Tag: apple

Italians about to charge Apple with tax evasion

iconItalian police are about to finger the collar of the fruity cargo cult Apple which owes the Italian government nearly a billion dollars in unpaid tax.

Italian prosecutors have wrapped up an investigation into allegations US tech giant Applefailed to pay corporate taxes to the tune of $964 million.

The investigation apparently now has enough evidence to ask a judge to drag Apple kicking and screaming into a court room.

The investigations, covering the period 2008-2013, involve two managers from the Italian subsidiary of Apple operations and one from its Irish-based subsidiary Apple Sales International, the sources said.

The probe claims that by having profits generated in Italy booked by the Irish subsidiary, Apple reduced its taxable income base and saved just under 900 million euros in the period, the sources said.

Apple said it was one of the largest tax payers in the world and paid every euro of tax it owed wherever it did business. Although that is a stretch of the truth. It might be obeying tax law by funnelling funds through Ireland or Luxemburg but it is certainly not paying every cent it should be paying.

It said the Italian tax authorities had audited Apple’s Italian operations in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and confirmed it was in full compliance with the OECD documentation and transparency requirements.

“These new allegations against our employees are completely without merit and we’re confident this process will reach the same conclusion,” it said.

Tax authorities have pledged to crack down on domestic and multinational companies in moves that could help shore up stretched public finances and sort out the country’s financial problems.

Disney hushed up Jobs’ illness

Three-Wise-MonkeyMickey Mouse outfit Disney hushed up Steve Jobs illness even though it was aware of it a month before it bought his Pixar studio.

Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger discovered that Jobs’ cancer had returned less than an hour before Disney announced it was buying Jobs’ Pixar studio in 2006.

However he kept the Apple co-founder’s condition a secret for three years.

Iger told the authors of yet another biography of Jobs, “Becoming Steve Jobs,” he thought about the implications of keeping such a secret at a time when regulators were calling for more disclosure and holding executives more accountable to their fiduciary duties.

The $7 billion deal to buy Pixar made Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder and put him on the entertainment company’s board. Iger decided that Disney was assessing the transaction on the value of Pixar, not Jobs, and his medical condition did not need to be disclosed, the biography said.

Jobs told Iger that the cancer had returned while they were on a private walk at Pixar’s Emeryville, California, campus about 30 minutes before the deal was to be announced. “Frankly, they tell me I’ve got a 50-50 chance of living five years,” Iger quoted Jobs as saying.

According to the book, Iger said he told Jobs: “You’re our largest shareholder, but I don’t think that makes this matter. You’re not material to this deal. We’re buying Pixar, we’re not buying you.”

It would have been interesting if his shareholders agreed.  Most people at the time thought Jobs’ involvement was a divine blessing on a company and had news of his death leaked out, the value of Pixar might have fallen.

Jobs had a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003 and underwent surgery the following year. The tumor returned and he had a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs died in October 2011.

Apparently the new book is supposed to be “more sympathetic” than the 2011 biography by Walter Isaacson, who dared to say that Jobs was not that nice at certain times and was a bit messy in his personal life.

Chromebooks upset the PC apple cart

chromebookThere’s more bad news for the PC market as it appears that Google Chromebooks are taking market share in the low end and the education markets.

ABI Research said Chromebooks, which rely heavily on the cloud, start up much faster than Windows PCsand are pretty affordable too, have “gained traction” in the North American market.

And it’s not just home users who are buying them – organisations are buying them too, with shipments close to five million last year.

Analyst Stephanie Van Vactor said that cloud services and the collapse of economies worldwide were the impetus for designers and developers to create cheap and cheerful devices, like the Chromebook.

“Chromebooks were the result, and the ‘anytime anywhere” access to content is a mobile-centric game changer,” she said.

The education market in particular has a yen for Chromebooks, mostly because of Google Apps for Education, she said. The business and the education sector together accounted for 62 percent of Chromebook shipments.

Another factor is the price. The average selling price for a Chromebook is $226 in the States, while it’s $420 for a tablet – presumably an Apple iPad.

“Google has taken to heart the popularity of mobile devices and developed a personal computing device that is a functional solution,” said Van Vactor. She said: “This style of computing works for the on the go lifestyle people are becoming accustomed to and will continue to impact the future of computing as the market shifts and changes.”

Intel, Google, TAG to make smart watch

Swiss Watches the BrandEver eager to join the fashion bandwagon, chip giant Intel has joined up with TAG Heuer and Google to create a smart watch which they will launch before the end of the year.

TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver told a press conference at a Swiss watch trade show that the deal is a “marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility”.

The watch will use the Android Wear platform and use Intel chips but it’s unclear quite how much it will cost when it’s released.

Intel suit Michael Bell, who is the general manager of Intel’s new devices group, said that making a luxury watch in collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings the vision of wearable technology that bit nearer.

The Google man, David Singleton, said that the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers. And Google. He said that Google can now imagine a better, beautiful and smarter watch.

Apple releases its range of smart watches next month, and much will depend on whether that is a flop or a success. Intel has never been particularly brilliant at creating reference designs that have long battery lives and its other ventures into consumer technology have all, without exception, been damp squibs.

TAG Heuer doesn’t make cheap watches, so you probably have to have a chunk of disposable income to impress – or alternatively depress, your friends.

 

Apple buys into white box servers

novità-apple-2013Cupertino based Apple Inc has decided to ditch HP and Dell to supply its servers and instead is looking to Taiwanese firms to supply its data centre needs.

That’s according to Taiwan wire Digitimes which said some of the local white box server manufacturers have already received orders from Apple for boxes.

One of the major manufacturers of servers is Quanta, which used to specialise almost wholly in making notebooks for big vendors but has diversified its business over the last two years.

It offers servers at a price that undercuts Dell and HP and will customise the machines for customers which already include giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Apple said recently it will open data centres in Ireland and in Denmark and it’s also spending billions on building up data centres in the USA.

The company is also cuddling up to IBM and wants to release tablet machines that will appeal to enterprises rather than the home users it has depended on in the past.

Apple gatekeeper security broken

dottedborderemmelinagnome9thmarch2014 011FORMER NSA and NASA staffer Patrick Wardle, who heads up research at security start-up Synack, he has found a way to bypass protections in Apple Macs without getting caught.

Download files, known as .dmg files, for products including Kaspersky, Symantec, Avast, Avira, Intego, BitDefender, Trend Micro, ESET and F-Secure are all sent over unencrypted HTTP lines, rather than the more secure HTTPS. For some reason they trust Apple’s Gatekeeper security technology to recognise the digital signatures they sign in.

Anyone who intercepts a download to corrupt it won’t get away with it, as the Gatekeeper will see that the vendors’ original signature has been altered and ignore it.

But Wardle noticed that the Apple Gatekeeper software doesn’t check all components of Mac OS X download files. This makes it possible to sneak a malicious version of what’s known as a ‘dylib’ (dynamic libraries) file into legitimate downloads done over HTTP to infect Macs and start stealing data.

Dylibs are designed to be re-used by different applications; they might be used for actions such as compressing a file or using graphics capabilities of the operating system.
If an attacker can “hijack” the dylib processes used by Mac apps, however, they can carry out nasty attacks and send user data to their own servers, the researcher explained.

It is not that easy to pull off. The attacker would have to get on the same network as a target, either by breaching it or simply logging on to the same public Wi-Fi.

They would also have to inject a legitimate yet vulnerable application into the download and shuffle around the content of the .dmg so that the injected legitimate software is shown to the user.

At the upcoming CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, he will be explaining 101 things you can do with an evil dylibs ajd discover which Coldplay and U2 single the Mac owners is listening to.

Wardle reverse engineered the iCloud protocol and set up a command and control server on a secondary malicious iCloud account, meaning the connection he used to “steal” from his own PC would also be trusted.

You would think that Jobs’ Mob would be worried about it all, but apparently Wardle said they did not really care.

He said that they didn’t seem to understand the full ramifications of it. It would mean that Apple would have to re-architect OS X and expand Gatekeeper’s capabilities to fully address the issues raised by his new class of attack.

Wardle was miffed that the security companies were placing users at risk with unprotected downloads of their software installers and failing to protect against more advanced attacks like his own.

 

Apple wants to get into the TV business

tvFruity cargo cult Apple is convinced it can make a bob or two out of the television market, despite failing dismally in the past.

Boldly going where Intel and Microsoft have failed, Apple has been hinting that it would get into the telly business for a while now. However the Wall Street Journal thinks it has found evidence that the iPhone maker is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks in the autumn.

Apple’s service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox, and be available across all devices powered by Apple’s iOS operating system, including iPhones, iPads and Apple TV set-top boxes, the newspaper said.

Apple has been talking to Walt Disney, CBS, and Twenty-First Century Fox, and other media companies to offer a “skinny” bundle with well-known channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package, the Journal said.

Apple will charge $30 to $40 a month, plans to announce the service in June and launch it in September.

Apple is refusing to comment on the news until it has been hyped a little more and it can stage one of its Nuremburg rallies to promote the idea.

Several media companies are considering joining streaming-only services, or launching their own like HBO and CBS, to attract young people who do not subscribe to traditional pay TV packages. But programmers also fear the packages could become so popular that they undercut current, more profitable deals with cable companies.

Sony is rolling out competing services and it already has the inside measurement of the entertainment business.

Big Brother calls Apple Big Brother

Ad_apple_1984_2US spooks, who have been dubbed “Big Brother” for their worldwide surveillance programme think that the title belongs to Apple.

Following up its exposé about the NSA’s ability to hack into individual smartphones and decrypt their contents, Der Spiegel published a new story about NSA spying on smartphones which features the spook’s Powerpoint presentation.

One slide calls iPhone users “zombies” who pay for the services that enable the NSA to track physical locations.

Another slide calls deceased Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs “Big Brother”. This because Apple is already collecting a shedload of geolocation data which the NSA can hack.

The first slide in the series alludes to George Orwell’s 1984, which is ironic because Apple became famous with its 1984 advert where it promised to set users free.

Of course the Tame Apple Press is furious  claimed it showed a “profound disrespect” for “we” users. Given that “we” are not stupid enough to buy an iPhone “we” would say that the NSA is showing a profound disrespect for those who pay for the pleasure of being spied on. It is disrespect that people outside the Apple reality distortion field all share.

 

No one wants Apple Watch – not even Reuters

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 18.15.41Apple’s favourite news agency, Reuters, which normally churns out free adverts for Jobs’s Mob pretending it is news, has had to admit that no one is really interested in the iWatch.

The normally Apple friendly reporters thought that they were onto a winner when they commissioned a poll which was expected to say that everyone in the US wanted to buy one of Apple’s shiny new toys.  After all, wouldn’t everyone agree that Apple had created a game changer?

The problem was that  when he numbers came in, the report said the opposite and that Americans were spurning the Apple Watch as if it were a rabid dog.

Apparently more than 69 percent of Americans they are not interested in buying the gadget and would rather spend their cash on something more useful.

Reuters did its best to put some spin on the news, claiming that the survey also showed limited awareness of the watch.

The poll was taken after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook rolled out the product on Monday, and only about half of respondents said they had heard news of the timepiece in the last few days.

However given that the watch has had two years free marketing bordering on hysteria, one has to question which planet those surveyed had been on. That suggestion also does not make much sense when you consider that most of those asked, thought the watch was a passing fad.

Ipsos surveyed 1,245 Americans online between March 9 and March 13. The data was weighted to reflect the U.S. population and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
One-quarter of respondents said they were interested in purchasing the Apple Watch, but 69 percent said they had no desire, and six percent said they were unsure.

Initial demand for the watch is expected to come primarily from existing iPhone users, but its wider success is seen depending on whether developers create enticing apps tailored to the device, so-called killer apps.

Some 46 percent of respondents said that the Apple Watch had a “cool factor.” But only 29 percent said they were more interested in purchasing an Apple Watch than another brand of smartwatch.

Analysts expect that Apple will sell between 10 million and 32 million watches in 2015, which would probably account for those Apple fans who buy anything the company produces. Although we doubt it will even do that well. The watch is two years behind others on the market, and does much less than expected.

Light sensor market set to boom

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picMEMS and sensors will be integral to the internet of things (IoT).

And today a report from analyst firm IHS said that the main beneficiaries of the boost in light sensors will be Samsung, Apple and Chinese original equipment manufacturing.

By 2016, revenues fro this sector will amount to $767 million, and Samsung is the main driver of the growth. Last year Samsung accounted for 43 percent of light sensor spending in smartphones.

Apple accounts for 19 percent of the market in 2014, mostly because it currently uses customised and high performance parts.

But Chinese OEMs spending in 2014 represented 23 percent of the market, mostly on low cost components as companies vied to produce inexpensive smartphones which actually have started competing with Samsung on the smartphone front.

As far as suppliers of the sensors go, AMS shipped 744 million units in 2014 and was the top vendor with design wins from both Apple and from Samsung.

Maxim shipped 132 million light sensors last year – most of them components in Samsung flagship products

But there are some contenders on the block, including Sitronix, Elan and Everlight, said IHS.

Kids say Apple watch uncool

uncool-yellowbutton_web-600While the Tame Apple Press and older people think that Apple’s new watch is a good idea, the kids of today think it is as uncool as your dad dancing at the school disco.

Marketing research company Fizziology analyzed nearly a million tweets around Apple’s big iWatch announcement, and it turns out that millennials aren’t as excited about the Apple Watch as many people may have thought.

According to the research, those over 35 years old were twice as likely to discuss the Watch than those under 35. In addition, the research showed that one in six tweets about the Apple Watch were negative.

This seems to indicate that Apple, rather than attracting the hipsters, is getting their parents with its iWatch. This will be the kiss of death for Apple’s normal target market. In fact analysts believe that sales of the iPhone stalled when kids realised they were popular with their parents.

The Tame Apple press attempted to reassure their readers that interest in the Apple Watch will pick up.

“Just because people aren’t talking positively about the new product doesn’t mean it won’t sell well: The iPad received extremely negative response after the announcement, and look at their sales now,”” sniffed Neowin. Given that sales of the tablet are falling fast, we are not sure what Neowin’s point was here.

Swatch fleshes out smart watch plans

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 16.29.23Giant watch vendor Swatch isn’t going to directly take on Apple in the smart watch market.

Instead it has what just might be a far more cunning plan.

According to CEO Nick Hayek, Swatch is going to start selling watches using inexpensive near field communication (NFC) chips, letting you make payments by just waving your wrist at the receiver.

Reuters said that Hayek’s view on Apple is that it is creating a new market for watches which it will be able to leverage. It won’t venture into what he described as having a mini mobile phone on your wrist.

Swatch hopes that people will buy Apple watches because lots of people don’t wear watches and if Apple succeeds in selling as many as it hopes, that will put it and other watch vendors in a stronger position.

Hayek is quoted as saying that Swatch is not in the business of upgrading software every year.

In any case, Swatch is going to introduce sort watches which will connect to Android phones and perform many of the functions of the Apple iWatch. You won’t have to pay hundreds or even thousands of US dollars for this functionality.

Chinese make iWatch for $40

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 18.15.41China is already making cloned copies of Apple’s Watch for just $40 which look the same and appear to do the same things.

Knockoff versions of the Apple Watch can be found at Huaqiangbei electronics market in the southern city of Shenzhen, and others are being sold nationwide via popular e-commerce websites.

The fakes look exactly like an iWatch but have names like “Ai Watch” and “D-Watch,” they cost between 250 yuan and 500 yuan ($40 to $80). Apples effort will set you back $300-$15,000.

They run Android and have been adjusted to look like an Apple interface. Some use Apple-like icons on the home screen.

The copycats say that the hardware is a doddle, but the software is the tricky bit.

Apparently the sellers will get better over time and soon it will be impossible to tell the two products apart. But the fact that they can make such clones based on leaks, and pictures released on Apple, makes you wonder why it took Jobs’ Mob two years to come up with the same product for nearly ten times the price.

Their efforts were made easier when Apple dropped most of the expected functionality while keeping the price the same. Still you get what you pay for… oh.

 

 

Apple faces watch attack

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 18.15.41If Apple thinks it will have the smart watch market to itself, it had better think again. Traditional vendors of watches are on the march.

According to Reuters, the Swiss watch industry is preparing itself to parachute into the smart watch sector, following Apple’s announcement of a range of glitzy wrist watches earlier this week.

The report said that a number of big players in the watch business are quietly preparing to introduce smart watches – including Swatch, Guess, Richmond and LVMH. Richemonte owns the Montblanc brand.

Apparently, the companies believe that Apple may ignite the taste of youngsters for watches and they hope to make sales off the back of the rush of publicity the Apple iWatch has generated.

Swatch publicly confirmed in January that it was ready for the smart watch and its device won’t be tied just to the Apple iPhone but will support the Android operating system too.

And, perhaps crucially, it will have much longer battery life than Apple’s offering.

Guess, too, has far advanced plans for a smart watch.

Perhaps more crucially, the traditional timepiece manufacturers have long established routes to market and unparalleled distribution know how.

Apple’s iWatch disappoints

tim-cook-glareOne thing that is weird about the Tame Apple Press is that if Apple makes a big cock up it really has nothing to say.

If Apple’s iWatch was even a little bit interesting, the press would have been over the top in its enthusiasm. There would have been a ton of coverage and lots of snaps of  the grimly smiling Tim Cook looking like an evil magician on his way to a baby boiling conference.

Sure there was the usual staged Nuremberg rally, where Apple staffers, fanboys and the Tame Apple Press cheered the arrival of the iPhone with the usual standing ovulation. But they would have done that anyway.

What was interesting was how muted the rest of the press coverage was. Warning signs tipped up when the Italian television news, which only reports bollocks like this,  gave the iWatch a token 30 seconds. Most of that 30 seconds was a free advert for the iPhone and hardly mentioned the watch at all. By contrast the iPhone 6 got 15 minutes when it launched and Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi smuggly umming and erring his way through a 20 minute speech was covered verbatim.

A search through the wires this morning showed the usual suspects giving an uncharacteristically muted coverage. The News Republic did not even mention the watch, and instead talked about Cook’s tweet about not sleeping before the launch.

So why the disappointed response? Apple’s iWatch has arrived nearly two years behind its rivals and it basically has nothing to offer for its huge price tag $350 price tag.

Apple to enter this limited market had to really wow people with new functionality and it simply didn’t. Jobs’ Mob’s first real “innovation” since the death of Steve was an overpriced copy of what was already on the market.

What could have improved the watch’s chances was a killer app involving health care readings, but beyond a basic heart rate meter Apple could not get it to go.

Another thing which could have made it more interesting was it being independent from its iPhone.
However the watch needs the phone to function, meaning that if you are Christy Turlington Burns and you take the thing on your run you have to lug your heavy iphone with you. If you are carrying the phablet version of the phone that is really heavy. It might make you a better runner to carry all that weight, but since most iPhone users are carrying a few extra pounds anyway it is probably not a good idea.

So if you want the watch for sport, the iWatch does some of what you want, less efficiently, for three times the price of a sports product.

If you want the watch to complement your iPhone then it fails there too. Why do you need something on your wrist that your iPhone already has in your pocket?

All this does not mean the iWatch will fail. In fact it is a screaming indictment of modern civilisation that the iWatch will probably sell in reasonable numbers. Apple might be able to save the product in version two by getting the health functionality going. But they are empty sales. They are people buying something they don’t need, because it has an Apple logo. You can only get away with that so often.

But this is not the sort of product that even the Tame Apple Press wants to peddle. Instead they are wandering away whistling, not daring to point out this Emperor has no clothes on in case Apple blacklists them.

But smarter minds, who are worried that Apple has run out of ideas, are selling their shares. A mate of mine who has had them since the iPhone, dumped the lot when he heard that Apple had removed a ton of health functionality from the product. He reasons that ultimately Apple will fail because it has become too big and run out of ideas. The iWatch proves it.