Tonymacx86 points (via 9to5Mac) to recently discovered photos of a Broadcom BCM94360CD Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card that supports the 802.11ac "Gigabit Wi-Fi" standard rumored to be coming to Apple's Mac lineup later this year. While the photos were posted to Chinese site VR-Zone in early March, they are only just now being noticed by those following Apple rumors.
While the reports suggest that the new card is intended for the next-generation MacBook Pro or MacBook Air models rumored for launch at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), a commenter on the Tonymacx86 discussion thread points out that the card is actually nearly identical in size, shape, and layout to the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card found in the current iMac.
The BCM94360CD card, which is very likely a custom design for Apple, contains Broadcom's BCM4360 802.11ac transceiver chip, offering support for the in-process Wi-Fi standard that allows for triple the speeds of the current 802.11n standard. An apparent date code of "1240" on the part suggests that it was manufactured in early October 2012, several months before Apple was reported to have struck a deal with Broadcom to bring 802.11ac support to its 2013 Macs.
Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card from Late 2012 iMac (Source: iFixit)
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster today released a brief report highlighting April data from market research firm NPD looking at Apple's U.S. Mac and iPod sales. The data shows Apple's Mac sales coming in flat year-over-year, and while Munster acknowledges that it has become increasingly difficult to extrapolate NPD's numbers to Apple's global sales performance, he views the latest data as "neutral to slight positive" relative to expectations for the company.
Based on the differences between NPD data and Apple reported Mac sales over the past few quarters, we note it is becoming more difficult to draw conclusions from NPD data (see table below). We note that some of the more recent supply issues with the redesigned Macs have impacted the Apple reported numbers over the past two quarters. At the end of the day, we believe this April data point is likely a neutral to slight positive given our expectation that iPads will continue to cannibalize Macs over the next few years.
Munster stands by his predictions of 5% year-over-year decline in Mac sales for the second quarter as customers await updated models and the PC market remains weak.
On the iPod side, Munster only briefly cites NPD data showing sales sliding 36% year-over-year, compared to the Piper Jaffray estimate of a 23% decline for the entire quarter on a worldwide basis. But with iPod sales now representing only about 2% of Apple's revenue, the impact of the continued decline in iPod sales as customers shift increasingly to smartphones will be negligible.
Digitimes briefly reports that Apple will be releasing updated notebooks "in the near future", with supply chain sources indicating that Apple's orders will rise 20% in the second quarter compared to first-quarter production.
The new MacBooks are only expected to receive specification upgrades to Intel's latest Haswell platform and are estimated to be unveiled at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, the sources said.
Claims of a 20% increase in orders come less than a month after the site claimed that orders would see a 10% increase for the quarter, although overall notebook shipments for 2013 are expected to be flat or only slightly higher year over year due to a lack of major updates and a weak PC market.
Late last month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that an update to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines would be a highlight for next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which kicks off on June 10. Kuo had previously believed that Apple would consolidate its MacBook Pro lines into an all-Retina lineup in mid-2013, but he now believes that continued popularity of the non-Retina models has led Apple to push back its consolidation plans for the time being.
Kuo indicated that updated models of the non-Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air should ship relatively soon after WWDC, with updated Retina MacBook Pro models shipping somewhat later due to constraints on display production.
Digitimes reports that Apple will soon begin trial production on its fifth-generation iPad, with full production said to be planned to begin in July. Based on that schedule, Apple could hit monthly production of 2-3 million units by September as it prepares to launch the updated version of its full-size tablet.
As with a number of previous rumors, the report claims that the new iPad will be narrower, thinner, and lighter than the current design, taking a number of design cues from the iPad mini. As a result, Digitimes says that the new iPad will be 25-33% lighter than the current models, in line with previous claims from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
The display of the new iPad, which will hit market shelves as early as September, will still be a 2,048 x 1,536 Retina display, the same as the one used in the 4th-generation model, except that the new display is built on a glass substrate of 0.2mm, thinner than the 0.25mm one for the 4th-generation device, the sources said, adding the new table will has a narrow bezel.
The touch panel solution for 5th-generation iPad is GF2 (1 layer of glass and two layers of ITO film) instead of G/G bonding used in 4th-generation iPad, the sources added.
The new iPad will use one LED light bar for backlighting, compared to two LED light bars used in 4th-generation iPad, the sources noted.
Kuo had previously predicted that production on the new iPad would ramp up in August or September, with shipments following soon thereafter.
Rumors of an iPad mini-like design for the next-generation iPad have been supported by leaked photos showing what was claimed to be the front bezel and cover glass for the device, as well as photos of the device's rear shell and cases said to be based on the product's design.
Previous rumors have also suggested that Apple would be able to use more efficient backlighting in the fifth-generation iPad, reducing the device's size both directly through eliminating one of the two backlight units and indirectly through allowing for a smaller battery.
Japanese blog Macotakarapoints to a pair of reports in today's edition of Taiwanese newspaper Economic Times addressing rumors surrounding Apple's smart watch effort. According to the first report [Google translation], Apple has begun sampling 1.5-inch OLED displays from RITEK subsidiary RiTdisplay.
The report also claims that RITEK's joint venture RitFast will be supplying the touch sensor technology for the watch.
Today's report echoes a December claim about Apple's plans for RiTdisplay's 1.5-inch displays and word that Intel is involved in Apple's effort, but includes a detail indicating that Apple had originally hoped to use a 1.8-inch display in the smart watch. That display, however, proved to be too large and the company shifted to the smaller 1.5-inch display size.
The second report [Google translation] offers an overview of the smart watch industry, with "market rumors" indicating that Foxconn has already received orders for Apple's smart watch. But with order volumes said to be around 1,000 units, the production run would clearly be a small-scale trial.
Rumors of an Apple smart watch ramped up in the months following that December report about Apple and Intel working together, with The New York Times later reporting that Apple was "experimenting" with curved glass smart watch designs and Bloomberg following up to claim that Apple has 100 product designers working on the project.
"iWatch" rumors peaked in February and March of this year amid claims that the device could launch "as soon as this year", but things have been relatively quiet for the past several months.
Last week, we noted that Apple was still struggling to convince the major music labels to sign on to its planned streaming service, informally dubbed "iRadio", with Sony and Warner reportedly holding out even after market leader Universal had agreed to Apple's revised terms.
In a new article highlighting how Google was able to announce its own music service ahead of Apple, The Verge notes that Apple's desire to provide a hybrid listener experience has meant more work at the negotiating table.
For starters, Google chose to offer a standard subscription music service very similar to those built by Spotify and Rdio, and that meant the terms had largely been established, according to multiple sources close to the talks. Apple, on the other hand, is pioneering a hybrid web and radio service — one that resembles Pandora but melds it with some on-demand features, the sources said. The licensing agreement had to be created from scratch.
According to the report's sources, number four music publisher BMG is also holding out against Apple's proposed terms, and while there still appears to be significant momentum behind iRadio and a desire by many parties to get a deal done as quickly as possible, it is now looking as though Apple may not be able to launch the service at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Word of Apple's plans for a Pandora-like service surfaced last September, with subsequent reports indicating that Apple was targeting the first quarter of this year for a launch. As negotiations continued to prove difficult, Apple shifted its focus to a summer launch, but it now appears unclear whether the company will be able to meet even that revised goal.
Following a report from earlier this month indicating that the U.S. Department of Defense was preparing to approve Apple devices running iOS 6 for use on military networks, Bloomberg now reports that the department has officially issued the authorization, opening the door for greater use of Apple's products.
The Defense Department said in a statement today that it has approved the use of Cupertino, California-based Apple’s products running a version of the iOS 6 mobile platform.
The decision eventually may spur a three-way fight for a market long dominated by Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry. The Pentagon on May 2 approved Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s devices, as well as BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
The report notes that out of more than 600,000 mobile devices used by the Defense Department, only about 41,000 of those are Apple products, with most of those not connected directly to the military's networks. With the new approvals, Apple and Samsung are expected to eat into BlackBerry's roughly 75% share of mobile devices within the agency.
As noted in the report earlier this month, the Department of Defense's approval of iOS 6 devices for sensitive applications is expected to have impact beyond the military, with other businesses requiring strict security standards becoming more likely to embrace Apple's products.
Pentagon approval for iOS 6 devices comes just as The Street reports that the U.S. Air Force is expecting to save more than $50 million over ten years following last year's decision to replace thousands of pages of flight manuals with iPads.
"By removing all that paper, [Air Mobility Command] will capture about $750,000 in fuel savings [annually] just based off the decreased weight," said [electronic flight bag program manager Major Brian] Moritz.
Removing the need to print and distribute thousands of flight manuals, however, equates to an even greater cost saving. "It comes out to just over $5 million a year," noted Moritz. "With fuel savings, it comes out to $5.7 million annually in pure cost. When you look at $5.7 million a year, over 10 years, that's well over $50 million."
The Air Force is not the only group switching to iPads to replace traditional flight bags used by pilots, as a number of commercial airlines have also begun transitioning to the technology in order to reduce weight and therefore fuel costs, as well as lighten loads for the pilots themselves.
“With iPhone and iPad being tested or deployed in almost every Fortune 500 company, Apple continues to scale across enterprise with nearly 30,000 companies globally developing and distributing iOS apps for corporate use by their employees,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told AllThingsD. “The FIPS 140-2 certification and STIG approval demonstrate our ongoing commitment to deliver a secure platform to our enterprise and government customers around the world who deploy iOS devices on their networks.”
Corning yesterday announced (via Engadget) the launch of its latest glass substrate for LCD and OLED displays, Lotus XT Glass. While Corning is famous for its Gorilla Glass used by Apple and other device manufacturers to provide durable covers for their displays, substrate glass like Lotus Glass is used within the displays themselves to support the transistors and other components necessary for the displays to function.
The Corning Lotus Glass platform enables organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and liquid crystal displays (LCD) that use either low-temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) or oxide thin-film transistor (TFT) backplanes. The result is an energy-efficient, immersive display device that features high resolution, fast response times, and bright picture quality.
Lotus XT Glass, an improved version of the original Lotus Glass announced in late 2011, offers improved thermal characteristics and stability to help increase efficiency and yield during display production. Lotus XT Glass is available in a variety of thicknesses ranging from 0.4 to 0.7 mm to support various applications.
In an introductory video, Corning vice president John Bayne outlines how Lotus XT Glass will enable better displays with improved yields:
Our customers, the panel makers, are basically making thin-film transistors and aligning those transistors with liquid crystal material and a color filter piece of glass. Everything has to line up just right to work.
The distance features move during processing is called total pitch. And if you measure that from sheet to sheet, it's called total pitch variation. If panel makers can minimize total pitch variation, they can realize higher manufacturing yields and lower costs. In addition, they can design devices that have higher aperture ratios which are brighter and use less power.
It will still take some time for display manufacturers to adopt Lotus Glass XT for use in their processes and for those panels to make their way into finished products, but with Lotus Glass XT offering up to 75% better performance in total pitch variation than the original version, it seems likely that manufacturers will move quickly to adopt the product.
BGR shares several new relatively high-resolution photos of parts claimed to be from the iPhone 5S. These parts have been leaking to repair firms over the past several months, and a number of photos have already been seen, but the new photos do represent the highest-quality look at these parts so far.
Vibrator/audio control flex cable for iPhone 5S
Unfortunately, the photos reveal little about Apple's plans for the iPhone 5S, as they are minor parts generally seeing relatively small changes compared to their corresponding iPhone 5 parts.
The parts include the loud-speaker bracket, ear speaker bracket, vibrating motor assembly, Wi-Fi flex cable ribbon and SIM card tray from Apple’s upcoming seventh-generation iPhone.
Most recently, just last week an antenna-related add-on piece for the iPhone 5S logic board surfaced, although the implications of minor changes observed in the part compared to the iPhone 5 remain unknown.
Following up on its April report breaking down mobile phone shipments by manufacturer for the first quarter of 2013, research firm IDC today issued a new report looking at shipments from an operating system perspective. The report unsurprisingly shows that Android and iOS continue to dominate the smartphone market with over 92% of shipments during the quarter, with Android's broad availability driving it to represent 75% of all shipments.
Apple iOS marked its largest ever first quarter volume on the strength of its iPhone shipment volumes, yet the operating system posted a year-over-year decline in market share and lower year-over-year shipment growth than the overall market. Although demand remains strong worldwide, the iOS experience has remained largely the same since the first iPhone debuted in 2007. That appears ready to change as online rumors and speculation predict a massive overhaul of the user interface when iOS 7 debuts.
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments in 1Q13 in Millions of Units (Source: IDC)
The gains by Android and iOS over the last several years have come at the expense of every other operating system, but IDC's numbers reveal that Windows Phone is beginning to see signs of life with shipments more than doubling year over year, although its share of the market remains low at 3.2%.
Still, Windows Phone was the only minor competitor to gain share over the previous year, with BlackBerry continuing its slide in falling to 2.9%, although IDC suggests the launch of BB10 may bolster BlackBerry's numbers going forward. Linux and Symbian also saw significant share losses as their former supporters have shifted focus to Android and Windows Phone.