Ben Lovejoy



Apple Opening New Store in UK This Week, Posts Job Listings for Two New German Stores

Apple has announced a new UK retail store in Leeds opening this Thursday, while also posting job ads in Germany for a store in Düsseldorf [Google translation] and a second store in Munich [Google translation]. Apple typically advertises for staff 6-9 months before a store opens, suggesting that the German stores could open late this year. The unusual Thursday opening for the new store in Leeds coincides with the grand opening of the Trinity Leeds shopping center where the store is located. Leeds, situated in the north of England, is Britain's third-largest city (after London and Birmingham), making it surprising that Apple has waited this long. Munich is coincidentally Germany's third-ranking city (behind Berlin and Hamburg), and was rated Germany's most liveable city by Monocle magazine. Düsseldorf is best known as an international business hub, playing host to around 20% of the world's major trade fairs. Apple currently has over 400 stores worldwide, with global sales exceeding $20 billion in fiscal 2012. Apple has long held the top spot in revenue per square foot among top retail chains, with the most recent estimates for Apple topping $6000 per square foot, double that of Tiffany &

BlackBerry CEO Says Despite a 'Fantastic Job' With iOS Design, Apple Now Lacks Innovation

In an interview in The Australian Financial Review (via AllThingsD), Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins describes iOS as an outdated user interface, claiming that the iPhone is at risk of being replaced in the popularity stakes due to a lack of innovation. "Apple did a fantastic job in bringing touch devices to market ... They did a fantastic job with the user interface, they are a design icon. There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that," Mr Heins said. "History repeats itself again I guess ... the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don't innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old." [...] "The point is that you can never stand still."Heins has firsthand experience of this phenomenon, as BlackBerry has received significant criticism over its lack of innovation as its worldwide smartphone market share has fallen from nearly 20% to just 3.5% over the past three years. The company is hoping for a revival of its fortunes with the Blackberry Z10, which is launching in Australia and the United States in the coming days following debuts in several other countries in recent weeks. Apple design chief Jonathan Ive late last year took over responsibility for software as well as hardware design following the departure of former iOS head Scott Forstall, generating great interest in the extent to which Apple may update the user interface in iOS

Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley Believes 'Innovation Lull' Will End, Smart Watch Likely Key Product Focus

John Sculley, Apple's CEO from 1983 to 1993 and the man famously responsible for Steve Jobs leaving the company in 1985 to form NeXT, has said that although he considers Apple to be experiencing a "lull in innovation", he thinks this is an industry-wide issue and that Apple will be the first to spot the next big trend. Interviewed in the Huffington Post, Sculley was asked about his comments in a CNBC interview last month when he said he "wouldn't expect to see a creative leap from Apple for maybe a few years."I don’t think that it’s because Apple has lost its ability to innovate. My guess is that it has nothing to do with Apple at all, but with the current stage of technology. Moore’s law has been completely predictable for 40 years. You really need about a generation between each of [the] big innovations [but] there are just moments when all the stars are aligned for breakthrough products. Steve had a tremendous talent to be able to spot those ahead of everyone. The question is, who is going be the one to spot the next big trend, the alignment of stars? I’d bet my money on Jony Ive being the person to spot that.Sculley downplayed talk of an Apple HD TV set but fueled speculation on a possible iWatch.If [Steve Jobs] were alive today, I suspect he’d be really fascinated about what’s happening with sensors. When you look at the ability to capture all kinds of information with sensors and then customize services back to individuals, that is so Steve Jobs. That’s the kind of thing he’d have salivated over. I think the next big area of product [innovation] is

Lower-Cost iPhone Said to Use 'Super-Thin' Plastic and Fiberglass Shell in 4-6 Colors

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is reiterating his claims that Apple's low-cost iPhone will have a 4-inch screen, plastic casing, and be available in a range of colors similar to Apple's iPod lineup, sharing a few new details in a report highlighted by AppleInsider. In particular, Kuo shares offers some information on the device's plastic and fiberglass casing.The new, less expensive iPhone model is said to have a "super-thin plastic casing mixed with glass fiber." The material will make it stronger, thinner and lighter than typical smartphone plastic casings, Kuo said. He expects the thickness to be between 0.4 and 0.6 millimeters, which is thinner than the average plastic casing at between 0.7 and 1 millimeter. Kuo had previously suggested the phone would be available in a range of six colors, but is now being more cautious in suggesting "between four and six." Key Apple supplier Foxconn will manufacture complete phones, he says, while Green Point will make additional casings for phones that will be assembled by Pegatron. The analyst has previous suggested that Apple is looking to diversify suppliers, and that Pegatron would be responsible for assembling the majority of the low-cost

iMac Added to Employee Purchase Program, Suggesting Production Constraints Have Eased

As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple yesterday added the latest iMac to its Employee Purchase Program, supporting earlier suggestions that production constraints have now eased. Apple CEO Tim Cook had warned in a January analyst call that iMac shipments would be constrained through Q1, but improving shipping estimates and the company's decision to allow employees to purchase them at a discount suggests that the issue has now ended. Current and retired Apple employees are allowed to buy Apple products for personal use at a 25% discount, and last year Apple added an additional layer to the program by offering employees $500 off the purchase of a Mac once every three years, on top of the 25%

John Browett Reflects on Lessons From Brief Stint as Apple Retail Chief

Apple's short-lived head of retail, John Browett, said this week that he had learned "humility" and "become a kinder person" as a result of his six-month stay at Apple. Browett's appointment had raised eyebrows in his native UK due to his pedigree as the boss of Dixons, a UK consumer electronics chain with a reputation for cost-cutting rather than customer service. Despite CEO Tim Cook describing him as "the best [candidate] by far", Browett departed Apple later that year before finding a new role as CEO of a low-cost UK fashion and accessory retailer. Apple has yet to name a successor to Browett, with the company's retail team currently reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook. Browett admitted in an interview at the Retail Week Live conference (via The Independent) this week that he "just didn't fit" with Apple's culture. Apple is a truly fantastic business. The people are great, they've got great products, it's got a great culture and I loved working there, it's a fantastic business. The issue there was that I just didn't fit within the way they run the business. It was one of those things where you're rejected for fit rather than competency. Browett said that working for Apple had been one of the best things that had happened to him, and that he had learned a lot about how he is and what he's like to work

Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Screen Ghosting on Retina MacBook Pros

Law360 reports (via 9to5Mac) that a Retina MacBook Pro owner has launched a would-be class action lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the widely reported ghosting issues are the result of defective LG screens and that Apple has been "tricking" customers into buying these by not distinguishing them from models sold with Samsung screens. Ghost images of previous content have been widely demonstrated on some Retina MacBook Pros, as in the above video. A support thread on apple.com on the issue currently runs to over 7000 posts across almost 500 pages. Apple uses displays manufactured by both Samsung and LG in its Retina laptops, and it has been strongly indicated that the issue affects mostly machines with LG screens. Apple has so far made no statement on the issue beyond a support document in which it describes "image persistence" as a characteristic of IPS displays and gives some advice on minimizing the effects. The lawsuit has been filed in a Federal court in California by Retina MacBook Pro owner Beau Hodges, who says that Apple should have disclosed the issue and allowed customers to choose between machines with LG and Samsung screens.The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit. “The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the

Early Apple Bear Turns Bullish on Apple

One of the first analysts to to turn bearish on Apple last year, correctly predicting lower-than-expected revenues, has upgraded the stock to a Buy, giving it a 12-month target price of $540 against a closing yesterday of $428.35. BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk is cited in Business Insider as suggesting that Apple's earnings per share will be flat or slightly down this year but will climb in 2014. He bases the potential growth on four factors: Apple will release a cheaper iPhone, carrier upgrade policies will make it easier for users to buy new iPhones, a new product will come out, and Apple will do something with its cash. However, he also warns that Apple could miss analysts expectations this quarter, and might even miss its own guidance. That could crater the stock below $400 a share. But after that, he sees things smoothing out and improving for Apple.The difficulty in forecasting future revenues in a company noted for secrecy around new product launches is acknowledged, but Piecyk includes an assumption that Apple will launch a new category that will generate $5 billion in revenues. Apple is widely assumed to be planning to launch both a smart watch and an HD TV.Bears will note the absurdity of assuming that any company can simply come up with a $5 billion product while Bulls will call it an overly conservative rounding error for a company generating $200 billion in revenue and which has beaten consensus revenue estimates by billions of dollars in recent years. Both arguments are valid and the harsh criticisms will be merited.

Apple Applies for Patent on Wireless iPad Charging via Smart Cover

Apple has applied for a patent for an interesting take on wireless charging, allowing a Smart Cover with embedded battery to recharge the iPad (discovered by AppleInsider). At first blush, Apple's invention, aptly titled "Integrated inductive charging in protective cover," appears to simply be a first-party incarnation of upcoming products that use inductive charging to transfer power to an iOS device. These components usually incorporate an induction coil and transformer that outputs power via a cord plugged into the device's dock connector. Apple's patent filing describes something different. Instead of sourcing power from a stationary dock, Apple's invention calls for a tablet case, or more specifically an iPad Smart Cover, to hold the inductive power transmitter. In some embodiments, an internal battery is disposed within the case, basically creating an "on-the-go" wireless charger.Wireless charging efficiency relies on close proximity between the transmitting and receiving induction coils. Apple's existing Smart Cover magnet system uses magnets with alternating polarities to ensure a precise alignment of cover to iPad, a pairing that would help optimize the charging system. The system would automatically charge the iPad when the cover is closed, with the cover itself being charged conventionally by plugging it into a power source via USB, although Apple notes that solar cells could also be incorporated into the cover. Apple has had a long-standing interest in various forms of wireless charging, but the technology has yet to make its way into the company's

Samsung Marketing Blitz Outpaced Apple in 2012

Samsung's lead over Apple last year in the smartphone race was helped by a massive marketing blitz, reports The Wall Street Journal. Figures published by Kantar Media showed that in 2011, Apple was outspending Samsung three-to-one in mobile phone advertising (red graphics). Samsung massively increased its phone advertising spending from $78 million in 2011 to $401 million in 2012, 20% higher than Apple's $333 million.The willingness to spend heavily could prove even more important as the technology gap between rivals narrows. "They understand how to build a strong product...and have been willing to invest to drive their success," said Michael Sievert, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA Inc., a unit of Deutsche Telekom DTE. To be sure, Apple remains a powerful brand that benefits from its own advertising and ubiquitous references in popular culture. Apple's iPhone is America's most effective mobile phone brand, advertising analytics firm Ace Metrix said in January. But Samsung finished second in phones and was the top technology brand of 2012, said Ace.Samsung has been running a high-profile teaser campaign for its Galaxy S IV phone due to be launched tomorrow at Radio City Music Hall, and will undoubtedly continue that push with even more advertising to drive sales of the new flagship device. Just weeks ago, Ken Segall, the creative director behind several of Apple's ad campaigns including the iconic "Think Different" effort, highlighted the effectiveness of Samsung's people-based ads, arguing that Apple needs to step up its game in order to counter

Pebble Smart Watch Waterproofing Makes Repairs Impossible as Low-Energy Bluetooth Support Questioned

iFixit has done a teardown of the Pebble smart watch and declared it unrepairable due to the amount of adhesive used to waterproof the device. iFixit could only manage to disassemble the watch by breaking the e-ink screen. The innards of the Pebble are unsurprisingly very simple, with the multicontroller unit, three-axis accelerometer and Bluetooth radio all contained on a single board alongside other support components. One surprise noted in the teardown is that the Bluetooth radio does not appear to conform to the 4.0 low-energy protocol (BLE) claimed in its specs. The Panasonic PAN1316 RF module used in the Pebble is supposed to contain Texas Instruments' CC2564 Bluetooth controller, which supports BLE, but iFixit found a CC2560A chip that does not support BLE inside the package. Pebble had previously noted that it was using a chip that would support BLE but that it would not ship with support enabled, promising that it would be added via a software update at a later date. The good news for Pebble owners is that opening it is unlikely to be necessary: the battery is expected to last for ten years, and the watch strap can be replaced without opening the watch. Update 9:26 AM: iFixit has updated its article and Pebble has posted on Reddit to confirm that BLE support is indeed possible.Many chip vendors make silicon consistent between product lines but simply flash different firmware to enable features. Our chips were labeled CC2560 because TI asked us if we wouldn't mind using them with CC2564 firmware to speed up our order. Pebble most definitely has

Microsoft Issues Security Updates for Office for Mac 2008 and 2011

Microsoft has issued updates for both Office for Mac 2008 and 2011 to fix a security issue in which opening a malicious HTML email could result in an attacker "[overwriting] the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code" and potentially gain access to information stored on the Mac. The update to Office for Mac 2011 additionally contains a range of bug fixes: Contacts that were created in x500 format did not work in Outlook for Mac BCC recipient was missing on Gmail IMAP draft message in Outlook for Mac Some contractions were marked as spelling errors in Outlook for Mac Shared folders could not open other mailboxes that used Kerberos protocol in Outlook for Mac Coordinated Universal Time was not included when you created a calendar event in Outlook for Mac Fixes an issue in which OAB was not updated correctly for certain Office 365 users. Fixes an issue that occured when you ran a Macro that contained "Applications.Dialogs(xlDialogSaveAs).Show." Scrolling when Track Changes default settings are enabled in larger documents crashed Word for Mac Transitions had graphic issues during slide shows in PowerPoint for MacThe 2008 update contains only the security fix. In both cases, you need to be running the most recent version of the software. To check this, go to the Help menu in any Office app and click Check for updates

Qantas Hands Out iPads With Access to Streamed In-Flight Entertainment

Australian airline Qantas is handing out iPads with access to its Wi-Fi-streamed in-flight entertainment service Q Streaming, reports AFP (via AppleInsider). The iPad-based service was first tested on a single 767 in 2011, offering streaming access to over 200 hours of movies, TV shows and music, and is now being introduced on its 767 flights operating between Sydney and Honolulu. Later updates will introduce interactive games, digital newspapers, magazines as well as travel and business apps.Our inflight entertainment programs are stored on a content server with over 18 times the storage capacity of a 64GB tablet. These programs are streamed wirelessly to Wi-Fi enabled devices via six wireless access points installed along the aircraft’s ceiling. No other aircraft in Australia is fitted with this technology. You can now choose from a library of TV and audio content never before available to the Australian domestic traveller. The Q Streaming iPad available in your seat pocket will automatically connect to the wireless network when you turn it on. While the move might sound expensive, the reality is that tablet-based entertainment may save money. A report last year in USA Today observed that traditional seat-back entertainment systems can cost $3 million or more per plane, with the figure rising dramatically for the recently-introduced A380 double-decker.Emirates Airline, for example, spends an average of $15,000 per seat on embedded screens. For an Airbus A380 with 517 seats, the total cost to install seat-back monitors would be approximately $7.8 million. And

Apple's 'iPhone 5S Problem' Suggests Need to Be Less Predictable

iMore Editor-in-Chief Rene Ritchie has written a worthwhile opinion piece arguing that part of Apple's challenge in maintaining its performance in an increasingly competitive smartphone market is the predictability of its "tick-tock" strategy of a major iPhone release every other year and an 'S' refresh on the years in between. Ritchie, whose close sources within Apple led him to report the Lightning connector several months before it was released and correctly predict both the iPad mini launch date and the announcement date of the iPhone 5, says this predictability hurts sales and helps competitors.[Consumers] began to realize when new iPhones would be released. That led to a slowdown in sales for existing iPhone models just prior to the presumed next release. Apple taught people when to buy, and by extension, when not to buy. Apple also taught competitors how to counter-program the iPhone. It's probably not a coincidence that HTC announced their next-generation Android phone, the HTC one, back in February, or that Samsung is holding their Galaxy S4 event this March.Apple's approach of maintaining the same external casing and largely unchanged internal components in its 'S' models limits the innovation that can be offered, making consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products in 'S' years, giving competitors a great opportunity to launch major new models. Ritchie points to the range of rumors circulating around potential new products from Apple, and says that while all are unlikely to be true, "breaking patterns and challenging expectations is

Two-Thirds of Smartphone Video Viewing Still Taking Place on iPhone

Web video company Ooyala has published a new report (via AllThingsD) revealing that two-thirds of smartphone video viewing is being done on iPhones, despite Apple having only a 19% share of the smartphone market. While the stats sample only Ooyala's service, the base for the stats is a substantial one with the company having 200 million viewers worldwide and 25% of all Americans watching at least one Ooyala video per month. It follows figures recently released by GoGo showing that 84% of in-flight Wi-Fi access is on iOS devices. The figures also show the increasing importance of mobile video viewing as a whole. There are more videos being watched on more tablets and smart phones than ever before. The share of tablet video viewing increased 110% in 2012, while the share of mobile online video viewing grew by 87% last year. Measured together, the share of all hours spent watching online video on tablets and mobile phones grew 100% in 2012. Tablet and mobile video share grew from 4% in January to 8% in December. As more tablets and smart phones enter the market, expect tablet and mobile video consumption to continue to grow rapidly. New Cisco data reveals that video will make up 66% of the world’s mobile data traffic in four years.

'Automatic Link' App and Bluetooth Adapter Create Connected Car for Diagnostics and Safety

A new combination of iPhone app and plug-in adapter from Automatic to read data from your car's onboard diagnostics (OBD) port turns virtually any car manufactured after 1996 into a connected car, providing detailed data on your driving habits and cost of driving (via The Verge). The OBD-II data port is a standard feature on all modern cars, providing access to fuel, mileage and engine data. Plugging in a small $69.95 reader allows this data to be transmitted via Bluetooth to your iPhone as you drive. The app then analyzes this to log a range of data, including fuel efficiency, driving style and engine performance. The app then combines this data with GPS info and an online database to tell you the cost of every journey you make. The hardware unit connects to a car's OBD-II Data Link Connector — an often-overlooked data port that's been standard on every car since 1996. Through the data link, Automatic has access to fuel, mileage, and engine information, which it sends to your phone through its Bluetooth antenna. From there, the app pulls in GPS, fuel pricing, and map data to build a comprehensive picture of every drive you take. When you stop to fill up, Automatic uses geolocation data to determine which gas station you're at, then uses its own database of stations and daily prices to calculate how much you paid. Audio pings tell you when you are braking sharply or accelerating hard, driving behaviors that can increase gas mileage by a third. The app can also read and reset "engine check" codes, allowing you to determine whether that annoying light on your dash is

Supply Chain Indicators Point to Poor February for Apple

Citigroup's recent claim that Apple would miss its own Q1/Q2 revenue forecasts has been lent weight by Topeka Capital's Apple Monitor reporting that key Apple suppliers had a "terrible" February (via Business Insider). The monitor, which tracks the results of Apple's key suppliers, is compiled by Topeka Capital's Brian White, an analyst normally bullish on Apple.When [supplier] results are good, it usually means good things for Apple. When the results are bad, watch out. White says the February results for his Apple Monitor were down 31 percent sequentially, which compares to the typical 8 percent decline. Even if you factor in the Chinese New Year, he still says it's bad.The Chinese New Year tends to result in significantly reduced production, but White calculates that factoring that in still results on a fall in production of 15%, amounting to "the worst February we have on record." White goes on to observe that most of the preliminary Taiwan monitors show weak results, suggesting that the slowdown is affecting the whole industry, though Apple's supply chain figures appear worse than most. Last month, research firm NPD revealed surprisingly strong Mac and iPod sales in the U.S. for the month of January, but with those product families accounting for smaller and smaller proportions of Apple's revenue, iPhone and iPad sales have become the primary drivers of Apple's performance. Apple CEO Tim Cook has cautioned against reading too much into supply chain reports, noting that the company has multiple sources for many components and that yield rates may vary

Retina MacBook Pro Beats 18 Windows 8 Laptops in Battery Life Test

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro beat 18 Windows 8 laptops in a battery-life test conducted by Which?, the UK consumer test organization with a reputation for the most detailed testing in the industry. In the web-browsing test where most laptops performed best, the Acer Aspire M5-581T was the longest-lasting Windows 8 machine at 358 minutes, while the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro lasted 30 minutes longer. The Which? test was primarily aimed at comparing Windows 8 machines, but they included two non-Windows machines as a contrast. The MacBook Pro topped the list, while a Samsung Series 3 Chromebook came out in the middle of the pack at 224 minutes.The longest running Windows 8 laptop for web browsing is the Acer Aspire timeline Ultra M5-581T – a 15.6″ screen, 2.1kg ultrabook. It lasted almost six hours on battery – enough to get you to from London to Middlesbrough and back – and fell 30 minutes shy of the battery life of the 13″ Apple Macbook Pro Retina, but costs around £500 less. If you switch to watching movies from the Acer’s hard disk, you’d get four hours and 37 minutes of movie viewing time – a little over an hour less than the Macbook.Similar to Consumer Reports in the United States, Which? is known for scientific approach and detail in its testing. For example, product testers hook up laptops to lab gear to measure power consumption, use thermal imaging systems to measure heat and use light-measurement kits to test screen

Early 2005 iPhone Prototype Looked More Like a Thick iPad Mini

Ars Technica shares several photos of an early functional prototype of the iPhone from 2005, revealing a device closer in size to a thick iPad mini than an iPhone. The photos were sent to Ars by an anonymous former Apple employee who worked on the project in the early 2000s. The prototype is 5x7 inches in size, and nearly two inches thick - though much of the thickness was to accommodate features like serial and Ethernet ports installed purely to use the device in a development environment.Apple watchers have seen all manner of iPhone prototypes pop up on eBay, in court documents, and in leaked photos. But most were either close approximations of the first iPhone that was released in 2007 or of later models. What we don't often get to see is early Apple prototypes, those from way before the iPhone started to look like a phone-like object. That's why we were excited to receive photos showing an in-house version of the iPhone from early 2005. The images to Ars through a former Apple employee who worked on various Apple hardware projects in the early 2000s and was thus exposed to some of the earliest versions of the iPhone. Ars Technica points out that the Samsung ARM chip used is "a distant relative of the chip the first iPhone ended up using, just older and slower."

Apple's iBookstore Twitter Account Accidentally Retweets Obscene Message

The Apple iBookstore Twitter account accidentally retweeted an obscene message last night, reports 9to5Mac. The account also favorited the tweet, adding to the embarrassment for the company which has sought to limit sexually-explicit content on its App Store although it has not placed similar restrictions on its iBookstore. It is likely that whoever operates the Twitter account intended to retweet it on their personal Twitter account but did so while logged into the iBookstore account. (The offending word has been removed from the screenshot shown