January 27, 2012

Investors eyeing Tim Cook’s management of Apple’s cash horde

Every three months Apple announces its quarterly earnings, and we see the company’s huge pile of cash grow to increasingly awe-inspiring heights. Like clockwork, a day or two after the earnings announcement comes calls for Apple to give some of that money back to its shareholders in the form of dividends.

Reuters claims that these calls for dividends are getting louder, and some investors are getting restless. Apple’s US$ 98 billion cash horde is so big that it represents a value of $ 104 per share, a big slice of the current $ 444 per share stock value.

Several Wall Street analysts are convinced that Apple will pay a dividend to investors in 2012, but they say that every year. Apple has not paid dividends on its stock since 1995, and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer has stated that the money isn’t burning a hole in Apple’s pockets. CEO Tim Cook and Oppenheimer revealed that Apple is actively looking at what to do with its money, but neither of the executives would commit to a firm comment on the company’s intentions.

One major stumbling block is that most of Apple’s cash is tied up overseas — $ 64 billion of its $ 98 billion. Repatriating that money to the US would subject it to a 35 percent tax, skimming over $ 22 billion off the top… something that Apple has lobbied against.

Within the next few days I predict we’ll see another wave of posts predicting huge company acquisitions — finish your drink if you see “Apple could buy Facebook” in your RSS reader before the end of the week. That’s also an unlikely scenario; Apple has a history of buying smaller companies that aren’t already household names, and it usually only drops a few billion dollars in the process.

Much like the iPad cannibalizing the Mac, I suspect Apple’s executives see the company’s cash stockpile as a nice problem to have. It affords the company a great deal of flexibility; Apple could make zero dollars in revenue for the next seven straight years and still be able to sustain its current operating expenses. With dividends and major acquisitions likely out of the picture, there’s no way of knowing what Apple intends to do with its money… though I have my own loony ideas about that.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Today’s Stupidest “Exclusive Report” Says Apple’s Siri-Controlled iTV Will Arrive By April

Today’s Stupidest “Exclusive Report” Says Apple’s Siri-Controlled iTV Will Arrive By April

The hope of a new Apple product on the horizon tends to make tech blogs a little fanciful, sometimes even delusional, so it’s hard to fault Techno Buffalo too much for their “exclusive” report that an Apple-made OLED HDTV with Siri functionalities — the much talked about iTV — is coming out “this April, or possibly May at the latest.” Hey, we all get carried away from time to time.

That said, TechnoBuffalo’s report isn’t too be trusted. In fact, it’s total bullshit. Here’s why.

According to TechnoBuffalo, their “high-ranking source within a major electronics retailer” claims they have seen “gorgeous, very thin” pre-production versions of the much fabled Apple iTV. It’ll support Siri, as well as “facial recognition software” that will allow the device to automatically detect and turn itself off when someone leaves the room.

They say it will be an OLED display with panel sizes up to 42-inches, and launch in April, or maybe May, they aren’t entirely sure. Whatever.

In addition:

Our source said Apple is exploring the notion of using the set to control other connected devices in the home; think along the lines of ovens that pre-heat while you’re watching TV before dinner, and garage doors that can be closed by voice command while you sit on the couch.

So this is all well and good, and sounds like quite a device. But unfortunately, TechnoBuffalo’s report is laughable nonsense.

Why? First of all, an Apple iTV shipping in April or May is impossible for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s too close to the iPad 3”s late March / early April release date: Apple’s not going to subvert the launch of one new product by launching a more expensive one at the exact same time. That’s why Apple ships the iPad six months away from the iPhone now.

How do we know the iPad 3 will ship in late March? Easy. We have reputable reports that it has entered production as of early January. It takes time to build enough units to launch in March… which raises another reason why TechnoBuffalo’s report is suspect, to say the least. If the Apple iTV was shipping in April, it’d be entering production right now, but there are no reports suggesting that’s the case.

Finally, TechnoBuffalo’s source is supposedly “highly-placed” in a major electronics retailer. That’s all you need to read to know that their source is talking out of his ass. Apple isn’t going to be carting around their iTV prototype to Best Buy to work out a distribution deal. They are going to keep it secret until the last minute and then sell it directly through their network of Apple retail outlets first, then gradually expand to other big boxes over time. But major electronics retailers are absolutely not going to get a heads-up about the iTV before Tim Cook himself announces it.

So nice try, TechnoBuffalo, but I think we can safely say you got burned on a bum report. And hey, if I’m wrong, and the iTV does ship before mid-May, well, I’m sure me and Techno Buffalo can come to an arrangement about something disgustingly symbolic that I can eat to show that I was wrong.

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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Cult of Mac

More than 80% of smartphones activated at AT&T were Apple’s iPhone

By Sam Oliver

Published: 09:26 AM EST (06:26 AM PST)
Apple’s first carrier partner remains is strongest, as AT&T revealed on Thursday that it activated a record 7.6 million iPhones over the holiday 2011 quarter.

The 7.6 million iPhones activated on AT&T represented 20.5 percent of the total 37 million iPhones Apple sold in its own record quarter, the results of which were announced on Tuesday. AT&T followed up Thursday with its quarterly earnings, in which consolidated revenues were up $ 1.1 billion to $ 32.5 billion.

The iPhone was dominant at AT&T, accounting for 80.8 percent of the 9.4 million smartphones sold through the carrier.In the previous quarter, the iPhone represented 56 percent of AT&T’s smartphone activations with 2.7 million units.
The wireless carrier revealed that a majority of the 7.6 million iPhones it activated in the quarter were the iPhone 4S. That aligns with what Apple executives said on Tuesday, when they revealed the latest model of their smartphone was by far the best selling.

The 7.6 million iPhones activated on AT&T also easily bested the 4.2 million iPhones Verizon activated during the same three-month span. The iPhone accounted for 55 percent of smartphone sales at Verizon.

AT&T also said it was a strong quarter for its Android-based handsets, as Android smartphones also set a new record over the holidays. Specific sales figures for Android and other platforms weren’t provided, but would remain among the remaining 1.8 million non-iPhone smartphones sold in the three-month period. Total smartphone sales were the best ever seen at AT&T, blowing past its previous quarterly record by 50 percent.

The nation’s second-largest wireless carrier added a total of 2.5 million wireless subscribers in the quarter. That means most of the 7.6 million iPhones activated over the holidays were to existing AT&T subscribers.

AT&T saw 10 percent growth in wireless revenues, and 19.4 percent growth in wireless data revenues. It said that 82 percent of its postpaid sales were smartphones.

Computing devices, including the iPad and other tablets, reached 571,000. That was the company’s best-ever quarter, and the carrier now has 5.1 million subscribers with those 3G-connected devices, up almost 70 percent from a year ago.

AppleInsider

Apple’s universal remote concept hints at future television set

By Neil Hughes

Published: 08:19 AM EST (05:19 AM PST)
Apple has shown interest in building a new, simplified remote control that would automatically control a variety of devices while reducing setup and frustration for the user.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled “Apparatus and Method to Facilitate Universal Remote Control,” it describes a touchscreen-based controller that would reduce the confusing clutter found on current universal remotes.

The filing notes that current remotes have a large number of buttons and switches to control the functions of a device, and while those buttons are necessary to control all of the functions, the average user typically only uses a handful of the buttons.

“The controls that are not normally used clutter the remote control and can cause confusion to the user when trying to locate a seldom-used feature,” the filing notes.

It also details how current universal remotes are even more complex to operate than the basic remotes that ship with specific devices, like a television set or receiver. And often times, those universal remotes cannot replicate some of the tasks found on the original remote.

“Hence, users must spend time learning a new remote control or programming an existing universal remote each time they purchase a new remotely controllable appliance, which detracts from the enjoyment of using the appliance after it is first purchased,” Apple’s application states. “What is needed is an apparatus and a method to provide remote control over multiple appliances without the difficulties described above.”

Apple’s proposed solution is a remote control with a dynamic touchscreen used for input. The remote would include a “discovery mechanism” that would discover available appliances for it to control, negating the need for users to enter complex codes and program individual devices.

The filing describes a remote controlling one or more of a television, video players, a stereo, a “smart home” control system, and even a Mac. The document notes that the controller could also be used beyond electronic appliances, and could control programs and functions on a computer, like allowing a user to play songs on iTunes on their Mac or PC.

Apple’s solution would simplify the user interface by having devices wirelessly transmit a specific interface for that device. The remote would receive this customized button layout, and dynamically present input options to the user without the clutter of a typical button-based universal remote.

The remote would also detect which appliances are within range of the controller. If, for example, a specific appliance could not be detected, the remote would gray that option out so the user would know it is not available.

The proposed invention, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in September of 2011. It is credited to Albert Vidal.

the application is particularly noteworthy as rumors of a full-fledged Apple television set have gained considerable steam since the release of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs late last year. Jobs told his biographer that he had “cracked” the concept for a television set with “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Various reports have suggested that Apple’s television could be controlled through Siri, Apple’s voice recognition and personal assistant software currently found on the iPhone 4S. But at times when voice control would not be ideal, Apple could also allow a back-up remote much like the one described in the newly unveiled patent application.

Another patent application detailed earlier this month by AppleInsider also offered a glimpse of how Apple could produce superior picture quality with advanced backlighting technology. The proposed invention is similar to how current LED-backlit television sets offer “local dimming,” which allows dark images on the screen to display truer blacks and more accurate colors.

AppleInsider

Lesser-known facts from Apple’s earnings statement

The attention-grabbing numbers from Apple’s most recent earnings statement have already made the rounds — US$ 46 billion in revenue, net profit of $ 13 billion, 37 million iPhones sold — and all of that within three months. Apple didn’t just turn in record-breaking performance for a tech company; only Exxon has ever managed to have a more profitable quarter than the one Apple just reported.

Combing through the spreadsheets on Apple’s earnings statement provides some additional insight into the company’s overall performance, where its strengths and weaknesses lie, and where the company might be headed in the future. These numbers aren’t as headline-grabbing as Apple’s profits or unit sales, but they tell an important story all the same.

Research and Development

In three months, Apple’s expenditures on R&D totalled a staggering $ 758 million. This compares to expenditures of “only” $ 575 million the year before. To get an idea of how much money Apple’s pouring into R&D, compare its three-month expenditures to the production costs of Avatar, one of the most expensive films ever produced. Avatar cost $ 237 million; in just three months, Apple’s R&D expenditures are enough to finance an entire Avatar trilogy.

The $ 575 million in R&D Apple spent in Q1 2011 likely went into the iPad 2, iCloud, the iPhone 4S, iOS 5, OS X Lion, the newest MacBook Air, and a whole host of things we haven’t even seen yet. Apple’s R&D expenditures for Q1 2012 have increased by an additional $ 183 million, so the company is still clearly focused on innovating like mad.

Mac sales

One of the few minus signs visible in Apple’s sales data was its North American Mac sales. Though sales were up by 19 percent compared to a year earlier, compared to the previous quarter Mac sales actually declined by 6 percent. North America was the only market to see a decline in Mac sales during the quarter, but at the same time only Europe and Asia Pacific had double-digit growth in Mac sales.

Oddly enough, sales of Mac desktops actually seemed to perform better over the quarter compared to portable sales (by trend, not by number of units sold):

Desktops

  • Unit sales up 16 percent
  • Revenue up 15 percent

Portables

  • Unit sales up 3 percent
  • Revenue up 2 percent

Both types of Mac vastly outperformed the year-ago quarter, but the tapering off of portable Mac sales and the overall decline in Mac sales in North America during the Christmas sales period is intriguing. Several factors may explain this phenomenon.

First, there were no significant Mac notebook updates during the quarter; the MacBook Pro’s late October refresh was quite modest, and the MacBook Air hasn’t been updated since July. Second, the mid-2011 discontinuation of the plastic MacBook eliminated Apple’s “entry level” offering; the smaller and less capacious 11-inch MacBook Air costs the same as the old MacBook, but it may not be as attractive an offering to budget-minded notebook shoppers. Larger economic factors may have been at play, too; North American shoppers in particular simply may not have had the discretionary funds for a Mac purchase over the holiday quarter.

While all of those things likely had an impact on sales of Mac portables, I think what we’re really seeing here is the effect of the iPad’s cannibalization of the lineup. Over the quarter, the iPad outsold all Mac portables by nearly 4 to 1, and outsold all Macs combined by 3 to 1. Apple has admitted in the past that the iPad has “slightly” cannibalized Mac sales, and classified it as a “nice problem to have.” It looks like that so-called “problem” is showing signs of getting worse.

None of this is to say that the Mac is in any danger; in a sharp contrast from the rest of the PC industry, the Mac is still seeing unit sales and revenue growths well into the double digits. Whether that trend continues or not is going to depend greatly on the iPad’s growth; Tim Cook has said he expects the iPad to eclipse the PC industry eventually, but in terms of both unit sales and revenues, the iPad has already supplanted the Mac after less than two years on the market.

iPod sales

During its earnings conference call, Tim Cook revealed that the company sold a total of 62 million iOS devices in the past quarter. Subtracting the iPhone and iPad from that number yields a total of approximately 10 million iPod touches sold (assuming Cook wasn’t also counting the Apple TV as an “iOS device,” that is). This means the iPod touch now accounts for almost two-thirds of all iPods sold; the iPod nano, shuffle, and classic combined are now essentially one drop in Apple’s massive bucket. Small wonder, then, that Apple’s music-only iPods weren’t updated at all this year.

The steep year-over-year decline in iPod sales came as no surprise. The iPod reached its all-time sales peak in Q1 of 2009, with 22.7 million units sold. Three years later, the iPod has clearly lost its mojo. With only 15.4 million iPods sold during the holiday quarter, the iPod barely outperformed its sales during the 2006 holidays. Apple sold five million fewer iPods this holiday season compared to the previous year.

As a matter of fact, Apple sold more iPads than iPods over the holiday quarter. This is a sharp contrast to the 2010 holiday season, when the iPod outsold both the iPhone and iPad. In late 2010, iPod sales were a few million units higher than the iPhone and exceeded those of the iPad by nearly 3 to 1. In late 2011, the iPad pulled just ahead of the iPod, and the iPhone outsold the iPod by more than two to one.

As recently as four years ago, the iPod was by far Apple’s biggest cash cow; revenues from iPod sales exceeded even Mac sales by a healthy margin during the 2007 holiday season. iPod sales are rapidly falling, however, making it clear that the device is no longer among Apple’s high-priority projects.

Given the yearly declines in iPod sales, it’s easy to envision a not-too-distant future where the iPod is relegated to niche status. It’s unlikely Apple will stop selling the device altogether, as it still addresses markets not served by the iPhone, but the days when the iPod was central to Apple’s fortunes are long gone.

iTunes

Apple’s revenues from the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, and iPod-related accessories totalled more than $ 2 billion over the quarter. Look back to exactly ten years earlier, to the first quarter of 2002; quarterly revenues were a mere $ 1.375 billion for the entire company.

It’s long been speculated that the various iTunes-related retail services operate at break-even or, at best, at a modest profit, and the services exist merely to spur growth in Apple’s hardware sales. That scenario may have been true years ago, but with a 42 percent year-over-year growth in revenue, iTunes is starting to look like a pretty lucrative business all on its own.

Peripherals

Apple sold $ 766 million in peripherals during the past quarter. Again, when you compare that to the company Apple was 10 years ago, the difference is stunning; sales of all Macs combined during Q1 2002 amounted to barely over $ 1 billion. If Apple’s sales of peripherals continue to increase by the same rate, by Q1 2013 it’ll be taking in nearly as much money from peripheral sales as it made from the Mac in 2002.

If Apple counts the Apple TV among its peripherals, then the device accounted for a fairly significant portion of the overall sales. With 1.4 million units sold during the quarter, Apple’s “hobby” would account for nearly a fifth of all peripheral sales.

iOS

Apple sold 37 million iPhones, 15.4 million iPads, and (going by Tim Cook’s numbers as revealed during the conference call) around ten million iPod touches over the holiday quarter. That’s a grand total of 62 million iOS devices sold in three months — all running the latest release of iOS, not some year-old version of it, and all of them virtually guaranteed OS updates for several years.

During the last quarter, iPhone sales reportedly exceeded sales of all Android handsets, from all vendors, combined. The iPad continues to utterly dominate the tablet market; Tim Cook reported no measurable impact on iPad sales even after the debut of the most popular Android (forked) tablet so far, the Kindle Fire.

Apple earned almost $ 34 billion in revenue from iPhone and iPad sales — in three months. Google’s revenue for 2011 — all of Google, for the entire year — was $ 37 billion.

Clearly, Android is winning.

Average revenue per unit sold

Comparing Apple’s unit sales versus its revenues gives us an opportunity to see, on average, how much money Apple takes in with each sale in each product category. In turn, this gives us a general idea of which items in each category gain the most sales.

With 11 different models ranged over the Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro, the average selling price of a desktop Mac is $ 2072. The Mac Pro’s high prices drive that average selling price much higher than the actual revenue/unit number, which leads me to believe that sales of the Mac Pro are negligible at best.

Looking at the numbers, it seems the 21.5-inch iMac is very likely Apple’s most popular desktop model, followed by the 27-inch iMac, then the Mac mini. I would be shocked if the Mac Pro accounted for more than 10 percent of overall Mac desktop sales last quarter.

The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro combine for a total of 9 different models at an average selling price of $ 1588. The revenue/unit numbers from Apple’s earnings suggest that the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro account for a majority of Apple’s portable sales, with much lower sales for the 15 and 17-inch MacBook Pro models.

The revenue/unit numbers for the iPod line are lower than the lowest-priced iPod touch, but higher than the highest-priced iPod nano. With the iPod touch accounting for at least 50 percent and as high as 66 percent of overall iPod sales, this suggests that the 8 GB $ 199 iPod touch is Apple’s most popular iPod, with significantly lower numbers of 32 or 64 GB iPod touches sold.

Unsubsidized iPhones range from $ 375 for an iPhone 3GS up to $ 849 for a 64 GB iPhone 4S. With five total models on offer, the average sale price across the iPhone line is $ 634, lower than the actual revenue/unit numbers in Apple’s earnings.

To perhaps no one’s surprise, this suggests the iPhone 4S is Apple’s most popular iPhone. Given that the revenue/unit average is slightly higher than the $ 649 price for an unsubsidized 16 GB iPhone 4S, I’d theorize that while Apple’s most popular iPhone is likely the 16 GB iPhone 4S, sales of the more expensive 32 GB and 64 GB models must also be fairly brisk to counterbalance the the (admittedly much less popular) iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 on the low end.

In other words, despite being labelled as a “disappointment” by a tech press weaned on months of rumors about a substantially redesigned iPhone 5, it appears Apple sold every iPhone 4S that came off the assembly line.

Between the Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G options, the iPad 2 is available in six models at an average selling price of $ 664. With the iPad’s revenue/unit number falling below that, but still significantly higher than the $ 499 price of the low-end Wi-Fi model, the numbers suggest that Apple’s mid-range iPads are fairly high sellers.

Sales numbers of the iPad very likely map closely to the models’ prices, with brisk sales of 16 GB models, decent sales for the 32 GB option, and comparatively lower (but still more than satisfactory) sales of the 64 GB iPad 2. Unsurprisingly, the revenue/unit number suggests the Wi-Fi only iPads significantly outsell their Wi-Fi + 3G cousins.

Overall

To put it mildly, Apple’s earnings report shows a company in a very robust state of health. While iPod sales are in steep decline and some segments of Mac sales are showing signs of levelling off, the astonishing uptick in iPhone and iPad sales more than makes up for it.

The iPad by itself, in one quarter, brought in more revenue than 230 out of the Fortune 500 companies earn in an entire year.

The iPhone by itself, in three months, brought in more revenue than McDonald’s made in all of 2010.

Apple has $ 97 billion in cash. It could buy an iTunes copy of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey for everyone on Earth and still have $ 27 billion left over. How about a potentially better use of its money? After adjusting for inflation, Apple is a little over halfway to being able to finance its own version of the Apollo Program, all by itself. If you cut it down to just one mission, Apple is easily capable of building its own spaceport, developing and building its own launch vehicle, training its own astronauts, and sending a team of humans to the moon and back — and it would still have tens of billions of dollars left over.

Apple may not enjoy this level of success forever, but it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple’s new Israel chip R&D center rumored to open by end of February

By AppleInsider Staff

Published: 04:20 PM EST (01:20 PM PST)
Apple is said to have received hundreds of resumes from engineers who are seeking employment at a new research and development center in Israel rumored to open by the end of February.

The new center may be located in Haifa, in the industrial area south of the city Matam, according to Hebrew-language publication Calcalist (via Google Translate). The report said Apple is looking to hire engineers who will develop new chips for the company’s devices.

Specifically, Apple is said to be looking for engineers who have expertise in electrical circuits, as well as hardware testing and verification. The proposed location for the research center would be near similar facilities from Intel and Microsoft, among others.

The same publication claimed last month that Apple was planning to open a semiconductor development center in Israel. It has been said that the facility would be headed by Aharon Aharon, who is a veteran in Israel’s technology industry.

If the project becomes a reality, it would be Apple’s first strategic development center located outside of the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. Any activities outside of the company’s campus have to date been related to marketing, sales and support.

The rumored chip development center would be separate from any work done in Israel by Anobit, the flash memory company that was recently acquired by Apple for as much as $ 500 million. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook spoke of the Anobit purchase during his company’s quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday, and stated: “Anobit has fantastic technical talent. We’re really fortunate to have them join us.”

AppleInsider

Zynga Shamelessly Rips-Off Tiny Tower, Apple’s 2011 iPhone Game Of The Year

Zynga Shamelessly Rips-Off Tiny Tower, Apple’s 2011 iPhone Game Of The Year

Zynga Games is a company that has made most of its many millions on games “inspired” by other titles. And by “inspired,” we mean “shamelessly ripped-off.” Mafia Wars was a rip-off of Mob Wars. Words With Friends is a rip-off of Scrabble. Cafe World is a rip-off of Restaurant City. And so on.

So when Zynga came knocking and wanted to buy up NimbleBits, developers of Tiny Tower (which Apple recently named one of their games of the year), it didn’t take a genius to figure out that if the deal didn’t go through, Zynga would rip-off NimbleBit’s games anyway. And — shocker — it turns out that’s just what happened.

Zynga’s look-alike, play-alike game is called Dream Heights, and except for Tiny Tower‘s retro, 8-bit styling, it looks pretty much identical to NimbleBit’s award-winning game. And guess who’s pretty upset about it?

As word leaked to them about Zynga’s typical but ballsy move, NimbleBit’s David Marsh tweeted:

Even when you refuse to go work for Zynga, sometimes you end up doing work for Zynga anyway.

They did go the honest route and try to acquire us first.

Rebuffed, Zynga wasn’t going to let mere decency get in the way of making Tiny Tower their own though, prompting NimbleBit to try to raise awareness of the blatant swipe by releasing the following graphic to Twitter, showing how blatant the rip-off actually is:

Zynga Shamelessly Rips-Off Tiny Tower, Apple’s 2011 iPhone Game Of The Year

Sadly, my guess is that Zynga’s just going to turn a deaf ear to NimbleBit’s complaints. After all, they got away with stealing the idea of Scrabble: they can probably get away with stealing Tiny Tower too.

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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Cult of Mac

New Motorola suit seeks injunction against Apple’s iPhone 4S, iCloud

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

By Slash Lane

Published: 03:14 PM EST (12:14 PM PST)
Motorola Mobility has filed a new U.S. lawsuit, presumably with approval from Google, against Apple, seeking an injunction against the newly released iPhone 4S as well as the iCloud service.

The latest complaint was filed by Motorola against Apple in the Southern District of Florida. It cites six patents that were previously used in complaints against older Apple hardware and services.

The complaint was likely authorized by Google, Forian Mueller of FOSS Patents noted on Wednesday, as Google’s proposed takeover of Motorola Mobility gives the search giant control over such actions. The merger agreement between the two companies states that Motorola cannot “assert any Intellectual Property Right in any new Action” without the consent of Google.

The six patents named in Motorola’s latest suit against Apple are:

  • U.S. Patent No. 5,710,987
  • U.S. Patent No. 5,754,119 – “Multiple pager status synchronization system and method”
  • U.S. Patent No. 5,958,006 – “Method and apparatus for communicating summarized data”
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,101,531 – “System for communicating user-selected criteria filter prepared at wireless client to communication server for filtering data transferred from host to said wireless client”
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,008,737 – “Apparatus for controlling utilization of software added to a portable communication device”
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,377,161 – “Method and apparatus in a wireless messaging system for facilitating an exchange of address information”

The new lawsuit was filed because Motorola’s previous complaint, which was first filed in 2010, is too far along for new patents to be added. A trial in that case is scheduled to be held this summer.

“It’s certainly not the same kind of aggressive escalation as a lawsuit over a new set of patents would have been, but this shows that Motorola continues to fight hard,” Mueller wrote. “The fact that Google signs off on an additional lawsuit at this stage — as opposed to waiting for its purchase of MMI to close — also says something.”

AppleInsider

Amateurs beat pros at predicting Apple’s Q1 performance

When it comes to predicting Apple’s financial performance, you may want to ask bloggers, day traders, and amateur analysts instead of listening to Wall Street analysts. As cited in a post by Apple 2.0′s Philip Elmer-DeWitt, the real analysts blew it big time predicting Apple’s financial numbers for the first quarter of 2012.

As noted by Elmer-DeWitt, “although even the most bullish independents were surprised by the strength of Apple’s Q1 2012 results, at least they were in the ball park.” In a ranking of accuracy, the independent analysts took the top fifteen positions, while the Wall Street gurus brought up the bottom of the chart.

That’s not to say that Wall Street’s finest aren’t capable of making at least a few good estimates. Asymco’s Horace Dediu and Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu were both accurate on predicting the Mac sales numbers. TUAW’s favorite analyst, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, was right on target with his estimate of iPod sales.

When it came to iPads and iPhones, though, the independents beat the street. Gabriel Dubois was close with his estimates of iPhone sales and gross margin, while Gregg Thurman “missed narrowly on iPads.”

Elmer-DeWitt notes that “The company that Steve Jobs built is still that rare beast in American business: A $ 400 billion giant that acts — and grows — like a start-up.” That ability to be agile, design and sell innovative products, and make huge margins on sales of those products make it difficult for even the most highly-trained Wall Street analysts to make accurate predictions.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Bill Gates discuses Steve Jobs, Apple’s iBooks & the future of education

By Sam Oliver

Published: 11:37 AM EST (08:37 AM PST)
In a new interview, Microsoft founder Bill Gates discusses conversations he would have with the late Steve Jobs, and also shares his thoughts on the future of education in the wake of Apple’s iPad textbook announcement.

Gates sat down with Nightline’s Bill Weir for an interview in which he talked about his philanthropy. Having given away a significant portion of his wealth, Gates is no longer the world’s richest man.

Given his efforts to fight disease and poverty, Gates said the passing of Jobs late last year put some perspective on how fragile life can be. He said it was particularly strange to have someone as “vibrant” as Jobs die so young.

“It makes you feel like, ‘Wow, we’re getting old,’” Gates said. “Yet you look back and think about the great opportunities we had.”

Still in good health, Gates said he hopes to live long enough to see some of his current projects become a reality. He noted that medicines the Gates Foundation have invested in, with grants totaling more than $ 26 billion since 1994, are 15-plus years out from hitting the market.

In particular, one of the projects he and his wife Melinda have worked hard on is the eradication of malaria. “I need a couple of decades here to fulfill that opportunity,” he joked.

Gates also spoke about the one-on-one conversations he would have with Jobs. The former Microsoft chief executive said that while he and Jobs had very different skill sets, Jobs was “every bit as intense” as himself.

“He and I always enjoyed talking,” Gates said of Jobs. “He would throw some things out, some stimulating things, we’d talk about the other companies that had come along. We’d talk about our families and how lucky we had been in terms of the women we had married. It was great, great relaxed conversation.”

Weir also asked Gates about iBooks 2 for iPad and the digital textbook push Apple announced in a media event last week. While Gates didn’t specifically comment on Apple’s initiatives, he did say that there is a great deal of opportunity for improving the education system in America through technology, given that it hasn’t seen much improvement in the last 30 years.

“The idea of having personalized learning is now enabled by a lot of innovation on the Internet,” he said. “Having good classes, having the teacher be able to look at where their students stand — we’re going to have technology on our side. It’s early days.”

AppleInsider