Rumor: Apple to discontinue iPod Classic, Shuffle models this year

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 06:03
Category: iPod, Rumor

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The iPod classic and Shuffle models may not be long for this world.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple will streamline its iPod range by removing the iPod classic and iPod shuffle from its physical and online stores.

The source is apparently not an analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated that the tip isn’t apparently that new.

The iPod classic still uses a traditional, spinning-disc hard drive and while Apple is making a conscious shift to flash memory it is beginning to look somewhat outdated. The iPod shuffle is at the lowest end of the iPod range and once it is discontinued, the iPod nano will take its place.

The iPod will see its 10th anniversary this October, which could make this a good time to put it to rest. Besides, iPods only account for eight percent of Apple’s total sales these days.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently published Apple patents describe steps towards driverless printing for Mac OS X, iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Patents, Rumor, Software

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In a pair of recent filings, Apple proposed methods that would eliminate the necessity of printer drivers in order to streamline the printing process for users of its Mac OS X and iOS devices.

The first of the two patent applications, entitled “Walk-Up Printing Without Drivers,” reveals methods of circumventing the printer driver requirement when such a driver is absent from Apple mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Macs.

According to ConceivablyTech, Apple describes a new printing process for such mobile computing devices that would allow them to wirelessly detect a printer and determine whether a printer driver is installed.

The user would then be able to continue the printing job even without a driver by employing a series of APIs based on a discovery protocol such as Bonjour, an Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) and the PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file, which is used to detect the printer.

In the event that the device still fails to pair up with the printer, the user would have a third way of completing the print job — by sending the documents to the cloud and using cloud-specific printing technology to communicate with the printer.

The second patent, filed on the same day as the first one, September 14, 2010 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and entitled “Data Formats to Support Driverless Printing,” shows a different driverless and wireless printing concept also explored by Apple.

The company suggests a new way for mobile devices to bypass the printer driver requirement by storing a specific data structure that would be able to specify the following printing characteristics when detecting a printer: “resolutions, color spaces, bit depths, input slots, face-up/face-down input orientation, output bins, face-up/face-down output orientation, duplex printing support, media types, copy support, supported finishings, and print quality.”

A new “URF-supported key,” part of discovery and transport protocols, is also mentioned by the second patent. Its purpose would be to offer a “standardized set of capabilities that are supported by a printer” that would let the user “generate printer data for any type of printer” without actually storing any printer-specific details on the computing device in question.

The new wireless and driverless technologies described by these two new patents would complement Apple’s existing AirPrint capabilities for iOS devices and could lead to a future driver-free printing experience for most Mac OS X computers.

Apple has high hopes for AirPrint, but has run into a few snags in the transition to driverless printing. Late last year, one rumor suggested that Apple had run into intellectual property issues with the AirPrint architecture, a problem that could potentially be alleviated should the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office grant the above patents to Apple.

Meanwhile, printer makers such as HP and EFI have been steadily adding support for the feature to their printer offerings.

If you have any thoughts on this, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to hold iPod media event on September 7

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Date: Friday, August 12th, 2011, 03:17
Category: iPod, Rumor

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An unverified report claims Apple will hold its annual iPod media event on September 7th and could possibly announce the iPhone 5 later that month September or in early October.

Per Japanese Mac site Kodawarisan, Apple will release a new line of iPods at the event. The rumor also claimed the fifth-generation iPhone is “likely to be announced” in late September or Early October. Though the publication has been an accurate source for Apple predictions in the past, Friday’s report remains unconfirmed.

Last year, the iPod maker held the event on September 1st, releasing a new iPod touch, new multi-touch iPod nano, iPod shuffle and the US$99 cloud-centric update to the Apple TV.

In May, photos of a part allegedly for the seventh-generation iPod nano have fueled rumors that Apple may add a 1.3-megapixel camera to the device. The supposed leak came on the heels of a separate unverified photo purportedly of an iPod nano frame that emerged in April.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Walmart to close online MP3 store later this month

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Date: Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, 04:11
Category: News, retail, Software

Retail giant Walmart revealed on Tuesday that it will close its MP3 store later this month, even as Apple’s iTunes continues to dominate the digital music industry.

The company declined to provide further details regarding the move, saying only that it was a “business decision,” as noted by the Associated Press. Walmart will close the store on August 29, though customers who have already purchased music through the site will still be able to access their music there.

Walmart opened its MP3 store in 2003 in direct competition with Apple’s iTunes. The digital storefront failed to gain much traction, however, with music sales on iTunes eventually passing Walmart’s combined physical and digital sales in 2008. Apple held 26.7% of all music sales by 2009, more than double Walmart’s 12.54% share.

As of late last year, Apple continued to dominate the digital music market with a 66% share, while second-place Amazon had climbed to 13.3%. Walmart’s share stood at less than 1% at the time.

NPD analyst Marshall Cohen characterized the retail industry as being in flux, noting that Walmart may be better off focusing on what it does best, rather than continuing to deliver a sub-par experience to consumers.

“It is very easy to become antiquated very quickly in the entertainment industry,” he said. “If you are losing ground, and they probably were losing ground more rapidly year after year, it’s probably better to regroup and retool.”

Walmart’s failure with its digital music store has been partially attributed to its choice of format. The company bet on Windows Media Audio, but eventually found itself competing with Microsoft’s own Zune Marketplace while being blocked from Apple’s iPod.

Rumor: iPhone 5 to launch in ‘early to mid-September’

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 07:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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The cool cats at Boy Genius Report are citing that AT&T is beginning preparations for an expected “early to mid-September” launch of the next-generation iPhone, in line with launch rumors and expectations and other reports of Apple beefing up its retail store staffing over a similar timeframe.

BGR has learned that AT&T has begun communicating launch plans internally for Apple’s next-generation iPhone 5 handset, informing employees across the company, and those who work in retail locations, to finish any sort of employee training as soon as possible. AT&T is asking managers to finish training in order to have employees available for the influx of foot traffic expected in September, a proven source has stated.

Apple has been preparing to increase staffing at its retail stores in the United States and United Kingdom, and rumors have suggested that Apple will use its traditional fall iPod media event to introduce the next-generation iPhone this year. That event has typically taken place in early September, although some reports have pushed that date up into late August this year ahead of a September launch for the device. Apple has announced that iOS 5 will debut this “fall”, and that software launch will undoubtedly occur right around the release of the next-generation hardware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: White iPod touch en route for 2011, minor spec updates expected

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 07:51
Category: iPod Touch, Rumor

An update next month to Apple’s flagship digital media player may outfit the device in an additional color but may otherwise represent a rather modest refresh when compared to years past according to AppleInsider.

The iPod, which struck a resurgence that helped place Apple back on the map in 2001, may for the first time take a back seat to the company’s more lucrative and influential devices — such as the iPhone and iPad — when the electronics maker unveils its holiday lineup of iOS devices sometime between mid-August and mid-September.

For years the iPod lifted Apple as its bread-and-butter product but now accounts for a paltry 5% of the company’s revenue, according to data released as part of its fiscal third quarter earnings report this week. The majority of that revenue now comes from the higher-ASP iPod touch, which accounted for more than half of the 7.54 million iPods shipped during the quarter.

Adding a bit more color to the matter are a series of recent industry checks by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPod touch is the only one of Apple’s four iPod product lines that continues to show any semblance of unit growth heading into the second half of the year.

Looking into the current third calendar quarter, Kuo said checks indicate Apple has placed orders for white iPod touch models that are expected to go into mass production sometime in late August, but he added that the build plans for those models reflect few, if any, distinguishable changes from the existing black models introduced last fall.

“It means no spec update of iPod touch this year,” he said.

And while such claims may or may not pan out, it’s worth noting that the same round of checks by the analyst revealed earlier this week that Apple’s production roadmap for its legacy white MacBook appeared to drop off in August, and that no future updates were expected. Within days of those checks, Apple formally discontinued sales of the white MacBook to consumers, relegating the notebook to an education-only product.

Asked why he believes his checks into this year’s iPod touch update will similarly prove accurate, Kuo said it’s all about a priority shift towards the market-leading iPhone and the iPad, which now combine for a whopping 68% of Apple’s sales. Unlike years past when Apple updated the iPhone in the summer, met initial demand, and only then began sharing components with the iPod touch in the fall, this year’s iPhone refresh has been pushed inline with that of the iPod touch.

“[The] iPhone and iPad have higher priority to get shared components of iOS devices when the supply chain is tight (especially after the Japan quake),” Kuo said, suggesting that Apple has such high expectations for the fifth-generation iPhone that it may not be confident it could secure enough components to introduce a similarly-equipped iPod touch around the same time.

For perspective, Apple shipped at least 33 million iOS devices last quarter, struggling to build enough iPads the entire stretch. That quarter included 20 million iPhones, and it wasn’t a new iPhone quarter. The iPhone 4 actually celebrated its first birthday near the end of the 3-month span.

Apple has proven that it can beat at a pace that is sometimes beyond the scalability of its suppliers, and is now pouring billions into those companies to make sure they catch up so it doesn’t have to slow down. In addition to mass production of the iPhone 5 in September, Kuo says Apple has an ambitious but, for those reasons, tentative plan that could see a new iPad enter production only a few months later.

Although the “plan might change,” the analyst’s current checks have a new iPad hitting the manufacturing lines sometime in the fourth quarter. He says, however, that it’s unclear when Apple plans to introduce it to market.

“Component suppliers will start to ship for next iPad in mid 3Q11 and MP date will be in 4Q,” he wrote in a communication to AppleInsider. “The demand forecast is strong and Apple prefers to allocate shared components to iPhone and iPad.” Kuo added that TPK currently acts as the sole source for touch-screens for white iPads but that Wintek will start sharing those duties in September.

The analyst’s checks aside, there’s been little to no evidence thus far to suggest a material update to the iPod touch is near production. No reports have surfaced with talk of parts or supplier contracts for a new model, and even Apple’s own iOS betas are already dropping hints at two versions of an iPad 3 but haven’t turned up mention of a fifth-gen iPod touch. Instead, the last few releases included references (above) to an unreleased “iPod4,2,” which identifies it as a player based on the existing, fourth-gen iPod touch architecture.

Should Apple indeed forgo an architectural revamp of the iPod this year, the advent of a white model could serve to re-energize sales in a move similar to the one that played out a few months ago with the arrival of the white iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked photo shows 7th-generation iPod nano with 1.3 megapixel camera, no attachment clip

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Date: Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, 07:39
Category: iPod, iPod Nano, Pictures

If it’s not the rumors that keep technology interesting, it’s the leaked product photos.

Per tw.apple.pro, additional evidence has surfaced showing that the seventh generation iPod nano will retain its same small form factor and multi-touch screen, but add a camera to the rear side of the diminutive device and strangely ditch the built-in clip.

A picture claimed to show the alleged seventh-generation iPod nano appeared on Monday on the website, the accompanying report claiming that the camera is a low-resolution 1.3 megapixel lens.

Crediting a source named “Ray” from California, the site suggests that the next iPod nano will not include a clip as the current model does. Placing a clip on the back of the device would cover the camera lens on the supposed device.

Tuesday’s picture is not the first report to suggest that Apple could add a camera to its multi-touch iPod nano. In early April, an unverified photo showed an alleged seventh-generation iPod nano frame with space in the back for a rear-facing camera.

The Taiwanese Apple blog has correctly leaked each of the previous six generations of the iPod nano. Last year, they leaked photos of a tiny touchscreen that went on to become the multi-touch display for the sixth-generation iPod nano, released in 2010.

The larger fifth-generation iPod nano, released in 2009, did have a camera, along with the classic-style iPod click wheel. But the camera was ditched in the 2010 model, allowing Apple to create an even smaller device driven by a multi-touch display.

Adding a camera to the iPod nano once again could appease some critics who were disappointed that the feature was removed last year. But removing a clip from the rear of the device would also be a detriment, as the small size and inclusion of an integrated Nike+ pedometer has made the sixth-generation iPod nano a strong choice for use at the gym.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

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

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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.

Rumor: Apple to include camera in 7th-generation iPod nano

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Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 05:44
Category: iPod, photos, Rumor

A recently leaked photo purportedly shows Apple’s seventh-generation iPod nano with a camera hole, though the report remains unverified.

Per Apple.pro (via Google Translate), a leaked of the alleged next-generation iPod nano was posted on Saturday. However, the author of the report was quick to note that he was unable to verify the authenticity of the image.

The author also hedged the report by asserting that the image was posted mainly for the fun of speculation, especially given that the time difference meant it was still April Fools’ Day in America. As such, no outlets have been able to effectively vouch for the veracity of the rumor and is including it here for discussion purposes only.

The report does, however, remind readers that the website has correctly leaked each of the previous six generations of the iPod nano in past years. The author speculates that Apple could follow the same pattern as with the last design of the iPod nano, where a camera was added during the update from the fourth-generation iPod nano to the fifth-generation without major changes to the form factor.

The addition of a camera to the next iPod nano could be an attempt by Apple to appease critics. Some initial reviews of the sixth-generation iPod nano were disappointed by the lack of a camera, noting that Apple had “given and taken away.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Japanese earthquake/tsunami may be leading to lithium supply problems for iPod components

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Date: Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, 08:46
Category: iPod, News

Ya know, they say natural disasters are never good things.

And I believe them.

Apple is reportedly running short of lithium-ion batteries for its iPods as Japanese chemical maker Kureha stuggles to deal with the aftermath of the recent natural disasters to strike the country.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Kureha has a 70% share of the global market for a particular polymer, said to be crucial in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries used by the iPod.

Kureha was forced to shut its factory in Iwaki, close to the epicentre of the recent quake, and is looking to move its production line overseas.

The plant in Kureha is the only place that the polymer is made. The polymer, which is made from resin called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), binds components of the battery together. It is vital to the construction of batteries that are pliable rather than rigid, as they need to be to fit into the small spaces dictated by modern, small designs.

Kureha is reportedly looking to move PVDF production to its existing factories in China or the US, while keeping its research and development plant in Japan. Meanwhile, analysts warned that any mobile gadgets using lithium-ion batteries, including Apple’s iPod, could be affected by the production stoppage.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.