by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 8th 2014 3:48pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 5th 2013 5:35am
from the this-again? dept
Apple argued as follows: the decision was not based on any hard data flowing from a study of actual use and merely replicated a previous decision applicable to mobile telephones, which decision was quashed for failing to properly carve out professional use....And, yes, technically, this tax is not supposed to be on "piracy" but on "legal copies" made, but everyone knows that argument is a smokescreen. The whole point of levies has really been to try to compensate copyright owners for copies they can't directly tax. And, while Apple will have to pay up here, you can bet this will end up coming out of consumers pockets, as always happens with copyright levies, which serve to (1) make innovative technologies more expensive and (2) build a giant bureaucracy where not much money ever actually goes back to artists.
[....] However, Copie France sought an award of a provisional amount, relying not on decision #13 but rather on the general statutory principle that such compensation is due. The Court agreed with this line of reasoning, noting that such principle was enshrined in both domestic and European law. It further noted that Apple, as supplier of the equipment at issue, was indeed the party that owed the levy. The Court thus fixed the amount of the provision at €5,000,000, to be applied against the final sum to be determined for the period between February and December 2011 (and ordered that its judgment be enforceable notwithstanding any appeal).
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 15th 2012 7:23am
from the truth-in-advertising dept
None of this was enough for one guy, however, as Andrew Sokolowski is now suing Microsoft claiming that Microsoft is misrepresenting the device. While he's seeking class action status, unlike many class action lawsuits that are all about money, it's actually nice to see that he's not seeking any money -- just asking Microsoft to stop misrepresenting the product.
I can't find the actual lawsuit on PACER yet, though I imagine it'll be up soon. On the whole, while I find it incredible (and so typically Microsoft) that Microsoft is selling the tablet loaded down with so much software, does that really require a legal response? The story is getting out in the press, and people must know that at least some of the tablets they buy have pre-installed apps on them. It seems like a situation where an informed consumer is likely to know that this is one of the downsides of buying the Surface, and it's not clear that Microsoft needs to be legally compelled to explain how much free space is on the device out of the box.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 13th 2012 12:36pm
from the different-bets dept
"We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices."It's a great line in so many ways, because it highlights the different philosophies of Amazon and Apple. John Gruber's summary of those differences is a really worthwhile read (you should read the whole thing). His take on that particular line is dead-on:
Bezos's we want to make money only when you use it framing works two ways. First, it explains the Kindle Fires' noticeably lower retail prices in a way that doesn't make them seem cheaper, only less expensive. It frames Apple's prices -- and profit margins -- as greedy. Second, it works as a sort of guarantee -- if you don't actually use it, we won't even make any money on it.Later Gruber made a second point that got me thinking (and rethinking...)
Apple's goal is to sell as many iPads as it can. Amazon's goal is to sell as many Kindle Fires as it can to a specific audience: active Amazon.com customers.I've talked in the past about how Apple's digital goods sales have really been about being the "low margin" leader (if not the loss leader) to drive more sales of the hardware. The digital goods -- content and apps -- make the hardware much more valuable and help drive up the amount people are willing to pay. And that tends to fit with the basic economics I believe in: focus on using the "abundant" (digital) to make the "scarce" more valuable, for which people will pay a premium, especially since that "scarce" can't be "pirated." Apple has, in many ways, put that particular economic concept at the center of how it does business, even if I'm uncomfortable with the closed nature of its overall setup around that.
Amazon, however, has flipped the equation. Their "low margin leader" is the hardware, and they basically appear to want to make their money up on the digital goods purchases. Just as Apple doesn't lose money on selling digital goods (it just makes a very little amount), it appears that Amazon will be making only a little bit on the hardware, but hopes to make the big money on selling the abundant: digital goods via the Kindle store.
I will admit that I struggle with this a bit. I find it hard to bet against Bezos, because on an awful lot of things I think he makes the right bet. Plus, frankly, I'm a lot more comfortable with Amazon as a platform than with Apple. Finally, from a consumer standpoint, I think Apple's hardware seems really overpriced, but Amazon's new prices are really compelling. But economically speaking, there's a voice in the back of my head that says that Apple has this right and Amazon has this wrong. Apple is betting on using the abundant to increase the value of the scarce and then selling that. Amazon is betting on using the scarce to increase the ability to sell the abundant. Perhaps it works because of Amazon's closed Kindle platform and its dominance in the market allows it to make this counter-economical bet. Artificial limitations allow for such things, and Amazon's got the power to control a large segment of the ebook market, which really helps the company out.
In the long run, though, if a competitive market is truly created, it seems more likely that there will be more pricing pressure on Amazon's bet than on Apple's. But, in the short term, Amazon's flip-flopped market certainly could make a lot of sense.
Of course, if you really want to make this fun, just add Google to the equation. It, like Amazon, seems to be focusing on cheap, barely profitable hardware, a la the Nexus 7. It's also put a big effort (recently) into selling digital goods via the Android "Play" store. But Google's business has always been about ads, so it actually adds a third factor to how it views the world, and which part of the business subsidizes which other parts of the business.
In the end, you're left with three big bets on tablets, with very different underlying business models*:
- Apple: High margin hardware (scarce); make just a little on digital goods (abundant).
- Amazon: Low margin hardware (scarce); make the real margins on digital goods sales (abundant)
- Google: Low margin hardware (scarce); make some margins on digital goods (abundant), but cross subsidize both with the ad business.
Which strategy works in the end may say a lot about how you view the world economically.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Sep 10th 2012 3:04am
from the new-state-sponsored-tablet-or-cross-dresser's-quarters dept
Russia, yes that Russia, is looking to produce its own tablet, unfortunately titled the "RuPad." It should do well, considering it should be able to corner every market (but the black one) and become the "must have" tablet for both Russian government employees and the general public alike. There's nothing like the implicit threat of general statist unpleasantness to move a few thousand units.
Unlike Android tablets elsewhere in the world, the RuPad will provide users with unprecedented privacy, protecting their info from rogue capitalists like Google:
"The operating system has all the functional capabilities of the Android OS, but does not contain the covert functions of sending private user data to Google headquarters," Andrey Starikovsky, the general director of the university-based company behind the tablet, told Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.So, rather than being subjected to targeted personal ads and
On the bright side, Russians won't have to waste much time comparison shopping or camping out overnight for the latest iThing. I'm sure the RuPad will come highly recommended by salespeople wishing to keep their jobs and family members intact.
The expected retail price isn't exactly consumer-friendly (15,000 rubles/$460), but when you've got a powerful built-in market for your product, competitive prices aren't really a concern.
Developers at the ministry's Central Scientific Research Institute said their main client is—and will probably always be—the state and its top brass. "The military version will be shock- and water-proof," Russian media quoted production unit director Andrei Starikovsky as telling Rogozin at the presentation.Like the GLONASS satelitte system before it, the RuPad appears to be another state project that results in something usable by the general public. But for it to be Mother Russia-approved, the Android system has to be purged of its innate data harvesting properties. This homegrown Android version may have a chance for some stress testing as soon as it goes live, as Project Manager Dmitry Maikhailov has boldy invited hackers to punch holes in the system.
"They are not afraid of Google or the US government stealing things per se. They are afraid of leaks in general," the operating system's project manager Dmitry Mikhailov told AFP. "There is nothing like this operating system on the market. It is hack-proof," Mikhailov claimed. "There are people who are clamouring for this."Despite insistence that this is a "military-first" project, pre-orders have already begun piling up, at least according to the manufacturer. And maybe there is a crowd of wealthier Russians looking to get their hands on some retail-ready military hardware. It worked for the Humvee. Why not a "shockproof, waterproof, hackerproof" tablet that runs a proprietary version of Android? (Currently sporting the name "RoMOS," which looks to be another possible name for the tablet itself.)
One would imagine the government/military version would come with all needed software pre-loaded, but the average consumer might need to do a bit of rooting in order to install anything that isn't Russia-approved. Google has been kicked to the curb app-wise, as well:
"Some of the components will be imported, and the assembly will be carried out by a Russian-based leading defense institute. We excluded Google Market from it for safety reasons,” said Starikovsky.There's no firm release date ("before the end of 2012") on the RuPad/RoMOS/ANTiGoogle, but considering the operating system has been in development for "over five years," it would seem like "any day now" would be a good bet. Of course, it's headed to the military and top government officials first, so it could be several more months before the specs make it out into the wild. Until the illustrious debut of the People's Tablet, feast your eyes on the Glorious Past of Russian Komputing!
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 6th 2012 1:13pm
Disruption Starts With A Foot In The Door: Amazon's New Data Plan Is Limited But Potentially Revolutionary
from the need-pressure-from-somewhere dept
Amazon's offer here is a way to tiptoe into that pool with something of an alternative. Yes, they're just piggybacking on someone else's network via some sort of MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) agreement, so you're still really using one of the national carriers' networks. But from a consumer standpoint, it is offering something of an alternative for mobile data, at much more reasonable prices (though, obviously, the super low caps match that super low pricing). That, alone, doesn't revolutionize mobile data pricing, but it does seem like a way for Amazon to get its foot in the door and expand over time. Amazon has a long history of figuring out ways to do things in a consumer-friendly manner, even if it means undercutting others to do so (which has made it a few enemies). In the presentation itself, Jeff Bezos noted that they're focused on making money elsewhere -- basically as people buy things via the device -- and thus the company has tremendous incentive to keep the prices of the devices and the service quite low. And that has the potential to be quite disruptive.
In some ways, I look at it as similar (in a very different context) to Google's fiber effort in Kansas City. In both cases, you have companies sort of dipping their toes in the water of ancillary markets that make their primary markets more valuable. They're very limited at this time, and many people may brush them off as being useless. But that's what always happens with The Innovator's Dilemma. Offer something simple and small, and the legacy players brush it off as too small or too limited to matter. But keep improving on that, and you undercut legacy providers without them fully realizing what's happening -- often because you're using your tiny and "weak" efforts there to actually enhance your primary market, where the traditional players have no presence.
Lots of people are reasonably mocking the 250MB limit. It is kinda useless. But, look at it as a wedge, and the beginning of the climb up the innovation slope, making Amazon's core business more valuable... and things could actually get quite interesting.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 24th 2012 4:45pm
from the ouch dept
Minor update: After the rush, the judge came back to point out two problems with the verdict -- including the jury awarding damages in cases where it had not found infringement. While this will be corrected and won't change the results much, it certainly suggests that the jury rushed through this and may not have taken this particularly seriously. When you start talking about the numbers being thrown around in damages here, at some point, it must start to feel like play money. But it's a pretty big indictment of the jury itself that it would make a mistake like this. It raises significant questions about how careful they were in getting to a verdict vs. how quickly they wanted to be done in time for the weekend.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 18th 2012 2:24pm
from the wow dept
The judge apparently told Apple to put a notice on its own website and in UK newspapers telling people that Samsung's Galaxy Tab -- which Apple is clearly afraid of -- isn't a copy. As you might imagine, Apple is not happy about this -- though it might as well include the stuff about Samsung's lack of coolness, if it must discuss things. Either way, Apple is protesting. According to the Bloomberg report linked above:
The notice should outline the July 9 London court decision that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets don’t infringe Apple’s registered designs, Judge Colin Birss said. It should be posted on Apple’s U.K. website for six months and published in several newspapers and magazines to correct the damaging impression the South Korea-based company was copying Apple’s product, Birss said.While I agree that Apple's lawsuit was a bad idea in the first place, and that the company should just compete in the marketplace, I'm at a loss as to the "damaging impression" that this lawsuit would have for Samsung. As the judge himself noted, the iPad is seen as being really cool. And the Samsung tablet... is not. So, why would it damage Samsung's reputation to have Apple claiming that the devices were too much alike? If anything, it seems like it should help Samsung by advertising which tablet Apple thinks is most like an iPad.
The order means Apple will have to publish “an advertisement” for Samsung, and is prejudicial to the company, Richard Hacon, a lawyer representing Cupertino, California-based Apple, told the court. “No company likes to refer to a rival on its website.”
by Michael Ho
Mon, Apr 16th 2012 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Peru spent $225 million on an education initiative that involved One Laptop per Child and 850,000 basic laptops for schools throughout the country. Unfortunately, the results so far have not shown much improvement in math or reading scores. [url]
- India's $35 tablet, the Aakash, is being revised and will probably cost closer to $50. The next version will be called 'Aakash 2' (not the 'new Aakash') and offer a capacitative touch screen. [url]
- Wilco Electronics is bidding on a contract to make Aakash tablets and to create a pilot program for these devices in underserved Philadelphia schools. But if Peru is any indication of what will happen.... [url]
- To discover more interesting education-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 19th 2012 3:33am
from the about-time dept
Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, explained that the current guidelines require that an airline must test each version of a single device before it can be approved by the F.A.A. For example, if the airline wanted to get approval for the iPad, it would have to test the first iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad, each on a separate flight, with no passengers on the plane.But, hopefully, a better, more efficient process can be found, and people will actually be able to use these devices on airplanes that aren't just over 10,000 feet...
It would have to do the same for every version of the Kindle. It would have to do it for every different model of plane in its fleet. And American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.)
Ms. Lunardini added that Virgin America would like to perform these tests, but the current guidelines make it “prohibitively expensive, especially for an airline with a relatively small fleet that is always in the air on commercial flights like ours.”