All posts by Parth Dhebar

Parth Dhebar is a 18 year-old entrepreneur. He is the founder of Simple Reviews, a blog focused on reviewing iPhone and iPad applications. Parth is a recognized name in the industry, known for covering Apple news. He is an editor at Techie-Buzz covering news on Apple. You can follow him on Twitter @pdparticle.

Confirmed: Apple Store Grand Central Opens December 9th

Earlier this year, it was  confirmed  that Apple is opening a new store in New York’s Grand Central soon, and it  looks absolutely  stunning.  The store is expected to occupy 23,000 feet (crazy!). It is also expected to  generate  half-a-billion in sales a year, which is probably more than all Microsoft stores combined.  That is assuming those stores generate any revenue. In fact, Microsoft has yet to reveal retail store numbers.  Last week, it was  reported    that store is to open soon. Rumor had it that the store will opens on December 9th.

Apple Store Grand Central

Yesterday, some interesting tidbits regarding Apple’s contract  with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for its Grand Central Terminal retail store were revealed. These agreements just go to show how much retail power Apple actually has. Now, The New York Post reports that the State of New York is investigating the deal.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has launched an investigation into whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) gave Apple overly generous terms on its lease for the shop, which is slated for a splashy opening next week.

The article in the New York Post about the MTA’s contract with Apple in Grand Central Terminal is a cause for concern,DiNapoli said in a statement yesterday. This is a prime property, and I intend to make sure that the MTA hasn’t given away the store.

Today, in line with previous rumors, Apple has officially announced an opening day date for its massive store inside Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. The store will be opening on Friday, December 9th.

[Image credit: MacRumors]

Disney CEO Buys $1M of AAPL Shares After Joining Board of Directors

Earlier this month, it was reported that  Disney  president and CEO, Bob Iger, had joined the board of directors at Apple.    Iger played an important role in rebuilding the partnership between Disney and Pixar after both the companies’ relationship turned away under the leadership of his predecessor at Disney, Michael Eisner. In addition to Iger joining the board, Art Levinson had been named the Chairman of the Board of Directors.  Levinson replaced Steve Jobs in the chairman’s role,  who was briefly named Apple’s chairman following his resignation as its chief executive.  Art Levinson was the former Genentech executive and has served on Apple’s board since 2000. He has also been the co-lead director since 2005.

Apple logo

Today, a new statement filed with the U.S.    Securities Exchange Commission reveals that  Iger purchased a total of 2,670 shares of Apple on Tuesday, as  noted by  MacRumors. Apparently, Iger divided the purchase into two separate    transactions of 1,370 and 1,300 shares each for a total purchase price of just over $1 million. Wow! Makes me wish I owned a $1 million in AAPL shares. In fact, it is the most undervalued stock in America.  The filing also revealed that  Iger’s wife owned 75 shares of Apple stock prior to his joining the company’s board.

In addition, according to MacRumors, non-employee Apple board members are typically paid $50,000 per year in compensation while they are on the board, plus an annual stock award in the form of RSU’s.

Apple Scored “Unique” Bargain for Grand Central Store

Earlier this year, it was  confirmed  that Apple is opening a new store in New York’s Grand Central soon, and it  looks absolutely  stunning.  The store is expected to occupy 23,000 feet (crazy!). It is also expected to  generate  half-a-billion in sales a year, which is probably more than all Microsoft stores combined. That is assuming those stores generate any revenue.

Apple Store Grand Central Display

Today, The New York Post reveals some interesting tidbits  on some of the details of Apple’s contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for its Grand Central Terminal retail store, and it just goes to show Apple’s power in retail. Normally, Apple would have to pay $200 per square, but they are only paying $60 per square foot for the property. Would this be the case if these stores weren’t bringing in a boat load of revenue and foot traffic? Nope. Other tenants, such as Shake Shack restaurant are paying more than $200 per square foot!

But while real estate insiders estimate the shop will rake in $100 million a year in sales, Apple won’t be sharing a nickel with Grand Central’s operator, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The tech giant is the only retailer in the fast-growing retail transit hub to have such a sweet lease.

Critics likewise note that Apple’s $60-a-square-foot lease is well below what many other tenants are paying — including a future Shake Shack burger joint that will be shelling out more than $200 a square foot, according to the leases, copies of which have been obtained by The Post.

The terms get even better for Apple. Unlike other merchants who rent space in Grand Central, Apple won’t have to pay a percentage  share of what it sells at the new storefront to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The authority said that it agreed to allow Apple to keep all of its sales because the new store will “generate significant new traffic” for the 100 other retail tenants of Grand Central. Remember the time when Apple Stores were considered doomed? Well, now, this report goes to show that these once upon a time “doomed” stores give Apple a lot of retail power. Amazing isn’t it?

Last week, it was  reported    that store is to open soon. Rumor has it that the store will open on December 9th.

 

Motorola Blocked from Adding iTunes, iCloud and iPhone 4S to Patent Claim

A few hours ago, we reported an update on a lawsuit between Samsung and Apple. Well, now, we have an update on a lawsuit between Motorola and Apple. Oh boy, it never ends! Last week, it was reported that  Apple is also involved in a patent lawsuit with Motorola. Last April, Motorola originally sued Apple regarding MobileMe due to data synchronization patent. It was reported that if Apple claimed a potential injunction against the case, then it could result in a $2.7 Billion loss.

Apple vs. MotorolaToday, a new report reveals that Motorola has been blocked by a US court from adding iTunes, iCloud, and iPhone 4S to its patent infringement claims against Apple. HA! What goes around, comes around right? This is because of the supplemental infringement claims Motorola attempted to add to its case with Apple at the end of October in the Southern District of Florida after Apple filed a lawsuit against them, according to a  report  by Florian Mueller of  FOSS Patents.

Apparently, Motorola’s response to Apple’s lawsuit was filed too late for the court to accept, so as a workaround, the company tried to make the case that the its existing claims should be expanded to involve iTunes, iCloud and the new iPhone 4S.

 “Motorola seemingly would have to file an entirely new case against Apple to claim that these products infringe exactly the same patents at issue here.”

In fact, Motorola wasn’t just adding new products to its claim. Mueller points out that  the attempted expansion of the case by Motorola also “raised new issues with respect to certain originally-accused products.” Motorola has also incorporated claims against iCloud in its German litigation.  Tune in next week for another episode on mobile patent wars.

 

 

Apple is Looking to Ban Sales of Revised Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N in Germany

Oh boy, the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit in Germany sure seems to get interesting day by day.  At present, Apple is seeking an injunction against Samsung preventing the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. Samsung  agreed  to delay the device’s launch several times as the injunction was being considered by the court. In addition,  The Wall Street Journal  reported  that  Samsung’s lawyers had proposed a deal to Apple that would allow Samsung to launch its delayed Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. Samsung’s proposed deal was not disclosed to the court.  About a month ago,  Reuters  reported  that Apple had rejected the offer from Samsung that would have allowed the company to release its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. Earlier this month, Samsung launched the 10.1N with a design-tweak of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 that is already barred from sale in Germany under an earlier injunction.  The redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1N features a metal frame that wraps around its edges.

Apple vs. Samsung

Today, it is reported that Samsung’s redesign of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet isn’t enough to satisfy Apple. The iPad maker has asked a German court to stop sales of the redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1N. Wait, you mean the design still looks similar to the iPad’s? Shocker. Dow Jones Newswires reports that Germany’s Dusseldorf regional court will  hold a hearing  on Dec. 22 to review Apple’s request.

Unfortunately for Apple, the challenge has no effect on the sales of the device. This means that copy-cat Samsung will be able to sell its iPad-look alike  during the busy holiday shopping season. HA! Like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab would sell anyway.

In fact, the German court hasn’t been the only one to say that Samsung’s tablet copies Apple’s iPad design. Apple has also won an injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia in October. Gosh, got to love how courageous and stubborn Apple is.

 

 

iTether App Offers Unlimited Internet Tethering On Your iPhone

Usually, Apple doesn’t allow apps in the App Store that allow users to unlimited tether for a one time fee, but it looks like Tether.com’s app has somehow been approved into the App Store. Their application is called “iTether“, which allows users to share their iPhone’s internet connection with their Mac or PC computer over USB.  iTether costs $14.99 and is available via the App Store.

iTether Screenshot

Tether offers applications for the Mac and PC; so the app should work on both platforms. Running the apps on your iPhone and your Mac allows your Mac to use your iPhone’s internet connection over a USB cable. With iPhone’s built-in tethering feature, users have the option to tether via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but this app currently does not support either.  Apple usually does not allow such applications to become available on the App Store due to agreements with carriers.

Nobody knows how long this app will be available via the App Store; so, grab it quick! Also, it should be noted that  AT&T is cracking down on unofficial iPhone tethering.

Update: The app has now been pulled.

[via  9to5Mac]

Apple Announces Free Holiday Shipping for Online Orders

Hot off the press today, Apple has revealed on its    U.S. online store page  that it will be offering free shipping on all orders placed through December 22nd. Free shipping from Apple normally requires a minimum $50 purchase. The new offer allows customers to save some money on lower-cost purchases such as accessories. Apple made the annoucement was the online store on “Cyber Monday”, or the first Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Usually, the company does not offer any Cyber Monday deals, but did participate in Black Friday last week.

Apple logo

The free shipping promotion continues through Dec. 22, but applies only to the U.S. Customers in other countries, including  Canada, the U.K., France, and Spain receive free standard shipping on all orders placed Monday. Unfortunately,  the free shipping offer in those countries does not extend beyond Monday.

To top it off, Apple is also offering other benefits such  free engraving on iPods and iPads, signature gift wrapping, and build-to-order Mac configurations as reasons to purchase directly from Apple.

 

Apple Ecosystem Helps iPhone Lead Industry in User Retention

Apple logo
Since day one, Apple has been criticized for having a closed ecosystem and not giving customers choice. Apparently, this is what makes the company considered to be “evil.” HA! Think again, folks. A new study reveals that iPhone owners are the most loyal smartphone users in Apple’s ecosystem, driving an over 80% retention rate for the device.  Hold up! An “open” OS doesn’t have the highest retention rate? How can this be?

A report released  by research firm GfK shows that 84% of current iPhone owners plan to  purchase another Apple handset  when they replace their cellphone, with many smartphone users saying the ecosystem of a mobile OS is a determining factor when upgrading, according to  Reuters. Yeah, makes sense. Just think about it…if all of your content was in one ecosystem, why switch? Also, which other ecosystem offers an amazing service like iCloud for free?

The study was conducted over 4,500 interviews of  smartphone owners in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, China, the U.S. and Japan, finding that the iPhone had the highest retention of customers, followed by devices running Google’s Android OS and RIM’s BlackBerry, with 60% and 48% respectively. According to GfK  analyst  Ryan Garner, he notes that an average 63% of respondents plan to replace their current device with one running the same OS. In fact, manufactures are also trying to gain customer loyalty since the mobile market is quickly being saturated. Shockingly,  one in five consumers who own both an iPad and iPhone believe that switching to another OS would be more difficult than changing bank accounts or gas or electricity providers.

This leads me to believe that maybe customers just want a fantastic product that just works after-all.

Apple Grand Central Store to Open Soon

Earlier this year, it was  confirmed  that Apple is opening a new store in New York’s Grand Central soon, and it  looks absolutely  stunning.  The store is expected to occupy 23,000 feet (crazy!). It is also expected to generate half-a-billion in sales a year!

Apple Store Grand Central Display

Today, Apple has sent a photo of a new display outside the still-under construction store to Gothamist, which says:  “Apple Store. Grand Central. Arriving Soon.” An anonymous source told the  New York Post  that the store is  on track  to open on Friday, Dec. 9. The report also suggested that a media event is being planned by Apple and railroad officials for that date,  though the initial opening could be a VIP-only event with a public grand opening on Saturday, Dec. 10. However, no official grand opening date has been given from Apple.

Apple reached a 10 year deal with the New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority in July for the space, and paid $5 million to buy  out the remaining eight years on Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur restaurant’s lease. The company is said to be paying anywhere from $800,000 to $1.1 million per year in rent for the location.

 

Samsung Galaxy S II Ad Mimics iPhone Line-waiters

As if patent lawsuits weren’t enough for copy-cat Samsung, now they have started to mimic iPhone line waiters. I really don’t understand how a company is supposed to win existing iPhone customers overs by insulting Apple product owners, but OK. Today, a new television ad by Samsung demonstrates its on-going rivalry with Apple by taking a swing at customers waiting in line for the iPhone. To me, this seems like a sign of jealousy. Why? Because nobody ever waits in line for a Samsung phone. In fact, when was the last time Apple insulted any of its customers during an iPhone ad? If you answered never, that’s correct.

Apple vs Samsung

According to Mashable, Samsung’s Galaxy S II smartphone commercial was set to debut on Facebook on Tuesday and begin airing on TV on Thanksgiving. The ad starts off by showing groups of people    waiting in line in major cities across the U.S. in an obvious reference to the crowds that Apple traditionally draws to its iPhone product launches. Samsung also takes a stab at battery problems with the iPhone 4S. HA! Who are they kidding? Android has had power management problems since day one, but have they ever mentioned that? Nope. In addition, Apple has already fixed the battery life issue. What’s really shameful is that Samsung does not mention the drawbacks of their phone. Unlike Apple, unfortunately, they continue to lie. For example, Samsung does not mention your phone may never receive an update. In an iPhone commercial, Apple demonstrates the true  iPhone experience.

The commercial also demonstrated a complaint that appeared after the iPhone 4S was unveiled.  “If it looks the same, how will people know I upgraded?” a line-waiter asked. Why, yes, Samsung! That would explain why they are selling like hotcakes. The company ends the  ad by boasting about the screen size and 4G capabilities. Once again, the lack of those two features in the iPhone 4S would explain why the iPhone 4S is selling like hotcakes, right?  Samsung’s ad concluded with the tagline: “The next big thing is already here.” That’s what…uhh, never-mind.

I personally find this offensive since I have waited in line many times before for an Apple product launch. The way Samsung portrays people waiting in line is not true in reality. Period.

Ultrabook Makers Turn to Plastic as Apple Controls Unibody Aluminum Supply

A while ago, PC makers announced an Apple MacBook Air copy known as the “Ultrabook”. These Ultrabooks are backed by Intel and the goal is to  create affordable thin-and-light notebooks that can undercut the MacBook Air on price. How’s that working out for them? Well rumor has it that initial shipments are under 50k. What a joke.

MacBook Air

Today, industry sources reported to DigiTimes that PC makers face limited capacity of unibody chassis, because computer numerical control, or CNC, machines can only produce one unibody frame every three hours. So if you do the math, that means that one machine can only produce eight units per day. In fact, Catcher Technology,    the largest unibody chassis maker, is said to be still giving priority supply to Apple. Hmmm…I wonder why? Maybe because Apple has a huge cashpile, which allows them to control the supply chain, and MacBook Airs actually generate money!

In an attempt to copy the design of the MacBook Air,  Ultrabook makers have also had a hard time securing unibody aluminum chassis, and have instead chosen to adopt new materials like high-density fiberglass, or an exterior aluminum chassis with plastic internal parts. This is just shameful and goes to show that Ultrabook makers have no taste. Apple would never allow this since they take design and quality of a product very seriously, but hey Apple’s still evil.

To top it off, the use of plastic will not only allow Ultrabook makers to increase the number of units produced, but it is also a cost-saving mesaure. A unibody chassis costs between $40 and $80, the new aluminum design with plastic internals is said to cost between $20 and $30.  Would you rather own the real deal (MacBook Air) or a wannabe copy (Ultrabook)? The choice is yours.

Apple Announces Worldwide Black Friday Sale

Oh hey! The holiday season is just about to get started and deals are being announced on a daily basis. Hot off the press today, Apple has begun putting teaser pages on its online stores for a “one -day shopping event” that will take place around the world this Friday.

Apple Black Friday 2011

Apple has been offering a sale on Black Friday for a while now and they are continuing the tradition this year. Speaking of sales, when was the last time Google offered a sale on Black Friday? The company has not revealed what items will be on sale this Friday. Black Friday occurs on the last Friday of November and is usually the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S.

Going by their teaser page, it seems that    customers will discover “amazing iPad, iPod and Mac gifts” during the one-day event. MacStories reports that the teaser page has appeared  on a number of Apple’s international online stores, including Australia, Italy and U.K., and the U.S.  store is expected to receive its own banner within hours.

The special one-day Apple shopping event. This Friday, November 25.

Mark your calendar now, and come back to the Apple Online Store for the special one-day event. You’ll discover amazing iPad, iPod and Mac gifts for everyone on your list.

MacRumors reports that “Apple’s discounts are typically relatively small compared to other retailers.” In addition, last year, Apple offered $101 discounts on their iMac, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines, with $11-$41 discounts on the iPods and iPads.

So folks, mark your calendar for the 25th! ;-)

Apple Could Become Leading Global PC Vendor in 2012

Apple logo

Lately, lots of “research reports” have been coming out on Apple. For example, last week, it was reported that Mac sales were continuing to surge despite a declining PC market in Europe. Today, a new report by research firm Canalys suggests that  Apple is expected to overtake HP and become the top PC maker in the world next year. Wait..what!? A company that has the least amount of marketshare is supposed to surpass the world’s largest PC maker. Maybe HP should have spun off its PC business after all. Oh, how times have changed.

Canalys is predicting this due to the number of projected sales of  both the iPad and Mac lineup. In fact, Apple already holds second place in the worldwide PC market, with tablet sales included, as of the third quarter of 2011. So, it is only a matter of time before they are number one. In addition,  Canalys has estimated that 2011 global PC shipments will reach 415 million, a 15 percent year over year increase due largely to the popularity of tablets like Apple’s iPad. Wait a second, there are other tablets? Apparently there are…the research firm also predicts that tablet shipments are  expected to reach 59 million by the end of 2011, with 22 million of those sales alone coming in the fourth quarter. Um yeah, I’m sure most of them are iPads. Canalys also mentioned that  Apple’s iPad will once again dominate tablet sales in the fourth quarter, though the newly released Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are also expected to boost sales. iPad is doomed indeed. Not to mention, since the announcement of the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s share price has gone down nearly 16%.

Amazon's share price Kindle Fire

In addition,  Canalys noted that PC makers are struggling to compete with Apple’s profitability, though the release of Android 4.0, known as “Ice Cream Sandwich,” may help sales of tablets that compete with the iPad. So wait, how exactly is Apple losing if the company is dominating in the “money-making” game? It is always about the money.

Finally,  Canalys also believes that Ultrabooks, a MacBook Air copy, aims to compete with Apple’s iPad, will drive notebook sales over the next five years. Let’s take that with a pinch of salt, eh?

 

 

AT&T Raises Subsidized iPhone 3GS Price to $0.99

Along with the iPhone 4S unveiling in October, Apple also announced a new price for the iPhone 3GS; free with a two-year contract from AT&T. Smart move because this shows that Apple is taking on the lower-end Android handset market head-on.

iPhone 3GS 99cents

Now, AT&T has raised the price of the iPhone 3GS smartphone to $0.99. Not a very smart move. One possible explanation for this decision comes from an AT&T employee, according to  MacRumors:

I work at AT&T, this is being done to help prevent fraud as the 99 cents cannot be billed to your bill. It must be charged to a credit or bank issued debt card. Fraudsters are using stolen identities to steal these handsets … been an issue since they went free.

In fact, the two-year old iPhone 3GS has been second-best selling smartphone in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year, behind only its successor, the iPhone 4. I don’t understand how this is possible if Android is “winning”. Also, it should be noted that the iPhone 3GS is available for $0 with a two year contract at Apple Stores, Wal Marts, Best Buys, Radio Shacks, Targets, etc.

Bottom line is that over four years after the original iPhone, AT&T is still stupid. I still don’t see the need for a price raise…

 

 

Apple Claims Potential Injunction Against iCloud Could Result in $2.7 Billion Loss

The patent war continues between Apple and a majority of companies. If it isn’t with Apple wannabe Samsung, it is with HTC. But wait! There’s more. Apple is also involved in a patent lawsuit with Motorola. Last April, Motorola originally sued Apple regarding MobileMe due to data synchronization patent. The case has sure gotten ugly since then.

Apple vs. MotorolaAccording to Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, it was a “dreadful” day for Apple, during a hearing held  Friday in the German city of Mannheim. It appears that a German court appears poised to rule against Apple and in favor of Motorola over alleged patent infringement related to iCloud. Honestly, I’m not surprised by the decision because Motorola is known to hold a lot of mobile related patents. Mueller said that at this point in the proceedings, the court does not appear to believe any of Apple’s arguments, and he’s confident that if the court made a ruling on Friday, it would have been in favor of Motorola Mobility. He also points out that the case can cost Apple $2.7 billion! Holy moly!

The court doesn’t appear to buy any of Apple’s defenses at this stage. It may still change mind until the ruling, which is scheduled for February 3, 2012, 9 AM local time, but if it had had to rule today, I have no doubt that Apple would have lost.

Fortunately for Apple,  a final decision is not scheduled to be delivered until Feb. 3, 2012. But Mueller still feels that Motorola is “fairly likely” to win a patent injunction against Apple’s iCloud product.

According to AppleInsider, the lawsuit is related to  European Patent 0847654 (B1), entitled “Multiple Pager Status Synchronization System and Method.” It is the European equivalent of  U.S. Patent No. 5,754,119, which carries the same name.

In addition, the judge raised the possibility of  Apple developing a workaround for iCloud to avoid infringing Motorola’s patent, but Apple’s lawyers pressed their case that the risk to Apple’s business was still severe.