Apple reports on Foxconn, Supplier Workplace Standards

Apple today released a new report detailing the progress of its suppliers in maintaining high standards in social responsibility.

In its latest report, Apple said it conducted audits of 127 facilities throughout the world. Ninety-seven of those were first-time audits and 30 were repeat audits.
Although many consumer electronic companies around the world use these same suppliers for their products, more than 40 percent of the suppliers audited said Apple was the first company to ever have audited their facilities.

Perhaps one of the most publicized among Apple's suppliers is Foxconn due to the worker suicides that facility experienced last year. To address the situation, Apple COO Time Cook was joined by suicide prevention specialists for a visit to the factory.

The report, available from the company's Web site, details what its auditors found from facilities around the world.

Canon's New PowerShots get Updated Sensors

A Canon PowerShot by any other name is still, in all likelihood, a good pocket camera. Canon today announced four new PowerShot point-and-shoot models, all of which have slightly different naming conventions than previous PowerShot compact cameras.

The new Canon PowerShot SX230 HS, PowerShot Elph 500 HS, PowerShot Elph 300 HS, and PowerShot Elph 100 HS are all successors to models in Canon's 2010 lineup, but the company is implementing new model names that put the cameras' HS (High Sensitivity) System sensor-and-processor combo front and center.

Crisp low-light shooting, 1080p high-definition video capture, and extensive Auto and scene modes are the marquee features of the new HS System cameras. Gone are the "SD" and "IS" naming conventions of previous generations of PowerShot cameras, but the features those names reflected are intact: The new cameras still use SD card storage and optically-stabilized lenses.

All the new additions to the PowerShot lineup are due to be released by the end of March.

Google continues iPhone releases with Google Translate

iOS apps have been flowing from Google in recent months like wine at Odysseus’s homecoming party. On Tuesday, Google announced the release of Google Translate, an official app for its real-time language translation service and its fourth iOS app in as many months.

Google Translate allows you to speak a word or phrase in one language and see or hear the result in another. As of this writing, the app can accept voice input for 15 languages, translate into 50, and speak a synthesized translation in 23 languages.

Like virtually every other consumer product Google offers, Google Translate is free. It requires iOS 3.0 or later and is available now in the App Store.

Tear Down reveals Verizon iPhone could have been Dual Mode

iFixit has gotten its hands on the CDMA-equipped iPhone 4 and taken it apart to see what Apple has changed from the original GSM-based iPhone 4. Apple has swapped out the original vibrator for a revised "smoother" version, and made changes on the logic board to accommodate a new Qualcomm baseband processor compatible with CDMA networks like Verizon. The most interesting revelation, however, is that the Qualcomm chip that Apple used is capable of both CDMA and GSM communication.

We noted the obvious external changes when we got a chance to look at the new Verizon-compatible iPhone in January. That included a revised antenna designed to work with CDMA, as well as a slight adjustment to the position of the mute switch to accommodate the redesigned antenna. The CDMA-compatible iPhone 4 also lacks a slot for a micro SIM card, as CDMA carriers don't rely on SIMs for activation.

However, Apple could have made the new iPhone compatible with both GSM and CDMA-based carriers, according to iFixit's analysis. The baseband processor is a Qualcomm MDM6600—the same one used in Motorola's Droid Pro "world phone." It supports both GSM and CDMA cellular standards, including the 3G variants HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps and EV-DO rev B up to 14.7Mbps.

Apple iTunes remains Dominant in U.S. Online Movies in 2010, despite Competitors’ Inroads

Despite intensified competition from fierce rivals including Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Apple Inc.’s iTunes store in 2010 managed to hold onto its dominance in the U.S. market for movie electronic sell through (EST) and Internet video on demand (iVOD), new IHS Screen Digest research shows.

The Apple iTunes online digital media store accounted for more than two thirds of U.S. EST/iVOD movie consumer spending in 2010, at 64.5 percent, down from 74.4 in 2009. The company also maintained its control of three quarters of the U.S. EST business in 2010. Apple’s hold on its market share supremacy was all the more impressive given that the business underwent a significant expansion in 2010, with EST/iVOD movie revenue rising by more than 60 percent for the year.

Verizon iPhone Sales topped 500K

Verizon's record sales of the iPhone may have exceeded half a million phones on the first day.

After breaking its previous phone sales record in the first two hours of pre-orders, Verizon continued to take orders for 15 more hours until 8:10 p.m. ET, wrote JPMorgan analyst Phil Cusick in a note Monday. Based on the pace of sales, Cusick estimated that more than 500,000 Verizon iPhones were sold on day one.

On Friday, Verizon said sales of the Verizon iPhone crushed its previous one-day sales record. Cusick wrote that that record was 100,000 Motorola Droids, a Google Android-powered phone that first sold on Nov. 6, 2009.

He estimated that the first sample of Verizon iPhone demand puts the phone on track to exceed the Droid's debut performance.

AT&T to some iPhone Users: Stay with Us and get a Free Microcell

AT&T has quietly begun offering microcells to some iPhone customers in hopes of keeping them from defecting to Verizon. Some readers have reported receiving e-mails from AT&T with the microcell offer "as our way of saying 'thank you' for continued loyalty," though not all AT&T iPhone users have received it.

The e-mail offer comes with a bar code and has instructions to visit an AT&T store to receive a "free" 3G microcell, which retails at $199.99. The microcell, which is actually a femtocell device, acts as a sort of 3G signal extender and allows you to receive a cellular signal on your phone in small areas—such as your home or office—where you might not normally get signal.

‘The Daily’ makes its Long-Awaited Debut

Wednesday morning, Rupert Murdoch finally unveiled The Daily, a news app that he hoped would put his News Corporation front and center in the digital newsstand of the near future.

“New times demand new journalism,” Mr. Murdoch said on stage before an audience of reporters, employees and advertising partners.

The Daily, an all-purpose publication designed solely for iPads and other tablet computers, was introduced to the media at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan and was going on sale immediately at the iPad app store. The publication will cost 99 cents per week, or $40 per year.

Macworld Expo 2011 Interviews

Had the chance to speak to really interesting people on the show floor!

Click here to listen to the interview with Paul Kent, the man personally responsible for your happiness at Macworld Expo!

Click here to listen to the interview with HP about AirPrint and HP's consumer printers.

Click here to listen to the interview about the very cool TabGrip.

Click here to listen to the interview about the iFusion phone.

Click here to learn more about Art Authority.

Even better, subscribe to Your Mac Life on iTunes and get all of our interviews from Macworld Expo and elsewhere, downloaded automagically.

Office for Mac gets Trial, beats Sales Expectations

Microsoft today has added a free, 30-day trial version of its Office for Mac software to coincide with this year's Macworld Expo, taking place later this week in San Francisco.

Since the release of Office for Mac 2011 in October of last year, the only way to give the product a spin was to visit a retailer with a copy installed, or to purchase it. Now users can download the 600MB trial from Microsoft's Office site, which contains full versions of all its applications. When the trial expires, users can then upgrade to either the Home and Student, or Home and Business versions.

Microsoft has been less forthcoming about the successes of its Mac Office suite, saying only that it's running on about three-fourths of all Macs on the market. That's compared to the PC version, which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently announced was selling at one copy per second. However, in a company blog post, Pat Fox, Office for Mac's senior director of product management, said the 2011 version of the software had "gone past" the company's internal sales milestones.

Apple plans Service that lets iPhone Users Pay with Handsets

Apple Inc. plans to introduce services that would let customers use its iPhone and iPad computer to make purchases, said Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group.

The services are based on “Near-Field Communication,” a technology that can beam and receive information at a distance of up to 4 inches, due to be embedded in the next iteration of the iPhone for AT&T Inc. and the iPad 2, Doherty said. Both products are likely to be introduced this year, he said, citing engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project.

Apple’s service may be able to tap into user information already on file, including credit-card numbers, iTunes gift-card balance and bank data, said Richard Crone, who leads financial industry adviser Crone Consulting LLC in San Carlos, California. That could make it an alternative to programs offered by such companies as Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and EBay Inc.’s PayPal, said Taylor Hamilton, an analyst at consultant IBISWorld Inc.

“It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said.

Apple has Disclosed enough about Jobs's Health, Ex-SEC Chief Levitt Says

Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt, once disinvited from joining Apple Inc.’s board amid differences over corporate governance, said the company has disclosed enough about Steve Jobs’s health.

“It’s easy to criticize the board, but I think the reality is that someone who owns Apple stock has got to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know that Jobs has an illness that can reoccur at any time,” Levitt said in a telephone interview.

Levitt has criticized Apple’s governance in the past, including in a 2002 book called “Take On the Street,” where he chides technology company boards for lax oversight. Levitt said in the interview that after leaving the SEC, he was approached about joining Apple’s board, and then Jobs withdrew the offer because of differences about governance.

In this instance involving the CEO’s health, Levitt said the board is acting appropriately and called it “insensitive” to pry too deeply into Jobs’s affairs.

Apple gives Minimal Disclosure about Jobs' Health

Steve Jobs is the public face of Apple, but that doesn't mean investors get to know every last detail about the CEO's health. No date was given for when he will return. No information was provided about what was wrong. No interim CEO was named, though Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will be responsible for Apple Inc.'s day-to-day operations.

Apple didn't have to say more, according to legal experts, even though what happens to Jobs, 55, matters to its shareholders because he's considered the creative force behind the company.

Apple is in the spotlight now for its secrecy on Jobs' health. But a handful of other companies including American International Group, Sara Lee and McDonald's have dealt with similar issues in recent years — each in its own way. AIG, for instance, announced a succession plan even though it hasn't had to use it.

Here are some questions and answers about disclosure requirements:

Apple Huge in China - Asian Mac, iPhone, iPad Sales Boom

It turns out that Apple is big in China, and sales of Mac, iPhone, and iPad boomed throughout the Asia-Pacific region during the December quarter. Apple reported Tuesday that the company did US$2.6 billion in the “Greater China” market (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan) for Q1 — for context, that’s more than four times what the company did in that area for all of fiscal 2010 (quarter ending in September of 2010), meaning that Apple has arrived in the world’s largest market in a big way.

For additional context, Apple’s Greater China sales for the December quarter represents 49% of the company’s total revenue for all of fiscal 2001, just ten years ago. In 2001, Apple reported revenues of just $5.36 billion. Apple reported earnings for fiscal Q1 of 2011 of $26.84 billion on Tuesday.

Part of Apple’s growing success in China are the presence of just four Apple Store retail locations in the country. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in the company’s conference call with analysts Tuesday, “Our four stores in China were on average our highest traffic and our highest revenue stores in the world.”

In Race to 10 Billion Downloads, Apple uncovers Top All Time Apps

If you had to guess what the top downloaded iOS app of all time was, what would you say? You’ll probably get it. It’s an obvious one. It’s Facebook. Number two is fairly easy too: Pandora. But did you know that number three is the Google Mobile App? I wonder what Apple thinks of that?

As they countdown to 10 billion total app downloads, Apple has unveiled a page within the iTunes Store that shows the top app downloads of all time. These are broken into four categories: Top Free iPhone Apps, Top Paid iPhones Apps, Top Free iPad Apps, and Top Paid iPad Apps.

Apple COO Tim Cook on Android, Verizon, and More

On Tuesday Apple COO Tim Cook answered questions from analysts following the release of Apple's report of record quarterly earnings.

Here's an edited transcript of his responses to several of those questions, covering topics such as iPad cannibalization of Mac sales, the battle with Android phones and tablets, and the supply and demand of iPhones and iPads.

Two Arrested in iPad Security Breach

The United States Attorney’s Office in Newark filed charges against two men on Tuesday after they obtained and distributed the e-mail addresses of 114,000 iPad owners last June.

Daniel Spitler and Andrew Auernheimer were arrested Tuesday and charged “with one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization and one count of fraud,” according to a spokeswoman for the office.

Last June Mr. Auernheimer, known online as Weev, gained national attention when a group he represents, known as Goatse Security, discovered a security loophole in AT&T’s Web site that exposed more than 114,000 e-mail addresses, along with corresponding I.D. numbers for 3G iPads, to the public.

The case was quickly picked up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as the e-mail addresses included those of military personnel, staff members in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and people at the Justice Department, NASA and Homeland Security.

Verizon: $200 for Late Android Buyers moving to iPhone 4

A new discovery in Verizon's FAQ for the iPhone 4 has revealed a promo that shows an expectation that many recent buyers will switch.

The offer will give anyone who bought a phone between November 26 and January 10 a $200 Visa debit card if they buy the iPhone 4 at its full price before the end of February. It doesn't amount to a full discount but is worded such that Verizon fully anticipated some Android and BlackBerry users had bought devices only on the assumption they couldn't get the iPhone.

Apple Reports First Quarter Results

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2011 first quarter ended December 25, 2010. The Company posted record revenue of $26.74 billion and record net quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $15.68 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 38.5 percent compared to 40.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during the quarter, a 23 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 86 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 19.45 million iPods during the quarter, representing a seven percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. The Company also sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter.

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”

Apple's Steve Jobs takes Second Medical Leave

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is taking medical leave for the second time in as many years, sending its shares tumbling close to 10 percent as the unexpected news revived concerns over the long-term future of the iPhone- and iPad-maker.

The news, which was disclosed early on a U.S. holiday when markets were closed, came nearly two years to the date after Jobs first took a six-month break to undergo a liver transplant.

"At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health," Jobs, 55, wrote in an email to staff published on a regulatory newswire. "I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can."

Unlike the previous announcement, Apple did not specify any timeline for Jobs to resume his duties. An Apple spokesman declined to comment beyond a news release.

The Beatles on iTunes – 5 Million Songs, 1 Million Albums sold

Many music fans finally got what they were asking for in November, 2010 when Apple announced that the music of the Beatles was now available for purchase from the iTunes Store. It’s a tribute to the band’s enduring popularity that since then, the iTunes Store has sold 5 million Beatles songs and 1 million albums.

Apple has informed The Loop that the iTunes Store recently exceeded 5 millions Beatles songs and 1 million Beatles albums sold worldwide. “Abbey Road” is the current best-selling Beatles album in the U.S., while “Here Comes the Sun” is the currently best-selling Beatles song.

The pace of sales has diminished since the Beatles’ catalog first came to iTunes, however. Apple and EMI announced a week after the Beatles’ music was released on iTunes that 2 million songs and 450,000 albums had been purchased.

Apple FY 11 1st Quarter Results Conference Call

Apple’s conference call webcast discussing Q1 - 2011 financial results will begin at 2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET on Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

Apple will provide live audio streaming of its FY 11 First Quarter Results Conference Call. The live webcast will begin at 2:00 p.m. PST on January 18, 2011 at and will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter. Viewers simply need a copy of QuickTime, available for download from, to listen to the conference call.

Ten Billionth Download

As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide. Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a US $10,000 iTunes Gift Card. Just visit the App Store, and download what could be your best app yet.

Microsoft fights Apple Trademark on 'App Store'

Microsoft is asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny Apple a trademark on the name “App Store,” saying the term is generic and competitors should be able to use it.

Apple applied for the trademark in 2008 for goods and services including “retail store services featuring computer software provided via the internet and other computer and electronic communication networks” and other related offerings. Apple launched its App Store for the iPhone that year along with its iPhone 3G. The store is now available on any device that runs the company’s iOS software, namely the iPod Touch and iPad, and Apple introduced its Mac App Store earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Microsoft filed a motion for summary judgment with the agency’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, asking it to deny the trademark to Apple.

Verizon will Offer the iPhone next Month

Ending months of feverish speculation, Verizon announced on Tuesday that it would begin selling a version of the iPhone 4 early next month.

“Today, two industry innovators are coming together to deliver something consumers have been hungry for for years,” said Lowell McAdam, the president and chief operating officer of Verizon, at a news conference at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. “We are bringing to market the fruit of our strategic partnership with a giant in the market, and that is Apple.”

Apple had to create a new version of the iPhone 4 for Verizon because its network uses a technology known as CDMA, as opposed to the GSM technology used in all existing iPhones.

Mr. McAdam said Verizon and Apple first began discussing the prospect of bringing the iPhone 4 to Verizon two years ago.

Verizon to sell Apple iPad that Connects directly to its Network

Along with today's iPhone announcements, Verizon Wireless will sell a version of Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer that can connect directly to its network, posing another challenge to AT&T Inc. as the carrier’s exclusive hold on the iPhone draws to a close.

Verizon will get an embedded chip in the iPad for use on its network, Francis Shammo, chief financial officer of Verizon Communications Inc., the parent of the wireless unit, said today in an interview in New York. IPad users currently need an extra device to connect to Verizon’s network. Shammo declined to say when the change may happen.

Verizon Wireless, based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, said today it will begin selling the iPhone on its network to all customers on Feb. 10.

Verizon to offer iPhone Users Unlimited Data

Verizon Wireless will offer unlimited data plans when it starts selling the iPhone, a person familiar with the matter said, providing a key means of distinguishing its service from rival AT&T Inc.

New buyers of the Apple Inc. phone on AT&T's network have to choose between one of two data plans, each of which caps the amount that can be used. AT&T did away with its unlimited plan for new subscribers last summer, hoping to gain a measure of control over heavy users and to put itself in a better position to turn rising data use into revenue growth.

It wasn't clear how long Verizon would offer unlimited plans. Its executives have said repeatedly that the industry needs to move to some form of tiered pricing as data use rises, but for the moment the carrier is sticking with its current data plans.

Mac App Store Opens with more than 1,000 Apps

On Thursday Apple opened the Mac App Store, releasing a software update for Snow Leopard that allows Mac users to buy software using the same mechanisms they use to buy iOS apps and media via iTunes.

To enable the Mac App Store, Snow Leopard users will need to update to Mac OS X 10.6.6, either by using the Mac’s built-in Software Update or via a download from Apple’s Website. The update began to roll out to users beginning at 5:30 a.m. Pacific.

Comcast's iPad, Android Apps to get Live TV, On Demand Shows

iPad and Android tablet users will soon be able to watch 3,000 hours of on-demand content from Comcast, including numerous TV shows and movies. Additionally, Comcast customers will be able to stream live news and TV shows to their devices later this year, the cable giant announced Wednesday.

The on-demand functionality will come to Comcast's Xfinity TV app on the iPad first—"in the coming weeks," according to Comcast—and Android-powered tablets later this year. Comcast subscribers will be able to access a plethora of content anywhere they can get an Internet connection, and the company says this is just the beginning; "thousands" of additional programming options will become available in the coming weeks as well.

"Live streaming and the play now feature on our Xfinity TV app are two important pieces of our strategy to deliver any content to any device, any time," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.