Apple CEO Tim Cook made $9.2 million in 2014 as new retail chief & other execs increase earnings

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Apple CEO Tim Cook pulled in a total of $9.2M during Apple’s fiscal 2014, over double his 2013 earnings, according to numbers in Apple’s just released proxy statement. The filing details executive compensation and new board member nominations, among other items of business, ahead of Apple’s upcoming annual shareholders meeting. Read more

Apple Director Millard Drexler to retire, replacement yet to be named

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In a filing for shareholders today, Apple announced that Millard Drexler, a member of the eight-person Board of Directors, is retiring from the Board. Apple has not yet named a replacement. Drexler’s term will end in March upon the next official shareholder meeting.

On January 16, 2015, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, 70, who has served on the Board since 1999, notified the Board of his intention to retire at the end of his current term, which will expire at the Annual Meeting. The Board has not yet nominated an individual to fill the vacancy that will be created by Mr. Drexler’s departure from the Board. At the Annual Meeting, proxies cannot be voted for a greater number of individuals than the seven nominees named in this Proxy Statement. Each of the directors listed below has consented to serving as a nominee, being named in this proxy statement, and serving on the Board if elected. Each director elected at the Annual Meeting will serve a one-year term.

Drexler will be the second board member to retire within the last year. In mid-2014, former director Bill Campbell retired. He was replaced by BlackRock Founding Partner Susan Wagner, who, along with the rest of Apple’s board, is up for reelection in March. Apple has also disclosed 2014 salary information for most of its top senior executives.

Drexler has held key positions at J.Crew and Gap, and he was a close member of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’s inner circle. He was instrumental in the development of Apple’s original retail stores in the early 2000s. Drexler has been the longest-serving Apple board member, and that title will turn over to Arthur Levinson upon Drexler’s leave.

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Apple details HomeKit compatibility with competing home automation platforms, rules out rival Wi-Fi gear

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Apple will allow its upcoming Siri-controlled HomeKit platform to work with certain existing, non-HomeKit home automation products, including ones using competing protocols such as ZigBee or Z-Wave, but there are many limitations. According to sources briefed on the new specs, the latest Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program specifications detail the types of home automation products other than HomeKit that Apple will permit to interact with its platform.

During the 2014 WWDC, Apple briefly mentioned the possibility of connecting rival home automation products to HomeKit using a hardware “bridge,” but only in recent weeks has clarified the types of accessories that will and will not be allowed. Read more

Beats Music’s Ian Rogers auctioning lunch in LA or Cupertino for charity

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Former Beats Music CEO and current Apple employee Ian Rogers is participating in a charity fundraiser through the online auction site Charitybuzz. With the estimated value pegged at $3,000, the fundraiser has a starting bid of $600, and runs for two weeks starting today. The highest bidder will have the opportunity to meet the former Beats Music CEO in either Los Angeles (where Beats is headquartered) or Cupertino (near Apple’s campus) for a private lunch meeting. Read more

Spotify updating iOS app with neat touch preview and new swipe gestures

Spotify has announced an update to its iOS app to add some very handy new features. You’ll be able to preview any song just by touching the track and holding your finger down. Tapping it then plays the full track.

The app is also getting two new swipe gestures designed to make it even easier to queue music and save tracks to My Music …  Read more

Be My Eyes iPhone app allows sighted people to lend a helping hand to blind people

The National Federation of the Blind said last year that Apple has “done more for accessibility than any other company,” and with the help of a new app, iPhone and iPad owners can take things even further. Be My Eyes is an app that allows blind people to request remote help from a sighted person when needed.

Requests for help might range from checking the expiry date on a container of milk to looking at an airport departure board for a gate number …  Read more

Apple acquires media analytics startup Semetric, seemingly as part of Beats Music relaunch

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The Guardian is reporting that Apple has acquired media analytics startup Semetric, apparently as part of the ongoing Beats Music relaunch. Of note, Semetric owns Musicmetrics, an analytics tool for artists to track the popularity of their music around the web.

Apple replied to the Guardian with its typical company acquisition statement: Read more

Apple grabs 33% smartphone marketshare in South Korea, a historic record for foreign manufacturers in Samsung’s home turf

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Apple’s marketshare in South Korea has skyrocketed in the last quarter, driven by strong demand for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, according to data by Counterpoint. Apple increased its share of sales from 15% to 33%, more than doubling its market power in one quarter.

Historically, Samsung has dominated South Korea, largely due to geographic advantages, but Apple’s gains now threaten the #1 spot. Apple is the first foreign smartphone company ever to surpass 20% marketshare in the region, taking the number 2 spot. Samsung’s marketshare fell from 60% in November to 46% and (now third-place) South Korean LG Electronics fell to 14%.

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Apple’s investment in Washington D.C. lobbying continues to rise

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While Apple may spend less than half that of Microsoft and a quarter that of Google on Washington D.C. lobbying, the company under Tim Cook is investing an increasing amount of its cash in its influence around the United States capital.

As Bloomberg reports, data from OpenSecrets.org puts Apple’s spending on Washington lobbyists from January through September last year at $2.9 million (a number which doesn’t include the last quarter of 2014) and almost $3.5 million during the full 2013 period. For perspective, Apple’s lobbyist spending only first reached $1 million annually in 2006, the year before the iPhone’s introduction and first crossed $2 million in 2011. Read more

Apple teases soon-to-open Apple Store in Hangzhou, China, with stunning mural

Update: Apple has posted a version of the video with English subtitles on YouTube (embedded above).

Apple is certainly not thinking small when it comes to China, with 25 new retail stores promised within a two-year period, and its latest soon-to-open store in Hangzhou features a massive mural covering the entire front of the store. The store is due to open on Saturday, January 24th, the second of five new stores Angela Ahrendts said would be opening by the Chinese New Year on February 19th.

Featuring a poem written around 2000 years ago celebrating the importance of the city—a provincial capital—the stunning calligraphy was hand-painted by Wang Dongling, a famous modern calligrapher. Apple has released a video of its creation …  Read more