Friday December 6, 2013 7:28 am PST by Eric Slivka
In a new research note published today, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White shares data from his "Apple Barometer" for the month of November, with strong increases hinting that Apple will see blockbuster performance for the holiday quarter. White's metric, which tracks performance of Taiwanese suppliers known to be heavily reliant on Apple, has seen record performances for both October and November.
With approximately 97% of the sales now accounted for in our Apple Barometer, we estimate sales in November rose by approximately 19-20% M/M and well above the November average of up 6% over the past eight years. As such, we believe this November will prove to be the strongest in the history of our Apple Barometer. [...]
Given the combination of a record October performance and our expectation of record growth in November, our Apple Barometer is on track to report stronger-than- average seasonality in 4Q:13. If we assume an average MoM sales decline of 10% in December, we estimate our Apple Barometer will grow sales by 28% QoQ in 4Q:13, or more than double the average increase of 13% over the past eight years.
White attributes the strong performance by Apple's supply chain to robust demand for Apple products such as the new iPhone and iPad models, with an iPhone production boost to support a launch on China Mobile in the coming weeks perhaps also contributing.
Investor confidence in Apple is also increasing as the company appears poised for a strong holiday quarter. After falling significantly from late 2012 through the early part of this year, Apple's stock has been rebounding during the second half of 2013, setting a new 52-week high yesterday following a roughly 10% surge over the past two weeks. Like White's reasoning for strong Apple Barometer performance, the recent Apple stock spike has coincided with evidence of strong consumer interest in the company's products for the holiday shopping season, as well as the potential culmination of an iPhone deal with China Mobile, the world's largest carrier.
Friday December 6, 2013 4:43 am PST by Richard Padilla
An image of what might be a MFi (Made for iPhone) controller from computer peripheral manufacturer Razer has been leaked on Twitter by @evleaks, who has been known to provide reliable images in the past.
The enclosure controller, reportedly named the Razer Kazuyo, appears to wrap around the iPhone, adding face buttons, shoulder buttons, and a directional pad on either side of the phone. This layout is similar to other iOS game controllers such as the Logitech Powershell and the MOGA Ace Power, which were both released in last month. Unlike both controllers however, the Razer Kazuyo includes the ability to tilt the iPhone up, allowing for better viewing angles and easier access.
It is not known when exactly the Razer Kazuyo will be released, but it is likely that it will be compatible with a growing list of iOS games upon availability. Currently, games such as Dead Trigger 2, Asphalt 8: Airborne, and Bastion offer controller support, with additional developers pledging to build controller support into their apps now that controller hardware is available to consumers.
Friday December 6, 2013 3:15 am PST by Richard Padilla
The Associated Press is reporting that Apple will be launching iBeacon technology in its 254 U.S. retail stores today, with Apple quietly launching an over-the-air update to its Apple Store app to support iBeacon receivers in its retail locations. The official move follows a report last month stating that iBeacon integration in Apple Stores would be enabled through an Apple Store app update, with the app now prompting users about receiving in-store notifications once opened.
The Apple Store app also gives examples of what notifications can be pushed to the devices of in-store customers through the use of iBeacons, such as messages about picking up online orders and store events.
Apple reportedly demonstrated the use of iBeacon systems to the Associated Press in its Fifth Avenue store this week prior to its official rollout today:
The company demonstrated the technology to The Associated Press this week at its busy, 24-hour Fifth Avenue store in New York City. At this particular store, Apple has installed about 20 iBeacon transmitters, some of which are simply iPhones and iPads, which come with the capability as part of the iOS 7 mobile software released in September. The transmitters use Bluetooth wireless technology to sense your exact location. That's not possible with GPS, which don't work well indoors and aren't good at distinguishing between locations that are just a few feet apart.
First introduced at WWDC, iBeacon microlocation APIs are designed to access location data through the Bluetooth Low Energy profile on iOS devices, interacting with physical transmitters. The technology first appeared earlier this year, when Major League Baseball announced plans to begin incorporating Apple's iBeacon APIs into its MLB.com At the Ballpark app to create interactive experiences within stadiums in the near future.
The various implementations of iBeacon systems by different companies has also picked up throughout the past few weeks, with some companies such as London based digital publishing startup Exact Editions using Apple's microlocation receivers to deliver location-based access to iOS Newsstand publications. Shopping app Shopkick and Macy's also teamed up for the first retail-based iBeacons last month, allowing customers to find location-specific deals, discounts, and recommendations in the Shopkick app while in a participating Macy's store.
According to an official support page, Apple's iBeacon technology works with Bluetooth capable iOS devices running iOS 7 including the iPhone 4S or later, iPad (3rd generation) or later, iPad mini or later, and the iPod Touch (5th generation) or later. The Apple Store app is a free download for iOS devices, but the new functionality does not require users to download an updated version from the App Store. [Direct Link: iPhone/iPad]
Thursday December 5, 2013 8:43 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple is continuing to see improved iPhone 5s supplies ahead of the holidays, with shipping estimates from the online Apple Store now ranging from one to three days for all carriers, colors, and capacities in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. The GSM-compatible SIM-free iPhone still has a shipping estimate of 1–2 weeks.
Following the launch of the iPhone 5s, supplies were significantly constrained, especially for silver and gold models. Shipping estimates slipped to 7 to 10 days just hours after the phone was released and then slipped further to two to three weeks for an extended period of time.
Just over two weeks ago, shipping estimates were at three to five days in North America and Asia Pacific, while European and Middle Eastern Apple Stores still listed shipping estimates of one to two weeks.
According to reports, Apple has significantly ramped up its iPhone 5s production over the course of the last month while cutting back on iPhone 5c production, which has resulted in improved supplies in time for the Christmas holiday.
In-store supplies of the iPhone 5s have also become far more plentiful, with all colors and capacities of the phone available for immediate pickup in many brick and mortar Apple Stores across the United States.
Earlier this week, Apple released shipping deadlines to ensure customers receive gifts by December 24. According to the guidelines, the iPhone 5s must be ordered by midnight December 12 to arrive ahead of Christmas.
Thursday December 5, 2013 4:14 pm PST by Jordan Golson
After less than three months on the market, iOS 7 is installed on some 74 percent of devices connecting to the App Store, according to a chart posted on Apple's App Store support page for developers.
The company puts iOS 6 adoption at 22 percent, and older OS versions at just 4 percent. The data from Apple is likely the most accurate adoption data we will see and is the most relevant for developers as its taken directly from the App Store.
Chitika reported numbers nearly identical to Apple's earlier this week, showing 74.1 percent of devices using iOS 7. For its part, Mixpanel's OS adoption data, which records information from apps that use its analytics SDK, measured iOS 7 adoption at 78 percent as of December 1, with iOS 6 usage at just under 19 percent.
For comparison, as noted by TechCrunch, the latest version of Android -- KitKat -- only reports a 1.1 percent adoption rate.
Thursday December 5, 2013 3:48 pm PST by Juli Clover
Construction on Apple's Campus 2 project is underway, with the company continuing its demolition of existing buildings on the site. Demolition began soon after Apple obtained its ancillary permits following an initial unanimous October approval of the project from the Cupertino City Council.
Road work and construction signs surround the area where demolition has begun, with a clear view of the demolished buildings available from the nearby highway. Apple has also constructed a large wall around the construction area to avoid impacting nearby businesses and residents. Large bulldozers and other equipment are within the campus area, clearing debris, and several sidewalk areas have been closed.
Visible demolition is taking place on the parcel of land that Apple purchased back in 2006, while the HP campus itself remains hidden behind walls and the tree line. The 50-acre prior purchase will make up the southern half of the campus that will house a massive parking structure while the main "Spaceship" building will be located in the northern portion of the property.
Apple received final approval for its Apple Campus 2 project back in November, and following a unanimous vote, Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney told the company to "go for it."
Following the demolition of the existing buildings, phase 1 of the Apple Campus 2 construction will include the famous 2.8 million square foot ring-shaped main building with an underground parking facility capable of accommodating approximately 2,400 cars.
A 100,000 square foot fitness center and a 120,000 square foot auditorium will also be built, and during a second phase of construction, Apple will build an additional 600,000 square feet worth of office, research, and development buildings.
Apple hopes to finish the first phase of the Apple Campus 2 construction by 2016.
Thursday December 5, 2013 2:29 pm PST by Jordan Golson
comScore today released the results of its monthly rolling survey of U.S. mobile phone users for the August-September 2013 period, showing that Apple's smartphone market share rose to 40.6 percent, compared to Android's 51.8 percent over the same period.
For handset manufacturers, Apple was in first place by a wide margin, with second place Samsung holding 25.4 percent of the market.
149.2 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (62.5 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in October, up 4.1 percent since July. Apple ranked as the top OEM with 40.6 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers (up 0.2 percentage points from July). Samsung ranked second with 25.4 percent market share (up 1.3 percentage points), while Motorola made the leap to third with 7 percent (up 0.1 percentage points). HTC and LG followed with 6.7 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.
Collectively, Apple and Google control 92.2 percent of the market, with BlackBerry and Symbian losing share, while Microsoft's Windows Phone platform gained slightly.
comScore's data tracks installed user base rather than new handset sales, which means it is more reflective of real-world usage but slower to respond to shifting market trends than some other studies.
Thursday December 5, 2013 10:10 am PST by Juli Clover
Some iTunes and App Store users are currently unable to log into their accounts using their Apple IDs, receiving a the following error when attempting to sign in: "FATAL::Unable to process your request. Please try again."
The problem, which seems to have originated last night, is ongoing according to a thread on Apple's online Support Communities and multiple users on MacRumors' forums. The error occurs on both mobile devices and Macs and according to user reports, it is affecting the App Store, the Mac App Store, the iTunes Store, and the iBookstore.
Apple’s System Status page has thus far not reported any issues, but according to one MacRumors reader who contacted AppleCare, there have been ongoing problems with Apple ID logins. Yesterday, some users were also getting a different error: "This Apple ID cannot be used for the iTunes Store. Please enter another Apple ID."
The multipage thread on Apple’s support forums suggests that the issue is fairly widespread and there appears to be no fix available at this time. Multiple users have reported the issue to Apple and the company appears to be aware of the problem.
Update: A number of users are reporting that the issue has been fixed and their accounts are now working normally again.
Thursday December 5, 2013 7:19 am PST by Eric Slivka
With just a few weeks left in 2013, Apple's stock has finally rebounded to set a new 52-week high of $575.14 earlier today, although it has since pulled back by a few dollars. Apple's stock price peaked at just over $700 back in September 2012 before beginning a slide that took the price to under $400 by mid-April of this year.
Apple's march back to yearly highs began in late June and has been a fairly steady climb since that time, although the last two weeks have been particularly good for the company's stock with a roughly 10% increase over that time as investors have been buoyed by new product releases and optimism surrounding Apple's Black Friday weekend sales.
The company's stock price has undoubtedly also been boosted by a stock buyback program that has seen Apple take roughly 5% of its shares off of the market since late 2012. Some argue that Apple should be doing even more to repurchase its stock, believing it to remain undervalued and thus a cheap investment for the company. Just yesterday, activist investor Carl Icahn, who holds roughly $2.5 billion in Apple stock, announced that he has filed paperwork requesting that shareholders be included in an advisory vote encouraging the company to increase its buyback plan by an additional $50
Thursday December 5, 2013 6:46 am PST by Richard Padilla
Apple has filed for a United States patent detailing a smart dock that would allow users to access voice recognition functions such as Siri once a compatible device is connected, reports AppleInsider. The patent describes the dock as composing of multiple parts including a housing with a touch screen, integrated microphone, speakers and tactile buttons, along with a connector, wireless radio, and internal processor.
In detail, a user would assign an audio prompt to the device upon setup such as a spoken word, phrase, or hand clap that would trigger the dock for use, and can also "unpair" voice recognition functions with another specific audio prompt. This allows for the dock to filter out ambient noise and allow a voice recognition feature like Siri to perform effectively when listening and responding to the user upon being given a task. For example, a user could create an event on a calendar by giving a verbal cue to the dock holding a connected device and speaking the appropriate prompt.
In yet another embodiment, when the voice recognition mode of the portable electronic device is activated, the processor of the portable electronic device is further configured to receive voice input from the dock via the receptacle connector, the voice input including a use request. The processor retrieves the requested information and generates audio output including a response to the user request. The audio output is transmitted by the processor to the dock via the receptacle connector.
The patent also details other embodiments of the invention where the signals between the dock
Thursday December 5, 2013 6:17 am PST by Richard Padilla
AT&T has announced that it will be introducing new “Mobile Share Value Plans“ on December 8, which includes an option for no annual contracts that brings a $15 monthly discount to shared data customers that meet one of four requirements. The requirements include getting a smartphone for no down payment with the "AT&T Next" early upgrade program, bringing a separate off-contract device, purchasing a smartphone at full retail price, or switching to a new plan after a phone is no longer under contract.
With the ‘No Annual Service Contract’ options, smartphone customers can save $15 a month on Mobile Share Value plans. 2 Customers can receive these monthly savings when they: Get a new smartphone for no down payment with AT&T Next; bring their own smartphone; purchase a smartphone at full retail price; or when their smartphone is no longer under contract and they switch to the new plans. All Mobile Share Value plan customers will benefit from shared data plus unlimited talk and text on their phones. Consumers will have the ability to connect up to 10 devices, including tablets and other wireless devices, while business customers will be able to connect up to 10, 15, 20 or 25 devices, depending on the plan.
The carrier also announced that it is adding a new option for its "AT&T Next" early upgrade program on December 8, which allows a customer to get a new phone after 18 monthly payments and spreads total payments over the course of 26 months. This option joins the existing option of getting a new phone after 12 monthly payments and spreading payments over 20 months, and
Thursday December 5, 2013 12:42 am PST by Richard Padilla
According to new a survey done by market research firm Parks Associates (via CNET), Apple desktops have become the most sought after desktop computers this holiday season, beating out longtime holiday desktop leader Dell and other competitors such as HP and Acer. This marks the first time that Apple products have taken the top spot in the history of the survey, as the company was ranked 3rd in the category in 2011 and 2nd in 2012. The Apple TV also remained at the top spot for the most sought after streaming media device, topping the Roku TV.
“Apple topped the list of intended brands for desktop purchases for the first time this year,” said John Barrett, director, Consumer Analytics, Parks Associates. “In 2011 and 2012, Dell was the top desktop brand, but Apple has displaced it, making Apple now the most popular brand across even more key CE categories.”
Apple quietly updated the iMac this past September with Intel's Haswell processors and faster PCI-Express based flash storage, which followed a major design revision to the desktop in 2012 that brought a thinner and lighter design. The company also currently sells its lower-priced Mac Mini and is getting ready to launch the high-end Mac Pro sometime in December, with a German retailer stating a possible availability date of Monday, December 16.
Wednesday December 4, 2013 6:35 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple and China Mobile have finally reached a deal that will see the world's biggest mobile carrier offering the iPhone on its network, reports The Wall Street Journal.
China Mobile, which has more than 700 million subscribers, is expected to begin selling the iPhone around December 18 following a China Mobile conference in Guangzhou where the company is also expected to debut its 4G network. Earlier today, the Chinese government finally granted TD-LTE licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, the country's three major carriers.
China Mobile is one of the last major carriers in the world that does not currently offer the iPhone, and the deal could bring a huge boost in sales to Apple. Currently, only China's smaller carriers, China Telecom and China Unicom, offer the iPhone on their 3G networks.
A deal with China Mobile would give Apple access to a subscriber base that is seven times the size of Verizon Wireless, the U.S.'s largest carrier. Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, is Apple's third biggest market after the U.S. and Europe in terms of revenue.
Apple and China Mobile have been in talks for several years, and CEO Tim Cook traveled to China to meet with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua back in July where the two made headway on a potential deal.
News of a finalized deal has been expected since September, as the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c were the first iPhones supporting China Mobile's TD-LTE standard. Apple also received the final license it needed to operate on China Mobile’s wireless standard back in September following
The request is what's called a precatory proposal, meaning even if a majority of shares vote in favor, it would not be binding on Apple's management. In an interview with Time, Icahn said he believes CEO Tim Cook and Apple's management team are doing a good job, but he believes the company should be spending more of its capital on its own shares.
For his part, Icahn says he doesn’t consider his proposal an indictment of Apple CEO Tim Cook, or the company’s management, per se. "Tim Cook is doing a good job with the business,” Icahn tells TIME. "I think he’s good whether he does what I want or not." But, says Icahn, referring to the company’s huge cash stockpile, "Apple is not a bank."
I’m not against the management of this company. But they’ve got too much money on their balance sheet."
Icahn is able to withdraw his proposal before the shareholder's meeting if he no longer wishes to press the issue, either because Apple agrees with him or he believes a potential proxy fight is no longer in his favor. If not, Apple would likely recommend investors vote against the proposal, even though it isn't binding.
Wednesday December 4, 2013 12:32 pm PST by Jordan Golson
Following Apple's $200 million purchase of social analytics firm Topsy earlier this week, a wide variety of analysts and pundits have been considering what Apple might do with the company.
More than anything, Topsy is a search and analytics company, holding a number of search-related patents that could be implemented directly into the App or iTunes Stores to improve searches and discovery. One patent helps rank search results based on reputation and influence, which could be used to help higher quality apps rise to the top of App Store search results, for example.
Another patent details the return of search results to include popular items related to a specific query on a social media site. While not directly related, a similar technology could be incorporated into App Store search. For example, a user searching for Major League Baseball apps could be linked to other trending sports apps for the NFL or NBA.
Twitter considered buying Topsy as well because, according to AllThingsD, "Topsy’s search technology and tools were even more effective than Twitter’s own in-house search tools" but Twitter ultimately decided to pass on the purchase.
Apple has purchased companies in the past to boost its search results on the App Store, most notably Chomp, acquired by the company last year.
Apple has also been focusing on increasing its advertising revenue in recent years, first with iAd's in-app advertising, and more recently with iTunes Radio. Another Topsy patent relates to the display of certain advertisements to users based on an "influence score" that helps determine which
Wednesday December 4, 2013 10:28 am PST by Eric Slivka
At its October media event, Apple narrowed down the launch window for its redesigned Mac Pro to "December", but with the month having already begun the company has yet to announce a more specific launch date.
It is unclear what Conrad is basing its availability citation on, but it appears to be the first specific claim of a launch date from a retailer, something many potential customers have been waiting for. Availability of the new Mac Pro is likely being constrained by new Intel Ivy Bridge-EP processors that were officially launched in September but which have apparently been somewhat slow to ramp up production.
"Available from December 16, 2013" Holiday shopping considerations would be less of a factor for the new Mac Pro than for most of Apple's other products, given the professional focus of the machine, but the end-of-the-month holiday season could present some logistical issues for Apple given employee vacations and other factors.
Also unclear is what kind of volumes the new Mac Pro will ship in at launch. If supplies are tightly constrained as it appears they may be, shipping dates may quickly slip into early 2014 with only a small number of units making their way to retailers and customers before the end of the year.
Update: French site MacGenerationposted a Tweet earlier this week claiming that delivery to customers
This sort of internal release typically signals an imminent public release of the software, assuming the OS X development team does not find any mission critical bugs in final testing.
The update includes the following fixes:
- Improved support for Gmail in OS X Mail, and fixes for users with custom Gmail settings - Improves the reliability of Smart Mailboxes and search in Mail - Fixes an issue that prevented contact groups from working properly in Mail - Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from speaking sentences that contain emoji - Updates Shared Links periodically when open in the Safari Sidebar
Wednesday December 4, 2013 7:49 am PST by Eric Slivka
A number of retailers have noted that the iPad Air was a top seller over the Black Friday shopping weekend, and new data from Localytics indeed shows that to have been the case. Localytics, which tracks the number of new devices showing up through its analytics network of over 20,000 apps and over one billion devices, saw a 51% increase in new iPad Air devices compared to the previous weekend.
The first-generation iPad mini also performed well, seeing 28% growth compared to the previous weekend, while the iPhone 5c came in third with 26% growth. All three products were available in significant quantities for the Black Friday weekend and in many cases saw steep discounts. Products with tighter supplies and lower discounts, such as the Retina iPad mini and the iPhone 5s, unsurprisingly saw smaller spikes in activations.
According to Localytics’ data, a whopping 51% more new iPad Air devices were seen than the previous week. This is due to a combination of factors, including Apple’s promotion of giving gift cards with purchases of the iPad Air and iPad Mini (but not iPad Mini 2nd gen) devices. This, combined with a smaller base of iPad Air devices and the novelty of the iPad Air (released on November 1st) resulted in the iPad Air dominating on Black Friday weekend. Apple’s older iPad Mini model finished second, and the iPhone 5c took third.
Data from Localytics of course does not include devices purchased over the Black Friday weekend but set aside as future gifts, suggesting that the spike in sales was likely even higher than shown in the data.
Wednesday December 4, 2013 6:23 am PST by Richard Padilla
Exact Editions, a London based digital publishing startup, has begun implementing Apple's iBeacon microlocation receivers to deliver location-based access to iOS Newsstand publications, reports TechCrunch. The iBeacon receivers are used as a part of the company's “ByPlace“ service, which can trigger location specific publications and other content once an iPhone or iPad is nearby.
In the first implementation of the program, patrons of Bar Kick in Shoreditch, UK can access soccer magazine "When Saturday Comes" and style magazine "Dazed & Confused" free of charge while at the bar, with the apps reverting to regular subscription status once out of range of Bar Kick's iBeacons.
A deployable iBeacon receiver
Exact Editions expects that selling subscriptions attached to iBeacon delivery will be particularly attractive to a magazine with a niche audience, and one that will be particularly associated with corresponding venues. The principal advantages for the venues are as follows:
1. Suitable content can be selected (eg film magazines for a cinema wifi zone, fashion magazines for an arty venue, finance or business magazines for a location in the City or in an airline lounge etc.)
2. The venue can choose its content to suit its audience, and the iBeacon will generate statistics which indicate which magazines are most used and when.
3. There will be discreet but noticeable in-app branding for the venue, through the use of ‘courtesy panes’ within the app, stating the sponsorship eg “When Saturday Comes brought to you by courtesy of Bar Kick”.
4. As the venues get
Tuesday December 3, 2013 2:56 pm PST by Juli Clover
Multiple Apple Stores in the United States have started price matching the iPhone 5c and the iPad Air, reports 9to5Mac. On those particular devices, some Apple Stores will match the prices of brick and mortar retailers that have been selling the products below retail price.
Walmart, for example, sells the entry-level 16 GB iPad Air for $479, a $20 discount off of the standard retail price Apple offers. MacRumors heard conflicting reports of Apple Stores price matching discounts over Black Friday, but following the major shopping holiday, it appears retail employees may have been given more flexibility when it comes to price matching options.
Released in September and October respectively, both the iPhone 5c and the iPad Air have been widely available since the launch, while supplies of the iPhone 5s and the Retina iPad mini have been far more constrained, which explains why Apple is not offering price matching on those particular products at this time.
Apple's price matching policies vary from store to store, and some stores may opt out of price matching all together. Price matching only applies to physical stores and is limited to a 10 percent total discount, which means customers can still find a better deal elsewhere in some cases, especially when it comes to the deep discounts offered on the iPhone 5c.
Update: According to a retail employee, Apple now has an official policy on price matching, which allows specialists to price match iPhones, iPads, and Macs, giving up to 10 percent off on products without authorization. Specialists are also allowed to give
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