Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘apple

Apple’s Price Hike, China’s DRAM Scam

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This week’s was the first Apple event I haven’t watched in quite some time.  Maybe years.

Is my love affair with Apple products over?

No, if anything, quite the opposite.

I use quite a number of Apple products.  

I just tend to hang on to them.

My 2011 Apple MacBook Air still works fine, albeit a little more slowly.

I love my AirPods (how’d we ever live without those!?)

And a few months ago I bought a used iPhone 7 Plus on Gazelle, and that was a big upgrade in terms of screen size and storage from my SE.

No, I just don’t need any more Apple stuff (new or otherwise), and I’m not the only one.

People aren’t upgrading as much as they used to, and that’s been particularly the case for the iPhone.

Which is likely why as part of this week’s announcement, the prices rose for both the new MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air (to $1,299 and $1,199 respectively).

Not outrageous hikes, and considering that a high-end iPhone can now cost as much or more as the MacBook Air…I guess it all depends on how you view it and what you need. Apple reports its latest earnings today after market close.

Meanwhile, there’s another story that appeared on the horizon, which was that a Chinese state-owned company was charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets of U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc. 

According a report from Bloomberg, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. and Taiwan’s United Microelectronics Corp. were indicted in California along with three individuals.

These indictments come just as Attorney General Jeff Sessions apparently “plans to announce Thursday a new initiative to respond to Chinese efforts to obtain American technology and trade secrets.”

Bloomberg writes that Micron is the only U.S.-based company that manufactures dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM, and that China didn’t possess DRAM technology before the alleged theft.

Written by turbotodd

November 1, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Posted in 2018, china

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Tim Cook and the Data Industrial Complex

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TechCrunch is reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook has begun to basically throw down the gauntlet with respect to the global trade in digital data, suggesting that it has exploded into a “data industrial complex.”

“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

“Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.”

This discussion came about as a result of a keynote speech Cook was giving to the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels.

Cook also addressed the issue of artificial intelligence, saying that “at its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency.”

“For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility.”

I find it fascinating that Cook tied up AI and privacy. He’s clearly looking well ahead to where some of the next major digital battlegroups are likely to take place, and the raw horsepower AI could bring to privacy violations.

Cook went on to say that Apple is “in full support of a comprehensive, federal privacy law in the United States.

He argued that a U.S. privacy law should prioritize four things:

  1. Data minimization — “the right to have personal data minimized”, saying companies should “challenge themselves” to de-identify customer data or not collect it in the first place
  2. Transparency — “the right to knowledge”, saying users should “always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for, saying it’s the only way to “empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t”. “Anything less is a shame,” he added
  3. The right to access — saying companies should recognize that “data belongs to users”, and it should be made easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data
  4. The right to security — saying “security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights”

Over the past several years, Apple has positioned itself as a protector of digital privacy rights. However, it should be noted that  Apple is also far less dependent on digital advertising revenue as are other key players in the tech space (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.)

Written by turbotodd

October 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

Apple Chips

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How about that rough stock market ride yesterday?

All I have to say about that is that it’s October (check your stock market history).

But yesterday’s steep selloff hasn’t stopped deals from happening.

TechCrunch is reporting that Apple will buy a part of Dialog Semiconductor, a chipmaker based out of unit, for $300 million in cash and a commitment of another $300 in further purchases from the company.

While Dialog is describing this as an asset transfer and licensing deal, it will be Apple’s biggest acquisition by far in terms of people: 300 people will be joining Apple as part of it, or about 16 percent of Dialog’s total workforce. From what we understand, those who are joining have already been working tightly with Apple up to now. The teams joining are based across Livorno in Italy, Swindon in England, and Nabern and Neuaubing in Germany, near Munich, where Apple already has an operation.

TechCrunch suggests this deal is part of a continued emphasis on Apple’s "putting considerable effort into building faster and more efficient chips that can help differentiate its hardware from the rest of the consumer Electronics pack….and comes at a time when many expect Apple to release a VR headset in the future."

Dialog says post the acquisition, the remaining part of the business will focus more on IoT, as well as mobile, automotive, computing and storage markets, specifically as a provider of custom and configurable mixed-signal integrated circuit chips.

Written by turbotodd

October 11, 2018 at 9:55 am

Bigger, Better iPhones?

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First off, for those of you in the North Carolina and South Carolina and Virginia and surrounding states, I wish you well in the coming days and hope that you all stay safe, sound, and dry!

Hurricanes are no fun. We found that out first-hand last year with Harvey here in Texas.

But neither rain nor sleet nor storms can prevent Apple from announcing their next slate of gadgets, which they’re slated to do here in about 45 minutes.

I love all the guesswork that goes into trying to figure out what Apple is going to announce at these events, but All Things How is taking a crack at the tea leaves by analyzing the Apple products sitemap on the company’s website.

In its analysis, they discovered that the company is introducing at least two new iPhones, the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max.

Some details:

iPhone XS Display Size: 5.8-inch
iPhone XS Max Display Size: 6.5-inch
iPhone XS and XS Max Storage Options: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB
iPhone XS and XS Max Color Options: Silver, Black, and Gold

iPhone XR Display Size: 6.1-inch
iPhone XR Storage Options: 64GB and 256GB
iPhone XR Color Options: Black, White, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Coral

We’ll all know more for sure in a couple of hours.

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2018 at 11:16 am

Posted in 2018, apple, weather

Tagged with , , ,

Oh Thank Heavens

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It’s all about convenience.

MacRumors is reporting that 7-Eleven announced yesterday that Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted at nearly all of its 10,000+ locations across the United States.

The company also highlighted some of the technology improvements that it has introduced recently including the 7-Eleven NOW app for placing on demand orders with Apple Pay, the 7Rewards loyalty program that allows customers to earn points for purchases, and the 7-Eleven Bot on Facebook Messenger to allow customers to get quick answers to questions.

Those all-critical questions that often arise at 2 AM, like: “Do you have any hotdogs left?”

To use Apple Pay at 7-Eleven stores, customers will need an iPhone 6, 6s, 6, 7, 8, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, SE, or X, and/or a compatible Apple Watch model.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2018 at 9:35 am

Posted in apple, retail, payments, 2018

Tagged with , , ,

Apple AR Acquisition

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Happy Thursday.

Reuters is reporting that Apple has acquired a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses, a sign that Apple has ambitions to make a wearable device that would superimpose digital information on the real world.

The company, Akonia, could not be immediately reached for comment, according to Reuters. it reports the company was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists and had originally focused on holographic data storage before pivoting to creating displays for AR glasses.

Neither the purchase price nor the date of the acquisition was revealed, although one executive in the AR industry said the Akonia team had become “very quiet” over the past six months.

Reuter’s suggests that this acquisition is the first clear indication about Apple might handle one of the most daunting challenges in AR hardware: producing crystal clear optical displays thin and light enough to fit in the glasses similar to everyday frames with images bright enough for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a relatively low price.

Meanwhile, from The Verge we learn that Google’s Titan Security key set — which includes a USB key, a Bluetooth key, and various connectors — is now available to we mere mortals for only $50.

The Titan keys work as a second factor for a number of services, including Google Cloud customers, Facebook, Dropbox, and GitHub. But as The Verge points out, they’re built particularly for Google account logins, and, specifically, the Advanced Protection Program announced last October.

The Verge writes that “Because the keys verify themselves with a complex handshake rather than a static code, they’re far more resistant to phishing attacks than a conventional confirmtion code. The key was initially designed for internal Google use, and has been in active use within the company for more than eight months.”

Google has also indicated the production process makes the keys more resistant to supply chain attacks, because the firmware is sealed permanently Into a secure element hardware chip at production time in the chip production factory. Google says that the chip used is designed to resist physical attacks aimed at extracting firmware and secret key material.

Anything to keep the very bad people away from my data.

Written by turbotodd

August 30, 2018 at 9:49 am

Give the Fancy Bear Some Slack

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Happy Tuesday.

Another hacking story concerning the Russians, this time from The New York Times alleging that Microsoft has “detected and seized websites that were created in recent weeks by hackers linked to the Russian unit formerly known as the G.R.U.”

The story goes on to suggest the sites were an attempt meant to trick people into thinking they were going to be visiting conservative think tank sites like the Hudson Institute, but instead were redirected to pages created by the hackers in order to steal passwords and other credentials.

Microsoft president Brad Smith had this to say: 

These attacks are seeking to disrupt and divide,” he said. “There is an asymmetric risk here for democratic societies. The kind of attacks we see from authoritarian regimes are seeking to fracture and splinter groups in our society.

But enough depressing security news…what new gadgets are coming out and how much do they cost?

Apple is rumored to be developing a pro-focused upgrade to the Mac mini and a MacBook Air reboot that will have smaller bezels and a retina 13” screen later this year. This according to a report from Bloomberg.

Bloomberg suggests the new laptop will look similar to the current MacBook Air and will remain about 13 inches. No word on cost. Me, my 2011 vintage MacBook Air still works just fine, thank you very much.

Finally, Slack has raised $427 million in a new Series H round, valuating the company “north of $7.1B,” according to a story by Axios

At last count, Slack had 8 million daily active users and over 70K paid teams, and only just three years ago was valued just above that of your standard, everyday Silicon Valley unicorn (just north of $1B).

Maybe they need a new term for those unicorns who graduate to +$5B valuations.  Unicornaminotaur?

Written by turbotodd

August 21, 2018 at 9:51 am

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