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August 25, 2011

Apple executive Steve Jobs resigns

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Apple executive Steve Jobs resigns

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Steve Jobs displaying the Apple iPad
Image: Matt Buchanan.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, has chosen to step down from his post as CEO of the company. The former Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook will be succeeding Jobs as CEO. Jobs resigned in a letter to Apple’s board of directors stating, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.” In that same letter, Jobs stated that his desire was to remain as chairman of the board.

Steve Jobs has been fighting pancreatic cancer since 2004 and has been on medical leave since January of this year. This was Jobs’ third period of medical leave. He briefly made an appearance in March and June to unveil the iPad 2 and the iCloud, an online cloud computing service. In part of his resignation, Jobs left this farewell, “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

Cquote1.svg Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration Cquote2.svg

—Art Levinson, New York Times

Tim Cook was personally recommended by Jobs to take over as CEO and has been serving as interim CEO since the beginning of Jobs’ medical leave. Before his post at Apple, Cook held positions at IBM and Compaq. He is known for staying out of the spotlight. Due to an operational overhaul by Cook, he is credited with the success of the iPad and MacBook Air. He also stood in Steve Jobs’ place while the CEO underwent liver transplant surgery. He received $59 million for his performance in the position.

Cquote1.svg A lot of products could have gotten to market earlier, but he wanted it better. Cquote2.svg

—Richard Doherty, USA Today

Analyst Charles Golvin predicts that the resignation will not begin to affect Apple performance for 1.5 to 2 years. Many of the new products are already under development and Jobs will continue to steer the company from his position as chairman of the board. Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and a member of the board, adds, “Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration”. A contrary view is offered by Charles O’Reilly, a management expert at Stanford University, who stated, “Great companies rarely go from strength to strength”. Richard Doherty attributes Steve Jobs’ success as the ability to hold off on a product until it is perfect. He states “A lot of products could have gotten to market earlier, but he wanted it better.”

In light of the revelation, Apple shares (AAPL) slid $19.37 in after hours trading—a drop of over 5%. Since market open, Apple shares rose to $373.72, a drop of only $2.46 since Wednesday’s close.


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June 7, 2011

Apple announces Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud

Apple announces Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Exterior of Moscone West center, where the WWDC 2011 keynote was held.
Image: Ben Miller.

At the company’s own Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote at the Moscone West center in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the next generation of software products from Apple. Apple unveiled Lion, the new version of their Mac OS X operating system for desktop and laptop computers that brings new features to the software. They also demonstrated iOS 5, a new version of the operating system that powers iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. Alongside both announcements, Jobs also announced a new iCloud service to sync data among all devices. All 5,200 participating developers will spend the rest of the week in workshops with Apple employees; developer releases of each product were made available today.

Mac OS X Lion will be shipped in July through the online Mac App Store available on Mac computers for US$29. According to Apple, the update adds over 250 new features to the OS. Employee Phil Schiller discussed new multitouch gestures along with a dynamic task manager named Mission Control that shows open applications. During the keynote, Schiller said, “The Mac has outpaced the PC industry every quarter for five years running and with OS X Lion we plan to keep extending our lead.” It also adds full support for the Mac port of the popular App Store, full screen applications, iOS-style app icon lists called Launchpad, and other iOS-like features including a revamped Mail and Auto Save among others. Mac OS X Lion was announced at a different Apple event several months ago and will replace Mac OS X Snow Leopard, which was released in 2009.

Interior of Moscone West center, where the WWDC 2011 keynote was held.
Image: Ben Miller.

Soon after, the company also introduced the latest installment in its popular mobile operating system iOS. The fifth version (iOS 5) introduces around 200 new features, including a revamped notification system, which combines messages and notifications from all applications installed on the user’s device. Scott Forestall, an Apple employee, also revealed that iOS devices would no longer require a computer for setup, allowing users to ‘cut the cord’ between their devices and PCs. Magazines and newspapers also have a new folder interface; the Twitter social network is now integrated significantly into iOS devices. Improvements to the mobile Safari browser were also announced; tabbed browsing and a Reader feature introduce desktop-like functionality. Finally, new camera features are built in, including the ability to take snapshots from the lock screen, as well as iMessages, a new messaging platform for iPhones and iPads.

Cquote1.svg We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud. Cquote2.svg

—Steve Jobs

CEO Steve Jobs returned to the stage to reveal Apple’s new cloud services offering, iCloud. The service integrates with Lion and iOS applications and syncs data between a user’s iOS devices. For example, calendar events created on a user’s laptop would be sent to their iPhone through iCloud. Apps, books, documents, photos, and more purchased or created on one device will be shared with others. The service is intended to launch in the fall of 2011 alongside iOS 5 and will be available with 5 gigabytes (GB) of storage for 10 devices for free. Earlier this year, Apple opened a 500,000 square foot data center in North Carolina intended to facilitate this new service. Jobs rounded the services off by unveiling a new iTunes feature that mirrors a user’s library in the cloud, allowing them to listen and download music to authorized devices. “We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud,” said Steve Jobs during the keynote. iCloud and iOS 5 will be released in the fall of 2011; Apple announced no new hardware products.



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April 29, 2011

Steve Jobs denies \’location-gate\’

Steve Jobs denies ‘location-gate’ – Wikinews, the free news source

Steve Jobs denies ‘location-gate’

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Friday, April 29, 2011

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Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announced on Wednesday that iPhone technology is not being used to monitor the location of its customers. The scandal arose from concern that data collected by Apple would make it possible for anyone with access to a person’s private computer to retrieve information about their movements.

Jobs acknowledged that while iPhones keep a database of Wi-Fi and cell tower hotspots these do not reveal anything about individual users’ location. “That’s what people saw on the phone and mistook it for location”

In a separate statement, Apple clarified the device is merely caching data in order to improve the speed of locating users in the future.

Jobs confirmed during the interview that Apple would testify before the United States Congress. “They have asked us to come and we will honour their request, of course.”

Apple have since made plans to release software updates that will cut the size of the wireless hotspot location database stored on its iPhones.

The data scandal, coined ‘Location-gate’ has overshadowed news of Apple’s announcement for sales of the delayed white iPhone 4 which will begin shipping from Thursday.



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March 13, 2011

iPad 2 goes on sale in United States

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iPad 2 goes on sale in United States

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

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An iPad 1 (left) next to an iPad 2.

The new version of Apple Inc.’s tablet computing device, the iPad 2, has gone on sale in the United States at Apple Stores and a number of other retailers (including Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Verizon, and AT&T), a shift from last year’s launch which was only available through Apple’s stores. The product will go on sale internationally on March 25.

The device was announced on March 2 at an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs emerged from sick leave to make the announcement.

The new model has cameras on the front and back.

The iPad 2 has an all-new design and has several improvements over the original iPad. The device runs on a dual-core Apple A5 CPU. According to Jobs, the CPU’s new dual-core capability enhances multitasking and doubles the processing speed. Apple additionally introduced a magnetic ‘Smart Cover‘ accessory that snaps to the front screen of the device along with several new apps ported from the Mac OS X operating system and the iPhone. These include iMovie, GarageBand, and Photo Booth. The new iPad introduces front and rear cameras which enable FaceTime and video. The new tablet is fifteen percent lighter and 33 percent thinner than the previous version—thinner than an iPhone 4—and has beveled edges. It is available in black and white and continues to be capable of ten hours of battery life on a single charge.

Shoppers in Chicago with their new purchases.

The announcement came after months of rumors about the successor to the original iPad. Competitors have designed tablets to compete with the iPad, such as Motorola’s Xoom powered by the Android operating system. Apple, who normally follows a yearly product cycle, has pressed its iPad successor into the marketplace almost a full month earlier than usual.

Tablet computers have existed for years but, until recently, have not been popular amongst consumers. Tablet sales totaled 90,000 in 2009. Apple sold nearly fifteen million iPads worldwide in 2010, generating US$2 billion in revenue within three months. In 2010, Apple held a 75% share of the tablet computer market. According to one analyst, even with competition, iPads will still make up at least 20 million of the more than 24 million tablet computers sold in the United States in 2011. An analyst predicted ‘conservatively’ that 35 million iPad 2s will be sold in 2011. One analyst credits Apple’s enormous App Store for the iPad’s continued domination. Apple also holds an advantage in price over other tablets, many of which are still first generation devices. An analyst at J.P. Morgan predicts an overabundance of tablets caused by faltering demand. This could have drastic effects on competitors.

The iPad connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi and 3G models of the new device can connect to the wireless networks of AT&T or Verizon Wireless. The iPad 2 will start at US$499—the same starting price of the original iPad. The equivalent model of the original iPad has been reduced to US$399.


Timeline of Apple touchscreen devices



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March 3, 2011

Apple Inc. unveils iPad 2 tablet

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Apple Inc. unveils iPad 2 tablet

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iPad 1 (left) next to iPad 2 (right).

In a media event on March 2, Apple Inc. unveiled its iPad 2 tablet computer, the successor to the company’s iPad. The announcement was made at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs appeared at the event and introduced the new product, with FaceTime video messaging (with front and rear cameras) as well as a new dual-core Apple A5 processor.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts days before the event.

The iPad 2 is an all new design and has several improvements over the original iPad. The device runs on an dual-core Apple A5 CPU. According to Jobs, the CPU’s new dual-core capability enhances multitasking and doubles the processing speed. Apple additionally introduced a magnetic ‘Smart Cover‘ accessory that snaps to the front screen of the device along with several new apps ported from the Mac OS X operating system and the iPhone. These include iMovie, GarageBand, and Photo Booth. The new iPad introduces front and rear cameras which enable FaceTime. The new tablet is 15% lighter and 33% thinner than the previous version – thinner than an iPhone 4 – and has beveled edges. It will be available in black and white. The device continues to be capable of ten hours of battery life on a single charge.

The announcement comes after months of rumors about a successor to the original iPad. Competitors have designed tablets to compete with the iPad such as Motorola’s Xoom powered by the Android operating system. One research analyst predicted that iPads would still make up at least 20 million of the more than 24 million tablet computers sold in the United States in 2011. Another analyst credited the Apple’s App store for iPad’s continued success. The device will become available in the United States on March 11, 2011, available in 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes. iPad 2’s 3G models can connect to the wireless networks of AT&T or Verizon Wireless and Wi-Fi. The iPad 2 will start at US$499. In tandem with the announcement, Apple reduced the price of its original iPad to US$399. Shares of Apple inc. rose $2.81, closing at US$352.12 the day of the announcement.



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January 17, 2011

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs on medical leave

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs on medical leave

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Monday, January 17, 2011

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Jobs in June 2010
Image: Matthew Yohe.

Steve Jobs, the chief executive officer of Apple Inc., announced Monday in an internal memo that he would be on medical leave for an undetermined period of time. The statement caused a sharp decrease of Apple share prices in foreign markets, while US markets were closed in honor of Martin Luther King.

Monday’s email announcement marked the third time in the past decade that Jobs, aged 55, has taken medical leave. He fought pancreatic cancer in 2004 and took six months off in early 2009, later revealing he had undergone a liver transplant. Jobs has not yet mentioned what prompted his decision this time around, but said he will still be the company’s CEO. He left current chief operating officer Timothy D. Cook in charge of day-to-day operations, the same move made in Jobs’ last two absences.

While no additional comment has been officially made by Apple, The New York Times reported that someone familiar with the situation said Jobs’s health has “ups and downs” due to problems with his immune system, problems frequently experienced by those who have had liver transplants. The insider, who asked to remain anonymous, said that, over the past few weeks, Jobs’ health appeared to be deteriorating and that he was becoming thinner. Lewis W. Teperman, a doctor at New York University, said, “It’s very common for transplant patients to have issues that are not life-threatening.”

On its website, Apple released the text of Jobs’s email, which reads:

Team,

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.

Steve



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January 13, 2011

Release of \’Verizon iPhone\’ set for early February

Release of ‘Verizon iPhone’ set for early February

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

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The original iPhone 4

In a Tuesday media event, Verizon Wireless announced it had reached an agreement with Apple Inc. and would begin selling a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 beginning early February. The move means the end of rival company AT&T‘s status as the only official US carrier of the iPhone, a status it held since the first iPhone debuted in 2007.

The press conference, held in New York City, was hosted by Verizon’s president, Lowell McAdam, Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and Verizon Wireless’ chief executive officer, Dan Mead. Neither Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg nor Apple CEO Steve Jobs attended the conference. During the event, McAdam said, “If the press writes something long enough and hard enough, it eventually comes true. We’re bringing the fruit of our labor with a giant partner, and that’s Apple.” Such a partnership had been rumored for years, and the amount of speculation grew over the past few months.

iPhone 4 pre-orders for current Verizon users begin February 3, and a public release is scheduled for February 10. The “Verizon iPhone,” as it has been dubbed for months, has been altered from the original iPhone 4 so it can utilize Verizon’s 3G CDMA (code division multiple access) network. This means, however, that Verizon iPhone users will not be able to use the company’s 4G LTE (long term evolution) network, and will thus be unable to make calls and access the Internet at the same time. Cook told the audience that the LTE hardware was not ready yet, saying, “The first generation LTE chip sets force some design compromises, some of which we would not make. Secondly—and most importantly—Verizon Wireless customers have told us they want the iPhone now.” However, Verizon’s iPhone 4 allows the user to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, which means up to five other wireless devices can connect to the Internet through the phone.

Pricing was announced as US$199 for a 16 GB version and US$299 for a 32 GB version, both requiring two-year contracts—the same cost for an AT&T iPhone 4. However, Verizon said it would not mention the cost of data plans at this time, with Mead saying, “We talked about the device pricing, but we’re not going to talk about the pricing for the network for that connectivity.”



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October 23, 2010

Apple unveils new MacBook Air laptops, iLife \’11 software suite

Apple unveils new MacBook Air laptops, iLife ’11 software suite

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Saturday, October 23, 2010 File:Late 2010 MacBook Air.jpg

The new MacBook Air
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

In a Wednesday media event, Apple Inc. released a new lineup of MacBook Air laptops and the 2011 version of the company’s iLife software suite. The “Back to the Mac” event also included a preview of Apple’s forthcoming Mac OS X Lion operating system, to be released in mid-2011.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new products at the Cupertino, California event, saying the company has “been inspired by the work [it has] done on the iPad, and [it wants] to bring it back to the Mac.” Apple has plans to import more features of its iOS mobile operating system to the Mac OS X operating system.

Jobs announced today that the “Lion” release to OS X, which is scheduled for release next summer, will include more support for multitouch and a desktop version of the company’s App Store. He said that the App Store will be available for Apple’s current OS “Snow Leopard” within 90 days, and that applications can be submitted starting next month. Jobs also announced that a beta version of FaceTime, Apple’s IOS video calling application, would be available for OS X users immediately. Several new applications will be added in OS X Lion, dubbed “Mission Control” and “Launchpad.”

Cquote1.svg “Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones like Mission Control that Mac users will really like. Lion has a ton of new features, and we hope the few we had time to preview today will give users a good idea of where we are headed.” Cquote2.svg

Steve Jobs

In his keynote address Wednesday, Jobs announced the release of Apple’s iLife ’11 software suite, which includes the iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand programs. iPhoto has new slide show templates, while iMovie has added audio editing capabilities. GarageBand now includes several new piano- and guitar-playing lessons. iLife ’11 was released on Wednesday as a US$49 upgrade, and is also available free with new Mac purchases.

In another move to bring iOS functionality to Macintosh computers, Jobs announced an updated MacBook Air series of laptops, on sale now. The new MacBook Air uses flash memory rather than a traditional hard drive, and has no CD/DVD drive, an approach seen on the iPad tablet computer. In addition, the laptop’s battery life has been extended, even though it is only 0.68 in (1.73 cm) thick and weighs less than 3 lbs (1.36 kg). “We think it’s the future of notebooks,” said Jobs. There are now two models of the MacBook Air: an 11.6-inch (29.46-cm) version and a 13.3-inch (33.78-cm) model. Analyst Shawn Wu says the company “priced it really aggressively,” referring to the computer’s base price of US$999.

Jobs said that his company sold 13.7 million Macs last year, totaling US$22 billion. In the last financial quarter, Mac sales increased 22 percent, comprising 24 percent of total revenue for Apple. However, the original MacBook Air did not fare so well. Sales and hype over the first Air decreased soon after its introduction, and the line was overshadowed by the release of Apple’s 13-inch (33.02-cm) MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air had not been significantly updated since 2008.



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August 31, 2010

As increase in digital music sales slows, record labels look to new ways to make money

As increase in digital music sales slows, record labels look to new ways to make money

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

U2 perform at the King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels. Mark Mulligan, a music and digital media analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview that “at a time where we’re asking if digital is a replacement for the CD, as the CD was for vinyl, we should be starting to see a hockey-stick growth in download sales. Instead, we’re seeing a curve resembling that of a niche technology.”
Image: Bertrand Perron.

Every September, the Apple iPod is redesigned. Last year saw the release of the iPod Nano 5th generation, bringing a video camera and a large range of colours to the Nano for the first time. But as Apple again prepares to unveil a redesigned product, the company has released their quarterly sales figures—and revealed that they have sold only 9m iPods for the quarter to June—the lowest number of sales since 2006, leading industry anylists to ponder whether the world’s most successful music device is in decline.

Such a drop in sales is not a problem for Apple, since the iPhone 4 and the iPad are selling in high numbers. But the number of people buying digital music players are concerning the music industry. Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, wrote that the decline in sales of MP3 players was a “problem” for record companies, saying that “digital music sales are only growing as fast as those of Apple’s devices – and as the stand-alone digital music player starts to die off, people may lose interest in buying songs from digital stores. The music industry had looked to the iPod to drive people to buy music in download form, whether from Apple’s iTunes music store, eMusic, Napster or from newer competitors such as Amazon.”

Mark Mulligan, a music and digital media analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview that “at a time where we’re asking if digital is a replacement for the CD, as the CD was for vinyl, we should be starting to see a hockey-stick growth in download sales. Instead, we’re seeing a curve resembling that of a niche technology.” Alex Jacob, a spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the worldwide music industry, agreed that there had been a fall in digital sales of music. “The digital download market is still growing,” they said. “But the percentage is less than a few years ago, though it’s now coming from a higher base.” Figures released earlier this year, Arthur wrote, “show that while CD sales fell by 12.7%, losing $1.6bn (£1bn)in value, digital downloads only grew by 9.2%, gaining less than $400m in value.”

Expectations that CDs would, in time, become extinct, replaced by digital downloads, have not come to light, Jacob confirmed. “Across the board, in terms of growth, digital isn’t making up for the fall in CD sales, though it is in certain countries, including the UK,” he said. Anylising the situation, Arthur suggested that “as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been yoked to the device, are likely to slow too. The iPod has been the key driver: the IFPI’s figures show no appreciable digital download sales until 2004, the year Apple launched its iTunes music store internationally (it launched it in the US in April 2003). Since then, international digital music sales have climbed steadily, exactly in line with the total sales of iPods and iPhones.”

Nick Farrell, a TechEYE journalist, stated that the reason for the decline in music sales could be attributed to record companies’ continued reliance on Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, saying that they had considered him the “industry’s saviour”, and by having this mindset had forgotten “that the iPod is only for those who want their music on the run. What they should have been doing is working out how to get high quality music onto other formats, perhaps even HiFi before the iPlod fad died out.”

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When Jobs negotiated a deal with record labels to ensure every track was sold for 99 cents, they considered this unimportant—the iPod was not a major source of revenue for the company. However, near the end of 2004, there was a boom in sales of the iPod, and the iTunes store suddenly began raking in more and more money. The record companies were irritated, now wanting to charge different amounts for old and new songs, and popular and less popular songs. “But there was no alternative outlet with which to threaten Apple, which gained an effective monopoly over the digital music player market, achieving a share of more than 70%” wrote Arthur. Some did attempt to challenge the iTunes store, but still none have succeeded. “Apple is now the largest single retailer of music in the US by volume, with a 25% share.”

The iTunes store now sells television shows and films, and the company has recently launced iBooks, a new e-book store. The App Store is hugely successful, with Apple earning $410m in two years soley from Apps, sales of which they get 30%. In two years, 5bn apps have been downloaded—while in seven years, 10bn songs have been purchased. Mulligan thinks that there is a reason for this—the quality of apps simply does not match up to a piece of music. “You can download a song from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, but at the moment music in that form doesn’t play to the strengths of the device. Just playing a track isn’t enough.”

The most recent incarnation of the iPod Nano. While digital music sales have been decreasing, the iTunes store now sells television shows and films, and the company has recently launced iBooks, a new e-book store. The App Store is hugely successful, with Apple earning $410m in two years soley from Apps, sales of which they get 30%.
Image: Matthieu Riegler.

Adam Liversage, a spokesperson of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents the major UK record labels, notes that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify may be a culprit in the fall in music sales. Revenues from such companies added up to $800m in 2009. Arthur feels that “again, it doesn’t make up for the fall in CD sales, but increasingly it looks like nothing ever will; that the record business’s richest years are behind it. Yet there are still rays of hope. If Apple – and every other mobile phone maker – are moving to an app-based economy, where you pay to download games or timetables, why shouldn’t recording artists do the same?”

Well, apparently they are. British singer Peter Gabriel has released a ‘Full Moon Club’ app, which is updated every month with a new song. Arthur also notes that “the Canadian rock band Rush has an app, and the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor – who has been critical of the music industry for bureaucracy and inertia – released the band’s first app in April 2009.” It is thought that such a system will be an effective method to reduce online piracy—”apps tend to be tied to a particular handset or buyer, making them more difficult to pirate than a CD”, he says—and in the music industry, piracy is a very big problem. In 2008, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated that 95% of downloads were illegitimate. If musicians can increase sales and decrease piracy, Robert says, it can only be a good thing.

“It’s early days for apps in the music business, but we are seeing labels and artists experimenting with it,” Jacob said. “You could see that apps could have a premium offering, or behind-the-scenes footage, or special offers on tickets. But I think it’s a bit premature to predict the death of the album.” Robert concluded by saying that it could be “premature to predict the death of the iPod just yet too – but it’s unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything that will revive it. And that means that little more than five years after the music industry thought it had found a saviour in the little device, it is having to look around again for a new stepping stone to growth – if, that is, one exists.”



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July 17, 2010

Apple to give free cases, refunds to iPhone 4 owners

Apple to give free cases, refunds to iPhone 4 owners

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiling iPhone 4
Image: Matthew Yohe.

Apple Inc. announced Friday that it will give owners of its new iPhone 4 a free case in response to mounting concerns over the device’s antenna placement. The iPhone 4 antenna is actually a metal strip that wraps around the side of the device, which has caused dropped calls when held in a certain way.

The announcement came in a rare press conference held by Apple on Friday morning. During the event, company CEO Steve Jobs attempted to address reports by both consumers and the media of signal reception issues relating to the positioning of the phone’s antenna. Rather than recall the devices or offer a hardware fix, Jobs said yesterday that Apple will offer a free case to anyone who has purchased an iPhone 4.

The rubber cases, or “bumpers”, wrap around the side of an iPhone and have been found to alleviate the reception issues. Apple’s bumpers were priced at US$29 before the press conference, but will be free to anyone with an iPhone 4 until September 30. Jobs also said that those who had already purchased a bumper will receive a full refund for the accessory. For consumers still dissatisfied with iPhone 4, Jobs said that the phones can be returned for a refund as well.

Jobs acknowledged that “a very small percentage of users” were experiencing antenna issues, but dismissed the existence of an “Antennagate,” saying that similar problems plague all cellular phones and that the iPhone issue “has been blown so out of proportion that it is incredible.” He showed videos demonstrating a drop in signal strength when held in a certain way for other smartphones to help make his point.

According to company statistics, about one out of every 200 iPhone 4 customers have called AppleCare to complain about the antenna. The iPhone 4 return rate is about one-third of the iPhone 3GS return rate. However, Jobs admitted that the percentage of calls dropped on the iPhone 4 was slightly greater than the percentage of calls dropped on the 3GS. Jobs attributed the small increase to fewer iPhone 4 users putting cases on their devices.

In response to critics saying that Apple had not addressed the reception problem quickly enough, Jobs said that iPhone 4 had only been out for 22 days and that the company could not have resolved the issue any faster. The press event came just days after Consumer Reports declined to give Apple’s newest phone a “recommended” rating due to the antenna’s placement. The group said that Apple’s move to give away free cases is a good first step, but not permanent enough to earn a higher rating.

Earlier, on June 24, Apple told customers to either hold the phone without covering the antenna, or to use a case. The so-called “death grip”, however, has not been as big an issue for other phones as it has for iPhone 4, said Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports. On July 2, Apple associated the issue with a long-undiscovered software bug relating to the formula for calculating signal strength. An iOS update released Thursday came with an updated, more accurate method of calculating the number of cellular signal bars to display, but did not actually prevent the signal loss that comes with covering the antenna.



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