Vendor News

Apple Preps Ultra Accessory Connector?

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Apple Preps Ultra Accessory Connector?

According to 9to5Mac Apple is working on a new kind of iDevice connector-- the "Ultra Accessory Connector," (UAC) reportedly a new application for an old 8-pin plug.

Apparently released in developer preview form through the Made-for-iPhone (MFi) licensing program, the UAC connector is small connector measuring 2.05mm x 4.85mm, making it slightly thinner than USB-C and nearly half as wide as USB-C and Lightning. It is essentially identical to the ultra-mini USB connectors found in proprietary cables bundled with devices such as Nikon cameras (pictured).

But what use will be the use of UAC plugs? As an intermediary, mainly. The unnamed 9to5Mac sources say UAC is not be a Lightning replacement. Instead it provides cross-compatibility between multiple connector types. Thus, users can swap between Lightning-to-UAC and USB-to-UAC cables with the same pair of headphones, with UAC allowing device firmware to juggle between connectors on the fly.

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EC Investigates CE Vendors in Antitrust Probe

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EC Investigates CE Vendors in Antitrust Probe

The European Commission (EC) launches an investigation to determine whether Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer are manipulating online retail prices.

According to the press release, the companies are accused of breaking EU competition rules by stopping online retailers from setting own prices for "widely used" CE products such as notebooks, hi-fi products and household appliances. Making the situation worse is pricing software automatically adjusts retail prices to those of the leading competition, bringing a wider impact to overall online prices for CE products.

Philips says a preliminary probe has been going on since 2013, and it is "[continuing] to engage and cooperate fully with the European Commission."

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iPhone 7 Brings Apple Growth Back

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iPhone 7 Brings Apple Growth Back

iPhone sales see a return to growth on a record holiday 2016 quarter (ending 31 December 2016)-- the iPhone 7 leads to sales of 78.3 million, a 5% increase over the same period last year.

Since iPhone sales are up, Apple financials are also back on the positive track. The company reports all-time record quarterly revenues of $78.4 billion, with international sales accounting for 64% of the sum. It also managed to exceed Wall Street expectations of $77.4bn in revenue.

“We’re thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way. We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch,” CEO Tim Cook says. “Revenue from Services grew strongly over last year, led by record customer activity on the App Store, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”

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Apple Files $1bn Suit Against Qualcomm

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Apple Files $1bn Suit Against Qualcomm

Apple accuses Qualcomm of employing extortion, price-gouging and other monopolistic practices-- and as a result the iPhone maker is filing a $1 billion lawsuit against the semiconductor giant.

The lawsuit is filed in US District Court for the Southern district of California, and claims Qualcomm overcharges for chips and refuses to pay $1bn in promised rebates on "exclusivity or de facto exclusivity from Apple." It adds Qualcomm withheld the rebates because Apple is in discussions with the S. Korean antitrust regulator, the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

"If that were not enough, Qualcomm then attempted to extort Apple into changing its responses and providing false information to the KFTC in exchange for Qualcomm's release of those payments to Apple. Apple refused," the lawsuit reads.

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Apple, TV Show Producer?

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Apple, TV Show Producer?

Apple sets to rival the likes of Netflix and HBO, the Wall Street Journal reports-- the iPhone maker apparently plans to start producing original TV series and possibly even movies.

The WSJ adds such content will be available by end 2017 via Apple Music. As to the genres of such shows, unnamed sources point out HBO's Westworld and Netflix's Stranger Things as comparisons, and say they "don't have any particular relationship to music."

Mind, Apple already confirmed it is working on video content, mind-- last year it announced its music streaming service will be hosting a season of Carpool Karaoke and Vital Signs, a drama starring Beats co-founder turned Apple exec Dr. Dre.

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Nikkei: Apple Cuts iPhone Production?

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Nikkei: Apple Cuts iPhone Production?

Apple faces slower-than-expected iPhone sales on Q1 2017, Nikkei reports-- so much so the company sets to cut production of both iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus by around 10%.

However, in a perhaps confusing state of events, camera sensor shortages have led to Apple failing to meet demand for the iPhone Plus, since the oversized smartphone "remains popular." Nikkei adds iPhone 7 sales are strong in its home Japan thanks to the October 2015 launch of Apple Pay in the country. However Japan makes just 10% of the global smartphone market according to IDC, and as such cannot compensate for overall sluggishness.

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Fitbit Confirms Pebble Acquisition

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Fitbit Confirms Pebble Acquisition

Fitbit confirms last week's rumours as it announces the acquisition of former Kickstarter darling Pebble. The deal does not include Pebble products, meaning the company's smartwatch story is officially dead.

Financial details are not available, but the grapevine put the price paid for Pebble to around $40 million, a fraction of its previous estimated worth. After all, in 2015 Citizen offered $740m for the company! As for why Fitbit acquired Pebble, the announcement press release cites an interest in "key personnel" and the software powering Pebble devices, a sentiment echoed by a post on the official Pebble blog.

“With basic wearables getting smarter and smartwatches adding health and fitness capabilities, we see an opportunity to build on our strengths and extend our leadership position in the wearables category,” Fitbit adds. “With this acquisition, we’re well positioned to accelerate the expansion of our platform and ecosystem to make Fitbit a vital part of daily life for a wider set of consumers, as well as build the tools healthcare providers, insurers and employers need to more meaningfully integrate wearable technology into preventative and chronic care.”

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Fitbit to Buy Pebble?

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Fitbit to Buy Pebble?

Kickstarter darling Pebble is reportedly looking for a buyer-- according to The Information rival Fitbit is "near a deal" to acquire the little smartwatch maker that previously could.

Apparently Pebble is going through hard times, as declining sales have lead to a slashed workforce and growing debts. In fact, TechCrunch claims Pebble will go for $34-40 million, a "small mount" described as "barely covering their debts." To think just a year ago the smartwatch maker had reportedly received an offer worth $740 million by Japanese watch maker Citizen!

In the beginning Pebble was a crowdfunding success story-- on May 2012 its first smartwatch, the Pebble ePaper Watch, made over $10m on a Kickstarter campaign, the highest amount ever raised on the Platform. This year the company returned to Kickstarter to fund the Pebble Time Round, but at the time the company reportedly layed off 40 employees and started looking for investors in order to "stay afloat."

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Apple Pay Debuts in Spain

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Apple Pay Debuts in Spain

A fourth European country gets access to the Apple mobile payment service-- Apple Pay is now live in Spain, with initial support for cards from Banco Santander, Carrefour, Ticket Restaurant and American Express.

Also opening its payment network in the country is Apple Pay partner Mastercard. On launch customers get access to Apple-powered payments in 27 retail outlets, including Bershka, Cepsa, Cortefiel, Media Markt, Repsol, Lidl, Pull & Bear and (obviously) Apple Stores.

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Samsung Buys Harman in $8 Billion Cash Deal

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Samsung Buys Harman in $8 Billion Cash Deal

It's the biggest acquisition in Samsung's history: $8 billion for Harman International in an all cash deal.

And for Samsung it is less about audio/video and much more about automotive electronics.

Harman leads the connected car solutions market, with more than 30 million vehicles equipped with its connected car and audio systems, including embedded infotainment, telematics, connected safety and security.

Approximately 65% of Harman’s $7.0 billion of reported sales during the 12 months ended September 30, 2016 are automotive-related-- and its order backlog for this market at June 30, 2016 was approximately $24 billion.

Upon closing, Harman will operate as a stand-alone Samsung subsidiary, led by Harman’s current management team.

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Apple Irish Datacentre Gets on the Fast Track

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Apple Irish Datacentre Gets on the Fast Track

The long-delayed Apple datacentre in Galway County, Ireland, gets on the legal fast track-- the Irish High Court decides the dispute between Apple and three individuals from the town of Athenry must be resolved within 6 months.

The aforementioned trio filed legal complaints against the datacentre with the Galway County Council, local planning body An Bord Pleanála and the High Court. As a result, the High Court put the dispute on the "commercial list," a dedicated section dealing with cases with more than €1 million at stake.

For the curious, the Galway County centre represents a €850 million investment from the iPhone maker. It consists of 8 facilities on a 500-acre site in Derrydonnell Forest, around 3 miles from Athenry. First announced back in February 2015, together with a similar facility in Denmark, it will find use for the storage of European customer data and help power online services.

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