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Apple order fulfillment ranks first among online retailers with average delivery time of 2.3 days in June


Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 04:49 pm PT (07:49 pm ET)

According to fresh data from customer service analytics company StellaService, Apple ranked No. 1 on the firm’s charts for the first time ever in June, averaging 2.3 days to process and deliver online orders.

Source: StellaService

In a study published on Wednesday, StellaService found the Online Apple Store to have highest performing shipping metrics of top online retailers in June, including Amazon, Zappos and, among others. This was the first time Apple took the top spot in the firm’s shipping category.

Alongside Apple in the top five were four clothing outlets, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, UnderArmour and HM. Overall, the average ship time of all top 25 retailers was 3.1 days, though other metrics are rolled in to the final assessment, like delivery date estimate, package fit, package quality and more. In addition, Apple was the only tech company to make it into the list’s top 25 for the shipping category.

In terms of phone and Apple’s customer service, measured by email, phone and chat, fell during the past three months. In May, for example, the company’s phone-based service was ranked at No. 6, but fell below the top 25 in June. Chat response was previously second place on StellaService’s list in March, but dipped to 24th place in April and below 25th place last month.

Despite its relative shortcomings, the Online Apple Store scored high marks in overall performance, taking third in June place behind J. Crew and Mr Porter. Ralph Lauren and L.L. Bean, which was ranked No. 1 in May, rounded out the top 5. Apple’s online storefront previously reached a high of 7th place in April after coming in at No. 15 in March.

To generate its metrics, StellaService deploys e-commerce analysts to engage with and quantify the speed and quality of online retailers in terms of order fulfillment, customer service and returns and refunds.

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Apple said to cut some 200 jobs from Beats as acquisition closing date looms


Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 05:34 pm PT (08:34 pm ET)

As Apple takes control of Beats Music and Beats Electronics, the Cupertino, Calif. company is said to be paring some 200 jobs from the music software and hardware firm’s roster.

According to sources speaking with the New York Post, Apple is culling about 200 Beats employees as part of its $3 billion acquisition, which is set to close on Aug. 1.

Apple buys Beats

Apple has confirmed it will buy Beats for $3 billion, making it the company’s largest acquisition ever. Beats is best known for its premium headphones, but also recently launched a subscription music streaming service that was the key to Apple’s interest.

Full coverage of Beats Apple

“Last week everyone was given an offer from Apple. Some were transitional offers with a set end date,” one source said.

As noted by the publication, the 200 employees represent about 40 percent of Beats’ global workforce, a substantial downsizing that will likely be filled internally once Apple is in full control of the company.

A separate report from Bloomberg corroborates the claims, saying expected cuts are to come from human resources, finance and other departments that overlap with existing roles at Apple. The publication goes on to say Apple plans to fire the workers after the acquisition is firmly in place.

News of the layoffs was first noted by 9to5Mac.

Apple’s Beats buy has been overshadowed as of late by rumors of an impending iPhone refresh. Most recently, the European Commission gave Apple the green light to go forward with the acquisition, noting the two companies’ combined market share in the headphone business does not come close to that of competing companies.

Last week, audio giant Bose sued Beats’ hardware arm, claiming infringement of patented noise canceling technology. Apple will inherit the lawsuit when it takes over operational control in August.

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Another Apple page briefly mentioned mysterious ‘mid-2014′ 27-inch iMac


Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 05:30 am PT (08:30 am ET)

Apple may have accidentally tipped its hand on two imminent hardware releases this week, with support pages from the company referencing both new Mac mini and 27-inch iMac models listed with a “mid-2014″ launch.

A reference to an updated Mac mini was first discovered on Tuesday, and French site ConsoMac chimed in on Wednesday with a separate mention of a mid-2014 iMac. Like the Mac mini, the reference was included in a chart detailing which versions of Microsoft Windows are compatible with Apple hardware.

Other than that, nothing is known about the mid-2014 iMac, such as internal specifications or screen resolution. Customers have been clamoring for a revamped iMac with a high-resolution Retina display for some time, but there has been no concrete evidence that such an update is imminent.

Apple’s page has since been updated, but a Google cache still shows a reference to two new iMac models in 2014.

The company did introduce a new low-end model last month with MacBook Air components. That new 21.5-inch iMac reached a lower starting price of $1,099, a savings of $200 off the next nearest model in the same size.

But the 27-inch iMac has not seen an update yet this year. It’s currently available in two default configurations: A model with a 3.2-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and a gigabyte of video memory for $1,799, and a higher end 3.4-gigahertz Intel core i5 model with twice the video memory for $1,999.

While Apple’s new 2014 low-cost iMac was rumored before its launch, there have been no such indications of an impending refresh for the 27-inch variety before the listing appeared on the company’s website. The same goes for the Mac mini, which hasn’t seen an update in two years.

As such, it’s possible that both references may have been errors on the company’s part. Or it could be a rare slip-up for Apple, which is known for its legendary secrecy regarding future product plans.

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Apple promoting savings with back-to-school sales tax holidays in US


Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 06:46 am PT (09:46 am ET)

Apple on Tuesday launched an updated informational page, and corresponding email campaign, detailing how consumers in nine U.S. states can take advantage of back-to-school sales tax holidays for substantial savings on Macs and iOS devices next month.

During the promotional period — which varies on a state-by-state basis — Apple will automatically lower sales tax charges for eligible purchases made both in-store and online. Tax-free purchases are also eligible for Apple’s own “Back to School” promotion, compounding consumers’ return with the addition of an Apple Store gift card for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Tax holidays occur in:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee

Eligible purchases include Macs, iPads, and most accessories, including mice and keyboards when purchased alongside a computer. iPhones, educational software, and AppleCare may be included as well, but consumers should review their state laws.

It should be noted that most states place a cap on the portion of each purchase that is exempt from sales tax — the limit is set at $750 in Alabama and Florida, $1,000 in Georgia and New Mexico, $1,500 in Tennessee, $2,500 in Massachusetts, and $3,500 in Missouri. There is no such cap in South Carolina.

The sales tax holiday period runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3 in every state but Georgia — where it ends on Aug. 2 — and Massachusetts, where it has yet to be set by the legislature for 2014. While consumers in North Carolina could take advantage of the sales tax holiday in past years, that law has now been repealed.

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Russian government asks Apple to hand over source code amid spying concerns


Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 08:16 am PT (11:16 am ET)

Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media has suggested that Apple should open its source code for government inspection to ensure that the iPhone maker is not complicit in enabling U.S. intelligence services to spy on the world’s largest country.

Former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and late Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Russian Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov made the same proposition to German firm SAP, one of the most prominent software consultancies in the world, according to Reuters. The suggestion came during a meeting between Nikiforov, Peter Engrob Nielsen — Apple’s top Russian executive — and SAP managing director Vyacheslav Orekhov.

“Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and U.S. intelligence services’ public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware,” Nikiforov said in a statement.

“Obviously, companies which disclose the source code of their programmes are not hiding anything, but those who do not intend to establish cooperation with Russia on this issue may have undeclared capabilities in their products,” he added.

Microsoft agreed to a similar proposal in 2010, granting the Russian Federal Security Service access to source code for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SQL Server. The FSS is roughly equivalent to the Central Intelligence Agency in the U.S.

The documents revealed by Snowden have caused substantial concern on the part of foreign governments when it comes to trusting the security of U.S. technology, much of it directed at Apple thanks to the massive popularity of the iPhone and iPad. Most recently, Chinese state media called iOS’s location tracking features a “national security concern,” accusations that Apple vociferously denied.

“Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers,” the company said in a response to the Chinese reports. “Privacy is built into our products and services from the earliest stages of design. We work tirelessly to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world.”

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UBS praises Apple CEO Tim Cook for thinking ‘big,’ pushing for iOS to become ubiquitous


Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 11:07 am PT (02:07 pm ET)

Investment firm UBS heaped praise upon Apple on Wednesday, advising Wall Street to buy in on the strength of Chief Executive Tim Cook and his strategy to push the iOS platform “everywhere.”

The New York Stock Exchange, credit Carlos Delgado via Wikipedia.

Analyst Steven Milunovich said in a note to investors, a copy of which was provided to AppleInsider, that Cook “thinks big,” and that bodes well for the future of Apple. He cited comments made by the CEO in the company’s most recent earnings call, in which he said the company has “a very large vision of what iOS can be.”

During the call, Cook said he envisions iOS finding success in the pocket, car, workplace, home and gym. And it’s expected by many, including Milunovich, that iOS will soon come to the wearable device market in the form of an anticipated “iWatch.”

“Cook has called Apple a mega-ecosystem that has grown 10x stronger in the last few years,” Milunovich wrote. “We call it the Applesphere.”

He’s particularly excited by the upcoming addition of Continuity to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which will allow users to seamlessly transition between their Mac, iPhone and iPad throughout the day. Add in CarPlay for vehicles, Apple TV in the living room, and iBeacon in stores, and Milunovich sees the “Applesphere” becoming ubiquitous.

In addition to the rumored “iWatch” tracking fitness and health, the analyst also believes that Apple will introduce mobile payments, allowing iOS to assist in yet another facet of users’ daily lives. In this respect, he believes Apple’s focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty will help ensure that users who try out the company’s omnipresent ecosystem will stay hooked.

“The upside to the story from here may be less as a tech company and more as a luxury consumer franchise or lifestyle brand,” Milunovich said.

Last month, UBS upped its price target for shares of AAPL to $115, predicting that gross margins will continue to improve for the company heading into 2015. On Wednesday, Milunovich stood by that target, and recommended that investors “hang in” for this fall, when the company is expected to enter into a new and lucrative product cycle.

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