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Italy fines Apple $1.2M for 'unfair commercial practices'





italy

Reuters reports that Apple has been fined 900,000 euros, or $1.2 million, in Italy in response to complaints of "unfair commercial practices" related to product warranty disclosures. Apple sold its products with a standard one-year warranty. The customers had an option to buy a second year through AppleCare, but local laws require companies to protect buyers with a free two-year warranty.

According to the report, Italy's antitrust regulators ruled that Apple has not been providing adequate disclosures about the two free years of product warranty assistance required under Italian law that is why Apple was fined 400,000 euros for not providing adequate information to customers about the length of product guarantees, and another 500,000 euros stemmed from Apple not giving customers enough information about its AppleCare extended warranty.

The authority said Apple Sales International, Apple Italia and Apple Retail Italia did not properly inform customers that they were entitled to two years of free assistance under Italian law. Three Apple spokesmen contacted by Reuters weren't immediately available for comment.

Information provided about an extra guarantee scheme, the "AppleCare Protection Plan," encouraged customers to buy the service without clearly explaining that it overlapped with the free assistance required by law, the competition authority said.




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011. 15:53

Argentina blocks iPhone sales in bid to strengthen economy



Argentina

The Argentinean government has temporarily blocked sales of certain electronics including Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry. Such measures were attempted in order to stabilize the country's ailing economy, to slow rising inflation and correct the disparity between the pesos and U.S. dollar, while suggesting that companies must build plants in the country to resume sales.

In order to continue smartphone sales in Argentina, Apple must build a plant or partner with a local company to manufacture the iPhone. RIM is reportedly looking to partner with an existing plant so that it can continue sales in the region. Other handset makers like Motorola, Nokia and Samsung have already moved or built plants in Argentina's Tierra del Fuego free zone after the government passed the Internal Revenue Law of 2009, which added a 20.48 percent tax to the existing 21 percent VAT for certain imported electronic devices.

According to Argentinean site Fortunaweb, iPhone and BlackBerry sales comprised 60 percent of the total market in October. And to strengthen the Argentinean economy, the government made decision to support local manufactures, banning some electronics manufactures from sales in this country. The Economist reported in December article that "a slowing year-to-year GDP blamed on decreased demand for agricultural commodities and huge government subsidies have caused the country to enact tighter controls on capital flight".




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011. 14:19

Apple to launch iPhone 4S in mainland China before Jan. 23



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China's People's Daily reported this week that  Apple had met all of the requirements for the iPhone 4S to launch in mainland China, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology granted China Compulsory Certification for the iPhone 4S on December 22. The report claims that the handset will be launched in mainland China before the Chinese New Year that takes place on Monday, January 23, 2012.

Filings with the Chinese government show a WCDMA phone manufactured by Apple was granted approval. Though it does not specifically reveal that the device is the iPhone 4S, it is listed as model number A1431, which is the same number Apple used to obtain a network entry permit for the iPhone 4S. The approval process and anticipated release of the iPhone 4S has dragged out in China as Apple has quickly launched its latest smartphone in other major markets around the world. It's been the fastest rollout ever for a new iPhone model.

Some regional branches of China Unicom have already started taking preorders for the iPhone 4S in anticipation of the device’s launch. Moreover, Siri, Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant application, is rumored to gain support for Mandarin by March of 2012 that will obviously drive sales of the iPhone 4S in China.




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Foxconn to double size of iPhone plant making it biggest in world



Foxconn-Production

Chinese language newspaper China Daily reported on Monday  that Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partner  - Foxconn – plans to double the size of its iPhone-producing plant at Foxconn Science Park in Zhengzhou that now produces over 200,000 iPhones a day. The company is expected to spend $1.1 billion to expand the plant that, after the massive expansion, would bring Foxconn $20 billion in sales revenue in 2012. Moreover, the plant is expected to become the largest smartphone-producing facility in the world after the $1.1 billion construction.

Apple's primary iPhone manufacturer will increase the number of production lines to 95 and add to its over 1 million mainland China employees, 130,000 of whom work at the Zhengzhou facility. Foxconn currently employs a total of 1.2 million people and supplies electronics to a number of worldwide companies.

Foxconn also owns a production facility in Brazil. The plant also produces some iPhone models. The company now tries to come to a decision with local authorities concerning a $12 billion investment to build an iPad manufacturing plant in the region. Rumors claim that Foxconn will begin producing the iPad 3 with Retina Displays in January.




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Newsstand in iOS 5 Fueling Growth of New Magazine Subscriptions



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AllThingsD has decided to have a look at how the launch of Apple's Newsstand iOS 5 feature has affected subscription sales. Popular Science magazine was an object for the study that has revealed that the prominent placement of the Newsstand app and easy access to updated content has driven a substantial increase in new subscriptions. In fact, Apple’s Newsstand is a new way for users to keep track of their subscriptions, house them in a dedicated folder.

The chart comes to us courtesy of Mag+, Bonnier’s tablet-publishing software business. And as Mag+ CEO Staffan Ekholm points out, the really promising indicator for Pop Sci isn’t the one-week sales leap of 13 percent — it’s that the the magazine’s growth picked up after that week, with more velocity.

If you look at the graph above, you will find out that Popular Science appears to have been adding new subscribers at a constant rate of about 700 per week during the several months. Noteworthy, the magazine was a leader among digital media even before the debut of iOS 5. But a month after iOS 5 launch, we see a significant bump in Popular Science subscription sales at nearly double the rate seen before the arrival of Newsstand.




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Monday, December 26th, 2011. 16:34

iOS dominates mobile shopping with 92% of market



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A study by retail analysis firm RichRelevance released on Friday notes that Apple's iOS dominated mobile online shopping in 2011, holding just over 92 percent of the market, reports Market Watch. iOS users spend 19 percent more than those using Google's platform on mobile purchases.

The study has analyzed 3.4 billion shopping sessions between April and December 2011. The iOS devices share in mobile sales grew from 88 percent in April to over 92 percent in December. This proves that Apple's iOS growth continues to lead the market in many ways including online browsing.

“The numbers across our retailing partners sites demonstrate just how powerful the iOS platform is enabling mobile web shopping and, while still below 5 percent in total conversion, mobile traffic’s doubling in eight months is a trend we only see accelerating,” said Rich Relevance CEO David Selinger.


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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Monday, December 26th, 2011. 0:01

German Court Unlikely to Award Apple Injunction Against Galaxy Tab 10.1N



galaxy_tab_10_1n

Last month we reported that Samsung released a revised Galaxy Tab 10.1N design in Germany in order to avoid an injunction over the sale of the device due to design issues. Apple quickly filed suit in an attempt to bar the new design, claiming that changes in the design were not significant. Though, the judge seems not to support Apple’s point of view and may not going to issue a ban on Galaxy Tab 10.1N sales in Germany, giving customers opportunity to choose between Apple’s and Samsung’s tablets. However, the final decision on Apple's request is scheduled to be released on February 9.

The Dusseldorf court that banned sales of the Galaxy 10.1 on Sept. 9 is unlikely to grant Apple an injunction against the Galaxy 10.1N, Presiding Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann said at a hearing today. Samsung has changed the device’s design sufficiently to distance it from the iPad, she said, adding that the view is preliminary. [...]

“Consumers are well aware that there is an original and that competitors try to use similar designs, so buyers are vigilant when looking at products,” Brueckner-Hofmann said. “We don’t think that someone buys a Samsung to make his table neighbor at the coffee house believe he owns an iPad.”




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Friday, December 23rd, 2011. 13:14

Dominant U.S. App Store may be surpassed by China in 2012



ChinaApp

According to a new study released by market research firm Distimo, despite the proliferation of handsets running Google's Android OS, which now accounts for 53 percent of the mobile smartphone market, Apple's U.S. App Store remains the top marketplace for mobile downloads. But Chinese App Store sales continue to grow and may even bypass Apple's U.S. App Store numbers in 2012.

Over the course of 2011, Apple's iPhone app sales saw a steady decline month-to month, though Distimo blames the lull on the later than usual release of the iPhone 4S. The lowest point of the year occurred in September when anticipation for the 4S was highest, and was followed by a spike upon the handset's debut. Peak revenue for the U.S. App Store came a little over a month after the newest version of Apple's smartphone was released. The same "anticipation effect" was seen in app sales for the iPad, as downloads declined in January and February only to pick up steam after the iPad 2 was released in March.

China now demonstrates a strong increase in downloads through 2011 and may surpass the U.S. App Store in 2012.


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Walter Isaacson Considering Expanding Steve Jobs Biography



stevejobscovertiteled

Fortune reports that Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs biography, may not yet be finished working on the book. Isaacson currently has several ideas how to expand the authorized biography. Не is going to describe more fully the events surrounding Jobs' death in early October or to add extensive annotations to the existing content.

The author discussed potential plans for expanding the already 630-page book in the future. One possibility is doing an extensively annotated version. Another is writing an addendum that addresses the period surrounding Jobs' death. Fleshing out the details seems like a logical next step, since Isaacson believes the Apple (AAPL) CEO's story will be told for decades or a century to come. "This is the first or second draft," he said, referring to his book's role in documenting Jobs' life. "It's not the final draft."

Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson has already became Amazon's best-selling print book in 2011 and named the company's best-selling new release of 2011 for combined print and digital sales.




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011. 13:42

Apple execs have discussed the 'future of TV' with major media companies



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Apple executives met with executives from media companies to discuss "their vision for the future of TV," according to The Wall Street Journal. The main aim of Apple was to discuss how users could access content "across phones, tablets and TVs," how Apple would stream content to users in new ways, allowing them to continue watching video across multiple devices like a TV, tablet and smartphone.

"The TV device Apple is working on would use a version of Apple's wireless-streaming technology AirPlay to allow users to control it from iPhones and iPads, according to people briefed on the matter," the report said. "When the company plans to start selling such a device and whether it would receive traditional broadcast or cable signals remains unclear, said these people, who say Apple may change its plans."

Apple is reportedly to have worked on would integrate DVR storage into its existing iCloud service that allows users to watch shows they have bought or recorded on multiple devices.

"The company has also talked to television-service providers about teaming up on new video services for Apple devices, according to people familiar with the matter," the report said. "It has also broached the idea of licensing content directly from media companies for some sort of subscription-TV service, resembling the packages now offered by cable operators, but the talks have been 'exploratory,' according to people familiar with the matter."

Apple TV is said to be launched on the middle of 2012, but some analysts believe that Apple will announce it in late 2012 for an early 2013 sale. We also reported that Apple TV could arrive in three sizes, including 32 inches and 55 inches.




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011. 23:00

iPhone leads competition in UK holiday smartphone sales



iphone 4s

Citing findings by research firm GfK, the Financial Times reported on Monday that Apple’s iPhone 4S accounted for nearly one out of every four smartphone sales in the UK during the lead up to the holiday season and retains the best-selling smartphone in the UK.

During the first week of December, five versions of Apple's handset, including the two and a half year old 3GS, ranked as one of the top 15 smartphones sold and took over 37 percent of a smartphone market that nearly doubled in size between Feb. 2010 and Aug. 2011. According to figures from Ofcom, the U.K.'s government-approved regulatory authority for telecommunications, 46 percent of all mobile users are now smartphone owners.

Apple’s rivals are also showing significant grown in sales. The second best-selling smartphone in the UK is Samsung's Galaxy S II and three versions of RIM's BlackBerry Curve all landing in the top ten. Noticeably absent from the top-selling handsets was Nokia. The company's new partnership with Microsoft has yet to bear fruit. The Windows Phone 7-based Lumia line failed to crack the top ten handsets sold in the UK after.




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Apple's Siri can now shop for electronics by voice



siri sales

Apple is progressively expanding the capabilities of its Siri voice assistant feature of the iPhone 4S. Wolfram Alpha reports in its blog that it is now enabling its clients to browse Best Buy's electronics and appliances data provides iPhone 4S Siri users a new way to shop and compare products using their voice. The retailer's database includes 35,000 consumer products.

"We’ve taken the strengths we’ve developed in math, science, and socioeconomic data and created something equally unique and useful for online shoppers," the search provider stated.

Using either the web or one's own voice using Siri, users can search for a general product category or a specific product model and obtain a comprehensive report detailing product features, prices and availability, users ratings, price comparisons with similar models.

Users can even shop for products based on their specific needs, such as asking for "the lightest digital camera under $100 with a pixel resolution greater than 12MP,” or compare multiple models. The Best Buy data is currently only available to users in the United States.




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011. 22:03

In New York Police Arrest 141 Vendors Suspected Of Selling Stolen iPhones



iphone_4s_white_side

As The New York Post reports, on the last week the New York Police Department conducted a sting targeting merchants that were suspected of trading in stolen iPhones. The NYPD spokeperson Paul Browne said that undecover police officers sold iPhone 4S and iPad 2 at more than 600 locations asking from $50 to $200 after stating that these devices were stolen.


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Rumors: Apple Has Been Researching And Prototyping Small Wearable Devices



ipod nanoThe Paradox iPod nano watch kit

Nick Bilton from The New York Times, who in October wrote that large parts of rumoured Apple’s television sets appeared in the company's supple chain, now reports that Apple may be researching and even prototyping new wearable devices.


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Apple's MacBook Air projected to reach sales of 1.6M per quarter



mac book air

Analyst Mark Moskowitz with J.P. Morgan expects that MacBook Air sales will reach an average of 1.6 million units per quarter over the next 12 months. In the third quarter of calendar 2011, Apple sold 923,000 units of the MacBook Air, representing 838.6 percent year-over-year growth. Comparing with the previous quarter MacBook Air sales grew by 43.8 percent, outpacing total Mac unit growth of 17.1 percent.

China is now becoming a strong driver for growth of MacBook Air sales. Last quarter, MacBook Air units grew 339 percent year over year in China, versus 76.5 percent for the rest of the Mac lineup. Moreover, notebooks based on Intel's Ultrabook specification are highly unlikely to be a significant threat to the MacBook Air.

"In general, we think that Ultrabooks are highly-discretionary devices, and pricing on competitive offerings must fall below $800 before posing a viable threat to Apple's MacBook Air," he wrote in a note to investors. "In our view, Apple's first mover advantage and optimized feature set and form factor command a higher price that early adopters, productivity users, and Apple enthusiasts are willing to absorb."




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Written by Svetlana Osipova

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011. 22:27