MediaFile

Apple iPhone China debut underwhelms some

Apple’s iPhone launched in China last Friday with plenty of fanfare, but the sales numbers so far appear a little light. China Unicom, the iPhone’s carrier in the country, said Tuesday it has signed up 5,000 iPhone subscribers since the launch, below what some analysts were expecting.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster called the China launch a “disappointment.” He was expecting something in the range of 30,000 units. “We believe that eventually China will emerge as a major market for iPhone sales but it could take a year or two to gain meaningful unit traction as it did in the U.S.,” he wrote in a research note Tuesday.

The iPhone is Apple’s biggest growth story, with more than 30 million units sold worldwide since its launch in 2007. China represents a huge market opportunity for Apple, which is starting with about 1,000 places selling the iPhone.

In August, China Unicom signed a three-year non-exclusive deal to sell the iPhone in China, aiming to boost its launch of 3G services. However, some analysts say the handset — which costs $700 to $1,000 — will eventually require more subsidies to boost sales.

IPhone sales in the U.S. are heavily subsidized by exclusive carrier AT&T, enabling consumers to get the latest generation device for as little as $199.

Motorola faces iPhone with Droid army

Verizon Wireless and Motorola have unveiled what could be their best shot yet in the battle against Apple Inc’s iPhone — the long expected Droid. Motorola says Droid is the most technically advanced smartphone out there. Its promises:

    A speedy Cortex A8 ARM Processor and a Texas Instruments OMAP application chip that it says makes the device run 30 percent to 50 percent faster than other smartphones, including iPhone. First dibs on Android 2.0, the newest version of Google’s mobile software. A new free navigation service to battle dedicated GPS makers like Garmin and TomTom. A higher resolution screen that’s better than iPhone

“Once they see the display I think they’ll be hooked,” Motorola Chief Executive Sanjay Jha told Reuters.

Verizon’s Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton promised to spend more money advertising this device than any phone in its history. He said that it could be seen as a ”big risk” for Verizon,  which started working with Motorola a year ago, to bet on a handset maker that had been steadily losing ground.  But he said his company liked working Motorola so much that it plans to sell more Motorola Android phones in 2010.

iPhone shortages “nice problem to have”

Tongues are still wagging about Apple’s blowout quarter, which saw the company brush past Wall Street forecasts, sending its shares north of $200. But as Wall Street waited breathlessly for the latest iPhone numbers, it was the company’s Mac line that stole the headlines, posting blockbuster 17 percent unit growth.

So what was the deal with the iPhone? Unit shipments rose 7 percent to 7.4 million units, far from chopped liver but just below the consensus estimate. What? Apple missed? Well it wasn’t quite that simple. Seems the company simply couldn’t keep up with all the folks clamoring to get their hands on the latest model, the 3G S.

Apple COO TIm Cook called it “a nice problem to have in the scheme of things,” and called 3G S demand “phenomenal.” He said demand simply outstripped supply in most of the countries where it was selling the device.

Sony’s PlayStation chief: We’ll get iPod game dabblers

So what happens when the Apple suggests your handheld game device is sub-par? Out of touch? Passe? ‘Dems fighting words, right?******That’s what I asked Sony’s PlayStation boss Jack Tretton during a recent interview. His response? Keep talking, Apple — you’re only creating more future PlayStation users.******A little background: Earlier this month, Apple’s Phil Schiller said this about Sony’s PlayStations Portable (PSP) and the Nintendo DS, which have together sold more than 150 million units around the globe:***

When these things came out they seemed so cool. But once you play a game on the iPod touch, they don’t really stack up anymore. They don’t have this amazing multi-touch user interface. The game are kind of expensive. they don’t even have anything like the Apps Store to find great games and titles. And they certainly don’t deliver a media experience like the iPod that is built into the iPod touch.******But worst is the buying experience. Having to go to the store and trying to find a hot new title is not a lot of fun.

***Not long after, Apple CEO Steve Jobs piled on to the New York Times, saying that the new lower price for the iPod Touch would draw in gamers.******Tretton, whose full title is CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, counterpunched:***

The gaming heritage and the home of gaming is PlayStation. Dabbling in gaming is nice and ‘thank you’ for getting people interested in gaming — because they are going to end up with us.******Its sort of like saying, I got my drivers license and my first car was a beat up Subaru, but if you are ultimately going to be on the track, you are going to be driving a race car, and not something that’s basic transportation. So if you are going to be seriously interested in gaming you are going to end up a PlayStation consumer.

***Tough talk between two consumer electronics giants.******Personally, I have played games on all three devices — but not the same games — so I can’t testify to an apples-to-apples comparison. But I’ll say this: Poker and Tetris on the iPod Touch? Fun. Super Mario Bros on the DS? Cool. FIFA Soccer on the PSP? Wicked.******(Photo: Sony’s Jack Tretten at E3; Reuters)

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Xbox, Youtube, iPhone

We caught up with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the movie rental company’s event where it awarded a $1 million prize after a contest aimed at improving the accuracy of movie recommendations. He spoke about his hopes of working with Apple on the iPhone, the possibility that YouTube will beef up its movie service, and the future of the DVD.

Reuters: What will Netflix subscribers gain from the improvements in the recommendation system?

Hastings: It’s doubling the quality of our movie recommendation and that helps our subscribers get more enjoyment from movies. Because more often they love the movie they watch. More often the movies recommended will will turn out to be movies that you love. If you watch a couple of movies and don’t like many, you start to watch (sports and other programming). If every movie is incredible, you start to watch more.

Video: Motorola’s Cliq in action

Check out Motorola’s new phone, the Cliq. Reuters reporter Sinead Carew scored a demo after Motorola debuted the phone in San Francisco.

Cliq or Dext? Whatever you call it, Motorola’s big play

Motorola launched its Hail Mary pass in the smartphone market and it goes by the name of Cliq, or Dext, depending on where you live. One would assume plenty of branding research went into the names (Cliq in the U.S. and Dext elsewhere), as this is the company that created such easy-to-remember names as Razr, Rokr and Rizr.

Motorola, once a cellphone leader producing iconic products, has fallen well behind the competition as the smartphone market continues to sizzle and consumers flock to devices like the iPhone (which, incidentally, goes by the name “iPhone” everywhere it sells).

With so many new smartphones coming to the market, analysts say the key to success is differentiation — which is often a software issue rather than a hardware one. Motorola hopes its MOTOBLUR software, based on Google’s Android platform, will help it carve out a niche.

EA brings “Madden” to iPhone

Electronic Arts is launching its most venerable video game franchise, “Madden Football,” onto the hottest new gaming platform going, Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch.

The game, whose origins date back 20 years, has been a cash cow for EA over the years, and the company is now seeking to extend that popularity into the fast-growing smartphone market. EA showed a demo of the game at Apple’s media event on Wednesday.

“We’re really happy with the quality of the game, making it fun and easy to pick up and play and we think we’ve created the most authentic and realistic football experience in the market today,” said Adam Sussman, vice president of worldwide publishing for EA Mobile.

from Photographers' Blog:

Live from the Apple media extravaganza

Reuters will have live updates and photos from Apple's live event at 1 pm ET on Wednesday.

Apple Inc's Phil Schiller, Senior Vice-President of worldwide marketing, speaks about the iPod touch's game playing capabilities.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

All photos by Robert Galbraith.

Apple hasn’t rejected Google Voice iPhone app after all

Apple, Google and AT&T all filed their responsesFriday to the FCC’s requestfor more information in the Google Voice app saga. The story line thus far has been trying to determine the reasons behind Apple’s decision to reject the iPhone app.  Some blamed AT&T for the thumbs down, believing that the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. carrier feared the app would provide competition for voice services on the smartphone.

But Apple said AT&T played no role in the rejection. In fact, the iPhone maker said the Google Voice app hasn’t even been rejected.

“Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it,” Apple said in its response. “The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail.”