Last night, we reported that the Apple Online Store had gone down with a new look. The famous “We’ll be back” sticky note was replaced with a new graphic.
After the store came back online, it appears that the company has improved its sales chat support for those looking to purchase an Apple product. Online chat for individual products have been available on Apple’s website for a while now, but the changes have introduced a new chat window with a more modern appearance. Online sales chat is available only during certain times of the day and dependent on the availability of chat agents.
Interestingly, MacMagazine.com.br points out that Apple appears to be using its Brazilian store as a test market for even further improvements. Turns out, Apple is testing a screen sharing feature in the Brazil store. It allows sales specialists to share their screens with potential customers to help walk them through a product’s features.
The report indicates that the screen sharing virtual tour feature is limited to the iPad 2 for the time being, but Apple does have plans to extend it across its product lines.
Once in a while, the Apple Store does go offline for updates to introduce new products, but it also goes down for maintenance.
Tonight’s downtime may also be related to maintenance or other non-product related announcements, but what seems to be significant is that the “We’ll be back soon” sticky note that should be quite familiar to long time Apple followers has been changed. The sticky note was used for many years.
Every time the store would go down, this sticky note would be displayed to visitors for many years. However, tonight Apple has posted a new graphic overlaying a linen background that has been popularized in iOS. It looks fantastic!
Apple does have several product lines that are due for a refresh soon including the Mac Pro MacBook Pro, but going by the “We’ll be back” graphic change, it may suggest other graphical tweaks to the online store.
Mac OS X is known to be repellent from viruses and Trojans for a long time now, but since the popularity of Mac has grown, virus creators have started to target the OS with new viruses. Just last week it was reported that a Flashback Trojan had infected 600,000 Macs.
Today, Apple has published a support document regarding the Flashback trojan that affects OS X computers, as noted by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop. Last week, a Java update was released to fix the security flaw that the virus was attacking. While 3rd party tools have been developed to test for the infection, Apple reveals they are working on their own tool to detect and remove the software.
In addition, Apple is working with ISPs worldwide to disable the servers that send commands to the malware. Apple also advises Macs running OS X 10.5 or earlier to disable Java in their browser preferences.
Today, AllThingsD has announced that Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, will be the opening keynote speaker at the D10 Conference scheduled for late May. This year’s conference will mark 10 years of “D: All Things Digital.” Cook will appear in an evening interview session on Tuesday, May 29 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
This will be Cook’s first appearance at the D conference. It would be the first time appearing on stage at an event not hosted by Apple or investors since he became CEO last August.
Other speakers at this year’s conference include Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, Federal Trade Commission Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, entrepreneur Sean Parker, and Zynga’s CEO, Mark Pincus.
Just last week we reported that Apple’s share price had exceeded Google’s for the first time ever. In fact, this morning AAPL is trading about $8 higher than GOOG. Today, Apple’s share price has continued its amazing growth by moving up another 1% to briefly hit a market capitalization of $600 billion. This new milestone comes just under six weeks after hitting $500 billion. AAPL is now up nearly 60% since the beginning of the year.
In fact, the $600 billion market cap is nowhere near what analysts are expecting the company’s market cap to reach. Analysts think that Apple is on its way to a trillion dollar market capitalization over the next year or so, which would be the first company to ever do so.
Also, Apple is now just within a few billion dollars of taking Microsoft’s title of most valuable publicly-traded company ever. In December of 1999, Microsoft’s market cap was $604 billion, but when adjusted for inflation, it would be worth over $800 billion in today’s dollars.
AT&T began unlocking qualifying iPhones on Sunday, and apparently that process is completed via iTunes. Customers report that the process required a backup and restore. The carrier requires that customer accounts must be in good standing, not associated with a current and active term commitment and completed their contract term, upgraded or paid an early termination fee.
MacRumors reports that AT&T has begun unlocking iPhones for American military personnel also. In fact, they will unlock their phones even if they are still under contract. The federal law requires that wireless carriers terminate service for deployed service members without penalty. AT&T is not required to unlock the phones of deployed service members, but instead, it seems that the company is doing this by choice.
MacRumors had reached out to AT&T for confirming this new policy, but they declined to comment. However, MacRumors has independently confirmed that AT&T is indeed unlocking the phones for service members. Deployed soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines should contact AT&T customer service to get more information about having their iPhones unlocked.
Last Friday, we reported that AT&T has released a statement stating that they will start unlocking iPhones. AT&T said that the unlocking service will only apply to off-contract iPhones and to members who have AT&T accounts in good standing.
Today AppleInsider, reports that the unlock codes are applied to the device after restoring through iTunes. The unlock code comes through Apple and is released via iTunes.
AT&T’s instructions tell users to open iTunes on their Mac or PC, connect their iPhone via USB, and backup and restore their handset. The restore will then allow the iPhone for use on other carriers.
In addition, AT&T’s instructions have also been published on Apple’s website. If the unlock is successful, a message on the iPhone is displayed that says: “Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”
In March, Apple began to offer users the option to re-download movies that were already purchased on iTunes via iCloud. The service also applies to the iTunes Digital Copy format, which allows users the ability to download a digital version of a film when they buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc. At launch, Universal Studios and Fox were initially absent from iCloud due to content deals with premium cable network HBO.
Starting from this weekend, Universal Pictures’ films have become available on iCloud. Users who have previously purchased the films from iTunes can re-download them at no cost, which leaves only one major studio, Fox, that is not part of iCloud.
Even though Universal’s Films are now available via iCloud, customers wanting to re-download 20th Century Fox films still must wait for that content. Last month it was reported that HBO has already reached an agreement and The Wall Street Journal said at the time that Fox expected to have its content on iCloud “within weeks”.
TV content is now available in high-definition 1080p. Previously, content maxed out at 720p, which was the highest resolution output of the previous generation Apple TV.
You may remember that in April of 2011, a 17-year-old from the Anhui province in China sold one of his kidneys for ¥22,000 (roughly $3,400). The teen, who goes under the surname Wang, claimed he sold one of his kidneys because he wanted an Apple iPad 2, but could not afford it. When asked by his mother how he acquired the Apple tablet, Wang told her about the sale. Wang is now suffering from renal deficiency, which occurs when a person’s kidney is too small to sustain normal life.
Xinhua News Agency, a government-run news network in China, has recently stated that five people have been charged with intentional injury of Wang. While we are not completely sure who these five people are, Xinhua said that the surgeon and the broker have been charged. Xinhua has not stated who bought the kidney.
The broker reportedly received ¥220,000 (approximately $35,000) for the transplant. While Wang only received ¥22,000, the rest of the cash was divided between the defendants and medical staff. As of now, we are unsure if the buyer of the kidney will be charged as the trade of organs has been illegal in China since 2007.
Unfortunately, stories like these are becoming a regular occurrence because of the growing popularity of Apple products in China. Scalpers are getting in on the deal by purchasing mass quantities of Apple products on launch day and selling them for large profits in tthe grey market. In the end, this causes people to go to perform outrageous acts in order to get the latest and greatest Apple device.
Just last month we reported that Apple’s share price had touched $600, which was just one month after hitting $500. At that point, it was a given AAPL would pass Google’s share price in no time. Yup, that’s what has happened in less than a month. Today, Apple’s share price closed at about $633, making the company’s shares now more expensive than Google’s. Apple’s market cap is now over $590 billion, nearly three times larger than Google’s.
In the past one year, Apple’s share price has seen a growth of 160 percent, compared to just 12 percent gain Google’s share price has seen. Now, Apple’s market cap is now larger than the combined valuations of Google, HP, Dell, RIM, Microsoft, Nokia, AMD and Motorola Mobility, with a couple billion dollars to spare. Wow. In fact, even to this day, Apple’s share price is undervalued. While AAPL is on its way to a $1,000, Apple’s is on its way to become the first $1 trillion company ever.
In the end, largest amount of marketshare, “open”, and free products continue to “win”, duh.
Just late last month, it was reported that the Austin City Council had approved Apple’s $8.6M grant for the new Texas campus. Apple has invested $300 million in Austin, Texas to add 3,600 more workers. Now, Travis Country officials are considering giving Apple an 80 percent tax rebate worth $7.4 million if the company builds the proposed campus in Austin, Texas. This would add two other multi-million dollar government subsidies already being offer to Apple.
Statesman reports that although a formal agreement has yet to be reached, a discussion during a closed session hearing on Tuesday may grant Apple an 80 percent tax incentive for the next 10 years — with the possibility of a five year extension. Pay ranges for new hires are expected to be between $54,000 and $73,500, depending on qualifications and position.
If this deal goes through, Apple will become the second-largest private employer in Austin, behind only Dell. The facility will be built on 38 acres of land with at least one million square feet of office space and will function as a new “Americas Operations center” for the company.
Last weekend, we reported that Ashton Kutcher will play Steve Jobs in the upcoming indie film “Jobs”. Today, The Daily spoke with Five Star Institute’s Mark Hulme who is producing the upcoming Steve Jobs film that is starring Ashton Kutcher. Hulme says that Kutcher is “pouring himself” into the role and “believes the role was meant for him”.
Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, appears to be happy with the decision too.
The fear that many might have is that Ashton was selected because he’s ‘hot’ right now. But I feel that his selection was done in the most professional manner. And I’m glad that he’s onboard. I think he’ll put a lot into it and that he cares about this particular subject.
When the news was first broke, people had mixed feelings, but Hulme is confident in Kutcher’s abilities as well as his personal interest in the role. They are set to start filming next month and film is set to start filming next month for release and is expected to be released by Thanksgiving of this year. The focus will be on Steve Jobs’s earlier life. In fact, his earlier life and early days at Apple have been portrayed in other films such as Pirates of Silicon Valley. If you haven’t watched it already, I highly suggest you do.
This film about Steve Jobs was reportedly being worked on prior to the passing away of Steve Jobs and before Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography was published. Sony has purchased the rights to Isaascon’s biography and is working on their own film about Steve Jobs.
Analyst Piper Jaffray from analytical firm Gene Munster today has published (via MacRumors) a report on his firm’s latest semi-annual survey of U.S. teenagers, the 23rd such survey in the firm’s history. The extensive survey of 5,600 U.S. high school students revealed that 34% of surveyed students now own an iPhone. This is an all time high in the survey and is double the percentage from just a year ago. In addition, 40% of surveyed students indicated that they will purchase an iPhone within the next six months.
Jaffray regards the rapid growth in iPhone use among students to the new low cost options from Apple. Last January, Apple and AT&T lowered the price of the iPhone 3GS to $49. With the introduction of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 3GS was made free on-contract.
Also, the 40% purchase intent rate for the next six months is the same among current iPhone owners and those who do not yet own an iPhone.
The report also revealed some interesting tidbits regarding the use of tablets among students. In the tablet space, 34% of students reported that they own some sort of tablet device, with 70% reporting that they own an iPad. 53% of those iPad owners also own an iPhone. In fact, the iPad’s momentum maybe even starting to gain even more steam, with 19% of students indicating that they plan to purchase a tablet within the next six months. 80% of those students are planning to purchase an iPad.
Jaffray also believes that the new $399 entry price for the iPad 2 is a significant pull in the student market.
Apple has just updated its Investor Relations page on its website to notify its shareholders and the general public that the company’s second-quarter financial conference call will occur on April 24th at 2 PM PST.
The company has posted the following on its investor relations page:
Apple plans to conduct a conference call to discuss financial results of its second fiscal quarter on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. PT
In addition, the earnings call will be streamed live to shareholders and press via Apple’s website, The stream will allow iOS device owners to listen to the call if their devices run iOS 4.2 or higher. Also, the stream will be accessible via a Quicktime-enabled computer.
On January 24th, Apple reported its best quarter ever. Apple reported $46.33 billion in revenue, with earnings of $13.87 per share and net profit in Q1 was $13.06 billion. Though Wall Street doesn’t expect Apple to have a big a quarter as last time, it has steadily been raising its projections based on the new iPad and strong demand for the iPhone 4S.
Last month, we reported that Apple had touted plans for a massive solar farm and fuel cell facility in Maiden, North Carolina. A report also suggested that Bloom Energy, maker of the “Bloom Box” energy server, was believed to be the supplier behind Apple’s planned 5-megawatt fuel cell farm in North Carolina.
Today, a filing with North Carolina’s Utilities Commission confirms that report. Apple’s 5 megawatt fuel center will indeed use Bloom Energy’s “Bloom Energy Servers”. It is also said to be the largest of its kind outside of an electric company installations. Up to 50 Bloom Boxes, each capable of supplying 100 kilowatts of power, would meet Apple’s advertised 5-megawatt capacity at the new fuel cell farm.
According to the filing, the fuel cells will be installed within the year and will join the company’s 500,000 square feet data center that powers iCloud right across from it. Also, the company has already started Bloom Energy Servers on Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. “That’s a huge vote of confidence in fuel cells,” said James Warner, policy director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association in Washington.
Apparently, this will also be the home of iCloud and Siri voice agent.