Report: iTunes Movies and iBooks Stores in China Ordered Closed by Chinese State

Apr 22, 2016 - 12:15 PM - by sparkyscott21



Last week, the iTunes Movies and iBooks stores mysteriously went down in China. A new New York Times report says the stores were forced down by the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.


Initially, Apple apparently had the government’s approval to introduce the services. But then a regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, asserted its authority and demanded the closings, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.


An Apple spokeswoman said the company "hoped to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible." The store closures come six months after they were launched alongside Apple Music in the country.

Compared to other tech companies, Apple has had success in launching new ventures in the China. Most recently, Apple launched Apple Pay in the country in partnership with UnionPay, China's state-run interbank network.

After the shutdown of the two stores, China's President Xi Jinping conducted a meeting on China's restrictive internet policies with Alibaba's Jack Ma, Huawei's Ren Zhengfei and other tech leaders in the country, according to The NYT. Daniel H. Rosen, a founding partner at Rhodium Group, a firm that specializes in the Chinese economy, tells The New York Times that China has an interest in promoting Chinese tech companies while attempting to reduce the impact of foreign tech giants like Apple in the country.

Apple is one of eight companies that China has targeted for being "too deeply established in the country's core industries" according to The New York Times. Other companies on China's list include IBM, Qualcomm and Microsoft. Earlier today it was reported that local Chinese handset makers like Huawei faced inventory losses and squeezed market share following the launch of the iPhone SE.

Apple has worked to grow its business in China, now its second biggest market, spending several years in negotiations with China Mobile, the country's largest carrier, to bring the iPhone to its 700 million customers. The two agreed to a deal in 2013. Tim Cook has also made several visits to the country, with Apple also planning to expand its retail efforts.

Last November, when asked whether Apple had run into censorship problems in China, Eddy Cue said that the company had a "great working relationship" with China and that the launch of Apple Music and the iTunes Movies and iBooks stores showed that Apple knew how to work in the country.

4/22 update: The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post has linked the store closures to the release of controversial independent movie Ten Years, which won best picture prize at this month’s Hong Kong Film Awards, despite being banned in China. News of the store closures broke shortly before the movie became available on iTunes in Hong Kong. The dystopian film imagines Hong Kong in 2025 with language police, mini Red Guards, radical protest and social
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Steve Wozniak Says Apple Should Pay 50% Tax Rate

Apr 22, 2016 - 12:13 PM - by sparkyscott21



Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has spoken out in favor of Apple and all other companies in the world paying the same 50% tax rate he does, calling anything less "unfair".

In an interview with the BBC published this morning, Wozniak, who left Apple in 1986, said that every company in the world should pay the same rate he pays as an individual. "I do a lot of work, I do a lot of travel and I pay over 50% of anything I make in taxes and I believe that's part of life and you should do it," he said.

Tax avoidance has been brought back into focus by the recent Panama Papers revelations, a huge leak of documents that lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth.

Asked about companies maximizing profit and the related issue of tax havens, Wozniak said he was personally never interested in making money, unlike his former partner, Steve Jobs. "Jobs started Apple Computers for money, that was his big thing and that was extremely important and critical and good," he said. "[But] we didn't think we'd be figuring out how to go off to the Bahamas and have special accounts like people do to try to hide their money."

"On the other hand," he continued, "any company that is a public company, its shareholders are going to force it to be as profitable as possible and that means financial people studying all the laws of the world and figuring out all the schemes that work that are technically legal. They're technically legal and it bothers me and I would not live my life that way."

Asked if he worried that Apple had moved so far away from its founding principles that it was now looking to actively pay less tax, Wozniak replied: "The company we founded in 1976 knew that we would be a worldwide company selling huge amounts of computers everywhere, and we just assumed we would pay taxes on it. And maybe the tax rates are different for a company than they are for a person, but that's something that bothers me to this day."

Apple is one of several multinational corporations that have been targeted for possible corporate tax avoidance in Europe. In September 2014, the European Commission formally accused it of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland, where it has reportedly paid a reduced tax rate of around 1.8% on its overseas profits.

In a March hearing at the European Parliament's tax committee, Apple claimed it was the "largest taxpayer in the world", in 2015 paying $13.2 billion in taxes worldwide at an effective tax rate of 36.4%.

Earlier this month, candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination for the United States, Bernie Sanders, said he wished Apple would stop trying not to pay its fair share of taxes and move some of its manufacturing to the U.S.

Tim Cook has previously said that Apple pays all of the taxes that it owes. In a December interview with Charlie Rose, he said accusations Apple avoids taxes on revenue held overseas is "total political crap". "There is no truth behind it," he
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Time offers glowing profile of Apple CEO Tim Cook in latest '100 Most Influential Peo

Apr 22, 2016 - 12:11 PM - by sparkyscott21



Time Magazine on Thursday published the 2016 edition of its annual 100 Most Influential People list, once again including Apple CEO Tim Cook among its chosen politicians, artists, celebrities, and corporate executives.

Cook's profile was written by Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of Disney, and a member of Apple's board of directors. Iger used the opportunity to promote Cook as a "leader of great courage and character," with high ethical standards, and a willingness to encourage "vital conversations about who we are as a culture and a community."

Iger suggested that Cook has led Apple's brand to "new heights," both in terms of its industry status and how the public perceives its values.

Since Cook assumed control of the company from Steve Jobs in 2011, Apple has adopted a more openly political stance, for instance tackling LGBT rights and environmental issues. Perhaps more controversially Cook has ramped up a focus on privacy, entering into high-profile skirmishes with the U.S. government over encryption. iOS 8 and 9 — developed under Cook's watch — are so secure that with a passcode enabled, even Apple claims it can't crack them, short of rewriting the software's code.

Cook is a regular staple of Time, appearing not only in lists but often in feature interviews, particularly when a new product is expected to launch.





4-22-16

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Apple's iTunes reopens American Red Cross donations for Japan, Ecuador earthquake

Apr 22, 2016 - 12:07 PM - by sparkyscott21



After a pair of massive earthquakes rocked Japan and Ecuador last week, and the threat of aftershocks still present, Apple on Thursday reactivated its iTunes donation system to support American Red Cross relief efforts in the regions.

As it has done with past international disasters, Apple added an American Red Cross link and card to the main iTunes store page. Clicking through will take users to a special page accepting gifts in $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or $200 denominations.

Those who choose to donate through iTunes will see 100 percent of proceeds go directly to Red Cross, though the organization is unable to further recognize contributions as Apple does not pass along personal donor information.

Last Thursday a magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures in southwest Japan, an event followed by a larger magnitude 7.3 tremor one day later. A total of 48 deaths have been attributed to the two quakes, which were accompanied by more than 680 aftershocks felt throughout the region, Reuters reports.

While Japan has for decades made efforts to bolster its infrastructure against an imminent earthquake threat, Ecuador has not. On Saturday, a magnitude 7.8 quake wreaked havoc on the South American nation, leaving a trail of destruction in heavily populated coastal areas like Manabi Province. CNN reports Ecuador's Risk Management Office has tallied at least 570 deaths as of Wednesday.





4-22-16

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Siri & Liam star in Apple's new Earth Day TV ad

Apr 22, 2016 - 11:59 AM - by sparkyscott21



Marking Earth Day, Apple on Friday debuted a new TV commercial, using Siri to promote its custom-designed recycling robot — Liam — and its branding as an environmentally-responsible company.

The 24-second spot shows Siri running on an iPhone held by a Liam unit. Siri asks the robot what it's doing for Earth Day, only to be "killed" once Liam starts stripping the iPhone apart.

Apple has launched a multi-pronged marketing campaign for this year's Earth Day. These include the company's standard tactics, such as turning the leaf green on Apple Store logos, as well as unique approaches, such as a video claiming people are helping the environment by using iMessage.

Liam was introduced at the company's March 21 press event, and was designed to strip iPhones and other devices into discrete parts, which in turn can be salvaged for recyclable materials. At the same time, the company can remove potentially hazardous chemicals.

The robot is not yet believed to be in widespread use, and indeed much of Apple's e-waste recycling is non-Apple products handled by outside parties.








4-22-16

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Apple invention prevents headphone audio dropouts in hybrid wired/wireless designs

Apr 21, 2016 - 2:38 PM - by sparkyscott21



An Apple patent application covering a wireless hybrid headphone system was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, suggesting the company is continuing work on a Lightning-equipped audio product some expect will replace wired EarPods if and when iPhone ships without a 3.5mm headphone jack.

As published, Apple's patent application for "Audio class-compliant charging accessories for wireless headphones and headsets" details a headphone device and supporting hardware capable of seamlessly switching between wired and wireless listening modes.

Unlike traditional headphones that terminate in a 3.5mm TRRS (tip, ring, ring, sleeve) plug, Apple's invention employs an electrical connector compatible with both digital and analog signals, requirements the proprietary Lightning protocol satisfies. An ideal connector would employ a plurality of contacts to transfer power and audio data — via differential signaling — from a host device to the headphone. This arrangement allows for a single cable to both charge and control the device, eliminating the potential for ground loops that compromise audio fidelity.

In addition to wired contacts, Apple's proposed headphone includes an internal battery, processor, memory and antenna and wireless transceiver package for communicating with a user device. An iPhone, for example, is able to charge the headphone while being communicatively coupled to the device.







The key to Apple's invention is its handling of audio transmission signals. In practice, a user device communicates with the headphone both through wired and wireless interfaces, sending a packet of authentication data (including, but not limited to, audio) over for decision logic processing. This data is used by control circuitry to determine that the headphone connected via wired communication module is the same device as the headphone connected over wireless.

When a successful match is found, audio data sent to the headphone device via wired or wireless communications module is collected in a hardware buffer, or onboard memory. The headphone is able to fall back on this buffered audio when a user switches from wired to wireless playback, or vice versa, an action that normally results in audio dropouts as the system re-establishes communications.

As for design, the document keeps things vague, noting all supporting hardware can fit into in-ear, on-ear and over-ear styles.







Whether Apple will incorporate the technology into a next-generation headphone is unclear. Last November rumors surfaced claiming Apple plans to remove iPhone's 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of a wireless or Lightning solution. The company
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