Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint now offering $100 trade-in credit for iPhones from competing carriers

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to offer an incentive.

In an effort to drum up subscribership and advertise its unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4S, Sprint revealed on Friday that it will begin offering a US$100 credit to any customer who trades in an iPhone from another carrier.

Per AppleInsider, the carrier said that it would be offering non-Sprint users at least US$100 for their iPhone to be used towards a new iPhone 4S if they start a line of service with a minimum two-year contract.

Sprint’s announcement comes on the heels of reports earlier this week that revealed Verizon would be pushing to end unlimited data usage for its smartphone users come this summer when the company rolls out new shared data plans. The top U.S. wireless company issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that only subscribers upgrading to a subsidized handset would no longer be able to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat service.

Both Verizon and AT&T have come under fire for slowly squeezing grandfathered customers out of their unlimited plans, represented by Verizon’s upgrade policy and AT&T’s March decision to throttle heavy data users after they pass a 3GB per month threshold.

When it became the last of the big-three telecoms to offer the iPhone, Sprint announced plans to offer unlimited data to new customers when the top two wireless providers killed off their respective uncapped services in a move toward more profitable tiered solutions. AT&T was the first to axe unlimited iPhone data in June 2010, and recently CEO Randall Stephenson admitted that he wished the company had never offered the option. Verizon followed AT&T’s lead in July 2011, a mere six months after the device launched on its network.

In a move to stand out from the competition, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced in April that his company will continue to offer unlimited data for the next generation iPhone sight-unseen, which means that users can utilize uncapped bandwidth even if the handset supports 4G LTE.

Earlier this week Hesse said that Sprint wouldn’t make a profit from the iPhone until 2015, but has no regreets in making a bet-the-company move to ink an agreement to sell the handset that was later revealed to be worth US$15.5 billion over the next four years.

“We believe in the long term,” Hesse said. “And over time we will make more money on iPhone customers than we will on other customers.”

To take advantage of the offer, interested parties must activate a new line by July 3 and trade-in their non-Sprint iPhone before Aug. 14.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to end unlimited data plans in migration to 4G LTE, move towards shared data plans

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Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, News

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You might not like this.

Per Fierce Wireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo announced on Wednesday that the company will discontinue existing unlimited data plans when users move to the carrier’s faster 4G LTE network, pushing current 3G subscribers toward data share plans expected to launch later this summer.

At the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference Shammo said that current unlimited users, whose data plans were grandfathered in when Verizon made the switch to tiered plans in July 2011, would lose the all-you-can-eat option if and when they move to 4G.

Verizon is leveraging its speedier 4G LTE network to attract customers away from their US$30 per month unlimited plans to new data-sharing tiers which are scheduled for a mid-summer rollout.

“A lot of our 3G base is on unlimited,” Shammo said. “When they migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share. That is beneficial to us.”

In their quest to garner the highest possible revenue per user, carriers have quickly moved away from the unlimited data plan, which was first introduced as an enticement to enter the then-nascent smartphone market. With the rise of data-hungry handsets like the iPhone, wireless companies found that a capped and tiered pricing model was the most lucrative solution.

Currently, unlimited customers pay US$30 per month on Verizon’s network, identical to the price paid by grandfathered users on other networks like AT&T.

Unlike Verizon, AT&T extended its legacy plan to 4G LTE customers, but at the same time instituted speed throttling for users who pass a “threshold” of 3GB and 5 GB each month for 3G and 4G users, respectively. Earlier in May, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said that he wishes his company never offered unlimited data.

Verizon’s upcoming data share plans are meant to streamline the management and offer an attractive price structure to contract owners who own multiple smartphones, such as small businesses or families. Shammo noted that the industry has crippled the smartphone market by restricting data usage to individual devices.

“If I can add as many devices as I want, that is more efficient from a family perspective and a small business perspective,” Shammo said.

Carriers have promised shared data plans for nearly a year, though the nation’s top providers only recently firmed up strategies and possible launch windows.

Shammo noted that as carriers implement shared plans, they will have to move from studying average revenue per user metrics to average revenue per account.

Pricing for Verizon’s data share plans have yet to be announced, but Shammo made it clear that the company is pushing hard for the new model.

“Everyone will be on data share,” Shammo said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.2.2, Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.3 updates for Mac

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 12:14
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.2 update. The update, a 110 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– This update includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and for the Service Pack 1 updater to have been previously installed.

The company also released version 12.3.3 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite for Mac. The update, a 217.9 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

– The update includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.3 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

Cocktail 5.2 (Lion Edition) released

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 07:42
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.2 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Major improvements to the scheduler.

– Added ability to automatically purge inactive memory.

– Fixed compatibility issues with Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.

– Fixed compatibility issues Firefox 12.

– Improvements on the clear potentially harmful files procedure.

– Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 5.2 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Microsoft pulls Office 2011 Service Pack 2 update, offers apology and workaround for Outlook database corruption bug

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:28
Category: News, Software

Well, this is awkward.

A little over a week after releasing an update to its Office 2011 for Mac, Microsoft has stopped pushing out auto-updates for Service Pack 2 over a flaw that corrupts identity databases in the company’s Outlook mail client.

The announcement was made on Friday through the company’s Office blog, and notifies users that automatic updates for SP2 will be temporarily suspended while the company investigates the cause of the problem.

From the post:
“On April 12th, we released SP2 for Office for Mac 2011. The majority of our customers have been delighted with the improvements – new features and performance. Unfortunately, a small percentage are experiencing some issues with the update, specifically related to the Outlook for Mac database.”

Five days after initially releasing SP2, Microsoft posted a workaround and apology to users affected by the update.

The first workaround deals with those users who have yet to install the update, and calls for the rebuilding of Outlook’s database. The second, more comprehensive fix deals with those who already installed the patch and involves a complicated procedure to restore the database to working condition from an existing backup.

Office 2011 for Mac users can still download SP2 through Microsoft’s website, though it is recommended that the workaround be implemented prior to installation.

The SP2 update brought many enhancements for OS X Lion users like full-screen display modes and performance improvements.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.0 (Service Pack 2) released

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Date: Friday, April 13th, 2012, 06:11
Category: News, Software

Even your crankiest relatives at Thanksgiving can’t deny that an update is a good thing.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.0 (Service Pack 2) update. The update, a 112 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Document Connection support for SkyDrive documents is improved. This update enables users to view and access documents that are located in the root level of a SkyDrive folder.

– The drag-and-drop feature in Document Connection is added in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). This update adds a drag-and-drop feature for files in Document Connection in Mac OS X 10.7.

– Upload functionality for SharePoint sites is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you receive the following error message when you upload a file to a SharePoint site: Upload Failed You must sign in to save your changes to the server.

– The Italian grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the Italian grammar checker does not check a complete document.

– The German grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the German grammar checker does not check a complete document when the document contains certain German sentences.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011
– The database and the rebuild utility are improved. This update includes fixes that increase the robustness of the database and that improve the effectiveness of the rebuild utility. Outlook for Mac uses the Office database to store personal information, such as messages and contacts.

– This update fixes issues that cause database corruptions, instability, and crashes. This update also improves database transactions and the ability to recover from certain errors. If there is a problem within the database, Outlook for Mac starts the Database Utility, which tries to rebuild the database. After you install this update, the Database Utility recovers additional account information, such as shared resources and categories, and recovers from corruption scenarios. This update also adds the ability to cancel a database rebuild in Outlook for Mac.

– IMAP account sync that includes support for synchronizing with Gmail is improved. After you install this update, Outlook for Mac updates new messages in IMAP folders regularly. Additionally, Outlook for Mac users who use Gmail accounts can map folders, such as Drafts, Deleted Items, Sent Items, and Junk E-Mail, automatically.

– Outlook for Mac performance in key scenarios is improved. This update introduces several performance improvements in the following areas:
General responsiveness during syncing
Deleting multiple records
Displaying email message content
Sending email messages

– Exchange email message sync is improved. This update introduces a new sync model for Exchange. The new model enables Outlook for Mac to download an email message in parts. For example, Outlook for Mac first downloads and displays message text and then downloads large images and attachments.

– Downloading messages in parts reduces the load on the Exchange server and improves performance for the user.

– Support for calendar scheduling resources is improved. This update improves support for calendar scheduling resources and for free/busy comparison functionality in the Scheduling Assistant.

– Week numbers are added to the calendar display. This update adds a preference to enable the calendar to display week numbers.

– Distribution list expansion functionality is included. This update enables you to expand distribution lists into individual members when you add a distribution list in the To field or rest the mouse pointer on a distribution list.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
– Functionality for pasting special hyperlinks is included. This update introduces functionality that enables you to paste special hyperlinks in PowerPoint.

– The list of co-authors is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you cannot see the list of co-authors in a presentation.

– Full Screen View in Lion is supported. This update supports Full Screen View in PowerPoint. Additionally, when you close slide show mode in PowerPoint, edit mode opens.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
– Printing PDF faxes is improved. This update fixes an issue in which Word cannot send .pdf files as faxes.

– The user information display in templates is improved. This update fixes an issue in which a Word template does not display a user’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address when you view the template after the template is saved in .doc format.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and for the Service Pack 1 updater to have been previously installed.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple reportedly shopping around for Apple HDTV prototype parts

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Date: Friday, March 9th, 2012, 07:10
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When you go looking for components, people tend to notice.

Per AppleInsider, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster told investors on Tuesday that he had recently spoken to a “major TV component supplier” about Apple’s rumored plans to release a connected HDTV. Sources within the supplier reportedly told him that Apple had contacted “regarding various capabilities of their television display components.”

Munster said he viewed the news as “continued evidence that Apple is exploring production of a television.” Prior evidence that the analyst claims to have gathered surrounding an Apple television includes January 2011 meetings in Asia that suggested Apple was investing in manufacturing facilities for LCD displays as large as 50 inches and a September 2011 meeting with a “contact close to an Asian supplier” who claimed prototypes of an Apple set are in the works.

The firm believes Apple could be ready to release a television as early as late 2012, though Munster noted that “the timeline and stope of a revamped content solution is more uncertain.” Various reports have suggested that Apple has run up against resistance from movie and TV studios that are believed to be hesitant to license their content for an Apple television.

The analyst went on to speculate on several possibilities that Apple could make use of to address the content issue. For instance, Apple could simply enable the television to manage pre-existing live TV service from a unified interface, or it could make use of network programming and web-based video services such as Netflix and Hulu. Finally, Munster suggested that Apple could look to offer monthly subscriptions “on an a-la-carte basis” for live TV packages from content providers, but he noted that this is likely the “most challenging scenario” because of existing licensing arrangements.

A separate report claimed late last year that one of Apple’s most-desired features for an Apple television set is customized channel lineups. That report also noted that licensing for such a service would be “obviously much more complicated” than current offerings.

Piper Jaffray projects that Apple could sell 1.4 million of the 106 million internet-connected televisions estimated to be sold this year. The investment bank tentatively estimates that revenues from the device could reach US$2.5 billion in 2012, $4.0 billion in 2013 and US$6.0 billion in 2014.

Munster concluded his note by pointing out that Apple only enters mature markets in order to reinvent them. As such, he does not see Apple entering the TV market without a “revamped TV content solution.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint expected to stay with iPhone, trade off subsidized prices for lucrative contracts

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iPhone, News

Even if your profits are down, this is no reason not to back your winning horse.

Per the Barrons.com blog, despite expecting a decline in wireless profits due to the high subsidy cost associated with carrying the iPhone, Sprint plans to exceed its US$15.5 billion minimum purchase agreement with Apple and looks to make up for the profit loss with subscriber revenue.

In the Monday filing of Sprint’s 10-K report for the 2011 fiscal year, it was revealed that the company is betting on subscriber dues to offset an expected 2012 deficit from the agreement with Apple, which called for a minimum order of around US$15.5 billion worth of high-subsidy iPhones.

During 2011, the company entered into a purchase commitment with Apple, Inc. to purchase a minimum number of smartphones, which on average, is expected to carry a higher subsidy per unit than other smartphones we sell.

Sprint’s plan is to take a hit in profits early by purchasing and subsidizing iPhones, then reap the benefits yielded from subscribers with lucrative smartphone contracts. There is evidence that the strategy may be working, as the carrier sold 1.8 million iPhones over the holiday quarter, 40 percent of which were to new subscribers. In contrast, iPhone activations at the top two U.S. carriers Verizon and AT&T stood at 4.2 million and 7.6 million, respectively.

Carriers pay heavy subsidies to carry the iPhone, and Sprint is currently paying US$450 for every unit sold with a two-year contract. On top of what the company calls an “instant savings,” Sprint is the only carrier in the U.S. to offer unlimited data for any iPhone model.

The nation’s third-largest mobile carrier was the last of the “big three” networks to get the iPhone, and only started selling the device in October, 2011 when the newest iPhone 4S was debuted. Combined launch-day sales of the iPhone 4S and last-generation iPhone 4 helped set a new one-day record for Sprint, and the product line continues to draw in new customers.

Previous reports called the iPhone agreement a “bet the company” move, and estimated that the telecom would have to put up US$20 billion for rights to sell the popular Apple handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T customer wins in 3G throttling case, could open floodgates for similar lawsuits against carrier

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, Legal, News

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Sometimes you CAN fight the giant and win.

Per the Associated Press, in a California court ruling on Friday, an AT&T customer who saw a reduction in his iPhone’s download speed due to high usage was awarded US$850 on claims that the telecom’s throttling measures are unfair to consumers.

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel handed down the decision in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Vally, bringing an end to the small claims case that was filed in January which asserted that AT&T unfairly reduces unlimited data plan users’ bandwidth speeds.

The ruling could affect the roughly 17 million subscribers, or a little under half of AT&T’s smartphone customer base, who pay for a so-called unlimited data plan that was first introduced alongside the original iPhone.

The nation’s second-largest mobile carrier ended its all-you-can-eat plan in 2010, however the company allowed existing users to keep their unlimited service on the condition that the privilege would end if they ever opted to go with a tiered contract. In other words, an unlimited subscriber cannot return to the endless data plan if ever they choose one of AT&T’s tiered options.

As smartphones grew in popularity after the launch of Apple’s handset and smartphones running Google’s Android OS, data bandwidth became increasingly scarce. In an attempt to stem the swelling tide of data users, AT&T and other telecoms made the decision to throttle the download speeds of the top five percent of “heavy users.”

An inherent issue with the new throttling model is that an unlimited plan subscriber can see speed reductions if they are deemed to be within the top five percent of heavy users, regardless of the amount of data used. Tiered subscribers are never throttled.

In Spaccarelli’s case, speed was reduced after about 1.5 GB to 2 GB of data usage during a particular billing cycle, which is far less than the identically priced 3 GB tiered plan. Currently, unlimited access to AT&T’s network costs US$30 per month for grandfathered-in customers, while tiered plans run US$20, US$30 and US$50 per month for 300 MB, 3 GB and 5 GB, respectively.

According to an in-court argument by AT&T area sales manager Peter Hartlove, the carrier has the right to modify or cancel a contract if data usage is so high that it bogs down the network.

In addition, a clause in contracts signed by data users prohibits customers from joining a class action suit or jury trial, and instead must take any grievance to arbitration or a small claims court.

The agreement also claims that if a plaintiff wins an arbitration case, the minimum award from AT&T would be $10,000. Although Spaccarrelli asked for the same compensation, the small claims court judge only awarded him for US$85 for each of the remaining 10 months of his contract.

In theory, every customer who has been throttled could potentially take the Dallas-based carrier to court if they feel that the speed reduction is a violation of rights.

AT&T’s attempt to clear data congestion has been vague since its introduction in 2011, as the system is based on a sliding scale and not a set bandwidth cap. User also won’t know if they are part of the top five percent until a warning message is received, and by that point they only have a few days of regular usage before seeing a reduction of speed.

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