UK sales to be reported via local Amazon subsidiary following government tax crackdown
Amazon is altering its tax affairs in Europe, following pressure from governments and regulatory bodies over the way it and other tech companies attempt to shrink their tax bills. The retailer is starting to run sales it makes in the United Kingdom within the country itself, instead of funneling them through Luxembourg to minimize the amount of tax it pays, a change that is expected to bring in millions in corporation tax to the UK treasury.
Enterprising crafters consider an alternate or additional outlet for vending online
Over the course of several days, a number of entrepreneurs who sell on Etsy.com received an email from Amazon.com. The email contains an invitation to take a survey in preparation for a new marketplace the Internet retail giant is working on called "Handmade."
Uncertain number of positions in smartphone software and app development lost
Earlier this month BlackBerry CEO, John Chen, stated he believed the company was on track to be profitable again. At the time, Chen stated that design was key in the company's efforts to continue selling handsets while capitalizing on the fact that services were the primary source of income. Possibly contrary to Chen's remarks, BlackBerry has announced plans to cut employees from the device side, primarily from the smartphone software and application development area.
Will it really cause a delay?
More rumors about Apple's television service, citing unnamed sources outside of Apple, indicates the possibility that Cupertino is seeking local programming for inclusion in the upcoming steaming service for Apple TV. The service, often compared to Dish Network's Sling, will reportedly allow live broadcast shows and commercials to be viewed on any Apple device. The service has yet to be officially announced, if it exists at all. Apple has been rumored to say something about it at the WWDC conference in June with release later in the year, but the prospect of local content being added has analysts predicting release will be delayed.
Default outside carrier's stores now becomes Next installment program
AT&T, one of the US' largest carriers, has opted to make a significant change to its arrangements with third-party resellers of its services, including franchises and agents such as Apple, Walmart, and others. All non-company stores will be restricted from offering any two-year contracts in the traditional format with an up-front down payment, though AT&T company stores and its own online site will continue to offer contracts. Instead, retailers will have to offer the AT&T Next option, where buyers pay the cost of the phone alongside the monthly service plan fees.
CFPB orders payment for PayPal Credit enrollment issues, payment disputes
PayPal will pay out $25 million in fines and restitution, as part of a settlement in a case claiming it deceived customers over credit schemes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a complaint and proposed consent order to a federal court on Tuesday that PayPal enrolled customers into PayPal Credit without their permission, promoted benefits it failed to provide, and mishandled disputes over billing.
Agency joining with Apple, AT&T in opposing sale of cell phone customer data
Following a similar move by Apple last Thursday filed with the Delaware bankruptcy court handling the sale of some RadioShack assets, the US Federal Trade Commission has sent the court a list of conditions for the sale of the electronics retailer's assets that would be needed to protect personal privacy of cellular service customers who bought their equipment and/or service from RadioShack. Neither Apple, nor fellow filer AT&T, are seeking to block the overall sale.
Years-long erroneous assumption illustrates double-edged sword of rumor reporting
There's no question that news sites often lean on the rumor mill as the basis for stories (though we are careful to note that rumors are exactly that -- rumors). Sometimes the speculation is fearless, sometimes it amounts to nothing more than an educated guess. Sometimes -- less often than you'd think -- rumors turn out to be true, but we've found that only the ones closest to the actual product release have much veracity. We've turned away from heavy rumor reporting lately -- but they're always in our feeds, or in the MacNN email box. There's a certain cycle to rumors that we've seen, generally from "analysts" with no better sources than we have -- and here's why we don't always report on them.
Thunderbolt 3 may be up to 40 gigabits per second, twice that the prior generation
Chip manufacturer Intel will show the next generation of Thunderbolt at next month's Computex in Taiwan. Alongside the reveal of Thunderbolt 3, Intel is also showing USB Type-C 3.1, the next iteration of the new connectivity standard that debuted on Apple's MacBook rebirth.
Security focus, device design key to BlackBerry revival, claims CEO Chen
BlackBerry will start to make money on smartphone sales again in the future, the manufacturer's chief executive has insisted. In an interview, CEO John Chen revealed he continues to believe Blackberry's devices business will become profitable, with the company's refocusing on enterprise and government customers forming a central part to the rejuvenation plans, instead of the consumer market.
Filemaker Pro 14, Cox Cable's cap testing, Xbox bricking, and more
Episode 15 of The MacNN Podcast is on the air! Regular shenanigans ensue, even if not perpetrated by the regular crowd. This week, we talk about Microsoft up to its old tricks with six versions of Windows 10 at retail, Xbox consoles bricked by Microsoft (or not), Cox Cable's cap testing, and much more!
Still using BlackBerry for personal phone, new account designed to be passed on
US President Barack Obama, still well known for using a specially locked-down BlackBerry as his personal smartphone, used a White House Executive Office-registered iPhone to post the first tweet on Twitter from his own @POTUS account. Improvements in security made to the iPhone starting with iOS 8 have apparently made the device worthy of being used by the President. Unlike other official presidential Twitter channel, Obama himself will tweet from the @POTUS account.
Patent infringement damages upheld, but trade dress conviction tossed
A US Court of Appeals has "split the baby" in a decision that preserves Apple's victory against Samsung in its first patent-infringement trial, but will also result in a likely significant reduction of damages due from the Korean company. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in California has upheld the jury's finding that Samsung copied design and utility patents from Apple, but has tossed the same jury's finding of guilt regarding "trade dress" violations.
Specific details about offering eligibility, specific content not yet known
AT&T and video streaming service Hulu have signed a deal that will bring the popular video purveyor to AT&T customers through AT&T's websites and mobile applications. The offering will be through an IP- or device-locked website or app, limiting the streaming to AT&T customers.
Former battery tech company went bust after key employees left for Apple
A battery technology company that suffered an exodus of key employees to Apple has now told a court that it and Apple are in the final stages of working out a settlement. A123 Systems filed suit against Apple in February after the iPhone maker recruited A123's former chief technical officer, Mujeeb Ijaz, who then allegedly led a poaching effort that persuaded a handful of very key scientists and engineers to jump ship to Apple as well -- leading A123 to halt several research projects due to the brain drain.
New spec includes 4k, object-based sound compatibility
The Blu-ray Disc Association yesterday announced completion of the Ultra HD Blu-ray specification. In addition to delivering content in up to 3840x2160 resolution, the Ultra HD Blu-ray format enables delivery of a significantly expanded color range and allows for the delivery of high dynamic range and high frame rate content.
Apple achieves only perfect score in ranking of tech companies' use of renewable energy
Apple, once routinely criticized and protested by environmental activist group Greenpeace, has topped the organization's poll of tech companies using renewable energy, and was the only tech company to achieve a perfect score. Citing the company's statement that 100 percent of its US operations and 87 percent of its global operations now use renewable resources (as of the end of 2014), the group says Apple has been "the most aggressive" and transparent about renewable energy use.
AOL purchase provides Verizon with major online advertising, publishing business
Verizon has signed a deal to acquire AOL, the telecoms company has revealed. The purchase will see Verizon paying out $50 per share of AOL stock, a transaction estimated to be worth $4.4 billion, which the company claims will help its LTE wireless video and "over-the-top video strategy," along with helping it support Verizon's Internet of Things (IoT) platforms.
Autonomous car accidents involved minimal damage, Google claims
Google's fleet of self-driving cars have been involved in a few accidents while driving on public roads, though the number is relatively low. Over the six years of the project, and over the course of 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving, Google reveals the cars have been in a total of 11 minor accidents involving light damage and no injuries, though apparently none of them have been caused by the car itself.
Discoveryd issues, Apple Watch giveaway, Origin PC review, more
It's time for episode 14 of The MacNN Podcast, which this week includes a new guest: Bradley, our music provider for the show, who is also a keen reviewer of Bluetooth Speakers and, now, the Origin PC gaming computer. We also do our usual thing of going over the big tech stories of the week, cracking some terrible jokes, talk about some new features on the site, make gratuitous pop-culture references, and even squeeze in an overview of Apple Watch third-party apps.
FAA was within its rights to allow gadget use at all stages of flight
A lawsuit aiming to overturn a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule change concerning the use of electronic devices by passengers at all stages of flight has been stopped. An appeals court in Washington D.C. ruled that the FAA was well within its rights to make such rule changes, effectively ending the legal action prompted by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).
CNN, PrecisionHawk, BSNF Railroad testing commercial drone use
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking a few more steps forward in regulating drones for both consumer and commercial purposes. Two initiatives have been launched by the FAA, with one involving the testing of drones beyond line of sight, and the other being a mobile app that aims to educate potential drone pilots on where they can fly their unmanned aircraft safely.
Suits filed in UK, Germany, The Netherlands over expired licensing terms
In addition to a barrage of lawsuits in the US and complaints to the International Trade Commission, technology company Ericsson has now filed separate but related lawsuits in the UK, Germany, and The Netherlands alleging that Apple is using mostly standards-essential Ericsson patents without a license, following a collapse of negotiations over a fair rate that allowed Apple's license with Ericsson to expire.
Appeals court sides with Pandora over songwriter royalty rate payments
An appeals court has upheld a ruling from last year concerning royalty rates paid by Pandora to songwriters. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with an earlier ruling, which set the rate the music streaming service pays to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to 1.85 percent of Pandora's revenue, with no changes made to the figure.
Simultaneous multithreading in AMD Zen to improve throughput by 40 percent
AMD will concentrate on making more lucrative high-specification processors instead of low-cost chips, the CEO has advised during the company's recent Financial Analyst Day. Alongside a new roadmap showing what to expect from the chip producer in future releases, it has also admitted it needs to make changes in order to rescue itself financially.
Uber allegedly joins fight to acquire Nokia mapping arm
Uber has apparently placed a bid to acquire the Here mapping arm of Nokia, according to a report. The New York Times claims the company has placed a bid in the region of $3 billion for the mapping technology, though it still has competition from other sources, including a collection of German car manufacturers working with Baidu, as well as another offer from an unnamed private equity firm.
Consumer magazine compares 11 smartwatches, Apple Watch wins handily
Testing by Consumer Reports on some practical and aesthetic aspects of the crowded smartwatch field has shown that the Apple Watch is the best of them all. The magazine tested 11 smartwatches for ease of use, heart-rate tracking, scratch resistance, screen readability, step count accuracy, water resistance, and in other areas. The stainless-steel version of the Apple Watch bested all comers in screen readability, ease of use, pairing speed, scratch resistance, water resistance, and heart-rate accuracy.
Company has more cash than most US industry sectors combine, Moody's finds
Apple, which is closing in on holding some $200 billion in cash, is well known for being one of the richest companies on the planet. A new report from Moody's Investors Service release on Thursday notes that the iPhone maker actually held more cash on hand at the end of 2014 -- when it had $178 billion -- than most US industrial sectors put together, surpassed only by the whole of the tech sector, the financial sector and the medical industry.
Tom Wheeler suggests cable companies should work on competition
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler wants cable companies to drop their resistance to net neutrality and increase competition with each other. Speaking at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's (NCTA) Internet and Television Expo, Wheeler also expresses the belief that the concentration of promoting competition between providers will be better for consumers and the industry as a whole.
Company pushing forward despite reports of record company reticence, federal investigations
Speculation and unconfirmed reports have run rampant over Apple's progress in its effort to revamp its iTunes music services, with recent reports suggesting the company may have difficulty hitting its planned June target for formally introducing both a revised Music app for iOS in the forthcoming iOS 8.4, and a significantly revamped iTunes Radio and Beats Music streaming service designed to compete with Spotify. Various reports, however, claim obstacles -- ranging from music label reluctance to federal investigations.
Work on Cox network infrastructure could lead to Gigabit Internet expansion this summer
Cox Communications is catching up with rivals Google Fiber, Comcast, and AT&T in offering gigabit Internet to more of its residential customers. Initially announced a year ago, the company's "G1gablast" service has gone live in parts of Phoenix, AZ; Orange County, CA; and Omaha, Nebraska, and Las Vegas, NV, earlier than the initially anticipated launch by the end of next year.
Desktop-style apps on mobile unlikely to woo switchers, but still points new direction
Although Microsoft is lagging as very distant third in the smartphone space, it has not yet given up on the hope that it can eventually gain some market traction. At its Build developers conference last week, the Redmond software giant revealed the shape of things to come from its smartphones in the near future. The most intriguing features demonstrated for Windows 10 on smartphones was Continuum, its new desktop mode for a smartphone connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Although it hasn't been revealed in its final form, Continuum promises to reconfigure a Windows 10 smartphone interface on-the-fly so that users can interact with its apps in a desktop environment much as they would do with a PC. Is it a game changer?
Spent $99M in two consecutive quarters on costs associated with TWC purchase
Comcast's failed attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable cost the cable company a considerable amount of money, according to analysis of its earnings reports. While the transaction would have cost $45.2 billion if it did indeed go through, Comcast has apparently spent at least $336 million to get the purchase moving over the last five quarters, before it ended.
Some stores had been supporting the service unofficially alongside NFC rivals
Contrary to earlier media reports that suggested Home Depot would drop the mobile payments service, in fact the company has announced that it formally plans to support Apple Pay throughout its entire US operation, making it the largest retailer thus far to support Apple's mobile-payments platform. The announcement comes alongside, and will not replace, stores' acceptance of payment rival PayPal, and the chain says it may continue to add other payment forms.
Microsoft barred from registering european trade mark for Skype
Microsoft has suffered a second trademark-related blow from satellite broadcaster Sky, following a second ruling against the software producer in an EU court. The ruling declared that the Skype name is too similar to Sky's own trademark, and therefore could easily confuse consumers signing up for the service, expecting something produced by the broadcaster.
Support for Apple's NFC-based mobile payment system also benefits rivals
Apple has again updated its list of Apple Pay partners by adding another 24 credit unions and banks, with a strong emphasis on credit unions in the latest additions. Personal and branded cards from the financial institutions can be added to Apple Pay in most cases, though small-business and sub-branded speciality cards may not always be compatible. Since its launch last fall, Apple Pay has nearly instantly become the most popular of the various mobile-payment services, despite only being available on the iPhone 6 (and now, Apple Watch).
Multinational tax haven ruling will wait to prevent sacrificing the rule of law
Europe's anti-trust agency, the European Commission (EC) will miss its own internal deadline for a ruling on the tax probe it has underway against Apple, Starbucks, and Amazon. Citing the need for justice and accuracy in its ruling, EC chief Margrethe Vestager said that "we will not sacrifice the rule of law or the quality of our work to speed up the process."
European Court of Justice to advise on legality of web links to unpublished content
The European Court of Justice (CJEU) is going to revisit the question of whether or not linking to infringing material online is infringing in its own right. A lawsuit between an entertainment blog and the publisher of Playboy in the Netherlands over the leaking of unpublished photographs has led to the CJEU being asked to clarify current European copyright law in relation to content linking.
Big providers, trade groups try to suspend FCC enforcement of net neutrality
Groups comprised of America's largest Internet providers have opted to file legal requests to suspend any enforcement of the FCC's recent reclassification of broadband providers as common carriers, as defined by Title II of the Communications Act, until the lawsuits to repeal that decision can be settled. Requests were filed by four trade associations with the FCC, with at least one of the requests indicating that an answer is requested by May 8, in time for requests for a stay to be filed with the courts.
Bill would suspend mass-collection efforts, require legal justifications
The USA Freedom Act (PDF file) was reintroduced in the US House of Representatives recently. It proposes to curtail the mass collection of the telephone records of US citizens under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, , and force intelligence agencies to justify selective acquisition -- more in accordance with the principles laid out in the US Constitution. The bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 25-2.
Ex-YouTube employees allegedly acquired by Comcast for video service
More details for Comcast's rumored rival to the YouTube video streaming service have reportedly surfaced. Not content with its existing battle against the search company's fiber Internet project, Comcast is allegedly planning to launch a service which will provide "short-form programs" similar to some of the more popular channels and content available on YouTube today.
High-speed service coming to city Comcast sued to stop municipal fiber network
Comcast has announced a new location that will receive its 2Gbps fiber Internet service, one that it has a litigious history with. Chattanooga, Tennessee will be getting the new Gigabit Pro service starting in June, a city that at one time Comcast sued to try and prevent the city's municipal fiber network from being constructed and competing against Comcast itself.
AT&T finalizes acquisition of Nextel Mexico for $1.88 billion
AT&T has completed its acquisition of Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings. Approved by the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, overseeing the restructuring of NII Holdings, as well as Mexico's telecom regulator IFT, the transaction costs AT&T $1.88 billion and grants them the spectrum licenses, network assets, retail stores, and subscribers covered by the network. This is the second Mexico-related purchase completed by the carrier, having already acquired Iusacell.
Apple poaching more BBC Radio 1 producers for upgrade to Beats Music, iTunes Radio
Following the hiring of influential former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe in February as part of both iTunes Radio and a speculated revamp of the Beats Music service, a trade magazine for the music industry has reported that as many as four other top producers for Radio 1 are leaving to join Lowe to work on the revamped subscription service at Apple, which could be announced as early as June's Worldwide Developer Conference.
Stylus technology could help Microsoft improve handwriting input in apps
Microsoft has acquired the technology behind the Surface Pen used in the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3. The acquisition from Israel-based patent holder N-trig allows Microsoft to invest in improvements to the stylus, as well as making it harder for other tablet manufacturers to use the same technology in newer tablets, without Microsoft's agreement.
Full year financial report reveals Sony's restructuring efforts may be working
Sony anticipates a major change in its finances over the next year, with its full-year financial report predicting its operating profit will greatly increase. The company expects to achieve an operating profit of 320 billion yen ($2.7 billion) for the year ending March 2016, more than four times the 68.5 billion ($571 million) it reported for the year ending March 2015, as well as a net profit of 140 billion yen ($1.2 billion) compared to this year's 126 billion yen ($1 billion) net loss.
Amazon Instant Video iOS app adds HD video, cellular streaming
Amazon Instant Video now allows iOS users to watch HD content. Version 3.0 of the app upgrades the available resolution from standard definition to HD for both TV shows and movies. The same update adds cellular streaming to the app for the first time, as well as new mobile data usage settings, and also introduces streaming of content to an Apple TV using AirPlay.
Powerwall can store generated solar power, charge from grid at cheaper times of day
Electric car manufacturer Tesla has launched a new product, designed for the home. The Powerwall is a large battery connected to the building's power supply that can be used to store excess electricity produced from solar panels for use at a later time when energy generated doesn't cover energy usage, with the ultimate aim of saving its users money in the long run.
Commission may demand back taxes avoided due to Irish corporate tax laws
Apple has filed its latest quarterly report with the US government, and in so doing noted that an ongoing European Commission investigation of Ireland and its government's corporate tax rate could "require Ireland to recover from the company past taxes covering a period of up to 10 years reflective of the disallowed state aid," calling that potential amount "material." While difficult to gauge, the eventual impact could be in the billions for Apple.
New apps tailored for eldercare, long-term monitoring of patients
As part of Apple's partnership with IBM, a new deal has been struck with Japan Post Holdings to improve elder care in the country. IBM will combine forces with Apple and Japan Post, which provides insurance and healthcare solutions in addition to mail delivery, to develop software to assist with information transmission, communications with family, and help monitor health parameters of customers.