Watch the full Tim Cook ABC interview on 30 years of Mac, NSA surveillance (Video)

Yesterday we posted some excerpts from an ABC interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives that officially aired on the network last night. In the interview, Cook is joined by Apple’s Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi and Apple software VP Bud Tribble to talk about the 30th anniversary of Mac, the new made-in-America Mac Pro, iWatch (iRing?), secrecy at Apple and the recent NSA surveillance controversies.

Cook on NSA surveillance programs:

Number one, we need to be significantly more transparent. We need to say what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many accounts are affected, we need to be clear. And we have a gag order on us right now so we can’t say those things… .Much of what has been said isn’t true. There is no backdoor. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that, and that just will not happen. We feel that strongly about it.

Cook didn’t say much that we didn’t already see in the excerpts, but you can check out the full uncut interview from ABC above.

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Trouble in Austin: Apple repeats last year’s iMac holiday shortage with the Mac Pro

Bbx2BNlIIAAiqJJ.jpg-largeThe December supply of Mac Pros?

The new Mac Pro is an awesome machine for those with several thousand dollars to spend on a computer and a need for all the power that comes with that thermal core, but managing to get one is going to be difficult for the next few months even if you have the credit card ready. Yesterday, Apple announced that the Mac Pro would go on sale today, December 19th. The store went live last night with the Mac Pro shipping the very last non-holi-day of 2013, December 30th.

As we noted earlier today, Apple’s customers in its home state of California awoke to Mac Pros being quoted to ship in February. But it gets worse…

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Apple CEO Tim Cook says Made-in-USA Mac will be assembled in Texas

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During this morning’s Senate hearing regarding Apple’s tax strategies, Apple CEO Tim Cook provided opening statements regarding Apple’s perspective on the issues. Notably, during a time in which Cook was discussing Apple’s United States-based operations and strategies, the Apple CEO said that Apple’s upcoming Made-in-the-USA Mac line will be assembled in Texas…

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AT&T launches AIO Wireless MVNO with iPhone 5 plans at $55 to $70/month

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As we reported last week, AT&T today launched its new pre-paid wireless MVNO called Aio Wireless with the iPhone 5 on offer, front and center. Currently, the service is only available in Houston, Orlando and Tampa but it is expected to roll out nationally over the coming months.

The company will offer 4 plans: Aio Basic, Smart and Pro phone plans at $35-40 for 250MB, $55 for 2GB and $70/month for 7GB data respectively. Each plan will shift to lower speed data after data is used up and also offers unlimited calls and text on AT&T’s network. They will also offer a tablet plan that starts at $15/month for 250MB.

The MVNO will carry Android, Windows and Apple smartphones including iPhone 4S for $499 and iPhone 5 for $649 without subsidy. They also cap 4G data at 4Mb/s so LTE speeds shouldn’t be expected.

Clearly this, as well as Verizon’s upcoming MVNO-like service, will address the competition from T-Mobile and other pre-paid carriers.

Press release and rate plans follow: Read more

Patent troll Personal Audio LLC sues iTunes’ top podcaster Adam Carolla’s Ace Broadcasting

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In July 2011, a federal jury in Texas awarded “patent licensing company” Personal Audio LLC $8 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. The jury found Apple infringed two valid patents related to downloadable playlists with its iOS devices as far back as the original iPod. One covered an “audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller,” while the other covered an “audio program distribution and playback system.” 9to5Mac has now learned Personal Audio LLC is attempting to target content creators directly, starting with a new patent infringement case in Texas against one of iTunes biggest podcasters, Adam Carolla’s Ace Broadcasting.

If the outcome of the case is anything like Personal Audio’s previous cases, it could have a major impact on podcasters and other content creators on iTunes and elsewhere. Personal Audio also sued and entered licensing agreements with Sirius XM Radio, Archos, Coby, RIM, Samsung, Amazon, and Motorola related to its downloadable playlist patents and others.

The new patent, issued just last year on Feb. 7, 2012, is quite broad and describes a “System for Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence.” Personal Audio is also suing the popular Howstuffworks.com series, which like Ace Broadcasting, is a large podcasting presence on iTunes and across the web…

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T-Mobile/Solavei roll out iPhone-compatible HSPA+ to 14 new metro areas, as Verizon LTE arrives in 29 markets

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T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray announced on the company’s blog today that 14 new metro areas are getting access to its iPhone-compatible HSPA+ 4G network. The updates are hitting areas such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas, Texas, Florida, and San Antonio, following rollouts to Chicago, California, and elsewhere earlier this month.

The carrier also said enhancements to its network in additional areas like Los Angeles and San Diego have already started. This means that customers on Solavei, the new, no-contract T-Mobile MVNO offering of $49 per month unlimited, will also get coverage for unlocked iPhones in the new areas. A full list is below:

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Wild Speculation: Why a $2B AMD purchase would be a puzzle piece fit for Apple

Things aren’t looking good for chipmaker AMD…Following another round of layoffs totaling about 15 percent of its employees last month, Reuters reported today that AMD is looking for an investor to sell its Texas campus in order to raise up to $200 million in cash in a multi-year lease back deal. AMD’s cash dropped from $279 million to $1.48 billion in the third quarter, and today the company sits at a market cap of $1.40 billion.

Despite not being the “main option,” with the restructuring and the company’s financial issues, Reuters’ sources claimed an outright sale of the company isn’t out of the question. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard chatter of an AMD takeover. However, with the company sitting at a market cap of $1.40 billion and rumors of Bob Mansfield’s new Technologies group possibly transitioning away from Intel processors, we can’t help but imagine a few things Apple would stand to gain from the purchase…

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Apple loses $368.2M lawsuit to patent holding company VirnetX in E. Texas court ruling

According to Bloomberg, Apple lost a lawsuit against VirnetX in a Texas courtroom late this evening and ordered to pay $368.2 million in damages. VirnetX sued Apple for infringing on its collection of network patents that Apple has been accused of incorporating into products like FaceTime. VirnetX was originally asking for upward of $900 million, but the jury decided on lesser damages this evening. Additionally, the patent holding company has similar cases pending against Cisco and Avaya. VirnetX successfully won $105.75 million from Microsoft in 2010.

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Dallas newspaper identifies ‘Evil Genius’ Apple Store, corroborates Gizmodo story

Yesterday, Gizmodo posted a harrowing piece about one of the most corrupt Apple Stores in the United States. The story profiled many unethical tactics done by the store managers and employees. In one instance, a regional manager actually gave away a free Apple product in exchange for a weight loss surgery, and also leant Apple products out for months at a time. In another case, Apple Store Geniuses would actually take iPhones at their leisure, often breaking them and replacing them. But perhaps the most disconcerting bit from the Gizmodo piece is what Geniuses did to customer’s products. In one instance, a Genius actually  “just erased people’s hard drives that are —holes.” Certainly shocking out of the company that’s already had 300 million visitors in its stores this year.

We weren’t sure how accurate the story was or if the sources had perhaps been embellishing at best and fabricating at worst.  However a separate second source has come forward with a separate but similar story and has named the store in question. Read more

Apple continues $304M Austin, Texas campus expansion with land purchase

Last time we checked Apple’s plans to bring 3,600 jobs to Austin, Texas with a $304 million investment and the construction of a new campus, the company received approval on the last of several major incentives from city officials. The approval officially initiated an Economic Development Agreement between Apple and the city, but the project was still not 100 percent confirmed.

Reports originally said Apple would build the new campus on 38 acres at West Parmer Lane and Delcour Drive, and today’s report from AustinBusinessJournal confirmed Apple recently purchased land near the address:

Records at the Travis County Clerk’s Office show that McShane Development Co. LLC, through its Riata Vista LP entity, sold three tracts of land to Apple on June 20. The exhibits indicate that the land is in the Milwood Section 20 subdivision near Parmer Lane and Delcour Drive.

The report did not offer any information about how much Apple paid for the land, but the purchase is a good indication Apple is going ahead with its new Austin campus. According to AustinBusinessJournal, McShane CEO James McShane released a press release yesterday on its new vice president who helped make the deal with Apple:

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Apple frustrated with Austin incentive delays, new campus plans remain ‘in peril’

The last we heard, Apple’s plan to build a new $304 million campus and add up to 3,600 new jobs in Austin, Texas was all but a done deal with city officials last month after they approved an $8.6 million incentive to be handed out over 10 years. At the time, Apple was still waiting on additional incentives from Travis County officials, but today local reports from Statesman claimed Apple is growing frustrated with delays. Senior Vice President for Economic Development at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Dave Porter said Apple’s deal to move into Austin is “in peril”:

“This deal is not done. It remains in peril. And Apple is frustrated… We were disappointed (the deal) wasn’t finalized this past Tuesday, but we were hopeful this next Tuesday that Apple and the county can complete the negotiation process and have that behind us… We remain hopeful that will take place and there will be a positive vote on Tuesday.”

In total, Apple would receive roughly $36 million over 10 to 15 years as part of the deal. Approximately $6.4 million is supposed to come from Travis County. The report explained the reasons behind the County delaying approval of the incentive:
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Austin cements itself as Apple’s ‘second city’ with approval of $8.6M incentive

We reported earlier this month that Apple was waiting on city officials from Austin, Texas to decide whether to offer the company an $8.6 million incentive over 10 years as part of Apple’s proposal to invest $304 million in a new campus. The Texas Enterprise Fund is already kicking in $21 million over 10 years as part of the deal, and last night the City Council unanimously approved the $8.6 million in incentives. According to a report from KXAN, this will initiate “the negotiation and execution of an Economic Development Agreement with APPLE INC,” but Travis County officials are still weighing the decision to offer Apple an additional $6 million in real estate related incentives…
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