Keeping you in the loop on a few of the things that happened around Apple this past week.
No iTunes for you. Tami Reller, CFO of Microsoft’s Windows divisions, said she expects a lot of the apps available on Apple’s App Store to be available for Windows 8 users in coming months – except for one. “You shouldn’t expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon,” Reller said. “iTunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.” This doesn’t mean that iTunes isn’t available for Windows 8 users. It just runs in desktop mode, which means that Windows 8 tablet users are getting a clunky experience. But it does mean it doesn’t run at all on Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. Now why would Apple, which offers the top-selling iPad tablet, want to help popularize the Surface? I can’t think of a reason either.
The great App download giveaway. Speaking of Apple’s App Store, the company is counting down to its 50 billionth download. The lucky customer who hits that mark will be rewarded with a $10,000 App Store gift card. Apple said it will also give out $500 gift cards to each of the next 50 people who download the app. As of this writing, downloads stood at around 49.75 million.
iRadio service still being tuned. Apple remains in negotiations with at least two of the top music labels, Sony and Warner, over its long-rumored streaming media music service, according to the Financial Times. Dubbed iRadio by Apple watchers (no hints yet as to what Apple will call it), the streaming service was expected to go live in the first part of this year. The FT speculates we’ll see it this summer. The delay in signing deals with the labels (Universal supposedly is already on board) has to do with money, just as you would expect. There have been several news reports speculating that Apple offered about 6 cents per 100 tracks streamed – that was rejected – and then raised this to 12.5 cents per 100 tracks, which is in line with the rate paid by popular music service Pandora. According to the FT, “Apple was offering labels three tranches of revenue: a royalty per track streamed, a share of iRadio’s advertising revenue and a guaranteed minimum sum over the course of the contract that would provide a safety net in case the number of plays or amount of advertising sold disappoints.” Even if the service doesn’t launch until the summer, I imagine it will be one of the announcements that Apple CEO Tim Cook makes at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference. This year’s WWDC will be held June 10-13 in San Francisco. Don’t bother trying to get tickets. It’s already sold out.
iPhone shipment slip. On the one hand, it’s not surprising that Google’s Android operating system led in smartphone shipments while Apple’s iOS was tops in the tablet market. But research firm Canalys, in its first-quarter review, found that Apple lost market share to Android for the third-quarter in a row. It also found that Apple’s smartphone shipment growth – of 6.7 percent – was the slowest growth posted since the iPhone made its debut in 2007. “The iPhone user interface is now six years old and badly in need of a refresh,” Canalys analyst Pete Cunningham said in the quarterly report, which you can find here. “Hardware-wise, the biggest dilemma that Apple faces is what it does with the size of the display on the next iPhone. It cannot afford to ignore the trend for larger displays in premium smart phones. We expect an increase on the iPhone 5’s 4″ display but are not anticipating a “Phablet”-style iPhone.’”
A reason not to hug your iPad2. As part of her school’s science fair, a 14-year-old high school student found the iPad 2 can interfere with the operation of some life-saving heart devices. Gianna Chien, a freshman in Stockton, California, and the daughter of a doctor, said the 30 magnets used to hold the iPad2 cover in place i could “accidentally turn off” some of those devices. “I definitely think people should be aware,” said Chien, who presented her study at a Heart Rythmn Society meeting in Denver. John Day, head of heart-rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, told Bloomberg News that Chien’s study is a “valuable warning” for people with implanted defibrillators, which are designed to deliver an electric shock to restart a stopped heart. Apple, in its online safety guide for the tablet, recommends iPad users with pacemakers hold the device at least six inches away.
A waiting list for iPhone crime busting. Police hoping to unlock iPhones as part of their crime- solving efforts reportedly turned to Apple for help, only to be told there’s a waiting list before the company can decrypt the smartphone. After digging through court documents in Kentucky detailing efforts by a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, CNET found that Apple told the agent there would be at least a 7-week delay to unlock the iPhone 4S in question. ‘The ATF agent said in an that Apple “has the capabilities to bypass the security software” and “download the contents of the phone to an external memory device” and that Apple’s legal specialist, told him that “once the Apple analyst bypasses the passcode, the data will be downloaded onto a USB external drive” and delivered to the ATF,’ according to CNET’s very interesting story. Does this mean that Apple has a way to gain access to content on your encrypted device? That’s been the topic of lots of debate.
Apple shares get the greenlight. Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn caused quite the ruckus earlier this year when he said Apple was holding on to too much of its cash and should reward shareholders (like himself) with preferred shares called iPrefs to make up for the steep decline in the company’s share price over the past year. In Greenlight’s earning call this past week, Einhorn said that the hedge firm’s biggest loss in the first quarter came from Apple, which declined about 17 percent. But that didn’t stop him from saying his firm bought even more shares. “The biggest problems for Apple investment are disappointing earnings and a diminished forecast. Our thesis remains that Apple has a terrific operating platform and is loyalty in growing customer base will make repeated purchases of a growing portfolio of Apple products,” Einhorn said, according to a transcript of his call with investors. “Apple took a major step forward by issuing debt and announcing it will return $100 billion to shareholders over the next three years. This is a vastly more shareholder firmly capital allocation policy, then where Apple stood a few months ago. We’ve added to our Apple position. Now, we just wait for the release of Apple’s next blockbuster product.” I do too, but I can’t imagine the iWatch will be it.
Breaking into the Top 10. Despite the negative buzz over Apple’s stock price over the past several months — the shares closed at $452.97 this week, way down from a $700 high in September – Apple’s sales and profit are still the envy of many. And they were strong enough to bump up Apple’s standing in Fortune’s list of companies, with the company cracking the Top 10 for the first time. Apple is now No. 6, up from No. 17 a year ago. Even with the iOS 6 maps debacle, new products that were deemed evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and Cook’s apology to Chinese consumers in recent weeks, Apple, says Fortune, “remains an innovation icon.”
Apple I up on the bidding block. An auction house in Germany will be offering up some of the world’s earliest computers later this month, including one of six working Apple I computers left in the world. The Auction Team Breker of Cologne, Germany said the Apple I, hand built by Steve Wozniak in Steve Jobs’ family garage, is expected to sell for upwards of $400,000. The machine, which was sold as a circuit board that required buyers to add their own case, keyboard, display and power supply, was priced in 1976 for $666.66. Breker says it includes the original manual and a letter from Jobs to the first owner.
Tim Cook’s time traded for charity. There’s still a few days left to put in your bid for coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook – as long as you can top the current bid price of $605,000. The monies raised for Cook’s time will be donated to the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, according to Charitybuzz, which is overseeing the auction. One note if you are thinking of stepping in with $610,000 or more: Charitybuzz requires bank verification that you’ve actually got the funds. For that much money, I would expect Cook to at least take the lucky winner to lunch at Apple’s cafeteria at its Cupertino, California headquarters. The sushi bar is really good.
Look everyone, no wires! In this week’s Steve Jobs’ nostalgia moment, I’ve included a clip from a 1999 Macworld Expo keynote in New York in which he demonstrates how WiFi works on the original iBook notebook — pulling out a Hula Hoop to show that there are no wires. It’s kind of quaint now, but listen to the applause at the time and you realize what a big deal it was.
That’s it. Enjoy the weekend.
Apple Loop: Counting Down App Downloads, Tuning Into iRadio, Bidding for … – Forbes
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