May strike deal with Alibaba ahead of long-stalled Union Pay to move forward
[Updated with Tuesday meetings information] In a move to underscore the importance of the rapidly-growing Chinese market, Apple CEO Tim Cook has opened a social media account on Sino Weibo, and has told the Chinese press that negotiations with regional banks and credit card partners in China to bring Apple Pay to the country continue. The iPhone maker has had trouble reaching an accord with UnionPay, the largest credit-card issuer in the country, but may be bypassing the stalemate by striking a deal with Alibaba.
China set to receive Lenovo K80 from end of April
Lenovo has introduced a new smartphone destined for the Chinese market, with two impressive hardware points among the mid to high-end specifications list. Measuring 8.5mm thick, The phablet-sized Lenovo K80 houses 4GB of RAM, equalling the competing Asus ZenFone 2, while the non-removable battery holds a long-lasting 4,000mAh of charge.
Zhizen turned loose patents into Siri clone, then sued Apple as copycat
After two legal defeats, Apple has won its case on appeal in a lawsuit brought by Zhizhen Network Technology that dates back to 2012. The Beijing Higher People's Court has ruled that Apple did not violate any patents held by the Shanghai-based Zhizhen, and thus no infringement has occurred. Apple first attempted to have the Zhizhen patent, which covered only "a type of instant messaging chat bot system," invalidated, but later sued the government and the company when authorities ruled in favor of Zhizhen.
Few locations have some actual selling stock, but mostly demos rule on former retail debut
While Apple has since abandoned its former April 24 retail launch day for the Apple Watch due to a global sellout, a few select stores -- almost entirely third-party fashion boutique sellers who secured allotments early -- are said to have or have had actual stock of Apple Watches to sell. Customers hoping to score one today are lining up outside these shops, even as Apple Retail chief Dame Angela Ahrendts spent the day in China.
Companies have worked in the US before; effort is first international deal
SunPower Corporation today announced that it plans to partner with Apple to build two solar power projects, totaling 40 megawatts, in ABA Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefectures, Sichuan Province of the People's Republic of China. When complete, the two projects will be co-owned by Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development, SunPower's project development joint venture, and Apple.
Apple to open three new stores in time for Apple Watch retail debut
Apple plans to open at least three new stores in time for the retail debut of the Apple Watch -- though it is unclear if any of the stores will actually have Watches to sell, as the company has switched to an online pre-order system only ahead of the debut date. The stores will open in Hangzhou, China; Miami Beach, Florida; and Sao Paolo, Brazil. The latter two have already been officially announced for April 24 by Apple. Of these, Brazil is the only new store not to be part of the first wave of countries receiving the Apple Watch.
Negotiations not progressing with China financial institutions
As previously reported, Apple negotiations with China's UnionPay have been troublesome. Reports are circulating that the discussions continue to be mired in per-transaction fees and data center requirements, and the total lack of progress since Apple's announcement of the transaction service is what prevented the expected launch of Apple Pay in China with the release of iOS 8.3.
Report claiming people paid to attend media event as fans refuted by Samsung
Samsung has denied a report claiming it paid 500 people to attend a press conference for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in China last Friday. It is claimed the manufacturer tried to increase interest in the flagship smartphones at the event by hiring stooges to make up half the 1,000 people in the audience, all in a bid to improve its presence in the country.
Apple to open another store in Hangzhou, China on day of Apple Watch launch
As if April 24 won't be a busy enough day for Apple with the retail debut of the Apple Watch in a wave of nine countries, the company will also open a brand new second Apple Store in Hangzhou, China on that Friday as well. The new location will be a more typical mall-type store in the MixC mall in Vietiane City, and comes just three months after the first Hangzhou store in West Lake, which was a two-story standalone store.
Apple spotlights World Autism Awareness Day with spotlight on helpful apps
Apple has showcased 16 apps specifically designed for autistic persons in the Education section of the iOS App Store. Two apps in particular, Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text, are being offered at an unusual sale price of $110 and $120 respectively, half off their normal cost due to the promotion. MacNN reviewed Proloquo2Go a little over a year ago, finding it be the best in class. Other apps spotlighted help users with math, clothing choices, environment comfort, and more.
Phablet-sized high-resolution display, plastic body expected in HTC launch
HTC has leaked a phablet-sized variant of its plastic One E9+ via its Chinese website. While the One E8 was launched shortly after the One M8 flagship last year as a similar device with a cheaper casing for Asian markets, the One E9+ takes a different route, opting for a larger and higher-resolution display as well as a few other changes in specification from the One M9.
Trade-up program for older iPhones expected to kick off March 31
According to reports, Apple is set to launch an iPhone trade-in program in China on March 31, joining several existing programs in other countries around the world, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and a number of European countries, among others. Users will be able to bring in older iPhone and trade it in for store credit towards a newer model. The program has been shown to boost sales.
Microsoft to provide PCs in China running pirated Windows with free upgrade
Microsoft may end up allowing more people to use a free version of Windows 10 than previously thought. One report claims Microsoft is going to be trying to make it easier for Android users to switch to a Windows mobile device by transforming their existing smartphone, and some pirates may also end up being able to upgrade their existing Windows installation to the new release.
Big China carriers now offering latest LTE-capable iPad models for first time
Apple's sales in China are set to further increase now that the country's second- and third-largest carriers will offer the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the latest iPads, the first time China Unicom and China Telecom have been able to do so. The special iPad models, which vary slightly from the North American and European versions, will support China's proprietary TD-LTE and FDD-LTE standards, as well as other LTE versions.
Microsoft partners with Chinese companies to help spread Windows upgrade
Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 to the public in the coming months, the software maker has confirmed. Exiting its current Windows Insider technical preview program sometime this summer, the latest iteration of the operating system will be shipping in 190 countries around the world in 111 languages, with Microsoft also announcing a greater push into China.
Anti-terror legislation seen as license to spy, would have driven western companies away
A proposal that would have mandated that high-tech hardware and software have "backdoors" installed that would be accessible by the government, as well as forcing companies to provide keys for any encryption schemes used on the devices or in programs, has been suspended from proceeding through the legislative process. In addition, the proposal would have mandated all data created by Chinese users would have been required to remain in China, requiring hundreds of western services to build data centers in the country.
Cisco, Citrix also banned; government cites security concerns
A weekend move by China has stricken Apple, Intel, Cisco, Citrix, and McAfee from approved vendors for governmental purchase. Ostentibly to protect national security interests, the move appears to be more about giving state run and other Chinese companies a leg up on procurements in the country, similar to regulations inside the US government that does the same.
Company's iPhone 6 lineup took country by storm, reflecting other markets
Research firm IDC has reported that the established order of dominance in the Chinese smartphone market has crumbled, with Apple's iPhone 6 lineup pushing the Cupertino manufacturer into second place in the market, a doubling of its position from 2013. Low-cost Chinese maker Xiaomi took first place with just slightly better performance than Apple, while Samsung -- previously the unchallenged top seller -- fell to fifth place in marketshare.
First Bank, Morgan Stanley added to roster of Apple Pay banks
Apple has added 19 new banks in a February addition update. Notable additions include the Credit Union of Southern California, FirstBank, and Morgan Stanley. The new additions bring the total of banks supporting Apple's service to 84. Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed during a Goldman Sachs tech conference that over 2,000 banks and credit unions would support the service by the end of the year worldwide.
Negotiations stall, rollout of Apple Pay taking longer than Apple wants
Apple is having some difficulty with its electronic payments service rollout in China. Two giants in China's commerce ecosystem, e-retailer Alibaba and China's central bank UnionPay, are fighting the introduction of the service, reportedly over concerns about the regulatory climate in China, as well as Apple's share of each transaction.
Progress made on conflict-free smelters, fallback on overtime issues
On Wednesday, Apple updated its annual Supplier Responsibility Report, and for the most part reported continued progress in its struggle to ensure that workers in its Asian factories are not suffering abuse or dangerous conditions. The biggest change in the report is that Apple has barred recruitment firms and employers from charging workers any fee to get jobs on its assembly lines. The iPhone maker also noted that it increased supplier audits by 40 percent in 2014.
Agrees to changes in licensing terms of essential 3G, 4G patents in China
Qualcomm has agreed to pay a fine to end an antitrust investigation in China. The settlement, which involves the chip producer handing over 6.09 billion yuan (approximately $975 million) to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), as well as performing other actions, after the NDRC declared Qualcomm had violated an anti-monopoly law.
Asian version of US ad plays to Chinese market, gift-giving season
Apple has created a new version of its holiday ad "The Song" for the Chinese market in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations, which commence later this month. The wholly-reimagined ad is prominently featured on the company's China website, and is the first such ad made directly for China. Senior VP of Retail Dame Angela Ahrendts has made China a priority over the next two years as it emerges as Apple's third-largest market.
Brooklyn and Manhattan locations running behind schedule
Apple is preparing to open two stores in previously-untapped urban markets. The first is in the Chinese city of Tianjin, and will be debuting this Saturday at 10AM local time. The other is in the New York City borough of Queens; sources say the shop will open later this year on the second floor of the Queens Center Mall. One of the sources claims that the outlet will be Apple's biggest inside a New York mall, and that the company expects revenues to top high-profile locations elsewhere in the state.
Crowds gather for latest flagship China Apple Store event
Apple is opening its latest Chinese Apple Store -- this time a new, standalone store in Chongqing, the second Apple store for the city. Local media were allowed access to the interior as the previously-reported cityscape mural was removed to reveal an all-glass cylinder shape, similar to the store in Shanghai, with a glass staircase leading below ground to the actual store. This will be the third of five stores Apple has promised to open in China by the start of the Lunar New Year.
Source code mandated to be made available for inspection, other onerous rules
At the end of last year, the Chinese government approved a 22-page set of regulations for the sale of computer equipment to Chinese banks, but that will ostensibly apply to all enterprise sales. The rules require foreign companies to turn over source code, submit to audits, and build "back doors" into hardware and software so that the government can monitor devices. The new rules are expected to be the first in a series to be introduced across the next few months.
Analysts believe Apple outsold all others in China, sold more iPhones than US
In the midst of so much good news that came out of Apple in its fiscal Q1 report today, a significant milestore was also noted: the company said it had sold its one billionth iOS device, which it will keep for historical purposes. The device was said to be a 64GB Space Grey iPhone 6 Plus, and was part of the extraordinary 74.6 million iPhone sold worldwide in the holiday quarter. China sales played a major role as well, growing sales 157 percent from the previous quarter.
Giant otherwise shows strong financial performance
Beyond its official press release, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its fiscal first quarter. The document is the only one to mention iPad sales, and reveals that shipments dropped 18 percent year-over-year to 21.42 million. Revenues for the tablet fell 22 percent to $9 billion.
Remarkable reversal in Korean maker's fortunes benefitting Apple
On Tuesday, Apple will reveal its latest figures on its overall sales and general health, but analysts will again focus on one key segment -- Apple's best-selling device, the iPhone -- as the only metric that matters. Two key aspects of that metric, however, may have larger implications than just the quarterly revenues, or a temporary change in Apple's stock value. According to analysts, it is now likely that Apple is selling more iPhones to China now than it is in the US market (where it is market leader by a long way) -- and even more remarkably, that Apple is close to rivaling the total smartphones sales of rival Samsung.
Second in city will be standalone, offer Shanghai-like cylinder shape
Following in the footsteps of recent murals that "drape" under-construction standalone stores (such as the one that covered the recently-opened Hangzhou store), Apple has created another mural to cover the cylinder-shaped forthcoming Chongqing store, which is set to open this Saturday. The new location, the second for the city, will be the third of five store openings in China promised by the company before the arrival of the New Year on February 19.
First of five new Chinese Apple Stores to open before Lunar New Year
A new Apple store based on its latest two-story designs (as seen in San Francisco and elsewhere) has opened in Hangzhou, China. As is typical for such openings, lines of enthusiasts trailed around the block to experience Asia's largest and latest Apple Store, the second in a series of five that will open around China by the start of the official Chinese New Year on Thursday, February 19. The first new store was opened in Zhengzhou earlier this month to similar acclaim and excitement.
Apple leaps ahead of LG in latter's home market
Apple has seen significant surges in the Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean smartphone markets since the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September, according to a study by Counterpoint Research. The most significant performance is reportedly in South Korea, where in November Apple leapt from under 15 percent marketshare to 33 percent. That put the company ahead of LG, slotted at just 14 percent, and significantly closer to Samsung, which dropped from 60 to 46 percent. LG and Samsung are both local to Korea, and have traditionally enjoyed a homefield advantage.
Outlet arriving January 24th
Apple has posted a new video on its Chinese retail site, highlighting a mural covering the company's yet-to-be-opened Hangzhou outlet. The mural features a poem written about the city some 2,000 years ago. For Apple, the text was repainted by modern calligrapher Wang Dongling. The shop is due to open this Saturday, January 24.
Profits from stolen phones spent on cars, gold, gambling
Last week in Beijing, three men tunneled underground into a warehouse belonging to an Apple distributor and were able to steal 240 of the latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. The incident is just the latest in a series of crimes involving the latest iPhone -- resulting in a nickname for the device that translates "Kidney 6," in reference to a case in 2012 when a 17-year-old allowed one of his kidneys to be removed and sold so he could afford to buy an iPhone and iPad.
Xiaomi flagship phablets have 5.7-inch displays, aluminum and glass body
Xiaomi has launched two new mobile devices, with a pair of phablet-sized smartphones The Xiaomi Mi Note is a smartphone with a large 5.7-inch 1080p display squeezed into a 6.95mm-thick aluminum and glass body, while the Mi Note Pro keeps the design the same but slips in some component upgrades, as well as increasing the screen resolution to 1440x2560.
Chinese smartphone maker denies story, emphasizes good relations with partners
Last month, China's top smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion in investment capital to help fuel expansion plans. However, prior to its successful fundraising round, CEO Lei Jun invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to his home for dinner, where the two discussed the possibility of an investment by the social media company.
News from the video game industry for the week of January 4
Every Sunday at Electronista and MacNN, we offer a one-stop look at a few of the significant events that occurred in the video game industry during the previous week. In this week's look back in the Weekly Game Replay, we discuss a new game in the Baldur's Gate series from Beamdog, the closure of Zombie Studios, Hellblade coming to PC, the lawsuit over EA using retired NFL player likenesses in Madden NFL moving forward, and Sony delaying the release of the PlayStation 4 in China.
Chinese powerhouse will strengthen anti-counterfeit measures on Tmall, Taobao
In an announcement today on its Alizila News site, the Alibaba Group revealed a plan to work together with Microsoft to crack down on counterfeit and pirated Microsoft products from being sold on Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall online stores in China. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which commits them to jointly conduct programs to alert customers to the dangers of using unlicensed software, and help them seek restitution if they were tricked into buying pirated products.
Workers take wraps off of long-hidden location
As reported last summer, Apple's next store in Chongqing, China, will feature a smaller glass cylinder nevertheless mimicking the design of the company's flagship outlet in Shanghai, photos show. Construction workers this week dismantled a steel structure that was concealing the 30-foot-tall cylinder, which in turn tops a staircase leading to the actual store. Another similarity with Shanghai is that the Chongqing store is based in a plaza, and surrounded by taller structures.
POP3, IMAP, STMP for Gmail slowly becoming reusable in China
Access to Gmail is finally being restored in mainland China, albeit not to all of its users. After being blocked in the country for the last four days, Google is now apparently seeing more traffic to its email service from the region, though still only through alternative methods such as IMAP, STMP, and POP3 rather than via its main browser-based interface.
Six-month period of disruption culminates in China Gmail block
China has blocked Gmail, preventing users in the country from accessing the email service, according to reports. Starting from December 26, Chinese authorities have reportedly added Gmail URLs to the "Great Firewall," in what is believed to be an attempt by the country's government to reduce Gmail and Google's prominence in the region, on top of earlier censorship efforts.
Huawei Ascend GX1 runs Android KitKat, has six-inch 720p IPS display
Huawei has added another smartphone in its Ascend device range, one which is destined for sale on the Chinese market. The Ascend GX1 is a mid-ranged Android KitKat smartphone with a six-inch 720p IPS display, with the combination of its large display and slim body giving the device a high screen-to-body ratio of 80.5 percent.
Claims strict training, safety measures
Apple supplier Pegatron has issued a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, promising to investigate and fix labor abuses uncovered through a recently-aired BBC documentary. The company states that worker safety is its top priority, and that it runs strict training for both regular workers and management. It also notes the use of external inspectors in audits -- presumably referring to the teams used by Apple -- and says that it offers many ways for workers to submit feedback. During 2014, the company has allegedly resolved 94 percent of complaints within three days.
Williams tells Apple staff that company is improving labor conditions
In a new email memo to the company's UK workforce, Apple's Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams claims that he and CEO Tim Cook were "deeply offended" by a BBC Panorama documentary exposing labor abuses in the company's supply chain. Specifically, Williams and Cook are said to have been "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain, or mislead our customers in any way;" Williams charges that "Panorama's report implied that Apple isn't improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."
Ethics of Pegatron factories, Indonesian tin supply questioned
Ahead of the airing of a Panorama documentary on the subject, the BBC has published a web piece revealing the outcomes of its investigation into Apple's supply chain. The network went undercover, and charges that promises to protect the rights of workers were "routinely broken." In particular, the BBC found violations of standards for work hours, ID cards, dormitories, meetings, and underage labor at Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.
Huawei Honor 6 Plus uses dual 8MP rear camera sensors for 13MP photographs
Huawei has announced two mobile devices for the European and Chinese markets, extending its Honor range. The Honor T1 is a budget tablet with an eight-inch display packed into an aluminum unibody casing, while the Honor 6 Plus is a smartphone for China with two rear camera sensors capable of merging the two images into a single 13-megapixel photograph.
Airing Thursday in UK
At 9PM GMT on Thursday, BBC One will be airing a documentary on the working conditions in Apple's extended supply chain. The Panorama piece, titled Apple's Broken Promises, focuses initially on conditions at Chinese factories producing the iPhone 6. It also goes into detail on the sources of materials for Apple products, bringing cameras to an Indonesian tin mine where children are digging out materials by hand.
Baidu agrees to use Here maps for location services outside of China
Here, Nokia's mapping service, is going to provide content for the Android and iOS Baidu Maps app, as well as desktop maps. The agreement will allow Baidu to offer its Chinese travelers access to maps for areas outside of China for the first time, with Taiwan set to be the first country covered and others set to follow. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
South Korea, China fail to come to agreement on battery tariffs
Despite celebratory press releases issued in November by President Obama and the Chinese government trumpeting an imminent deal, international talks designed to dramatically cut technology tariffs by up to $15 billion worldwide have collapsed. The deal, had it been completed, would have reduced the price of technological consumer goods, and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide in all aspects of technology manufacture, design, and sales, according to the two governments.
Cheapest option starts at $727
Cellular-equipped editions of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 are now on sale in China, Apple has announced. Wi-Fi models have been available for some time. Notably, the tablets support unique local 3G and 4G standards -- including TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, and TD-SCDMA -- along with common variants used elsewhere. Most orders from Apple's online store are listed as shipping in one day, although Minis with TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE support are cited as shipping in three to five. Minis with conventional 3G/4G are still shipping in a day.