Apple‘s share price fell right after CEO Tim Cook closed today’s new product event without a major surprise such as an update to the Apple TV or an iWatch. We’ll see whether investors warm to the gadgets as they digest the details. As expected, the company upgraded its iPad line: The new iPad Air tablet weighs 1 pound (down from 1.4 pounds) and is 7.5 mm thick (down 2 mm). The 16 GB Wi-Fi version with a Retina display will cost $499; a version that handles cell phone connections will cost $629. They’ll have the A7 chip, also in the iPhone 5S and ship beginning November 1. They’ll come in silver, white, black and “space gray.” The company will keep its iPad 2 which will cost $399. As for the iPad Mini, it will have a Retina display and A7 chip and a battery that’s supposed to last 10 hours. It will be available sometime next month for $399. No touch ID — which some expected to see. The original iPad Mini will remain in the line up for $299.
The company is stuffing its zippiest technology into a new, high-end Mac Pro computer that will cost $2,999 and be available by year end. With its ability to handle real-time 4K video editing, “it will change the way I make movies,” director-producer … Read More »
Advertising and network execs say that they’ve already waited too long for the ratings colossus to figure out how to measure the growing number of people who watch TV shows on smartphones and tablets. No surprise, then, that many clients — and investors — are eager to hear the details next week when, according to the Wall Street Journal and Variety, Nielsen will disclose plans to start measuring mobile viewing in fall 2014. Some answers may depend on Nielsen’s negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission to win its approval for the company’s $1.26B deal to buy Arbitron. Nielsen said that Arbitron has assets that could help with out-of-home measurements, including the Portable People Meter that enables networks led by ESPN to account for viewers who aren’t planted in front of the living room TV. Read More »
Apple would have had to stop importing and selling the iPad 1 and 2 for AT&T and the iPhone 4 for AT&T and T-Mobile, among other products, if U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hadn’t stepped in today to veto a U.S. International Trade Commission ban on them. The ITC ruled on June 4 that Apple had infringed on Samsung patents dealing with 3G transmissions. It would have taken effect after a 60-day waiting period if the Obama administration didn’t overturn it. Froman did so, he said, based on the order’s impact on “competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.” He added, though, that the veto “is not an endorsement or a criticism” of the ITC. It also leaves open the opportunity for Samsung to “continue to pursue its rights through the courts.” This is one of several patent infringement charges that Apple and Samsung have flung at each other. Apple had argued that the patents in this case governed essential services, which would require Samsung to license them on generous terms. Apple praised the administration for “standing up for innovation in this landmark case,” CNBC reports. Samsung says it was disappointed with the decision adding that it “has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.”
EXCLUSIVE: Producer Neal Edelstein (Mulholland Dr., The Ring, The Invisible) and his Hooked Digital Media partners have their sights on the future of content consumption. They’re banking on it moving to the micro-screen. Their new digital production shingle will focus solely on making original filmed content designed to be viewed on tablet and mobile devices. The first app, the ghost story Haunting Melissa, launches this spring. Edelstein in 1997 formed The Picture Factory with David Lynch before branching off with his own Macari/Edelstein Filmed Entertainment with Mike Macari. He’ll serve as President of the “next-generation production company”. Aboard as advisors are Myspace co-founder Aber Whitcomb and investor Kevin Washington. “We are not taking movies and stuffing them inside an app; we are crafting stories that embrace app technology and the viewing habits of the new generation of consumers”, Edelstein said in a statement. “Delivery direct to tablet and mobile devices is going to be the most personal form of storytelling”.
They’ll have twice the maximum space of the current fourth-generation iPads, but they’re not for bargain hunters: The Wi-Fi-only model of the new 128GB iPad will carry a suggested retail price of $799, while the ones that also handle cellular connections will go for $929. They’ll be available next Tuesday at Apple‘s online and bricks-and-mortar outlets. The company’s targeting businesses that need extra storage to handle memory-intensive applications and files including 3D CAD, X-rays, film and music editing, and blueprints. The additional memory means that “enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs,” Apple SVP Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller says. Apple’s unusual decision to upgrade the iPad midway though its life cycle has led to some speculation that the company will wait longer than expected to introduce a fifth-generation iPad. The current model was unveiled in October. But investors appear to like the move: Apple shares — which are down nearly 35% since mid-September — are up 1.2% in early trading while the overall market is flat.
That’s a real possibility, and a potential milestone for a three-month period during which the consumer electronics company has declined more than 28% from its 52-week high of $705. Apple‘s down about 1% in early trading today to $506, the lowest it’s been since February. Investors fear that iPhone 5 sales are short of expectations following reports, including several last week, that Apple has cut orders from its suppliers. That’s one reason Citi just downgraded Apple to “neutral” from “buy,” and cut the price target to $575 from $675. Although the reports from suppliers are “inconclusive,” analyst Glen Yeung says that they “bring into question the strength of iPhone 5 and refocus investors onto risks in the Apple story.” The company tried to reassure the market today, disclosing that it has sold more than 2M iPhone 5s in China in the three days after its December 14 launch there. “iPhone 5 will be available in more than 100 countries by the end of December, making it the fastest iPhone rollout ever,” it says. Read More »
I suspect that Apple would have said something if it sold 1.5M or more iPad Minis. That was the top of the widely cited target range for sales that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster gave last week ahead of the first weekend when consumers could snap up one of the new tablets with the 8-inch screens. Apple says today that it sold 3M iPads, including its new fourth-generation full-sized model. That’s “double the previous first weekend milestone of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models sold for the third generation iPad in March,” Apple says. It adds that the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of its iPads will be available in a few weeks in the U.S. before going global. Still, CEO Tim Cook says that Apple “set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We’re working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand.” Apple shares are up less than 1% in mid-day trading, and down 8.4% since October 23 when the iPad Mini was introduced.
UPDATED:Apple‘s new iPad Mini enters the ring against small-sized tablets including Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. But it doesn’t appear to deliver a knock-out punch. Indeed, the price of Apple shares fell during the roll-out presentation, and are down about 2% in mid-afternoon trading. Apple says the iPad Mini’s 7.9-inch screen compares to the 9.7 inch screen for its larger iPads. The company says the total screen area is 35% larger than the 7-inch screen rivals. But iPad Mini’s screen resolution is 1024 X 768 — which means it’s not as sharp as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. The iPad Mini is 7.2 mm thick, about 25% thinner than the latest iPad. It weights 0.68 pounds. All of the software for the iPad will work on the Mini, unchanged. The iPad Mini has an A5 processor, FaceTime HD camera in front and 5MP iSight camera in back. Beginning November 2, models with 16 GB of storage and communicate via WiFi will sell for $329 (a higher price than the Google and Amazon competitors) with 32GB versions for $429 and 64 GB $529. Two weeks later, iPad Minis with 4G cellular communications will go for $459, $559 and $659.
Meanwhile Apple may infuriate consumers who bought the new iPad introduced in March: The company just announced a fourth-generation model with a more powerful processor and the new Lightning connector. Price starts at $499 with 16GB of storage. Read More »
Sure looks that way based on the company’s press invitation to an October 23 meeting at San Jose’s California Theater. Per usual, Apple‘s keeping everything secret. But the note says that “We’ve got a little more to show you.” There’ve been countless reports that the company is preparing a version of the iPad that would be cheaper and smaller so it could compete more directly with products such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets, and Google’s Nexus 7. The conventional wisdom is that an iPad Mini would have a screen that’s about 7 or 8 inches vs the iPad’s 9.7 inches, and sell for less than $300. The latest full-sized iPad goes for at least $499 while the iPad 2 sells for $399. Last month, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said that in a visit to supply chain vendors in Asia “one of the key things” he heard was that “a smaller form factor iPad is in advanced stages where it is near ready for volume production.”
Video programmers have been eagerly waiting for technicians to figure out how to present their ads to millions of iPad and iPhone users. And they’ve finally done it. “In the near future, by the end of this month, you will see advertising even on the iOS platform,” Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said today at the Goldman Sachs Annual Communicopia Conference. Indeed, ads are already up on streams of ESPNU. That will be followed by ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. “We have already had advertising in the desktop and PC (and) on the Android phones,” Rasulo says. “Now we will have it on the iOS platform as well.” That will result in “the monetization that we always envisioned.” There’s still an open question about when Nielsen will be able to count mobile viewers, a key to determining how much advertisers should pay. Rasulo says he expects that to be resolved “in the near future.”
iPhone and iPad owners who like to watch YouTube videos may soon have to deal with commercials. Apple said today that its license to carry the YouTube app has expired, which means it won’t come pre-loaded with iPhones and iPads. Not to worry: Google is developing a new YouTube app that will available in the App Store — and videos can still be viewed within the Safari browser. But the change could affect the mobile YouTube experience, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says. He believes that in their original 2007 carriage deal, Apple agreed to give YouTube a prominent place on its devices’ home screens as long as Google didn’t include ads. “With consumers shifting to mobile devices at an increasingly rapid rate and Google investing serious dollars in higher quality programming for the YouTube platform…we believe Google could no longer allow its YouTube app on iPhones and iPads to go without advertising,” Greenfield says. Unlike other companies such as Facebook that are struggling to find a compelling way to integrate commercials and content on a mobile device, he adds that spots on YouTube should command “very compelling” prices.
This is one of the most interesting stories circulating before the opening today in San Francisco of the Google I/O conference for developers. It seems the search giant will pose a more direct challenge to Amazon’s Kindle Fire than to Apple’s iPad: Google and computer maker Asus will announce a 7-inch tablet that will sell for about $200, Bloomberg reports. The device will run the latest version of the Android operating system, code-named Jellybean. Microsoft beat Google to the punch last week, announcing its own Windows-based tablets — Surface and Surface Pro — each with a more iPad-like 10.6-inch screen. Meanwhile, Amazon is gearing up to launch a revamped Kindle Fire at the end of July, CNET says. Among the changes: it likely will have a camera and a physical volume-control button.
The business media rumor mill can be put to rest. Microsoft made it official today with the unveiling of its Microsoft Surface Windows 8 tablet. Windows president Steve Sinofsky said today at a media gathering in Los Angeles that the specs include a 10.6-inch widescreen display custom-designed for Surface. “Surface works great for entertainment,” Sinofsky said. Will it be successful and a potent challenger to rival Apple’s iPad? It’s a big shift for Microsoft, which has focused on workplace software — the exception being its successful Xbox gaming console. It’s also previously seen failures selling its own branded hardware, i.e., its Zune music players. Regardless, the move would be a page-turner for the company and a clear follow in Apple’s footsteps in controlling both hardware and software for its devices. Microsoft has traditionally let its customers — such as Dell and HP — handle design and marketing of its hardware.
Tablet computer devices like Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook have replaced laptop and desktop computers as the preferred second-screen alternate to television for watching full-length TV, according to the results of a study commissioned by Viacom. Titled “Tapping Into Tabletomics” and surveying 2,500 avid tablet users in Los Angeles and New York between the ages of 8-54, the study aimed to determine what the arrival of tablets would mean for users’ behavior and feelings about the dual-screen TV experience. In just the few years that tablets have been in wide use, they have had a profound impact on television viewing, with use of desktop computers and smartphones showing the most pronounced decline. Digging deeper into the data, the survey found that comedy and music programming was especially popular on computers, including tablets, while reality, dramas, sci-fi and sports remain most popular on traditional TVs. But the survey also showed that tablets aren’t about to dislodge TVs as the preferred way to watch programming. TV won every time when when participants were asked about everything from sound/picture quality to watching current episodes to ease-of-use.
Apple-mania will fade at some point. But not yet. The company’s stock was up 2.7% today to close at $601.10 — its highest closing price ever, and up 81.8% over the last 12 months. Much of today’s bump can be attributed to the announcement this morning that the company will spend $45B over the next three years paying dividends and repurchasing its stock. But Wall Street may send Apple shares even higher tomorrow following the company’s announcement, after the closing bell, that it sold 3M of the new iPads on their first weekend on the shelves. That’s “the strongest iPad launch yet,” says SVP of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller. Indeed, it’s three times more than the iPad 2 sold in its opening weekend last year. The momentum could continue next weekend as the company introduces the revamped tablet computer to 24 additional countries including Austria, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. The only hitch for Apple? It’s making a smaller profit on the new iPad: It costs $364.35 to make the new model with 32 GB of memory and 4G connectivity that sells for $729, research firm iSuppli says. The model of the iPad 2 with the same amount of memory and 3G connectivity cost $335 to make.
The watch is on after shares this morning briefly crossed that milestone marker, setting a new high for Apple. Although the company’s market value is up more than 46% so far in 2012, several analysts say they still expect it to grow with the apparent enthusiasm for the new iPad — which goes on sale tomorrow. At least five analysts have raised their forecasts this week; about 52 rate the stock a “buy,” while three rate it a “hold,” and two consider it a “sell.” Meanwhile, gadget reviewers generally applauded the new iPad which boasts a sharper screen, 4G connectivity, an improved camera, and a microphone to handle voice commands — although some say the improvements aren’t sufficient for iPad 2 owners to upgrade. “If you’re a tablet newbie, there’s no better choice on the market than an iPad, provided — and this is a pretty big if — price isn’t an issue and you don’t want a tablet that would fit in your pocket, such as the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire,” USA Today’s Ed Baig says. (The cheapest new iPad, with 16 gb of memory and no 4G, costs $499.) Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg says that since 2010 “iPad has been the best tablet on the planet” and with the updates “it still holds that crown.” And web site CNET observes that Apple “has not made its billions by disappointing customers. Odds are, you’re going to like … Read More »
It could be a fascinating anti-trust case according the details reported by The Wall Street Journal. The paper says that the Justice Department is gearing up to sue Apple and five top publishers — Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin Group, Macmillan, and HarperCollins — for conspiring to fix e-book prices around 2010 when the tech company introduced its iPad. The group allegedly wanted to end Amazon’s practice of selling e-books for a deeply discounted $9.99, part of the company’s strategy to promote sales of its Kindle e-readers. Hoping to loosen Amazon’s grip on the market, and help its new iPad, Apple encouraged publishers to stop selling books wholesale — which enabled retailers to set the selling price– and to adopt a so-called “agency model.” That empowers publishers to set the sales price, and pay retailers a fee of about 30%. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he told publishers “the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want any way.” He added that Read More »
We may have to wait for Apple to unveil its much-rumored and allegedly revolutionary television set, or even the next iteration of the iPhone, in order to see how the tech giant hopes to rock the infotainment world. That’s because, at first glance, Hollywood execs and analysts say that the new iPad is virtually a non-event: It says more about Apple’s desire to protect its share of tablet sales from rivals including Amazon and Samsung — or upcoming devices built around Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system — than it does about any plan to shake up media. “There’s nothing game-changing” about it, says one Hollywood exec. To be sure, people say that iPad’s new HD screen and 4G broadband should improve the video-watching experience for consumers. The enhancements also will help iPad to remain the supplemental device of choice. “It will accelerate the development of the dual screen world, and the end of the set-top box” as pay TV providers try to shift TV control capabilities to tablets, says independent analyst Chris Dixon. But the updated tablet is still dinged as being Read More »