China Unicom Reported to Have Purchased Five Million iPhone Handsets

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Date: Thursday, August 13th, 2009, 10:00
Category: News

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Apple appears to have more-or-less officially gone with China Unicom as its exclusive iPhone wireless carrier and according to an article in International Business Times, the carrier has purchased five million WCDMA iPhones without Wi-Fi from Apple at a price of 10 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion).

China Unicom is slated to begin selling the 3G phones in September at company stalls in Carrefour stores, as well as at several large China Unicom retail outlets. The phones are expected to sell for 2,400 yuan (US$352 as of this writing) for an 8GB model and 4,800 yuan (US$704) for a 16GB iPhone. It’s estimated that Apple’s profit from each sale is about 1,100 yuan (US$161).

The carrier currently faces stiff competition from black market iPhones, which are selling for as low as 400 yuan (US$59) and the article notes that Apple made large concessions to China Unicom in order to enter the massive Chinese market. To give some scale to the size of this sale, Apple reported during the 3Q 2009 conference call with Wall Street analysts that they had sold a total of 5.2 million iPhones in the last quarter.

Apple, China Mobile Apparently Reach Terms Regarding Chinese iPhone Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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After about two years of negotiation, wireless carrier has allegedly landed a three-year contract for the exclusive rights to local iPhone distribution, according to MacNN and a Shanghai Securities News report. The deal, described by unnamed sources, is said to extend for three years and guarantees annual sales of 1 million to 2 million units.
Apple recently acknowledged that bringing the iPhone into the Chinese market held a top priority. The recent report suggests the potential carriers could not come to agree on revenue sharing terms. Soon after the first iPhone was released, sources claimed AT&T was paying between US$150 to US$200 per purchased phone and an additional US$9 for each month of the standard two-year duration of a customer subscription.

Beijing reportedly objected to the idea of revenue sharing, although the carrier has agreed to purchase the devices for 3,000 yuan (~US$439 USD) each. The terms also mandate a minimum overall revenue of at least 5 billion yuan (~US$732 million USD) every year.

China Mobile, with a much larger subscriber base than China Unicom, was also involved in negotiations for the iPhone.

The Chinese iPhone is expected to be customized for the local market, although specific details remain unconfirmed. An anonymous source recently claimed that component provider Foxconn has already begun mass production. The device is said to keep 3G and Bluetooth, while omitting Wi-Fi to comply with local regulations.

Finally, Agence France-Presse has quoted a Unicom spokesman as saying that while the carrier is close to a deal, there are still problems to be negotiated. “Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations,” according to the spokesman. He adds that proper negotiations with Apple began in January, when the Chinese government began issuing 3G licenses.

iPhone OS 3.1 to Support Augmented Reality Applications, New Snow Leopard Seed Distributed

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 04:16
Category: Software

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Recently, Apple released word that its upcoming iPhone OS 3.1 firmware will be the first to officially support augmented reality apps that support the iPhone 3GS’ camera. Such programs would allow for more extended use of the iPhone 3GS’ improved camera and overlay information and controls on top of real-world objects seen through a camera.

Per AppleInsider, iPhone OS 3.1 has so far only been known to expose some video camera controls for developers, third-party producer Acrossair was told by Apple that the future release would be needed for its Nearest Tube and future Nearest Subway apps to work properly.

These applications are already highly dependent on the built-in compass and autofocusing camera of the iPhone 3GS, both of which are needed to alternately recognize the direction the iPhone is facing as well as to get a detailed enough look at a subject to tag it with information. As a demonstration of the technology, Acrossair’s software can show the subway stops visible in a particular direction and their distance relative to the user.

iPhone OS 3.1 is anticipated to be ready by early September, just in time for Apple’s by now yearly iPod updates. The release could also dovetail with the seemingly probable release of an iPod touch with a camera that could take advantage of augmented reality when using Wi-Fi.

On Friday, Apple distributed Mac OS X Snow Leopard build 10A421. The update comes just ten days after 10A411 and is said by people familiar with the changes to be very modest on the surface, including general compatibility, security and stability fixes.

Apple’s increased frequency in providing updated Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) builds is expected with just weeks left before the revision is due to reach stores, as the company will now be looking to isolate and fix the remaining obvious bugs instead of changing functionality.

Apple Applies for Wireless License in China

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Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple may have finally cleared a major hurdle in bringing its iPhone handset to China, as the company has reportedly applied for a Network Access License in the Asian country. The moves could put a release just a few months away, albeit without Wi-Fi.

According to AppleInsider, Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison claims that the application was filed on Friday, July 10th, but doesn’t make any mention of onboard Wi-Fi. Rumors have repeatedly hinted that Apple may be forced to remove Wi-Fi to appease the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which would prefer that iPhone owners use local networks.

Apple has supposedly been “hellbent” on shipping the iPhone to China with Wi-Fi but appears to have relented in order to get the phone into the populous nation.

If the process moves along as usual, this revised iPhone would take between four to six months to receive the green light and go on sale. This would put a launch no later than January, and Mathison seemed confident that the device would arrive before the Chinese New Year, which in 2010 will start in mid-February. Mathison stated that he views the licensing as partly a negotiation tactic that would help bring Apple closer to a deal with China Unicom, the carrier recently pegged as the most likely candidate for an iPhone due to its inherent compatibility with the iPhone’s existing 3G standards.

While it’s rare to have an estimate that narrows the release window for an iPhone in China, whether or not this latest prediction is accurate remains debatable. Local carriers have been in talks with Apple since at least late 2007, and one-time favorite China Mobile has often tried making multiple special requests that have likely stalled hopes for a quick agreement, such as demanding that the American company either use the government-backed TD-SCDMA standard for 3G or cede control of the App Store.

Apple has so far only stated that it wants to have the iPhone in China within the next year and has been silent on the progress of negotiations.

iPhone OS 3.0 Users Reporting Difficulties with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Connections

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Date: Monday, July 13th, 2009, 04:46
Category: iPhone, Software

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As nifty as iPhone OS 3.0 may be, there may be some issues to sort out. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS handsets are reported to have wireless connectivity issues that, in over fourteen Apple Discussion threads and over six hundred messages, have placed the blame for this issue on iPhone OS 3.0.

The problem, verified by many, states that when updating to the new software, Wi-Fi connectivity on the iPhone 3G either decreased or vanished entirely. Those who were used to getting full bars of Wi-Fi connectivity now experience markedly less bars. Worse, even if some signal strength bars are displayed, often there is no Internet connectivity.

Many solutions have been proposed including resetting the router, changing settings (seemingly at random), and even putting the 3G in the freezer:

“Also i might note, I turned off wifi, turned off the phone, put it in the freezer (in a bag) for 10 mins, turned the phone back on, put the phone right next to my wifi antenna and then turned on wifi and it joined, it JUST joined and I couldnt believe it,” says one forum poster. Several others report similar results, but this fix did not last long. In fact, blog posts have been written about possible solutions, but none of them seemed to pan out after using Wi-Fi for a short period of time.

Replacement iPhones have been circulated through Apple Stores, though this didn’t seem to fix the problem either.

A lesser yet still present problem reported in the Discussions is a lack of Bluetooth connectivity in conjunction with the lack of Wi-Fi. It seems that losing Bluetooth for those affected is a package deal with Wi-Fi.

Apple is reported to be well aware of this problem and as time goes on and the number affected increases, Apple Stores are acknowledging the problem and replacing phones, albeit without a solid set of solutions at the moment.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple Revises iTunes Store Terms and Conditions

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Date: Thursday, June 18th, 2009, 18:20
Category: Legal, News

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If you’re fond of reading the small print, this is for you.

Per Macworld UK, Apple has updated the iTunes terms and conditions with the release of yesterday’s iPhone OS 3.0 Software Update.

The changes reflect the ability to download movies, TV shows, music videos, and audiobooks from the iTunes Store on your iPhone or iPod touch. Downloads over 10MB require a Wi-Fi connection and downloading a full-length film on your iPhone could prove problematic if Wi-Fi connection is lost as Apple notes:

“Interrupted Delivery to iPod or iPhone. If delivery of a Product you purchased or rented (as applicable) using Wi-Fi on an iPod or iPhone is interrupted, your transaction will be included in your download queue. You may resume the delivery to your Apple-authorized device by selecting “Check for Purchases” from the Store menu in the iTunes application on your computer, or the download section on your iPod touch or iPhone.”

Click here for the full terms and conditions, although it basically sets the new parameters for shopping for larger content on the go and the sticking points to this.

Apple Announces iPhone 3G S, Unit to Be Available June 17th

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Date: Monday, June 8th, 2009, 16:09
Category: iPhone, News

During the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address, Apple unveiled a new model of its iPhone handset, the iPhone 3G S.
“The ‘S’ stands for speed,” stated Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, during the keynote.
Per AppleInsider, the new handset retails for US$199 for the 16GB version and US$299 for a 32GB model. Apple is cutting the price on the current iPhone 3G handset to US$99 for the 8GB phone.
The iPhone 3G S to be available in the U.S. on June 19th and go on sale in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland on June 19th. Apple has stated that the handset will launch in six more countries, with more launches to come in July and August.


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Despite a similar external appearance to the iPhone 3G model, the iPhone 3G S offers a 3. megapixel camera that lets you control the focus either by tapping on the screen or using the autofocus feature. In addition, the iPhone’s new camera captures video in addition to still photos.
A new “tap to focus” feature allows users to select an object or area of interest and the camera automatically re-adjusts focus and exposure. You can record high-quality video clips and edit them right on your iPhone 3G S by simply trimming the start and stop points and send photos and video by email or MMS and post them to MobileMe or YouTube with just one tap.
The unit also includes a voice-control feature to allow users to speak commands for applications on the phone. Accessibility improvements include VoiceOver support for reading to users and the ability to zoom in on the phone’s display for larger icons.
The iPhone 3G S also includes hardware encryption while other features within the iPhone OS 3.0 firmware include a “Find Your iPhone” feature as well as a remote wipe tool wherein personal information and backups can be readily destroyed as needed.
Apple has also promised improved battery life with the iPhone 3G S, the new phone offering nine hours of Internet access on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video, 30 hours of audio playback, 12 hours of 2G talk time, and five hours of 3G talk time.
The company also touted the environmental friendliness of its new handset, Apple noting that it reduced packaging for the phone by 23% as well as making the iPhone 3G S arsenic-free glass and a mercury-free LCD as well as free of brominated flame retardant (BFR) and PVC.
Other features announced during Monday’s keynote include a built-in digital compass, and support for the Nike+ fitness accessory.
The iPhone 3G S will ship with iPhone OS 3.0, which provides access to over 100 features such as such as Cut, Copy and Paste, MMS, Spotlight Search, landscape keyboard and more.

E3: Sony Introduces PSP Go Portable Game System

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Date: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009, 09:15
Category: News

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Sony on Tuesday announced the release of its new mobile system known as the PSP go, a long-rumored PlayStation Portable system withe a smaller form factor. According to Macworld UK, the device is specifically designed for users interested in downloading games and videos. The device is planned for an October release in North America, Europe and Asia and will retail for US$249.
The PSP go measures 5.04″ x 0.65″ x 2.72″ and weighs 5.6 ounces. The device retains a 16:9 aspect ratio display that measures 3.8″ and 480 x 272 pixels, the same resolution as other PSP models, albeit smaller). Despite the rumors, the device lacks a touchscreen interface, unlike the iPhone or iPod touch.
The 3.8-inch TFT display slides upward to reveal control surfaces, much like a smartphone. Instead of a QWERTY keyboard you’ll find a directional pad, specialized buttons, a small analog thumbstick and start and select buttons.
Sony has also removed the Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical drive from the PSPgo, emphasizing the unit’s suitability for digital entertainment content transferred from the PlayStation 3 or directly over the PlayStation Network.
The PSP go also features built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi and support for Bluetooth 2.0 wireless peripherals, including headphones, headsets and PS3 wireless controllers. The device can be attached to a television or home entertainment system so you can watch videos stored in the unit and boasts 16GB of built-in flash memory, along with a Memory Stick Micro flash storage card slot that can be used to further expand the unit’s storage capacity.

Equity Firm’s Report Points Toward Two Architecturally Unique iPhones in Development

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Date: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009, 08:53
Category: iPhone

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A report released by little-known equity research firm Lazard Capital Markets could points towards two architecturally distinct models of iPhone being developed for release this year.
“Our checks confirm that two versions of iPhones will be introduced this year,” Lazard Capital Markets semiconductors analyst Daniel Amir wrote in the opening paragraph of the report. “Production of the new phones should start at the beginning of April and will ramp in May.”
According to AppleInsider, the analyst stated that both models are likely to be introduced in June, one being a “high-end” model while the other represents a “low-end” version.
Unlike analyst reports earlier this year, which suggested Apple was developing a scaled down iPhone in addition to a new high-end model as part of a volume play, Amir said he believes the two models will target different geographical regions rather than different classes of consumers.
“We believe it is possible that the two phones will be aimed at different regions,” he wrote. “The high-end version is expected in North America and Europe, and the low-end version may be for the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India, and China] or China only.”
Amir suggested that the high-end version will have video capability, a better camera and 32GB of storage. Tthe low-end version will include less storage, no video functions, and possibly lack Wi-Fi (a move which could potentially cater to the demands of Chinese wireless carriers).
Last fall, stories emerged that wireless carrier China Mobile had asked Apple to supply iPhone handsets with both Wi-Fi and 3G features disabled.
In addition, various code strings present in the first external beta of iPhone OS 3.0 have been titled “iPhone 2,2″ and “iPhone 3,1″. Apple makes changes to the first numeral in these kind of identifier strings to distinguish products from their predecessors or family members only when there’s a significant architectural difference between the two.
Within the report, Amir also told clients that iPhone shipments for the first calendar quarter of the year ending tomorrow could come in as high as 4 million thanks to record shipments for the month of March.
“Our checks suggest that March iPhone shipments have been much stronger than previously expected and may reach 1.5 million units, which is the highest level over the past five months,” he said. “Total iPhone shipments in [first quarter of 2009] are therefore tracking slightly higher than Street expectations of 3-3.5 million units and could reach 3.8 to 4 million units.”
The analyst then went on to suggest that second quarter shipments could surge as high as eight million units.
“April shipments, including both the current and new versions of the iPhone, could increase 40%-50% month-over-month, and be up another 20%-30% month-over-month in May,” he wrote. “Accounting for the new versions of the iPhone shipping in April, total iPhone shipments in [the second quarter] could reach 7-8 million units, which equates to approximately 3-4 times last year’s shipments during the same period.”
If you have anything to add to this, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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Skype for iPhone Expected Tomorrow

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Date: Monday, March 30th, 2009, 06:33
Category: iPhone, Software

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Months after an initial preview at CES in Las Vegas, Skype for iPhone is expected to hit Apple’s App Store sometime tomorrow.
According to C|NET, which was able to sit down and play with the application, the program will sport standard features generally found in mobile applications as well as a few iPhone-only perks.
For starters, the screens are well organized and use the iPhone’s ability to add filters, for instance, to sort your contacts alphabetically, or by who’s online. The application also allows for chatting and a relatively cheap per-minute fee to landlines. The application only allows calls if you’re in range of a Wi-Fi network and calls will not work over the cell phone network on the iPhone (but chatting will.) Assuming your connection is solid, you can dial a number or quickly call a contacts stored in your address book. iPod Touch users will need earphones with an embedded mic to talk. During a call, users can mute the line, go on hold, or put the call on speakerphone.
The current build of the program can accept incoming conference calls. While you won’t be able to initiate a call, users will be able to jump on one if a buddy invites you in.
Features missing from the first release of the app on the iPhone include SMS, setting up a conference calling group, purchasing SkypeOut credit directly, and being able to field a second incoming Skype call are a few as well as file transferring and getting Skype voicemail.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think of Skype on the iPhone in the comments or forums.

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