Apple agrees to participate in “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” program

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Apple has agreed to back a new initiative along with a host of Android manufacturers and all of the major U.S. cellular carriers that would require all smartphones manufactured after July 2015 to come with specific anti-theft features. The program is the latest attempt to prevent theft of smartphones, which some have blamed for increasing crime rates.

To this end, Apple introduced a first-of-its-kind system in iOS 7 that blocks freshly-restored iPhones from being used until the original owner logs in with the Apple ID associated with the device. Today’s agreement between the carriers and handset manufacturers essentially states that all parties will ship this exact type of system on new phones.

Specifically, the required anti-theft measures are broken into four kinds:
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Apple loses key iPad, Mac operations VP Rita Lane to retirement

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Rita Lane, Apple’s vice president of operations for the iPad, Mac desktops, and Mac accessories, has retired from the company, according to her public LinkedIn profile. As vice president of operations, Lane was in charge of the supply chain and manufacturing for iPads, computers like the iMac, and Apple’s Mac accessories.

Due to her position, Lane was likely instrumental in the iPad’s rapid growth as a product and emergence in society over the past few years, making the departure a significant loss for Apple. However, the company likely has other experienced operations managers who could fill Lane’s role. Her exact successor is unknown…

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Tim Cook discusses Google selling Motorola, says iPhone hasn’t hit a ceiling, and more from full WSJ interview

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After posting excerpts last night, in which Tim Cook announced Apple’s share buyback of $14 billion in the last two weeks, The Wall Street Journal has now published the full interview with Apple’s CEO.

The interview repeats many of the comments Cook has made to investors in the past, reaffirming that new product categories under development, but does contain some new, interesting tidbits. For instance, Wakabayashi asked Cook about Google’s disposal of Motorola. Cook says he “wasn’t surprised” that Google sold it off, saying that software and hardware integration is what makes Apple unique as a company.

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Tony Fadell and his largely ex-Apple team to become Google’s core hardware designers

Google CEO Larry Page (centre) with Nest co-founders Matt Rogers amd Tony Fadell (photo: technologyreview.com)

Google CEO Larry Page (centre) with Nest co-founders Matt Rogers amd Tony Fadell (photo: technologyreview.com)

‘Father of the iPod’ Tony Fadell (right) and the rest of the Nest team will become Google’s “core hardware group,” working on a variety of hardware projects and given access to “as many resources as it needs,” according to an unnamed source cited by TechCrunch.

The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? It’s unclear for now [...]

When it comes to budget, Google is willing to let the Nest team use as many resources as it needs. In other words, the company is getting serious about consumer hardware, and Motorola was just a false start …  Read more

Ten days of iPhone 5s and 5c sales help Apple break 40 percent in U.S. smartphone market

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Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market grew by 0.7 percent in the last quarter to reach 40.6 percent, according to comScore data.

Sales of low-cost handsets mean that Android’s position as leading mobile platform is safe, with a marginal drop to 51.8 percent of the market, but Apple remained top of the vendor rankings …

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EU Commission says Motorola’s injunction against Apple in Germany amounts to abuse, prohibited by antitrust law

European-CommissionAs if we needed someone to tell us that the ongoing patent lawsuits between Apple and Motorola in Germany were getting a little out of control… Today the European Commission has finally stepped up calling Motorola’s enforcement of an injunction against Apple with mobile standard essential patents “abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules.” The EU Commission, however, does note that the statement of objections sent to Motorola does not reflect the final outcome of its investigation into its use of standard essential patents (SEPs):

The Motorola Mobility SEPs in question relate to the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute’s (ETSI) GPRS standard, part of the GSM standard, which is a key industry standard for mobile and wireless communications. When this standard was adopted in Europe, Motorola Mobility gave a commitment that it would license the patents which it had declared essential to the standard on FRAND terms. Nevertheless, Motorola Mobility sought an injunction against Apple in Germany on the basis of a GPRS SEP and, after the injunction was granted, went on to enforce it, even when Apple had declared that it would be willing to be bound by a determination of the FRAND royalties by the German court.

The EU Commission essentially states that Apple should be able to license the technology under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms decided by a third-party, and that Motorola’s approach with its latest injunction could “distort licensing negotiations and impose unjustified licensing terms.” Back in February of 2012, Apple was for a short while forced to remove all 3G devices from its online store in Germany following the injunction, and at the time Apple noted that “Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.” Read more