Apple's week brings new hire, court rulings, iPod spy shots

Apple hired a new head of retail, had a few bouts in foreign courts, and potentially had the secret behind its next tiny iPod leaked out. More on those stories (and then some) in this week's Apple Talk Weekly.

You certainly can't call the past few days boring for Apple.

The company filled a vacancy left on its executive team, was handed a fairly major setback in a German court, and maybe had its next iPod's big trick unveiled in some alleged spy shots.

That was all on top of a petition from a third-party consumer-watchdog group demanding Apple improve working conditions at overseas factories where its products are made.

These events were joined by a juicy bit of news that came out during an interview with recording artist Neil Young, where Young casually mentioned that he had been working with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on a project to bring digital downloads of studio-master-quality music to the masses.

You can catch up on these stories, and others from the past week, in this edition of Apple Talk Weekly.

Apple Talk Weekly is a collection of some of the week's top Apple news and rumors. It appears every Saturday, and is curated by CNET's Apple reporter, Josh Lowensohn.


John Browett, Apple's new senior vice president of retail.
John Browett, Apple's new senior vice president of retail. Dixons

Apple names new retail chief
Apple this week announced plans to fill the spot of its retail chief, with John Browlett, the CEO of European technology retailer Dixons. Browlett, who starts in April, fills a gap left by Ron Johnson, who left Apple to become J.C. Penney's CEO in November of last year. The hire marks the second time in a row that Apple has gone with an outsider for the job, as Johnson originally hailed from Target.

Motorola deals Apple legal blows in Germany
Motorola scored two legal blows against Apple yesterday in Germany. The company managed to get Apple to temporarily remove older iPhones from its online stores in the country, based on a previous injunction. Apple got a temporary suspension on the ban itself, allowing it to continue selling the devices online. Separately, Motorola won a permanent injunction against Apple's iCloud service, in the form of its push e-mail feature.

German court rejects one Apple bid to ban a Galaxy tablet, but upholds another
Apple and Samsung traded victories in court this week. On Tuesday the Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf upheld an earlier injunction requested by Apple asking for a ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 tablets, saying they were in violation of the law. A day later, the Munich Regional Court rejected Apple's bid to keep Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N tablet from going on sale, a version of the 10.1 tablet that had been redesigned by Samsung following a separate infringement complaint by Apple.

Rocker says Apple was working on high-def music project
In an interview this week, recording artist Neil Young noted that he was working with Apple on a project to bring studio-master-quality digital recordings to the masses, but that the project was put on hold when Steve Jobs fell ill, and has since gone nowhere. The tale backs up a report from last year that claimed Apple and several of its competitors were in talks with record labels about selling high-fidelity audio recordings.

Apple supply workers assembling MacBook Pro displays in Shanghai.
Apple supply workers assembling MacBook Pro displays in Shanghai. Apple

Petition asks Apple to make "ethical" iPhone 5
Watchdog group SumOfUs put up a petition asking Apple to "make the iPhone 5 ethically," referring to the company's use of overseas manufacturing from companies such as Foxconn, which have recently come under fire for their working conditions and practices. The petition, which the group says garnered more than 35,000 signatures in its first 24 hours, asks Apple to "overhaul the way its suppliers treat their workers," ahead of the release of its next smartphone, which is expected later this year.

Apple using lottery system for iPhone 4S buyers in Hong Kong
In an effort to keep large lines at bay, and appease unhappy shoppers, Apple this week began testing out a new type of reservation system that lets people sign up in hopes of getting a chance to buy the iPhone 4S in its sole Hong Kong retail store. It's the first such lottery-style system to be used by Apple in selling one of its products.

Apple tweaks fine print behind iBooks Author software
Apple yesterday made changes to the controversial end user license agreement that accompanied its iBooks Author software. As part of a software update, the company modified the original language to state that only works created using the tool that come in the .ibooks format are required to be sold through Apple, not every work made on the software, as the language originally suggested.

Final Cut update brings back much-wanted feature
Apple this week pushed out a new update for its pro video editing software that brought back a feature pros and laypeople alike were clamoring for, and chiding the company for not including. That big feature is multicam, which lets editors view multiple camera angles from the software's interface, picking different shots in real-time. The free update also added a handful of other tweaks.

Mac OS X 10.7.3 arrives, results in some screwy errors
Apple released Mac OS X 10.7.3 this week, the third such update to Lion since the operating system's release last year. The software didn't add any new or noteworthy features, but it did promise to smash some bugs, add new languages, and support for raw images from 11 cameras. The software did have some issues from the get-go, however, with users reporting apps that crash followed by unusual graphical artifacts. For those affected, we have a how-to on re-applying the update, which offers a fix.


A spy shot of what might be the next iPod Nano.
A spy shot of what might be the next iPod Nano.

Is this the next iPod nano?
More photos of an iPod Nano with a built-in camera emerged this week, suggesting the next version of the iconic MP3 player will once again pack a camera lens. This week's leaks came from Japanese Apple-centric blog, which was the same outlet to publish a photo of just such a device (in what appeared to be an earlier incarnation) last April. Before jumping to a square, iPod Shuffle-like design with a touchscreen, the previous generation iPod Nano had a camera of its own, but it was limited to recording video. This version is expected to be able to snap stills as well.

Apple shopping around for TV components
Apple is on the prowl for a TV-size display, according to a new report. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster sent a note to investors earlier this week saying that a "major TV component supplier" let the firm know that it's been contacted by Apple about the capabilities of its technology. "We see this as continued evidence that Apple is exploring production of a television," Munster said. Apple's next big foray into the consumer-electronics space is expected to be TV sets, though so far details have been scarce.

iPad 3 event not in February. Try March instead
That rumor that we'd get to see a new iPad from Apple a month earlier than expected was debunked by its original source this week, who said we should expect to see an unveiling sometime in March instead. Perhaps more curious was the addition that Apple would still hold an event in February, and that it would be "strange."

Apple's iPhone 4S headed to China Telecom this month?
Apple's iPhone 4S headed to China Telecom this month? Apple

iPhone 4S headed to China Telecom?
China Telecom is the next Chinese carrier to get the iPhone. That's according to a statement released this week by Beijing Telecom, one of the company's subsidiaries. The company announced it would have a CDMA version of the iPhone 4S sometime later this month or in early March. Why's that a big deal if true? It would mark the second major Chinese carrier to offer the iPhone, expanding Apple's reach in the region, and pushing more sales.

Apple employees work on fake projects in trust game
Among the details in "Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired--and Secretive--Company Really Works," was the claim that Apple puts new employees to work on projects that may never see the light of day. These "dummy projects" are primarily to see if these individuals can handle the company's secrecy, and be trusted with sensitive information, the book says.