Europe Stories June 23, 2016

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If you’re one of the 2.5M Americans planning a European vacation this summer, T-Mobile has a pretty sweet deal for its Simple Choice customers: free unlimited speed data throughout July and August, up from the normal 128Kbps limit.

The Un-carrier today announced it’s unleashing summer travel, giving customers unlimited high-speed data, up to 4G LTE speeds, throughout Europe all summer long […]

Starting July 1st all the way through August 31st, T-Mobile’s giving Simple Choice customers unlimited high-speed data across all of Europe (except Andorra) – all at absolutely no additional cost – so you can share, Skype, snap and scope every moment of your European holiday … 

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Europe Stories March 16, 2016

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Called before the European Parliament’s tax committee yesterday to explain its tax arrangements, Apple’s VP of European operations denied that the company received illegal state aid, reports Bloomberg.

“We feel that we’ve paid every cent of tax that is due in Ireland,” Cathy Kearney said at the European Parliament in Brussels. “We don’t feel that there has been state aid involved and I suppose we look forward to that outcome happening at the end of the day and being vindicated in that way. I would say that the Irish government also agrees with that view.”

Kearney also denied suggestions that the special tax deal with the Irish company was the reason it had chosen the country as its European HQ …

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Europe Stories March 15, 2016

Pressure on Apple over European tax affairs ramps up as European Parliament seeks explanations

With a long-running investigation into the legality of Apple’s tax arrangements in Europe not expected to end any time soon, the company will come under additional pressure tomorrow when it is called before the European Parliament’s tax committee.

Europe Stories March 9, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: A general view of Apples' Regent St store on Earth Day at Regent Street on April 22, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Apple)

The European Union warned us this week not to expect a speedy conclusion to the long-running investigation into the legality of Apple’s tax arrangements in Europe. The delay follows a decision back in December to expand the scope of the investigation.

But while the wheels of EU tax investigations may grind exceedingly slowly, I’d be willing to wager quite large sums of money on the final outcome. It looks to me increasingly clear that Apple’s tax arrangements with the Irish government are going to be declared illegal, and that Apple is going to be faced with a significant bill for unpaid tax …

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Europe Stories March 7, 2016

EU competition chief warns “don’t hold your breath” on $8B investigation into Apple’s tax affairs

European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager has warned reporters not to expect a quick decision from the investigation into whether or not Apple’s tax arrangements in Europe are legal, reports Bloomberg.

“Don’t hold your breath,” she told reporters in Brussels on Monday about the timing of decisions targeting Apple and online shopping giant Amazon.com Inc, whose tax affairs in Luxembourg are also under intense scrutiny. “I’m just warning you.”

Apple uses Ireland as its European headquarters, funneling most revenue through the country, where it has a special arrangement with the Irish government to pay corporation tax of just 2.5%. The EU believes this arrangement may be illegal for two reasons …

Europe Stories January 21, 2016

Tim Cook in Augsburg, Germany inspecting panels for Apple Campus 2

Tim Cook this week met with the European Commission’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, Bloomberg reports and Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman at Apple, confirms. The Cupertino based company is fighting back against contentions that they have formed a special agreement with Ireland in which they pay significantly lower taxes to the country’s government. The news also appears to coincide with Tim Cook’s announcement in launching an iOS development center in Italy.

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Europe Stories January 20, 2016

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Apple this morning has announced its first iOS App Development Center for Europe. The facility will be located in Naples, Italy and offer a place for students to learn  who to develop iOS apps. The App Development Center will feature on-site teachers and a curriculum to facilitate a strong and diverse development community.

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Europe Stories January 11, 2016

Belgian ruling increases likelihood that AAPL’s sweetheart tax deal in Ireland will be ruled illegal

The European Commission has ruled that tax breaks offered by Belgium to multinational companies are illegal, and that the companies concerned must pay the full rate of tax due in the country, reports VentureBeat. This follows similar decisions in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

While none of these rulings directly impact Apple, they do make it look extremely likely that the Commission will reach the same decision in Ireland, where Apple pays just 2.5% corporation tax instead of the normal 12.5%.

The Irish government offered Apple the special deal in order to encourage the company to choose the country as its European headquarters. The European Commission has been running a lengthy investigation into the legality of this arrangement, and has recently extended and expanded its scope.

If Ireland is indeed found to have broken the law, Apple will have to pay the difference in tax for up to ten years. The total amount was estimated last year at $2.5 billion. Apple warned shareholders at the time that it may face ‘material’ back taxes should the decision go against it.

The EC isn’t the only entity unhappy with Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland either. The Italian government accused Apple of failing to declare more than $1.3 billion of corporation tax in the country as a result of funneling profits through to Ireland. Apple, which has 16 retail stores in the country, recently agreed to pay the full €318M ($347M) claimed by the Italian tax office.

Photo: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

Europe Stories June 30, 2015

Europe finally agrees to abolish roaming charges – but not until 2017

Europe is an odd place to live. In some respects, it acts like one big country (you can drive across it without ever seeing a border or showing a passport), while in other ways it is very definitely individual countries – like paying roaming charges outside your own country for calls, text messages and data.

We’ve been promised an end to roaming charges for what feels like forever, and the good news is that after years of discussion and debate, the European Union finally agreed to a date. The bad news is that the date isn’t until June 15th 2017.

It means that from 15 June 2017 you can use your mobile device when travelling in the EU paying the same prices as at home (domestic prices). For instance, if you pay for a monthly volume of minutes, SMS and data in your country, any voice call, SMS and data session you make while travelling abroad in the EU will be deducted from that volume as if you were at home, with no extra charges. This means the end of roaming charges as Europeans experience them today in their daily life.

The EU has gradually imposed caps on roaming charges, and the current ones of €0.19/minute for calls and €0.06 per text message aren’t too bad, but €0.20/MB for data is the killer, making it easy to rack up a hefty bill with perfectly normal use of a smartphone in other European countries.

The EU has also agreed to net neutrality rules, though watered down with exceptions for ‘innovative’ services that require higher than usual bandwidth – like Netflix. The EU says that these services can be prioritized so long as this doesn’t harm other services, but as everyone would otherwise get the fastest speed for everything, this provision doesn’t appear to have any real meaning.

Europe Stories June 1, 2015

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Irish Examiner got an inside look at Apple’s EU headquarters in Cork along with some interviews with employees there. The campus holds around 4,000 Apple employees that the report points out span across support services, distribution, mapping and manufacturing. expand full story

Europe Stories April 14, 2015

EasyJet’s new app provides end-to-end proactive guidance to air passengers

European no-frills airline EasyJet seems to have taken a full-service approach to its new app, dubbed Mobile Host. The app aims to provide proactive, location-based guidance to passengers from one end of their journey to the other.

The app begins with check-in reminders, guides you to the baggage-drop if you have luggage, tells you when your gate is open and navigates you there, opens your boarding pass when you get there, and directs you to the correct baggage carousel on arrival. The service goes live at London Gatwick Airport today, with other airports to follow.

easyJet’s Mobile Host is a joint initiative with Gatwick and combines live data from the airports information systems, using Google indoor maps, together with a passenger’s booking details, location and flight time.  The result is personalised instructions and updates for passengers during their journey.

The app is currently iPhone-only, and is available in seven languages. The new app was not on the App Store at the time of writing, but if you download the current app, it should update.

EasyJet last updated the app a few weeks ago to add support for the Apple Watch. It was one of the first European airlines to support Passbook boarding passes, and started using iBeacons for location-based alerts last summer.

Europe Stories March 31, 2015

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German Apple Stores have dropped Vodafone and O2 contracts for both iPhones and iPads, offering them only with Deutsche Telekom contracts or SIM-free. The change affects only post-paid contracts: pre-paid SIMs remain available on Vodafone. expand full story

Europe Stories March 5, 2015

EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates

Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.

Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.

Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.

Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.

There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …

Apple of course had its own legal troubles around ebooks, with its pricing model found to amount to anti-competitive practices.

Via Engadget

Europe Stories February 23, 2015

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Apple has announced that it will be spending €1.7B ($1.92B) on two new European data centers, each of which will be among the largest in the world at 166,000 square metres (1.8M square feet)–three times larger than the company’s North Carolina facility.

One will be in Ireland, the other in Denmark, with each set to begin operations in 2017. Apple says that the facilities will provide online services across Europe, including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Apple Maps and Siri.

We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date.”

As with all of Apple’s data centers around the world, the new centres will be powered entirely by clean, renewable energy …  expand full story

Europe Stories December 17, 2014

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A new UK job listing posted on Apple’s website and uncovered by iClarified indicates that the company is planning to expands its payment service into Europe and elsewhere. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Apple wants to put its iPhone 6-based payment system into as many hands worldwide as possible, but this is one of the first indications of a move in that direction.

The intern will be part of a new London-based team that will help roll the product out across Europe, the Middle East, India, and Asia. Specifically the intern will be responsible for handling contracts and non-disclosure agreements between Apple and third-parties like banks and retailers.

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Europe Stories October 10, 2014

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Apple’s second retail store in Turkey appears to be finally nearing completion, as Apple branding has been added to the black cladding on the storefront in photos posted by Apple Toolbox as the company confirmed its plans to open the store.

Apple opened its first store in the country back in April, on the European side of the city, first announced during a meeting between Tim Cook and President Abdullah Gül. Istanbul straddles the European and Asian continents, and the second store is located in the Asian side, in a shopping mall called Akasya …  expand full story

Europe Stories September 30, 2014

Computer Bild, Europe’s best-selling computer magazine, has had its PR accreditation pulled after posting a video of one of its journalists bending an iPhone 6 Plus.

The german PR department of the company reacts in a disturbing way: Instead of answering the questions about why the iPhone 6 Plus is so sensitive, a manager called Computer Bild and told us, that Computer Bild will not get any testing devices and no invites to official events any more …

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Europe Stories September 28, 2014

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It looks like this week’s Apple “xxx-gate” is a big one with the Financial Times reporting that the European Commision is about to come down hard on Apple for its long held tax avoidance strategies in Ireland.

Typically the EU has used its state aid powers to address broader competition issues. But in the past year Brussels has attempted to target the tax affairs of companies such as Apple, Starbucks and Amazon. It is a novel application of the law with far-reaching implications, not just for the companies, or EU countries, but for EU-US relations in general.

This week the European Commission will publish the first findings in the Apple case. The details – including evidence from bygone tax negotiations – are likely to be explosive.

The US is no happier with Apple’s use of specially created Irish tax loopholes which allow it to avoid paying taxes it would otherwise be due. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other execs faced Senate Subcommittee questioning in May in which focused on Apple’s tax avoidance schemes.

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Did Apple apply pressure to Irish authorities in 1991 and again in 2007 when negotiating tax deals and if so were these illegal competitive measures that gave Apple advantages over competitors? Luca Maestri, Apple’s finance chief, of course denies any wrongdoing… expand full story

Europe Stories September 12, 2014

Why Apple timed things perfectly with the launch of Apple Pay

After years of annual rumors that each successive iPhone would feature NFC, there was understandable skepticism when the rumor rolled around again this year for the iPhone 6. It was looking like Apple might have put all its short-range communication eggs in one basket with Bluetooth LE.

Instead, of course, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus got NFC as the mechanism for Apple’s contactless payment service, Apple PayPando suggests that the company’s timing may not be entire coincidental.

While U.S. banks have so far ignored the more secure chip-and-pin cards used in Europe, sticking doggedly to magnetic strips and signatures, all that will be changing next year. As of October 2015, banks are switching to chip-based cards – and that means merchants will need to upgrade their payment terminals.

You can still get chip-reading terminals without NFC, but it’s likely that the vast majority of stores will opt to go contactless at the same time. Which means that instead of the 220,000 places you can use contactless payment today, there will be much closer to nine million outlets by this time next year – and you’ll be able to pay with your iPhone 6 at any of them.

U.S. card issuers are already pushing Apple Pay, MasterCard running a full-page ad in today’s New York Times (via Business Insider).

Europe Stories August 28, 2014

Apple successfully patents iconic glass cube design of Fifth Avenue store in NYC

A few weeks after Apple was granted a European trademark on the key design elements of its retail stores, the company has been awarded a U.S. patent on the iconic glass cube design of its Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan. Steve Jobs is one of those credited as an inventor.

Patently Apple reports that Apple also applied for a trademark for the design back in 2010, but no decision has yet been made on that.

Apple was granted a patent for the similarly iconic glass cylinder design for its Shanghai store back in 2012.

Apple has been renewing the interior design of its stores around the world, and creating a new organizational structure as Angela Ahrendts focuses on further international expansion. It is reportedly working on the largest Apple Store in the world in Dubai.

Europe Stories August 14, 2014

Apple and Samsung will sew-up the smartwatch market, others will fail, predicts analyst

Apple and Samsung will largely own the smartwatch market between them, predicts Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson in a report being issued later today and seen by Re/code.

Dawson said that new players should “stay out of the market,” and existing players should scale back their plans.

“We do not recommend that existing vendors should maintain current levels of investment when market growth and the overall revenue opportunity remain poor,” Dawson said. “It is unlikely that more than one or two small vendors will be able to make a sustainable business out of smartwatches in the face of competition from Samsung and […] Apple” …

Europe Stories August 6, 2014

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Apple is today touting a lot of new stats regarding Apple’s contribution to European economies. The company has done similar things for the United States, in the past. For Europe, Apple claims to have created or supported 629,000 jobs across Europe, with over 500,000 of those representing the ‘app economy’. Apple says this number is made up of employees whose jobs can be directly attributed to the App Store. Out of $20 billion in worldwide developer earnings, $6.5 billion has gone to European developers.

In 2014, Apple estimates the ‘app economy’ will add $86 billion to worldwide GDP this year. Aside from the App Store, Apple employees 16,000 Europeans directly and indirectly supports a total of 132,000 jobs elsewhere. The company has also calculated that 116,000 European jobs have been created at other companies as a result of Apple’s growth.

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Europe Stories August 5, 2014

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Apple has just filed for HealthKit trademarks in both the US and Europe ahead of iOS 8’s launch this fall and in at least one filing includes watches in a list of goods that could take advantage of the health-tracking software.

While the filing in the US (filed July 31) only includes classifications for computer software and covers the HealthKit text, a filing in Europe (published yesterday) extends classifications to include health, fitness, and exercise sensors, medical devices, and watches: expand full story

Earlier this week, Apple started replacing iPhone 5s glass screens in Apple Stores for the first time. But the catch is that the service is only available in the United States and Canada. That will change, though, next week. Sources say that the program will expand across Apple’s official retail locations in Europe as soon as Monday, August 11th. The pricing for the screen replacements will likely come in around the equivalent of $150. iPhone 5c screen replacements started across Apple’s locations earlier this year.

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