Apple unveils updated retail experience, introduces interactive iPad displays

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, retail

applelogo_silver

There were rumblings that Apple was doing something for its 10th retail anniversary.

And they apparently did.

Per Mac Prices Australia, Apple retail stores have taken the wraps off Apple’s new retail upgrade, which makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

Apple launched “Retail 2.0″ on Sunday morning in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Apple retail stores. The company opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001, in McLean, Virginia and Glendale, Calif.

According to the report, the main change is the addition of stationary iPads placed next to other Apple products in order to display product prices, information and features. The touchscreen tablets can also be used to compare models and ask for help from a specialist. Photos of the new iPad display units reveal that the devices are placed in plexiglass.

The iPads appear to be running a custom software application, as customers report that pressing the home button on the tablets does nothing. Though the power cable for the device does not appear to connect to the dock, one person familiar with the matter said the cable is indeed connected to the dock connector, but is “very well hidden.” Also, detaching the cable will reportedly activate an alarm.

Some reports also suggested that Apple retail employees were wearing party hats to celebrate the occasion. Customers reported via Twitter that the Apple store updates created a “totally new experience.”

Apple had been reported as stockpiling iPads in preparation for a retail overhaul, the new in-house iPads having been slated for use with an updated version of RetailMe, Apple’s proprietary retail software.

Apple reportedly scheduled overnight shifts for retail employees in preparation for the updates to the Apple store. The company had blocked employees from taking vacation from May 20 to May 22. Mandatory meetings have been scheduled on Sunday morning and evening for Apple retail staff.

Apple has also taken offline the Order Status page from its website until Sunday, May 22 in order to perform a system update.

A recent report claimed Apple will update its “Apple Store” retail app for iOS this weekend, adding full build-to-order purchasing options to the application. Apple first released the retail app last year with support for stock configuration orders.

If you’ve wandered into an Apple Store location since the overhaul this weekend and have anything to report, let us know.

Analyst: iPad 2 constraints easing, supply improving

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:41
Category: iPad, News

In spite of the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami back in March, iPad 2 production restraints that affected Apple last quarter are said to have “significantly improved,” allowing for improved availability of the tablet.

According to AppleInsider, Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said Friday that Apple has found better yields in iPad 2 production through retooling and conversion of more overseas production lines. These changes have gone a long way in addressing the supply issues Apple experienced last quarter.

Wu also cautioned that Apple is along way from meeting its internal goals for iPad 2 production. Previous rumors suggested Apple could ship as many as 45 million iPad 2 units this year, though predictions have dropped since Apple’s last quarter fell short of expectations for iPad sales.

“From our understanding, [Apple] still has a ways to hit the [second half] goal of 3-4 million units per month but getting closer,” Wu wrote.

Accordingly, Wu has increased his estimates for iPad sales in the current, third fiscal quarter of 2011 for Apple. He now sees the company selling 6.8 million iPads, up from his previous prediction of 5.9 million.

Wu also increased his estimated iPhone sales to 17 million, up from 16 million. He said iPhone demand appears to be holding up better than expected, thanks to strong adoption of the white iPhone 4 and strong sales on Verizon.

Wu also increased his projected Mac sales to 3.9 million from the quarter, up from 3.83 million. He is also assuming a new, higher gross margin of 39%, increased from 38.3%, due to improved iPad yields and higher iPhone sales.

Finally, he’s also increased Sterne Agee’s 12-month price target for AAPL stock to $460, up from the previous prediction of US$445.

So, if you want an iPad 2, odds are the one you want should be available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone dev team releases untethered jailbreak for iOS 4.3.3

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 03:33
Category: iPhone, News, Software

For those of you who don’t mind living on the edge, you can now do it a bit more sensibly with your iPhone.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, jailbreakers hesitant to update to iOS 4.3.3 can now do so without losing their ability to jailbreak. The iPhone dev team confirmed iOS 4.3.3 is still vulnerable to the untethered jailbreak exploit that @i0n1c created for 4.3.1. Released earlier this week, this version of iOS fixes the location bug that made headlines a few weeks ago.

Both the group’s PwnageTool and redsn0w have been updated and will jailbreak iOS 4.3.3 devices including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod touch 3G, iPod touch 4G, iPad1 and AppleTV 2G (v4.3;8F202). Unfortunately, the iPad 2 is not yet supported and its jailbreak is still under development.

Head over to the dev team’s blog for more information about this untethered jailbreak. As with all jailbreak attempts, follow the directions carefully and proceed at your own risk…

Sketchbook Pro Updated to 2.0

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 17:11
Category: iPad, News, Software

I’m reporting from my iPhone at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco where I am surrounded by incredible examples of design and technology from a number of different categories. My favorite being the 3D television that doesn’t require 3D glasses.

Tonight’s event is to introduce the impending release of Sketchbook Pro 2.0 which adds a slew of new features, and for the cost conscious, also marks a price decrease from $7.99 to $4.99 (iPad version). So, hold out a few more hours and save $3! And this app is definitely worth it…even at the original price.

Present at the announcement is Jay Shuster, Art Director at Pixar Animation, who used Sketchbook Pro for his development work on Cars 2. I’ll cover a little more after I get a chance to play with the app some more and review the promo materials on this awesome thumb drive.

20110505-064153.jpg

Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 14:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Responding primarily to its recent location tracking controversey, Apple on Wednesday released iOS 4.3.3, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes the following fixes and changes for iOS-based devices:

- Reduces the size of the cache.

- No longer backs the cache up to iTunes.

- Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, the CDMA iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Apple, Time Inc. reach terms on iPad distribution

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 03:04
Category: iPad, News

If you can get the biggest players to sort terms out, the rest will follow.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the U.S., has reached a deal with Apple to allow print subscribers of its titles to download iPad editions for free.

The article reports that Apple and Time have reached a deal, which stands as a vital turning point in the impasse between the iPad maker and publishers over digital subscriptions.

According to the report, the iPad editions of Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune will support subscriber authentication starting Monday. People magazine began supporting free subscriber downloads last year, ahead of other titles from the publisher.

The deal has reportedly gone through in spite of an executive shakeup occurring at the company. In February, parent company Time Warner fired Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin after just six months on the job, citing a clash of management styles as the reason.

According to the report, Time and other major publishers have not reached a deal for selling digital subscriptions to the iPad editions of their magazines. Publishers are reportedly hung up on Apple’s insistence that the practice of forwarding subscriber information to publishers operate on an opt-in basis.

Maurice Edelson, general counsel for Time, told the Journal that the company’s executives have held frequent meetings with Apple executives, including Eddy Cue, vice president of Internet services. The Time executives “say the latest deal to make iPad editions free for print subscribers is a sign the two sides are moving closer,” according to the report.

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that publishers such as Time Inc., Conde Nast and Hearst were frustrated with delays to Apple’s then-forthcoming application subscription feature for the App Store. At the time, people close to the company’s discussion said that Time had yet to strike a deal with Apple.

Apple sparked a controversy in February when it revealed that it would take a 30% share of income generated from in-app subscriptions to an App Store app. In addition, publishers must match or better prices from subscriptions offered outside of the app and are not allowed to link to out-of-app purchases.

In response to the news, one subscription service called the terms “economically untenable,” while one developer called Apple’s new rules “a huge dick move.” The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is in the preliminary stage of looking into the terms of Apple’s App Store subscriptions.

However, not all publishers are dissatisfied with Apple’s terms. Bloomberg announced a US$2.99 monthly subscription for the Bloomberg BusinessWeek app in April, adding that the company was “pleased with Apple’s terms.”

“iPad is the most important place to be right now, and that’s where we’re focused,” said Bloomberg mobile head Oke Okaro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO releases Go App for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 29th, 2011, 15:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

It’s been promised for a while and it’s finally here.

Per Macworld, The HBO cable network has released its long-awaited iOS client Go app for iPhone and iPad. The app brings both HBO original series as well as hit movies to Apple’s iOS devices, but there is a catch: Unless you’re already an HBO subscriber with a participating television provider, you’re out of luck.

In addition to currently airing programs like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and True Blood, HBO Go also provides access to a backlog of older programs, like Deadwood, The Wire, and the recently concluded Big Love. In addition, there’s access to bonus features and behind-the-scenes extras, and the app supports video over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections, so users can access their favorite shows from any location. A customizable Watchlist feature lets you mark programs you want to view later, and you can set up a Series Pass to automatically populate it with shows you’re following.

Of course, those looking to follow HBO’s series without subscribing to the preimum channel are still stuck. The network doesn’t provide à la carte access via its app (or its Web-based streaming service), and as its shows aren’t available in the iTunes Store while airing, you’re pretty much consigned to wait until the season is over—unless you want to pony up for an HBO subscription.

The HBO Go app requires a device running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

Apple releases iBooks 1.2.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 22nd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released a minor update to its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.2.2 includes “a number of important stability and performance improvements” for playing video with enhanced books from the iBookstore, incorrect fonts being displayed, and navigational responsiveness.

The new version’s fixes and changes include the following:
- Addresses issues playing video included with enhanced books from the iBookstore.

- Resolves a problem where some books open with a different font than expected.

- Makes iBooks more responsive when navigating books with many items in their table of contents.

iBooks requires an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

iPad 2 ship times drop to 1-2 weeks in some locations

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 21st, 2011, 04:52
Category: iPad, News

If you wanted an iPad 2 but were waiting for it, the wait time just got shorter.

Per AppleInsider, new iPad 2 orders placed through Apple’s online store are now estimated to ship within one to two weeks, as availability of the popular touchscreen tablet continues to improve.

Shipping times of one to two weeks are not just limited to America. Other countries, including Canada, Mexico and Australia, also ship in the same timeframe. Apple’s online stores in Europe, however, still estimate a wait of two to three weeks.

The improved shipping times are yet another sign that supply for the iPad 2 is catching up with demand. Since the device launched in the U.S. and 25 other countries around the world in March, Apple has seen huge demand for the second-generation device.

Wednesday’s change to shipping times comes weeks after they improved to two to three weeks in early April. Prior to that, new buyers had to wait over a month for their iPad 2 to ship from Apple.

The improved shipping times also come as Apple has expanded retail availability of the iPad 2. On Sunday, some Toys R Us locations in the U.S. began selling Apple’s tablet, and in late March, the iPad 2 went on sale at 500 stores owned by RadioShack.

This month, the iPad 2 is scheduled to launch in Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, as well as additional yet-unnamed countries. Like retail availability in the U.S., international expansion of the iPad 2 has occurred at a much faster pace than with the first-generation iPad.

If you’ve seen your iPad 2 ship time improve, please let us know.

Apple reports $24.67 billion in revenue, $5.99 billion profit for second quarter

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, 15:05
Category: Finance, News

applelogo_silver

As irked as you may be with Apple from time to time, there’s no doubting this: the company makes a profit and is around for the long haul.

Per Macworld, Apple announced the results of its second fiscal quarter, citing sales of US$24.67 billion and a net profit of US$5.99 billion, according to figures announced by the company Wednesday.

The company’s quarterly revenue, a record figure for the second quarter, beat year-ago sales by 83%. Profits also set a record for the quarter, and improved 95% over the US$3.07 billion in profit the company tallied in the 2010 second quarter.

Apple earned US$6.40 per share, beating last year’s second-quarter earnings of US$3.33 per share by 92%. Apple’s performance also blew away analyst estimates. Analysts were looking for the company to report US$23.34 billion in revenue and earnings of US$5.36 per share for the quarter.

During the conference call, Apple stated that it had sold 18.65 million iPhones during the quarter, which ended March 26. This figure represents an increase of 113% from the 8.75 million phones Apple sold over the same period last year. The company recorded recognized revenue of US$12.3 billion in the just-completed quarter, an increase of 126%.

All told, Apple ended its fiscal second quarter with the iPhone available in 90 countries through 186 carriers, compared to 185 carriers in 90 countries at the end of the first quarter; Apple Chief Financial Office Peter Oppenheimer noted that there had been some carrier contraction during the last three months that offset the addition of new partners such as Verizon in the U.S., SK Telecom in South Korea, and Saudi Telecom in Saudi Arabia.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs during the second quarter, an increase of 28% over the 2.9 million Macs sold during the year-ago period. That set a record for Mac sales during the March quarter, Oppenheimer said. In particular, Mac sales compared favorably with the overall PC market, which contracted at a rate of 3% during the quarter, according to figures from IDC. That marks the twentieth consecutive quarter that Apple has outgrown the PC market, although sales numbers were below those posted by Apple for the last two quarters.

Notebooks continue to be the big driver for Mac sales, with the 2.7 million portables making up 73% of the Macs sold during the quarter. In addition to the February revamp of the MacBook Pro line, Apple also reaped the benefits of last year’s MacBook Air updates. The 1 million desktops sold were only more than during one of the last five quarters.

Apple also made notable gains internationally with Macs, seeing 76% growth in the Asia Pacific region on a year-over-year basis.

The iPad 2 shipped at the end of the quarter, on March 11 in the U.S. and on March 25 in 25 additional countries, which helped spur sales of Apple’s tablet. All told, Apple sold 4.69 million iPads during the quarter, though it didn’t break down those sales between the iPad 2 and the original model. In total, Apple has sold 19.48 million iPads since the product was released in April 2010.

Unfortunately, iPod sales continued their decline, though Apple says that the product line’s performance was ahead of expectations. The company sold 9.02 million iPods during the quarter, a drop of 17% from last year’s second-quarter figures. More than half of the iPods sold during the quarter were the iPod touch, according to Apple’s figures.

Despite that decline, Oppenheimer said that the total iPod sales were ahead of Apple’s expectation, and that the iPod remains the top-selling MP3 player in most of the countries where that data is tracked, and continues to hold onto its market-leading position in the U.S.

Apple found a silver lining in the performance of its iTunes online business, however. That segment tallied US$1.1 billion in revenues, its best quarter ever, according to Oppenheimer.

With Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail outlets approaching their 10th anniversary next month, Oppenheimer noted that the retail chains should see their 1 billionth visitor in a matter of days. During the second quarter, 71.1 million people visited the app store, up from 47 million visitors in the 2010 second quarter.

Revenue from the retail stores grew 90% to US$3.19 billion. Apple says it sold 797,000 Macs through its retail outlets, an increase of 32% from last year. About half of the Macs sold at the Apple Store were to newly minted Mac users.

Apple still plans to open 40 new stores during the 2011 fiscal year, with two-thirds of those outlets opening outside of the U.S. That includes a fifth Apple Store in China.

For the third quarter ending in June, Apple expects revenue of about US$23 billion and earnings per share of US$5.03. That compares to US$15.7 billion in revenue and earnings of US$3.51 a share for the third quarter of 2010. Prior to Wednesday’s call, analysts were looking for sales of US$23.8 billion and earnings of US$5.25 per share for the June quarter.