Apple Defends “4G” Branding for iPad in Australia

Last month, we reported that Apple was accused of 4G marketing claims on the new iPad by the Australian government. Then, within 24 hours, it was reported that Apple was offering refunds to people who bought its latest iPad on Telstra’s network in Australia. Now, Apple has filed a defense in Australia’s federal court this week disputing the accusations, reports The Australian.

Apple says the branding is technically correct despite the lack of compatibility with the country’s existing 4G networks. This statement is in regarding to an earlier accusation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that by including “4G” in the iPad’s branding it could potentially mislead buyers into thinking that the device would work on existing Australian 4G networks.

The third generation iPad uses the 700MHz and 2100MHz frequencies to connect with so-called 4G networks, but only the 2100MHz frequent is available for mobile communications use in Australia. Currently, the three carries use the UMTS standard on the 2100MHz band, marketing it as a 3G technology.

A full hearing is expected to begin in May.



Google Pad Coming Up In July

Google had initially planned to launch an iPad competitor in May, but the release of that device has been delayed till at least July to give it a competitive price. Said to be priced at around $200 (down from the original $250), this device is almost a steal when compared to the reduced-price iPad versions.

There were always strong rumors about Google releasing its tablet in the first half of this year. Currently,  the company plans to seek approval from Chinese authorities to go ahead and use Motorola facilities to manufacture hardware products that it will release in future.d to the reduced-price iPad versions. As Google already offers phones co-
stared by Samsung, moving into the tablet market will not be a random move as it partners with Asus in this venture.

Techie-buzz has already broken the news that the tablet will be available through the Google online tablet stores. Google has recently rebranded their market place as Google Play, which collates its app stores, ebook stores, and so on. As its ecosystem is setting up, hopefully, this product will not be a fiasco like the Google phone (though there are claims that it was a pilot test for Google anyway). It remains to be seen if that product was just a dry run for mass deployment of future Google hardware products.

Some features that are rumored to be part of the Google tablet are:

  • 7-inch display
  • Wifi
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor (or dual-core processor)

The question on my mind is on which features will Google compromise on save costs; the hardware quality or the processor?

This device would also be a strong competitor for the Kindle Fire. It seems to target the market segment where volume sales are a higher priority than quality features (as is the iPad’s focus). It is already hard enough for other devices like the Kindle Fire to even come close to matching the iPad’s popularity primarily because of its lack of hardware features like the camera, in addition to the relatively smaller repository of apps. It remains to be seen what the “Google Pad” will bring to the market.

One Third of U.S. High School Students Now Own an iPhone

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.

Facebook Updates iOS Apps for iPad’s Retina Display

Knowing Facebook’s track record for updating their iOS apps, it is a surprise that the company has updated the app for the iPad’s Retina display so quickly! Today, Facebook has released v4.1.1 an update for its native iOS app.

Facebook iPad Retina display

The main addition of this update is the new Retina display graphics for Apple’s latest generation iPad. In addition, options for several new languages have been added. The update has added support for Czech, Danish, Greek, Indonesian, Malaysian, Norwegian (Bokmal), Portuguese (Portugal), and Thai. Also, users who wish to go offline from Facebook chat now have the option to manually appear offline.

Several bugs have been fixed as well. Now a person’s friends list should display all friends. User names will display correctly in photo sets, and profile images should load correctly in groups of people who like a particular Facebook page. Another bug that has been fixed is the cause of the accidental friend request notifications.

The Facebook app is available for free via the App Store.

Apple Agrees with iPad ‘4G’ Marketing Ruling in Australia, Encounters New Complaint in Norway

Oh boy, what a week it has been for Apple in Australia. Just this week, Apple had been accused by the Australian government of 4G marketing claims on the new iPad.

Apparently the issue was raised by the company’s use of “4G” in its marketing terms for the WiFi + 4G/LTE models of the new iPad. The company responded by offerring full refunds to Australian customers who felt misled about Apple’s 4G advertising. Currently, the iPad only works on 4G LTE networks in the United States and Canada.

Now, the Norwegian government has raised a complaint regarding this too. Similar to Australia, Norway has instructed the company to change the wording of its marketing materials.

The Norwegian Forbrukerombudet, or Consumer Ombudsman has expressed concern over the emphasis on the new iPad’s 4G LTE support and the description of the product as ‘designed with next-generation wireless technology”.

The Ombudsman has given Apple until April 10, 2012 to make the necessary changes.

Nexus Tablet: Why It is Different from a Nexus Phone

Google Nexus Phone

In the past few days, the rumors of Google making and selling their own tablet have gained steam. The rumors also point to a Kindle Fire-like price point of $199. The instant reaction is to look at Google’s earlier attempt to sell hardware directly to consumers, the Nexus One phone. We know it was a failed experiment which Google acknowledged, by shutting down the operations.

Nexus tablet, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I have firmly believed that tablets should not be sold by the carriers. Yes, there are some options with tablets where you can get cellular broadband service, but first and foremost, a tablet should be sold like a PC. I mean, a computer store or a consumer electronics store. Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and the like. The carriers can also hop in and sell the 3G/4G versions of the tablets like they tried selling the 3G-enabled netbooks. So, taking the sales point away from the carrier stores is a good sign. Compare this with the phone where, at least in the US, it is extremely hard to sell a phone without subsidies. Nokia tried it long time ago and failed. Even Apple briefly tried the unsubsidized route but realized people are much more sensitive to upfront price than you would think. Given that the sale of the phone is tied so much to a carrier, it does not make much sense to conduct the sale away from the carrier. Apple is clearly an exception here, like in many business processes today.

Secondly, the price. If the rumors are true and the tablet is in fact around $199, it will be a huge win. A stock Android tablet with no “skins” installed, for $199 could be an interesting device. Kindle Fire has its ecosystem to rely upon but out of the box, it does limit which Android apps can run on the device. If a Nexus tablet can run all Android apps, and additionally support Amazon media consumption (either via Amazon apps like Kindle app or via the browser for Amazon Video), it becomes a superset of the Fire, for the same price as the Fire. Yes, the current Android tablets already do all of that, I understand. However, none of them have gained any traction yet, and if Google can get behind the marketing and sales, and create a Nexus phone-style clean and crisp user experience, I think users may get interested.

In fact, if this strategy does not work, you can presumably call it the end of the road for Android tablets.

Google Planning to Launch Online Tablet Store

Google may be planning to launch its own online tablet store, according to a report by the WSJ.

Google is rumored to be working on its own Nexus tablets, to target the budget segment and capture more share of the tablet market, since it clearly hasn’t been able to do very well in competing with the iPad in the premium segment.

Speculation suggests that it may sell not only its own Nexus tablets, but also other co-branded tablets directly to consumers through its store.

With its Motorola acquisition, Google now has the capabilities to manufacture its own hardware, besides working with hardware partners.

Google has tried the direct online sales model before in the smartphone market, with the Nexus One, but it didn’t do very well in the U.S., where most smartphone sales are driven by carriers. However, the tablet market is quite different, with sales driven by retailers.

Like smartphones, Google doesn’t intend to make money directly from tablet sales, but by mobile advertising on tablet devices. Having an online store will allow it to lower costs, and offer its tablets for even lower.

Unlike the smartphone market, which is currently dominated by Android, Google has failed to capture much market share in the tablet space, which is still ruled by the Apple iPad.

With Windows 8 still months away from launch, Google has a good window of opportunity to capture a majority market share at least in the budget segment.

51% of American Households Own An Apple Product

A new conducted by CNBC reveals that there is an Apple product in over 55 million U.S. homes, and one in ten household that do not own an Apple product plan to make a purchase in the next year.

Apple CNBC survey

According to the survey, Apple products have a unique momentum has the average home as three such devices. In addition, income level is a strong indicator of Apple product ownership. 28 percent of those making under $30k/year own one, compared with 77 percent of those making more than $75,000. Higher earners own an average of about three Apple devices.

“It’s a fantastic business model — the more of our products you own, the more likely you are to buy more,” says Jay Campbell, a vice president of Hart Research Associates, which conducts the CNBC survey along with Bill McInturff. “Planned obsolescence has always been a part of the technology industries sales model, but Apple has taken it to a whole new level.”

63 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 reported that they were Apple users, which reflected  the answers of 35-to-49-year-olds. However, ownership of Apple products fell moving up the scale, with only half of 50 to 64 year olds and 26 percent of those aged 65 and up using an Apple product.

Apple products also seemed to be popular with children as over 61 percent of households with kids own at least one. This is 13 percent more than homes without 17 and under family members.

The poll was conducted between 19th-22nd of March and consisted of answers from 836 Americans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Rumor: Amazon to Launch 3 New Kindle Fire Models in 2012

Amazon launched the Kindle Fire to enter the booming tablet space in late 2011. The Kindle Fire has been a huge hit, selling millions of units, and is probably the most popular tablet after the Apple iPad.

According to a new report by a Taiwanese daily, Amazon may be planning to launch three new variants of the Kindle Fire in 2012. With the three new Kindle Fire models, it will target different segments of the market.

1. 7 inch Kindle Fire (1024 x 600 pixels)
2. 7 inch Kindle Fire (1280 x 800 pixels)
3. 8.9 inch Kindle Fire (1920 x 1200 pixels)

All three variants will likely have different hardware configurations as well. The low end 7 inch model will likely be priced at $199 and compete with cheap Android tablets, while the high end 8.9 inch one will compete with the iPad and premium Android tablets. All three variants will be assembled by Taiwanese manufacturers like Quanta.

Amazon will have to roll out a better budget tablet soon, if it wants to compete with the rumored Google Nexus tablet, which will supposedly be priced in the same range. It will likely price all these tablets as low as it can, and just barely break even, while making money by selling content on the tablets, like it always has.

Apple Offers Refunds to People Who Bought Its Latest iPad on Telstra’s Network in Australia

Earlier this morning, we reported that the Australian government had accused Apple of 4G marketing claims on the new iPad.

ABC News iPad tweet

Apparently the issue was raised by the company’s use of “4G” in its marketing terms for the WiFi + 4G/LTE models of the new iPad, while 4G LTE compatibility is only offered in the United and States and Canada due to different frequency bands used for LTE in different countries.

Now, ABCNews via a tweet has confirmed that Apple has agreed to offer a refund to people who bought its latest iPad, which it admits is not compatible with Telstra’s 4G network.