Speaking to a Chinese media on Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said his company is planning to open 25 retail locations over the next two years, putting a number on previous promises to triple Apple's footprint in the country.
Cook noted Apple currently has 15 Apple Stores operating in China, meaning the additional outlets would greatly boost the company's official presence in the region, reports Reuters, citing a transcript of an interview posted to Sina.com.
The comments come almost five months after Cook said the number of Chinese Apple Stores would triple over the next two years.
"We plan to triple the number of Apple Retail Stores [in China] over the next two years. We're continuing to expand in online. We're continuing to build out channels," Cook said during Apple's earnings call in May. "We're up to 40,000 points of sales now in iPhone, but we're not nearly where we need to be on the rest of our product line and even the 40,000 is a low number in considering the broad landmass and the number of folks in China. And so, I feel like there's still loads of opportunity there, and feel really, really good about how we're doing."
It is unclear where the stores will be located, though Apple is moving beyond flashy flagship locations with grand glass entryways like those in Shanghai. In July, for example, an installation opened at a high-end mall in Wuxi, more in line with Apple's current U.S. strategy. Former retail chief Ron Johnson said in 2011 that an initial plan to roll out 25 Chinese Apple Stores was nixed as the company concentrated on bigger spaces. Cook is obviously moving on to the next stage.
Cook is in China visiting to visit with Vice Premier Ma Kai over issues related to data privacy, with the meeting coming on the heels of a targeted iCloud attack activist group GreatFire.org alleges involved the Chinese government. On Wednesday, the Apple chief stopped by Foxconn's iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, where he met with assembly line workers.
On Tuesday, Apple published an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that describes a technology called “accessory control with geo-fencing” that would surround a vehicle with a virtual field or boundary known as a geofence. This geofence would detect your proximity to the car through your iPhone and automatically perform tasks like unlocking the door, starting the vehicle, and opening the trunk.
Starting your car with your phone is nothing new. There are many apps on the market that will allow a device to do similar things, but Apple aims to perform these tasks automatically when you enter or exit the geofence’s radius.
For example: If you’re leaving the car, the iPhone will send a signal to lock the doors and set the alarm as you exit the geofence. It will then automatically unlock the doors and turn off the alarm as your re-enter it. Depending on if there’s more than one geofence, you could walk to the back of the car and the iPhone will send a signal to open the trunk.
This technology doesn’t necessarily mean it’s limited to inside or outside of the geofence. The patent application explains that a long distance signal could start your car to warm it up when it detects you’re on your way.
Apple describes the “Accessory control with geo-fencing” in its patent application below:
A vehicle accessory can transmit a first signal to a mobile device, the first signal including a location of a vehicle. The mobile device can monitor its own location. The mobile device can assess whether one or more location-based criteria have been satisfied based on the location of the mobile device and the location of the vehicle. Upon determining that a location-based criterion has been satisfied, the mobile device can transmit a second signal to the vehicle accessory indicating that a function of the vehicle is to be controlled. Thus, for example, the mobile device can activate or de-activate vehicle features (e.g., door locking, vehicle defrosting, etc.) in a manner that capitalizes on efficient signal transmission.
There’s no guarantee that this will see the light of day as it’s only a patent, but the idea seems interesting.
Apple has launched a new web service called Maps Connect that allows small business owners to manage their listings on Apple Maps along with a tool for setting up indoor positioning in select areas. Companies can enter their own listings and verify via a phone call or email address.
The iBeacon-powered indoor mapping tool allows businesses to setup interior views of their businesses on Apple Maps to help guide users through their venues. This tool is currently limited only to locations that meet specific criteria, such as Wi-Fi throughout the building and at least 1 million visitors per year.
Updates to both services will reportedly take about a week to show up on Maps, according to Search Engine Land. A listing on Apple Maps means Siri will be able to find your business, so this tool could prove very powerful for small businesses that currently don’t have any presence on Apple’s mapping service.
The full terms for the indoor mapping service are below:
Read Me Before Signing Up
Thank you for your interest in Apple’s new indoor positioning technology. We
have received an overwhelming response on this service and we are prioritizing
our efforts to focus on venues with the following attributes:
Accessible to the general public
Annual visitors in excess of 1 million per year
Availability of complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps
Enabled with Wi-Fi throughout
Associated app is authorized by venue owner
According to a recently filed disclosure, Apple spent a little over $1 million over the third quarter on lobbying issues like consumer health data, safe driving, e-books and data privacy, among others.
For the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2014, Apple spent a total of $1,010,000 on a variety of lobbying activities, the company reported in a government disclosure filed on Monday. Apple's contributions are on the low end of a quickly rising industry standard fueled by aggressive solicitation from the likes of Google and other major tech companies.
In all, Apple's money addressed 39 specific lobbying issues, including those tied to existing and future products like e-book publishing, online safety, copyright and patent reform, safe driving (CarPlay) and regulation of mobile medical devices and health software applications (Apple Watch and HealthKit). The company also lobbied for IP infringement, ITC litigation reform and other issues pertaining to legal proceedings.
Continuing its push for consumer privacy, Apple lobbied for change in government requests for data, a hot button topic in recent months. International trade issues were also of concern. Finally, Apple pushed for corporate tax reform and international tax reform, both topics affecting its offshore cash hoard.
As noted by Computerworld, Apple's $1 million lobbying fund is small compared to fellow tech giants Google and Facebook, which spent $3.94 million and $2.54 million over the same three-month period, respectively. Other industry players included Verizon with $2.91 million, Microsoft at $1.66 million and Amazon with $1.18 million.
Hackers have reportedly begun targeting iCloud users in mainland China, utilizing a so-called "man-in-the-middle" approach in an attempt to steal user information, with one group accusing the Chinese government itself of perpetrating the attack.
The attacks were first revealed by Chinese activist group GreatFire.org, which said the latest efforts resemble previous attacks on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Hotmail. The organization has alleged that China's government is involved in the attacks, according to Reuters.
The attacks are said to have incredibly deep access to the servers of Chinese Internet providers, leading to speculation that the government-owned companies are cooperating in the attack. Security researchers say that Greatfire.org's claims appear to be accurate, though the Chinese government has denied the accusations.
The attacks first came to light when users in China began to receive security warnings from Apple's iCloud service. That led Chinese Internet activist Zhou Shuguang to investigate.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Zhou found that a so-called "man-in-the-middle" attack had been implemented between iCloud users and the server where data is hosted. His findings were also corroborated by security analyst Erik Hjelmvik of Netresec AB, who called the attack "quite massive" and "sophisticated."
Analysts who spoke with the Journal alleged that Chinese iCloud users' data stored in the cloud, including usernames and passwords, could be at risk if the attackers can decrypt the communication between users and iCloud servers in China. However, there was no immediate evidence that the hackers have been able to decrypt the data.
And while GreatFire.org has accused the Chinese government of being volved, some critics say the fact that users are alerted of security warnings suggest attack is too easily detected for the government to have played a part.
Apple announced its financial results for Q4 2014 this afternoon and the numbers were big.
Backed by strong iPhone and Mac sales, Apple posted $42.1 billion in quarterly revenue, with $8.5 billion net profits, or $1.42 per diluted share. Both profit and revenue for the quarter bested Apple’s previous record in the year ago quarter.
Sales of the iPhone hit 39.3 million units in the quarter, while iPad sales slumped to 12.3 million. Mac sales continued to surprise with 5.5 million thanks to back-to-school sales, and iPod sales were at 2.6 million units.
Apple also annouced that it is paying a dividend of $0.47 per share starting on November 14th, 2014. Regarding Apple’s earning, CEO Tim Cook released the following statement:
“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”
Apple CFO Luca Maestri says strong business performance led to a record #13.3 billion in cash flow during September. He also noted that the company is still agressively executing its capitol return program, with $20 billion in spending last quarter.
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