Apple lowers price of refurbished Apple TV units to $75

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 13:02
Category: Apple TV, News, retail

A little competition sometimes brings out a decent price.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has lowered the price of its refurbished Apple TV units to US$75, knocking 25 percent off the price of a new model.

The price drop could reflect Apple’s reaction to Google’s salvo against the Apple TV, which currently rules the roost among streaming devices. The refurbished model is now just over twice the price of Google’s Chromecast, but it also comes with a 1-year Apple warranty and a much wider feature set than Google’s streaming device.

Most recently, Apple added iTunes music purchasing to its set-top box, and a number of video apps have added AirPlay streaming capabilities over the last few months. Also, users may soon be able to use a touch to configure option to automatically set up their Apple TV devices in the near future.

Inside, the refurbished model has an Apple A5 processor, and it is compatible with high-definition televisions with HDMI and capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz. It can be purchased directly from Apple, with the refurbished device shipping within 24 hours. Depending on a customer’s location, it may also be available for in-store pickup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Q3 2013 numbers, cites $35.3 billion in revenue, $6.9 billion profit

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Finance, News, retail

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There wasn’t massive growth, but the numbers were still good.

Per Macworld, Apple reported sales of US$35.3 billion, with net profit at US$6.9 billion for its third fiscal quarter. That translated to earnings of US$7.47 per diluted share. Apple’s revenue marked a record for the June quarter, ticking up 1 percent from the $35 billion Apple posted in last year’s third quarter. Still, profits fell 22 percent year-over-year, down from US$8.88 billion in 2012. Apple also reported a drop in profit during its fiscal second quarter of 2013.

With a tiny increase in revenue but a drop in profit, you’d rightly conclude that Apple’s gross margin dropped: For the quarter, it was 36.9 percent, versus 42.8 percent on the year-ago quarter. That’s because Apple’s most popular products now have lower margins than the top-sellers a year ago.

The company also says it has issued US$18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

While Apple generally keeps a tight lid on future product announcement, company officials did reiterate a point made during its second-quarter earnings announcement in April—that the company plans to roll out new products starting this fall and into the next year. “We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products,” CEO Tim Cook said in an statement accompanying Apple’s earnings announcement.”

Apple says it sold 32.2 million iPhones—a record for the June quarter. That’s up from 26 million iPhones in the year-ago period. For the U.S., iPhone sales rose 51 percent year-over-year, Apple says.

The picture was less rosy for iPad sales, but Apple has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the 14 percent drop in tablet sales from last year’s third quarter. A year ago, Apple introduced the third-generation iPad and enjoyed a full quarter’s worth of sales to the tune of 17 million units. This quarter, sales fell to 14.6 million iPads.

Still, Apple has plenty of reason to remain bullish on the iPad. Company chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that the iPad ranked tops in a 2013 U.S. tablet satisfaction survey by JD Power and Associates. And during the quarter, the company inked a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S., to roll out iPads to 640,000 students.

In fact, the iPad got the bulk of the credit for a strong quarter of sales to U.S. schools. According to Oppenheimer, the last three months generated the highest quarterly revenue ever for Apple’s U.S. education institution business.

Mac sales also fell in the quarter, down 7 percent from last year to 3.8 million units. Still, Oppenheimer pointed out that the 3.8 million Macs sold beat Apple’s own expectations. And Apple’s sales still were ahead of the total PC market, which saw sales contract by 11 percent according to estimates from research firm IDC. By Apple’s math, the Mac gained market share during the quarter.

The Mac was one of the few product lines to see any changes during the quarter, with Apple updating its MacBook Air lineup at the beginning of June by adding new Intel processors. Company executives had little to say about any impact those new laptops had on overall Mac sales, but Oppenheimer did call it the most successful MacBook Air launch to date, adding that customer response was great.

But during the call, executives implied that there were better things to come. Oppenheimer noted that June’s Worldwide Developers Conference included previews of both the Mac Pro and the next version of OS X, code-named Mavericks.

The iTunes Stores—which includes the App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore, and the music, movies, and TV sections of iTunes—generated $4.3 billion in billings, Oppenheimer said, culminating in the best week and best month ever for App Store. That translated to quarterly revenue of US$2.4 billion, up 29 percent year over year. Total quarterly revenue from iTunes, software, and services generated US$4 billion in revenue.

Oppenheimer said that Apple now has over 320 million iCloud accounts, and 240 million Game Center accounts.

As for brick-and-mortar retail efforts, the Apple Store saw revenue of US$4.1 billion for the quarter, virtually unchanged from the year-ago quarter. Oppenheimer reported that Apple saw 16,000 visitors per store each week.

For the quarter, Apple had an average of 405 stores, with average revenue per store at US$10.1 million, down US$1 million from the year-ago quarter. Apple opened six stores across five countries during the quarter, giving it 408 stores around the globe; 156 of those outlets are outside the U.S.

The company plans to open nine new stores during the September quarter, giving it 27 new openings during the 2013 fiscal year. It’s not just about new stores, however: Apple says that it relocated four of its stores to more appealing spots; it will complete 23 such relocations before the end 2013 fiscal year in September.

Where stockholders are concerned, the company’s Board of Directors has announced another cash dividend, this one at US$3.05 per share of common stock, payable on August 15 to any shareholder as of August 12.

For the next quarter, Apple is predicting revenue between US$34 billion and US$37 billion, with gross margins between 36 and 37 percent. That sales figure would put Apple’s performance in line with the US$36 billion in revenue it reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the coming quarter, Apple also predicts operating expenses will be between US$3.9 billion and US$3.95 billion, with a tax rate of 26.5 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches Back to School promotion, throws in $50 and $100 iTunes gift cards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:49
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, retail

Never look a back to school promotion in the mouth.

Per the Mac Observer, Apple kicked off its annual Back to School deals on Tuesday for educational buyers and includes iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore gift cards worth up to US$100 with new Mac, iPhone and iPad purchases. The special deals are available now and run through September 6, 2013.


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The offer reads as follows:
“Buy a Mac for college and get a $100 gift card to spend on apps and more — and also save with education pricing. Or buy an iPad or iPhone and get a $50 card.
Qualifying products include Macs other than the Mac mini, plus the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and the iPad 2, fourth generation iPad, and iPad mini.”

Not a bad thing and where a US$50 or US$100 iTunes gift card are concerned, it’s hard to go wrong there.

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.4 update

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Date: Thursday, June 6th, 2013, 06:46
Category: News, Software

These updates/bug fixes are getting a bit more common.

Not that that’s a bad thing.

On Wednesday, Apple released version 11.0.4 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 196.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- New MiniPlayer. MiniPlayer now includes a beautiful new view that showcases your album artwork. In addition, a progress bar is now built right into MiniPlayer.

- Improved Songs View. You can now enjoy your album artwork while in Songs view.

- Multi-Disc Albums. Albums with multiple discs now appear as a single album.

- Fixes a problem that may cause iTunes to quit if you switch between wired and wireless syncing.

- Addresses an issue that may require you to log into the iTunes Store repeatedly.

iTunes 11.0.4 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.3 update

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Date: Friday, May 17th, 2013, 05:14
Category: News, Software

It’s not the biggest update in the world, but it might make a difference.

Late Thursday, Apple released version 11.0.3 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 197.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- New MiniPlayer. MiniPlayer now includes a beautiful new view that showcases your album artwork. In addition, a progress bar is now built right into MiniPlayer.

- Improved Songs View. You can now enjoy your album artwork while in Songs view.

- Multi-Disc Albums. Albums with multiple discs now appear as a single album.

iTunes 11.0.3 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Best Buy offers discounts on MacBook Air, iTunes gift cards, iPhone 4S handsets

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 9th, 2013, 06:22
Category: iPhone, MacBook Air, News, retail

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If you’re looking for something to get mum for Mother’s Day, this could come in handy.

Per 9to5Mac, Best Buy is discounting US$125 off the price of MacBook Airs for the next three days to celebrate Mother’s Day. The retailer knocks off US$100 across the board, then using code MOM25 knocks off another US$25.

Prices after discount:
- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/64GB: US$874.99

- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$974.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$1074.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/256GB: US$1274.99

Best Buy is also offering a US$100 iTunes gift cad for US$85. Those interested in an iPhone 4S can pick one up for $50 with contract.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen some Mother’s Day tech sales of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6.1.4 update for iPhone 5 handsets

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Date: Friday, May 3rd, 2013, 07:09
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

This might come in handy.

Lat Thursday, Apple released iOS 6.1.4, a 107 megabyte download offering the following fixes for its iPhone 5 handsets:

- Updated audio profile for speakerphone.

iOS 6.1.3 is available via iTunes or Over-The-Air updating and requires an iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, iPad 2, third or fourth-gen iPad, iPod Touch 4th Gen or iPad Mini to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Delicious Library updated to 3.0

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 06:16
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, software company Delicious Monster released version 3.0 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The new version, an 81 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Major New Features:
- Fully 3D cover view.

- All items are drawn in full 3D [industry first], with multiple light sources and normal, reflection, and environment maps.

- Books are rendered at actual thickness based on page count.

- Live lighting changes as items are selected.

- Shadows draw dynamically behind all items.

- Many gorgeous woods to choose from for shelves.

- New “Recommended” pane.

- Makes smart recommendations by considering everything the user owns and has ever rated.

- User can now rate items they don’t own to improve recommendations (using search widget).

- Recommended items that user’s friends own have badges so they can be easily borrowed.

- Add recommended items to the wishlist with a single click.

- New “Wishlist” pane.

- New Flexible Smart shelves.

- New global search.

- Displays results in a table/popover like iTunes 11.

- Searches through user’s collection, friends’ collections, and online.

- Can be used to find existing items or new ones.

- Can be used to rate items user doesn’t own but has opinions on.

- User can also search by speaking or selecting a cover color.

- New iOS barcode scanner app.

- New interactive charts mode.

Preferences
- Entire UI redesigned to be bookshelf-centric.

- Show covers, a table, or charts using buttons at upper left of the window.

- Switch between owned items, recommended items, and wishlist items at the upper center.

- Find existing or new items in search widget at the upper right.

- Switch between media types with buttons at the lower left.

- Change sorting at the bottom middle.

- Show and hide auxilliary right pane using button at the lower right.

- Source list is hidden by default but available for advanced users.

Medium-sized New Features:
- We’ve eliminated the “Preferences” panel–all options are set where they are actually used, instead of in a single global panel.

- iTunes books will be read into Delicious Library 3 when iTunes is launched.

- Two new Amazon stores are now accessible: Italy and Spain.

Popover Details:
- Dates entered manually remember their precision, so if the user specifies “Jan, 2000″ for a book’s release date, it won’t switch it to “Jan 1, 2000.” However, dates are still formatted according to the user’s localization settings in System Preferences.

- When editing multi-line fields, the “return” key goes to a new line as users expect (no need to figure out “option-return”).

Sorting:
- User’s favorite sorts are remembered and can be re-applied anywhere.

- Improved per-language article-stripping; e.g., ignoring “a, an, the” in English, “der, die, das” in German.

Publishing:
- Now remembers multiple places; e.g., set up publishing both to Dropbox and FTP site
Live preview the generated web pages.

- Privacy options moved to publishing shelves.

Printing:
- Added “Compact” template to minimize paper use.

- Added “Insurance” template to show fields insurance companies care about in the event of theft.

- Interface cleaned up so template selection is obvious.

Scanning history:
- User’s last 500 added items are shown above scanner window for easy rating or deleting.

- Provides context if a book isn’t found online so it can be entered manually.

- Import from another library.

- Import libraries from other machines without removing current items.

- Importing the same library twice applies the changes but doesn’t duplicate items.

- Can be used to easily sync libraries between computers.

- Multiple people can scan in items on multiple computers, then merge all the items into one collection.

- Importing is now undoable.

Friends:
- Loans now appear in friends’ sidebars instead of in main bookshelf view, to reduce confusion.

- Send loan reminder e-mails with a single click.

- Friends can be re-ordered in source list. If friends are dragged into a sorted order, they’ll stay in that order automatically.

Help:
- The “Search:” field in the main menu’s Help searches our online forums for relevant answers.

Tiny New Features:
- When user first launches the app, most panes explain why they are empty and what to do.

- All item types from Amazon are supported (user prompted for the type if item is from a store we don’t recognize).

- More descriptive titles for most menu items; e.g., “Delete 4 Books” or “Delete Shelf” instead of “Delete”.

- Added expand-on-hover, so if titles or authors are ever drawn truncated they can still be read.

- Cover view responds to some EMACS keybindings for selection movement.

- Items can be dragged from and to more places.

- Items can be dragged to the trash can to delete.

- User can copy media with command-C and paste into text areas or URL-taking places.

New Features from OS X:
- Scene Kit: for fast, gorgeous, interactive 3D graphics

- Sharing Services: tweet, iMessage, Facebook, or e-mail items to friends

- SQLite write-ahead logging: user’s database can no longer be corrupted if machine crashes

- Full-screen mode: added and optimized

- New drag architecture: multiple items can be dragged in or out at once

- Spotlight: Library items are written to Spotlight, can be found quickly in the global Spotlight search pane (command-space) with structured queries like “media:book color:blue” (standard Spotlight keys include: kMDItemAlbum, kMDItemComposer, kMDItemContentCreationDate, kMDItemDirector, kMDItemGenre, kMDItemMediaTypes, kMDItemPerformers, kMDItemRecordingDate, and kMDItemMediaTypes).

- QuickLook: Spotlight items (or media dragged onto the desktop) are viewable in QuickLook with full-color covers and complete descriptions.

- Retina graphics: high-resolution graphics used throughout.

- State restoration: Delicious Library opens up exactly as it was last closed.

- 64-bit: for unlimited memory, and because it’s faster.

- Obj-C 2 runtime: faster, future-proof.

- ARC: eliminates certain categories of crash bugs.

- Constraints-based layout: makes the layout of all buttons and text much more natural
NSSupportsSuddenTermination: quits instantly when it’s safe.

- If it’s not safe to quit, user can force quit if there’s a long operation in progress, or the app will auto-quit when long operation is over.

- Automatic termination: can automatically quit under memory pressure.

- Power assertions: the machine won’t idle-sleep during long operations (publishing, importing, etc.)

Some Bugs Fixed:
- Deleting thousands of items (and undoing that deletion) is now close to instant instead of taking minutes.

Friends:
- Friends’ libraries now download in the background, NOT blocking the program from running. Yay.

- Friends’ libraries aren’t re-downloaded every launch but only if the friend has changed something.

- Friends’ libraries are imported MUCH more quickly.

- If friends are removed from Contacts, the app doesn’t forget their names.

- Undoing the deletion of a friend restores items loaned to that friend.

- Adding a new friend doesn’t spam Google when automatically searching for the friend’s published library.

- Adding friends is undoable.

Delicious Library 3.0 retails for US$40 and requires OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple begins incorporating “Download Later” for larger purchases in iTunes 11

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 07:37
Category: iTunes, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per Macworld, Apple added a welcome tweak to large media purchases initiated either via the mobile iTunes Store or iTunes 11. Users attempting to download large media files such as movies or music box sets are presented a prompt enabling them to commence the download immediately or save it for a time when they presumably have better bandwidth.

When purchasing any of the above items using iTunes 11 on a Mac or Windows PC, or an iOS device running iOS 6 or later, you’re now presented with “Later” and “Download” (or “Download All”) buttons. Tap “Later” and the purchased items will be added to your iTunes account and accessible to stream or download in the future via Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud feature.

The option to “download later” is exclusively applicable to TV seasons, Season Passes, movie bundles, music box sets, individual movies and TV episodes.

Apple outlines the specifics of the new software tweak in the following updated support document. Lastly, note that the prompt will only appear for users in countries where Apple provides iTunes in the Cloud support.

If you’ve seen this change on your end and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple receives patent for offline purchasing system

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013, 07:46
Category: iOS, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Patents, Software

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Ok, this is interesting.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday was awarded a patent for an offline purchasing system that would allow iTunes users to buy music, movies and other media when not connected to the internet.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,417,575 for “On-device offline purchases using credits,” which describes a system involving the purchase of offline credits stored on a given device that can be put toward media in the iTunes store even when not connected to the online marketplace.

Currently, iTunes users must be logged in or have an internet connection to successfully purchase and download content from the online storefront, but Tuesday’s patent lays the groundwork for a type of “pre-loaded” payment system. Beyond the obvious applications for on-the-go iPod touch users and perhaps frequent travelers, the patent could be a harbinger of new never before seen iTunes functionality.

According to Apple, the proposed service involves media stored on an electronic device, like an iPhone or iPod touch, that is not part of the user’s owned library. If a user wants to buy a track, but cannot connect to the Internet to provide a means of payment, they can use pre-paid credits previously purchased through the store and subsequently loaded onto the device. Once a data network is accessed, the appropriate deductions are made to a user’s on-board credit allotment.

Users can add credits to their device accounts either through the device itself or what appears to be a specialized portal on the desktop version of iTunes, along with other options. Multiple forms of payment are accepted, including credit cards, bank accounts and other digitally connected assets a user links to their online profile.

As noted by the patent, in order to play back a purchased song or movie, a device must first have a copy of said media item, as well as authorization to play back the content. The device can retrieve copies of “unauthorized” media in any number of ways, including recommendations downloaded from the media store. Carrying on with the recommendation example, the device can restrict access to the content in any number of ways until authorization, or a purchase, has been detected. In some instances, the media might be played back at a lower quality, or there could be a limit to how many times a track is played.

The locally-stored media can be displayed in a variety of arrangements, including a layout similar to the existing iTunes iOS app, making browsing and buying new content easy. Once a user makes a selection, they can purchase the locally stored media with the credits they bought in advance, which will remove the restrictions previously imposed on the content. In other words, the authorization and playback transaction would be fully completed offline.

The property could be a boon for iTunes users who don’t have ready access to the Internet and, if made real, would likely drive sales for the digital music giant. Specific implementations were not thoroughly discussed, though Apple already has iTunes Match, which allows users iCloud access to their entire music collection, even tracks imported from CDs, for a yearly fee. While mere speculation, further cloud computing integration could bring even more tie-ins with the offline purchasing service, such as music sharing or gifting.

It remains unknown if and when Apple plans to roll out the offline crediting functionality, but the device-specific solution could theoretically be implemented with a firmware update as no hardware limitations were described in the patent.

Apple’s offline purchasing patent was first filed for in 2010 and credits Taido Nakajima, Tyler Mincey, Gloria Lin and Joey Darragh as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.