Apple announced its plan last year to spend roughly $900 million opening 40 new retail locations in 2012. In March, we told you new stores were coming to Germany, Spain, Australia, and France‘s Burgundy wine region, and several reports this week confirmed a handful of new locations for the United Kingdom, France, and Canada. Ten of the 40 stores Apple planned for 2012 will début in the U.S., and recent reports indicated two of those U.S. stores will be located in California and Salt Lake City… Read more
Yesterday, we reported that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants Apple to lose the “4G” marketing for the third-generation iPad, alleging it misleads consumers into thinking the device is capable of accessing 4G networks in Australia. Reports from ABC news quickly followed and claimed Apple would give refunds to customers and publish clarification regarding incompatibility with the Telstra network. Apple’s AU website now has “Ultrafast wireless” instead of “Ultrafast 4G” on the main features page, despite still advertising 4G as a highlight of the device through its international sales pages.
Now, authorities in other countries where the new iPad is not compatible with local 4G networks are investigating the issue. Authorities in at least the United Kingdom and Sweden confirmed they are considering investigations…
We reported last night that Apple officially appointed CEO of Dixons John Browett as its senior vice president of Retail following Ron Johnson’s departure in October of last year. Browett is leaving his position at Dixons Retail, which operates various United Kingdom-based retail stores including Currys, Currys.digital, and PC World. Dixons is one of the largest electronics chains in Europe, and PC World, the last on that list, is one of the largest computer/consumer electronic retailers in the U.K. It also has a reputation of being a big-box consumer electronic store that consumers describe as “the worst of Best Buy and Radio Shack combined.”
While U.K. product-testing and consumer advocacy group Which? consistently ranked both Currys Digital and PC World at the bottom of its research regarding the Top 100 retail chains, a report from Financial Times explained “Apple has mystery shopped and been impressed.” Specifically, the report mentioned “a system of decision trees to match customers with products” that Browett has implemented while at Dixons.
The calculation of Mr Cook may be that if Mr Browett is good at selling people products that bore them, he will do even better selling them i-gadgets that they lust after.
According to reports in November from BBC, Browett recently renovated more than 250 stores, implemented new service, and customer support strategies. However, the company reported first-half losses of just over £25 million (slightly lower than expected, but higher than losses of £6.9 million the year prior). In 2009, Retail Week (via GigaOm) profiled Browett, calling him “affable and intellectual” and describing his “schoolboy enthusiasm” for technology during a trip to PC World. Here is an excerpt:
We have seen Siri clones in the Android Market trying to pass themselves off as the real thing, and some Siri alternatives making their way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. Evi, on the other hand, might actually be the first true Siri competitor/alternative for Android and non-iPhone 4S iOS users.
Available on the App Store for 99 cents and free to Android users on the Android Market, Evi is the work of True Knowledge and its “core semantic search technology” better known as The True Knowledge Answer Engine. The 99-cent price tag on iOS is apparently to cover the cost of using Nuance voice recognition (the same voice recognition tech as Siri), which is not used in the Android version.
The app’s iTunes page explained Evi is capable of returning local data for the United Kingdom (along with the United States), which has been a complaint from U.K. Siri users since the iPhone 4S launch. According to TechCrunch, the app uses “an ontology of tens of thousands of classes into which” every possible user command can be recognized. True Knowledge said the app contains “almost a billion ‘facts’ (machine understandable bits of knowledge)” with the ability to infer trillions if necessary. It also reportedly uses all the expected sources, such as local results from Yelp, third-party websites, traditional web searches, and APIs.
While as of yet Evi is incapable of integrating with Calendar and Reminders like Siri, TechCrunch pointed out it sometimes provides more accurate and useful results for certain types of questions. Siri requests to search the web for an answer when users ask certain questions, such as “How do I make apple pie?” Evi, however, would provide a list of recipes with relevant links to that specific question. TechCrunch highlighted another example where Evi excels:
Apple expanded its recycling program in the United States in August to give customers an opportunity to —well— recycle their used iPhones and iPads for Apple gift cards, and now the technology giant is extending the program even further by launching a similar initiative in the United Kingdom, Germany and France.
According to its German website (Google translation), Apple will not offer payment in the form of an Apple gift card, but rather as cash deposited into customers bank accounts in exchange for returned devices. Macworld UK and Macerkopf.de (Google translation) confirmed that these same rules apply for the programs in France and the U.K.
“With the Reuse and Recycling Programme, you could turn your old equipment into a brand-new Mac, iPod, iPhone or iPad,” announced Apple. “Whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC computer, working or not, we’ll take it and determine if it qualifies for reuse and has a monetary value. If it does, the amount will be credited directly into your bank account. If it doesn’t, you can recycle it responsibly through one of our free recycling programs.”
The recycling program is made possible through a partnership with Dataserv, and the green measure contributes to Apple’s existing programs —as noted by its website— for recycling Macs, PCs, iPods, mobile phones, and batteries…
Apple does not often have or advertise sales on Boxing Day, a holiday recognized in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. On the holiday, retailers discount products similar to Black Friday in the United States. However, this year, Canadians are getting a Boxing Week sale on iTunes.
As of right now, Apple is running a promotion in at least the Canadian iTunes store with a selection of 69-cent songs and albums from $5.99, including: Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex, Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light, and Take Care (Deluxe Version) by Drake. Each album is selling between $5.99 and $7.99. Altogether, there are 30 or more albums offered.
There is also a selection of 69-cent song collections consisting of the top-selling songs from 2011, best songs of 2011, classic hits, and more.
It is unclear whether Apple will have a Boxing Day or Week sale in its Canadian, U.K., or Australian online and retail stores. Canadian retailers typically run Boxing Week sales from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2, but Boxing Day is traditionally recognized on Dec. 26. It appears the iTunes sale has not popped up in the U.K. or Australian stores, but let us know in the comments if it does.
We heard at the beginning of the month that BBC’s iPlayer iPad app would be getting an iPhone and iPod touch version in the coming weeks and today the app has officially landed for UK users. To accompany the release, the app will also be able to stream content over all 3G networks and now officially supports AirPlay on iOS 5.
The company’s blog post notes a ‘Live Channels’ feature will allow you to quickly switch between BBC channels just like on radio and TV, and all BBC national radio stations support background audio for multitasking. They have also made improvements to streaming by introducing HTTP Live Streaming using adaptive bitrate technologies, allowing the app to adjust your streaming quality based on your connection speed. The web version of the app accessible at bbc.co.uk/iplayer will also soon get 3G streaming capabilities. Read more