The biggest news for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and its shareholders last week was the debut of the iPhone in China. On Friday, China Mobile, the world's largest carrier with over 750 million subscribers, began selling the iPhone 5c and 5s. Pre-orders for the devices began in December and reached 1 million. Analysts expect China Mobile to sell anywhere from 10 million to 15 million iPhones this year. You can read more about this here.
The 2013 Q4 numbers also came in last week and, according to market research company NPD Group, Apple saw significant gains. Apple's market share grew from 35% in Q4 2012 to 42% in Q4 2013. NPD also found that smart phone ownership is growing, claiming six out of ten phones, up from 52% last year. As would be
Apple announced today that its 2013 App Store sales topped a staggering $10 billion, with $1 billion coming in December alone. That number reflects the nearly 3 billion apps that iOS users downloaded over the course of the month, making it the App Store's most successful month ever.
Today's press release also noted that app developers have earned in the neighborhood of $15 billion since the App Store's inception. Unsurprisingly, some of the most popular apps of the year included Candy Crush Saga, Puzzles & Dragons, Minecraft, QuizUp and Clumsy Ninja. Some came as surprise successes - Ellen DeGeneres' Heads Up, ProtoGeo’s Moves, Simon Filip’s Afterlight and Kevin
There are a lot of signs that suggest the iPhone 5c isn’t selling as well as Apple expected. First of all, the "unapologetically plastic" phone has been been readily available since its launch. iPhone 5s shipping times are currently estimated at two to three weeks, while the iPhone 5c is shipping within 24 hours. It also seems like a lot of third party retailers can't wait to give the phone away. Large retail chains such as Best Buy and Walmart are currently in the middle of an iPhone 5c price race to see who can offer the handset for cheaper. There have also been reports that all the major carriers have a lot of unsold iPhone 5c stock sitting around.
Top analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo have also begun slashing their iPhone 5c sale estimates. Business Insider reported on Friday that Kuo "is now estimating Apple shipped 11.4 million 5c units in the September quarter, a 33% drop from his original estimate." Kuo expects "iPhone 5c sales to be just 10.4 million units for the December quarter, a 10% sequential drop."
After much confusion surrounding the final season of Breaking Bad, Apple began sending out emails offering Season Pass buyers a refund. Here's the email:
We apologize for any confusion the naming of “Season 5″ and “The Final Season” of Breaking Bad might have caused you. While the names of the seasons and episodes associated with them were not chosen by iTunes, we’d like to offer you “The Final Season” on us by providing you with the iTunes code below in the amount of $22.99. This credit can also be used for any other content on the iTunes Store. Thank you for your purchase.
The confusion began when AMC split the final season into two parts, and Apple titled the first 8 episodes as "Season 5″. This led iTunes users to believe they were buying a Season Pass to all 16 episodes for $21.99, when it reality it only included the first half of the final season. Apple's second mistake was not removing their boilerplate text that promised: “This Season Pass includes all current and future episodes of Breaking Bad, Season 5.”
The Wall Street Journal reports rumors are once again surfacing that Apple is considering plans to introduce iPhones with screens between 4.8 and 6 inches, a significant increase from the current standard of 4 inches. These “phablets” would be a cross between a phone and the larger sized tablets already on the market.
While this is not something Apple is planning to announce this coming Tuesday, insiders are saying it is being considered as the company seeks new opportunities for expansion. The size increase would be the first since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.
iPhone owners can now trade in their old devices at Apple retail stores across the US. Officially the iPhone Reuse and Recycling Program, Apple's offering gives customers up to $280 for a used device, as long as they leave the store with a new two-year contract for a new iPhone. The credit comes in the form of a gift card, which must be used towards a new iPhone.
Of course, any value left over on the card can be spent on merchandise or accessories at the Apple store. Customers must be deemed eligible for an upgrade by their wireless carrier to make use of the trade-in program. According to CNBC, smartphone trade in programs have become the hottest area of all smartphone transactions this year.
After revamping its App Store Review guidelines with new rules on children’s applications, Apple emailed developers with additional details on its new iTunes "Kids" category. Apple originally previewed the new category for children at WWDC in June. The new section "provides parents with a place on the App Store to find age-appropriate apps for children," according to the email sent out by Apple. The letter also breaks down the age subcategories as 5 & under, 6-to-8, and 9-to-11.
Apple has revamped the App Store a few times this year to make it more parent and school friendly. In April, the company made app age ratings more visible, and added a pop-up warning to all 17+ rated content. Apple also created a new system for "educational institutions" to add individual accounts for children under the age of 13.
Apple has rolled out its second iOS 7 beta after giving its developer center a major overhaul last week. iOS 7 beta 5 is now available as an OTA update for registered developers. The last release brought several bug fixes plus interface and performance tweaks to the OS. Notable changes included more proof that Apple could be adding an iPhone fingerprint scanner, and the addition of a less confusing Lock screen. This is also believed to be the last beta Apple will release before they launch the final version in September.
iOS 7 will not only add a host of new features like iTunes Radio, but it will also completely change the look and feel of all supported iOS devices. Apple's all-new design promises to deliver a whole new experience for iOS users. It will be interesting to see the general public's reaction when it's released later this year.
iMessage Spam, we all get it, and we all think it is annoying. Luckily Apple is tired of it too, and has established a way for iPhone users to report it. iPhone owners can now take a screenshot of unwanted spam, and email them to email@example.com. You must include the full email address or phone number of the spammer, and the date and time that you received the message. It's unknown what Apple plans to do with the information, but hopefully they're planning to do something to slow down the amount of iMessage spam iPhone owners receive.
Apple is also adding the ability to block unwanted callers with iOS 7. Users will be able to add specific contacts to a "Block Contact" list after the new firmware is released. Previously you needed a jailbroken device to block unwanted calls.
Here's Apple's original response:
"We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”