Author Archives: Seth Weintraub

European Commision to accuse Ireland of giving illegal state aid to Apple, fines could be €Billions

Apple-FT-Trouble-Brussels

It looks like this week’s Apple “xxx-gate” is a big one with the Financial Times reporting that the European Commision is about to come down hard on Apple for its long held tax avoidance strategies in Ireland.

Typically the EU has used its state aid powers to address broader competition issues. But in the past year Brussels has attempted to target the tax affairs of companies such as Apple, Starbucks and Amazon. It is a novel application of the law with far-reaching implications, not just for the companies, or EU countries, but for EU-US relations in general.

This week the European Commission will publish the first findings in the Apple case. The details – including evidence from bygone tax negotiations – are likely to be explosive.

The US is no happier with Apple’s use of specially created Irish tax loopholes which allow it to avoid paying taxes it would otherwise be due. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other execs faced Senate Subcommittee questioning in May in which focused on Apple’s tax avoidance schemes.

9to5-image 2014-09-28 at 9.03.24 PM

Did Apple apply pressure to Irish authorities in 1991 and again in 2007 when negotiating tax deals and if so were these illegal competitive measures that gave Apple advantages over competitors? Luca Maestri, Apple’s finance chief, of course denies any wrongdoing…

“If countries change the tax laws, we will abide by the new laws and we will pay taxes according to those laws,” Maestri is quoted as saying.

In August, Apple started campaigning hard on its benefits to Europe saying it had created 629,000 jobs on the continent, many from the App Store.

Apple’s rebuttal falls into two major categories:

  1. The commission’s attempt to retrospectively apply international guidelines on taxing branches of multinationals is misleading and wrong. The OECD rules only came into force in 2010, and have yet to be adopted by Ireland.
  2. Apple argues the rates agreed with Irish authorities are appropriate. It hopes to show its tax bills were a measure of the profits attributable to its Irish subsidiaries and within a similar profit range to comparable companies.

Maestri said that Apple plans to stay in Ireland no matter what the outcome of the investigation yields.

Perhaps a little irony here: If Ireland is found to have made special deals with Apple, it stands to make a great windfall of money from the fines and new taxes levied on Apple.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: App Store, Apple, Europe, European Commission, Financial Times, Ireland, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Starbucks

For more information about AAPL Company, Apple, and App Store continue reading at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "European Commision to accuse Ireland of giving illegal state aid to Apple, fines could be €Billions" with our community.

Review: Intrepid’s Journeyman – an impressive leather messenger bag that can go corporate

Intrepid-messenger-bag-journeyman

Indiana Jones meets bike messenger meets business briefcase is how I’d describe Intrepid’s $369 Journeyman messenger bag. My carrying case of choice over the past 3 months has been this hybrid satchel/briefcase that you carry like a messenger bag comfortably on your back with a big strap holding it up firmly but comfortably across your chest.

Inside the thick Saddle Leather enclosure held tight by two belt straps is a Herringbone-lined interior fit for the businessperson. It features a padded enclosure for both a 13-inch laptop (MacBook Air in my case) as well as a 10-inch tablet (iPad Air in my case) as well as stow-away pockets for phones, cameras, notebooks, pens/pencils etc. There’s even a hidden slot for a passport (shhh).

Going from “Bike Messenger mode” into business meeting, you swing the pack around to your front where you can unload the contents onto a desk or use the leather handle strap above to go full corporate.

The thick “saddle leather” couldn’t be more impressive and besides the normal scuffs you get from months of use, I saw no flaws in the leather or the marine-grade nylon stitching holding it together. It exudes quality and craftsmanship and I’ve gotten more than a fair share of compliments about it. The only downside is leather isn’t for everyone and the price is “you get what you pay for” high.

Intrepid’s Journeyman is highly recommended if you are looking for a new way to carry your Apple products or a great gift idea.

Full gallery and specs below:

Journeyman Features:
• Cross-body messenger design
• Side mounted 2″ padded strap
• Rugged full-grain Saddle Leather
• Marine grade nylon stitching
• Solid steel hardware
• Herringbone lining
• Suspended floating 13″ laptop pocket
• Leather iPad pocket
• Hidden passport pocket
• Price: $369

intrepid bag Intrepid-108 Intrepid-110 Intrepid-129-Edit IMG_7642 j-hero2b


Filed under: Reviews Tagged: Apple, Backpack, Indiana Jones, iPad, Journeyman, Laptop, Leather, MacBook Air, Messenger bag, Strap

Visit 9to5Mac to find more special coverage of Apple, iPad, and Reviews.

What do you think? Discuss "Review: Intrepid’s Journeyman – an impressive leather messenger bag that can go corporate" with our community.

‘Apps for Health’ section hits App Store following Apple’s release of Healthkit enabled iOS 8.0.2

Apps-for-health

Now that Apple is 8.0.2 rolled out and we’re all relatively stable with a Healthkit-enabled OS, Apple is giving us a new section of the App Store for health-related apps. 

Experience an entirely new approach to wellness where your fitness app can talk to your calorie tracker, your doctor can be automatically notified of updates to your health data, and great apps work together for a healthier you. This handpicked collection highlights the best fitness, nutrition, and medical apps customized for iOS 8.

Red prices on pink background?  They must have moved that Maps launch and iOS 8.0.1 guy over to design. 


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: App Store, Apple, Health, iOS, iPhone, maps, WebMD, Yummly

Visit 9to5Mac to find more special coverage of AAPL Company, Apple, and iPhone.

What do you think? Discuss "‘Apps for Health’ section hits App Store following Apple’s release of Healthkit enabled iOS 8.0.2" with our community.

Readle PDF Expert updated for iOS 8 with iCloud Drive and TouchID Support

PDF Expert is one of those great apps that actually works better than anything on my Mac for editing PDFs.

PDF Expert 5 is a must-have app for anyone who reads, annotates or edits PDF documents on iPad or iPhone. It allows you to mark up documents with highlights and handwriting, insert text and stamps, sign and even merge PDFs. Moreover, PDF Expert is the best choice for filling out PDF forms right on your iPad and iPhone.

Readle just dropped a significant update to its popular PDF Expert document management app for iPad and iPhone. The 5.2 version includes a number of iOS 8 specific updates including iCloud Drive Support, Document Picker access and TouchID support.

All users will see new features Zoom Writing, AirTurn support and Bookmarks improvements.

Readle-PDF-expert

Full change log:

What’s New in Version 5.2

Meet PDF Expert 5.2!

Amazing new features with a few iOS 8 exclusives.

- Zoom Writing (iPad)
This is a great tool to write with precision. Essentially, it adds the area that zooms in a part of the page and allows you to handwrite more on a single page or document margins. As you write, the zoomed box moves along the page, automatically adjusting to the pace you need to work at.

- AirTurn Support
Perfect news for musicians – now you can turn pages of notes and other documents simply by pressing AirTurn pedals or with your bluetooth keyboard arrow keys.

- Bookmarks Improvements:
Bookmarks manager gets amazing improvements in terms of features and looks.
+The Bookmark name editing is now inline
+The Position of the page you’re currently working on is now highlighted in your application PDF outline
+ All the bookmarked pages are clearly marked in the PDF pages manager
+ Annotations summary now includes the context from PDF outline.

iOS 8 Exclusives:

- iCloud Drive Support
Safely store all your presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, images and any other kind of documents in your PDF Expert iCloud folder. Directly access them from iCloud Drive on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or PC.

- Open files from iCloud Drive with Document Picker (iPad)
You can get documents stored on your iCloud Drive that are not in your PDF Expert application using Document Picker. It works almost like ‘Open in…’ dialog on your Mac or PC. On the PDF Expert side bar menu tap ‘Open…’ and navigate to the needed document.

- Open files from iCloud Drive with Document Picker (iPhone)
You can get documents stored on your iCloud Drive that are not in your PDF Expert application using Document Picker. It works almost like ‘Open in…’ dialog on your Mac or PC. On the PDF Expert bottom menu tap ‘Open…’ and navigate to the needed document.

- Use other iOS apps to work with the files from PDF Expert 5
In any Document Picker enabled application you can get access to all PDF Expert files that are outside the iCloud folder. Just tap ‘Locations’ in the Document Picker window and select PDF Expert from the list.

- Touch ID Support (iPhone)
Use Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint identity sensor, to unlock PDF Expert instead of a regular passcode.


Filed under: AAPL Company

For more news on AAPL Company continue reading at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "Readle PDF Expert updated for iOS 8 with iCloud Drive and TouchID Support" with our community.

Should you update your iPhone 4S to iOS 8? This video shows what you are in for

A few weeks ago we warned that iOS might be a little rough for iPhone 4S owners. Apple’s trailing edge iPhones always hobble a bit on the latest iOS release and test results on iOS 8 showed significant lag.

However, the video above sent in by a tipster shows that in everyday usage, the lag isn’t so bad when going from iOS 7.1.2 to 8.0.2 (most pronounced in App Store). Perhaps that point update released this week, besides fixing bugs, also included optimizations for the older phones.


Filed under: AAPL Company

Continue reading more about AAPL Company at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "Should you update your iPhone 4S to iOS 8? This video shows what you are in for" with our community.

Review: 5 inexpensive pocketable Bluetooth speakers from Omaker, Koss, Boombot and Mpow

Best Bluetooth Speakers

We’ve long held that the extra cost of high end Bluetooth speakers from Bose, Ultimate Ears, JBL and Cambridge Audio Minx (all pictured above top row) were well worth the extra money even at prices up near $200 and beyond. But the fact is that not everyone wants to spend a lot of money on a Bluetooth speaker, and portability and ruggedness are often priorities over pure sound. For those people, we went on a search for high quality Bluetooth speakers that cost much less.

Our top 5 are speakers in this category from reviewing about 20 are from Omaker, Koss, Mpow and Boombot

These speakers fit into two form factors: “Jambox sized” and “small square-ish.” Remember that these cost around $50 or less so don’t expect the kind of bass you get from the more expensive, bigger boxes above.

5: Koss BTS1 

($100 retail/$59 at Amazon) – Koss is a Milwaukee, WI-based company that has been producing value electronics for over 50 years. The BTS1 is probably the thinnest and lightest of the bunch here yet it has very good quality sound on the high end as well as 5 hour battery (confirmed in testing). It comes with both side mounted in and out AUX ports/cable and MicroUSB charging cable. In the back you’ll find a flip out stand which I didn’t find terribly useful because the speaker stands on its own fairly well. I usually laid it on its back in “Omni directional” mode however.

BTS1Lifestyle Koss-BTS1-Amazon BTS1Ports BTS1Controls

Bluetooth pairing is easy and straightforward, but this video helps. The downside of this speaker is its bass, which is a bit lacking as you’d probably expect from this thin/light of a form factor. It is still significantly better than the speakers built into a 15-inch MacBook Pro and it looks great, though at $59 it is at the high end of the devices we are reviewing here. It also lacks mic input for speakerphone calls if that is important to you.

The BTS1 is probably the most pocketable of the bunch however and I have no problem recommending it.

4: Boombotix Boombot Rex

($100 retail/$56 Amazon): This is the second generation of this speaker (I reviewed the 1st version favorably last year). This years adds louder bass and much improved battery life. The Boombot’s claim to fame is its heavy-duty clip and rugged enclosure which fell off my bike at speed a few times last year without a blip. It also claims IP53 waterproof which means it is OK out in the rain or good for a few splashes in the bathroom but don’t drop it in the pool.

REX_BLK_STUDIOSPLASHER REX_BKL_Rside Boombot-rex 9to5-image 2014-09-26 at 5.12.24 PM

While I don’t think it looks as nice as the Koss above and it isn’t as pocketable, the Rex lets you make speakerphone calls, the battery claims an extra few hours (8 total and 1 to charge) and it is wearable in many colors, making it good for outdoor use.

3: Omaker M3

omaker-m3-box omaker-m3-splash Omaker M3 9to5-image 2014-09-26 at 5.34.21 PM

($70 retail $30 Amazon) The Omaker M3 is very similar in size and function to the Boombotix Rex above. It is rain and snow proof and ruggedized and has similar sound and speakerphone capability and same 8 hour battery. It lacks the clip on the back but has easier to access buttons and is lighter than the Rex weighing just slightly more than the Koss above. The cost on the M3 is its breakaway feature at $30, making this one hard to pass up.

2: Omaker M2

61SXJAerS0L._SL1500_ 61BQdJ2J5rL._SL1500_ omaker-m2-review omaker-m2

($100 retail. $50 Amazon) The Omaker M2 is best sounding speaker in this group, on par with more expensive speakers like the Jawbone Jambox and even UE Boom Mini with rich bass that fills up a room. It also has Bluetooth low energy, which, combined with a huge 2000mAh battery, gives it 8 hours of loud playing.  The M2 is also the biggest, heaviest and comes with a questionable upside down leather handle that didn’t appeal to me aesthetically. It also doesn’t have a dedicated AUX-in port, instead opting for a combined MicroUSB/AUX cable which I lost almost immediately and had to go exclusively Bluetooth. This, at $50, is a great speaker to have on your desktop to make speakerphone calls.

1: Mpow MBOX portable

MBOW-MBOX 514iY5KNb6L._SL1500_ Mpow-mbox-review 61GL9nte3pL._SL1500_ 615Mof4yidL._SL1500_

($100 retail/ $49.99 Amazon) My favorite speaker of this bunch is the Mpow Mbox because it is durable, stylish, pocketable and sounds good. The chamfered aluminum edges look great with Apple products. It is smaller than the Omaker M2 and is maybe 85% the size of a Jambox. You can throw it in a pocket or a purse without breaking stride. It also has Bluetooth 4.0, which allows for efficient energy usage yielding a group-leading 10 hours from a 1500mAh battery. The buttons at the top are easy to use and well designed as are the ports on the back.  The speakerphone worked great as well. The downfalls were that the MBOX isn’t quite as rugged as others, as small as the Koss, nor did it sound as good as the M2.

Wrap Up

You aren’t going to go wrong with any of the speakers in this lineup. At $50 or less, each has qualities of much more expensive Bluetooth speakers.

Though sometimes you can find some of the higher end speakers at 9to5toys for $50 – keep an eye out.

If you need rugged/water resistant, grab the $30 Omaker M3 or Boombot Rex. If you want extremely portable, the Koss is for you. If you want great sound, you are after the Omaker M2. Otherwise, do what I did and grab a few Mpow MBOXs.


Filed under: Reviews Tagged: Bluetooth, Computer speaker, Jawbone, JBL, koss, mbox, mpow, omaker, Ultimate Ears

Visit 9to5Mac to find more special coverage of Reviews, Bluetooth, and Jawbone.

What do you think? Discuss "Review: 5 inexpensive pocketable Bluetooth speakers from Omaker, Koss, Boombot and Mpow" with our community.

Talking Schmidt: Google Chairman says Samsung had [iPhone 6-level products] a year ago[video]

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg are on their How Google Works book tour and they got the fun questions from Bloomberg.

At 5:30 in the video:

RUHLE: You mentioned smartphones. How do you feel in the last week when you drive by any Apple store, San Francisco, LA, New York, and there are people lined up around the block? So even though way more people carry Android phones, how does Apple have that desire factor?

SCHMIDT: I’ll tell you what I think. Samsung had these products a year ago.

Amusing.

More Schmidt:

RUHLE: You mentioned smartphones. How do you feel in the last week when you drive by any Apple store, San Francisco, LA, New York, and there are people lined up around the block? So even though way more people carry Android phones, how does Apple have that desire factor?

SCHMIDT: I’ll tell you what I think. Samsung had these products a year ago.

RUHLE: And nobody had a huge party. In the last month when Samsung came out with new products people weren’t losing their mind camping out. How does – what do you think about it?

SCHMIDT: I think Samsung had the products a year ago. That’s what I think.

SCHATZKER: Does it worry you at all that the companies that have adopted Android can’t make as much money in the smartphone business as Apple does? It’s a great business model for Google. You’ve populated the world with Android software through these mobile devices, whether they be tablets, phablets or smartphones, yet increasingly the likes of Samsung and others aren’t delivering the same kind of results.

SCHMIDT: If you look at Digicel as an example, this is a company which has pioneered a low-cost model with an awful lot of customers. They’ve changed the world. They’ve been a good partner. The fact of the matter is you can make a small market share with a lot of profits or you can make the same amount of money with a much larger market share and lesser profits. We go for volume in our strategies.

ROSENBERG: And it’s a model that’s creating far more choice for consumers, and more importantly, it’s driving the cost of smartphones down for consumers.

SCHMIDT: In fact I would say that this brutal competition between Apple and Google over Android and iOS has enormous benefits for consumers worldwide. If you look at the innovation on the Apple side and on the Google side, that competition which I think is the defining fight of the computer industry, it benefits global at the billions of people level

SCHATZKER: Would it be better if it were something more than a duopoly?

SCHMIDT: It’s always good to have more competitors, but trust me, between Apple and Google you’re seeing enormous, enormous racing.

SCHMIDT: And Amazon in fact is an Android user. Remember that Apple is a large Google search partner and a very tough Maps and phone competitor.


Filed under: AAPL Company

Continue reading more about AAPL Company at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "Talking Schmidt: Google Chairman says Samsung had [iPhone 6-level products] a year ago[video]" with our community.