Of Fake Apple Stores, Lodsys Patent Games, and a Boy’s Dream

Mac Os KenKnock-off Apple Stores, Verizon in the dark on new iPhones, Motorola’s Xoom isn’t selling like iPads — or hot cakes — Lodsys is still on the patent warpath, and there’s an iPad game everyone needs to download. Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray can tell you about all of it, and the game. Don’t forget the game.

An Apple Store by Any Other Name…
The news around the fake Apple Stores in China has turned into drama around the fake Apple stores in China. A Reuters piece from last weekend had people who’d bought stuff from the store freakin’ the frak out once they learned that those genuine Apple Stores at which they’d bought their genuine Apple kit weren’t in fact genuine.

“When I heard the news I rushed here immediately to get the receipt, I am so upset,” one customer told Reuters. “With a store this big, it looks so believable who would have thought it was fake?”

The customer bought an iPhone and a MacBook Pro from one of the stores last month for just under US$2,200, though she didn’t get a receipt. She came back to the store looking for that, apparently concerned that what she bought was not legit, despite reports that what the fake stores were selling was real Apple gear.

For their part, staff at the faux store are a bit annoyed with the media attention, with one unnamed employee saying,

The media is painting us to be a fake store but we don’t sell fakes, all our products are real, you can check it yourself… There is no Chinese law that says I can’t decorate my shop the way I want to decorate it.

That may very well be the case, but there are still hoops through which businesses in China have to jump. Monday brought news, via Fortune, that two of the three fake Apple stores had been shut-down, not for imitating Apple Retail, but for doing anything without having business licenses for the locations.

The original knock-off is apparently kosher enough to keep doing business… at least for now.

Verizon’s Blind iPhone Love
How big a deal is the iPhone for carriers? Apparently big enough that they’ll carry the device without knowing when they’ll get another one.

The Mac Observer has shiny new Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam talking last week to CNBC, saying “We had assumed that we would see an iPhone early in the summertime, as it’s been usually, and that’s going to be a little bit later in the year now.”

Seriously? Apple is as tight lipped with it’s carrier partners as it is with the press? And still they go for it. Pretty big deal.

McAdam’s chat with CNBC was prompted by the release of Verizon’s Spring earnings, in which we see Big Red activating 2.3 million iPhone 4s from the beginning of April through the end of June.

A piece on the earnings from Electronista says “Apple’s support meant Verizon had the best subscriber growth in (two and a half years) years.” So yeah, I guess Verizon would be fine not knowing when the next iPhone was coming, and would just be glad to get it when it does.

More signs that something is coming from Apple in the next couple of months… perhaps something that rhymes with “high tone.” MacRumors says the all-things-iMaker appears to be upping its staff in the U.S. this fall.

While we’d already heard reports that a third-party recruiter was hiring for iPhone sales staff for early autumn, the MacRumors piece says Apple is also calling some former employees home and asking them to return part time for Holidays, new Product Launches and Back to School time. Sounds fairly vague, though one former employee was reportedly contacted and asked to come back for a short time between August 15th and September 15th.

The piece points out that that date range could just be to handle any last-minute, back-to-school shopping rush, though sometime in there is about when some are expecting the as yet unannounced next version of the iPhone. So that sounds iffy for any “high tone” rhyme. What might make that more plausible is a rumor of a strengthening of stormtroopers at the Death Star.

A piece from The Mac Observer says AT&T, too, is staffing for September. Or at least keeping current staff at the ready.

TMO cites a Boy Genius Report report that says the carrier has asked management and staff at its retail locations to wrap up any current training as soon as possible so they can be available at full-strength moth after next.

Pick a Number, Any Number
Remember how almost every analyst out there underestimated how many iPhones Apple would sell in the second quarter of the calendar year, Apple’s third quarter of fiscal year 2011? Macquarie Securities Group does not want to see that happen again.

Boy Genius Report has the firm saying it sees Apple selling as many as 27 million iPhones this quarter, and 40 million next quarter following the launch of the next iPhone.

I am not a financial or sector analyst but may I say what an amazingly difficult thing it sounds like that would be? Because you have to keep people buying iPhone 4 until the day iPhone whatever-the-next-one’s-called comes out, and you have to have production of iPhone whatever-the-next-one’s-called at full capacity immediately.

If you expect Apple to sell 40-million phones in the fourth quarter, you are basically relying on ZERO sellouts. “Enough for All” to quote the statue of St. Francis in that children’s book.

Right, that’s out of my system.

The firm says there is a way that Apple could pull off the Macquarie miracle: Sell the iPhone whatever-the-next-one’s-called at full price; sell the current iPhone 4, production of which is already in full-swing, for 99-bucks; AND keep selling the iPhone 3Gs, production of which is ALSO still ongoing, as a pre-paid device, or free with a two-year contract.

Additionally, Macquarie thinks the cost of Android phones is likely to rise thanks to royalties those phone makers are having to pay as a result of judgements in patent suits. And more expensive Androids, the firm thinks, could lead to more people buying lower cost iPhones.

Okay, okay. That’s all sensible sounding, but 40-million iPhones quarter after next?

We will see.

Xoom: Not Seeing the Love
They named it the “Xoom,” so Motorola has no one to blame but themselves when people say things like “Motorola’s Xoom is NOT zooming off the shelves,” especially when it’s true.

Wired has Moto announcing this week that it shipped 440,000 tablets last quarter, and to make it sound just as bad as it seems to be, that’s sold and shipped to retailers, not sold to consumers.

“In other words,” says the Wired piece, “the Motorola Xoom Android tablet flopped big time.”

Let’s see. How does that stack up against the iPad? Well, Apple sold 9.25-million iPads in the same quarter, so I guess the answer is it does NOT stack up against the iPad.

Apple and Lodsys, Also Not Seeing the Love
After a long period of silence, there seems to be movement around Apple’s attempt to intervene on behalf of app developers being sued by notorious patent troll Lodsys.

First on Apple’s side, The Mac Observer says the Cupertino-company has filed a revised version of its request to intervene. This after Lodsys updated its filing with the court to add Angry Birds developer Rovio to its list of companies from which it would like money, as well as Electronic Arts, Atari, Square Enix, and Take-Two Interactive.

What would Lodsys like? Besides money from a seemingly endless list of companies? For Apple to not be allowed to intervene.

CNET has Lodsys filing a rebuttal to Apple’s over-a-month-old request looking to get Apple’s request denied. Interestingly, they’re making that request based on the size of the companies they’ve added to the list of companies they’re suing.

Quoting their filing:

Apple repeatedly asserts that the defendants are allegedly individuals or ‘small entities with limited resources’… But Apple prematurely filed its Motion before Lodsys filed its Amended Complaint against several large companies with substantial financial and technical resources. Accordingly, there can be no serious dispute that the defendants will more than adequately represent Apple’s purported interest.

I’m sorry, they are still suing smaller developers, right? Should Apple be kept from defending companies being sued by Lodsys that can’t defend themselves because Lodsys is also suing companies that can?

Apple points out that it has licensed the Lodsys patents and has granted that license to developers. Additionally, while Apple argues that the interests of the developers and the interests of Apple are intertwined, Lodsys says Apple’s interest is “at best, purely economic,” and that “economic interests do not satisfy the requirements for intervention.”

Arguments are now in the hand of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division. So… yeah.

iPod touch Out-games the Game Consoles
The gaming industry is changing so much, and I’m not talking Vegas. And sadly, I’m also not talking games that require a D20.

I miss graph paper.

Where was I?

Oh yes. The website Industry Gamers says the current generation of video game consoles has been out longer than the last one. No one, with the exception of Nintendo, has a new console in the pipeline and Nintendo’s console is just gonna play catchup with the PS3 — at least as far as graphics are concerned.

Now the kicker: John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, says none of that matters because consoles aren’t “it” anymore.

“Consoles today are 40 percent of the game industry,” according to the exec. “We have a new hardware platform and we’re putting out software every 90 days. Our fastest growing platform is the iPad right now and that didn’t exist 18 months ago.”

Not that consoles are dead. Riccitello seems happy enough to have Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U for which to develop and sell, but he does think thinking around consoles has to change. Its not about raw power anymore since, past a point, people can’t physically see the difference anyway.

Quoting the exec:

I would argue that there’s more to be provided in terms of value for the consumer in micro-transactions and social experiences and driving those better in cross-platform gameplay between a console and a PC and a handheld device and a social network than there is supercharging graphics.

What works in mobile gaming as far as making a buck? Mobile app and application store researcher Distimo says, well, kind of what Riccitello said.

According to their most recent study, “freemium” games — free to download and supported by in-app purchases — now make up 52 percent of the revenue coming from games in Apple’s App Store. According to the firm, roughly 35 percent of games in the App Store support some kind of in-app pay or purchase system.

The in-app App Store economy for games is about 10-times what it was this time last year according to Distimo, and that shift to “free at first” helped the average price of mobile games drop to $1.44.

I wish I had ME one o’ them buck-44-games.

Allied Star Police: Just Get It
And finally this week, do you remember a month or so ago when I brought you the story of Owain Weinert? The 10-year-old-boy who got to build an iOS game with PopCap games through the Make-a-Wish foundation?

I pledged then to buy the game, but for some reason that’s not something I have to do. Weinert’s game, Allied Star Police, is available for free in the App Store. It’s a universal app, optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Hopefully you’ll download it. It’d make a sick kid happy. For free.

Weinert, by the way, also got an iPad loaded with his game and other PopCap games, according to MacNN. Maybe it’s only free for a limited time or maybe they’re doing in-app sales. I’m not sure since the MacNN piece says “proceeds from Allied Star Police (free) will go to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska and Washington.”

Either way it’s out there. Allied Star Police. In the App Store now. Free.

I think you get the point.