Apple Close to Approval for Opening Retail Locations in India

Apple is close to gaining clearance to open its first retail store locations in India, according to a source familiar with the matter speaking with Bloomberg. Apple will be re-submitting its retail presence application to the Indian government due to a format problem, but Bloomberg‘s source said that India plans to push the application through without issue.

Due to the fact that Apple is „a provider of cutting-edge technology,“ the Cupertino-based company will be exempt from a rule set by the Indian government that states any foreign businesses selling a single brand must acquire 30 percent of its product’s manufacturing inputs locally. Since Apple manufactures most of its products in China, the stipulation has been an issue for the company in trying to make headway into the Indian retail market.

„Most of the growth in India will come from new users coming into the Apple ecosystem, unlike in the West where growth is mainly from existing users upgrading,“ said Tarun Pathak, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based near New Delhi. “You can expect the stores to focus mostly on iPhones.”

Due to the high-end pricing of the iPhone, Apple has remained a small share of the smartphone market within India for the past few years. With 2 percent of the market, Apple is behind companies like Samsung (26 percent), Intex (10 percent), and Lenovo (9 percent) in terms of smartphone sales.

Last summer, Apple announced the Authorized Mobility Resellers program in India, which was reported to be focused on opening 500 retail store locations across 12 cities in India. With such a small share of the country’s 220 million smartphone users, it seems Apple is finally getting closer to increasing its foothold in the country.

Tags: India, Apple retail
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$2,000 Phantom speakers will soon haunt Apple Store shelves

Devialet’s Phantom speaker is a ultra deluxe bit of audio gear, and Apple’s about to favor it with some serious retail real estate as the Cupertino-based company places the company from France’s product front and center in select Apple Stores. If you head to one of them, you’ll see the Phantom starting Wednesday, December 9. […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple Orders Display Driver Chips From Synaptics for Next iPhones

Apple has placed LCD display driver orders with touchscreen supplier Synaptics for its next-generation iPhones, indicating the Cupertino-based company’s in-house development of touch and display driver integration (TDDI) chips may have fallen behind schedule, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes.

iPhone 7 concept with integrated Touch ID by designer Martin Hajek

Synaptics acquired Renesas SP Drivers, reportedly the sole supplier of LCD driver ICs for iPhones, in September 2014 in an effort to maintain orders from Apple, and for now it appears the iPhone maker will remain one of its customers. The supplier also works with Google, HTC, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and other smartphone makers.

Apple previously recruited senior Renesas engineers to internally develop TDDI chips with Touch ID integrated into the display. The single-chip solution could allow for the Home button to be eliminated on future iOS devices, but Apple ordering regular display drivers from Synaptics indicates the technology may not be ready for the iPhone 7.

Apple has filed multiple patents for displays with integrated Touch ID and trackpad capabilities over the past few years, and the iPhone 7 lineup is due for a significant redesign, but it remains too early to predict whether Apple will ever remove its iconic Home button on future iPhones.

In March, Synaptics announced the first TDDI single-chip solutions for smartphones and tablets, allowing for thinner and brighter displays with best-in-class capacitive touch performance. The reduced number of components, fewer lamination steps and increased manufacturing yield of TDDI chips also lowers production costs.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7 (2016)
Tags: Synaptics, TDDI
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Apple Remaining ‘Conservative’ Over Upcoming Sales of iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is less than a month from launch – with an unspecified date for the device sometime in November – but a few rumors out of Apple’s supply chain yesterday are already pointing to the company’s expected sales figures for the 12.9-inch display tablet. According to the supply chain sources (via DigiTimes), Apple has placed „limited orders“ for the iPad Pro for the 2015 holiday season, leading into the first quarter of 2016, pointing towards a „conservative attitude“ regarding the sales of the larger-screened iPad.

Specifically, the sources say the company has placed orders for less than 2.5 million iPad Pro units for the end of 2015. After that, Apple is believed to take a wait-and-see approach to the volume amount for Q1 2016, which could be even lower than 2.5 million if holiday sales this year aren’t impressive enough for the Cupertino-based company. The supply chain sources note that since most businesses are always looking to cut costs, the top-tier pricing of the enterprise-focused iPad Pro, and its accessories, may in fact not hit its target demographic as Apple expects.

The tablet market as a whole has stagnated over the past few years, as more and more users remain unconvinced of a reason to upgrade yearly for such a tertiary device. In July, iPad sales were found to have been in decline for six consecutive quarters, with much hope aimed at the 2015 holiday season’s launch of the new iPad line. With today’s conservative iPad Pro estimates, no iPad Air 3 launching this year, and Apple’s own soft launch of the iPad mini 4, it seems like iPad sales – and the tablet market as a whole – may not rebound as much as expected this holiday.



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Apple May Lose Monitor in E-Book Price Fixing Lawsuit

The U.S. Justice Department yesterday recommended that the court-appointed monitor placed on Apple during the price-fixing e-book case that began two years ago does not need to be extended (via Bloomberg). The Justice Department said that it’s largely satisfied with Apple’s response of reforms and compliance with the antitrust laws, even though it believes the Cupertino-based company had internal fights with the monitor assigned to them – Michael Bromwich – to ensure the sale of e-books went as the court appointed.

The government on Monday recommended that the monitoring not be extended. In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has “now implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.”

Apple admitted that the interactions between the company and its monitor were „rocky at times,“ but disagreed with the Justice Department’s claim of being uncooperative. Apple ultimately feels committed to seeing the case through to the end, stating in a joint letter to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that “Over the past two years, Apple has developed and implemented a comprehensive, engaging, and effective antitrust compliance program.”

Apple in May lost its legal challenge to the appointment of monitor Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general. The relationship between Apple and Bromwich was contentious from the start, with Apple claiming the monitor asked prematurely to interview Apple directors and submitted excessive bills. Bromwich complained of foot-dragging and lack of cooperation from Apple executives.

The case began back in 2013, when a court ruled that Apple conspired to artificially inflate e-book prices on its own iBooks store, with an estimated $500 million fine. The most recent development in the trial came in June, when Apple lost an appeal it filed last December and was fined a total of $450 million by federal judge Debra Ann Livingston.



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Apple and Chroma Partnering to Test Store-Within-a-Store Locations in India

India-based consumer electronics chain Croma has announced a new partnership with Apple to introduce a few store-within-a-store locations in the country. Croma will host the Cupertino-based company’s products at six of its retail locations as a test for the partnership, with hope to expand in the future (via The Economic Times).

„We are proud to partner Apple to launch the Apple Store in India and extremely bullish about it,“ said Avijit Mitra, chief executive officer of Infiniti Retail, which owns Croma. „These stores will be modeled on the global design and will offer the best experience to consumers, showcasing the entire range of Apple products.“

Five of the Croma locations introducing Apple support will be in Malad, Juhu, Oberoi Mall, Phoenix Mall and Ghatkopar, all located in Mumbai. The sixth, in the city of Bangalore, will be found at the Croma location in Jayanagar. All of the locations are expected to open by November 11 and will be between 400 and 500 square feet in size.

Due to India’s strict real estate investment laws for foreign companies, Apple has yet to build one of its own full retail stores in the country, so the Croma partnership gives it a good opportunity to get a foothold in India’s retail space without needing to build an entire location of its own. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently discussed expansion possibilities with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including new manufacturing plants, Apple Pay, and the upcoming release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in the country, on October 16.



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Apple Partners With Popular YouTubers for Possible Upcoming Ad Campaign

At VidCon this year, Apple was reportedly in talks with a few popular YouTube channels, suggesting the possibility of an advertising campaign collaboration between the Cupertino-based company and YouTubers like Louis Cole and Wong Fu Productions. Similar to Apple’s experimentation with advertising the iPhone 5c on Tumblr, a move to partner with well-known YouTubers with subscribers numbering in the millions could help attract a younger-skewing audience for Apple.

Specifically, Louis’ channel „FunForLouis“ has just north of 1.5 million subscribers, while Wong Fu Productions has about 2.5 million. Louis made his partnership with Apple known in a video posted in early August, detailing a meeting at Apple HQ in San Francisco, which was instigated earlier in the summer at VidCon, the yearly conference for YouTube creators in Anaheim. Louis remains understandably silent on the specifics of the meeting in the San Francisco vlog, but does confirm he and Apple will be collaborating on something together in the future.

„Well guys, that was an exciting, but very long meeting. We ended up going for some food and drinks and stuff in a bar, but turns out I’m going to be doing some stuff with Apple. They don’t work with many people, but we’re going to be doing some stuff together, which is exciting. I can’t tell you more than that.“

Wong Fu Production‘s potential connection with Apple comes from a report out of Ad Week, suggesting that the sketch comedy channel was „paired“ with Apple at VidCon in a sort of speed-date set up by the conference. Far less of an official meeting between the two as Louis Cole had, there’s still the potential that Wong Fu could see a similar partnership with the company as Louis’ channel. The style of videos differ drastically between Louis and Wong Fu, with the former presenting a detailed travelogue of his various adventures around the world, and the latter publishing straight-forward comedic skit and parody videos.

Although their styles don’t mesh together, Apple could be creating a new ad campaign, possibly for the upcoming „iPhone 6s“ and „iPhone 6s Plus,“ that centers on creatives from YouTube using the company’s new products as the main tools for shooting, editing, and publishing content for their channel. Even though FunForLouis and Wong Fu Productions aren’t even close to the most popular channels on the site (the top 100 range in descending order from 38 million to 6 million subscribers), if Apple keeps partnering up with distinctive channels, it could create an interesting, idiosyncratic ad campaign.



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Apple’s Marc Newson Believes Automotive Design is Lacking Progress

The Wall Street Journal has published an in-depth profile of industrial designer Marc Newson, a longtime friend of Apple design chief Jonathan Ive who joined the Cupertino-based company in September 2014. The interview touches upon a number of topics, ranging from Newson’s creative process and design philosophies to his favorite artists and fashion designers.

Apple designers Marc Newson (left) and Jonathan Ive (right) via Vanity Fair
Just months after reports claimed Apple is actively researching and developing an electric and possibly self-driving vehicle, Newson added fuel to those rumors by referring to the automotive industry as one of his design pet-peeves. The designer said that while cars used to encapsulate „everything that was good about progress,“ the industry is now „at the bottom of a trough.“

My design pet-peeve is: the automotive industry. There were moments when cars somehow encapsulated everything that was good about progress. But right now we’re at the bottom of a trough.

Newson’s comments certainly do not imply that Apple is working on a vehicle, but it is clear that multiple executives at the Cupertino-based company are car enthusiasts. Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue joined Ferrari’s Board of Directors in November 2012, while Ive has owned several luxury vehicles ranging from Aston Martins and Fiats to Bentleys and Land Rovers.

Jonathan Ive’s previous Aston Martin DB9 supercar
The New Yorker also reflected on how Newson and Ive are „car guys“ in February:

He and Newson are car guys, and they feel disappointed with most modern cars; each summer, they attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where vintage sports cars are exhibited and raced in the South of England. “There are some shocking cars on the road,” Ive said. “One person’s car is another person’s scenery.” To his right was a silver sedan with a jutting lower lip. Ive said, quietly, “For example.” As the disgraced car fell behind, I asked Ive to critique its design: “It is baffling, isn’t it? It’s just nothing, isn’t it? It’s just insipid.” He declined to name the model, muttering, “I don’t know, I don’t want to offend.” (Toyota Echo.)

It was reported in February that Apple has hundreds of employees, including former Tesla, Ford and GM engineers, working on an electric vehicle at a top-secret research lab possibly located in the Sunnyvale area. The much-rumored initiative, known internally as „Project Titan,“ likely remains in the early stages of research and development, with Bloomberg reporting that Apple hopes to begin production in 2020.



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