Apple Inc. will let customers in to their newest Apple Store at Grand Central station tomorrow, where so far access has been restricted and a sign out front simply states: “arriving soon.”
Apple Inc. and the MTA have been extremely cautious about releasing any details about the new store in advance of its grand opening tomorrow morning. Reporters have likened finding information on the store to uncovering privileged state secrets. MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told reporters that the MTA is not able to talk about the new Apple store at Grand Central because Apple wants the details to be kept secret.
In addition to all of the excitement Apple has stirred up by keeping the Grand Central Apple Store opening shrouded in secrecy, the company has drawn attention to themselves for the unusual deal they struck with the MTA. Apple will be the only store in New York’s Grand Central Station that does not pay the struggling MTA a portion of their revenue. Revenue sharing is not an uncommon practice for stores to engage in to get leases in locations with high foot traffic. Apple will pay $5 million to buy out the current lease that is held by a restaurant and has agreed not to make any major changes to the subway station’s historic features.
The idea of the Apple Store came from Steve Jobs’ desire to control the way his products were showcased and demonstrated. The unique design of each Apple store, where products are purchased on the floor and inventory is kept in hidden staff-only back rooms, has proven highly successful for the company. Despite an ailing economy Apple has managed to continue growing their empire and now has 357 Apple stores across the world.
US District Judge Lucy Koh made a decision today that will allow South Korean smartphone maker Samsung to continue shipping their popular devices into the United States, despite claims by Apple Inc. that components of some Samsung products violate patents held by Apple Inc. Details about the inner working’s of some of Apple’s relationships with other businesses and information on the smartphone market were accidentally revealed by the court in an electronic copy of the ruling that was posted online; soon after it was posted, the court realized their error and had the file sealed. A modified version appeared online just a few hours later.
The patent violation trial will go to court in 2013, but Judge Koh’s ruling will allow Samsung to continue the distribution of their Android OS based devices at least until then. It is not uncommon for legal documents in high-profile patent cases to be edited or to have parts “blacked out” before public release, so that companies are not forced to reveal trade secrets or private information that could otherwise be necessary for their case. Judge Koh has not denied Apple or Samsung any of their requests for documents to be kept secret and some critics say that too much is being hidden out of an abundance of caution rather than necessity.
Over 20 sections in Judge Koh’s 65-page ruling were blacked out. Due to a formatting error, the blacked out portions of the original document were not secure and anyone who wanted to could see them simply by copying and pasting the contents of the court-published PDF to a text editor.
Samsung and Apple have been fighting legal battles over alleged patent violations for years and have gone to court with each other over 20 times in 10 different countries worldwide. Samsung and Apple leagues ahead of other competitors and are in a close race for the majority share of the smartphone market. A win next year in US patent courts could give Apple the boost they need to get ahead of Samsung for good.
According to the redacted ruling, Apple has already licensed patents for scrolling data on touch-screen devices to IBM and Nokia. The ruling also showed market research by Apple that found Apple customers to be loyal enough not to switch over to Samsung products; Samsung’s growing market share would therefore be at the expense of other companies.
The data released by the ruling this morning did not expose much information about either company and is unlikely to have much affect on business going forward. Most of the data that was released could easily be found elsewhere.
Apple has been fighting a patent war in US courts for over two years, claiming that popular phones by HTC, Motorola and Samsung that run on the Android OS are almost exact replicas of Apple’s iPhone (which runs on the iOS). Tomorrow morning, the International Trade Commission will make a ruling on the validity of Apple’s claims, which could have major ramifications for all the companies involved (depending on which way the court’s favor sways). If the courts rule in Apple’s favor, the competitors will be forced to pay Apple to use their patents or stop making the infringing devices altogether.
HTC pulled in about $5 billion in the United States last year, due in no small part to the success of their Android phones. All in all, the company pulled in over $9.1 billion in sales worldwide last year.
According to court documents, the HTC Android-based phones violate four of Apple’s patents. According to a biography on Steve Jobs, the now deceased Apple founder was outraged by what he saw as a “wholesale” copy of his products and vowed to “destroy Android” as an operating system.
HTC representatives say that the company will survive the litigation no matter what the outcome is and that they already have “alternative solutions” to their current technology in case Apple wins in court. Google Incorporated, maker of the Android operating system, was not directly mentioned in the trademark violation filings; Google did state that is appears as though Apple is attempting to lock users in to using the iOS through an aggressive legal strategy. Apple responded in turn, stating that it is not their intent to suppress all of their competitors, only those who use Apple’s patented technology without paying royalties.
In court filings, Apple calls HTC a “foreign company” that is riding the coattails of Apple’s American inventors. A win for Apple could result in an import ban on phones that infringe Apple patents, but that outcome is not guaranteed.
Apple Inc. fired employee Samuel Crisp, who worked in the company’s Norwich store as an Apple “Genius” after he allegedly posted anti-Apple remarks on his private Facebook page. UK courts found that the firing was legal, setting yet another precedent in an area of the law where the boundaries of free speech and privacy are often muddled. Crisp posted on his Facebook page a number of anti-Apple remarks and was exposed to Apple by an associate that had access to his private Facebook page. Apple has a strict zero-tolerance policy for social media use in order to safeguard the company’s brand image in a world where low-ranking employees are often as visible (or more so) than their executive counterparts.
Crisp is not the first employee to get fired for posting remarks about a boss or an employer. A number of recent cases with similarities to Crisps have cropped up recently, as the legal system struggles to find where the freedom of expression starts and ends on the internet.
In a related incident, Dawnmarie Souza was fired from her job at American Medical Response after she went on social media to vent her frustrations at work, including a specific rant against her boss. Souza went to the National Labor Relations Board to file a formal complaint and won–The NLRB found that Souza was not legally fired due to legislation that protects workers’ right to free speech.
In order to justify firing an employee over remarks made on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, a company must set clear expectations and guidelines for social media use by employees.
Many Apple fans were disappointed when the iPhone 4S came out and lacked 4G internet, but Apple reportedly plans on introducing that technology in their iPad 3 and iPhone 5 devices that are due to come out next summer and fall respectively. The iPhone 4S is flying off store shelves faster than any of the previous iPhone generations and the iPad 2 continues its domination of the tablet PC marketplace. When Apple introduces 4G LTE internet to these devices in the next generation, competitors will have to match that advancement in order to have a chance at prying a reasonable piece of the market away from the Cupertino, California tech company.
Apple’s strategic plan to implement 4G into their next generation of iPads and iPhones coincides with the development of new technologies that will keep the 4G capabilities from wearing down batteries, a major concern for hardware developers; further, Verizon and AT&T will expand their LTE networks next year, providing more coverage to Apple users with 4G enabled phones.
Apple competitors Samsung and HTC already have 4G enabled phones, so Apple risks falling behind the technology curve if they don’t introduce it into their next line of devices, and soon.
Early adopters of the LTE 4G technology have had problems with low battery life and have found that the technology requires a copious amount of space, making for a very bulky, heavy phone. Apple probably opted to exclude LTE 4G for these reasons in order to make the iPhone 4S small, sleek and more effective. Apple products are known for being sleek, thin and light-weight, so it is likely that they are working on a solution those problems that the LTE 4G technology presents.
McAfee Inc. recently released a report that put the Apple iOS ahead of the Android operating system in terms of security and safety from malware and viruses. The statement that the Apple iOS is more secure than any other does not extend to those that are “jailbroken” or hacked by users to allow the device to operate outside their normal parameters. The main reason Apple iOS is more secure than all the rest: Apple heavily regulates the apps in their app store and users are only allowed to download apps on that platform.
The Apple App store can be accessed manually by users on their device, or remotely through the Mobile Device Management system that allows large organizations to manage the applications on a number of devices simultaneously.
Google’s Android operating system is more open to developers and a number of malicious applications find their way into the marketplace or can even be downloaded from third-party sites on the web.
McAfee says on the major differences between Apple and Google is that Apple takes a “proactive” approach to preventing viruses and malware, while Google’s approach is considerably more “reactive.” They also said that Google’s method of prevention is one that hackers and malware groups are familiar and “comfortable” with and allows criminals to stay one step ahead.
Smartphone users are facing an increasing number of risks says McAfee, who has seen viruses that are capable of recording phone conversations, turning on the users’ microphone and camera or track users on their phone’s built-in GPS system.