Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and pioneer in the tech industry, passed away at the age of 56, just as his company launched the iPhone 4S — the device he helped create.
Steve Jobs Passes Away, Mourners Remember
Steve Jobs, the creative genius behind products like the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Jobs underwent surgery for the disease in 2004, received a liver transplant in 2009 and took three medical leaves of absence as Apple’s CEO before stepping down from the position in August, saying he could no longer meet the duties necessary to perform.
People around the nation and world remembered Jobs as a visionary. Many of them found out about his passing on devices he helped create. Fans arrived at Apple’s flagship Manhattan store to leave candles and flowers, and memorials also cropped up worldwide, including in Australia and China.
Colleagues and competitors of Steve Jobs also issued statements about his passing. Microsoft founder Bill Gates said, “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for generations to come.” Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also thanked Jobs for inspiring them.
The positive remarks about Jobs legacy are well-earned considering his accomplishments. Jobs changed the world of mobile technology with Apple’s release of the iPhone, which was years ahead of all other smartphones on the market.
Jobs is also credited with helping the music industry transition into the digital era. The iPod and iTunes store forever changed the way people listened to and purchased music. Digital sales now account for nearly one third of music industry revenues and iTunes has sold 16 billion songs.
Steve Jobs’ death leaves Apple without the mastermind behind these great innovations. Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook will now face the task of keeping Apple on top, without Jobs’ guidance behind the scenes.
Apple Unveils IPhone 4S
Apple announced the iPhone 4S, the newest version of the iPhone with an identical exterior design to the iPhone 4. The inside of the 4S, however, is completely new. The new device features an A5 dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera capable of 1080p video recording and a new voice-recognition application called Siri. It will debut on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
Siri, the highlights of the iPhone 4S, can also schedule appointments and send texts and e-mails, all through voice commands. When asked, “What’s the weather like today?” The personal voice assistant gave a location-specific answer.
Apple also revealed cheaper price points for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. An 8-gigabyte version of the iPhone 4 will sell for $100 with a two-year contract while the 8-gigabyte 3GS will now be free with a two-year contract. The new pricing options give Apple a device in the low, mid, and high-end areas of the smartphone market.
The iPhone 4S will be powered by iOS 5, but existing iPhone users can also take advantage of the update. Apple will make iOS 5 available as free download on iTunes starting October 12. The updated platform features a new notification system with a drop-down menu, support for iCloud, Apple’s new cloud-based data service, and iMessage, a free messaging service that lets iOS users exchange messages for free over Wi-Fi or cell service.
CEO Tim Cook, filling Steve Jobs’ shoes, headlined the new product launches for his company. Cook appeared calm and confident but let other executives take the limelight to reveal the 4S and its new features.
Analysts expect the 4S to sell well, but many feel the device doesn’t feature significant enough changes to challenge Android phone sales. Apple will likely benefit from offering its device on Sprint, but those disappointed by the absence of a major update in the form of the iPhone 5 may look elsewhere for their next smartphone.
Android may scoop up tired iPhone users, since the iPhone 4S did not meet hardware expectations. The Samsung Galaxy line has been one of the iPhone’s biggest threats and HTC continues to put out top-of-the-line Android and Windows-powered smartphones.
Apple may decide to hold off on redesigning its flagship handset this time around because of the size of LTE chips. The company likely wants to include major features like 4G technologies in the iPhone 5, but current LTE chips won’t fit in the casing of the iPhone 4. Apple, which always places a large emphasis on design, would likely rather wait for a smaller chip than make a larger iPhone 5 than its predecessor.
Apple Seeks Worldwide ICloud Music Rights
Apple is working to secure worldwide iCloud music rights. Apple is reportedly close to reaching a deal for licenses in Germany, France and the U.K. If the company can’t reach a deal, however, users outside the U.S. won’t be able to store their music on the cloud using the iCloud service.
The company is also looking for ways to improve its performance in India, one the world’s fastest emerging markets. Apple shipped just over 62,000 handsets to India during the third quarter, leaving 600 million other mobile subscribers to choose between BlackBerry and Nokia Phones.
Meanwhile, Apple joined a group pressing lawmakers for a tax break it says will help return overseas profits into the U.S. Google and Cisco are also part of the group working with 160 lobbyists to get the break. Apple, Google and Cisco earned more than $1.37 trillion in profits overseas and must pay a 35 per cent corporate tax rate on the funds that re-enter the U.S.
Back at home, Apple and Hewlett-Packard both put their campuses on lock down after a man wounded a contractor at the HP site and attempted to steal her car following an earlier deadly shooting. Staff from both companies were prevented from going outside during the manhunt for suspect Shareef Allman.
Apple Rejects Samsung Settlement
Apple rejected Samsung’s offer to resolve the companies’ patent dispute in Australia. Samsung offered to resolve the ongoing issues concerning Galaxy 10.1′s touchscreen technology in exchange for a patent on finger movements’ control of software commands. Apple lawyer Steven Burley said the offer was not sufficient enough to bring a settlement.
After having its offer rejected, Samsung began seeking injunctions against Apple’s iPhone 4S in France and Italy. “Apple has continues to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free-ride on our technology,” Samsung said, adding, “We will steadfastly protect our intellectual property.”
Meanwhile, in the U.S., a federal court judge accepted briefs filed by T-Mobile and Verizon opposing an injunction against Samsung devices. Judge Lucy Koh said Apple couldn’t submit a rebuttal argument, but denied T-Mobile’s request to speak during a hearing on the preliminary injunction motion scheduled for October 13.
Sprint Bets on IPhone, Keeps Unlimited Plans
Sprint reportedly plans to buy more than 30 million iPhones from Apple for a total of $20 billion, spread out over the next four years. CEO Dan Hesse presented the plan to the board in August, according to the Wall Street Journal, and the company signed off on it soon after.
When Sprint begins carrying the iPhone 4S later this month, it will offer the device with unlimited data for $70 per month. The carrier hopes its unlimited plans will give it a distinct advantage over Verizon and AT&T, which also carry the iPhone.
T-Mobile Offers Unlimited Data, Rolls Out New Phones
T-Mobile is offering a $30 a month unlimited data to prepaid Wal-Mart customers. The plan offers five gigabytes of HSPA-plus data, though speeds will drop to 2G after customers meet their monthly allowance. It also includes unlimited texting and 100 minutes of talk time, which increases to 10 cents per minute once customers reach the limit.
The carrier is also rolling out 12 new smartphones, a tablet and Wi-Fi hotspots as it looks to stay competitive. T-Mobile’s product launch will begin on October 10 and continue through November 19. The busiest roll-out is expected on November 2, when the carrier plans to release six new Samsung smartphones.
T-Mobile also confirmed two of the new devices it plans to roll out will be the MyTouch and MyTouch Q. Both devices feature a 1-gigahertz Qualcomm processor and 5-megapixel cameras. The carrier plans to market the devices to first-time smartphone buyers.
Nokia Preps Windows Phones, Lures Developers
Nokia plans to unveil its Windows phones this quarter, and will announce more details about the launch at its annual trade show in London, which begins October 26. The company is betting heavily on its partnership with Microsoft to bring it to a place of prominence in the smartphone market.
The Finnish phone maker is even rewarding developers who program for its Windows Phones. The company offered programmers cash, marketing, coding assistance and even handset pre-installation for the most successful apps.
Android Faces New Security Concerns, Google+ Adds Privacy Features
Recent versions of HTC’s Sense interface give applications installed on the Evo 4G, Evo 3D and Thunderbolt access to personal information. According to Artem Russakovskii of Android Police, data can include text messages, phone numbers, locations, user IDs, and more, possibly resulting in serious privacy violations as mobile banking becomes popular.
Google’s mobile platform may be under scrutiny because of security, but it is adding additional privacy settings to its new social network. A new feature on Google+ allows users to disable comments and lock down posts before sharing their pages, meaning they’ll have complete control over who sees their content and shares it with others.
Google is striving to ensure the success of its fledgling social network, while also making strides in its retail business. Google opened its first store called the Chromezone on September 30 in London’s Tottenham Court Road. The store sells Chromebook laptops and related accessories, items U.K. consumers could previously buy only online.
Google Delays Nexus Prime for Verizon
Verizon’s exclusive Nexus Prime, Google’s next flagship Android 4.0 device, will feature a 1.2-gigahertz dual-core processor, 4.6-inch screen with curved glass, 32-gigabytes of built-in storage and 5-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture.
Google and Samsung planned to unveil the phone during a joint announcement on October 11, but the two companies cancelled the event out of respect to Steve Jobs.
“We believe this is not the right time to announce a new product as the world expresses tribute to Steve Job’s passing.”
Sony Ericsson Refocuses, May Become Part of Sony
CEO Bert Nordberg said Sony Ericsson will become a 100 per cent smartphone company by the middle of next year. The company aims to reinvent itself as the largest maker of Android devices in the U.S. Ericsson performed poorly after failing to properly react to the launch of the iPhone in 2007.
Sony is reportedly looking to buy out Ericsson’s share of the company. The two sides, which share a 50-50 partnership, lost profits in recent years as Ericsson held back on smartphone development.
Amazon Kindle Sees Impressive Pre-Orders
Amazon’s upcoming full-colour tablet, the Kindle Fire, isn’t available until November 15, but has amassed 95,000 pre-orders since the company unveiled the device. The numbers may be an early indicator of success for Amazon’s strategy of offering a full-feature tablet at a lower price point.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire is selling briskly, but the company is being accused, along with Barnes & Noble and other book-sellers, of fixing prices on e-books. A successful lawsuit against the company could bring e-book prices down to lower levels.
Microsoft Targets Mobile With Windows 8, Uses Xbox to Boost Windows Phone
Microsoft plans to use touch screen technology in Windows 8 to boost its place in the mobile market. It plans to make Windows 8 OS more compatible with mobile devices, but also took pains to reassure users the mouse isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Microsoft, which wants to connect its tablet and PC businesses, also plans to link its successful Xbox brand with its mobile platform. The “Xbox Companion,” will be a free download to Windows Phone devices, allowing users to control Xbox Live content using their device. The app also accessed details about Xbox movies, shows, and games, then turns the phone into a remote to control playback.
LightSquared, Sharp Team Up on 4G Devices
LightsSquared and Sharp signed a deal to develop mobile devices for its LTE network. Sharp has been looking to reach the U.S. market with new mobile devices, but so far those efforts stalled. The company held back the launch of its Galapagos tablet in the U.S., and cancelled the launches of two other tablets already on the Japanese market. LightSquared could provide Sharp “with a platform from which they can aggressively expand into the U.S. wireless market with an exciting portfolio of smartphones and tablets,” according to LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja.
PayPal Touts Its Mobile Payment Service
PayPal dismissed NFC technology and suggested its own service will pave the way for mobile payments. “There simply aren’t that many NFC enabled phones out there and we don’t see NFC as something that will happen very quickly,” said Anuj Nayar, PayPal’s director of communications.
Telemarketers Target Cell Phones, FCC to Track Emergency Calls
A new bill dubbed the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011” allows businesses to use an automatic dialling system to contact cell phone customers for “informational purposes.” This practice, called “robocalling,” gives businesses the ability to broadcast pre-recorded messages across many telephone numbers at once.
In addition, the Federal Communications Commission put forward a new rule requiring carriers and phone makers include built-in GPS on cell phone models by 2018, enabling them to be tracked by 911 emergency services. Currently, 911 operators locate callers using signals triangulated from cell phone towers, an imprecise method the agency hopes GPS will improve.
Regarding mobile and Internet security, a task force of 12 Republicans, headed by Rep. Mac Thornberry , recommended the government entice businesses to voluntarily bolster their network against hackers.
Meanwhile, wireless cell carriers are suing to block an ordinance mandating retailers outline potential health risks of mobile phones. The CTIA, a wireless industry group representing AT&T and Verizon, filed a lawsuit to prevent San Francisco’s “Right to Know” ordinance from taking effect on October 25.
Facebook Reveals Users Alcohol Habits
A new study published in October’s “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medecine” examined Facebook profiles of more than 300 undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the University of Washington. Students whose Facebook statuses and photos contained references to intoxication and excessive drinking were found to be four times more likely to have an alcohol problem than those whose profiles made no mention of drunkenenss.