Rumor: Apple to release aggressively-priced $799 MacBook Air to compete with second-gen Intel Ultrabook

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 06:52
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

When in doubt, get competitive.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to be planning to aggressively combat new “Ultrabook” notebooks coming to market by releasing a US$799 MacBook Air model in the third quarter of 2012, a price US$200 less than the company’s current cheapest model.

The claim came on Monday and cited sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain. Apple’s plans are reportedly to counter second-generation Ultrabooks, based on Intel’s specifications for thin and light notebooks, which PC makers hope to price around US$699.

If PC makers are unable to reach the $699 price point with their second-generation Ultrabooks, Apple could have a significant competitive advantage with an aggressive US$799 price point for a new MacBook Air, the report claims.

Currently, Apple’s cheapest notebook option is the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which is priced at US$999 and comes with a 64-gigabyte solid-state hard drive. Apple also offers a stripped-down 13-inch MacBook Air for education buyers only for US$999.

Last month, it was said that Intel hopes to see shipments of as many as 30 million Ultrabooks this year. The company designed the Ultrabook specification after Apple found great success with its new MacBook Air, which features only solid-state storage, instant-on capabilities, and super-thin design thanks to the lack of an optical drive.

Apple is expected to begin revamping its Mac lineup in the coming weeks with Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The product makeover is expected to begin with new MacBook Pros, starting with a 15-inch model, that will also rely on solid-state storage and lose an optical drive, taking design cues from the MacBook Air.

Prior to Monday’s report, little has been said of a new MacBook Air lineup, with most rumors focusing on Apple’s next MacBook Pros. In fact, one report even suggested that Apple could merge the two product lines, “effectively killing the Pro” and having all of its notebooks like MacBook Airs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple extends MobileMe users’ complimentary 20GB of online storage space deadline to September 30th

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 06:21
Category: iCloud, News, Software

You can’t knock both a deadline extension as well as additional storage space.

Per Mac Otakara, Apple has extended the additional 20 gigabytes of MobileMe storage from its original June 30 expiration to Sept. 30. A Frequently Asked Questions page on Apple’s website was recently updated to reflect the extension.

“MobileMe members with 20GB of purchased storage receive a complimentary iCloud storage upgrade of 20GB, and accounts with additional purchased storage (40GB to 60GB) receive a complimentary upgrade of 50GB after moving to iCloud. These free upgrades are good through September 30th, 2012,” the site read.

After September, former MobileMe customers can either pay to keep the storage or downgrade to the free 5GB iCloud plan. Though it’s not exactly clear when Apple revealed the extension, a cache of the FAQ page by Google from April 30 does not include the above paragraph.

Last month, it was discovered that Apple had begun offering free copies of OS X Snow Leopard to MobileMe users still on OS X Leopard. Subscribers could then pay for an upgrade to OS X Lion themselves in order to make the move to iCloud.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs took the wraps off iCloud last June and promised that it would be a step up from MobileMe, which he said was not Apple’s “finest hour.” Since the company launched iCloud last fall, it has attracted more than 125 million users.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer revealed last month during a quarterly earnings call that the company considers revenue from iCloud storage plans to be incidental. “Our real desire here was not about selling more storage… We just really wanted to increase the customer delight,” he said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Assorted, unmarked iPad 2 units sporting different A5 processor, offer up to 16% additional battery life

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 06:41
Category: battery, Hardware, iPad, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Per Engadget, an updated model of the US$399 iPad 2 is floating around at retail, and it might improve battery life by as much as 16 percent.

The site is reporting that the lower-cost version of the iPad 2 introduced in March has quietly introduced a new 32nm A5 processor, and that could translate to improved battery life for budget-minded buyers.

The discovery was made by AnandTech, who did an extensive review on the upgraded model, which bears the “iPad2,4” model. Instead of the 45nm process used for the A5 processor used in the original iPad 2 last year, the newer US$399 model features “special A5 chips manufactured using Samsung’s 32nm chip-making process.”



In testing, the website discovered that the 32nm iPad2,4 model boasted improved battery life of 15.8 percent, including a video playback test that lasted 15.7 hours — far better than the original iPad 2 model at 13.3 hours and even the new iPad with its larger battery, which ran for a mere 11.15 hours.

Unforunately, there’s no way to tell which iPad 2 you’re buying until you’ve opened the box and checked the system information.

“This particular iPad 2,4 sample came from Best Buy, and several attempts to find one elsewhere came up short. All indications seem to point to the iPad 2,4 being relatively rare, which makes sense considering what’s inside it,” stated the AnandTech article.

So, it’s sort of a golden ticket that’s out there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s next-gen iPhone to be thinner, incorporate 4-inch screen, utilize metal backing and new dock connector

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be some element of truth here…

Per iLounge, Apple’s next-gen iPhone will be slightly taller to accommodate a 4-inch screen with a new aspect ratio, will feature a redesigned dock connector, and will also have a new metal panel on the back side, a new report claims.

The latest rumors about Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone stated that the new iPhone will be about 10 millimeters taller, giving it dimensions of 125 millimeters tall, 5.8 millimeters wide and 7.4 millimeters thick. That’s about 2 millimeters thinner than the current iPhone 4S, with essentially the same width as the current model.

Because the new iPhone will allegedly be the same width, that would mean that new applications would need to be designed to work with the handset. The taller screen would have more pixels at the top and bottom, giving it a different aspect ratio.

“According to our source, Apple will make one major change to the rear casing, adding a metal panel to the central back of the new iPhone,” the report said. “This panel will be flat, not curved, and metal, not ceramic.”

Author Jeremy Horwitz also added that the new iPhone is expected to be partially made from Gorilla Glass 2, which offers identical strength to the original Gorilla Glass with a thinner design. At just 0.8 millimeters thick, Gorilla Glass 2 can withstand 121 pounds of pressure.

Finally, the report also claimed that the next iPhone will have a new, smaller dock connector that will be “a little larger” than the bottom speaker and microphone ports on the existing iPhone 4S. The new port was described as “a pill shape,” and is believed to have just 16 pins, compared to the current 30-pin dock connector.

“It will be used in all upcoming devices, including an update to the iPod touch that’s expected this year, and will almost certainly feature a similarly updated screen and CPU,” the report said.

In March, iLounge reported that Apple was working on a new case for the iPad that would protect not only the front screen, as the current magnetic Smart Case does, but also the aluminum back panel of the device. The site credited a “repeatedly reliable source,” but such a case has not yet been released.

The rumors come on the heels of a new component claimed to be the SIM card tray for Apple’s next-generation iPhone. A home button also purported to be from a prototype Apple handset also appeared, but no components thus far have given any concrete indication that the next iPhone’s design will be a radical departure from the look of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Still, there has been rampant speculation that Apple’s next iPhone will have a redesigned exterior. Rumors of unibody enclosures, larger screens and thinner form factors have all cropped up in recent months.

Early prototyping of the next iPhone is believed to be underway ahead of a launch anticipated this fall, one year after the debut of the iPhone 4S. In March it was said that Apple was reviewing potential components for the new iPhone.

Rumors surrounding the next iPhone have picked up steam in recent weeks, as one report said the handset will feature Qualcomm’s “MDM9615” LTE 4G chip for high-speed wireless connectivity. Reports have also claimed that the next iPhone will adopt in-cell touch panel technology, which will allow Apple to make the next iPhone thinner by 0.44 millimeters, or fit in a larger battery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Apple expected to grow store-within-a-store concept in Walmart, Target locations

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 05:15
Category: News, retail

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It never hurts to have your products on the shelves.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s retail presence is expected to grow within the U.S. over the next two years with store-within-a-store retail outlets set to expand at Target and Walmart.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray noted that while Apple currently has just 250 retail locations in the U.S., the company has the potential to reach many new customers by expanding its micro-store concept.

Currently, Walmart has over 3,800 locations in the U.S., and Target has 1,700 stores. Munster expects Walmart to be a significant partner for Apple in expanding the company’s presence, as Walmart has better rural distribution.

Apple is currently testing its store-within-a-store concept at two Target locations, and 23 more stores will be added before the end of the year.

In addition to Target, there is also one Apple store-within-a-store being tested at one Walmart in Lowell, Arkansas. That Walmart features a dedicated space that is distinctly separate from the rest of the big-box retailer’s other departments.

Munster visited one of Apple’s two Target micro-stores, and found it similar to Apple’s existing Best Buy locations, which are present in about 40 percent of Best Buy’s U.S. stores. However, unlike Best Buy, Target does not sell any of Apple’s Mac lineup.

“We believe the Target/Apple relationship will not expand to the full Mac lineup given Target does not sell a significant line of PCs,” Munster wrote in a note to investors on Thursday.

From his visit to Target’s micro-store, Munster found that product inventory was unsurprisingly far less than Apple would carry at its own retail stores. However, he did find that Target carried most of the company’s product lineup, with the exception of Mac hardware and software.

“The Apple micro-store was staffed by a Target employee who claimed to have received two hours of training from Apple,” he said. “Overall, the layout of the Target micro-store was more inviting compared to other Best Buy Apple micro-stores we have visited, in our opinion.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was asked about his company’s store-within-a-store initiative and its relationship with Walmart during Apple’s quarterly earnings conference call last week. Cook didn’t offer much in the way of details, but explained that Apple is “trying some things.” He said he didn’t expect Apple to be present in 10,000 Walmarts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-gen iPad shipping times drop to 3 to 5 business days

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Date: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, 09:40
Category: iPad, News

It never hurts to meet demand for your product.

Per AppleInsider, estimated shipping times for the third-generation iPad have been lowered to 3 to 5 business days over in Apple’s online store.

New orders of the third-generation iPad in both black and white, in all capacities, and also in the “Wi-Fi + 4G” models are now advertised to ship in less than a week in the U.S. It’s the second time in less than a month that estimated shipping times have improved for the new iPad.

Just weeks ago, shipping times shortened to 5 to 7 days, an improvement from the previous advertised shipments of one to two weeks.

Apple revealed last week that it sold 11.8 million iPads in the March quarter, a three-months pan during which the new iPad was only available for a few weeks. During his company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed that the company faced supply constraints with the new iPad.

“The new iPad was supply constrained last quarter for the first three or so weeks that it was shipping, and it is still constrained,” Cook said. He added that he expected the company would be able to supply “a significant number of iPads” in the current June quarter.

Limited availability of the new iPad is believed to be largely caused by constraints related to the new high-resolution Retina display. The screen, the defining feature of the third-generation iPad, has primarily been built by Samsung, while LG and Sharp were said to have had trouble building Retina displays initially.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases fourth Mac OS X 10.7.4 build to developer community

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Date: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, 07:32
Category: News, Software

This might not be a bad sign.

Per AppleInsider, Apple seeded the latest 11E53 builds of OS X Lion and Lion Server with no known issues on Tuesday.

The update comes one week after Apple seeded build 11E52 which itself rolled out less than two weeks after build 11E46. Because of the shrinking time between dev updates, it is thought that a final version may be pushed out to the public in the near future.

Developers have been asked to concentrate on graphics, iCal, Mail, printing and Time Machine for OS X Lion, while Calendar & Contacts Server, Profile Manager, Server App, Web Server, WebDAV Sharing and ServerAdmin DNS are focuses of the Lion Server seed.

Registered Mac developers can access the update from Apple’s Developer Center website.

The 11E53 Delta updates for OS X Lion and Lion Server weigh in at 716.91MB and 202.59MB, respectively, while the Combo updates come in at 1.43GB and 1.51GB, respectively.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent patent hints at possible near-field communication feature in upcoming iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s the patents that provide the really interesting hints as to what’s to come in a product line.

According to Patently Apple, a new patent suggests that the company will be introducing a near-field communication (NFC) chip into its next-generation iPhone, which will enable users to quickly send iTunes gifts to one another.

The story reports that the ‘Gifting’ feature will allow users to share iTunes files including Playlists, though at a cost. Users could buy, send and receive files from iTunes between multiple iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

A user could select one or more media files to share with another device, and authorize a gift charge. The gift can then be shared with a second device within close range using the NFC chip’s connection.

Gifts may also be sent via email, for those who are not in close proximity of the device they wish to send files to. This will involve sending en electronic gift certificate that can be redeemed by the recipient. These gift certificates will be capable of sharing multiple files in a single transaction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in negotiations with EPIX over possible Apple TV content

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Rumor

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If there’s nothing worth watching, then a new HDTV isn’t going to make much sense in the long run.

According to Reuters, sources claim that Apple initiated talks earlier in 2012 to incorporate movie properties owned by movie streaming service EPIX in its Apple TV, with the content possibly in line to be used by the company’s rumored HDTV.

Two unnamed sources have stated that EPIX, a three-year-old movie streaming service created by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, MGM and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, would offer streaming of much-needed premium Hollywood content to Apple’s set-top box.

One of the sources also said that the agreement would include future Apple television products as well, hinting that the computer giant is indeed planning to release a internet-connected HDTV.

Rumors about the device have been swirling for over a year, though the whispers have so far been here-say and no concrete evidence has been discovered. A recent report claims that the product will be called the “iPanel” and will launch sometime in 2012.

The deal is still in the negotiations phase and an agreement is not expected any time soon. Besides its own streaming site, EPIX is currently beholden to an exclusive US$200 million a year deal with Netflix that ends in September.

Currently on EPIX’s roster of films are “Rango” and “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and Netflix announced that the service will add “Thor” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches third-gen iPad in India, eight more countries

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Date: Friday, April 27th, 2012, 07:06
Category: iPad, News

If you’ve got a popular item, make sure it gets in the hands of people who want it.

Per The Mac Observer, Applelaunched sales of its third generation iPad in nine more countries on Friday. The new release is part of Apple’s fastest iPad rollout so far, and includes Israel, India, and South Africa.

The other countries in Friday’s iPad launch include Columbia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, and Thailand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.