Apple follows suit, drops iPhone 3GS handset price to $49 with AT&T contract

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:39
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Without a ton of fanfare, Apple has dropped the price of its entry-level 8GB iPhone 3GS handset to US$49 with a new two-year contract with AT&T, matching the new low price that last week was offered exclusively by the carrier.

The 8GB iPhone 3GS now retails for US$49, down from its original price of US$99. The price change came quietly, without an announcement from Apple, just a few days after AT&T revealed it had reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS as well.

Per AppleInsider, last week, AT&T made it clear that the price of the iPhone 3GS sold in Apple’s own channels, such as its retail and online stores, were determined by Apple itself, suggesting the US$50 price cut was solely AT&T’s doing. At the time, Apple’s official iPhone site still offered the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

The current-generation iPhone 4 models still carry the same price with a two-year AT&T contract. The 16GB model sells for US$199, while the high-end 32GB model has a price of US$299.

AT&T’s chief rival, Verizon, is widely expected to announce on Tuesday that it will carry a CDMA version of the iPhone in just a matter of weeks. While reports have said Verizon will offer the iPhone 4, no mention has been made of the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009. If Verizon’s deal is only for the iPhone 4, the US$49 iPhone 3GS could remain an AT&T exclusive.

Starting with the launch of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple began selling the previous year’s model with a two-year AT&T contract in the U.S. for US$99. While the initial US$99 handset from Apple was the iPhone 3G, last year that was upgraded to the 8GB iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 launched.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T now selling iPhone 3GS for $49 to qualified customers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 7th, 2011, 03:18
Category: iPhone, News, retail

attlogo

Sometimes you have to do interesting things to stay in the game.

Per the cool cats at the Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T announced on Thursday that on Friday, January 7, it will start selling the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$49 to new and upgrade-eligible customers. Last month, retailers including Best Buy and Radio Shack offered temporary $49 iPhone 3GS deals, but now that price point is official, at least from AT&T: at the time this article was posted, Apple’s online store continues to offer the iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Apple released the iPhone 3GS during the summer of 2009, but it continued to be sold for US$99 after the iPhone 4 was announced last summer. Radio Shack’s holiday deal last month also knocked US$50 off the price of the iPhone 4, but prices for the current-gen smartphone seem poised to remain where they previously were for the time being.

Rumors have persistedthat the iPhone is headed to Verizon soon, which may have prompted the price change by AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple adds ‘Support Profile’ feature to web site, allows users check warranty info

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 05:21
Category: News

applelogo_silver

It’s not the most exciting thing in the world but it could be useful.

Apple on Wednesday added a new feature to the Support section of its web site, dubbed “My Support Profile,” where users can track their repair and support activities, as well as check on the status of a warranty.

Per AppleInsider, users can now log in to the new site at supportprofile.apple.com with their Apple ID and password. From there, all Apple products registered to the person’s name are listed, and more can be added. It can even detect the serial number of a Mac being used to visit the site.

The site lets users initiate a support call with Apple, or set up a repair of a faulty device through AppleCare. It also offers the ability to add an AppleCare Protection Plan to hardware.

Products can be given a “nickname” to make them easier to identify, and information such as the device’s serial number is available. Users can also edit their personal contact information, and set up VoicePass or text message support preferences based on telephone number and time of day.

The site keeps a record of phone support calls, with a recommended list of potential fixes for the issue discussed. Users can also check the status of a repair that may be in progress, or view previous repairs or replacements of products.

The site also tracks repair activities that may have taken place in an Apple retail store, giving details of the user’s request, the service administered, and confirmation that the product was returned.

If you’ve tried the new service and have any feedback to offer, please let us know and thanks in advance!

Unconfirmed iPhone 5/Verizon iPhone photos surface

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 05:15
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

The nice thing about technology: there’s always something nifty on the horizon.

Or at least pictures of the nifty thing on the horizon.

Per SmartPhone Medic, new pictures claim to show a redesigned stainless steel frame for the iPhone, with new placement of black bands on the perimeter of the handset’s frame, the metal band which also acts as the phone’s antenna.

The photos from SmartPhone Medic claim to be from a “very reliable source” and purport to show an “unreleased iPhone design.” The alleged new frame is pictured next to the existing one used in the current iPhone 4.

The photos appear to have been doctored in order to, at the very least, remove shadows and colors from the white background. While no claims about the authenticity of the photos in question, they are reposted here for interest and discussion.

SmartPhone Medic gained attention last August, when it acquired a genuine front panel for the then-unannounced fourth-generation iPod touch, complete with a spot for a forward-facing camera. But unlike that scoop, the alleged iPhone frame published Wednesday is not a hands-on look, just pictures.

Both frames look largely the same in the pictures, but the alleged new part has a few key differences found in the placement of “antenna gaps.” The current iPhone 4 has three gaps — two on the side, one on top — while the pictured part shows four — two on each side, none on top.

The antenna gap on the bottom left side of the current iPhone 4 caused a major controversy last year, when it was revealed that bridging that gap with a hand or even a fingertip could result in degradation of wireless reception. There were numerous rumors that Apple would revise the design of the iPhone 4 to address the issue, but Apple instead held a press conference to explain the situation and offered customers a free “bumper” case to fix it.

The alleged iPhone part also shows the device’s frame with a retained spot for a micro-SIM card, suggesting it could be a redesign of the current GSM handset, or could be a new “world” phone with both GSM and CDMA. Apple is rumored to release a CDMA compatible phone in the near future.

Another possibility, if the frame is legitimate, is for a CDMA phone that also has a micro-SIM slot for 4G long-term evolution connectivity. While CDMA does not use a SIM card, Verizon’s high-speed 4G network does. Finally, it’s possible the alleged part could be for a prototype “iPhone 5,” thought Apple is not expected to release a full-fledged fifth-generation device until this summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple confirms iOS 4.2.1 alarm clock bug, says issue will resolve itself by January 3rd

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 3rd, 2011, 06:30
Category: iPhone, News, Software

If you were looking for your iOS device to signal its alarm around New Years, you may have been in for a surprise. Per Macworld, Apple has confirmed an iOS bug where non-repeating alarms fail to ring on the first few days of the new year, recommending that users set recurring alarms until Jan. 3, when the alarms will resume working properly.

As various time zones entered the new year, reports began cropping up from iOS users whose one-time alarms had stopped functioning after the device’s clock had ticked over to January 1, 2011. According to reports, the issue affects devices running the iOS 4.2.1, the latest version of iOS.

Apple spokesperson Natalie Harrison stated the following: “We’re aware of an issue related to non repeating alarms set for January 1 or 2,” Harrison said. “Customers can set recurring alarms for those dates and all alarms will work properly beginning January 3.”

The issue is reminiscent of the iOS alarm bug that caused alarms to miss the daylight saving time change that occurred earlier this fall. After Australian users were woken up an hour early because of the bug, Apple stated that the company was “aware of this issue and already developed a fix which will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

Stay tuned for additional details and if your iOS device missed an alarm over the past few days, let us know.

Korean wireless carriers deny Nexus S handset, say iPhone remains safe

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 31st, 2010, 09:04
Category: iPhone, News

Korean cell carriers are turning service for down the Nexus S handset both because of Google’s control but also because of Apple, insider tips said late Thursday. According to The Korea Times, both KT and SK Telecom are reportedly upset that Google’s insistence on a pure Android experience won’t let them promote their own proprietary apps and services. Google’s control of the marketing for the Android 2.3 flagship also wouldn’t give them the marketing angle they would like.

The iPhone is also cited as a reason for the lack of any plans. Even SK Telecom, which has often had Nexus S maker Samsung’s blessing as the anti-iPhone carrier, reportedly doesn’t believe that the official Google phone would have any effect. “The Nexus S won’t make a huge impact enough to break the current iPhone stronghold,” an anonymous official from the carrier said.

KT has still said it has “no plans,” though its position may be mixed. Most of its smartphone performance is based on the iPhone, even though it was the only carrier to sell the Nexus One in Korea. The Android device has sold at much lower levels, at 50,000 units since July, but KT is believed willing to keep talking with Google to “recover ailing corporate ties” with Samsung. The electronics chain has allegedly been abusing its dominant position to retaliate against KT for iPhone competition, such as by withholding better phones and dictating harsh marketing requirements.

The absence of HDMI video out and a microSDHC slot were similarly cited as factors in a Korean market that often favors feature-heavy devices, but it’s not certain how likely this might be given that the iPhone has thrived without either. Samsung’s Galaxy S has sold very well in the country despite the absence of an HDMI port.

The similarity between the Nexus S and the Galaxy S may ultimately be the main factor, as the Nexus S’ primary advantages are mostly limited to its newer, unmodified OS, its front-facing camera and its support for NFC wireless.

If you have any experience with the Korean wireless marketplace and want to hurl your two cents in, let us know what you think in the comments.

Skype 3.0 now available for iOS, allows video chat over 3G, Wi-Fi protocols

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 30th, 2010, 05:05
Category: iPhone, News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

As expected, Skype has added a new video calling feature to version 3.0 of its iPhone app, giving users an alternate service from Apple’s own FaceTime video chat standard.

Per Engadget, reports emerged last week that Skype was planning to make “a series of video-related announcements” at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show. A support document detailing how to make video calls via iPhone served as further evidence of the imminent release of a video-capable Skype iPhone app.

An update to the Skype for iOS app Thursday allows users to make Skype to Skype video calls over WiFi and 3G with other iOS Skype users or Skype desktop users, Engadget reports. Two-way video calls are only supported on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch, while iPad and third-generation iPod touch users can receive video calls. Video calling on Skype 3.0 requires iOS 4.0 or above.

Skype’s launch of video chat on the iPhone and iPod touch will challenge Apple’s efforts to get its FaceTime video conferencing standard to catch on. With over 500 million user accounts, Skype has the user base needed to promote rapid adoption of its video call features over Apple’s FaceTime.

Skype 3.0 is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new video chat feature on Skype and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple could release Verizon iPhone on or prior to February 14th, 2011

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 30th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

verizonlogo.jpg

Apple is expected to hold an event “very soon,” perhaps by Valentine’s Day on February 14th 2011, to unveil a new CDMA version of the iPhone compatible with U.S. carrier Verizon’s network.

Per Bloomberg Businessweek, the alleged debut of the iPhone on Verizon is portrayed as an “enormous problem” for AT&T, the current exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S. While AT&T has had sole access to the iPhone since 2007, problems with its network have caused bad press, including a recent reader poll from Consumer Reports ranking AT&T the worst carrier in America.

“Verizon enjoys a reputation for reliability,” author Peter Burrows wrote. “AT&T is notorious for dropping calls, especially in densely populated places like New York and San Francisco where iPhones are most common and cell towers get loaded.”

The report said that Apple would hold one of its own “splashy product introductions to announce a new version of the iPhone that work’s on Verizon’s network,” and said that event would “maybe” come by Valentine’s Day.

Some have speculated that Apple would instead allow Verizon to announce the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, an uncharacteristic move for the typically controlling iPhone maker. But the report specifically stated that a CES unveiling is not in the plans.

“Apple’s introduction of an iPhone for use on Verizon’s network will come sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, according to a person familiar with Apple’s plans who is not authorized to discuss them publicly,” Burrows wrote.

But while the apparently loss of exclusivity on the iPhone is cause for concern for AT&T, the report also suggested that Verizon could experience its own growing pains when Apple’s smartphone arrives on its network.

“At least initially, Verizon’s iPhone may have weaknesses compared to AT&T’s,” the report said. “The expense and hassle of changing carriers could also work to AT&T’s advantage.”

It also noted that iPhone customers may be less likely to switch from AT&T if they are still under contract, as the carrier upped its termination fee to US$325 in May of this year. The carrier also offered early upgrades for some iPhone 4 buyers whose contracts had not expired, locking them in to another two full years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if a Verizon iPhone is in your heart, please let us know what’s on your mind.

Apple looking to hire two software engineers to expand iOS’ “cloud-based” features

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010, 04:05
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

When in doubt, there’s always cloud-based services to makes things nifty.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is looking to expand its iOS development team with new employees who will enhance the company’s cloud-based services for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Just before Christmas, Apple posted two new job listings (1, 2) for the title of “iOS Software Engineer.” While the two full-time positions have different job descriptions, both describe an emphasis on remote storage for data access.

“Apple is hiring outstanding operations engineers to deliver and manage the next generation of hosted infrastructure serving Apple products and services,” one of the listings reads. The other says, “Apple is hiring experienced software engineers to work on distributed computing for data with non-trivial properties, and efficient online services for data access.”

One of the positions also seeks a candidate who has “experience developing large-scale offline or online storage systems.” Both positions are based at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus.

Some may view the hirings as further evidence of a cloud-based iTunes or other MobileMe-style services from Apple. The hirings could also be an effort by the company to bolster its new cloud-centric Apple TV, a device that also runs a version of the lightweight iOS operating system.

Numerous reports have indicated that Apple is interested in creating its own cloud-based iTunes service, which could allow users to stream their own music library from any Internet-connected device. It is believed that some of the functionality could come from Apple’s acquisition of Lala.

There’s also an e-mail allegedly sent by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs earlier this month, in which he purportedly said that his company’s MobileMe service would “get a lot better in 2011.” The US$99-per-year Internet-based service is an existing cloud venture from Apple, but a major portion of it, Find My iPhone, became free with the release of iOS 4.2.

Apple’s massive data center in North Carolina was set to launch this year, though Apple has not yet made any announcements for its potential use. But many have speculated that it will be used for cloud computing, perhaps via MobileMe, and streaming services, likely through iTunes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.