'These working conditions are appalling, especially for Apple'

Plus: Your new project sounds exactly like TED

Quotw This was the week when it was claimed that whatever else Apple, Google, Facebook and the rest of them might be up to, they were also giving Americans jobs.

A report from TechNet that used want-ads to guesstimate said that jobs in the so-called App Economy had rocketed from none in 2007 to 466,000 today.

This included jobs in "pure" app firms such as Zynga, "app-related" jobs at companies such as Electronic Arts, Amazon, and AT&T, and app "infrastructure" jobs at Google, Apple and Facebook.

This was also the week when anyone who was concerned that boy-faced Mark Zuckerberg would get royally screwed by the taxman when Facebook went public and he netted billions of dollars needn't worry. An SEC filing by the company made clear that their squillionaire leader would use the money he made from selling his shares in the IPO to pay his taxes on buying yet more shares. Phew!

The filing read:

We expect that substantially all of the net proceeds Mr Zuckerberg will receive upon such sale will be used to satisfy taxes that he will incur upon his exercise of an outstanding stock option to purchase 120,000,000 shares of our Class B common stock.

It was a bad week for Apple as activists who clearly hadn't previously heard about the terrible working conditions at the firm's Foxconn factories in China widely reported in 2007 and 2010, suddenly found out about them because The New York Times did a series.

Mark Shields, who launched a campaign on Change.org, said:

I have been a lifelong Apple customer and was shocked to learn of the abusive working conditions in many of Apple’s supplier factories. At Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest manufacturers, there is a history of suicides, abusive working conditions, and almost no pay. These working conditions are appalling, especially for Apple.

Quite why it's worse because it's Apple, other than that Shields' conscience may prevent him from grabbing the next headlining iProduct, was unclear.

And an iPad trademark infringement case, also in China, dragged for the fruity firm, with the complainant now asking for a $38m fine. Oh, and the small matter of an apology.

Proview Technology has a complicated case that boils down to its assertion that the name "iPad" originally belonged to them.

Lawyer Xie Xianghui said:

We are asking the court to order Apple to stop selling and marketing the iPad in China. We also demand an apology.

But the supposed evil nature of Apple hasn't stopped the flood of rumours about what new or slightly revamped product the fruity firm might come up with next. This week featured rare spottings of the elusive Apple TV rumour.

The iTV, no relation to the UK telly channel, was apparently lurking in the labs of some large Canadian telcos, which might consider partnering up with Cupertino on their launches.

An unnamed source said:

They’re looking for a partner. They’re looking for someone with wireless and broadband capabilities.

"But one rumour isn't enough!" the fanbois shout. Oh go on then, there was also some rumours about the possibly upcoming iPad 3, which revolved around 'leaked' pics of its casing. It might have a bigger battery.

Over at Google, the struggle to save the world continued, with the launch of the search giant's "Solve for X" project, which appeared to be TED. (We await the patent battle with anticipation.)

The Chocolate Factory said:

These are efforts that take on global-scale problems, define radical solutions to those problems, and involve some form of breakthrough technology that could actually make them happen. Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; they are 10x improvement, not 10 per cent. That’s partly what makes them so exciting.

Everyone else said (we're paraphrasing here):

That sounds exactly like TED. You know? That non-profit organisation that brings people from the technology, entertainment and design worlds together to talk about great ideas? And then they put them on the website and they're called TEDTalks? Just like your Talks that are on your Solve for X website?

But at least its heart is in the right place, and its project is a bit more focused because your idea isn't wanted unless it solves a world problem with some sort of cutting-edge tech.

El Goog's attempts to better humanity were balanced this week with continued concern over its new privacy policy. Europe was already working on getting Mountain View to put a wee hold on its plans till it could get a good look at them so the Electronic Privacy Information Centre in the US decided to sue the Federal Trade Commission for doing nothing.

The group said:

EPIC alleges that this change in business practice is in clear violation of the consent order that Google entered into on October 13, 2011. The consent order arises from a complaint that EPIC brought to the Commission in February, 2010 concerning Google Buzz and a similar attempt by Google to combine user data without user consent.

Adding to its (potentially) darker side, Google also failed to reassure people about what its FRAND licensing policies will be if it gets regulatory approval to slurp Motorola, despite writing a letter that specifically sought to "assure".

The letter said:

This letter is intended to assure you and any potential licensees that, following Google's acquisition of MMI, Google will honour MMI's existing commitments to license the acquired MMI Essential Patent Claims on RAND terms, as required by IEEE rules and consistent with MMI's longstanding practice. This letter is irrevocable.

Unfortunately, it also said:

Google understands that, pursuant to IEEE rules, MMI is prepared to grant licenses for Essential Patent Claims with a maximum per-unit royalty of 2.25 per cent of the net selling price for the relevant end product.

and said it might still look for bans on devices that didn't sign up to its FRAND offers. This led some to speculate that the firm was planning to gouge potential licensees with hugely excessive royalty rates of 2.25 per cent per patent (even though that's not really what it said) and if the licensee said no, they'd slap 'em with an injunction.

Finally, hackers who purportedly stole Symantec source code for pcAnywhere and Norton Antivirus got bored of trying to extort $50,000 from the firm and posted the code online, along with the email negotiations between them.

After the codes got out, Symantec said that the hackers were actually talking to a law enforcement officer posing as an employee, who entered into negotiations with the hackers for the safe return of the code.

The company said:

In January an individual claiming to be part of the 'Anonymous' group attempted to extort a payment from Symantec in exchange for not publicly posting stolen Symantec source code they claimed to have in their possession... The e-mail string posted by Anonymous was actually between them and a fake e-mail address set up by law enforcement. Anonymous actually reached out to us, first, saying that if we provided them with money, they would not post any more source code. At that point, given that it was a clear cut case of extortion, we contacted law enforcement and turned the investigation over to them.

The firm has not confirmed if the code is the real deal or not. ®

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