iFixit posts results of iPad 3G teardown, finds changes to antenna structures

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Date: Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 04:22
Category: iPad, News

If a new Apple product comes out, you tear it apart and report the findings.

The cool cats at iFixit did exactly this by performing a full teardown of Apple’s newly-released iPad 3G tablet, which went on sale in the U.S. on Friday. Per the report, the following discoveries were made:

- The immediate visible difference is the inclusion of a black plastic RF window on top of the iPad for better antenna reception.

- The black RF window significantly changes the opening procedure. You cannot start separating the display using the notches on the top (à la the Wi-Fi version), since that will undoubtedly break the RF window. You have to start from the right side and gingerly proceed to the top and bottom of the iPad.

- There are actually FIVE antennas in this iPad.

- Two antennas handle the cell reception — one is in the RF window on top, the other attaches to the LCD frame.

- A single GPS antenna is also housed in the RF window on top.

- Just like the iPad Wi-Fi, there are two antennas that handle Wi-Fi / Bluetooth connectivity, one in the Apple logo and another to the left of the dock connector.

- Apple looks to be using the entire LCD frame as an antenna. This approach draws parallels the company’s decision to also mount a wireless antenna to the frame of the optical drive on its new MacBook Pro notebooks.

- Apple uses the same 3G baseband processor in both the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 3G.

- The baseband processor in question is the Infineon 337S3754 PMB 8878 X-Gold IC. It was actually white-labeled on the production unit, but with enough sleuthing iFixIt was able to confirm its true identity.

- The iPad 3G has a Broadcom BCM4750UBG Single-Chip AGPS Solution, whereas the iPhone 3GS uses an Infineon Hammerhead II package.

- Apple did not change any major suppliers between manufacturing the pre-production unit they provided the FCC and their final production run.

Analyst: Apple reportedly sells 300,000 iPad 3G units over launch weekend

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Date: Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 03:29
Category: iPad, News

Following checks with 50 Apple retail store locations, analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray issued a note to investors on Sunday declaring that Apple had sold about 300,000 iPad 3G units, complete with preorder sales.

Checks with 50 Apple retail stores have led one prominent analyst to predict Apple sold about 300,000 iPad 3G units, including preorders, over the device’s first weekend of sales. If correct, Munster’s assumption would have the iPad 3G sell as many units in its first weekend as the Wi-Fi-only iPad sold on its first day in early April.

Per AppleInsider, Munster said supply was limited on launch weekend, with 49 of 50 stores surveyed sold out of the iPad 3G by Sunday. The analyst said he now believes Apple has sold more than 1 million iPads, which suggests his previous estimate of 1.3 million sales in the June quarter may be conservative.

The launch of the 3G-compatible iPad also helped sales of Wi-Fi-only iPads, with those models sold out at most Apple retail locations as well. Munster said he believes the sellouts are due to stronger-than-expected demand and lower-than-intended supply.

“Near-term, this may put downward pressure on launch day/weekend statistics, but long-term we see it as a positive, as consumers are definitely interested in the iPad as a new category,” Munster wrote. “In the first several quarters, we believe Apple will sell about 60% wi-fi only iPads and 40% 3G models.”

Though he admitted his estimate of 1.3 million sales for the quarter is likely conservative, Munster has not revised his estimate, citing uncertainty surrounding the 3G and international launches. Strong demand and short supply forced Apple to delay the launch of the iPad overseas until late May.

Retail checks after the Wi-Fi-only iPad’s first day of sales in early April inspired the analyst to increase his forecast of first-day sales to between 600,000 and 700,000. That estimate proved to be too aggressive, as Apple quickly announced it had sold 300,000 on the device’s first day, and topped 500,000 by the end of its first week.

Munster later conceded that he was too optimistic in his estimates, and revised his total 2010 iPad sales forecast to 4.3 million. The analyst continues to believe that Apple’s latest product will be a success with strong consumer demand.

Customers who preordered Apple’s iPad received theirs in the mail on Friday, while Apple’s U.S. retail stores began selling the device at 5 p.m. on Friday. The 3G iPad models carry a US$130 premium over their Wi-Fi-only counterparts, and offer no-contract data plans with the AT&T 3G network. The 16GB iPad 3G model retails for US$629, the 32GB capacity for US$729, and the high-end 64GB offering for US$829.

Apple purchased of chip maker Intrinsity confirmed

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Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, 03:32
Category: News, Processors

Late Tuesday, the New York Times confirmed a rumor that Apple had purchased Intrinsity, a privately owned ARM chip design firm.

Citing “people familiar with the deal,” the report also included an estimated US$121 million purchase price, provided by Tom R. Halfill, an analyst with Microprocessor Report.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling indirectly confirmed the purchase, stating that the the hardware maker “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.” However, he added that Apple does not reveal “purpose or plans” with any acquisition.

Sources close to the story also confirmed to the Times that Intrinsity helped to design the custom A4 processor found in the recently released iPad. Weeks ago, one analyst suggested that only Intrinsity could have delivered the A4 processor with its snappy 1GHz clock speed. The Cortex-A8 reference design on which the A4 is based can only be clocked up to 650MHz.

In early April, rumors first surfaced that Apple purchased Intrinsity to help build the A4 chip. Evidence to support the acquisition surfaced when a number of Intrinsity employees changed their company status on LinkedIn to Apple on the first of the month.

The purchase follows similar acquisitions and in 2008, Apple also bought fabless chip designer P.A. Semi for US$278 million in 2008.

Apple also bought a 3% stake in 2008 in Imagination Technologies, maker of the PowerVR mobile graphics chip found in the company’s mobile devices, including the iPhone. Last year, Apple bumped its share to 9.5%. In addition to partnering with Apple, Imagination also competes with ARM Holdings, which makes the reference designs for chips that power the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Israel lifts ban, allows iPads into the country

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Date: Monday, April 26th, 2010, 05:26
Category: iPad, News

On Sunday, the nation of Israel lifted a customs ban and began accepting imports of Apple’s iPad into the country. Per Reuters, the country noted that it had confiscated 20 iPads since the ban went into place that would be returned to their owners.

The tablet was put on hold for import into the country pending concerns that its wireless communication protocol would interfere with other wireless devices.

“Following the completion of intensive technical scrutiny, Israel Minister of Communications Moshe Kakhlon approved the import of (the) iPad to Israel,” the Communications Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said its technical team in the past week consulted with Apple Inc, a recognized international laboratory and European counterparts and determined the device could be operated in Israel according to locally followed standards.

The tests proved the device identifies the Wi-fi access point in its surroundings and adjusts itself automatically, enabling the iPad to be operated without interfering with other wireless devices, the ministry said.

Last year, Israel’s security practices came under scrutiny when an American traveling to Jerusalem had three bullets shot through her MacBook. The woman was reportedly compensated for the loss.

It’s unknown as to whether the nation’s security forces will be scared of your iPad and attempt to shoot it, so it’s better to be polite to them at the airport.

Apple opens up video decoding APIs to Adobe, other developers

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Date: Monday, April 26th, 2010, 04:36
Category: News, Software

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Sometimes a well-publicized conflict between two large companies can actually lead to something good. Per Macworld, Apple has released information on how third-party developers can take advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics, a previously unavailable feature that’s been blamed for Flash’s poor performance on the Mac platform.

Traditionally, Flash hasn’t performed nearly as well on Mac OS X as it has on Windows, especially when it comes to video playback despite the fact that these days both platforms run on comparably-powerful hardware. Adobe has been adamant thatany performance issues in Flash are the result of Apple not making the necessary video decoding application programming interfaces (APIs) available to developers, thus preventing them from taking advantage of hardware acceleration on Macs that support it.

However, a recently released Apple Technical Note for Mac OS X 10.6.3 details a new Video Decode Acceleration Framework that may help developers. The framework seems to be a relatively simple and straightforward set of APIs to do precisely what Adobe wants: use hardware acceleration to decode raw H.264 video.

“We will be enabling support for hardware accelerated video decoding for Flash Player on Mac,” said Adobe spokesperson Matt Rozen. “Now that the required APIs are available, we are working on an additional Flash Player release to follow shortly after Flash Player 10.1 to include this functionality for the hardware configurations supported by the new APIs.”

Until now, the only way to take advantage of hardware acceleration when decoding video was to use Apple’s QuickTime APIs, which only work with video that is stored in a “traditional” H.264 container, such as an MP4 file. By letting developers use the raw hardware-decoding capabilities of the graphics processors available in many Macs, Apple allows decoding video that is stored in any format, even if it’s not considered “standard.” By communicating directly with the hardware, an application can now decode video regardless of where or how it’s stored.

Unfortunately, the Video Decode Acceleration Framework has its limitations in that it can only take advantage of hardware video decoding with those GPUs that support that functionality. These GPUs include NVIDIA’s GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, or GeForce GT 330M graphics chipsets and, because they require Mac OS X 10.6.3, the new APIs are only available on Intel-based Macs.

Even with these limitations, Apple may be lending Adobe and other developers the access they need to help improve Flash on Mac OS X or even bring it to the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad somewhere down the line…

Amidst harsh words, Adobe cancels Flash port work for iPhone OS

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Date: Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 03:39
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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A lot can change in two week’s time.

Per Mashable, in that span of time, Adobe has gone from touting its technology for building Flash applications that run on the iPhone to canceling future development of that technology.

When Apple altered the terms of its iPhone 4.0 software developer kit license, it effectively blocked Adobe’s move. But in his Tuesday announcement that Adobe will cease future development of the Flash-apps-on-iPhone technology, Mike Chambers, Adobe’s principal product manager for the Flash platform, offered the following quote outlining the conflict between Adobe and Apple:

“As developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for Apple to reject or restrict your development at any time, and for seemingly any reason,” Chambers said. “The primary goal of Flash has always been to enable cross browser, platform and device development. The cool web game that you build can easily be targeted and deployed to multiple platforms and devices. However, this is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms.”

The company also disclosed in a regulatory filing that its business could be harmed if the iPhone and iPad don’t support Adobe technology with one report stating that the company could be considering legal action against Apple, too, according to one report.

Recently, Adobe also gainded an ally in competing against Apple: Google.

“Fortunately, the iPhone isn’t the only game in town. Android based phones have been doing well behind the success of the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, and there are a number of Android based tablets slated to be released this year. We are working closely with Google to bring both Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2.0 to these devices, and thus far, the results have been very promising,” Chambers said.

The upcoming Flash Player 10.1 and related AIR 2.0 programming foundations are currently in private beta testing stages for Android and the software, which is scheduled to arrive this quarter, will work on a variety of other phone operating systems, including Windows Phone 7, the BlackBerry OS, Symbian OS, and Palm’s WebOS.

“I think that the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers, and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote,” Chambers said. “We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked-down platform that Apple is trying to create.”

The Adobe technology for bringing Flash-derived applications to the iPhone is now effectively irrelevant at the very moment when Adobe is bringing it to market in its CS5 product line.

“There is no technical reason that Flash can’t run on the iPhone,” Chambers said.

Apple posts Q2 revenue of $13.5 billion, profit of $3.07 billion

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Date: Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, 15:06
Category: Finance, News

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Delivering its second quarter financial results on Tuesday, Apple announced that the company sold 10.89 million iPods during the quarter (compared to sales of 11.01 million iPods in the year-ago quarter, and down 48% from the previous quarter) and 8.75 million iPhones in the quarter (a 131% increase year-over-year, and up from 8.7 million units in the prior quarter).

Per iLounge, Apple posted revenue of US$13.5 billion and net quarterly profit of US$3.07 billion, or US$3.33 per diluted share, compared with revenue of US$9.08 billion and net quarterly profit of US$1.62 billion, or US$1.79 per diluted share in Q2 2009.

International sales accounted for 58% of the quarter’s revenue and sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 27% from the year-ago quarter, and 14% from Q1 2010, to US$1.3 billion total.

Notably, the numbers from Q2 2009 are different from those originally reported due to Apple’s change in accounting rules that sees the company now recognize “substantially all of the revenue and product costs from the sales of iPhone and Apple TV at the time of sale,” instead of accounting for the sales over a 24-month period.

“We’re thrilled to report our best non-holiday quarter ever, with revenues up 49% and profits up 90%,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve launched our revolutionary new iPad and users are loving it, and we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year.”

“Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2010, we expect revenue in the range of about US$13.0 billion to $13.4 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of about US$2.28 to US$2.39,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

Princeton University analyzes iPad Wi-Fi bug, offers workaround

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Date: Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, 10:13
Category: How-To, iPad

Following up on the notorious wireless glitch in the iPad wherein an Internet Protocol (IP) address of the iPad fails to correctly refresh, or “lease”, its address, the Office of Information Technology at Princeton University looked into the issue.

On Tuesday, Princeton issued a report stating that the iPad will incorrectly continue using an IP address without renewing the lease, usually for hours. The issue is resolved when the iPad asks for a new DHCP lease, or the iPad disconnects from the network.

The information suggests it is a software issue within iPhone OS 3.2, and is likely something that Apple could repair through an update to its mobile operating system.

The problem was found to be common on Princeton’s campus, with 25 out of 41 of all iPads demonstrating the malfunction as of April 18th. If that ratio bears out on a larger scale, there are likely a huge number of iPad owners experiencing similar issues, as Apple sold more than 500,000 devices in its first week.

The report noted that some devices have demonstrated the malfunction several times, and eight devices were outright blocked from the university’s network.

“When a DHCP client malfunctions this way repeatedly, Princeton blocks the device from using those campus network services which rely on the device’s DHCP client respecting lease times,” the IT office said. “These include our wireless services. We do this to protect other customers of those services from the disruptions caused by the malfunctioning devices.”

The university has published a temporary workaround for the issue, but has stated that it is working with Apple and providing them with technical data in hopes of solving the problem. That data was sent to Apple on April 7th.

The Information Technology office also noted that it has been incorrectly attributed with diagnosing the cause of Wi-Fi signal issues or connectivity issues that have been widely reported by iPad users. The university noted that information is inaccurate, as its documentation relates only to a DHCP client issue, not Wi-Fi signal or connectivity issues.

Princeton has been able to replicate the problem regularly by allowing the iPad to lock its screen before the DHCP lease renewal time, and allowing it to remain locked, with the screen off, until the DHCP lease has expired.

The current workaround has users reconfigure the iPad’s settings so that the screen never locks. This can be accomplished by going to Settings, General, Auto-Lock and choosing “Never.” Users must also turn off Wi-Fi before they manually lock the screen, turn the iPad completely off (rather than just locking it), or simply leave the iPad on without locking the screen.

Soon after the iPad was introduced earlier this month, users began to report connectivity issues with the device. One of the most common problems experienced relates to rejoining a Wi-Fi network after the iPad has been restored from sleep. Apple responded by issuing a support document.

iPad 3G to arrive in stores on April 30th

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Date: Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, 08:29
Category: News

In the midst of the delays surrounding certain pre-ordered iPad 3G units, Apple announced on Tuesday that the 3G-enabled iPad would arrive for those who have pre-ordered it on Friday April 30th, the same day that it will make its appearance in stores.

According to Macworld, the rush will begin at 5 p.m. at Apple Stores, most Best Buy locations, some Apple Authorized Resellers, and campus bookstores. As with the Wi-Fi models, customers will be able to set up their iPad in the store for free with the help of an Apple employee.

The 3G model comes in at 1.6 pounds to the Wi-Fi iPad’s 1.5. That and a small black plastic antenna window along the top of the unit make up the only real hardware differences between the two. As mentioned before, the 3G model arrives at a US$130 premium and will be available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities retailing for US$629, US$729, and US$829 respectively.

While some have wondered about the impact the 3G capability will have on the iPad’s otherwise stellar battery life, Apple is promising nine hours of battery life while browsing the Web on 3G.

Users will be able to subscribe to and manage 3G service from the device itself, with AT&T offering a US$15 per month plan with a 250MB data cap and a US$30 per month plan offering unlimited usage. Unlike the iPhone, users can subscribe to and cancel 3G service whenever you like.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple pushes iPad 3G pre-order ship date back to May 7th, ships camera kit

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Date: Monday, April 19th, 2010, 06:32
Category: iPad, News

Right, this is NOT going to make you happy.

Over the weekend, Apple began e-mailing customers to tell them that their iPad 3G orders had been pushed back to May 7th to reassure them that their hardware will ship on schedule in late April. In addition, the company has also begun shipping the iPad camera connection kit to some who ordered.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s online store has been updated to reflect that new orders of the iPad with both 3G and Wi-Fi will not ship until May 7th. But while those ordering new iPads with 3G connectivity will not get their device until a few weeks later, original preorders are still on track for a late April release. To confirm this, Apple began sending the following e-mails to customers who already ordered:

“To Our Valued Apple Customer:

Thank you for your recent order of the magical and revolutionary iPad 3G.

We would like to confirm that your order will be shipped in late April as communicated at the time you placed your order. You will receive a confirmation notice when your order has shipped.

You can get up-to-date information about your order, including shipping status and tracking number, at http://www.apple.com/orderstatus

Thank you for choosing Apple.

Sincerely,
The Apple Store Team”

The 3G-enabled iPad models carry a US$130 premium and offer wireless connectivity with the AT&T 3G network in the U.S. No-contract data plans are available for US$15 per month for 250MB of data, and US$30 a month for unlimited access.

Though U.S. orders remain on track to ship on time, last week Apple announced that international customers will have to wait, as a shortage of devices caused the launch to be delayed until the end of May. Apple shipped more than a half-million Wi-Fi only iPads in its first week of availability in the U.S. alone.

In the U.S., online orders of the Wi-Fi-only iPad ship in five to seven business days. All orders remain limited to just two per customer.

Finally, some who preordered the camera connection kit for the iPad have been notified that their order has finally shipped. Apple first gave the connection kit a shipping date of late April on its Web site at the end of March.