Rumour: Apple iWatch to launch this year

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Mar 042013


Rumours that Apple is working on a wearable device refuse to die down. A team of over 100 people led by none other than Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, is now hard at work on this so-called iWatch. Bloomberg today reports that Apple is looking to have the device out this year. The Verge corroborates the report, adding additional details as well.

The iWatch remains in development at this time. Rather than leveraging the iPod nano’s touch interface, Apple is reportedly adapting its iOS operating system to work on the watch. Battery life also remains a concern with Apple hoping to have the iWatch last up to five days between charges but only managing about 2 so far.

Features that Apple could give its iWatch include the ability to let users make calls, check map coordinates as well as typical phone capabilities such as call display. It could also include a pedometer and sensors to track health-related information such as heart rate.

Apple expects that the iWatch could be more profitable than its other much-anticipated project, an iTV. Gross margins for the global watch industry average about 60 percent. While Apple may not see similar profits, it would still benefit from significant ones. According to Citigroup Inc. analyst Oliver Chen, this could be a US$6 billion opportunity for Apple with plenty of opportunity for upside if they create something totally new like they did with the iPod — something consumers didn’t even know they needed.”

Is an iWatch or similar gadget in your future? Sound off below.

Read more: Bloomberg and The Verge

Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 spotted at supplier?

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Feb 082013

The rumoured Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 are the topic of rumour again. According to a post on the Chinese Sina Weibo microblogging site, both devices were apparently spotted at an Apple supplier in China. Pictures were not allowed for fear that they would later be leaked (fancy that!).

According to the person who saw both devices, the iPhone 5S is described as very similar to the iPhone 5 while the iPhone 6 is wider, longer and thinner. The Google translation is not very clear but appears to suggest that the iPhone 6 could sport a 5-inch display. Past rumours have indicated that Apple was working on a new iPhone with a larger display. Could the iPhone 6 be none other than the mysterious “iPhone Math” with its 4.8-inch display?

The report adds that both devices should launch this year but gives no specific details. Earlier rumours have suggested that the iPhone 5S may come out in the March-July timeframe with a second model to follow later in the year. Apple could also release a third model but was not mentioned in this latest rumour.

Read more: CNET

Apple iTunes Store sells 25 billionth song

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Feb 062013

Apple today announced that it has now sold over 25 billion songs through its iTunes Store.

“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Averaging over 15,000 songs downloaded per minute, the iTunes Store connects music fans with their favorite artists, including global sensations like Adele and Coldplay and new artists like The Lumineers, on a scale we never imagined possible.”

The 25 billionth song, “Monkey Drums” (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch, was purchased by Phillip Lüpke from Germany. Apple gave him a €10,000 iTunes gift card to celebrate the event.

The iTunes Store has a catalog of over 26 million songs. It is now available in 119 countries

Read more: Apple

Record tablet shipments in Q4 2012

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Feb 022013

Worldwide tablet shipments set another record in the last quarter of 2012. According to IDC, 52.5 million tablets were shipped over the quarter, an impressive 75.3% increase over the same quarter a year ago and a 74.3% increase over the previous quarter. Apple continued to dominate but its overall market share fell again as Android tablets continued to make gains.

“We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn’t disappoint,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets, at IDC. “New product launches from the category’s top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season. The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years.”

Vendor 4Q12 Unit Shipments 4Q12 Market Share 4Q11 Unit Shipments 4Q11 Market Share Year-over-year Change
Apple 22.9 43.6% 15.5 51.7% 48.1%
Samsung 7.9 15.1% 2.2 7.3% 263.0% Inc. 6.0 11.5% 4.7 15.9% 26.8%
ASUS 3.1 5.8% 0.6 2.0% 402.3%
Barnes & Noble 1.0 1.9% 1.4 4.6% -27.7%
Others 11.6 22.1% 5.5 18.5% 108.9%
Total 52.5 100% 29.9 100% 75.3%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, January 31, 2013 (preliminary data)

Microsoft’s entry into the tablet space with the Surface RT did not crack the top five. IDC estimated that just under 900,000 units were shipped and that Microsoft could expect the market to remain challenging.

“There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company’s Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best,” said Ryan Reith, program manager, Mobile Device Trackers at IDC. “We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices. In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes.”

Overall, the tablet landscape appears much as the smartphone one does: Apple and Samsung dominating with everyone else scrambling to make a dent.

Read more: IDC

Apple announces 128GB fourth-generation iPad

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Jan 292013

Apple iPad (4th gen)Apple today announced a new 128GB version of its fourth-generation iPad with Retina display. Like its smaller siblings, it will be available in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular options.

“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”

The 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi will sell for US$799 and the 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular for US$929. Both will be available starting on February 5th in black or white.

Read more: Apple

Apple releases iOS 6.1

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Jan 282013

AppleApple today released iOS 6.1 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The 99.6MB update includes unspecified bug fixes as well as the following enhancements:

  • LTE support for more carriers (a full list is available at
  • Purchase movie tickets through Fandango via Siri (USA only)
  • iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual songs from iCloud
  • New button to reset the Advertising Identifier

“iOS 6 is the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, and with nearly 300 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices on iOS 6 in just five months, it may be the most popular new version of an OS in history,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iOS 6.1 brings LTE support to more markets around the world, so even more users can enjoy ultrafast Safari browsing, FaceTime video calls, iCloud services, and iTunes and App Store downloads.”

To download the update Over-the-Air, select Settings > General > Software Update.

Read more: Apple

First components for iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 spotted?

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Jan 282013

If recent rumours are to be believed, Apple is, for the first time ever, readying to launch more than one iPhone model this year. As many as three different models could be in the works including the iPhone 5S, the iPhone Math with a larger 4.8-inch display, and a third model. Now, pictures of one of the components headed into at least two of these have allegedly surfaced. In themselves, they reveal little but their somewhat different designs suggest that there are indeed different models coming (or Apple is playing wit different prototypes).

The images obtained by French blog show speaker components that are allegedly headed to the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 6. In the image below, the iPhone 5S speaker is on the left and the iPhone 6’s on the right:

Rumoured iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 speaker component

The Apple iPhone 5S would likely be an updated version of the iPhone 5, looking quite similar to it but with upgraded components (possibly including a 12MP camera). The iPhone 6 would be a completely new version.

The report adds that the first model will launch sometime between March and July. A second one would then launch late in the year. It’s not clear from the report when the third, the iPhone Math, would be released (earlier rumours suggested it would launch along the iPhone 5S in June).

We’ll continue to follow the story and see it takes us.

Read more: (in French) [Google translation] (Source: CNET)

Samsung and Apple account for half of smartphone market in Q4 2012

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Jan 252013

The smartphone market continued to show impressive growth in Q4 2012 with 219.4 million units shipped in the quarter, a growth of 36.4% over the same quarter a year ago. They also accounted for 45.5% of all mobile phone shipments, which themselves topped 1.7 billion units.

Samsung and Apple together now account for 50.8% of the smartphone market (up from a mere 45.5% only a quarter ago). Samsung set new records for number of smartphones shipped in a quarter and in a single year while Apple benefited from strong sales especially in China and the U.S. Up in third for the first time in its history is Huawei. Sony and ZTE held down fourth and fifth respectively with strong growth numbers. Out of the top five are RIM and HTC.

“The high-growth smartphone market, though dominated by Samsung and Apple, still presents ample opportunities for challengers,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Vendors with unique market advantages, such as lower-cost devices, can rapidly gain market share, especially in emerging markets. A good example is Huawei, which overtook LG as a Top 5 vendor in the overall mobile phone market and passed HTC to become a Top 5 smartphone vendor.”

Vendor 4Q12 Unit Shipments 4Q12 Market Share 4Q11 Unit Shipments 4Q11 Market Share Year-over-year Change
Samsung 63.7 29.0% 36.2 22.5% 76.0%
Apple 47.8 21.8% 37.0 23.0% 29.2%
Huawei 10.8 4.9% 5.7 3.5% 89.5%
Sony 9.8 4.5% 6.3 3.9% 55.6%
ZTE 9.5 4.3% 6.4 4.0% 48.4%
Total 209.4 100% 160.8 100% 36.4%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, January 24, 2013

In the overall mobile phone space for Q4 2012, Samsung continued to hold first place with a 23.0% market share. Nokia held on to second with a 17.9% share, followed by Apple, ZTE and Huawei respectively. LG dropped out of the top five.

It will be interesting to see what 2013 changes will bring. Will we see RIM return to the top five and is there anyone that can take the crown away from Samsung? It certainly looks unlikely at thsi point.

Read more: IDC

Apple announces fiscal 2013 Q1 results

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Jan 242013

Apple yesterday announced financial results for the first quarter of its fiscal 2013 year. It once again posted impressive numbers but is also facing stiffer competition on many sides. Quarterly revenues came in at US$54.5 billion with quarterly net profits topping US$13 billion. Despite this year’s quarter being a week shorter than last year’s quarter, Apple still beat last year’s numbers.

“We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”

Apple sold a record 47.8 million iPhones over the quarter, up from 37 million the same quarter a year ago). It also sold a record 22.9 million iPads (up from 15.4 million a year ago), 4.1 million Macs and 12.7 million iPods. Both Macs and iPod volumes dropped from last year.

Underlying the stiffer competition it is facing (among other factors), Apple’s gross margin for the first quarter came in at 38.6%, down from 44.7% the same quarter a year ago.

Apple expects revenues to fall in the US$41 billion to US$43 billion range for the next quarter.

Read more: Apple

Rumour: Apple to launch 4.8-inch iPhone model in June

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Jan 212013

The rumours continue to suggest that Apple will abandon its long-held strategy of releasing a single new iPhone model later this year. A new report by the China Times suggests that Apple will release not one but three different models later this year (if I read the Google translation correctly). Alongside the Apple iPhone 5S, we could see a new iPhone handset codenamed “iPhone Math” as well as a third model that would follow somewhat later.

Details are slim on the “iPhone Math” but it will reportedly sport a 4.8-inch display to allow Apple to take on other devices in the phablet space. It should also have an 8MP camera with lenses from Largan Precision. It should launch alongside the iPhone 5S this summer.

Component shipments are set to start in March with production to follow in late April to prepare for the launch. Foxconn looks set to the key manufacturer for both devices.

A third iPhone model, this one sporting a 12MP camera, would follow in the latter part of the year in time for the holiday season.

The report makes no specific mention of a cheaper iPhone model although past rumours have hinted that it would have a larger display. Could the “iPhone Math” be that cheaper model?

Confused? You’re not the only one. For now, take all these rumours with a pinch or two of salt.

Read more: China Times (in Chinese) [Google translation] (Source: AppleInsider)

More information on upcoming cheaper iPhone?

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Jan 152013

Rumours of a cheaper Apple iPhone model coming this year refuse to go away. Citing its usual sources from the upstream supply chain, Digitimes reports that the new device could use a redesigned case made of plastic rather than glass and aluminium as seen on iPhones to date. The move (along with others) would allow Apple to drive the manufacturing price down.

The case could also be a blend of plastic and metal. The sources add that it could have transparent portions that would let users see internal components. Past reports have also suggested that it could be made of polycarbonate.

The report adds that the case would be provided by an unnamed US-based supplier.

Component validation is apparently already underway in preparation for a launch sometime in the second half of the year.

Read more: Digitimes

Did Apple’s Schiller really dismiss a cheaper iPhone? (Updated)

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Jan 112013

The story behind an interview between Apple SVP of Worldwide marketing Phil Schiller and the Chinese newspaper Shanghai Evening News has taken an interesting twist. It all started with a number of reports that Apple was working on a cheaper iPhone (to sell perhaps as low as US$99). In the subsequent interview, Schiller appeared to deny the rumours. Or did he?

According to translations, Schiller was quoted as saying that cheap smartphones would “never be the future of Apple’s products.” He added that Apple would not compromise on quality and only used “the best technology available.” Those comments are now being brought into question by Reuters, one of the many publications that picked up the story. It has now removed its article, indicating that the source material, namely the original interview, has been “subsequently updated with substantial changes to its content.” Even stranger is that it’s not clear what if any changes have been made. According to BusinessInsider: “The original story doesn’t appear to have had any major changes.”

Did Schiller say that Apple would not make cheap phones or not? No one seems to know and even Apple is not saying. One thing is clear: Even if Apple were to launch a cheaper iPhone model, it would certainly not describe it as such.

Update: Reuters has posted a revised story where it outlines changes to the original Shanghai Evening News interview. It reports that references to cheaper smartphones have been removed except for the mention of a “cheaper, low-end product.” The headline of the story has also been modified to “Apple wants to provide the best products, will not blindly pursue market share” from “Apple will not push a cheaper smartphone for the sake of market share.” For its part, Apple confirmed that the interview took place but declined to provide a transcript of the interview.

Read more: Reuters (Source: Business Insider)

Apple’s Schiller dismisses cheaper iPhone rumours

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Jan 102013

Rumours this week have suggested that we could see Apple launch an entry level iPhone smartphone priced as low as US$99. Reports came from a number of sources including Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal indicating that such a device could launch by the end of the year in emerging markets and perhaps even in mature markets. In an interview with the Chinese newspaper Shanghai Evening News yesterday, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, threw some cold water on the rumours.

In the interview, Schiller explained that Apple would not sell a cheap smartphone solely for the purpose of expanding its market share. “At first, non-smartphones were popular in the Chinese market, now cheap smartphones are more popular and non-smartphones are out,” Schiller explained. “Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about 20%, we own the 75% of the profit.”

Schiller added that Apple will not compromise on quality: “Every product that Apple creates, we consider using only the best technology available. This includes the production pipeline, the Retina display, the unibody design, to provide the best product to the market.” What is left unsaid is that Apple will not trade its healthy profit margins for the sake of market share. A cheap poor-quality smartphone is out of the question but a cheaper device using slightly older or cheaper components is not necessarily out of the question. Look at the Apple iPad: The iPad mini is in many ways simply a cheaper (but not cheaply made) version of the iPad.

Apple obviously does not want to tip its hand but don’t rule out a cheaper iPhone by year’s end just yet.

Read more: The Next Web

Entry-level Apple iPhone to sell for as low as US$99?

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Jan 092013

Following rumours yesterday suggesting that Apple was readying an entry-level iPhone, Bloomberg is the latest to add fuel to the fire. According to “people familiar with the plans”, the device would be aimed at emerging markets. But it could also make its way to more mature markets as Apple has reportedly already spoken to one top U.S. wireless carrier about it.

The report adds that Apple is reportedly looking at a retail price between US$99 and US$149 for such a device. It’s not clear whether this price includes carrier subsidies although that appears to be the most plausible theory at this time. Given that an unlocked iPhone 5 starts at US$649, Apple would likely have to make substantial hardware compromises to get the price down this low (without subsidies) and still maintain the profit margins it is used to. Conversely, it already sells the previous-generation iPhone 4S for US$99 albeit with a contract.

As for the device itself, it would use cheaper parts (including a polycarbonate body?) and would likely be smaller than current models. It could also be designed to work on multiple wireless networks.

Apple will launch the new smartphone late this year “at the earliest,” suggesting again that Apple is not yet fully committed to this project.

Read more: Bloomberg

Wall Street Journal: Apple working on cheaper iPhone

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Jan 082013

Following similar rumours earlier today, The Wall Street Journal is the latest to report that Apple is working on a lower-end phone, adding that it could be released later this year. The move would come in response to the growing challenge posed by Android and more particularly Samsung.

The cheaper model would look like its more expensive counterpart but would use cheaper components. For example, it could use a polycarbonate case instead of the aluminium one used on the iPhone 5. It could also make use of older and cheaper components to further reduce the price. This report makes no mention of smaller or larger displays as the earlier ones did.

The move would mark the first time that Apple would offer different current models since it first launched the original iPhone back in 2007. To date it has only sold a single current model with older models at lower prices. According to “people familiar with the efforts,” Apple has been considering such a device since 2009 (which may explain the recurring iPhone mini rumours) but concerns over increased manufacturing process complexity have kept it on the backburner.

The report adds that Apple could still decide not to move forward with this plan.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal