Both among tech and entertainment names to be interviewed
Among the list of speakers coming to the New Establishment Summit hosted by Vanity Fair in October will be Apple's Chief Design Officer Sir Jonathan Ive, making a second appearance at the event. He will be joined in Apple representation by Beats co-founder and Apple music executive Jimmy Iovine, though it is unclear if the two will appear together. The event will run October 5–7 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.
Our grades for the likelihood of various whispers and scuttlebutt
So now that it is finally confirmed that Apple has chosen September 9 for its big event, and a different venue than usual to accommodate more press and that requires some street closures for a likely outdoor component (which hints strongly that something unexpected is up), the rumors are again flying about what we should expect to see at the event. Let's have a look at what's being whispered about, and a (speculative) look at the odds any of it will happen.
Engineer hired by Korean company revealed FinFET fabrication process
A senior engineer at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) who left the company after nearly 20 years, has been found guilty of illegally passing on the firm's trade secrets, specifically the FinFET fabrication process, to Samsung -- which then copied the process in order to win a majority of the orders of Apple's A-series processor manufacturing, a Taiwanese court has found.
In which, a pair of staffers cover the topics of the week, shotgun style
Two man show! While the rest of the gang is off having a life, Mike and Jordan hit the microphones for this week's lean-and-mean episode. Up this week -- iPad Pro rumors, why we cover some of the rumors (but not all), Bungie's Destiny changes, and so much more!
Foxconn, Sharp talking new joint venture based on shared LCD plant
Two Apple suppliers -- Japanese TV maker Sharp, and Hon Hai (also known as Foxconn) -- are talking about a deal that would allow Sharp to spin off its display panel supplier business into a new joint venture with the China-based manufacturer. The two companies already run a LCD panel manufacturing facility in Osaka, and the new deal would like be an expansion of that existing partnership, possibly along with other companies.
China iPhone sales continuing to skyrocket amid contracting market
A new report from industry analyst Gartner claims that Apple's iPhone sales are continuing to grow, and that Samsung's sales are continuing to fall, particularly in China. Overall, the report says that Apple's worldwide smartphone share increased 36 percent, rising 2.4 percentage points to 14.6 percent, while Samsung's sales have dropped 5.3 percent year-over-year. In China, Apple's sales grew by 68 percent, while the overall Chinese smartphone market fell four percent compared to the same quarter last year.
Report claims Russian sapphire producer one of few to make operating profit
Following the issues at GT Advanced, one of Apple's producers of sapphire glass for the Apple Watch has been identified as a Russian company called Monocrystal, according to a report. The synthetic sapphire producer is claimed to be a supplier to Apple, providing two-inch sapphire wafers specifically for the wearable device, and is believed to be one of the few sapphire glass producers making an operating profit by the end of 2014, with Monocrystal bringing in $87 million in annual revenue.
Prime Now location in Seattle may offer order collection, crowdsourced deliveries
Amazon is allegedly looking into offering another way for customers to receive their orders, by collecting it from Amazon itself. A building in Kirkland expected to be the base for future Prime Now deliveries in the Seattle area is also displaying signs for an unannounced service called Amazon Flex, believed to be either a way for customers to pick up orders directly, or possibly for some form of crowdsourced delivery system.
Improvements to power usage, processing revealed at IDF
Intel has revealed more details about the capabilities of its upcoming Skylake processor line, though stopped short of giving specific information for processors it will be releasing in the future. Explained to developers and hardware vendors at the Intel Developer Forum, Skylake will feature not only performance and power management improvements, but also bring in extra features, such as enabling a notebook to be woken by a verbal command.
Major retailer could offer AppleCare to customers at launch of new iPhone
Best Buy customers buying Apple products through the retailer may soon offer more protection for their newly-acquired devices when they reach the checkout. A report claims the electronics chain will start offering AppleCare plans in stores from mid-September, with both AppleCare covering Macs and AppleCare+ for iOS devices and the Apple Watch expected to be offered under the unannounced program.
At last, some other topics not related to Microsoft -- and some MS stuff too
It's August, and that means festival season, almost everywhere. MacNN Editor Charles Martin is out on the road again enjoying a big one in Edmonton, Alberta, but he's not letting that stop him from hosting this week's episode of the show. Joining him this week are staff writer Malcolm Owen in Wales, Bradley McBurney in Kelowna, BC, and William Gallagher in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). We predict, we blame ourselves, we mention Microsoft. Show notes after the jump.
Transaction fee collection said to be sticking point with major Australian banks
Apple Pay's entry into Australia may face delays, as negotiations with financial institutions are allegedly stalling over money. Major banks are pushing back over how much of the interchange fees, charges paid by merchants to use a card payment platform, will end up being handed over to Apple, as apparently the fees collected by Australian banks are far less than those collected by platforms operating in the United States.
Korean rival again on the hook for around $900M in infringement damages
Samsung has been given the cold shoulder in a bid to yet again re-try the original patent infringement case that found the Korean company guilty of copying Apple patents and other infringements, and originally awarded Apple some $1 billion in damages (later reduced to $930 million). Barring a Supreme Court review, Samsung has now exhausted its appeals on the first trial verdict, and still owes Apple some $548 million from the first trial.
Seeks to widen opportunities in tech for groups traditionally shut out
Apple has released its 2015 Diversity Report, covering trends in hiring and efforts to offer more opportunity to groups traditionally discriminated against in the white-male-dominated tech field. While in some specific areas, the company has made notable progress (such as hiring more women), the issues presented by the previous shutting-out of certain minorities is apparently going to take a long-term commitment to fix.
Company investing in increasing diversity in tech with sponsorship
Following up on CEO Tim Cook's interest in diversifying the talent pool of the tech industry, Apple has become a platinum sponsor of a group called Code2040's fellowship program, and will hire 10 of the group's 80 students as paid interns. Apple VP of Worldwide Human Resources Denise Young Smith said the company was "excited" to be working with the group "toward our shared goal of more opportunities for in tech for young Latino, Latinas, and African-Americans."
Apple named to board of directors for NFC standards body
Apple has become a sponsor member in the NFC Forum association, which puts on the NFC World conference and is the leading trade organization for Near-Field Communication advancement. The group promotes and participates in other related technologies as well, such as QR, iBeacons, Bluetooth Low Energy, digital watermarks, augmented reality, biometrics, acoustics, bio-sensors, and light-based communications.
Skylake-U chip series a likely candidate for Macbook Air refresh
Intel's upcoming Skylake-U series of processors will be much more streamlined compared to its Broadwell-U chip line, if a leak is confirmed as genuine. A selection of leaked slides suggests Intel with be bringing out just eight dual-core processors, including two Core i7 chips, two Core i5, one Core i3, one Pentium, and two Celerons, with all having an identical thermal design power (TDP) of 15W.
Rumor posits iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6c models
While rumors of a revamped "iPhone 6c" have been swirling, a source with a good track record has said that he believes Apple will launch it and the other two expected models concurrently sometime in September. Rumormonger Evan Blass tweeted that users should expect little more than a spec bump from the new models, apart from the addition of Force Touch on one more more of the models. There may also be a "rose gold" color addition.
Current-C backer drug chain to capitulate, accept NFC-based payments
Rite-Aid, a drugstore chain that turned off access to NFC-based mobile payment systems despite protests as part of its compliance with a rival system still to appear, CurrentC, has relented and will begin offering support for Apple Pay and other wireless payment options starting August 15, the company said. Announced last year, Current-C has yet to appear, leading to increasing customer frustration with stores that don't offer mobile payment options.
New patents show how Liquidmetal could be combined with other metal alloys
Two patents recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) suggest Apple is still working on developing production processes for Liquidmetal. The two patents describe methods for casting bulk metallic glass (BMG) in different ways, including allowing multiple BMGs to surround other alloys, as well as techniques to melt BMG feedstock using horizontal cold crucible induction melting (CCIM) systems.
AT&T offers DirecTV subscribers up to $500 for switching carriers
After recently completing its acquisition of DirecTV, AT&T is already attempting to capitalize on the relationship between the two companies by tempting DirecTV subscribers to switch phone services. Under the promotion, Forbes reports DirecTV customers can receive $300 in bill credit per line ported with a new smartphone purchased under AT&T Next, as well as a $200 credit for eligible smartphone trade-ins. Subscribers of U-verse, AT&T's existing TV service, can also take advantage of the same offer.
Alphabet umbrella company headed by Sergey, Brin, with Pichai as Google CEO
Google has announced a major restructuring of its business, starting with it being under the control of a new holding company called Alphabet. In a letter to shareholders, also posted to the Google Blog and on the new organization's website, Google founder Larry Page writes that the change is being made in order to make the company "cleaner and more accountable" as a "collection of companies" headed up by Google itself.
Corporate AmEx cards now usable for Apple Pay transactions
American Express is increasing its involvement with Apple Pay by making more of its credit cards work with the service, just as teased earlier this month by Apple. The credit card company revealed earlier today that its corporate cards in the United States will support the mobile payments service from now on, potentially allowing business users and corporate customers to make use of Apple Pay when carrying out transactions using the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch.
Twitter signs two-year agreement with NFL for extra promoted content
Fans of the NFL will soon see more football-related content in their Twitter feeds. The NFL has signed a two-year deal with the microblogging service, reports USA Today, extending an existing Twitter Amplify program that has offered TV highlights on the service since 2013. As part of the deal, it is expected that "significantly more" content will be posted to Twitter each day, including sponsored tweets, recaps of recent games, as well as footage from the NFL archives.
Latest episode a bit like a quick summer read, so try listening at poolside
This week, the usual suspects -- MacNN Editor Charles Martin, Managing Editor Mike Wuerthele, and staff writer Malcolm Owen -- deliver a lighter, shorter, 47-minute summer episode that tries to accentuate the positive, and make lemonade out of lemons. Having spent last episode complaining about iTunes 12.2, the iOS Music app, and (as required by law) Microsoft's Windows 10, this episode focuses on the new Back to School promo from Apple, what can be done to make iTunes better, how to make an OS X home server, how Windows 10 is working out, and Microsoft's new iOS-to-Windows initiative. Show notes after the jump.
New subscription service did nothing to interfere with rivals, investigation found
An investigation into whether Apple's deals with major record labels did anything to hurt or impede its competition has concluded that no such collusion took place, according to a new report from the European Commission. The body said it would continue to monitor the streaming industry overall, but cleared Apple Music of any alleged wrongdoing.
Permission no longer required for network switch, if customers are informed
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making it easier for carriers to switch their copper networks for fiber versions, by changing the rules over the network upgrades. Accepted by commissioner vote yesterday, the new rules effectively give carriers the ability to upgrade without FCC permission in many cases, so long as affected customers are warned in advance of the changes, and service is not reduced in any way.
High budget, creative freedom attracts Clarkson team to Amazon
Amazon's latest content acquisition may put more of a strain on its finances than expected. The team formerly behind popular BBC program Top Gear, is being provided with a budget of £160 million ($250 million) to produce a new show exclusively for Amazon's Prime Instant Video streaming service, making it not only the most expensive UK TV shows ever produced, but also an extremely expensive endeavor compared to other streaming-only shows.
BitTorrent, Download.com latest targets of RIAA, other industry bodies
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is continuing its war on music piracy, by attacking software that is said to be used for that very purpose. The RIAA sent a letter to BitTorrent executives urging the company to do something about the use of the file distribution technology's use in music piracy, while a collection of groups joined it in persecuting CNet for providing downloads to apps that could be used for copyright infringement.
Mobile payment tech loved by users, but not being adopted rapidly
Ask anyone who uses Apple Pay, and you will get a familiar refrain: they love it, they use it everywhere they can, they actively seek out and give their business to merchants who support it, it is the future. However, a new study suggests that growth of use of the feature is declining, mostly due to a lack of rapid uptake by businesses, who lack the technology to offer support. That is slowly changing, however, with Asian restaurant chain Pei Wei and St. Louis grocery stores now supporting Apple Pay as an option.
Ripping CDs in iTunes now illegal in UK, prosecution unlikely
A recent ruling by the United Kingdom's High Court has technically made the copying of CDs illegal in the country. A law that allowed the legal copying of copyrighted content for personal use, put into place only last year, has been overturned in the last few months after pressure from music industry groups, with the country's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) advising this technically makes software functions for ripping CDs to MP3, such as within iTunes, illegal once more.
Beacons will provide Target customers with in-store deal notifications
Target is going to start experimenting with using beacons in some of its stores, to try and nudge customers towards certain products. The retailer will be fitting out 50 of its stores across the United States with the system, which will push notifications and recommendations to customer smartphones about offers and other deals over Bluetooth, as it attempts to increase sales in a challenging retail environment with cheaper online competition.
Legislator meets with Cook, says Apple is 'on the right track' in outreach, hiring
The Congressional Black Caucus has called for Apple and other Silicon Valley companies to update or release federal data on workplace diversity, with California state representative Barbara Lee having met with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week on behalf of the group. She praised Cook and Apple's efforts thus far, saying "Apple seems to be moving in the right direction," but also met with several other tech firms that have been less transparent on the issue.
Steals share from Android in US, loses ground to Chinese makers in China
Apple's iOS platform continued a streak of strong growth in both the US and China, according to new ComScore and Canalys report issued yesterday, taking share away from Android. However, while still seeing extraordinary growth in China, surges in shipments from native Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi and Huawei meant that Apple was knocked to third place in Chinese market share, having briefly captured the top spot.
Amex corporate card support coming later this month
Another 43 US banks and credit unions are now supporting Apple Pay, according to the iPhone maker's partner website, with the total number of partners now at 465. The list does not include two new banks, HSBC and First Direct, that have recently activated support for Apple Pay with their systems, bringing the total of major UK bank chains to nine. Currently it is expected that the next country to gain Apple Pay support will be Canada, though negotiations with Chinese institutions continue.
Staples starts selling Amazon Echo connected speaker through online store
The Amazon Echo, the network-connected speaker hosting the retailer's Alexa assistant, has gone on sale through a third-party store for the first time. Staples is offering the cylindrical speaker through its website to all customers priced at $180, the same as Amazon. So far, it can only be acquired through the Staples website, with delivery to local stores available as a shipping option, though there is still the potential to sell it from stores directly.
Land purchase near to existing rented San Jose office space
Apple's appetite for property is increasing, with a report claiming it has acquired real estate in North San Jose that it could potentially use for even more office space. The purchase, closed last week according to recently published public records, means Apple now owns approximately 43 acres of undeveloped land in the area, with the deal for 2347 North First St. said to have cost the company slightly more than $138 million to acquire.
Boost to color saturation in iMac display panels, processor upgrades touted
Apple will be refreshing its iMac range with a selection of new processors and better displays sometime in the third quarter, among other predictions from an analyst at KGI Securities. Ming-Chi Kuo suggests the new panels will use an LED phosphor material called KSF, said to provide a significant boost to color saturation and picture quality of the display, though there appear to be some issues with some of what the analyst suggests.
Nokia sells Here mapping arm to car manufacturers for $3.1B
Nokia is selling its mapping business to a collection of German car manufacturers. The Here mapping arm is being picked up by Audi, BMW, and Daimler for €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion,) with the technology likely to be used in in-car navigation systems and to help self-driving research being performed by each of the manufacturers. Despite the sale, the Here team advises that the mobile app version will still be available, as it is likely to help car-based mapping systems and other markets.
Chinese maker Huawei overtakes Microsoft as Lumia sales drop by 50 percent
A new study by Strategy Analytics has confirmed Apple CEO Tim Cook's claim that iPhone sales were up a staggering 35 percent year-over-year, making Apple the smartphone maker with the second-highest mobile phone shipments overall, including "feature phones." The remaining-but-shrinking market for low-end smartphones and feature phones is what keeps Samsung in first, but Apple's marketshare rose to 10.9 percent share, compared to last year's 8.2 percent.
Right to be Forgotten risks serious chilling effect online if performed globally
Google has responded to France's request for the European "Right to be Forgotten" law to be expanded to cover all Google search pages, suggesting it to be a bad idea for Internet users as a whole. French data protection regulator CNIL's formal notice for delisting of requested links has been declared by Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer as a "troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web."
MIB-II infotainment system also supporting Android Auto, VW app suite
As promised roughly a year after CarPlay was unveiled, German car maker Volkswagen is now shipping automobiles that include a next-generation infotainment system called MIB-II that includes support for both CarPlay and Android Auto along with its own proprietary suite of Car-Net apps, the latter of which requires a subscription. The company says that all but its entry-level models will feature the new MIB-II system.
Healthcare, pension cuts at heart of the labor debate
Verizon wireline workers, including telephone, cable, and FiOS service workers, have voted to strike along the east coast of the US, should the union see the need during the ongoing contract negotiation. Over 86 percent of the 39,000-strong workforce agreed to the strike, which could come as soon as August 1, the day the existing contract expires.
Tablets still reign in enterprise, education, but consumer market lagging
Although Apple CEO Tim Cook remains "bullish" on the future of tablets, Apple and the market generally for tablets is declining as consumers continue to favor large-screen smartphones for tablet-like functions, and as companies struggle to figure out what the replacement cycle for the still-popular devices is or should be, says research firm IDC. According to Apple, it sold 11.2 million iPads (with shipments of 10.9 million) in its fiscal third quarter, down from 13.7 million sold in the previous quarter.
Company redefining 'unlimited' to try to escape fine
AT&T is protesting the $100 million fine it was levied by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for improperly informing unlimited wireless customers of throttling after 5GB of data is consumed in a month. Claiming that the penalty is "an unseemly effort to coerce settlement," AT&T is demanding that the FCC retract the document, and cancel the associated fee, holding AT&T liable for misleading customers.
Finally you won't be forced to have one
If you have signed up for YouTube, if you've got yourself a Gmail account, or if you have sneezed within 17 miles of a Wi-Fi hotspot, you've been given Google+. We'd say "whether you wanted it or not," but did anyone actually want it? Now the service continues -- sans Google+ Photos -- but it's no longer going to be rammed in the direction of your throat. You can safely sign up for Google's more useful and popular services, and not automatically get this plastic toy in the bottom of the box.
Numbers during free trial mean little, conversion rate yet to be seen
In only its first month, some 10 million people have signed on to give the subscription-based Apple Music a try during its three-month free trial period, according to music industry sources that allegedly reflect a figure given to them by Apple itself. While the number doesn't mean much during the free trial period, if one assumed that the number of users trying it out will grow over the summer, established rivals may have reason to worry.
Authorized Mobility Resellers to push iPhones in 12 cities
As part of an expanded push in one of its fastest-growing markets that recently saw the company advertising for a senior government manager, the iPhone maker is now in the final stages of executing a plan to increase its available resellers to around 500 outlets. There are currently around 100 resellers already on board, and the company plans to double iPhone sales in each of the next three years.
PCs outsold by iOS devices, AT&T/DirecTV merger, AAPL vs AMZN and more
Another interesting week at MacNN brings us plenty to talk about on Episode 25 of The MacNN Podcast, ranging from the FCC approval of the AT&T/DirecTV deal for no clear reason (but with a bunch of conditions), to our new column "My Stupid Fault." We also include a full report on Apple's fiscal Q3 and the uncalled-for drop in the stock, the results of our testing of Apple's new third-party SSD Trim support, and more.
Internal slides describe performance improvements in next Intel chip generation
Intel's upcoming 14nm Skylake line of processors will be a considerable improvement compared to current-generation Broadwell chips, according to allegedly leaked internal slides. The performance improvements between Broadwell and Skylake will see improvements in many areas, including a 30 percent longer battery life, up to 50-percent better 3D performance, and improved processor performance at lower power, making it especially ideal for notebook-based systems.