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Apple Loop: 'Great Things' Coming, iPhone 6 Rumor Roundup, Jobs' Biographer Says Google Rules, Mac Turns 30

Jan 18 2014, 8:16pm CST | by

Apple Loop: 'Great Things' Coming, iPhone 6 Rumor Roundup, Jobs' Biographer Says Google Rules, Mac Turns 30

Photo Credit: Forbes
 
 

Keeping you in the loop on just a few of the many things that happened around Apple this week.

China Mobile starts selling iPhones – no line. After six years of negotiations between Apple and China Mobile, the iPhone finally went on sale through the world’s largest mobile carrier yesterday. It’s a big deal for Apple because China is one of the fastest-growing markets for smartphones and Apple ranks fifth in the country – well behind market leader Samsung. But even though Tim Cook was on hand at China Mobile’s headquarters store in Beijing — and tweeted a picture he snapped of China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua greeting buyers — only a few dozen customers showed up, according to the New York Times. Xi said that there were “several million” preorders for the iPhone, but also acknowledged that their pricing is still “a little bit more expensive than other competitors.” The Wall Street Journal reported that the price for an unsubsidized iPhone 5s with 16 gigabytes of memory in China is about $870, while rival phones with comparable hardware start at $327. China Mobile says it will offer deals on the iPhone in the form of subsidies at some point in the future, but he didn’t say when or how much.

Great Things Coming. Cook and Xi made some joint appearances and gave a few interviews (recapped in my story from earlier in the week here). The bottom line: both Cook and Xi said this is just the start of a broad alliance in which the two companies will promote each other’s tech in China. Cook was also asked about what’s coming next — Apple has released a new iPhone model every year since it launched the phone in 2007 and the rumors about a larger screen, thinner iPhone 6 in 2014 have been circulating for months. “We never talk about future things. We have great things we are working on but we want to keep them secret. That way you will be so much happier when you see it,” Cook said, according to Bloomberg.

iPhone 6 rumor roundup. What are folks saying about the iPhone 6? That Apple will release two versions — one with the 4.7-inch display and one with a larger 5.5-inch screen to satisfy smartphone users who like the bigger screens on rival Samsung’s Galaxy phones. (That’s from research firm Display Search, which also has some speculation on the screen size of Apple’s rumored iWatch wearable.) The iPhone 6 may also be thinner and lighter (Apple is always making phones thinner and lighter), but this rumor is based on Apple using new alloys from LiquidMetal Technologies, a spin off from Caltech. MacRumors notes that Apple, which has used aluminum in the iPhone, has done some testing with Liquidmetal materials. There’s also been a bunch of patent applications filed in the past year that use Liquidmetal alloys and while the patents are not assigned to Apple, MacRumors notes that“the inventors listed on the patents are Apple employees who have routinely been associated with the company’s work on Liquidmetal alloys in the past.” You can see a recap of the some of the patents, which address things like tamper-resistant screws and touch and pressure sensors here. As for timing of the new iPhone 6, if Apple follows the same game plan it’s been using for the past few years, expect it to be announced in September.

Forever young — the Mac celebrates its 30th anniversary. Steve Jobs changed the personal computing industry forever on Jan. 24, 1994 when he introduced the Macintosh at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, just down the road from Apple’s headquarters. Wearing a bow tie and a broad smile, Jobs introduced the “insanely great” computer. And though it was pricey at $2,495 (the Mac had a 9-inch monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and 128 Kilobytes of memory), it was completely different from anything else on the market, with its graphical user interface, user-friendly software and unique hardware — including a 3.5-inch disk drive. “We were not doing it from a business point of view,” Bill Atkinson, who wrote MacPaint and MacWrite, the first software programs for the Mac, told the San Jose Mercury News. “We were doing it from the change-the-world point of view. We wanted to make something beautiful and usable and something that people would delight in.”

Mac Team Reunites at Flint Center. To celebrate that moment in history, members of the original Macintosh development team are returning to the Flint Center on Jan. 25 for what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event. Gabreal Franklin, an early Mac developer who organized a gathering of the early Mac team at the Computer History Museum last year, is putting together the 30th anniversary event. “Nearly all of the original Macintosh development team, including many of those whose signatures appear inside the case of the first production run, will be on hand for a series of conversations about the computer’s evolution from idea to product.” Tickets can be purchased at TicketMaster, here, and are priced starting at $109.75. Any profits from the event will be donated to charities that promote computer and Internet literacy, including CoderDojo, which encourages kids to code. “Nowadays, it’s obvious that computers are part of the everyday lives of virtually everybody….the Macintosh was the turning point,” Andy Hertzfeld, who helped write the Mac operating system software, told the SJ Merc. It was indeed.

In-app fix — or double jeopardy? The Federal Trade Commission announced this week that Apple agreed to a consent degree over children’s ability to purchase currency, points and other things within an app and game — without parental permission and without understanding that those in-app purchases required their parents to spend real money. Apple agreed to pay a minimum of $32.5 million in refunds to parents for unauthorized charges. If the refunds are below that amount, the FTC will get the difference. There’s no limit on how much Apple will have to pay if the refunds are above that amount. Apple also changed its in-app purchasing policy so that consumers understand what the in-app purchase is before charging them for it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a note to employees, saying the company had already settled a lawsuit over in-app purchasing and last year reimbursed 37,000 claims. But he said, according to a copy of the email obtained by Re/code,  the FTC was looking at filing another lawsuit over the issue. “It doesn’t feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy,” Cook said in an email obtained by Re/code…The consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight.” For its part, the FTC Chair Edith Ramirez, in a press conference to discuss the settlement, said it “provides more robust relief.”

Weareable wunderkinds. Add this to the long list of proof points that Apple is working on wearable devices (including a smartwatch called the iWatch). In recent months, the company has hired two notable executives from the medical sensor world, according to 9to5Mac. In December, Apple hired Nancy Dougherty from Sano Intelligence, a startup working on a small patch that goes on your arm and uses needle-less technology to analyze your blood. It also hired Ravi Narasimhan, former vice president of research and development for medical devices firm Vital Connect. He holds patents “for measuring the respiratory rate of a user, and, interestingly, the measurement of a person’s body in space to tell if they have fallen,” 9to5Mac notes. As interesting, Google this week not only bought smart thermostat maker Nest Labs, co-founded by former iPod chief Tony Fadell. It also announced a project to develop smart contact lenses that can detect glucose levels in your tears – a boon to anyone coping with diabetes. Looks like the market for wearable devices is going to be a competitive one.

Steve Jobs’ biographer now thinks Google is the greatest. Walter Isaacson, who authored the best-selling biography of Steve Jobs, told CNBC that Apple is not the fairest of them all in techland, at least not right now. “The greatest innovator in the world right now is Google — not Apple, Isaacson told CNBC, calling out Google’s $3.2 billion buyout of Nest and its adding former Apple exec Tony Fadell to its team. “Fadell was one of the team that created the iPod. He was very deep into the Apple culture… when Apple was so innovative.” Nest, he said, showcases the “amazingly strong integrated strategy that Google has to connect all of our devices, all of our lives, from our car, to our navigation system, to how our garage doors are going to open.” ‘I think Steve Jobs would have wanted as the next disruptive thing to either have wearable-like watches or TV, an easy TV that you can walk into the room and say put on ‘Squawk Box’ … or disrupt the digital camera industry or disrupt textbooks.’” Isaacson said he’s counting on Apple to do “something huge” in 2014. He’s not the only one.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Apple Loop logo designed by Laura Leddy

Source: Forbes

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