Rumor: Apple television expected in mid-2012, initial production slated for February

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 13:00
Category: Rumor

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Apple didn’t do the “Inc.” and “lifestyle company” change for nothing.

Per AppleInsider, commercial production of Apple’s anticipated television set is expected to begin in February at a Sharp plant in Japan, while competing HDTV makers are reportedly desperate to find out just what Apple plans to sell.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a note to investors this week that Apple is expected to partner with Sharp for TFT-LCD panels for its so-called “iTV.” Production is expected to begin in February at the company’s Gen 10 Sakai facility in Osaka, Japan, placing the television set in position for a mid-2012 launch.

Apple’s expected entrance into the television market is said to have sent other TV makers “scrambling” to identify what the features of the product may be.

“They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat footed by Apple,” Misek wrote. “Having said that, it appears that mainstream TV manufacturers are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in a best-case scenario.”

TV makers are said to be looking at Android as a potential option to counter Apple’s anticipated television set. In that scenario, the television market would act much like the current smartphone landscape, with manufacturers making the hardware and Google providing the operating system.

TV makers are said to be looking to Android because they lack the software and cloud capabilities Apple already offers. Earlier reports have also suggested that Apple will implement its proprietary voice recognition service, Siri, to allow controller-free navigation and further differentiate itself from current products on the market.

Rumors of an Apple television set picked up considerable steam with the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. To biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs hinted at a completely new product that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

In an interview published last week, Isaacson revealed that before he died, Jobs had three products he wanted to reinvent, with the television being first among them, followed by textbooks and photography. Jobs reportedly felt there was “no reason” for televisions to be as difficult to use as they currently are.

Misek’s timeframe for a mid-2012 Apple television launch is slightly more aggressive than some other rumors have suggested. For example, last month The New York Times forecast Apple to announce the product by late 2012, with it going on sale to consumers by 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to return to Nvidia GPUs for 2012 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:05
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Sometimes you’ve got to play the field and see which GPU works best for you.

Per SemiAccurate, a new rumor claims that next-generation MacBook models will once again feature Nvidia graphics processors.

Nvidia’s return to Apple’s Mac lineup is expected to begin next spring, when new hardware featuring Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors is anticipated. Rumors have suggested that Apple’s new MacBook Pro models, arriving in 2012, will feature a redesigned chassis that will take some design cues from the popular thin-and-light MacBook Air lineup.

The last MacBook Pro models to feature Nvidia graphics arrived in 2010 alongside a new proprietary graphics switching technology developed by Apple. But the higher end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros launched early this year completed the switch to AMD graphics, while the entry-level 13-inch model relies on integrated Intel graphics.

In mid-2009, rumors began to crop up that Nvidia and Apple were at odds with each other, though there was no hard evidence to support a rift. But over the next few years, Apple gradually began to feature only ATI graphics across its entire Mac lineup, including desktop machines.

The same site to report the AMD GPU rumor also claimed last week that Apple had secretly built an AMD-powered MacBook Air model last spring, but scrapped the device at the last minute because of production issues. It said Apple had originally hoped to release a thin-and-light notebook powered by AMD’s Llano processor.

SemiAccurate also claimed in May that Apple plans to transition its future portable Macs to ARM processors, away from Intel CPUs. Low-cost, low-power ARM processors are currently found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, but the report claimed Apple hopes to have ARM specifications also power its Macs by the end of 2012 or by early 2013, when 64-bit variations are expected to become available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4S receives network license in China, will go on sale through China Unicom

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Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 10:23
Category: iPhone, Software

The iPhone 4S looks about ready for the big time in the Chinese marketplace.

Per M.I.C. Gadget, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was reported on Monday as having approved the iPhone 4S for sale in China. The HSPA 3G version of the phone has passed government tests, clearing it for sale on China Unicom. It should get a network license this week, Sina claimed.

No mention had been made of the CDMA version that might reach China Telecom, although recent tips have had it arriving in 2012. China Mobile is believed to be waiting on LTE before making the leap.

An approval marks the quickest turnaround between an iPhone’s first launch and its appearance in China. Apple is known to be thriving on Asian sales and will want to both seize on mainland Chinese sales as quickly as possible as well as curb the rise of Android in the country.

The smartphone is already on sale in Hong Kong and helped contribute to high tensions at the launch as bootleggers conflicted with genuine buyers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing ultrathin, optical-drive-free 15″ MacBook Pro notebook

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Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:59
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Never doubt the thin nature of the MacBook Air, as people tend to like it.

Per the Japanese Macotakara web blog, Apple is allegedly prepared to add a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook to its lineup in the near future, with one report claiming the company has finished development of a crucial test component.

Calling the new notebook model an extension of the MacBook Air family, Macotakara reported on Sunday that Apple is finishing up a “test phase” for the new 15-inch ultraportable. Citing an Asian source, the report said Apple has already finished development of an LCD test component for the anticipated notebook.

However, the report also noted that Apple is believed to be developing a next-generation MacBook Pro that will not have a built-in optical disc drive. The new 15-inch MacBook reportedly “seems to fill” the role of a next-generation MacBook Pro.

Whatever name the new portable Mac might take, rumors have suggested the current physical form factor of the MacBook Pro lineup will undergo a drastic redesign in 2012. For some time now it has been said that Apple will redesign its MacBook Pro lineup sometime next year.

Last week, Apple quietly updated its MacBook Pro lineup, adding slightly faster Intel Sandy Bridge processors, as well as improved AMD Radeon graphics. The new notebooks were a minor update ahead of the holiday buying season, believed to be an attempt to keep the MacBook Pro lineup competitive until a major refresh occurs next year.

Apple’s future MacBooks are expected to feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. Intel confirmed last week that it has begun volume production of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, and systems powered by the new CPUs should be available in the spring of 2012.

Currently, Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup comes with screen sizes of 13 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches, and all of its professional notebooks feature optical DVD disc drives. The MacBook Air is available with screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, and all models feature only solid-state hard drives with no optical drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts $28.27 billion revenue, $6.62 billion profit for Q4 2011, still disappoints some analysts

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 04:00
Category: Finance, News

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You can offer evidence of something pretty amazing, but you’ll never win the entirety of your audience over all the time.

In this vein, Apple released the financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter yesterday, reporting record sales of the Mac and iPad product lines as well as the company’s highest September quarter revenue and earnings ever, the news still failing to meet some analysts’ expectations.

Per Mac|Life, Apple announced its quarterly financial results for the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter which ended on September 24. Even without a new iPhone over the summer, the company still racked up quarterly revenue of US$28.27 billion and quarterly net profit of US$6.62 billion, or US$7.05 per diluted share. Last year at the same time, Apple had revenue of US$20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, or US$4.64 per diluted share. The company’s gross margin was 40.3 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago, with international sales accounting for 63 percent of the quarterly revenue.

Even with this at hand, analysts on Wall Street looked at the report glumly, with Apple missing their own expectations of US$7.22 per share and revenue of US$29.5 billion. Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple hasn’t missed earnings forecasts since the second quarter of 2002, but others are saying sometime in 2004 instead. Whatever the case, the stock fell eight percent after hours but rebounded just a bit to close at US$398 per share.

While Apple has already sold more than four million iPhone 4S devices in the first weekend which won’t be accounted for until next quarter, the company still managed to move 17.07 million of the older handsets in the current quarter, a 21 percent year-over-year growth and certainly nothing to sneeze at. 11.2 million iPads flew out the door, marking a 166 percent increase from the same quarter last year, with 4.89 million Macs also finding homes in the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase.

“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011, growing annual revenue to US$108 billion and growing earnings to US$26 billion,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”

One product category that took a hit was the iPod, which sold only 6.62 million units during the quarter, marking a 27 percent decline from the same quarter last year — but certainly not bad for a lineup that’s now a decade old, and the iPod continues to hold more than 70 percent market share.

“We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of US$5.4 billion during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 14 weeks rather than 13, we expect revenue of about US$37 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about US$9.30.”

As usual, Apple held a conference call to provide further highlights and field questions from analysts and investors, with CEO Tim Cook noting that it marks the first since the passing of co-founder Steve Jobs. “The world has lost a visionary and an amazing human being,” Cook stated. “He was an amazing leader and mentor. His spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple, and we are dedicated to continuing the amazing work that he loved so much.”

Cook then got down to business by turning things over to CFO Peter Oppenheimer, who repeated most of the details from Apple’s earlier press release before throwing out some additional numbers. These included iTunes Store revenue of US$1.5 billion, 180 million iBooks sold, US$11 billion in revenue from iPhone handsets and accessories, and six million downloads of OS X Lion in the quarter.

Asia-Pacific growth doubled year over year, which the company was expecting to fall when it became clear in June that no new iPhone was on the horizon. The handset is now available on 230 carriers in 105 countries, with Consumer Reports listing the device with its highest customer satisfaction rating for the sixth consecutive time. 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now either deploying or testing the iPhone, up from 91 percent last year.

The App Store is also flying high, with 22 more countries enlisted during the quarter for a total of 123. Retail stores are also enjoying “very strong” year-over-year growth, particularly for Mac and iPad sales, which enjoyed their best quarter ever — which no doubt helped lessen the blow from the iPhone 4S being unveiled in fiscal Q1 2012 instead.

Last but not least, during the closing question and answer session, Cook proclaimed confidence that Apple would have record sales for the next quarter, which includes the all-important holiday season. That quarter will also bring the iPhone 4S to another 22 countries at month’s end, with even more coming by year’s end.

Recent Xcode references point towards quad-core ARM CPUs for future iOS devices

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Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 09:12
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

While Apple may not always tell you what hardware features are on the horizon where its iOS devices are concerned, the development tools can spill the beans.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, a number of references found inside Apple’s Xcode developer tool point towards quad-core ARM CPUs, hinting at next-generation processors that will power Apple’s future iPhones and iPads.

The references specifically point towards the idea that Apple recently added support for Marvell’s quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor.

Author Chris Foresman concluded that it’s “most probable” that Apple is using the Marvell chip in prototype versions of future iPhones and iPads. The existing chip could serve as a placeholder while Apple works on its own custom-built next-generation processors.

Reports have indicated that Apple’s next anticipated ARM CPU, dubbed “A6,” will be built on a 28-nanometer process and use 3D stacking technology. There has been no mention of a quad-core ARM CPU from Apple in 2012. The A5 CPU found in the iPad 2 is a dual core processor.

It’s also possible that the Xcode references signal that Apple will begin using Marvell chips in future iOS devices, or even a next-generation MacBook Air, something that Apple has been rumored to be testing in its internal labs. However, Foresman noted that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors are built on an advanced 22-nanometer process that will boost performance and reduce battery life, while ditching Intel would require developers to recompile Mac OS X software for ARM-based Macs.

Apple’s so-called “A6″ CPU is believed to be in trial production for a 2012 launch, presumably in a third-generation iPad. The company is believed to have even signed a new foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build an “A7″ CPU, which would be projected to debut in devices in 2013.

Apple began designing its own chips following the acquisition of boutique microprocessor design company P.A. Semi in 2008 for US$278 million. Then in 2010, Apple acquired Intrinsity, another chipmaker, for an estimated $121 million.

Apple’s custom chips debuted last year in the first-generation iPad, in the form of the A4 processor. That same chip later appeared in the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, while the A5 debuted this March in the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel discusses Haswell achitecture, cites 24 hour notebook battery charge, 10 day standby, expected 2013 release date

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:43
Category: battery, Hardware, News

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Wait two years and your notebook’s battery life problems could get quite a bit easier to deal with.

Per Macworld, Intel’s next processor platform, code named Haswell, will offer more than 10 days of connected standby battery life and the ability to run your laptop for a full 24 hours on one charge.

Standby connected power will be decreased about 20 times over current Sandy Bridge processors. In real-life terms, this means you could put your laptop to sleep, unplugged, and it could still be working in the background, getting your emails and IMs, for ten days straight.

With 24 hours of battery life, those long-distance flights and day trips will no longer be a worry.

Intel also stated that this technology was slated for 2013, which means you have plenty of time to hanker for it.

For those looking to the more near-term, Intel is expected to released the Ivy Bridge chipset in 2012, which will use a new 22-nanometer architecture to replace the current Sandy Bridge architecture and help make laptops more power efficient in the process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may unveil updated MacBook Pro notebooks before end of 2011

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Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:15
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Just when you’d recently bought a 2011, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro and were feeling somewhat cool.

Per AppleInsider, Apple may be preparing a refresh of its professional notebook line ahead of the holiday shopping season to better bridge the gap.

According to sources close to the story, the late-2011 MacBook Pro refresh will deliver marginal speed bumps to the notebooks’ Core i-Series of Sandy Bridge processors but will otherwise introduce no material changes over the existing models.

While precise timing for the update may change, those same people say the Mac maker currently anticipates an introduction of the refreshed line before the end of the month, possible following the close of the company’s Back-to-School promotion, which ends on September 20th.

Word of the new models comes just one week after Intel quietly refreshed its Sandy Bridge lineup of processors, adding four new Core i7 chips suited for adoption by the MacBook Pro in addition to slashing prices on some other chips, while phasing out a handful of others.

In particular, Intel introduced new 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz and 2.7GHz quad-core Core i7 processors that could replace the 2.0GHz, 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz versions offered in the current 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, in addition to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7 that could serve as an upgrade path for the current 2.7GHz 13-inch MacBook Pro.

As for the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, Intel continues to list a couple of Core i5 chips at speeds of 2.5GHz to 2.6GHz that Apple could elect to use to bump 2.3GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro for little to no cost increase.

In addition to these chips, Apple may have discounted access to a handful of older Core i5 and Core i7 chips that were introduced early this year, such as the 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 models.

Although the new models may come as somewhat of a surprise for industry watchers given that there has been no indication that Apple is drawing down inventories of existing models, the refresh is likely geared towards assuring the Mac maker’s top-selling notebook family remains competitive in the market until Intel releases its next-generation Ivy Bridge platform at some point in 2012.

The Ivy Bridge architecture was originally slated to debut in late 2011, but leaked documents from Intel surfaced in May and revealed that the next-generation processors are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. The Ivy Bridge chips are now scheduled to become available at some point in March or April of next year.

The MacBook Pro remains the bread and butter of Apple’s mostly mobile Mac business, even as the newer, thin-and-light MacBook Air gains in sales. Apple’s MacBook Pros are the only notebooks offered by the company that still offer discrete graphics, making them the only option for video professionals and power users on the go.

In addition, the MacBook Pro remains the only Apple notebook with screen sizes larger than 13-inches. While the MacBook Air (and now defunct white MacBook) max out at 13-inches, the MacBook Pro still comes in 15- and 17-inch screen sizes, with faster CPUs and graphics to accompany the greater screen real estate.

Apple last updated its MacBook Pro lineup in February, giving its entry-level 13-inch models dual-core Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 chips at speeds of 2.3GHz and 2.7Ghz. The higher-end 15- and 17-inch models gained quad-core Sandy Bridge Core i7 chips at speeds of up to 2.3Ghz.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Alleged Sprint leak points to blackout dates, possible iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news: Further evidence has accumulated that Spring will be joining the iPhone cell carrier network.

The bad news: The company has always been about as exciting as watching a sack of hammers lay in the corner of the room.

Per SprintFeed, an allegedly leaked internal memo has surfaced announcing a temporary vacation ban due to the “possibility of a major phone launch.”

The leaked document mentions that the blackout extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, though it neglects to mention the “major phone” by name. The timeframe surrounds an Oct. 7 “Strategy Update” presentation from the company that was announced late last month.

Recent reports have indicated that Sprint will launch Apple’s next iPhone in mid-October. Responding directly to claim, the carrier issued an internal memo advising its employees not to discuss the possibility of a fifth-generation iPhone launch with inquiring customers.

The carrier then announced plans to raise its contract early termination fee for “advanced devices,” including smartphones, to US$350 starting Sept. 9. The new ETF, which would match AT&T’s and Verizon’s own cancellation fees for similar devices, is meant to prevent customers from ditching the carrier after acquiring new devices for subsidized prices. The move has been perceived by some as an indication that a Sprint iPhone launch is near.

A subsequent report claimed Sprint cellular repeaters are being installed in and around Apple stores, further suggesting Sprint iPhone testing and pointing to the possibility of an imminent iPhone launch.

On Monday, the company sued AT&T and its partners to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The wording of certain complaints made in the court filings has prompted further speculation that Sprint will soon begin selling the iPhone.

Finally, on Friday, Sprint was rumored to continue offering unlimited data plans to its subscribers even after the expected iPhone 5 launch. Comparatively, the other two mobile operators that will carry the device, AT&T and Verizon, will offer tiered, capped data plans to their subscribers.

Weighing in on reports suggesting Apple would partner with the nation’s third-largest carrier to sell the iPhone, analysts estimated the carrier would sell 1.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of the year with Sprint iPhone sales growing up to 6 million in 2012.

Apple is expected to announce the fifth-generation iPhone at an as-yet unconfirmed media event this fall with iPhone 5 sales believed, according to some reports, to begin in early- to mid-October. The device is believed to sport the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera, up from the current 5-megapixel shooter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate thinner, lighter battery design for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 12:58
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3 might be a bit lighter than you expected.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple is said to have chosen two suppliers to provide batteries that will be thinner and lighter, but also up to 30 percent more expensive, for its third-generation iPad.

Simply Technology and Dynapack International Technology have both been tapped for the next-generation batteries, according to reports. Both companies are said to currently supply batteries for Apple’s iPad and MacBook lineup.

The report said Apple’s third-generation iPad will be mass-produced in the first quarter of 2012. The device’s battery is said to have been redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and will reportedly offer a longer service life than the battery found in the iPad 2.

“Furthermore, the new battery pack will also be required to meet CTIA IEE 1625 standard for better quality and safety reliability, a trend that has been commonly seen nowadays, especially in the U.S.,” the report said.

The new thinner, lighter and safer battery will also reportedly come at a higher price for Apple, costing between 20 percent and 30 percent more than the battery currently found in the iPad 2.

Both Simplo and Dynapack are rumored to begin providing batteries to Apple in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011. That would put the company on track to begin production of the so-called “iPad 3″ soon after, and would also put Simplo and Dynapack in a position to earn record quarterly revenues.

Last month it was said that Apple was already near the trial production phase for its third-generation iPad. The device is expected to have a high-resolution screen, similar to the Retina Display found on the iPhone 4.

That retina display is expected to be provided by three major suppliers in order to meet growing demand for Apple’s iPad lineup. LG Display, Samsung Electronics and Sharp have all been rumored to be in the supply chain for Apple’s next iPad.

Also in August, Apple was said to have e begun trial production of the proprietary A6 mobile processor that’s expected to power the next iPad 3 and, eventually, a sixth-generation iPhone. A previous report from the Taiwan Economic News named Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as the new manufacturer of the chip, reportedly snagging a role formally filled by Samsung.

The ARM-based A6 is said to incorporate TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technology. The chipmaker’s “silicon interposer” and “bump on trace” methods are also said to be utilized in the next-generation chip, which is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.