Apple released their results for the March quarter yesterday after the market closed, and the news was all good, sending the stock up 7 percent in after-hours trading. Not only did Apple's quarterly results beat Wall Street's most optimistic estimates, Apple announced several stock-related moves that thrilled investors: an unusual 7-for-1 stock split, an increase in the quarterly dividend, and an increase in their stock buyback program. Apple's results set a record for a March quarter. Analysts were expecting Apple to report $43.5 billion in revenue, but Apple handily exceeded that, coming in at $45.6 billion. The iPhone led the way, with Apple selling 43.7 million iPhones, well above Wall Street's estimate of 38.5 million. Strong iPhone sales were attributed in part to strong demand in China and emerging markets—where there remains a lot of potential for growth.
I don't have cable TV, so I'm always excited when Apple adds more channels to Apple TV. And those added today are the sorts of channels I might like to watch: History, A&E, and Lifetime. In all three cases, some of the content is free, and other content requires you to log in with the username and password that you use with your cable provider. My impression after checking them out is that there's a ton of free content available—more than I'd ever have time to watch. In some cases, there are only one- to four-minute clips from the various episodes, with the clips always being free. Sometimes for a particular show, some episodes are free and others require a log-in.
An interesting review of the new Samsung Galaxy S5 in the New York Times says that while Samsung's new phone is "nice," it's still bested by the "aging" iPhone 5s. The article says a major advantage of the Samsung phone is its larger size, but that advantage will disappear with the expected arrival of a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in September. In comparison with the iPhone, the plastic of the Galaxy S5 feels cheap, and the interface is overly complex. Plus, even though the Galaxy S5 uses the latest quad-core Shapdragon 801 processor, the article notes that the iPhone 5s beats it on most of the performance tests conducted by AnandTech. In fact, the iPhone 5s comes out on top in a majority of the measures. And this is an "aging" phone. In a few months we'll have a new iPhone 6 with a new A8 chip that will be even faster, with its rumored quad-core processor and quad-core graphics. Apple just keeps racing ahead of the competition.
In addition to leaked photos of molds and casings for the iPhone 6, we're now starting to see images of cases created for the device by Asian manufacturers. Of course, sometimes they make cases based on rumored specs that turn out to be wrong. Images of cases posted on AppleInsider show that the sleep/wake button, which until now has been on the top of the iPhone, has been moved to the right side of the phone opposite volume-up button. This detail was also recently relayed by securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has solid inside information and is usually accurate in his predictions. The move is apparently intended to make one-handed operation easier, though the AppleInsider post suggests it could also be indicative of a new feature that would require more frequent use of this button.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said we'd be seeing new categories of products this year, and it looks like CarPlay is one of them. Initially it seemed as if it would only be available in new cars. But then a rumor emerged that Apine Electronics would come out with an after-market CarPlay console this fall. And now Pioneer, a leader in sound systems, has announced they'll be offering CarPlay in their dashboard receivers beginning early this summer. CarPlay will be available as a firmware update to Pioneer's five 2014 NEX in-dash multimedia receivers. The price of these receivers, which have have large, in-dash LCD displays, ranges from $700 to $1,400. They can be installed in most existing vehicles.
When I wrote about Apple's new CarPlay earlier, the post generated a number of comments from car owners wishing their late-model vehicle could be retrofitted with CarPlay. Today's good news, via Nikkei Asian Review, is that Alpine Electronics will release a CarPlay console this fall in the US and Europe in a price range of $500–700. You won't have to buy a new Ferrari, Mercedes, or Volvo to take advantage of Apple's new offering. CarPlay lets you use various iPhone functions in your car while minimizing distraction—you control CarPlay just by speaking. You can make calls, receive calls, listen to voicemail, use the Maps app, listen to music, and send and receive text messages. Siri even reads your incoming messages to you and lets you dictate responses.
So we seem to be entering the phase of the rumor cycle in which we start to get leaked photos. In this case, the photos aren't of the iPhone 6 itself but of the mold that's said to be used to create the back casing.
T-Mobile wants your tablet business. Already they offer the best deal on data: 200MB per month for free, forever. Now, starting this weekend, they'll sell you an LTE iPad for the same price as a WiFi-only iPad, saving you $130. Plus, if you're a T-Mobile voice customer, you can add their 1GB monthly plan for your iPad for FREE through the rest of 2014.
On Wednesday MacRumors published a roadmap of Apple's forthcoming product releases—and what a lineup it is: New iWatch, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and MacBooks. The information comes from securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, whose 2013 Apple roadmap was very nearly perfect in predicting last year's releases from Apple. On the iOS side, Kuo says that things will start happening in the third quarter (probably September), with the release of a new iPad Air and iPad mini. That will be followed by the rumored iWatch and a 4.7-inch iPhone 6. Then he says that early in the fourth quarter (probably October), we'll see a new version of the Apple TV. Then he sees a 5.5-inch iPhone coming late in the fourth quarter. Not only does Kuo offer a roadmap, but also gives detail on each of the products.
The tech news this week has been dominated by the so-called Heartbleed security issue that could have serious consequences for many Internet users, exposing their data and passwords. In a nutshell, many companies use OpenSSL, an open-source technology, as the basis for the security of their websites. It turns out that a programmer made a simple error several years ago that left the code vulnerable to exploitation.