The U.S. government has accused China of violating trade agreements by imposing “intrusive” and “protectionist” rules that would prevent companies like Apple selling technology to Chinese banks.
The regulations, announced by China last month, would have required Western companies to turn over source code for products sold to banks, supposedly to permit security checks to be made–a demand to which Apple and other tech companies could never agree.
The WSJ reports that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said today that the rules were unacceptable.
“China’s new regulations on the use of information and communications technology in the banking industry go directly against a series of China’s bilateral and multilateral trade commitments. For example, the rules would require technology transfer and use of domestic Chinese intellectual property as a precondition for market access—both of which China has committed not to do,” said Froman.
The rules aren’t about security. They are about protectionism and favoring Chinese companies,” he said. “The administration is aggressively working to have China walk back from these troubling regulations.”
The WSJ is suggesting that Apple’s growing presence in Israel is focused on expanding the company’s chip design capabilities, reporting that it has hired most of the local employees of a chip design company shut down by Texas Instruments and is advertising new positions in silicon and semiconductor design.
“Apple’s Israeli acquisitions and its expanding local workforce show that the company is becoming more and more independent on the chip level, where it once had to rely on external suppliers,” said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israeli Semiconductor Club.
While the report contains more speculation than hard fact, we noted yesterday that Tim Cook–who is currently visiting the country–is accompanied by Johny Srouji, whose bio on the Apple website says that he “leads all custom silicon architecture and development” …
It’s no secret that Apple’s activities in Israel to date have focused on chip design and related R&D. Its new offices in Herzliya are located close to Anobit, the NAND flash chip specialist Apple acquired back in 2011. The new offices are expected to accommodate between 600 and 1200 employees. Apple also has several hundred employees–many of them chip development specialists–at its R&D centre in Haifa.
Cook met with President Reuven Rivlin, and is also expected to meet with former President Shimon Peres during his stay in the country.
French site iGen is reporting that Tim Cook told an employee in the Kurfürstendamm Apple Store in Berlin that he wears his Apple Watch all the time–”even in the shower.” While Apple has previously mentioned water-resistance, and stated that the S1 innards are “completely encapsulated in resin,” this is the first time we’ve had a specific indication on what that means in practice.
Less happy news is that Apple doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to launch Apple Pay in Europe. Despite Visa stating that tokenization will be supported by April, and UK banks suggesting Apple Pay would reach the UK in the first half of the year, Cook said that the company’s goal is nothing more specific than “before the end of the year.” Apple is planning, however, to expand its mobile payments system into Canada as soon as March.
The Apple Watch of course isn’t the first shower-proof wearable …
Back in April of last year, when a luxury model of the Apple Watch was still a vague rumor, I wrote an opinion piece in which I expressed the view that Apple could indeed pull this off. I went further, and suggested that it could even create an entire range of luxury versions of its existing products, from iPhones to Macs.
Ten months on, with the Apple Watch Edition now real, and the general expectation that it’s going to cost several thousand dollars at least, I thought it was time to revisit that idea. Is a luxury model of the Apple Watch a one-off, or does Apple see this as the first step toward Edition models of its complete product range … ?
I should state very clearly at the outset that I’m not sure that gold is the right route for a luxury iPhone, and I’m certain it’s not for an iPad or Mac. While gold can look tasteful on small things like watches, it very quickly starts to look tacky if you scale it up. There are gold-plated iPhones out there, and to my mind they look a little too reminiscent of a gold ingot to pass the taste test.
It’s the reason I think Apple was very careful to choose a rather muted shade of gold for its existing range of iPhones. Scale real gold up to an iPad or MacBook, and … no. Just no. (I’m not even personally convinced about the iPhone-style gold color on a Mac.)
And Apple obviously isn’t going to do anything as unbelievably crass as embedding diamonds into its products. But I could see brushed platinum as possibility.
A brushed platinum line of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks could look tasteful, understated and yet be sufficiently visibly different to the standard models to satisfy the needs of those who care to display their wealth.
I’ve long thought it slightly odd that Apple has never done this. There’s a luxury market out there, and you can be pretty confident that when it comes to technology, most of it buys Apple kit. By failing to offer a luxury range, Apple is leaving money on the table.
Sure, you can spec up your iDevices, and Apple will charge you a handsome premium for the privilege–especially on MacBooks. But the luxury market isn’t, in the main, about specs: it’s about style and materials. Apple has the style already, and of course opted for glass and metal over plastic, but prior to the Apple Watch there were no luxury materials on offer.
I could see a couple of arguments against a luxury range. First, while Apple has unashamedly targeted a premium market, it has stopped short of being seen as elitist. Especially since the banking crisis, being associated with the 1% isn’t great PR for a company. But so long as you can still buy the standard models, I don’t think anyone is going to be bothered by the fact that there’s a much more expensive casing available.
The second opposing argument is that, unlike jewellery and traditional watches, which you might keep for a lifetime and even pass on to future generations, your iDevice is going to be outdated a year or two down the line. This is the reason some have speculated that the Apple Watch Edition might be upgradeable, allowing you to swap out the innards when next year’s tech comes along.
That’s possible. But I suspect not, for the simple reason that I don’t think Apple needs to do it. As John Gruber put it, the Apple Watch Edition is targeted at “people who don’t care” that their $X,000 purchase will need to be replaced a year or two down the line. I agree, so don’t think that argument applies either.
So: there’s no reason Apple couldn’t go down the luxury model route; the Apple Watch Edition demonstrates a willingness to do so; and there’s money there for the taking if it does the same thing with iPhones, iPads and Macs. I’m seeing Edition models of the complete range of Apple products as a real possibility.
What about you? Take our poll, and–as ever–let us know your views in the comments.
Almost everything Apple has done since the unfortunate passing of Steve Jobs has been met with comments about what the company would or wouldn’t have done had Steve still been here – even though his marching orders for Tim Cook were to never ask what he would have done.
But things certainly would have been different. The flattened user-interface of iOS 7 versus the skeuomorphic approach of the Jobs era. Would have it have happened at all? Would he have stopped it going quite so far? Would Apple have gone in a different direction.
What about an Apple Television? Steve said years ago that he “finally cracked it,” suggesting that he had a design and user-interface he was happy with. If the hold-up now is the content, would Steve have been able to bulldoze through the necessary deals to have launched it by now … ?
Would the man who declared that smartphone screens had to be small enough to reach everything with your thumb have finally given in to the inevitable and allowed not just the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6 but also the 5.5-inch one of the 6 Plus? If not, how would iPhones today be competing with their larger-screened competition?
Would Apple be launching the Apple Watch, or would a new product category from Steve have taken the company in a very different direction? And what of the Apple Car? We know Steve dreamed of making one–would work have started on that much earlier? Had Steve’s illness not robbed him of energy, could Apple have beaten Tesla to the punch?
Visa Europe has announced that its European contactless payment terminals will support the tokenization service used by Apple Pay by mid-April. This would allow Apple to introduce Apple Pay to Europe anytime from this point on.
Tokenisation technology will be at the heart of new mobile payment solutions and has been hailed as one of the best data protection and fraud prevention methods available. The new service will be available for financial institutions [in Europe] from mid-April 2015.
Although Europe has had contactless payment cards for several years, these currently transmit the actual card details to the terminal. Apple Pay, in contrast, transmits single-use codes which card companies can map back to the actual card, a functionality currently only available in the USA. As of mid-April, that functionality will be available in Europe too–at least for Visa cards …
While Apple has not yet announced a date for introducing Apple Pay to Europe, bank sources have suggested that the UK launch will be in the first half of this year. A job listing revealed last year that Apple had a London-based team working on rolling out the service across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.
Visa Europe has not confirmed that Apple will be using the service, but has strongly hinted that this is the case in a statement to Reuters.
“Apple and Visa (Inc) have an agreement around what has happened,” spokesman Steve Perry said. “I am as excited as anyone, but we have to wait,” he said.
Visa had earlier announced plans to roll out tokenization for other mobile and online payment services, including Visa Checkout.
Within the U.S., Apple Pay is now supported by more than 80 banks, credit unions and other financial institutions. If yours isn’t listed, you can check out our rolling list of banks which have promised to introduce support for Apple Pay, together with the stores and apps where the service can be used.
In addition to Wireless CarPlay, more diverse Emojis, and improved logging in for Google services, iOS 8.3 adds a major new feature: several new languages for Siri. Over three years following the initial Siri beta in 2011, iOS 8.3 adds support for the following languages in Siri: Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and English for India…