Phone-tablet gains boost to processor, internal storage
Asus is making a number of changes to its Fonepad, increasing a number of core specifications for customers in Taiwan. The 7-inch phone-tablet, seen by Electronista earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, will receive a processor upgrade from the current 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2420 to the faster 1.6GHz Z2460, also from Intel.
Company rearranges presentation of figures
Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its first-quarter results, meant to accompany the main results announcement. Notably the company has chosen to reorganize the way some figures are presented. A "greater China" segment has been split off from the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, for instance, to account for the important of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Chinese revenue is up 67 percent year-over-year to $6.83 billion.
Event set for January 25
Apple has formally announced this year's Lunar New Year sale throughout much of southeast Asia. The event, also known as "Red Friday," is scheduled for January 25, and will include discounts on Macs, iPads, iPods, and accessories, as well as free shipping. An official gift guide has been published to go with the event, but as usual Apple hasn't revealed what the exact discounts will be. Those should only be published on the 25th itself.
Manufacturer acknowledges scratch-prone coating
Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn has acknowledged production difficulties with the iPhone 5, including its new coating that appears to be prone to scratching. An unnamed official at the company told The Wall Street Journal that the iPhone 5 is "the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled."
Internet connection between countries seen as politically significant
Data has been sent over a pair of undersea fiber optic cables between China and Taiwan. Traffic between the two countries flowed through the cables for four minutes as part of a completion ceremony, with some commentators suggesting the first data connection between the two countries as having some political significance.
Separate from iTunes Match growth
(Updated with additional countries) Movie support has been added to iTunes in the Cloud in three more regions. The UK, Canada, and Columbia now have access to the feature, which ensures that movies bought on one device are automatically available for download elsewhere. Previously the countries could only use the option for music, apps, books, and music videos.
Includes music, movies, iCloud services
Apple has announced that the iTunes Store is now available in 12 new regions in Asia. These include Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Local visitors can now buy music from iTunes -- including local and international artists -- and either rent or buy movies, including titles from major studios like Fox, Paramount, Sony, Disney, and Warner Brothers.
Launch could be announced Wednesday
Apple is on the verge of announcing iTunes music, movies, and TV shows for several important Asian regions, sources say. An event is allegedly planned for tomorrow in Hong Kong; it may play host to musician Jason Mraz, as well as representatives from a number of Asian music labels. The labels are said to have been in talks with Apple as of last week, which may still be ongoing. New launch regions are believed to include Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
Transportation, wage costs seen as major issues
Apple CEO Tim Cook's suggestion of moving production lines back to the US would be very difficult in the short term, note supply chain sources in contact with DigiTimes. The people point out that most of the companies supplying parts to Apple are located in Asia, and shipping the parts back to the US could prove too expensive.
Argentina, Brazil among major launch regions
Apple is bringing the third-generation iPad to 30 more countries this weekend, the company has announced. The bulk of launches will happen on May 11th; for that day the list includes Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Curacao, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Malta, Martinique, Mauritius, Morocco, Peru, Taiwan, Tunisia, and Vietnam. Several Middle Eastern countries will get the tablet on May 12th, those being Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
LTE version OK'd, though LTE not yet available
Apple may bring the latest iPad model to Taiwan as early as May, now that the Wi-Fi and LTE versions of the third-generation product have passed certification by the National Communications Commission, reports Taipei's Economic Daily News. The testing follows mainland China's approval earlier this week of the Wi-Fi version only, and involves both the tablet itself as well as its battery and charger, as well as checking for compliance with local Wi-Fi and cellular bandwidth laws.
Move expands manufacturing, Chinese reach
Industry sources are reporting that former AMD manufacturing arm GlobalFoundries has agree to buy out ProMOS Technologies, a troubled RAM and chip manufacturer with facilities in Taichung, Taiwan. The move should help GlobalFoundries extend its influence with Chinese IC designers and other global companies that rely on integrated circuits but lack fabrication facilities of their own, DigiTimes reports.
Parallels Black Friday offerings in US
As promised, Apple has launched special Lunar New Year online sales in a handful of countries. These are notably similar to the company's Black Friday deals in the US, which were modest in scope. At the Hong Kong Apple Store, for instance, Apple is offering about 8 percent off Wi-Fi iPads, or 6 to 7 percent off 3G models.
Limited to handful of countries
Apple is running a special Lunar New Year promotion on Friday, January 6th, the company has announced. In China and Hong Kong, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines, people will be able to visit local Apple online stores for rare first-party discounts. As with the company's Black Friday sale, though, no prices are being advertised ahead of time.
Brazil, Russia, South Africa among major regions
The iPhone 4S is now available in over 20 more countries, checks show. A list includes Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. The expansion coincides with expansions of the iTunes Store and iTunes Match.
Taiwan, Malaysia, others cited as launch countries
Brazil and Russia have officially entered the ranks of countries getting the iPhone 4S on December 16th. In Brazil, the local division of carrier Claro has put up a marketing page singling out the date. Some local shops have reportedly been selling the 4S since last week, but unofficially and at extremely high prices, approaching $2,000 for a 16GB model.
Reveals plan to expand beyond manufacturing
Foxconn Group, best known for their assembly and manufacturing factories in China, is planning two new buildings on a site of 1.85 hectares (4.57 acres) in Taiwan that will see the company expand into cloud computing and software development, either for itself or on behalf of its clients, DigiTimes reports. The company plans to invest more than $63 million in constructing the site, which will eventually employ 3,000 software engineers.
TPK gains, Wintek, Sintek lose
Recent problems with Wintek touchpanels are creating ripple effects throughout the Taiwanese touchpanel industry, say industry sources contacted by Digitimes. Because of the trouble, Apple -- a key Wintek client -- is said to have have rearranged panel orders among other suppliers. The major beneficiary has allegedly been TPK, which saw revenue jump 53.7 percent month-over-month in September, or 139.7 percent year-over-year.
Asks Obama to challenge 'patriotism' of companies
The president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union, Jim Hoffa, recently singled out Apple as an example of American companies abusing outsourcing, reports note. Speaking in a CNN interview, Hoffa asked President Barack Obama to "challenge the patriotism" of US companies in a speech on jobs, also suggesting a tax plan that might get corporations to "start spending some of that money here in America and put Americans back to work."
Makes rare local change to App Store rules
Apple has quietly confirmed reports that Taiwanese App Store shoppers now have access to a seven-day refund period, according to IDG News. Local App Store terms have been amended to reflect the change, which was demanded by the Taipei city government to comply with consumer protection laws. To qualify for a refund, a person must delete all of the copies of an app in question.
Google hit with fine for breaking law
Apple has modified the Taiwanese App Store to comply with a law enforcing a seven-day trial period for online products, the Economic Times of India claims. Officials in Taipei recently ruled that both Apple and Google were in violation of the law by selling apps without recourse if the software was faulty or otherwise unwanted. It is now reportedly possible to get a refund in Taiwan if a person decides against an app within the seven-day window.
Tablets breaking reliance on Wintel platforms
Simon Lin, chairman of Taiwan-based computer ODM Wistron, suggests Apple's iPad has forced a reevaluation of the entire PC industry. Although tablet devices are not expected to completely overtake the entry-level notebook market, the executive suggests Apple's tablet has inspired companies to reconsider their historic reliance on the Wintel ecosystem.
Could point to better-than-average quarter
Trends amongst Apple's Taiwanese suppliers suggest that the company's May sales were up 87 percent year-over-year, according to Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White. If the figure is accurate, it could be an impressive showing, a 10 percent sequential increase over April versus an average 2.2 percent month-to-month change. That performance is, however, relative to another earlier White estimate, suggesting 100 percent year-over-year growth in April.
Government calls for 7-day free trial
The Taipei City government has asked Google and Apple to provide a seven-day free trial period for their respective mobile app stores. Yeh Ching-yuan, the top person in the city's Law and Regulation Commission, claims the companies are in violation of the Consumer Protection Act without free trials or a way to provide full refunds.
Apple settles into quiet expansion plans
Three more countries have been identified as getting the iPad 2 on Friday. In South America, Chile and Argentina should now have the device. Retailers for Chile include the likes of Ripley, while in Argentina people can buy from stores such as Maxim and Garbarino. In east Asia, meanwhile, the iPad 2 is now in Taiwan through resellers like Studio A.
Apple Stores still scarce in region
One of Apple's key Asian retail partners, Foxlink, is planning to double the number of Apple-exclusive stores it operates in the region. The chain currently has about 50 stores, but says it will expand to 100 locations by the end of the year. Existing outlets are spread throughout China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Feb. figures linked to pre-production of iPad 2
Collectively, Apple's largest Taiwan-based suppliers grew sales about 141 percent year-over-year in March, according to Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White. The group is considered important as an "Apple barometer," given that when Apple is doing well, suppliers scale production to meet demand. The collective approach is considered more accurate than tracking a single company like Foxconn or Wintek, as they will often derive most of their sales from clients other than Apple. Specific firms in the barometer group are unmentioned by White, allegedly because of "Apple's secrecy regarding its supply base."
Concentration stays on Europe, east Asia
Apple has formally debuted the iPad in 10 additional countries. In eastern Asia, the tablet is now available in Taiwan and South Korea, joining the likes of China and Japan. The remaining launches are all European, and include Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Currency shifts blamed
Apple suppliers based in Taiwan may be forced to raise their prices, says Bloomberg. The Taiwanese dollar has grown 2.5 percent against the US dollar during the last month, and by 7.2 percent during the last year. One supplier, Wintek, is estimating that a 1 percent increase in the exchange rate cuts 0.5 percent off its gross profit margin.
Report hints at Google TV offering
Taiwan-based Chunghwa Telecom is reportedly collaborating with Intel to develop "smart TV" products and services, along with cloud computing technology and applications, according to a Commercial Times report. Chunghwa chairman Lu Shyue-ching is said to be talking directly with Intel head Paul Otellini.
Expansion could cost $10B, employ 20,000 to start
Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan, one of the principle manufacturers of high-tech devices for companies such as Apple and Hewlett-Packard, is responding to demand by seeking to invest up to $10 billion in a new factory in the Chinese city of Chengdu, Reuters has reported.
Apple blocking Taiwanese e-mails?
People in Taiwan are upset over Apple's treatment of iPhone 4 buyers, says the China Post. In response to complaints about the device's reception problems, the company began issuing free cases to people willing to download a free app. The problem in Taiwan, says local politician Kao Chia-yu, is that Apple's system is rejecting any e-mail sent from or addressed to the region.
Taiwanese date may sync with China
Two key Asian countries should get the iPhone 4 within a matter of days, accounts say. South Korea's KT has announced a September 10th release date; pre-orders have been ongoing since last month. The carrier is reported to have planned a launch for July 30th, but been hampered by government approval. The device did get certification, however, by early August.
Restrictions should limit financial damage
Apple has bowed to pressure in Taiwan and agreed to honor mistaken pricing for the Mac mini. On July 23rd, the company accidentally listed a Mac mini with 8GB of RAM as costing $19,900 NT; the particular model is normally supposed to be priced at $47,000 NT. Some people leapt at the opportunity, only to find their orders later switched to the higher price.
Apple refuses to honor cheaper orders
A serious pricing mistake may have legal repercussions for Apple in Taiwan, reports say. On July 23rd, Apple briefly listed a Mac mini with 8GB of RAM as costing only $19,900 NT, or $619 US. A Mini in that configuration would normally cost $47,000 NT in the country, or about $1,462 US.
Most units expected to be 3G, not Wi-Fi
Apple's orders with Taiwanese manufacturers currently put iPad production at over 2 million units a month, according to a new research estimate. In particular, Apple is believed to have ordered between 2.3 and 2.35 million iPads for July alone. Production should, moreover, stay above that level for the foreseeable future, claims Digitimes Research.
Already in talks with Apple, says chairman
Chunghwa Telecom is currently looking at getting the iPad into Taiwan, according to the carrier's chairman, Lu Shyue-ching. Speaking with Reuters at the Computex PC expo, Shyue-ching says his company is "still talking" to Apple, and working "actively" at getting sales started. There is indeed a local demand for pure media consumption devices like the iPad, the chairman argues.
Apple in Taiwan labor row
Apple has become the focus of a conflict over worker rights in Taiwan, local reporters say. Labor groups today carried banners and microphones outside of Apple's Taipei office, hoping to put indirect pressure on Wintek, a major supplier of flat-panel displays. The latter is accused of firing over 600 workers in December without warning, moreover cutting salaries, and forcing some of its people to work unpaid overtime in order to fulfill rush orders.
Unlocked iPhone carriers
(Updated with Taiwan information) Apple is now listing which countries and carriers around the world are carrying unlocked versions of the iPhone, the company's website reveals. Recently added to the support page for activating an iPhone 3G is a "Carrier offers authorized unlocking" column, with a simple checkmark for each company. The page also lists whether or not a carrier offers a locked phone, which, while eliminating freedom, may reduce the cost of the hardware and/or monthly fees.
Taiwanese iPhone unlocked
Buyers of the Taiwanese iPhone will find it unlocked, reports say. Although the phone's official carrier in the country -- Chunghwa Telecom -- has in the past insisted that the phone would only work on its network, in practice, the new iPhone will accept SIM cards from other carriers' networks without any hardware or software hacks. The only tradeoff, users say, is that Chunghwa's Hami services become inaccessible.
Hami for Taiwanese iPhone
A new service package announced for the Taiwanese iPhone may suggest that Apple is allowing more freedom when it comes to carrier personalization. Local carrier Chunghwa Telecom has revealed the existence of Hami, a set of free services intended specifically for iPhone owners. People will have access to 11 services in total, including special news, weather and stock market trackers, as well as audio, video and images custom-produced solely for Hami. It is unclear whether Hami will be delivered via the web or as a custom app download.
Taiwanese iPhone in Dec.
The iPhone should launch in Taiwan sometime next month, carrier Chunghwa Telecom has announced. The company says it should be the phone's exclusive carrier on the island for the foreseeable future, and has set a rough timeframe of December 2008. No subscription plans have been announced, nor has Chunghwa provided an estimate of phone prices. The carrier will however have to compete with gray-market phones from New Zealand, Hong Kong and even the US, which have been selling for the equivalent of $667 or more.
No iPod impact in Taiwan?
Apple's newest iPods are unlikely to have much impact in Taiwan, despite the popularity of the products around the world, an industry publication observes. DigiTimes notes that the prices of NAND memory, and LCD screens between 2.8 and 3.5 inches, have allowed local companies such as T.sonic and Ergotech to release extremely cheap 8GB media players, costing between $3,000 and $3,500 NT ($94 and $109 US). Some generic "white-box" players may even cost as little as $2,500 NT, or $78 US.
BenQ on Friday revealed details of its super-slim T60, measuring just over a third of an inch (8.9mm) thick and packing a 2.2-inch 320x240 resolution LCD screen along with a 3.2-megapixel camera. Software includes a caller black list function that screens out user-selected numbers. BenQ is pitching the GSM phone as a high-quality fashion accessory akin to fountain pens and money clips.
WiMAX routers for Xohm
A new batch of routers is enroute for Sprint's WiMAX network, reports say. The routers were designed exclusively for Sprint's Xohm service by ZyXEL, and are now said to be shipping out of the latter's home country of Taiwan. The initial number of routers will be limited, say sources for DigiTimes, as Xohm is still very much in a trial period. It is currently available in Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, with broader release only being scheduled for April.
LED life extension tech
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan has demonstrated a new invention, one which may potentially extend the useful life of LCD monitors and TVs. An increasing number of displays are using LED backlighting to provide greater brightness and contrast, but the ITRI notes that after 1,000 hours of use, current backlights almost invariably begin dimming. To counter this, the new system monitors the backlight, and makes adjustments as necessary with the goal of preserving color richness.