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.
According to DigiTimes, which admittedly has quite a mixed record on Apple rumors, manufacturers in Apple’s supply chain have begun delivering parts and components for the next generation iPad. From this information, DigiTimes believes that the next iPad will be available in 3-4 months (aligning with March or April next year), with iPad 2 component supply beginning to wind down now.
OEM production of iPad 2 will remain high at 14-15 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 but decline to 4-5 million units in the first quarter of 2012, paving the way for the launch of the new iPads, the sources noted.
Furthermore, the Chinese Commercial Times reports that Foxconn will begin production of the next-generation iPad in January, with production volume ramping up in February. It is expected that production of the next iPad will reach 9.5-9.8 million units in the first quarter of 2012.
According to 9to5 Mac, supply for all current MacBook Pro models are constrained in anticipation of an imminent refresh. They claim that new part numbers have appeared in Apple’s inventory system for all three MacBook Pro sizes. The new model numbers are K90IA for the updated 13 inch model, K91A for the 15 inch and K92A for the 17 inch.
These model numbers, combined with last month’s rumour of a refresh, suggest that these models will be just a minor specification bump – rather than the rumoured redesign of the MacBook Pro. MacRumors reported earlier this year that such a redesign will probably debut sometime after Intel’s Ivy Bridge line of processors is released.
Sony Pictures is apparently “in the process” of making a large offer for the feature movie rights of the upcoming biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, according to Mike Fleming of Deadline. The move isn’t surprising, and Sony has recent history of turning business success books into successful drama movies in The Social Network and Moneyball.
I’m hearing the deal is $1 million against $3 million and that Mark Gordon will be the biopic’s producer. But this will be an MG360 project, which is the movie production partnership between Gordon and Management 360.
The release of Walter Isaacson’s authorised biography of Steve Jobs was this week moved forward to October 24th after Steve Jobs passed away this past Wednesday. Based on over 40 interviews and over 100 conversations with friends, family and competitors, the biography covers 448 pages. Walter Isaacson’s previous biographies include those of Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger and Benjamin Franklin.
The above photo, taken by Gizmodo Brazil, is supposedly a new iPhone SKU taken from a Foxconn factory in Brazil. Shown on a quality control form, these iPhone parts are for a model N90A iPhone – a new model that does not currently exists.
Our Brazilian brothers, Gizmodo.com.br, got their hot little hands on a few photos of one a new iPhone, to be announced next week. How? Well, there’s a Foxconn factory in Brazil, and Pedro & co got one of their men inside. Inside, they found a new-SKU iPhone that looks just like the old iPhone 4.
A report from earlier this week noted that an iPhone with the codename N90A had appeared in Apple’s internal inventory system. Because the current codename for the iPhone 4 is N90 it is believed that this new SKU would represent an iPhone 4 with minor changes — likely becoming the cheaper iPhone available with 8 GB of storage at a lower cost.
[Translation of key sections of the above image, from Mike in the comments below]
JULGAMENTO DO LOTE means something like BATCH EVALUATION RESULT, certainly from quality control. APPROVADO and REPROVADO means APPROVED and REPROVED and the current batch was reproved with the indication “lentes manchadas” (stained lenses), written in blue over the REPROVADO box.
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.