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GameStop Expanding Beyond Video Games with Aggressive Growth Plans for Simply Mac Stores

Major video game retailer GameStop is making a significant push to broaden its business, expanding its retail operations with new brands and stores that will focus on Apple gear and AT&T Mobility products, reports The Star-Telegram.

simply_mac_store
While the diversification will include a move into AT&T mobile services through GameStop's acquisition of Spring Mobile, of more interest for Apple users is GameStop's plans for Simply Mac, a chain of authorized Apple resale and repair shops that focuses on smaller markets where Apple has not shown interest in opening its own stores. Founded in 2006 in Utah, Simply Mac grew to eight stores by October 2012 when GameStop acquired a 49.9 percent stake in the Apple reseller. In November 2013, GameStop exercised an option to purchase the rest of Simply Mac, which now includes 23 locations focused in the western half of the United States, and GameStop has plans for a significant expansion of the Simply Mac network.
[GameStop CEO Paul] Raines said GameStop’s confidence in rapid growth at the small chains, acquired for about $110 million last year, is buoyed by their strong ties to industry leaders AT&T and Apple.

Steve Bain and Jason Ellis, the executives who built Simply Mac and Spring Mobile, continue to run the operations for GameStop and see strong growth opportunities. After opening 23 stores this year, Bain said, the company plans to open 50 more Simply Mac stores in 2015.
While its stores are smaller and lower profile than many of Apple's retail stores, Simply Mac's push to open nearly 75 stores through the end of 2015 appears to dwarf Apple's own plans in the United States. Apple typically opens around 30 stores per year, but at this point the majority of those are outside of the United States.
The “transformation,” as CEO Paul Raines dubbed it, is intended to keep GameStop growing and leverage its expertise in store operations and buying and selling used devices. He said he envisions GameStop as a “family of specialty retailers that make your favorite technologies affordable and simple.”
As GameStop expands into the lucrative mobile phone and Apple device market, the retailer plans to downsize its video games operations by closing up to 130 of its 6,400 GameStop stores sometime this year. Though video games will remain its primary focus, GameStop CEO Rob Lloyd believes the company's new technology brands could generate up to $1 billion in revenue and contribute up to 10 percent of GameStop's revenue by 2016.

This move into Apple's retail segment comes at a time when Apple is in the middle of a retail transition. The company is awaiting the arrival of retail head Angela Ahrendts, who is completing her transitionary period at Burberry. Apple also is rumored to be working on a mobile payments system under the leadership of Jennifer Bailey, who allegedly left her executive role in online retail to spearhead this new mobile initiative.


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References to Siri for Apple TV Found in iOS 7.1 Code

Amid persistant rumors that Apple is developing a revamped Apple TV set-top box, new code appearing in iOS 7.1 indicates that the company is indeed working on building in support for Siri voice input on the Apple TV, as highlighted by 9to5Mac. The references are included in both iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1, but not in earlier releases such as iOS 7.0.6.

siri_apple_tv_assistant
The file is a supporting property-list resource for Assistant (Apple's internal name for Siri), containing information about the feature. The UIDeviceFamily array declares what platforms are compatible with the feature.

As shown by Apple’s documentation, '1' and '2' represent the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad families. The '3' represents the Apple TV family.
References to a new Apple TV model were previously found in iOS 7 builds, and today's information suggests that voice input and feedback are likely to be included on the new device.

Apple's launch plans for a new Apple TV box remain unclear, with rumors of a late 2013 launch giving way to reports centering around an introduction in March or April of this year. Those rumors were then quashed by The Loop's Jim Dalrymple, leaving uncertainty about Apple's television plans. A recent product roadmap prediction from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that the new Apple TV could arrive around September or October of this year.


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Apple’s New ‘Powerful’ iPhone 5s Micro-Site Profiles Apps from Latest TV Ad

Apple today unveiled a new section on its website dedicated to the "Powerful" ad that made its prime time television premiere on Tuesday. The commercial promotes the message that with the capabilities of the iPhone 5s "You're more powerful than you think."

powerful-website-apps
The accompanying website continues this "Powerful" theme that promotes the iPhone 5s as having the power "to create, shape, and share your life. The power to do everyday things in extraordinary ways, and to do extraordinary things every day." The new page includes both a high-definition version of the television commercial as well as links to all the apps showcased in the advertisement. The apps include Star Walk [iTunes], Instant Heart Rate [iTunes], Word Lens [iTunes], AmpliTube [iTunes], Luminair [iTunes] and Pacific Rim [iTunes].

The "Powerful" ad features "Gigantic" by the Pixies [iTunes] playing in the background while iPhone 5s owners use their iPhone to play music, create art and even launch amateur rockets. This new television advertisement follows the company's earlier "Your Verse" campaign that showcases how individuals are using the iPad in amazing ways.


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Apple’s New ‘Powerful’ iPhone 5s Micro-Site Profiles Apps from Latest TV Ad

Apple today unveiled a new section on its website dedicated to the "Powerful" ad that made its prime time television premiere on Tuesday. The commercial promotes the message that with the capabilities of the iPhone 5s "You're more powerful than you think."

powerful-website-apps
The accompanying website continues this "Powerful" theme that promotes the iPhone 5s as having the power "to create, shape, and share your life. The power to do everyday things in extraordinary ways, and to do extraordinary things every day." The new page includes both a high-definition version of the television commercial as well as links to all the apps showcased in the advertisement. The apps include Star Walk [iTunes], Instant Heart Rate [iTunes], Word Lens [iTunes], AmpliTube [iTunes], Luminair [iTunes] and Pacific Rim [iTunes].

The "Powerful" ad features "Gigantic" by the Pixies [iTunes] playing in the background while iPhone 5s owners use their iPhone to play music, create art and even launch amateur rockets. This new television advertisement follows the company's earlier "Your Verse" campaign that showcases how individuals are using the iPad in amazing ways.


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Sprint to Make All Devices Launched After February 11, 2015 Unlockable

sprint_logo-250x124 In an updated unlocking FAQ found on its website (via Android Police), Sprint has stated that it will make all of its devices released after February 11, 2015 unlockable for use on other domestic networks such as AT&T or T-Mobile.

The move is a part of the agreement that the five major U.S. wireless carriers and the Federal Communications Commission signed in December in order to allow customers to unlock their devices and switch carriers if they wish.
I've been told by another carrier that Sprint needs to unlock my SIM slot in order to use my phone on the other carrier's network.

For eligible devices, Sprint will unlock the SIM slot, to the extent that a device SIM slot is capable of being unlocked. It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked, often because of the manufacturers' device designs, and that even for those devices capable of being unlocked, not all device functionality may be capable of being unlocked. Specifically, devices manufactured with a SIM slot within the past three years (including, but not limited to, all Apple iPhone devices), cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier's SIM for use on another domestic carrier's network. Sprint has no technological process available to do this. In accordance with Sprint's voluntary commitment contained within CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service (“Unlocking Commitment”), Sprint is working to ensure that all devices developed and launched on or after February 11, 2015 are capable of being unlocked domestically.
Last year, the Library of Congress ruled that it was illegal for certain mobile phone owners to unlock their phone unless given permission by their wireless carrier. However, the Obama administration filed a petition with the FCC last September asking that carriers be required to unlock mobile devices, which was then followed by the agreement [PDF] between the FCC and the five major U.S. carriers.

Sprint's move to implement domestic unlocking in all of its future devices will likely be followed by similar moves from other U.S. carriers, as all wireless providers pledged last December to implement the changes within 12 months.


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Apple Fixes FaceTime on Older Versions of OS X, iOS 6 Still Not Working

facetime_ios_iconApple tonight released an update for FaceTime on OS X [Direct Link], which resolves connections issues and is recommended for all FaceTime users currently running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The connection issues are presumably related to the problems reported last week which affected both older versions of OS X and iOS 6 versions of FaceTime.

Apple, however, has not yet addressed the problems with FaceTime that are in iOS 6. While it is encouraging that Apple released an update for FaceTime for OS X 10.6, Apple support's recommendations for iOS 6 users has been to upgrade to iOS 7. One user has quoted Apple support as saying that the only fix for iOS 6 is to upgrade to the latest version of iOS 7, with no current plans to release a fix on iOS 6 or iOS 5.

According to Apple's updated FaceTime troubleshooting page, users who are still having trouble with the application are recommended to update to the latest version of iOS or OS X.


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Apple Debuts New ‘Powerful’ TV Ad Focusing on iPhone 5s [Updated]

Apple has debuted a new TV ad alongside Marvel's Agents of SHIELD tonight on ABC called "Powerful". The ad, which was first spotted by 9to5Mac, showcases iPhone 5s owners using the device to enhance their lives in multiple ways.


With "Gigantic" by the Pixies [iTunes] playing in the background, the app has users using the iPhone 5s to check their health, check for directions, create short monster movies, record videos, create art installations and more, including a band preparing to play a song. The ad ends with the tagline "You're more powerful than you think".

Apple has not aired an iPhone 5s ad since the seasonal holiday ad "Misunderstood", which has since been removed from its YouTube channel. In the meantime, Apple has instead focusing its advertising efforts on the iPad's "Your Verse" ad campaign.

Update 8:31 PM: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the ad as "Gigantic". It has been corrected to its proper name, "Powerful". Apple's official YouTube video for the ad has also been swapped in.


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