Apple Quietly Drops Certain iPod Model Prices Ahead of Media Event

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Date: Wednesday, September 9th, 2009, 03:38
Category: iPod, News

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With things gearing up for Apple’s iPod-focused media event, Apple appears to have begun quietly cutting the prices of certain existing iPods ahead of the event. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the following changes have just taken place:

-The iPod nano is now US$129 for 8GB and US$149 for 16GB.
-The iPod classic is now US$229.
-The iPod touch is now US$189 for 8GB, US$249 for 16GB and US$279 for 32GB.
-There is no change to the price of the iPod shuffle.

Stay tuned for additional news from the media event throughout the day.

Rumor: Apple TV Could Receive Changes at September 9th Event

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Date: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009, 04:09
Category: Apple TV, Rumor

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Altering an earlier opinion that surprise announcements weren’t to be expected at Apple’s anticipated September 9th media event, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster released a second note Tuesday suggesting an Apple TV upgrade could debut at next week’s event.

Per AppleInsider, Munster stated that he believed an appearance by Steve Jobs would be the biggest news out of the iPod-centric event. Munster has now said stated that he has reason to believe there will be an Apple TV-related announcement next Wednesday. In a note, he pointed out that Apple’s online store has a wait time of one to two weeks for the 40GB model at US$229. Munster said he has never seen a delay for the Apple TV since it debuted in March of 2007. The analyst suggests that Apple is either phasing out the 40GB model, as the 160GB offering is still available, or is selling its remaining inventory before a new product launches.

“We believe the company is most likely phasing out the 40GB model and possibly reducing the price of the 160GB model,” he said, “but a new model is possible given the hardware has been the same for 2+ years.”

Munster does not believe that a major upgrade to the Apple TV will happen next week because he expects such an announcement to coincide with a subscription service that would need to be negotiated with content providers. Weeks ago, Munster reiterated his belief that Apple is working towards a new Apple TV with iTunes show subscriptions and possibly DVR capabilities.

“It is unlikely that negotiations for new content are finished,” he said.

Given the age of the Apple TV hardware, Munster said he wouldn’t rule out a new lineup as a “wildcard” announcement at the media-centric event.

Munster went on to re-state his belief that Apple will launch a full-fledged television set in two to five years. Such a device, he said, would have DVR and home media functionality built in, and would sync content with Macs, iPhones and iPods wirelessly. He said an Apple television could also play games, with an iPhone or iPod touch acting as the wireless controller.

“Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs,” he said. “We believe Apple could differentiate itself with software that makes home entertainment simple and solves a pain point for consumers.”

Rumor: Apple to Hold September 9th Media Event, Unveil New iPods, iTunes 9

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Date: Thursday, August 27th, 2009, 03:08
Category: iPod, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, Rumor, Software

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Apple is apparently planning a full media event for Wednesday, September 9th to introduce new iPod offerings and make a host of other music-related announcements.

AppleInsider, which cites sources close to the story, says that Apple had been teetering between Sept. 8 and Sept. 9 for weeks, but most recently indicated to its industry-related partners that the latter of the two dates would be more feasible.

The company is expected to use the gathering to introduce new versions of its iPod nano and iPod touch digital music players, both of which should serve as dual-purpose point-and-shoot cameras for the first time. AppleInsider also has it on authority that cameras are just one piece to this year’s iPod story.

Also likely is an introduction of iTunes 9, which has widely been rumored in recent weeks to make its debut with a handful of social networking features. Nothing is expected to be heard about the much anticipated Newton Web tablet, which isn’t expected to surface in any form until the first calendar quarter of 2010.

While it’s unclear at which venue Apple will hold the event, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center would seem a likely candidate if past years are of any indication. The Moscone West is also another potential candidate site. Analysts and members of the media should start receiving invitations will full details roughly one week prior.

Apple Strips Palm OS HotSync Conduit from Upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 Release

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Date: Wednesday, August 26th, 2009, 02:17
Category: News, Software

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Apple has discontinued support for legacy Palm OS devices in Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s iSync 3.1.0 according to AppleInsider. Per sources familiar with the latest Gold Master build, users of Palm OS devices will need to obtain third party support for syncing their Palm Desktop information with Mac OS X’s Sync Services.

Palm continues to provide a very old version of Palm Desktop 4.2.1D for Mac users, enabling syncing with legacy Palm Centro, Treo, Zire, Tungsten, LifeDrive, and Pilot models via its Mac OS X Universal Binary desktop software. That software is based upon what was originally Apple’s Claris Organizer, which Steve Jobs sold to Palm over a decade ago as Apple divested itself of its already long in the tooth Claris apps.

In addition with launching its Macs as the “digital hub” and selling the iPod, Apple developed iSync for Mac OS X, a set of software which enabled devices from any manufacturer to sync their data with a common store shared by desktop apps including iCal and Address Book. It eventually allowed users to also sync that information with Apple’s .Mac service, now called MobileMe.

Palm apparently never bothered to update its Palm Desktop for Mac software to make it compatible with Apple’s iSync. Instead, Apple, in an effort to keep Macs compatible with Palm’s device, created its own Palm Conduit software that linked Palm Desktop’s HotSync system into iSync. This software was then incorporated as part of iSync 2.0, released as part of Mac OS X Tiger nearly half a decade ago.

With Palm all but abandoning its “classic” devices developed prior to the release of the new Palm Pre, which does not use the same legacy Palm OS nor its HotSync or Palm Desktop software, the value of maintaining HotSync support in Mac OS X has dropped dramatically, leaving Apple to cut the support from the version that ships with Mac OS X Snow Leopard entirely.

It does not appear that the discontinuation of legacy Palm OS support in iSync is related to efforts by Palm to trick iTunes into syncing data with the new Palm Pre as if it were an iPod.

Third party software, including the Missing Sync from Mark/Space, enables Mac users to sync calendars, contacts, bookmarks, music, documents and other information between older Palm OS devices as well as other hardware including the new Palm Pre, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile phones and the Sony PlayStation Portable.

Additional Details Surface Over Possible Apple Tablet

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Date: Friday, August 14th, 2009, 05:02
Category: Rumor

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New reports surrounding a possible upcoming Apple tablet currently suggest that two versions (the first for educational use and the second with a webcam) could be made available. Both models would utilize an OLED screen and according to Gizmodo, include what an anonymous source described as a 10″ screen and look like a “giant iPhone, with a big black back.” The tipster claimed to have handled a mock-up of the device, stating it has a home button like an iPhone, and will be positioned between an iPod/iPhone and a MacBook.

The report did not elaborate on the supposed separate Web cam and education editions of the device, but said it would retail between US$700 and US$900. The device has allegedly been under development between four and six years, though the first prototype was only created in late 2008.

“To make up for the cost and make the device more than just a big iPod there was, this person claimed, there was talk of making the device act as a secondary screen/touchpad for iMacs and MacBooks,” wrote Brian Lam for the Gizmodo article, “much like a few of the USB screens that have come out in recent months from Chinese companies.”

The source also said that there is a question of what operating system the device will run (Lam calls that detail a “huge secret”), but that it’s possible the device could be made for sale this holiday season.

Additional anonymous sources have pointed towards a 10″ screen as well as a customer ARM chip to be developed by the PA Semi division. Other rumors have ascertained that the device will not be available until early 2010. Citing “very reliable sources,” Jim Dalrymple, of The Loop, corroborates that date.

Finally, a new report in Silicon Scoop alleges that Apple will launch in a tablet in limited release at US$899 by the end of 2009. The “SmartBook” device, as author Trip Chowdhry calls it, is reported to have an 8″ to 10″ OLED screen and feature an ARM Cortex-A9 chipset.

Chowdhry reports that Apple wants to launch the device this year, but it will not be available widespread until early 2010. Allegedly Apple’s new device is being compared performance-wise to the Archos 9 PC Tablet, a Windows 7-based netbook.

If you have any thoughts about an Apple tablet or have heard anything from your end, please let us know.

Latest iPhone OS 3.1 Beta Cites Unknown Device

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Date: Wednesday, August 5th, 2009, 04:44
Category: News

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Once again, a mystery device in the latest iPhone OS 3.1 firmware beta is being referred to, the device featuring a new model number and fueling speculation that Apple has a new touchscreen device based on its mobile operating system coming soon.

According to ArsTechnica, a device called “iProd 0,1″ was first discovered in March in the iPhone 3.0 OS beta firmware. The latest beta update also includes a reference to iProd, but this time the USBConfiguration.plist file gives the product the “1,1″ distinction — something Apple typically uses to refer to its first-generation products.

The information has led to speculation that a new, unannounced piece of hardware running the iPhone OS could be nearing launch.

The reference to iProd 1,1 has a product ID of 4762, while the original iProd 0,1 was model 4757. The new model also features references to Ethernet configurations, leading the report to suspect the supposed new device could have “gained high-speed networking capabilities” since the 0,1 hardware incarnation.

“What we are willing to bet on is that with a 1,1 moniker the product will see public release soon—perhaps as early as September, when Apple typically unveils new iPods,” the report concludes.

Apple always uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions, the naming schemes allude to a second major reworking of the iPhone in testing at Apple as well as a minor revision of the current iPod touch and a third-generation overhaul. The original iPhone is seen as iPhone 1,1, while the iPhone 3G appears as iPhone 1,2 — a minor upgrade to an existing design. The first- and second-generation iPod touch show as 1,1 and 2,1 respectively.

Apple Attempts to Silence Family of Exploding iPod with Gag Order

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Date: Monday, August 3rd, 2009, 04:51
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

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Recently, Apple Inc. attempted to silence a father and daughter with a gag order after the child’s iPod exploded and the family sought a refund from the company.

According to The Times, the company offered the family a full refund only on the condition that they were willing to sign a settlement form. The proposed agreement left them open to legal action if they ever disclosed the terms of the settlement.

The case mimics previous instances in which Apple attempted to hush up incidents when its devices overheated.

Ken Stanborough, 47, of Liverpool, dropped his 11-year-old daughter Ellie’s iPod Touch last month. “It made a hissing noise,” he said. “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”. Mr Stanborough said he threw the device out of his back door, where “within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10 feet in the air”.

Mr. Stanborough then contacted Apple and Argos, where he had bought the device for £162. After being passed around several departments, he spoke to an Apple executive on the telephone. As a result of the conversation, Apple sent a letter to Mr Stanborough denying liability but offering a refund.

The letter also stated that, in accepting the money, Mr Stanborough was to “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.

“I thought it was a very disturbing letter,” said Mr Stanborough, who is self-employed and works in electronic security. He refused to sign it.

“They’re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum, not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.

“We didn’t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back,” he added.

Last week, reports surfaced that Apple had tried to keep a number of cases where its iPod digital music players had started to smoke, burst into flames and even burned their owners, out of the public eye.

An American reporter obtained 800 pages of documentation on the cases from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) following a Freedom of Information Act request in that country. However, she was unable to get hold of the documents for months after “Apple’s lawyers filed exemption after exemption”.

In those cases, CPSC investigators suggested that the iPods’ lithium ion batteries could be the source of the problem.

In 2006, Apple and Dell recalled millions of lithium ion batteries due to overheating problems in laptop computers causing fires. As of September last year, 173,000,000 iPods have been sold worldwide.

An Apple spokesman said that, as the company had not looked at the Stanboroughs’ damaged iPod, it could not comment. Representatives from Argos also refused to comment.

Palm Releases webOS 1.1, Restores Pre’s Ability to Sync with iTunes

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Date: Friday, July 24th, 2009, 03:12
Category: News, Software

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One week after Apple disabled the Palm Pre’s capacity to sync with iTunes, Palm has responded by releasing webOS 1.1, an update that again enables Palm’s phone to access media from the current version of iTunes.

Per the company’s blog, Pre users can expect the new software to arrive via an over-the-air update.

“Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync,” the post reads. “That’s right — you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1).”

Last week, Apple released iTunes 8.2.1. In accompanying release notes, the company was vague about what the upgrade actually did, stating only that the update provided “a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.”

Soon after the new version of iTunes was released, Pre users realized that the update had broken their ability to sync music with the software.

The webOS 1.1 update brings a number of changes focused on business users, including remote wipe, inactivity timeout, improved certificate handling and more for Exchange ActiveSync. The update also provides emoticons in the messaging app.

When Palm initially unveiled the handset, the company boasted about the the handset’s ability to transfer media from iTunes. According to AppleInsider, the feature worked by identifying the Pre in its hardware ID as an iPod — a trick Apple warned might not work for long.

Last month, Apple warned Pre users that future software updates may kill sync capability with the device.

“Apple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store, and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store,” Apple warned a document released in June. “Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players.”

In its blog post, Palm declined to elaborate on how they circumvented the changes presented in iTunes 8.2.1.

Apple Apparently Delaying iPod Fire Incident Report

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Date: Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, 04:45
Category: iPod, News

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When one of your best selling products sort of starts catching fire, you might be hesitant to investigate it.

According to KIRO 7, a Seattle-based reporter says that Apple actively prevented her and others from learning the true scope of the safety hazard.

KIRO 7′s Amy Clancy claims that her seven-month search for data was repeatedly frustrated as Apple asked for Consumer Product Safety Commission reports to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act, hiding them from public view.

The investigation began in November after one iPod shuffle owner was burned when the battery ignited during a run, burning her where the iPod was clipped on. The victim, Jamie Balderas, said she contacted Apple and provided photos as evidence but was purportedly dismissed by an AppleCare agent as encountering an “isolated incident” and that access to proof of previous incidents wasn’t an option. The mother of a child given a mild burn also says Apple phone representatives didn’t appear responsive to the problem.

Clancy searched on her own but submitted the FIA request after discovering the already widespread reports of iPod battery fires, which among other responses had prompted a Japanese government investigation.

When she finally received the requested information, Clancy was surprised at just how long Apple and the CPSC had been aware of problems: fires had been reported as long ago as 2005 and have been noted periodically ever since. The 800-page report had even already pinpointed the lithium-ion battery packs as the likely causes because of their occasional tendency to overheat, but despite the evidence, hadn’t led to a mandatory recall. Commission officials had determined that the the scarcity of incidents (just a handful compared to the 175 million iPods sold at the time) had made the risk of any injury, let alone any serious injuries, “very low.”

It also believed that newer batteries weren’t shown to be vulnerable to the same sort of overheating.

In the past, Apple began a voluntary replacement program last year for owners of first-generation iPod nanos, some of whose batteries were known to be defective, it hasn’t given recourse to owners of other iPod models affected by the problem, whether Balderas or a Cincinnati woman who just in March sued Apple for negligence in the wake of a second-generation iPod touch fire exhibiting similar symptoms.

Early Predictions Arrive for Apple Q3 Earnings

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Date: Monday, July 20th, 2009, 04:30
Category: News

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Apple’s Q3 numbers come out tomorrow and per CNET, while results have been both eventful and mixed, analysts are expecting more positive than negative numbers when it’s said and done.

During the quarter, which ended June 30, the company released the third-generation iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, which can be regarded as a success, though its Mac and iPod divisions may not see identical results.

Throughout the quarter, Apple did pay a nod to consumers’ tight budgets, lowering prices on its Mac notebook lineup although keeping other prices about the same.

Analysts are expecting revenues for the quarter between US$7.88 billion and US$8.44 billion, and earnings per share between US$1.02 and US$1.31. Apple itself, which always gives guidance on the low side, is anticipating revenue between US7.7 billion and US$7.9 billion and earnings per share between 95 cents and a dollar.

Over the quarter, Apple’s stock jumped 21.4%, rising to US$147.52, since its last earnings report in late April. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who stood in for CEO Steve Jobs, has received high marks for keeping the company running smoothly in its leader’s absence. Jobs has been back at work, at least part-time, since the end of June.

Apple announced that the company had sold 1 million iPhones worldwide in the first weekend the 3GS was on the market, and AT&T said the first day the phone was available marked the best sales day in the carrier’s history. Analytical firm Piper Jaffray jumped in on this, specifically stating that it anticipates total iPhones sold for the quarter will be 5 million.

Mac revenue will show if price cuts are helping. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says Apple sold 2.2 million Macs during the quarter, and says it is getting a boost from the price cuts it applied when it upgraded its entire aluminum MacBook line to MacBook Pros. Per recent counts from IDC, which only tracks Apple’s sales in the U.S., showed that Mac shipments dipped more than 12% during this quarter while the entire PC industry was down 3.1% worldwide.

For those wanting a cool new item, the iPods’ annual tuneup is expected in September, when it has taken place the past few years. Where the iPod business has also been slowing down a bit, Piper Jaffray predicts sales to be down 7% from a year ago, though Apple has been increasingly focused on its iPod Touch, which has access to the popular App Store and is expected to get a reboot in September similar to the iPhone 3GS.

Apple also continues to put away cash during the quarter. As Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech pointed out, Apple added US$800 million in cash during the last quarter, bringing its total to US$28.9 billion. Only Cisco’s US$29 billion in cash is better among technology companies.

Stay tuned for full Q3 coverage tomorrow and let us know what’s on your mind via the comments!