Apple gets a break as EU antitrust watchdog launches full-blown probe into Samsung over essential 3G patents

European Union regulators today announced the launch of a formal investigation of Samsung over mobile patents to determine whether the South Korean conglomerate breached EU antitrust rules in its legal dealings with competitors. The investigation is focused on so-called FRAND patents, a common rule that stipulates a patent applying to the standard must be adopted on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms” (FRAND). According to the press release, EU regulators want to figure out whether Samsung “used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”

The Commission reminds that Samsung a decade ago promised to let rivals license its mobile patents under FRAND terms. The full-blown investigation comes in the light of the lawsuits Samsung filed against Apple at courts in Germany, France, the Netherlands and other countries around the world, asserting copyright infringement related to patents essential to wireless telecommunications standards.

The case is “a matter of priority,” the document reads. Patent blogger explained, “The European Commission can’t wait until Samsung finally wins a ruling based on such a patent and enforces it, potentially causing irreparable harm.” The full text of the European Commission Antitrust Commission announcement can be found below.

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Apple posts iOS 5.1 Beta 3: Enable 3G toggle is back

Apple just released a third beta version of the upcoming iOS 5.1 firmware (Build 9B5141a). The software is available as an over-the-air update for existing iOS 5.1 beta users, but is not yet available (update: now available) as a standalone download through Apple’s developer portal.

As you might imagine, it contains the obligatory bug fixes and improvements. According to the tips we’ve received, it also restores the Enable 3G toggle in the Settings app which has been strangely absent on the iPhone 4S since it’s mid-October release. This should help save battery by switching to Edge connectivity in order to maintain cellular data for applications that do not require high data throughput. iPhone 4S users are currently forced to choose between having 3G cellular data turned on, which decreases battery life, or turning off their cellular data connection altogether.

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BBC iPlayer app lands on iPhone and iPod touch with 3G streaming

We heard at the beginning of the month that BBC’s iPlayer iPad app would be getting an iPhone and iPod touch version in the coming weeks and today the app has officially landed for UK users. To accompany the release, the app will also be able to stream content over all 3G networks and now officially supports AirPlay on iOS 5.

The company’s blog post notes a ‘Live Channels’ feature will allow you to quickly switch between BBC channels just like on radio and TV, and all BBC national radio stations support background audio for multitasking. They have also made improvements to streaming by introducing HTTP Live Streaming using adaptive bitrate technologies, allowing the app to adjust your streaming quality based on your connection speed. The web version of the app accessible at bbc.co.uk/iplayer will also soon get 3G streaming capabilities.   Read more

Apple offers special limited time prices on gen-1 iPads

From 9to5Toys.com:

The online Apple Store is having a clearance of the original iPad for three select WiFi and WiFi + 3G models, including the flagship 64GB WiFi + 3G iPad. Now available for up to $200-$230 less compared to their original list prices, these products come looking like new and with the same 1-year warranty that other Apple products receive. All refurbished iPad models also include a brand new battery and outer shell. Supplies are time-limited, as indicated by the Special Limited Time Price designation. Availability is guaranteed upon receipt of full payment.

• Refurbished 64GB Wi-Fi iPad: Now available for $399, down from $599, a $200 savings
• Refurbished 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad: Now available for $399 down from $629 a $230 savings
• Refurbished 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad: Now available for $499, down from $729, a $230 savings Read more

So it begins…AT&T starts sending out throttling warnings

Reddit user TheReverndZ shows the text he just got from AT&T.  He was over 11GB (!!) today for the month which is pretty hefty to say the least.  Next month, he’s probably going to get throttled as per the news we broke in June.

Starting October 1, smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users.  These customers can still use unlimited data and their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle.  Before you are affected, we will provide multiple notices, including a grace period.

Don’t laugh Verizon users.  Yours is coming too.  Sprint, for the record, says it won’t throttle guys like Skelatwork, if they get the iphone
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WSJ: Apple bringing 3G iPad 2 to China on Wednesday

An Apple spokesperson has confirmed to WSJ they will begin selling the 3G version of their iPad 2 in China through Apple Retail Stores, the Apple online store, and authorized resellers starting Wednesday. This will add to China’s growing tablet market, roughly 75% of which is already dominated by the iPad.

The Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 is already available in mainland China. Up until now, only Hong Kong has officially had access to the 3G iPad 2 model, but as the report notes, some 3G iPads have made their way into the region on the grey market. Of course China Unicom would be the obvious choice of carriers, but at this point they’ve declined to comment.

Apple has once again been on a retail blitz in China opening up a number of grandiose retail spaces in recent months and a couple due this week.