European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

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Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Apple Campus 2 Construction Progress Timeline: new photos, drone videos + updates on Cupertino’s spaceship

First announced by Steve Jobs in 2006, Apple kicked off construction on its new 176-acre “Campus 2″ in late 2013/early 2014 and expects to move in around 12,000 of its employees when the project is complete. Apple currently plans to wrap up construction by late 2016, so it’s possible the company could move into the new 2.8 million sq ft location starting sometime in early 2017.

Apple has been providing sporadic updates on progress on the site, but we have a more comprehensive timeline below that we’ll update as we follow along with Apple’s progress on the under-construction Campus 2 facility in Cupertino. Read more

Apple Stores to act more like jewelry stores for upcoming gold Apple Watch

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Apple is preparing to take some pages out of the traditional jewelry store playbook. For the upcoming 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, Apple is planning several new features for its retail stores to support the device. As we reported several months ago, Apple is planning on allowing customers to actually try on the watches and test out different band styles inside of stores. With the high-expected price tag of the gold watch models, Apple will also step up its security features for stores…

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Apple targets for Apple Watch battery life revealed, A5-caliber CPU inside

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Although Apple has said that the Apple Watch will need to be charged nightly, the company has not disclosed any details on how long the wearable’s battery will last. For the first time, people with knowledge of the Apple Watch’s development have provided us with the specific performance targets Apple wants to achieve for the Apple Watch battery, but the actual numbers may fall short of those targets.

According to our sources, Apple opted to use a relatively powerful processor and high-quality screen for the Apple Watch, both of which contribute to significant power drain. Running a stripped-down version of iOS codenamed SkiHill, the Apple S1 chip inside the Apple Watch is surprisingly close in performance to the version of Apple’s A5 processor found inside the current-generation iPod touch, while the Retina-class color display is capable of updating at a fluid 60 frames per second.

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes…

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Apple posts new aerial shot showing Campus 2 construction progress

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Following the last updated aerial shot of its under construction “Campus 2” earlier this month, Apple today shared a new shot that shows significant progress being made on the main structure and surrounding campus. As always, Apple shared the shot through the City of Cupertino’s webpage that provides traffic alerts and project updates for locals. Read more

IDC: Q4 2014 PC growth better than expected, all-time high for Macs predicted

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Analysis firm IDC today put out its projected numbers for PC growth in Q4 of 2014, and these results are better than projected. IDC initially predicted that unit sales for PCs would fall 4.8% year-over-year in Q4, but, instead, the market only fell 2.4%. While the decrease in growth is not as weak as expected, IDC still notes that 2014 is the third consecutive year of slow-down in the PC market. Many analysts have attributed the lack of recent growth to the uptake in purchases and usage of both tablets and large-screen smartphones…

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iPod shuffle supplies mysteriously dwindle in stores and online

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“Ships to Store” indicates store has no units in stock

If you’re trying to buy Apple’s cheapest iPod, the $49 screen-less Shuffle, you may be in for a difficult shopping trip. According to multiple sources, supplies of the iPod Shuffle are dwindling across Apple’s physical retail and online channels. In fact, Apple has warned its retail employees that Shuffle supplies will be short for an unspecified period of time and that customers seeking to buy a Shuffle via a retail store should be directed to Apple’s online store…

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Apple Watch launch expected in March, retail training set for mid-February

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Apple is finishing up work on the Apple Watch’s software, and sources familiar with the product’s development say that the device is currently on track to ship in the United States by the end of March. Apple previously said that the wearable product will ship in “early 2015,” while Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts got a bit more specific by telling employees that the launch will occur in the “spring,” after the Chinese New Year…

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