Tag: apple

Microsoft’s cunning anti-Apple plan is working

microsoft-surface-3-02Software King of the World Microsoft claims that its cunning plan to remove Apple’s from the high-end computer market, is working.

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said that Microsoft’s business of licensing Windows out to PC manufacturers was up five percent last quarter,  accounting for both business and consumer PCs.

The outfit’s business of licensing Windows for the “non-pro” (as in, consumer) market had its own five percent growth last quarter, beating the overall shrinkage of the PC industry, “as our partner ecosystem continued to see growth and share gains in the Windows premium device category”.

These “premium devices” are computers in the $900-plus price range which in the consumer market are those with more money than sense – Apple’s turf.

Microsoft’s PC partners spent the last several years focusing on low- to medium-priced computers and let Apple have that ground. After all it was not really worth the effort.

Microsoft changed all that with the Surface Book laptop in 2015, the company explicitly declared that those days were over, pitching it as a more powerful and versatile alternative to Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro.

There was also a market for laptop/tablet hybrids like the Surface Pro 4. Meanwhile there had been a slow rise of virtual reality headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Rift – which requires a powerful gaming PC for the best results.

And what was the fruity tax-dodging cargo cult doing while Microsoft was staging its come-back? Well nothing really. In fact, it did not upgrade its hardware for four years.

When it did it stripped a lot of the functionality out of the MacPro making it useless for professionals.

Now Volehas  introduced the Surface Studio PC, a unique blend of tablet and desktop computer, competing with the Apple iMac. It is not cheap at $2,999, it’s reported to be selling better than even Microsoft’s most optimistic projections.

Microsoft waking from its Ballmer inspired snooze

alainhippoSoftware King of the World, Microsoft has emerged from its 17-year snooze where it has been doing well but not as good as it should have been.

Vole has announced that its market capitalisation topped $500 billion for the first time since 2000 after the technology giant’s stock rose following another quarter of results that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

Shares of the world’s biggest software company rose as much as 2.1 percent to $65.64, an all-time high, in early trading, valuing the company at $510.37 billion.

The last time Microsoft was worth that was in March 2000, during the dotcom bubble when it had a market value of a little above $550 billion.

The Tame Apple Press has been reassuring everyone that Microsoft is still not as valuable as  its favourite company. Apple’s market capitalisation is $642 billion and Google’s is more than $570 billion.

Vole’s second quarter results last Thursday beat analysts’ average estimate for both revenue and profit, mainly due to its fast-growing cloud computing business.

The company’s profit and revenue have now topped Wall Street’s expectations in seven of the last eight quarters.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella has been trying to spruce up Microsoft since taking over the snoozing giant nearly three years ago, from the shy and retiring Steve Ballmer. He appears to have built more credibility around the company’s efforts in areas such as cloud-based services.

When he started work in February 2014, you could pick up a share in Vole for $34 and the company value was $315 billion.

At least 11 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock, boosting the median price target to $68.50 from $68.

 

Apple getting its “internet of things” clock cleaned by Amazon

AmazonThe Tame Apple Press has just woken up to the fact that its favourite tech company is not doing that well in the “Intelligent Home” market.

For those who came in late, Apple does have a product to create “intelligent homes” called Homekit. It is just that no one has been buying it or even talking about it.  Of course that has not stopped outfits like Reuters pretending that Apple invented the whole industry, but claims it had lost ground to Amazon.

It sulked that it had taken only a year for Amazon’s combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant had taken over the market.

It insists that means that Amazon is “squaring up” for a battle with Apple, implying that Jobs’ Mob is actually the market leader when it is not.

The strategic importance of the “connected home” niche looms large: Amazon wants a way to own its customer interactions -mainly shopping online – without an phone or a Web browser as an intermediary.

Apple’s app is also a long way behind Google, which is investing in both intelligent assistant software and home-automation devices like the Nest thermostats and, more recently, the Google Home speaker.

Getting back to Apple, Reuters seems to think that it controlled the intelligent home market when the iPhone rolled out with voice activated controls.

However, with Amazon selling 10 million Alexa-enabled devices over the holiday season, Apple’s own involvement in the market is invisible.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the company is leading the industry by being the first to integrate home automation into a major platform with iOS 10. “The number of HomeKit-compatible accessories continues to grow rapidly with many exciting solutions announced just this month,” she said.

But that is software and most intelligent home packages are already running much better software packages based around Android, Linux forks and even Windows. There are 250 devices that are certified to work with Alexa while Apple’s Homekit, by contrast, has about 100 certified devices.

Apple has tried its normal “control everything” games which means that to be Homekit-certified, gadget makers must include special chips to work with Apple’s system. Apple also requires developers to buy specific WiFi and Bluetooth networking chips that cost more than competitors.

These devices must be made in Apple approved factories.  Only a few of these factories specialise in home automation products. The founder of one startup that considered pursuing HomeKit approval for a device that helps control home temperatures said the company picked a factory with 40,000 employees that was making well known “Star Wars” toys, but it couldn’t use that factory for HomeKit products.

This huge factory was black-listed because it was not Apple certified. Some developers can’t be bothered jumping through all the hoops when they can get a product out there which is much cheaper and runs on other software.

Alexa, by contrast, only requires smart home companies to write software code and submit it to Amazon for review. There are no special chips. To earn the “Works with Alexa” label -which isn’t required to function with Alexa but does help promote products on Amazon’s website – startups must have their products physically tested. Amazon does allow that to happen in a third-party lab, however.

Once those certifications are in hand, Amazon says it will decide whether or not a device gets the “Works with Alexa” label within 10 days.

 

Silicon Valley gears up to fight Trump

Donald-Trump-funnySilicon Valley is leading the corporate resistance to President Donald (Prince of Orange)Trump’s clampdown on immigration.

Apparently Big Tech is spending a fortune on financing legal opposition, criticising the plan, as well as helping employees ensnared by his executive order.

It had long been expected that Silicon Valley would fight back against Trump. The industry has depended on immigrants and championed liberal causes such as gay rights.

At the moment, it looks like they are still in the organisation stage. Over the weekend, as Trump tried to shut out immigrants from countries which he does not do business with, most in the tech industry stopped short of directly criticising the new Republican president.

Apple, Google and Microsoft offered legal aid to employees affected by the order. Several Silicon Valley executives donated to legal efforts to support immigrants facing the ban.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and Uber head Travis Kalanick both said on Twitter that they would take industry concerns about immigration to Trump’s business advisory council, where they serve.

Kalanick has faced opposition on social media for agreeing to be part of the advisory group. Kalanick in a Facebook post on Sunday called the immigration ban “wrong and unjust” and said that Uber would create a $3 million fund to help drivers with immigration issues.

Khash Sajadi, the British-Iranian chief executive of San Francisco-based tech company Cloud 66, was stuck in London because of the ban.

Sajadi is hoping that bigger tech companies like Google and Facebook would take legal action to protect affected employees. That could help set a precedent for people in similar situations.

He warned that it is going to take legal action as people speaking up is not going to be enough.

The tech industry also has other matters where it may find itself opposed to Trump, including trade policy and cyber security.

Over the weekend startup incubator Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, wrote a widely read blog post urging tech leaders to band together against the immigration order. He said he has spoken with a variety of people about organising but remains unsure about the best course of action.

“The honest answer is we don’t know yet. We are talking with legal groups and tech groups, but this is so unprecedented that I don’t think anyone has a manual.”

At Lyft, co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green pledged on the company’s blog to donate a million dollars over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which won a temporary stay of part of Trump’s executive order on Saturday night.

Dave McClure, the founding partner of 500 Startups and an outspoken critic of Trump, said his venture capital firm will soon open its first fund in the Middle East and will shift its attention to supporting entrepreneurs in their native countries, if bringing them to the United States proves impossible.

Ironically this will help countries identified by Trump as “enemies” develop their technology base.

 

Qualcomm defends its licensing and bottom line

siege_of_Troy_2Chipmaker Qualcomm has reported a lower than expected 3.9 percent rise in quarterly revenue and defended its licensing model.

The US Federal Trade Commission and Apple have sued Qualcomm accusing it of resorting to “anticompetitive” tactics to maintain a monopoly over chips used in smartphone.

The Apple tactic appears to be designed to force Qualcomm to reduce its already discounted pricing by jumping on the bandwagon of anti-trust actions in the US and Korea.

The fruity cargo cult also filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in Beijing, alleging that the chip supplier abused its clout and is seeking $145.32 million in damages.

Qualcomm executives firmly defended the company’s licensing model on its quarterly conference call, and said its revenue forecast did not include any impact from the dispute with Apple.

Qualcomm president Derek Aberle said that Apple’s attack on Qualcomm’s business model is not only an attack on Qualcomm, but also an attack on the smartphone competition that Qualcomm’s business model enables.

Qualcomm said it expects to continue to supply to Apple during the dispute, and that the company’s contracts with the iPhone maker’s suppliers were still valid.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.20 per share and revenue of $5.90 billion so they are slightly disappointed.

Revenue rose to $6 billion from $5.78 billion, but missed analysts’ estimate of $6.12 billion.

Qualcomm’s shares have risen nearly 20 percent in the past 12 months, compared with the 62.1 percent gain in the broader Philadelphia Semiconductor index.

Donald Trump could be Apple’s arch-Nemesis

poison-appleApple is hoping for a better 2017 after an embarrassing fall in dominance last year, but it is starting to look it might have found itself an enemy for all things Applish in the new president Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump.

Apple was a frequent target of Trump’s criticism on the campaign trail. He encouraged supporters to boycott Apple because of its encryption policies while also condemning the company for building its products overseas.

One of the few things we know about Trump’s stated economic and trade policies is that damaging large, multinational tech companies who don’t have a plant in the US is high on the agenda. Apple and any company that relies heavily on overseas manufacturing and the global economy and this is the same business model which will suffer.

Trump said that the aim was to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.

Things would be bleak had not Trump has backed away from or moderated his tone on some of the issues he brought up during the campaign. He didn’t jail Hillary Clinton and he backtracked on corporate lobbying – several of his cabinet represent big companies. But he did rather go on about Jobs’ Mob.

Trump claimed to have spoken to Apple CEO Tim Cook about building “a big plant in the United States” and about cutting taxes and regulations that would currently keep Apple from doing so.

Trump claims he’s going to get Apple to “build a big plant” in US. Apple will then be made an example of and it could avoid a huge amount of pain if it does what it is told.

Apple makes most of its gear through Chinese outfits Foxconn and Pegatron. Foxconn has already said it is investigating building a plant in the US. It probably will not create many jobs as the outfit has said that it wants to be nearly fully robotic. However, if Trump says that Apple’s tech is being made in the US he will use that to create a sound-bite win and hope the country are too think to notice that it has made no difference to jobs.

If Apple is clever, it will suck up more government money and maybe get a tax break or too to bring its cash pile to the US and have the phones made by Foxconn robots.

But Apple’s Tame hacks at the New York Times reported that Apple’ Chinese manufacturing arrangements would be nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere.

Cook also has a balancing act to play out if Apple wants to stay in the lucrative Chinese market. While the Chinese interest in Apple has fallen lately, the outfit did get its foot in the door.

Trump has hacked off China big time and appears to be itching for a trade war.

Trump has promised to impose a 35 percent import tax on American companies that manufacture their products in countries like China and Mexico. This will be increased to a 45 percent tax on all Chinese imports from the country, compared to an average tax rate of about three percent currently.

While this could jack up the price of consumer goods, particularly smartphones and other technology China has promised to retaliate by further raising prices.

Obama raised taxes on Chinese tyre imports to 35 percent and the country added between two and 21.5 percent to the taxes for cars imported from the US and caused hell for US companies trading in China.

If Trump follows through, China will buy Airbus instead of Boeing. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports will be halted.

Apple has promised to invest in China and Chinese companies in an effort to maintain good relations with the country, but if the Trump administration takes a hard line on China, the benefits that the company relies on to keep its costs down and margins high could evaporate.

Tim Cook the chief executive officer of one of the world’s most valuable companies still showed up to Trump’s tech summit in New York last month, despite looking less than pleased about it.

He explained his presence at the meeting to Apple employees in an internal memo saying that he had to show up because Governments can affect the company’s ability to do what Apple does.

This year we will see how much of Apple is going to go down in a blaze of Trump.

Apple faces another antitrust case

apple queueA US appeals court has allowed phone app purchasers to sue the fruity-cargo cult Apple over allegations that the company monopolised the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store.

Apple has form for playing monopoly but it had thought that this case would have gone away. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling dug up a long-simmering legal challenge originally filed in 2012 taking aim at Apple’s practice of only allowing iPhones to run apps purchased from its own App Store.

A group of iPhone users sued saying Jobs’ Mob’s practice was anti competitive and meant prices were too high

Apple’s mighty briefs claimed that users did not have standing to sue it because they purchased apps from developers, with Apple simply renting out space to those developers. Developers pay a cut of their revenues to Apple in exchange for the right to sell in the App Store.

A lower court agreed with Apple, but Judge William Fletcher ruled that iPhone users purchase apps directly from Apple, which gives iPhone users the right to bring a legal challenge against Apple.

The Tame Apple Press insists that Apple is safe because the case has not really got to court yet as the wrangling has been over whether they have the right to sue Apple in the first place. However if the challenge does succeed Apple will be forced to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices.

Apple to pay people damages for the higher than competitive prices they’ve had to pay historically because Apple has used its monopoly. The case will run and run of course. Apple tends not to know when it is beaten, even when it has clearly lost. It took one case to the Supreme Court where it got a good kicking for its trouble.

Samsung wants to sell 10 million S8 phones

SamsungSamsung has set an initial production target of 10 million Galaxy S8 smartphones.

Samsung is counting on the S8 to rejuvenate sales after it scrapped the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones last year in one of the biggest product safety failures in tech history. The phone will go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone 8 which is being touted as everything the iPhone 7 should have been.

The newspaper said the world’s top smartphone maker would start production in March and planned to start selling them in April. Galaxy S7 phones went on sale in March last year.

Leaks about the S8 indicate the phone will be rather special, if expensive. For a start it will come with the latest AI features and Qualcomm’s new 10nm Snapdragon chip.

To push it, Samsung must prove that it does not feature the mistakes of the Note 7. So far no one knows for certain what those faults were, but it would appear to have been too thin for the larger battery.

Samsung has denied anything which has been written about the S8 but fortunately the Far Eastern companies leak like a Welsh tin bath.

 

Apple sells out key ally to the Chinese

tim-cook-apple-ceoWhile the New York Times has faithfully acted as Apple’s unpaid press office and sacrificed its credibility as a technology source, it seems that the fruity-cargo cult has sold it out at the first opportunity.

Apple has removed the New York Times news apps from its app store in China following a request from the Chinese authorities.

It purged both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the iTunes store in China just before Christmas.

The request comes as the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s top internet regulatory body, has called for greater media scrutiny, citing fears of social disorder, moral harm and threats to national security.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Reuters that the request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by The New York Times of that country.

It has asked Apple to reconsider its decision, after all Apple owes it more than a few favours. Apple claims that the app is in violation of local regulations, so  it does not matter how many glowing reviews the paper writes on the iPhone 7 it is not going to get into China.

The Chinese government has blocked The Times’ websites since 2012 when it actually did it job and ran a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister.

Ironically apps from CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, were still available in the app store.

 

Apple sued for not making something

keep_calm_and_love_your_patent_lawyer_2_inch_round_magnet-re8c2c059dc99401ca676f1a1e58344f5_x7js9_8byvr_324Fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple has been sued for not making a product it patented and thus killing a child.

James and Bethany Modisette are suing the toy-maker after a car crash two years ago that killed one of their daughters and injured the rest of the family. The driver of the car who hit them was using Apple’s FaceTime video chat.

The plaintiffs claim that if Apple had implemented technology it received a patent for in 2008 which was “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles,” such as texting or video chatting the accident would not have happened.

The complaint cites Apple’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the Apple iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology” — in other words, lack of the programme’s inclusion — as a “substantial factor” in the crash.

It is a bold move taking this argument into a court and while we think it is unlikely to that it will go anywhere it does highlight a point. Tech companies patent shedloads of things and then never produce a product with them.  In this case it was a fairly obvious piece of tech which would have saved a life. Apple could easily have incorporated it into the iPhone 6 but it didn’t.