We discovered late last year that Apple was hiring software engineers with experience in virtual reality gaming and user interfaces, but new job listings this week point to Apple’s interest in the development of hardware for virtual reality.
Apple is seeking a Senior Display Systems Engineer for “display systems design and development related to VR environments.” More specifically, Apple is looking for someone experienced in monitor and projection technologies to help it with “extremely high fidelity VR environments.” From the job listing:
-Specify and test novel display systems for virtual environments.
-Work with vendors to develop custom display solutions.
-Design and select appropriate hardware and software components to optimize fidelity in a variety of VR environments
-Develop software to support displaying rendered image sequences on the display hardware.
-Work closely with software, electrical and mechanical engineers during testing and integration.
A second job listing posted by Apple this week is seeking a Senior Display Software Engineer to support graphics software engineering efforts for VR environments. The engineer will “own the display pipeline from rendered image sequences to display hardware.”
The job listing also mentions “Experience with motion capture systems,” which immediately makes us think of the acquisition of PrimeSense Apple made back in 2013, the company originally behind the sensor’s used in Microsoft’s Kinect.
Late last year Apple posted job listings looking for app engineers to work on virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. We mentioned at the time that Apple has its own patent for a virtual reality headset that’s not unlike products currently on the market such asGoogle’s recently launched Cardboard experiment, Pinc, and Samsung’s Gear VR. Earlier this month the company was granted that patent (pictured above).
While the job listings for app engineers were looking for those experienced with Oculus Rift and other VR hardware, these new job listings are the first hint that Apple might be looking into developing hardware for the experience too.
Filed under: AAPL Company
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According to Click's creators, the adapter is a spring bar that will attach to a watchband, which will then fit into the Apple Watch's grooves, much like one of Apple's own watch bands. It appears to use the pin that comes with an existing watchband rather than shipping with one of its own.
Click takes advantage of the sliding and locking mechanism on both sides of the watch to hold the adapter in place just like one of Apple's watchbands. Click allows customers to truly personalize the Apple Watch to match their style and at a fraction of the cost of Apple's Watchbands.Click is currently in the prototype stage with only 3D printed versions of the adapter available to show off, but the team behind Click is planning to introduce it via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in the next two weeks.
It's possible, however, that Click will never make it out of the prototype phase and into the hands of consumers. Click is not the first Apple Watch watchband adapter as it claims to be, but the second. Earlier this year, a designer introduced a crowdfunding campaign for another strap adapter designed for the Apple Watch. The campaign was shut down shortly after it launched, presumably by Apple, in an effort to prevent people from circumventing the specific design aesthetic the company has in mind for the Apple Watch.
Apple's distaste for adapters that will allow the Apple Watch to be used with any watch band is not surprising given the amount of work that went into developing the six custom bands for the Apple Watch: the Link Bracelet, the Sport Band, the Leather Loop, the Modern Buckle, the Classic Buckle, and the Milanese Loop. Jony Ive has called the Apple Watch "one of the most difficult projects" he's ever worked on, and in multiple interviews, he's detailed the extensive amount of time that the company put into design of the Apple Watch.
It's possible Apple will relax its stance on third-party Apple Watch bands and adapters in the future, and it's even likely that the company will form partnerships or design guidelines for those wishing to create bands for the device, but at this early stage, Apple likely wants to keep a tight rein on the bands the watch is worn with given its position as the company's first fashion accessory.
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"The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "Think about it. The Internet has replaced the functions of the telephone and the post office. The Internet has redefined commerce, and as the outpouring from four million Americans has demonstrated, the Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules."The ruling will reclassify fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, and Internet providers will be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act. The decision was heavily contested by Internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, which could sue the FCC in an attempt to reverse the new rules. FCC officials believe that Type II reclassification will give them more legal authority to prevent net neutrality rules from being overturned.
While the new requirements are intended to ensure that the Internet remains fast, fair and open, the FCC did not follow through with last-mile unbundling that would have required Internet service providers to sell wholesale access to their networks. That decision would have allowed new competitors to enter local markets and sell broadband service using the existing infrastructure of larger providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
"But the FCC decided not to impose unbundling," adds Ars Technica. "As such, the vote does little to boost Internet service competition in cities or towns. But it's an attempt to prevent incumbent ISPs from using their market dominance to harm online providers, including those who offer services that compete against the broadband providers' voice and video services."The FCC's order on Thursday could be faced with legal challenges and action from Congress, according to the report, suggesting that debate surrounding net neutrality is far from over. The new rules will go into effect 60 days after being published in the U.S. Federal Register, although the Office of Management and Budget will continue to manage enhancements to the transparency rule.
Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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When we first started talking about the Apple Watch, some predicted that the highest-end model—the 18k gold Edition—could retail for more than $1,000. Now that seems almost quaint. Apple-focused blogs such as Daring Fireball now regularly bandy about numbers like $10,000—and sometimes far more.
The jewelry and watch sources I spoke with all think a price tag of $6,000 or more is reasonable, maybe even probable. “If it’s under $5,000, it will shock me,” says Michael Pucci, founder of the Los Angeles–based Abbiamo Group, marketing and sales consultants for jewelry and watches. He thinks the price tag will fall between $6,000 and $10,000, but not likely much more than that.
The 18k gold is, of course, the watch’s most valuable component. While it’s difficult to judge gold content from photos—given questions about thickness, etc.—industry experts believe the watch and accompanying case will use about 1 ounce of gold (currently trading for around $1,200).
The Apple Watch Edition.
Yet, you can’t just value the gold by weight, argues Torry Hoover, president of Hoover & Strong, the metals refiner.
“These can’t be mass-produced,” he says. “You can machine parts of it, but it will take a fair amount to make a case. There is still a lot of handwork that has to be done with it.”
That’s because gold’s properties sometimes make the metal ill-suited for assembly lines, says Jason Wilbur, a Los Angeles–based watch designer.
“We all know how soft gold is. It’s tricky. It moves around a little more than other metals. You have a lot of sharp edges and soft materials and little connection points, so you can’t just use manufacturing tools. The lugs may end up snapping off. One little pockmark on this thing will show up. You can’t just use the same tools as the other models and throw some gold in there, and there is your watch.”
Apple claims it’s using a company-developed metal that’s “up to twice as hard as standard gold.” Of course, saying “up to” gives it a lot of leeway, and no one I spoke to thinks it will introduce anything truly radical.
“There are always different alloys, but I think that’s more marketing than anything else,” says Morris Chabbott, managing director of New York City–based Morét Time. “I’ve been in the gold business, and there are many different things you can do with it. Apple is about making the best technology, so if they are making gold they may want a little edge to it.”
Given all the extras involved—including promotion costs and Apple’s traditional 40 percent margin—most guessed the watch will likely wholesale for around $3,000–$4,000. Then comes the thornier question of how much it will retail for.
Apple’s hiring of Patrick Pruniaux, former sales director at TAG Heuer, signals it wants to sell the high-end watch sold at the standard places that sell high-end watches—perhaps department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.
But the company is known for offering retailers (including its own) meager margins. Stores make a scant 3 percent on each iPad, according to ZDNet. High-end retailers may like the Apple Watch as a traffic builder. But they may draw the line at 3 percent.
“This could bring a new consumer to department stores,” says Pucci. “But I think they will also tell them: ‘Look we love you guys, but we have to make at least 35 to 40 percent.’ ”
Watch markups vary depending on the power of the brand and its price point, according to Andrew Block, who spent 25 years at Tourneau and now heads Stephen Singer Fine Jewelry. For new or unproven high-end brands, they generally near 50 percent, with the bulk pocketed by the retailer. For more sought-after names, the retail markup falls to 30–40 percent, with the manufacturers keeping more for itself.
So what category does this fall into? Apple being Apple, retailers may give it some leeway—to a point.
“Apple’s brand is formidable,” says Block. “But so is Rolex’s, so is Patek Philippe’s. Some of the other brands are just as formidable in this category. It hasn’t established its value yet in gold.” (He believes the Apple Watch will be bigger in overseas markets such China and South America than it will be in the United States.)
Apple could sell the watch at its own high-end boutiques—it is reportedly opening a store on Madison Avenue in New York City, on a retail strip surrounded by jewelry stores. In addition, according to The New Yorker, Apple design head Jonathan Ive and store chief Angela Ahrendts—who formerly ran Burberry—are remodeling the standard stores so they “become a more natural setting for vitrines filled with gold.” (Among the rumored changes: Salespeople will wear shirts with collars.) Ive talks about overhearing one conversation: “I’m not going to buy a watch if I can’t stand on carpet.”
So it’s safe to say Apple stores will now feature nice carpets. That costs money. So does the extra security needed for high-end items. Carrying a gold watch is “totally antithetical to their current retail model,” says John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. “You can’t have people touching it. You can’t have it out on counters. You have the same problems that retail jewelers have, in terms of distraction thefts, in terms of switching, in terms of grab and runs.”
Then there are the X factors. Wilbur believes that Apple will leverage the “psychology of luxury brands.”
“The whole purpose of this is to create extra emotional buzz,” he says. “There is no functional value to having the gold there, there is no beauty advantage—if it was just about the look, you could just gold-plate it.”
“No one wants an Hublot for $3,000. They want it for $20,000 or $30,000. A lot of people will only want this if it’s $10,000 or more.”
It is difficult to find a gold watch for less than $10,000—many retail for double that. Of course, Swiss manufacturers will argue this is an Apple-to-Rolex comparison, as their products’ intricate craftsmanship justifies that high price tag. “What makes a high-end watch?” asks Hoover. “It’s the Swiss movements, the inner workings. That’s why collectors buy them. This has none of that. It’s inserting a high-end case on a piece of electronics.” (That said, not all consumers will realize that—or care.)
Then there’s the question of value. As the watch industry likes to remind people, its products are built to last generations. The Apple Watch might turn obsolete by next week. The high-end model might allow users to upgrade by making the “guts” removable, which would partly solve the problem, but not totally. “The Watch will become thinner,” says tech site Venture Beat. “It may incorporate a better battery. It might get a camera.… After a couple of years of ownership the first-generation 18-karat gold Apple Watch will be outdated beyond anything a firmware update can fix.”
This is also still pretty new ground for the company, and tech in general. “As far as I’m aware, this is the first technology product that is made out of precious metal besides the Vertu phone,” says Chabbot. “I think it will fit into a price point where it’s accessible luxury.”
I agree, and predict a low price point—possibly $5,999. High margins and low turnover are the luxury store business model. Not Apple’s. If the company makes a thousand dollars or more on each high-end watch, that’s far better than what it takes home on a $700 iPhone.
Plus, it can always go higher. If Apple establishes itself as a luxury brand, it could produce watches sprinkled with diamonds, or introduce limited-edition designs, or do co-ventures with established names.
The company is still dipping its toe in the water here. Whatever number the first Edition retails for, it may not be the ceiling, but the floor.
Filed under: AAPL Company, Apple Watch Tagged: Alexander Wang (designer), Apple watch, Apple Watch Edition, ART, Bergdorf Goodman, United States, Watch
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As of today, anyone can sign up for an Apple ID to access Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for free. The software suite lets users create and edit text documents, presentations, and spreadsheets from their browsers. Signing up for a free Apple ID account entitles users to 1GB of complimentary iCloud storage to be used with the apps for storing documents.
Previously, access to Apple's iWork suite of apps was limited to users who owned an iOS device or a Mac, but with Apple's new web-only iCloud access, the company can draw new users to its platform and compete with more universal software offerings like Microsoft's Office Suite.
iCloud.com's web-only apps can be accessed from recent versions of Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Free accounts are limited to 1GB of storage and users will need an iOS device or Mac to acquire more storage or access iCloud's full set of features.
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Read the inspiring note Tim Cook left at a Holocaust museum
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