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Iphone

Apple Loses Exclusive Rights To 'iPhone' Trademark For Non-Smartphone Products In China (appleinsider.com) 81

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AppleInsider: Adding to the company's problems in the region, Apple has lost exclusivity on the use of the "iPhone" trademark in China, and must now share it with Beijing-based leather products maker Xintong Tiandi Technology, reports said on Tuesday. On March 31, the Beijing Municipal High People's Court rejected an Apple appeal of an earlier ruling, according to Quartz. Xintong Tiandi is already selling a number of "IPHONE" products, including purses, passport cases, and most notably phone cases. The company registered its trademark in China in 2007, the same year as the Apple iPhone launched in the United States. That was, however, still five years after Apple registered the iPhone name in China for computer products, something which formed the basis of a 2012 complaint to the country's trademark authorities. In 2013 the government ruled that because Apple couldn't prove the name "IPHONE" was well-known prior to Xintong Tiandi's registration, the public wouldn't link its use in a way that would harm Apple interests. In rejecting Apple's appeal, the High People's Court further noted that the company didn't sell the iPhone in mainland China until 2009. This comes after Apple reported its first earnings decline in more than a decade.
Iphone

Slashdot Asks: What Do You Think Is The Most Influential Gadget Of All Time? (macrumors.com) 363

TIME has published a list ranking the 50 most influential gadgets of all time, from cameras and TVs to music players, smartphones, and drones. Can you guess what was the number one most influential gadget on the list? That's right, the Apple iPhone. "Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007," according to TIME. "The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks."

There's a lot of interesting gadgets on the list that have had a profound impact on mankind in some form or another, for better or worse. Do you agree with TIME's number one choice? What do you think is the most influential gadget of all time?
Iphone

Tim Cook Defends Apple, Teases Exciting New Products In The Pipeline (bgr.com) 217

anderzole quotes a report from BGR: Apple's earnings report last week saw the company report a year over year decline in profits for the first time since 2003. The biggest contributing factor to the decline, not surprisingly, is that year over year iPhone sales dropped by 16%. Notably, Apple's most recent quarter represents the company's first iPhone sales decline in history. Consequently, the usual contingent of pundits and analysts have come out of the woodwork, all exclaiming that we've reached 'peak iPhone' and that Apple at this point has nowhere to go but down. In an effort to inject a bit of good news and all-around optimism to a particularly negative Apple news cycle, Tim Cook earlier today appeared on CNBC with Jim Cramer where the Apple CEO teased that Apple's still has a lot of innovation left to do and some interesting items in the product pipeline. "We've got great innovation in the pipeline," Cook said to Cramer. "New iPhones that will incentivize you and other people that have iPhones today to upgrade to new iPhones. We are going to give you things you can't live without that you just don't know you need today. That has always been the objective of Apple is to do things that really enrich people's lives. That you look back on and you wonder, how did I live without this."
Crime

The Government Wants Your Fingerprint To Unlock Phones (dailygazette.com) 221

schwit1 quotes this report from the Daily Gazette: "As the world watched the FBI spar with Apple this winter in an attempt to hack into a San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, federal officials were quietly waging a different encryption battle in a Los Angeles courtroom. There, authorities obtained a search warrant compelling the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized from a Glendale home. The phone contained Apple's fingerprint identification system for unlocking, and prosecutors wanted access to the data inside it.

It marked a rare time that prosecutors have demanded a person provide a fingerprint to open a computer, but experts expect such cases to become more common as cracking digital security becomes a larger part of law enforcement work. The Glendale case and others like it are forcing courts to address a basic question: How far can the government go to obtain biometric markers such as fingerprints and hair?"

IOS

Apple's Smartwatch Draws Competition And A Very Bad Review (businessinsider.com) 104

Apple's share of the smartwatch market actually started declining in 2016, dropping down to just 52.4% (down from 63%), according to Business Insider. And following up on Apple's first drop in earnings in over 10 years, Slashdot reader Zanadou shares a Gizmodo's latest story about the Apple Watch.

"I stopped wearing it two months ago, and I'm not sure if I'll ever wear it again. That's because it doesn't really do anything that anyone needs, and even when it does, it doesn't always work like it's supposed to. Here are some things I learned over the past year of strapping the screen vibrator to my wrist."
The article describes wanting to try a new form factor, but ending up confused by the watch's two-button interface (where the buttons perform multiple functions). Gizmodo's writer complains that "there's literally no comfortable way to actually use it," and while he did appreciate things like the time-of-sunrise feature and the ability to read text messages on your wrist, most Apple Watch apps "just end up being a shell of the iPhone app". And worst of all, it was difficult to use the watch to actually tell time, since "the screen doesn't always turn on when you raise your wrist like it's supposed to."
Businesses

Billionaire Investor Carl Icahn Sells Entire Stake In Apple (theguardian.com) 127

An anonymous reader writes: Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said he has sold his entire stake in Apple, citing the risk of China's influence on the stock. The report comes after Apple announced its first earnings decline in more than a decade, where Apple's revenue is dropping 26% year-over-year. Icahn is concerned with the barriers to trade that China's authoritarian regime might put in place. Icahn said he wasn't concerned with interference so much with the country's "relationship" with Apple. "The thing that I'm worried about here in China doesn't affect the whole market. I'm not talking about China's economic status right now. I'm talking about, could the thing with Apple escalate a little bit? And if that does, what does that mean to Apple's profits during the interim?" Icahn acquired a stake in the company almost three years ago, calling the investment a "no brainer." What caused him to sell his 45.8 million Apple shares (priced at $240 a share) was China's economic slowdown and worries about how China could become more prohibitive in doing business.
Iphone

FBI Bought $1M iPhone 5C Hack, But Doesn't Know How It Works (theguardian.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI has no idea how the hack used in unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5C works, but it paid a sum less than $1m for the mechanism, according to a report. Reuters, citing several U.S. government sources, note that the government intelligence agency didn't pay a value over $1.3m for purchasing the hack from professional hackers, as previously reported by many outlets. The technique can also be used as many times as needed without further payments, the report adds. The FBI director, James Comey, said last week that the agency paid more to get into the iPhone 5C than he will make in the remaining seven years and four months he has in his job, suggesting the hack cost more than $1.3m, based on his annual salary.
Encryption

Top Security Experts Say Anti-Encryption Bill Authors Are 'Woefully Ignorant' (dailydot.com) 90

blottsie writes from a report on the Daily Dot: In a Wall Street Journal editorial titled "Encryption Without Tears," Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein pushed back on widespread condemnation of their Compliance with Court Orders Act, which would require tech companies to provide authorities with user data in an "intelligible" format if served with a warrant. But security experts Bruce Schneir, Matthew Green, and others say the lawmakers entirely misunderstand the issue. "On a weekly basis we see gigabytes of that information dumped to the Internet," Green told the Daily Dot. "This is the whole problem that encryption is intended to solve." He added: "You can't hold out the current flaws in the Internet as a justification for why the Internet shouldn't be made secure." "These criticisms of Burr and Feinstein's analogy emphasize an important point about digital security: The differences between the levels of encryption protecting certain types of data -- purchase records on Amazon's servers versus photos on an iPhone, for example -- lead to different levels of risk," writes Eric Geller of the Daily Dot.
Iphone

Intel Wants To Eliminate The Headphone Jack And Replace It With USB-C (9to5mac.com) 381

An anonymous reader writes: With rumors circulating about how Apple may do away with the 3.5 mm headphone jack on its upcoming iPhone 7, Intel has shared a similar desire, citing "industry singling a strong desire to move from analog to digital." Intel believes USB-C is the future audio jack. They believe USB-C has more potential than the 3.5mm audio jack as it allows users to add additional smart features to headphones in the future. For instance, a future pair of headphones could monitor one's pulse or inner-ear temperature for fitness tracking, something that could only be possible if the headphones were connected to a smartphone via a USB-C cable. What's also worth mentioning [quoted from 9to5Mac]: USB-C already supports analog audio transfer through sideband pins simplifying the engineering steps necessary to swap 3.5mm with USB-C in device designs. In the second quarter, Intel should have a finalized USB-C standard for digital audio transfer. Intel does note that the transition from analog to digital will be expensive as the headphones have to include amplifiers and DACs, but scale will offset the early costs over time.
Hardware

Smartphone Shipments Flat For the First Time, Says IDC 105

An anonymous reader writes: Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide last quarter. This figure is up just 0.2 percent from the 334.3 million units in Q1 2015, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record. We saw hints of this in yesterday's Apple earnings report, when the company reported an iPhone sales drop for the first time. Despite the poor state of the worldwide smartphone market, Samsung continues to dominate. In Q1 2016, the South Korean company once again shipped more smartphones than any other vendor.
Encryption

A Complete Guide To The New 'Crypto Wars' (dailydot.com) 68

blottsie writes: The latest debate over encryption did not begin with a court order demanding Apple help the FBI unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone. The new "Crypto Wars," chronicled in a comprehensive timeline by Eric Geller of the Daily Dot, dates back to at least 2003, with the introduction of "Patriot Act II." The battle over privacy and personal security versus crime-fighting and national security has, however, become a mainstream debate in recent months. The timeline covers a wide-range of incidents where the U.S. and other allied governments have tried to restrict citizens' access to strong encryption. The timeline ends with the director of national intelligence blaming NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the spread of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption.
Security

FBI Director Suggests iPhone Hacking Method May Remain Secret (reuters.com) 110

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: FBI Director James Comey said on Tuesday that his agency was still assessing whether a vulnerability used to unlock an iPhone linked to one of the San Bernardino killers would go through a government review to determine if it should be disclosed to Apple or the public. "We are in the midst of trying to sort that out," Comey said. "The threshold (for disclosure) is, are we aware of the vulnerability, or did we just buy a tool and don't have sufficient knowledge of the vulnerability to implicate the process?" The White House has a procedure for reviewing technology security flaws and deciding which ones should be made public. Although officials say the process leans toward disclosure, it is not set up to handle or reveal flaws that are discovered and owned by private companies, sources have told Reuters, raising questions about the effectiveness of the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process.
Businesses

Apple Has First Earnings Decline In More Than A Decade (go.com) 283

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced its first-ever decline in revenue in the past 13 years as its iPhone sales have slowed down. Apple posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion. Last year, the company posted revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion. The reason Apple has been so successful is because of the iPhone, which was first released in 2007. What goes up must come down -- and we're starting to see that now. The success of the iPhone is starting plateau and ultimately decrease now that consumers are finding less of a reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest smartphone. Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed to weakening currencies worldwide as one of the obstacles the company would face as iPhone sales were up less than 1 percent year-over-year last quarter. Gene Munster, managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, told ABC News, "This has been anticipated for three months now. The reason is nothing [that] is wrong with the iPhone." Munster said this is not worrisome to Apple and that iPhone sales will likely increase by the end of the year when the next iPhone(s) is released.
Iphone

Apple Is Outdated, Says Chinese Conglomerate LeEco CEO (cnbc.com) 244

An anonymous reader shares an article on CNBC: Apple is "outdated" and losing momentum in China, billionaire entrepreneur Jia Yueting told CNBC in his first international television interview. "Apple only has individual apps. This was the right choice during the first generation of mobile net, when CPUs [central processing units] and the mobile network speeds were not fast enough," Jia said. "However now we're moving into the next era of mobile internet, these problems no longer exist. Moreover, having separate apps just means great obstacles in the user experience. We hope to break down these obstacles. One of the most important reasons [for slowing sales] is that Apple's innovation has become extremely slow," he said. "For example, a month ago Apple launched the iPhone SE. From an industry insider's perspective, this is a product with a very low level of technology... We think this is something they just shouldn't have done. [...] The Watch hasn't cut it. And they're looking at content on the services side, on the iTunes side. We'll see how that works out. But definitely they need something to drive the next leg of growth." In some other Apple news, the company is expected to announce its first quarterly year-over-year revenue decline since 2003 later today.
Google

40% of Silicon Valley's Profits (But Not Sales) Came from Apple (siliconvalley.com) 147

An anonymous reader writes:The San Jose Mercury News reports that last year 40% of Silicon Valley's profits came from one company -- Apple. "The iPhone maker accounted for 28 percent of the Bay Area tech industry's $833 billion in 2015 sales," while "Its profits were a jaw-dropping 40 percent of the region's $133 billion total." Meanwhile, Google's parent company Alphabet racked up $75 billion in sales, representing nearly 57% of the total for all Silicon Valley internet companies, followed by eBay and PayPal.

But while sales grew, internet-company profits fell by 29% as more companies focused on growth. "Profits are nice, sure, but becoming profitable isn't the top priority around here, particularly for younger firms," wrote the newspaper, noting that investors are paying 18 times Facebook's annual sales for its stock. In fact, 29% of Silicon Valley's top companies didn't have sales growth in 2015 (an increase from 17% the previous year), and five of the top 10 companies saw a drop in sales in 2015 (including Intel). "The numbers are telling the story," one analyst tells the newspaper. "There is growth, but it is slowing."

The Mercury News adds that "The question for those with the biggest sales drops is how much time do they have left if the trend continues..."
Government

From Uber To Eric Schmidt, Tech Is Closer To the US Government Than You'd Think (theguardian.com) 48

An anonymous reader shares an article on The Guardian: Alphabet's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently joined a Department of Defense advisory panel. Facebook recently hired a former director at the U.S. military's research lab, Darpa. Uber employs Barack Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe and Amazon.com tapped his former spokesman Jay Carney. Google, Facebook, Uber and Apple collectively employ a couple of dozen former analysts for America's spy agencies, who openly list their resumes on LinkedIn.

These connections are neither new nor secret. But the fact they are so accepted illustrates how tech's leaders -- even amid current fights over encryption and surveillance -- are still seen as mostly U.S. firms that back up American values. Christopher Soghoian, a technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, said low-level employees' government connections matter less than leading executives' ties to government. For instance, at least a dozen Google engineers have worked at the NSA, according to publicly available records on LinkedIn. And, this being Silicon Valley, not everyone who worked for a spy agency advertises that on LinkedIn. Soghoian, a vocal critic of mass surveillance, said Google hiring an ex-hacker for the NSA to work on security doesn't really bother him. "But Eric Schmidt having a close relationship with the White House does," he said.
Danny Yadron, said, "What's worse for a Silicon Valley executive: ties to the Chinese military or friends in the US Defense Department?"
Technology

Slashdot Asks: Does It Matter That We've Reached Peak Smartphone? 197

Gizmodo, in its typical sensational voice, ran a story this week in which it argues that smartphones are in a "ridiculously boring place" right now. Alex Cranz with the publication expresses her discontent with some of the recently launched smartphones such as the iPhone SE, the LG G5, and the Galaxy S7. "These devices have not redefined the way we phone, nor have they blown us away with unprecedented speeds, or wowed us with extraordinary battery life. Each of these new phones is merely a marginal improvement over last year's model." I agree with most of what Cranz has to say. In the past one year, we've seen QHD display panel, Snapdragon 810/820 SoC, 3 to 4GB of RAM becoming a norm. Nearly every manufacturer has reached that point, and then sort of stopped there. Compared to the Nexus 4, for instance, the Nexus 6P offers a significant improvement. But when compared to anything you purchased two years ago -- in the echelon of your choice -- the latest offering isn't going to leave a big impression on you. The industry is currently making small noises about what it thinks could be the next big thing. Some players including Samsung and Lenovo believe that it could be the virtual reality addon. We will have to see how much traction that gets.

My contention with Cranz's story is that it doesn't talk about how these devices are impacting people's lives, hence missing the big picture. I believe that it doesn't necessarily matter if our smartphones aren't going to get any smarter. The first-generation Moto G, from a few years ago, can also help you quickly get information from the Web, and it can also allow you to book a cab using Uber app, and do pretty much everything that you do on a flagship smartphone. As Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson pointed out last month, the next "second smartphone revolution" could enhance the lives of millions of people in places such as Asia, where most of the population still doesn't have a smartphone. When you look at that, it becomes unnecessary to talk about the top-of-the-line specs and the rate at which these smartphones are receiving incremental improvements. The vast majority of people in the emerging world are in a desperate need of a bare-bone smartphone that allows them to make phone calls, even if it doesn't do it in a "redefined" fashion, and works with speeds that don't blow them away, a couple of things that I think we are taking for granted. Wilson wrote: The first 2.5bn smartphones brought us Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, WhatsApp, Kik, Venmo, Duolingo, and most importantly, drove the big web apps to build world class mobile apps and move their userbases from web to mobile. But, if you stare at the top 200 non-game mobile apps in the US (and most of the western hemisphere) you will see that the list doesn't look that different than the top 200 websites. The mobile revolution from 2007 to 2015 in the west was more about how we accessed the internet than what apps we used, with some notable and important exceptions. The next 2.5bn people to adopt smartphones may turn out to be a different story. They will mostly live outside the developed and wealthy parts of the world and they will look to their smartphones to deliver essential services that they have not been receiving at all -- from the web or from the offline world. I am thinking about financial services, healthcare services, educational services, transportation services, and the like. Stuff that matters a bit more than seeing where you friends had a fun time last night or what it looks like when you faceswap with your sister.At this moment, it does seem to me that over the coming months, our smartphones are unlikely to get a major hardware boost. The biggest milestone we have on the horizon is what happens when everyone has these smartphones, and how does it impact our businesses, culture, and social lives. What's your take on this? Do you think we are yet to reach the peak point in the smartphone world? What's the big picture in your opinion?Update: 04/23 18:55 GMT by M :Robotech_Master's take on this is pretty insightful.
Government

FBI Paid More Than $1 Million For San Bernardino 'Hack' (cbsnews.com) 99

An anonymous reader writes: FBI Director James Comey has indicated the bureau paid more than $1 million for the method used to hack into the iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernadino shooters. How did he allude to it? He said the FBI paid more money than he would make in the time left as FBI director. He makes just under $200,000 a year based on public files and has over seven years left on his term. "How much did you pay for this software?" Comey was asked. "A lot," he said. "More -- let's see. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure," Comey said. "And so it's a -- but it was in my view, worth it, because it's a tool that helps us with a 5c running iOS 9, which is a bit of a corner case, increasingly as the devices develop and move on to the 6 and 6s and whatnot and iOS's change, but I think it's very, very important that we get into that device." Comey said.
XBox (Games)

Slashdot Asks: Is the Golden Era of Video-Game Console Sales Over? 314

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has stopped producing Xbox 360, a gaming console it launched in 2005. According to estimations, the company sold more than 85 million Xbox 360 units worldwide. Quartz has an insightful story today, in which it compares the shipment numbers of Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the current generation consoles, to conclude that the "golden era" of video-game console sales is over. According to estimations, citing data provided by Nintendo, CNET, GameSpot, and Giant Bomb, the crown for the most popular gaming console goes to the Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) with 155.1 million inventories shipped. Sony PlayStation (1994) saw the movement of 102.49 million units, whereas 101.63 million Nintendo Wii inventories were dispatched. In comparison, Sony has sold 35.9 million units of PlayStation 4 so far, and Microsoft has sold roughly 10 million Xbox One units. From Quartz's report: It does seem, to some degree, that the golden age of home video-game consoles may be over. The previous generation of consoles was the last generation that didn't have to contend for users' time with mobile games. And you could make a strong case that a large portion of the casual gaming audience that Nintendo attracted for the Wii was almost entirely wiped out by mobile gaming. After all, the Wii was released in 2006 -- a year before the iPhone launched. Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, has been the company's worst-selling of all time. The average consumer may now feel more inclined to just pick up their phone and play Candy Crush or Temple Run than to get up and swing a controller around. The home console's saving grace could well be virtual reality. Just about every major tech and video-games company is working on a VR headset -- apart from Nintendo, it seems -- and early reviews of Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive headsets have reduced non-gamers to tears. None of the top 10 most popular games consoles of all time have been released in the last 10 years, and VR may well be what turns the slowing console market back around.What's your take on this?
Digital

Choosing to Skip the Upgrade and Care for the Gadget You've Got (nytimes.com) 183

The New York Times has run a piece on its "Tech Fix" section, in which it argues, citing a user's experience, why skipping an upgrade might not be a bad idea, and how you could hold on to your existing device for a little longer. The story revolves around Vincent Lai, who dug up a Palm Treo, a smartphone that was disconnected last decade, and found that with little tweaks, the phone still had some life in it. From the article: Mr. Lai's behavior might be extreme, but his experience with the Palm Treo illustrates there is another way: If you simply put some maintenance into electronics as you would a car, you can stay happy with your gadgets for years. It is part of a movement of anti-consumerism, or the notion of cherishing what you have rather than incessantly buying new stuff. Signs of this philosophy are spreading: Industry data suggests that consumers are waiting longer to upgrade to new phones than they have in the past. [...] When smartphones and tablets were fairly sluggish and limited in abilities compared with computers, there was a compelling reason to buy a new mobile device every few years. But now the mobile gadgets have become so fast and capable that you can easily keep them much longer. "A five-year-old computer is still completely fine now," Mr. Wiens said. "We're starting to hit that same plateau with phones now."The article also shares some tips such as clearing up storage and getting your device's battery replaced -- which costs roughly $20 to $40 -- that can help you get the max out of your phone and tablet. There's one more aspect, which the aforementioned article doesn't talk about. If you have an old iDevice -- iPhone or iPad -- upgrading to the latest available version of the operating system could substantially slow it up. Not upgrading, however, exposes your device to a range of security attacks. It's a tough choice.

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