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.
Oddly enough, Apple has rejected Samsung's request to view the source code for iOS 6. The request came as part of an on-going legal battle between the two in South Korea. Samsung accuses Apple of infringing upon a patent the electronics giant received back in November of 2006 that relates to the notification center.
Samsung believes that the Apple Notification Center in iOS, added to the operating system in 2011, infringes upon the patent. Samsung argues they need to see the source code of iOS 6 in order to decide whether or not it infringes upon the patent that they own. Apple, of course, isn't happy with this.
According to The Korea Times, Apple's legal representatives apparently described this request as "insane." However, if it goes to court, Apple could be on the hook to produce the source code anyway. If they produce it now and show that it doesn't infringe, they could avoid a possibly costly legal battle.
The US government allows its citizens to petition the White House via an easy online form. Since responding to the Death Star petition, the government has increased the number of signatures required before a response must be issued to 100,000, which is still a pretty easy number to reach on anything worthwhile these days due to the power of the internet.
A while back, the Library of Congress decided that jailbreaking smartphones was legal, but jailbreaking tablets and unlocking wireless devices without the carrier's consent was illegal. A new petition has popped up on the White House petition site looking to force the Librarian of Congress to change his decision about the unlocking of smartphones.
"As of January 26, consumers will no longer be able unlock their phones for use on a different network without carrier permission, even after their contract has expired," reads the petition. "Consumers will be forced to pay exorbitant roaming fees to make calls while traveling abroad. It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full."
In a landmark ruling the German Federal Court of Justice has ruled that consumers have the right to monetary compensation whenever their internet service is interrupted. The court went on to say that the internet is an "essential" part of life as we know it.
The ruling issued on Thursday was the response to a complaint filed by a citizen whose internet connection was on the fritz for over two months in 2008 and 2009. The ISP has already paid some compensation for the outage, but the plaintiff wanted to be compensated for his loss of internet services as well.
Germany's highest court had the same opinion and in a statement said "The Internet plays a very important role today and affects the private life of an individual in very decisive ways," it continued, "therefore loss of use of the Internet is comparable to the loss of use of a car."
Samsung enjoyed a stellar Q4 2012, where the South Korean company saw $52.04 billion in revenue for the three-month period, posting profits of $8.27 billion. This is nearly double what the company reported in the same period last year.
Samsung reported "strong" sales of their smart devices, where both the Galaxy S III and Note II have been mentioned specifically. Last we heard, the Galaxy S III had smashed through 30 million sales, and the Note II was enjoying 5 million sold. Samsung expects demand for replacements of those devices to be strong with the push of LTE connectivity, but the sales drop in Q1 will soon happen.
In the TV department, demand was flat from last year, but the push to LED models has provided Samsung with higher profits. The South Korean company sees the 60-inch and higher market growing this year, but Q1 sales - as we said before - are going to be slow before any new models are introduced. Weak demand for PC RAM was also discussed, but growth was seen in the server and mobile markets.
It looks as though Microsoft's Xbox platform isn't doing so well, with revenue dropping 29% year-over-year when comparing 2011 to 2012. Microsoft reported their results for the second quarter of their 2013 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2012 through to June 30, 2013.
Microsoft may have been making a point of their record-breaking $21.46 billion in revenue, which was a 2.7% increase over 2011, but the Entertainment and Devices Division - which includes Xbox, Windows Phone and Skype - dropped by 11%, from $4.24 billion to $3.78 billion.
From October to December of last year, Microsoft shipped 5.9 million Xbox 360 consoles, a sharp 28% drop from the 8.2 million in the same quarter of 2011. Microsoft also pumped $98 million into research and development costs for the three-month period, which hopefully is for the next-gen console.
Kim Dotcom wants to encrypt half of the Internet, would like to keep it away from government surveillance
During an Interview with RT, Kim Dotcom talks of his problems over the past year or so, where the US government accuse the MegaUpload founder of being a 'mafia organization' and set up their Internet business, to be an organized crime network.
The US government had to say this, as it was the only way to try and extradite Dotcom to the US, as there are different extradition laws in New Zealand. These charges had to be thrown on top, or else the US government wouldn't have a leg to stand on. The goal was to take MegaUpload down, with Dotcom saying "it was their mission".
Dotcom talks about Aaron Swartz, the co-founder of Reddit, with RT asking what it's going to take for people to stand up and take action. Dotcom says the US government was exposed in this case, as they went in with all guns blazing, spying on citizens, illegal search warrants, and more. Dotcom says it was an urgent mission, they just wanted to take him down.
Dotcom then heads into discussion about Mega, and encryption on the Internet as "nothing seems safe from prying eyes", says the RT interviewer. Dotcom talks about the US government spying in people, spy clouds, massive datacenters that store data on citizens - storing any communication that goes through US networks. They're not spying on citizens based on an action, but a permanent spying solution.
Belkin have just announced that they have plans to acquire's Cisco's Home Networking Business Unit, which includes all of its products, technology, employees and even Linksys. Belkin have said that they will maintain the Linksys brand and will continue to offer support for Linksys products.
Support will include honoring warranty for all valid products under the Linksys umbrella, as well as future products. Once the deal is closed, Belkin will account for around 30% of the US retail home and small business networking market. It has worked out well for Cisco, who was looking to exit the consumer space and Belkin who are looking to juice up their presence in the consumer space scooping up Linksys and various other parts of Cisco's business will only help them achieve their goals.
Intel are set to build a new processor fabrication plant in Ireland, after they received permission from the Irish planning agency An Bord Pleanala. The Ireland fab plant will cost the chipmaker $4 billion, but the plant will be pumping out 14nm processors.
The only roadblock now is Intel management's final decision before construction plans begin. The Ireland fab plant will be a redevelopment of an existing facility in Country Kildare, and has been in the planning stages from as early as 2011. When construction is finished, which will take two years, it will give Intel 245,000 square meters to play with their next-generation 14nm-based processors.
The construction will employ close to 3,500 construction workers, and once the plant is complete, the plant itself will employ 800 full-time staff for chip production.
Microsoft has come out with their Q2 2013 financial results and they managed to pull in $21.46 billion in revenue for the quarter. This equates to a 2.7 percent increase year-over-year. Even with a slowing PC market, however, Microsoft's Windows division posted revenues of $5.88 billion, up 24 percent from last year.
Microsoft reported earnings per share of $0.76 and a $6.38 billion net income.
"We saw strong growth in our enterprise business driven by multi-year commitments to the Microsoft platform, which positions us well for long-term growth," said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. "Multi-year licensing revenue grew double-digits across Windows, Server & Tools, and the Microsoft Business Division."
"We see strong momentum in our enterprise business. With the launch of SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012, we continue to see healthy growth in our data platform and infrastructure businesses and win share from our competitors," said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft. "With the coming launch of the new Office, we will provide a cloud-enabled suite of products that will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility."
Microsoft's full report is available on their website.
Research in Motion (RIM) aren't doing well these days, so the rumors of Lenovo acquiring them make sense right now. We have Lenovo's Chief Financial Officer, Wong Mai Ming, mentioning during an interview that Lenovo were looking at multiple companies for acquisition and strategic alliances in order to help their mobile business.
According to Ming, one of these targets is the company behind the BlackBerry, RIM. Ming didn't talk about timeframes, or even whether they would eventually acquire RIM, but he did state that Lenovo would have no hesitation if the right opportunity was to drop at their feet that would benefit both the company itself, and its shareholders.
Lenovo doesn't have much of a presence in the US smartphone market, but they do have a decent amount of power in the Chinese market. Their upcoming K900 smartphone will be one of the first smartphones to launch featuring Intel's new dual-core Atom processor. The K900 is a 5.5-inch, 1080p IPS display-powered device that is just 6.9mm thick and weighs just 5.7 ounces. This should definitely have tongues wagging and the sheer mention of a RIM deal would have all ears listening if it were to happen.
Amazon announced this morning that it had acquired text-to-speech software developer IVONA, the company who developed the Kindle Fire's Text-to-Speech, Voice Guide and Explore by Touch features.
Ivona's software holdings are not limited to Android based devices. The company delivers text-to-speech products and services for thousands of developers, businesses and customers around the world. This could be the beginning of a true competitor for Apple's Siri, or even Google's Voice Search.
"IVONA's exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use. IVONA is already instrumental in helping us deliver excellent accessibility features on Kindle Fire, including Text-to-Speech, Voice Guide and Explore by Touch," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "The IVONA team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world."
How many of you remember the incident with Sony and its PlayStation Network back in 2011? I am of course talking about the hacking incident that crippled the network for months. The Information Commissioner's Office of the United Kingdom sure remembers, and has fined Sony 250,000 GBP ($395,000 USD) over the ordeal.
The report released by the ICO states that personal data, such as names, addresses and payment details, were unprotected and at risk. "If you are responsible for so many payment card details and log-in details then keeping that personal data secure has to be your priority," said an ICO Deputy Commissioner and followed with "the security measures in place were simply not good enough."
Sony has stated that it "strongly disagrees" with the ruling, and plans to appeal against the fine. A spokesman for the company said that "Sony continually works to strengthen our systems, building in multiple layers of defense and working to make our networks safe, secure, and resilient."
AMD aren't doing so well right now, especially when compared to Intel or Apple's latest financial results, but according to reports, CEO Rory Read has outlined the company's three-phase restructuring goal.
Those restructuring goal will see AMD return to profitability by the second half of this year. Read has said that the return to profitability will take more than one quarter, and will involve a total restructuring of how the company runs its business. The chipmaker will also deliver a new set of powerful products this year, as well as begin the transitioning of the company in order to take advantage of high-growth opportunities in other markets where their IP could provide others will a competitive advantage.
These markets include things like servers, custom silicon, the embedded space and ultra-low-power products such as gaming consoles. Considering AMD have reportedly won contracts to have their products in every single next-gen gaming console, this is a huge, huge uptick for AMD. AMD hopes to collect 20% of their revenue from these 'alternative' markets by the end of the year.
It looks as though AT&T are experiencing some problems, and they are reportedly working around the clock to get their U-verse service back in operation. There is a reported server problem that has left less than 1% of their U-verse phone, Internet and TV customers without service.
AT&T of course, could say anything right now, but that isn't stopping users from getting upset. U-verse users have taken to social networks to complain, which AT&T says affects just 6,000 customers - but that isn't the point now, is it? The affected consumers are as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Florida.
AT&T released an update on Wednesday afternoon, where they said that the problem isn't too widespread, with spokesman Lance Skelly saying in a statement:
This issue currently affects less than one percent of our U-verse subscribers, but that is too many and we are working hard to fix this. We are making progress in resolving the issue, which is related to servers supporting U-verse, and are working to determine when service will be completely restored. We apologize for this inconvenience.
Google's semi-annual Transparency Report has been updated today and the new data shows that requests for data from the search giant continue to increase. The US government leads the way in requesting data from Google. In fact, the amount of data requests as increased by more than 70 percent since 2009.
For the period from July to December, Google received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users. The United States government led the charge with over 8,000 requests for information that encompassed almost 15,000 user accounts. 88 percent of these requests had at least some data produced.
India was the next highest on the list, but only requested about 25 percent of what the US did. They made 2,400 requests about roughly 4,000 users. France, Germany, UK, and Brazil round out the list of governments who put in more than 1,000 user data requests.
Google has pushed on other companies to put forth similar data sets. Facebook would be a really important report, if they were to issue one. However, they say that "We do not have any immediate plans to release a report, however, we have been working diligently on meaningful transparency such as the Law Enforcement Guidelines in the Help Center and our work with the Digital Due Process coalition to ensure the privacy of our users. While we will continue to evaluate our plans in this area, we devote our primary efforts to auditing every request we receive to ensure the strictest compliance with law."
Some bad news, at least for the companies involved, has come out thanks to a court case brought against Apple and Google by five workers. The case alleges that they are due lost wages as the companies involved tried keeping wages down by agreeing to not poach employees from each other.
Apparently, this non-poaching agreement extends beyond Google and Apple to the likes of Intel, Adobe, Pixar, and others. Judge Koh, made famous by the on-going Apple vs Samsung battle, is overseeing this court battle. This could end up being very bad for the companies involved, with the plaintiffs arguing that the damages could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
For instance, an e-mail sent to Eric Schmidt by Steve Jobs: "Eric, I am told that Googles new cell phone software group is relentlessly recruiting in our iPod group. If this is indeed true, can you put a stop to it? Thanks, Steve." Another e-mail, this one sent by Paul Otellini of Intel, reads, "we have nothing signed. We have a handshake 'no-recruit' between eric and myself. I would not like this broadly known."
Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar all settled with the Justice Department in 2010 over these non-poaching agreements by agreeing to end them. This should be interesting to keep your eyes on over the next few weeks and months and we'll be sure to keep you updated on any breaking news.