Meijer’s $70 iPad 2 price reduction, other discounts hint at upcoming iPad 3 launch

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 07:58
Category: iPad, News

It’s the discounts that sometimes provide the best hints as to a product released.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. big-box retailer Meijer, has slashed the in-store price of the 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi by US$70, even as Apple’s third-generation tablet is expected to hit the market within weeks.

The chain announced the sale in its weekly ad for the week of February 12 – 18, noting that it runs only while supplies last and does not include rain checks or substitutions. A separate listing on the company’s website lists the US$429 price as lasting until Feb. 25 and notes that the iPad 2 deal is only available in stores.

The Smart Cover iPad 2 accessory is also on sale for US$35, US$5 off Apple’s price. In addition, Meijer is offering a free US$15 iTunes gift card with the purchase of an 8GB iPod touch for US$195 this week.

Meijer is a Michigan-based supermarket chain that has been credited with popularizing the “supercenter” retail concept. The bulk of the company’s stores are in Michigan, though it also has locations in several other surrounding states.

The US$70 off sale is one of the steepest discounts for the iPad 2 since the device was released last March. For instance, Best Buy offered US$45 off all iPad 2 models last year ahead of the Black Friday retail frenzy. Apple itself offered between US$41 and US$61 off during its own Black Friday promotion.

Given that recent reports have pegged the first week in March as the likely time frame for the launch of the third-generation iPad, Meijer’s deal could be viewed as an effort to clear out inventory before the new devices arrive.

Apple’s next tablet is widely expected to have a high-resolution Retina Display with double the pixel density as the current model, as well as a significantly faster A6 processor. Some reports have also suggested that Apple could make the jump to 4G with the release of an LTE-capable iPad next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins offering 13.3-inch MacBook Air notebook to education buyers for $999

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 07:52
Category: MacBook Air, News

Apple’s tres-nifty white MacBook notebook may have officially gone the way of the dodo last week, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a replacement in the works.

Per AppleInsider, the company has begun selling a less powerful version of its 13.3-inch MacBook Air to educational institutions buying in bulk for US$999, filling the void left by the recently discontinued white MacBook.

The new model, only available to education buyers ordering in bulk sizes of five or more, features the same internal components as the 11.6-inch MacBook Air available to general consumers for US$999. But the new, discounted hardware sports a larger 13.3-inch display. They are advertised to ship within three to five days.

The 13.3-inch education model and the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air both feature a 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 Intel processor, along with two gigabytes of RAM and a 64-gigabyte solid-state drive. They are also powered by the Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset included on the Core i5 CPU.

The standard 13-inch consumer-level MacBook Air remains priced at US$1,299. The speedier machine has a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5 Intel CPU, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 128-gigabyte solid-state drive.

Last July, Apple discontinued its white MacBook, which previously served as the entry-level notebook in Apple’s lineup. Its price point was filled by the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which carries the same US$999 cost.

Apple continued offering the white MacBook to education buyers for months, but this week the company finally ceased sales of the legacy notebook. Resellers have since been notified that the white MacBook is now classified as “end of life.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple gearing up “iPad 3-ready” apps for iPad 3 event on-stage demos, ads

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Date: Friday, February 10th, 2012, 06:56
Category: iPad, Rumor

There shall be either an iPad 3 announcement or something geared towards the wider use of a Retina Display.

Per The Next Web, evidence continues to point toward an early March launch for the next-generation iPad, a new report claims that Apple is now in “crunch mode” as it prepares for on-stage demonstrations and television commercials highlighting apps for the device.

Sources have indicated that Apple’s selection process is proceeding at an “increased rate.” Of course, it is to be expected that Apple would be under more pressure as the event approaches, but the report does triangulate other recent reports that have pegged a Retina Display-equipped third-generation iPad for an early March launch.

Apple has traditionally showcased some of its own apps, such as GarageBand and iMovie, as well as exemplary third-party apps at its media events for new iOS devices. According to the report, the company is placing an emphasis on “graphics-oriented applications with high-definition assets” to spotlight the rumored Retina Display on the device.

The iPad maker is also reportedly forwarding some apps to its advertising partner TWBA/Chiat/Day as the agency readies commercials for the third-generation tablet. Author Matthew Panzarino noted that the process is entering its “final phase” and is on a tight deadline for the presentation and subsequent television broadcast.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to hold iPad 3 event in early March

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Date: Thursday, February 9th, 2012, 07:45
Category: iPad, Rumor

If you’re hankering for the next iPad, you might like this.

Per AllThingsD, Apple will reportedly hold a media event the first week in March in San Francisco to unveil its third-generation iPad, which is expected to go on sale soon after it is unveiled.

Citing unnamed sources, the web site reported on Thursday that Apple’s so-called “iPad 3″ will debut at a special event to be held the first week in March. That means the next-generation tablet will be shown off in the next three to four weeks.

Author John Paczkowski said the device will be largely the same as rumors have suggested, with a high-resolution Retina Display in the range of 2,048-by-1,536 pixels along with a “much faster” processor and improved graphics processing.

Paczkowski also asked a source whether 2012 will be “the year of the iPad 3,” and they reportedly said, “what do you think?” Last year at the iPad 2 unveiling in March, Apple killed off rumors that a new iPad model would launch later in the year by declaring 2011 the “Year of iPad 2.”

Last year, the iPad 2 was unveiled at a media event at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Wednesday, March 2. Thursday’s rumor suggests that the new iPad will debut at a similar point in the year. The month of March kicks off on a Thursday in three weeks.

The rumored date comes as a flurry of pictures claim to show components for Apple’s third-generation iPad, including one that purports to be a high-resolution Retina Display manufactured by Sharp for the anticipated tablet’s 9.7-inch touchscreen. Separately, a pair of reports claim to show both the outside and inside of the device’s back panel, suggesting it will include space internally for a larger battery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple pulls plug on white MacBook notebook, product reaches “End of Life” status

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Date: Thursday, February 9th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, MacBook, News

You had to like the white MacBook.

If nothing else, it was plucky and it looked pretty good when you were working on one in a coffee shop.

Unfortunately, Apple has reportedly notified resellers that the white polycarbonate MacBook is now officially classified as “End of Life” and has been discontinued.

Per MacRumors, Apple has stopped selling the white notebook to even its educational markets and notified resellers that the MacBook is now classified as “End of Life.”

The MacBook was Apple’s entry-level notebook for years, but it faced internal competition in 2010 with the release of the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which also started at US$999 and was an instant hit.

Apple introduced the MacBook in May 2006 during the transition from PowerPC to Intel processors. In 2008, it temporarily received an aluminum makeover, but that machine was later rebranded as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple released a unibody polycarbonate design in 2009 that remained until the product was discontinued last year.

Apple revises iOS Developer Program requirements, begins asking for Retina Display-compatible screenshots across the board

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Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: iOS, News

It looks like the Retina Display might be arriving for additional advices.

Which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday notified members of its iOS Developer Program that they will be required to provide high-resolution, Retina Display compatible screenshots when initially submitting or updating an app through iTunes Connect.

The note sent out to third-party software developers says that any future updates will not be approved by Apple unless 960×640 pixel screenshot is included, a change from the company’s earlier policy which supported Retina Display screenshots but did not require them.

Previously, non-Retina Display images and apps were scaled up from their native 480×320 pixel resolution on devices that sport the high-resolution display, and many apps in the App Store have yet to support to the higher pixel count.

Currently, the only Apple products to boast the Retina Display are the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the fourth generation iPod touch, however speculations that the much-rumored next-generation iPad will include its own high-resolution display have been cropping up since early last year.

The iPhone 4 was the first device to use the 960×640 pixel screen, with the display being introduced to the current iteration of the iPod touch in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for early 2010 MacBook Air, Pro notebooks, adds Lion Recovery and sleep fix

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Date: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, 06:20
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Firmware updates…they get useful.

Late Tuesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.6 for its early 2010 MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 3 megabyte download, enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection on MacBook Pro (Early 2010) models.

The company also released MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.3 for its early 2010 MacBook Air notebooks. The update, a 3 megabyte download, enables Lion Recovery from an Internet connection and also addresses an issue where the system would sometimes restart when the power button was pressed immediately after waking from deep sleep.

The updates can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware updates and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Analyst sees Apple potentially forming partnerships with cable partners for exclusive “iTV” content

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:38
Category: News

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An Apple-branded HDTV is potentially awesome, but without content, it won’t get off the ground.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies presented his “what if” analyses related to content on the so-called “iTV” in a note to investors on Monday. In what he sees as the most likely scenario, Apple could gain access to non-exclusive content for its television set and forge deals with existing cable providers.

By potentially partnering with carriers and cable operators, Apple could enter the market on a level playing field with everyone else for content. With access to a variety of content through existing providers, as well as the content already available on the iTunes Store, Misek believes that Apple could package everything with a “superior user interface and ecosystem” and beat out the competition.

“We think that partnerships with carriers and MSOs are possible whereby they provide the video content,” he wrote, “as they already have deals in place (at least to sell video over their own pipes), whereas Apple has to negotiate for new over-the-top distribution rights.”

While partnerships with companies like AT&T, Verizon, Bell and Rogers, combined with the existing iTunes Store, are seen as the most likely option, Misek also presented three other directions Apple could potentially take. In one option, he said Apple could simply seed content, as Google does with its YouTube Original Channels.

In this scenario, Misek thinks Apple could select about 100 groups to create channels and provide upfront financing in exchange for a year of exclusivity. Given Apple’s current clout in the entertainment industry with its iTunes Store, he believes Apple could target mainstream TV shows and movies with this method.

In another option, he said Apple could buy access to exclusive content, much as Netflix has done for the “House of Cards” program, and DirecTV has with its exclusive “NFL Sunday Ticket” package. With “headline deals,” such as a rumored bid on the English Premier League rights, he thinks Apple would gain buzz.

But exclusive content deals for an Apple television could also open the company up to scrutiny from governments. He believes that antitrust concerns could limit exclusive content options for Apple.

The final possible scenario, as seen by Misek, is that Apple could become a Hollywood studio and produce its own content. But the analyst believes lower margins and higher risks would scare Apple away from that option, as the film and TV divisions of companies like Sony, Disney, Viacom and News Corp. have substantially lower margins than Apple.

Misek believes Apple’s rumored entrance into the television market will be primarily to bolster the company’s “halo effect,” in which consumers buy into the Apple ecosystem and purchase its other products. He does not believe that an iTV with subscription revenue, as well as gross margins on the sale of HDTVs, would have much of an impact on the company’s bottom line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tim Cook hints at no ARM-based processor for future generations of MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, February 6th, 2012, 06:37
Category: MacBook Air, News

It’s when Apple executives begin dropping hints as to upcoming product lines that things get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, after meeting with Apple chief executive Tim Cook and chief financial officer Peter Openheimer, Citi analysts noted a strong iPad outlook leaving little likelihood of an ARM-based MacBook Air.

Citi analyst Richard Gardner reported Cook reiterating his comment, originally made during the quarterly earnings conference call, that the market for tablets would eventually grow larger than the conventional PC market.

Apple doesn’t refer to iPad as a PC, but as a “post-PC device,” leaving the ARM-based tablet distinct from the company’s Intel-based Macs. Gardner further indicated the meeting dispelled the notion that Apple might introduce ARM-based Macs, countering rumors that a new MacBook Air featuring an ARM processor might appear sometime soon.

Gardner cited Cook as alluding to “rapid innovation on the iOS platform” that will “significantly broaden the use case for tablets,” and stated he “walked away from this meeting with the impression that Apple feels iPad satisfies—or will soon satisfy—the needs of those who might have been interested in such a product” as an ARM-based MacBook Air.

Speculation about a MacBook Air or other low end Mac models beginning to incorporate ARM processors has been fueled by rapid advances in ARM’s chip designs as well as Microsoft’s Windows 8 strategy that envisions future tablet and clamshell PC devices built around ARM chips rather than Intel x86 compatible processors that Windows has historically been tied to as a platform.

While Apple could deliver ARM based Macs, it appears the company is more focused on increasing the desirability of its existing iPad and leaving Macs as a higher end alternative rather than bringing them into directly overlapping use scenarios.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple cites misdirected iMessages as result of incorrect configuration, not iOS 5 bug

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Date: Friday, February 3rd, 2012, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If iOS 5′s iMessages app is giving you fits, Tim Cook is here to tell you why. Per The Loop, reports of iOS 5 iMessages being sent to the wrong recipient are the result of a misconfigured phone, not an issue with the operating system or Apple’s cloud services, the company indicated.

The report notes that a situation where messages from an Apple Store employee were being directed to another user’s iPhone were the result of the employee failing to follow directions while troubleshooting the customer’s device.

The employee installed his personal SIM card in the customer’s phone, linking the device to his Apple ID account in a way that resulted in his subsequent iMessages, including photos, being relayed to the customer’s device.

The report cited Apple representative Natalie Harrison as saying, “this was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM. This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

Apple noted that to prevent such a situation, users should “toggle iMessage on and off” in the Settings app of any iOS 5 device configured to their Apple ID before it is given away or sold.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.