Analyst: Verizon may accept more of Apple’s terms for access to iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 08:35
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon may be willing to accept Apple’s terms regarding the iPhone according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. Per The Mac Observer, a deal between the two companies is “closer to reality,” and Verizon may be more willing to pay what Apple wants under Apple’s terms as Android “starts losing some of its luster (at least at Verizon).”

The change would mark a shift in the rumored negotiations between the two companies, as Verizon previously hadn’t wanted to pay the same high subsidies AT&T pays for each iPhone signed up on its network. The telecom has also been unhappy with the notion of leaving Apple in charge of the customer experience, as it is with almost all of its carrier partners.

“Times have changed,” wrote Mr. Wu in a research note to his firm’s clients clients. “Apple is back in the driver’s seat with a record 14.1 million iPhone shipments in the September quarter helping AT&T gain share against VZ over the last two quarters as Android starts to lose some of its luster (at least at VZ). In addition, our sources indicate that VZ does not believe the pending launch of BlackBerry 6 on its network is likely to have a material impact.”

Another factor playing into the negotiations, according to industry and supply chain checks conducted by Kaufman Bros., is that Verizon may be willing to pay more than (i.e. what AT&T pays) to keep the device exclusive to AT&T and Verizon in the U.S., and off of Sprint and T-Mobile.

The iPhone has been the single biggest drive in customer growth for AT&T, helping Ma Bell to close much of the distance between itself and Big Red. AT&T has enjoyed an exclusive five year deal on the iPhone, but that five year contract will be up as soon sometime-in-2011, according to a variety of reported leaks and informed speculation (the smart money is on the summer of 2011).

While Verizon wants to end AT&T’s exclusivity on the device, the company doesn’t necessarily want every other carrier to get it, too, according to the reasoning laid out by Mr. Wu.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Foxconn to ship second-gen iPad in 100 days to meet April launch

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Date: Tuesday, December 7th, 2010, 07:41
Category: iPad, Rumor

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn will begin shipping Apple’s next-generation iPad within the next 100 days according to a story published by DigiTimes.

After checks with Taiwan-based component makers, the publication reported Tuesday that Foxconn is set to ship the iPad 2 by the end of February 2011, with initial shipments of 400,000-600,000 units. Tuesday’s report echoes an earlier report from the publication that claimed suppliers would ramp up shipments of iPad 2 components in the first quarter of 2011.

Apple had reportedly planned to begin mass production of the device in January, but ongoing testing of the new iPad’s firmware has apparently forced Apple to postpone its schedule. The new iPad is still expected to launch in April, a year after the first-generation device debuted.

According to the report, Foxconn’s new production plants in Chengdu are still in “pilot production,” so the iPad 2 will be mainly supplied by the company’s Shenzhen plants.

In preparation for a spring launch of the second generation of Apple’s successful tablet device, production of the original iPad is expected to drop off in early February. According to the article’s sources, Apple will still place orders for an estimated 1.6-1.8 million iPads through the end of January before reducing orders.

Anonymous sources have also indicated that Apple would introduce FaceTime-equipped next-gen iPads by the end of the first quarter of 2011, ahead of the usual 12-month product cycle. In November, rumors emerged that the next iPad will be a “world mode” device with both GSM and CDMA radios, allowing it to work on a variety of networks.

In the U.S., Verizon has already begun selling the iPad, though it currently only offers the Wi-Fi-only model bundled with a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. The iPad 3G model is not compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network.

Rumor: Apple to release Mac OS X 10.6.5, iTunes 10.1 on Wednesday, launch iOS 4.2 on Friday

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Date: Wednesday, November 10th, 2010, 03:20
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s the rumors that keep life interesting, especially when you’re hankering for significant new software updates.

Per MacStories, Apple is slated to launch Mac OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1 on Wednesday, November 10th, and iOS 4.2 for iPhone and iPad on Friday, November 12th, according to a new rumor.

Citing an inside source at AT&T, MacStories reported Tuesday that iOS 4.2 will be released on Friday at 10 a.m. The update, which will mark the debut of iOS 4 on the iPad, will require iTunes 10.1 to be installed.

iOS 4.2 will bring AirPrint and AirPlay to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, allowing users to wirelessly print and stream music and video to connected devices. Mac users need Mac OS X 10.6.5 to share a printer with an iOS device, while Windows users will access a printer through iTunes 10.1.

iOS 4.2 was released to developers as a golden master on Nov. 1. That status implies that the software is finalized and will be identical to the eventual public release.

The software update will bring folders and multitasking to the iPad, along with other features iPhone and iPod touch users have enjoyed since the launch of iOS 4 this past summer. iPhone owners will also gain the ability to have custom text message tones with the latest version of iOS.

A new beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5, Apple’s forthcoming software and maintenance update for Snow Leopard, was issued to developers on Monday. That software is believed to be near-final, as Apple has already been seeding Mac OS X 10.6.6 betas to developers as well.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tests demonstrate much-improved performance of iOS 4.2 on iPhone 3G handset

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

For those of you hanging onto an iPhone 3G and hoping for something good to come out of the new iOS, there may be some good news in store.

Per TiPb, a recent series of tests has shown that the iPhone 3G’s performance is much improved under iOS 4.2:



According to the tests, entering text into Apple’s Notes app was acceptably snappy. Browsing the Web was also noticeably improved, especially scrolling and load times (over Wi-Fi). Some pinch-and-zoom was a bit laggy, but definitely worlds better than iOS 4.0 on a 3G.

Apple was recently hit with a class action lawsuit from California iPhone 3G user Bianca Wofford, who claims that Apple “…knowingly and intentionally released what it called a system software ‘upgrade’ that, in fact, made hundreds of thousands of the Third Generation iPhones (sic) that were exclusively tethered to AT&T data plans ‘useless’ for their intended purpose.”

iOS 4.2 is expected to be released this month with some media outlets citing the launch date as early as today.

Verizon launches ad showcasing iPad, Verizon MiFi unit

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPad, News

In a fairly uncharacteristic move, Apple has allowed its new carrier partner, Verizon, to create its own commercial for the iPad, advertising that the touchscreen tablet can now be bought with a MiFi for on-the-go connectivity.

The new commercial, entitled “Breakaway,” debuted on national TV this week. The largest wireless carrier in the U.S. began selling the Wi-Fi-only iPad, bundled with a 3G MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, late last month.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, take a gander:



According to AppleInsider, the commercial could be a sign of things to come: Verizon is widely expected to begin carrying a CDMA version of Apple’s iPhone starting in January of 2011. That information has been independently confirmed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fortune.

It has been reported that control over the iPhone, including its advertising, was a major point of contention between Verizon and Apple in 2005. The carrier and Apple could not come to a deal, and the device debuted on AT&T’s network in 2007.

But in order to bring the iPhone to Verizon, Apple may be compromising — as evidenced by the iPad commercial. Fortune also reported in October that Verizon’s iPhone is expected to offer special features, like live TV for customers of Verizon’s FiOS cable service.

If you have two cents to throw in on this, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple now offering free laser engraving on iPads sold through apple.com for the holidays

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Date: Tuesday, October 26th, 2010, 04:28
Category: iPad, News

With the holiday shopping season coming up, Apple is now offering free iPad engraving for its online store orders.

Per AppleInsider, the company will allow up to 2 lines of free engraved text on the back of an iPad purchased from Apple.com as an “Apple Online Store exclusive,” confirming a July rumor that Apple would extend its free laser-engraving option from the iPod to the iPad this fall. Custom engraved iPods have been available from the Apple online store for several years.

Customers are given the option to engrave their iPad after selecting an iPad model and any desired accessories from the online store. Engraved iPads are non-returnable, so prospective buyers are cautioned to double-check their spelling.

Also, customers should take note that adding the engraving option currently lengthens the shipping time from “Within 24hrs” to “1-3 business days.”

In preparation for the holiday season, Apple has greatly broadened the retail availability of the iPad. The device will be available for sale at Walmart, Target, AT&T and Verizon stores.

Rumor: Verizon hiring call center workers for possible AT&T launch

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Date: Monday, October 25th, 2010, 17:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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If you’re fed up with your iPhone on AT&T’s network, you might just like this.

Per CNET, Verizon is reportedly hiring hundreds of call center staff through third-party hiring companies, adding to speculation that the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. is preparing to launch the iPhone.

Customer service call center staffing companies Teleperformance and Ryla are looking for thousands of customer service representatives to field calls for a “major wireless cell phone service retailer,” per the article. Posts to the Careerbuilder website as well as the companies’ own websites reveal that the positions will be dedicated to “either a wireless, cell phone, or communications company,” with additional positions offering technical support for “personal computers and portable devices like MP3 players and smartphones.”

One Teleperformance call center in Augusta, Georgia, will double its employees through the hiring campaign. “It is for a major wireless company that we have secured a new line of business, one of our existing clients,” Marcie Ballard, vice president of recruiting for Teleperformance, told the Augusta Chronicle, although she declined to say which provider.

Both companies have prior experience supporting Verizon. Teleperformance also works with Apple, in addition to Verizon Wireless and the other major cell phone carriers in the past, the report notes. Ryla has worked with Verizon for over 10 years, a source told CNET.

While the connection between a flurry of call center recruiting and a Verizon iPhone remains tenuous, the rumor was bolstered by Friday’s news that Verizon had lost more ground to rival AT&T than expected in the third quarter. Third-quarter earnings reports from Verizon and AT&T this week show that Verizon netted 584,000 new monthly-bill paying customers during the quarter, compared to AT&T’s 745,000 additions according to Reuters.

Verizon CFO John Killian told Reuters that Verizon expects to add 550,000 to 600,000 new monthly-bill paying customers in the fourth quarter, less than half of last years’ number. Killian also stressed the importance of converting standard users into smartphone users in order to increase revenue through sales of data plans.

Though Verizon Wireless still holds the No. 1 spot as the largest telecommunications network in the U.S. with 93.2 million subscribers as of October, AT&T is close to overtaking the provider with 92.8 million subscribers of its own.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple field-testing iPhone 4 revision with CDMA support

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 07:16
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s a rumor but it’s an interesting one.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple has begun field testing a new version of the iPhone, prompting continued speculation of an early 2011 launch of a CDMA-compatible iPhone.

Citing a “solid Apple source,” the publication claimed Monday that iPhone model 3,2 has reached the field test phase, while the next-generation “iPhone 5″ has advanced to the Engineering Verification Test stage of the development cycle.

“We have been told that iPhone model 3,2 — what everyone is assuming to be the Verizon (or at least CDMA-compatible) phone — just hit the “AP” testing stage. This is the very last stage before retail release; final hardware, almost final software,” the report noted.

Since Apple uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions and the second number to refer to minor revisions, iPhone model 3,2 should be an updated iPhone 4 rather than a next-generation model. The report speculates that the 3,2 revision could also include a fix for the widely publicized iPhone 4 antenna issue.

BGR’s source asserts that iPhone version 3,2 will contain a SIM card slot, which is generally used only by GSM devices. However, earlier this month, rumors surrounding a Verizon CDMA iPhone implied that Qualcomm could provide Apple with a dual-mode baseband chip that would support both GSM and CDMA networks. In the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile run GSM networks, while Verizon and Sprint use the CDMA standard. China Telecom is also reportedly in talks with Apple over a CDMA iPhone.

The story adds to articles published by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times from early October that a Verizon iPhone is in the works for next year, the much-talked-about rumors of Apple going multi-carrier in the U.S. have gained momentum.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts over $20 billion in sales, $4.31 billion profit for fourth quarter

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Date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 06:56
Category: Finance, News

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Apple on Monday reported a “great fiscal quarter,” citing a quarterly profit of US$4.31 billion, compared to US$2.53 billion for the same period last year. Over the quarter, Apple recored US$20.34 billion in revenue, an increase of nearly 67 percent from the year-ago quarter’s sales figure of US$12.21 billion.

Apple’s earnings of US$4.64 per diluted share handily beat estimates by Wall Street analysts who were expecting the company to report earnings of US$4.06 a share on $18.86 billion in revenue for September quarter.

“We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of the calendar year,” said CEO Steve Jobs in a statement accompanying the earnings. Apple has scheduled a press event for this Wednesday where the company is expected to focus on the Mac.

Per Macworld, Apple executive Peter Oppenheimer credited record iPhone sales, enthusiasm for the iPad, and a new quarterly sales record for Mac sales as the drivers behind Apple’s strong quarterly performance. In particular, Apple sold 4.19 million iPads during the first full quarter of sales for the tablet; all told, the company sold 7.5 million iPads during its 2010 fiscal year.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, Apple recorded US$2.8 billion in sales of iPads and related accessories, with the iPad accounting for US$2.7 billion of that figure. That translates to an average selling price of around US$645 for the tablet, Oppenheimer said.

iPad sales may disappoint some analysts, who were expecting Apple to sell close to 5 million tablets. One of the issues may be with inventory—Apple says it has three-to-four weeks worth of channel inventory, which is below its target range of four-to-six weeks. The company plans to expand its iPad distribution efforts, adding retailers like Verizon, Walmart, Target, and AT&T into the mix as well as launching in additional countries.

As for the iPhone, Apple managed to sell 14.1 million units during the quarter. This marks a 91% increase over the 7.4 million phones sold during the year-ago quarter and a new quarterly record for smartphone sales for the company.

For the 2010 fiscal year, Apple sold 40 million phones, a 93 percent jump over 2009. During September, the company says it passed the 125 million mark for cumulative iOS sales of its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch offerings.

Apple also saw a record quarter for its Mac business. The company sold 3.89 million computers, up 27% from its year-ago sales. Fourth-quarter Mac sales topped the previous high-water mark of 3.47 million mark set during the June quarter. Year-over-year sales growth was more than double the growth rate projected for the overall PC market by research firm IDC, according to Oppenheimer.

Notebooks continue to drive Mac sales, with portable products, accounting for 71% of the Macs sold during the September quarter. However, sales of desktops rose nearly 28% to a little more than 1 million units, on the strength of the company’s iMac and Mac Pro updates over the summer.

Despite the largely positive news, the iPod segment continues to shrink, with Apple selling 9.05 million music players during the quarter (an 11% drop from last year’s figures). Apple updated its iPod line in September, though the company usually sees the fruits of those efforts during the holiday quarter.

While iPod sales growth stalled throughout 2010, Apple opted to focus on the positive Monday. It noted that the iPod’s share of the MP3 player market in the U.S. continues to top 70% according to research firm NPD’s figures. And Apple says its music player gained market share internationally from the year-ago quarter. The company also reported that its iTune Store brought in more than US$1 billion in revenue for the September quarter.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs took a minute during the conference call to comment on the company’s “hobby” product, the Apple TV, announcing that it had moved more than 250,000 units since the device went on sale. That’s the first time the company has ever revealed sales information for the device, which has gone through a number of iterations since its original introduction in 2007. Jobs confirmed that Apple had moved to an all-streaming model for content for the device, which will allow streaming of media from iOS devices in November when Apple ships iOS 4.2.

Apple’s retail segment had what Oppenheimer called a “record-breaking quarter,” with revenue rising 75% to US$3.57 billion. Apple sold 874,000 Macs through its retail arm, an increase of 30% from the year-ago quarter. The company sales that half of the Macs sold through its brick-and-mortar outlets continue to be to customers who are new to the platform.

Apple ended the fourth quarter with 317 stores, 84 of which were outside the U.S. The company opened 24 new stores during the quarter, with 16 of those opening outside of U.S. borders. In fact, with new store openings in Spain, Apple now has retail outlets in 11 countries.

The company also stated that it plans to open 40 to 50 stores during the coming fiscal year, with half of those slated for outside the U.S. The company also plans to start renovating several of its U.S. stores during 2011.

Monday’s earnings report closes the book on Apple’s 2010 fiscal year, which saw the company record US$65.2 billion in sales, a 52% increase from the US$42.9 billion in revenue recorded in 2009. Apple turned a US$14 billion profit in 2010, an increase of 72% from the previous year.

“The September quarter was the culmination of a monumental year for Apple,” Oppenheimer said.

iPad to hit Verizon retail outlets on October 28th

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Date: Friday, October 15th, 2010, 05:11
Category: iPad, News, retail

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A few major changes may be coming to fruition as wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon announced Thursday that they will begin selling Apple’s iPad in their brick-and-mortar retail stores on Thursday, October 28th, with the latter offering the device in conjunction with its MiFi mobile hot spots.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T said all three iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available at more than 2,200 AT&T Stores starting October 28th. The wireless operator said it will be pitching the tablets alongside its 3G pre-paid data plans complete with Apple’s easy on-device activation and management.

Plans start at US$14.99 per month for 250MB and US$25 per month for 2GB with no term contract. Both plans include unlimited access to AT&T’s 23,000+ domestic Wi-Fi Hot Spots. The iPads themselves will sell for Apple’s suggested retail price of US$629 for the 16GB model, US$729 for the 32GB and US$829 for the 64GB.

For its part, Verizon will offer only the WiFi versions of the iPad, bundling them with its Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot routers for a suggested retail price of US$629.99 for iPad Wi-Fi 16GB + MiFi, US$729.99 for iPad Wi-Fi 32GB + MiFi and US$829.99 for iPad Wi-Fi 64GB + MiFi.

Verizon is offering a monthly access plan to iPad customers of up to 1GB of data for US$20 a month. In addition, the carrier will also offer all three iPad Wi-Fi models on a stand-alone basis.

Verizon’s MiFi 2200 unit allows users to create a personal Wi-Fi cloud capable of sharing the high-speed Internet connectivity of the Verizon Wireless 3G Mobile Broadband network with up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The MiFi 2200’s rechargeable battery provides up to four hours of active use and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.