Lunch with Tim Cook and two VIP keynote tickets,bidding starts at Apple Watch Edition

Apr 15, 2015 - 11:29 AM - by sparkyscott21

Going once, going twice, sold! In what has now become an annual event, Apple CEO Tim Cook is participating in a charity auction through the fundraising site Charitybuzz for the third year in a row. The bidding period, which kicked off today, lasts just over three weeks with the highest bid on May 6th winning the prize and the money going to charity. The prize? Lunch with Tim Cook at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California, plus two VIP tickets to attend a future Apple keynote event.

Cook chose the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights campaign as his charity pick, continuing the tradition of both auctions over the past two years. While the starting bid picks up at $10,000 (or one Apple Watch Edition in new product parlance), the auction’s estimated value is set at $100,000 with the proceeds going to RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Do we expect the Apple CEO’s latest charity auction to raise $100,000? In 2013, Cook’s fundraising attempt set an estimated value of $50,000 and eventually closed at an impressive $610,000. A year later, Cook’s charity auction doubled the estimated value to $100,000, same as this year, and raised a lesser $310,000 for the RFK group.

Other Apple executives including Eddy Cue and Ian Rogers from Beats Music have similarly ran charity fundraisers through the auction site. Will you be donating for the chance to talk Apple Watch over lunch with Tim Cook and attend an Apple keynote event?


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Apple buys multi-lens, DSLR-quality camera tech with $20M purchase of LinX Imaging

Apr 14, 2015 - 2:49 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple on Tuesday confirmed that it has purchased Israel-based camera technology company LinX Imaging, which specializes in "multi-aperture imaging technology" for DSLR-quality images, for a price of about $20 million.

Word of the acquisition was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, and Apple confirmed that the company had in fact been bought. Prior to the deal being closed, the two companies were said to be discussion an acquisition price of around $20 million.

The company's website boasts that LinX cameras are "significantly smaller than any camera on the market today, leading the way to DSLR performance in its slim handsets."

Apple, of course, has placed great emphasis on the picture taking abilities of its iPhone series, and even ran a recent ad campaign spotlighting photographs taken with the flagship iPhone 6.

An image sensor created by Linx Imaging

LinX cameras use multiple sensors to capture both 2D and 3D images. Applications can tap into the 3D picture to refocus an image after it has been taken, in a fashion similar to capabilities offered by the Lytro camera.

The 3D data can allow applications to measure the true dimensions of objects, create 3D object modeling, and also accomplish real-time background replacement in video.

LinX's site says that its technology "sets new standards for image quality parameters such as low light performance, HDR, refocusing, color fidelity, shutter lag and more."

The technology created by LinX aligns with a rumor that surfaced late last year, suggesting that Apple's 2015 iPhone update could employ a two-lens system for vastly improved photographs. Specifically, Apple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball claimed that the so-called "iPhone 6 Plus" might boast the largest camera jump ever, to "DSLR quality imagery."


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Apple only takes 15% cut on HBO Now, Netflix, and Hulu subscriptions

Apr 14, 2015 - 1:13 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple scored a huge win for Apple TV by making it the only platform your can watch HBO Now on for the next three months, and according to a new report, Apple might be rewarding HBO by taking a much lower cut on subscription fees than cable companies.

Apple has been taking a 30 percent cut anytime a company signs up a customer for a service through an iOS app. Publishers bristled at Apple’s policy when it was introduced in 2011, however, when it comes to subscriptions purchased through Apple TV, Apple has decided to reduced its take by 50%.

Financial details for Apple’s deal with HBO haven’t been publicly revealed, but a report from Recode’s Peter Kafka claims most content providers only give Apple 15% of each new signup.

“While Apple and its partners have never talked about it publicly, my understanding is that a handful of video services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and pro-baseball’s MLB.TV, give Apple 15 percent of their monthly fees for any subscriber who signs up on Apple TV.”

Even if Apple is charging the full 30% is still a huge discount over what publishers are paying the cable companies, which charge companies like HBO and Starz 50 percent of each new sign up.

Until now, the way customers sign up for a new service hasn’t been a big deal to video distributors. Executives that Recode spoke too say that Apple TV sign-ups have been an ‘insignificant source of new customers.” That could soon change though with the Apple TV’s new price drop and a new model expected to be announced soon.


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China overtakes U.S. for iOS app downloads

Apr 14, 2015 - 1:10 PM - by sparkyscott21

China is now beating the United States on iOS downloads

Tim Cook has been staunchly outspoken in his belief that it’s only a matter of time before China overtakes the U.S. as Apple’s biggest customer.

According to a new report from app analytics company App Annie, that benchmark has now been passed when it comes to app downloads — with China leading the way in the first quarter of 2015.

But which country is winning in the all-important revenue generating category?

Things aren’t quite so cut-and-dried when it comes to the correlation between downloads and revenue, however.

Interestingly, here China shrinks back to the number three spot — behind both the United States and the much-smaller Japan, which has a population of just 127.3 million versus China’s 1.357 billion.

While China saw strong growth in iOS revenue during the year’s first quarter, it was not enough to reclaim its lead in the download category.

Since pre-orders of the exclusive gold Apple Watch Edition sold out within one hour of their going on sale in China, and iPhone market share in the country has never been higher, Apple is having no problem selling hardware to Chinese customers. But when it comes to software, today’s report suggests that far, far fewer people are willing to pay for it.

Given that Apple makes the lion’s share of its revenue from selling physical products that’s not exactly a troubling trend, but it’s certainly something to take on board as Apple continues to market and more heavily toward a Chinese audience.


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Chinese Apple Pay launch delayed by stalled bank negotiations, maybe UK too

Apr 14, 2015 - 12:41 PM - by sparkyscott21

The launch of Apple Pay in China, originally expected to be part of iOS 8.3, has been delayed by stalled negotiations with both the state-owned card processor UnionPay and Chinese banks, reports MarketWatch. Developers had originally been told that iOS 8.3 would support UnionPay, but found that support was missing when the update rolled out last week.

A UnionPay employee who declined to be named said the company has not reached any agreements with the U.S. tech company, and no timetable for cooperation has been set.

Those sources also say Apple has not made any breakthroughs in talks with Chinese banks, which would also have to agree for the Apple Pay system to work.

The banks are reportedly unhappy about the cut Apple takes from each transaction …

In the U.S., card processors typically charge 2% for each credit card transaction, and Apple takes 0.15% from that slice. While the percentage is small, high transaction volumes mean that the total sums involved are substantial.

Chinese banks argued those charges were too steep, an employee of a large bank said. Many large banks that are already part of mature point-of-sale networks do not want to lose such a large percentage of their profits in a deal with Apple Pay, he said.

While Apple could begin the Chinese rollout with a limited number of banks, it cannot do so without UnionPay as the payment processor has a monopoly on card processing in the country.

There have been reports that Apple has hit similar issues with UK banks, meaning that Apple Pay will not launch in the UK in the first half of the year as had been widely expected.

The rollout of Apple Pay in the U.S. continues, with more than 180 banks and other financial institutions on board, and the payment method accepted at a total of 68 merchants.


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Apple WWDC 2015 is June 8th

Apr 14, 2015 - 12:10 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple announced on Tuesday that WWDC 2015 would take place from June 8th – June 12th in San Francisco, CA. The event will feature more than 100 technical sessions, over 1,000 Apple engineers, hands-on labs, and the Apple Design Awards.

Developers can apply for tickets now, but they’ll need to act fast as registration closes on Friday, April 17th at 10:00 am PDT. Tickets, offered by random selection, will cost $1,599, and those who apply will find out their status by Monday, April 20th at 5:00 pm PDT. The rest of us will have the opportunity to watch the event streamed live on Apple’s website.

Apple says that WWDC 2015 will focus on “the future of iOS and OS X,” so we can assume that both iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 will be on display.


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