Posts Tagged ‘Apple’s’
Welcome to The After Math, where we attempt to summarize this week’s tech news through numbers, decimal places and percentages
We’ve been getting our first unfiltered experiences with Google Glass this week, which makes it the perfect time to go over some of the salient points up until now. At the same time, Apple sold more hardware, more apps and made even more money — it was largely another good quarter for the Cupertino coffers. Add in a million-second game show and there are more than enough numbers to play around with in this week’s After Math.
Google Play, Apple’s App Store Might Face “Legal Undertakings” In OFT’s Investigation Of Freemium Games For Kids
The freemium kids’ app party that has seen some parents left with hefty bills because of their kids’ use of games could be heading for a sticky end — at least in the U.K. The Office of Fair Trading has announced a six-month investigation into whether children are being “unfairly pressured or encouraged to pay for additional content in ‘free’ web and app-based games”.
The OFT says in a press release that it cannot identify the companies that are subject to investigation but a spokesman confirmed to TechCrunch it is contacting Apple and Google as part of this process — being the proprietors of the two largest app stores: the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Once the investigation has concluded — and if the OFT is unhappy with what it learns and the discussions it’s had — the spokesman said it “can seek legal undertakings from court”. Companies subsequently ignoring any court directions could face “an unlimited fine”, he added.
The OFT is concerned that developers are designing children’s content to deliberately encourage kids to make payments after the initial free download/access. It’s not citing any examples or naming any problematic apps at this point but it’s not hard to find instances that are likely to have triggered the investigation — such as the five-year-old British boy who accidentally made in-app purchases totalling £1,700 in 15 minutes playing Zombies vs Ninja. Or the British six-year-old girl who amassed a £900 bill in half an hour on the My Little Pony app.
The OFT points out that “direct exhortations” (ie strong encouragement) to children to make purchases themselves, or ask another adult to do something that results in a purchase, are unlawful under the Consumer Protection (from Unfair Trading) Regulations 2008. The sort of in-app purchases that might fall foul of the regulation could include membership, virtual currency/rewards, additional levels, faster gameplay and additional game features, it added.
The OFT said it has written to companies that are offering free web or app-based games asking for information on in-game marketing to children. It is also asking for parents and consumer groups to contact it with information about “potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices they are aware of in relation to these games”.
The spokesman said the aim of the investigation is to get more “clarity” about the digital market for kids’ games, and the sorts of behaviours/mechanics apps are utilising, by talking to games developers, app stores, parents and consumer groups.
The investigation will also specifically consider whether the full cost of games aimed at children is being made clear when they are downloaded/accessed. ”The information [gathered during the investigation] will be used to understand business practices used in this sector, to establish whether consumer protection regulations are being breached and if so what the consumer harm is,” the OFT said today, adding that it “expects to publish its next steps by October 2013″.
Commenting in a statement, Cavendish Elithorn, OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, added: “The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary.”
The spokesman stressed that the OFT hopes to be able to solve any issues uncovered through “conversations” with the various companies involved — including Apple and Google — rather than taking the court route . ”We hope this is going to be resolved by talking to the big companies,” he added.
Google declined to comment on the investigation when contacted by TechCrunch.
At the time of writing Apple had not responded to a request for comment.
Both Google’s and Apple’s app stores require developers to sign developer agreements in order to successfully submit apps, and both have been known to remove content that violates these developer guidelines — so app stores are already in the app policing business.
Google’s Play Store developer guidelines include the following (vague) stipulation, for instance, that could potentially be used to boot freemium kids’ apps that are misleading about the potential costs:
Developers must not mislead users about the applications they are selling nor about any in-app services, goods, content or functionality they are selling.
Apple does more policing of its store than Google, with iOS developers required to submit apps for approval prior to publication on the store. “We review all apps to ensure they are reliable, perform as expected, and are free of offensive material”, Apple notes on its developer site, warning app makers to: “Before submitting your new or updated apps for review, check out the latest App Store Review Guidelines and Mac App Store Review Guidelines.”
There are also signs that Cupertino has been looking more closely at some of the problems posed by having kids interact with apps. Earlier this month it relocated age ratings from the bottom of app listings on its store, to the top near the title where they are easier for parents to spot.
This change is likely to have been triggered by concerns about apps powered by user-generated content that can contain adult material appearing in the app store where children could find them — such as Twitter’s Vine video app — rather than specifically helping parents prevent kids making in-app purchases.
Here’s the OFT’s summary of the investigation:
Many children’s web- and app-based games are free to sign up to or download. Some of those games give players the opportunity to ‘upgrade’ their free accounts through paid-for membership, providing access to parts of the game not available to non-paying players. Others encourage in-game purchases to speed up gameplay or to give access to extra game features.
The OFT will look into whether those children’s games are in line with the Consumer Protection (from Unfair Trading) Regulations 2008 to ensure that any commercial practices they include are not misleading or aggressive. In particular, the OFT will consider whether children’s web- and app-based games directly encourage children to buy something or to pester their parents or other adults to buy something for them. [see note 1]
The OFT will gather information on this issue for the next six months and is interested to hear from businesses operating in the market and mobile app platform operators. The OFT will also consult with relevant UK and international regulators.
The OFT is also keen to hear about potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices experienced by parents whose children play these games, and also from consumer groups with an interest in this area.
note 1: The Regulations, under Annex Practice 28, prohibit advertisements from including direct exhortations to children to buy something or to ask their parents or other adults to buy something for them.
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Apple’s new iPhone, Amazon’s new hire, and Prince – 90 Seconds on The Verge:Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
The initial scans weren’t that appealing– just a range of corridors and storage hangers, as soon as busied with the citizenry but long because abandoned. It looked …
Video Rating: 4 / 5
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Apple’s trajectory in the U.S. smartphone market over the past little while has been an upwards one, with the company gaining more and more iPhone subscribers every month. During the three-month period covering November 2012 to February 2013, Apple added 8.9 million new iPhone subscribers according to comScore, while Android as a platform in total added only 2.9 million. That means Apple’s share of the total smartphone subscriber base in the U.S. grew to 38.9 percent from 35 percent, while Android’s dropped from 53.7 to 51.7 percent.
ComScore’s figures also show that in terms of smartphone manufacturers, Apple also continues to lead the pack. Its share among OEMs rose 3.9 percentage points during the three month period, while Samsung gained only 1 percent percentage point, rising from 20.3 percent of the U.S. market to 21.3 percent. That means Apple and the iPhone continue to enjoy almost double the smartphone manufacturer share of its next closest rival.
The loser in this case wasn’t either Apple or Samsung, however, both of whom gained subscribers and share, but BlackBerry, which as a platform shed 1.7 million subscribers in the U.S. between November and February. These numbers predate the launch of BB10, however, so we’ll have to watch to see if that helps BlackBerry stem the tide of users leaving.
Of course, both Google and Samsung stand to reap the benefits of upcoming device launches, which could help swing the pendulum back in their favor over the coming months. Samsung is on the verge of debuting its next-generation flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, with pre-orders beginning in just a couple of weeks. The HTC One is also coming to the U.S. market in mid-April, which could give Android as a platform additional firepower in terms of competing with iOS and the iPhone.
Apple’s success to date has been based on the strong performance of the iPhone 5 since launch, and that device seems to continue to be an attractive choice for U.S. subscribers. There still doesn’t appear to be much in the way of a true race for a third platform, however, with Microsoft and BlackBerry either actively losing share or seeing only insignificant gains. The market is now at a crucial juncture in terms of product releases, but the fight looks likely to continue to remain a two-party affair for the foreseeable future.
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The reality is, it never struck me that there were additional resources to call upon in the first location. The mining ships had actually gone adrift long ago, and the ever-orbiting lunar station was merely an antique … a tip of times past, not something that could in fact be our salvation. But shocks abound, even in the Outer Stretches. It ends up that the blinking distress signal had not been simply a one-way transmission. No, it was an uplink as well, which suggested one thing: contact.
I ’ ve long thought that touchscreens leave a certain something to be preferred when it comes to playing games, and if a brand-new (and extremely curious) report holds true, Apple may feel the same way. According to PocketGamer. business ’ s Jon Jordan, Apple has actually been meeting designers on-site at this year ’ s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to chat about a forthcoming Apple game controller.
Jordan ’ s several designer sources claim that the Cupertino business has booked a conference room under an assumed name to speak about the game-centric device, though they weren ’ t able to drop any light on what things will appear like or when it will in fact see the light of day. That stated, Apple is expected to hold an iPad-centric event in April so it ’ s possible that this controller may be formally unveiled in just a couple of weeks.
Initially look, the prospect of Apple churning out a game controller of all things seems downright ridiculous, but after chewing on it for a while the thought doesn ’ t seem rather as outlandish. You ’ d be hard-pressed to consider OS X as prominent a platform for games as Windows is (though some big-league designers are working to alter that), but iOS plays home to a staggering lot of games and it ’ s not impossible to think that Apple would wish to improve the kinds of games experiences offered to iPhone, iPod and iPad individuals. As such, a game controller appears like the type of thing that Apple would agonize over getting right, and it appears that Apple may have been doing just that.
In the website ’ s 2012 testimonial of the 3rd generation iPad, AnandTech ’ s Anand Lal Shimpi and Vivek Gowri let slip a tantalizing tidbit when talking about the iPad ’ s faculty as a gaming equipment: ” I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether it will ever before see the light of day continues to be to be seen, ” the review checks out.
What ’ s more Apple has been seen bulking itself up with patents that associate with a possible gaming push for a minimum of a few years now. This patent from 2008 explains an accessory that wraps around a transportable electronic device with touchscreen (sound familiar?) and consists of a standard D-Pad and button, while this one found in 2012 takes a somewhat different method. Regardless, these patents plus the AnandTech remarks make it rather clear that Apple has been mulling over a physical game controller (or something like it) and it might be time for those aspirations to come to fruition.
I ’ ve connected to Apple, however the business has actually declined to comment.
(Additionally, below ’ s hoping it looks nothing like the Pippin controller imagined above.)
Chinese state-run newspaper The People’s Daily has called Apple out for its “empty and self-praising” response to recent criticism regarding warranties for its iPhone range. Apple published a press release on its Chinese portal after state broadcaster CCTV claimed Chinese consumers weren’t getting the same level of service as Americans. Citing a student, The People’s Daily echoed these concerns, saying that most American iPhone faults are handled by replacing the entire handset, while faulty Chinese handsets are repaired and handed back to users. It also faulted Apple for not extending the warranty for longer after repairs.
Apple disputed the claims in its press release. It said its warranties are “roughly the same” worldwide, noting…
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A major update to a woefully neglected app.
A major update to a woefully neglected app.
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BlackBerry’s executives usually prefer not to mention the company’s biggest competitors, especially Apple and its iPhone. (After all, for the last few years, BlackBerry’s sales numbers haven’t exactly been flattered by head-to-head comparisons.) That alone would make a statement by BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins to the Australian Financial Review where he calls out both Apple and its flagship smartphone by name noteworthy. But considering his company sells fewer phones in a year than Apple sells in a quarter, Heins’ words about BlackBerry’s market position relative to Apple and both companies’ record of innovation are surprisingly sharp.
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Apple’s Low-Cost iPhone Reportedly Getting The Same 4-Inch Display As iPhone 5, ‘Super-Thin’ Plastic Case
The low-cost iPhone of fable got a little more material with some reports from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Before you balk at reports from an “analyst,” note that Kuo has been spot on a number of times in the past, including when he predicted the iPhone 4S release timeline and changes, the launch of the original white iPhone 4, and the iPad 2, among others. Kuo has discussed Apple’s 2013 roadmap in the past, and now he’s telling AppleInsider that a low-cost iPhone will have a 4-inch screen like the iPhone 5.
Other details about the new device shared by Kuo include a “super-thin plastic casing mixed with glass fiber.” The hybrid material is designed to increase the case’s overall durability, while also saving weight and making for a thinner overall design. Kuo also adds that there will be multiple color options for the low-cost iPhone, along the lines of the recent iPod touch update from last fall.
The new report from Kuo is designed to counter information from notoriously hit-or-miss source Digitimes released earlier in the week, which claimed a larger 5-inch display on the budget iPhone, with manufacturing shifting to suppliers other than Foxconn. Neither claim is true, according to Kuo’s information.
Apple has been cautious about entering the low-cost market in the past, repeatedly saying that it won’t compromise device experience in order to hit a certain price target. But recently, the value of a low-cost iPhone in the Apple stable (which can be made available cheaply to pre-paid customers in markets like India where subsidies aren’t an option) has become apparent. Apple could add $ 11 billion to its annual revenue with a low-cost device, one analyst estimated this week, and it would help considerably with acquiring additional market share in markets where Android is currently having lots of success.
Offering last year’s model as a cheaper option has been Apple’s strategy of choice in the past, but if it introduces a dedicated low-cost line, the advantages could be considerable. Based on these reports from Kuo and others, the company is looking to dramatically decrease physical material costs, which are relatively stable compared to the cost of processor and flash memory components, and tooling/factory setup, which decrease as a production process matures. That could result in big changes to the way Apple sells in prepaid and emerging markets, which is exactly what it needs to kickstart more explosive growth.
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