20% Samsung price hike could affect Apple’s margins by 1-2%

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:53
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Processors, retail

The ne’er ending fight between Apple and Samsung continues.

Following up on yesterday’s story about Samsung potentially raising the cost of building mobile processors for Apple, such a change would be expected to reduce the company’s overall margins by as much as 2 percentage points.

Per AppleInsider, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray noted on Wednesday that the processors built by Samsung at its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Tex., are the core component of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The chips tend to represent between 6 and 9 percent of the total component cost of a given iOS device.

A report surfaced this week that claimed Samsung has increased the price of its mobile processors for Apple as the two rival companies are driven further apart.

Munster said a 20 percent increase in chip prices would result in a hit to Apple’s margins between 1 and 2 percentage points. He also said that he would not be surprised if the price increase turns out to be accurate, “given the legal tension” between the two companies.

But he also buys in to rumors that Apple plans to move its chip production away from Samsung, and will have assembly of its custom processors like the A6 found in the iPhone 5 handed to another company, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

“We believe that if Apple were to move to another vendor in the next year or two, they may be able to negotiate better chip prices, which would roll back the impact from the Samsung price increase,” he said.

But in the meantime, Munster said it appears Apple has no choice but to continue its partnership with Samsung, even if the Korean electronics maker did put a massive price hike in place.

Piper Jaffray has projected that while Apple’s margins will dip during the December quarter in the face of a number of major product transitions, margins will quickly improve in the company’s fiscal year 2013. Munster has called for Apple to earn gross margins of 41.5 percent for calendar years 2013 and 2014.

“It does not appear that new product launches for iPhone 5 and iPad mini carry significantly different margins than prior launch margins for the same product lines,” he said.

Margins have been a major concern among investors in recent weeks, as Apple’s stock has taken a major hit. But most analysts have stood by Apple. Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank said last month that concern over Apple’s margins has been “overblown,” and that the reduction is “nearly entirely cyclical and not structural.”

Stay tuned for additional updates as to the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys as they become available.

Apple ordered to pay Samsung’s legal fees, remove “false and misleading” notice of judgment

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 08:59
Category: Legal, News

This feud’s going to continue until even your grandchildren are considering which nursing home to go to…

Per iLounge and Bailii, Apple has been ordered to pay Samsung’s legal fees on an indemnity basis, after being ordered to remove a “false and misleading” notice of judgment it had previously posted on the Apple U.K. website.

The legal decision was rendered due to Apple’s initial website notice in which the company made reference to its “cool” and “far more popular” iPad in comparison to the Galaxy tablet and pointed to other courts’ decisions in Apple’s favor in similar cases.

As noted in the judgment, fees awarded on an indemnity basis are “higher than the normal, ‘standard’ basis” and were awarded “as a mark of the court’s disapproval of a party’s conduct, particularly in relation to its respect for an order of the court. Apple’s conduct warranted such an order.” Further analysis of the removed website notice is included in this most recent decision, stemming from Apple’s appeal loss to Samsung over tablet design infringement.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated iOS 6.1 beta, Apple TV beta and Xcode 4.6 preview to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:08
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, Software

The iOS updates, they’re en route…

Per AppleInsider, a new build of iOS 6.1 was provided to developers on Monday, less than two weeks after the first beta was issued, along with a new preview of Xcode 4.6, and new beta software for the Apple TV.

Sources familiar with the second beta of iOS 6.1 indicated it is known as build 10B510c. It’s compatible with the fourth-, third- and second-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, and fifth- and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The second beta of iOS 6.1 arrived Monday alongside a new Xcode 4.6 Developer Preview 2, said to be known as build 4H95e, as well as a new beta software release for the Apple TV set-top box.

As with the previous beta of iOS 6.1, the latest build enhances the Map Kit framework in iOS, allowing developers to search for map-based addresses and points of interest.

In one example provided to developers, users could search the string “coffee,” and it would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

Relevance behavior rules have also changed with Passbook iOS 6.1 for boarding passes with both a date and location. Developers are encouraged to provide both piece of information, when appropriate, to make boarding passes relevant for a longer window of time.

Because it is beta software, a number of known issues remain with iOS 6.1. For example, Apple has notified developers that when browsing for TV shows in iTunes Store, options to view content by networks, genres and Genius recommendations are not available.

Sources who tested the first beta of iOS 6.1 indicated that the software was relatively stable, aside from some crashing issues that were present when using the camera’s panorama mode.

The last update to iOS arrived in the form of software version 6.0.1 earlier this month. It addressed a number of minor bugs with the software, including screen distortion, issues with the camera flash, and problems with Exchange.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new betas and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iPhone 5 shipping times improve, device ETA now stands at 2-3 weeks

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:59
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Maybe things are getting a little better over at the Foxconn plant…

Per AppleInsider, availability of the iPhone 5 continues to improve, as Apple’s website now advertises that all models ship within two to three weeks.

The latest estimated shipping times are an improvement from the previously advertised timeframe of three to four weeks. The shipping time applies to both the black and slate as well as the white and silver models, in all three capacities.

The improved shipping times corroborate reports from last week that revealed Apple’s supply was catching up with demand for iPhone 5 inventory at its U.S. retail stores. Gene Munster and his team at Piper Jaffray found that 54 percent of 100 Apple Stores had the AT&T iPhone 5 in stock, while 24 percent had the Verizon model, and 84 percent were stocked with the Sprint variety.

Those numbers from last week were a major improvement from the weeks prior, when supplies of the iPhone 5 were severely constrained, particularly for AT&T and Verizon customers.

“We believe this is an important step for Apple as it appears they are finally gaining momentum in being able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5,” Munster wrote. “We believe that if AT&T and Verizon device availability follows the same trend as Sprint, it may only be 2-3 weeks before iPhone 5s are consistently available to customers.”

Also last week, Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said his checks within Apple’s supply chain found that the company had significantly improved its production capacity of the iPhone 5 since the device launched in late September. According to Wu, the supply chain bottleneck for the iPhone 5 moved from components to the assembly of the device itself.

Earlier reports claimed that the iPhone 5’s in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis have caused quality control issues for both Apple and Foxconn. One unnamed source from Foxconn said in October that the iPhone 5 is “the most difficult device” the company has ever been tasked with assembling.

If you’ve gotten word as to when your iPhone 5 is expected to ship, please let us know its estimated delivery time in the comments.

Rumor: Samsung initiates 20% price increase for iOS device chips

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Date: Monday, November 12th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Processors, Rumor

I think it’s about time we just rename “Apple” and “Samsung” as the “Hatfields” and the “McCoys”, because this is going to drag on for a while.

Per MarketWatch, Samsung has allegedly increased the price of its mobile processors by 20 percent for just one company: Apple.

The details come from an unnamed person allegedly familiar with negotiations between the two companies.

The person indicated that Samsung asked for a “significant price raise” for building chips such as the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5 and the A6X processor that powers the fourth-generation iPad.

Apple apparently balked at the terms of the deal at first, but eventually accepted the 20 percent price hike, as it could not find any other company to build its mobile processor.

All of Apple’s application processors for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are made by Samsung. The company produces the chips at its fabrication plant in Austin, Tex.

Samsung is expected to build a total of 200 million chips for Apple this year. The companies have allegedly signed a long-term supply contract through 2014.

Although though Samsung remains the sole supplier of Apple’s custom chips found in the iPhone and iPad, the company has long been rumored to be pursuing a chipmaking partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. One report from last month claimed that TSMC could begin building quad-core 20-nanometer chips for Apple as soon as late 2013.

And in October it was said that Apple was getting “serious” about moving chip production away from Samsung. Around the same time, Apple also hired away former Samsung chip designer Jim Mergard, who also designed and developed chips for AMD for 16 years.

Last week, one report claimed that Samsung was expecting to lose a portion of its future chip orders from Apple. It indicated that the Korean electronics company may put off construction of a new fabrication facility because of the expected decrease in orders.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

British Airways confirms support for iOS Passbook feature

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 11:44
Category: iOS, News, Software

If you can get the major partners, then a new technology comes closer to being a de-facto standard.

Per AppleInsider, British Airways has confirmed that it will be supporting Apple’s Passbook payment system.

“I’m pleased to confirm that the ba.com team are already looking into our website being able to work with the new Apple app, available with the iOS6 upgrade,” a company representative wrote in an e-mail. “Please be assured that we will get our Passbook-compatible functionality live on ba.com as soon as we can.”

British Airways already offers digital boarding passes through its official iOS application. But the carrier does not yet offer integration with Apple’s Passbook.

Passbook launched with iOS 6 in September featuring support from Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Australia.

The addition of British Airways would be a major catch for Apple. The U.K.-based carrier has a fleet of 249 aircraft and serves 169 total destinations.

Just this week, Apple updated its own Apple Store application for iOS to add support for Passbook. With the new software, users can purchase gift cards and e-mail them to friends, and those cards can be stored as passes in the Passbook application in iOS 6.

Passbook is Apple’s first stab at offering digital e-wallet type services on the iPhone. Rather than relying on near-field communication technology for wireless transactions, Apple has instead focused on replacing items such as store cards, boarding passes, movie tickets and retail coupons.

One of the first adopters of Passbook was Major League Baseball, which offered digital tickets for four teams at the end of the 2012 season. The league’s digital ticketing operation was “floored” by the initial adoption rate for Passbook, as they found Apple’s service accounted for 12 percent of MLB e-tickets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Initial tests show faster boot, read and write times under Apple’s Fusion Drive

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 08:59
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, Mac mini, News

There may be ample reason to go with a Fusion Drive inside your Mac.

Per Techfast Lunch&Dinner, a series of tests run by the site found the Fusion Drive Mac mini started in just 15.7 seconds, while the 2012 Mac mini with a traditional hard drive took 34.1 seconds to start.

Major improvements were also found in a disk speed test, which revealed the Fusion Drive can achieve read speeds of more than 300 megabytes per second, and write speeds exceeding 400 megabytes per second. In comparison, the Mac mini with 5400-rpm drive couldn’t exceed 100 megabytes per second on either the read or write test.

Fusion Drive was unveiled by Apple last month and is an upgrade option in the company’s latest Mac minis and iMacs. Apple has said the feature offers nearly the same performance as a solid-state drive, but also allows considerably more storage at a lower price point.

Apple’s Fusion Drives feature 128 gigabytes of flash storage paired with either a 1-terabyte or 3-terabyte 5400-rpm hard drive. Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion operating system calculates which files and applications are used the most and automatically places them on the faster solid-state drive, while less frequently accessed software remains stored on the spinning drive.

Core applications and the operating system are permanently stored and accessed from the flash memory, while the leftover space is used for those frequently accessed files, folders or programs. File transfers between the drives take place in the background dynamically, so the system is seamless and unobtrusive to the user.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller last month compared the Fusion Drive to a baseline 1TB 7200 RPM HDD. He said the Fusion drive performs an Aperture photo import 3.5 times faster, a file copy of a 4GB folder 3.5 times faster, and system boot 1.7 times faster.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a new Mac with a Fusion Drive and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Apple notifies customers, announces that iPad mini with Wi-Fi + cellular support to ship on November 13th

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 07:45
Category: iPad mini, News

You know that nifty iPad mini with support for 3G and 4G LTE networks?

It ships in four days.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is notifying users that the new iPad mini with support for 3G/4G LTE networks will begin shipping on November 13th, and has posted new iOS 6.0.1 builds for the iPad mini and iPad 4.

Apple began delivering WiFi only iPad mini models around the first of November, after immediately selling out its initial inventory.

Three days ago, the company reported sales of three million new iPad mini and iPad 4 units over the first three day weekend of sales, but that only included WiFi models.

Mobile data versions of the two new iPads were expected to begin shipping in “a few weeks,” but Apple’s recent email updates forwarded by multiple users stating that initial shipments will begin in five business days, or late next week.

Apple has also make available four new iOS 6.0.1 firmware downloads available to support the new models today, which include two versions (GSM and CDMA) of both the LTE iPad mini and iPad 4.

If you’ve received word as to your iPad mini with Wi-Fi and cellular support being en route, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0 for mid-2012 notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 07:27
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It’s the firmware updates that really make a difference.

Late Friday, Apple released its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0, a firmware update for its June 2012 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 76.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– This MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.

The update requires a Mac notebook introduced in June of 2012, Mac OS X 10.7.4 or higher and can be downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent shows interest in developing dual-function headphones

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Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012, 08:28
Category: News, Patents

applelogo_silver

This could get really interesting.

Per AppleInsider, a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday shows that Apple presented an invention for a “dual-mode headphone” which can transform from a normal set of earbuds to a more robust speaker system.

First filed for in 2011, the proposed system incorporates the usual in-ear headphone arrangement with specialized position-sensing circuitry and a power amplifier, allowing a user to dynamically switch from personal listening mode to speaker mode.

From the application’s background:
“Users typically listen to content on their portable devices using headphones, although there are speakers available that can be connected to the portable devices to enable multiple users to listen in at the same time. This approach, however, may require a user to carry both a headphone and speakers, or may require the user to rely on speakers built into the device, which may not be as powerful or have as high a sound quality as external speakers.

In operation, the headphones can detect its position and output sound in “headphone mode,” where the amplifier is bypassed, or “speaker mode,” which passes the audio signal through said amplifier. To prevent a user from being harmed by inadvertently activating the speaker mode while wearing the headphones, a separate sensor can be employed to detect when the unit is near a user’s ears.

Any number of sensors can be implemented in the invention, including IR sensors, ambient light sensors, Hall effect sensors, and others. In one embodiment, a sensor that can detect contact with a user’s ears is integrated into the headphone to prevent hearing damage.

In addition to automatically detecting positioning, users can manually activate speaker mode with physical buttons. An articulating arm or other design component can also be used to prop the headphones up when in speaker mode. ”

Finally, one embodiment describes an implementation that allows the headphone to be used as an in-ear set as well as a speaker by positioning extra ports directed away from the user’s ears.

As with many patent applications, the fate of the dual-mode headphone remains uncertain, though Apple’s new EarPods illustrated the company is still researching new design techniques for its audio products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.