Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Surprise: Last night, Apple quietly launched its new Retina iPad Mini through its online store, MacRumors notes. The new tablet was announced at a special media event last month along with the iPad Air, which hit store shelves on Nov. 1. Apple was uncharacteristically coy about the Retina iPad Mini’s official launch date, saying only that it would become available later this month. Supplies of the new tablet are said to be extremely constrained due to manufacturing problems with the device’s 7.9-inch Retina screens. In a statement confirming the launch of the Retina iPad Mini, Apple said that the new tablet will initially only be “available to order through the Apple Online Store to ship or through Personal Pickup at Apple’s retail stores.” It will also be sold through AT&T (T), Sprint (S), T-Mobile (TMUS), Verizon Wireless (VZ) and other authorized retailers. Apple noted that consumer demand for the iPad Air — for which it has not yet released sales data — has been “incredible.” The 16GB WiFi-only Retina iPad Mini is priced at $399, compared to the $329 price of the entry-model for the original iPad Mini when it launched last year.
Land of the Rising Apple: Sales of Apple devices are surging in Japan, AppleInsider notes. Apple now holds 37% of the Japanese smartphone market and 50% of the country’s tablet sales. With sales up 30% over last year, Japan has become Apple’s fastest growing market. Apple is so popular among Japanese consumers that several domestic manufacturers have exited the smartphone business altogether. Apple’s margins in Japan are 15% higher than any other country.
Damages: Apple and Samsung are about to meet again in a California court, the New York Times notes. This week, a new trial will determine how much the South Korean electronics giant has to pay the iPad-maker for infringing on its patents. Samsung lost a patent infringement lawsuit in August 2012, with a jury awarding Apple $1 billion in damages. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh later vacated $450 million of that judgement, but ordered a new trial to assess whether Samsung will have to pay any additional damages. While the patent violations involved in the original suit cover mostly older devices, the two tech giants continue to bicker over the infringements in legal battles in courts across the world. Jurors in the new trial will have to decide how the damages should be calculated and whether Samsung has to pay profits lost by Apple to due to the patent infringements.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.