AT&T Pushing for Exclusive iPhone Rights Through 2011

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 08:35
Category: iPhone

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After three years of holding exclusive rights to the iPhone, AT&T is looking to take one more shot at an exclusive deal for the Apple handset and may keep it away from competitors until 2011.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” have stated that AT&T has a deal to keep the iPhone in its stable until 2010 and that negotiations are underway to have the device onboard for one more year.
Though there has been no specific commentary from AT&T regarding this, an Apple spokeswoman would only say that the two companies have a “great relationship.”
The commentary follows a report from last year that also said AT&T had struck a deal to keep the iPhone until 2010 and may provide insight into current talks. At the time, the cellular carrier reportedly agreed to allow iPhone 3G subsidies in exchange for a one-year extension of the iPhone’s US exclusivity. Although the cost of discounting those phones has been severe — as much as US$1.3 billion to date, according to an estimate — the agreement renewed interest in AT&T and gave it millions of users paying at least US$60 per month (on grandfathered plans) for service.
Should AT&T be allowed to keep exclusive rights to the iPhone, it would be able to help prevent customers from jumping ship to Verizon or an alternate carrier at a time when the market is saturated and customers are more likely to have switched than sign up for the first time. The company added 1.9 million iPhone users just in the fall 2008 quarter alone.

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Apple Stores May Switch To iPhone Software for In-store Purchases

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 13:16
Category: Apple, Retail Store

With the release of iPhone 3.0 enabled hardware and software, Apple may be planning a switch from its EasyPay handheld devices to iPhones for checking out customers at their retail stores.

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An AppleInsider report speculates that Apple may be planning to move away from the current Windows Mobile-based PDAs in favor of iPhones or iPod Touches using credit card scanners enabled by the new 3.0 software which allows devices connected to the 30-pin dock connector to finally talk to applications.

Apple has reportedly had issues with the EasyPay system in the past, resulting in checkout delays and frustrated customers. Overall, however, the mobile checkout system has worked out well for the retail stores which were reported to average 3.6 million visits per week during Apple’s December financial conference call. Developing its own point of sale system around the iPhone could be costly, but would allow Apple Stores to show off the versatility of their mobile hardware.

It is interesting to note that in the current batch of Apple’s iPhone commercials, one of the highlighted apps is CCTerminal which allows you to process credit card transactions online using an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Thanks to Chuck Freedman for bringing this to my attention, although I’ve actually been musing about this possibility since the 3.0 sneak peek. Yes, I do spend too much time at the Apple Store.

Rumor: Apple May Have Ordered Four Million Additional iPhones for Chinese Marketplace

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 08:40
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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This is a bit strange but there may be something to it.
According to ChinaTimes, component suppliers have stated that Apple has placed orders for shipments of four million iPhone units expected to be ready by the end of the quarter.
The units will allegedly be a combination of three new models, consisting of an EDGE-only device, a 3G-capable model and a model made for the market in China, possibly on TD-SCDMA.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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Jobs Apparently Still “Closely Involved” in “Key Aspects” of Apple

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 13th, 2009, 06:04
Category: News

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According to “people familiar with the matter,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs remains “closely involved” with “key aspects” of running Apple according to a Wall Street Journal article.
Though currently on medical leave since January, the paper is reporting that Jobs is working hard from home and is still involved in both strategy and key products, including details surrounding the new interface elements in iPhone 3.0.
Apple’s comment on the situation is a blanket statement that “Steve continues to look forward to returning to Apple at the end of June.”
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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Review: Beach Buoy

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Review

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By Robert Kaneko
It’s spring! At least, it’s spring in the northern hemisphere. If, like me, you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may have despaired of spring ever arriving. However, as I type this, it’s sunny and 65°, so there is hope. With spring in mind, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor activities. However, many of our beloved gadgets don’t really like our outdoor activities. Sand, dirt and water seem to be particular problems. That’s where the Beach Buoy comes in.
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The Beach Buoy is a product available from Proporta. It is essentially a very rugged, very nice looking ziplock bag with a cord so you can wear it around your neck. It is rated to keep your iPhone, iPod Touch, or other expensive electronic gadget safe from water at depths of up to 5 meters/16 feet. The top of the Beach Buoy contains two double ziplocks.
The idea is, you place your device inside the Beach Buoy, seal both ziplocks, and then fold the ziplocks over, securing the folds with a Velcro flap.
The result is a very watertight (and sand-proof) container.
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Click the jump for the full review…

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Rumor: Apple Places Mass Order for 100 Million Flash Chips

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Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 07:55
Category: Rumor

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Recently, Apple placed a massive order for flash memory chips, the quantity of which seeming lower in density than one would expect from the company.
Citing supplier-based sources, DigiTimes has stated that Apple has ordered 100 million 8Gb NAND flash chips for delivery later this year with the bulk of this order to come from Samsung. Other suppliers such as Toshiba, Hynix, Intel and Micron may also provide some of the order.
The order is suspicious in that it’s for very low density chips. Contrary to some inaccuracies being reported around the Web, the parts in question are 8 gigabit chips, representing 1 gigabyte of storage each, not 8 gigabytes of storage each.
Though these parts could theoretically be used to facilitate the production of 6.25 million 16GB iPhones or 12.5 million 8GB iPhones, Apple has historically purchased higher density chips for its handheld offerings due to space constraints.
Apple is also thought to be using a single high-density 32Gb NAND chip in its most recent 4GB iPod shuffle, though this has yet to be confirmed . A tear-down analysis of the player performed last month found only a single chip inside — a multi-layered stack containing the CPU, RAM, and flash memory — making a face value determination inconclusive.
It’s also unclear from the report whether the 8Gb NAND parts are finalized chip packages, or bare memory chips that will later be stacked to form a higher density package.
Their inclusion in future Macs is yet another remote possibility, though rumors of Apple adopting small flash chips for an implementation of Intel’s Robson technology (which promised faster startup, application launching, and battery life by caching key pieces of code in the solid-state memory parts) fizzled some years ago. Apple now offers customers the option of configuring a handful of Macs with much larger flash drives, doing away with the need for a traditional hard disk drive entirely.

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Rumor: Video Recording Features, Voice Dialing Features Noted for iPhone OS 3.0 and Next-Gen iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 07:09
Category: Rumor

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After weeks of speculation, some new finds have brought additional credibility to Apple’s plans to include video recording features as well as Voice Dialing within the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 firmware as well as the next-gen iPhone.
According to MacRumors, an interface similar to the existing iPhone camera application has been discovered along with the addition of a digital toggle switch in the lower right-hand corner of the app for switching between still photos and video captures.
“The video recording is not presently functional in iPhone 3.0 beta, and the interface is not accessible by default,” according to the report. “Only when configuration files were modified telling the firmware that a Video Camera was present will this interface appear.”
In addition to the toggle switch, a square interface element on the left-hand side is also visible. This doesn’t appear to be specific to the video capture component of the application and is actually a fixture of the new Camera application due to ship as part of iPhone Software 3.0. It will display a thumbnail of the most recent image or video captured by the user.
Other new discoveries regarding the camera include “auto-focus camera”, “magnetometer” (digital compass), and “Voice Control” features.
Over on Boy Genius Report, additional screenshots of the iPhone OS 3.0 software show a large video camera icon with the caption “You can take videos using the camera.” The site also shows a screen in the “International” preferences panel of the beta software with the aforementioned “Voice Control” changes, which it believes may have something to do with Voice Dialing features.
Yet another leaked iPhone 3.0 screen hinting at video features (left) and another that could imply voice dialing capabilities.
Meanwhile, control icons for an iPhone video editing application were also uncovered in betas of iPhone Software 3.0, further corroborating reports that Apple would allow users to make rudimentary edits to their videos in a similar manner to the way the company’s new Voice Memo application allows trimming of audio recordings.

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Apple Job Listing Points Out Possibility of iPod Touch Gaining Built-In Camera

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 07:11
Category: iPod Touch

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A recent Apple job listing points out that Apple may be looking to extend camera functions over to its popular iPod touch handset.
According to AppleiPhoneApps.com, a job listing originally posted on March 16th stated that Apple is “looking for a Camera Engineering Project Manager (EPM) to drive the design, development and integration of camera modules across iPhone and iPod.”
“The EPM is the interface between our internal engineering teams and the suppliers of sensors, lenses and camera modules,” the listing says. “In this highly cross functional role the EPM will work closely together with the HW, SW and mechanical engineering team to coordinate all aspects of the camera module design, production and integration.”
Recent reports have indicated that Apple may be looking to expand its handset camera capabilities and that the next iPhone will see its camera upgraded from 2.0 megapixels to 3.2 megapixels as well as possibly add video functionality.
Per an AppleInsider story, Apple changed the text of its job posting to omit the mention of iPods in the listing.

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Apple Releases iTunes 8.1.1 Update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 06:17
Category: Software

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Late Monday, Apple released iTunes 8.1.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 68 megabyte download, offers the following fixes, changes and new features:

  • Adds support for renting HD movies.
  • Provides a number of bug fixes, including addressing issues with VoiceOver and syncing with iPhone or iPod touch.
  • iTunes 8.1.1 is available for free, requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run and can be snagged using Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

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    App Store Number Finally Reaches 77

    Posted by:
    Date: Monday, April 6th, 2009, 13:37
    Category: App Store, Apple

    On March 17, Apple announced that the App Store would be available for iPhone/iPod Touch customers in 77 countries. Through the end of March, the count stayed at 62, but finally over the April 4th weekend the additional 15 countries appeared on iTunes.

    The 15 additional countries are as follows:

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    • Dominican Republic
    • Ecuador
    • Egypt
    • Estonia
    • Honduras
    • Jamaica
    • Kazakstan
    • Latvia
    • Lithuania
    • Macau
    • Malta
    • Moldova
    • Nicaragua
    • Paraguay
    • Uruguay

    The Italian site setteB.IT reports that this works out to potentially 161.8 million new customers for Apple, the App Store, and software developers. Of the 15 countries, Kazakstan is the only one where the iPhone 3G is not available yet. The countries where the iPhone 3G is available but without an App Store are: Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Montenegro, Niger, Reunion (France) and Senegal.

    The original article can be read (translated from Italian) here.