Apple Inc.'s chief executive responded to a wave of negative attention to conditions at overseas factories that make its products, saying the insinuation that Apple doesn't care about the welfare of its workers is "offensive."
"Unfortunately, some people are questioning Apple’s values today," Tim Cook wrote in an e-mail to Apple employees. "Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern."
A series of articles in the New York Times has brought new focus on Apple's highly profitable production strategy, which relies heavily on Chinese workers who live in dormlike factories and spend many hours assembling devices. The safety records and working conditions in those factories have been questioned, and Apple's labor practices received intense scrutiny in 2010, when more than a dozen workers at Chinese iPhone plants committed suicide.
The later New York Times article quoted former Apple and Foxconn employees saying that Apple prioritized profit and production speed above worker welfare.
The company was trying to address problems in its factories, one of the sources said, “but most people would still be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.”
In Cook's note, first published by 9to5Mac, he said that Apple was a world leader in improving overseas working conditions, and will continue to work hard to find and fix problems.
"We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues," Cook wrote. "What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word."
– David Sarno
Image: A person injured by an explosion at the Foxconn factory in May 2011 arrives at the Sichuan People's Hospital in Chengdu in southwest China. Credit: Associated Press.
The power of mobile technology: Never before have consumers been able to hold so many lawsuits in their hand.
Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. has just thrown another baton in the smartphone lawsuit parade that has stretched to courtrooms across the globe, as phone-makers sue one another over similarities in their mobile devices, which are packed with patent-protected circuits and widgets from dozens of companies.
Motorola has filed suit against Apple Inc., purveyor of the mega-blockbuster iPhone (the device lifted Apple to $46 billion in sales in its most recent quarter). Apple is an increasingly bitter rival of Google Inc., which agreed to buy Motorola in August, a deal that is still awaiting regulatory clearance.
As patent observer Florian Mueller noted, Google probably had to approve Motorola's lawsuit, given that part of the buyout terms appear to forbid Motorola from filing lawsuits without Google's explicit permission. Google has not directly sued or been sued by Apple in this matter — the two compaies are fighting their legal war by proxy.
Phones that run Google's Android operating system have collectively outsold the iPhone, and Apple is none too happy about that. The Cupertino electronics maker has initiated a flurry of lawsuits against Android phone manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and HTC Corp., alleging that the companies "slavishly copied" the iPhone's signature look.
Now Motorola is trying to make things even more difficult for its rival. In its second action against Apple in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, the company wants the court to ban iPhone sales. Motorola alleges that Apple devices infringe on six of its patents, including one for a phone with a "concealed antenna," and another about keeping data on "multiple pagers" synchronized. Motorola, as children of the 1990s will recall, made a lot of pagers — they still do.
For updates in this saga, make sure to keep your pagers on.
– David Sarno
Image: "Hungry Evil Android". Credit: asgw / Flickr
Apple just reported its best quarter of all time, as covered by my colleague David Sarno here on the Technology blog.
The Cupertino tech giant reported a boost in sales of iPads, iPhones and Mac computers (but not iPods), pushing it into a record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion and $13 billion in profit for the first quarter of the company's 2012 fiscal year.
Let's take a closer look at Apple's huge numbers for the quarter ended Dec. 31, which showed strong holiday sales and sent shares in the company up 8% after the markets closed Tuesday.
Cash balance — One major number to note from Apple's earnings report, as mentioned in its earnings call, is that the company has a cash balance of $97.6 billion, up from $81 billion a year ago.
That's a massive amount to be sitting in the bank and it's a sum Apple will spend in part on developing new products that will help it remain competitive against rivals such as Samsung, Sony, HTC and Motorola.
Revenue — Apple racked up $46.33 billion in sales in the 14-week quarter, which is up from $26.74 billion in the same quarter a year ago.
Profit — The tech giant reported a $13-billion profit last quarter, which is more than double the profit the company reported for its first fiscal quarter of 2011.
IPhones — Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011, which marks 128% growth from a year earlier, when the company sold 16.25 million iPhones.
IPads — Sales of the ever-popular Apple tablet grew 111% when compared to the year-earlier quarter, with 15.43 million iPads sold for the company's fiscal 2012 first quarter versus 7.33 million iPads sold in the first quarter of 2011.
IPods — The iPod isn't dead yet, but it is on the decline. Apple sold 15.4 million iPods last quarter, down 21% from 19.45 million iPods sold a year earlier.
Mac computers — Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop PCs — which includes MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Minis and the Mac Pro — saw a 26% increase in sales from the year-ago quarter, with 5.2 million Macs sold in the first fiscal quarter of 2012 and 4.13 million Macs sold in the first fiscal quarter of 2011.
"Portables," which would include the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, made up the majority of Macs purchased, with 3.71 million units sold last quarter, up from 2.9 million sold a year ago. Apple sold 1.48 million desktops last quarter, up from 1.23 million sold a year earlier.
Looking ahead, Apple said Tuesday that it is projecting it will record about $32.5 billion in revenue in the second quarter of its fiscal year.
[Updated: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Apple's profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year was $6 billion. Apple reported a $13 billion profit last quarter and recorded $6 billion in profit a year earlier.]
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: An Apple Store in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Apple Inc. is selling a whole lot of just about every product it makes — and investors are loving it.
The company's stock shot up more than 8% after it announced that the holiday quarter was its best ever, with revenue and profit setting all-time records. Apple sold more iPhones, iPads and Mac computers than in any three-month period in its history.
The company smashed Wall Street projections with revenue of $46.33 billion in the three-month period ended Dec. 31, more than $7 billion more than analysts had expected and a 74% increase over its quarterly revenue from a year earlier. Profit was just as strong: Apple's $13.06 billion in earnings beat analysts' expectations by $3 billion, and the number more than doubled from the same quarter a year earlier.
"They just demolished it," said analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. "Everyone thought they were too big — that there was too much information out there and they couldn't pull off a surprise like this, but boy did they ever."
Apple's bestselling product continued to be its iPhone. The company sold 37.04 million of the devices, by far eclipsing its iPhone sales record of 20.3 million set in the April to June quarter. It also took a leap forward with its iPad, selling 15.43 million units of the tablet computer — more than 4 million more than it had sold last quarter in its previous quarter. Apple sold 5.2 million Mac computers, beating its mark of 4.9 million, also set last quarter.
“We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook in a statement. “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline."
Analysts expect that Apple will have a strong year of new products, possibly announcing a new iPad in March, a newly redesigned iPhone during the summer and potentially an Apple-branded television set later in the year.
– David Sarno
Photo: Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, discusses a new textbook initiative in New York last week. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press
NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.
The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.
If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget — provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.
Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.
The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible — whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.
According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."
Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt … but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."
In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.
But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.
On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools — though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.
Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.
Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.
In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).
"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.
The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.
Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.
Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.
Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.
In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.
For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.
First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet — maybe someday a TV — what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.
iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.
Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple
Apple promised to reinvent the textbook and offer a new experience for students and teachers by way of an update to its iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch on Thursday.
The app update — which Apple is calling iBooks 2 and is already released to the iOS App Store — will allow for textbooks to be sold through the popular app, which in the past sold novels, nonfiction and poetry, but not textbooks.
All textbooks sold through the free app, which is available only to Apple's i-devices, will be priced at $14.99 or less — a stark contrast to the high-priced paper books that fill college bookstores.
But the main allure might not be the price as much as the interactive features iBooks textbooks can offer.
Apple, which announced the iBooks update at a press event in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, said the iBooks textbook exceeds paper texts in terms of engagement, calling it a durable, quickly searchable book that offers easy highlighting and note-taking as well as interactive photo galleries, videos, and 3-D models and diagrams.
Digital textbooks can also offer immediate feedback with questionnaires at the end of chapters and automatically create flash cards of glossary terms for a student to study.
Apple said the move makes sense given that more that 1.5 million iPads are used in schools. "Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
One thing not mentioned by Apple on Thursday was any sort of program that would offer iPads at a discount to students, teachers or schools.
Apple also said there are more than 20,000 education-focused apps available in the iOS App Store.
The tech giant has enlisted the heavyweights of textbook publishing — Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — to sell textbooks through iBooks 2. Combined, the three companies make 90% of textbooks sold in the U.S. Smaller publishers such as DK and the EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation will be publishing to iBooks 2 as well.
Just as iBooks does with other types of books, textbooks will offer a free preview of a few pages or even a chapter before a purchase is made.
EO Wilson is also publishing a new book through iBooks 2 called Life on Earth, and the first two chapters of the new title will be free with more chapters coming as they are written.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: Textbooks for sale in iBooks 2 on an Apple iPad. Credit: Apple
At the Consumer Electronics Show, models carried around wireless flat-screen TVs playing vivid nature films, executives waved next generation “magic” remote controls and audiences were treated to demonstrations of massive, wall-size TVs.
Also, Apple’s stock hit a record high.
Though the Cupertino, Calif., iPhone giant doesn’t attend the show, rumors are spreading that it has its own TV in the works, and analysts say established TV companies like Samsung Electronics, LG and Sony are struggling to make their TVs more user-friendly and better able to find music, movies and online video from across the Internet.
“The TV hasn’t gone quite through the big revolutionary change that we’ve seen on those other screens,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee. “These other players are trying to jockey for position ahead of Apple.”
But with industry observers expecting an “iTV” from Apple that will turn the industry on its head, not all observers were impressed with the latest TV improvements.
“They’re just throwing spaghetti up against the wall right now,” said Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. “I think Apple’s going to force a big change in the industry — and it’s hard for the companies to respond when they don’t know what iTV looks like yet.”
At the CES on Monday, LG showed off its “Magic Remote,” a device with few buttons that resembles a Nintendo Wii controller –- enabling the viewer to point at and select different images and buttons on the screen.
Sharp’s Aquos Freestyle flat-screens get their signal wirelessly, and as the models demonstrated by parading them down the showroom runway, they are light enough to be carried around the home, whether to the balcony, the kitchen or the powder room.
Samsung showed off a new line of smarter televisions with a suite of games and Web applications built in. The company, a major rival of Apple's in both the smartphone and tablet sectors, did hint at a gesture and voice control system for its upcoming TVs, but did not show those features in action.
Vizio Inc. unveiled three new high-definition sets that feature Google TV, the search-giant’s TV navigation software that will also run on TVs from Samsung Electronics and LG, and which comes with dozens of built-in apps that users can use on-screen to fetch sports scores, watch movies and play games.
Meanwhile, Google has had trouble getting its Google TV software to take off. Launched on a small number of devices last year, the product was coolly received by reviewers and failed to gain wide traction with consumers.
Logitech Inc., which made one of the original Google TV set-top boxes, discontinued the device in November, calling it a “big mistake.”
Still, Google has recruited a new cast of the biggest TV makers — Samsung, LG and Vizio — to test the waters with a suite of Google–powered TV sets.
“The manufacturers have no choice but to turn to Google because there’s no one else,” Misek said. But until Google can make its phones, tablets, and personal computers all talk to each other, the way Apple’s do, Google and its TV partners “won’t be able to catch up.”
– David Sarno in Las Vegas
Photo: LG Electronics televisions on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images
Rumors of a new quad-core "A6" processor for Apple's next iPad and iPhone have been circulating for months, and on Friday a bit of information came to light that will fuel the speculation.
The code for Apple's iOS 5.1 beta operating system, which developers can access for testing before the software is released to the public, hints at compatibility with quad-core CPUs, according to a report on the website 9to5Mac.
The report — by Mark Gurman, who has also delved into a bit of iOS app development — says iOS 5.1 beta describes three different processor variations, making reference to "/cores/core.3," as well as "/cores/core.0," which identifies a single-core CPU, and "/cores/core.1," which identifies a dual-core processor.
Based on Apple's naming convention so far, Gurman says, ".cores/core.3" would refer to a quad-core chip. The speculation is that such a quad-core processor would be called the A6 and be used in the expected iPad 3, following Apple's dual-core A5 (used in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S) and single-core A4 (used in the first-generation iPad and the iPhone 4).
"Apple leaving references to quad-core chips in the iOS 5.1 beta is notable because iOS 5.1 is the software currently being tested against the third-generation iPad," Gurman wrote. "We cannot conclude that due to iOS 5.1 including quad-core processor references, Apple's next-generation iPad and iPhone will include a quad-core chip, but it seems reasonable based on Apple starting with a single-core chip in 2010 and moving to dual-core in 2011. A quad-core chip in 2012 would fit the pattern."
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Reading on a first-generation Apple iPad. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Siri, how do you say profit in Chinese?
One answer Apple's digital assistant might consider giving is: start selling the iPhone 4S in China. And starting on Jan. 13th, Apple will do just that.
The company said Wednesday that China will be among 22 countries that soon will get the newest iPhone, one of Apple's hottest-selling yet. The iPhone now accounts for nearly half of Apple's annual revenue, and some analysts believe it earns the company more than 60% of its profits.
China is one of the world's largest mobile device markets, with close to a billion cellphone users by some estimates. Apple currently partners with China Unicom, one of the larger carriers with close to 200 million cellular subscribers.
Apple said Wednesday it had no current plans to announce a partnership with China Mobile, the country's largest carrier with more than 630 million subscribers (a user base that, somewhat amazingly, is more than twice the size of the U.S. population). But for months now Apple has been rumored to be nailing down a deal with China Mobile, and millions of the carriers' customers are already using the iPhone by modifying the device to work on their network.
Will Siri actually be able to speak and understand Mandarin? Eventually, yes. An Apple spokesman said the company plans to add official language support in 2012 — and that will include Chinese. But Siri won't yet be multilingual when the phone hits Chinese stores this month.
— David Sarno
Photo: A couple look at an iPhone in Beijing in November. Credit: Diego Azubel / EPA
As Republicans focused on the Iowa caucuses and President Barack Obama made a pitch to Iowans of his own over streaming video on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 reelection campaign took its message to Instagram.
The president's campaign staff, which is also looking to reach voters on Tumblr and Google+ (along with a few Republican rivals), has posted two photos thus far, both of the president speaking with Iowa's caucus voters via video chat, making his case for another term in the White House.
Although Instagram — a photo-sharing app known for retro filters that allows people to share photos with one another from their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads — is new territory for Obama, the move by his 2012 campaign shouldn't come as a surprise.
In the 2008 election, Obama's team was so well known for its use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to help build up an overwhelming amount of support that the Technology blog described Obama as "the first social media President." And over the last four years, the White House has made great use of the photo-sharing site Flickr.
Instagram, which has seen its more than 5-million users share more than 150-million photos, said in a company blog post that it is "excited to welcome President Barack Obama to Instagram" and that it looks "forward to seeing how President Obama uses Instagram to give folks a visual sense of what happens in the everyday life of the President of the United States."
The Obama 2012 campaign is also looking for supporters to share their photos with the @BarackObama Instagram account by tagging their photos with "#obama2012," Instagram said.
The company also made sure to point out that political coverage on Instagram has been on the rise over the last year as the 2012 presidential election gets closer.
"News organizations such as NBC News, ABC World News and the Washington Post have been sharing behind-the-scenes photos at debates and town hall meetings across the country, offering a unique look into the 2012 elections," Instagram said.
Among the most interesting photos shared so far by news organizations covering the election on Instagram would have to be Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker's shot of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney typing on his Apple iPad in an airport.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of President Barack Obama's first Instagram photo. Credit: Obama 2012 / Instagram
As of the new year Apple's head of design, Jonathan Ive, will be a knight of the British Empire. The London-born engineer has been the lead designer at Apple for more than 15 years and grew to become the "spiritual partner" of the company late co-founder Steve Jobs, according to Jobs himself.
The two collaborated on creating the look and feel of Apple's many successful consumer electronics products.
Reached by the BBC about the honor, Ive reportedly said it was "absolutely thrilling."
"I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the U.K. of designing and making," he said. "I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design."
As described in a Times profile earlier this year, Ive is responsible for the look of Apple's iPod music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet, all blockbuster products in their own categories.
– David Sarno
Photo: Jonathan Ive of Apple in Cupertino, Calif., in 2008. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press
Apple and Android mobile devices lit up like Christmas lights on Dec. 25 as people the world over pulled a smartphone from their stocking.
People fired up 6.8 million Apple and Android devices on Christmas Day, more than doubling the 2.5 million that they activated on the same day last year, according to Flurry Analytics, a mobile metrics firm that tracks activity from 140,000 apps.
On the days leading up to Christmas, people activated about 1.5 million Apple and Android smartphones and tablets each day.
But on Christmas itself, activations shot up more than 350%, to 6.8 million. (The report does not disclose whether Apple or Google-powered devices accounted for a larger share of that number).
Perhaps a bit predictably, Christmas Day app downloads began to rocket up around 6 a.m., and remained high throughout the day until they hit a peak around 8 p.m. — that is, after dinner, when sated revelers can play with their new toys in earnest. More than 15 million apps were downloaded between 7 and 9 p.m. alone, if you line up all the world's time zones.
The Flurry report notes that app downloads have shot up in 2011, with Apple users downloading close to 10 billion this year, as many as in the previous three years combined. Google's Android devices have seen similarly rapid growth.
– David Sarno
For the Kindle Fire, Amazon's first tablet and a hot-selling item, the update promises to improve the responsiveness of touch navigation and the speed of actions on the device, such as loading webpages in the Fire's Web browser.
However, the biggest new feature might be the ability for users to edit what shows up in their "carousel" of recent apps and content displayed on the Fire's home screen.
Before the update, a Fire user couldn't remove any items — books they've read, games and music played, movies watched or websites visited — in their carousel.
The ability to remove items from the carousel was a highly requested feature and in this case, Amazon was pretty quick to deliver — the Fire was released Nov. 14.
The iOS Kindle app updates the user interface for periodicals and text books, with access to the same selection of more than 400 magazines and newspapers that are offered on the Fire, Amazon said in a statement.
For the first time, Amazon is also offering "print replica textbooks" to iOS Kindle app users, which allow for full-color pages and the ability to zoom in and out or take notes as needed, the company said.
And the update also now makes the Kindle iOS app a PDF reader as well, Amazon said, which will allow users to view their own documents — a feature offered by iBooks for some time now.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times
Buying a $200 to $400 phone for a child to play with might seem a little over the top, though some families do it. But, parents, buying a cover to protect your own pricey device is probably a smart move for the times you do inevitably hand it over, whether as a learning tool or benign distraction.
Let's face it. If you give your uncovered iPhone to your toddler, you're just asking for trouble. After all, small hands can do big damage to these devices.
But for just about $20, Infantino's HappiTaps and Griffin's Woogie 2 transform your inflexible, vulnerable iPhone into a plush, cuddlier plaything.
Here's a look at the two stuffed-animal cases.
When you pull the HappiTaps case out of the box, you're greeted by a smiling Beary Happi, the case's sweet and engaging character brought to life via free downloadable app. He really comes to life when you open the app and drop your phone into the case.
Although initially the animated face on the phone made me flash back to my fears of Teddy Ruxpin and that living teddy bear from "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" — two stuffed bears with more self-awareness than should exist in a toy — Beary Happi's big green eyes and sweet child's voice won me over fairly quickly.
The Beary Happi app includes more than 150 facial expressions, which actually are quite adorable. He blinks, winks, smiles, sleeps, eats, talks — and has different settings to moderate his expressions and mood from mellow to super chatty.
Peek-a-boo with Beary Happi involves interaction from the child. To reveal the hidden bear, the child has to tap the screen. "Feeding" him means tapping and dragging the food to his little mouth.
For 99 cents, you can get in-app additions such as two additional rattles (yes, your child will be shaking your iPhone in this case), two stories or two songs. Also, an educational game or the bedtime package (a poem, light show, lullaby and auto shut-off) can be purchased for 99 cents.
You can set the app to lock out purchases so that your happy tapper doesn't go shopping for upgrades without your knowledge or consent.
Also, it can be set to "toddler mode" to lock the menu. While the phone is in this case, it essentially impedes your child from leaving the app — they'd have to remove the phone to hit the home button. (You can adjust volume or turn it off, but it does take effort.)
It's a bit of an overstatement to call it huggable. It's a soft, cushioned cover with a miniature body. It might just be soft enough for small hands, though.
The HappiTaps case is advertised for children 18 months and older. It comes with a green hanger to attach it to, say, a play mat or car seat.
I gave it to my 7-month-old to try out. My tech-savvy teether, like babies his age, did try to put the case in his mouth.
Beary is kind of kissable. Unfortunately, there is no protective plastic cover over the iPhone screen, so there's nothing between your child's mouth and that screen — or, for that matter, the screen and any hard surface. Luckily, with an older child, you are probably less likely to have them give Beary Happi the full-on Bam-Bam treatment.
The original Woogie was a bit more like a stuffed starfish or inkblot — soft but flat. Its successor, Woogie 2, has slightly weighted legs and is more versatile in that it can stand or sit, making it more flexible for the many uses of touchscreen devices.
When I tried it out with my baby, we could play videos, have him scroll through photos, and sit and enjoy an interactive audio picture book.
My son was also able to drag the Woogie around without his protective mother being ultra-nervous about whether he'd try his burgeoning skills as an amateur drummer with her iPhone.
Unlike the HappiTaps case, Woogie 2 has a plastic face, allowing a touch-permeable barrier of sorts between the grimy screen of the iPhone or iPod and your little one.
It comes in a couple of colors — blue and pink. The original was a neon green.
This case is more like an actual stuffed animal that happens to also be a case. Your kid could play with this even without the iPhone tucked in it.
Both cases work with current and older-model iPhones and iPod Touch. I have reserved my old 3G iPhone for my baby's use and it fit easily in both.
Although the Velcro closure will hold your phone or player in place, it's fairly easy for even a child under a year old to open and free the device. So as always with children, you'll want to keep your eyes open.
Apple has hit 100 million downloads from its online software shop, the Mac App Store.
When the company opened the digital shop in January of this year, its goal was to put an end to the old days of PC software on a box — the kind users bought from brick and mortar stores like Best Buy or Fry's, or Babbage's, or Software Etc., or Egghead Software, or the Softwarehouse, or CompUSA. (Am I missing any obvious ones?)
After all, the logic goes, software is just 1's and 0's — so why would you need to drive somewhere to pick up a shrink-wrapped package full of it?
So far, the approach appears to be working. The store is averaging 8 million downloads per month this year. That includes the summer launch of Lion, the latest version of its Macintosh operating system, which sold more than 1 million digital copies in its first day, far outpacing sales of any previous OS X release.
What the company did not say is how many of the 100 million apps downloaded were, specifically, its operating system — or how many of them were counted from the many free apps available on the store.
However, some companies do approach online software sales by offering free and paid apps. Autodesk Inc. offers a simpler, free version of its AutoCAD software through the store, and its $900 AutoCAD LT version for pros (or amateurs that get hooked).
Apple also said its iPhone and iPad-based App Store hit 18 billion total downloads. That store went online for the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2008.
– David Sarno (@dsarno)
Image: Graphic of Mac App Store Logo. Credit: Rob Boudon / Flickr
Can you find the iPod in this picture?
It's sitting atop the appropriately named iNuke Boom, an 8-foot wide, 4-foot-tall, 700-pound iPod and iPhone dock that pumps out 10,000 watts of power.
And if that wasn't outrageous enough — the price tag is $29,999.
"Everyone is making something small," said Mark Wilder, vice president of marketing and communications for Behringer, the audio and music equipment company behind the iNuke Boom. "We said, 'Let's make something loud.'"
Wilder assures us that it is not a joke, and that an iNuke Boom has not only been produced but will be seen — and heard — at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show coming up in January.
"I'm not sure our neighbors are going to like us that much," he said.
Wilder admitted that the iNuke Boom is essentially a publicity stunt and marketing tool to promote the company's new line of home audio equipment.
"We made this one as a prototype, but we will make them and sell them if we take orders for them," he said.
So who is this person who would pay $30,000 for an iPhone docking station? "The buyer who has everything," said Wilder. "Probably someone with a sizable amount of property and wants to throw a party and wants something more elegant than a normal speaker system."
Elegance, we suppose, is in the eye of the very rich iPod owner.
— Deborah Netburn
Image: One very big iNuke Boom. One very small iPhone. Credit: Behringer.
Samsung chalked up a victory in its ongoing patent battle with Apple when a federal judge ruled against a proposed sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S.
Apple had requested a ban similar to the temporary injunction placed on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, but the U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday decided that such a move wasn't necessary before the dispute goes to trial in July, according to Bloomberg Businessweek
Australian's ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is set to lift on Dec. 9, with the patent battle there headed for trial in March.
The two consumer electronics titans are involved in a running legal war over the rights to technologies used on tablets and smartphones in more than 10 countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, France and Italy, and with more than 20 lawsuits filed between the two companies.
So far, sales of Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones have been temporarily banned in 30 European countries, and Germany has placed a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.7 (all devices which run on Google's Android operating system). Samsung went so far as to redesign and then re-release the German version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 as the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, but Apple requested a new ban of that tablet in that country as well, according to the Times of India.
When Apple and Samsung aren't fighting to keep each other's products off of store shelves, the two are actually business partners. Samsung, for example, manufactures Apple's A4 and A5 processors found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod Touch, among other components, such as flash memory, inside of i-devices.
Photo: An Apple iPad 2, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a store in the Hague, Netherlands, in August. Credit: Robert Vos / European Pressphoto Agency