Category: News of Interest

Apple Begins Fifth Avenue Plaza Overhaul

Apple Store Fifth Avenue

Apple Store Fifth Avenue | Image courtesy of Apple

Apple has begun work on a major renovation to the plaza that sits above its famous Fifth Avenue retail store in New York City. The renovations which will take until early November will see the iconic glass cube removed and then reinstalled.

The details of the renovation are covered by ifoAppleStore and show that Apple will spend $6,661,050 to remove the 32-foot glass cube and its “sophisticated connection hardware” then make “upgrades” to the surrounding plaza and finally reinstall the glass cube.

ifoAppleStore points out that permits [PDF] which detail the work don’t reveal why Apple is removing the cube and questions whether a new updated cube will be installed.

Schmidt: Apple Renew Maps and Search Deal

Google Exec chairman Eric Schmidt at D9 Conference

Google Exec chairman Eric Schmidt at D9 Conference | Photo by: Asa Mathat | All Things Digital

In his interview at D9 conference Google Executive chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that Apple has renewed its partnership deal with Google to use Search and Maps. The executive chairman who used to sit on Apple’s board of directors said:

“We just renewed our Map and Search agreements with Apple, and we hope those continue for a long time.”

The statement gives confirmation that Apple will continue to use Google Search and Map services in iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Apple Issues Statement on Foxconn Plant Explosion

Following the news earlier today that there had been a large explosion at one of Foxconn’s plants in Chengdu, China. Apple has now given a statement to All Things Digital expressing sadness for the incident and explaining that it will work with Foxconn to address the cause.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” Apple said in a statement provided to AllThingsD. “We are working closely with Foxconn to understand what caused this terrible event.”

Apple declined to say what the impact to production might be, or comment beyond the statement.

It was confirmed earlier today that two people were killed in the explosion and at least sixteen others injured.

Explosion Rips Through iPad Production Plant

It is being reported today that an explosion at a Foxconn plant in Chengdu, south-west China has killed two and injured dozens of others. Foxconn is the manufacturer of many products but this particular building is said to be the assembly plant of the iPad 2.

In a statement to the Guardian Edmund Ding, a spokesman for Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai said: “I know there has been a fire and that the accident is now under control. What caused this is still under investigation. I have learned that some people were injured on site.”

Website M.I.C Gadget has posted a number of first hand reports and videos.

“the explosion occurred in the A05, at 7 pm, the explosion caused many materials casted out from the building, and there are at least hundreds or more of workers inside the building. The whole building did not collapse yet, I do not know what is going on inside. Now there are more than 10 fire engines, 10 ambulances, many police cars.”

[Update] Foxconn has posted this official statement:

We can confirm that at approximately 7 pm on May 20, there was an explosion at our Chengdu campus. At this point, we can also confirm that there were two fatalities with injuries to 16 other employees. We are working with medical officials to provide treatment to the injured employees and we are working with government and law enforcement officials to contact the families of all employees affected by this tragedy.

The situation has been brought under control by the fire department and the cause of this explosion is being investigated by local police officials. Foxconn is cooperating fully with that investigation.

Production has been suspended at the site of the explosion until the completion of the investigation. The safety of our employees is our highest priority and we will do whatever is required to determine and address the cause of this tragic accident.

Apple Retail Stores Celebrate 10 Years

Apple Store Pudong (China)

Apple Store Pudong (China) | Image courtesy of Apple

On this day ten years ago Apple opened its first two retail stores, the first in Tyson’s Corner, VA, and three hours later Glendale Galleria in South California. As pointed out by Apple 2.0 Channel Marketing Corp. president David Goldstein told Businessweek, “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake”.

Ten years later of course things are very different, Apple now has 325 stores in 11 countries, totally a mighty 2.5 million square feet of retail space. Apple retail stores made up 12.9% of Apple’s total revenue last quarter with $3.19 billion in revenue.

Below Steve Jobs gives a guided tour of Apple’s first retail store.

iPhone 4 and iPad Displays Praised

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

Both the iPhone 4 and iPad has this week been awarded for the quality of their displays. Apple’s iPhone 4 won the Display of the Year Gold Award from The Society for Information Display on Monday, while the iPad display won the Display Application of the Year Gold Award.

The iPhone 4’s “640×960-pixel Retina display set a new benchmark for mobile display resolution, low power consumption and image quality.” SID goes onto praise the display further saying that “the iPhone 4 Retina display achieves a viewing angle superior to conventional mobile LCDs” and the “display features a host of technical advancements”.

When awarding the iPad for its display SID said that the “display provides a superior viewing experience with a minimized gamma shift over viewing angles, enabling designers to create innovative apps that further enhance the viewing experience.”

BBC Show Likens Apple Fandom to a Religion

Alex Brooks' MRI Scan

World of Apple Editor-in-Chief, Alex Brooks has MRI scan

In the UK the BBC will very soon begin airing the first in a series of shows that highlight the relationship between brands and humans. The first episode in the Secrets of the Superbrands series focuses on technology brands and during the hour long show will look at Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony and Facebook.

In the first episode the BBC team with presenter Alex Riley take Editor-in-Chief of World of Apple, Alex Brooks and use a functional MRI to scan the activity whilst being exposed to images of Apple products. As written by Alex Riley the results are akin to the reactions of those to religions:

The Bishop of Buckingham – who reads his Bible on an ipad – explained to me the similarities between Apple and a religion.

And when a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner took a look inside the brain of an Apple fanatic it seemed the bishop was on to something.

The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.

Those in the UK wishing to watch the first episode of Secrets of the Superbrands can do so on BBC Three at 9PM tonight, BBC HD at 10.30PM or catch up on the iPlayer.

It Gets Better

Apple employees have got together and produced a very moving video for the It Gets Better project which aims to help young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people deal with the tribulations of growing up.

The project which has had messages of support from President Obama, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of “Glee”, Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres and more.

To donate to the It Gets Better project you can do so here.

Why Apple Wins This Round

Flip cam

Flip cam in use | Photo by The Next Web

In the words of Charlie Sheen, Apple is “winning”. I’m being a little unfair though, Apple isn’t the only one winning this round, any current manufacturer who is churning out mobile phone hardware capable of shooting high definition video and sending it instantly to the Internet has contributed to the death of the standalone video camera. This is an exaggeration but only for now, toady we saw the demise of the extremely popular Flip video camera made by Cisco but expect more of these devices to head the way of the Zune in the near future.

Immediately following the news that Cisco was discontinuing the Flip cam I saw plenty of complaining, most of it centralised around why Cisco felt it necessary to scrap the Flip from its product line and not simply attempt to improve it. The key point here is sharing; in this modern mobile world we thrive off sharing pictures, text and video instantly. This is one thing the Flip couldn’t do, sure you could shoot wonderful high definition video with a small camera but when you had to run back to a computer to get it onto YouTube it’s a little difficult to compete with the all-in-one devices.

We’ve seen these kind of arguments before, when digital cameras in phones started getting good but not quite good enough we justified it by having to carry one less item of gadgetry, the same happened with the MP3 player and now the same is happening the video camcorder.

There is a nail in the coffin for the Flip cam though, delivered with courtesy from Apple in the form of iMovie. Sure it’s great that I can shoot some 720p high definition video and within a few seconds send it to thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and many more but what if I want to do some quick edits and add some music? Apple’s masterful iMovie for iOS is a super powerful piece of software that runs of the iPhone. This simply isn’t a category the Flip cam could compete in without becoming a completely different product and becoming distracted from the instant point-and-shoot approach.

Those in vehement support of the Flip will say that Cisco have jumped the gun, but they’re only anticipating the rapid advancement of the iPhone and many other mobile devices. Quit while your ahead is what they say.

Question is, what is up next on the assassin list for the iPhone? Musical instruments?

UK Government Blocked Steve Jobs Honorary Knighthood

Steve Jobs and Bill Gate

Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher interview Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at 'D5: All Things Digital' conference in Silicon Valley in 2007.

It has been revealed in the The Telegraph today that the previous Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown blocked Steve Jobs from receiving an honorary knighthood. Mr Brown reportedly refused the request because Jobs refused to speak at the Labour Party Conference.

Steve Jobs was put up for an honorary knighthood by an unnamed MP who described the CEO as consistently showing commitment to Apple and the technology industry.

A spokesperson for former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today that he “did not block a knighthood for Steve Jobs”.

In 2005 Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft was named an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. As with any person who receives a KBE and is not a member of the British Commonwealth, he is not eligible to prefix his name with the title “Sir”.