27, likely indicating that the retailer will begin selling Apple products shortly thereafter.

Reports that Staples was preparing to sell Apple products emerged earlier this year, with a Staples executive tweeting the news, though without specifics. Subsequent reports brought word that the retailer would be carrying Apple TV and accessories.

The addition of Apple’s higher-end merchandise to Staples’ offerings will put Apple products in more than 1,500 outlets across the United States, considerably expanding the computer maker’s accessibility. Staples’ reputation in the enterprise sector could also aid Apple in accelerating the growth of its presence in the enterprise segment.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent explores loan, resale features for DRM-protected content

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Date: Friday, March 8th, 2013, 08:19
Category: News, retail, Software

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This could get fairly interesting, as well as get around some parts of DRM that, well, NOBODY likes.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a recently published patent application details of an exhaustive Apple invention covering the resale and loan of owned digital content like e-books, music and movies, possibly portending an upcoming addition to iTunes.

The patent is outlined in three divisional applications, each titled “Managing access to digital content items,” with two filed in September of 2011, and one in June of 2012. From the most recent filing, Apple describes a system that manages the authorized transfer of owned digital content between end-users. The invention is basically a system that allows purchasers to sell or loan “used” content to other people.

Interestingly, Amazon was recently granted a patent for a nearly identical system, though the online retailer’s solution calls for a centralized marketplace while Apple’s is largely distributed. Amazon first filed for its property in 2009.

Apple’s filing provides for the authorized access to digital content, otherwise known as digital rights, to be transferred from one user to another. As an example, a first user may purchase an e-book from the iBookstore and later decide to sell that content to a second user. The original owner notifies the store that they want to sell the item, and if certain criteria are met, the user is allowed to transfer rights to the second buyer. Content itself may or may not change hands, but more importantly the rights attached to said content is managed so that the first user can no longer access the content once it is sold.

The invention decentralizes the process by taking the online store out of the equation:

“Alternatively, instead of a third party determining whether one or more criteria are satisfied, the first (or second) user’s device makes the determination and may be responsible for preventing the first user’s device from further consuming the digital content item. In some embodiments, the online store and/or the publisher of the digital content item may receive a portion of the proceeds of the transfer.”

It should be noted that the content need not reside permanently, or at all, on a user’s device, meaning the system can be cloud-based.

Key to the system’s operation is ownership history. As the “used” content is passed from one user to the next, a database is established so that the proper owner is allowed access to the item and can then choose to transfer those rights to yet another party.

Transferral of authorized access can be device-to-device through an intermediary like an online store, device-to-device without an intermediary, meaning verification must be established at a later time. In another embodiment, no device-to-device transfer is necessary.

Restrictions of transfer are a means to manage the flow of content between end users and can be set by the publisher. For example, a certain e-book may not be resold within a six month period and must have a resale price of at least US$5. The restrictions can be set on a timed basis, frequency of transfer, price and to whom the content is sold.

Proceeds are also discussed, with publishers or content makers sometimes granted rights to a portion of the resale value. These percentages are based on time and how many transfers have been completed for a particular item. Gifting is also supported, with proceeds for these transfers split between the end user and publisher.

Other embodiments deal with temporary transfers, partial transfers, delayed transfers and loans.

Eliza C. Block and Marcel Van Os are credited as inventors of all three applications, while E. Caroline F. Cranfill, Alan C. Cannistraro, William M. Bachman and Timothy B. Martin were added to the list for one of the 2011 filings.