Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway buys $1B of Apple stock

May 16, 2016 - 12:07 PM - by sparkyscott21

Warren Buffett and President Barack Obama

Investor Warren Buffett has taken advantage of Apple's lowest share price in years, as new filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveal Berkshire Hathaway now owns 9.81 million shares of the iPhone maker.

Shares of AAPL were up nearly 2 percent in premarket trading on Monday after investors learned of Buffett's new stake. The shares, purchased as of March 31, are valued at about $1.07 billion, as noted by The Wall Street Journal.

News of Buffett's buy-in comes after activist investor Carl Icahn sold all of his shares in the company last month. Icahn said he still views Apple as a "great company," but concerns over the Chinese economy and government led him to sell off his shares.

And last week it was revealed that David Tepper's Appaloosa Management also sold its stake in Apple, dumping more than 1.26 million shares worth about $133 million.

Buffett's stake in Apple is noteworthy because Berkshire Hathaway has traditionally avoided technology stocks. Berkshare also boosted its position in IBM, quarterly SEC filings reveal.

Though Buffett didn't previously own shares in AAPL, he did weigh in on the company in 2013, saying he thought Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook should buy back more shares and build value. At the time, he compared buying back shares of Apple to purchasing a dollar valued at 80 cents.

Buffett also admitted at the time that Apple might carry "too much" cash. As of the end of last quarter, Apple had $233 billion, but 90 percent of it is held overseas.

Though Buffett bought in last quarter, shares of Apple reached their lowest levels in nearly two years last week, dipping briefly below $90. It's unknown how much the hedge fund manager owns as of today.


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OLED iPhone with curved screen could appear in 2018, research forecasts

May 16, 2016 - 12:02 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple will ship an OLED iPhone with a curved screen in 2018, as part of a ramp-up of the company's OLED use beyond the Apple Watch, according to a new research forecast.

Even then, OLED models may make up 30 percent — 100 million — of estimated iPhone shipments for the year, said Lee Choong-hoon, the president and chief analyst of UBI Research, quoted by The Korea Herald. The ratio could grow to 80 percent by 2020, and outpace Samsung's own OLED adoption by 2021, he added.

The Herald recently claimed that Samsung won a three-year, $2.59 billion contract to supply Apple with 5.5-inch OLED panels beginning in 2017. Choong-hoon argued that Samsung is currently the only company that can meet Apple criteria, though LG and other display makers might eventually gain smaller order shares, given Apple's penchant for wanting multiple suppliers.

He speculated that while Samsung could command up to 60 percent of orders, LG might follow at 20 to 30 percent, with Japan Display and Foxconn possibly being other parties. Foxconn recently acquired Sharp, and Choong-hoon cited sources as saying that Foxconn recently bought an OLED production system from Canon Tokki.

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently predicted that Apple might ship an iPhone with a 5.8-inch AMOLED display as soon as 2017. AMOLED has been used in many competing smartphones, but Apple may not have considered the technology good enough for its own purposes until recently. High-quality OLED panels can potentially be expensive, which may be one reason the Watch is the only Apple product with the technology so far.

It OLED models do only account for 30 percent of 2018 iPhone shipments, it could be because Apple will reserve the technology for "Plus" models, or simply because the first iPhones with the technology will only ship towards the end of the year.


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Taylor Swift Dances Like No One's Watching in Newest Apple Music Ad

May 12, 2016 - 1:01 PM - by sparkyscott21

Taylor Swift this morning tweeted out a new ad for Apple Music, this time showcasing a playlist called "Friday Night Rocks!" recommended to the singer within the For You tab of the music streaming service.

The new commercial plays out in a way similar to Swift's previous ad, which saw her lip syncing to Jimmy Eat World as she prepared for a night out. This time, however, she dances around her living room alone to the tune of The Darkness' "I Believe In A Thing Called Love."

After the last ad, Apple Music head of content Larry Jackson confirmed that the company had created a series of commercials with Swift, and would continue a steady rollout of them, akin to the release of singles on a record.


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Apple unable to repair iPhone of teen lost at sea

May 12, 2016 - 12:53 PM - by sparkyscott21

A team of Apple engineers worked "around the clock" to return missing Florida teen Austin Stephanos' iPhone back to working order after it was submerged in sea water for some eight months, but on Wednesday the device was deemed unrepairable.

An attorney for Austin's father, Blu Stephanos, said a dedicated Apple forensics team disassembled the damaged iPhone, cleaned its components and performed a chemical report as part of an exhaustive diagnostics and repair process, according to ABC News affiliate WPBF 25. The device was sent to Cupertino for examination in April.

"Although they were unable to restore the phone to a functional state, I want to thank Apple, Inc. for their hard work and generous assistance," Stephanos said in a prepared statement. "If the FBI turned to Apple when they needed help, I see no reason to doubt that every possible means was employed to get Austin's phone working again. It's our understanding that Apple had a team assigned to the iPhone around the clock, and for that we are truly grateful."

Austin and his shipmate Perry Cohen, both 14 years old, went missing last July during a fishing trip off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. The U.S. Coast Guard found the pair's 19-foot boat in an initial search and rescue operation last year, but the vessel was set adrift before salvage teams were able to tow it ashore. In March, a Norwegian supply ship rediscovered the boat 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Stephanos' iPhone 6 was later found in a stowage compartment.

Investigators had hoped the device held clues as to the missing boys' whereabouts, though concerns were raised regarding whether or not to subject the sensitive electronics to potentially risky data recovery techniques. In the weeks following the phone's recovery, the Cohen family sued Stephanos and the Florida wildlife commission in a bid to keep the iPhone in government hands.

Ultimately, both families reached an accord to send the device to Apple.

"We learned yesterday that Apple went as far as they could to try to get Austin's iPhone working, which, as Apple advised, was the first step in the process of retrieving information that might help us understand what happened to the boys," Pam Cohen, Perry's mother, said in a statement. "Apple also made it clear that getting the iPhone to power up was its only commitment to Blu Stephanos, which differs from what we heard from his attorney in court. For the generous efforts by Apple's engineers, who we understand worked tirelessly to try to help us, we are so very grateful."

While the examination is complete, there appears to be disagreement as to where the phone will end up. In his statement, Stephanos suggested he would take receipt of the phone as a memento of his son, but the Cohens seem intent on exploring other options.

"According to Apple, there are other experts in the field who may be able to pick up where Apple left off, to continue the work," Cohen said. "Apple has offered to securely hand the iPhone off to an expert
... [Read More]
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App Store shuffle brings long-awaited speed boost for developers

May 12, 2016 - 12:51 PM - by sparkyscott21

Developers are the latest beneficiaries of Apple's ongoing bid to revamp the App Store, with new policies shortening the time it takes to gain app approval from more than a week to fewer than two days.

It now takes an average of 1.95 days for App Store reviewers to approve new app submissions for sale, according to data collated by AppReviewTimes.com. That is down from nearly 9 days at this time last year and 5 days in December.

The changes, noted by Bloomberg, are believed to be part of a broader push to make the App Store more efficient as Apple leans more heavily on its services business.

Apple shook up its services division in September, removing the App Store — and much of the developer relations group — from Eddy Cue's software and services division. Worldwide marketing chief Phil Schiller was subsequently given control of those areas.

Schiller has reportedly embarked on major changes to the App Store, with a "secret team" that is mulling significant user-facing updates.

Part of the reason for such renewed attention on the App Store is the explosive growth of Apple's services business in relation to its hardware sales. Apple reported nearly $9 billion in services revenue in the first fiscal quarter of 2016.

"The growth of our Services business accelerated during the quarter to produce record results," Apple chief Tim Cook said during the earnings call, "and our installed base recently crossed a major milestone of one billion active devices."


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Apple sites hit with widespread outage

May 11, 2016 - 11:50 AM - by sparkyscott21

Whatever you do, don’t forgot your Apple ID password right now because if you’re being impacted by widespread outages affecting Apple users around the world, you won’t be able to recover or reset it.

Users on Apple’s support forum, on social media and elsewhere have been complaining of widespread service outages or interruptions impacting the Apple ID website as well as Apple’s iForgot site, which allows users to reset forgotten passwords. Oddly, users are reporting a wide range of different problems rather than just a straight outage.

Apple has not yet acknowledged any issues with its services.

BGR received a number of emails overnight complaining of various issues with two Apple websites: iforgot.apple.com and appleid.apple.com. 9toMac has confirmed problems with both sites, noting that some users are completely unable to access the pages while others can reach them but are having difficulty with certain functionality.

The password recovery feature on Apple’s iForgot website is unusable for a number of Apple customers, and others are having trouble with certain functions such as authorizing new devices or updating payment information. As usual, Apple’s status page shows no interruptions with any of the company’s online sites or services.


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