Apple Joins Nearly 100 U.S. Firms to File Legal Brief Opposing Trump's Immigration Ba

Feb 06, 2017 - 1:16 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple has joined 96 other companies in filing a legal brief opposing President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

Other technology companies named in the amicus brief include Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Snap, Uber, Twitter, and Intel, with consumer goods companies like Levi Strauss and Chobani also named in the brief. Amazon wasn't listed, with the company's CEO Jeff Bezos already backing the original lawsuit brought by Washington state's attorney general that brought a temporary halt to the immigration ban on Friday.

The brief was filed late Sunday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, highlighting the importance of immigrants to the economy and for society as a whole, and arguing the unlawfulness of the ban. According to the report, the filing of the brief was originally planned later this week, but the companies involved accelerated efforts over the weekend following other legal challenges to the order.

"The Order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years," the brief stated. "Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list."

"Immigrants make many of the Nation's greatest discoveries, and create some of the country's most innovative and iconic companies. America has long recognized the importance of protecting ourselves against those who would do us harm. But it has done so while maintaining our fundamental commitment to welcoming immigrants – through increased background checks and other controls on people seeking to enter our country."

The brief comes in support of a lawsuit from Minnesota and Washington states, brought against Trump's controversial executive order temporarily barring citizens of the predominantly Muslim-countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, from entering the U.S.

"Of course, the federal government can and should implement targeted, appropriate adjustments to the nation's immigration system to enhance the Nation's security," the filing continued. "But a broad, open-ended ban - together with an indication that the ban could be expanded to other countries without notice - does not fit the goal of making the country more secure. Instead, it will undermine American interests."

The filing went on to criticize the Trump administration's handling of the travel ban, claiming that it sows confusion and threatens companies' ability to attract skilled workers in the long run.

Last week, Tim Cook said that Apple was considering its legal options as a way to pressure the Trump administration into rescinding the executive order. Reports later emerged that Apple was involved in collaborative efforts with other tech companies to draft a letter opposing Trump's order, but those discussions rapidly developed into the amicus filing, after Washington state's lawsuit on Friday. The amicus is currently being heard in the ninth
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Apple's international iTunes business moves to Ireland on Feb. 5

Jan 27, 2017 - 12:24 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple has assigned a definitive date to the planned relocation of its international iTunes assets, saying the iTunes Store, Apple Music, the App Store and iBooks Store businesses will make the transition to Cork, Ireland, in early February.

The official relocation timeline was disclosed in a note sent out to developers on Thursday. Apple Distribution International will conduct the transfer of its international iTunes business, which serves more than 100 countries, from Luxembourg to Cork on Feb. 5, Apple says.

After managing Apple's overseas operations since 2004, the Luxembourg branch will cease to be on Feb. 4.

The company is making the transition as seamless as possible for content owners. For example, developer contracts were automatically transferred to Apple Distribution International in September. In addition, customers looking to buy apps made by developers based in Ireland can do so free of Irish VAT thanks to Apple's special exporter status.

Apple informed developers of the forthcoming move in September, with reports at the time estimating the transfer to be worth some $9 billion in assets.

The transfer comes amid rising tensions between Apple, Ireland and the European Union. Last August, the European Commission concluded a years-long investigation into Apple's Irish business, slamming the company with a $14.5 billion bill for back taxes.

According to investigators, the sweetheart tax deals Apple from which Apple benefits are in breach of regional regulations and amount to illegal state aid.

Ireland is one stop in the infamous —but legal —"Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich" strategy multinational corporations like Apple leverage to save billions of dollars in taxes each year. At its most basic level, the "Double Irish" provision allows companies with operations in Ireland to route profits to another Irish subsidiary. This subsidiary claims tax residency in a tax-free nation. Companies like Apple and Google assign patents to these secondary subsidiaries to funnel profit on royalties to tax havens such as the Caribbean.

Apple adds a wrinkle to the process by first piping international profits through yet another subsidiary in the Netherlands before routing the funds through the Irish subsidiary. Ireland and the Netherlands hold treaties that allow money to cross borders tax free.

Beyond bouncing income around the world, Apple enjoys an incredibly low tax rate in Ireland. In 2014, for example, the company paid 0.005 percent on its European profits, much lower than Ireland's standard corporate tax rate.

For its part, Apple contends its tax practices are above board. To that end, both Apple and Ireland are appealing the EU ruling.


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Seven Years Ago Today: Steve Jobs Introduces the iPad

Jan 27, 2017 - 12:21 PM - by sparkyscott21

After teasing fans to "come see our latest creation" in the weeks leading up to one of its famous media events, seven years ago today former Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first-generation iPad to the world. The iPad was announced as a larger-screen counterpart to the company's three-years-old iPhone, with Scott Forstall pointing out during the conference that the tablet could run "virtually every" iPhone app thanks to an on-screen button that users could press to scale the app's resolution up and down on a whim.

The original iPad launched with a 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 resolution touch screen, in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. The 1.5lb tablet included Apple's A4 chip and was priced at $499, $599, and $699 for Wi-Fi only models, and $629, $729, and $829 for Wi-Fi + 3G models in each respective capacity. The Wi-Fi version debuted on April 3, 2010, while users interested in Wi-Fi and 3G had to wait until April 30 for Apple's new tablet.

Steve Jobs on the iPad:

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

After the event in 2010, initial reactions to the iPad were largely positive, with sites like Engadget calling it "blazingly fast" and remarking that the tablet had no lag when hopping around its various apps. The screen was thought to be "stunning" and the iPad's iBooks application impressed, thanks to its flipping page animations and library-inspired bookshelf space for eBooks that upheld Apple's then popular skeuomorphic iOS design.

The original iPad's largest drawback centered on its substantial 1.5lb weight, as well as the lack of Flash in its operating system, no multitasking, and no camera. Seven years later, Apple has iterated on its original design and addressed most of these user complaints with each update to the iPad.

The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs about the same as the original iPad at 1.57lbs, and still runs a larger version of iOS, but it's thinner (6.9mm vs 13mm) and is the "most capable and powerful" iPad yet, according to Apple, putting it on par with desktop-class machines.

While the iPad saw strong early adoption, Apple has experienced sales declines in the past few years, with users replacing their iPads less frequently than iPhones. Most commonly, users update their iPhones every year or two, while finding their iPads remain serviceable for longer.

In the company's annual earnings report last October focusing on the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016, iPad sales were down slightly to 9.3 million from 9.9 million in the same year-ago quarter. Although they were also infamously down in sales in 2016, Apple still sold 45.5 million iPhones in the same quarter, down from
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Apple Support iPhone app reaches 22 markets with additions like France & UK

Jan 26, 2017 - 12:25 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple's official Support app for iPhone and iPad is now available to download in 22 regions, some additions this week being France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Available free through the App Store, the app is meant to simplify accessing Apple's support system, providing quick links to chat, phone, and email as well as tools for scheduling appointments with a Genius Bar or other service providers. It also identifies devices associated with an Apple ID, and displays guides for common tasks and issues.

Unusually, Apple first launched the app in the Netherlands in November, only bringing it to the U.S. the following month alongside Turkey and Sweden. Apple normally prioritizes the U.S. with app, service, and device launches.

The company may have picked a smaller intro market to limit fallout from any problems. The U.S. is Apple's biggest individual market, and a faulty support app could have created major headaches there.

Apple promised a global expansion shortly after the U.S. came onboard.

The full region list includes Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.


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Investment firm BlackRock increases stake in Apple stock, now owns 6.1% of shares

Jan 23, 2017 - 12:43 PM - by sparkyscott21

The world's largest asset management firm BlackRock has increased its holdings in Apple, with a regulatory filing revealing its total ownership in the company is now over 322 million shares, worth approximately $38.4 billion.

A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission confirms the investment firm owns 322,683,504 shares in total, which works out to be a 6.1 percent stake in Apple. The figure is up from the same time last year, as in January 2016 BlackRock owned a 5.7 percent stake in the iPhone producer.

The news of BlackRock's increased ownership in Apple has positively affected the markets, with Yahoo Finance noting the Apple stock price has risen by 0.3 percent to $120.11.

As the largest investment firm, BlackRock has considerable holdings in other major tech companies, owning at least five percent of Microsoft, Facebook, and HP. BlackRock also has a seat on the Apple board, with co-founder and current chief operating officer Susan Wagner the second woman to do so after replacing the long-serving Bill Campbell in 2014.

Earlier this week, Apple's stock price reached a 14-month high, while Morgan Stanley rated Apple as "overweight" and set a price target for the company's shares of $148. As part of the rating, Morgan Stanley's estimates for the fiscal 2017 iPhone revenue were reduced by 3 percent due to anticipated "weak demand" ahead of an iPhone "supercycle."


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Rumor: FaceTime group video calls to debut in iOS 11

Jan 23, 2017 - 12:40 PM - by sparkyscott21

Potentially fulfilling a long-standing iPhone and iPad feature request, FaceTime might finally support group video calls with iOS 11, a report claimed on Friday.

Following the release cycle of past iOS debuts, iOS 11 will be announced in June and make "social" elements like FaceTime and Messages a focus, Israeli site The Verifier said, citing sources familiar with iOS development. In particular, group video calls are supposedly set for introduction in the next-generation operating system.

According to sources, users will have to initiative a group FaceTime video call from a group chat in Messages. Up to five people should be able to participate.

A June announcement would coincide with Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event typically focuses on OS updates planned to ship later in the year, giving developers an early glimpse at them and a chance to build or update apps with support.

The Verifier is a relatively unknown site, but group video calls are already a common feature in other iOS communications apps such as Google Hangouts and Microsoft's Skype.

FaceTime has been limited to one-to-one communication since its 2010 debut, despite improvements in processor speeds and network bandwidth. That Apple has dragged its feet on multi-user video chat integration has given breathing room to third-party apps, even though FaceTime is for many the de facto video calling solution for iOS and macOS.


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