34 apps to try out on your brand new Apple TV

When Apple TV units finally ship tomorrow, they will bring iOS apps to the big screen for the first time. Some of the best apps from your iPhone are making the jump, including Periscope, Zillow and Airbnb. And of course all the old Apple TV apps like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu and Showtime will still […]

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


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Steve Jobs’ favorite reviewer slams Aaron Sorkin’s new movie

Technology journalist Walt Mossberg opened up about the Steve Jobs movie debuting in theaters this Friday and he didn’t have many kind things to say about it. Mossberg, who knew Steve Jobs for 14 years before his passing, recalls the numerous occasions in which they talked and spent time together including in interviews. None of those […]

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


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Jony Ive Says Apple Watch Hermès Doesn’t Make Apple ‘Exclusive’

Apple design chief Jony Ive and Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal about how the Apple Watch Hermès came to be.

Interestingly, the two companies began collaborating on the premium Apple Watch last year, several months before the wrist-worn device was released.

“It’s something highly unusual for Apple to do—to talk about an unannounced project,” said Mr. Ive, 48 years old. They decided to partner over lunch in Paris, where Hermès is based, last October.

Jony Ive believes that, while the Apple Watch Hermès was the most expensive product introduced at Apple’s media event earlier this week, the premium watch does not make Apple an „exclusive“ company. He later compared the Apple Watch Hermès to the Apple Watch Sport, stating that the same amount of time and effort went into designing both models.

“We don’t think in those terms,” Mr. Ive said in an interview Wednesday, after the Apple Watch Hermès was unveiled. “I’m not comfortable with words like exclusive.” […]

“Look at this next to one of the sport collection,” he says, referring to the $349 rubber-bracelet version that accounts for the majority of watch sales to date, according to people familiar with the matter. “There’s not one that had more care invested in its designing or making.”

Nevertheless, Apple’s partnership with luxury goods maker Hermès is further evidence the Apple Watch is being positioned to both the high-end technology and fashion industries. The returns could be lucrative, with the Apple Watch Hermès lineup ranging in price from $1,100 to $1,500.

Apple Watch Hermès watches feature leather straps handmade in France, with ten different models to choose from in Single Tour, Double Tour and Cuff designs. The collection will be available for purchase in October at select Apple Store and Hermès locations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Toronto.



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Apple Supplier Numbers Suggest Apple Watch Sales Are Below Analyst Expectations

We’re all curious about how many Apple Watches Apple has sold, but with the company opting not to break out its Apple Watch sales numbers, all we have to go on are analyst guesses, information distilled from third-party sources, and tidbits of data that Apple has provided.

The latest data that hints at how the Apple Watch has fared comes from The Wall Street Journal, citing shipment information provided by analyst Mark Li from Taiwan’s Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) most recent earnings call. ASE is the company that builds the S1 package housing the many chips and sensors used in the Apple Watch.

An ASE subsidiary reportedly failed to meet its „break-even volume“ of two million units shipped per month during the second quarter and does not believe it will meet that target in the third quarter, either. The company’s failure to meet this target suggests the Apple Watch „is not selling nearly as well as some analysts expected,“ says The Wall Street Journal.

„The shortfall of Apple Watch is a disappointment,“ Mr. Li wrote in a note to clients. „We came in with a low expectation but below break-even still surprised us.“

In an interview, Mr. Li said it is unusual for a company like ASE not to reach break-even volume during a typically busy period like the third quarter, especially when dealing with a new product.

He said that he now expects ASE to fall short of his forecast of shipping 18 million units this year, peaking in June.

Ahead of Apple’s recent earnings call, analyst estimates of Apple Watch sales during its first quarter of availability ranged from 2.85 million to 5.7 million, averaging out to 4.07 million. After the call, many analysts adjusted their estimates, with the consensus largely changing to between 2.2 and 3 million units sold. Estimates continue to vary, however, with Strategy Analytics suggesting Apple sold 4 million units in a recent report.

During the call Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Watch sales „exceeded [Apple’s] expectations,“ despite supply continuing to trail demand at the end of the quarter. „We feel really great about how we did,“ he said. Apple CFO Luca Maestri hinted current revenue from the Apple Watch was „well over“ $952 million, but he also did not provide insight into sales.

In the past, Tim Cook has warned against attempting to infer information from single data points from the company’s supply chain due to its complexity.



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Apple Revokes Monster’s ‘Made for iPhone’ License Following Beats Lawsuit

Apple has suspended audio accessory maker Monster’s right to make licensed accessories for Apple devices following a lawsuit Monster filed against Apple-owned Beats Electronics in January, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Monster produces Lightning charging cables and headphones that are certified to work with Apple devices under Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) certification process, and it has done so since 2005. As of May 5, Apple is ending its agreement with Monster and will no longer allow the company to make MFi certified accessories.

Monster’s general counsel David Tognotti said Noreen Krall, Apple’s chief litigation counsel, told him that their agreement was being terminated, effective May 5, because the relationship between the two companies is no longer „mutually beneficial“ in the wake of Monster’s lawsuit. According to Mr. Tognotti, Ms. Krall said the suit would „destroy the working relationship“ between Apple and Monster.

Monster’s lawsuit accused Beats Electronics, Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, and HTC of conspiring to acquire Monster’s portion of Beats Electronics through a fraudulent deal. Well before Beats Electronics was bought by Apple, Monster designed and sold Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. That ended in 2011, after Beats sold 51 percent of the company to HTC and invoked a change of ownership clause in the Beats/Monster deal.

Beats Electronics later repurchased HTC’s stake in the company and convinced Monster CEO Noel Lee to sell a portion of his 5 percent stake as well. According to Lee, this was a „sham transaction“ designed to exclude Monster from profits from Beats by Dre sales and later, profits from the Apple acquisition, which would have been more than $100 million had he retained his stake in the company.

With Apple ending its MFi agreement with Monster, Monster will be required to change its packaging and rework some products that use licensed technology. The headphones in the image above, for example, are described as including Apple ControlTalk® microphone, music, and volume control. Apple is permitting Monster to continue to sell accessories through September, but the company is not allowed to produce new MFi-certified cables and headphones.

According to Monster, 900 of its more than 4,000 products produced since 2008 have been made under the MFi program, and the company has paid out more than $12 million in licensing fees since that date. Monster lawyer David Tognotti says the move is excessive and „shows a side of Apple that consumers don’t see very often.“ „Apple can be a bully,“ he said.





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New Book Explores How the iPhone Contributed to BlackBerry’s Downfall

Over the past several years, BlackBerry has gone from one of the top smartphone manufacturers to a company that’s struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market. BlackBerry is hemorrhaging subscribers and losing revenue quarter after quarter as it attempts to turn the tide by focusing on marketing secure devices and software to its enterprise customers.

An upcoming book by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Losing the Signal, explores the events that led to the rise and fall of BlackBerry, and an interesting excerpt was shared by The Wall Street Journal today, covering the iPhone’s contributions towards BlackBerry’s (then known as RIM) failure.

As we’ve previously learned from Google execs, the launch of the iPhone, which stood apart from all other smartphones on the market at the time, took everyone by surprise. Not only was the iPhone incredibly different from its competitors, it also had features that carriers had previously denied other manufacturers like an App Store and a full web browser.

Image via CIO
One of RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis’ first comments was „These guys are really, really good,“ but despite that fact, RIM failed to see the iPhone as a threat due to its lack of security and the fact that it had no keyboard, features RIM execs thought would make it unappealing to RIM’s core consumers.

If the iPhone gained traction, RIM’s senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security. RIM’s core business customers valued BlackBerry’s secure and efficient communication systems. Offering mobile access to broader Internet content, says Mr. Conlee, „was not a space where we parked our business.“

RIM executives did not understand the iPhone and were „incredulous“ that people were purchasing it, realizing too late that form had become as important as function in the eyes of consumers. In an effort to combat the threat of the iPhone, RIM teamed up with Verizon to create a competing touch-based phone – the Storm.

Verizon pressured RIM into speeding up development on the phone, resulting in a product that was riddled with bugs and issues when it launched in 2008. Despite the flaws, the product was heavily marketed and RIM sold 1 million in two months, leading to a lot of unhappy customers who wanted to return or exchange their devices.

The Storm was a spectacular failure that impacted RIM’s relationship with Verizon, ruined its reputation, and cost upwards of $100 million. After the failure, the company was demoralized and at a crossroads, unsure of where to take the company going forward and how to compete with the iPhone and other smartphones in a landscape that was radically different from what the company knew.

RIM was unable to fully recover from failure of the Storm and find its footing, eventually leading to the path that it’s on today. „The Storm failure made it clear we were not the dominant smartphone company anymore, said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsille. „We’re grappling with who we are because we can’t be who we used to be anymore, which sucked…It’s not clear what the hell to do.“

The full excerpt from the book is worth a read and can be found over at The Wall Street Journal. The book itself is coming out on May 26 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $21.





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Former Beats Execs Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor Leading Development of Apple’s New Music Service

Rumors about a revamped Apple-branded Beats streaming music service have been circulating since September of last year, but as the launch of the service draws nearer, information on pricing and content has been leaking out.

In a detailed report on the upcoming service published today, The New York Times confirms some previously known information and adds new details on the roles Trent Reznor and Jimmy Iovine are playing in the development of the music service. The report also divulges some information on Apple’s interest in exclusive album releases and the company’s work on an iTunes Radio revamp.

Apple’s upcoming streaming music service is said to take on many of the characteristics of the existing Beats Music service, with a focus on curated playlists and a „vivid visual appeal“ that also fits into Apple’s minimal design aesthetic. It’s unlikely to retain the „Beats Music“ moniker, and it is being tested as a part of iOS 9.

As previously rumored, while Apple hoped to price its new service at $7.99, undercutting the prices of competing services like Spotify and Rdio, it saw significant resistance from record companies. As a result, the service will likely be priced similarly to those other services, at $9.99 per month, but it will have no free tier.

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who was the Chief Creative Officer at Beats before it was acquired by Apple, is „playing a major role“ in the redesign of the music streaming app. Jimmy Iovine, Beats co-founder, is also said to be playing an important role furthering Apple’s music ambitions.

Mr. Iovine has set the tone of the transformation of Apple’s music plans, according to music executives. Mr. Iovine, who reports to Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of software and Internet services, has been leading aggressive talks to secure prominent album releases that will be exclusive to Apple, akin to what Beyoncé did when she released her self-titled album on iTunes in December 2013. One music executive involved in the negotiations described this part of the new iTunes as „Spotify with Jimmy juice.“

Along with a revamped music service, Apple is said to be planning to debut an enhanced version of iTunes Radio, which will be more tailored to listeners in regional markets and more like a traditional radio station. Recent hire Zane Lowe, a former BBC radio DJ has joined the iTunes Radio team as part of this effort.

Rumors have suggested that Apple’s revamped music service will debut at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which is also when we’ll see the first unveiling of iOS 9. If the music service is built into iOS 9, it’ll see an official release in the fall when the operating system debuts.




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