Apple Again Tops U.S. Retail Chains in Sales

According to a new report from research firm Retail Sails, Apple’s retail stores have been ranked as the highest sales per square foot in the U.S.. Apple’s retail stores have been ranked number 1 for the second time in a row. This is more than double that of second-place Tiffany & Co, earning $3,017.

Besides Apple and Tiffany’s, no retailer was able to surpass $2,000 per square foot. The No. 3 chain lulu lemon athletic earned $1,936. Apple also made the top 10 retailers list with the highest overall sales per store. Apple came in at No. 9, behind wholesale retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club, as well as Neiman Marcus and Walmart. Retail Sail’s data comes from an analysis of more than 200 American retailers across 15 sectors.

Apple Offering Select Employees Two Week Breaks for “Special Projects”

The Wall Street Journal (via Business Insider) reports that Apple is now allowing a small group of employees to spend up to two weeks working on special projects outside of their standard job responsibilities. According to the report, this initiative is dubbed “Blue Sky”.

Apple’s program is similar to Google’s long-standing “20 percent time.” Google’s “20 percent time” allows employees to spend one day a week on side projects that may create usable products or solutions.

Tim Cook apparently started “Blue Sky” earlier this year, though an exact date was not revealed.

Apple Rolls Out Software Update For June-2012 MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros

Apple has started rolling out a new software update for all the Macs that it had introduced in June 2012, including the MacBook Air and the 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina.

The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0 weighs in at 127MB and the change-log from Apple suggests that it includes “graphics performance and reliability improvements and improves compatibility with some USB devices”.

Apple recommends this update to all the June 2012 MacBooks, so do update if you own one of them. Early reports suggest that the update has fixed the freezing issues that many people experienced for around 30 seconds when they plugged in a USB drive to their Retina MacBook Pro(s). It, however, does not fix the image burn-in issues on the Retina MacBook Pro(s) with an LG display panel, or the flickering issues that have plagued rMBP owners since quite sometime.

Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue Joins Ferrari’s Board of Directors

Today, Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of Internet Software and Services has joined Ferrari’s board of directors. Cue loves sports cars and said he said has owned a Ferrari for five years. Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo said Cue’s “huge experience in the dynamic, innovative world of the Internet will be of great assistance to [the company].”

I am pleased and proud to become a member of the board. I have personally dreamed of owning a Ferrari since I was 8 years old and have been lucky to be an owner for the past 5 years. I continue to be awed by the world-class design and engineering that only Ferrari can do.

Last week, Apple announced that Eddy Cue will also be responsible for Siri and Maps.

Apple Considering Dropping Intel Chips in Future Macs

A new report from Bloomberg reveals that Apple is considering dropping Intel CPUs in favor of its own chip design. Last year, it was rumored that was considering switching  Intel to ARM processors in future laptops. Also, a year ago, Apple acquired Anobit, an Israeli based flash memory company for $500M.

Apple engineers have grown confident that the chip designs used for its mobile devices will one day be powerful enough to run its desktops and laptops, said three people with knowledge of the work, who asked to remain anonymous because the plans are confidential. Apple began using Intel chips for Macs in 2005.

While Apple is now committed to Intel in computers and is unlikely to switch in the next few years, some engineers say a shift to its own designs is inevitable as the features of mobile devices and PCs become more similar, two people said. Any change would be a blow to Intel, the world’s largest processor maker, which has already been hurt by a stagnating market for computers running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software and its failure to gain a foothold in mobile gadgets.

Recently, the company moved away from third party chips to its own in-house chips for iOS devices like the A4, A5 and the just-released A6X chips. In my opinion, when this occurred, it was inevitable that Apple would replace Intel chips with their own in-house solution in Macs. It isn’t a question of when, but instead just a matter of time.

Apple Sells Three Million iPads in Opening Weekend

Today, Apple announced that it sold three million iPads since the launch of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad on Friday. The company did not give separate sales numbers for the iPad and iPad mini, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Usually, Apple doesn’t reveal sales numbers of particular device. Apple did say that the sales of the iPad mini exceeded initial supply though.

Apple today announced it has sold three million iPads in just three days since the launch of its new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad—double the previous first weekend milestone of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models sold for the third generation iPad in March. The Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of both iPad mini and fourth generation iPad will ship in a few weeks in the US and in many more countries later this year.

“Customers around the world love the new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We’re working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand.”

The company also said that while many iPad mini preorders shipped to customers, some are scheduled to be shipped later this month.

Apple Starts Running iPad mini ‘Piano’ TV Ad

With the launch of the iPad mini, Apple started to run a new television ad for the device. This ad was showed off during last week’s media event and in my opinion, it is one of Apple’s best ad ever.

The ad is called “Piano” and does not have any voice over. Instead, the ad features GarageBand running on the full-size iPad playing one hand of the two-hand duet from ‘Heart and Soul‘. This piano piece is an easy-to-learn piece among beginner pianists. Seconds after, the iPad mini appears, playing the second part of the duet. Simplicity and brilliance at its best.

Apple Releases iOS 6.0.1

Today, Apple has released iOS 6.0.1. The update fixes a keyboard screen glitch, camera flash issues, and more. iPhone 5 users are first required to install an “updater” application to fix a bug that would otherwise prevent over-the-air updates. After it is installed, users can update to iOS 6.0.1 from their devices.

This update contains improvements and bug fixes, including:

– Fixes a bug that prevents iPhone 5 from installing software updates wirelessly over the air
– Fixes a bug where horizontal lines may be displayed across the keyboard
– Fixes an issue that could cause camera flash to not go off
– Improves reliability of iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation) when connected to encrypted WPA2 Wi-Fi networks
– Resolves an issue that prevents iPhone from using the cellular network in some instances
– Consolidated the Use Cellular Data switch for iTunes Match
– Fixes a Passcode Lock bug which sometimes allowed access to Passbook pass details from lock screen
– Fixes a bug affecting Exchange meetings


Bob Mansfield’s Return to Apple Reportedly Due to Scott Forstall’s Departure

Earlier this week, it was reported that Scott Forstall will no longer be at Apple beginning next year. Now AllThingsD takes a behind the scenes look regarding the situation with Bob Mansfield. Earlier this year, Mansfield announced his retirement as hardware chief in late June. Then two months later, he receded the move in order to work on special projects under CEO Tim Cook. This week’s management change makes Mansfield in charge of a new “Technologies” division and has committed to remaining at the company for at least two more years.

AllThingsD reports that Mansfield was indeed considering retirement earlier this year and was told to stay on in an advisory capacity to ease the transition. However, his commitment to take charge of the new Technologies division was reportedly due to the departure of Scott Forstall.

In addition to Mansfield taking on a new role, several new changes were made to the management this week. Jonathan Ive added software design to  his existing hardware design responsibilities, Eddy Cue is in charge of Siri and Maps, and Craig Federighi adding iOS to his OS X responsibilities.

iTunes 11 Delayed

Today, an Apple spokeperson told AllThingsD said that the launch of iTunes 11 will be pushed back until November. This news comes after Apple in September revealed that the new version would be ready for launch by October.

“The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,” said spokesman Tom Neumayr. “We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface, and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”

iTunes 11 is expected to be a complete redesign to the user interface of the iTunes app itself and the iTunes Store.