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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:41 am 
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Apple stands to lose another patent crucial to its battle with Samsung

Patent office decision blocks Apple's claims, while judge mulls damages.


by Joe Mullin - Arstechnica.com



While Apple had a stunning $1.05 billion trial victory against Samsung this summer, things generally haven't been going its way since the August verdict. On Monday, US District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Apple's case wasn't strong enough to win an injunction.

With Koh due to publish a post-trial order about damages any day now, a key Apple patent is being threatened at the US Trademark and Patent Office. US Patent No. 7,844,915, the patent covering Apple's "pinch to zoom" smartphone navigation feature, may be invalidated. In a patent reexam, examiners discovered multiple pieces of prior art that they found should reject Apple's claims.

It's no surprise that Samsung immediately filed court papers this afternoon to notify Koh (and the public) of the early results.

This isn't a final decision by the USPTO. Apple will get to respond before any patents are truly killed off, and reexams are generally a long, dragged-out process. However, it is notable that all three of the utility patents Apple used to win its case are now having their validity seriously questioned. In addition to the questions raised today about the '915 patent, the patent office ruled in October that the '381 patent ("rubber banding" or "bounce back" feature) should never have issued. At a key post-trial hearing two weeks ago, Koh herself said that the '163 ("tap to zoom") patent was looking like it might be invalid.

It's really up to Koh how she takes these early patent office rulings into account, if at all. But at the December 6 hearing, she was already asking more questions about reasons to lower damages (what Samsung wants) than about elements that might increase damages (which Apple wants). Overall, this combination of factors doesn't bode well for Apple.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:36 am 
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From earlier this week when Apple were found to be infringing :

Quote:
"A federal jury in Delaware has found Apple's iPhone infringes on three patents held by MobileMedia, a patent-holding company formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, InfoWorld reports. The jury found that the iPhone directly infringed U.S. patent 6,070,068, which was issued to Sony and covers a method for controlling the connecting state of a call, U.S. patent 6,253,075, which covers call rejection, and U.S. patent 6,427,078, which covers a data processing device. MobileMedia has garnered the unflattering descriptor "patent troll" from some observers. The company, which was formed in 2010, holds some 300 patents in all."


Apple's 'defence' just said these were obvious! Not the attitude they take to 'their' important tech being borrowed, like errr... rounded corners. :rolleyes:

Seems the new post-Jobs Apple are content to copy, imitate and infringe to their hearts desire then when they get caught and taken to court, they counter-sue using obviousness as an excuse, naturally, as patents can't be obvious or - in theory - they cannot be patented (though often are, and some of Apple's especially ), and then bully the small guy, or settle cheaply with the bigger rivals or where it's in their own interests.

The stuff they've just helped themselves to is unreal, as besides nicking the Apple company name from Apple music (which involved £80,000 settlement plus Apple promising not to get into the music business... a major fail which cost them another $26m settlement), the iPad name from China (a $60m settlement) also devices by that name built by LG back in 2001, and Fujitsu had a touchscreen device by that name but Mag-tek had the name first over a decade before Apple used it; and the iPhone and iOS names that belonged to Cisco which Apple called "silly" in court and argued that they should be able to use the iPhone name because Cisco's phone was an IP phone and their phone wasn't! There was the Swiss rail clock face which recently cost them $21m to licence after the railway complained, then there was the recent HTC settlement, and not forgetting Nokia (again) who Apple are still paying with continuing 8$ per iPhone royalties after a huge one-off €800m payment for getting busted for using three of their patents without permission... etc. etc. They even steal off apps in the app store ffs, seems nothing is safe at all.

Where's their innovation and 'new inventions' now?

Which really only leaves Motorola left to take to court to try and preserve their currently falling income and sales, but they'd be taking on the might of Google so that'd by no means be a certain victory for them... especially as there's so much interest in abuse of the patent system and their previous patents are falling like ducks at a duck shoot.

Interesting days indeed. :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:14 am 
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S'funny how Apple are OK with using other people's stuff but aren't exactly fond of paying for other people's stuff. About as two faced as you can get in my book.




Stolen Ideas: Apple Didn't Build That [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Charlie White - BestMastersPrograms.org


Apple is the largest and most successful technology company in the world's history, but how did it arrive at that lofty perch?

Did it create all the ideas folded into its shiny gadgets, or did it beg, borrow and steal them?

Of course, the answer is, all of the above. That's the point of this infographic from BestMastersPrograms.org, using a variety of sources to arrive at this extensive collection of stats, illustrations and information about Apple and its explosively popular product line.

Steve Jobs liked to brag about how Apple has "always been shameless about stealing great ideas", but the Cupertino company didn't just lift all of its product ideas, did it? No. After you've traced every Apple product back to its humble origins, consider the possibility that Apple's obsessive attention to detail wasn't copied from many other companies.

For instance, who was Apple copying when it created its elegant, easy-to-open packaging? Which company was first to create a truly smooth-scrolling touchscreen? And taken to its extreme, we're not aware of any tech manufacturer that ever created a video extolling the virtues of its product's "chamfered edges."


What do you think? Let us know if you think the examples in the infographic are off-base or right on the money. Of course, this infographic leaves out all of Apple's original creations. Which products or characteristics do you think Apple can claim sole responsibility for?


Image




A good article there, and interesting to show where some innovations credited to Apple actually do originate.

Other technologies which are often wrongly attributed to Apple include USB which was in fact created by Compaq, Intel, Microsoft and NEC (though Apple helped popularise it as an early adopter), Thunderbolt which was 100% Intel technology,

FireWire - also known as IEEE 1394 to non-Apple users - was the closest that Apple did get to inventing anything, and they led the IEEE P1394 Working Group but the group also consisted of engineers from Texas Instruments, Sony, Digital Equipment Corporation, IBM, and INMOS/SGS Thomson so that's not all their own work either. Slide to unlock made it's debut on Windows CE two years before, the new notification bar that was on Android three years before, their prized Siri was a copy of Xiaoi Bot which was available on Android in 2010.

But surely they invented the simplified start screen? Nope! Sony Ericsson M610i, P700 and P1i a year before the iPhone.

And it's (almost) unbelievable the cheek that Apple had in suing Microsoft for so many years over stealing the WIMP GUI and mouse when they both stole the idea from Xerox PARC in the first place!

Oh how they must miss Steve. Wozniak.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:42 am 
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iOS 6.x hack allows personal data export, free calls

Find phone, press buttons in weird sequence, invade privacy, call anyone


By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor • The Register


Hackers can access iPhones running iOS 6.x without passcodes, and will then be able to access and export the address book, send emails and make phone calls.

Jailbreak Nation has discovered the method for doing so and The Reg can confirm the method works after a sequence of swipes and key presses. It worked for us on an iPhone 5 running iOS 6.02, not just iOS 6.1 as Jailbreak Nation suggests.

Once the phone has been hacked in the method described in the video below, we were able to access an iPhone 5's address book, view all details of the contacts listed therein and make calls to them. The Contacts app offers the chance to “Message” contacts by SMS or email and a chance to “Share Contact”, which results in a contact's details being added to an outgoing email as a .VCF file.

This method could therefore be used to acquire a copy of all contacts stored on an iPhone, and to run up a colossal phone bill on the device.

In our test the iPhone's Home button became inert after the hacking procedure was applied, making it impossible to access other apps, so Apple will be spared the blushes that would have come with hackers finding stray iPhones and resetting progress in Angry Birds.

With iOS 6.1 proving to be a buggy mess, news of this latest hole won't make for a happy Friday down Cupertino way. Or weekend, if Mr Cook of Cupertino decides a patch has to be delivered ASAP.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:45 am 
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The official iPhone actually runs Android - in Brazil

Apple left hurting by painful Brazilian procedure


By Anna Leach, The Register



Apple has lost the rights to the trademark "iPhone" in Brazil to a local manufacturer which makes an Android phone called the iPhone NEO. Yesterday the Brazilian Trademark and Patents Office rejected Apple's claims to the trademark "iPhone" in the category of telecoms and the category of electronic devices.

"Registration rejected due to legal conventions" reads the notice on Apple's trademark application number 829213910, which requests use of "iPhone" in class 38 for Telecommunications and was filed in November 2007.

Brazilian electronics maker Gradiente applied for the trademark "iPhone" in 2000, reports the Wall Street Journal, and was granted the rights to the trademark in 2008. However to claim the mark the company must make commercial use of it within a five year window. It took Gradiente till December 2012 to release the IPHONE Neo One, an Android handset, confirming their claim and triggering the rejection of Apple's application.
Screengrab Brazil's patent and trademark office, Apple trademark

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A screengrab of the rejected Apple Trademark Application for iPhone in Class 38

Apple is contesting the decision on the basis that Gradiente failed to make use of its trademark within the five year window, states the Journal.

Apple was granted the Brazilian trademark application for "iPhone" in four other categories including: Class 39, computer services; Class 41, the provision of entertainment services; Class 35 retail stores and in Class 42, computers.

Apple was refused the rights to "iPhone" in Class 38 telecoms (application number 829213910) and in Class 9 for electronic and scientific devices (application number 829272747).

Apple is in a similar tussle in Mexico where it recently lost a trademark infringement lawsuit to a Telco with a trademark on iFone.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:33 am 
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Apple and world HACKED by Facebook plunderers

Use a Mac? Have Java? You might have been pwned


By Jack Clark • Register



Apple, Facebook and "hundreds of other companies" have had their Mac computers hacked in a sophisticated campaign mounted by an unknown adversary.

Attackers were able to infect Apple, along with other businesses around the world with Mac malware delivered via a Java zero-day vulnerability, Reuters reported on Tuesday, after receiving information from a source at Apple.

The hack used the same Java zero-day and associated Mac malware as the one which Facebook disclosed last week, the Apple source indicated.

Hundreds of companies, including defense contractors, have been infected with the same malicious software, the source said.

"This is the first really big attack on Macs," Reuters's source said, "Apple has more on its hands than the attack on itself."

Apple plans to release a software tool to detect and remove the Java-related malware, the company said in a statement to AllThingsD. Java has not shipped with Macs since the release of OS X Lion.

The Mac malware could have been used to deliver a backdoor onto the computers via the installation of an SSH Daemon, allowing hackers to remotely control parts of the affected system, Finnish virus experts F-Secure indicated in a blog post on Monday.

At the time, they classed the Facebook hack as a "watering hole" attack, which sought to target Facebook users by infecting the company behind the social network.

With the revelations from Apple, it appears the attack could have been part of a widespread hacking campaign against various companies including Facebook and Twitter as well.

At the time of writing Google had not responded to queries about whether it had also been targeted, and Microsoft declined to comment.

The news comes alongside the release of a report on Tuesday that linked the Chinese People's Liberation Army to hackers that have been mounting a "Cold War" style campaign against Western companies.

The report implicated the PLA in a variety of major hacking campaigns that have occurred over the past few years, including 2011's RSA hack that compromised SecurID encryption tokens.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:54 am 
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New Mac malware opens secure reverse shell

New malware for OS X is making the rounds in security circles, called "Pintsized," but has not yet been determined to be much of a threat.


by Topher Kessler - cnet.com


A new backdoor Trojan for OS X is making the rounds, attempting to set up a secure connection for a remote hacker to connect through and grab private information.

The malware, dubbed "Pintsized" by Intego, is suspected of using a modified implementation of OpenSSH to set up a reverse shell that creates a secure connection to a remote server.

The use of an encrypted connection makes it more difficult to detect and trace, especially since it uses the common SSH protocol. In addition, the malware attempts to hide itself by disguising its files to look like components of the OS X printing system, specifically the following:

com.apple.cocoa.plist
cupsd (Mach-O binary)
com.apple.cupsd.plist
com.apple.cups.plist
com.apple.env.plist

Intego does not state where these files are placed in the OS, but as with prior malware in OS X this requires an option to automatically launch the malware whenever the system is started or when a user logs in, which in OS X is the various launch agent directories in the system. Launch agents use a property list (plist) structure, and can be used to target a binary executable (such as the mentioned "cupsd" one above) to keep it always running on the system.

Therefore, to check for this malware, open the following directories in the system to check for the presence of any of the above files:

/System/Library/LaunchDaemons
/System/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons
/Library/LaunchAgents
~/Library/LaunchAgents

NOTE: You can highlight each folder path above individually, right-click the selection, and choose "Open" from the Services contextual submenu to open it in the Finder.

Because malware developers use these folders as a means of running their malware in OS X, one easy way to detect any misuse of them is to set up an alert that will notify you whenever files are added to them. I outlined how to do this with tools and services that are included in OS X, and the Luxembourg CIRCL subsequently developed a standalone installer that sets up a similar monitoring routine.

In addition to monitoring these folders, you can also install a reverse firewall like Little Snitch, which will notify you whenever a program attempts to make a connection to a remote server.

Currently it is unknown how the malware initiates its attack, whether it uses a previously documented vulnerability or one that is yet to be disclosed; however, the malware is not known to be widespread and is primarily being discussed on various security mailing lists. Nevertheless, by checking for the presence of the above files in the system's Launch Agent and Launch Daemon folders you should be able to determine if your system is free of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:00 am 
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Apple share-price-off-a-cliff: Told you that would happen

Don't tell Oracle, but you can be too rich and too thin


By Dominic Connor • The Register



I was allowed to write this piece because in November I wrote to our glorious editor after a London Quant's Group seminar to say that the price of Apple shares would tank sooner rather than later.

As you all know, that’s just what happened - from just shy of $800 to the mid $400s. The reason I don’t make all that much money out of that is the economics were inevitable but the timing was viciously hard to call.

The Free Cash Problem

It tells you something about economists that this is what it’s called.

Both history and game theory tell us that cash piles will inevitably be squandered, often doing more harm than good. But if the Powerpoints that senior people at your firm confuse with actually managing are saying “We can do more with less”, you’ll be rightly sceptical of the idea that more money will make you less efficient.

Imagine for a second that Apple is the best tech firm on the planet. Certainly that is what some people tell me. Why would you think that is good for the share price ?

It’s no secret that fondleslabs are selling well and by the time you read this the wrist Jobs may be on offer. Shares only outperform the market if there’s good news, not olds. The share price reflects the expectations of future earnings and so being the best is not good enough when you come to deal with the dangers of success.

Money is a harsh Mistress

As an IT pro you have to make hard decisions like getting a new UPS that is actually uninterruptible this time, or an extra server to cope with traffic. I don’t know what’s better for you and I doubt you do either, at least not with 100 per cent accuracy, but you will try to make the best call and unless you work for Capita I have confidence that you will usually be right.

You can put all your options into an ordered list with paying the power bill at the top and buying me beer at the bottom. Once you get past the things you must do else the business stops, you get into a mix of what you need to do and what you’d like to do.

We’re alone here, so you can be honest with me. That huge Apple monitor you have doesn’t really up your productivity does it? This is captured in the most openly cynical academic subject, “Agency Theory”, AKA the difference between what you pay people to do and what they actually do in response to their incentives.

So as you move down the ordered list you inevitably get less bang for your buck as necessary spending evolves into good spending into nice to haves and ultimately “we’ve got to spend X by the end of the year else our budget will be cut next year.”

You could act for the good of the firm by saying “we don’t need more cash”. But in 30 years of IT I have never seen this happen. Have you?

The inevitable fact is that giving you more and more money compels you to make worse decisions and this is the important bit. No matter how good you are at deciding, more money makes your decisions dumber.

Freed of the discipline of paying urgent bills, you don’t just pocket the spare cash (usually), but it’s easier in your own mind to justify things that are sort-of useful like those really cool biometric eye scanners for the comms room or an off-site team meeting in a nice hotel with spa and reassuringly expensive bar.

This effect scales all the way to the event horizon. Exactly why does Apple or Oracle need a high status HQ building? Yes you get better staff if the working conditions are nice, but ultimately you look out of your office window, so the beauteous HQ is for the benefit of others.

Of course Apple has so much cash that a few hundred megabucks on offices won’t come close to breaking them, but a few hundred meg here, a few there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Managing the Cash Pile

You probably know that the Macintosh was named after the kind of Apple, not the coat, so it follows that the hedge fund that handles a large chunk of Apple's cash is called Braeburn. Nor should it really surprise you that its performance relative to the market is rather less than stellar. As any Quant will tell you, the only consistent performance of fund managers is under-performance, a fact borne out by a lot of research as well as personal experience.

Until it peaked, the share price of Apple meant that almost any other investment would have a lower return so cash actually acts as a drag. So unless you believe that Apple has an unlimited number of high return investments the return as a percentage of the assets must go down as the cash pile increases.

Of course you can get more investment returns by taking on more risk. For instance at the start of the year those nice safe banks in Cyprus were offering good returns, however just like in Iceland that did not turn out well and that's before we enter the choppy waters of Madoff-scale scams which conned high end professionals as well as ordinary decent folk.


Oh, it's for R&D, is it?

Apple says it needs money for the R&D because it is a hi tech firm. Certainly it spends some money that way, but we have to ask what they are planning with that 140 billion or so?

NASA reckons that going back to the Moon is only about 50 Gigabucks and the Large Hadron Collider is a pathetic 4 billion. Meanwhile the market capitalisation of ARM - who are behind the chips that power the iPhone, iPad and most of the other tablets and phones in the world - is about $18.2 billion, so they could buy them.

What about mergers?

For the same pay, would you rather be the CEO of a $1bn niche company or a $3bn conglomerate ?

That’s not even a hard question.

Also of course the bigger your firm, the bigger your pay so both your ego and your wallet swell through mergers. Larry Ellison is a very smart manager and so committed to the interests of his shareholders that I'm sure that one day, maybe even in our lifetimes, the Sun acquisition may pay off.

Oracle had loads of money, it still is hardly poor, but if it were led by a someone of less stature than Mr Ellison a person more cynical than me would think that the merger was driven solely by a desire to overtake Carlos Slim as the richest man in the world. It's also obviously only a coincidence that Oracle sponsors big yachts which are an interest of Mr Ellison's.

The point of a merger is that you pay more money for it than the people who currently own and run it think it's worth, because otherwise why would they sell it?

Although Apple could buy ARM, that might well damage this stupidly successful British chipmonger. ARM has good relationships with all the smartphone makers because it is a supplier not a competitor. Would you want to share your product plans with Apple?

Also ARM may screw up one day and produce a third-rate chipset. If they're an external supplier you just pitch up to Intel or nVidia, but if they're in the family you end up having to use their stuff whether it is good or not.

The current newsworthy failed takeover is Autonomy. There are all sorts of accusations and spin, but some objective facts are clear. HP put a big pile of cash in the hands of Autonomy shareholders at a price that many commentators at the time said was too high. I don't know what allegedly creative accounting did or did not occur, but if I paid hundreds of millions to the board of HP, I'd expect them to be very hard to swindle. (And don't forget Meg Whitman was on the board that OK'd it.) Maybe they just made a bad judgment. Either, both, shareholders don't care. The money is gone, but it supports the point about too much cash lowering your business IQ.

Mergers are like evolution, good for the species as a whole but bad news for the individuals being evolved out.

Status

Why do some firms have such glorious buildings like Apple? Infinite Loop no less. As I said earlier, having a nice office helps you attract and retain good staff, but that wears off pretty quickly. The fact is that it makes senior management feel good. Have you ever bought an IBM xServer because Hursley Park has nice sunken gardens? Do you even know (or care) what Microsoft HQ looks like? It makes sense for Apple Stores to be works of art, but the HQ? As an IT pro, what would motivate you more, $5k if you reach your next objective - or a handwoven office carpet?

This isn't just corporate excess. Civil servants who are wage-capped sometimes work in places that are legally defined as palaces. There are enough tall stone columns on government buildings to give a Freudian psychologist wet dreams, because people will always find a way of trying to extract what they "should" be paid even if it's just taking home Post-Its.

The Apple HQ isn't a big percentage of the cash pile, but architects are smart people, they are domain experts in sounding positive about the stupid design requests from CEOs who know everything about marketing technology to punters and think that carries over to making a great office building. It is a huge distraction, especially when you remember that board members cost up to $1m per day and a decent architect that they are "helping" is $300k per year.

Greed is Good

If you wanted to invest your money in a hedge fund like Braeburn, why would you not do so ?

Or invest in a firm that you feel has better growth prospects?

This is where Agency comes back in again. As an Apple shareholder, the cash is yours but almost no management team in the world sees it that way.

They see it as a set of options for them to exercise for the good of the firm and/or themselves. That's why activist shareholder David Einhorn is suing the company that he owns a chunk of. He knows the stuff I've written and a whole lot more and wants Apple to issue a big dividend that leaves them enough cash to continue being powerful, but not so much as to make them squander it on prestige offices and takeovers that destroy value. Lest I sound like an Einhorn fanboi, he would of course make a great big wad of cash out of this as would the people who've invested in Greenlight Capital, so it's not quite an act of charity.

Predicting the Apple Share Price

It is now the case that everything I've told you is now captured in the price of Apple stock, so has very little predictive power. It does however reflect the inherent vulnerability of Apple as a firm. The iWatch may fly or not, but few very large firms are as pathetically dependent upon a small number of products as Apple. MS and IBM may have smaller market values, but they have a much wider portfolio of products and services which is why Vista was only a relatively small dent in MS and why being kicked out of the PC business actually worked to IBM's advantage.

Apple is thus going to be forced into more “bet the company” launches. It can easily survive an iWatch failure, but to deliver high percentage growth it will need to bet a high percentage of the firm.

Dominic Connor is a financial headhunter who gets told all sorts of things about financial markets, some of which are even true.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:04 am 
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Tim Cook eats necessary crow, apologizes to China

State media: Apple 'greedy' and 'incomparably arrogant'


By Rik Myslewski • The Register



Comment Apple CEO Tim Cook has released an open apology to his company's Chinese customers after coming under increasing pressure from that government's propaganda machine's attacks on Cupertino's customer-service practices.

In a letter published on Apple's Chinese website (Google Translate) – and which some of The Reg's Chinese-speaking readers might be better able to translate than Google – Cook expressed his "sincere apologies" (诚挚的歉意) to Apple's customers in the Middle Kingdom, a country for which he expressed his "immense respect" (无比的敬意).

From where we sit, however, it appears that Cook's gesture was not intended to ameliorate any consumer backlash, but rather to show appropriate deference to the industry-controlling Chinese government – the undisputed power in a country that is becoming ever more important to Apple's hopes for world domination.

The Chinese government's anti-Apple effort has been carefully orchestrated, but not entirely well-managed. On March 15 – World Consumer Rights Day – the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) aired a prime-time special that excoriated Apple for their warranty and customer-support policies.

One specific charge was that although Chinese law requires a new one-year warranty after a phone repair, Apple was replacing defective phones under warranty with new phones but using the back cover from the defective phone so as to skirt the warranty renewal.

"In contrast with China," CCTV said, "Apple consumers in other parts of the world including the United States, Australia, South Korea and the European Union are treated much better." There's nothing quite like playing to nativism to stir up a crowd, eh?

CCTV also cited one unnamed Beijing resident as saying, "I think there should be no difference between Chinese and foreign Apple users. Apple should guarantee the legal rights and interests of its Chinese fans."

The station also quoted Qiu Baochang, a top lawyer from the China Consumers Association (CCA) as saying, "Apple says Chinese consumers enjoy the highest standard of service. This is a false statement. It's a fact that the company gives brand-new replacements in other countries, but in China the warranty does not cover the outer casing. I think Apple is ducking the issue."

CCTV branded Apple as "greedy" and "incomparably arrogant," the Communist Party's People's Daily editorialized that "Perhaps the trouble comes from Westerners' traditional sense of superiority," and the CCA asked Apple to "sincerely apologize to Chinese consumers" and "thoroughly correct its problems," CCTV reported.

And on Monday Cook did just that, both offering his 诚挚的歉意 and broadening warranty support for Cupertinian smartphones from the iPhone 4 on.

That may have been a necessary move to placate the Chinese government and its state-controlled news outlets, but it doesn't appear to have been necessary to smooth ruffled consumer feathers. As reported by the Financial Times (free registration required), those consumers clogged the social interwewbs with caustic commentary about the government's attacks – especially after it was revealed that the CCTV recruited Chinese celebrities to promote their broadcast and attack Apple on their social-media accounts.

"Everybody is eating cooking oil recycled from gutters, no problem!" one online commenter responded. "Everybody is drinking poisonous milk powder, no problem! We drink water filled with dead floating pigs, no problem! But when you change the back cover of iPhones for foreigners but not for us then that is not OK, that is far more serious than any of these problems."

From the point of view of global corporate realpolitik, Cook had no choice. China is Apple's second-largest market behind the US, and his company's growth plans are increasingly reliant upon success there – success that the Chinese government may not relish if it comes at the expense of such home-grown players as Huawei and ZTE, or even companies such as HTC that are based on a nearby island that they still regard as theirs: Taiwan.

Cook has talked up China quite a bit during his conference calls with analysts and reporters that accompany Apple's quarterly financial reports. When reporting the company's Q1 2012 results, for example, Cook said that the "demand in China is staggering" and "off the charts." A year later – this January, to be exact – he was still bullish, saying that "it's clear there's a lot of potential there."

He also gave some China-specific figures during that call: during the first fiscal quarter of 2013, revenue from what Apple characterizes as "greater China" – mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan – was $7.3bn, a 60 per cent bump year-on-year. Retail stores increased from six to 11, Apple's "premium resellers" doubled to 400, and iPhone point-of-sale spots soared from 7,000 to over 17,000.

At the time of that conference call, though, Cook was far from satisfied. "This isn't nearly what we need, and it's not the final by any means," he said. "We're not even close to that, but I feel that we're making great progress."

Sometimes progress, well, progresses in fits and starts, and Cook's Monday apology is, he must certainly hope, a small price to pay for getting in good with Chinese market managers. China continues to fine-tune its mix of private and state capitalism, and with a new PRC president and Communist Party General Secretary onboard in the person of Xi Jinping, Cook can ill-afford to ignore broadsides from such powerful Chinese entities as the CCTV and the People's Daily.

With new hands on the tiller of the Chinese ship of state, Cook is at both an advantage and a disadvantage – he faces new opportunities and new dangers. And not only is Apple's status as a hardware and services supplier at the mercy of China's vast bureaucracy, there is also – as Craig Stephen explained in a recent MarketWatch article – the not-at-all-insignificant matter of navigating contractual relationships with China Mobile, the world's largest wireless provider and not an iPhone carrier. Yet.

Cook may not be eating "cooking oil recycled from gutters" or "dead floating pigs," but he has made a calculated decision that a little crow on the menu is not all that tough to swallow.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:53 am 
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Apple in Chinese court over patent rights for Siri

Cupertino's troubles worsen in China


By Iain Thomson• The Register




A Chinese court has heard claims that Apple's Siri personal assistant infringes a patent owned by a local firm that makes similar voice-activated software for both iOS and Android, in just the latest setback for Cupertino in the country.

Shanghai's Zhizhen Network Technology Co. first patented its "Xiao i Robot" software in 2004, three years before Siri made her rather troubled (but heavily marketed) entrance into the market. Zinzhen claims more than 100 million users in China for the software, in a wide variety of industries.

"The company will ask Apple to stop manufacturing and selling products using its patent rights, once Apple's infringement is confirmed," Si Weijiang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, told AFP. "We don't exclude the possibility of demanding compensation in the future."

Apple is having a few problems in China at the moment. Siri got the company into trouble for telling Chinese users where they could find the illicit delights of pornography and prostitution. That problem is now fixed, but Cupertino continues to have issues in the country.

It has already had to pay out $60m to Chinese firm Proview Technology over the local vendor's claims that it owned the iPad trademark in China. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 isn’t selling particularly well, yet Apple has denied plans for a budget iPhone for the Middle Kingdom's middle classes (though such plans remain frequently rumored).

In the last few weeks, Cupertino has also come under increasing criticism in the local media over its business practices. Students have been warned about taking out expensive loans for Apple hardware, and the People's Daily, the official organ for the Communist Party, carried articles slamming Apple for three straight days last week.

The full patent trial in the Zhizhen case is scheduled to be heard in July, Zhizhen spokeswoman Mei Li told AFP. "We surely have confidence, our lawyers also told us they have confidence, but of course we will have to see how the judge will rule."

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
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Major blow for Apple: 'Bounce back' patent bounced back by USPTO

Finality isn't final, art wasn't prior, wails Apple


By Brid-Aine Parnell • The Register



The infamous "bounce-back" Apple patent has been mostly rejected by the US Patent Office, a decision that will have a major impact on the fruity firm's legal battles with Samsung.

Sammy was quick to point out the ruling on the patent to the court, as the jury in the recent billion-dollar Californian case ruled that 21 accused products infringed claim 19 of the patent and awarded massive damages against Samsung based on those infringements.

Some of those damage awards have already been vacated for a new trial, but not all of them have been taken off Sammy's total, which currently stands at over $500m.

The USPTO decided that prior art anticipated the bounce-back patent that gets documents or photos to bounce when you try to scroll beyond their end on a touchscreen, hamstringing not just Apple's case against Samsung in the US, but a string of other fruity litigation as well.

Samsung has already had to go to the expense of coming up with a workaround (the blue bar now at the end of its documents and photos in newer models) and it will likely add this to its list of grievances about the whole trial.

The Korean firm has been trying to argue that it was treated unfairly during the trial and, as Groklaw points out, this will give Samsung a strong basis to complain.

Apple has already replied to the court, saying that the USPTO's final decision is not, in fact, final.

"Samsung states that the Office Action 'finally' rejects multiple claims of the ’381 patent, but the suggestion that the reexamination is finished and the USPTO has rendered a dispositive decision is incorrect," the fruity firm said.

"A 'final' office action does not signal the end of reexamination at the USPTO, much less the end of consideration of the patentability of the claims under reexamination. Rather, 'finality' is primarily a procedural construct that limits the right to amend claims and introduce evidence as a matter of right in reexamination."

Apple added that it's entitled to file a response to the rejection and that after that, it has several appeal options. The iDevice-maker said that even if an appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board fails, it could still seek a judicial review in the US Court of Appeals, so it doesn't look like Cupertino will be letting this go any time soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
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And another one bites the dust. :snigger:

That's what you get when you patent obvious things. :doh:

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Apple's marketing honcho Schiller attacks Android, Samsung

Iffy data right before Galaxy S IV intro? What a coincidence...


By Rik Myslewski - The Register




When a company says that it's not worried about a competitor, it's a safe bet that it's worried about a competitor. And when that company is the notoriously close-mouthed Apple and its competitor, Samsung, is about to release a new version of its successful Galaxy S smartphone, you can double-down on that bet.

"At Apple we know that it's not just enough to have products pumped out in large numbers," Apple's marketing headman Phil Schiller said in a rare interview with Reuters on Wednesday. "You have to love and use them. There is a lot of data showing a big disparity there."

The data to which Schiller was referring could have come from the JD Power customer-satisfaction survery of May 2012 which ranked the iPhone number one for the seventh year running – but that survey was conducted well before the iPhone 5 debuted in September.

Times have changed. In a satisfaction survey of over 95,000 US smartphone users conducted by London's On Device Research and published this February, the iPhone 5 ranked fifth behind four Android phones, two from Motorola and one each from HTC and Samsung – although the fourth-place Samsung phone wasn't the Galaxy S III, but instead the stylus-equipped Galaxy Note II.

In the UK, however, the iPhone 5 climbed nearer to the top, ranking number two behind the HTC One X and ahead of a trio of Samsung Galaxies: the Note II, S III Mini, and S III.

But Android's popularity wasn't the only target of Schiller's brickbats. He also leveled criticism at that oft-cited Android failing, OS fragmentation.

"With their own data, only 16 per cent of Android users are on year-old version of the operating system," Apple's head pitchman said. "Over 50 percent are still on software that is two years old. A really big difference."

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Android OS distribution as of March 4, 2013

Those figures are from Android's developer site, which surveyed Android devices for 14 days ending on March 4 of this year, and found that 16.5 per cent of Android-device users are running versions 4.1 and 4.2, aka Jelly Bean. Versions 4.0.3 and 4.0.4, Ice Cream Sandwich, accounted for 28.6 of users, while various other Googly snacks filled in the other 54.9 per cent, with versions 2.3.X, Gingerbread, accounting for a hefty 44.1 per cent.

"And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S IV is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old," Schiller said. "Customers will have to wait to get an update."

As a reporter who is forced to sift through the rumor mill's leavings to divine The Next Big Thing, it's somewhow comforting to know that even a corner-office resident such as Apple's putative El Número Dos must also base his judgments on rumors.

But we do want to point out that Schiller is bending his figures a wee smidgen: Jelly Bean 4.1 was released in July 2012 and 4.2 in November. Our calendar tells us that those release dates were eight and four months ago, not a year. The Galaxy S III, by the way, currently runs runs Android 4.1.

Whatever. Schiller's main point, it appears, is that iOS users are more likely to have up-to-date operating systems – he said that more than half of all iOS users are running the latest version of that system.

He also cited Apple's own internal research that says that four times as many customers switch to iOS from Android than the other way around. Those figures, of course, can't be cross-checked.

Samsung, however, appears to be luring the lion's share of new smartphone users – a market that IDC says will squeak past half of all handsets sold globally this year. That same research group reports that for all of 2012, Samsung garnered 20.8 per cent of the "smart connected device" market to Apple's 18.2 per cent, and that in the fourth quarter of last year, the smartphone sales were 29 per cent Samsung and 21.8 per cent Apple.

Those trends are enough to give any company's head marketeer pause – and to put him out on the interview beat. But Schiller does have one exceptionally important bit of data on his side: according to the analysts at NPD, Apple accounted for 19.9 per cent of all consumer-electronics spending in the US during 2012.

But that was last year. Our calendar also tells us that it's now 2013, and our watch tells us that Samsung's Galaxy S IV will be released in about four hours at a gala New York City event.

Stay tuned.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
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Steve Jobs to supervise iPhone 6 FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Cold dead genius to relinquish control in 2014, maybe


By Jasper Hamill - The Register


Apple designed the next two versions of the iPhone while Steve Jobs was alive, it has been claimed.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón was told by an Apple representative that the next two iPhone models "preceded Tim Cook", according to a report in The Examiner.

He met with Apple’s government liaison Michael Foulkes to discuss possible methods of stamping out the theft of mobile phones on the streets of San Francisco, about half of which involved an iPhone. Gascón was frustrated with Apple's apparent reluctance to introduce kill switch technology that would allow stolen phones to be disabled and claimed that manufacturers were actually benefiting from the surge in street crime.

“I think there’s just too much being made on stolen phones,” he said.

The news is likely to raise questions about the future of Apple under Tim Cook, who had the unenviable task of filling Jobs' size-14 boots when his predecessor died in October 2011 following a cancer battle.

Competitors are nipping at the heels of the once unassailable Apple, as growing numbers of global smartphone users switch to Android or Windows phones. Apple has seen a 3.5 per cent drop in global sales during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to analysts Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

It was previously known that Jobs was involved in the development of the iPhone 5 - because a passage in a recent biography described him testing out the Siri voice recognition software on the iPhone 4S successor.

Horace Dediu, who once worked for Nokia and now runs the Asymco consultancy, pointed out that long production cycles were normal in the industry.

He tweeted: "Having worked in a phone company I think it's a given. Work under way now is for products shipping in 2016."

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:24 pm 
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While the above may be true, something I read elsewhere summed it up best:

Quote:
Anything to keep the devoted thinking there is still a little 'Job's Magic' left in them.

It's like Delboy's stock phrase to Rodney "You mum on her deathbed said to me........"


:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
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Moist iPhone fanbois tempted with golden Apple shower offer

Brouhaha over water-sniffing warranty tech 'settled for $53m'


By Brid-Aine Parnell, The Register



Apple has reportedly agreed to shake $53m (£35m) in change out of its pockets to settle a lawsuit accusing it of wriggling out of gadget warranties using a water-detecting tool.

Fanbois who brought their busted iPhones and iPods into Apple Stores for repair watched employees check the status of a Liquid Contact Indicator - which is hidden on the device and reveals whether or not the electronics were exposed to water.

The secret strip of tape, tucked in the iThing's headphone jack and charging port, reacts to moisture and the status of the luckless user's warranty depended on its colour: if the strip was still white, the fruity firm would fix up the iDevice, but if it was turned pink by water getting into the thing, the warranty was void - and the punter would have to pay.

It was feared moisture in the air, or similar innocuous contamination, could turn the colour of the tape, causing the owner to be unfairly denied a repair under warranty. The tape's maker reportedly said humidity could trigger the change.

Irate fanbois thus brought a class-action suit in the US, which Cupertino has now reportedly agreed to settle to the tune of $53m; that's not a bad haul, but hardly an amount to dent the company's moneybags too severely. Apple has admitted no wrongdoing.

Part of that sum will go towards paying the no doubt eye-watering legal cost of taking on a corporate giant. The rest will be stuck in a pot for refunding users, who paid, on average, $200 per repair. A settlement offer, seen by WiReD, is awaiting approval by the presiding judge.




So no wrongdoing admitted, and no doubt it's still cheaper than replacing all those broken iThings. So much for the oft-printed claim that Apple simply give people a new one.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:27 am 
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To be fair when my 4 broke, I took it in, he looked at it for about a minute then gave me a brand new one no hassle.

Samsung did the same when they kindly sent me a phone where half of the touchscreen was dead. Trouble is they sent me another phone that didn't f**king work. Third time lucky I guess. Don't mind it now, got used to it's quarks.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:47 am 
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Serbinator wrote:
To be fair when my 4 broke, I took it in, he looked at it for about a minute then gave me a brand new one no hassle.

Samsung did the same when they kindly sent me a phone where half of the touchscreen was dead. Trouble is they sent me another phone that didn't f**king work. Third time lucky I guess. Don't mind it now, got used to it's quarks.


That's the kind of service you want, but it sounds like they're no longer going down that route, hence the latest illegal warranty dodge.

As for touchscreens, think it's must've been pot luck with either phone as Samsung make the screens for Apple as well as their own phones.

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
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Who's a Siri boy, then? Apple hoards your voices for TWO years

Privacy campaigners demand 'high justification' for query cache


By Jasper Hamill • The Register



A leading UK privacy warrior has urged Apple to explain itself after the tech titan admitted Siri queries are kept on record for two years.

Nick Pickles, director of pressure group Big Brother Watch, spoke out after the iPhone maker today revealed exactly how long it retains questions fired at its voice-controlled personal assistant app.

He said Apple needs to be open and honest about what it does with these queries and requests - which can be anything from "tell my wife I love her" to "where's the nearest vodka bar?" The questions are sent to Apple's cloud for processing, and Siri responds.

"There needs to be a very high justification for retaining such intrusive data for longer than is absolutely necessary to provide the service," Pickles said.

"Apple need to come clean and say what they are storing, for how long and most importantly, why. As consumers become increasingly concerned about their privacy, companies cannot afford to keep their customers in the dark about what happens to information."

Apple revealed it was holding onto anonymised search queries for up to 24 months after the firm came under pressure to explain what "period of time" actually meant in this section of its Siri privacy statement:

Quote:
If you turn off Siri, Apple will delete your user data, as well as your recent voice input data. Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services.


Nicole Ozer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, wants Apple to make its Siri privacy statement a lot more obvious. Currently, it can only be viewed from the app's settings page, but she wants today's admission splashed all over the Apple website.

“There is no good reason for Apple to not include information about privacy practices on their Siri FAQ page,” Ozer said.

She also warned people to be careful what they ask Siri. She added: “What you say to Siri could reveal sensitive things about you, your family, or business. Siri works for Apple, so make a note to yourself to really think before you speak.”

A spokesman for Apple UK did not respond to The Register's request for comment.

But, speaking to WiReD, Cupertino spokeswoman Trudy Muller explained that each search recording is assigned an ID number, and when the recording is six months old, the number is deleted. But this “disassociated” voice data is kept on file for a further 18 months so Apple can use it to supposedly improve services.

“Apple may keep anonymised Siri data for up to two years,” Muller said. “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data. Our customers’ privacy is very important to us.”

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 Post subject: Re: Apple, the iPhone and various other disasters
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:11 am 
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I think most people would consider an accurate recording of their voice as potentially being personally identifiable. :blink:

Also it sounds like Apple have a second identifier that permits them to track data over six months old so it wouldn't be anonymous and can still be tied to a user. And no doubt, they'll sell it to their 'partners' too (EG anyone at all who pays them for it)

Software is already available that advertises it's ability to search massive volumes of voice data for a match, so you can bet it's all as searchable as text queries except it's got your voice print to identify you too. Plus, it'd be fairly simple to run pattern matching software to link anonymized voices to known recent voices.


Android I believe has the option to store saved voice searches to help improve future searches... or you can leave it turned off, Google store nothing and the voice search still works.

Choice is always best imo.

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