Apple launches iBookstore in New Zealand and Latin America ahead of iPad Mini and iTunes 11

Apple plans to launch the iBookstore in Brazil ahead of its media event tomorrow, according to a new report by BlogDoiPhone (translated).

The store is not currently live (update below), but screenshots of its existence are above and below. BlogDoiPhone noted a few books have begun to appear in Brazilian Portuguese when doing a search. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, for instance, now has a live link.

Many rumors indicate Apple will have a strong focus on education at its media event tomorrow, and recent leaks on iBooks 3.0, coupled with today’s news about the iBookstore rolling out to Brazil, seems to back those reports.

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Foxconn workers in Brazil threaten strike over working conditions

Following audits and a major overhaul of workers’ rights at Foxconn factories in China, a report from newspaper Jornal de Jundiai (via Evertiqclaimed 2,500 workers at a Foxconn plant in Jundiai, Brazil are threatening to strike if the company does not meet their demands by May 3. The plant in Jundiai is currently responsible for the assembly of some of Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2 units:

Newspaper Jornal de Jundiai reports that workers at the plant will strike if issues surrounding severe water shortages, food, and transportation of employees are not resolved… In a statement the United Steelworkers of Jundiaí and Region said workers decided to give 10 days (from the Monday) for the company to resolve the issues raised in a meeting on Monday… According to the report by Jornal de Jundiai, a spokesman from the union said that lack of water as well as poor quality food was an issue for workers. As the number of employees at the plant grows, workers also complain that the infrastructure for transport has remained the same size, causing overcrowding in buses. Read more

Foxconn to set up five manufacturing facilities in Brazil, each employing 1,000 workers [UPDATE: Foxconn denies]

Apple and Foxconn are continuing to work on bringing that $12.5 billion iPad plant in Brazil online (there have been no iPads “Made in Brazil” seen yet, unlike iPhones). Meanwhile, the country’s Secretary of Planning and Development of the State of São Paulo Julio Semeghini revealed today that Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer will build up to five factories in Brazil with a thousand employees each.

According to a local report by Folha.com, Foxconn of Taiwan (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.,) will leverage the additional plants to build notebooks and PCs, electronic components, connectors, batteries and precision machine elements. The plants should be located in Jundiai; São Paulo and business negotiations will resume when the Chinese New Year wraps up, according to the secretary.

The development could indicate plans to assemble an even greater portion of Apple products in Brazil, not just iPads and iPhones. Even so, poor machine-translated text suggested the secretary said, “The parts produced here will also help in the assembly of Apple products,” as “the company starts to import kits for assembly in Brazil iPad and iPhone.”

UPDATE: A Foxconn representative refuted the story, dismissing it as “pure speculation” amid what appears to be a power struggle over the Taiwanese firm’s billions of dollars in potential greenfield investments in the country. Foxconn, which already operates six plants in Brazil, wouldn’t acknowledge that iPhone or iPad production is taking place in any of the existing facilities.

UPDATE: Reader MarckOliver has submitted the following translation:

Parts produced in Brazil will aid in assemble of Apple products, said the Secretary. For now the company will import those kits from China to assemble in Brazil.

Reader Renato Selman concurs, telling us that while Foxconn will just assemble Apple gear using imported parts, “in the future Foxconn will use other components produced in Brazil”.


Thousands apply for jobs at Foxconn factories in China.
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Too little, too late: Google launches Orkut for iPhone

Orkut, a Google-owned social network, has had little luck challenging MySpace, hi5, Tagged or Facebook —the undisputed social networking leader (some people even liken Orkut to a poor man’s Facebook). Nevertheless, Orkut is still popular in India and Brazil, where more than 80 percent of its 66 million active users come from, as of October 2011. Today, the search company released a native Orkut client for iPhone. It is available free of charge on the App Store and comes with the usual assortment of features, ranging from updating your status and checking your scraps and messages to browsing your friends’ profiles and uploading photographs. It is interesting that Google chose to release the app just as Facebook has finally managed to beat Orkut in Brazil, per latest comScore metrics.

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Why does iPhone 4S cost $2K in Brazil, and what does Apple plan to do about it?

Apple’s iPhone 4S hit Chile and Brazil this evening, and boy is it overpriced. The company’s online store has the R$ 2,599 price tag attached to the 16 GB SIM-free version. The 32 GB/64GB versions of the popular smartphone sell for R$ 2,999/R$ 3,399. The exchange rate of Brazilian dollar is approximately R$ 1.71 to USD 1.00… so you get the picture.

Just to give you a little feel, the unlocked 64 GB iPhone 4S in Brazil sells for three times its $849 United States asking price, or a whopping $2,000. This slideshow cleverly depicts what this amount of money can buy folks in Brazil. Turns out you can get a decent fridge, a big screen Sony Bravia TV or even an entry-level Ford car for the price of an unlocked 64 GB iPhone 4S.

So, why those exorbitant price points?


A comparison of approximately two times higher iPhone prices in Brazil compared to the U.S. The chart is courtesy of The Next Web.

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iTunes Match (mistakenly?) begins rolling out to Europe for 24,99€/year, Canada and Australia too?

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We’re starting to get reports that Apple is sending out emails to users in Spain and elsewhere in Europe notifying them the iTunes Match service is officially available for 24,99 € per year (as shown above). One Twitter user also claims that he was able to subscribe to the service in Europe two days ago before iTunes told him it was a mistake and returned his money.

“I managed to buy iTunes Match in Europe two days ago. Now they told me it was mistake and returned the money.

The email he provides looks identical to the one above apart from the language. It’s of course possible this is a slip up on Apple’s part ahead of an official rollout in the near future. Let us know in the comments if you have access to the service, which you can try here.

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We’ve got reports coming in from Canada where it is listed at C$27.99/year and Australia where it is A$39.99.  In the UK, it is £21.99.

Last week Apple also opened up the cloud service to users in Brazil to accompany the launch of the iTunes Store in Latin America. Read more