Verizon CFO talks iPhone: Free iPhone gains, incentivizing employees to sell lower subsidy devices & Share Everything plans

verizon-iphoneVerizon CFO Fran Shammo spoke at the Duetsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom conference this morning, where he was asked a few questions related to the iPhone. Verizon reported its fourth quarter 2012 earnings last month with 9.8 million smartphone activations—a record 6.2 million of which were iPhone. We knew about half, or 3.1 million, of those iPhone sales were driven by the first full quarter with the iPhone 5, but today Shammo talked about just how important getting the free iPhone 4 was during the quarter:

But this past fourth quarter you had a couple — you had really one thing happen that never happened before, especially with Verizon Wireless, and that was for the first time ever, because of the iPhone 5 launch, we had the 4 at free. So it was the first time ever you could get a free iPhone on the

Verizon Wireless network. So that produced a lot of volume for us. We had a lot of new customers come into Verizon who took that free phone, and that was great for us because again if you think about — we sold a lot of LTE product in the fourth quarter. We sold a lot of 3G product from the iPhone products in the fourth quarter.

But that is key for us, because if you think about our two networks it is important for me as I migrate people into the 4G network I still have this very large 3G network that operates very efficiently. We are not investing any more capital in that network other than to keep it up and running, so no more coverage capital, no more capacity capital. If I can keep that network up and running that just generates more contribution margins for us. So it is critical for us to balance that. But, again, I think you had one point in time where you had a free phone, a free Apple phone that never happened before with us and that generated a lot of volume.

While noting that 53 percent of the carrier’s smartphone activations were iPhones in 2012, Shammo was asked about the opportunity to incentivize employees to sell non-Apple devices that would also come with lower subsidies for Verizon:

The answer is, no, we don’t and it is critical that we don’t do that. The reason for that is because what is more important for us is when a customer walks into a store that customer walks out with a phone that they will be happy with and not return under our 30-day guarantee. Because the worst thing that can happen for us is for me to incentivise a salesperson to get you into a phone that you walk out the door with thinking you are going to like and in three days you come back because you don’t like it. Therefore, now I’ve just subsidized two smartphones because that phone you used I can’t resell as a new phone.

You can read more from Shammo’s presentation and where he discusses the growth of Share Everything plans, tablets, and more here.

First photos of cases for next full-sized iPad again point to narrower, iPad mini-like design

ipad5caseminisuit

In January, we published the first photos of actual rear shells for Apple’s upcoming fifth-generation iPad. Based on these photos, the next iPad will carry a design that is akin to the iPad mini, but, of course, larger.

Today, we have received the first photos of a carrying case for this redesigned 9.7-inch iPad. Once again, this new evidence of a redesign points to a form-factor that is narrower in comparison to previous full-sized iPads.

The edges of the case also point to a more squared-off design, as found on the current-generation iPad mini. Our previous photos of the fifth-generation iPad parts point to the design also because almost as thin as the iPad mini. Thanks to Steve at Minisuit, who make great cases for iOS devices, for the lead.

Update: We have received additional photos of iPad 5 (the blue ones) cases. We’ve put a full gallery below:

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Report: Apple to launch 11- and 13-inch Retina MacBook Air in Q3

MacBook AirAccording to a translated report from Taiwanese publication Economic Daily (via Macotakara), Apple is apparently in the process of preparing suppliers for the launch of a Retina MacBook Air in Q3 2013. The report appears to claim that both 11- and 13-inch variants of the MacBook Air will launch with Retina displays in addition to an upgrade from Intel’s new Haswell platform. Apple supplier Quanta is expected to begin receiving shipments of the new components in the second quarter, according to Economic Daily.

Today’s report of course goes against recent claims from analysts predicting the next-gen MacBook Air would land in Q2 or Q3 without a Retina display. We heard last year that Apple was working on MacBook Airs with Retina displays, but sources indicated the power drawn from the Retina Displays combined with the thin and light form factor of the MacBook Air may pose challenges for Apple and its product manufacturers. Read more

Apple ready to release additional iPad model; likely 128GB version (Updated: Pricing)

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.31.06 PM

We’ve gotten word from sources that Apple is preparing to release (in some fashion) a single, additional iPad model. This would be a new SKU for the current fourth-generation iPad with Retina display line. At this point, we do not have pricing information, so it is definitely difficult to pinpoint exactly what this new iPad model is.

Here is what we do know:

  • It is a fourth-generation iPad, not a new design.
  • It comes in both the current black and white color options.
  • It comes in both WiFi-only and WiFi + Cellular versions.
  • It is a more premium SKU that will join the current line of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB fourth-generation iPads.
  • 10-pack deals (in both colors) for educational institutions will be offered.

With developers finding code in the soon-to-be-released iOS 6.1 that points to 128GB iOS devices, and with recent findings of 128GB references in Apple’s recent iTunes 11 release, speculation naturally points to Apple releasing a 128GB iPad in the very near future. While it is certainly plausible that this new iPad model is the 128GB iPad, we are currently not confident enough to outright claim that, but it seems likely based on the evidence.

Update: We’ve received pricing information for this new iPad model. The pricing is in line with a higher storage capacity, coming in at around $799 for the WiFi-only model and $929 for the Cellular-compatible model in the United States. So, new capacity sounds even more likely.

Here are the new SKUs via a source at a high-profile U.S. retailer:

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Watch the iPhone’s accelerometer pick up keystrokes from an invisible keyboard (Video)

A student at Goldsmiths, University of London has apparently been able to create an invisible, virtual keyboard for iPhones by using the device’s built-in accelerometer to pick up vibrations caused by tapping or typing on a surrounding surface area. As you can see from the video demonstration above, the “Virbrative” software developed by Florian Kraeutli (on a jailbroken iPhone 4) allows him to measure the strength and frequency of vibrations and then map them to iOS’ onscreen keyboard. The Telegraph spoke with Kraeutli about the software developed for a project on user interfaces:

“The signals I’m collecting are very weak,” said Florian Kraeutli, a computing student at Goldsmiths, who created the system as part of his work on user interfaces.“At the moment it’s more of a proof of concept but if you made the accelerometer more sensitive you could improve the accuracy quite easily.”

In the video above, we see the developer use a keyboard drawn on a piece of paper to train the system before tapping directly on the table underneath. Kraeutli noted users would ideally “train each key, but you can do just a couple.” According The Telegraph, the system “determines the intended key correctly about 80 per cent of the time, so the data is also fed into an auto correct dictionary to ensure the words are spelled correctly.” Kraeutli suggested that access to more powerful accelerometers could allow him to increase the accuracy of the system: Read more

Apple already catches up with fourth-gen iPad demand, now ‘in stock’

Last time we checked in, the new fourth-generation iPad with Retina display was listed as shipping in “3-5 business days” from Apple’s U.S. website. That was down from the estimated one-week shipping time Apple had listed for the device in the weeks leading up to the device’ official Nov. 2 launch alongside the iPad mini. Since then, Apple announced it sold 3 million new iPads (iPad 4 and iPad mini) over the first three days that the devices were on sale. While CEO Tim Cook confirmed Apple is “practically sold out of iPad minis,” it appears it has now caught up with supply/demand for the iPad 4. At least Apple’ s U.S. and Canadian online stores now list all Wi-Fi models of the iPad 4 as “in stock”, meaning Apple has supply ready to ship immediately. LTE models are still expected to roll out over the next couple weeks.

This comes a week after Apple sold out of initial iPad 4 supplies on its website. Apple did, however, begin allowing personal in-store pick-ups for new iPads ordered after 10 p.m.

It’s unclear what percentage of the 3 million iPads Apple sold were made up of iPad mini and iPad 4 models, but it looks like Apple is having a much easier time with supplies of iPad 4. It remains to be seen whether Apple can catch up with iPad mini demand leading into the holidays. Apple’s website still currently lists the device as available in “2 weeks”, with online stores in different countries listing the LTE models as available in mid- to late November. There is no word when Apple Stores will get additional supplies, but many we checked with have remained sold out since launch day.

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