AMITIAE - Friday 13 April 2012
Cassandra - Friday Review - The Weekend Arrives
By Graham K. Rogers
Opening Gambit:Thai water festival time and I have bolted the doors. Apple, the DoJ, Amazon and eBooks: Macmillan comes out fighting, other publishers give up. Will Amazon lose? Update news. iTunes, Apple and iCloud. Apple security tool released in Java update. Nokia dying bit by bit. iStudio reopens in Bangkok. KSC posts a message to Facebook after a tsunami warning and regrets it right away.
Apple StuffOn Wednesday, as expected, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a suit against Apple about the way the pricing of ebooks had been organised: moving to an agency model and giving the publishers back control of pricing which had been taken away from them by Amazon. As well as Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Penguin are named, although Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins did settle according to AppleInsider. They sure got together and did a deal. And the end result of the deal was that prices rose. However, as many point out, Amazon with its control of the market had been selling books at a loss.
Whether the getting together is conspiracy or a series of business meetings depends which side of a fence one sits. The publishers were upset with Amazon as under the arrangements they were forced to agree to -- selling at wholesale -- "Amazon repeatedly upset publishers by selling titles at a loss." Roger Cheng on CNET has some more information about this.
But what about Amazon? asks Johnny Evans on ComputerWorld. If that company was squeezing prices, shouldn't the DoJ be looking at that too? Evans thinks that the "end result could still surprise, and could work out quite badly for the complainant in the case, Amazon." What is that warning about disturbing a hornets' nest? Evans' fairly long article is well worth a look. Also worth reading is the CNET article from Declan McCullagh and Greg Sandoval who take a look at some expert views and it may be that the DoJ could lose against Apple because Apple was not there at key meetings. The key is the "model" for selling the books that was chosen: Amazon's wholesale model; or the agency model that the publishers wanted. The article has a number of useful quotes that are highly critical of Amazon.
Late on Thursday, I found a good (if lengthy) article by Graham Spencer on MacStories that explains the Agency model, the Wholesale model and the DoJ case that is being made.
With all the press highlighting Apple, it is easy to forget MacMillan has not taken the easy way out: the others laid on their backs for Eric Holder. Indeed, the CEO of MacMillan is pretty angry and has released an open letter, according to Electronista who have a link to the letter which criticises Holder and his merry men, particularly the way (he suggests) Amazon gets a free ride to take over the industry -- a monopoly, surely? This is something that others have expressed considerable doubts about.
So, now that the US DoJ is going for Apple, Australia has decided to join in according to Electronista who report that the Competition and Consumer Commission there is having a think about this. The UK is coming up slowly behind as well.
In the UK Apple is also being accused of dodging taxes, according to Dara Kerr on CNET. She picks up on a report from the Daily Mail that tells of income of some £6 billion with only £10 million paid in tax. From what I remember, a lot of Apple's sales are actually made in the Irish Republic where the online store is based, but the Mail is going to gnaw this bone for a while we guess.
Another change that was missed is reported by Erica Sadun on TUAW who writes that Apple has introduced discounts to iBook publishers via iTunes connect.
Foxconn also make the iPhone and, despite it being some 6 months old or more, with a new iPhone expected to be announced in about 2 months, the 4S is still selling really well worldwide we are told by AppleInsider. Indeed, figures suggest that it is selling better than in the end of 2011 buying season. The report also gives figures of other handset makers.
While Apple was talking about producing an app for removal of the Flashback malware, F-secure has already come up with a removal script, so Topher Kessler tells us. He has an description of what it is (and does) plus a link to the download.
Other MattersA report on the BBC Business site tells us that Nokia is expecting major losses. It had earlier reported that it expected to break even. A disaster, analysts say and the company is declining faster than expected. But for some of us, the moment Microsoft started sniffing around, the end was inevitable. Look what happened to Yahoo! Redmond had a look and the upheavals there have nowhere near ended.
I was watching the BBC on Thursday evening and there was their bubbly Australian correspondent, Aaron Heslehurst talking about losses that formerly iconic companies -- Sony was mentioned -- are reporting and in each case, he mentioned Apple.
The Register's Andrew Orlowski was fairly blunt about Nokia, writing, "Nokia's comeback will fail unless Microsoft pulls its finger out" but there seems to be a general feeling that, like RIM, the end is coming, although the beast might not die just yet. Although the Beast of Redmond needs to do something apart from sitting on its haunches.
Local ItemsOn Wednesday evening an SMS message from a friend -- the same one who told me about the World Trade Center on 9/11 -- let me know that there was a serious tsunami warning for the Andaman coast of Thailand after a big earthquake of 8.6 on the Richter Scale, with an aftershock of 8.3. All the services went into full alert, the airport was shut, causing many cancelled flights, people evacuated (they sure remember the first one) and everything went according to plan, although the wave that was reported off Indonesia was less than a metre, so everyone went back home.
KFC thought they saw an opportunity and posted to Facebook, "Let's hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don't forget to order your favorite KFC menu", which was not well received. Several sites had this -- all over the world, we see -- and Matt Brian reports that KFC were in their own damage control mode very quickly, removed the message and asked for forgiveness. Rapid communications are the norm these days and I am not surprised to see such an opportunistic try here, but some things are just not appropriate. Think before posting.
A board outside informed customers that the reopening was at 6pm and there was an offer of a free mug.
I do note that the wall behind the iMacs looks suspiciously false and there is still renovation of the retail space next door, so I am wondering if there is a plan for expansion being put into effect. If not, the store looks exactly as it did before the renovation began.
But still no solid news of the iPad arrival here. . . .
Late NewsWe read on Foss Patents Friday morning that Apple has now been allowed to join the lawsuit that Lodsys brought against several iOS developers a while back. While Lodsys lawyers had strenuously objected to Apple joining the party, but the new judge in the case has allowed this, but the "intervention is limited to the issues of patent exhaustion and licensing"
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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