Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Already?: Asian manufacturers are encountering difficulties while mass producing smartwatch components for Apple (AAPL) and Qualcomm (QCOM), DigiTimes notes. Apple has not officially announced plans for a smartwatch, but rumors have swirled for more than a year that the iPhone-maker is planning to launch a smartwatch, popularly dubbed the iWatch. Apple has reportedly been producing prototypes with different watch sizes geared toward men and women. Sources tell DigiTimes that suppliers are experiencing difficulties producing the metal injection molded (MIM) chassis for the Apple and Qualcomm smartwatches. Those problems have resulted in yield rates of less than 50% for the chassis. Reports of Apple’s presumed entry into the smart watch market prompted mobile device rival Samsung to unveil its own smartwatch — the Galaxy Gear — in October. Apple has experienced production issues with a number of recent products, including the Retina iPad Mini, iPhone 5s and updated iMac desktop computers. DigiTimes has a mixed record of reliability when it comes rumors about upcoming Apple products.
Underground: Apple may have spawned yet another burgeoning business — hacking its devices, the Washington Post notes. “Jailbreaking” Apple devices — finding ways to evade the restrictions Apple places on its devices though its iOS operating system — has long been popular among hackers, who develop software tools that free iPhones and iPads from the company’s “walled garden.” Jailbroken iPhones can download apps outside of the App Store. Now hackers in China have been accused of taking payments from investors to jailbreak the most recent versions of iOS. Apple has just concluded a major deal with China Mobile (CHL), which is expected to boost the penetration of iPhones in China, opening a potentially lucrative app market for jailbroken iPhones. A jailbreaking tool for iOS 7 was posted online just before Christmas, but was pulled after it was found to contain a Chinese app store which sells pirated content. Online rumors have also swirled around allegations that a hacker was offered $350,000 to develop a separate iOS 7 jailbreaking app.
No Assist: Apple has officially denied that it cooperated with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the development of software that gives the spy agency access to iPhone data, TechCrunch notes. Last month, it was revealed that the NSA uses a backdoor program called DROPOUTJEEP to retrieve virtually any information stored on iPhones. In a statement, Apple claimed that it was unaware of the NSA program and that it “has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone.” The company added that it would thoroughly investigate any threat to iPhone security and would “take appropriate steps to protect” customers. Apple noted that it would work to “stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.” Recent media reports have detailed spying techniques used by the NSA to penetrate security on laptops and mobile devices from a wide array of manufacturers. The NSA has said its program had a 100% success rate in hacking Apple devices. It remains unclear exactly how the NSA places its spying software on iPhones.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.