JOBS from beyond grave: I AM NOT A CROOK, it was an 'aikido move'
Fanny fandroid: 'Suddenly my pants caught fire'
QuotW This was the week when Apple was ruled guilty as charged in the ebook price-fixing case by US District Judge Denise Cote and will now face a trial for damages.
The judge ruled that the fruity firm colluded with publishers to set the price folks should be paying for digital books and then sorted out a way to get that price. In her ruling, Judge Cote gave all the ways that the publishers had proved the case to her:
It is difficult for either Apple or the Publisher Defendants to deny that they worked together to achieve the twin aims of eliminating retail price competition and raising the prices for trade e-books. As Macmillan frankly acknowledged in writing to the trade in the Spring of 2010, one of its goals in moving to the agency model was to “[i]ncrease[e] prices” of e-books. As Penguin’s McCall wrote, “Agency is anti-pricewar territory. We don’t need to compete with other publishers on the price of our books.” Penguin executives told authors after signing the Apple Agreement that they had “fought to protect high prices; . . . fought against $9.99 pricing” to demand higher, “better” prices. It continued, “who knows, it is $14.99 this year, but in a few years it may be $16.99 or $19.99.” HarperCollins recognized that, with the Apple Agreements, Apple had become the “gatekeeper” on e-book pricing “for the industry.” As Cue admitted at trial, raising e-book prices was simply “all part of” the bargain in creating the iBookstore.
And of course, the judge once more pointed out that Steve Jobs' comments to biographer Walter Isaacson had damned the fruity firm:
Jobs described it as an “a[i]kido move” to move all retailers to agency and eliminate price competition with Amazon. In Jobs’s own words:
Amazon screwed it up. It paid the wholesale price for some books, but started selling them below cost at $9.99. The publishers hated that -– they thought it would trash their ability to sell hardcover books at $28. So before Apple even got on the scene, some booksellers were starting to withhold books from Amazon. So 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.” But we also asked for a guarantee that if anybody else is selling the books cheaper than we are, then we can sell them at the lower price too. So they went to Amazon and said, “You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books.”
In other fruity court proceedings, Apple also decided this week to give up on its case against Amazon over the use of the name "app store" for its...er...app store. Cupertino hoisted itself up onto the high road and condescended that it didn't really need to pursue the case since everyone knew that app store really meant Apple app store. Spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said:
We no longer see a need to pursue our case. With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favorite apps.
However, since the judge had already said there didn't seem to be much evidence to back up Apple's claims of trademark violation and false advertising, it might have been a bit more of an attempt to beat a dignified retreat. Amazon attorney Martin Glick said:
This was a decision by Apple to unilaterally abandon the case, and leave Amazon free to use 'appstore'.
And to sum up Apple's bad week, co-founder Steve Wozniak said that the company was in something of a creative hibernation since Steve Jobs passed away:
I think Apple is in one of these waiting periods waiting for the next big direction. You can't expect a whole new incredible revolution of a category of existing consumer electronics, you can't expect that every year. If you could have one every year it would be quite a surprise.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry chief Thorsten Heins has pleaded with investors for more time so the company can keep trying to figure out how to make money again. At the annual general meeting, Heins said:
Clearly, in the short term, investors expect better results and faster progress from us. I can assure you, we are driving night and day to implement the improvements in our company necessary to build this as a strong company for the long term.
In Blighty, sources have told El Reg that the controversial Universal Credit benefits system is so messed up that IT staff working on a pilot scheme have been forced to enter data by hand. One source said:
The whole thing needs a lot of work to allow for national rollout. There are big IT changes which need to be made and if they are not, the whole service will have to rely on clerical data entry, rather than automated data gathering.
There are big gaps in the system which are currently being plugged by manual processes. The whole thing needs a lot of work to allow for the proposed national roll out, because the current solution is not scaleable.
While the other source said they wouldn't be surprised to see Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith lose his post over the fiasco:
He is very exposed. What he is trying to do is quite admirable, yet the civil servants just aren't up to it. They wouldn't last a minute in the commercial world due to their poor work ethic, interpersonal skills and competency levels.
And finally, an unfortunate young fandroid woman has had her trousers set on fire by her Samsung Galaxy S3. 18-year-old Fanny Schlatter was minding her own business, loading paint cans into her boss' truck, when her smartphone randomly exploded in her trousers:
All of a sudden I heard a sound of explosion-type firecracker, then I felt a strange chemical smell and my work pants began to catch fire.
The luckless lass was rushed into a bathroom and doused by water, thanks to the quick thinking of her boss Stéphane Kubler, but not before she sustained second and third degree burns on her thigh that were severe enough, he said, to make her smell like a "burnt pig" – "cochon brûlé," to be exact. ®