Rumor: Apple to invest $1 billion in Sharp plant to produce iPhone, iPad LCD units

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iPad, Rumor

A rumor is percolating that Apple is planning to invest US$1 billion in a new Sharp factory for building screens for its iPhone and iPad products has resurfaced, just days after a separate report claimed that the next-generation iPad has been delayed in part because of production constraints from the supplier.

Per Reuters, MF Global analyst David Rubenstein resparked the rumor in a sales note to clients on Wednesday, giving shares of the Japanese company a lift of more than 2 percent.

“We think it is highly possible that Apple will make an investment in Sharp’s Kameyama plant to the tune of around $1 billion in order to secure stable supply of screens for iPhones and iPads,” he said, adding that Apple’s investment would have a “material impact on Sharp’s profitability.

Last December, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei claimed Apple would pay a “large portion” of the 100 billion yen (UD$1.3 billion) required to build a new LCD manufacturing facility and would buy “most” of the panels produced there. Production was said to begin at the plant in the later half of 2012.

On Monday, a rumor emerged that Sharp’s supply of 9.7-inch 2,048 by 1,536 resolution next-generation iPad displays are insufficient for an iPad 3 launch in 2011. It was noted that the high-resolution displays are “mainly supplied” by Sharp with a high price, and Apple’s other suppliers Samsung Electronics and LG Display are both “unable to reach a good yield.”

“Due to iPad 3′s requirements over the physical thinness, rich color support and toughness will all conflict with the panel’s technology restrictions; therefore, this could cause a delay in the launch,” the report said.

LCD displays have reportedly been a limiting factor for both the original iPad and the second-generation model.

Apple was also said to be helping Toshiba on a new LCD plant last year, but an official with the supplier claimed “nothing had been decided” regarding a new plant. In April, reports claimed Toshiba had become the sole manufacturer of LCDs for the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently published Apple patents describe steps towards driverless printing for Mac OS X, iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Patents, Rumor, Software

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In a pair of recent filings, Apple proposed methods that would eliminate the necessity of printer drivers in order to streamline the printing process for users of its Mac OS X and iOS devices.

The first of the two patent applications, entitled “Walk-Up Printing Without Drivers,” reveals methods of circumventing the printer driver requirement when such a driver is absent from Apple mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Macs.

According to ConceivablyTech, Apple describes a new printing process for such mobile computing devices that would allow them to wirelessly detect a printer and determine whether a printer driver is installed.

The user would then be able to continue the printing job even without a driver by employing a series of APIs based on a discovery protocol such as Bonjour, an Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) and the PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file, which is used to detect the printer.

In the event that the device still fails to pair up with the printer, the user would have a third way of completing the print job — by sending the documents to the cloud and using cloud-specific printing technology to communicate with the printer.

The second patent, filed on the same day as the first one, September 14, 2010 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and entitled “Data Formats to Support Driverless Printing,” shows a different driverless and wireless printing concept also explored by Apple.

The company suggests a new way for mobile devices to bypass the printer driver requirement by storing a specific data structure that would be able to specify the following printing characteristics when detecting a printer: “resolutions, color spaces, bit depths, input slots, face-up/face-down input orientation, output bins, face-up/face-down output orientation, duplex printing support, media types, copy support, supported finishings, and print quality.”

A new “URF-supported key,” part of discovery and transport protocols, is also mentioned by the second patent. Its purpose would be to offer a “standardized set of capabilities that are supported by a printer” that would let the user “generate printer data for any type of printer” without actually storing any printer-specific details on the computing device in question.

The new wireless and driverless technologies described by these two new patents would complement Apple’s existing AirPrint capabilities for iOS devices and could lead to a future driver-free printing experience for most Mac OS X computers.

Apple has high hopes for AirPrint, but has run into a few snags in the transition to driverless printing. Late last year, one rumor suggested that Apple had run into intellectual property issues with the AirPrint architecture, a problem that could potentially be alleviated should the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office grant the above patents to Apple.

Meanwhile, printer makers such as HP and EFI have been steadily adding support for the feature to their printer offerings.

If you have any thoughts on this, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: Apple testing 4G-capable LTE iPhone with carrier partners

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Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, 03:53
Category: iPhone, Rumor

A new rumor claims that carriers who support Apple’s iPhone are testing a new prototype handset that is capable of connecting to high-speed 4G long-term evolution data networks.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple’s carrier partners are testing an iPhone prototype with LTE. The rumor is evidence that Apple is pursuing support of the high-speed 4G network standard.

The report includes images said to be code from the firmware of an internal iOS test build issued to “one of Apple’s major carrier partners.” The references to LTE support are included in a property list, or .plist, file.

Specifically, a “key” tag allegedly discovered in the testing code references “Connected mode LTE Intra-frequency Measurement.” It offers no indication of what iPhone model might include 4G support.

In the U.S., Verizon’s LTE network launched in late 2010 in major markets across the country, while AT&T plans to have a full-fledged 4G network in 15 markets available to 70 million customers by the end of 2011.

Reports have suggested that an LTE-capable iPhone is likely more than a year away, as one recent report claimed that appropriate chips from Qualcomm are not ready for the iPhone’s required production levels. Also a concern is battery life with devices running power-hungry 4G antennas.

Commenting on LTE networks in April, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said his company has been extremely happy with the performance of its 3G handsets, including the iPhone 4, leaving him in no rush to produce an LTE-capable smartphone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to hold iPod media event on September 7

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Date: Friday, August 12th, 2011, 03:17
Category: iPod, Rumor

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An unverified report claims Apple will hold its annual iPod media event on September 7th and could possibly announce the iPhone 5 later that month September or in early October.

Per Japanese Mac site Kodawarisan, Apple will release a new line of iPods at the event. The rumor also claimed the fifth-generation iPhone is “likely to be announced” in late September or Early October. Though the publication has been an accurate source for Apple predictions in the past, Friday’s report remains unconfirmed.

Last year, the iPod maker held the event on September 1st, releasing a new iPod touch, new multi-touch iPod nano, iPod shuffle and the US$99 cloud-centric update to the Apple TV.

In May, photos of a part allegedly for the seventh-generation iPod nano have fueled rumors that Apple may add a 1.3-megapixel camera to the device. The supposed leak came on the heels of a separate unverified photo purportedly of an iPod nano frame that emerged in April.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged iPhone 5 proximity sensor picture leaked, subtle differences noted

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 06:59
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to get excited about something today, it might as well be a purported proximity sensor.

The SW-Box.com web site claims to have obtained a genuine iPhone 5 proximity light sensor flex cable in advance of the device’s launch, which is expected this fall. The site boasts that its offices are “just a stone’s throw” from “the Apple factory,” presumably a reference to contract manufacturer Foxconn’s plant in Shenzhen, China.

“We spend a lot of resources on research and intel,” the company wrote on the part’s product page, asserting that the component is indeed the “real deal.” The part’s pricing starts at US$3.77 and goes as low as US$2.52 for volume orders of 50 or more.

According to the site, the flex cable is “evidence of solid engineering” and is “micro-architectured to stand the tests of time and heat.” The part also contains “dynamic light sensing diodes and high flow terminals” that balance functionality and cost.

The part contains minor differences in the orientation of the components as compared with a corresponding iPhone 4 part, possibly providing evidence of at least a partial redesign in the next-generation iPhone. One difference appears to be the fact that, as with the CDMA iPhone 4, the noise canceling microphone has been moved off of the proximity sensor part.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple could be launching iTunes streaming service in near term

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Date: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, 11:11
Category: Rumor, Software

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A few days ago, Apple enabled the ability for users to re-download purchased TV shows, as well as stream them to the Apple TV. Per AppAdvice, this move could be presented as evidence for Apple’s plans to launch a new re-downloading and streaming service dubbed iTunes Replay.

Since users already have the ability to re-download past music and video purchases, this seems like an inevitable next step for Apple. Such a feature would give users access to movies, music and television shows they purchased as far back as January 1, 2009, as well as streaming abilities for the Apple TV and any iOS devices. According to AppAdvice, the alias “iTunes Replay” will stick and that it’s currently being used internally.

The new service could be released within the next few weeks to purposefully distinguish its functionality from that of Apple’s upcoming iCloud service, which has just recently become available as a beta to app developers. If iTunes Replay indeed becomes a reality, it could help negate the need for third-party services like Spotify and Netflix.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 might be ‘larger than expected’, could sport 4G-LTE features

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 05:45
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone 5 will inevitably get here.

It’s a question of how large the unit will be when it does.

Per AppleInsider, sources in Apple’s overseas supply chain have reportedly indicated that the company’s forthcoming fifth-generation iPhone could be a more significant upgrade than previous rumors have suggested, sporting a larger display and thinner design.

Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said he has consistently received one question from investors regarding the upcoming iPhone: Why would a customer consider buying a so-called “iPhone 5″ without 4G if Apple plans to release a 4G long-term evolution handset in the future?

“Well, it turns out that we are picking up that this interim iPhone refresh in the Fall timeframe could be a bigger upgrade than we expected,” Wu wrote. “We believe this keeps the iPhone fresh and competitive and helps maintain its leadership position.”

He said that supply chain sources have indicated that the new iPhone will feature a slightly larger display than the current 3.5-inch screen found on the iPhone 4. The fifth-generation iPhone is also expected to feature the same dual-core A5 processor already found in the iPad 2.

In addition, those same sources reportedly said that the new iPhone will feature a similar form factor and size to the iPhone 4, but will sport a thinner bezel.

“We believe this makes sense to improve the iPhone experience without making it too bulky as we have seen with models from competitors,” he wrote.

While Wu expects the new iPhone to have a bigger screen and thinner profile, checks within the supply chain have said that the fifth-generation iPhone is not expected to have 4G-LTE high-speed wireless data connectivity. The new technology still has issues with battery life and network coverage, problems that Wu believes Apple will fix at some point in the future.

Rumors of an iPhone with a larger screen are not new, with a number of reports over the last year claiming that Apple’s next handset will feature an edge-to-edge display that would allow the iPhone to retain the same size. Such reports stand in contrast to other claims that the next iPhone will have a design largely similar to the current iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to enter HDTV market in March of 2012, offer three initial models

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 04:20
Category: Rumor

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A few years ago, Apple announced it would add the word “Inc.” to its title and become more of a lifestyle company.

Creating high-definition television sets sort of fits into that framework.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Trip Chowdhry with Global Equities Research issued a note to investors on Sunday in which he shared his “converged view” on an anticipated Apple HDTV, with information based on details culled from a number of developer events he attended.

Chowdhry said the product that is most similar to Apple’s rumored HDTV is the Bose VideoWave, a 46-inch LCD HDTV with an integrated surround-sound speaker system. The VideoWave aims to simplify HDTVs by reducing clutter, and to improve picture and sound quality.

The Bose VideoWave gives the greatest sense of where Apple’s alleged HDTV may be heading, Chowdhry claimed. He said his “converged view” of data from various developers is “probably” 75 percent accurate, and that it will “probably” be launched in March of 2012, with developer sessions at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Apple’s rumored HDTV is apparently being benchmarked against the VideoWave because it has reduced its number of cables to just three. Chowdhry believes that any television set from Apple would have just one cable.

The VideoWave also sports a thickness of six inches, packing in 16 speakers. Chowdhry said that Apple’s purported HDTV will be a third as thick and will also have 16 speakers.

“These 16 built-in speakers gives a complete surround sound experience, without the need for any external speakers,” he said.

Bose’s HDTV product comes in just one screen size and price point: 46 inches for US$5,200. Chowdhry said that an HDTV from Apple will have three screen sizes and three price points.

“The DSP chip in Apple HDTV is a brand new chip based on Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi,” he added. “As of now, this new chip is not in mass production.”

Claims of a forthcoming Apple-branded Internet-connected HDTV are not new, and one report from April even suggested that Apple could release its own television set this year. One analysis issued earlier this month found that Apple’s market capitalization could grow by US$100 billion if it were to enter the HDTV market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to launch next-gen iPhone in October

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 03:17
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per All Things D, Apple’s next iPhone may arrive even later than expected, with a new rumor claiming the handset will not go on sale until the month of October according to sources close to the story.

The latest rumor contradicts recent reports which have claimed the so-called “iPhone 5″ will debut in September. In addition, AT&T employees have allegedly been prohibited from taking vacation during the last two weeks of September, which has suggested to some that a new iPhone could launch in that timeframe.

“Sources with knowledge of the situation say reports claiming AT&T has blacked out employee vacations during the last two weeks of September in preparation for the retail debut of the next iPhone are misinformed,” Paczkowski wrote.

In recent days, cases claiming to show the new design of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone have been appearing in large numbers in China. The proliferation of those cases has fueled speculation that the launch of a new iPhone could happen soon.

An October launch would be later than most expect, and much later than the typical June-July timeframe that Apple has used to launch new iPhone models in years past.

At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple did not unveil any new hardware. Instead, the company showed off iOS 5, a software update it promised is coming this fall, presumably alongside the next-generation iPhone.

In early July, one report claimed that Apple’s component suppliers in Taiwan were gearing up and preparing materials for production of a fifth-generation iPhone in October. Most rumors have suggested that the upgrade will include an improved 8 megapixel camera, along with the speedy A5 processor already found in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Apple unlikely to purchase Barnes & Noble retail chain

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 06:44
Category: Finance, Rumor

With the recent closing of Borders, the rumor mill’s been in full force with regard to competitor Barnes and Noble.

Responding to a new rumor that Apple is considering a purchase of bookseller Barnes & Noble, one Wall Street analyst has said he doesn’t think such a deal would make much sense for the iPhone maker.

According to AppleInsider, Brian Marshall with Gleacher & Company said in a note to investors on Thursday that he doesn’t think Barnes & Noble is a likely acquisition target for Apple and its US$76 billion cash hoard.

In fact, if Apple’s sole goal was to obtain brick-and-mortar locations, the company would have been better suited to purchase another bookseller, Borders, which has about 400 stores in liquidation.

Marshall said that Barnes & Noble’s real estate footprint is “impressive,” with more than 700 stores totaling 18.4 million square feet of space from an average store footprint of 26,000 square feet. But he also says a potential US$1.5 billion vestment would not be a wise use of Apple’s money.

Apple is currently making an aggressive push in the retail space, and plans to add 30 stores in the September 2011 quarter. Most of Apple’s planned expansion, though, is set to take place internationally, and the vast majority of Barnes & Noble’s retail space is in the U.S.

“We would much prefer to see AAPL use cash for strategic purposes and balance sheet optimization (e.g., acquisition of content rights, dividend initiation, share repurchases, etc.),” Marshall wrote.

The analysis came in response to a story published earlier on Thursday, in which an “unproven source” claimed to have knowledge of negotiations between Apple and Barnes & Noble.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.