HarperCollins Stories March 1, 2014

Tim Cook profiled in “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” [Video]

There wasn’t a whole lot new in this chunk of the Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, which Yukari Kane mostly focuses on Apple CEO Tim Cook and his characteristics that are often the opposite of Steve Jobs. Cook is a character but not the same character that brought Apple to its current success.

From the WSJ excerpt:

As tough as Cook was reputed to be, he was also generous. He gave away the frequent-flier miles that he racked up as Christmas gifts, and he volunteered at a soup kitchen during the Thanksgiving holidays. He had also participated in an annual two-day cycling event across Georgia to raise money for multiple sclerosis; Cook had been a supporter since being misdiagnosed with the disease years before. “The doctor said, ‘Mr. Cook, you’ve either had a stroke, or you have MS,’ ” Cook told the Auburn alumni magazine. He didn’t have either. His symptoms had been produced from “lugging a lot of incredibly heavy luggage around.”

An earlier piece in the New Yorker online edition painted a dreary picture of Apple post Steve Jobs and the video above does delve into that viewpoint a bit.

Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7, looks pretty but is full of bugs and flaws. As for innovation, the last time Apple created something that was truly great was the original iPad, when Jobs was still alive. Although the company’s C.E.O., Tim Cook, insists otherwise, Apple seems more eager to talk about the past than about the future.

From the video:

[Has Apple lost its touch? Are they still King of the Hill?]

KANE: I think the answer is obvious to me. The answer has got to be yes. This is a company who had revolved around Steve Jobs for so long, I mean that was something that Jobs himself went out of his way to make sure of. And the people there are conditioned to operate, to play off of his strengths and weaknesses. And so now you’ve got this completely opposite guy in Tim Cook, who is I think brilliant in many ways, but in different ways. But so they’re going through some growing pains in that.

Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly has the following review of the book:

Jan 27, 2014 – The globe-bestriding computer-maker loses its soul in this lively business history. Former Wall Street Journal technology reporter Kane follows Apple after the 2011 death of founder Steve Jobs as the company’s knack for conjuring breakthrough i-gadgets lapsed into a series of ho-hum upgrades, misfires like the befuddled artificial intelligence app Siri, and interminable patent lawsuits, while market share, profits, and stock price eroded. Kane makes the story a study in CEO leadership styles, contrasting Jobs’s visionary bluster with his successor Tim Cook’s icy bean-counting and the histrionics of Samsung’s “wise emperor” Lee Kun-hee, whose quality crusade involved burning an entire factory’s inventory in front of its weeping employees. Kane unearths plenty of colorful material here, including lawyerly jousting, hilariously lame new-product unveilings, and conference-room psychodramas between bullying execs and groveling underlings. The author’s great-man theory of Jobs’s “unfiltered” leadership as the indispensable motor of Apple’s innovation doesn’t explain much; her unusually rich dissection of Apple’s ugly dealings with its FoxConn manufacturing partner suggests that Cook’s merciless wringing of profits out of exploited Chinese labor is as much the soul of Apple as Jobs’s oft-hyped intuition for design. Still, this well-paced, vividly detailed narrative reveals the machine surrounding the Jobsian ghost at Apple and brings the company’s high-flying mythology down to earth.© Publishers Weekly

We’re getting an advanced copy this week which we don’t expect to be as pessimistic and the publicity-generating excerpts above.  Interesting bits will be posted here.

Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs is available March 18th from Harper Collins ($12.74 Amazon/$14.99 iBookstore)

HarperCollins Stories November 6, 2012

According to a new report from Reuters, EU authorities are about to accept a deal with Apple and four book publishers in order to end an antitrust investigation into whether Apple conspired with publishers to prevent Amazon from undercutting Apple’s ebook pricing. The companies originally proposed the settlement in late August, and it would see Amazon go back to its original ebook pricing for two years. By making the deal, Apple and the publishers will be able to put an end to the antirust investigation and avoid related fines:

Apple, Simon & Schuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, the owner of German company Macmillan, made the proposal to the European Commission in September…Pearson Plc’s Penguin group, which is also under investigation, did not take part in the offer.

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HarperCollins Stories October 14, 2012

Earlier this week, Amazon began letting customers know if they were eligible for a share of the $69 million state attorney settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon and Schuster. Today, Apple started notifying iBooks customers, who bought an iBook from April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012, of the same payout.

The payout will be dispersed as Kindle/iBooks credit or customers can call a number to request a check for delivery in February.

Notably, if you purchased the Steve Jobs eBook bio from Simon and Schuster on iBooks or Amazon, you should receive this notice.

To be clear, this is separate from the Federal price-fixing case surrounding Apple and some publishers. Barnes and Noble and other eBook distributors are likely doing the same thing. The Amazon version is below:

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HarperCollins Stories August 16, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement in April with three of the publishers involved in the eBook price-fixing antitrust suit against Apple. Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster were part of the settlement, which would allow Amazon to return to its previous wholesale model and the publishers to set and reduce prices for eBook titles freely. PaidContent provided an update today on the case by reporting Apple has filed a document with the Southern District of New York. It called the proposed settlements with the three publishers “fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented.” Apple argued that since it is not settling, the settlement would unlawfully end contracts those publishers have with Apple.

The proposed settlement would require the three settling publishers — HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — to terminate their existing agency pricing contracts with Apple. Apple says that isn’t fair: “The Government is seeking to impose a remedy on Apple before there has been any finding of an antitrust violation.” This case, the company states, revolves around “an alleged conspiracy to force Amazon to adopt agency.” So a settlement “enjoining collusion or precluding publishers from forcing agency on Amazon would be appropriate,” but Apple is entitled to defend its contracts in court.

Apple is hoping the courts decide to reject the settlements or delay a ruling until after the June 2013 trial. Apple also discussed Amazon’ role in the case. It claimed the government has “unwittingly placed a thumb on the scales in favor of Amazon”: expand full story

HarperCollins Stories July 18, 2012

WSJ: Sen. Schumer presses DOJ to drop Apple eBook suit

Sen. Charles Schumer pleaded with the U.S. Justice Department in the Wall Street Journal yesterday to drop its antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers by suggesting it will only lay the foundation for Amazon to reclaim control over the eBook industry.

According to the New York senator’s Op-Ed piece:

Recently the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple and major publishers, alleging that they colluded to raise prices in the digital books market. While the claim sounds plausible on its face, the suit could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published.

The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.

The Justice Department filed suit last spring against Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin Group for allegedly fixing eBook prices, while Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster settled to dodge the legal dispute.

Amazon set its eBook prices at $9.99, but, according to the government (via The Hill), Apple and the publishers supposedly colluded to build a new business model that drove the standard price of eBooks up and placed pricing in the hands of publishers instead of retailers.

Schumer claimed the business model would effectively relinquish the eBook market from Amazon’s dominion. He also mentioned Amazon’s share dropped to 60 percent after the publishers launched the new pricing matrix, while older eBook prices also lowered.

The Justice Department has ignored this overall trend and instead focused on the fact that the prices for some new releases have gone up. This misses the forest for the trees. While consumers may have a short-term interest in today’s new release e-book prices, they have a more pressing long-term interest in the survival of the publishing industry.

Like Apple contended in its legal response, Schumer is concerned the Justice Department’s lawsuit allows “monopolists and hurt innovators,” while having a “deterrent effect not only on publishers but on other industries that are coming up with creative ways to grow and adapt to the Internet.”

He further beseeched the Justice Department to “reassess its prosecution priorities” and assemble inclusive guidelines before filing antitrust suits in the future.

Check out the full memo at The Wall Street Journal

HarperCollins Stories April 23, 2012

By now you probably know that the U.S. Department of Justice launched an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and two publishers this month following an investigation into Apple’s eBook pricing agency model. Three publishers, including Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, decided to reach a settlement with the Department of Justice to return to Amazon’s set-your-own price wholesale model. Meanwhile, Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin will take the fight to court.

Interestingly, a report from The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by the HarperCollins’ parent company News Corp, suggested Apple was only ever trying to continue its App Store business model. The Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz described visiting Senior Apple Executive Eddy Cue to discuss changing Apple’s policies for publications. He quoted Cue as comparing book pricing to apps and not wanting to treat publications differently than app developers: expand full story

HarperCollins Stories April 20, 2012

Following an investigation into alleged eBook price-fixing, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers Macmillan and Penguin earlier this month, who refused to settle. Other publishers, including Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, settled and reached an agreement to return Amazon to its previous wholesale model and dismantle Apple’s agency model. The settlement also included agreements with select states that would see $51 million in restitution paid to those who purchased eBooks through Apple’s platform. Now, several Canadian publications are reporting class-action lawsuits were filed against Apple and the five publishers throughout Canada.

Lawyer Normand Painchaud spoke with The Montreal Gazette about his class-action suit filed in Quebec Superior Court and talked about two others filed in Ontario and British Columbia:

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HarperCollins Stories April 12, 2012

Apple finally commented late this evening on the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against the company. What did Apple think up with those extra 48 hours? Peter Kafka got the scoop from Apple’s Tom Neumayr:

The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.

The civil antitrust suit alleged that Apple’s move to let publishers set their own prices—and it is a requirement that publishers do not sell their digital books for cheaper elsewhere—forced consumers to pay millions more for books than they should have.

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HarperCollins Stories April 11, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney Gen. Eric Holder just announced (via CNN) a settlement with three publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster— following this morning’s report that it would launch an antitrust suit against Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin, which refused to settle. The settlement is said to give publishers the “freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles,” allowing Amazon to return to its previous wholesale model.

The states are seeking $51 million in restitution that will be provided through a credit toward a future book purchase or a check, although the Department of Justice’s charges remain civil. The exact details of the settlements with the three publishers were not discussed, but Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan will continue to fight charges in the lawsuit filed earlier today in New York.

As for exactly why Apple and the two other publishers have decided to take the case to court, at least one publisher is speaking. Macmillan’s Chief Executive Officer John Sargent published an open letter today explaining the company’s stance (via PaidContent). In the letter, Sargent claimed the Department of Justice’s settlement demands “could have allowed Amazon to recover the monopoly position it had built before our switch to the agency model.” He also said it is “hard to settle a lawsuit when you know you have done no wrong” and called the agency model the future of an “open and competitive market.”

Interestingly, AllThingsD pointed us to a line from the Department of Justice’s official complaint that indicates Apple proposed teaming up with Amazon at one point:

In addition to considering competitive entry at that time, though, Apple also contemplated illegally dividing the digital content world with Amazon, allowing each to “own the category” of its choice—audio/video to Apple and e-books to Amazon.

Go past the break for Sargent’s full letter, which is a great rundown of the case from the perspective of the publishers that have decided not to settle: expand full story

Bloomberg is reporting that the United States has filed an antitrust lawsuit in a New York district court against Apple and publishers Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster over alleged eBook price-fixing. The news follows reports from Reuters yesterday that the U.S. Department of Justice was preparing to launch a lawsuit against Apple and five major publishers accused of colluding to fix and increase the price of eBooks.

According to the report, all the parties named in the suit—except Macmillan, Penguin, and Apple— are willing to settle to avoid legal costs. The Department of Justice could announce “unspecified” settlements as early as today.

At the core of the settlement discussions is the agency model introduced with the iPad in 2010. The deal with publishers was described by Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson:

“We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway…. They went to Amazon and said, ‘You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books.’ “

The model allows publishers to set their own prices as long as Apple gets a 30 percent cut and a guarantee that the same content is not offered lower elsewhere, but the Department of Justice is trying to return to Amazon’s wholesale model by giving retailers like Amazon control over pricing. Bloomberg explained: expand full story

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