10 reasons why Apple is to blame for the decline of iPad sales

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It has been a tough slough for Apple’s iPad since the height of its popularity in 2013. Facing its second straight year of negative growth, there isn’t a consensus on why iPad sales have declined. I believe the slump is attributable to a combination of factors.

Apple CEO Tim Cook called the declining iPad sales a “speed bump” last year before the launch of the 2014 models, but we haven’t seen what Apple plans to do to rejuvenate the product. From my point of view, Apple itself has done more to hurt iPad sales than any external factor, such as Microsoft or Google.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s a full explanation of my theory…

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Apple begins releasing the first set of third-party Apple Watch apps

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The Apple Watch is still almost a month away from shipping and 15 days away from being available to preview in Apple Stores, but a select few apps selected by Apple to be available for the Apple Watch have started hitting the App Store today. These app updates that add Apple Watch support include Twitter, Things, Target, Dark Sky, and Sky Guide, and many more apps are continuing to roll out with support. Read more

Here are the new Apple Pay decals for business owners [Gallery]

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Earlier this week, we noted that Apple has opened up a new web portal for business owners to order Apple Pay decals to promote their support of the service. Now, these stickers have begun arriving to those who have ordered. As can be seen in the image gallery below, the decal pack includes a placement guide, multiple stickers, and a tool to apply the stickers. Thanks, Michael.

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Part 2

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As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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Apple Watch launch retail stock to be limited for many models, reservations favored

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If you want to buy the Apple Watch model of your choice at an Apple Store at launch, you should consider pre-ordering online or through an Apple Store reservation, sources have told 9to5Mac. Due in part to the number of different models, Apple Watch inventory at many Apple Stores in the United States will be heavily constrained at launch, with priority given to reservations, meaning that Apple Watch availability for random walk-in purchases on day one will be noticeably tight.

As one source at a flagship Apple Store said, “we’re told to treat launch day as if there will be no walk-in stock.” That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be absolutely zero Apple Watch units to buy at launch if you don’t have a reservation, just that the specific Apple Watch variant a person wants will be far harder to come by at launch than some previous iPhone models.

Of course, inventory will vary depending on the store’s location, including state and country, with China expected to have larger stock allocations. But several sources across the United States are reporting a similar emphasis on the majority of stock being available solely for reservations at launch. Besides the U.S. and China, the Watch will be available in Canada, France, Japan, Germany, and the U.K. at launch.

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Tim Cook reflects on the role of running a post-Steve Jobs Apple as Fortune names him “greatest leader”

Fortune has today named Tim Cook #1 on its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, publishing an extensive profile of the Apple CEO in which he reflects on the lessons he’s learned in the time he’s been running the company.

Taking over from Steve was not, he said, an easy transition, and he gained a new appreciation for the way that the co-founder had shielded him and the rest of the team from public criticism.

What I learned after Steve passed away, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough […] but he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.

Claims that Apple had lost its ability to innovate under Cook’s leadership were, he said, something he had to learn to block out …  Read more

Apple, Google & other large tech companies urge the White House & Congress not to renew the Patriot Act

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Apple is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Apple was joined by AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  Read more

New rumor claims Apple will launch three iPhone models this year, including 4-inch iPhone 6C

A sketchy new rumor from the sometimes-unreliable Digitimes claims that Apple will be releasing three new iPhone models this year. While many Apple watchers are expecting to see the release of two new “S” models—the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus—the new report also says the company will release a third model this year.

We’ve previously heard rumors that the “C” iPhone lineup would be disappearing after the launch of the iPhone 6. However, Digitimes claims that Apple will be debuting an “iPhone 6C” later this year that will sport a 4-inch display like that of the iPhone 5 and 5s. It’s possible that this is related to the rumors of a pink iPhone launching with the next refresh.

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Apple to expand iPhone trade-in program to China next week, Foxconn to resell devices on secondary markets

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Apple will begin rolling out an iPhone trade-in program in China in the near future. The option may become available in stores as soon as March 31st, allowing Chinese users to take advantage of the program that has helped boost iPhone sales in several countries already, including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Chinese retail employees will determine the condition of the phone being traded in, and offer Apple Store credit to customers, Bloomberg reports. Devices that are traded in will be sold to Foxconn by Apple. The manufacturing partner will then make any necessary repairs and resell them through its own online outlets:

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NYT: Trent Reznor ‘point man’ in designing iOS 8.4 Music app with Beats-based streaming service

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Apple’s Spotify-like subscription music service based on its $3 billion Beats acquisition last year is fully underway, The New York Times reports in a new article heavily corroborating our own reporting on the upcoming music service from the past several months. A few interesting details in the report describe two projects being largely led by music industry veterans rather than engineers… Read more