AppleCare+ launch in UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, & Switzerland ‘imminent’

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 2.01.20 PM

In line with a rumor from earlier this week, we’ve heard from our sources that AppleCare+ is indeed set to soon launch in Europe. AppleCare+ is Apple’s premium support service, and it provides customers with technical support for both the iPhone and iPad for two years from the original purchase date. AppleCare+ also provides support for up to two instances of accidental damage.

We understand that the launch is “imminent,” but no formal launch date has been announced internally. Apple, this week, has begun training its AppleCare support and Apple Store Genius Bar employees on the upcoming launch of the support initiative. At first, the European launch will occur in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and Switzerland…

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Apple confirms Apple Store iPhone trade-in program has launched today

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Photo from trade-in program training

In line with our reports from earlier this week, Apple has announced that its Apple Store iPhone trade-in-program has launched today. The confirmation comes by way of comment to CNBC.

The trade-in-program is officially called the “iPhone Reuse and Recycling Program” and it is available in Apple Stores across the United States. It is powered in-part by BrightStar…

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Apple opens graphics card replacement program for some mid-2011 iMacs

imac

Apple has opened up one of its rare replacement programs for the graphics card in some mid-2011 iMac configurations, according to a notice issued to Apple Support employees. The iMac in question is the model released in May 2011 with Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt ports. This iMac was sold between that month and October 2012 when Apple launched thinner models with new internals. Apple says that AMD Radeon HD 6970M cards (both 1GB and 2GB configurations) in select versions of these 2011 iMacs could fail:

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Weekend Roundup: Apple vs Samsung, new Genius Bar, Black Friday iPad trends, Will.i.am’s new iPhone accessory, more

According to a report from IBM tracking shopping trends for Thanksgiving and Black Friday (via Fortune), Apple devices dominated among mobile devices for online buying with 10 percent of shopping online done from an iPad. The device also dominated for online purchases originating from tablets, accounting for 88.3-percent of traffic. The iPhone came in at 8.7-percent of traffic for online purchases, while Android devices combined came in at just 5.5-percent.

Apple appears to be testing a new “floating” Genius Bar design in a couple of retail stores. We originally saw images of the new communal Genius Bar configuration in July. However, today, TheDailyCity reported Apple is now testing the design in at least two stores: one in Orlando at Mall at Millenia and another in a Philadelphia Apple Store. Apple will apparently roll out the design to its Florida Mall store. Apple appears to like the new design, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in more Apple Stores in the near future.

Apple and Samsung are now both seeking to extend their patent infringement claims in the California-based lawsuit filed in August. Samsung asked the courts in a filing last week to add the iPad mini and new iPod touch to the case after recently adding the iPhone 5. Now, FossPatents reported that Apple, as of Black Friday, sought to add six new Samsung products, including: Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Samsung Rugby Pro, and the Galaxy S III Mini. The case isn’t scheduled to go to trial until March 2014.

Will.i.am of Black Eye Peas fame is about to launch a new accessory for iPhone this week that is said to turn the device’s existing 8-megapixel camera into a 14-megapixel camera. The Telegraph (via MacRumors) spoke with Will.i.am who described the product called “i.am+:

 

‘We have our own sensor and a better flash. You dock you phone into our device and it turns you smartphone into a genius-phone. We take over the camera.’… The camera will be the first of a series of digital products that bear his name – to support them, he has invested in what he calls ‘digital real estate’ online. He now owns the domain http://www.i.am. Users of i.am+ accessories will be given individual online profiles, for example http://www.i.am/Will.

Apple switched battery suppliers for iPad and MacBooks from Samsung SDI to Amperex Technology Limited and Tianjin Lishen Battery, according to a report from China Business News (via TechCrunch). Recent reports about processor price hikes, and Samsung dropping out as an Apple display supplier, were later denied by the company, so we’ll wait for official word regarding the batteries.

The majority of iPad mini displays are coming from LG, according to a report from Digitimes. We already knew LG Display, AU Optronics, and Samsung are supplying display components for the device, but the sometimes-unreliable Digitimes claimed this weekend that the majority of displays are coming from LG—not AUO.

NPD: Genius Bar, stellar tech support keep Apple product owners coming back for more

Ah, the Genius Bar: It’s (mostly) free, it’s accessible, and nine out of 10 Apple product owners love it.

The latest research from NPD Group indicates folks are willing to buy multiple Apple devices primarily due to their pleasant experience at the Genius Bar. A whopping 90 percent, in fact, said they were “extremely or very satisfied” following their experience. The approval rate is primarily attributed to 88 percent of those Genius Bar consumers receiving complimentary service.

According to NPD Group’s Tech Services Study:

That service left almost all of the 40 percent of Apple owners who took their Apple devices to the Genius Bar very happy. Nearly 90 percent of consumers who used Apple’s tech service said they were extremely or very satisfied. In contrast, top 2 box satisfaction among all consumer service interactions was 78 percent. A major part of their satisfaction came from the fact that only a small percentage actually paid for their service. According to the report, 88 percent of Genius Bar consumers said their service was free compared to 78 percent of all consumers.

The majority of the support was for troubleshooting (37 percent), followed by product repair (28 percent), how-to support (18 percent), software installation/upgrade (11 percent), and product installation/set-up (7 percent).

Apple product consumers also approve the retail giant’s tech support offerings. Sixty percent of consumers claimed they were “somewhat or much more likely” to make another purchase following their experience, while another 31 percent admitted they had a “much more positive view” of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company after their service. However, as the study noted, “physical presence is key.” Fifty-three percent of consumers were extremely satisfied with in-store encounters versus other types of interactions, but 45 percent of younger consumers still preferred virtual communications.

These statistics are interesting, especially considering yesterday’s report from IFOAppleStore. It claimed then-COO Tim Cook and current CFO Peter Oppenheimer pushed former Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson toward revenues over customer satisfaction when then-CEO Steve Jobs was on medical leave in 2009. Moreover, Apple has maintained new policies —despite wide-spread criticism over recent retail layoffs— that reflect budget cuts with an emphasis on revenue. With this outlook, it surely won’t be long until tech support experiences start falling by the wayside.

NPD gathered responses from over 2,000 adults via an online survey in May 2012.

More stats are available in the press release below. 

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SoHo NY Apple Store to reopen July 14

Apple just announced it will reopen its SoHo store in Manhattan on July 14 at 10 a.m. EST.

The Apple Store, SoHo, is completely redesigned and better than ever. There are more than twice as many products available for you to try. A new state-of-the-art theater with extra seating is the perfect place to enjoy events and workshops. We’ve added New York’s first Briefing Room, where you can get to know our Business Team. Even the Genius Bar is bigger, so it’s easier than ever to get an appointment.

The first 3, 000 customers win free commemorative t-shirts.

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MacUpdate Bundle: Parallels 7, BusyCal, Screenflow, Civ V, lots more, 11 Mac Apps: $49.99

From 9to5Toys.com:

MacUpdate has one of the better bundles we’ve seen on a wide-ranging set of Mac software. If you are like us and getting a new MacBook next week, you can load it up with software: You are getting a solid deal with the Parallels 7 headliner ($30 off retail), but then you get some great apps up and down the lineup basically for free including:

1) Parallels Desktop 7 ($79.99)
2) BusyCal ($49.99) (first 10,000 bundles)
3) ScreenFlow 3 ($99.00)
4) Civilization V ($39.99) Gods & Kings expansion pack for just $20
5) Jaksta ($49.95)
6) Espionage 3 ($19.99)
7) Attachment Tamer 3 ($14.99)
8) Speed Download 5 ($25.00)
9) KeyCue 6 ($28)
10) A Better Finder Rename 9 ($19.95)
11) My Living Desktop 5 ($29.95)

The total value is $456.80 — MacUpdate is $49.99, as always.

Full release follows:

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Ending Bundles: MacUpdate’s VMware, Drive Genius, PDFPen 5, Forklift, more: $49. iTuneUp for iTunes $30

From 9to5Toys.com:

Ending Saturday, StackSocial offers the $30 The TuneUp Bundle which offers to “Cleanup your iTunes Music Collection. Automagically.” The TuneUp Bundle (Lifetime License) includes:

• Clean — Accurately fixes mislabeled or missing song information (like “Track 01” or “Unknown Artist”) using cutting-edge waveform recognition

• Cover Art — Scans your entire music collection in seconds and automagically™ fills in missing album artwork

• DeDuper— Intelligently finds and removes duplicate music files from your music library using waveform recognition

• Tuniverse — Delivers music videos, artist bios, concert alerts, social network integration and more

Ending today, MacUpdate has one of the best bundles we have ever seen on a wide-ranging set of Mac software. You are breaking even with the VMware Fusion 4 headliner, but there are great apps up and down the lineup including Drive Genius disk utility, PDFPen 5 PDF editor, Snapheal photo editing, Forklift FTP/Finder Utility, Typinator 5. These are all great apps…. Read more

MacUpdate Bundle: VMware, Drive Genius, PDFPen 5, Forklift, Snapheal, Typinator 5, more: $49.99

From 9to5Toys.com:

MacUpdate has one of the best bundles we have ever seen on a wide-ranging set of Mac software. You are breaking even with the VMware Fusion 4 headliner, but there are great apps up and down the lineup including Drive Genius disk utility, PDFPen 5 PDF editor, Snapheal photo editing, Forklift FTP/Finder Utility, Typinator 5. These are all great apps.

* 1. VMware Fusion 4 ($49.99)
* 2. Drive Genius 3 ($99.00)
* 3. PDFpen 5 ($59.95)
4. ForkLift 2.5 ($29.95)
* 5. Typinator 5 ($33.00)
* 6. DesktopShelves 2 ($14.99)
* 7. Snapheal ($14.99)
8. Boom [2-Mac Home Pack] ($10.99)
* 9. Phone to Mac ($24.95)
* 10. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition ($29.99)
* 11. Worms Special Edition ($9.99)

* = has never been in a bundle before

The total value is $377.79 — 78% off = $49.99, as always.

Full release follows:

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Apple patents clever diagnostic tool which can figure out how you handled your iOS gadget

As noted by PatentlyApple, Apple has filed a patent report today that details a new diagnostic tool that works through iTunes. The tool uses in-depth change logs that details firmware updates, physical conditions that surround the device during the events, the location of the device, and more. iTunes could be set to find corruption in the change log to let the user, and possibly a support Genius, know of what needs to be changed.

The log may be generated periodically (e.g., every 5 milliseconds, every 30 minutes, every 5 hours, after every reset, or at any other time based or event based or environment based event occurs). Each generated log may be stored on the Apple device or uploaded to a remote entity, and each log may be retained or overwritten by a more recently generated log depending on available storage space and/or processing capabilities, for example.

So what about privacy? The log will contain only information that will aid Apple in helping you, and will be without any personal information. As we’d imagine, each time you connect a device, like an iPhone, to iTunes it will pull the log. Like any patent, this might not actually be used. But hey, anything to save a trip to the Genius Bar right? Could this possibly tie in with this morning’s report regarding a web based tool?

The inside scoop on Apple’s new giant Los Angeles “Apple Store 2.0″ location

Apple Upper West Side in New York – Showing the floating Apple in the glass front

Apple will open their newest Apple Store this Saturday at 10 AM in the heart of Glendale, California; a city within the Greater Los Angeles Area. The store resides approximately 500-600 feet away from the world’s first Apple Store – store R001 at the Glendale Galleria Mall. Although the store opens this Saturday, the design, feel, interior, and exterior is yet to be revealed to the public. We have spoken to a proven corporate source in Apple’s retail division that is familiar with the development of Apple’s newest retail store.

Externally, the store is slightly different than the Apple Stores we have become accustomed to. The Americana at Brand location will trade the classic silver front with glass doors for an all glass front. That’s right; all glass – Apple’s newish style. In addition, Apple’s iconic logo will float in this glass, similarly to how the Apple logo floats in the Fifth Avenue store’s famous glass cube or the Upper West Side store’s front. The inside of the store features a very open floor plan, that is fairly similar to the chain’s other locations.

At the back of the store sits a giant Genius Bar, one of Apple’s largest: fifty seats. In addition, the store has at least twelve giant tables throughout – not including side panels as showcases, that hold iPads, iPod, iPhones, Macs, and more. Like some of Apple’s more recent retail locations, this one holds a sizable briefing room; a room where employees assist business customers. In addition  – and this is more employee oriented – there is a giant back of house area for repairs, breaks, offices, and for other utilities like Apple’s 5th Avenue Store… more details including Apple Store 2.0 info after the break:

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China not only fakes iPhones… but Apple Stores, too!

China might be known as the home of the fake iPhone, but what about whole stores? Surprising almost no one, China is indeed home to the fake Apple Store. These pictures from BirdAbroad (via IFOAppleStore), show a fake Apple Store complete with everything that a real Apple Store offers. Right down to the blue shirts with Apple logos and name labels for the employees. Starting from the top, this ‘Apple Store’ features a shiny exterior with a big glowing, white Apple front and center.

When you walk into the store, you will be stepping on wood or grey stone floors, depending on the section of the store, and will be surrounded by a showroom filled with iPads, Macs, and more… all on wooden tables. These tables are even equipped with the Apple (patented!) product holders. In fact, these tables are nearly identical, if not identical, to the tables used in Apple’s official stores. These stores went as far as to completely rip off Apple’s official press images – as you can see with the iPad 2 and iPod shuffle banners. Also notice the extremely outdated pink iPod posters.

Making this sound even more unbelievable are the twisted stair cases, accessory and software walls (which are nearly identical to the official ones), an area for children with cushy and fun chairs, and of course what appears to be a mini Genius Bar or a section of the store to take product lessons from employees. The most amazing part is what these employees think of their jobs:

Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple.

The “bosses” of this fake Apple Store, in Kunming, knowing that they are up to no good, informed their multiple plain clothed security guards to ban all picture taking. The best part is that there are three of these stores all within walking distance of each other. Check out some more pictures after the break that are courtesy of BirdAbroad.

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