Apple now selling more iPhones in China than in US, say analysts

Jan 26, 2015 - 11:33 AM - by sparkyscott21

Tim Cook said in October that it was “just a matter of time” before China overtook the USA as its biggest market, and it seems that time may be arriving sooner than expected – at least as far as the iPhone is concerned. The Financial Times reports that analysts expect tomorrow’s Q1 earnings call to confirm that Apple sold more iPhones in China than in the US.

Analysts at UBS estimate that China accounted for 36 per cent of iPhone shipments in the most recent quarter, compared with 24 per cent for the US. During the same period last year, 29 per cent of units were sold in the US and 22 per cent were in China, UBS said.

The view was supported by Creative Strategies, which forecast that Apple has sold around 2M more iPhones in China than in the US in the final calendar quarter of 2014 (Apple’s financial Q1) …

While the predictions relate only to iPhone sales, rather than to Apple’s total earnings, it would certainly be a huge step towards the future Cook predicted. The iPhone accounts for more than half of Apple’s revenue, and a greater share of profits. Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin believes this represents a tipping point for Apple.

“They will likely do more in China than US from here on out,” he said. “It certainly shows how important the China market is to Apple’s upside.”

Apple is opening retail stores in China at a rapid pace, the most recent one on Friday, with three more due to open before the Chinese New Year. The company also has plans to launch Apple Pay in China, possibly through a partnership with the country’s market-leading ecommerce company Alibaba.



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Apple's Beats Music, others hit by lawsuit for allegedly misappropriating pre-1972

Jan 24, 2015 - 2:46 PM - by sparkyscott21

Streaming music services like Apple's Beats Music, Google Play, Rdio and others are targets of a new volley of lawsuits claiming unpaid royalties on certain pre-1972 songs, potentially ending access to these older tracks.

The suit being leveled in California District Court by Zenbu Magazines, Inc., current owners of multiple tracks recorded prior to 1972, claims Apple's Beats Music and other streaming services misappropriated its content and illegally profited by selling subscription services without paying out royalties.

Along with Beats, Zenbu has filed identical suits against Sony, Google, Grooveshark, Rdio, Songz and Slacker citing the same issues, seeking class certification in each case. The suits were filed on Thursday and later reported by GigaOm.

According to plaintiffs' lead attorney Jack Fitzgerald, the streaming services copied and uploaded to their servers "tens of thousands" of songs recorded prior to Feb. 15, 1972 — the cutoff date for sound recordings to be afforded copyright protection under federal law — for distribution to paying customers. In Beats' case, the 1969 song "Sin City" by The Flying Burrito Brothers was cited as an example.

It is unclear if Zenbu's catalog is popular with on-demand customers and the papers do not detail potential licensing estimates, but if Apple and others determine the cost of keeping the content online does not warrant royalties, the songs may be taken out of rotation altogether. Such a decision could have repercussions on other pre-1972 songs, as seen in separate cases successfully leveraged against digital radio station SiriusXM.



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Asia’s Largest Apple Store Opens Up For Public In China

Jan 24, 2015 - 2:43 PM - by sparkyscott21

Did you know the largest Apple Store in Asia was just inaugurated? Located in China, the store has been opened up for public, and is making news across the globe. Head on after the jump for further details.

Dubbed the Westlake Apple Store, Apple’s sales and customer services point is located in Hangzhou, China, and such was the hype that in an uncharacteristic move, Tim Cook posted a picture of the store’s opening on his Twitter account. Showcasing the epitome of consumer excitement that the photo depicts, Cook said "Starting Something New in Hangzhou, China! #AppleStoreWestLake". More so, the flagship store has also been highlighted on Apple’s Chinese website under the retail section.

With the launch of iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, Tim Cook emphasized that Apple was looking forward to further penetrate the smartphone market in China. After the latest iPhone was launched in China a few months back, the iPhone 5 and 5s market share honestly has diddly squat over the spilling-over demand and current market share of the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, breaking previous sales records in the far eastern country. Currently, iPhones amount to an incredible 45% of China’s smartphone market share.

Given the huge potential of the Chinese market, this flagship store is no surprise. As is with all flagship Apple Stores, this one includes a Genius Bar, a dedicated floor for workshops, and much more with the design reflecting on the soon-to-open Apple Store in Union Square, San Francisco, which bears a similar glass panel front.

With the launch of the Westlake Apple Store there are now a solid 20 official retail outlets throughout China. However, we may see five more stores open up by late February. Tim Cook has already expressed his intentions of opening up a further 20 Apple Stores in the next two years. Almost two years back, Cook had suggested that China would soon be Apple’s largest market, and if the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus sales are anything to go by, that day is inching closer.



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Tim Cook agreed to allow Chinese government to conduct security audits on Apple devic

Jan 23, 2015 - 1:22 PM - by sparkyscott21

Beijing News reports that Tim Cook has agreed to allow China’s State Internet Information Office to carry out security audits of Apple products sold in the country. Cook reportedly made the offer during his meeting with China’s Cyberspace Administration minister Lu Wei in December.

China has long expressed suspicion over the security of Apple products, seemingly resulting from frosty relations with the U.S. Government. A state-run TV station in China described the iPhone as a “national security concern” last July due to its location-tracking capabilities. Apple responded by pointing out that location data is stored on the phone, not on Apple’s servers, and is encrypted …

China was also claimed to have banned government purchasing of Apple products last summer, though this was later explained as merely a temporary administrative matter.

The Chinese government was said to have been behind a phishing attack on iCloud, the government firewall redirecting all traffic to a fake server. This is believed to be one of the topics discussed in a meeting Tim Cook had in October with the Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai.

No details were given regarding the nature of the security audits; reports state simply that Apple will cooperate with checks by Chinese officials.



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Apple hires Burberry’s VP of Digital Retail initiatives ahead of Watch launch

Jan 23, 2015 - 1:20 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple has made yet another key hire from the fashion industry: Chester Chipperfield, the Vice President of Digital and Interactive Design at Burberry. Chipperfield was “responsible for User Experience and Digital Design for all channels” and was “highly involved in digital retail initiatives” at Burberry, according to his LinkedIn profile. He confirmed the move to Apple on his profile as well as on Twitter…

With experience in digital initiatives for a fashion powerhouse, Chipperfield will likely be critical in the rollout of the Apple Watch over the next few months.

Apple is planning to reorganize parts of its retail stores to sell the Apple Watch, and Chipperfield will likely play a role in Watch sales via Apple’s online store and mobile shopping application. Chipperfield does not specifically explain his new role, simply saying he is part of Apple’s “Special Projects” group.

Chipperfield’s hire marks the latest in a string of major moves from Burberry to Apple. Angela Ahrendts, the Senior Vice President of Apple Retail, was formerly the CEO of Burberry before moving over in 2014. Apple also recently hired former Burberry social media executive Musa Tariq. These former Burberry directors join a long list of Apple fashion executives such as Paul Deneve from Yves St. Laurent, Jacob Jordan from Louis Vuitton, and Patrick Pruniaux from Tag Heur. Apple has also been seeking fashion experts to work in its retail stores.

As of earlier this month, Apple is on schedule to ship the Apple Watch by the end of March alongside iOS 8.2. In addition to being a timepiece, fitness tracker, and a communications device, the Apple Watch has a strong connection to the fashion industry. The device ships in three collections with various wrist band options. Apple has promoted the fashion-sense of the Watch by sending its design team to Paris Fashion Week, displaying the Watch at Colette, and working on a feature with Vogue China.



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Apple board member Millard Drexler to retire in March, replacement unknown

Jan 23, 2015 - 1:13 PM - by sparkyscott21

Longtime Apple board member Millard "Mickey" Drexler announced intentions to retire at the end of his current term, which will end in March at the company's annual shareholders meeting, leaving seven candidates for election to fill his place.

Apple announced Drexler's retirement in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday, noting the 70-year-old has served on the company's board of directors since 1999.

According to the document, Drexler informed Apple of his plans to retire on Jan. 16. The company's board has not yet decided on a suitable replacement to fill the vacancy.

Outside of Apple, Drexler is the CEO of fashion brand J. Crew, a position he took in 2003 after exiting the same role at Gap, Inc a year prior.

Drexler will remain active as a member of the compensation and nominating committees until taking his leave at the end of the current term, which is slated for March 10, 2015.

Today's news comes about six months after another long-standing Apple board member retired last year. Bill Campbell, Apple's longest serving director at the time, stepped down after 17 years of service and was replaced by BlackRock cofounder Susan Wagner in July.



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