Apple's sharp exit, but swift return to EPEAT has been a whirlwind of random behavior for the usually straight-shooter company. But, it seems that the pullout, and return to EPEAT could've been from a dispute over the status that had been given to the Retina MacBook Pro.
The two 15-inch models may have been threatened with a lower-than-top ranking, which would've been a first for Apple. The Retina-powered models now appear on the EPEAT website, this time with Gold rankings. Considering that critics have complained that the Retina models are less "repairable" than other notebooks, and that the fusion of the display to the casing itself, as well as the gluing of the battery make both components more difficult to recycle than models that don't sport those features.
The scoring is now identical for non-Retina and Retina models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Within this scoring, Apple loses points for "materials selection" as well as "energy conservation", without EPEAT explaining what these could mean, or how Apple could improve them. But, there is some light at the end of this Apple and EPEAT tunnel, in the way that the Retina MBP gets full points for "product longevity/life cycle extension", an acknowledgement that Apple's use of custom batteries, and the rMBP's new fused display is likely to decrease the chances of a defect, which could offset the new machines' lack of easy interior repair.
After the strange exit from EPEAT, it looks as though iPad maker, Apple, are back on-board. The decision was announced just before the weekend by Bob Mansfield, Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering. Mansfield had an open letter, which said:
We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.
What made Apple have a sudden change of heart? Could it have been the sudden loss of government purchases, or the back lash it would've received not just a few weeks from now, but months, or years from now? Why the decision to pull out of EPEAT in the first place? Tim Cook, would you kindly fly me out to the Apple offices for a one-on-one interview? My shout for lunch.
If RIM weren't already having enough troubles from sticking their fingers in the constant holes popping up in their ship, today is yet another day for the company. Bloomberg are reporting that RIM are looking to hand over $147.2 million to a New Jersey-based mobile device management firm, Mformation.
Back in 2008, Mformation filed a suit against RIM claiming that the company had infringed on two of their patents. Mformation alleges that RIM included patented functionality into their own product after preliminary talks didn't work. The jury sided with Mformation, and now Research in Motion are looking to shell out $8 for each of the 18.4 million devices in question, a bill of around $147.2 million.
But, RIM aren't looking to just hand over the cash, with their legal team already moving to have the verdict reversed. Is there anything else that can go wrong for RIM right now?
Apple is staring down the barrel of a record-breaking sales for their iPad, with sales of 20 million in the June quarter, according to one analyst. Charlie Wolf with Needham & Company issued a note to investors on Thursday, where he has increased his June iPad shipment forecast.
His previous forecast was 13.5 million units, and he's increased this to a significant 20 million. Wolf does admit that his initial estimate in April was "hastily formulated", which is why his latest prediction is so much bigger. Wolf says:
In our view, it's only a matter of time before iPad shipments exceed iPhone shipments. The iPad is invading the business market at a much faster pace than the iPhone. In addition, the iPad will launch in China on July 20th. This should provide a significant boost in sales now that Apple is providing Chinese languages and services on its iOS platform.
If Wolf is correct, or even close, with his 20 million iPads sold prediction, it would be quite the achievement for Apple. Considering the same quarter last year they sold just 9.25 million, it would be a new record for iPad sales of any quarter, even beating the 15 million iPads Apple sold in the holiday shopping season of 2011.
Research firm Gartner released their preliminary personal computer shipment data for Q2 2012, which shows the increases, or decreases from various companies. Apple only had a very small year-over-year growth of 4.3-percent in the U.S., but they were the only company that saw year-over-year growth.
They outperformed the overall industry and its 5.7-percent decline. Apple's share rose from 10.8-percent this time last year, to 12-percent for this year. This quarters improvement was a return to form, after two straight quarters of decline. It let Apple hold onto its third position after HP and Dell in the United States. It was Apple's second best performance over the years, following a 12.9-percent share in Q3 2011.
Q3 is usually a great quarter for Apple, as its includes those great back-to-school purchases in Apple's strongest markets, and is usually their best-performing quarter. Apple didn't reach the top five vendors in the world, so it's good to see them at least enjoying some growth in the United States.
Back in 1996, Microsoft invested a hefty $220 million for a 50-percent stake in MSNBC, which launched in the same year. Microsoft sold most of their control in 2005, which left NBC with an 82-percent stake in the network, with an option of claiming the remaining 18-percent after two years.
NBC Universal has announced plans to buy back Microsoft's remaining control of the MSNBC.com site, which will put an end to the partnership between the companies. NBC Universal will rebrand the web site, dropping Microsoft's "MS", which will create NBCNews.com, unnamed sources told the Beast.
NBC Universal is expected to announce the deal "within days", but an NBC representative told the news site that no deal has been struck yet. The report does note that the site's employees have been told. We should hear more of the deal early next week.
NPD Group's June figures are out, with Microsoft and Nintendo both faring well, and having something to brag about to the competition. Nintendo should be happy that their 3DS has reached five million total sales in the U.S..
Nintendo sold 155,000 3DS units in the month of June alone, but Microsoft have their own achievement (unlocked?) to talk of. Microsoft shipped 257,000 Xbox 360 units in June, and they've also had the lead against all U.S. consoles for the last 18 months.
Nintendo sold 90,000 Wii units in June, and that Wii U will be here shortly and should give Nintendo a very big injection of sale numbers. Sadly, there aren't any Sony numbers to talk about, which is unfortunate.
MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom seems to be positioning himself on the chess board that is his legal troubles right now, in a move that is right out of the left field. Dotcom has agreed to voluntarily travel to the United States where he'll face piracy charges, but has only agreed to do so if the Justice Department unfreezes his assets to help him cover living expenses and pay for legal representation.
Dotcom gave the proposal over Twitter, of all places. Dotcom's statement was delivered just a day after a New Zealand court postponed his extradition hearing due to the raid on his mansion being ruled illegal. The evidence collected was therefore obtained illegally, and the case has been postponed until 2013.
Kim Dotcom appears to be totally calm with his proposal to the DoJ, one would imagine he has a trick or two up his sleeve? What are your thoughts on this?
Back a few decades ago, you signed expensive (or inexpensive) contracts with pens. If you've watched Mad Men, I've always thought expensive contracts involved lots of paper work, a few signatures and celebratory glasses of your given poison.
But, there are now people signing near-$100 million contracts with their fingers, on an iPad. NBA team Brooklyn Nets' latest player, Deron Williams signed his new five-year, $98 million contract on an iPad using the SignNow app. Yes, $98 million, using his finger, on an iPad.
Williams' took to Twitter to capture the moment:
Microsoft talked of retail stores earlier this year, and those plans are now coming to fruition. The Redmond-based company behind Windows and Office plans to open up a Microsoft Store in Toronto, Canada later this year, as well as another store in Puerto Rico, according to Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, where he spoke at the Worldwide Partner Conference.
Microsoft currently have 20 stores open across the United States, with 9 more coming this year. Microsoft is opening an Orlando-based store on August 18, and its Boston Prudential Center on August 23. The Canadian and Puerto Rican stores will be the first time Microsoft have stepped outside of the U.S. with a Microsoft-branded store.
The company also has plans to extend across the pond to the U.K. with a store in London in 2013. Microsoft hopes to have a tally of 44 retail stores open by June 2013. Comparing them to Apple, they are small fries for now, with Apple having 364 stores in 13 countries, with a whopping 246 of those in the U.S..
Twitter already sports 140 million users on their social networking service, but we all know that's not enough to combat against Facebook's near-billion users. Twitter announced today, a partnership with chip maker MediaTek.
The new partnership will see Twitter embedded on millions of "smart feature phone" devices across the world. MediaTek will preload the Twitter feature phone application in their MRE middleware, providing a reference design for mobile handsets. From there, vendors can then add Twitter services on their devices with little or no memory impact or requirement for powerful hardware, encouraging Twitter usage no matter what handset it may be.
MediaTek's MT6255 ARM9 chipset will be the first to sport Twitter applications, the chip features a clock speed of 416MHz, and has both SAW and RTC embedded into the chipset in order to avoid external components. The chip features long battery life, supports WVGA display resolutions and can play back most modern video formats. The chip also supports the installation of Opera Mini, allowing users to save data when visiting mobile websites.
Just a few days ago, Apple pulled 39 of their products (old, and new) from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) and it looks like this move is already starting to haunt them. San Francisco will shortly cease purchasing Macs for the city's 50 agencies, and this could just be the tip of the iceberg for Apple.
This is all according to Department of Environment officials who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, with the officials saying that within the next two weeks it will send out letters to agencies explaining that Macs "no longer qualify" for city money. This is all because Apple pulled 39 of their products from EPEAT, and while workers will still be able to buy Macs, they'll have to go through a process described as "long" and "onerous".
While this isn't the death bell ringing for Apple, it could be a sign of things to come. Only 1- to 2-percent of the city's computers are Macs, which amounts to around 500-700 systems. For Apple though, the loss of orders, and the press it receives, as well as the multitudes of other government agencies who pick up on the news could exclude Macs from purchasing departments. Legally, 95-percent of all U.S. federal government purchases must be EPEAT-certified.
Microsoft is looking to fight Apple like they've never fought before, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admits that Microsoft and select partners ceded some of the boundary between hardware and software to Apple in the years gone by, but with Surface, that's a thing of the past.
During an interview with CRN, Ballmer highlights that Microsoft has advantages in productivity, enterprise management and manageability, but Microsoft aren't prepared to let things like the consumer cloud and hardware/software innovation go uncontested to Apple, Ballmer says "not going to happen, not on our watch".
One interesting thing Ballmer let slip during the interview, is that he didn't deny that Microsoft have thought of making their own smartphone hardware. When asked about the subject, Ballmer said right now, they are working extremely hard on Surface. Surface is Microsoft's sole focus and core right now. Ballmer added:
Look, we'll see what happens. We have good partners with Nokia, HDC in the phone space. I love what we've got going on with the Surface. We are going to focus on Surface and our other Windows 8 tablet partners and see if we can go make something happen.
After some intense legal battles, Samsung has gotten a court to side with them for once. Samsung have said that the High Court of England and Wales ruled that its Galaxy Tab didn't infringe on Apple's tablet designs, and found 50 different recognizable traits.
Considering Samsung have just gone through their Galaxy Nexus being banned in the U.S. temporarily, this is a great day for Samsung. Both of the companies are fighting each other in different courts across the world, for different things, and it seems that they're both waiting for a judge to rule so harshly, that the other is forced to sit down and work out an agreement.
The ruling today was in regards to three Samsung Galaxy tablets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 7.7. The court cited the differences they found were in the thickness of the devices, front and rear surface designs, and the lack of physical buttons.
Just a quick one for Apple, according to an analyst at Moody's Investor Services, Apple are at the very top of the list of technology companies who are hoarding money overseas. It has been reported that the company behind the iPad, iPhone and many other money-makers, has $74 billion overseas.
Twelve months ago, Apple had $64 billion sitting overseas, but in the past year this number has expanded by $10 billion to $74 billion total. Tech companies with $2 billion or more in cash and liquid investments are said to hold around $227.5 billion overseas.
The second company to Apple with money overseas? Microsoft with $50 billion. Cisco comes in third with $42.3 billion, and Oracle in fourth place with $25.1 billion.
The U.S. government wants Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom back on U.S. soil pretty bad, but have just experienced a bit of bad luck: a New Zealand court has rescheduled the impending August extradition hearing until March of next year.
Last week we reported that the raid on Dotcom's mansion was ruled illegal by an N.Z. judge, and it looks like this is the main reason the extradition hearing has been postponed, and so it should have. But, that seems to be just one, in a number of issues that the judge has pointed out. The BBC reports that Judge Helen Winkelmann said "the warrants did not adequately describe the offences to which they related".
Judge Winkelmann also ruled that the FBI's process of cloning Dotcom's hard drive in order to get evidence to the U.S. was unlawful. Dotcom has chimed in, where he recently claimed that U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden was the man responsible for closing down of Megaupload, Dotcom told TorrentFreak:
I do know from a credible source that it was Joe Biden, the best friend of former Senator and MPAA boss Chris Dodd, who ordered his former lawyer and now state attorney Neil MacBride to take Mega down.
Last week, there were reports that United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) had won a contract with Qualcomm that would see them producing Snapdragon S4 chips. This would've been bad for TSMC, as it would be at their expense since they'd have lost the contract.
Considering TSMC is the world's largest contract chip-maker, they're losing contract to companies like Samsung and UMC. It looks as though Samsung is producing Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 chips, using their 28nm manufacturing process.
It has been reported that Qualcomm's decision to switch from TSMC to Samsung isn't due to production quality, but quantity. Qualcomm doesn't seem to be confident with TSMC's ability to keep up with demand, but TSMC still believes that their 28nm manufacturing process is among the best. A TMSC spokesperson has chimed in with:
We do not comment on business with clients. We're confident in our leadership status in 28-nm and will fulfill customers' demands in the fourth quarter.
Thecus have just announced that their new line of NAS products, the TopPower series, will come with a 5-year warranty. This makes them a much more of a future-proof purchase, considering the warranty is a great 5 years.
The Thecus N6850, N8850 and N10850 (6, 8 and 10-bay NAS) are already on the market, sporting Intel Pentium, Core and Xeon processors, accordingly. The Thecus TopPower series are designed to bring the supreme rackmount performance and storage capacity, to the tower format.
Featuring touch panels and sleek design, and now their 5-year warranty, how could you miss out? The 3 devices are also even more future-proof, sporting the ability to be upgraded with a 10GbE PCI-e card, it will cover all of your storage and speed needs.
Research in Motion may be experiencing all sorts of hurt in the market, but they are still here and still a player in this market and today they've reached a milestone for their BlackBerry App World. If you don't already know, BlackBerry App World is RIM's application store, like the App Store, or Google Play.
They've reached the milestone of enjoying three billion downloads since it launched back in 2009, with nearly a billion of those downloads in the last six months alone. Of course, these numbers aren't anywhere near the explosive numbers Apple and Google enjoy.
Considering Apple passed the 25 billion downloads mark this year, with these numbers constantly rising. RIM also says that these 3 billion downloads include theme and wallpaper apps, productivity apps, games and more. But, its still a milestone.
Apple have asked the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) to remove 39 of their products from its group's list. EPEAT are one of the largest eco-friendly certifying agencies in the U.S., who are funded by the EPA and a coalition of manufacturers, including Apple.
Why are Apple making this move now, considering they've supported EPEAT up until now? Well, in order to gain EPEAT certification, "recyclers need to be able to easily disassemble products, with common tools, to separate toxic components, like batteries", reports John Schectman from the Wall Street Journal.
That is a pretty big restriction for the closed-garden company that is Apple and their products. Considering the new Retina MacBook Pro (rMBP) is virtually impossible to take apart, with the battery glued in, and is pretty much non-serviceable by users. The LCD on the rMBP is glued into the notebook, making it quite difficult to remove. But, Apple are removing all of its products from EPEAT's registry, even their older desktops that were once certified.
U.K.-based Vodafone owns a very tidy 45-percent stake in U.S.-based Verizon Wireless, America's largest mobile phone network. After a long hiatus, the company begin sharing profits with their first payment to Vodafone being $10 billion, shared with Verizon's majority owner, Verizon Communications.
The results of this were $4.3 billion total, with $3.09 billion distributed to its shareholders through a 4-percent dividend in February. This number could rise from $4.3 billion to $4.6 billion this financial year, and balloon out to $6.1 billion by 2016, according to broker Liberum Capital. Liberum analyst Lawrence Sugarman says:
We expect news shortly that the payment will be repeated at a higher level. Verizon has material scope to increase its dividend going forward, and crucially, because of the need to fund the Verizon group dividend, has a significant incentive to pay one.
It should be noted that Verizon Wireless generates $1 billion in cash each month, with revenues continuing to rise.