Friday, September 30, 2011

AT&T Begins Throttling Unlimited Data Plan Users

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As planned, AT&T has started to throttle users on the unlimited plans who place in the top 5% of data usage for that month.

Although originally planned to start October 1, many users are reporting that their data usage is already being throttled. No word on the exact speeds yet.

Starting October 1, smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users. These customers can still use unlimited data and their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle. Before you are affected, we will provide multiple notices, including a grace period.

Verizon has too been throttling data for unlimited customers starting a few weeks back.

Remember that this only applies to unlimited data customers using a smartphone. Users reported that they received the message on throttling at or around 10GB.




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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Thursday, September 29, 2011

iPhone 4S / 5 appears in Apple’s inventory system, iPod touch may see price drops

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Yesterday we reported that tweaked iPhone 4 models and white iPod touch models have appeared in Apple’s internal inventory systems ahead of the October 4th Apple event. Today, though, comes the big news: the next-generation iPhone has made its way into Apple’s inventory system. This new iPhone is the N94 device that we found in the iOS SDK many months ago. This device is confirmed to pack Apple’s dual-core A5 processor, and is likely the device we described with an 8MP camera, 1GB of RAM, Nuance Dictation speech-to-text, and the groundbreaking Assistant feature.





Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new iPhone appearing in the inventory system is that the model number is similar to the one from a purported ‘iPhone 4S’ packaging label we spotted yesterday on a Chinese forum. We quickly dismissed the label as fake due to its unknown origin, but it is now possibly real. The model number from the label is MD239 (a 16GB unit), while the model number for the “better” (likely 32GB unit) is MD234. According to Mr. X, this sequence is sensible, but could just be a coincidence. If legitimate, the next-generation iPhone will be marketed as the iPhone 4S, but we definitely would not call that anywhere near confirmed. Another tidbit: IMEI and MEID being together on the label would seem to confirm this new iPhone to be GSM+CDMA (thanks @rokorre!).

Following up on our report yesterday that two new tweaked iPhone 4 models have appeared in the system, we are now hearing that the two models represent black and white units. The N90A is likely an 8GB iPhone 4 that comes in black and white.

iPods too!

We are also hearing that all three iPod touch capacities will be seeing price drops in certain international countries. The price drops for the 32GB and 64GB models will be minimal – perhaps due to currency fluctuations – but the 8GB pricing will change substantially. Translated, the 8GB iPod touch may even reach the $199 price point or below again in the United States, but that is unconfirmed. With the release of the $199 8GB Kindle Fire yesterday, a move like this from Apple makes sense.




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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Foxconn’s $12 billion Brazilian iPad factory in jeopardy

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According to Reuters, Foxconn’s new manufacturing plant in Brazil may be in jeopardy due to the company’s “crazy demands” related to tax breaks, lack of a skilled workforce, and the logistics of necessary infrastructure. The report claims after talking to government officials, “it is unclear whether the project will ever get off the ground”.

“The talks have been very difficult, and the project for a Brazilian iPad is in doubt,” one official said. “(Foxconn) is making crazy demands” for tax breaks and other special treatment, the official added.
Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology Aloizio Mercadante says the planned $12 billion investment might become a little less than originally expected. Reuters even suggests it’s possible Foxconn may only assemble iPads in Brazil using parts made elsewhere, rather than producing components onsite:

“One option could be for Foxconn or a Brazilian partner to simply assemble foreign-made parts to the iPad, rather than producing screens and other components locally. Other steps could also be taken to reduce the project’s scale, which may simply have been too ambitious for all parties.”
The project, which was initially set to begin production in July, was pushed back to November due to similar concerns. On September 14th, we told you Aloizio Mercadante confirmed that iPads made at Foxconn’s new plant in Jundiaí, near São Paulo, would hit the market by December. It’s unclear now whether or not the deal will fall through.



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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Samsung Agrees to Pay Microsoft for Using Android

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Microsoft announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement with Samsung, to cross-license the patent portfolios of both companies, providing broad coverage for each company's products. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung's mobile phones and tablets running the Android mobile platform. In addition, the companies agreed to cooperate in the development and marketing of Windows Phone.

"Microsoft and Samsung see the opportunity for dramatic growth in Windows Phone and we're investing to make that a reality," said Andy Lees, president, Windows Phone Division, Microsoft. "Microsoft believes in a model where all our partners can grow and profit based on our platform."

"Through the cross-licensing of our respective patent portfolios, Samsung and Microsoft can continue to bring the latest innovations to the mobile industry," said Dr. Won-Pyo Hong, executive vice president of global product strategy at Samsung's mobile communication division. "We are pleased to build upon our long history of working together to open a new chapter of collaboration beginning with our Windows Phone "Mango" launch this fall."

FOSS Patents notes that "This is the most important Android-related intellectual property deal in its own right, and even more significant against the background of Google's proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility. If Samsung truly believed that Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the Android ecosystem at large, it would have waited until that deal is closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft. But Samsung probably knows it can't rely on Google. It decided to address Android's intellectual property issues on its own."

Interestingly, it appears that Samsung was able to negotiate a lower licensing fee by promising to work with Microsoft to promote Windows Phone 7. Microsoft's mobile operating system has received good reviews but has seen low adoption rates and the company working hard to negotiate deals with manufacturers to push the OS.



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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jaffray’s Munster: ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ event points to voice-controlled system

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Image credit: Ben Buffone

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster is reading into the “let’s talk” portion of the headline from invitations sent out today for Apple’s upcoming October 4th media event. In fact, he thinks it’s indeed a clue to the new iPhone’s Assistant feature that 9to5Mac told you about first.

”In the past,” Munster writes in a note to clients, “Apple has used its invitation to include cryptic hints as to what it will announce. The phrase on this year’s invite, ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ may be a simple play on words, but may also refer to new speech-based features for the iPhone.”
Some have also speculated the red “1″ badge on the phone icon of the invitation as hinting at only one device being launched, rather than two variations. Munster thinks two iPhones will be launched on October 4th, however he doesn’t expect the low-end, inexpensive model that has been rumored. Rather, he expects a full-fledged iPhone 5 that will sell at the $199/ $299 price point, in addition to a refreshed iPhone 4 (or iPhone 4S) for $99:



We Do Not Expect a Low-End iPhone. Some investors are looking for Apple to announce a low-end iPhone that Apple could sell to carriers for less than $300 vs. the current carrier cost of over $600. This would enable carriers to offer affordable, unsubsidized iPhones and further penetrate more price-sensitive markets. However, we do not expect Apple to announce such a device on 10/4. Rather, we expect Apple to continue with a lead device (iPhone 5) that carriers sell subsidized for $199/ $299 along with a previous generation device (iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S) for $99.

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

T-Mobile: About the iPhone, a letter to customers

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T-Mobile’s CMO Cole Brodman recently published a letter addressing customers regarding the iPhone. While yesterday he confirmed the carrier would not be receiving the new iPhone come October, he described their desire to offer a “no-compromise iPhone experience” to current users:

“We’ve heard from many customers who love their T-Mobile service, but are disappointed that we don’t carry the iPhone. To these customers, first, thank you for your business. Please know that we think the iPhone is a great device and Apple knows that we’d like to add it to our line-up. Today, there are over a million T-Mobile customers using unlocked iPhones on our network. We are interested in offering all of our customers a no-compromise iPhone experience on our network.”
Of course the ability to capitalize on the over 1 million iPhone users currently on T-Mobile’s network that purchased the device elsewhere would be a huge advantage. Brodman then points out the carrier’s other offerings with the recently launched Galaxy S II and notes Android is outpacing iPhone in “consumer adoption, market share and capabilities like support for faster 4G networks”. He did, however, reiterate the carrier’s desire to get an iPhone in their lineup yesterday saying it’s in Apple’s hands now and that they are waiting for “that call”.


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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Apple confirms October 4 event: Let’s talk iPhone

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The Loop reports that Apple has finally confirmed the long-awaited media event. The wait will soon be over: Apple has scheduled a press conference next Tuesday, October 4. The event will take place at Apple’s home turf, its Cupertino campus in California at 10am PT, as rumored. If an email invitation is any indication, this will definitely be an iPhone-focused media event. AllThingsD has it on good authority that Apple CEO Tim Cook will deliver the presentation, a first for Cook in his new CEO role.

As 9to5Mac reported yesterday, Apple’s next iPhone will sport a dual-core A5 chip from iPad 2 with nine times faster graphics, giving the handset a leg up over the latest Android phones in the graphics department and gaming. The processor will pack in 1GB of RAM, twice as much as the iPhone 4′s A4 chip or iPad 2′s A5 processor.

Camera on the back will be upgraded to eight megapixels and will sport a backlit sensor that takes incredibly high-resolution and clear shots, even in low light conditions. The camera app might support panorama photography. Other treats include a Qualcomm Gobi baseband chip so a single hardware SKU should address both GSM and CDMA networks.

The biggest selling point is understood to be a voice activated feature called Assistant, stemming from Apple’s acquisition of Siri, a search intelligence startup. The “Let’s talk iPhone” tagline on the invitation could be deciphered as a subtle hint at Assistant.

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Jaffray’s Munster: ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ event points to voice-controlled system

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Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster is reading into the “let’s talk” portion of the headline from invitations sent out today for Apple’s upcoming October 4th media event. In fact, he thinks it’s indeed a clue to the new iPhone’s Assistant feature that 9to5Mac told you about first.

”In the past,” Munster writes in a note to clients, “Apple has used its invitation to include cryptic hints as to what it will announce. The phrase on this year’s invite, ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ may be a simple play on words, but may also refer to new speech-based features for the iPhone.”
Some have also speculated the red “1″ badge on the phone icon of the invitation as hinting at only one device being launched, rather than two variations. Munster thinks two iPhones will be launched on October 4th, however he doesn’t expect the low-end, inexpensive model that has been rumored. Rather, he expects a full-fledged iPhone 5 that will sell at the $199/ $299 price point, in addition to a refreshed iPhone 4 (or iPhone 4S) for $99:



We Do Not Expect a Low-End iPhone. Some investors are looking for Apple to announce a low-end iPhone that Apple could sell to carriers for less than $300 vs. the current carrier cost of over $600. This would enable carriers to offer affordable, unsubsidized iPhones and further penetrate more price-sensitive markets. However, we do not expect Apple to announce such a device on 10/4. Rather, we expect Apple to continue with a lead device (iPhone 5) that carriers sell subsidized for $199/ $299 along with a previous generation device (iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S) for $99.
(via Fortune)

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Monday, September 26, 2011

Formosa Plastics Group: The beast Apple should have never awoken

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Last week, in the midst of a highly publicized lawsuit against Samsung , news broke that Apple was being sued by Via Technologies Inc. In question: Three patents related to microprocessors in tablets and smartphones. If Asian trade publication DigiTimes is to be believed, market watchers are upbeat about VIA prevailing in this case, with a little friendly help from Google.

Who is VIA Technologies? A Taipei-based semiconductor manufacturer, VIA files as the world’s largest independent manufacturer of motherboard chipsets. The company currently holds more than five thousand patents. But why would a second-tier x86 microprocessor maker sue Apple? Well, VIA Technologies and HTC both share the same parent company, the Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate whose diverse interests include biotechnology, petrochemical processing and production of electronics components.

One of the world’s ten biggest petrochemical producers, the Formosa Plastics Group was founded by Wang Yung-ching (regarded as Taiwan’s most influential entrepreneur) and his brother Wang Yung-tsai. The group is headed by CEO Wenchi Chen and chaired by Lee Chih-tsuen. But wait, there’s more. As observed by John Oram over at the Bright Side of News* blog, VIA and HTC also share family ties:

The wife of VIA Technologies’ CEO is Ms. Cher Wang, Chairperson and Co-Founder of HTC. In 1997, at the age of 39, Wang launched HTC along with associates HT Cho and Peter Chou. Wang is the daughter of Y.C. Wang, who co-founded the conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group. Formosa Plastics Group and the Wang Family are one of most successful family enterprises in Asia. Cher Wang is known as a highly successful business woman ranked in 20th spot on Forbes list of the 2011 World’s Most Powerful Women.
Those juicy bits were also relayed by other publications, including Webwereld.nl. Wang was instrumental in a July deal when VIA sold graphics chip maker S3 Graphics to HTC for $300 million. HTC then used patents from S3 Graphics in conjunction with the Motorola patents Google transferred to them to countersue Apple. Has Apple opened Pandora’s box by going after HTC?

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Nielsen: Android is gaining market share but not at the expense of Apple

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In a new study from Nielsen for the month of August, Android is continuing to grow reaching 43% of all smartphone owners, up from 40% in July. This in contrast to Apple’s 28% share, which according to Nielsen, has been static since June.

It’s important to note, however, that Android’s increase was largely due to the decline of the “other” category, which fell from 13% to 11% thanks to poor performance from Microsoft and Palm. RIM also lost share falling 1 percentage point to 18%, which contributed to Android’s rise as well. Of course this was also the first summer where Android wasn’t met with a new iPhone to compete for new smartphone acquirers.

The report is quick to note that the introduction of a new iPhone next month could easily sway the numbers in Apple’s favor, at the very least for recent acquirers, which the survey put Apple at 28% in comparison to an impressive 56% for Android during the month of August.

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

All about The new iPhone..

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Update Sep 27 – Apple has sent “Let’s Talk, iPhone” ;) invites to the event.

It’s time to show our cards.

If you crack open the casing of the new iPhone, you will find significant upgrades from the iPhone 4. The new iPhone features Apple’s dual-core A5 processor like the iPad 2 for even faster performance, better gaming, and drastically improved graphics. Apple didn’t stop there though. Unlike the iPad 2, the new iPhone packs 1GB of RAM, according to a source familiar with the SOC’s manufacturing. That not only means better web browsing, but more importantly, new background tasks that Apple will introduce in the new iPhone’s software will perform much better.

The new iPhone will also feature an upgraded camera system. In terms of hardware, the new camera is an 8 megapixel sensor that takes incredibly high-resolution and clear shots, even in low light conditions because it has a backlit sensor. Also, panorama photography references have been found in the iOS SDK on multiple occasions which means we’ll likely see that feature. Other than that, the camera front-end system is reportedly mostly the same.

The new iPhone also contains Qualcomm Gobi Baseband chips that allow it to operate on both GSM and CDMA networks. We can’t yet confirm or deny the rumors that Apple was building a virtual SIM card system or if it has an NFC chip yet, however.

Although some may be happy with the new iPhone’s substantial internal hardware boosts, the new device’s biggest selling point is actually a software feature called Assistant. As we first revealed, Assistant is Apple’s Siri-inspired, system-wide voice navigation system. It so far appears that iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS users will be left out in the fun, unfortunately, because the feature requires the A5 CPU and additional RAM.

Everything you could possibly want to know about Assistant is after the break…




From what we’ve heard, the Siri-based Assistant is described as the biggest game changer in this year’s iPhone. The system is the evolution of the Voice Control function that was introduced alongside the iPhone 3GS in 2009 and it is the fruit of Apple’s purchase of Siri last year.

How it works:

To activate, the user holds down the home button for a couple of seconds (loads much quicker than Voice Control because of the A5 chip/RAM) and then the microphone interface “slides up” from the bottom in a clever animation. The speech interface doesn’t cover your entire view, just about the bottom fourth of the display – like the multitasking/app-switcher function. The feature even works from the lock screen.

As a disclaimer, we must note that the software was not finalized when the details were provided, so some features may change in the shipping version.

Since there are so few direct commands with Voice Control, Apple slides the command options by on a waveform. Assistant is packed with seemingly endless possibilities, so Apple instead has a small “info” button which one can click to view some of the most commonly spoken commands. This command view not only shows command types, but actually provides some sample phrases; Apple obviously wants their implementation to be as intuitive as possible. In the middle of the Assistant interface – next to the small command samples button – is a silver microphone icon with an orbiting purple flare. The flare notes that your iPhone is ready to receive commands.

Assistant taps into many aspects of the iPhone, according to people familiar with the feature and SDK findings. For example, one can say make appointment with Mark Gurman for 7:30 PM and Assistant will create the appointment in the user’s calendar. On noting events, Assistant also allows users to set reminders for the iOS 5 Reminders application. For example, a user could say “remind me to buy milk when I arrive at the market.” Another example would be integration with the iOS Maps application. A user could ask: “how do I get to Staples Center?” and Assistant will use the user’s current location via GPS and provide directions.

Another interesting Assistant feature is the ability to create and send an SMS or iMessage with just your voice. For example, you can say “send a text to Mark saying I’ll be running late to lunch!” – and it will send. This is a super compelling feature for people who cannot physically or safely take the time to type out a text message. Users can also choose to have Assistant read back unsent text messages to ensure the system interpreted the speech correctly. If the text is written correctly, the user simply says “yes;” if not the user says “no” and Assistant will ask the user to speak again. Apple is also working to allow users to ask for a specific song to be played. Voice Control only allows albums, artists, and playlists to be chosen with your voice.

One of the key elements of Assistant is the conversation view. The system will actually speak back and forth with the user to gain the most information in order to provide the best results. The user essentially can hold a conversation with their iPhone like it is another human being. For example, if a user is making a meeting with me, they will say “setup meeting with Mark” and the first “bubble” of the conversation thread will say that. After that, the system will speak back: “which e-mail address should Mark be notified at, work or personal?” This question will both be spoken out loud by the iPhone Assistant and shown as a new “bubble” in the conversation thread. The user will then respond with the email address they want to notify me at, and the appointment will be made. The iPhone will even show a quick glance at a calendar view to confirm the appointment. If the Assistant was sending an SMS, as another example, a mini SMS view would appear so the user has a quick glance at the SMS thread.

Assistant is literally like a personal assistant, but in your phone. The speech interpretation is so accurate that users do not even have to speak very clearly or in a slow and robotic tone, according to a source familiar with the software. Users can simply talk how they would usually talk to another person, and the iPhone with Assistant will do its best to interpret the speech and provide accurate results.

Another compelling feature relating to Assistant is “Find my Friends.” Yes, Find my Friends is real and Apple may have been waiting on Assistant integration to release it into the wild. Basically, if a friend of mine wants to instantly know where I am, they could say “where’s Mark?” and Assistant will locate me and share my location information. Of course, there will be privacy settings for this as we previously revealed.

Perhaps the coolest aspect of Assistant is its integration with Wolfram Alpha. For those unfamiliar with Wolfram Alpha, it is an online computational knowledge system. With its integration into the new iPhone and Assistant, one could essentially ask their iPhone facts or questions of all types and get an instant response. For example, you can ask your iPhone a math problem or ask how many feet are there in 12.75 meters, and get an instant answer. The whole idea of having an infinite amount of information at the sound of your voice is unbelievably convenient and powerful.




In addition to Assistant, the new iPhone features Nuance speech-to-text integration, formally called “Dictation,” according to a mobile carrier source familiar with the feature’s extended testing. As expected, the user just taps the microphone icon, speaks, and the speech becomes text. This happens in less than a second in most cases and is unbelievably accurate. The interface for this is also said to be remarkably simple and blends into the design of the iOS 5 Messages application.

Going back to the hardware design, we’re hesitant to jump to conclusions at this point, but we do know that these next-generation iPhones are definitely floating around with shells that look identical to the iPhone 4. Because a report claimed that Apple is stuffing next-generation guts into iPhone 4 casings to throw off leaks, we don’t want to affirm that the new iPhone retains the iPhone 4 design. In addition, a new design has been rumored based on recent “iPhone 5″ case leaks.

In any case, expect Assistant, 1GB of RAM, the dual-core A5 processor, Nuance speech-to-text, and an 8 megapixel camera to make an incredible iPhone upgrade on October 4th.


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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Sunday, September 25, 2011

SFPD wants surveillance footage in the lost iPhone case

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CNET reported this afternoon that the SFPD has asked for surveillance footage from Cava 22, the bar where an Apple employee apparently lost the unannounced iPhone. The SFPD asked to see footage from the dates of July 21st and 22nd, not when the iPhone left the bar, but as part of their investigation to see how officers assisted Apple in the search of a home that was believed to have the iPhone inside.

The SFPD told CNET:

Lt. Troy Dangerfield, a spokesman for SFPD, said he wasn’t aware that investigators had gone to the bar or were looking for the videos. But he said that since Apple had not filed a police report, he was sure that there was no criminal investigation connected to the missing device. “In order for there to be a crime, you need a victim,” Dangerfield said. He concluded that the request by police for the surveillance footage was likely part of the internal review launched this month by department officials into how police assisted Apple in a search of a home on July 24.
The investigation into the investigation is becoming bigger than the original. It won’t matter in a few weeks however.


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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In France, publishers seek to break Apple’s rigid terms and 30 percent cut

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As apps become more lucrative than music, no wonder iTunes is projected to rake in a cool $6 billion in the combined 2011 music and app revenues. Be that as it may, Apple’s content store has seen little success in digital publishing due to a conflict of interests which is causing significant friction between Apple and publishers. In fact, Apple is under heightened pressure to loosen up its tight control over digital newspapers and magazines on iPad. Reuters reports:

Apple’s tight control over media content on its iPad is about to fall foul of some of France’s most powerful newspapers and magazines, which hope that by teaming up they can stop the technology giant from dictating the terms of their distribution. The bid by eight publications, including newspaper Le Figaro and sports daily L’Equipe, is the latest sign of growing disillusionment among some global publishers over what they consider Apple’s rigid terms and high commission of 30 percent.
Without “key concessions”, these publishers will not sell their digital magazines and newspapers on the Newsstand, Apple’s upcoming digital kiosk launching soon with iOS 5. Moreover, the French publications have a digital newsstand of their own which they will use to push digital editions, subscriptions and bundled offers to iPad owners. This comment from Le Figaro executive Pascale Pouquet caught our attention:

We’ll have to be ready to accept to lose some sales if we cannot come to terms with Apple,” he said. “But sometimes it’s better to cut off a finger than to sever the whole arm.
So publishers would rather “lose some sales” than make some money on iTunes? That’s a weird strategy. Print people should know better and remember that Apple generally does not budge to pressure. Pouquet’s school of thought brings to mind the following Steve Jobs comment on monetizing news made at last year’s D8 conference at Rancho Palos Verdes, California:

I can tell you as one of the largest sellers of content on the internet to date – price it aggressively and go for volume.
Granter, the uniform, low price approach did work in music, but it’s not striking chord with print die-hards, most of whom are stuck in the old ways. In any case, a growing disconnect between the print folks and Apple will test the company’s practice to impose its thirty percent cut on all items its content partners sell in iTunes. Now, some people warn Apple is at a disadvantage because media mogul Jobs personally cut crucial media deals with content owners. While that may have been the case, there’s now a new guy at Apple to talk to content industries…

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why are there Apple logos in the backdrop of a Samsung store? UPDATED: Replaced with “S” icons

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UPDATE [Monday, September 26, 2011 at 11:30am ET]: The Sammy Hub blog pointed out that Samsung has replaced all the wrong icons by an “S,” as seen in another image after the break.

Spotted by the folks over at CNET, an Italian Samsung store actually has Apple logos in the backdrop. You’ll noticed circled that there are App Store and Safari logos. Alright we’re just going to put this out there, Samsung — what the hell happened here? With all of the legal proceedings going underway, we’d think Samsung would try to step away from this kind-of thing.


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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Twitter announces October 12th developer event to discuss iOS 5 integration

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As noted by The Next Web, Twitter has announced two developer conferences coming up on October 12th, in New York and London, to discuss Twitter’s integration into iOS 5. Twitter’s Jason Costa describes the event:

There’s a lot going on in the ecosystem and we’d like to take this chance to share the highlights with you – including the latest developments with the platform, areas of opportunity that we’re seeing, and a heavy focus on the iOS 5 Twitter integration for developers. We’ll also be holding a Q&A session with members of the platform team, plus time to hang out with each other.
If rumors are true, these events will be shortly after the announcement of the iPhone 5 or/and iPhone 4S, and most likely after the release of iOS 5. There’s only 150 spots for developers, so grab your spot fast!

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- Posted using my iPhone 4

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple joins other tech firms in Digital Due Process group

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As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, Apple (and Dropbox) have joined up with the Digital Due Process group which seeks to modernize digital surveilance laws.

In April we launched “Who Has Your Back”, a campaign calling on major Internet companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft to stand with their users when it comes to government demands for users’ data. Today, we’re pleased to see that two of the thirteen companies highlighted in our petition, Apple and Dropbox, have agreed to one of our requests: that they stand up for user privacy in Congress by joining the Digital Due Process coalition. Digital Due Process is a diverse coalition of privacy advocates like EFF, ACLU and the Center for Democracy & Technology and major companies like AT&T, eBay and Comcast that has come together with the shared goal of modernizing surveillance laws for the Internet age. The DDP coalition is especially focused on pressing Congress to update the woefully-outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act or “ECPA.”
The timing of the announcement would seem to coincide nicely with Apple’s iCloud release in the coming days. Now that Apple is a Cloud vendor (OK MobileMe, .mac, eworld were all Cloud too), it would be good to hear where they stand on giving private data to law enforcement or foreign governments.
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Financial Times web app more popular than iOS app

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Reuters is reporting that the Financial Time’s web app is more popular than their recently Apple-removed iOS app. You’ll recall that the Financial Times’ iOS app was removed by Apple, due to the publication trying to dodge Apple’s 30% cut regulation. Luckily for Financial Times, they’re not seeing any issues in traffic, getting more than 700,000 users on their newly launched web app. Financial Times is simply drawing in users by displaying a message at the top of their site, linking to their HTML 5 app.

So this draws the question — do publishers really need to have an iOS app on the Store? Maybe not...

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iPhone 4S cases showing up in retail channels?

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Adding some validity to the possibility of a new iPhone branded “4S”, @chronicwire has just posted the images below showing the iPhone 4S branding on what looks like legit packaging for a new Otter Box iPhone case.



Another couple if you head down south. Notice the changed volume buttons that may or may not be indicative of a volume button to camera shutter feature.

LEAK: Photo of the back of the package showing the iPhone 4S case, depicting new volume buttons, and on the right side. New soft-looking volume buttons being on right side of iPhone 4S can probably be attributed to the “volume button to take pic” iOS5 feature
Update (Sept 23rd): TUAW talked to Otterbox who clarified:

She explained that the ad reflected the current conversations going on in the blogosphere. “Like many, we are watching the rumor sites and using information to plan ahead as much as we can.” Otterbox promises support for whatever iPhone debuts, but they’re emphatically not stating or leaking anything further. “We do not have any confidentiality agreements with Apple,” Richardson told TUAW. As for those iPhone 4S Otterbox packaging photos that leaked yesterday, she explained, “What was circulating yesterday was not a case image for the iPhone 4S but a packaging design.” Otterbox has not identified the source of the photos.









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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Will the iPhone 4S be the only iPhone launched at Apple’s Fall event?

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image via Walyou
Last week, we heard that iPhone 4S devices, ones identical in appearance to current iPhone 4s, were rolling of the assembly lines in big numbers. The only differences in this model are the 8 Megapixel camera and A5 Processor. Everything else is the exact same. In fact, Apple employees could be carrying these around without anyone knowing. The ‘iPhone 5′ lost in a bar might have looked like an iPhone 4.

The bad news is that we reported that there were design and production delays that could have pushed the iPhone 5 launch back.

It appears that the tear-drop shaped iPhone 5 with larger screen and thinner, rounder body is seeing continued design and production delays, at least on one assembly line (Apple has multiple production sources – Pegatron, Foxconn, etc). We therefore think that iPhone 5 will be delayed slightly at the very least and may see shortages all the way into 2012.
Since then, we’ve also heard that those iPhone 5 delays might push the teardrop iPhone 5 out until 2012. This is from two separate, additional sources who have ties to Apple and its manufacturing partners. We don’t want to believe this but we’re hearing it more and more…



Today, Wedge Partners’ Brian Blair told BGR as much:

Despite numerous rumors to the contrary, Apple will only launch one iPhone model this fall and it will be a modest upgrade that closely resembles the current iPhone 4. In a note to investors on Wednesday, Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair says that Apple will hold a special event between September 28th and October 5th to unveil several new devices. Only one of those devices will be an iPhone, however, and Blair says it will be an incremental update as opposed to the redesigned iPhone 5 that has been rumored on multiple occasions.
So how do you explain all of the iPhone 5 case leaks? How do you explain what Apple’s iPhone hardware team has been doing in the past 16 months? Terry Gou, Foxconn’s chairman, recently said it was very hard to make Apple products but perhaps he was referring to a specific one that Foxconn was having a hard time making. We’d love to know what is going on behind the scenes.

Blair says the low cost device everyone is talking about will actually be a 3G iPod touch which will have plans like an iPad and be able to make calls over VoIP. That would be interesting.

But on that iPhone 4S, or whatever Apple decides to call it at this point, we have some exciting news coming up. Stay tuned.

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Sprint CEO reveals he will have to change guidance for the ‘rumored device’

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Clearly, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse knows (whether or not) he’s getting the iPhone in a few weeks. But he’s obviously sworn to secrecy by Apple.

The problem is that he has to tell investors how he’s going to come up with all of the additional money and subscribers that will come with getting the iPhone and offering it on unlimited data plans. When asked about the “rumored device” he said,

“If we get it–if–we may have to adjust our guidance for that,”
Last week, Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer did the same dance, saying that Sprint’s network could handle the iPhone, not that it was getting it.

It will indeed be interesting to see how Sprint’s network can handle the iPhone, especially with unlimited plans.

In other ‘News’, Al Gore mentioned that Apple would be releasing new iPhones next month.

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AllThingsD: Apple CEO Tim Cook to unveil iPhone 5 at October 4 media event

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Apple CEO Tim Cook at the January 11 Verizon iPhone presser

We received an interesting tip in July that AT&T would be changing its iPhone tiers on October 4th. At the time, we said,

AT&T raises iPhone device tier on October 4th, perhaps signaling launch date?
Fast forward to today. AllThingsD reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook will unveil a fifth-generation iPhone at a media event scheduled for Tuesday, October 4:

Tuesday, October 4. That’s the day Apple is currently expected to hold its next big media event, according to sources close to the situation, where the tech giant will unveil the next iteration of its popular iPhone.
Author John Paczkowski mentions Apple could change plans at any time. The time frame jibes with the publication’s previous report calling for a mid-October launch of the next iPhone. Kara Swisher, another author with AllThingsD, wrote on Twitter last month that there will be no iPhone event “until October”.

This will obviously be a huge event for Tim Cook, his first in the CEO role. AllThingsD notes that pressure is on Tim Cook to perform well.

Cook is certain to preside over the iPhone 5 rollout. He has to, of course. To pass the presentation on to anyone else — even one of Apple’s key executives such as Phil Schiller, who has handled the Macworld and Worldwide Developers Conference keynotes in 2009 — would undercut Cook’s new role and reinforce public perception that its legendary outgoing CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs is Apple and that it will be a different company without him.


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Flash Player 11, AIR 3 due next month: Full frame rate HD video in AIR apps on iOS, console-quality 3D graphics, more

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Adobe today announced in a blog post that it updated its Flash Player and AIR platform with new capabilities allowing for rich 3D-accelerated graphics across desktop and mobile devices. Also, from the press release:

Full frame rate HD video can now be displayed within AIR applications on Apple iOS devices using H.264 hardware decoding. Rich applications on televisions are also able to deliver HD video with 7.1 channel surround sound.
The company boasted top to bottom 3D acceleration on supported hardware and said developers will be able to take advantage of native code libraries and tap specific hardware and software features of a target device, such as NFC, accelerometers, light sensors, magnetomeres, device vibration and what not.

2D graphics will also see significant performance enhancements with overall rendering faster up to a thousand times. AIR 3 apps can be packaged with the embedded AIR run-time and can be updated separately of the AIR runtime updates. They believe that under-the-hood tweaks will enable Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 to power console-quality games on any mobile or desktop platform and there’s a demonstration video to prove the bold claim, embedded below.

Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 will be available across Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BlackBerry Tablet OS, Android and other platforms. The release candidate versions are available for download here. The company also noted it partnered with Microsoft to bring Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 to Windows Phone software. Needles to say, support for iOS is planned only for AIR 3. Go past the fold for more impressive tech demos and features.



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How long from iPhone announcement to launch?

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Fortune does a nice look back on how long Apple has waited from announcement (which seems to be October 4th at this point) and actual launch of the iPhones and iPads. Initial launch windows are huge because there weren’t really competitors in the space quite yet.

Importantly, the general trend is towards a smaller window.

Ten days out, October 14th, seems like a reasonable projection, doesn’t it?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Samsung to go after iPhone 5 in Europe, too?

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iPhone Air concept render by Ciccarese Design

On Monday, The Korea Times wrote Samsung would seek “a complete ban” on iPhone 5 sales right after the handset goes on sale in Korea. Today, Reuters chimed in with new pieces of information asserting Samsung’s retaliatory moves could include an injunction against iPhone 5 in Europe. The story, based on “a source familiar with the matter”, goes like this:

Samsung Electronics Co is considering legal action to ban sales of Apple’s new iPhone, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, in what could be its strongest step to defend against claims by the U.S. firm that the South Korean firm had copied its product designs. The source declined to elaborate further on where Samsung planned to take legal actions and the Maeil Business Newspaper reported that the South Korean firm may seek injunction request on Apple’s new iPhone in Europe.
Recent developments have brought new twists, marking a change in Samsung’s otherwise defensive handling of its ongoing legal spat with Apple, its biggest buyer of electronic components. The case now involves 23 lawsuits in multiple countries such as France, Japan, Germany, Korea and the United States. In fact…




…Apple’s accusations that Samsung thoroughly copied their iOS mobile devices with the Galaxy smartphones and tablets have brought their long-standing business relationship to the point of no return, with Apple allegedly taking its lucrative chip making business to rival TSMC. Apple is expected to unveil iPhone 5 at a media event later this month. The sought-after phone should hit store shelves early October.

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Apple is too powerful for the Dow Jones Industrial Average

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In the face of the shrinking economy and broad market decline, AAPL yesterday surged 2.8 percent at $411.65 a share for a market valuation of $381.62 billion. The Cupertino, California gadget king is now worth more than Exxon Mobil, which up until recently used to be the world’s most-valued company bar none. It is also approaching the combined value of Microsoft and Google.

Today, we’ve been served another eyebrow-raising factoid which helps paint Apple’s ever-growing influence in the world, via Bloomberg:

Putting Apple Inc. (AAPL) in the Dow Jones Industrial Average would mean the benchmark gauge would get 22 percent of its value from the iPhone maker, too much influence even for the world’s largest company, according to Bespoke Investment Group LLC. Apple, trading at about $420, would have the largest weighting in the 30-company measure because Dow companies are ranked by stock price, not market value.
Apple shares would have to be split if the stock were included in the Dow, the investment group wrote in a note to clients: “If the stock were added to the index without a split in the shares, it would have a disproportionate weight in the index, making it more like the Dow Jones Industrial Apple.”

Dow Jones Industrial Apple, we love the sound of that. Another quick nugget: Shares of Apple are now worth 91 times their 1997 value when Steve Jobs had been appointed interim CEO…




AAPL vs. XOM: Apple is now the world’s most-valued company.

It should be noted that market valuation doesn’t really mean that much. Market valuation of any company has its ups and downs and is prone to both macroeconomic and microeconomic conditions, thereby changing quite often. market valuation, however, tells us one thing, and that is how confident investors are in a company and how high are their expectations related to future fortunes. Trends do matter, mind you, and these days Apple is killing it in style. In April, Apple had hit one-fifth of the Nasdaq-100 index, prompting Nasdaq OMX Group Inc which operates the Nasdaq exchange to rebalance Apple’s share of the index to 12.33 percent, down from 20.99 percent.



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Autodesk’s SketchBook for iPhone becomes a $14 million app

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that Autodesk’s SketchBook Mobile is just a fad which ranks down below on the App Store earnings chart. I mean, how popular a pro-grade paint and drawing software costing two bucks a pop can become in this freemium economy? You will probably be surprised to learn it amassed a cool seven million paid downloads on the App Store thus far. This would mean revenues in the range of fourteen million dollars for the company, or about $9.8 million after Apple’s customary thirty percent cut. Bloomberg has the story:

Autodesk Inc. spent almost 30 years selling engineering and design software to accumulate 12 million customers. It took a single iPhone app – and less than two years – to attract 7 million more. Autodesk’s SketchBook application, which also works with the iPad and Android devices, has boosted the company’s user base and drawn new kinds of customers, Chief Executive Officer Carl Bass said today.
The San Rafael, California company benefited in ways more than just direct revenue from paid downloads…

Their profile and visibility heightened as a result of the program’s popularity among the iPhone crowd, the CEO told the publication. The aforementioned SketchBook Mobile app is a $2 download for the iPhone from the App Store. A Free version for iPhone is also available. The Pro release for the iPad can also be found, priced at five bucks, in addition to a free of charge iPad download with fewer features.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Massive Apple stores due this week in Hong Kong, Shanghai, new store in Vancouver UPDATED 2x

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A new Apple store about to open in Vancouver’s Metrotown mall. Image: Reader Prem Sharma.

UPDATE 1 [Monday, September 19, 2011 at 11:55am ET]: This article has been updated with additional store photos included below the fold, at the bottom of the article…

UPDATE 2 [MONDAY, September 19, 2011 at 3:40Pm ET]: The Metrotown Apple Store in Canada has been confirmed on the official Metrotown account on Twitter.

Following grand openings last week, Apple remains adamant to open additional stores worldwide in order to meet its self-proclaimed goal of having thirty new brick-and-mortar spots ready by the end of September, coinciding with the expected launch of the next-generation iPhone.

B. C. Metrotown, Vancouver, Canada - Apple is opening a new retail space shortly in the Metrotown mall, the biggest flagship mall of British Columbia in Canada. The store was not listed on Apple’s retail site at press time so grand opening may not be imminent yet. Apple also operates three other stores in British Columbia, the Oakridge Centre store, the Pacific Centre store and the Richmond Centre location.

UPDATE: iPhoneinCanada.ca notes that Metrotown on Twitter confirmed the September 24 grand opening. Apple’s store is located “on the top floor of the mall nearby Guess, Lululemon and Mexx”, the site adds. Mark your calendars: The new Apple Store at @MetropolisatMet will open on September 24th, reads the tweet, which appears to have been subsequently removed.

Nanjing East, Shanghai, China – A listing for this massive store on Apple’s Chinese retail site mentions grand opening this coming Friday, September 23. Recent photos reveal a wide building adorned with the red curtain promotional signage matching that on Apple’s retail site. Shanghai’s third store sporting five levels is located at the corner of Nanjing Road East and Henan Zhong Lu, within walking distance of the city’s famous skyscraper panorama and right within The Bund, a major tourist attraction consisting of the wide avenue of historic buildings.


Image credit: M.I.C. gadget

The Nanjing East place will be Apple’s biggest store in China yet and their sixth store in the country (including the upcoming Hong Kong store). It is said to sport four floors of retail space. Shanghai is also the home to the spectacular cylindrically shaped Pudong store and the Hong Kong Plaza store.

Both these stores pale in comparison with a massive new store opening in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial centre.



More pics below:














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Netflix spins off by-mail group as Qwikster

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Some interesting news from Netflix this morning: They are spinning off their by mail group, which will also include video games and giving it a new name ‘Qwikster’.

While the video below and the announcement blog post set a conciliatory tone for the way the recent changes (price hikes) happened, those changes are still in place and will continue going forward.


In fact, it sounds like Netflix is set to spin off its old mailing business in the future even though in-house Qwikster now sells game rentals as well as movies and TV shows.

The future of video and gaming is clearly streaming and it appears that Netflix doesn’t want to be associated with that entity.

Apple, for what it is worth, has been shunning optical for years, refusing to put Blu-ray optical discs in its Macs or Apple TV products and instead pushing the streaming of media.




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Sunday, September 18, 2011

South Korean carrier rolling out ‘Apple-certified’ NFC case and service for iPhone

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While we might not see NFC integrated by Apple into the iPhone for a generation or two, South Korean carrier KT is taking matters into their own hands and has announced their plans to roll out their own NFC service and accompanying case for the iPhone. The iPhone 4 case is called the iCarte and and was developed by a Canadian company called Wireless Dynamics. A KT executive commented on the plans:

With the recent launch of NFC-enabled smart(phones), iPhone users were showing increasing needs for NFC services, Hyunmi Yang, executive vice president for integrated customer strategy at KT, said in a statement. As a global leader of NFC services, KT plans to provide more convenient and differentiated NFC services to its customers.
This NFC case will give KT iPhone customers the opportunity to finally use their iPhone 4 as their digital wallet. KT’s service will also include a pre-paid “transit card” so users could use their iPhone with the NFC case as their point of payment for transportation. Credit card companies in Korea are expected to jump on board the new iPhone-based service next month. KT says they expect the iPhone to gain an integrated NFC chip next year.

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White “iPhone 4s” apparently shows up in AT&T internal system

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Engadget says that a white “iPhone 4s” – note the lowercase status of the “s” – has appeared in an internal AT&T system. “4s” is of course close to the “iPhone 4S” nomenclature we coined within our story about Apple seeding A5-equipped iPhones – with iPhone 4 designs – to developers earlier this year. The system that Engadget is calling an “inventory system” is not actually the one used in stores, and based on the accompanying text fields, that system looks to actually have to do with customer care. Additionally, the iPhone 3GS appears with a capital S in AT&T’s inventory systems.



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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple to Hold iPhone 5 Press Conference on October 5th?

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Apple will reportedly hold its iPhone 5 press conference on October 5th, according to a PocketGamer source.

Our inside source says there will be a press conference announcing the new hardware on October 5th, with retail release occurring a week later. This broadly fits with the movement of recent rumours, which peaked with a - since proven erroneous - 21st October release date, bought forward to a October 15th date, according to Orange CEO Stephane Richard.

The symbolism works well too: iPhone 5, iOS 5, October 5.

The currently rumored iPhone 5 release dates have been October 7th, 14th, and 15th.




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In my opinion it would be more reasonable that Apple would make the 5th it's release date.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Get 50% Off Everything On Belkin.com

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Belkin is offering a 50% discount on any product sold via Belkin.com until September 30th, reports AnandTech.

Yes, that means you will be getting everything for half the normal price with coupon code "FB50". There is no minimum purchase required either, so this literally applies to all products.

Belkin has already been experiencing server problems and is running out of stock on some items. Hit this link..




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