Showing posts tagged apple

Apple Keeps Top Spot on Fortune’s ‘Most Admired Company’ List

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Apple secured the top spot for the sixth year in a row in _Fortune’s_ Top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies list.

The company beat out Google and Amazon, which came in second and third on the international list. The top ten positions are all held by American companies, with businesses like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Walt Disney joining the ranks.

Apple was voted number one by 3,800 company directors and executives. _Fortune_ explains that though Apple had a rough time with its stock price and the failure of its Maps feature, the company was the most profitable in the world last quarter, boasting $13 billion in net income.

"The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses…
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More About: amazon, apple, Business, Google, Media, most admired companies, Tech @suryaray

GigaOM Reads: A look back at the week in tech

#SuryaRay #Surya A quick word: _We are kicking off GigaOM Reads, a weekly column that look back at some of the important technology stories of the week and our take on the news. In addition, we will curate some of the more interesting stories and blog posts we find worth sharing – Om & Kristy._

Groupon’s 2-for-1 CEO deal: Groupon, decidedly the most non-tech company pretending to be a tech company fired Andrew Mason, founder & CEO, and replaced him with not one but two CEOs — Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, who are taking over as co-CEOs. Not to poop on their parade, but weren’t these two gentlemen supposed to prevent the current state of chaos at the company as board members? Something stinks, and it is not kielbasa. In what seems to be a perfect exit interview, Mason had some choice things to say:

“I think in the first phase of our company, we were a glorified mailing list. We had a completely unintelligent email that we sent out once a day and we had a human sales force that was going around and procuring the deals.”

As for Mason, he is looking for a fat farm to lose what he adorably calls “Groupon 40.” I am going to miss his nonsensical utterances.

Everybody hates (or loves) Marissa Mayer & loves(or hates) Sheryl Sandberg: Well, at least everyone in media has something to say about two of the brightest and more powerful women in Silicon Valley, Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg. They were both making headlines this week for what seems to be all the wrong (or right) reasons.

Mayer wants her remote-working Yahoos to come back to the office, and while some claimed that this was the worst decision possible for the company (and its working parents), others argue that maybe we could all use more separation between work and life. Even we couldn’t decide with Mayer’s idea that the best ideas come from “hallway and cafeteria collaboration,” the fact remains — people are talking about Yahoo again.

Hoping to recreate a Betty Friedian-like social movement empowering women in the workplace, Sheryl Sandberg’s individualized take on feminism outlined in her new book, _Lean In,_ may not strike the cord she had hoped. In fact, prominent entrepreneurial women have denounced the cause as unrealistic, while others insist that men must also become passionate change agents  in order for the business world to become more balanced.

By the way, those two news items sparked a lively thread on our internal messaging system.

Technology’s worst dressed guy is emasculated by phones: Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is not exactly Bernard Arnault (CEO of LVMH, if you must ask), feels that smartphones are “emasculating.” He was speaking at the TED conference and his comments resulted in a flurry of commentary around gender issues.

The general body language of your average smartphone user aside, his comments indicate that Glass could evolve to include cellular phone service, but the truth is that health concerns might hinder adoption by the masses. One thing that might help make Google Glass cool? Its rumored partnership with hipster darling Warby Parker. But those are minor issues, as author Mark Hurst rightfully argues. The real issue is how we as human beings will interact with people with Google glasses and how that will change our daily experiences, he said.

“Google Glass is like one camera car for each of the thousands, possibly millions, of people who will wear the device – every single day, everywhere they go – on sidewalks, into restaurants, up elevators, around your office, into your home. From now on, starting today, anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google’s cloud, and stored there for the rest of your life. You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it. And that, my friends, is the experience that Google Glass creates. That is the experience we should be thinking about. The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.” [Mark Hurst]

Does that future scare you? Then you should read Joel Hladeck’s amusing letter from the future that talks about why Google glasses kinda went the way of AltaVista.

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Oscars & Hard times at CGI Corral: Darlings of the big screen and red carpet took home their golden statues at the Oscars last Sunday, but not all is well for the behind-the-scenes crew. The visual effects industry is facing hard times due to foreign outsourcing and subsidies, with large and small studios alike facing layoffs and closures. You may have caught Bill Westenhofer attempting to broach the subject after winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for _Life of Pi_ before being ushered off the stage to the theme of Jaws, which now seems oddly appropriate given that thousands of jobs are dead in the water.

Talking about Oscars, congrats to PopSugar for launching PopSugar Live. Their live red carpet show from the Oscars got about a million views, putting them in the cable television territory. Who needs cable (TV) when you have broadband?

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Fashion and tech in one place! What could go wrong: Conde Nast rolled out the red carpet for geeks during this years’ New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week by hosting a first-of-its-kind fashion and tech hackathon to create new ideas around how to use technology in the industry. We do admit that does sound kinda crazy and, well, Conde Nast isn’t who we turn to for innovation tips. But then again, the fashion industry is so far behind that they need to start somewhere. We would also recommend watching out for a whole new breed of fashion media upstarts that are frankly more fun and engaging than perusing dowdy Conde Nast.

Beyond Fashion Week, a handful of forward-thinking companies are already capitalizing on the use of technology in fashion, and creating a brand new way to shop, and find the perfect fit online

It is now the Internet of things:

“We are beginning to learn what it is like to use the Internet to communicate with things that are not humans.” — Vint Cerf at TED2013 (via Twitter)

We at GigaOM have been on it for a while, writing about the topic for a few years now. But now we are taking the show on the road and are hosting a series of meetups like the most recent one in San Francisco and the next one in Boulder, Colorado. Our belief: Ideally, the internet of things should fade into the background; what matters is what it allows people to do.

And what here are some stories from this week you might have missed.

* Battle of the campuses: Google told Vanity Fair that it would soon be breaking ground on a new 1.1-million square foot campus, and it’s quite the contrast from Apple’s upcoming futuristic spaceship-like HQ coming in 2016. Richie King at Quartz explored what these vastly opposing architectural footprints say about the personality of each company.
* Jimmy Iovine needs to make up his mind: He can’t undermine music curation without undermining Music by Beats, the company he owns and will disown soon.
* Microsoft wants to be cool: And it will never be cool, according to a former Apple guy and a former Microsoft guy.
* Tim Cook & Apple versus Wall Street: The New Yorker’s John Cassidy rightfully argued that we shouldn’t pity the hedgies.
* The problem with Facebook data: Well, there is a lot to dislike about Facebook’s “Like” argued Alan Wolk.

Read this and other in-depth articles on GigaOM’s Flipboard channel @suryaray

‘Silly Sideshow’ Suit Against Apple Over Shareholder Vote Dropped By Greenlight’s David Einhorn

#SuryaRay #Surya David Einhorn has dropped the suit filed against Apple over a proposal the company intended to bring to a vote at its shareholder meeting this past week, Bloomberg reports. The proposal included a provision that would require a common shareholder vote before Apple could issue any preferred stock, something Einhorn and his hedge fund Greenlight Capital have been seeking from Apple to unlock more of the value of Apple’s cash pile for shareholders. @suryaray

After winning injunction, investor drops suit against Apple

#SuryaRay #Surya Fresh off of his winning an injunction against an Apple shareholder proposal he didn’t like, hedge fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital has dropped his lawsuit against Apple. A New York federal court closed the case after a Thursday filing, according to MarketWatch.

Though he got what he wanted in regard to the shareholder proposal, this is not the end of Einhorn’s spat with Apple, whom he recently compared to a Depression Era grandmother because of how conservative the company is about keeping cash around.

Einhorn owns about 1 million shares of Apple stock. He sued the company because he disagreed with a proposal that would have required Apple to get shareholder approval before issuing any kind of preferred stock. He won an injunction from a federal judge who said Apple had wrongly “bundled” the proposal regarding preferred stock with other tweaks to the company’s charter in one proposal. As a result, Apple was forced to take the proposal off the shareholder ballot, which was voted on this past Tuesday at the company’s annual meeting in California.

Einhorn has meanwhile taken his plan for Apple to offer a preferred stock he’s dubbed “iPrefs” — that would pay a 50 cent quarterly dividend forever — public. Apple CEO Tim Cook has promised to review the proposal, but hasn’t yet offered a public answer to Einhorn.

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iCloud had a big hiccup this morning, several services still experiencing problems

#SuryaRay #Surya If iCloud has been acting up for you today, know that it’s not just you. At least three iCloud-based services are currently experiencing problems, according to Apple’s own system status page on Thursday morning. The current issues extend to Documents in the Cloud, Photo Stream — the service that syncs photos across Apple devices — and iCloud backup.

The outage has been going on for seven hours. As of this posting, the iCloud hiccup is affecting three percent of users, according to Apple’s status report. But earlier reports Thursday indicate iCloud had an even bigger issue.

Anyone having problems with iCloud mail ?—
Krzysztof Zabłocki (@merowing_) February 28, 2013

9to5Mac took a screenshot of Apple’s system status page about two hours earlier, which showed that there were issues with all iCloud services, from Mail to Calendar, Find My iPhone, iTunes Match, account sign-in and more. That was said to affect more than one in 10 iCloud customers.

Apple’s cloud service has taken off pretty quickly: it opened in October 2011, and as of the beginning of 2013 had 250 million users. But Apple’s struggled at times to keep iCloud running smoothly as more users signed up and as the company has integrated iCloud with more of its software.

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Outages result in gray skies for iCloud users

#SuryaRay #Surya Document syncing, iCloud backups, or Photo Stream have been down for 7+ hours. @suryaray

iTunes U Hits 1 Billion Downloads

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The popularity of Apple’s online educational catalog, iTunes U, has tripled over the past two-and-a-half years — if the number of downloads is any indication.

Apple announced Thursday that more than 1 billion items have been downloaded from the catalog, up from 300,000 in August 2010. The service was launched in mid-2007 and got a dedicated app at the beginning of last year.

iTunes U allows verified teachers to upload and distribute educational content — in the form of videos, audio and PDF files — privately to their own students, or the Internet at large, for free. They can create courses on their desktops or on their iPads. As with podcasts, users can download materials and subscr…
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Apple’s iTunes U hits the 1B download mark

#SuryaRay #Surya Apple’s iTunes U education initiative hit 1 billion cumulative downloads, the company announced Thursday. The service, which provides free access to lectures, videos, and course materials to teachers and educational groups, has been around since 2007. But it got a boost a year ago when Apple introduced a dedicated iTunes U app to go along with its iPad-oriented educational initiative, which included an iBooks authoring tool that would help textbook companies and educators create learning material.

Compared to some of Apple’s other software, 1 billion downloads in nearly six years seems small. (The iOS App Store hit 40 billion downloads this year, less than five years in.) But the service is picking up steam. Apple released some other numbers as well that illustrate the size and scope of iTunes U:

* More than 1,200 colleges are using iTunes U
* 1,200 K-12 “schools and districts” are using it
* There are 2,500 public courses in use and “thousands” of private courses
* Some courses have more than 250,000 enrolled in them

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Could Apple’s iPhone Mini and Phablet Look Like This?

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Although the iPhone 5 only launched five months ago, designers are already imagining how Apple’s next line of smartphones will look.

Peter Zigich, a Toronto-based 3D designer, posted concept images of the iPhone 6, the iPhone mini and a phablet on his website.

For Apple's next flagship phone, Zigich proposes moving the home button to the side, leaving room for more screen room and another row of icons. The change, he adds, would maintain the same physical dimensions as the iPhone 5. Zigich also mulls over the possibility of two home buttons — one on each side of the phone.

For the iPhone mini, he imagines it as a cheaper, smaller version of the flagship — as some reports suggest
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Apple ‘Less Arrogant’ Under Tim Cook, Says France Telecom CEO

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Apple “less arrogant” under new CEO Tim Cook, according to the CEO of a major European telecom operator. But is that a compliment — or a slight?

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Passbook mobile ticketing expanding to 13 MLB ballparks this season

#SuryaRay #Surya For the 2013 baseball season, Major League Baseball is more than tripling the number of stadiums that will accept mobile tickets via Apple’s Passbook app. This year there will be 13 stadiums that will enable paperless ticketing via Passbook, MLB announced at a fan event in New York City Tuesday night. That’s up from four last season.

The teams that will start accepting Passbook tickets for the first time are the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. The New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, which began accepting Passbook last September, will again offer the service this season. MLB says there are three more teams that will enable iOS tickets this season, but that are not yet ready to make an official announcement.

MLB was among Apple’s first launch partners for Passbook, which went live with iOS 6 when it launched in September. That surely wasn’t a surprise to baseball fans who know MLB as the most tech-savvy league of all major professional sports. Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media Office, which is the digital arm of the league, responsible for, MLB.TV and the At Bat apps, is run by CEO Bob Bowman — who’s speaking at paidContent Live 2012 in April. Bowman has made MLB a frequent and early partner of Apple when it’s come to mobile tech.

Last week, MLB debuted the 2013 edition of its At Bat app for Android and iOS, which included more live, archive and embedded video content, and a new deal to include free game audio access.

He stays ahead of the tech curve by trying to anticipate what the next generation of fans — the kind that grew up with ubiquitous internet access — will want in a mobile experience and how they prefer to interact with their team. The smartphone “is the first screen, not second screen” for them, he told me Tuesday. That means a mobile offering “has to have everything. [The app] has to be slick. If it isn’t hip, cool and easy to use, [fans] are not going to use it.” That’s why “everything we write and plan this is on the first screen.”

That includes using your phone instead of a piece of paper to get into a game, as well as using it to sort stats or watch classic video. But MLB’s mobile efforts are not all iOS all the time. MLB At Bat is also on Android, a platform Bowman said is growing rapidly for MLB.

Right now, he said, iOS users account for 70 percent of the free version of At Bat. But that’s “shrinking every day” as Android has grown — he says thanks to Samsung’s good mobile hardware and its growing cool factor, as well as the Google Play store being better curated by Google.

However, when it comes to users that pay for At Bat — which is $20 per season — 85 percent are still iOS. But that’s changing too, he said. “Slowly.”

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Apple probably isn’t cracking down on native app cookie tracking — yet

#SuryaRay #Surya After some iOS apps using HTML5 first-party cookies as a type of user behavior tracking were rejected during Apple’s app review process, a recent report declared the move was the beginning of a broader policy push to get developers, publishers and advertisers to start using Apple’s Advertising Identifier. But that might not be the case.

The apps in question were rejected by App Store reviewers because of a user interface problem, not expressly because of the use of HTML5 cookies in apps, according to a source familiar with the situation. And there is no change in Apple’s policy, no new enforcement and “no crackdown” on cookie tracking at all, this source said.

Techcrunch reported on Monday that the rejections “signaled a push to its own identifier technology” and compared this move to how Apple began enforcing the move away from unique device identifiers (UDIDs) in late 2011. That was when Apple began to reject some apps that were using UDIDs, which are an anonymized number connected to an iOS device that publishers and advertisers could use to track user behavior and better target ads to those users. But UDIDs weren’t as anonymous or private as people thought; with just a bit more information like the user’s birthdate, gender or email address, which some apps were tracking, his or her location and identity could be resolved.

That’s why in September 2012 Apple introduced the Advertising Identifier, which let users have more privacy and gave them more control over what publishers and advertisers know about their use of apps. But Apple, so far anyway, is not forcing anyone to use it.

There are a handful of different tracking methods in use right now, said Craig Palli, vice president of business development at mobile app marketing company Fiksu. UDID has been officially phased out by Apple and few apps continue to use it, but there are five or six other methods also in use, including cookie tracking and the use of MAC addresses.

The apps in question (which have not been officially named and which sources were unwilling to relay) were rejected over clause 10.6 in the App Store guidelines, I’m told. That rule (rather vaguely) states, “If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected.” These apps, once launched, briefly kick a user over to mobile Safari (TO DO WHAT?) before bringing them back to the app — in other words, an experience that is not Apple’s ideal user interface for a native app. The company has “always rejected” apps that do that, this source said.

It is very possible that Apple will eventually want to move all apps over to the Advertising Identifier. But whatever is happening now isn’t really comparable — at least yet — to what happened with UDIDs, according to the source. Developers have not been told specifically by Apple to either use Advertising Identifier or not use other tracking methods like cookie tracking they way they were told in 2012 to stop using UDIDs.

Apple did not comment on whether the company would begin enforcing use of Advertising Identifier.

Palli, who is also quoted in the original story, notes that he personally knows of 10 apps — which he did not name — that use cookie tracking and were approved by Apple in the last month. “Some very large brands have been rejected, but those [app] rejections are not pervasive across the ecosystem,” he noted. In other words, there’s no real pattern yet in the rejections, perhaps other than a user interface rule violation.

_Thumbnail image courtesy Shutterstock user Cienpies Design_.

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Google Music Streaming Rumors and More News You Need to Know

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Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world.

Stories we’re watching this morning include news about Apple, Google and a video related to the viral craze that just won’t stop — the “Harlem Shake.”

According to a report from _Bloomberg_, Google is negotiating with record labels to license their music on a streaming service of its own. In Apple news, the company has agreed to settle a lawsuit over in-app purchases made too easily by children. And, lastly, one YouTube user has set out to put an end to the “Harlem Shake” — with a video that starts out as the “usual” dance, is interrupted by “Gangn…
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More About: apple, first to know, first to know series, Google, harlem shake, Music @suryaray

Apple Patents Situational Awareness And Location Information Sharing For Mobile Devices

#SuryaRay #Surya Apple was issued a couple of interesting new patents today (spotted by AppleInsider), including one that could make an iPhone aware of changes in a user’s situation, and alter phone settings accordingly. That would make for a mobile phone that might be able to automatically switch to silent mode when in a movie theatre, for instance, or which could wake from sleep upon being pulled out of a pocket. @suryaray

Apple will offer $5 credits for parents victimized by “bait apps”

#SuryaRay #Surya Letting kids rack up huge bills for virtual goods was a serious design flaw. @suryaray