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It seems as if we know what is coming tomorrow from Apple - an enhanced version of the iPhone (the 5S?) and a budget version of the iPhone (5C). So we are now hearing from industry analysts as they try to highlight what the key issues facing the brand are.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, has just published his thoughts and they make very interesting reading.

Dawson mainly focuses on where Apple should position the budget 5C. He says that the trick is to make it cheap enough so that it can attract non-Apple buyers, especially in emerging markets like China, but not to make it too cheap to tarnish the premium reputation of the brand. Also that the new 5C needs to be nowhere near as exciting as the 5S.

He says

"The cheaper iPhone is critical for expanding the addressable market, because many people in China and elsewhere simply can't afford to buy a current generation iPhone, especially when it's not subsidized. However, the key risk for Apple in launching a cheaper iPhone is that it may cannibalize sales of the high-end phone. That would exacerbate a problem Apple's had for the last few quarters, as average selling prices for iPhones have fallen from $608 to $581 in the past year. That in turn squeezes margins, and it's only likely to get worse with a cheaper iPhone. The trick is for Apple to position a cheaper device so that it's attractive for those that haven't been able to afford an iPhone before, but is missing enough key features for the new flagship iPhone to remain compelling."

Dawson also believes that Apple needs "demonstrate that it can maintain momentum in overall sales of iPhones, and to do so in a way which won't drive down margins significantly."

He points to the way in which the iPhone growth rate as slowed year on year, largely because of Apple's increased market penetration.

He concludes by saying

"All of this, along with similar trends in the iPad space driven by the launch of the iPad Mini, increase the pressure on Apple to launch a new line of products to keep overall growth going. We're not going to see such a product at the iPhone event, but Apple needs to demonstrate in the coming months that it has other product lines which can start to make up for slowing growth and falling margins in iPhone and iPad. That's a tall order, because both the iPhone and iPad generate $400-600 in revenue per unit, and sell tens of millions per quarter. A smart watch or even a revamped Apple TV are unlikely to generate anything close to those sorts of numbers, and that's a problem Apple will have to work hard to overcome."

timcook.jpg roy-hodgson.jpgIn the oddest of coincidences tomorrow night is a very big one for two high profile, and mildly controversial individuals, for while Roy Hodgson will be delivering his team talk to an England squad in a make or break World Cup game against the Ukrainians, Tim Cook will be overseeing the launch of two very important new Apple products.

The parallels between the position of the two men are pretty scary - here's why.

1 Both were appointed to be a safe pair of hands - Cook, while not a total surprise, wasn't exactly seen as a bold or innovative appointment, but rather a safe-ish pair of hands. The same is true for Roy Hodgson. Remember the whole country seemed to want the England job to go to Harry Redknapp. I think it is fair to say that neither man has enjoyed the full support of the media either.

I also think that expectations of what both men will achieve is pretty low. No one expects Cook to be another Steve Jobs, while you can get very good odds on Hodgson's England winning the World Cup.

2 Both have been accused of lacking vision
- Some pundits think that the lack of innovation has slowed for Apple since Cook took the reins, while Hodgson's England have been accused of being a tad workmanlike.

3 Tomorrow night is a make or break moment - If the smartphones fail to impress the critics and Apple's share prices plummet, the knives could be out for Cook. Meanwhile if England lose in the Ukraine World Cup qualification will look unlikely and Hodgson's tenure as England manager could be entering the home straight.

4 But both could pull it out of the fire - If things go OK for Cook tomorrow and the press aren't too dismissive of the new handsets he might be able to pull it out of the fire by launching a revolutionary iPhone 6 and iWatch next year. Similarly a draw or even a win for Woy and he will get his shot at greatness as England take on the best of the World in Brazil next summer.

Personally I think both men will get through tomorrow ok-ish (some OK stuff from Apple with the odd negative murmur and a draw for England) - the real pressure will be then on them delivering next year.

Any more parallels you can think of? And no there's no way you can compare Fabio Capello with Steve Jobs!

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Tomorrow is of course the big day when England take on the Ukraine for a place in the World Cup next year. Oh,and a small US company called Apple also happens to be hosting an event in Berlin too.

As we all know the event will see Apple unveil a pair of new phones- the iPhone 5S and the budget iPhone 5C.

So what can we expect from the 5S. Well here's yet another leak which I think might just be not too far from the actual specs.

The big changes are that the button's squared marking has been replaced by a circular one. So does this mean the inclusion of the long-rumoured fingerprint scanner? It would seem so.

And what about the camera - surely Apple will respond to recent innovations from Samsung and Sony by bumping up its camera specs and maybe offering a snapper with with a dual LED flash and f/2.0 aperture that's also capable of recording 120fps 1080p video.

Maybe too we will get improved battery life and a faster processor. But the big questions is will Apple follow its rivals and deliver a bigger screen or stick with a four inch display.

IFA 2013 - Ford's very cool AppLink - Video

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Ford's big focus at IFA was on AppLink, the dashboard's way of hooking up to your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry device to offer hands-free, voice activated, in-car versions of popular apps while on the go.

FA 2013 saw Ford announce a number of new partners for AppLink, including Hotels.com and TomTom navigation to follow its recent deal with Spotify.

Gerald from Tech Digest sat down for a quick demo with Ford's Scott Lyons, head of European Business development.

philips-dj.jpgIf you are going to launch a DJ system then I guess it is good form to get a DJ to help you out. And that's exactly what Philips have done for the launch of its new M1X-DJ System which debuted today at IFA.

They got Armin van Buuren on board to help promote what looks like an intriguing app based DJ system. Essentially the device combines a DJ controller and sound system that comes integrated with an Apple Lightning connector and Bluetooth® connectivity and works with the djay 2 app from Algoriddim. It is optimised to work with the Apple iPad or iPhone 5 but the Bluetooth option means that it works in a more limited capacity with a range of other devices too.

By using the djay 2 app, you can switch between tracks on your playlist or mix tracks together. The onboard DJ controller allows you to mix and scratch your music using two professional grade platters, cross faders and controls.

Given its audio heritage the system features some high-end which combine to deliver 80-Watts of sound. It will play for five hours if run remotely by D cell batteries.

"Fans often ask me what equipment they should buy when they want to start mixing themselves," said Armin. "A lot of kit can be expensive, so with the M1X I wanted to create something that's accessible for everybody. The other great thing about the M1X is that you can play it wherever you want, whether that's the beach, the park or your street: it's the ghettoblaster reinvented for today."

The Philips M1X-DJ Sound System will be available in November 2013 priced at EUR 399.95.

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Huawei ascend P2.jpgThree today announced its 4G plans and chucked in a massive curveball. While the other networks have carefully curated plans for squeezing the most of out of their customers for the data they will use,Three basically said it will simply upgrade its customers existing plans.

And that means that millions of its subscribers can access 4G from December onwards and access unlimited data.

So if you are mulling over a 4G contract here are two very good reasons to consider Three - price and the Apple iPhone 5.

1 The Huawei Ascend P2

On 3G this looks like a pretty decent phone with its 4.7inch, 1280 x 720 display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB internal memory, 13MP rear camera and front facing 1.3MP snapper. Given that it starts at £20 a month on Three with unlimited data in December it will become the heart of the cheapest 4G phone package in the UK. That deal looks phenomenal.

2 The iPhone 5

Want an Apple iPhone 5 on 4G? Well at the moment it is is either Three or EE. Three has the Apple iPhone 5 from £31 a month on a 4G all you can eat data package - you have to pay an upfront fee of £29. With EE prices start at £26 per month for the 4G iPhone but that will only grab you 500Mb of data and you have to cough up £250 upfront. For a large amount of data - 10 gigabytes - you need to pay an upfront fee of £9.99 but £46 per month on top of that. Three clearly has a much better package for now.

It should be stressed though that there are many other things to consider when buying a 4G phone/contract including availability of 4G, speed, extras and more.

Check out our comparison of the UK's 4G services here.

vrase-main.jpgHere is quite a novel idea. Build a smartphone case compatible with the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One among others and then turn it into a wearable device which delivers a big screen that's optimised for movies, gaming and more and is compatible with 3D and Augmented Reality software.

That's the plan behind the vrAse which debuts this week on Kickstarter. The Scottish company is hoping to raise £55k to make its project a reality.

Essentially the concept is a case which incorporates a pair of specially designed screens which sit in front of your smartphone and then magnify the images to give you that big screen style experience.

The idea is that the vrAse will in the future be compatible with any phone that you own so you won't need to upgrade it if you change your handset.

It sounds like an innovative concept, it'll be interesting to see if they get their cash. Prices start at £48.

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Excited about that heavily rumoured gold/champagne iPhone 5? Well if you are one issue that you are probably mulling over is 'whether your new shiny case will scratch. After all the black iPhone 5 is notorious for showing marks.

Best check out this video then where Jailbreak Nation has got hold of a gold prototype case and smeared it with cat food and left at the mercy of a groups of kittens tried to mark it with a knife.

If that is the real case it doesn't seem to have come out too badly does it. Shame they couldn't afford the kittens though.

Will our obsession with LEGO ever end? Probably not, and to prove the point Belkin has announced the availability of the first officially licensed LEGO® Builder Case that is a certified LEGO® brick that you can use to create a case for your iPhone 5 or fifth gen iPod. Basically there is an integrated LEGO® baseplate, you and your imagination do the rest. The baseplate is made by LEGO and is integrated into the case in way that is durable and tough.

There's also a semi-flexible outer frame for shock-absorption, button protection, and unobstructed access to audio ports and speaker

"At LEGO® we strive to build imagination into everyday life and the partnership with Belkin allows us to do that: offering a functional product that also serves as a stage for expression for anyone embracing a mobile lifestyle," said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO® Group.

The kit starts at £24.99 for the iPhone 5 and £19.99 for the iPod.

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There are shed loads of rumours now about the potential launch of a budget iPhone - which has become known among bloggers as the iPhone 5C.

Now however an analyst has stuck his neck out and not only given the 5C a price but also a launch date.

KGI analyst Ming-chi Kuo says that the iPhone will cost between £230 and £320 for the SIM free model. It is at the upper end of that scale then it doesn't really qualify for a mid range handset. It would still be a pretty much a premium phone.

Kuo said that the "iPhone 5C to replace iPhone 5, while iPhone 4S goes on. We've learned that the iPhone 5 line will be terminated from 4Q13, while the iPhone 4S line will carry on. From this, we infer that iPhone 5C is launched to replace iPhone 5. In other words, the 5C model will be positioned as midrange. We forecast its retail price to be US$400-$500 (£230-£320).

Kuo also thinks that the new mobile will debut in China first with the rest of the world following later in the year. He suggest that China will get the handset in October and that the rest of the world including the UK will see it later in Q4 - which in theory means late October/early November.

Meanwhile 9to5 Mac which broke the Kuo story is also saying that some sources think that the new Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C will be ion the stores in late September.

It says

Both of Apple's next-generation iPhones will rollout in Japan on Friday, September 20th, according to a report from Nikkei. With the "iPhone 5S" and plastic iPhone scheduled to be introduced at a September 10th media event, a September 20th launch is not a bit surprising based on past history.

More here.


September 10th - get that in your diary now, for it seems pretty certain that it will be the day that Apple unveils its next iPhone.

It has been rumoured as the big day and now US blog All Things D is saying that a very reliable source has confirmed it.

The day will be a huge one in Apple's history with the iPhone under attack not just from Samsung, but also increasingly from Sony too, the company will need to pull something pretty special out of the bag.

The rumours are that it will debut the iPhone 5S which may or may not feature a fingerprint sensor and an enhanced camera. There are even rumours that Apple will increase the size of the screen to keep up with the current Phablet trends.

Also heavily rumoured is a budget version of the iPhone which may or may not be called the iPhone 5C, it is expected to offer fewer features than the iPhone 5 and come with a plastic casing and a cheaper price tag.

Longer shots include the unveiling of an Apple smartwatch, some news about a TV, and maybe even the Apple iPhone 6.

We'll just have to wait and see.

We have seen shed loads of Apple iPhone 6 - for want of a better word - imaginations, but these from artists Michael Shanks, Ali Rahmoun and Sebastian Scheer are among the best we have ever seen.

They have all been posted on new-ish art/image site Dribbble which is attracting a lot of attention at the moment.

The big difference here, in addition to the wrap round screen, is the complete lack of a physcial buttons on the front - which may or many not work.

Pretty ain't they?

cavaliers.JPGAs you may have read there is a bit of spat going on in the US over whether bloggers love or hate Apple.

The source of the debate is conservative political pundit Rush Limbaugh who said on a radio show.

"'As you know, I spend a lot of time as a hobby reading high-tech and gadget blogs. I would venture to say that nine out of 10 bloggers writing high-tech hate Apple. Apple is the equivalent of the Republicans on these blogs, and Google, Android, and Samsung are the equivalent of the Democrats. They're perfect, they can't do anything wrong, they're ideal, and everybody hates Apple."

I am sure you have your own views on this and there are clearly some bloggers who feel that they are treated shoddily by the team from Cupertino. However some of this might be due to the way that Apple is rather secretive, unlike say Samsung which seems to be a lot more open with bloggers.

Still the comparing of consumer electronics companies to US political parties (even if Limbaugh doesn't really expand on his theory) does take me back to those endless analogies of what Apple, and its rivals represent. Here then is a quick, not too serious round up of how an Apple world view could be constructed in music, religion, coughs TV cooking programmes and more. Don't take it too seriously!

Religion - There have been plenty of articles over the years that have suggested that Apple and its devotees are more akin to Catholicism whereas Microsoft, Google and basically anyone who isn't Apple are more akin to Protestantism. In fact the first time this was outlined was way back in 1994! by the esteemed author Umberto Eco. He said then that

"Apple is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach - if not the Kingdom of Heaven - the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation."

Throw in a devotion to worship things of beauty (for the Sistine Chapel it is is the iPhone) and emphasis on iconography (Jony Ive spending all that time on tweaking the graphics for the interface) and a Pope-like figure in Steve Jobs and you can update the case.

With Protestantism there are many different routes, though fairly similar routes to salvation (as there are phones, platforms etc) though all the makers seem to agree on the basics. There is more choice and freedom in Protestantism, though this renders it much more prone to splits and schisms, and the same is true in the non-Apple consumer electronics world.

Music - I wrote a while ago about how I felt that Apple were the Blur of the consumer electronics world, whereas Samsung were a bit more like Oasis. You can read the article here, but to sum up

Blur had an art school heritage, were highly conceptual in the music they produced (their three mid 90s albums weren't far off concept albums), had massive attention to the detail in the tunes they produced, yet somehow managed to capture the zeitgeist just by being so good and so marketable. If they needed to do populist they could turn their hand to it, but you always sensed a tension between their more obvious moves and their arty background.

Apple are also highly conceptual in everything they do - they don't just trot out smartphones like their rivals do they? They are much more considered than that. And the attention to detail that goes into creating their products is arguably the brand's strongest point.

Which then makes Samsung the Oasis of our story. Taking the ground work that Apple have done in phones and tablets Samsung have made the devices even more popular and connected with many people that Apple have passed by. Oasis were also a lot less precise than Blur and maybe had lower levels of quality control too. So Samsung are happy experimenting in public and not worrying too much so about how they are perceived, or if one of their many many phones doesn't work in the same way that their brand would hope for.

Ultimately just as Oasis ended up the bigger band so Samsung will beat Apple in the long run. They won't be a cooler brand than Apple, but they will become more ubiquitous.

TV chefs - I'd suggest that Apple are a bit Nigella. Sexy, in an old school way, rather precise and taking tried and trusted recipes to new heights. As for the Android mob they are Heston - ambitious, experimental sometimes sublime, but with a tinge of chaos too.

British History - Apple are clearly the Cavaliers with their slavish-like addiction to art, design and dandy-ism. Which makes Google, Samsung et al Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army. A disparate band united against the Cavaliers but with some rather radical views bubbling under the surface.

Kids TV shows - And to really stretch the analogy here's one for the pensioners. Apple are definitely Swap Show - an innovative and stylish take on an established format. I even seem to remember Noel sporting the odd Jobs-like turtleneck.

Which then makes Google and Samsung a bit more Tiswas. Fun, anarchic and likely to descend into chaos at any time.

Can you think of any others? Are Apple Man United and Google Chelsea? Mmm.


alanpartidge.jpgAha, you can't move for Alan blinking Partridge at the moment what with his new film Alpha Papa hitting the cinemas today.

The legend that is North Norfolk Digital's finest broadcaster is also eying up your iPhone too. For launched today is the the official Alan Partridge app, Radio Alan: The Alan Partridge Player which is available to buy on iTunes for £0.99.

The app is designed to help you create the chap's unique early morning broadcasts and features audio clips of Alan talking 'live' on-air from "Mid-Morning Matters."

The clever bit is that the clips are then followed by songs from your own iTunes library. So for example Alan might say "Keep your clubs away from his young, it's Seal!" and then app will recognise if you have a Seal track in your iTunes library and play that song next.

Always an arbiter of good taste the app also has a 'Rate My Tunes' option, whereby Alan rates your iTunes library. If he likes your taste in music you may get a "Back of the Net!" rating that you can share with your friends on Facebook.

There are also in app purchases including the Partridge playlist which retails for £0.99.

YO! Sushi's Robot Drone flying waiter

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yosushi.pngThis is really something else. In fact it had me checking the date to ensure that it wasn't from April 1st.

Anyway everyone's favourite Japanese food emporium YO! Sushi has unveiled the iTray, a flying robot that takes food directly to diners.

It sounds like its customised Drone quadrocopter - that one from Parrot I guess - which is remotely controlled with an iPad.

It is being used at the chain's Soho branch for when customers order one of the restaurant's new YO! Burgers.

Apparently the drone can travel up 25 miles per hour which brings a new meaning to the term fast food. It knows where to go as it is directed to the customer's table using its camera.

Worryingly for waiting staff it doesn't expect tips either.

The company says that if the iTray is a hit it will roll it out in other stores in coming months. There must be a shed load of health and safety issues to overcome, but at least this is a fun use for a Drone.

Dailymotion-app.jpgHere's an interesting move. Dailymotion, which as you may or may not know is the second most popular online video portal after YouTube, has released an iOS app that let's the user shoot, edit and upload HD video.

The idea is that if you use the app it will optimse your videos so they look great on the platform To this end the app features a range of tools from filters, brightness and contrast controls and basic editing facilities such as the ability to splice films together. In fact the app will even take let users take footage from several cameras to combine footage from multiple angles, adjust clip length, trim footage and manage multiple video clips into one final product

The footage is then uploaded to Dailymotion with the option of the user sharing their new content on Facebook, Twitter etc

Cedric Tournay, CEO of Dailymotion, said: "UGC is an important part of our video library, but many of our 115 million users have not had the skills or tools to document their worlds - preferring to view content than create it. We want to encourage this to change by providing a free, simple tool for any user - UGC and professional - them to easily produce and upload top quality video content. That is why our IT and Mobile Team have developed "Dailymotion Caméra" - to help every budding filmmaker easily shoot, edit and upload high quality HD film using iOS. It is the first tool we have developed to aid video capture and refinement and will be added to the viewing apps we already offer for all smart phone and tablet platforms. It doesn't matter how much of an absolute beginner you are, the "Dailymotion Caméra" will make it easy for you to learn, improve and share your videos."

It is available for free from here.

iPhone5offer.jpgOne key market sector where Apple is quite possibly facing tough competition recently is in the student market. Lots of youngsters quite possibly can't afford both a tablet and phone so you can see the appeal of Phablet models like the Samsung Galaxy Note.

The more cash-strapped students are probably just opting for cheaper smartphones.

Anyhow in a bid to tempt more students into buying the iPhone 5 (and cynics might say reducing the backlog before the 5S lands in the autumn) Apple is offering £35 of apps free with each purchase.

And you don't have to spend it on boring educational stuff too it covers games, music, books and more. You get a similar coupon if you buy an iPad and £70 worth of stuff if you invest in a Mac.

To qualify you must be a university student, a student accepted to a university, a parent buying for a university student or a faculty or staff member at any level.

More details here.

iPhone5sback.jpgSo you are Apple and are working on the iPhone 5S. Yet that screen that you lined up - the four inch one that was also on the iPhone 5 - now looks a little undernourished compared with the huge screen mobiles churned out by Samsung and Sony?

What can you do?

Well according to Cnet this morning Apple may be about to do something radical and offer a larger screen size - 4.3inches - on the 5s than the four inch one on the five.

Cnet quotes a variety of sources which say that this is the main reason why the release of the iPhone looks like it might be delayed.

"[Apple] halted processor production for [the] iPhone 5S in May," according to BrightWire news. That initial iPhone 5S design had a 4-inch screen.

The 5S was expected to hit the market in September or October but has been pushed back to the end of the year, both reports said.

The report also says that the budget iPhones will be issued in October.

So what do you think? Would it not be more sensible to speed up the release of the iPhone 6 with a larger (approaching five inch) screen?

FT hints at issues with Apple's iWatch

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There's an interesting snippet in the FT today which reports that Apple is in the midst of a hiring spree as it seeks to put together a team to build the company's much vaunted iWatch.

It is reading between the lines but that does suggest that the iWatch is no way imminent and probably won't arrive until next year.

It also means that the company is clearly taking the iWatch very seriously indeed, with FT believing that there are now 100 staff in Cupertino working on the project.

The Financial Times' sources have stated the current hiring spree is because Apple's product development teams have run into "hard engineering problems that they've not been able to solve."

The iWatch is clearly crucial to the future of Apple and if it takes time to get it right then that makes a lot of sense.

colourful iPhones.jpgSo, what might be cunning plan for the launch of the budget iPhone. How about offer the mobile in five colours with vintage iMac style plastic cases? These look great and kind of remind me of the original coloured iPod minis too.

Well, there's no evidence that this is what Apple is planning, but that hasn't stopped images like this landing on Twitter and websites. This was created by @sonnydickson and looks great (give him a job Cupertino).

What do you think? Is it time for Apple to splash the colour on the iPhone?

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