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Apple ‘on the prowl’ with 24 acquisitions in last year and a half

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 03:08 pm PT (06:08 pm ET)

Apple has bought two-dozen companies in the last 18 months, it was revealed on Wednesday, and more deals are likely on the way, with Tim Cook describing Apple as “on the prowl” for potential acquisitions that make sense.

Speaking during his company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Cook told analysts that Apple is on the lookout for companies with talented employees and “great technology.” But a key factor for those acquisitions is that they “fit culturally,” the CEO said.

Cook also said that Apple considers whether its acquisitions will make sense and add value for shareholders over the long haul before the company goes through with a purchase.

“We are not in a race to spend the most or acquire the most,” he said. “We’re in a race to make the best products that enrich people’s lives.”
“We don’t have a rule that says we can’t spend a lot or whatever. We’ll spend what we think is a fair price.” – Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook
Cook admitted that Apple tries to keep its acquisitions a secret, though sometimes that seems like an “impossible” task. But he assured analysts and media on the conference call that purchases of companies will continue.

Apple has historically purchased smaller companies in strategic deals, never having spent more than $1 billion on any acquisition. But Cook said that could change, if it were the right deal.

“We don’t have a rule that says we can’t spend a lot or whatever,” Cook said. “We’ll spend what we think is a fair price.”

The CEO originally revealed at the end of February that Apple had bought 23 companies in the previous 16 months. That would suggest that Apple has since made one more purchase.

That 24th company may be Japanese chipmaker Renesas SP Drivers, as a potential deal between the two parties was rumored earlier this month. The company makes LCD chips for Apple’s iPhone, and was said to have been in talks for a $479 million buyout.

Apple made a number of acquisitions in 2013, a good portion of which were related to mapping, signaling that the company is acquiring talent in an effort to bolster its own Maps product for iOS and OS X. Among those purchases was public transit and navigation firm HopStop, crowd-sourced mapping data startup Locationary, indoor GPS company WifiSLAM, and digital mapping firm BroadMap.

Other deals from the last year-and-a-half include the purchases of:

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Apple’s Cook touts Microsoft Office for iPad, says it could have come sooner

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 03:36 pm PT (06:36 pm ET)

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday said that Microsoft’s Office for iPad is a “key franchise” in enterprise, an area where Apple is pushing for tablet dominance, but admitted the software could have come a bit sooner.

While Cook offered a good deal of praise for Office, saying Microsoft’s productivity suite is a good fit for iPad, the Apple chief tempered his enthusiasm by pointing out how long the Redmond, Wash.-based company took to bring the software over

“Office is still a very key franchise in the enterprise, in particular, and I think having it on the iPad is good,” Cook said. “If it had been done earlier, it would have been better for Microsoft frankly.”

The long-awaited productivity suite was an instant hit, topping the iOS App Store charts within hours of release and raking in more than 12 million downloads after one week of availability.

Microsoft launched Office for iPad a little over one week ago as a standalone extension of its Office 365 program. Users can download the apps — Word, Excel and PowerPoint — and view documents for free, but editing and saving requires a supported Office 365 subscription.

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Tim Cook: Angela Ahrendts to join Apple next week, thanks outgoing CFO Peter Oppenheimer

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 04:19 pm PT (07:19 pm ET)

During Apple’s quarterly earnings conference call, chief executive Tim Cook said he looked forward to welcoming Angela Ahrendts as the company’s new retail and online leader next week, while offering public thanks to outgoing chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer.

Apple’s retail operation finally gets a leader

Last week, a report by the The Guardian speculated that Ahrendts wouldn’t leave her current position as chief executive of Burberry until June.

Apple had previously only said that Ahrendts would join the company this spring. However, after reviewing Apple’s retail operations, including new stores in Brazil and Turkey that expanded the company’s retail presence across 15 countries, Cook noted that he looked forward to welcoming Ahrendts, “who will be joining Apple’s executive team next week.”

Apple has been without a dedicated retail leader since the departure of John Browett, who was fired in October 2012 after less than a year on the job. For the last year and a half, Apple’s retail group has been reporting directly to Cook himself.

After reviewing Apple’s $100 billion in blockbuster sales over just the last two quarters, Cook added, “as always, I’d like to thank our talented employees who make these results possible through the creativity and passion they bring to their work every day.

“And I’d like to thank our hundreds of millions of customers for their loyalty and enthusiasm, and for continually inspiring us to surprise and delight them,” Cook added.

Cook thanks Oppenheimer at CFO’s retirement

Following a segment where Apple’s vice president of Finance and corporate controller Luca Maestri outlined details of the company’s business, Cook drew attention to the coming retirement of Oppenheimer, previously announced in early March.

Maestri will succeed Oppenheimer as Apple’s chief financial officer in September, following a transition through the summer.

Cook said prior to taking analysts’ questions that he “would like to take a minute to talk about my dear friend and colleague, Peter Oppenheimer,” who he noted “has been Apple’s CFO for ten years.”

Cook noted that Apple is now twenty times the size it was when Oppenheimer took the CFO job, adding that “his expertise, leadership and incredibly hard work have been instrumental to the company’s success.

“I want to thank him very publicly for his contributions to Apple, from the very bottom of my heart I wish him all the best at his approaching retirement at the end of September.

“And I’d also like to recognize him,” Cook added, “that he has never missed guidance as CFO, which must be an all time record for a CFO.”

Cook then noted, “we are really happy and fortunate to have someone with Luca’s talent on board to replace Peter. He has over five years of experience building and leading finance teams within companies, and has an exceptionally broad international background, which you might be able to detect from his accent.

“He’s been managing most of Apple’s financial operations since coming on board last year and has done an outstanding job. I’m looking forward to working with Luca even closer as Apple’s next CFO.”

A variety of Apple’s media critics jumped to tweet out that Oppenheimer never missed guidance only because he had “sandbagged” Apple’s guidance for years, perpetuating the idea that under Steve Jobs, there was a vast conspiracy to mislead the market into thinking that it would consistently make less money each quarter than it was subsequently able to earn, rather than the simpler explanation that Apple was conservative in predicting just how successful it could be as the company’s annual revenues grew from $8 billion to $171 billion over the past decade.

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Rumor: Apple’s ‘iPhone 6′ may sport curved edges, display glass

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 04:29 pm PT (07:29 pm ET)

A report on Wednesday claims Apple’s next-generation iPhone may employ a curved chassis design and accompanying display glass, a vast departure from the substantially squared-off design used on existing Apple handsets.

Squair’s “Curvaceous Bumper.” | Source: Squair

Citing a “trusted source,” Japanese blog Mac Otakara reports the so-called “iPhone 6″ will sport “rounded” edges and a curved display glass much like the design seen on Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The publication’s sources have a decent track record in predicting future Apple product designs, especially regarding displays and screen tech.

Aside from the Galaxy S III, Apple’s supposed iPhone design is akin to an existing iPhone bumper made by Japanese company Squair (seen above). The metallic bumper, made out of Duralumin, features a largely rounded-off edge that protrudes from the iPhone’s chassis. It is unclear if the iPhone 6 will boast such a severe curvature.

To accommodate the rounded edges, a slightly curved display glass is also said to be part of Apple’s design plans. Based on what can be gleaned from the report, it seems like the top glass will not feature a convex face, but rounded edges to sit flush with the chassis.

Finally, the iPhone 6 will do away with the dual glass-covered antenna windows seen on the back of iPhone 5 and 5s models, the source said. It is unknown what method of radio transmission will be utilized in the upcoming handset, though Apple will likely take steps to avoid another “antennagate” debacle.

Earlier this month, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a research note that Apple would release two new iPhones this year, a 4.7-inch version and a larger phablet-style 5.5-inch model. Kuo believes the 4.7-inch iteration will use a 1,334-by-750-pixel display with a resolution of 326 pixels per inch in a bid to maintain congruency with current apps. The 5.5-inch version would be a more traditional 1,920-by-1,080 pixels, which translates to 401ppi.

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Developers get new app content descriptions, rating systems in iTunes Connect update

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 07:23 pm PT (10:23 pm ET)

Apple on Tuesday sent out emails to developers notifying them of changes to iTunes Connect that may impact how the company rates their apps, including a new rating system for the Brazilian App Store and territory-specific restrictions.

According to the email, shared with AppleInsider by reader Gregg, Apple points out that developers can now choose from three new content descriptions for better search filtering. In addition, new ratings systems have been installed for certain international App Stores.

The added descriptions include “Medical/Treatment Information,” “Gambling and Contests,” and “Unrestricted Web Access,” the latter of which can be applied to apps with built-in Web browsers. Previously, the iOS App Store would assign higher age ratings for apps that granted users browser access due to the uncontrolled nature of the Web.

As for territory-specific restrictions based on rating, Apple said policies in the Korea, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia App Stores have changed. The modifications are already live and developers can see the current rating and possible restrictions on their wares in iTunes Connect.

Finally, the note discusses a new rating system for the Brazilian market. In compliance with local regulations, the Brazil App Store issues a region-specific rating for games. Ratings are generated automatically from existing app content descriptions and developers can check their app’s status on iTunes Connect or the app’s page in the Brazilian App Store.

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After putting Google on the hook for infringement of iPhone patents, Samsung lied about it

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 08:08 pm PT (11:08 pm ET)

Even more startling than the news from today’s trial that Google offered to indemnify Samsung for Android’s infringement of Apple’s iPhones patents is the fact that Samsung falsely stated in court filings that that it had not been “seeking indemnification from any third party.”

During today’s patent trial, Apple’s attorney Harold McElhinny drew attention to Samsung’s interrogatory response from September, 24 2012, where the company stated, “Samsung is not currently seeking indemnification from any third party.”

That set up McElhinny to next outline a video deposition with Google counsel James Maccoun, who in August 2013 outlined that Google and Samsung had actually formed an agreement where Google promised to defend Samsung from certain patent claims Apple was asserting.

Google’s defense of Android part of its MADA Samsung deal

According to the deposition, Maccoun was asked “Is there any agreement with Samsung to indemnify it for defense costs or liability related to this litigation?”

His response: “There is a Mobile Applications Development Agreement, and I understand that to be an agreement between Google Inc. and Samsung relating to indemnity and defense.”

Maccoun was then more pointedly asked, “Pursuant to that agreement that you just referred to, has Google agreed to indemnify Samsung for any liability or defense costs associated with this litigation?”

He replied, “So I understand that Google is defending Samsung and that this is reflected by emails. The — I think that’s probably a good way to characterize it.”

Samsung asks Google’s Andy Rubin for indemnification

Maccoun was then presented with “Exhibit 3, Letter to Andy Rubin from JaeHyoung Kim, 4/5/12,” an email dated several months after Apple sued Samsung in late 2011, but more than five months before Samsung presented answers that flatly denied any indemnification agreements.

Maccoun said the email was “the first request that I’m aware of” that outlined “an agreement between Google and Samsung” which included “provisions relating to defense and indemnification.”

Apple then presented Maccoun with “Exhibit 4,” a letter “from Allen Lo of Google, Deputy General Counsel Patents and Patent Litigation,” to Samsung’s JaeHyoung Kim, dated May 21, 2012.

The email, titled, “Apple litigation alleged patent infringement,” was described by Maccoun as “Google’s essentially offering to defend Samsung to the MADA and does offer to defend some — some claims.”

Apple counsel then drew attention to a line in the email stating, “We believe that Apple’s allegations in Apple Inc. Versus Samsung Electronics Company Limited, et al., Case Number 511CV00630LHK, regarding asserted U.S. Patent Number” [refers to the '959 patent and the '604 patent] “may fall within this obligation.”

Maccoun described that line as “Google is asking Samsung to tender the defense so that Google can defend Samsung,” explaining that “tender the defense” was a “legal term of art, more or less, allowing the indemnitor to control the litigation and defense.”

Samsung “tenders the defense” of Android infringement to Google

Asked, “Has Samsung tendered to Google the defense of the claims against the Quick Search Box with respect to the ’959 and ’604 patents?” Maccoun replied, “So far as I know, it has.”

Statements from Google’s attorney reveal that Samsung took Apple’s two separate 2011 lawsuits very seriously, and that it thought that Google should not only take responsibility for damages related to infringement of Apple’s patents, but should also “control the litigation and defense.”

Meanwhile, Samsung wrapped up its own patent offensive against Apple by claiming relatively minor damages related to two patents it bought in 2011 after being sued by Apple.

The first was patent Samsung aimed at Apple’s FaceTime. However the patent in question has not only already expired, but also covers the general concept of sending video “over low band width [sic] lines.” The 1990s filing refers to a feed where the “audio/visual signal can be NTSC, PAL or Y/C video.”

The invention covered by the patent was an old fashioned cellular system for broadcasting video named “FirstLook Video,” detailed in a 1993 brochure (above) that described it as “a Remote Unit about the size of airline carry-on luggage,” “an automated Host Unit the plugs into two telephone lines” and “a Player Unit that uses simple PC adapted operations.”

Samsung’s countersuit involves two patents it acquired after being sued by Apple, and stands in stark contrast to Apple’s patent offense, which focuses on four feature patents that Samsung meticulously detailed as features it needed in its own products in order to compete against Apple, including Slide to Unlock and Apple Data Detectors.

Samsung has refused to license the patents on Apple’s terms, which currently demand more than $2 billion in royalties and lost profits.

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