Apple Consuming Lion’s Share of NAND Memory, Hesitant to Negotiate with Suppliers This Quarter

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Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010, 09:53
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

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Even as time goes by, tech parts don’t always get cheaper.

Per DigiTimes, Apple, which already consumes the lion’s share of the global NAND flash memory supply, is apparently reluctant to negotiate with suppliers in 2010 due to high prices.

Although the demand for NAND memory in devices such as memory cards and flash drives has been soft, this hasn’t significantly pushed down chip prices. Major chip suppliers like Samsung have given priority to profitable partnerships over shipment volume, which doesn’t work to the advantage of major buyers like Apple.

In addition to the lower demand, the situation has become even more volatile given that tight foundry capacity is expected to disrupt shipments and have an effect on NAND flash pricing, industry sources reportedly said.

“Some NAND flash controller suppliers,” the report said, “have indicated that their supply may not be able to satisfy customer demand in the second quarter if their foundry partners continue to see tight capacity, the sources said. This supply disruption is likely to impact NAND flash prices for the quarter.”

Industry sources expect the situation to improve in the second quarter of 2010, when they believe Apple may start negotiating long-term supply contracts for NAND flash. The report noted that Apple’s consumption of flash memory will “continue to play a significant role” in the industry this year.

Earlier this month, a rumor came out that the possible success of Apple’s iPad could increase prices of solid state drives. Apple consumes nearly one-third of total NAND flash memory supplies, and its share is expected to grow even more with the launch of the iPad on April 3.

Apple was noted multiple times in 2009 as causing a flash memory shortage due to its iPod and iPhone products consuming the largest share of NAND flash. Industry sources expect the price of NAND flash to continue to rise in 2010.

In addition to most of the iPod lineup and the iPhone, in early 2008, Apple embraced the solid state drive by offering it as an option in its MacBook Air notebook.

iPhone “Electronic Key” Patent Surfaces

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Date: Tuesday, March 9th, 2010, 06:49
Category: iPhone, Patents

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The Daily Telegraph is reporting that a new Apple patent has recently been published which describes a method in which the iPhone, or another Apple portable, could act as a sort of electronic key. The technique could be used for cars, offices, homes, or lockers and almost anything that could have an electronic receiver mounted to it in place of a metal tumbler-style lock could then use an iPhone as a key.

The patent application itself describes a means by which almost “any suitable electronic device such as a portable media player, personal data assistant or electronic lock” that could open up any number of physical lock types just by communicating wirelessly.

Electronic key fobs already exist for certain models of cars, most notably the Toyota Prius, which not only allow keyless entry but also allow you to start the car without a traditional metal key. If Apple actually implements this patent and allows iPhones and iPods to act as an “iKey,” carrying a ring of metal keys and fobs around in your pocket could eventually seem as passé as a pocketwatch or pager seems today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Syncing Issues Cited Between iPhone OS 3.x and iTunes 9.x

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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As useful and convenient as iPhones and iTunes tend to be, there may be some serious issues left to resolve.

Per reader Martin Joyce, a number of users have been experiencing syncing issues between their iPod and iPhone handsets running iPhone OS 3.x and iTunes 9.x. The issue, which is being discussed at length over at the Apple Discussion Boards, cites that the most common issue is that of there being no content on the iPhone or iPod handset after a sync. The discussion has yet to conclude with Apple publicly acknowledging the issue in any way, shape or form.

If anyone has seen this on their end or has heard of a possible forthcoming fix from Apple, please let us know.

Apple Hunting for Engineering Manager to Bring iPhone OS to “New Platforms”

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Date: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010, 05:47
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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A recent job posting from Apple may demonstrate that Apple plans to grow the iPhone OS. Per MacNN, the company is currently searching for an engineering manager to be based out of Cupertino. The person should specifically be responsible for a team handling low levels of the iPhone OS, including the “bring-up of new hardware platforms.” Candidates are therefore expected to have deep experience in areas like Unix kernels and ARM-based systems-on-chip.

The new platforms mentioned are mostly likely updated iPods, iPads and iPhones, although just the iPod and iPhone are cited, and then only tangentially. The ambiguity could in fact leave room for an unannounced platform. One possibility could be an updated Apple TV, since the device is relatively simple but potentially ready to benefit from iPad-style media playback controls. The present Apple TV hardware has not been updated in any significant fashion since May of 2007.

If you have any guesses, please let us know.

Powermat Designing Wireless Battery Packs for iPhone, Blackberry, Other Handsets

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Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010, 04:53
Category: iPhone, News

Powermat, a firm that specializes in wireless charge pads for handsets, has announced that the company will begin making wireless battery packs that will enable handsets to be recharged without the need for an accessory device to pick up the charge.

Per Macworld UK, the present Powermat charging approach is to embed a rechargable cell into the outside of an iPod or other smartphone sleeve. This additional cover is then placed in contact with the Powermat charging device that holds the charge.

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Any device can be recharged using a Powermat, but it must have a corresponding rechargeable cell. Powermat currently sells a mat on which three separate devices can be simultaneously charged and is about to launch dual-device and single device versions.

The company has also developed batteries that can be recharged using the same technique but without the need for a smartphone jacket. Instead, the regular lithium-ion battery is removed and switched for a Powermat one designed specially for the item.

A small amount of power is required in order to enable the Powermat battery to work, but this is embedded in the replacement cover for the phone in question. The Powermat battery will be sold with the charging plate cover as part of the bundle. Charging time and power supplied are comparable to those of a lithium-ion equivalent.

Over at the Mobile World Congress show, representatives stated that Powermat is in talks with many of the best-known handset makers with a view to offering such a wireless charging solution as an accessory or even as part of the standard bundle.

It hopes manufacturers will adopt the idea and offer it to consumers for free, rather than charging customers for the convenience of being able to wirelessly charge their phones by placing them on a special mat.

MWSF: Incase Reveals Combo Charger for iPod and iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 15th, 2010, 05:44
Category: Accessory, iPhone, iPod, Macworld Expo

Let’s face it: we’re gadget-centric and we need our chargers.

Per iLounge, accessory maker Incase has released its Combo Charger for iPod and iPhone. The device arrives in black or white and allows users to charge two devices at once if you provide a cable for the second USB port.

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An Incase leaf logo below the ports glows when connected to a car or wall power source, and the bulb has been redesigned from previous versions to occupy a narrower profile while enhancing the functionality and the company says that the ports offer the “fastest possible charge” — 1 amp — as compared with 0.5 amp competitors.

The Combo Charger retails for US$40 and is immediately available.

MWSF: iBooks App Won’t be Bundled with iPad

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 14:59
Category: iPad, Macworld Expo, Software

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Yes, the iPad is coming.

But it won’t come with the featured iBooks application.

Per Apple’s product listing for the device, the iBooks application won’t be bundled with the iPad and will instead be downloaded from the App Store, a move which places it on an equal footing with other e-book readers on the market.

The application is available for free and if you look at the photos of the iPad, the only bundled apps included with the system appear to be Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store, Settings, Safari, Mail, Photos, and iPod. Perhaps this will change if and when iBooks becomes available outside the U.S.

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.1.3 Update for iPhone, iPod Touch

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Date: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010, 06:18
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released version 3.1.3 of its iPhone OS firmware. The update, which weighs in at over 200 megabytes and can be downloaded by attaching your iPhone or iPod touch to your Mac or PC, clicking the device in iTunes, then clicking the “Check for Update” button, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Improves accuracy of reported battery level on iPhone 3GS.
- Resolves issue where third-party apps would not launch in some instances.
- Fixes bug that may cause an app to crash when using the Japanese Kana keyboard.
- Full list of security updates listed here.

If you’ve installed iPhone OS 3.1.3 and noticed any changes, please let us know.

Apple Releases iTunes 9.0.3 Update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 05:16
Category: News

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Late Monday, Apple released iTunes 9.0.3, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, an 90.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- iTunes no longer ignores your “Remember password for purchases” setting.
- Addresses problems with syncing some Smart Playlists and Podcasts with iPod.
- Resolves a problem recognizing when iPod is connected.
- Addresses issues that affect stability and performance.

iTunes 9.0.3 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Apple Posts $3.38 Billion Profit, $15.68 Billion in Sales for Q1 Results

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Date: Tuesday, January 26th, 2010, 07:56
Category: Finance, News

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Even if the global economy’s in iffy shape, you can’t tell it by Apple.

Per Macworld, the company posted its best-ever performance for the first fiscal quarter, citing tallied sales of US$15.68 billion and a net quarterly profit of US$3.38 billion. That compares to year-ago figures of $11.88 billion in sales and US$2.26 billion in net quarterly profit.

“We’re extremely pleased with our record-breaking performance, including our 32% in growth in revenue and 50% growth in net income,” Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer told analysts during a Monday afternoon conference call to discuss Apple’s quarter numbers.

The company’s quarterly performance translated to earnings of US$3.67 per share, up 47% from the US$2.50 per share that it earned in the year-ago quarter.

Apple’s reports, which may seem a bit off in comparison to last January’s returns, reflect the retrospectively adopted Financial Accounting Standards Board’s amended accounting standards during the 2010 first quarter. Adopting those standards significantly alters how Apple accounts for certain items such as the iPhone and Apple TV sales. The revised standards allow Apple to recognize revenue and product at the time of sale and the company has restated its results for the 2007, 2008, and 2009 fiscal years to reflect this change.

“We believe [the new accounting rules] will better enable us to recognize the underlying economics and performance of our business,” Oppenheimer said.

For the 2010 fiscal first quarter, Apple sold 3.36 million Macs, up 33% from the 2.5 million units the company sold in Q1 of 2009.

The Mac sales figure sets a new record, topping the 3.05 million Macs Apple sold during the fiscal fourth quarter of 2009.

The fall revamp of the iMac line helped boost desktop sales for the quarter. In October, Apple replaced its 20″ and 24″ iMacs with new 21.5″ and 27″ configurations of the all-in-one desktop. Apple sold 1.23 million desktops in its first quarter of 2010, an increase of nearly 70% from the 728,000 desktops it sold a year ago.

Notebook sales came in at just under 2.13 million units sold during the first quarter, a number which accounts for 63% of all the Macs sold during the quarter. Portable sales rose 18% from the 1.796 million laptops Apple sold in the year-ago quarter.

Overall education sales for Mac products grew 16% from last year, reflecting Apple’s best growth rate in that segment since before the start of the current recession, according to chief operating officer Tim Cook. The K-12 and higher-education channels both reported record sales for the December quarter.

“Our whole education business is based on really understanding teaching, learning, and student achievement, and we think we’re the only tech company that really gets that,” Cook said.

iPhone sales reached record heights in the quarter with the company selling 8.7 million iPhones in three months, breaking the record of 7.4 million set in the previous quarter. iPhone sales were twice what they were during the previous year’s first quarter with the sales value of those 8.7 million iPhones exceeding US$5.4 billion. The average selling price of iPhone models was down 5% versus the prior year, likely owing to the existence of the cut-rate US$99 iPhone 3G model.

In response to a question from an analyst, Cook offered praise for often-criticized U.S. wireless partner AT&T. “AT&T is a great partner,” he said. “In the vast majority of locations, we think iPhone customers are having a great experience… AT&T has acknowledged that they’re having a few issues in some cities, and they have plans to address these. We have personally reviewed these plans, and we have high confidence [in them].”

Regarding Apple’s acquisition of Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising company, Cook said that Apple “look[s] forward to providing developers with a great opportunity for advertising,” but that mobile advertising is currently “in its infancy.”

Not every product segment saw growth during the quarter and iPod sales fell 8% from Q1 of 2009, as Apple sold 21 million music players during the quarter. However, Oppenheimer characterized that decline as expected. Indeed, overall iPod sales growth has been flat for some time—sales have declined for three consecutive quarters now.

Still, Apple executives didn’t sound particularly bothered on Monday by the iPod’s quarterly performance. The music player continues to gain market share internationally, and its share of the U.S. market remains at more than 70%, according to Oppenheimer.

Despite the lower iPod numbers, Oppenheimer said Apple sold 55% more iPod touches this year than it did in the first quarter of 2009. The average selling price of the iPod increased by 9% during the quarter, driven by sales of the touch.

Oppenheimer told analysts on Monday that the iTunes Store had enjoyed a “record-breaking quarter,” though the company provided no revenue figures for its online retail arm for music, movies, TV programs, and mobile apps.
Retail and other figures

Apple finished the first quarter with 283 retail stores, after opening 10 new outlets during the quarter. Those openings included high-profile stores near the Louvre in Paris and New York’s Upper West Side. Apple also remodeled 32 stores during the quarter, for a total of 100 remodels during the 2009 calendar year.

Retail revenue rose 17% to US$1.97 billion for the quarter. Average revenue per store was US$7.1 million, up from US$7 million in the year-ago quarter. The brick-and-mortar stores sold a record 680,000 Macs, with half of those sold to customers who were new to the Mac.

Apple is expected to open between 40 and 50 stores during the 2010 fiscal year, Oppenheimer said, with half of those outlets located outside the U.S.

Even after a quarter of cash outlays that included the purchase of online music streaming company Lala, the company reported that it now holds cash and short-term investments totaling US$39.8 billion, up $5.8 billion from the previous quarter.

Looking ahead to the March quarter, Oppenheimer told analysts to expect sales between US$11 billion and US$11.4 billion. That compares to restated sales of US$9.1 billion for the fiscal second quarter of 2009. Apple expects earnings between US$2.06 and US$2.18 per share for the upcoming quarter; that compares to US$1.79 per quarter a year ago, after adjusting for the new accounting rules.

“The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about,” CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement accompanying Monday’s earnings release.