Consumer groups in 10 more EU countries seeking alterations to AppleCare

We reported several times about Italian anti-trust authorities fining Apple $1.2 million for “misleading consumers” in relation to AppleCare warranties. The decision made by the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato stated Apple’s 1-year AppleCare warranties were failing to inform consumers of a mandatory warranty of two years imposed by European Union law. Today we heard confirmation from Bloomberg that not just Italy, but consumer groups from 11 countries, requested that Apple make changes to its AppleCare policies and immediately halt its current “practices on the guarantees.”

Apple products say they come with a one-year warranty when European Union law requires manufacturers cover goods for two years, consumer groups in 11 countries, including Italy and Germany, said in an e-mailed statement today. The groups said they sent letters to national regulators seeking an immediate halt to Apple’s practices on the guarantees

The letter sent by consumer groups comes two days before Apple is set to appeal the $1.2 million fine imposed by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato on March 21. Apple already published the initial anti-trust decision on its website, but the group is asking Apple to also alter its warranty policies and publish a notice to consumers about the changes it made on Apple.com.
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US Federal Trade Commission subpoenas Apple in Google antitrust probe over iPhone search

According to a report from Bloomberg (via AllThingsD), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission subpoenaed Apple as part of its antitrust investigation of Google. There are not many details currently, but the report claims the FTC is interested in Apple’s agreement with the company to use Google as its primary default search engine on iOS devices.

The agency’s request for documents includes the agreements that made Google the preferred search engine on Apple’s mobile devices, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly and declined to be identified. Google rivals such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have criticized these agreements as anticompetitive.

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Foxconn hiring lifestyle and safety experts to improve worker conditions at Apple factories

A report from Bloomberg today confirmed Foxconn is interested in hiring new safety and security experts to help improve working conditions in facilities responsible for supplying Apple products. Foxconn’s retail division chairman Louis Woo confirmed the job listings, which include a “lifestyle manager” responsible for maintaining worker dorms and healthcare, a safety and security expert, and two fire chiefs: Read more

Debug tool shows quad-core A6 and LTE capabilities on iPad 3

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Following reports earlier this month from Bloomberg that iPad 3 production kicked off in anticipation of a March launch, BGR today claimed a source is in possession of an iPad 3 prototype that has provided more information on the device.

A source claiming to be in possession of an iPad 3 prototype provided BGR with images containing details about Apple’s highly anticipated third-generation tablet. From the data in the photos, which contain the output from an iPad 3 using a development and debug tool called iBoot, we can infer plenty of information about the upcoming iPad 3.

BGR claimed the debug reports from the iPad 3 prototype in question have model numbers J1 and J2 (iPad3,1 and iPad3,2), with one being the only Wi-Fi model and the other an LTE/CDMA/GSM combo “for all carriers.” This echoes 9to5Mac‘s findings from last year.

The reports also provided confirmation of an A6 processor (model number S5L8945X) that most have expected Apple to include in the device.  We first broke news of a Quad-core chip in the iPad 3 via code snippets in iOS 5.1B software.

According to the BGR report, the processor will be a quad-core variant, “making the upcoming iPad 3 the fastest iOS device ever.”

We’ve seen previous mentions of the Samsung S5L8945X in iOS 5 dumps from the iPhone 4S:

So, while nothing in the report is new, the means by which these were found, reportedly from a prototype iPad 3, seem to confirm previous findings.
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Does Siri infringe old Excite patents?

Shawn Carolan of Menlo Ventures, an investor in Siri Inc., prior to Apple acquiring the company, recently sat down on Bloomberg to discuss the technology. Apart from talking about the initial demo that attracted him to the investment and meeting Siri Co-Founder Norman Winarsky, Bloomberg host Cory Johnson pressed him on exactly how Siri is able to take voice-recognition data and determine intent.

Around the 3:20 mark, Carolan discussed Siri’s unique approach of taking all words as “one big block” and mapping “those strings of words across” a group of 10 domains of expertise. This approach sounds familiar to at least one technology journalist who claimed the method is similar to patents owned by search portal Excite in 1994. Robert Cringely explained:

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New iPhone 5 cases indicate a thinner but half inch wider and longer frame

Following our post with images of a purported iPhone 5 case, other sources like TechCrunch and Onlinelpnprogram.net have followed up with us with their own cases. This time we not only have a silicone case, but a hard case, too. The image above shows a top view of both of our cases. They both show a ringer switch on the opposite side of the volume keys, which is a shift from previous models of the iPhone. In addition, the bottom of these cases have holes for a separate speaker, main microphone, and USB dock connector. You may have noticed this on our iPhone 5 case post earlier this week, but today comes the more important information.

Our images were admittedly not very clear about the case’s thinness or if there was a “tear drop” as previously described by This is my next. Our new images are clear and there are appears to be a slight – not major – tear drop in the design. The case goes thick to thin from top to bottom. In addition, the sources who provided us with these two new cases have shared some dimensions. According to them, the case is 5 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide. These are tight cases so the iPhone 5 dimensions should only be a few millimeters smaller than those numbers. For comparison, the iPhone 4 is 4.5 inches tall and 2.31 inches wide. This likely will leave room for the rumored bigger screen, as reported by the WSJ, Bloomberg, and This is my next.

Although we are not able to absolutely confirm that these cases will fit the fifth-generation iPhone, the sources of these cases stress that the information used for design and manufacturing came from their own proven industry sources…Sources like the ones that provided amazingly accurate iPad 2 information and dimensions to case manufactures months before the product’s March debut. These cases are also just appearing weeks ahead of the iPhone 5′s debut. With the iPhone 5 most certainly in production, it is prime time for insider leaks to occur in Asia.


iPhone 4 case, left.  iPhone 5 case, right

Full gallery of iPhone 5 cases below: Read more

China moves to close some of its knockoff Apple Stores

Since the original breaking of the Chinese fake Apple Stores news last week, there has been a flurry of activity.  Chinese authorities began investigating the stores over the weekend.  Chinese customers demanded refunds even though they products were real.

Today, Bloomberg is reporting that two of the five stores investigated have been shut down.

Chinese authorities shut two stores in Kunming that used Apple Inc.’s logo without the company’s permission because they lacked the proper business licenses, a newspaper run by the southwestern city’s government reported.

Three separate unauthorized Apple stores, which were also investigated, had operating licenses, according to the Dushi Shibao newspaper report, which was posted on the Kunming city government’s website. Officials inspected more than 300 vendors of electronic products in the city, Dushi reported.

Apple currently has four stores in China.  While that number will increase greatly over the next year, it isn’t surprising to see local businesses trying to fill the void in the interim. Read more

Foxconn to spend $1.6B on stores in China to sell Apple products

The Chinese Economic Daily News via Bloomberg reports that Foxconn plans on spending NT$47B to build stores in China which will sell Apple products, which of course it also produces.  The information was relayed by the unit’s Chairman Steve Chang.

Back in January, we reported:

Foxconn subsidiary Cybermart has been granted retail permission from Apple and will begin selling Apple products in April of this year. Cybermart currently has 34 stores across the Greater China area, with 7-8 more stores planned for 2011. The report also states that Cybermast is planning to open as many as 500 stores, that will retail Apple products, in the future.

Foxconn is becoming a pretty powerful player in Apple’s fortunes in China and the world.

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