Apple Denies Rumors of Plans to Launch MVNO Carrier Services

Apple this morning directly responded to a recent rumor that the company would begin planning to launch its own MVNO service in both the United States and Europe, stating that it has „not discussed and is not planning“ to become its own cellular carrier in the future.

The MVNO service would allow Apple to become its own carrier, leasing space from existing network carriers and building SIM cards that switch from network-to-network as need be. Rumors about such a service have been around for a while now, and today marks the first time that Apple has directly denied the existence of any such feature being built by the company.

Apple rarely responds directly to rumors, but the company apparently feels the MVNO claims are important enough and far enough off base that they warrant an official response to prevent unwarranted expectations regarding the company’s future plans.

Update 8:31 AM: Reuters shares the exact statement from an Apple spokeswoman: „We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO.“



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Apple, BMW Could Resume Talks Over Possible Apple Car Partnership ‘At a Later Stage’

Earlier this month, rumors suggested Apple had been in talks with BMW about potentially using the body of the electric BMW i3 as the basis for its Apple Car, but those talks did not progress into a deal. Reuters has now spoken with some inside sources at BMW, giving us more insight into what the two companies discussed and where their relationship might lead in the future.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other senior executives visited the BMW factory in Leipzig, Germany in 2014 to look into how the i3 is manufactured. According to Reuters‘ source, Apple left the talks without reaching a deal with BMW because the company wants „to explore developing a passenger car on its own.“

During the visit, Apple executives asked BMW board members detailed questions about tooling and production and BMW executives signaled readiness to license parts, one of the sources said. News of the Leipzig visit first emerged in Germany’s Manager-Magazin last week.

„Apple executives were impressed with the fact that we abandoned traditional approaches to car making and started afresh. It chimed with the way they do things too,“ a senior BMW source said.

Apple and BMW do not have plans to jointly develop a car at this time, but one of the sources believes that „exploratory talks“ could potentially be revived in the future. Given Apple’s lack of experience with industrial manufacturing, a partnership with BMW or another car company would make sense, as it could help speed up development and eliminate many of the headaches associated with entering an entirely new industry.

Details on Apple’s rumored car project remain scarce, but the company has been hiring several automotive experts over the past few months. Apple is said to have hundreds of employees working on the secret car project and has picked up employees from companies like Tesla, Ford, and GM, along with robotics experts and researchers specializing in cutting-edge car technologies.

Rumors have suggested Apple plans to introduce its car by 2020, but Apple often works on projects that never make it to fruition, like the much-rumored Apple-branded television set. It’s possible that Apple’s car plans could be shelved or delayed in the future if the company is unhappy with its progress or finds entering the automobile market to be an unviable option.



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Teenage scammers busted for selling iPhone boxes filled with Play-Doh

Would you buy an apparently new iPhone from a random person on the street without thoroughly checking out the contents of the box first? If you answered “obviously no,” then you’re certainly smarter than the Detroit Metro PCS business which bought “iPhones” from a group of three Detroit-area teenagers only to discover, upon opening them, that they […]

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Beijing Police Shut Down Large-Scale Factory That Made Over 41,000 Counterfeit iPhones

Beijing police have shut down a large iPhone counterfeiting ring within the city that had managed to produce more than 41,000 fake versions of the flagship smartphone, some of which even managed to reach the United States (via Reuters). All told, the ring’s counterfeit production had grown to be worth as much as 120 million yuan (about $19 million).

The police have arrested a total of nine suspects thought to be involved directly in the counterfeiting operation, all due to a combined effort to enforce stricter counterfeit and intellectual property laws in China. Of the nine arrested were a 43-year-old man and his 40-year-old wife, whom police believe ran the counterfeit scam under a gadget maintenance shop front before the operation was raided in May.

The information is just coming out today, however, thanks to a social media post from the public security bureau in Beijing, which said the couple had set up the factory in January, beginning with as many as six assembly lines and „hundreds“ of workers. The raid, which took place on May 14 thanks to a tip from United States authorities, ended with the police seizing as many as 1,400 counterfeit smartphones and „large quantities“ of accessories.

The counterfeit iPhone – and now Apple Watch – market has grown in China since the device’s debut, and only became more prevalent a few years back when entire counterfeit Apple Stores were discovered by a blogger who posted photos of the false retail stores online. China remains a big target for Apple, with the company stating during last week’s earning call that the country is positioned to be its „largest market in the future.“ It’s already begun to affect changes in the design of its products, with Tim Cook confirming that Chinese consumer tastes are the main reason behind the new gold color options of the iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch lines.



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FTC Looking Into App Store Rules Regarding Subscription Services

On Wednesday, Spotify sent emails to subscribers asking them to cancel their App Store subscriptions to the service to resubscribe on the web to avoid a $3 surcharge because of Apple’s App Store policies. The Federal Trade Commission is now looking into Apple’s policies, which include a 30 percent fee that it collects on all app and subscription revenue routed through the App Store, reports Reuters.

U.S. government antitrust regulators are looking into claims about whether Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps is illegal under antitrust law, according to three industry sources.

The antitrust concerns stem from certain App Store restrictions placed on streaming companies, which include a prohibition that the company is on other platforms, a ban on advertising how users can subscribe on a company’s website and the ban on links to the company’s website. While users can still subscribe to the service of their choice outside of the App Store, avoiding the 30 percent fee for the respective companies, sources tell Reuters that many users do not realize its an option.

That 30 percent fee reduces margins for those streaming companies in an industry with already thin margins and makes it difficult for them to compete, Deezer CEO Tyler Goldman tells the news organization. The news also comes after the FTC and other government bodies began looking into Apple’s efforts to set up deals with music labels.

While the FTC is looking into the App Store rules, there’s no guarantee they launch a formal investigation as antitrust lawyers that spoke to Reuters were split on whether Apple is breaking the law. This isn’t the first time Apple has gotten in trouble for its 30 percent subscription cut, as it landed in hot water with the Department of Justice during the e-book price fixing case. In June, it was reported that Apple was considering changing the 30 percent cut for media apps like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and more.



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Judge Drops Apple’s $533M Fine in iTunes-Related Lawsuit, Sets New Damages Trial

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Tuesday voided $532.9 million in damages awarded to patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC in February in an iTunes-related patent lawsuit, per Reuters.

The report claims federal judge Rodney Gilstrap has set a new damages trial on September 14 after ruling that „his jury instructions might have ‘skewed’ jurors’ understanding of the damages that Apple should pay.“

Apple was initially ordered to pay $532.9 million in damages to Smartflash LLC after a federal jury in the Tyler, Texas courtroom found certain iTunes apps to be infringing upon the company’s patents related to digital rights management, data storage and managing access through payment systems.

Apple countered that Smartflash LLC was exploiting the patent system to collect royalties.

“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. “We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.”

Smartflash LLC was originally seeking $852 million in damages, and claimed it was entitled to a percentage of sales of Apple products used to access iTunes, such as iPhones, iPads and Macs. Apple argued that $4.5 million was fair at most, claiming it does not infringe upon any of Smartflash LLC’s inventions and that its patents are invalid.

Apple likely still faces a fine of a different amount pending the results of the new damages trial scheduled for September, but the iPhone maker plans to appeal the decision.



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