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.

Apple begins manufacturing trial run of A6 processor, looks for 2012 launch date

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Date: Friday, August 12th, 2011, 09:59
Category: iPad, News, Processors

It’s pretty simple: If another person has another rumor story about the iPhone 5 being released in either September or October, they’ll be justly pummeled about the head and shoulders with a frozen badger.

That seems fair.

In other news, Taiwan Economic News, which cited sources close to the story, reported Friday that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has started trial production of the A6 in cooperation with Apple. Production design is scheduled to be finalized in the first quarter of 2012, while the chip will be publicly unveiled, likely in a third-generation iPad, no earlier than the second quarter of 2012.

If accurate, the report could quash persistent speculation that Apple plans to launch a third-generation iPad later this year, assuming such a device would run the next-generation A6 processor.

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.

Trial manufacturing of the A6 processor was originally claimed by industry sources to have begun in July, when it was also indicated the chips would make their way into devices in 2012. Both reports have pegged TSMC as the manufacturer, lending credence to rumors that Apple is looking to move away from Samsung, which has built its A4 and A5 processors.

Samsung and Apple are currently engaged in a fierce legal battle that recently led sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be banned in both Europe and Australia. Apple has accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of its popular iPhone and iPad products, while Samsung has responded in kind with its own patent infringement lawsuit.

Friday’s report said sources indicated TSMC has been capable of producing processors for Apple, but the manufacturer was held back by limited production lines. TSMC is also a customer of Nvidia and Qualcomm.

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.

Analyst notes possible “iPhone 4S” in September, iPad 3 prototype for early 2012

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Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

In non-software-update-esque news, a second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to downplay rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.

Per AppleInsider, pointing to “recent Apple supply chain checks,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company’s fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers “like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision,” each of which are indicating “a late September or early October” manufacturing ramp for the handset.

In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name “N94″ and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name “iPhone 4S,” which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Berger, added that his sources “see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been “evaluating various touchscreen displays” for its third-generation iPad.

Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company’s progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won’t be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.

“This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world,” the analyst wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple continues initial next-gen MacBook Air production run, begins certifying components for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 07:05
Category: iPad, MacBook Air, Rumor

A new report corroborates earlier indications that Apple will begin production of revamped MacBook Air notebooks this month, while also adding an unverified tip on a high-resolution iPad 3 reportedly coming later this year.

Per Reuters, Apple will begin selling the new MacBook Air in late June with an initial shipment of 380,000 units.

According to the Economic Daily, when shipments of the new MacBook Airs are combined with shipments of the existing model, 460,000 units are expected to be produced this month.

Over the weekend, one tipster claimed that revitalized MacBook Airs would arrive this week, but eventually revised his story to suggest that Apple would actually begin carrying unlocked iPhone 4s at Apple Stores in the U.S.

The report also claimed that Apple will launch the iPad 3 in the fourth quarter with “image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad 2.” But, it should be noted that the rumor appears highly unlikely and is reported here for the sake of completeness.

While numerous reports of an upgraded iPad 3 with a doubled resolution of 2048 x 1536 already exist, the resulting display would have four times the amount of pixels. Various sources have also hinted that the iPad 3 will not arrive until 2012.

Apple has reportedly begun certifying components for the iPad 3, but component makers expect the device to come out next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release fifth-generation iPhone with 8MP camera, SIM-free design between July and August

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Date: Monday, May 30th, 2011, 12:20
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Per Japanese web site Macotakara, Apple is rumored to be releasing a fifth-generation iPhone with an 8-megapixel camera and a SIM-less design that will not be a major departure from the current iPhone 4 design.

Citing an anonymous source, the web site reported Monday that the next iPhone will have the same form factor as the iPhone 4, and will use an ARM Cortex-A9 processor. The report said it is “not confirmed” whether the new processor will have a single CPU or is dual-core.

The report also said the handset will have an 8-megapixel camera, and a SIM-less design along with 3-4 internal antennas that will allow the device to serve as a “world phone” compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks. That would allow the same hardware to run on both AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S.

The report claims that the device, which will include a Qualcomm chipset, will be released at the end of July or in early August. While later than usual, that release date would be sooner than the fiscal 2012 claim the same site made back in March.

Finally, the report claims that Apple’s next “major new handset” will arrive in the spring of 2012. A spring release for a so-called “iPhone 6″ was previously suggested in April, in a Japanese newspaper report that said Apple had selected Sharp to create next-generation low-temperature poly-silicon LCD displays for a thinner and lighter design.

The details in Monday’s latest report restate and help to reinforce rumors that have previously surfaced. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with Concord Securities stated in April that the next iPhone will feature “slight modifications” from its predecessor, including a new 8-megapixel rear camera. Other reports have suggested the next-generation iPhone will include both CDMA and GSM radios, making it a world phone.

As for the SIM-less design, last week the CEO of carrier Orange said that Apple will introduce a new, smaller and thinner SIM card in its next-generation iPhone. There were reports last year that Apple was working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone, but it was claimed that those plans upset carriers who felt they could be marginalized by such a move.

Picture quality on the new iPhone is also expected to be improved with a separate component for an improved LED flash. Various reports, including one earlier Tuesday, have suggested the flash will be moved farther from the camera lens to reduce red eye.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to introduce 4G LTE network to 15 markets by end of 2011

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Date: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPhone, News

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Though reports have suggested Apple’s next iPhone will not support the 4G long-term evolution standard, AT&T will roll out its new high-speed network to more than 70 million customers by the end of 2011.

According to AppleInsider, Details for AT&T’s 2011 LTE plans were detailed by the company’s chief technology officer, John Donovan, in a post on his company’s web site. AT&T’s 4G network will debut this summer in five markets: Dallas, Tex., Houston, Tex., Chicago, Ill., Atlanta, Ga., and San Antonio, Tex.

“We plan to add another 10 or more markets in the second half of the year, and cover 70 million Americans with LTE by year-end,” Donovan wrote. “We also have plans to add 20 4G devices to our robust device portfolio this year, with some of those being LTE capable.”

He revealed that AT&T has invested US$75 billion in its wireless and wired networks in the last four years and that the company also plans to invest US$19 billion in wireless and wireline networks, along with other capital projects, this year.

The launch of AT&T’s LTE network will come well after rival Verizon, which debuted its fourth-generation high-speed network last December in 38 metropolitan areas and more than 60 commercial airports across the U.S.

AT&T has been hyping its forthcoming LTE network, and last week showed off download speeds of 28.8Mbps, along with 10.4Mbps uploads. The download rate is more than seven times faster than the 3.77Mbps rate that can be reached on AT&T’s current HSPA network, while uploads were more than eight times the current 1.21Mbps rate.

Verizon says its LTE network has real-world data rates of between 5Mbps and 12MBps downstream and 2Mbps to 5Mbps upstream. Verizon’s LTE network will be nationwide by the end of 2013, while AT&T has said its own LTE deployment will be “largely complete” by the same time.

Recent rumors have pegged an LTE-capable iPhone to come from Apple in 2012, and not this year. Verizon’s chief executive said earlier this year that Apple understands the “value proposition of LTE,” and that they will be “a part of” the technology’s future.

At the official Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 unveiling in January, executives revealed that Apple chose not to include LTE technology because it would require design changes. Officials from Verizon indicated they wanted the iPhone as soon as possible, so Apple obliged with a modified version of the GSM-based iPhone 4 released in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft retracts CEO Steve Ballmer’s comments as to Windows 8 arriving in 2012, cites “misstatement”

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Date: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011, 04:42
Category: News, Software

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has always possessed a multitude of skills.

Knowing when to keep his mouth shut has not always been one of them.

Per InfoWorld, a Microsoft spokesperson has clarified Ballmer’s comments as to Windows 8 arriving in 2012 as “a misstatement.”

At a developer forum in Tokyo, Japan on Monday, Ballmer used the name “Windows 8″ in public for the first time.

“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech,” the company’s official transcript reported Ballmer as saying.

“And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors,” he continued.

However, Ballmer may have said too much, as Microsoft has retracted the comments.

“It appears there was a misstatement,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement the company issued. “We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.” Microsoft’s 2011 fiscal year ends on June 30.

According to the report, Microsoft has kept quiet about the names of previous Windows versions. Windows 7 wasn’t officially labeled as such until “just weeks” before developers received an early build.

However, analysts and developers appear to have already settled on calling the next version “Windows 8,” though Microsoft’s backpedaling has left some analysts wondering. “Was it the name, Windows 8?” analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft asked. “Or was it [the release in] 2012? Sometimes this is like being a soothsayer, pulling apart the entrails of animals.”

Developers report that builds of Windows 8 are still in the early stages. For example, the Ribbon UI feature is “only half-finished and, frankly, of dubious value,” according to one report.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking less likely to include near-field communications in iPhone 5

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Date: Monday, May 16th, 2011, 10:02
Category: iPhone, Rumor

In the apparently never-ending speculation regarding the appearance of near-field communications in the upcoming iPhone 5, the current consensus is leaning towards “no”.

According to Business Insider, Wall Street research firm Bernstein issued a note to investors on Monday in which it claimed the next iPhone won’t include an NFC chip, according to Business Insider. That would run contrary to previous rumors that Apple was planning to include such a chip in its next iPhone.

Numerous reports from various sources had suggested that Apple planned to include NFC chips for e-wallet functionality in its next iPhone. Wireless short-range technology like RFID can allow for secure transmission of data, and could turn a user’s smartphone into a credit card.

In March, it was also reported that Apple was planning e-wallet functionality for a “coming” iPhone. However, the newspaper could not confirm whether the functionality would appear in Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone.

Apple has shown a great deal of interest in RFID over the years, with numerous patent filings, job listings, and even public comments from mobile executives. Reports of iPhone prototypes with RFID functionality date back to 2009.

If true, Monday’s report could mean that users would have to wait until at least the sixth-generation iPhone, likely to arrive in 2012, before such functionality would become available. That would jibe with other rumors that the next iPhone will not feature any significant changes to its hardware.

It would also support a claim out of the U.K. made in March that said RFID functionality had been scrapped. The Independent cited sources at mobile operators who said that Apple plans to include NFC technology in the sixth-generation iPhone in 2012.

Last week, a separate analyst report claimed that the biggest feature of Apple’s fifth-generation handset, given the moniker “iPhone 4S,” will be support for both Sprint and T-Mobile networks in the U.S. It is also expected to feature better cameras and the dual-core A5 processor found in the iPad 2.

Over the weekend, a separate part and case claimed to be for the fifth-generation iPhone suggested that the camera flash on the rear of the device will be placed farther from the lens. This would allow for better pictures when taken in low lighting.

Apple’s next iPhone is widely expected to miss the traditional summer launch timeframe when previous devices have been introduced. Instead, it is believed that the next iPhone will arrive at some point in Apple’s 2012 fiscal year, which begins in late September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple may incorporate Sharp’s next-gen p-Si LCDs in iPhone 6, see a launch next spring

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Date: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011, 04:13
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to plan ahead.

Apple has reportedly selected Sharp to create next-generation low-temperature poly-silicon LCD displays, which will allow a thinner and lighter design for the anticipated sixth-generation iPhone in 2012.

Per Japanese newspaper Nikkan, Sharp will begin manufacturing of the displays in the spring of next year. The company is said to have already begun preparing equipment at its Kameyama Plant No. 1, which is primarily used for building LCD TVs.

The liquid crystal display on the anticipated “iPhone 6″ is said to feature “low-temperature poly-silicon” technology, a next-generation display format that allows for thinner and lighter screens that consume less power than traditional LCD screens.

In a “p-Si LCD,” the thin film transistor, or TFT, of the screen is made of polycristalline silicon. With this method, the display drivers can be mounted directly onto the glass substrate, shrinking the TFT section and allowing for a thinner LCD display.

This technology has allowed companies to create “system on glass” devices, in which the optical sensors, signal processing circuits and other components are located directly on the glass substrate. This negates the need for additional components in a device like an iPhone, saving space within the device and even improving battery life with increased efficiency.

Other advantages of a p-Si display are said to be a higher aperture ratio, which allow for more vivid images onscreen, and enhanced durability, with the amount of connecting pins reduced.

The display of the iPhone 4 is a major selling point of the device, with the high-density 326ppi screen dubbed a “Retina Display” by Apple. Apple also pushed the in-plane switching screen of the iPad last year, a feature that allows enhanced viewing angles, and one that returned again for the new iPad 2.

The rumors of a p-Si LCD would suggest that Apple is not considering organic LED displays, an alternative low-power technology that has been pushed in iPhone-competing devices like the Samsung Galaxy S. Numerous rumors have suggested that Apple has shown interest on OLED, but the iPhone maker has not utilized the technology in any of its devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.