Apple, China Mobile Apparently Reach Terms Regarding Chinese iPhone Marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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After about two years of negotiation, wireless carrier has allegedly landed a three-year contract for the exclusive rights to local iPhone distribution, according to MacNN and a Shanghai Securities News report. The deal, described by unnamed sources, is said to extend for three years and guarantees annual sales of 1 million to 2 million units.
Apple recently acknowledged that bringing the iPhone into the Chinese market held a top priority. The recent report suggests the potential carriers could not come to agree on revenue sharing terms. Soon after the first iPhone was released, sources claimed AT&T was paying between US$150 to US$200 per purchased phone and an additional US$9 for each month of the standard two-year duration of a customer subscription.

Beijing reportedly objected to the idea of revenue sharing, although the carrier has agreed to purchase the devices for 3,000 yuan (~US$439 USD) each. The terms also mandate a minimum overall revenue of at least 5 billion yuan (~US$732 million USD) every year.

China Mobile, with a much larger subscriber base than China Unicom, was also involved in negotiations for the iPhone.

The Chinese iPhone is expected to be customized for the local market, although specific details remain unconfirmed. An anonymous source recently claimed that component provider Foxconn has already begun mass production. The device is said to keep 3G and Bluetooth, while omitting Wi-Fi to comply with local regulations.

Finally, Agence France-Presse has quoted a Unicom spokesman as saying that while the carrier is close to a deal, there are still problems to be negotiated. “Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations,” according to the spokesman. He adds that proper negotiations with Apple began in January, when the Chinese government began issuing 3G licenses.

Apple Facing Constrained iPhone Supplies, Could Delay Some Overseas Launches

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Date: Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, 04:10
Category: iPhone 3GS

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After selling 5.2 million iPhones in fiscal Q3, including a million units that sold in the first three days, Apple has announced being “unable to make enough 3GSs to meet demand.”

According to AppleInsider, voracious demand for the latest iPhone has helped restrict it to 18 launch countries out of the 80 where Apple currently sells iPhones. With demand for the new iPhone 3GS far outpacing supply, Apple COO Tim Cook admitted that limited stock could briefly delay the planned launch of the new iPhone in more countries overseas.

Cook said Apple expects to have the iPhone 3GS available in most nations where the iPhone 3G is currently available by the end of the September quarter and said channel iPhone inventory was flat sequentially in comparison with the last quarter and that the “channel is not loaded.” He then went on to admit that with demand for the iPhone 3GS currently very high, it’s possible that some overseas launches could be delayed. “In terms of affecting the country rollout, I believe the vast majority of the countries that we are selling the 3G in we will be selling the 3GS I think by the end of the fiscal quarter,” he said. “It may move a date by a few weeks here or there.”

The company also hopes to continue to expand its reach. “The world has more than 80 countries,” Cook said. During a question and answer session, Cook was asked about Apple’s plans to enter China with the iPhone. “Nothing to add today specifically,” Cook answered, “other than it continues to be a priority project and we hope to be there within a year.”

Cook also said wireless carriers worldwide are thrilled by the lower churn rate the iPhone delivers, helping them to retain loyal customers. When asked about other products Apple might tie to providers’ wireless contracts, such as notebook and netbook sales, Cook said the company was currently focused on working with carriers on the iPhone and had nothing else to announce.

With regards to AT&T specifically, Cook said Apple has an excellent relationship with the mobile provider and is very happy with it. When asked about phone sales being constrained by AT&T’s network capacity, Cook deferred the question to AT&T itself, but noted that providers were making more investments in their networks to meet consumer demand.

Cook also said that Apple had initially studied the wireless market and determined that “what we could do really well is build hardware” with features that were “revolutionary,” leaving the service side to companies with more skills in networks. “that’s their business and they’re quite good at it,” Cook said.

T-Mobile, Orange May be Arranging to Sell iPhones to UK Marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 14th, 2009, 04:56
Category: News

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Across the pond, wireless carrier O2′s exclusivity deal within the UK marketplace may be coming to an end within the next few months. According to MacNN, competitor T-Mobile stated that it’s already in negotiation with Apple and could begin carrying the iPhone 3G within a matter of months. The iPhone 3GS has not been mentioned by T-Mobile so far, nor is it said to have been brought up by Orange, also rumored to be pushing for UK sales.

Like the United States, the UK has had only one official iPhone carrier since 2007, in spite of an increasing number of foreign countries hosting multiple carriers. The existence of competitive iPhone providers is thought to be beneficial to both Apple and the public, driving down prices and forcing carriers to bend to Apple’s restrictions. For carriers however the open market can hurt profit margins, and invalidate millions in currency paid to secure exclusive rights.

Multiple US carriers may not arrive until at least 2011, when LTE (4G) networks are slated to go live through AT&T and Verizon.

iPhone 3GS Upload Speeds Peak at 384 Kbps

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 03:23
Category: iPhone 3GS

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The cat may be out of the bag as a recent Macworld article points out that while Apple’s recently-released iPhone 3GS is capable of much faster download speeds than the previous generations, its upload speeds could stand to see some improvement. While the handset boasts a 7.2 Mbps HSDPA downstream, which is twice the iPhone 3G’s 3.6 Mbps HSDPA speed, it was assumed that Apple would also be increasing upstream speeds by finally adding HSUPA, bringing upload speeds to either 1.4 or 1.9 Mbps.

A recent RapidRepair teardown revealed this not to be the case. When the group cracked open their iPhone 3GS, they found that it still only had a UMTS/HSDPA chip. While it had increased HSDPA speeds, it only supported UMTS, the earliest 3G upload protocol in the U.S., which is only capable of peak speeds of 384 Kbps.

While download speeds with the 3GS are quite a bit faster (or will be in the U.S. when AT&T finishes their 7.2 network), upload speeds remain comparatively slow.

Mild iPhone 3GS Shortage Reported Models Across Apple Retail Networks

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Date: Monday, June 29th, 2009, 04:11
Category: iPhone 3GS, retail

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Apple’s retail store chain reported shortages of some models of the company’s recently released iPhone 3GS handset on Sunday. According to Macworld UK, the company’s own inventory tracking tool showed a milder repeat of last summer, when Apple’s stores quickly exhausted supplies of the then-new iPhone 3G, a situation that persisted for several weeks until the company could refill the pipeline.

On Sunday, Apple’s stock-checking tool indicated that 13 of the 211 stores in the US, or 6% of the total, were completely out of the iPhone 3GS.

Another 31 stores, or 15%, had only one of the four models for sale.

The hardest-to-find iPhone 3GS was the US$199 white 16GB model, which was out of stock in 121 stores, or 57% of the locations. Supplies of the US$299 32GB black iPhone 3GS were also short, as 84 stores, or 40% of the total, reported it unavailable.

Customers on Sunday were most likely to find the US$199 black 16GB iPhone 3GS and the US$299 white 32GB model in stock, as only 23% of the stores reported being out of either of those configurations.

The iPhone 3GS has been available since June 19, but Apple only recently re-activated the inventory tool. Last summer, users were told to use the tool after 9 pm local time each day to check availability for the next day. This year, there is no such instruction, since the tool has been changed to offer better information.

“You can check the most up-to-date availability right here,” said Apple on the tool’s Web page. “Shipments of iPhone 3GS arrive most days and availability is updated hourly.”

All stores currently have the US$99 8GB iPhone 3G in stock, Apple added.

AT&T, which last year also ran through its inventory soon after the iPhone 3G’s July launch, and took much longer to restock, has some spot shortages in its 2,200 retail stores as well. The carrier, however, was vague about the extent of the problem.

“There are AT&T stores that do not currently carry iPhone,” AT&T said in an message accompanying its online store finder. The remainder of the text was identical to last year: “This store locator is made specifically for finding iPhone at an AT&T store. It does not, however guarantee that there will be iPhones in stock at the particular store at this time. To make sure iPhone is at the store closest to you, call that store’s number.”

Best Buy and Wal-Mart are selling the 3GS handset as well. However, neither sells the iPhone online or offers any information about availability online. Instead, customers must call or visit a brick-and-mortar store to see whether the smartphone is in stock.

Prior to the June 19 launch, AT&T and Best Buy said that they had exhausted their pre-order supplies of the iPhone 3GS.

Apple Offers $30 iTunes Store Gift Certificates to Smooth Over iPhone 3G S Activation Delays

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 22nd, 2009, 09:10
Category: iPhone 3GS, News

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For iPhone 3G S customers experiencing delays activating their new units, Apple may be lending a hand.

According to CNET, Apple began notifying affected customers via e-mail on Sunday that they may experience additional delays for another two days due to “system issues” and “high activation volumes,” according to readers in various blogs who claim to have received the e-mail. The problems began immediately after the new iPhone’s launch Friday.

As a way of apology for the delays, the same e-mail said Apple plans to offer customers a US$30 credit iTunes Store credit for “the inconvenience this delay has caused.”

Here’s the entire text of the e-mail:

Dear Apple Customer,
Thank you for your recent Apple Store order. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused by the delay in your iPhone activation.

We are still resolving the issue that was encountered while activating your iPhone with AT&T. Unfortunately, due to system issues and continued high activation volumes, this could take us up to an additional 48 hours to complete.

On Monday, you’ll receive an email from Apple with an iTunes Store credit in the amount of $30. We hope you will enjoy this gift and accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this delay has caused.

Thank you for choosing Apple.

Sincerely,
Apple Online Store Team

Apple representatives have yet to comment on this.

iPhone OS 3.0 to Hit Today

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009, 08:14
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

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Per CNET, current iPhone owners will be able to download the software from iTunes for free while iPod touch users will have to pay a US$9.95 fee for it.

Though its exact release time is currently unknown, iPhone OS 3.0 will offer features such as multimedia messaging (to be supported by AT&T later this summer), voice recording, buying and renting movies and TV shows over the air, full system search, tethering and push notifications.

The update will be available through iTunes and users are advised to hook their handhelds to their Mac or PC later today, mount the device in iTunes and click the “Check for Update” button to download and install iPhone OS 3.0.

Apple has also bundled in some extras, like landscape virtual keyboard for certain apps, more extensive parental controls, in-app purchasing, and a feature for MobileMe customers called Find My Phone.

There will also be stereo Bluetooth available, as well as the capability to create applications specifically for interfacing with third-party hardware.

The new iPhone 3G S is scheduled to hit stores such as the Apple Store retail locations, Best Buy and the AT&T stores Friday morning.

AT&T States Data Pricing to Hold Steady, Faces More Competitive Marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 16th, 2009, 18:05
Category: iPhone

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Data pricing plans look to hold steady for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S handsets in the near future per an article in the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve been very happy with our pricing,” said AT&T spokesman Mark Segal, who went on to mention the average monthly bill for an iPhone user was within US$90 to US$100. The article went on to suggest that AT&T could charge an additional US$10 to US$40 per month for MMS and tethering featured on the new iPhone 3G S. AT&T is currently facing pressure to offer lower priced data plans by both consumers facing the financial crunch and competitors setting aggressive data pricing.

Last month, AT&T’s wireless chief Ralph de la Vega stated that the company was considering a lower tier of pricing plans. These packages would include limits over the amount of time spent on the Internet or the number of applications that could be wirelessly downloaded.

Sprint Nextel has said its Palm Pre data plans cost US$600 less per year than AT&T, while Verizon wireless offers an unlimited data plan for US$70 per month. AT&T offers a similar plan, charging an additional US$5 for text messages.

AT&T could lose money if it does decrease its data plan pricing, as users commonly purchase unlimited data plans which AT&T then must pay to transfer across the network. The company must also must pay hundreds of dollars in subsidies to Apple in order to maintain iPhone exclusivity. In addition, current upgrades being installed to double the network speed for the iPhone 3G S have raised costs even further for AT&T.

Best Buy to Offer iPhone 3G S Accident Insurance Plan

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Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:34
Category: iPhone

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For those of you planning to snag a new iPhone 3G S unit from Best Buy, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase the chain’s rare (and somewhat pricey) accident insurance plan. According to AppleInsider, Best Buy stores nationwide on Friday will begin selling the next-generation Apple handset on launch day, albeit at the big-box retailer’s usual 10 a.m. opening time instead of the early hours both Apple and AT&T promise.

In contrast to these more direct channels, however, Best Buy plans to continue offering Geek Squad’s Black Tie Protection service with the new iPhone, people familiar with the plans say.

While Apple has never offered more than a standard two-year extended AppleCare warranty and AT&T has specifically exempted the iPhone from its insurance offerings, the Black Tie plan covers regular technical problems as well as drops, spills and other failures that would normally require a costly repair service or the purchase of an entirely new device.

Under Best Buy’s offering, any instance in which the phone can’t be fixed or replaced on the spot will see those customers offered a temporary phone until the repair or replacement is ready within three days or less. Battery replacements aren’t as likely due to Apple’s sealed-up design, but the company vows anti-lemon protection for devices that have to be brought in four times due defects.

Opting for Black Tie will reportedly still be expensive. For other cellphones, the program costs between US$7 and US$10 per month depending on the model, but the iPhone’s rate rises to US$15 per month, leaving iPhone owners paying about US$180 per year.

Sources close to the story say the added cost of iPhone protection comes from the heavy subsidies attached to Apple’s products. Since the actual, retail price of a phone without a contract is between US$599 and US$699, it becomes prohibitively expensive to offer Black Tie when customers may use it more than once.

Rumor: AT&T iPhone 3G S Pre-Order Stock Reportedly Sold Out

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Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:44
Category: Rumor

Per a document received over on Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly sold out of its iPhone 3G S pre-order stock. A new memo sent along to retail locations provides instructions to tell all customers who pre-order the device on Saturday, June 13th or later that they will have to wait “7-10″ days before they can fulfill the pre-order–which will be sometime after the official launch on June 19th: “Only preorders placed [on] Friday, June 12, 2009 or earlier are expected to arrive in time for the 7:00 a.am. opening on Friday, June 19th, 2009. Customers will receive an email notification when their new iPhone 3G S has arrived and is available for pickup.”

The article also notes that AT&T retail locations, which open early on Friday, will have some stock for those willing to wait in line to make the purchase. AT&T, however, is encouraging customers to continue using the pre-order process as it will “guarantee that they receive their iPhone 3G S as quickly as possible.”