Vendor News

Apple "Reboots" Auto Strategy?

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Apple

Apple is "rethinking" its top secret plans for self-driving cars, the New York Times reports-- allegedly the initiative is so troubled the company is partially shutting it down and laying of "dozens" of employees.

Codenamed "Titan," the project originally involved the building of an actual self-driving car. However this appears to be too much for Apple, since it is reportedly setting its aims lower to focus on backbone autonomous vehicle technology. According to the NYT Apple got over 1000 employees working on the project in around 18 months, but the team continued to struggle to "bring to a self-driving car that other companies could not."

Google parent Alphabet has been testing self-driving cars for quite some time, while Tesla vehicles already have such a feature (if one that lead to a fatal accent in recent months). Meanwhile Uber owns Otto, a specialist in robotics and autonomous technology. Automakers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are also getting in the autonomous vehicle game, and are expected to release such a machine to market in 5 years or less.

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EC Hits Apple With €13 billion Tax Bill!

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EC Hits Apple With €13 billion Tax Bill!

Following a lengthy investigation the European Commission (EC) concludes the Irish government granted "undue tax benefits" to Apple-- leading to a tax bill worth up to €13 billion plus interest.

According to Reuters the sum is 40x bigger than any previous EC demand to a company in a tax-related case. However it can be reduced if other countries do like Ireland and demand more tax from Apple.

Ireland already has a relatively low corporation tax rate of 12.5%, but Apple managed to get a deal from the Irish government of a corporate tax rate of just 1% in 2003. This was lowered even further to 0.005% in 2014. Such selective tax treatment is deemed illegal under EU state rules, and as a result EC demands the Irish government has to recover unpaid taxes for the 2003-2014 period.

The investigation kicked off in 2014 following claims the Irish government broke EU laws with tax rulings agreed with Apple in 1991 and 2007.

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Microsoft and Lenovo Deepen Relationship

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Microsoft and Lenovo Deepen Relationship

Microsoft announces a "deepening of strategic relationships" with Lenovo in a deal having Lenovo preload Microsoft apps on select devices, as well as a "patent cross-licensing agreement."

The Microsoft apps in question are of the productivity variety, such as Office, OneDrive and Skype. They will be found in premium Android-powered Lenovo smartphones and tablets.

“Our collaboration with Microsoft will create new opportunities for our customers to take advantage of some of Microsoft’s most popular apps,” Lenovo says. “Installing Microsoft apps and services on our devices will bring additional value to consumers around the globe.”

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Foxconn Completes Sharp Takeover

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Foxconn Completes Sharp Takeover

Foxconn finalises the $3.5 billion acquisition of struggling Japanese display maker Sharp after months of negotion, not to mention a prolonged review of the deal by Chinese anti-monopoly authorities.

"Sharp hereby announces that all examinations by the competition authorities of the relevant countries have been completed," a statement from the company reads. "Herewith, the conditions precedent to the payment of the New Shares have been satisfied. Therefore, transaction from the Planned Allottees are expected to be made in accordance with our agreement as soon as possible."

Following the acquisition Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi steps down. Replacing him is Foxconn vice chairman Tai Jeng-wu.

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Incipio Buys Griffin

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Incipio Buys Griffin

Incipio follows the June Skullcandy buy with the acquisition of Griffin Technology, the maker of mobile device accessories, for an undisclosed sum.

"Griffin has a 25-year history of designing, manufacturing and distributing iconic mobile accessories," Incipio says. "As part of Incipio Group, Griffin strengthens our product development and manufacturing capabilities, complements our existing product lines in rugged cases, power and connectivity, and allows our brands to reach a broader domestic and international audience through enhanced distribution in the business-to-business, enterprise and education verticals."

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Apple Buys More Machine Learning With Turi

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Apple Buys More Machine Learning With Turi

Apple sets to push further into machine learning and artifical intelligence as it acquires Turi, a company self-described as a “machine learning platform for developers and data scientists.”

News of the acquisition first emerged from the rumour mill, before Apply dryly confirmed the deal with the usual "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans” statement. As such no financial details are available, even if GeekWire claims Turi cost over $200 million.

Formerly known as Dato (and before that GraphLab), Turi develops tools for developers wanting to build apps with machine learning and AI capabilities, such as recommendation engines, fraud detection, customer churn prediction, sentiment analysis and customer segmentation. It also runs the Data Science Summit, a 2-day conference with a focus on (shockingly enough) data science.

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China-Based LeEco Buys Vizio

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China-Based LeEco Buys Vizio

LeEco, the Chinese internet and CE company, acquires Vizio-- the 2nd biggest TV maker in the world following Samsung-- for $2 billion, creating a combined entity worth $4 billion.

Post-acquisition Vizio should continue operating under the same name as a wholly-owned subsidiary. However its viewer data business Inscape will spin off into a separate privately-owned company controlled by Vizio founder and CEO William Wang.

"I have mixed feelings," Wang admits about the deal. "As the owner and father of Vizio, I am very reluctant to let it go. But as the CEO and owner of the company, I know this is the right decision to make for our hard-working employees and loyal shareholders."

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Apple Sells 1 Billion iPhones

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Apple Sells 1 Billion iPhones

Apple loves big numbers, and a recent employee meeting had it reveal a pretty big iPhone-related one-- iPhone sales have officially reached the 1 billion milestone.

"iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It's become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day," Apple CEO Tim Cook says. “Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day."

The announcement comes 9 years after the revelation of the first iPhone, and almost 5 years the death of the late, great Steve Jobs. It also comes at a perhaps not-so-great time for the smartphone, as fiscal Q3 2016 sees iPhone reach a historic low of 40.4 million, a -15% Y-o-Y decline from the 47.54m sold the previous year.

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Apple's Latest Money Maker: Pokémon Go

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Apple's Latest Money Maker: Pokémon Go

Nintendo and Niantic are not the only two companies profiting from the global craze that's Pokémon Go-- Apple also stands to rake in the billions from the the augmented reality game, brokerage Needham & Co says.

How come? The game is available for free from the App Store, but offers players a chance to purchase additional boosts and features through "PokéCoins," a virtual currency exchanged for very real money. The exchange rate stands at ?€0.90 for 100 PokéCoins, but can go up as much as ?€91.17 for a bundle of 14500.

The result, analyst Laura Martin says, is if Apple keeps 30% of PokéCoin transactions held through iDevices it stands to see an App Store revenue windfall of up to $3 billion.

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Apple Researches Better Cameras in France

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Apple Researches Better Cameras in France

French newspaper Dauphiné Libéré reports Apple is opening a research laboratory in Grenoble, France-- one with the aim to build better imaging technologies for iDevices.

The company already has a team of over a dozen researchers and engineers working in imaging R&D at the Minatec European research sensor. However, the new laboratory in Grenoble will allow it to increase researcher numbers, as well as offer specialised sensor development equipment.

The site reportedly spans 800 square metres and will host around 30 engineers as part of a collaboration with STMicroelectronics.

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Italy Gets iOS Developer Academy

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Italy Gets iOS Developer Academy

Apple will open the first iOS Developer Academy in Naples, Italy on October 2016, at the new campus of the University of Naples Federico II.

"We are thrilled to be working with University of Naples Federico II to launch the first iOS Developer Academy in Europe," Apple CFO Luca Maestri says. "Some of the most creative developers in the world come from Europe, and we are confident this center will help the next generation get the skills they need for success."

During the first year the academy will offer a 9-month course complete with both practical skills and app development training based on an Apple-penned curriculum. It is currently looking for both students and teaching staff.

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