Apple, Google, Facebook, other tech companies lobbying to stop NSA spying before new congress takes over in January

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Bloomberg reports that groups representing Apple, Google, Facebook and other high profile tech companies are lobbying to pass a new bill that attempts to limit NSA spying of email and communications of their users. The report says the groups are “pushing the Senate to pass legislation limiting National Security Agency spying before the Republican majority takes control of the chamber.” The news comes ahead of the Senate vote on the new bill scheduled for Nov. 18 and an upcoming Republican controlled Congress taking over in January: Read more

Apple looking to hire experienced plastics material engineer for iPhones/iPads; indicates work beyond internal parts?

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Leading up to the unveiling of a new lower-cost plastic ‘iPhone 5C’ expected at Apple’s September 10 event next month, Apple is looking to hire an “experienced plastics material engineer” to work on iPhones and iPads. The engineer would join Apple’s iPhone/iPad Materials team and must have “extensive experience in plastic material properties, part design and fabrication.” While we know the current iPhone and iPads do use some internal plastic parts, the job listing also makes mentions of aesthetic requirements as well as experience in “plastic materials and design for manufacturing in terms of geometry and cosmetic quality.” That could be a hint the position will involve more than just the design of internal plastic parts.

There have been a ton of unconfirmed leaks claiming to show the plastic lower cost iPhone’s colourful back casings, but we posted the first photos of the next gen full-sized iPad back in January showing the device will borrow its design aesthetic from the iPad mini. It would be a stretch to imagine Apple might be working on a lower-cost, plastic iPad, but it is something it prototyped early on. Apple is expected to unveil the new lower-cost plastic iPhone alongside the new iPhone 5S at its event next month. There have been some conflicting reports this morning regarding the iPads, but we’re still expecting new iPads to be announced a later event.

AAPL hits $500 for the first time since January following Icahn investment

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Following comments from billionaire investor Carl Icahn that he had taken a “large position” in Apple and discussed a larger buyback with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple’s stock experienced a new six-month high of over $488 per share. Today, AAPL continues to climb and has passed the $500 mark for the first time in nearly eight months since January 23rd.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal yesterday, Icahn noted that he expects Apple shares will soon rise above $600 and explained his proposal for increasing the stock buyback:

“This is a no-brainer to go buy stock in a company that can go borrow” at a low rate, Mr. Icahn said in an interview. “Buy the company here and even without earnings growth, we think it ought to be worth $625,” he said, referring to the stock price, which closed Tuesday at $489.57, having risen 5% on the news of Mr. Icahn’s investment.

Mr. Icahn’s thesis rests on Apple borrowing at about a 3% interest rate and buying back shares right now, likely at around $525 a piece. A stock buyback can increase earnings per share by reducing the number of shares outstanding.

While Icahn didn’t provide any financial details, WSJ adds that sources say his stake in Apple is now worth over $1.5 billion. Read more

Report: Apple to double the capacity of next iPad battery, release two different models with high megapixel cameras

A report this evening from DigiTimes said the next iPad will have a monster battery that will more than double the current  6579 mAH to a whopping 14,000mAH.  Apple currently uses battery suppliers Simplo Technology and Dynapack who both denied to comment on the report.

Furthermore, Apple is set to unveil two versions of its next-iPad, “One for the high-end segment and one for the mid-range segment” according to another DigiTimes report.  Strangely, the report said the new iPads will be released at Macworld/iWorld in late January, a show that Apple has no plans to attend right now and bowed out of completely two years ago.

Apple is set to unveil its next-generation iPad – which will come in two versions – at the iWorld scheduled for January 26, 2012, according to sources at its supply chain partners

This is extremely unlikely; however, perhaps, a same-time but separate release could happen.  More details that are interesting were reported, as well….

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