Apple Applies for Wireless License in China

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Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple may have finally cleared a major hurdle in bringing its iPhone handset to China, as the company has reportedly applied for a Network Access License in the Asian country. The moves could put a release just a few months away, albeit without Wi-Fi.

According to AppleInsider, Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison claims that the application was filed on Friday, July 10th, but doesn’t make any mention of onboard Wi-Fi. Rumors have repeatedly hinted that Apple may be forced to remove Wi-Fi to appease the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which would prefer that iPhone owners use local networks.

Apple has supposedly been “hellbent” on shipping the iPhone to China with Wi-Fi but appears to have relented in order to get the phone into the populous nation.

If the process moves along as usual, this revised iPhone would take between four to six months to receive the green light and go on sale. This would put a launch no later than January, and Mathison seemed confident that the device would arrive before the Chinese New Year, which in 2010 will start in mid-February. Mathison stated that he views the licensing as partly a negotiation tactic that would help bring Apple closer to a deal with China Unicom, the carrier recently pegged as the most likely candidate for an iPhone due to its inherent compatibility with the iPhone’s existing 3G standards.

While it’s rare to have an estimate that narrows the release window for an iPhone in China, whether or not this latest prediction is accurate remains debatable. Local carriers have been in talks with Apple since at least late 2007, and one-time favorite China Mobile has often tried making multiple special requests that have likely stalled hopes for a quick agreement, such as demanding that the American company either use the government-backed TD-SCDMA standard for 3G or cede control of the App Store.

Apple has so far only stated that it wants to have the iPhone in China within the next year and has been silent on the progress of negotiations.

E3: Nintendo Briefing Notes

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Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 19:04
Category: News

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Nintendo just wrapped its media briefing on this end and the results are strange, encouraging and mixed:
-Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway announced that this year’s theme will be “Everyone’s Game”. There’s something for everyone and Nintendo intends to address this.
-”New Mario Brothers” Wii was announced, the title featuring beautiful graphics as well as co-op and competitive play for up to four players at once wherein players can help each other or compete for points. Other features include a neat ability to switch to another player (such as from Mario to Toad to Luigi) at any point in time. The title will launch over the holidays.
-Nintendo is moving to introduce WiiFit Pus, which will work to find a workout program appropriate for the user and add 15 new balance games such as juggling and skateboarding. The title will arrive this fall and will also be able to be purchased and downloaded as a standalone item.
-Nintendo President and Chief Operating Officer Reggie Fils-Aime spoke about Nintendo’s interface, then introduced the Wii Motion Plus, a new controller that will function as a more advanced version of Nintendo’s current Wiimote. The controller will apparently have to be purchased on its own and no price point was mentioned for the unit.
-Nintendo’s Bill Trinen detailed the Wii Motion Plus, highlighting an increased ability to detect position and angles relative to the Wiimore, which can then be applied to a game. Trinen commented that Nintendo is looking to make this a more natural experience, that the unit will launch in the Americas on July 21st and that the improved motion sensor technology will be supported in assorted EA Sports titles as well as RedSteel 2.
-Nintendo will launch Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers as well as an exclusive version of Kingdom Hearts (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days) to the Nintendo DS this September.
-Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story will hit in North America and Europe later this fall. Here, Mario and Luigi have to fight within Bowser’s body a la “Inner Space”.
-Nintendo will be resurrecting the Golden Sun RPG series with Golden Sun DS in 2010.
-Beginning on October 13th, James Patterson’s books will be available as an interactive novel/game (“Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion”).
-COP: The Recruit will play as a Ubisoft title. This seems to be a mix of Grand Theft Auto and an interactive novel.
-Nintendo will launch its Style Savvy title, wherein users design outfits, run your own boutique, supports wireless networking.
-Nintendo announced the the company has currently sold over one million DSi units. Representatives then highlighted that it will focus on user-generated content and sharing.
-Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again will allow users to create their own levels, then upload levels to friends. The title will be available as a download beginning June 8th.
-WarioWare DIY: Allows players to create their own levels and games themselves.
-Beginning this summer, the DSi will allow photos to be edited and uploaded to Facebook.
-Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo’s research has divvied their game market into “active”, “maybe?” and “never”. In the survey, there are 295 million active players, 149 million “maybe” players and a given number of people who will never play games. Iwata then cited that the company is trying to open its markets and provide something for everyone.
-Perhaps the strangest thing of the briefing: Iwata then announced the Wii Vitality Sensor, a device that takes your pulse, analyzes data such as tension, etc. and returns biometric information. This can be used as a relaxation technique, per Iwata, but no release date or titles were mentioned for such a device.
-Nintendo then showed demo footage for Super Mario Galaxy 2, complete with beautiful environments, classic stuff, imaginative settings.
-Other games announced included The Conduit, an apocalyptic sci-fi title developed by Sega and exclusive for the Wii. The game will be available this June.
-Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is en route and will function as Resident Evil with a first-person shooter perspective.
-Dead Space: Extraction is exclusive for the Wii and, complete with beautiful graphics and awesome sound via the demo, will function as a prequel to Dead Space.
-Team Ninja and Nintendo are developing Metroid: Other M, which will function as a Metroid prequel of sorts and help flesh out Samus Aran’s back story and personal history.
The title is being offered with a 2010 release date.

AT&T to Deploy HSPA 7.2 Network Ahead of Third Generation iPhone Launch

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Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 09:13
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has formally announced plans to deploy its 7.2 Mbps HSPA 7.2 network this year, the deployment supporting faster iPhone models expected for release this summer.
According to AppleInsider, AT&T has stated that the HSPA 7.2 upgrade will deliver theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network. The company has stated that installation will continue through 2011 and that AT&T will begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
AT&T has stated that its current 3G service is available in 350 major US metro areas, with deployment in another 20 planned this year. The company stated that its new HSPA 7.2 technology “will be deployed widely in the network, with the benefits of the network upgrade to be announced on a local basis as the faster speeds are turned up.”
The company also said it will introduce “multiple HSPA 7.2-compatible laptop cards and smartphones beginning later this year.” Apple is expected to release a new iPhone model in June that supports HSPA 7.2 service. In addition to having access to a faster network, the new iPhone model is expected to have a significantly faster processor, enabling it to better handle the data it can receive, resulting in faster overall operation.
Along with the upgrade to HSPA 7.2, AT&T also reported plans to build out other network improvements this year as part of a capital investment plan costing $17-18 billion.
Elements include:

  • Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity: In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
  • More Bandwidth to Cell Sites: AT&T is adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
  • More Cell Sites: Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
  • Wi-Fi Integration: Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
  • MicroCells: Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
  • Analyst Sees Strong Signs of Apple Moving Towards $500-$700 Tablet

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 12:13
    Category: News

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    With Apple execs having openly slammed the idea of creating a conventional netbook, Piper Jaffray analysts stated today that mounting evidence exists that Apple will introduce its own take on the netbook in 2010 via a tablet device that will sell for US$700 or less.
    “Between indications from our component contacts in Asia, recent patents relating to multi-touch sensitivity for more complex computing devices, comments from [chief operating officer] Tim Cook on the April 22nd conference call, and Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi along with other recent chip-related hires, it is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise,” analyst Gene Munster and his team wrote in lengthy research note to clients.
    According to AppleInsider, Munster has said these investments will likely culminate with the launch of a touch-screen tablet with a display somewhere between 7″ and 10″ at a special event sometime in the first half of 2010. Such a move, he added, would be consistent with management’s comments that Cupertino-based company has no interest in catering to the existing segment for “cheap” miniaturized notebooks and its spoken desire to differentiate in a market currently dominated by cramped computers with razor thin margins and a subpar user experience.
    To date, Munster’s contacts in the component supply chain have yet to see a prototype of the device but say there’s ongoing discussions between the company and its suppliers about the parts that will eventually be required to build the product.
    Munster has stated that he believes the device will end up retailing somewhere in the range of US$500 to US$700, bridging the gap between the US$399 iPod touch and the US$999 MacBook. He expects that it will be driven by a proprietary microprocessor designed in-house by engineers Apple adopted in the acquisition of P.A. Semi and others it’s known to have hired in recent months.
    Click the jump for the full story…

    AT&T Confirms Efforts to Double 3G Network Speeds

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 07:01
    Category: iPhone

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    In an interview with TelephonyOnline, AT&T vice president of technology realization Scott McElroy has confirmed that the carrier is currently performing a variety of upgrades on its 3G network that should combine to double capacity in the coming months.
    McElroy stated that his team plans to upgrade “the downlink capacity on its high-speed packet access (HSPA) from 3.6 megabits per second to 7.2 Mb/s through software upgrades at the base station.”
    Though McElroy didn’t provide a timetable for the upgrade, he said that AT&T is in the process of field certifying the faster network in two test markets, adding that AT&T plans to eventually migrate its 3G networks to evolved-HSPA (or HSPA+), which would increase top speeds threefold.
    AT&T could then theoretically upgrade its HSPA network to 14.4 Mb/s but is expected to forgo that option due to a technical problem and its ability to migrate directly to 21 Mb/s HSPA+, McElroy said. He told TelephonyOnline that AT&T will focus “on upgrades to the baseband, which will dramatically increase capacity without having to fiddle with the elements on the tower or in the core.”
    McElroy also noted that AT&T is simultaneously upgrading its network backbone to handle the increased data traffic resulting from its network upgrades. He refused to reveal the exact extent of those upgrades.
    Sources close to the story say Apple has set a strict deadline that asks AT&T to complete the upgrade, quality test it, and have it ready to go live no later than May 31st. The third-generation iPhone is expected to be unveiled a few weeks later.
    Meanwhile, McElroy says AT&T is also looking further ahead, selecting vendors for its 4G (or long-term evolution (LTE)) network expected to go live in test markets by 2010 ahead of widespread commercial availability the following year.
    The carrier will reportedly use both its 700 MHz and advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum to facilitate the LTE launch, with other spectrums on reserve should 4G usage take off. It could also repurpose its 2G and 3G channels for LTE once users begin migrating off those channels to the 4th-gen network.

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    AT&T Pushing for Exclusive iPhone Rights Through 2011

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    Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 08:35
    Category: iPhone

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    After three years of holding exclusive rights to the iPhone, AT&T is looking to take one more shot at an exclusive deal for the Apple handset and may keep it away from competitors until 2011.
    According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” have stated that AT&T has a deal to keep the iPhone in its stable until 2010 and that negotiations are underway to have the device onboard for one more year.
    Though there has been no specific commentary from AT&T regarding this, an Apple spokeswoman would only say that the two companies have a “great relationship.”
    The commentary follows a report from last year that also said AT&T had struck a deal to keep the iPhone until 2010 and may provide insight into current talks. At the time, the cellular carrier reportedly agreed to allow iPhone 3G subsidies in exchange for a one-year extension of the iPhone’s US exclusivity. Although the cost of discounting those phones has been severe — as much as US$1.3 billion to date, according to an estimate — the agreement renewed interest in AT&T and gave it millions of users paying at least US$60 per month (on grandfathered plans) for service.
    Should AT&T be allowed to keep exclusive rights to the iPhone, it would be able to help prevent customers from jumping ship to Verizon or an alternate carrier at a time when the market is saturated and customers are more likely to have switched than sign up for the first time. The company added 1.9 million iPhone users just in the fall 2008 quarter alone.

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    Macworld Expo to Shift From January to February in 2010

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    Date: Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, 08:39
    Category: News

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    IDG World Expo announced Monday that Macworld Expo 2010, which will lack Apple, will occur February 9th through the 13th as opposed to the customary slot of January 4th through the 8th, as had been previously announced.
    According to AppleInsider, IDG said the revised dates are the result of feedback from the Mac community that will “give exhibitors and attendees more breathing room between the busy holiday season and the world’s largest event focused specifically on Apple products.”
    Since Apple’s announcement that the company would be breaking away from trade shows, IDG stated that it has been soliciting feedback from the Mac community on how to keep Macworld afloat without Apple’s participation.
    “As we began the planning process, attendees and exhibitors made it clear that February in San Francisco was the time and location that worked best, so we listened,” IDG chief executive Mary Dolaher said in a statement Monday.
    “We firmly believe that these new dates will better meet the needs of everyone participating in Macworld, and are pleased to have been able to respond to this request from the community,” he added. “The journey toward a new era for Macworld has begun and we are more excited about this ride than ever before.”
    Macworld 2010 will further break from tradition by shifting the expo portion of the event to include a Saturday. The Expo now is scheduled to take place Thursday, February 11, through Saturday, February 13.
    Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments or forums.

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    Sprint to Deploy WiMAX Networks in 10 U.S. Cities Throughout 2009

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    Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 14:00
    Category: News

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    Telecommunications giant Sprint has announced plans to deploy WiMAX services in 10 major cities throughout 2009, with at least five additional major markets due to get services in 2010.
    According to Macworld, the company plans to deploy services to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle. The comapny also expects to launch WiMAX services in Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. throughout 2010. Sprint’s WiMAX services are only available currently only available in Baltimore, where Sprint kicked off its nationwide WiMAX deployment last September. Comcast, one of Sprint’s partners in the Clearwire WiMAX coalition, recently announced that it planned to start reselling WiMAX services from Clearwire sometime this year.
    Sprint’s WiMAX division, now referred to as “Sprint 4G”, has stated that it plans to release several new WiMAX devices in 2009 and 2010, such as a single-mode WiMAX data card, WiMAX-embedded laptops and a small-office WiMAX broadband modem. The company’s currently offer peak downlink speeds of 12Mbps and average downlink speeds between 2Mbps and 4Mbps.
    Through the release of WiMAX services in major cities, Sprint is looking to stay ahead of rival carriers AT&T and Verizon, which each plan to launch their own 4G mobile data services based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) in roughly two years’ time. The LTE standard is the latest variation of Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology and is seen as the natural progression of High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), the GSM technology that is currently used by carriers such as AT&T to deliver 3G mobile data services.
    If you’ve seen any Sprint WiMAX network prep work taking place in your city, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    USB 3.0 Specification to be Ready in June

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    Date: Tuesday, March 10th, 2009, 13:03
    Category: News

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    Agilent Technologies, Inc., stated at a conference in Tokyo today that it would have a test-ready version of the USB 3.0 specification ready in June. The time frame should provide computer and component makers with a reference point for building hardware that can be checked for compatibility in the second half of the year. Final USB 3-capable computers and peripherals should be ready by 2010.
    According to Tech-On, the USB 3.0 spec should increase bandwidth to 5 Gbps as well as simultaneously reduce the average power consumption while increasing the power output for hard drives and other devices that would otherwise require an AC adapter.
    As always, let us know what’s on your mind over in the comments or forums.

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