Sales from Apple's iTunes Store have fallen significantly thus far in 2014, helping to push forward the company's alleged plans to revamp the recently acquired Beats Music and make it part of the iTunes brand.
Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that sales from Apple's iTunes Store have fallen between 13 and 14 percent so far this year. That's much worse than last year, when global revenue from music downloads fell 2.1 percent.
The report also reaffirmed an earlier rumor claiming that Apple may be looking to end the Beats Music brand, and instead repackage the service it acquired as part of a $3 billion acquisition of Beats earlier this year. It's been said that the branding change would more closely align the property with Apple's other first-party offerings, such as the iTunes Store and iTunes Radio.
According to the Journal, Beats Music will relaunch next year completely rebuilt, and integrated into iTunes.
The report comes on the heels of a fresh rumor this week that claimed Apple is looking to cut the price of its subscription music service to $5 per month. Currently, Beats Music costs $9.99 per month on a month-to-month basis, or $99.99 if users are willing to sign up for a full year.
The acquisition of Beats Music represented Apple's entrance into a key subscription market where iTunes Store downloads and iTunes Radio streaming service did not compete. The subscription Beats Music service allows on-demand streaming of tracks and albums, as opposed to the randomized nature of iTunes Radio.
Streaming has become increasingly important in the music industry as sales of digital albums have been declining. Many users who previously purchased music have been migrating to services like Spotify and Pandora.
Apple’s sapphire ambitions with GT Advanced Technology have been a complete disaster, but even though the plan to turn Mesa, Arizona into the Sapphire Capitol of the West failed, Apple executives are still looking for a way to repurpose its new factory.
The city of Mesa and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer bent over backwards to bring Apple to the Grand Canyon state, but now that GTAT plans to run down operations, Apple has told Recode it’s still committed to helping the area.
“We’re going to continue evaluating GTAT’s progress on larger sapphire boule development, as well as consider other options for the facility. We remain committed to the city and we’re going to work with Mesa and Maricopa County to help the GT Advanced employees who will be impacted by this find new jobs.”
GTAT filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month, after it failed to meet performance requirements which kept the company from receiving its final $139 million payment from Apple. As a result of the company’s bankruptcy, over 650 employees have been laid off after the plant opened less than a year ago.
The sapphire glass factory was expected to bring in over 2,000 jobs and $1 billion to the Mesa area, but after the project failed to produce a single sapphire iPhone display, Apple and GTAT reached a $439 million settlement to end all current agreements.
Developers can now invite up to a thousand people to test their beta applications for iOS via its TestFlight tool with just an email address, Apple announced on Thursday.
In a post to Apple's developer blog, the company said that up to 1,000 testers can now beta test iOS apps by simply sending an email invitation through iTunes Connect. Apple acquired TestFlight in February, gaining an easy way for developers to create and manage public app beta programs.
With TestFlight, developers can add beta testers using only their email address, and beta versions can be managed within the TestFlight app itself, without the cumbersome UDID-based provisioning processes used previously. Beta testers are notified as new app versions are released through the TestFlight app, and can perform in-place upgrades.
The TestFlight app also allows beta testers to provide feedback, while developers can deploy multiple builds of their app simultaneously.
Before Thursday's change, developers were limited to 100 devices per account. But now, developers can invite 1,000 testers per application, with different testers for separate apps.
In response to a recently discovered vulnerability with SSL version 3.0, Apple on Wednesday announced through its developer website that it will be removing support for the protocol on its Apple Push Notification server.
Apple will be switching off SSL 3.0 support in favor of the more secure transport layer security (TSL) protocol on Wednesday, Oct. 29, noting developers will have to build in support by that time to ensure uninterrupted push notification service continues.
Apps currently using both SSL 3.0 and TLS will not be affected by the change, but those using just SSL 3.0 will need to be updated.
Apple has disabled SSL 3.0 on the Provider Communication interface in the developer environment, offering developers a way to check their apps for compatibility. More information is available through Apple's Developer Portal.
Earlier this month, a vulnerability in the secure socket layer (SSL) version 3.0 was discovered by Google researchers, reports Computerworld. Called POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption), the discovered exploit introduces false errors when using TSL, forcing secure connections to downgrade back to the aging SSL 3.0 protocol. Nefarious users can then take advantage of a design flaw in SSL 3.0 to skim sensitive data from users' computers.
Apple subsequently rolled out workarounds protecting against possible attacks in the latest OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 software updates, as well as a security update for OS X Mavericks and Mountain Lion.
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.
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