The New York Times’ Nick Bilton and Evelyn Rusli are tonight reporting that Apple is considering an investment in Twitter to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Whilst the companies are not currently in negotiations and there is no guarantee that the two would come to an agreement, earlier talks do suggest “they may form a stronger partnership”.
As the New York Times report explains, the deal would be one of Tim Cook’s “most important strategic decisions as chief executive” because of intensifying competition from Google and Facebook and the fact that Apple has struggled in the past with social. It would be a unique move for Apple, which typically buys a small start-up and absorbs it into the company rather than investing in a company.
The turf wars have fortified alliances and pushed companies to choose sides. Apple’s dealings with Twitter, for instance, began after its relationship with Facebook soured. In 2010, the company was eager to integrate its Ping service with Facebook, but discussions broke down. Mr. Jobs, the Apple chief executive who died last year, told the technology news site AllThingsD that Facebook had demanded “onerous terms that we could not agree to.”
Apple, which had spent months preparing to hook Facebook into iOS, its mobile operating system, swiftly reworked it for Twitter. One former Twitter employee, who described Twitter as the “lucky mistress” in this chain of events, said the partnership was essentially “handed to Twitter on a silver platter.” Ping, in the end, never caught on with users.
One big question to be resolved is whether Twitter would want a large investment from Apple. Earlier this year, chief executive Dick Costolo said Twitter had “truckloads of money in the bank”. At the same time though, Costolo also recently said in an interview that “[Apple] is a great partner, we think of them as a company that our company looks up to”.
The relationship with Apple is so prized at Twitter that the company assigned a vice president, Kevin Thau, to work with Apple full time, according to an Apple employee who asked not to be named.
In a report today, Bloomberg claims that Apple is set to overhaul iTunes by the end of the year by more closely integrating iCloud support and adding improved sharing features. Bloomberg is light on exactly what deeper iCloud support will entail, focusing instead on the fact that Apple wants to make it easier for users to manage and organise all their libraries of music, videos and applications. It’s also insinuated that Apple may yet carve more features out of iTunes and into separate apps, like the new Podcasts app that Apple released earlier this week.
The other half of this overhaul relates to how users find new content on the multitude of content stores that Apple runs. According to Bloomberg’s sources, this will entail making it easier to share songs and even allowing “users to listen to a song sent to them from a friend for free”. A big part of the improved sharing will no doubt be the baked in Twitter and Facebook sharing options that Apple showed off in their iOS 6 preview at WWDC. The new sharing features are also likely to replace Ping, which according to a report by John Paczkowski of AllThingsD earlier this month, is set to be removed from the next major version of iTunes.
Bloomberg refutes suggestions that Apple will offer a music subscription service like rdio or Spotify, but notes that music labels have been urging Apple to do so.
A report today in The Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple is getting closer to launching a product that will represent the company’s vision for the future of TV. Sources have told the WSJ that Apple executives have met with media executives at several large media companies in recent weeks.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, and the other Apple executives discussed their vision for the future of TV, outlining ways their technology could “recognise users across phones, tablets and TVs”. The WSJ also noted that in at least one meeting, Apple executives also described technology that could respond to a users voice or movements to search for a show or change channels. Apple did not go into specifics about what its plans were during the meetings, staying “vague” and not making any proposals to license shows for any new “Apple TV”.
Still, the talks—some of which were made at the request of media companies seeking an update on Apple’s plans—suggest that Apple’s TV strategy is advancing.
What Apple did discuss was about new ways that a user could stream content to multiple devices, allowing them to start watching a video on a TV and then move to another device, with that user’s pause point being synced with that other device such as a smartphone.
It’s been known that Apple and Facebook have had a strenuous relationship over the past year and a half or so – with the debacle of iTunes Ping being the key event known to the public over which the companies clashed. Mashable has a nice scoop today that delves deeper into the rift between the two companies and how things seemed to have taken a positive turn in recent months.
According to Mashable’s sources, Apple approached Facebook over fully integrating Facebook into iOS 4 as well as making their own Facebook app — apparently “lacking confidence in Facebook’s ability to build a great application”. Disagreements arose and negotiations broke down, Apple canned most of the Facebook integration, except Ping which they didn’t fully inform Facebook of — this then led to Facebook banning Apple from the APIs soon after it launched.
Three months ago Steve Jobs supposedly visited Facebook to talk with Mark Zuckerberg about a Facebook iPad app. Jobs learnt that Facebook was working with HP to release a native webOS app and according to Mashable’s sources, Jobs was furious about it. Zuckerberg tried to appease Jobs by pulling the app, but Jon Rubenstien of HP’s webOS division refused. Nonetheless the app wasn’t perfect when released and was restricted because Facebook pulled certain APIs, just as it had done with Ping in the previous year.
Was Facebook playing both sides? Absolutely, says a source close to HP. Facebook was made aware of the application and device integrations. The company knew what was coming, changed its tune right before release — and only did so to appease Apple. For its part, HP was furious. It had hoped the Facebook application would help differentiate the TouchPad from other tablets on the market.
Since then it appears Facebook and Apple have mended their relationship. As reported earlier this week from MG Siegler of TechCrunch, Apple and Facebook have been working together on a Facebook iPad app and on an HTML5 web app platform (Project Spartan) and could well be sharing the stage at Tuesday’s iPhone event to launch the products. Just as Siegler mentioned, Mashable notes that this collaboration seems to stem from the fact that they both share a common enemy: Google.
Be sure to jump over to Mashable and read their full article, they mention other interesting snippets of information and do a great job of putting together the juicy jigsaw puzzle that is the Facebook and Apple relationship.
Back in July TechCrunch revealed that Facebook had already developed an iPad app that was live inside the iPhone app. It seemed feature complete, which has confused many as to why Facebook has taken so long to launch it — they didn’t even launch it at last week’s f8 conference. If MG Siegler of TechCrunch is correct (which he has been for many Facebook scoops this year), it has been waiting on another of Facebook’s Project Spartan and various negotiations with Apple – as was reported this week.
Earlier today another TechCrunch writer, Alexia Tsotsis found some screenshots of Project Spartan (see above) which MG Siegler believes to be the real thing. He writes this morning that “the planets are aligning” and that the Facebook iPad app and Project Spartan (of which both have seen delays and delayed each other) will launch next week.
According to him Apple has been involved with both projects and that the two companies have been collaborating on both projects. His sources note that the two Facebook projects may launch at next week’s Apple event (Mashable also suggests this), potentially as part of a demonstration that shows off improved HTML5 support on iOS. But if that arrangement falls through Facebook will apparently reveal the two projects during a Monday event.
But make no mistake, the relationship between the two companies is tenuous at best. Both know that they’d probably be better of working together, but both also believe that they don’t actually need each other. Hence, the dancing we’ve been seeing and hearing about. The two are frenemies. But the launch of Google+ has made the common enemy very clear…
Project Spartan is an HTML5-based development and distribution platform that’s being built with Mobile Safari for iOS in mind. When MG Siegler first posted about Project Spartan in mid-June, he described the purpose of it as:
Facebook will never admit this, but those familiar with the project believe the intention is very clear: to use Apple’s own devices against them to break the stranglehold they have on mobile app distribution. With nearly 700 million users, Facebook is certainly in the position to challenge the almighty App Store distribution mechanism. But they need to be able to do so on Apple’s devices which make up a key chunk of the market.
Next week’s iPhone event on October 4th is still somewhat of a mystery, with rumors going round and round in circles as to whether Apple will launch a brand new iPhone 5, a slightly upgraded iPhone “4S” or perhaps both. 9to5 Mac claims to have some information on new products that have turned up inside Apple’s internal inventory system. According to their source, there are now three new iPod touch models under the codename N81A, which 9to5 Mac speculates could represent a white variation of the device.
Since there are only new three iPod touch models - at this time – it’s likely that the black models won’t be updated. This also likely means the storage capacities will stay at their current 8GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities.
What has also appeared is two new iPhone SKUs that are marked as tweaked iPhone 4s. Codenamed N90A (the current iPhone 4 is N90), this could represent a new 8GB version. In previous iOS SDK releases there has been reference to an iPhone with the codename of N94, this has not yet appeared in the inventory. As noted below such a codename would be given to a device with vastly different features and large improvements – rather than just a new white version or a new storage capacity model.
It is very possible that the two SKUs mean black and white models, but that is unconfirmed. We don’t think Apple’s next-generation iPhone – coming next week- would be labeled as an N90A – as it includes major internal hardware upgrades that would typically constitute a new codename.
If you’d like a recap of all the iPhone 5 rumor shenanigans that have occurred over this past year, be sure to have a read of our recap of the more reputable rumors that have been shared around.
Apple could be about retire the iPod classic and iPod shuffle as part of a “product transition” that was hinted at by Apple in their last earnings call. The news comes from TUAW who seem reasonably confident that at some point this year Apple will axe the two devices — likely keeping the iPod nano and iPod touch, for now.
To back up their source’s information they cite a recent report from CNet in which it was noted that the iPods now only make up for 8% of Apple’s total revenue. As the above graph shows, iPod sales have also been stagnant or falling over the last few quarters and although Apple doesn’t break these figures down model by model, its believed the iPod touch is what has held iPod sales up. Interestingly the iPod’s 10 year anniversary is coming up soon on October 24th and as CNet said it would be a nice for Apple to say “It had a great run, now go buy an iPhone”.
The shuffle is basically the same form factor as the nano, minus a screen. The classic uses a platter-based hard drive, while Apple is largely transitioning to flash-based memory solutions. The shuffle’s lack of a screen has been an issue since it first appeared as a memory stick with music playback functions. If Apple killed these off, all of its iPods would have touchscreens, and something tells me it wants it that way.
Concluding their report, TUAW notes that their source is “NOT an analyst” and that Apple’s plans are to consolidate the iPod line into just the nano (which would become Apple’s lowest-end iPod) and the touch. The iPod touch would become the premium iPod, with few changes except the availability of a white version.
According to MacRumors, Apple is currently working on the ability to merge multiple Apple IDs into a single ID. Currently those who have (for whatever reason) multiple Apple IDs are unable to merge them, even when contacting Apple support directly.
In an article posted yesterday however, it is revealed that a MacRumors reader had emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook and promptly received a phone call from an Apple executive relations employee regarding the issue. According to their account, the employee contacted the team responsible who said that they were aware of the issue and were concerned with iCloud exacerbating the problem. It was noted by the executive relations employee that they are working on it and in the meantime to pick a single account to use for all future purchases.
In an update to their article, MacRumors notes that a second reader has come forward, noting that they received a similar response over the issue. This prompt reaction by Tim Cook in responding to email from a customer is not his first and is consistent with his dedication to work.
Bilton’s suggestions are by-and-large consistent with most frequent of past rumors regarding the iPhone 5. Noting this, 9to5 Mac last night reported that they have heard that there will be two different iPhone models coming next month – a low-end, iPhone 4 look-alike and the new iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 itself is a sight to behold, we’ve been told. It is impossibly light, yet much firmer than Samsung Galaxy phones which are backed in plastic. The camera rivals point and shoot cameras and will be a major marketing point for this device.
There isn’t anything inherently unique in their report either, claiming that Apple’s lower-end iPhone will be similar to the current iPhone 4 whilst the iPhone 5 will be tear-drop shaped, which has been claimed before. However they do say that this lower-end iPhone (the iPhone 4S if you will), is already being produced in high quantities, with 10 million expected on launch day. The iPhone 5 though, is apparently seeing “continued design and production delays, at least on one assembly line” with 9to5 Mac speculating there could be slight delays and shortages until 2012.