Since 1993, California has had a tax deduction that allowed startup investors who invested in small businesses to not pay taxes on the money made from selling stock, as long as they reinvested that money in more small businesses. This deduction was aimed at encouraging angel investors and others to invest in small businesses.
Well, the tax break has been ruled unconstitutional because it benefits companies based in California over other states. This ruling came about when Frank Cutler sued back in 1998. The Franchise Tax Board has agreed to honor the ruling, and removed the deduction this past December, applying it retroactively back to 2008.
This means investors who sold their stock in a small business after 2008 will have to pay up taxes that they never thought they would. It's a bit unfair to apply the change retroactively, at least in my opinion, and it should have some consequences and ramifications that extend beyond just this $120 million in back taxes.
Users of Microsoft products and Google's online calendar and contact services can breathe a sigh of relief. Google has agreed to Microsoft's six-month extension request, meaning the Exchange ActiveSync protocol will continue to function until July 31, rather than being phased out today.
During this time period, Microsoft will be working on a confirmed fix. In other words, Microsoft has decided to support CalDAV and CardDAV, Google's new method of syncing data from their online services. Microsoft has said they will "enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after July 31, 2013."
Microsoft had tried to move users to their Outlook.com product, saying that it would continue working without a hitch. It's good to see two tech giants working together for the better of the consumer.
LG have released their quarterly and year-end earnings, and we're seeing the South Korean electronics giant post a net profit of $80.75 million. Revenues overall saw a decline of 6% from last year, but operating profit soared from $342.06 million for 2011, to $1.01 billion last year.
LG's TV division saw record sales and a full-year profit of over $480 million, while their cellphone division revenue for Q4 was the highest throughout 2012, where they shipped 8.6 million smartphones.
I'm sure that can be contributed toward the Optimus G and Nexus 4 handsets, which are both stellar devices.
The Apple versus Samsung lawsuit just got more interesting, with Judge Lucy Koh handing down some of the first rulings in the case's post-trial proceedings. Koh granted an Apple motion to invalidate some claims of a Samsung patent, but denied five others.
Koh found th at Samsung did not act willfully in infringing on Apple's patents, which means Apple's chance of getting triple damages associated with the suit are now gone. Koh rejected Samsung's request for a new trial, too. What happens from here is anyone's guess, but we could see a reduction in the $1.049 billion infringement verdict, but she hasn't offered any rulings on that just yet.
You can read much, much more on it here.
When you've got nothing nice to say, the rule is to say nothing nice at all, so it looks like Amazon are playing this game with Kindle sales, as their lips are still sealed shut. On the flip side, their e-book business is churning through money like it's nothing.
Amazon's e-book business is now a very tidy "multi-billion dollar category" for the US-based retail giant. Amazon had sold out of their e-reader last year, with Amazon's CFO, Tom Szkutak, saying during their earnings call yesterday that if they didn't sell out of their Kindle's, they would've had much higher sales numbers - all without unveiling just how many they sold.
Szkutak was pushed by an analyst who wondered why the company's revenue was lower than expected for Q4, where the CFO cited a number of reasons - sales of consumer electronics fell short of expectations, as well as the shortages of the Kindle Paperwhite. He said:
We are thrilled to have Paperwhite in our lineup - it's the best e-reader out there, but we couldn't keep up with demand. We would have had more sales in Q4 if we could keep up with demand. The team is working hard to have good stock going forward on that product.
Apple had an interesting 2012 in terms of patents and trademarks, but one of the first (and I'm guessing, of many) trademarks for 2013 is something a little different - the design and layout of their retail stores.
Apple have tried for a couple of years now to trademark their iconic store designs, with the US Patent and Trademark Office rejecting their trademark twice. The USPTO said that Apple's design weren't "inherently distinctive", forcing the Cupertino-based giant to file a 122-page document arguing their case - this document included consumer surveys and photos of their storefronts.
On their third try, Apple were approved for their trademark which covers the use of a "paneled facade" of glass, recessed lighting units, and line rectangular tables. Apple have also got protection on their glass staircases, in case you were wondering.
Philips have just bowed out of the consumer electronics market, and are now focusing all of their energies into the medical equipment and lightning businesses. Philips have sold their consumer electronics business to Japanese manufacturer Funai Electric Co. for $201 million.
Philips' CEO, Frans van Houten talked to The Wall Street Journal, saying "Since we have online entertainment, people do not buy Blu-ray and DVD players anymore."
This is true though - as most consumer electronics are pretty much identical these days as the content displayed on them is completely online. Myself, I use a Samsung Smart TV and don't use any of the 'smart' features apart from two times in eight months I've used Skype. Everything comes from a networked media player, streaming from my QNAP NAS. There should be many changes in the consumer market with more players shifting and changing in the coming years.
Google, as part of its Google Giving program, is providing 15,000 UK students with Raspberry Pi computers. The Raspberry Pi is a cheap $35 computer that uses an ARM processor on a tiny integrated circuit board. Google is looking to inspire more students to learn coding, which is why they have donated the funds to purchase 15,000 units.
Some quick math and we find out that Google has donated just over $500k for these boards. The announcement was made at Chersterton Community College in Cambridge by Google Chariman Eric Schmidt and Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Google has partnered with six educational organizations in the UK to identify which students to give the units to.
CBS Interactive has filed a response to an injunction that is keeping CNET's journalists from talking about bit torrent technology. The injunction alleges that by CNET talking about, and linking to, P2P software that can be used for illegal purposes, they are encouraging users and causing it to become more pervasive.
CBSI has responded to the injunction claiming just the opposite. They say that because they provide warnings about not using the technology to infringe on copyrights, they are actually doing more good. They warn that the software is still publicly available and wouldn't come with these warnings if found by a Google search.
If CBSI were enjoined from linking to sites that offer downloads of BitTorrent clients, those sites would still remain available to the public and would still be easily found by a simple search on Google - albeit without the warning against infringement that CBSI provides. Moreover, the public interest would be damaged by denying legitimate and truthful information about a pervasive technology, as well as by impending non-infriging uses.
The bit torrent technology has many benefits and uses besides illegal downloading. Bit torrent swarms can provide theoretically unlimited bandwidth and download speed because they can provide an unlimited number of peers. It also works great for redundancy as one server can go down and the file is still available from many other sources, albeit at a reduced speed.
THQ was broken apart last week, with bits and pieces being sold to other companies in various forms. Now we're hearing that Crysis developer, Crytek, have just opened up a new studio based in Austin, Texas, and have filled it with some of the core developers from Vigil Games.
Vigil Games are the guys and girls behind Darksiders, but with THQ sinking, they were left without anything to do, until Crytek come to their rescue. Ex-Vigil co-founder, David Adams, has now become the CEO of the newly-formed Crytek USA Corp., where he has said:
I'm thrilled to be a part of the newest Crytek studio, which will boast some of the brightest development talent in the industry. The studio's launch represents Crytek's commitment to delivering diverse and high quality content to players everywhere.
WhatsApp is the subject of a joint report by Dutch and Canadian authorities which asserts that the app is violating privacy laws in both countries. The problem is that the app requires access to both users and non-users in a user's address book, which is apparently against the law in Canada and Netherlands.
"This lack of choice contravenes (Canadian and Dutch) privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp," said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.
According to the report, WhatsApp stores mobile numbers of non-users from a user's contact list, which violates Dutch privacy laws. The Dutch Data Protection Authority has said that financial penalties could be imposed if WhatsApp continues this practice. WhatsApp has committed to making changes to protect users' privacy.
Following in the footsteps of Google, Twitter has released its second transparency report. The report details that Twitter complied with 69 percent of US data requests, which is less than the 88 percent of requests that Google responded to. It seems that Twitter puts a bit more effort in blocking data requests.
The report also detailed that the US government led the pack in sheer quantity of data requests. For last year, Twitter said it received a total of 1,858 requests for information from governments, 6,646 reports of copyright violations, and 48 demands from governments demanding material to be removed.
We've been thinking about ways in which we can more effectively share this information, with an aim to make it more meaningful and accessible to the community at largeWe believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. To that end, it is vital for us (and other Internet services) to be transparent about government requests for user information and government requests to withhold content from the Internet; these growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression -- and real privacy implications.
815 cases came from the United States government, with 69 percent of those being fulfilled to some capacity. 60 percent of the US requests were from subpoenas, 11 percent were court orders, and 19 percent were search warrants.
Google thought it was out of the woods after it settled allegations of tracking Safari users even though their settings were set to "Do Not Track." It looks like they don't have this fully behind them quite yet as 12 Safari users in the UK have filed suit against the company over the tracking fiasco.
Law firm Olswang is handling the case and states that between summer 2011 and spring 2012, cookies were used to track Safari users, even though Google promised not to. "Google has a responsibility to consumers and should be accountable for the trust placed in them. We hope that they will take this opportunity to give Safari users a proper explanation about what happened, to apologize and, where appropriate, compensate the victims of their intrusion," says Olswang partner Dan Tench.
Prior to this lawsuit, representatives of the US government fined Google $22.5 million for the same cause of action. This lends some credibility and standing to the lawsuit. Because of this, it's somewhat likely Google will settle out of court with the twelve users.
It looks like Chinese officials are in discussions to remove their ban on gaming consoles that has been in place for twelve years now. If this ban is lifted, it would open a gigantic market for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo - without even considering Valve's Steam Box, the OUYA console, and more.
The news is coming from China Daily, where they have a source within the Ministry of Culture telling the paper:
We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market.
Lifting the ban won't be easy, as it requires all seven ministries that issued the ban to approve the decision to lift the ban itself. The ban was implemented originally in order to protect impressionable youth from video games. A grey market for consoles exists in the country, but lifting the ban should see all sorts of new markets popping up - developers, retailers, and more.
There was a time when the Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone was the undisputed champion, overlooking the grassy knolls quietly whispering 'this changes everything, again' to itself, but those days are behind it thanks to huge competition coming in from what seems like all sides.
Well, Asia's more well-off consumers in Singapore and Hong Kong are slowly switching from iPhone's to the competition - something Reuters is reporting as 'iPhone fatigue'. The problem also comes from consumers wanting to try out other brands, such as South Korea-based Samsung's Galaxy range of devices, seriously chewing into Apple's market share.
Since 2010, Apple has been completely controlling Singapore in terms of market share, with more devices in Singapore running iOS per capita than anywhere else in the world. This is where StatCounter - gs.statcounter.com, who measure traffic collected from a network of 3 million websites, calculate Apple's share of mobile devices in Singapore.
The Internet has been ruled as an essential part of life in Germany, with a Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe pushing it into law. German law already mandates that citizens can be compensated for the loss of use of essential material items.
This means that citizens have the right to go after compensation if something happens to disrupt their access to the Internet by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). The court reached their verdict after they listened to a case of a man who was unable to use his home Internet connection for nearly two months. This affected both his telephone and fax services, too, making all three inoperable from late 2008 to early 2009.
The man in question had received compensation from the ISP because he had to rely on a mobile phone for Internet connectivity, but he wanted compensation for not being able to use his home Internet connection.
Apple's recently released Supplier Responsibility Report covers the progress they're making for everything from empowering workers to labor and human right issues within their supply chain. The report highlighted results for 393 audits performed over the last twelve months, a 72% increase over the number of audits performed in 2011.
Apple have said that its worker empowerment program providing education on local laws and the company's supplier code of conduct was extended to 1.3 million employees last year. This is a 100% increase in the amount of workers trained in the program since 2008.
The report also had some information regarding a Chinese labor agency that had forged documents for underage employees to work within Apple-connected suppliers. After the company had discovered 74 cases of workers under the age of 16 during an audit of a circuit board supplier in January 2011, Apple cut all ties to their contract with the company and is now going after the agency who did the hiring. The report states:
In January 2012, for example, we audited a supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co., Ltd. (PZ) that produces a standard circuit board component used by many other companies in many industries. Our auditors were dismayed to discover 74 cases of workers under age 16-a core violation of our Code of Conduct. As a result, we terminated our business relationship with PZ.
Poor Apple. Investors continue to hammer the stock, even after they posted their best-ever revenues and profits. Because of this pounding, Apple's market cap has been shrinking and it finally has shrunk enough that Exxon Mobil has regained the title of most valuable company in the world.
Apple's stock prices have fallen to $439.88 at the close of the market, giving Apple a market cap of $413.06 billion. Not too shabby. Exxon Mobile, on the other hand, has a market cap of $418.23 billion. Last January is when Apple took over the top spot as most valuable company, taking it away from Exxon Mobil.
Apple's stock has plunged from the $510 it was before the earnings report came out. Investors are fearful of competitors, such as Samsung, who are quickly gaining ground on the company. They also don't like that Apple's profits are increasing as quickly as they used to be. How low do you think Apple's stock will fall? Let us know in the comments!
Apple sparked a bit of interest when some of the new iMacs arrived with a tag that said "Assembled in USA." May were curious just how much assembly was taking place in the United States and just how many were being assembled in the US. Apple has updated their list of suppliers and it now includes Quanta Computers located in Fremont, California.
Fremont plays host to several tech companies, including Corsair, and now plays host to a Mac assembly factory. Tim Cook has expressed the desire to bring back manufacturing of at least some Macs to the US, so this appears to be one of the first steps in that direction.
If you purchase an iMac assembled in the US, it most likely came from Quanta. Quanta is located at 44350 Nobel Drive Fremont, California, just a stone's throw from Cupertino, Apple's headquarters. It should be noted that Quanta also has a facility in Tennessee, though previous shipping labels have shown devices being shipped from San Jose, CA.
One woman isn't too happy with the date Match.com set her up with. It's an understandable position to take, as the man she met on the dating site stabbed her ten times in an ambush attack that took place in her garage. Because of this, she is suing Match.com for $10 million in compensation.
Mary Kay Beckman argues that Match.com misled her and failed to alert her of the potential dangers of online matchmaking. She met Wade Ridley in September 2010 via the service. Several online conversations took place and after 10 days of dating, she broke it off. The next day, Beckman alleges Ridley sent threatening text messages.
January 2011, he reportedly hid in her garage and stabbed her ten times. Beckman is looking for the $10 million as compensation for the multiple surgeries she underwent.
Beckman says that Match.com misrepresented that the "site was safe, consistently lead[ing] to loving relationships, and was comprised of individuals seeking healthy relationships." The site's terms of service does say that users are solely responsible for interactions.
Just how much does Microsoft charge for a Windows Phone license? If you're Nokia, it's around $1 billion. In Nokia's earnings report, it announced that Microsoft will be getting a $1 billion payment in royalties for using Windows Phone. Previously, Microsoft had paid Nokia "platform support payments," amounting to $250 million each quarter, and this amount always exceeded how much Nokia had to pay Microsoft.
"To date the amount of platform support payments received by Nokia has exceeded the amount of minimum royalty commitment payments to Microsoft," Nokia wrote in its earnings report. "Thus for the remainder of the life of the agreement the total amount of the minimum software royalty commitment payments are expected to exceed the total amount of the platform support payments."
This should indicate that Nokia will be shipping more Windows Phone devices, likely through its popular and flagship line of Lumias. Nokia sold just 4.4 million Lumia devices in the last quarter of 2012, which is 4 times higher than it managed in 2011. Windows Phone continues to increase in popularity, which partially explains why Nokia can ship more devices.
Of course, iOS and Android continue to take the large portion of the market, but this piece of information at least shows that Microsoft and Nokia have a chance. IDC expects Windows Phone market share to increase to 11.4 percent by 2016. It currently sits at about 2.6 percent.