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Analysis: Apple struggles to take bigger bite out of China

(Reuters) - Apple Inc's share of China's booming smartphone market has risen sharply in the past two years, but for now the company that sells the iconic iPhone is being outpaced by nimble rivals.

It is not that Apple's iPhones and iPads are losing favour among Chinese consumers. The iconic products are flying off the shelves at Apple's five flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing, unauthorized sellers, and even from fake shops dressed up to look eerily like the real thing.

The problem facing Apple seems to be timing.

Network technology is not sufficient to fully support iPhone and iPad capabilities, while other handset makers supply phones that support the various mobile standards used in China.

A tie up with another telecoms service provider would help catapult Apple sales. But the biggest by far, China Mobile Ltd with more than 600 million subscribers, may not have matching technology in place commercially until late 2012 or 2013.

In the absence of that, Apple's relatively rigid global pricing structure and limited range of models are allowing more flexible competitors to grab market share at a faster pace.

Apple's smartphone market share has more than doubled since the first quarter of 2010, but others are doing better. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's market share has more than quadrupled over the same period.

"Apple's strategy in China is to capture the higher-end segment, which is a big enough market for it to tackle," said Jane Wang, an analyst at UK research firm Ovum.

"It has cut prices of some of its products, which will definitely be more affordable for some budget-conscious consumers, but it's only going to go so far in lowering prices."

China has more than 950 million mobile phone users, more than Europe's entire population, and its economy is expected by many to overtake the United States as the world's largest in 10 to 15 years.

Although Apple makes laptops, desktops and iPods, it generated about half its sales from iPhones in the fourth quarter, making the product key to success in China.

The U.S. technology giant's sales in Greater China -- mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan -- have been skyrocketing. Fourth-quarter revenue increased four-fold to $4.5 billion, out of a global total of $28 billion.

Demand is so strong in China that smuggling of real iPhones and sales of fakes are on the rise. Copy-cat stores masquerading as real Apple outlets -- and selling genuine Apple products -- have sprouted up everywhere from Beijing in the northeast to Kunming in the southwest.

PRICE WARS

The relatively high price of iPhones is a major deterrent, giving market inroads to rivals such as Samsung and local rivals Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, analysts said.

Chinese consumers can typically buy a smartphone from other brands at below 2,000 yuan ($308).

A basic iPhone 4 costs double that -- 3,988 yuan in China. Apple is selling its lower-end iPhone 3GS at 2,888 yuan, which will likely draw some budget-conscious consumers.

But it has not been enough.

In the third quarter, Huawei overtook Apple as the No.3 smartphone vendor in China.

Apple now trails Nokia Oyj, Samsung and Huawei, which all have a wider range of products targeting various segments of customers.

In fact, Apple's smartphone market share shrank to 10.4 percent in the third quarter from 13.3 percent in the previous quarter. Samsung's shot up to 19.2 percent from 14.6 percent and Huawei to 11 percent from 7.3 percent.

Nokia, the market leader, is fast-losing traction. It holds top slot with 26.8 percent share but that has dropped from 36.2 percent in the previous quarter and 71.4 percent a year earlier.

"At the end of the day, Apple will only go so far to lower the pricing because if they go too low, it's going to damage their iconic brand," said Michael Clendenin, managing director at China-focused technology advisory firm RedTech Advisors in Shanghai.

DIFFERENCE

The real missing link in Apple's approach to China is a tie up with China Mobile, the country's top mobile carrier by far, analysts said.

Apple's current partner, China Unicom, is a distant second with 192.4 million mobile subscribers.

"I think a good strategy for Apple is to try and seal deals as soon as possible with the other two China telecom operators," said Ovum's Wang.

However, so far negotiations with China Mobile and fixed-line giant China Telecom, which also has a mobile network with 120 million subscribers, have been protracted.

The main sticking point has been the terms of the agreements, which could range from revenue sharing that would allow both parties to split money from data charges to simple bulk purchases.

However, even with another partner, Apple must contend with another barrier -- China's slow uptake of 3G technology.

Only about a tenth of China's almost 1 billion mobile phone subscribers use 3G. Most users make phone calls and send text messages.

The best immediate option for Apple may be China Telecom, which uses a CDMA technology that the iPhone can use.

China Mobile though uses its homegrown proprietary 3G technology called TD-SCDMA. To tap that, Apple would have to design an iPhone just for China Mobile's network.

"It's quite meaningless for China Mobile and Apple to sign an agreement based on the current TD-SCDMA network. Using the 4G TD-LTE technology that China Mobile is developing will be more feasible," said Kevin Wang, research firm iSuppli's director of China research.

China Mobile is conducting trials on its 4G network, with a commercial launch expected to take place late next year or early 2013. Its commercial 4G rollout will be a precursor to an agreement with Apple, analysts say.

"Apple still has the upper hand. Even though Jobs is not around anymore, Apple's products will still remain quite popular, so they have more bargaining power," said Wang from Ovum.

The slide in Apple's market share may prove temporary or until it can sign a deal with a Chinese telecoms network. Similar deals in other countries have propelled sales sharply.

In the meantime, Chinese have found a way to own an Apple iPhone and still subscribe to China Mobile services. In fact, 10 million China Mobile subscribers use an iPhone because some vendors will cut the service provider's SIM card so that it can fit into an iPhone.
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Google+, iPhone 5, Steve Jobs Pace Google Zeitgeist

Google's Zeitgeist went live Dec. 15, providing snapshots of dozens of top 10 lists for the world's most scintillating, fastest-rising queries.
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Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) 2011 Zeitgeist of popular, fast-rising search terms ranged from the usual gamut of muckety-muck celebrities to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Irene and the earthquake that struck Japan.

The Zeitgeist, which culls data from billions of searches for the year, was also a hotbed for high-tech news. That's the focus of this report.

The Google+ social network followed one-hit Web wonder Rebecca Black, capturing the second spot on the global rising query list. Google+ launched to limited field-testing June 28 and has seen its star rise, thanks to a constant deluge of feature updates.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) commanded three of the top 10 fastest-rising queries worldwide, led by the iPhone 5 at No. 6. As Apple fans learned Oct. 4, what was supposed to be the iPhone 5 was actually branded the iPhone 4S, a revamped iPhone 4 with a superior camera to the iPhone 4 and the Siri intelligent assistant application.

Apple founder Steve Jobs, who passed away in October, and the iPad 2, which was thinner, lighter and included a camera, rounded out the top 10 fastest-rising searches at 9 and 10, respectively.

In the U.S., the fastest-rising queries for technology were dominated by Apple products. Start with iCloud at No. 1, followed by OSX Lion, iPad 2, the iPod Touch 5g and the iPad 2 as the first, hot 5 searches. Rounding out the top 10 were MacBook Pro 2011, Adobe Reader X, Steve Jobs, TouchPad and Toshiba tablet.

Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire led the fastest-rising consumer electronics searches worldwide, followed by the iPhone 4S, the Sidekick 4G phone from T-Mobile and HP's TouchPad, which was heavily discounted to $99 after the company bailed on it months ago.

The SPB Shell 3d user interface application for Android phones, iPad 2, HTC's Sensation smartphone, the Samsung Nexus Prime, which turned out to be the Galaxy Nexus Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone, Sony's NGP, which materialized as the PlayStation Vita, and the as-yet-unreleased iPad 3, rounded out the top 10 hottest consumer tech queries.

For its eleventh Zeitgeist finding, Google made it easier for readers to compare search terms across categories and added new infographics, as well as a video overview of the search terms that "captivated the world this year," Google Fellow Amit Singhal said in a corporate blog post.

Check the Zeitgeist out here to see all of the top queries on Google, whose search engine is used by 65 percent of U.S. users, and more in many other countries.

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iPhone 4S hits store shelves in Taiwan

Taipei, Dec. 16 (CNA) Apple Inc.'s latest smartphone iPhone">iPhone 4S went on sale in Taiwan at 9 a.m. Friday, with people lining up outside stores of Taiwan's three largest telecom operators in Taipei several hours ahead of time. At 8:30 a.m., there were scores of people waiting outside outlets in bustling eastern Taipei, hoping to be among the first in Taiwan to obtain the gadget. David Hsu, 27, who asked his friend to start queuing for him at about midnight, was at the head of the line outside a store of Chunghwa Telecom, the nation's top telecom carrier. Hsu told the Central News Agency that he had only just arrived back in Taipei from an unexpected business trip to Taichung, adding that he had been planning to queue himself. Praising Apple products as being user-friendly, the iPhone">iPhone 4 user said that all the "hard work" was not for him but his mother. "It's a gift for my 58-year-old mom," he said with a smile, adding that all his family love and use Apple products. Allen Chen, 18, was at the head of the line outside a store belonging to the Far Eastone Telecommunications Co. Ltd, the third-largest telecom operator in Taiwan. He told the CNA that he had saved for half a year in order to get his first-ever smartphone. "I've always wanted one and now I can finally have one," he said. Hsu and Chen were happy, but they might be jealous of a lucky man who won a free iPhone">iPhone 4S by only asking a question. Taiwan Mobile Co., the nation's No. 2 telecom service provider, hosted a competition at 8:30 a.m. featuring the phone's voice activated virtual assistant Siri. Whoever was able to make Siri say "iPhone">iPhone at myfone" first would take a new smartphone home for free. Vic Ho, 32, who was only the second person to attempt the challenge, won the phone, valued at over-NT$20,000 (US$659), by politely asking Siri: "Can you repeat after me, iPhone">iPhone at myfone?" The new handset is equipped with a dual-core processor and its release has been eagerly anticipated by Apple fans and young smartphone users in Taiwan. The crowds lining up for Apple's latest gadget, however, were not as big as those who lined up at midnight when iPhone">iPhone 4 debuted last September, as this time round all the three telecom operators decided not to launch the product at a single venue, but at over 1,000 outlets nationwide simultaneously. Since early December, when the three telecom operators launched pre-order certificates, more than 400,000 consumers have signed up for an iPhone">iPhone 4S, including over 200,000 potential buyers signing up for Chunghwa Telecom's services. The local media has reported that scalpers created bogus accounts to lodge pre-orders in an attempt to resell the certificates online with price tags ranging between NT$3,000 and NT$4,000. It is said to be the last iPhone">iPhone project that the Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs worked on. Apple fans have interpreted "4S" as meaning "for Steve," paying tribute to the tech guru. (By James Lee)
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Fresh iPhone Apps for Dec. 15: Grand Theft Auto 3, Sonic CD, Snoticles, Breakout: Boost

It’s a day of big-time video game releases in the iTunes App Store. Grand Theft Auto 3, one of the most controversial (and extremely fun) games ever created, just landed this week for the incredibly low price of $5. It leads this week’s gaming selection, followed closely by an iOS version of Sonic CD, the platforming classic from 1993 from Sega. After that is a new Adult Swim title in the Angry Birds style called Snoticles, and a new brick-breaker title from Atari called Breakout: Boost.
Grand Theft Auto 3 (iPhone, iPad) $4.99

The controversial third-person action game that has riled up parents and politicians for 10 years has finally jumped the gap from consoles to Apple’s iOS platform. That’s right, this is THE Grand Theft Auto III, the game in which you can steal cars, pick up prostitutes and get hunted down by the cops. It’s the PlayStation 2 title that took the world by storm, shrunk down to the size of your iPhone or iPad. Obviously, it’s more for adults than children.

Developer Rockstar Games has optimized the game for iOS with new touch controls and Retina-supporting HD graphics. It also has a huge amount of content – everything that was available for PlayStation 2 players way back in 2001, which is hours and hours of missions, a huge locale to explore in Liberty City, and lots of hidden stuff to discover. If you like video games at all, you owe it to yourself to give Grand Theft Auto 3 a try.
Sonic CD (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Another classic ported from the video game consoles of yesterday is Sonic CD, hailing from all the way back in 1993. Optimized for touch controls and packing a ton of classic side-scrolling Sonic action, this is a must-have for platforming fans and a great port from a developer, Sega, whose other games brought to iOS from other platforms can sometimes leave something to be desired.

Sonic CD has been optimized for iOS and touchscreen controls and packs HD Retina graphics for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users. It also includes both the original U.S. soundtrack, as well as the Japanese soundtrack for the game. On top of all that, Sega has secured Game Center support, which brings leaderboards, achievements and friends lists into the equation, too.
Snoticles (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Taking a page from physics-based arcade games like Angry Birds is Snoticles, a game in which you control as many as four somewhat gross cartoony characters in a title that’s all about flinging things at other things to earn points. All four of your heroes (ones a pimple, ones a ball of snot and the other two are kind of unidentifiable) throw different implements of destruction and their weapons have different properties. You’ll have to use the right tool for the job to get maximum points as you clear each level of enemies by blowing up the “alpha” enemy in each one.

Snoticles packs “dozens” of levels across five separate worlds, each mixing an Angry Birds-style arcade feel with puzzles to solve. It also packs Game Center support, providing you with leaderboards and achievements that allow you to check your abilities against those of other players.
Breakout: Boost (iPhone, iPad) Free (with $0.99 in-app purchase)

There are lots of brick-breaker titles in the iTunes App Store, but not all of them are free – or at least partially free. Atari’s Breakout: Boost, on the other hand, comes with its first five levels for free. It also packs plenty of classic arcade action. You control a plate with by sliding your finger around, bouncing a ball toward the top of the screen and using it to break a bunch of bricks planted up there. The more you blast, the more points you earn.

After the first five free levels, you can purchase another 65 stages for $0.99. You also can earn a mess of power-ups in true brick-breaker fashion to add to your score, and see how you stack up against other players thanks to Game Center achievements and leaderboards.
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GTA 3 for iPhone and Android out now: Get it here

UPDATE: We’ve had reports that GTA 3 Mobile is working fine on the Samsung Galaxy S2.

Grand Theft Auto III has landed on the iPhone App Store and Android Market (for selected devices). It’s a landmark day for any gamer who looks back fondly on the PS2 era, and a true technical achievement. Want it? Get it from us here and now…

As previously reported, GTA 3 has been ported in its entirety to mobiles to mark its 10th anniversary. The controls have been very sensibly converted to touchscreen buttons in such a way as to make sense, while all the music and radio stations you remember are here too.

GTA 3 Mobile is available on the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S and the following Android handsets: Droid X2, HTC Evo 2, LG Optimus 2X, Motorola Atrix.

GTA 5 Official!

It’s also available for the iPad and the following Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

GTA 3 Mobile is priced at the incredibly reasonable £2.99, so what are you waiting for? You can own a slab of gaming history by following the links below or scanning these QR codes:








The download is around 700Mb so you’ll need to be connected to WiFi, but we guarantee it’ll be the best 700Mb you’ve ever downloaded. If you buy it, let us know what you think.
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ArtRage for iPhone Fun Painting App Now Launched Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/12/15/prweb9044574.DTL#ixzz1ghqkYkdE

Based on ArtRage Studio Pro Advanced Painting Realistic Technology with Special Introductory Pricing of $.99 -- Cool Tool Lets Users Paint on Their iPhone Everywhere They Go Highly Anticipated ArtRage for iPhone Available for iPhone 4 or Later

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) December 15, 2011

Ambient Design www.artrage.com, the leading award-winning creator of realistic art painting software for Mac & Windows, launched today ArtRage for iPhone powerful physical paint simulation software for the iPhone 4 or later. Based on the award-winning ArtRage Studio and Studio Pro, ArtRage for iPhone provides an unprecedented creative experience on the go that lets users of all skill levels explore natural painting on the iPhone for a live simulation of the properties of real paint.

Express Your Artistic Side with Your iPhone

Priced at only $.99 for a limited time, ArtRage for iPhone lets users express their artistic side with their iPhone with easy to use painting and drawing tools that work like the real thing. It not only places color on a canvas, but it also keeps track of how much paint there is and how "wet" it is, so colors can blend under the brush. It also incorporates canvas grain and drier pigment textured effects and allows Layers to be added to the painting so users can work on individual elements without damaging others. Photos can be imported to smear around like oil paint or used as a Tracing Image that can be overlaid on the canvas.

Designed Specifically for the iPhone - Actual Live Simulation of Properties of Real Paint

Designed specifically for the iPhone, ArtRage for iPhone is compact, maximizing the creative space without hiding critical functions, such as tool and color selection. As the user paints, controls move out of the way so they don't have to stop and manually adjust panels. In addition, with support for Multi-Touch gestures, important shortcuts are also available without the need of any interface. "ArtRage for iPhone fits the iPhone perfectly as a painting platform," said Uwe Maurer, Ambient Design. "It's not special effects software, it's an actual live simulation of the properties of real paint."

Demos of ArtRage for iPhone at CES 2012 Available

The different versions of ArtRage will be shown interacting across iOS, Mac OSX, and Windows platforms at CES 2012, Las Vegas, January 10-13, 2012 at a private suite to be announced. Please contact Karen Thomas/Eva Yutani, Thomas PR to schedule an appointment kthomas(at)thomaspr(dot)com / eyutani(at)thomaspr(dot)com.

ArtRage for iPhone Features:
Real Oil Color:

Oil Brush with thickness and smearing.
High quality strokes respect the volume of paint on the canvas, letting artists play with texture as well as color.
Palette Knife for spreading and blending pigment.
Paint Tube for laying down thick blobs of oil.

Sketching Tools that Interact with the Canvas:

Pencil for sketching or shading.
Eraser and Flood Fill.
Each tool comes with a set of variant types for different effects.
Inking Pen with auto-smoothing for crisp illustration.
Crayon for waxy shaded lines.

Tracing Images:

Export PNG or JPG by email, or export to the Photos App.
Import photos to a new file or a layer.
Use the camera as a source for New Files, References, Layers, or Tracing Images.

Layers:

Add Layers to the canvas with easy adjustment of opacity and visibility.

Easy Access to Tools & Colors:

Easy access pods in the corners provide important functionality without getting in the way.
Elements vanish as the user paints so they can paint underneath without having to stop.
Multi-Touch provides instant shortcuts for canvas manipulation and Brush Size.
Quick Reference and Help cover the basics of the application.
Tap and drag tool selection allows tool selection in one quick gesture.
Unlimited Undo/Redo.


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iPhone 4 owners are warned about gang

A GANG of iPhone 4 thieves is on the prowl in Bishop’s Stortford, police have warned.

iPhone 4They are urging shoppers and workers to keep their valuables under wraps after six of the £400 smartphones were stolen in a spate of thefts from shops and other businesses in the town.

At Lords Property, the estate and letting agent in South Street, a receptionist’s iPhone was stolen after she was distracted by two eastern European women wearing headscarves.

They asked for directions, placed a map over the phone on the reception desk and then palmed the phone when they retrieved the map.

The theft happened between 2pm and 2.20pm on Tuesday last week.

On Saturday, two shops at opposite ends of the town were hit in the space of an hour. At Hopscotch Kids, in North Street, an iPhone was stolen from the counter between 11am and noon. And at All Occasions Party Shop, in Station Road, an iPhone was stolen shortly after midday after a sales assistant was distracted. Two eastern European men aged 20 to 30 are believed to be responsible for this theft.

In addition, a man’s iPhone was stolen from his jeans pocket at the Bacchus lounge bar in Anchor Street early on Sunday.

Sgt David Cooke, of Stortford police, warned: “There have been six recent offences where iPhones have been the target. I would urge shoppers to keep their valuables in their pockets and bags at all times.”

n A Samsung Galaxy mobile was stolen from behind the counter of Interstyle Fireplaces in The Dells, South Street, last Thursday at 10.30am.
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Verizon soaking high end Android buyers to make up for iPhone subsidies

Apple has negotiated generous subsidies from mobile carriers to sell iPhones at lower upfront prices, but Google and its Android licensees haven't, leaving carriers such as Verizon to drive up the price of higher end Android phones to make up the difference.

The result is a price disparity that favors the various iPhone models by $100 to $200 over Android devices with a similar hardware cost. That's helping Apple keep its margins up even in a market glutted with competition from scores of Android models from various makers.

It also leaves carriers and other hardware makers fighting over the scraps of profit left, as most Android buyers aim toward cheap, low end models. Carriers like Verizon know that buyers interested in high end Android phones will pay virtually anything, so they're marking those models up to be half again as much as Apple's new iPhone 4S.

Android costs more, not less

When Google first began touting Android as an open source platform, pundits predicted that the wide variety of Android licensees would offer cheaper phones with differentiated, innovative features that Apple simply couldn't compete with. Instead, Apple has consistently offered more attractive hardware at the same or lower prices, in part by negotiating higher subsidies in exchange for access to the iPhone.

For years, Apple has set a standard entry price of its newest smartphones at $199, with higher end models available with more storage. This year however, Verizon has set a new contract price for its high end Android phones at $299.

Both the Motorola Droid RAZR and the just released Google-branded Samsung Galaxy Nexus are $299 with a two year Verizon contract, and both are listed as costing $649 without a contract. In contrast, Apple's 16GB iPhone 4S is offered for only $199, even though it costs the same $649 without a contact. Apple is getting a $450 subsidy, compared to just $350 for Android licensees Motorola and Samsung.

Apple's $450 subsidy remains the same across the iPhone 4S range of 32 and 64GB models. The 8GB, $99 Verizon iPhone 4 has a full retail price of $549, also giving it the same $450 subsidy.

This has the effect of making the base model iPhones appear cheaper, and the higher end iPhones with increased storage appear to be about the same price as the base model, high end Android offerings.
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A note to our readers GigaOM has updated its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Review the updates here. By continuing to use the site, you are agreeing to our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. This notice should appear only the first time you visit this site. Close x iPhone 4 led U.S. smartphone gains in 2011

Apple’s iPhone 4 was the leading mobile phone in the U.S., despite being a phone launched mid-way through 2010, according to a new Nielsen report. The iPhone helped propel smartphone usage in the U.S. to new heights during the past year.

Smartphone penetration rose significantly compared to two years ago, Nielsen noted. In 2009, just 18 percent of mobile phone users were packing smart devices, while in 2011, that number had risen to 44 percent of U.S. residents, with more than half of adults between 18 and 34 counted among them. The iPhone in general has done a lot to propel that adoption.

Credit: Nielsen

Of individual device vendors, Apple is still very much on top, despite the fact that Android as a platform has eclipsed its market share on devices. Apple’s iPhones account for 28.6 percent of all postpaid smartphone subscribers, compared to 15.8 percent for BlackBerry, the next closest competitor, and 15.8 percent for HTC, the Android handset-maker with the largest manufacturer share. All together, Android devices accounted for 44.2 percent of U.S. postpaid plans between August and October 2011.

Nielsen takes its results from monthly surveys of more than 300,000 consumers, as well as data from devices belonging to users who opted into market research and data from phone bills from 65,000 volunteers.
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2012 Looking Copacetic for iPhone, iPad Sales

Apple's iPhone and iPad will be seeing increased competition in the coming year, but it's not likely to rain on the company's parade. Analyst forecasts for sales of the devices appear to run the gamut from excellent to stupendous. The latest -- and perhaps most bullish -- assessment came from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, who told clients that iPhone sales could hit the 190 million mark next year.


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Morgan Stanley is decidedly bullish about Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) near future. It will sell more iPhones and iPads than expected over the next few quarters, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty told clients in a research note that has been widely reported in the press. Her findings were based on the results of an AlphaWise survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers over the age of 18, conducted the week after Thanksgiving.

Shipments of the iPhone may reach 36 million this quarter, Huberty said, rather than the 30 million she forecast earlier, with unit sales for the year soaring to an estimated 190 million.

Strong sales of the iPad are also expected. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents said they intended to buy an iPad next year, she noted, while only 8 percent already owned one. That suggests up to 63 million purchases, compared with the 26.5 million iPads that have been sold in the six quarters it's been available.

Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire is not a significant threat to the iPad, in Huberty's view -- it's sales have shaved a mere 4 points off Apple's take.

If Apple were to cut its iPad price by US$100, it could expect to sell 15 million more iPads, she ventured.

Huberty did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Increased Competition

Not all sales projections for the iPhone and the iPad are as optimistic as Morgan Stanley's.

"My forecasts for Apple are a bit lower than these, but Apple has always shown that it has the ability to surprise," Allen Nogee, principal analyst for wireless technology at In-Stat, told MacNewsWorld.

Apple will be facing more competition going forward, Nogee pointed out.

"We have Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Phone kicking in, Bada from Samsung, and a few others, but I think Apple, with its one-smartphone-at-a-time philosophy, can keep up with the best of them," said Nogee.

Where Apple lags is in the lower end of the market, a segment that remains very vibrant, he observed. "The low-cost area, [with] smartphones costing $150 or less without subsidies ... will be one of the fastest-growing segments going forward, and Apple doesn't compete there yet."
Lower Expectations

Far more conservative than Morgan Stanley's estimates are ABI Research's projections. "We're seeing a potential 25 million for this quarter," Michael Morgan, senior analyst, mobile devices, told MacNewsWorld. "For 2012, we're seeing 120 million. That's still a sizable gain."

Although ABI's projections are lower than Morgan Stanley's, "they did a good job on their research, and I know why their numbers are high," said Morgan. "They used a survey of intents to buy. If you use intents to buy, you could come up with that number."

However, everyone who intends to buy doesn't actually buy, he emphasized. "The laws of economics still apply, even to Apple. Half to 75 percent of intents actually follow through."

It's doubtful that RIM's new phones will put much of a dent in Apple, said Morgan, although they're still a big unknown.

"RIM has officially become the dark horse," he said. "They're developing their own platform Integrated solutions for turnkey web stores and e-commerce platforms. Learn more. and it looks better than its old platform. They're hooking onto the Android ecosystem with one-click porting. That means they won't have to develop their own ecosystem."

Still, the really competitive pushback against apple will come from Samsung, in Morgan's view.
Par for Apple's Course

Generally speaking, the Morgan Stanley numbers -- even thought they are large -- are not getting criticized on the analyst beat.

"Nothing is actually surprising here," Steven Savage, technology project manager and Geek 2.0 blogger, told MacNewsWorld. "Apple has a good reputation -- the iPhone has expanded to more outlets and networks."

There is little that could substantially change this outlook, maintained Savage.

"Apple has a lot of established market share and mind share," he said. "It'd take a huge shakeup to make people stop thinking about Apple -- and Apple doesn't do huge shakeups."

New tablets could possibly affect the outlook, he conceded.

"The Kindle Fire is certainly a player, though initial reviews are mixed," said Savage. "I don't see any new phones challenging Apple. I'm not betting on RIM at all."
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Shoot 360-degree iPhone 4/4S videos with Kogeto Dot and GoPano Micro

The iPhone camera does a lot on its own, but it can’t do everything. Shooting 360-degree, panoramic videos is one example. But addressing that missing feature is as simple as snapping a specially designed lens onto your phone's camera. I took a look at two available options—Kogeto’s $79 Dot and EyeSee360’s $80 GoPano Micro—to see how they fare. Both are compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S, and are used in conjunction with iOS apps that allow you to shoot, view, and share your interactive panoramic videos.

The Dot is a simple accessory with a plastic lens and a snap-on clip that attaches to the back of your iPhone. The lens makes it possible to capture a video with a 360-degree view. Though the results are far from professional-grade, it’s a fun novelty item, especially for people who like to take and share casual videos of lively events such as concerts, sporting contests, and parties.

To use Dot, you’ll need to snap it onto the back of your phone and download Kogeto’s accompanying Looker iPhone app. All Dot videos must be shot in the app’s Shoot mode, which currently allows three minutes maximum of footage. Since the lens is shooting a 360-degree panorama, the video looks like a warped circle of your surroundings—you won’t be able to see what you’re shooting (which is not really a problem with the app since you’ll need to hold the phone face-down while shooting anyway. More on that later.) Once you’re done, the app quickly de-warps your video and uploads it into your Looker library.

On the iPhone app, you can watch your video in an interactive mode where you swipe through to change the viewing angle. If you load the video onto a computer—by sharing via Facebook, Twitter, email, or by uploading it to Kogeto’s Dotspots website—you will also be able to view it in panoramic mode, which lets you see the entire scene in one wide shot. Kogeto plans an update to Looker so that you can switch videos into panoramic mode in the app as well.


Warped Shoot: In the Looker app’s Shoot mode, you'll see a wormhole view of your scene on the screen. But since you have to hold the iPhone facedown, when shooting, you're really not seeing anything.

Dot captures the scene around its lens, so if you hold the phone vertically as you normally would when shooting video, Looker will de-warp your video strangely; plus, you’ll mostly capture video of the ceiling and floor. Instead, you need to hold the phone face down when shooting, making sure not to grip your iPhone’s edges; otherwise, your fingers will have a starring role in your video.

To take videos that make any sense and don’t include your fingers, you need to place the iPhone face-down on a flat surface, or hold it flat on your palm. The latter method doesn’t feel very natural and isn’t the best way to keep your iPhone safe from drops while walking. Since Dot isn’t compatible with any cases, this is particularly problematic. When I was shooting video on the San Francisco streets, I just ended up letting my fingers get into the shot. As noted above, this means you can’t actually see what you’re shooting while you’re shooting.

Dot is super easy to clip on and take off of your iPhone, and comes with a microfiber carrying case that doubles as a lens-cleaning cloth. It's available in four colors—black, pink, red, and green. Overall, it captures decent-quality videos. The main problem with video quality is that the plastic lens creates a reflection in every video that varies depending on the lighting. And while the accessory is designed to be very secure when attached to the iPhone, the actual process of capturing videos feels clumsy. If you can get past having to hold your phone in an awkward position, Kogeto’s Dot does a pretty good job at shooting 360-degree videos. Here's a sample video:

To see more videos shot with Dot, check out Kogeto's Dotspots site.
GoPano Micro

EyeSee360’s GoPano Micro is a miniature version of the company’s GoPano lens for digital cameras, made just for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Like Kogeto’s Dot, GoPano Micro lets you shoot panoramic 360-degree videos by attaching a plastic lens to your iPhone’s camera. In order to use GoPano Micro, you need to attach a custom-designed case that comes with the lens. Once that’s on your iPhone, you plug the lens into the case, download the GoPano app, and start shooting.

The GoPano Micro case is well designed—all ports and buttons are easily accessible, and it offers decent protection for the back and edges of the iPhone. I felt totally comfortable using the case, instead of my standard Speck CandyShell case, during the time I tested out the lens. Another bonus with this system is that the lens is attached to the case in a way that makes it possible to capture 360-degree video while holding the phone vertically. You can comfortably grip the phone as you capture video, making for steadier shots.

Full-Frontal Action: In GoPano's Record mode, you can see a dewarped shot of what's directly in front of you. You won't be able to switch the view to face any other directions though.

To shoot with GoPano Micro, you'll need to download the accompanying GoPano app. Tap the Record Video button and you’ll be taken to the video capture screen. The great thing about the GoPano app is that it provides a live, de-warped view of what you’re shooting. You’ll only be able to see what’s directly in front of you, but even this helps, since you’ll know how high or low to frame your shot.

Once you’re done, the video is instantly saved—there’s virtually no wait for the app to de-warp or load the footage into your video library. You can share the video by uploading it to the GoPano website, copying it to your iPhone Camera Roll, or by sharing it via iTunes file sharing. (In order to share on GoPano’s website, you will need to sign up for an account and enter in a registration code that comes with the device.)

When you’re watching videos on the app, you can either swipe to change viewing angles, or just pan your iPhone from left to right. The latter feature makes watching the video much more immersive, adding that feeling of “being there” to the experience—you can also better control the speed at which you move across the scene than with finger swiping. If you want to watch a video in full panoramic mode, you’ll need to save it to your Camera Roll, which will export it as a flat scene with a 360-degree veiw.

The way the accessory is designed makes it nearly impossible to get any fingerprints on the lens. The design also leads to great video quality—GoPano Micro captures clear, reflection-free shots of a scene. On the flip side, it can be hard to clean the lens if you do happen to get a lot of dust or an unfortunate spill onto it. Luckily, the GoPano Micro does come with a microfiber pouch that can be used as a cleaning cloth for such situations.

The biggest drawback to the GoPano Micro is the way the lens fits into its case. You need to push the lens into the case’s camera opening, which is somewhat difficult on its own. And when the lens is plugged in, it’s not very secure. Give your iPhone a quick shake and the lens will fall out of the case. I can imagine in crowded places, where you’re likely to bump into people, that it’ll be hard to keep the lens securely on the phone's camera. But as long as you pan slowly and hold your iPhone steadily, there won’t be a problem.
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Report: Siri ports to iPhone 4 now legal

The one feature that really, truly distinguishes the iPhone 4S from its predecessor, the iPhone 4, is the digital-assistant software Siri. To this point, it’s been possible--but illegal --to shoehorn the helpful program onto the older phone.

With Apple’s latest update, however, Cult of Mac reports that home hackers will be able to pull the files for a Siri port without running afoul of Apple’s copyright.


 Dozens of new smartphones are vying for consumers’ attention. Learn about the unique features of some of the hottest phones on the market.


In the past, those looking to put the program on anything that wasn’t an iPhone 4S had to resort to methods such as illegally tricking Apple’s servers into recognizing their older devices as the latest handset. Now, the report says, thanks to the iOS 5.0.1 update that Apple pushed out on Thursday, the files that operate Siri are wide open.

News of this possibility was first tweeted by a prominent hacker who is part of a group that makes software for jailbroken iPhones.

Cult of Mac says it’s not clear why, exactly, the files have been suddenly made accessible, and notes that it’s possible that Apple will put up its walls again in its next software update.

But, for now, the doors are open to the hacking community to make Siri on older Apple devices a legal possibility.
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