Apple is looking to start production of a new iPhone of “similar” design to the current one during the second quarter of 2013, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The production ramp-up is designed to set the stage for a summer launch of a new flagship iPhone, the report claims, which agrees with information we’ve heard from our own sources recently.
John reported last Thursday that Apple’s manufacturing partners were preparing for a June 2013 launch of the so-called iPhone 5S, a device that retains the design of the iPhone 5 but adds better specs under the hood. This report from the WSJ, paired with analyst claims of a similar timeline for an iPhone product refresh, seem to now all be pointing to a new device in early summer. Apple holds its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference around the same time, so if we’re going to see a public event detailing the new device, that’d be when to look for it.
The WSJ report today also claims that Apple continues to work on a lower-cost iPhone, destined for a launch as early as the second half of 2013. The shell casing is said to be different from the top-end iPhone, which is what we’ve heard before, and the new report also says Apple is looking into different case colors with its less expensive design, another tidbit shared by various analysts.
While it isn’t surprising that Apple would be working on a new iPhone, the timeline for launch is a bit different from what we’d expect now that Apple has released the past couple of devices in the fall instead of the summer. Still, when you start to see multiple sources come together in agreement on information like this, it’s usually a good indication that there’s solid info behind the rumors.
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When Google experiments, it can have earth-changing consequences. That might be the case with its latest project: the building of a wireless network on-campus at its Mountain View headquarters, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The small-scale network wouldn’t have much range, and it would be incompatible with most current-generation iOS and Android mobile smartphones and cellular-capable tablets, given the frequency it would use, but it could work very well in dense urban centers.
Already, China, Brazil and Japan are building networks using the same frequencies, which means that eventually devices will likely be made to work on these networks, and if Google’s building a small-scale version of those networks, it’s probably going to be running experimental hardware that can take advantage of it, too. Google declined to share more info with the WSJ on what it was building the network for, but part of the application it filed with the FCC for its deployment includes launching the network in part from the building that houses the team responsible for Google Fiber.
Part of Google’s extended plan for the experiment could be eventually offering a wireless service for Google Fiber users, expanding their coverage to an entire metropolitan area when they’re outside of a house, for instance. That’s just speculation from BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, in conversation with the WSJ, but it’s a plausible enough notion given where the project is spinning up at Google HQ.
There has been lots of talk in the past of Google’s potential desire to build its own wireless service, sparked recently by news that it was in discussion with Dish, the TV service provider that has said in the past it was seeking a partner for building a wireless network. The company also aims to deploy free Wi-Fi access in NYC, beginning in Chelsea where it has its East Coast headquarters. A new project at its Mountain View facility to build a network using licensed spectrum, rather than Wi-Fi, indicates it could be looking to ramp up those efforts to a whole new level down the road.
Watchup, a StartX-incubated video iPad app that allows users to build their own news playlists, has raised a $500,000 angel round of funding.
It’s an impressive list of investors, including Digital News Ventures, The Knight Foundation (co-founder Adriano Farano was a Knight Fellow at Stanford and Watchup was one of the winners of the Knight News Challenge), former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, and Steve Taylor, who led the development of the Boston Globe’s website Boston.com.
Farano’s goal? To provide the best way for a contemporary audience to watch the news.
“Once upon a time, an entire nation would gather in front of the TV set to get the nightly news and learn what had happened during the day,” he said. “Today, things have changed. Today, we are getting the news through different sources; we are bombarded by all this information. [The Watchup team thinks] that there’s still a need for a special time for getting only the good news, only the high-quality information from professional news channels that can really inform the audience.”
To do that, Watchup offers a curated list of news channels (35 currently), from which you can select the segments that you’re interested in and assemble them into a playlist that runs automatically. That allows you to catch all the day’s news while, for example, you’re eating breakfast or cooking dinner. Ultimately, Farano said he wants to introduce more personalization and automation into the process, so Watchup might eventually select the news that you’re likely to be interested in, with no work required on your end.
The company also works with premium partners, giving them prominent placement in the app in exchange for cross-promotion. The initial partners are The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, and The I-Files.
I also asked about live coverage, since that’s often one of the key components in TV news. Farano said he “doesn’t exclude it for the future,” but it’s not currently in his plans.
“Right now, it’s not the goal, because we think that the live space is pretty crowded,” he said. “If you really want to play and stand out in the game, it’s almost a whole new business.”
You can download the Watchup app here. And here’s the full list of investors:
Digital News Ventures
Knight Foundation (through the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Enterprise Fund)
TEEC Angel Fund
Stanford Angels & Investors
Don Hutchinson (former Excite.com executive)
Craig Forman (chairman of Appia and former Yahoo!, WSJ and Time Warner executive)
Jim Friedlich (president of Empirical Media and former WSJ executive)
Henri Deshayes (CEO of e-shopping company Modewalk)
Pascal Lorne (former CEO of the recently acquired mobile messaging company Miyowa)
Following its story last week that suppliers to Apple had kicked off production of a smaller iPad – the so-called ‘iPad mini’ – the Wall Street Journal is now reporting Apple has ordered more than 10 million units for the fourth quarter of this year. The figure comes from Asian component suppliers to Apple — also the source of last week’s iPad mini story.
The paper quotes the suppliers as saying that Apple’s order for 10 million initial units of this smaller iPad is roughly double the size of the order placed by Amazon for its Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter. If Apple is planning to launch a smaller iPad, it will be a direct competitor to Amazon’s small form-factor Kindle tablets and also Google’s Nexus 7.
Apple hasn’t confirmed any of the myriad reports, rumours and speculation it’s planning to make a smaller iPad, so the existence of the device remains unconfirmed. However the WSJ has a good record for sourcing genuine pre-production leaks so evidence for the ‘iPad mini’ continues to mount. The WSJ’s previous story suggested the device will have a 7.85 in screen (vs the 9.7 inch display on its current iPad) and a lower resolution than the third generation iPad — meaning it might not include Apple’s Retina Display technology.
We’ve reached out to Apple for an official response on the WSJ report and will update with any reply.
Last week we also reported an Apple investor’s assertion that Apple would be sending out invitations for a press event to launch the iPad mini on October 10, with the device due to ship on October 17.
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