Apple’s iPhone invite tips its hand — sort of…

If you use Twitter or Facebook, or even just know someone who’s on one of those online social networking services, you’ve probably heard today’s big news ad nauseum by now: Apple is holding an iPhone-related press event on October 4.

The invite, which landed in reporters’ email inboxes at 8am Pacific Time on Tuesday morning, set off the usual frenzy of speculation across the Web about what the new version of the iPhone will look like, what marvels it will perform and when it will be available (October 15, according to a French telecom exec).

Interestingly, Apple actually specified that the event was related to its iPhone – a rare giveaway from the tech giant, whose infamously cryptic invitations can invite the sort of analysis – from bloggers and Apple aficionados alike – typically reserved for Federal Reserve statements.

Perhaps the more straightforward invitation is a sign of changing times, with Tim Cook having officially replaced Steve Jobs as Chief Executive last month. (The June invitation for Apple’s iCloud launch, when Cook was interim CEO, also tipped its hand about the event topic).

Of course, Apple-watchers can’t help themselves.

Various blogs quickly dissected the image on Apple’s invitation on Tuesday, which depicts four familiar icons found on Apple’s iPhones. The date and time icons are simple enough, representing when the event will be held. The maps icon appears to represent Apple’s Cupertino headquarters at One Infinite Loop.

Tech wrap: HP TouchPad’s second coming?

In an interview with Reuters, the head of HP’s PC business Todd Bradley gave the throngs of people who lined up outside stores to snap up discontinued and deeply discounted TouchPads hope that the company wouldn’t abandon them, saying the tablet could be resurrected. This, as the TouchPad was on track to become the second-best selling tablet of all time behind Apple’s iPad.

GigaOm’s Ryan Kim says HP’s revelation muddies the waters, making the biggest maker of PCs in the world seem indecisive, which hurts it’s stock price.

There are lessons to take away from HP’s TouchPad firesale, argues Jon Collins of The Register. Chief among them is that there’s a massive pent-up demand for tablets from any manufacturer at the expense low-end PC and netbook sales.

My iXperiences with Steve Jobs

By Esther Dyson
The opinions expressed are her own.

I don’t want to praise Steve Jobs prematurely, but he has always been ahead of our industry.

Basically, the regular rules don’t apply to him. Apple was never a democracy, but he’s leaving with a 97% employee approval rating, per  People at Apple don’t mix much, but they are generally happy and respect both the people they work with and the products they are making. Steve never listens to customers, yet somehow Apple’s products almost always delight customers. And the people in his stores do too. I remember bringing my mother, a lady of a certain age, into the Palo Alto Apple store to buy a mouse a couple of years ago. They treated her as if she were the most important customer in the world, and answered her questions with the greatest of respect.

I first met Steve back in 1979 or 1980, at Ben Rosen’s Personal Computer Forum (which I later bought and hosted); for some reason, it was at the Playboy Resort in Lake Geneva that year (never again!). Regis McKenna, his PR agent then and for many years, set up the meeting. As I recall, the three of us sipped diet Cokes, served by a Playboy bunny. Even then, as a world traveler who had spent serious time in India, he had a better sense of the world outside educated, middle-class America than most techies.

Tech wrap: Apple after Jobs

So, Apple can survive without Steve Jobs as CEO after all. At least that’s the message that was sent by Apple investors today. Apple shares, which took a beating in after-hours trade on Wednesday after the company announced Jobs’s departure, stabilized on Thursday and were down about 1 percent. Investors, at least for now, appear convinced that Apple can keep churning out blockbuster products and oversized profits with new CEO Tim Cook in charge.

What will those new hit products be? Wired’s GadgetLab takes a look at some of the patents Apple has sought recently to get a sense for where the company could be heading next. The answer: smart TVs, mobile devices with hybrid LCD/e-ink displays and voice-controlled devices. Of course, Apple fans can also expect updates to many of the company’s existing hit products. The company is expected to release a new version of its popular iPhone this fall, and there have been news reports that the iPad could get a refresh this year as well. As some analysts have remarked, Apple’s product machine seems well intact and should be for the next few years.

Reuters correspondents Poornima Gupta and Peter Henderson take a closer look at the man responsible for transforming Apple into the tech juggernaut that it is today.  “Charismatic, visionary, ruthless, perfectionist, dictator – these are some of the words that people use to describe the larger-than-life figure of Jobs, who may be the biggest dreamer the technology world has ever known, but also a hard-edged businessman and negotiator through and through,” they write in a newsmaker piece.

Tim Cook promoted to…COO?

By Robert X. Cringely
The opinions expressed are his own.

I was about to board an airplane Wednesday when Apple announced the resignation of Steve Jobs as CEO and his replacement by Tim Cook. With a couple hours to think on my flight to Charleston it became clear to me that this story is far from over and the long-term leadership of Apple has not yet been determined.

There were rumblings a month ago about Apple board members interviewing possible successors to Steve Jobs. There’s nothing surprising in that, given Jobs’ poor health and the fact that the primary function of any board is hiring and firing CEOs. But it evidently didn’t go down well with Steve, perhaps because he had his own succession plan or simply because it showed a crack in Apple’s armor against news leaks. The story was quickly shot down.

Then a week ago the publication date of Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs was changed from March 6, 2012 to November 21, 2011. This shocked me, because the last I read Isaacson was still writing his book, which was due with the publisher, Simon & Schuster, in September. Huge biographies aren’t finished early or rushed to completion.  Figuring the book will still be finished in September, that it will take a month to print and ship the books, this means that the publisher’s part of this process — the copy editing, designing, formatting, building indexes and so forth — is being reduced from a normal minimum of at least six months to less than six weeks. It makes business sense to do this, sure, but I don’t think that’s enough: some external force is pushing the deadline.

Tim Cook’s memo to Apple staff

Whether new Apple CEO Tim Cook can live up to predecessor Steve Jobs’s reputation as the so-called “innovator-in-chief” will take some time to determine. But an email memo sent by Cook to Apple employees early Thursday shows he has no intention of steering Apple away from its current path. “Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values,” Cook said in the message, which was first published by Ars Technica. Read the full memo below:


I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.

Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.

A world without Steve Jobs

By John Abell
The opinions expressed are his own.

In a way, Steve Jobs might have saved the best “One Last Thing” for last: The legendary and now former Apple CEO has left his company in fine hands and on a path of prospects as great as his final years at the helm have provided.

There is no question that the Man of the Hour is now Tim Cook — Apple’s man of the future. He and Jony Ive have been Jobs’ two right hands for ages. While Jobs himself is irreplaceable, nobody is indispensable. The lines of succession and responsibility have been carefully crafted and are as sleek as any piece of hardware Apple has ever designed.

Cook is no showman in the mold of Jobs, but that doesn’t matter. Jobs’ prime days were well behind him before his last two public appearances this year, at the WWDC and, serendipitously, at the Cupertino town council to pitch for Apple’s new headquarters.

UPDATE: Microsoft to Google: Bring it on

Everyone loves a good catfight, and it appears two of technology’s biggest names this week might just have obliged.

Google –stung by its failure to get in on several thousand Nortel patents scooped up by its biggest rivals in the smartphone industry – cast the first stone by accusing Apple, Microsoft, Oracle – and presumably almost everyone else — of ganging up against Android and using “bogus patents” to reign in the runaway success of the mobile operating system it gives away for free.

In a very long, very public rant on its official blog, top lawyer David Drummond in particular called out Microsoft, which is also a rival in its search business, of trying to hurt Google by forging an unholy alliance with historical arch-foe Apple.

Live Coverage: Apple Q3 earnings call

Surprise. Apple is expected to report another dazzling quarter on Tuesday, propelled by strong demand for its bestseller iPhone and the sleeker iPad 2 tablets.

Apple share rose nearly 2.5 percent on Monday to $373.80 in anticipation of better-than-expected results for the fiscal third-quarter, which saw an easing of the supply constraints surrounding iPad2.

The stock, which touched an all time high of $374.65 earlier in the session, appeared to have emerged out of the limbo it has been since Chief Executive Steve Jobs took leave last January for unspecified medical reasons.

Tech wrap: Apple “spaceship” to tackle “weed” problem

Apple plans to build a circular “spaceship” building in hometown Cupertino — and be the best office building in the world, CEO Steve Jobs said. The ailing Jobs, formally on leave from the company, made his second public appearance in two days late on Tuesday to show off plans to the Cupertino city council. Apple has grown “like a weed” Jobs said, and needs a place to put roughly 12,000 people. The massive new structure would be in addition to the main campus at 1 Infinite Loop.

Facebook is providing European regulators with information about its use of facial recognition technology, in response to concerns about the company’s roll-out of the technology’s availability outside of the U.S.. Facebook said there was no “formal investigation” under way. The move comes after comments by Gerard Lommel, a Luxembourg member of the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, who said the group would study Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology for possible rules violations, according to a report in Bloomberg earlier on Wednesday.

EBay is hunting for acquisitions to speed up its development of image recognition and augmented reality features as the online retailer and auctioneer seeks to capitalize on the potential of mobile phones to help consumers make impulse purchases. Steve Yankovich, head of eBay mobile, told Reuters his division had the company’s full support to spend money on innovative technology, as the fastest growing part of eBay which is helping to renew the 15-year-old company’s image.