Police in Beijing have raided a factory that made more than 41,000 fake iPhones worth as much as 120 million yuan ($19 million), including some that reached the United States, and have arrested nine suspects in the counterfeiting operation.
Apple is one of the most popular brands in China, where authorities have stepped up efforts in recent years to dispel the country’s reputation for turning out counterfeit goods.
Officials have taken stiffer action to enforce intellectual property (IP) rights, pushed firms to apply for trademarks and patents and cracked down on fakes.
Police arrested nine people, including a married couple who led the operation, after a raid in May on the factory, run under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop on the northern outskirts of the Chinese capital.
The details were revealed in a social media posting on Sunday by the public security bureau in Beijing.
The group, headed by a 43-year old man, surnamed Yu, and his 40-year old wife, surnamed Xie, both from the southern hardware manufacturing city of Shenzhen, allegedly set up the Beijing factory with six assembly lines in January, the bureau said.
They hired “hundreds” of workers to repackage second-hand smartphone components as iPhones for export, it added.
Police seized 1,400 handsets and large quantities of accessories during the May 14 raid. In the United States, the newest Apple Inc handsets can fetch $649, or more, depending on the model.
Beijing police said their investigation followed a tip-off from U.S. authorities who seized some of the fake devices.
The destination of the counterfeit phones, and how many made it there, remains unknown.
Public security representatives declined to comment on Monday, telling Reuters they had no additional information.
Apple also declined to comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.
The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc said.
“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.
Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.
“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.
The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.
Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.
The promotion launched later this year than in the past: In 2014, for example, Apple started its back-to-school campaign July 1.
Buyers who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and Sept. 18 receive a $199.95 credit toward a a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones, which list for that amount. Alternately, the credit can be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, which run $299.95, making the out-of-pocket expense $100.
The promotion launches today in Apple’s retail stores and participating authorized on-campus stores but won’t appear on the company’s e-store until Aug. 6.
9to5Mac.com first reported on the promotion earlier today.
This year’s back-to-school promotion gives parents of college students and incoming freshmen, and teachers and staff members of all grade levels — including K-12 — the credit when they buy a new iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Unlike years past, iPads and iPhones do not qualify.
For the last four years, Apple has handed out gift cards and maxed the amount of the offer at $100. Before that, a more generous Apple gave rebates of up to $300 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch.
Educational discounts on the hardware also apply. MacBooks and MacBook Airs are reduced by $50 for parents of students and for faculty and staff. The discounts on other products are $100 on MacBook Pros, $100 to $200 on Retina 5K iMacs, $50 to $100 on iMacs, and $200 to $300 on Mac Pros.
The company’s online promotions in advance of the launch featured a mysterious high-end Android device. The marketing scheme paid off, according to Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices business, sparking media interest. It even caused some to wonder if the product was Korean-made, since Chinese brands have a low-end image to U.S. consumers, according to Zeng.
ZTE was happy to clear up any preconceived notions. “Chinese brands can also come out with top-tier products,” Zeng maintained.
The Axon is a premium handset that the company claims can rival flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and LG.
It is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early August, and is already available for pre-order, with a no-contract price of $449. That’s about $200 less than an iPhone 6 when bought without carrier subsidies. But consumers are still getting the latest in smartphone technology.
For the Axon, this includes a 2560 by 1440 screen, an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, all fitted in a sleek metal case with leather on the back cover.
Zeng noted that it took ZTE 18 months to develop the product. The company wanted to make sure it had everything, such as the ability to shoot 4K video, and a rear-facing camera with dual lenses.
ZTE kept pushing the phone’s launch date back to include more features, Zeng said. It also tapped talent from North America, hiring Seattle-based design firm Teague and former BlackBerry employees to help build the product.
ZTE has been expanding in the U.S., although competition remains stiff. In this year’s first quarter, it was ranked as the U.S.’s sixth largest smartphone vendor, with a 4.5 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Industry leaders Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, have a combined market share of 62 percent.
Investors in ARM are deeply worried about its close relationship to the fruity cargo cult Apple.
ARM released its results which looked great, but investors were looking at its close ties to Jobs’ Mob which posted results which were disappointing.
Shares dropped 3.1 per cent on the back of Apple’s results. Apple uses ARM’s processor designs in its range of iThings.
It seems odd as ARMs Revenues rose 22 per cent to $17.5m for its second quarter, while pre-tax profits increased 32 per cent to $90.9m, compared with the same period last year.
The chip designer signed 54 processor licences for the three months, a “record” number.
Simon Segars, ARM chief exec, said a diverse range of companies chose to license ARM’s latest processors in the second quarter and physical IP for future product developments.
“ARM has been investing in advanced technology products for mobile devices, automotive applications and enterprise infrastructure, and in Q2 ARM signed licences for many of these new products. This licensing activity will help to grow the royalty revenue opportunity for years to come,” he said.
Google shares rose by 16.3 percent to $699.62 on Friday, adding about $65 billion to its market value, as strong growth in YouTube viewership eased investor concerns about Facebook Inc’s push into video.
Google’s class A shares chalked up their largest single-day percentage change in more than seven years on Friday.
The surge, which comes a day after it reported better-than-expected profit for the first time in six quarters, sent the Nasdaq composite index to a record intraday high.
The rise in Google’s market value was more than the total market capitalization of Caterpillar Inc, the world’s biggest construction equipment maker.
Google’s shares hit a record high of $703, valuing it at $471.50 billion and cementing its position as the world’s second most valuable company after Apple Inc.
At least 27 brokerages raised price targets on Google’s stock, with analysts also welcoming new Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat’s emphasis on disciplined spending.
At the highest price target of $800, Google would be valued at $545 billion. Apple is valued at about $740 billion.
The energy brought to Google by Porat, who joined in May from investment bank Morgan Stanley, is likely to drive the stock in the short and medium term, analysts say.
“She is known to be tough as nails when it comes to expense management …,” FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said. “A lot of investors are comforted by the fact that her first quarter as CFO, reporting, she is delivering.”
The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100.
SanDisk’s first Wireless Stick, the Connect Wireless Flash Drive, was released two years ago and it came in 16GB and 32GB capacities and was priced at $49.99 and $59.99, respectively.
As its predecessor did, the new wireless thumb drive also uses a USB 2.0 (480Mbps) connection to upload content before being able to stream it over Wi-Fi. SanDisk claims the Connect Wireless Stick has enough bandwidth to stream high-definition movies and music to up to three devices at the same time.
The drive is capable of supporting a single video stream for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge, SanDisk said.
The new flash drive is controlled via the SanDisk Connect app, which is free and downloadable from SanDisk’s or or Amazon.com’s website.
The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.
The thumb drive is 3.03-in x 0.75-in x 0.43 in. in size and comes with a one-year warranty.
According to a report in The Information, the world’s largest social network is working on the virtual assistant, which has been internally dubbed Moneypenny, presumably after the fictional secretary in the James Bond books and movies.
Facebook is developing the service that would enable users to ask real people for help researching and ordering products and services, the report noted, citing three unnamed sources.
Messenger is Facebook’s mobile instant messaging app, which is designed to work with voice and text. The app reportedly has more than 700 million monthly users.
Facebook declined to comment on the report.
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said it makes sense for Facebook to venture into the realm of virtual assistants after the success of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.
If the report is accurate, the question is how Facebook would weave together a “virtual” assistant with the ability to ask “real people” for help.
Moorhead suggested that a live person could be contacted if the virtual assistant wasn’t coming up with the information that the user needed.
It also could be that if, for instance, a user asks for information about a certain bicycle, the virtual assistant could check for comments about it from the user’s Facebook friends or the entire Facebook user community.
“It makes sense that they would try this, for sure,” said Moorhead. “The best assistants have mountains of information on us that can be used to improve context. And Facebook has more personal data than anyone other than Google.”
Forrester predicted that tablets used for enterprises will grow to 20% of the entire market by 2018, up from 6% in 2010. These include Apple iPads as well as Windows and Android tablets that are generally purchased and managed by a company on behalf of workers, either for solo use or shared with others.
That level of growth is impressive compared to the recent sales dip for the iPad, which sold 12.62 million iPads in the second quarter, a drop of 23% compared to the same period a year ago, Forrester analyst JP Gownder noted in a blog.
“Clearly, all is not well in tablet-land,” Gownder said.
In a separate report, Gownder noted a nose-dive in Android tablet prices, which recently went from below $200, then to less than $100 and even under $50 — “stripping away profit margins.”
Forrester and other analyst firms have noted the general tablet decline, attributed mainly to consumers keeping older tablets and to the growth of bigger smartphones with displays that are larger than 5-in., sometimes called “phablets,” that reduce the need for smaller tablets. The Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus are examples of such smartphones.
IDC noted the tablet slowdown last October, and predicted slowing growthfrom 2016 through 2018.
The bright spot — tablets purchased by companies — is being driven by various factors, Gownder said, including a vendor focus on enterprise services and apps. Microsoft and Dell, among other partners, will benefit with Windows 10 on tablets, while the Android for Work initiative will help address Android security concerns with tablets, he said. And Apple has partnered with IBM to provide iOS apps for tablets that matter in workplaces.
The desire by workers to use tablets and bring their own devices to work has helped push company purchases, he said. The tablets are being used in various ways by different workers, including package delivery drivers, sales associates and field technicians and even by restaurant customers to review menus at their tables.
Microsoft will continue making smartphones for its Windows 10 Mobile operating system, but the company has squashed the device strategy pursued by its former CEO and will probably give up entirely unless Windows 10 reverses years of missteps in mobile, analysts said.
After Microsoft wrote down $7.6 billion of its investment in Nokia and again reorganized, it will turn to a revamped, two-part strategy, one piece older, the other relatively new, the experts argued.
Microsoft’s smartphones will follow the trailblazing of the more successful Surface tablet line, which after two years with little return hit its stride in 2014 with the debut of the Surface Pro 3. “We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family,” CEO Satya Nadella told employees in an all-hands email recently.
In plain English, the Lumia line will be relegated to a peripheral position — the spot the Surface Pro 3 now occupies in comparison to the broader personal computing device market and best exemplified in smartphones by Google’s “hero” Nexus handsets.
“Microsoft will have something very similar to where the Surface line is now,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in a Friday interview. “The idea will be to create inspiring hardware that motivates their ecosystem. They’ll go after the ‘halo’ effect.”
Windows phones will not disappear. Not yet. “I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” asserted Nadella, showing that, at least for now, Microsoft won’t scrub Windows smartphones from its portfolio.
The reality, however, is stark: Even with billions poured into mobile, Windows powered just 2.7% of the handsets shipped worldwide last year, down from 3.3% in 2013, according to IDC. And because Microsoft was responsible for more than 95% of all Windows smartphones in 2014, a pull-back by the firm means there’s little chance of changing the OS’s fortunes.
Apple rolled out mobile payments in Britain on Tuesday, hoping to make a splash with consumers familiar with using cards for tap-and-go purchases, as resistance from hold-out banks and stores appeared to evaporate.
Starting Tuesday, Apple Pay became available in 250,000 sites, from Tube stations to coffee shops, supermarkets and travel services, making it more widely available than when it was first introduced in the United States nine months ago.
Users first load their credit and debit card details into an app on their Apple phones or watches. To pay, customers hold the device near a contactless terminal with the user’s fingerprints confirming their identity.
The service is one of Apple’s biggest bets, a way of binding customers more tightly to its phones and new smart watches, as well as taking a small slice of every retail transaction.
Apple Pay will eventually be supported by all major British banks. The last hold-out, Barclays, confirmed on Tuesday its debit card users and Barclaycard credit card customers will be able to use Apple Pay in the future.
However, there also were some first-day teething problems. Another major bank, HSBC Holdings said it was having technical problems that will lead to a two-week delay before its clients in the United Kingdom can sign up to the service.
Morning subway commuters in the capital were greeted by advertisements from several major banks encouraging the fraction of their customers with the latest-model Apple phones, tablets and smartwatches to link their payment cards to Apple Pay.
Tube-operator Transport for London and big retailers Boots, the British pharmacy business of Walgreens Boots Alliance; Costa Coffee, a part of Whitbread; supermarkets Marks and Spencer and Waitrose all lined up to support Apple Pay.
So far, Apple has been reported to be working to introduce its mobile payments service in China, South Korea and Canada.
Automobile manufacturers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple Inc and Google Inc through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.
Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.
But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.
Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems – steering, brakes and throttle, for instance – as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.
“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.
Consultant AlixPartners estimates global revenues from digitally connected cars will grow in value to $40 billion a year worldwide by 2018, from $16 billion in 2013, and auto companies would like to hold on to as much of that money as possible.
“The risk is, if you give up control and somebody else figures out that business model, then you lose the future revenue stream,” said Friedmar Rumpel, vice president in AlixPartners’ automotive practice.
BlackBerry Ltd , which has been tight-lipped about its plans to make a mainstream Android smartphone, fueled more speculation about its plans this week when it scooped up two Android-related domain names.
Several blog posts in the last two days have noted that the Canadian handset maker bought the domain names “AndroidSecured.com” and “AndroidSecured.net” this week. That spurred more chatter that it intends to build a device powered by Google Inc’s Android platform, which powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the globe.
The purchase of the domain names is particularly interesting since BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has declined to confirm a June Reuters report that said the company was planning an Android phone.
Speculation that BlackBerry will embrace Android was also spurred this week by a Digitimes report that said the company plans to roll out several models of Android-based phones.
In the past three weeks, however, Chen has said at least twice that he would only build an Android phone if he can “secure Android”.
BlackBerry downplayed the significance of its domain name purchases in an email on Friday, saying: “BlackBerry frequently registers domain names to support the breadth of our cross-platform portfolio. Android is an important part of our cross-platform enterprise software strategy.”
Indeed, one of the domains, “AndroidSecured.com”, currently redirects users to a BlackBerry enterprise-focused site.
But that has not stopped a barrage of chatter on tech blogs about the purchases being part of BlackBerry’s plan to build its own secure Android, going beyond supporting existing Android phones on its BES12 device-management system. BES12 allows corporate and government clients to secure Android-, iOS-, Windows- and BlackBerry-powered devices on their networks.
Under the leadership of Chen, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company has been pivoting toward software and device management as its recent devices, powered by its BlackBerry 10 software, have failed to win mass appeal. Analysts and tech gurus believe a move to Android could give BlackBerry’s device arm a new lease on life.
Samsung Electronics Co is bumping up the launch of a key premium smartphone model, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the South Korean tech giant seeks to revive sales after a sluggish second quarter.
The world’s top smartphone maker will launch a new version of its Galaxy Note phablet in mid-August, the person said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. Previous versions, such as the Note 3 and 4, typically launched in September.
A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.
The mid-August launch will likely put the new Note smartphone model on the market ahead of arch-rival Apple Inc’s next iPhones. The U.S. company is preparing for its largest initial production run for new phones so far by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week.
Samsung is seeking to rebound from a disappointing 2014, when its annual profit hit a three-year low as smartphone earnings slumped. Though Samsung’s earnings are recovering, its second-quarter guidance of a 6.9 trillion won ($6.11 billion) operating profit fell short of market expectations following a supply shortage for the curved-screen version of its flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone.
“I don’t know how much the earlier launch will help boost the company’s average selling price for smartphones, but this suggests that Samsung will work hard to maintain its market share for the high-end market,” said HDC Asset Management fund manager Park Jung-hoon.
Object Theory, based in Portland, Oregon, was founded by Michael Hoffman, one of the lead engineers from the HoloLens project in development, alongside Raven Zachery, a mobile entrepreneur whose credits include the official Obama 08 app, as well as apps for Amazon, Zipcar and Starbucks.
The company plans to work on what it calls ‘mixed reality’ applications for business use, keeping away from the more obvious gaming and entertainment markets in favour of more practical applications.
Mixed reality refers to apps that can go from simple augmented reality right through to totally immersive VR worlds.
“The company was created on the shared belief of the founders that Microsoft HoloLens will have a transformative impact on the way we work, live and play,” said Hoffman.
“With this new platform, our digital life will become more integrated into our physical world than ever before.”
Object Theory believes that the market for VR apps is the first big shift in opportunity focus since the rise of the mobile app in the late noughties.
“We believe that the launch of our company signals the beginning of a shift from augmented reality being focused almost exclusively on hardware innovation to a broader view of the emerging ecosystem,” added Zachary.
Details of products are still at the early stages, but expect a company that offers software development, user experience, design, quality assurance, training, deployment, maintenance and support for the HoloLens when it launches this summer, hot on the heels of Windows 10.