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Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

New browsing apps available for the iPhone

Posted by comtech3 on January 20, 2009

January 14, 2009 5:49 AM PST

Posted by Caroline McCarthy

We’re guessing that they won’t surpass iBeer in popularity any time soon, but this is big news for the App Store: Apple has quietly started allowing Web browser applications in.

According to MacRumors, a small bunch of browser apps were recently let into the App Store. They include the free Edge Browser, the historyless Incognito ($1.99), the tabbed WebMate ($0.99), and something called Shaking Web ($1.99) that attempts to make Web sites easier to read.

Previously, Apple had not approved third-party browsers for the App Store; its own Safari browser is preinstalled on the iPhone. Other browsers weren’t allowed, citing “duplicating functionality.”

The browser apps currently in the App Store all have some kind of quirk that sets them apart from standard browsers, ranging from a slant in design (Edge) to one in privacy (Incognito). They’re all built using Safari as a base too. So it’s not yet clear whether Apple will open the gates to iPhone versions of completely separate third-party browsers, such as Firefox or Opera.


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‘SimCity’ arrives on the iPhone

Posted by comtech3 on December 22, 2008

December 18, 2008 7:10 AM PST

To the stable of games for the iPhone, you can now add the legendary SimCity.

Electronic Arts’ city-building game, priced at $9.99, is now available for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Users can take advantage of the touch-screen technology to design and construct their vision of an urban landscape.

SimCity on the iPhone

SimCity on the iPhone.

(Credit: EA Mobile, via Apple’s App Store)

MG Siegler at VentureBeat, who’s had a chance to play with the game for a while, waxed enthusiastic about the touch-screen qualities and more–“SimCity is a very impressive game on the iPhone”–but warned of some lingering bugs from the game’s demo period:

While some of those issues have been fixed–the game runs fairly snappy now, when loaded–I’m experiencing the game crashing and a slowdown in actions like zooming. From the early reviews I’m seeing on SimCity’s App Store page, I’m not alone in experiencing this.

And unfortunately, loading even the more bare-bones previously saved city takes a long time (I’m talking minutes). Maybe for some, that will just add to the nostalgic experience–I remember this was an issue on my old PC back in the day as well. For others, it’ll be annoying.

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Palm to preview Nova OS and first device at CES

Posted by comtech3 on December 16, 2008

December 15, 2008 9:54 AM PST
Posted by Bonnie Cha

It’s been a while since Palm has caused a stir, but the company certainly has people talking with its planned January 8 CES event. As CNET News reporter Tom Krazit reported last week, it’s expected that Palm will preview its new operating system, codenamed Nova, at CES 2009, and the rumors look to be true based on new information from a Business Week article.

According to Peter Burrows at Business Week, Palm will unveil Nova and the first of a family of products in Vegas, but it’s not looking to go after the iPhone or BlackBerry. Instead, Palm Executive Chairman Jon Rubenstein said the goal behind Nova is to create a flexible platform that supports a number of customer needs and to create products that bridge the gap between work-oriented BlackBerrys and the fun-oriented iPhone. Before joining Palm, Rubenstein was the senior vice president for hardware engineering at Apple.

Rubenstein and Palm executives wouldn’t get much more specific about product details, other than that the team hopes to create phones that “make smarter use of data about you.” The company also hopes to release products by mid-2009. I’ll be at the January 8 event, so check back then for the full report and my first impressions

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iPhone Nano rumors surface once again

Posted by comtech3 on December 16, 2008

December 15, 2008 10:44 AM PST

Posted by Tom Krazit

With less than a month to go before Macworld, the rumors have started, and they sound familiar.

The possibility of an iPhone Nano has once again been served up for mass consumption by the Apple rumor mill, this time courtesy of a Web site called iDealsChina. The site claims that Apple accessory maker XSKN has been developing a case for a new version of the iPhone that is shorter and thicker than the iPhone 3G and that will be announced at Macworld in January., which attempts to handicap the Apple rumor industry, notes that iDealsChina “has a very mixed track record” when it comes to reading the Apple tea leaves. The site did publish photos of case designs for what became the iPhone 3G, but incorrectly predicted that the second-generation iPod Touch would have GPS.

iPhone Nano rumors date back to the launch of the original iPhone, when a financial analyst predicted that Apple would have a slimmed-down version of the iPhone out for the 2007 holiday season. That obviously didn’t happen, and other reports this summer and more recent speculation about a $99 4GB iPhone to be sold at Wal-Mart have kept the rumor alive.

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Apple’s Black Friday deals

Posted by comtech3 on November 26, 2008

November 25, 2008 9:47 AM PST
Posted by Julie Rivera
(Credit: Apple)

Update: The promotion is now live on the U.S. Apple Store site.

Apple will be holding a one-day shopping event on Black Friday, according to a teaser up on Apple’s Web site. Every sale on the Apple Store is an event, as it happens very rarely, and discounts on Apple products are meager throughout the year. That is, if this is an event full of discounts and sales. The interesting part is in the wording:

“Come back to the Apple Online Store this Friday for a special one-day-only Christmas shopping event. You’ll find dozens of great iPod, iPhone and Mac gift ideas – all with free delivery.”

However, anyone who is familiar with how Apple works, one would surmise that Apple is referring to iPhone accessories as the “gift ideas” and not the device itself.

Furthermore, and not to play devil’s advocate here, but this teaser is for an Apple Online Store sale. Not to mention that this promotion is only up on the New Zealand Apple Store currently, as MacRumors notes — but it will undoubtedly be up for other parts of the world as well soon.

Although, Apple isn’t specific as to what products they will offer at this “special one-day event” on Friday, the symbol on the teaser page pretty much contains all Apple products. Most likely, one of the products that Apple will offer hot deals on would be the iMac as it wasn’t updated this fall and new iMacs should be coming early 2009.

In the meantime, Best Buy currently offers $50-$150 discounts on Apple Computers

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New iPod Touch faster than iPhone 3G

Posted by comtech3 on November 25, 2008

November 24, 2008 12:16 PM PST
Posted by Tom Krazit

Apple appears to have upped the processing speed of the iPod Touch in order to help it go after the portable-game market.

Touch Arcade reports that the applications processor inside the second-generation iPod Touch unveiled in September is actually running faster than the processor inside the iPhone 3G, which runs at the same speed that the original iPhone and iPod Touch used. The new iPod Touch’s ARM-based processor is running at 532MHz, while the iPhone 3G’s processor runs at 412MHz.

A game developer interviewed by Touch Arcade noticed a huge difference in 3D-rendering speed as a result of the speed bump. As we remember fondly from our “megahertz madness” days of the Intel-AMD competition in the PC, processor speed is not the only measure of performance, but it is an important one.

With the arrival of the App Store, Apple has been marketing the latest iPod Touch as a gaming device in its latest round of commercials, almost completely ignoring the fact that it’s a music and video player as well.

It seems that Apple has room to boost the clock speed of the processor to 620MHz, according to ARM’s specifications, but that requires striking a balance between performance and battery life.

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Software unlock for iPhone 3G coming soon?

Posted by comtech3 on October 28, 2008

October 27, 2008 10:32 AM PDT
Posted by Tom Krazit

An unlocked iPhone 3G is a little closer to becoming reality, according to the iPhone Dev Team.

An easy way of unlocking your iPhone 3G could hit the Internet relatively soon.

(Credit: CNET)

Gizmodo picked up on a video produced by the iPhone Dev Team demonstrating that it has gained access to the baseband processor used by Apple in the iPhone 3G. The baseband chip is what controls the connection between the phone and the mobile phone network, meaning that a software download that could let you use your iPhone 3G on a carrier network other than the ones officially designated by Apple could be released soon.

I’m sure you remember the fuss about the original iPhone and those who sought to unlock it from the four carriers that were Apple’s launch partners for the first iPhone. The iPhone 3G has proven a tougher nut to crack, because Apple apparently changed the baseband to make it more difficult to exploit than the baseband used on the original iPhone. You can unlock your iPhone 3G to use it on another carrier by modifying the SIM card, but what the iPhone Dev Team is trying to accomplish is a software-based unlock that you would just download and install.

There hasn’t been as much demand for unlocked iPhone 3Gs, given the much greater distribution of that phone around the world. However, there are still some countries like China that don’t carry the iPhone, and there are still some users who want to use their iPhones on a different carrier than the one designated for the iPhone in their country.

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Why the iPhone is now Apple’s most important product

Posted by comtech3 on October 22, 2008

October 21, 2008 6:52 PM PDT

Posted by Tom Krazit

When Apple Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in January 2007, even he might not have realized how soon it would become a huge part of Apple’s business.

(Credit: Declan McCullagh/CNET News)

The rampant success of the iPhone has forced Apple and its financial watchers to re-evaluate the value of the company.

Saying that Apple’s iPhone business “had become too big to ignore,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a rare appearance on the company’s earnings conference call earlier on Tuesday to explain just how much money the iPhone is dumping into Apple’s coffers. For the first time, the company used supplemental financial details to give some color on the contribution that the iPhone could be making to Apple’s bottom line if iPhone sales were handled like Mac sales, and the numbers are astonishing.

The iPhone now accounts for 39 percent of Apple’s business, having generated $4.6 billion in revenue on sales of 6.9 million units during the quarter. (Apple TV revenue is lumped in with that number, but let’s be real: iPhone sales account for the vast, vast majority of that figure.) Those numbers, however, are not included as part of Apple’s official quarterly results because of the way the company chooses to account for the sale of each iPhone; Apple reported just $806 million in iPhone and Apple TV revenue for its fourth quarter in accordance with GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles).

So what gives? In order to explain, please permit me to wade through some boring-but-necessary Accounting 101 review.

Apple uses a subscription-based accounting method to recognize the revenue from the sale of an iPhone or an Apple TV unit. Remember the outrage in January 2007 over Apple’s decision to charge certain MacBook customers $1.99 to unlock the faster Wi-Fi chip hidden inside their notebooks? The company didn’t decide to charge people because it was short on cash; Apple had to in order to satisfy accounting rules that require a company to establish a value for future upgrades if a decision was made to recognize all the revenue from the sale of a product at the time it was purchased.

To avoid the same situation with its brand-new iPhone customers, Apple announced shortly after the launch of the product that all iPhone revenue would be recorded over a 24-month period, allowing the company to ship software upgrades to the iPhone for free. Note that for whatever reason, it doesn’t apply that treatment to its Mac or iPod product lines, meaning that Apple has to charge iPod Touch owners a fee for the exact same upgrades that iPhone owners receive.

The problem with this accounting treatment is that it pushes most of the revenue associated with the sale of an iPhone out into the future, making it difficult for investors to determine just how much revenue and profit is being generated by the sale of a particular unit until long after that unit has been sold. In addition, Apple has to recognize engineering and marketing costs associated with the sale of those iPhones in the quarter in which they occurred, not over the 24-month period.

Starting Tuesday, however, Apple decided to open the kimono on its iPhone business in a new way.

Apple revealed the numbers it uses internally to measure the performance of the iPhone business for the first time on Tuesday. Imagine Apple treated the iPhone like it did the Mac: it would have recorded an additional $3.8 billion in revenue and an additional $1.3 billion in net income during the company’s fourth fiscal quarter.

Total iPhone revenue of $4.6 billion would have represented 39 percent of Apple’s overall adjusted revenue of $11.7 billion, and would have ranked it third among all mobile phone vendors as measured by revenue after just 15 months on the market, according to the company. “If this isn’t stunning, I don’t know what is,” Jobs said.

A few words of caution are necessary regarding the use of supplemental results to evaluate a company. Apple posted a lengthy disclosure on the numbers in its press release, warning among other things, “these non-GAAP financial measures may be unique to the Company, as they may be different from non-GAAP financial measure used by other companies. As such, this presentation of non-GAAP financial measures may not enhance the comparability of the Company’s results to the results of other companies.” (Jobs, of course, did just that in ranking Apple third among all mobile phone vendors as measured by revenue, so there you go).

But we’re still talking about real money. Regardless of how Apple decides to account for iPhone revenue, it’s still real revenue, and it provides cash for the company to invest in iPhone engineers (such as the former P.A. Semi team, for example), market the iPhone, and work on software enhancements to the product.

It allows us to make imperfect estimates on just how much Apple is receiving in subsidies on each iPhone 3G. $4.6 billion in revenue divided by 6.9 million units equals $666.67 per iPhone. That’s a little high, since some portion of that revenue has to be attached to Apple TV sales, but even making the unlikely assumption that Apple sold $500 million worth of a product it calls a “hobby” during the fourth quarter puts the average cost of an iPhone 3G at $594.20.

And it also underscores that Apple has completed its transformation from a computer company into a consumer electronics company, the only computer company of its generation to successfully pull off that transition. They all tried, but no traditional PC company has managed to shift the bulk of its business from low-margin PCs to high-margin consumer electronics: the iPhone now represents 39 percent of Apple’s revenue using the supplemental metrics, while the Mac accounts for 30 percent.

The iPhone isn’t just the third leg of Apple’s business that Jobs promised it would become back in January 2007, when he introduced the iPhone and changed the name of the company from Apple Computer to Apple Inc. It’s now the single largest contributor to Apple’s bottom line.

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Apple, AT&T speed up iPhone 3G buying over Web

Posted by comtech3 on September 24, 2008

September 23, 2008 3:27 PM PDT

Posted by Tom Krazit

Apple has figured out a way to let prospective iPhone 3G buyers get a few of the steps out of the way at home.

The activation process is still not quite as smooth as the one that greeted new owners of the original iPhone, but Apple and AT&T seem to have figured out a way to make things a little easier while keeping the unlockers at bay as much as possible. A visit to an Apple or AT&T store is still required, but some of the preliminary details can now be completed via the Internet.

For instance, you can enter your billing information to generate the credit check required for a new contract, pick a rate plan, and make an appointment to pick up an iPhone 3G. The phone still needs to be activated in the store, which is Apple and AT&T’s way of trying to deter those who wish to unlock the phone and resell it for a profit.

This may not apply to everyone, such as those who have business accounts or other special discounts, but should streamline the process a bit for everyone else. Piper Jaffray thinks Apple will have sold 5 million iPhone 3Gs in the current quarter, and this process could make it a little easier for holiday shoppers toward the end of the year.

Apple and AT&T have figured out a way to shave a few minutes off the iPhone 3G purchasing experience.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET News)

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iPhone apps: Bad for Facebook, OpenSocial?

Posted by comtech3 on July 11, 2008

July 10, 2008 9:55 AM PDT CNET

Posted by Caroline McCarthy

What does the iPhone 3G have to do with the future of social platforms like Facebook and OpenSocial? A lot, actually.

It’s because of the iPhone App Store, the add-on to the iTunes Store that opened its doors on Thursday in anticipation of the new device and its iPhone 2.0 software.

With more than 550 third-party applications available at launch, Apple’s new mini marketplace means that for the first time since the social-application craze started more than a year ago, the hottest new trend has nothing to do with Web-based networks.

“(The iPhone is) a device that’s made for ‘social,'” said Bart Decrem, a veteran of browsers Firefox and Flock who went on to found Tapulous, a start-up firm that has released three iPhone games in the App Store and plans to roll out more. “This is a device that’s always connected, that’s always on you. It knows where you are, you can take pictures with it, and you can send messages with it.”

The new iPhone: it’s pretty, it’s shiny, it’s versatile, and owners rarely leave it out of their sight. The implication for Facebook, as well as open-source social network platform OpenSocial, is that if developers see more compelling reasons to build software for the iPhone instead, they could jump ship.

And there’s a big reason: money.

It’s true that there is not an obvious path to jump from one to the other. Traditionally, the Web development space has been distinctly separate from the tight-knit community of Mac developers, said developer Jesse Farmer, who writes about both on the 20bits blog. “There’s cultural differences and technical differences. People who develop software for social platforms tend to come from the Web world. They tend to travel in their own social circles,” he explained.

When it comes to the App Store, Farmer said the first ones to the table “are the people who are really into that stuff. The Mac developers are going to be the first ones there, mostly because developing for the iPhone is going to be a lot like developing for the Mac.”

The money factor
There might be an apples-and-oranges vibe when it comes to comparing social-platform developers with iPhone developers, but the money factor could easily make some of them willing to bridge the gap.

For small-time developers, it’s become increasingly tough to make a buck or two from applications on Facebook’s platform, where the easiest route to cash is ad impressions. The space has become dominated by half-billion-dollar firms like Slide and RockYou, something that Farmer has pointed out in his analyses of developer discontent.

“If you’ve already succeeded on Facebook, OpenSocial, or whatever, there’s really no reason to (switch),” Farmer said of iPhone development. Thing is, there are thousands upon thousands of developers who haven’t succeeded, or who enjoyed only flash-in-the-pan success. “People who are sort of disillusioned with social networks and haven’t found a way to succeed…I can see them moving over and trying it out.”

“Buying and installing an iPhone app feels very similar to buying a song through iTunes, and that familiarity is undoubtedly going to work to the advantage of all developers on the platform.”

— Eric Litman, CEO, Medialets

The iPhone App Store is structured completely differently, and that might be appealing. True, there are barriers to entry: a fee to join the developer program, and selectivity when it comes to apps that wind up in the store. But that could get a thumbs-up from developers who grew tired of the saturation of Zombie Bite-type games on Facebook’s platform.

“It’s disruptive in the way that going from DOS to Windows was disruptive,” Tapulous’ Decrem said. “That means that there are tremendous new opportunities, and entire new classes of applications and companies will come into existence.” He said that with the iPhone 1.0 software, which required a “jailbreaking” hack to be able to install third-party applications, the games released by Tapulous had already seen a million installs. In other words, people want this stuff.

And here’s the real kicker: the creators of iPhone applications can charge a fee for downloads, thus creating a way to make money that’s unheard of on free-for-all social-network platforms. Of the 552 applications in the App Store at launch, 417 of them are paid downloads, one of them costing a whopping $69.99. (That’d be ForeFlight, which provides runway and airport data for airline pilots.)

“Apple has built payments directly into the app distribution model in a way that is already comfortable and familiar to over 100 million iPod users,” said Eric Litman, whose new start-up Medialets also hopes to cash in on the iPhone developer gold rush. “Buying and installing an iPhone app feels very similar to buying a song through iTunes, and that familiarity is undoubtedly going to work to the advantage of all developers on the platform.”

Investment bank Piper Jaffray estimated last month that the iPhone App Store could be a billion-dollar business by 2009, and that nearly 90 million people worldwide could own compatible iPhone and iPod Touch devices by the end of that year. That’s a bigger audience than Facebook has now–though it should be noted that the number is probably optimistic. And the lower price point for the new iPhone 3G, just $199 for the lower-end model, means that its reputation as a geek fetish toy will probably go away soon. Charging five bucks for an application could bring in some real dollars.

Advertising industry ready to jump in
But even if a developer is committed to distributing his or her iPhone applications for free, the ad industry is already chomping at the bit. That’s in stark contrast to the debut of the Facebook platform, where many developers simply used Google’s AdSense at the start, and it wasn’t until months later that Facebook application ad networks started to pop up. (Now they’re everywhere.)

“There is a lot of ad agency excitement right now about the iPhone, the iPhone 3G, and advertising possibilities on the iPhone,” said Greg Yardley, founder of iPhone ad start-up Pinch Media. “I know that inventory just on regular Web pages optimized for the iPhone is selling fast.”

There’s still no concrete reason to believe that advertising on the iPhone will work much better than advertising on a social network, just a lot of statistics and guesswork.

“Mobile has been the redheaded stepchild of advertising for a long time, simply because the tracking has been really bad, and traditionally, the targeting has been really bad,” Yardley said. “Now that the iPhone is going out there, there are more interesting ad opportunities. I think we’re going to see an increase in spend, but it’s not going to be a flip of a switch. You’re always going to get a few agencies that are going to get out there and do interesting things, but those agencies were going to do interesting things, anyway.”

Even if the money’s not as solid as it purports to be, the promise is there, and that’s going to be enough to make some developers shift the focus from their Facebook or OpenSocial applications to Apple’s shiny device. It’s guaranteed to shake things up, at the very least. “Not only will app developers move to the iPhone, I think we’ll see the social platforms themselves move there,” Litman said. “The iPhone is an inherently social device, in many ways even more so than social-networking platforms.”

There’s a lot of big dreaming, but right now, the biggest priority is getting used to the new landscape. When asked what he planned to do first after the iPhone 3G launched, Yardley said, “We have to make sure our servers stay up.”

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