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.
Traditional promotion has been MIA so far this year, revamp may be in cards
Traditionally, Apple launches a Back To School promotion in the first week of July (or first week in January for Australia and New Zealand) that offers extra incentives, such as iTunes Gift Cards, on top of the usual educational discounts on hardware ranging from Macs to iPods. The program has not appeared this year, with no reply from Apple to inquiries about the state of the promotion -- but a weekly video to Apple Store staff from retail chief Dame Angela Ahrendts hints that a rethink on the Back To School idea is coming.
Stores to open early, offer paid 'grab bags' that could be worth thousands
Apple Japan will begin its traditional promotion for Japanese retail buyers, known as Fukubukuro or "Lucky Bags," starting on January 2, the company has announced. The promotion involves customers buying one of several "grab bag" gift boxes for a set price -- last year it was about 36,000 yen, or roughly $300 in current US dollars -- that could contain very valuable gifts, and usually at least top the value of the list price. Some of the boxes contained iPads or MacBook Airs, for example.
Consumers get 15GB for the price of 10GB plan, double data on select plans extended
AT&T is launching a new plan offer starting November 18, giving existing and new customers looking for a bargain in data an additional option to consider. The company's current 10GB Mobile Share Value plan is getting a 5GB boost in shared data, while maintaining the $100 per month price. The wireless carrier says that the plan will be offered for a limited time, but doesn't give a date for the end of the promotion.
Shield Tablet getting Android 5.0 by end of November, free Ubisoft game for GPU buyers
While Nvidia teased that the Shield Tablet would be getting the Android 5.0 Lollipop upgrade on Twitter last month, the company failed to say when. Thanks to a new video teasing Lollipop on the tablet, owners can now expect to see the new mobile operating system (OS) on the device by the end of November. Nvidia also announced today that it's launching a new game promotion for GPU buyers called "Pick Your Path."
Deluxe version now available on Amazon, other retailers
While many users were happy to get a free album from iTunes, the recent promotion of U2's Songs of Innocence LP done through Apple -- where every iTunes user had a copy added to their past purchases list -- rubbed some listeners the wrong way. Bono, the lead singer for the group, has issued an apology for what he characterized as an overzealous move that resulted from a combination of "a drop of megalomania" and "deep fear" that the songs wouldn't be widely heard.
Gazelle offers locked price for selling iPhone before new release
Gazelle, a company which focuses on buying used phones, has announced a limited offer on locking-in the current selling value of an iPhone. Until September 9, Gazelle will give customers who wish to sell their current iPhone a locked price value, allowing the sellers until October 10 to send the device in. The purpose of this promotion is to maintain the same price value for a phone to be traded in, even after the anticipated release of the iPhone 6, which will inevitably decrease the value of iPhones currently owned. Once Gazelle receives a traded-in device, it is inspected to verify the claimed condition, and a payment is then sent within one week. Gazelle accepts smartphones from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other major cell phone carriers, in addition to Apple products.
Buying both devices brings $100 prepaid Mastercard as mail-in rebate
Among other offers the carrier is set to announce when it kicks off its own Back-to-School promotion on Wednesday, July 9 is a combination rebate when buyers purchase both an iPhone and iPad from the carrier. Customers who get both and are either already on a Simple Choice postpaid plan or activate/upgrade a new line will receive a $100 prepaid Mastercard gift card as a mail in rebate. The iPhone and iPad have to be purchased at the same time, according to reports.
Galaxy S5 campaign pairs quotes from articles to show off features in best light
Samsung's most recent promotional ad, which has put together various pieces of praise for the Galaxy S5, turns out to be using cherry-picked lines from unflattering reviews written by various outlets about the phone. Calling the S5 "the next big thing" in the campaign, quotes from publications including Business Insider, Forbes, USA Today, Laptop, The Guardian, The New York Times and CNet were selected to show off the features of the phone. However, a report by Appleinsider points out some of the inconsistencies of the words used in the ad.
Former VP, engineer moves into new position without organizational change
Facebook named its next Chief Product Officer this weekend as Chris Cox, in a promotion from within the company. Cox, who formerly held the position of vice president of product, began working as an engineer for the company in 2005 and later worked as the company's human resources director. He is also credited with helping invent Facebook's news feed, as well as the company's "Social by Design" strategy.
Some plans could receive extra data allowance, Edge price cuts
Verizon is planning to launch a promotion which consist of changes to its price plans, the company has teased via Twitter. The claim that "More is coming" tomorrow could potentially be related to recently-leaked images claiming to show upgraded data allowances for some of its plans under a "More Everything" promotion, as well as changes to its Edge pricing, as the company continues to fight similar plans from AT&T and Sprint.
Verizon promotions to compete with similar T-Mobile offer
Verizon has introduced a pair of promotions that it hopes will attract customers away from AT&T and T-Mobile, by offering a number of incentives that are relatively similar to those of its competitors. Line activation fees have been eliminated for a short period of time, while customers trading in devices will apparently receive a Verizon gift card worth at least $100.
Promotion cuts price of Boost Mobile payments for six months
Boost Mobile has launched a promotion which dramatically cuts the monthly cost for users of its 4G LTE-based unlimited talk, text, and data service for new users. Customers buying and activating an eligible device from a retailer or the carrier's website before March 31st will have their monthly cost reduced down from the regular $55 smartphone price to $35 per month for the first six months of their mobile service.
Microsoft offers $100 store credit towards an Xbox One for those who trade-in their PS3
Augmenting the launching of its Xbox One late last year, Microsoft is now promoting an offer of a $100 credit towards an Xbox One purchase upon trading in of a Sony Playstation 3. The promotion bring the Xbox One pricing down to $400, which is the same as newly-released Playstation 4. The trade-in offer is available through Microsoft's retail stores in the US, and applies to Playstation 3, as well as Xbox 360 S or Xbox 360 E.
War for customers with T-Mobile intensifies with new offer
AT&T is increasing the amount it is giving to customers to sign up, as well as existing customers, by offering $100 in billing credit for every new line added to an account. The extra credit will be available to both new and existing customers, and is the latest in the continuing aggressive battle for customers between the carrier and T-Mobile.
Features 'top Valentine's gifts' and deadlines for holiday delivery
Taking a page from its own Christmas promotions, and coming on the heels of the asian stores' Lunar New Year celebrations, the online Apple Store has "redecorated" somewhat in preparation for the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday. It has added love-themed taglines, red graphical images and a new "Top Valentine's Gifts" section. The company also updated its Apple Store app for iOS to include the "Top Valentine's Gifts" section.
Leaked family termination fee advertisement suggests similar offer to AT&T promotion
T-Mobile may be preparing to offer families an incentive to change carrier, if a reported leaked advertisement is real. The "UnCarrier" will apparently pay the Early Termination Fees (ETF) associated with canceling a contract, a plan that sounds relatively similar to another promotion from AT&T, though it is unclear if it is a direct response to AT&T's attempt to poach T-Mobile customers directly.
New Year's promotion offers lowest price for entry-level 5s
Best Buy, which began offering the 16GB iPhone 5c for free with a contract at its stores and website on December 29, has now upped the ante on the promotion with a discount on the 16GB model of the more advanced iPhone 5s, which is down to $125 (originally $200) through all major carriers until Sunday, January 5. The offer is available now online, with the in-store price dropping on Friday. Also ending Saturday is a $100 off promotion on all non-Retina MacBook Pros.
Gifts vary by region or country due to restrictions, store limits
Apple is continuing its "12 Days of Gifts" promotion, which allows iOS users to download a free gift every day (including, for the first time, US users). Monday's Day 5 present is a free copy of the Martin Scorsese film Hugo in the US and Canada, while in the UK the movie is instead the Christmas classic Home Alone (the films normally sell for around $15-$18). The movie is available in 1080p, 720p ("HD") and standard definition.
NextWorth offering 25 percent bonus value on all iPod trade-ins
Starting today, electronics trader NextWorth is offering a 25 percent bonus value on any iPod trade-in. NextWorth accepts electronics in exchange for cash; its "After Holiday Bonus" promotion increases the value on any iPod trade-in by 25 percent. Sellers are required to enter the promotional code 25IPODS to receive the additional value. The promotion will run until December 31.
Discount applies to 16GB models only, requires two-year contract
In a move likely designed to compete with T-Mobile's recent discounting of iPhone down payments, US retail giant Walmart will cut its up-front price for the 16GB models of the iPhone 5s and 5c by $72 when purchased with a two-year contract from either AT&T or Verizon. The promotion, which begins Friday December 13, coincides with the launch of Walmart's contract-free iPhone sales with service through Straight Talk or NET10 Wireless.
Best Buy, Sprint deal provides free talk, text, data to student subscribers
Sprint has started a promotion for students buying any new smartphones in the carrier's range over the holiday shopping period. Customers buying a device under the My Way Student promotion through Best Buy will receive up to 12 months of free cellular service, which the company states will save students up to $70 per month in costs.
Promotional trade-in offer especially good for iPad 1, 2 owners
As reported earlier this week, Target is running a promotion that offers a $200 Target gift card in exchange for working iPads of any generation. While intended to be used towards the purchase of new iPad Air models, in at least some locations the card can be used for any product Target sells, generating extra interest. The company has now signalled that the offer will end on Saturday, November 9, giving older iPad owners just two days to take advantage of the deal.
Trade-in for iPhone can also net gift-card reward from retailer
North American big-box retailer Target is offering a new promotion in its latest US flyer, offering Target gift cards in varying amounts for the purchase of iOS devices -- including the current iPad models, iPod Touch, Apple TV and iPhone 5. All but the latter are direct rebates in the form of Target gift cards up to $50, while the iPhone 5 discount can be augmented with a trade-in of a previous handset. In addition, the company is selling the iPhone 5 for $149 with a two-year carrier contract. It isn't clear if the gift card is offered for all configurations of the iOS devices, or just specific models.
Main page updated with a slightly squarer design
As is traditional for the time of year, Apple has updated its main US homepage to promote items from its store in tune with the upcoming Father's Day holiday. In addition to the iPad and iPad mini, such items as iPhone 5, the Nike+Fuel band, the iGrill meat thermometer, the HipKey proximity alarm, the Nest thermostat and other suggestions are highlighted. The page also features a subtly cleaner and more geometric design.
Aimed at existing customers eligible for an iPhone 5 upgrade
Hot on the heels of iPhone 5 promotions from T-Mobile and Verizon, AT&T appears to have thrown its hat into the ring with reports that existing, upgrade-eligible customers are being targeted in a new email. The email offers special trade-in pricing for used iPhone 4S models, promising up to $200 in credit towards the cost of an iPhone 5 -- effectively cancelling out the up-front cost of moving up. Appleinsider reports that the email may be only a regional promotion instead of national.
Competitors battle for prepaid accounts
Virgin Mobile has kicked off a marketing campaign that is aimed at current T-Mobile prepaid customers. As part of its "retrain your brain" promotion, Virgin is offering $100 in unlimited-plan credit for customers who switch their phone number from a T-Mobile account.
Orders must be in by January 30 to ensure on-time delivery
Apple has launched a special Valentine's Day promotion for the upcoming holiday on its online store, highlighting the iPad and iPad mini as gift ideas along with an assortment of iPad accessory categories. Also featured is the company's iPod touch and iPod nano, augmented with offers of free shipping, free engraving and even a Valentine-themed Apple Store gift card good for hardware or software purchases at online and retail Apple Stores. The company has added a special webpage showing order delivery deadlines.
Call promotion ends tonight, for existing users only
Skype is offering a free international calling for a one-month period, in an effort to promote its international calling subscriptions. Open to existing customers of the messaging and voice call service until the end of today, the promotion includes free calling to landlines in 40 countries around the world and mobile calls to seven, including to the US, Canada, and Hong Kong.
Promotion ahead of Valentine's day
T-Mobile has announced that its entire range of phones, and a number of tablets, will be offered for free during a one-day promotion on Saturday, February 11. The "Valentine's Day Sale" applies to smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S II, BlackBerry Bold 9900, HTC Amaze 4G and Nokia Lumia 710, along with the SpringBoard tablet and the Sonic 4G hotspot.
US excluded from special offer
Starting slightly earlier this year than normal, Apple has released its 12 Days of Christmas companion app for its upcoming promotion in the UK and other parts of Europe, along with Canada. The promotional period, which runs from December 26th to the 6th of January, offers a free "gift" from the iTunes Store every 24 hours -- usually a song, app, movie rental or e-book.
Repeat of stunt from last year, says tipster
Clothing and accessories discounter TJ Maxx may be planning a repeat of a publicity stunt from last year, where it sold iPads at a $100 discount in extremely limited quantities as a "door buster" type promotion. A tipster to The Verge says the chain will put the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 on sale tomorrow (December 3rd) for $399, $100 off. The report also said that stores would be limited to 15 units on hand, and that perhaps not all stores would be getting stock.
Offers $100 gift card good for apps, media
[Updated with photos] A photo has confirmed the exact kick-off of Apple's annual Back to School promotion as being tomorrow -- Thursday, June 16th -- and running through September 20th, along with other details (an earlier story had listed the promotion as beginning today). Confirming earlier reports, the report notes that instead of the usual iPod Touch "free after rebate" offer, Apple will instead give buyers a $100 gift card suitable for anything from the various iTunes stores, including apps, e-books, music or video.
$100 iTunes gift card instead of iPod Touch
New information suggests that Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion on Wednesday, and with a twist this year that would be seem to confirm previous rumors: instead of free-after-rebate iPod Touches, the company will instead give away $100 iTunes gift cards as part of the purchase, 9to5Mac is reporting. Stores will also be redecorated, including an alleged change to the store software selection.
Full discount for unsubsidized pricing
Verizon is reportedly offering a special promotion for Apple Store staff, allowing employees to sign up for a Verizon iPhone contract for as little as $25 per month. The best monthly rate requires users to pay the full unsubsidized price for the iPhone, which starts at $650 for the 16GB version and jumps to $750 for the 32GB variant.
Toast 10 Titanium is headliner software in bundle
MacUpdate has launched its latest highly discounted software bundle, with Toast 10 disk-burning software headlining the sale. The two-week promotion offers 10 Mac applications for $50. It starts today and runs through September 22. The sale includes 10 software titles, including Toast, and has two additional titles for early buyers -- the first 10,000 purchasers get two additional applications for free. Day one of the sale already has over 3,000 purchases.
Release expected in early December
Panasonic has announced that the 3D Blu-ray release of the movie "Avatar" will be exclusive to Panasonic TVs. The company has partnered with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for the promotion, which will only limit the first run of Blu-ray Discs scheduled for release in December.
Plan details remain unannounced
T-Mobile may be preparing for a promotion that will give away any phone for free. Several commercial scripts, posted by TmoNews, suggest the carrier has scheduled the special event for June 19, one day ahead of Father's Day.
3GS offered in 8GB variant for $99
AT&T has announced a promotion for current iPhone owners who want to step up to the new iPhone 4 introduced on Monday. Customers who are eligible for upgrades any time before the end of 2010 can purchase the 16GB device for $199, or the 32GB model for $299, as soon as the handsets begin shipping.
NeatReceipts sale, OS X
In Brief: Neat is running a promotion that drops the price of the portable NeatReceipts scanner down to $99. Softpress is currently offering a free copy of Snow Leopard for any customers purchasing the company's Freeway software, while MyService includes a free copy of the Mac upgrade with any MacBook hard drive upgrade. Meanwhile, Joe Kissel has released two new e-books that provide help for users upgrading to Snow Leopard and using the new operating system.
MacMall Snow Leopard promo
MacMall is currently running an introductory promotion for Apple's Snow Leopard upgrade, along with the range of family packs and bundles. The basic upgrade for a single system is available to pre-order for $24.99, a savings of $4. The Mac Box Set is available for $149.99, a savings of $19, and includes the Snow Leopard Upgrade, iWork and iLife.
Nikon D700 features
Purportedly leaked images of promotional material reveal that Nikon is preparing to unveil the Nikon D700, with a full outlay of specifications available to browse. Photography Bay reveals that the camera boasts a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS FX format sensor, with 16-bit EXPEED image processing and 14-bit analogue-digital conversion, all housed in a magnesium alloy body. Images are taken at a native 4256 by 2832 pixels in Nikon NEF, JPEG, or TIFF formats.
Apple back to school deal
Apple on Tuesday is set to confirm reports from last week on its 2008 Back-to-School promotion, which will provide students with a $299 voucher to use towards an 8GB iPod touch when purchasing an applicable Mac. According to AppleInsider, the rebate will also apply to the higher capacity models, such as the $399 16GB Touch or the $499 32GB model. Students could also opt out of the Touch, and instead use the credit for a $199 iPod Nano.
Apple to offer edu deal
Apple is expected to unveil its 2008 back-to-school promotion, a move that senior vice president Ron Johnson calls Apple's biggest educational special "ever". AppleInsider reports that the incentives will be larger than any promotion in Apple's history, with some leaning towards the company's possible inclusion of the 8GB iPod touch into the deal. Particulars on the special were not readily available, but Apple is expected to start the offer as soon as Monday, June 2nd.
Free 1GB Shuffle
Amazon.com is currently offering a free 1GB iPod shuffle with the purchase of a 32GB iPod touch. The online retailer lists blue, green, silver, and purple 1GB iPod shuffles as eligible models that customers can add to their shopping cart alongside the 32GB iPod touch. "Just add both items to your cart and you will not be charged for the Shuffle." Amazon.com lists the 32GB iPod touch at $494 and in stock.
IK offers free plugins
IK Multimedia recently announced that users of its Pro Tools plugin AmpliTube LE are now eligible to receive a free upgrade to AmpliTube 2 Duo, as well as a copy of Ampeg SVX Uno. The company says these offerings are part of a customer appreciation promotion due to the plugin’s worldwide popularity, and is even available to customers who bought the combined Digibundle package. AmpliTube emulates four components in a typical electric guitarist’s setup: a tuner, stomp, amp, and cabinet plus microphone. AmpliTube also comes with several different models of each module, with 30 preset sounds and 16 amp combinations. New users can purchase AmpliTube 2 Duo for $400, and is available through its website and major authorized retailers.
100 song give-away
Apple today announced a promotion for Japanese iTunes customers, saying that 10 winners will be chosen from entrants from now until January 8th that will win 100 free iTunes songs – a value of approximately 19,000¥. SetteB.IT reports that Japanese users interested in the promotion can apply using the online registration form, located on Apple's Japanese iTunes website. The promotion doesn't appear to be offered in any other country, and while the prize is a generous one, only 10 winners will be chosen from a country with over 127 million residents.