Apple fined $670k by Taiwan Fair Trade Commission over iPhone plan pricing

iPhone-Taiwan

The Wall Street Journal reports that Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Apple approximately US$670,000 for its attempts to influence phone pricing set by distributors and service providers in the region. According to a statement from the commission, Apple was forcing at least three carriers to submit pricing plans for iPhone ahead of offering the devices for sale:

“Through the email correspondence between Apple and these three telecom companies we discovered the companies submit their pricing plans to Apple to be approved or confirmed before the products hit the market,” it said in a statement.

The report adds that Apple could face an additional fine of NT$50 million (around $1.7 million US) if it doesn’t change its current methods of negotiating iPhone pricing plans with carriers: Read more

Report: Hon Hai source says 46 to 55-inch Apple TV set in testing, no panel supplier confirmed, 2013 launch unlikely

apple-tv-tree

Last week, a report from The Wall Street Journal claimed Apple’s much rumored HDTV set is now in the “early stages of testing” with partners Hon Hai Precision and Sharp. Today, we get more details surrounding the rumored product from the Taiwan national news agency’s English language Focus Taiwan. According to the report, citing sources close to Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the supplier is testing Apple television designs, but the possibility of the product shipping in 2013 is “unlikely”:

Nevertheless, the source said it is unlikely that shipments of the appliances will begin as soon as the end of next year.

While the report from WSJ claimed Sharp was involved in the initial testing of the product with Hon Hai, Focus Taiwan’s source claimed the possibility of Sharp displaying panels for the product is “not high”:

Asked whether the new Apple TV will use display panels produced by Japan’s Sharp Corp., the source said the possibility is not high.

The source also claimed that Apple is looking at displays ranging from 46 inches to 55 inches, meaning the company likely wouldn’t rely on Sharp’s plants best suited for production of 60+ inch panels: Read more

Taiwan asks Apple to blur imagery of early-warning radar facility in Maps app

Turkish website Sosyalmedya reported last month that Apple was putting the country’s national security at risk by releasing high-resolution imagery of sensitive locations in its new Maps app. In that case, the issue was a clear view of a maximum-security prison. A quick comparison to Google’s Maps showed the location was obscured, something Google has been known to do upon request. There were other controversial locations discovered in the Maps app (locations that Google currently blurs), and today a report from The Associated Press noted Apple is being asked by Taiwan to obscure imagery of an early-warning radar station in the country.

Taiwan is asking Apple Inc. to blur a map image of its new $1.4 billion early warning radar station… The 10-storey high radar installation built with U.S. technology is expected to go online later this year. It’s near the Hsinchu Airbase in northern Taiwan.

According to the report, Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesperson David Lo said, “Apple should follow its rival Google in using only low-resolution satellite pictures.” The Associated Press said the facility is located near Hsinchu Airbase in northern Taiwan and will be used for monitoring aircrafts, missiles, and determining speed for targets “coming from as far as western China.”

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Foxconn CEO Terry Gou: iPhone 5 will put Samsung’s Galaxy S III to shame

According to several local reports, Foxconn’s Terry Gou made some pretty bold statements at Hon Hai Precision’s annual meeting of shareholders on Monday. While there are a few translations, all seem to claim Gou urged customers to wait for the iPhone 5, “saying that the new model will put Samsung’s Galaxy III to shame.” A report from Focus Taiwan quoted China Times:

Gou said he has made it a lifetime goal to defeat Samsung — “a company with a track record of snitching on its competitors.”… He was referring to Samsung’s action in 2010 of snitching on four Taiwanese companies in an investigation by the European Commission on price-fixing in the flat panel industry…Samsung was exempted from the investigation by serving as a “tainted witness.” … Gou also urged consumers to wait for the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5, saying that the new model will put Samsung’s Galaxy III to shame.

Gou also apparently claimed that Foxconn’s Sakai plant “has an exclusive agreement with Corning Inc., an American manufacturer of glass, on large panel supply,” and his “competitors will not be able to secure any such material if they wished to.” We are going to wait to see if Foxconn issues a statement regarding these quotes, because we know a couple of stories in recent months misquoted Gou… Read more

Digitimes’ latest rumor: new iPhone coming September, 7-inch iPad in August, and new 10-inch iPad in Q4

The ever-sketchy DigiTimes does not have the best reputation when it comes to predicting Apple product launches, but today the publication is reporting Apple OEM Pegatron began receiving orders for a new iPhone and a next-generation 10-inch iPad. It also reported Apple plans to release a 7-inch iPad in August:

Pegatron Technology reportedly has landed orders for a new-generation iPhone to be launched in September and a 10-inch iPad to be launched in the fourth quarter, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers. Pegatron is currently an OEM for the iPhone 4S and new iPad… A 7-inch iPad, which reportedly will be released in August, will be manufactured by Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry).

With the release of Apple’s new iPad last March, we find it hard to imagine Apple plans to break its yearly release window with a new 10-inch iPad, in addition to a 7-inch variant in August. We heard many rumors lately about a 7-inch or 7.85-inch tablet, indicating Apple could be experimenting with smaller screen sizes. In April, a translated report from a Chinese publication claimed Apple was prepping 7.85-inch iPad minis to launch in Q3 for $250 to $300, but we have not heard anything concrete on Apple’s plans to release a 7-inch tablet. As for iPhone, we are still expecting an October launch at this point.
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Best Buy and Taiwanese tablet vendor borrow marketing cues from Apple ahead of Super Bowl advertising craze


last year’s 

The iPhone maker is many things to many people and it is easy to overlook Apple’s powerful marketing amidst the popularity of its gadgets. Yet, the two are inseparably intertwined. No wonder well-known names in business are (again) taking cues from Apple’s marketing cookbook, including United States specialty retailer of consumer electronics Best Buy that uncharacteristically decided to break away from the usual Super Bowl advertising featuring celebrities, which seems to be norm these days.

Instead, its new approach calls for celebrating technology innovators, a concept Apple popularized back in 1997 with the “Think Different” campaign. According to Bloomberg, the retailer opted to feature Silicon Valley inventors, such as Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom and camera phone pioneer Philippe Kahn who will help bring home the message at Sunday’s big game. From the mouth of Best Buy’s Marketing Chief Drew Panayiotou:

Big brands like to hire celebrities. We looked at everyone from George Clooney to Stephen Colbert. We believe the inventors are more than enough. I give those 125 million viewers a lot of credit. I think they’ll appreciate the story. [...] They may not be at the same level as Steve Jobs, but they created some amazing stuff.

Eagle-eyed readers could point out that the retailer last holiday season aired Apple-focused adverts promoting its store-within-a-store displays, seen below. However, Best Buy’s latest creative concept marks a departure from its past Super Bowl campaigns that tapped celebrities, such as heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. Meanwhile, a Taiwanese vendor is treading the fine line between originality and a display of disrespectfulness by featuring a Steve Jobs imitator to drum up excitement for its upcoming Android slab. Check it out that commercial in a clip included right after the break.

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Apple online stores down in China, Australia, and 11 other Pacific countries

Update: The stores appear to be back online now, and while the China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand stores have access to Red Friday deals, the others don’t. As for discounts, most products, including iPads, MacBooks, and iMacs appear to be on sale for in between 5% and 10% off. For everyone else, 9to5 readers can still get some of the best prices on Macs in the U.S. through our discount code at MacMall.

While we have not confirmed the exact reason, it looks like around 13 Apple online stores worldwide are currently down. Among them: China, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

There is a good possibility Apple is updating these websites to reflect the ‘Year of the Dragon’ Jan. 6 Red Friday shopping event that is expected to land in China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and possibly the other countries with online stores currently down. We will keep you posted if we notice any changes when they come back online.

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Details on iPhone 4S launch in India, Russia and Taiwan


Unlocked iPhone 4S is priced out of reach of average folks in India.

Currently available in 44 countries, Apple’s iPhone 4S is patiently awaited in 26 additional territories as Apple makes good on its promise to have the device available in over 70 markets and on 100 carriers before end of the year. iPhone 4S has been well received in Japan and Singapore and pre-orders sold out in Hong Kong in 10 minutes, but reportedly not so much in South Korea… Read more

Apple issuing refunds for Final Cut Pro X

TheNextWeb reports that Apple has begun returning the $299 purchase price of Final Cut Pro X to customers who are unsatisfied with the product’s features and capabilities.  Cupertino has begun issuing refunds to those who have filed an official request using Apple’s Mac App Store Customer Service form.

Some customers have received sympathetic email responses from Apple support staff, including:

“Moving forward, I understand that you are not satisfied with the app “Final Cut Pro”. I can certainly appreciate you would like a refund, and I would be more than happy to help you out with this today. In five to seven business days, a credit of £179.99 should be posted to the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase.

Please note that this is a one time exception because the iTunes Terms and Conditions state that all sales are final.”

This is an interesting gray area because Mac Apps purchased through the Mac App Store aren’t usually up for return so long after they are purchased (unless you re in Taiwan).  Whereas boxed software, especially Pro level stuff, usually has a longer guarantee even if there are restocking fees. Read more

Apple changes its rules in Taiwan to allow users 7 days to test an app?

We haven’t gotten official word on this but the Economic Times of India is reporting that Apple changed its return policy on Apps from minutes to 7 days.  We reported earlier this month that Taiwan gave both Apple and Google two weeks to comply withits consumer protection mandate.

An official said the lack of a return and refund mechanism violated the Consumer Protection Act. In an example of the problem the city government is trying to prevent, Yeh cited a case of software bought on Apple Store on Thursday that did not work, but left the buyer without recourse.

It appears that Apple has complied (Google, less so): Read more

Foxconn closes all of its electronic parts polishing workshops for up to 2 days


scene from Foxconn explosion

According to the WSJ, Foxconn has suspended production across many of its plants in China for two days while the government investigates the explosion that killed three people and injured many more.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a Taiwan-based company better known by the trade name Foxconn that operates dozens of factories across China, said it closed all of its workshops that handle polishing for electronic parts and products pending further inspections.

At issue appears to be the flammable aluminum dust that comes from polishing parts like the iPad 2′s aluminum back.  A student group out of Hong Kong called Sacom published a report on the dangers of flammable airborne aluminum dust in a report on May 6, saying workers complained about inhaling the dust and about poor ventilation. It isn’t clear whether the workshops referred to in Sacom’s report include the site of the accident.

The news is another setback for Foxconn, which is barely past a recent outbreak of public suicides.

Should the Chengdu production capacity not be restored anytime soon, Hon Hai may have to hire more expensive labor in Shenzhen, said Arthur Hsieh, an analyst at UBS.

While Foxconn has dominated the contract manufacturing industry until now, analysts say Hon Hai competitors like Singapore’s Flextronics Inc. and Taiwan’s Quanta Computer Inc. could try to woo some of its customers, including Apple.

The prospective plant closures and their affect on Apple’s iPad were assessed by Digitimes earlier todayRead more

Digitimes: iPhone 5 to employ curved glass?

Although the previous generation iPod nano had curved glass (it wasn’t universally loved), the Samsung Nexus S was the first mainstream smartphone with curved glass.  If Digitimes is right, the iPhone 5 may be the second (and likely more popular).

…the latest being circulated around the supply chain in Taiwan is that Apple is going to adopt a curved cover glass for its next generation model, according to industry sources.

That would seem to fly in the face of recent reports that the iPhone 5 would be very similar to the iPhone 4 in appearance.  Digitimes has found what they think is anecdotal evidence.

However, in order to push forward the production of curved glass, Apple reportedly has purchased 200-300 glass cutting machines to be used by glass makers, said the sources.

The glass slicing machines are currently being stored at associated assembly plants and will be brought online once yield rates for the production of curved glass reaches a satisfactory level, the sources revealed.

Although Samsung is a competitor wrapped in lawsuits with Apple, it is also a major supplier and obviously has experience with curved glass screens. Read more