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Apple's Genius Bar's are a staple of Apple's retail dominance, and now German car-maker BMW is stepping up to the plate with a new "BMW Genius Everywhere" program.
BMW have been training their employees to assist customers with questions about their cars and features, even getting iPad's into employees' hands to help them. The German car-maker hope to have these BMW Genius Everywhere setups in the US by "early 2014".
BMW will first launch the program across Europe, where it will jump across the pond to the United States just before their new i3 electric car drives into dealerships in early 2014. BMW will hire associates based on their knowledge versus offering them commission on sales. BMW's Geniuses will be there to help customers, instead of pushing them into new sales.
Australian government going after Apple & Microsoft over the "Australia Tax" that forces up pricing down under
As an Australian myself, it hurts so much to see products so over priced here versus other places in the world. The government here hates it, as they lose out because consumers purchase the goods overseas, bypassing the GST (goods & services tax) that they would normally make.
The Australian government are now stepping in, with the government's IT Pricing Inquiry into something that is known as the "Australia Tax", which is now going after the big boys in Microsoft and Apple. The committee has issued three summonses to appear before the inquiry today to three repeat offenders: Microsoft, Apple and Adobe.
These three companies will appear before the House Committee on March 22 at 9:30am to answer concerns raised by Choice and the ACMA in regards to the "Australia Tax" on goods sold across the country. Federal Member of Chifley, Ed Husic, said:
This is an important move - but one we shouldn't have to take. These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches. In what's probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being called by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the US. Adobe, Apple and Microsoft are just a few firms that have continually defied the public's call for answers and refused to appear before the IT Pricing Inquiry.
YouTube has been slapped with a month long ban in Egypt following the anti-Islamic documentary they hosted that saw deadly riots spring up in north Africa and the Middle East in September last year.
Judge Hassouna Tawfiq ordered the Egyptian government to block access to YouTube for a 30-day period, with human rights activists calling it a backwards step for internet freedom. The ban had not been enacted by Sunday afternoon, with a Google spokesperson saying that they haven't been served with a takedown order just yet.
The Apple versus Samsung news has been dying down a little lately, but it doesn't mean it's gone - we now have Reuters reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook never wanted it to be this way.
Cook was initially opposed to a fight with Samsung, as the South Korean electronics giant had a great relationship with Apple as a component supplier. But it was the late Steve Jobs whose "thermonuclear war" with Android that never stopped, like a terminator against Google.
The current Apple CEO has since continued with the lawsuits, but his preference is to settle decently whenever possible. Cook said late last year "I've always hated litigation, and I continue to hate it."
Apple has been scooping up a bunch of Israel-based former Texas Instruments employees, and will now give them a new place to go to work in the country, their new R&D center in Ra'anana, Israel.
The news comes from Israeli business publication "Globes". In December of 2011, we saw Apple purchase Israel-based flash memory firm Anobit for between $400-$500 million, their second largest acquisition after NeXT. Intel were also laying out dollar bills on the ground to try and lure in some ex-Texas Instruments employees, but it looks like Apple were the winners here.
The Cupertino-based electronics giant were able to grab around 100-150 employees to staff their new development center. Apple will reportedly open up the new R&D center in the city in "the second half of 2013".
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is planning on trading in some 3.2 million of his shares in the company. That equates to roughly 42 percent of his stake in the company which currently stands at about 7.6 million shares of Class A and Class B common stock. Currently, he has about 8.2 percent of the voting power.
At the current stock price, this transaction will net him around $2.5 billion. He intends to sell the stock over a period of one year and will use the cash to diversify his investment portfolio. Google said in today's filing, "Eric can diversify his investment portfolio and can spread stock trades out over a period of one year to reduce market impact."
For comparison, Google founder Sergey Brin holds about 8.5 percent of the voting power and co-founder Larry Page, the current CEO of Google, holds about 8.7 percent. We'll keep an eye on Google's stock to see how this affects the price.
Apple has reportedly hired James (Jueng-Gil) Lee, a former senior researcher on LG Display's R&D team. Prior to that, he worked as a researcher at Cambridge Display Technology and as R&D head for LCD technology at Samsung. Clearly, he's got quite a bit of experience in the television industry.
Unfortunately for Apple, they don't make a TV. But, this hire is sure to add fuel to the rumors of an Apple TV that has been predicted by analysts for at least a year now. Of course, these are just minor details. We'll sure he'll find a good home at Apple, though what he'll be working on isn't known. A good bet would be Apple's displays.
Who here remembers AOL? Yes that AOL, the one famous for bringing America on to the interwebs. Since the rise of broadband and the decline of the much slower 56k connection, AOL has fallen out of the limelight and pretty much out of the business world altogether.
For the last eight year in a row, AOL has reported massive revenue losses that are attributed to its once popular, but now almost nonexistent dial-up internet service. Finical reports recently released show that for the first time in almost a decade, AOL saw revenue growth.
The company reported revenue of $599.5 million in December, a 4% increase from the $576.8 million it generated during the same quarter in 2011. "AOL returned to growth and generated significant value for shareholders in 2012," said Tim Armstrong, AOL's chairman and CEO, in a statement. "AOL has strong momentum entering 2013 and is positioned to continue on our growth path by executing our strategy to build the next generation media and technology company."
The world's largest PC manufacturer is working to make sure its Chinese suppliers aren't using student and temporary workers in their factories. Similar to Apple's current supply chain problems, HP has discovered student workers among those employed by the Chinese factories that supply them with their products.
HP isn't having one bit of it. According to HP's new regulations, a student's work "must complement the primary area of study." Also among the regulations is a cap that limits the ratio of student and temporary workers to 20 percent, though they plan to decrease that to 10 percent in the long run.
The labor issues in the supply chain affect all of the major electronics manufacturers. Apple has trouble with Foxconn and Samsung found unacceptable working conditions in its own factories in China. However, it remains to be seen if these companies will follow the example set by HP.
Bloomberg news is reporting that President Obama is near to issuing an executive order that would deal with the nation's cybersecurity. They cite two former White House officials who have been briefed on the Obama administration's plans. An increase in US cybersecurity is desperately needed as was demonstrated by the recent hack of the Federal Reserve.
This executive order has apparently been in the drafting stages since last fall. It's widely expected to be released after Obama holds his State of the Union address on February 12. It reportedly will set up a voluntary program of standards for companies involved with vital US infrastructure such as, say, a power plant.
We'll definitely have more details after this executive order is released.