AMITIAE - Wednesday 2 May 2012
Cassandra - Wednesday Review - The Week in Full Swing
By Graham K. Rogers
Apple MattersWe mentioned Tim Worstall on Monday for the way he took on Reuters over the misconceptions that their reports on Foxconn suicide threats left concerning the factory they worked at and Apple. Now he is taking on the NYTimes over their extensive reporting on Apple and tax payments: or how Apple (legally) avoids paying some taxes.
You can tell how bad this is by the Joy of Tech cartoon put out this week.
In Forbes, Tim Worstall points out that Charles Duhigg and David Kocieniewski claim Apple paid 9.8% but,
This really is the most gargantuan ignorance on their part. The $3.3 billion has nothing, nothing at all, to do with the $34.2 billion: something which any accountant at all could have told them. . . .
and provides a link to a report which was produced by a pressure group called the Greenlining Institute. That 9.8% was their figure and the NYTimes guys may have missed (deliberately or otherwise) or ignored this and other important points that Tim Worstall brings to the reader's attention. He ends page 1 of his article . . . "Which is obviously clear and present nonsense, entire argle bargle of which at least the newspaper should be ashamed."
Among comments on the second page, Worstall writes, "Appalling, ignorant, calculation cobbled together by small time think tank. Two weeks later it is stated as simple fact in the newspaper of record."
My original link for this was MacDaily News who also have some strong criticism of the NYTimes. Tim Worstall also wrote another version -- which is much more fun -- for the Register. Also writing about the same erroneous approach is Arik Hesseldahl on All Things Digital, who had 6 years earlier written about Apple's Nevada operation. He takes the NYTimes writers to task for suggesting Apple are doing something illegal and for the comments they included about the funding of a community college mentioned in the article: a different set of funds, so totally unaffected and another example of NYTimes fudging the facts. You really cannot trust the traditional news sources at all these days, can you?
Talking of legislators, Darius Dixon on Politico -- they have a great iPad app -- reports that Tom Coburn, who is Republican Senator for Oklahama, is said to be livid about the NYTimes report on Apple. Not livid that they got so much wrong, but livid that Apple appears to be avoiding the paying of taxes. If you leave the a loophole, their accountants are going to use it. And if most of Apple's money is made out of the US, they are perfectly correct not to repatriate it if they think the tax rate (35%) is too high. In an article on AppleInsider, Mikey Campbell also reports on the Senator's comments and looks at some of the points he made concerning the need to rewrite the tax code (good) and is quoted as being "livid about the situation" which is a little different from the Politico, ". . . livid about that." Indeed, the Senator's comments are much fairer when read here and he apparently recognises the wrongness that the tax codes embody: "Let's make it transparent. And let's make it fair."
Mikey Campbell also mentions a Fox News report that was critical of the NYTimes reporting.
But the newspaper of record has a habit of doing this sort of thing with Apple. The fallout from the Foxconn report, which Apple was already taking steps to address before the NYTimes peppered Mike Daisey's lies with some ideas of its own and presented them to the world, is still ongoing with Reuters trying to make something out of nothing by including two unrelated points in a report (Foxconn workers at an unmentioned Microsoft factory, plus Apple's profits), while Greenpeace keeps blaming Apple for the pollution woes of the world.
However, to be fair, Apple's data center is going to consume a lot of power and the power company admits this. Or did. Mother Jones has found that while Apple intends to use solar power, Duke Energy pulled the information from its site. Rather than targeting Apple, Mother Jones and others like Greenpeace need to pressure Duke. It is absurd to suggest that if Apple speaks, Duke will magic the problems away; and also absurd to suggest that somehow Apple could find another power supplier in the area. They do not grow on trees. As the article tells us at the end, no one knows what Apple will do as it expands.
However, Bloom Energy, are reported by Martin LaMonica to be starting work on a new plant in Delaware where its Bloom boxes will be made. These will be used to supply fuel cells for Apple's data center which will have 4.8 megawatts worth of fuel cells powered by biogas using a chemical reaction to make electricity. You know, clean energy and all that. Anyone seen Mad Max 3?
Back in Australia, however it is reported that the authorities are to have a look at pricing of downloads, with Apple and Microsoft being mentioned in the article by Jon Russell on TNW. I had a look at the top 5 in Thailand which are Angry Birds Space HD ($2.99), Infinity Blade ($0.99), iPhoto ($4.99), Ski Safari ($0.99) and Birzzle Pandora HD ($0.99). In the US Store, these are identically priced. In Australia, all of the apps are identical except for iPhoto which is $5.49, although not having an account there, I cannot say if this is US or Australian dollars. Whichever it is, the price is clearly not the same. Adobe is also mentioned in the article and the prices in Thailand are often far higher than in the US.
While we are on developers, it was reported by a number of sources, including Mikey Campbell on AppleInsider that Apple is urging the developers to start registering with Apple for Developer IDs in readiness for the Gatekeeper launch.
While Apple loses some execs, it picks up others and MacNN reports that a Yahoo! exec, Jessica Jensen, has been poached to work on Apple's iAds.
Half and HalfA lot of people (myself included) thought Samsung were behind the Wake Up stunt that took place outside the Apple store in Sydney last week, so Samsung were stung into a denial. Others like Larry Dignan began to dig around. Wake Up indeed, it was RIM all the time, reports Luke Hopewell, among several others. Another example of a company that really does not know what to do next?
Murdochs making the NewsAn important point about writing for a newspaper is to write about the news and not to be the news. It appears that the Murdoch empire has been failing on this for a number of years and because of its need to sell newspapers stooped to some pretty low tricks including hacking phones: UK royalty, stars, murdered children. It was the last of course that was the straw that broke the camel's back when it came to light and several inquiries and committees were set up in the UK to try and shed some light on it (they will never get to the bottom of it -- too many secrets).
While the Leveson Inquiry has yet to report, and the job of a Minister of the Crown is on the line right now because of alleged connections between him and James Murdoch, a parliamentary committee has issued a report which I first heard about on the BBC News Tuesday evening. In the report, there were words like "wilful blindness" (Rupert), "wilful ignorance" and a "lack of curiosity (James) -- even after he had signed off on £700,000 -- "indefensible behaviour" (Rebekah Brooks) and serious questions about the veracity of some evidence other players presented to the MPs. The report ended, "We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company" (John Hall, Independent)
Now what the BBC failed to mention in the report I saw was that several of the committee members (the Conservatives) refused to sign off on that last point because they felt it was not within the remit of such a committee. Nonetheless, they seem to have agreed with all that "wilful" stuff.
What is more interesting, apart from what else is to come from other reports and other inquiries, is the way the US regulators will take this. The woolly Brits are fairly hands-off when it comes to regulating companies, but the Americans are likely to take this far more seriously. While certain of the middle to top players could be facing prison sentences, or at best hefty fines, the top men may not be the top men for all that much longer.
There was more on this and a copy of the 125-page report on a Huffington Post article (Jack Mirkinson) and other useful links at the end. This story is still ongoing.
It will not be a surprise to me -- he always does this when he does not get his own way -- if Murdoch hits back. He will probably castigate the committee, particularly the Labour members, and one by one we may be shocked to find each of them has secrets they wish they did not have. How these might be discovered, if they exist at all, is anyone's guess.
Thanks to the Register, I have downloaded the report myself and I am able to put a link to it it here.
Other MattersThere was some interesting news concerning Microsoft this week. Fresh from the conclusion of litigation with Barnes & Noble, Microsoft invested $300 million in the publisher with a deal on e-reading we read in an item by Don Reisinger. Another check and balance against Amazon?
On InfoWorld, Woody from Phuket, has some interesting comments on the investment.
Local ItemsThere was an email in the inbox on Monday evening which I think came from the Bangkok Post. There was no text, no explanation, just a sender address (that could have been a trap of course) and two URLs. Fortunately, with Quick Look on a Mac, the URL link can be viewed and it was a page for a Bangkok Post iPad app, called Thai Pad. The name reminded me more of the Taiwanese Pad-Phone than anything else. Rather than use the email link, I went to iTunes, thinking if it was anything like the magazine thing that the Post claimed was a valid replacement for its daily supplements, I would not be impressed. I was not impressed. Not that the app itself was bad at all: it followed the pattern of a number of other similar apps, for example the New Yorker. The content was a different matter and falls far short of what I think could be included.
Compare then the approach of the Singapore Straits Times who are forming a readers advisory panel to help shape the content.
Late NewsJudge Posner fired a warning shot across the bows of Apple lawyers this week, "I've had my fill of frivolous filings by Apple" (Foss Patents).
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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